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God, and the insignificancy of our assigned | entire absence of all observation in its beportion of it. The way in which we have half, he can pass on to the distinct affirmaattempted to dispose of this plea, is by in- tive testimony of the Bible. sisting on the evidence that is every where around us, of God combining with the largeness of a vast and mighty superintendence, which reaches the outskirts of creation, and spreads over all its amplitudes-the faculty of bestowing as much attention, and exercising as complete and manifold a wisdom, and lavishing as profuse and inexhaustible a goodness on each of its humblest departments, as if it formed the whole extent of his territory.
In the whole of this argument we have looked upon the earth as isolated from the rest of the universe altogether. But according to the way in which the astronomical objection is commonly met, the earth is not viewed as in a state of detachment from the other worlds, and the other orders of being which God has called into existence. It is looked upon as the member of a more extended system. It is associated with the magnificence of a moral empire, as wide as the kingdom of nature. It is not merely asserted, what in our last Discourse has been already done, that for any thing we can know by reason, the plan of redemption may have its influences and its bearings on those creatures of God who people other regions, and occupy other fields in the immensity of his dominions; that to argue, therefore, on this plan being instituted for the single benefit of the world we live in, and of the species to which we belong, is a mere presumption of the infidel himself; and that the objection he rears on it, must fall to the ground, when the vanity of the presumption is exposed. The secrets she has none. To her belong the Christian apologist thinks he can go fur-frankness and the simplicity of conscious ther than this-that he cannot merely ex-greatness; and whether she grapple it with pose the utter baselessness of the infidel the pride of philosophy, or stand in fronted assertion, but that he has positive ground opposition to the prejudices of the multitude, for erecting an opposite and a confronting she does it upon her own strength, and assertion in its place and that after having spurns all the props and all the auxiliaries neutralised their position, by showing the of superstition away from her.
We do think that this lays open a very interesting track, not of wild and fanciful, but of most legitimate and sober-minded speculation. And anxious as we are to put every thing that bears upon the Christian argument into all its lights; and fearless as we feel for the result of a most thorough sifting of it; and thinking as we do think it, the foulest scorn that any pigmy philoso pher of the day should mince his ambiguous scepticism to a set of giddy and ignorant admirers, or that a half-learned and superficial public should associate with the christian priesthood, the blindness and the bigotry of a sinking cause-with these feelings, we are not disposed to blink a single question that may be started on the subject of the Christian evidences. There is not one of its parts or bearings which needs the shelter of a disguise thrown over it. Let the priests of another faith ply their prudential expedients, and look so wise and so wary in the execution of them. But Christianity stands in a higher and a firmer attitude. The defensive armour of a shrinking or timid policy does not suit her. Hers is the naked majesty of truth; and with all the grandeur of age, but with none of its infirmities, has she come down to us, and gathered new strength from the battles she has won in the many controversies of many generations. With such a religion as this there is nothing to hide. All should be above boards. And the broadest light of day should be made fully and freely to circulate throughout all the secrecies. But
On the Knowledge of Man's Moral History in the Distant Places of Creation.
"Which things the angels desire to look into."-1 Peter i. 12.
THERE is a limit, across which man can-stance that is within reach of his hand. He not carry any one of his perceptions, and can smell a flower that is presented to him. from the ulterior of which he cannot gather a He can taste the food that is before him. single observation to guide or to inform him. He can hear a sound of certain pitch and While he keeps by the objects which are intensity; and, so much does this sense of near, he can get the knowledge of them hearing widen his intercourse with exterconveyed to his mind through the ministry nal nature, that, from the distance of miles, of several of the senses. He can feel a sub-it can bring him in an occasional intimation.
over the whole face of which he hath inscribed the evidence of his high attributes, in all their might, and in all their manifestations.
