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intelligence; but if it be intelligent in every atom, then are we perpetually meeting with unintelligent compounds resulting from intelligent elements. If, again, matter be essentially eternal, but at the same time essentially unintelligent, both separately and collectively, then, an intelligent principle being traced in the world, and even in man himself, we are put into possession of two coeternal independent principles, destitute'of all relative connection and common medium of action." It will be observed that the theory which this reasoning is designed to explode, proposes to remove the necessity of any Divine agency in the work of creation. This, however, only shows the tendency of the human mind to extremes, when its exalted intuitions are not unfolded. Rejecting all conception of a Being which the senses can not comprehend, it blindly ascribes to gross and senseless matter, the very qualities which can alone exist in a supreme Intelligence.
But if the material theory of creation represents an extreme, it is not more so than the prevalent theological hypothesis on this subject. The proposition contained in this hypothesis is, that all the various forms of the visible Universe have been created by the Divine Being from absolute nothing. When it is said in the Primitive Record, that "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," it is supposed that, previous to their introduction into being, the illimitable expanse was simply an empty and unbroken void, which contained not even the least particle of any substance whatever; and that from this vast but exceedingly unsubstantial source, the Divine Will, in its great omnipotence, brought forth the innumerable forms that fill immensity. In accordance with this theory, Dr. John Mason Good, who may be recognized as one of its prominent advocates, offers the following remarks :*—" So far from intimating any absurdity in the idea that matter may be created out of nothing by the interposition of an almighty intelligence, reason seems, on the contrary, rather to point out to us the possibility of an equal creation out of nothing of ten thousand other substances, of which each may be the medium of
life and happiness to infinite orders of beings Matter,
then, we are compelled to regard as a substance created out of nothing by an intelligent first cause; himself immaterial, selfexistent, eternal, and alone." Now the mind that is true to the order and wisdom of nature, will perceive that the proposition here advanced, that something can spring from nothing, involves a self-contradiction and impossibility. But exclaims our author, "This is only to argue in a circle ; for why is it a self-contradiction, or an impossibility V The answer is, that the proposition is contrary to the first principles of reason— that it overthrows the very basis qn which reason begins to act, and hence that it is known to be absurd in the same manner as the affirmation that two and two make six would be known to be so. If the science of numbers be correctly established, then nought multiplied by itself, or by any given number, will produce nought; and this process might be continued to infinity with the same result. We may safely presume, , then, that a whole infinitude of nothing would be insufficient for the production of a single form of matter.
It may be said indeed that Deity is omnipotent, and hence can produce such results as He desires, without reference to any impossibilities conceived by earthly minds. But even the omnipotence of Deity can not act in contrariety to absolute
* Good's Book of Nature, page 32.
necessities, or in violation of the established principles of being; and therefore that omnipotence might be exercised on nothing through eternity, and, because it acts alone, it would remain alone,—because it is associated with no object, it would produce no effect. Besides, in the theory under consideration, the mind is required to grasp that which lies entirely beyond its reach. It is impossible, as before explained, to conceive of nothing. The attempt to do this is at once productive of mental confusion. There must first be established some basis on which the mind may rest, or it can not think. The soul, being a substance in itself, must have something on which to act, otherwise its powers can not be exercised. Hence the idea of absolute nothing constituting the empty void of space, can never be comprehended by the human mind, inasmuch as every conception which it is able to form, implies by necessity an entity to be conceived. It is useless and unreasonable, therefore, to affirm that the Universe was derived from nothing, when the mind has really no power to conceive of such an origin.
But it is still further evident that no substance can originate from nothing, because there are contained in this no elements, essences, or forces from which matter may be derived. All substances, whether visible or invisible, must be formed of necessity from some preexistent germ, in which their constituent elements are embosomed in an undeveloped state. This lesson is clearly unfolded in the process by which all forms are produced on the earth. The plant, the flower, and the tree are developed from the elements and forces existing in the seed from which they originate. Without some original germ from which to spring, these forms could never have been created. And so the very law by which the process of growth and production is governed, shows conclusively that every form of matter must be derived from some primitive substance. But there is no germ of being in absolute nonentity from which any thing could be created; and hence where there are no elements, essences, or forces to constitute a source of production, it is evident there can be nothing produced. In view of the absurdity manifested in the prevalent theory on this subject, we might well exclaim with an ancient writer: "O ye whose hearts are pure! how amid something arise out of nothing?"
The theories which have been taken into consideration in this review, represent the extremes into which all minds are liable to fall, which are unenlightened by the true principles of Reason and the divine revelations of Nature. On the one hand, the agency of Deity is discarded, because the essence of which his being is composed is not visible to the eye, and so matter is supposed to be the only real God; and on the other hand, the Deity is endowed with an omnipotent power which acts in direct violation of all law, and with absolute independence as respects all the necessities of being, creating an illimitable Universe from nothing, and speaking into existence all matter from an empty void. Does it not appear rational that the real truth should occupy a middle ground between these extremes, and that it should harmonize and justify, so to speak, the relations that exist between God and matter? If so, this truth will recognize God as the original germ of being, and all material creations as the productions evolved therefrom. And it will be seen, in this view of the subject, that the Philosophy of Creation is only the philosophy of , growth, expansion, and birth, which is beautifully and perfectly illustrated by every sprouting plant and unfolding flower.
In contemplating, therefore, the spiritual and indivisible substance which is ultimated in the Divine Soul, it is proper to recognize this as the primary source of all existing materials, —that is to say, the essential and inherent elements of all present forms, were contained undeveloped in the great original germ. It may be accordingly assumed that in this mighty vortex of unparticled matter, the real constituents of all existing formations have had an existence from eternity. Dwelling in the depths of this primitive substance, yet inherently blended with the moving mass, were the germinal elements of the gross earth, water, air, electricity, magnetism, and spirit. Hence in the long lapse of ages, when that stage of creation had been reached in which the existing Universe was brought forth in its sublime order, these inherent elements gradually assumed a more distinct form and being, and ultimately occupied their appropriate positions and relations to each,other, as denoted by their different degrees of refinement. That which is, therefore, is a development from that which was; and so beauty, life, and form are but the ultimated thoughts of God, whose being comprehends the Eternal Past. In the beautiful language of Akenside,
"Ere the radiant sun