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This leads us to consider the earth, and its wonderful provision for all its numerous inhabitants; and to take occasion, from every blessing we meet with, to observe and to adore the power, the wisdom, and the goodness of God, who hath made the earth so full of his riches, and who filleth all things living with plenteousness.
For example:-Let us take occasion, and bless God for the fruits of the earth, by which, through his blessing, our lives are sustained; the number of herbs for food and for physic. Let us give God thanks for the grass of the field, by which such a number of creatures are fed for the use of man. Let us take notice of the great variety of those creatures, which are made for our use; some for labour, some for food, some for clothing, some for our pleasure.
Who does not see, and feel, the surprising goodness of God, in providing so wonderfully for our ease and welfare? At the same time, let us remember, that our right in these creatures is not absolute; we hold them from God, and he can deprive us of them whenever he sees fit, and whenever we abuse them. And therefore the Spirit of God has given us this rule: The 'merciful man is merciful to his beast. And whoever abuses any of God's creatures, or tortures them, or destroys such as are neither hurtful while they are alive, nor of use when they are killed, will have more to answer for than men usually think of.
We look upon the mountains and hills, without considering, that without these the earth would be but an uncomfortable habitation; these
being made, by a merciful God, to supply the lower part of the earth with springs and rivers so pleasant, so comfortable, so useful to man and beast. Let therefore the water we drink and use put us in mind of that most kind God, who furnishes every country, and especially this of our's, with this necessary element.
The seas and floods are the next blessings which are called upon to bless and magnify their Maker; that is, we that enjoy these blessings are directed, when we see them, to praise God for the great benefits we receive by them. And indeed, if people who are encompassed by the sea, who cannot, unless they are very stupid indeed, but observe the wonderful laws God hath set it, its surprising ebbings and flowings; who see daily its great advantage to mankind, by the trade it enables men to carry on, and whereby every country has its wants supplied: whoever sees this, great will be their crime, and their judgment severe, if they do not admire, and adore, and praise God for this part of his creation; and especially for the vast provision with which the whole world almost is supplied.
Both great and small fish, whales, and all that move in the waters, do all of them give us an occasion of admiring and praising God.
[And here let me put you in mind of what I have often hinted to you, that though the blessings of the seas are innumerable, yet God keeps these blessings under his own especial direction, and gives or withholds them, just as he finds men disposed to receive them, with gratitude or unthankfulness. And pray remember the words
of Christ's disciples; Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing. And do not many of you, my good friends and neighbours,* do not you do the same too often? And what can you imagine may be the reason? Either you do not pray for, and give God thanks for his blessings; or you pray for the blessings of the seas, and take your own unlawful ways to procure such gains as God never will bless, never will prosper.
The fowls of the air are the next order of blessings which we are called upon to praise God for creating for our use and benefit.-And indeed their number, the variety of their use, and the beauty of some, is so wonderful, that the most ignorant cannot but see the great and good God in their creation.
And when we consider what our Saviour has told us, that not the meanest of these creatures but is under the care of God's providence; that a sparrow falleth not without his knowledge; we shall conclude two things especially: 1st, That we, the very meanest of us, are most certainly under his care and protection, and that nothing can befal us without his knowledge and permission. And 2dly, That the lives of his creatures are not to be wantonly taken away; but only (as we observed before) when they are hurtful to us while alive, or useful to us when killed.
When the children of men have recounted all these works of the Lord, then are they themselves called upon to bless the Lord, to praise
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him, and magnify him for ever. of the creation do glorify God in the way which he has appointed them; that is, they give men and angels an occasion of admiring, of loving, of adoring, and of praising the Maker of them.
Wherever we turn our eyes, (if we do but give ourselves leave to consider) we meet with occasions of praising God, either for his works of mercy, or of judgment. This was one great end of our creation, to consider, to understand, and to adore God, And the more we do this, the more we shall be disposed to love and to serve him sincerely.
But if all men in general are obliged to praise him, much more the Israel of God; all those to whom he has made himself, and his will, and laws, known; whom he has chosen for his peculiar people. These will be inexcusable, if they do not adore and praise the Lord who has been so good and kind to them.
And among these, the Priests of the Lord stand bound to glorify him, by all the obligations of duty and gratitude; and dreadful will be their punishment, if they do not so. For it is their business to make others sensible of the ways and works of God, of his mercies and judgments, his favours and corrections, and his designs in all his dealings with the children of men.
In short; all that call themselves the servants of the Lord, and are really so, will take all occasions of glorifying their Lord and Master, and endeavour and rejoice to see others do so also. And by doing so, they will join in spirit with all those holy souls of the righteous, who are in
paradise, waiting for a blessed resurrection, and who cease not to bless and praise God for his mercies to them when in this world, and to those whom they have left behind them.
Lastly; All the holy and humble men of heart, all that fear God, that are afraid to offend him; who, in imitation of those holy confessors Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, will lay down their lives, rather than provoke him who can destroy both body and soul in hell; all these will glorify God, for giving them grace and courage to do their duty to him, at the hazard of every thing that is dear to them.
We have seen, my Christian brethren, our duty, which is to observe the wonderful works of the creation, and to praise and magnify God; to acknowledge his hand in every thing, and upon all occasions: and this, in order to keep in our minds a constant sense of his glorious perfections, and of our whole dependence upon him, and an holy fear, and love, and reverence, of God in our hearts.
And indeed it is for want of this, that so many people forget their Maker, and grow careless, profane, unthankful, and wicked; because God is seldom or never in their thoughts. They will not take notice of the ways and works of God, and what daily reasons they have to love, and adore him. They receive his blessings, and will not acknowledge him; so that he gives them over to a reprobate mind, to a mind insensible and void of judgment.
To prevent this very great judgment, let us before I conclude, consider, how this duty, of