« ZurückWeiter »
cxists ; it acts as a creator before it exists as a creature ; and it must be, in the same respect, both a cause and an effect, or it-must be, and not be, at the same time, than which nothing can be more absurd ; therefore creatures were made by another, upon which account we call them creatures.
3. These creatures could not make one another; for to crea ate something out of nothing, or out of matter altogether unfit to be made what is produced out of it, is to act above the natural powers of the creature, and contrary to the fixed laws of nature; and therefore is too great a work for a creature, who can do nothing but in a natural way, even as an artificer, though he can build an house with fit materials, yet he cannot produce the matter out of which he builds it; nor can he build it of matter unfit for his purpose, as water, fire, air, &c. All creatures act within their own sphere, that is, in a natural way: but creation is a supernatural work, and too great for a creature to perform; therefore creatures cannot be supposed to have made one another.
4. If it was supposed possible for one creature to make another, then superiors must have made inferiors; and so man, or some other intelligent creature, must have made the world : but where is the creature that ever pretended to this power or wisdom, so as to be called the Creator of the ends of the earth.
5. If any creature could make itself, or other creatures of the same species, why did he not preserve himself; for he that can give being to himself, can certainly continue himself in being? or why did he not make himself more perfect? Why did he make himself, and other creatures of the same species, in such a condition, that they are always indigent, or stand in need of support from other creatures.
from this idea duly considered, will easily be deduced all those other attributes, which we ought to ascribe to this eternal Being. If, nevertheless, any one should be found so senselessly arrogant, as to suppose man alone knowing and wise, but yet the product of mere ignorance and chance; and that all the rest of the uni. verse acted only by that blind hap-hazard : I shall leave with him that very rational and emphatical rebuke of Tully, l. 2. de leg. to be considered at his leisure, " What can be more sillily arrogant and misbecoming than for a man to think " that he has a mind and understanding in him, but yet in all the universe beside " there is no such thing? Or that those things, which with the utmost stretch of “his reason he can scarce comprehend, should be moved and managed without " any reason at all? Quid est enim verius, quam neminem esse oportere tam stulte arrogantem, ut in se mentem et rationem putet inesse, in cælo mundoque non putet ? Aut ea quæ vix summa ingenii ratione comprehendat, nulla ratione moveri putet?
From what has been said, it is plain to me, we have a more certain knowledge of the existence of a God, than of any thing our senses have not immediately discovered to us. Nay, I presume I may say, that we more certainly know that there is a God than that there is any thing else without us. When I say we know, I mean there is such a knowledge within our reach, which we cannot miss, if we will but apply our minds to that, as we do to several other inquiries."
Or farther, supposing the creature made himself, and all other things, how comes it to pass that no one knows much of himself comparatively, or other things? Does not he that makes things understand them ? therefore man could not make himself, or other creatures.
6. It follows therefore from hence, that there must be a God, who is the first cause of all things, necessarily existing, and not depending on the will of another, and by whose power all things exist; Of him, and through him, and to him are all things, Rom: xi. 36. In him we live, and move, and have our being, Acts xvii. 28.
Thus much concerning the more general method of reasoning, whereby the light of nature evinces the being of a God; we proceed,
II. To consider more particularly how the being of God may be evinced from his works. The cause is known by its effects ; since therefore, as was but now observed, creatures could not produce themselves, they must be created by one who is not a creature.