But of all the tracks of conveyance which God has been pleased to open up between the mind of man, and the theatre by which he is surrounded, there is none by which he so multiplies his acquaintance with But man has a great deal more to keep the rich and the varied creation on every him humble of his understanding, than a side of him, as by the organ of the eye. It mere sense of that boundary which skirts is this which gives to him his loftiest com- and terminates the material field of his mand over the scenery of nature. It is this contemplations. He ought also to feel by which so broad a range of observation how within that boundary, the vast mais submitted to him. It is this which ena- jority of things is mysterious and unknown bles him, by the act of a single moment, to to him; that even in the inner chamber of send an exploring look over the surface of an his own consciousness, where so much lies ample territory, to crowd his mind with the hidden from the observation of others, there whole assembly of its objects, and to fill his is also, to himself, a little world of incomvision with those countless hues which di-prehensibles; that if stepping beyond the versify and adorn it. It is this which carries limits of this familiar home, he look no him abroad over all that is sublime in the further than to the members of his family, immensity of distance; which sets him as there is much in the cast and the colour of it were on an elevated platform, from every mind that is above his powers of diwhence he may cast a surveying glance vination; that in proportion as he recedes over the arena of innumerable worlds; from the centre of his own personal expewhich spreads before him so mighty a pro- rience, there is a cloud of ignorance and vince of contemplation, that the earth he secrecy, which spreads, and thickens, and inhabits, only appears to furnish him with throws a deep and impenetrable veil over the pedestal on which he may stand, and the intricacies of every one department of from which he may descry the wonders of human contemplation; that of all around all that magnificence which the Divinity him his knowledge is naked and superficial, has poured so abundantly around him. It and confined to a few of those more conspicuis by the narrow outlet of the eye, that the ous lineaments which strike upon his senses; mind of man takes its excursive flight over that the whole face both of nature and of those golden tracks, where, in all the ex- society, presents him with questions which haustlessness of creative wealth, lie scatter- he cannot unriddle, and tells him how beed the suns, and the systems of astronomy.neath the surface of all that the eye can But oh! how good a thing it is, and how be- rest upon, there lies the profoundness of a coming well, for the philosopher to be most unsearchable latency; aye, and should humble even amid the proudest march of hu- he in some lofty enterprise of thought, leave man discovery, and the sublimest triumphs this world, and shoot afar into those tracks of of the human understanding, when he speculation which astronomy has openedthinks of that unscaled barrier, beyond should he, baffled by the mysteries which bewhich no power, either of eye or of tele- set his every footstep upon earth attempt an scope, shall ever carry him: when he thinks ambitious flight towards the mysteries of that on the other side of it, there is a height, heaven-let him go, but let the justness of a and a depth, and a length, and a breadth, pious and philosophical modesty go along to which the whole of this concave and with him; let him forget not, that from the movisible firmament dwindles into the insig- ment his mind has taken its ascending way for nificancy of an atom--and above all, how a few little miles above the world he treads ready should he be to cast his every lofty upon, his every sense abandons him but oneimagination away from him, when he that number, and motion, and magnitude, thinks of the God, who, on the simple foun- and figure, make up all the barrenness of its dation of his word, has reared the whole elementary informations-that these orbs of this stately architecture, and, by the have sent him scarce another message, than force of his preserving hand, continues to told by their feeble glimmering upon his uphold it; aye, and should the word again eye, the simple fact of their existence-that come out from him, that this earth shall he sees not the landscape of other worldspass away, and a portion of the heavens that he knows not the moral system of any which are around it, shall again fall back one of them-nor athwart the long and into the annihilation from which he at first trackless vacancy which lies between, does summoned them, what an impressive re- there fall upon his listening ear, the hum of buke does it bring on the swelling vanity their mighty populations. of science, to think that the whole field of its most ambitious enterprises may be swept away altogether, and there remain before the eye of him who sitteth on the throne, an untravelled immensity, which he hath filled with innumerable splendours, and
But the knowledge which he cannot fetch up himself from the obscurity of this wondrous but untravelled scene, by the exercise of any one of his own senses, might be fetched to him by the testimony of a competent messenger. Conceive a native
