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ccomplishment; it will be necessary, in the first place, to ascertain what that end is.
That the Almighty, in creation, had an end in view above what we can discover from creation itself, is admitted by every Christian. But it is to be feared that this end is not always considered to have been such as could originate in nothing but love, infinitely pure and disinterested. His own glory is thought to be an end not unworthy of the Most High, in giving existence to worlds and their inhabitants ; and of glory, in relation to God, men generally form an idea from that by the love of which fallen man is too powerfully actuated. The love of self-glory can have no place in the Divine mind; and although the Lord demands the service and the homage of His creatures, it is not for His own sake, but for theirs. The salvation, or, in other words, the happiness of man, is the end of all the Divine requirements; and in the same end creation itself must have originated. The happiness of the human race, not in time only, but in eternity, is the beginning and the end of creation. The earth must therefore have been designed simply as the seminary of heaven, and man so constituted as to be an inhabitant of both; that he might, after the necessary preparation here below, enter into the activities and enjoyments of the kingdom above.
Now a means, both generally and particularly, must have respect to the end in which it originates and is designed to accomplish ; and not the temporary but the eternal happiness of man was the grand or final end which the Almighty had in view in the creation of the world. It follows that the world and all it contains must have relation to the end which it was thus designed to promote.
Admitting it simply as a probable idea that in all the progressions of His stupendous works the Divine Being had this single end in view, how wide a field does creation open for the exercise of our spiritual powers, and how exalted a conception does it give the mind of creation as a work of Divine benevolence and wisdom !
That creation affords abundant evidence not only of the being, but also of the goodness and wisdom of God, has been ably shown by many Christian writers. But although it is generally believed that the nature and character of God may be traced in the work of creation, it is less frequently supposed that creation contains any distinct traces of the moral nature and character of man. But if nature was framed only as a preparatory step to the production of man, and if man was produced in this world only that he might live in bliss for ever in another, it is evident that this end must be present and operative in the whole progression of the works of God. It may truly be said, therefore, that man is in all creation ; that creation at once embodies, proclaims, and ministers to the grand end which gave it birth; and that every part of it must bear a most intimate relation to man as its object and its ornament. When I say that creation must bear a most intimate relation to man, I mean such a relation as is implied in the doctrine of the ancients, that man is a microcosm, or little world, having all the qualities and wonders of the great world concentrated in himself. This doctrine is not to be regarded as a discovery of heathen philosophy, but as a ray of that Divine light which was and is more or less universally diffused among all nations from the only centre of all illumination—the revealed Word of God, either intuitive or written.
I have already said that creation, being a means, must contain within itself the end which gave it birth, and this may
be in the first place, in the progress of creation. Admitting the existence of the end, it is evident that every act of creative power must have been an effort, so to speak, to bring that end into effect; and every production of creative power must have been a step towards the final result. It is reasonable to conceive, therefore, that the Divine design will be more clearly unfolded in every successive stage of the great work. Now this is precisely the case. The earth itself, considering that term as confined to the mineral kingdom, bears the most remote resemblance to man; the vegetable kingdom approaches nearer to him in form and function ; but the animal kingdom approaches nearest of all, and shows itself to have been the last step in the progress of creation to the production of the human race. This resemblance is indeed so close that many even of the learned have not scrupled to maintain that there is no actual line of distinction between them. But, notwithstanding the wonderful intelligence, so to call their instinctive wisdom, which God has implanted in the mere animal nature, there is one line of demarcation between man and all inferior creatures that can never be overpassed. Man possesses the power of being elevated above nature, and of thinking analytically and rationally of things moral and religious, spiritual and divine. The resemblance between man and animals is the resemblance not of sameness but of analogy. It is the resemblance of two natures separated by a discrete degree. The one ends where the other begins. They touch, but they do not mix. It is in consequence of a perfect analogy existing between man and the world that he inhabits, that he finds himself in a world perfectly adapted to develop his powers of mind as well as of body, and perfectly adapted to initiate him into the life that prepares the soul for heaven.
But contemplating creation as it exists, we may consider the works of God as to their influence upon man; and we shall here behold how wisely they are adapted to prepare him for the acquirement of spiritual things and the enjoyment of a spiritual kingdom.
The effects of creation upon the senses is to convey to the natural mind the most vivid impressions of beauty, harmony, and order; and thus to form in him a general state of feeling and perception into which corresponding spiritual impressions and perceptions may descend-to fix in the mind a mirror from nature, in which the beauties and harmonies of heaven may be reflected to the rational perceptions of the indwelling soul. In this use of the works of God, it may be seen that their influence on the mind may be greatly increased by education; and especially by directing the tender minds of youth to look through creation up to its Divine Author, and to apply all their knowledge to enable them more fully to know themselves and the duties they owe to God and to each other.
