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form of a doubt, or a conjecture, or a question. But, what he had not confidence to do, other philosophers have done after him and they have winged their audacious way into forbidden regions-and they have crossed that circle by which the field of observation is enclosed-and there have they debated and dogmatized with all the pride of a most intolerant assurance.
Now, though the case be imaginary, let us conceive, for the sake of illustration, that one of these philosophers made so extravagant a departure from the sobriety of experimental science, as to pass from the astronomy of the different planets, and to attempt the natural history of their animal and vegetable kingdoms. He might get hold of some vague and general analogies, to throw an air of plausibility around his speculation. He might pass from the botany of the different regions of the globe that we inhabit, and make his loose and confident application to each of the other planets, according to its distance from the sun, and the inclination of its axis to the plane of its annual revolution; and out of some such slender materials, he may work up an amusing philosophical romance, full of ingenuity, and having, withal, the colour of truth and of consistency spread over it.
This same adventurous philosopher may be conceived to shift his speculation from the plants of another world to the character of its inhabitants. He may avail himself of some slender correspondencies between the heat of the sun and the moral temperament of the people it shines upon. He may work up a theory, which carries on the front of it some of the characters of plausibility: but surely it does not require the philosophy of Newton to demonstrate the folly of such an enterprise. There is not a man of plain understanding, who does not perceive that this said ambitious inquirer has got without his reach-that he has stepped beyond the field of experience, and is now expatiating on the field of imaginationthat he has ventured on a dark unknown, where the wisest of all philosophy, is the philosophy of silence, and a profession of ignorance is the best evidence of a solid understanding; that if he thinks he knows any thing on such a subject as this, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. He knows not what Newton knew, and what he kept a steady eye upon throughout the whole march of his sublime investigations. He knows not the limit of his own faculties. He has overleaped the barrier which hems in all the possibilities of human attainment. He has wantonly flung himself off from the safe and firm field of observation, and got on that undiscoverable ground, where, by every step he takes, he widens his distance from the true philosophy, and by every affirmation he utters, he rebels against the authority of all its maxims.
I can conceive how a superficial public might be delighted by the eloquence of such a composition, and even be impressed by its arguments; but were I asked, which is the man of all the ages and countries in the world, who would have the least respect for this treatise upon the plants which grow on the surface of Jupiter, I should be at no loss to answer the question. I should say, that it would be he who had computed the motions of Jupiter-that it would be he who had measured the bulk and the density of Jupiter-that it would be he who had estimated the periods of Jupiter-that it would be he whose observant eye and patiently calculating mind, had traced the satellites of Jupiter through all the rounds of their mazy circulation, and unravelled the intricacy of all their movements. He would see at once that the subject lay at a sertion is, that Christianity is set up for hopeless distance beyond the field of legiti- | the exclusive benefit of our minute and mate observation. It would be quite enough solitary world. The argument is, that God for him, that it was beyond the range of would not lavish such a quantity of attenhis telescope. On this ground, and on this tion on so insignificant a field. Even though ground only, would he reject it as one of the assertion were admitted, I should have the puniest imbecilities of childhood. As a quarrel with the argument. But the futo any character of truth or of importance, tility of the objection is not laid open in all it would have no more effect on such a its extent, unless we expose the utter want mind as that of Newton, than any illusion of of all essential evidence even for the truth poetry; and from the eminence of his intel- of the assertion. How do infidels know lectual throne, would he cast a penetrating that Christianity is set up for the single glance at the whole speculation, and bid its benefit of this earth and its inhabitants? gaudy insignificance away from him. How are they able to tell us, that if you go to other planets, the person and the religion of Jesus, are there unknown to them? We challenge them to the proof of this said
But let us pass onward to another case, which, though as imaginary as the former, may still serve the purpose of illustration.
I can conceive it the feeling of every one of you, that I have hitherto indulged in a vain expense of argument, and it is most natural for you to put the question, "What is the precise point of convergence to which I am directing all the light of this abundant and seemingly superfluous illustration?"
