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worth the reading of every student, as a deep exercise for the mind. I surmount the difficulty which Berkeley has raised, by perceiving, that, thongh our knowledge of matter is ideal, there could have been no idea without the previous existence of the matter to form it. Berkeley concluded, that an idea was the basis of our knowledge of malter. I conclude, that matter is the necessary foundation of the idea : and that imagination cannot exist until ideas or mind has been once formed by observations on matter.
Still, we have no general definition of matter and can only speak of it under certain identities, certain states and qualities. And here, taking all that we know of it, we find that it has motive powers. You contradict yourself in this paragraph on this head.
You tell us, first,“ that it has no power to move itself;" and second, that “the particles of some kinds of matter AssUME regular geometrical figures : that every particle of matter appears to have a certain equal degree of attractive force which it exerts upon every other particle of matter ; and we have seen how this simple principle has accounted, not only for the fall of bodies, for the maintenance of the mechanical equilibrium; but also for the planetary motions and the multiplied phenomena of the universe." What more do we want, to find matter the sole being, and to find also, that it has inherent motive powers? The attraction which you speak of is now well understood to be an interchange of Auids among the more solid bodies. You support the conclusion, though you do not appear to see it, when you say :-" It is owing to a species of attraction, that bodies preserve their form, and that the particles of some kinds of matter assume regular geometrical figures." Every body of matter has the power to decompose certain other compounds, to apply to its own nutrition that which is nutritive and to expel that which is not nutritive. That which nourishes one body destroys another, and thus there is a regular interchange of fluids among all contiguous bodies. This point is well explained in my “ Observations on Dr. Gregory's Letters to a Friend,” &c. upon the principle that every solid body keeps up its distinct fluid atmosphere.
Attraction, as a word, is a mere cover for our ignorance of certain actions in matter. You confess ignorance of its nature. Since then you are not skilled in the phenomena of matter, why seek a greater phenomenon as a cause? When you can explain whatever is now a phenomenon in matter and can find the neces. sity of such a being as your god, then will be the time for specu. lations upon it. As it is, ali ideas of god are the consequence of ignorance, as have been all ideas of devils, spirits, witches, fairies, &c. The ignorance as to fairies, witches, and spirits is almost removed in this country, and even the devil is allowed but a questionable existence, while formerly there existed as po
sitive a knowledge of these phantoms of the imagination as you now have of that of the god." Religion and ignorance are synonimous words. Infidelity and free enquiry are as synonymous, Each grows out of the other. When electricity began to be unfolded, Jupiter Tonans vanished. The paper kite of Franklin annihilated the god. So a strength of mind, that can attack your dogmas and prejudices and unravel your erroneous conclusions, must inevitably annihilate your god, that is, your imagination of a god. What does exist is open to the discernment of all men. We have no dispute about objects that are tangible; and disputes about metaphysical objects are what the Scottish Blacksmith correctly described them, subjects for dispute about which the two parties know nothing. Among chemists, there may exist some little differences as to the precise quantities of the ingredients of a compound : but they approach so near to each other, that there is evident veracity, attributing the variances to a variance in the circumstances under which the analyses were made; but in metaphysics, all is dogma without experiment and imagination withont object to rest upon: all is error.
Caloric is another indefinite word and relates not to an element of matter. You give it great powers, and, in your fourth
para; graph, say, that: “ if attraction were to act without being opposed by caloric, all bodies would shrink up into one mere mass ; if, on the other hand, caloric were to prevail, the forms of bodies would be immediately destroyed.” If I understand the case rightly, caloric is nothing more than a property.or quality of matter generated by the friction of two bodies. It is the common and all pervading electricity, which the universal motion and con, sequent friction of matter produces. Caloric is therefore the consequent of what you call attraction, and the one cannot be unaccompanied with the other. So, we want not your god here to maintain the equilibrium between them.
Admitting, for the sake of argument, the propriety of your use of the words, you may perceive on further examination, that caloric cannot be but by the previous principle of attraction and that attraction cannot be without the accompaniment of caloric. The flint and the steel without friction will not produce caloric. They are merely the most convenient substances wherewith to produce it. Your third paragraph has been divested of the necessity of your god to produce motion and your fourth of the consequences, but for the superintendance of that god, which would result from an excess of either attraction or caloric.
Before we dismiss these two paragraphs, it may be well to say a few more words about the motions of matter. You have told us, that "it has no power to move itself, or, when moved, by the application of external force, to stop, or'even to alter the direction of that motion.” We have not your proofs before us, nor can I suppose that
have exhibited any. It is a mere theory
raised to make a god necessary. , All motion as to velocity or extent is in ratio with the force applied and medium through which the moving body passes. Every medium is more or less a resisting medium and therefore the direction of motion is dependent upon the resistance of the medium.
There are different kinds of motion. A bird shall be on the wing in full motion, while its body is progressing with all its internal motions. A man walks, runs, or gallops on horseback, as one kind of motion, while the circulation of his blood and other fuids retain their motions. So it is with every other substance. There is an internal motion distinct from any that may be communicated externally, and this internal motion refutes your theory of any general itsitness or passiveness in matter. The great error of philosophers is in generalizing a variety of properties that are bounded by their relations to other properties. These relations are so extensive, that positiveness, or dogma, is scarcely any where free from the liability to contradiction. A dozen different kinds of motion might be going on in the same body, each in some measure affecting the other, while no one of them can be reduced to any definite description. We can define something of the identities of matter ; but nothing of motion as a quality separate from it. In a general sense, matter and motion are rid. dles or a riddle, open to the solution of any person who can solve it. · But to seek a god, as a creator and upholder of matter and motion, is but to seek a greater riddle than the one which we have not yet solved. It can neither be wise nor honest to do so.
