Page images
PDF
EPUB

The World préserved by Divine

Providence.

DISCOURSE II.

NEHEMIAH ix. 6.

Thou prefervest them all.

IN

N
my

former Discourse, fome Observations were made concerning the Providence of God in general. It was shewn by several Arguments that there is a Providence, or that this vast World, and every Thing in it, is under the constant Care and Superintendency of that most wife, and benign, and powerful Being that created it. Let us now proceed to a more distinct Consideration of this important Subject.

The

C 2

[ocr errors]

The Providence of God may be regarded as exercised either in the Preservation

the World, or in the Government of it, to which two main Heads all the Acts of Divine Providence are reducible.

First, That which comes first to be consi, dered, is God's Preservation of the World. In that admirable Address that is made to God in the Name of the Jewish Church, after celebrating him as the great Creator of the Universe in those noble Expressions, Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made Heaven, the Heaven of Heavens, with all their Hoft, the Earth, and all Things that are therein; it is added, and thou preservest them all. Where it is fignified, that the preserving this vast Frame of Nature, and all Things that are therein, is owing to the same omnipotent Being that created them. As by creating them he brought them into Existence when they had none before, and endued them with such and such Faculties and Powers; fo by his preserving them, we are to un derstand his upholding them in that Exiftence, and in the Use of those Faculties and Powers which he hath given them. We must not imagine that Things, when once, put into Being, continue to exist independently of him that first created them. For, an independent Existence is not compati-.

ble

ble with the Nature or Condition of Creatures, which owe their Existence wholly to the Will and Power of a fuperior Cause. It is easily conceivable that the self-existent Jehovah, who existed necessarily from everlasting, must certainly exist to everlasting, by the intrinsic Excellency of his own most perfect Nature. But the Case is otherwise as to contingent Beings, who have the Source and Basis of their Existence without them. As they did not exist originally and necessarily of them, selves, but merely by the Will of the Creator, who willed that they should exist, and they existed accordingly; so neither do they tontinue to exist of themselves, and by the mere Force and Virtue of their own Nature, but by the powerful Will of the supreme original Cause that ing. It is true, that Machines whichi were contrived and formed by human Art, may subfift for a Time independently of the Man that formed them: Nor is this to be wondered at, since the Matter or Substance out of which they were formed existed before, and did not owe its Being to the Artificer. But no Consequence can be drawn from this, to prove that, therefore, Things which owe their very Existence and Substance entirely to the Will and Power of the first Cause, may

afterwards

gave them Be

C 3

afterwards continue to exist independently of the first Cause. The Works of Mens Hands may subsist at a Distance from the Hands which fashioned them: But the Creatures can never exist in an absolute Separation from God, who is always most intimately and effentially present with his own Works ; so that it may be said with the greatest Propriety, that in him they have their Being, as St. Paul expresseth it, Acts xvii. 28. or, as he elsewhere speaks by him, or as it might be rendered, in him all Things confift. Col. i. 17.

That we may treat this Subject more distinctly, we may consider this Preservation of all Things, which is an eminent Act of Divine Providence, as extending,

First, To the whole inanimate Creation:

Secondly, To all Things that have Life in their different Degrees, both to the inferior Brute Animals, and to the higher Orders of rational intellectual Beings.

First, God, by his constant powerful Influence, upholdeth the inanimate Creation, this huge material System, in all its Parts. As at the first Formation of it, he

put Things into a certain Order, so it is by his Power and Wisdom that this Order and Constitution of Things is maintained according to the first Establishment. Not only the greater heavenly Bodies are pre

served in their appointed Courses or Stations, but with regard to the lefser Bodies and Particles of Matter, the Laws of Motion and Gravitation, to which, by the divine Ordination, they are subject, continue the same that they were from the Beginning, and produce the same Effects in the same Circumstances. Thus all Things in the material World proceed according to a settled Rule or Method: This we are apt to pass over, with a slight Regard, as a Thing of Course; whereas, it ought to engage our Admiration, and lead us to the Acknowledgment of a constant superintending Providence. To this it is owing, that the Sun still serveth for a Light by Day, and the Ordinances of the Moon and Stars for a Light by Night. Jer. xxxi, 35. and that the orderly Returns of Seasons are maintained, fo that Seed-time and Harvest, and Cold and Heat, and Summer and Winter, and Day and Night, do not cease. Gen. viii. 22. It is God that, by his powerful Influence, suftaineth this huge terrestrial Globe which we inhabit, which bangeth upon nothing, as Job expresseth it, Job xxvi. 7. By his Power, and according to his settled Order it is, that the Earth still preserveth its Fertility, that the Minerals continue to be generated and ripened in its Bowels, and that the vege

table

C4

« PreviousContinue »