« ForrigeFortsæt »
first hint to this useful invention; and this art was not, for many ages, so much improved, as it is in our day. The mariner's needle, and the variation of the compass, or the method of sailing by observation of the heavenly bodies, seem to have been altogether unknown by those mariners, in whose ship the apostle Paul sailed, Acts xxvii. for want of which, they exposed themselves to suffer shipwreck, hoping, thereby, to save their lives.
And, as to what concerns those inventions, that are necessary for the improvement of knowledge ; it does not appear that writing was known till Moses' time; and, after this, the use of letters was brought into Greece by Cadmus. And therefore it is no wonder, when historians give some dark hints of things done before this, being unacquainted with scriptüre-history, that they are at a loss, and pretend not to give an account of things done before the deluge *. Shall we suppose, that there were so many ages, as some pretend in which men lived, and yet no account given of things done therein, transniitted to posterity, by those who assert it? Therefore there can be no ground to conclude; that the world has stood longer than the scripture account thereof t. . We pass by the invention of the art of printing, which has not been known in the world above three hundred years; and the many improvements that have been made in philosophy, mathematicks, medicine, anatomy, chymistry, and mechanicks, in the last age ; and can we suppose that there are so many thousand ages passed without any of these improvements ? And to this we may add the origin
The common distribution of time, into that which is ad nxov, before the flood, and petter, after it, till they comprited by the Olympiads; and afterwards that which they call isepause the only account to be depended upon, makes this matter farther evident.
† See this argument farther improved, by those who have insisted on the first in. ventors of things; as Polydor. Virgil. de Rerum inventoribus; and Plin. Secund. Hist. Mundi. Lib. VII. cap. 56.-60. and Clem. Alex. Strom. Lib. I. Lucretius, though an asserter of the eternity of matter and motion, from his master Epicurus, yet proves, that the world, as to its present
form, had a beginning; and what he says is so much to our present argument, that I cannot but mention it. Vid. Lucret de Rer. Nat. Lib. V.
Prætera si nulla fuit genitalis origo
of idolatry, in them who worshipped men, whom they called gods, namely, such as had been useful while they lived among those that worshipped them, or had been of great note, or power, in the world, or who were the first inventors of things : this being known, and the time in which they lived, mentioned, by some writers among the heathen, which is much later than the first age of the world, is a farther evidence of this truth, that it has not stood so many years as some pretend.
If it be objected, that there has been a kind of circulation, or revolution of things with respect to men's knowing, and afterwards losing and then regaining the knowledge of some of those arts, which we suppose to have been first discovered in in later ages, so that they might have been known in the world many ages before :
This is to assert, without pretending to give any proof thereof; and nothing can be inferred from a mere possibility of things, which no one, who has the least degree of judgment, will ever acquiesce in ; especially the memory of some things could never have been universally erased out of the minds of men, by any devastations that might be supposed to have been made in the world. Therefore, to conclude this argument, nothing can be reasonably objected against the account we have in scripture, of the creation of the world at first, and of its having continued that number of years, and no longer, which we believe it to have done, from those sacred writings, which contain the only authentic records thereof, and have sufficient authority to put to silence all those fabulous conjectures, or rain and groundless boasts, that pretend to contradict it.
III. God is said to have created all things by the word of his power; thus the Psalmist says, By the word of the Lord were the heavens made ; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth, Psal. xxxiii. 6. Some, indeed, understand this, and several other scriptures, in which God is said to create ali things by his word, as implying, that God the Father made all things by the Son, his personal Word: but, though this be a great truth, and it be expressly said, All things were made by him, John i. 3. as has been considered under a foregoing answer *, whereby the divinity of Christ was proved ; yet here we speak of creation, as an effect of that power, which is a perfection of the divine nature. And whereas it is called the word of his power, it signifies, that God produced all things by an act of his power and sovereign will; so that how difficult soever the work was in itself, as infinitely superior to finite power, yet it argues, that it was performed by God without any manner of difficulty, and therefore it was as easy to him as a thought, or an act of willing is to any creature ; accordingly it is said,
• See Vol. I. Pages 220, 221.
He spake and it was done ; he commanded, and it stood fast, Psal. xxxiii. 9. As nothing could resist his will, or hinder his purpose from taking effect, so all things were equally possible to him. In this respect, creation differs from the natural production of things, which, though they be the effects of power, yet nothing is produced by a powerful word, or, as it were, commanded into being, but that which is the effect of almighty power, as the creation of all things is said to be.
IV. The end for which God inade all things, was his own glory; or, as it is said, He made all things for himself, Prov. xvi. 4. that is, that he might demonstrate his eternal power and Godhead, and all those divine perfections, which shine forth in this illustrious work, and so might receive a revenue of glory, as the result thereof. Not that he was under
any natural necessity to do this, or would have been less happy and glorious in himself, than he was from all eternity, if he had not given being to any thing. We are far from supposing, that there is any addition made hereby to his essential glory; this appears from the independence of his divine perfections: As they are not derived from the creature, so they cannot receive any additional improvement from him, no more than the lustre of the sun is increased by its being beheld by our eyes; nor does it sustain any real diminution thereof, when its brightness is obscured by the interposure of any thing that hides it from us. God did not make the world that his power or wisdom might be improved hereby; but that he might be admired and adored, or that his relative glory might be advanced by us, which would be the highest advantage to us. This was the great end for which he made all things; and it is very agreeable to the scope and design of scripture in general, which puts us upon giving him the glory due to his name, as being indus ced hereunto by all the displays thereof in his works.
