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sign of providence in collecting and fixing them there *. Therefore nothing seems to be intended, in that text, but the waters that are contained in the clouds as it is said, He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds, Job xxvi. 8. and, indeed, the Hebrew words seem not to be justly translated t; for they ought to be rendered, re waters that are from above in the firmament, not above the heavens, but the earth, or a considerable distance from it, in the firmament, as the clouds are.
On the third day, the sea and rivers were divided from the earth, and the dry land appeared, and the earth brought forth herbs, grass, trees, and plants, with which it is so richly stored, which in a natural way, it has produced ever since.
On the fourth day, the sun, moon and stars were made, to enlighten, and, by their influence, as it were, to enliven the world, and so render it a beautiful place, which would otherwise have been a dismal and uncomfortable dungeon; and that hereby the four seasons of the year might be continued in their respective courses, and their due measures set to them: thus it is said, these heavenly bodies were appointed for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years, Gen. i. 14.
This has occasioned some to enquire, whether any countenance is hereby given to judicial astrology, or whether the heavenly bodies have any influence on the conduct of human life, which some ancient and modern writers have defended, not without advancing many absurdities, derogatory to the glory of providence, as well as contrary to the nature of second causes, and their respective effects; and, when the moral actions of intelligent creatures are said to be pointed at, or directed by the stars, this is contrary to the laws of human nature, or the nature of man, as a free agent ; therefore, whatever be the sense of these words of scripture, it is certain, they give no countenance to this presumptuous and ungrounded practice. But this we shall take occasion to oppose, under a following answer,
* Ambrose, in his Hexameron, Lib. II. cap. 3. as well as Basil, and others, suppose, that the use thereof is to qualify the extraordinary heat of the sun, and other celestial bodies, to prevent their burning the frame of nature, and especially their destroying this lower world, and others think, that they are reserved in store, to answer some particular ends of providence, when God, at any time, designs to destroy the world by a deluge ; and consequently they conclude, that it was by a supply of water from thence, that there was a sufficient quantity poured clown, when the world was drowned, in the universal deluge: but, though a late ingenious writer, [Vid. Burnet. Tellur. Theor. Lib. I. cap. 2.) supposes, that the clouds could afford but a small part of that water, which was sufficient to answer that end, which he supposes to be eight times as much as the sea contains ; yet he does not think fit to fetch a supply thereof from the super-celestial stores, not only as 'supposing the opinion to be illgrounded, but by being at a loss to determine how these waters should be disposed of again, which could not be accounted for any other way, but by anihilation, since they could not be exhaled by the sun, or contained in the clouds, by reason of their distant situation, as being far above them. †
, . VOL. II.
when we consider judicial astrology, as forbidden in the first commandment *. Therefore, all that we shall add, at present, is, that when the heavenly bodies are said to be appointed for times and seasons, &c. nothing is intended thereby, but that they distinguish the times and seasons of the year; or, it may be, in a natural way, have some present and immediate influence on the bodies of men, and some other creatures below them.
There is also another question, which generally occurs when persons treat of this subject, namely, whether there are not distinct worlds of men, or other creatures, who inhabit some of those celestial bodies, which, by late observations, are supposed to be fitted to receive them. This has been maintained by Keplar, bishop Wilkins, and other ingenious writers; and that which has principally led them to assert it, is, because some of them are, as is almost universally allowed, not only bigger than this earth, but they seem to consist of matter, not much unlike to it, and therefore are no less fit to entertain distinct worlds of intelligent creatures. And they farther add, in defence of this argument, that it cannot reasonably be supposed that there should be such a vast collection of matter, created with no other design, but to add to the small degree of light, which the planets, the moon excepted, afford to this lower world. As for
other advantage that they are of to it; any farther than as they are objects, to set forth the wisdom and power of God, this cannot be determined by us ; therefore they conclude, that they were formed for the end above mentioned. And some carry their conjectures beyond this, and suppose, that as every one of the fixed stars are bodies, which shine as the sun does, with their own unborrowed light, and are vastly larger, that therefore there is some other use designed thereby, besides that which this world receives from them, namely, to give light to some worlds of creatures, that are altogether unknown to us. According to this supposition, there are not only more worlds than ours, but multitudes of them, in proportion to the number of the stars, which are inhabited either by men, or some other species of intelligent creatures, which tends exceedingly, in their opinion, to advance the power, wisdom, and goodness, of the great Creator.
The only thing that I shall say, concerning this modern hypothesis, is, that as, on the one hand, the common method of opposition to it, is not, in all respects, sufficient to overthrow the argument in general, especially when men pretend not to determine what kinds of intelligent creatures inhabit these worlds, and when they are not too preremptory in their assertions about this matter; so, on the other hand, when this argument is defended with that warmth, as though it were a neces.
See Quest. CV.
sary and important article of faith, and some not only assert the possibility, or, at least, the probability of the truth thereof, but speak with as much assurance of it, as though it were founded on scripture; and when they conclude that they are inhabited by men, and pretend to describe, not only the form of some of these worlds, but give such an account of the inhabitants thereof, as though they had learned it from one who came down from thence *; in this respect, they expose the argument, which they pretend to defend, to contempt, and render it justly exceptionable. But, if men do not exceed those due bounds of modesty, which should always attend such disquisitions, and distinguish things that are only probable, from those that are demonstratively certain, and reckon this no other than an ingenious speculation, which may be affirmed, or denied, in com. mon with some other astronomical, or philosophical problems, without considering it, as affecting any article of natural or revealed religion, I would not oppose the argument in general, how much soever I would do the particular explication thereof, as above mentioned : but, when this is brought in, as a matter of debate, in the theologick schools, and disputed with as much warmth, as though it were next to an heresy to deny it, I cannot but express as much dislike thereof, as any have done, who give into the commonly received opinion relating to this matter.
