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there appeared the pigmies of what may be called a second-rate philosophy, were wholly exempted from it. In the days of proudest achievement and most colossal minds it was comparatively unknown
- and so far from feeling a disgrace or a descent in Christianity, the illustrious names of Newton and Locke and Bacon and Boyle stand all associated with the defence and illustration of it.
On the Strength of the Evidences for a God in the
Phenomena of Visible and External Nature.
1. We include among the phenomena of external nature whatever can be exposed to the observation of human eyes and therefore, the organization and mechanism of our own bodies. There is distinct and additional evidence for a God—and that too, we think, the strongest and most influential of any, grounded on a phenomenon purely mental, and so coming under the dominion of consciousness alone. This we shall advert to afterwards—but meanwhile, we should like to offer a brief recapitulation of what we deem to be the strong points of the
Theistical argument, as far as it has yet been proceeded in ; that by means of a condensed view we may perceive distinctly wherein it is that the main force of the reasoning lies.
2. The first strong point of this argument is grounded on the distinction which we have already
endeavoured to make palpable between the laws of matter and the collocations of matter. In the reasoning for a God from the mere existence of matter; we certainly do not remark any strong point of argument whatever. And then, when this argument from the existence of matter is given up, there remains another obscure and indeterminable controversy about its properties, as to which of them may be essential, and which of them must have been communicated at the will and by the appointment of a devising and purposing and intelligent Being. Now so long as the argument tarries either at the existence or at the laws of matter, we do not think that we have yet come to any lucid or effective consideration upon the subject. We hold that at this part of the question the cause of Natural Theology has suffered from the confidence joined with the obscurity of those reasonings which have been made use of by its supporters; and that it were therefore a mighty service to the cause did we separate what in it is decisive and what in it is doubtful from each other.
3. 'They are the collocations, then, which form by far the most unequivocal tokens of a Divinity that the material world has to offer. We understand the term in a more comprehensive sense than that which is conveyed by its mere etymology. We mean not only that the parts of matter have been placed in right correspondence to each other ; but that these parts, so placed, have been rightly sized and rightly shaped, for some obviously beneficial end of the combination in question and moreover that forces of a right intensity and direc
tion have been made to meet together so as to be productive of some desirable result. The world is full of such collocations—and the strong circumstance is, that there is nothing in the yet ascertained laws of matter that could have given rise to them
-insomuch that if at this moment any of them were destroyed, there appears nothing in these laws which could possibly replace them. It is true, that in astronomy, the argument founded on these, is all the less impressive, that it requires but the concurrence of few independent circumstances to complete the astronomical system. Such a concurrence however is indispensable—and in virtue of this it is, that the planetarium has been so exquisitely formed as never to deviate far from a mean state, but only to oscillate a little way on either side of it-else the system would have contained within itself the elements of its own destruction. It marks what the atheistical tendency is, that La Place should have ascribed this beautiful result to a law, and not to the collocations. He seems to have felt throughout his reasonings, wherein it was that the plausibility of atheism chiefly lay. But this also carries in it an intimation to us, wherein it is that the main strength lies of the argument for a Divinity. No doubt, the law is indispensable, and enters as one element into the calculation. But we have already noticed that the collocations are equally indispensable ; and they enter as other elements into the calculation. So that if ever a time was when these collocations were not, if the present order of the heavens have had a commencement,--there seems nothing in
any of the discovered laws or forces of matter which could have originated them. They seem only referable to the fiat and finger of a God.
4. But the argument gathers prodigiously in strength, when we descend from the celestial to the terrestrial collocations of things; from the contingencies which meet together in the formation of an astronomical, to those which meet together in the formation of an anatomical system; from the simple mechanism of the heavens into which so few simplicities are required to enter, to those complex organic mechanisms which require such a prodigiously varied and manifold combination. Could we but demonstrate a commencement for them, then the argument rises to almost the force of infinity for a God. And it seems impossible to escape from the belief of such a commencement, whatever opinion we may entertain as to the authority of the professed historical vouchers for the historical fact of a creation. If that authority be deferred to, then there is no practical need, at least, for any further reasoning on the subject. But if, on the other hand, it be set aside, as has been done by many on the strength of certain geological theories, then our argument is complete if in these very theories, there be the palpable proofs of a commencement to the present order of things. This is what we have endeavoured to demonstrate_not that we have any distrust in the authority of Moses as an historian-but that we hold it right to show as it were all the sides of our argument, and that all round it is impregnablecapable, therefore, of being shaped to every variety
of speculation, and of gaining proselytes to its high cause from the disciples of all the sciences.
5. Now the most essential stepping-stone of this argument is a doctrine that has become the almost universal creed of naturalists—that there is no spontaneous generation, at least in reference to the vast majority of known species; to which we superadd the equally admitted doctrine that there is no transmutation of the species. It is now upwards of a century since the evidence of the former became so palpable, as to constitute it into an article of philosophical belief—and the advocates of Theism in that day, were not blind to the importance of it. We will find it, and deservedly, the subject of gratulation and triumph to Bentley and others. It goes to establish an impassable barrier between the physiological on the one hand, and the chemical or the mechanical on the otherinsomuch that we have never distinctly made out of all the processes in chemistry, or of all the principles and powers in natural philosophy, that they even approximate to the formation of an organic being, at least of an organic being which has the property of self-transmission. Of almost all our living races it may be said that we do not perceive so much as a rudimental or abortive tendency to it—whereas, had there been an equivocal generation, and had our present animal and vegetable races originated in such a lucky combination as favoured their complete development, we should for one instance that succeeded have witnessed a thousand frustrated in the progressall nature teeming, as it were with abortions innumerable ; and for each