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suppose that their Author anticipated their operation, and immediately created substances of such a texture or composition, as would have resulted from them in the natural order? Why may we not suppose, that he made rocks at first such as they would have been made by precipitation and crystallization? No geologist can deny that the thing was possible, unless he be an Atheist, and then we have nothing to do with him or his theory; and if it was possible, his argument from primitive formations against the comparatively modern date of the earth, vanishes into smoke. We say that, although certain substances might have been produced by secondary causes, God could and did produce them at once. That there was a first man, will be denied by none but an Atheist. Now, if we were in possession of one of his bones, we should find that in all respects it resembled the bones of his posterity; and reasoning according to our geologists, we should conclude that at first its fibres were soft, that they gradually became cartilage, and last of all acquired the hardness of their perfect state. But we should reason falsely, because that bone was made solid and firm in a moment. If we saw one of the first trees, we should perceive no difference between it and a tree of more recent date. On being cut across, it would exhibit the same folds or circles, indicating the growth of successive years, and increasing in hardness as they were nearer to the centre. The theory of the geologist would justify us in maintaining that it had originally sprung from a seed, and required many years to bring it to maturity; while the fact would be, that it was the work of an instant. In both cases, we have all the apparent effects of the processes of ossification and lignification, while it is certain that the processes never took place. We have therefore demonstration of the authority of a rule which has been laid down, and effectually destroys all the geological systems which represent second causes as immediately concerned in the formation of our earth. It is this, that sensible phenomena cannot alone determine the mode of formation. We have no occasion to convert each of Moses' days into thousands of years, and to conceive the chaos as an immense laboratory, from which, after the operations of ages, the earth came forth as we now see it. There was a power adequate to create it at once, which formed the primeval rocks without the aid of fire or water, as it made perfect bones, and perfect trees, independently of the second causes, by which they are at present produced.

God created the heavens and the earth about four thousand years before the Christian era. The materials were produced out of nothing in an instant; but it is related, that six days were employed in arranging them in their present form. Some are of opinion that these were not natural days, but periods of an indefinite length ; because they think that the world must have been created at an earlier date than Moses has assigned to it, and ages were necessary to give rise to those appearances which are observed in its structure. But, besides that this opinion is objectionable on the ground, that it puts a meaning upon the word day, although it is distinctly defined by the evening and the morning, which it bears no where else in simple narrative, it remains to be proved that there is any necessity for such interpretation. Although the Mosaic account gives no philosophical explanation of material phenomena, yet it informs us that the earth was at first in a state of fluidity, and that it was covered with water again more or less, for a year at the deluge, when it underwent a terrible convulsion, perhaps by the operation of internal fire, of the existence of which we have proofs in so many vo!canoes. The crust of the earth seems to have been then entirely shattered, when the fountains of the great deep were broken up. It is impossible for us to conceive the changes which must have been produced in its structure by this awful catastrophe, and the irresistible action of such an immense body of water as submerged the whole globe. If we cannot answer particularly all the objections of geologists, neither can they satisfactorily shew that the appearances, upon which they found their theories, were not caused by that event, and by the state in which the earth existed before it was brought into its present form. We may, therefore, understand the words of Moses literally, when he says, that in six days God created the heavens and the earth. As he could have perfected them at once, we cannot conceive any reason why he proceeded by degrees, but that he might exhibit his power and his wisdom more distinctly to us, who should be afterwards informed of the process; and that he might confirm, by his own example, the command to work on six days, and rest on the seventh.

There is a question which is more curious than useful, and which, like some other questions which have been proposed, does not admit of a satisfactory answer-respecting the season of the year when the world was created. On this point, men, as we might have expected, have been divided in opinion; but many have imagined that it was created in autumn, because then the civil year of the Jews commenced, as well as their Sabbatical year, and the year of Jubilee ; and chiefly because autumn is the season when the fruits are ripe, and consequently provision was ready for the use of man, and other animals. I do not think that there is any force in either of these reasons; and with regard to the latter, it is obvious, that it leaves the matter as unsettled as before, because autumn is a local term, which varies in its application to different countries, according to their geographical situation. Even upon our side of the Equator, harvest is beginning in some countries when the seed-time is scarcely over in others ; and hence, unless we know the place of paradise, 10 say that the world was created in autumn, gives no information at all with respect to the time when it was made.

Whether God ceased to create when he had made the heavens and the earth, is another question which we are not competent to answer.

