« ElőzőTovább »
Julian Period, 4762. Volgar Era,
ST. PAUL PREACHES AT ATHENS-CHAP. XII.
25 Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though Athens.
If these hypotheses will not please, the last is perhaps more plausible, that the universe originated from the eternal laws of motion and matter. Such are the inconsistencies to which men are compelled to have recourse, when they forsake the fountain of living waters, and hew out to themselves the broken cisterns of false philosophy and science. If there are laws to matter, who is the lawgiver? As every house is builded by some man, so He who built all things is God: this is the only rational conclusion of Scripture and common sense, which have never yet been at variance.
Setting aside, therefore, all ideas of the eternity of matter, whether in its present or in any other state, we receive the lesser difficulty-that God reigned alone supreme before the borders of the world stood, or the innumerable company of angels were gathered together.
The Christian, then, who believes that a period has been when the Omnipotent alone existed, will not shrink from the questions of the boldest inquirer (c). He will not shrink from the question-If the world were made by a Deity, why was it not made by him sooner? or since it was unmade, why did He make it at all? Cur mundi ædificator repente extiterit innumerabilia ante sæcula dormierit (d)? How came this builder and architect of the world, to start up on a sudden, after he had slept for infinite ages, and bethink himself of making a world? Was something wanting to his happiness? Was he completely happy without this new world, then "wanting nothing," he made superfluous things (e)?
To these, and all such questions, we may answer-Although God was perfectly happy in himself, he created the world from bis overflowing goodness, that other beings, from the archangel to the lowest scale of created life, might be happy likewise. He created all things for his own glory, and of that glory the happiness of sentient beings is permitted to form a part; if they bad not been created, the sum of happiness would have been diminished. To the question if God's goodness were the cause of his making the world, why was it not made sooner? we might with equal propriety inquire, why was not the world an eternal emanation from an eternal cause? why was it not self-existent? As far as our faculties can comprehend God, we shall find that there is as great an impossibility that the world should be eternal, as that two and two should make five. If it was created, it must have had a beginning. Time, which is well defined by Locke to be only a measured portion of eternity, began at the commencement of the world; before which there was no sooner or later, which are indeed but terms to express the succession of ideas in the minds of finite beings. With the Deity is neither change, contingency, nor succession. To him the world was equally present, whether made or unmade. Space is the theatre, and eternity the duration of his agency in the universe; neither may we comprehend if any other causes may influence the divine will, than those which have been revealed to us. In this stage of our existence we are enabled to discover, both from revelation and reason, that the visible world was commanded to exist, and it existed. The curiosity of presumption which proposes the inquiry, for what reason the world was created a millenary earlier or later, cannot be satisfied with any answers of speculative philosophy,
When, however, we have established the certainty of the creation of the world; we are taught that the world itself is one great delusion, that matter does not exist.
Julian Pe- he needed any thing; seeing he giveth to all, life, and Athens. riod, 4762. breath, and all things;
"The existence of bodies," says Berkeley, "out of the mind perceiving them, is not only impossible, and a contradiction in terms, but were it possible, and even real, it were impossible we should ever know it." Or, in other words, when I am not in London, London does not exist. Religion, affection, law, duty, science, and all the arts of life, are founded on facts; but of the certainty that any one single fact has taken place, which the mind has not perceived, we have no demonstration, and consequently our belief in their reality may be erroneous.
"Thus the wisdom of philosophy is set in opposition to the common sense of mankind. Philosophy pretends to demonstrate that there can be no material world; that every object is merely a sensation in the mind, or an image of those sensations in the memory, and imagination; having, like pain and joy, no existence, unless thought of. Common sense can conceive no otherwise of this opinion than a kind of metaphysical lunacy, and concludes that too much learning is apt to make men mad (f)," &c. &c. It is, indeed, with some difficulty that men of sober judgment, unsophisticated by the delusions of these grave absurdities, can believe that men of talent and learning have been thus misled.
