I. Did God create the world?

We must first define and understand what is meant by the terms here used. To create is to produce something out of nothing. The term world is used in the Scriptures in four different significations. It means :

1. The structure, or frame, of the whole universe, comprising heaven, earth and all things which are in them. “ The world was made by him.” (John 1:10.)

2. Worldly concupiscence.

3. The ungodly, or unregenerate, who are in the world. (John 17 : 9.)

4. Those who are chosen out of the world. “That the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” “God so loved the world.” (John 17 : 21 ; 3:16)

That God created the world, we know:

First, from the testimony of the holy Scripture, “as, for instance, from the history of the creation as written by Moses. Also, from other passages of Scripture, and especially the following : “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the hosts of them by the breath of his mouth.” “He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.” (Ps. 33: 6, 9.) There are other places also, in the Psalms, and elsewhere, where the wonderful works of God are more largely spoken of, and where the principal parts of the world, which God created, are dwelt upon, in order that we may, by a proper consideration of them, be led to trust in God. (Ps. 104, 113, 124, 136, 146.) God himself shewed unto Job his marvelous and inconceivable works, as they appear in the heavens and earth, in connection with other things which he had created, that he might declare his justice, power, and providence. (Job 38 and 39.)

Secondly, beside the testimony of the Scriptures, there are many other arguments which prove in the most satisfactory manner, that the world was created by God; among which we may mention the following:

1. The origin of nations, as given by Moses, shows this, which account could not have been invented by him, when there were some remembrances of it still in the minds of many, which, however, in the course of time became lost.

2. The novelty of all other histories as compared with the antiquity of sacred history.

3. The age of man decreasing, shows that there was at first a greater strength in nature, and that it has decreased hitherto not without some first cause.

4. The certain course of time from the beginning of the world, down to the coming of the Messiah. 5. The constitution and preservation of commonwealths.

6. The order of things in nature, which must, of necessity, have been produced by some intelligent mind superior to all things.

7. The excellency of the mind of man and of angels. These intelligent beings have a beginning. They must, therefore, have sprung from some intelligent cause.

8. The natural principles and notions which are engraven upon our hearts.

9. The chidings, or reproofs of conscience in the ungodly.

10. The ends of all things wisely ordered.

11. Finally, all the other arguments which prove that there is a God, prove also that the world was created by him.

Thirdly, there are, also, philosophical arguments, which go to prove that the world was created, and that by God, although they cannot prove when it was created.

1. There is, in nature, no infinite progress of causes and effects ; otherwise, nature would never attain its end. Therefore the world had a beginning.

2. The world is the first and most excellent of all effects. Therefore, it is from the first and most excellent cause, which is God.

But there are other questions, as, whether the world was created by God from all eternity, or in time—that is, whether it be an effect of equal perpetuity with his own cause, or had it at some time a beginning, prior to which it had no existence? Also, if there was a time when the world did not exist, was it necessary that God should create it.

Also, whether it shall endure forever ; and if so, will it remain the same, or will it be changed? These, and similar questions, cannot be decided by philosophy—and the reason is because all these things depend upon the will of the first mover, which is God, who does not act from necessity, but most freely. But the will of God is not known to any creature, unless God himself reveal it. Hence it is that we find it in the church alone, whilst heathen philosophers are ignorant of it ; for they cannot arrive at any knowledge of these things by reasoning a posteriori—that is, from a continued effect to its cause. It is true, indeed, that there is a certain cause of these effects, but it does not follow that these effects were produced by this cause either at this or that time, or from all eternity, because a free agent may either act or suspend his action, at pleasure. The sum of the proof is this : no effect, that is depending upon such a cause as acts freely, or contingently, can be demonstrated by that cause. The creation of the world is such an effect. Therefore, it cannot be proven by the will of the first mover, which is God, that it was either created from all eternity, or that it had its beginning in time.
Whatever arguments philosophers may, therefore, bring against the creation of the world, it is easy to see that they are not drawn from true philosophy, but from the imaginations of men, if the order of the generation and change of things which God established in nature, be distinguished from the creation.

Obj. 1. It is absurd (philosophers tell us) to suppose that God is idle.

Ans. It is, indeed, absurd to say that he who governs the world is idle. And if it be further objected to this, that he could not govern the world when as yet it did not exist, and that he must, therefore, have been idle before the creation of all things, we reply by denying the consequence ; because, if God did not, from everlasting, govern the world, yet he was not idle ; for he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, and constructed hell for wicked and curious men, who presumptuously endeavor to pry into the secret counsels of the Most High, as Augustine wittily answered a certain African, demanding of him what God did before he created the world ; “ He made hell” said he, “for curious and inquisitive men.”

Obj. 2. Every thing which has a beginning, has an end. The world has no end. Therefore it had no beginning.

Ans. The major is to be distinguished. Every thing that has a beginning through natural generation has an end ; for corruption does not follow creation, but the generation of one thing out of another, by the order of nature. And the power of God is certainly sufficient, that he can either preserve in the same state, or change, or reduce to nothing, as well those things which he formed out of others, as those which he produced out of nothing.