of one of these planetary mansions to light upon our world, and all we should require, would be, to be satisfied of his credentials, that we may tack our faith to every point of information he had to offer us. With the solitary exception of what we have been enabled to gather by the instruments of astronomy, there is not one of his communications about the place he came from, on which we possess any means at all of confronting him; and, therefore, could he only appear before us invested with the characters of truth, we should never think of any thing else than taking up the whole matter of his testimony just as he brought it to us. It were well had a sound philosophy schooled its professing disciples to the same kind of acquiescence in another message, which has actually come to the world; and The informations of the Bible upon this has told us of matters still more remote subject, are of two sorts-that from which from every power of unaided observation; we confidently gather the fact, that the and has been sent from a more sublime and history of the redemption of our species is mysterious distance, even from that God known in other and distant places of the of whom it is said, that "clouds and dark-creation-and that, from which we indisness are the habitation of his throne;" and tinctly guess at the fact, that the redemption treating of a theme so lofty and so inacces- itself may stretch beyond the limits of the sible, as the counsels of that Eternal Spirit, world we occupy. "whose goings forth are of old, even from everlasting," challenges of man that he should submit his every thought to the authority of this high communication. O! had the philosophers of the day known as well as their great Master, how to draw the vigorous land-mark which verges the field of legitimate discovery, they should have seen when it is that philosophy becomes vain, and science is falsely so called; and how it is, that when philosophy is true to her principles, she shuts up her faithful votary to the Bible, and makes him willing to count all but loss, for the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and of him crucified.
But let it be well observed, that the object of this message is not to convey information to us about the state of these planetary regions. This is not the matter with which it is fraught. It is a message from the throne of God to this rebellious province of his dominions; and the purpose of it is, to reveal the fearful extent of our guilt and of our danger, and to lay before us the overtures of reconciliation. Were a similar message sent from the metropolis of a mighty empire, to one of its remote and revolutionary districts, we should not look to it for much information about the state or economy of the intermediate provinces. This were a departure from the topic on hand-though still there may chance to be some incidental allusions to the extent and resources of the whole monarchy, to the existence of a similar spirit of rebellion in other quarters of the land, or to the general principle of loyalty by which it was pervaded. Some casual references of this kind may be inserted in
And, here it may shortly be adverted to, that, though we know little or nothing of the moral and theological economy of the other planets, we are not to infer, that the beings who occupy these widely extended regions, even though not higher than we in the scale of understanding, know little of ours. Our first parents, ere they committed that act by which they brought themselves and their posterity into the need of redemption, had frequent and familiar intercourse with God. He walked with them in the garden of paradise; and there did angels hold their habitual converse; and, should the same unblotted innocence which charmed and attracted these superior beings to the haunts of Eden, be perpetuated in every planet but our own, then might each of them be the scene of high and heavenly communications, an open way for the messengers of God be kept up with them all, and their inhabitants be admitted to a share in the themes and contemplations of angels, and have their spirit exercised on those things, of which we are told that the angels desired to look into them; and thus, as we talk of the public mind of a city, or the public mind of an empire-by the well-frequented avenues of a free and ready circulation, a public mind might be formed throughout the whole extent of God's sinless and intelligent creation-and, just as we often read of the eyes of all Europe being turned to the one spot where some affair of eventful importance is going on, there might be the eyes of a whole universe turned to the one world, where rebellion against the Majesty of heaven had planted
such a proclamation, or they may not-its standard; and for the re-admission of
and it is with this precise feeling of ambiguity that we open the record of that embassy which has been sent us from heaven, to see if we can gather any thing there, about other places of the creation, to meet the objections of the infidel astronomer. But, while we pursue this object, let us have a care not to push the speculation beyond the limits of the written testimony; let us keep a just and a steady eye on the actual boundary of our knowledge, that, throughout every distinct step of our argument, we might preserve that chaste and unambitious spirit, which characterizes the philosophy of him who explored these distant heavens, and, by the force of his genius, unravelled the secret of that wondrous mechanism which upholds them.
which within the circle of his fellowship, | look at the might and majesty of the EterGod, whose justice was inflexible, but whose nal-that no field of clou ess transparency mercy he had, by some plan of mysterious so enchants them by the blissfulness of its wisdom, made to rejoice over it, was put-visions, as when at the shrine of infinite ting forth all the might, and travelling in all and unspotted holiness, they bend themthe greatness of the attributes which belong selves in raptured adoration—that no beauty to him. so fascinates and attracts them, as does that moral beauty which throws a softening lustre over the awfulness of the Godheadin a word, that the image of his character is ever present to their contemplations, and the unceasing joy of their sinless existence lies in the knowledge and the admiration of the Deity.
