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LECTURES TO THE TIMES

ON

NATURAL THEOLOGY AND APOLOGETICS.

I.

THE ARGUMENT FROM DESIGN AS AFFECTED BY MODERN

DISCOVERIES IN SCIENCE. CONSERVATION OF FORCE. - STAR Dust. — PROTOPLASM. — ORIGIN OF LIFE.

MR.
R. J. S. MILL recommends those who would

establish the existence of God to stick to the argument from design. As it is lawful to learn wisdom from an opponent, I take his counsel ; and I stand by the evidence furnished by the order and adaptation in the universe. The a priori proof, so proudly advanced by the rationalists of the age now passing away, is not likely to meet with much acceptance in the time now present, when rationalism is being devoured by sensationalism, and the transcendental philosophy, with its much admired crystals, is melting away, — to give us, may I hope, something better, as much so as the buds and blossoms of spring are superior to the frost-work of winter.. The argument from design is that there are evidences everywhere, in heaven and earth, in plant and animal, of natural agents being so fitted to each other, and so combining to produce a beneficent end, as to show that intelligence must have been employed in co-ordinating and arranging them. When unfolded, it comprises a body of facts, and it involves a principle. The principle is that an effect implies a cause. The special consideration and defence of this law may be adjourned to a future lecture, when it will come up in more favorable circumstances to admit of a full discussion. In the first series of lectures in this course, we are invited to contemplate the phenomena and laws of the physical world, so far as they bear marks of being adapted to each other by a designing mind contemplating a good end.

The argument is one which commends itself to all minds, though it is put into shape only by the logician and the expounder of natural theology. The child finds the impression stealing in upon him, as he inspects the curious objects around him, the fir cone, the flower, the berry, the structure of his favorite animal, or those lights kindled nightly in the heavens, or as he is taught to connect these daily gifts with God the giver. The peasant, the savage, feels it, as he sees the grass and trees springing and growing and bearing seed, as he is led to observe the self-preserving instincts of the brute creatures, as he takes a passing survey of the wondrous provisions for maintaining life in his own frame, or finds himself furnished with food and clothing by very complicated arrangements of Providence.

Flowing spontaneously into the minds of all, the conviction will force itself into the innermost heart of the speculative unbeliever. "No one,” said David Hume, as he walked home one

ARGUMENT FROM DESIGN.

3

beautiful evening with a friend, “can look up to that sky without feeling that it must have been put in order by an intelligent being." " But who made all these things ? ” was the curt reply of Napoleon Bonaparte, who had been obliged to listen to the wretched sophistries of a set of French atheists, bred in the bloody revolutionary period, — " but who made all these things?” pointing to the heavens.

The argument is one and the same in all ages. * He that formed the eye, shall He not see?” is the way in which the Psalmist expresses it. Socrates is represented, in the "Memorabilia ” of Xenophon, as pointing to the traces of purpose in the eye, the ear, and the teeth, and to the care taken of every individual man in the Divine providence. Though the argument is identical, yet it takes different forms in different ages; one reason of which is to be found in the circumstance that the physical facts require to be differently stated as science opens to us new views of the nature of the universe. Balbus the Stoic, the representative of theism in Cicero's treatise "De Natura Deorum," drew a solid enough argument from the order of the heavenly bodies, though he assumed that the sun moved round the earth. Those living since the acceptance of the theory of Copernicus expound the facts in a more scientific manner, but not more conclusively, as bearing on the relation of God to his works. The Scriptures tell us that man cannot number the stars, but it has been found that he can count the stars seen by the naked eye; but the science which

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