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far it is both true and useful, I do not here take upon me to distinguish. Some doctrines of great importance were built upon it, particularly the metempsychosis, or transmigration of souls, and the eternity of the world; both of them very bad, and peculiar to the philosophy of idolaters. In this article their philosophy was certainly false, that all the matter in the world is homogeneous; for there is undoubtedly an essential and radical distinction between the elements of which bodies are composed : so that neither artifice nor violence can ever transmute earth into water, or lead into gold; whence the labour of the alchymist is no better than a dream.
On the Nature and Causes of Motion.
THE world is a great machine, subject to
a variety of motions, some of which are constant, and others variable and temporary. All the elements are in motion : the matter of the earth is constantly passing into the substance of trees and plants, and as constantly returning from them again in their dissolution : the sea is moved with tides and currents ; the air is agitated with winds and storms; and the light is flowing from the sun, stars, and planets, to the utmost boundaries of the universe.
If we inquire after the first and original cause of all this motion, that cause can be no other than the power of God. The whole creation bears witness to the existence and efficacy of this power; þut it is not required of us to explain in what manner it exerts itself. When we say that God animates the world, as the soul animates the body, we il
1.strate what is unknown by what is equally unknown ; and we can make no just comparison betwixt any two ideas, but of such things as are known to us in a sensible man
It is therefore sufficient to say, that as matter did not make itself, so neither can it move itself; which is the same as to say, that its motion must commence, and be continued, by the power of God. It is no more necessary that existence should imply motion, than it was necessary for nothingness to pass into existence.
But when we consider God as the cause of motion, it is not to be understood that he acts as the immediate cause in all the operations of nature. " Certain it is,” (said the great Lord Bacon,) “ that God worketh no“thing in nature but by second causes : and “ if we would have it otherwise believed, it “ is mere imposture, as it were in favour “ towards God; and nothing else but to " offer to the Author of truth the unclean " sacrifice of a lie.” *
Chain of Causes.
Observation teaches us, that there is in the greater, is the
* Adv. of Learning, p. 52
world a chain of causes,' each depending on the other, and all subordinate to the power of the Creator. To follow this chain of causes, either by descending from the greater to the less, or by ascending from the less to the
business of philosophy; and though the several dependencies in this grand machine may in some cases be either too refined for our comprehension, or too remote for our observation; yet, so far as the system of nature is intelligible by us, it must be considered as other machines. In a watch, the first spring of motion is very remote from the index which points to the hour, but yet connected with it all the way by the successive contact of wheels and pinions, which act as so many immediate causes to one another, and all of them dependent on the elastic force of the spring. If you ask, what is elasticity? you get above the proyince of the watch-maker into that of the philosopher; the former of whom may answer all the ends of his profession, and be a very good watch-maker, without being able to assign the physical cause of elasticity,
In the human frame there is the same kind of dependence as in other machines. When a vein is opened in the arm, and the blood
flows out, the physician argues, that the venal blood is propelled from the extreme parts by the force of the arterial blood, which again is projected by the heart, which is kept in motion by the lungs, whose respiration depends upon the air. Yet, after all, this mechanism is of no effect without the muscular motion from a principle of life; which consideration brings us, at one more step, to the union of the soul with the body; a subject above the reach of the physician, and not necessary to his profession; insomuch that the Lecturer, who in Surgeons-hall should be bringing it in at every turn, in order to account for the construction and mechanism of the body, would be thought to have very widely mistaken the nature of his subject.
Thus also in the macrocosm, or world at large, we may be able to trace an effect through a series of causes, till we come to one at which we must stop, because philosophy will carry us no farther. When the torrent descends from the mountains, we go for the immediate cause of it to the rain, which rain is supplied by the clouds, which clouds are formed of vapours, which vapours are made buoyant by the air, and raised by the