But, for the full understanding of this argument, it must be remarked, that, while in our exiled habitation, where all is darkness and rebellion, and enmity, the creature engrosses every heart, and our affections, when they shift at all, only wander from one fleeting vanity to another, it is not so in the habitations of the unfallen. There, Let us put forth an effort, and keep a every desire and every movement is subor-steady hold of this consideration; for the dinated to God. He is seen in all that form- deadness of our earthly imaginations makes ed, and in all that is spread around them- an effort necessary; and we shall perceive, and, amid the fulness of that delight with that though the world we live in were the which they expatiate over the good and the alone theatre of redemption, there is a fair of this wondrous universe, the anima- something in the redemption itself that is ting charm which pervades their every fitted to draw the eye of an arrested unicontemplation, is that they behold, on each verse towards it. Surely, surely, where devisible thing, the impress of the mind that light in God is the constant enjoyment, and conceived, and of the hand that made and the earnest intelligent contemplation of God that upholds it. Here, God is banished from is the constant exercise, there is nothing in the thoughts of every natural man, and by the whole compass of nature or of history, a firm and constantly maintained act of that can so set his adoring myriads upon usurpation, do the things of sense and of the gaze, as some new and wondrous evolutime wield an entire ascendancy. There tion of the character of God. Now this is God is all in all. They walk in his light. found in the plan of our redemption; nor, They rejoice in the beatitudes of his pre- do I see how in any transaction between sence. The veil is from off their eyes, the great Father of existence, and the chiland they see the character of a presiding dren who have sprung from him, the moral Divinity in every scene, and in every event attributes of the Deity could, if I may so to which the Divinity has given birth. It express myself, be put to so severe and so is this which stamps a glory and an im- delicate a test. It is true, that the great portance on the whole field of their contem- matters of sin and of salvation fall without plations; and when they see a new evolution impression, on the heavy ears of a listless in the history of created things, the reason and alienated world. But they who, to use they bend towards it so attentive an eye, is, the language of the Bible, are light in the that it speaks to their understanding some Lord, look otherwise at these things. They new evolution in the purposes of God; some see sin in all its malignity, and salvation in new manifestation of his high attributes- all its mysterious greatness. Aye, and it some new and interesting step in the his- would put them on the stretch of all their tory of his sublime administration. faculties, when they saw rebellion lifting up its standard against the Majesty of heaven, and the truth and the justice of God embarked on the threatenings he had uttered against all the doers of iniquity, and the honours of that august throne, which has the firm pillars of immutability to rest upon, linked with the fulfilment of the law that had come out from it; and when nothing else was looked for, but that God, by putting forth the power of his wrath, should accomplish his every denunciation, and vindicate the inflexibility of his government, and by one sweeping deed of vengeance, assert in the sight of all his creatures, the sovereignty which belongeth to him-Oh! with what desire must they have pondered on his ways, when amid the urgency of all these demands which looked so high and so indispensable, they saw the unfoldings of the attribute of mercy-and how the
Now, we ought to be aware how it takes off, not from the intrinsic weight, but from the actual impression of our argument, that this devotedness to God which reigns in other places of the creation, this interest in him as the constant and essential principle of all enjoyment; this concern in the untaintedness of his glory; this delight in the survey of his perfections and his doings, are what the men of our corrupt and darkened world cannot sympathize with.
