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than the supposition, that any thing could create itself; as this would involve the absurdity, that a thing acted to produce the most astonishing effect before it existed! and I need not remind you that this is a gross contradiction in terms. If it can therefore be proved that there was a time when the earth did not exist, the fact itself will prove that it has been created by some power independent of itself. To this object then, your attention is invited.
The doctrine which attempts to maintain the eternity of matter, must necessarily advocate the hypothesis that there has been an uninterrupted succession of beings like ourselves, without beginning; and the same would be true with respect to every kind of plant and animal which can be found upon the face of the globe. It will not, cannot be pretended, however, that this theory is supported by history, tradition, or philosophy; for all these require some original and well-attested facts for their support. These facts being unsupplied from any source, whatever, leaves the whole theory as a matter of mere unsupported conjecture. If any evidence, therefore, which opposes this conjecture, can be produced, the theory becomes inadmissible, and must be rejected as a groundless chimera, alike unworthy the confidence of the rational, and the support of the candid.
Every man now in existence, knows that he did not create, nor cause himself to be brought into being; and therefore has the demonstrative evidence that he must have been produced by some cause independent of him self. The same must, of necessity, be true with respect to every man that ever existed upon the face of the globe. You may trace the pedigree of man as far back as the power of imagination can possibly carry you, and the same fact is equally plain: So that it is utterly impossible to suppose a human being who had no beginning, or who was not produced by a cause independent of himself. A different theory might be pleaded with some color of plausibility, if there were any human beings that were not subject to organic dissolution: But the present constitution of man forbids the hypothesis. Reason, therefore, founded upon experience and observation, proves that there must have been a first man and first woman,
from whom the successive generations of the world must have had their origin. To say that they were the spontaneous productions of nature, is no solution of the difficulty which awaits the adorer of nature; for he is unable to point us to a single new being, or rather, species of animals, which has not existed for ages before. So that assertions of the spontaneous production of animals or plants, are disingenuous, and unauthorized by reason, nature and revelation.
To set this subject entirely at rest, and settle the controversy concerning the eternity of matter, or rather, the eternity of this globe, with all its furniture and beautiful order, we may appeal to the science of geology, as affording irrefragible evidence of a period when the earth which we inhabit was not formed, and when neither plant nor animal existed.
The most careful investigation has afforded satisfactory evidence that the interior substance of the earth has been deposited at different periods, and at periods when no organic substances were in being. Those primitive rocks which constitute the internal structure of the globe, are formed into distinct strata, and deposited according to their specific gravity. The granite, which is allowed to be the lowest and heaviest of all the strata that has ever been discovered; and the sienite, which is the next in order and specific gravity; afford-evident marks of having been once in a soluble or liquid state; since no other supposition will account for the order in which they are found, lying as they do in a horizontal position. These strata have been carefully examined by scientific observers; yet they have not been found to contain any remains of plants or animals. This fact renders it sufficiently evident that neither plants nor animals existed at the periods of their formation.
Passing on to the next stratum of rock, we find fossil remains of marine plants, and a few marine animals, in a state of petrifaction. This fact affords conclusive evidence that marine plants and animals existed before those which are found upon the land. In the next and following strata, we meet with various kinds of marine and land plants and animals, and in great abundance: No rea
son can be offered why land productions, such as plants and animals, should not be found in the third stratum of primitive rock, if they existed at the time when this stratum was formed. The conclusion therefore is irresistible, that they were not created till after this stratum was formed.
The science of geology, then, affords conclusive evidence, that there has been a time when neither plants nor animals had any existence; hence it becomes undeniable, that their creation was effected by some power that is infinitely above the utmost stretch of human comprehension. For it must be obvious that no human power can perpetuate existence after it is produced; and if so, it must be equally certain that no earthly power could ever originate existence itself: Hence we arrive at the undeniable conclusion, that some Being, or Power, perfectly independent of all the vast creation, must have existed anterior to it, and is its divine author.
