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Proposition XI. That the supreme cause and author of all things must of necessity be infinitely wise.

XI. Proposition XI. That the supreme cause and author of all things must of necessity be infinitely wise. The supreme cause and author of all things must of necessity be infinitely wise. This proposition is evidently consequent upon those that have already been proved; and those being established, this, as admitting no further dispute, needs not to be largely insisted upon. For nothing is more evident than that an infinite, omnipresent, intelligent being, must know perfectly all things that are; and that he who alone is self-existent and eternal, the sole cause and author of all things, from whom alone all the powers of all things are derived, and on whom they continually depend, must also know perfectly all the consequences of those powers, that is, all possibilities of things to come, and what in every respect is best and wisest to be done: And that, having infinite power, he can never be controlled or prevented from doing what he so knows to be fittest. From all which, it manifestly follows, that every effect of the supreme cause must be the product of infinite wisdom: More particularly; the supreme being, because he is infinite, must be everywhere present; and because he is an infinite mind or intelligence, therefore wherever he is, his knowledge is, which is inseparable from his being, and must therefore be infinite likewise; and wherever his infinite knowledge is, it must necessarily have a full and perfect prospect of all things, and nothing can be concealed from its inspection: he includes and surrounds every thing with his boundless presence, and penetrates every part of their substance with his all-seeing eye: so that the inmost nature and essence of all things are perfectly 100naked and open to his view, and even the deepest thoughts of intelligent beings themselves manifest in his sight. Further, all things being not only present to him, but also entirely depending upon him, and having received both their being itself and all their powers and faculties from him; it is manifest that, as he knows all things that are, so he must likewise know all possibilities of things, that is, all effects that can be. For, being himself alone self-existent, and having alone given to all things all the powers and faculties they are indued with; it is evident he must of necessity know perfectly what all and each of those powers and faculties, which are derived wholly from himself, can possibly produce: and seeing, at one boundless view, all the possible compositions and divisions, variations and changes, circumstances and dependences of things; all their possible relations one to another, and their dispositions or fitnesses to certain and respective ends,—he must, without possibility of error, know exactly what is best and properest in every one of the infinite possible cases or methods of disposing things; and understand perfectly how to order and direct the respective means, to bring about what he so knows to be, in its kind, or in the whole, the best and fittest in the end. This is what we mean by infinite wisdom. And having before shown, (which indeed is also evident of itself,) that the supreme cause is moreover all-powerful; so that he can no more be prevented by force or opposition, than he can be hindered by error or mistake, from effecting always what is absolutely fittest and wisest to be done: it follows undeniably, that he is actually and effectually, in the highest and most complete sense, infinitely wise; and that the world, and all things therein, must be and are effects of infinite wisdom. This is demonstration à priori. The proof à posteriori, of the infinite wisdom of God, from the consideration of the exquisite perfection and consummate excellency of his works, is no less strong and undeniable. But I shall not enlarge upon this 101argument; because it has often already been accurately and strongly urged, to the everlasting shame and confusion of the atheists, by the ablest and learnedest writers both of ancient and modern times. See Galen de Usu Partium; Tully de Natura Deorum; Boyle, of Final Causes; MrRay, of the Wisdom of God in the Creation; Mr Derham’s Physico-Theology. &c. I shall here observe only this one thing; that the older the world grows, and the deeper men inquire into things, and the more accurate observations they make, and the more and greater discoveries they find out, the stronger this argument continually grows; which is a certain evidence of its being founded in truth.8383   Opinionum commenta delet dies, naturæ judicia confirmat.Cic. If Galen, so many ages since, could find, in the construction and constitution of the parts of a human body, such undeniable marks of contrivance and design as forced him then to acknowledge and admire the wisdom of its author; what would he have said, if he had known the late discoveries in anatomy and physic, the circulation of the blood, the exact structure of the heart and brain, the uses of numberless glands and valves for the secretion and motion of the juices in the body, besides several veins and other vessels and receptacles not at all known, or so