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Jews and Christians. "God is in the heavens, he hath done whatsoever he pleased," saith David; yea in the making of the heavens, he therefore created them, because he pleased; nay more, he thereby created them, even by willing their creation.

Now although some may conceive the creature might have been produced from all eternity by the free determination of God's will, and it is so far certainly true, that there is no instant assignable before which God could not have made the world; yet as this is an article of our faith, we are bound to believe the heavens and earth are not eternal. "Through faith we understand the worlds were framed by the word of God," Heb. xi. 3. And by that faith we are assured, that whatsoever possibility of an eternal existence of the creature may be imagined, actually it had a temporal beginning; and therefore all the arguments for this world's eternity are nothing but so many erroneous misconceptions. "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old," saith Wisdom. "I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was," Prov. viii. 22. And the same Wisdom of God being made man reflecteth upon the same priority, saying, "Now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was," John xvii. 3. Yea, in the same Christ are we "blessed with all spiritual blessings, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world." The impossibility of the origination of a circular motion, which we are sure is either in the heaven or earth, and the impropriety of the beginning of time, are such poor exceptions, that they deserve not the least labor of refutation. The actual eternity of this world is so far from being necessary, that it is of itself most improbable; and without the infallible certainty of faith, there is no single person carries more evidences of his youth, than the world of its novelty.

It is true indeed, some ancient accounts there are which would persuade us to imagine a strange antiquity of the world, far beyond the annals of Moses, and account of the same Spirit which made it. The Egyptian

priests pretended an exact chronology for some myriads of years, and the Chaldeans or Assyrians far out-reckon them, in which they delivered not only a catalogue of their kings, but also a table of the eclipses of the sun and moon.

But for their number of years, nothing is more certain than their forgery; for the Egyptians did preserve the antiquities of other nations as well as their own, and by the evident fallacy in others have betrayed their own vanity. When Alexander entered Egypt with his victorious. army, the priests could show him out of their sacred histories an account of the Persian empire which he gained by conquest, and the Macedonian which he received by birth, of each for eight thousand years; whereas nothing can be more certain out of the best historical account, than that the Persian empire, whether begun in Cyrus or in Medus, was not then three hundred years old, and the Macedonian, begun in Coranus, not five hundred. They then who made such large additions to advance the antiquity of other nations, and were so bold as to present them to those who so easily might refute them, (had they not delighted to be deceived to their own advantage, and took much pleasure in an honorable cheat) may without any breach of charity be suspected to have extended the account much higher for the honor of their own country. Besides, their catalogues must needs be ridiculously incredible, when the Egyptians make their first kings' reigns above one thousand, two hundred years apiece, and the Assyrians theirs above forty thousand; except we take the Egyptian years for months, the Assyrians for days; and then the account will not seem so formidable.

Again; for the calculation of eclipses, as it may be made for many thousand years to come, and be exactly true, and yet the world may end to-morrow; because the calculation must be made with this tacit condition, if the bodies of the earth, and sun, and moon, do continue in their substance and constant motion so long; so may it also be made for many millions of years past, and all be true, if the world have been so old; which the calculating doth not prove, but suppose. He then who

should in the Egyptian temples see the description of so many eclipses of the sun and moon, could not be assured that they were all taken from real observation, when they might be as well described out of proleptical supposition.

Besides, the motions of the sun, which they mention together and with authority equal to that of their other observations, are so incredible and palpably fabulous, that they take off all credit and esteem from the rest of their narrations; for with this wild account of years, and seemingly accurate observations of the heavens, they left it written to posterity, that the whole course of the celestial motions was four times changed; so that the sun hath twice risen in the east, and set in the west, as now it does; and, on the contrary, twice risen in the west, and set in the east. And thus these prodigious antiquaries confute themselves.

What then are these feigned observations and fabulous descriptions for the world's antiquity, in respect not only of the infallible annals of the Spirit of God, but even of the constant testimonies of more sober men, and the real appearances and face of things, which speak them of a far shorter date?

