Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

with being the head, assumed to himself the whole bo-r dy of worldly empire.

As silver, b: ass, and iron, have less value than gold, the monarchies of Persia, Greece, and Rome, which succeeded, must have had less splendor and dignity than the Assyrian; and the Roman must have been the basest of all, if the Scripture is just in its comparison. If we were to enter into the question, how kingdoms are debased, we might obtain some light from the case of the Roman empire, as it is stated in this prophecy. This empire then, though strong as iron in war, was of a baser nature than those which preceded, because it was unnaturally compounded of miry clay mixed with its iron; which two would never incorporate. It was compounded of military power and popular authority; to unite which, all attempts were unsuccessful; and, consequently, with all that hardness of iron, with which it bruised and broke in pieces other nations, there was ^ constitutional weakness; by reason of which, it was vexed and broken at home with eternal balancings and divisions; and,when it had conqueied the world, it became its own executioner. The words of this prophecy are very remarkable, when applied to the character and constitution of the Roman state. It was partly strong as iron in military force, and partly broken, from this unnatural mixture in the materials of its government. By the mingling of iron with miry clay, as it is interpreted for us by the Prophet, it was signified, that they of this, kingdom should mingle themselves with the seed oj men, and not cleave to one another, even as iron is not mivedwith clay. Imperial power in the Scripture, is a divine institution, of heavenly original ; and to suppose \t an human thing, and derive it from the power of the people, as the Romans did, is to mingle it with the seed of men, and debase the nature of it; of which the certain consequence is disunion and weakness : for no state can be strong in itself, which is founded on principles subversive of God's authority. Under the Assyrian monarchy and the Persian, and the kingdoms of Greece, in the age of Homer, there was no question concerning the origin of power ; it arose afterwards amongst the Greeks; and the popular scheme attained its highest degree of absurdity under the Romans. Would to God it had never found its way amongst Christians; where it has done infinite mischief, and will probably continue so to do, till it has undermined the peace of all mankind, and unhinged the whole political world ! Majesty, when it is in kings, is where God hath placed it: honour is then in the fountain of honour; but the majesty of the people, which the enthusiastic vanity of the Romans hath so magnified, and in which they have been followed, for Selfish ends, by libertines and deistical philosophers, is contrary to all the ideas of revelation, and is inconsistent with common sense. A people may seem to themselves to rise higher, as the power of government sinks lower; but it is all a deception; for nothing can be more evident than that nations are debased in the estimation of the world, by the doctrines of anarchy. For which of the two is the most respectable; the house wherein there is a proper respect kept up : or that where there is none? The family of the nobleman whose domestics are under his authority, preserves an appearance of greatness and elegance; but the publick house, where the people who fill it are upon a level with the householder, is a scene of vulgarity and disorder. 5. And now, what should be the end of all our researches into Nature and the Scripture, but to delight

in giving God the honour that is due to him? For his pleasure all things were made; and he will be pleased with men when they glorify him in his works. We should therefore call upon all nature to join with us in a Psalm of praise and thanksgiving, after the example of the royal prophet: Praise the Lord, ye mountains and all hills, fruitful trees and all cedars, beasts and all cattle—Let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad; for the name of the Lord is eacellent, and his praise is above heaven and earth,

To him therefore, &c.

SERMON IV.

FOR THE INVISIBLE THINGS OP HIM FROM THE CREATION OF THE WOULD ARE CLEARLY SEEN, BK1NG UNDERSTOOD BY THE THINGS THAT ARE MADE, EVEN HIS ETERNAL POWER AND GODHEAD; ROM.

1.20,

1 HE wisdom of God in the natural creation, is a proper subject of the lecture delivered in this [place upon this occasion*: but as the knowledge of the Scriptures is not excluded, I may be permitted to bring Ihem both together into one discourse: for they illustrate one another in a wonderful manner: and he who can understand God as the fountain of truth, and the Saviour of men, in the holy Scripture, will be better disposed to understand and adore him as the fountain of power and goodness in the natural creation.

To those who search for it, and have pleasure in receiving it, there is a striking alliance between the oeconomy of Nature, and the principles of divine revelation; and unless we study both together, we shall be liable to mistake things now, as the unbelieving Sadducees did, in their vain reasonings with our blessed Saviour. They erred, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God: they neither understood themsepaately, nor knew how to compare them together.

* This Sermon was preached at St. Leonard's, Shorcdith, on Tuesday, in Witsuu Week, 1?87, on Mr I-'uijxhild's foundation.

Men eminently learned, and worthy of all commendation, have excelled in demonstrating the wisdom of God from the works of Nature: hut in this one respect they seem to have heen deficient; in that they have but rarely turned their arguments to the particular advantage of the Christian Revelation, by bringing the volume of Nature in aid to the volume of the Scripture; as the times now call upon us to do : for we have been threatened, in rery indecent and insolent language of late years, with the superior reasonings and forces of natural philosophy; as if our late researches into Nature had put some new weapons into the hands of Infidelity, which the friends of the Christian Religion "will be unable to stand against. One writer, in particular, who is the most extravagant in his philosophical flights, seems to have persuaded himself, and would -persuade us, that little more is required to overthrow the whole faith and oeconomyof the Church of England, than a philosophical apparatus; and that every prelate and priest amongst us hath reason to tremble at the sight. This is not the voice of piety or learning, but' of vapouring vanity and delusion. Neither a Bacon, nor a Bogle, nor a Newton would ever had desceuded to such language, so contrary to their good manners and religious sentiments; the first of whom hath wisely observed, that the works of God minister a singular help and preservative against unbelief and error z our Saviour, as he saith, having laid before us two books or volumes to study; first the Scriptures, revealing the will of God, and then the creatures, ex pressing his power; whereof the latter is a key unt6 the former *. Such was the piety and penetration of this great man. However, let us not take it amiss, that, at certain times, we are rudely attacked and in

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »