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THE world in which we live invites to an investigation of causes, and the rational nature which we possess cannot rest satisfied without a perception of them. We are liable, however, to confine our investigations to too low a sphere. We can trace natural effects to natural causes, and hence are disposed to rest in the conclusion that everything in nature can be accounted for on natural principles. But no man can come to this conclusion, to the denial of a Great First Cause, who has not first said in his heart, There is no God. This is the secret source of atheism; and when a man sets out with such a negation in his mind, it is not difficult for him to confirm it to his own satisfaction. Although matter implies the existence of a cause, it does not discover, nor afford the means of discovering, what that cause is.

This is declared by Revelation alone. In the Divine Volume we are furnished with information calculated to relieve us from all perplexity and error on this important point; we acquire from its sacred pages the knowledge of the self-existent and infinite Being who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, and to whom we and all other beings owe our existence. The same Book of Inspiration declares that the Divine Hand is still extended to uphold and to regulate the Divine work, and that even the most minute of man's states and concerns are matters of this paternal circumspection of Him who inhabiteth eternity.

While to Revelation alone belongs the discovery of these great

truths, nature affords abundant means of confirmation. This is all that nature is capable of doing.

Spiritual and Divine truths are beyond the sphere of nature, and consequently can never be discovered by any evidence that originates within it. Yet natural truth, being from the same source, cannot but harmonize with all truths of a higher kind; and therefore must be confirmatory of them, although it never can be sufficient without them-never sufficient to give man a knowledge of the cause itself which produced nature.

But even those who, from Revelation, acknowledge the Divine origin of the natural world, do not generally recognise the existence of any intermediate or instrumental spiritual causes employed by the Divine Being in creating and sustaining it. Some Christian authors indeed have given their opinion in favour of the idea that there is a gradation in the scale of moral being, as there is in that of natural existence; that as there is a regular succession of links in the chain of creation, from the highest subjects of the animal kingdom down to the lowest of the mineral, so is it probable that man is but the lowest link in the chain of rational existence which depends immediately from the Deity? But few perhaps will be found inclined to admit that the spiritual world, as a part of the creation of God, was the instrumental cause of the existence of the natural world, and is the instrumental cause also of its subsistence.

The prevalent obscure, and in some respects erroneous, notions concerning the spiritual world, and respecting the natural world, as regards its creation, are unfavourable to such an opinion. The spiritual world is almost universally conceived of as a mere expanse, of which nothing like form or substantiality is predicable. This idea of the spiritual world appears to have been derived from the common fallacy of supposing everything unsubstantial which is not perceivable by the bodily senses. A similar idea is also perhaps impressed on the minds of the most simple respecting some of the most powerful agents in nature; but those of deeper research know that the invisible powers of nature are not the less entitled to the name of substances than the gross matter which we tread upon. In Scripture heaven is described in language equally expressive of substantiality with the natural, but the descriptions are generally regarded as figurative. Nothing possible is believed to be deducible from Scripture on the subject; and we can only therefore hope to make an impression on the mind by reason and analogy. Reason is undoubtedly in favour of the idea that the world, which is highest in the scale of creation, should be the most perfect;

and that, as it was created to be the abode of human beings in a higher stage of existence, it should be in its nature as much more perfect than the natural world, as the human soul is more perfect than the human body, or as spiritual beings are more perfect than material.

But another obstacle to the admission of the idea that the natural world is but an effect from the spiritual world, is the notion that the world was created out of nothing by the mere fiat of the Almighty. This opinion has not been derived from the Word; but has been adopted in opposition to the doctrine of atheism, that the world always existed, or was formed by chance out of pre-existing matter. In order to escape the Scylla of one error the Church has rushed into the Charybdis of another. Every one who thinks from reason can see that the universe was not created out of nothing, because he can see that out of nothing nothing can come ; for nothing is nothing, and to make anything out of nothing is a contradiction, and a contradiction is contrary to the light of truth which is from the Divine Wisdom; and whatever is from the Divine Wisdom exists in and by the Divine omnipotence. It may be asked, then, from what was the universe produced? We may answer in the words of the Apostle-"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God so that things that are seen were not made of things which do appear." In these words the Apostle, while he states that the world was not made out of any pre-existing natural substances, such as those which the earth is seen to be composed of, yet does not by any means say that the world was made out of nothing. On the contrary, he leaves it to be inferred that the worlds were made out of things which do not appear. And what are those things but such as are spiritual, which do not appear to the natural eye? To say that natural substances were formed from spiritual substances will no doubt in some minds excite surprise. But it is to be considered that it is not contrary to our ideas of the order of creation, even as we see it manifested in natural things, that one thing should be produced from another, as an effect from its efficient cause. That things in themselves spiritual should be the means whereby the Almighty gave existence to things natural, and thus that the spiritual world was the proximate cause of the natural, is agreeable to the order of the Divine operation. From God himself all things that exist must have proceeded—first, spiritual things, and by these natural things. "Every one who thinks from clear reason must see that all things were created out of a substance which is substance in itself; for this is the real principle of being

