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Origin and Frame of the World..
The Third and Last PART.
The Eighth SERMON Preached
December 5. 1692.
Acts XIV. 15, &c.
That ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, who made Heaven and Earth and the Sea, and all things that are therein: Who in times past suffer'd all Nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless, he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us Rain from Heaven, and fruitful Seasons, filling our hearts with Food and Gladness.
HAVING abundantly proved in our Last Exercise, That the Frame of the present World could neither be made 294nor preserved without the Power of God; we than now consider the structure and motions of our own System, if any characters of Divine Wisdom and Goodness may be discoverable by us. And even at the first and general View it very evidently appears to us (which is our FOURTH and Last Proposition,) That the Order and Beauty of the Systematical Parts of the World, the Discernible Ends and Final Causes of them, the τὸ βελτίον or Meliority above what was necessary to be, do evince by a reflex Argument, that it could not be produced by Mechanism or Chance, but by an Intelligent and Benign Agent, that by his excellent Wisdom made the Heavens.
But before we engage in this Disquisition, we must offer one necessary Caution; that we need not nor do not confine and determin the purposes of God creating all Mundane Bodies, merely to Human Ends and Uses. Not that we believe it laborious and painful to Omnipotence to create a World out of Nothing; or more laborious to create a great World, than a small one: so as we might think it disagreeable to the Majesty 295and Tranquillity of the Divine Nature to take so much pains for our sakes. Nor do we count it any absurdity, that such a vast and immense Universe should be made for the sole use of such mean and unworthy Creatures as the Children of Men. For if we consider the Dignity of an Intelligent Being, and put that in the scales against brute inanimate Matter; we may affirm, without over-valuing Human Nature, that the Soul of one vertuous and religious Man is of greater worth and excellency than the Sun and his Planets and all the Stars in the World. If therefore it could appear, that all the Mundane Bodies are some way conducible to the service of Man; if all were as beneficial to us, as the Polar Stars were formerly for Navigation as the Moon is for the flowing and ebbing of Tides, by which an inestimable advantage accrues to the World; for her officious Courtesy in long Winter Nights, especially to the more Northern Nations, who in a continual Night it may be of a whole month are so pretty well accommodated by the Light of the Moon reflected from frozen Snow, that they do not much envy their Antipodes a 296month’s presence of the Sun: if all the Heavenly Bodies were thus serviceable to us, we should not be backward to assign their usefulness to Mankind, as the sole end of their Creation. But we dare not undertake to shew, what advantage is brought to Us by those innumerable Stars in the Galaxy and other parts of the Firmament, not discernible by naked eyes, and yet each many thousand times bigger than the whole body of the Earth: If you say, they beget in us a great Idea and Veneration of the mighty Author and Governour of such stupendous Bodies, and excite and elevate our minds to his adoration and praise; you say very truly and well. But would it not raise in us a higher apprehension of the infinite Majesty and boundless Beneficence of God, to suppose that those remote and vast Bodies were formed, not merely upon Our account to be peept at through an Optic Glass, but for different ends and nobler purposes? And yet who will deny, but that there are great multitudes of lucid Stars even beyond the reach of the best Telescopes; and that every visible Star may have opake Planets revolve about them, 297which we cannot discover? Now if they were not created for Our sakes; it is certain and evident, that they were nor made for their own. For Matter hath no life nor perception, is not conscious of its own existence, nor capable of happiness, nor gives the Sacrifice of Praise and Worship to the Author of its Being. It remains therefore, that all Bodies were formed for the sake of Intelligent Minds: and as the Earth was principally designed for the Being and Service and Contemplation of Men; why may not all other Planets be created for the like Uses, each for their own Inhabitants which have Life and understanding? If any man will indulge himself in this Speculation, he need not quarrel with revealed Religion upon such an account. The Holy Scriptures do not forbid him to suppose as great a Multitude of Systems and as much inhabited, as he pleases. ’Tis true; there is no mention in Moses’s Narrative of the Creation, of any People in other Planets. But it plainly appears, that the Sacred Historian doth only treat of the Origins of Terrestrial Animals: he hath given us no account of God's creating the Angels; 298and yet the same Author, in the ensuing parts of the Pentateuch, makes not unfrequent mention of the Angels of God. Neither need we be sollicitous about the condition of those Planetary People, nor raise frivolous Disputes, how far they may participate in the Miseries of Adam's Fall, or in the benefits of Christ’s incarnation. As if, because they are supposed to be Rational, they must needs be concluded to be Men? For what is Man? not a Reasonable Animal merely, for that is not an adequate and distinguishing Definition; but a Rational Mind of such particular Faculties, united to an Organical Body of such a certain Structure and Form, in such peculiar Laws of Connexion between the Operations and Affections of the Mind and the Motions of the Body. Now God Almighty by the inexhausted fecundity of his creative Power may have made innumerable Orders and Classes of Rational Minds; some in their natural perfections higher than Human Souls, others inferior. But a Mind of superior or meaner capacities than Human would constitute a different species though united to a Human 299Body in the fame Laws of Connexion: and a Mind of Human Capacities would make another Species, if united to a different Body in different Laws of Connexion. For this Sympathetical Union of a Rational Soul with Matter, so as to produce a Vital communication between them, is an arbitrary institution of the Divine Wisdom: there is no reason nor foundation in the separate natures of either substance, why any Motion in the Body should produce any Sensation at all in the Soul; or why This motion should produce That particular Sensation, rather than any other. God therefore may have join’d immaterial Souls, even of the same Class and Capacities in their separate State, to other kind of Bodies and in other Laws of Union; and from those different Laws of Union there will arise quite different affections and natures and species of the compound Beings. So that we ought not upon any account to conclude, that if there be Rational Inhabitants in the Moon or Mars or any unknown Planets of other Systems, they must therefore have Human Nature, or be involved in the Circumstances of Our World. And thus much 300was necessary to be here inculcated (which will obviate and preclude the most considerable objections of our Adversaries) that we do not determine the Final Causes and Usefulness of the Systematical parts of the World, merely as they have respect to the Exigencies or Conveniencies of Human Life.
