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from the sun. He has found out with certainty the per riods of their revolutions, and the hour of their eclipses ; he can adjust the affairs of the planetary world to a moment, their vast variety of appearances, with all their prodigious circuits. But this great artist, MAN, is puzzled at a worm or a fly, a grain of sand, or a drop of water : there is not the least atom in the whole creation, but has questions about it unsearchable by human nature; no, nor the least part of empty space, but sets all the wisest philosophers at variance when they attempt to tell what it is, or whether it be
any thing or nothing.
This sort of talk, my neighbours will say, is a flourish of wit to teach us to undervalue our reason, a mere rant of rhetoric, an hyperbole of reproach to our understanding : but while I leave it to astronomers to confirm what I have said concerning the vast extent of their acquaintance with the heavens, I shall make it appear, even to a demonstration, that our knowledge of the things on earth is as mean as I have expressed, in the literal and proper sense.
There is not the least grain of sand on the shore, nor the least atom in the whole creation, but has questions about it unsearchable by human nature.
This atom may be divided into millions of millions of apieces, and after all this the least part of it will be infinitely divisible. The infinite divisibility of matter is so often proved and so universaily granted by all modern philosophers, that I need not stand to prove it here: yet, that my unlearned readers may see and believe, I will set down a plain vulgar demonstration or two of this matter.
I. It is certain, that if matter be not infinitely divisible, then there is, or may be, so small a part of matter which cannot be divided further : now take this supposed smallest part, this fancied atom, and put it between the points of a pair of compasses made of stiff and inflexible matter; it is , evident that the legs of the compasses, in less and less degrees, will be divided asunder quite to the centre; and from the points to the centre there is room for still less and less
pieces of matter to be put between the legs. Therefore that very supposed atom may be conceived to be divided still further into less parts, and consequently it was not indivisible.
II. If there be any indivisible part of matter, the shape of it must be spherical, or a perfect globe, wherein every part of the surface is equally distant from the centre; for if you suppose it of any other shape, then some parts of it will be farther from its centre than other parts; and all these longer parts may be shortened or pared off till every part be equally short or equally distant from the centre ; that is, till it be reduced to a globe. Now, from the centre of this little globe to the surface, the parts of it are but half so long as from any part of the surface to its opposite part; and therefore this globe may be still divided into two hemispheres, or semicircles, which are not the smallest parts of matter that can be, because they are not of a spherical figure, as in the beginning of the argument.
And then, by a repetition of the same reasoning, those little semicircles, or half-globes, by paring off the parts which are farthest from their centre, may be reduced to smaller globes again, and those smaller globes again divided in halves as before : there is no end of these divisions, and therefore matter is infinitely divisible.
To carry on this argument yet further to the surprise of my unlearned readers ; let us take notice, that all matter has three dimensions in it, namely, length, breadth, and depth : now every part of matter, every grain of sand, is infinitely divisible as to each of these dimensions ; that is, every part which results from an infinite division of the length of it, may be yet again infinitely divided according to its breadth ; thus the division of this grain of sand becomes infinitely infinite. And yet still it may be further infinitely divided, according to the depth or thickness of it: thus the divisibility of matter swells beyond all imagination, and is more than infinitely infinite, and that with resistless evidence and astonishment to the eye of reason.
Go now, vain man, and find fault with any part of the creation of God, and play the foolish critic on his works of providence; go and censure the justice of his conduct towards Adam or any of his children, or blame the wisdom of his institutions in the dispensations of his grace: monstrous arrogance, and proud impiety! Rather go first and learn what an atom is, or the meanest part of the dust of this vast creation which God has made. It has something of infinity in it; it confounds thee in perplexing darkness, and reaches far beyond all the little stretch of thy boasted powers of reasoning. Be dumb in silence, O vain creature! at the foot of this infinite and eternal Being, nor pretend to measure his steps, to censure his motions, and direct his conduct, till thou art better able to give an account of the dust which he has put under the feet of the meanest of his slaves.
