« PrécédentContinuer »
created: nor was there any pre-existent unformed matter of it. It is a poor shallow conceit of any such thing needful to the Almighty. It is even a monstrous absurd conceit of any such thing possible, and destroys itself; for if this framed world could not have a being from eternity, much less frameless matter, so of necessity all things were made of nothing; received a being from the infinite being as the spring of all being. His hands stretched forth the Heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth. His fingers set them all in this sweet and admirable order, in a beautiful frame.
Now these expressions are suited to our reach, but the truth is his finger and whole hand are all one, and his hand is his word. And his word is his all powerful and eternal will; that is the breath of his mouth, and his stretched out arm. He said, i. e. He willed it, and it was so. When as there was no man nor angel, no Heaven nor earth, no time nor being, but the alone blessed Trinity, eternally self happy; upon the simple act of his absolute will came forth this whole frame, out of the womb of omnipotence. And this is that certain. truth we believe under the name of Creation.
This supposed, it is very easy to conceive; yea it is impossible to question it, that it had been as easy for that power to have brought forth all in complete perfection at one instant, as to have divided the work into six days. And as we cannot think it easier, so we cannot but think it better, since he chose; yea, because he chose it as for that reason better. Well may his will be sufficient cause why that way of his production of all was better, seeing his will was purely the cause of the production and being of all.
But in part we may observe some advantage in that way, that he made so many days work of it, and proceeded by degrees to bring it to perfection; that we might the more clearly perceive and more distinctly consider the greatness and excellency of
Psalm xxxiii. 6. Gen. i. 3.
the work, and wise contrivance of it in the parts and progress; which we could not so well comprehend altogether. Now we consider him first framing one great mass, and then proceeding to beautify it, first with that which is indeed the first beautifier of all things, light; and then ordering the successive interchange of it with its opposite darkness, that sets it off and makes its beauty appear the more, giving them their terms in day and night then proportioning and dividing the rooms of the great house into upper and lower according to his model and design, then decorating them with rich furniture and providing all kind of store in great variety and abundance. And thus, having first prepared all, having built, beautified and replenished so stately a palace, then framed he the guest for whom he intended it, and appointed to dwell in it. Then he said, let us make man after our image. Thus the work of itself and the order of it, and all the parts carry on them HIS name that formed them. How do his power and wisdom and goodness, appear in them! and yet how little do we see and observe it! It shines bright in all his works, but we are blind, we look on them and see him not. O! what a childish trifling thing is man in all his ways, till he learn to remark God in all, and have his soul upon all occasions musing and admiring, and sweetly losing itself in God that immense sea of excellencies. What a bottomless wonder is that power, from which by a simple act of will issued forth all being! This vast fabric and all things in it He willed they should be, and where never any thing was, there appeared on a sudden Heaven and earth. The earth settled upon his word that it cannot be moved, and enriched with such a variety of plants, and flowers, and fruits growing forth, and springs and mines within the bowels of it; the seas fitted for navigation, and the multitudes of creatures in it, small and great, and the impetuousness of it, yet confined and forced to roll in its channel, but cannot go forth; the small
sands giving check to the great waters. Oh! how strong and large that hand, that without help expands the Heaven as a curtain. Look up and see, consider their height and roundness, such a glorious canopy set with such sparkling diamonds; then think how swift is their motion and yet imperceivable to us, no motion here below comparable, and yet seem not to stir at all. And in all, their great Lord and ours, so conspicuous! And yet who looks on them with such an eye, as to behold him as David here, "When I consider thy Heavens the work, &c." He is admirable in all, the very lowest and smallest creatures have their wonders of divine wisdom in their frame, more than we are able to think; Magnus in minimis. He is great in the least of his works the smallest flies, how strange the fashioning of organs of life and use in so little room. The man who is still in search of wisdom will find a school and a lesson in all places, and see every where the greatness and goodness of his God. If he walk forth in the evening when this lower world is clothed with the dark mantle of the night, yet still he can look upwards to the pavement of the throne of God, and think how glorious it is on the other side, when the moon and stars make this side even in the night so beautiful. And this of David's looks like a night meditation by the view of moon and stars; thy Heavens, these thy works so glorious, thou therefore infinitely more glorious; then can I not but increase in wonder, that, dwelling above these Heavens, thou regarded so poor a worm as man creeping on this earth.
