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posited by a flood of waters; because most of them belonged to the sea. 2. That the matter of the earth must have been in a state of solution when this happened; because it could not otherwise have inclosed sea shells, and filled up their cavities through the smallest apertures. 3. That the flood was general, or common to the whole world; because these monuments of it are found in all countries of the earth; on the highest mountain, and in tracts most remote from the sea.
To account for a disorderly situation of things, out of their several places, under ground, we must apply to water or to fire; which two are the causes of all the clianges in this globe. We cannot apply to subterraneous fire, because here is an effect which is universal, and subterraneous fire is a cause but partial and occasional; the marks of which, when compared with those of water, are but of small extent* Besides, fire would have destroyed bodies which water preserved; such as the tenderest shells, the skins of scaly fish, the fruits and leaves of vegetables. All these would bear drowning and burying, but could never survive the devastations of fire. How could fire transport the productions of all climates into one place? But if they floated on water, subject to winds, tides, and currents, such a thing might easily be; accordingly, we find the fruits of the East and West-Indies; bones, teeth, and shells from fish of different seas; the elephant of Africa, the tortoise of America, all near to one another in the same spott, as if laid up for a testimony to the truth of the Holy Scripture,
* The effects of fire, compared with those of water, nay perhaps be nearly in the same proportion, as the forge of the smith, with its flags and cinders, when compared with the lands of the whole parish.
+ What is bere said is verified in the island of Shecpy in Kent.
which alone gives us a faithful account of this great revolution in nature. When we are informed, that the earth we now inhabit is the burying-place of a foriner earth, it is as reasonable that we should dig up the remains and ruins of it, as that we should find the bones and coffins of former generations in the earth of a church-yard.
Our subject will become more edifying, if we examine what use hath been made of some parts of it iu the Scripture.
1. Thus, for example, every man is to consider himself as clay in the hands of a potter, and to submit himself, with resignation, to the appointment of God, who gives to all men their proper stations and uses in life, as the potter forms some vessels to mean, and some to honourable, offices; and it is as vain for any man to quarrel with the ordination of heaven, and throw himself out of that sphere of life in which God hath placed him, as for the clay to murmur against the design of the potter. There is an ancient fable of Eastern original (for the son of Sirach hath it*) which relates the folly of the vessel of earth in joining itself to the company of the vessel of brass ; in consequence of which it was broken to pieces. 2. The treasures of the earth are buried within it
> 80 that they cannot be discovered and brought forth without the labour of inan; yet they are not placed so deep, as to render our labour ineffectual. Thus hath God ordained in every other case; nothing, but what is worthless, is to be found by the indolent upon the surface of life: every thing valuable must be obtained by labour; all wisdom, all science, all art and experience, are hidden at a proper depth, for the exercise of the wise; and they, who do not spare their labour, shall not be disappointed in their search. The treasures of wisdom, in the word of God, do not lie upon the surface of the letter, for every superficial reader to observe them : therefore, where it is said, Search the Scriptures, the word implies that laborious kind of searching, by which the treasures of the mine are discovered under ground.
* Ecclus, xiii. 3.
3. The properties of metals are very considerable, and would afford us much instruction, if the limits of this discourse would admit of it. As gold stands the test of fire, such is the constancy of true piety, which grows brighter and purer with every trial. And, as gold cannot be pure without being refined in the furnace, so cannot ay man be fit for God's acceptance, till he hath first endured temptation. The father of the faithful was put to the fiery trial of offering up his own son for a sacrifice, that he might be an example to all his children ; to whom this warning is given by the son of Sirach, My son, if thou come to serve the Lord, prepare thy soul for temptation--for gold is tried in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of adversity *. I suppose this rule to be so certain, that human life never did, nor ever will, admit an instance to the contrary.
4. In the vision of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, the four great monarchies of the world are signified by the four principal metals, gold, silver, brass, and iron. The Assyrian monarchy has the pre-eminence, as well in dignity as in order of time, and is compared to gold. Thou, said the Prophet Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar, art this head of gold: from which interpretation, bis image of gold seems to have been presumptuously derived ; the proud king, not content
• Ecclus. ii. 1-5.
with being the head, assumed to himself the whole body of worldly empire.
As silver, b:ass, and iron, have less value than gold, the monarchies of Persia, Greece, and Rome, which succeeded, must have had less splendor and dignity than the Assyrian ; and the Roman must have been the basest of all, if the Scripture is just in its comparison. If we were to enter into the question, how kingdoms are debased, we might obtain some light from the case of the Roman empire, as it is stated in this prophecy. This empire then, though strong as iron in war, was of a baser nature than those which preceded, because it was unnaturally compounded of miry clay mixed with its iron; which two would never incorporate. It was compounded of military power and popular authority; to unite which, all attempts were unsuccessful; and, consequentiy, with all that hardness of iron, with which it bruised and broke in pieces other nations, there was a constitutional weakness; by reason of which, it was vexed and broken at home with eternal balancings and divisions; and, when it had conquered the world, it became its own executioner. The words of this prophecy are very remarkable, when applied to the character and constitution of the Roman state. It was partly strong as iron in military force, and partly broken, from this unnatural mixture in the materials of its government. By the mingling of iron with miry clay, as it is interpreted for us by the Propiet, it was signified, that they of this kingdom should mingle themselves with the seed of men, and not cleave to one another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. Imperial power in the Scripture, is a divine institution, of heavenly original ; and to suppose it an human thing, and derive it from the power of the people, as the Romans did, is to mingle it with the seed of men, and debase the nature of it; of which the certain consequence is disunion and weakness : for no state can be strong in itself, which is founded on principles subversive of God's authority. Under the Assyrian monarchy and the Persian, and the kingdoms of Greece, in the age of Horner, there was no question concerning the origin of power ; it arose afterwards amongst the Greeks; and the popular scheme attained its highest degree of absurdity under the Ro
Would to God it had never found its way amongst Christians; where it has done infinite mischief, and will probably continue so to do, till it has undermined the peace of all mankind, and unhinged the whole political world ! Majesty, when it is in kings, is where God hath placed it: honour is then in the fountain of honour; but the majesty of the people, which the enthusiastic vanity of the Romans hath so magnified, and in which they have been followed, for selfish ends, by libertines and deistical philosophers, is contrary to all the ideas of revelation, and is inconsistent with common sense. A people may seem to themselves to rise higher, as the power of government sinks lower; but it is all a deception ; for nothing can be more evident than that nations are debased in the estimation of the world, by the doctrines of anarchy. For which of the two is the most respectable; the house wherein there is a proper respect kept up: or that where there is none? The family of the nobleman whose domestics are under his authority, preserves an appearance of greatness and elegance; but the pube lick house, where the people who fill it are upon a level with the householder, is a scene of vulgarity and disorder.
5. And now, what should be the end of all our researches into Nature and the Scripture, but to delight