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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

On the Glory of God

By Thomas Shepard (1605–1649)

[From The Sincere Convert. 1655.]

WHEN we see a stately House, although we see not the Man that built it, yet will we conclude thus: Surely some wise Artificer hath been working here. Can we, when we behold the stately Theatre of Heaven and Earth, conclude other but that the Finger, Arms, and wisdom of God hath been here, although we see not him that is invisible, and although we know not the time when he began to build? Every creature in Heaven and Earth is a loud preacher of this truth: Who set those Candles, those Torches of Heaven on the Table? Who hung out those Lanthorns in Heaven to enlighten a dark World? Who can make the Statue of a Man, but one wiser than the Stone out of which it is hewn? Could any frame a Man but one wiser and greater than Man? Who taught the birds to build their nests, and the bees to set up and order their commonwealth? Who sends the sun post from one end of Heaven to the other, carrying so many thousand blessings to so many thousands of People and Kingdoms? What power of Men or Angels can make the least Pile of Grass, or put Life into the least Fly, if once dead? There is therefore a Power over all created Power, which is God.

O labor to see and behold this God. Is there a God, and wilt thou not give him a good look? O pass by all the Rivers, till thou come to the Spring-head; wade through all Creatures, until thou art drowned, plunged, and swallowed up with God. When thou seest the Heavens, say: Where is that great Builder that made this? When thou hearest of mutations of kingdoms, say: Where is the Lord of Hosts, the great Captain of these Armies? When thou tastest sweetness in the Creature, or in God’s Ordinances, say: Where is Sweetness itself, Beauty itself, where is the Sea of these Drops, the Sun of these Beams? Oh! that men saw this God! It ’s Heaven to behold him. Thou art then in a Corner of Hell, that canst not, dost not, see him, and yet what is less known than God? Methinks when men hear there is a God about them, they should lie grovelling in the Dust, because of his Glory….

Now what this Glory is, no man or angel hath, doth, or ever shall know; their Cockle-shell can never comprehend this Sea; he must have the wisdom of God, and so be a god, that comprehendeth the Essence of God; but though it can not be comprehended what it is, yet it may be apprehended, that it is uncomprehensible and glorious; which makes his Glory to be the more admired, as we admire the Lustre of the Sun the more, in that it is so great we can not behold it….

Here ’s infinite, eternal, present sweetness, goodness, grace, glory and mercy to be found in God. Why post you from Mountain to Hill, why spend you your money, your thoughts, time, endeavors, on things that satisfy not? Here is thy resting Place. Thy Clothes may warm thee, but they cannot feed thee; thy Meat may feed thee, but cannot heal thee; thy physic may heal thee but cannot maintain thee; thy Money may maintain thee but cannot comfort thee when distresses of Conscience and anguish of heart come upon thee; this God is joy in sadness, light in darkness, life in death, heaven in hell. Here is all thine eye ever saw, thine heart ever desired, thy tongue ever asked, thy mind ever conceived. Here is all Light in this Sun, and all Water in this Sea, out of whom as out of a crystal Fountain, thou shalt drink all the refined Sweetness of all Creatures in Heaven and Earth for ever and ever. All the World is seeking and tiring out themselves for Rest; here only it can be found.