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sign of the Creator in the formation of the animal, have ceased. And hence our idea of its life is easily inferred.
As to the life of the intellectual man--the life of the thinking and percipient spirit, the reader will have discovered that we understand it to consist in those actions appropriate to the design of the Creator in its original constitution. We reserve for another place the illustration and confirmation of this view of its nature.
THE CHARACTER OF THE SPIRIT'S
Whether the Spirit's agency in the production of life is immediate and con
tinuous, or consists in the establishment of certain laws--Gen. ii. 1, 2: Psalm cii. 21. —The creating and preserving agency of God not identical-Quotation from Boston-False assumption-Human language incapable of representing the precise character of the divine agencyExamples in illustration taken from the laws of nature-Re-production attributable to the Spirit's agency rather than to fixed laws—the infidel objection against particular providence-Common sense of more value in understanding this subject than atheistical philosophy—The false assumption of the objection Testimonies from scripture-Uses to be made of the great truth confirmed in this chapter-To beware of impertinently prying into the mysteries of the Spirit's agency—To learn how rich a zest it gives to the providence of God—How it illustrates the fact of election-And reminds us of the uncertainty of life, &c.
Perhaps it will be admitted, by some of our readers, that life flows from the Holy Spirit's agency, while it is affirmed that His agency is not immediate; but only exerted in the establishment of certain laws according to which it is preserved and propagated. This starts a question which has been ably handled by metaphysical writers. Whether conservation be a continual creation, was the form in which the question was once stated, it being contended, on the one hand, that the same agency of God which originally produced the material universe is necessary every moment for its preservation, so that if for one instant it should be withheld, the whole creation must relapse into its primitive non-entity;--while, on the other hand,
this was denied, by those who seemed to think that God, when he originally created matter, endowed it with certain properties or powers which enabled it to preserve itself. We can see no reason for supposing that the one or the other must necessarily be the fact.
The sacred scriptures certainly represent God as having ceased at the close of the sixth day to exert his creative power. “ Thus the heavens and the earth were finished and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made." And the Psalmist says, “Of old hast thou laid the foundations of the earth.”2 The great reason or recommendation of the observance of the Sabbath, is represented to consist in the divine example in the work of creation-God operating six days and then ceasing to operate, or resting, on the seventh. We certainly, from these facts, must conclude that the agency of God in creating, during those six days, was different from that which he exerted on the seventh. Yet, it is most true that God has an agency, in preserving and supporting all things which He has made. It does not however follow that the agency is of the same character. It is the agency of the same Being, we admit, but differently exerted; for we do not concede, that the agency of God can only be exerted in positive creative acts, which we must believe if we identify creation and conservation.
In one of the posthumous works of that excellent divine, Mr. Thos. Boston, he has undertaken to shew that these things are the same, and by the following mode of reasoning: “There is no necessary connection betwixt the creature's moments of duration: Ergo, &c. It follows not because I am this moment, therefore I shall be the next, for so I should be an eternal necessary Being, which is proper to God.” But although we admit his first position it does not follow that every successive act of God in sus
1. Gen, Ü 1, 2
2. Psalms cii. 26.
taining my being is a creative act. The following is a fair sample of metaphysical sophistry: “Nothing can give what it has not, we have not our being next moment: Ergo, &c. Exeeption our being is still the same in all moments. Answer. No otherwise than the water of Ettrick is the same it was this morning. Those things which may be separated are not the same; but my being in the moment A, may be separated from my being in the moment C, being annihilated in B, and created again in C. Now there is the same reason of all. My being this moment is necessary; for quicquid est quando est, necessario est; my being next moment is not necessary, for I may nihilated: ergo, they are not the same."
The whole force of their reasoning who maintain that ereation and preservation are the same specific acts of God, is derived from this assumption, that every positive act of God is the same. We cheerfully admit that the upholding all things by the word of the divine power, is a series of positive acts on the part of God; but does it therefore follow there is a new creation springing into being every successive moment? By no means. For cannot God diversify his acts and agency? Creation is the result of one volition on the part of God, that volition being accompanied with an exercise of his power. Preservation, at any moment, is the result of another volition, it being accompanied with another and correspondent effort of the divine power. If it seem inconceivable to us, and beneath the dignity of the divine Being, to suppose that he would be thus incessantly exercising His energies, we must remember, that human language cannot express accurately the fact in this case. We can have no idea of the mode of the divine existence, which is not by succession, but a
nor of the mode of the divine operation, which is, and must be, in some other way than according to the impulses of continued distinct
momentary volitions. What we therefore contend for, is, that creating and sustaining agency on the part of God, are different-the former being indeed instantaneous, but the latter continuous, and both exerted in some mysterious way, adapted to His own mysterious nature. In thus affirming we are not to be understood as making mere gratuitous assertions. For what, we ask, are the laws of nature as they are ordinarily termed ?
We talk, of gravitation, of various species of attraction, and of all the physical laws of nature, as of certain properties or powers inherent in different modifications of matter themselves. But who does not feel, that this is not satisfactory? When we say that the load-stone attracts iron, what do we mean? Do we mean that one piece of inert matter operates spontaneously on another? Or, that any material thing can have an influence, and effective operation, beyond itself-that some substance at the magnetic pole operates on the needle, which oscillates in my theodolite, hundreds and thousands of miles removed from it—that it can be in two different places at the same time? Certainly not. Some indeed, may attempt to explain the influence of one material object on another, and various have been the theories to account for the magnetic, electric, and galvanic, &c. energies which it is altogether unnecessary to cite here; but, whether the laws of fluids tending to an equilibrium resolvable into gravitation, or any one of the mechanical powers, be made the means of solving the phenomena, we must pronounce them all unsatisfactory
For, suppose that all the different modes of action observable among material substances be resolvable into grayitation, still we wish to know what is gravitation? Why do all bodies tend towards the centre of the earth, and mutually towards cach other, according to their respective densities and volumeg? How does the sun, at such an im.