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terials which compose the solar system, of which the globe we inhabit is a part?-If this be their meaning, then nature, according to their system, is nothing more nor less than an immense mass of simple and elementary substances, combining by mere accident, and producing without design, thought, or reflection, all that is wise and unerring in the order of the seasons, all that is lovely on the face of the globe, all the beautiful, all the admirable variety of enamelled flowers, all the wholesome fruits of the field, with all the vast armies of moving life which people every realm! Nor is this all ;-beings possessing the faculties of thought, reflection, will and memory, are likewise the production of an unthinking, an unreflecting and an unwilling cause! But reason would blush to admit that any cause ever produced an effect above itself, or that any effect ever existed independent of its cause.
Will the skeptic, to extricate himself from this absurdity, now assert that nature is intelligent? We deny the assertion, and demand the proof;-for what is nature, but the material system of things? And is matter intelligent? If so, then are stocks and stones, trees and plants, vegetables and minerals, of every description,-Nay, more; even dead and mouldering carcases are possessed of this noble and distinguishing property! Observation has long since demonstrated to our senses, with sufficient clearness, that nothing can afford the evidence of intelligence, which does not possess animal life. Whatever is destitute of intelligence, must, of necessity, be incapable of design. Matter, therefore, being destitute of this property, could not have produced the order of nature, nor designed the existence of a single form, in all the vegetable kingdom; much less the activity, sprightliness and intelligence, so visible through all the animal tribes of air and earth and seas. This position, therefore, is not only without proof, but it is absolutely unphilosophical, opposed to all tangible evidence, and falls little short of the grossest absurdity.
Matter is capable of being moulded into every variety of form, and the ingenuity of man has converted it to all the purposes of usefulness and convenience. But who ever dreamed that the artist was torturing intelligence,
when shaping his iron upon the anvil-melting the precious metals, or refining the silver and the gold by the application of fire? Who ever thought that the sculptor was inflicting misery upon the senseless marble and the passive block of wood, when plying his art, to please the eye and gratify the taste! And who would not blush to be found an advocate for such monstrous absurdities? Yet, the supposition that intelligence is an original and essential property of matter, necessarily involves this conclusion; since it is a well-known truth, that the amputation of the smallest parts of an animal form, or of a being possessing life or knowledge, is productive of those keen sensations of misery which always give birth to anxiety for the means of escaping whatever portends their danger of injury or pain. The hypothesis, therefore, that matter is necessarily possessed of intelligence, denotes a credulity and extravagance bordering upon madness.
Perhaps we may be told, that although matter is not absolutely intelligent, yet intelligence is the effect of a peculiar and happy organization of matter. This theory is by no means new, nor will it stand the test of logical investigation. It requires but a moment's reflection to discover that this proposition is a fair acknowledgment that intelligence is not coeval with matter, but the effect of a secondary cause : For it supposes first, the existence of matter; secondly, a peculiar organization, and thirdly, this organization produces an effect, which is intelligence: So that this wonderful proposition, of Atheistical pedigree, bears its illustrious inventor in unenviable triumph, to the following climax of absurdity-matter is active and unerring, though entirely passive and unintelligent! It has, without intelligence, produced the most astonishing effect, namely, a perfect system of organization, which indicates one of the profoundest designs of wisdom! And finally, that organization, though equally destitute of wisdom or knowledge, has produced all the intelligence which is displayed through the immensity of the heavens, and is inscribed on all the beauty and variety of this lower world !! The authors and disciples of this scheme, are therefore welcome to all the literary fame, and all the philosophical renown, which it is capable of yielding its primogenitors, and the whole train of its sapient foster-fathers.
