« 前へ次へ »
the mind perceives, that an effect supposes a cause; that an action implies an agent; and that appearances of design and contrivance in any production, with a view to some end, are unquestionable indications of the existence of some being, who was possessed of intelligence and skill equal to the effect produced. Nor can all the subtleties of metaphysical sophistry destroy the perception which the mind has of these relations, or render their existence problematical. The most uncultivated understanding must see, and the most ingenious sceptic will find it impossible, on any ground of solid argument, to deny, that every work which bears evident marks of design, and is adapted to answer some purpose, must be produced by an intelligent cause.
Apply this obvious principle to the great operations of nature. Observe, for example, the structure and growth of a plant. Remark the variety of delicate fibres of which it is composed, the distinct forms of the several parts, their mutual relations, the regular and complete whole which is produced by their combination, and the provision which is made for their production, nourishmentand growth. Contemplate the amazing diversity of genera and species, and the nice gradations from one genus, and from one species, to another, which the scientific study of this part of nature has discovered. From the vegetable, turn your attention to the animal world, and observe, displayed in a still more wonderful manner, perfection of form, variety of species, and mutual relation and dependance. Behold every animal provided with abundant inter
nal sources, and external means, of life and enjoyment. Survey the curious structure of that complex machine an animal body, in which the several parts are exactly adjusted to each other, and combined in the most perfect harmony, to carry on the several functions of animal life. Recollect, that combinations of these materials, similar in the great outline, but infinitely diversified in the subordinate parts, form that countless multitude of animals which people the earth.
After this general review of the productions of nature, let reason judge, whether such regular, yet diversified forms could be produced, without the agency of a designing intelligence. If the ear be admirably constructed for hearing, and the eye for seeing, the ear and the eye were surely form, ed by a Being who intended that animals should hear and see—that is, are the effect of an intelligent cause. It should seem impossible to observe, in these and other instances, the tendencies of the various parts of nature to accomplish certain ends, without the fullest conviction, that there is some active Power or Being, by whom these ends are perceived, and who conducts the operations of nature with the intention of accomplishing them. Upon every page in the volume of nature, is written, in characters which all may read and understand, this great truth, THERE IS A Gop.
THE HEAVENS DECLARE A DEITY. TÆe heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handy work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out throngh all the earth, and their words to the end of the world : in them has he set a tabernacle for the sun: which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it; and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
A DEITY PROVED FROM THE CREATION AND PRE
SERVATION OF THE WORLD, AND THE GENERAL CONSENT OF MANKIND.
The being of a God is one of those truths which scarcely require proof. A proof seems rather an injury, as it supposes doubt. However, as young minds, though not sceptical, are uninformed; it may not be improper to select out of the variety of arguments, which evince this great truth, two or three of the most simple.
We prove the being of a God, first from the creation of the world.
The world must have been produced either by design or by chance. No other mode of origin
can be supposed. Let us see then with which of these characters it is impressed.
The characteristic of the works of design, is a relation of parts, in order to produce an endThe characteristic of the works of chance, is just the reverse. When we see stones, answering each other, laid in the form of a regular building, we immediately say, they were put together by design: but when we see them thrown about in a disorderly heap, we say as confidently, they have been thrown so by chance.
Now, in the world, and all its appendages, there is plainly this appearance of design. One part relates to another; and the whole together produces an end. The sun, for instance, is connected with the earth, by warming it into a proper heat, for the production of its fruits; and furnishing it with rain and dew. The earth again is connected with all the vegetables which it produces, by providing them with proper soils, and juices for their nourishment. These again are connected with animals, by supplying them with food. And the whole together produces the great end of sustaining the lives of innumerable creatures.
Nor is design shown only in the grand fabric of the world, and all its relative appendages : it is equally shown in every part. It is seen in every animal, adapted in all its peculiarities to its proper mode of life. It is seen in every vegetable, furnished with parts exactly suited to its situation. In the least, as well as in the greatest of nature's productions, it is every where apparent. The little creeper upon the wall, extending its tenacious fibres, draws nourishment from the crannies of the stones, and flourishes where no other plant could live.
If then the world, and every part of it, are thus marked with the characters of design, there can be no difficulty in acknowledging the Author of such design, of such amazing contrivance and variety, to be a Being of infinite wisdom and power. We call a man ingenious, who makes even a common globe, with all the parts of the earth delineated upon it. What shall we say then of the Author of the great original itself, in all its grandeur, and furnished with all its various inhabitants ?
The argument drawn from the preservation of the world, is indeed rather the last argument advanced a step further.
If chance could be supposed to produce a regular form, yet it is certainly beyond the highest degree of credulity, to suppose it could continue this regularity for any time. But we find it has been continued; we find, that near six thousand years have made no change in the order and harmony of the world. The sun's action upon the earth hath ever been regular. The production of trees, plants, and herbs, hath ever been uniform. Every seed produces now the same fruit it ever did. Every species of animal life is still the same.
Could chance continue this regillar arrangement? Could any thing continue it, but the hand of an omnipotent God?
Lastly, we see this great truth, the being of a God, witnessed by the general consent of mankind. This general consent must arise either