THE Folly and Unreasonableness OF ATHEISM Demonstrated from The Advantage and Pleasure of a Religious Life, The Faculties of Humane Souls, The Structure of Animate Bodies, & The Origin and Frame of the World:
In EIGHT SERMONS Preached at the Lecture Founded by The Honourable ROBERT BOYLE, Esquire;
In the First Year, MDCXCII.
By RICHARD BENTLEY, D. D. Chaplain in Ordinary, and Library-Keeper to His MAJESTY.
The Fourth Edition Corrected.
LONDON, Printed by I. H. for H. Mortlock at the Phoenix in St. Paul's Church-Yard, 1699.
To my most Honoured Patrons, TRUSTEES appointed by the Will of the Honourable ROBERT BOYLE, Esq The Right Reverend Father in God, THOMAS, Lord Bishop of Lincoln, Sir Henry Ashurst, Kt and Baronet, Sir Iohn Rotheram, Serjeant at Law, Iohn Evelyn, senior, Esquire.
GOD having disposed the Heart of that incomparable Person, the Honourable Ro∣bert Boyle, Esquire, lately deceased, the Glory of our Nation and Age, whose Charity and Goodness were as universal as his Learning and Fame;
My most Honoured Patrons,
Your very obliged and humble Servant, R. Bentley.
March 17. 1691/2.
THE Folly of Atheism, And (what is now called) DEISM: Even with Respect to The PRESENT LIFE.
The First SERMON preached March 7. 1691/2.
Psalm XIV. v. 1.
I Shall not now make any enquiry about the time and occasion and other circumstances of composing this Psalm: nor how it comes to pass, that with very little variation we have it twice over, both here the 14th. and again num∣ber the 53d. Not that these and such-like are not important considerations in themselves; but that I Page 2 think them improper now, when we are to argue and expostulate with such persons, as allow no Di∣vine Authority to our Text; and profess no greater, or, it may be they will say, less Veneration for these Sacred Hymns, than for the profane Songs of Anacreon or Horace. So that although I my self do really believe, that all such as say in their Hearts, There is no God, are foolish and corrupt, both in Understanding and Will; because I see infinite Wisdom it self has pronounced them to be so: nevertheless this Argument would at present have no force upon these men, till in due time and me∣thod we have evinced the sufficient Authority of Holy Scripture. But however there are other Books extant, which they must needs allow of as proper Evidence; even the mighty Volumes of visible Nature, and the everlasting Tables of Right Rea∣son; wherein, if they do not wilfully shut their Eyes, they may read their own Folly written by the Finger of God, in a much plainer and more ter∣rible Sentence, than Belshazzar's was by the Hand* upon the Wall.
And as the impious Principles of these persons do preclude any argumentation from the Revealed Word of God: so they prevent us also from speak∣ing at present to the second part of the Text. The whole Verse hath apparently two Propositions; Page 3 the one denoting the Folly of Atheism, The Fool hath said in his Heart, There is no God: the second decla∣ring the Corruption and Flagitiousness of Life which naturally attend it; They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doth good. Now this latter part to a genuine Atheist is meer Iargon, as he loves to call it; an empty sound of words without any signification. He allows no Natural Morality, nor any other distinction of Good and Evil, Just and Unjust; than as Human Institution and the Modes and Fashions of various Countries denominate them. The most Heroical Actions or detestable Villanies are in the nature of things indifferent to his approbation; if by secrecy they are alike conceal'd from Rewards or Punishments, from Ignominy or Applause. So that till we have proved in its proper place the eternal and essential Difference between Virtue and Vice; we must for∣bear to urge Atheists with the Corruption and Abomi∣nableness of their Principles. But I presume, the first part of the Text, the Folly and sottishness of A∣theism (which shall be the subject of this Discourse) will be allowed to come home to their Case: since they make such a noisy pretence to Wit and Saga∣city; and I believe several of them first engage in that Labyrinth of Nonsense and Folly, out of an ab∣surd and preposterous affectation of seeming Wiser than their Neighbours.
Page 4But before I proceed any farther, it will be ne∣cessary to clear and vindicate this expression of the Psalmist, The Fool hath said in his Heart, There is no God. For I know not any Interpreters, that will allow it to be spoken of such, as flatly deny the Be∣ing of God; but of them, that believing his Exi∣stence, do yet seclude him from directing the Af∣fairs of the World, from observing and judging the Actions of Men. I suppose they might be induced to this, from the commonly received notion of an Innate Idea of God, imprinted upon every Soul of Man at their Creation, in Characters that can ne∣ver be defaced. Whence it will follow, that Spe∣culative Atheism does only subsist in Our speculati∣on; whereas really Humane Nature cannot be guil∣ty of the crime: that indeed a few sensual and vo∣luptuous Persons may for a season eclipse this na∣tive Light of the Soul; but can never so wholly smother and extinguish it, but that at some lucid intervals it will recover it self again, and shine forth to the conviction of their Conscience. And there∣fore they believed, that the words would not ad∣mit of a strict and rigorous Interpretation; but ought to be so temper'd and accommodated to the nature of things, as that they may describe those profane persons; who, though they do not, nor can really doubt in their Hearts of the Being of God, Page 5 yet they openly deny his Providence in the course of their lives. Now if this be all that is meant by the Text, I do not see how we can defend, not only the fitness and propriety, but the very truth of the ex∣pression. As to that natural and indeleble signa∣ture of God, which Human Souls in their first Ori∣gin are supposed to be stamp'd with, I shall shew at a fitter opportunity, that it is a mistake, and that we have no need of it in our Disputes against Athe∣ism. So that being free from that prejudice, I in∣terpret the words of the Text in the literal accepta∣tion, which will likewise take in the Expositions of others. For I believe that the Royal Psalmist in this comprehensive brevity of speech, There is no God, hath concluded all the various Forms of Im∣piety; whether of such as excludes the Deity from governing the World by his Providence, or judg∣ing it by his Righteousness, or creating it by his Wisdom and Power. Because the consequence and result of all these Opinions is terminated in down∣right Atheism. For the Divine Inspection into the Affairs of the World doth necessarily follow from the Nature and Being of God. And he that denies this, doth implicitly deny his Existence: he may acknowledg what he will with his mouth, but in his heart he hath said, There is no God. A God, there∣fore a Providence; was a general argument of vir∣tuous Page 6 men, and not peculiar to the Stoics alone. And again, No Providence, therefore no God; was the most plausible reason, and the most frequent in the mouths of Atheistical Men. So that it seems to be agreed on all hands, that the Existence of God and his Government of the World do mutual∣ly suppose and imply one another.
There are some Infidels among us, that not on∣ly disbelieve the Christian Religion; but oppose the assertions of Providence, of the Immortality of the Soul, of an Universal Iudgment to come, and of any Incorporeal Essence: and yet to avoid the odious name of Atheists, would shelter and skreen them∣selves under a new one of Deists, which is not quite so obnoxious. But I think the Text hath cut them short, and precluded this subterfuge; in as much as it hath declared, that all such wicked Principles are coincident and all one in the issue with the rankest Atheism: The Fool, that doth exempt the affairs of the World from the ordination and disposal of God, hath said in his Heart, There is no God at all. It was the Opinion of many of the Ancients, that Epicu∣rus* introduced a Deity into his Philosophy, not be∣cause he was perswaded of his Existence, (for when he had brought him upon the Stage of Nature, he made him only Muta persona, and interdicted him from bearing any Part in it,) but purely that he Page 7 might not incurr the offence of the Magistrate. He was generally therefore suspected Verbis reli∣quisse Deum, re sustulisse; to have framed on pur∣pose such a contemptible paultry Hypothesis about him, as indeed left the Name and Title of God in the World; but nothing of his Nature and Power. Just as a Philosopher of our own Age gave a ludi∣crous* and fictitious notion about the Rest of the Earth, to evade the hard censure and usage, which Galileo had lately met with. For my own part, as I do not exclude this reason from being a grand occasion of Epicurus's owning a God; so I believe that He and Democritus too were compelled to it likewise by the necessity of their own Systems. For seeing they explain'd the Phaenomena of Vision, Imagination, and Thought it self, by certain thin fleeces of Atoms, that flow incessantly from the surfaces of Bodies, and by their subtilty and fineness penetrate any obstacle, and yet retain the exact figures and linea∣ments of the several bodies from which they pro∣ceed; and in this manner insinuating themselves through the pores of Humane Bodies into the Con∣texture of the Soul, do there excite Sensation and Per∣ception of themselves: in consequence of this Hypo∣thesis they were obliged to maintain, that we could have no Fancy, or Idea, or Conception of any thing, but what did really subsist either intire or in its se∣veral Page 8 parts. Whence it followed, that mankind could have no imaginations of Iupiter or Mars, of Minerva or Isis; if there were not actually such Be∣ings in nature to emit those Effluvia, which gliding into the Soul must beget such imaginations. And thence it was, that those Philosophers adapted their description of the Deity to the vulgar apprehensions of those times; Gods and Goddesses innumerable, and all of Humane figure: because otherwise the conceptions of mankind about them could not pos∣sibly be accounted for by their Physiology. So that if Epicurus and Democritus were in earnest about their Philosophy, they did necessarily and really believe the Existence of the Gods. But then as to the nature and authority of them; they bereaved that Iupiter of his Thunder and Majesty: forbidding him to look or peep abroad, so much as to enquire what News in the Infinite Space about him; but to content himself and be happy with an eternal la∣ziness and dozing, unless some rambling Troops of Atoms upon the dissolution of a neighbouring World might chance to awake him. Now because no Is∣raelite in the days of the Psalmist is likely to have been so curious about natural Knowledge, as to believe the Being of God for such a quaint and airy reason as this, when he had once boldly denied his Dominion over the World; and since there Page 9 is not now one Infidel living, so ridiculous as to pretend to solve the Phaenomena of Sight, Fancy or Cogitation by those fleeting superficial films of Bodies: I must beg leave to think, both that the Fool in the Text was a thorough confirmed Atheist; and that the modern disguised Deists do only call themselves so for the former reason of Epicurus, to decline the publick odium, and resentment of the Magistrate; and that they cover the most arrant Atheism under the mask and shadow of a Deity: by which they un∣derstand no more, than some eternal inanimate Mat∣ter, some universal Nature, and Soul of the World, void of all sense and cogitation, so far from be∣ing endowed with Infinite Wisdom and Good∣ness. And therefore in this present Discourse they may deservedly come under that Character which the Text hath given of them, of Fools that have said in their Hearts, There is no God.
And now having thus far cleared our way; in the next place we shall offer some notorious Proofs of the gross Folly and stupidity of Atheists.
If a Person that had a fair Estate in reversion, which in all probability he would speedily be pos∣sess'd of, and of which he might reasonably pro∣mise to himself a long and happy Enjoyment, should be assured by some skilfull Physician; That Page 10 in a very short time he would inevitably fall into a Disease, which would so totally deprive him of his Understanding and Memory, that he should lose the knowledge of all things without him, nay all consciousness and sense of his own Person and Be∣ing: If, I say, upon a certain belief of this indica∣tion, the man should appear overjoyed at the News, and be mightily transported with the discovery and expectation; would not all that saw him be asto∣nished at such behaviour? Would they not be for∣ward to conclude, that the Distemper had seized him already, and even then the miserable Creature was become a meer Fool and an Idiot? Now the Carriage of our Atheists or Deists is infinitely more amazing than this; no dotage so infatuate, no phrensie so extravagant as theirs. They have been educated in a Religion, that instructed them in the knowledge of a Supreme Being; a Spirit most excel∣lently Glorious, superlatively Powerfull and Wise and Good, Creator of all things out of nothing; That hath endued the Sons of Men, his peculiar Favorites, with a Rational Spirit, and hath placed them as Spectators in this noble Theatre of the World, to view and applaud these glorious Scenes of Earth and Heaven, the workmanship of his hands; That hath furnished them in general with a sufficient store of all things, either necessary or Page 11 convenient for life; and particularly to such as fear and obey him, hath promised a supply of all wants, a deliverance and protection from all dangers: That they that seek him, shall want no manner of thing that is*good. Who besides his munificence to them in this life; hath so loved the World, That he sent his Onely∣begotten*Son, the express Image of his Substance, and Partaker of his eternal Nature and Glory, to bring Life and Immortality to light, and to tender them* to Mankind upon fair and gracious Terms; That if they submit to his easie yoke, and light burthen,* and observe his Commandments which are not grievous, he then gives them the promise of eternal*Salvation; he hath reserved for them in Heaven an In∣heritance*incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away; he hath prepared for them an unspeakable, unconceivable Perfection of Joy and Bliss, things*that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have en∣tred into the heart of man. What a delightfull and ravishing Hypothesis of Religion is this? And in this Religion they have had their Education. Now let us suppose some great Professor in Atheism to suggest to some of these men, That all this is meer dream and imposture; that there is no such excellent Be∣ing, as they suppose, that created and preserves them; that all about them is dark senseless Matter, driven on by the blind impulses of Fatality and Page 12 Fortune; that Men first sprung up, like Mushroms, out of the mud and slime of the Earth; and that all their Thoughts, and the whole of what they call Soul, are only various Action and Repercussion of small particles of Matter, kept a while a moving by some Mechanism and Clock-work, which finally must cease and perish by death. If it be true then (as we daily find it is) that men listen with com∣placency to these horrid Suggestions; if they let go their hope of Everlasting Life with willingness and joy; if they entertain the thoughts of final Perdition with exultation and triumph; ought they not to be esteem'd most notorious Fools, even destitute of* common sense, and abandon'd to a callousness and numness of Soul?
What then, is Heaven it self, with its pleasures for evermore, to be parted with so unconcernedly? Is* a Crown of Righteousness, a Crown of Life, to be sur∣rendred with laughter? is an exceeding and eternal*weight of Glory too light in the balance against the hopeless death of the Atheist, and utter extinction? 'Twas a noble saying of the Emperor Marcus, That he would not endure to live one day in the World, if he did not believe it to be under the go∣vernment of Providence. Let us but imagin that excellent Person confuted and satisfied by some Epi∣curean of his time; that All was but Atoms, and Page 13Vacuum, and Necessity, and Chance. Would He have been so pleased and delighted with the convi∣ction? would he have so triumph'd in being over∣come? or rather, as he hath told us, would he not have gone down with sorrow and despair to the Grave? Did I but once see an Atheist lament and bewail himself; That upon a strict and impartial examination he had found to his cost, that all was a mistake; that the Prerogative of Humane Nature was vanished and gone; those glorious hopes of Immortality and Bliss, nothing but cheating Joys and pleasant Delusions; that he had undone himself by losing the comfortable Error, and would give all the World to have better arguments for Religi∣on: there would be great hopes of prevailing upon such an Atheist as this. But, alas! there are none of them of this temper of mind; there are none that understand and seek after God; they have no*knowledge, nor any desire of it; they thrust the*Word of God from them, and judge themselves un∣worthy of everlasting life; they willingly prefer Dark∣ness before Light; and obstinately choose to perish for ever in the Grave, rather than be ••irs of Sal∣vation in the Resurrection of the Just. These cer∣tainly are the Fools in the Text, indocil intractable Fools, whose stolidity can baffle all Arguments, and be proof against Demonstration it self; whosePage 14end (as the words of St. Paul do truly describe* them) whose end and very Hope is destruction, an eter∣nal Deprivation of Being; whose God is their belly, the gratification of sensual Lusts; whose Glory is in their shame, in the debasing of Mankind to the condition of Beasts; who mind earthly things, who if (like that great Apostle) they were caught up to the*third Heaven, would (as the Spyes did of Canaan)*bring down an evil report of those Regions of Bliss. And I fear, unless it please God by extraordinary methods to help their unbelief, and enlighten the eyes of*their understanding; they will carry their Atheism with them to the Pit; and the flames of Hell only must convince them of their Error.
This supine and inconsiderate behaviour of the Atheists is so extremely absurd, that it would be deem'd incredible, if it did not occurr to our dai∣ly Observation; it proclaims aloud, that they are not led astray by their Reasoning, but led captive by their Lusts to the denial of God. When the ve∣ry pleasures of Paradise are contemn'd and tram∣pled on, like Pearls cast before Swine; there's small hope of reclaiming them by arguments of Reason. But however, as Solomon adviseth, we will answer these Fools not according to their Folly, lest we also be*like unto them. It is expedient that we put to silence the ignorance of these foolish men, that Believers may Page 15 be the more confirmed and more resolute in the Faith.
Did Religion bestow Heaven without any terms or conditions indifferently upon all; if the Crown of Life was hereditary, and free to Good and Bad; and not settled by Covenant upon the Elect of God only, such as live soberly and righteously and*godly in this present world: I believe there would be no such thing as an Infidel among us. And with∣out controversie 'tis the Way and Means of attain∣ing to Heaven, that makes profane Scorners so wil∣lingly let go the Expectation of it. 'Tis not the Articles of the Creed, but the Duty to God and their Neighbour, that is such an inconsistent incre∣dible Legend. They will not practise the Rules of Religion, and therefore they cannot believe the Pro∣mises and Rewards of it.
But however, let us suppose them to have acted like rational and serious Men: and perhaps upon a diligent inquisition they have found, that the Hope of Immortality deserves to be joyfully quitted, and that either out of Interest, or Necessity.
I. And first, One may conceive indeed, how there might possibly be a necessity of quitting it. It might be tied to such Terms, as would render it impossible ever to be obtain'd. For example, if it should be required of all the Candidates of Glory Page 16 and Immortality, to give a full and knowing As∣sent to such things as are repugnant to Common Sense, as contradict the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the universal Notions and indubitable Maxims of Reason; if they were to believe, that One and the same Thing may be and not be at the same time and in the same respect; If allowing the received Idea's and deno∣minations of Numbers and Figures and Body, they must seriously affirm, that Two and two do make a Dozen, or that the Diameter of a Circle is as long as the Circumference, or that the same Body may be all of it in distant places at once. I must con∣fess that the offers of Happiness upon such Articles of Belief as these, would be meer tantalizing of Rational Creatures; and the Kingdom of Heaven would become the Inheritance of only Idiots and Fools. For whilst a man of Common Capacity doth think and reflect upon such Propositions; he cannot possibly bribe his Understanding to give a Verdict for their Truth. So that he would be quite frustrated of the Hope of Reward, upon such unpracticable Conditions as these: neither could he have any evidence of the Reality of the Promise, superiour to what he is conscious to of the Falsity of the Means. Now if any Atheist can shew me in the System of Christian Religion any such absur∣dities and repugnancies to our natural Faculties; I Page 17 will either evince them to be Interpolations and Corruptions of the Faith, or yield my self a Cap∣tive and a Proselyte to his Infidelity.
II. Or, 2dly, they may think 'tis the Interest of Mankind, that there should be no Heaven at all; because the Labour to acquire it is more worth than the Purchase: God Almighty (if there be one) ha∣ving much overvalued the Blessings of his Presence. So that upon a fair estimation, 'tis a greater ad∣vantage to take one's swing in Sensuality, and have a glut of Voluptuousness in this Life, freely resign∣ing all pretences to future Happiness; which, when a man is once extinguish'd by Death, he cannot be supposed either to want or desire: than to be tied up by Commandments and Rules so con∣trary to Flesh and Blood; to take up one's Cross, to*deny himself, and refuse the Satisfaction of Natural Desires. This indeed is the true Language of A∣theism, and the Cause of it too. Were not this at the Bottom, no man in his wits could contemn and ridicule the expectation of Immortality. Now what power or influence can Religion have upon the minds of these men; while not only their Af∣fections and Lusts, but their supposed Interest shall plead against it? But if we can once silence this powerfull Advocate, we shall without much diffi∣culty carry the Cause at the Bar of impartial Rea∣son.
Page 18Now here is a notorious instance of the Folly of Atheists, that while they repudiate all Title to the Kingdom of Heaven, meerly for the present Plea∣sure of Body, and their boasted Tranquillity of Mind; besides the extreme madness in running such a desperate Hazard after Death, (which I will not now treat of) they deprive themselves here of that very Pleasure and Tranquillity they seek for. For I shall now endeavour to shew, That Religion it self gives us the greatest Delights and Advantages even in this life also, though there should prove in the event to be no Resurrection to another. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.*
But before I begin that, I must occurr to one specious Objection both against this Proposition and the past part of my Discourse; Namely, that Re∣ligion doth perpetually haunt and disquiet us with dismal apprehensions of everlasting Burnings in Hell; and that there is no shelter or refuge from those Fears, but behind the Principles of Atheism.
(1.) First therefore I will freely acknowledge to the Atheists; that some part of what hath been said is not directly conclusive against them; if they say, that before they revolted from the Faith, they had sinned away all expectation of ever arriving at Heaven: and consequently had good reason so joy∣fullyPage 19 to receive the news of Annihilation by Death, as an advantageous change for the everlasting tor∣ments of the Damn'd. But because I cannot ex∣pect, that they will make such a shameless and sense∣less Confession, and supply us with that invincible argument against themselves: I must say again, that to prefer final Extinction before a happy Immorta∣lity does declare the most deplorable stupidity of mind. Nay although they should confess, that they believed themselves to be Reprobates, before they disbelieved Religion; and took Atheism as a sanctuary and Refuge from the Terrors of Hell: yet still the imputation of Folly will stick upon them: in as much as they chose Atheism as an Opiate to still those frightning Apprehensions, by inducing a dulness and lethargy of mind; rather than they would make use of that active and salutary medi∣cine, a hearty Repentance; that they did not know the Riches of the goodness and forbearance and long-suffe∣ring*of God, and that a sincere Amendment of Life was never too late nor in vain; Iesus Christ being the*Saviour of all men, and a propitiation for the sins of the whole world; who came into the world to save sinners, even the chief of them all; and died for the ungodly, and his bitterest enemies.
(2.) And secondly, As to the Fears of Damnation; those terrors are not to be charged upon Religion it Page 20 self, which proceed either from the Want of Religion, or Superstitious mistakes about it. For as an honest and innocent Man doth know the punishments, which the Laws of his Country denounce against Felons and Murtherers and Traytors, without being terrified or concern'd at them: So a Christian in truth as well as in name, though he believe the consuming Ven∣geance prepared for the disobedient and unbelievers, is not at all dismayed at the apprehensions of it. In∣deed it adds spurs, and gives wings to his diligence, it excites him to work out his Salvation with fear and*trembling; a religious and ingenuous fear, that is tem∣per'd with hope and with love and unspeakable joy. But he knows, that if he fears him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell, he needs not fear* that his own soul or body shall ever go thither.
I allow that some debauched and profligate Wretches, or some designing perfidious Hypocrites, that are religious in outward profession, but corrupt and abominable in their works, are most justly as well as usually liable to these horrours of mind. 'Tis not my business to defend or excuse such as these; I must leave them, as long as they keep their hard∣ness and impenitent Hearts, to those gnawing and ex∣cruciating Fears, those whips of the Divine Nemesis, that frequently scourge even Atheists themselves. For the Atheists also can never wholly extinguish Page 21 those horrible forebodings of Conscience. They en∣deavour indeed to compose and charm their Fears, but a thousand occasions daily awaken the sleep∣ing Tormenters. Any flight Consideration either of themselves, or of any thing without; whatso∣ever they think on, or whatsoever they look on; all administer some reasons for suspicion and dif∣fidence, lest possibly they may be in the wrong; and then 'tis a fearfull thing to fall into the hands*of the living God: There are they in great fear, as 'tis in the 5th verse of this Psalm, under terrible presages of judgment and fiery indignation. Neither* can they say, That these Terrors, like Tales a∣bout Spectres, may disturb some small Pretenders and puny Novices, but dare not approach the vere Adepti, the Masters and Rabbies of Atheism. For 'tis well known both from ancient and modern* Experience, that the very boldest of them, out of their Debauches and Company, when they chance to be surprized with Solitude or Sickness, are the most suspicious and timorous and despondent Wretches in the World: and that the boasted Hap∣py Atheist in the Indolence of body, and an undi∣sturbed Calm and Serenity of mind, is altogether as rare a Creature, as the Vir Sapiens was among the Stoicks; whom they often met with in Idea and Description, in Harangues and in Books, but free∣ly Page 22 own'd that he never had or was like to exist actually in Nature.
And now as to the present advantages which we owe to Religion, they are very conspicuous; whe∣ther we consider Mankind, (1.) Separately, or (2.) under Society and Government.
1. And first, in a Single Capacity. How is a good Christian animated and cheer'd by a stedfast belief of the Promises of the Gospel; of an everlasting en∣joyment of perfect Felicity, such as after millions of millions of Ages is still youthfull and flourishing and inviting as at the first? no wrinkles in the face, no gray hairs on the head of Eternity; no end, no diminution, no satiety of those delights. What a warm and vigorous influence does a Religious Heart feel from a firm expectation of these Glories? Certainly this Hope alone is of inestimable value; 'tis a kind of anticipation and pledge of those Joys; and at least gives him one Heaven upon Earth, though the other should prove a Delusion. Now what are the mighty Promises of Atheism in com∣petition with these? let us know the glorious Re∣compences it proposes: Utter Extinction and Ces∣sation of Being; to be reduced to the same condi∣tion, as if we never had been born. O dismal re∣ward of Infidelity! at which Nature does shrink and shiver with horror. What some of the Page 23* Learnedest Doctors among the Iews have esteem'd the most dreadfull of all Punishment, and have as∣signed for the portion of the blackest Criminals of the Damn'd; so interpreting Tophet, Abaddon, the Vale of Slaughter and the like, for final Excision and Deprivation of Being: this Atheism exhibits to us, as an Equivalent to Heaven. 'Tis well known, what hath been disputed among Schoolmen to this effect. And 'tis an observation of Plutarch, that* the Generality of Mankind, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as well Women as Men, chose rather to endure all the Pu∣nishments of Hell, as described by the Poets; than part with the Hope of Immortality, though immor∣tal only in misery. I easily grant, that this would be a very hard Bargain; and that Not to be at all, is more eligible, than to be miserable always: our Savi∣our himself having determin'd the question; Wo to*that man, by whom the Son of Man is betrayed; good were it for that man, if he had never been born. But however thus much it evidently shews, That this desire of Immortality is a natural Affection of the Soul; 'tis Self-preservation in the highest and truest meaning; 'tis interwoven in the very Frame and Constitution of Man. How then can the Atheist reflect on his own Hypothesis without extreme sor∣row and dejection of Spirit? Will he say, that when once he is dead, this Desire will be nothing; Page 24 and that He that is not, cannot lament his Annihi∣lation? So indeed it would be hereafter, according to his Principles. But nevertheless, for the present, while he continues in Life (which we now speak of) that dusky Scene of Horror, that melancholy Pro∣spect of final Perdition will frequently occur to his Fancy; the sweetest Enjoyments of Life will of∣ten become flat and insipid, will be damp'd and extinguish'd, be bitter'd and poison'd by the ma∣lignant and venomous quality of this Opinion.
Is it not more comfortable to a man, to think well of himself, to have a high Value and Conceit of the Dignity of his Nature, to believe a noble O∣rigination of his Race, the Off-spring and Image of the great King of Glory: rather than that men first proceeded, as Vermin are thought to do, by the sole influence of the Sun out of Dirt and Putre∣faction?
Is it not a firmer foundation for Contentment and Tranquillity, to believe that All things were at first created, and are since continually order'd and dispos'd for the best, and that principally for the Benefit and Pleasure of Man: than that the whole Universe is meer bungling and blundring; no Art or Contrivance to be seen in't; nothing effected for any purpose and design; but all ill-favouredly cobled and jumbled together by the unguided agi∣tation and rude shuffles of Matter?
Page 25Can any man wish a better Support under af∣fliction, than the Friendship and Favour of Omni∣potence, of Infinite Wisdom and Goodness; that is both able, and willing and knows how to relieve him? Such a man can do all things through Christ that*strengtheneth him, he can patiently suffer all things with cheerfull submission and resignation to the Di∣vine Will. He has a secret Spring of spiritual Joy, and the continual Feast of a good Conscience with∣in, that forbid him to be miserable. But what a forlorn destitute Creature is the Atheist in Distress? He hath no friend in Extremity, but Poison or a Dagger or a Halter or a Precipice. A violent Death is the last refuge of the Epicureans, as well as the Stoicks. This, says Lucretius, is the distinguishing* Character of a genuine Son of our Sect, that he will not endure to live in Exile and Want and Disgrace out of a vain fear of Death; but dispatch himself resolutely into the State of eternal Sleep and Insensi∣bility. And yet for all this swaggering, not one of a hundred of them hath boldness enough to follow the Direction. The base and degenerous Saying of one of them is very well known; * That Life is al∣ways sweet, and he should still desire to prolong it; though, after he had been maim'd and distorted by the Rack, he should lastly be condemn'd to hang on a Gibbet.
Page 26And then, as to the Practical Rules and Duties of Religion: as the Miracles of our Lord are pecu∣liarly eminent above the Lying Wonders of Daemons, in that they were not made out of vain Ostentation of Power, and to raise unprofitable Amazement; but for the real Benefit and Advantage of men, by feed∣ing the Hungry, healing all sorts of Diseases, eject∣ing of Devils, and reviving the Dead: so likewise the Commands which he hath imposed on his Fol∣lowers are not like the absurd Ceremonies of Pagan Idolatry, the frivolous Rites of their Initiations and Worship, that might look like Incantation and Ma∣gick, but had no tendency in their Nature to make Mankind the happier. Our Saviour hath enjoyn'd us a Reasonable service; accommodated to the ra∣tional* part of our nature. All his Laws are in themselves, abstracted from any Consideration of Recompence, conducing to the Temporal Interest of them that observe them. For what can be more availing to a mans Health, or his Credit, or Estate, or Security in this World, than Charity and Meek∣ness, than Sobriety and Temperance, than Honesty and Diligence in his Calling? Do not Pride and Arrogance infallibly meet with Contempt? Do not Contentiousness and Cruelty and Study of Revenge seldom fail of Retaliation? Are not envious and covetous, discontented and anxious minds tormen∣ters Page 27 to themselves? Do not we see, that slothfull and intemperate and incontinent persons destroy their Bodies with diseases, their Reputations with disgrace, and their Families with want? Are Adul∣tery and Fornication forbidden only by Moses and Christ? or do not Heathen Law-givers punish such Enormities with Fines, or Imprisonment, with Exile or Death? 'Twas an Objection of Iulian the* Apostate; that there were no new Precepts of Mo∣rality in our Religion: Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbours wife. Why all the World, says he, is agreed about these Commandments: and in every Country under Heaven, there are Laws and Penalties made to en∣force all the Ten, excepting only the Sabbath and the Worship of strange Gods. We can answer Him another way; but he may make our Infidels a∣shamed to complain of those Ordinances as hard Impositions, which the sense of all Nations has thought to be reasonable: which not only the Phi∣losophers of Greece and Italy and the ancient World; but the Banians of Mogul, the Talapoins of Siam, the Mandarins of China, the Moralists of Peru and Mexico, all the Wisdom of Mankind have declared to be necessary Duties. Nay if the Atheists would but live up to the Ethics of Epicurus himself, they would make few or no Proselytes from the Chri∣stian Page 28 Religion. For none revolt from the Faith for such things as are thought peculiar to Christia∣nity; Not because they must love and pray for their enemies, but because they must not poison or stab* them: not because they must not look upon a Woman to lust after her, but because they are much more re∣strain'd* from committing the Act. If wanton glances and lascivious thoughts had been permitted by the Gospel, and only the gross Act forbidden; they would have apostatized nevertheless. This we may conjecture from what Plato and others have* told us, that it was commonly 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, immoderate Affections and Lusts, that in the very times of Paganism induced men to be A∣theists. It seems their impure and brutal Sensuali∣ty was too much confined by the Religion of those Countries, where even Venus and Bacchus had their Temples. Let not therefore voluptuous Atheists lay all the fault of their Sins upon the Infirmity of Humane Nature; nor plead that Flesh and Blood cannot resist those Temptations, which have all their force and prevalence from long Custom and inveterated Habit. What enticement, what plea∣sure is there in common profane Swearing? yet nei∣ther the fear of God nor of the Law will persuade men to leave it. 'Tis prevailing Example that hath now made it fashionable, but it hath not al∣ways Page 29 been so, nor will be hereafter. So other E∣pidemical Vices, they are rife and predominant on∣ly for a season, and must not be ascribed to Hu∣mane Nature in the Lump. In some Countries Intemperance is a necessary part of Conversation; in others Sobriety is a Vertue universal, without a∣ny respect to the Duties of Religion. Nor can they say, that this is only the difference of Climate, that inclines one Nation to Concupiscence and Sen∣sual Pleasures; another to Blood-thirstiness and De∣sire of Revenge. It would discover great igno∣rance in History, not to know that in all Climates a whole People has been over-run with some re∣cently invented or newly imported kind of Vice, which their Grandfathers never knew. In the latest Accounts of the Country of Guiana, we are told that the eating of Humane Flesh is the beloved pleasure of those Savages: two Nations of them by mutual devouring are reduced to two handfulls of men. When the Gospel of our Saviour was preached to them, they received it with gladness of heart; they could be brought to forgo Plurality of Wives; though that be the main impediment to the conver∣sion of the East Indies. But the great Stumbling∣block with these Americans, and the only Rock of Offence was the forbidding them to eat their Ene∣mies: That irresistible Temptation made them Page 30 quickly to revolt and relapse into their Infidelity. What must we impute this to? to the temperature of the Air, to the nature of the Soil, to the influ∣ence of the Stars? Are these Barbarians of man-eat∣ing Constitutions, that they so hanker after this in∣humane Diet, which We cannot imagin without horror? Is not the same thing practised in other parts of that Continent? Was it not so in Europe of old, and is it not now so in Africa? If an Eleventh Commandment had been given, Thou shalt not eat Humane Flesh; would not these Canibals have e∣steem'd it more difficult than all the Ten? And would not they have really had as much reason as our Atheists, to plead the power of the Tempta∣tion, and the propensity of Flesh and Blood? How impudent then are the Atheists, that traduce the easie and gracious Conditions of the Gospel, as Unrea∣sonable and Tyrannical Impositions? Are not God's ways equal, O ye Children of Destruction, and are not your ways unequal?
II. Secondly and lastly, For the good Influence of Religion upon Communities and Governments, habemus confitentes reos; 'tis so apparent and unque∣stionable, that 'tis one of the Objections of the A∣theist, That it was first contrived and introduced by Politicians, to bring the wild and straggling Herds of Mankind under Subjection and Laws. Page 31Out of thy own mouth shalt thou be judged, thou wicked*servant. Thou say'st that the wise Institutors of Government, Souls elevated above the ordinary pitch of men, thought Religion necessary to Civil Obedience. Why then dost thou endeavour to un∣dermine this Foundation, to undo this Cement of Society, and to reduce all once again to thy ima∣ginary State of Nature, and Original Confusion? No Community ever was or can be begun or maintain'd, but upon the Basis of Religion. What Government can be imagin'd without Judicial Pro∣ceedings? and what methods of Judicature without a Religious Oath? which implies and supposes an Omniscient Being, as conscious to its falshood or truth, and a revenger of Perjury. So that the ve∣ry nature of an Oath (and therefore of Society also) is subverted by the Atheist; who professeth to ac∣knowledge nothing superiour to himself, no omni∣present observer of the actions of men. For an * Atheist to compose a System of Politicks is as ab∣surd and ridiculous, as Epicurus's Sermons were a∣bout †Sanctity and Religious Worship. But there was hope, that the Doctrine of absolute uncontrou∣lable Power and the formidable name of Leviathan might flatter and bribe the Government into a tolera∣tion of Infidelity. We need have no recourse to noti∣on and supposition; we have sad experience and Page 32 convincing example before us, what a rare Consti∣tution of Government may be had in a whole Na∣tion of Atheists. The Natives of Newfoundland* and New France in America, as they are said to live without any sense of Religion, so they are known to be destitute of its advantages and blessings; with∣out any Law or form of Community; without any Literature or Sciences or Arts; no Towns, no fixed Habitations, no Agriculture, no Navigation. And 'tis entirely owing to the power of Religion, that the whole World is not at this time as barba∣rous as they. And yet I ought not to have called these miserable Wretches a Nation of Atheists. They cannot be said to be of the Atheist's opinion; because they have no opinion at all in the matter: They do not say in their hearts, There is no God; for they never once deliberated, if there was one or no. They no more deny the Existence of a Deity; than they deny the Antipodes, the Copernican System, or the Satellites Iovis: about which they have had no notion or conception at all. 'Tis the Ignorance of those poor Creatures, and not their Impiety: their Ignorance as much to be pitied, as the Impiety of the Atheists to be detested and punish'd. 'Tis of mighty importance to the Government to put some timely stop to the spreading Contagion of this Pesti∣lence that walketh by day, that dares to disperse its cursed Page 33 seeds and principles in the face of the Sun. The Fool in the Text had only said in his heart, There is no God: he had not spoken it aloud, nor openly blasphem'd, in places of publick resort. There's too much reason to fear, that some of all orders of men, even Magistracy it self, have taken the In∣fection: a thing of dreadfull consequence and most imminent danger. Epicurus was somewhat wiser* than ordinary, when he so earnestly advised his Di∣sciples against medling in publick affairs: He knew the nature and tendency of his own Philosophy; that it would soon become suspected and odious to a Government, if ever Atheists were employ'd in places of Trust. But because he had made one great Rule superior to all, That every man's only Good was pleasure of Body and contentment of Mind: hence it was that men of ambitious and turbulent Spirits, that were dissatisfied and uneasie with Pri∣vacy and Retirement, were allowed by his own Principle to engage in matters of State. And there they generally met with that fortune, which their Master foresaw. Several Cities of Greece that had* made experiment of them in Publick Concerns, drove them out, as Incendiaries and Pests of Com∣monweals, by severe Edicts and Proclamations. Atheism is by no means tolerable in the most private condition: but if it aspire to authority and power; Page 34 if it acquire the Command of an Army or a Na∣vy; if it get upon the Bench or into the Senate, or on a Throne: What then can be expected, but the basest Cowardice and Treachery, but the foulest prevarication in Justice, but betraying and selling the Rights and Liberties of a People, but arbitrary Government and tyrannical Oppression? Nay if Atheism were once, as I may say, the National Religion: it would make its own Followers the most miserable of men; it would be the Kingdom of Satan divided against it self; and the Land would be soon brought to desolation. Iosephus, that knew* them, hath inform'd us, that the Sadduces, those Epicureans among the Jews, were not only rough and cruel to men of a different Sect from their own; but perfidious and inhumane one towards another. This is the genuine spirit and the natural product of Atheism. No man, that adheres to that narrow and selfish Principle, can ever be Just or Generous or Gratefull; * unless he be sometime overcome by Good-nature and a happy Constitution. No Atheist, as such, can be a true Friend, an af∣fectionate Relation, or a loyal Subject. The ap∣pearance and shew of mutual Amity among them, is wholly owing to the smallness of their number, and to the obligations of a Faction. 'Tis like the Friendship of Pickpockets and Highwaymen, that Page 35 are said to observe strict Justice among themselves, and never to defraud a Comrade of his share of the Booty. But if we could imagine a whole Nation to be Cut-purses and Robbers; would there then be kept that square-dealing and equity in such a monstrous den of Thieves? And if Atheism should be supposed to become universal in this Nation (which seems to be design'd and endeavour'd, though we know the gates of Hell shall not be able to prevail) farewell all Ties of Friendship and Principles of Honour; all Love for our Country and Loyalty to our Prince; nay, farewell all Government and So∣ciety it self, all Professions and Arts, and Conve∣niencies of Life, all that is laudable or valuable in the World.
