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creation, the deluge, and paradise, winds up with two fine chapters on the Author of Nature and Natural Providence. The littleness of man, when compared with the great Author of Nature, was never set forth with greater force than by Burnet. We would not wish to read the presumptuous and arrogant man a better lesson than these passages :
“ We must not by any means admit or imagine, that all nature, and this great universe, was made only for the sake of man, the meanest of all intelligent creatures that we know of; nor that this little planet where we sojourn for a few days, is the only habitable part of the universe; these are thoughts so groundless and unreasonable in themselves, and also so derogatory to the infinite power, wisdom,
and goodness of the first cause, that as they are absurd in reason, so - they deserve far better to be marked and censured for heresies in re
ligion, than many opinions that have been censured for such, in former ages. How is it possible, that it should enter into the thoughts of vain man, to believe himself the principal part of God's creation; or that all the rest was ordained for him, for his service or pleasure? Man, whose follies we laugh at every day, or else complain of them ; whose pleasures are vanity, and his passions stronger than his reason; who sees himself every way weak and impotent, hath no power over external nature, little over himself; cannot execute so much as his own good resolutions; mutable, irregular, prone to evil. Surely, if we made the least reflection upon ourselves with impartiality, we should be ashamed of such an arrogant thought. How few of these sons of men, for whom, they say, all things were made, are the sons of wisdom? how few find the paths of life? They spend a few days in folly and sin, and then go down to the regions of death and misery. And is it possible to believe, that all nature, and all Providence, are only, or principally, for their sake? Is it not a more reasonable character or conclusion which the prophet hath made, Surely every man is vanity ? Man that comes into the world at the pleasure of another, and goes out by an hundred accidents; his birth and education generally determine his fate here, and neither of those are in his own power; his wit also is as uncertain as his fortune; he hath not the moulding of his own brain, however a knock on the head makes him a fool, stupid as the beasts of the field; and a little excess of passion or melancholy makes him worse, mad and frantic. In his best senses he is shallow, and of little understanding; and in nothing more blind and ignorant than in things sacred and divine ; he falls down before a stock or a stone, and says, Thou art my God; he can believe nonsense and contradictions, and make it his religion to do so. And is this the great creature which God hath made by the might of his power, and for the honour of his majesty ? upon whom all things must wait, to whom all things must be subservient ? Methinks, we have noted weaknesses and follies enough in the nature of man; this need not be added as the top and accomplishment, that with all these he is so vain as to think that all the rest of the world was made for his sake.
“And as due humility and the consideration of our own meanness ought to secure us from any such vain opinion of ourselves, so the perfection of other beings ought to give us more respect and honour for them. With what face can we pretend, that creatures far superior to us, and more excellent both in nature and condition, should be made for our sake and service? How preposterous would it be to ascribe such a thing to our Maker, and how intolerable a vanity in us to affect it? We that are next to the brutes that perish, by a sacrilegious attempt would make ourselves more considerable than the highest dignities. It is thought to have been the crime of Lucifer, who was thrown down from heaven to hell, that he affected an equality with the Almighty; and to affect, to be next to the Almighty, is a crime next to that. We have no reason to believe but that there are, at least, many orders of beings above us, as there are ranks of creatures below us; there is a greater distance sure betwixt us and God Almighty, than there is betwixt us and the meanest worm; and yet we should take it very ill, if the worms of the earth should pretend that we were made for them. But to pass from the invisible world, to the visible and corporeal
