Imatges de pÓgina

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.

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 philosopher 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 feel

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 earthings, we are not disposed to blink a single is not viewed as in a state of detachment question that may be started on the subject from the other worlds, and the other orders of the Christian evidences. There is not of being which God has called into exist- one of its parts or bearings which needs the ence. It is looked upon as the member of shelter of a disguise thrown over it. Let a more extended system. It is associated the priests of another faith ply their prudenwith the magnificence of a moral empire, tial expedients, and look so wise and so as wide as the kingdom of nature. It is not wary in the execution of them. But Chrismerely asserted, what in our last Discourse tianity stands in a higher and a firmer attihas been already done, that for any thing tude. The defensive armour of a shrinking we can know by reason, the plan of re- or timid policy does not suit her. Hers is demption may have its influences and its the naked majesty of truth; and with all bearings on those creatures of God who the grandeur of age, but with none of its people other regions, and occupy other infirmities, has she come down to us, and fields in the immensity of his dominions; gathered new strength from the battles she that to argue, therefore, on this plan being has won in the many controversies of many instituted for the single benefit of the world generations. With such a religion as this we live in, and of the species to which we there is nothing to hide. All should be belong, is a mere presumption of the infi- above boards. And the broadest light of del himself; and that the objection he rears day should be made fully and freely to ciron it, must fall to the ground, when the culate throughout all the secrecies. But 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.


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.


But of all the tracks of conveyance which | over the whole face of which he hath inGod has been pleased to open up between scribed the evidence of his high attributes, the mind of man, and the theatre by which in all their might, and in all their manifeshe is surrounded, there is none by which tations. 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 becoming well, for the philosopher to be humble even amid the proudest march of human discovery, and the sublimest triumphs of the human understanding, when he thinks of that unscaled barrier, beyond which no power, either of eye or of tele-set his every footstep upon earth attempt an scope, shall ever carry him: when he thinks that on the other side of it, there is a height, and a depth, and a length, and a breadth, to which the whole of this concave and visible firmament dwindles into the insignificancy of an atom-and above all, how ready should he be to cast his every lofty imagination away from him, when he thinks of the God, who, on the simple foundation of his word, has reared the whole of this stately architecture, and, by the force of his preserving hand, continues to uphold it; aye, and should the word again come out from him, that this earth shall pass away, and a portion of the heavens which are around it, shall again fall back into the annihilation from which he at first summoned them, what an impressive rebuke does it bring on the swelling vanity 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

rest upon, there lies the profoundness of a most unsearchable latency; aye, and should he in some lofty enterprise of thought, leave this world, and shoot afar into those tracks of speculation which astronomy has opened— should he, baffled by the mysteries which be

ambitious flight towards the mysteries of heaven-let him go, but let the justness of a pious and philosophical modesty go along with him; let him forget not,that from the moment his mind has taken its ascending way for a few little miles above the world he treads upon, his every sense abandons him but one— that number, and motion, and magnitude, and figure, make up all the barrenness of its elementary informations-that these orbs have sent him scarce another message, than told by their feeble glimmering upon his eye, the simple fact of their existence-that he sees not the landscape of other worldsthat he knows not the moral system of any one of them-nor athwart the long and trackless vacancy which lies between, does there fall upon his listening ear, the hum of their mighty populations.

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 has told us of matters still more remote from every power of unaided observation; and has been sent from a more sublime and mysterious distance, even from that God of whom it is said, that "clouds and darkness are the habitation of his throne;" and treating of a theme so lofty and so inaccessible, as the counsels of that Eternal Spirit, "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.

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.

The informations of the Bible upon this subject, are of two sorts-that from which we confidently gather the fact, that the history of the redemption of our species is known in other and distant places of the creation-and that, from which we indistinctly guess at the fact, that the redemption itself may stretch beyond the limits of the world we occupy.