In the astronomical objection which infidelity has proposed against the truth of the Christian revelation, there is first an assertion, and then an argument. The as
positive announcement of theirs. We see of our common Christianity,, by commisin this objection the same rash and gratui- sioned messengers from the throne of the tous procedure, which was so apparent in Eternal. For any thing he can tell, the the two cases that we have already advan- redemption proclaimed to us is not one ced for the purpose of illustration. We see solitary instance, or not the whole of that in it the same glaring transgression on the redemption which is by the Son of God— spirit and the maxims of that very philoso-but only our part in a plan of mercy, equal phy which they profess to idolize. They in magnificence to all that astronomy has have made their argument against us, out brought within the range of human conof an assertion which has positively no feet templation. For any thing he can tell, the to rest upon-an assertion which they have moral pestilence, which walks abroad over no means whatever of verifying-an asser- the face of our world, may have spread its tion, the truth or the falsehood of which desolation over all the planets of all the can only be gathered out of some super-systems, which the telescope has made natural message; for it lies completely be-known to us. For any thing he can tell, yond the range of human observation. It some mighty redemption has been devised is willingly admitted, that by an attempt in heaven, to meet this disaster in the whole at the botany of other worlds, the true extent and malignity of its visitations. For method of philosophising is trampled on; any thing he can tell, the wonder working for this is a subject that lies beyond the God, who has strewed the field of immenrange of actual observation, and every per-sity with so many worlds, and spread the formance upon it must be made up of as-shelter of his omnipotence over them, may sertions without proofs. It is also willingly have sent a message of love to each, and admitted, that an attempt at the civil and re-assured the hearts of its despairing peopolitical history of their people, would be ple by some overpowering manifestation an equally extravagant departure from the of tenderness. For any thing he can tell, spirit of the true philosophy; for this also angels from paradise may have sped to lies beyond the field of actual observation; every planet their delegated way, and sung, and all that could possibly be mustered up from each azure canopy, a joyful annunciaon such a subject as this, would still be as- tion, and said, "Peace be to this residence, sertions without proofs. Now, the theology and good will to all its families, and glory of these planets, is, in every way, as inac-to Him in the highest, who, from the emicessible a subject as their politics or their nency of his throne, has issued an act of natural history; and therefore it is, that the grace so magnificent, as to carry the tidings objection, grounded on the confident as-of life and of acceptance to the unnumbersumption of those infidel astronomers, who ed orbs of a sinful creation." For any thing assert Christianity, to be the religion of this he can tell, the Eternal Son, of whom it is one world, or that the religion of these said, that by him the worlds were created, other worlds is not our very Christianity, may have had the government of many can have no influence on a mind that has sinful worlds laid upon his shoulders; and derived its habits of thinking from the pure by the power of his mysterious word, have and rigorous school of Newton; for the awoke them all from that spiritual death, whole of this assertion is just as glaringly to which they had sunk in lethargy as prodestitute, as in the two former instances, found as the slumbers of nonexistence. of proof. For any thing he can tell, the one Spirit who moved on the face of the waters, and whose presiding influence it was, that hushed the wild war of nature's elements, and made a beauteous system emerge out of its disjointed materials, may now be working
The man who could embark in an enterprise so foolish and so fanciful, as to theorise it on the details of the botany of another world, or to theorise it on the natural and moral history of its people, is just making as outrageous a departure from all sense, with the fragments of another chaos; and and science, and all sobriety, when he pre-educing order, and obedience, and harmosumes to speculate, or to assert on the de-ny, out of the wrecks of a moral rebellion, tails or the methods of God's administra- which reaches through all these spheres, tion among its rational and accountable in- and spreads disorder to the uttermost limits habitants. He wings his fancy to as haz-of our astronomy. ardous a region, and vainly strives a penetrating vision through the mantle of as deep an obscurity. All the elements of such a speculation are hidden from him. For any thing he can tell, sin has found its way into these other worlds. For any thing he can tell, their people have banished them-cret things which belong to God, away selves from communion with God. For from the things that are revealed, and any thing he can tell, many a visit has which belong to me and to my children. been made to each of them, on the subject It is the champion of that very infidelity
