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manners to theirs, as far as his duty to God would permit; a conduct compatible neither with the stiffness of a bigot, nor with the violent impulses of fanatical delusion.—That he was not melancholy, is plain from his conduct in embracing every method, which prudence could suggest, to escape danger and shun persecution, when he could do it, without betraying the duty of his office, or the honour of his God. A melancholy enthusiast courts persecution ; and when he cannot obtain it, afflicts himself with absurd penances ; but the holiness of St. Paul consisted in the simplicity of a pious life, and in the unwearied performance of his apostolical duties. That he was ignorant, no man will allege who is not grossly ignorant himself; for he appears to have been master, not only of the Jewish learning, but also of the Greek philosophy, and to have been very conversant even with the Greek poets. That he was not credulous, is plain from his having resisted the evidence of all the miracles performed on earth by Christ, as well as those that were afterwards worked by the apostles ; to the fame of which, as he lived in Jerusalem, he could not have been a stranger. And that he was as free from vanity as any man that ever lived, may be gathered from all that we see in his writings, or know of his life. He represents himself as the least of the apostles, and not meet to be called an apostle. He says that he is the chief of sinners ; and he prefers, in the strongest terms, universal benevolence to faith, and prophecy, and miracles, and all the gifts and graces with which he could be endowed. Is this the language of vanity or enthusiasm ?
Having thus shown that St. Paul was neither an impostor nor an enthusiast, it remains only to be inquired, whether he was deceived by the fraud of others : but this inquiry needs not be long; for who was to deceive him? A few illiterate fishermen of Galilee ? It was morally impossible for such men to conceive the thought of turning the most enlightened of their opponents, and the cruellest of their persecutors, into an apostle ; and to do this by a fraud, in the very instant of his greatest fury against them and their Lord. But could they have been so extravagant as to conceive such a thought, it was physically impossible for them to execute it in the manner in which we find his conversion was effected. Could they produce a light in the air, which at midday was brighter than the sun ? Could they make Saul bear words from that light, which were not board by the rest of the company ? Could they make him blind for
three days after that vision, and then make scales fall from his eyes, and restore him to sight by a word ? Or, could they make him, and those who travelled with him, believe that all these things liad happened, if they had not happened? Most unquestionably no fraud was equal to all this.
Since then St. Paul was not an impostor, an enthusiast, or a person deceived by the fraud of others, it follows, that his conversion was miraculous, and that the Christian religion is a Divine revelation.
The heavens and the earth show the glory and the wisdom of
their Creator. The earth happily adapted to the nature of man.
. THE universe may be considered as the palace in which
the Deity resides ; and the earth, as one of its apartments. In this, all the meaner races of animated nature mechanically obey him ; and stand ready to execute his commands, without hesitation. Man alone is found refractory : he is the only being endued with a power of contradicting these mandates. The Deity was pleased to exert superior power in creating him a superior being ; a being endued with a choice of good and evil; and capable, in some measure, of co-operating with his own intentions. Man, therefore, may be considered as a limited creature, endued with powers imitative of those residing in the Deity. He is thrown into a world that stands in need of his help; and he has been granted a power of producing harmony from partial confusion.
If, therefore, we consider the earth as allotted for our habitation, we shall find, that much has been given us to en: joy, and much to amend ; that we have ample reasons for our gratitude, and many for our industry. In those great outlines of nature, to which art cannot reach, and where our greatest efforts must have been ineffectual, God himself has finished everything with amazing grandeur and beauty. Qur beneficent Father has considered these parts of nature as peculiarly his own; as parts which no creature could have skill or strength to amend : and he has, therefore, made them incapable of alteration, or of more perfect regularity. The heavens and the firmament show the wisdom and the glory of the Workman. Astronomers, who are best skilled in the symmetry of systems, can find nothing there that they can alter for the better. God made these perfect, because no subordinate being could correct their defects.
When, therefore, we survey nature on this side, nothing can be more splendid, more correct, or amazing. We there behold a Deity residing in the midst of a universe, iufinitely extended every way, animating all, and cheering the vacuity with his presence. We behold an immense and shapeless mass of matter, formed into worlds by his power, and dispersed at intervals, to which even the imagination cannot travel. In this great theatre of his glory, a thousand suns, like our own, animate their respective systems, appearing and vanishing at Divine command. We behold our own bright luminary, fixed in the centre of its system, wheeling its planets in times proportioned to their distances, and at once dispensing light, heat, and action. The earth also is seen with its twofold motion ; producing, by the one, the change of seasons ; and, by the other, the grateful vicissitudes of day and night. With what silent magnificence is all this performed! with what seeming ease! The works of art are exerted with interrupted force; and their noisy progress discovers the obstructions they receive; but the earth, with a silent, steady rotation, successively presents every part of its bosom to the sun ; at once imbibing nourishment and light from that parent of vegetation and fertility.
