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ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE OMNIPOTENCE OF DEITY.
and to confirm the tmths they declared. It was not, for example, merely to display the energies of Almighty power, that the waters of the Red Sea were dried up hefore the thousands of Israel, Imt to give a solemn and striking attestation to all concerned, that the most high God had taken this people under liis peculiar protection—that he had appointed Moses as their leader and legislator—and that they were bound to receive and obey the statutes he delivered. The most appropriate and impressive illustrations of Omnipotence, are those which are taken from the permanent operations of Deity, which are visible every moment in the universe around us; or, in other words, those which are derived from a detail of the facts which have been observed in the material world, respecting magnitude and motion.
In the first place, the immense quantity of matter contained in the Univcrse,ipresents a most strikingdisplay of Almighty power. In endeavouring to form a definite notion on this subject, the mind is bewildered in its conceptions, and is at a loss where to begin or to end its Mcursions. In order toform something approximating to a well-defined idea, we must pursue a train of thought commencing witti those magnitudes which the mind ca.n easily grasp, proceeding through all the intermediate gradations of magnitude, and fixing the attention on every portion of the chain, till we arrive at the object or magnitude of which we wish to form a conception. We must endeavour, in the first place, toform a conception of the bulk of the world in which we dwell, which, though only a point in comparison of the whole material Universe, is, in reality, a most astonishing magnitude, which the mind cannot grasp without a laborious effort. We can form some definite idea of those protuberant masses we denominate hills, which rise above the surface of our plains; but were we transported to the mountainous scenery of Switzerland, to the stupendous range of the Andes in South America, or to the Himalayan mountains in India, where masses of earth and rocks, in every variety of shape>, extend several hundreds of miles in. different directions, and rear their projecting summits beyond the region of the clouds—we should find some difficulty in forming an adequate concept tionof the objects of our contemplation:
For, (to use the words of one who had been a spectator of such scenes,) "Amidst those tractless regions of intense silence and solitude, we cannot contemplate, but with feelings of awe and admiration, the enormous manses of variegated matter which lie arounfr, beneath and above us. The mind labours as it were to form a definite idea of those objects of oppressive grandeur, and feels unable to grasp the august objects which compose the surrounding scene." But what are all these mountainous masses, however variegated and sublime, when compared with the bulk of the whole earth? Were they hurled from their bases, and precipitated into the vast Pacific Ocean, they would all disappear in a moment, except perhaps a few projecting tops, which, like a number of small islands, might be seen rising a few fathoms above the surface of the waters. The earth is a globe, whose diameter is nearly 8,000 miles, and its circumference about 25,000, and, consequently, its surface contains nearly two hundred millions of square miles— a magnitude too great for the mind to take in at one conception. In order to form a tolerable conception of the whole, we must endeavour to take a leisurely survey of its different parts. Were we to take our station on the top of a mountain, of a moderate size, and survey the surrounding landscape, we should perceive an extent of view stretching 40 miles in every direction, forming a circle 80 miles in diameter, and 250 in circumference, and comprehending an area of 5,000 squaTC miles. In such a situation, the terrestrial scene around and beneath us, consisting of hills and plains, towns and villages, rivers and lakes—would form one of the largest objects which the eye, or even the imagination, can steadily grasp at one time. But such an object, grand and extensive as it is, forms no more than the forty thousandth part of the terraqueous* globe; so that before we can acquire an adequate conception -of the magnitude of our own world, we must conceive 40,000 landscapes, of a similar extent, to pass in review before us.—And, were a scene, of the magnitude now stated, to pass before us every hour, till all the diversified scenery of the earth were brought under our view, and were 12 hours'a day allotted for the observation, it would require 9 years and 48 days before the whole surface of the globe could be contemplated, even in this general and rapid manner. Rut such a variety of successive landscapes passing before tlie eye, even although it were possible to be realized, would convey only a very vague and imperfect conception of the scenery of our world; for objects at the distance of 40 miles cannot be distinctly perceived; the only view which would be satisfactory would be, that which is comprehended within the range of three or four miles from the spectator.
Again, we liave already stated, that the surface of the earth contains nearly 200,000,000 of square miles. Now, were a person to set out on a minute survey of the terraqueous globe, and to travel till he passed along every square mile on its surface, and to continue his route without intermission, at the rate of 30 miles every day, it would require 18,264 years before he could finish his tour, and complete the survey of " this huge rotundity on which we tread:''— so that had he commenced his excursion on the day in which Adam was created, and continued it to the present hour, he would not have accomplished one-third part of this vast tour.