We cannot, without presumption, affirm or deny that he has since exerted his creating energy in other portions of space. It is certain that, although he is said to have • rested” on the seventh day, he was not fatigued, nor were his resources exhausted: “The Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not, neither is weary." Nothing more is implied in that expression, than that he produced no new species of creatures, and effected no new 'arrangement in the visible universe, or at least, on our earth. In strict language, the act of creation was confined to the first day, when the matter, of which the heavens and the earth are composed, was produced. The work of the following days consisted in separating it into its component parts, assigning to each of them its place and office, and combining them into a harmonious whole. The subsequent production of vegetables and animals is not properly a creation, but a new arrangement of matter already existing; which, however, required the same Almighty power that at first brought matter out of nothing. It must be granted, at the same time, that God continues to exert his creating power in producing the living principle in animals, and, in particular, the soul of men ; which, being a spiritual substance distinct from the body, derives its existence immediately from the will of the Almighty.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their host. The magnificent fabric was erected to be a monument of the power, and wisdom, and goodness of its Maker. His glory shines in every part of it; but it would have shined in vain, if there had been no creature to contemplate it with an eye of intelligence, and celebrate the praises of the Divine Architect. Man, therefore, was introduced into the habitation which had been prepared for him,-a being of a higher order than those which were already made, endow. ed with an understanding to know his Creator, and with moral powers to be employed in his service. VOL. 1.-49

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If it is inquired, what was God's design in the creation of the universe ? we inust answer, that in this, as well as in all his other works, his ultimate end was his glory. God hath made all things for himself. Of him, and through him, and to him, are all things. In the things which he has made, his power, and wisdom, and goodness are displayed. When we say that he made all things for himself, as it is evident that we do not mean that they were necessary to him, or that he derives any benefit from them, so it is not to be understood that his purpose was to make a naked manifestation of his excellences, to be looked at, and admired by his creatures. We cannot, consistently with the greatness and dignity of his character, conceive this to be an object worthy of him, and sufficient to have induced him to exert his Almighty energy in the production of external things. We should thus separate his interests from those of his creatures, and convert the act of creation into an exhibition, and men into mere spectators of its magnificent scenery. The Maker of the universe is the Parent of its living inhabitants, and particularly of those who were endowed with intelligence; and in giving them existence, was influenced by the principle of benevolence. While other perfections are revealed in the fabric of creation, we must refer its origin to the goodness of the Deity, who, enjoying infinite happiness in himself, was willing to diffuse happiness around him. It may be objected that, if this was his design, it has been frustrated by the introduction of sin, with its consequence, misery. But, besides that still even in our world there is a copious, I had almost said, a profuse distribution of the riches of his liberality, the remedial scheme of redemption, which is intended to restore the happiness forfeited by sin, seems to confirm our idea of the diffusion of happiness being the design of creation; and it should farther be considered that, as the universe fills the unknown regions of space, and, we have reason to believe, is peopled with innumerable sentient beings, what has happened in our diminutive planet, and among the celestial spirits, may be a deduction from the general good not greater than that of a unit from millions. By what motive can we conceive Him, who is independent and self-sufficient, to have been influenced to scatter through the mighty void snns and worlds, teeming with life, but that he might contemplate the spectacle, which must be pleasing to his benevolent nature, of countless myriads rejoicing in his bounty, blessed by the emanations of his love, and rendering to him the willing tribute of gratitude and praise?

LECTURE XXXVIII.

ON ANGELS.

Existence of Angels-Date of their Creation—Their Nature—Divided into two classes

Characteristics of Good Angels—Their Offices in the affairs of Providence; and, in particular, their Ministry to the Saints-Are there Guardian Angels ?

In my last Lecture, in speaking of the heavens, I slightly adverted to the Angels as the inhabitants of that glorious region of the universe, in which God manifests himself in the full splendour of his perfections. The history of this higher order of creatures, is of too much importance to be dismissed with an occasional notice, and is peculiarly interesting to us, as our affairs are intimately connected with the agency of Angels, whether they have retained their integnity, or have apostatized from God, and become corrupt and malignant.

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I begin with the common observation, that the word Angel is a name, not of nature, but of office. It signifies literally a messenger, or a person sent. This is the primary meaning of agnos in Greek, and gasp in Hebrew, whether it is used in reference to human beings, or to invisible agents. It seems on one occasion at least, to denote persons invested with authority over others, and the Angels of the seven churches are probably their bishops or presidents.