" Was that made only for our sake? King David was more wise, and more just both to God and man, in his eighth psalm ; where he says, He wonders, when he considers the heavens, that the Maker of them could think on man. He truly supposes the celestial bodies, and the inhabitants of them, much more considerable than we are, and reckons up only terrestrial things as put in subjection to man. Can we then be so fond as to imagine all the corporeal universe made for our use? It is not the millioneth part of it that is known to us, much less useful; we can neither reach with our eye, nor our imagination, those armies of stars that lie far and deep in the boundless heavens. If we take a good glass, we discover innumerably more stars in the firmament than we can with our single eye; and yet, if you take a second glass, better than the first, that carries the sight to a greater distance, you see more still lying beyond the other; and a third glass, that pierceth further, still makes new discoveries of stars; and so forwards, indefinitely and inexhaustedly for any thing we know, according to the immensity of the divine nature and power. Who can reckon up the stars of the galaxy, or direct us in the use of them? and can we believe thatthose and all the rest were made for us? Of those few stars that we enjoy, or that are visible to the eye, there is not a tenth part that is really useful to man; and no doubt if the principal end of them had been our pleasure or conveniency, they would have been put in some better order in respect of the earth. They lie carelessly scattered, as if they had been sown in the heaven, like seed, by handfuls; and not by a skilful hand neither. What a beautiful hemisphere they would have made, if they had been placed in rank and order; if they had been all disposed into regular figures, and the little ones set with due regard to the greater, then all finished and made up into one fair piece or great composition, according to the rules of art and symmetry. What a surprising beauty this would have been to the inhabitants of the earth? What a lovely roof to our little world ? This indeed might have given one some temptation to have thought that they had been all made for us ; but, lest any such vain imagination should now enter into our thoughts, Providence (besides more important reasons) seems on purpose to have left them under that negligence or disorder, which they appear unto us.”
So much for the past: the remaining part of the book, which was a posterior publication, is occupied with anticipations of the future, the conflagration, and the millennium. In bringing these great events about, the theorist deals less in natural causes, and more frequently introduces the immediate agency of the Deity, and relies chiefly for his proofs upon prophecy and revelation, without attempting much confirmation from the world itself. The whole of this part of the work is composed with sublime views, and in a strain of delightful hope and confidence, which no one can join in without feeling himself a purer and a happier being, and more worthy of appearing on that great day, when the Lord shall come with fire, and with his chariots, like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. As the beauty of this book rather arises from the propriety and aptness of its appeals to Scripture, and from the spirit of the whole, it affords fewer passages for quotation. Some there are of great magnificence. We have as yet quoted none which can be compared with the grandeur of the following, which Addison calls a funeral sermon over the world.
“ But 'tis not possible, from any station, to have a full prospect of this last scene of the earth ; for 'tis a mixture of fire and darkness. . This new temple is filled with smoke, while it is consecrating, and none can enter into it. But I am apt to think, if we could look down upon this burning world from above the clouds, and have a full view of it, in all its parts, we should think it a lively representation of hell itself. For fire and darkness are the two chief things by which that state, or that place, uses to be described; and they are both here mingled together,with all other ingredients that make that tophet that is prepared of old, (Isa. xxx.) Here are lakes of fire and brimstone ; rivers of melted glowing matter; ten thousand volcanos vomiting flames all at once; thick darkness, and pillars of smoke twisted about with wreaths of flame, like fiery snakes ; mountains of earth thrown up into the air, and the heavens dropping down in lumps of fire. These things will all be literally true concerning that day, and that state of the earth. And if we suppose Beelzebub, and his apostate crew, in the midst of this fiery furnace, (and I know not where they can be else,) it will be hard to find any part of the universe, or any state of things, that answers to so many of the properties and characters of hell, as this which is now before us.