But not only provisions of heat and light are thus supplied; the whole surface of the earth is covered with a transparent atmosphere, that turns with its motion, and guards it from external injury.. The rays of the sun are thus broken into a genial warmth ; and, while the surface is assisted, a gentle heat is produced in the bowels of the earth, which contributes to cover it with verdure. Waters also are supplied in healthful abundance, to support life, and assist veger
tation. Mountains 'rise, to diversify the prospect, and give a current to the stream. Seas extend from one continent to the other, replenished with animals, that may be turned to human support ; and also serving to enrich the earth with a sufficiency of vapour. Breezes fly along the surface of the fields, to promote health and vegetation. The coolness of the evening invites to rest ; and the freshness of the morning renews for labour.
Such are the delights of the habitation that has been assigned to man : without any one of these, he must have been wretched ; and none of these could his own industry have supplied. But while, on the one hand, many of his wants are thus kindly furnished, there are, on the other, numberless inconveniences to excite his industry. This habitation, though provided with all the conveniences of air, pasturage, and water, is but a desert place, without human cultivation. The lowest animal finds more conveniences in the wilds of nature, than hc who boasts himself their lord. The whirlwind, the inundation, and all the asperities of the air, are peculiarly terrible to man, who knows their consequences, and, at a distance, dreads their approach. The earth itself, where haman art has not pervaded, puts on a frightful, gloomy appearance. The forests are dark and tangled; the meadows are overgrown with rank weeds; and the brooks stray-without a determined channel. Nature, that has been kind to every lower order of beings, seems to have been neglectful with regard to him : to the savage uncontriving man, the earth is an abode of desolation, where his shelter is insufficient, and his food precarious.
A world thus furnished with advantages on one side, and inconveniences on the other, is the proper abode of reason, and the fittest to exercise the industry of a free and a thinking creature. These evils, which art can remedy, and prescience guard against, are a proper call for the exertion of his faculties; and they tend still more to assimilate him to bis Creator. God beholds, with pleasure, that being which he has made, converting the wretchedness of his natural situation into a theatre of triumph; bringing all the headlong tribes of nature into subjection to his will; and producing that order and uniformity upon earth, of which his own heavenly fabric is so bright an example.
An eruption of mount Vesuvius.
· In the year 1717, in the middle of April, with much diffculty I reached the top of mount Vesuvius, in which I saw a vast aperture full of smoke, that hindered me from seeing its depth and figure. I heard within that horrid gulph, extraordinary sounds, which seemed to proceed from the bowels of the mountain : and, at intervals, a noise like that of thunder or cannon, with a clattering like the falling of tiles from the tops of houses into the streets. Sometimes, as the wind changed, the smoke grew thinner. discovering a very ruddy flame, and the circumference of the crater streaked with red and several shades of yellow. After an bour's stay, the smoke being moved by the wind, we had short and partial prospects of the great hollow ; in the flat bottom of which I could discern two furnaces almost contiguous : that on the left, seeming about three yards over, glowing with ruddy flame, and throwing up red hot stones, with a hideous noise, which, as they fell back, caused the clattering already taken notice of. May 8, in the morning, I ascended the top of Vesuvius a second time, and found a different face of things. The smoke ascending upright, afforded a full prospect of the crater, which, as far as I could judge, was about a mile in circumference, and a hundred vards deep. Since my last visit, a conical mount had been formed in the middle of the bottom. This was made by the stones, thrown up and fallen back again into the crater. In this new hill remained the two furnaces already mentioned. The one was seen to throw up every three or four minutes, with a dreadful sound, a vast number of red hot stones, at least three hundred feet higher than my head; but as there was no wind, they fell perpendicularly back from whence they had been discharged. The other was filled with red hot liquid matter, like that in the furnace of a glass-house; raging and working like the waves of the sea, with a short abrupt noise. This matter sometimes boiled over, and ran down the side of the conical hill, appearing at first red hot, but changing colour as it hardened and cooled. Had the wind set towards us, we should have been in no small danger of being stified by the sulphurous smoke, or killed by the masses of melted minerals that were shot from the bottom.
* as the wind was favourable, I had an opportunity of sur.