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untary; but this is equally mysterious. How is it, that a mere act of will contracts or extends the muscles of our bodies? How it is, that our volition should impart motion to the various members of our bodily frame, no philosopher or anatomist can explain.
Moreover, the mind is as wonderful as the body. This cannot be an object of sense; although it is an object of immediate consciousness. We perceive that there is something within us, superiour to that gross matter, of which the body consists. We can think, reason, and reflect; can review and contemplate our own thoughts; can call to remembrance things past; can look forward and make conjectures on things to come. In our meditations we can, in a moment, pass to distant regions and to distant worlds, and thence return at our pleasure.
The mind is in some inexplicable manner, so united to the body, that it receives all its information by means of the bodily organs. Besides, a disorder of body affects and deranges the powers of the mind; and afflictions and sorrows of mind, debilitate and waste the body. Hence we know, that there is an intimate union between these constituent parts of
This union is necessary to the present state; but its nature, in what it consists, how it is preserved, how the soul can act in the body, and how it will receive and communicate ideas in a separate, invisible state, we cannot, at present, understand. That the soul can act in a state of separation, may be possible; for we find, that even now the greater part of its exercises, are, in a certain sense, independent of the bodily senses. It is indeed dependent on these for the first reception of its ideas; but when it has received them, it can review and compare them, and make deductions from them, without aid from the
What a mystery are we to ourselves! We cannot explain the powers we possess; nor the motions and
actions we daily perform. Well may it be said, We are wonderfully made! When we look abroad and behold the manifold works of God, are they marvellous in our eyes? And does the great scheme of divine revelation, or do the doctrines of the gospel appear incomprehensible? Let us only contemplate our own frame, and we become a wonder, and incomprehensible to ourselves.
But how are we to understand the Psalmist when he says, We are fearfully made.
To this inquiry let us now give our attention.
1st. The expression imports the dignity of man in comparison with other creatures of this lower world. Man is so made, that the sight of him impresses a terrour on the beasts of the earth. Moses informs us, That God made man in his own image, and gave him dominion over every beast of the earth. When Noah came forth from the ark, God blessed him and his sons; and said, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you, and the dread of you, shall be upon every beast of the eartb, and upon all that moveth on the earth. Into your hand they are delivered. To the same purpose are the words of the Psalmist: God made man a little lower than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honour, and gave him dominion over the works of his hands, and put all things under his feet. These expressions proclaim the dignity of man, and his
superiour station, compared with the animal creation." Many of the animals are superiour to man in strength and activity, and armed with weapons of destruction superiour to any which man naturally possesses for his defence; yet the most ferocious of them will retreat before him. If they ever assault him, it is in some peculiar circumstance; as when they are jealous for their young, provoked with wounds, or enraged by hunger. There is something in the human attitude and aspect, which strikes them with terrour and restrains their ferocity. Yea, many of the beasts
readily submit to man's dominion, and suffer him to employ their superiour strength in his service. And St. James asserts, That every kind of beasts is tamed and hath been tamed of mankind.
Moreover, were it not for this dread of man, which is impressed on the beasts of the earth, we should be obliged always to stand armed for our defence against them. Hence the wilderness would become their exclusive habitation; our life would be a state of anxiety and terrour; and we could neither occupy the fields, nor walk the roads, nor sleep in our houses with safety. Thus we may see that man is fearfully made; as the dignity of his person awes the animals of the earth to submission, or else strikes them with dread, and excites them to shun his presence.
3d. We are fearfully made, as the Creator has impressed upon us evident marks of our immortality and accountableness. The distinguishing faculties of our minds demonstrate that we were created for greater and nobler purposes than any of the animals around us. It does not appear consistent with the Divine wisdom and goodness, and with the economy every where observable in the works of God, that he should make such beings solely for a sphere so low as the present world, and for a duration so short as the present life. If our existence is to cease with the death of the body, why has the inspiration of the Almighty given us understanding ? If we are designed only to eat, drink, and sleep, provide a successor, and then return to eternal oblivion, of what use is forethought and reflection, moral discernment, and a sense of obligation ?
In the present state we find ourselves capable of progress and improvement; but we never rise to the perfection to which, in a longer space, we might attain. And many of our mortal race are removed, before they have opportunity for any improvement at
all. Must there not, then, be another state, in which we may reach the perfection of which our nature is capable, but which is unattainable here? Instinct in beasts is perfect at first. The young are nearly as sagacious as the old, in finding or constructing their habitations, in seeking and distinguishing their proper food, in the retreating from dangers, in taking their
prey, in evading or resisting an enemy, and in every thing which belongs to their sphere of action. In man, reason is developed gradually, is improved by experience, and assisted by example and instrucion; and, under proper culture, makes observable progress. But before it can reach its end, its
proress is arrested by death. Must we not, then, conlude, that there is another state, in which the soul nay still press forward, and reach that degree of knowledge and virtue, for which the present life is ar too short?
There is in all men a desire of immortality; and chis desire will doubtless be gratified. This world is well adapted to our condition, in regard to our bodily frame; for every passion and inclination, which belong to our animal nature, and is not a corruption or perversion of the same, can find an object for gratification. And shall we suppose, that the desire of immortality has no object? This would be to suppose that the works of God are inconsistent and unharmonious. That the desire of immortality is wrought in us by the Creator, is evident from its universality. If it were the effect of education, it would not possess all men, in all ages and countries; but would be confined to particular persons or places. This argument the apostle Paul considers, as conclusive. For the earnest expectation of the creature, waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope. Now he who hath wrought us to this self same thing,
is God. This is evident, for in respect to this desire of immortality, the whole creation, or the whole human race, groaneth and travelleth together.
Moreover we carry with us evidence, not only of immortality, but also of accountableness. There is in every man a moral principle, which, being in any degree enlightened, feels its obligation to avoid the evil and embrace the good. Whenever the difference between moral good and evil is stated, it is discerned and allowed by the mind. With
With very little instruction, man is enabled to see the essential difference between the nature of virtue and vice. Besides, the paths of wickedness are accompanied with remorse; but the work of righteousness, is peace.
Certainly, then, we are accountable beings; and, in a future state, shall receive according to our moral characters. And how solemn the thought that we are under the eye of a holy God, are on probation for his favour, are responsible for all our moral actions; that we must exist for ever in another state, and that our condition there will be according to the course which we shall have pursued here ! Does our very make teach us these momentous truths ? Surely we may say, We are fearfully made.
2nd. We are fearfully made; as our frame demonstrates the power, wisdom, and presence of God. Such a wonderful composition as man, must be the effect of Divine intelligence; must be the work of an infinite, independent, all wise Creator. David exclaims, Marvellous are thy works, O God! and that my soul knoweth full well.
Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being iinperfect; and in thy book were all my members written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest part of the earth.
As the frame of our bodies proves God's agency, so the powers of our mind demonstrate his perfect