Let us now turn our thoughts and imaginations to the Frame of our System, if there we may trace any visible footsteps of Divine Wisdom and Beneficence. But we are all liable to many mistakes by the prejudices of Childhood and Youth, which few of us ever correct by a serious scrutiny in our riper years, and a Contemplation of the Phænomena of Nature in their Causes and Beginnings. What we have always seen to be done in one constant and uniform manner; we are apt to imagin there was but that one way of doing it, and it could not be otherwise. This is a great error and impediment in a disquisition of this nature: to remedy which, we ought to consider every thing as not yet in Being; and then diligently examin, if it must needs have been at all, or what other ways it might have 301been as possibly as the present; and if We find a greater Good and Utility in the present constitution, than would have accrued either from the total Privation of it, or from other frames and structures that might as possibly have been as It: we may then reasonably conclude, that the present constitution proceded, neither from the necessity of material Causes, nor the blind shuffles of an imaginary Chance, but from an intelligent and Good Being, that formed it that particular way out of choice and design. And especially if this Usefulness be conspicuous not in one or a few instances only, but in a long train and series of Things, this will give us a firm and infallible assurance, that we have not pass’d a wrong Judgment.
I. Let us procede therefore by this excellent Rule in the contemplation of Our System. ’Tis evident that all the Planets receive Heat and Light from the body of the Sun. Our own Earth in particular would be barren and desolate, a dead dark lump of Clay, without the benign influence of the Solar Rayes; which without question is true of all the 302other Planets. It is good therefore, that there should be a Sun, to warm and cherish the Seeds of Plants, and excite them to Vegetation; to impart an uninterrupted Light to all parts of his System for the Subsistence of Animals. But how came the Sun to be Luminous? not from the necessity of natural Causes, or the constitution of the Heavens. All the Planets might have moved about him in the same Orbs and the same degrees of Velocity as now; and yet the Sun might have been an opake and cold Body like Them. For as the six Primary Planets revolve about Him, so the Secondary ones are moved about Them, the Moon about the Earth, the Satellites about Juppiter. and others about Saturn; the one as regularly as the other, in the same Sesquialteral proportion of the times of their Periodical Revolutions to the Semidiameters of their Orbs. So that, though we suppose the preterit Existence and Conservation of the System, yet the Sun might have been a Body without Light or Heat, of the same kind with the Earth and Juppiter and Saturn. But then what horrid darkness and desolation must have reign’d in the 303World? It had been unfit for the Divine purposes in creating vegetable and sensitive and rational Creatures. It was therefore the contrivance and choice of a Wise and Good Being; that the Central Sun should be a Lucid Body, to communicate warmth and light and life to the Planets around him.
II. We have shewed in our Last, that the concentric Revolutions of the Planets about the Sun procede from a compound Motion; a Gravitation towards the Sun, which is a constant Energy infused into Matter by the Author of all things, and a projected transverse Impulse in Tangents to their several Orbs, that was impress’d at first by the Divine Arm, and will carry them around till the end of the World. But now admitting that Gravity may be essential to Matter; and that a transverse Impulse might be acquired too by Natural Causes, yet to make all the Planets move about the Sun in circular Orbs; there must be given to each a determinate Impulse, these present particular degrees of Velocity which they now have, in proportion to their Distances from the Sun and to the quantity of the Solar Matter. 304For had the Velocities of the several Planets been greater or less than they are now, at the same distances from the Sun; or had their 194194 Newton Phil. Natur. Princip. Math.Distances from the Sun, or the quantity of the Sun’s Matter and consequently his Attractive Power been greater or less than they are now, with the same Velocities: they would not have revolved in concentric Circles as they do, but have moved in Hyperbola’s or in Ellipses very Eccentric, The same may be said of the Velocities of the Secondary Planets with respect to their Distances from the Centers of Their Orbs, and to the Quantities of the Matter of those Central Bodies, Now that all there Distances and Motions and Quantities of Matter should be so accurately and harmoniously adjusted in this great Variety of our System, is above the fortuitous Hits of blind material Causes, and must certainly flow from that eternal Fountain of Wisdom, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, who 195195 Ὁ θεὸς ἀεὶ γεωμετρεῖ. Plat.always acts Geometrically, by just and adequate numbers and weights and measures. And let us 305examin it further by our Critical Rule: Are the present Revolutions in circular Orbs more beneficial, than the other would be? If the Planets had Moved in those Lines above named; sometimes they would have approached to the Sun as near as the Orb of Mercury, and sometimes have exorbitated beyond the distance of Saturn; and some have quite left the Sun without ever returning. Now the very constitution of a Planet would be corrupted and destroyed by such a change of the Interval between it and the Sun: no living thing could have endured such unspeakable excesses of Heat and Cold: all the Animals of our Earth must inevitably have perished, or rather never have been. 196196 Gen. 1.So that as sure as it good, very good, that Human Nature should exist; so certain it is that the circular Revolutions of the Earth (and Planets) rather than those other Motions which might as possibly have been, do declare not only the Power of God, but his Wisdon and Goodness.
