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the great doctrines of a future state and the immortality of the soul. In our own day we allow to it a very liberal extent of bold imagery and poetic license, and with such allowance it may be perused without mischief; but a few verses alone are sufficient to prove its evil bearing, if strictly and literally nterpreted. The following distich, for example, beautiful as it is in itself, discloses the very quintescence of Spinosism :*—

All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body nature Is, and God the soul:

and the general result drawn from the entire passage, which is too long to be quoted, is no less so:—

In spite of pride, in erring reason's spite,
One truth is clear, Whatever ts, is Righv.

If every thing be right at present, there is no necessity for a day of correction or retribution hereafter j and the chief argument afforded by nature in favour of a future existence is swept away in a moment. Unite the propositions contained in these two couplets, and illustrated through the whole poem, and it follows that the universe is God, and God the universe; that amid all the moral evils of life, the sufferings of virtue, and the triumphs of vice, it is in vain to expect any degree of compensation or adjustment in a future state; every thing being but an individual part of one stupendous whole, which could not possibly exist otherwise; and that the only consolation which remains for us under the pressure of pain or calamity is, that if we are not at ease, there are others that are so—that if our own country is devoured by war, or desolated by pestilence, there are countries remote from us that know nothing of such afflictions—that the general good is superior to the general evil, and made to flow from it, and, consequently, that whatever is, is right'

If plagues and earthquakes break not Heaven's design,
Why then a Borgia or a Catiline?

The Third Hypothesis to which I have referred, is that of the idealists, or those who maintain that there is no such thing as a material or external world; that the existence of man consists of nothing more than impressions and ideas, or of pure incorporeal spirit, which surveys everything in the same unsubstantial manner as the visions of a dream. Some of the tenets of Malbranche appear to have a tendency to this theory; but it has been chiefly developed in modern times by Bishop Berkeley and Mr. Hume. Their premises are indeed somewhat different, but their conclusion is the same; excepting that the argument is pressed much farther by the latter than was ever intended by the former, and leads to more dangerous consequences. In Germany, Professor Kant has allowed a part of this tenet, as well as parts of various other tenets,f to enter into his system, or that which he chooses to distinguish by the name of the Transcendental Philosophy, and which not long since bade fair to obtain a universal sway over the Continent, though for some years it has appeared to be considerably declining in its reputation. It was my intention to have traced the origin of the ideal hypothesis, and to have pointed out its sophisms, but our time will not allow me; and it is the less necessary, as I shall have an opportunity, on a future occasion, of reverting to all these various conjectures and examining them at full length.J

But why, after all, is it necessary to support the proposition, that "nothing can spring from nothing?" Why may not something spring from nothing, when the proposition is applied to Omnipotence 1 may be answered, perhaps, because it is a self-contradiction, an impossibility, an absurdity. This, however, is only to argue in a circle; for why is it a self-contradiction, or an impossibility ?" It is impossible," said M. Leibnitz, "for a thing to be

* See the author's Prolegomena to his translation of the Nature of Things, p. exivt t negerando, Hlslnire Comparee des Systemes de Philosophte, torn. 1L17. t Series in. Leet. v. , | See the author's Profagumena, at supra, p. UxvuL

and not to be at the same time." This impossibility I admit; because, to assert the contrary, would imply a self-contradiction absolute and universal, founded upon the very nature of things, and consequently applicable to Omnipotence itself. But the position that " nothing can spring from nothing" is of a very different character: it is necessarily true when applied to man, but it is not necessarily true when applied to God. Instead of being absolute and universal, it is relative and limited; the nature of things does not allow us to reason concerning it when its reference is to the latter: and hence we have no authority to say that it is impossible to the Deity; or to maintain that an absolute creation out of nothing by the Deity is an absurdity or self-contradiction. It is absurd to suppose that matter does not exist; it is absurd to suppose that it does exist eternally and independently of the Creator; it is absurd to suppose that it constitutes the Creator himself: but, as it is not absurd to suppose its absolute formation out of nothing by the exercise of an almighty power, and as one of these four propositions must necessarily be true, reason should induce us to embrace the last with the same promptitude with which we reject the other three.

