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are surrounded with wonders on every hand ; and therefore we cease to admire, or to fix our attention on any one of the wonders daily performed by God. Wo have never been accustomed to contemplate or to inhahit a world where benevolence and wisdom are not displayed ; and, therefore, we ore apt to imagine, that the circumstances of our terrestrial existence could not have been muoh otherwise than they actually are. We behold the sun in the morning, ascending from the east —a thousand shining globes are seen in the canopy of the sky, when he has disappeared in the west. We open our eyelids, and the myriad of objects which compose an extensive landscape are, in a moment, painted on our retina,—we wish to move our bodies, and, in an instant, the joints and muscles of our hands and feet perform their several functions. We spread out our wet clothes to dry, and in a few hours the moisture is evaporated. We behold the fields drenched with rain, and in a few days it disappears, and is dispersed through the surrounding atmosphere, to be again imbodied into clouds. These are all common operations, and, therefore, thoughtless and ungrateful man seldom considers the obligations he is under to the Author of his existence, for the numerous enjoyments which flow from these wise arrangements. But were the globe we inhahit, and alt its appendages, to remain in their present state—and were only the principle of evaporation and the refractive and reflective properties of the air to be destroyed—we should soon feet, by the universal gloom which would ensue, and by a thousand other inconveniences we should suffer, what a miserable world was allotted for our abode. We should most sensibly perceive the wisdom and goodness we had formerly overlooked, and would most ardently implore the restoration of those arrangements for which we were never sufficiently grateful. And why should we not now—while we enjoy so many comforts flowing from the plans of infinite Wisdom— have our attention directed to the benevolent contrivances within ua, and around us, in order that grateful emotions may be hourly arising in our hearts, to the Father of our spirits ? For the essence of true religion consists chiefly in gratitude to the God of our life, and the Author of salvation ; and every pleasing sensation ne feel from the harmonies and the beauties of nature, ought to inspire us with this sacred emotion. " Hearken unto this, O man! stand still, and consider the wonderful works of God. Contemplate the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge."—u He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom. When he utlereth his voice, there is a noise of waters in the heavens ; ho causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth, and bringeth the winds out of his treasures." While it is shameful for
man to be inattentive to the wonders which ror round him, what can be more pleasing and con genial to a rational and devout mind, than contemplations on the works of the Most Hi-hi "What can be more gratifying," says Sturm "than to contemplate, in the heavens, in the earth, in the water, in the night and day, and indeed, throughout at) nature, the proof* which they afford of the wisdom, the purity, and the goodness of our great Creator and Preserver! What can be more delightful than to recognize, in the whole creation, in all th* natural world, in every thing we see, traces of the ever-working providence and tender mercy of the great Father of all!"
On the Goodness or Benevolence of the Deity.
The Benevolence of God is that perfection of his nature, by which he communicates happiness to the various ranks of sensitive and intelligent existence.
The system of Nature, in all its parts, exhihits an unbounded display of this attribute of the Divine Mind, both in relation to man. and in relation to the subordinate tribes of animated existence. In relation to Man—the magnificence and glory of the heavens—the variegated colouring which is spread over the scene of nature—the beautiful flowers, shrubs, and trees, with which the earth is adorned, which not only delight the eye, but perfume the air with their delicious odours—the various kinds of agreeable sounds that charm the ear—the music of the feathered songsters, which fill the groves with their melody—the thousands of pleasant images which delight the eye, in the natural embellishments of creation—the agreeable feelings produced by the contact of almost every thing we have occasion to touch—the pleasure ailached to eating, drinking, muscular motion, and activity—the luxuriant profusion, and rich variety of aliments which the earth affords—and the interchanges of thought and affection—all proclaim the Benevolence of our Alnnjl.iv Maker, and show that the communication of happiness is one grand object of all his arrangements. For these circumstances are not essentially requisite to our existence We might have lived, and breathed, and walked though every thing we touched had produced pain ; though every thing we ate and drank had been hitter; though every movement of our hands and feet had been accompanied with uneasiness and fatigue; though every sound had been as harsh as the saw of the carpenter; though no hirds had warbled in the groves; though no flowers had decked the fields, or filled the air with their per
fumes; though one unvaried scene of dull uniformity had prevailed, and beauty and sublimity had been swept from the face of nature ; though the earth had been covered with a mantle of black, and no radiant orbs had appeared in our nocturnal aky. But what a miserable world should we then have inhahited, compared with that which we now possess! Life would have passed away without enjoyment: and pain would have overbalanced the pleasure of existence. Whereas, in the existing constitution of things, all the objects around us, and every sense of which we are possessed, when preserved in its natural vigour, have » direct len iency to produce pleasing sensations, and to contribute to our enjoyment: and it is chiefly when we indulge in foolish and depraved passions, and commit immoral actions, that the benevolent intentions of the Deity are frustrated, and pain and misery produced.
