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tary agents and intelligent beings within the scope of our observation. We follow up an analogy between these and the vast manifestations exhibited in the order of nature; and from this analogy we attempt, however inadequately, to express our limited and imperfect conceptions of the infinite and incomprehensible moral cause of the universal order and system of natural causes.
The same remark applies to the further inference of the distinct existence of the source of moral causation, our whole notion of which seems to depend on our idea of the relation of moral causation to mind, in the cases within our experience. The metaphysical notions which seem to be involved will, I believe, be found to resolve themselves into the same simple consideration of the use of terms applied by analogy from what we experience in ourselves and in beings about us This I conceive will, on reflection, be found the clue which will safely guide us through at least a large portion of the intricacies of the subject. Considerations of this kind, however, are vitally necessary to the argument of natural theology; and this portion of the subject, involving what has been termed “the psychological argument,” is beyond question most essential to an exact and philosophical discussion, though certainly not placed in a sufficiently prominent light, if regarded at all, by some of the most excellent and popular writers*.
* See Note G.
The Divine Supremacy.
We may here observe further, that if we retain the popular language, and speak of the first cause and secondary causes, we must, at all events, bear in mind that the term “first," is relative. We cannot extend our conclusions beyond our evidence. It is entirely from our investigation of “secondary,” or physical causes, that we can recognise the sublime moral cause which ordered them all. It is thus manifest that we can properly attach no other idea to the term “first cause,” than one which is simply relative to these “secondary causes.” Natural theology cannot lead us to any higher inference. Nor is it any reproach to this science that it does not enable us to proceed beyond the limits of its own province; nor to answer the question sometimes propounded in this form of illustration: “ The examination of a watch leads us to infer a watchmaker, but it cannot answer the further question, who made the watchmaker* ?" Yet this question has been made the subject of much misapprehension and objection, mainly, as appears to me, from want of reflection and caution in the use of words; or, perhaps after all, rather from some feeling of offence taken at the
* For an acute and original statement of this point (which has called forth much animadversion,) the reader is referred to Mr. Combe's System of Phrenology, vol. ii., p. 592.
mere form and terms in which the illustration has been propounded.
Throughout the utmost extent of our investigation of physical causes, we trace the proofs of that moral volition which is prior and superior to them all; proofs exhibited alike throughout all the vastness and all the minuteness of the universe ; increasing and augmenting in overwhelming multiplicity, with no other limit than that imposed on the extent of our observations and inductions. As far as science has reached, and in whatever direction, we still discover this same moral cause; transcendant in a supremacy co-extensive with the creation ; sole in dominion to all the extent of known worlds; and continually exhibited to us one and the same, by every new extension of knowledge, every fresh incursion of science into hitherto unknown regions. And this constitutes our inductive ground of belief in what we term the supremacy of the same one moral cause and source of the entire order of physical causes; the first relatively to them ; a Divine power supreme to us and to all created beings.
The Divine Unity.
The unity of the great designing Intelligence has been commonly inferred from the observed unity of the design. But objections, as to the insufficiency of the proof, have been adduced. Such objections, however, it appears to me, can only be entertained from a want of that comprehensive study of physical philosophy which alone can convey any adequate conception of the vast and overwhelming evidences of that unity of plan and harmony of purpose which pervades the utmost limits of the known creation.
Let it be observed that the belief in the Divine unity has advanced with the advance of sound inductive science. The ancient philosophers, though they collected facts, were wanting in comprehensive induction. They reached to just conclusions within the narrow limits of certain isolated classes of facts. But they had no principles of analogy to connect one class of facts with another. They imagined nature in general to be given up to almost total anarchy; and the universe, an arena for the perpetual combat of conflicting elements. With this deficiency in their apprehension of the relations of physical causes, it is hardly matter of surprise that they admitted a plurality of gods, or an unlimited number of powers and agencies, whether subordinate or independent.
But the introduction of a more just philosophy has entirely exploded all such vain imaginations. The inductive method has applied the key to open to us a view of the sublime but simple order of natural causes. And from that universal and unceasing unity of plan in the laws of physical action has been derived our rational proof of the unity of the Deity.
Nevertheless it has been urged that unity of plan
might result from the co-operation of several minds, powers, or agencies*. But to suppose many causes, when one will suffice, is clearly unphilosophical ; and besides this, the objection, however plausible, when stated merely in an abstract form, will vanish the moment we reflect on the actual case of the material creation. When we consider, especially on the grounds adduced in the previous portion of these remarks, the immense multiplicity of physical arrangements, all so admirably harmonizing together; the infinite combination of adjustments, each arranged in exact relation to the other, as well as complete within itself; we cannot but feel overwhelmed with the conviction that to one Omniscient mind alone can be correctly attributed such infinite forethought, and such boundless comprehensiveness of arrangement.
Objections to the Study of Secondary Causes.
To the neglect of such simple distinctions as those we have been engaged in illustrating, and from misconception (mainly caused by ambiguity of terms) as to the nature of physical causes, and the relation in which they stand to the Divine Intelligence which has constituted them, may be traced most of those objections and prejudices which prevail with regard to the tendency of physical studies and the inquiry into secondary causes.
* See Irons On Final Causes, p. 134.