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Of providence.

Be not surprised if other animals have all things necessary to the body ready provided for them, not only meat and drink, but lodging; if they want neither shoes nor bedding nor clothes, while we stand in need of all these. For they not being made for themselves, but for service, it was not fit that they should be so formed as to be waited on by others. For consider what it would be for us to take care, not only for ourselves, but for sheep and asses too,- how they should be clothed, how shod, and how they should eat and drink. But as soldiers are furnished ready for their commander, shod, clothed, and armed, - for it would be a grievous thing for a colonel to be obliged to go through his regiment to put on their clothes, - so nature has furnished these useful animals, ready provided, and standing in need of no fur- [p. 1057] ther care; so that one little boy, with only a crook, drives a flock.

But we, instead of being thankful for this, complain of God that there is not the same kind of care taken of us likewise; and yet, good Heaven! any one thing in the creation is sufficient to demonstrate a Providence, to a humble and grateful mind. Not to instance great things, the mere possibility of producing milk from grass, cheese from milk, and wool from skins,- who formed and planned this? No one, say you. O surprising irreverence and dulness! But come, let us omit the primary works of nature; let us contemplate her merely incidental traits. What is more useless than the hairs upon one's chin? And yet has she not made use even of these, in the most becoming manner possible? Has she not by these distinguished the sexes? Does not nature in each of us call out, even at a distance, I am a man; approach and address me as such; inquire no further; see the characteristic? On the other hand, with regard to women, as she has mixed something softer in their voice, so she has deprived them of a beard. But no; [some think] this living being should have been left undistinguished, and each of us should be obliged to proclaim, " I am a man ! " But why is not this characteristic beautiful and becoming and venerable? How much more beautiful than the comb of cocks; how much more noble than the mane of lions! Therefore we ought to preserve the characteristics made by the [p. 1058] Creator; we ought not to reject them, nor confound, as much as in us lies, the distinct sexes.

Are these the only works of Providence with regard to us? And what speech can fitly celebrate their praise? For, if we had any understanding, ought we not, both in public and in private, incessantly to sing and praise the Deity, and rehearse his benefits? Ought we not, whether we dig or plough or eat, to sing this hymn to God, - Great is God, who has supplied us with these instruments to till the ground; great is God, who has given us hands and organs of digestion; who has given us to grow insensibly, to breathe in sleep? These things we ought forever to celebrate; and to make it the theme of the greatest and divinest hymn, that he has given us the power to appreciate these gifts, and to use them well. But because the most of you are blind and insensible, there must be some one to fill this station, and lead, in behalf of all men, the hymn to God; for what else can I do, a lame old man, but sing hymns to God? Were I a nightingale, I would act the part of a nightingale were I a swan, the part of a swan; but since I am a reasonable creature, it is my duty to praise God. This is my business; I do it; nor will I ever desert this post, so long as it is permitted me; and I call on you to join in the same song. [p. 1059]


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