If we consider, further, that the inexhaustible # bounty of the Creator, and ihe numerous pleasures we enjoy, are bestowed upon a guilty race of men, the benevolence of the Deity will appear in a still more striking point ofview. Man has dared to rebel against his Maker; he is a depraved and ungrateful creature. The great majority of our race have banished God from their thoughts, trampled open his laws, neglected to contemplate his works, refused to pay him that tribute of reverence and adoration which his perfections demand, have been ungrateful for his favours, have blasphemed his name, and have transferred to " four-footed beasts, and creeping things," that homage which is due to him alone. It has been the chief part of their employment, in all ages, to counteract the effects of his Beneficence, by inflicting injustice, oppression, and torture, upon each other; by maiming the human frame, burning cities and villages, turning fruitful fields into a wilderness, and by every other act of violence, carrying death and destruction through the world. And if water, air, and the light of heaven, had been placed within the limits of their control, it is more than probable, that whole nations would have been occasionally deprived of these elements, so essential to human existence. Yet, notwithstanding the prevalence of such depraved dispositions, the streams of Divine benevolence towards our apostate race have never yet been interrupted. The earth has neverstopped in its career, and thrown nature into a scene of confusion; the light of heaven has never ceased to illume the world ; the springs of water have never been dried up, nor has the fertile soil ceased to enrich the plains with golden harvests. God "hath not left himself without a witness," to his beneficence, in any age, in that he hath unceasingly bestowed on the inhahitants of the world '4 rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness." This is aoe iif the characters of Deity which forms the
most perfect contrast to the selfish and revengetu, dispositions of man, which as far transcenos human benevolence, as the heavens in extent surpass the earth—a character calculated to excite our highest love and admiration, and whien we are called upon, in the Sacred Oracles, to imitate and revere. "Be ye merciful, as your Father who is in heaven is merciful: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."— " 0 that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men."
From such considerations, we learn, even from the system of nature, that mercy is an attribute of the Deity j for, if mercy consists in bestowing favours on those who are unworthy, or who merit punishment, the greatest sinners in all ages have shared in it, and every individual of the human race now existing enjoys a certain portion of those comforts which flow from the benevolent arrangements which the Creator has established. '' He make,h the sun to rise on the evil and on the good." Though the nations in ancient times, as well as at present, " walked in their own way4f indulging in impiety, falsehood, lewdness, war, devastations, revenge, abominable idolatries, and every other violation of his law, he still supported the functions of their animal frames, and caused the influence of the sun, the rains, and the dews, to descend upon their fields, that they might be refreshed with his bounty, and filled " with food and gladness." If mercy were not an essential attribute of the Deity, he would have cut them down in the midst of their first transgressions, shattered to pieces the globe on which I hey dwelt, and buried them in eternal oblivion. But whether Divine mercy will extend to the final forgiveness of sin, and the communication of eternal happiness to such beings, can be learned only from the discoveries of revelation.
