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my narrow imagination, to be almost nothing, and myself less than nothing, and of no sort of consequence.
When I think thus, I imagine it great vanity in me to suppose, that the Supremely Perfect does in the least regard such an inconsiderable nothing as man; more especially, since it is impossible for me to have any clear idea of that which is infinite and incomprehensible, I cannot conceive otherwise, than that he the Infinite Father expects or requires no worship or praise from us, but that he is even infinitely above it.
But, since there is in all men something like a natural principle, which inclines them to devotion, or the worship of some unseen power ;
And since men are endued with reason superior to all other animals, that we are in our world acquainted with;
Therefore I think it seems required of me, and my duty as a man, to pay divine regards to somETHING.
I conceive, then, that the INFINITE has created many beings or gods, vastly superior to man, who can better conceive his perfections than we, and return him a more rational and glorious praise; as, among men, the praise of the ignorant or of children is not regarded by the ingenious painter or architect, who is rather honored and pleased with the approbation of wise men and artists.
It may be these created gods are immortal ; or it may be, that, after many ages, they are changed, and others supply their places.
Howbeit, I conceive that each of these is exceeding wise and good, and very powerful ; and that each has made for himself one glorious sun, attended with a beautiful and admirable system of planets.
It is that particular wise and good God, who is the author and owner of our system, that I propose for the object of my praise and adoration.
For I conceive that he has in himself some of those passions he has planted in us; and that, since he has given us reason whereby we are capable of observing his wisdom in the creation, he is not above caring for us, being pleased with our praise, and offended when we slight him, or neglect his glory.
I conceive, for many reasons, that he is a good Being; and, as I should be happy to have so wise, good, and powerful a Being my friend, let me consider in what manner I shall make myself most acceptable to him.
Next to the praise resulting from and due to his wisdom, I believe he is pleased and delights in the happiness of those he has created; and, since without virtue a man can have no happiness in this world, I firmly believe he delights to see me virtuous, because he is pleased when he sees me happy.
And since he has created many things, which seem purely designed for the delight of man, I believe he is not offended, when he sees his children solace themselves in any manner of pleasant exercises and innocent delights; and I think no pleasure innocent, that is to man hurtful.
I love him therefore for his goodness, and I adore him for his wisdom.
Let me not fail, then, to praise my God continually, for it is his due, and it is all I can return for his many favors and great goodness to me; and let me resolve to be virtuous, that I may be happy, that I may please him, who is delighted to see me happy. Amen!
PREL. Being mindful, that, before I address the Deity, my soul ought to be calm and serene, free from passion and perturbation, or otherwise elevated with rational joy and pleasure, I ought to use a countenance that expresses a filial respect, mixed with a kind of smiling, that signifies inward joy, and satisfaction, and admiration.
O wise God, my good Father!
Thou beholdest the sincerity of my heart and of my devotion ; grant me a continuance of thy favor!
1. O Creator, O Father! I believe that thou art good, and that thou art pleased with the pleasure of thy children. — Praised be thy name for ever!
2. By thy power hast thou made the glorious sun, with his attending worlds; from the energy of thy mighty will, they first received [their prodigious] motion, and by thy wisdom hast thou prescribed the wondrous laws, by which they move. — Praised be thy name for ever!
3. By thy wisdom hast thou formed all things; thou hast created man, bestowing life and reason, and placed him in dignity superior to thy other earthly creatures.
Praised be thy name for ever!
4. Thy wisdom, thy power, and thy goodness are everywhere clearly seen; in the air and in the water, in the heavens and on the earth ; thou providest for the various winged fowl, and the innumerable inhabitants of the water; thou givest cold and heat, rain and sunshine, in their season, and to the fruits of the earth their increase. — Praised be thy name for ever!
5. Thou abhorrest in thy creatures treachery and deceit, malice, revenge, [intemperance,] and every other hurtful vice; but thou art a lover of justice and sincerity, of friendship and benevolence, and every virtue ; thou art my friend, my father, and my benefactor. Praised be thy name, O God, for ever! Amen.
[After this, it will not be improper to read part of some such book as Ray's Wisdom of God in the Creation, or Blackmore on the Creation, and the Archbishop of Cambray's Demonstration of the Being of a God, &c., or else spend some minutes in a serious silence, contemplating on those subjects.] Then sing
MILTON'S HYMN TO THE CREATOR.
“ Fairest of stars, last in the train of night,
Whether to deck with clouds the uncolored sky,
Made vocal by my song, and taught his praise." [Here follows the reading of some book, or part of a book, discoursing on and exciting to moral virtue.]
PREL. Inasmuch as by reason of our ignorance we cannot be certain that many things, which we often hear mentioned in the petitions of men to the Deity, would prove real goods, if they were in our possession, and as I have reason to hope and believe that the goodness of my heavenly Father will not withhold from me a suitable share of temporal blessings, if by a virtuous and holy life I conciliate his favor and kindness; therefore I presume not to ask such things; but rather, humbly, and with a sincere heart, express my earnest desire that he would graciously assist my continual endeavours and resolutions of eschewing vice and embracing virtue; which kind of supplications will at the same time remind me in a solemn manner of my extensive duty.
That I may be preserved from atheism, impiety, and profaneness; and, in my addresses to Thee, carefully avoid irreverence and ostentation, formality and odious hypocrisy, -Help me, O Father!