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they had lurked before in the day-time in holes and bushes and grass, and were then invited abroad by the freshness of a shower. And by this time we may understand, what credit and authority those old stories ought to have about the monstrous productions in Egypt after the inundation of the Nile, of mice and frogs and serpents, half flesh and half mud; nay, of the legs, and arms, and other limbs of men, et quicquid Græcia mendax; altogether as true as what is seriously related by Helmont, that foul linen, stopped in a vessel that hath wheat in it, will in twenty-one days time turn the wheat into mice: which one may guess to have been the philosophy and information of some housewife, who had not so carefully covered her wheat but that the mice could come at it, and were there taken napping, just when they had made an end of their cheer. Corn is so innocent from this calumny of breeding of mice, that it doth not produce the very weevils that live in it and consume it; the whole course of whose generation and periodical changes hath been curiously observed and described by the ingenious Lewenhoeck. And, moreover, that we may deprive the Atheist of all hopes and pretensions of argument from this baffled opinion of equivocal insects, we will acquaint him from the most accurate observations of Swammerdam, that even the supposed change of worms into flies is no real transmutation; but that most of those members, which at last become visible to the eye, are existent at the beginning, artificially complicated together, and covered with membranes and tunicles, which are afterwards stript off and laid aside: and all the rest of that process is no more surprising than the eruption of horns in some brutes, or of teeth and beard in men at certain periods of age.
And as we have established our assertion of the seminal production of all kinds of animals, so likewise we affirm, that the meanest plant cannot be raised without seed by any formative power residing in the soil. To which assertion we are
PLANTS NOT SELF-CREATED.
encouraged, first, from the known seeds of all vegetables, one or two only excepted, that are left to future discovery; which seeds, by the help of microscopes, are all found to be real and perfect plants, with leaves and trunk curiously folded up and enclosed in the cortex ; nay, one single grain of wheat, or barley, or rye, shall contain four or five distinct plants under one common tunicle ; a very convincing argument of the providence and goodness of God, that those vegetables, that were appointed to be the chief sustenance of mankind, should have that multiplied fecundity above any others. And, secondly, by that famous experiment of Malpighi, who a long time enclosed a quantity of earth in a vessel, secured by a fine cloth from the small imperceptible seeds of plants that are blown about with the winds; and had this success of his curiosity, to be the first happy discoverer of this noble and important truth, that no species of plants can be produced out of earth without a pre-existent seed ; and consequently they were all created and raised at the beginning of things by the Almighty Gardener, God blessed for ever. And, lastly, as to those various and elegant shells, that are dug up in continents, and embodied in stones and rocks at a vast distance from any sea ; which this Atheist may possibly allege for an instance of a plastic faculty of nature ; it is now generally agreed by the most diligent inquirers about them, that they are no sportful productions of the soil, as was formerly believed, but that all did once belong to real and living fishes; since each of them exactly resembles some shell of the seas, both in its outward lineaments, and inward texture, and specific gravity, and all other properties : which, therefore, are so far from being subservient to Atheists in their audacious attempts against God and religion, that they rather afford an experimental confirmation of the universal deluge.
And thus we have competently shewn, that every species of living creatures, every small insect, and even the herbs of the field, give a casting vote against Atheism, and declare the necessity of a supernatural formation. If the earth in its first constitution had been left to itself, what horrid deformity and desolation had for ever overspread its face! Not one living inhabitant would be found on all its spacious surface; not so much as a worm in the bowels of it, nor one single fish in the vast bosom of the sea; not a mantle of grass or moss to cover and conceal the nakedness of nature. An eternal sterility must have possessed the world, where all things had been fixed and fastened everlastingly with the adamantine chains of specific gravity; if the Almighty had not spoken and said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit after its kind; and it was so." It was God that then created the first seminal forms of all animals and vegetables, that "commanded the waters to bring forth abundantly,” and “the earth to produce living creatures after their kind ;” that “made man in his own image after his own likeness ;” that by the efficacy of his first blessing made “him be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth ;" by whose alone
move, and have our being."
The Placing of our planet.
Let us consider the particular situation of our earth, and its distance from the sun. It is now placed so conveniently, that plants thrive and flourish in it, and animals live ; this is matter of fact, and beyond all dispute. But how came it to pass at the beginning, that the earth moved in its present orb? We have shewn before, that if gravity and a projected motion be fitly proportioned, any planet would freely revolve at any assignable distance within the space of the whole system. Was it mere chance then, or divine counsel and choice, that constituted the earth in its present situation? To know this, we
POSITION OF THE EARTH IN SPACE.
will inquire if this particular distance from the sun be better for our earth and its creatures than a greater or less would have been. We may be mathematically certain that the heat of the sun is according to the density of the sun-beams, and is reciprocally proportional to the square of the distance from the body of the sun.* Now, by this calculation, suppose the earth should be removed and placed nearer to the sun, and revolve, for instance, in the orbit of Mercury, there the whole ocean would even boil with extremity of heat, and be all exhaled into vapours; all plants and animals would be scorched and consumed in that fiery furnace. But suppose the earth should be carried to the great distance of Saturn; there the whole globe would be one frigid zone; the deepest seas under the very equator would be frozen to the bottom; there would be no life, no germination, nor anything that comes now under our knowledge or senses. It was much better, therefore, that the earth should move where it does, than in a much greater or less interval from the body of the sun. And if you place it at any other distance, either less or more than Saturn or Mercury, you will still alter it for the worse, proportionally to the change. It was situated, therefore, where it is by the wisdom of some voluntary agent, and not by the blind motions of fortune or fate. If any one should think within himself, how, then, can any animal at all live in Mercury and Saturn in such intense degrees of heat and cold ? let him only consider, that the matter of each planet may have a different density, and texture, and form, which will dispose and qualify it to be acted on by greater or less degrees of heat, according to their several situations; and that the laws of vegetation, and life, and sustenance, and propagation, are the arbitrary pleasure of God, and may vary in all planets according to the divine appointment and the exigencies of things, in manners incomprehensible to our imaginations. It is enough for our purpose to discern the tokens of wisdom
* Newton, Principia, p. 415.
in the placing of our earth; if its present constitution would be spoiled and destroyed, if we could not wear flesh and blood, if we could not have human nature at those different distances.
WILLIAM DERHAM, D.D.
Like his neighbour, John Ray of Black Notley, Dr Derham was a clergyman who cultivated with much zeal different branches of Natural History. In his parsonage at Upminster he collected a large museum, including an extensive series of ornitholigical specimens, and both by his own publications, and the affectionate zeal with which he edited the labours of others, he earned a just renown amongst investigators abroad, and amongst his brethren of the Royal Society at home. In 1711 he was invited to preach the Boyle Sermons, and he afterwards published them under the title, “ Physical Theology; or, a Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God from the Works of Creation." This work, with its companion volume,
, the “ Astro-Theology,” and Ray’s “Wisdom of God in Creation,” long enjoyed a great and well-merited popularity, and all the three are interesting as the first specimens of a delightful literature in which British authorship abounds, and of which the Bridgewater Treatises are the most familiar, as well as the most finished specimens.
Derham's work being originally in the form of sermons, his detailed illustrations are given in foot-notes. In the last of the following notes it is hardly necessary to premise that the fisherman's story about swallows hybernating under water is apocryphal.
As this tribe hath a different motion from that of other ani
* Born at Stoughton, near Worcester, November 26, 1657 ; died at Upa minster, Essex, April 5, 1735.