In estimating the size and extent of the earth, we ought also to take into consideration, the vast variety of objects with which it is diversified, and the numerous animated beings with which it is stored :—the great divisions of land and waters, the continents, seas, and islands, into which it is distributed; the lofty ranges of mountains which rear their heads to the clouds; the unfathomable abysses of the ocean, its vast subterraneous caverns and burning mountains; and the lakes, rivers, and stately forests with which it is so magnificently adorned:—the many millions of animals, of every size and form, from the elephant to the mite, which traverse its surface; the numerous tribes of fishes, from the enormous whale to the diminutive shrimp, which "play" in the_ mighty ocean; the aerial tribes which sport in the regions above us, and the vast mass of the surrounding atmosphere, which encloses the earth and all its inhabitants as "with a swaddling band." The immense variety of beings with which our terrestrial habitation is furnished, conspires, with every other consideration, to exalt our conceptions of that Power by which our globe, and all that it.contains, were brought into existence.
. The preceding illustrations, however,: exhibit the vast extent of the earth, considered only as a mere superficies. But we know that the earth is a solid globe, whose specific gravity is nearly five times denser than water, or about twice as dense as the mass of earth and rocks which compose its surface. Though we cannot dig into its bowels beyond a mile in perpendicular depth, to explore its hidden wonders, yet we may easily conceive what a vast and indescribable mass of matter must be contained between the two opposite portions of its external circumference, reaching 8,000 miles in every direction. The solid contents of this ponderous ball is no less than 263,858,149,120 cubical miles—a mass of material substance of which we can form but a very faint and imperfect conception—in proportion to which, all the lofty mountains which rise above its surface, are less than a few grains of sand, wJien compared with the largest artificial globe. Were the earth a hollow sphere, surrounded merely with an external shell of earth and water, ten miles thick, its internal cavity would be sufficient to contain a quantity of materials one hundred and thirty-three times greater than the whole mass of continents, islands, and oceans on its surface, and the foundations on which they are supported. We have the strongest reasons, however, to conclude, that the earth, in its general structure, is one solid mass, from the , surface to the centre, excepting, perhaps, a few caverns scattered here and there, amidst its subterraneous recesses; and that lis density gradually encreases from its surface to its central regions. What an enormous mass of materials, then, is comprehended within the limits of that globe on which we tread! The mind labours, as it were, to comprehend the mighty idea, and, after all its exertions, feels itself unable to take in such an astonishing magnitude at one grasp. How great must be the power of that Being who commanded it to springfrom nothing into existence, who " measures the ocean in the hollow of his hand, who weigheth the mountains in scales, and hangeth the earth upon nothing •
It is essentially requisite, before proceeding to the survey of objects and magnitudes of a superior order, that we should endeavour, by such a train ot thought as the preceding, to form some ! tolerable and clear conception of «*
ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE OMNIPOTENCE Of DEITY. IT*
bulk of the globe we inhabit; for it is the only body we can use as a standard of comparison to guide the mind in its conceptions, when it roams abroad to other regions of material existence. And from what has been now stated, it appears, that we have no adequate conception of a magnitude of so vast an extent; or, at least, that the mind cannot, in anyone instant, form to itself a distinct and comprehensive idea of it, in any measure corresponding to the reality.
Hitherto, then, we have fixed only on a determinate magnitude—on a scale of a few inches, as it were, in order to assist us in our measurement and conception of magnitudes still more august and astonishing. When we contemplate, by the light of science, those magnificent globes which Boat around us, in the concave of the sky, the earth, with all its sublime scenery, stupendous as it is, dwindles into an inconsiderable ball. If we pass from our globe to some of the other bodies of the planetary system, we shall find that one of these stupendous orbs is more than 900 times the size of our world, and encircled with a ring 200,000 miles in diameter, which would nearly reach from the earth to the moon, and would enclose within its . vast circumference, several hundreds of worlds as large as ours. Another of these planetary bodies, which appears to the vulgar eye only as a brilliant speck on the vault of heaven, is found to be of such a size, that it would require 1,400 globes of the bulk of the earth to form one equal to it in dimensions. The whole of the bodies which compose the solar system (without taking the sun and the comets into account; contains a mass of matter 2,500 times greater than that of the earth. The sun himself is 520 times larger than all the planetary globes taken together, andone million,three hundred thousand times larger than the terraqueous globe. This is one of the most glorious and magnificent visible objects, which either the eye or the imagination can contemplate; especially when we consider, what perpetual and incomprehensible and powerful influence he exerts, what warmth, and beauty, and activity, he diffuses, not only on the globe we inhabit, but over the more extensive regions of surrounding worlds. His energy extends to the. utmost limits of the planetary system—to the planet Herschel, which revolves at the distance
of 1300 millions of miles from his surj face, and there he dispenses light and colour and comfort to all beings connected with that far-distant orb, and to all the moons which roll around it. Here the imagination begins to be overpowered and bewildered in its concep-' tions of magnitude, when it has scarcely advanced a single step in its excursions through the material world. For, it is highly probable, that all the matter contained in the limits of the solar system, incomprehensible as its magnitude appears, bears a smaller proportion to the whole mass of the material universe, than a single grain of sand to all the particles of matter contained in the body of the sun and his attending planets.