In relation to the inferior animal*—the immense multitude of living creatures with which the earth is replenished, is a striking evidence of the vast profusion of Divine Beneficence. More than a hundred thousand species of animated beings are dispersed through the different regions of the air, the water, and the earth, besides myriads which are invisibles the*unassisted eye. To estimate -the aurfvher t-f individuals belonging to.anyone spefiesis beyond the power of man* What eountless myrftujs of hecrin^s^fof ^example, we contain ed fa u sin^fe ahoel,"wJrtcr\is frequently moftf than Sir 'm'iles long a»d three mi ley lirosd.^ T6 estimate the number of individuals i trail the different species would, therefore, te as Impossible as to count the grains ofsand in the Arahian deserts. There is not a Angle spot, in any region of the globe, but what teems with animated beings. Yet, aD this vast assemblage of sensitive existence is amply provided for by the bountiful Creator. "These all wait upon him, and he giveth them their meat in due season." They enjoy not only life, but also a happy existence. The sportive motions and gesticulations of all ihe animal tribes—the hirds skimming through the air, warbling in the groves, and perching on the trees—the beasls of the field, bounding in the forests, and through the lawns—the fishes sporting in the waters—the reptiles wriggling in ihe dust, and the winged insects, by a thousand wanton mazes — all declare that they are rejoicing in their existence, and in the exercise of those powers with which the Creator has furnished them. So that, wherever we turn our eyes, we evidently perceive, that" the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord;" and that" his tender mercies are over all his works." This subject is boundless—but it would be inconsistent with the limited plan of this work, to enter into any particular details. And it is the less necessary, when we consider, that every instance of Divine Wisdom is, at the same time, an instance of benevolence; for it is the ultimate object of all the wise contrivances in the system of Nature, that happiness may be communicated to the various ranks of sensitive and intelligent existence. Goodness chooses the end. and wisdom selects the most proper means, for its accomplishment; so that these two attributes must always be considered in simultaneous operation. And, therefore, the instances I have already specified, of the Wisdom and Intelligence of the Creator, may also be considered, asexemplihcations of Divine Benevolence. I shall, therefore, conclude this topic with the following extract from Dr. Paley.
"Contrivance proves design; and the prominent tendency of the contrivance, indicates the disposition of the designer. The world abounds with contrivances; and all the contrivances we are acquainted with, are directed to beneficial purposes. Evil, no doubt, exists ; but it is never that we can perceive, the object of contrivance. Teeth are contrived to eat, not to aehe ; their aching now and then, is incidental to the contrivance, perhaps inseparable from it; or even, if you will, let it be called a defect in the contrivence, but it is not the object of it. This is a distmction ftA jch well deserves to be attended to. In d^scribmg tmplftments of hushandry, you will hardly say ofa sicRIe/uSat* k.is made to cut the reaper'u finger*, tho-j^S fsotfi *he,4CQnstruction uf fhe'inVr"Indent, and ?heTnajin*r 'Jf -using, it, this misrfu-ef'nnW happens. $utjiCfoa„*haa occasion try describe instruments of torture d> execution, This, you vrould 4iayj ip*to extend thVsinews ; this to dislocate the joints; this jto, break the bones; this to scorch the soles of the fret. Here pain and misery are the very objects t\T the contrivance. Now nothing of this sort is to bo found ill the works of nature, W# never dis
cover a train of contrivance to bring about aa evil purpose. No anatomist ever discovered a system of organization calculated to produco pain and disease; or in explaining the parts of the human body, ever said, This is to irritate ; this to inflame ; this duct is to convey the gravel to the kidneys; this gland to secrete th« humour which forms the gout. If, by chance, he come at a part of which ho knows not the use, the most he can say is, that it is uselses; no one ever suspects that it is put there to incommode, to annoy, or torment. Since, then, God hath called forth his consummate wisdom to contrive and provide fur our happiness, and the world appears to have been constituted with this design at first, so long as this constitution is upheld by him, we must, in reason, suppose the same design to continue."—Prey's Moral Philosophy, Book II. Chap. 5.
Thus, I have endeavoured, in this and the preceding section, to exhihit a few specimens of the* Wisdom and Goodness of God, in the system of nature. These might have been multiplied to an indefinite extent, but the instances adduced, I presume, are sufficient to show, that the economy of the material world is not altogether a barren subject, to a pious and contemplative mind. Every intelligent believer in Revelation will readily admit, that it would be a highly desirable object, to induce upon the mass of Christians such a hahit of devout attention to the visible works of creation, as would lead them, in their social and solitary walks, to recognize the agency of God, in every object they behold; to raise their thoughts to Him as the Great First Cause, and to ex- • pand their hearts with emotions of gratitude. How very different must be the sentiments and the piety of the man who looks on the scene of wisdom and magnificence around him, with a "brute unconscious gaze," as thousands of professed Christians do—and the grateful and pious emotions of him who recognizes the benevolent agency of God, in the motions of his fingers, and his eyeballs; in the pulsation of his heart; in the picture of external objects every moment formed on his retina; in the reflection of the rays of light, and the diversified colours they produce; in the drying of his clothes; in the constitution of the atmosphere; in the beauty and magnificence of the earth and the heavens; and in every other object that meets his eye, in the expanse of nature! The numberless astonishing instances of Divine agency, which every where present themselves to our view in the scene around us, seem evidently intended to arrest the mind to a consideration of aq "ever-present Deity;" and I envy not the sen-"ttments or the feelings of that man who imagines, that he stands in no need of such sensible mediums, to impress his mind with a sense of the benevolent care and omnipresence of God.
cowTAnsnca A Cursory View Of Some Of The Sciences Which Are Related
TO RELIGION AND CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY.
