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II. A Refutation of This Dogma on the Ground of Familiar Human Analogies.

How, shall we bear with these men who assert that all those wise, and consequently also noble, constructions (in the universe) are only the works of common chance? those objects, I mean, of which each taken by itself as it is made, and the whole system collectively, were seen to be good by Him by whose command they came into existence. For, as it is said, “God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.”647647    Gen. i. 31. But truly these men do not reflect on648648    The text is, ἀλλ᾽ οὐδὲ ἀπὸ τῶν μικρῶν τῶν συνήθων καὶ παρὰ πόδας νουθετούντων, etc. We adopt Viger’s suggestions and read νουθετοῦνται. the analogies even of small familiar things which might come under their observation at any time, and from which they might learn that no object of any utility, and fitted to be serviceable, is made without design or by mere chance, but is wrought by skill of hand, and is contrived so as to meet its proper use. And when the object falls out of service and becomes useless, then it also begins to break up indeterminately, and to decompose and dissipate its materials in every casual and unregulated way, just as the wisdom by which it was skilfully constructed at first no longer controls and maintains it. For a cloak, for example, cannot be made without the weaver, as if the warp could be set aright and the woof could be entwined with it by their own spontaneous action; while, on the other hand, if it is once worn out, its tattered rags are flung aside. Again, when a house or a city is built, it does not take on its stones, as if some of them placed themselves spontaneously upon the foundations, and others lifted themselves up on the several layers, but the builder carefully disposes the skilfully prepared stones in their proper positions; while if the structure happens once to give way, the stones are separated and cast down and scattered about. And so, too, when a ship is built, the keel does not lay itself, neither does the mast erect itself in the centre, nor do all the other timbers take up their positions casually and by their own motion. Nor, again, do the so-called hundred beams in the wain fit themselves spontaneously to the vacant spaces they severally light on. But the carpenter in both cases puts the materials together in the right way and at the right time.649649    The text is, ἑκατέρας συνεκόμισε καιριον, for which Viger proposes εἰς τὸν ἑκατέρας, etc. And if the ship goes to sea and is wrecked, or if the wain drives along on land and is shattered, their timbers are broken up and cast abroad anywhere,—those of the former by the waves, and those of the latter by the violence of the impetus. In like manner, then, we might with all propriety say also to these men, that those atoms of theirs, which remain idle and unmanipulated and useless, are introduced vainly. Let them, accordingly, seek for themselves to see into what is beyond the reach of sight, and conceive what is beyond the range of conception;650650    The text gives, ὁράτωσαν γὰρ τὰς ἀθεάτους ἐκεῖνοι, καὶ τὰς ἀνοήτους νοείτωσαν, οὐχ ὁμοίως ἐκείνῳ, etc. The passage seems corrupt. Some supply φύσεις as the subject intended in the ἀθεάτους and ἀνοήτους; but that leaves the connection still obscure. Viger would read, with one ms., ἀθέτους instead of ἀθάετους, and makes this then the sense: that those Epicureans are bidden study more closely these unregulated and stolid (ἀνοήτους) atoms, not looking at them with a merely cursory and careless glance, as David acknowledges was the case with him in the thoughts of his own imperfect nature, in order that they may the more readily understand how out of such confusion as that in which they are involved nothing orderly and finished could possibly have originated. [P. 86, note 2, infra.] unlike him who in these terms confesses to God that things like these had been shown him only by God Himself: “Mine 86eyes did see Thy work, being till then imperfect.”651651    Ps. cxxxix. 16. The text gives, τὸ ἀκατέργαστόν σου ἴδωσαν οἱ ὀφθαλμοί μου. This strange reading, instead of the usual τὸ ἀκατέργαστόν μου εἶδον (or ιδον) οἱ ὀφθαλμοι σου, is found also in the Alexandrine exemplar of the Septuagint, which gives, τὸ ἀκατέργαστόν σου εἰδοσαν οἱ ὀφθαλμοί μου, and in the Psalter of S. Germanus in Calmet, which has, imperfectum tuum viderunt oculi mei. Viger renders it thus: quod ex tuis operibus imperfectum adhuc et impolitum videbatur, oculi tandem mei perviderunt; i.e., Thy works, which till now seemed imperfect and unfinished, my eyes have at length discerned clearly; to wit, because being now penetrated by greater light from Thee, they have ceased to be dim-sighted. See Viger’s note in Migne. But when they assert now that all those things of grace and beauty, which they declare to be textures finely wrought out of atoms, are fabricated spontaneously by these bodies without either wisdom or perception in them, who can endure to hear652652    [The reproduction of all this outworn nonsense in our age claims for itself the credit of progressive science. It has had its day, and its destiny is to be speedily wiped out by the next school of thinkers. Meanwhile let the believer’s answer be found in Isa. xxxvii. 22, 23.] them talk in such terms of those unregulated653653    ἀῤῥύθμους. atoms, than which even the spider, that plies its proper craft of itself, is gifted with more sagacity?


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