III. It is manifest by our last Discourse, that the Æthereal Spaces are perfectly 306fluid; they neither assist nor retard, neither guide nor divert the Revolutions of the Planets; which rowl through those Regions as free and unresisted, as if they moved in a vacuum. So that any of them might as possibly have moved _in opposite Courses to the present, and in Planes crossing the Plane of the Ecliptic in any kind of Angles. Now if the System had been fortuitously formed by the convening Matter of a Chaos; how is it conceivable, that all the Planets both Primary and Secondary, should revolve tie fame Way from the West to the East, and that in the same Plane too without any considerable variation? No natural and necessary Cause could so determin their motions; and ’tis millions of millions odds to an unit in such a Cast of Chance. Such an apt and regular Harmony, such an admirable Order and Beauty must deservedly be ascribed to Divine Art and Conduct. Especially if we consider, that the smallest Planets are situated nearest the Sun and each other; whereas Juppiter and Saturn, that are vastly greater than the rest and have many Satellites about them, are wisely removed to the extreme Regions of the 307System, and placed at an immense Distance one from the other. For even now at this wide interval they are observed in their Conjunctions to disturb one anothers motions a little by their gravitating Powers: but if such vast Masses of Matter had been situated much nearer to the Sun or to each other (as they might as easily have been, for any mechanical or fortuitous Agent) they must necessarily have caused a considerable disturbance and disorder in the whole System.
IV. But let us consider the particular Situation of our Earth and its distance from the Sun. It is now placed so conveniently, that Plants thrive and flourish in it, and Animals live: this is matter of fact, and beyond all dispute. But how came it to pass at the beginning, that the Earth moved in its present Orb? We have shown before, that if Gravity and a Projected Motion be fitly proportion’d, any Planet would freely revolve at any assignable distance within the Space of the whole System. Was it mere Chance then, or Divine Counsel and Choice, that constituted the Earth in its present Situation? To know this; 308we will enquire, if this particular Distance from the Sun be better for our Earth and its Creatures, than a greater or less would have been. We may be mathematically certain, That the Heat of the Sun is according to the density of the Sun beams, and is reciprocally proportional to the square of the distance from the Body of the Sun. 197197 Newton ibidem. p. 415.Now by this Calculation, suppose the Earth should be removed and placed nearer to the Sun, and revolve for instance in the Orbit of Mercury; there the whole Ocean would even boil with extremity of Heat, and be all exhaled into Vapors; all Plants and Animals would be scorched and consumed in that fiery Furnace. But suppose the Earth should be carried to the great Distance of Saturn; there the whole Globe would be one Frigid Zone, the deepest Seas under the very Equator would be frozen to the bottom; there would be no Life, no Germination; nor any thing that comes now under our knowledge or senses. It was much better therefore, that the Earth should move where it does, than in a much greater or less Interval from 309the Body of the Sun. And if you place it at any other Distance, either less or more than Saturn or Mercury; you will still alter it for the worse proportionally to the Change. It was situated therefore where it is, by the Wisdom of some voluntary Agent; and not by the blind motions of Fortune or Fate. If any one should think with himself, How then can any Animal at all live in Mercury and Saturn in such intense degrees of Heat and Cold? Let him only consider, that the Matter of each Planet may have a different density and texture and form, which will dispose and qualifie it to be acted on by greater or less degrees of Heat according to their several Situations; and that the Laws of Vegetation and Life and Sustenance and Propagation are the arbitrary pleasure of God, and may vary in all Planets according to the Divine Appointment and the Exigencies of Things, in manners incomprehensible to our Imaginations. ’Tis enough for our purpose to discern the tokens of Wisdom in the placing of our Earth; if its present constitution would be spoil’d and destroy'd, if we could not wear Flesh and Blood, if we 310could not have Human Nature at those different Distances.
V. We have all learnt from the Doctrine of the Sphere, that the Earth revolves with a double motion. For while it is carried around the Sun in the Orbis Magnus once a year, it perpetually wheels about its own Axis once in a day and a night: so that in 24 hours space it hath turn’d all the parts of the Equinoctial to the rayes of the Sun. Now the Uses of this vertiginous motion are very conspicuous; for this is it that gives Day and Night successively over the face of the whole Earth, and makes it habitable all around: without this Diurnal Rotation one Hemisphere would lie dead and torpid in perpetual Darkness and Frost, and the best part of the other would be burnt up and depopulated by so permanent a Heat. It is better therefore, that the Earth should often move about its own Center, and make there Vicissitudes of Night and Day, than expose always the same side to the action of the Sun. But how came it to be so moved? not from any necessity of the Laws of Motion or the System of the Heavens. It might annually 311have compassed the Sun, and yet have always turn'd the same Hemisphere towards it. This is matter of Fact and Experiment in the motion of the Moon; which is carried about the Earth, in the very same manner as the Earth about the Sun, and yet always shews the same face to Us. She indeed, notwithstanding this, turns all her Globe to the Sun by moving in her menstrual Orb, and enjoys Night and Day alternately, one Day of Hers being equal to about 14 Days and Nights of Ours. But should the Earth move in the same manner about the Sun, as the Moon does about the Earth; one half of it could never see the Day, but must eternally be condemned to Solitude and Darkness. That the Earth therefore frequently revolves about its own Center, is another eminent token of the Divine Wisdom and Goodness.
