Abbildungen der Seite

divine Majesty enjoys an eternal and inexpressible delight and satisfaction: and thus all things return to that vast and immense ocean, from whence they at first took their rise, according to the expression in the Proverbs, “ He hath made all things for himself* :" and the words of the song in the Revelations are most express to this purpose, “ Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power, for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are, and were created t." Nor could it indeed be otherwise, than that he, who is the beginning of all things, should also be the end of all; a wonderful beginning without a beginning, and an end without an end. So that, as the author of the epistle to the Hebrews reasons concerning the oath of God: “ As he could swear by no greater, he swore by himself.” In like manner we may argue here, as he could propose no greater end or design, he proposed himself. It was the saying of Epicurus, “ That the wise man does every thing for his own sake#:" we, who are otherwise taught, should rather say, that the wise man does nothing for his own sake, but all for that of God. But the most exalted, to be sure, and the wisest of all beings, because he is so, must of necessity do all things for himself; yet, at the same time, all his dispensations, towards his creatures, are most bountiful and benevolent. : That the world was made directly and imme* Prov. xvi. 4.

+ Rev. iv. 11. I Sapientem omnia facere sui causa.

diately for man, is the doctrine not only of the Stoics, but also of the master of the Peripatetic school : “ We are, says he, in some respect, the end of all things*.” And in another place, “ Nature has made all things for the sake of mant." Cicero speaks to the same purposef; and Lactantius more fully than either g. But Moses gives the greatest light on this subject, not only in his history of the creation, but also in Deuteronomy, wherein he warns the Israelites against worshipping of angels : for this reason ; because, says he, they were created for the service of man :" and the sun, in Hebrew, is called Shemesh, which signifies a servant.

But O! whither do our hearts stray! ought we not to dwell upon this pleasant contemplation, and even die in it? I should choose to be quite lost in it, and to be rendered altogether insensible, and, as it were, dead to these earthly trifles, that make a noise around us. O sweet reciprocation of mutual delights! “ The Lord shall rejoice in his works |l,” says the Psalmist: and, presently after,

My meditation of him shall be sweet, I will be glad in the Lord.” Let us look sometimes to the heavens, sometimes to the sea, and the earth, with the animals and plants that are therein, and very often to ourselves ; and in all these, and in every thing else, but in ourselves particularly, let us contemplate God, the common Father of all, and our most exalted Creator, and let our contemplation excite our love.

* Symus enim et nos quodammodo omnium finis. 2 Phys. tit. 23. + Natura hominum gratia omnia fecit.

De legibus. ♡ Sol irrequietis cursibus et spatiis inequalibus orbes conficit, &c. ad finem capitis, De ira Dei. Cap. 13, 14. || Psal. civ. 31.

q Ibid. ver. 34.

They, who have sent the ignorant and unlearned to pictures and images, as books proper for their instruction, have not acted very wisely, nor has that expedient turned out happily or luckily for the advantage of that part of mankind; but surely this great volume, or system, which is always open, and exposed to the view of all, is admirably adapted to the instruction both of the vulgar and the wise ; so that Chrysostom had good reason to call it “The great book for the learned and unlearned*.” And the saying of St Basil is very much to the

much to the purpose, “ From the beauty of those things, which are obvious to the eyes of all, we acknowledge that his inexpressible beauty excels that of all the creatures; and from the magnitude of those sensible bodies, that surround us, we conclude the infinite and immense goodness of their Creator, whose plenitude of power exceeds all thought, as well as expressiont.

* Βιβλίον μέγισον και ιδιώταις και σόφους.

* 'Εκ τα κάλλες των δρωμένων τον υπέρκαλον εννοώμεθα και εκ το μεγέθες των αισθητων τετων και περιγραπίων σωμάτων αναλογιζώμεθα άπειρον και υπερμεγέθη και πάσαν διάνοιαν εν τω πλήθει πώς εαυτό διyajews ÜmegBaívovra.' Alex. hom. i.

For this very end it evidently appears, all things were made, and we are the only visible beings that are capable of this contemplation : “ The world, says St Basil, is a school, or seminary, very proper for the instruction of rational souls in the knowledge of God*.” We have also the angels, those ministers of fire, to be spectators with us on this theatre. But will any of us venture to conjecture, what they felt, and what admiration seized them, when they beheld those new kinds of creatures rising into being, and those unexpected scenes, that were successively added to the preceding ones, on each of the six days of that first remarkable week: “ When he laid the foundations of the earth, and placed the corner stone thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy t.”

But ( the stupidity of mankind! All those stupendous objects are daily round us; but because they are constantly exposed to our view, they never affect our minds : so natural is it for us to admire new, rather than grand objects. Therefore the vast multitude of stars, which diversify the beauty of this immense body, does not call the people together ; but, when any change happens therein, the eyes of all are fixed upon the heavens. . Nobody looks at the sun, but when he is obscured; nobody observes the moon, but when she is eclipsed, then

* ο κόσμος ψυχων λογικων διδασκαλειον και της θεογνωσίας παιδευrýgrov. Alex. hom. i.

+ Job xxxvii. 6, 7.

[ocr errors]


nature seems to be in danger, then vain superstition is alarmed, and every one is afraid for himself*.” “ But surely, says St Bernard, concerning the sun and moon, these are great miracles, very great to be sure: but the first production, or creation of all things, is a vast miracle, and makes it easy to believe all the rest ; so that, after it, nothing ought to excite our wondert."


[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

This great theatre being built, besides those spectators, which had been but lately placed in the higher seats, it pleased the supreme Creator and Lord to have another company below, as it were in the area': these he called forth into being by creation, and man was introduced into this area, “to be a spectator of him and of his works; yet not a spectator only, but also to be the interpreter of

* Sol Spectatorem, nisi cum deficit, non habet; nemo observat lunam nisii laborantem, tunc orbes conclamant, tunc pro se quisq; superstitione vana trepidat. Sen.

† Magna sunt hæc miracula, magna nimis ita est ; miraculum autem immensum est ipsa prima omnium productio, seu creatio, quæ miraculorum omnium adeo facilem fidem facit, ut post ean nihil sit mirum.

« ZurückWeiter »