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mine the fluids of its body, as to inchoate the formation of an eye? or, suppose the eye formed, would the 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, would give commencement to a new sense. And it is in vain to inquire, how that might proceed, which could never begin. I think the senses to be the most inconsistent with the hypothesis before us, of any part of the animal frame. But other parts are sufficiently so. The solution does not apply to the parts of animals, which have little in them of motion. If we could suppose joints and muscles to be gradually formed by action and exercise, what action or exercise could form a skull, and fill it with brains? No effort of the animal could determine the clothing of its skin. What conatus could give prickles to the porcupine or hedgehog, or to the sheep its fleece?
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 the whole; after all the schemes and struggles of a reluctant philosophy, the necessary resort is to a Deity. The marks of design are too strong to be gotten over. Design must have had a designer. That designer must have been a person. That person is GOD.
idolatry with its many pernicious accompaniments, they introduce the Deity to human apprehension, under an idea more personal, more determinate, more within its compass, than the theology of nature can do. And this they do by representing him exclusively under the relation in which he stands to ourselves; and, for the most part, under some precise character, resulting from that relation, or from the history of his providences: which method suits the span of our intellects much better than the universality which enters into the idea of God, as deduced from the views of nature. When, therefore, these representations are well founded in point of authority, (for all depends upon that,) they afford a condescension to the state of our faculties, of which, they who have most reflected on the subject, will be the first to acknowledge the want and the value.
Nevertheless, if we be careful to imitate the documents of our religion, by confining our explanations to what concerns ourselves, and do not affect more precision in our ideas than the subject allows of, the several terms which are employed to denote the attributes of the Deity, may be made, even in natural religion, to bear a sense consistent with truth and reason, and not surpassing our comprehension.
"Omnipotence," "omniscience," "infinite" power, "infinite" knowledge, are superlatives, expressing our conception of these attributes in the strongest and most elevated terms which language supplies. We ascribe power to the Deity under the name of "omnipotence,” the strict and correct conclusion being, that a power which could create such a world as this is, must be beyond all comparison, greater than any which we experience in ourselves, than any which we observe in other visible agents; greater also than any which we can want, for our individual protection and preservation, in the Being upon whom we depend. It is a power, likewise, to which we are not authorized, by our observation or knowledge, to assign any limits of space or duration.
Of the Natural Attributes of the Deity.
It is an immense conclusion, that there is a GOD; a perceiving, intelligent, designing Being; at the head of creation, and from whose will it proceeded. The attributes of such a Being, suppose his reality to be proved, must be adequate to the magnitude, extent, and multiplicity of his operations which are not only vast beyond comparison with those performed by any other power; but, so far as respects our conceptions of them, infinite, because they are unlimited on all sides.
Very much of the same sort of remark is applicable to the term "omniscience," infinite knowledge, or infinite wisdom. In strictness of language, there is a difference between knowledge and wisdom; wisdom always supposing action, and action directed by it. With respect to the first, viz. knowledge, the Creator must know, intimately, the constitution and properties of the things which he created; which seems also to imply a foreknowledge of their action upon one another, and of their changes; at least, so far as the same result from trains of physical and necessary causes. His omniscience also, as far as respects things present, is deducible from his nature, as an intelligent being, joined with the
Yet the contemplation of a nature so exalted, however surely we arrive at the proof of its exist ence, overwhelms our faculties. The mind feels
its powers sink under the subject. One conse-extent or rather the universality, of his operations. quence of which is, that from painful abstraction Where he acts, he is; and where he is, he perthe thoughts seek relief in sensible images.ceives. The wisdom of the Deity, as testified in Whence may be deduced the ancient, and almost the works of creation, surpasses all idea we have universal propensity to idolatrous substitutions. of wisdom, drawn from the highest intellectual They are the resources of a labouring imagina- operations of the highest class of intelligent beings tion. False religions usually fall in with the na- with whom we are acquainted; and, which is of tural propensity; true religions, or such as have the chief importance to us, whatever be its comderived themselves from the true, resist it. pass or extent, which it is evidently impossible that we should be able to determine, it must be adequate to the conduct of that order of things
It is one of the advantages of the revelations which we acknowledge, that, whilst they reject
These terms are; Omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, eternity, self-existence, necessary existence, spirituality.
