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many of them have organs so peculiarly adapted to animal sensation, that it affords them the most exquisite delight: and if we look through the entire system of created beings, we shall find that each has some distinguished advantage which may, in their station, be equivalent to those higher privileges which different and superior natures seem to enjoy. The stag, which is not endowed with the strength or sagacity of the elephant, excels him proportionably in swiftness, in which he finds both pleasure and security. The nightingale, which cannot boast the strength of wing, or rapidity of the eagle; which cannot, like him, exult in cutting the midway-sky, or darting from region to region without the fear of a foe; yet finds that security, which he places in his strength, in the impenetrable thicket, and enjoys the pleasures of her soothing song when he is oppressed with sleep. In short, to whatever part of nature we carry our observations, we must still conclude, that from motives of benevolence alone, and the desire of communicating happiness, the Almighty Creator was induced to establish that variety of animal life, with which the several elements are so abundantly supplied. But in man, surely, in man his goodness shines with most distinguished lustre. Whether we consider the faculties of the mind, or the organs of the body; whether we reflect on the exquisite powers.of the senses, or on the objects provided for the gratification of those powers; whether we attend to the delights of memory, the amusements of fancy, or the directive power of reason; must we not acknowledge the visible effects of the Divine bounty P But in the whole course of life, as well as in the gift of that life, and of the faculties peculiar to it, do we not experience the continual care and attention of the same benevolent Providence? He must, indeed, be a very unskilful observer, who does not perceive that the visible creation is the work of a very wise and gracious Being; but he who does not acknowledge the care of Providence in the particular circumstances of his own life, must have been negligent rather from ingratitude than from ignorance. Such then are the obligations by which man is perpetually bound to serve his Creator. As he owes his life to the Almighty goodness, and the preservation of it to his providential care, the service of that life becomes invariably due to him, and the religious duty of man is originally founded in gratitude. Upon this principle alone our obedience
would be due to every law that the supreme Being should appoint us. But when we reflect, that by the same benevolent motives from which he brought us into life, he was actuated likewise in giving us rules for the conduct of that life, a new obligation will be found to arise from thence, which must render our neglect of that obedience, which is expected from us, still more criminal: for, if we refuse to obey those precepts which were evidently intended by the Divine wisdom to ensure our happiness, we offend at the same time against God and against ourselves; we are not only ungrateful for the past favours of Providence, but perversely refuse the present, while we reject those blessings that are inseparably annexed to the discharge of our religious duty. By those blessings, I do not mean those divine promises which respect futurity, but that happiness which is the immediate result of a religious conduct; and which a due obedience to the divine laws infallibly produces. However, if it should yet be asked, what is the Almighty that we should serve him Panother, and surely not the least powerful reason may be found in the hopes of futurity. Those immortal promises of an existence, invariably happy, and endless in its duration,
which await the due performance of the duties enjoined us, have a claim to more difficult and more laborious services, than any that the divine laws have appointed us. Nay, so transcendently great are the hopes which are founded on Christianity, that the services of the Son of God himself alone were able to procure them for us. After these considerations, can it any more be asked, what is the Almighty, that we should serve him 2 Or will any one, after thus reflecting on the goodness and the promises of God, ask, what profit we shall have if we pray unto him 2 II. Should this yet remain a question, I would answer in the words of him in whose name we pray: “If a son should ask bread of any of you “that is a father, would he give him a stone; “or, would he for an egg give him a ser“pent? If ye, then, being evil, know how to “give good gifts unto your children, how “much more shall our heavenly Father to “ them that ask him?” . That blessed Saviour has given us the strongest assurances, that whatever we ask in his name, it shall be granted; that our prayers shall always meet with a most gracious acceptance, and our desires be complied with, so far as they are consistent with our own.
happiness. Our Father, who is in heaven, is ever more ready to hear than we to pray, and is wont to give more than we can either desire or deserve.
Is it not then our greatest happiness that we have so beneficent a Parent, in whose wisdom, goodness, and power, we have an unfailing resource; who knows our necessities before we ask, and prevents our ignorance in asking? To this gracious Being we may apply ourselves under all the various exigencies of life, and, believing, we shall receive.
The advantages of prayer are evidently great: for, is it not by this means that we lay open our wants to our Almighty Father, and implore the continuance of his care and protection ? When we retire from the cares and attentions of the day, do not we by this seek forgiveness of those human infirmities from which no circumspection can secure us? Do not we engage the Divine assistance against future temptations? and recommend
ourselves to the care of that watchful Providence, whose eye can pierce through the nether darkness? Again, when we rise from a state of insensibility to resume the employments of life, do not we by this means solicit the protection of the Almighty, and commit our safety to his gracious care?