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power, by whose energy the elements their true origin, and thence down to were separated, and bodies formed. their certain termination, can ever be
That the Persians maintained the said to answer this great object. For doctrine of more than one Intelli- a system on which wisdom is so evigence, or Mind, at the head of the Uni- dently impressed, however, we are not verse, is also well ascertained. They to look to those pretended sons of imagined, since good and evil are wisdom. blended in the world, and nature pro- Is it not manifest, in all the systems duces nothing mixed, that there are of modern theorists, that they gratutherefore, in nature, two opposite itously assume a first fund of indeterpowers counteracting each other's minate Matter, which they suppose caoperations; the one accomplishing pable of entering into all sorts of congood designs, the other evil. That ditions and compositions ? Is it not Orpheus and Plato, Aristotle and the under such a covert only, that their Stoics, Pherecydes and Xenophenes, theories can subsist ? Is it not in Democrites and Epicurus, all main- such assumed principle alone, tained nearly the same doctrine of the that the moderns, as well as the anindependent and eternal existence of cients, find materials on which to Matter, is sufficiently known. And operate in the formation of their who needs to be told, that the last worlds ? especially, has been rendered famous Their systems being formed nearly by the world which his own hands on the same plan, they attempt,” as have framed from this eternal Chaos, Enfield remarks on that of Epicurus, which he conceived as consisting of an “to account for all the appearances of infinity of atoms?
nature, upon the simple principle of Such, in a general view, were the matter and motion ;" or rather, I may opinions of the ancients. And surely say, of the effects of fire and water, there is cause to fear that the moderns “ without introducing the agency of a have drunk too deeply into the same Supreme Intelligence.”
Grant only spirit. Is it not vexatious to hear such to a modern theorist fire, and water, an otherwise eminent philosopher as and time, and other materials; and by the late Professor Playfair, gravely the simple effect of such agents, withtelling us, “That in the economy of out more ado, he will furnish you with the world, there is no mark either of a the world in its present form. Matter, beginning or an end ?”* Nor is it with its present properties, seems to less distressing to find others, in ac- be all that is necessary as pre-requicounting for its origin, carrying us sites to their various systems. And back almost to eternity itself; and from in the use of this assumed material, what they say of the uncertain nature“ They fail not,” as M. de St. Pierre of the period they assign to its com- observes, “ to interpret the sublime mencement, can we have any other operations of Nature, by the mechanidea than that it was lost in eternity, ism of the arts most familiar to them. and never had any specific beginning? Hence so many systems, which easily
Thus does the present method of enable you to guess at the occupation philosophizing, throw a stumbling- of their authors. Epicurus, exhausted bloek in our way, of ever ascertaining by voluptuousness, formed his world the true origin and end of things. and his atoms, with which Providence And yet when man is viewed in the has nothing to do, out of his own light of a rational and an immortal apathy; the geometrician forms it being, what can be more important with his compasses; the chemist comthan that he should entertain right pounds it of salts; the mineralogist views of so interesting a subject ? extracts it from fire ; and they who The different theories, however, at pre- apply themselves to nothing, and these sent in vogue in the philosophical are not few in number, suppose it, world, are not at all calculated to lead to like themselves, in a state of chaos, such happy results, but rather to mis- and moving at random. Thus, the lead mankind into all the errors of an corruption of the heart is the origin unbounded scepticism. Nothing but and source of our errors.”+ a system which traces things up to Being thus busily employed in constructing his world, each man in his matter, to refer this to the passive own way, no one allows himself leisure nature of the one and the active nature to inquire, How this Matter, of which of the other. Because, if the fact be they all avail themselves, came to really so, that the two principles are exist? or to be endowed with those eternal and independent the one of the properties which alone render it capa- other,--such a position, when admitted ble of entering into its various forma- and traced to its ultimate bearings, tions and compositions ? Or what seems to erect an eternal barrier to may have been the original state of any collision, affinity, or amicable arthings, before a single effect in natural rangement, ever taking place between bodies, as they now occur, took place? | them. The simple circumstance of Yet such inquiries lie, most undoubt their being two eternal and indepenedly, at the foundation of every ra- dent principles, renders it impossible tional system. Naỹ, without such in- that the one could ever have any influquiries, the commencement of any ence on the other; but each possessing system must be involved in such a properties peculiar to itself, and etercloud of obscurity and darkness, as to nally residing in itself, must eternally afford no rational hope that the con- retain the same. And the one being clusion will be more lucid.
