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To conclude: In astronomy, the great thing is to raise the imagination to the subject, and that oftentimes in opposition to the impression made upon the senses. An illusion, for example, must be gotten over, arising from the distance at which we view the heavenly bodies, viz. the apparent slowness of their motions. The moon shall take some hours in getting half a yard from a slar which it touched. A motion so deliberate, we may think easily guided. But what is the fact? The moon, in fact, is, all this while, driving through the heavens, at the rate of considerably more than two thousand miles in an hour; which is more than double of that with which a ball is shot off from the mouth of a cannon. Yet is this prodigious rapidity as much under government, as if the planet proceeded ever so slowly, or were conducted in its course inch by inch. It is also difficult to bring the imagination to conceive (what yet, to judge tolerably of the matter, it is necessary to conceive) how loose, if we may so express it, the heavenly bodies are. Enormous globes, held by nothing, confined by nothing, are turned into free and boundless space, each to seek its course by the virtue of an invisible principle; but a principle, one,common, and the same in all; and ascertainable. To preserve such bodies from being lost, from running together in heaps, from hindering and distracting one another's motions, in a degree inconsistent with any continuing order; h. e. to cause them to form planetary systems, systems that, when formed, can be upheld, and, most especially, systems accommodated to the organized and sensitive natures, which the planets sustain, as we know to be the case, where alone we can know what the case is, upon our earth : all this requires an intelligent interposition, because it can be demonstrated concerning it, that it requires an adjustment of force, distance, direction, and velocity, out of the reach of chance to have produced; an adjustment, in its view to utility, similar to that which we see in ten thousand subjects of nature which are nearer to us, but in power, and in the extent of space through which that power is exerted, stupendous. But
many of the heavenly bodies, as the sun and fixed stars, are stationary. Their rest must be the effect of an absence or of an equilibrium of attractions. It proves also, that a projectile impulse was originally given to some of the heavenly bodies, and not to others. But farther; if attraction act at all distances, there can only be one quiescent centre of gravity in the universe: and all bodies whatever must be approaching
this centre, or revolving round it. According to the first of these suppositions, if the duration of the world had been long enough to allow of it, all its parts, all the great bodies of which it is composed, must have been gathered together in a heap round this point. No changes however which have been observed, afford us the smallest reason for believing, that either the one supposition or the other is true: and then it will follow, that attraction itself is controlled or suspended by a superior agent; that there is a power above the highest of the powers of material nature; a will which restrains and circumscribes the operations of the most extensive a.
OF THE PERSONALITY OF THE DEITY.
CONTRIVANCE, if established, appears to me to prove every thing which we wish to prove. Amongst other things, it proves the personality of the Deity, as distinguished from what is sometimes called naturs, sunaimes called a principle: which terms, in the mouths of those who use ihanı philosophically, seem to be intended, to admit and to express an efficacy, but to exclude and to deny a personal agent. Now that which can contrive, which can design, must be a person. These capacities constitute personality, for they imply consciousness and thought. They require that which can perceive an end or purpose ; as well as the power of providing means, and of directing them to their end. They require a centre in which perceptions unite, and from which volitions flow; which is mind. The acts of a mind prove the existence of a mind; and in whatever a mind resides, is a person. The seat of intellect is a person. We have no authority to limit the properties of mind to any particular corporeal form, or to any particular
• It must here, however, be stated, that many astronomers deny that any of the heavenly bodies are absolutely stationary. Some of the brightest of the fixed stars have certainly small motions, and of the rest the distance is too great, and the in. tervals of our observation too short, to enable us to pronounce with certainty that they may not have the same. The motions in the fixed stars which have been observed, are considered either as proper to each of them, or as compounded of the motion of our system, and of motions proper to each star. By a comparison of these motions, a motion in our system is supposed to be discovered." By con. tinuing this analogy to other, and to all systems, it is possible to suppose that attraction is unlimited, and that the whole material universe is revolving round some fixed point within its containing sphere or space.
Priestley's Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever, p. 153, ed. 2.
circumscription of space. These properties subsist, in created nature, under a great variety of sensible forms. Also every animated being has its sensorium; that is, a certain portion of space, within which perception and volition are exerted. This sphere may be enlarged to an indefinite extent; may comprehend the universe ; and, being so imagined, may serve to furnish us with as good a notion, as we are capable of forming, of the immensity of the Divine Nature, i. e. of a Being, infinite, as well in essence as in power ; yet nevertheless a person.
