Page images

but the great miracle of the world, is the mind of man, and the contrivance of it an eminent instance of God's wisdom.

2. Consider man with relation to the universe, and you

Ihall find the wisdom of God doth appear, in that all things are made so useful for man, who was designed to be the chief inhabitant of this visible world, the guest whom God designed principally to entertain in this house which he built. Not that we are to think, that God hath so made all things for man, that he hath not made them at all for him. self, and possibly for many other uses than we can i. magine ; for we much over-value ourselves, if we think them to be only for us ; and we diminish the wisdom of God, in restraining it to one end : but the chief and principal end of many things is the use and service of man ; and in reference to this end, you shall find that God hath made abundant and wise provision.

More particularly we will consider man,

1. In his natural capacity, as a part of the world. How many things are there in the world for the service and pleasure, for the use and delight of man, which, if man were not in the world, would be of little use ? Man is by nature a contemplative creature, and God has furnished him with many objects to exercise his understanding upon, which would be so far useless and lost, if man were not. Who should observe the motions of the stars, and the courses of those heavenly bodies, and all the wonders of nature : Who should pry into the secret vir. tues of plants, and other natural things, if there were not in the world, a creature endued with reason and understanding? Would the beasts of the field study astronomy, or turn chymists, and try experiments in nature

What variety of beautiful plants and Aowers is there, which can be imagined to be of little other use but for the pleasure of man.

And if man had not been, they would have lost their grace, and been trod down by the beasts of the field, without pity or observation ; they would not have


[ocr errors]

made them into garlands and nosegays. How many forts of fruits are there which grow upon high trees, out of the reach of beasts! and indeed they take no pleasure in them. What would all the vast bodies of trees have served for, if man had not been to build with them, and make dwellings of them ? Of what use would all the mines of metal have been, and of coal, and the quarries of stone? Would the mole have admired the fine gold? Would the beasts of the forest have built themselves palaces, or would they have made fires in their dens

2. Consider man in his geographical capacity, as I may call it, in relation to his habitation in this or that climate or country. The wisdom of God hath so ordered things, that the necessities of every country are supplied one way or other. Egypt hath no rains; but the river Nilus overflows it, and makes it, fruitful. Under the line, where there are excessive heats, every day there are constant gales and breezes. of cool wind, to fan and refresh the scorched inhabitants. The hotter countries are furnished with ma. terials for filk, a light cloathing; we that are cooler here in England, with materials for cloth, a warmer cloathing; Russia and Muscovy, which are extreme cold, are provided with warm furrs, and skins of beasts.

3. Consider man in his capacity of commerce and intercourse. Man is fociable creature; besides the advantages of commerce with remoter nations, for supplying every country with those conveniencies and commodities, which each doth peculiarly afford. And here the wisdom of God does plainly appear, in disposing the sea into several parts of the world, for the inore speedy commerce and intercourse of several nations. Now if every country bad brought forth all cominodities, that had been needless and superfluous, because they might have been had without commerce; besides, that the great encouragement of intercourse among nations, which is so agreeable to human nature, would haye been taken away : If

every country had been, as now it is, destitute of many things other couupies haye, and there had been no sea to li 3


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

give an opportunity of traffick, the world had been very defeđive as to the use of man. Now here appears the wisdom of God, that the world, and all things in it, are contrived for the best.

Thus I have endeavoured to do something toward the displaying of God's wisdom in the workmanship of the world; although I am very sensible how much I have been mastered and oppressed by the greatness and weight of so noble an argument. For who can declare the works of God! and who can sew forth all his praise !

