Of The Divine Agency In The Production Of Material Phenomena -- By: George I. Chace

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 005:18 (May 1848)
Article: Of The Divine Agency In The Production Of Material Phenomena
Author: George I. Chace

Of The Divine Agency In The Production Of Material

George I. Chace

What is matter? Has it a real existence, or is it merely phenomenal? Does it consist of atoms, endowed each with certain properties, or is it made up of points, around each of which certain powers are constantly manifested? Has it a separate and independent existence and does it act by virtue of its own inherent energies, or are the effects which we commonly refer to matter, in reality due to the Divine power exerted within certain prescribed limits and according to certain prescribed laws? Is the external world through all its parts and in all its relations, what our senses represent it to us, or are we deceived by our senses and led to infer reality or substance where there are only appearances?

On this question, the schools, both in ancient and modern times, have been divided. The Hindoo sages, who three thousand years ago, taught philosophy upon the banks of the Indus and the Ganges, inculcated the belief in simple phenomena. According to their doctrine, matter has no real existence. It is only the sensible manifestation of the Divine essence. The world is a perpetual creation; the universe a vast system of appearances, supported and kept up by the constant presence and power of the Deity. It is in fact, Brahm, their supreme God, acting. When this great being sinks into repose, which according to the Indian mythology has repeatedly happened, then all matter is annihilated, and spirits even “endowed with principles of action, depart from their several acts,” and go to be reabsorbed in the Divine substance. When at length, after ages of slumber, he again wakes to action, then the universe once more appears, pervaded in every part by life, order and beauty.

The ancient Egyptian philosophers, less subtile and refined in their speculations, were content to admit the existence of matter on the simple testimony of the senses. They however supposed it to be pervaded everywhere by the Deity, and ascribed to this cause the exhibition of its powers and properties. .Indeed, the triads so universally worshipped in the temples on the Nile, were only personified types or emblems of a primary law of nature regulating and controll-

ing the evolution of all its phenomena. Nothing acts by itself. In order that any one element or one portion of matter may exhibit its properties, it must be brought into relation to some other element or other portion of matter. Without this, it remains wholly inert. But when this indispensable condition has been secured, then an immediate action ensues, which though itself incapable of being perceived by the senses, is rendered sufficiently manifest through the effects produced by it. ...

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