Perilous Times.

2 Timothy 3.

1882 72 Never, perhaps, in this world's history was the human mind so engrossed as it now is with the things of the world. The very struggle for existence, or at least for life's maintenance, seems to be constantly on the increase. What keen competition there is in every department, and often for the bare necessaries of life! And again, where this is not the question, how keen the pursuit of gain, as gain, or as a source of power! how keen, too, the pursuit of pleasure, whether in its higher or in its lower forms! If we glance for a moment at politics, how urgent and absorbing is the public state of things to minds engaged in public affairs! Never was there such a state of things. Even with the best intentions how preoccupied often is the mind with care, how distracted the attention, and this necessarily to the detriment of the soul! Education is pressed on under the fatal delusion that knowledge is the true remedy, the grand panacea for every evil. Yes! but not the knowledge which is of this world. You may inflate the human mind with knowledge, or with fancied knowledge; but what can this do without the knowledge of God, except to develop infidelity? What, under such circumstances, must be the result but increasing ungodliness, with political and social disorder? And so it is and will be increasingly.

Morality, — private, social, or public, — forms little or no part of modern instruction; liberty, equality, and fraternity is the prevailing and influential idea of the age. Whether in the church or in the world, popularity is the great power: pander to this and you may succeed; refuse to do so and you become more or less marked. People dream that the world is getting wiser as it is getting older, that things are getting better, and that in due time education, the arts and sciences, commerce, etc., will ameliorate matters, the evils which afflict society will be rectified, corruption and crime will disappear, wars will cease, and the world will at last enjoy a sort of Millennium of its own production, — all will end well. A few of the more sensible are unconvinced of this: to them things seem tending in a very different direction. The Christian should be in no danger of being deceived. He knows it will end in bringing God's judgments on a scene of ripened iniquity and of revolt against God. Believing as he does in Divine revelation, he is not left in darkness; God in His word and by His Spirit has given him a knowledge and a wisdom which is not of this world, and which prevents him from prophesying smooth things, when he knows that to do so would he to deceive. This is a knowledge that never inflates the intellect. Remembering as the Christian does his own weakness, and that he was once of the world, conscious of his own unceasing need of Divine grace, it is in this spirit he contemplates the sad condition of the world in which he yet dwells, and beholds in sorrow the misery and sin of his fellow-creatures, whilst abhorrent of wickedness in itself.

Well then do we understand how little time for serious reflection generally is left amidst the pressing duties and cares of daily life. Yet it is to this we would endeavour with our readers to draw aside for a brief interval. Would that all would seize such opportunities as Divine providence may from time to time give, to turn their thoughts from the things of this world, and to consider their eternal interests! How often has that opportunity occurred which has proved to have been the last, and the state of the soul for eternity become unalterably fixed! If we contemplate our own being, and the circumstances which attend and affect it, how mysterious it appears! We find ourselves in existence quite irrespective of any will of our own in the matter. We soon find it (all of us more or less, but some, perhaps, more than others) one of much trouble. Death constantly stares us in the face. What becomes of us then? We look around, and find the world in which we are for the most part a mass of selfishness, wretchedness, and vice. What a subject of reflection for thoughtful minds! And the more we reflect, the more we must be convinced that the mind, the rational soul, cannot die, — the body alone is perishable. What will be our future destiny? Such have in fact been the reflections of the best and noblest of human minds in all ages. Strange were it not so. The almost brutish indifference of lower natures was not theirs. Yet a satisfactory answer to these higher mental cravings they found not.

Theories indeed, one after another, were propounded by the so-called philosophers, but the entire history of human philosophy will be found to be little else than a repetition of the same process, viz., construction, destruction, and eclecticism; nor was there any power in their philosophy to raise them morally. True, in these days men think they have at last reached terra firma in the positive philosophy. And perhaps finality it is, for infidelity can scarcely go farther. But they will accept and confide in it to their ruin, for what could be more ruinous than a "religion of humanity," in which Divine revelation is unceremoniously cast to the winds, and almost mathematical demonstration insisted on even with regard to spiritual things? We say "even in regard to spiritual things," almost forgetting that these are virtually denied, and that the supernatural is too often derided. But a fallen creation is in an abnormal state, and it might justly be thought is a sphere in which a God of grace would act at times, exceptionally, to demonstrate to His fallen and alienated creatures, that He is acting either for their good, or to reveal Himself in some way. Why should the reasonableness, or the possibility of this, be denied? Truly the days are evil, as well as sad. What is the true and deep cause? what will be its issue? are solemn questions for each one of us. And Divine revelation alone adequately answers them, whilst at the same time it vindicates Divine grace and Divine righteousness.

Disobedience to God, i.e. sin, has brought sorrow into the world, and sin perpetuates it. "Sin is lawlessness" (anomia), the principle of self-will and independence in the creature, — insubjection to God; and this too often is carried to such an extent as to lead even to the rejection of all religion, whether natural or revealed.

Buffon, the great French naturalist, in a most graphic and ingenious way, makes Adam narrate his first sensations and actions on being created. Enraptured with all which was around him, and contemplating his own being, it was but gradually, and by considering in detail one thing after another, that he could realise where and what he was. It is a most interesting sketch, and may be found in his Natural History. But it is vitiated by one fatal defect: Adam is occupied with himself, and with nature around him, God is nowhere in the scene. And how exactly is this what man is doing to this day! Occupied with anything and everything but God. Is it conceivable that God, having created, omitted to reveal Himself to him as his Creator? Impossible! On the contrary, with his first consciousness Adam found himself in the presence of his Creator. The first impression Adam received was the presence of his Creator and Benefactor. God was his companion, his guide, and his instructor in the first hours of his existence, and before he had any other companion. He was left to no surmises or reflections of his own, still less to the approach of the enemy, till he was acquainted with his Creator, with his destiny as innocent; forewarned and forearmed against any possible enemy to God and to himself. He was then furnished with a companion similar to himself, the gift of God designed for his happiness and advantage. But how solemn these words, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness," — would that they might sink deeply into the heart of every human being who has heard or read them, for assuredly every human being they immeasurably and everlastingly concern.

"Thou madest him a little lower than the angels, thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands." Though the complete fulfilment of this will be in the person of the last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom Adam was, as it were, the representative (as Eve of the Church), yet it had a vary real accomplishment in Adam. How noble his origin, how wonderfully constituted, body, soul, and spirit, what a realm, was even this terrestrial one, to be set over! Creation in each part was indeed "very good." Whilst our first parents were in a state of innocence, all was harmonious. Liberty, in the true and proper sense there was, because liberty meant, not licence, not the exercise on Adam's part of a will antagonistic to God, but freedom and power to act at the same time in accordance with the suggestions of an unfallen nature, and in harmony with the Divine will. Under such circumstances constraint was unknown. Constraint is requisite to fallen beings; to those who are self-willed, and can put no proper limits to their passions. To act agreeably to his nature was to Adam unfallen, entire freedom in conformity with God's will. It was necessary, however, that the principle of obedience to his Creator should be before Adam. No obedience was then possible which implied privation. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil marked the principle, but involved no privation, inasmuch as it was the sole restriction, unnecessary to his happiness, and on the other hand destructive of it if he disobeyed; without it Adam must almost have thought himself the God of this lower world. The existence of the moral agent must be conditioned, however a higher power may act in relation to that agent, and with a view to his preservation. Innocence was an absolute safe-guard to Adam and Eve, unless on the one point of the forbidden fruit. Here only could they be tempted, or put to the test, and even here the temptation ought not to have been seductive, i.e. temptation in their case could have had only the meaning of "put to the test." There was external suggestion, but no internal proclivity towards, or tendency to, evil, at least until Eve chose to listen to the voice of the stranger. From that instant she was no doubt in danger. Opportunity to the enemy was therefore reduced to a minimum, and could thus far serve only as the simplest test of obedience, scarcely to be called a moral test to a person in a state of innocence.

Nor could Satan appear to Eve or to Adam in propria persona. He therefore avails himself of that one of the lower creation, which, through its subtlety, appeared best adapted to his purpose. How he could so take possession of the serpent is no doubt to us mysterious, but we read later of the man Judas that "Satan entered into him." A willingness to be so possessed might, if God permit, make the way easy; for a spiritual being may in this be able to do what one possessing a natural body could not do, and may find it difficult to understand, as for instance to take inner possession of another. We see the fact, however, in the case of demoniacal possession, during the time our Lord was upon earth, and so with the herd of swine. Though such possession may at present, in any very palpable way, be little known, still the possibility of it, if God permit, has been demonstrated, and might occur again. The modern "spiritualism" is, without doubt, allied to the same power, the so-called "medium" being the human agent very directly acted on. Men and devils are seeking for illicit power and intercourse, and for their punishment God may yet again allow it to some extent to take place (in the Anti-christ very completely). This is one of the greatest snares of the day, and Christians should be most careful not to be deluded by it. There is probably far more in it than mere jugglery, though jugglery and jobbery may make use of it.

Satan is the "prince of the power of the air," and it is with wicked spirits in heavenly places that Christians have to contend, as their enemies. If true to the Lord themselves, they cannot be deceived. The account of the fall as given in Gen. iii. is in fact the only rational explanation of man's condition. God certainly did not create the world in the state in which we see it. A disturbing cause has entered since Adam was created, and the account given in Genesis simply and satisfactorily explains it. The creature lives by dependence on God, the moral agent consciously so. The Fall and its consequences teach us what disobedience is, in principle, i.e. even in the taking of the forbidden fruit, the result how terrible! and the more so that in itself it is irrevocable and irremediable. Yet how little we realise this! Satan in the light, and untempted, fell: for him therefore there is no salvation. For man God has found a ransom, — "for verily he (i.e. Christ) taketh not up the cause of angels, but he taketh up the cause of the seed of Abraham" (Heb. ii. 16).

But here, again, man is a moral agent, — we do not say exactly a free agent, for he is trammelled by a sinful nature; still, as we see in the seventh of Romans, the will may be right, and the law of sin in our members only then becomes the more apparent, and the more odious. Hence while on the one hand the Lord says, "No one can come unto Me unless the Father, which hath sent me, draw him;" so on the other hand, and to those whose wills are opposed, He says, "Ye will not come unto Me that ye might have life." God has provided a way, and but one way of salvation. Much as men may differ in the degree to which they practise sin, and in the extent to which they may stifle the voice of conscience (and in those respects they do differ very greatly), yet we are all born in sin, we all inherit a sinful nature, and in the case even of the best of men, when tested in the light of God's presence, or tested by the law when spiritually understood, how perfectly plain and palpable is the defect, either from a perfect state of innocence, or from a perfect state of renewal in Christ!

But imperfection can never satisfy God, and, besides, it really means sin. Hence justification by faith is equally needed by all, the righteousness of God by faith. Blessed be God, in virtue of the work of Christ, God can be just, and the justifier of him who believes in Jesus. The respective offerings of Cain and Abel were typical of the forms which religion ever has assumed or ever could assume, for these forms resolve themselves simply into two kinds: viz. man's endeavour to propitiate God, and to render himself acceptable to Him; and the owning that our ruin is too complete for this, and that our acceptance by God must be in virtue of the work and merits of another. Doubtless Cain's offering cost him more personal effort than Abel's, for the latter had but by the sacrifice of a victim to recognise the grand gospel truth of substitution. Nevertheless Cain's offering was without conscience, and indeed insulting to God, — virtually saying, that the fruit of the ground, which for Adam's sake God had cursed, was a fit offering for God, — that the efforts, the religious efforts, of our fallen human nature, are suitable offerings to God. And indeed what else could we do had there been no testimony to the precious truth that "God would provide"? But testimony to this was given as soon as our first parents fell, not only in the figurative words that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, but in the typical act of the death of the victim, which furnished a cover to their nakedness. And we shall find that this double testimony of God's word, and of typical or symbolic acts, runs through all the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. But God having given this testimony, men are inexcusable for still choosing their religious delusions, and the religion of Cain, the religion of "good works" for our acceptance by God, is one of the great sins and dangers of the day. No doubt when God has saved us in a way which vindicates both His own glory, and His grace, He looks for good works from us, and other fruit of the Divine life in us, that is, as is often and truly said, the Christian works from life, and not for life.