“No man hath seen God at any time.” And this, I believe, makes the great difficulty. Now it is a difficulty which chiefly arises from our not duly estimating the state of our faculties. The Deity, it is true, is the object of none of our senses: but reflect what limited capacities animal senses are. Many animals seem to have but one sense, or perhaps two at the most; touch and taste. Ought such an animal to conclude against the existence of odours, sounds, and colours ? To another species is given the sense of smelling. This is an advance in the knowledge of the powers and properties of nature: but if this favoured animal should infer from its superiority over the class last described, that it perceived every thing which was perceptible in nature, it is known to us, though perhaps not suspected by the animal itself, that it proceeded upon a false and presumptuous estimate of its faculties. To another is added the sense of hearing; which lets in a class of sensations entirely unconceived by the animal before spoken of; not only distinct, but remote from any which it had ever experienced, and greatly superior to them. Yet this last animal has no more ground for believing, that its senses comprehend all things, and all properties of things, which exist, than might have been claimed by the tribes of animals beneath it; for we know, that it is still possible to possess another sense, that of sight, which shall disclose to the percipient a new world. This fifth sense makes the animal what the human animal is; but to infer, that possibility stops here; that either this fifth sense is the last sense, or that the five comprehend all existence; is just as unwarrantable a conclusion, as that which might have been made by any of the different species which possessed fewer, or even by that, if such there be, which possessed only one. The conclusion of the one-sense animal, and the conclusion of the five-sense animal, stand upon the same authority. There
may be more and other senses than those which we have.
There may be senses suited to the perception of the powers, properties, and substance, of spirits. These may belong to higher orders of rational agents; for there is not the smallest reason for supposing that we are the highest, or that the scale of creation stops with us.
The great energies of nature are known to us only by their effects. The substances which produce them, are as much concealed from our senses as the Divine essence itself. Gravitation, though constantly present, though constantly exerting its influence, though every where around us, near us, and within us; though diffused throughout all space, and penetrating the texture of all bodies with which we are acquainted, depends, if upon a fluid, upon a fluid which, though both powerful and universal in its operation, is no object of sense to us; if upon any other kind of substance or action, upon a substance and action, from which we receive no distinguishable impressions. Is it then to be wondered at, that it should, in some measure, be the same with the Divine nature ?
Of this however we are certain, that whatever the Deity be, neither the universe, nor any part of it which we see, can be He. The universe itself is merely a collective name : its parts are all which are real; or which are things. Now inert matter is out of the question: and organized substances include marks of contrivance. But whatever includes marks of contrivance, whatever in its constitution, testifies design, necessarily carries us to something beyond itself, to some other being, to a designer prior to and out of, itself. No animal, for instance, can have contrived its own limbs and senses : can have been the author to itself of the design with which they were constructed. That supposition involves all the absurdity of self-creation, i. e. of acting without existing. Nothing can be God, which is ordered by a wisdom and a will, which itself is void of; which is indebted for any of its properties to contrivance ab extra. The not having that in his nature which requires the exertion of another prior being, (which property is sometimes called self-sufficiency, and sometimes self-comprehension,) appertains to the Deity, as his essential distinction, and removes his nature from that of all things which we see. Which consideration contains the answer to a question that has sometimes been asked, namely, Why, since something or other must have existed from eternity, may not the present universe be that something? The contrivance perceived in it, proves that to be impossible. Nothing con
trived, can, in a strict and proper sense, be eternal, forasmuch as the contriver must have existed before the contrivance.
Wherever we see marks of contrivance, we are led for its cause to an intelligent author. And this transition of the understanding is founded upon uniform experience. We see intelligence constantly contriving; that is, we see intelligence constantly producing effects, marked and distinguished by certain properties; not certain particular properties, but by a kind and class of properties, such as relation to an end, relation of parts to one another, and to a common purpose. We see, wherever we are witnesses to the actual formation of things, nothing except intelligence producing effects so marked and distinguished. Furnished with this experience, we view the productions of nature. We observe them also marked and distinguished in the same manner. We wish to account for their origin. Our experience suggests a 'cause perfectly adequate to this account. No experience, no single instance or example, can be offered in favour of any other. In this cause therefore we ought to rest; in this cause the common sense of mankind has, in fact, rested, because it agrees with that, which, in all cases, is the foundation of knowledge,--the undeviating course of their experience. The reasoning is the same as that, by which we conclude any ancient appearances to have been the effects of volcanoes or inundations ; namely, because they resemble the effects which fire and water produce before our eyes; and because we have never known these effects to result from any other operation. And this resemblance may subsist in so many circumstances, as not to leave us under the smallest doubt in forming our opinion. Men are not deceived by this reasoning: for whenever it happens, as it sometimes does happen, that the truth comes to be known by direct information, it turns out to be what was expected. In like manner, and upon the same foundation, (which in truth is that of experience, we conclude that the works of nature proceed from intelligence and design ; because in the properties of relation to a purpose, subserviency to a use, they resemble what intelligence and design are constantly producing, and what nothing except intelligence and design ever produce at all. Of every argument, which would raise a question as to the safety of this reasoning, it may be observed, that if such argument be listened to, it leads to the inference, not only that the present order of nature is insufficient to prove the existence of an intelligent Creator, but that no ima