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It is not surprising that the truths contained in a reve lation from heaven should be beyond our grasp. We cannot even fairly grasp the truths relating to the mere physical motions of this earth. We know, for instance, that the distinction downward is only towards the earth. Now let your imagination extend half round the globe. Think of the people who are standing upon it, exactly opposite to ourselves, and try to realize that downward is towards the earth there. You believe it, I know; but can you, in the expressive phrase of children, make it seem so?

Again, you know, if you believe that the earth revolves, that the room you are in revolves with it, and that consequently it was, six hours ago, in a position the reverse of what it now is-so that the floor was in a direction corresponding to that of the walls now. Now can you, by any mental effort, realize this? Or will you acknowledge that even this simple astronomical subject is beyond your grasp?

Once more. Suppose the earth and sun and stars were all annihilated, and one small ball existed alone in space. You can imagine this state of things for a moment. Now there would be, as you well know, if you have the slightest astronomical knowledge, no down or up in such case, for there would be no central body to attract. Now when you fancy this ball thus floating in empty space, can you realize that there would be no tendency in it to move in one direction rather than another? You may believe that it would not move; but fix your mind upon it for a moment, and then look off from it, first in one direction, then in another, until you have looked in every direction, and can you make all these seem the same? No; we cannot divest ourselves of the impression that one of these is more properly up, and the other more properly down, though the slightest astronomical knowledge will convince us that this impression is a mere delusion. Even this simple and unquestionable truth is beyond the grasp of the human mind, at least until after

it has, by very long contemplation on such subjects, divested itself of the prejudices of the senses.

Is it surprising, then, that when a revelation comes to us from a world which is entirely unseen and unknown, describing to us in some degree God's character and the principles of his government, there should be many things in it which we cannot now understand? No. There are, and from the nature of the case must be, a thousand difficulties insuperable to us at present. Now if we do not cordially feel and admit this, we shall waste much time in needless perplexity. My object, in this chapter, is to convince all who read it, that they must expect to find difficulties, insuperable difficulties, in the various aspects of religious truth, and to try to persuade you to admit this, and to repose quietly in acknowledged ignorance, in those cases where the human mind cannot know. The difficulties are never questions of practical duty, and sometimes are very remotely connected with any religious truth. Some of them I shall however describe, not with the design of explaining them, because I purposely collect such as I believe cannot be explained satisfactorily to young persons, but with the design of bringing all cordially to feel that they must be ignorant, and that they may as well acknowledge their ignorance at once.

First difficulty. It is a common opinion that God existed before the creation of the world, alone and unemployed from eternity. Now the difficulty is this: How could a being who was infinite in benevolence and power waste all that time, when it might have been employed in making millions and millions happy? The creation was not far from six thousand years ago, and six thousand years, compared with the eternity beyond, are nothing. So that it would seem that almost the whole of the existence of a benevolent and omnipotent Being, who delights in doing good and promoting happiness, has been spent in doing nothing.

Perhaps some one will make an effort to escape from the

difficulty by supposing, what is very probably true, that other worlds were created long before this. But let such an one consider, that however remote the first creation may have been, there is beyond it, so far as we can see, an eternity of solitude and inaction.

Remember, I say so far as we can see, for I am far from believing that Jehovah has ever wasted time. I know nothing about it; I can see and reason just far enough to perceive that the whole subject is beyond my grasp, and I leave it, contented not to know, and not to pretend to know any thing about it.

After reading these remarks at one time to an assembly of young persons, several of them gathered around me, and attempted to show that there was in fact no difficulty in this first case.

"Why," said I, "what explanation have you?"

"I think," was the reply, "that God might have been creating worlds from all eternity, and thus never have been unemployed."

"If that had been the case," replied I, "would or would not some one of these worlds have been eternal ?"

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'Yes, sir,” they all answered with one voice.

"Then you suppose that some of these worlds were eternal and others not. The first which were created had no beginning; but after a time, according to this hypothesis, Jehovah began to create them at definite periods. This is evidently absurd. Besides, those which were eternal must have existed as long as God has existed; and if you admit that, it seems that you must admit that they are independent of God; for if they have existed for ever, they could not have been created."

One of the party attempted to avoid this by saying, that though the whole series of creations has been eternal, yet that every particular creation may have been at some definite point of time; so that each one world has had

but a limited existence, though the whole series has been eternal.

"But," said I, "can you conceive, clearly conceive, of an eternal series of creations of matter, without believing that some matter itself is eternal? And if you suppose matter itself to be eternal, can you understand how God can have created that which has existed as long as he has himself?"

This was the substance of the conversation, which, however, in all its details, occupied half an hour. And I believe all who engaged in it cordially acknowledged that the whole subject was entirely beyond the grasp of their minds.

As this book may fall into the hands of some theological scholar, I beg that he will bear in mind that I do not present this subject as one that would perplex him, but as one which must perplex the young. I maintain, that whatever trained metaphysicians may understand, or fancy that they can understand, it is entirely beyond the reach of such minds as those for whom this book is intended.

Second difficulty. When in a still and cloudless summer evening you have looked upon the stars of the sky, you have often wondered at the almost boundless extent of the creation. That faint star which twinkles so feebly that you almost fear that the next gentle breeze will extinguish it, or that the next light cloud will sweep it away, has burned with the same feeble but inextinguishable beam ever since the creation. The sun has blazed around the heavensstorms have agitated and wrecked the skies-the moon has waxed and waned over it; but it burns on the same. It may be obscured by some commotion of the elements for a time; but when cloud and storm have passed away, you will find it shining on unchanged, in the same place, and with the same brightness, and with precisely the same hue which it exhibited before the flood.

It is a great blazing sun, burning at its immense distance with inconceivable brightness and glory, probably surrounded by many worlds whose millions of inhabitants are cheered by its rays. Now, as you all well know, every star which twinkles in the sky, and thousands of others which the telescope alone brings to view, are probably thus surrounded by life and intelligence and happiness in ten thousand forms. Stand now under the open sky, and estimate as largely as you please the extent of the creation. However widely you may in imagination expand its boundaries, still it seems to human reason that it must have a limit. Now, go with me in imagination to that limit. Let us take our station at the remotest star, and look upon the one side into the regions which God has filled with intelligence and happiness; and on the other side into the far wider regions of gloomy darkness and solitude that lie beyond. Make the circle of the habitable universe as large as you will, how much more extensive, according to any ideas of space which we can form, must be the dreary waste beyond. The regions which God has filled by his works and plans dwindle to a little fertile island in the midst of a boundless ocean. But why is this? Who can explain or understand how a Being boundless in power and desirous of promoting the greatest possible amount of enjoyment, can leave so immense a portion unoccupied, and confine all his works to a region which, though immense to our conceptions, is, after all, but a little spot, a mere point, compared with the boundless expanse around?

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Now, I by no means believe that there is such an immense void as my reasoning seems to prove there must be. My object is to show, that in these subjects which are beyond our grasp, we may reason plausibly, and only plunge ourselves in difficulties without end. Therefore on such subjects I distrust all reasoning. I never reason on them except for the purpose of showing how utterly the

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