Nor is there in reality the least conflict or obscurity of Scripture as to this. There is a co-ordination of truth in Scripture, but no contradiction. Those who would take any one truth of Scripture out of its place and order, and insert it elsewhere, necessarily produce the greatest confusion and apparent contradiction. Scripture is, so to speak, an organic whole, the truths and doctrines it contains are co-related; but to see the bearing and proportion of the several parts, or in fact to understand the things of God at all, we must be taught by the Holy Spirit. The number and diversity of religious sects and denominations is too often quoted as a reason for submission to a central human authority, such as the Pope. It proves indeed the insubjection of the human mind to Divine teaching, and the true remedy is, subjection of our own spirits to the Lord by the Spirit of God; but undoubtedly those who advocate as the remedy the setting up a man in the church, with claims to an infallibility which no apostle ever assumed or pretended to, show how far they are impressed with a sense of what is due to the Lord, and to Him alone. That our justification is in Scripture regarded from different points of view is most true: for instance, we are justified meritoriously, by Christ's blood (Rom. 5:9; Rom. iii. 24); we are justified judicially, by God (Rom. iii. 26; Rom. viii. 33); we are justified mediately, by faith (Rom. iii. 28; Rom. 5:1), and we are justified evidentially by works (James ii. 24). Deny this, and you set Scripture hopelessly at variance with itself, and destroy the integrity of the texts quoted, as well as the general and concurrent teachings of Scripture. "For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast."

1882 87 But from what are we saved? clearly from eternal judgment (Heb. vi. 2). No, say some, not eternal, but age-long. It is admitted that whether the meaning of the word aionios is age-long or eternal, depends upon the context. Where God's governmental dealings with this world are concerned (i.e. where aionios is spoken of in reference to the duration of a dispensation, or to a course of things in this world), it no doubt has the accommodated sense of age-long, and this is the sense of "for ever" almost invariably in the Old Testament. But in the New Testament, where the curtain which previously shut out the future, is, as it were, drawn aside, and eternal issues, in the strictest sense of the term, are disclosed, we find the word aionios used in its most absolute sense in reference to God, and as the context proves in an absolute sense also as regards either the future happiness or future punishment of men. Nothing, for instance, could be more arbitrary or illogical than to assert that the word aionios signifies different periods of duration in the two clauses of Matt. xxv. 46. If the life is eternal in the latter clause, and in the absolute sense of the term, so it is in the case of everlasting punishment, i.e. in the former clause. And in whatever sense the Spirit is eternal in Heb. ix. 14, in that sense as to futurity is judgment eternal in Heb. vi. 2. Nor is the meaning of never-ending (in contrast with what has a termination, i.e. with what is temporal) unknown to Greek classical writers; on the contrary, it is distinctly used in this contrast, as convincingly pointed out by others. It is therefore deeply to be regretted that professed teachers in the Church assert otherwise. Far safer and more true is the opinion of Pearson, in his "Exposition of the Creed" (Article, "And the life everlasting"). So likewise Neander, in his Church History, vol. ii. p. 11, note, says: "Hence the different meanings given by the Gnostics to the word aion, which besides its primitive signification eternity is used by them to denote sometimes the Eternal, as a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Essence; sometimes the primary divine powers above described; sometimes the whole emanation-world, pleroma, as contradistinguished from the temporal world. In the last-mentioned sense it is employed by Heracleon." The simple Christian may rest assured that the natural meaning to which he is accustomed is the true one. Universalism (or the doctrine that all will be saved in the end) lays God, as it were, under a compulsion, under a law of love, a necessity arising from His nature as love, which not only ignores His being Light, but which really is a denial of free and sovereign grace on His part, whilst it utterly denies the incisive and decisive terms of the gospel, and the critical form in which it is presented to us in Scripture by denying the finality of its issues, viz. everlasting life, and everlasting judgment. It implies that God would not be love, and that He would not be just if He punished any eternally, and thus virtually judges God, even though this may be far from being intended.