The Unity of the Deity.
under which we live. And this is enough. It "Spirituality" expresses an idea, made up of a is of very inferior consequence, by what terms we negative part, and of a positive part. The negaexpress our notion, or rather our admiration, of tive part consists in the exclusion of some of the this attribute. The terms, which the piety and known properties of matter, especially of solidity, the usage of language have rendered habitual to of the vis inertia, and of gravitation. The posius, may be as proper as any other. We can tive part comprises perception, thought, will, trace this attribute much beyond what is neces-power, action; by which last term is meant, the sary for any conclusion to which we have occasion | origination of motion; the quality, perhaps, in to apply it. The degree of knowledge and power which resides the essential superiority of spirit requisite for the formation of created nature, cannot, over matter, "which cannot move, unless it be with respect to us, be distinguished from infinite. moved; and cannot but move, when impelled The Divine "omnipresence" stands, in natural by another."* I apprehend that there can be no theology, upon this foundation-In every part difficulty in applying to the Deity both parts of and place of the universe with which we are ac- this idea. quainted, we perceive the exertion of a power, which we believe, mediately or immediately to proceed from the Deity. For instance; in what part or point of space, that has ever been explored, do we not discover attraction? In what regions do we not find light. In what accessible portion of our globe, do we not meet with gravity, magnetism, electricity; together with the pro- Or the "Unity of the Deity," the proof is, the perties also and powers organized substances, uniformity of plan observable in the universe. of vegetable or of animated nature? Nay, farther, The universe itself is a system; each part either we may ask, What kingdom is there of nature, depending upon other parts, or being connected what corner of space, in which there is any thing with other parts by some common law of motion, that can be examined by us, where we do not fall or by the presence of some common substance. upon contrivance and design? The only reflec- One principle of gravitation causes a stone to drop tion perhaps which arises in our minds from this towards the earth, and the moon to wheel round view of the world around us is, that the laws of it. One law of attraction carries all the different nature everywhere prevail; that they are uniform planets about the sun. This philosophers deand universal. But what do we mean by the monstrate. There are also other points of agreelaws of nature, or by any law? Effects are pro- ment amongst them, which may be considered as duced by power, not by laws. A law cannot exe-marks of the identity of their origin, and of their cute itself. A law refers us to an agent. Now intelligent Author. In all are found the conan agency so general, as that we cannot discover veniency and stability derived from gravitation. its absence, or assign the place in which some They all experience vicissitudes of days and effect of its continued energy is not found, may, nights, and changes of season. They all, at in popular language at least, and, perhaps, with least Jupiter, Mars, and Venus, have the same out much deviation from philosophical strictness, advantages from their atmosphere as we have. be called universal: and, with not quite the same, In all the planets, the axes of rotation are permabut with no inconsiderable propriety, the person nent. Nothing is more probable than that the or Being, in whom that power resides, or from same attracting influence, acting according to the whom it is derived, may be taken to be omnipre- same rule, reaches to the fixed stars: but, if this sent. He who upholds all things by his power, be only probable, another thing is certain, viz. may be said to be every where present. that the same element of light does. The light from a fixed star affects our eyes in the same manner, is refracted and reflected according to the same laws, as the light of a candle. The velocity of the light of the fixed stars is also the same as the velocity of the light of the sun, reflected from the satellites of Jupiter. The heat of the sun, in kind, differs nothing from the heat of a coal fire.
This is called a virtual presence. There is also what metaphysicians denominate an essential ubiquity; and which idea the language of Scripture seems to favour: but the former, I think, goes as far as natural theology carries us.