Matter and Motion cannot think: OR, A CONFUTATION OF ATHEISM From the Faculties of the Soul.
The Second SERMON preached April 4. 1692.
Acts XVII. 27.
THese words are a part of that Discourse which St. Paul had at Athens. He had not been long in that inquisitive and pragmati∣cal City, but we find him encountered by the Epicu∣reans*and Stoicks, two sorts of people that were very Page 37 ill qualified for the Christian Faith: the one by rea∣son of their Carnal Affections, either believing no God at all, or that he was like unto themselves, dis∣solv'd in * Laziness and Ease; the other out of Spi∣ritual Pride presuming to assert, that † a Wise Man of their Sect was equal, and in some cases superior to the Ma∣jesty of God himself. These men corrupted through Philosophy and vain de∣ceit, took our Apostle, and carried him unto Areopagus,* (a place in the City, whither was the greatest re∣sort of Travellers and Strangers, of the gravest Ci∣tizens and Magistrates, of their Orators and Philo∣sophers;) to give an account of himself and the new Doctrine that he spoke of. For, say they, thou*bringest strange things to our ears; we would know there∣fore what these things mean. The Apostle, who was to speak to such a promiscuous Assembly, has with most admirable Prudence and Art, so accommo∣dated his Discourse, that every branch and mem∣ber of it is directly opposed to a known Error and Prejudice of some Party of his Hearers. I will beg leave to be the more prolix in explaining the whole; because it will be a ground and introduction not only to this present, but some other subsequent Discourses.
Page 38From the Inscription of an Altar to the Unknown God, which is mentioned by Heathen Authors, Lucian, Philostratus, and others, he takes occasion* (V. 24.) to declare unto them, that God that made the World and all things therein. This first Doctrine, though admitted by many of his Auditors, is directly both against Epicureans, that ascribed the Origin and Frame of the World not to the Power of God, but the fortuitous concourse of Atoms; and Peripa∣tetics, that supposed all things to have been eter∣nally, as they now are, and never to have been made at all, either by the Deity or without him. Which God, says he, seeing that he is Lord of Heaven and*Earth, dwelleth not in Temples made with hands, neither is worshipped with men's hands as though he need∣ed any thing, seeing he giveth to all Life and Breath and all things. This is opposed to the Civil and Vul∣gar Religion of Athens, which furnish'd and serv'd the Deity with Temples and Sacrifices, as if he had really needed Habitation and Sustenance. And that the common Heathens had such mean apprehen∣sions about the Indigency of their Gods, it appears plainly, to name no more, from Aristophanes's Plu∣tus, and the Dialogues of Lucian. But the Philoso∣phers were not concern'd in this point; all Parties and Sects, even the *Epicureans themselves, did maintain (〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) the self-sufficiency of the God∣head: Page 39 and seldom or never sacrificed at all, unless in compliance and condescension to the custom of their Country. There's a very remarkable* passage in Tertullian's Apology, Who forces a Philosopher to sacrifice, &c.? It appears from thence, that the Philoso∣phers, no less than the Christians, neg∣lected the Pagan Worship and Sacrifices; though what was conniv'd at in the one, was made highly penal and capital in the other. And hath made of one*blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the Earth; and hath determin'd the times before appoint∣ed, and the bound of their habitation. This Doctrine about the beginning of Humane Race, though a∣greeable enough to the Platonists and Stoics, is ap∣parently levell'd against the Epicureans and Aristote∣lians: one of whom produced their Primitive Men from meer Accident or Mechanism; the other de∣nied that Man had any beginning at all, but had eternally continued thus by Succession and Propaga∣tion. Neither were the Commonalty of Athens un∣concern'd in this point. For although, as we learn from *Isocrates, Demosthenes and others of their Countrymen, they professed themselves to be 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉Aborigines, not transplanted by Colonies or otherwise from any Foreign Nation, but born out of their own Soil in Attica, and had the same Page 40 Earth for their Parent, their Nurse and their Country; and though some perhaps might believe, that all the* rest of Mankind were derived from Them, and so might apply and interpret the Words of the Apo∣stle to this foolish Tradition: yet that conceit of de∣riving the whole Race of Men from the Aborigines of Attica was entertain'd but by a few; for they ge∣nerally allowed that the Egyptians and Sicilians, and* some others were Aborigines also, as well as them∣selves. Then follow the words of the Text, That*they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him; though he be not far from every one of us. For in him we Live, and Move, and have our Being. And this he confirms by the Authority of a Writer that lived above 300 years before; As cer∣tain also of your own Poets have said, For we are also his Off-spring. This indeed was no Argument to the Epicurean Auditors; who undervalued all Argument* from Authority, and especially from the Poets. Their Master Epicurus had boasted, that in all his Writings he had not cited one single Authority out* of any Book whatsoever. And the Poets they par∣ticularly hated; because on all occasions they in∣troduced the Ministry of the Gods, and taught the separate Existence of humane Souls. But it was of great weight and moment to the Common People; who held the Poets in mighty esteem and venerati∣on, Page 41 and used them as their Masters of Morality and Religion. And the other Sects too of Philosophers did frequently adorn and confirm their Discourses by Citations out of Poets. For as much then as we*are the off-spring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto Gold or Silver, or Stone graven by art or man's device. This is directly levell'd against the gross Idolatry of the Vulgar, (for the Philoso∣phers are not concern'd in it) that believed the ve∣ry Statues of Gold and Silver and other Materials, to be God, and terminated their Prayers in those I∣mages; as I might shew from many passages of Scripture, from the Apologies of the Primitive Chri∣stians, and the Heathen Writers themselves. And*the times of this ignorance God winked at, (the mean∣ing of which is, as upon a like occasion the same Apostle hath expressed it, that in times past he suffer'd*all Nations to walk in their own ways) but now com∣mandeth every one to repent; Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteous∣ness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. Hitherto the Apostle had never contradicted all his Audience at once: though at e∣very part of his Discourse some of them might be uneasie, yet others were of his side, and all along a moderate silence and attention was observed, because Page 42 every Point was agreeable to the notions of the greater Party. But when they heard of the Resurrecti∣on of the Dead, the interruption and clamour became universal: so that here the Apostle was obliged to break off, and depart from among them. What could* be the reason of this general dissent from the notion of the Resurrection, since almost all of them be∣lieved the Immortality of the Soul? St. Chrysostom hath a conceit, that the Athenians took 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 (the original word for Resurrection) to be preached to them as a Goddess, and in this fancy he is follow'd by some of the Moderns. The ground of the con∣jecture is the 18th verse of this Chapter, where some said, What will this Babler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange Gods (〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, strange Deities, which comprehends both Sexes) because he preached unto them,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Ie∣sus and the Resurrection. Now, say they, it could not be said Deities in the plural number, unless it be supposed that 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 is a Goddess, as well as Ie∣sus a God. But we know, such a permutation of Number is frequent in all Languages. We have another example of it in the very Text, As certain*also of your own Poets have said, For we are also his Off-spring. And yet the Apostle meant only one, Aratus the Cilician, his Countryman, in whose A∣stronomical Poem this passage is now extant. So Page 43 that although he preached to the Athenians Jesus a∣lone, yet by a common mode of speech he might be called, a setter forth of strange Gods. 'Tis my opinion, that the general distaste and clamour pro∣ceeded from a mistake about the nature of the Chri∣stian Resurrection. The word Resurrection (〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) was well enough known a∣mongst the Athenians, as appears at this time from *Homer, Aeschylus and Sophocles; they could hardly then pos∣sibly imagin it to signifie a Goddess. But then it always denoted a return∣ing from the State of the Dead to this present World, to eat and drink and converse upon Earth, and so after another period of Life to die again as before. And Festus a Ro∣man seems to have had the same apprehensions a∣bout it. For when he declares the case of St. Paul his Prisoner to King Agrippa, he tells him, That the Accusation was only about certain questions of the Jewish Superstition; and of one Iesus which was*dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. So that when the Athenians heard him mention the Resurrection of the Dead, which according to their acceptation of the word was a contradiction to common Sense, and to the Experience of all Places and Ages; they had no patience to give any longer attention. His Page 44words seemed to them as idle tales, as the first news of* our Saviour's Resurrection did to the Apostles them∣selves. All interrupted and mocked him, except a few, that seem to have understood him aright, which said they would hear him again of this matter. Just as when our Saviour said in an Allegorical and My∣stical sense, Except ye eat the Flesh of the Son of Man,*and drink his Blood, ye have no life in you; the Hear∣ers understood him literally and grosly. The Iews*therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his Flesh to eat? this is a hard saying, who can hear it? And from that time many of his Di∣sciples*went back, and walked no more with him.
I have now gone through this excellent Discourse of the Apostle, in which many most important Truths are clearly and succinctly deliver'd; such as the Existence, the Spirituality, and All▪sufficien∣cy of God, the Creation of the World, the Origi∣nation of Mankind from one common stock accor∣ding to the History of Moses, the Divine Provi∣dence in over-ruling all Nations and People, the new Doctrine of Repentance by the preaching of the Gospel, the Resurrection of the Dead, and the appointed Day of an universal Judgment. To all which particulars by God's Permission and Assistance I shall say something in due time. But at present I have confined my self to that near and internal Page 45 and convincing Argument of the Being of God, which we have from Humane Nature it self; and which appears to be principally here recommend∣ed by St. Paul in the words of the Text, That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us. For in him (that is, by his power) we live, and move, and have our being.
The Proposition, which I shall speak to, from this Text is this: That the very Life and Vital Mo∣tion and the Formal Essence and Nature of Man is wholly owing to the power of God: and that the consideration of our Selves, of our own Souls and Bodies, doth directly and nearly conduct us to the acknowledgment of his Existence. And,
1. I shall prove, That there is an immaterial Substance in us, which we call Soul and Spirit, es∣sentially distinct from our Bodies: and that this Spi∣rit doth necessarily evince the Existence of a Supreme and Spiritual Being. And,
2. That the Organical Structure of Humane Bo∣dies, whereby they are fitted to live and move and be vitally informed by the Soul, is unquestionably the workmanship of a most wise and powerfull and beneficent Maker. But I will reserve this latter part for the next opportunity; and my present undertaking shall be this, To evince the Page 46 Being of God from the consideration of Humane Souls.
(1.) And first, I say, there is an immaterial Substance in us, which we call Soul, essentially di∣stinct from our Bodies. I shall lay it down as self∣evident, That there is something in our Compositi∣on, that thinks and apprehends, and reflects and deliberates; that determines and doubts, consents and denies; that wills, and demurrs, and resolves, and chooses, and rejects; that receives various sensations and impressions from external objects, and produces voluntary motions of several parts of our Bodies. This every man is conscious of; neither can any one be so Sceptical as to doubt of or deny it: that very doubting or denying being part of what I would suppose, and including several of the rest in their Idea's and Notions. And in the next place 'tis as self-evident, that these Faculties and Operations of Thinking, and Willing, and Perceiving, must pro∣ceed from something or other as their efficient Cause: meer Nothing being never able to produce any thing at all. So that if these powers of Cogi∣tation, and Volition, and Sensation, are neither in∣herent in Matter as such, nor producible in Matter by any motion and modification of it; it necessari∣ly follows, that they proceed from some cogitative Substance, some incorporeal Inhabitant within us, which we call Spirit and Soul.
Page 47(1.) But first, these Faculties of Sensation and Perception are not inherent in Matter as such. For if it were so; what monstrous absurdities would follow? Every Stock and Stone would be a perci∣pient and rational Creature. We should have as much feeling upon clipping a Hair of the Head, as upon pricking a Nerve. Or rather, as Men, that is, as a complex Being compounded of many vital parts, we should have no feeling nor perception at all. For every single Atom of our Bodies would be a di∣stinct Animal, endued with self-consciousness and personal Sensation of its own. And a great num∣ber of such living and thinking Particles could not possibly by their mutual contract and pressing and striking compose one greater individual Animal, with one Mind and Understanding, and a vital Con∣sension of the whole Body: any more than a swarm of Bees, or a crowd of Men and Women can be conceived to make up one particular Living Crea∣ture compounded and constituted of the aggregate of them all.
(2.) It remains therefore, secondly, that seeing Matter in general, as Matter, has not any Sensation or Thought; if it have them at all, they must be the result of some Modification of it: it must ac∣quire them by some Organical Disposition; by such and such determinate Motions, by the action Page 48 and passion of one Particle upon another. And this is the Opinion of every Atheist and counterfeit Deist of these times, that believes there is no Sub∣stance but Matter, and excludes all incorporeal Nature out of the number of Beings.
Now to give a clear and full confutation of this Atheistical Assertion, I will proceed in this me∣thod.
- 1. First I will give a true Notion and Idea of Matter; whereby it will again appear that it has no inherent Faculty of Sense and Perception.
- 2. I will prove, that no particular sort of Mat∣ter, as the Brain and Animal Spirits, hath any power of Sense and Perception.
- 3. I will shew, that Motion in general super∣added to Matter cannot produce any Sense and Per∣ception.
- 4. I will demonstrate, that no particular sort of Motion, as of the Animal Spirits through Muscles and Nerves, can beget Sense and Perception.
- 5. I will evince, that no Action and Passion of the Animal Spirits, one Particle upon another, can create any Sense and Perception.
- 6. I will answer the Atheist's Argument of mat∣ter of Fact and Experience in brute Beasts; which, say they, are allowed to be meer Matter, and yet have some degree of Sense and Perception.
Page 49And first I will give a true Notion and Idea of Matter; whereby it will appear that it has no inhe∣rent Faculty of Sense and Perception. And I will offer no other, but what all competent Judges, and even Atheists themselves do allow of; and which being part of the Epicurean and Democritean Philoso∣phy is providentially one of the best Antidotes a∣gainst their other impious Opinions: as the Oil of Scorpions is said to be against the poison of their Stings. When we frame in our minds any notion of Matter, we conceive nothing else but Extension and Bulk; which is impenetrable and divisible and passive; by which three properties is understood, that any particular quantity of Matter doth hinder all other from intruding into its place, till it self be removed out of it; that it may be divided and broken into numerous parts of different sizes and figures, which by various ranging and disposing may produce an immense diversity of Surfaces and Textures; that if it once be bereaved of Motion, it cannot of it self acquire it again, but it either must be impell'd by some other Body from without, or, (say we, though not the Atheist) be intrinsecally mo∣ved by an immaterial self-active Substance, that can penetrate and pervade it. Wherefore in the whole Nature and Idea of Matter, we have nothing but Substance with Magnitude, and Figure, and Situati∣on, Page 50 and a capacity of being moved and divided. So that no parts of Matter consider'd by themselves, are either hot or cold, either white or black, either bitter or sweet, or betwixt those extremes. All the various Mixtures and Conjugations of Atoms do beget nothing but new inward Texture, and alte∣ration of Surface. No sensible Qualities, as Light, and Colour, and Heat, and Sound, can be sub∣sistent in the Bodies themselves absolutely consider'd, without a relation to our Eyes, and Ears, and other Organs of Sense. These Qualities are only the ef∣fects of our Sensation, which arise from the different motions upon our Nerves from objects without, ac∣cording to their various modification and position. For example, when pellucid colourless Glass, or Water, by being beaten into powder or froth, do acquire a very intense whiteness; what can we ima∣gine to be produced in the Glass or Water, but a new disposition of parts? Nay an object under the self-same disposition and modification, when 'tis viewed by us under differing proportions, doth re∣present very differing colours, without any change at all in it self. For that same opake and white Powder of Glass, when 'tis seen thro' a good Micro∣scope, doth exhibit all its little fragments pellucid and colourless; as the whole appear'd to the naked eye, before it was pounded. So that Whiteness, Page 51 and Redness, and Coldness, and the like, are only Idea's and Vital Passions in Us that see and feel: but can no more be conceived to be real and distinct Qualities in the Bodies themselves; than Roses or Honey can be thought to smell or taste their own Sweetness, or an Organ be conscious of its Musick, or Gun-powder of its Flashing and Noise.
Thus far then we have proved, and 'tis agreed on all hands, that in our conception of any quan∣tity of Body, there is nothing but Figure and Site, and a Capacity of Motion. Which Motion, if it be actually excited in it, doth only cause a new Order and Contexture of parts: so that all the I∣dea's of sensible Qualities are not inherent in the in∣animate Bodies; but are the effects of their Motion upon our Nerves: and sympathetical and vital Pas∣sions produced within our selves.
2. Our second enquiry must be; what it is in the constitution and composition of a Man that hath the Faculty of receiving such Idea's and Pas∣sions. Let us carry in our minds this true notion of Body in general, and apply it to our own Sub∣stance; and observe what prerogatives this Ratio∣nal Machin (as the Atheists would make us to be) can challenge above other parcels of Matter. We observe then in this understanding piece of Clock∣work; that his Body, as well as other senseless Page 52 Matter, has colour, and warmth, and softness, and the like. But we have proved it before, and 'tis ac∣knowledged; that these Qualities are not subsistent in those Bodies, but are Idea's and Sensations begot∣ten in something else. So that 'tis not Blood and Bones, that can be conscious of their own hardness or redness: and we are still to seek for something else in our Frame and Make, that must receive these impressions. Will they say that these Idea's are performed by the Brain? But the difficulty returns upon them again: for we perceive that the like qualities of softness, whiteness and warmth, do belong to the Brain it self; and since the Brain is but Body, those Qualities (as we have shewn) can∣not be inherent in It, but are the Sensations of some other Substance without it. It cannot be the Brain then, which imagins those qualities to be in it self.
But they may say, 'tis not the Gross Substance of the Brain that causes Perception; but the Animal Spirits, that have their residence there; which are void of sensible qualities, because they never fall under our Senses by reason of their minuteness. But we conceive, by our Reason, though we cannot see them with our Eyes, that every one of these al∣so hath a determinate figure: they are Spheres, or Cubes, or Pyramids, or Cones, or of some shape or other that is irregular and nameless; and all Page 53 these are but Modes and Affections of Magnitude; and the Idea's of such Modes can no more be sub∣sistent in the Atoms so modified, than the Idea of Redness was just now found to be inherent in the Blood, or that of Whiteness in the Brain. And what relation or affinity is there between a minute Body and Cogitation, any more than the greatest? Is a small drop of Rain any wiser than the Ocean? or do we grind inanimate Corn into living and ra∣tional Meal? my very Nails, or my Hair, or the Horns and Hoofs of a Beast may bid as fair for Understanding and Sense, as the finest Animal Spi∣rits of the Brain.
3. But Thirdly, they will say, 'tis not the Bulk and Substance of the Animal Spirits, but their Moti∣on and Agility, that produces Cogitation and Sense. If then Motion in general or any degree of its velo∣city can beget Cogitation; surely a Ship under sail must be a most intelligent Creature; though while she lies at Anchor, those Faculties be asleep: some cold Water or Ice may be phlegmatick and senseless; but when it boils in a Kettle, it has wonderfull Heats of Thinking and Ebullitions of Fancy. Nay the whole corporeal Mass, all the brute and stupid Matter of the Universe must upon these terms be al∣lowed to have Life and Understanding: since there is nothing that we know of, in a state of absolute Page 54 Rest. Those things that seem to be at rest upon the surface of the Earth, are daily wheel'd about its Axis, and yearly about the Sun with a prodi∣gious swiftness.
4. But Fourthly, they will say, 'tis not Motion in general, that can do these feats of Sensation and Perception; but a particular sort of it in an Orga∣nized Body through the determinate Roads and Channels of Muscles and Nerves. But, I pray, a∣mong all the kinds of Motion, whether straight or circular, or parabolical, or in what curve they please; what pretence can one make to Thinking and Liberty of Will, more than another? Why do not these persons make a Diagram of these cogita∣tive Lines and Angles; and demonstrate their Pro∣perties of Perception and Appetite, as plainly as we know the other properties of Triangles and Circles? But how little can any Motion, either circular or other, contribute to the production of Thought? No such circular Motion of an Atom can be all of it existent at once; it must needs be made gradually and successively both as to place and time: for Body cannot at the same instant be in more places than one. So that at any instant of time the mo∣ving Atom is but in one single point of the Line. Therefore all its Motion but in that one point is either future or past; and no other parts are co∣existent Page 55 or contemporary with it. Now what is not present, is nothing at all, and can be the effici∣ent of nothing. If Motion then be the cause of Thought; Thought must be produced by one single Point of Motion, a Point with relation to time as well as to place. And such a Point to our Conceptions is almost equivalent to Permanency and Rest, or at least to any other Point of any Mo∣tion whatsoever. What then is become of the pri∣vilege of that organical Motion of the Animal Spi∣rits above any other? Again, we have shewn, that this circular and other Motion is but the successive Flux of an Atom, and is never existent together; and indeed is a pure Ens Rationis, an operation of the Soul, which considering past motion and future, and recollecting the whole by the Memory and Fan∣cy, calls this by one denomination and that by a∣nother. How then can that Motion be the effici∣ent of Thought, which is evidently the Effect and the Product of it?
5. But Fifthly, they will say farther, (which is their last refuge) that 'tis not Motion alone, or un∣der this or that Denomination, that produceth Co∣gitation; but when it falls out that numerous Par∣ticles of Matter, aptly disposed and directed, do interfere in their Motions, and strike and knock one another; this is it which begets our Sensation. Page 56 All the active power and vigour of the Mind, our Faculties of Reason, Imagination and Will are the wonderfull result of this mutual Occurse, this Pul∣sion and Repercussion of Atoms. Just as we expe∣rience it in the Flint and the Steel; you may move them apart as long as you please, to very little purpose: but 'tis the Hitting and Collision of them that must make them strike Fire. You may re∣member I have proved before, that Light and Heat, and the rest of those Qualities, are not such Idea's in the Bodies, as we perceive in our Selves. So that this smiting of the Steel with the Flint doth only make a Comminution, and a very rapid Whirling and Melting of some Particles: but that Idea of Flame is wholly in Us. But what a strange and miraculous thing should we count it, if the Flint and the Steel, instead of a few Sparks, should chance to strike out Definitions and Syllogisms? And yet it's altogether as reasonable, as this sottish opinion of the Atheists; That dead senseless Atoms can ever justle and knock one another into Life and Under∣standing. All that can be effected by such encoun∣ters of Atoms, is either the imparting or receiving of Motion, or a new determination and direction of its Course. Matter, when it acts upon Matter, can communicate nothing but Motion; and that we have shew'd before to be utterly unable to pro∣duce Page 57 those Sensations. And again, how can that Concussion of Atoms be capable of begetting those internal and vital Affections, that Self-conscious∣ness and other Powers and Energies that we feel in our Minds: seeing they only strike upon the out∣ward Surfaces; they cannot inwardly pervade one another; they cannot have any penetration of Di∣mensions and Conjunction of Substance. But, it may be, these Atoms of theirs may have Sense and Perception in them, but they are refractary and sullen; and therefore, like Men of the same Tem∣pers, must be bang'd and buffeted into Reason. And indeed that way of Argumentation would be most proper and effectual upon these Atheistical Atomists themselves. 'Tis a vigorous Execution of good Laws, and not rational Discourses only, ei∣ther neglected or not understood, that must reclaim the profaneness of those perverse and unreasonable Men. For what can be said more to such persons, that are either so disingenuous or so stupid, as to profess to believe, That all the natural Powers and acquired Habits of the Mind, that penetrating Un∣derstanding and accurate Judgment, that strength of Memory and readiness of Wit, that Liberality and Justice and Prudence and Magnanimity, that Charity and Beneficence to Mankind, that ingenu∣ous fear and awfull Love of God, that comprehen∣sive Page 58 Knowledge of the Histories and Languages of so many Nations, that experienced Insight into the works and wonders of Nature, that rich Vein of Poetry and inexhausted Fountain of Eloquence, those lofty flights of Thought and almost intuitive Perception of abstruse Notions, those exalted Dis∣coveries of Mathematical Theorems and Divine Contemplations; all these admirable Endowments and Capacities of humane Nature, which we some∣times see actually existent in one and the same Per∣son, can proceed from the blind shuffling and ca∣sual clashing of Atoms. I could as easily take up with that senseless assertion of the Stoicks, That Ver∣tues* and Vices and Sciences and Arts, and Fancies and Passions and Appetites are all of them real Bo∣dies and distinct Animals; as with this of the Atheist, That they can all be derived from the Power of meer Bodies. 'Tis utterly incredible and impossible; and we cannot without indignation go about to re∣fute such an absurd imagination, such a gross con∣tradiction to unprejudiced Reason. And yet if the Atheists had not been driven from all their posts and their subterfuges; if we had not pursued their Atoms through all their turnings and windings, their cells and recesses, their interferings and just∣lings; they would boast, that they could not be answer'd; and make a mighty flutter and triumph.
Page 59Nay though they are so miserably confounded and baffled, and can offer no further explication of the Cause and the Manner; yet they will, Sixthly, urge matter of Fact and Experience, that meer Bo∣dy may produce Cogitation and Sense. For, say they, do but observe the actions of some Brutes, how nearly they approach to humane Reason, and visi∣bly discover some glimpses of Understanding: and if that be performed by the pure Mechanism of their Bodies (as many do allow, who yet believe the Being of God, and an immaterial Spirit in Man) then 'tis but raising our Conceptions, and suppo∣sing Mankind to be Engines of a finer Make and Contexture, and the business is done. I must con∣fess, that the Cartesians and some others, men that have given no occasion to be suspected of Irreligion, have asserted that Brutes are meer Machins and Au∣tomata. I cannot now engage in the Controversie, neither is there any necessity to do so; for Religion is not endanger'd by either opinion. If Brutes be said to have Sense and Immaterial Souls; what need we be concern'd, whether those Souls shall be immortal, or annihilated at the time of Death. This objecti∣on supposes the Being of God; and He will do all things for the wisest and best ends. Or if Brutes be supposed to be bare Engins and Machins; I ad∣mire and adore the divine Artifice and Skill in such Page 60 a wonderfull contrivance. But I shall deny then that they have any Reason or Sense, if they be no∣thing but Matter. Omnipotence it self cannot cre∣ate cogitative Body. And 'tis not any imperfecti∣on in the power of God, but an incapacity in the Subject; The Idea's of Matter and Thought are absolutely incompatible. And this the Cartesians themselves do allow. Do but convince Them, that Brutes have the least participation of Thought, or Will, or Appetite, or Sensation, or Fancy; and they'll readily retract their Opinion. For none but besotted Atheists, do joyn the two Notions together, and believe Brutes to be rational or sensitive Ma∣chins. They are either the one or the other; ei∣ther endued with Sense and some glimmering Rays of Reason from a higher Principle than Matter; or (as the Cartesians say) they are purely Body, void of all Sensation and Life: and like the Idols of the Gentiles, they have eyes and see not; ears, and hear not; noses, and smell not: they eat without hunger, and drink without thirst, and howl without pain. They perform the outward material actions; but they have no inward Self-consciousness, nor any more Perception of what they do or suffer, than a Looking Glass has of the Objects it reflects, or the Index of a Watch of the Hour it points to. And as one of those Watches, when it was first presented Page 61 to the Emperour of China, was taken there for an Animal: so on the contrary, our Cartesians take brute Animals for a sort of Watches. For consi∣dering the infinite distance betwixt the poor mortal Artist, and the Almighty Opificer; the few Wheels and Motions of a Watch, and the innumerable Springs and Organs in the Bodies of Brutes; they may affirm (as they think, without either absurdity or impiety) that they are nothing but moving Au∣tomata, as the fabulous * Statues of Daedalus, be∣reaved of all true life, and vital Sensation; which never act spontaneously and freely, but as Watches must be wound up to set them a going; so their Motions also are excited and inhibited, are modera∣ted and managed by the Objects without them.
(2.) And now that I have gone through the six parts that I proposed, and sufficiently shewn that Sense and Perception can never be the product of any kind of Matter and Motion; it remains therefore, that it must necessarily proceed from some Incor∣poreal Substance within us. And though we can∣not conceive the manner of the Soul's Action and Passion; nor what hold it can lay on the Body, when it voluntarily moves it: yet we are as certain, that it doth so, as of any Mathematical Truth what∣soever; or at least of such as are proved from the Page 62 Impossibility or Absurdity of the Contrary, a way of Proof that is allowed for infallible Demonstration. Why one motion of the Body begets an Idea of Pleasure in the Mind, another an Idea of Pain; why such a disposition of the Body induces Sleep, another disturbs all the operations of the Soul, and occasions a Lethargy or Frenzy; this Knowledge exceeds our narrow Faculties, and is out of the reach of our discovery. I discern some excellent Final causes of such a vital Conjunction of Body and Soul; but the instrumental I know not, nor what invisible Bands and Fetters unite them together. I resolve all that into the sole Pleasure and Fiat of our Omnipotent Creator: whose Existence (which is my last Point) is so plainly and nearly deducible from the established proof of an Immaterial Soul; that no wonder the resolved Atheists do so labour and bestir themselves to fetch Sense and Perception out of the Power of Matter. I will dispatch it in three words. For since we have shewn, that there is an Incorporeal Substance within us: whence did that proceed, and how came it into Being? It did not exist from all Eternity, that's too absurd to be sup∣posed; nor could it come out of nothing into Being without an Efficient Cause. Something therefore must have created our Souls out of Nothing; and that Something (since nothing can give more than Page 63 it has) must it self have all the Perfections, that it hath given to them. There is therefore an immate∣rial and intelligent Being, that created our Souls: which Being was either eternal it self, or created im∣mediately or ultimately by some other Eternal, that has all those Perfections. There is therefore Ori∣ginally an Eternal, Immaterial, Intelligent Creator; all which together are the Attributes of God alone.
And now that I have finished all the parts, which I proposed to discourse of; I will conclude all with a short application to the Atheists. And I would advise them as a Friend, to leave off this dabbling and smattering in Philosophy, this shuffling and cutting with Atoms. It never succeeded well with them, and they always come off with the loss. Their old Master Epicurus seems to have had his Brains so muddled and confounded with them, that he scarce ever kept in the right way; though the main Maxim of his Philosophy was to trust to his Senses, and follow his Nose. I will not take no∣tice* of his doting conceit, that the Sun and Moon are no bigger, than they appear to the Eye, a foot or half a yard over; and that the Stars are no larger than so many Glow-worms. But let us see how he manages his Atoms, those Almighty Tools that do every thing of themselves without the help Page 64 of a Workman. When the Atoms (says he) descend* in infinite space (very ingeniously spoken, to make High and Low in Infinity) they do not fall plumb down, but decline a little from the Perpendicular, either obliquely or in a Curve: and this Declination (says he) from the direct Line is the cause of our Liberty of Will. But, I say, this Declination of Atoms in their Descent, was it self either necessary or voluntary. If it was necessary, how then could that Necessity ever beget Liberty? if it was volunta∣ry, then Atoms had that power of Volition before: and what becomes then of the Epicurean Doctrine of the fortuitous Production of Worlds? The whole business is Contradiction and ridiculous Nonsense. 'Tis as if one should say, that a Bowl equally poiz∣ed, and thrown upon a plain and smooth Bowling-Green, will run necessarily and fatally in a direct Motion: but if it be made with a Byas, that may decline it a little from a straight Line, it may ac∣quire by that Motion a Liberty of Will, and so run spontaneously to the Jack. It would behoove the Atheists to give over such trifling as this, and resume the old solid way of confuting Religion. They should deny the Being of the Soul, because they cannot see it. This would be an invincible Argument against us: for we can never exhibit it to their Touch, nor expose it to their View; nor Page 65 shew them the Colour and Complexion of a Soul. They should dispute, as a bold Brother of theirs did; That he was sure there was no God, because (says he) if there was one, he would have struck me to Hell with Thunder and Lightning, that have so reviled and blasphemed him. This would be an Objection indeed. Alas, all that we could answer, is in the next words to the Text, That God hath appointed a day in which he will judge all the world in Righteousness, and that the Goodness and Forbear∣ance, and Long-suffering of God, which are some of his Attributes, and Essential Perfections of his Be∣ing, ought not to be abused and perverted into ar∣guments against his Being. But if this will not do, we must yield our selves overcome: for we neither can, nor desire to command fire to come down from Heaven and consume them; and give them such ex∣perimental Conviction of the Existence of God. So that they ought to take these Methods, if they would successfully attack Religion. But if they will still be medling with Atoms, be hammering and squeez∣ing Understanding out of them; I would advise them to make use of their own Understandings for the Instance. Nothing, in my opinion could run us down, more effectually than that. For we rea∣dily allow, that if any Understanding can possibly be produced by such clashing of senseless Atoms; Page 66 'tis that of an Atheist, that hath the fairest Pretensi∣ons and the best Title to it. We know, it is the Fool, that hath said in his heart, there is no God. And 'tis no less a Truth than a Paradox, That there are no greater Fools than Atheistical Wits; and none so credulous as Infidels. No Article of Religion, though as demonstrable as the Nature of the thing can ad∣mit, hath credibility enough for them. And yet these same cautious and quick sighted Gentlemen can wink and swallow down this sottish Opinion about Percipient Atoms, which exceeds in Incredibility all the Fictions of Aesop's Fables. For is it not every whit as likely or more, that Cocks and Bulls might discourse, and Hinds and Panthers hold Conferences about Religion, as that Atoms can do so? that A∣toms can invent Arts and Sciences, can institute So∣ciety and Government, can make Leagues and Con∣federacies, can devise Methods of Peace and Strata∣gems of War? And moreover, the Modesty of My∣thology deserves to be commended, the Scenes there are laid at a distance; 'Tis once upon a time, in the Days of Yore, and in the Land of Utopia, there was a Dialogue between an Oak and a Cedar: whereas the Atheist is so impudently silly, as to bring the Farce of his Atoms upon the Theatre of the present Age; to make dull senseless Matter trans∣act all publick and private Affairs, by Sea and by Page 67 Land, in Houses of Parliament, and Closets of Princes. Can any Credulity be comparable to this? If a Man should affirm, that an Ape casually meeting with Pen, Ink, and Paper, and falling to scribble, did happen to write exactly the Leviathan of Thomas Hobbs: Would an Atheist believe such a story? and yet he can easily digest as incredible as that; that the innumerable Members of a Hu∣mane Body, which in the style of the Scripture are all written in the Book of God, and may admit of almost* infinite Variations and Transpositions above the xxiv Letters of the Alphabet, were at first fortui∣tously scribled, and by meer accident compacted into this beautifull, and noble and most wonderful∣ly usefull Frame, which we now see it carry. But this will be the Argument▪of my next Discourse, which is the second Proposition drawn from the Text, That the Admirable Structure of Humane Bodies, whereby they are fitted to live and move, and be vitally informed by the Soul, is unquestiona∣bly the Workmanship of a most wise and power∣full and beneficent Maker: To which Almighty Crea∣tor, together with the Son and the Holy Ghost, be all Ho∣nour and Glory and Majesty and Power both now and from henceforth evermore.
A CONFUTATION OF ATHEISM FROM THE Structure and Origin of Humane Bodies.
The Third SERMON preached May 2. 1692.
Acts XVII. 27.
I Have said enough in my last, to shew the fit∣ness and pertinency of the Apostle's Discourse to the persons he address'd to: whereby it sufficiently appears that he was no Babler, as some of the Athenian Rabble reproached him; not Page 69 a 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a busie prating Fellow; as in another language they say Sermones serere, and Rumores se∣rere* in a like mode of Expression; that he did not talk at random, but was throughly acquainted with the several humours and opinions of his Auditors. And as Moses was learned in all the Wisdom of the Ae∣gyptians, so it is manifest from this Chapter alone, if nothing else had been now extant, that St. Paul was a great Master in all the Learning of the Greeks. One thing further I shall observe from the words of the Text, before I enter upon the Subject which I proposed; that it requires some Industry and Con∣sideration to find out the Being of God; we must seek the Lord, and feel after him, before we can find him by the Light of Nature. The search indeed is not very tedious nor difficult; He is not far from every one of us; for in him we live, and move, and have our Being. The Consideration of our Mind and Un∣derstanding, which is an incorporeal Substance inde∣pendent from Matter; and the contemplation of our own Bodies, which have all the stamps and characters of excellent Contrivance; these alone, though we look upon nothing abroad, do very easily and proxi∣mately guide us to the wise Author of all things. But however, as we see in our Text, some Thoughts and Meditation are necessary to it; and a man may possibly be so stupid, or wilfully ignorant or per∣verse, Page 70 as not to have God in all his thoughts, or to say in his heart, There is none. And this being observed, we have an effectual answer to that Cavil of the Atheists; who make it an objection against the Being of God, that they do not discover him without any Applica∣tion, in spite of their corrupt Wills and debauch'd Understandings. If, say they, such a God as we are told of, had created and formed us, surely he would have left upon our Minds, a native and indeleble In∣scription of Himself, whereby we must needs have felt him, even without seeking, and believed in him whether we would or no. So that these Atheists being conscious to themselves, that they are void of such Belief, which (they say) if God was, would actually and necessarily be in them, do bring their own wic∣ked Doubting and Denying of God, as Evidence against his Existence; and make their very Infidelity an argument for it self. To which we reply, That God hath endu'd Mankind with Powers and Abili∣ties, which we call natural Light, and Reason, and common Sense; by the due use of which we cannot miss of the Discovery of his Being; and this is suffi∣cient. But as to that original Notion and Propo∣sition, GOD IS, which the Atheist pretends should have been actually imprinted on us, antecedently to all use of our Faculties; we may affirm, that the absence of such a Notion doth not give the Page 71 least presumption against the truth of Religion: because though God be supposed to be, yet that Notion distinct from our Faculties would not be requisite; nor is it asserted by Religion. First, it would not be requisite; because, without any such primitive Impression, we can easily attain to the knowledge of the Deity by the sole use of our Na∣tural Reason. And again, such an Impression would have render'd the Belief of a God irresistible and ne∣cessary, and thereby have bereaved it of all that is good and acceptable in it. For as the taking away the Freedom of Humane Will, and making us meer Machins under fatal Ties and Impulses, would de∣stroy the very nature of Moral Vertue; so likewise as to Faith, there would be nothing worthy of praise and recompence in it, if there were left no possibility of Doubting or Denying. And secondly, such a ra∣dical Truth, GOD IS, springing up together with the Essence of the Soul, and previous to all other Thoughts, is not asserted by Religion. No such thing, that I know of, is affirmed or suggested by the Scriptures. There are several Topics there used against the Atheism and Idolatry of the Heathens; such as the visible marks of Divine Wisdom and Goodness in the Works of the Creation, the vital U∣nion of Souls with Matter, and the admirable Stru∣cture of animate Bodies, and the like. But if our A∣postle Page 72 had asserted such an anticipating Principle engraven upon our Souls before all Exercise of Rea∣son; what did he talk of seeking the Lord, if haply they might feel after him and find him? since if the know∣ledge of him was in that manner innate and perpe∣tual, there would be no occasion of seeking, nor any hap or hazard in the finding. Such an Inscri∣ption would be self evident without Reasoning or Study, and could not fail constantly to exert its E∣nergy in their Minds. What did he talk of the Un∣known God, and ignorantly worshipping? when if such an Original Signature were always inherent in their hearts; God could not be unknown to, or ignorant∣ly worshipp'd by any. That primary Proposition would have been clear, and distinct, and efficacious, and universal in the minds of Men. S. Paul therefore, it appears, had no apprehension of such a First No∣tion; nor made use of it for an argument; which (since whosoever hath it, must needs know that he hath it) if it be not believed before by the Adver∣sary, is false; and if it be believed, is superfluous; and is of so frail and brittle a texture, that whereas other arguments are not answered by bare denying without contrary Proof, the meer doubting and disbelieving of this must be granted to be ipso facto the breaking and confuting of it. Thus much therefore we have proved against the Atheist; that Page 73 such an original irresistible Notion is neither requi∣site upon supposition of a Deity, nor is pretended to by Religion; so that neither the Absence of it is any argument against the Being of God, nor a supposed false Assertion of it an objection against the Scripture. 'Tis enough that all are furnish'd with such Natural Powers and Capacities; that if they seriously reflect, if they seek the Lord with meditation and study, they cannot fail of finding and discovering him: whereby God is not left without witness, but the Atheist without excuse. And now I haste to the second Proposition deduced from the Text, and the argument of my present Discourse, That the organical Structure of humane Bodies whereby they are fitted to live, and move, and be vitally informed by the Soul is un∣questionably the workmanship of a most wise, and powerfull and beneficent Maker.
First, 'Tis allowed and acknowledged by all par∣ties, that the Bodies of Men and other Animals are excellently well fitted for Life, and Motion, and Sensation; and the several parts of them well ada∣pted and accommodated to their particular Functi∣ons. The Eye is very proper and meet for seeing, the Tongue for tasting and speaking, the Hand for holding and lifting, and ten thousand Operations beside: and so for the inward Parts; the Lungs are suitable for Respiration, the Stomach for Concocti∣on, Page 74 the Lacteous Vessels for the Reception of the Chyle, the Heart for the Distribution of the Blood to all the parts of the Body. This is matter of Fact, and beyond all dispute; and in effect is no more than to say, that Animals are Animals; for if they were deprived of these Qualifications, they could not be so. This therefore is not the matter in Que∣stion between us and the Atheists: But the Contro∣versie is here. We, when we consider so many constituent parts in the Bodies of Men, all admira∣bly compacted into so noble an Engine; in each of the very Fingers, for example, there are Bones, and Gristles, and Ligaments, and Membranes, and Muscles, and Tendons, and Nerves, and Arteries, and Veins, and Skin, and Cuticle, and Nail; toge∣ther with Marrow, and Fat, and Blood, and other Nutricious Juices; and all those solid Parts of a de∣terminate Size, and Figure, and Texture, and Situ∣ation; and each of them made up of Myriads of little Fibres and Filaments, not discoverable by the naked Eye; I say, when we consider how innumera∣ble parts must constitute so small a member, as the Finger, we cannot look upon It or the whole Body, wherein appears so much Fitness and Use, and Sub∣serviency to infinite Functions, any otherwise than as the effect of Contrivance and Skill, and conse∣quently the Workmanship of a most Intelligent and Page 75 Beneficent Being. And though now the Propagation of Mankind be in a settled method of Nature, which is the instrument of God: yet we affirm that the first Production of Mankind was by the immediate Power of the Almighty Author of Na∣ture: and that all succeeding Generations of Men are the Progeny of one primitive Couple. This is a Religious Man's account of the Frame and Ori∣gination of himself. Now the Atheists agree with us, as to the Fitness of Man's Body and its several Parts to their various Operations and Functions (for that is visible and past all contradiction) but they vehemently oppose, and horribly dread the Thought, That this Usefulness of the Parts and the Whole should first arise from Wisdom and Design. So that here will be the point in debate, and the subject of our present Undertaking; Whether this acknowledged Fitness of Humane Bodies must be attributed, as we say, to a wise and good God; or, as the Atheist averr, to dead senseless Matter. They have contrived several tricks and methods of*Deceit, one repugnant to another, to evade (if pos∣sible) this most cogent Proof of a Deity; All which I will propose and refute: and I hope to make it appear, that here, as indeed every where, but here certainly, in the great Dramatick Poem of Nature, is, dignus Deo vindice Nodus, a necessity of introdu∣cing a God.
Page 76And first, I will answer what Exceptions they can have against Our account: and secondly, I will confute all the Reasons and Explications they can give of their Own.
1. First, I will answer what Exceptions they can have against Our account of the Production of Man∣kind. And they may object, That the Body it self, though pretty good in its kind and upon their Hy∣pothesis, nevertheless doth not look like the Work∣manship of so great a Master, as is pretended by Us; that infinite Wisdom and Goodness and Pow∣er would have bestowed upon us more Senses than five, or at least these five in a much higher Per∣fection; that we could never have come out of the Hands of the Almighty, so subject to numerous Diseases, so obnoxious to violent Deaths; and at best, of such a short and transitory Life. They can no more ascribe so sorry an Effect to an Om∣niscient Cause, than some ordinary piece of Clock∣work with a very few motions and uses, and those continually out of order, and quickly at an end, to the best Artist of the Age. But to this we re∣ply: First, as to the five Senses, it would be rash indeed to affirm, That God, if he had pleased, could not have endued us with more. But thus much we may averr, That though the Power of God be infinite and perfect, yet the Capacities of Page 77 Matter are within limits and bounds. Why then doth the Atheist suspect that there may possibly be any more ways of Sensation than what we have al∣ready? Hath he an Idea, or Notion, or Discovery of any more? So far from that, that he cannot make any addition or progress in those very Senses he hath, further than they themselves have informed him. He cannot imagine one new Colour, or Tast, or Smell, beside those that have actually fallen un∣der his Senses. Much less can he that is destitute of an entire Sense, have any Idea or Representation of it; as one that is born Deaf hath no Notion of Sounds; or Blind, of Colours and Light. If then the Atheist can have no Imagination of more Senses than five, why doth he suppose that a Body is ca∣pable of more? If we had double or triple as ma∣ny, there might still be the same suspicion for a greater number without end; and the Objection therefore in both cases is equally unreasonable and groundless. Secondly, we affirm, that our Senses have that degree of Perfection which is most fit and suitable to our Estate and Condition. For though the Eye were so piercing, as to descry even opake and little Objects some hundreds of Leagues off, even that improvement of our sight would do us little service; it would be terminated by neigh∣bouring Hills and Woods, or in the largest and▪ Page 78 evenest plain by the very convexity of the Earth, unless we could always inhabit the tops of Moun∣tains and Cliffs, or had Wings too to fly aloft, when we had a mind to take a Prospect. And if Mankind had had Wings (as perhaps some extrava∣gant Atheist may think us deficient in that) all the World must have consented to clip them; or else Humane Race had been extinct before this time, nothing upon that supposition being safe from Mur∣der and Rapine. Or if the Eye were so acute, as to rival the finest Microscopes, and to discern the smallest Hair upon the leg of a Gnat, it would be a curse and not a blessing to us; it would make all things appear rugged and deformed; the most fine∣ly polish'd Chrystal would be uneven and rough: The sight of our own selves would affright us: The smoothest Skin would be beset all over with ragged Scales, and bristly Hairs. And beside, we could not see at one view above what is now the space of an Inch, and it would take a considerable time to survey the then mountainous bulk of our own Bodies. Such a Faculty of sight so dispro∣portion'd to our other Senses and to the Objects a∣bout us would be very little better than Blindness it self. And again, God hath furnished us with In∣vention and Industry, so that by optical Glasses we can more than supply that imaginary defect of our Page 79 own Eyes, and discover more remote and minute Bodies with that assistance, than perhaps the most whimsical Atheist would desire to do without it. So likewise if our Sense of Hearing were exalted pro∣portionably to the former, what a miserable con∣dition would Mankind be in? What whisper could be low enough, but many would over-hear it? What Affairs, that most require it, could be trans∣acted with secrecy? and whither could we retire from perpetual humming and buzzing? every breath of Wind would incommode and disturb us: we should have no quiet or sleep in the silentest nights and most solitary places; and we must inevitably be struck Deaf or Dead with the noise of a clap of Thunder. And the like inconveniences would fol∣low, if the Sense of Feeling was advanced to such a degree as the Atheist requires. How could we su∣stain the pressure of our very Cloaths in such a con∣dition; much less carry burthens and provide for conveniences of Life? We could not bear the as∣sault of an Insect, or a Feather, or a puff of Air without pain. There are examples now of woun∣ded persons, that have roared for anguish and tor∣ment at the discharge of Ordnance, though at a ve∣ry great distance; what insupportable torture then should we be under upon a like concussion in the Air, when all the whole Body would have the ten∣derness Page 80 of a Wound? In a word, all the Changes and Emendations that the Atheists would make in our Senses, are so far from being Improvements, that they would prove the utter Ruin and Extirpati∣on of Mankind.
But perhaps they may have better success in their complaints about the Distempers of the Body and the Shortness of Life. We do not wonder indeed, that the Atheist should lay a mighty stress upon this Objection. For to a man that places all his Happiness in the Indolency and Pleasure of Body, what can be more terrible than Pain or a Fit of Sick∣ness? nothing but Death alone, the most dreadfull thing in the world. When an Atheist reflects upon Death, his very Hope is Despair; and 'tis the crown and top of his Wishes, that it may prove his utter Dissolution and Destruction. No question if an Atheist had had the making of himself, he would have framed a Constitution that could have kept pace with his insatiable Lust, been invincible by Gluttony and Intemperance, and have held out vi∣gorous a thousand years in a perpetual Debauch. But we answer; First, in the words of St. Paul: Nay, but, O Man, who art thou, that repliest against*God? shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? We adore and magni∣fie his most holy Name for his undeserved Mercy Page 81 towards us, that he made us the Chief of the visible Creation; and freely acquit his Goodness from a∣ny imputation of Unkindness, that he has placed us no higher. Secondly, Religion gives us a very good account of the present Infirmity of our Bodies. Man at his first Origin was a Vessel of Honour, when he came first out of the Hands of the Potter; endued with all imaginable Perfections of the Ani∣mal Nature; till by Disobedience and Sin, Disea∣ses and Death came first into the World. Thirdly, The Distempers of the Body are not so formidable to a Religious Man, as they are to an Atheist: He hath a quite different judgment and apprehension about them: he is willing to believe, that our pre∣sent condition is better for us in the Issue, than that uninterrupted Health and Security, that the Atheist desires; which would strongly tempt us to forget God and the concerns of a better Life. Whereas now he receives a Fit of Sickness, as the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the kind Chastisement and Discipline of his Hea∣venly Father, to wean his Affections from the World, where he is but as on a Journey; and to fix his thoughts and desires on things above, where his Country and his Dwelling is: that where he hath placed his Treasure and Concerns, there his heart may be also. Fourthly, Most of the Distempers that are incident to us are of our own making, the effects Page 82 of abused Plenty, and Luxury, and must not be charged upon our Maker; who notwithstanding out of the Riches of his Compassion hath provided for us store of excellent Medicines, to alleviate in a great measure those very Evils which we bring upon our selves. And now we are come to the last Objection of the Atheist, That Life is too short. Alas for him, what pity 'tis that he cannot wallow immortally in his sensual Pleasures! But if his Life were many whole Ages longer than it is, he would still make the same Complaint, Brevis est hic fructus*homullis. For Eternity, and that's the thing he trembles at, is every whit as long, after a thousand years as after fifty. But Religion gives Us a bet∣ter prospect and makes us look beyond the gloomy Regions of Death with Comfort and Delight: When this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality. We are so far from re∣pining at God, that he hath not extended the peri∣od of our Lives to the Longaevity of the Antedilu∣vians; that we give him thanks for contracting the Days of our Trial, and receiving us more mature∣ly into those Everlasting Habitations above, that he hath prepared for us.
And now that I have answer'd all the Atheist's Exceptions against Our account of the Production of Mankind, I come in the next place to examine Page 83 all the Reasons and Explications they can give of their own.
The Atheists upon this occasion are divided into Sects, and (which is the mark and character of Er∣ror) are at variance and repugnancy with each o∣ther and with themselves. Some of them will have Mankind to have been thus from all Eternity. But the rest do not approve of infinite Successions, but are positive for a Beginning; and they also are subdivided into three Parties: the first ascribe the Origin of Men to the Influence of the Stars upon some extraordinary Conjunction or Aspect: Others again reject all Astrology; and some of these me∣chanically produce Mankind, at the very first Ex∣periment, by the action of the Sun upon duly pre∣pared Matter: but others are of opinion, that af∣ter infinite blundering and miscarrying, our Bodies at last came into this Figure by meer Chance and Accident. There's no Atheist in the World, that reasons about his Infidelity (which God knows most of them never do) but he takes one of these four Methods. I will refute them every one in the same order that I have named them: the two for∣mer in the present Discourse, reserving the others for another occasion.
I. And First, the Opinion of those Atheists that will have Mankind and other Animals to have sub∣sisted Page 84 eternally in infinite Generations already past, will be found to be flat Non-sence and Con∣tradiction to it self, and repugnant also to matter of Fact. First, it is contradiction to it self. Infinite Generations of Men (they say) are already past and gone: but whatsoever is now past, was once actually present; so that each of those Infinite Ge∣nerations was once in its turn actually present: therefore all except One Generation were once fu∣ture and not in being, which destroys the very sup∣position: For either that One Generation must it self have been Infinite, which is Nonsence; or it was the Finite Beginning of Infinite Generations be∣tween it self and us, that is Infinity terminated at both ends, which is Nonsence as before. Again, Infinite past Generations of Men have been once actually present: there may be some one Man suppose then, that was at infinite distance from Us now: therefore that man's Son likewise, forty years younger suppose than his Father, was either at infinite distance from Us or at finite: if that Son too was at infinite distance from Us, then one Infinite is longer by forty years than another; which is absurd: if at finite, then forty years added to finite makes it infinite, which is as absurd as the other. And again, The number of Men that are already dead and gone is infinite, as they say: but Page 85 the number of the Eyes of those Men must neces∣sarily be twice as much as that of the Men them∣selves, and that of the Fingers ten times as much, and that of the Hairs of their Heads thousands of times. So that we have here one Infinite number twice, ten times, and thousands of times as great as another, which is contradiction again. Thus we see it is impossible in it self, that any successive duration should be actually and positively infinite, or have infinite successions already gone and past. Neither can these Difficulties be applied to the Eter∣nal Duration of God Almighty. For though we cannot comprehend Eternity and Infinity; yet we understand what they are Not. And something, we are sure, must have Existed from all Eternity; because all things could not emerge and start out of Nothing. So that if this prae-existent Eternity is not compatible with a successive Duration, as we clearly and distinctly perceive that it is not; then it remains, that some Being, though infinitely a∣bove our finite comprehensions, must have an identical, invariable Continuance from all Eterni∣ty; which Being is no other than God. For as his Nature is perfect and immutable without the least shadow of change; so his Eternal Duration is permanent and indivisible, not measurable by Time and Motion, nor to be computed by Page 86 number of successive Moments. One day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
And Secondly, this Opinion of infinite Generati∣ons is repugnant likewise to matter of Fact. 'Tis a Truth beyond opposition, that the universal Spe∣cies of Mankind hath had a gradual increase, not∣withstanding what War, and Famine, and Pesti∣lence, and Floods, and Conflagrations, and the Religious Profession of Celibacy, and other Causes, may at certain periods of time have interrupted and retarded it. This is manifest from the History of the Jewish Nation, from the account of the Roman*Census, and Registers of our own Country, where the proportion of Births to Burials is found upon observation to be yearly as Fifty to Forty. Now if Mankind do increase though never so slowly, but one Couple suppose in an Age; 'tis enough to evince the falshood of Infinite Generations already expired. For though an Atheist should contend, that there were ten thousand million couple of Mankind now in being, (that we may allow him multitude enough) 'tis but going back so many Ages, and we descend to a single Original Pair. And 'tis all one in respect of Eternal Duration yet behind, whether we begin the world so many mil∣lions of Ages ago, or date it from the late Aera of Page 87 about Six Thousand years. And moreover this recent beginning of the World is further established from the known Original of Empires and Kingdoms, and the Invention of Arts and Sciences: whereas if infinite Ages of Mankind had already preceded, there could nothing have been left to be invented or improved by the successfull industry and curio∣sity of our own. The Circulation of the Blood, and the Weight and Spring of the Air (which is as it were the Vital Pulse and the great Circulation of Nature, and of more importance in all Physiology, than any one Invention since the beginning of Sci∣ence) had never lain hid so many myriads of Generations, and been reserved for a late happy Discovery by two great Luminaries of this Island. I know the Atheist may endeavour to evade this by supposing, That though Mankind have been from everlasting, and have perpetually encreas'd by ge∣neration; yet at certain great periods there may be universal Deluges, which may not wholly extinguish Mankind (for, they'll say, there is not Water e∣nough in Nature for that) but may cover the Earth to such a Height, that none but a few Moun∣tainers may escape, enough to continue Humane Race; and yet being illiterate. Rusticks (as Moun∣tainers always are) they can preserve no Memoirs of former times, nor propagate any Sciences or Page 88 Arts; and so the world must needs be thought by Posterity to have begun at such periods. But to this I answer, First, That upon this supposition there must have been infinite Deluges already past: for if ever this Atheist admits of a first Deluge, he is in the same noose that he was. For then he must assert, That there were infinite generations and an infinite increase of Mankind before that first Deluge; and then the Earth could not receive them, but the infinite Bodies of Men must occupy an infinite Space, and then all the Matter of the Uni∣verse must be humane Body; and many other ab∣surdities will follow, absurdities as infinite, as the Generations he talks of. But if he says, That there have been infinite Deluges heretofore, this is impos∣sibility again; for all that I said before against the Notion of infinite past Generations, is alike appli∣cable to this. Secondly, Such Universal Deluges (since the Deity is now excluded) must be pro∣duced in a natural way: and therefore gradually, and not in an instant: and therefore (because the tops of Mountains, they say, are never overflown) the civilized People may escape thither out of Villa∣ges and Cities; and consequently, against the A∣theist, Arts, and Sciences, and Histories, may be preserved, and derived to the succeeding World. Thirdly, Let us imagine the whole Terraqueous Globe Page 89 with its Atmosphere about it; What is there here, that can naturally effect an Universal Deluge? If you would drown one Country or Continent with Rains and Inundations, you must borrow your Vapour and Water from some other part of the Globe. You can never overflow all at a time. If the Atmosphere it self was reduced into Water, (as some think it possible) it would not make an Orb above 32 foot deep, which would soon be swallow∣ed up by the cavity of the Sea, and the depressed parts of the Earth, and be a very feeble attempt towards an Universal Deluge. But then what im∣mense Weight is there above, that must overcome the expansive force of the Air, and compress it into near the thousandth part of the room that it now takes up? We, that acknowledge a God Almighty, can give an account of one Deluge, by saying it was miraculous; but it would be strange to see an Atheist have recourse to a Miracle; and that not once only, but upon infinite occasions. But per∣haps they may endeavour to prove the possibility of such a natural Deluge, by borrowing an inge∣nious Notion, and pretending, That the face of Nature may be now quite changed from what it was; and that formerly the whole Collection of Waters might be an orbicular Abyss, arched over with an exterior Crust or Shell of Earth, and that Page 90 the breaking and fall of this Crust might naturally make a Deluge. I'll allow the Atheist all the fair play in the world. Let us suppose the Fall of this imaginary Crust. First, It seems to be impossible, but that all the Inhabitants of this Crust must be dash'd to pieces in its Ruins. So that this very No∣tion brings us to the necessity of a new production of Men; to evade which it is introduced by the Atheist. Again, If such a Crust naturally fell, then it had in its own constitution a tendency towards a Fall; that is, it was more likely and inclinable to fall this thousand years, than the last. But if the Crust was always gradually nearer and nearer to falling; that plainly evinces, that it had not endu∣red eternally before its Fall. For let them assign any imaginable period for its falling, how could it have held out till then (according to the suppo∣sition) the unmeasurable duration of infinite Ages before? And again, such a Crust could fall but once; for what Architect can an Atheist suppose, to rebuild a new Arch out of the ruins of the other? But I have shewn before that this Atheist hath need of infinite Deluges to effect his design; and there∣fore I'll leave him to contrive how to make infinite Crusts one upon the back of another; and now proceed to examine in the second place, The Astro∣logical Explication of the Origin of Men.
Page 91II. If you ask one of this Party, what Evidence he is able to produce for the truth of his Art, he may perhaps offer some Physical Reasons for a general influence of the Stars upon terrestrial bodies: but as Astrology is consider'd to be a System of Rules and Propositions, he will not pretend to give any reason of it à priori; but resolves all that into Tradition from the Chaldeans and Aegyptians, who first learnt it by long observation, and transmitted it down to Posterity; and that now it is daily confirmed by Events; which are experienced to answer the Pre∣dictions. This is all that can be said for Astrology as an Art. So that the whole Credibility of this Pla∣netary production of Mankind must depend upon Observation. But are they able to shew among all the Remains of the Chaldaick Observations for Four hundred and seventy thousand years (as they pre∣tended) any Tradition of such a Production? So far from that, that the Chaldeans believed the world and mankind to have been from everlasting, which opinion I have refuted before. Neither can the Ae∣gyptian Wizards with their long Catalogue of Dy∣nasties, and Observations for innumerable Years, supply the Atheists with one instance of such a Cre∣ation. Where are the fragments of Petosiris and Necepso, that may countenance this Assertion? I believe if they had had any example of men born Page 92 out of the Soil, they would rather have ascribed it to the fruitfull Mud of the Nile (as* they did the breeding of Frogs, and Mice, and Monsters) than to the efficacy of Stars. But with the leave of these Fortune-tellers, did the Stars do this feat once only, which gave beginning to Humane Race? or have they frequently done so, and may do it again? If frequently, why is not this Rule deliver'd in Ptolemee and Albumazar? If once only at the beginning, then how came it to be dis∣cover'd? Who were there then in the world, to observe the Births of those First Men, and calculate their Nativities, as they sprawl'd out of Ditches? Those Sons of Earth were very wise Children, if they themselves knew, that the Stars were their Fa∣thers. Unless we are to imagine, that they under∣stood the Planets and the Zodiack by instinct, and fell to drawing Schemes of their own Horoscopes, in the same Dust they sprung out of? For my part I can have no great* veneration for Chaldaick Antiquity; when I see they could not discover in so many thousand years, that the Moon was an opake Body, and re∣ceived her Light from the Sun. But suppose their Observations had been never so accurate, it could Page 93 add no Authority to modern Astrology, which is borrowed from the Greeks. 'Tis well known that Berosus, or his Scholars new modelled and adap∣ted the Babylonian Doctrines to the Graecian Mytholo∣gy. The supposed Influences of Aries and Taurus for example, have a manifest relation to the Graecian Stories of the Ram that carried Phrixus, and the Bull that carried Europa. Now which of these is the Co∣py, and which the Original? Were the Fables taken from the Influences, or the Influences from the Fa∣bles? the Poetical Fables more ancient than all Re∣cords of History; or the Astrological Influences, that were not known to the Greeks till after Alexander the Great? But without question those Fabulous Tales had been many a time told and sung to lull Children asleep, before ever Berosus set up his Intel∣ligence Office at Cos. And the same may be said of all the other Constellations. First, Poetry had filled the Skies with Asterisms and Histories belonging to them; and then Astrology devises the feigned Vir∣tues and Influences of each, from some property of the Image, or Allusion to the Story. And the same trifling futility appears in their XII Signs of the Zo∣diack, and their mutual Relations and Aspects. Why no more Aspects than diametrically opposite, and such as make aequilateral figures? Why are the Masculine and Feminine, the Fiery and Airy, and Page 94 Watry and Earthly Signs all placed at such regular distances? Were the Virtues of the Stars disposed in that order and rank, on purpose only to make a pretty Diagram upon Paper? But the Atheistical Astrologer is doubly pressed with this absurdity. For if there was no Counsel at the making of the world, how came the Asterisms of the same nature and energies to be so harmoniously placed at regu∣lar intervals? And how could all the Stars of one Asterism agree and conspire together to constitute an Universal? Why does not every single Star shed a separate influence; and have Aspects with other Stars of their own Constellation? But what need there many words? As if the late Discoveries of the Celestial Bodies had not plainly detected the impo∣sture of Astrology? The Planet Saturn is found to have a great Ring that encircles him, and five lesser Planets that move about him, as the Moon doth about the Earth: and Iupiter hath four Satel∣lites, which by their Interposition between him and us make some hundreds of Eclipses every year. Now the whole Tribe of Astrologers, that never dream'd of these Planets, have always declared, that when Iupiter and Saturn come about again to any given Point, they exert (consider'd singly by them∣selves) the same Influence as before. But 'tis now manifest, that when either of them return to the Page 95 same point; the Planets about them, that must make up an united Influence with them, have a different situation in respect of us and each other, from what they had the time before: and conse∣quently the joint Influence must be perpetually va∣ried, and never be reducible to any Rules and Ob∣servations. Or if the Influences be conveyed hither distinct, yet sometimes some of the Little Planets will eclipse the Great one at any given point; and by that means intercept and obstruct the Influence. I cannot now insist on many other Arguments deducible from the late Improvements of Astrono∣my, and the truth of the Copernican System; For if the Earth be not the Centre of the Planetary Mo∣tions, what must become then of the present A∣strology, which is wholly adapted to that vulgar Hypothesis? And yet nevertheless, when they lay under such wretched mistakes for many Myriads of Years, if we are willing to believe them; they would all along, as now, appeal to Experience and Event for the confirmation of their Doctrines. That's the invincible Demonstration of the Verity of the Science: And indeed as to their Predictions, I think our Astrologers may assume to themselves that in∣fallible Oracle of Tiresias,
Page 96There's but a true and a false in any telling of For∣tune; and a man that never hits on the right side, cannot be called a bad Guesser, but must miss out of design, and be notably skilfull at lighting on the wrong. And were there not formerly as great pre∣tentions to it from the superstitious Observation of the Entrails of Cows, of the flying of Vulturs, and the pecking of Chickings? Nay, the old Augurs and Soothsayers had better reason to profess the Art of Divining, than the modern Astrological Atheist: for they supposed there were some Daemons, that di∣rected the Indications. So likewise the Chaldean and Aegyptian Astrologers were much more excusable than He. It was the Religion of their Countries to worship the Stars, as we know from unquestionable Authority. They believed them* Intelligent Beings, and no other than very Gods; and therefore had some Reason to suspect, that they might govern Humane Affairs. The Influ∣ence of the Stars was in their appre∣hensions no less than Divine Power. But an Atheist, that believes the Planets to be dark, solid and sense∣less Bodies, like the brute Earth he treads on; and the Fixt Stars and the Sun to be inanimate Balls of Fire; what Reasons can He advance for the Cre∣dit of such Influences? He acknowledgeth nothing Page 97 besides Matter and Motion; so that all that he can conceive to be transmitted hither from the Stars, must needs be perform'd either by Mechanism or Accident; either of which is wholly unaccountable, and the latter irreconcileable to any Art or System of Science. But if both were allowed the Atheist; yet as to any production of Mankind, they will be again refuted in my following Discourse. I can preserve a due esteem for some great Men of the last Age, before the Mechanical Philosophy was revived, though they were too much addicted to this nugatory Art. When Occult Quality, and Sympathy and Antipathy were admitted for satis∣factory Explications of things, even wise and ver∣tuous Men might swallow down any Opinion that was countenanced by Antiquity. But at this time of day, when all the general powers and capacities of Matter are so clearly understood; he must be very ridiculous himself, that doth not deride and explode the antiquated Folly. But we may see the miserable Shifts that some men are put to; when that which was first founded upon, and afterward supported by Idolatry, is now become the tottering Sanctuary of Atheism. If the Stars be no Deities, Astrology is groundless: and if the Stars be Deities, why is the Astrologer an Atheist? He may easily be no Christian; and 'tis difficult indeed to be both Page 98 at once: because, as I have said before, Idolatry is at the bottom; and by submitting Humane Acti∣ons and Inclinations to the Influence of the Stars, they destroy the very Essence of Moral Virtue and the Efficacy of Divine Grace: and therefore Astro∣logy was justly condemn'd by the Ancient Fathers* and Christian Emperours. An Astrologer, I say, may very easily be no Christian; he may be an Idolater or a Pagan: but I could hardly think A∣strology to be compatible with rank Atheism; if I could suppose any great gifts of Nature to be in that person, who is either an Atheist or an Astrologer. But let him be what he will, he is not able to do much hurt by his Reasons and Example. For Re∣ligion it self, according to his Principles, is derived from the Stars. And he owns, 'tis not any just Exceptions he hath taken against Christianity, but 'tis his Destiny and Fate; 'tis Saturn in the Ninth House, and not Judgment and Deliberation, that made him an Atheist.
A CONFUTATION OF ATHEISM FROM THE Structure and Origin of Humane Bodies.
The Fourth SERMON preached Iune 6. 1692.
Acts XVII. 27.
IN the former part of this Enquiry I have exa∣min'd and refuted two Atheistical Notions opposed to the great Doctrine of the Text, That we owe our Living and Being to the power of God: The one of the Aristotelian Atheists, who, to Page 100 avoid the difficulties of the first production of Man∣kind, without the intervention of Almighty Wis∣dom and Power, will have the Race to have thus continued without beginning, by an eternal successi∣on of infinite past Generations; which Assertion hath been detected to be mere nonsense, and contradicto∣ry to it self: The other of the Astrological under∣takers, that would raise Men like Vegetables out of some fat and slimy soil well digested by the kindly heat of the Sun, and impregnated with the influ∣ence of the Stars upon some remarkable and perio∣dical conjunctions: Which opinion hath been vamp'd up of late by Cardan and Cesalpinus, and other News-mongers from the Skies; a Pretence as groundless and silly, as the dreaming Oneirocriticks of Artemidorus and Astrampsychus, or the modern Chiromancy and Divinations of Gypsies.
I proceed now to the two remaining Paradoxes of such Sects of Atheists, as laying aside Astrology and the unintelligible Influence of Heavenly Bodies, except that which proceeds from their Gravity and Heat, and Light, do either produce Mankind me∣chanically and necessarily from certain connexions of Natural Causes; or more dully and supinely, though altogether as reasonably, resolve the whole Business into the unaccountable shuffles and tumults of Matter, which they call Chance and Accident. Page 101 But at present I shall only take an account of the supposed Production of Humane Bodies by Mecha∣nism and Necessity.
The Mechanical or Corpuscular Philosophy, though peradventure the oldest, as well as the best in the world, had lain buried for many Ages in con∣tempt and oblivion; till it was happily restor'd and cultivated anew by some excellent Wits of the pre∣sent Age. But it principally owes its re-establish∣ment and lustre, to Mr. Boyle that Honourable Per∣son of ever Blessed Memory, who hath not only shewn its usefulness in Physiology above the vulgar Doctrines of Real Qualities and Substantial Forms; but likewise its great serviceableness to Religion it self. And I think it hath been competently prov'd in a former Discourse, how friendly it is to the Im∣materiality of Humane Souls, and consequently to the Existence of a Supreme Spiritual Being. And I may have occasion hereafter to shew further, that all the Powers of Mechanism are intirely depen∣dent on the Deity, and do afford a solid Argument for the Reality of his Nature. So far am I from the apprehension of any great feats, that this Me∣chanical Atheist can do against Religion. For if we consider the Phaenomena of the Material World with a due and serious attention, we shall plainly perceive, that its present frame and constitution and Page 102 the established Laws of Nature are constituted and preserved by Gravitation alone. That is the pow∣erfull cement, which holds together this magnifi∣cent structure of the world; Which stretcheth the*North over the empty space, and hangeth the Earth up∣on Nothing; if we may transfer the words of Iob from the first and real Cause to the secondary A∣gent. Without Gravity, the whole Universe, if we suppose an undetermin'd power of Motion infused into Matter, would have been a confused-Chaos, without beauty or order, and never stable and per∣manent in any condition. Now it may be prov'd in its due place, that this Gravity, the great Basis of all Mechanism, is not it self Mechanical; but the im∣mediate Fiat and Finger of God, and the Execution of the Divine Law; and that Bodies have not the power of tending towards a Centre, either from o∣ther Bodies or from themselves: which at once, if it be proved, will undermine and ruine all the Tow∣ers and Batteries that the Atheists have raised against Heaven. For if no Compound Body in the visible world can subsist and continue without Gravity, and if Gravity do immediately flow from a Divine Pow∣er and Energy; it will avail them nothing, though they should be able to explain all the particular Ef∣fects, even the Origination of Animals, by mecha∣nical principles. But however at present I will Page 103 forbear to urge this against the Atheist. For, though I should allow him, that this Catholick Principle of Gravitation is essential to Matter without intro∣ducing a God; yet I will defie him to shew, how a Humane Body could be at first produced natural∣ly, according to the present System of things, and the mechanical affections of Matter.
