IV. I Come now, Eleutherius, to acquaint you with some of the Reasons, that have made me backward to entertain such a Notion of Nature, as I have hitherto Dis∣cours'd of. And I shall at present comprise them under the following five.
I. The first whereof, is, That such a Nature, as we are speaking of, seems to me to be either asserted, or assum'd without sufficient Proof. And this single Reason, if it be well made out, may, I think, suffice for my turn. For, in matters of Philoso∣phy, Page 122 where we ought not to take up any thing upon Trust, or believe it without Proof, 'tis enough to keep us from believing a thing, That we have no positive Argument to in∣duce us to assent to it, though we have no particular Arguments a∣gainst it. And, if this Rule be to take place in lesser Cases, sure it ought to hold in this, where we are to entertain the belief of so Catholick an Agent, that all the others are look'd upon but as its Instruments, that act in subordination to it; and which, being said to have an immedi∣ate Agency in many of the Phaenome∣na of the World, cannot but be sup∣pos'd to be Demonstrable by divers of them. I have yet met with no Physical Arguments, either Demon∣strative, or so much as considerably Probable, to evince the Existence of the Nature, we examin. And, though I should admit the use, that some Divines contend for, of the Holy Scriptures in Philosophical Contro∣versies, yet I should not be persuaded Page 123 of the Existence of the Nature, we Dispute of. For, I do not remember, that the Scripture any where de∣clares to us, that there is such a thing, (in the sense by me question'd) though (as I formerly noted more fully in the IV. Section,) in Genesis and some other places, where the Corporeal Works of God are expres∣ly treated of, (though in order to Spiritual ends) one might probably enough expect to find some mention of God's Grand Vicegerent in the Universe of Bodies, if he had esta∣blish'd any such. But, whatever be the true cause of the Scriptur's silence about this matter, the silence itself is sufficient to justifie me, for examin∣ing freely, by Reason, a thing that is not impos'd on my belief by Revela∣tion. And, as for the Physical Ar∣guments that may be brought in fa∣vour of the question'd Notion of Na∣ture, I shall, e're long, examine the Principal of them, and shew that they are not Convincing. To these things may be added, as to the Proof Page 124 drawn from the General Opinion a∣bout Nature, That, being a Popular, not a Physical Argument, it may in∣deed pass for currant with the Vul∣gar, but ought not to do so with Phi∣losophers.
II. The second Reason is taken from the Unnecessariness of such a Nature, as is pretended. For, since a great part of the Work of true Phi∣losophers has been, to reduce the Principles of things to the smallest Number they can, without making them insufficient; I see not, why we should take in a Principle, of which we have no need. For, supposing the common Matter of all Bodies to have been at first divided into innu∣merable minute Parts, by the Wise Author of Nature, and these Parts to have been so dispos'd of, as to form the World, constituted as it now is; and especially, supposing that the Vni∣versal Laws of Motion, among the Parts of the Matter, have been esta∣blish'd, and several Conventions of Particles contrived into the Seminal Page 125 Principles of various things; all which may be effected by the meer Local Motion of Matter, (not left to itself, but skilfully guided at the be∣ginning of the World) if (I say) we suppose these things, together with God's ordinary and general Concourse, which we very reasona∣bly may: I see not, why the same Phaenomena, that we now observe in the World, should not be produc'd, without taking in any such Powerful and Intelligent Being, distinct from God, as Nature is represented to be. And, 'till I see some Instance pro∣duc'd to the contrary, I am like to continue of this mind, and to think that the Phaenomena, we observe, will genuinely follow from the meer Fa∣brick and Constitution of the World. As, supposing the Sun and Moon to have been put, at first, into such Mo∣tions about the Earth, as Experience shews they have; the determinate Celerity of these Motions, and the Lines, wherein they are performed, will make it necessary, that the Moon Page 126 should be sometimes Full, sometimes scarce Illuminated at all to us-ward, sometimes Horned, and, in a word, should exhibit such several Phases as every Month she doth, and that at some times She and the Sun should have a Trine, or a Quadrate Aspect, &c. and that now one, and now the other of them, should at set times suffer an Eclipse: Though these E∣clipses were by the Romans and others of old, and are by many Un∣learn'd Nations at this day, look'd upon as Supernatural things; and though also Aristotle, and a multi∣tude of his Followers, fancy'd, that such Regular Motions could not be maintain'd without an Assistent In∣telligence, which He and They there∣fore Assign'd to each of the Heaven∣ly Orbs. And indeed the difficulty, we find, to conceive, how so great a Fabrick, as the World, can be pre∣served in Order, and kept from run∣ning again to a Chaos, seems to arise from hence, that Men do not suffici∣ently consider the unsearchable Wis∣dom Page 127 of the Divine Architect or 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 (as the Scripture styles him) of the World,* whose piercing Eyes were able to look at once quite through the Universe, and take into his Prospect both the be∣ginning and end of Time: So that perfectly fore-knowing, what would be the Consequences of all the possi∣ble Conjunctures of Circumstances, into which Matter, divided and mov'd according to such Laws, could, in an Automaton so Constituted as the Present World is, happen to be put; there can nothing fall out, unless when a Miracle is wrought, that shall be able to alter the Course of things, or prejudice the Constitu∣tion of them, any further, than He did from the Beginning foresee, and think fit to allow.
Nor am I sure, that the received Notion of Nature, though it be not necessary, is at least very useful, to ex∣plicate Physical Phaenomena. For, besides that, I shall shew e're long, Page 128 that several Explications, where re∣course to it is presum'd to be the most advantagious, are not to be al∣low'd: To give the Nature of a Things for the Cause of this or that particular Quality, or Operation of it, is to leave Men as ignorant as they were before; or, at least, is to ac∣knowledg, that a Philosopher can, in such Cases, assign no better particu∣lar and immediate Causes of Things, than a Shepherd or a Tradesman, that never learnt Natural Philosophy, can assign of the same things, and of a Thousand others. And though it be true, (as I formerly also intimated) that, in many Cases, Philosophers themselves can answer no otherwise, to such Questions as may be Pro∣pos'd to them, than by having re∣course to the Nature of the Thing; yet such Answerers do not declare the proper Cause of a Dark Phaeno∣menon, but only that he, who im∣ploys them, does not yet know it: And so this indefinite Notion of Na∣ture, which is equally applicable to Page 129 the resolving of all difficulties, is not useful to disclose the thing, but to delude the Maker of the Question, or hide the ignorance of the An∣swerer.
