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This topic dilated on. If then, as Plutarch observes, no fair thing is ever produced by hazard, but with art framing it; how could this most fair comprehension of all fair things be, not the lawful issue of art, but a by-blow of fortune; of fortune, the mother only of broods monstrous and misshapen” If the nature of any cause be discoverable by its effects; if from any work we may infer the workman's ability; if in any case the results of wisdom are distinguishable from the consequences of chance; we have reason to believe that the Architect of this magnificent frame was one incomprehensibly wise, powerful, and good Being. Conclusion.
famimean to o, without ing a deep asy attention : ; for instance,
THE BEING OF GOD PROVED FROM THE
JEREMIAH, CHAP. LI.-VERSE 15.
He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding.
The attentive observation of this world, or visible frame, is not only in itself a most worthy employment of our thoughts, (much more noble than any of those petty cares, which commonly possess or distract our minds,) but, if either the example of the best men, or the great usefulness thereof, to the best purposes, can oblige us, even a considerable duty not to be neglected by us. For it is that which affords most cogent and satisfactory arguments to convince us of, and to confirm usin, the belief of that truth which is the foundation of all religion and piety, the being of one God, incomprehensibly excellent in all perfections, the maker and upholder of all things; it instructs us not only that God is, but more distinctly shows what he is: declaring his chief and peculiar attributes of wisdom, goodness, and power superlative; it also serves to beget in our minds affections toward God, suitable to those notions; a reverent adoration of his unsearchable wisdom; an awful dread of his powerful majesty; a grateful love of his gracious benignity and goodness: to these uses we find it applied by the best men, not
only by the wisest philosophers among heathens, but by the holy prophets of God; who frequently harp on this string, and make sweetest melody thereon; exciting both in themselves and others, pious thoughts and holy devotions therewith ; strengthening their faith in God; advancing their reverence toward him; quickening and inflaming their love of him; magnifying his glory and praise thereby; by the consideration, I say, of those wonderful effects discernible in nature, or appearing to us in this visible world. And if ever to imitate them herein were necessary, it seems to be so now, when a pretence to natural knowlege, and acquaintance with these things, hath been so much abused to the promoting of atheism and irreligion; when that instrument which was chiefly designed, and is of itself most apt, to bring all reasonable creatures to the knowlege, and to the veneration of their Maker, hath (in a method most preposterous and unnatural) been perverted to contrary ends and effects. To the preventing and removing which abuse, as every man should contribute what he can, so let me be allowed to endeavor somewhat toward it, by representing briefly what my meditation did suggest, serving to declare that (as the prophet asserts, or implies in the words I read) even in this visible world there are manifest tokens, or footsteps, by which we may discover it to be the work, or product, of one Being, incomprehensibly wise, powerful, and good; to whom, consequently, we must owe the highest respect and love, all possible worship and service. Of these footsteps, or signs, there be innumerably many, which, singly taken, do discover such perfections to be concerned in the production of them; the relation of several to each other do more strongly and plainly confirm the same; the connection and correspondence of all together doth still add force and evidence thereto, each attesting to the existence of those perfections, all conspiring to declare them concentred and united in one Cause and Being. I. View we first, singly, those things, which are most familiar and obvious to our senses, (for only some such I mean to consider, such as any man awake, and in his senses, without any study or skill more than ordinary, without being a deep philosopher or a curious virtuoso, may with an easy attention observe and discern;) view we such objects, I say; for instance, first, those plants we every day do see, smell, and taste: Have not that number, that figure, that order, that temperament, that whole contexture and contemperation of parts we discern in them, a manifest relation to those operations they perform 7 Were not such organs so fashioned, and so situated, and so tempered, and in all respects so fitted, some of them in order to the successive propagation of them, (that they might in kind never fail or perish, but in that respect become as it were immortal;) some in regard to their present nutrition and maintenance, (that the individuals themselves might not, before their due period of subsistence run through, be spent, or destroyed;) some for shelter and defence against all sort of causes prejudicial to either of those continuances in being respectively; to omit those, which serve for grace and ornament? (Do not, I say, the seed most evidently respect the propagation of the kind; the root the drawing of nourishment, the nervous filaments the conveyance of that; the skin or bark, the keeping all together close and safe; the husks and shells, preservation of the seed; the leaves, defence of the fruit?) That such a constitution of parts is admirably fit for such purposes, we cannot be so stupid as not to perceive ; we cannot but observe it necessary, for that by detraction, or altering any of them, we obstruct those effects. Whence then, I inquire, could that fitness proceed from chance, or casual motions of matter? But is it not repugnant to the name and nature of chance, that any thing regular or constant should arise from it? that by it causes vastly many in number and different in quality, (such as are the ingredients into the frame of the least organ in a plant,) should not once, not sometimes, not often only, but always, in one continual unaltered method concur to the same end and effect, (to the same useful end, to the same handsome effect 2) Are not confusion, disparity, deformity, unaccountable change and variety, the proper issues of chance?" It is Aristotle's discourse: ‘That one or two things,’ saith he, “should happen to be in the same manner, is not unreasonable to suppose; but that all things should conspire by chance, it looks like a fiction to conceive : what is universal and perpetual cannot result from
chance.” “We can only,” saith he again, “with good reason assert, or suppose such causes of things, as we see generally or frequently to occur.” Now did we ever observe (or ever any man through the whole course of times) any new thing like or comparable to any of these, to spring up casually 7 Do we not with admiration regard (as a thing very rare and unaccountable) in other pieces of matter any gross resemblance to these, that seemeth to arise from contingent motions and occurrences of bodies? If chance hath formerly produced such things, how comes it, that it doth not sometime now produce the like; whence becomes it for so many ages altogether impotent and idle 2 Is it not the same kind of cause ! hath it not the same instruments to work with, and the same materials to work on 2 The truth is, as it doth not now, so it did not, it could not ever produce such effects; such effects are plainly improper and incongruous to such a cause: chance never writ a legible book; chance never built a fair house; chance never drew a neat picture; it never did any of these things, nor ever will; nor can be without absurdity supposed able to do them; which yet are works very gross and rude, very easy and feasible, as it were, in comparison to the production of a flower or a tree. It is not therefore reasonable to ascribe those things to chance: to what then 2 will you say, to necessity ? If you do, you do only alter the phrase; for necessary causality (as applicable to this case, and taken without relation to some wisdom or counsel that established it) is but another name for chance; they both are but several terms denoting blindness and unadvisedness in action; both must imply a fortuitous determination of causes, acting without design or rule. A fortuitous determination, I say; for motions of matter, not guided by art or counsel, must be in their rise fortuitous, (insomuch as that according to the nature of the thing there is no repugnance, and we may easily conceive it possible that the matter might have been moved otherwise; there being therein no principle originally determining it to this more than to that sort of motion;) and the same motions in their process must be determinate, because in their subject there is no principle, whereby it can alter its course.
* Arist. de Coelo, ii. 8.