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sures and methods of our weak capacities ! To say the truth, I acknowledge that I am astonished and greatly at a loss, when I hear learned men, and professors of Theology, talking presumptuously about the order of the Divine decrees, and when I read such things in their works. “ Paul,” says St. Chrysostom, “ considering this awful subject as an immense sea, was astonished at it, and viewing the vast abyss, started back, and cried out with a loud voice, Oh! the depth !*" Nor is there much more sobriety or moderation in the many notions that are entertained, and the disputes that are commonly raised about reconciling these Divine decrees with the liberty and free-will of man.

It is indeed true, that neither religion nor right reason will suffer the actions and designs of men, and consequently, even the very motions of the will, to be exempted from the empire of the counsel and good pleasure of God. Even the books of the heathens are filled with most express testimonies of the most absolute sovereignty of God, even with regard to these. The sentiments of Homer are well knownt; and with him agrees the tragic poet, Euripides; “O! Jupiter,” says he, “ why are we wretched mortals called wise ? For we depend entirely upon thee, and we do whatever thou intendest we shouldt."

And it would be easy to bring together a vast collection of such sayings, but these are sufficient for our present purpose.

They always seemed to me to act a very ridiculous part, who contend, that the effect of the Divine decrees is absolutely irreconcilable with human liberty, because the natural and necessary liberty of a rational creature is, to act or choose from a rational motive, or spontaneously, and of purpose. But who sees not, that, on the supposition of the most absolute decree, this liberty is not taken away, but rather established and con

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* “ο Παυλος ώσσερ προς πίλαγος άπειρον ίλιγγιάσας και βαθύς έδων αχανές, απισήδησεν
ευθέως και μεγαλα ανεβόησεν, είπων, ώ βαθος, &c.
+ Toños yag voos istis,

1 "Ώ Ζεύ τί δήσα τους ταλαιπόρους,
Φρονείν λίγoυσι, σου γαρ εξηρτήμεθα,
Δρώμεν, τα τοιαύτ, αν συ τoγχανης θέλων. ΙΚΕΤ. 1. 734.

firmed ? ' For the decree is, that such an one shall make choice of, or do some particular thing, freely; and whoever pretends to deny, that whatever is done or chosen, whether good or indifferent, is so done or chosen, or, at least, may be so, espouses an absurdity. But, in a word, the great difficulty in all this dispute, is that with regard to the origin of evil. Some distinguish, and justly, the substance of the action, as you call it, or that which is physical in the action, from the morality of it. This is of some weight, but whether it takes away the whole difficulty, I will not pretend to say. Believe me, young gentlemen, it is an abyss, it is an abyss never to be perfectly sounded by any plummet of human understanding. Should

any one say, “I am not to be blamed, but Jove and Fate*," he will not get off so, but may be nonplussed by turning his own wit against him. The servant of Zeno, the Stoic philosopher, being catched in an act of theft, either with à design to ridicule his master's doctrine, or to avail himself of it in order to evade punishment, said, " It was my fate to be a thief." “And to be punished for it,” said Zenot. Where fore, if you will take my advice, withdraw your minds from a curious search into this mystery, and turn them directly to the study of piety, and a due reverence to the awful majesty of God. Think and speak of God and His secrets with fear and trembling, but dispute very little about them; and, if you would not undo yourselves, beware of disputing with Him. If you transgress in any thing, blame yourselves: if you good, or repent of evil, offer thanksgiving to God. This is what I earnestly recommend to you; in this I acquiesce myself; and to this, when much tossed and distressed with doubt and difficulties, I had recourse, as to a safe harbour. If any of you think proper, he may apply to men of greater learning; but let him take care he meet not with such as have more forwardness and presumption.

do any

* Ουκ εγώ αισιος ειμί, αλλα ζεύς και μοίρα.
+ In fatis mihi, inquit, fuit furari. Et cædi, inquit Zeno,


Of the CREATION of the World,

a very

WHOEVER looks upon this great system of the universe, of which he himself is but small


with a little more than ordinary attention, unless his mind is become quite brutish within him, it will, of necessity, put him upon considering whence this beautiful frame of things proceeded, and what was its first original ; or, in the words of the poet, “From what principles all the elements were formed, and how the various parts of the world at first came together*."