III. My third Argument is, That the Nature, I question, is so dark and odd a thing, that 'tis hard to know what to make of it, it being scarce, if at all, intelligibly propos'd, by them that lay most weight upon it. For it appears not clearly, whether they will have it to be a Corporeal Substance, or an Immaterial One, or some such thing, as may seem to be betwixt both; such as many Peripa∣teticks do represent substantial Forms, and what they call real Qualities, which divers School-men hold to be (at least by Miracle) separable from all Matter whatsoever. If it be mere∣ly Corporeal, I confess, I understand not, how it can be so Wise, and al∣most Omniscient an Agent, as they would have it pass for. Besides that, if it be a Body, I would gladly know, what kind of Body it is, and how, Page 130 since, among Bodies, there can be no Penetration of Dimensions, this Bo∣dy can so intimately pervade, as they pretend Nature does, all the other Bodies of the World? And to this I would add divers other Questi∣ons, that would not be easily answer∣ed. (But I shall resume this Third Argument in another place.) If it be said, that Nature is a Semi-substan∣tia, as some of the Modernest School∣men are pleas'd to call substantial Forms, and real Qualities; I roundly answer, that I acknowledge no such Chymerical and Unintelligible Be∣ings, and shall only desire you to ap∣ply to them a good part of the Dis∣course, made in certain Papers, oc∣casion'd by a Chymico-Physical Es∣say about Salt-petre, against the pre∣tended Origine, and inexplicable Na∣ture, of the imaginary substantial Forms of the Peripateticks. It re∣mains therefore, that this Nature, we speak of, if it be any thing positive, should be an Immaterial Substance. But to have Recourse to such an one,Page 131 as a Physical Agent, and not only a Determiner, but the Grand Author, of the Motion of Bodies, and that, especially in such familiar Phaenome∣na, as the Ascension of Water in Pumps, the Suspension of it in Water∣ing-Pots for Gardens, the running of it through Siphons, and I know not how many others) and to Explain its Casuality, as they speak, will, I think, prove a Work exceeding diffi∣cult: Though I shall not here spend time to shew you the farther incon∣veniences of such a Supposition, be∣ing to do that hereafter; and, in the mean-while, contenting myself to observe, as to many of the Naturists, That, though their Doctrine may fa∣vour it, they seem rather content to talk darkly, and uncertainly, of what they call Nature, than by clearly-De∣fining it, expose it to Objections not easie to be answered, and who foresee the advantage, that the unsetledness of the Notion gives them, to pretend Knowledg, or disguise Ignorance.
Page 132 IV. Since many of the most Learn∣ed amongst the Naturists are Chri∣stians, and not few of them Divines too, it may not be improper (which else I should, perhaps, think it would be,) to add, in this place, that the next thing, for which I dislike the Vulgar Notion (or Idea) of Nature, is, That I think it dangerous to Re∣ligion in general, and consequently to the Christian.
For this Erroneous Conceit de∣frauds the True God of divers Acts of Veneration and Gratitude, that are due to Him from Men, upon the account of the Visible World, and diverts them to that Imaginary Be∣ing they call Nature, which has no Title to them; for, whilst Nature is suppos'd to be an Intelligent Thing, that wisely and benignly Admini∣sters all that is done among Bodies, 'tis no wonder that the generality of Philosophers, and, after their Exam∣ple, of other Men, should admire and praise Her, for the wonderful, and for the useful things that they ob∣serve Page 133 in the World. And, in effect, though Nature, in that sense of the Word I am speaking of, be never (that I remember) to be found in the Sacred Writings; yet, nothing is to be more frequently met with (and that adorn'd with Titles and Encomiums) in the Books of Philoso∣phers, than Nature and Her Effects. And, if we consider, that, whatever has been said, by some, in excuse of Aristotle himself, yet the generality of the Peripateticks, from whom the Vulgar Notion of Nature is chiefly receiv'd, made the World to be Eter∣nal, and referr'd all the Transactions among the Bodies it contains, to what they call'd Nature. Whence, 'twill not be difficult to perceive, that, if they do not quite exclude God, yet, as they leave him no Interest in the first Formation of the Universe; so they leave him but very little in the Administration of the Parts it con∣sists of, especially the Sublunary Ones. So that, instead of the True God, they have substituted, for us, a Page 134 kind of a Goddess, with the Title of Nature: Which, as they look upon as the immediate Agent and Director in all excellent Productions, so they ascribe to Her the Praise and Glory of Them.
Whether this great Error, in a Point of such Importance, may not Undermine the Foundation of Reli∣gion, I think it may not irrationally be suspected. For, since the most General and Efficacious Argument, that has persuaded Philosophers, and other Men, that there is a God and a consideration of the Providence, is afforded by the visi∣ble World, wherein so many Opera∣tions and other Things are observ'd, that are manag'd (or perform'd) with such Conduct and Benignity, as cannot justly be ascrib'd but to the Wisdom and Goodness of a Dei∣ty: They that ascribe these Things to mere Nature, do much weaken the force of that Argument, if they do not quite take away the necessity of acknowledging a Deity, by shewing, Page 135 that, without any need of having Recourse to Him, of the Administra∣tion of the World and of what is perform'd among Things Corporeal, an Account may be given. Though, when Men are put upon considering the matter, and press'd to declare themselves more clearly, they are asham'd to affirm, that God and Na∣ture are the same Thing, and, will confess, that She is but his Vicege∣rent; yet, in Practise, their Admira∣tion and their Praises are frequently given to Nature, not to God: In like manner, as, though the Sun be the Fountain of Light, and the Moon de∣rives all Hers from the Sun; yet the Sea, in Its grand Motions of Ebbing and Flowing, appears to respect the Moon, and not the Sun: For thus, the generality of Men, though they will acknowledg that Nature is infe∣rior and subordinate to God, do yet appear to regard Her more than Him.
To be short, Nature uses to be so frequently recurr'd to, and is so mag∣nifi'd in the Writings of Physiolo∣gers, Page 136 that the excessive Veneration Men have for Nature, as it has made some Philosophers (as the Epicure∣ans) deny God, so, 'tis to be fear'd, that it makes many forget Him: And, perhaps, a suspicious Person would venture to add, That, if other Principles hindred not (as, I know, that in many, and, think, that in most, of the Christian Naturists they do,) the Erroneous Idea of Nature would, too often, be found to have a strong tendency to shake, if not to subvert, the very Foundations of all Religion; mis-leading those that are inclin'd to be its Enemies, from over∣looking the Necessity of a God, to the Questioning, if not to the denyal, of his Existence.