* Playfair's Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory, $ 118, 119,
+ St. Pierre's Studies of Nature, p. 41. Abridg. Eng
active and the other passive, they Let us therefore examine the re- must remain for ever in the same nowned and bewitching doctrine of state ; unless we could conceive,the eternal and pre-existent state of either a positive and voluntary agreeMatter. And first, I would ask, Is it a ment respecting a change in their condoctrine which is true, or false? Is it dition, or union to be formed between urged upon us by a train of self-evi- them ;-a thing which is impossible, as dent principles ? Or, is it the mere ar- the one is in that passive, inactive, and bitrary hypothesis of such as say in insensible condition which completely their heart, There is no God? To the incapacitates it from ever entering position, That Matter is eternal, self- into any terms of alliance or accomexistent, and independent; or, that modation: or else, That the active there were two eternal beings, or prin- principle, made hostile, advances upon ciples, an active and passive, a liv- the passive, and subdues and overing and dead principle, or Mind and comes it;--a thing which is also imposMatter, eternally, and distinctly, and sible; for passive as it is, if it be only independently of each other, existing ; eternal and independent, it must rethe following insuperable objections, main for ever in the same state; seeing in my view, oppose themselves.- every consideration which can be al.
1. If dead, inactive, and passive leged for its independent and eternal Matter, be eternal and independent of existence respecting the past, goes the active and living principle, whose equally to confirm the same with reexistence is admitted on all hands, it spect to the future. seems to be impossible to shew upon 3. By the very hypothesis then, of what principle it could be brought so two eternal and independent princiremarkably to accord with the plan of ples, we are bound to infer, that such the universe, as to form, with another state must regard eternity to come, eternal and independent principle, as well as eternity past; and therefore, which is of a naturc directly its oppo- supposing the fact really to be such as site, not two but one homogeneous and the generality of the ancients and consistent whole. In the present plan many of the moderns have asserted, of the universe, Matter is evidently we are unavoidably brought to the folsusceptible of being modelled, and lowing conclusion—That so far would changed, and formed, into every con- the existence of these two principles be. ceivable state and condition ; and is from preparing the way for the producapparently as pliant and flexible, and tion of the universe, that they would opeas completely under the power and rate in a way the very reverse ; namely, direction of that Intelligent Being as a complete preventive to any thing of who is supposed to have framed the the kind ever taking place. As the two universe, as if it had been a creature supposed principles are conceived to be solely of his own production, and not distinct and independent from eternity a being equal with himself-self-exist- past, so in like manner they must reent, independent, eternal.
main distinct and independent to eternity 2. Nor will it in the least mend the to come; and the present universe, or any thing like it, arising from a junction and move, and exist. Only, Revelaor collision of the two, seems, by every tion advances a step further than Naprinciple of right reasoning, to be a ture. It tells us how the worlds, conthing impossible.
sisting of Sun, Moon, Stars, and this This brings the subject within a Earth, with all that appertain to them, narrower compass. It demonstrates were framed or called into being by that there must of course be only One the word or command of God. Hence ETERNAL Existence in the whole uni- it is, that the things which now are verse; that the nature of the thing will seen, or visibly exist, were not made admit of no more; which eternal Ex- of things which did appear, or did istence is God, from whom all other cxist before they were made. Then, existences, whether matter or mind, then assuredly, as we have seen, noderive their being. For the accuracy thing existed but the ETERNAL; but of which conclusion, we appeal not when he spoke the word, all things merely to the declarations of His own appeared. Existences of creatures word, but to the unity which subsists then sprung up, because He willed it; in nature ; for from the unity of the and to the present day they are upoperations of nature, is properly in- held by the same power. ferred the unity of the Source whence “ This account of the origin of nature proceeded. Nor is there a things given by revelation,” as it is truth in physics more clearly demon observed by Dr. Macknight, “is very strable than this.*
different from the cosmogony of the Granting, therefore, the maxims of heathen philosophers, who generally the ancient sages,
“ That from no- held that the matter of which the thing, nothing can proceed ;-That if worlds are composed is uncreated and ever there had been a time when no- eternal: consequently being indething existed, nothing could ever have pendent of God, and not obedient to existed,” &c. to be true; the article his will, they supposed it to be the ocwe have just proved furnishes the most casion of all the evil that is in the satisfactory reason for the truth of world. But revelation, which teaches these maxims. It shews that there us that the things which are seen were never was a period throughout the not made of matter which did exist whole circle of eternity, in which the before they were made, but of matter Eternal Being Himself did not which God then brought into existexist ; and that He, therefore, was the ence, by thus establishing the sovenameless, the unknown, the self-exist- reignty of God over matter, bath enent Something, which their reasoning larged our ideas of his power, and powers made them feel after, but strengthened our faith in his promises which, alas! they did not find it be- concerning the felicity of good men in cause they changed the truth concern- the life to come. For the creation of ing God into a lie, and worshipped the new heavens and new earth, and and served the creature rather than the the glories of the city of the living Creator, who is blessed for ever, God, do not to their formation require Amen. I