If we look into the historians who give account of ancient times, nay, if we peruse the fictions of the poets, we shall find the first to have no footsteps, the last to feign no actions, of so great antiquity. If the race of men bad been eternal, or as old as the Egyptians and the Chaldees fancy it, how should it come to pass that the poetical inventions should find no actions worthy their heroic verse before the Trojan or the Theban war, or that great adventure of the Argonauts? For whatsoever all the Muses, the daughters of Memory, could rehearse before those times, is nothing but the creation of the world, and the nativity of their gods.

If we consider the necessaries of life, the ways of freedom and commerce amongst men, and the inventions of all arts and sciences, the letters which we use, and languages which we speak, they have all known originals, and may be traced to their first authors. The first beginnings were then so known and acknowledged by Div. No. XIII.


all, that the inventors and authors of them were reckoned amongst their gods, and worshipped by those to whom they had been so highly beneficial; which honor and adoration they could not have obtained, but from such as were really sensible of their former want, and had experience of a present advantage by their means.

If we search into the nations themselves, we shall see none without some original; and were those authors extant which have written of the first plantations and migrations of people, the foundations and inhabiting of cities and countries, their first rudiments would appear as evident as their later growth and present condition. We know what ways within two thousand years people have made through vast and thick woods for their habitations, now as fertile, as populous, as any. The Hercynian trees, in the time of the Caesars, occupying so great a space, as to take up a journey of sixty days, were thought even then coeval with the world. We read without any show of contradiction, how this western part of the world hath been peopled from the east; and all the pretence of the Babylonian antiquity is nothing else, but that we all came from thence. Those eight persons saved in the ark, descending from the Gordiæan mountains, and multiplying to a large collection in the plain of Sinaar, made their first division at that place; and that dispersion, or rather dissemination, hath peopled all other parts of the world, either never before inhabited, or dispeopled by the flood.

These arguments have always seemed so clear and undeniable, that they have put not only those who make the world eternal, but them also who confess it made, but far more ancient than we believe it, to a strange answer, to themselves uncertain, to us irrational. For to this they replied, that this world hath suffered many alterations, by the utter destructions of nations and depopulations of countries, by which all monuments of antiquity were defaced, all arts and sciences utterly lost, all fair and stately fabrics ruined, and so mankind reduced to paucity, and the world often again returned into its infancy. This they conceived to have been done oftentimes in several ages, sometimes by a deluge of

water, sometimes by a torrent of fire; and lest any of the elements might be thought not to conspire to the destruction of mankind, the air must sweep away whole empires at once with infectious plagues, and earthquakes swallow up all ancient cities, and bury even the very ruins of them. By which answer of theirs they plainly afford two great advantages to the christian faith; first, because they manifestly show that they had a universal tradition of Noah's flood, and the overthrow of the oid world; secondly, because it was evident to them, that there was no way to salve the eternity or antiquity of the world, or to answer this argument drawn from history and the appearances of things themselves, but by supposing innumerable deluges and deflagrations; which being merely feigned in themselves, not proved, (and that first by them who, say they, are not subject themselves unto them, as the Egyptians did, who by the advantage of their peculiar situation feared neither perishing by fire nor water) serve only for a confirmation of Noah's flood so many ages past, and the surer expectation of St. Peter's fire, we know not how soon to come.

It remaineth then that we steadfastly believe, not only that the "heavens, and earth, and all the host of them," were made, and so acknowledge a creation, or an actual and immediate dependence of all things on God, but also that all things were created by the hand of God, in the same manner, and at the same time, which are delivered unto us in the books of Moses by the Spirit of God, and so acknowledge a novity, or no long existence of the creature.

Neither will the novity of the world appear more plainly unto our conceptions, than if we look upon our own successions. The vulgar accounts which exhibit about five thousand, six hundred years, though sufficiently refuting an eternity, and allaying all conceits of any great antiquity, are not yet so properly and nearly operative on the thoughts of men, as a reflection upon our own generations. The first of men was but six days younger than the being, not so many than the appearance, of the earth; and if any particular person would consider how many degrees in a direct line he probably is re

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