On the fifth day, another sort of creatures, endowed with sense, as well as life and motion, were produced, partly out of the waters, and partly out of the earth, that was mixed with them, namely, the fish that were designed to live in the waters, and the winged fowl, which were to fly above them to
On the sixth day, all sorts of beasts, and creeping things, with which the earth is plentifully furnished, were produced out of it, And whereas there are two words used to set forth the different species of living creatures, as contra-distinguished from creeping things, namely, the cattle and the beasts of the earth, it is generally supposed to imply the different sorts of beasts, such as are tame or wild, though wild beasts were not, at first, so injurious to mankind as now they are,
In the latter part of the day, when this lower world was * Thus the learned Witsius, in Smybol. Exercitat. §. $ 78. çr poses this notion, by referring to a particular relation given, by one, of mountains, vallies, seas, woods, and vast tracts of land, which are contained in the moon, and a describing the men that inhabit it, and the cities that are built by them, and other things relating, hereunto, which cannot be reckoned, in the opinion of sober men, any other than fabulous and romantic
This, supposing the fowl to be produced out of the water, mixed with earth, reconciles the seeming contradiction that there is between Gen. i. 20. and chap. ii. 19. in the former of which it is acid, the fowl zere created out of the water, and in the better, out of the earth.
brought to perfection, and furnished with every thing necessary for his entertainment, man, for whose sake it was made, was created out of the dust of the ground; which will be more particularly considered in a following answer *
God having thus produced all things in this order and method, as we have an account thereof in scripture, he fixed, or established the course or laws of nature, whereby the various species of living creatures might be propagated, throughout all succeeding ages, without the interposure of his supernatural power, in a continued creation of them; and, after this, he resta ed from his work, when he had brought all things to perfection,
Thus having considered the creation, as a work of six days, it may farther be enquired, whether it can be determined, with any degree of probability, in what time, or season t of the year all things were created. Some are of opinion, that it was in the spring, because, at that time, the face of the earth is renewed every year, and all things begin to grow and flourisht. And some of the fathers have assigned this, as a reason of it ; be, cause the Son of God, the second Adam, suffered, and rose from the dead, whereby the world was, as it were, renewed, at the same time of the year. But this argument is of no weight.
Therefore the most probable opinion is, that the world was created at that season of the year, which generally brings all things to perfection ; when the fruits of the earth are fully ripe, and the harvest ready to be gathered in, which is about autumn, the earth being then stored with plenty of all things, for the support of man and beast. It is not, indeed, very material, whether this can be determined or no, nevertheless this seems the more probable opinion, inasmuch as the beginning of the civil year was fixed at that time. Accordingly, the feast of ingathering, which was at this season of the year, is said, in Exod. xxiii. 16. to be in the end of the year ; therefore, as one year ended, the other began, at this time, and so continued, till, by a special providence, the beginning of the year was altered, in commemoration of Israel's deliverance out of Egypt. And, from that time, there was a known distinction among the Jews, between their beginning of the civil and the ecclesiastical year; the former of which was the same as it had been from the beginning of the world, and answers to our month September; from whence it is more than probable, that the world was created at that season of the year. We now proceed,
VI. To consider, the quality, or condition, in which God * See Qihest. XVII.
† When we speak of the season of the year, we have a particular respect to than part of the earth, in which man at first resided; being sensible that the seasons of the year vary, according to the different situation of the earth.
Ver illud erat, Ver magnus agebat
created all things, which were, at first, pronounced by him very good, Gen. i. 31. It is certain, nothing imperfect can come out of the hand of God, and the goodness of things is their perfection. Every thing that was made, was made exactly agreeable to the idea, or platform thereof, that was laid in the divine mind. All things were good, that is perfect, in their kind, and therefore, there was not the least blemish in the work. Every thing was beatiful, as it was the effect of infinite wisdom, as well as almighty power. Whatever blemishes there are now in the creation, which are the consequence of the curse that sin has brought upon it, these were not in it at first, for that would have been a reflection on the author of it.
And there is another thing, in which the goodness of those things did consist, namely, as they were adapted to shew forth the glory of God in an objective way, whereby intelligent creatures might, as in a glass, behold the infinite perfections of the divine nature, which
shine forth therein. If any enquire, whether God could have made things more perfect than he did ? it might easily be replied to this, that he never acted to the utmost of his power, the perfections of creatures were limited by his will ; nevertheless, if any persons pretend to find any flaw, or defect of wisdom in the creation of all things, this is no other than a proud and ignorant cavil, which men, through the corruption of their nature, are disposed to make against the great Creator of all things, who regard not the subserviency of things to answer the most valuable ends, and advance his glory, who, in wisdom has made them all.
In this respect, the inferior parts of the creation were good; but, if we consider the intelligent part thereof, angels and men, they were good, in a higher sense. As there was no moral blemish in the creation, nor propensity, or inclination to sin, so these were endowed with such a kind of goodness, whereby they were fitted to glorify God, in a way agreeable to their superior natures, and behold and improve those displays of the divine perfections, which were visible in all his other works; which leads us farther to consider what is said concerning them, as the most excellent part of the creation.
QUEST. XVI. How did God create angels?
celling in knowledge, mighty in power, to execute his com:
gels and men. The former of these are more excellent ; and we are in this answer, led to speak concerning their nature,