Imagens das páginas


necessarily requires that a first mover should be the simplest imaginable power) laid it down, that there must be a celestial body beyond that of the fixed stars, in order to communicate to the Universe its primal great revolution . This is what is still taught. There are nine moveable heavens, spheres, or orbits rolling one within the other; to which this our Globe is the little centre. The nearest of them to ns is that of the Moon; the second that of Mercury; the third, of Venus; the fourth, of the Sun; the fifth, Mars; the sixth, Jupiter; the seventh, Saturn; the eighth, of the fixed stars; and the ninth, that of the first Mover. The seven first are planets, that wheel in their wheeling orbits; the stars of the eighth are fixed in their orbit, and it is only it that wheels; and the ninth is that which gives all the others their primitive impulse, or great original motion from east to west; by which effect alone we are assured of its existence, since it is itself invisible to our mortal eyes. Beyond all these, we Christians suppose a tenth heaven. This tenth is the Empyrean, the source of light, immoveable itself, but the cause of the motion of the prime Mover. That prime Mover then, that crystalline, diaphanous, transparent, or ninth heaven rolls with incomprehensible swiftness withinside of this tenth heaven , this region of tranquillity, this peaceful home of an infinite Deity; who can never be entirely beheld by any other than himself alone . This is his CiHTO TIN

home,is the universal temple in which is contained the whole edifice of creation, and outside of which is nothing: this is not circumscribed to place, but is the formation of the primitive mind, or prothoneo of the Greeks: of this spoke the psalmist when he sang, 'the Lordhath prepared his throne in the Heavens and his kingdom ruleth over all:' this, in fine , is the Paradise of blessed saints, as decides our holy Church; and as seems indeed to have been the opinion of Aristotle himself, if his expressions be thouroughly examined («). Now all the moving heavens, with the exception of the ninth or prime mover, having other movements besides that primitive one from east to west, and this alone being communicated to them by the prime mover, it follows that such minor movements must have their particular and efficient agents to cause them. Thus the planets, which, besides their common revolution along their orbits have other revolutions to perform round their own poles ( these, however moveable with regard to external bodies, being stationary with regard to their own) must have their individual movers ,or delegated, intellectual agents, who must be substances separate from matter; that is, immaterial creatures. Respecting their number, disputes have arisen, as well as respecting the number of the heavens. Some ( among whom whether Aristotle

(ij Arislutele pare cio teutire, cui bene laintende. Comilo.p So. CiHTO TII.

be to be classed is uncertain, since in different passages he seems contradictory) taught that those immaterial agents ought not to be held more numerous than the heavenly bodies themselves over which they preside; for that more would be useless and in a state of inaction; although it is in action that their very existence appears exclusively to consist. Such however was far from being the opinion of the sublime Plato; for, according to him, those spiritual essences are at least as numerous as the various species of created things. These, he says , (as for example, the species of mankind, species of gold, etc, etc.) must have their invisible guides, or guardians, quite as necessarily as the celestial orbs themselves: and these guardians are named by him ideas, forms, or universal natures. With a gross conception of which that mighty Sage was guiltless, the Pagans (denominating those immaterial creatures Gods and Goddesses, and forgetting that they were nothing more than subordinate agents of one great first cause) set about adoring their images as if they were real divinities: and so Vulcan became the'God of fire, Minerva the Goddess of wisdom, Ceres of corn, Juno of power, etc. This we learn from the poets; who are in general very faithful expounders of the creed of Antiquity. Nearly quite similar to the theory of Plato ( taking it in its primitive purity and uncorrupted by subsequent, popular misconceptions ) is the doctrine of Christianity with

cirro rit

regard to those viewless beings; indeed such was that of the old Hebrew law too; and we change little besides mere names when we denominate them, instead of ideas or Gods and Goddesses, Angels . Since the multitude of spheres and of species may enjoy different portions of beatitude, as they are more or less removed from their Creator's abode ( or the tenth heaven ), so may it follow that their spiritual attendants may enjoy various ranks; and hence will arise an Angelical hierarchy corresponding to tne divisions of the universe. It may be even, that those incorporeal people are more multiplied than ostensible effects indicate; and that the most refined lead a life not of direct activity, but of what is much sublimer, pure contemplation. Such speculations transcend human understanding, while our souls remain shackled in this prison of clay: yet ought that only to increase our admiration' of beings, who, by reason of their noble superiority of nature, baffle all mortal conception in the detail; though, on the whole, our intellect can perceive the necessity of their existing. For a slight emanation comes from them, and, piercing the obscurity of our minds,sufBces to convey to us a confused notion of their sublime perfections; in the same way as a light may be perceived by one whose eyes are shut, by means of some lucid particle, some casual ray, however feeble, which contrives to penetrate through the pores of his eyelids. Whate

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