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guments of the divine goodness. For what could have induced him to create, and call out of the womb of nothing such an infinitude of felf-confcious and intelligent Beings, but that he might have fit objects to communicate fome portion of his happinefs to?-Uninterrupted experience muft convince all, who have not extinguished every fpark of gratitude within them, that such was the benevolent defign of God: fo fearfully and wonderfully are we made that our prefervation feems to be little less than one continued feries of miracles.
Not only our fenfes are all made capable of pleasure from external objects; but our fouls enjoy a kind of delegated power of creating objects, which, though they exift but in thought, impart the highest and most exquifite entertainment and fatisfaction to our rational, immortal, and spiritual nature. Short-fighted man! canst thou look no further than thy natural parents for these distinguishing gifts?—The very contexture and symmetry of thy bones were as abfolutely hid from them, when they were the casual instruments of thy existence, as though they had been made fecretly, and fashioned beneath in the earth.-Did their eyes fee, or their contrivance mould thy fubftance, yet being imperfect, or in their book were all thy members defigned, which day by day were fashioned, when as yet there were none of them?
Could they, from whose foul every veftige of original rectitude was perhaps obliterated by habitual immorality; could they impart to thee a mind, on which the distinction of just and unjust, virtue and vice, is fo deeply engraven, that the moment thy natural faculties enabled thee to look inwards, thou faweft the great out-lines of univerfal duty?—No ;-this must be an emanation from uncreated excellence; the Divinity himself that ftirs within us, and intimates his own eternal justice.—Nay, the more important those duties are which our future exiftence may require, the greater is their evidence and clearness; and the more vigorously do cur natural fentiments
excite us to the practice of them. Such are the duties of gratitude, charity, and compaffion: fuch are the amiable obedience and love of children to their parents.
Can reafon be so depraved as to admit the fuppofition, that God formed us thus, without intending we fhould live fuitably, or be accountable to himfelf?-The confcience of all mankind, the fears and remorfe which infeparably accompany every wilful deviation from the law written in our hearts; that felf-applauding fatisfaction which is the companion of virtue :-These fentiments, of which we ourfelves are not mafters, clearly demonftrate, that the great author of them is perfect in holiness, juftice, and mercy, the fame in nature though different in degree: because his vicegerent confcience approves, or condemns us, in proportion as we obey the dictates of those immutable virtues.What then, if, in his difpenfations with the fons of men, his justice be fometimes hidden behind the veil of his providence; yet muft it be clearly feen, as being understood by his works in the human foul from the creation of the world.
What can we say suitable to the dignity of the fubject ?-Thou inexhaustible fountain of infinite perfection! God the Lord every where revealed !—Shall we contemplate thee in things above, or in things below?-Thou haft made all, and the universe is but a transcript of thyself. "Blefs the Lord, fays David, all his works, ye "heavens, waters, winds, thunder, rains, rivers, and feas; and chiefly thou, O my foul, praise his holy name for ever."
To offer all the proofs which this fubject would admit of, would be to atteft every atom in creation; a labour as fuperfluous, as it is endless; fince even favages by the mere force of innate religion can spell something of a Deity in every page, in every line of the vast volume of the universe.
The most barbarous nations have had different ideas of God, different indeed according as their different imaginations could make room to entertain them. In every part of the habitable
world, the natives have always had, and ftill profess fome fort of religion, have proper times fet apart for prayer, facrifices, and other holy rites and ceremonies; and though they differ according to the various countries in which they are obferved; yet all agree to own, at least to mean one all-knowing, all-powerful, and Supreme Being: and the very diverfity of them is an undeniable argument that this notion is co-extenfive with human nature, and not the effect of example or tradition.
Within these two last centuries several confiderable places have been found out, and the curious traveller is daily making new difcoveries; and though in fome places the barbarous natives have no eftablished laws for the punifhment of vice, or the reward of virtue; but live in the open air, ignorant of all the arts of life; yet even these have certain indifputable notions, though dark and imperfect, both of God and religion; as if it was even more natural to mankind to acknowledge the Deity than to form themselves into focieties, to fecure from the injuries of the weather, or make provifion for their daily fubfiftence.