"Eternity" is a negative idea, clothed with a positive name. It supposes, in that to which it is applied, a present existence; and is the negation of a beginning or an end of that existence. As applied to the Deity, it has not been controverted by those who acknowledge a Deity at all. Most assuredly, there never was a time in which nothing existed, because that condition must have continued. The universal blank must have remained; nothing could rise up out of it; nothing could ever have existed since; nothing could exist w. In strictness, however, we have no concern with duration prior to that of the visible world. Upon this article therefore of theology, it is sufficient to know, that the contriver necessarily existed before the contrivance.
"Self-existence" is another negative idea, viz. the negation of a preceding cause, as of a progenitor, a maker, an author, a creator.
Necessary existence" means demonstrable existence.
In our own globe, the case is clearer. New countries are continually discovered, but the old laws of nature are always found in them: new plants perhaps, or animals, but always in company with plants and animals which we already know; and always possessing many of the same general properties. We never get amongst such original, or totally different, modes of existence, as to indicate, that we are come into the province of a different Creator, or under the direction of a different will. In truth, the same order of things attends us, wherever we go. The elements act upon one another, electricity operates, the tides rise and fall, the magnetic needle elects its position, in one region of the earth and sea, as well
*Bishop Wilkin's Principles of Natural Religion,
as in another. One atmosphere invests all parts
that, in this part likewise of organized nature, we of the globe, and connects all; one sun illumi-perceive a continuation of the sexual system. Certain however it is, that the whole argument for the divine unity, goes no farther than to a unity of counsel.
It may likewise be acknowledged, that no arguments which we are in possession of, exclude the ministry of subordinate agents. If such there be, they act under a presiding, a controlling will; because they act according to certain general restrictions, by certain common rules, and, as it should seem, pon a general plan: but still such agents, and different ranks, and classes, and degrees of them, may be employed.
nates, one moon exerts its specific attraction upon all parts. If there be a variety in natural effects, as, e. g. in the tides of different seas, that very variety is the result of the same cause, acting under different circumstances. In many cases this is proved; in all, is probable.
The inspection and comparison of liring forms, add to this argument examples without number. Of all large terrestrial animals, the structure is very much alike; their senses nearly the same; their natural functions and passions nearly the same; their viscera nearly the same, both in substance, shape, and office: digestion, nutrition, circulation, secretion, go on, in a similar manner, in all the great circulating fluid is the same; for, I think no difference has been discovered in the properties of blood, from whatever animal it be drawn. The experiment of transfusion proves that the blood of one animal will serve for another. The skeletons also of the larger terrestrial ani- THE proof of the divine goodness rests upon mals, show particular varieties, but still under a two propositions: each, as we contend, capable of great general affinity. The resemblance is some-being made out by observations drawn from the what less, yet sufficiently evident between quadrupeds and birds. They are all alike in five respects, for one in which they differ.
The Goodness of the Deity.
appearances of nature.
The first is, "that, in a vast plurality of instances in which contrivance is perceived, the design of the contrivance is beneficial."
The second, "that the Deity has superadded ana-pleasure to animal sensations, beyond what was necessary for any other purpose, or when the purpose, so far as it was necessary, might have been effected by the operation of pain."
First, "In a vast plurality of instances in which contrivance is perceived, the design of the contrivance is beneficial."
In fish, which belong to another department, as it were, of nature, the points of comparison become fewer. But we never lose sight of our logy, e. g. we still meet with a stomach, a liver, a spine; with bile and blood; with teeth; with eyes, (which eyes are only slightly varied from our own, and which variation in truth demonstrates not an interruption, but a continuance of the same exquisite plan; for it is the adaptation of the organ to the element, viz. to the different refraction of No productions of nature display contrivance so light passing into the eye out of a denser me- manifestly as the parts of animals; and the parts dium.) The provinces, also, themselves of water of animals have all of them, I believe, a real, and, and earth, are connected by the species of animals with very few exceptions, all of them a known and which inhabit both; and also by a large tribe of intelligible, subserviency to the use of the animal. aquatic animals which closely resemble the terres-Now, when the multitude of animals is considertrial in their internal structure; I mean the ceta-ed, the number of parts in each, their figure and ceous tribe, which have hot blood, respiring lungs, fitness, the faculties depending upon them, the bowels, and other essential parts, like those of land variety of species, the complexity of structure, the animals. This similitude, surely, bespeaks the success, in so many cases, and felicity of the resame creation and the same Creator. sult, we can never reflect, without the profoundest adoration, upon the character of that Being from whom all these things have proceeded; we cannot help acknowledging, what an exertion of benevolence creation was; of a benevolence how minute in its care, how vast in its comprehension!
