Vain Dreamers & Their Imaginary Worlds;
The Lies of Lucian, Johannes Kepler,
And other Raving Madmen
Excerpted from Herman Witsuis’
Sacred Dissertations on the Apostles’ Creed,
Diss. 8, ¶ 74-87.
LXXIV. There is only ONE world, this very world, of the creation of which we are now treating, which was made by Christ, into which Christ came, and which comprehends within its circuit all things that were made. [John 1.3,10.] To imagine a plurality of worlds, existing either at the same time or in succession, is the raving of men who are not afraid of "intruding into those things which they have not seen, vainly puffed up by their own fleshly mind." [Col. 2.18.]
LXXV. That God could have created more worlds, distinct and separate from this one, had it so pleased him,it is reasonable for all to believe, who devoutly acknowledge the immeasurable and inexhaustible power of the Deity. As to the objection adduced by some, that this world is the universe [To pan], besides which nothing can be created without a contradiction, it is a childish cavil. This world is now called the universe, because all things which are created, are, in reality, contained within its compass: were another world created, this would cease to be the universe.
LXXVI. Nor is another reason alleged of greater force, namely, that there would either be something intermediate, or nothing; if there were nothing, they would not be really different worlds; if something, even this would serve to conjoin them. That things betwixt which no body intervenes, are not different, is not true. It is sufficient to make them different, that they do not approach, and are not in contact with each other. Nor is it material whether another body be actually placed, or it be merely possible to place it, between them; neither of the extreme bodies being removed from its own station.
LXXVII. But it excites our surprise, that they who contend that more worlds similar to this universe cannot be made even by the Divine omnipotence, admit without difficulty a plurality of particular worlds, or bodies resembling the earth that we inhabit, in which either men or other living creatures reside. Although, too, according to the modesty which they affect, they allege that on this point nothing must be either rashly affirmed or denied; they cannot restrain themselves from severely censuring those who, merely labouring under prejudices, and in a manner infatuated by self-love, imagine that we men are the sole delight of God, and that our earth is the most pleasant spot of the whole world;which they suppose cannot be done without despising the other works of God. "We know not, indeed," they add, "whether there be men or other creatures in the Moon; but if we intend to form any opinion at all, it seems more conformable to truth to affirm, than to deny, that it is inhabited by men."
LXXVIII. I know not whether the very learned men derive these notions from the Commentaries of Lucian, or from the report of that man of strict honour and veracity, who, not long ago, flying on the wings of a goose, took an accurate survey of those upper regions, which have been hitherto unknown to other mortals that are sustained by the fruits of this earth. I cannot help recollecting on this occasion, what I long ago read on this subject in Lucian; and for the sake of my pupils, I will here repeat the substance of it in a few words. His story is as follows: [Primus verarum historiarum Liber,] After he himself, with his companions, had been carried through the air by a mighty whirlwind during seven days and an equal number of nights, he arrived in his ship on the eighth day at a certain great country in the midst of the air,an island, which, having the form of a globe, glittered with a profusion of light. They found it both inhabited and cultivated. But that they might not wander hither and thither, ignorant alike of the men and the places, and not knowing under what part of heaven or into what region of the world they were thrown; it fortunately happened, that certain Horse-vultures [Ippogupoi; in Latin, Equivultures], that is, men who rode on vultures instead of horses, and who were some of the King's principal servants, conducted the extraordinary strangers to the palace. The King, having learned from their appearance and dress that they were Grecians, politely informs them that his name is Endymion, and also that the region into which they were conveyed, after having traversed so vast spaces of air, is called by the Greeks SELHNH, (the Latins call it LUNA,) the MOON. He told them that he was engaged in an arduous and dreadful war with the King of the Sun, (for that part of the world is no less fully peopled than the Moon,) and added many other stories of the same kind, which it would be improper now to rehearse.
The learned men, however, may choose rather, perhaps, to acknowledge themselves indebted to Kepler, the celebrated astronomer, who relates [In Selenographia sua], that he saw through an optical tube, on the spotted face of the Moon, lofty mountains, great valleys, a vast number of deep ditches, also extensive forests, seas, and many other things closely resembling what is found in the earth which we inhabit. He alleges, too, that the Moon is inhabited, and that its inhabitants are short-lived, but of a stupendous size, fifteen times larger than the men of the earth, equal to whales; and that they build towns in situations exposed to the warm beams of the Sun. Lest doubts of the truth of this account should remain, Kepler conjectures that he saw the workmen employed in their labours.
LXXIX. But candidly to speak out what I think; I am fully convinced that it is not without exposing our holy religion to disgrace, that men devoted to the study of Theology thus contend for such notions; and that meteorologies of this sort furnish the profane, and the enemies of the Reformed Church, with copious materials for mockery and ridicule. Allowing that it appears from the observations of Hevelius, that there are in the Moon high and low places, similar to our mountains and valleys, what probable reason, I ask, have we to induce us to conclude, that it contains men, states, and commonwealths? Can even the slightest evidences of their existence be found, either in nature, or in Scripture?
LXXX. Nay, there are not a few passages of Scripture, that are contrary to this lunatic imagination. Moses, by the distinct account which he gives of the counsel of God respecting the creation of man, sufficiently shows, that at that time no living creature similar to him existed in the universe. Why should God be introduced, saying, "Let us make man in our image," &c. as if he were preparing for the chief of his works, if, perhaps only two days before, he had peopled the Moon, or the Sun, or even the other stars with men? For what purpose is it related, that, having discovered, so to speak, that it would not be good for man to remain alone, he thought at last of forming a companion for him? These transactions indeed are related in terms which allude to human infirmity [AnqrwpopaqwV]; but the expressions would be utterly void of propriety, and could afford no meaning worthy of God, if several pairs of the human kind had already existed elsewhere.
