« PreviousContinue »
admirable counsel and wisdom. As any curious work,
Now I Thall endeavour to prove to you, that this frame of things which we see with our eyes, which we call the world or the creation, is contrived after the best manner, and hath upon it evident impreffions of counsel and wisdom. "I grant the wisdom of God is infinite, and that many of the ends and designs of his wisdom are unsearchable, and past finde ing out, both in the works of creation and provi. dence : and that tho:igh a wise man seek to find out the work of God from the beginning to the end, he Shall not be able to do it and we shall never be able to exhaust all the various wisdom and contrivance which is in the works of God; though the oftner, and the nearer we meditate upon them, the more we shall see to admire in them ; the more we study this book of the creation, the more we shall be astonished at the wisdom of the author : but this doth not hinder, but that we may discover something of the wisdom of God, though it be infinite. As the effects of infinite power inay fall under our senses, so the designs of infinite wisdom may fall under our reason and understanding; and when things appear to our best reason plainly to be ordered for the best, and the greatest advantages of the world and mankind, so far as we are able to judge ; and if they had been otherwise, as they might have been a hundred thousand ways, they would not have been so well ; we ought to conclude, that things are thus, and not otherwise, is the result of wisdom.
Now the wisdom of God in the creation will appear by considering the works of God. Those who
have studied nature, can discourse these things more exactly and particularly. It would require perfect skill in aftronomy, to declare the motions and order of heavenly bodies ; and in anatomy, to read lectures of the rare contrivance of the bodies of living creatures. But this, as it is beyond my ability, fo it would probably be above most of your capacities; therefore 'I shall content myself with some general and more obvious instances of the divine wisdom, which shine forth so clear in his works, that he that runs may read it.
1. I shall take a short survey of the several parts of the world.
2. Single out man, the master-piece of the visible creation.
1. If we survey the world, and travel over the several parts of it in our thoughts, we shall find that
all things in it are made with the greatest exactness, -ranged in the most beautiful order, and serve the wifest and best ends.
If we look up to heaven, and take notice only there of what is most visible, the sun, you see, how by the wise order and constancy of its course it makes day and night, winter and summer. This the Psal. mist takes notice of, Psal. xix. 1, 2. The heavens declare she glory of God ; and the firmament jeweth his bandy. work. Day unto day uttereth speech; and night unto night Meweth knowledge. It may eafily be imagined many ways, how the fun might have had another course in reference to the earth , but no man can devise any other, that should not be
very much to the prejudice of the world ; so that this being the best, it is an argument that wisdom had the ordering and disposing of it.
If we look down to the earth, we shall see gods ascending and descending ; I mean clear representarions of divine wisdom in the treasures that are hid in the bowels of it, and those fruits that grow upon the furface of it. What valt heaps, and what variety of useful materials and minerals are scattered up and down in the earth as one would think with a careless band, but yet so wisely dispersed, as is most
for the necessities and uses of several coun. tries ! Look upon the surface of the earth, and you shall find it cloathed and adorned with plants of various and admirable frame, and beauty, and usefulness. Look upon the vast ocean, and there you may see the wisdom of God in bridling and restraining that unruly element, I mean, in finking it below the earth ; whereas the water might have been above and covered the earth, and then the earth had been in a great measure useless, and incapable of those in habitants which now possess it.
