Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

But this change arises not from any mutability in God, but from the immutability of his nature; for, as the perfections of God were bound to protect and preserve those who were dependent upon him, so, by the same immutability of his nature, God was bound to withdraw his protection from them, when they departed from that station in which his goodness had placed them, and engaged to protect them. As God manifests his love to all who are found in the way of holiness, and manifests his hatred to all who are found in the way of vice, it is evident that a continuance in the way of holiness is necessary to the continuance of his favour:and we can no more conceive that these cases can be reversed while the nature of God remains immutable, than we can conceive the same thing to be and not to be in the same instant.

If God direct his love to A. and to the inhabitants of A. and his hatred to B. and to the inhabitants of B. we have the case precisely laid down before us; and we see with exactness the true situations of the respective inhabitants both of A. and B. But if the inhabitants of A. should retire from their station, and depart to B. it is evident that they would go from love to hatred, and yet be under the same God, who was, and is, and ever shall be, unchangeable in all his ways. And hence we may clearly discover that apparent changeableness, and real immutability are perfectly compatible with one another as they refer to God. But as they affect màn, the conduct of God is really changed towards him, notwithstanding God is in himself eternal and unchangeable, in all his ways.

Nor are these reasonings confined exclusively to a moral view of man. They will apply with equal force to all his bodily as well as mental powers, For as the human body formed a conspicuous part of creation, and as the life of man was guaranteed to him, on condition of his abstinence from moral evil, the perpetuity of the human body must have been included under this guarantee, and its dissolution on this ground must have been for ever unknown. The promise of life was suspended upon human obedience; and it extended no further, For as perpetuity of life was the reward of obedience, so death was in part the punishment of disobedience ; and as man by his departure from obedience, forfeited his claim to perpetuity of life, so by his disobedience he subjected himself to that dissolution of body, which was included in the punishment annexed to immora! action.

Thus may we see in one view the origin of the dissolution of our bodies, while we contemplate the immutability of God. We see our dissolution originating in ourselves, while the immutability of God stands detached from every charge; we see his immutability engaged to protect rectitude, but nothing more; we see man departing from it, and thereby sinking into that dissolution, which, abstractedly from this circumstance, could never have existed,

If God, under the existence of present circumstances, were to perpetuate our bodies, he must depart from those rules of invariable rectitude, which are always inseparable from his ways; and his immutability, under the various changes of man, would

appear in a very questionable light. He must in this case change with his changeable creatures, and immutability will then no more attach to him than it does now to us. The conduct of God must in this case appear dependent upon the actions of man; controlled by caprice, and subjected to those directions which the wayward sallies of our passions would impose.

Bụt the conduct of God is fixed upon principles of a more permanent nature. The irregularities which are visible both in the moral and the natural world are attributable to other causes; while the immutability of God stands unimpeached. It is because we have retired from that station in which his goodness had placed us, and in which his iminutability had engaged to protect us, that our bodies die. And the evils of which we complain, do not overtake us because God is changeable, but because God is immutable in all his ways, and because we are changeable.

SECTION III.

That the Human Body must have been originally

Immortal, proved from the primeval State of Man, and the Immutability of God, considered together.

From those general views, which, in the preceding Section, we have taken of the immutability of God, and of those changes with which it is compatible, let

us now turn our attention to the same attribute, and consider it in connection with man in his primeval state; and the evidence in favour of primitive immortality, will perhaps appear in a conspicuous light. And, therefore, without inquiring into the motives or cause which induced God to create the world, I shall fix on the fact itself, and only presume that creation did take place. For whatever the cause or motives were, certain it is, that such cause and motives did exist, and hence Almighty Power and Goodness called the universe into being

That a design to create man did exist in God at the time of creation, is demonstrated by fact; and therefore a design to destroy the human body could not then have had a being. For if we suppose that a design to destroy the human body, did exist in God at the moment in which he created it, we must suppose him to have been actuated by two opposite designs, the one to create, and the other to destroy the thing created. But in thus supposing, we place the designs of God, not only in a state of hostility to each other, but in a state of hostility to his attributes; and we make a principle of immutability to produce designs, which, in the same moment, are destructive of each other. But since these suppositions are contrary to the divine perfections, and perfectly incompatible with the immutability of his nature, we must conclude, that those suppositions which are irreconcileable with the nature of God, are at once inapplicable to him, and false in fact. Hence then the conclusion

appears to be inevitable, that no design to destroy the hu

man body, could, at the moment of creation, have existed in God; and while we retain our idea of his immutability, we are precluded from admitting the possibility of any such subsequent design from taking place. For since, under our present consideration, man is presumed to sustain the same relative situation to God, which he sustained in the moment of his creation, no cause of a design to destroy him could originate with him. '!. And as God must be immutable in his nature, as has been proved in the preceding Section, we are forbidden to suppose that any such design could possibly originate with him. And hence it follows, that as no design to destroy the human body could, under actual and existing faets, have originated either with man or God; so no such design could possibly have, exist. ed; and, therefore the human body must have been exempted from dissolution and decay.

Indeed, while we admit God to be the creator of man, we must view him as an infinite Being, and consequently as one that is immutable; and while we consider him thus as an immutable Being, it will be impossible for us to admit the possibility, either of dissolution or death. For a man, standing precisely in the same situation in which he stood, when God first called him into existence, must have sustained the same relation to his maker; to suppose that he can be both created and destroyed, and yet uniformly in both cases sustain the same relation to the cause of both; while we admit, at the same time, the cause of both to be absolutely immutable,

« ForrigeFortsett »