« PreviousContinue »
ing operateth upon Matter, we are not able distinctly to conceive or explain. But the Thing itself is paft all Doubt. An Image of God's Government of the material World, we have in our own Souls governing our Bodies, that little World, or material System, to which we are more immediately related. We only will, and it is done, an Arm, a Leg, the Tongue is moved in an Instant. We have also a Power over several Parts of the World about us, though not in so immediate a Way; a Power of moving, combining, separating the Parts of Matter, and applying them to various Uses, for answering our Neceffity, Convenience, or Pleasure. Man can, in many Instances, exert a wonderful Power in producing Effects in the material World. He can dig into the Bowels of the Earth, and extract Metals and Minerals; he can blow
up Rocks, and turn aside the Channels of Rivers. And we may reasonably suppose that there are other created Beings superior to Man, that have a much greater and more extensive Power over the material World than any Man, or all the Men upon Earth. So the Scriptures lead us to think concerning the Angels good or bad. And there is no Absurdity in supposing that a created Spirit might be made so powerful as to be D4
able to wield this whole earthly Globe, or any Part of it, by only willing to do so, with as much Ease as we move our Bodies, or any Limb of them. But still there must be an infinite Difference between the Power of any created, derivative, dependent Being, in ordering and governing the material World, and that of the supreme, self-existent, independent Jehovah, who is infinite, original, essential Life, Activity, and Intelligence. We find, in fact, with regard to the inanimate World about us, that it is subject to our Direction and Management only in a certain Proportion, and within a limited Sphere; and that even our own Bodies, which are more immediately under our Power, are subject to us no farther than according to the Laws which the Creator hath appointed. And as our Power, so that of every Creature, with respect to the material World, is limited ; but the Power of God hath no Bounds or Limits. Matter hath fome Influence upon us, and we are subject to Impressions from it, pleasant or painful; but the infinite Mind moveth, actuateth, and
actuateth, and governeth the whole Mass of Matter, without being himself impressed and affected by it; he governeth it, not as a Soul the Body to which it is vitally united, but as the abfolute Lord of his own Work, which he at first created, and which continually de
pendeth pendeth upon him for its Existence. Whát Use it may please him to make of inferior Spirits in moving and governing the material System, we cannot tell; but this we are sure of, that they all act in Subordination to him, and under his sovereign Direction, and that he still hath the whole in his own Hands, and is as immediately present to every Part of it, as if he made use of no Instrument at all.
This absolute Dominion of God over the material and inanimate World, and his making use of it to answer his most wise Purposes, is frequently represented in Scripture in a strong and noble Manner of Expression. This is what the Pfalmift fignifieth in the Words which I have chosen for the Subject of this Discourse, Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did be in Heaven, and in Earth, in the Seas, and in all deep Places. And then it follows: He caufeth the Vapours.to afcend from the Ends of the Earth; be maketh Lightnings for the Rain; he bringeth the Wind out of his Treasuries. Pfal. cxix. 91. speaking of the Frame of Heaven and Earth, he faith, They continue this Day according to thine Ordinances : for all are thy Servants, i. e. all Things in the World serve thy Purposes, and execute thy Pleasure. Hence God is represented as ifsuing out his Word and Commandment even to the inanimate Creation. Psal. cxlvii.
15. He fendeth forth his Commandment upon Earth; his Word runneth very fwiftly. And then it is added: He giveth Snow like Wool; be scattereth the Hoar-frost like Ashes. Or, as Elibu expresseth it, He saith to the Snow, Be thou upon the Earth; likewise to the fmall Rain, and to the great Rain of his Strength. Job xxxvii. 6. And Ver. 12, 13. the Cloud is said to be turned about by his Counsels, that they, i. e. the Snow, Rain, Meteors of which he had been speaking, may
do what foever he commandeth them upon the Face of the World in the Earth: He causeth it to come, whether for Correction, or for his Land, or for Mercy.
The inanimate Creation is itself incapable of Perception and Enjoyment. It cannot, therefore, be supposed to be ordained merely for its own Sake, but to serve the Uses of sensitive, perceptive Beings; and especially to answer the Purposes of God's moral Administration towards reasonable Creatures, particularly towards Mankind. It is in this Light that we are chiefly to consider God's Government of the inanionate material World, and to this it is that the Scripture principally directeth our Views.
As God perfectly knew from the Beginning all the Causes and Effects of Things in the natural World; fo, upon Supposition of his also fore-knowing the free Actions
of fons ;
of moral Agents, which Reason, as well as Scripture, leads us to acknowledge, it was not difficult for him to adjust the one to the other, so as to make up one great and universal Plan of Government, which is fuccessively executed in the proper Sea
and indeed none could exercise à perfect Government over the moral part of the Creation, but one who had also the material System under his Direction and Influence, and could manage it according to his Will.
Whilst Man continued in his State of Innocence, God in his Providence fuited the Constitution of Things in the natural World to that State ; which Constitution would no doubt have continued, if Mani had continued in his original Purity. But when he fell, and Sin entered into the World, God ordered it fo in his most wife governing Providence, that the State of Things in the natural World, the Constitution of the Earth and Air, as well as Body of Man, suffered an Alteration which bore the Tokens of the divine Displeasure against Sin. And yet, as Man is still continued here on Earth in a State of Trial and Discipline, there are many Things in the ordinary Course that plainly shew God's great Goodness and Patience, and Forbearance towards him ; the Design of which is to train him up in a Meetness