Imágenes de página

or the agency of a direct interposition, but on a principle which is more sublime in its character, and which is more consonant with the real nature of the Divinity.

In order to clearly comprehend the true principle of Divine Action, it will be necessary to have some definite conception of the Being in whom that principle exists. It is from the force of a narrow and material idea of God, that the act of creation has beqn viewed as the result of an external and arbitrary power. If God is a personal and self-willing being in the same sense that man is such, it must be presumed that He would act on similar principles to those which govern the course of human action; and, in accepting this view of the subject, it is not entirely inconsistent to believe that He may be, as theologians have supposed, changeful in his purposes and designs, creating and then repenting that he did create, as is sometimes the case with earthly beings. It is a lamentable fact that, in the conceptions of men, the Divine Being has been measured by the standard of human character; and that, as a necessary consequence, the principle which governs and regulates the exercise of his power, has been viewed chiefly as the action of a fickle and wayward will. But when the mind is able to resign such conceptions, and entertains a truly philosophical view of the nature and constitution of Deity, it will be enabled to conceive a far more exalted idea of the character of that principle by which the vast result of creation has been attained.

It is not questioned that God is an organized intelligence, * that He has a conscious existence, and exercises a power in creating which corresponds to will; but the question to be . decided is, whether that organization implies an indefinite personal volition, whether that consciousness confers an unlimited freedom, and whether that will is governed by impulse or fixed by law. This question is of great importance in its bearing on all our conceptions of the process by which the Universe was born, and of the mode in which it is now controlled. But how shall this question be decided? Is it one which lies beyond the boundary of human reason, and must the mind be contented with the thought that it is enrobed with a vail of impenetrable mystery? Possibly there may be a line of philosophical induction which will lead to a satisfactory solution of the problem, and thus disclose the true principle of Divine Action.

With this object in view, let us here seek to know what God really is. Is He a spirit whose movements are uncontrolled by any established law, or is He a living substance that acts by virtue of a settled and inherent principle which is analogous to that by which all matter is pervaded? To decide this question, let us refer to the conclusions which have been already arrived at in the preceding chapters. Deity, as we have seen, is the eternal and self-existent Soul of space—the real and substantial Essence of matter, constituting the inmost germ of all existence. If this be true, then Deity must sustain a direct and intimate relation with matter, and, being himself the original basis from which this was derived, must contain inherently the same eternal principles which are manifested in matter. In this case there would exist the same' analogy between Deity and matter as between the seed and the flower. The seed must contain within itself all the elements, and so must be governed by the same unchanging laws, which are . afterward manifested in the unfoldings of the flower; and so, in a corresponding sense, the Divine Mind, being the primary Essence from which all things were produced, must comprehend in itself the basis of the same substances, and therefore must be controlled in its action by the same principles, which are exhibited in the ultimate fruits of creation.

That this idea may be clearly comprehended, let us briefly view the essentially near relation which already subsists between God and the Universe. The proposition may be stated at the outset, that the Deity lives in the most interior portions of all matter, and that between the divine essence which forms his being and the surface of material existence, there extend numerous connecting links by which both are united in one perfect whole. To illustrate this proposition, we may suppose that the earth, for instance, is composed of substances which are visible, and others which are invisible—that it is made up of materials which are extremely gross, and essences which are exceedingly refined, and that there is a regular and unbroken chain of connection between all these materials and essences, these being arranged in such a manner as to form a perfect and beautiful gradation from the visible to the invisible, from the gross to the refined, and from the material to the spiritual. Thus from the" immeasurable surface of existing matter, the mind may descend into the interior of refined and still refining substance, passing from link to link, from gradation to gradation, down toward the inmost heart of the Universe, within whose hidden and unexplored depths ~ may be found the sanctuary of the Eternal Spirit. It will be perceived, therefore, that, by virtue of the unbroken chain of connection which unites external matter with its pervading Soul, a certain unity is established between these two departments of being, which must imply not only a correspondence in their nature, but also in the laws by which both are governed ;—so that, in view of this unity, it appears rational to conclude that Deity acts according to the same method, and by the force of the same general principles, which are exhibited in the movements of outward matter.

But there is another thought to be taken in connection with this part of the subject, which will serve to confirm the same conclusion. This thought is that God is a substance—a substance, indeed, infinitely more real than all the fading forms of the material world. The human mind can conceive of light, because the eye can see it; it can likewise conceive of air, because the presence of this element is felt by the senses; and so it can conceive of electricity, because the manifestations of its power are witnessed, and its nature may be judged by its effects. But may there not be essences which are still more refined, and yet quite as real as either of these substances whose effects are perceived by the senses? Reasoning from analogy, we must judge that there are such essences—essences which, though composed of the most refined elements of matter, are yet more enduring and substantial than the unyielding rock. And when the, mind has conceived of the existence of these essences, then is it prepared to conceive of the nature of the Divine Spirit, which is an organization of the most refined substance in being. If, then, the Divine Soul be a substance, must it not be subject to the same definite and established principles which govern all other substances, forms, and beings? It does not appear that the degree of sublimation or refinement in any substance, can have the effect to render it independent of law, as we find that electricity, for instance, is controlled in its action by laws as fixed and absolute as those which belong to air and light; and hence, though it be supposed, as indeed it must be, that Deity is composed of the most highly sublimated and refined matter, it can not be consistently affirmed that He is, on this account, not subject to any settled laws ; but the very fact that He is the germ and essence of all being, plainly shows that he is the primary representative of those principles which are manifested in created forms, such principles being only the outward reflection of what existed inherently in his own nature. There is surely no good reason to believe that any particular substance in the universe may be entirely exempt from law, while all others are subject to it; and when we admit that God is a substance, forming the original basis of all matter, we are forced to admit, by parity of reasoning", that He is likewise subject to certain laws—laws which are at least similar to those that govern other substances evolved from his own being.

I am aware that it will be said in opposition to this conclusion, that what are termed the laws of Nature were created by the Deity, He himself being independent of those laws—that the forces and tendencies which are apparent in the external world, are results flowing from the interior movements of the Divine Mind, while that Mind occupies a superior position, and therefore is not affected by influences of this nature. This will be recognized as the prevailing theological idea on this subject. Matter, it is said, is governed by certain established laws, but these laws can not be inherent in matter, because this has no power to move itself; consequently these laws, embracing all the forces and tendencies of Nature, must have been created by the Supreme Mind. But let us examine this reasoning somewhat analytically, and

« AnteriorContinuar »