Man Magnified by the Divine Regard: A Sermon: By the Rev. Richard Watson [1/2]
Rev. Richard Watson
Theology of Nature, Human Species, Materialism, Immaterialism, Astronomy, Infidelity, Providence, Biblical Authority, Reason, Genius, Invention, Machinery, Endeavour, Anthropocentrism, Wonder, Piety, Plurality of Worlds
Observes that most 'speculative systems of unbelief' undervalue human nature. Begins by briefly considering materialism and its connection with the denial of human immortality. Continues: '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 judgement or in mercy, is an unfounded and presumptuous conceit'. Observes that some view 'the moon and stars' as a sign of real human insignificance, not as a cause of wonder in the providence of divine care. (431) Maintains the truth of the latter on the authority of the Bible. Asserts the dominant place of the human species in the created order, and makes a distinction between animal intelligence and human rationality. Considers that God has 'magnified' the human species in the variety and superior nature of the pleasures of which it is susceptible, including the 'pleasures of contemplation' (433). The extent of these are illustrated by reference to the 'deep and continued abstractions of the profound genius' and the 'patient labour of the inventor of useful or curious machines' (434). Presents these observations on the human species as an answer to those who would 'degrade man; shame him out of his confidence in his Maker, by instituting a comparison between him and the vastness of inanimate nature'. (435) Considers that space may be greatly extended and every star be made the centre of a solar system, without undermining the providential sentiment of the text of his sermon (Job 7. 17). Argues that the material creation has been instituted for the benefit of humans. Maintains that the possible existence of other worlds inhabited by rational beings has no bearing on the status of humans. Discusses the manner of divine redemption, observing: 'The philosopher of this world leads us to nature, its benevolent final causes, and kind contrivances to increase the sum of animal happiness; and there he stops,—with half his demonstration! But the Apostle leads us to the Gift bestowed by the Father for the sake of the recovery of man's intellectual and moral nature, and to the Cross endured by the Son, on this high behalf' (438).
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