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spirit itself, but the acts or attributes of spirit. We grant too, that we cannot tell what spirit is, separately from these acts or attributes—further than that there must be something-an immaterial substance it is often called to which all these belong. But of this immaterial substance, we affirm that we are not more ignorant, than of the material substance called matter. Our ignorance, and our knowledge of both, are exactly similar and equal. We can define neither matter nor spirit, except by their several attributes; and by these we can define and conceive of both equally well. If any body will tell me what matter is, exclusively of its being hard, extended and coloured, I will tell him what spirit is, exclusively of its thinking, choosing and refusing. If he cannot do the former, he ought not to require me to do the latter; and if he believes in the existence of matter, when it is known only by its attributes, he ought to believe in spirit which is known precisely in the same way. Yes, my young friends, we have as much knowledge of mind as we have of matter—we are no more ignorant of a spiritual than of a material substance. Spirit is that which thinks, which reasons, which judges, which deliberately approves or disapproves. These certainly are not among the known properties of matter, let materialists reason as they may; but they are the known and acknowledged properties of what we denominate mind or spirit.

Now, in regard to our Creator-in speaking of whom we ought ever to be filled with the profoundest reverence when we say that he is a Spirit, we do not presume to say that his essence is of the same nature with that of our own minds, or even with that of angelic minds. It may be greatly different from that of any created spirit; as we know that he is in all respects infinitely superior to the highest orders of his creatures. Still we do say, and are warranted by his revelation to say, that “God is a Spirit.” He is infinitely intelligent, as well as the source of all intelligence to every creature possessing the powers of intellect-God is not matter but the purest of spirits.

You will observe that the answer under consideration, after teaching us that God is a Spirit, goes on to state, that both in his being and in all the attributes afterwards enumerated, he is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable-these terms are to be connected with each of the words which follows them in the answer.

2. God is infinite in his Being. The infinitude of the being of God is often called his omnipresence, and sometimes his immensity, and it is closely connected with his omniscience. He is present in every part of his wide dominions; so that no point can be assumed or imagined in unlimited space, of which it can be said that God is not there. He is there in the strictest sense; there by his essential presence, as well as by his perfect knowledge of whatever else is there. This is inimitably described in the 139th Psalm—“Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there; if I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me: yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee."

The Deity being thus every where present, not only surrounding and embracing, but most intimately pervading every created being, perfectly knows all things. His omniscience, as it relates to a knowledge of all that passes in the universe, is, as already intimated, closely connected with his immensity or ubiquity. No occurrence, no change, can possibly take place in creation unperceived by him. Nay, not only all visible events, but all the most secret thoughts and designs of his intelligent creatures, whether good or bad, the moment they are formed, are more perfectly known to him than to the creatures who form them. “ The Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts-I am he that searcheth the reins and hearts.'

The omnipresence or infinite being of God, is also connected with his providential care, preservation, and perfect control and government, of all the works of his hands. As they all exist in him, and are npheld by him, they cannot act but by his permission. He limits and bounds all their actions; he directs and orders all things according to his good pleasure; and “ he openeth his hand and satisfieth the desires of every living thing."

The incomprehensibility of God by his creatures, follows necessarily from his infinity. He is fully known only to Himself. A finite being cannot comprehend that which is infinite. " Who by searching can find out God, who can find out the Almighty to perfection? Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, it is high, I cannot attain unto it.” The most enlarged capacity of men or of angels, will never be able fully to understand the being or the perfections of God. Hence their capacities may be, and it seems probable to me that they will be, for ever enlarging, and rendering them more noble, and such of them as are holy, more happy; and yet, although this be so, there will for ever remain an infinite distance between them and their Creator.

3. God is eternal. He exists from eternity to eternity. There is an eternity which is past, and an eternity which is to come-an eternity before time began, and an eternity when time shall be no more. Time is measured by a constant succession of its parts or portions, and every moment as it passes is taken from the eternity to come, and added to the eternity which is passed. Suppose a line strictly infinite, that is, without beginning or end. This may represent the whole of eternity. Suppose a point taken in this line, and moved forward a very small distance, say an inch, and there terminated. This small distance on the infinite line, may represent time. The Divine existence is commensurate with the whole line. But all the events of time, from the formation to the dissolution of the universe, lie within the measured inch: and as there is no proportion between this inch and the whole line, inasmuch as there can be no proportion between that which is finite and that which is infinite, so there is no proportion whatever between time and eternity. In the Divine existence, represented by the whole line, there is no succession or progression of parts; for the supposition is that it is complete at once, and without beginning or end. Hence it has been said with truth, that the existence of the Supreme Being is one eternal now.

We conceive of him as having existed an endless duration, before the point was assumed from which the inch of time begins. Through this whole duration he existed without creatures-perfectly happy in himself alone. Men and angels will exist through an endless duration, represented by the line which goes forward from the termination of the measured inch: that is, their future existence, awful thought! will be commensurate with the existence of God. But you will be careful to observe, that this eternal future existence of intelligent creatures is not a necessary existence, like that of the Creator—it depends entirely on his will and appointment. He could terminate it in a moment, if such were his pleasure; but it will continue eternally, because it is his unchanging deterniination that it shall so continue. But his existence, from eternity to eternity, is from his very nature—it is a necessary indestructible existence.

Here, again, my dear youth, we have another view of the incomprehensible nature of God. I have endeavoured to give your thoughts a right direction for meditating on the subject, and to illustrate it a little. But eternal duration is a subject that soon swallows up all our thoughts. Sometimes when we speak of the distinctions or persons in the Godhead, we are told that we speak of what is incomprehensible. We admit it fully; but we remark that there is nothing which relates to the Deity that is not incomprehensible: and for myself, I know of nothing in theology that is more mysterious, nothing that more imme

diately baffles and overwhelms all our powers of comprehension and distinct conception, than this very first principle, which all but atheists admit, that God is eternal. An eternal uncaused existence, bewilders and absorbs the mind, the moment the attempt is made to grasp it, or closely to investigate it. Yet this is the most indisputable and fundamental truth in all theology, natural or revealed. Verily, when the being and attributes of God are the subject of our investigations, our feeble beam of intellect can guide us but a little distance. We must soon exchange reasoning for humble and adoring admiration.

4. God is unchangeable. This we must believe, if we hold the perfection of the Deity; because change necessarily implies imperfection—as all change must be either for the better or the worse, and perfection excludes both. Having a perfect foresight of all events, possible as well as actual, and the arrangement and ordering of all secondary causes and agents from first to last, we cannot conceive of any reason why there should be a change, in any of the purposes of the Deity. When God, in some passages of Scripture, is said “to repent,” it is always to be understood as spoken in accommodation to human perceptions; that is, the visible procedure in the divine dispensations is such as when men repent, and change one course for another. But such expressions are not intended to intimate that there is any change in the purpose, mind, or will of God: the Scripture assures us of the contrary—that “he is of one mind, and none can turn him, and that s with him there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

The remainder of this answer of the Catechism must be reserved for a future lecture. Let us endeavour to derive from what has now been said, a few practical and useful inferences.

1. We should learn always to speak of that great and glorious Being, of whom I have been discoursing, with holy awe; and always to treat whatever relates to him with the deepest reverence.

It is told of the

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