But creation may be made to produce still higher effects upon the mind, if we consider nature as a storehouse of analogies of spiritual things and of qualities existing in the human mind. For if man considers all the subjects of nature in her triple kingdom as types of principles or qualities existing in himself, he will then find creation to be a book in which he may not only trace the Creator's eternal power and Godhead, but read his own moral and spiritual nature, both as it is when under the dominion of good, and as it is when under the influence of evil.
If, as an example, we take the animal kingdom, and consider the various individuals which compose it, as types of the various affections of the human mind, we shall find this confirmed and illustrated. Under this view, the venomous and destructive creatures are evident types of the fierce passions and disorderly appetites which deform the mind and character of the evil man, while the gentle and useful creatures are obvious emblems of the mild and orderly affections of the heaven-born mind. And when man is governed by such evil passions as malice and revenge, and by the merely sensual appetites, he is as fierce as the fierce and savage animals beneath him; and, but for the restraints imposed by law and the love of reputation, he would be much more destructive. But when man is under the influence of such good affections as mercy, charity, and contentment, he then becomes a moral and spiritual form of those pure and innocent affections which the mild and useful subjects of creation embody and represent, and he also becomes an instrument of use, extensive and excellent, in proportion to the quantity of such good affections which he may possess.
When man thus reads the book of nature, he finds it fraught with instruction both profitable and delightful. He finds inscribed upon it, in the most expressive and symbolical characters, the nature and consequences of good and evil, and may learn from it to love and cultivate the one, and to hate and shun the other. Every increase of the knowledge in this case furnishes the means by which he may acquire an enlarged knowledge of humanity. And thus science becomes indeed the handmaid of religion; and the works of God unite with His Word in carrying on the great work of man's regeneration, and in advancing the great end-man's happiness, for the sake of which both the Word and the works of God exist.
But there is still another and a higher respect in which the world is wisely adapted for advancing the spiritual improvement of man, we mean as to its social arrangement. Some have entertained the idea that if man were removed entirely from the evil influences and example of society, he might, by a right education, reach a state of purity and virtue. But however much every lover of the human family must deplore the evils hy which they are corrupted, there is the strongest reasons for believing that the very
circumstances which seem fraught with the greatest evils and dangers are yet attended with the greatest possible measure of good and security. If the acquirement of good were all that was necessary to form the character, this might be the case. But a primary part of regeneration consists in casting out evil; and society, with all its discords, is that in which alone this can be done effectually or done at all.
Human beings, of all creatures, are most dependent upon others even for the mere means of bodily support. But for all that adds to mental culture and devotion, man is nothing without the aid of other minds already cultivated. The world without him, even its moral aspect, is an image of the world within, and it is by the action and re-action of the one upon the other that the individual mind is disciplined and the character formed. We may rely upon it, therefore, that, as Providence ever works out its ends by the means which exist, both by prevision and provision, that the world in which we live is the best adapted to promote the Divine purpose in the creation both of the world and of man-the spiritual improvement and eternal happiness of the soul.
THE NEW YEAR.
It is the last day of the old year. Just such a day as one fancies to be appropriate. The snow is lying on the ground, which had previously been hardened by the severe frost, and the air is keen enough to bring a rosy hue to the cheek after a brisk walk. Hopping about, now on the window-sill and then on the yard-pavement, my old friend the robin pecks the crumbs my wife has thrown down, and greets me with the compliments of the season. Take care of the cat, my friend, for he is a sworn enemy of the birds. I wonder whether the robin has enjoyed any of the Christmas festivities, for he looks plump and well. Is it the same robin that came last year? or is it another who makes friendship for a short time for his own convenience? Although robins are very similar, I have a foregone conclusion that it is the same; for I do not like to think that friendship passes away so quickly. Every one knows that a true friendship is one of the consolations of life.
I miss the fields that used to lie around draped with a garment of spotless white. Instead, I see heaps of bricks and partly-finished buildings. It was not so at least this time last year. But if we live in the world we must expect changes. The encroachments of man on the country are necessary for the world's ress. We cannot get finality in anything. The plans of a year ago are considerably modified by time. They may vanish as a dream of the past, wiped out by the exigencies of to-day. Yet they remain as life-marks; and so do the events of the year about to close its career. Think over them, my friends; for this is the time when one feels inclined to write the memoirs of his past life, let us say (modestly), for his own improvement.
But these remembrances of ours, what are they? One thing is certain, each has his own, and they are different from those of any one else. Here and there similar events may have produced a feeling of sympathy; but as it is true that every heart knoweth its own bitterness, so is it also true that every heart knoweth its own joy. Let us hope that for your sake and my sake, and the world's sake, the joy will be plentiful in the coming year. And yet every year of your life, I fancy, you find that joy is not dependent on external circumstances,
" It is the mind that makes the body rich ;
And as the sun breaks through the darkest clouds,