Therefore it is a very unbecoming way of speaking, and tends very much to detract from the divine perfections, to say as a judicious writer * represents some objecting, “ As though “ God were not so selfish, and desirous of glory, as to make " the world, and all creatures therein, only for his own honour, " and to be praised by men.” And another writer $ speaks his own sense of this matter, in words no less shocking. He says, indeed, “ That God cannot really suffer any diminution of his « own by our dislike, or is advanced in honour by our appro: 4 bation of his dispensations ;" which, as it respects his essen, tial glory, is an undoubted truth; but yet he speaks, in other respects, of the glory of God, by which, it is plain, he means that which is generally called his relative, or manifestative glo
• See Ray's Wisdom of God in the Creation, page 182, | Whitby on Election, page 92, 93.
ry, in a very unbecoming manner, when he says; “ That God, “ being infinitely perfect, must be infinitely happy within him
self, and so can design no self-end without himself; there“ fore what other end can he be supposed to aim at in these
things, but our good? It is therefore a vain imagination, that “ the great design of any of God's actions, his glorious works “ and dispensations, should be thus to be admired, or applaud. “ed, by his worthless creatures, that he may gain esteem, or
a good word, from such vile creatures as we are. We take “ too much upon us, if we imagine that the all-wise God can “ be concerned, whether such blind creatures, as we are, ap
prove or disapprove of his proceedings; and we think too “ meanly of, and detract from his great Majesty, if we con“ceive he can be delighted with our applause, or aim at re
putation from us in his glorious design, that therefore such
as we should think well of him, or have due apprehensions ” of those attributes, by the acknowledgment of which we are “ said to glorify him." This is, at once, to divest him of all that glory, which he designed from his works; but far be it from us to approve of any such modes of speaking. Therefore ve must conclude, that though God did not make any thing with a design to render himself more glorious than he was, from all eternity, yet it was, that his creatures should behold and improve the displays of his divine perfections, and so render himself the object of desire and delight, that religious worship might be excited hereby, and that we might ascribe to him the glory that is due to his name.
We might also observe, that God created all things by his power, that he might take occasion to set forth the glory of all his other perfections, in his works of providence and
grace, and particularly in the work of our redemption, all which suppose the creature brought into being; and so his first work made way for all others, which are, or shall be performed by him in time, or throughout the ages of eternity.
V. We are now to consider the space of time, in which God ereated all things, namely, in six days. This could not have been determined by the light of nature, and therefore must be concluded to be a doctrine of pure revelation; as also the account we have, in Gen. i. of the order in which things were brought to perfection, or the work of each day. Here we cannot but take notice of the opinion of some, who suppose, that the world was created in an instant, as thinking, that this is more agreeable to the idea of creation, and more plainly distinguishes it from the natural production of things, which are brought to perfection by degrees, and not in a moment, as they zuppose this work was. This opinion has been advanced by gome ancient writers; and whereas it seems directly to con,
tradict that account which is given thereof by Moses, they suppose that the distribution of the work of creation, into that of six days, is only designed to lead us into the knowledge of the distinct parts thereof, whereby they may be better conceived of, as though they had been made in such an order, one after another; but this is to make the scripture speak what men please to have it, without any regard had to the genuine sense and import of the words thereof. Had it only been asserted, that the first matter, out of which all things were formed, had been created in an instant; that is not only agreeable to the work of creation, but to the literal sense of the text; for it is said to be created in the beginning, that is, in the first point of time; or if it had only been said, that God could have brought all things to perfection in an instant, we would not have denied it, but to assert that he did so, we cannot but think an ill-grounded sense of a plain part of scripture. That which induces them to give into this opinion is, because they think that this redounds to the glory of God, and seems most agreeable to a supernatural production of things, and to those expressions, by which the work of creation is represented; as in the scripture before-mentioned in which it is said, God spake, and it was done ; that which was produced by a word's speaking, is performed in an instant. And they suppose, that this is agreeable to the account which we have of that change which shall pass on the bodies of those who shall be found alive at the last day, that it shall be in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, 1 Cor. xv. 52. and to some other miracles and supernatural productions, which have been instantaneous. But all this is not sufficient to support an opinion, which cannot be defended any otherwise, than by supposing that the express words of scripture must be understood in an allegorical sense.
There is therefore another account given of this matter, by some divines, of very considerable worth and judgment,* which, as they apprehend, contains a concession of as much as need be demanded in fayour of the instantaneous production of things, as most agreeable to the idea of creation, and yet does not militate against the sense of the account given thereof, in Gen, i. and that is, that the distinct parts of the creation were each of them produced in a moment. As for instance, in the work of the first day, there was the first matter of all things produced in one moment; and, after that, in the same day, light was produced, in another moment, agreeable to those words, Let there be light, and there was light; and, in another moment, there was a division of the light from the darkness, and so the work of the first day was finished. And, in the other days, where the works were various, there were distinct
• See Turret Elenct. Tom. I. Loc, 5. Quest. 5.