Now, if there be no medium between God and the creature, or between infinite and finite, between a self-existent or underived, and a derived being; and if all creatures exist, as has been shewn, by the will and power of their Creator, and so are finite and dependent; then it follows, that there is one from whom they derived their being, and on whom they depend for all things; that is, God. This is usually illustrated by this similitude. Suppose we were cast on an unknown island, and there saw houses built, but no men to inhabit them, should we not conclude there had been some there that built them? Could the stones and timber put themselves into that form in which they are? Or could the beasts of the field build them, that are without understanding? Or when we see a curious piece of workmanship, as a watch, or a clock, perform all its motions in a regular way, can we think the wheels came together by chance? (e) should we not conclude that it was made by one
(e) “ In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were ask. ed how the stone came to be there, I might possibly answer, that, for any thing I knew to the contrary, it had lain there for ever; nor would it, perhaps, be very easy to shew the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be enquired how the watch happened to be in that place, I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given, that, for any thing I knew, the watch might have always been there. Yet, why should not this answer serve for the watch, as well as for the stone? Why is it not as admis. ble in the second case, as in the first? For this reason, and for no other, viz. that, when we come to inspect the watch, we perceive (what we could not dis. cover in the stone) that its several parts are framed, and put together for a purpose, e. g. that they are so formed and adjusted as to produce motion, and that motion so regulated as to point out the hour of the day; that, if the several parts had been differently shaped from what they are, of a different size from what they
of sufficient skill to frame and put them together in that order, and give motion to them? Shall the clay say to him that fashion
ure, or placed after any other manner, or in any other order, than that in which they are placed, either no motion at all would have been carried on in the machine, or none which would have answered the use, that is now served by it. To reckon up a few of the plainest of these parts, and of their offices, all tending to one result: We see a cylindrical box, containing a coiled elastic spring, which, by its endeavour to relax itself, turns round the box. We next observe a fexible chain (artificially wrought for the sake of flexure) communicating the action of the spring from the box to the fusee. We then find a series of wheels, the teeth of which catch in, and apply to, each other, conducting the motion from the fum see to the balance, and from the balance to the pointer; and at the same time, by the size and shape of those wheels, so regulating that motion, as to terminate in causing an index, by an equable and measured progression, to pass over a given space in a given time. We take notice that the wheels are Niade of brass, in or. der to keep them from rust; the springs of steel, no other metal being so elastic; that over the face of the watch there is placed a glass, a material employed in no other part of the work, but, in the room of which, if there had been any other than a transparent substance, the hour could not be seen without opening the case. This mechanism being observed (it requires indeed an examination of the instru. ment, and perhaps some previous knowledge of the subject, to perceive and understand it; but being once, as we have said, 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.
I 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 some 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 skiii, if he be unseen and unknown, but raises no doubts 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 nåture.
II. 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 shew with what design it was made: still less necessary, where the only question is, whether it were made with any design at all.
ití. Nor, thirdly, would it bring any uncertainty into the argument, if there were a tew 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 Vol. I.
ed it, What makest thou, or thy work, He hath no hands? Isa. xlv. 9.
spared without prejudice to the movement of the watch, and that we had proved this by experiment; these, superfluous 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.
IV. 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 he had found in the place where he found the watch, must have contained some internal configuration or other; and that this configuration might be the structure now exhibited, viz. of the works of a watch, as well as of a different structure.
V. Nor, fifthly, would it yield his enquiry 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 forin 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 ineant by a principle of oider, distinct from the intelligence of the watch-maker.
VI. Sixthly, he 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:
VII. And not less surprised to be informed, that the watch in his hand 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 low 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 phænomena, in exclusion of agency and power; or when it is subsituted into the place of these. VIII
. 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 some time, discover, that, in addition to all the properties which he had hitherto observed in it, it possessed the unexp property of prociucing, 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 laths, files, and other tools, evidently and separately cal. culated for this purpose ; let us enquire, what effect ought such a discovery to have upon his former conclusion!
I. 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, be. fore this property had ben noticed, proved intention and art to have been em. ployed about it; still more strong would the proof appear, when he came to the knowledge of this further property, the crown and periection of all the rest.
II lie would reflect, that though the watch before hun were, in some sense,
This leads us to consider the wisdom of God in his works, which demonstrates his being. This the Psalmist mentions
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 toò 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, viz. 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. Understanding and plan in the formation of the mill were not the less necessary, for any share which the water has in grinding the com: yet is this share the same, as that which the watch would have contributed to ihe production of the new watch, upon the supposition assumed in the last section. Therefore,
III. 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 originally 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 hardness, of its heat; and these causes may be all different. We are now asking for the cause of that subserviency to an use, that relation to an end, which we have remarked 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 could 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 incans accommodated to it. Arrangement, disposition of parts, subserviency of means to an end, relation of instruments to an 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 dépendency, 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.
IV. Nor is any thing gained by running the difficulty further back, i. e. hy supposing the watch before us to have been produced by 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 unac, counted for. We still want a contriver. A designing mind is neither supplied by this supposition, nor dispensed with. If the difficulty were diminished the further 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 tendenry, or, as we increase the number of terms, a continual approach towards 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,