VI. But let us compare the mutual proportion of these Diurnal and Annual Revolutions; for they are distinct from one another, and have a different degree of Velocity. The Earth rowls once about its Axis in a natural Day: in which time all the parts of the Equator move 312something more than 3 of the Earths Diameters; which makes about a 1100 in the space of a year. But within the same space of a year the Center of the Earth is carried above 50 times as far once round the Orbis Magnus, whose wideness we now assume to be 20000 Terrestrial Diameters. So that the annual motion is more than 50 times swifter than the Diurnal Rotation, though we measure the latter from the Equator, here the Celerity is the greatest. 198198 Tacquet de Circulorum volutionibus.But it must needs be acknowledged, since the Earth revolves not upon a material and rugged, but a geometrical Plane, that the proportions of the Diurnal and Annual Motions may be varied in innumerable degrees; any of which might have happen’d as probably as the present. What was it then that prescribed this particular Celerity to each Motion, this proportion and temperament between them both? Let us examin it by our former Rule: if there be any Meliority in the present constitution; if any considerable Change would be for the worse. We will suppose then, that the annual Motion is accelerated doubly; 313so that a periodical Revolution would be performed in 6 Months. Such a Change would be pernicious; not only because the Earth could not move in a Circular Orb, which we have consider’d before; but because the Seasons being then twice as short as they are now, the cold Winter would overtake us, before our Corn and Fruits could possibly be ripe. But shall this Motion be as much retarded, and the Seasons lengthen’d in the same proportion? This too would be as fatal as the other: for in most Countries the Earth would be so parched and effete by the drought of the Summer, that it would afford still but one Harvest, as it doth at the present: which then would not be a sufficient store for the consumption of a Year, that would be twice as long, as now. But let us suppose, that the Diurnal Rotation is either considerably swifter or slower. And first let it be retarded; so as to make (for example) but 12 Circuits in a year: then every day and night would be as long as Thirty are now, not so fitly proportion’d neither to the common affairs of Life, nor to the exigencies of Sleep and Sustenance 314in a constitution of Flesh and Blood. But let it then be accelerated; and wheel a thousand times about its Center, while the Center describes one circle about the Sun: then an Equinoctial day would consist but of four Hours, which would be an inconvenient Change to the inhabitants of the Earth; such hasty Nights as those would give very unwelcome interruptions to our Labours and Journeys and other Transactions of the World. It is better therefore, that the Diurnal and Annual Motions should be so proportion’d as they are. Let it therefore be ascribed to the transcendent Wisdom and Benignity of that God, who hath made all things very good, and loveth all things that he hath made.
VII. But let us consider, not the Quantity and Proportion only, but the Mode also of this Diurnal Motion. You must conceive an imaginary Plane, which passing through the Centers of the Sun and the Earth extends it self on all sides as far as the Firmament: this Plane is called the Ecliptic; and in this the Center of the Earth is perpetually carried without any deviation. But then the Axis of the Earth, about which its Diurnal Rotation 315is made, is not erect to this Plane of the Ecliptic, but inclines toward it from the Perpendiculum in an Angle of 23 degrees and a half Now why is the Axis of the Earth in this particular posture, rather than any other? did it happen by Chance, or procede from Design? To determin this question, let us see, as we have done before, if This be more beneficial to us, than any other Constitution. We all know from the very Elements of Astronomy, that this inclined Position of the Axis, which keeps always the same Direction and a constant Parallelism to it self, is the sole cause of these grateful and needful Vicissitudes of the four Seasons of the Year, and the Variation in length of Days. If we take away the Inclination; it would absolutely undo these Northern Nations; the Sun would never come nearer us, than he doth now on the tenth of March or the twelfth of September. But would we rather part with the Parallelism? Let us suppose then that the Axis of the Earth keeps always the same Inclination toward the body of the Sun: this indeed would cause a variety of Days and Nights and Seasons on the Earth; but 316then every particular Country would have always the same diversity of Day and Night, and the same constitution of Season, without any alteration: some would always have long Nights and short Days, others again perpetually long Days and short Nights: one Climate would be scorched and swelter’d with everlasting Dog-days; while an eternal December blasted another. This surely is not quite so good as the present Order of Seasons. But shall the Axis rather observe no constant inclination to any thing, but vary and waver at uncertain times and places? This would be a happy Constitution indeed. There could be no health, no life nor subsistence in such an irregular System; by those surprizing Nods of the Pole we might be tossed backward or forward in a moment from January to June, nay possibly from the January of Greenland to the June of Abssinia. It is better therefore upon all accounts that the Axis should be continued in its present posture and direction: so that this also is a signal Character of Divine Wisdom and Goodness.317
But because several have imagin’d, that this skue posture of the Axis is a most unfortunate and pernicious thing; that if the Poles had been erect to the Plane of the Ecliptic, all mankind would have enjoyed a very Paradise upon Earth; a perpetual Spring, an eternal Calm and Serenity, and the Longævity of .Methuselah without pains or diseases; we are obliged to consider it a little further. And first as to the Universal and Perpetual Spring, ’tis a mere Poetical Fancy, and (bating the equality of Days and Nights which is a thing of small value) as to the other properties of a Spring, it is naturally impossible, being repugnant to the very form of the Globe. For to those People that dwell under or near the Æquator, this Spring would be a most pestilent and insupportable Summer; and as for those Countries that are nearer the Poles, in which number are our own and the most considerable Nations of the World, a Perpetual Spring will not do their business; they must have longer Days, a nearer approach of the Sun, and a less Obliquity of his Rayes; they must: have a Summer and a Harvest-time too to ripen their Grain 318and Fruits and Vines, or else they must bid an eternal adieu to the very best of their sustenance. It is plain, that the Center of the Earth must move all along in the Orbis Magnus; whether we suppose a Perpetual Æquinox, or an oblique Position of the Axis. So that the whole Globe would continue in the same Distance from the Sun, and receive the same quantity of Heat from him in a Year or any assignable time, in either Hypothesis. Though the Axis then had been perpendicular; yet take the whole Year