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have no office to perform that would require the present order and arrangement of its several bodies.
If the power of attraction, for example, be universal, the solar bodies may, by that law alone, be essential to the stability and permanency of the whole universe. But the strength of this power is not lessened or increased by placing these bodies in the order, and subjecting them to the motions, that now belong to them. The same power belongs to the mass of matter that makes up the system; whether it exists in one body or in thirty; whether it be permanent and stationary, or arranged into moving forms.
225. Here I wish to suggest an idea, to be thought of in connection with the creation of this world out of nothing. All matter has the power of attraction. There was a time, when, according to the popular theory, the matter that makes up this world, did not exist. What then must have been the effect upon the rest of the universe, of creating this world, and investing it with such tremendous power? Would it not have disturbed the balance of the other worlds and systems, and sent disorder and destruction throughout the whole range of creation? Nothing can be plainer than this; and hence it is well to suppose all worlds to be created at one and the same moment; for no other view can be reconciled with the theory of creation from nothing. So one error requires another, to sustain the harmony of the theory.
226. (3.) What was the condition of the planets before they assumed their present form? allowing that they existed before, which we assume to be not unphilosophical. We do not ask this question, because it is practically important; but because it may be made to teach us a lesson that is practically important.
We are not satisfied to trace the unformed earth back to the sun, or to any other source. There is a tendency to push our inquiries still farther. Here, however, we have no certain guide. On questions of this nature we can only conjecture. It is not unreasonable to suppose that other worlds and systems may have been constituted of the same materials, before they were worked into the forms in which we now find them. We can hardly sup
pose that what admitted of being brought into forms, so wisely and benevolently fitted to promote the happiness of sentient creatures, should not be called into requisition, for this purpose, during the whole of past eternity. Still, if we go back of the present system, through thousands of anterior systems, each having a life of ages, we must at last come to the first; and back of that, will lie an eternity of unoccupied duration. This is a difficulty we cannot avoid; and if we suppose our system the first, and an unoccupied eternity beyond it, we have only the same difficulty; and to choose between two theories, when the objections to each are equally balanced, is an impossibility, and therefore we shall not attempt a choice. The only wisdom (and this is the practical lesson I wish to enforce) is, to restrain our inquiries when we can find no firm ground on which to stand when we have no light of Philosophy or Revelation to guide us.
227. (4.) It may be well to contemplate the original creation, with reference to the mode by which the divine power was applied to the creative work.
We are apt I fear, to entertain ideas of this subject that make the Creator too much like one of us. We are apt to imagine that he had an immense physical force, and stood over the huge mass of materials, out of which the world was to be made, and by some mysterious power, unlike any thing that has ever been exhibited since, operated upon those materials, and brought them into their present form of order and beauty.
It is natural that some such ideas should be entertained, as assimilate the Deity to the form and processes of humanity; and much of the style and phraseology of the Bible, is accommodated to this tendency. Still we must guard against ideas that are too gross and unrefined. We must not forget that God is a spirit, and has a mode of operation peculiar to himself. He acts upon matter , through the power of his spirit, and not as one physical body acts upon another. The Divine Being, as we understand the subject, was then no more obvious to human perception than he is now. He was no more directly active upon the vast bodies of matter that compose the solar system, than he is at this moment. When he said,
"Let there be light," "Let there be a firmament,' us make man," he uttered no audible voice that he does not now utter, in all the processes of the ever active universe. If one of us, with the physical organs we now possess, had been placed above the huge and chaotic masses that were to form our beautiful world, and had been permitted to look down upon the progressive work, we should have seen no more of God-we should have heard his voice no more than we do now. True, the all-pervading spirit would have been there the power of the Almighty would have been felt upon the changing masses, as they assumed continually more of order, form and arrangement; but it would have been a presence and power that are felt now, as well as then a presence and power, felt by all other worlds, as much as by the one that was to be our own.