And because this Atheist professeth to believe as much as we; that the first production of Mankind was in a quite different manner from the present and ordinary method of Nature, and yet affirms never∣theless, that That was Natural too; which seems at the first sight to be little less than a contradiction: It should lie upon him to make out, how matter by undirected Motion could at first necessarily fall, without ever Erring or Miscarrying, into such a curi∣ous formation of Humane Bodies; a thing that by his own confession it was never able to do since, or at least hath not done for some thousands of years: he should declare to us what shape and contexture Matter then had, which it cannot have now: how it came to be altered by long course of time, so that living Men can no longer be produced out of pu∣trefaction in the primary way; and yet the species of Mankind, that now consists of and is nourished by Matter so altered, should continue to be the same as it was from the beginning. He should un∣dertake Page 104 to explain to us the first steps and the whole progress of such a formation; at least by way of Hypothesis, how it naturally might have been, tho' he affirm not that it was actually so. Whether he hath a new Notion peculiar to himself about that Production, or takes up with some old one, that is ready at hand: whether that most witty Conceit of Anaximander, That the first Men and all Animals* were bred in some warm moisture, inclosed in cru∣staceous skins, as if they were various kinds of Crab∣fish and Lobsters; and so continued till they ar∣rived at perfect age; when their shelly Prisons growing dry and breaking made way for their li∣berty: or the no less ingenious opinion of the great Empedocles; That Mother Earth first brought forth* vast numbers of Legs, and Arms, and Heads, and the other members of the Body, scatter'd and di∣stinct, and all at their full growth; which coming together and cementing (as the pieces of Snakes and Lizards are said to do, if one cuts them asunder) and so configuring themselves into Humane shape, made lusty proper Men of thirty years age in an instant: or rather the divine Doctrine of Epicurus and the Aegyptians; That there first grew up a sort* of Wombs, that had their Roots in the Earth, and attracted thence a kind of Milk for the nourishment of the inclosed Foetus; which at the time of matu∣rity Page 105 broke through those Membranes, and shifted for themselves. I say, he ought to acquaint us which of these he is for, or bring a new explication of his own; and not require Us to prove the Ne∣gative, That a Spontaneous production of Man∣kind, neither warranted by example, nor defended by reason, nevertheless may not possibly have been true. This is a very unreasonable demand, and we might justly put him off with such an answer as this; That there are several things, which all men in their wits do disbelieve, and yet none but mad∣men will go about to disprove. But to shew him how much we endeavour to satisfie and oblige him, I will venture once for his sake to incurr the censure of some persons for being elaborately trifling. For with respect to the most of Mankind, such wretched absurdities are more wisely contemn'd than confu∣ted; and to give them a serious answer, may only make them look more considerable.
First then, I take it for granted by him, That there were the same Laws of Motion, and the like general Fabrick of the Earth, Sea and Atmosphere, at the beginning of Mankind, as there are at this day. For if any Laws at first were once settled and constituted; like those of the Medes and Persians, they are never to be reversed. To violate and in∣fringe them, is the same as what we call Miracle; Page 106 and doth not sound very Philosophically out of the mouth of an Atheist. He must allow therefore, that Bodies were endowed with the same affections and tendencies then as ever since, and that if an Ax∣head be supposed to float upon water, which is spe∣cifically* much lighter than it; it had been superna∣tural at that time, as well as in the days of Elisha. And this is all that I desire him to acknowledge at present. So that he may admit of those Arguments as valid and conclusive against his Hypothesis, that are fairly drawn from the present powers of Mat∣ter, and the visible constitution of the World.
Now that we may come to the point; All Mat∣ter is either Fluid or Solid, in a large acceptation of the words, that they may comprehend even all the middle degrees between extreme Fixedness and Co∣herency, and the most rapid intestine motion of the Particles of Bodies. Now the most cavilling Atheist must allow, that a solid inanimate Body, while it remains in that state, where there is none, or a very small and inconsiderable change of Tex∣ture, is wholly incapable of a vital production. So that the first Humane Body, without Parents and without Creator, if such an one ever was, must have naturally been produced in and constituted by a Fluid. And because this Atheist goes mechanically to work; the universal Laws of Fluids must have been Page 107 rigidly observed during the whole process of the Formation. Now this is a Catholick Rule of Sta∣ticks;* That if any Body be bulk for bulk heavier than a Fluid, it will sink to the bottom of that Flu∣id; and if lighter, it will float upon it; having* part of it self extant, and part immersed to such a determinate depth, as that so much of the Fluid as is equal in Bulk to the immersed part, be equal in Gravity to the whole. And consequently if several portions of one and the same Fluid have a different specifick gravity, the heavier will always (in a free vessel) be gradually the lower; unless violently shaken and blended together by external concussion. But that cannot be in our present case. For I am unwilling to affront this Atheist so much, as to suppose him to believe, that the first organical Body might possibly be effected in some Fluid por∣tion of Matter, while its Heterogeneous parts were jumbled and confounded together by a Storm, or Hurricane, or Earthquake. To be sure he will ra∣ther have the primitive Man to be produced by a long process in a kind of digesting Balneum, where all the heavier Lees may have time to subside, and a due Aequilibrium be maintain'd, not disturb'd by any such rude and violent shocks, that would ruffle and break all the little Stamina of the Embryon, if it were a making before. Now because all the parts Page 108 of an undisturb'd Fluid are either of equal Gravity, or gradually placed and storied according to the differences of it; any concretion that can be suppo∣sed to be naturally and mechanically made in such a Fluid, must have a like structure of its several parts; that is, either be all over of a similar Gra∣vity, or have the more ponderous parts nearer to its Basis. But there need no more concessions than this, to extinguish these supposed First-born of Na∣ture in their very formation. For suppose a Hu∣mane Body to be a forming in such a Fluid in any imaginable posture, it will never be reconcileable to this Hydrostatical Law. There will be always some∣thing lighter beneath, and something heavier above; because Bone, or what is then the Stuff and Rudiments of Bone, the heaviest in specie, will be ever in the midst. Now what can make the heavier particles of Bone ascend above the lighter ones of Flesh, or depress these below those, against the tendency of their own Nature? This would be wholly as miraculous, as the swimming of Iron in Water at the command of Elisha, and as impossible to be, as that the Lead of an Edifice should naturally and spontaneously mount up to the Roof, while lighter materials em∣ploy themselves beneath it: or that a Statue, like that in Nebuchadnezzar's Vision, whose Head was of fine and most ponderous Gold, and his Feet of ligh∣ter Page 109 materials, Iron and Clay, should mechanically erect it self upon them for its Basis.
Secondly, Because this Atheist goes mechanical∣ly to work, he will not offer to affirm, That all the parts of the Embryon could according to his explica∣tion be formed at a time. This would be a super∣natural thing, and an effectual refutation of his own Principles. For the Corpuscles of Matter having no consciousness of one anothers acting (at least be∣fore or during the Formation; as will be allowed by that very Atheist, that attributes Reason and Per∣ception to them, when the Formation is finished) they could not consent and make a compact toge∣ther, to carry on the work in several places at once; and one party of them be forming the Brain, while another is modelling the Heart, and a third deli∣neating the Veins. No, there must be, according to Mechanism, a successive and gradual operation: Some few Particles must first be united together, and so by apposition and mutual connexion still more and more by degrees, till the whole System be completed: and a Fermentation must be excited in some assignable place, which may expand it self by its Elastical power; and break through, where it meets with the weakest resistance; and so by that so simple and mechanical action, may excavate all the various Ducts and Ventricles of the Body. This Page 110 is the only general account, as mean as it appears to be, that this Machin of an Atheist can give of that fearfull and wonderfull Production. Now to confute these Pretences, First, There is that visible Harmony and Symmetry in a Humane Body, such a mutual communication of every vessel and mem∣ber of it, as gives an internal evidence; that it was not formed successively, and patch'd up by piece∣meal. So uniform and orderly a system with in∣numerable Motions and Functions, all so placed and constituted, as never to interfere and clash one with another, and disturb the Oeconomy of the whole, must needs be ascribed to an Intelligent Ar∣tist; and to such an Artist, as did not begin the matter unprepared and at a venture; and, when he was put to a stand, paused and hesitated, which way he should proceed; but he had first in his com∣prehensive Intellect a complete Idea and Model of the whole Organical Body, before he enter'd upon the Work. But Secondly, if they affirm, That mere Matter by its mechanical Affections, without any design or direction, could form the Body by steps and degrees; what member then do they pitch up∣on for the foundation and cause of all the rest? Let them shew us the beginning of this Circle; and the first Wheel of this Perpetual Motion. Did the Blood first exist, antecedent to the formation of the Heart? Page 111 But that is to set the Effect before the Cause: be∣cause all the Blood that we know of, is made in and by the Heart, having the quite different form and qualities of Chyle, before it comes thither. Must the Heart then have been formed and constitu∣ted, before the Blood was in being? But here again, the Substance of the Heart it self is most certainly made and nourished by the Blood, which is con∣veyed to it by the Coronary Arteries. And thus it is through the whole system of the Body; every member doth mutually sustain and supply one ano∣ther;* and all are coaetaneous, because none of them can subsist alone. But they will say, That a little Ferment first making a Cavity, which became the left Ventricle of the Heart, did thence further ex∣pand it self, and thereby delineate all the Arteries of the Body. Now if such a slight and sorry business as that, could produce an Organical Body; one might reasonably expect, that now and then a dead lump of Dough might be leaven'd into an Animal: for there a like Ferment makes notable Tumours and Ventricles; besides sundry long and small Cha∣nels, which may pass tolerably well for Arteries and Veins. But I pray, in this supposed Mechanical Formation, when the Ferment was expanded to the extremities of the Arteries, if it still had any elastical force remaining, why did it not go on and break Page 112 through the Receptacle, as other Ferment must be allowed to have done at the Mouth and the Nostrils? There was as yet no membranous Skin formed, that might stop and repell it. Or if the force of it was spent, and did not wheel about and return; what mechanical cause then shall we assign for the Veins? for this Ferment is there supposed to have proceeded from the small capillary extremities of them to the Great Vein and the Heart; otherwise it made Valves, which would have stopp'd its own passage. And why did that Ferment, that at first dispersed it self from the Great Artery into infinite little ramifications, take a quite contrary method in the making of the Veins, where innumerable little Rivulets have their confluence into the Great Vein, the common chanel of the Blood? Are such oppo∣site motions both equally mechanical, when in both cases the Matter was under the same modification? And again, When the first Ferment is excited, and forms the left Ventricle of the Heart; if the Fluid Matter be uniform and of a similar texture, and therefore on all sides equally resist the Expansion; then the Cavity must continue One, dilated more and more, 'till the expansive force and the uniform resistance be reduced to an equality, and so no∣thing at all can be formed by this Ferment, but a single round Bubble. And moreover this Bubble Page 113 (if that could make a Heart) by reason of its com∣parative Levity to the Fluid that incloses it, would necessarily ascend to the top; and consequently we should never find the Heart in the midst of the Breast. But if the Fluid be supposed to consist of Heterogeneous Particles, then we cannot conceive how those dissimilar parts should have a like situa∣tion in two several Fluids, when the Ferment be∣gins. So that upon this supposition there could be no Species of Animals, nor any Similitude between them: One would have its Lungs, where another hath its Liver, and all the other Members prepo∣sterously placed; there could not be a like Confi∣guration of Parts in any two Individuals. And a∣gain, What is that which determines the Growth of all living Creatures? What principles of Mechanism are sufficient to explain it? Why do not all Ani∣mals continually increase in bigness during the whole space of their Lives, as it is reported of the Crocodile? What sets a bound to their stature and dimensions? Or if we suppose a Bound and Ne plus ultra to be mechanically fixed: but then why so great a variety in the Bulk of the several Kinds? why also such Constancy observed in that manifold Variety? For as some of the largest Trees have Seeds no bigger or even less than some diminutive Plants, and yet every Seed is a perfect Plant with Page 114 Trunk and Branches and Leaves inclosed in a Shell: So the first Embryon of an Ant is supposed by in∣quisitive* Naturalists to be as big, as that of an Ele∣phant, and to promise as fair at its primitive For∣mation for as spacious a Body: which nevertheless by an immutable Decree can never arrive to the millionth part of the others Bulk. And what mo∣dification of the first liquid Matter can vary so much, as to make one Embryon capable of so pro∣digiously vast augmentation, while another is con∣fined to the minuteness of an Insect? Is not this ma∣nifestly a Divine Sanction, that hath fixed and de∣termin'd the Shape, the Stature, the Appetites, and the Duration of all Creatures in the World? Hither must we have recourse in that great and mysterious Affair of an Organical Formation: And I profess that I cannot discern one step in the whole, that is agreeable to the natural Laws of Motion. If we consider the Heart, which is supposed to be the first principle of Motion and Life, and divide it by our Imagination into its constituent Parts, its Arteries and Veins and Nerves and Tendons and Mem∣branes, and innumerable little Fibres, that these Se∣condary Parts do consist of; we shall find nothing here Singular, but what is in any other Muscle of the Body. 'Tis only the Site and Posture of these several Parts and the Configuration of the whole, Page 115 that give it the Form and Functions of a Heart. Now why should the first single Fibres in the For∣mation of the Heart be peculiarly drawn in Spiral Lines; when the Fibres of all other Muscles are made by a transverse rectilinear Motion? What could determine the Fluid Matter into that odd and singular Figure, when as yet no other Member is supposed to be form'd, that might direct the Course of that Fluid Matter? Let Mechanism here make an Experiment of its Power, and produce a spiral and turbinated motion of the whole moved Body with∣out an external Director. When all the Organs are once framed by a supernatural and divine Prin∣ciple, we do willingly admit of Mechanism in ma∣ny Functions of the Body: but that the Organs themselves should be mechanically formed, we con∣ceive it to be impossible and utterly inexplicable. And if any Atheist will give a clear and philosophi∣cal account of the things that are here touch'd up∣on; he may then hear of many more and perhaps more difficult than these, which their unfitness for a popular Auditory, and the remaining parts of my Subject, that press forward to be treated of, oblige me now to omit.
But as the Atheist, when he is put to it to ex∣plain, How any Motion of dead Matter can beget Thought and Perception, will endeavour to defend Page 116 his baffled Impiety with the instance of Brutes, which he calls Thinking Machines: so will he now also appeal from the Arbitration of Reason in the Case of Animal Productions, to Example and Matter of Fact. He will declaim to us about the admirable Structure of the Bodies of Insects; that they have all the Vital Parts, which the largest of Quadrupeds and even Man himself can boast of; and yet they are the easie and obvious Products of unintelligent Nature, that spontaneously and me∣chanically form them out of putrefied Carcasses and the warm moisture of the Soil: and (which is mightily to his purpose) these Insects, so begotten without Parents, have nevertheless fit Organs of Generation and Difference of Sex, and can propa∣gate their own kinds, as if themselves had been be∣gotten so too: and that if Mother Earth in this her barrenness and decrepitness of Age can procreate such swarms of curious Engins, which not only themselves enjoy their portion of Life, but by a most wonderfull Instinct impart it to many more, and continue their Species: might she not in the flower of her Youth, while she was succulent and fertil, have produced Horses and Elephants and e∣ven Mankind it self, the largest and perfectest Ani∣mals, as easily as in this parched and steril conditi∣on she can make a Frog or an Insect? Thus he Page 117 thinks, he hath made out from Example and Ana∣logy, that at the Beginning of things every Species of Animals might spring mechanically out of the Soil without an Intelligent Creator. And indeed there is no one thing in the World, which hath gi∣ven so much Countenance and Shadow of Possibi∣lity to the Notion of Atheism, as this unfortunate mistake about the aequivocal generation of Insects: And as the oldest Remains of Atheistical Writings are full of this Comparison; so it is the main refuge of those, that in this and the last Age have had the Folly and Impudence to appear in so wretched a Cause.
Now to this last Subterfuge of the Mechanical Atheists we can occurr several ways. And at pre∣sent we affirm, First, ex abundanti, That though we should allow them the spontaneous production of some minute Animals, yet a like primitive Origina∣tion of Mankind could not thence be concluded. Because they first tacitly suppose, that there is an universal decay of Moisture and Fertility in the Earth. And they cannot avoid the necessity of so doing: For if the Soil be as fruitfull now, as it was in the beginning; why would it not produce Men, and the nobler kinds of Beasts in our days too, if ever it did so? So that if that supposition be evinc'd to be erroneous and groundless, all the Arguments Page 118 that they build upon it, will be subverted at once. Now what more easily refuted, than that old vulgar Assertion of an universal Drought and Exsiccation of the Earth? As if the Sun could evaporate the least drop of its Moisture, so that it should never descend again, but be attracted and elevated quite out of the Atmosphere? 'Tis now a matter agreed and allowed by all competent Judges, that every Particle of Matter is endowed with a Principle of Gravity, whereby it would descend to the Centre, if it were not repelled upwards by heavier bodies. So that the smallest Corpuscle of Vapour, if we sup∣pose it to be exhaled to the top of the Atmosphere, thence it must come down again, or at least must there remain incumbent upon others: for there's either Nothing or nothing heavier above it to pro∣trude it any higher, neither can it spontaneously mount any more against the tendency of its nature. And lest some ignorant Atheist should suspect, that peradventure there may be no such Top of the At∣mosphere; but that it may be continued on to the Sun or to indefinite Space: he must vouchsafe to be instructed, That the whole weight of any Column of the Atmosphere, and likewise the Specifick gravi∣ty of its Basis are certainly known by many Expe∣riments; and that by this computation (even ma∣king allowance for its gradually larger Expansion, Page 119 the higher we go,) the very top of any Pillar of Air is not One hundred Miles distant from the Surface of the Earth. So that hence it is manifest, that the whole Terraqueous Globe with its Atmosphere can∣not naturally have lost the least particle of Moisture, since the foundation of the World. But still they may insist, That although the whole Globe cannot be deprived of any of its Moisture, yet the habi∣table Earth may have been perpetually the drier, seeing it is assiduously drained and exhausted by the Seas. But to this we reply, That the very contra∣ry is demonstrable; That the longer the World shall continue, the moister the whole Aggregate of the Land will be. For (to take no notice of the supply of its moisture by Rains and Snow and Dews and Condensation of Vapours, and perhaps by sub∣terraneous passages) the tops of Mountains and Hills will be continually washed down by the Rains, and the Chanels of Rivers corroded by the Streams; and the Mud that is thereby conveyed into the Sea will raise its bottom the higher; and consequently the Declivity of Rivers will be so much the less; and therefore the Continents will be the less drain'd, and will gradually increase in Humidity from the first period of their Duration to the final Consum∣mation of all things: if the successive production of Plants and Animals, which are all made up of and Page 120 nourish'd by Water, and perhaps never wholly re∣turn to Water again, do not keep things at a poise; or if the Divine Power do not interpose and change the settled course and order of Nature.
But let us allow their supposition, That the To∣tal of the dry Land may have been robbed of some of its Moisture which it had at its first Constitution: yet still there are some parts of the Earth sufficiently soak'd and water'd, to produce, Men and Ani∣mals now, if ever they did at all. For do not the Nile, and the Niger, and the Ganges, and the Menam, make yearly Inundations in our days, as they have formerly done? And are not the Coun∣tries so overflown still situate between the Tropicks under the direct and most vigorous Rays of the Sun, the very place where these Mechanical Atheists lay the Scene of that great Transaction? So that if Man∣kind had ever sprung naturally out of the Soil, the Experiment would succeed now every year in Aethio∣pia and Siam; where are all the requisite qualificati∣ons that ever have been, for such a production. And again, if there hath been such a gradual dimi∣nution of the Generative Faculty of the Earth, that it hath dwindled from nobler Animals to puny Mice and Insects; why was there not the like decay in the production of Vegetables? We should have lost by this time the whole Species of Oaks and Ce∣dars Page 121 and the other tall and lofty Sons of the Forest, and have found nothing but dwarfish Shrubs and creeping Moss and despicable Mushroms. Or if they deny the present spontaneous production of larger Plants, and confine the Earth to as Pigmie Births in the Vegetable Kingdom, as they do in the other: yet surely in such a supposed universal de∣cay of Nature, even Mankind it self that is now nourished (though not produced) by the Earth, must have degenerated in Stature and Strength in every Generation. And yet we have certain de∣monstration from the Aegyptian Mummies, and Ro∣man Urns and Rings and Measures and Aedifices and many other Antiquities, that Humane Stature is not diminished at all for the last Two Thousand years. Now if the Decay has not been constant and gradual, there has been no Decay at all; or at least no natural one, nor what may be accounted for by this Mechanical Atheist. I conclude therefore, That although we should allow the spontaneous pro∣duction of Insects; yet no Argument can be deduced from thence for a like Origination of Mankind.
But, Secondly, we affirm, That no Insect or Ani∣mal did ever proceed aequivocally from Putrefacti∣on, unless in miraculous Cases, as in Aegypt by the Divine Judgments; but all are generated from Pa∣rents of their own kind, Male and Female; a Dis∣covery Page 122 of that great Importance, that perhaps few Inventions of this Age can pretend to equal Useful∣ness and Merit; and which alone is sufficient (if the Vices of Men did not captivate their Reason) to ex∣plode and exterminate rank Atheism out of the World. For if all Animals be propagated by Gene∣ration from Parents of their own Species, and there be no instance in Nature of even a Gnat or a Mite either now or in former Ages spontaneously pro∣duced: how came there to be such Animals in Be∣ing, and whence could they proceed? There is no need of much study and deliberation about it: for either they have existed eternally by infinite Succes∣sions already gone and past, which is in its very* Notion absurd and impossible; or their Origin must be ascribed to a supernatural and Divine Power, that formed and created them. Now to prove our assertion about the Seminal production of all living Creatures; that we may not repeat the Reasons which we have offer'd before against the first Me∣chanical Formation of Humane Bodies, which are equally valid against the spontaneous Origin of the minutest Insects; we appeal to Observation and Ex∣periment, which carry the strongest conviction with them, and make the most sensible and lasting im∣pressions. For whereas it hath been the general Tradition and Belief, that Maggots and Flies breed Page 123 in putrefied Carcasses, and particularly Bees come* from Oxen, and Hornets from Horses, and Scorpi∣ons from Crabfish, &c. all is now found to be Fable and Mistake. That sagacious and learned Natu∣ralist Francisco Redi made innumerable trials with* the putrid Flesh of all sorts of Beasts and Fowls and Fishes and Serpents, with corrupted Cheese and Herbs and Fruits and even Insects themselves: and he constantly found, that all those Kinds of Putre∣faction did only afford a Nest and Aliment for the Eggs and Young of those Insects that he admit∣ted to come there; but produced no Animal of themselves by a spontaneous Formation. For when he suffer'd those things to putrefie in Hermetically sealed Glasses, and Vessels close cover'd with Paper; and not only so, lest the Exclusion of the Air might be supposed to hinder the Experiment; but in Ves∣sels cover'd with fine Lawn, so as to admit the Air and keep out the Insects: no living thing was ever produced there, though he exposed them to the acti∣on of the Sun, in the warm Climate of Florence, and in the kindest season of the year. Even flies crush'd and corrupted, when inclosed in such Vessels, did never procreate a new Fly: though there, if in any case, one would have expected that success. And when the Vessels were open, and the Insects had free access to the Aliment within them, he diligently Page 124 observed, that no other Species were produced, but of such as he saw go in and feed and deposit their Eggs there: which they would readily do in all Pu∣trefaction; even in a mucilage of bruised Spiders, where Worms were soon hatch'd out of such Eggs, and quickly changed into Flies of the same kind with their Parents. And was not that a surprizing Transformation indeed, if according to the vulgar opinion those dead and corrupted Spiders spontane∣ously changed into Flies? And thus far we are obli∣ged to the diligence of Redi: from whence we may conclude, That no dead Flesh nor Herbs nor other putrefied Bodies, nor any thing that hath not then actually either a vegetable or animal Life can pro∣duce any Insect. And if we should allow, as he did, that every Animal and Plant doth naturally breed and nourish by its substance some peculiar In∣sect: yet the Atheist could make no advantage of this Concession as to a like Origination of Man∣kind. For surely 'tis beyond even an Atheist's Credulity and Impudence, to affirm that the first Men might proceed out of the Galls and Tumors of Leaves of Trees, as some Maggots and Flies are supposed to do now; or might grow upon Trees, as the story goes about Barnacles; or perhaps might be the Lice of some vast prodigious Animals, whose Species is now extinct. But though we sup∣pose Page 125 him guilty of such an extravagant folly, he will only shift the difficulty, and not wholly re∣move it; for we shall still expect an account of the spontaneous Formation of those mountainous kind of Animals and Men-bearing Trees. And as to the Worms that are bred in the Intestines and other in∣ward parts of Living Creatures, their production is not material to our present enquiry, till some Atheist do affirm, that his own Ancestors had such an Ori∣ginal. I say, if we should allow this concession of Redi, it would do no service to our Adversaries: but even here also they are defeated by the happy curiosity of Malpighi and others, who observed and* discovered, That each of those Tumours and Ex∣crescences of Plants, out of which generally issues a Fly or a Worm, are at first made by such Insects, which wound the tender buds with a long hollow Trunk, and deposit an Egg in the hole with a sharp corroding liquor, which causeth a swelling in the leaf, and so closeth the orifice: and within this Tu∣mor the Worm is hatcht and receives its aliment, till it hath eat its way through. Neither need we recurr to an aequivocal production of Vermin in the Phthiriasis and in Herod's Disease, who was 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, eaten of worms, or maggots. Those* horrible distempers are always accompanied with putrefying ulcers; and it hath been observed by Page 126 the most accurate Lewenhoeck, that Lice and Flies,* which have a most wonderfull instinct and acute∣ness of sense to find out convenient places for the hatching and nourishment of their young, do migh∣tily endeavour to lay their Eggs upon Sores; and that One will lay above a hundred Eggs, and may naturally increase to some hundreds of thousands in a quarter of a year: which gives a full and satisfa∣ctory account of the Phoenomena of those Diseases. And whereas it is said, Exod. 16. v. 20. That some of the Israelites left of the Manna until the morning, and it bred worms and stank; which an Atheist may make an objection, as either against Us, or against the truth of the Scriptures: I understand it no other∣wise, than that the Manna was fly-blown. It was then the Month of October, which in that Southern Climate, after the preceding Autumnal Rains, doth afford a favourable season and copious nutriment for infinite swarms of Insects. Neither do I ascribe it to a miraculous power, that some of the Manna should breed worms, but that all the rest should be preserved sound and untainted. And if any one shall rigidly urge from that passage the literal ex∣pression of breeding; he must allow Moses to speak in the language of the Vulgar in common affairs of life. We do now generally believe the Copernican System; yet I suppose upon ordinary occasions we Page 127 shall still use the popular terms of Sun rise and Sun∣set, and not introduce a new pedantick description of them from the motion of the Earth. And then as to the vulgar opinion, That Frogs are made in the Clouds and brought down by the Rains, it may be thus easily refuted: for at that very instant, when they are supposed to descend, you may find by dissection not only their Stomachs full of meat, but their Intestines full of excrement: so that 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 monstrous producti∣ons in Aegypt 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, & quicquid Graecia mendax; altogether as true, as what is seriously related by Helmont, That* foul Linen, stopt in a vessel that hath Wheat in it, will in 21 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 cover'd 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 Page 128 of Mice; that it doth not produce the very Wee∣vils that live in it and consume it: the whole course of whose generation and periodical changes hath been curiously observed and described by the inge∣nious Lewenhoek. And moreover, that we may deprive the Atheist of all hopes and pretensions of Argument from this baffled opinion of aequivocal Insects, we will acquaint him from the most accu∣rate 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 cover'd with Membranes and Tunicles, which are afterwards stript off and laid aside: and all the rest of that process is no more surprizing, than the eruption of Horns in some Brutes, or of Teeth and Beard in Men at certain periods of age. And as we have establish'd our assertion of the seminal production of all kinds of Animals; so likewise we affirm, That the meanest Plant cannot be rais'd without seed by any formative power residing in the Soil. To which assertion we are encourag'd, First, from the known Seeds of all Vegetables, one or two only excepted, that are left to future disco∣very: which Seeds by the help of Microscopes are all found to be real and perfect Plants, with Leaves Page 129 and Trunk curiously folded up and enclosed in the Cortex: nay one single grain of Wheat or Barly 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 foecundity above any others: and se∣condly, 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 produc'd out of Earth without a praeexistent seed; and con∣sequently they were all created and raised at the be∣ginning 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 di∣stance from any Sea; which this Atheist may pos∣sibly allege for an instance of a Plastick faculty of Nature; 'tis now generally agreed by the most di∣ligent Inquirers about them, That they are no sportfull productions of the Soil, as was formerly believed, but that all did once belong to real and Page 130 living Fishes; since each of them exactly resembles some Shell of the Seas, both in its outward linea∣ments, and inward texture, and specifick gravity, and all other properties: which therefore are so far from being subservient to Atheists in their audaci∣ous 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 su∣pernatural Formation. If the Earth in its first con∣stitution had been left to it self, what horrid defor∣mity 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 Na∣ture. An eternal Sterility must have possessed the World, where all things had been fixed and fasten'd everlastingly with the Adamantin chains of Specifick 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. 'Twas God, that then crea∣ted Page 131 the first seminal forms of all Animals and Vege∣tables, that commanded the Waters to bring forth abun∣dantly, 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 fruitfull and multiply and replenish the Earth; by whose alone power and conservation we all live and move and have our Being.
A CONFUTATION OF ATHEISM FROM THE Structure and Origin of Humane Bodies.
The Third and Last PART
The Fifth SERMON preached Septemb. 5. 1692.
Acts XVII. 27.
IN my former Discourses I have endeavour'd to prove, that Humane Race was neither (1) from Everlasting without beginning; nor (2) owes its beginning to the Influence of Heavenly Bodies; nor (3) to what they call Page 133 Nature, that is, the necessary and mechanical moti∣ons of dead senseless Matter. I proceed now to examin the fourth and last Plea of the Enemies to Religion and their own Souls, That Mankind came accidentally into the World, and hath its Life and Motion and Being by mere Chance and Fortune.
We need not much wonder, that this last Opi∣nion should obtain almost universally among the Atheists of these times. For whereas the Other require some small stock of Philosophy to under∣stand or maintain them: This Account is so easie and compendious, that it needs none at all; and consequently is the more proper and agreeable to the great Industry and Capacity of the most nume∣rous Party of them. For what more easie to say, than that all the Bodies of the first Animals and Plants were shuffled into their several Forms and Structures fortuitously, that is, these Atheists know not how, nor will trouble themselves to endeavour to know? For that is the meaning of Chance; and yet this is all, that they say, or can say to the great Matter in question. And indeed this little is enough in all reason; and could they impose on the rest of Mankind, as easily as delude themselves, with a notion, That Chance can effect a thing; it would be the most expedite and effectual means to make their Cause victorious over Vertue and Reli∣gion. Page 134 For if you once allow them such an ac∣ceptation of Chance, you have precluded your self (they think) from any more reasoning and objecting against them. The Mechanical Atheist, though you grant him his Laws of Mechanism, is never∣theless inextricably puzzled and baffled with the first Formation of Animals: for he must undertake to determine all the various Motions and Figures and Positions and Combinations of his Atoms; and to demonstrate, that such a quantity of Motion im∣pressed upon Particles so shaped and situated, will necessarily range and dispose them into the Form and Frame of an Organical Body: an attempt as difficult and unpromising of success, as if he him∣self should make the Essay to produce some new Kinds of Animals out of such senseless Materials, or to rebuild the moving and living Fabrick out of its dust in the grave. But the Atheist, that we are now to deal with, if you do but concede to him, that Fortune may be an Agent; presumes himself safe and invulnerable, secure above the reach of any further disputes. For if you proceed to ask questi∣ons, and bid him assign the proper Causes and de∣terminate Manner of that fortuitous Formation, you thereby deny him what you granted before, and take away the very Hypothesis and the Nature of Chance; which supposeth that no certain Cause Page 135 or Manner of it can possibly be assigned. And as the stupidity of some Libertines, that demand a sight of a Spirit or Humane Soul to convince them of its existence, hath been frequently and deserved∣ly exposed; because whatsoever may be the object of our Sight, must not be a Soul or Spirit, but an opake Body: so this Atheist would tax us of the like Nonsense and Contradiction; if after he hath named to us Fortune or Chance, we should expect from him any particular and distinct account of the Origin of Mankind. Because it is the very essence and notion of his Chance, to be wholly unaccoun∣table: and if an account could be given of it; it would then no longer be Chance but Mechanism, or a necessary production of certain Effects from certain Causes according to the Universal Laws of Motion. Thus we are to know, that if once we ad∣mit of Fortune in the Formation of Mankind; there is no further enquiry to be made, no more Difficul∣ties to be solved, and no Account to be demanded. And who then can admire, if the inviting easiness and compendiousness of this Assertion should so dazle the Eyes of our Atheist, that he overlooks those gross Absurdities, that are so conspicuous in it?
(1) For first, if this Atheist would have his Chance or Fortune to be a real and substantial A∣gent; as the Vulgar seem to have commonly ap∣prehended, Page 136 some making it a Divinity, others they do not conceive what: he is doubly more stupid and more supinely ignorant than those Vulgar; in that he assumes such a notion of Fortune, as besides its being erroneous, is inconsistent with his Atheism. For since according to the Atheists, the whole Uni∣verse is Corpus & mane, Body and nothing else: this Chance, if it do really and physically effect any thing, must it self be Body also. And what a nu∣merous train of Absurdities do attend such an as∣sertion? too visible and obvious to deserve to be here insisted on. For indeed it is no less than flat contradiction to it self. For if this Chance be sup∣posed to be a Body; it must then be a part of the common Mass of Matter: and consequently be sub∣ject to the universal and necessary Laws of Motion: and therefore it cannot be Chance, but true Me∣chanism and Nature.
(2) But secondly, if he forbear to call Chance a real Agent, and is content to have it only a Re∣sult or Event; since all Matter or some portion of it may be naturally exempt from these supposed Mechanical Laws, and be endowed with a power of spontaneous or fortuitous Motion; which power, when it is exerted, must produce an Effect proper∣ly Casual, and therefore might constitute the first Animate Bodies accidentally, against the supposed Page 137 natural tendency of the Particles of those Bodies: even this second Assertion is contrary to common Sense, as well as common Observation. For how can he conceive, that any parcel of dead Matter can spontaneonsly divert and decline it self from the line of its motion without a new impulse from ex∣ternal Bodies? If it can intrinsically stir it self, and either commence its Motion or alter its course; it must have a principle of self-activity, which is Life and Sense. But Sense I have proved formerly to* be incompatible with mere Bodies, even those of the most compound and elaborate textures; much more with single Atoms or solid Particles of Mat∣ter, that having no intestine motion of Parts are de∣stitute of the first foundation and capacity of Life. And moreover, though these Particles should be supposed to have this internal principle of Sense, it would still be repugnant to the notion of Chance: because their Motions would not then be Casual, but Voluntary; not by Chance, but Choice and De∣sign. And Again, we appeal to Observation, whe∣ther any Bodies have such a power of Fortuitous Motion: we should surely have experiment of it in the effects of Nature and Art: No Body would re∣tain the same constant and uniform Weight accord∣ing to its Bulk and Substance; but would vary per∣petually, as that spontaneous power of Motion Page 138 should determin its present tendency. All the va∣rious Machins and Utensils would now and then play odd Pranks and Capricio's quite contrary to their proper Structures and Designs of the Artificers. Whereas on the contrary all Bodies are observed to have always a certain and determinate Motion ac∣cording to the degrees of their External Impulse, and their inward Principle of Gravitation, and the Resistance of the Bodies they occurr with: which therefore is without Error exactly foreseen and com∣puted by sagacious Artists. And if ever Dead Mat∣ter should deviate from this Motion; it could not proceed from it self, but a supernatural Agent; and ought not to be called a Chance, but a Miracle.
