Rev. J. A. Handy to Dr. Turner
Christian Recorder: August 14, 1873
The following is only a of part letter received some few weeks since, from Rev. Jas. A. Handy, now of N.O., but formerly of Baltimore, Md. Although it is in some respects, an animadversion upon some views, advanced by myself a short time ago, it is nevertheless so pregnant with great thought, and lofty conceptions, as well as logical acumen; and the form of inductive ratiocination, that I beg the honor of submitting it in lieu of a letter from my own pen.
While I do not accept his reasoning as an off-set to mine-owing to the fact that there is a small mistake in my position, yet I am frank to confess, that his theological and philosophical status, is invulnerable, and is supported irresistible logic. The only difference is, I reasoned form a human stand-point, while he is reasoning from a Divine.
But his lofty conceptions, justly places him where he rightfully belongs in the front rank, of the ministry of the A. M. E. Church-
Dear Doctor- Some time since, I read an article of yours in the CHRISTIAN RECORDER, under the caption of Unlimited of Boundless Space. Permit me, dear sir, to submit to your consideration the subjoined criticism.
We perceive that time and space, past and to come, are identical with regard to Omniscience and Omnipotence since reason in thinking of Deity, cannot limit by our creaturely organization. The Eternal see not His universe on mechanical and material principles, as it present itself to our senses. He sees things as they are, but it is in the nature of their mechanism. Thus the universe wears quite a different aspect to tow persons, the convexity of whose Wes in the slightest degree differs. What is real and true must be so to thought; and we—with awe may we say it, must perceive as God perceives, to distinguish the possible from the impossible the truth from the false.
As we are situated with regard to the external world, we cannot think, an at the same time use our sense, without being subject to organic laws or to the movements of things, which of course can take place only in time and space…..We therefore cannot perceive things as they are—God alone can do that, because He alone perceives without succession or interruption; and therefore without period, pause, or place. He who knows all things at once, alone knows them as they are, because in fact there is no break in the universe; and no mind can be taught the truth but by Him who addresses spiritual arguments to our reason. To be everywhere equally, and that forever, cannot but be possible to Him by whom all things consist; and whatever is possible with God is only practicable, but a fact. In short whatever men call impossible, is that which Deity has done and is doing.
He sees, at this very moment, every moment in every star that existed millions of ages before Adam’s creation; and the state, place, and thought, of each of us, as they will be myriads of ages to hence, are now evident to Him. Reason must allow that there is no real past, except to finite perception, since all that is called past, not only remains present in the sight of God, but is also written in letters of light upon the materials of the universe.
And my dear Sir, although the cosmos has been reduced to mathematical admeasurements for us, and the ideal statistics of the skies, are familiar in our schools, yet, it would indeed be feeble sentimentality, to talk of mental cultivation, taking the magic charm from the mysteries of nature; but alas! men are too apt to enjoy a sublime idea of the universe, while forgetful of Him who “Telleth the number of stars, and calleth them all by their names.”
But we are spiritually interested, and in spirit would adore the uncreated, that called space—and all things into being. The commandments written by the finger of the Eternal, upon granite tablets, and also in the heart of man, are but a condensed transcript of the law of the universe, brought into direct accommodation to the human socialites of earth. This grand code of God as the moral, physical, and spiritual Governor of all worlds, are inscribed by his own Almighty Fiat, upon the star, on the blade of grass, in the atom, in the mountain, out on space, I the dew drop, that the center, the beginning, the ending are the Eternal. “If I ascend into heaven, (boundless space) thou art there. If I take the beams of sunlight, and fly to Neptune’s icy crags, thou art there, the centre, the end, the beginning. All—all centre in God. We see it in creation. Space being created it is not an exception to this grand code of law-governing, governing everywhere. We feel it in our souls, our very existence take hold of it. We turn toward the starry heavens and the boundary is not there, and then with you, we find it not in space, but in God the Eternal.
It is true that we possess not the chronology, the language, nor the data, that belongs to Boundless Space, and without these we are poorly prepared, to step along the avenue of unutterable grandeur that glides majestically over the plains of Boundless Space, sending back the echo. The centre, the ending, the beginning are in God, the Eternal.
J. A. Handy
June 14, 1873