V. My Fifth and Last Argument is taken from hence; That I observe divers Phaenomena, which do not agree with the Notion or Represen∣tation of Nature, that I Question. For, if indeed there were such an Intelligent, Powerful and Vigilant Being, as Philosophers are wont to Page 137 Describe Nature to be, divers things would not be done, which Expe∣rience assures us are done.
And here I shall once for all give an Advertisement, which I desire may be call'd to mind, whenever there shall be Occasion, in the fol∣lowing part of this Tract, which is this; That, because Inanimate Bodies are usually more simple, or less compounded, and of a slighter and less complicated or curious Con∣trivance, than Animals or Plants, I thought fit to chuse most of the In∣stances I employ, rather among lifeless Bodies, whose Structure and Qualities are more easy to be In∣telligibly and with Brevity Dis∣cours'd of, than among living Crea∣tures, whose Textures, being Orga∣nical, are much more intricate and subtil. And this Course I did not scruple to take, because the Cele∣braters of Nature give her a Pro∣vince, or rather an Empire, as large as the World, and will have her Care and Jurisdiction reach, as well Page 138 to Inanimate as to Living Bodies; and accordingly most of the conspi∣cuous Instances they Alledge, of her Providence and Power, are taken from Bodies destitute of Life; as when they tell us, That the Ascen∣sion of Water in Sucking-Pumps, and the Sustentation of it in Garde∣ners Watering-Pots, are caus'd by Nature's abhorrence of a Vacuum: That heavy Bodies (unhinder'd) fall to the Ground in a Perpendicular Line, because Nature directs them the shortest way to the Centre of the Earth; and that Bubbles Rise thro' the Water, and Flames Ascend in the Air, because Nature directs these Bodies to re-join themselves to their respective Elements; to omit other Instances of this sort, that there will be occasion to mention hereafter: Till when, these may suffice to war∣rant my taking most of my Instan∣ces from Inanimate Bodies; though I shall not confine my self to these, especially when I shall come to An∣swer Objections that are taken from living Creatures.
Page 139 The foregoing Advertisement will be, I hope, found conducive to clear the way for my Fifth Argument, lately propos'd, which concludes, that, if indeed there were such a Being, as Nature is usually Represen∣ted to be, several things would be otherwise Administred in the Uni∣verse, than Experience shews they are.
To enumerate all the Particulars that may be propos'd to make this good, would swell this Discourse much beyond the Bulk to which my Haste obliges me to confine it. But, to make you amends for the Paucity of Instances, I shall now name, by the kind of them, I shall propose such as, for the most part, are taken from those very things, whence the Wisdom and Vigilancy of Nature is wont to be confidently Argued, which I the rather do, that by such I may make way for, and shorten the Answers I am to give to the Ar∣guments e're-long to be Examined.
Page 140 First then, Whereas the great Care and Vigilancy of Nature, for the common Good of the Universe, is wont to be Demonstrated from the watchful Care she takes, to prevent or replenish a Vacuum, which would be very Prejudicial to the Fabrick of the World: I Argue the quite contrary from the Phaenomena, that occur about a Vacuum. For where∣as 'tis Alledg'd, that Nature, in great Pumps, and in the like Cases, lifts up the heavy Body of Water in spight of its tendency towards the Centre of the Earth, to obviate, or fill up a Vacuity; and that out of a Gardener's Pot, or Inverted Pipe, stopp'd at one end, neither the Wa∣ter, nor even Quick-Silver, that is near fourteen times as heavy, will fall down, lest it should leave a Va∣cuum behind it; I demand how it comes to pass, that, if a Glass-Pipe be but a Foot longer than 34 or 35 Feet; or an Inverted Tube, fill'd with Quick-silver, be but a Finger's breadth longer than 30 Inches, the Page 141 Water in the one, and the Quick-silver in the other, will subside, though the one will leave but about a Foot, and the other but about an Inch, of deserted Space, which they call Vacuum, at the top of the Glass. Is it possible, that Nature, that in Pumps is said to raise up every Day so many Hundred Ton of Water, and, if you will believe the Schools, would raise it to any height, (left there should be a Vacuum) should not have the Discretion, or the Pow∣er, to lift up, or sustain, as much Water as would serve to fill one Foot in a Glass-Tube, or as much Quick-silver as an Inch of a slender Pipe will contain, to obviate or replenish the Vacuum, she is said so much to ab∣hor? sure, at this rate, she must either have very little Power, or ve∣ry little Knowledge of the Power she has. So likewise, when a Glass-Bubble is blown very thin at the Flame of a Lamp, and Hermetically seal'd whilst 'tis very hot, the Cause, that is rendered, why 'tis apt to break, Page 142 when it grows cold, is, that the in∣ward Air, which was before rarefied by the Heat, coming to be Condens'd by the Cold, left the space deserted by the Air, that thus Contracts itself, should be left void, Nature, with vi∣olence, breaks the Glass in pieces. But, by these Learned Mens favour, if the Glass be blown but a little stronger than ordinary, though at the Flame of a Lamp, the Bubble, as I have often tryed, will continue un∣broken, in spight of Natures preten∣ded abhorrency of a Vacuum: Which needs not at all to be recurr'd to in the Case. For the Reason, why the thin Glass-Bubble broke not when 'twas hot, and did when it grew cold, is plainly this; That, in the former state, the Agitation of the Included Air, by the Heat, did so strengthen the Spring of it, that the Glass was thereby assisted and enabled to resist the weight of the Incumbent Air: Whereas, upon the Cessation of that Heat, the Debilitated Spring of the Internal, being unable to assist the Page 143 Glass, as formerly, to resist the Pres∣sure of the External Air, the Glass itself being too thin becomes unable to support the Weight or Pressure of the Incumbent Air, the Atmosphaeri∣cal Pillar, that leans upon a Bubble of about two Inches Diameter, a∣mounting to above one Hundred Pound Weight; as may be manifest∣ly concluded from a late Experi∣ment that I have try'd, and you may meet with in another Paper. And the Reason, why, if the Bubble be blown of a due thickness, it will con∣tinue whole after it is Cold, is, that the thickness of it, though but faint∣ly assisted by the weakned Spring of the Included Air, is sufficient to sup∣port the Weight of the Incumbent Air, though, several times, I have observed, the Pressure of the Atmo∣sphaere, and the resistence of the Bub∣ble, to have been, by Accident, so near the aequipollent, that a much less outward Force, than one would ima∣gine, applyed to the Glass, as, per∣haps, a Pound, or a less Weight, gently Page 144 laid on it, would enable the outward Air to break it, with Noise, into a Multitude of pieces. And, now give me leave to consider, how ill this Experiment, and the above-mention∣ed Phaenomena, that happen in Glass-Pipes, wherein Water and Quick-silver subside, agree with the Vul∣gar Apprehension, Men have of Na∣ture. For, if in case She did not hin∣der the falling down of the Water, or the Quicksilver, there would be no such Vacuum produced, as She is said to abhor; Why does She seem so solicitious to hinder it? And why does She keep three or four and thir∣ty Foot of Water in Perpendicular height, contrary to the nature of all heavy Bodies, suspended in the Tube? And, Why does she furiously break in pieces a thin seal'd Bubble, such as I come from speaking of, to hinder a Vacuum? if in case She did not break it, no Vacuum would ensue. And, on the other side, if we admit her Endeavours, to hinder a Vacuum, not to have been superfluous, and Page 145 consequently foolish, we must con∣fess, that, where these endeavours succeed not, there is really produc'd such a Vacuum, as She is said to ab∣hor. So that, as I was saying, either She must be very indiscreet to trou∣ble Herself, and to transgress Her own ordinary Laws, to prevent a danger She need not fear; or Her strength must be very small, that is not able to fill a Vacuity, that half a Pint of Water, or an Ounce of Quick-silver, may replenish; or break a ten∣der Glass-Bubble, which, perhaps, a Pound Weight on it, would, with the help of so light a Body as the In∣cumbent Air, crush in pieces.
