By Richard Watson
THE EXISTENCE OF GOD.
THE Divine authority of those writings which are received by Christians as a revelation of infallible truth, having been established, our next step is seriously, and with simplicity of mind, to examine their contents, and to collect from them that ample information on religious and moral subjects which they profess to contain, and in which it had become necessary that the world should be supernaturally instructed. Agreeably to a principle which has already been laid down, I shall endeavour, as in the case of any other record, to exhibit their meaning by the application of those plain rules of interpretation which have been established for such purposes by time common agreement of the sober part of mankind. All the assistance within reach from critics, commentators, and divines, shall however be resorted to; for, though the water can only be drawn pure from the sacred fountain itself, we yet owe it to many of these guides, that they have successfully directed us to time openings through which it breaks, and led the way into the depth of the stream.
The doctrine which the first sentence in this Divine revelation unfolds is, that there is a GOD, the CREATOR of heaven and earth; and as this is fundamental to the whole scheme of duty, promise, and hope, which the books of Scripture successively unfold and explain, it demands our earliest consideration.
In three distinct ways do time sacred writers furnish us with information on this great and essential subject, the existence and the character of God ;-from time names by which he is designated; from the actions ascribed to him; and from the attributes with which he is invested in their invocations and praises; and in those lofty descriptions of his nature which, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have recorded for the instruction of the world. These attributes will be afterward particularly considered; but the impression of the general view of the Divine character, as thus revealed, is too important to be omitted.
The names of God as recorded in Scripture, convey at once ideas of Overwhelming greatness and glory, mingled with that awful mysteriousness with which, to all finite minds, and especially to the minds of mortals, the Divine essence and mode of existence must ever be invest ed. Though ONE, he is ELOHIM, GODS, persons adorable. He is hwhy, JEHOVAH, self existing, la, EL, strong, powerful; hyha, EHIEH, Jam, I will be, self existence, independency, all-sufficiency, immutability, eternity; yds, SHADDAI, almighty, all-sufficient; ADON, Supporter, Lord, Judge. These are among the adorable appellatives of God which are scattered throughout the revelation which he has been pleased to make of himself: but on one occasion he was pleased more particularly to declare "his name," that is, such of the qualities and attributes of the Divine nature, as mortals are the most interested in knowing; and to unfold, not only his natural, but those also of his moral attributes by which his conduct toward his creatures is regulated. "And the Lord passed by and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and fourth generation," Exod. xxxiv. This is the most ample and particular description of the character of God, as given by himself in the sacred records; and the import of the several titles by which he has thus in his infinite condescension manifested himself, has been thus exhibited. He is not only Jehovah, self existent, and EL, the strong or mighty God; but "mwhr Rochum, the merciful being, who is full of tenderness and compassion. nwnj, CILANUN, the gracious one, he whose nature is goodness itself-the loving God. mypa EREC APAYIM, long suffering, the being who, because of his tenderness, is not easily irritated, but suffers long and is kind. BR, RAB, the great or mighty one. CHESED, the bountiful Being; he who is exuberant in his beneficence. tma, EMBTH, the truth, or true one, he alone who can neither deceive nor be deceived. dsj rxn, NOTSER CHESED, the preserver of bountifulness, he whose beneficence never ends, keeping mercy for thousands of generations, showing compassion and mercy while the world endures. NOSE avon vapesha vechataah, he who bears away iniquity, transgression and sin; properly the REDEEMER, the PARDONER, the FoRGIvEn, the Being whose prerogative it is to forgive sin, and save the soul. npr NAKEH lo yinnakeh, the righteous Judge, who distributes justice with an impartial hand. And PAKED, avon, &c, he who visits iniquity, he who punishes transgressors, and from whose justice no sinner can escape: the God of retributive and vindictive justice." (Dr. A. Clarke in loc.)
The second means by which the Scriptures convey to us the knowledge of God, is by: the actions which they ascribe to him. They con tam indeed the important record of his dealings with men in every age which is comprehended within the limit of the sacred history; and, by prophetic declaration, they also exhibit the principles on which he will govern the world to the end of time; so that the whole course of the Divine administration may be considered as exhibiting a singularly illustrative comment upon those attributes of his nature, which, in their abstract form, are contained in such declarations as those which have been just quoted. The first act ascribed to God is that of creating the heavens and the earth out of nothing; and by his fiat alone arranging their parts, and peopling them with living creatures. By this were manifested-his eternity and self existence, as he who creates must be before all creatures, and he who gives being to others can himself derive it from none; his almighty power, shown both in the act of creation, and in the number and vastness of the objects so produced: his wisdom, in their arrangement, and in their fitness to their respective ends: and his goodness as the whole tended to the happiness of sentient beings. The foundations of his natural and moral government are also made manifest by his creative acts. In what he made out of nothing be had an absolute right and prerogative of ordering and disposal; so that to alter or destroy his own work, and to prescribe the laws by which the intelligent and rational part of his creatures should be governed, are rights which none can question. Thus on the one hand his character of Lord or Governor is established, and on the other our duty of lowly image and absolute obedience.
Agreeably to this, as soon as man was created, he was placed under a rule of conduct. Obedience was to be followed with the continuance of the Divine favour; transgression, with death. The event called forth mew manifestations of the character of God. His tender MERCY, in the compassion showed to the fallen pair; his JUSTICE, in forgiving them only in the view of a satisfaction to be hereafter offered to his justice by an innocent representative of tile sinning race; his LOVE to that race, in giving his own Son to become this Redeemer, and in the fulness of time to die for the sins of the whole world; and his HOLINESS, in connecting with this provision for the pardon of man the means of restoring him to a sinless state, and to the obliterated image of God in which he had been created. Exemplifications of the Divine MERCY are traced from age to age, in his establishing his own worship among men, and remitting the punishment of individual and national offences in answer to prayer offered from penitent hearts, and in dependence upon the typified or actually offered universal sacrifice :-of his CONDESCENSION, in stooping to the cases of individuals; in his dispensations both of providence and grace, by showing respect to the poor and humble; and, principally, by the incarnation of God in the form of a servant, admitting men into familiar and friendly intercourse with himself, and then entering into heaven to be their patron and advocate, until they should he received unto the same glory, "and so be for ever with the Lord :"- of his strictly RIGHTEOUS GOVERNMENT, in the destruction of the old world, the cities of the plain, the nations of Canaan, and all ancient states, upon their "filling u the measure of their iniquities ;" amid, to show that "he will by no m ns clear the guilty ;" in time numerous and severe punishments inflicted even upon the chosen seed of Abraham, because of their transgressions :-of his LONG SUFFERING, in frequent warnings, delays, and corrective judgments, inflicted upon individuals and nations, before sentence of utter excision and destruction :-or FAITHFULNESS and TRUTH, in the fulfilment of promises, often many ages after they were given, as in the promises to Abraham respecting the possession of the land of Cahaan by his seed; and in all the "promises made to the fathers" respecting the advent, vicarious death, and illustrious offices of the Christ, the Saviour of time world :-of his IMMUTABILITY, In the constant and unchanging laws and principles of his government, which remain to this day precisely the same, in every tiling universal, as when first promulgated, and have been the rule of his conduct in all places as well as through all time :-of his PRESCIENCE of future events, manifested by the predictions of Scripture; and of the depth and stability of his COUNSEL, as illustrated in that plan amid purpose of bringing back a revolted world to obedience and felicity, which we find steadily kept in view in the Scriptural history of the acts of God in former ages; which is still the end toward which all his dispensations bend, however wide and mysterious their sweep; and which they will finally accomplish, as we learn from the prophetic history of the future, contained in the Old and New Testaments.
Thus the course of Divine operation in the world has from age to age been a manifestation of time Divine character, continually receiving new and stronger illustrations to the completion of the Christian revelation by the ministry of Christ and his inspired followers, and still placing itself in brighter light and more impressive aspects as the scheme of human redemption runs on to its consummation. From all the acts of God as recorded in tile Scriptures, we are taught that he alone is God; that he is present every where to sustain and govern all things; that his wisdom is infinite, his counsel settled, and his power irresistible; that he is holy, just, and good; tile Lord and the Judge, but the Father and the Friend of man.
More at large do we learn what God is, from the declarations of the inspired writings.
As to his SUBSTANCE, that "God is a spirit." As to his DURATION, that "from everlasting to everlasting he is God ;" "the King, eternal, immortal, invisible." That, after all the manifestations he has made of himself, lie is from the infinite perfection and glory of his nature, INCOMPREHENSIBLE; "Lo, these are but parts of his ways, and how little a portion is heard of him!" "Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out." That he is UNCHANGEABLE, "the Father of Lights with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." That "he is the fountain of LIFE," and the only independent Being in the universe, "who only hath immortality." That every other being, however exalted, has its existence from him; "for by him were all things created, which are in heaven and in earth, whether they are visible or invisible." That the existence of every thing is upheld by him, no creature being for a moment independent of his support; "by him all things consist," "upholding all things by the word of his power." That he is OMNIPRESENT: "Do not I fill heaven and earth with my presence, saith the Lord ?" That he is OMNISCIENT: "All things are naked and open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do." That he is the absolute LORD and owner of all things: "The heavens, even the heaven of heavens, are thine, and all the parts of them." " The earth is thine, and the fulness thereof, the world and them that dwell therein." "He doeth according to his will in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth." That his PROVIDENCE extends to the minutest objects: "The hairs of your h end are all numbered." "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? rind one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father." That he is a being of unspotted PURITY and perfect RECTITUDE: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts !" "A God of truth, and in whom is no iniquity." "of purer eyes than to behold iniquity." That lie is JUST In the administration of his government: "Shall not the Judge of the whole earth do right ?" "Clouds and darkness are round about hint; judgment and jus(ice are the habitation of his throne." That his wisdom is unsearchable:
"0 the depth of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out !" And, finally, that he is good and MERCIFUL: "Thou art good, and thy mercy endureth for ever." "His tender mercy is over all his works." "God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ." "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." "God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son ."
Under these deeply awful, but consolatory views, do the Scriptures present to us the supreme object of our worship and trust, dwelling upon each of the above particulars with inimitable sublimity and beauty of language, and with an inexhaustible variety of illustration nor can we Compare these views of the Divine nature with the conceptions of the most enlightened of pagans, without feeling how much reason we have for everlasting gratitude, that a revelation so explicit, and so comprehensive, should have been made to us on a subject which only a revelation from God himself could have made known. it is thus that Christian philosophers, even when they do not use the language of the Scriptures, are able to speak on this great and mysterious doctrine in language so Clear, and with conceptions so noble; in a manner too so equable, so different to the sages of antiquity, who, if at any time they approach the truth, when speaking of the Divine nature, never fail to mingle with it some essentially erroneous or grovelling, conception. "By the word GOD," says Dr. Barrow, "we mean a Being of infinite wisdom, goodness, and power, the creator and the governor of all things, to whom the great attributes of eternity and independency, omniscience and immensity, perfect holiness and purity, perfect justice and veracity, complete happiness, glorious majesty, and supreme right of dominion, belong; and to whom time highest veneration, and most profound submission and obedience, are due." (Barrow on the Creed.) "Our notion of Deity," says Bishop Pearson, "doth expressly signify a Being or Nature of infinite perfection; and the infinite perfection of a Being or Nature consists in this, that it be absolutely and essentially necessary; an actual Being of itself; and potential or causative of all beings beside itself, independent from any other, upon which all things else depend, and by which all things else are governed." (Pearson on the Creed.) "God is a Being, and not any kind of being; but a substance, which is the foundation of other beings. And not only a substance, but perfect. Yet many beings are perfect in their kind, yet limited and finite. But God is absolutely, fully, and every way infinitely perfect; and therefore above spirits, above angels who are perfect comparatively. God's infinite perfection includes all the attributes, even the most excellent. It excludes all dependency, borrowed existence, composition, corruption, mortality, contingency, ignorance, unrighteousness, weakness, misery, and all imperfections whatever. It includes necessity of being, independency, perfect unity, simplicity, immensity, eternity, immortality; time most perfect life, knowledge, wisdom, integrity, power, glory, bliss, and all these in the highest degree. We cannot pierce into the secrets of this eternal Being. Our reason comprehends but little of him, and when it can proceed no farther, faith comes in, and we believe far more than we can understand: and this our belief is not contrary to reason; but reason itself dictates unto us that we must believe far more of God than it can inform us of." (Lawson's Theo.Politica.) To these we may add an admirable passage from Sir Isaac Newton: "The word GOD frequently signifies Lord; hut every lord is not God; it is the dominion of a spiritual Being or Lord, that constitutes God; true dominion, true God; supreme, the supreme; feigned, time false God. From such true dominion it follows that the true God is living, intelligent, and powerful; and from his other perfections that he is supreme, or supremely perfect; he is eternal and infinite; omnipotent and omniscient; that is, he endures from eternity to eternity; and is present from infinity to infinity. He governs all things that exist, and knows all things that are to be known: he is not eternity or infinity, but eternal and infinite; he is not duration or space, but he endures and is present; he endures always, and is present every where; he is omnipresent, not only virtually, but also substantially; for power without substance cannot subsist. All things are contained and move in him; but without any mutual passion; he suffers nothing from the motions of bodies; nor do they undergo any resistance from his omnipresence. It is confessed that God exists necessarily, and by the same necessity be exists always and every where. Hence also he must be perfectly similar, all eye, all ear, all earth, all the power of perceiving, understanding, and acting; but after a manner not at all corporeal, after a manner not like that of men, after a manner wholly to us unknown. He is destitute of all body, and all bodily shape; and therefore cannot be seen, heard, or touched; nor ought he to be worshipped under the representation of an thing corporeal. We have ideas of' the attributes of God, but d not know the substance of even any thing: we see only the figures and colours of bodies, hear only sounds, touch only the outward surfaces smell only odours, and taste tastes; and do not, cannot, by any sense, or reflex act, know their inward substances: and much less can we have any notion of the substance of God. We know him by his properties and attributes."
It is observable that neither Moses, the first of the inspired penmen, nor any of the authors of the succeeding canonical books, enters into any proof of this first principle of religion, that there is a GOD. They all assume it as a truth commonly known and admitted. There is indeed in the sacred volume no allusion to the existence of Atheistical sentiments, till some ages after Moses, and then it is not quite clear whether speculative or practical Atheism be spoken of. From this circumstance we learn, that, previous to the time of Moses, the idea of one supreme and infinitely perfect God was familiar to men; that it had descended to them from the earliest ages; and also that it was a truth of original revelation, and not one which the sages of preceding times had wrought out by rational investigation and deduction. Had that been the fact, we might have expected some intimation of it: and that if those views of God which are found in the Pentateuch, were discovered by the successive investigations of wise men among the ancients, the progress of this wonderful discovery would have been marked by Moses; or if one only had demonstrated this truth by his personal researches, that some grateful mention of so great a sage, of so celebrated a moral teacher, would have been made. A truth too so essential to the whole Mosaic system, and upon which his own official authority rested, had it originated from successful human investigation, would seem naturally to have required a statement of the arguments by which it had been demonstrated, as a fit introduction to a book in which he professed to record revelations received from this newly discovered being, and to enforce laws uttered under his command. Nothing of this kind is attempted; and the sacred historian and lawgiver proceeds at once to narrate the acts of GOD, and to declare his will. The history which he wrote, however, affords the reason why the introduction of formal proof of the existence of one true God was thought unnecessary. The first man, we arc informed, knew God, not only from his works, but by sensible manifestation and converse; the same Divine appearances were made to Noah, to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob; and when Moses wrote, persons were still living who had conversed with those who conversed with God or were descended from the same families to whom God "at sundry times" had appeared in visible glory, or in angelic forms. These Divine manifestations were also matters of public notoriety among the primitive families of mankind; from them the tradition was transmitted to their descendants; and the idea once communicated, was confirmed by every natural object which they saw around them. It continued even after the introduction of idolatry; and has never, except among the most ignorant of the heathen, been to this day obliterated by polytheistic superstitions. It was thus that the knowledge of God was communicated to the ancient world. No discovery of this truth, either in the time of Moses, or in any former age, was made by human research; neither the date nor the process of it could therefore be stated in his writings; and it would have been trifling to moot a question which had been se fully determined, and to attempt to prove a doctrine universally received. That the idea of a supreme First Cause was at first obtained by the exercise of reason, is thus contradicted by the facts, that the first man received the knowledge of God by sensible converse with him, and that this doctrine was transmitted, with the confirmation of successive visible manifestations, to the early ancestors of all nations. Whether the discovery, therefore, of the simple truth of the existence of a First Cause be within the compass of human powers, is a point which cannot he determined by matter of fact; because it may be proved that those nations by whom that doctrine has been acknowledged, had their origin from a common stock, resident in that part of the world in which the primitive revelations were given. They were therefore never in circumstances in which such an experiment upon the power or weakness of the human mind could be made. Among some uncivilized tribes, such as the Hot tents of Africa, and the aborigines of New South Wales, the idea of a Supreme Being is probably entirely obliterated; some notions of spiritual existences, superior in power to man, and possessed of creative and destructive powers, do however remain, naturally tending to that train of reflection, which in better instructed minds issues in the apprehension of one Supreme and Divine Intelligence. But no instance has been known of the knowledge of God having thus, or by any other means, originating in themselves, been recovered; if restored to them at all, it has been by the instruction of others, and not by the rational investigation of even superior minds in their own tribes. Wherever there has been sufficient mental cultivation to call forth the exercise of the rational faculty in search of spiritual and moral truth, the idea of a First Cause has been previously known; wherever that idea has been totally obliterated, the intellectual powers of man have not been in a state of exercise, and no curiosity as to such speculations has been awakened. Matter of fact does not therefore support the notion, that the existence of God is discoverable by the unassisted faculties of man; and there is, I conceive, very slender reason to admit the abstract probability.
A sufficient number of facts are obvious to the most cursory observation to show, that without some degree of education, man is wholly the creature of appetite. Labour, feasting, and sleep, divide his time, and wholly occupy his thoughts. If therefore we suppose a First Cause to be discoverable by human investigation, we must seek for the instances among a people whose civilization and intellectual culture have roused the mind from its torpor, and given it an interest in abstract and philosophic truth; for to a people so circumstanced as never to have heard of God, the question of the existence of a First Cause must be one of mere philosophy. Religious motives, whether of hope or fear, have no influence where no religion exists, and its very first principle is here sup. posed to be as yet undiscovered. Before, therefore, we can conceive the human mind to have reached a state of activity sufficiently energetic and curious even to commence such an inquiry, we must suppose a gradual progress from the uncivilized state, to a state of civil and scientific cultivation, and that without religion of any kind; without moral control; without principles of justice, except such as may have been slowly elaborated from those relations which concern the grosser interests of men, if even they be possible; without conscience; without hope or fear in another life. That no society of civilized men has ever been constituted under such circumstances, is what no one will deny; that it is possible to raise a body of men into that degree of civil improvement which would excite the passion for philosophic investigation without the aid of religion, which, in its lowest forms of superstition, admits in a defective degree what is implied in the existence of God, a superior, creative, governing, and destroying power, can have no proof, and is contradicted by every fact and analogy with which we are acquainted. Under the influence and control of religion, all states, ancient and modern, have hitherto been formed and maintained. It has entered essentially into all their legislative and gubernative institutions; and Atheism is so obviously dissocializing, that even the philosophic Atheists of Greece and Rome confined it to their esoteric doctrine, and were equally zealous with others to maintain the public religion as a restraint upon the multitude, without which they clearly enough discerned that human laws, and merely human motives, would he totally ineffectual to prevent that selfish gratification of the passions, the enmities, and the cupidity of men, which would break up every community into its original fragments, and arm every man against his fellow.
From this we may conclude, that man without religion cannot exist in that state of civility and cultivation in which his intellectual powers are disposed to, or capable of, such a course of inquiry as might lead him to a knowledge of God; and that, as a mere barbarian, he would be wholly occupied with the gratification of his appetites, or his sloth. Should we however suppose it possible, that those who had no previous knowledge of God, or of superior invisible powers, might be brought to the habits of civil life, and be engaged in the pursuit of various knowledge, (which itself however is very incredible,) it would still remain a question, whether, provided no idea from tradition or instruction had been suggested of the existence of spiritual superior beings, or of a supreme Creator or Ruler, such a truth would be within the reach of man, even in an imperfect form. We have already seen, that a truth may appear exceedingly simple, important, and evident, when once known, and on this account its demonstration may be considered easy, which nevertheless has been the result of much previous research on the part of the discoverer. (Vide part i, c. iv.) The abundant rational evidence of the existence of God, which may now be so easily collected, and which is so convincing, is therefore no proof, that without instruction from Heaven the human mind would ever have made the discovery. "God is the only way to himself; he cannot in the least be come at, defined or demonstrated by human reason; for where would the inquirer fix his beginning? He is to search for something he knows not what; a nature without known properties; a being without a name. It is impossible for such a person to declare or imagine what it is he would discourse of, or inquire into; a nature he has not the least apprehension of; a subject he has not the least glimpse of, in whole or in part; which he must separate from all doubt, inconsistencies, and errors; he must demonstrate without one known or sure principle to ground it upon; and draw certain necessary conclusions whereon to rest his judgment. without time least knowledge of one term or proposition to fix his procedure upon; and therefore can never know whether his conclusion be consequent, or not consequent, truth or falsehood, which is just the same in science as in architecture, to raise a building without a foundation." (Ellis's Knowledge of Divine Things.)
"Suppose a person, whose powers of argumentation are improved to the utmost pitch of human capacity, but who has received no idea of God by any revelation, whether from tradition, Scripture, or inspirations how is he to convince himself that God is, and from whence is he to learn what God is? That of which as yet he knows nothing, cannot be a subject of his thought, his reasonings, or his conversation. He can neither affirm nor deny till he know what is to be affirmed or denied.
From whence then is our philosopher to divine, in the first instance, his idea of time infinite Being, concerning the reality of whose existence he is, in the second place, to decide ?" (hare's Preservative against Socianism.)
"Would a single individual, or even a single pair of the human race, or indeed several pairs of such beings as we are, if dropt from the hands of their Maker in the most genial soil and climate of this globe, without a single idea or notion engraved on their minds, ever think of instituting such an inquiry; or short and simple as the process of investigation is, would they be able to conduct it, should it somehow occur to them? No man who has paid due attention to the means by which all our ideas of external objects are introduced into our minds through the medium of the senses; or to the still more refined process by which reflecting on what passes in our minds themselves, when we combine or analyze these ideas, we acquire the rudiments of all our knowledge of intellectual objects, will pretend that they would. The efforts of intellect necessary to discover an unknown truth, are so much greater than those which may be sufficient to comprehend that truth, and feel the force of the evidence on which it rests, when fairly stated, that for one man, whose intellectual powers are equal to the former, ten thousand are only equal to the latter." (Gleig's Stackhouse Intro.)
"Between matter and spirit, things visible and invisible, time and eternity, beings finite and beings infinite, objects of sense and objects of faith, the connection is not perceptible to human observation. Though we push our researches therefore to the extreme point, whither the light of nature can carry us, they will in time end be abruptly terminated, and we must stop short at an immeasurable distance between the creature and the Creator." (Van Mildert's Discourses.)
These observations have great weight, and though we allow, that the argument which proves that the ejects with which we are surrounded must have been caused, and thus leads us up through a chain of subordinate cause to one First Cause, has in it a simplicity, an obviousness, and a force, which, when we are previously furnished with the idea of God, makes it at first sight difficult to conceive, that men, under any degree of cultivation, should be inadequate to it; yet, if the human mind ever commenced such aim inquiry at all, it is highly probable that it would rest in the notion of an eternal succession of causes and effects, rather than acquire the ideas of creation, in the proper sense, and of a Supreme Creator. Scarcely any of the philosophers of the most inquisitive ages of Greece, or those of their followers at Rome, though With the advantage of traditions conveying the knowledge of God, seem to have been capable of conceiving of creation out of nothing, (Vide part i, c. iv,) and they consequently admitted time eternity of matter. This was usually the case with the Theistical, the Atheistical, and the polytheistical philosophers. It was not among them a subject of dispute; but taken for a point settled and not to be contradicted, that matter was eternal, and could not therefore be created. Against this notion, since time revelation of truth to man, philosophy has been able to adduce a very satisfactory argument; but, though it is not a very recondite one, it was never discovered by philosophy while unaided by time Scriptures. In like manner philosophy can now furnish cogen arguments against an infinite succession of causes and effects but it does not appear probable that they could have been apprehended by those to whom time very notion of a First Cause had not been intimated. If however it were conceded, that some glimmering of this great truth might, by induction, have been discovered by contemplative minds thus circumstanced; by what means could they have demonstrated to themselves that that great collection of bodies which we call the world had hut one Creator ; that he is an incorporeal Spirit ; that he is eternal, self existent, immortal, and independent ? Certain it is, that the argument a posteriori does not of itself fully confirm all these conclusions and the argument a priori, when directed to these mysterious points, is not, with all the advantages which we enjoy, so satisfactory, as to leave no rational ground of doubt as to its conclusiveness. No sober man, we apprehend, would be content with that as the only foundation of his faith and hope. If indeed the idea of God were innate, as some have contended, the question would be set at rest.. But then every human being would be in possession of it. Of this there is not only no proof at all, but the evidence of' fact is against it ; and the doctrine of innate ideas may with confidence be pronounced a mere theory, assumed to support favourite notions, but contradicted by all experience. We mire all conscious that we gain the knowledge of God by instruction; and we observe, that in proportion to the want of instruction, men are ignorant, as of other things, so of God. Peter, the wild boy, who in the begin fling of the last century, was found in a wood in Germany, far from having any innate sense of God or religion, seemed to be incapable of instruction ; and the aboriginal inhabitants of New Holland are found, to this day, in a state of knowledge but little superior, and certainly have no idea of the existence of one supreme Creator.
It is therefore to he concluded, that we owe the knowledge of the existence of God, and of his attributes, to revelation alone but, being now discovered, the rational evidence of both is Copious and irresistible; so much so, that Atheism has never been able to make much progress among mankind where this revelation has been preserved. It is resisted by demonstrations too numerous, obvious, and convincing; and is itself too easily proved to involve the most revolting absurdities.
No subject has employed the thoughts and pens of the most profound thinkers more than the demonstration of the being and attributes of God; and the evidence from fact, reason, and the nature of things, which has been collected, is large and instructive. These researches have not however brought to light any new attribute of God not found in Scripture. This is a strong presumption that the only source of our notions on this subject is the manifestation which God has been pleased to make of himself, and a confirmation that human reason, if left to itself, had never made the slightest discovery respecting the Divine nature.- But as to what is revealed, they are of' great importance in the controversy with poly theism, and with that still more unnatural and monstrous perversion, time philosophy which denies a God.
Demonstrations both a priori and a posteriori, the former beginning with the cause, the latter with time effect, have been attempted, not only of the being, but also of all the attributes ascribed to God in the Holy Scriptures. On each we shall offer some observations and illustrations, taking the argument 6 posteriori first, both because, as to the simple question of the being of a God, it is the only satisfactory and convincing proof; and especially, because it is that only to which the Scriptures themselves refer us. Time heaven declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork." " for the invisible things of him from flee creation of f/me world are clearly seen, being understood by time things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead." "For by the greatness and beauty of the creatures proportionably the Maker of them is seen."
Nature, as one justly observes, proceeds from causes to effects; but the most certain and successful investigations of man, proceed from effects to causes, and this is the character of what logicians have called the argument a posteriori.
In philosophy it has been laid down as an axiom, "that no event or change comes to pass merely of itself', but that every change stands related to and implies the existence and influence of something else, in Consequence of' which such change comes to pass, and which may be regarded as the principle, beginning, or source of the change referred to it. Accordingly the term cause is usually employed to denote the supposed principle of change; and the term eject is applied to the change considered in relation to the principle of change whence it proceeded. This axiom or principle is usually thus expressed :-" For every effect there must be a cause." "Nothing exists or comes to pass without a cause." "Nihil turpius philosopho quam fleri sine causa quicquam dicere."
Rooted as this principle is in the common sense, and the common observation and experience of mankind, it is assailed in the metaphysical Atheism of Hume, who appears to have borrowed his argument from the no less skeptical Hobbes, and the relation of cause and effect has in consequence been the subject of considerable controversy.
Causes have been distributed b logicians into efficient, material, final, and formal. Efficient causes are the agents that produce certain effects; material causes are the subjects on which the agent performs his operation; or those contingent natures which lie within the reach of the agent to influence. Final causes are the motives or purposes, which move to action, or the end for which any thing is done. Formal causes denote the changes resulting from the operation of the agent; or that which determines a thing to be what it is, and distinguishes it from every thing else.
It is with efficient causes as understood in the above distribution, that we are principally concerned. Mr. Hume and his followers have laid it down, that there is no instance in which we are able to perceive a necessary connection between two successive events; or to comprehend in what manner the one proceeds from the other, as its cause.- From experience, they observe, indeed we learn, that there are many events, which are constantly conjoined, so that the one invariably fol. lows the other; but it is possible, for any thing we know to the contrary, that this connection, though a constant one, as far as our observation has reached, may not be a necessary connection; nay, it is possible, that there may be no necessary connections among any of the phenomena we see, and if there be any such connections existing, we may rest assured that we shall never be able to discover them. This doctrine has however been admitted by many who not only deny the skeptical conclusions which Hobbes and Hume deduced from it, but who contend that it leads to a directly contrary conclusion. " The fallacy of this part of Mr. Hume's system," says Professor Stewart, "does not Consist in his premises, but in the conclusion which he draws from them. Time word cause is used, both by philosophers and time vulgar, in two senses, which are widely different. When it is said, that every change in nature indicates the operation of a cause; the word cause expresses something which is supposed to be necessarily connected with the change, and without which it could not have happened. This may be called the metaphysical meaning of the word; and such causes may be called metaphysical or efficient causes. In natural philosophy, however, when we speak of one thing being the cause of another, all that we mean is, that the two are constantly conjoined; so that when we see the one, we may expect the other.- These conjunctions we learn from experience alone; and without an acquaintance with them, we could not accommodate our conduct to the established course of nature. The causes which are the objects of our investigation in natural philosophy, may, for the sake of distinction, be called physical causes." (Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind.) By this distinction and concession all that is skeptical and Atheistic, in Hume's doctrine, is indeed completely rethted; for if metaphysical or efficient causes be allowed, and also that "power, force, energy, and causation, are to be regarded as attributes of mind, and can exist in mind only," (Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind,) it is of little consequence to the argument as to the existence of a supreme First Cause, whether the constant succession of events among physical causes, has a necessary connection or not; or in other words, whether what is purely material can have the attribute of causation.- The writer we have just quoted, thinks that this doctrine is "more favourable to Theism, than even the common notions upon this subject ;"-" if at the same time we admit the authority of that principle of the mind, which leads us to refer every change to an efficient cause,"-" as it keeps the Deity always in view, not only as the first, but as the constantly operating, efficient cause in nature, and as the great connecting principle among all the various phenomena which we observe." (Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind.) This author still farther thinks, that Mr. Hume has undesignedly furnished an antidote by this error to Spinozism itself. "Mr. Flume's doctrine, in the unqualified form in which he states it, may lead to other consequences not less dangerous; but if he had not the good fortune to conduct metaphysicians to the truth, he may at least be allowed the merit of having shut up for ever one of the most frequented and fatal paths which led them astray,"-" the cardinal principle on which the whole system of Spinoza turns, being that all events, physical and moral, are necessarily linked together as causes and effects." (Dissertation prefixed to the supplement of the Encyclo. Britt.
When the doctrine is thins restricted to Physical causes, its dangerous tendency is greatly weakened, if not altogether neutralized ; yet, not withstanding the authority with which it has been supported, it may be Suspected that it is radically unsound, and that it leads to consequences very contradictory to the experience of mankind, or, at best, that it is rather a philosophical paradox or quibble, than a philosophic discovery. What are called above metaphysical or efficient causes are admitted, with respect to mind, of which " power, force, energy and causation, are attributes." " One kind of cause, namely, what a man, or any other living being, is to his own voluntary act ions, or to those changes which lie produces directly in himself, and indirectly in himself, by time occasional exertion of his own power," says Dr. Gregory, (Literary and Philosophical Essays,) may be called for distinction's sake an agent. That there are such agents, and that many events are to be referred to them, as either wholly or partly their causes or principles of change, is not only certain but even self evident." We are all conscious of power to produce certain effects, and we are sure that there is between this cause amid the effect produced, more than a mere relation of antecedence and sequence, for we are conscious not only of designing to produce the effect, but of the exertion of power, though we do not always know the medium by which the power acts upon the object, as when we move the hand or time foot voluntarily, nor the mode in which the exerted energy connects itself with the result. Yet the result follows time will, and however often this is repeated, it is still the same. The relations between physical causes and effects must be different from this; but if according to the doctrine of Hume it were only a relation of succession, the following absurdities, as stated by Dr. Reid, (Reid's Essays,) would inevitably follow-" night would be the cause of day, and day the cause of night; for no two things have more constant! followed each other since the beginning of the world. Any thing, for what we know, may be the cause of any thing, since nothing is essential to a cause but its being constantly followed by the effect: what is unintelligent may be the cause of what is intelligent; folly may be time cause of wisdom, and evil of good; and thus all reasoning from the effect to the nature of the cause, and all reasoning from final causes, must be given up as fallacious." Physical causes, as for example, what impulse is to motion, heat to expansion, fusion, and evaporation; the earth to the fall of a stone toward it; the sun and moon to the tides; express a relation different from that between man and any of his voluntary actions; but it cannot be the same as time relation of priority and succession among things or events. Men have been mistaken, in some cases, in. taking the circumstances of the succession of one event to another as a proof of their relation as cause and effect; but even that shows that, in the fixed opinion of mankind, constant succession, when there is an appearance of time dependence of one timing upon another, implies more than mere succession, and that what is considered as the cause has an efficiency either from itself or by derivation, by which the effect is brought to pass. It is truly observed by Dr. Brown, (Procedure, &c, of the Human Under. standing,) "We find by observation and experience that such and such effects are produced; but when we attempt to think of the reason why, and the manner how the causes work those effects, then we are at a stand, and all our reasoning is precarious, or at best but probable conjecture." From hence however it would be a ridiculous conclusion, that because we are ignorant of the manner in which physical causes act, they do not act at all; or that none such exist in the ordinarily received sense; that is, that the effect is not dependent upon what is called time cause, amid that the presence of the latter, according to the established laws of nature, is not necessary to the effect, so that without it time effect would not follow. Tire efficient cause may be latent, but the physical cause is that through which it operates, amid must be sup. posed to have aim adaptation to convey the power, so to speak, in some precise mode, by mechanical or other means, to time result, or there could neither be ingenuity and contrivance in time works of art, nor wisdom in the creation. A watch might indicate the hour without wheels, and a clod might give as copious a light to the planetary system as the sun. If the doctrine of Hume denies efficient causes, it contradicts all consciousness amid time experience founded upon it ; if it applies only to physical causes, it either confounds them with efficient causes, or says in paradoxical language, only what has been better said by others, and that without any danger of involving either absurd or dangerous consequences. "When an event is produced according to a known law of nature, tire law of nature is called the cause of that event. But a law of nature is not time efficient cause of any event ; it is only the rule according to which lime efficient cause acts. A law is a thing conceived in time mind of a rational being, not a thing whelm has a real existence, and therefore like a motive, it can neither act nor be acted upon, and consequently cannot be an efficient cause. If there be no being that acts according to that law, it produces no effect." (Reid's Essays.) "All things that are done in the world, are done immediately by Cod himself, or created intelligent beings; matter being evidently not at all capable of any laws or powers whatever, any more than it is capable of intelligence ; excepting only this one negative that every part of it will, of itself; always and necessarily continue in that state, whether of rest or motion, wherein it at present is. So that all those things which we commonly say are time effects of time natural powers of matter and laws of motion, of gravitation, attraction, or the like, are indeed, (if we will speak strictly amid properly,) the effects of God's acting upon matter continually, and every moment, either immediately by himself, or immediately by some created intelligent beings. Consequently there is no such thing as what men commonly call the course of nature, or time powers of nature. The course of nature, truly and properly speaking, is nothing else but time will of God producing certain effects in a continued, regular, constant, and uniform mariner." (Dr. Samuel Clarke.)
The true state of time case appears to be, 1. That there are efficient causes, and that the relation between them and their effects is necessary, since, without the operation of the efficient, the effect would not take place. This we find in ourselves, and we proceed therefore upon the surest ground when we ascribe effects which are above human power, to a causation which is more than human, and, in the case of the phenomena of universal nature, to a Divine cause, or in other words to God. 2. That there are physical causes, between which and their effects there is a relation or connection very different to that of a mere order of succession, which in fact is a relation which entirely excludes the idea of causation in any sense. According to the present established order of nature, this also may be termed a necessary connection, although not necessary in the sense of its being the only method by which the infinite and first efficient could produce the effect. His resources are doubtless boundless; but having established a certain order in nature, or, in other words, having given certain powers and properties to matter, with reference to a mutual operation of different bodies upon each other, his supreme efficiency, his causing power, takes its direction, and displays itself in this order, and is modified by the preestablished and constantly upheld properties through and by which it operates. So far, and in this sense, the relation between physical causes and effects is a necessary one, and the doctrine of final causes is thus established by those wondrous arrangements and adaptations in the different parts of nature, and in individual bodies, which carry on, and conduct the everacting efficiency of God to those wise and benevolent ends which he has proposed. Thus the sun, by virtue of a previously established adaptation between its own qualities, the earth's atmosphere and the human eye, is the necessary cause of light and vision, though the true efficient be the Creator himself, ever present to his own arrangements; as time spring of a watch is the necessary cause of the motion of the wheels and indices though the efficient, in the proper sense, is the artist himself who framed the whole. In these cases there is, however, this difference to be ob. served, though it affects not the argument of a secondary physical causation, that the maker of a watch, finding certain bodies, endued with certain primary properties, may array them one against the other, and so leave his work to go on without his constant impulse and interposition; hut in nature, the primary properties of matter, and its existence itself are derived amid dependent, and need the constant upholding of Him who spake them out of nothing, and by whom they all consist."
The relation of cause and effect according to the common sense and observation of mankind, being thus established, we proceed to the arguments which are founded upon it.
The existence of God, once communicated to us by his own revelation, direct or traditional, is capable of ample proof, and receives an Irresistible corroborative evidence, a posteriori.
An argument a priori, is an argument from something antecedent to something consequent; from principle to corollary; from cause to effect. An argument a posteriori, on the contrary, is an argument from consequent to antecedent, from effect to cause. Both these kinds of proof have been resorted to in support of tine doctrine of the existence of God; but it is on the latter only that any dependence can be placed, and the demonstration is too strong to need a doubtful auxiliary.
The first argument, a posteriori, for the existence of a God, is drawn from our own actual existence, and that of other beings around us. This, by an obvious error, has sometimes been called an argument a priori; but if our existence is made use of to prove the existence of a supreme Creator, it is unquestionably an argument which proceeds from consequent to antecedent, from effect to cause. This ancient, and obvious demonstration has been placed in different views by different writers. Locke has, in substance, thus stated it. Every man knows with absolute certainty, that he himself exists. He knows also that he did not always exist, but began to be. It is clearly certain to him, that his existence was caused and not fortuitous, and was produced by a cause adequate to the production. By an adequate cause, is invariably intended, a cause possessing and exerting an efficacy sufficient to bring any effect to pass. In the present case, an adequate cause is one possessing, and exerting all the understanding necessary to contrive, and the power necessary to create, such a being as the man in question. This cause is what we are accustomed to call God. Time understanding necessary to contrive, and the power necessary to create a being corn. pounded of the human soul and body, admit of no limits. He who can contrive and create such a being, can contrive and create any thing. He who actually contrived and created man, certainly contrived and created all things.
The same argument is given more copiously, but with great clearness, by Mr. Howe :-
"We therefore begin with God's existence; for the evincing of which, we may be most assured, First, that there hath been somewhat or other from all eternity; or that, looking backward, somewhat of real being must Ire confessed eternal. Let such as have not been used to think of any thing mom-c than what they could see with their eyes, and to whom reasoning only seems difficult because they have not tried what they can do in it, but use their thoughts a little, and by moving them a few easy steps, they will soon find themselves as sure of this as that they see, or hear, or understand, or are any thing.
"For being sure that something now is, (that you see, for instance, or are something,) you must treat acknowledge, that certainly something always was, and hath ever been, or been from all eternity; or else you must say, that, some lime, nothing was ; or that all being once was not. And so, since you find that something now is, there was a time when all being did begin to be ; that is, that till that time there was nothing ; but now, at that time something first began to be. or what can be plainer than that if all being some time was not, amid now some being is, every thing of being had a beginning. And thence it would follow, that some being, that is, the first that ever began to be, did of itself start up out of nothing, or made itself to be when before nothing was.
"But now, do you not plainly see that it is altogether impossible any thing should do so ; that is, when it was as yet nothing, and when nothing at all as yet was, that it should make itself; or come into being of itself? For surely making itself is doing something. But can that which is nothing do any thing? Unto all doing there must be some doer. Where fore a thing must be before it can do any thing; and therefore it would follow, that it was before it was; or was and was not, was something and nothing, at the same time. Yea, and that it was diverse from itself; for a cause must be a distinct thing from that which is caused by it. Wherefore it is most apparent, that some being bath ever been or did never begin to be.
Whence, farther, it is also evdent, Secondly, that some being was uncaused, or was ever of itself without army cause. For what never was from another had never any cauise, since nothing could be its own cause. And somewhat, as appears from what hath been said, never was from another. Or it may be plainly argued thus; that either some being was uncaused, or all being was caused. But if all being was caused, then some one at least was the cause of itself; which hath been already shown impossible. Therefore the expression commonly used concerning lime first being, that it was of itself, is only to be taken negatively, that is, that it was not of another ; not postively, as if it did some time make itself. Or what there is positive signified by that form of speech, is only to be taken thus, that it was a being of that mature, as that it was impossible it should ever not have been; not that it did ever of itself step out of not being into being.
"And now it is hence farther evident, Thirdly, that some being is independent upon any other, that is, whereas it already appears that some being dad never depend on any other, as a productive cause, and was not beholden to any other, that it might come into being; it is thereupon equally evident that it is simply independent, or cannot be beholden to any for its continued being. For what did never need a productive cause, doth as little need a sustaining or conserving cause. And to make this more plain, either some being is independent, or all being is dependent. But there is nothing without the compass of all being whereon it may depend. Wherefore to say, that all being doth depend, is to say, it depends on nothing, that is, that it depends not. For to depend on nothing, is not to depend. It is therefore a manifest contradiction to say that all being doth depend; against which it is no relief to urge, that all beings do circularly depend on one another. For so, however the whole circle or sphere of being should depend on nothing; or one at last depend on itself, which negatively taken, as before, is true, and the timing we contend for-that one, the common support of all the rest, depends not on any timing without itself.
"Whence also it is plainly consequent, Fourthly, that such a Being is necessary, or doth necessarily exist: that is, that it is of such a nature as that it could riot or cannot but be. For what is in being, neither by its own choice, nor any other's, is necessarily. But what was not made by itself, (which hath been shown to be impossible,) nor by any other, (as it hath been proved something was not,) it is manifest, it neither depended on its choice, nor any other's that it is. And there. fore, its existence is not owing to choice at all, but to the necessity of its own nature. Wherefore it is always by a simple, absolute, natural necessity; being of a nature to which it is altogether repugnant and impossible ever not to have been, or ever to cease from being. And now having gone thus far, and being assured, that hitherto we feel the ground firm under us ; that is, having gained a full certainty, that there is an eternal, uncaused, independent, necessary Being, and therefore actually and everlastingly existing; we may advance one step farther,
"And with equal assurance add, Fifthy, that this eternal, independent, uncaused, necessary Being, is self active; that is, (which is at present meant,) not such as acts upon itself, but that which hath the power of acting upon other things, in and of itself, without deriving it from any other. Or at least that there is such a Being as is eternal, uncaused, &c, having the power of action in and of itself. For either such a Being as hath been already evinced is of itself active or unactive, or hath the power of action of itself or not. If we will say the latter, let it be considered what we say, and to what purpose we say it.
"1. We are to weigh what it is we affirm, when we speak of an eternal, uncaused, independent, necessary Being, which is of itself totally unactive, or destitute of any active power. If we will say there is some such thing, we will confess, when we have called it something, it is a very silly, despicable, idle something, and a something, (if we look upon it alone,) as good as nothing. For there is but little odds between being nothing, and being able to do nothing. We will again confess, eternity, self origination, independency, necessity of existence, to be very great and highly dignifying attributes; and import a most inconceivable excellency. For what higher glory can we ascribe to any being, than to acknowledge it to have been from eternity of itself, without being beholden to any other, and to be such as that it can be and cannot but be in the same state, self-subsisting, and self sufficient to all eternity? But can our reason either direct or endure, that we should so incongruously misplace so magnificent attributes as these, and ascribe the prime glory of the most excellent Being unto that which is next to nothing? But if any in the meantime will be so inconsiderate as to say this, let it
"2. Be considered to what purpose they say it. Is it to exclude a necessary self-active Being? But it can signify nothing to that purpose. For such a Being they will be forced to acknowledge, let them do what they can (beside putting out their own eyes) notwithstanding. For why do they acknowledge any necessary being at all, that was ever of itself? Is it not because they cannot, otherwise, for their hearts, tell how it was ever possible that any thing at all could come into being? But, finding that something is, they are compelled to acknowledge that something hath ever been, necessarily and of itself. No other account could be given how other things came to be. But what? doth it signify any thing toward the giving an account of the original of all other things, to suppose only an eternal, self-subsisting, unactive Being? Did that cause other things to be? Will not their own breath choke them if they attempt to utter the self-contradicting words, an unactive cause, which is efficient or the author of any thing? And do they not see they are as far from their mark, or do no more toward the assigning an original to all other things, by supposing an eternal, unactive being only, than if they supposed none at all? That which can do nothing, can no more be the productive cause of another, than that which is nothing. Wherefore, by the same reason that hath constrained us to acknowledge an eternal, uncaused, independent, necessary Being, we are also unavoidably led to acknowledge this Being to be self active, or such as hath the power of action in and of itself; or that there is certainly such a Being, who is the cause of all the things which our senses tell us are existent in the world.
"For what else is left us to say or think? Will we think fit to say that all things we behold were, as they now are, necessarily existent from all eternity? That were to speak against our own eyes, which continually behold the rise and fall of living things, of whatsoever sort or kind, that can come under their notice. For all the things we be. hold are, in some respect or other, internally or externally, continually changing, and therefore could never long be beheld as they are. And to say then, they have been continually changing from eternity, and yet have been necessarily, is unintelligible and flat nonsense. For what is necessarily, is always the same; and what is in this or that posture necessarily, (that is, by an intrinsic, simple and absolute necessity, which must be here meant,) must be ever so. Wherefore to suppose the world in this or that state necessarily, and yet that such a state is changeable, is an impossible and self.contradicting supposition.
"But now, since we find that the present state of things is changeable, and actually changing, and that what is changeable is not necessarily, and of itself; and since it is evident that there is some necessary Being, otherwise nothing could ever have been; and that without action' nothing could be from it; since also all change imports somewhat of passion, and all passion supposes action; and all action, active power; and active power, an original seat or subject, which is self active, or hath the power of action in and of itself; (for there could be no derivation of it from that which hath it not, and no first derivation, but from that which bath it originally of itself; and a first derivation there must be, since all things that are, or ever have been, furnished with it, and not of themselves, must either immediately or mediately have derived it from that which had it of itself;) it is therefore manifest that there is a necessary, self-active Being, the Cause and Author of this perpetually variable state and frame of things.
And hence, since we can frame no notion of life which self-active power doth not, at least, comprehend, (as upon trial we shall find that we cannot,) it is consequent, Sixthly, that this Being is also originally vital, and the root of all vitality, such as hath life in or of itself, and from whence it is propagated to every other living thing." (Living Temple.)
The self existent, eternal, self-active, and vital Being, whose necessary existence has thus been proved, is also intelligent of which the demonstration a posteriori is large and convincing. For since we are speaking of a Being who is himself independent, and upon whom all things depend; and from the dependence of every thing we see around us, we necessarily infer a cause of them, whom we do not see, but who must himself be independent, and from whom they must have originated their actual existence, and their being upheld and sustained, prove his power, and their arrangement, and wise and evidently intentional disposition, prove also his intelligence.
In the proposition that the self-existent and original cause of all things must be an intelligent Being, Dr. Samuel Clarke justly observes, lies the main question between us and Atheists. For that something must be self existent, and that that which is self existent must be eternal and in. finite, and the original cause of all things, will not bear much dispute But all Atheists, whether they hold the world to be of itself eternal, both as to matter and form, or whether they hold the matter to be eternal, and the form contingent, or whatever hypothesis they frame, have al ways asserted and must maintain, either directly or indirectly, that the self-existent Being is not an intelligent Being ; but either pure inactive matter, or (which in other words is the very same thing,) a mere necessary agent. For a mere necessary agent must of necessity either be plainly and directly in the grossest sense unintelligent, which was the notion of the ancient Atheists of the self-existent Being; or else its intelligence, according to Spinoza and some moderns, must be wholly separate from any power of will and choice, which in respect of excel
lency and perfection, or indeed to any common sense, is the very same thing as no intelligence at all. Now that the self-existent Being is not
a blind and unintelligent necessity, but in the most proper sense an understanding and really active Being, does not indeed so obviously and directly appear to us b considerations a ; but a posteriori almost ever thing in the world demonstrates to us this great truth, and affords undeniable arguments to prove that the world and all things therein are the effects of an intelligent and knowing Cause.
"And 1st. Since in general there are manifestly in things various kinds of powers, and very different excellencies and degrees of perfection; it must needs be, that, in the order of causes and effects, the cause must always be more excellent than the effect: and consequently the self-existent Being, whatever that be supposed to be, must of necessity (being the original of all things) contain in itself the sum and highest degree of all the perfections of all things. Not because that which is self existent, must therefore have all possible perfections: (for this, though most certainly true in itself, yet cannot be so easily demonstrated a priori:) but because it is impossible that any effect should have any perfection, which was not in the cause. For if it had, then that perfection would be caused by nothing; which is a plain contradiction. Now an unintelligent being, it is evident, cannot be endued with all the perfections of all things in the world; because intelligence is one of those perfections. All things therefore cannot arise from an unintelligent original: and consequently the self-existent Being must of necessity be intelligent.
"There is no possibility for an Atheist to avoid the force of this argument any other way, than 'by asserting one of these two things: either that there is no intelligent Being at all in the universe; or that intelligence is no distinct perfection, but merely a composition of figure and motion, as colour and sounds are vulgarly supposed to be. Of the former of these assertions, every man's own consciousness is an abundant confutation. For they who contend that beasts are mere machines, have yet never presumed to conjecture that men are so too. And that the latter assertion (in which the main strength of Atheism lies) is most absurd and impossible, shall be shown.
"For since in men in particular there is undeniably that power, which we call thought, intelligence, consciousness, perception or knowledge; there must of necessity either have been from eternity without any original cause at all, an infinite succession of men, whereof no one has had a necessary, but every one a dependent and communicated being; or else these beings, endued with perception and consciousness, must at some time or other have arisen purely out of that which had no such quality as sense, perception, or consciousness ; or else they must have been produced by some intelligent superior Being. There never was nor can be any Atheist whatsoever, that can deny but one of these three suppositions must be the truth. if, therefore, the two former can be proved to be false and impossible, the latter must be owned to be demonstrably true. Now that the first is impossible, is evident from what has been already said. And that the second is likewise impossible, may he thus demonstrated perception or intelligence be any real distinct quality, or perfection ; and not a mere effect or composition of unintelligent figure and motion; then beings endued with perception or consciousness, can never possibly have arisen purely out of that which itself had no such quality as perception or consciousness; because nothing can ever give to another any perfection which it hath not either actually in itself, or at least in a higher degree. 'This is very evident; because, if any thing could give to another any perfection which it has not itself, that perfection would be caused absolutely by nothing; which is a plain contradiction. If any one here replies, (as Mr. Gildon has done in a letter to Mr. Blount,) that colours, sounds, tastes, and the like, arise from figure and motion, which have no such qualities in themselves; or that figure, divisibility, mobility, and other qualities of matter, are confessed to be given from God, who yet cannot, without extreme blasphemy, be said to have any such qualities himself; and that therefore in like manner, perception or intelligence may arise out of that which has no intelligence itself; the answer is very easy: First, that colours, sounds, tastes, and the like, are by no means effects arising from mere figure and motion; there being nothing in the bodies themselves, the objects of the senses, that has any manner of similitude to any of these qualities; but they are plainly thoughts or modifications of the mind itself, which is an intelligent being; and are not properly caused, but only occasioned, by the impressions of figure and motion. Nor will it at all help an Atheist (as to the present question) though we should here make for him, (that we may allow him the greatest possible advantage,) even that most absurd supposition, that the mind itself is nothing but mere matter, and not at all an immaterial substance. For, even supposing it to be mere matter, yet he must needs confess it to be such matter, as is endued not only with figure and motion, but also with the quality of intelligence and perception: and consequently, as to the present question, it will still come to the same thing; that colours, sounds, and the like, which are not qualities of unintelligent bodies, but perceptions of mind, can no more be caused by, or arise from mere unintelligent figure, and motion, than colour can be a triangle, or sound a square, or something be caused by nothing. Secondly; as to the other part of the objection, that figure, divisibility, mobility, and other qualities of matter, are (as we ourselves acknowledge) given it from God, who yet cannot, without extreme blasphemy, be said to have any such qualities himself; and that, therefore, in like manner, perception or intelligence may arise out of that which has no intelligence itself; the answer is still easier: that figure, divisibility, mobility, and other such like qualities of matter, are not real, proper, distinct, and positive powers, but only negative qualities, deficiencies, or imperfections. And though no cause can communicate to its effect any real perfection which it has not itself, yet the effect may easily have many imperfections, deficiencies, or negative qualities, which are not in the cause. Though therefore figure, divisibility, mobility, and the like, (which are mere negations, as all limitations, and all defects of powers are,) may be in the effect, and not in the cause; yet intelligence, (which I now suppose, and shall prove immediately, to be a distinct quality; and which no man can say is a mere negation,) cannot possibly be so.
Having therefore thus demonstrated, that if perception or intelligence be supposed to be a distinct quality or perfection, (though even but of matter only, if the Atheist pleases,) and not a mere effect or composition of unintelligent figure and motion; then beings endued with perception or consciousness can never have arisen purely out of that which had no such quality as perception or consciousness; because nothing can ever give to another any perfection, which it has not itself: it will easily appear, secondly that perception or intelligence is really such a distinct quality or perfection, and not possibly a mere effect or composition of unintelligent figure and motion: and that for this plain reason, because intelligence is not figure, end consciousness is not motion. For whatever can arise from, or be compounded of any things, is still only those very things of which it was compounded. And if infinite compositions or divisions be made eternally, the things will be but eternally the same. And all their possible effects can never be any thing but repetitions of the same. For instance: all possible changes, compositions, or divisions of figure, are still nothing but figure: and all possible compositions or effects of motion, can eternally he nothing but mere motion. If therefore there ever was a time when there was nothing in the universe but matter and motion, there never could have been any thing else therein but matter and motion. And it would have been as impossible, there should ever have existed any such thing as intelligence or consciousness; or even any such thing as light, or heat, or sound, or colour, or any of those we call secondary qualities of matter; as it is now impossible for motion to be blue or red, or for a triangle to be transformed into a sound. That which has been apt to deceive men in this matter, is this, that they imagine compounds to be somewhat really different from that of which they are compounded: which is a very great mistake. For all the things, of which men so judge, either, if they be really different are not compounds nor effects of what men judge them to be, but are something totally distinct; as when the vulgar think colours and sounds to be properties inherent in bodies, when indeed they are purely thoughts of the mind: or else, if they be really compounds and effects, then they are not different, but exactly the same that ever they were; as, when two triangles put together make a square, that square is still nothing but two triangles ; or when a square cut in halves makes two triangles, those two triangles are still only the two halves of a square; or when the mixture of blue and yellow powder makes a green, that green is still nothing but blue and yellow intermixed, as is plainly visible by the help of microscopes. And in short, every thing by composition, division or motion, is nothing else but the very same it was before, taken either in whole or in parts, or in different place or order. He therefore that will affirm intelligence to be the effect of a system of unintelligent matter in motion, must either affirm intelligence to be a mere name or external denomination of certain figures and mentions, and that. it differs from unintelligent figures and motions, no otherwise than as a circle or triangle differs from a square, which is evidently absurd: or else he must suppose it to be a real distinct quality, arising from certain motions of a system of matter not in itself intelligent; and then this no less evidently absurd consequence would follow, that one quality inhered in another; for, in that case, not the substance itself, the particles of which the system consists, but the mere mode, the particular mode of motion and figure would be intelligent.
"That the self existent and original cause of all things, is an intelligent Being, appears abundantly from the excellent variety, order, beauty, and wonderful contrivance, and fitness of all things in the world, to their proper and respective ends. Since therefore things are thus, it must unavoidably be granted, (even by the most obstinate Atheist,) either that all plants and animals are originally the work of an intelligent Be. ing, and created by him in time; or that having been from eternity in the same order and method they now are in, they are an eternal effect of an eternal intelligent Cause continually exerting his infinite power and wisdom; or else that without any self-existent original at all, their have been derived one from another in an eternal succession, by an' infinite progress of dependent causes. The first of these three ways is, the conclusion we assert: the second, (so far as the cause of Atheism is concerned,) comes to the very same thing: and the third I have already shown to be absolutely impossible and a contradiction.
"Supposing it was possible that the form of the world, and all the visible things contained therein, with the order, beauty, and exquisite fitness of their parts; nay, supposing that even intelligence itself, with consciousness and thought, in all the beings we know, could possibly be the result or effect of mere unintelligent matter, figure, and motion; (which is the most unreasonable and impossible supposition in the world;) yet even still there would remain an undeniable demonstration, that the self-existent Being, (whatever it be supposed to be,) must be intelligent. For even these principles themselves, unintelligent figure and motion, could never have possibly existed, without there had been before them an intelligent cause. I instance in motion. It is evident there is now such a thing as motion in the world; which either began at some time or other, or was eternal. If it began at any time, then the question is granted, that the First Cause is an intelligent being: for mere unintelligent matter, and that at rest, it is manifest, could never of itself begin to move. On the contrary, if motion was eternal, it was either eternally caused by some eternal intelligent Being, or it must of itself be necessary and self existent; or else, without any necessity in its own nature, and without any external necessary cause, it must have existed from eternity by an endless successive communication. If motion was eternally caused by some eternal intelligent Being; this also is granting the question as to the present dispute. If it was of itself necessary and self existent; then it follows that it must be a contradiction in terms, to suppose any matter to be at rest: beside, (as there is no end of absurdities,) it must also imply a contradiction, to suppose that there might possibly have been originally more or less motion in the universe than there actually was: which is so very absurd a consequence, that Spinoza himself, though he expressly asserts all things to be necessary, yet seems ashamed here to speak out his opinion, or rather plainly contradicts himself in the question about the original of motion. But if it be said, lastly, that motion, without any necessity in its own nature, and without any external necessary cause, has existed from eternity, merely by an endless successive communication, as Spinoza, inconsistently enough, seems to assert; this I have before shown to be a plain contradiction. It remains therefore that motion must of necessity be originally caused by something that is intelligent; or else there never could have been any such thing as motion in the world. And consequently the self. existent Being, the original Cause of all things, (whatever it is supposed to be,) must of necessity l)e an intelligent'Being."
The argument from the existence of motion to the existence of an intelligent First Cause is so convincing, that the farther illustration of it, in which the absurdities of Atheism are exhibited in another view, will not be unacceptable.
"Consider that all this motion and motive power must have some source and fountain diverse from the dull and sluggish matter moved thereby, unto which it already hath appeared impossible that it should originally and essentially belong.
"Also that the mighty active Being, which hath been proved necessarily existent, and whereto it must first belong, if we suppose it destitute of the self moderating principle of wisdom and counsel, cannot but be always exerting its motive power, invariably used to the same degree, that is, to its very utmost, and can never cease or fail to do so. For its act knows no limit but that of its power, (if this can have any,) and its power is essential to it, and its essence is necessary.
"Farther, that the motion impressed upon the matter of the universe, must hereupon necessarily have received a continual increase ever since it came into being.
"That supposing this motive power to have been exerted from eternity, it must have been increased long ago to an infinite excess.
"That hence the coalition of the particles of matter for the forming of any thing, had been altogether impossible: for let us suppose this exerted motive power to have been, any instant, but barely sufficient for such a formation; because that could not be despatched in an instant, it would, by its continual increase, be grown so over sufficient, as, in the next instant, to dissipate the particles, but now beginning to unite.
At least, it would be most apparent, that if ever such a frame of things as we now behold could have been produced, that motive power increased to so infinite an excess, must have shattered the whole frame in pieces, many an age ago, or rather never have permitted that such a thing as we call an age could possibly have been.
"Our experience gives us not to observe any such destructive or remarkable changes in the course of nature, and this indeed (as was long ago foretold) is the great argument of the Atheistical scoffers in these latter days, that things remain as they were from the beginning of the creation to this day. But let it be soberly weighed, how it is possible that the general consistency, which we observe in things through out the universe, and their steady orderly posture, can stand with this momently increase of motion.
"For we see when we throw a stone out of our hand, whatever of the impressed force it imparts to the air, through which it makes its way, or whatever degree of it vanishes of itself, it yet retains a part a considerable time, which carries it all the length of its journey, and does not vanish and die away on the sudden. So when we here consider in the continual momently renewal of the same force, always necessarily going forth from the same mighty agent, without any moderation or restraint, that every following impetus doth so immediately overtake the former, that whatever we can suppose lost, is yet abundantly over-supplied; upon the whole, it cannot fail to be ever growing, and before now must have grown to that all destroying excess before mentioned.
"It is therefore evident, that as without the supposition of a self -active Being, there could be no such thing as motion, so without the supposition of an intelligent Being, (that is, that the same Being be both self active and intelligent,) there could he no regular motion, such as is absolutely necessary to the forming and continuing of any of the compacted bodily substances, which our eyes behold every day; yea, or of. any whatsoever, suppose we their figures, their shapes, to be as rude, as deformed, and useless as we can imagine, much less such as the exquisite compositions, and the exact order of things in the universe do evidently require and discover." (HOWE'S Living Temple.)
The proof that the original cause of all things is an intelligent Being, alluded to above by Dr. S. Clarke, as exhibited by the excellent variety, order, beauty, and wonderful contrivance and fitness of all things in the world to their proper and respective ends, has, from the copious and almost infinite illustration of which it is capable, been made a distinct branch of theological science It is the most obvious and popular, and therefore the most useful argument in favour of the intelligence of that Being of infinite perfections, we call God; it is that to which the Holy Scriptures refer us for the confirmation of their own doctrine on this subject, and it has been constantly resorted to by all writers on this first principle of religion in every age. When it has been considered separately, and the proofs from nature have been largely given, it has been designated "Natural Theology," and has given rise to many important works, equally entertaining, instructive, and convincing. The basis, and indeed the plan, of Dr. Paley's Natural Theology, are found in the third and following chapters of Howe's Living Temple; but the outline has been filled up, and the subject expanded by that able writer with great felicity of illustration, and acute and powerful argument. From the platform of Paley's work, as it may be found in "the Living Temple," I shall give a few extracts, which, though they appear in the "Natural Theology" in a more expansive form, strengthened by additional examples, and clothed in some of the instances given with a more correct philosophy, are not superseded. They bear upon the conclusion with an irresistible force, and are expressed with a noble eloquence, though in language a little antiquated in structure.
"As nothing can be produced without a cause, so no cause can work above or beyond its own capacity and natural aptitude. Whatsoever therefore is ascribed to any cause, above and beyond its ability, all that surplusage is ascribed to no cause at all: and so an effect, in that part at least, were supposed without a cause. And if it then follow when an effect is produced, that it had a cause; why doth it not equally follow, when an effect is produced, having manifest characters of wisdom and design upon it, that it had a wise and designing cause? If it be said, there are some fortuitous or casual (at least undesigned) productions, that look like the effects of wisdom and contrivance, but indeed are not, as the birds so orderly and seasonably making their nests, the bees their comb, and the spider its web, which are capable of no design, that exception needs to be well proved before it he admitted; and that it he plainly demonstrated, both that these creatures are not capable of design, and that there is not a universal, designing cause, from whose directive as well as operative influence, no imaginable effect or event can be exempted. In which case it will no more be necessary, that every creature that is observed steadily to work toward an end, should itself design and know it, than that an artificer's tools should know what he is doing with them; but if they do not, it is plain he must. And surely it lies upon them who so except, to prove in this case what they say and not to be so precarious as to beg, or think us so easy as to grant, so much, only because they have thought fit to say it, or would fain have it so, that is, that this or that strange event happened without any designing cause.
"But, however, I would demand, of such as make this exception whether they think there be any effect at all, to which a designing cause was necessary, or which they will judge impossible to have been otherwise produced than by the direction and contrivance of wisdom and counsel? I little doubt but there are thousands of things, laboured and wrought by the hand of man, which they would presently, upon first sight, pronounce to be the effects of skill, and not of chance; yea, if they only considered their frame and shape, though they understood not, their use and end, they would surely think at least some effects or other sufficient to argue to us a designing cause. And would they but soberly consider and resolve what characters or footsteps of wisdom and design might be reckoned sufficient to put us out of doubt, would they not, upon comparing, be brought to acknowledge that there are no where any more conspicuous and manifest, than in the things daily in vieW, that go ordinarily, with us, under the name of works of nature? Whence it is plainly consequent, that what men commonly call universal nature, if they would be content no longer to lurk in the darkness of an obscure and uninterpreted word, they must confess is nothing else but common providence, that is, the universal power which is every where active in the world, in conjunction with the unerring wisdom which guides and moderates all its exertions and operations, or the wisdom which directs and governs that power. They must therefore see cause to acknowledge that an exact order and disposition of parts in very neat and elegant compositions, do plainly argue wisdom and skill in the contrivance; only they will distinguish and say, It is so in the effects of art, but not of nature. What is this, but to deny in particular what they granted in general? To make what they have said signify nothing more than if they had said, such exquisite order of parts is the effect of wisdom, where it is the effect of wisdom; but it is not the effect of wisdom, where it is not the effect of wisdom; and to trifle, instead of giving a reason why things are so? And whence take they their advantage for this trifling, or do they hope to hide their folly in it, but that they think while what is meant by art is known, what is meant by nature cannot be known? But if it be not known, how can they tell but their distinguishing members are coincident, and run into one? Yea, and if they would allow the thing itself to speak, and the effect to confess and dictate the name of its own cause, how plain is it that they do run into one; and that the expression imports no impropriety, which we somewhere find in Cicero, The art of nature; or rather, that nature is nothing else but Divine art, "at least in as near an analogy as between any things Divine and human? But, that this matter (even the thing itself, waiving for the present the consideration of names,) may be a little more narrowly discussed and searched into, let some curious piece of workmanship be offered to such a skeptic's view, the making whereof be did not see, nor of any thing like it, and we will suppose him not told that this was made by the hand of any man, nor that lie hath any thing to guide his judgment about the way of its becoming what it is, but only his own view of the thing itself; and yet he shall presently, without hesitation, pronounce, this was the effect of much skill. I would here inquire, Why do you so pronounce? Or, What is the reason of this your judgment? Surely he would not say he hath no reason at all for this so confident and unwavering determination; for then he would not be determined, but speak by chance, and be indifferent to say that or any thing else. Somewhat or other there must be, that, when he is asked, is this the effect of skill? shall so suddenly and irresistibly captivate him into an assent that it is so, that he cannot think otherwise. Nay, if a thousand men were asked the same question, they would as undoubtingly say the same thing; and then, since there is a reason for this judgment, what can be devised to be the reason, but that there are so manifest characters and evidences of skill in the composure, as are not attributable to any thing else? Now here I would farther demand, Is there any thing in this reason? Yea, or No? Doth it signify any thing, or is it of any value for the purpose for which it is alleged? Surely it is of very great, inasmuch as, when it is considered, it leaves it not in a man's power to think any thing else; and what can be said more potently and efficaciously to demonstrate? But now, if this reason signify any thing, it signifies thus much; that wheresoever there are equal characters, and evidences of skill, a skilful agent must be acknowledged. And so it will, (in spite of cavil,) conclude universally, and abstractedly, from what we can suppose distinctly signified by the terms of art and nature, that whatsoever effect hath such, or equal characters of skill upon it, did proceed from a skilful cause. That is, that if this effect be said to be from a skilful cause, as having manifest characters of skill upon it, then every such effect, that bath equally manifest characters of skill upon it, must be, with equal reason, concluded to be from a skilful cause.
"We will acknowledge skill to act, and wit to contrive, to be very distinguishable things, and in reference to some works, (as the making Some curious automaton, or self.moving engine,) are commonly lodged in divers subjects; that is, the contrivance exercises the wit and Invention of one, and the making, the manual skill and dexterity of others: but the manifest characters of both will be seen in the effect.- That is, the curious elaborateness of each several part shows the latter, and the order and dependence of parts, and their conspiracy to one common cud, the former. Each betokens design; or at least the smith or carpenter must be understood to design his own part, that is, to do all he was directed; both together do plainly bespeak an agent that knew what lie did; and that the thing was not done by chance, or was not the casual product of only being busy at random, or making a careless stir, without aiming at any thing. And this, no man that is in his with would, upon sight of the whole frame, more doubt to assent unto, than that two and two make four. And he would certainly be thought mad, that should profess to think that only by sonic one's making a bustle among several small fragments of brass, iron, and wood, these parts happened to be thus curiously formed, and came together into this frame, of their own accord.
"Or lest this should be thought to intimate too rude a representation of their conceit who think this world to have fallen into this frame and order wherein it is, by the agitation of the moving parts, or particles of matter, without the direction of a wise mover; and that we may also make the case as plain as is possible to the most ordinary capacity, we will suppose (for instance) that one who had never before seen a watch, or any thing of that sort, hath now this little engine first offered to his view; can we doubt, but that he would, upon the mere sight of its figure, structure, and the very curious workmanship which we will suppose appearing in it, presently acknowledge the artificer hand? But if ho were also made to understand the use and purpose for which it serves, and it were distinctly shown him how each thing contributes, and all things in this little fabric concur to this purpose, the exact measuring and dividing of time by minutes, hours, and months, he would certainly both confess and praise the great ingenuity of the first inventor. But now if a bystander, beholding him in this admiration, would undertake to show a profounder reach and strain of wit, and should say, Sir, you are mistaken concerning the composition of this so much admired piece; it was not made or designed by the hand or skill of any one; there were only an innumerable company of little atoms or very small bodies, much too small to be perceived by your sense, that were busily frisking and plying to and fro about the place of its nativity; and by a strange chance or a stranger fate, and the necessary laws of that motion which they were unavoidably put into, by a certain boisterous, undesigning mover, they fell together into this small hulk, so as to compose this very shape and figure, and with this same number and order of parts which you now behold: one squadron of these busy particles (little thinking what they were about) agreeing to make one wheel, and another a second, in that proportion which you see: others of them also falling and becoming fixed in so happy a posture and situation as to describe the several .figures by which the little moving fingers point out the hours of the day, and the day of the month: and all conspired to fall together, each into its own place, in so lucky a juncture, as that the regular motion failed not to ensue which we see is now observed in it,-what man is either so wise or so foolish, (for it is hard to determine whether the excess or the defect should best qualify him to be of this faith,) as to be capable of being made believe this piece of natural history? And if any one should give this account of the production of such a trifle, would he not be thought in jest? But if he persist, and solemnly profess that thus he takes it to have been, would he not be thought in good earnest mad? And let but any sober reason judge whether we have not unspeakably more madness to contend against in such as suppose this world, and the bodies of living creatures to have fallen into this frame and orderly disposition of parts wherein they are, without the direction of a wise and designing cause? And whether there be not an incomparably greater number of most wild and arbitrary suppositions in their fiction titan in this? Beside the innumerable supposed repetitions of the same strange chances all the world over; even as numberless, not only as productions, but as the changes that continually happen to all the things produced. And if the concourse of atoms could make this world, why not (for it is but little to mention such a thing as this,) a porch, or a temple, or a house, or a city, as Tuhly speaks, which were less operous, and much more easy performances?
"It is not to be supposed that all should be astronomers, anatomists, or natural philosophers, that shall read these lines; and therefore it is intended not to insist upon particulars, and to make as little use as is possible of terms that would only be agreeable to that supposition. But surely such general, easy reflections on the frame of the universe, and the order of parts in the bodies of all sorts of living creatures, as the meanest ordinary understanding is capable of, would soon discover incomparably greater evidence of wisdom and design in the contrivance of these, than in that of a watch or a clock. And if there were any whose understandings are but of that size arid measure as to suppose that the whole frame of the heavens serves to no other purpose than to be of some such use to us mortals here on earth as that instrument; if they would but allow themselves leisure to think and consider, they might discern the most convincing and amazing discoveries of wise contrivance and design (as well as the vastest might and power) in disposing things into so apt a subserviency to that meaner end; and that so exact a knowledge is had thereby of times and seasons, days and years, as that the simplest idiot in a country may be able to tell you, when the light of the sun is withdrawn from his eyes, at what time it will return, and when it will look in at such a window, and when at the other; and by what degrees his days and nights shall either be increased or diminished; and what proportion of time he shall have for his labours in this season of the year, and what in that; without the least suspicion or fear that it shall ever fall out otherwise.
"For let us suppose (what no man can pretend is more impossible, and what any man must confess is less considerable, than what our eyes daily see,) that in some part of the air near this earth, and within such limits as that the whole scene might be conveniently beheld at one view, there should suddenly appear a little globe of pure flaming light resembling that of the sun, and suppose it fixed as a centre to another body, or moving about that other as its centre, (as this or that hypothesis best pleases us,) which we could plainly perceive to be a proportionably little earth, beautified with little trees and woods, flowery fields and flowing rivulets, with larger lakes into which these discharge themselves; and suppose we see other planets all of proportionable bigness to the narrow limits assigned them, placed at their due distances, and playing about this supposed earth or sun, so as to measure their shorter and soon absolved days, months, and years, or two, twelve, or thirty years, according to their supposed circuits ;-would they not presently, and with great amazement, confess an intelligent contriver and maker of this whole frame, above a Posidonius or any mortal? And have we not in the present frame of things a demonstration of wisdom and counsel, as far exceeding that which is now supposed, as the making some toy or bauble to please a child is less an argument of wisdom titan the contrivance of somewhat that is of apparent and universal use? Or if we could suppose this present state of things to have but newly begun, and ourselves pre.existent, so that we could take notice of the very passing of things out of horrid confusion into the comely order they are now in, would not this put the matter out of doubt? But might what would yesterday have been the effect of wisdom, better have been brought about by chance, five or six thousand years, or any longer time ago? It speaks not want of evidence in the thing, but want of consideration, and of exercising our understandings, if what were new would not only convince but astonish, and what is old, of the same importance, doth not so much as convince!
"And let them that understand any thing of the composition of a human body (or indeed of any living creature) but bethink themselves whether there be not equal contrivance, at least, appearing in the composure of that admirable fabric, as of any the most admired machine or engine devised and made by human skill and wit. If we pitch upon any thing of known and common use, as suppose again, a clock or watch, which is no sooner seen than it is acknowledged (as bath been said) the effect of a designing cause; will we not confess as much of the body of a man Yea, what comparison is there, when in the structure of some one single member, as a band, a foot, an eye, or ear, there appears upon a diligent search, unspeakably greater curiosity, whether we consider the variety of parts, their exquisite figuration, or their apt disposition to the distinct uses and ends these members serve for, than is to be seen in any clock or watch? Concerning which uses of the several parts in man's body, Galen, so largely discoursing in seventeen books, inserts on the leg, this epiphonema, upon the mention of one particular instance of our most wise Maker's provident care :-' Unto whom (saith he) I compose these commentaries,' (meaning his present work of unfolding the useful figuration of the human body,) 'as certain hymns, or songs of praise, esteeming true piety to consist in this, that I first may know, and then declare to others, his wisdom, power, providence, and goodness, than in sacrificing to him many hecatornbs: and in the ignorance whereof there is greatest impiety, rather than in abstaining from sacrifice.' 'Nor,' (as he adds in the close of that excellent work,) 'is the most l)erfect natural artifice to be seen in man only; but you may find the like industrious design and wisdom of the Author, in any living creature which you shall please to dissect: amid by how much the less it is, so much the greater admiration shall it excite in you; which those artists show, that describe some great thing (contractedly) in a very small space: as that person who lately engraved Phaeton carried in his chariot with his four horses upon a little ring-a most incredible sight! But there is nothing in matters of this nature more strange than in the structure of the leg of a flea.' How much more might it be said of all its inward parts? 'Therefore, (as he adds,) the greatest commodity of such a work accrues not to physicians, but to them who are studious of nature, namely, the knowledge of our Maker's perfection, and that (as he had said a little above) it establishes the principle of the most perfect theology; which theology is much more excellent than all medicine.'
"It were too great an undertaking, and beyond the designed limits of this discourse, (though it would be to excellent purpose, if it could be done without amusing terms, and in that easy, familiar way as to be capable of common use,) to pursue, and trace distinctly the prints and footsteps of the admirable wisdom which appears in the structure and frame of this outer temple. For even our bodies themselves are said to be the temples of the Holy Ghost, 1 Cor vi, 19. And to dwell awhile in the contemplation and discovery of those numerous instances of most apparent, ungainsayable sagacity and providence which offer themselves to view in every part and particle of this fabric: how most commodiously all things are ordered in it! With how strangely cautious circumspection and foresight not only destructive, but even (perpetually) vexatious and afflicting incongruities are avoided and provided against, to pose ourselves upon the sundry obvious questions that might be Iut for the evincing of such provident foresight. As for instance, how comes it to pass that the several parts which we find to be double in our bodies, are not single only? Is this altogether by chance? That there are two eyes, ears, nostrils, hands, feet, &c: what a miserable, shiftless creature had man been, if there had only been allowed him one foot! A seeing, hearing, talking, unmoving statue. That the hand is divised into fingers? Those so conveniently situate, one in so fitly opposite a posture to the rest?
"And what, if some one pair or other of these parts had been universally wanting? The hands, the feet, the eyes, the ears. How great a misery had it inferred upon mankind! and is it only a casualty that it is not so? That time back bone is composed of so many joints, (twenty.four, beside those of that which is the basis and sustainer of the whole,) and is not all of a piece, by which stooping, or any motion of the head or neck, diverse from that of the whole body, had been altogether impossible; that there is such variety and curiosity in the ways of joining the bones together in that, amid other parts of time body, that in some parts they are joined by mere adherence of one to another, either with or without an intervening medium, and both these ways so diversely; that others are fastened together by proper jointing, so as to suit and be accompanied with motion, either more obscure or more manifest, and this, either by a deeper, or more superficial insertion of one bone into another, or by a mutual insertion, and that in different ways; and that all these should be so exactly accommodated to the several l)arts amid uses to which they belong and serve ;-was all this without design? Who that views the curious and apt texture of the eye, can think it was not made on purpose to see with; and the ear, upon the like view, for hearing, when so many things must concur that these actions might be performed by these organs, and are found to do so? Or who can think that the sundry little engines belonging to the eye were not made with design to move it upward, down ward, to side or that, or whirl it about as there should be occasion; without which instruments and their appendages, no such motion could have been? Who, that is not stupidly perverse, can think that the sundry inward parts (which it would require a volume distinctly to speak of, and bait to mention them and their uses would too unproportion. ably swell this part of this discourse) were not made purposely by.a designing agent, for the ends they so aptly and constantly serve for? The want of some one among divers whereof, or but a little misplacing, or if things had been but a little otherwise than they are, lead inferred an impossibility that such a creature as man could have subsisted, or been propagated upon time face of the earth. As what if there had not been such a receptacle prepared as the stomach is, and so formed and placed as it is, to receive and digest necessary nutriment? Had not the whole frame of man beside been in vain.? Or what if the passage from it downward had not been made somewhat a little ascending, so as to detain a convenient time what it received, but that what was taken in were suddenly transmitted? It is evident the whole structure had been ruined as soon as made. What, (to instance in what seems so small a matter,) if that -little cover had been wanting at the entrance of that through which we breathe; (the depression whereof by the weight of what we eat or drink, shuts it, and prevents meat and drink from going down that way;) had not unavoidable suffocation ensued? And who can number the instances that can be given beside? Now when there is a concurrence of so many things absolutely necessary, (concerning which the common saying is as applicable, more frequently wont to be applied to matters of morality,-' Goodness is from the concurrence of all causes, evil, from any defect,') each so aptly and opportunely serving its own proper use, and all, one common end, certainly to say that so manifold, so regular and stated a subserviency to that end, and the end itself, went undesigned, and things casually fell out thus, is to say we know or care not what.
"We will only, before we close this consideration, concerning the mere frame of a human body, (which hath been so hastily and superficially proposed,) offer a supposition which is no more strange (excluding the vulgar notion by which nothing is strange, but what is not common) than the thing itself as it actually is; namely, that the whole more external covering of the body of a man were made, instead of skin and flesh, of some very transparent substance, flexible, but clear as very crystal; through which, and the other more inward (and as transparent) integuments, or enfoldings, we could plainly perceive the situation and order of all the internal parts, and how they each of them perform their distinct offices: if we could discern the continual motion of the blood, how it is conveyed, by its proper conduits, from its first source and fountain, partly downward to the lower entrails, (if rather it ascend not from thence, as at least what afterward becomes blood doth,) partly up. ward, to its admirable elaboratory, the heart; wincre it is refined and furnished with fresh vital spirits, and so transmitted thence by the distinct vessels, prepared for this purpose: could we perceive the curious contrivance of those little doors, by which it is let in and out, on this side and on that the order and course of its circulation, its most commodious distribution by two social channels or conduit pipes, that every where accompany one another throughout the body: could we discern the curious artifice of the brain, its ways of purgation; and were it possible to pry into the secret chambers and receptacles of the less or more pure spirits there; perceive their manifold conveyances, amid the rare texture of that net, commonly called the wonderful one: could we behold tine veins, arteries, and nerves, all of them arising from their proper and distinct originals; and their orderly dispersion for the most part by pairs, and conjugations, on this side and that, from the middle of the back; with the curiously wrought branches, which, supposing these to appear duly diversified, as so many more duskish strokes in this transparent frame they would be found to make throughout the whole of it; were every smaller fibre thus made at once discernible, especially those innumerable threads into which the spinal marrow is distributed at the bottom of the back: and could we, through the same medium, perceive those numerous little machines made to serve unto voluntary motions, (which in the whole body are computed, by some, to the number of four hundred and thirty, or thereabouts, or so many of them as, according to the present supposition, could possibly come in view,) and discern their composition, their various and elegant figures-round; square, long, triangular, &c, and behold them do their offices, and see how they ply to and fro, and work in their respective places, as any motion is to be performed by them: were all these things, I say, thus made liable to an easy and distinct view, who would not admiringly cry out, How fearfully and wonderfully am I made? And sure there is no man sober, who would not, upon such a sight, pronounce that man mad, that should suppose such a production to have been a mere undesigned casualty. At least, if there be any thing in the world that may be thought to carry sufficiently convincing evidences in it, of its having been made industriously, and on purpose, not by chance, would not this composition, thus offered to view, be esteemed to do so much more? Yea, and if it did only bear upon it characters equally evidential, of wisdom and design, with what doth certainly so, though in the lowest degree, it were sufficient to evince our present purpose. For if one such instance as this would bring the matter no higher than to a bare equality, that would at least argue a maker of man's body, as wise, and as properly designing as the artificer of any such slighter piece of workmanship, that may yet, certainly, be concluded the effect of skill and design. And then, enough might be said, from other instances, to manifest him unspeakably superior. And that the matter would be brought, at least, to an equality upon the supposition now made, there can be no doubt, if any one be judge that hath not abjured his understanding and his eyes together. And what then, if we lay aside that supposition, (which only somewhat gratifies fancy and imagination,) doth that alter the case? Or is there the less of wisdom and contrivance expressed in this work of forming man's body, only for that it is not so easily and suddenly obvious to our sight? Then we might with the same reason say, concerning some curious piece of carved work that is thought fit to be kept locked up in a cabinet, when we see it, that there was admirable workmanship shown in doing it; but as soon as it is again shut up in its repository, that there was none at all. Inasmuch as we speak of the objective characters of wisdom and design, that are in the thing itself, (though they must some way or other come under our notice, otherwise we can be capable of arguing nothing from them, yet,) since we have sufficient assurance that there really are such characters in the structure of the body of man as have been mentioned, and a thousand more than have been thought necessary to be mentioned here; it is plain that the greater or less facility of finding them out, so that we be at a certainty that they are, (whether by the slower, or more gradual search of our own eyes, or by relying upon the testimony of such as have purchased themselves that satisfaction by their own labour and diligence,) is merely accidental to the thing itself we are discoursing of; and neither adds to, nor detracts from the rational evidence of the present argument. Or if it do either, the more abstruse paths of Divine wisdom in this, as in other things, do rather recommend it the more to our adoration and reverence, than if every thing were obvious, and lay open to the first glance of a more careless eye. The things which we are sure (or may be, if we do not shut our eyes) the wise Maker of this world hath done, do sufficiently serve to assure us, that he could have done this also; that is, have made every thing in the frame and shape of our bodies conspicuous in the way but now supposed, if he had thought it fit. He hath done greater things. And since he hath not thought that fit, we may be bold to say, the doing of it would signify more trifling, and less design. It gives us a more amiable and comely representation of the Being we are treating of, that his works are less for ostentation than use; and that his wisdom and other attributes appear in them rather to the instruction of sober, than the gratification of vain minds.
"We may therefore confidently conclude, that the figuration of the human body carries with it as manifest, unquestionable evidences of design, as any piece of human artifice, that most confessedly, in the judgment of any man, doth so; and therefore had as certainly a designing cause. We may challenge the world to show a disparity, unless it be that the advantage is inconceivably great on our side. For would not any one that hath not abandoned both his reason and his modesty, be ashamed to confess and admire the skill that is shown in making a statue, or the picture of a man, that (as one ingeniously says) is but the shadow of his skin, and deny the wisdom that appears in the composure of his body itself, that contains so numerous and so various engines and instruments for sundry purposes in it, as that it is become an art, and a very laudable one, but to discover and find out the art and skill that are shown in the contrivance and formation of them?
"And now if any should be so incurably blind as not to perceive, or so perversely wilful as not to acknowledge, an appearance of wisdom in the frame and figuration of the body of an animal (peculiarly of man) more than equal to what appears in any the most exquisite piece of human artifice, and which no wit of man can ever fully imitate; although, it hath been said, an acknowledged equality would suffice to evince a wise Maker thereof, yet because it is the existence of God we are now speaking of, and that it is therefore not enough to evince, but to magnify the wisdom we would ascribe to him; we shall pass from the parts and frame to the consideration of the more principal powers and functions of terrestrial creatures; ascending from such as agree to the less r per feet order of these, to those of the more perfect, namely, of man him. self. And surely to have been the author of faculties that shall enable to such functions, will evidence a wisdom that defies our imitation, and will dismay the attempts of it.
"We begin with that of growth. Many sorts of rare engines we ac. knowledge contrived by the wit of man, but who hath ever made one that could grow, or that had in it a self-improving power? A tree, an herb, a pile of grass, may upon this account challenge all the world to make such a thing; that is, to implant the power of growing into any thing to which it doth not natively belong, or to make a thing to which it doth.
"By what art would they make a seed? And which way would they inspire it with a seminal form? And they that think this whole globe of the earth was compacted by the casual (or fatal) coalition of particles of matter, by what magic would they conjure up so many to come together as to make one clod? We vainly hunt with a lingering mind after miracles; if we did not more vainly mean by them nothing else but novelties, we are compassed about with such: and the greatest miracle is, that we see them not. You with whom the daily productions of nature (as you call it) are so cheap, see if you can do the like. Try your skill upon a rose. Yea, but you must have pre-existent mat Cr? But can you ever prove the Maker of the world had so, or even defend the possibility of uncreated matter? And suppose they had the free grant of all the matter between the crown of their head and the moon, could they tell what to do with it, or how to manage it, so as to make it yield them one single flower, that they might glory in as their own production?
"And what mortal man, that hath reason enough about him to be serious, and to think awhile, would not even be amazed at the miracle of nutrition? Or that there are things in the world capable of nourishment? Or who would attempt an imitation here, or not despair to perform any thing like it? That is, to make any nourishable thing. Are we not here infinitely outdone? Do we not see ourselves compassed about with wonders, and are we not ourselves such, in that we see, and are creatures, from all whose parts there is a continual defluxion, and yet that receive a constant gradual supply and renovation, by which they are continued in the same state? as the bush burning but not consumed. It is easy to give an artificial frame to a thing that shall gradually decay and waste till it be quite gone, and disappear. You could raise a structure of snow that would soon do that. But can your manual skill compose a thing that, like our bodies, shall be continually melting away, and be continually repaired, through so long a tract of time? Nay, but can you tell how it is done? You know in what method, and by what instruments, food is received, concocted, separated, and so much as must serve for nourishment turned into chyle, and that into blood, first grosser, and then more refined, and that distributed into all parts for this purpose. Yea, and what then? Therefore are you as wise as your Maker? Could you have made such a thing as the stomach, a liver, a heart, a vein, an artery? Or are you so very sure what the digestive quality is? Or if you are, and know what things best serve to maintain, to repair, or strengthen it, who implanted that quality? Both where it is so immediately useful, or in the other things you would use for the service of that? Or how, if such things bad not been prepared to your hand, would you have devised to persuade the particles of matter into so useful and happy a conjuncture, as that such a quality might result? Or (to speak more suitably to the most) how, if you had not been shown the way, would you have thought it were to be done, or which way would you have gone to work, to turn meat and drink into flesh and blood?
"And what shall we say of spontaneous motion, wherewith we find also creatures endowed that are so mean and despicable in our eyes, (as well as ourselves,) that is, that so silly a thing as a fly, a gnat, &c, should have a power in it to move itself, or stop its own motion, at its own pleasure? How far have all attempted imitations in this kind fallen short of this perfection! And how much more excellent a thing is the smallest and most contemptible insect, than the most admired machine we ever heard or read of; (as Architas Tarentinus's dove so anciently celebrated, or more lately Regiomontanus's fly, or his eagle, or any the like;) not only as having this peculiar power, above any thing of this sort, but as having the sundry other powers beside, meeting in it, whereof these are wholly destitute?
"And should we go on to instance farther in the several powers of sensation, both external and internal, the various instincts, appetitions, passions, sympathies, antipathies, the powers of memory, (and we might add of speech,) that we find the inferior orders of creatures either gene. rally furnished with, or some of them, as to this last, disposed unto; how should we even overdo the present business; and too needlessly insult over human wit, (which we must suppose to have already yielded the Cause,) in challenging it to produce and offer to view a hearing, seeing engine, that can imagine, talk, is capable of hunger, thirst, of desire, anger, fear, grief, &c, as its own creature, concerning which it may glory and say, I have done this!
"Is it so admirable a performance, and so ungainsayable an evidence of skill and wisdom, with much labour and long travail of mind; a busy, restless agitation of working thoughts; the often renewal of frustrated attempts the varying of defeated trials, this way and that, at length to hit upon, and by much pains, and with a slow, gradual progress, by the use of who can tell how many sundry sorts of instruments or tools, by long hewing, hammering, turning, filing, to compose one only single machine of such a frame and structure as that by the frequent reinforcement of a skilful hand, it may be capable of some (and that other. wise but a very short-lived) motion? And is it no argument, or effect of wisdom, so easily and certainly, without labour, error, or disappointment, to frame both so infinite a variety of kinds, and so innumerable individuals of every such kind of living creatures, that not only with the greatest facility can move themselves with so many sorts of motion downward, upward, to and fro, this way or that, with a progressive or circular, a swifter or a slower motion, at their own pleasure; but can also grow, propagate, see, hear, desire, joy, &c? Is this no work of wisdom, but only either blind fate or chance? Of how strangely perverse and odd a complexion is that understanding, (if yet it may be called an understanding ) that can make this judgment?
"But because whatsoever comes under the name of cogitation, properly taken, is assigned to some higher cause than mechanism; and that there are operations belonging to man, which lay claim to a reasonable soul, as the immediate principle and author of them, we have yet this farther step to advance, that is, to consider the most apparent evidence we have of a wise, designing agent, in the powers and nature of this more excellent, and, among other things, more obvious to our notice, the noblest of his productions.
"And were it not for the slothful neglect of the most to study them selves, we should not have need to recount unto men the common and well-known abilities and excellencies which peculiarly belong to their own nature. They might take notice, without being told, that first, as to their intellectual faculty, they have somewhat about them that can think, understand, frame notions of things; that can rectify or supply the false or defective representations which are made to them by their external senses and fancies; that can conceive of things far above the reach and sphere of sense, the moral good or evil of actions or inclinations, and what there is in them of rectitude or pravity; whereby they can animadvert, and cast their eye inward upon themselves; observe the good or evil acts or inclinations, the knowledge, ignorance, dulness, vigour, tranquillity, trouble, and generally, time perfections or imperfections of their own minds; that can apprehend the general natures of things, the future existence of what yet is not, with the future appearance of that which, to us, as yet, appears not.
"They may take notice of their power of comparing things, of discerning and making a judgment of their agreements and disagreements their proportions and dispositions to one another; of affirming or denying this or that, concerning such or such things; and of pronouncing, with more or less confidence, concerning the truth or falsehood of such affirmations or negations.
"And moreover, of their power of arguing, and inferring one thing from another, so as from one plain and evident principle to draw forth a long chain of consequences, that may be discerned to be linked therewith.
"They have withal to consider the liberty and the large capacity of the human will, which, when it is itself, rejects the dominion of any other than the supreme Lord's, and refuses satisfaction in any other than the supreme and most comprehensive good.
"And upon even so hasty and transient a view of a thing furnished with such powers and faculties, we have sufficient occasion to bethink ourselves, How came such a thing as this into being; whence did it spring, or to what original doth it owe itself? More particularly we have here two things to be remembered-That, notwithstanding so high excellencies, the soul of man doth yet appear to be a caused being, that some time had a beginning-That by them it is sufficiently evident, that it owes itself to a wise and intelligent cause."
The instance of a watch, chosen by Howe for the illustration of his argument, that evidences of design, in any production, are evidences of a designing cause; is thus strikingly amplified and applied by Paley to refute the leading Atheistic theories :-" The mechanism of the watch being once observed and understood, the inference, we think, is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker; that there must have existed, at some time and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction and designed its use.
"Nor would it, I apprehend, weaken the conclusion, that we had never seen a watch made; that we had never known an artist capable of making one; that we were altogether incapable of executing such a piece of workmanship ourselves, or of understanding in what manner it was performed: all this being no more than what is true of some exquisite remains of ancient art, of some lost arts, and, to the generality of mankind, of the more curious productions of modern manufacture. Does one man in a million know how oval frames are turned? Ignorance of this kind exalts our opinion of the unseen and unknown artist's skill, if he be Unseen and unknown, but raises no doubt in our minds of the existence and agency of such an artist, at some former time, and in some place or other. Nor can I perceive that it varies at all the inference, whether the question arise concerning a human agent, or concerning an agent of a different species, or an agent possessing, in some respects, a different nature.
"Neither, secondly, would it invalidate our conclusion, that the watch sometimes went wrong, or that it seldom went exactly right. The purpose of the machinery, the design, and the designer, might be evident, and in the case supposed would be evident, in whatever way we accounted for the irregularity of the movement, or whether we could account for it or not. It is not necessary that a machine be perfect, in order to show with what design it was made: still less necessary, where the only question is, whether it were made with any design at all.
"Nor, thirdly, would it bring any uncertainty into the argument, if there were a few parts of the watch, concerning which we could not discover, or had not yet discovered in what manner they conduced to the general effect; or even some parts concerning which we could not ascertain, whether they conduced to that effect in any manner whatever, For, as to the first branch of the case, if', by the loss or disorder, or decay of the parts in question, the movement of the watch were found in fact to be stopped, or disturbed, or retarded, no doubt would remain in our minds as to the utility or intention of these parts, although we should be unable to investigate the manner according to which or the connection by which, the ultimate effect depended upon their action or assistance; and the more complex is the machine, the more likely is this obscurity to arise. Then, as to the second thing supposed, namely, that there were parts which might be spared without prejudice to the movement of the watch, and that we had proved this by experiment,-these superfluos parts, even if we were completely assured that they were such, would not vacate the reasoning which we had instituted concerning other parts. The indication of contrivance remained, with respect to them, nearly as it was before.
"Nor, fourthly, would any man in his senses think the existence of the watch, with its various machinery, accounted for by being told that it was one out of possible combinations of material forms; that whatever be had found, in the place where he had found the watch, must have contained some internal configuration or other; and that this configuration might be the structure now exhibited, namely, of the works of a watch, as well as a different structure.
"Nor, fifthly, would it yield his inquiry more satisfaction to be answered, that there existed in things a principle of order, which had disposed the parts of the watch into their present form and situation. He never knew a watch made by the principle of order; nor can he even form to himself an idea of what is meant by a principle of order, distinct from the intelligence of the watchmaker.
"Sixthly, be would be surprised to hear, that the mechanism of the watch was no proof of contrivance, only a motive to induce the mind to think so.
"And not less surprised to be informed, that the watch in his band was nothing more than the result of the laws of metallic nature. It is a perversion of language to assign any law, as the efficient, operative cause of any thing. A law presupposes an agent; for it is only the mode according to which an agent proceeds: it implies a power; for it is the order according to which that power acts. Without this agent, without this power, which are both distinct from itself, the law does nothing,-is nothing. The expression 'the law of metallic nature,' may sound strange and harsh to a philosophic ear, but it seems quite as justifiable as some others which are more familiar to him, such as 'the law of vegetable nature,' 'the law of animal nature,' or indeed as 'the law of nature' in general, when assigned as the cause of phenomena, in exclusion of agency and power; or when it is substituted into the place of these.
"Neither, lastly, would our observer be driven out of his conclusion, or from his confidence in its truth, by being told that he knew nothing at all about the matter. He knows enough for his argument; he knows the utility of the end; he knows the subserviency and adaptation of the means to the end. These points being known, his ignorance of other points, his doubts concerning other points, affect not the certainty of his reasoning. The consciousness of knowing little need not beget a distrust of that which he does know.
"Suppose, in the next place, that the person who found the watch should, after sometime, discover that, in addition to all the properties which he had hitherto observed in it, it possessed the unexpected property of producing, in the course of its movement, another watch like itself; (the thing is conceivable;) that it contained within it a mechanism, a system of parts, a mould, for instance, or a complex adjustment of lathes, files, and other tools, evidently and separately calculated for this purpose; let us inquire what effect ought such a discovery to have upon his former conclusion.
"The first effect would be to increase his admiration of the contrivance, and his conviction of the consummate skill of the contriver. Whether he regarded the object of the contrivance, the distinct apparatus, the intricate, yet in many parts intelligible, mechanism, by which it was carried on, he would perceive in this new observation, nothing but an additional reason for doing what he had already done; for referring the construction of the watch to design and to supreme art. If that construction without this property, or, which is the same thing, before this property had been noticed, proved intention and art to have been employed about it; still more strong would the proof appear, when he came to the knowledge of this farther property, the crown and perfection of all the rest.
"He would reflect, that though the watch before him were, in some sense, the maker of the watch which was fabricated in the course of its movements, yet it was in a very different sense from that in which a carpenter, for instance, is the maker of a chair; the author of its contrivance, the cause of the relation of its parts to their use. With respect to these, the first watch was no cause at all to the second; in no such sense as this was it the author of the constitution and order, either of the parts which the new watch contained, or of the parts by the aid and instrumentality of which it was produced. We might possibly say, but with great latitude of expression, that a stream of water ground corn: but no latitude of expression would allow us to say, no stretch of conjecture could lead us to think, that the stream of water built the mill, though it were too ancient for us to know who the builder was. What the stream of water does in the affair is neither more nor less than this: by the application of an unintelligent impulse to a mechanism previously, arranged, arranged independently of it, and arranged by intelligence, an effect is produced, namely, the corn is ground. But the effect results from the arrangement. The force of the stream cannot be said to be, the cause or author of the effect, still less of the arrangement. under standing and plan in the formation of the mill were not the less necessary for any share which the water has in grinding the corn: yet is this share, the same as that which the watch would have contributed to the production of the new watch, upon the supposition assumed in the last section. Therefore,
"Though it be now no longer probable, that the individual watch which our observer had found, was made immediately by the hand of an artificer, yet doth not this alteration in any wise affect the inference, that an artificer had been orginally employed and concerned in the production. The argument from design remains as it was. Marks of design and contrivance are no more accounted for now than they were, before. In the same thing. we may ask for the cause of different properties. We may ask for the cause of the colour of a body, of its hard-; ness, of its heat; and these causes may be all different. We are now asking for the cause of that subserviency to a use, that relation to an end which we have marked in the watch before us. No answer is given to this question by telling us that a preceding watch produced it. There cannot be design without a designer; contrivance without a contriver; order without choice; arrangement without any thing capable of arranging; subserviency and relation to a purpose, without that which would intend a purpose; means suitable to an end, and executing their office in accomplishing that end, without the end ever having been contemplated, or the means accommodated to it. Arrangement, disposition of parts, subserviency of means to an end, relation of instruments to a use, imply the presence of intelligence and mind. No one, therefore,, can rationally believe, that the insensible, inanimate watch, from which the watch before us issued, was the proper cause of the mechanism we so much admire in it; could be truly said to have constructed the instrument, disposed its parts, assigned their office, determined their order, action, and mutual dependency, combined their several motions into one result, and that also a result connected with the utilities of other beings. All these properties, therefore, are as much unaccounted for as they were before.
"Nor is any thing gained by running the difficulty farther back, that is, by supposing the watch before us to have been produced from another watch, that from a former, and so on indefinitely. Our going back ever so far brings us no nearer to the least degree of satisfaction upon the subject. Contrivance is still unaccounted for. We still want a contriver. A designing mind is neither supplied by this supposition, nor dispensed with. If the difficulty were diminished the farther we went back, by going back indefinitely we might exhaust it. And this is the only case to which this sort of reasoning applies. Where there is a tendency, or, as we increase the number of terms, a continual approach toward a limit, there, by supposing the number of terms to be what is called infinite, we may conceive the limit to be attained: but where there is no such tendency or approach, nothing is effected by lengthening the series. There is no difference as to the point in question, (whatever there may be as to many points,) between one series and another; between a series which is finite, and a series which is infinite. A chain composed of an infinite number of links, can no more support itself, than a chain composed of a finite number of links. And of this we are assured, (though we never can have tried the experiment,) because, by increasing the number of links, from ten, for instance, to a hundred, from a hundred to a thousand, &c, we make not the smallest approach, we observe not the smallest tendency toward self support. There is no difference in this respect (yet there may be a great difference in several respects) between a chain of a greater or less length, between one chain and another, between one that is finite and one that is infinite. This very much resembles the case before us. The machine, which we are inspecting, demonstrates, by its construction, contrivance, and design. Contrivance must have had a contriver; design a designer, whether the machine immediately proceeded from another machine or not. That Circumstance alters not the case. That other machine may, in like manner, have proceeded from a former machine: nor does that alter the case: contrivance must have had a contriver. That former one from one preceding it: no alteration still: a contriver is still necessary. No tendency is perceived, no approach toward a diminution of this necessity. it is the same with any and every succession of these machines; a succession often, of a hundred, of a thousand; with one series as with another a series which is finite as with a series which is infinite. In whatever Other respects they may differ, in this they do not. In all equally, contrivance and design are unaccounted for.
"The question is not simply, How came the first watch into existence? which question, it may be pretended, is done away by supposing the series of watches thus produced from one another to have been infinite, and consequently to have had no such first, for which it was necessary to provide a cause. This perhaps would have been nearly the state of the question, if nothing had been before us but an unorganized, unmechanized substance, without mark or indication of contrivance. It might be difficult to show that such substance could not have existed from eternity, either in succession, (if it were possible, which I think it is not, for unorganized bodies to spring from one another,) or by individual perpetuity. But that is not the question now. To suppose it to be so, is to suppose that it made no difference whether we had found a watch or a stone. As it is, the metaphysics of that question have no place; for in the watch which we are examining, are seen contrivance,~ design; an end, a purpose; means for the end, adaptation to the purpose. And the question, which irresistibly presses upon our thoughts, is, whence this contrivance and design'? The thing required is the in tending mind, the adapting hand, the intelligence by which that hand was directed. This question, this demand, is not shaken off, by increasing a number or succession of substances, destitute of these properties; nor the more by increasing that number to infinity. If it be said, that, upon the supposition of one watch being produced from another in the course of that other's movements, and by means of the mechanism~ within it, we have a cause for the watch in my hand, viz. the watch from which it proceeded, I deny, that for the design, the contrivance~ the suitableness of means to an end, the adaptation of instruments to a use, (all which we discover in the watch,) we have any cause whatever. It is in vain, therefore, to assign a series of such causes, or to allege that a series may be carried back to infinity; for I do not admit that we have yet any cause at all of the phenomena, still less any series of causes either finite or infinite. Here is contrivance, but no contriver; proofs of design, but no designer.
"Our observer would farther also reflect, that the maker of the watch before him was, in truth and reality, the maker of every watch produced from it; there being no difference (except that the latter manifests a more exquisite skills between the making of another watch with his own hands, by the mediation of files, lathes, chisels, &c, and the disposing, fixing, and inserting of these instruments, or of others equivalent to them, in the body of the watch already made, in such a manner, as to form a new watch in the course of the movements which he had given to the old one. It is only working by one set of tools instead of another.
"The conclusion which the first examination of the watch, of its works, construction and movement, suggested, was, that it must have had, for the cause and author of that construction, an artificer, who understood its mechanism, and designed its use. This conclusion is invincible. A second examination presents us with a new discovery. The watch is found, in the course of its movement, to produce another watch, similar to itself: and not only so, but we perceive in it a system of organization, separately calculated for that purpose. What effect would this discovery have, or ought it to have, upon our former inference? What, as bath already been said, but to increase, beyond measure, our admiration of the skill, which had been employed in the formation of such a machine? Or shall it, instead of this, all at once turn us round to an opposite conclusion, viz, that no art or skill whatever has been concerned in the business, although all other evidences of art and skill remain as they were, and this last and supreme piece of art be now added to the rest? Can this be maintained without absurdity? Yet this is Atheism."
If the argument is so powerful, when a work of art merely is made its basis; it is rendered much more convincing when it is transferred to the works of nature; because ends more singular are, in an infinite number of instances, there proposed, and are accomplished by contri. vances much more curious and difficult. In the quotation above given from Howe, the eye, the parts of the body which are double, and the construction of the spine, are adduced among others as striking in. stances of a contrivance superior to the art of man, and as evidently denoting forethought and plan, the attributes not of intelligence only, but of an intelligence of an infinitely superior order. These instances have been admirably wrought up by the master hand which furnished the last quotation.
We begin with the human eye.
"The contrivances of nature surpass the contrivances of art, in the complexity, subtilty, and curiosity of the mechanism; and still more, if possible, do they go beyond them in number and variety; yet in a multitude of cases, are not less evidently mechanical, not less evidently contrivances, not less evidently accommodated to their end, or suited to their office, than are the most perfect productions of human ingenuity.
"I know no better method of introducing so large a subject, than that of comparing a single thing with a single thing; an eye, for example, with a telescope. As far as the examination of the instrument goes, there is precisely the same proof that the eye was made for vision, as there is that the telescope was made for assisting it. They are made upon the same principles; both being adjusted to the laws by which the transmission and refraction of rays of light are regulated. I speak not of the origin of the laws themselves; but such laws being fixed, the construction, in both cases, is adapted to them. For instance; these laws require, in order to produce the same effect, that the rays of light, in passing from water into the eye, should be refracted by a more convex surface than when it passes out of air into the eye. Accordingly We find, that the eye of a fish, in that part of it called the crystalline lens, is much rounder than the eye of terrestrial animals. What plainer manifestation of design can there be than this difference? What could a mathematical instrument maker have done more, to show his knowledge of his principle, his application of that knowledge, his suiting of his means to his end; I will not say, to display the compass or excellency of his skill and art, for in these all comparison is indecorous, but to testify counsel, choice, consideration, purpose?
"To some it may appear a difference sufficient to destroy all similitude between the eye and the telescope, that the one is a perceiving organ, the other an unperceiving instrument. The fact is, that they are both instruments. And, as to the mechanism, at least as to mechanism being employed, and even as to the kind of it, this circumstance varies not the analogy at all: for observe, what the constitution of the eye is. It is necessary, in order to distinct vision, that an, image or picture of the object be formed at the bottom of the eye. Whence this necessity arises, or how the picture is connected with the sensation, or contributes to it, it may be difficult, nay, we will confess if you please, impossible for us to search out. But the present question is not concerned in the inquiry. It may be true, that, in this, and in other instances, we trace mechanical contrivance a certain way; and that then we come to something which is not mechanical, or which is inscrutable. But this affects not the certainty of our investigation, as far as we have gone. The difference between an animal and an automatic statue, consists in this,-that in the animal, we trace the mechanism to a certain point, and then we are stopped; either the mechanism becoming too subtile for our discernment, or something else beside the known laws of mechanism taking place; whereas, in the automaton, for the comparatively few motions of which it is capable, we trace the mechanism throughout. But, up to the limit, the reasoning is as clear and certain in the one case as the other. In the example before us, it is a matter of certainty, because it is a matter which experience and observation demonstrate, that the formation of an image at the bottom of the eye is necessary to perfect vision. The image itself can be shown. Whatever affects the distinctness of the image, affects the distinctness of the vision. The formation then of such an image being necessary (no matter how) to the sense of sight, and to the exercise of that sense, the apparatus by which it is formed is constructed and put together, not only with infinitely more art, but upon the self-same principles of art, as in the telescope or camera obscura. The perception arising from the image may be laid out of the question; for the production of the image, these are instruments of the same kind. The end is the same; the means are the same. The purpose in both is alike; the contrivance for accomplishing that purpose is in both alike. The lenses of the telescope, and the humours of the eye, bear a complete resemblance to one another, in their figure, their position, and in their power over the rays of light, viz. in bringing each pencil to a point at the right distance from the lens; namely, in the eye, at the exact place where the membrane is spread to receive it. How is it possible, under circumstances of such close affinity, and under the operation of an equal evidence, to exclude contrivance from the one; yet to acknowledge the proof of contrivance having been employed, as the plainest and clearest of all propositions in the other?
"The resemblance between the two cases is still more accurate, and obtains in more points than we have yet represented, or than we are, on the first view of the subject, aware of. In dioptric telescopes there is an imperfection of this nature. Pencils of light, in passing through glass lenses, are separated into different colours, thereby tinging the object, especially the edges of it, as if it were viewed through a prism. To correct this inconvenience had been long a desideratum in the art. At last it came into the mind of a sagacious optician, to inquire how this matter was managed in the eye; in which there was exactly the same difficulty to contend with as in the telescope. His observation taught him, that, in the eye, the evil was cured by combining together lenses composed of different substances, i.e. of substances which possessed different refracting powers. Our artist borrowed from thence his hint; and produced a correction of the defect by imitating, in glasses made from different materials, the effects of the different humours through which the rays of light pass before they reach the bottom of the eye. Could this be in the eye without purpose, which suggested to the optician the only effectual means of attaining that purpose?
But farther; there are other points, not so much perhaps of strict resemblance between the two, as of superiority of the eye over the telescope; yet of a superiority, which, being founded in the laws that regulate both, may furnish topics of fair and just comparison. Two things were wanted to the eye, which were not wanted, at least in the same degree, to the telescope; and these were, the adaptation of the organ, first, to different degrees of light; and secondly, to the vast diversity of distance at which objects are viewed by the naked eye, viz, from a few inches to as many miles. These difficulties present not themselves to the maker of the telescope. He wants all the light he can get; and he never directs his instrument to objects near at hand. In the eye, both these cases were to be provided for; and for the purpose of providing for them a subtile and appropriate mechanism is introduced.
"In order to exclude excess of light, when it is excessive, and to render objects visible under obscurer degrees of it, when no more can be had, the hole or aperture in the eye, through which the light enters, is so formed, as to contract or dilate itself for the purpose of admitting: a greater or less number of rays at the same time. The chamber of the eye is a camera obscura, which, when the light is too small, can enlarge its opening; when too strong, can again contract it; and that without any other assistance than that of its own exquisite machinery. It is farther also, in the human subject, to be observed, that this hole in the eye, which we call the pupil, under all its different dimensions, retains its exact circular shape. This is a structure extremely artificial. Let an artist only try to execute the same. He will find that his threads and strings must be disposed with great consideration and contrivance, to make a circle, which shall continually change its diameter, yet pre serve its form. This is done in the eye by an application of fibres, i.e. of strings, similar, in their position and action, to what an artist would and must employ, if he had the same piece of workmanship to perform.
"The second difficulty which has been stated, was the suiting of the same organ to the perception of objects that lie near at hand, within a few inches, we will suppose, of the eye, and of objects which were place at a considerable distance from it, that, for example, of as many furlongs: (I speak in both cases of the distance at which distinct can be exercised.) Now this, according to the principles of optics, is, according to the laws by which the transmission of light is regulated (and these laws are fixed,) could not be done without the organ itself undergoing an alteration, and receiving an adjustment that might correspond with the exigency of the case, that is to say, with the different inclination to one another under which the rays of light reached it. Rays issuing from points placed at a small distance from the eye, and which consequently must enter the eye in a spreading or diverging order, cannot, by the same optical instrument in the same state, be brought to a point, i. e. be made to form an image, in the same place with rays proceeding from objects situated at a much greater distance, and which rays arrive at the eye in directions nearly, and physically speaking, parallel. It requires a rounder lens to do it. The point of concourse behind the lens must fall critically upon the retina, or the vision is confused; yet, other things remaining the same, this point, by the immutable properties of light, is carried farther back, when the rays proceed from a near object, than when they are sent from one that is remote. A person who was using an optical instrument, would manage this matter by changing, as the occasion required, his lens or his telescope; or by adjusting the distances of his glasses with his hand, or his screw: but how is it to be managed in the eye? What the alteration was, or in what part of the eye it took place, or by what means it was effected, (for, if the known laws which govern the refraction of light be maintained, some alteration in the state of the organ there must be,) had long formed a subject of inquiry and conjecture. The change, though sufficient for the purpose, is so minute as to elude ordinary observation. Some very late discoveries, deduced from a laborious and most accurate inspection of the structure and operation of the organ, seem at length to have ascertained the mechanical alteration which the parts of the eye undergo. It is found, that by the action of certain muscles, called the straight muscles, and which action is the most advantageous that could be imagined for the purpose,-it is found, I say, that, whenever the eye is directed to a near object, three changes are produced in it at the same time, all severally contributing to the adjustment required. The cornea, or outermost coat of the eye, is rendered more round and prominent; the crystalline lens underneath is pushed forward; and the axis of vision, as the depth of the eye is called, is elongated. These changes in the eye vary its power over the rays of light in such a manner and degree as to produce exactly the effect which is wanted, viz. the formation of an image upon the retina, whether the rays come to the eye in a state of divergency, which is the case when the object is near to the eye, or come parallel to one another, which is the case when the object is placed at a distance. Can any thing be more decisive of contrivance than this is? The most secret laws of optics must have been known to the author of a structure endowed with such a capacity of change. It is, as though an optician, when he had a nearer object to view, should rectify his instrument by putting in another glass, at the same time drawing out also his tube to a different length.
"In considering vision as achieved by the means of an image formed at the bottom of the eye, we can never reflect without wonder upon the smallness, yet correctness, of the picture, the subtilty of the touch, the fineness of the lines. A landscape of five or six square leagues is brought into a space of half an inch diameter; yet the multitude of objects which it contains are all preserved; are all discriminated in their magnitudes, positions, figures, colours. The prospect from Hampstead hill is compressed into the compass of a sixpence, yet circumstantially represented. A stage coach travelling at its ordinary speed for half an hour, passes in the eye, only over one twelfth of an inch, yet is this change of place in the image distinctly perceived throughout its whole progress; for it is only by means of that perception that the motion of the coach itself is made sensible to the eye. If any thing can abate our admiration of the smallness of the visual tablet compared with the extent of vision, it is a reflection which the view of nature leads us, every hour, to make, viz, that in the hands of the Creator, great and little are nothing."
On the parts of the body which are double, adduced by Howe, as proofs of contrivance, our author farther remarks:--
"The human, or indeed the animal frame, considered as a mass or assemblage, exhibits in its composition three properties, which have long struck my mind, as indubitable evidences, not only of design, but of a great deal of attention and accuracy in prosecuting the design.
"The first is, the exact correspondency of the two sides of the same animal: the right band answering to the left, leg to leg, eye to eye, one side of the countenance to the other; and with a precision, to imitate which, in any tolerable degree, forms one of the difficulties of statuary, and requires, on the part of the artist, a constant attention to this property of his work, distinct from every other.
"It is the most difficult thing that can be, to get a wig made even1 yet how seldom is the face awry? And what care is taken that it should not be so, the anatomy of its bones demonstrates. The upper part of the face is composed of thirteen bones, six on each side, answering each to each, and the thirteenth without a fellow, in the middle; the lowest part of the face is in like manner composed of six bones, three on each side, respectively corresponding, and the Lower jaw in the centre. In building an arch, could more be done in order to make the curve true, i. e. the parts equidistant from the middle, alike in figure and position?
"The exact resemblance of the eyes, considering how compounded this organ is in its structure, how various and how delicate are the shades of colour with which its iris is tinged, how differently, as to effect upon appearance, the eye may be mounted in its socket, and how differently in different heads eyes actually are set, is a property of animal bodies much to be admired. Of ten thousand eyes, I don't know that it would be possible to match one, except with its own fellow; or to distribute them into suitable pairs by any other selection than that which obtains.
"The next circumstance to be remarked is, that while the cavities of the body are so configurated, as, externally, to exhibit the most exact correspondency of the opposite sides, the contents of these cavities have no such correspondency. A line drawn down the middle of the breast divides the thorax into two sides exactly similar; yet these two sides inclose very different contents. The heart lies on the left side; a lobe of the lungs on the right; balancing each other, neither in size nor shape. The same thing holds of the abdomen. The liver lies on the right side, without any similar viscus opposed to it on the left. The spleen indeed is situated over against the liver; but agreeing with the liver neither in bulk nor form. There is no equipollencv between these. The stomach is a vessel, both irregular in its shape, and oblique in its position. The foldings and doublings of the intestines do not pre. sent a parity of sides. Yet that symmetry which depends upon the correlation of the sides, is externally preserved throughout the whole trunk; and is the more remarkable in the lower parts of it, as the integuments are soft; and the shape, consequently, is not, as the thorax is by its ribs, reduced by natural stays. It is evident, therefore, that the external proportion does not arise from any equality in the shape or pressure of the internal contents. What is it indeed but a correction of inequalities? an adjustment, by mutual compensation, of anomalous forms into a regular congeries? the effect, in a word, of artful, and, if we might be permitted so to speak, of studied collocation?
"Similar also to this is the third observation; that an internal inequality in the feeding vessels is so managed, as to produce no inequality in parts which were intended to correspond. The right arm answers accurately to the left, both in size and shape; but the arterial branches, which supply the two arms, do not go off from their trunk, in a pair, in the same manner, at the same place, or at the same angle. Under which want of similitude, it is very difficult to conceive how the same quantity of blood should be pushed through each artery; yet the result is right; the two limbs which are nourished by them perceive no difference of supply, no effects of excess or deficiency.
"Concerning the difference of manner, in which the subclavian and carotid arteries, upon the different sides of the body, separate themselves from the aorta, Cheselden seems to have thought, that the advantage which the left gain by going off at a much acuter angle than the right, is made up to the right by their going off together in one branch. It is very possible that this may be the compensating contrivance; and if it be so, how curious, how hydrostatical!"
The construction of the spine, another of Howe's illustrations, is thus exemplified:- "The spine or back bone is a chain of joints of very wonderful construction. Various, difficult, and almost inconsistent offices were to be executed by the same instrument. It was to be firm, yet flexible: now I know of no chain made by art, which is both these; for by firmness I mean, not only strength, but stability; firm, to support the erect position of the body; flexible, to allow of the bending of the trunk in all degrees of curvature. It was farther also, which is another, and quite a distinct purpose from the rest, to become a pipe or conduit for the safe conveyance from the brain of the most important fluid of the animal frame, that, namely, upon which all voluntary motion depends, the spinal marrow; a substance, not only of the first necessity to action, if not to life, but of a nature so delicate and tender, so susceptible, and so impatient of injury, as that any unusual pressure upon it, or any considerable obstruction of its course, is followed by paralysis or death. Now the spine was not only to furnish the main trunk for the passage of the medullary substance from the brain, but to give out, in the course of its progress, small pipes therefrom, which being afterward indefinitely subdivided, might, under the name of nerves, distribute this exquisite supply to every part of the body. The same spine was also to serve another use not less wanted than the preceding, viz, to afford a fulcrum, stay, or basis, (or, more properly speaking, a series of these,) for the insertion of the muscles which are spread over the trunk of the body; in which trunk there are not, as in the limbs, cylindrical bones, to which they can be fastened: and, likewise, which is a similar use, to furnish a support for the ends of the ribs to rest upon.
"Bespeak of a workman a piece of mechanism which shall comprise all these purposes, and let him set about to contrive it; let him try his skill upon it; let him feel the difficulty of accomplishing the task, before he be told how the same thing is effected in the animal frame. Nothing will enable him to judge so well of the wisdom which has been employed; nothing will dispose him to think of it so truly. First, for the firmness, yet flexibility of the spine, it is composed of a great number of bones (in the human subject of twenty-four) joined to one another and compacted together by broad bases. The breadth of the bases upon which the parts severally rest, and the closeness of the junction, give to the chain its firmness and stability; the number of parts, and consequent frequency of joints, its flexibility. Which flexibility, we may also observe, varies in different parts of the chain; is least in the back, where strength more than flexure is wanted; greater in the loins, which it was necessary should be more supple than the back; and the greatest of all in the neck, for the free motion of the head. Then, secondly, in order to afford a passage for the descent of the medullary substance, each of these bones is bored through in the middle in such a manner, as that, when put together, the hole in one bone falls into a line, and corresponds with the holes in the two bones contiguous to it. By which means, the perforated pieces, when joined, form &n entire, close, uninterrupted channel; at least, while the spine is upright and at rest. But,' as a settled posture is inconsistent with its use, a great difficulty still remained, which was to prevent the vertebrae shifting upon one another, so as to break the line of the canal as often as the body moves or twists; or the joints gaping externally, whenever the body is bent forward, and the spine thereupon made to take the form of a bow. These dangers, which are mechanical, are mechanically provided against. The vertebrae, by means of their processes and projections, and of the articulations which some of these form with one another at their extremities, are so locked in, and confined as to maintain in what are called the bodies, or broad surfaces of the bones, the relative position nearly unaltered; and to throw the change and the pressure produced by flexion, almost entirely upon the intervening cartilages, the springiness and yielding nature of whose substance admits of all the motion which is necessary to be performed upon them, without any chasm being produced by a separation of the parts. I say of all the motion which is necessary; for although we bend our backs to every degree almost of inclination, the motion of each vertebra is very small; such is the advantage which we receive from the chain being composed of so many links, the spine of so many bones. Had it consisted of three or four bones only, in bending the body the spinal marrow must have been bruised at every angle. The reader need not be told that these intervening cartilages are gristles; and he may see them in perfection in a loin of veal. Their form also favours the same intention. They are thicker before than behind; so that, when we stoop forward, the compressible substance of the cartilage, yielding in its thicker and anterior part to the force which squeezes it, brings the surfaces of the adjoining vertebrae nearer to the being parallel with one another than they were before, instead of increasing the inclination of their planes, which must have occasioned a fissure, or opening between them. Thirdly, for the medulary canal giving out in its course, and in a convenient order, a supply of nerves to different parts of time body, notches are made in the upper and lower edge of every vertebra; two on each edge; equidistant on each side from the middle line of the back. When the vertebrae are put together, these notches, exactly fitting, form small holes, through which the nerves, at each articulation, issue out in pairs, in order to send their branches to every part of the body, and with an equal bounty to both sides of the body. The fourth purpose assigned to the same instrument, is the insertion of the bases of the muscles, and the support of the ends of time ribs; and for this fourth purpose, especially the former part of it, a figure, specifically suited to the design, and unnecessary for the other purposes, is given to the constituent bones. While they are plain, and round, and smooth, toward the front, where an roughness or projection might have wounded the adjacent viscera, they run out, behind, and on each side, into long processes, to which processes the muscles necessary to the motions of the trunk are fixed; and fixed with such art, that while the vertebrae supply a basis for tine muscles, the muscles help to keep these bones in their position, or by their tendons to tie them together.
"That most important, however, and general property, viz, the strength of the compages, and the security against luxation, was to be still more specially consulted; for where so many joints were concerned, and where, in every one, derangement would have been fatal, it became a subject of studious precaution. For this purpose, the vertebrae are articulated, that is, the movable joints between them are formed by means of those projections of their substance, which we have mentioned under the name of processes; and these so lock in with, and overwrap one another, as to secure the body of the vertebra, not only from accidentally slipping, but even from being pushed out of its place by any violence short of that which would break the bone."
Instances of design and wonderful contrivance are as numerous as there are organized bodies in nature, and as there are relations between bodies which are not organized. The subject is, therefore, inexhaustible. The cases stated are sufficient for the illustration of this species of argument for the existence of an intelligent First Cause. Many others are given with great force and interest in the Natural Theology of Paley, from which the above quotations have been made; but his chapter on the Personality of the Deity contains applications of the argument from design, too important to be overlooked. The same course of reasoning may be traced in many other writers, but by none has it been expressed with so much clearness and felicity.
Contrivance, if established, appears to me to prove every thing which we wish to prove. Among other things it proves the personality of the Deity, as distinguished from what is sometimes called nature, sometimes called a principle; which terms, in the mouths of those who use them philosophically, seem to be intended, to admit and to express an efficacy, but to exclude and to deny a personal agent. Now that which can contrive, which can design, must be a person. These capacities constitute personality, for they imply consciousness and thought. The require that which can perceive an end or purpose; as well as the power of providing means, and of directing them to their end. They require a centre in which perceptions unite, and from which volitions flow; which is mind. The acts of a mind prove the existence of a mind ; and in whatever a mind resides, is a person.
"Of this we are certain, that, whatever the Deity be, neither the universe, nor any part of it which we see, can be he. The universe. itself is merely a collective name: its parts are all which are real, or which are things. Now inert matter is out of the question; and organized substances include marks of contrivance. But whatever includes marks of contrivance, whatever, in its constitution, testifies design, necessarily carries us to something beyond itself', to some other being, to a designer prior to, and out of itself. No animal, for instance, can have contrived its own limbs and senses; can have been the author to itself of the design with which they were constructed. That supposition involves all the absurdity of self creation, i.e. of acting without existing. Nothing can be God which is ordered by a wisdom and a will which itself is void of; which is indebted for any of its properties to contrivance ab extra. The not having that in his nature which requires the exertion of another prior being, (which property is sometimes called self sufficiency, and sometimes self comprehension,) appertains to the Deity, as his essential distinction, and removes his nature from that of all things which we see. Which consideration contains the answer to a question that has sometimes been asked, namely, Why, since something or other must have existed from eternity, may not the present universe be that something? The contrivance perceived in it, proves that to be impossible. Nothing contrived can, in a strict and proper sense, be eternal, forasmuch as the contriver must have existed before the contrivance.
"We have already noticed, and we must here notice again, the misapplication of the term 'law,' and the mistake concerning the idea which that term expresses in physics, whenever such idea is made to take the place of power, and still more of an intelligent power, and, as such, to be assigned fore the cause of any thing, or of any property of any thing that exists. This is what we are secretly apt to do when we speak of organized bodies (plants, for instance, or animals) owing their production, their form, their growth, their qualities, their beauty, their use, to any law, or laws of nature; and when we arc contented to sit down with that answer to our inquiries concerning them. I say once more, that it is a perversion of language to assign any law, as the efficient operative cause of any thing. A law presupposes an agent, for it is only the mode according to which an agent proceeds; it implies a power, for it is the order according to which that power acts. Without this agent, without this power, which are both distinct from itself, the 'law' does nothing; is nothing.
"What has been said concerning 'law,' holds true of mechanism. Mechanism is not itself power. Mechanism without power can do nothing. Let a watch be contrived and constructed ever so ingeniously; be its parts ever so many, ever so complicated, ever so finely wrought, or artificially put together, it cannot go without a weight or spring, i. e. without a force independent of, and ulterior to its mechanism. The spring, acting at the centre, will produce different motions and different results, according to the variety of the intermediate mechanism. One and the self-same spring, acting in one and the same manner, viz, by simply expanding itself, may he the cause of a hundred different, and all useful movements, if a hundred different and well-devised sets of wheels be placed between it and the final effect, e. g. may point out the hour of the day, the day of the month, the age of the moon, the position of the planets, the cycle of the years, and many other serviceable notices; and these movements may fulfil their purposes with more or less perfection, according as the mechanism is better or worse contrived, or better or worse executed, or in a better or worse state of repair; but in all eases, it is necessary that the spring act at the centre. The course of our reasoning upon such a subject would be this. By inspecting the watch, even when standing still, we get a proof of contrivance, and of a contriving mind having been employed about it. In the form and obvious relation of its parts, we see enough to convince us of this. If we pull the works in pieces, for the purpose of a closer examination, we are still more fully convinced. But when we see the watch going, we see proof of another point, viz, that there is a power somewhere, and somehow or other applied to it; a power in action; that there is more in the subject than the mere wheels of the machine; that there is a secret spring, or a gravitating plummet; in a word, that there is force and energy, as well as mechanism.
"So, then, the watch in motion establishes to the observer two conclusions: one, that thought, contrivance, and design have been employed in the forming, proportioning, and arranging of its parts; and that who ever or wherever he be, or were, such a contriver there is, or was: the other, that force or power, distinct from mechanism, is, at this present time, acting upon it. If I saw a hand mill even at rest, I should see contrivance; but if I saw it grinding, I should be assured that a hand was at the windlass, though in another room. It is the same in nature. In the works of nature we trace mechanism; and this alone proves contrivance; but living, active, moving, productive nature, proves also the exertion of a power at the centre; for wherever the power resides, may be denominated the centre.
"The intervention and disposition of what are called 'second causes' fall under the same observation. This disposition is or is not mechanism, according as we can or cannot trace it by our senses, and means of' examination. That is all the difference there is; and it is a difference which respects our faculties, not the things themselves. Now where the order of second causes is mechanical, what is here said of mechanism strictly applies to it. But it would be always mechanism (natural chemistry, for instance, would be mechanism) if our senses were acute enough to descry it. Neither mechanism, therefore, in the works of nature, nor the intervention of what are called second causes, (for I think that they are the same thing,) excuses the necessity of an agent distinct from bath.
"If, in tracing these causes, it be said, that we find certain general properties of matter, which have nothing in them that bespeaks intelligence, I answer that, still, the managing of these properties, the pointing and directing them to time uses which we see made of them, demands intelligence in the highest degree. For example, suppose animal secretions to be elective attractions, and that such and such attractions universally belong to such and such substances; in all which there is no intellect concerned; still time choice and collocation of these substances, the fixing upon right substances, and disposing them in right places, must be an act of intelligence. What mischief would follow, were there a single transposition of the secretory organs; a single mistake in arranging the glands which compose them!
"There may be man second causes, and many courses of second causes, one behind another, between what we observe of nature and time Deity; but there must be intelligence somewhere; there must be more in nature than what we see; and among the things unseen, there must be an intelligent, designing author. The philosopher beholds with astonishment the production of things around him. Unconscious particles of matter take their stations, and severally range themselves in an order, so as to become collectively plants or animals, i. e. organized bodies, With parts bearing strict and evident relation to one another, and to the utility of the whole: and it should seem that these particles could not move in any other way than as they do; for they testify not the smallest sign of choice, or liberty, or discretion. There may be particular intelligent beings guiding these motions in each case; or they may be the result of trains of mechanical dispositions, fixed beforehand by aim intelligent appointment, and kept in action by a power at the centre. But in either case there must be intelligence."
The above arguments, as they irresistibly confirm the Scripture doc trine of the existence of an intelligent First Cause, expose the extreme folly and absurdity of Atheism. The first of the leading theories which it has assumed, is the eternity of matter. When this means the eternity of the world in its present form and constitution, it is contradicted by the changes which are actually and every moment taking place in it; and, as above argued, by the contrivance which it every where presents, and which, it has been proved, necessarily supposes that designing intelligence we call God. When it means the eternity of unorganized matter only, the subject which has received those various forms, and orderly arrangements, which imply contrivance and final causes, it leaves untouched the question of an intelligent cause, time author of the forms with which it has been impressed. A creative cause may, and must, nevertheless exist; and this was the opinion of many of the ancient Theistical philosophers, who ascribed eternity both to God and to matter; and considered creation, not as time bringing of something out of nothing, but as the framing of what actually existed without order and without end. But though this tenet was held, in conjunction with a belief in the Deity, by many who had not the light of the Scripture revelation; yet its manifest tendency is to Atheism, because it supposes the impossibility of creation in the absolute sense; and thus produces limited notions of God, from which the transition to an entire denial of him is an easy step. In modern limes, therefore, the opinion of the eternity of matter has been held by few but absolute Atheists.
What seems to have led to the notion of a pre-existent and eternal matter out of which the world was formed, was the supposed impossibility of a creation from nothing, according to time maxim, "ex nihilo nihil fit." The philosophy was however bad, because as no contradiction was implied in thus ascribing to God the power to create out of nothing; it was a matter of choice, whether to allow what was merely not comprehensible by man, or to put limitations without reason to the power of God. Thus Cudworth :-
"Because it is undeniably certain, concerning ourselves, and all imperfect beings, that none of these can create any new substance, men are apt to measure all things by their own scantling, and to suppose it Universally impossible for any power whatever thus to create. But since it is certain, that imperfect beings can themselves produce some things out of nothing pre-existing, as new cogitations, new local motion, and new modifications of things corporeal, it is surely reasonable to think that an absolutely perfect being can do something more, i.e. create new substances, or give them their whole being. And it may well be thought as easy for God or an omnipotent Being to make a whole world, matter and all, exontwn, as it is for us to create a thought or to move a finger, or for the sun to send out rays, or a candle light, or lastly, for an opaque body to produce an image of itself' in a glass or water, or to project a shadow: all these imperfect things being but the energies, rays, images, or shadows of the Deity. For a substance to be made out of nothing b God, or a Being infinitely perfect, is not for it lo be made out of nothing in the impossible sense, because it comes from him who is all. Nor can it be said to be impossible for any thing whatever to be made by that which hath not only infinitely greater perfection, but also infinite active power. It is indeed true, that infinite power itself cannot do things in their own nature impossible; and, therefore, those who deny creation ought to prove that it is absolutely impossible for a substance, though not for mum accident or modification, to be brought from non-existence into being. But nothing is in itself impossible, which does not imply a contradiction: and though it be a contradiction for a thing to lie and not to be at the same time, there is surely no contradiction in conceiving an imperfect being, which before was not, afterward to be."
It is not necessary to refer to the usual metaphysical arguments to show the non-eternity of matter, by proving that its existence must be necessary if it be eternal; and, if necessary, that it must he infinite, &c. They are not of much value. Every man bears in himself time proof of a creation out of nothing, so that time objection from the impossibility of the thing is at once removed.
"That sensation, intelligence, consciousness, and volition, are not the result of any modifications of figure and motion, is a truth as evident as that consciousness is not swift, nor volition square. If then these be the powers or properties of a being distinct from matter, which we think capable of the completest proof, every man who does not believe that his mind has existed and been conscious from eternity, must be convinced that the power of creation has been exerted on himself'. If it be denied that there is any immaterial substance in man, still it must be confessed that, as matter is not essentially conscious, and cannot be made so by any particular organization, there is some real thing or entity, call it what you please, which has either existed and been conscious from eternity, or been in time brought from non-entity into existence by an exertion of infinite power."
The former no sober person will contend for, and the latter therefore must be admitted.
On these grounds the absurdity of Atheism is manifest. If it attributes the various arrangements of material things to chance, that is, to nothing, it rests in design without a designer; in effects without a cause. If it allow an intelligent cause operating to produce these effects, but denies him to be almighty, by ascribing eternity to matter, and placing its creation beyond his power, it acknowledges with us indeed a God; but makes him an imperfect being, limited in his power; and it chooses to acknowledge this limited and imperfect being not only without reason, for we have just seen that creation out of nothing implies no contradiction, but even against reason, for time acknowledgment of a creation out of nothing must be forced from him by his own experience, unless he will contend that that conscious being himself may have existed from eternity without being conscious of existence, except for the space of a few past ears.
On some modern scenes of Atheism, Paley justly remarks :- "I much doubt, whether the new schemes have advanced any timing upon the old, or done more than changed the terms of time nomenclature. For instance, I could never see time difference between the antiquated system of' atoms and Buffon's organic molecules. This philosopher, having made a planet by knocking off from the sun a piece of melted glass, in consequence of the stroke of a comet; and having set it in motion by the same stroke, both round its own axis and the sun, finds his next difficulty to be, how to bring plants and animals upon it. In order to solve this difficulty, we are to suppose time universe replenished with particles endowed with life, but without organization or senses of their own; and endowed also with a tendency to marshal themselves into organized forms. The concourse of these particles, by virtue of this tendency, but without intelligence, will, or direction, (for I do not find that any of' these qualities are ascribed to them,) has produced the living forms which we now see.
"Very few of the conjectures, which philosophers hazard upon these subjects, have more of pretension in them, than the challenging you to show time direct impossibility of the hypothesis. In the present example there seemed to be a positive objection to the whole scheme upon the very face of it; which was that, if the case were as lucre represented, new combinations ought to be perpetually taking place; new plants and animals, or organized bodies which were neither, ought to be starting up before our eyes every day. For this, however, our philosopher has an answer. 'While so man forms of plants and animals are already in existence, and consequently, so many 'internal moulds,' as he calls them, are prepared and at hand, the organic particles run into these moulds, and are employed in supplying an accession of substance to them, as well for their growth, us for their propagation ;-by which means things keep their ancient course. But, says the same philosopher, should army general loss or destruction of the present constitution of organized bodies take place, the particles for want of 'moulds' into which they might enter, would run into different combinations, and replenish the waste with new species of organized substances.
"Is there any history to countenance this notion? Is it known, that any destruction has been so repaired? Any desert thus re-peopled?
"But, these wonder-working instruments, these 'internal mounds,' what are they after all? What, when examined, but a name without signification? unintelligible, if not self contradictory; at the best differing in nothing from time 'essential forms' of the Greek philosophy? One short sentence of Buffon's works exhibits his scheme as follows :-When this nutritious and prolific matter, which is diffused throughout all nature, passes through the internal mould of an animal or vegetable, and finds a proper matrix or receptacle, it gives rise to an animal or vegetable of time same species.' Does any reader annex a meaning to the expression 'internal mould,' in this sentence? Ought it then to be said, that though we have little notion of an internal mould, we have not much more of' a designing mind? The very contrary of this assertion is the truth. When we speak of an artificer or an architect, we talk of what is comprehensible to our understanding, and familiar to our experience. We use no other terms, than what refer us for their meaning to our consciousness and observation; what express the constant objects of both; whereas names hike that we have mentioned, refer us to nothing; excite no idea; convey a sound to the ear, but I think do no more.
"Another system, which has lately been brought forward, and with much ingenuity, is that of appetencies. The principle, and the short account of the theory, is this: pieces of soft, ductile matter, being endued with propensities or appetencies for particular actions, would, by' continual endeavours, carried on through a long series of generations, work themselves gradually into suitable forms; and at length acquire, though perhaps by obscure and almost imperceptible improvements, an organization fitted to time action which their respective propensities led them to exert. A piece of animated matter for example, that was endued with a propensity to fly, though ever so shapeless, though no other we will suppose than a round ball, to begin with, would, in a course of ages, if not in a million of years, perhaps in a hundred million of years, (for our theorists, having eternity to dispose of; are never sparing in time,) acquire wings. The same tendency to locomotion in an aquatic animal, or rather in an animated lump which might happen to be surrounded by water, would end in the production offers: in a living substance, confined to the solid earth, would put out legs and feet; or if it took a different turn, would break the body into ringlets, and conclude by crawling upon the ground.
"The scheme under consideration is open to the same objection with other conjectures of a similar tendency, viz. a total defect of evidence. No changes, like those which the theory requires, have ever been observed. All the changes in Ovid's Metamorphoses might have been effected by these appetencies, if the theory were true: yet not an example, nor the pretence of an example, is offered of a single change being known to have taken place.
"Time solution, when applied to the works of nature generally, is contradicted by many of the phenomena, and totally inadequate to others. The ligaments or strictures, by which the tendons are tied down at the angles of the joints, could by no possibility be formed by the motion or exercise of the tendons themselves; by any appetency exciting these parts into action: or by any tendency arising therefrom. The tendency is all the other way; the conatus in constant opposition to them. Length of time does not help the case at all, but the reverse. The valves also in the blood vessels could never be formed in t he manner which our theorist proposes. The blood, in its right and natural course, has no tendency to form them. When obstructed or refluent, it has the contrary. These parts could not grow out of their use, though they had eternity to grow in.
"The senses of animals appear to me altogether incapable of receiving the explanation of' their origin which this theory affords. Including under the word 'sense' the organ and the perception, we have no account of either. How will our philosopher get at vision, or make an eye? How should the blind animal affect sight, of which blind animals, we know, have neither conception nor desire? Affecting it, by what operation of its will, by what endeavour to see, could it so determine time fluids of its body, as to inchoate the formation of an eye ? Or suppose the eye formed, would time perception follow? The same of the other senses. And this objection holds its force, ascribe what you will to the hand of time, to the power of habit, to changes too slow to be observed by man, or brought within any comparison which he is able to make of past things with the present: concede what you please to these arbitrary and unattested suppositions, how will they help you? Here is no inception. No laws, no course, no powers of nature which prevail at present, nor any analogous to these, could give commencement to a new sense. And it is in vain to inquire, how that might proceed which could never begin.
In the last place: what do these appetencies mean when applied to plants? I am not able to give a signification to the term, which can be transferred from animals to plants; or which is common to both. Yet a no less successful organization is found in plants, than what obtains in animals. A solution is wanted for one as well as the other.
"Upon tile whole; after all the schemes and struggles of a reluctant philosophy, the necessary resort is a Deity. The marks of design are too strong to be got over. Design must have had a designer. That designer must have been a person. That person is GOD."
Well has it been said, that Atheism is, in all its theories, a credulity of the grossest kind, equally degrading to the understanding and to the heart: fir what reflecting and honest mind can for a moment put them theories into competition with that revealed in the Scriptures, at once so sublime and so convincing; and which instead of shunning, like those just mentioned, an appeal to facts, bids us look to the heavens and to the earth; assemble tile aggregate of beings, great and small; and examine their structure, and mark their relations, in proof that there must exist an all-wise and an almighty Creator?
Such is the evidence which the doctrine of a Deity receives from experience, observation, and rational induction, a posteriori. The argument thus stated, has an overwhelming force, and certainly needs no other, though attempts have been made to obtain proof a priori, and thus to meet and rout the forces of the enemy in both directions. No instance is however I believe on record of an Atheistic conversion haying been produced by this process, and it may be ranked among the over zealous attempts of tile advocates of truth. It is well intentioned, but unsatisfactory, and so far as on the one hand it has led to a neglect of the more convincing, and powerful course of argument drawn from "the things which do appear ;" and on the other, has encouraged a dependence upon a mode of investigation, to which the human mind is inadequate, which in many instances is an utter mental delusion, and which scarcely two minds will conduct in the same manner; it has probably been mischievous in its effects by inducing a skepticism not arising out of the nature of the case, but from the imperfect and unsatisfactory investigations of the human understanding, pushed beyond the limit of its powers. In most instances it is a sword which cuts two ways ; and the mere imaginary assumptions of those who think they have found out a new way to demonstrate truth, have in many instances either done disservice to it by absurdity, or yielded principles which unbelievers have connected with tine most injurious conclusions. We need only instance the doctrine of the necessary existence of the Deity, when reasoned a priori. Some acute infidels have thanked those for the discovery who intended nothing so little as to encourage error: and have argued from that notion, that the Supreme Being cannot be a free agent, and have thus set the first principles of religion at variance with the Scriptures. The fact seems to be, that though, when once the existence of a first and intelligent cause is established, some of his attributes are capable of proof a priori, (how much that proof is worth is another question,) yet that his existence itself admits of no such demonstration, and that in tine nature of the thing it is impossible.
The reason of this is drawn from tine very nature of an argument priori. it is an argument from an antecedent to a consequent, from cause to effect. If therefore there be any thing existing in nature, or could have been, from which the being and attributes of God might have been derived, or any thing which can be justly considered as prior in order of nature or conception to the first cause of all things; then may the argument from such prior thing or principle be good and valid.- But if there is in reality nothing prior to the being of God, considered as the first cause and causality, nothing in nature, nothing in reason, then tile attempt is fruitless to argue from it; and we improperly pretend to search into the grounds or reasons of tine first cause, of whom antecedently we neither do nor can know any thing.
As the force of the argument a priori has however been much debated, it may not be useless to enter somewhat more fully into the subject.
One of the earliest and ablest advocates of this mode of demonstrating the existence of God, was Dr. Samuel Clarke. lie however first proceeds a posteriori to prove, from tine actual existence of dependent beings, the existence from eternity of" one unchangeable and independent Being ;" and thus makes himself debtor to this obvious and plain demonstration before he can prove that this Being is, in his sense, necessarily existent. Necessity of existence is therefore tacitly acknowledged, not to be a tangible idea in the first instance; and the weight of the proof is tacitly confessed to rest upon the argument from effect to cause, which if admitted needs no assistance from a more abstract course of arguing. For if the first argument be allowed, every thing else follows; and it must be allowed, before the higher ground of demonstration can be taken. We have seen the guarded manner in which Howe, in the quotation before given, has stated the notion of the necessary existence of the Divine Being. Dr. S. Clarke and his followers have refined upon this, and given a view of tine subject which is liable to the strongest objections. His words are, "To be self existent is to exist by an absolute necessity, originally in tine nature of the thing itself;" and " this necessity must not be barely consequent upon our Supposition of the existence of such a being, for then it would not be a necessity absolutely such in itself, nor be the ground or foundation of the existence of any thing, being on the contrary only a consequent of it; but it must antecedently force itself upon us whether we will or not; even when we are endeavouring to suppose that no such being exists." (Demonstration 1.)
One of the reasons given for this opinion is, "there must be in nature a permanent ground or reason for the existence of the first cause, other. wise its being would be owing to mere chance." But to this it has been well replied, "Why must we say that God has his existence from, or that he does exist for some prior cause or reason? Why may we not say that God exists as the first cause of all things, and thereupon surcease from all farther inquiries? God himself said 'I am,' and he had done. But the argument, if it did prove any thing, would prove too much. To evince which, let the same way of reasoning be applied, to what you call the ground or the reason of the existence of the first cause, and then with very little variation, I retort upon you in your own words. If this ground or reason be itself any thing, or any property of any thing, of what nature, kind or degree soever, there must accord. ing to your way of reasoning, be in nature a ground or reason of the existence of such your antecedent necessity, 'a reason why it is, rather than why it is not, otherwise its existence will be owing to, or dependent on, mere chance.' You observe elsewhere that 'nothing can be more absurd than to suppose that any thing, or any circumstance of any thing, is, and yet that there is absolutely no reason why it is, rather than why it is not.' This consideration you allege as a vindication of your assigning a reason, a priori, for the existence of the first cause. If therefore your supposed reason, ground, or necessity, be 'any thing or any supposable circumstance of any thing,' as surely it must be, if not mere nothing, then by the same rule, such 'ground,' 'necessity,' &c, must have a reason, a priori, why it is, rather than why it is not, and after that another, and then a third, and so on in infinitum. And thus in your way we may be always seeking a first cause, and never be able to find one, whereon to fix ourselves, or check our restless and unprofitable inquiries. While indeed we consider only inferior existencies and second causes, there will always be room left for inquiring why such things are, and how such things came to be as they are; because this is only seeking and investigating the initial, the efficient, or the final cause of their existence. But when we are advanced beyond all causes procatarctical and final, it remains only to say, that such is our first cause and causality, that we know it exists, and without prior cause; and with this you yourself will be obliged to fall in, the first step you farther take; for if we ask you of the antecedent necessity, whence it is, and what prior ground there was for it, you must yourself be content to say-so it is, you know not why, you know not how." (Gretton's Review of the Argument a priori.)
The necessary existence of the first cause, considered as a logical necessity, may be made out without difficulty, and is indeed demonstrated in the arguments given above; but the natural necessity of his existence is a subject too subtle for human grasp, and, from its obscurity, is calculated to mislead. Every thing important in the idea, so far as it is unexceptionable, is well and safely expressed by Baxter. "That which could be eternally without a cause, and itself cause all things, is self sufficient and independent." (Reasons of the Christian Religion.) This seems the only true notion of necessary existence, and care should be taken to use the term in a definite and comprehensible sense. The word necessity when applied to existence may be taken in two acceptations, either as it arises from the relation which the existence of that of which it is affirmed has to the existence of other things, or from the relation which the actual existence of that thing has to the manner of its own existence. In the former sense, it denotes that the supposition of the non-existence of that of which the necessity is affirmed, implies the nonexistence of things we know to exist. Thus some independent being does necessarily exist; because to suppose no independent being, implies that there are no dependent beings, the contrary of which we know to be true. In the second sense, necessity means that the being of which it is affirmed exists after such a manner as that it never could in the past have been non-existent, or can in future time cease to be. Thus every independent being, as it exists without a cause, is necessarily existing, because existence is essential to such a being; so that it never could begin to exist, and never can cease to be: for to suppose a being to begin to exist, or to lose its existence, is to suppose a change from non-entity to entity, or vice versa; and to suppose such a change is to suppose a cause upon which that being depends. Every being therefore which is independent, that is, which had no cause of its existence, must exist necessarily, and cannot possibly have begun to exist in time past, or cease to be in time future.
Still farther on Dr. S. Clarke's view of the necessary existence of the Supreme Being, it has been observed,
"But what is this necessity which proves so much? It is the ground of existence (he says) of that which exists of itself; and if so, it must, in the order of nature, and in our conceptions, be antecedent to that being of whose existence it is the ground. Concerning such a principle, there are but three suppositions which can possibly be made; and all of them may be shown to be absurd and contradictory. We may sup pose either the substance itself, some property of that substance, or something extrinsic to both, to be this antecedent ground of existence prior in the order of nature to the first cause.
"One would think, from the turn of the argument which here represents this antecedent necessity as efficient and causal, that it were considered as something extrinsic to the first cause. Indeed, if the words have any meaning in them at all, or any force of argument, they must be so understood, just as we understand them of any external cause producing its effect. But as an extrinsic principle is absurd in itself, and is beside rejected by Dr. S. Clarke, who says expressly, that 'of the thing which derives not its being from any other thing, this necessity or ground of existence must be in the thing itself,' we need not say a word more of the last of these suppositions.
"Let us then consider the first; let us take the substance itself, and try whether it can be conceived as prior or antecedent to itself in our conceptions or in the order of nature. Surely we need not observe that nothing can be more absurd or contradictory than such a supposition. Dr. S. Clarke himself repeatedly affirms, and it would be strange indeed if he did not affirm, that no being, no thing whatever, can be conceived as in any respect prior to the first cause.
"The only remaining supposition is, that some attribute or property of the self-existent being may be conceived as in the order of nature antecedent to that being. But this, if possible, is more absurd than either of the two preceding suppositions. An attribute is attributed to its subject as its ground or support, and not the subject to its attribute. A property, in the very notion of it, is proper to the substance to which it belongs, and subsequent to it both in our conceptions and in the order of nature. An antecedent attribute, or antecedent property, is a solecism as great, and a contradiction as fiat, as an antecedent subsequent or a subsequent antecedent, understood in the same sense and in the same syllogism. Every property or attribute, as such, presupposes its subject; and cannot otherwise be understood. This is a truth so obvious and so forcible, that it sometimes extorts the assent even of those who upon other occasions labour to obscure it. It is confessed by Dr. S. Clarke, that 'the scholastic way of proving the existence of the self-existent being from the absolute perfection of his nature, is usteron orsteron. For all or any perfections (says lie) presuppose existence; which is a petitio principii. if therefore properties, modes, or attributes in God, be considered as perfections, (and it is impossible to consider them as any thing else,) then, by this confession of the great Author himself, they must all or any of them presuppose existence. It is indeed immediately added in the same place, that bare necessity of existence does not presuppose, but infer existence;' which is true only if such necessity be supposed to be a principle extrinsic, the absurdity of which has been already shown, and is indeed universally confessed If it be a mode or property, it must presuppose the existence of its subject, as certainly and as evidently as it is a mode or a property. It might perhaps a posteriori infer the existence of its subject, as effects may infer a cause; but that it should infer in the other way a priori is altogether as impossible as that a triangle should be a square, or a globe a parallelogram." (Law's Inquiry.)
The true idea of the necessary existence of God is, that he thus exists because it is his nature, as an independent and uncaused being, to be; his being is necessary because it is underived, not underived because it is necessary. The first is the sober sense of the word among our old divines; the latter is a theory of modem date, and leads to no practical result whatever, except to entangle the mind in difficulty, and to give a colour to some very injurious errors.
Equally unsatisfactory, and therefore quite as little calculated to serve the cause of truth, is the argument from space; which is represented by Newton, Clarke, and others, as the infinite mode of an infinite substance, and that substance God, so that from the existence of space itself may be argued the existence of one supreme and infinite Being. Berkeley, Law, and others, have however shown the fallacy of considering space either as a substance, or a mode, and have brought these speculations under the dominion of common sense, and rescued them from metaphysical delusion. They have rightly observed, that space is a mere negation, and that to suppose it to have existence, because it has some properties, for instance, of penetrability, or the capacity of receiving body, is the same thing as to affirm that darkness must be something because it has the capacity of receiving light, and silence some. thing because it has the property of admitting sound, and absence the property of being supplied by presence. To reason in this manner is to assign absolute negations, and such as, in the same way, may be applied to nothing, and then call them positive properties, and so infer that the chimera, thus clothed with them, must needs be something. The arguments in favour of the real existence of space as something positive, have failed in the hands of their first great authors, and the attempts since made to uphold them have added nothing but what is exceedingly futile, and indeed often obviously absurd. The whole of this controversy has left us only to lament the waste of labour which has been employed in erecting around the impregnable ramparts of the great arguments on which the cause rests with so much safety, the useless incumbrances of mud and straw.
The proof of the being of a God reposes wholly then upon arguments a posteriori, and it needs no other; though we shall see as we proceed that even these arguments, strong and irrefutable as they are when rightly applied, have been used to prove more as to some of the attributes of God, than can satisfactorily be drawn from them. Even with this said and convincing process of reasoning at our command, we shall find, at every step of an inquiry into the Divine nature, our entire dependence upon Divine revelation, for our primary light. That must both originate our investigations, and conduct them to a satisfactory result.
 "Few, if any, of the ancient pagan philosophers acknowledged God to be, ma the most proper sense, the Creator of time world. By calling him Dhmiergos, 'the Maker of the world,' they did not mean, that lie brought it out of nonexistence into being; but only that he built it out of pre-existent materials, and disposed it into a regular form and order." See ample proofs and illustrations in c. 13, part i, of Leland's Necessity of Revelation.
 "Tell men there is a God, and their mind embraces it as a necessary truth; unfold his attributes, and they will see the explanation of them in his Works, When the foundation is laid sure and firm that there is a G od, and his will the cause of all timings, and nothing made but by his special appointment and command, then time order of beings will fill their minds with a due sense of the Divine Majesty, and they may have made a scale to raise juster conceptions of what is immortal and invisible." (ELLIS'S Knowledge of Divine Things.)
 The language of every nation is formed on the connection between cause and effect. For in every language there are not only many words directly expressing ideas of this subject, such as cause, efficiency, effect, production, produce, effectuate, create, generate, &c, or words equivalent to these; but every verb in every language, except the intransitive impersonal verbs, and the verb substantive, involves, of course, causation or efficiency, and refers always to an agent, or cause, in such a manner, that without the operation of this cause or agent, the verb would have no meaning.-All mankind, except a few Atheistical and skeptical philosophers, have thus agreed in acknowledging this connection, and they have acknowledged it as fully as others in their customary language. They have spoken exactly as other men speak, and the connection between cause and effect is as often declared in their conversation and writings, and as much relied on, as in those of other men. (Dwight's THEOLOGY, vol. i, p. 5.)
 The notion of an infinite series of caused and successive beings is absurd; for of this infinite series, either some one part has not been successive to any other, or else all the several parts of it have been successive If some one part of it was not successive, then it had a first part, which destroys thee supposition of its infinity. If all the several parts of it have been successive, then have they all once been future mire : but if they have all been future, a time may be conceived w hen none of them had existence: and if so, then it follows, either that all time parts and consequently tine whole of this infinite series must have arisen from nothing, which is absurd; or else, that there must ire something in time whole, beside what is contained in all time ports, which is also absurd. See Clarke's Demonstration, and Woolaston's Religion of Nature. "A chain," says Dr. Paley, "composed of an infinite number of links can no more support itself, than a chain composed of a finite number of links. If we increase the number of links from ten to a hundred, and from a hundred to a thousand, &c, we make not the smallest approach, we observe not the smallest tendency toward self support."
 "We will acknowledge an impropriety in this word, and its conjugate, self originate, sometimes hereafter used: which yet is recompensed by their conveniency; as they may perhaps find who shall make trial how to express the sense intended by them in other words. And they are used without suspicion, that it can be thought they are meant to signify as if God ever gave original to himself; but in the negative sense, that he never received it from any other; yea, and that he is, what is more than equivalent to his being self caused; namely, a Being of himself so excellent as not to need or be capable to admit any cause."
 See Boyle on Final Causes, Ray's Wisdom of God in the Creation, Derham's Astro and Physico Theology, Storm's Reflections, Paley's Natural Theology, &c.