more power, than the creation of the But, while men of perverse minds present universe; and therefore, if we thus thwart the truth of Scripture and believe that the worlds were formed by Nature, how confirming to the Chris- the word of God from nothing, every tian's faith is it, to behold both teach-other exercise of faith will be easy ing the same thing! We have seen to us."'s that Nature holds out to our view the Thus we perceive, that sound reason existence of but One eternal Being, and scripture on this head exactly who is the origin and cause of all agree: and by tracing them out, we other existences; and with this funda- have thus got over another difficulty mental truth in Nature, Revelation which lay in our way, of accounting • agrees so exactly, as if it had been for the formation of the globe. We
cast in the same mould. They both see from the nature of things, that it teach the doctrine of but One eternal must have had a beginning, a beginexistence; and hold Him forth as that ning not merely as it respects the Being in whom all other beings live, order and arrangement of its parts, * See Paley's Natural Theology, on the Unity # Rom. i. 25.
$ Macknight on the Epistles, Heb. xi. 3. + Acts xvii. 23, 27.
Note 4. See also last Essay.
but as it respects the very materials decide the great question,–Whether of which it is composed. What re- thc Lord, by whose Spirit the scripmains now for us to do, is to inquire tures were indited, be also the Former whether there be any principles in of the world, according to the true and Nature, or well authenticated history, unsophisticated account of His own that will determine the period when blessed Word? Or, whether it was the matter composing the universe formed by some process altogether was created ? and what was its first ge- different from that account, and by neral arrangement posterior to its consequence such as must sap the creation ?
foundation of our holy religion? If it be a truth, that Matter is not Like the prophet of old, after alself-existent or eternal, then it is evi- lowing our theorists to put all things dent that it must have been produced in order according to their own plan; by a superior power at some past pe- to prepare the wood upon the altar for riod; and it is equally evident that it the burnt-offering; they must be called must have been brought into existence upon to bring down fire from heaven in some particular condition, and ar- to consume it. In other words, after ranged in some specific order.
allowing them to account for the forOur grand object therefore must be, mation and present phenomena appato endeavour to ascertain these parti- rent in the structure of the earth, upon culars ; because, if they could be only what principles soever they please ; established, they would form the pro- still, unless they adopt the scripture per point whence to commence our account of its formation and subsegeological investigations, as nothing quent history, as the foundation of can be traced higher than its source. what they advance, it will be as im
It seems to be a strange and unac- possible for them to make out a true, countable liberty which some take with rational, satisfactory, and consistent this subject, wantonly to leap over the system, that will tally with and account first boundary of things; and to make for all the phenomena, as it was for a boast, as they do, of a glorious the priests of Baal to bring down bursting of time in its anterior limits." fire from heaven. But if we would philosophize in a right As, therefore, the great controversy manner, we must content ourselves between the Israelitish prophet and with more humble attempts, and begin the idolatrous priests, was not agitated only where Nature begins. We must about a matter of little moment, but humbly follow, and not run before was intended to decide this most imher. Neither must we confound in portant of all questions, Whether our conclusions, events and occur- Baal or Jehovah was God? even so rences which must have happened not here, our difference with these writers , according to the ordinary course of does not turn upon any trivial point, things, but according to the instanta- but is to determine whether the simple neous effects of Divine power, with scripture account of things relating such as do occur in an ordinary way. to the Creation and subsequent hisCould the line of distinction be here tory of the Earth, does not better ac
roperly drawn, (and I think there is cord with the present phenomena, every reason to conclude that it may than the theories of these writers; to a considerable degree,) the respec- which are so widely different from tive theories of Werner, Hutton, and what the scripture teaches, that if Cavier, would undergo such a com- they be right, the scriptures must be plete revolution, that I believe scarcely wrong. a vestige would remain of all the sub- Thus, it is Infidelity under a new lime things they have so shrewdly form, so to speak, that we are engaged conjectured!