The hypothesis, that the primitive rocks were once in a soluble or liquid state, may be rendered plain and obvious by a simple and easy experiment. Take an equal proportion of each stratum, and reduce them to an impalpable powder; place these in a glass tube or cylinder, with a quantity of water; agitate them by shaking, till they are in a state of perfect confusion or chaos; then place the vessel where it will be at rest, and in a short time the particles of each will settle according to their specific gravity, so as visibly to form the distinct strata, and in the precise order in which they are found in the bowels of the earth.
After the introduction of these facts and arguments, it may perhaps be acknowledged by skeptics, that all things visible had a beginning; and that they were produced by some wise and powerful, yet unknown CAUSE. And will such men still deny the being of God! About what are they contending? Certainly not about facts; but about mere words and names! A quibble, at which the most fastidious skeptic must blush in his sober and reflecting moments. For a being infinitely wise, and powerful and good, is held up by revelation, as the Author and preserv er of the universe.
In speaking of the divine character, it is proper to re
mark, that as the Author of all creation, he must have been uncreated, and therefore, existing of necessity from eternity. He must eternally have possessed all the attributes which now characterize him; since it would be as impossible for any being to produce his own attributes, as it would be to produce his own existence. It follows, therefore, that such a being must of necessity be perfectly independent of all contingencies in the mode of his existence; since no cause anterior to himself could have existed to determine what that mode of existence should be.Again. The Creator of all things must possess all his divine attributes to an unlimited extent; as no possible cause could have existed to prescribe any limits; since this hypothesis would suppose a cause prior to the first; which is a contradiction in terms. That God is omnipotent, is too clearly demonstrated by the countless variety and magnitude of his works, to admit of denial or doubt: And it is equally certain, that all other attributes which he may possess, are likewise unbounded, since no anterior being or power existed to give them limits. The primary or essential attributes which we ascribe to the Supreme Being, are wisdom, power and goodness. These are all testified by the works of creation and providence. His wisdom devised the perfect design of the vast creation, and provided for all possible contingencies which might transpire. His power insures the execution of all his designs, and upholds and sustains unnumbered worlds and beings And his infinite goodness takes delight in promoting and perfecting the happiness of his creatures. All other perfections which are supposed to dwell in him, are rather different displays of the power, wisdom and goodness of God, than original and primary attributes of the divine nature. Who can gaze upon the Solar System, or stretch his thoughts into the unbounded immensity of space, where millions of suns and systems are displayed, without feeling impressed with the deepest conviction of the magnificence of the wisdom and power of their divine Original! Well may we give vent to the sentiments of pious admiration, in the appropriate language of the Royal Psalmist "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handy work. Day unto day ut
tereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech, nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world." Ps. xix. 1-4. But we must leave this sublime field of unspeakable magnificence and beauty, to survey those works of the Creator which are within our more immediate reach.
Who can contemplate the innumerable beings of every form and of every grade, which people the globe; with all their diversity of wants and powers, and their admirable adaptation to all the purposes of activity and pleasure; together with the ample stores which an universal providence hath supplied to satisfy the wants of every living thing; and resist the conviction, that a Being infinitely wise and good has brought them into existence? Who can reflect upon the exquisite skill which is displayed in the configuration of the various organs of the human system; the perfection of all its parts to answer the purposes for which they were designed, and especially the incomparable workmanship and mechanical powers of the eye, and not be led to confess a wisdom and a hand divine in their formation ? Indeed, they display such evident marks of the power, wisdom and goodness of the Creator, that we are led to conclude that the most criminal stupidity alone, can fail to observe them with emotions of sincere pleasure and gratitude. How is it possible for an intelligent being to doubt the existence of God, when he beholds himself surrounded by such an infinite variety as must astonish every beholder, and which can scarcely fail to captivate the soul with admiration at the astonishing skill and contrivance which are every where displayed throughout the countless whole? In a word; the varying seasons of the year, loaded and crowned with the profusion of the divine bounty, join in sweet accordance with the voice of inspiration, in announcing that "God left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness."
What has been offered is deemed sufficient to show that the proofs afforded by physical science; and the metaphysical and philosophical evidences which are drawn from the open volume of nature and providence, render a