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system, and therefore in our reckoning, though not in fact, more immediately dependant on the almighty fiat of a Great First Cause.*
5. The position of the stars is widely different from that which the common laws of nature would lead us to expect. " It appears that if there were but one vast sun in the universe, and all the other globes were, like planets, revolving around him in concentric orbs at convenient distances, such a system would very long endure of itself, could it but naturally have a principle of attraction, and be once actually put into motion. But the frame of the universe hath a very different structure. It presents a vast multitude of suns or fixed stars, all which being made up of the same common matter, must be supposed to be equally endued with a power of gravitation. For if all have not such a power, what is it that could make that difference between bodies of the same sort ? Nothing but a Deity. And if they have the power, since they are neither revolved about a common centre in concentric circles, or elliptic orbits, nor have any transverse impulse in one direction or another, what restrains them from approaching one another as their gravitating power incites them?
incites them? What is it that keeps them in fixed stations and intervals, against an incessant and inherent tendency to desert them? Why do not the groups of stars coalesce? Must we not think here of an Almighty agent “ who commanded and they were created; who hath also established them for ever; and made a decree which they shall not pass?"+ By him “ all things consist.”
The new star discovered in 1572 suddenly became brighter than Venus, and was visible in the meridian even in the daytime. Its light then began gradually to diminish, till it disappeareil, sixteen months after it was first seen. Another star, in a different part of the heavens, exhibited a similar appearance in 1603, and vanished after being visible some months. May not ihese and the periodical changes in other stars be owing to translation in absolute space? If so their motion will be rectilinear ; they come into view by descent in the direction of our system, and disappear by retiring in the same path. But this is not agreeable to any law known to us. Some have supa posed them flattened bodies, increasing in splendour, and again diminishing in proportion to the surface presented by rotation on their axis. (Brewster's Encycl.- Astronomy.) But neither the formation of such a body, nor its rotation in such a form, are reconcilable with the laws which operate in our system.—" A new star was discovered by Anthelme, in June 1670, in the Swan's head, when it was of the third magnitude. On the 10th August it was of the fifth magnitude. Hevelius discovered it in 1671 and 1672, of the sixth magnitude ; but it has not since been seen. Nearly in the breast of the Swan, is a star which continues at its full brightness five years, decreases sapidly during two years, is invisible to the naked eye during four years, and increases slowly during seven.”—Encycl. ib.
+ BENTLEY'S Sermons against Atheism.
6. And now to come nearer home, and take one example from the sphere of chemical as well as physical laws,-although vegetable life and irritability depend on a certain configuration of parts, by which the requisite processes are carried on, easy to shew that such configuration could not result necessarily from any of the common properties of matter ; that supposing it existent, and supposing capillary attraction, to which it is adapted, to be all that is requisite for carrying on the processes referred to ; still, since the interior configuration is uniform, and since the pabulum or food of all plants is the same, in the first place, the determination of each plant to take up and absorb certain proportions of the moisture, the salts, gases, &c., which constitute the pabulum ; and secondly, the diversifying of the same pabulum into substances so different as those of which the different kinds of plants, with all their variety of leaves, flowers, and fruits, are composed, can be owing only to the almighty fiat of a First Cause, by whom the processes are continually upheld.
XV.-The organical structure of the bodies with which life is eonnected, could not derive its origin from any physical
A law is now established according to which it is produced, the law of generation; but as this ever implies the previous existence of parents, it could not be the original cause. Then the notion of an infinite series of generations is disproved by our reasonings against the eternity of matter ; and, like that of every other infinite series of dependent subjects, will be found to involve contradiction and absurdity. Shall then the organical structure of animated bodies be ascribed to chance ? Sinee chance is not omnipotent, since it cannot supersede or counteract, but only give play to the known properties of matter, though we should suppose a fortuitous arrangement of particles into the very shapes of body in the several classes of animated beings, the organical structure would never have followed; for matter will never by mere approximation in any state separate from the living subject, assume the forms and qualities which belong to its component parts,-blood and bones, flesh, skin, muscles, brain, &c.
If the structure of animated bodies was originally owing to the operation of natural causes, it must have proceeded from
some species of fermentation in conjunction with gravitation, But at this era of science it cannot be necessary to shew that such is its nature,—that no chemical process could have produced it, although its several substances, as they are still matter, are capable of analysis, that there are such combinations, and arrangements, as no principle of mechanism could have formed, although they be most admirably fitted for action
upon these principles, -and that gravitation, instead of furthering, would necessarily have prevented the formation and present position of its parts.—If indeed such organical structure be attributable to any natural cause, the question must instantly occur, why has that cause ceased to operate? If necessary it must have continued its acting, still giving being to new kinds of animals, or without the process of generation producing such kinds as already exist,--unless it has been suspended by some Being who can control the laws of nature,--and to avoid this difficulty the sceptic had better confess the agency of this Being in the original formation of animated nature. *
XVI.-Still less can vitality, or the principle of Life itself, be produced or sustained by any mere natural cause.