The use I shall make of what has been said, shall be in three particulars :

1. This confutes the Epicureans, who impute the world, and this orderly and beautiful frame of things to chance. Those things which are the proper ef. fects of counsel, and bear the plain impreflions of wisdom upon them, ought not to be attributed to chance. What a madness is it to grant all things to be as well made, as if the wisest agent upon counsel and design had contrived them; and yet to ascribe them to chance! Now he that denies things to be so wisely framed, must pick holes in the creation, and shew some fault and irregularity in the frame of things, which no man ever yet pretended to do. Did ever any anatomist pretend to shew how the body of a man might have been better contrived, and fitter for the uses of a reasonable creature than it is, or any astronomer to rectify the course of the sun ? As for the extravagant and blafphemous fpeech of Alphonsus, That if he had stood at God's elbow when be made the world, he could have told him how to bave made it better ; besides his pride, it shews nothing but his ignorance; that he built his astronomy upon a false hypothesis, as is generally believed now by the learned in that science; and no wonder he found fault with the world, when he mistook the frame of it : But those who have been most versed in nature, and have most pried into the secrets of it, have molt admired the workmanfhip both of the great world, and the less. But if we must suppose the world to be as well made


[ocr errors]

as wisdom could contrive it, which is generally granted; it is a monstrous folly to impute it to chance. A man might better say, Archimedes did not make a. ny of his engines by skill, but by chance; and might more easily maintain, that Cardinal Richlieu' did not manage affairs by any arts or policy, but they fell out by mere chance. What pitiful shifts is Epicurus put to, when the best account he can give of the world, is this ; That matter always was, and the parts of it in motion, and after a great many trials, the parts of matter at length hampered themselves in this fortunate order wherein they now are's that men, at first, grew out of the earth, were nourished by the navel-ftring, and when they were strong enough, broke loose and weaned themselves : that the nostrils were made by the waters making themselves a pasage out of the body; and the stomach and bowels by the waters forcing a passage downwards, that the members of the body were not made for those uses for which they serve, but chanced to be so, and the uses afterwards found out. Is it worth the while to advance sạch senseless opini. ons as these, to deny the wisdom of God? Is it not much easier, and more reasonable to say, that the wisdom of God made all these things, than to trouble ourselves to imagine how all things should happen thus conveniently by chance? Did you ever know any great work, in which there was variety of parts, and an orderly difpofition of them required, done by chance, and without the direction of wisdom and counsel? How long time might a man take to jumble a set of four and twenty letters together, before they would fall out to be an exact poem; yea, or to make a book of tolerable sense, though but in profe? How long might a man sprinkle oil and colours upon canvas, with a careless hand, before this would produce the exact picture of a man? And is a man easier made by chance than his piąure ? He that tells me that this great and curious frame of the world was made by chance, I could much more believe him if he should tell me that Henry the VIl's chapel in Weftminster was not built by any mortal man,' but the ftones did grow in those forms into which they seem


[ocr errors]

to us to be cut and graven; that the stones; and tim. ber, and iron, and brass, and all the other materials came hither by chance, and upon a day met all happily together, and put themselves into that delicate order, in which we see them so close compacted, that it must be a great chance that parts them again. Now, is it not much easier to imagine how a skilful workman should raise a building, than how timber and ftones, and how that variety of materials, which is required to a great and stately building, should meet together all of a just bigness, and exactly fitted, and by chance take their places, and range themselves in. to that order ? I insist the longer upon this, because I am sensible how much atheism hath gained in this age.

2. Let us admire and adore, and praise the wifdom of God, who hath established the world by his wisdom; and stretched out the heavens by his under. Atanding; who hath made all things in number,

weight and measure; that is, by exact wisdom. The _ 'wise works of God are the proper object of our praise; and this is a day proper for the work of praise and thanksgiving. Now under the gospel, fince Christ was clearly revealed, we have new matter of praise and thanksgiving; but as God has given us Christ, so he hath given us beings. We are not so to remember our Redeemer, as to forget our Creator. The goodness, and power, and wisdom of God, which appears in the creation of the world, ought still to be matter of admiration and praise to Chriftians. It is a great fault and neglect among Christians, that they are not more taken up with the works of God, and the contemplation of the wisdom which shines forth in them. We are apt enough to admire other things, little toys; but we overlook this vast curious engine of the world, and the great Artificer of all things. It was truly said by one, that most men are so stupid and inconsiderate, as to admire the works of a painter or a carver more than the works of God. There are many that have bestowed more eloquence in the praise of a curious picture, or an exact building, than ever they did upon this noble and


« PreviousContinue »