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remembered that, as this pure spirit is, by hypothesis, the Creator of all things, who has endowed man with his bodily organs, by which his direct connection with the, visible universe is secured, so there can be no reason why He may not use the objective modes and forms employed by His creatures. And when we connect infinity with the spirituality—as the vastness of His operation compels us—we may ascend beyond possibility to necessity; for we find that in the measure in which immaterial endowments are possessed, so also is there an inward propulsion to their expression. No great thinker can keep his thought to himself. Just as the soul of the artist is filled with grand and ennobling conceptions, so, by an irresistible inward impulse, is he compelled to embody them. And, so far as we can see, this is an essential element of intellect and emotion. How then can He, who is the fountain of all intellect and emotion, fail to make known the glories of His nature to those of His creatures whom He has endowed with a capability of fellowship?
IS A DIVINE REVELATION NECESSARY ?
Having assured ourselves of the possibility of direct intercourse between the Creator and man, we next ask, Is such a revelation as will furnish authority for, and the means of, this intercourse necessary ?
Our first step towards an answer must be to ascertain the purpose of the Creator in creating and preparing the earth, and in placing man upon it as possessor and ruler. So far as all other parts of the earth and its furniture are concerned, we can conceive of a necessity only for a mechanical order, imposed at the first and perpetuated by that support which is implied in maintenance; in which there is no necessity, so far as that part of creation is concerned, for any special Divine appearance or revelation. But it is evident that man is incapable of mechanical rule. He is an individual agent, like his Maker. We acknowledge that this is a mystery we cannot fathom, but the fact is unquestionable, that all creatures endowed as man is have the power of self-determination, and can therefore act in opposition to their Maker, on whom, like every other part of the universe, they depend. But this ability arises from their nearer resemblance to Him than any other creatures on the earth.
As the necessity of a revelation arises from this side of our nature, we may be permitted to examine the grounds on which our conviction of the harmony of the Divine action in the creation and subsequent rule of a race like men rests.
We have already seen that for the pleasure of the Creator all creatures were brought into existence. Hence arises the question, Can it be for the pleasure of the Creator to bring into existence a continual succession of beings, constantly dependent on Himself, who are liable to act in direct opposition to their nature, and to His own will as expressed in that nature, many of whom do and will act in this manner. The difficulty involved in this question is greatly diminished when we remember the necessary existence of alternatives in all moral questions. And in this case they are many.
As we cannot conceive of the existence of a high order of intelligent agents without this power of self-determination, the first question is, Will it be most for the pleasure and glory of the Creator to bring such creatures into existence with all the contingencies of their nature, or only to create beings of a lower order, or to abstain from creation altogether, and dwell in eternal isolation ?
In answering this question with respect to man, we must take into account the process by which his way was prepared and his habitation furnished. Long ages before man existed, we see the earth abounding in conscious life, which, in its adaptation to its conditions, was a life of enjoyment. And in the successive adaptations of the diverse orders and forms of animal life to the progressive conditions of the earth, we see the great Architect employing these creatures of the earth to perfect its own fitness for man, by modifying, distributing, combining, and storing up its elements in such form and measure as to make it a fit abode for man in his largest numbers and highest intelligence. In this preparation we see a power, whose mode we cannot understand, and whose measure we are not able to calculate. The wisdom
in the designing and adaptation of the various orders of animals to their conditions, and to their work in the grand progressive plan, is equally profound and boundless. And the benevolence which strewed the entire course of the operation with happy life, and made that life in many cases the cause of the stability and beauty of the structure, is equally conspicuous. Starting, therefore, from the original act which brought the substance of the earth into existence, capable under His guiding hand of such various but harmonious modification as to make it a structural record of His wisdom and goodness, which should furnish perpetual instruction to the most intelligent of His creatures, who could only enjoy the benefits He had stored for them as they discovered and copied His modes of operation, we surely have an object which, to an infinite being of the same class as ourselves, must have been eminently worthy. But we cannot fail to see, that the worthiness was most manifested in the end in which all terminated.
The next alternative question is, Can the Creator of such a nature, within its own scope, secure a preponderance of fulfilment of His own purpose, or is there unlimited contingency?