THE FIRST CREATION
12. After having considered the universe under general points of view, its composition, its laws, and its properties, we can extend our studies to the mode of formation which gave light to worlds and beings. We would descend then to the creation of the Earth particularly, and to its actual state in the universality of things, and from whence, taking the globe as a starting-point and for relative unity, we would proceed with our planetary and sidereal studies.
13. If we have well considered the connection, or rather the opposition, of eternity to time, — if we are familiar with the idea that time is only a relative measure in the succession of transitory things, whilst eternity is essentially immovable and permanent, and that it is susceptible of no measurement as regards duration of time, — we should comprehend that there is no commencement or end to it.
On the other side, if we could form a just idea — although necessarily a very feeble one — of the infinitude of divine power, we could comprehend how it is possible that the universe has always been, and always will be; how God’s eternal perfections always spoke of him before worlds were born. Before time was born, immeasurable eternity received the divine word, and impregnated space eternal as itself.
14. God, who has always existed, has created through all eternity, and could not be otherwise, for, however far back is the epoch that our imagination can reach for the supposed limits of creation, there will always exist an eternity beyond that limit. Weigh well this thought, — an eternity during which the divine hypostasis, the infinite volition, had been absorbed in a mute, inactive, and unfruitful lethargy, an eternity of apparent death for the eternal Father who gives life to beings; of indifferent speechlessness for the Word which governs them, of cold and selfish sterility for the spirit of love and of vivication.
Let us better comprehend the grandeur of divine action, and its perpetuity under the semblance of an absolute being! God is the sun of beings: he is the light of the world. Now, the appearance of the sun gives birth instantaneously to floods of light, which fill all space. So does the universe, born of the Eternal, raise us in thought to unimaginable periods of infinite duration, even to the time of the “Fiat lux” in the beginning.
15. The contemplation of the absolute beginning of objects raises us to their Creator. Their successive appearance in the domain of existence constitute the order of perpetual creation.
What mortal is there who knows how to reveal the unknown and superbly veiled magnificence which lay under the darkness of the ages, which was developed in those ancient times when none of the marvels of the present universe existed? At this primitive epoch, where the voice of the Lord was making itself heard, the materials which were in the future to assemble symmetrically to form themselves into the temple of nature were found on the bosom of the infinite void, when at the sound of this mysterious voice, which every creature venerates as a mother’s, when the morning stars harmoniously sang together!
The world was in its cradle; it was not yet established in its strength and plenitude of life. No; the creative power never contradicts itself; and, like all things, the universe was born a child. Invested with laws previously framed, and by initial impulsion inherent in its formation, primitive cosmic matter gave birth successively to whirlwinds, to agglomerations of diffuse fluid, to masses of nebulous matter, infinitely modified and divided, in order to form in the immeasurable regions of space different centers of simultaneous or successive creations.
By reason of forces which predominate over each other, and by ulterior circumstances which presided at their developments, these primitive centers became each the focus of a special life. Those least disseminated in space, and riches in acting forces and principles, commenced from that time their particular astral life. Others occupying unlimited space grew very slowly, or divided themselves anew into other secondary centers.
16. In carrying ourselves back only a few millions of centuries beyond this present epoch, our Earth did not exist. Our solar system had not yet commenced the evolutions of planetary life; and yet splendid suns illuminated the ether. Already inhabited planets gave life and existence to a multitude of beings who have preceded us in our earthly career. Opulent productions of an unknown nature, and marvelous heavenly phenomena, had developed, under the gaze of others eyes, pictures of boundless creation, and even more. Already some splendors, which had caused the hearts of other mortals, at one time, then to palpitate with the thought of infinite power, were effaced; and we poor little beings who come after an eternity of life has passed, we believe ourselves contemporaneous with creation!
Yet again let us comprehend nature better. Let us know that eternity is both before and behind us, that space is the theater of an unimaginable succession and simultaneity of creations. The nebula we scarcely distinguish in the far-distant heavens are agglomerations of suns in process of formation; others are milky ways of inhabited worlds; others the seat of catastrophe and decay. Let us know that even as we are placed in the midst of an infinitude of worlds, even as we are in a double infinitude of anterior and ulterior durations, that universal creation is not for us alone, and that we must not consider this, our little globe, as an isolated formation.