THEOLOGY—ITS DEFINITION—HISTORICAL ILLUSTRATIONS.
Eternal Science! who would fathom thee
Must launch his bark upon a shoreless sea.
Thy knowledge yet shall overwhelm the earth,
Thy truth to immortality to give birth;
Thy dawn shall kindle to eternal day,
And man, immortal, still shall own thy sway.
First. THEOLOGY is the science of communication, or of correspondence, between God, angels, spirits, and men, by means of visions, dreams, interpretations, conversations, inspirations, or the spirit of prophecy and revelation.
Second. It is the science by which worlds are organized, sustained, and directed, and the elements controlled.
Third. It is the science of knowledge, and the key and power thereof, by which the heavens are opened, and lawful access is obtained to the treasures of wisdom and intelligence—inexhaustible, infinite, embracing the past, the present, and the future.
Fourth. It is the science of life—endless and eternal, by which the living are changed or translated, and the dead raised.
Fifth. It is the science of faith, reformation, and remission of sins, whereby a fallen race of mortals may be justified, cleansed, and restored to the communion and fellowship of that Holy Spirit which is the light of the world, and of every intelligence therein.
Sixth. It is the science of spiritual gifts, by which the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the sick are healed, and demons are expelled from the human system.
Seventh. It is the science of all other sciences and useful arts, being in fact the very fountain from which they emanate. It includes philosophy, astronomy, history, mathematics, geography, languages, the science of letters; and blends the knowledge of all matters of fact, in every branch of art, or of research. It includes, also, all the scientific discoveries and inventions—agriculture, the mechanical arts, architecture, shipbuilding, the properties and applications of the mariner’s compass, navigation, and music. All that is useful, great, and good; all that is calculated to sustain, comfort, instruct, edify, purify, refine, or exalt intelligences; originated by this science, and this science alone, all other sciences being but branches growing out of this—root.
Some of the facts stated in the foregoing, are beautifully illustrated in Theological history, of which the following is an imperfect summary—
God spake, and the worlds were framed by His word.
He spake, darkness dispersed, and light prevailed.
He commanded, and the elements—water and earth, separated, and assumed their proper bounds.
He commanded, and the earth brought forth vegetable and animal life in countless variety.
He commanded, and man, male and female, took upon them a tabernacle of flesh, and prepared to multiply and perpetuate their species in the new creation.
“The Lord God planted a garden,” and thus introduced agriculture.
“He made coats of skins,” hence the tailor’s art.
The Lord God commanded and gave pattern for Noah’s Ark, thus introducing the art of shipbuilding.
He revealed the patterns for the Tabernacle in the wilderness, with all its arrangements and furniture; and afterwards developed the entire plan and all the designs of that most stupendous of all works of art—the great Temple of Solomon, with all its furniture; thus developing and improving the art of architecture.
The Lord God wrote with His own finger on the “tables of stone,” on Mount Sinai; thus showing that the science of letters was cultivated and used by the highest Intelligence of the eternal heavens.
The Lord God has revealed by Ezekiel the Prophet, a plan for the survey and division of Palestine to the Twelve Tribes of Israel, on their return to the land of their fathers; also for laying out the new city of Jerusalem, with its squares, blocks, public grounds, and suburbs, and its temple.
Thus Theology includes the surveyor’s art, and the planning of cities, as well as temples, and shows that these arts are cultivated in heaven, and that the very highest Intelligence of the Heaven of heavens, stoops, or condescends, to grace these arts by His own particular attention and example.
In the Revelation of John the Apostle, on the Isle of Patmos, we have a specimen, a masterpiece, a climax of all that is great and grand in design, and splendid and glorious in execution, in cities, thrones, palaces, streets, pavements, outgrounds, gates, walks, squares, fountains, rivulets, gardens, fruits, groves, specimens of dress, poetry, song, music, marriage, bridal dress, feasting, books, literature, public worship, prophesying, prayer, and praise, as existing in and around the palaces of the New Jerusalem, the capital of heaven, the seat of government of the Eternal King.
The very gates of the city are numbered and named, together with the particular names of the precious stones forming the foundations thereof; the gold which composed the pavement of the streets—all are portrayed in the description.
And what is still more marvellous, all this surpassing grandeur of design, and stupendous wisdom and display in execution, were explored, comprehended, and described by a poor, illiterate fisherman, by the aid of the science and arts of Theology.
