Images de page
PDF
ePub

1. The belief and consideration, that God is the Maker of heaven and earth, must necessarily beget in us the highest esteem, admiration, and adoration of him and his divine excellencies, &c.

2. It may produce in us hearty gratitude and humble affection towards God; since we ourselves, and all we have or enjoy, proceeded from him; and that with an especial good-will towards us.

3. It is also a great ground and motive to humility: for what is man in comparison with him who made heaven and earth, &c.

4. It is, farther, a proper inducement to trust and hope in God; a ground of consolation in every distress: for he that made all things can dispose of all: this enlarged on.

5. Finally, it ministers a general incitement to all obedience all other things obey his laws; and shall we, who are placed, as it were, at the top of nature, and whom all nature serves, shall we alone transgress against its author and governor? Conclusion.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

'Maker of Heaven and Earth,

SERMON XII.

ACTS, CHAP. IV.-VERSE 24.

O Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is.

It may be demanded, why besides that of Almighty, no other attribute of God is expressed in our Creed? why for instance, the perfections of infinite wisdom and goodness are therein omitted? I answer,

1. That all such perfections are included in the notion of a God, whom when we profess to believe, we consequently do ascribe them to him (implicitly.) For he that should profess to believe in God, not acknowleging those perfections, would be inconsistent and contradictious to himself. Deum negaret, as Tertullian speaks, auferendo quod Dei est. He would deny God by withdrawing what belongs to God.

2. The title Tavтокρáтwp, as implying God's universal providence in the preservation and government of the world, doth also involve or infer all Divine perfections displayed therein; all that glorious majesty and excellency, for which he is with highest respect to be honored and worshipped by us, which added to the name of God doth determine what God we mean, such as doth in all perfection excel, and with it doth govern the world.

3. I may add, thirdly, That the doctrine of God's universal providence being not altogether so evident to natural light as those attributes discovered in the making of the world, (more

having doubted thereof, and disputed against it with much more plausibility,) it was therefore convenient to add it; as a matter of faith clearly and fully (as we did show) attested unto by Divine revelation. So much may suffice to remove such a scruple concerning the fulness and sufficiency of the Creed in that particular. I proceed;

Maker of Heaven and Earth.

This clause is one of those which was of later times inserted into the Creed; none of the most ancient expositors thereof (Austin, Ruffin, Maximus Taurinensis, Chrysologus, &c.) taking any notice thereof. But Irenæus, Tertullian, and other most ancient writers, in their rules of faith, exhibit their sense thereof, and the Confessions of all General Councils (the Nicene, and those after it) express it. And there is great reason for it; not only thereby to disavow and decry those prodigious errors of Marcion, Manichæus, and other such heretics, which did then ascribe the creation of the world (or of some part thereof, seeming to their fancy less good and perfect) to another God, or Principle, inferior in worth and goodness to that God which was revealed in the gospel; or did opinionate two Principles, (not distinct only, but contrary one to the other ;) from one whereof good things did proceed, from the other bad things were derived but for that the creation of the world (which the holy Confessors of Christ do here in the text ascribe unto God) is that peculiarly august and admirable work, by which we learn that he is, and in good measure what he is; by which, I say, the existence of God is most strongly demonstrated, and in which his Divine perfections are most conspicuously displayed; which is the prime foundation of his authority over the world, and consequently the chief ground of all natural religion; of our just subjection, our reasonable duty, our humble devotion toward him: the tle, Creator of heaven and earth,' is that also, which most especially characterises and distinguishes the God whom we believe and adore, from all false and fictitious deities; for, as the psalmist sings, All the gods of the nations are but idols, but the Lord made the heavens:' and, 'Thou,' prayeth Hezekiah, art the God, thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth, thou hast made heaven and earth'

6

"

and, The gods,' saith the prophet Jeremiah, that have not made the heavens and the earth, they shall perish from the earth, and from under the heavens:' and, We preach unto you,' said St. Paul to the ignorant Lycaonians, 'that ye should turn from those vanities unto the living God, which made heaven and earth.' It is therefore a point, which worthily hath been inserted into all creeds, and confessions of our faith, as a necessary object of our belief; and it is indeed a subject no less wholesome and fruitful, than high and noble; deserving that we employ our best thoughts and most careful attention on it to the commemoration thereof God consecrated the great sabbatical festivity among his ancient people; nor should even the consideration of the great work concerning our redemption abolish the remembrance of it: to confer some advantage thereto, we shall now so discourse thereon, as first to propound some observations explicative thereof, and conducing to our information about it, then to apply the consideration thereof to practice.

6

We may observe that the ancient Hebrews, having, as it seems, in their language no one word properly signifying the world or universal frame and complex of things created, (that system, as the author de Mundo defines it, consisting of heaven and earth, and the natures contained in them,' *) did for to express it use a collection of its chief parts (chief absolutely in themselves, or such in respect to us,) the heaven, and the earth,' adding sometimes, because of the word earth its ambiguity, the sea also: yea sometimes, for fuller explication, subjoining to heaven its host, to earth its fulness, to the sea its contents. So,' In six days the Lord made heaven and earth,' saith Moses: and, 'Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord, (in Jeremiah :) and, 'It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than for one tittle of the law to fail,' saith our Saviour: and, God,' saith St. Paul, who made the world, and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth;' (where the world and all things therein do signify the same with heaven and earth; he first uses the word (world) which the Greek language afforded, then adds the circumlocution,

·

"

* De M. 2. Lips. Phys. St. ii. 7.

whereby the Hebrews did express it.) By heaven and earth therefore we are, I say, to understand those two regions superior and inferior, into which the whole system of things is divided, together with all the beings that do reside in them, or do belong unto them, or are comprehended by them; as we see fully expressed in our text and otherwhere; particularly with utmost distinction by the augel in the Apocalypse; who swears by him that liveth for ever, who created the heaven, and the things that are therein, and the earth, with the things that therein are, and the sea, with the things therein.'

·

By heaven then is undersood all the superior region encompassing the globe of earth, and from it on all sides extended to a distance unconceivably vast and spacious, with all its parts, and furniture, and inhabitants; not only such things in it as are visible and material, but also those which are immaterial and invisible; so we are plainly taught by St. Paul: ‘ : 'By him,' saith he,' were created all things, which are in heaven, and which are in earth, both those that are visible, and those that are invisible; whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him' that is, not only the material and sensible parts, or contents of heaven, (those bright and beautiful lamps exposed to our view, with the fluid matter, in which they may be conceived to float or swim,) but those beings of a more pure and refined substance, and thence indiscernible to our sense, however eminent in nature, mighty in power, exalted in dignity, whose ordinary residence and proper habitation (their idov oiKηTýρior, as St. Jude termeth it) is in those superior regions; in that they are courtiers and domestic officers of God,) whose throne, and special presence, or the place where he more peculiarly and amply discovereth himself, and displayeth his glory, is in heaven,) attending on him, and ministering to him; encircling his throne,' (as it is in the Revelation,) and always (as our Saviour telleth us) beholding his face;' even these all were made by God: the time indeed when, and the manner how those invisible sublime creatures were made, is not in the history of the creation, or otherwhere manifestly expressed, (because perhaps it doth exceed the capacity, or doth not suit the condition of man to understand them; or because it doth

6

« PrécédentContinuer »