So far, indeed, 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; while every one may, at the same time, be as distinct from every other, as the whole may be from matter, or as matter is from what, without knowing any thing farther of, we commonly denominate spirit. Spirit, as generally used among modern metaphysicians, is, to say the most of it, but a negative term employed to express something that is not matter; but there may be ten thousand somethings, and substrates of being, and moral excellence and felicity, which are not matter, none of which, however, we can otherwise characterize. Yet why, between all or any of these and matter itself, there should be such an utter opposition and discrepancy as was contended for by Des Cartes, and has since been maintained by most metaphysicians, I cannot possibly conjecture; nor conceive why it should be universally thought necessary, as it still appears to be thought, that the essence of the eternal Creator himself must indispensably consist of the essence of some one of the orders of beings whom he has created.—Why may it not be as distinct from that of an archangel as from that of a mortal? from the whole of these various substances, which I have just supposed, and which we cannot otherwise contemplate or charac terize than by the negative term Spirit, as it is from matter, which is more immediately submitted to our eyes, and constitutes the substrate of our own being and sensations?

Matter, then, we are compelled to regard as a substance created out of nothing by an intelligent first cause; himself immaterial, self-existent, eternal, and alone j and of matter the whole visible universe is composed. It is arranged and regulated by an extensive code of laws, of which, however, we know but a few; and which give birth to a multiplicity of concrete forms, under which alone we are capable of contemplating it: for no effort has hitherto succeeded in ultimately enucleating the compound and tracing it to its elementary particles. We may divide and subdivide as we please; but when we have followed it up into its subtlest rudiments, its most retiring principles, by the aid of the best glasses which the best art of man can provide for us, we learn no more of the real nature of its primitive essence than we do from an acorn or a pebble.

But we are as ignorant of matter in its total scope as we are of it in its elementary particles. We can examine it as it exists in the globe, but the globe on which we tread is but as a drop to the ocean; the earth is surrounded by other planets, by other worlds, by other systems of worlds; all of which, we have reason to believe, are composed of the same substance, and regulated by the same laws. We stretch out our view on every side, but there are still worlds beyond us; we call in the aid of the best glasses, but they still surpass our reach; till at length we resign ourselves to imagination, and ic the confusion of our thoughts and the weakness of our language, we speak of space as being filled, and of matter as being infinite.

This view of the subject has given rise to a variety of magnificent speculations, at which I shall just glance, without meaning to dwell upon them. Is all this immensity of matter, this universe of worlds within worlds, and systems within systems, the result of one single fiat of the great Creator? Did the Power that spake it into existence give it from the first the general order and harmony and perfection that prevail at present? or did he merely produce a vast central and aggregate chaos, as the rude basis of future worlds, the parent-stock or storehouse from which they have since issued by a series of distinct efforts and evolutions? or, thirdly, has every separate system of worlds, or every separate planet, been the result of a separate birth, and a separate act of creation?

It is of little importance which of these splendid fancies we adopt; for all of them are but fancies, and built upon conjecture alone. In a course of philosophical inquiry, however, it becomes us to be acquainted with their existence; and to be informed, beyond this, that the second is the speculation which has been more generally espoused by philosophers; that, I mean, which conceives the existence of a central and primary chaos, from which all the heavenly bodies have successively proceeded, of whatever kind or description, whether suns, stars, comets, or planets; though the mode by which such efforts have been produced has been variously accounted for. Des Cartes seems to have supposed stars to have preceded planets in the order of creation; and that the earth was at first a star, and continued so till rendered opaque by having its bright surface incrusted with grosser and untransparent matter, and drawn into the vortex of the solar system; and Leibnitz adopted his conjecture. Whiston conceived it to have been originally a comet, the rude materials of which constituted the chaos of the earth; and Buffon, to have consisted of a comet and a portion of the sun's exterior limb or edge carried off by such comet, in consequence of its having given the sun an oblique stroke in the course of its orbit; the chaos of the earth being thus formed by the vapoury substance of the impinging comet uniting with a portion of the sun's igneous mass; and in this manner he endeavoured to account for the production of every other planet of the solar system.

