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FOR 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 GOD. HEAD;-ROM. 1. 20.
The wisdom of God in the natural creation, is a proper subject of the lecture delivered in this place upon this occasion *: but as the knowledge of the Scriptures is not excluded, I may be permitted to bring them both together into one discourse: for they illustrate one another in a wonderful manner: and he who can understand God as the fountain of truth, and the Saviour of men, in the holy Scripture, will be better disposed to understand and adore him as the fountain of power and goodness in the natural creation.
* This Sermon was preached at St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, on Tuesday, in Whitsun Week, 1787, on Mr. Fairchild's Foundation,
To those who search for it, and have pleasure in receiving it, there is a striking alliance between the economy of Nature, and the principles of divine Revelation; and unless we study both together, we shall we liable to mistake things now, as the unbelieving Sadducees did, in their vain reasonings with our blessed Saviour. They erred, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God: they neither understood them separately, nor knew how to compare them together.
Men eminently learned, and worthy of all commendation, have excelled in demonstrating the wisdom of God from the works of Nature; but in this one respect they seem to have been deficient; in that they have but rarely turned their arguments to the particular advantage of the Christian Revelation, by bringing the volume of Nature in aid to the volume of the Scripture; as the times now call upon us to do: for we have been threatened, in very indecent and insolent language of late years, with the superior reasonings and forces of natural philosophy; as if our late researches into Nature had put some new weapons into thọ hands of Infidelity, which the friends of the Christian Religion will be unable to stand against. One writer, in particular, who is the most extravagant in his philosophical flights, seems to have persuaded himself, and would persuade us, that little more is required to overthrow the whole faith and economy of the Church of England, than a philosophical apparatus ; and that every prelate and priest amongst us hath reason to tremble at the sight.' This is not the voice of piety or learning, but of vapouring vanity and delusion. Neither a Bacon, nor a Boyle, nor a Newton would ever have descended to such language, so contrary to their good manners and religious sentiments : the first of whom hath wisely observed, that the works of God minister a singular help and preservative against unbelief and error: our Saviour, as he saith, having laid before us two books or volumes to study; first the Scriptures, revealing the will of God, and then the creatures, expressing his power ; whereof the latter is a key unto the former Such was the piety and penetration of this
great man. However, let us not take it amiss, that, at certain times, we are rudely attacked and insulted. Christians, under the temptations of ease and security, would forget themselves, and go to sleep: they are therefore obliged to their adversaries for disturbing them, that they may awake, like Samson, and discover their own strength. So little reason have we in 'fact to be terrified with the threatenings of our adversaries, that we invite them to enter with us upon a comparison between the word and the works of God. For it will be found true, as I shall endeavour to shew, that the invisible things of God, that is, the things concerning his Being and his Power, and the oeconomy of his spiritual kingdom, which are the objects of our faith, are clearly seen from the creation of the world, and understood by the things that are made.
Having much matter to propose, I must not indulge myself in the use of any superfluous words. A plain and unadorned discourse will be accepted rather for the meaning than the form; and as I am about to consider the works of God in a new capacity, I inust bespeak your attention, not without a degree of your candour also, to excuse an advenG 4
turous excursion into an unfrequented path of divinity,
Let us enquire then, how the religious state of
man, and the spiritual kingdom of God, as the scriptures have made them known to us; that is, how Christianity, as a scheme of doctrine, agrees with the works of God, and the deconomy of Nature? In consequence of which it will be found, that the Christian Religion hath the attestation of natural philosophy; and that every other religion hath it not.
Our Bible teaches us these great principles or doctrines ; that man is now in a fallen state of forfeiture under Sin and Death, and suffering the penalties of disobedience: that, as a religious being, he is the scholar of heaven, and must be taught of God; that the Almighty Father of men and angels gives him life and salvation by his Word and Spirit; in other words, by Christ and the Holy Ghost : that there is danger to us from the malignity and power of evil spirits ; that a curse hath been inflicted upon the earth by a flood of water: that there is no remission of sin without shedding of blood; and that a divine life is supported in us by partaking of the death of Christ in the Paschal or Sacra