“ But if we suppose the storm over, and that the fire hath got an entire victory over all other bodies, and subdued every thing to
itself; the conflagration will end in a deluge of fire, or in a sea of fire, covering the whole globe of the earth: For, when the exterior region of the earth is melted into a fluor, like molten glass or running metal, it will, according to the nature of other fluids, fill all vacuities and depressions, and fall into a regular surface, at an equal distance every where from its centre. This sea of fire, like the first abyss, will cover the face of the whole earth, make a kind of second chaos, and leave a capacity for another world to rise from it. But that is not our present business. Let us only, if you please, to take leave of this subject, reflect, upon this occasion, on the vanity and transient glory of all this habitable world ; how, by the force of one element breaking loose upon the rest, all the varieties of nature, all the works of art, all the labours of men, are reduced to nothing; all that we admired and adored before, as great and magnificent, is obliterated or vanished; and another form and face of things, plain, simple, and every where the same, overspreads the whole earth. Where are now the great empires of the world, and their great imperial cities? Their pillars, trophies, and monuments of glory? Shew me where they stood, read the inscription, tell me the victor's name. What remains, what impressions, what difference or distinction do you see in this mass of fire ? Rome itself, eternal Rome, the great city, the empress of the world, whose domination and superstition, ancient and modern, make a great part of the history of this earth, what is become of her now? She laid her foundations deep, and her palaces were strong and sumptuous: she glorified herself, and lived deliciously, and said in her heart, I sit a queen, and shall see no sorrow. But her hour is. come, she is wiped away from the face of the earth, and buried in perpetual oblivion. But it is not cities only, and works of men's hands, but the everlasting hills, the mountains and rocks of the earth, are melted as wax before the sun, and their place is no where found. Here stood the Alps, a prodigious range of stone, the load of the earth, that covered many countries, and reached their arms from the ocean to the Black Sea ; this huge mass of stone is softened and dissolved, as a tender cloud into rain. Here stood the African mountains, and Atlas with his top above the clouds. There was frozen Caucasus, and Taurus, and Imaus, and the mountains of Asia. And yonder, towards the north, stood the Riphæan hills, clothed in ice and snow. All these are vanished, dropped away as the snow upon their heads, and swallowed up in a red sea of fire. (Rev. xv. 3.) Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of Saints. Hallelujah.”
If it be true, and we cannot doubt it, that the composition of this work filled the author with thoughts like the following, we hope it will be considered an additional reason for the perusal of it, and some recommendation and excuse for the length of this article.
“ We dote upon this present world and the enjoyments of it: and it is not without pain, and fear, and reluctancy, that we are torn
from them, as if our hopes lay all within the compass of this life. Yet, I know not by what good fate my thoughts have been always fixed upon things to come, more than upon things present. These, I know, by certain experience, to be but trifles; and if there be nothing more considerable to come, the whole being of man is no better than a trifle. But there is room enough before us in that we call eternity, for great and noble scenes ; and the mind of man feels itself lessened and stråitened in this low and narrow state; wishes and waits to see something greater. And if it could discern another world a coming, on this side eternal life; a beginning glory, the best that earth can bear, it would be a kind of immortality to enjoy that prospect beforehand; to see, when this theatre is dissolved, where we shall act next, and what parts. What saints and heroes, if I may so say, will appear upon that stage; and with what lustre and excellency. How easy would it be, under a view of these futurities, to despise the little pomps and honours, and the momentary pleasures of a mortal life?""
What a glorious old age must that have been, which spent itself in the contemplation of the scenes which are set forth in this volume! What a preparation for leaving this world and entering on another, were these speculations upon all that has passed, and all that is to come, upon all that is stupendous in the Omnipotence of the Creator, and beautiful in his works! With what a placid composure would that man meet his end, whose last years had admitted him a spectator of the world in its birth, and whose last thoughts shot far into the depths of futurity, and beheld the time with rapture when God shall dwell with his people, and shall wipe away all tears from their eyes ; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.
ART. IX.—Letters of Sir Francis Bacon, Baron of Verulam,
Viscount St. Alban, and Lord High Chancellor of England: 4to. 1702. folio 1740. 8vo. 1819.
There is a considerable difference between books which are accessible to the hand, and those which are accessible to the mind. The mere body, that is, the print and paper of a book may be cheap and common as the air, while its contents, i. e. the soul, is very scarce, and only to be procured by great labour and research. We wish our readers to bear this distinction in mind, and not run away with a very idle error; that because a book happens to be in most libraries, in most bookshops, and is to be acquired by no great expenditure of the