Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

er this can be fairly made out, by strict and proper reasoning. Lord Kaimes and Mr. Hume deny, that it implies any absurdity to suppose that a thing may be gin to exist without a cause. And hence they con: clude it is impossible to prove, that every thing, which begins to exist, must have a cause. Mr. Hume says, a cause is nothing more than an antecedent to a consequent; and an effect is nothing more than a consequent of an antecedent. But this representation of cause and effect is contrary to common sense. When a number of men walk in procession, they bear the relation of antecedent and consequent to each other, but not the relation of cause and effect. The motion of those who walk before, is no cause of the motion of those who walk behind; or in other words, the antecedents do not bear the relation of cause to the consequents; nor the consequents bear the relation of effect to the antecedents. The idea of cause and effect always carries something more in it, than the bare perception of antecedent and consequent. This we know from our own experience. The operation of our own minds gives us a clear and distinct perception of cause and effect. When we walk, we are conscious of a power to produce motion. The exercise of this power gives us the perception of cause, and the motion, which flows from it, gives us the perception not only of a consequent, but of an effect. Our idea of cause and effect is as clear and distinct, as our idea of heat and cold; and is as truly correspondent to an originat impression. This being established, the way is prepared to show, that if the world might have had a cause, it must have had a cause.

Whatever we can conceive to be capable of existing, by a cause, we can as clearly conceive to be incapable of existing without a cause. For, that which renders any thing capable of existing, by’a cause, renders it equally incapable of existing, without a cause. Thus, if the nature of a certain wheel render it

capable of being moved, by a cause; then that same nature renders it incapable of moving, without a cause. Or, if the nature of a certain wheel render it capable of moving, without a cause; then that same nature readers it incapable of being moved, by a cause. Suppose there are two wheels, the one large and the other small. Suppose it is the nature of the large wheel to stand still of itself; but the nature of the small wheel to move of itself. Here it is easy to see, that motion in one of these wheels may be owing to a cause, but not in the other. The large wheel, whose nature it is to stand still of itself, may be moved by a cause. For, if a proper power be applied to it, motion will instantly follow; and if that power be withdrawn, motion will instantly cease. But the small wheel, whose nature it is to move of itself, cannot be moved by a cause. For if any power whatever be applied to it, the motion will be the same;* and of consequence, the

power applied will produce no effect, and be no cause. If this reasoning be just, then whatever we can conceive to be capable of being an effect, must have been an effect; or whatever we can conceive to be capable of having a cause of its existence, must have had a cause of its existence. If we can only conceive, therefore, that the world in which we live, and the objects with which we are surrounded, are capable of having had a cause of their existence; then we can as clearly conceive, that it was absolutely impossible for them to have come into existence, without a cause.

But Mr. Hume does not pretend to deny, that the world is capable of having had a cause. And if this be true, then it is certain to a demonstration, that there was some cause which actually produced it. That is demonstrably false, which cannot be conceived to be true; and that is demonstrably true, which cannot be conceived to be false. It is demonstrably false, that'a body can move north and south at the same time; for it is not in the power of the mind to conceive, that a body is moving north, while it is moving south. It is demonstrably true, that two and two are equal to four; for it is not in the power of the mind to conceive that two and two should be more, or less than four. It is demonstrably true, that all the parts are equal to the whole; for it is not in the power of the mind to conceive, that all the parts should be more, or less than the whole. And in the same manner it is demonstrably true, that the world must have had a cause of its existence. We can clearly conceive, that the world is capable of having had a cause of its existence; and therefore we cannot conceive, that it was capable of coming into existence, without a cause.

*That is, if it moves as fast as possible, which is supposed,

The possibility of its having had a cause, destroys the possibility of its having come into existence without a cause; just as the possibility of a body's moving one way at once, destroys the possibility of its moving two ways at once. Had Hume and Kaimes properly consulted the operation of their own minds upon this subject, we presume they never would have granted, that it was possible for the world to have come into existence, by a cause; and yet asserted, that it was possible it might have come into existence, without a cause. By granting the possibility of the world's coming into existence, by a cause, they have virtually granted, that it was absolutely impossible it should have come into existence, soithout a cause.

The bare possibility of the world's beginning to exist, amounts to a demonstration, that

[ocr errors]

cause.

it did begin to exist. And the bare possibility of its beginning to exist, by a cause, amounts to a demonstration, that there was some cause of its beginning to exist.

IV. The Cause which produced this world, must be equal to the effect produced. No cause can produce an effect superior to itself. This is no less impossible, than that an effect should exist, without a

For just so far as an effect surpasses the cause, it ceases to be an effect, and exists of itself. To suppose, therefore, that the world owes its existence to any cause inferior to itself, involves the same absurdity as to suppose, that it began to exist, without a cause. It requires a greater cause to produce a great, than a small effect. This we know by our own experience. We can produce small effects. We are able to move or new-modify some things around us; but we cannot give existence to the smallest atom. To produce something out of nothing requires a far greater cause, than it does merely to move, or newmodify things which already exist. Hence the character and perfections of the first and supreme Cause, may be fairly argued from the things which he hath made.

Here, then, I would observe,

1. The Creator of all things must be possessed of almighty power. This is the first attribute of the first Cause, which his great and marvellous works impress upon the mind. In surveying the works of creation, their greatness constrains us to conclude, that no less than Almighty power could bring them out of nothing into being. It is true, our imagination is here apt to get the start of our reason, and we are ready to apprehend, that the power of preserving, is greater than the power of creating the world. Preserving power

ease.

seems to admit of different degrees of effort, in proportion to the different degrees of magnitude in the objects preserved. It seems to require a greater effort in the Supreme Being to support a mountain, than a mole-hill; or to support the ponderous earth, than the light and flying clouds. But this is altogether owing to a delusive imagination. In the eye of reason, whatever the Supreme Power can do, he can do with equal

It requires no more effort in the great first Cause, to support and preserve the world, than it did to call it into existence at first. He spake, and it was done: he commanded, and it stood fast. This facility of his operation displays the greatness of his power, in the production of the world. He, who produced an Angel as easily as a man; a Man as easily as a worm; and a World as easily as an atom, must be a Being of unbounded power. His power of creating surpasses the powers of all dependent beings. For, were all their powers united, they could not create a fly, nor a worm, nor produce the least particle of matter. We cannot conceive of any power greater, than that which can give existence, or produce something out of nothing. The Being, therefore, who created this world, must be able to do every thing, which lies within the limits of possibility. By creating one world, he has displayed a power sufficient to create as many worlds, as space itself can contain. And, therefore, if we may judge of the cause by the effect, we may safely conclude, that the first and Supreme Cause of all things is necessarily Omnipotent.

2. The Author and Framer of the world must be supremely wise and intelligent. Mankind have always admired the beauty of the world. The Greeks, that learned and refined nation, called it beauty in the abstract. Uniformity amidst variety appears through

[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »