« ÎnapoiContinuați »
can satisfactorily explain the various and wonderful phænomena in nature; because they are inost consoling in themselves, and most correspondent with the existence and state of moral agents.
From the many arguments with which they support these doctrines, we shall select the following
When we contemplate the Universe, we contemplate a most extensive, curious, and complicated system, which bears innumerable marks of design in its conformation ; and as naturally suggests the idea of a designing cause, as any wellcontrived machine of human construction, indicates a contriver. Nor would it be more ab. surd to deny design, in the latter case, than it is in the former, were the nature of the workmanship found, upon comparison, to be merely equal. If therefore, the former be infinitely more surprising, extensive, complicated, and effective, than the latter, the absurdity of the denial is proportionably increased. It is irrational to acknowledge an intelligent cause in the formation of an Orrery, and refuse it to the formation of heavenly bodies, which it so imperfectly represents.
The more we contemplate the system of nature, and the more intimate our acquaintance becomes with its different parts, the more forcibly are we struck with indications of design; of wisdom in the plan, power in the execution, goodness in the object; and the more are our evidences multiplied, of the existence of a designing Cause, who is wise, powerful, and good.
As the inanimate creation indicates a certain arrangement of different and heterogeneous materials, endowed with various properties, correspondent to the rank in which they exist, and contributing to the unity of the whole; and as these materials contain no marks of self-existence, or of natural activity, it is rational to consider the material world as a production ; and as the production of a cause distinct from, and superior to itself.
As organized bodies, both vegetable and animal, manifest a vitality, which is not necessarily inherent in matter; as they are endowed with numerous diversities and gradations in powers and faculties, which have no affinity with the accidental arrangements of matter, it is most rational to ascribe their existence to higher origin.
- The perpetual changes that take place in the material world; the production, dissolution, and re-production, of animal and vegetablelife, demonstrate that E. inity does not necessarily belong to them; and that the ascription of this attribute to them is arbitrary and conjectural. If they be not eternal, from a necessity of nature, they must have a cause prior to themselves. Notwithstanding the most extended concatiņation that may exist in the series of productions, effects succeeding to their causes through incalculable ages, yet the mind must ultimately repose itself in a first Cause; who, being uncaused, must exist from eternity, If matter have no apparent claim to existence from eternity, of which there is not one vestige in its nature, and if it could not create itself, it must have received its existence from a Being, whose nature is different and superior.
To a Being who exists, distinct from and superior to matter, we ascribe the attribute of Spirituality.
All material forms depend upon the
arrangement of their parts, and the dissolution of these
forms proceeds from the dissolution of their parts; the Being, therefore, who is superior to matter, not consisting of parts, must possess a nature free from dissolution. No supposable change can alter his mode of existence, or dissolve his being : therefore, no law of his nature can prevent his being eternally as he is.
By ascribing the works of creation to this uncaused Being, we acknowledge that he possesses power equal to the production ; the marks of design stamped upon the works of creation, indicate that this powerful Agent is not an unmeaning, unintelligent Agent, but that he must possess wisdom and knowledge, equal to the undertaking.
This intelligent Cause, not being subjected to any
of the laws of that matter which he himself created ; nor to any superior power, for all power is an emanation from him; and not being necessitated to exist in one part of boundless space, more than in another, there can be no natural impediment to his omnipresence. If creation imply the operative presence of the creator, and if created beings exist through the infinitude of space, his presence must be universal.
His knowledge accompanying all his works, and these being infinite, he must be omniscient.
When we contemplate the wonderful adaptation of various parts of the system to each other, and the harmonious result which characterizes the whole, our minds are deeply impressed with the marks of wisdom and active intelligence, inscribed upon every part, which fully manifest an unity in the whole. The more extensive our knowledge is of the productions in nature, the more extensive does his Wisdom appear; and if we have reason to conclude, that these are infinite, we must infer that his wisdom is infinite also.
In like manner, wherever we remark that the exertions of power, and the execution of plans, indicate some useful purpose, we form conceptions of that wisdom which not merely indicates skill, but which manifests Goodness. We conclude that the Being who forms purposes of good, must possess a goodness of character. The more these purposes are displayed in the diversities of