We Are Without Excuse
Earth Not a Globe Review Nos. 1-3
The inspired Psalmist says that “ The heavens declare of glory of ( and the firmament sheweth his handywork ”; therefore, whatever some professed Christians affirm to the contrary, the subject of Creation is connected with right views of God, his worship, and his glory. But if we would have a right conception of God, and his glory, we must see to it that we have a right conception of his works in Creation. How, for instance, do we obtain an insight into the character of any great man, whether he be a poet, politician, sculptor, general, or king ? It is not by his acts, or his works? But suppose these acts, or works, are misrepresented to us, or defaced by someone, should we not have , false and distorted views respecting the author, artist, or the maker of those things? Assuredly. And so it comes to pass in respect to the construction of the world, false views of the universe have led men into a misconception respecting the Character of God, and even alas ! in many cases, to a denial of the very existence of such a personal Being.
Let us, then, endeavour to come back to first principles. The world exists, and must have come from somewhere. It is “ unthinkable ” to say it came by chance, or any “ fortuitous concourse of atoms.” Its wonderful variety, the general co-relation and adaptability of its various parts, and the exact and never failing motions of all the heavenly bodies, prove, to any well-balanced and unprejudiced mind, that some grand and controlling Intelligence directs and rules over all. As the apostle Paul declares, “ The invisible things of Him from the creation to the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead : so that they are without excuse.” Rom. 1:20.
A grand truth lies in this statement of the apostle. Paul was no fool. It is allowed on all sides, alike by friend and foe, Sceptic and Christian, M. Renan and the Archbishop of Canterbury, that no one man has had more influence in forming Christianity, the history of which has for eighteen centuries been making the history of the civilized world, than the apostle Paul. His name will be had in honour when the names of the adversaries of the truth will have sunk into merited and everlasting oblivion. And this great man agrees with the Psalmist in teaching that the Creation, as set forth in the Bible, and as found in what some call “ Nature,” sets forth unmistakably the grand truth that God is. Now, this is a fundamental verity, and the foundation of all true faith, G o d i s . And “ he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Now, this faith is, on the one hand, neither an unreasoning credulity, nor, on the other hand, is it a bigoted (belief: It is based on an intelligent and reasonable understanding of the things that are seen above and around us.
The Book of Nature is open to all men; but it must be read and studied without prejudice and without philosophical bias. We must come to it like little children, with the honest desire to know the truth, and not attempt to read into it our own, nor any one else’s, plausible or implausible hypotheses. If we do this patiently and persistently, we shall be “ rewarded ” : the grand and ineffaceable truth will dawn upon us that God is.
We shall see His glory in the bright and blazing sun as he goes forth majestically, like a giant, to run his daily course. We shall own His Power and Godhead when the moon, queen of the night, rises in quiet and stately splendour, to reflect her silver radiance in every rippling stream. And we shall confess His wisdom and unfailing skill when, at night, we gaze up into the firmament and behold ten thousand glittering gems, shining in matchless beauty, and shedding upon the earth their silent influences, as they nightly perform their appointed revolutions.
“ The firmament sheweth His handiwork.’’ That vast and incomparable structure which spans the heavens, and covers the earth with its capacious dome, divides the waters which are “ above” the firmament from the waters which are “ under ” the firmament. And when we realize something of the tremendous size of this tent-like covering, spanning with one mighty arch across the whole of the outstretched earth ; when we considered its weight, its strength, its stability, and the avowed purpose for which it was made by the Creator, we can unhesitatingly and devoutly again exclaim with the Psalmist, “The firmament sheweth His handiwork.”
No wonder such a “ work ” occupied the whole of one day, the third, in the “ great and marvellous ” work of the six days Creation. Job, one of the finest, and certainly one of the most ancient, of true philosophers, when comparing the works of God with the puny works of man, asks : “ Hast thou with Him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten lo o k in g glass ? ” Job 37 ; 18. It is, perhaps, this mirror-like quality which the firmament possesses that makes unbelieving “ scientists ” think that they can, with their glasses, peer into what they call “ space,” which they affirm to be “ boundless.” As well might a child, gazing upon the bosom of a glassy lake, affirm that it had no bottom, and that the sky and clouds, reflected from its placid surface, were slumbering in the unfathomed depths below, and not above, its waters.
The idea of unlimited “space,” filled with an infinity of revolving worlds or globes, is not only a bewildering idea, unfounded on fact, but it directly tends to remove the Creator, or rather the idea of a Creator, far, and farther, away from this earthly plane of ours. It necessarily and logically leads to Atheism; and too often, alas! it practically leads men there. The idea of Heaven as a place, the abode of The Eternal, becomes to the logical and thinking Newtonian a 7nyth and God, if he acknowledge such a personal Being at all, becomes farther and farther removed from the scene of all earthly operations. Whereas the Saviour of the World, who “ came down from Heaven,” to do his Father’s will, taught His disciples to believe that Heaven was not very far off; that it was directly and always “ above ” u s ; that God was concerned in the work of His hands; and that as “our Father,” He was near enough to hear the prayers of all those who call upon him in sincerity and truth. This is assuring : this is comforting. God cares for the world ; and He will punish those who afflict mankind with their selfishness, their greed, their falsehoods, and their oppressions. Yea, God has “ so loved the world”—not the “ globe,” as some misguided Christians have lately printed and perverted this sublime text with a ridiculous “ globe” stamped on the paper—God “ so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” This, we say, is comforting. It is assuring. But, on the astronomical hypothesis, the world is like an uncared-for orphan, or a desolate wanderer: God is removed too far from us to be any practical use; and the idea of Heaven is so vague, that such a place, if it exist at all, may be anywhere or nowhere; “all round the globe;” or spirited away from us altogether, “beyond the bounds of time and space.” Thus the Christian’s hope is undermined, and his faith is eaten away at the very core by this insidious and so-called “ scientific” worm. This is most calamitous ; yet even some of our “ spiritual guides ” are either so false to their professions, or are so deceived themselves, that they cry out, “ It does not matter what shape the earth is ; we don’t care whether it be round or flat, square or oblong, so long as ’—yes, so long as they get a good “ living,” and hold a respectable position in society ? Is this it ? Such a confession really means, when put into plain language, We do not care whether the Bible be true or false, in its record of Creation, so long as our interests or our hope of “ Salvation ” is assured. But “ woe ” is pronounced against such easy going shepherds of Israel. “ Woe” to them who are leaving their flocks to become a prey to the devouring wolves of “ Science, ” “ falsely so called,” as the great apostle intimates. Let us be on our guard. There are honourable exceptions to such false shepherds and teachers, and others are being raised up to warn us. We have quoted some of their noble testimonies. Let us give heed to these needful warnings. God has never left Himself without witnesses to His Truth whether in Nature or in Revelation. We may shew this, if the Lord permit, more fully another time as regards Creation truth. In conclusion, we would call the attention of all our readers to the seasonable warning given us by the Apostle Paul, where he says;— ‘‘ Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ,” Col. 2 : 8. And again, Let us “ prove all things ; and hold fast that which is good.”