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The mountains, woods, and streams, the rolling globe,
And Wisdom's mein celestial. From the first
Of days, on them his loye divine he fix'd,
His admiration; till, in time complete,
What he admir'd and lov'd his vital smile
Unfolded into being. Hence the breath
Of life in forming each organic frame;
Hence the green earth, and wild-resounding waves;
Hence light and shade alternate; warmth and cold;
The clear autumnal skies, and vernal showers;
And all the fair variety of things."
PRINCIPLE OF DIVINE ACTION.
Having previously arrived at the conception that the primitive origin of the Universe is to be traced to the Divine Mind, as the perfect and concentrated essence of all being, it is proper to investigate the principle on which the various external forms of Creation have been produced. The sentiment has been quite generally entertained that God created the heavens and the earth by the direct and special action of his own will—that, at some particular point in the eternity of time, He was moved by a desire to create worlds and systems as they exist in the present constitution of Nature, in accordance with which He suddenly put forth the divine energies which had until this time slumbered in the depths of his own being, and labored during a period of six days for the accomplishment of the design conceived. This view of the subject is one which has been derived by theological teachers from the traditional account of creation contained in the Primitive History. It will, however, be readily perceived by the free mind, that a blind reverence for authority in this instance has essentially interfered with the operations of human reason. Indeed it has been boldly asserted by the advocates of this theory, that reason is carnal—utterly unsafe and unreliable as a guide to truth; and it should not, therefore, be esteemed a matter of wonder that, by the force of such a conviction, many irrational and even absurd conclusions have been entertained.
The principle of Divine Action as represented in the popular teachings, is apparently analogous to that on which an earthly mechanic would proceed to erect a building of wood or stone. It is supposed that Deity, in the construction of the Universe, acted as a personal aud sentient being, possessed of a free and uncontrolled will ; and that, in the beginning, by a special application of omnipotent power, He called forth the glorious forms of light aud life from the dark bosom of Chaos. But there are some difficulties that arise in taking this view of the subject, which are worthy of a candid consideration. If G od be, strictly and literally, a personal being, corresponding in figure and outline with the human form, and if He created the fabric of material ^Nature as a special act and by the exercise of his own free will, then the inquiry arises, what special incitement could have produced the desire at any particular point of time more than another, to create the revolving worlds and people them with living forms? It should be noticed that Deity had already lived an eternity before the act of creation is supposed to have commenced. During this inconceivable period, was there no action on the part of God ?—did He slumber in the depths of surrounding darkness ?—did He then have no desire to create and fashion the beautiful forms that were subsequently ushered into being ?—and was He contented to remain in solitude and inaction while ages on ages rolled away?
These inquiries must be answered in the negative. The truth evidently is, that the same power, will, and design, which are manifested in the work of creation, must have existed eternally in the bosom of the Divine Mind, being interwoven as inherent qualities in his unchangeable nature; and hence there could be no particular time selected in the whole course of eternity, at which any special desire could have been incited in the mind of Deity that did not forever exist. Then if the desire to create the Universe was, as it must have been, ever existent in the mind of the Divine Being—to Him eternity being only one continual present—the act of creation itself must have proceeded eternally from the force of this inherent desire. To suppose that the desire or will to create was incited at some special and appointed time which might be termed the beginning, would be to suppose that the real, indwelling tendencies of the Supreme Mind were undeveloped in all previous ages; or to suppose that this desire eternally existed, but that the work of creation did not proceed from its action, is to admit that the desire itself was without a result, and therefore aimless and vain,—in either of which cases the supposition would be contrary to the clear and obvious deductions of reason.
But it will be said that the Deity is possessed of a free will, and He could therefore commence the act of creation at precisely that time which He should voluntarily choose for this purpose. If this be true then the query arises, how came the will to act at the time chosen? Even on the supposition that the Divine will is perfectly free, so far as it can be conceived to be so, it would still need the presence of some motive in order to be put in exercise. No intelligent and rational being will act without a motive to act; and there is accordingly no reasdn to suppose that the will of God could have been put in operation, except there was some impelling power by which it was moved, or some attractive end toward which it was drawn forth. It may be answered that the motive by which the will to create was produced, was the object to be attained in creation; and this statement is true,—for if the_ Deity as an intelligent Being is supposed to act at all, the action can only be induced by the view of producing a certain result. But here arises the real difficulty in the case. As we have seen, no will ean be so free in an intelligent being as to act without an object; and if this object in the view of the Divine Mind was the result to be accomplished in creation, as it appears reasonable to suppose, then this object being continually present within the range of the Divine perceptions, must have existed both as a motive power and as an end to be attained, throughout all past eternity; so that in this case the will of God to create, in order to correspond with the object toward which it was directed, could not have been put in operation at any particular period, but must have been exercised alike in all time. In order to maintain an opposite opinion, it would be necessary to assume that the grand object to be secured in creation, was not presented as a motive to the mind of Deity until an inconceivable number of ages had passed away, which assumption would amount to the irrational hypothesis that the great, and, as far as can be known, the only labor of God was not comprehended in the primitive and eternal design.