But, here I stop-nor shall I attempt to grope my dark and fatiguing way, by another inch, among such sublime and mysterious secrecies. It is not I who am offering to lift this curtain. It is not I who am pitching my adventurous flight to the se
which I am now combating. It is he who | authority of which he, even in the full vigor and manhood of his faculties, ever recognized. We see in the theology of Newton, the very spirit and principle which gave all its stability, and all its sureness, to
props his unchristian argument, by presumptions fetched out of those untravelled obscurities which lie on the other side of a barrier that I pronounce to be impassable. It is he who transgresses the limits which the philosophy of Newton. We see the Newton forbore to enter; because, with a same tenacious adherence to every one docjustness which reigns throughout all his in-trine, that had such valid proof to uphold quiries, he saw the limit of his own under-it, as could be gathered from the field of standing, nor would he venture himself be- human experience; and we see the same yond it. It is he who has borrowed from firm resistance of every one argument, that the philosophy of this wondrous man, a few had nothing to recommend it, but such dazzling conceptions, which have only served plausibilities as could easily be devised by to bewilder him-while, an utter stranger the genius of man, when he expatiated to the spirit of this philosophy, he has car- abroad on those fields of creation, which ried a daring and an ignorant speculation the eye never witnessed, and from which far beyond the boundary of its prescribed no messenger ever came to us with any and allowable enterprises. It is he who credible information. Now, it was on the has mustered against the truths of the Gos- former of these two principles that Newton pel, resting, as it does, on the evidence clung so determinedly to his Bible, as the within the reach of his faculties, an objec- record of an actual annunciation from God tion, for the truth of which he has no evi- to the inhabitants of this world. When he dence whatever. It is he who puts away turned his attention to this book, he came from him a doctrine, for which he has the to it with a mind tutored to the philosophy substantial and the familiar proof of human of facts-and, when he looked at its cretestimony; and substitutes in its place a dentials, he saw the stamp and the impress doctrine for which he can get no other sup- of this philosophy on every one of them. port than from a reverie of his own imagi- He saw the fact of Christ being a messennation. It is he who turns aside from all ger from heaven, in the audible language that safe and certain argument, that is sup- by which it was conveyed from heaven's plied by the history of this world, of which canopy to human ears. He saw the fact he knows something; and who loses him- of his being an approved ambassador of self in the work of theorising about other God, in those miracles which carried their worlds, of the moral and theological history own resistless evidence along with them to of which he positively knows nothing. human eyes. He saw the truth of this Upon him, and not upon us, lies the folly whole history brought home to his own of launching his impetuous way beyond conviction, by a sound and substantial vethe province of observation-of letting his hicle of human testimony. He saw the fancy afloat among the unknown of distant reality of that supernatural light, which inand mysterious regions; and by an act of spired the prophecies he himself illustrated, daring, as impious as it is unphilosophical, by such an agreement with the events of a of trying to unwrap that shroud, which, till various and distant futurity as could be drawn aside by the hand of a messenger taken cognizance of by human observation. from heaven, will ever veil, from human He saw the wisdom of God pervading the eye, the purposes of the Eternal. whole substance of the written message, in such manifold adaptations to the circumstances of man, and to the whole secrecy of his thoughts, and his affections, and his spiritual wants, and his moral sensibilities, as even in the mind of an ordinary and unlettered peasant, can be attested by human consciousness. These formed the solid materials of the basis on which our experimental philosopher stood; and there was nothing in the whole compass of his own astronomy to dazzle him away from it; and he was too well aware of the limit between what he knew and what he did not know,