much as imagined to have any existence in his days; but which now are discovered to serve the wisest and most exquisite ends imaginable! If the arguments against the belief of the being of an all-wise creator and governor of the world, which Epicurus, and his follower Lucretius, drew from the faults which they imagined they could find in the frame and constitution of the earth, were so poor and inconsiderable, that, even in that in fancy of natural philosophy, the generality of men contemned and despised them as of no force; how would they have been ashamed if they had lived in these days, when those very things which they thought to be faults and blunders in the constitution of nature, are discovered to be very useful, and of exceeding benefit to the preservation and well-being of the whole? And to mention no more: If Tully, from the partial and very imperfect knowledge in 102astronomy, which his times afforded, could be so confident of the heavenly bodies being disposed and moved by a wise and understanding mind, as to declare that, in his opinion, whoever asserted the contrary, was himself8484   Cœlestem ergo admirabilem ordinem incredibilemque constantiam, ex qua conservatio et salus omnium omnis oritur, qui vacare mente putat; is ipse mentis expers habendus est.De Natura Deorum, lib. 2. void of all understanding; what would he have said if he had known the modern discoveries in astronomy?—the immense greatness of the world, (I mean that part of it which falls under our observation,) which is now known to be as much greater than what in his time they imagined it to be, as the world itself, according to their system, was greater than Archimedes’s sphere?—the exquisite regularity of all the planets’ motions, without epicycles, stations, retrogradations, or any other deviation or confusion whatsoever?—the inexpressible nicety of the adjustment of the primary velocity and original direction of the annual motion of the planets, with their distance from the central body and their force of gravitation towards it?—the wonderful proportion of the diurnal motion of the earth and other planets about their own centres, for the distinction of light and darkness, without that monstrously disproportionate whirling of the whole heavens which the ancient astronomers were forced to suppose?—the exact accommodating of the densities of the planets8585   Planetarum densitates fere sunt, ut radices diametrorum apparentium applicatæ ad diametros veros, hoc est, reciproce ut distantiæ planetarum a sole, ductæ in radices diametrorum apparentium. Collocavit igitur Deus planetas in diversis distantiis a sole, ut quilibet, pro gradu densitatis, calore solis majore vel minore fruatur.Newton. Princip. lib. 3, prop. 8. to their distances from the sun, and consequently to the proportion of heat which each of them is to bear respectively; so that neither those which are nearest the sun are destroyed by the heat, nor those which are farthest off, by the cold; but 103each one enjoys a temperature suited to its proper uses, as the earth to ours?—the admirable order, number, and usefulness of the several moons, (as I may very properly call them,) never dreamt of by antiquity, but now by the help of telescopes clearly and distinctly seen to move about their respective planets, and whose motions are so exactly known, that their very eclipses are as certainly calculated and foretold as those of our own moon?—the strange adjustment of our moon’s motion about its own centre once in a month, with its motion about the earth in the same period of time, to such a degree of exactness, that by that means the same face is always obverted to the earth without any sensible variation?—the wonderful motions of the comets, which are now known to be as exact, regular, and periodical, as the motions of other planets?—lastly,—the preservation of the several systems, and of the several planets and comets in the same system, from falling upon each other, which, in infinite past time, (had there been no intelligent governor of the whole,) could not but have been the effect of the smallest possible resistance made by the finest æther, and even by the rays of light themselves, to the motions (supposing it possible there ever could have been any motions) of those bodies?—what (I say,) would Tully, that great master of reason, have thought and said, if these and other newly discovered instances of the inexpressible accuracy and wisdom of the works of God, had been found out and known in his time? Certainly atheism, which then was altogether unable to withstand the arguments drawn from this topic, must now, upon the additional strength of these later observations, (which are every one an unanswerable proof of the incomprehensible wisdom of the Creator,) be utterly ashamed to show its head. We now see, with how great reason the author of the Book of Ecclesiasticus, after he had described the beauty of the sun and stars, and all the then visible works of God in heaven and earth, concluded, chap. xliii, v. 32, (as we, after all the discoveries of later ages, may, no doubt, still 104truly say,) “There are yet hid greater things than these, and we have seen but a few of his works.”


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