Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

these objects; but over the impression itself he has no power, or very little; and that properly is the sense.

Secondly, there are many parts of animal bodies which seem to depend upon the will of the animal in a greater degree than the senses do, and yet with respect to which this solution is equally unfatisfactory. If we apply the solution to the human body, for instance, it forms itself into questions upon which no reasonable mind can doubt; such as, whether the teeth were made expressly for the mastication of food, the feet for walking, the hands for holding; or whether, these things being as they are, being in fact in the animal's possession, his own ingenuity taught him that they were convertible to these purposes, though no such purposes were contemplated in their formation.

All that there is of the appearance of reason in this way of considering the subject is, that, in some cases, the organization seems to deter mine the habits of the animal, and its choice, to a particular mode of lise; which, in a certain sense, may be called "the use arising out of the part." Now to all the instances, in which there is any place for this sug

', gestion, gestion, it may be replied, that the organization determines the animal to habits beneficial and falutary to itself; and that this effect: WÆtuld not be seen so regularly to follow, if the several organizations did not bear a concerted and contrived relation to the substances by which the animal was surrounded. They Wi'U>ld, otherwise, be capacities without objects; powers without employment. The web foot determines, you fay, the duck to swim: but what would that avail, if there were no water to swim in? The strong, hooked bill, and sharp talons, of one species of bird, determine it to prey upon animals; the soft straight bill, and weak claws, of another species, determine it to pick up feeds: but neither determination could take effect in providing for the sustenance of the birds, if animals bodies and vegetable seeds did not lie within their reach. The peculiar conformation of the bill, and tongue, and claws of the woodpecker, determines that bird to search for his food amongst the insects lodged behind the bark, or in the wood, of decayed trees; but what would this profit him if there were no trees,: no decayed trees, no insects lodged under their barker irvtheir trunk? The proboscis with which the bee is furnished, determines him to seek for honey; but what would that signify, if flowers supplied none? Faculties thrown down upon animals at random, and without reference to the objects amidst which they are placed, would not produce to them the services and benefits which we see: and if there -be- that reverence, then there is intentions «. . 4

Lastly, the solution fails entirely -when applied to plants. The parts of plants answer their uses, without any concurrence from the will or choice of the plant. as,..,,.'

VI. Others have chosen to reser every thing to. a principle of order in nature. -A principle of order is the word: but what i* meant by a principle of order, as different from an intelligent Creator, has not been explained either by definition or example: and, without such explanation, it should seem to be a mere substitution of words for reasons, names for causes. Order itself is only the adaptation of means to an end: a principle of order therefore can only signify the mind-'and in* "tention which so adapts them. Or, were it capable of being explained in any other sense, ti? there1 any experience, any analogy, to'set. tain it ? Was a watch ever produced by a principle of order? and why might not a watch be so produced, as well as an eye?

Furthermore, a principle of order, acting blindly and without choice, is negatived by the observation, that order is not universal; which it would be,, if it issued from a constant and necessary principle; nor indiscriminate; which it would be, if it issued from an unr intelligent principle. .; Where order is wanted, there we find it; where order is. not wanted* h-«. where, if it prevailed, it would be useless, there we do not find.it; , in the structure of the eye (for we adhere to our example), in the figure and position of its several parts, the most exact order is maintained. In the forms of rocks and mountains, in the lines which bound the coasts of continents and islands, in the shape of bays and promontories, no order whatever is perceived, because it would have been superfluous. No useful purpose would have arisen from moulding rocks and'mountains into regular solids, bounding the channel ofhhe ocean by geometrical curves, or from the map? of the* world resembling a table of diagtfaW*s<->irJ l Ewclid's Elements' or Simpson's Conic' Sections* r -.;

VII. Lastly,

VII. Lastly, the considence which we place in our observations upon the works of nature, in the marks which we discover of contrivance, choice, and design, and in our reasoning upon the proofs afforded us, ought not to be shaken, as it is sometimes attempted to be done, by bringing forward to our view our own ignorance, or rather the general impersection of our knowledge, of nature. Nor, in many cases, ought this consideration to affect us, even when it respects some parts of the subject immediately under our notice. True fortitude of understanding consists in not suffering what we know to be disturbed by what we do not know. If we perceive an useful end, and means adapted to that end, we perceive enough for our conclusion. If these things be clear, no matter what is obscure. The argument is finished. For instance; if the utility of vision to the animal which enjoys it, and the adaptation of the eye to this office be evi* dent and certain (and I can mention nothing which is more so), ought it to prejudice the inference which we draw from these premises, that we cannot explain the use of the spleen? Nay more; if there be parts of the eye, viz. the cornea, the crystalline, the retina, in * - their

« VorigeDoorgaan »