If you have gone along with me in the preceding observations, you will perceive how they are calculated to disarm of all its point and all its energy, that flippancy of Voltaire; when, in the examples he gives of the dotage of the human understanding, he tells us of Bacon having believed in witcheraft, and Sir Isaac Newton having written a Commentary on the Book of Revelation. The former instance we shall not undertake to vindicate; but in the latter instance, we perceive what this brilliant and spacious, but withal superficial, apostle
to acknowledge. We see in this intellectual labour of our great philosopher, the working of the very same principles which carried him through the profoundest and the most successful of his investigations; and how he kept most sacredly and most consistently by those very maxims, the
of infidelity, either did not see, or refused to be seduced from the ground he had taken, by any of those brilliancies which have since led so many of his humbler successors into the track of infidelity. He had measured the distances of these planets. He had calculated their periods. He had estimated their figures, and their bulk, and their densities, and he had subordinated the
whole intricacy of their movements to the on the forehead of the resolute and hardy artificer, who can lift his menacing voice against the priesthood, and, looking on the Bible as a jugglery of theirs, can bid stout defiance to all its denunciations. Now, under all these varieties, we think that there might be detected the one and universal principle which we have attempted to expose. The something, whatever it is, which has dispossessed all these people of their Christianity, exists in their minds, in the shape of a position, which they hold to be true, but which, by no legitimate evidence, they have ever realized-and a position which lodges within them as a wilful fancy or presumption of their own, but which could not stand the touch
simple and sublime agency of one commanding principle. But he had too much of the ballast of a substantial understanding about him, to be thrown afloat by all this success among the plausibilities of wanton and unauthorized speculation. He knew the boundary which hemmed him. He knew that he had not thrown one particle of light on the moral or religious history of these planetary regions. He had not ascertained what visits of communication they received from the God who upholds them. But he knew that the fact of a real visit made to this planet, had such evidence to rest upon, that it was not to be disposted by any aerial imagination. And when I look at the steady and unmoved Christianity of this wonder- stone of that wise and solid principle, in ful man; so far from seeing any symptom virtue of which, the followers of Newton of dotage and imbecility, or any forgetful- give to observation the precedence over ness of those principles on which the fabric theory. It is a principle altogether worthy of his philosophy is reared; do I see that of being laboured-as, if carried round in in sitting down to the work of a Bible Com- faithful and consistent application among mentator, he hath given us their most these numerous varieties, it is able to break beautiful and most consistent exemplifica- up all the existing infidelity of the world. tion.
But there is one other most important conclusion to which it carries us. It car ries us, with all the docility of children, to the Bible; and puts us down into the attitude of an unreserved surrender of thought and understanding, to its authoritative in
and so to serve not merely as an antidote against the infidelity of astronomers, but to serve as an antidote against all infidelity. We are well aware of the diversity of complexion which infidelity puts on. It looks one thing in the man of science and of liberal accomplishment. It looks another thing in the refined voluptuary. It looks still another thing in the common-place railer against the artifices of priestly domination. It looks another thing in the dark and unsettled spirit of him, whose every reflection is tinctured with gall, and who casts his envious and malignant scowl at all that stands associated with the established order of society. It looks another thing in the prosperous man of business, who has neither time nor patience for the details of the christian evidence-but who, amid the hurry of his other occupations, has gathered as many of the lighter petulances of the infidel writers, and caught from the perusal of them, as contemptuous a tone towards the religion of the New Testament, as to set him at large from all the decencies of religious observation, and to give him the disdain of an elevated complacency over all the follies of what he counts a vulgar superstition.