But however little we may enter into it, the Bible tells us by many intimations, that among those creatures who have not fallen from their allegiance, nor departed from the living God, God is their all-that love to him sits enthroned in their hearts, and fills them with all the ecstacy of an overwhelming affection-that a sense of grandeur never so elevates their souls, as when they
supreme Lawgiver was bending upon his guilty creatures an eye of tenderness-and how in his profound and unsearchable wisdom, he was devising for them some plan of restoration-and how the eternal Son had to move from his dwelling-place in heaven, to carry it forward through all the difficulties by which it was encompassed-and how, after, by the virtue of his mysterious sacrifice, he had magnified the glory of every other perfection, he made mercy rejoice over them all, and threw open a way by which we sinful and polluted wanderers might, with the whole lustre of the Divine de character untarnished, be re-admitted into fellowship with God, and be again brought back within the circle of his loyal and affectionate family.
Now, the essential character of such a transaction, viewed as a manifestation of God, does not hang upon the number of worlds, over which this sin and this salvation may have extended. We know that over this one world such an economy of wisdom and of mercy is instituted-and, even should this be the only world that is embraced by it, the moral display of the Godhead is mainly and substantially the same, as if it reached throughout the whole of that habitable extent which the science of astronomy has made known to us. By the disobedience of this one world, the law was trampled on; and, in the business of making truth and mercy to meet, and have a harmonious accomplishment on the men of this world, the dignity of God was put to the same trial; the justice of God appeared to lay the same immoveable barrier; the wisdom of God had to clear a way through the same difficulties; the forgiveness of God had to find the same mysterious conveyance to the sinners of a solitary world, as to the sinners of half a universe. The extent of the field upon which this question was decided, has no more influence on the question itself, than the figure or the dimensions of that field of combat, on which some great political question was fought, has on the importance or on the moral principles of the controversy that gave rise to it. This objection about the narrowness of the theatre, carries along with it all the grossness of materialism. To the eye of spiritual and intelligent beings, it is nothing. In their view, the redemption of a sinful world derives its chief interest from the display it gives of the mind and purposes of the Deity-and, should that world be but a single speck in the immensity of the works of God, the only way in which this affects their estimate of him, is to magnify his loving kindness-who rather than lose one solitary world of the myriads he has formed, would lavish all the riches of his beneficence and of his wisdom on the re-stands arrayed in all the splendour of uncovery of its guilty population. searchable riches; for we are told that this
I will not, in proof of the position, that the history of our redemption is known in other and distant places of creation, and is matter of deep interest and feeling among other orders of created intelligence-I will not put down all the quotations which might be assembled together upon this argument. It is an impressive circumstance, than when Moses and Elias made a visit to our Saviour on the mount of transfiguration, and appeared in glory from heaven, the topic they brought along with them, and with which they were fraught, was the decease he was going to accomplish at Jerusalem. And however insipid the things of our salvation may be to an earthly understanding; we are made to know, that in the sufferings of Christ, and the glory which should follow, there is matter to attract the notice of celestial spirits, for these are the very things, says the Bible, which angels desire to look into. And however listlessly we, the dull and grovelling children of an exiled family, may feel about the perfections of the Godhead, and the display of those perfections in the economy of the Gospel, it is intimated to us in the book of God's message, that the creation has its districts and its provinces; and we accordingly read of thrones, and dominions, and principalities, and powers; and whether these terms denote the separate regions of government, or the beings who, by a commission granted from the sanctuary of heaven, sit in delegated authority over themeven in their eyes the mystery of Christ
Now, though it must be admitted that the Bible does not speak clearly or decisively as to the proper effect of redemption being extended to other worlds; it speaks most clearly and most decisively about the know. ledge of it being disseminated among other orders of created intelligence than our own. But if the contemplation of God be their supreme enjoyment, then the very circumstance of our redemption being known to them, may invest it, even though it be but the redemption of one solitary world, with an importance as wide as the universe itself. It may spread among the hosts of immensity a new illustration of the character of Him who is all their praise, and looking toward whom every energy within them is moved to the exercise of a deep and delighted admiration. The scene of the transaction may be narrow in point of material extent; while in the transaction itself there may be such a moral dignity, as to blazon the perfections of the Godhead over the face of creation; and from the manifested glory of the Eternal, to send forth a tide of ecstacy, and of high gratulation, throughout the whole extent of his dependent provinces.