For Chance is but a mere name, and really No∣thing in it self: a Conception of our own Minds, and only a Compendious way of speaking, where∣by we would express, That such Effects, as are commonly attributed to Chance, were verily pro∣duced by their true and proper Causes, but without their designing to produce them. And in any E∣vent called Casual, if you take away the real and physical Causes, there remains nothing, but a sim∣ple Negation of the Agents intending such an E∣vent: which Negation being no real Entity, but a Conception only of Man's Intellect wholly ex∣trinsecal to the Action, can have no title to a share Page 139 in the production. As in that famous Example (which Plutarch says, is the only one, where For∣tune* is related to have done a thing artificially) when a Painter having finish'd the Picture of a Horse, excepting the loose Froth about his Mouth and his Bridle; and after many unsuccessfull essays despair∣ing to do that to his satisfaction, in a great rage threw his Spunge at it, all besmear'd, as it was, with the Colours; which fortunately hitting upon the right place, by one bold stroke of Chance most exactly supplied the want of Skill in the Artist: even here it is manifest, that considering the Quantity and Determination of the Motion, that was im∣pressed by the Painter's hand upon the Spunge, com▪ pounded with the specifick Gravity of the Spunge, and resistance of the Air; the Spunge did mechani∣cally and unavoidably move in that particular line of Motion, and so necessarily hit upon that part of the Picture; and all the paint, that it left there, was as certainly placed by true natural Causes, as any one stroke of the Pencil in the whole Piece. So that this strange effect of the Spunge was fortuitous only with respect to the Painter, because he did not design nor forsee such an effect; but in it self and as to its real Causes it was necessary and natural. In a word, the true notion of Fortune (〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) denoteth no more, than the Ignorance of such an Page 140 event in some Knowing Agent concerned about it. So that it owes its very Being to Humane Under∣standing, and without relation to that is really No∣thing. How absurd then and ridiculous is the A∣theist, that would make this Fortune the cause of the Formation of Mankind; whereas manifestly there could be no such Thing or Notion in the World as Fortune, till Humane Nature was actu∣ally formed? It was Man that first made Fortune, and not Fortune that produced Man. For since Fortune in its proper acceptation supposeth the Ig∣norance of something, in a subject capable of Knowledge; if you take away Mankind, such a Notion hath no Existence, neither with relation to Inanimate Bodies that can be conscious of no∣thing, nor to an Omniscient God, that can be ig∣norant of nothing. And so likewise the adequate Meaning of Chance (〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) (as it is distin∣guished from Fortune; in that the latter is under∣stood to befall only Rational Agents, but Chance to be among Inanimate Bodies) is a bare Negation, that signifies no more than this, That any Effect a∣mong such Bodies ascribed to Chance, is really pro∣duced by Physical Agents, according to the esta∣blished Laws of Motion, but without their Consci∣ousness of concurring to the Production, and with∣out their Intention of such an Effect. So that ChancePage 141 in its true sense is all one with Nature; and both words are used promiscuously by* some ancient Writers to express the same thing. And we must be wary, lest we ascribe any real Subsistence or Personality to this Nature or Chance: for it is merely a notional and imaginary thing; an abstract Universal, which is properly Nothing; a Conception of our own making, occasion'd by our reflecting upon the settled Course of things; deno∣ting only thus much, That all those Bodies move and act according to their essential properties and qualities without any consciousness or intention of so doing. So that in this genuine acceptation of Chance, here is nothing supposed, that can super∣sede the known Laws of Natural Motion: and thus to attribute the Formation of Mankind to Chance, is all one with the former Atheistical Assertion, that ascribes it to Nature or Mechanism: and conse∣quently it hath received a prolix and sufficient Refu∣tation in my preceding Discourse.
(3) But thirdly, 'tis likely that our Atheist may willingly renounce the Doctrine of Chance as a thing differing from Nature, and may allow it to be the same thing, and that too no real and sub∣stantial Agent, but only an abstract intellectual Notion: but still he hath another Expedient in re∣serve, Page 142 which is a middle and safe way between the former rigorous Mechanism and the extravagancies of Fortuitous Motion: viz. That at the Beginning all things ('tis true) proceded necessarily and fatal∣ly according to the Mechanical powers and affecti∣ons of Matter: but nevertheless the several Kinds of Animals were not formed at the first trial and ef∣fort without one error or miscarriage; (as strict Mechanism would suppose;) but there was an im∣mense Variety of Ferments and Tumors and Ex∣crescences of the Soil, pregnant and big with Foetus's of all imaginable shapes and structures of Body:* Millions of which were utterly uncapable of Life and Motion, being the Molae, as it were, and the Abortions of Mother Earth: and many of those that had Life and Powers to preserve their own In∣dividuals, yet wanted the due means of Propaga∣tion, and therefore could not transmit their Species to the following Ages: and that those few only, that we now find in Being, did happen (for he can∣not express it but by the Characters of a Chance) to have all the parts necessary not only for their own Lives, but for the Continuation of their Kinds. This is the favourite Opinion, among the Atheists, and the most plausible of all; by which they think they may elude that most formidable Argument for the Being of God, from the admirable contrivance Page 143 of Organical Bodies and the exquisite fitness of their several Parts for those Ends and Uses they are put to, and seem to have been designed for. For, say they, since those innumerable Instances of Blunder and Deformity were quickly removed out of Know∣ledge and Being; it is plain that no Animals ought now to be found, but such as have due Organs ne∣cessary for their own nourishment and increase of their Kinds: so that this Boasted Usefulness of Parts, which makes Men attribute their Origination to an intelligent and wise Agent, is really no argument at all: because it follows also from the Atheists As∣sertion. For since some Animals are actually pre∣served in Being till now, they must needs all of them have those parts that are of Use and Necessity: but That at first was only a Lucky Hit without Skill or Design, and ever since is a necessary condi∣tion of their Continuation. And so for instance, when they are urged with the admirable Frame and Structure of the Eye; which consists of so great a Variety of Parts, all excellently adapted to the Uses of Vision; that (to omit Mathematical Conside∣rations with relation to Opticks) hath its many Coats and Humours transparent and colourless, lest it should tinge and sophisticate the Light that it lets in, by a natural Jaundice; that hath its Pupil so constituted, as to admit of Contraction and Dila∣tation Page 144 according to the differing degrees of Light, and the Exigencies of seeing; that hath Eye lids so commodiously placed, to cleanse the Ball from Dust, to shed necessary moisture upon it through numerous Glandules, and to be drawn over it like a Curtain for the convenience of sleep; that hath a thousand more Beauties in its figure and texture never studied nor admired enough: they will brisk∣ly reply, that they willingly concede all that can be said in the commendation of so noble a mem∣ber; yet notwithstanding they cannot admit for good reasoning, He that formed the Eye, shall not*he see? For it was blind Nature alone or Matter mechanically moved without consciousness or di∣rection, that made this curious Organ of Vision. For the short of the matter is this: This elegant structure of the Eye is no more than is necessary to Seeing; and this noble faculty of Seeing is no more than is necessary to Life; and consequently is in∣cluded in the very suppositions of any Animals li∣ving and continuing till now; though those be but the very few that at the beginning had the good for∣tune to have Eyes, among many millions of Mon∣sters that were destitute of them, sine vultu caeca re∣perta,* and therefore did fatally perish soon after their Birth. And thus when we insist on other like arguments of Divine Wisdom in the frame of Ani∣mate Page 145 Bodies; as the artificial Position of many Myriads of Valves, all so situate as to give a free passage to the Blood and other Humors in their due Chanels and Courses, but not permit them to re∣gurgitate and disturb the great Circulation and Oe∣conomy of Life; as the Spiral, and not Annulary, Fibres of the Intestines for the better Exercise of their Functions; as the provident furnishing of Tempo∣rary parts for the Foetus during the time of gestati∣on, which are afterwards laid aside; as the strange sagacity of little Insects in choosing fit Places for the Exclusion of their Eggs, and for the provision of proper food, when the young ones are hatcht and need it; as the ardent 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 or natural Affection in those Animals, whose off-spring cannot at first pro∣cure their own sustenance, but must infallibly perish, if not fed by the Parents; as the untaught Instincts and Impresses upon every species, directing them without imitation or deliberation to the ready know∣ledge of proper food, to one and the best way of their preservation and defence, and to the never∣failing propagation of their own kind: what-ever Considerations of this nature you propose to this A∣theist, as indeed such Instances are innumerable, all evidently setting forth the Almighty's Wisdom and Goodness to such as are able to judge, and will judge impartially; he hath this one subterfuge from them Page 146 all, That these things are mistaken for tokens of Skill and Contrivance, though they be but necessary Consequences of the present Existence of those Crea∣tures. For he that supposeth any Animals to subsist, doth by that very supposition allow them every Member and Faculty that are necessary to sub∣sistence; such as are those we have just now enume∣rated. And therefore, unless we can prove à priori and independent of this Usefulness, now that Things are once supposed to have existed and propagated; That among almost infinite Trials and Essays at the beginning of things, among millions of mon∣strous Shapes and imperfect Formations, a few such Animals, as now exist, could not possibly be produ∣ced; these After-Considerations are of very little moment: because if such Animals could in that way possibly be formed, as might live and move and propagate their Beings; all this admired and ap∣plauded Usefulness of their several Fabricks is but a necessary condition and consequence of their Exi∣stence and Propagation.
This is the last pretence and sophistry of the A∣theists against the Proposition in my Text, That we received our Life and Being from a Divine Wisdom and Power. And as they cannot justly accuse me of any ways concealing or balking their grand Objection: so I believe these following Con∣siderations Page 147 will give them no reason to boast, That it cannot receive a just and satisfactory An∣swer.
(1) First therefore, we affirm that we can prove and have done it already by arguments à priori (which is the challenge of the Atheists) that these A∣nimals, that now exist, could not possibly have been formed at first by millions of trials. For since they allow by their very Hypothesis (and with∣out standing to that Courtesie we have proved it before) that there can be no casual or spontaneous Motion of the Particles of Matter: it will follow that every single Monster among so many supposed Myriads must have been mechanically and necessa∣rily* formed according to the known Laws of Moti∣on, and the temperament and quality of the Matter that it was made of. Which is sufficient to evince, that no such Monsters were or could have been form∣ed. For to denominate them even Monsters; they must have had some rude kind of Organical Bodies; some Stamina of Life, though never so clumsy; some System of Parts compounded of Solids and Liquids, that executed, though but bunglingly, their peculiar Motions and Functions. But we have lately shewn it impossible for Nature unassisted to constitute such Bodies, whose structure is against the Law of Specifick Gravity. So that she could Page 148 not make the least endeavour towards the produ∣cing of a Monster; or of any thing that hath more Vital and Organical Parts, than we find in a Rock of Marble or a Fountain of Water. And again, though we should not contend with them about their Monsters and Abortions; yet since they sup∣pose even the perfect Animals, that are still in be∣ing, to have been formed mechanically among the rest; and only add some millions of Monsters to the reckoning; they are liable to all the Difficulties in the former Explication, and are expresly refuted through the whole preceding Sermon: where it is abundantly shown, that a Spontaneous Production is against the Catholick Laws of Motion, and a∣gainst Matter of Fact; a thing without Example, not only in Man and the nobler Animals, but in the Smallest of Insects and the Vilest of Weeds: though the Fertility of the Earth cannot be said to have been impaired since the beginning of the World.
(2) Secondly, we may observe that this Eva∣sion of the Atheist is fitted only to elude such Ar∣guments of Divine Wisdom, as are taken from things Necessary to the conservation of the Ani∣mal, as the Faculties of Sight and Motion and Nu∣trition, and the like; because such Usefulness is in∣deed included in a general Supposition of the Exi∣stence Page 149 of that Animal: but it miserably fails him against other Reasons from such Members and Powers of the Body, as are not necessary absolute∣ly to Living and Propagating, but only much conduce to our better Subsistence and happier Con∣dition. So the most obvious Contemplation of the frame of our Bodies; as that we all have dou∣ble Sensories, two Eyes, two Ears, two Nostrils, is an effectual Confutation of this Atheistical So∣phism. For a double Organ of these Senses is not at all comprehended in the Notion of bare Exi∣stence: one of them being sufficient to have pre∣served Life, and kept up the Species; as common Experience is a witness. Nay even the very Nails of our Fingers are an infallible Token of Design and Contrivance: for they are useful and conve∣nient to give strength and firmness to those Parts in the various Functions they are put to; and to defend the numerous Nerves and Tendons that are under them, which have a most exquisite sense of Pain, and without that native Armour would con∣tinually be exposed to it: and yet who will say, that Nails are absolutely necessary to Humane Life, and are concluded in the Supposition of Simple Exi∣stence? It is manifest therefore, that there was a Contrivance and Foresight of the Usefulness of Nails antecedent to their Formation. For the old stale Page 150 pretence of the Atheists, That things were first* made fortuitously, and afterwards their Usefulness was observ'd or discover'd, can have no place here; unless Nails were either absolutely requisite to the Existence of Mankind, or were found only in some Individuals or some Nations of men; and so might be ascribed to necessity upon one account, or to Fortune upon the other. But from the Atheist's supposition, That among the infinite Diversity of the first terrestrial Productions, there were Animals of all imaginable shapes and structures of Body, all of which survived and multiplied, that by rea∣son of their Make and Fabrick could possibly do so; it necessarily follows, that we should now have some Nations without Nails upon their Fingers; others with one Eye only, as the Poets describe the Cy∣clopes in Sicily, and the Arimasp• in Scythia; others with one Ear, or one Nostril, or indeed without any Organ of Smelling, because that Sense is not necessary to Man's subsistence; others destitute of the use of Language, since Mutes also may live: one People would have the Feet of Goats, as the feigned Satyrs and Panisci; another would re∣semble the Head of Iupiter Ammon, or the horned Statues of Bacchus: the Sciapodes, and Enotocoetae and* other monstrous Nations would no longer be Fa∣bles, but real instances in Nature: and, in a word, Page 151 all the ridiculous and extravagant shapes that can be imagin'd, all the fancies and whimsies of Poets and Painters and Aegyptian Idolaters, if so be they are consistent with Life and Propagation, would be now actually in Being, if our Atheist's Notion were true: which therefore may deservedly pass for a mere Dream and an Error: till they please to make new Discoveries in Terra Incognita, and bring along with them some Savages of all these fabulous and monstrous Configurations.
(3) But thirdly, that we may proceed yet fur∣ther with the Atheist, and convince him, that not only his Principle is absurd, but his Consequences also as absurdly deduced from it: we will allow him an uncertain extravagant Chance against the natural Laws of Motion: though not forgetting that that notion hath been refuted before, and there∣fore this Concession is wholly ex abundanti. I say then, that though there were really such a thing as this Chance or Fortune; yet nevertheless it would be extremely absurd to ascribe the Formation of Humane Bodies to a Cast of this Chance. For let us consider the very Bodies themselves. Here are confessedly all the marks and characters of Design in their structure, that can be required, though one suppose a Divine Author had made them: here is nothing in the Work it self, unworthy of so great Page 152 a Master: here are no internal arguments from the Subject against the truth of that Supposition. Have we then any capacity to judge and distinguish, what is the effect of Chance, and what is made by Art and Wisdom? When a Medal is dug out of the ground, with some Roman Emperor's Image upon it, and an Inscription that agrees to his Ti∣tles and History, and an Impress upon the Reverse relating to some memorable occurrence in his Life; can we be sure, that this Medal was really coined by an Artificer, or is but a Product of the Soil from whence it was taken, that might casually or naturally receive that texture and figure: as many kinds of Fossils are very odly and elegantly shaped according to the modification of their constituent Salts, or the cavities they were formed in? Is it a matter of doubt and controversie, whether the Pil∣lar of Trajan or Antoninus, the Ruins of Persepolis, or the late Temple of Minerva were the Designs and Works of Architecture; or perhaps might original∣ly exist so, or be raised up in an Earthquake by subterraneous Vapour? Do not we all think our selves infallibly certain, that this or that very com∣modious House must needs have been built by Hu∣mane Art; though perhaps a natural Cave in a Rock may have something not much unlike to Parlors or Chambers? And yet he must be a mere Page 153 Idiot, that cannot discern more Strokes and Cha∣racters of Workmanship in the Structure of an A∣nimal (in an Humane Body especially) than in the most elegant Medal or Aedifice in the World. They will believe the first Parents of Mankind to have been fortuitously formed without Wisdom or Art: and that for this sorry reason, Because it is not simply impossible, but that they may have been formed so. And who can demonstrate (if Chance be once admitted of) but that possibly all the Inscri∣ptions and other remains of Antiquity may be mere Lusus Naturae, and not Works of Humane Artifice? If this be good reasoning, let us no longer make any pretences to Judgment or a faculty of discern∣ing between things Probable and Improbable: for, except flat contradictions, we may upon equal rea∣sons believe all things or nothing at all. And do the Atheists thus argue in common matters of Life? Would they have Mankind lie idle, and lay aside all care of Provisions by Agriculture or Commerce; because possibly the Dissolution of* the World may happen the next mo∣ment? Had Dinocrates really carved Mount Athos, into a Statute of Alexan∣der the Great, and had the memory of the fact been obliterated by some accident; who could after∣wards have proved it impossible, but that it might Page 154 casually have been formed so? For every Mountain must have some determinate figure, and why then not a Humane one, as possibly as another? And yet I suppose none could have seriously believ'd so, upon this bare account of Possibility. 'Tis an opi∣nion, that generally obtains among Philosophers, That there is but one Common Matter, which is diversified by Accidents, and the same numerical quantity of it by variations of Texture may con∣stitute successively all kinds of Bodies in the World▪ So that 'tis not absolutely impossible; but that, if you take any other Matter of equal weight and sub∣stance with the Body of a Man, you may blend it so long, till it be shuffled into Humane shape and an Organical structure. But who is he so aban∣don'd to sottish credulity, as to think, upon that Principle, That a clod of Earth in a Sack may ever by eternal shaking receive the Fabrick of Man's Bo∣dy? And yet this is very near a▪kin, nay it is ex∣actly parallel to the reasoning of Atheists about fortuitous Production. If mere Possibility be a good foundation for Belief; even Lucian's True History* may be true upon that account, and Palaephatus's Tales may be credible in spite of the Title.
It hath been excellently well urged in this case both by Ancients and Moderns, that to attribute such admirable Structures to blind Fortune or Page 155 Chance, is no less absurd than to suppose, That if innumerable figures of the XXIV Letters be cast abroad at random, they might constitute in due order the whole Aeneis of Virgil or the Annales of*Ennius. Now the Atheists may pretend to elude this Comparison; as if the Case was not fairly sta∣ted. For herein we first make an Idea of a particu∣lar Poem; and then demand, if Chance can pos∣sibly describe That: and so we conceive Man's Bo∣dy thus actually formed, and then affirm that it exceeds the power of Chance to constitute a Being like That: which, they may say, is to expect Imi∣tation from Chance, and not simple Production. But at the first Beginning of things there was no Copy to be followed, nor any prae-existent Form of Humane Bodies to be imitated. So that to put the case fairly, we should strip our minds and fan∣cies from any particular Notion and Idea of a Li∣ving Body or a Poem: and then we shall under∣stand, that what Shape and Structure soever should be at first casually formed, so that it could live and propagate, might be Man: and whatsoever should result from the strowing of those loose Letters, that made any Sense and Measures, might be the Poem we seek for.
To which we reply, That if we should allow them, that there was no prae-existent Idea of Hu∣mane Page 156 Nature, till it was actually formed, (for the Idea of Man in the Divine Intellect must not now be consider'd) yet because they declare, that great Multitudes of each Species of Animals did fortuitously emerge out of the Soil* in distant Countries and Climates; what could that be less than Imitati∣on in blind Chance, to make many Individuals of one Species so exactly alike? Nay though they should now, to cross us and evade the force of the Argument, desert their ancient Doctrine, and derive all sorts of Animals from single Originals of each kind, which should be the common Parents of all the Race: yet surely even in this account they must necessarily allow Two at least, Male and Female, in every Species: which Chance could neither make so very nearly alike, without Copying and Imitation; nor so usefully differing, without Contrivance and Wisdom. So that let them take whether they will: If they de∣duce all Animals from single pairs of a sort; even to make the Second of a Pair, is to write after a Copy; it is, in the former comparison, by the casting of loose Letters to compose the prae-existent particular Poem of Ennius: But if they make nu∣merous Sons and Daughters of Earth among every Species of Creatures, as all their Authors have sup∣posed; Page 157 this is not only, as was said before, to be∣lieve a Monky may once scribble the Leviathan of Hobbes, but may do the same frequently by an Habitual kind of Chance.
Let us consider, how next to Impossible it is that Chance (if there were such a thing) should in such an immense Variety of Parts in an Animal twice hit upon the same Structure, so as to make a Male and Female. Let us resume the former in∣stance of the XXIV Letters thrown at random up∣on the ground. 'Tis a Mathematical Demonstra∣tion, That these XXIV do admit of so many Changes in their order, may make such a long roll* of differently ranged Alphabets, not two of which are alike; that they could not all be exhausted, though a Million millions of writers should each write above a thousand Alphabets a day for the space of a Million millions of years. What strength of Imagination can extend it self to embrace and comprehend such a prodigious Diversity? And it is as infallibly certain, that suppose any particular order of the Alphabet be assigned, and the XXIV Letters be cast at a venture, so as to fall in a Line; it is so many Million of millions odds to one a∣gainst any single throw, that the assigned Order will not be cast. Let us now suppose, there be only a thousand constituent Members in the Body Page 158 of a Man, (that we may take few enough) it is plain that the different Position and Situation of these thousand Parts, would make so many diffe∣ring Compounds and distinct Species of Animals. And if only XXIV parts, as before, may be so multifariously placed and ordered, as to make ma∣ny Millions of Millions of differing Rows: in the supposition of a thousand parts, how immense must that capacity of variation be? even beyond all thought and denomination, to be expressed only in mute figures, whose multiplied Powers are beyond the narrowness of Language, and drown the Ima∣gination in astonishment and confusion. Especial∣ly if we observe, that the Variety of the Alphabet consider'd above, was in mere Longitude only: but the Thousand parts of our Bodies may be Diversi∣fied by Situation in all the Dimensions of Solid Bo∣dies: which multiplies all over and over again, and overwhelms the fancy in a new Abyss of unfathom∣able Number. Now it is demonstratively certain, that it is all this odds to one, against any particular trial, That no one man could by casual production be framed like another; (as the Atheists suppose thousands to be in several regions of the Earth;) and I think 'tis rather more odds than less, that no one Female could be added to a Male; in as much as that most necessary Difference of Sex is a higher Page 159 token of Divine Wisdom and Skill, above all the power of Fortuitous Hits, than the very Similitude of both Sexes in the other parts of the Body. And again we must consider, that the vast imparity of this Odds against the accidental likeness of two Casual Formations is never lessen'd and diminish'd by Trying and Casting. 'Tis above a Hundred to one against any particular throw, That you do not cast any given Set of Faces with four Cubical Dice: because there are so many several Combinations of the six Faces of four Dice. Now after you have cast all the Hundred trials but one: 'tis still as much odds at the last remaining time, as it was at the first. For blind insensible Chance cannot grow cunning by many experiments; neither have the preceding Casts any influence upon those that come after. So that if this Chance of the Atheists should have es∣sayed in vain to make a Species for a Million milli∣ons of Ages, 'tis still as many Millions odds against that Formation, as it was at the first moment in the beginning of Things. How incredible is it there∣fore; that it should hit upon two Productions alike, within so short du∣ration* of the world, according to the Doctrine of our Atheists? how much more, that it should do so within the compass of a hundred years, and of a small tract of Ground; Page 160 so that this Male and Female might come together? If any Atheist can be induced to stake his Soul for a wager, against such an inexhaustible disproporti∣on; let him never hereafter accuse others of Easi∣ness and Credulity.
(4) But fourthly, we will still make more ample Concessions, and suppose with the Atheist, that his Chance has actually formed all Animals in their terrestrial Wombs. Let us see now, how he will preserve them to Maturity of Birth. What Climate will he cherish them in, that they be not inevitably destroyed by Moisture or Cold? Where is that aequability of Nine Months warmth to be found? that uniform warmth, which is so necessa∣ry even in the incubation of Birds, much more in the time of gestation of Viviparous Animals. I know, his Party have placed this great Scene in Ae∣gypt,* or some where between the two Tropicks. Now not to mention the Cool of the Nights, which a∣lone would destroy the Conceptions; 'tis known that all those Countries have either incessant Rains eve∣ry year for whole months together, or are quite laid under water by Floods from the higher Grounds; which would certainly corrupt and putrefy all the teeming Wombs of the Earth, and extinguish the whole brood of Embryons by untimely Abortions.
Page 161(5) But fifthly, we will still be more obliging to this Atheist, and grant him his petition, That Nature may bring forth the young Infants vitally into the World. Let us see now what Sustenance, what Nurses he hath provided for them. If we consider the present Constitution of Nature; we must affirm, that most Species must have been lost for want of fostering and feeding. 'Tis a great mistake, that Man only comes weak and help∣less into the world: whereas 'tis apparent, that ex∣cepting Fish and Insects (and not all of them nei∣ther) there are very few or no Creatures, that can provide for themselves at first without the assistance of Parents. So that unless they suppose Mother Earth to be a great Animal, and to have nurtured up her young Off-spring with a conscious Tenderness and providential Care; there is no possible help for it, but they must have been doubly starved both with hunger and cold.
(6) But sixthly, we will be yet more civil to this Atheist, and forgive him this Difficulty also. Let us suppose the first Animals maintain'd them∣selves with food, though we cannot tell how. But then what security hath he made for the Preservati∣on of Humane Race from the Jaws of ravenous Beasts? The Divine Writers have acquainted us, that God at the beginning gave Mankind. DominionPage 162 (an impressed awe and authority) over every living thing that moveth upon the Earth. But in the Athe∣ists*Hypothesis there are no imaginable means of De∣fence. For 'tis manifest, that so many Beasts of Prey, Lions, Tigres, Wolves, and the like, being of the same age with Man, and arriving at the top of their strength in one year or two, must needs have worried and devoured those forlorn Brats of our Atheists, even before they were wean'd from the Foramina Terrae, or at least in a short time after:* since all the Carnivorous Animals would have mul∣plied exceedingly by several Generations, before those Children that escaped at first, could come to the Age of Puberty. So that Men would always lessen, and their Enemies always encrease.
But some of them will here pretend, that Epicu∣rus was out in this matter; and that they were not born mere Infants out of those Wombs of the Earth; but Men at their full growth, and in the prime of their strength. But I pray what should hinder those grown lusty Infants, from breaking sooner those Membranes that involved them; as the Shell of the Egg is broken by the Bird, and the Amnion by the Foetus? Were the Membranes so thick and tough, that the Foetus must stay there, till he had teeth to eat through them, as young Maggots do through a Gall? But let us answer these Fools according toPage 163their Folly. Let us grant, that they were born with Beards, and in the full time of Manhood. They are not yet in a better condition: here are still ma∣ny Enemies against few, many Species against One; and those Enemies speedily multiplying in the se∣cond and third and much lower generations; where∣as the Sons of the First Men must have a tedious time of Childhood and Adolescence, before they can either themselves assist their Parents, or encou∣rage them with new hopes of Posterity. And we must consider withall, that (in the notion of Athe∣ism) those Savages were not then, what civilized Mankind is now; but Mutum & turpe pecus, with∣out Language, without mutual Society, without Arms of Offence, without Houses or Fortifications; an obvious and exposed Prey to the ravage of de∣vouring Beasts; a most sorry and miserable Plan∣tation towards the Peopling of a World.
And now that I have followed the Atheists through so many dark mazes of Error and Extra∣vagance: having to my knowledge omitted nothing on their side, that looks like a Difficulty; nor proposed any thing in Reply, but what I my self really believe to be a just and solid Answer: I shall here close up the Apostle's Argument of the Exi∣stence of God from the consideration of Humane Page 164 Nature. And I appeal to all sober and impartial Judges of what hath been deliver'd; Whether those Noble Faculties of our Souls may be only a mere Sound and Echo from the clashing of senseless Atoms, or rather indubitably must proceed from a Spiritual Substance of a Heavenly and Divine Ex∣traction: whether these admirable Fabricks of our Bodies shall be ascribed to the fatal Motions or for∣tuitous Shufflings of blind Matter, or rather be∣yond controversie to the Wisdom and Contrivance of the Almighty Author of all things, Who is won∣derfull in Counsel, and Excellent in Working. To* whom, &c.
A CONFUTATION OF ATHEISM FROM THE Origin and Frame of the World.
The Sixth SERMON preached October 3. 1692.
Acts XIV. 15, &c.
ALL the Arguments, that can be brought, or can be demanded, for the Existence of God, may, perhaps not absurdly, be re∣duced to three General Heads: The First of which Page 166 will include all the Proofs from the Vital and Intel∣ligent portions of the Universe, the Organical Bodies of the various Animals, and the Immaterial Souls of Men. Which Living and Understanding Sub∣stances, as they make incomparably the most con∣siderable and noble Part of the naturally known and visible Creation; so they do the most clearly and cogently demonstrate to Philosophical Enquirers the necessary Self-existence, and omnipotent Power, and unsearchable Wisdom, and boundless Benefi∣cence of their Maker. This first Topick therefore was very fitly and divinely made use of by our A∣postle in his Conference with Philosophers and that inquisitive People of Athens: the latter spending their*time in nothing else, but either to tell or hear some New thing; and the other, in nothing, but to call in que∣stion the most evident Truths, that were deliver'd and receiv'd of Old. And these Arguments we have hitherto pursued in their utmost latitude and extent. So that now we shall proceed to the Second Head, or the Proofs of a Deity from the Inanimate part of the World; since even Natural Reason, as well as Holy Scripture, assures us, That the Heavens de∣clare*the Glory of God, and the Firmament sheweth his Handy-work; That he made the Earth by his power, He*hath established the World by his wisdom, and hath stretch∣ed out the Heaven by his understanding; That He com∣manded*Page 167and they were created; he hath also established them for ever and ever; He covereth the Heavens with*Clouds, He prepareth Rain for the Earth, He crown∣eth*the Year with his Goodness.
These Reasons for God's Existence, from the Frame and System of the World, as they are equal∣ly true with the Former, so they have always been more popular and plausible to the illiterate part of Mankind; insomuch as the Epicureans, and some others, have observed, that* mens contemplating the most ample Arch of the Firmament, the innume∣rable multitude of the Stars, the re∣gular Rising and Setting of the Sun, the periodical and constant Vicissi∣tudes of Day and Night and Seasons of the Year, and the other Affections of Meteors and Heavenly Bodies, was the principal and almost only ground and occasion, that the Notion of a God came first into the World: making no mention of the former Proof from the Frame of Humane Nature, That in God we Live and Move and have our Being. Which Argument being so natural and internal to Man∣kind, doth nevertheless (I know not how) seem more remote and obscure to the Generality of Men; who are readier to fetch a Reason from the immense Page 168 distance of the starry Heavens and the outmost Walls of the World, than seek one at home, with∣in themselves, in their own Faculties and Constitu∣tions. So that hence we may perceive, how pru∣dently that was waved, and the Second here insist∣ed on by St. Paul to the rude and simple Semi-bar∣barians of Lycaonia: He left not himself without wit∣ness, in that he did good, and gave us Rain from Hea∣ven, and fruitfull Seasons, filling our Hearts with Food and Gladness. Which words we shall now interpret in a large and free Acceptation; so that this Second Theme may comprehend all the Brute Inanimate Matter of the Universe, as the Former comprized all visible Creatures in the World, that have Under∣standing or Sense or Vegetable Life. These two Arguments are the Voices of Nature, the unani∣mous Suffrages of all real Beings and Substances cre∣ated, that are naturally knowable without Revela∣tion. And if, Lastly, in the Third place, we can evince the Divine Existence from the Adjuncts and Circumstances of Humane Life; if we find in all A∣ges, in all civiliz'd Nations, an Universal Belief and Worship of a Divinity; if we find many unque∣stionable Records of Super-natural and Miraculous Effects; if we find many faithfull Relations of Pro∣phecies punctually accomplished; of Prophecies so well attested, above the suspicion of Falshood; so Page 169 remote and particular and unlikely to come to pass, beyond the possibility of good Guessing or the mere Foresight of Humane Wisdom; if we find a most warrantable tradition, that at sundry times and in di∣vers manners God spake unto Mankind by his Prophets and by his Son and his Apostles, who have deliver'd to us in Sacred Writings a clearer Revelation of his Divine Nature and Will: if, I say, this Third Topick from Humane Testimony be found agreeable to the stand∣ing Vote and Attestation of Nature, What further proofs can be demanded or desired? what fuller e∣vidence can our Adversaries require, since all the Classes of known Beings are summoned to appear? Would they have us bring more Witnesses, than the All of the World? and will they not stand to the grand Verdict and Determination of the Uni∣verse? They are incurable Infidels, that persist to deny a Deity; when all Creatures in the World, as well spiritual as corporeal, all from Humane Race to the lowest of Insects, from the Cedar of Libanus to the Moss upon the Wall, from the vast Globes of the Sun and Planets, to the smallest Particles of Dust, do declare their absolute dependance upon the first Author and Fountain of all Being and Mo∣tion and Life, the only Eternal and Self-existent God; with whom inhabit all Majesty and Wisdom and Goodness for ever and ever.
Page 170But before I enter upon this Argument from the Origin and Frame of the World; it will not be a∣miss to premise some Particulars that may serve for an illustration of the Text, and be a proper Intro∣duction to the following Discourses.
As the Apostles, Barnabas and Paul, were preach∣ing the Gospel at Lystra a City of Lycaonia in Asia* the Less, among the rest of their Auditors there was a lame Cripple from his Birth, whom Paul command∣ed with a loud voice, To stand upright on his feet; and immediately by a miraculous Energy he leap∣ed and walked. Let us compare the present Cir∣cumstances with those of my former Text, and ob∣serve the remarkable difference in the Apostle's pro∣cedings. No question but there were several Crip∣ples at Athens, so very large and populous a City; and if that could be dubious, I might add, that the very Climate disposed the Inhabitants to impotency in the Feet. Atthide tentantur gressus, oculique in A∣chaeis*Finibus—are the words of Lucretius; which 'tis probable he transcribed from Epicurus a Garget∣tian and Native of Athens, and therefore an unque∣stionable Evidence in a matter of this nature. Nei∣ther is it likely, that all the Athenian Cripples should escape the sight of St. Paul; since he disputed there*in the Market daily with them that met him. How comes it to pass then, that we do not hear of a like Page 171 Miracle in that City; which one would think might have greatly conduced to the Apostle's design, and have converted, or at least confuted and put to si∣lence, the Epicureans and Stoics? But it is not diffi∣cult to give an account of this seeming Disparity; if we attend to the Qualifications of the Lame person at Lystra: whom Paul stedfastly beholding, and per∣ceiving that he had FAITH to be healed, said with a*loud voice, Stand upright on thy Feet. This is the ne∣cessary Condition, that was always required by our Saviour and his Apostles. And Iesus said unto the*the blind man, Receive thy sight, thy FAITH hath sa∣ved thee; and to the Woman that had the Issue of Blood, Daughter, be of good comfor, thy FAITH hath*made thee whole, go in peace. 'Twas want of FAITH in our Saviour's Countrymen, which hinder'd him from shedding among them the salutary Emanati∣ons of his Divine Vertue: And he did not many mighty*works there, because of their Unbelief. There were many diseased persons in his own Country, but ve∣ry few that were rightly disposed for a supernatural Cure. St. Mark hath a very observable Expression upon the same occasion: And he COULD do no migh∣ty*work there, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. We read in St. Luke 5. 17. And the POWER (〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) of the Lord was present to heal them.Page 172 And, chap. 6. v. 19. And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went Virtue (〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) out of him, and healed them all. Now since 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 are words of the same Root and Significati∣on; shall we so interpret the Evangelist, as if our Saviour had not Power to work Miracles among his unbelieving Countrymen? This is the passage, which that impious and impure Atheist Lucilio Va∣nino* singled out for his Text, in his pretended and mock Apology for the Christian Religion; wick∣edly insinuating, as if the Prodigies of Christ were mere Impostures and acted by Confederacy: and therefore where the Spectators were incredulous, and consequently watchfull and suspicious, and not easily imposed on, he COULD do no migh∣ty Work there; there his Arm was shortened, and his Power and Virtue too feeble for such superna∣tural Effects. But the gross Absurdity of this sug∣gestion is no less conspicuous, than the villainous Blasphemy of it. For can it be credible to any rational person, that St. Mark could have that meaning? that he should tax his Lord and Savi∣our, whom he knew to be God Almighty, with De∣ficiency of power? He could do no mighty Works; that is, he would do none, because of their Unbe∣lief. There's a frequent change of those words in all Languages of the World. And we may appeal Page 173 with St. Chrysostom to the common* custom of Speech, whatever Coun∣try we live in. This therefore is the genuine Sence of that expression; Christ would not heal their infirmities, because of the hardness and slowness of their Hearts, in that they believed him not. And I think there is not one instance in all the History of the New Te∣stament of a Miracle done for any ones sake, that did not believe Jesus to be a good person, and sent from God; and had not a disposition of Heart fit to receive his Doctrine. For to believe he was the* Messias and Son of God, was not then absolutely necessary, nor rigidly exacted; the most Signal of the Prophecies being not yet fulfilled by him, till his Passion and Resurrection. But, as I said, to obtain a Miracle from him, it was necessary to be∣lieve him a good person and sent from God. Herod therefore hoped in vain to have seen some Miracle done by*him: And when the Pharisees sought of him a sign from*Heaven, tempting him; they received this disappoint∣ing Answer, Verily I say unto you, There shall no Sign be given to this generation. And we may observe in the Gospels, That where the Persons themselves were incapable of actual Faith; yet the Friends* and Relations of those Dead that were raised again to life, of those Lunaticks and Demoniacks that Page 174 were restored to their right minds, were such as sought after him and believed on him. And as to the healing of Malchus's Ear, it was a peculiar and ex∣traordinary* Case: For though the person was whol∣ly unworthy of so gracious a Cure; yet in the ac∣count of the meek Lamb of God it was a kind of Injury done to him by the fervidness of St. Peter, who knew not yet what Spirit he was of, and that his Master's Kingdom was not of this World. But besides this obvious meaning of the Words of the Evangelist, there may perhaps be a sublimer Sense couched under the Expression. For in the Divine Nature Will and Can are frequently the self-same thing; and Freedom and Necessity, that are oppo∣sites here below, do in Heaven above most amicably agree and joyn hands together. And this is not a Restraint, or Impotency; but the Royal Preroga∣tive of the most absolute King of Kings; that he wills to do nothing but what he can; and that he can do nothing which is repugnant to his divine Wisdom and essential Goodness. God cannot do what is un∣just, nor say what is untrue, nor promise with a mind to deceive. Our Saviour therefore could do no mighty Work in a Country of Unbelievers; be∣cause it was not fit and reasonable. And so we may say of our Apostle, who was acted by the Spirit of God; that he could do no Miracle at Athens, and Page 175 that because of their Unbelief. There is a very sad and melancholy Account of the success of his stay there. Howbeit CERTAIN Men clave unto him and*believed; A more diminutive expression, than if they had been called a few. And we do not find, that he ever visited this City again, as he did several others, where there were a competent number of Disciples. And indeed if we consider the Genius and Condition of the Athenians at that time, How vitious and corrupt they were; how conceited of their own Wit and Science and Politeness, as if They had invented Corn and Oil and di∣stributed* them to the World; and had first taught Civility, and Learn∣ing, and Religion, and Laws to the rest of Mankind; how they were puf∣fed up with the fulsome Flatteries of their Philoso∣phers and Sophists and Poets of the Stage: we can∣not much wonder, that they should so little regard an unknown Stranger, that preached unto them an unknown God.
