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The great Creator of the world, having all things virtually in himself, needed neither matter nor instruments in order to produce them. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. These were his levers and tools, the word of the Lord, or that effectual act of his will which gave being to all things. “The mighty Lord of all called directly to his holy, intelligent, and creating word, Let there be a sun, and a sun immediately appeared.” Here he spake, and it was done. « The word and the effect showed themselves together.” If you ask what moved infinite goodness to perform this great work, 1 answer, that very goodness you mention; for if, as they say, it is the nature of good. ness to be always communicative, that goodness, to be sure, must be the most diffusive, which is in itself the greatest, the richest, and so very immense, that it cannot be in the least diminished, much less exhausted, by the greatest munificence. Here there is no danger that that should bappen, which Cicero prudently cautions us against, in the case of human goodness, namely, that “liberality should undo itself !” for that liberality must be immortal and endless, the treasures whereof are infinite.
Nor is it to be doubted, but from this very goodness together with the immense power and wisdom which shine forth so brightly in the creation and all the creatures, an immense weight of glory is reflected upon the Creator himself, who is the source of all these perfections. Nor must it be denied, that the manifold wisdom of God proposed this end likewise. And there is nothing more certain, than that from all these taken together, his works, his benevolent and diffusive goodness, his power and wisdom illustrated in the creation, and the glory that continually results therefrom; from his wise counsels, and his own most perfect nature, whence all these things flow; nothing is more certain, I say, than that from all these taken together, the divine Majesty enjoys an eternal and inexpressible delight and satisfaction. And thus all things return to that vast and immense ocean, from whence they at first took their rise, according to the expression in the Proverbs, He hath made all things for himself. And the words of the song in the Revelations are most express to this purpose; Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power ; for thou hast created all things, and
for thy pleasure they are and were created. Nor could it indeed be otherwise, than that he who is the beginning of all things, should also be the end of all; a wonderful beginning without a beginning, and an end without an end. So that, as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews reasons concerning the oath of God, As he could sware by no greater, he sware by himself ; in like manner we may argue here, as he could propose no greater end or design, he proposed himself. It was the saying of Epicurus, that “the wise man does every thing for his own sake.” We who are otherwise taught, should rather say, that the wise man does nothing for his own sake, but all for that of God. But certainly the most exalted and the wisest of all beings, because he is so, must of necessity do all things for himself; yet at the same time, all his dispensations towards his creatures are most bountiful and benevolent.
That the world was made directly and immediately for man is the doctrine, not only of the Stoics, but also of the master of the Peripatetic school. “We are,” says he, “ in some respect, the end of all things ;” and in another place, “Nature has made all things for the sake of man.” Cicero speaks to the same purpose; and Lactantius more fully than either. But Moses gives the greatest light on this subject, not only in his history of the creation, but also in Deuteronomy, wherein he warns the Israelites against worshiping angels for this reason; because, says he, • They were created for the service of man.” And the sun, in Hebrew, is called Shemesh, which signifies a servant.
But O whither do our hearts stray? Ought we not to dwell upon this pleasant contemplation, and even die in it? I should choose to be quite lost in it, and to be rendered altogether insensible, and, as it were, dead to these earthly trifles that make a noise around us. O sweet reciprocation of mutual delights! The Lord shall rejoice in his works, says the psalmist; and presently after, My meditation of him shall be sweet. I will be glad in the Lord. Let us look sometimes to the heavens, sometimes to the sea and the earth, with the animals and plants that are therein, and very often to ourselves ; and in all these, and in every thing else, but in ourselves particularly, let us contemplate God the common Father of all and our most exalted Creator, and let our contemplation excite our love
They who have sent the ignorant and unlearned to pictures and images, as books proper for their instruction, have not acted very wisely; nor has that expedient turned out happily or luckily for the advantage of that part of mankind. But surely this great volume or system, which is always open and exposed to the view of all, is admirably adapted to the instruction both of the vulgar and the wise; so that Chrysostom had good reason to call it, “ The great book for the learned and unlearned.” And the saying of St. Basil is very much to the purpose :
" From the beauty of those things which are obvious to the eyes of all, we acknowledge that his inexpressible beauty excels that of all the creatures; and from the magnitude of those visible bodies that surround us we conclude the infinite and immense goodness of their Creator, whose plenitude of
power exceeds all thought, as well as expression.”.
