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respondence with God in the heart of man; lighted up the creation with the blaze of the true altar; and "put a new song in its mouth, even a thanksgiving unto our God." Without those true notions of the Deity, which Christianity has imparted to us, it seems as if the human soul would be little the gainer by extending the bounds of natural knowledge. Every fresh discovery of the Creator's might, was only to place him at a further remove from man; every advance into the realms of infinity was so much loss to humanity, in the scale of comparative importance.
The sequestration of the Divine mind from man and his concerns was more peculiarly the fruit of the Epicurean physics, because the theology of that sect was entirely founded on the observation of material existences. And thus the philosophical poet describes the gloomy barrier of eternal separation:
Omnia enim per se Divum natura necesse est
The natural inquiries of the Stoic led him, it is true, to much nobler conceptions of the Deity; he saw the impresses of a Divine hand legibly traced in every part of the creation. He saw the motions of the heavens so certain, and the orders of the stars so established, and all things so fitted to their ends, that it was impossible to consider them as the effects of fortuitous force, or blind impulse; and from the glorious scene of God's works, he deduced the convincing testimonies of his providence, his wisdom, and his power. The same contemplation, also, tended to exalt him in his own opinion. "We alone, of all the animals," says the Stoic of Cicero, "have known the risings, settings, and courses of the stars: by man it is that the day, the month, and year is determined; that the eclipses of the sun and moon are known, and foretold to all futurity." And then, having shown how piety and justice, and all the other virtues, are connected with these considerations, he raises his good man to a pitch of blessedness equal to the celestials in all but their immortality.*
Thus the tumid philosophy of the Stoics placed man in a competition with the nature of the gods themselves, and strove to contract the distance between human and Divine, by dressing up the human soul in the attributes of Divinity. After all, however, its most gaudy trappings were borrowed from things of
* Cic. de Nat. Deor. lib. ii. 60, 61.
earthly composition and transitory tenure. "The whole dominion of this world's goods," says Cicero's Stoic, "is in man. The fields and the mountains are for our enjoyment. Ours are the rivers, and the lakes. We sow corn, and plant trees, and fertilize the earth by irrigation. We urge, direct, and alter the course of rivers. By the strength and contrivance of our hands we superinduce another nature upon nature itself. And does not the reasoning faculty of man penetrate even unto heaven itself?" And yet, in another mood of the Stoical vein, how different is the view presented us of all these high pretensions: "Man learns not," says Seneca, in his Natural Questions,t" to despise the stately piazzas, the roofs shining with ivory, the trimmed groves, and the pleasant rivulets conveyed to our houses, until he hath surveyed the whole world, and from his airy speculation looking down upon our little globe, covered in a great manner by the sea, and, where not so covered, squalid in its appearance, and either parched with heat, or frozen with cold, he saith to himself, is this that point which, by fire and sword, is divided among so many nations? O how ridiculous are the limits which confine mortal men! The Ister bounds the Dacians; the Strymon, the Thracians; the Euphrates, the Parthians; the Danube divides the Sarmatians and the Romans; the Rhine gives bounds to Germany; the Pyrenees, to France and Spain; and between Egypt and Ethiopia lie tracts immeasurable of sandy desarts: if human understanding were given to ants, would not they too divide their molehill into divers provinces?" And, in this strain, he proceeds comparing the diminutiveness of this little spot of earth, and all its assumed importance and imaginary grandeur, with the immensity of the space around us, where the swiftest planet is thirty years in accomplishing his journey; and room is given for the revolutions of countless stars. But is man degraded from his dignity by these views of the creation? Certainly not, according to the stoical hypothesis; for into the possession of these vast spaces the mind is admitted, if properly defecated from the things of this earth. Si expeditus levisque, ac contentus modico, emicuit. It must be previously prepared for this possession, by the contemplation of it; by having constantly and tranquilly meditated on these wonders of the upper regions, their glittering orbs, and their pure ethereal canopy as ultimately its own. There, when it arrives, it is to receive an instantaneous enlargement, and feel itself in its proper home, in communion with Divinity itself.
This is the compensation which the stoic philosophy, by far the most pure and consistent of ancient creeds, has found for our humiliated condition upon earth: in proportion as it vilifies this + Sen. Nat. Quæst. lib. i. Pref.
Cic. de Nat. Deor. ii. 60, 61.
globe and its petty transactions, it exalts the interior man above its polluted surface, and invests the soul with a sort of spiritual property in all the magnificent apparatus of heaven.
Qua niger astriferis connectitur axibus aër;
Fecit, et æternas animam conlegit in orbes.
Luc. Phars. lib. ix.
