Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

falling into the hands of their enemies. The citizens fudo. denly gathering themselves into a body, fought with a resolution equal to the necessity of their affairs; yet no one so remarkably distinguished himself on this occasion, to the amazement of both armies, as Ifadas the son of Phebidas, who was at that time in the bloom of his youth, and very remarkable for the comeliness of his perfon. He was coming out of the bath when the alarm was given, fo that he had not time to piit on his cloaths, much less his armour; however, transported with a desire to serve his country in so great an exigency, snatching up a spear in one hand, and a sword in the other, he flung himself into the thickest ranks of his enemies. Nothing could withstand his fury: in what part soever he fought he put

the enemies to flight withcut receiving a single wound. Whether, says Plutarch, he was the particular care of some god, who rewarded his valour that day with an extraordinary protection, or that his en es, struck with the unusualness of his dress, and beauty of his shape, suppofed him something more than man; I shall not determine.

The gallantry of this action was judged so great by the Spartans, that the Ephori, or chief magistrates, decreed he should be presented with a garland; but as soon as they had done fo, fined him a thousand drachmas, for. going out to the battle unarmed.

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

Deum nainque ire per oinnes Terrasque, tractusque maris, cælumque profundum.

Virg. Georg. 4. V. 221;

For God the whole created mass inspires ;
Thro' heaven, and earth, and ocean's depths be throws
His influence round, and kindles as he goes.

Dryden.

II

WAS yesterday about sun-set walking in the open fields, till the night insensibly fell upon me.

I at first amufed myself with all the richness-and variety of colours,

which

[ocr errors]

which appeared in the western parts of heaven : in proportion as they faded away and went out, several stars and planets appeared one after another, till the whole firmanent was in a glow. The blueness of the æther was exceedingly heightened and enlivened by the season of the year, and by the rays of all those luminaries that paffed through it. The Galaxy appeared in its most beautiful white. To complete the scene, the full moon rose at length in that clouded majetty, which Nlilton takes notice of, and opened to the eye a new picture of nature which was more finely shaded, and disposed among softer lights, than that which the fan had before discovered to us.

As I was surveying the moon walking in her brightness, and taking her progress among the constellations, a thought rose in me which I believe very often perplexes and disturbs men of serious and contemplative natures, David himself fell into it in that reflection, When I conJider the heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained ; .what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the fon of man, that thou regardeft kim? In the same manner when I considered that infinite host of (tars, or, to speak more philosophically, of suns, which were then shining upon me, with those inDunerable sets of planets or worlds, which were moving round their respective suns; when I still enlarged the idea, and supposed another heaven of suns and worlds rising still above this which we discovered, and these still enlightened by a superior firmament of luminaries, which are planted at so great a distance, that they may appear to the inhabitants of the former as the stars do to us; in short, whilst I pursued this thought, I could not but reflect on that little insignificant figure which I myself bore amidst the immensity of God's works.

WERE the sun, which enlightens this part of the creation, with all the host of planetary worlds that move about him, utterly extinguished and annihilated, they would not be missed, more than a grain of sand upon

the sea-shore. The space they possess is so exceedingly little in comparison of the whole, that it would scarce make a blank in the creation. The chasm would be imperceptible to an eye, that could take in the whole compass of nasure, and pass from one end of the creation to the other ;

as

as it is possible there may be such a sense in ourselves hereafter, or in creatures which are at present more exalted than ourselves. We see many stars by the help of glasses, which we do not discover with our naked eyes; and the finer our telescopes are, the more still are our discoverios ,-Huygenius carries this thought so far, that he does not think it impossible there may be stars whose light is not yet travelled down to us, since their creation. There is no question but the universe has certain bounds set to it; but when we consider that it is the work of infinite power, prompted by infinite goodness, with an infinite space to exert itself in, how can our imagination set any bounds to it?

To return therefore to my first thougật, I could not but look upon myself with secret horror, as a being that was not worth the smallest regard of one who had so great a work under his care and superintendency. I was afraid of being overlooked amidst the immensity of nature, and lolt among that infinite variety of creatures, which in all probability swarm through all the immeasurable regions of matter.

In order to recover myself from this mortifying thought, I considered that it took its rise from those narrow corceptions, which we are apt to entertain of the divine nature. We ourselves cannot attend io many different objeçts at the same time. If we are careful to inspect some. things, we must of course, neglect others. This imperfection which we observe in ourselves, is an imperfection that cleaves in some degree to creatures of the highest capacities, as they are creatures, that is, beings of finite and limited natures. The presence of every created being is confined to a certain measure of space, and consequently his observation is stinted ito. a certain number of objects. The sphere in which we move, and act, and understand, is of a wider circumference to one creature than another, according .aswe rife one above another in the scale of existence. 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 hin, in whom there is no shadow of imperfection. Our reason indeed assures us that his ats; tributes are infinite, but the poorness of our conceptions

[ocr errors]

D 3.

[ocr errors]

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.

We shall therefore utterly extinguish this melancholy thought 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 inceffantly employed, if we consider, in the first place, that he is omnipresent; and, in the second, that he is omniscient.

If we consider him in his omnipresence : his being parres through, actuates, and supports the whole frame of nature. His creation, and every part of it, is full of him. There is nothing he has made, that is either so distant, fa little, or fo inconsiderable, which he does not essentially inhabit. His substance is within the substance of every being, whether material or immaterial, and as intimately prefent 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 philofophy, he is a being whose centre is every where, and his circumference no where.

In the second place, he is omniscient as well as omnipresent. His omniscience indeed necessarily and naturally How's from his omniprefence. He cannot but be conscious of every motion that arises in the whole material world, which he thus effentially pervades; and of every thought that is stirring in the intellectual world, to every part of which he is thus intimately united. Several moralifts have considered the creation as the temple of God, which he has built with his own hands, and which is filled with his presence. 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 fensoriun of the Godhead. Brutes and men have their fenforiola, 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 obfervation turns within a yery narrow circle, But as God

Almighty

Almighty cannot but perceive and know every thing in which he resides, infinite fpace gives room to infinite knowledge, and is, as it were, an organ to omniscience.

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 encompaffed round with the immensity of the Godhead. Whilst we are in the body he is not less present with us, because he is concealed from us. O that I knews where I might find him! says Job. Behold, I go fora ward, 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.

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 trou. ble them on this occasion : for as it is imposlīble he should overlook

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 an unfeigned humility of heart think themselves unworthy that he should be mindful of them.

N° 566.

Monday, July 12.

Militia species amor eft-----

Ovid. Ars am. 1. 2. V. 233;

Love is a kind of warfare.

AS

S my correspondents begin to grow pretty numerous,
I think myself obliged to take some notice of them,

and.

« PředchozíPokračovat »