Insects and shell-fish appear to me to differ from other classes of animals the most widely of any. Yet even here, beside many points of particular resemblance, there exists a general relation of a peculiar kind. It is the relation of inversion; the law of contrariety: namely, that, whereas, in other animals, the bones, to which the muscles are When we appeal to the parts and faculties of attached, lie within the body; in insects and shell-animals, and to the limbs and senses of animals in fish, they lie on the outside of it. The shell of particular, we state, I conceive, the proper medium a lobster performs to the animal the office of a of proof for the conclusion which we wish to es bone, by furnishing to the tendons that fixed basis tablish. I will not say, that the insensible parts or immoveable fulcrum, without which, mechani- of nature are made solely for the sensitive parts: cally, they could not act. The crust of an insect but this I say, that, when we consider the beneveis its shell, and answers the like purpose. The lence of the Deity, we can only consider it in reshell also of an oyster stands in the place of a bone; lation to sensitive being. Without this reference, the bases of the muscles being fixed to it, in the or referred to any thing else, the attribute has no same manner as, in other animals, they are fixed object: the term has no meaning. Dead matter to the bones. All which (under wonderful varie- is nothing. The parts, therefore, especially the ties, indeed, and adaptations of form,) confesses an limbs and senses, of animals, although they conimitation, a remembrance, a carrying on of the stitute, in mass and quantity, a small portion of same plan. the material creation, yet, since they alone are in
The observations here made, are equally appli-struments of perception, they compose what may cable to plants; but, I think, unnecessary to be be called the whole of visible nature, estimated pursued. It is a very striking circumstance, and with a view to the disposition of its Author. alone sufficient to prove all which we contend for, Consequently, it is in these that we are to seek his
delighted with being able to speak. Its incessant
character. It is by these that we are to prove, I
The young of all animals appear to me to receive pleasure simply from the exercise of their limbs and bodily faculties, without reference to any end to be attained, or any use to be answered by the exertion. A child, without knowing any thing of the use of language, is in a high degree | ter, p. 317.
*Father's Instructions; by Dr. Percival of Manches
What is seen in different stages of the same very diffusion, its commonness, its cheapness; by life, is still more exemplified in the lives of difler- its falling to the lot, and forming the happiness, ent animals. Animal enjoyments are infinitely of the great bulk and body of our species, as well diversified. The modes of life, to which the or- as of ourselves. Nay, even when we do not posganization of different animals respectively deter-sess it, it ought to be matter of thankfulness that mines them, are not only of various but of oppo- others do. But we have a different way of thinksite kinds. Yet each is happy in its own. For ing. We court distinction. That is not the instance: animals of prey live much alone; ani- worst; we see nothing but what has distinction to mals of a milder constitution, in society. Yet the recommend it. This necessarily contracts our herring, which lives in shoals, and the sheep, views of the Creator's beneficence within a narwhich lives in flocks, are not more happy in a row compass; and most unjustly. It is in those crowd, or more contented amongst their compa- things which are so common as to be no distinenions, than is the pike, or the lion, with the deep tion, that the amplitude of the divine benignity is solitudes of the pool, or the forest. perceived.