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 But let it be well observed, that the object charmed and attracted these superior beings of this message is not to convey information to the haunts of Eden, be perpetuated in to us about the state of these planetary re- every planet but our own, then might each gions. This is not the matter with which of them be the scene of high and heavenly it is fraught. It is a message from the throne communications, an open way for the mesof God to this rebellious province of his do- sengers of God be kept up with them all, minions; and the purpose of it is, to reveal and their inhabitants be admitted to a share the fearful extent of our guilt and of our dan- in the themes and contemplations of angels, ger, and to lay before us the overtures of and have their spirit exercised on those reconciliation. Were a similar message things, of which we are told that the angels sent from the metropolis of a mighty em- desired to look into them; and thus, as we pire, to one of its remote and revolutionary talk of the public mind of a city, or the districts, we should not look to it for much public mind of an empire-by the well-freinformation about the state or economy of quented avenues of a free and ready cirthe intermediate provinces. This were a culation, a public mind might be formed departure from the topic on hand-though throughout the whole extent of God's sinstill there may chance to be some incidental less and intelligent creation-and, just as allusions to the extent and resources of the we often read of the eyes of all Europe whole monarchy, to the existence of a simi- being turned to the one spot where some lar spirit of rebellion in other quarters of the affair of eventful importance is going on, land, or to the general principle of loyalty there might be the eyes of a whole universe by which it was pervaded. Some casual turned to the one world, where rebellion references of this kind may be inserted in against the Majesty of heaven had planted such a proclamation, or they may not-its standard; and for the re-admission of

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 the greatness of the attributes which belong to him.

and unspotted holiness, they bend themselves in raptured adoration-that no beauty 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 themand, amid the fulness of that delight with which they expatiate over the good and the fair of this wondrous universe, the animating charm which pervades their every contemplation, is that they behold, on each visible thing, the impress of the mind that conceived, and of the hand that made and that upholds it. Here, God is banished from the thoughts of every natural man, and by a firm and constantly maintained act of usurpation, do the things of sense and of time wield an entire ascendancy. There God is all in all. They walk in his light. They rejoice in the beatitudes of his presence. The veil is from off their eyes, and they see the character of a presiding Divinity in every scene, and in every event to which the Divinity has given birth. It is this which stamps a glory and an importance on the whole field of their contemplations; and when they see a new evolution in the history of created things, the reason they bend towards it so attentive an eye, is, that it speaks to their understanding some new evolution in the purposes of God; some new manifestation of his high attributessome new and interesting step in the history of his sublime administration.

an effort necessary; and we shall perceive, that though the world we live in were the alone theatre of redemption, there is a something in the redemption itself that is fitted to draw the eye of an arrested universe towards it. Surely, surely, where delight in God is the constant enjoyment, and the earnest intelligent contemplation of God is the constant exercise, there is nothing in the whole compass of nature or of history, that can so set his adoring myriads upon the gaze, as some new and wondrous evolution of the character of God. Now this is found in the plan of our redemption; nor, do I see how in any transaction between the great Father of existence, and the children who have sprung from him, the moral attributes of the Deity could, if I may so express myself, be put to so severe and so delicate a test. It is true, that the great matters of sin and of salvation fall without impression, on the heavy ears of a listless and alienated world. But they who, to use the language of the Bible, are light in the Lord, look otherwise at these things. They see sin in all its malignity, and salvation in all its mysterious greatness. Aye, and it would put them on the stretch of all their faculties, when they saw rebellion lifting Now, we ought to be aware how it takes up its standard against the Majesty of heaoff, not from the intrinsic weight, but from ven, and the truth and the justice of God the actual impression of our argument, that embarked on the threatenings he had utthis devotedness to God which reigns in tered against all the doers of iniquity, and other places of the creation, this interest in the honours of that august throne, which him as the constant and essential principle has the firm pillars of immutability to rest of all enjoyment; this concern in the un- upon, linked with the fulfilment of the law taintedness of his glory; this delight in the that had come out from it; and when nosurvey of his perfections and his doings, thing else was looked for, but that God, by are what the men of our corrupt and dark-putting forth the power of his wrath, should ened 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

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

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 character untarnished, be re-admitted into fellowship with God, and be again brought back within the circle of his loyal and affec-ward whom every energy within them is tionate family.

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 to

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 recovery of its guilty population.

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.

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 stands arrayed in all the splendour of unsearchable riches; for we are told that this

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