The other Grand Instance, that is given of the Wisdom of Nature, and Her watchfulness for the Good of the whole World, is, the Appetite She has Implanted in all heavy Bodies, to descend to the Centre of the Earth, and in all light Ones, to ascend towards Heaven; or, as some would have it, towards the Element of Fire, contiguous to the Orb of the Page 146 Moon. But, for positive Levity, 'till I see it better prov'd, than it hath hitherto been, I allow no such thing Implanted in Sublunary Bodies; the praepollent Gravity of some, sufficing to give others a Comparative or Re∣spective Lightness. As a piece of Oak, or the like Wood, being let go in the Air, falls down by its own Gra∣vity, or rather by virtue of the Effi∣cient of that Gravity; but if it be let go under Water, it will, though it be never so great a Log or piece of Timber, ascend, with a considerable force, to the top of the Water; which, I hope, will not be ascribed to a positive Levity, since, when it descended in the Air, 'twas by its Gravity that it did so. But not to insist on this, nor to take notice, how wisely Nature has Implanted into all heavy Bodies an Appetite to De∣scend to the Centre of the Earth, which, being but a Point, is not able to contain any one of Them; not to urge these things, I say, I will only invite you to consider one of the Page 147 most familiar things that occur a∣mong heavy Bodies.
For, if, for Example, you let fall a Ball upon the Ground, it will Re∣bound to a good height, proportion∣able to that from whence you let it fall, or, perhaps, will make several lesser Rebounds, before it come to rest. It it be now ask'd, Why the Ball, being let out of your Hand, does not fall on this or that side, or move upwards, but falls directly to∣ward the Centre of the Earth, by that shortest Line, (which Mecha∣nitians call Linea Directionis) which is the Diameter of the Earth pro∣long'd to the Centre of Gravity of the Ball? 'Twill be readily Answer'd, That this proceeds from the Balls Gravity, i. e. an Innate Appetite, whereby it tends to the Centre of the Earth the nearest way. But then I demand, Whence comes this Re∣bound, i. e. this Motion upwards? For, 'tis plain, 'tis the Genuine Conse∣quence of the Motion downwards, and therefore is encreas'd according Page 148 as that Motion in the Ball was en∣creas'd, by falling from a greater height: So that it seems, that Na∣ture does, in such Cases, play a very odd Game, since She forces a Ball, against the Laws of heavy Bodies, to ascend divers times upwards, upon the Account of that very Gravity, whose Office it is to carry it down∣wards the directest way: And, at least, She seems, in spight of the Wisdom ascribed to Her, to take Her M•asures very ill, in making the Ball move downwards with so much violence, as makes it, divers times, fly back from the place She intended it should go to. As if a Ball which a Child can play with, and direct as he pleases, were so unweildy a Thing, that Nature cannot manage it, with∣out letting it be hurried on with far greater violence, than her Design re∣quires.
The Reflection, I have been ma∣king on a Ball, may (mutatis mutan∣dis, as they speak) be applyed to a Pendulum. For, since 'tis unanimous∣ly Page 149 affirm'd, by all that have written of it, that it falls to the Perpendicu∣lar, upon the Account of its Gravi∣ty: It must not be deny'd, that 'tis from a Motion proceeding from the same Gravity, that the swinging Weight passes beyond the Perpendi∣cular, and consequently ascends, and oftentimes makes a multitude of Di∣adroms, or Vibrations; and conse∣quently, does very frequently ascend, before it comes to rest in the Perpen∣dicular: Which is the Position where∣in its Gravity is best comply'd with, and which therefore it had been best setled in at first.
I shall not here mention those Grand Anomalies, or Exorbitances, even in the vaster Bodies of the Universe; such as Earth-quakes, that reach some Hundreds of Leagues, Deluges, De∣structive Eruptions of Fire, Famines of a large spread, Raging Pestilences, Coelestial Comets, Spots in the Sun, that are recorded to have obscured it for many Months; the sudden Appearing, the Dis-appearing, and Page 150 the Re-appearing of Stars, that have been judg'd to be as high, as the Regi∣on of the fix'd Ones. I will not, I say, enquire how far these Anomalies agree to the Character wont to be given of Natures Watchfulness and Vigilancy, because, probably, I may have hereafter a fit opportunity to do it, and must now proceed to the remaining Instances I promis'd you, which are taken from what happens to Animals: As soon as I shall have dispatch'd some Considerations and Advertisements, that seem necessary to be premis'd, to what I have to of∣fer about that difficult Subject.
If the past Discourse give rise to a Question, Whether the World, and the Creatures that compose it, are as perfect as they could be made? The Question seems to me, because of the Ambiguity of the Terms, too in∣tricate to be resolv'd by a single An∣swer. But yet, because the Pro∣blem is not wont to be discuss'd, and is, in my Opinion, of Moment, in re∣ference to Natural Theology; I shall Page 151 venture briefly to intimate some of the Thoughts that occurr'd to me about it: Having first declar'd, that I am, with reason, very backward to be positive in a matter of this Na∣ture, the Extent of the Divine Power and Wisdom being such, that its Bounds, in case it have any, are not known to me.
This premis'd, I consider, that the sense of the Question may be, Whe∣ther God could make the Material World, and the Corporeal Creatures It consists of, better and more perfect that they are? speaking in a general way and absolute sense: Or else, Whe∣ther the particular Kinds or Orders of the Creatures, in the World, could any of them be made more perfect or better, than they have been made?
