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ference to one creature than another according as we rise one above another in the scale of existence.
9. But the widest of these our spheres has its circumference, When therefore we reflect on the divine nature, we are so used and accustomed to this imperfection in ourselves, that we cannot forbear in some measure ascribing it to him in whom there is no shadow of imperfection. Our reason indeed assures us that his attributes are infinite, but the poorness of our conceptions is such that it cannot forbear setting bounds to every thing it contemplates, till our reason comes again to our succour, and throws down all those little prejudices which rise in us unawares, and are natural to the mind of man.
10. We shall therefore utterly extinguish this melancholy thouglıt, of our being overlooked by our Maker in the multiplicity of his works, and the infinity of those objects among which he seems to be incessantly employed, if we consider, in the first place, that he is omnipresent; and in the second, that he is om niscient.
If we consider him in his omnipresence : his being passes through, actuates and supports the whole frame of nature. His creation, and every part of it, is full of him.
11. There is nothing he has made, that is either so distant, so little, or so inconsiderable, which he does not essentially inhabit. His substance is within the substance of every being, whether material or immaterial, and is intimately present to it, as that being is to itself. It would be an imperfection in him, were he able to remove out of one place into another, or to withdraw himself from any thing he has created, or from any part of that space which is diffused and spread abroad to infinity, In short, to speak of him in the language of the old philosophers, he is a being whose centre is every where, and his circumference no where.
12. In the second place, he is omniscient as well as omnipresent. His omniscience indeed necessarily and naturally flows from his omnipresence. He cannot but he conscious of every motion that arises in the whole material world, which he thus essentially pervades; and of every thought that is stirring in the intellectual world, to every part of which he is thus intimately united. Several moralists have considered the creation as the temple of God, which he has built with his own hands, and which is filled with his presence.
19. Others have considered infinite space as the receptacle, or rather the habitation of the Almighty; but the noblest and most exalted way of considering this infinite space is that of Sir Isaac Newton, who calls it the sensorium of the Godhead. Brutes and men have their sensoria, or little sensoriums, by
which they apprehend the presence and perceive the actions of a few objects that lie contiguous to them. Their knowledge and observation turn within a very narrow circle. But as God Almighty cannot but perceive and know every thing in which he resides, infinite space gives room to infinite knowledge, and is, it
were, an organ to omniscience. 14. Were the soul separate from the body, and with one glance of thought should start beyond the bounds of the creation; should it for millions of years continue its progress through infinite space with the same activity, it would still find itself within the embrace of its Creator, and encompassed round with the immensity of the Godhead. While we are in the body he is not less present with us, because he is concealed from us. Oh that I knew where I might find him ! seys Job. Behold I go forward, but he is not there ; and backward, but I cannot perceive him; on the left hand, where he does work, but I cannot behold him: . he hideth himself on the right hand that I cannot see him. In short, reason as well as revelation assures us, that he cannot be absent from us, notwithstanding he is undiscovered by us.
15. In this consideration of God Almighty's omnipresence and omniscience, every uncomfortable thought vanishes. He cannot but regard every thing that has being, especially such of his creatures who fear they are not regarded by him. He is privy to all their thoughts, and to that anxiety of heart in particular which is apt to trouble them on this occasion : for, as it is impossible lie should overtook any of his creatures, so we may be confident that he regards, with an eye of mercy, those who endeavour to recommend themselves to his notice, and in unfeigned humility of heart think themselves unworthy that he should be mindful of them.
Motives to Piety and Virtue, 'drawn from the Omniscience and Omnipresence of the Deity.
SPEGTATOR, No. 571. 1. N your paper of Friday the 9th'instant, you had occasion
to consider the ubiquity of the Godhead, and at the same time to shew, that as he is present to every thing, he cannot but be attentive to every thing, and privy to all the modes and parts of its existence; or, in other words, that his omniscience and omnipresence are co-existent, and run together through the whole infinitude of space.
2. This consideration might furnish us with many incentives to devotion, aad matives to morality; but as this subject has been handied by several excellent writers, I shall consider it in a light wherein I have not seen it placed by others.
First, How disconsolate is the condition of an intellectual bea ing who is thus present with his Maker, but at the same time re. ceives no extraordinary benefit or advantage from this' his: presence!
3. Secondly, How deplorable is the condition of an intellectual being, who feels no other effects from this his presence, but such as proceed from divine wrath and indignation !
Thirdly, How happy is the condition of that intellectual being, who is sensible of his Maker's presence from the secret effects of his mercy and loving kindness.
4. First, How disconsolate is the condition of an intellectual being who is thus present with his Maker, but at the same time receives no extraordinary benefit or advantage from this his presence! Every particle of matter is actuated by this Almighty Being which passes through it. The heavens and the earth, the stars and planets, move and gravitate by virtue of this great principle within them. All the dead parts of nature are invigorated by the presence of their Creator, and made capable of exerting their respective qualities.
5. The several instincts in the brute creation do likewise operate and work towards the several ends which are agreeable to ihem, by this divine energy. Man only, who does not co-operate with his holy spirit, and is inattentive to his presence, receives none of these advantages from it, which are perfective of his nature, and necessary to his well-being. The divinity is with him, and in him, and every where about him, but of no advan
tage to him.