about, and the Earth would have had the same measure of Heat, that it has now. So that here lies the question? Whether is more beneficial, that the Inhabitants of the Earth should have the Yearly quantity of Heat distributed equally every day, or so disposed as it is, a greater share of it in Summer and in Winter a less? It must needs be allowed, that the Temperate Zones have no Heat to spare in Summer; ’tis very well if it be sufficient for the maturation of Fruits. Now this being granted; ’tis as certain and manifest, that an even distribution of the Yearly Heat would never have brought those Fruits to maturity, as this 319is a known and familiar experiment. That such a quantity of Fewel all kindled at once will cause Water to boil, which being lighted gradually and successively will never be able to do it. It is clear therefore, that in the constitution of a Perpetual Æquinox the best part of the Globe would be desolate and useless: and as to that little that could be inhabited, there is no reason to expect, that it would constantly enjoy that admired Calm and Serenity. If the assertion were true; yet some perhaps may think, that such a Felicity, as would make Navigation impossible, is not much to be envied. But it's altogether precarious, and has no necessary foundation neither upon Reason nor Experience. For the Winds and Rains and other affections of the Atmosphere do not solely depend (as that assertion poseth) upon the course of the Sun; but partly and perhaps most frequently upon Steams and Exhalations from subterraneous Heat, upon the Positions of the Moon, the Situations of Seas or Mountains or Lakes or Woods, and many other unknown or uncertain Causes. So that, though the Course of the Sun 320should be invariable, and never swerve from the Equator; yet the temperament of the Air would be mutable nevertheless, according to the absence or presence or various mixture of the other Causes. The ancient Philosophers for many ages together unanimously taught, that the Torrid Zone was not habitable. The reasons that they went upon were very specious and probable; till the experience of these latter ages evinced them to be erroneous. They argued from cœlestial Causes only, the constant Vicinity of the Sun and the directness of his Rayes; never suspecting, that the Body of the Earth had so great an efficiency in the changes of the Air; and that then could be the coldest and rainiest season, the Winter of the Year, when the Sun was the nearest of all; and steer’d directly over mens Heads. Which is warning sufficient to deter any man from expecting such eternal Serenity and Halcyon-days from so incompetent and partial a Cause, as the constant Course of the Sun in the Æquinoctial Circle. What general condition and temperament of Air would follow upon that Supposition we cannot possibly 321define; for ’tis not caused by certain and regular Motions, not subject to Mathematical Calculations. But if we may make a conjecture from the present Constitution; we shall hardly wish for a Perpetual Æquinox to save the charges of Weather-glasses: for ’tis very well known, that the Months of March and September, the two Æquinoxes of Our year, are the most windy and tempestuous, the most unsettled and unequable of Seasons in most Countries of the World. Now if this notion of an uniform Calm and Serenity be false or precarious; then even the last supposed advantage, the constant Health and Longevity of Men must be given up also, as a groundless conceit: for this (according to the Assertors themselves) doth solely, as an effect of Nature, depend upon the other. Nay further, though we should allow them their Perpetual Calm and equability of Heat; they will never be able to prove, that therefore Men would be so vivacious as they would have us believe. Nay perhaps the contrary may be inferr'd, if we may argue from present experience: For the Inhabitants of the Torrid Zone, who 322suffer the least and shortest recesses of the Sun, and are within one step and degree of a Perpetual Æquinox, are not only shorter lived (generally speaking) than other Nations nearer the Poles; but inferior to them in Strength and Stature and Courage, and in all the capacities of the Mind. It appears therefore, that the gradual Vicissitudes of Heat and Cold are to far from shortning the thread of man’s Life, or impairing his intellectual Faculties; that very probably they both prolong the one in some measure, and exalt and advance the other. So that still we do profess to adore the Divine Wisdom and Goodness for this variety of Seasons, for 199199 Gen. 8.Seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter.
VIII. Come we now to consider the Atmosphere, and the exterior Frame and Face of the Globe; if we may find any tracks and footsteps of Wisdom in the Constitution of Them. I need not now inform you, that the Air is a thin fluid Body, endued with Elasticity or Springiness, and capable of Condensation and Rarefaction; 200200 See Mr. Boyle of the Air.and should it be much 323more expanded or condensed, than it naturally is, no Animals could live and breath: it is probable also, that the Vapours could not be duly raised and supported in it; which at once would deprive the Earth of all its ornament and glory, of all its living Inhabitants and Vegetables too. But ’tis certainly known and demonstrated, that the Condensation and Expansion of any portion of the Air, is always proportional to the weight and pressure incumbent upon it: so that if the Atmosphere had been either much greater or less than it is, as it might easily have been, it would have had in its lowest region on the Surface of the Earth a much greater density or tenuity of texture; and consequently have been unserviceable for Vegetation and Life. It Inuit needs therefore be an Intelligent Being that could so justly adapt it to those excellent purposes. ’Tis concluded by Astronomers, that the Atmosphere of the Moon hath no Clouds nor Rains, but a perpetual and uniform serenity: because nothing discoverable in the Lunar Surface is ever covered and absconded from us by the interposition of any clouds or mists, but such as rise from 324our own Globe. Now if the Atmosphere of Our Earth had been of such a Constitution; there could nothing, that now grows or breaths in it, have been formed or preserved; Human Nature must have been quite obliterated out of the Works of Creation. If our Air had not been a springy elastical Body, no Animal could have exercised the very function of Respiration: and yet the ends and uses of Respiration are not served by that Springiness, but by some other unknown and singular Quality. 201201 Mr. Boyle's Second Continuation of Physico-mechanical Exp. about the Air.For the Air, that in exhausted Receivers of Air-pumps is exhaled from Minerals and Flesh and Fruits and Liquors, is as true and genuine as to Elasticity and Density or Rarefaction, as that we respire in: and yet this factitious Air is so far from being fit to be breathed in, that it kills Animals in a moment, even sooner than the very absence of all Air, than a Vacuum it self: All which do infer the most admirable Providence of the Author of Nature; who foreknew the necessity of Rains and Dews to the present structure of 325Plants, and the uses of Respiration to Animals; and therefore created those correspondent properties in the Atmosphere of the Earth.