But of all this class of speculations (for assuredly they deserve no higher character), the most splendid and comprehensive is that which was first embraced by Dr. Herschel, and was perhaps an improvement on a prior hypothesis of M. Buffon; but which, so precarious is the life of a philosophical hypothesis, he himself discarded, not many years afterward, for something newer. It supposes the existence of an immense mass of opaque but igneous matter, seated in the centre of universal nature; that the sun and every other star were originally portions of this common substance; that it is volcanic in its structure, and subject to eruptions of inconceivable force and violence; that the sun and every other luminary of every other system were thrown forth from it at different times, by the operation of such projectile powers; and that these, possessing in a great degree the qualities of the parent body, threw forth afterward at different times, by means of similar volcanoes, portions of their own substance, each of which, by the common laws of projectiles, assumed an orbicular motion, constituted a distinct planet, and became the chaos of a rising world.* Hence, according to this comprehensive and daring hypothesis, the existing universe has acquired its birth; hence new systems of worlds are perpetually rising into being, and new planets are added to systems already created.

But worlds and systems of worlds are not only perpetually creating, they ire also perpetually diminishing and disappearing. It is an extraordinary fact, that within the period of the last century, not less than thirteen stars in different constellations, none of them below the sixth magnitude, seem totally to have perished: forty to have changed their magnitude by becoming eitheT much larger or much smaller; and ten new stars to have supplied the place of those that are lost.* Some of these changes may perhaps be accounted for by supposing a proper motion in the solar or siderial systems by which the relative positions of several of the heavenly bodies have varied, riut this ex planation, though it may apply to several of the cases, will by no means apply to all of them; in many instances it is unquestionable, that the stars themselves, the supposed habitations of other kinds or orders of intelligent beings, together with the different planets by which it is probable they were surrounded, and to which they may have given light and fructifying seasons, as the sun gives light and fruitfulness to the earth, have utterly vanished, and the spots which they occupied in the heavens have become blanks. \Vhat has thus befallen other systems will assuredly befall our own; of the time and the manner we know nothing, but the fact is incontrovertible; it is foretold by revelation, it is inscribed in the heavens, it is felt throughout the earth. Such is the awful and daily text; what then ought to be the com ment?




Our stu dy for the present lecture is the first or simplest principles of bodies, so far as we have hitherto been able to obtain any degree of knowledge upon this recondite inquiry, and the means by which they are combined or separated from each other, so as to produce different kinds and orders of sensible objects.

A very slight contemplation of nature is sufficient to show u« that matter under every visible form and modification, when regarded in its general mass> is perpetually changing; alternately living, dying, and reviving; decomposing into elements that elude our pursuit; and recombining into new shapes ana energies and modes of existence. The purest and most compact metals become tarnished or converted into a calx or oxide on its surface, and the most durable and crystallized rocks crumble into granules; and the matter constituting these oxides and granules, by an additional series of operations, is still farther decomposed, till every vestige of their late character is lost, and the elementary principles of which they consisted are appropriated to other purposes, and spring to view under other forms and faculties. The same process takes place in the organized world. The germ becomes a seed, the seed a sapling, the sapling a tree; the embryo becomes an infant, the infant a youth, the youth a man: and having thus ascended the scale of maturity, both, in like manner, begin the downward path to decay; and, so far as relates to the visible materials of which they consist, both at length moulder into one common elementary mass, and furnish fresh fuel for fresh generations of animal or vegetable existence; so that all is in motion, all is striving- to burst the bonds of its present state; not an atom is idle; and the frugal economy of nature makes one set of materials answer the purpose of many, and moulds it into every diversified figure of being and beauty and happiness.