Now, as we have already observed in our dissertation concerning God, that the mind rises directly from the consideration of this visible world, to that of its invisible Creator; so, from the contemplation of the First and Infinite Mind, it descends to this visible fabric; and again, the contemplation of this latter determines it to return, with the greatest pleasure and satisfaction, to that Eternal Fountain of goodness and of every thing that exists. Nor is this a vicious and faulty circle, but the constant course of a pious soul, travelling, as it were, backwards and forwards from earth to heaven, and from heaven to earth: a notion quite similar to that of the angels ascending and descending upon the ladder which Jacob saw in his vision. But this contemplation by all means requires a pure and divine temper of mind, according to the maxims of the philosopher: “ He that would see God and goodness, must first be himself good, and like the Deity t." And those who have the eyes of their mind pure and bright, will sooner be able to read in those objects that are exposed to the outward eye, the great and evident characters of His eternal Power and Godhead.

We shall, therefore, now advance some thoughts upon the


Quibusque exordia primis
Omnia, et ipse tener mundi concreverit orbis.

Vir. Ecl. vi. * Γενέσθω δε πρώτον θεοειδής σας και καλος ει μέλλει θεασασθαι θεόντι και καλον.


Creation, which was the first and most stupendous of all the Divine works; and the rather, that some of the philosophers, who were, to be sure, positive in asserting the being of a God, did not acknowledge him to be the Author or Creator of the world. As for us, according to that of the Epistle to the Hebrews, ch. xi. v. 3, By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God. Of this we have a distinct history in the first book of Moses and of the sacred Scriptures, which we receive as divine. And this same doctrine, the prophets and apostles, and, together with them, all the sacred writers, frequently repeat in their sermons and writings, as the great foundation of faith, and of all true religion. For which reason, it ought to be diligently inculcated upon the minds of all, even those of the most ignorant, as far as they are able to conceive and believe it; though, to be sure, it contains in it so many mysteries, that they are sufficient not only to exercise the most acute and learned understandings, but even far to exceed their capacities, and quite overpower them : which the Jewish doctors seem to have been so sensible, or, if I may use the expression, so over sensible of, that they admitted not their disciples to look into the three first chapters of Genesis, till they arrived at the age required for entering on the priestly office.

Although the faith of this doctrine immediately depends upon the authority and testimony of the Supreme God of truth,—(for, as St. Ambrose expresses it, “ To whom should I give greater credit concerning God, than to God himself *?")—it is however so agreeable to reason, that if any one choose to enter into the dispute, he will find the strongest arguments presenting themselves in confirmation of the faith of it, but those on the opposite side, if any such there be that deserve the name, quite frivolous, and of no manner of force. Tatian declared, that no argument more effectually determined him to believe the Scriptures, and embrace the Christian faith, than the consistent, intelligible account they gave of the creation of the universe f.”

* Cui enim magis de Deo, quam Deo credam ? Ambros. * Το ευκαταλήπσον της του παντος σoινσεως. Tatian.

· Let any one that pleases, choose what other opinion he will adopt upon this subject, or, as it is a matter of doubt and obscurity, any of the other hypotheses he thinks most feasible. Is he for the atoms of Epicurus, dancing at random in an empty space, and, after innumerable trials, throwing themselves at last into the beautiful fabric which we behold, and that merely by a kind of lucky hit, or fortunate throw of the dice, without any Amphion with his harp, to charm them by his music, and lead them into the building? To say the truth, the Greek philosopher had dreamed these things very prettily, or, according to more probable accounts, borrowed them from two other blundering philosophers, Democritus and Leucippus, though he used all possible art to conceal it, that he might have to himself the whole glory of this noble invention. · But whoever first invented or published this hypothesis, how, pray, will he persuade us that things are actually so? By what convincing arguments will he prove them? Or what credible witnesses will he produce to attest his facts ? For it would neither be modest nor decent for him nor his followers, to expect implicit faith in a matter truly philosophical and physical, and at the same time of so great importance; especially as it is their common method, smartly to ridicule and superciliously to despise the rest of mankind, as being, according to their opinion, too credulous in matters of religion. But what we have now said is more than enough upon an hypothesis so silly, monstrous, and inconsistent.

After leaving the Epicureans, there is no other noted shift that I know of, remaining for one that rejects the doctrine of the Creation, but only that fiction of the Peripatetic school, concerning the eternity of the world. This Aristotle is said to have borrowed from a Pythagorean philosopher, named Ocellus Lucanus, who, in that instance, seems to have deserted not only the doctrine of his master, Pythagoras, but also that of all the more ancient philosophers. It is true, two or three others are named, Parmenio, Melissus, fc., who are suspected to have been of the same sentiments with Ocellus; but this is

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