To Answer the Question in the first-nam'd sense of it, I think it very unsafe to deny, that God, who is Al∣mighty and Omniscient, and an Owner of Perfections, which, for ought we know, are participable in more different manners and degrees Page 152 than we can comprehend, could not Display, if it be not fitter to say Adumbrate, them, by Creating a Work more excellent than this World. And, his Immense Power and Unexhausted Wisdom consider∣ed, it will not follow, either, that be∣cause this World of Ours is an admi∣rable piece of Workmanship, the Divine Architect could not have bet∣ter'd It; or, because God himself is able to make a greater Master-piece, this exquisitely contriv'd System is not admirably Excellent.
But the propos'd Question, in the other sense of it, will require some more words to resolve it. For, if we look upon the several Species of Visible Creatures, under a more abso∣lute Consideration, without respect to the Great System of the Universe, of which they are Parts, or to the more particular Designs of the Crea∣tor; it seems manifest, that many sorts of Creatures might have been more perfect than they are, since they want many compleating things, Page 153 that others are indow'd with; as an Oyster, that can neither hear, nor see, nor walk, nor swim, nor fly, &c. is not so perfect a Creature, as an Eagle, or an Elephant, that have both those Senses that the Oyster wants, and a far more active Faculty of changing places: And, of this in∣equality of perfection in Creatures of differing kinds, the Examples are too obvious to need to be enumera∣ted. But if the Question be better propos'd, and it be inquir'd, not whe∣ther God could have made more per∣fect Creatures, than many of those he has made, for that, 'tis plain, He could do, because He has done it; but, Whether the Creatures were not so curiously and skilfully made, that 'twas scarce possibly they could have been better made, with due regard to all the wise Ends He may be sup∣pos'd to have had in making them, it will be hard to prove a Negative Answer.
This I shall indeavour to illustrate by a Supposition. If one should come Page 154 into the well-furnish'd Shop of an excellent Watch-maker, and should there see a plain Watch, design'd barely to shew the Hour of the Day; another, that strikes the Hours; a third that is also furnish'd with an Alarm; a fourth, that, besides these, shews the Month Current, and the Day of it; and lastly, a fifth, that, over and above all these, shews the Motions of the Sun, Moon and Planets, the Tydes, and other Things, which may be seen in some Curious Watches. In this Case, I say, the Spectator, sup∣posing him judicious, would, indeed, think one of these Watches far more Excellent and Compleat than ano∣ther; but yet he would conclude each of them to be perfect in its own own kind, and the Plain Watch to answer the Artificer's Idea and De∣sign in making it, as well as the more Compounded and Elaborate one did. The same thing may, in some Circumstances, be further Illu∣strated, by considering the Copy of some excellent Writing-Master, for, Page 155 though there we may find some Leaves written in an Italian Hand, others in a Secretary, and, in others, Hands of other Denominations; though one of these Patterns may be much Fairer, and more Curious than another, if they be compar'd toge∣ther; yet, if we consider their equal Conformity to the respective Idea's of the Author, and the suitableness to the Design he had of making each Copy, not as Curious, Sightly and Flourishing as he could, but as Con∣formable to the true Idea of the sort of Hand he meant to exhibit, and the Design he had to shew the Vari∣ety, Number and Justness of his Skill, by that of the Patterns he made Compleat in the respective Kinds; we shall not think, that any of them could have been better'd by him: And if he should have made a Text-Hand as fair as a Roman-Hand, by giving it more Beauty and Orna∣ment, he would not have made it bet∣ter in its Kind, but spoil'd it, and, by a Flourish of his Skill, might have Page 156 given a Proof of his want of Judg∣ment.
But, to return thither whence I began to make this Excursion, per∣haps, Eleutherius, you will object against the Examples I have pro∣duc'd before it, that the Exceptions, I have taken at some of the Procee∣dings of Nature, may be as well urg'd against Providence, and ex∣clude the One as well as the Other, from the Government of the World.
But to this I Answer, that this Ob∣jection is Foreign to the Question, which is about Mens Notion of Na∣ture, not God's Providence; which, if it were here my Task to Assert, I should establish It upon Its proper and solid Grounds: such, as the Infi∣nite Perfections of the Divine Na∣ture, which both engage and enable Him to Administer His Dominion over all things; His being the Author and Supporter of the World; The exquisite Contrivance of the Bodies of Animals, which could not proceed but from a stupendious Wisdom; Page 157The supernatural Revelations and Di∣scoveries He has made of Himself, and of His particular care of His Creatures, by Prophecies, Appariti∣ons, true Miracles, and other ways, that transcend the Power, or over∣throw, or, at least, over-rule the Phy∣sical Laws of Motion in Matter: By these, I say, and the like proper Means, I would evince Divine Providence. But being not now oblig'd to make an Attempt, which deserves to be made very solemnly, and not in such haste as I now write in. I shall, at present, only observe to you, that the Case is very differing between Pro∣vidence and Nature, and therefore there is no necessity, that the Obje∣ctions, I have made against the La∣ter, should hold against the Former. As, (to give you a few Instances of the Disparity) in the first place, it appears not, nor is it likely, that 'tis the Design of Providence to hinder those Anomalies and Defects, I have been mentioning: Whereas, 'tis said, to be the Duty and Design of Nature,Page 158 and Her only Task, to keep the Uni∣verse in Order, and procure, in all the Bodies that compose it, that things be carried on, in the best and most regular way that may be, for their Advantage. Secondly, Nature is confess'd to be a Thing inferior to God, and so but a subordinate Agent, and therefore cannot, without dispa∣ragement to Her Power, or Wisdom, or Vigilancy, suffer divers things to be done, which may, without Degra∣dation to God, be permitted by Him; who is not only a self-existent and Inde∣pendent Being, but the Supream and Absolute Lord, and, if I may so speak, the Proprietor of the whole Creati∣on: Whence both Melchizedec and Abram style Him, (Gen. xiv. 19, 23.) not only the most High God, but, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉Koneh, Possessing (or, as our Version has it, Possessor of) Heaven and Earth: And Who, when He made the World, and established the Laws of Motion, gave them to Mat∣ter, not to Himself. And so, being obliged to none, either as His Superi∣or, Page 159 or Benefactor, He was not bound to Make, or Administer, Corporeal Things after the best manner, that He could, for the good of the things themselves: Among which, those that are capable of Gratitude, ought to Praise and Thank Him, for having vouchsafed them so much as they have, and have no Right to except against His having granted them no more. And, as being thus oblig'd to none of his Works, He has a