Let us now bestow a moment's reflection upon the trite reply with which we are frequently furnished by our skeptical opponents, to the question, whence originated all the beautiful scenery of nature, the order and perfect regularity, the infinite variety and harmony of the universe? They tell us with much assurance, that they are all produced by the laws of nature. But what do they mean by the laws of nature-or by any laws? Do they not know that laws are the result of wisdom, of thought, reflection, calculation or design? And can there be design, without a designer? We have before shown that intelligence is not a property of matter;-from whence, then, emanated the design which has given birth to the laws of order? Certainly not from an unintelligent source, but from a Being of infinite and unerring wisdom. Skeptics often, when interrogated concerning the astonishing effects, which are every where visible throughout the world, and which infinitely surpass the limits of human agency to accomplish, reply, they are produced by the laws of nature:"-But what are the laws of nature, but plans of intelligence or the designs of a thinking and reflecting mind? and can laws, plans or designs execute themselves? Who does not know that effects are produced by power, and not by laws? Laws can do nothing more than mark out the order in which effects are to be accomplished in succession, by the application of physical or moral force. So that all this prating about the wonderful effects which are produced by the laws of nature, is nothing more than a senseless jargon of unintelligible non
Atheism has assumed still another form, and pleaded the absolute eternity of matter. But what authority have Atheists ever produced to prove this hypothesis? Will they pretend that history warrants such an assertion? They dare not do this; for they know that history plainly teaches the creation of the world. Will they assume it as a fact, that philosophy justifies such a conclusion? We reply, that philosophy is utterly incapable of determining the fact, since all the evidence that can have any direct bearing upon the subject, is derived from revelation, and lies not in the path of philosophical speculation. Philoso
phy is nothing more nor less than the knowledge of things, natural and moral, grounded upon human reason and experience:-And does reason teach us that gross particles of matter are intelligent and capable of designing all the beautiful order and harmony with which we are surrounded? And is there any thing in the experience of human beings which teaches them that matter is eternal, uncreated and independent ?—for it must be independent, if it be eternal! But who does not know that matter is so far subservient to human power and human ingenuity, as to be converted into every variety of form, and to every purpose of convenience? We have before shown that intelligence is not an original property of matter; and taken a passing notice of the hypothesis, that intelligence is the effect of organization: And although the gross absurdity and impossibility of this theory has been plainly pointed out, it may yet be useful to observe that the most obvious facts forbid its admission. For example: A shock of electric fluid will instantly extinguish animal life, without producing the slightest change of organic structure:-again; withhold a constant supply of atmospheric air from the lungs of any being, and it destroys animal life, while every organ remains unimpaired. And will any man have the madness and folly to contend that an animal possesses intelligence without life! The supposition is too preposterous, even to be named; and yet the atheistical scheme which we have noticed, involves this, with numerous other absurdities, equally repugnant to reason and philosophy.
There is one plea which has been urged in favor of the absolute eternity of matter, which we feel bound to notice, as considerable dependence has been placed upon what it supposes to be an undeniable fact. The advocates of this 'scheme assert, with great apparent triumph and assurance, that matter is indestructible; that it cannot be annihilated, or by any means made to cease or disappear. But we demand-how do our opponents know that matter is incapable of being destroyed? Have they any demonstrative proof of what they assert? Permit me, then, to tell them that this is a mere assumption, without any solid evidence for its support. Am I told in reply, that we cannot annihilate a sin
gle particle of matter; that when we decompose any material substance, it is only separated, so that each particle of its composition returns to its native element? This fact is readily admitted ;-but does this prove that matter cannot be destroyed? To show the weakness of this argument, let me ask in return, can we originate a single particle of matter? Can we create a spire of grass?And is it surprising that we are not furnished with the power to annihilate what we have no power to originate? Again-is the inability of man, who is the creature of a day, and every moment dependent on a higher power than he can boast, for every breath he draws, and for every pulsation of the heart, a sufficient evidence of the indestructibility of matter? No man who possesses any thing like a fair claim to the gift of reason, will venture to defend a proposition so absurd and extravagant.
I expect, my hearers, to be able to prove by fair and tangible evidence, that the globe, which we inhabit, had a beginning; and if it had a beginning, it is evident to reason, that the same power which gave it being, can destroy and strike it out of existence.
I am aware that some professors of christianity have admitted, yea, even contended for the eternity of matter : But, my friends, they know not whereof they affirm, or else they are Atheists in disguise.-For how is it possible for God to be the FIRST CAUSE of all things, while matter holds an existence coeval with himself? This theory is opposed to the plain letter of revelation, which teaches us that the Deity "created all things; and for his pleasure they are and were created ” It was advanced and defended by Spinoza, a Dutch atheistical philosopher, of the seventeenth century, and has found its way into nearly all the systems of modern infidelity.
I would now invite your attention to a few of the leading and direct evidences of the existence of a divine, omnipotent and infinitely intelligent FIRST CAUSE; whom we call Gop, and who is held up to view as the only proper object of our highest veneration and praise; the Author of all worlds and all beings. In doing this it is proper to premise, that whatever had a beginning, must have had an author: for nothing could be more repugnant to reason,