صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

them in exact subserviency to the end, for which they were made.

If the power of God reaches to all these events, it is as great as is either possible, or desirable; it is infinite. If it comes short of either, it is finite; and announces to the universe manifest and imminent danger to be apprehended from the feebleness of one too impotent to wield the scepter. But instead of suffering any disquietude from this quarter, creatures have the utmost reason to feli citate themselves and be joyful, that empire is just where it ought to be; where the nature and fitness of things requires that it should be; and where the united voice of all truly reasonable beings would place it. It is in hands, which have power enough for any exigency, and which will not abuse power, to whatever degree they may have it. our world, nothing is, perhaps, more an object of dread, than power, at the same time, that nothing is more insatiably coveted. It does more to excite envy and jealousy, than all other things combined. This, however, is wholly owing to the depraved and misguided inclinations of those, who seek, and of those, who exercise, it. But what is the true definition of power, which is a thing, that may be the occasion of either joy or sorrow? Power may be distinguished into natural, moral, and civil, according to the nature of the subject, to which it has respect. Natural, or physical power is the medium, by which things, of whatever description, come


into being, and is the proper subject of the present discourse. Moral power is that quality of the mind, in which consists either praise or blame. Civil power is that authority, or right, to command, which one may have over another, and is just or unjust, according to the manner, in which it is acquired, or is exercised. At present we have nothing to do except with the first of these three kinds of power. And concerning this, I know of no better account that can be given of it, than to say it is that agency, or influence, by which effects are produced. To say, specifically, what that influence is, must be deemed impossible, at least, as much so as to say why water runs down rather than up. We know there is an established law of nature, which requires it; but of this law we know nothing, except that it is an influence from the primeval cause of all things. Power always conveys the idea of cause and effect. know something of the cause, and something of the effect, but power seems to be a sort of intermediate idea, of which little can be said, that would be intelligible. A cause will be said to have power to produce the effect; and if this be correct phraseology, then power is neither cause nor effect, but something between, and the bond which unites them together. Though in the common exercises and employments of life we often speak of power, as if no difficulty attended it, but it were as intelligible as the plainest facts, as thus ; "Have we not power to eat and

We may

drink?" yet it ought to be remembered, that power, strictly speaking, does not reside in creatures. "We are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but all our sufficiency is of God." A creature can originate nothing. "The way of man is not in himself. It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." In reality there is no power but in God; for that which is derived and dependent is nothing, when separated, or cut off, from the fountain, by which it is supplied. The question, then, eventually comes to this: What is God's power to create? With some of his works, or what may be called the manifestations of his power, we have a partial acquaintance. We see enough to indicate to us a great active cause giving birth to things; but how he brings them into existence, is as great a mystery, as his being. When a builder goes forth to raise a stately edifice, we see him, with his mechanic instruments, go from the finishing of one part of the structure to another; and by and by the whole presents itself to view. This, we may fancy, will yield us an example of power, or the mutual relation of cause and effect. Let us, in imagination, recur to that ancient period, when wisdom dwelt with prudence and found out knowledge of witly inventions; before God's works of old; or ever the earth was; when there were no depths; when there were no fountains abounding with water; before the mountains were settled, or the hills were brought forth; while as

yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world; then let us attentively remark the operations of the divine hand, in giving to the world its existence and form. "For he spake, and it was done he commanded, and it stood fast." That any other kind of exertion, than an act of will, was necessary, or was actually called forth, to rear up and organize a world, does not appear. And what infallible connection there can be between an exercise of the divine will and the consequent existence of creatures is, I believe, beyond the conception of men or angels. That God has power, or in other words, whenever he wills an effect, it necessarily takes place, we need not prove; but go on, as was proposed, to show

First. That God must have power to cause the existence of any thing which is necessary, or can be of use, to promote his own glory. It is not necessary that we, or any other than himself, should know, what particular productions would best answer the grand design, and put the best complexion upon his kingdom. That he should know, and knowing should be able to effect, the wisest economy for the aggrandizing of his own name, is of the same importance, as that the universe should not be overwhelmed with disorder and ruin. If millions of worlds, such as this we dwell in, and all peopled with creatures like ourselves, were needed to give the noblest and most exalted view of God; nay if the number were to be increas Hh

ed a thousand fold, it would be necessary that they all should come within the reach of divine power, in order that one intelligent creature, as mean and unimportant as man, should have sufficient cause to place implicit confidence in the being, to whom the government and disposal of him appertains. Could we conceive that the power of God might be exhausted, or meet with obstacles too great to be surmounted; that the Deity might become weary, and faulter under his task, how much soever he may have previously accomplished; could we rationally desire that he might be our God and we be his people? Whenever his power shall find itself outmatched, he will cease to have a claim to the confidence of creatures. It will no longer be a certainty, that he will do right. The rectitude of Jehovah cannot be absolute and entire, so long as a single flaw remains; or while it is a fact, that more might be done to advantage than is done; or, in other words, while the dignity and beauty of his kingdom suffer, in any respect, for want of the most perfect support. And if there be any defect in God, on the score of his rectitude, can it be imputed to any one, as a crime, that he withholds from him such entire confidence, as a belief of his perfect rectitude is alone able to inspire? A being who is almighty, in the fullest and most litteral sense, is the only one fit to be God, and to be trusted as such. And to be al

mighty is not only to be greatly above all

« السابقةمتابعة »