Sove∣reign Right to dispose of them; so, He has other Attributes, which He may justly Exercise, and both intend And expect to be Glorified for, besides his Goodness to Inferior Creatures: and His Wisdom may be better set off to Men, and perhaps to Angels or Intelligences, by the great Variety of His Contrivances in His Works, than by making them all of the excellent∣est Kind: As Shadows in Pictures, and Discords in Musick, skilfully Plac'd and Order'd, do much recom∣mend the Painter, and the Musician. Perhaps it may be added, That the Page 160 permitting the Course of Things to be somewhat violated, shews, by the Mischief such Exorbitances do, how good God has been in setling and preserving the orderly Course of Things. Thirdly, As God is a most Absolute and Free, so He is an Omni∣scient, Being; and, as, by His Su∣pream Dominion over the Works of His Hands, He has a Right to dis∣pose of them, as He thinks best for His own Glory, so upon the score of His unfathomable Wisdom, He may have Designs, and, if I may so speak, Reaches, in the Anomalies that hap∣pen in the World, which we Men are too short-sighted to discern; and may exercise as much Wisdom, nay, and as much Providence (in refe∣rence to Man, the Noblest Visible Object of His Providence) in some∣times (as in Divine Miracles) re∣ceding from what Men call the Laws of Nature, as He did at first in esta∣blishing them: Whereas the Office of Nature, being but to preserve the Universe in General, and Particular Page 161 Bodies in It, after the best manner that their respective Conditions will permit; we know, what 'tis She aims at, and, consequently, can bet∣ter discern, when She misses of Her Aims, by not well Acting what is presum'd to be Her Part. Fourth∣ly, We must consider, that, as God is an Independent, Free and Wise, so He is also a Just Agent; and therefore may very well be suppos'd to cause many Irregularities and Ex∣orbitances in the World, to punish those, that Men have been guilty of. And, whereas Nature is but a Nur∣sing-Mother to the Creatures, and looks e'ne upon wicked Men, not in their Moral but in their Physical ca∣pacities, God expresly declares, in the Sacred Scriptures, that, upon Adam's Fall, He Curs'd the Ground, or Earth, for Man's sake, Gen. iii. 17, 18. and that there is no penal evil in the City that is not deriv'd from Him, Amos iii. 6. He is not over-rul'd, as Men are fain to say of Erring Na∣ture, by the head-strong Motions of Page 162 the Matter, but sometimes purposely over-rules the regular Ones, to exe∣cute His Justice; & therefore Plagues, Earth-quakes, Inundations, and the like destructive Calamities, though they are sometimes Irregularities in Nature, yet, for that very Reason, they are design'd by Providence; which intends, by them, to deprive wicked Men of that Life, or of those blessings of Life, whereof their Sins have ren∣der'd them unworthy. But, whil'st I mention Designs, I must not forget, that Mine was only to give you a Tast of the Considerations, by which one may shew, that such things, as manifest Nature to act unsuitably to the Representation that is made of Her, may yet, when attributed to Divine Providence, be made out to have nothing inconsistent with It.
And yet, somewhat further to clear this weighty matter, and particular∣ly some things, but briefly hinted in what I have been lately Discoursing, I think it fit, before I descend to the Page 163 Particulars, that I am to employ against the Vulgar Notion of Nature, to premise somewhat by way of Caution, that I may do some Right (though I can never do enough,) to Divine Providence; and take care betimes, that no Use, Injurious to It, may be made of any thing that my Argument hath oblig'd me, or will oblige me, to say about that Imagi∣nary Thing, Vulgarly call'd Nature, either in This or the VI. Section, or any other Part of our present En∣quiry.
I conceive then, that the Divine Author of Things, in making the World, and the particular Creatures that compose it, had respect to seve∣ral Ends; some of them knowable by us Men, and others hid in the Abyss of the Divine Wisdom and Counsels. And that of those Ends, which are either manifest enough to us, or, at least, discoverable by Human Saga∣city and Industry, some of the Prin∣cipal are, The manifestation of the Glory of God, The Utility of Man, Page 164 and The maintenance of the System of the World; under which is com∣prised, the Conservation of particu∣lar Creatures, and, also, the Propa∣gation of some Kinds of them.
But this General Design of God, for the welfare of Man and other Creatures, is not (as I conceive) to be understood, but with a twofold Limitation.
For, First, though Men, and other Animals, be furnish'd with Faculties or Powers, and other Requisites, to enable them to preserve themselves, and procure what is necessary for their own welfare, yet this Provision, that God has been pleas'd to make for them, is made with reference to what regularly, or what most usually, happens to Beings of that Species or Sort that they belong to; but not with regard to such things as may happen to them irregularly, contin∣gently, and (in comparison of the others,) unfrequently. Thus it is, in General, far better for Mankind, that Women, when they are brought Page 165 to Bed, should have their Breasts fill'd with Milk, to give Suck to the new-born Babe, than that they should not; though sometimes, as, if the Child die in the Delivery, or pre∣sently after, and in some other Cases also, the plentiful recourse of Milk to the Mothers Breasts proves trou∣blesome and inconvenient, and some∣times also dangerous, to her. Thus a Head of Hair is, for the most part, useful to the Person, whether Man or Woman, that Nature has furnish'd with it, though, in some Cases (as of Consumptions, and in a few other Circumstances) it happens to be prejudicial to the Wearer; and therefore Physicians do often, with good success, prescribe, that it be sha∣ven off. Thus the Instinct, that Hens have to Hatch their Eggs and take care of their Young, is, in General, very useful, if not necessary, for the Conservation of that Species of Birds; and yet it sometimes mis-guides and deludes them, when it makes them take a great deal of pains to Brood Page 166 upon those Duck-eggs, that House∣wives, (having taken a way the Birds own Eggs) lay in her Nest, which makes her very solicitous to Hatch and take care of Ducklings, instead of Chickens. Thus 'tis an Instituti∣on that ordinarily is profitable for Man, that his Stomach should nause∣ate or reject things that have a loath∣some taste or smell, because the ge∣nerality of those things, that are pro∣vided for his Nourishment, are well, or, at least, not ill-tasted; and yet, on some occasions of Sickness, that disposition of the Stomach to refuse, or vomit up, nauseous Purges, and other dis-tastful Medicines, (as such Remedies are usually loathsom e∣nough) proves very prejudicial, by being a great impediment to the Re∣covery of Health. And thus (to be short) the Passions of the Mind, such as Fear, Joy and Grief, are given to Man, for his Good; and, when rightly us'd, are very advantageous, if not absolutely necessary, to him: Though, when they grow unruly, or Page 167 are ill-manag'd, as it but too often happens, they frequently prove the Causes of Diseases, and of great Mis∣chief, as well to the passionate Man himself, as to Others.