IX. In the next place let us consider the ample provision of Waters, those inexhausted Treasures of the Ocean: 202202 Lucret. Et mare, quod late terrarum distinet oras.and though some have grudged the great share that it takes of the Surface of the Earth, yet we shall propose this too, as a conspicuous mark and character of the Wisdom of God. For that we may not now say, that the vast Atlantic Ocean is really greater Riches and of more worth to the World, than if it was changed into a fifth Continent; and that the Dry Land is as yet much too big for its Inhabitants; and that before they than want Room by increasing and multiplying, there may be new Heavens and a new Earth; We dare venture to affirm, that those copious Stores of Waters are no more than necessary for the present constitution of our Globe. For is not the whole Substance of all Vegetables mere modified Water? and consequently of all Animals too; all which 326either feed upon Vegetables or prey upon one another? Is not an immense quantity of it continually exhaled by the Sun, to fill the Atmosphere with Vapors and Clouds, and feed the Plants of the Earth with the balm of Dews and the fatness of Showers? It seems incredible at first hearing, that all the Blood in our Bodies should circulate in a trice, in a very few minutes: but I believe it would be more surprizing, if we knew the short and swift periods of the great Circulation of Water, that vital Blood of the Earth, which composeth and nourisheth all things. If we could but compute that prodigious Mass of it, that is daily thrown into the channel of the Sea from all the Rivers of the World: we should then know and admire how much is perpetually evaporated and call again upon the Continents to supply those innumerable Streams. And indeed hence we may discover, not only the Use and Necessity, but the Cause too of the vastness of the Ocean. I never yet heard of any Nation, that complained they had too broad or too deep or too many Rivers, or wished they were either smaller or fewer: they understand 327better than so, how to value and esteem those inestimable gifts of Nature. Now supposing that the multitude and largeness of Rivers ought to continue as great as now; we can easily prove, that the extent of the Ocean could be no less than it is. For it’s evident and necessary, (if we follow the most fair and probable Hypothesis, that the Origin of Fountains is from Vapors and Rain) that the Receptacle of Waters, into which the mouths of all those Rivers must empty themselves, ought to have so spacious a Surface, that as much Water may be continually brushed off by the Winds and exhaled by the Sun, as (besides what falls again in Showers upon its own Surface) is brought into it by all the Rivers. Now the Surface of the Ocean is just so wide and no wider: for if more was evaporated than returns into it again, the Sea would become less; if lets was evaporated, it would grow bigger. So that, because since the memory of all ages it: hath continu'd at a stand without considerable variation, and if it hath gain'd ground upon one Country, hath lost as much in another; it must consequently be exactly proportioned to the present 328constitution of Rivers. How rash therefore and vain are those busy Projectors in Speculation, that imagin they could recover ro the World many new and noble Countries, in the most happy and temporate Climates, without any damage to the old ones, could this same Mass of the Ocean be lodged and circumscribed in a much deeper Channel and within narrower Shores! For by how much they would diminish the present extent of the Sea, so much they would impair the Fertility and Fountains and Rivers of the Earth: because the quantity of Vapors, that must be exhaled to supply all there, would be lessened proportionally to the bounds of the Ocean; for the Vapors are not to be measured from the bulk of the Water, but from the space of the Surface. So that this also doth infer the superlative Wisdom and Goodness of God, that he hath treasured up the Waters in so deep and spacious a Storehouse, 203203 Psa 104. the place that he hath founded and appointed for them.329
X. 204204 Nequaquam nobis divinitus esse creatam
Naturam rerum, tanta stat prædita culpa.
Principio, quantum cœli tegit impetus ingens.
Inde avidam partem montes Sylvæque ferartum
Possedere, tenent rupes, vastæque paludes,
Et mare, quid late terrarum distinet oras.
