Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

and was now settled immoveably in it. The earth was prepared for the appointments for which it was in its natural substance capacitated,—the waters were equally so. God saw that they were in this satisfactory condition; he pronounced that they were : each appeared as an instrument, perfect to its intention, and accordant with the plan of its Framer. He thence immediately set himself, so, respectively, to apply them.

The earth was the main object; the waters were but subordinate to it; and to the earth, consequently, was the first application. The Being in prospect, for the use and enjoyment of whom all had been contrived and called forth, was destined to be an inhabitant of earth,—to be, indeed, bodily formed out of it: it is not without reason, then, that we find the Creator carrying his attention in the first instance unto it. It was the business of this attention to endow the earth with the power or office of production. “ And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself upon the earth.” This was the command: this was what the word of God directed; and obedience was rendered, as in each former case, to the terms of it: “ And it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed was in itself, after his kind." In the beginning, as the earth itself was produced out of nothing, so the grass, the herb, and the tree, were created out of it by the sole word of God: till that word was uttered, or had gone forth, the earth had no faculty ; it was dead; no sooner was it uttered, than it became essentially possessed of life, and, with life, of the property of productiveness; and, the produce itself, when thus created, was endued with the power of perpetual propagation. In the first instance, they arose, or sprang, to the perfection of their nature, without passing through those previous, and, from that time unto the end of the world, necessarily gradual processes,-necessary, as well to their continued existence, as to their growth and maturity--the grass, , the herb, and the tree; under which three heads may be comprehended whatever there is of vegetable life. These were produced at once, complete in their kind, containing in themselves the principles of their perpetuity-their seeds. The earth was suddenly clothed with them : it had not merely the faculty of producing them, but it did, on that instant, produce them. If it had not immediately produced them, and in their perfect state, the sentence of approbation could not have passed; because, unless they had stood forth to the Divine Presence in the perfection of their nature, in the fullest capacity and height to which they were capable of attaining, God could not have seen that they were “good," or perfect; they would, on the contrary, have been imperfect, as not being complete; and he might as truly have pronounced all to be good, prospectively, on the first day of creation, as that to be good, the seed or source only of which had yet been called into being; we are, therefore, obliged, as we assent to the verity of the Scripture account, to believe that all these stood before him in entire growth and maturity. They were produced, the grass, the herb, and the tree, containing, each one, according to and in its kind, the principle of perpetuity, the seed; not the principle first, and the fruit of it to be shown and proved afterwards; not in such manner, I repeat, but the matured substance; demonstrating, that, as the Almighty Creator could produce the substance before the seed, so likewise, although the substance was made to contain the seed, the productive faculty of the seed must, notwithstanding, be still dependent on his will and permission. It is remarkable, that this creation and maturity were accomplished before the application of the principle of heat which is contained in the influence of the sun, without which nothing has since been brought to the fulness of its natural qualities. How confounding is this fact to the philosopher of the world, who would contend for the exclusive omnipotence, or essential and absolute independence of nature--as though nature were its own deity'! All these things

1 Since neither all things are produced fortuitously, or by the unguided mechanism of matter, nor God himself may reasonably be thought to do all things immediately and miraculously, it may well be concluded, that there is a plastic nature under Him, which, as an inferior and subordinate instrument, doth drudgingly execute that part of His Providence, which consists in the regular and orderly motion of matter; yet so as that there is also, besides this, a single Providence to be acknowledged, which, presiding over it, doth often supply the deficiency of it,

were created, and appeared in dutiful homage before their Creator, in their highest glory and truest perfectness, ere the sun had been appointed to its office, or the seasons had received directions for their course. How forcibly does this speak to us of the subordinate capacity and agency of the most magnificent bodies and appearances, whether in heaven or in earth! of every operation of nature ! of the course even of time itself! That which now requires the united care of man and nature; which will fail of its effect, if any

of the means which God has ordained shall be neglected; all owes its origin to what was created before any thing but the earth, the producing body, was existent, to operate upon or to influence it, as preparatory to its being brought forth! Let those, who would assert the necessary faculties of nature, think hereupon, and adore the God, who could produce by a word, while as yet there was neither the heat of the sun to vivify, nor the alternation of the seasons to strengthen, nor the course of time to mature-while there was none of this now established and necessary order,—every thing in its best power and growth'! After the doing of this, after

and sometimes overrule it; forasmuch as this plastic matter cannot act electively, nor with discretion. And by this means the wisdom of God will not be shut up nor concluded wholly within his own breast, but will display itself abroad, and print its stamps and signatures every where throughout the world; so that God, as Plato (after Orpheus) speaks, will be not only the beginning and end, but also the middle of all things; they being as much to be ascribed to his causality, as if himself had done them all immediately without the concurrent instrumentality of any subordinate natural cause. Notwithstanding which, in this way it will

appear also to human reason, that all things are ordered and disposed by the Deity without any solicitous care, or distractious Providence. Cudworth.

Moses, in describing the work of creation, attributeth speech unto God: God said, let there be light : let there be a firmament : let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place : let the earth bring forth: let there be light in the firmament of heaven. Was this only the intent of Moses, to signify the infinite greatness of God's power, by the easiness of his accomplishing such effects, without travel, pain, or labour ? Surely, it seemeth that Moses had herein, besides this, a further purpose, namely, first, to teach that God did not work as a necessary, but a voluntary agent, intending beforehand, and decreeing with himself, that which did outwardly proceed from him. Secondly, to show that God did then institute a law natural to be observed by creatures; and therefore, according to the manner of laws, the institution thereof is described, as being established by solemn injunction. His commanding those things to be which are, and to be in such sort as they are, to keep that tenure and course which they do, importeth the establishment of nature's law. The world's first creation, and the preservation since of things created, what is it, but only so far forth a manifestation by execution, what the eternal law of God is concerning things natural ? And as it cometh to pass in a kingdom rightly ordered, that after a law is once published, it presently takes effect far and wide, all states framing themselves thereunto ; even so let us think it fareth in the natural course of the world : since the time that God did first proclaim the edicts of his law upon it, heaven and earth have hearkened unto his voice, and their labour hath been to do his will : he made a law for the rain ; he gave his decree unto the sea, that the waters should not pass his commandment. Now, if nature should intermit her course, and leave altogether, though it were but for a while, the observation of her own laws; if those principal and mother elements of the world

« ZurückWeiter »