Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

!

he remarks, Behold the fowls of the air, for they fow not, neither do they reap, neither

gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? In another place, he says, Are not five Sparrows sold for two farthings ? and not one of them is forgotten before God. Ye are of more value than many Sparrowed. In these instances his inference is drawn from this consideration, that if the meaner parts of the creation be not beneath the immediate and constant care of the Creator, we may conclude, that beings who hold a superior rank must be proportionably greater objects of heavenly regard.

I shall therefore, in the first place, endeavour to support the doctrine of a superintending first Cause, in opposition to those opinions which have a tendency to attribute all the order and beauty of the creation to second causes.

I shall then shew, that second causes are not independent of the first, because they exhibit marks of subordination; and that there are relations and analogies throughout nature, which prove that all effects proceed from one and the same origin, and contribute to promote one grand and complete design,

d-Lukc xii. 6.7.

Modern sceptics have attempted to refer the admirable contrivance of the Deity, for the preservation of all created matter, to voluntary efforts of nature towards perfection, by gradual advance. But who does not perceive, that to attribute productive powers to second causes is to render the final cause of less importance; and if created matter can act by principles that are in themselves efficient and independent of the great Author of nature, then his care be. comes less necessary, and the doctrine of a particular providence, the first and the best ground of support under adversity, is annihilated or weakened. The doctrine before us is a modification of the atomical system. It supposes certain particles of matter to exist, endowed with peculiar propensities, which, however shapeless at first, yet, by continued appetence and action, acquire organization and forms, though by an almost imperceptible process. It is admitted, that this change may be the work of indefinite ages, as these philosophers believe the world to be of a much longer date than revelation assures us, for they regard the wisdom which is from above with perfect indifference. They consider a succession of thousands of ages as favourable to their plan. They adopt the old opinion of the eternity of matter,

us,

and of a circle of revolving years, in which all things fade and revive again and again. Having advanced the existence of prolific fibres, they suppose them by continual efforts and action to arrive at length to a state of being continually capable of further perfection. But it is absurd to admit, that matter can become organized by volition. On the contrary, the volition and the power of action would rather naturally succeed organization. True philofophy, with more pretensions to credit, shews

that all created beings have come from the hands of their Maker exactly provided with such means of increase and preservation as he intended; and though by exercise those powers may be developed and expanded, yet that they can no more add of themfelves to their capacities, than the sea can by its own efforts increase the quantity of its fluid; or matter, independent of fixed laws or the will of the Creator, augment

of attraction. The ad. vocates of this doctrine have confounded a principle of self-preservation with that of advancement or production. The Almighty, for instance, has endowed the whole system of nature with some faculties of renovation or of reftitution, within prescribed limits, but has placed impaffable boundaries to the perfection

its power

of his admirable works. In a mutable state of things, it is impossible but that accident must injure the most perfect; and to repair these probable or possible injuries, nature is undeniably poffefsed of certain capabilities ; but these are absolutely limited. In the animal world we find provisions for supply in case of injury or loss. If in animals a bone be broken, nature is provided with matter to form a callous, which serves to reunite and strengthen the injured part. An animal oil is constantly supplied to lubricate the joints ; and to restore the perpetual waste of the solids or the fluids there is a constant renovating principle. In the vegetable kingdom this principle is variously exhibited. Plants have other methods of increase beside that of the feed. Some are increased by the separation of the root, of the branches, or even buds; which then become new plants, and in this resemble the inferior tribes of animal life, such as the polypi. Some plants send forth suckers, by which they become multiplied; some increase by their very leaves, or what may seem to be equivocally leaves or branches; but it is evident that no animal or vegetable genus, since it came from the hands of its Maker, has increased the number of its parts or faculties. There can be no truth more clearly established, than that God has fixed to all nature, as to the waves of the ocean, bounds which they never shall pass. That the works of the creation are governed by laws impressed on them by the Almighty, and not by any partial faculties of their own, must be apparent from the great frugality, and the whole course of nature. Throughout the system of created things there evidently appears one regular design; and, however the Deity in his infinite wisdom may be pleased to make occasional deviations, yet these are still subservient to a general and uniform fimplicity.

Were matter capable of self-organization, besides the deficiencies, which would inevitably be considerable, unless it were poffeffed both of prescience and supreme power, there would be great incongruity and contrariety in the feveral parts of the same animal or vegetable. Animated forms could not be supported, because they would be defective in necessary and indispensable organs; the process of vegetation would be interrupted in plants from a similar deficiency. Now, though there is much diversity in the corporeal structure of animals, and great variety in the forms and habits of vegetables, yet these phenomena are all redu

« ПредишнаНапред »