What is man? "Enosh," weak, mortal man; "Ben-Adam," the son of earth; the earthly man. David was so taught to look on his mean part and low condition, and on his better as follows, ver. 5. a sort of divinity being freely conferred upon him.
Thus men should learn in all to view themselves in this twofold light, by the grace of God I am that I am, saith St. Paul, &c. Truly man is a
wretched and proud creature, a bundle of vanity and vileness; and yet thinks himself some great matter, while God is hid from him, and he is ignorant of HIS greatness.
No discourse, nor reasoning, will humble the foolish heart of man, though he be even of the most worthless and basest sort of men, and hath in this condition nothing but what is despicable; yet he flatters himself with some fancy or other; some imagined advantage that swells him, and he cannot be truly vile in his own eyes till they look up to the excellency of God; and return from that down upon himself. Then he is forced to bow and fall low, and abhor himself in dust and ashes. Once he was wise, and powerful, or some way deserving (as he thought) to be respected; but now the glory and sublimity of God makes him to be as nothing in his own eyes. What is man! &c. &c. David, a great and good man, a king, and a prophet, and yet a man viewing and comparing himself with his own eyes, in respect of the great king of all the world, he cries out, what is man, that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou visitest him? These words deserve to be considered; mindest him in all these things, the works above him, even the framing these heavens, the moon and stars, designing his good, makest all attend and serve him. It is not an empty visiting of him, but see'st all his necessities, and providest for them. He sets his heart on man, and all his delight with man.
But, above all visits, that visit is to be remarked and admired, when the Eternal. Word, by whom this world was made, came down, and was made flesh; came from his glorious palace, from the bosom of the Father, to visit man in that deep and profound abyss of misery into which he was fallen; and to lift him out of it, and cleanse, and cloath and dignify him; to make slaves of Satan sons of a Prov. viii. 7.
b Prov. viii.
God. And the Psalmist points at Christ, as the following words are applied. This is a descending indeed that the angels are still prying into, looking into for the bottom, and cannot see it, for it hath none. Oh! disregarded Christ, and his love slightedd! He was in the world, &c. He, the same who became like us, and united our flesh to his blessed deity; did give a being to all things, and by him all things consist.
Our Head and Saviour is no less than the mighty power of the world. He, who is our flesh, had his arms wrapped up in swaddling cloaths, and afterwards stretched upon the cross. He it was that stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth. The weight of the love of so great a king should press us low; and then the persuasion of his almighty power assures us of complete rèdemption; for our salvation is in a sure and strong hand. We have a mighty Redeemer; Thy maker is thy husband, the Lord of hosts is his name, and thy Redeemer the holy one of Israel, the God of the whole earth shall he be called.
"When I behold," says the Psalmist.
The carnal mind sees God in nothing, not in spiritual things, his word and ordinances. The spiritual mind sees him in all, even in natural things; in looking on the heavens and the earth, and all the creatures; Thy heavens, sees all in that notion; their relation to God, his work, and in them his glory appearing; stands in awe to abuse his creatures, and his favours to his dishonour. The day is thine, and the night also is thine, therefore ought not I to forget thee through the day, nor in the night.
All that I use, and all that I have, is not mine, but thine; and therefore all for thee. Thou art my aim and scope in all; therefore, God quarrels with his people, because they had forgot this. The most are strangers to these thoughts; can eat, drink, and sleep, lie down and rise up, and pass one day after Hos. ii. 8, &c.
c Heb. ii. VOL. II.
d John i. 10.