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lowed to merit immortality, are to be scattered like the fragrance in the air. When we are solicited by some urgent temptation, we are not to ask grace or assistance of God, but to recal to mind the beauty of virtue; as if present gratification could be resisted by abstract conceptions. Can this be expected by the found philosopher? Does not this betray an ignorance of human nature ? Is not this to forget that men often admire what they cannot love, and that action and speculation are very diftinct ? That this picture is not overcharged, must be evident to all who think coolly and impartially, Let us then turn from this dreary prospect, to the consolatory invitation of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ: Let us hold fast the profesion of our faith without wavering, and take heed that none of us entertain an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
ROMANS i. 20.
The invisible things of him from the creation of the
world were clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and
Godhead ; so that they are without excuse. THESE words of St. Paul, as well as various other passages of the Scriptures, affert the manifestations of an omniscient and omnipotent Creator in the phenomena of the natural world. The Apostle reprehends the errors of those speculative men, who, in the vanity of their imaginations, had lost sight of the most obvious truth, and had neglected to draw such inference from facts as could scarcely even efcape the vulgar ; professing themselves to be wise, they became fools: for even to the vulgar all created things must appear to have their origin from a supreme Being; because that which is known of God is manifest in them, for God hath shewed it unto them; because the invisible things of him from the creation of the
world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead. Before we can entertain
faith in the Chriftian revelation, it is necessary for us to poffess a firm conviction of the doctrine of a particular providence, which constitutes the basis of revelation. It will therefore be requisite, in the following discourse, to thew that the operation of God in the natural world is perpetual and uninterrupted; and we must fo adjutt the statement of facts, that may be understood how far he employs second causes; how subservient, and how extremely limited these are; and that they never ought to be mistaken for. their Author, whose vigilance is ever actively superintendant; by whom all things live, and move, and have their being a ; who made the heaven, and the heaven of heavens, with all their hosts; the earth, and all things that are therein, and who preserveth them all, and whom all the hosts of heaven worship.
The grand principle of religion is the being of a God, from which all our obligations and our duties flow. But it is of the highest importance, as the ground of the Christian faith, that we should acquire, not only a conviction
a Acts xvii. 28.
of the being, but also of the particular providence of the Deity. We must believe that he is immediately concerned in the works of nature and of grace: for it has been the constant aim of Deists to lefsen our confidence in the immediate interposition of a God; and since they have not dared to deny his being, they have laboured to represent him as an impassive spectator of all the affairs of the natural world. Suppose the contrary; admit God to be anxious for the happiness and welfare of man, and all his works of creation; and all the systems and arguments of the sceptic lose their foundation. The doctrines of our blessed Lord on this head are so express, that we cannot hefitate to place implicit confidence in the superintendence of a particular providence. For, not to insist on all his recommendations of faith and of
prayer; his promises of spiritual aid, and of a divine Comforter ; he tells us, that the very hairs of our head are all numbered b; that not a Sparrow falls to the ground without our Fatherc. And he grounds our trust in the Gospel promises on this principle. When he informs us, that we ought not to be over solicitous about temporal affairs,
b Matt. X. 3:
c Ver. 29.