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Though “ fearfully and wonderfully made," man, even in his original dignity and perfection, was to be reckoned among the less stupendous and magnificent works of the creator. He exhibited no such strong marks of wisdom and power, as the heavens display to every eye. But being endued with reason, he was “crowned with glory and honour,” constituted a moral agent, and a subject of moral government. As such, God is mindful of him, and visits him in a way suited to his nature, condition and character.
But, considering him in his present degraded and sinful state, with how much greater wonder we may exclaim, “ Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him ?" How great thy condescension, mercy, and goodness, that thou shouldest make so unworthy a creature the care of thy providence, the subject of thy grace, and the object of thy benevolence! God hath entertained thoughts of mercy concerning our fallen race, hath visited and redeemed us from the ruins of the apostacy, hath sent his Son into our world, to seek and save that which was lost, and through him is now giving us all things richly to enjoy. His providence is concerned
in our preservation, and in every thing that relates to our present or future happiness. His watchful eye is ever upon us; his hand holds and guides us; his bounty supplies our returning wants; and his power preserves our souls from death. Convinced of these truths, each will acknowledge with the psalmist.“ O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my down sitting, and mine uprising, thou understandest my thoughts afar of. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth
as the day : the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins : thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee ; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being imperfect ; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance, were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with thee.” How sublime, how impressive is this description of the divine conduct towards man! Remember that wherever you are, whatever may be your employment, or your secret devices and practices, by night or by day, you are still with God. He beholds all that you do, and understands your thoughts afar off, long before you have conceived them. What an idea! A being of spotless purity, who hath formed and fashioned you, and who will bring you into judgment; compasseth your
path and your lying down, and is perfectly acquainted with all your ways! Every thought, word, and action, is open to his view, and by him approved, or condemned. Is this true? and can you realize the truth of it? What, then, ought to be your temper and conduct? Think soberly upon the subject, upon your own nature, condition, and destination, and upon the ways of God towards you, and you will find no difficulty in coming to a right conclusion in regard to what is your duty, and what will constitute your highest dignity and happiness. You will perceive that the author of your being hath formed and capacitated you for the exercises of religion, for the rational and refined pleasures of piety and virtue, and that you are under a natural and moral obligation so to employ all your powers and faculties, as to promote the glory, and secure the approbation of your maker and judge. This natural and just conclusion, to which you will be led by a proper acquaintance with yourselves, is strengthened by the consideration that God hath ever been your preserver, your kind almighty friend, your gracious redeemer, your bountiful benefactor. All the good you possess is from him, all you hope to receive must flow from the same source, or
never be realized. Meditate on these truths, and apply them to your own hearts; and you will then make a right improvement of this discourse. You will learn that God made you to serve him, to obey his law, to perform the duties and enjoy the pleasures of religion and vir tue. May a deep sense of these things be im. pressed on your youthful minds, and serve to fortify you against every temptation, and induce you to act worthy of your character as rational creatures, worthy of your rank in the scale of being, worthy of your high destination as the heirs of immortality. Never suffer yourselves, my young friends, to sink below the dignity of your nature, by prostituting the powers of your minds to vain and wicked purposes, or by yielding your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin. Never relinquish the hopes set before you in the gospel of Christ. But, while you cherish a firm belief that God compasseth your path, and is acquainted with all your ways, live in time for eternity, in this world with a view to another. Be sober, be vigilant, and watch unto the end, and we will not cease to pray, that, in respect to pure religion and to every moral and social virtue, our sons may be as plants, grown up in their youth, and our