« AnteriorContinuar »
were only to twinkle to, and be studied by, some few perhaps of us human creatures ?”
We cannot, surely, in consonance with reason, retain such a thought; it being far more consistent with its dictates to conclude that they, as well as each element which composes or surrounds our globe, should be filled with innumerable inhabitants. " God created not our earth in vain, He formed it to be inhabited.” (Isa. xlv. 18.) “ From whence,” as an excellent writer justly observes, " we may fairly argue that the other planets are inhabited by rational beings as well as ours. This appears a just, noble, and delightful thought, raising our ideas of the grandeur of God's works, his greatness, magnificence, and goodness.”* And when our vast survey includes likewise that amazing host of celestial luminaries which, on the justest reasoning, we conclude to be ordained for the illumination of worlds far remote from us, our heightened admiration “ is lost in wonder and in praise.” But great as is the number of these radiant orbs, yet it is highly improbable that the boundless universe should all lie pervious to our view; or that our infantine sight, (“ though a surprising faculty, travelling as it does over the space of one hundred millions of miles, with as much ease as our bodies can move ten yards,”) should be so formed as to explore the infinitude of space; may we not, therefore, on the most rational principles, feel assured that far beyond our ken vast regions stretch ? And
* Orton's Exposition of the Old Testament.
as these starry heavens we do behold so manifestly abound with unnumbered habitations, it leaves no room for doubt but that far distant districts are replete with accommodations, well calculated for the reception of intelligent beings.
Let us next contemplate the peculiar turn of countenance and character which distinguish and mark the different nations of our world, and the wonderful variety of faces which we daily behold or retrace upon canvass; though all of these either are, or have been, composed of the same materials, and are divided into features to answer the same purposes, yet each depicts some trait appropriate to itself, and exhibits an endless difference in appearance, as well as moral and intellectual endowments. And as the great Creator displays such infinite variety on the little spot of the universe which falls under our inspection, we may reasonably infer that he exemplifies a similar, if not more surprising diversity, among the inhabitants of other worlds, and of remoter regions; that they contain innumerable orders of rational beings, far the largest number of whom may be endued with senses, powers, and faculties, as much exceeding ours, as ours does the lowest of the animal creation; and that the countless mansions with which infinite space does, without doubt, abound, are devoted to the accommodation of that link of beings forming the vast progressive chain of moral excellence that terminates in Deity.
These deductions Scripture fully supports, by announcing the existence of many different ranks of intelligences, therein denominated angels, strong
angels, mighty angels, archangels, cherubims, seraphims, ministering spirits ; principalities, authorities, and powers in heavenly places.* And we find the philosophic psalmist remarkably expressing his ideas of this gradation in his beautifully poetic address to angels—" Bless the Lord, ye angels that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his words. Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts, ye ministers of his that do his pleasure. Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominions. Bless the Lord, O my soul.” The ingenious author just quoted observes on this passage, “ That it may probably be part of the delightful employment of good men, when they leave this earth, to travel from world to world, to learn more of God's works and creatures, that they may for ever love and adore him.”+ Another eminent writer remarks, “ That though we are very little acquainted, whilst we are upon earth, with any of the planetary worlds besides that which we inhabit, yet who knows how our acquaintance may be extended hereafter amongst the inhabitants of the various and distant globes, and what frequent and swift journeys we may take thither, when we are disencumbered of this load of flesh and blood ?” I And it is still more highly probable, that those angels of the Lord, who excel in strength, capacities, and powers, are allowed by him,
* Heb. i. 7; Rev. v. 2 ; Rev. x. 1 ; Jude 9; Isa. xxxvii. 16 ; Isa. vi. 6; Heb. i. 7; Ephesians iii. 10.
+ Orton's Exposition of the Old Testament. | Dr. Watts.
“who rides himself the heavens of heavens,” (Psa. lxviii. 33,) to extend their researches throughout a vast expanse of his unbounded empire. These highest orders of angelic beings, who are most eminent for goodness and wisdom, who are best adapted for executing the benevolent commissions of their great Creator, may be invested with the power of visiting many worlds, and enabled to inspect the transactions that are passing in them; may have been appointed “rulers over many things,” (Mat. xxv. 23,) and endued with faculties so penetrating and comprehensive, as to discern the springs, views, and ends, which actuate the movements of various ranks of beings. Others of inferior classes and virtue may have their contemplations and employments confined within a more limited sphere ; some may be only permitted to view our planetary system; and though we find ourselves unable to pry but very little farther than the globe which we inhabit, the transactions that are daily passing on it may lie open to the inspection of many other orders of intelligents, who are probably the invisible spectators of our actions. The truth of these conclusions, New Testament information abundantly confirms; by hieroglyphically describing the activity and incomparable velocity with which celestial spirits fly from world to world, to
the commands of their heavenly Sovereign ;»* by asserting that we are made a spectacle to angels ; (1 Cor. iv. 9,) and by invariably representing the angelic inhabitants of the * Doddridge's Exposition of the New Testament, vol. vi. p. 469.
heavenly hierarchies as beholding and interesting themselves in the affairs of this our world.
How greatly dishonoured then must the Creator be in their sight, by having formed a nature so very frail as the human nature has demonstrated itself to be? by having created a race of intelligent creatures, to whom He had imparted a knowledge of his will, commanding them to act agreeably to that knowledge, and moreover endued with a faculty called conscience-a faculty which was so contrived as to prove a faithful monitor to each possessor, rendering every individual heart“ a law unto itself;” (Rom. ii. 14, 15;) and yet, not to have one found among this whole race, uniformly obeying the commands of their mighty Creator, or acting in conformity with the suggestions of their faithful monitor; but, on the contrary, that their wise and good Creator should behold them continually and publicly transgress against the one, and frequently, though secretly, endeavour to stifle the other, and persist in conduct diametrically opposite to its dictates. How derogatory to the honour of the great Parent and source of all perfection must it appear, to have been the author of any nature exemplifying itself so feebly, as never to have produced one instance of steady obedience to its Maker's laws, or acting in perfect conformity with the impulses of its own convictions? How incompatible is it with the perfections of the Deity, to suppose him assigning, as a reason for receiving to his favour a set of creatures with whom he was justly displeased, that He knew He had created them so very frail, as to