LXXXI. Add to this, that Isaiah ascribes it in a special manner to the earth, that it was not "created in vain," but "formed to be inhabited." [Isa. 45.18.] Paul, too, whilst he affirms that "God hath made of one blood all the nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth," [Acts 17.26,] acknowledges no other race of men that has sprung up elsewhere, and that inhabits the face of the Moon.
LXXXII. Reason, too, gives its suffrage in our favour. If there were men in the Moon or in the other stars, they must either have retained their original integrity, like the good Angels; or fallen into sin, as we have done. But it seems probable that neither of these would have been passed over in total silence in holy writ; especially since so many proper opportunities of mentioning them occur. Whether our sin were to be aggravated, or the unbounded mercy of God towards us extolled, or the extent of that blessed society in which we shall rejoice in heaven, to be shown; it would have been worth while, at least briefly to notice so many myriads of saints from another globe. This argument has the greater weight, as frequent mention is made, on such occasions, of Angels; who are no less the inhabitants of another world than the men supposed, and whose affairs seem not to concern us so much as those of the other race, who are of the same species with ourselves.
LXXXIII. But, if the men inhabiting the Moon, or the Sun, or Mercury, are involved in the same misery of sin with us, it may be affirmed, either that they all remain eternally wretched, or that some of them are, in common with us, redeemed by Christ, or that another way of salvation is discovered to them. But no one of these suppositions is at all probable.
LXXXIV. Not the first: For it may be gathered from PSALM 89.48, that God would have created all those sons of men in vain, if none of them are to adore his perfections, and celebrate his praise. On this supposition, too, Paul would have had a singularly apt opportunity of inculcating the same thing, in that passage where he makes mention of Christ's not taking hold of angels, but of the seed of Abraham. [Heb. 2.16.] He would, beyond question, have highly commended the love of Christ towards us, if he had chosen to add, that not merely angels that sinned, but also whole worlds of men of the same nature with us, were passed by, that so amazing an act of kindness and grace, might be done to the men of this earth alone, which is perhaps the least of them all.
LXXXV. The second supposition is equally void of probability. For since Christ has not assumed a human nature of the same blood with those men, he is neither their Brother, nor their GOEL.1 Since he has neither lived nor suffered, nor taught in their world; since in fine, he has appeared in it neither in a humble nor in a glorious form, nor is to appear in it at the consummation of all things [Acts 3.21]; it is not probable that the salvation which he has obtained for us only by his appearing amongst us, is obtained for them without an advent of Christ to them. I might also mention the preaching of the Gospel, of which the Apostle testifies, that its sound went into all the earth, and its words unto the ends of the world [Rom. 10.18]; but he has not ventured to assert that it has reached the inhabitants of the Moon or of the other stars. Is it likely, too, that nothing would have been said respecting them, in those passages which describe that glorious judgment which is to be conducted with incredible solemnity at the last day? It will redound greatly to the honour of the Lord Jesus, without doubt, if he is to be the Judge not only of this world, but also of other worlds of mankind, as well as of angels.
LXXXVI. Nor is the third supposition admissible. For neither is there salvation in any other," [Acts 4.12]; nor would it become a Most Holy God to admit sinful men to communion with himself, without a satisfaction to his justice. Such a satisfaction, besides, can be made by none but a person who is GOD-MAN; which it is unnecessary to consider more fully here, as we have elsewhere proved it at large.2 Indeed new schemes of Divinity widely different from that which our churches maintain, must be framed for the benefit of the men inhabiting the Moon; as has been avowedly done of late, for the sake of his Pre-adamites3 by him who has been the first to discover their existence.
LXXXVII. Since these things are so, it is truly surprising that men of intelligence and discretion could have allowed themselves, amidst so much light and learning, publicly to affirm in their writings, that they who think that the Moon is inhabited by men, hold a more probable opinion than those who choose rather to believe that it is uninhabited. I should have deemed the puerile rant of these writers quite unworthy of a serious confutation, were it not that it seemed proper to avert from our churches the reproach of so monstrous opinions.
1. GOEL, which is translated Redeemer, is a striking designation given to Christ in Job 19.25; Is. 59.20, and various other passages. It denotes the near relation in which he stands to us as "the man Christ Jesus," and his consequent right to accomplish our redemption. It exhibits him as the antitype of the Goel, or near kinsman who by the Mosaic law was entitled to redeem an inheritance, and also was permitted to avenge the death of his relation, by killing the slayer if he found him out of the cities of refuge. See Diss. xiv. sect. 33-36.
2. The Author here alludes to a discussion in the Economy of the Covenants, Book 2, chap. 4. T.
3. Men whom the writer alluded to represented as having existed before Adam. T.
The Reformed (Biblical) Belief
Concerning the Earth's
Role & Location
In the World.
A Comment from the Dutch Theologian,
"The Reformed ascribe the lowest place to this earth, which, according to the uniform tenor of sacred writ, is contradistinguished from the heavens and the stars, and which, being in a manner the centre of the universe, remains immovable, Ecclesiastes 1.4."What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.Ecclesiastes 1.3-5.