Again, there are two distinct resurrections, that of life and that of judgment (John 5:29). As regards those raised from the dead in the latter, is it conceivable that they will again die, and again be raised? Yet this must be the case if they are to have glorified bodies. No! these states are fixed and everlasting. There is the second death, the lake of fire, but no third death, and no second resurrection for the same persons. Men may endeavour to force Scripture, so as to suit their own predilections; but the truth remains unalterable in itself, and palpable to those who read it in honesty and simplicity.

"All men," says the Apostle, "have not faith." Faith is indeed the greatest vantage ground that the creature could receive. Wealth, power, intellect, — these fall infinitely short of it; for faith connects one with God, and gives an intelligence which even intellect cannot attain. But the sad thing is that, not only men generally have not faith, but they are opposed to those who have, and to those things which can only be apprehended by faith. When redemption is known, and the love of Christ in saving us, what could be more interesting to us — as at any time what could be more solemn for all men — than the account of our creation, as revealed to us in the word of God! What deliberation! "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Thus Adam is called "the Son of God" (Luke iii. 38), and God's loving interest in him is thus expressed, "And my delights were with the sons of men" (Prov. viii. 31).

With the utmost deliberation God forms man, directly and immediately, from the dust of the ground, and, by the direct and personal impartation of His breath, endows man with a rational and imperishable soul. Adam is thus formed in the image of God. True, of all living creatures upon the face of the earth, Adam and Eve were the last formed. This terrestrial creation, of which Adam was to be the head and lord, was first prepared for him, and then, by a distinct and superior creative act, Adam was placed at the head of it. In the face of this plain yet noble statement of divine revelation, what are we to think of the disgusting and atheistic theory of Evolution? That in other ages of the world men have so utterly given up God, and become so debased in their minds and thoughts, as to propound and believe all kinds of irrational theories, is indeed true; what is so extraordinary and so startling is, that in the light of Christianity, and side by side with the Bible, such atheistic theories can exist and find acceptance. It is infidelity as to the Bible, and as to every truth the Bible contains. In a certain sense and to a certain degree men may persuade themselves to anything; yet we doubt if a man can ever succeed in altogether eliminating from his mind and conscience the conviction that there is a God. We doubt if there is such a being as a genuine atheist. We doubt, too, the possibility of really believing in annihilation. There is that within us all which tells us that the rational soul cannot die, and that to God it is accountable. And why, the gospel being what it is, should men wish it to be otherwise? "Come, for all things are now ready," is the gracious invitation to us all. It is infatuation, and worse than infatuation, to refuse it. It is to reject Divine mercy, and to retain a responsibility which renders men liable to eternal punishment. Throughout the whole of Scripture we can trace, as it were, two parallel threads, which are never separated, yet never confused. These are righteousness and grace, represented in the Garden of Eden by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (responsibility), and by the tree of life (grace). In Christ alone these have been perfectly reconciled, so that God's love and mercy can now have free course. Out of Christ they are irreconcilable, and judgment consequently ensues.

