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designing cause. But this remains to be proved; and till this is done, it is contended, that it is just as well to repose in the imagination of Eternal Harmonies in a Universe, as of Eternal Harmonies in the mind of One who framed it. .
2. On this subject we have nothing to quote from Mirabaud, whose work on the System of Nature-though characterized more by its magniloquence than its magnificence, its plausibility than its power_is fitted by its gorgeous generalizations on nature and truth and the universe, to make tremendous impression on the unpractised reader.
There is a certain phraseology which has on some minds the effect of a sublime and seducing eloquence, while it excites in others a sensation of utter distaste as if absolutely oversatiated with vapidity and verbiage. This work is one of the products of Germany; and for upwards of fifty years has been well known in the Continent of Europe. Its circulation has been much extended of late by the infidel press of our own countrywhere it is, we understand, working mischief among the half-enlightened classes of British society. We know nothing of the history of its author. In real strength and staple of thought he is a mere sentimental weakling when compared with Hume, from whose Dialogues on Natural Religion we shall give one or two extracts on the argument now in question.
3. “ For aught we can know a priori, matter may contain the source or spring of order originally within itself as well as mind does; and there is no more difficulty in conceiving that the several ele
ments from an internal unknown cause may fall into the most exquisite arrangement, than to conceive that their ideas in the great universal mind from a like internal unknown cause fall into that arrangement. The equal possibility of both these
suppositions is allowed.” Again—“ If the ma• terial world rests upon a similar ideal world, this ideal world must rest upon some other; and so on without end. It were better therefore never to look beyond the present material world. By supposing it to contain the principle of its order within itself, we really assert it to be God; and the sooner we arrive at that divine Being so much the better. When you go one step beyond the mundane system, you only excite an inquisitive humour, which it is impossible ever to satisfy. To say that the different ideas which compose the reason of the Supreme fall into order of themselves and by their own nature, is really to talk without any precise meaning. If it has a meaning, I would fain know, why it is not as good sense to say, that the parts of the material world fall into order of themselves and by their own nature. Can the one opinion be intelligible while the other is not so ?”. Lastly—“An ideal system arranged of itself without a precedent design is not a whit more explicable than a material which attains its order in like manner; nor is there any more difficulty in the latter supposition than in the former.” “ A mental world or universe of ideas requires a cause as much, as does a material world or universe of objects; and if similar in its arrangement must require a similar cause.”
4. This is very distinctly put; and we think admits of as distinct and decisive a reply. The Atheist does not perceive why a material economy as exemplified in the world might not fall into order of itself, as well as a mental economy as exemplified in God. The precise difference between the two is, that we have had proof, as we shall attempt to show, of a commencement to our present material economy-we have had no such proof of a commencement to the mental economy which may have preceded it. There is room for the question, how came the material system of things into its present order ?--because we have reason to believe that it has not subsisted in that order from eternity. There is no such room for the question, why might not the material have fallen into its present order of itself, as well as the mental that is conceived to have gone before it ? We have no reason to believe that this mental economy ever was otherwise than it now is. The latter question presumes that the mental did fall into order of itself, or which is the same thing, that the Divinity had a commencement. In the material economy we have the vestiges before our eyes of its having had an origin, or in other words of its being a consequent—and we have furthermore the experience that in every instance which comes under full observation of a similar consequent, that is of a consequent which involved as the mundane order of things does so amply, the adaptation of parts to an end, the antecedent was a purposing mind which desired the end, and devised the means for its accomplishment. We might not have been called upon to make even a single ascent in the path of causation, had the world stood forth to view in the character or aspect of immutability. But instead of this, both history and observation tell of a definite commencement to the present order—or, in other words, they oblige us to regard this order as the posterior term of a sequence; and we, in reasoning on the prior term, just follow the lights of experience when we move upward from the world to an intelligent mind that ordained it. It is this which carries us backward one step from the world to God—and the reason why we do not continue the retrogression beyond God is, that we have not met with an indication of his having had a commencement. In the one case there is a beginning of the present material system forced upon our convictions; and we proceed on the solid ground of experience, when we infer that it begun in the devisings of an antecedent mind. In the other case, the case of the antecedent mind, there is no such beginning forced upon our convictions; and none therefore that we are called upon to account for. It is our part as far as in us lies to explain an ascertained difficulty; but not surely to explain an imagined one. We must have some reason for believing in the existence of a difficulty ere we are called upon to solve it. We have ample reason for regarding this world as a posterior term, and seeking after its antecedent. But we have no such reason for treating this antecedent as a posterior term, and seeking for its prior term in a higher antecedent. The one we see to be a changeable and a recent world. The other for aught we know may be an unchangeable and everlasting God. So that when the question is put - Why may not the material economy fall into order of itself, as well as the mental which we affirm to have caused it ?-our reply is, that so far from this mental economy falling into order of itself, we have yet to learn that it ever had to fall into order at all. The one order, the material, we know, not to have been from everlasting. The other, the mental, which by all experience and analogy must have preceded the material, bears no symptom which we can discover, of its ever having required any remoter economy to call it into being.
5. At the same time we must admit that on this question between the eternity of matter and the eternity of mind, there has been advanced, on the Theistical side of the controversy, a deal of speculation and argument with which our understandings do not at all coalesce. We have already stated the reasons of our having no confidence in the a priori argument—although both Sir Isaac Newton and Dr. Samuel Clarke were employed, we believe, in the construction of it. But besides this, there is a world of not very certain metaphysique we do think, about the necessity of mind to originate motion in the universe—and that were there nought but matter all space would be alike filled with it, and all would be inert and immoveable. We have already given one specimen of this gratuitous style of arguing from Wollaston-and without offering any more from other writers of that period, we may state that in the general we feel no sympathy