Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

V.-FINAL CAUSES.

[ocr errors]

There is a twofold method of reasoning from final causes.First, that which exists for an end does not exist for itself, and consequently is not necessarily existent. But all the several departments of nature exist for an end; therefore no part of it is necessarily existent. The major is universally granted, but the minor will of course be denied by the atheist. He must hold that Nature exhibits no fixed ends ; and that the doctrine of final causes is a mere chimera,—that the eye was not made for seeing, nor the ear for hearing, nor the sun for giving light, &c. It is easy to demonstrate, however, that the different parts of the universe exist each for some special purpose, and that all of them in their several relations, connexions, and combinations are directed to one great end-the preservation of the whole, and in order to this, the preservation of each particular part. The conclusion will be, that since this is the scope of the whole, no single part can be regarded as a being necessarily existent; and what may be affirmed of each of the parts distinctly in succession must be applicable to the whole. This, then, may be considered as the first step in the argument,—the universe is not necessarily existent. The second, brings in the free ordination of all the several parts to the great end by some agent ab extra ; for if none of them be necessarily existent, and if this may be affirmed of the whole, then the disposition of them towards the end must be the work of some free agent, distinct from the universe and adequate to the work. The third step traces the final cause up to this Being and centres it in the manifestation of his glory; for if each part exist not for itself, but for the preservation of the whole, and if the whole do not exist for itself, we cannot stop in the preservation of the whole as the ultimate design, there must be a farther end, and though an infinite series of ends could be devised, we must land at last, by the tenor of the

the tenor of the argument, in some Being necessarily existent, distinct from the universe, intelligent and free, the manifestation of whose glory might be the original end worthy of all the means, which is God or Deity by the very definition of the term.

The second method of reasoning is less complicated, and conducts us at once to an Intelligent First Cause. It is that which we have hitherto pursued—a proof of design from facts, and especially such as exhibit mechanical contrivance. Should it be alleged that in order to prove design, something more

-a

than the bare exhibition of contrivance is requisite, since a child operating at random may produce something which shall present marks of contrivance, but which he had certainly no design to produce ; it must be obvious from the nature of the facts already adduced, that the case is in no respect parallel to that which we observe in the system of nature. Supposing it parallel, it would still imply an agent distinct from the subject wrought upon, and in some respects an intelligent agent. But in nature we see nothing that resembles an effect arising out of casual combination, or mere accidental structure. It is there, as with the watch already appealed to as a sample of mechanical contrivance, the result is determinate and useful, and the structure is so clearly accommodated to the result, the parts are so nicely adjusted and arranged, as to afford all the evidence a rational mind can desire that the requisite calculations were previously made, and not only the general result, but the form or fashion of each of the parts in relation to it, proposed as an end by the maker. Let us conclude our argument, then, with a slight review of the corresponding evidence of computation or previous plan in the system of nature.

VI.-- FORECAST.

1. The results of the common properties of matter, in certain arrangements, are so necessary, that they could not be prevented. Unless, therefore, (speaking after the manner of men) the present arrangements had been made upon a due calculation of these results, there had been no such stable and uniform system as that of the universe. The very laws which contribute to its preservation would have hastened its dissolution. And with regard to the more specific properties of matter in its various modifications, equally needful was it to forecast the results of these,–before their number was determined by diversifying matter, --and before their operation commenced in the original arrangement of the universe. Their existence and number was not to be left to chance, supposing this possible or intelligible, for had they been casual, there might have come into being others productive of new laws of a most disastrous description, effecting such changes or new combinations as would have ruined the whole system, and reduced it to a chaos. Now, since the various modifications of matter are, as we have seen, arbitrary or contingent, the forecast must have taken place. And it deserves to be remarked, that there is no principle of universal amelioration in nature. All the properties of matter, common or specific, with the laws connected with them, and all its arrangements agreeably to these laws, are solely adapted for preserving the system as it is. Instead of tending to improve it by inducing any new or superior organization, they only determine the perpetuity of the present structure, and the perpetuity of matter in its physical modifications, while they leave it susceptible of those changes of form, &c., by art and other means, which may contribute to the comfort of mankind or the purposes of nature.

II. Let us once more lift our eyes to the heavens, and glance at the arrangement, the compensations, the counteractions, the provisions against disturbance, and the nicely-accurate mathematical adjustment of all the bodies in our planetary system.

All the planets move nearly in the plane of the ecliptic, to indicate their relation to one another as parts of one system ; yet not exactly in that plane, to prevent continual occultations. It was necess

essary they should move in the same direction. They must, however, be projected at certain determinate distances, to guard against the perturbation which would otherwise be occasioned by mutual attraction. The distances are such as preclude the danger that might have arisen from this cause ; and such as indicate a due respect, not only to the mass of the planet, but to the number and order of the satellites with which some of the planets are attended, and the attraction of which had also to be taken into the count. For if the planets were to be projected at certain determinate distances, this was a new consideration, the provision to be made for light and heat to those which should be far removed from the fountain of both. That their relation to the sun on these heads was contemplated, may be evident from three things, in which the accommodation is so striking and so much out of the line of natural causes, that it could not possibly be owing to chance.