That there are such beings as those whom we call Angels, in the common acceptation of the term, it might seem impossible for any person to deny who had read the Scriptures, and considered them as worthy of credit. Yet Luke informs us, that the Sadducees said that there was no resurrection, neither Angel nor Spirit.* It has caused no small surprise, that while they acknowledged the inspiration of the sacred books of the Jews, they should have ventured to controvert a fact so explicitly asserted in them ; and curiosity has been excited to discover by what reasoning, or what pretexts, they justified their unbelief. It has been supposed that they explained all the passages in which Angels are mentioned, in a figurative sense; or that they understood them to be temporary appearances, caused by the power of God, which vanished as soon as the purpose intended by them was accomplished. It is probable that Justin Martyr refers to the Sadducees, when he says, in his dialogue with Trypho the Jew, that some said that God, when he pleases, makes his power come forth, and again draws it back to himself, and that in this manner he made Angels. According to this opinion, they were not real and permanent substances, but spectres which, after a short time, dissolved into air, or disappeared like the colours of the rainbow. There have been moderns who coincided with the Sadducees in denying the existence of Angels, and affirmed that good Angels signify good thoughts, and bad Angels sinful thoughts. The opinion of at least some Unitarians respecting the former is, that they are manifestations of Divine power; the idea of such beings as devils is generally, if not universally, exploded by them; and in the usual manner, the language of Scripture is wrested to favour this hypothesis. It is not, surely, necessary that we should enter upon a formal refutation of the doctrine of either the ancient or the modern Sadducees. There would be no end of disputation, if every thing which might be said without the slightest appearance of reason, were deemed worthy of a serious answer. We feel no disposition to contend with a fool, who denies that the sun is shining at mid-day. If we can believe our own eyes when we peruse the sacred pages, and trust that we understand the meaning of words, we can entertain no more doubt of the existence of Angels than of that of man; and if some choose to spend their time in elaborate attempts to prove, that what is, is not, we may leave them to amuse themselves as they please.

To the question, When were Angels created ? we can return only a general answer. Moses has not made mention of them, unless, with some, we suppose them to be included in the hosts of heaven ; but these seem rather to signify the celestial luminaries, the sun, moon, and stars. Different reasons have been assigned for this omission, of which I know not whether any is satisfactory, as, indeed, is not to be expected, when men attempt to point out the motives of a writer who lived more than three thousand years ago, and particularly of a writer who was guided in the composition of his works by the Spirit of inspiration. We have no reason, however, to think that the creation of Angels preceded the time to which Moses refers in the first chapter of Genesis. A prior date was assigned by many of the ancients, and some moderns have concurred with them ; but it is a mere conjecture, and seems to be at variance with the general language of Scripture, which represents the creation of the visible universe as preceded by eternity, when the Almighty existed

• Acts xxiii. 8.

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alone. To affirm that Angels were created before the earth, and the heavens stretched over it, destroys the argument for the eternity of our Saviour, which the Apostle draws from these words of the Psalmist as addressed to him, “ Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thine hands ;"'* and that priority to the visible creation is equivalent to eternity, is evident from the ninetieth Psalm, which is intitled, A Prayer of Moses, the man of God :-“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” † The sacred historian does certainly teach, that the heavens were created at the same time with the earth ; and although he takes no notice of the inhabitants of the heaven of heavens, there is ground to believe that that was the date of their existence. On what day they were created, is a question of mere curiosity. The following words have been understood to signify that they were created on the first day. “ Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth ? declare, if thou hast understanding :—when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy."# It appears that they were present when this mighty fabric was reared, and celebrated the praises of the Divine Architect; and farther it is to no purpose to inquire.

Angels are spiritual beings. As such they are represented in a passage of the Psalms, which is quoted in the Epistle to the Hebrews, “Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.'S A modern critic has translated it thus: “Who maketh the winds his messengers, and flaming fire his ministers,” in contradiction to the known usage of the Greek language, which, by prefixing the article to the noun jacus, clearly marks them out as the subject of discourse, and theyatd as the property or quality affirmed of them. Angels are spirits; and no better definition, although it is of the negative kind, can be given of a spirit than that of our Saviour, who said to his terrified disciples, “ Handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have.”l. It is vain for us to inquire into the essence of a spirit. It eludes our search; but not more than does the essence of body, of which we know only the properties. Nothing is more foolish, and I may say unintelligible, than the definition of some philosophers, that the essence of spirit consists in thought. They might with equal propriety say, that the essence of matter is colour, taste, or extension. But as every person, whom false philosophy has not deprived of common sense, perceives that colour supposes something coloured, and extension something extended, so, it is equally evident that thought implies a thinking substance. A materialist, who supposes thought to be the effect of the organization and motions of matter, may allege that he is unable to conceive the existence of a pure spirit; but, for the same reason, he must believe the Divine essence to be material; and it is but a step from thence to atheism, or the belief that the Deity is merely the unknown cause of attraction and gravitation, and the other laws and affections of body. Tous who are convinced, by reason and revelation, that there is an immaterial principle in man, there is no difficulty in admitting an order of incorporeal beings, who inhabit the higher regions of the universe. It is no objection to the spirituality of their essence, that they are, and must be understood to be, in a particular place. Locality is the necessary attribute of a creature: it has an ubi, as the Schoolmen speak; if it is here, it is not there. We, indeed, are accustomed to think of place only in relation to body, because we are corporeal beings, and perceive objects and relations by means of our senses. But reason tells us that spirits also must have a place, although it can give us no assistance in conceiving how they are in it. At the same time, there is a fact familiar to us which confirms this dictate of • Heb. i. 10, and Ps. cii, 25.

Ps. xc. 2.
Luke critiv. 29.

# Job Xxxviii. 4,7.
$ Heb. i. 7, and Ps. civ. 4.

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