This principle does not depend on any uniform conformation of parts or quality of fluids, for the organical structure of one order of animated beings is often widely different from that of another. In its lowest degrees, vitality is found in some animals which resemble a rude mass of jelly, and in the various species of polypi which grow and branch out like a vegetable. Food, air, and the circulation of some fluid under the notion of blood, seem to be requisite in all. But how different are the kinds of food which sustain it; how simple in some is the process of digestion, and the preparation of the circulating fluid. The blood of fishes and insects is cold. That the latter respire by means of small openings in their rings or on their sides, seems to be evident from their dying when immersed in oil, or any liquor that either contracts or fills the spiracula so as to prevent the free access of air. But the air makes no change on the colour of their blood, as it does on the blood of
• Equivocal generation, or to speak more accurately, spontaneous production, whieb must have resolved into the action of chemical or physical laws by the fermentation of putrefaction or otherwise, is now justly exploded, as contrary to analogy, experiment, and sound reason. By “ generation” in our reasoning, is meant any form by which the living creature can propagate its kind, wbether with or without the conjunction of a male and female, as there are some species of animals with whom this either bas no place, or does not seem to be absolutely requisite in all cases,
man and quadrupeds, which has been fitted for absorbing the principle of oxygen.
Does Life in the human subject depend on the properly tempered fluidity, and constant motion, of the blood Neither the one nor the other result from the common properties of matter, or even from the modifications it has undergone in the formation of blood; for as soon as the fluid is drawn from its vessels, it tends to rest and dissolution. As it is impossible to decide, whether the fluidity depends on the motion, or the motion on the fluidity, so it cannot be determined whether both these, instead of being even the subordinate cause, be not the effect of life, that is of a principle of vitality distinct from them, and from all that pertains to the structure of the body. Certain it is that the motion of the blood depends on muscular action, and that although an appropriate mechanism be requisite to this, yet the perpetual motion carried on by the action of the heart could neither be produced nor sustained by any mechanical law. Neither can it be ascribed to stimulus by the absorption of oxygen by the blood in the lungs, for the muscular action is requisite to throw the blood into the lungs, and does not display itself merely in the auricle to which the blood when revived has returned. The vital motions of the heart are moreover connected with the state of the nerves, for if the pineal gland be destroyed, it almost instantly ceases. Unless the blood circulate in the proper channels, regularly supplied by the digestive process, and constantly refreshed by respiration in the lungs, there can be no muscular action ; but muscular action is supposed in the very fact of circulation. Without the conversion of dead matter into living substance, the requisite structure and motions cannot be preserved ; but without these again there could be no such conversion. Thus all the functions essential to vitality are reciprocally dependent, and therefore could neither be commenced nor sustained, but by an omnipotent arm.
XVII. The existence of a thinking principle connected with animal life, and which in man rises to those high and peculiar degrees of intelligence, which with all the concomitant powers constitute the rational soul, furnishes our last and most convincing proof of a Great First Cause.
When we form a conception of matter, we find nothing but extension and bulk,-impenetrable, divisible, and passive. It is that substance, any quantity of which doth hinder all other from intruding into its place till it be removed; which has
sensible qualities, is inert, and if once bereaved of motion cannot acquire it again of itself. Now experiment has shown, that no refinement of this substance can induce a power of sensation or thought, nor is it possible in the nature of things. It has plainly no inherent faculty of sense or perception, and since all the changes of which it is susceptible, can only produce new inward texture with alteration of surface, none of these can possibly give being to any such faculty. In the purest gas it remains equally unintelligent, as in its grossest form, and must ever do so while it is matter. Who then can give it the power of intelligence ? If the atheist will hold that it is matter that thinks, he must suppose a cause distinct from matter, and to that cause he will ascribe a power beyond that which we claim for Deity itself,—a power to produce something beyond the line of all miracles, an express contradiction.
It has been alleged that motion superadded to matter may give birth to intelligence. But motion produces no change on the inherent qualities of matter, and is itself as distant from thought as the matter which is moved. A ball when impelled is no more a thinking being than when at rest ; a fuid in a state of effervescence possesses no more feeling, or fancy, or power of cogitation, than when the effervescence has subsided. We appeal not simply to the evidence of common sense on this head, but to the conclusions of reason. For let it be granted to the sceptic, in giving him every advantage, that it is not simply motion somehow excited in matter that originates thought, but motion of a peculiar kind in an organized body and restricted to determinate channels,—the nerves for example, either as filled with some supposed animal spirits, or otherwise capable of receiving and conveying the impulse given by external objects,-still, 1st, It is impossible that that motion, whatever be its channel, can be other than either rectilinear or curved, neither of which, nor any conjunction of both, have the least relation to sense or thought; and 2dly, Without the interference of some power capable of controlling the laws of nature, (if not of performing contradictions) it is equally impossible that motion in matter can beget any thing but motion. And since motion generated by motion, however it may vary in velocity or direction, can never be any thing but motion, i. e. the translation of matter from one place to another, it will be as foreign to the faculty of thought as the motion which generated it. Propagated it may be to the end of the channel, but how, either there or in its course, sensation should be excited, would still remain a mystery not only unexplained, but totally inexplicable by any.