« IndietroContinua »
but they are men of bad lives, and subverters even of the moral precepts of the heathens.
Men of this description always have erred, and still continue to confuse themselves, in thinking of the beginning of God, for in thinking of God, they have thought of him agreeably to the powers with which they were endowed, which are only finite and created; whereas God is infinite and uncreated; and exceeds, infinitely exceeds, every idea of the human mind, as to his being and perfections. Consequently, those who endeavour to form ideas of God, as to his essence, think from what is finite and created, which involves a beginning, but which cannot be so respecting God. Thus they are confused in thinking concerning the divine essence, or Jehovah, who had no beginning: for he is self-essent, selfexistent, infinite, eternal and uncreated; unsearchable, incomprehensible! And thus, because by the exertion of their finite powers, they have not been capable of comprehending infinity, and a beginning; they have from the pride of their self-derived intelligence, concluded that there is no God.
In the Bible, a beginning is introduced, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth:" but it should be remembered, that this passage refers only to the origin of this world. The same sacred pages inform us, that when this world was created, other creations were in existence. 'Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth ? declare, if thou hast understanding. When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.' When these men view this world, which without variation performs its revolutions, and consider by what power those immense bodies, the planets, one of which is ascertained to be a thousand times larger than the earth, are supported in space, on what base the pillars of our world are fixed, or to speak agreeably to literal truth, by what power it moves in its orbit round the sun, to describe the various seasons of the year: they must be convinced, that the Omnipotent only could create these mighty orbs, suspend them in space, and by his fiat, cause them to perform their various revolutions.
But if we turn our attention from the solar system to the region of the fixed stars, vain is the attempt to form any accurate idea concerning them. The utmost stretch of thought is lost in the vast void of infinite space! for though they are perfectly visible to us, yet we know nothing concerning their distances from the earth: this we can easily demonstrate in the following manner. According to experience, the nearer we approach an object, the greater its magnitude will appear, but this rule fails in the present case. The diameter of the earth's orbit is known to be about two hundred millions of miles, and if the altitude of the north pole star be taken when the earth is at its aphelion, or in that part of its orbit which is farthest from the sun: and if the altitude be again taken when the earth is at its perihelion, or in that part of its orbit where it is nearest the sun, it will be found to have no parallax. Though the earth is two hundred millions of miles- nearer the same star at one time of the year, than it is at the other, it makes no sensible difference as to the apparent magnitude, or altitude of the star; even with the aid of the most powerful telescopes, it still appears only as a point. The answer of the psalmisr to such sceptics as these, was, and still remains, conclusive: "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy work."
But if these men were to consider the astonishing order of their own frame, they must necessarily be convinced, that blind chance could not produce such a work. The psalmist was fully sensible of this, when he said, "I will praise thee, OLord, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." From which declaration we may conclude, that he was well acquainted, both with the construction of the body, and the nature of the soul, and from thence concluded, that man, as well as all creation, was the work of infinite wisdom.
Can any of these men, who affect singularity by pretending to be atheists, inform us, by what wonderful mechanism the thought falls into the speech, and the will into the action, why we cannot speak without thinking, nor act without an order from the superior chamber of the will! why the seat of the understanding should bein that part of the brain, in the cerebrum extending to the osfrontis, or forepart of the head, and which may be trepanned, or in part cut away, without injuring the intellectual faculty? or why the other hemisphere of the brain should be seated in the occiput, or back part of the head, where the fountain of life is so delicate and sensible, that if it were only touched with the point of a needle, it would produce instant death? why this external part of the head, which is the most defenceless, should be formed double the thickness of any other part, unless infinite wisdom had so framed it to preserve the brain from injury?
If we take a cursory view of the anatomy of man, how is it possible for the professor of Atheism to suppose, that nature, or chance, could assign the different and mutual offices to each part of the body? cause the heart by its perpetual labour, to throw the blood through the pulmonary artery, to meet the oxygen? ordain it to perform the first and last action? which is known from the state of an infant in the embryo, and from this circumstance, that when the lungs have ceased to act, the heart still continues its motion, as is the case with persons in a drowning or dying state.
Let such men, who pretend to a superior degree of knowledge, inform us, how chance could ordain the liver and kidnies to perform their secretions, and by the action of digestion, form the chyle for the production of blood? Were they to acquaint themselves with the functions of the organs of sense, they must be convinced, that such perfections could not be produced by that phantom of the imagination, chance. When we consider the wonderful properties of the eye, how the figures of external objects are painted on the retina, where the mind sees them in perfection; how the muscles, by means of the nervous influence, elevate, depress and point it to the object; its power of receiving the light necessary, and of excluding it when too strong, by contracting the pupil; the peculiar properties of the chrystaline humor, which receives all the rays from outward objects, and represents them on the retina; the membrane which contracts and opens in order to vary its focus: I say, when we consider the wonderful structure of the eye for its most valuable uses in life, it must be evident, to every rational man, that it cannot be the result of indiscriminating chance, but must be the contrivance of infinite wisdom.
Every sense is as wonderful; the organ of feeling is so constructed, that the nerves extend to every minute part of the surface of the body, insomuch, that the point of a needle, applied to any part, comes in contact with a nerve, which conveys the sense to the brain. By this sense, we are enabled to form just conclusions concerning the qualities of bodieft, as Hard, soft, moist, dry; of heat and cold.
The sense of smelling is no less useful, than the construction of its organ is wonderful. Itis-so formed as to be affected with the odours of bodies, and conveys them to the brain, by which we are enabled to form right notions respecting their properties and uses. There is also placed at the extreme end of the olfactory nerves, the Ethmoides, a sieve-like bone, with small holes, through which the filaments of the nerves pass, the office of which is, to distribute the nerves upon a membrane, wherein the organ of smell is seated; as well as to prevent the effluvia of odoriferous bodies, from acting with too much power upon the sensorium: which would have been the case, had it been carried through one hole only.
Taste appears to have been designed to stimulate animated nature, to support existence, from the pleasure there is in taking food. By this, we distinguish the various changes of sweet, bitter, .salt, sour; but how these properties of the tongue and palate, which are excited by the nervous papillae, exist in their origin, it is not possible for man to determine.
We know, that when the air, or atmosphere is put in motion, it strikes upon the tympanum, and passing to the auditory nerve, conveys sounds to the brain, so as to enable the understanding to form a judgment concerning what is intended to be conveyed to the mind: but it is not possible for these men to say, how chance or a nonentity should have been so provident, as to form that exquisite sensation in the tympanum, which, when the atmosphere is put in motion, rolls on that delicate membrane, and then by the nerve conducts it to the seat of the understanding. Nay, it is not possible for them to believe, though they may for the sake of singularity profess it, that the phantom which they call nature, or chance,