I am aware of an Objection, that for ought we can now affirm, St. Paul might have done several Miracles at Athens, though they be not related by St. Luke. I confess I am far from asserting, That all the Miracles of our Saviour are recorded in the* Gospels, or of his Apostles in the Acts. But ne∣vertheless, Page 176 in the present Circumstances, I think we may conjecture, That if any Prodigy and Won∣der had been performed by our Apostle among those curious and pragmatical Athenians; it would have had such a consequence, as might have deser∣ved some place in Sacred History, as well as this before us at Lystra: where when the people saw what*Paul had done, they lift up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The Gods are come down to us in the likeness of men: and the Priests came with Oxen and Garlands, and would have sacrificed to them, as to Iupiter and Mercurius. That this was a common Opinion among the Gentiles, that the Gods some∣times assumed Humane shape, and conversed upon Earth as Strangers and Travellers, must needs be well known to any one, that ever looks into the ancient Poets. Even the Vagabond Life of Apol∣lonius Tyanensis shall be called by a bigotted Sophist, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a Peregrination of a God a∣mong* Men. And when the Lystrians say, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Gods in the Shape of Men, they mean not, that the Gods had other Figure than Humane even in Heaven it self (for that was the receiv'd Doctrine of most of the Vulgar Heathen, and of some Sects of Philosophers too,) but that They, who in their own Nature were of a more august Stature and glorious Visage, had now contracted and debased Page 177 themselves into the narrower Dimensions and mea∣ner Aspects of mortal Men. Now when the Apo∣stles heard of this intended Sacrifice, they rent their*cloaths and ran in among the people, crying out, &c. St. Chrysostom upon this place hath a very odd Expositi∣on. He enquires why Paul and Barnabas do now at last reprove the People, when the Priest and Vi∣ctims were even at the Gates; and not presently, when they lift up their Voice, and called them Gods: for which he assigns this rea∣son,* That because they spoke 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, in the Lycaonian Tongue, the Apostles did not then understand them: but now they perceived their meaning by the Oxen and the Garlands. Indeed it is very pro∣bable, that the Lycaonian Language was very diffe∣rent from the Greek; as we may gather from Epho∣rus* and Strabo that cites him, who make almost all the Inland Nations of Asia Minor to be Barbarians; and from Stephanus Byzantius, who acquaints us,* that 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a Juniper-tree, was called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 in the Speech of the Lycaonians,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. But notwithstanding we can by no means allow, that the great Apostle of the Gentiles should be igno∣rant of that Language: He that so solemnly affirms of himself, I thank my God, I speak with Tongues*more than you all. And at the first Effusion of his Page 178 heavenly Gift, the dwellers in Cappadocia, in Pontus and*Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia (some of them near Neighbours to the Lycaonians) heard the Apostles speak in their several Tongues the wonderfull Works of God. And how could these two Apostles have preached the Gospel to the Lystrians, if they did not* use the common Language of the Country? And to what purpose did they cry out and speak to them,* if the Hearers could not apprehend? or how could they by those Sayings restrain the People from sacri∣ficing;* if what they said was not intelligible? But it will be asked, why then were the Apostles so slow and backward in reclaiming them? and what can be answer'd to the Query of St. Chrysostom? When I consider the circumstances and nature of this affair, I am persuaded they did not hear that discourse of the people. For I can hardly conceive, that Men under such apprehensions as the Lystrians then were, in the dread Presence and under the very Nod of the almighty Iupiter, not an Idol of Wood or Stone, but the real and very God (as the Athenians made* their Complement to Demetrius Poliorcetes) should exclaim in his sight and hearing: this, I say, seems not probable nor natural; nor is it affirm'd in the Text: but they might buzz and whisper it one to another, and silently withdrawing from the presence of the Apostles, they then lift up their voices and Page 179 noised it about the City. So that Paul and Barna∣bas were but just then inform'd of their idolatrous design, when they rent their Cloaths, and ran in a∣mong them, and expostulated with them; Sirs, why*do ye these things? we also are men of like passions with you;〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, *Mortal men like your selves, as it is judiciously render'd in the ancient Latin Ver∣sion, otherwise the Antithesis is not so plain: For the Heathen Theology made even the Gods themselves subject to humane passions and appetites, to Anger, Sorrow, Lust, Hunger, Wounds, Lameness, &c. and exempted them from nothing but Death and Old Age: and we preach unto you, that ye should turn*from these vanities (i. e. Idols) unto the Living God, which made Heaven and Earth and the Sea, and all things that are therein: who in times past suffered all Nations to walk in their own ways:〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, not all Nati∣ons, but all the Heathen (the word HEATHEN comes from 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) all the Gentiles, distinguished from* the Jews, as the same words are translated Rom. 15. 11. and 2 Tim. 4. 17. and ought to have been so, Rom. 1. 5. and 16. 26. but much more in our Text, which according to the present Version seems to car∣ry a very obscure, if not erroneous meaning; but by a true interpretation is very easie and intelligible; That hitherto God had suffer'd all the Gentiles to walk in their own ways; and excepting the Jews Page 180 only, whom he chose for his own people, and pre∣scribed them a Law, he permitted the rest of Man▪ kind to walk by the mere light of Nature without the assistance of Revelation: but that now in the fulness of time, he had even to the Gentiles also sent salvation, and opened the door of faith, and granted re∣pentance unto life. So that these words of our Apo∣stle are exactly co-incident with that remarkable passage in his discourse to the Athenians: And the* (past) times of this ignorance (of the Gentile World) God winked at (or * overlook'd:) but now com∣mandeth all men every where to repent. And never∣theless, says our Text, even in that gloomy state of Heathenism, he left not himself without witness, in that he did good,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, always doing good from Heaven, (which seems to be the genuine punctuation, and is authorized by the Syriack Interpreters) and gave us*Rain and fruitfull Seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. Even the very Gentiles might feel after him and find him; since the admirable frame of Heaven and Earth and Sea, and the muni∣ficent provision of food and sustenance for his Crea∣tures, did competently set forth his Eternal Power and Godhead; so that stupid Idolaters and prophane Atheists were then and always without excuse.
Page 181Our Adversaries have used the same methods to elude the present Argument from the Frame of the World, as they have done to evade the former from the Origin of Mankind. Some have maintain'd, That this World hath thus existed from all Eterni∣ty in its present form and condition: but Others say, That the Forms of particular Worlds are gene∣rable and corruptible; so that our present System cannot have sustain'd an infinite Duration already gone and expired: but however, say they, Body in general, the common Basis and Matter of all Worlds and Beings, is self-existent and eternal; which be∣ing naturally divided into innumerable little parti∣cles or atoms, eternally endued with an ingenit and inseparable power of Motion, by their omni∣farious concursions and combinations and coaliti∣ons, produce successively (or at once, if Matter be in∣finite) an infinite number of Worlds; and amongst the rest there arose this visible complex System of Heaven and Earth. And thus far they do agree, but then they differ about the cause and mode of the production of Worlds, some ascribing it to For∣tune, and others to Mechanism or Nature. 'Tis true, the Astrological Atheists, will give us no trouble in the present dispute; because they cannot form a peculiar Hypothesis here, as they have done before a∣bout the Origination of Animals. For though some Page 182 of them are so vain and senseless, as to pretend to a Thema Mundi, a calculated Scheme of the Nativity of our World: yet it exceeds even Their absurdity, to suppose the Zodiack and Planets to be efficient of, and antecedent to themselves; or to exert any influences, before they were in Being. So that to refute all possible Explications that the Atheists have or can propose, I shall proceed in this following method.
- I. First, I will prove it impossible that the pri∣mary Parts of our World, the Sun and the Planets with their regular Motions and Revolutions, should have subsisted eternally in the present or a like Frame and Condition.
- II. Secondly, I will shew, That Matter abstractly and absolutely consider'd, cannot have subsisted eternally; or, if it has, yet Motion cannot have co∣existed eternally with it, as an inherent Property and essential Attribute of the Atheist's God, Matter.
- III. Thirdly, Though Universal Matter should have endured from everlasting, divided into infi∣nite Particles in the Epicurean way, and though Motion should have been coaeval and coeternal with it: yet those Particles or Atoms could never of themselves by omnifarious kinds of Motion, whe∣ther Fortuitous or Mechanical, have fallen or been disposed into this or a like visible System.
- Page 183IV. And Fourthly, à posteriori, That the Order and Beauty of the Inanimate Parts of the World, the discernible Ends and Final Causes of them, the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or a Meliority above what was necessary to be, do evince by a reflex Argument, That it is the Product and Workmanship, not of blind Mecha∣nism or blinder Chance; but of an intelligent and benign Agent, who by his excellent Wisdom made the Heavens and Earth: and gives Rains and fruitfull Sea∣sons for the service of Man.
I shall speak to the two first Propositions in my present Discourse; reserving the latter for other Op∣portunities.
I. First, therefore: That the present or a like Frame of the World hath not subsisted from Ever∣lasting. We will readily concede, that a thing may be truly Eternal, though its duration be terminated at one End. For so we affirm Humane Souls to be Immortal and Eternal, though 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, there was a time when they were Nothing; and there∣fore their Infinite Duration will always be bounded at one Extreme by that first beginning of Existence. So that, for ought appears as yet; the Revolutions of the Earth and other Planets about the Sun, though they be limited at one end by the present Revolution, may nevertheless have been Infinite Page 184 and Eternal without any beginning. But then we must consider, that this Duration of Humane Souls is only potentially Infinite. For their Eternity con∣sists only in an endless capacity of Continuance with∣out ever ceasing to be, in a boundless Futurity that can never be exhausted, or all of it be past and present. But their Duration can never be positively and actually Eternal; because it is most manifest, that no Moment can ever be assigned, wherein it shall be true, that such a Soul hath then actually sustain'd an Infinite Duration. For that supposed Infinite Duration will by the very Supposition be li∣mited at two extremes, though never so remote a∣sunder; and consequently must needs be Finite. Wherefore the true Nature and Notion of a Soul's Eternity is this: That the future moments of its Duration can never be all past and present; but still there will be a Futurity and Potentiality of more for ever and ever. So that we evidently perceive, from this instance, That what-ever successive Du∣ration, shall be bounded at one end, and be all past and present, for that reason must be Finite. Which necessarily evinceth, That the present or a like World can never have been Eternal; or that there cannot have been Infinite past Revolutions of a Planet about a Sun. For this supposed Infinity is terminated at one extreme by the present Revoluti∣on, Page 185 and all the other Revolutions are confessedly past; so that the whole Duration is bounded at one end, and all past and present; and therefore cannot have been Infinite, by what was proved before. And this will shew us the vast difference between the false successive Eternity backwards, and the real one to come. For, consider the present Revolution of the Earth, as the Bound and Confine of them both. God Almighty, if he so pleaseth, may continue this Motion to perpetuity in Infinite Revolutions to come: because Futurity is inexhaustible, and can ne∣ver be all spent and run out by past and present mo∣ments. But then, if we look backwards from this present Revolution, we may apprehend the impos∣sibility of infinite Revolutions on that side: because all are already past, and so were once actually present, and consequently are finite, by the argument before. For surely we cannot conceive a Praeteriteness (if I may say so) still backwards in infinitum, that never was present: as we can an endless futurity, that never will be present. So that though one is potentially infinite; yet nevertheless the other is actually finite. And this Reasoning doth necessarily conclude a∣gainst the past infinite duration of all successive Motion and mutable Beings: but it doth not at all affect the eternal Existence of God, in whose in∣variable nature there is no Past nor Future; who Page 186 is omnipresent not only as to Space, but as to Du∣ration; and with respect to such Omnipresence, it is certain and manifest, that Succession and Moti∣on are mere impossibilities, and repugnant in the very terms.
And Secondly, though what hath been now said, hath given us so clear a view of the nature of suc∣cessive Duration, as to make more Arguments need∣less: yet I shall here briefly shew, how our Adversa∣ries Hypothesis without any outward opposition de∣stroys and confutes it self. For let us suppose infi∣nite Revolutions of the Earth about the Sun to be already gone and expired: I take it to be self-evi∣dent; that, if None of those past Revolutions has been infinite ages ago, all the Revolutions put to∣gether cannot make up the duration of infinite ages. It follows therefore from this supposition, that there may be some one assignable Revolution among them, that was at an infinite distance from the pre∣sent. But it is self-evident likewise, that no one past Revolution could be infinitely distant from the present: for then an infinite or unbounded Dura∣tion may be bounded at two extremes by two An∣nual Revolutions; which is absurd and a contra∣diction. And again, upon the same supposition of an eternal past Duration of the World, and of infi∣nite Annual Revolutions of the Earth about the Page 187 Sun; I would ask concerning the Monthly Revolu∣tions of the Moon about the Earth, or the diurnal ones of the Earth upon its one Axis, both which by the very Hypothesis are coaeval with the former; whether these also have been finite or infinite? Not finite to be sure; because then a finite number would be greater than an infinite, as 12 or 365 are more than an Unit. Nor infinite neither; for then two or three Infinites would exceed one ano∣ther: as a Year exceeds a Month, or both exceed a Day. So that both ways the Supposition is repug∣nant and impossible.
And Thirdly, the Arguments already used, from* the gradual Increase of Mankind, from the known Plantations of most Countries, from the recent In∣vention of Letters and Arts, &c. do conclude as forcibly against the Eternity of the World, as against infinite Generations of Humane Race. For if the present Frame of the Earth be supposed eternal; by the same notion they make Mankind to have been coeternal with it. For otherwise this eternal Earth, after she had been eternally barren and desolate, must at last have spontaneously produced Mankind, without new cause from without, or any alterati∣on in her own texture: which is so gross an absur∣dity, that even no Atheist hath yet affirmed it. So that it evidently follows, since Mankind had a be∣ginning; Page 188 that the present Form of the Earth, and therefore the whole System of the World had a be∣ginning also.
Which being proved and established; we are now enabled to give answers to some bold Queries and Objections of Atheists; That since God is de∣scribed as a Being infinitely powerfull and perfect∣ly good; and that these Attributes were essential to him from all Eternity; why did he not by his Pow∣er, for the more ample communication of his Good∣ness, create the World from eternity, if he created it at all? or at least, many Millions of Ages ago before this short span of duration of five or six thousand Years? To the first we reply, That since we have discover'd an internal and natural impossibility, that a successive Duration should be actually eter∣nal; 'tis to Us a flat contradiction, that the World should have been created from everlasting. And therefore it is no affront to the Divine Omnipotence, if by reason of the formal incapacity and repugnan∣cy of the thing, we conceive that the World could not possibly have been made from all Eternity, e∣ven by God himself. Which gives an answer to the second Question, Why created so lately? For if it could not be created from Eternity, there can no instant be assigned for its Creation in Time, though never so many Myriads and Millions of years since, Page 189 but the same Query may be put, Why but now, and Why so late? For even before that remoter pe∣riod, God was eternally existent, and might have made the World as many Myriads of Ages still back∣wards before That: and consequently this Objecti∣on is absurd and unreasonable. For else if it was good and allowable, it would eternally hinder God from exerting his Creative Power: because he could never make a World so early, at any given Mo∣ment; but it may truly be said he could have crea∣ted it sooner. Or if they think, there may be a Soonest Instant of possible Creation: yet since all Instants have an equal pretence to it in humane apprehension, why may not this recent production of the World, according to Sacred Authority, be supposed to be that Soonest? At least it may make that Claim to it, that cannot be baffled by their Ar∣guments, which equally conclude against all Claims, against any conceivable Beginning of the World.
And so when they profanely ask, Why did not this supposed Deity, if he really made the Heavens, make them boundless and immense, a fit and ho∣nourable Mansion for an infinite and incomprehen∣sible Being? or at least vastly more ample and magnificent, than this narrow Cottage of a World? we may make them this answer; First, it seems impossible and a contradiction, that a created Page 190 World should be infinite; because it is the nature of Quantity and Motion; that they can never be actually and positively infinite: They have a Power indeed and a capacity of being increased without end; so as no Quantity can be assigned so vast, but still a larger may be imagin'd; no Motion so swift or languid, but a greater Velocity or Slowness may still be conceived; no positive Duration of it so long, than which a longer may not be supposed; but even that very Power hinders them from being actually infinite. From whence secondly it follows; that, though the World was a million of times more spacious and ample, than even Astronomy supposes it; or yet another million bigger than that, and so on in infinite progression; yet still they might make the same Exception world without end. For since God Almighty can do all that is possible; and Quantity hath always a possibility of being enlarged more and more: he could never create so ample a World, but still it would be true, that he could have made a bigger; the foecundity of his Creative Power never growing barren, nor ever to be exhausted. Now what may always be an exception against all possible Worlds, can never be a just one against any whatsoever.
And when they scoffingly demand, Why would this imaginary Omnipotence make such mean Page 191 pieces of Workmanship? what an indigent and im∣potent thing is his principal Creature Man? would not boundless Beneficence have communicated his divine Perfections in the most eminent degrees? They may receive this reply, That we are far from such arrogance, as to pretend to the highest digni∣ty, and be the chief of the whole Creation; we believe an invisible World and a Scale of Spiritual Beings all nobler than our selves: nor yet are we so low and base as their Atheism would depress us; not walking Statues of Clay, not the Sons of brute Earth, whose final Inheritance is Death and Cor∣ruption; we carry the image of God in us, a ra∣tional and immortal Soul; and though we be now indigent and feeble, yet we aspire after eternal hap∣piness, and firmly expect a great exaltation of all our natural powers. But whatsoever was or can be made, whether Angels or Archangels, Cherubims, or Seraphims, whether Thrones or Dominions or Princi∣palities or Powers, all the glorious Host of Heaven, must needs be finite and imperfect and dependent Creatures: and God out of the exceeding greatness of his power is still able, without end, to create higher Classes of Beings. For where can we put a stop to the Efficacy of the Almighty? or what can we as∣sign for the Highest of all possible finite Perfections? There can be no such thing as an almost Infinite:Page 192 there can be nothing Next or Second to an omni∣potent God: Nec viget quicquam simile aut secundum;* as the Heathen Poet said excellently well of the sup∣posed Father of Gods and Men. The infinite Di∣stance between the Creator and the noblest of all Creatures can never be measured nor exhausted by endless addition of finite degrees. So that no actu∣al Creature can ever be the most perfect of all pos∣sible Creation. Which shews the folly of this Que∣ry, that might always be demanded, let things be as they will; that would impiously and absurdly attempt to tie the Arm of Omnipotence from do∣ing any thing at all, because it can never do its Utmost.
II. I proceed now to the Second Proposition, That neither Matter universally and abstractly con∣sider'd, nor Motion as its Attribute and Property, can have existed from all Eternity. And to this I shall speak the more briefly; not only because it is an abstruse and metaphysical Speculation; but be∣cause it is of far less moment and consequence than the rest: since without this we can evince the Exi∣stence of God from the Origin and Frame of the Universe. For if the present or a like System of the World cannot possibly have been eternal; and if* without God it could neither naturally nor fortui∣tously Page 193 emerge out of a Chaos; we must necessarily* have recourse to a Deity, as the Contriver and Ma∣ker of Heaven and Earth; whether we suppose he created them out of Nothing, or had the Materials ready eternally to his hand. But nevertheless, be∣cause we are verily persuaded of the truth of this Article, we shall briefly assign some reasons of our Belief in these following Particulars.
First, It is a thing possible, that Matter may have been produced out of Nothing. It is urged as an Uni∣versal Maxim; that Nothing can proceed from Nothing. Now this we readily allow; and yet it will prove nothing against the Possibility of Creation. For when they say, Nothing from Nothing; they must so understand it, as excluding all Causes, both ma∣terial and efficient. In which sense it is most evi∣dently and infallibly true: being equivalent to this proposition; that Nothing can make it self, or, Nothing cannot bring its no self out of non-entity into Something. Which only expresses thus much, That Matter did not produce it self, or, that all Substances did not emerge out of an Universal No∣thing. Now who-ever talked at that rate? We do not say, the World was created from Nothing and by Nothing; we assert an eternal God to have been the Efficient Cause of it. So that a Creation of the World out of Nothing by Something; and by that Page 194 Something, that includes in its Nature a necessary Existence and perfection of Power; is certainly no Contradiction; nor opposes that common Maxim. Whence it manifestly follows, That since God may do any thing that implies not a Contradiction; if there be such an Essence as God, he may have crea∣ted Matter out of nothing, that is, have given an existence to Matter, which had no Being before.
And Secondly, It is very probable, that Matter has been actually created out of Nothing. In a former Dis∣course* we have proved sufficiently, that Humane Souls are not mere modification of Matter, but real and spiritual Substances, that have as true an Existence, as our very Bodies themselves. Now no man, as I conceive, can seriously think, that his own Soul hath existed from all Eternity. He can∣not believe the Stuff or Materials of his Soul to have been eternal, and the Soul to have been made up of them at the time of his conception. For a Hu∣mane Soul is no compound Being; 'tis not made of Particles, as our Bodies are; but 'tis one simple ho∣mogeneous Essence: Neither can he think, that the Personality of his Soul with its Faculties inherent in it has existed eternally; this is against common Sense; and it needs no Refutation. Nay, though a Man could be so extravagant, as to hold this As∣sertion; That his Soul, his personal self, has been Page 195 from everlasting; yet even this in the issue would be destructive to Atheism; since it supposes an eter∣nal Being, endued with Understanding and Wis∣dom. We will take it then as a thing confessed, That the Immaterial Souls of Men have been pro∣duced out of Nothing. But if God hath actu∣ally created those intelligent Substances, that have such Nobility and Excellency of Being above brute senseless Matter; 'tis pervicaciousness to deny, that he created Matter also: unless they'll say, necessa∣ry Existence is included in the very Essence and I∣dea of Matter.
But Matter doth not include in its Nature a ne∣cessity of Existence. For Humane Souls, as is pro∣ved before, have been actually created, and con∣sequently have not necessary Existence included in their Essence. Now can any man believe, that his spiritual Soul, that understands, and judges, and invents; endowed with those Divine Faculties of Sense, Memory and Reason; hath a dependent and precarious Being created and preserved by another; while the Particles of this dead Ink and Paper have been necessarily eternal and uncreated? 'Tis against natural reason; and no one while he contemplates an individual Body, can discern that necessity of its Existence. But men have been taught to believe, that Extension or Space, and Body are both the Page 196 self-same thing. So that because they cannot ima∣gine, how Space can either begin or cease to exist; they presently conclude, that extended infinite Mat∣ter must needs be eternal. But I shall fully prove* hereafter, that Body and Space or Distance are quite different things, and that a Vacuity is inter∣spersed among the Particles of Matter, and such a one as hath a vastly larger Extension, than all the Matter of the Universe. Which now being suppo∣sed; they ought to abstract their Imagination from that false infinite Extension, and conceive one Par∣ticle of Matter, surrounded on all sides with vacui∣ty, and contiguous to no other Body. And where∣as formerly they fansied an immense boundless Space, as an homogeneous One; which great Indi∣vidual they believed might deserve the Attribute of necessary Existence: Let them now please to ima∣gine one solitary Atom, that hath no dependence on the rest of the World; and is no more sustained in Being by other Matter, than it could be created by it; and then I would ask the question, whether this poor Atom, sluggish and unactive as it is, doth involve Necessity of Existence, the first and high∣est of all perfections, in its particular nature and no∣tion? I dare presume for the Negative in the judg∣ments of all serious men. And I observe the Epicu∣reans* take much pains to convince us, that in natu∣ral Page 197 corruptions and dissolutions, Atoms are not re∣duc'd to Nothing; which surely would be need∣less, if the very Idea of Atoms imported Self exi∣stence. And yet if one Atom do not include so much in its Notion and Essence; all Atoms put to∣gether, that is, all the Matter of the Universe can not include it. So that upon the whole matter, since Creation is no contradiction; since God hath certainly created nobler Substances than Matter; and since Matter is not necessarily eternal; it is most reasonable to believe, that the eternal and Self-exi∣stent God created the material World, and produ∣ced it out of Nothing.
And then as to the last Proposition, that Motion as an Attribute or Property of Matter cannot have been from Eternity. That we may wave some Metaphysical Arguments, which demonstrate that Local Motion cannot be positively eternal; we shall only observe in two Words; That if Matter be not essentially eternal, as we have shewed before; much less can Motion be, that is but the adjunct and accident of it. Nay though we should con∣cede an Eternity to Matter; yet why must Motion be coaeval with it? which is not only not inherent and essential to Matter; but may be produced and destroyed at the pleasure of free Agents: both which are flatly repugnant to an eternal and necessary Page 198 Duration. I am aware, how some have asserted that the same quantity of Motion is always kept up in the World; which may seem to favour the Opi∣nion of its infinite Duration: but that Assertion doth solely depend upon an absolute Plenum; which being refuted in my next Discourse, it will then ap∣pear how absurd and false that conceit is, about the same quantity of Motion; how easily disproved from that Power in Humane Souls to excite Motion when they please, and from the gradual increase of Men and other Animals, and many Arguments besides. Therefore let this also be concluded, That Motion has not been eternal in an infinite past Duration: Which was the last thing to be proved.
A CONFUTATION OF ATHEISM FROM THE Origin and Frame of the World.
The Seventh SERMON preached Novemb. 7. 1692.
Acts XIV. 15, &c.
WHen we first enter'd upon this Topic, the demonstration of God's Existence from the Origin and Frame of the World, we offer'd to prove four Propositions.
Page 2001. That this present System of Heaven and Earth cannot possibly have subsisted from all Eternity.
2. That Matter consider'd generally, and ab∣stractly from any particular Form and Concretion, cannot possibly have been eternal: Or, if Matter could be so; yet Motion cannot have coexisted with it eternally, as an inherent property and essen∣tial attribute of Matter. These two we have al∣ready established in the preceding Discourse; we shall now shew in the third place,
3. That, though we should allow the Atheists, that Matter and Motion may have been from ever∣lasting; yet if (as they now suppose) there were once no Sun, nor Stars, nor Earth, nor Planets; but the Particles, that now constitute them, were diffu∣sed in the mundane Space in manner of a Chaos without any concretion or coalition; those disper∣sed Particles could never of themselves by any kind of Natural motion, whether call'd Fortuitous or Me∣chanical, have conven'd into this present or any other like Frame of Heaven and Earth.
I. And first as to that ordinary Cant of illiterate and puny Atheists, the fortuitous or casual Concurse of Atoms, that compendious and easie Dispatch of the most important and difficult affair, the Forma∣tion of a World; (besides that in our next underta∣king it will be refuted all along) I shall now briefly Page 201 dispatch it, from what hath been formerly said con∣cerning* the true notions of Fortune and Chance. Whereby it is evident, that in the Atheistical Hy∣pothesis of the World's production, Fortuitous and Mechanical must be the self-same thing. Be∣cause Fortune is no real entity nor physical essence, but a mere relative signification, denoting only this; That such a thing said to fall out by Fortune, was really effected by material and necessary Causes; but the Person, with regard to whom it is called Fortuitous, was ignorant of those Causes or their tendencies, and did not design or foresee such an effect. This is the only allowable and genuine no∣tion of the word Fortune. But thus to affirm, that the World was made fortuitously, is as much as to say, That before the World was made, there was some Intelligent Agent or Spectator; who design∣ing to do something else, or expecting that some∣thing else would be done with the Materials of the World, there were some occult and unknown mo∣tions and tendencies in Matter, which mechanically formed the World beside his design or expectation. Now the Atheists, we may presume, will be loth to assert a fortuitous Formation in this proper sense and meaning; whereby they will make Understand∣ing to be older than Heaven and Earth. Or if they should so assert it; yet, unless they will affirm that Page 202 the Intelligent Agent did dispose and direct the ina∣nimate Matter, (which is what we would bring them to) they must still leave their Atoms to their me∣chanical Affections; not able to make one step to∣ward the production of a World beyond the neces∣sary Laws of Motion. It is plain then, that Fortune, as to the matter before us, is but a synonymous word with Nature and Necessity. It remains that we examine the adequate meaning of Chance; which* properly signifies, That all events called Casual, a∣mong inanimate Bodies, are mechanically and natu∣rally produced according to the determinate figures and textures and motions of those Bodies; with this negation only, That those inanimate Bodies are not conscious of their own operations, nor con∣trive and cast about how to bring such events to pass. So that thus to say, that the World was made casually by the concourse of Atoms, is no more than to affirm, that the Atoms composed the World me∣chanically and fatally; only they were not sensible of it, nor studied and consider'd about so noble an undertaking. For if Atoms formed the World ac∣cording to the essential properties of Bulk, Figure and Motion, they formed it mechanically; and if they formed it mechanically without perception and design, they formed it casually. So that this negation of Consciousness being all that the notion Page 203 of Chance can add to that of Mechanism; We, that do not dispute this matter with the Atheists, nor believe that Atoms ever acted by Counsel and Thought, may have leave to consider the several names of Fortune and Chance and Nature and Me∣chanism, as one and the same Hypothesis. Where∣fore once for all to overthrow all possible Explicati∣ons which Atheists have or may assign for the forma∣tion of the World, we will undertake to evince this following Proposition.
II. That the Atoms or Particles which now con∣stitute Heaven and Earth, being once separate and diffused in the Mundane Space, like the supposed Chaos, could never without a God by their Mechanical affections have convened into this present Frame of Things or any other like it.
Which that we may perform with the greater clearness and conviction; it will be necessary, in a discourse about the Formation of the World, to give you a brief account of some of the most principal and systematical Phaenomena, that occur in the World now that it is formed.
(1.) The most considerable Phaenomenon belong∣ing to Terrestrial Bodies is the general action of Gravitation, whereby All known Bodies in the vicini∣ty of the Earth do tend and press toward its Cen∣ter; not only such as are sensibly and evidently Page 204 Heavy, but even those that are comparatively the Lightest, and even in their proper place, and na∣tural Elements, (as they usually speak) as Air gravi∣tates even in Air, and Water in Water. This hath been demonstrated and experimentally proved be∣yond contradiction, by several ingenious Persons of* the present Age, but by none so perspicuously and copiously and accurately, as by the Honourable Founder of this Lecture in his incomparable Trea∣tises of the Air and Hydrostaticks.
(2.) Now this is the constant Property of Gravi∣tation; That the weight of all Bodies around the Earth is ever proportional to the Quantity of their Matter: As for instance, a Pound weight (examin'd Hydrostatically) of all kinds of Bodies, though of the most different forms and textures, doth always contain an equal quantity of solid Mass or corpore∣al Substance. This is the ancient Doctrine of the Epicurean Physiology, then and since very probably* indeed, but yet precariously asserted: But it is lately demonstrated and put beyond controversie by that very excellent and divine Theorist Mr. Isaac Newton,* to whose most admirable sagacity and industry we shall frequently be obliged in this and the follow∣ing Discourse.
I will not entertain this Auditory with an account of the Demonstration; but referring the Curious to Page 205 the Book it self for full satisfaction, I shall now pro∣ceed and build upon it as a Truth solidly establish∣ed, That all Bodies weigh according to their Matter; provided only that the compared Bodies be at equal distances from the Center toward which they weigh. Because the further they are removed from the Cen∣ter, the lighter they are: decreasing gradually and uniformly in weight, in a duplicate proportion to the Increase of the Distance.
(3.) Now since Gravity is found proportional to the Quantity of Matter, there is a manifest Neces∣sity of admitting a Vacuum, another principal Do∣ctrine of the Atomical Philosophy. Because if there were every where an absolute plenitude and density without any empty pores and interstices between the Particles of Bodies, then all Bodies of equal dimen∣sions would contain an equal Quantity of Matter; and consequently, as we have shew'd before, would be equally ponderous: so that Gold, Copper, Stone, Wood, &c. would have all the same specifick weight; which Experience assures us they have not: neither would any of them descend in the Air, as we all see they do; because, if all Space was Full, even the Air would be as dense and specifically as heavy as they. If it be said, that, though the diffe∣rence of specifick Gravity may proceed from varie∣ty of Texture, the lighter Bodies being of a more Page 206 loose and porous composition, and the heavier more dense and compact; yet an aethereal subtile Mat∣ter, which is in a perpetual motion, may penetrate and pervade the minutest and inmost Cavities of the closest Bodies, and adapting it self to the figure of every Pore, may adequately fill them; and so prevent all vacuity, without increasing the weight: To this we answer; That that subtile Matter it self must be of the same Substance and Nature with all other Matter, and therefore It also must weigh proportionally to its Bulk; and as much of it as at any time is comprehended within the Pores of a particular Body must gravitate jointly with that Bo∣dy; so that if the Presence of this aethereal Matter made an absolute Fulness, all Bodies of equal di∣mensions would be equally heavy: which being re∣futed by experience, it necessarily follows, that there is a Vacuity; and that (notwithstanding some lit∣tle objections full of cavil and sophistry) mere and simple Extension or Space hath a quite different na∣ture and notion from real Body and impenetrable Substance.
(4.) This therefore being established; in the next place it's of great consequence to our present enquiry, if we can make a computation, How great is the whole Summ of the Void spaces in our system, and what proportion it bears to the corporeal sub∣stance. Page 207 By many and accurate Trials it manifest∣ly* appears, that Refined Gold, the most ponderous of known Bodies, (though even that must be al∣lowed to be porous too, because it's dissoluble in Mercury and Aqua Regis and other Chymical Liquors; and because it's naturally a thing impossible, that the Figures and Sizes of its constituent Particles should be so justly adapted, as to touch one ano∣ther in every Point,) I say, Gold is in specifick weight to common Water as 19 to 1; and Water to common Air as 850 to 1: so that Gold is to Air as 16150 to 1. Whence it clearly appears, seeing Matter and Gravity are always commensurate, that (though we should allow the texture of Gold to be intirely close without any vacuity) the ordinary Air in which we live and respire is of so thin a compo∣sition, that 16149 parts of its dimensions are mere emptiness and Nothing; and the remaining One on∣ly material and real substance. But if Gold it self be admitted, as it must be, for a porous Concrete, the proportion of Void to Body in the texture of common Air will be so much the greater. And thus it is in the lowest and densest region of the Air near the surface of the Earth, where the whole Mass of Air is in a state of violent compression, the infe∣rior being press'd and constipated by the weight of all the incumbent. But, since the Air is now cer∣tainly Page 208 known to consist of elastick or springy Par∣ticles,* that have a continual tendency and endea∣vour to expand and display themselves; and the di∣mensions, to which they expand themselves, to be reciprocally as the Compression; it follows, that the higher you ascend in it, where it is less and less compress'd by the superior Air, the more and more it is rarified. So that at the height of a few miles from the surface of the Earth, it is computed to have some million parts of empty space in its texture for one of solid Matter. And at the height of one Terrestrial Semid. (not above 4000 miles) the Ae∣ther* is of that wonderfull tenuity, that by an exact calculation, if a small Sphere of common Air of one Inch Diameter (already 16149 parts Nothing) should be further expanded to the thinness of that Aether, it would more than take up the vast Orb of Saturn, which is many million million times big∣ger than the whole Globe of the Earth. And yet the higher you ascend above that region, the Rare∣faction still gradually increases without stop or li∣mit: so that, in a word, the whole Concave of the Firmament, except the Sun and Planets and their Atmospheres, may be consider'd as a mere Void. Let us allow then, that all the Matter of the System of our Sun may be 50000 times as much as the whole Mass of the Earth; and we appeal to Astro∣nomy, Page 209 if we are not liberal enough and even prodi∣gal in this concession. And let us suppose further, that the whole Globe of the Earth is intirely solid and compact without any void interstices; notwith∣standing what hath been shewed before, as to the texture of Gold it self. Now though we have made such ample allowances; we shall find, notwith∣standing, that the void Space of our System is im∣mensly bigger than all its corporeal Mass. For, to procede upon our supposition, that all the Matter within the Firmament is 50000 times bigger than the solid Globe of the Earth; if we assume the Diameter of the Orbis Magnus (wherein the Earth moves about the Sun) to be only 7000 times as big as the Diameter of the Earth (though the latest and most accurate Observations make it thrice 7000) and the Diameter of the Firmament to be only 100000 times as long as the Diameter of the Orbis Magnus (though it cannot possibly be less than that, but may be vastly and unspeakably bigger) we must pronounce, after such large concessions on that side, and such great abatements on ours, That the Summ of empty Spaces within the Concave of the Firma∣ment is 6860 million million million times bigger than All the Matter contain'd in it.