The arguments by which the system of Berkeley is defended are to be found in Reid's Inquiry into the Human Mind; Beattie on the Immutability of Truth; the Philosophical Essays of Dugald Stewart, with the Notes and Illustrations, p. 548, 549. 1st edit. 4to. and the Appendix to part second of Doddridge's Lectures, edited by Kippis. The subject is too extensive to be entered upon largely in this place. I shall content myself with mentioning the quibble upon which the whole controversy hinges.
All our knowledge, says Berkeley, is gained by the senses: but by the senses, we have knowledge of nothing, but our sensations: but our sensations are qualities of the mind, and have no resemblance therefore to any thing inanimate.
This system confounds two things, which are entirely distinct from each other: sensation and perception. Extension, figure, motion, are ideas of sensation, or they are not. If they are sensations only, Berkeley cannot be refuted, though he may be rejected if they are however ideas, accompanying sensations, as Hutcheson describes them, and Reid asserts, the ideal system is the dream of a visionary.
The word properties is generally used to express with greater accuracy the idea we may form of the creation of the world from nothing. Matter, says Locke, is the adherence of certain qualities in some unknown substratum. The idea of this imagined substratum is now exploded. If we define matter to be the adherence of properties, we may understand in what manner a visible creation might be formed, where no material substance had hitherto existed. God commanded this union of properties to take place. Extension, solidity, and motion, were combined with colour, variety, and order. As modern chemistry can dissolve water into its component airs, and the hardest substances into gases invisible to the human eye, and by other processes can change that which was before invisible to the eye, and imperceptible to the touch, into hard, solid (g) and tangible bodies; so, to compare great things with small, it is easily conceivable that Omnipotence might call every object of our senses to life, without previous material, as the chemist presents to the two senses of sight and touch an object hitherto imperceptible to
Julian Period, 4762.
ST. PAUL PREACHES AT ATHENS-CHAP. XII.
26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men, for Atheus. Valgar Æra, to dwell on all the face of the earth; and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us :
28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being;
both. As a rustic could not comprehend how the man of science
(a) See Horne's Critical Introduct. vol. i. p. 241 ; but on the subject of
31 Bishop Barrington suggests that this quotation might have
Κυδίς ἀθανάτων, πολυώνυμε, παγκρατὲς αἰεὶ
Duport, the once celebrated Greck professor, who translated
Magne Pater Divum, cui nomina multa sed una,
Julian Pe- 29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we Athens. riod, 4762. ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at ; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked; and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
33 So Paul departed from among them.
34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
From Athens St. Paul proceeds to Corinth, where he is
ACTS Xviii. 1—5.
1 After these things, Paul departed from Athens, and Corintit. came to Corinth :
2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in
Rex salve. Te nempe licet mortalibus ægris
32 Suetonius has made mention (a) of this banishment, with-
SILAS AND TIMOTHY JOIN ST. PAUL-CHAP. XII.
Julian Pe- 3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with Corinth. riod, 4762, them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were Vulgar Era,
4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
5 And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit 33, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ.
since it was common to all other foreigners who dwelt in Rome.
(a) Judæos Impulsore Chresto assidue tumultantes Roma expulit Sue-
33 The present reading of this passage in the Greek vulgate, is συνείχετο τῷ πνεύματι. Griesbach admits into the text, instead of τῷ πνεύματι, τῷ λόγω, on the authority of the Alexandrian and other MSS. The passage, therefore, with this reading, may mean, He was affected with the report which Silas and Timothy had brought to him from Macedonia. The Vulgate translates it, instabat verbo, pressed or urged the word. The late Dr. Gosset would read λóyw, with Griesbach, and translate the passage with Krebsius-magnà orationis vi disputabat. Bishop Pearce would paraphrase the passage thus:"And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul set himself together with them, wholly to the word; i.e. he was fully employed now that he had their assistance in preaching the Gospel, (called word, in chap. iv. 4. xxvi. 6. 32. and xvii. 11.) St. Luke seems to have intended to express here something relating to St. Paul, which was the consequence of the coming of Silas and Timotheus. We may therefore regard both these interpretations as correct. He pressed, or urged the word, after the arrival of Silas and Timothy, to the Jews in his preaching; and in his great anxiety on their account, he enforced it in his Epistle to the Thessalonians.