I did not anticipate such a length of time, and of illustration, in this stage of my argument. But I will not regret it, if I have familiarised the minds of any of my readers to the reigning principle of this Discourse. We are strongly disposed to think, that it formation. Without the testimony of an is a principle which might be made to ap-authentic messenger from heaven, I know ply to every argument of every unbeliever nothing of heaven's counsels. I never heard of any moral telescope that can bring to my observation the doings or the deliberations which are taking place in the sanetuary of the Eternal. I may put into the registers of my belief, all that comes home to me through the senses of the outer man, or by the consciousness of the inner man. But neither the one nor the other can tell me of the purposes of God; can tell me of the transactions or the designs of his sublime monarchy; can tell me of the goings forth of Him who is from everlasting unto everlasting; can tell me of the march and the movements of that great administration which embraces all worlds, and takes into its wide and comprehensive survey the mighty roll of innumerable ages. It is true that my fancy may break its impetuous way into this lofty and inaccessible field; and through the devices of my heart, which are many, the visions of an ever-shifting theology may take their alternate sway over me; but the counsel of the Lord, it shall stand. And I repeat it, that if true to the leading principle of that philosophy, which has poured such a flood of light over the mysteries of nature, we shall dismiss every self-formed conception of our own, and wait in all the humility of conscious ignorance, till the Lord himself shall break his silence, and make his counsel known, by an act of communication. And now,
And, lastly, for infidelity has now got down among us to the humblest walks of life; may it occasionally be seen lowering
that a professed communication is before | the doctrine, and all the piety of the Bible, me, and that it has all the solidity of the away from it; and has infused the spirit of experimental evidence on its side, and Antichrist into many of the literary estanothing but the reveries of a daring specu-blishments of the age; but it is not the solid, lation to oppose it, what is the consistent, the profound, the cautious spirit of that what is the rational, what is the philoso- philosophy, which has done so much to phical use that should be made of this doc- ennoble the modern period of our world; ument, but to set me down like a school- for the more that this spirit is cultivated boy, to the work of turning its pages, and and understood, the more will it be found conning its lessons, and submitting the in alliance with that spirit, in virtue of every exercise of my judgment to its infor- which all that exalteth itself against the mation and its testimony? We know that knowledge of God, is humbled, and all lofty there is a superficial philosophy, which imaginations are cast down, and every casts the glare of a most seducing brilliancy thought of the heart is brought into the around it; and spurns the Bible, with all captivity of the obedience of Christ.
On the Extent of the Divine Condescension.
"Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high? Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth?"-Psalm cxiii. 5, 6.
But to press home the sentiment of the text, it is not necessary to stretch the imagination beyond the limit of our actual discoveries. It is enough to strike our minds with the insignificance of this world, and of all who inhabit it, to bring it into measurement with that mighty assemblage of worlds, which lie open to the eye of man, aided as it has been by the inventions of his genius. When we told you of the eighty millions of suns, each occupying his own independ
In our last discourse we attempted to ex- | who could take in the whole, but the disappose the total want of evidence for the as-pearance of a little speck from that field of sertion of the infidel astronomer—and this created things, which the hand of his omreduces the whole of our remaining contro- nipotence had thrown around him. versy with him to the business of arguing against a mere possibility. Still, however, the answer is not so complete as it might be, till the soundness of the argument be attended to, as well as the credibility of the assertion-or, in other words, let us admit the assertion, and take a view of the reasoning which has been constructed upon it. We have already attempted to lay before you the wonderful extent of that space, teeming with unnumbered worlds, which modern science has brought within the cir-ent territory in space, and dispensing his own cle of its discoveries. We even ventured to influences over a cluster of tributary worlds; expatiate on those tracts of infinity, which this world could not fail to sink into littlele on the other side of all that eye or that ness in the eye of him who looked to all the telescope hath made known to us-to shoot magnitude and variety which are around afar into those ulterior regions which are it. We gave you but a feeble image of our beyond the limits of our astronomy-to im- comparative insignificance, when we said press you with the rashness of the imagina- that the glories of an extended forest would tion, that the creative energy of God had suffer no more from the fall of a single leaf, sunk exhausted by the magnitude of its ef- than the glories of this extended universe forts, at that very line, through which the would suffer, though the globe we tread, art of man, lavished as it has been on the "and all that it inherits, should dissolve." work of perfecting the instruments of vision, And when we lift our conceptions to Him has not yet been able to penetrate: and who has peopled immensity with all these upon all this we hazarded the assertion, wonders--who sits enthroned on the magthat though all these visible heavens were nificence of his own works, and by one subto rush into annihilation, and the besom of lime idea can embrace the whole extent of the Almighty's wrath were to sweep from that boundless amplitude, which he has the face of the universe, those millions, and filled with the trophies of his divinity: we millions more of suns and of systems, which cannot but resign our whole heart to the lie within the grasp of our actual observation Psalmist's exclamation of "What is man,
that this event, which, to our eye, would that thou art mindful of him, or the son of leave so wide, and so dismal a solitude be- man, that thou shouldest deign to visit hind it, might be nothing in the eye of Him him!"