And it is striking to observe that whilst righteous judgment is so much the subject of the Revelation of St. John, yet the other thread of Divine grace can be so conspicuously traced throughout it. The very fact that God used the Apostle, who in his other writings dwells so much upon the intrinsic nature of God as Love (though as Light also), to write the book of Revelation, is itself no small indication that even there grace cannot be forgotten. But the awful consequences to the sinner of responsibility without life, i.e. without Christ, are inevitable, and are shown with fearful clearness in this book.

The theory of evolution puts man as a created being at the greatest possible distance from his Creator, and, denying the directness with which he came from the hands of God, destroys the sense of relationship to, and of immediate dependence on, God; it mocks the solemnity of his creation as described in Scripture, ignores the moral likeness to God in which he was created, and leaves the first origin of life wholly unaccounted for. It admits a sort of climax or goal, towards which the process of evolution is tending, or has tended, and prefers to attribute to it, rather than to diversity in unity, as God's creative plan, the wonderfully complex yet harmonious universe of which we form part, i.e. to blind impulse rather than to a preconceived design on the part of the Almighty. There is in organic life a continuity of design, and a unity in design. Emanating from the same creative centre, the Deity, there is progress in the scale of creation, yet with separativeness of origin. Hence, like so many other catch phrases, Lyell's use of the term "independent creation" is, to say the least, extremely ambiguous.

Distinct acts of creation harmonise with creation as a whole, whilst being distinct: as each piece in a dissected map is in itself distinct, yet requisite to the completeness of the map in its entirety. In all God's works, creation as well as revelation, there is a wonderful co-ordination, and mutual adaptation, and in this sense no one specific act of creation is independent. But as to the fact of distinct and separate acts of creation, Scripture is express, and all human investigation and discovery, confirm it. Speaking of the grass, the herb, and the fruit tree, it says of each, "whose seed was in itself after his kind;" and of fishes "after their kind," also of terrestrial animals that they were created "after their kind:" i.e. God created each kind separately, endowing each with its own seed; as conversely we read in 1 Cor. xx. 38, 39 that to each seed God has given its own body, and that in a similar manner one flesh differs from another. Hence in principle the definition of species is true, viz., "a species consists of individuals having a common resemblance, and reproducing their like by generation." The records of geology, confirmed by all human experience and observation, establish the fixity within reasonable limits of species as above defined, and are utterly opposed to the theory of transmutation.

Absurd as is the notion of transmigration or metempsychosis, we could more readily believe it than that of evolution, and think the doctrine of Pythagoras just about as reasonable as that of Darwin, both being in fact, and in effect, simply heathenish. All that believe the Bible know very well that there are such beings as angels, — that they were created long before man, and that as an order of creation (we speak not now of what redemption will accomplish in due time, and in this respect) they are superior to man. Yet the pre-existence of a superior class of creatures is antagonistic to the theory of transmutation. In all points, Divine revelation, human experience, and geological records are opposed to it. We readily acknowledge that Mr. Darwin in his work on the "Origin of Species" has brought together many highly interesting facts — facts of importance in truly scientific investigation; but there is an infinite gap between any conclusion or conclusions they really support and justify, and the monstrous conclusion it is simply assumed that they warrant. Interesting natural phenomena are here most artfully intermixed with ingenious but unfounded surmises, whilst not a thing which essentially makes for the Darwinian or Lamarckian theory is proved, nor is one which makes for the Bible account of creation disproved. Whether we go back to the period of Egyptian history, or much farther back to the glacial period, or to any geological period whatever, the necessary links in the chain of evidence are wholly wanting. That every germinal vesicle in nature has sprung from one primordial spore, — vesicles which, whatever may be their apparent resemblance, are each endowed with its own form of life, and each requiring a principle of life peculiar to itself, in order to fertilise it, — that vesicles thus specially distinct could have sprung from one primordial spore, and this from some inherent power of development, amounts to a moral contradiction, and is even more absurd than to say that all the chemical elements have originated from one pure and simple; for here, at least, it could be no question of opposed organic tendencies leading to separate and independent existence.