Astronomy, however, has not left to man the flattering belief that the heavenly bodies were made only to minister to him while on earth, or to shine for the recreation of his disembodied spirit. The progressive development of the analogies subsisting between our own globe, and those radiant orbs that spread their glory around us, has gradually induced the belief that they also have their inhabitants, who stand in a relation, moral or spiritual, similar or superior to our own, to the great Source of life and intelligence. Under the touch of this talisman, the painted heaven of the Stoics and Platonists vanishes, and in its stead, a countless multitude of real worlds press upon our aching vision; orbs upon orbs, suns upon suns, systems upon systems, succeed and defy calculation. So vast, so exhaustless is the scene, that if comparative magnitude were the measure of importance, and the regards of the Creator were proportioned as ours are, well might this spot of relative nothingness, which we call emphatically the world, be overlooked. Before the urgency of these considerations, the dignity of man expires like a vapour; and no longer any ground can be taken on which a single hope of future felicity, or even life, can be erected, but the infinite condescension of that only Potentate, who sits pavillioned in unapproachable and ineffable supremacy, beyond all these orbs, these suns, and these systems. In proportion as the optics of man are extended, and new worlds, new hosts of worlds, march into the field of view, numbers without number, in jubilant succession and never-ending pomp, the place of our own sojourn, upon which God himself, for the sake of its sinful inhabitants, hath, according to the Christian theology, descended in the flesh, and performed an act of mysterious grace, which angels desire to look into, has shrunk into a point, an atom, a scarcely appreciable and noticeable magnitude, in the vast interminable range of creation. Here then is a struggle, a jar, a collision, between the philosophy of man, and the propositions involved in the Christian scheme of grace and redemption. To reconcile what is great with what is little according to her notions of great and little, is difficult and startling to human wisdom. Measuring things by her own rule, and line, and compass, she cannot easily digest a plan of divinity which
brings infinite and finite into contact; alters the forms and magnitudes of moral objects; and presents to us a Being stooping from an altitude which no thought can scale, to a depth of commiseration which no line can fathom.
But, after all, the difficulty to which we have alluded is a difficulty of habit only. Christianity does no real violence to the laws of reason: she asks only of philosophy to correct her own prejudices, to control her vanity, to distinguish between human and Divine things, between what is spiritual and what is corporeal, what hath bounds and what hath none, between moral and material magnitudes, between an eye that never sleeps, an arm that never tires, thoughts that know no variableness or shadow of turning, and the qualities, powers, and predicaments of a being who can give no account of himself, "whose breath is in his nos trils;" who, under shelter of his covering of clay, feebly holds his perishing tenure of misery and mortality.
To show that philosophy, truly so called, is not at variance with the Christian scheme; that the modern astronomy, which, by the powerful aid of optical glasses, has so prodigiously extended the bounds of the visible creation, and so enlarged our conceptions of the greatness of Creation's Author, that it makes this earth appear, in relation to the shining myriads that surround it, as a single leaf in the shady forest, or as a particle of dust in the sultry plain, opposes no obstacle to the faith of the Scripture, but teaches us rather with the greater fervency to join the apostle in exclaiming, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" is the object of the book which we have now undertaken to review. Whether our author may not attach rather too much importance to the argument he so strenuously in this volume opposes, or whether, as we have heard it suggested, his own mind may not, at some period of his course in religious inquiry, have felt its force in a degree that still paints it upon his memory in a. more formidable shape than belongs to it, we will not inquire. We are sure that there is no objection so weak as to be unworthy of refutation, if it has at any time crossed the path of the Christian pilgrim, or given birth to an ephemeral doubt in the bosom of the pious, or hid for a moment the heavenly promise from the hope of a repentant sinner. Objections, too, vary in their impressions, according to the state of the recipient, or the complexions of different minds, or the situation of the vulnerable and vital parts of the mental frame: though cased in armour, from the head to the heel, the Christian safety consists in a never-ceasing apprehension of danger from within and from without. To prevent any ill effects upon the soundness of our religious principles, from an exercise of such general benefit, so invigorating to the faculties, so elevating to
the thoughts, and so entirely worthy of a being formed for contemplation, and "of large discourse," as an inquiry into the wonders of the creation, is another view in which the exertions of Dr. Chalmers rise to great importance. But sorrowful indeed would be the case, if an argument for God's forgetfulness of his creatures could be drawn from testimonies of his might;—if, by musing upon the immensity of his power, our confidence in the immensity of his love could be shaken ;-if, as the scene of creation expanded, the prospect of redemption were necessarily to become diminished in scope, in beneficence, or in brightness. Can it argue greater power to preserve than to create? Can we derive an inference of exhaustion from the display of infinitude, or is there any plausibility in the supposition that God can have overcharged himself by the magnitude, or minuteness, or multiplicity of his works; or that, for the repose of his Spirit, he requires a partial remission of care,—something of that sabbath of secluded ease, enjoyed by the gods of Epicurus?
We must frankly confess that we do not remember to have ever had to encounter this argument against the Christian doctrine of redemption; or, if we have by chance heard an allusion to it, we have given it no heed on account of its apparent insignificancy. We have stated our reasons, however, for thinking that it ought not to be neglected, and we are the more glad that Dr. Chalmers has deemed it a subject worthy of his exertions, because it has afforded him a field of display, well suited to the character of his genius. In this flowery field that genius has blossomed, like the Rose of Sharon, and spread its fragrance over all the land.
By being suddenly raised to literary eminence,—to that eminence which secures the public attention to whatever he may publish, an author is invested with a power, to which we cannot but attach a very solemn responsibility; and we think it matter of general congratulation, that this sort of moral power has, in the present instance, fallen into hands which are very likely to make it instrumental to human happiness. It happens but rarely, indeed, that fashion lends itself to the interests of religion, and fortunate is he who can borrow the wand of that enchanter, to charm the busy idlers of the world into a few hours of still attention to the plea of Heaven in behalf of their souls. Dr. Chalmers, by one effort of his pen, has leaped forth into fashion; the ear that has long refused to listen to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely, the ear which has hitherto heard nothing but the language of blandishment, or of blasphemy,-the ear, through which nothing has found its way but a false and flattering unction to the conscience, has, peradventure, under the spell of Dr. Chalmers' rhetoric, been opened