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Some who believe it is revealed in the Bible, yet think it ought not to be preached, or spoken of, as it is such a mysterious doctrine, and is so difficult and puzzling to many, and a stumbling block to them, rather than to their edification ; and is liable to be misimproved to bad purposes.
But such must be under a great mistake. It is dis. honourable to God, and to the Bible, to suppose any truth which he has there revealed, is of a bad tendency, and therefore ought not to be published ; yea, it is implicitly denying that the Bible is from God, and taking sides with the deist. Besides, there is a contradiction and absurdity in the supposition, that it is a truth, and yet has a bad tendency ; for this is impossible in the na. ture of things. That which has a bad tendency, is error and falsehood ; but truth has a direct contrary tendency and effect, wherever it is received.
It is true, this doctrine may be preached imprudently, it may be represented in a partial and improper light ; and so that the hearers will not understand it. No one can be justified for preaching this, or any other truth, in such a manner. But this is rather a reason why it should, with all other important truths, be thoroughly and fully preached, so that they who are disposed to attend, and willing to understand, may have opportunity to be instructed. It is doubtless better, if there can be a better in the case, not to preach it at all, than to do it to the halves, just mentioning it sometimes; for this is not the way to have it understood, but tends to raise prejudices against it. But the best and only wise way is, to preach it, and explain it clearly and fully, and give persons opportunity, more privately, to propose any objections they may have, that they may be removed.
And parents ought to be able and willing to teach it to their children ; to explain it and show them the reason of it, and the evidence there is in the scripture of the truth of it. And though they might not fully understand it in early age ; yet a foundation would be herehy laid for their making improvement in understanding, as they advance in years. It is not so difficult a doctrine, as many imagine, who perhaps never understood it them. selves, through strong prejudices, which they imbibed,
186 Concerning the Creation of the World. Part I.
before they were well instructed in it. A child of twelve or fourteen years old, who is carefully instructed, and will attend, is capable of understanding and seeing the evidence and reasonableness of this doctrine ; which must be believed as an important article of the christian faith, where the Bible is well understood ; however it be now, and has been, rejected by many, with the greatest contempt, boldness and assurance.
ÇONCERNING THE CREATION OF THE WORLD,
PARTICULARLY OF MAN.
GOD began to execute his infinitely wise and good plan, which he had formed and fixed, by his unchangea. ble purpose and decree, in the work of creation. the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Heaven and earth comprehend the whole creation, both that which is visible, and invisible, to man.
This is said to be in the beginning, to denote that creation, or every thing that is created, had a beginning, in opposition to being eternal, or without a beginning ; and because time and succession of existence then be. gan ; there being no other beginning of existence but this, and therefore no beginning before this, there being nothing before creation, but the Creator, whose existence is without beginning
The creation is great, extensive and manifold, and vastly exceeds our knowledge and comprehension : But God spake the whole into existence, from nothing, with infinite ease.
He said, " Let it be, and it was. Hc spake, and it was done : He commanded, and it stood fast.” The invisible heaven, which probably is intended when St. Paul speaks of the Third Heaven, and is called by Solomon, " The heaven of heavens,” was in this beginning created, and formed for the peculiar residence of God, who is said to have established his throne in the heavens, to be and dwell there ; and the place where angels dwell; their creation being comprehended in the creation of heaven. And this is the heaven to
which the redeemed will be received after the day of judgment, which our Saviour says, was “ prepared for them from the foundation of the world.” This heaven and ihe angels were created then ; but before this lower world was formed, and brought into order. Therefore it is represented by God, that when he created this earth, the angels were spectators of the work ; for these are the morning stars, and the sons of God, who are said to sing together and shout for joy, when the earth was formed.* God was pleased to create innumerable hosts of intelligent beings, with strong powers of mind, and large capacities, to be spectators of his works, and attend to the numerous worlds and creatures, as they rose into existence and order; and behold and admire infinite power, wisdom and goodness, manifested herein, and rejoice, adore and praise the Creator.