6. It is the same thing to a man without religion, as if there were no God in the world. It is indeed impossible for an infinite Being to remove himself from any of his creatures; but though he cannot withdraw his essence from us, which would argue an imperfection in him, he can withdraw from us all the joys and consolations of it. His presence may, perhaps, be necessary, to support us in our existence; but he may leave this our existence to itself, with regard to its happiness or misery.
7. For, in this sense, he may cast us away from his presence; and take his holy spirit from us. This single consideration one would think sufficient to-make us open our hearts to all those in. fusions of joy and gladness which are so near at hand, and ready to be poured in upon us ; especially when we consider, secondo ly, the deplorable condition of an intellectual being who feels no other effects from his Maker's, presence, but such as proceed from divine wrath and indignation !
8. We may assure ourselves, that the great Author of Nature, will not always be as one who is indifferent to any of his creatures. Those who will not feel him in his love, will be sure at
fength to feel him in his displeasure. And how dreadful is the condition of that creature who is only sensible of the being of his Creator by what he suffers from him! He is as essentially present in hell as in heaven; but the inhabitants of the former place behold him only in his wrath, and shrink within the flames to conceal themselves from him. It is not in the power of imagination to conceive the fearful effects of Omnipotence incensed.
9. But I shall only consider the wretchedness of an ineffectual being, who, in this life, lies under the displeasure of him, who. at all times, and in all places, is intimately united with him. He is able to disquiet the soul, and vary it in all its faculties. He can hinder
any of the greater comforts of life from refreshing us, and give an edge to every one of its slightest calamities.
10. Who then can bear the thought of being an outcast from his presence, that is, from the comforts of it, or of feeling it only in its terrors? How pathetic is that expostulation of Job, when for the real trial of his patience, he was made to look upon himself in this deplorable condition! Why hast thou set me as mark against thee, 80 that I am become a burden to myself? But thirdly, how happy is the condition of that intellectual being, who is sensible of his Maker's presence from the secret effects of his mercy and loving kindness!
11. The blessed in heaven behold him face to face, that is, are as sensible of his presence as we are of the presence of any person whom we look upon with our eyes. There is doubtless a faculty in spirits, by which they apprehend one another, as our senses do material objects; and there is no question but our souls, when they are disembodied, or placed in glorified bodies will by this faculty, in whatever part of space they reside, be always sensible of the divine presence.
12. We who have this veil of flesh standing between us and the world of spirits, must be content to know the spirit of God is present with us by the effects which he produceth in us. Our outward senses are too gross to apprehend him; we may however taste and see bow gracious he is by his influence upon our minds, by' those virtuous thoughts which he awakens in us.by those secret comforts and refreshments which he conveys into our souls, and by those ravishing joys and inward satisfactions which are perpetually springing up, and diffusing themselves among all the thoughts of good men.
13. He is lodged in our very essence, and is as a soul within the soul to eradiate its understanding, rectify its will, purify its passions, and enliven all the powers of man.
How happy therefore is an intellectual being, who by prayer and meditation, by virtue and good works, opens this communication between God and his own soul! Though the whole creation frown upon him, and all nature looks black about him, he has his light and support within him, that are able to cheer his mind, and bear him up
in the midst of all those horrors which encumpass him. 14. He knows that his helper is at hand, and is always near. er to him than any thing else can be, which is capable of annoying or terrifying him. In the midst of calumny or contempt, he attends to that Being who whispers better things within his soul, and whom he looks upon as his defender, his glory, and the lifter up of his head. In his deepest solitude and retirement, he knows that he is in company with the greatest of beings: and perceives within himself such real sensations of his presence, as are more delightful than any thing that can be met with in the conversations of his creatures.
15. Even in the hour of death, he considers the pains of his dissolution to be nothing else but the breaking down of that parrition, which stand betwixt his soul and the sight of that Being who is always present with him, and is about to manifest itself to him in fulness of joy.
16. If we would be thus happy and thus sensible of our Maker's presence, from the secret effects of his mercy and goodness, we must keep sueh a watch over all our thoughts, that; in the language of the scripture, His soul may have pleasure in us. We must take care not to grieve his holy spirit, and endeavour to make the meditations of our hearts always acceptable in his sight, that he may delight thus to reside and dwell in us.
17. The light of nature could direct Seneca to this doctrine in a very remarkable passage among his epistles; Sacer inest in nobis spiritus bonorum malorumque custos et observator ; et quemadmodum nos illum tractamus, ita et ille nos. 66. There is a holy spirit residing in us, who watches and observes both good and evil men, and will treat us after the same manner that we treat him.” But I shall conclude this discourse with those more emphatical words in divine revelation : If a man love me, he will keep my words ; and my father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. Reflections on the third Heaven.
SPECTATOR, No. 580. CONSIDERED in my two last letters, that awful and
tremendous subject, the ubiquity or Omnipresence of the Divine Being. I have shewn that he is equally present in all places throughout the whole extent of infinite space. This doctrine is so agreeable to reason, that we meet with it in the writings of the enlightened heathens, as I might shew at large, were it not already done by other hands. But though the Deity do thus essentially present through all the immensity of space, there