The second Limitation (which has a natural Connexion with the former,) is this, That the Omnisci∣ent Author of Things, who, in His Vast and Boundless Understanding, comprehended, at once, the whole System of His Works, and every Part of it, did not mainly intend the Welfare of such or such particular Creatures, but subordinated His Care of their Preservation and Welfare, to His Care of maintaining the Univer∣sal System and Primitive Scheme or Contrivance of His Works, and especially those Catholick Rules of Motion, and other Grand Laws, which He at first establish'd among the Portions of the Mundane Matter. So that, when there happens such a Concourse of Circumstances, that particular Bodies, fewer or more, must suffer, or else the setled Frame, Page 168 or the usual Course of Things, must be alter'd, or some general Law of Motion must be hinder'd from taking place: In such Cases, I say, the Welfare and Interest of Man himself (as an Animal) and much more That of inferior Animals, and of other Par∣ticular Creatures, must give way to the Care, that Providence takes of Things of a more General and Im∣portant Nature or Condition.
Thus (as I formerly noted) God establish'd the Lines of Motion, which the Sun and the Moon observe, tho' he foresaw, that, from thence, there would necessarily, from time to time, ensue Eclipses of those Luminaries; which he chose rather to permit, than to alter that Course, which, on seve∣ral accounts, was the most conveni∣ent. Thus a blown Bladder, or a Foot-Ball, falling from a considerable height upon the Ground, rebounds upwards, and so, contrary to the Na∣ture of Heavy Bodies, moves from the Centre of the Earth, lest the Ca∣tholick Laws of Motion, whereby Page 169 the Springyness and Reflection of Bodies, in such Circumstances, are established, should be violated or in∣trench'd upon.
Thus, He thought not fit to furnish Sheep with Paws, or Tusks, or Swift∣ness, or Animosity, or Craft, to de∣fend or preserve themselves from Wolves and Foxes, and other Beasts of Prey. And tame and fearful Birds, such as Hens, are so ill provi∣ded for defence, that they seem de∣signed to be the food of Hawks, Kites, and other rapacious Ones. Thus Oysters, having neither Eyes nor Ears, are not near so well provi∣ded for, as the generality of Beasts and Birds, and even most other Fishes. And thus Silk-Worms (to name no other Catterpillars,) usual∣ly (at least in these Countries,) live not much above half a Year, being less furnish'd with the Requisites of longaevity, than the generality of Birds, and Beasts, and Fishes.
I have thought fit to lay down the two foregoing Limitations, partly, Page 170 because they will be of use to me hereafter, and, partly, because they contain something, that may be ad∣ded to what hath been lately Repre∣sented on behalf of the Divine Pro∣vidence (as it falls under the Natu∣ralist's Consideration.) For, by these Limitations, we may perceive, that 'tis not just, presently to deny, or censure the Providence of God, when-ever we see some Creatures less compleatly furnish'd to maintain themselves; or some Cases less provi∣ded for, than we think they might be; or seeming Anomalies permitted, which we look upon as mischievous Irregularities. For the Welfare of Men, or of this or that other Parti∣cular sort of Creatures, being not the Only, nor, in likelihood, the Principal End of God, in making the World; it is neither to be admir'd nor reprehended, that He has not provided for the safety and conveni∣ency of Particular Beings, any fur∣ther, than well consists with the Wel∣fare of Beings of a more considerable Page 171 Order, and, also, will comport with his Higher Ends, and with the main∣tenance of the more General Laws and Customs, setled by Him among Things Corporeal: So that divers seeming Anomalies and Incongrui∣ties, whence some take occasion to Question the Administration of Things, and to deny the Agency of Providence, do not only comport with it, but serve to accomplish the Designs of It.
I have the more expresly declar'd my Mind on this occasion, because, indeed, of the two main Reasons, which put me upon so difficult a Work, as I foresaw this Treatise would be, as one was, the Love I bear to Truth and Philosophical Free∣dom; so the other was, a just Con∣cern for Religion. For thinking it very probable, that, in so Inquisitive an Age as This, some Observations, like Mine, about Nature itself, might come into the minds of Persons ill-affected to Divine Providence, who would be glad and forward to wrest Page 172 them, and make a perverse use of them; I thought it better, that such Notions should be candidly pro∣pos'd, by One that would take care to accompany them with those Cau∣tions, that may keep them from be∣ing injurious to Religion.
Having premis'd the two forego∣ing Advertisements, to obviate Mis∣constructions; I hope, I may now safely proceed to Particulars; where∣of, for Brevity's sake, I shall here mention but a few, leaving you to add to them those others, that oc∣cur in other parts of this Treatise.
In the first place then, I shall take notice, that there are several Instan∣ces of Persons that have been choak'd with a Hair, which they were una∣ble, either to cough up, or swallow down. The reason of this fatal Ac∣cident, is, probably, said to be the Irritation that is made, by the stay of so unusual a thing, as a Hair, in the Throat; which Irritation occasions very violent and disorderly, or con∣vulsive, Motions to expel it, in the Page 173 Organs of Respiration, by which Means the continual Circulation of the Blood, necessary to the Life of Man, is hinder'd, the Consequence whereof is speedy Death. But this agrees very ill with the Vulgar Sup∣position of such a Kind and Provi∣dent Being, as they represent Nature, which is always at hand to preserve the Life of Animals, and succour them in their (Physical) dangers and distresses, as occasion requires. For since a Hair is so slender a Body, that it cannot stop the Throat, so as to hinder, either, the free passage of Meat and Drink into the Stomach, or, that of the Air to or from the Lungs; (as may be argued from di∣vers no-way Mortal Excrescences and Ulcers in the Throat,) were it not a great deal better for Nature, to let the Hair alone, and stay, 'till the Juices of the Body have resolv'd or consum'd it, or some favourable Ac∣cident have remov'd it, than like a passionate and transported Thing, op∣pose it, like a Fury, with such blind Page 174 violence, as, instead of ejecting the Hair, expels the Life of him, that was troubled with it?
How the Care and Wisdom of Nature will be reconcil'd to so im∣proper and disorderly a Proceeding, I leave Her Admirers to consider. But it will appear very reconcileable to Providence, if we reflect back upon the lately given Advertisement. For, in regard of the use and necessity of Deglutition, and in many Cases of Coughing and Vomiting, it was, in the General, most convenient, that the Parts that minister to these Moti∣ons, should be irritated by the sudden Sense of things that are unusual, though, perhaps, they would not be otherwise dangerous or offensive, be∣cause (as we formerly noted,) 'twas fit, that the Providence of God should, in making Provision for the Welfare of Animals, have more regard to that, which usually and regularly be∣falls them, than to extraordinary Ca∣ses or unfrequent Accidents.