But pain, no doubt, and privations exist, in nu
But it will be said, that the instances which we have here brought forward, whether of viva-merous instances, and to a degree, which, collectcity or repose, or of apparent enjoyment derived ively, would be very great, if they were compared from either, are picked and favourable instances. with any other thing than with the mass of aniWe answer, first, that they are instances, never- mal fruition. For the application, therefore, of theless, which comprise large provinces of sensi- our proposition to that mixed state of things which tive existence; that every case which we have de- these exceptions induce, two rules are necessary, scribed, is the case of millions. At this moment, and both, I think, just and fair rules. One is, in every given moment of time, how many myri- that we regard those effects alone which are acads of animals are eating their food, gratifying companied with proofs of intention: the other, that their appetites, ruminating in their holes, ac- when we cannot resolve all appearances into benecomplishing their wishes, pursuing their pleasures, volence of design, we make the few give place to taking their pastimes? In each individual, how the many; the little to the great; that we take our many things must go right for it to be at ease; judgment from a large and decided preponderancy, yet how large a proportion out of every species is so if there be one. in every assignable instant! Secondly, we contend in the terms of our original proposition, that throughout the whole of life, as it is diffused in nature, and as far as we are acquainted with it, looking to the average of sensations, the plurality and the preponderancy is in favour of happiness by a vast excess. In our own species, in which perhaps the assertion may be more questionable than in any other, the prepollency of good over evil, of health, for example, and ease, over pain and distress, is evinced by the very notice which calamities excite. What inquiries does the sickness of our friends produce! what conversation their misfortunes! This shows that the common course of things is in favour of happiness; that happiness is the rule, misery the exception. Were the order reversed, our attention would be called to examples of health and competency, instead of disease and want.
I crave leave to transcribe into this place, what I have said upon this subject in my Moral Philosophy:
"When God created the human species, either he wished their happiness, or he wished their misery, or he was indifferent and unconcerned about either.
"If he had wished our misery, he might have made sure of his purpose, by forming our senses to be so many sores and pains to us, as they are now instruments of gratification and enjoyment: or by placing us amidst objects, so ill suited to our perceptions as to have continually offended us, instead of ministering to our refreshment and delight. He might have made, for example, every thing we tasted, bitter; every thing we saw, loathsome; every thing we touched, a sting; every smell, a stench; and every sound, a discord.
"If he had been indifferent about our happi
One great cause of our insensibility to the good-ness or misery, we must impute to our good forness of the Creator, is the very extensiveness of tune (as all design by this supposition is excluded) his bounty. We prize but little what we share both the capacity of our senses to receive pleasure, only in common with the rest, or with the gene- and the supply of external objects fitted to prorality of our species. When we hear of blessings, duce it. we think forthwith of successes, of prosperous fortunes, of honours, riches, preferments, i. e. of those advantages and superiorities over others, which we happen either to possess, or to be in pursuit of, or to covet. The common benefits of our nature entirely escape us. Yet these are the great things. These constitute what most properly ought to be accounted blessings of Providence; what alone, if we might so speak, are worthy of its care. Nightly rest and daily bread, the ordinary use of our limbs, and senses, and understandings, are gifts which admit of no comparison with any other. Yet, because almost every man we meet with possesses these, we leave them out of our enumeration. They raise no sentiment; they move no gratitude. Now, herein is our judgment perverted by our selfishness. A blessing ought in truth to be the more satisfactory, the bounty at least of the donor is rendered more conspicuous, by its
But either of these, and still more both of them, being too much to be attributed to accident, nothing remains but the first supposition, that God, when he created the human species, wished their happiness; and made for them the provision which he has made, with that view and for that purpose.
"The same argument may be proposed in different terms; thus: Contrivance proves design: and the predominant tendency of the contrivance indicates the disposition of the designer. The world abounds with contrivances: and all the contrivances which we are acquainted with, are directed to beneficial purposes. Evil, no doubt, exists; but is never, that we can perceive, the object of contrivance. Teeth are contrived to eat, not to ache; their aching now and then is incidental to the contrivance, perhaps inseparable from it: or even, if you will, let it be called a de