228. We regard the Deity as in some sense inherent in matter. He pervades it in every part. He is as present in the molecules that are inconceivably diminutive, as in the huge mass that forms the centre of our world. He is as present now, as he was at the morning of time; he will be as present, in every part, through all the cycles of the future, as he is now. Indeed, if we look at the subject with clear philosophic vision, we shall discover that most of what are called the attributes of matter, are really the attributes of the Deity that dwells in and pervades all parts of the material creation. Here I propose to correct the notions of some men who are called Philosophers. They tell us that the central sun once sent forth the earth, and other planets, to their present positions, by a power or force inherent in itself. Was not this power the power of God, and not of matter? They tell us that the earth and other planets are carried round the sun by the combined action of two forces, acting in different directions. This is making a matter complicated that is itself simple. This thing is not done by two forces, but by one; and that is the power of God; and this is proved by the intelligence that always accompanies its exercise.
In a word, matter has no power of its own. It cannot cohere, nor separate; it cannot move in a straight line,
nor in a curve; it cannot change its position in one way, nor another; it cannot arrange itself in order, nor in disorder; in fine, it cannot do any of the things that are usually ascribed to it. The power of the universe is the power of God, as much as the intelligence of the universe is the intelligence of God; for both these attributes are forever conjoined, and cannot be separated; and it is not good reasoning to refer one of them to the Deity and the other to Nature. "All power is of God." 228. We are accustomed to speak of the "laws of nature;" and the phrase is not objectionable, if it does not mislead us. It may help us to illustrate the truthsof natural science; but sound Philosophy knows of no such laws. The sovereign will, accompanied by an almighty power, and guided by wisdom and benevolence, is the true and only law. All forms of speech that do not imply this, or are not based on this idea, are fallacious and untrue. In theology they have done unspeakable mischief. The tendency of men to shut out a Deity from the universe, and to put Nature in the place of Nature's God, should be firmly withstood by all who would maintain a sound Philosophy, or a consistent Theology; and especially by all who would keep unimpaired the substantial principles of morality and religion.
229. We have already yielded too much to the encroachments of infidel Philosophy. We have taken from God a portion of his divine power, and given it to Nature. We have allowed Nature to make her own laws; and many of us do not presume to think that the Deity is consulted in the matter. The revolutions of the planets, the changing of the seasons, the alternation of light and darkness, the growth of vegetation, the production of sunshine and showers, the support of animal life;-these, and many other things, have been handed over to Nature; and many good men, and Christians too, are ready to admit that the God they worship and whom they call Supreme, has no immediate or direct agency in any of them. Some even seem to regard it as a fine achievement of theological science, an indication of a high degree of divine knowledge, that they are able to elevate the Deity above many of the inferior operations
of the universe. The sparrows used to fall to the ground by our heavenly Father; at present, this trifling affair is attended to by the laws of Nature.
We have only to say that we have no sympathy with this idea. It is not good Philosophy, it is still worse Theology. It lessens the sanctions of moral duty. It turns our thoughts away from God, and makes us worship the creature more than the Creator. The tendency of the theory is atheistic, unchristian and immoral.
230. We are not unaware of the fact that the theory is assumed by some, as enabling them the better to vindicate the divine character, by removing from the Deity the responsibility of certain evils that exist in the world; but the theory does not need the object. It rather increases the difficulty; for while it makes him no less really the author of these evils, it attaches to him the disgrace of seeking to hide himself behind the laws of Nature, while the work is being done.
SECTION II. THE WORLD NOT ETERNAL.
231. That matter is eternal, we may reasonably assume, as the author of the language placed at the head of this chapter, puts forth no opposing sentiment. The word create does not imply the production of the world from nothing, as we have shown in our criticism on that term, (§§ 88-90.) But the question has sometimes been asked, whether it is not as reasonable to suppose that the world always existed, in an organized system, as to maintain the eternal existence of matter in any other form. If we admit the self-existence of any thing, may we not as well admit the self-existence of the world, as the self-existence of the materials out of which the world was made? We answer, No; and we offer our reasons for this decision: - A world of order and beauty, such as ours an organized system, in which all the parts are wisely adjusted and benevolently fitted to administer to the wants of living creatures contains the plainest indications of having been thus organized and arranged by an intelligent Creator. No piece of human mechanism contains clearer proofs of the workings of genius and skill, than the world in which we