XIV. The DIAMOND painted. How wide and unhappy a mistake it is, when Christians endeavour to adorn their pure divine worship by the mixture of it with ceremonies of human invention. The sym. bolical ordinances of the gospel have a noble simplicity in them : their materials are water, bread, and wine, three of the most necessary and valuable things in human life; and their mystic sense is plain, natural, and easy. By water we are cleansed when we have been defiled; so, by the of the holy Spirit, we are purified from sin, which pollutes our souls in the sight of God. By bread we are fed when we are hungry, and nourished into strength for service: by wine we are refreshed and revived when thirsty and fainting; so, from the body of Christ, which was broken as an atoning sacrifice, and his blood which was poured out for us, we derive our spiritual life and strength. The application of these symbols is most simple, and natural also : we are commanded to wash with the water, to eat the bread,
and to drink the wine: most proper representations of our participation of these benefits.
Thus much of figures and emblems did the all-wise God think proper to appoint and continue in his church, when he brake the yoke of Jewish bondage, and abolished a mul. titude of rites and ceremonies of his own ancient appoint
How plain, how natural, how glorious, how divine are these two Christian institutions, baptism and the Lord's supper, if surveyed and practised in their original simplicity! but they are debased by the addition of many fantastic ornaments.
What think ye of all the gaudy trappings and golden finery that is mingled with the Christian worship, by the imaginations of men, in the church of Rome? Are they riot like so many spots and blemishes cast upon a fair jewel by some foolish painter ? Let the colours be ever so sprightly and glowing, and the lustre of the paint ever so rich, yet, if you place them on a diamond, they are spots and blemishes still. Is not this a just emblem to represent all the gay dirs, and rich and glittering accoutrements wherewith the church of Rome hath surrounded her devotions and her public religion?
The reformers of our worship in the church of England were much of this mind, for they boldly pass this censure on many of the Popish ceremonies, that they entered into the church by indiscreet devotion and zeal without knowledge : they blinded the people, and obscured the glory of God, and are worthy to be out away and clean rejected : that they did more confound and darken than declare and set forth Christ's benefits unto us, and reduced us again to a ceremonial law, like that of Moses, and to the bondage of figures and shadows: this is their sentence and judgement concerning many of the Romish rites, in the preface to the book of Common Prayer. Happy had it been for Great Britain, if they had thought so concerning all of them, since they had all the same or a worse original, and they all tend to the same unhappy end! However, let others take their
liberty of colouring all their jewels with what greens, and purples, and scarlets they please ; but, for my own part, I Like a diamond best that has no paint upon it.
XV. Bills of EXCHANGE. 1705.. When a rich merchant, who dwells in a foreign land afar off, commits his treasure to the hands of a banker, it is to be drawn out in smaller sums by his servants or his friends here at home, as their necessities shall require ; and he furnishes them with bills of exchange drawn upon his banker or treasurer, which are paid honourably to the person who offers the bill, according to the time when the words of the bill appoint the payment.
Is it not possible to draw a beautiful allegory hence, to represent the conduct of the blessed God in his promises of graee, without debasing so divine a subject ?
God the Father, the spring and fountain of all grace, dwells in regions of light and holiness inaccessible, too far off for us to converse with him, or receive supplies from him in an iminediate way; but he has sent his Son to dwell in human nature, and constituted him Treasurer of all his blessings, that we might derive perpetual supplies from his hand: he has intrusted him with all the riches of grace and glory; he has laid up infinite stores of love, wisdom, strength, pardon, peace, and consolation, in the hands of his Son for this very purpose, to be drawn out thence as fast as the necessities of his saints require." It pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell. He has received gifts for men,” Col. i. 19. Psalm lxviii. 18.
Now all the promises in the Bible are so many bills of exchange drawn by God the Father in heaven, upon his Son Jesus Christ, and payable to every pious bearer ; that is, to every one that comes to the mercy-seat, and offers the promise for acceptance, and pleads it in a way of obedient faith and prayer. Jesus, the High-treasurer of heaven, knows every letter of his Father's hand-writing, and can