We have no knowledge of the existence of any other rational creatures besides angels and men : and therefore we have no reason to conclude there are any other. Men may suppose there are many other ranks or kinds of rational creatures ; but this, at most, is but mere conjecture. The supposition that there are no more, seems to have a more solid foundation, viz. that divine reyelation makes no mention of any such ; which it is reasonable to suppose it would, if there were any ; since all rational creatures, under the same moral government, must have some connection and concern with each other.
The angels are often brought into view in the holy scriptures; and they are represented as having a particular concern and interest in the future general judgment: Were there any other moral agents, they would have an equal concern in this judgment, and be members of the same society and kingdom of God, with the holy angels, and the redeemed from among men, or share in the punishment of the wicked : therefore, it is reasonable to suppose their existence, and some circumstances relating to them, would have been revealed, had there been any such creatures. The silence of the scriptures on this head is a sufficient reason to conclude, that angels and men are the only moral agents in the
Job xxxviii, 4, 7.
created universe ; or, at least, not to conclude there are any such, and to be silent about them.
If it should be said, that the supposition of innumerable ranks of rational creatures, beside angels and mien, represents God's moral kingdom vastly more grand and glorious, than if there were none but the latter : It may be observed, that we are not competent judges of the number which will best answer the ends of infinite wisdom. There must be some bounds set to the number of rational creatures; and how many soever are includ. ed in this number, there would be equal reason to suppose it would be better, and render the kingdom of God still more grand and glorious, to have innumerable myriads added to the number, as there is to suppose it would be better there should be more than angels and men. Therefore there is certainly no reason for such a supposition.
There are “ an innumerable company of angels,”. even when numbers, beyond our reckoning or conception, are left in sin and ruin. And who can have any adequate conception of the number of the human race, including all who have existed, and all who shall yet ex. ist, before the end of the world ! No man has any reason to think or suppose, that this number of intelligent moral agents, far beyond his conception, is not exactly sufficient, in the view of him whose understanding and wisdom are infinite, to answer all the ends of his moral government, and to render his eternal kingdom most complete, happy and glorious.
The number and magnitude of the various bodies, worlds and systems in the material universe, which we behold, or can imagine, do not render it certain, or in the least degree probable, that they are all, or any of them, inhabited by rational creatures. If we were certain that the fixed stars are all like the sun in our sys. tem, which give light and heat to as many vast bodies or worlds, as our sun does, and no more and that there are innumerable stars or suns, of this kind, invisible to us ; yet all these, and as many more as the most enlarged mind can imagine, may be no more, nor greater, than is proper and necessary to answer the ends, which infinite wisdom has in view, with respect to angels and
It is certain no man can determine they are not all necessary to answer the best ends, though there be no other ranks of rational creatures.
God was able, and could as easily create the whole world, and all creatures and things therein, and put them in the best form, and most perfect order at once, in the first moment of their existence, as to do it gradually, and by a progressive work; but the writings of Moses inform us, that he was pleased to be six days in creating the world, and finishing this stupendous work : And we are particularly told, in what manner and order this work was carried on, until the whole was finished. We may be sure there were wise and important ends to be answered, by creating in this manner, and taking up the time of six days, and no more, in this work, though we were not able to discover or imagine what they are. But we are not left wholly in the dark, with respect to this. It is evident from scripture, that the natural world is so adapted to the moral, that the former is a representation or emblem of the latter ; and that there is a designed analogy of the natural to the moral. This appears in that, in innumerable instances, reference is had to things in the natural world, and use is made of them, to represent and illustrate those of a moral kind, in the holy scriptures.
The darkness and chaotic state in which the materi. als of which the world was to be made, lay and were found : it being tohu bohu, without form and void, or emptiness, confusion and vanity, is a striking einblem of the moral state in which man is found, as the subject of redemption, from which a most perfect, beautiful and glorious kingdom is to be formed; which is therefore called a new creation, the new heavens and the new earth. Mankind are, in consequence of the first apostasy, in a state of moral confusion, disorder and darkness; of total ruin, emptiness and vanity. Redemption or the new creation, the kingdom of Christ, is formed out of these materials ; and, when brought to perfection, will be a most bright and glorious monument of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness : and will so vastly exceed the first creation in importance, duration, worth, beauty and glory, that the former work will be forgotten, and