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enormous magnitude) though he has sight added to taste and feeling, does not appear to have an understanding proportioned to his bulk. Rather he is inferior therein, not only to most birds and beasts, but to the generality of even reptiles and insects. However, none of these then attempted to devour, or in any wise hurt one another. All were peaceful and quiet, as were the watery fields wherein they ranged at pleasure.
12. It seems the insect kinds were at least one degree above the inhabitants of the waters. Almost all these too devour one another, and every other creature which they can conquer. Indeed, such is the miserably disordered state of the world at present, that innumerable creatures can no otherwise preserve their own lives, than by destroying others. But in the beginning it was not so. The paradisiacal earth afforded a sufficiency of food for all its inhabitants : so that none of them had any need or temptation to prey upon the other. The spider was then as harmless as the fly, and did not then lie in wait for blood. The weakest of them crept securely over the earth, or spread their gilded wings in the air, that wavered in the breeze and glittered in the sun, without any to make them afraid. Mean time, the reptiles of every kind were equally harmless, and more intelligent than they : yea, one species of them was more subtle, or knowing, than any of the brute creation which God had made.
13. But, in general, the birds, created to fly in the open firmament of heaven, appear to have been of an order far superior to either insects or reptiles; although still considerably inferior to beasts : (as we now restrain that word to quadrupeds, four-footed animals, which, two hundred years ago, included every kind of living creatures.) Many species of these are not only endowed with a large measure of natural understanding, but are likewise capable of much improvement by art, such as one would not readily conceive. But among all these there were no birds or beasts of prey: none that destroyed or molested another: but all the creatures breathed, in their several kinds, the benevolence of their great Creator.
14. Such was the state of the creation, according to the scanty ideas which we can now form concerning it, when its great Author surveying the whole system at one view, pronounced it very good! It was good in the highest degree whereof it was capable, and without any mixture of evil. Every part was exactly suited to the others, and conducive to the good of the whole. There was “ a golden chain" (to use the expression of Plato) “let down from the Throne of God," an exactly connected series of beings, from the highest to the lowest; from dead earth, through fossils, vegetables, animals, to man, created in the image of God, and designed to know, to love, and to enjoy his Creator to all eternity.
1. Here is a firm foundation laid on which we may stand, and answer all the cavils of minute Philosophers; all the objections which cain men, who would be wise, make to the goodness or wisdom of God in the creation. All these are grounded upon an entire mistake, namely, That the world is now in the same state it was at the beginning. And upon this supposition they plausibly build abundance of objections. But all these objections fall to the ground, when we observe this supposition cannot be admitted. The world at the beginning was in a totally different state, from that wherein we find it now. Object, therefore, whatever you please to the present state, either of the animate or inanimate creation, whether in general, or with regard to any particular instances; and the answer is ready, These are not now as they were in the beginning. Had you, therefore, heard that vain King of Castile, crying out with exquisite self-sufficiency, “ If I had made the world, I would have made it better than God Almighty has made it;" you might have replied, “ No: God Almighty, whether you know it or not, did not make it as it is now. He himself made it better, unspeakably better than it is at present. He made it without blemish, yea, without any defect. He made no corrup
tion, no destruction in the inanimate creation. He made no death in the animal creation, neither its harbingers, sin and pain. If you will not believe his own account, believe your brother heathen. It was only
Post ignem ætherea domo
Subductum, that is, in plain English,—After man, in utter defiance of his Maker, had eaten of the Tree of Knowledge, that
Macies et nova febrium
Terris incubuit cohors : that a whole army of evils, totally new, totally unknown till then, broke in upon rehel man, and all other creatures, and overspread the face of the earth.
2. “Nay,” (says a bold man,* who has since personated a Christian, and so well that many think him one!) “God is not to blame for either the natural or moral evils that are in the world. For he made it as well as he could: seeing evil must exist in the very nature of things.” It must, in the present nature of things, supposing man to have rebelled against God. But evil did not exist at all in the original nature of things. It was no more the original result of matter, than it was the necessary result of spirit. All things, then, without exception, were very good. And how should they be otherwise? There was no defect at all in the power of God, any more than in his goodness or wisdom. His goodness inclined him to make all things good: and this was executed by his power and wisdom. Let every sensible infidel, then, be ashamed of making such miserable excuses for his Creator! He needs none of us to make apologies, either for him, or for his creation. As for God, his way is perfect : and such originally were all his works. And such they will be again, when the Son of God shall have destroyed all the works of the devil.
3. Upon this ground, then, that “God made man upright,” and every creature perfect in its kind, but that man "found
* Mr. SJ-j.
out to himself many inventions," of happiness independent on God: and that by his apostasy from God, he threw not only himself, but likewise the whole creation, which was intimately connected with him, into disorder, misery, death: upon this ground, I say, we do not find it difficult to
“ Justify the ways of God with men.” For although he left man in the hand of his own counsel, to choose good or evil, life or death; although he did not take away the liberty he had given him, but suffered him to choose death, in consequence of which the whole creation now groaneth together: yet when we consider that all the evils introduced into the creation may work together for our good : yea, may “ work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory:" we may well praise God for permitting these temporary evils, in order to our. eternal good: yea, we may well cry out, “O the depth both of the wisdom and the goodness of God!” “ He hath done all things well.” “ Glory be unto God, and unto the Lamh for ever and ever.
ON THE FALL OF MAN.
Genesis iii. 19.
“ Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return.”
1. WHY is there pain in the world ? Seeing God is “ loving to every man, and his mercy is over all his works? Because there is sin : had there been no sin, there would have been no pain. But pain, (supposing God to be just,) is the necessary effect of sin. But why is there sin in the world? Because man was created in the image of God ;-because he is not mere matter,-a clod of earth, -a lump of clay, without sense or understanding, but a spirit like his Creator: a being endued, not only with sense and understanding, but also with a will exerting itself in yarious affections. To crown all the rest, he was endued with liberty, a power of directing his own affections and actions, a capacity of determining himself, or of choosing good or evil. Indeed had not man been endued with this, all the rest would have been of no use. Had he not been a free, as well as an intelligent being, his understanding would have been as incapable of holiness, or any kind of virtue, as a tree or a block of marble. And having this power, a power of choosing good or evil, he chose the latter: he chose evil. Thus 6 sin entered into the world,” and pain of every kind, preparatory to death.