Now from hence we are enabled to form a right conception and imagination of the supposed Chaos; Page 210 and then we may proceed to determine the contro∣versie with more certainty and satisfaction; whe∣ther a World like the Present could possibly without a Divine Influence be formed in it or no?
(1.) And first, because every Fixt Star is suppo∣sed by Astronomers to be of the same Nature with our Sun; and each may very possibly have Planets about them, though by reason of their vast distance they be invisible to Us: we will assume this reason∣able supposition, That the same proportion of Void Space to Matter, which is found in our Sun's Regi∣on within the Sphere of the Fixt Stars, may compe∣tently well hold in the whole Mundane Space. I am aware, that in this computation we must not assign the whole Capacity of that Sphere for the Re∣gion of our Sun; but allow half of its Diameter for the Radii of the several Regions of the next Fixt Stars. So that diminishing our former number, as this last consideration requires; we may safely affirm from certain and demonstrated Principles, That the empty Space of our Solar Region (com∣prehending half of the Diameter of the Firmament) is 8575 hundred thousand million million times more ample than all the corporeal substance in it. And we may fairly suppose, that the same propor∣tion may hold through the whole Extent of the U∣niverse.
Page 211(2.) And secondly as to the state or condition of Matter before the World was a-making, which is compendiously exprest by the word Chaos; they must either suppose, that the Matter of our Solar Sy∣stem was evenly or well-nigh evenly diffused through the Region of the Sun, which would represent a par∣ticular Chaos: or that all Matter universally was so spread through the whole Mundane Space; which would truly exhibit a General Chaos; no part of the Universe being rarer or denser than another. And this is agreeable to the ancient De∣scription of Chaos, That *the Heavens and Earth had〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, one form, one texture and constitution: which could not be, unless all the Mundane Matter were uniformly and evenly diffused. 'Tis indifferent to our Dispute, whether they suppose it to have con∣tinued a long time or very little in the state of Dif∣fusion. For if there was but one single Moment in all past Eternity, when Matter was so diffused: we shall plainly and fully prove, that it could ne∣ver have convened afterwards into the present Frame and Order of Things.
(3.) It is evident from what we have newly prov'd, that in the supposition of such a Chaos or such an even diffusion either of the whole Mundane Page 212 Matter or that of our System (for it matters not which they assume) every single Particle would have a Sphere of Void Space around it 8575 hundred thousand million million times bigger than the di∣mensions of that Particle. Nay further, though the proportion already appear so immense; yet every single Particle would really be surrounded with a Void sphere Eight times as capacious as that newly mention'd; its Diameter being compounded of the Diameter of the Proper sphere, and the Semi-dia∣meters of the contiguous Spheres of the neighbour∣ing Particles. From whence it appears, that eve∣ry Particle (supposing them globular or not very oblong) would be above Nine million times their own length from any other Particle. And more∣over in the whole Surface of this Void sphere there can only Twelve Particles be evenly placed, as the Hypothesis requires; that is, at equal Distances from the Central one and from each other. So that if the Matter of our System or of the Universe was equally dispersed, like the supposed Chaos; the re∣sult and issue would be, not only that every Atom would be many million times its own length di∣stant from any other: but if any One should be moved mechanically (without direction or attracti∣on) to the limit of that distance; 'tis above a hun∣dred million millions Odds to an Unit, that it would Page 213 not strike upon any other Atom, but glide through an empty interval without any contact.
(4.) 'Tis true, that while I calculate these Mea∣sures, I suppose all the Particles of Matter to be at absolute rest among themselves, and situated in an exact and mathematical evenness; neither of which is likely to be allowed by our Adversaries, who not admitting the former, but asserting the eternity of Motion, will consequently deny the latter also: be∣cause in the very moment that Motion is admitted in the Chaos, such an exact evenness cannot possibly be preserved. But this I do, not to draw any argu∣ment against them from the Universal Rest or accu∣rately equal diffusion of Matter; but only that I may better demonstrate the great Rarity and Tenuity of their imaginary Chaos, and reduce it to computati∣on. Which computation will hold with exactness enough, though we allow the Particles of the Chaos to be variously moved, and to differ something in size and figure and situation. For if some Particles should approach nearer each other than in the for∣mer Proportion; with respect to some other Particles they would be as much remoter. So that notwith∣standing a small diversity of their Positions and Di∣stances, the whole Aggregate of Matter, as long as it retain'd the name and nature of Chaos, would re∣tain well-nigh an uniform tenuity of Texture, and Page 214 may be consider'd as an homogeneous Fluid. As several Portions of the same sort of Water are reckoned to be of the same specifick gravity; tho' it be naturally impossible that every Particle and Pore of it, consider'd Geometrically, should have equal sizes and dimensions.
We have now represented the true scheme and condition of the Chaos; how all the Particles would be disunited; and what vast intervals of empty Space would lie between each. To form a System therefore, 'tis necessary that these squander'd Atoms should convene and unite into great and compact Masses, like the Bodies of the Earth and Planets. Without such a coalition the diffused Chaos must have continued and reign'd to all eternity. But how could Particles so widely dispersed combine in∣to that closeness of Texture? Our Adversaries can have only these two ways of accounting for it.
First, By the Common Motion of Matter, pro∣ceeding from external Impulse and Conflict (without attraction) by which every Body moves uniformly in a direct line according to the determination of the impelling force. For, they may say, the Atoms of the Chaos being variously moved according to this Catholick Law, must needs knock and interfere; by which means some that have convenient figures for mutual coherence might chance to stick toge∣ther, Page 215 and others might join to those, and so by de∣grees such huge Masses might be formed, as after∣wards became Suns and Planets: or there might a∣rise some vertiginous Motions or Whirlpools in the Matter of the Chaos; whereby the Atoms might be thrust and crowded to the middle of those Whirl∣pools, and there constipate one another into great solid Globes, such as now appear in the World.
Or secondly by mutual Gravitation or Attraction. For they may assert, that Matter hath inherently and essentially such an internal energy, whereby it in∣cessantly tends to unite it self to all other Matter: so that several Particles, placed in a Void space, at any distance whatsoever would without any external im∣pulse spontaneously convene and unite together. And thus the Atoms of the Chaos, though never so widely diffused, might by this innate property of Attraction soon assemble themselves into great sphae∣rical Masses, and constitute Systems like the present Heaven and Earth.
This is all that can be proposed by Atheists, as an efficient cause of the World. For as to the Epicurean Theory, of Atoms descending down an infinite space by an inherent principle of Gravitation, which tends not toward other Matter, but toward a Vacuum or Nothing; and verging from the Perpendicular *no body knows why, nor when, nor where; 'tis such misera∣ble Page 216 absurd stuff, sorepugnant to it self, and so contra∣ry to the known Phaenomena of Nature, though it contented supine unthinking Atheists for a thousand years together; that we will not now honour it with a special refutation. But what it hath common with the other Explications, we will fully confute toge∣ther with Them in these three Propositions.
- (1.) That by Common Motion (without attra∣ction) the dissever'd Particles of the Chaos could never make the World; could never convene into such great compact Masses, as the Planets now are; nor either acquire or continue such Motions, as the Planets now have.
- (2.) That such a mutual Gravitation or sponta∣neous Attraction can neither be inherent and essential to Matter; nor ever supervene to it, unless im∣press'd and infused into it by a Divine Power.
- (3.) That though we should allow such Attracti∣on to be natural and essential to all Matter; yet the Atoms of a Chaos could never so convene by it, as to form the present System: or if they could form it, it could neither acquire such Motions, nor continue permanent in this state, without the Power and Providence of a Divine Being.
I. And first, that by Common Motion the Mat∣ter of Chaos could never convene into such Masses, as the Planets now are. Any man, that considers Page 217 the spacious void intervals of the Chaos, how im∣mense they are in proportion to the bulk of the Atoms, will hardly induce himself to believe, that Particles so widely disseminated could ever throng and crowd one another into a close and compact texture. He will rather conclude, that those few that should happen to clash, might rebound after the collision; or if they cohered, yet by the next conflict with other Atoms might be separated a∣gain, and so on in an eternal vicissitude of Fast and Loose, without ever consociating into the huge condense Bodies of Planets; some of whose Parti∣cles upon this supposition must have travell'd many millions of Leagues through the gloomy regions of Chaos, to place themselves where they now are∣But then how rarely would there be any clashing at all; how very rarely in comparison to the num∣ber of Atoms? The whole multitude of them gene∣rally speaking, might freely move and rove for e∣ver with very little occurring or interfering. Let us conceive two of the nearest Particles according to our former Calculation; or rather let us try the same proportions in another Example, that will come easier to the Imagination. Let us suppose two Ships, fitted with durable Timber and Rig∣ging, but without Pilot or Mariners, to be placed in the vast Atlantick or the Pacifique Ocean, as far a∣sunder Page 218 as may be. How many thousand years might expire, before those solitary Vessels should happen to strike one against the other? But let us imagine the Space yet more ample, even the whole face of the Earth to be cover'd with Sea, and the two Ships to be placed in the opposite Poles: might not they now move long enough without any danger of clashing? And yet I find, that the two nearest Atoms in our ev••ly diffused Chaos have ten thou∣sand times less p••portion to the two Void circular Planes around them, than our two Ships would have to the whole Surface of the Deluge. Let us assume then another Deluge ten thousand times larger than Noah's. Is it not now utterly incredible, that our two Vessels, placed there Antipodes to each o∣ther, should ever happen to concur? And yet let me add, that the Ships would move in one and the same Surface; and consequently must needs encoun∣ter, when they either advance towards one another in direct lines, or meet in the intersection of cross ones; but the Atoms may not only fly side-ways, but over likewise and under each other: which makes it many million times more improbable, that they should interfere than the Ships, even in the last and unlikeliest instance. But they may say, Though the Odds indeed be unspeakable that the Atoms do not convene in any set number of Tri∣als, Page 219 yet in an infinite Succession of them may not such a Combination possibly happen? But let them consider, that the improbability of Casual Hits is never diminished by repetition of Trials; they are as unlikely to fall out at the Thousandth as at the First. So that in a matter of mere Chance, when there is so many Millions odds against any assign∣able* Experiment; 'tis in vain to expect it should e∣ver succeed, even in endless Duration.
But though we should concede it to be simply possible, that the Matter of Chaos might convene into great Masses, like Planets: yet it's absolutely impossible, that those Masses should acquire such re∣volutions about the Sun. Let us suppose any one of those Masses to be the Present Earth. Now the annual Revolution of the Earth must proceed (in this Hypothesis) either from the Summ and Result of the several motions of all the Particles that form∣ed the Earth, or from a new Impulse from some ex∣ternal Matter, after it was formed. The former is apparently absurd, because the Particles that form'd the round Earth must needs convene from all points and quarters toward the middle, and would ge∣nerally tend toward its Center; which would make the whole Compound to rest in a Poise: or at least that overplus of Motion, which the Particles of one Hemisphere could have above the other, Page 220 would be very small and inconsiderable; too feeble and languid to propell so vast and ponderous a Bo∣dy with that prodigious velocity. And secondly, 'tis impossible, that any external Matter should impell that compound Mass, after it was formed. 'Tis manifest, that nothing else could impell it, unless the Aethereal Matter be supposed to be carried about the Sun like a Vortex or Whirlpool, as a Vehicle to convey it and the rest of the Planets. But this is refuted from what we have shewn above, that those Spaces of the Aether may be reckon'd a mere Void, the whole Quantity of their Matter scarce amount∣ing to the weight of a Grain. 'Tis refuted also from Matter of Fact in the Motion of Comets; which, as often as they are visible to Us, are in the* Region of our Planets; and there are observed to move, some in quite contrary courses to Theirs, and some in cross and oblique ones, in Planes in∣clined to the Plane of the Ecliptick in all kinds of Angles: which firmly evinces, that the Regions of the Aether are empty and free, and neither resist nor assist the Revolutions of Planets. But more∣over there could not possibly arise in the Chaos any Vortices or Whirlpools at all; either to form the Globes of the Planets, or to revolve them when formed. 'Tis acknowledged by all, that inanimate unactive Matter moves always in a streight Line, Page 221 nor ever reflects in an Angle, nor bends in a Circle (which is a continual reflexion) unless either by some external Impulse, that may divert it from the direct motion, or by an intrinseck Principle of Gravity or Attraction that may make it describe a curve line about the attracting Body. But this latter Cause is not now supposed: and the former could never beget Whirlpools in a Chaos of so great a Laxity and Thinness. For 'tis matter of certain experience and universally allowed, that all Bodies moved circu∣larly have a perpetual endeavour to recede from the Center, and every moment would fly out in right Lines, if they were not violently restrain'd and kept in by contiguous Matter. But there is no such restraint in the supposed Chaos, no want of empty room there; no possibility of effecting one single Revolution in way of a Vortex, which necessarily re∣quires (if Attraction be not supposed) either an ab∣solute Fulness of Matter, or a pretty close Constipa∣tion and mutual Contact of its Particles.
And for the same reason 'tis evident, that the Planets could not continue their Revolutions about the Sun; though they could possibly acquire them. For to drive and carry the Planets in such Orbs as they now describe, that Aethereal Matter must be compact and dense, as dense as the very Planets them∣selves: otherwise they would certainly fly out in Page 222 Spiral Lines to the very circumference of the Vortex. But we have often inculcated, that the wide Tracts of the Aether may be reputed as a mere extended Void. So that there is nothing (in this Hypothesis) that can retain and bind the Planets in their Orbs for one single moment; but they would immediately desert them and the neighbourhood of the Sun, and vanish away in Tangents to their several Circles into the Abyss of Mundane Space.
II. Secondly we affirn, that mutual Gravitation or spontaneous Attraction cannot possibly be innate and essential to Matter. By Attraction we do not here understand what is improperly, though vulgar∣ly, called so, in the operations of drawing, sucking, pumping, &c. which is really Pulsion and Trusion; and belongs to that Common Motion, which we have already shewn to be insufficient for the forma∣tion of a World. But we now mean (as we have explain'd it before) such a power and quality, whereby all parcels of Matter would mutually at∣tract or mutually tend and press to all others; so that, for instance, two distant Atoms in vacuo would spontaneously convene together without the impulse of external Bodies.
Now fiirst we say, if our Atheists suppose this power to be inherent and essential to Matter; they overthrow their own Hypothesis: there could never Page 223 be a Chaos at all upon these terms, but the present form of our System must have continued from all Eternity; against their own Supposition, and what* we have proved in our Last. For if they affirm, that there might be a Chaos notwithstanding innate Gravity; then let them assign any Period though never so remote, when the diffused Matter might convene. They must confess, that before that assign∣ed Period Matter had existed eternally, inseparably endued with this principle of Attraction; and yet had never attracted nor convened before, in that infinite duration: which is so monstrous an absur∣dity, as even They will blush to be charged with. But some perhaps may imagin, that a former Sy∣stem might be dissolved and reduced to a Chaos, from which the present System might have its Ori∣ginal, as that Former had from another, and so on; new Systems having grown out of old ones in infi∣nite Vicissitudes from all past eternity. But we say, that in the Supposition of innate Gravity no System at all could be dissolved. For how is it possible, that the Matter of solid Masses like Earth and Pla∣nets and Stars should fly up from their Centers a∣gainst its inherent principle of mutual Attraction, and diffuse it self in a Chaos? This is absurder than the other: That only supposed innate Gravity not to be exerted; This makes it to be defeated, and to Page 224 act contrary to its own Nature. So that upon all accounts this essential power of Gravitation or At∣traction is irreconcilable wirh the Atheist's own Do∣ctrine of a Chaos.
And secondly 'tis repugnant to Common Sense and Reason. 'Tis utterly unconceivable, that ina∣nimate brute Matter, without the mediation of some Immaterial Being, should operate upon and affect other Matter without mutual Contact; that distant Bodies should act upon each other through a Vacu∣um without the intervention of something else by and through which the action may be conveyed from one to the other. We will not obscure and perplex with multitude of words, what is so clear and evident by its own light, and must needs be al∣lowed by all, that have competent use of Thinking, and are initiated into, I do not say the Mysteries, but the plainest Principles of Philosophy. Now mutual Gravitation or Attraction, in our present acception of the Words, is the same thing with This; 'tis an operation or virtue or influence of distant Bodies upon each other through an empty Interval, without any Effluvia or Exhalations or other corporeal Medium to convey and transmit it. This Power therefore cannot be innate and essential to Matter. And if it be not essential; it is conse∣quently most manifest, since it doth not depend up∣on Page 225 Motion or Rest or Figure or Position of Parts, which are all the ways that Matter can diversify it self, that it could never supervene to it, unless im∣press'd and infus'd into it by an immaterial and di∣vine Power.
We have proved, that a Power of mutual Gra∣vitation, without contact or impulse, can in no-wise be attributed to mere Matter: or if it could; we shall presently shew, that it would be wholly un∣able to form the World out of Chaos. What then if it be made appear, that there is really such a Power of Gravity, which cannot be ascribed to mere Mat∣ter, perpetually acting in the constitution of the present System? This would be a new and invin∣cible Argument for the Being of God: being a di∣rect and positive proof, that an immaterial living Mind doth inform and actuate the dead Matter, and support the Frame of the World. I will lay be∣fore you some certain Phaenomena of Nature; and leave it to your consideration from what Principle they can proceed. 'Tis demonstrated, That the Sun, Moon and all the Planets do reciprocally gra∣vitate one toward another: that the Gravitating power of each of them is exactly proportional to their Matter, and arises from the several Gravitations or Attractions of all the individual Particles that com∣pose the whole Mass: that all Matter near the Sur∣face Page 226 of the Earth, (and so in all the Planets) doth not only gravitate downwards, but upwards also and side-ways and toward all imaginable Points; though the Tendency downward be praedominant and alone discernible, because of the Greatness and Nearness of the attracting Body, the Earth: that every Particle of the whole System doth attract and is attracted by all the rest, All operating upon All: that this Universal Attraction or Gravitation is an incessant, re∣gular and uniform Action by certain and establish'd Laws according to Quantity of Matter and Longi∣tude of Distance: that it cannot be destroyd nor impaired nor augmented by any thing, neither by Motion or Rest, nor Situation nor Posture, nor al∣teration of Form, nor diversity of Medium: that it is not a Magnetical Power, nor the effect of a Vor∣tical Motion; those common attempts toward the Explication of Gravity: These things, I say, are* fully demonstrated, as matters of Fact, by that very ingenious Author, whom we cited before. Now how is it possible that these things should be effected by any Material and Mechanical Agent? We have evinced, that mere Matter cannot operate upon Mat∣ter without mutual Contact. It remains then, that these Phaenomena are produced either by the inter∣vention of Air or Aether or other such medium, that communicates the Impulse from one Body to Page 227 another; or by Effluvia and Spirits that are emitted from the one, and pervene to the other. We can conceive no other way of performing them Mecha∣nically. But what impulse or agitation can be pro∣pagated through the Aether from one Particle en∣tombed and wedged in the very Center of the Earth to another in the Center of Saturn? Yet even those two Particles do reciprocally affect each other with the same force and vigour, as they would do at the same distance in any other Situation imaginable. And because the Impulse from this Particle is not directed to That only; but to all the rest in the U∣niverse, to all quarters and regions, at once invariably and incessantly: to do this mechanically, the same physical Point of Matter must move all manner of ways equally and constantly in the same instant and moment; which is flatly impossible. But if this Par∣ticle cannot propagate such Motion; much less can it send out Effluvia to all points without intermission or variation; such multitudes of Effluvia as to lay hold on every Atom in the Universe without missing of one. Nay every single Particle of the very Ef∣fluvia (since they also attract and gravitate) must in this Supposition emit other secondary Effluvia all the World over; and those others still emit more, and so in infinitum. Now if these things be repug∣nant to Humane Reason; we have great reason to Page 228 affirm, That Universal Gravitation, a thing cer∣tainly existent in Nature, is above all Mechanism and material Causes, and proceeds from a higher principle, a Divine energy and impression.
III. Thirdly we affirm; That, though we should∣allow, that reciprocal Attraction is essential to Mat∣ter; yet the Atoms of a Chaos could never so con∣vene by it, as to form the present System; or if they could form it, yet it could neither acquire these Revolutions, nor subsist in the present condition, without the Conservation and Providence of a Di∣vine Being.
(1.) For first, if the Matter of the Universe, and consequently the Space through which it's diffused, be supposed to be Finite (and I think it might be de∣monstrated to be so; but that we have already ex∣ceeded the just measures of a Sermon) then, since every single Particle hath an innate Gravitation to∣ward all others, proportionated by Matter and Di∣stance: it evidently appears, that the outward Atoms of the Chaos would necessarily tend inwards and de∣scend from all quarters toward the Middle of the whole Space; for in respect to every Atom there would lie through the Middle the greatest quantity of Matter and the most vigorous Attraction: and those Atoms would there form and constitute one huge sphaerical Mass; which would be the only Bo∣dy Page 229 in the Universe. It is plain therefore, that upon this Supposition the Matter of the Chaos could never compose such divided and different Masses, as the Stars and Planets of the present World.
But allowing our Adversaries, that the Planets might be composed: yet however they could not possibly acquire such Revolutions in Circular Orbs, or (which is all one to our present purpose) in El∣lipses very little Eccentric. For let them assign any place where the Planets were formed. Was it near∣er to the Sun, than the present distances are? But that is notoriously absurd: for then they must have ascended from the place of their Formation, against the essential property of mutual Attraction. Or were each formed in the same Orbs, in which they now move? But then they must have moved from the Point of Rest, in an horizontal Line without any in∣clination or descent. Now there is no natural Cause, neither Innate Gravity nor Impulse of exter∣nal Matter, that could beget such a Motion. For Gravity alone must have carried them downwards to the Vicinity of the Sun. And that the ambient Ae∣ther is too liquid and empty, to impell them hori∣zontally with that prodigious celerity, we have suf∣ficiently proved before. Or were they made in some higher regions of the Heavens; and from thence de∣scended by their essential Gravity, till they all arri∣ved Page 230 at their respective Orbs; each with its present de∣gree of Velocity, acquired by the fall? But then why did they not continue their descent, till they were contiguous to the Sun; whither both Mutual Attracti∣on and Impetus carried them? What natural Agent could turn them aside, could impell them so strong∣ly with a transverse Side-blow against that tremen∣dous Weight and Rapidity, when whole Planets were a falling? But if we should suppose, that by some cross attraction or other they might acquire an obli∣quity of descent, so as to miss the body of the Sun, and to fall on one side of it: then indeed the force of their Fall would carry them quite beyond it; and so they might fetch a compass about it, and then re∣turn and ascend by the same steps and degrees of Motion and Velocity, with which they descended be∣fore. Such an eccentric Motion as this, much af∣ter the manner that Comets revolve about the Sun, they might possibly acquire by their innate principle of Gravity: but circular Revolutions in concentric Orbs about the Sun or other central Body could in no-wise be attain'd without the power of the Divine Arm. For the Case of the Planetary Motions is this. Let us conceive all the Planets to be formed or constituted with their Centers in their several Orbs; and at once to be impress'd on them this Gravitating Energy toward all other Matter, and a transverse Page 231 Impulse of a just quantity in each, projecting them directly in Tangents to those Orbs. The Com∣pound Motion, which arises from this Gravitation and Projection together, describes the present Revo∣lutions of the Primary Planets about the Sun, and of the Secondary about Those: the Gravity prohibiting, that they cannot recede from the Centers of their Motions; and the transverse Impulse with-holding, that they cannot approach to them. Now although Gravity could be innate (which we have prov'd that it cannot be) yet certainly this projected, this trans∣verse and violent Motion can only be ascribed to the Right hand of the most high God, Creator of Hea∣ven and Earth.
But finally, if we should grant them, that these Circular Revolutions could be naturally attained▪ or, if they will, that this very individual World in its present posture and motion was actually formed out of Chaos by Mechanical Causes: yet it requires a Divine Power and Providence to have preserved it so long in the present state and condition. For what are the Causes, that preserve the System of our Sun and his Planets; so that the Planets continue to move in the same Orbs, neither receding from the Sun, nor approaching nearer to him? We have shewn, that a Transverse Impulse, impress'd upon the Planets, retains them in their several Orbs, that they are not Page 232 drawn down toward the Sun. And again, their Gra∣vitating Powers so incline them towards the Sun, that they are not carried upwards beyond their due di∣stance from him. These two great Agents, a Trans∣verse Impulse, and Gravity, are the Secondary Cau∣ses, under God, that maintain the System of Sun and Planets. Gravity we understand to be a constant Energy or Faculty, perpetually acting by certain Mea∣sures and naturally inviolable Laws; we say, a Fa∣culty and Power: for we cannot conceive that the Act of Gravitation of this present Moment can propagate it self or produce that of the next. But the Trans∣verse Impulse we conceive to have been one single Act. For by reason of the Inactivity of Matter and its inability to change its present State either of Mo∣ving or Resting, that Transverse Motion would from one single Impulse continue for ever equal and uni∣form, unless changed by the resistance of occurring Bodies or by a Gravitating Power. So that the Pla∣nets, since they move Horizontally (whereby Gra∣vity doth not alter their swiftness) and through the li∣quid and unresisting Spaces of the Heavens (where either no Bodies at all or inconsiderable ones do oc∣cur) may preserve the same Velocity, which the first Impulse imprest upon them, not only for five or six thousand years, but many Millions of Millions. It appears then, that if there was but One Vast Sun in Page 233 the Universe, and all the rest were Planets, revolving around him in Concentric Orbs, at convenient Di∣stances: such a System, as that, would very long en∣dure; could it but naturally have a Principle of Mu∣tual Attraction, and be once actually put into Circu∣lar Motions. But the Frame of the present World hath a quite different structure: here's an innume∣rable multitude of Fixt Stars or Suns; 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 Bo∣dies of the same sort? Nothing surely but a Dei∣ty, could have so arbitrarily indued our Sun and Pla∣nets with a Power of Gravity not essential to Matter; while all the Fixt Stars, that are so many Suns, have nothing of that Power. If the Fixt Stars then are supposed to have no Power of Gravitation, 'tis a plain proof of a Divine Being. And 'tis as plain a proof of a Divine Being; if they have the Power of Gravitation. For since they are neither revolved a∣bout a common Center, nor have any Transverse Impulse, what is there else to restrain them from ap∣proaching toward each other, as their Gravitating Power incites them? What Natural Cause can over∣come Nature it self? What is it that holds and keeps them in fixed Stations and Intervals against Page 234 an incessant and inherent Tendency to desert them? Nothing could hinder, but that the Outward Stars with their Systems of Planets must necessarily have descended toward the middlemost System of the Universe, whither all would be the most strongly attracted from all parts of a Finite Space. It is evi∣dent therefore that the present Frame of Sun and Fixt Stars could not possibly subsist without the Pro∣vidence of that Almighty Deity, who spake the word*and they were made, who commanded and they were created; who hath made them fast for ever and ever, and hath given them a Law, which shall not be broken.
(2.) And secondly in the Supposition of an in∣finite Chaos, 'tis hard indeed to determin, what would follow in this imaginary Case from an in∣nate Principle of Gravity. But to hasten to a con∣clusion, we will grant for the present, that the diffused Matter might convene into an infinite Number of great Masses at great distances from one another, like the Stars and Planets of this visi∣ble part of the World. But then it is impossible, that the Planets should naturally attain these circu∣lar Revolutions, either by Principle of Gravitation, or by impulse of ambient Bodies. It is plain, here is no difference as to this; whether the World be Infinite or Finite: so that the same Arguments that we have used before, may be equally urged in Page 235 this Supposition. And though we should concede, that these Revolutions might be acquired, and that all were settled and constituted in the present State and Posture of Things; yet, we say, the continuance of this Frame and Order, for so long a duration as the known Ages of the World, must necessarily infer the Existence of God. For though the Universe was infinite, the now Fixt Stars could not be fixed, but would naturally convene toge∣ther, and confound System with System: because, all mutually attracting, every one would move whither it was most powerfully drawn. This, they may say, is indubitable in the case of a Finite World, where some Systems must needs be Out∣most, and therefore be drawn toward the Middle: but when Infinite Systems succeed one another through an Infinite Space, and none is either in∣ward or outward; may not all the Systems be si∣tuated in an accurate Poise; and, because equally attracted on all sides, remain fixed and unmoved? But to this we reply; That unless the very ma∣thematical Center of Gravity of every System be placed and fixed in the very mathematical Center of the Attractive Power of all the rest; they can∣not be evenly attracted on all sides, but must pre∣ponderate some way or other. Now he that con∣siders, what a mathematical Center is, and that Page 236 Quantity is infinitely divisible; will never be per∣suaded, that such an Universal Equilibrium arising from the coincidence of Infinite Centers can natu∣rally be acquired or maintained. If they say; that upon the Supposition of Infinite Matter, every Sy∣stem would be infinitely, and therefore equally at∣tracted on all sides; and consequently would rest in an exact Equilibrium, be the Center of its Gra∣vity in what Position soever: this will overthrow their very Hypothesis. For at this rate in an infi∣nite Chaos nothing at all could be formed; no Par∣ticles could convene by mutual Attraction; be∣cause every one there must have Infinite Matter a∣round it, and therefore must rest for ever being evenly balanced between Infinite Attractions. E∣ven the Planets upon this principle must gravitate no more toward the Sun, than any other way: so that they would not revolve in curve Lines, but fly away in direct Tangents, till they struck a∣gainst other Planets or Stars in some remote regi∣ons of the Infinite Space. An equal Attraction on all sides of all Matter is just equal to no Attra∣ction at all: and by this means all the Motion in the Universe must proceed from external Impulse alone; which we have proved before to be an in∣competent Cause for the Formation of a World.
Page 237And now, O thou almighty and eternal Crea∣tor, having considered the Heavens the work of thy*fingers, the Moon and the Stars which thou hast or∣dained, with all the company of Heaven we laud and magnify thy glorious Name, evermore prai∣sing thee and saying; Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts, Heaven and Earth are full of thy Glory: Glory be to thee, O Lord most High.
A CONFUTATION OF ATHEISM FROM THE Origin and Frame of the World.
The Third and Last PART.
The Eighth SERMON preached December 5. 1692.
Acts XIV. 15, &c.
HAving abundantly proved in our Last Exer∣cise, That the Frame of the present World could neither be made nor preserved without the Power of God; we shall now consider the structure Page 239 and motions of our own System, if any characters of Divine Wisdom and Goodness may be discoverable by us. And even at the first and general View it very evidently appears to us (which is our FOURTH and Last Proposition,) That the Order and Beauty of the Systematical Parts of the World, the Discer∣nible Ends and Final Causes of them, the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 or Meliority above what was necessary to be, do evince by a reflex Argument, that it could not be produced by Mechanism or Chance, but by an In∣telligent and Benign Agent, that by his excellent Wisdom made the Heavens.
But before we engage in this Disquisition, we must offer one necessary Caution; that we need not nor do not confine and determin the purposes of God in creating all Mundane Bodies, merely to Humane Ends and Uses. Not that we believe it laborious and painfull to Omnipotence to create a World out of Nothing; or more laborious to cre∣ate a great World, than a small one: so as we might think it disagreeable to the Majesty and Tranquillity of the Divine Nature to take so much pains for our sakes. Nor do we count it any absurdity, that such a vast and immense Universe should be made for the sole use of such mean and unworthy Creatures as the Children of Men. For if we consider the Dignity of an Intelligent Being, and put that in the Page 240 scales against brute inanimate Matter; we may af∣firm, without over-valuing Humane Nature, that the Soul of one vertuous and religious Man is of greater worth and excellency than the Sun and his Planets and all the Stars in the World. If there∣fore it could appear, that all the Mundane Bodies are some way conducible to the service of Man; if all were as beneficial to us, as the Polar Stars were formerly for Navigation: as the Moon is for the flowing and ebbing of Tides, by which an in∣estimable advantage accrues to the World; for her officious Courtesie in long Winter Nights, especia∣ally to the more Northern Nations, who in a con∣tinual Night it may be of a whole month are so pretty well accommodated by the Light of the Moon reflected from frozen Snow, that they do not much envy their Antipodes a month's presence of the Sun: if all the Heavenly Bodies were thus ser∣viceable to us, we should not be backward to assign their usefulness to Mankind, as the sole end of their Creation. But we dare not undertake to shew, what advantage is brought to Us by those innume∣rable Stars in the Galaxy and other parts of the Fir∣mament, not discernible by naked eyes, and yet each many thousand times bigger than the whole body of the Earth: If you say, they beget in us a great Idea and Veneration of the mighty Author and Page 241 Governour of such stupendous Bodies, and excite and elevate our minds to his adoration and praise; you say very truly and well. But would it not raise in us a higher apprehension of the infinite Ma∣jesty and boundless Beneficence of God, to suppose that those remote and vast Bodies were formed, not merely upon Our account to be peept at through an Optick Glass, but for different ends and nobler purposes? And yet who will deny, but that there are great multitudes of lucid Stars even be∣yond the reach of the best Telescopes; and that every visible Star may have opake Planets revolve about them, which we cannot discover? Now if they were not created for Our sakes; it is certain and evident, that they were not made for their own. For Matter hath no life nor perception, is not con∣scious of its own existence, nor capable of happi∣ness, nor gives the Sacrifice of Praise and Worship to the Author of its Being. It remains therefore, that all Bodies were formed for the sake of Intelli∣gent Minds: and as the Earth was principally de∣signed for the Being and Service and Contemplati∣on of Men; why may not all other Planets be crea∣ted for the like Uses, each for their own Inhabitants which have Life and Understanding? If any man will indulge himself in this Speculation, he need not quarrel with revealed Religion upon such an ac∣count. Page 242 The Holy Scriptures do not forbid him to suppose as great a Multitude of Systems and as much inhabited, as he pleases. 'Tis true; there is no mention in Moses's Narrative of the Creation, of any People in other Planets. But it plainly ap∣pears, that the Sacred Historian doth only treat of the Origins of Terrestrial Animals: he hath given us no account of God's creating the Angels; and yet the same Author, in the ensuing parts of the Pen∣tateuch, makes not unfrequent mention of the Angels of God. Neither need we be sollicitous about the condition of those Planetary People, nor raise fri∣volous Disputes, how far they may participate in the Miseries of Adam's Fall, or in the benefits of Christ's Incarnation. As if, because they are supposed to be Rational, they must needs be concluded to be Men? For what is Man? not a Reasonable Animal merely, for that is not an adequate and distinguishing Defi∣nition; but a Rational Mind of such particular Fa∣culties, united to an Organical Body of such a cer∣tain Structure and Form, in such peculiar Laws of Connexion between the Operations and Affecti∣ons of the Mind and the Motions of the Body. Now God Almighty by the inexhausted fecundity of his creative Power may have made innumerable Or∣ders and Classes of Rational Minds; some in their natural perfections higher than Humane Souls, others Page 243 inferior. But a Mind of superior or meaner capaci∣ties than Humane would constitute a different Spe∣cies, though united to a Humane Body in the same Laws of Connexion: and a Mind of Humane Ca∣pacities would make another Species, if united to a different Body in different Laws of Connexion. For this Sympathetical Union of a Rational Soul with Matter, so as to produce a Vital communica∣tion between them, is an arbitrary institution of the Divine Wisdom: there is no reason nor foundation in the separate natures of either substance, why any Motion in the Body should produce any Sensation at all in the Soul; or why This motion should produce That particular Sensation, rather than any other. God therefore may have join'd Immaterial Souls, even of the same Class and Capacities in their separate State, to other kinds of Bodies and in other Laws of Union; and from those different Laws of Union there will arise quite different af∣fections and natures and species of the compound Beings. So that we ought not upon any account to conclude, that if there be Rational Inhabitants in the Moon or Mars or any unknown Planets of other Systems, they must therefore have Humane Nature, or be involved in the Circumstances of Our World. And thus much was necessary to be here inculcated (which will obviate and preclude Page 244 the most considerable objections of our Adversaries) that we do not determine the Final Causes and Use∣fulness of the Systematical parts of the World, merely as they have respect to the Exigencies or Conveniencies of Humane Life.
