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thanks, Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art. to come, Rev. xi. 17. though the eternal Being had never said of himself, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. Rev. i. 8. Yea, though the eternal Being had never cona vinced me of his grandeur by the works of his hands, if I had been all alone in the nature of beings, I should have been forced to admit an eternal Being. And this proposition, There is an eternal Being, naturally flows from those, I exist, and I am not the author of my own existence; for if I be not the author of my own existence, I owe it to another Being. That Being to whom I owe my existence, derives his from himself, or like me, owes it to another. If he . exist of himself, behold the eternal Being whom I have been seeking; if he derive his existence from another, I reason about him as about the former. Thus I ascend, thus I am constrained to ascend, till I arrive at that Being who exists of himself, and who hạth always so existed.
Let such of you, my brethren, as cannot follow this reasoning, blame only themselves. Let not such people say, these are abstruse and metaphysical reflections, which should never be brought into these assemblies. It is not fair that the incapacity of a small number, an incapacity caused by their voluntary attachment to sensible things, and (so to speak) by their criminal interinent in matter; it is not right that this should retard the edification of a whole people, and prevent the proposing of the first principles of natural religion. Eternity enters then into the idea of the creative Being ; and this is what we proposed to prove.
2. Omniscience, intimate acquaintance, and, in a manner, the presence of all that is, of all that has been, of all that shall be, is the second idea which we form of the Deity. The more we meditate on the essence and self-existence of the eternal Being, the more are we convinced that omniscience necessarily belongs to eternity ; so that to have proved tbat God possesses the first of these attributes, is to have proved that he possesses the second. But as I am cer. tain, that a great number of my hearers would charge those reflections with obscurity, of which they are ignorant only through their own inattention, I will not undertake to prove, by a chain of propositions, that the eternal Being knows all things ; that, as author of all, he knows the nature of all ; that, knowing the nature of all, he knows what must result from all. It will be better to give you this subject ready digested in our holy scriptures, than to oblige you to collect
it by your own meditation. Recal then on this article these expressions of the sacred writers : 0 Lord, thou knowest all things, John xxi. 17. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it? I.the Lord search the heart and try the reins, Jer. xvii. 9, 10. Known unto him are all his works from the beginning, Acts xv. 18. The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the points and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight, Heb. iv. 12, &c. Some interpreters think, that by the word of God, we must understand here, not the gospel of Jesus Christ, as the phrase is generally understood, but his person. If this be St. Paul's idea, he uses, methinks, the same metaphysical reasoning which we have proposed : that is, that he who created all, knows all. Observe how this reasoning is followed and developed in the apostle's words. The word of God, or as it is in the Greek, the logos, the word of God is quick and powerful; that is to say, that as Jesus Christ, as God, hath a fund of life and existence, he hath also freely and effectually communicated life and existence to others. In this sense it is elsewhere said, that by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, Col. i. 16. And in St. John's gospel, In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.
All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made, John i. l, 3. But this word, quick and powerful, who hath given being to all, perfectly knows' all, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart; neither is there any. creature that is not manifest in his sight, but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Onniscience, intimate knowledge, and, as I said before, the presence of all that is, of all that was, of all that shall be, are as essential to God as eternity. This also, we hope, is sufficiently proved.
3. Supreme felicity is the third idea we have formed of God; it flows immediately from the two first. Every intelligent being is capable of happiness, nor can he regard
happiness with indifference; he is inclined by his very nature to render himself happy. He cannot love misery as misery : he never suffers a present misery but in hopes of a future pleasure; or else he supports a misery because it appears to him more tolerable than the means proposed to deliver him. Even they, who have wilfully plunged themselves into the gulfs of hell, in a fit of black melancholy, would not have taken that dreadful step, had they not revolved this melancholy imagination in their distracted minds, that the assurance of being plunged into hell is less tolerable than hell itself. It implies a contradiction, that an intelligent being, capable of being happy or miserable, should be indifferent to his own happiness or misery. If any thing be wanting to the felicity of God, the defect must not be attributed to his will, the cause inust be sought in his weakness, that is, in his want of power. · But who can conceive that a Being, who existed from all eternity, who gave existence to all things, and who knows all things, hath only a finite and limited power ? I am well aware of the difficulty of following the attributes of the Deity, and that, in the greatest part of our reasonings on this grand subject, we suppose what ought to be proved. But as far as we are capable of penetrating this profound subject, we have grounds for reasoning in this manner: God hath given being to ali things, and he saw what must result from them ; it depended then entirely on him to form the plan of the world or not to form it; to be alone or to impart existence: It depended on him to form the plan of such a world as we see, or to form another plan. He hath followed, in the choice which he hath made, that which was most proper for his own glory. If, to these feeble speculations, we join the infallible testimony of revelation, we shall find a perfect agreement with our ideas on this article: that the Creator is the happy God by excellence, and that because he is eternal and omniscient, he must for these very reasons be infinitely happy. This article also is sufficiently proved.
