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PUBLISHED BY N. BANGS AND T. MASON, FOR THE METHODIST
- J. O. Totten, Printer, 9 Bowery.
FOR JANUARY, 1824.
From the Wesleyan Methodist Magazine.
MAN MAGNIFIED BY THE DIVINE REGARD:
BY THE REV. RICHARD WATSON.
JOB Vii. 17.
What is man that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?
It is the character of almost all speculative systems of unbelief, that whilst they palliate or excuse the moral pravity of our nature, they depreciate and undervalue that nature itself.
By some of them it is denied that "there is a SPIRIT in man:"the lofty distinction between mind and matter is confounded; and the organization of a clod is thought sufficient to give birth to reason and feeling,-to all that dignifies the nature of man in comparison of the capacities of animals.
If a few allow that this frame, disorganized by death, shall live again by a resurrection, and thus only make death a parenthesis in our being, the majority take a wider sweep into speculative impiety; pluck off the crown of immortality which was placed upon the head of human nature by the TRINITY in council; and doom him who in this life feels that he but begins to live, to live no more. Thus death is not the mere parenthesis, but the period of life; the volume closes at the preface; and vice exults at the news, that this portal of our present existence leads only to airy, empty, nothingness.
Another stratagem of the philosophy which has no faith, is to persuade us that we are but atoms in the mass of beings; and that to suppose ourselves noticed by the Great Supreme, either in judgment or in mercy, is an unfounded and presumptuous conceit. With David, there are persons who lead us out to survey the ample cope of the firmament, "the moon and the stars" which God "hath ordained," and cry, not like him in adoring wonder at the fact, but in the spirit of a base and grovelling unbelief, "What is man that" God "should be mindful of him?"
The word of God stands in illustrious and cheering contrast to all these chilling and vicious speculations. As to our moral condition, it lays us deep in the dust, and brings down every high imagination. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." In our unregenerate state, we are represented as capable of no good, and incapable of no evil. But it never abases our nature itself. In this sacred record, this testimony of God, man is the head and chief of the system he inhabits, and the image of God. He is arrayed in immortality, and invested with high, and even awful capacities both of good and evil. Nay more, low as he may be reduced by sickness and poverty, his interest in his Maker's regards continues unbroken and unforfeited. So in the text, Joв, poor, diseased, unpitied, and forsaken, sees the hand, yes, and the heart of God, in his trouble, and in a strain of devout gratitude, exclaims, "What is man that thou shouldest magnify him, and that thou shouldest set thy heart upon him!"
This is an important subject, and just views respecting it are connected with important practical results. That we may be truly humbled, we ought indeed fully to enter into those descriptions which the Scriptures have given us of our fallen condition; to every one of which we shall find our experience to answer, even as face answers to face in a glass." But we are to remember both from whence we are fallen, and what we are capable of regaining by the grace of God; the mercy which he who made us is still disposed to exercise; and the natural powers which it is the object of that mercy to raise, sanctify, and direct; that, animated by this display of divine goodness both in creation and redemption, we may "lay hold on the hope set before us," and be roused to the pursuit of that "glory, honour, and immortality" which are not only hopeful, but certain to all who seek them. It is proposed, therefore,
I. To offer some illustrations of the doctrine of the text, that God "magnifies" man, and "sets his heart" upon him.
II. To point out the practical improvement which flows from facts so established, and so expressive of the divine benignity. I. We caft your attention to.certain considerations illustrative of the doctrine of the text.
1. God hath magnified". man by the gift of an intellectual
This circumstance, as.illustratiye of the divine goodness, and of our obligation to gratefill affection and a right conduct, is frequently adverted to in Scripture. He hath "made us to know more than the beasts of the field, and to be wiser than the fowls of heaven." "There is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understanding." In the process of forming this lower world, and the system connected with it, various degrees of creating grace, so to speak, were dispensed. This was righteous; no creature has any claim to being at all, nor to any particular