1. The position of their axes, and the height and density of their atmospheres, already remarked as proofs of design.

2. The existence of moons. The earth is the first planet with a satellite. One is sufficient, and one exists. A God cannot be considered as dependant on one species of means for the accomplishment of his purposes. He might choose to indicate this by deviating from the plan of satellites, after passing into that region in which a compensation for the want of light had been shewn to be necessary or proper by the forma

а

[ocr errors]

tion of our moon. Mars, accordingly, and the four lately discovered planets, are otherwise provided. By these four, the great interval between Mars and Jupiter is filled, though in a peculiar way. They move nearly at the same distance from the sun, and have their perihelion in the same quarter of the heavens. As regards light, they may have much benefit both from Mars and Jupiter. If the inhabitants of Mars have not some peculiar conformation of the eye adapted to their quantity of light, their distance from the sun and want of a moon may be compensated by the planet's being phosphorescent-giving out in the night the light it has imbibed during the day. Jupiter is provided with four moons, the third and fourth of which must give much light, since they are so large as sometimes to be seen by us with the naked eye. These moons are so adjusted in their revolution, that they cannot be all eclipsed at once, and when the sun is simultaneously eclipsed by the second and third, the first is in full opposition, but the benefit of the fourth is enjoyed.* Saturn is found to have no less than seven moons, and Uranus or the Georgium Sidus, six. Till lately, however, Saturn was supposed to have only five, and not merely analogy but facts warrant us to conclude that the Georgium Sidus has more than six,- for the nearest which has been discovered, is at a far greater distance from that planet than the first, second, and third of Saturn,—the sixth and seventh, though so named, being still nearer the primary than the first ; so that no less than five of Saturn's moons revolve round him nearer than the first of the six assigned to the Georgium Sidus, which takes near six days to perform its revolution, whereas the fifth in a direct line from Saturn takes but four days and a half. The outermost of the Georgium Sidus requires 107 days, and may therefore be considered as the last of a series, several of which have not been discovered.+

• " It is obvious from these interesting results, (calculations had been made,) that a wonderful provision is made, in the system of Jupiter, to secure to that planet the benefit of his satellites. When he is deprived at the same instant of the light of the first and second, or of the first and third, the remaining one of the three cannot possibly be eclipsed, but is in such a point of its orbit as to give considerable light to the planet. The simultaneous eclipse of the second and third forms an exception to this remark, for at that instant the first bas its dark side to the planet. Even in this case, however, the first emerging from the sun's rays is gradually turning more and more of its luminous hemispbere to Jupiter."-Edinburgh Encycl. v. ii. 645. Let us remember at the same time how rapidly the planet revolves.

+ The libration of the moon which occasions the same side to be always turned to our world, deserves our attention as it depends on her structure. It has been found that she is not only elevated at the equator, as might be

3. The size of the sun and intenseness of his light. Though moons were provided, yet for the illumination of these in distant regions, and for other purposes, it was still requisite that the source of light should be immense. The processes of nature, the labours of art, and the business of life, must not greatly depend on the feeble and ever-varying light of a moon, or any number of moons. It has been calculated that the sun, distant as he is, gives a 1000 times more light to Saturn than the full moon does to us. How strong his light is, may be judged from eclipses which occasion very little diminution of it, and even in total eclipses, when the emergent limb is but

а

a

menon.

expected from the diminution of centrifugal force, (supposing her somewhat fluid at first,) but to a far greater degree; and that the elevation is entirely peculiar, not to be explained by any law, since it is four times greater in the direction of the diameter which points to the earth than in other parts. “ In consequence of the attraction of the earth upon this elevated portion, La Grange has shewn that the velocity of the moon's motion is sometimes retarded and sometimes accelerated, and that the tendency of this attraction is to produce an equality between the rotation and the revolution of the moon, even supposing them to have been different at first.” This primeval difference is gratuitously assumed ; we may as well conceive them to have been equal at first. At any rate, the law of gravitation, though it have place in now rendering the phenomenon invariable, had no place in producing the elongation of the moon in the direction of her diameter to the earth. This, though it adapts her to the operation of the law, is evidently a confirmation arbitrary in its nature, and thus an indication of ulterior design. This will farther appear, if we admit with La Place, that the extraordinary high moun. tains in the moon have their share of the influence in producing the pheno

We are apt to wonder what purpose such lofty elevations, far exceeding any on the earth, can serve, in so small a body, and according to our way of judging so disproportioned to her size, especially as they rise far beyond her atmosphere, and therefore can answer no such ends as the moun. tains of our globe. But one object appears in their subserving the libration by which her rotatory and revolutionary motions are made to coincide. Our proof of forecast would be still more clear, could we ascertain the ulterior object. On this the writer will hazard what appears to bim the most probable conjecture. The uniformity of the same phenomenon in the moons of other planets, may intimate that the libration is somehow essentially requisite to make the body answer the end of a satellite, as a compensation for the want of light. (We may style this the main or original end, though we admit the moons to be inhabited, as the air, plants, water, &c. are filled with animated beings, many of them invisible to the naked eye, though the main design of these departments of nature was not to support these minute ani. mals.) To answer the purpose of a moon, it was requisite that the side turned to the primary should consist chiefly of land, since water would absorb the rays instead of refracting them, or only reflect the image of the sun on a small scale, and in a certain direction. But to be inhabited, the moon could not be without water. The greatest collections of it may be on the other side, furnishing vapours, or permeating the globe by proper channels, affecting its minerals

, and producing volcanoes. While it is adapted to the purposes of nature, its original end as a compensatory light, is ensured by the libration.

« AnteriorContinuar »