Theology has generally been viewed as a study of a very limited range : and, hence, when tt has been admitted imu the circle of the sciences, a much smaller space has been allotted for its disn, than has been devoted to almost any Lfimeut of human knowledge. When d, however, in its most extensive sense, —in its relations to the Divine Being—to his past and present dispensations towards the human race, —to the presrnt circumstances and the future destiny of mai —and to the physical and moral condition of all the sentient and intelligent beings of which we have any intimation—it ought to be viewed as the most varied and tomprehensive of ail the sciences; as embracing, within its extensive grasp, all the other departments of useful
tknowledge, both human and divine. As it has God for its object, it must include a knowledge of the universe he has formed—of the movements which are continually going on throughout the wide extent of his empire, in so far as they lie open to our infraction—of the attributes which appear to be displayed in all his operations—of the moral laws he has framed for the regulation of holy intelligences—of the merciful arrangements he has made for the restoration of fallen man—of the plans by which the knowledge of his will is to be circulated and extended in the world in which wo live—of the means by which truth, and moral purity,and order, are to be promoted' among our apostate race, in order to their restoration to the happiness they have lost—together with all those diversified ramifications of knowled**, which have either a more remote or a more immediate bearing on the grand object now specified. Like the lines which proceed from the circumference to the centre of an immense circle—all the moral* arts and sciences which * have been invented by men—every department of human knowledge, however far it may, at first tight, appear to be removed from religion—may be considered as having a direct bearing on Theolofy1tne gr&nd central point,and as having a certain tendency to promote its important objects.
It is much to be regretted, that Theology has so seldom been contemplated in this point of w—and that the sciences have been considered
* The epithet moral Is here used in Its application to arts, hernuw there are certiln arts which must be considered as having an Immoral tendency, such as the art of war, the art of boxing, of gambling, An. a-Q.1 which, therefore, cannot have a direct tan* aency to prooote tLe objects of religion.
rather as so many independent branches of secular knowledge, than as subservient to the elucidation of the facts and doctrines of religion and loth* accomplishment of its benevolent designs. Hence, it has happened that Philosophy and Religion, instead of marching hand in hand to the portals of immortality, have frequently set themselves in hostile array; and combats have ensued equally injurious to the interests of both parties. The Philosopher has occasionally been disposed to investigate the economy of nature, without a reference lo the attributes of that Almighty Being who presides over its movements, as if the universe were a self-moving and independent machine; and has not unfrequenlly taken occasion, from certain obscure and insulated facts, to throw out insinuations hostile to the truth and the character of the Christian Revelation, The Theologian, on the other hand, in the heat of his intemperate zeal against the infidel philosopher, has unguardedly been led to declaim against the study of science, as if it were unfriendly to religion— ha=, in effect, set the works of God in opposition to his word—has confounded the foolish theories of speculative minds with the rational study of the works of Deity—and has thus prevented the mass of mankind from ex [landing their minds, by the contemplation of the beauties and sublimities of nature. *—
It is now high time that a complete reconciliation were effected between these contending parties. Religion ought never to disdain to derive her supports and illustrations from the researches of science; for the investigations of philosophy into the economy of Nature, from whatever motives they may be undertaken, are nothing else than an inquiry into the plans and operations of the Eternal Mind. And Philosophy ought always to consider it as her highest honour, to walk as an handmaid in the train of that religion which points out the path to the regions of eternal bliss. By their mutual aid, and the subserviency of ihe one lo the other, the moral uid intellectual improvement of man will be promoted, and the benevolent pur|ioses of God, in the kingdom of providence, gradually accomplished. But when set in opposition to each other, the human mind is bewildered and retarded in its progress, and the Deity is apt to be considered as set in opposition to himself—as proclaiming one system of doctrines from the economy of revelation, and another, and an opposite system, from the economy of nature. But if ths Christian Revelation and the system of the material world derived their origin from the same Almighty Being, the most complete harmony must subsist between the revelaiions they respectively unfold ; and the apparent inconsistencies which occur must be owing chiefly to the circumstances of our present station in the universe, and to the obscure and limited views we are obliged to take nf some of the grand and diversified objects they embrace. And, therefore, we have reason to believe that, when the system of nature shall be more extensively explored, and the leading objects of revelation contemplated in a clearer light, without being tinged with the false colouring of party opinions and contracted views, and when rational inquirers shall conduct their researches with a greater degree of reverence, humility and Christian temper, ihs beauty and harmony of all the plans and revelaiions of the Deity, in reference both to the physical and the moral world, will be more distinctly perceived and appreciated.
