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THE HONOURABLE AND RIGHT REVEREND
SHUTE BARRINGTON, LL.D.
LORD BISHOP OF DURHAM.
The following work was undertaken at your lordship’s recommendation, and, amongst other motives, for the purpose of making the most acceptable return that I could, for a great and important benefit conferred upon me.
It may be unnecessary, yet not perhaps quite impertinent, to state to your lordship, and to the reader, the several inducements that have led me once more to the press. The favour of my first and ever honoured patron had put me in possession of so liberal a provision in the church, as abundantly to satisfy my wants, and much to exceed my pretensions. Your lordship’s munificence, in conjunction with that of some other excellent prelates, who regarded my services with the partiality with which your lordship was pleased to consider them, hath since placed me in ecclesiastical situations more than adequate to every object of reasonable ambition. In the meantime, a weak, and, of late, a painful state of health, deprived me of the power of discharging the duties of my station in a manner at all suitable, either to my sense of those duties, or to my most anxious wishes concerning them. My inability for the public functions of my profession, amongst other consequences, left me much at leisure. That leisure was not to be lost. It was only in my study that I could repair my deficiencies in the church : it was only through the press that I could speak. These circumstances entitled your lordship in particular to call upon me for the only species of exertion of which I was capable, and disposed me without hesitation to obey the call in the best manner that I could.
In the choice of a subject, I had no place left for doubt; in saying which I do not so much refer, either to the supreme importance of the subject, or to any scepticism concerning it with which the present times are charged, as I do to its connexion with the subjects treated of in my former publications. The following discussion alone was wanted to make up my works into a system ; in which works, such as they are, the public have now before them the evidences of Natural Religion, the evidences of Revealed Religion, and an account of the duties that result from both. It is of small importance that they have been written in an order the very reverse of that in which they ought to be read. I commend, therefore, the present volume to your lordship's protection, not only as, in all probability, my last labour, but as the completion of a regular and comprehensive design.
Hitherto, my lord, I have been speaking of myself, and not of my patron. Your lordship wants not the testimony of a dedication, nor any testimony from me; I consult, therefore, the impulse of my own mind alone when I declare, that in no respect has my intercourse with your lordship been more gratifying to me than in the opportunities which it has afforded me of observing your earnest, active, and unwearied solicitude for the advancement of substantial Christianity; a solicitude, nevertheless, accompanied with that candour of mind which suffers no subordinate differences of opinion, when there is a coincidence in the main intention and object, to produce any alienation of esteem, or diminution of favour. It is fortunate for a country and honourable to its government, when qualities and dispositions like these are placed in high and influencing stations. Such is the sincere judgement which I have formed of your lordship's character, and of its public value: my personal obligations I can never forget. Under a due sense of both these considerations, I beg leave to subscribe myself, with great respect and gratitude,
And most devoted servant,
WILLIAM PALEY. Bishop WEARMOUTH,
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 shew the absurdity of this answer.
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) com
municating 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 fusee 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 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 ip 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 pevious 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 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 show 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 connexion 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 mecha