Look again upon the earth, and in the air, and sea, and you shall find all these inhabited and fure nished with great store of living creatures of several kinds, wonderfully made in the frame of their bodies, endued with strong inclinations to increase their kinds, and with a natural affection and care towards their
young ones and every kind of these creatures armed either with strength or wit to oppose their enemy, or swiftness to fly from him, or strong holds to secure themselves. But the creation is a vast field, in which we may easily lose ourselves. I shall therefore call home our wandering thoughts, for we need not go out of ourselves for a proof of divine wisdom. I shall therefore,
2. Select the choicest piece of it, man, who is the top and perfection of this visible world. What is faid of the elephant, or behemoth, Job xl. 19. in re. spect of the vast bigness and strength of his body, is only absolutely true of man, that he is divini pificii caput, the chief of the works of God, and upon earth there is none like him. Man is mundi utri. usque nexus, the bond of both worlds, as Scaliger calls him, in whom the world of bodies, and the world of spirits do meet, and unite ; for in respect of his body, he is related to this visible world, and is of the earth ; but in respect of his soul, he is allied to heaven, and descended from above. We haye looked above us, and beneath us, and about us, upon the several representations of God's wis. dom, and the several parts of the creation buc we have not yet considered the best piece of the VOL. VI, I i
visible world, which we may speak of, without flattery of ourselves, and to the praise of our Maker. God when he had made the world, he made man after his own image. When he had finished the other part of the creation, he was pleased to fet up this picture of himself in it, as a memorial of the workman. Now we shall a little more particularly consider this piece of God's workmanship, being it is better known, and more familiar to us, as it is more excellent than the rest, and consequentJy a higher instance of the divine wisdom. It is obferved by fome, that concerning the parts of the creation, God speaks the word, Let there be light,' and Let there be a firmament, and there was so : but when he comes to make man, he doth, as it were, deliberate, and enter into consultation about him. And God said, let us make man in our i. mage, after our likeness; and let him have dominion, Gen. i. 26. as if man, above all the rest, were the effect and result of divine wisdom, and the creature of his counsel.
Man may be considered either in himself, and in respect of the parts of which he consists, soul and body; or with relation to the universe, and other parts of the creation.
1. Consider him in himself, as compounded of foul and body. Consider man in his outward and worse part, and you shall find that to be admirable, even to astonishment; in respect of which, the Psalmist cries out, Psal. cxxxix. 14. I am fearfully and wonderfully made ; marvellous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well. The frame of our bodies is so curiously wrought, and every part of it fo full of miracle, that Galen (who was otherwise backward enough to the belief of a God) when he had anatomised man's body, and carefully surveyed the frame of it, viewed the fitness and usefulness of every part of it, and the many several intentions of every little vein, and bone, and muscle, and the beauty of the whole ; he fell into a pang of deyotion, and wrote a hymn to his Creator. And those excellent books of his, de ufu partium,
of the usefulness and convenient contrivance of every part of the body, are a moft exact demonstration of the divine wisdom, which appears in the make of our body ; of which books, Gassendus faith, the whole work is writ with a kind of enthusiasm The wisdom of God, in the frame of our bodies, very much appears by a curious consideration of the several parts of it ; but that requiring a very accurare skill in anatomy, I chuse rather wholly to forbear it, than by my unskilfulness to be injurious to the divine wisdom.
But this domicilium corporis, the house of our body, though it be indeed a curious piece ; yet it is nothing to the noble inhabitant that dwells in it. This cabinet, though it be exquisitely wrought, and very rich ; yet it comes infinitely short in value of the jewel that is hid and laid up in it! How does the glo. rious faculty of reason and understanding exalt us above the rest of the creatures ! Nature hath not made that particular provision for man, which it hath made for other creatures, because it hath pro
vided for him in general, in giving him a mind and · reason. Man is not born cloathed, nor armed with
any considerable weapon for defence ; but he hath reason and understanding to provide these things for himself; and this alone excells all the advantages of other creatures : he can keep himself warmer and safer ; he can foresee dangers, and provide against them ; he can provide weapons that are better than horns, and teeth, and paws, and by the advantage of his reason, is too hard for all other creatures, and can defend himself against their violence.
If we consider the mind of man yet nearer, how many arguments of divinity are there in it! That there should be at once in our understandings distinct comprehensions of such variety of objects ; that it should pass in its thoughts from heaven to earth in a moment, and retain the memory of things past, and take a prospect of the future, and look forward as far as eternity! Because we are familiar to ourselves, we cannot be strange and wonderful to ourselves ; I iz