Contents The Christian System
by Alexander Campbell



I. ONE God, one system of nature, one universe. That universe is composed of innumerable systems, which, in perfect concert move forward in subordination to one supreme end. That one end of all things is the sovereign and infinite pleasure of Him who inhabits eternity and animates the universe with his presence. So worship and adore the heavenly hierarchies, saying: -- "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."

II. The universe is a system of systems, not only as respects the seventy-five millions of suns and their attendant planets, which fill up the already discovered fields of ethereal space; but in reference to the various systems, separate, though united; distinct, though amalgamated; heterogeneous, though homogeneous; which are but component parts of every solar system -- of every planet in that system, and of every organic, and every inorganic mass on each planet. Thus in the person of a single individual man, we have an animal system, an intellectual system, a moral system, running into each other, and connecting themselves with every thing of a kindred nature in the whole universe of God: just as we have in the human body itself a system of solids, and a system of fluids; and these again forming themselves into a system of bones, a system of nerves, a system of arteries, a system of veins, etc.

III. Now as no one system is insular and independent, no system can be understood abstractly. Every particular system must be viewed in reference to that system which is proximate to it in nature and use. Thus we view the bones in the human body as connected with the muscles, the muscles as connected with the nerves, the nerves as connected with the arteries, the arteries as connected with the veins -- and these all as connected with all the human frame, and with the fluids evolved by them, or circulated through them, etc.

IV. As, then, the systems of the universe and the sciences which treat of them, run into each other and mutually lend and borrow light, illustration, and development; it is a mark of imbecility of mind, rather than of strength; of folly, rather than of wisdom; for any one to dogmatise with an air of infallibility, or to assume the attitude of perfect intelligence on any one subject of human thought, without an intimate knowledge of the whole universe. But as such knowledge is not within the grasp of feeble mortal man, whose horizon is a point of creation, and whose days are but a moment of time, it is superlatively incongruous for any son of science, or of religion, to affirm that this or that issue is absolutely irrational, unjust, or unfitting the schemes of eternal Providence, or the purposes of the supreme wisdom and benevolence, only as he is guided by the oracles of infallible wisdom, or the inspirations of the Almighty. Who could pronounce upon the wisdom and utility of a single joint, without a knowledge of the limb to which it belongs; of that limb, without an understanding of the body to which it ministers; of that body, without a clear perception of the world in which it moves, and of the relations which it sustains; of that world, without some acquaintance with the solar system of which it is but a small part; of that particular solar system, without a general and even intimate knowledge of all the kindred systems; of all these kindred systems, without a thorough comprehension of the ultimate design of the whole creation; of that ultimate design, without a perfect intelligence of that incomprehensible Being by whom, and for whom all things were created and made? How gracefully, then, sits unassuming modesty on all the reasonings of man. The true philosopher and the true Christian, therefore, delight always to appear in the unaffected costume of humility, candour, and docility -  

"He who through the vast immensity can pierce,
See worlds on worlds compose one universe;
Observe how system into system runs,
What other planets circle other suns,
What varied beings people every star,
May tell why God has made us as we are."


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