« ForrigeFortsæt »
4. A moral influence, equal in extent, though of an opposite nature, to that which evil spirits exert.
5. To assist in dying moments; to convey the spirit to the mansions of peace: they let in those gleams of heaven into the soul, [which are then so greatly needed, and so truly refreshing.]
6. To gather the saints [together] in the presence of Christ at the last day, and to vindicate their cause by a final victory over their enemies. "The harvest is the end of the world, and the angels are the reapers." "The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them that do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire."
I. How great the dignity of real christians.
II. How delightful the prospect of the heavenly world.
ON THE PERSONALITY OF SATAN.
1 PET. v. 8.-Your adversary the devil goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
Ir is highly probable, independently of revelation, that there are many orders of beings superior to [man.]* To suppose our own species to be
Mr. Hall preached three sermons at Leicester on the personality and agency of Satan, besides that which he introduced into his series of lectures on the Socinian Controversy. The substance of these he also condensed into a single sermon, and
the highest production of divine power, would indicate irrational and puerile presumption. When we consider the infinite variety of creatures presented to our notice in the descending scale betwixt us and nothing, it is agreeable to analogy to conceive the number is not less of those which are above us; the probability of which is enhanced by the discoveries now made of the extent of the universe, and of the existence of bodies, compared to which the globe which we inhabit is but a spot. While there are known to be material systems immensely superior in magnitude to that with which we are conversant, what should lead us to doubt that there are, in the intellectual world, beings possessing an equal mental superiority? It surely will not be pretended that there are any properties discernible in man, that mark him out as the most transcendant workmanship of Deity, the masterpiece of almighty power, or that there is any ground for supposing creative energy suspreached at Cambridge in October, 1823, and afterwards at Bristol. Indeed, he thought the subject of so much moment, and so strangely neglected, that he prepared his three sermons for publication; but, by some singular accident, the manuscript was lost, just as he had completed it. After an interval of three or four years, he recommenced the labour of writing these sermons, but never finished it. Some imperfect notes have been found since his death. They appear to belong to different discourses, and were evidently written at different times. Imperfect as they are, they open some interesting channels of investigation, and are therefore inserted in this collection.
For the general course of the author's reasoning, see his account of Lecture XI. in the summary of his lectures on the Socinian Controversy, page 20 of this volume.-ED.
pended its operations here, rather than at any other point in its progress. The distance between us and nothing is finite, yet the interval is occupied and filled up with innumerable orders of sensitive beings how improbable is it, then, that the distance between us and Deity, which is infinite, is an empty void!
Nor is it any just objection against the supposition in question, that these superior orders are not usually discernible by our senses. The information derived from our senses, aided and corrected by reflection, is a sufficient guide in the practical concerns of life; but it is a very uncertain criterion by which to determine the actual existence of things beyond a very narrow limit. Of those that are known to exist, some beings are so minute as to elude their notice, others so vast as to exceed their grasp. There are, probably, many material substances, whose subtlety exempts them entirely from that cognizance; there are others which can only be perceived by the help of in
Whether there is in the universe any being purely spiritual, and perfectly detached from matter, except the Great Supreme, is a question, perhaps, not easy to solve, nor is the solution of it at all essential to our present inquiry. God is a spirit, and we cannot conceive of any portion or modification of matter as entering into his essence, without being betrayed into contradiction and absurdity. In regard to every other class of
being, it is, by many, conjectured that the thinking principle is united to some corporeal vehicle, through which it derives its perceptions, and by which it operates; while perfect spirituality, utterly separate from matter in any possible state, is the exclusive attribute of Deity. When angels are spoken of as spirits, this mode of expression may possibly denote no more than that the material vehicle with which they are united is of a nature highly subtle and refined, at a great remove from the flesh and blood which compose the bodily frame. Who will presume to set limits to the creative power in the organization of matter, or affirm that it is not, in the hand of its Author, susceptible of a refinement which shall completely exclude it from the notice of our senses? He who compares the subtlety and velocity of light with grosser substances which are found in the material system, will be reluctant to assign any bounds to the possible modifications of matter, much more to affirm there can be none beyond the comprehension of our corporeal organs.
However probable the supposition of the existence of creatures of a nature more exalted than our own, nothing can be affirmed with certainty on the subject, beyond the dictates of revelation. In regard to a class of beings, which are confessedly not objects of any of our senses, the evidence of their existence (if they exist at all) must be derived from divine testimony. Abstract reasoning, however profound and accurate, presents
nothing to the mind but the relations of its own ideas; while, for our knowledge of what exists without us, we are entirely indebted to observation and experiment. But neither observation nor experiment can extend to those departments of the universe that lie out of the reach of our senses. The province of philosophy, whether physical or mental, is to make an accurate survey of the mind and of matter, and to discover the laws to which they are subjected. To ascertain the laws of the material creation, the judicious inquirer not only diligently notices the appearances that present themselves, but puts the subject of his investigation into artificial situations, whence new appearances result; this mode of inquiry is styled experimental. In mental philosophy, a different method must be adopted. Mind cannot, like matter, be divided, compounded, or decomposed, by subjecting it to. the action of external agents; and, consequently, there is here no room for experiment, properly so called. All that can be done, is carefully to observe the processes of thought and of emotion, and by attending to the operation of our mental faculties, to arrive at some general conclusions, the justice of which must, in every instance, be decided by individual consciousness.
This inconvenience, inseparable from all attempts to investigate the structure of the human mind, must, in my humble opinion, preclude the possibility of much original discovery, and will, probably, prevent metaphysics from ever obtaining