Unfophifticated reason, however weak and unimproved, has, in the most barbarous nations, been ever capable of inferring this prime and fundamental principle. Such univerfal confent, prior to all inftruction, must be admitted to be the voice of nature. And though many of the heathen philosophers, in the pride of difputation, affected to deny almost every popular tenet; yet we do find but few even nominal Atheists recorded in the annals of the antients; and these, it appears, rather expofed the numerous train of falfe deities, than denied the existence of a true God: as many amongst us content themselves with knowing what is falfe, without enquiring what is true; and ridicule fuperftition, without examining into the merits of their most holy religion.
The sceptics were the only perfons who profeffedly fufpended their affent to the being of a God: but they affected even a doubt
of what was immediately evident to fenfe; the real existence of what they faw and felt;-nay, of their own bodies.
Our modern sceptics talk much in the fame trifling ftrain.-How, fay they, can we acknowledge a God, when we never faw him? -Ridiculous!-Do not you, though blind or in a dungeon, believe there is a fun?-And when God is to be feen in every pile of grafs, or atom of dust, can you doubt of his existence ?-Do you not, on the first fight of a tree, naturally fuppofe it has a root, though the earth covers it? Do you not trace a river to its head, though never fo distant from it?-Suppose you were travelling through fome defert and in your progrefs fhould caft your eyes on a regular cottage, would you not readily infer, that the place had once been inhabited, from the visible marks of human contrivance?—And when you take. a furvey of a multiplicity of objects furpaffing the most exalted conceptions of men, muft you not conclude;" This is the Lord's
doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?"-How many things do we firmly believe, which we do not fee?-Do we not allow that plants and animals have a fort of fouls, though we cannot discover their hidden qualities and originals?-That we have a rational faculty, whereby we contemplate on ourselves and our fellow-creatures ?—Now since both the external and internal parts of the body are the fame after death as they were before, where is the foul?-When did you fee it?-If in its effects, in that sense we fee God. You difcern nothing but with your eyes, and by the influence of your foul, which is of too refined a nature to be difcerned by human fight. You believe you have a face; yet you can only fee the resemblance of it in a glass; and will you not believe there is a God, the bright characters of whofe divinity are fo legible in the various and inimitable works of the creation?
Here then we reft;-for though infinitely more might be faid on this moft copious fubject; yet may we fafely defy the fubtilest infidel, armed with all the fophiftry of habitual wickedness which
anakes it his intereft to disbelieve, to evade the force of what has been already offered. And though it it is poffible nothing new has been advanced on the fubject; yet if these confiderations have the power to remove the thick veil of worldly-mindednefs and fenfuality from the eyes of one fellow-creature ;- if they should induce but one thoughtless finner to appeal from his heart to his head, to confult his reason instead of his paffions; his bofom must that moment travel with repentance, and feel a vigorous refolution forming within him to devote himself for the future to an upright and an holy life; fince, as we have already intimated, it is as easy to demonstrate, that God certainly will, and neceffarily must be a rewarder of the good and a punisher of the wicked, as that he really exifts; which truth even these few obvious reflections have, it is humbly prefumed, put beyond the reach of contradiction and rational doubt.-Finally brethren, feeing there affuredly is a God above us, the creator and preferver of the universe, the great searcher of all our thoughts, the liberal rewarder of all our good words and works, to HIм, and him only in humble strains of unfeigned thankfulness and fervent devotion
LET US PRAY.
Almighty God, who hast manifested thyself to all mankind by the various works of thy creation, we thine unworthy fervants, firmly believing that thou art the fupreme Preferver of the univerfe, befeech thee of thy gracious goodness to strengthen our "faith.-All our expectations are from thee, do thou confirm our hope. We love thee, do thou inflame our affections; we are forry for our manifold fins; do thou increase our repentance. We "adore thee as our first principle; we defire thee as our last end. "We thank thee as our perpetual benefactor, and we call upon thee as our fupreme defender. O God be thou pleased to guide us by thy wisdom, rule us by thy juftice, comfort us by thy mercy, and keep us by thy power. To thee we dedicate our thoughts,