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deviation from truth.* The images of gold and silver, of wood and stone, which were made objects of religious attention, were originally representatives of those active agencies, by which God at first formed and now governs the passive materials of that universe, which he had, by an immediate exertion of omnipotence, created.
* See British Review. Vol. 8. p. 359, &c. ; and Macknight's Diss. on the Eleusinian Mysteries, prefixed to his comment on the Epistle to the Ephesians.
+ This noun (718) became a title of the sun; incessantly active in the constancy and rapidity of the apparent diurnal and annual motions (“ rejoicing as a Giant to run his course"), in the perpetual propagation of light and heat to the utmost limits of the universe, and in his genial influences on all nature, as the first physical principle of fecundity in the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms. These physical powers which properly indeed belong to the sun, as an instrument in the hand of God, the ancient idolaters ascribed to that luminary, as inherent in itself, independent of the Creator; for they made it selfexistent, Autopuns. (Orph. H. v. line 3.) By its influences in nature, they made it the author of all good to the good, and of all evil to the bad. At last they ascribed to it intelligence and will ; at least they spoke of it as intelligent, and made it the sovereign of the moral, as well as of the material world. These various powers are distinctly expressed in the epithets ascribed to the sun in the Orphic invocation : Αυτοφυης, ακαμα,
Κρασιν εχων ωρων-
Δεσποτα κοσμ8, ,
Orph. H. v. Horsley on Hos. ir. Note (F.) See also Maurice's Indian Antiquities. Vol. iv. P. 20. 21.
Delightful to my mind, my dear friend, is this view of the works of God. It connects every science with Divinity. It illustrates, in a way adapted to our nature, the gracious agency of the TRIUNE JEHOVAH on the fallen mind of man, and perhaps also on unembodied and disembodied spirits, by the triune agency of material influence on the macrocosm of the universe and the microcosin of the human frame; and indeed on every animal, and on every plant with which the earth is furnished. All these “ live and move,* and have their being,” by union with external influence adapted to their nature, and by being the subjects of that influence; while spiritual subsistences derive all their spiritual life and power of motion, I mean all their conformity to God and active subservience to his glory, from his own more immediate influence upon them.
In my future communications on this interesting subject, if life and leisure should allow me to comply with your request, you must not expect from me more than an outline of the several topics which I may introduce to your notice, with a reference to authors who have filled up that outline ; and in selecting topics for such references, it is my intention to follow the order of Scripture, without any systematic arrangement;
* Not that plants are possessed of any power of loco-motion ; but their sap circulates, and their stature increases, by the infiuence of the celestial fluid.
you will already have understood that, though I do not consider the Scripture to have been written for the primary purpose of conveying to man a knowledge of nature, yet I do consider that knowledge as an important handmaid to religion ; that the Scriptures have, in a subordinate view, dwelt largely on natural subjects; and that they always speak concerning them with correctness. If human systems, whether philosophical or theological, “ speak not according to “ this rule, it is because there is no light in them."*
I am convinced that our Lord's intimation of the temper of mind in which our studies should be pursued, will apply to all subjects. “ man will do” (Gr. is disposed to do) “ the will of God, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.” If the study of nature were pursued with the purpose of obtaining the beatifying knowledge of its adorable Author; and if the knowledge of Scripture doctrine were
« If any
* “ I confess it appears to me no very probable supposition, (and it is, as I conceive, a mere supposition, not yet confirmed by any one clear instance), that an inspired writer should be permitted in his religious discourses to affirm a false proposition in any subject, or in any history to misrepresent a fact ; so that I would not easily, nor indeed without the conviction of the most cogent proof, embrace any notion in philosophy, or attend to any historical relation, which should be evidently and in itself repugnant to an explicit assertion of any of the sacred writers, &c. &c.” Horsley's Sermons. No. xrxix. on Eccles. xii. 7.
pursued with a devout spirit and a practical aim; our studies would be more successful, and more satisfactory than they are. “ To know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent, is eternal life.”* To a being who is only a sojourner on earth, and who is a candidate for everlasting glory, an acquaintance with the structure and system of a region in which he is to make so short a stay, is only valuable as it may
be made subservient to his ultimate destination. When an exchange of worlds takes place, his knowledge of natural shadows, unless it have aided his knowledge of spiritual realities, will prove to have been an unprofitable acquirement, and the time spent in its pursuit, to have been squandered. Let us try, my friend, to connect eternity with every employment of our minds, remembering that “ one thing is needful,” and that the only valuable portion is that which cannot be taken away from us. Praying that all our studies may be consecrated at the foot of
I remain, your's faithfully,
* John xvii. 3. See Faber's Three Dispensations. Vol. ii. p. 368, &c. ; where the reader will find a complete answer to the antitrinitarian inference which has been drawn from this text.
THE SOLAR SYSTEM A SELF-MOVING
MY DEAR FRIEND, In commencing a second letter on the subject which
you have assigned me, I feel more deeply than before my utter incompetency to do any thing like justice to it. The wide range which it takes through nature and revelation alarms me, while, standing as it were on an eminence I take a prospective view of what is before me. however, endeavour to give you an outline, leaving you to fill it up by a perusal of books, which have been written by persons competent to the undertaking. It will be your duty in reading them to exercise the important faculty of discretion, by separating truth from falsehood; a faculty of which the Hebrew Scriptures recommend the cultivation, using a term which may
be strictly rendered by the English word discretion or discernment.*
It seems necessary before I refer you to those parts of divine revelation, which to me appear to require a physico-theological interpretation, that I should state the principles by which that
1721a division or distinction. See The PROVERB8 passim.