If we extend our views from the solar system to the starry heavens, we have to penetrate, in our imagination, a space which the swiftest ball that was ever projected, though in perpetual motion, would not travel in ten hundred thousand years. In those trackless regions of immensity, we behold an assemblage of resplendent globes, similar to the sun in size and in glory, and, doubtless, accompanied with a retinue of worlds, revolving, like our own, around their attractive influence. The immense distance at which the nearest stars are known to be placed, proves, that they are bodies of a prodigious size, not inferior to our own sun, and that they shine, not by reflected rays, but by their own native light. But bodies encircled with such refulgent splendour, would be of little use in the economy of Jehovah's empire, unless surrounding worlds were cheered by their benign influence, and enlightened by their beams. Every star is, therefore, with good reason, concluded to be a sun, no less spacious than ours, surrounded by a host of planetary globes, which revolve around it as a centre, and derive from it light, and heat, and comfort. Nearly a thousand of these luminaries may be seen in a clear winter night, by the naked eye; so that a mass of matter equal to a thousand solar systems, or to thirteen hundred and tuenty millions of globes of the size of the earth, may be perceived by every common observer in the canopy of heaven. But all the celestial orbs which are perceived by the unassisted sight, do not form the eighty thousandth part of those which may be descried by the help of optical instruments. [To be contimul]
To the Editor of the Note Euan. Magazine.
There are, as you must have long ago discovered, some very strange people iu the world: who, though in the main very useful and very valuahle, get such strange ideas into their heads, that mightily puzzle those who have to answer the questions they sometimes ask.
I have a very valuable friend of this sort; but. poor man! he knows more of his Bible than he does of Greek; and he has of late been terribly puzzling me. He says—I hope, Mr. Editor, your readers will not be offended witli him, for I assure them he is a very good man— he says, that he has not much notion of the Academies—I beg pardon, the Colleges—where they educate young men for the ministry. And farther, I cannot persuade him to think that the ministry among the Baptists, (for he belongs to that denomination,) is more respectable o.r more useful than it was fifty years ago, when there was but one Academy, where there are now three.
I tell him. Sir, that the state of society is so much improved, that a man ought to have some acquaintance with Grammar and English Composition before he ascends a pulpit to.teach others.' He says, this is very true, but that he has no notion that he needs the assistance of Divinity and Classical ami Mathematical Tutors, to enable him to teil his fellow men the way of salvation in a correct and intelligible manner. I tell him, Sir, that it is of importance that a young man should be able to read his Bible in the original languages, as he can then enter more fully into its meaning. But he is so unaccountably perverse as to maintain, that many who go to learn never acquire a correct knowledge of the languages, and that very few who do acquire them, explain the Scriptures better than many who know only their own tongue. He says farther, that many of the most useful and popular preachers are not classical scholars; and wonderfully puzzles me by saying, that the ministers of some of the largest and most flourishing Baptist congregations in the Metropolis, where there would seem to be so much need of learning, are not learned men, that is, are not classical scholars.
I tell him that all this may be very true, hut that learning must enlarge and Strengthen the mind, and supply it with I imagery for illustration; but he Only'
smiles at me, and says, that some of the littlest and weakest minds he knows, are to be found among the Academics; and that some of them turn out such poor hands in the pulpit, that after having had several hundred pounds of the public money spent upon them, they are obliged to give it up and turn schoolmasters.
But what most of all sets him against the Academies is, he says, that the young men, instead of learning more of the great doctrines of the Bible, are taught to read books detailing the abominable practices of the heathen gods and goddesses, the feats of real and fabulous heroes, and which excite feelings of the loosest and most improper kind; and he asks, how all this, can illustrate the Scriptures of purity and truth?
Now, Mr. Editor, I must confess that all this is very puzzling; and though I am quite sure that I try to reconcile his mind to Academies, and tell him what a good thing learning is, and I am sure I wish I had more of it, yet I cannot overcome his difficulties; indeed he lays the subject very much to heart, and is afraid that the simplicity of the churches will be injured by the Academies. I am not, Sir, an Academic myself, or else, perhaps, I should be. able, by the force of learning—by arguments drawn from the Greek and Roman Poets, to satisfy his enquiries and overcome his objections.