In your fifth paragraph, you explain, that all that we know of matter is in a succession and change, the same elements ever active, ever in motion, first, in forming a body, then in destroying it. You condense the circumstance correctly under the simile of pulling down a house and building another with the same materials. Did your intelligent God exist, he might wisely save us from all this pain and turmoil. This perpetual building and destroying, in relation to intelligence, is a child's play; but as we find it a property of matter, and ourselves identified with it, it is wise on our parts to bear it with patience and fortitude, and to extract the greatest possible amount of pleasure from such a state of things. If the argument on your side be that this succession of animals and vegetables is essential to the support of man, it is to be met with the anewer that every other animal may put in the same claim, and the vegetable rejoin that animals are essential to the support of its existence. It is clearly an undesigned state of things, out of which, each, in the midst of evils, extracts all possible good. The sheep or ox was no more designed for the use of man, than man for the lion, tiger, or orner more powerful carnivorous animal. . All that we see of matter is, that its motions form a state of conflict, under which the weakest identity is first
destroyed. If this be divine wisdom, it would not do to be copied as the moral law of mankind.
That there is something wonderful in the formation of animals and vegetables, I grant; but I also grant, that that wonder is my ignorance. In your fifth paragraph, you treat of organized bodies and say, there are " thousands of organized bodies, sporting, pursuing, or avoiding each other in a single drop of water, each of which would be more than sufficient to confound all the Atheists in the world.” In relation to every theory that. I have seen of an intelligent God, I am an Atheist; but I am not confounded at the animated state of a drop of water. It forms 'my encouragement, not my confusion. It accounts to me for the production of animals. It shows to me, that the hydrogen and oxygen gases, which form water; by uniting with carbon and azote, form vegetables and animals, and that water may be considered the parent both of animals and vegetables.' 'Notwithstanding all your unnecessary inferences about a creating, intelligent God, your pamphlet, to the critical mind, forms as good an Atheistical essay as I have read. Man cannot seek knowledge without approaching to Atheism. It is the first point from which hé can begin to reason rightly, or free from an erroneous foundation. It is the first point at which an enlightened sincerity of mind displays itself. It is the point at which man is humble enough to confess his real ignorance, and from which he starts fairly in the pursuit of knowledge, free from the shackles of superstitious dogmas.
If I find a seed capable of producing a tree, and the tree capable of producing new seeds, the circumstance is tantamount to original production, and the first of each kind can be without difficulty referred to a peculiar combination of portions of the gases or elements, though proof or fact cannot be produced; because the point is too minute for human research. But because this point is too minute for human research, am I, or are you, justified in fixing determinately the point, or time, or precise power of its production ? Is it not better that we confess ignorance, àod feel a pride that we have knowledge enough to confess ignorance, in preference to a holding to' superstitious dogmas upon the subject ?
After noticing a few of the remarkable effects of organization in animals, their differences and distinct characters, you describe the elements of all as but' four, and say, '“ nothing less than the ereative
power of omnipotence could add one atom to the mass, or annibilate the smallest particle of it.” Nor any power. Not even your omnipotent power. The elements of matter, as far as we know them, constitute that power which you call omnipotent, have no power but to act from that necessity which results from their qualities, and not from any thing like human design.
If we were to omit the following passages from your third and
fifth paragraphs, they would be purely Atheistical, and I beg you to examine, if the passages, which I am about to quote, form a proof of any thing but your use of improper words :-“ It is the attribute of omnipotence to accomplish the greatest of purposes by the simplest of means." The word omnipotence has no relative meaning.
“Every thing goes on with such regularity and harmony, as to give the most striking and convincing proofs of a combining, directing, Intelligence, of a present Deity." What is intelligence distinct from the life of an animal ? Is
God an animal ? “ The means for the propagation and preservation of the different species (of vegetables); and the checks which have been established to prevent any of them from exceeding certain bounds, essential to the well-being of the whole, abundantly manifest an order and design which can only be attributed to Infinite Wisdom.” The fact is, that the elements of matter can produce certain effects, and only certain effects. These are always the same, and this regularity, by no means designed or influenced by intelligent power, makes you attribute them to a power, that, if it existed, would be justly capricious and not regular in its effects. There are circumstances among mankind, wherein what we call the laws of nature may be wisely suspended; but we never find them so, and if a city with all its inhabitants is placed over an earthquake, they are destroyed without any compunctious sensations on the part of the destroyer. Is that destroyer your Infinite Wisdom? A storm arises at sea, ships are wrecked, human beings and other animals are drowned, under the most dreadful sensations ; but where is the protecting God? The elements of matter rage on and heed not the shrieks of the perishing animals. Storms on land produce the same disasters, and the very clergyman who was angry with me, and told me that I merited a gaol, because he could not answer my Atheistical arguments, was soon after crushed in his bed through the effects of a storm. Where then is the Christian's Providence, beyond his own vain imagination ?
“ The wood-pigeon was never seen to build its nest like the goldfinch, nor the goldfinch like the swallow ; these all uniformly accomplish the will of their Creator.” A very importaụt affair, certainly, for a being, who has a universe under his controul, to trouble himself about the form of a bird's nest! Ought we not rather to conclude that a bird is an intelligent animal, like man, and that it forms a nest the best suited to its comforts and conveniences ? A Tom-tit has too much sense to form a crow's nest, and a crow has too much sense to build a nest fit only for a Tom-tit. Still there is no directing power beyond the sagacity of the animal in pursuit of pleasure,
"Nothing less than the creative power of Omnipotence could add one atom ta the mass, or annihilate the smallest particle of