Page 175 Though most Women are offen∣ded with the Stink of the smoaking Wick of a Candle, which is no more than Men also are, yet it has been frequently observ'd, that Big-bellied Women have been made to Miscar∣ry, by the smell of an extinguish'd Candle, which would before have indeed displeas'd, but not endan∣ger'd, the same Persons: So that it seems, Nature is, in these Cases, ve∣ry far from being so prudent and careful, as Men are wont to fancy Her, since, by an Odour, (which, if calmly receiv'd, would have done no harm to the Teeming Woman,) She is put into such unruly Trans∣ports: And, instead of watching for the Welfare of the Teeming Wo∣man, whose Condition needed a more than ordinary measure of Her care and tenderness, She violently precipitates her poor Charge into a danger, that oftentimes proves fatal, not only to the Mother, but the Child also.
Page 176 The improper, and oftentimes hurtful, Courses that Nature takes, in Persons that are sick, some of one Disease, some of another, will be, hereafter, taken notice of in oppor∣tune places; and therefore, for the present, I shall only observe, that Nature seems to do Her Work very weakly, or bunglingly, in the Produ∣ction of Monsters, whose Variety and Numerousness is almost as great as their Deformity, or their Irregulari∣ty; insomuch that several Volums have been written, and many more might have been, to give the Descri∣ption of them. How these gross Aberrations will agree with that great Uniformity, and exquisite Skill, that is ascrib'd to Nature, in her se∣minal Productions, I leave the Natu∣rists to make out. I know, that some of them lay the fault upon the stub∣bornness of the Matter, that would not be obsequious to the Plastick Pow∣er of Nature, but I can hardly admit of this Account from Men of such Principles, as they are that give it: Page 177 for 'tis strange to me, they should pretend, that Nature, which they make a kind of Semi-Deity, should not be able to mould and fashion so small, and soft, and tractable, a Por∣tion of Matter, as that wherein the first Model and Efformation of the Embrio is made; when, at the same time, they tell us, That 'tis able, in Sucking-Pumps, to raise, and, if need be, sustain, whole Tons of Water, to prevent a Vacuum: And can, in Mines, toss up into the Air, Houses, Walls, and Castles, and, perhaps, the Rocks they are built on, to give the kindled Gun-powder the Expansion, that its New state requires.
Other Arguments, that, by a light Change and easie Application, may be made use of and added to these, against the Vulgar Notion of Na∣ture, may be met with in divers Parts of this Treatise, and especially in the VII. Section; for which Reason (among others) I decline lengthning this Part of my Discourse with the mention of them.
Page 178 I foresee it may be said, that, un∣less we admit such a Being as Nature, to contrive and manage Things Cor∣poreal, and, in a Regular and Me∣thodical way, direct them to their respective Ends, there will appear no visible Footsteps or Proof of a Di∣vine Wisdom in the Corporeal World. And this Argument, I con∣fess, is so specious, that 'twas one of the things that made me the longest hesitate, what I should think of the Receiv'd Notion of Nature. But ha∣ving further consider'd the matter, I saw it might be answer'd, that the curious Contrivance of the Uni∣verse, and many of Its Parts, and the orderly Course of Things Corporeal, with a manifest Tendency to deter∣minate Ends, are Matters of Fact, and do not depend upon the Supposi∣tion of such a Being, as they call Na∣ture; but, setting aside this or that Hypothesis, may be known by In∣spection, if those that make the Inspection be Attentive and Imparti∣al: As, when a Man sees a Humane Page 179 Body skilfully Dissected by a dexte∣rous Anatomist, he cannot, if he be intelligent and unprejudic'd, but ac∣knowledg, that there is a most curi∣ous and exquisite Contrivance in that Incomparable Engine, and in the va∣rious Parts of it, that are admirably fitted for distinct and determinate Functions or Uses. So that I do not at all, nor indeed can, suppress the mani∣fest Tokens of Wisdom and Design, that are to be observed in the wonder∣ful Construction and orderly Ope∣rations of the World and Its Parts: But I endeavour to refer these Indica∣tions of Wisdom to the true and proper Cause. And whereas, in the Hypothesis of the Objectors, there may be three Causes assign'd of these Specimens or Foot-steps of Wisdom, namely, God, Nature, and Chance; if, according to the Do∣ctrine by me propos'd, Nature be laid aside, the Competition will remain only between God and Chance: And sure he must be very dull, or very strongly prejudic'd, that shall think Page 180 it reasonable to attribute such admi∣rable Contrivances and such regular Conducts, as are observable in the Corporeal World, rather to Chance, (which is a blind and senseless Cause, or indeed no proper Cause at all, but a kind of Ens rationis) than to a most Intelligent Being, from which the cu∣riousest Productions may with Con∣gruity be expected: Whereas, if such a Celebrated Thing, as Nature is commonly thought, be admitted, 'twill not be near so easie to prove the Wisdom (and consequently the Existence) of God by His Works, since they may have another Cause, namely, that most watchful and pro∣vident Being, which Men call Na∣ture. And this will be especially difficult in the Peripatetick Hypothesis of the Eternity (not of Matter only, for in that the Atomists and others agreed with them, but) of the World. For, according to this Ac∣count of the Universe, there appears no necessity, that God should have any thing to do with it, since he did Page 181 not make this Automaton, but it was always Self-existent, not only as to Matter, but to Form too: And as for the Government or Administrati∣on of the Bodies it consists of, that is the proper business of Nature. And if it be Objected, that this Being is by its Assertors acknowledg'd to be subordinate to God; I shall answer, That, as, upon the Reasons and Autho∣rities I elsewhere de∣liver,* it may justly be question'd, Whether many Philosophers, and perhaps some Sects of them who are Adorers of Nature, confess'd Her to be but the Substitute of a Superior and Divine Being? So, this distincti∣on and subordination is not so easie to be prov'd against those that side with those other Ancient Philoso∣phers, who either acknowledg'd no such thing, or expresly deny'd it. Besides that, this Objection supposes the Existence and Superiority of a Deity, which therefore needs to be prov'd by other ways; whereas in the Page 182Hypothesis I propose, the same Phae∣nomena that discover admirable Wis∣dom and manifest Designs in the Corporeal World, do themselves af∣ford a solid Argument, both of the Existence and of some of the grand Attributes of God, with which the rest, that properly belong to Him, have a necessary Connexion.