Let us now turn our thoughts and imaginations to the Frame of our System, if there we may trace any visible footsteps of Divine Wisdom and Bene∣ficence. But we are all liable to many mistakes by the prejudices of Childhood and Youth, which few of us ever correct by a serious scrutiny in our riper years, and a Contemplation of the Phaenome∣na of Nature in their Causes and Beginnings. What we have always seen to be done in one constant and uniform manner; we are apt to imagin there was but that one way of doing it, and it could not be otherwise. This is a great error and impedi∣ment in a disquisition of this nature: to remedy which, we ought to consider every thing as not yet in Being; and then diligently examin, if it must needs have been at all, or what other ways it might have been as possibly as the present; and if we find a greater Good and Utility in the present constitu∣tion, than would have accrued either from the to∣tal Privation of it, or from other frames and stru∣ctures that might as possibly have been as It: we may then reasonably conclude, that the present con∣stitution Page 245 proceeded, neither from the necessity of material Causes, nor the blind shuffles of an imagi∣nary Chance, but from an intelligent and Good Be∣ing, that formed it that particular way out of choice and design. And especially if this Usefulness be conspicuous not in one or a few instances only, but in a long train and series of Things, this will give us a firm and infallible assurance, that we have not pass'd a wrong Judgment.
I. Let us proceed therefore by this excellent Rule in the contemplation of Our System. 'Tis evident that all the Planets receive Heat and Light from the body of the Sun. Our own Earth in particular would be barren and desolate, a dead dark lump of Clay, without the benign influence of the Solar Rayes; which without question is true of all the other Planets. It is good therefore, that there should be a Sun, to warm and cherish the Seeds of Plants, and excite them to Vegetation; to impart an un∣interrupted Light to all parts of his System for the Subsistence of Animals. But how came the Sun to be Luminous? not from the necessity of natural Causes, or the constitution of the Heavens. All the Planets might have moved about him in the same Orbs and the same degrees of Velocity as now; and yet the Sun might have been an opake and Page 246 cold Body like Them. For as the six Primary Planets revolve about Him, so the Secondary ones are moved about Them, the Moon about the Earth, the Satellites about Iupiter, and others about Saturn; the one as regularly as the other, in the same Ses∣quialteral proportion of the times of their Periodi∣cal Revolutions to the Semidiameters of their Orbs. So that, though we suppose the present Existence and Conservation of the System, yet the Sun might have been a Body without Light or Heat, of the same kind with the Earth and Iupiter and Saturn. But then what horrid darkness and desolation must have reign'd in the World? It had been unfit for the Divine purposes in creating vegetable and sensi∣tive and rational Creatures. It was therefore the contrivance and choice of a Wise and Good Being; that the Central Sun should be a Lucid Body, to communicate warmth and light and life to the Planets around him.
II. We have shewed in our Last, that the con∣centric Revolutions of the Planets about the Sun proceed from a compound Motion; a Gravitation toward the Sun, which is a constant Energy infused into Matter by the Author of all things, and a pro∣jected transverse Impulfe in Tangents to their several Orbs, that was impress'd at first by the Divine Arm, and will carry them around till the end of the Page 247 World. But now admitting that Gravity may be essential to Matter; and that a transverse Impulse might be acquired too by Natural Causes, yet to make all the Planets move about the Sun in circu∣lar Orbs; there must be given to each a determi∣nate Impulse, these present particular degrees of Velocity which they now have, in proportion to their Distances from the Sun and to the quantity of the Solar Matter. For had the Velocities of the se∣veral Planets been greater or less than they are now, at the same distances from the Sun; or had their Distances from the Sun, or the quantity of the Sun's* Matter and consequently his Attractive Power been greater or less than they are now, with the same Velocities: they would not have revolved in con∣centric Circles as they do, but have moved in Hy∣perbola's or Parabola's or in Ellipses very Eccen∣tric. The same may be said of the Velocities of the Secondary Planets with respect to their Distan∣ces from the Centers of Their Orbs, and to the Quantities of the Matter of those Central Bodies. Now that all these Distances and Motions and Quantities of Matter should be so accurately and harmoniously adjusted in this great Variety of our System, is above the fortuitous Hits of blind material Causes, and must certainly flow from that eternal Fountain of Wisdom, the Creator of Heaven and Page 248 Earth, who always acts Geometrically, by just and ade∣quate* numbers and weights and measures. And let us examin it further by our Critical Rule: Are the present Revolutions in circular Orbs more bene∣ficial, than the other would be? If the Planets had moved in those Lines above named; sometimes they would have approached to the Sun as near as the Orb of Mercury, and sometimes have exorbita∣ted beyond the distance of Saturn: and some have quite left the Sun without ever returning. Now the very constitution of a Planet would be corrup∣ted and destroyed by such a change of the Interval between it and the Sun: no living thing could have endured such unspeakable excesses of Heat and Cold: all the Animals of our Earth must inevita∣bly have perished, or rather never have been. So* that as sure as it is good, very good, that Humane Nature should exist; so certain it is that the circu∣lar Revolutions of the Earth (and Planets) rather than those other Motions which might as possibly have been, do declare not only the Power of God, but his Wisdom and Goodness.
III. It is manifest by our last Discourse, that the Aethereal Spaces are perfectly fluid; they neither as∣sist nor retard, neither guide nor divert the Revo∣lutions of the Planets; which rowl through those Regions as free and unresisted, as if they moved Page 249 in a vacuum. So that any of them might as possibly have moved in opposite Courses to the present, and in Planes crossing the Plane of the Ecliptick in any kind of Angles. Now if the System had been for∣tuitously formed by the convening Matter of a Cha∣os; how is it conceivable, that all the Planets both Primary and Secondary, should revolve the same Way from the West to the East, and that in the same Plane too without any considerable variation? No natural and necessary Cause could so determin their motions; and 'tis millions of millions odds to an unit in such a Cast of a Chance. Such an apt and regular Harmony, such an admirable Order and Beauty must deservedly be ascribed to Divine Art and Conduct. Especially if we consider, that the smallest Planets are situated nearest the Sun and each other; whereas Iupiter and Saturn, that are vastly greater than the rest and have many Satellites about them, are wisely removed to the extreme Regions of the System, and placed at an immense Distance one from the other. For even now at this wide interval they are observed in their Con∣junctions to disturb one anothers motions a little by their gravitating Powers: but if such vast Masses of Matter had been situated much nearer to the Sun or to each other (as they might as easily have been, for any mechanical or fortuitous Agent) they must Page 250 necessarily have caused a considerable disturbance and disorder in the whole System.
IV. But 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 shown before, that if Gra∣vity and a Projected Motion be fitly proportion'd, 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 Si∣tuation? To know this; we will enquire, 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 densi∣ty of the Sun beams, and is reciprocally proportio∣nal 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 Mer∣cury; there the whole Ocean would even boil with extremity of Heat, and be all exhaled into Vapors; all Plants and Animals would be scorched and con∣sumed Page 251 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 any thing that comes now under our knowledge or senses. It was much better there∣fore, that the Earth should move where it does, than in a much greater or less Interval from the Bo∣dy of the Sun. And if you place it at any other Distance, either less or more than Saturn or Mercu∣ry; you will still alter it for the worse proportio∣nally 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 shall think with 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 qualifie it to be acted on by greater or less degrees of Heat according to their several Si∣tuations; and that the Laws of Vegetation and Life and Sustenance and Propagation are the arbitrary pleasure of God, and may vary in all Planets ac∣cording to the Divine Appointment and the Exigen∣cies of Things, in manners incomprehensible to our Page 252 Imaginations. 'Tis enough for our purpose to di∣scern the tokens of Wisdom in the placing of our Earth; if its present constitution would be spoil'd and destroy'd, if we could not wear Flesh and Blood, if we could not have Humane Nature at those different Distances.
V. We have all learnt from the Doctrine of the Sphere, that the Earth revolves with a double mo∣tion. For while it is carried around the Sun in the Orbis Magnus once a year, it perpetually wheels a∣bout its own Axis once in a day and a night: so that in 24 hours space it hath turn'd all the parts of the Equinoctial to the rayes of the Sun. Now the Uses of this vertiginous motion are very conspicu∣ous; for this is it that gives Day and Night succes∣sively over the face of the whole Earth, and makes it habitable all around: without this Diurnal Ro∣tation one▪ Hemisphere would lie dead and torpid in perpetual Darkness and Frost, and the best part of the other would be burnt up and depopulated by so permanent a Heat. It is better therefore, that the Earth should often move about its own Center, and make these usefull Vicissitudes of Night and Day, than expose always the same side to the action of the Sun. But how came it to be so moved? not from any necessity of the Laws of Motion or the System of the Heavens. It might annually have Page 253 compassed the Sun, and yet have always turn'd the same Hemisphere towards it. This is matter of Fact and Experiment in the motion of the Moon; which is carried about the Earth, in the very same manner as the Earth about the Sun, and yet al∣ways shews the same face to Us. She indeed, not∣withstanding this, turns all her Globe to the Sun by moving in her menstrual Orb, and enjoys Night and Day alternately, one Day of Hers be∣ing equal to about 14 Days and Nights of Ours. But should the Earth move in the same manner about the Sun, as the Mood does about the Earth; one half of it could never see the Day, but must eternally be condemned to Solitude and Darkness. That the Earth therefore frequently revolves about its own Center, is another eminent token of the Di∣vine Wisdom and Goodness.
VI. But let us compare the mutual proportion of these Diurnal and Annual Revolutions; for they are distinct from one another, and have a different degree of Velocity. The Earth rowls once about its Axis in a natural Day: in which time all the parts of the Equator move something more than 3 of the Earths Diameters; which makes about 1100 in the space of a year. But within the same space of a year the Center of the Earth is carried above 50 times as far once round the Orbis Magnus, whose Page 254 wideness we now assume to be 20000 Terrestrial Diameters. So that the annual motion is more than 50 times swifter than the Diurnal Rotation, though we measure the latter from the Equator, where the Celerity is the greatest. But it must* needs be acknowledged, since the Earth revolves not upon a material and rugged, but a geome∣trical Plane, that the proportions of the Diurnal and Annual Motions may be varied in innume∣rable degrees; any of which might have happen'd as probably as the present. What was it then that prescribed this particular Celerity to each Motion, this proportion and temperament between them both? Let us examin it by our former Rule: if there be any Meliority in the present constitution; if any considerable Change would be for the worse. We will suppose then, that the Annual Motion is accelerated doubly; so that a periodical Revolution would be performed in 6 Months. Such a Change would be pernicious; not only because the Earth could not move in a Circular Orb, which we have consider'd before; but because the Seasons being then twice as short as they are now, the cold Win∣ter would overtake us, before our Corn and Fruits could possibly be ripe. But shall this Motion be as much retarded, and the Seasons lengthen'd in the same proportion? This too would be as fatal as the Page 255 other: for in most Countries the Earth would be so parched and effete by the drought of the Summer, that it would afford still but one Harvest, as it doth at the present: which then would not be a suffici∣ent store for the consumption of a Year, that would be twice as long, as now. But let us suppose, that the Diurnal Rotation is either considerably swifter or slower. And first let it be retarded; so as to make (for example) but 12 Circuits in a year: then every day and night would be as long as Thirty are now, not so fitly proportion'd neither to the common affairs of Life, nor to the exigencies of Sleep and Sustenance in a constitution of Flesh and Blood. But let it then be accelerated; and wheel a thousand times about its Center, while the Center describes one circle about the Sun: then an Equinoctial day would consist but of four Hours, which would be an inconvenient Change to the in∣habitants of the Earth; such hasty Nights as those would give very unwelcome interruptions to our Labours and Journeys and other Transactions of the World. It is better therefore, that the Diurnal and Annual Motions should be so proportion'd as they are. Let it therefore be ascribed to the tran∣scendent Wisdom and Benignity of that God, who hath made all things very good, and loveth all things that he hath made.
Page 256VII. But let us consider, not the Quantity and Proportion only, but the Mode also of this Diur∣nal Motion. You must conceive an imaginary Plane, which passing through the Centers of the Sun and the Earth extends it self on all sides as far as the Firmament: this Plane is called the Ecliptick; and in this the Center of the Earth is perpetually carried without any deviation. But then the Axis of the Earth, about which its Diurnal Rotation is made, is not erect to this Plane of the Ecliptick, but inclines toward it from the Perpendiculum in an Angle of 23 degrees and a half. Now why is the Axis of the Earth in this particular posture, ra∣ther than any other? did it happen by Chance, or proceed from Design? To determin this question, let us see, as we have done before, if This be more beneficial to us, than any other Constituti∣on. We all know from the very Elements of A∣stronomy, that this inclined Position of the Axis, which keeps always the same Direction and a con∣stant Parallelism to it self, is the sole cause of these gratefull and needfull Vicissitudes of the four Sea∣sons of the Year, and the Variation in length of Days. If we take away the Inclination; it would absolutely undo these Northern Nations; the Sun would never come nearer us, than he doth now on the tenth of March or the twelfth of September. But Page 257 would we rather part with the Parallelism? Let us suppose then that the Axis of the Earth keeps al∣ways the same Inclination toward the body of the Sun: this indeed would cause a variety of Days and Nights and Seasons on the Earth; but then every particular Country would have always the same diversity of Day and Night, and the same constitu∣tion of Season, without any alteration: some would always have long Nights and short Days, others a∣gain perpetually long Days and short Nights: one Climate would be scorched and swelter'd with ever∣lasting Dog-days; while an eternal December blast∣ed another. This surely is not quite so good as the present Order of Seasons. But shall the Axis rather observe no constant inclination to any thing, but vary and waver at uncertain times and pla∣ces? This would be a happy Constitution indeed. There could be no health, no life nor subsistence in such an irregular System; by those surprizing Nods of the Pole we might be tossed backward or forward in a moment from Ianuary to Iune, nay possibly from the Ianuary of Greenland to the Iune of Abessinia. It is better therefore upon all accounts that the Axis should be continued in its present po∣sture and direction: so that this also is a signal Cha∣racter of Divine Wisdom and Goodness.
Page 258But because several have imagin'd, that this skue posture of the Axis is a most unfortunate and per∣nicious thing; that if the Poles had been erect to the Plane of the Ecliptic, all mankind would have enjoyed a very Paradise upon Earth; a perpetual Spring, an eternal Calm and Serenity, and the Longaevity of Methuselah without pains or diseases; we are obliged to consider it a little further. And first as to the Universal and Perpetual Spring, 'tis a mere Poetical Fancy, and (bating the equality of Days and Nights which is a thing of small value) as to the other properties of a Spring, it is naturally impossible, being repugnant to the very form of the Globe. For to those People that dwell under or near the Aequator, this Spring would be a most pestilent and insupportable Summer; and as for those Countries that are nearer the Poles, in which number are our own and the most considerable Na∣tions of the World, a Perpetual Spring will not do their business; they must have longer Days, a near∣er approach of the Sun, and a less Obliquity of his Rayes; they must have a Summer and a Harvest∣time too to ripen their Grain and Fruits and Vines, or else they must bid an eternal adieu to the very best of their sustenance. It is plain, that the Center of the Earth must move all along in the Orbis Mag∣nus; whether we suppose a Perpetual Aequinox, or Page 259 an oblique Position of the Axis. So that the whole Globe would continue in the same Distance from the Sun, and receive the same quantity of Heat from him in a Year or any assignable time, in either Hy∣pothesis. Though the Axis then had been perpendi∣cular; yet take the whole Year about, and the Earth would have had the same measure of Heat, that it has now. So that here lies the question; Whether is more beneficial, that the Inhabitants of the Earth should have the Yearly quantity of Heat distributed equally every day, or so disposed as it is, a greater share of it in Summer and in Winter a less? It must needs be allowed, that the Tempe∣rate Zones have no Heat to spare in Summer; 'tis very well if it be sufficient for the maturation of Fruits. Now this being granted; 'tis as certain and manifest, that an even distribution of the Yearly Heat would never have brought those Fruits to maturity, as this is a known and familiar experiment, That such a quantity of Fewel all kin∣dled at once will cause Water to boil, which being lighted gradually and successively will never be able to do it. It is clear therefore, that in the constituti∣on of a Perpetual Aequinox the best part of the Globe would be desolate and useless: and as to that little that could be inhabited, there is no reason to expect, that it would constantly enjoy that admired Page 260Calm and Serenity. If the assertion were true; yet some perhaps may think, that such a Felicity, as would make Navigation impossible, is not much to be envied. But it's altogether precarious, and has no necessary foundation neither upon Reason nor Ex∣perience. For the Winds and Rains and other af∣fections of the Atmosphere do not solely depend (as that assertion supposeth) upon the course of the Sun; but partly and perhaps most frequently upon Steams and Exhalations from subterraneous Heat, upon the Positions of the Moon, the Situations of Seas or Mountains or Lakes or Woods, and many other unknown or uncertain Causes. So that, though the Course of the Sun should be invariable, and ne∣ver swerve from the Equator; yet the tempera∣ment of the Air would be mutable nevertheless, according to the absence or presence or various mixture of the other Causes. The ancient Philoso∣phers for many ages together unanimously taught, that the Torrid Zone was not habitable. The rea∣sons that they went upon were very specious and probable; till the experience of these latter ages e∣vinced them to be erroneous. They argued from coelestial Causes only, the constant Vicinity of the Sun and the directness of his Rayes; never suspect∣ing, that the Body of the Earth had so great an ef∣ficiency in the changes of the Air; and that then Page 261 could be the coldest and rainiest season, the Winter of the Year, when the Sun was the nearest of all, and steer'd directly over mens heads. Which is warning sufficient to deterr any man from expect∣ing such eternal Serenity and Halcyon-days from so incompetent and partial a Cause, as the constant Course of the Sun in the Aequinoctial Circle. What general condition and temperament of Air would follow upon that Supposition we cannot possibly define; for 'tis not caused by certain and regular Motions, nor subject to Mathematical Calculations. But if we may make a conjecture from the present Constitution; we shall hardly wish for a Perpetual▪ Aequinox to save the charges of Weather glasses: for 'tis very well known, that the Months of March and September, the two Aequinoxes of Our year, are the most windy and tempestuous, the most unset∣tled and unequable of Seasons in most Countries of the World. Now if this notion of an uniform Calm and Serenity be false or precarious; then even the last supposed advantage, the constant Health and Longaevity of Men must be given up also, as a groundless conceit: for this (according to the As∣sertors themselves) doth solely, as an effect of Na∣ture, depend upon the other. Nay further, though we should allow them their Perpetual Calm and Ae∣quability of Heat; they will never be able to prove, Page 262 that therefore Men would be so vivacious as they would have us believe. Nay perhaps the contrary may be inferr'd, if we may argue from present ex∣perience: For the Inhabitants of the Torrid Zone, who suffer the least and shortest recesses of the Sun, and are within one step and degree of a Perpetual Aequinox, are not only shorter lived (generally speaking) than other Nations nearer the Poles; but inferior to them in Strength and Stature and Cou∣rage, and in all the capacities of the Mind. It ap∣pears therefore, that the gradual Vicissitudes of Heat and Cold are so far from shortning the thread of man's Life, or impairing his intellectual Faculties; that very probably they both prolong the one in some measure, and exalt and advance the other. So that still we do profess to adore the Divine Wis∣dom and Goodness for this variety of Seasons, for Seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer*and winter.
VIII. Come we now to consider the Atmo∣sphere, and the exterior Frame and Face of the Globe; if we may find any tracks and footsteps of Wisdom in the Constitution of Them. I need not now inform you, that the Air is a thin fluid Body, endued with Elasticity or Springiness, and capable of Condensation and Rarefaction; and should it be* much more expanded or condensed, than it natural∣ly Page 263 is, no Animals could live and breath: it is pro∣bable also, that the Vapours could not be duly raised and supported in it; which at once would deprive the Earth of all its ornament and glory, of all its living Inhabitants and Vegetables too. But 'tis certainly known and demonstrated, that the Condensation and Expansion of any portion of the Air, is always proportional to the weight and pres∣sure incumbent upon it: so that if the Atmosphere had been either much greater or less than it is, as it might easily have been, it would have had in its low∣est region on the Surface of the Earth a much great∣er density or tenuity of texture; and consequently have been unserviceable for Vegetation and Life. It must needs therefore be an Intelligent Being that could so justly adapt it to those excellent purposes. 'Tis concluded by Astronomers, that the Atmo∣sphere of the Moon hath no Clouds nor Rains, but a perpetual and uniform serenity: because nothing discoverable in the Lunar Surface is ever covered and absconded from us by the interposition of any clouds or mists, but such as rise from our own Globe. Now if the Atmosphere of Our Earth had been of such a Constitution; there could nothing, that now grows or breaths in it, have been formed or preserved; Humane Nature must have been quite obliterated out of the Works of Creation. If our Air had not Page 264 been a springy elastical Body, no Animal could have exercised the very function of Respiration: and yet the ends and uses of Respiration are not served by that Springiness, but by some other un∣known and singular Quality. For the Air, that in* exhausted Receivers of Air-pumps is exhaled from Minerals and Flesh and Fruits and Liquors, is as true and genuine as to Elasticity and Density or Rarefaction, as that we respire in: and yet this fa∣ctitious Air is so far from being fit to be breathed in, that it kills Animals in a moment, even sooner than the very absence of all Air, than a Vacuum it self. All which do inferr the most admirable Pro∣vidence of the Author of Nature; who foreknew the necessity of Rains and Dews to the present stru∣cture of Plants, and the uses of Respiration to Ani∣mals; and therefore created those correspondent properties in the Atmosphere of the Earth.
IX. In the next place let us consider the ample provision of Waters, those inexhausted Treasures of* the Ocean: and though some have grudged the great share that it takes of the Surface of the Earth, yet we shall propose this too, as a conspicuous mark and character of the Wisdom of God. For that we may not now say, that the vast Atlantick Ocean is really greater Riches and of more worth to the World, than if it was changed into a fifth Page 265 Continent; and that the Dry Land is as yet much too big for its Inhabitants; and that before they shall want Room by increasing and multiplying, there may be new Heavens and a new Earth: We dare venture to affirm, that these copious Stores of Wa∣ters are no more than necessary for the present con∣stitution of our Globe. For is not the whole Sub∣stance of all Vegetables mere modified Water? and consequently of all Animals too; all which either feed upon Vegetables or prey upon one another? Is not an immense quantity of it continually exhaled by the Sun, to fill the Atmosphere with Vapors and Clouds, and feed the Plants of the Earth with the balm of Dews and the fatness of Showrs? It seems incredible at first hearing, that all the Blood in our Bodies should circulate in a trice, in a very few mi∣nutes: but I believe it would be more surprizing, if we knew the short and swift periods of the great Circulation of Water, that vital Blood of the Earth, which composeth and nourisheth all things. If we could but compute that prodigious Mass of it, that is daily thrown into the channel of the Sea from all the Rivers of the World: we should then know and admire how much is perpetually evaporated and cast again upon the Continents to supply those innumerable Streams. And indeed hence we may discover, not only the Use and Necessity, but the Page 266Cause too of the vastness of the Ocean. I never yet heard of any Nation, that complained they had too broad or too deep or too many Rivers, or wished they were either smaller or fewer: they un∣derstand better than so, how to value and esteem those inestimable gifts of Nature. Now supposing that the multitude and largeness of Rivers ought to continue as great as now; we can easily prove, that the extent of the Ocean could be no less than it is. For it's evident and necessary, (if we follow the most fair and probable Hypothesis, that the O∣rigin of Fountains is from Vapors and Rain) that the Receptacle of Waters, into which the mouths of all those Rivers must empty themselves, ought to have so spacious a Surface, that as much Water may be continually brushed off by the Winds and exhaled by the Sun, as (besides what falls again in Showers upon its own Surface) is brought into it by all the Rivers. Now the Surface of the Ocean is just so wide and no wider: for if more was eva∣porated than returns into it again, the Sea would become less; if less was evaporated, it would grow bigger. So that, because since the memory of all ages it hath continu'd at a stand without considera∣ble variation, and if it hath gain'd ground upon one Country, hath lost as much in another; it must consequently be exactly proportioned to the present Page 267 constitution of Rivers. How rash therefore and vain are those busie Projectors in Speculation, that imagin they could recover to the World many new and noble Countries, in the most happy and tem∣porate Climates, without any damage to the old ones, could this same Mass of the Ocean be lodged and circumscribed in a much deeper Channel and and within narrower Shores! For by how much they would diminish the present extent of the Sea, so much they would impair the Fertility and Foun∣tains and Rivers of the Earth: because the quantity of Vapors, that must be exhaled to supply all these, would be lessened proportionally to the bounds of the Ocean; for the Vapors are not to be measured from the bulk of the Water, but from the space of the Surface. So that this also doth inferr the super∣lative Wisdom and Goodness of God, that he hath treasured up the Waters in so deep and spacious a Storehouse, the place that he hath founded and appoint∣ed*for them.
X. But some men are out* of Love with the features and mean of our Earth; they do not like this rugged and irre∣gular Surface, these Precipices and Valleys and the gaping Channel of the Ocean. This with them is Deformity, and rather carries Page 268 the face of a Ruin or a rude and indigested Lump of Atoms that casually convened so, than a Work of Divine Artifice. They would have the vast Body of a Planet to be as elegant and round as a factitious Globe represents it; to be every where smooth and equable, and as plain as the Elysian Fields. Let us examin, what weighty reasons they have to disparage the present constitution of Na∣ture in so injurious a manner. Why, if we sup∣pose the Ocean to be dry, and that we look down upon the empty Channel from some higher Region of the Air, how horrid and ghastly and unnatural would it look? Now admitting this Supposition; Let us suppose too that the Soil of this dry Channel were covered with Grass and Trees in manner of the Continent, and then see what would follow. If a man could be carried asleep and placed in the very middle of this dry Ocean; it must be allowed, that he could not distinguish it from the inhabited Earth. For if the bottom should be unequal with Shelves and Rocks and Precipices and Gulfs; these being now apparel'd with a vesture of Plants, would only resemble the Mountains and Valleys that he was accustomed to before. But very pro∣bably he would wake in a large and smooth Plain: for though the bottom of the Sea were gradually inclin'd and sloping from the Shore to the middle: Page 269 yet the additional Acclivity, above what a Level would seem to have, would be imperceptible in so short a prospect as he could take of it. So that to make this Man sensible what a deep Cavity he was placed in; he must be carried so high in the Air, till he could see at one view the whole Breadth of the Channel, and so compare the depression of the Middle with the elevation of the Banks. But then a very small skill in Mathematicks is enough to in∣struct us, that before he could arrive to that di∣stance from the Earth, all the inequality of Surface would be lost to his View: the wide Ocean would appear to him like an even and uniform Plane (uniform as to its Level, though not as to Light and Shade) though every Rock of the Sea was as high as the Pico of Teneriff. But though we should grant, that the dry Gulf of the Ocean would ap∣pear vastly hollow and horrible from the top of a high Cloud: yet what a way of reasoning is this from the freaks of Imagination, and impossible Suppositions? Is the Sea ever likely to be evapo∣rated by the Sun, or to be emptied with Buckets? Why then must we fancy this impossible dryness; and then upon that fictitious account calumniate Nature, as deformed and ruinous and unworthy of a Divine Author? Is there then any physical de∣formity in the Fabrick of a Humane Body; be∣cause Page 270 our Imagination can strip it of its Muscles and Skin, and shew us the scragged and knotty Backbone, the gaping and ghastly Jaws, and all the Sceleton underneath? We have shewed before, that the Sea could not be much narrower than it is, without a great loss to the World: and must we now have an Ocean of mere Flats and Shallows, to the utter ruin of Navigation; for fear our heads should turn giddy at the imagination of gaping A∣bysses and unfathomable Gulfs? But however, they may say, the Sea-shores at least might have been even and uniform, not crooked and broken as they are into innumerable Angles and Creeks and In∣lets and Bays, without Beauty or Order, which carry the Marks more of Chance and Confusion, than of the production of a wise Creator. And would not this be a fine bargain indeed? to part with all our Commodious Ports and Harbours, which the greater the In-let is, are so much the better, for the imaginary pleasure of an open and streight Shore without any retreat or shelter from the Winds; which would make the Sea of no use at all as to Navigation and Commerce. But what apology can we make for the horrid deformity of Rocks and Crags, of naked and broken Cliffs, of long Ridges of barren Mountains, in the conveni∣entest Latitudes for Habitation and Fertility, could Page 271 but those rude heaps of Rubbish and Ruins be re∣moved out of the way? We have one general and sufficient answer for all seeming defects or disorders in the constitution of Land or Sea; that we do not contend to have the Earth pass for a Paradise, or to make a very Heaven of our Globe, we reckon it only as the Land of our peregrination, and aspire after a better, and a coelestial Country. 'Tis enough,* if it be so framed and constituted, that by a care∣full Contemplation of it we have great reason to acknowledge and adore the Divine Wisdom and Benignity of its Author. But to wave this general Reply; let the Objectors consider, that these sup∣posed irregularities must necessarily come to pass from the establish'd Laws of Mechanism and the ordinary course of Nature. For supposing the Exi∣stence of Sea and Mountains; if the Banks of that Sea must never be jagged and torn by the impetu∣ous assaults or the silent underminings of Waves; if violent Rains and Tempests must not wash down the Earth and Gravel from the tops of some of those Mountains, and expose their naked Ribbs to the face of the Sun; if the Seeds of subterraneous Mi∣nerals must not ferment, and sometimes cause Earthquakes and furious eruptions of Volcano's, and tumble down broken Rocks, and lay them in con∣fusion: then either all things must have been over∣ruled▪ Page 272 ruled miraculously by the immediate interposition of God without any mechanical Affections or settled Laws of Nature, or else the body of the Earth must have been as fixed as Gold, or as hard as A∣damant, and wholly unfit for Humane Habitation. So that if it was good in the sight of God, that the* present Plants and Animals, and Humane Souls united to Flesh and Blood should be upon this Earth under a settled constitution of Nature: these sup∣posed Inconveniences, as they were foreseen and permitted by the Author of that Nature, as necessa∣ry consequences of such a constitution; so they can∣not inferr the least imperfection in his Wisdom and Goodness. And to murmure at them is as unrea∣sonable, as to complain that he hath made us Men and not Angels, that he hath placed us upon this Planet, and not upon some other, in this or ano∣ther System, which may be thought better than Ours. Let them also consider, that this objected Deformity is in our Imaginations only, and not really in Things themselves. There is no Univer∣sal Reason (I mean such as is not confined to Hu∣mane Fancy, but will reach through the whole In∣tellectual Universe) that a Figure by us called Re∣gular, which hath equal Sides and Angles, is abso∣lutely more beautifull than any irregular one. All Pulchritude is relative; and all Bodies are truly Page 273 and physically beautifull under all possible Shapes and Proportions; that are good in their Kind, that are fit for their proper uses and ends of their Na∣tures. We ought not then to believe, that the Banks of the Ocean are really deformed, because they have not the form of a regular Bulwark; nor that the Mountains are out of shape, because they are not exact Pyramids or Cones; nor that the Stars are unskilfully placed, because they are not all situated at uniform distances. These are not Natu∣ral Irregularities, but with respect to our Fancies only; nor are they incommodious to the true Uses of Life and the Designs of Man's Being on the Earth. And let them further consider, that these Ranges of barren Mountains, by condensing the Va∣pors, and producing Rains and Fountains and Ri∣vers, give the very Plains and Valleys themselves that Fertility they boast of: that those Hills and Moun∣tains supply Us and the Stock of Nature with a great variety of excellent Plants. If there were no inequalities in the Surface of the Earth, nor in the Seasons of the Year; we should lose a considerable share of the Vegetable Kingdom: for all Plants will not grow in an uniform Level and the same temper of Soil, nor with the same degree of Heat. Nay let them lastly consider, that to those Hills and Mountains we are obliged for all our Metals, and Page 274 with them for all the conveniencies and comforts of Life. To deprive us of Metals is to make us mere Savages; to change our Corn or Rice for the old Arcadian Diet, our Houses and Cities for Dens and Caves, and our Cloathing for Skins of Beasts: 'tis to bereave us of all Arts and Sciences, of Histo∣ry and Letters, nay of Revealed Religion too that inestimable favour of Heaven: for without the be∣nefit of Letters, the whole Gospel would be a mere Tradition and old Cabbala, without certainty, with∣out authority. Who would part with these Solid and Substantial Blessings for the little fantastical plea∣santness of a smooth uniform Convexity and Ro∣tundity of a Globe? And yet the misfortune of it is, that the pleasant View of their imaginary Globe, as well as the deformed Spectacle of our true one, is founded upon impossible Suppositions. For that equal Convexity could never be seen and enjoyed by any man living. The Inhabitants of such an Earth could have only the short prospect of a little Circular Plane about three Miles around them; tho' neither Woods nor Hedges nor artificial Banks should intercept it: which little too would appear to have an Acclivity on all sides from the Specta∣tors; so that every man would have the displeasure of fancying himself the lowest, and that he always dwelt and moved in a Bottom. Nay, considering Page 275 that in such a constitution of the Earth they could have no means nor instruments of Mathematical Knowledge; there is great reason to believe, that the period of the final Dissolution might overtake them, ere they would have known or had any Suspicion that they walked upon a round Ball. Must we therefore, to make this Convexity of the Earth discernible to the Eye, suppose a man to be lifted up a great height in the Air, that he may have a very spacious Horizon under one View? But then again, because of the distance, the convexity and gibbousness would vanish away; he would on∣ly see below him a great circular Flat, as level to his thinking as the face of the Moon. Are there then such ravishing Charms in a dull unvaried Flat, to make a sufficient compensation for the chief things*of the ancient Mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting Hills? Nay we appeal to the sentence of Mankind; If a Land of Hills and Valleys has not more Pleasure too and Beauty than an uniform Flat? which Flat if ever it may be said to be very de∣lightfull, is then only, when 'tis viewed from the top of a Hill. What were the Tempe of Thessaly,* so celebrated in ancient story for their unparallelled pleasantness, but a Vale divided with a River and terminated with Hills? Are not all the descriptions of Poets embellish'd with such Ideas, when they Page 276 would represent any places of Superlative Delight, any blissfull Seats of the Muses or the Nymphs, a∣ny sacred habitations of Gods or Goddesses? They will never admit that a wide Flat can be pleasant, no not in the very Ely∣sian Fields*; but those too must be diversified with depressed Valleys and swelling Ascents. They cannot imagin † even Paradise to be a place of Pleasure, nor Heaven it self to be ‖ Heaven without them. Let this therefore be another Argument of the Di∣vine Wisdom and Goodness, that the Surface of the Earth is not uniformly Convex (as many think it would naturally have been, if mechanically form∣ed by a Chaos) but distinguished with Mountains and Valleys, and furrowed from Pole to Pole with the Deep Channel of the Sea; and that because of the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, it is better that it should be so.
Give me leave to make one short Inference from what has been said, which shall finish this present Discourse, and with it our Task for the Year. We have clearly discovered many Final Causes and Page 277 Characters of Wisdom and Contrivance in the Frame of the inanimate World; as well as in the Organical Fabrick of the Bodies of Animals. Now from hence ariseth a new and invincible Argument, that the present Frame of the World hath not exist∣ed from all Eternity. For such an usefulness of things or a fitness of means to Ends, as neither pro∣ceeds from the necessity of their Beings, nor can happen to them by Chance, doth necessarily inferr that there was an Intelligent Being, which was the Author and Contriver of that Usefulness. We* have formerly demonstrated, that the Body of a Man, which consists of an incomprehensible varie∣ty of Parts, all admirably fitted for their peculiar Functions and the Conservation of the Whole, could no more be formed fortuitously; than the Aeneis of Virgil, or any other long Poem with good Sense and just Measures, could be composed by the Casual Combinations of Letters. Now to pursue this Comparison; as it is utterly impossible to be believed, that such a Poem may have been eternal, transcribed from Copy to Copy without any first Author and Original: so it is equally incredible and impossible, that the Fabrick of Humane Bo∣dies, which hath such excellent and Divine Artifice, and, if I may so say, such good Sense and true Syntax and harmonious Measures in its Constitution, Page 278 should be propagated and transcribed from Father to Son without a first Parent and Creator of it. An eternal usefulness of Things, an eternal Good Sense, cannot possibly be conceived without an eternal Wisdom and Understanding. But that can be no other than that eternal and omnipotent God; that by Wisdom hath founded the Earth, and by Under∣standing*hath established the Heavens: To whom be all Honour and Glory and Praise and Adoration from henceforth and for evermore.
- SERMON I. THE Folly of Atheism, and (what is now cal∣led) Deism; even with Respect to the Pre∣sent Life.
- Psalm XIV. v. 1. The Fool hath said in his Heart, There is no God; they are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doth good. Pag. 1
- Page 279SERMON II. Matter and Motion cannot think: Or, a Confutation of Atheism from the Faculties of he Soul.
- Acts XVII. 27. That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him; though he be not far from every one of us: for in him we Live, and Move, and have our Being. p. 36
- SERMONS III, IV, V. A Confutation of Atheism from the Structure and Origin of Humane Bodies.
- Acts XVII. 27. That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him; though he be not far from every one of us: for in him we Live, and Move, and have our Being. p. 68, 99, 132
- SERMONS VI, VII, VIII. A Confutation of Atheism from the Origin and Frame of the World.
- Acts XIV. 15, &c. That ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, who made Heaven and Earth and the Sea, andPage 280all things that are therein: Who in times past suffer'd all Nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless, he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us Rain from Heaven, and fruitfull Seasons, filling our hearts with Food and Gladness. p. 165, 199, 238
THere are now in the Press, Five Dissertations about Phalaris's Epistles, Aesop's Fables, &c. With an Answer to the Objections of the Honourable Charles Boyle, Esquire.Page [unnumbered]