Having reviewed some of the works of the great Head—the President or First Teacher in the school of Theology, we will still continue the historic illustrations of this wonderful science, as developed and exemplified by the most eminent students and professors of the same.
By this science Adam obtained from his Father, the promise of the eternal dominion over the planet on which he was placed.
By this science Enoch overcame death, and ascended to a higher sphere of immortality and eternal life, without even being separated from his fleshly tabernacle.
By this science Noah foretold the flood, prepared to meet the event, and, with his family, survived the same, and became the greatest landed proprietor since Adam.
By the perversion and unlawful use of this science king Nimrod built the stupendous Tower of Babel, but was frustrated, and his works were destroyed before their completion.
By this science various tongues and languages were instituted, and colonies—the germs of nations, planted beyond the seas and in all the earth.
By this science Abraham escaped the idolatry and priestcraft of the Egyptians, and of the world around him; obtained a good land secured to him and his seed by an immutable oath, covenant, and an everlasting, unchangeable title.
By this science he conversed with angels, and was favoured with a personal interview with the Great Head and Founder of the science, who became his guest, and, after eating and drinking with him, blessed him and his wife, promised them an heir in their old age, and finally, on parting, told him His design on Sodom and its neighbourhood.
By this science Lot escaped the flames of Sodom, the knowledge being communicated by two angels.
By this science Isaac and Jacob also obtained promises, and conversed with angels.
By it Joseph was exalted from a dungeon to a palace, for the salvation, from famine, of a nation and of his father’s house.
By this science Moses performed his wonders in Egypt, in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness.
By the perversion and unlawful use of this science the magicians of
Egypt withstood Moses for a time, and performed their enchantments.
By this science Joshua controlled the motions of the earth, and lengthened out the day by a simple command.
By this science the walls of Jericho were levelled with the earth, and the city was taken.
By this science the Jordan river was divided, while a nation crossed dry shod, to take possession of the promised land.
By this science Elijah controlled the heavens, that it rained not for three years and six months in Palestine. And by it he called forth and restored rain.
By it he overthrew the priests of Baal, and the kingdom of Ahab; put an end to the royal family of this idolatrous king; and placed Jehu on the throne.
By it he rose, like Enoch, to a higher sphere, without returning to dust.
By this science Samuel prophesied, raised up a mighty king and nation, and afterwards dethroned Saul, and exalted an obscure shepherd boy to the throne of Israel.
By this science Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and others, foretold the fate of Babylon, Egypt, Tyre, Jerusalem, and other cities and nations; and the exact career and final doom of Nebuchadnezzar, Belteshazzar, Cyrus, and other great and important personages, who were destined in turn to influence and decide the fate of nations.
By this science the furnace of fire was overcome, and the months of lions were closed, that no harm should befall the holy men of God.
By this science Zachariah, Elizabeth, John the Baptist, Simeon, Anna, Joseph, Mary, the wise men from the east, and the shepherds of Judea, enjoyed visions, communion with angels, and the spirit of prophecy, so as to understand and welcome with joy the events of the birth and approaching ministry of Jesus Christ, when, as yet, all those not versed in this science, were in darkness on the subject, and as liable to reject the Saviour as to receive him.
Dreams and visions, enjoyed by means of this science, led and protected the Son of God in all his career of mortal life.
Finally—By this same power a mighty angel descended, shook the earth, frightened the Roman guards, rolled away the great stone, broke the seal of the tomb, and called to life the sleeping body of Jesus Christ.
By this power the risen Jesus, eating, drinking, and conversing with his disciples, after his resurrection, commissioned and instructed them in the same science, ordained them to act in the same, and to impart its power to others, in all the world, with signs following them that believed.
By this science he ascended to the Father, and lives for ever in the flesh, to shed forth the gifts and powers of the same science, according to his own will, and the will of his Father, to reign henceforth until he descends to the earth, conquers death in a last great conflict, and puts all enemies under his feet.
By this same power his Apostles, being clothed with the full powers of the same on the day of Pentecost, ministered the powers and knowledge of this science to others, both Jew and Gentile, insomuch that the sick were healed, the blind saw, the dumb spake, the deaf heard, the lame walked, devils were cast out, and the dead were raised, while everywhere, dreams, visions, the ministering of angels, and the gift of prophecy were enjoyed.