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to produce the effect, is put in motion: The nerves are braced, the muscles stretched or relaxed, the bones play in their sockets, and the whole animal machine concurs in the action, as if every nerve and muscle had heard a sovereign and resistless call. If I wish the next moment to extend my hand to my foot, all these muscles are thrown into a different state, and a new set are brought along with them into action: And thus we may vary, every moment, the movements of the muscular system, and the mechanical actions it produces, by a simple change in our volition. Were we not daily accustomed to such varied and voluntary movements, or could we conemplate them in any other machine, we should be lost in wonder and astonishment.
Besides these voluntary motions, there are a thousand important functions, which have no dependance upon our will. Whether we think of it or not, whether we be sleeping or waking, sitting or walking, the heart is incessantly exerting its muscular power at the centre of the system, and sending offstreams of blood through hundreds of pipes; the lungs are continually expanding and contracting their thousand vesicles, and imbibing the vital principle of the air; the stomach is grinding the food; the lacteals and lymphaticks are extracting nourishment for the blood; the liver and kidneys drawing off their secretions; - and the perspiration issuing from millions of pores. These and many other important functions, with which we are unacquainted, and over which we have no controul, ought to be regarded as the immediate agency of the Deity within us, and should incite our incessant admiration and praise.
In every breath we draw and emit, there is an important reason, for our hearts to flow with gratitude to God. That part of the air inhaled into the lungs which is vital, serves to purify and inspirit the blood. maining part, which is evolved, is rendered fetid and entirely unfit to be breathed again. In consequence
of the warmth attracted from our system, it becomes lighter than common air; therefore, it rises above our heads before the next inspiration.
Were it not for this circumstance, it would accumulate on the surface of the earth, and particularly in our apartments, to such a degree as to produce diseases, pestilence, and death, in rapid succession. But, being a little lighter than the surrounding air, it flies upwards, and we never breathe it again, till it enter into new and sal. utary combinations. How does every thing pertaining to our frame, or relating to our existence, admonish us that our souls should be continually ascending to God with the most lively emotions of gratitude.
Permit me now to notice a peculiarity in the constitution of our animal frame which we are apt to overlook, and for which we are never sufficiently grateful; and that is, the power it possesses of self restoration. A wound heals up of itself; a broken bone is made firm again by a callus; and a dead part is separated and thrown off. If all the wounds we have ever received, were still open and bleeding a fresh, to what a miserable condition should we be reduced! But by a system of internal powers, beyond all human comprehension as to the mode of their operation, such dismal effects are effectually prevented. In short, when we consider that health depends upon such a numerous assemblage of moving organs, and that a single spring out of action, might derange the whole machine, and put a stop to all its complicated movements, can we refrain from joining with the Psalmist, in his pious exclamation, and grateful resolution, How precious are thy wonderful contrivances concerning me, u God! how great is the sum of them! 'I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvellous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.
4th. This discourse should be improved as an excitement for us to become more particularly and ex
tensively informed in regard to the manifold subjects of divine revelation. In proportion to the extent and propriety of our investigations into the numerous and important truths which God has revealed, so shall we be qualified to render to his name, that glory which is due. Consequently, then, if we do not make suitable exertions, and improve all the means granted us for the enlarging of our conceptions in relation to the divine works, we are guilty of robbing God of his declarative glory. Some, who profess Christianity, seem to be content with the mere consciousness, that they have a soul and body; and imagine it does not concern them to inquire particularly about them, so as to understand the human system, and the offices of the faculties of the soul. Butsuch a sentiment is indeed unbecoming a heathen. Professed infidels ought to be ashamed to behold professing Christians, satisfied with scanty and vague views of so many important subjects, presented to them in the divine word. Such conduct too much resembles that of the most brutish and stupid sinner, who would consider the highest attainments of religion to consist in the mere belief of a God, a heaven, and a hell.
To overlook the amazing scene of Divine intelligence, as exhibited in the human system, or to consider it as beneath our notice, marks a weak and undiscriminating mind, if it be not a characteristick of impiety. The man, who disregards the visible displays of infinite Wisdom, or who neglects to investigate them when opportunity offers, acts as if he considered himself already possessed of a sufficient portion of intelligence, and stood in no need of such sensible assistances to direct his cor.ceptions of the Creator. Pride and false conceptions of the nature and design of true religion, frequently lie at the foundation of all that indifference and neglect, with which the visible works of God are treated, by those who make pretensions to a high degree of spiritual attainments. The truly pious man, will trace with wonder and delight, the footsteps of his Father and his God, wherever they appear in the variegated scene of creation around him, and will be filled with sorrow and contrition of heart, that amidst his excursions and solitary walks, he has so often disregarded the works of the Lord, and the operation of his hands.
These remarks are made, for the purpose of emulating professed Christians to expand their conceptions, and enable them to take large and comprehensive views of the perfections and the providence of the Almighty. It is much to be regretted that so many members of the Christian Church, are absolute strangers to such studies and contemplations; while the time and attention that might have been devoted to such exercises, have, in many cases, been usurped by the most grovelling affections, by foolish pursuits, and slanderous conversation. But shall the most trifling occurrences be deemed worthy of attention, and occupy much of our precious time, and shall the mighty acts of the Lord, and the visible'wonders of his power and wisdom, be thrown completely into the shade? To survey with an eye of intelligence, the wide extended theatre of the Divine operations; to mark the agency of the eternal Mind in every object we behold, and in every movement within us and around us, are some of the noblest attainments of the rational soul; and, in conjunction with every other Christian study and acquirement, tend to make the man of God perfect, and thoroughly furnished unto every good work. By such studies we are, in some measure, assimilated to the principalities above, whose powers of intellect are ever employed in such investigations; and are gradually preparing for bearing a part in their immortal hymn, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of Saints. Thou art worthy to receive glory, and honour, and power,
for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.*
5th. This subject suggests the importance of daily preparation for death, and should awaken our attention to the vast concerns of immortality. Our bodies must return to the common mass of their original clay; and our souls enter the invisible world. And the voice of wisdom calls to us, to prepare for the change which is before us, and which
very near: Beings, accountable to God as we are, designed for immortality, shortly to be removed, and insecure of another day, should be making constant preparations for our departure and entrance upon another state of existence.
And in the view of human frailty, nothing can appear more reasonable than daily prayer. How does it become us to abound in ejaculations to the Framer and Preserver of our bodies, and the Father of our spirits ? Would a man who believed this day to be his last, neglect to call upon God? Would he go forth into the business and company of the world without directing a thought, or addressing a petition to him? And indeed no man knows on any day, but that it may be his last. Every one, then, on each morning, ought to commend himself to God's protection, through the day, to walk in his fear; and at evening should not dare retire to rest, till he confess his sins, acknowledge the manifold benefits of the day, and invoke the Divine blessing through the night. Every thing around us, and all the circumstances of our being, call upon us to pray without ceasing. We have the sentence of death in ourselves. Our frame declares its own frailty, and predicts its own dissolution. From our own selves we are taught the most interesting lessons, and derive the most impressive exhortations. We are fearfully made.
* This part of the discourse is chiefly selected from the Christian Phila sopher.