« PreviousContinue »
upon Pharoah or his courtiers, ordered a fine palace to be erected privately at a considerable distance from a country residence of tire king. It happened that the king, as he was hunting, saw this palace, and inquired by whom it had been built. None of his followers could give him any information, at length Moses came forward, and said to him, that the palace must have built itself! The king fell a laughing at his absurdity, telling him it was a pretty thing for a man who called himself a prophet to say that such a palace had built itself in the middle of a desert! Moses interrupted him with saying, “ You think it a strange extravagance, to affirm that this palace built itself, the thing being impossible, and yet yon believe that the world made itself! If this fine palace which is but an atom in comparison, could not spring from itself in this desert, how much more impossible is it, that this world, so solid, so great, so admirable in all its parts, could be made by itself, and that it should not, on the contrary, be the work of an Architect, wise and powerful!” The king was convinced, and worshipped God, as Moses had instructed him to do."...Bishop Watson.
ILLUSTRATION OF THE EXISTENCE OF
GOD. WE add the subsequent illustration of this fun. damental truth because it cannot be too firmly impressed on the heart of man.
"SEE here I hold a Bible in my hand and you see the cover, the leaves, the letters, the words, but you do not see the writers or the printer, the letter founder, the ink maker, the paper
maker, or the binder. You never did see them, you never will see them; and yet there is not one of you who will think of disputing or de. nying the being of these men. I go farther, I affirm that you see the very souls of these men in seeing this book, and you feel yourselves obliged to allow that, by the contrivance, de. sign, memory, fancy, reason, and so on. In the same manner, if you see a picture, you judge there was a painter; if you see a house, you judge there was a builder of it; and if
you see one room contrived for this purpose and ano. ther for that, a door to enter, a window to ad. mit light, a chimney to hold fire, you conclude that the builder was a person of skill and forecast who formed the house, with a view to the accommodation of its inhabitants. In this man. ner examine the world, and pity the man who when he sees the sign of the wheat-sheaf, hath sense enough to know that there is a joiner, and somewhere a painter, but who, when he. sees the wheat-sheaf itself is so stupid as not to say to himself, “ this had a wise and good Cre. ator !”
A TREE THE EMBLEM OF LIFE.
This object of Nature, which we meet with in every direction, is replete with instruction. The contemplative mind views it with peculiar interest, and derives from it no inconsiderable improvement.
“ AS I sat carelessly at my window and cast my eyes upon a large acacia which grew be. fore me, I conceived that it might aptly repre. sent a couutry divided into provinces, towns,
and families. The largé branches might hold out the first--the smaller branches connected with them, the second--and those combinations of collateral leaves, which specify the acacia might represent families composed of individu. als. It was now late in the year, and the au. tumnal tints had taken possession of great part of the tree.
As I sat looking at it, many of the yellow leaves, (which having been produced earlier decayed sooner) were continually dropping into the lap of their great mother. Here was an emblem of natural decay--the most obvious appearance of mortality.
As I continued looking, a gentle breeze rust. led among the leaves. Many fell, which in a natural course might have enjoyed life longer. Here malady was added to decay.
The blast increased, and every branch which presented itself bowed before it. A shower of leaves covered the ground. The cup of retri. bution, said I, is poured out upon the people. Pestilence shakes the land. Nature sickens in the gale. They fall by multitudes. Whole fa. milies are cut off together.
Among the branches was one entirely wither. ed. The leaves were shrivelled, yet clinging to it. IIere was an emblem of famine. The nutri. ment of life was stopped. Existence was just supported, but every form was emaciated and shrunk.
In the neighbourhood stretched a branch, not only shrivelled and withered, but having been more exposed to winds, it was almost en. tirely stripped of its leaves. Here and there hung a solitary leaf just enough to show that the whole had lately been alive. Ah! said I, here is an emblem of depopulation. Some vio.
lent cause hath laid waste the land. Towns and villages, as well as families are desolated. Scarcely ten are left alive to bemoan a thou. sand.
How does every thing around us bring its lesson to our minds ! Nature is the great book of God. In every page is instruction to those who will read. Morality must claim its due. Death in various shapes hovers round us.--Thus far went the heathen moralist. He had learned no other knowledge from these perishing forms of nature but that men like trees are subject to death. · Better instructed, learn thou a nobler les. son.-Learn that the God who with the blast of winter shrivels the tree and with the breezes of spring restores it, offers it to thee as an emblem of thy liopes! The same God presides over the natural and moral world. His works are uni. form. The truths wbich nature teaches are the truths of revelation also. It is written in both these books, that the power which revives the tree will revive thee also like it, with increasing excellence and improvement."
FIRST PRINCIPLES OF RELIGION, Must be attended to before we can raise a superstructure possessing any degree of strength or beauty ; they are here happily explained.
“HITHERTO you have " thought as a child, and understood as a child; but it is time to put away childish things," and store your mind with those principles which must direct your conduct and fix your character. Virtue and happiness are not attained by chance, or by a
cold and languid approbation ; they must be sought with ardour, attended to with diligence, and every assistance must be eagerly embraced that may enable you to obtain them. Consi. der, that good and evil are now before you ; that, if you do not heartily choose and love the one, you must undoubtedly be the wretched victim of the other.
The first step must be to awaken your mind to a sense of the importance of the task before you. This is no less than to bring your frail nature to that degree of christian perfection which is to qualify it for immortality, and without which it is necessarily incapable of happi. ness; for it is a truth never to be forgotten, that God has annexed happiness to virtue, and misery to vice, by the unchangeable nature of things; and that a wicked being, while he continues such, is under a natural incapacity of enjoying happiness, even with the concur. rence of all those outward circumstances which in a virtuous mind would produce it.
The only sure foundation of human virtue is religion, and the foundation and first principle of religion is the belief of the one only God, and a just sense of his attributes. To form wor. thy notions of the Supreme Being, as far as we are capable, is essential to true religion and morality; for, as it is our duty to imitate those qualities of the Divinity wbich are imitable by us, so is it necessary we should know what they are, and fatal to mistake them.
How lamentable it is, that so few hearts should feel the pleasures of real piety! that prayer and thanksgiving should be performed, as they too often are, not with joy, and love, and gratitude; but with cold indifl'erence, me. lancholy dejection, or secret horror.---Let your