For this very end, it evidently appears that all things were made, and we are the only visible beings that are capable of this contemplation. “ The world,” says St. Basil, “is a school, or seminary, very proper for the instruction of rational souls in the knowledge of God.” We have also the angels, those ministers of fire, to be spectators with us on this theatre. But will any of us venture to conjecture what they felt, and what admiration seized them, when they beheld those new kinds of creatures rising into being, and those unexpected scenes that were successively added to the preceding ones, on each of the six days of that first remarkable week, when He laid the foundations of the earth, and placed the corner stone thereof; when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? But-o the stupidity of mankind !
All those stupendous objects are daily around us, but, because they are constantly exposed to our view, they never affect our minds: so natural is it for us to admire new, rather than grand, objects. Therefore the vast multitude of stars which diversify the beauty of this immense body, does not call the people together; but when any change happens therein, the eyes of all are fixed upon the heavens. “ Nobody looks at the sun but when he is obscured ; nohody observes the moon, but when she is eclipsed; then nature seems to be in danger ; then vain superstition is alarmed, and every one is afraid for hiniself.”
surely,” says St. Bernard, concerning the sun and moon, “ these are great miracles, very great to be sure, but the first production or creation of all things is a vast miracle, and makes it easy to believe all the rest; so that after it nothing ought to excite our wonder.
of the Creation of Man. This great theatre being built, besides those spectators who had been but lately placed in the higher seats, it pleased the supreme Creator and Lord to have another company below, as it were, in the area; these be called forth into being,by creation, and man was introduced into this area, “to be a spectator of him, and of his works, yet not a spectator only, but also to be the interpreter of them.” Nor yet was man placed therein merely to be a spectator and an interpreter; but also in a great measure, to be possessor and lord thereof, or, as it were, the Creator's substitute, in a spacious and convenient house, ready built, and stored with all sorts of useful furniture.
Now that man himself is a grand and noble piece of workmanship appears even from this circumstance, that the most wise Operator, when he was going to create him, thought fit to preface his design with these words, Let us make man ; so that he was created, not merely by a word of command, like the rest of the creatures, but
by a consultation of the blessed Trinity.”
Aud indeed man is a wonderful composition, the conjunction of heaven and earth" the breath of God, and the dust of the ground”—the bond of union between the visible and the invisible world-and truly a " world in miniature, a kind of mixed world, nearly related to the other two." Nor is he only a lively epitomne and representation of the greater world, but also dignified with the image of his great Creator. He made the heavens and the earth, the sea and the stars, and then all sorts of living creatures ; but in the words of the poet, “ A more divine creature, and more capable of elevated sentiments, was yet wanting, and one that could rule over the rest; therefore man was born.”
The rest of the creatures, according to the observation of the schoolmen, which is not amiss, bad the impression of the divine foot stamped upon them, but not the image of the Deity. These he created, and reviewing them, found them to be good, yet he did not rest in them ; but, upon the creation of man, the sabbath immediately followed. He made man, and then rested, having a creature capable of knowing that he was his Creator, one that could worship him and celebrate his sabbath, whose sins, if he should commit any, he might forgive; and send, clothed with human nature, his only begotten Son in whom he is absolutely well pleased, and over whom as the person who fulfilled his good pleasure he rejoices for ever, to redeem his favourite creature. By the production of man, the supreme Creator exhibited himself in the most admirable light, and, at the same time, had a creature capable of admiring and loving him; and, as St. Ambrose observes,
one that was under obligation to love his Creator the more ardently, the more wonderfully he perceived himself to be made.” “And man,” says the same author, made a twofooted animal, that he might be as it were one of the inhabitants of the air, that he might aspire at high things, and Hly with the wings of sublime thoughts.”
And indeed the structure of man is an instance of wonderful art and ingenuity, whether you consider the symmetry of bis whole fabric taken together, or all his parts and 'members separately. Gregory Nyssen speaks very much to the purpose,
"The frame of man is awful and hard to be explained, and contains in it lively representation of many of the hidden mysteries of God." How wonderful is even the structure of his body!' which, after all, is but the earthen case of his soul. Accordingly, it is in the Chaldaic language called " Nidne,” which signifies a sbeatb. How far does the workmanship exceed the inaterials! And how justly may we say, “What a glorious creature out of the meanest elements !” The psalmist's mind seems to have dwelt upon this meditation till he was quite lost in it; How fearfully, says he, and wonderfully am I made! And that celebrated physician who studied nature with such unwearied application, in his book upon the structure of the human body, in which after all there is nothing divine, often expresses
when he says,