And as the scriptures From all that we have hitherto ad- have stood the test, and have been vanced, it now comes to be evident, proved, in opposition to all the other that the grand point of difference be- objections of gainsayers, to be the tween us and the theoretical writers genuine production of the Spirit of on Geology, celebrated on many ac- the living God that cannot lie; so it counts as some of them may be, re- is to be hoped, that in this particular solves itself into a question similar to also, they will commend themselves that of old between the prophet Eli- to the understanding heart, and conjah and the priests of Baal.” It is to sciences of men, when only allowed to
TO THE EDITOR OF THE IMPERIAL
speak for themselves; and will, like | time a series of Causes, which account the meridian sun, eclipse and dissi- for the Effects; and that if we find cerpate all the glimmering meteors of tain effects apparent in the globe, the man's device, which appear indeed in scriptures present us with an account their absence, but which have no effect of causes which unquestionably proin either obscuring or adding to their duced many of them. lustre when present. Nay, by the This I hope to render evident in comparison, we are even led with the what remains of these Essays; in prophet to exclaim, What is the chaft which I shall first give a circumstanto the wheat!
tial and particular view, as it appears Before I close the present Essay, I to me, of the Mosaic account of the beg leave to lay before my discerning Creation ; which will necessarily emreaders, an observation or two from brace a variety of subjects, not hitherto Dr. Knight's Attempt towards a noticed by any former writer, which New Theory of the Earth ! “ From will fill the mind with the most exalted these considerations,” he says, “I views of the Creator: and then I shall have left to others the application of examine the subsequent history of the facts contained in this letter* to the globe, in order more particularly the sacred accounts. I only say, that to account for its geological phenothere may be drawn from the princi- mena. ples here unfolded, some considerations far more favourable to the Mosaic account, than any which are sup
Deaths by Lightning. plied by other theories. For no evidences of more than one arrangement of the world is exposed to our obser
Sir, vation; and since that arrangement In perusing some of the old books did not arise from causes now acting, belonging to the late Rev. J. Bredin, it must have had a beginning.
(who died Nov. 2, 1819,) I found the find no traces of the materials of our following curious account of two deaths present strata having originated from by Lightning: the piece is dated July the decay of a former world. Only 11th, 1778, and runs as follows: one formation of shells seems to have At a burying-place called Aghade, existed. Marks of a sudden forma in the county of Donegal, in Ireland, tion, and of sudden revolutions, are
there was lately dug up a piece of flat visible in all the strata. Such princi- stone, about three feet by two, the ples, when well established, will aid device on which was a figure of Death the scriptural account; but they would with a bow and arrow, shooting at a cease to do this, did they rest for their woman with a boy in her arms; and truth solely upon that book which underneath was an inscription in they are called in to illustrate.” Irish characters, of which the following
The illustrations of the Mosaic ac- is a just translation : count, which I purpose giving in the
“Here are deposited, with a design prosecution of this series of Essays, of mingling them with the parent were written before Dr. Knight's earth from which they came, the theory made its appearance.
Upon mortal remains of a mother, and son examination, I have no doubt that whom she loved to destruction. She many of his principles will be found clasped him to her bosom with all the to accord with that account, and so joy of a parent, the pulse of whose to demonstrate the harmony subsisting heart beat with maternal affection; between Scripture and Nature. It and in the very moment whilst the appears to me, however, that the gladness of joy danced in the pupil of latter part of the above quotation is the boy's eyes, and the mother's bosom unnecessary: for no one maintains swelled with transport, Death's arthat the scriptures give a laboured or row, in a flash of lightning, pierced particular account of the geology of them both in a vital part; and totally the globe. All that is contended for, dissolving the entrails of the son withis simply this,—That the scripture ac- out injuring his skin, and burning to count of things, furnishes at the same
a cinder the liver of the mother, sent
them out of this world at one and the * His publication is in the form of a letter,
same moment of time, in the year of addressed to a friend.