Luccret. lib. 5. But some men are out of Love with the features and mean of our Earth; they do not like this rugged and irregular Surface, these Precipices and Valleys and the gaping Channel of the Ocean. This with them is Deformity, and rather carries the face of a Ruin or a rude and indigested Lump of Atoms that casually convened so, than a Work of Divine Artifice. They would have the vast Body of a Planet to be as elegant and round as a factitious Globe represents it; to be every where smooth and equable, and as plain as the Elysian Fields. Let us examin, what weighty reasons they have to disparage the present constitution of Nature in so injurious a manner. Why, if we suppose the Ocean to be dry, and that we look down upon the empty Channel from some higher Region of the Air, how horrid and ghastly and unnatural would it look? Now admitting this Supposition; Let 330us suppose too that the Soil of this dry Channel were covered with Grass and Trees in manner of the Continent, and then see what would follow. If a man could be carried asleep and placed in the very middle of this dry Ocean; it must be allowed, that he could not distinguish it from the inhabited Earth. For if the bottom should be unequal with Shelves and Rocks and Precipices and Gulfs; these being now appparel’d with a vesture of Plants, would only resemble the Mountains and Valleys that he was accustomed to before. But very probably he would wake in a large and smooth Plain for though the bottom of the Sea were gradually inclin’d and sloping from the Shore to the middle: yet the additional Acclivity, above what a Level would seem to have, would be imperceptible in so short a prospect as he could take of it. So that to make this Man sensible what a deep Cavity he was placed in; he must be carried so high in the Air, till he could see at one view the whole Breadth of the Channel, and so compare the depression of the Middle with the elevation of the Banks. But then a very small skill in Mathematics is 331enough to instruct us, that before he could arrive to that distance from the Earth, all the inequality of Surface would be lost to his View: the wide Ocean would appear to him like an even and uniform Plane (uniform as to its Level, though not as to Light and Shade) though every Rock of the Sea was as high as the Pico of Teneriff. But though we should grant, that the dry Gulf of the Ocean would appear vastly hollow and horrible from the top of a high Cloud: yet what a way of reasoning is this from the freaks of Imagination, and impossible Suppositions? Is the Sea ever likely to be evaporated by the Sun, or to be emptied with Buckets? Why then must we fancy this impossible dryness; and then upon that fiditious account calumniate Nature, as deformed and ruinous and unworthy of a Divine Author? Is there then any physical deformity in the Fabric of a Human Body; because our Imagination can strip it of its Muscles and Skin, and shew us the scragged and knotty Backbone, the gaping and ghastly Jaws, and all the Sceleton underneath? We have shewed before, that the Sea could not be much narrower 332than it is, without a great loss to the World: and must we now have an Ocean of mere Flats and Shallows, to the utter ruin of Navigation; for fear our heads should turn giddy at the imagination of gaping Abysses and unfathomable Gulfs? But however, they may say, the Sea-shores at least might have been even and uniform, nor crooked and broken as they are into innumerable Angles and Creeks and Inlets and Bays, without Beauty or Order, which carry the Marks more of Chance and Confusion, than of the production of a wise Creator. And would not this be a fine bargain indeed? to part with all our Commodious Ports and Harbours, which the greater the Inlet is, are so much the better, for the imaginary pleasure of an open and streight Shore without any retreat or flicker from the Winds; which would make the Sea of no use at all as to Navigation and Commerce. But what apology can we make for the horrid deformity of Rocks and Crags, of naked and broken Cliff's, of long Ridges of barren Mountains, in the convenientest Latitudes for Habitation and Fertility, could but those rude heaps of Rubbish 333and Ruins be removed out of the way? We have one general and sufficient answer for all seeming defeats or disorders in the constitution of Land or Sea; that we do not contend to have the Earth pass for a Paradise, or to make a very Heaven of our Globe, we reckon it only as the Land of our peregrination, and aspire after 205205 Heb. 11. a better, and a cælestial Country. ’Tis enough, if it be so framed and constituted, that by a carefull Contemplation of it we have great reason to acknowledge and adore the Divine Wisdom and Benignity of its Author. But to wave this general Reply; let the Objectors consider, that these supposed irregularities must necessarily come to pass from the established Laws of Mechanism and the ordinary course of Nature. For supposing the Existence of Sea and Mountains; if the Banks of that Sea must never be jagged and torn by the impetuous assaults or the silent underminings of Waves; if violent Rains and Tempests must not wash down the Earth and Gravel from the tops of some of those Mountains, and expose their naked 334Ribbs to the face of the Sun; if the Seeds of subterraneous Minerals must not ferment, and sometimes cause Earthquakes and furious eruptions of Volcano's, and tumble down broken Rocks, and lay them in confusion: then either all things must have been overruled miraculously by the immediate interposition of God without any mechanical Affections or settled Laws of Nature, or else the body of the Earth must have been as fixed as Gold, or as hard as Adamant, and wholly unfit for Human Habitation. 206206 Gen. 1. So that if it was good in the sight of God, that the present Plants and Animals, and Human Souls united to Flesh and Blood should be upon this Earth under a settled constitution of Nature these supposed Inconveniences, as they were foreseen and permitted by the Author of that Nature, as necessary consequences of such a constitution; so they cannot infer the least imperfection in his Wisdom and Goodness. And to murmure at them is as unreasonable, as to complain that he hath made us Men and not Angels, that he hath placed us upon this Planet, 335and not upon some other, in this or another System, which may be thought better than Ours. Let them also consider, that this objectedd Deformity is in our Imaginations only, and not really in Things themselves. There is no Universal Reason (I mean such as is not confined to Human Fancy, but will reach through the whole Intellectual Universe) that a Figure by us called Regular, which hath equal Sides and Angles, is absolutely more beautifull than any irregular one. All Pulchritude is relative; and all Bodies are truly and physically beautifull under all possible Shapes and Proportions; that are good in their Kind, that are fit for their proper uses and ends of their Natures. We ought not then to believe, that the Banks of the Ocean are really deformed, because they have not