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1. From the view which we have taken of the work of creation, we discover, more and more, the evidence of the goodness of God. We may indeed make this conclusion, from a general argument on the subject. If we consider, that goodness consists in doing good; and that no good could be done by the Deity, but by first creating proper objects of good and happiness ; we shall readily conclude, that infinite goodness is expressed, in the work of creation. Especially when we consider, that, in this glorious work, God has adapted every thing to the good and happiness of his intelligent creatures. Had they all improved the goodness of God as they ought, this world would have been a happy state of existence. Man was made but a little lower than the angels, crowned with honor and glory; and had given to him the dominion over all the creatures in this lower world. Of all the good and happiness, which were adapted to this world, even in its original state, there was no deficiency. And that which was of infinitely more consequence, was, that he had a fair and hopeful prospect of increasing glory and felicity in heaven forever. How great was the goodness of God, manifested in the work of creation ! "O Lord, how manifold are thy works, in wisdom hast thou made them all ; the earth is full of thy riches."
2. From what has been said on the doctrine of creation, we infer, that this great and magnificent work was designed to answer some adequate ends and purposes. The earth was made to be inhabited. The sun, moon and stars were not made in vain. Whether any of them were made to be inhabited, is not for us to decide. On this subject the scriptures are not conclusive. They seem to intimate, however, that these splendid luminaries were made for the accommodation of inankind. 66 The sun to rule the day, and the moon and stars to rule the night." Had these vast bodies been inhabited by rational beings, subjects of creation and providential government, in common with angels and men ;. why should the scriptures
be so silent respecting them ? But whether the planets are inhabited or not, we may be assured, that the whole work of creation is designed to answer the most important purposes.
“God hath made all things for himself;" and for the richest display of his own glory. In himself, he is infinitely glorious; and it implies in him no contracted and criminal selfishness, to have a supreme regard to his own glory in the creation of the world.
But the peculiar method which God takes to display his glory, by the work of creation, is through the medium of his redeemed church. It is said, that 6 God created all things by Jesus Christ to the intent, that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known, by the church, the manifold wisdom of God, acGording to the eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The great work of redemption, it seems, was uppermost in the mind of God, as a medium for the display of his glory, by the work of creation. Re. demption was not, as some suppose, a remedy for unexpected evils. No, it was a part of the eternal plan and design of creation. In plain terms, it was “ According to the eternal purpose of God.” It was a grand end, a leading object of the work of creation, to lay a foundation for the more glorious works of redemption and grace. So that man, who was made lower than the angels in creation; and who should, degrade himself, by his apos- . tacy to the rank of devils ; might be put into a situation, through faith in Jesus Christ, to rise superior to the elect angels, in eternal glory. And in this sinful and imperfect state, the holy angels are said to be ministering spirits, sent forth to ininister unto those who are heirs of salvation. The plan of creation, as preparatory in the eternal counsel of God, to the work of redemption, is wonderful! These are the things, which the angels desire to look into : and these are the things, which are, to us, most highly interesting. As we are in a situation to rise in glory above the holy angels ; so we are liable, by our impenitence and unbelief, to sink in wretchedness below the fallen angels. God will glorify himself, if it be in our final condemnation. The great concern of all should be, to concur in the great object of creation, and devote themselves supremely to the honor and glory of God.
God's works of Providence.
Having, in the preceding essay, attempted a discussion of the great subject of creation ; it is proposed in this, to consider the works of divine Providence,
To every candid and reflecting mind, it is obvious, that the work of creation, great as it was, must have been a useless exertion of infinite power and wisdom, had there not been established, in the divine purpose, a wise and holy providential government. The great work of crea, tion, which was last considered, was introductory and preparatory to the operations of divine providence. According to the correct definition in the shorter catechism, “God's works of providence are his most holy, wise and powerful, preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions." All the creatures of God were made for the most important purposes----purposes which could never be accomplished, were there no providential gov. ernment.
In God's works of providence, more is implied, than a mere notice, inspection and oversight of the created system. He exerts the same infinite power and wisdom, in preserving and directing all things to their proper ends, which he exerted, when he called the universe into existence. A man is said to be provident, when he looks well to his affairs, and directs all his matters with wisdom and discretion. In these respects, God is an infinitely provident being. For he not only inspects, con. stantly, all creatures and things in the universe ; but he also gives to all their direction, overruling them for his own glory, and for the greatest possible general good.
In God's works of providence, infinite power and agency are employed. So that the operations of divine providence, in preserving, directing and controlling all things, are equal, in point of power and wisdom, to a continued creation. Should he withhold for a moment, his omnipotent aid and support, the whole created system would become extinct. As respects the animal creation, “ In him they live, and move, and have their being? As respects the life and immortality of mankind, 6. His visitation preserveth our spirits." “ If he withhold his spirit,” that is, the breath which he breathed into man, when he became a living soul, “ we die, and return to dust.” Should man die and revive at every breath, the providence of God would be no more exerted, than it is in the usual mode of preserving human life. In the most literal sense, all creatures and things are dependent, alone, on the providence of God for support in existence; and for direction to their proper ends and purposes. 66 A man's heart deviseth bis way, but the Lord directeth his steps.” “ The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposal thereof is of the Lord.” To show clearly, that God has the disposal of lots, and of every thing else, we may observe, that He perfectly knows all things. When the lot is about to be cast, relying on chance to decide the event ; God foresees the event. How could this be possible, if it depended on chance ? In this case, there is but one alternative. We must acknowledge the constant disposing hand of providence, in all events ; or deny the being of an omviscient God. “I am God,” says Jehovah, " and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things which are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do, all my pleasure." “ The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord.”
We observe further; To preserve and govern the whole universe, in all its variety, and in all its connections and dependencies ; the providence of God must be, not only universal, but most minute and particular. Thus it is strikingly represented in the holy scriptures. They teach us, that it is God who clothes the grass, and
66 Yea, a
adorns the lillies of the field. He takes care for oxen, and hears the young ravens, when they cry. sparrow falls not to the ground without him, and the hairs of our heads are all numbered." 66 He opens his hand, and satisfies the wants of every living creature.” Astonishing must be the extent and particularity of that providence, by which the myriads of living creatures in the earth, air and sea, receive their daily protection and support.
Thus God's providence implies, not only his universal knowledge, and observation; but also his special care, support, protection and disposal of all things. And a very particular object is, to direct all creatures and things to the most important ends and purposes.
Another branch of the great subject of divine providence is, that it extends to all the actions, as well as to the outward state and circumstances of mankind. All will grant, that when the trees are moved by the wind, God's providence is exerted. When buildings and forests are destroyed by a tornado, and inany lives are lost, it is an awful dispensation of divine providence. When the fields are laden with the richest produce of a prosperous season, men experience the smiles of a kind and merciful providence. But, strange as it may seem, there is a strony reluctance in mankind to acknowledge the agency of God's providence, in directing and controlling the hearts and actions of sinful men. Not but that mankind in general, who enjoy, and profess to believe in divine revelation, acknowledge divine agency in the conviction and conversion of sinners. · They see no objection to God's renewing the hearts of sinners, by his all conquering grace. They acknowledge the exceeding greatness of God's power manifested in those who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.” They do not imagine, that the agency of God, in the conviction and conversion of sinners, interferes at all with their own free
agency, in the love and service of Christ. They profess to admit the plain testimony of scripture, that it is “ not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saveth us, by the washing