In ihe following cursory sketehes, it forms no part of my plan to trace even an outline of the different sciences which are connected with religion, much less to enter into any particular details, in relation to their facts and principles. It would be comparatively easy to fill up the remaining sheets of this volume with skeletons of the different sciences ; but such meager details as behooved to be brought forward, could not be interesting to the general reader, and would fail in accomplishing the object proposed. My design simply is, to select some leading facts, or general truths, in relation to some of the physical sciences, for the purpose of showing their connection w ith the objects of religion and the interests of rational piety. At the same time, such definite descriptions will be given as will enable common readers to appreciate the objects and bearings of the different branches of knowledge which may be presented to their view.
The first science* I shall notice is that of
This science, taken in its most comprehensive sense, includes a knowledge and description of all the known farts in the material universe.
It is to be regretted, that most books published under the title of Natural History, to which common readers have access, contain nothing more than a ger.eral description of animals, as if this science were confined merely to one class of beings; whereas there is an infinite variety of
* The term scitnet, In lis most general and extensive sense, signifies kwariedge, particularly that species of knowledge which Is acquired by the exertion of the human faculties. In a more restricted sense, It denotes a systematic species of knowledge, which consists of rule and order, such as Mathcmatics. Astronomy, Natural Philosophy, &c- In the, discussions contained in this work, it is used 1 its most genera1 sense, as denoting the various departments of human knowledge, In which sense history, both natural, civil, and sacred, may be termed
other objects seldom noticed, which would appro, no less interesting, and, in some instances, much more novel and gratifying to the general reader, and to the youthful mind. AH the diversified forms of matter, w hether existing on the surface or in the bowels of the earth, in the ocean, the atmosphere, or in the heavens, form the legitimate objects of this department of the science of nature.
Were we, therefore, to sketeh a comprehensive outline of the subjects of Natural History, we might, in the first place, take a cursory survey of the globe we inhabit, in reference 'to its magnitude, figure, motions, and general arrangements—the form, relations, and extent of its continents—the numerous islands which diversity the surface of the ocean—the magnitude, the direction, and the extent of its rivers, and the quantity of water they pour into the ocean—the direction, elevation, and extent of the different range* of mountains which rise from its surface—the plains, morasses, lakes, forests, dells, and sandy deserts, which diversify its aspect—the extent, the motions, the colour, and the different aspects of the ocean, and tho facts which have been ascertained respecting its soilness, its depth,its bottom, and its different currents. 'We might next take a more particular view of some of the most remarkable objects on its surface, and give a detail of the facts which are known respecting the history of volcanoet—their number—the countries in which they are situated—the awful phenomena they exhibit—and the devastations they have produced ; the history of earthquakes, their phenomena and effects, and the countries most subject to their, ravages—basaltic and rockv wonders, natural bridges, precipices, cataracts, ice islands, icebergs, glaciers, whirlpools, mineral wells, reciprocating fountains, boiling springs, sulphuric mountains, bituminous lakes, volcanic islands—the various aspects of nature in the different zones, and the contrasts presented between the verdant scenes of tropical climes, and the icy cliffs of the polar regions. We would next take a survey of the subterraneous wonders which lie beneath the surface of the earth—the immense chasms and caverns which wind in various directions among the interior strata of our globe—such as the great Kentucky cavern, and the grotto of Antiparoa—the mines of salt, coal, copper, lead, diamond, iron, quicksilver, tin, gold, and silver—the substances which compose the various strata, the fossil bones, shells, ai:r) petrifactions, which are imbedded in the different layers, and the bendings and disruptions which appear to have taken place in the substances which compose the exterior crust of ihe earth. We might next survey the atmosphere with which the earth is environed, and give a detail of the facts which have been ascertained respecting its specific gravity and pressure, the elementary principles of which it is compounded, its refractive