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is revolving around its own axis at the rate of a thousand miles an hour, and is rushing through space with the surprising velocity of 68,400 miles an hour; yet so smoothly does it make its revolutions, that so far from experiencing any jarring sensation, we are quite unconscious of its motion.
And there are myriads of other planets constantly moving like our own, each in its own sphere, and with so much order as never to diverge from their proper course, and never to occasion the slightest collision.
Is it not strange that any sane man, much more that any scientist could venture to ascribe the motion of the heavenly bodies to any power or intelligence intrinsic to them? The planets are composed of inert matter, and are purely passive in their operations. They have no more intrinsic intelligence or independent force than the clod on which I tread.
But it will be said that they move and are controlled by the laws of attraction and repulsion. Very well. But whence come these laws? A law presupposes a Lawgiver. And the Framer of the law is greater than the subject of the law. The existence of the laws of attraction and repulsion in matter demonstrates three important truths: 1°. the existence of a Lawgiver; 2°. of a Lawgiver distinct from and superior to matter; 3°. of a Being anterior to matter: for, matter never existed without laws, and He who controls it by laws, must have existed before it; otherwise He could not have given it laws at the instant of its creation.
If we admire Newton who discovered some secret laws of nature, how much more should we admire the divine Lawgiver whose wisdom framed these laws! If we praise an Herschel, a Secchi, and other astronomers, because they could calculate with precision the exact moment when a planet would reach a certain point in the heavens, how much more praise is due to the unerring Engineer who directs the course of the planets !
When we see a magnificent army march in review before us, and pass through a series of the most complicated evolutions with the utmost precision, we give expression to our admiration, and we applaud the General whose eagle eye surveys these movements, and whose voice directs them. And should we not pour forth our admiration for the Lord of hosts, when we see marshalled before Him the army of heaven whose concerted movements are viewed by His sleepless eye, and directed by His sovereign will, and whose shining armor is but the reflection of His own transcendent splendor!
We may appropriately conclude this chapter in the words of Sir Isaac Newton: "The origin of the material world must be ascribed to the intelligence and wisdom of a most potent Being, always existing and present everywhere, who controls according to His good pleasure, all parts of the universe much more effectually than our soul controls by its will the movements of the body united to it."1
1Optics, B. III.
THE EXISTENCE OF GOD ATTESTED BY ALL NATIONS, ANCIENT AND MODERN.
When we take into consideration the luminous evidences of a Creator furnished by the order and motion of the planetary system, we are not surprised to find that mankind in every age and country, and in every condition of life, have recognized the existence of a Supreme Being. The most illustrious historians and writers of antiquity, as Aristotle declares, have testified to the belief of the human race in a Divinity. Herodotus and Plutarch among the historians; Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, and Seneca among the philosophers; Homer, Hesiod, Virgil, and Ovid among the poets, vouch for the truth of this assertion.
"If you traverse the earth," says Plutarch, "you may find cities without walls, or literature, or laws, or fixed habitations, or coin. But a city destitute of temples and gods-a city that employeth not prayers and oracles, that offereth not sacrifice to obtain blessings and avert evil, no one has ever seen, or ever shall see."1
1 Contra Coloten., C. XXXI.
In the opening chapter of Herodotus, Solon addresses Croesus in these words: "We ought to consider the end of everything in what way it will terminate; for the Deity, having shown a glimpse of happiness to many, has afterward utterly overthrown them." The whole work is pervaded by a recognition of a higher Power to whom religious worship was due.
"The earth," says Plato, "the sun and stars, and the universe itself, and the charming variety of the seasons, demonstrate the existence of a Divinity. Moreover, the barbarous nations unite with the Greeks in proclaiming this truth." Again he asserts: "No man has persisted from youth to old age in the opinion that there are no gods."1
"According to the avowal of the whole human race," says Aristotle, "God is the Cause and Principle of things.'
"There is no one so savage," observes Cicero, "as not to have his mind imbued with a sense of the Divinity. Among so many kinds of beings, there is no animal but man, that has any notion of God. And among men themselves, there is no race so wild. and untamed, as to be ignorant of the existence of God, though they may be ignorant of His attributes.”3
"We are accustomed," says Seneca, "to attach great importance to the universal belief of mankind. It is accepted by us as a convincing argument. That there are gods we infer from the sentiment engrafted in the human mind; nor has any nation ever been 1De Legibus, Lib. XI. 2 Metaphysics, II., 11, 820.
De Natura Deorum.
found, so far beyond the pale of law and civilization as to deny their existence."1
One day, after explaining the anatomy of the human body, Galen exclaimed: "I have offered to the Eternal a sacrifice more pleasing than goats or oxen."
Lucretius, an avowed atheist, extols his master Epicurus, as being the first who dared to raise his voice against religious worship.
The ancient Egyptians are among the most memorable for antiquity, and among the most conspicuous for mental culture of all the nations of the earth. That they also, in the early period of their history, recognized and adored one true God, is evident from the following doxology found among their oldest monuments:
"Hail to Thee, say all creatures;
Salutation from every land;
To the height of heaven, to the breadth of the earth;
The gods adore Thy majesty.
The spirits Thou hast made, exalt Thee,
Rejoicing before the feet of their Begetter.
They cry out welcome to Thee,
Father of the father of all the gods;
Who raises the heavens, who fixes the earth.
Sovereign of life, health, and strength, Chief of the gods;
We whom Thou hast made, thank Thee, that Thou hast
We give to Thee praises for Thy mercy towards us." 2
2See Hoare's Religion of the Ancient Egyptians.