« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
STATE OF THE ARGUMENT.
IN crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked 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 show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired 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 admissible 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 discover 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 different parts had been differently shaped from what they are, of a different size from what they are, 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 flexible 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 fusce 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
• Natural Theology is a branch of our reasoned know
Not of myself;-by some great Maker then,
for it was by modern ingenuity, by modern logic, that it was suggested that universal beauty might occur by chance-universal contrivance have had no designer-and universal order exist without a regulator.
In the oldest existing writings there were no such deductions as these their authors in their simplicity, or if you will, in their ignorance, concluded that all things must have had a creator, and that if they are always beauteous, abounding in intricacies, yet never running into disorder, that that creator must be all-wise and all powerful. Thus in two writings allowed to be three thousand years old, it is said, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handy-work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night
Such would be the conclusion of an innocent mind; showeth knowledge." "O Lord, how manifold are thy
wheels are made of brass in order 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 instrument, 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
works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches," (Psalms, xix. and civ.) "The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew," (Proverbs, iii. See also the five last chapters of Job.) Now it is true that since those days our knowledge has been continually on the increase-anatomy, chemistry, astronomy, geology, and botany, have since then grown into sciences; but do the discoveries that have been made in each at all tend to disprove the existence of a Creator? Do they not, on the contrary, all unite in showing that the whole creation is more complicate, more teeming with wondrous contrivances, than was suspected by the wisdom of the writers of those books? Have not the same order, the same beauties, recurred with changeless regularity during the thousands of years that have elapsed since they passed to their graves? If so and the answer must be in the affirmative then have we more causes than they to perceive and to admire the Creator, in the things created.
Neither are we better qualified than those writers to judge of the legitimate inferences. They, to employ one of Paley's illustrations, were as capable then to conclude as we are, that every watch must have had a maker. This is one of those self-evident conclusions that it would be ridiculous to set about proving, if to deny it had not, under another form, been part of the credulity of scepticism.
Since the period in which those writings were composed unto the present time, every age, and every civilised nation, has produced authors who have perceived the Creator in the wonders of the material world.
The most ancient philosophers, however much they differed in opinion as to the eternity of matter, almost unanimously agreed in ascribing the creation of the world to God. Mercurius Trismegistus speaks of the Deity as "the original of the world;" Homer denominates him as "the great artificer—the maker of the world;" Aristotle, as "the apparent cause of all things." "The world," said Plato, "is the most excellent of all created beings the world was made by God." The belief of the ancient heathens in a constant and particular providence, is demonstrated by the whole of their mythology. The mathematical regularity of the heavenly bodies convinced them that the power and wisdom of a God is there, and they presented their grateful offerings to Phœbus, to Luna, and other deities, whom their mundane notions of a God conceived necessary for the tutelage of the planets. The same finite notions attended their other acknowledgments of a particular providence; the seasons, the earth, the winds, the flowers, every good gift, every personal endowment, had a presiding Deity assigned, whose favour they endeavoured to propitiate, and whose supposed anger they strove to assuage. They had no idea of chance having to do with the creation or preservation of the world; the husbandman thanked Ceres for his bounteous harvests; and the gardeners of Pæstum bowed down to Flora for blessing their roses: the soldier implored the aid of Mars in the days of battle; the mariner committed himself to the care of Neptune; the convaloscent offered up their hymns of thanks in the temple
of Hygeia; and the diseased, for relief, performed sacrifices upon the altar of Esculapius.
In later days men have appeared professing to doubt the existence of a Great First Cause, or Creator; and it is to be lamented that they had, and have, many disciples. It is not for us in this place to dwell upon the biographies of such men, nor upon the fruits of their creed; because, though bad moralists, bad relatives, and bad citizens, philosophically considered that is no refutation of their tenets. To controvert these, many works have been written, but none that have obtained such celebrity as those of Ray, Derham, and Paley. Since these have appeared, science has every day yielded some discovery, marking forcibly the wisdom that directed the creation; and to strengthen with these the testimonies collected by our author, has been the wish, as it has been the delight, of the editors. They hope it has not been a needless effort. It was Paley's design to throw a concentrated light upon each subject, and they have only endeavoured to add a few fresh rays.
Some may suggest that that which is already sufficient, need be added to no farther; and if the object of Natural Theology was satisfied as soon as it had demonstrated the agency of God, we should readily acquiesce in the restriction. But this science, this corollary of the sciences, is not concluded by that demonstration. The age is passed when man was privileged so far as to hold converse with his Maker; but Natural Theology restores us as far as is permitted to that blessing from which we are fallen. Though we are not permitted to walk with Him in the garden, yet it enables us to trace the marks of his footsteps. Every such discovery brings with it not only the pleasure that accompanies the acquirement of all knowledge, but the pleasure that attends the best of all wisdom the knowledge of God. The proficient in Natural Theology may fully adopt the eloquent address of the psalmist," Whither shall I go from thy spirit? whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there; if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there." Of such knowledge there can be no satiety. We are never wearied of hearing fresh reports of the wisdom and power of our friends. Now we have no friend equal to God.
Natural Theology also is the firm the constant ally of the Christian dispensation. The claim of revelation to universal acceptance is founded upon its being the will of God. The first logical step is therefore to establish his existence. Some minds have a happy facility of belief requiring no such demonstration; they look round upon creation, and require no arguments to prove that it had a maker. Others are constitutionally doubters, require every obstacle to be beaten down in the pathway to conviction, and the far greater portion of mankind are troubled by difficulties that appear in this most important of inquiries. Morcover every one, in the course of social intercourse, meets with those who impugn the grounds of his belief; to such persons it is important to have an unrefutable reply; important, for the sake of the objector, important for the mental quietude of the believer. With this the apostle was convincingly impressed, when he wrote, "Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you."
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 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.
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.
III. 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 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 a different structure.
V. 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.
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 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.
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.
STATE OF THE ARGUMENT CONTINUED.
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 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 laths, 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.
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, 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.
II. 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 would 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, viz. the corn is ground. But the effect results from the arrangement. 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 corn; yet is the 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,
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 a 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 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.
IV. Nor is any thing gained by running the difficulty farther back, i. e. 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 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, 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, towards 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 towards a diminution of this necessity It is the same with any and every succession of these machines; a succession of ten, 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