from which all things that are can exist; and as God is substance in itself, it is evident that the existence of all things is from no other source. Many have seen this, but feared to confirm it, fearing lest they might come to think that the created universe is God, because it is from God, or that nature exists from itself, and thus that the inmost principle of nature is what is called God." The great difficulty which is likely to present itself in regard to this view arises from thinking that, on this principle, nature is continuous from, and therefore a part of God. In God, however, all is uncreate and infinite; in nature all is created and finite. And in considering creation as the work of God, we ought to contemplate it as the effect of the Divine Life, producing for itself first spiritual and then natural things for its reception and manifestation.

With such views as these we may be enabled to see that creation, in all its gradations, must bear such a relation to the Divine Being as a work must bear to the end from which, and the intelligence by which, it is produced. The one great end which God undoubtedly had in view in creation was, to people heaven with happy beings, that His own perfection and bliss might be perpetually exhibited in, and enjoyed by His created image, man. All creation must be considered as a means to this end; and everything existing must, as it were, include it. All things in creation are not only subordinate and subservient to man as a natural being, but are actually effects, and consequently types of the moral qualities existing in his own mind, and are therefore auxiliary to his moral improvement, as well as conducive to his bodily support and temporal happiness. Man was indeed the last of the Divine works, and it may seem inconsistent to assert that all the lower subjects of creation are not only types of his moral qualities, but effects from them. But although man was the last created, he was the first in the Divine Mind in the beginning and progress of the Divine work; and into man were collected and concentrated all the elements, so to speak, of both the natural and spiritual worlds. In man, therefore, heaven and the world unite; in him the worlds of mind and of matter exist in epitome; and man is at once a subject of the spiritual and of the natural world.

When we assert that the spiritual world is a world of causes, we speak of it in its connection with the spirit of man, and thus consider it as the world of mind, as distinguished from the world of matter. This is not to be understood as implying what naturalists sometimes maintain, that there is no spiritual world, and no heaven as a place.

If the Scriptures are true, there is a world, the future conscious abode of man as a purely spiritual being, as real at least as that which he inhabits while in the body.

In whatever form or condition matter may be supposed to exist, it is in itself dead; and all the life by which it is animated is in its nature spiritual, and is derived continually from spirit. The sun indeed, by its heat and light, seems to animate the whole creation, and not only to delight our senses, but to exhilarate our minds. But in these effects the sun is but the medium by which life from God, through the sun of the spiritual world, operates those effects. The sun of the natural world is pure fire, and incapable of producing those effects independently of a continually operating spiritual cause. Nor can organization give to matter any power of operating independently of a living and active spiritual cause. Life and organization are two distinct things, and organization is not the cause, but the effect of life. There is, in. deed, but one Life, and God is that Life; and this by influx is the life of all that live. To ascribe any cause to nature is to ascribe a living power to a dead form; for whatever is merely natural is dead, and all the life which it possesses is not from itself, or in itself, but from above. One grand distinction between the Creator and His creation is this, that the Creator is Life, and the creature is a recipient of life. Life is uncreatable. Life is not given by creation, but by influx. Life is no more a part of the organism than light is a part of the eye, or sound of the ear. In God we live and move, and have our being. But while the Creator constantly imparts life to us, which is as the sun that warms us and the air we breathe, He gives it by an influx that leaves us the sense of independent existence. He does not oppress us with a sense of obligation. This would take away our freedom, and leave us no exercise for our reason, and no choice for our will. But while taking away the sense of our dependence, He has given us the faculty of discernment, and taught us by Revelation the nature of the relation we bear to Him. And not only so, but He has shown to us that our true welfare and happiness depend on our recognising Him to be the author of our existence and the sustainer of our life.

When we regard creation, not as called into existence by a mere fiat of the Divine will, but as an outbirth from His Love and Wisdom, we can see that it must be in a certain sense an image of the Divine Mind which produced it. Not indeed such an image as man is-not, as he is, a likeness. But that which is formed must bear the impress of the mind which formed it. And that Mind which formed the

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