It has hence been said, that matter is necessarily corruptible, and is perpetually changing from its intrinsic nature, and that the physical and moral evils of life are mainly attributable to this perverse and incorrigible propensity. Such was the doctrine of many of the most eminent schools of ancient philosophy, both of Greece and Asia, and such continues to be the doctrine of various schools of the present day; a doctrine which has not unfrequently been considered as of the utmost importance, and as forming the best defence of the benevolence of the Supreme Architect; who, we are told, notwith

* See Dr. Herscuol's Observations compared with Flamsteed's, Phil. Train, vol. IxzttL art 17

standing all the pains and calamities, the tumults and disorders of nature, has made the most of matter that it would admit of, and has tempered it not only with a positive predominancy of good over evil, but with as much and as real good as could possibly be infused into it

To argue thus is to revive the theory of pure Platonism, far too extensively introduced into the Christian world, as I hinted in our last lecture, upon the first conversion of the Grecian philosophers, who had been chiefly students in the Platonic school; and to suppose the existence of matter as an independent and eternal principle. "God," says the sublime but mistaken founder of this school, " wills, as for as it ts possible, every thing good and nothing evil;"• "but it cannot be that evil should be destroyed, for there must always be a something contrary to good,"t a W^vra fc-ioVo. " an innate propensity to disorder,"}: in that eternal and independent principle of matter out of which all visible things are created.

How much more consolatory, as well as agreeable to right reason, is the view taken of this abstruse subject in the pages of genuine, unsophisticated, and unphilosophized revelation, in which the present is represented as a state, not of actual necessity, but of preordained probation; willed, in infinite wisdom, by the great First Cause, to promote the best ultimate happiness of man: and matter as a substance produced out of nothing by his almighty fiat! It was one of the express objects of the preceding lecture to prove, not only that matter does exist, in opposition to those who have thought it expedient to deny the being of a sensible and material world, but that it could not exist by any other means; and that, while there is no self-contradiction or absurdity in contending that matter, and that ten thousand other substances than matter, may be produced out of nothing by the energy of an infinite and omnipotent intelligence, there is so pure and perfect an absurdity in endeavouring to account for its existence upon every other theory which has hitherto been invented, that right reason should induce us to embrace the former opinion with the same promptitude with which we fly from every opinion that opposes it.

Matter, then, is the production of an almighty intelligence, and as such is entitled to our reverence; although, from a just abhorrence of many ancient, and not a few modern errors, it has too often been regarded in a low and contemptible light. Though not essentially eternal, as was contended for, by all the schools of Greece and Asia, nor essentially intelligent, as was contended for by several of them, it evinces in every part arid in every operation the impress of a divine origin, and is the only pathway vouchsafed to our external senses, by which we can walkThrough nature up to nature's God;

that God whom we behold equally in the painted pebble and the painted flower—in the volcano and in the cornfield—in the wild winter storm and in the soft summer moonlight. Although, when contemplated in its aggregate mass, and especially in its organized form, it is perpetually changing, it is every where perfect in its kind, and even at present bears indubitable proofs of being capacified for incorruptibility. In its elementary principles it is maintained by the best schools of both ancient and modern times to be solid and unchangeable; and, even in many of its compound forms, it discovers an obvious approach to the same character. The firm and mighty mass that constitutes the pyramids of Egypt has resisted the assaults of time and of tempests for, perhaps, upwards of four thousand years, and by many critical antiquaries is supposed to have triumphed over the deluge itself. While there is little doubt that the hard and closely crystallized granitic mountains of every country in which they occur," the everlasting hills," to copy a correct and beautiful figure from the pages of Hebrew poetry, are coeval with the creation, and form at this moment, as they formed at first, the lowest depths, as well as the topmost peaks of the globe. That they are in

• Thea*. 11. p. 178. t roid. { ThUeb. 8ee also Brucher, llist. rnlL lib. U. cap. Tiii. 4 L

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