. Jn this difficulty I beg leave, in the name of my friend, to make an appeal to you and your learned correspondents; and to reqtiest that a statement may be given of the reasons why men nowadays may not, without going to an Academy, be preachers as acceptable, and writers as useful as Dr. Gill, and Abraham Booth, and Andrew Fuller? not to mention the names of living men, who as well as these were self-taught, and that after they entered the ministryIc would also be desirable that they should prove that the ministers educated in Academies have been more useful in the conversion of sinners, and in extend ing the cause of Christ than others. And, above all, that they should p»;V1' the system of Academies to be actoriljng to the scriptural plan of introducing faithful men into the ministry. I am, Mr. Editor, Yours, ■
On Baptism; chiefly in Reply to the Etymological Positions of the Ilev. Greviile fining, in his " Essay on Baptism ;" the Polemic Discussions of'the Rev. Timothy Dwight, S.T.D. LL.D. in his Work entitled " Theology;" and the Inferential Reasonings of the Rev. Ralph Wardlaw, D.D. in his " Lectures on the Abrahamic Covenant. By F. A. Cox, A.M. of Hackney. London, B. J. Holdsworth; Waugh and Innes, Edinburgh; and Chalmers and Collins, Glasgow: 8vo. pp. 160, pr. 4s. 6d. bds. 1824.
It is fabled of Sisyphus, in the ancient Pagan mythology, that for certain high crimes and misdemeanors committed during his probationary state, he was sentenced after death, in the regions of Tartarus, "to roll to the top of a hill a large stone, which had no sooner reached the summit than it fell back into the plain with impetuosity," thus rendering his punishment perpetual; The Baptists of the present generation have for some time been complaining, that their case somewhat resembled that "f Sisyphus! The baptismal controversy, they affirm, has long ago been exhausted; and as often as an advocate for infant sprinkling or affusion has entered the lists, and thrown down the gauntlet, nothing has remained for them to do but to repeat the same thing over and over again. Mr. Greviile Ewing, of Glasgow, however, has lately come forwards with a small volume, entitled "An Essay on Baptism," in which he has started a new theory; and Mr. Cox, who has undertaken to examine its validity, has consequently the gratification left him, of not being called upon to pace precisely the same beaten track as his predecessors. Of this new controversy we shall now endeavour to give our readers some general notion; Md in doing so, we shall study to be as concise as is consistent with perspicuity. ■Mr. Cox enters upon his task, by proposing' two questions for consideration, preliminary to his notice of Mr. Ewing's volume, viz. "What is Christianity," and "What is Baptism as a part of Christianity?" On neither of these, however, do we need to dwell. "ClirisVol. s.
tianity," according to our author, "is 4 spiritual dispensation—a system of redeeming mercy exhibited to a fallen race, which had forfeited every hope, and merited everlasting destruction—« a system which, consequently, from its very nature, addresses itself to intelligent creatures, capable of discerning its gforyj appreciating its claims, and participating, through the exercise of faith and love^ its invaluable blessings. If this dispensation or kingdom be spiritual, such must necessarily be its subjects." Hence he infers the personality of religion—and that Christian baptism implies a voluntary act of obedience to the Christian Lawgiver.
Having thus stated his general views concerning Baptism as a part of Christianity, Mr. Cox proceeds to an examination of the new explanation of terms proposed by Mr. Ewing. These illustrations of our learned friend in the north, are replete with so manyamusing singularities, that we can scarcely won.der at the lack of gravity with which Mr. Cox treats some of them. He very properly remarks, that it is important, every consideration which the utmost learning and skill can adduce in this controversy, should be fairly and thoroughly investigated; and as Mr. Ewing's publication breathes a mild and friendly spirit, he is the more invited to advance with him into the arena.
According to Mr. Ewing's judgment, "the word baptize has never yet been properly analyzed." Under the influence' of ihis persuasion he very naturally enters upon his task; and the following extract which Mr. Cox makes from bis book, will put the reader in possession of his new discovery for ascertaining the radical import of the Greek term. Thus Mr. Ewing writes—
"The following are admitted as general rules for reducing words to their first principles. Let those letters and syllables which are merely the signs of derivation and inflection be cut off. Let intermediate vowels, employed for the purpose of enunciating consonants, be disregarded, or considered as easily changeable into one' another. Let those consonants, also, which I art? pronounced by the same organ oX