Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

word which designs the highest point we can aim at, in ocular or mental vision. We cannot measure the distance, even of what is in this passage called heaven; we know not its limits, and this being the term nearest in significance to the object we would understand, we do thus apply it. We mean, when we speak of heaven as God's seat, something which “

eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to understand.” We do in a like manner, and with a like intention, often apply terms which in no degree contain a full description of the object they would present, but which are the nearest, and the most significant, and the best with which our language in its essential imperfectness, when it would shadow out objects which are beyond its faculty of expression, will supply us, and this is in no particular more remarkable than in the terms we make use of in our mention of the Deity, his attributes, or his majesty. We call him Father, and we call him Lord; yet these appellations do but weakly convey the extensive sense in which he is Father and Lord. Imperfectness, let it be repeated, cannot adequately express or figure that which is perfect. The terms are employed in human sense amongst ourselves; we have earthly fathers, and earthly lords : nevertheless, in how infinitely more comprehensive a sense is God our Father and our Lord! He is the First Cause of all : every thing and every being sprang from his command and his breath : “Without him," without his “word, was not any thing made that was made.” In how distant a degree, doth an earthly father stand, in comparison of him! Who can measure it? We have, however, no better term by which we would speak of him in the capacity which we design in it. It conveys to us all regarding it that we are able to receive. With similar view and feeling, we call him Lord : still does that word altogether express his omnipotence? Do we by it intend to put him on any line of comparison with earthly lords? We can have no such intention. We cannot, as we confess, fitly designate him, and we use the word, as suited to our own capabilities, and not as descriptive of him. What word, again, will impart a just idea of his wisdom and goodness? They are boundless, and not to be expressed as in real definition. Our terms, in reference to those attributes, are the highest and the most significant in meaning of any whereof we are masters; and they are the same which we apply when speaking of those qualities as existing in his inferior creatures; but how unspeakable is the disproportion! We call God, wise and good; and the words are in his case infinitely short of their object. We call man, wise and good; and the words picture him in higher character than is his due.

due. It is, as in these several instances, with respect to the word “heaven : ” the difference in every point, between the highest heaven, which is the seat of God's Majesty, and the firmament, which divides the waters from the waters, is much in the same proportion. Whatever relates to God, cannot be adequately described by us. Our means reach it not. We are earthly and temporal ; he is uncreated and eternal. We are dependent and imperfect; he is omnipotent, and in him is no imperfectness, all being essentially good. We may not scan his ways, nor remove the veil of his Majesty.

To return to the immediate subject, from which, in truth, this can hardly be called a digression-How great wisdom is visible in this order and appointment! how admirable is the plan, as well as the work! how bounteous is the goodness, which both conceived and arranged ! “O Lord, my God,” it is the grateful and adoring exclamation of David, “thou art very great ; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Thou coverest thyself with light, as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain : who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot." " What his divine will ordered, his power effected; by that light which sailed about the chaos, and that which was excited within it; whereby such exhalations were raised, as made the firmament: that is, the thicker parts of them made the region of the air, which is the lower firmament; and the thinner parts of them made the æther or higher firmament, wherein the sun and the planets are seated ?.” Most truly benevolent was this exercise of God's power. He ordained, that no part of His creation should be without its use; the very exhalations of the earth, he applied to a wise and serviceable purpose ; and, by giving them a station and an office, he at the same time preserved his work

[blocks in formation]

from what might otherwise have been cumbersome and perilous. “The atmosphere, under the name of the old firmament, divides these mighty masses of water ”—the waters above and the waters beneath “from each other, pursuant to the divine command. From the seas, rivers, lakes, rivulets, and moist earth, it is ever ascending, by evaporation, into the atmosphere, to change again, and to fall down in dews, fogs, and rain. No agents are more active and efficient in transforming water into its vaporous state, than light and heat, and these also are essential parts of the common air, of which our atmosphere is constituted. The atmosphere could not have been made before light had been connected with our globe; and the justness of the position of the formation of the atmosphere after the production of the light, and of the rise of the clouds after both these had appeared, is another instance of the rationality and truth of the Mosaic Cosmogony'.” The like provision, or careful forethought and contrivance, is manifest throughout all the works of what we commonly term nature, but which is only an appointed order of the Creator, having no power which is not delegated to it by him; whose regularity itself is his command: there is nothing, as we shall hereafter have occasion more particularly to notice, which has not a wise, an useful, and an entirely benevolent intention.

According to our version of the Bible, the crea

1 Turner.

tion of the firmament, and the division of the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament, compose the work of one day; the evening and the morning of it being stated to be the second day. An objection has been raised to this order of the historical document; the objector urging, that the work of the second day really comprehended a portion of that which is attributed to the third. This objection is made to rest on two grounds; the first of which is, that the usual closing remark or sentence, that the purpose which had been accomplished, or the matter or being which had been created, was “good,” is wanting in this place, and is to be found in the imputed proceeding of the next day, as well as immediately after that portion of the work which would seem more properly to belong to this day's employment, as at the conclusion of the undisputed employment of the third day. It is true, that this sentence is wanting in the former case, and that it does occur, as alleged, in the latter; and, we contend, that, for the twofold mention in the one, and the omission in the other, there is justifying cause. God made the firmament, and divided the waters; but that operation did not complete the work; and, until it was completed, how should it be pronounced to be so ? The firmament was in itself completed, but the waters were not gathered together; there was still a visible confusion as regarded them both, and, till they should be properly disposed, it would be inconsistent with the Divine Wisdom and truth to pronounce

« ZurückWeiter »