the form of a regular Bulwark; nor that the Mountains are out of shape, because they are not exact Pyramids or Cones; nor that the Stars are unskilfully placed, because they are not all situated at uniform distance. These are not Natural Irregularities, but with respect to our Fancies only; nor are they incommodious to 336the true Uses of Life and the Designs of Man’s Being on the Earth. And let them further consider, that these Ranges of barren Mountains, by condensing the Vapors, and producing Rains and Fountains and Rivers, give the very Plains and Valleys themselves that Fertility they boast of: that those Hills and Mountains supply Us and the Stock of Nature with a great variety of excellent Plants. If there were no inequalities in the Surface of the Earth, nor in the Seasons of the Year; we should lose a considerable share of the Vegetable Kingdom: for all Plants will not grow in an uniform Level and the same temper of Soil, nor with the same degree of Heat. Nay let them lastly consider, that to those Hills and Mountains we are obliged for all our Metals, and with them for all the conveniencies and comforts of Life. To deprive us of Metals is to make us mere Savages; to change our Corn or Rice for the old Arcadian Diet, our Houses and Cities for Dens and Caves, and our Cloathing for Skins of Beasts: ’tis to bereave us of all Arts and Sciences, of History and Letters, nay of Revealed Religion too that inestimable 337favour of Heaven: for without the benefit of Letters, the whole Gospel would be a mere Tradition and old Cabbala, without certainty, without authority. Who would part with these Solid and Substantial Blessings for the little fantastical pleasantness of a smooth uniform Convexity and Rotundity of a Globe? And yet the misfortune of it is, that the pleasant View of their imaginary Globe, as well as the deformed Spectacle of our true one, is founded upon impossible Suppositions. For that equal Convexity could never be seen and enjoyed by any man living. The Inhabitants of such an Earth could have only the short prospect of a little Circular Plane about three Miles around them; though neither Woods nor Hedges nor artificial Banks should intercept it: which little too would appear to have an Acclivity on all sides from the Spectators; so that every man would have the displeasure of fancying himself the lowest, and that he always dwelt and moved in a Bottom. Nay, considering that in such a constitution of the Earth they could have no means nor instruments of Mathematical Knowledge; there is great 338 reason to believe, that the period of the final Dissolution might overtake them, ere they would have known or had any Suspicion that they walked upon a round Ball. Must we therefore, to make this Convexity of the Earth discernible to the Eye, suppose a man to be lifted up a great height in the Air, that he may have a very spacious Horizon under one View? But then again, because of the distance, the convexity and gibbousness would vanish away; he would only see below him a great circular Flat, as level to his thinking as the face of the Moon. Are there then such ravishing Charms in a dull unvaried Flat, to make a sufficient compensation 207207 Deut. 33. 15.for the chief things of the ancient Mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting Hills? Nay we appeal to the sentence of Mankind; If a Land of Hills and Valleys has not more Pleasure too and Beauty than an uniform Flat? which Flat if ever it may be said to be very delightful, is then only, when ’tis viewed from the top of a Hill. 208208 Vide Ælian. var. Hist. lib. III.What were the Tempe of Thessaly, so celebrated in 339ancient story for their unparallelled pleasantness, but a Vale divided with a River and terminated with Hills? Are not all the descriptions of Poets embellish’d with such Ideas, when they would represent any places of Superlative Delight, any blissful Seats of the Muses or the Nymphs, any facred habitations of Gods or Goddesses? They will never admit that a wide Flat can be pleasant, no nor in the very Elysian Fields209209 Virg. Æn. 6.
At pater Anchises penitus convalle virenti. & ibid.
Hoc superate jugum. & ibid. Et tumulu cœpit.; but those too must be diversified with depressed Valleys and (welling Ascents. They cannot imagin 210210 Flours worthy of Paradise, which not nice Art
In Beds and curious Knots. but Nature boon
Pour’d forth profuse on Hill and Dale and Plain.
Paradise Lost, lib. 4. even Paradise to be a place of Pleasure, nor Heaven it self to be 211211 For Earth hath this variety from Heaven
Of Pleasure situate in Hill and Dale.
Ibid. lib. 6.Heaven without them. Let this therefore be another Argument of the Divine Wisdom and Goodness, that the Surface of the Earth is not uniformly Convex (as many think it would naturally have 340been, if mechanically formed by a Chaos) but distinguished with Mountains and Valleys, and furrowed from Pole to Pole with the Deep Channel of the Sea; and that because of the τὸ βέλτιον, it is better that it should be so.
Give me leave to make one short Inference from what has been said, which shall finish this present Discourse, and with it our Task for the Year. We have clearly discovered many Final Causes and Characters of Wisdom and Contrivance in the Frame of the inanimate World; as well as in the Organical Fabric of the Bodies of Animals. Now from hence ariseth a new and invincible Argument, that the present Frame of the World hath not existed from all Eternity. For such an usefulness of things or a fitness of means to Ends, as neither procedes from the necessity of their Beings, nor can happen to them by Chance, doth necessarily infer that there was an Intelligent Being, which was the Author and Contriver of that Usefulness. 212212 Serm. V.We have formerly demonstrated, that the Body of a Man, which consists of an 341incomprehensible variety of Parts, all admirably fitted for their peculiar Functions and the Conservation of the Whole, could no more be formed fortuitously; than the Æneis of Virgil, or any other long Poem with good Sense and just Measures, could be composed by the Casual Combinations of Letters. Now to pursue this Comparison; as it is utterly impossible to be believed, that such a Poem may have been eternal, transcribed from Copy to Copy without any first Author and Original: so it is equally incredible and impossible, that the Fabric of Human Bodies, which hath such excellent and Divine Artifice, and, if I may so say, such good Sense and true Syntax and harmonious Measures in its Constitution, should be propagated and transcribed from Father to Son without a first Parent and Creator of it. An eternal usefulness of Things, an eternal Good Sense, cannot possibly be conceived without _an -eternal Wisdom and Understanding. But that can be no other than that eternal and omnipotent God; 213213 Prov. 3. that by Wisdom hath founded 342the Earth, and by Understanding hath established the Heavens: To whom be all Honour and Glory and Praise and Adoration from henceforth and for evermore, AMEN.243
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