or spring, i. e. without a force independent of, and ultea rior to, its mechanism. The spring acting at the centre, will produce different motions and different results, according to the variety of the intermediate mechanism. One and the self-same spring, acting in one and the same manner, viz. by simply expanding itself, may be the cause of a hundred different and all useful move, ments, if a hundred different and well-devised sets of wheels be placed between it and the final effect; e. g. may point out the hour of the day, the day of the month, the age of the moon, the position of the planets, the cycle of the years, and many other serviceable no. tices; and these movements may fulfil their purposes with more or less perfection, according as the mecha. nism is better or worse contrived, or better or worse executed, or in a better or worse state of repair: but in all cases, it is necessary that the spring act at the centre. The course of our reasoning upon such a subject would be this: By inspecting the watch, even when standing still, we get a proof of contrivance, and of a contriving mind, having been employed about it. In the form and obvious relation of its parts, we see enough to convince us of this. If we pull the works in pieces, for the purpose of a closer examination, we are still more fully convinced. But, when we see the watch going, we see proof of another point, viz. that there is a power somewhere, and somehow or other, applied to it; a power in action ;-that there is more in the subject than the mere wheels of the machine ;—that there is a secret spring, or a gravitating plummet;-in a word, that there is force, and energy, as well as mechanism.

So then, the watch in motion establishes to the observer two conclusions: One; that thought, contrivance, and design, have been employed in the forming, proportioning, and arranging of its parts ; and that

whoever or wherever he be, or were, such a contriver there is, or was: The other; that force or power, distinct from mechanism, is, at this present time, acting upon it. If I saw a hand-mill even at rest, I should see contrivance: but if I saw it grinding, I should be assured that a hand was at the windlass, though in another room. It is the same in nature. In the works of nature we trace mechanism; and this alone proves contrivance: but living, active, moving, productive nature, proves also the exertion of a power at the centre: for, wherever the



be denomie nated the centre,

The intervention and disposition of what are called « second causesfall under the same observation. This disposition is or is not mechanism, according as we can or cannot trace it by our senses and means of examination. That is all the difference there is; and it is a difference which respects our faculties, not the things themselves. Now where the order of second causes is mechanical, what is here said of mechanism strictly applies to it. But it would be always mechanism (natural chymistry, for instance, would be mechanism), if our senses were acute enough to descry it. Neither mechanism, therefore, in the works of nature, nor the intervention of what are called second causes (for I think that they are the same thing), excuses the necessity of an agent distinct from both.

If, in tracing these causes, it be said that we find certain general properties of matter which have nothing in them that bespeaks intelligence, I answer, that, still the managing of these properties, the pointing and directing them to the uses which we see made of them, demands intelligence in the highest degree. For example; supposé animal secretions to be elective attractions, and that such and such attractions univer

sally belong to such and such substances; in all which there is no intellect concerned ; still the choice and collocation of these substances, the fixing upon right substances, and disposing them in right places, must be an act of intelligence. What mischief would fol. low, were there a single transposition of the secretory organs ; a single mistake in arranging the glands which compose

them ! There may be many second causes, and

many courses of second causes, one behind another, between what we observe of nature, and the Deity: but there must be intelligence somewhere: there must be more in nature than what we see; and, amongst the things unseen, there must be an intelligent, designing author. The philosopher beholds with astonishment the production of things around him. Unconscious particles of matter take their stations, and severally range themselves in an order, so as to become collectively plants or animals, i. e. organised bodies, with parts bearing strict and evident relation to one another, and to the utility of the whole: and it should seem that these particles could not move in other


than as they do; for they testify not the smallest sign of choice, or liberty, or discretion. There may be particular intelligent beings, guiding these motions in each case : or they may be the result of trains of mechanical dispositions, fixed beforehand by an intelligent appointment, and kept in action by a power at the centre. But, in either case, there must be intelligence.

The minds of most men are fond of what they call a principle, and of the appearance of simplicity, in ace counting for phænomena. Yet this principle, this simplicity, resides merely in the name; which name, after all, comprises, perhaps, under it a diversified, multifarious, or progressive operation, distinguishable


into parts. The power in organised bodies, of producing bodies like themselves, is one of these principles. Give a philosopher this, and he can get on. But he does not reflect, what this mode of production, this principle (if such he choose to call it), requires ; how much it presupposes; what an apparatus of instru. ments, some of which are strictly mechanical, is necessary to its success; what a train it includes of operations and changes, one succeeding another, one related to another, one ministering to another; all advancing, by intermediate, and, frequently, by sensible steps, to their ultimate result! Yet, because the whole of this complicated action is wrapped up in a single term, generation, we are to set it down as an elementary principle; and to suppose, that when we have resolved the things which we see into this principle, we have sufficiently accounted for their origin, without the necessity of a designing, intelligent Creator. The truth is, generation is not a principle, but a process. We might as well call the casting of metals a principle; we might, so far as appears to me, as well call spinning and weaving principles: and then, referring the texture of cloths, the fabric of muslins and calicoes, the patterns of diapers and damasks, to these, as principles, pretend to-dispense with intention, thought, and contrivance, on the part of the artist ; or to dispense, indeed, with the necessity of any artist at all, either in the manufacturing of the article, or in the fabrication of the machinery by which the manufacture was car

ried on.

And, after all, how, or in what sense, is it true, that animals produce their like? A butterfly, with a proboscis instead of a mouth, with four wings and six legs, produces a hairy caterpillar, with jaws and teeth, and fourteen feet. A frog produces a tadpole. A black

beetle, with gauze wings, and a crusty covering, produces a white, smooth, soft worm; an ephemeron fly, a cod-bait maggot. These, by a progress through different stages of life, and action, and enjoyment (and, in each state, provided with implements and organs appropriated to the temporary nature which they bear), arrive at last at the form and fashion of the parent ani. mal. But all this is process, not principle; and proves, moreover, that the property of animated bodies, of producing their like, belongs to them, not as a primordial property, not by any blind necessity in the nature of things, but as the effect of economy, wisdom, and de. sign; because the property itself assumes diversities, and submits to deviations dictated by intelligible utilities, and serving distinct purposes of animal happiness.

The opinion, which would consider “generation” as a principle in nature; and which would assign this principle as the cause, or endeavour to satisfy our minds with such a cause, of the existence of organised bodies; is confuted, in my judgement, not only by every

mark of contrivance discoverable in those bodies, for which it gives us no contriver, offers no account whatever ; but also by the farther consideration, that things generated, possess a clear relation to things not generated. If it were merely one part of a generated body bearing a relation to another part of the same body; as the mouth of an animal to the throat, the throat to the stomach, the stomach to the intestines, those to the recruiting of the blood, and, by means of the blood, to the nourishment of the whole frame: or if it were only one generated body bearing a relation to another generated body; as the sexes of the same species to each other, animals of prey to their prey, herbivorous and granivorous animals to the plants or seeds upon which they feed; it might be contended,

« VorigeDoorgaan »