These three ideas of the Deity are three sources of proofs, in favour of St. Peter's proposition in the words of my text, a thousand years before the Lord are as one day, and one day as a thousand years. .
God is an eternal Being. Then a thousand years with him are as one day, and one day as a thousand years; that is to say, a thousand years and one day are such inconsiR. COLT
ned in this matter. 8. but
derable measures of duration, that, whatever disproportion they have to each other, they appear to have none when compared with the duration of eternity. There is a great difference between one drop of water and the twenty thousand baths, which were contained in that famous vessel in Solomon's temple, which, on account of its matter and capacity, was called the sea of brass, i Chron. xviii. 8. but this vesse litself, in comparison of the sea, properly so called, was so small, that when we compare all it could contain with the sea, the twenty thousand baths, that is, one hundred and sixty thousand pounds weight, appear only as a drop of water. The extreme difference between that quanrity of water and a little drop vanishes when compared with the ocean. One drop of water with the sea is as twenty thousand baths, and twenty thousand baths are as one drop of water. There is a great difference between the light of a taper and that of a flambeau : but expose both to the light of the sun, and their difference will be imperceptible. The light of a light taper before the sun is as the light of a flam beau, and the light of a flambeau as that of a little taper. In like manner, eternal duration is so great an object, that it causeth every thing to disappear that can be compared with it. A thousand years are no more before this than one day, nor one day than a thousand years; and these two terms, so unequal in themselves, seem to have a perfect equality when compared with eternity. We, minute creatures, we consider a day, an hour, a quarter of an hour, as a very little space in the course of our lives: we lose without scruple a day, an hour, a quarter of an hour: but we are very much to blame; for this day, this hour, this quarter of an hour, should we even live a whole age, would be a considerable portion of our life. But, if we attend to the little probability of our living a whole age; if we reflect that this little space of time, of which we are so profuse, is the only space we can call our own; if we seriously think that one quarter of an hour, that one hour, that one day is perhaps the only time given us to prepare our accounts, and to decide our eternal destiny; we should have reason to acknowledge, that it was madness to lose the least part of so short a life. But God revolves (if I may venture to say so) in the immense 'space of eternity. Heap millions of ages upon millions of ages, add new millions to new millions, all this is nothing in comparison of the duration of the eternal Being. In this
sense, a thousand years are as one day, and one day, as a thousand years.
2. God knows all. Then, a thousand years are with him as one day, and one day as a thousand years; because he sees no more in a thousand years than in one day ; because he sees as much in one day as he can see in a thousand years. Ignorance and uncertainty are the principal causes that make us think a short space of time a long duration; especially, when our ignorance and uncertainty respect things which we ardently desire to know: Hope deferred maketh the heart sick, is a saying of the wise man. Prov. xiii, 12. The very time, in which we are in suspense about an apprehended evil is insupportable unto us. It seems to us, while we expect a tatal sentence, that we are every moment suffering its execution. . God knows all. He sees all that was, all that is, all that ever will be. That moment, which he assigned for the formation of this universe, is as present to his mind as that, which he hath determined for its destruction. He knows the success of the various plans, which at present exercise the speculations of the greatest geniusses, and which occasion an infinite number of different opinions among politicians. He knows to what lengths that tyrant, who is the scourge of the whole earth, shall carry his rage. He knows how long that empire shall maintain its dignity, which at present subsists with so inuch glory. He knows during what space Antichrist shall yet oppose the dominion of the king Messiah: and when the king Messiah shall make him lick the dust. He knows when the air shall resound with that comfortable exclamation, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit! Rev. xviii. 2. . .
3. In fine, God is supremely happy. Then, a thousand years with him are as one day, and one day as a thousand years. In the enjoyment of perfect happiness, the duration of time is imperceptible. Placed, as we are, my dearest brethren, in this valley of miseries, tasting only imperfect and imbittered pleasures, it is very difficult for us to conceive the impression, which felicity makes on an intelligence supremely happy. If the enjoyment of some small good make us conceive to a certain degree a state, in which ages appear moments, the miseries inseparable from our lives presently, Teplunge us into a state, in which moments appear ages; in which sorrows of the body, and sorrows of the mind, fre