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little globe, invisible to all but its few neighbouring planets, were to vanish; the human race would not feel the loss, if an insignificant individual like myself, unknown but to a small circle of acquaintance, were to disappear from among them. How then, he continues, can I be so presumptuous as to flatter myself with the vain conceit, that God has any care for me, when perhaps he has not even any knowledge of my existence? He is engaged in superintending the weighty concerns of his universal empire, guiding millions and millions of worlds in their several courses, exercising his authority over armies of mighty spirits, displaying the wonders of his power and glory throughout the immeasurable extent of infinite space, and can such a God, so occupied, have time or inclination to interest himself about the concerns of a little being like myself, a mere insect creeping upon the earth? Will the faint sound of my feeble voice reach his ears, or arrest his attention for a moment? Will my little griefs excite his compassion, my trifling cares engage his thoughts? Will it concern him, that I am weak and miserable, and need his help and comfort ? Will he descend so low as to make my welfare and happiness a motive for the least exertion of his almighty arm? Proud, vain mortal, know thine own littleness, return to thy place among the worms of the earth, thy natural kindred,* and think not that the eternal and infinite God owns any interest in thee or thy affairs !
But even worse remains. If God should not overlook me, if he should spy me out in this remote corner of the universe, and deign to bestow some of his attention upon me and my proceedings, alas! what would he behold ? a base, vile creature, polluted with sin, transgressing what I know to be his holy laws, neglecting to perform what I understand to be his divine will, acting in opposition to the reason he has given me for my guidance, overpowered by evil passions and desires, indolent and careless in his service, cold in my devotions, not confiding in his providence, inobservant of his glorious works, unthankful for his mercies, fearless of his displeasure! Oh it were better he did not see me, for how can he behold me, such as I am, and not regard me with anger and abhorrence?”
In these unhappy reflections, (the like, to which, I have no doubt, often arise in an anxious, fearful mind,) two causes of distress are mentioned,-man's insignificancy, and his sinfulness; --the one seeming to render it unlikely that God should observe him at all the other, that he
Job xvii, 14
should regard him with favour. We must consider them separately.
Man's insignificancy; let us see first what natural reason says upon this subject, and then confirm that by scripture.
Why do I speak of natural reason to an assembly of christians, whose creed in divine things is the word of God? Why not refer to that word at once for a solution of the matter? Because, my brethren, if the scriptures were fully believed and relied on by all, those feelings would never be entertained, those complaints never uttered or indulged; “ all men have not faith,” no, not even all that are called christians; and the faith even of established and pious christians sometimes wavers and weakly yields to doubt and difficulty. It is therefore in many instances useful to show how the truths of revelation correspond with the conclusions of that reason which God has given us; and it will not, I trust, be unprofitable in the
I present case, although I must charge you to bear in mind that the only sure and solid foundation of your religious belief is holy scripture. “What is truth?” asked Pilate. The christian knows how to answer,—" thy word, O God, is truth." Nevertheless there are truths which may be ascertained by our own natural faculties ; and this which I am about to speak of, is one of them.
You imagine then that the insignificancy of man removes him beyond the reach of God's notice and care. David himself arguing on the grounds of natural reason, thus wisely condemns and rebukes this opinion; "take heed ye unwise among the people; O ye fools, when will ye understand? He that made the ear, shall he not hear? or he that made the eye shall he not see?” He means, that since God made all things, it is folly to suppose that he does not know and continually perceive every thing which he has made. What atom in all the universe did he not create? And what did he create uselessly and without a purpose? And how can he be indifferent whether any thing that came into existence only by his sovereign will, and for some wise reasons of his own, answers the end for which it was designed? And what can exist any longer than he sustains it by his ever active influence? If we could suppose it possible for him to relinquish the government of the world, and to withdraw the support which it now perpetually receives from him, all things would either be annihilated at once and disappear, or else fall into infinite confusion. For reason tells us that the scripture account must be correct, which says that “ by him and through him are all things ;” and that “ he upholdeth all things by the word of his power.” All things beside, and not man? The irrational animals, senseless and motionless matter, trees, and plants, and rocks, and water, and air, and not man, superior to all these? Man, whom he has endued with faculties capable of admiring bis works, and in some measure of understanding them; of being employed in his service, of know
; ing somewhat of his nature, and of imitating his perfections.? Or the whole human race at large, and not every individual man who is a component part of it? Or the body of man, and not his more excellent and peculiar part, the soul?
Since it pleased God to create such a being as man, it cannot be a subject of indifference to him, whether he, (his soul particularly) answers the end for which he was created; he cannot forget the work of his own hands, it cannot be to him a matter of unconcern whether this his creation lives, and acts, and thinks in a manner consistent with his wise intentions. He shows it even in this world, by appointing misery to be the consequence of vice, and making virtue à source of happiness; all things else do his will by the necessity of their nature. He marks whether man (to whom he has allowed the power of disobedience) is inclined to serve him by choice and preference; he is not inattentive to their desires, whose anxious wish and earnest endeavour it is