The fact that a species consists of individuals bearing a common resemblance and reproducing their like by generation, remains (allowance being made for a certain range in each case within which variation is possible, though unstable) unaltered and unalterable. That the two processes are going on at the same time, viz. propagation by generation, and transmutation, would seem an extraordinary state of things, yet this must be if transmutation is true, for what is there to put a stop to it? — and if stopped, why (for each genus and species) just where it is, — the relative proportions, of the various parts of animate nature so beautifully observed. But the gap between even the highest developed ape and the lowest example of humanity is immense; — how is this, and what has become of the missing links? It seems to us, in short, that the Darwinian theory is sufficiently refuted by those cases of evolution which nature does exhibit. For instance, the egg, the larva, the chrysalis, the butterfly, and then the egg again, — yet from the egg to the butterfly but one life, but one act of generation. So again we find the egg, the tadpole, the frog, and again the egg, i.e. the circle of evolution completed in one life and with only one act of generation, — all originating in one germinal vesicle, to which, specifically, it returns. In no other way or sense is evolution possible. The doctrine of development, whether as applied to biology or to theology is really infidel, — an attempt to stamp with the Divine sanction, and thus to justify, thorough and fatal departure from the truth as contained in Divine revelation.

Christ is the truth absolutely — the Scriptures in a written form: there can be no development in these, though there may be in individuals the increasing in the know ledge of the truth, the "growing up to Christ in all things." But whatever is opposed to Scripture is error, and no development of truth at all. It is true that Scripture does not profess to teach science, and as little to teach, what it does teach or narrate, in a scientific way; its language in this respect is generally phenomenal. As connected with nature, science has its use; Scripture is concerned with an infinitely more momentous object and subject, the glory of God where sin is in question; — still any conclusions of science which contradict Divine revelation are necessarily and at once judged by it. If the upholders of science venture to deny the omnipotence of God, or to assert the eternity of matter, God's word, i.e. Divine authority, judges such conclusions as untrue and dishonouring to God. We think it is to be regretted that a Hebrew scholar of no little weight in this country, himself no doubt a Christian man, should deny that in Genesis i. 1 bara means to create out of nothing. It is true that it does not in all cases mean so, but in the above text it certainly means to create in the most absolute sense, i.e. out of nothing, or an argument is thus unintentionally given for the ungodly notion of the eternity of matter. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." This alludes to the very origin of matter, not to formation, but to creation. Is it conceivable that nowhere in the Bible is God spoken of as having in the absolute sense created matter? and where should it be asserted that He did so, but in the first verse of the first chapter of Genesis? He is the absolute Creator of matter as of life, as also the organiser of nature in its different kingdoms, the mineral, the vegetable, and the animal. These different kingdoms are constituent parts of, so to speak, one imperial whole. The Schoolmen, following Aristotle, state four universal causes of existing things: 1, the Material; 2, the Formal; 3, the Efficient; 4, the Final. The material cause was supposed to be that common substance or nature out of which things are made; the formal, that by which one object is made to differ from others produced out of the same common matter; the efficient, or motive cause, that which originates the motion or change from which the particular thing results; the final, that tendency or end to which the whole process of formation has reference, and in which it is completed. Corresponding with this, there are four words in Hebrew signifying to create, make, or form, and of these Bara refers to the Efficient cause.

Whether as regards Creation, or as regards the entrance of sin and misery into this world, no satisfactory solution exists, but that which is given in Divine Revelation. The wisest and best of the heathen writers of old were utterly baffled in the attempt to solve the problem; nor is it to be wondered at that those who now attempt to solve it apart from Scripture signally fail to do so. Yet confident in their own powers and theories, men reject the only true Light. But even though thought weak and contemptible by the wise of this world, the Christian may with truth say, "By the words of thy lips have I kept me from the paths of the destroyer," and may rest assured that he is "kept by the power of God through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed."