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of matter, for we can all conceive it to be annihilated. It is a contradiction to suppose that which exists necessarily, to exist in any other state or form. But we can conceive matter to be in motion or at rest; and finding some parts of it in the one state, and some in the other, we conclude that its existence is not necessary, but contingent. We can conceive it to be differently modified; that it might have wanted some of its properties, and possessed others which do not belong to it; that the frame of the universe might have been different; and that in our system there might have been more or fewer planets, and these might have been attended with more or fewer satellites. But if the universe is self-existent, it must have always been as it now is. The sun must have always been the centre of this system, and the planets must have always described their orbits around him. There must have been eternal revolutions of Saturn and the Georgium Sidus, and eternal revolutions of the Earth and Mercury. Now, as these revolutions are performed in different times, and, on the supposition of their eternity, are all infinite in nuinber, it follows that we have infinites which as infinites must be equal, but being made up of revolutions performed in unequal times, are unequal. But this is impessible, and the hypothesis from which it is deduced is absurd. It has been objected, that according to the doctrine of the infinite divisibility of matter, there may be one infinite greater than another, as the parts of matter differ in size. But the infinite divisibility of matter is a mere figment of the imagination ; and, besides, only implies that our minds can affix no limit to the division, while here the division is actually made; revolutions have been described in periods longer and shorter, and yet they are equal in number, for they are all infinite.
From the whole of the preceding reasoning, we are authorized to draw these conclusions ; that something has existed from eternity; that that eternal Being is not matter or the universe ; and, therefore, that there is a God, underived and independent, the Author of every thing which exists.
III. The next argument is founded on the proofs of design in the universe, according to the obvious dictate of reason, that where design appears, there must be a designer. An argument is frequently drawn from the creation of the universe; and certainly if it can be shewn that the heavens and the earth had a beginning, it follows that there is a Being of almighty power who called them out of nothing, because it is manifest that they could not give existence to themselves. Some remarks have been already made, in order to shew that matter could not be eternal; and we have thus anticipated a part of what might be said upon this head. Few, or perhaps none, of the heathen philosophers believed the creation of matter; but, in general, they admitted that it was arranged by divine agency, and consequently, that the present system had a beginning. A traditionary account of its origin seems to have prevailed among all nations; and the antiquity of the account is manifest from the writings of Moses, which, without assuming their inspiration, ought to be considered as a record of the opinion entertained upon this subject in his age, which preceded that of authentic profane history by a thousand years. The recent introduction of arts, which in many instances can be traced to their inventors; the late origin of nations; the total want of any credible accounts reaching farther back than about six thousand years; the imperfect occupation of the earth, which must long since have been fully peopled if it had existed from eternity; all these undeniable facts concur to prove, that it is not long since our globe and its inhabitants were brought into being, and consequently, that there is a great First Cause, by whose will and power they were produced.
Not to dwell upon this argument, I would call your attention to the evidences of intelligence in the works of nature, from which we are authorized to infer the existence of an intelligent cause. If any man should deny that there are marks of design, I could not answer him better than in the words of Cicero: “If those things which are formed by nature are better than those which are executed by art, and art effects nothing without reason, certainly nature is not to be accounted destitute of reason. How is it consistent, when you have looked at a statue or a painting, to acknowledge that art has been employed; when you have seen the course of a ship, not to doubt that it is guided by reason ; when you contemplate a sun-dial, to be convinced that the hours are pointed out, not by chance, but by skill; and at the same time to be of opinion that the world, which comprehends those arts, and the artists, and all things, is without reason and counsel? If any person should carry into Scythia or Britain the sphere lately constructed by our friend Posidonius, the movements of which produce the same changes with respect to the sun, and the moon, and the five planets, which take place every day and night in the heavens, who in these barbarous countries could doubt that that sphere was constructed by reason? But these," namely, certain philosophers to whom he refers, “doubt concerning the world, whether it was made by chance, or by necessity, or by the divine reason and mind; and think that Archimedes had more concern in imitating the motions of the sphere than nature in effecting them.”** Such are the reflections of that eloquent orator, and they command the approbation of every reflecting mind. If we lighted upon a book containing a well-digested narrative of facts, or a train of accurate reasoning, we should never think of calling it a work of chance, but would immediately pronounce it to be the production of a cultivated mind. If we saw in a wilderness a building well proportioned, commodiously arranged, and furnished with taste, we should conclude without hesitation, and without the slightest suspicion of mistake, that human intellect and human labour had been employed in planning and erecting it. In cases of this kind, an atheist would reason precisely as other men do. Why then does he not draw the same inference from the proofs of design which are discovered in the works of creation? While the premises are the same, why is the conclusion different? Upon what pretext of reason does he deny that a work, in all the parts of which wisdom appears, is the production of an intelligent author? and attribute the universe to chance, to nature, to necessity, to any thing, although it should be a word without meaning, rather than to God?
It is impossible to survey the objects around us with any degree of attention, and not perceive marks of design, ends aimed at, and means employed to accomplish those ends. We need to go no farther in quest of evidence than our own frame, which appears the more admirable the more carefully it is examined, and the more intimately it is known. No person who considers the use of the eye, and is acquainted with its internal structure, so skilfully adapted to the transmission and refraction of the rays of light, can any more doubt that it was intended for the purpose of vision, than he can doubt, when he understands the construction of a telescope, that it is intended to enable us to see objects at a distance. No man can doubt, when he examines the external form and internal configuration of the ear, that it is an instrument expressly provided for the conveyance of sound; or that the lungs were made for respiration; the stomach for the reception and concoction of our food; and the wonderful system of vessels known by the names of arteries and veins, for carrying the blood from the heart to every part of the body, and then returning it to its source; in one respect resembling the pipes by which water in the fountain or reservoir, is distributed through all the streets and lanes of a city. No man can doubt that the design of glands is to secrete; of nerves, to propogate feeling and motion; of the teeth, so differently formed, to cut and mastieate ; of legs, to support the body, and move it from place to place; of arms and hands divided into fingers, to perform the various operations which are necessary to our subsistence and comfort. These instances are quite sufficient to satisfy any reasonable inquirer.
* De Nat. Deor. lib. ii. 34.
Marks of design are equally apparent in the bodies of the inferior animals, which in their general structure bear a striking analogy to our own. When a difference is found, the proofs of wisdom multiply upon us, for it manifestly proceeds from an intention to accommodate the animal, or to adapt it to its peculiar circumstances. It is comprehensive wisdom ; wisdom which can command not only one system of means, but a variety of expedients, to meet the diversity of cases which were necessary to the replenishing of the different parts of nature with inhabitants. For example, if one animal lives upon herbs, another upon seeds, and a third upon the flesh of other animals, we find that while they are in common furnished with a stomach, this member is differently constructed in each, so as to receive and digest its peculiar food. We observe again, that whether animals move upon the surface of the earth, or fly in the air, or swim in the waters, their external form and internal organization are admirably accommodated to their mode of life, and to the place of their habitation. This variety amidst uniformity is an evidence upon which we may confidently depend, that what appears to be design is not the effect of chance, or of a blind necessity which would always produce the same results, but of an intelligent mind, wonderful in counsel and excellent in working; of a Being fertile in contrivances, and in every instance choosing the best.
The doctrine of final causes cannot be admitted, without at the same time acknowledging a First Cause, possessed of knowledge and wisdom. Atheists have therefore exerted themselves to obscure its evidence, and to bring it into disrepute; but their attempts in this way have reflected no honour upon their understandings and their hearts. “Our bodily organs,” says Lucretius, “ were not formed that we might use them, but their prior formation suggested the use. Sight was not before the eyes were made, nor hearing before the ears; but the ears existed long before any sound was heard, and all our members before their office was discovered."*' In short, according to this philosopher, for such he is called, eyes were not intended to see, nor tongues to speak, nor legs to move; but somehow they belonged to the body, and men ingeniously contrived to turn them to good account. There was no prospective contrivance in any of our organs and members; they were formed by chance; but luckily, it happened that they might be made to serve the various purposes of our being, and as luckily, men made the discovery, and wisely resolved to take the advantage of them. How long it was before this discovery was made, and if some time elapsed, how men contrived in the meantime to live without speech, and hearing, and sight, and motion, this hierophant of atheism has not condescended to inform us. It would be a waste of time to refute downright nonsense. You would laugh at a man who should tell you, that a telescope was not constructed with a design to view distant objects, but that after it was made, it was discovered that it would serve this purpose, and was therefore applied to it; and you may laugh at Lucretius, or any other fool, who affirms that sight is not the original design, but an accidental use of the eye.
The theories of modern atheists are not more wise, or more worthy of attention. Thus, some account for the production of living creatures, by what they call the principle of generation, that is, by a word; others, by the supposition, which you will observe is only a supposition, that nature is full of living particles, which have a tendency to arrange themselves in organized forms: and others, by what they cail appetencies, “or propensities in parts of matter to particular actions, which by continual endeavours, carried on through a long series of generations, work themselves gradually into suitable forms, and at length acquire an organization fitted to the action which their respective propensities led them to exert.”
* Lucret. de Rer. Natura, lib, iv. 832.
• We know a cause,” says Dr. Paley, “ adequate to the appearances which we wish to account for; we have this cause continually producing similar appearances; yet, rejecting this cause, the sufficiency of which we know, and the action of which is constantly before our eyes, we are invited to resort to suppositions, destitute of a single fact for their support, and confirmed by no analogy with which we are acquainted. The «suppositions' here alluded to, all agree in one character. They all endeavour to dispense with the necessity in nature, of a particular, personal intelligence; that is to say, with the exertion of an intending, contriving mind, in the structure and formation of the organized constitutions which the world contains. They would resolve all productions into unconscious energies, of a like kind, in that respect, with attraction, magnetism, electricity, &c. without any thing farther.”*
I shall resume this argument in the next lecture.
Argument for his Being from the marks of Design in the Universe, continued—Argument from
general consent; its just force—Argument from Historical Evidences of a Superintending Providence-Reflections drawn from the Existence of God-Eternity of God: proof of it-Different from the perpetual duration of creatures—Speculations respecting his Eternal Existence-Spirituality of God Doctrine of Materiality; contrary to Scripture and Reason.
In the last lecture, I entered upon the argument for the existence of God, from the proofs of design which are discovered in the works of nature, and illustrated it at considerable length. I directed your attention to the evidence presented by our own bodily constitution, and by the organization of other animated beings.
Proofs multiply upon us when we extend our observation to the various parts of the universe, and are not less striking and convincing in inanimate objects. To begin with those which, although organized, cannot be considered as endowed with consciousness and a principle of activity, there is not a tree, or a plant, or an herb, however insignificant it may seem, in which the signatures of divine wisdom may not be perceived. In the structure of vegetables, there is an arrangemeni, different indeed from what is observable in animals, but affording proofs not less satisfactory, of wise intention directed to the same general end, the subsistence, health and growth of the individual, and the continuation of the species. There are vessels for drawing nourishment from the soil to which they are attached; vessels for conveying the juices to every part; vessels for admitting and expiring the air; vessels for the production of flowers and fruits. Between a vegetable and a stone or a clod, the difference is great, and can be accounted for only by the agency of an intelligent Being. In the latter we see simple existence; but in the former we perceive design.
When we survey the surface of the earth, and observe the disposition of its parts, it is impossible for any person in his senses to suppose that they were huddled together by chance. There are clear indications of a wise and benevolent plan. We see the earth in one place, stretching out into plains, and in anoth
Paley's Theology, chap. 23.
er, rising into hills and mountains;
and the reason of this diversity is apparent. The plains would be arid wastes, furnishing no sustenance for man and beast, without the higher parts, which attract the clouds, and imbibing their watery treasures, distribute them to the lower regions in springs and streams which fructify the vallies, and give drink to their inhabitants. The surface of the globe is divided into the sea and the dry land. The dry land affords firm footing to man, and all terrestrial animals, as well as produces the vegetable substances which serve them for food. The sea is an inexhaustible source of vapours which rising in the atmosphere, are there condensed, and descend in mists and rains; and at the same time, it facilitates the intercourse of nations, and the transportation of the productions of one region to another. Had there been no sea, the earth would have been a desert, the silent abode of desolation and death.
Once more, proofs of design present themselves to us when we look beyond this earth, and contemplate the system to which it belongs. · In the centre is placed the sun, and around him the planets, retained in their orbits by an invisible power, perform their unceasing revolutions, while light and heat flow from this inexhaustible fountain to cheer their inhabitants. In particular, with respect to our earth, no rational man can doubt that its double motion is the effect of design, who considers that, by turning round its own axis once in twenty-four hours, the succession of day and night is produced; and that its annual motion round the sun gives rise to the changes of the seasons.
But of examples of contrivance there is no end. A few are sufficient to satisfy a candid inquirer ; but in proportion as they are multiplied the argument becomes stronger; because, while it is possible that chance might produce the appearance of design in a solitary instance, although it has never yet formed a watch, a house, or the simplest instrument of labour, it is contrary to the idea of chance, that such appearances should be uniform or frequent. Our argument then is, that where there is design, there must be a designer; where there is a plan there must be a mind in which it was conceived. The adaptation of means to an end presupposes a being who had the end in view, and perceived the fitness of the means. The universe is full of designs. They are visible in its general frame, and in its particular parts. The refuge of the atheist is to say, that the wisdom is in nature; but he speaks unintelligibly, and we are sure does not understand himself. Wisdom is an attribute of mind, and must reside in a being distinct from the universe, as the maker of a machine is distinct from the machine itself. That Being is God, “wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.”
IV. An argument for the existence of God is founded on the general consent of mankind. It has been believed in all ages and nations, and is therefore consonant to the natural unbiassed dictates of the mind.
The fact of a general consent is, in the first place, to be proved; and for this purpose, we appeal to the history of the human race, of which religion makes a prominent part. It is objected, that some nations have been found without religion, or any idea of a God; but we have two answers to return. In the first place, the allegation has been made upon insufficient grounds in some cases at least, upon a superficial acquaintance with certain tribes, by persons ignorant of their language, and who had no proper opportunity to investigate their customs and opinions; and a more intimate knowledge of them has demonstrated that the account was a hasty and unjust assumption. But suppose that there were some tribes who had no notion of religion, the strength of the argument would be little impaired; because we do not affirm that men have an innate idea of God, but that the idea presents itself, with the evidence of truth, to those who are capable of thinking as rational beings; and if in the persons supposed, reason has not been exercised, if it is almost in a dormant state, and they in fact differ little from brutes, it is no more wonderful that they have not discovered this truth, than it is that a blind man does not see. But it