S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
These duplicates in those parts of the body, without which a man might have very well subsisted, though not so well as with them, are a plain demonstration of an all-wise Contriver, as those more numerous copyings which are found among the vessels of the same body are evident demonstrations that they could not be the work of chance. This argument receives additional strength if we apply it to every animal and insect within our knowledge, as well as to those numberless living creatures that are objects too minute for a human eye: and if we consider how the several species in this whole world of life resemble one another in very many particulars, so far as is convenient for their respective states of existence, it is much more probable that a hundred millions of dice should be casually thrown a hundred millions of times in the same number than that the body of any single animal should be produced by the fortuitous concourse of matter. And that the like chance should arise in innumerable instances requires a degree of credulity that is not under the direction of common sense. We may carry this consideration yet farther if we reflect on the two sexes in every living species, with their resemblances to each other, and those particular distinctions that were necessary for the keeping up of this great world of life.
If there were beings who lived in the depths of the earth, in dwellings adorned with statues and paintings, and everything which is possessed in rich abundance by those whom men esteem fortunate; and if these beings could receive tidings of the might and majesty of the gods, and could then emerge from their hidden dwellings through the open fissures of the earth to the places which we inhabit; if they could suddenly behold the earth and the sea and the vault of heaven; could recognize the expanse of the cloudy firmament, and the might of the winds of heaven, and admire the sun in his majesty, beauty, and radiant effulgence; and lastly, when night veiled the earth in darkness, they could behold the starry heavens, the changing moon, and the stars rising and setting in the unvarying course ordained from eternity, they would surely exclaim, There are gods! and such great things must be the work of their hands.
An eternal sterility must have possessed the world where all things had been fixed and fastened everlastingly with the adamantine chains of specific gravity, if the Almighty had not spoken and said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit, after its kind: and it was so.
The order and beauty of the inanimate parts of the world, the discernible ends of them, the meliority above what was necessary to be, do evince by a reflex argument, that it is the workmanship, not of blind mechanism, or blinder chance, but of an intelligent and benign agent.
That all these distances, motions, and quantities of matter should be so accurately and harmoniously adjusted in this great variety of our system, is above the fortuitous hits of blind material causes, and must certainly flow from that eternal fountain of wisdom.
We are raised by science to an understanding of the infinite wisdom and goodness which the Creator has displayed in all His works. Not a step can we take in any direction without perceiving the most extraordinary traces of design; and the skill everywhere conspicuous is calculated in so vast a proportion of instances to promote the happiness of living creatures, and especially of ourselves, that we feel no hesitation in concluding that if we knew the whole scheme of Providence, every part would appear to be in harmony with a plan of absolute benevolence. Independently, however, of this most consoling inference, the delight is inexpressible of being able to follow the marvellous works of the Great Author of nature, and to trace the unbounded power and exquisite skill which are exhibited by the most minute as well as the mightiest parts of His system.
Nothing can act before it will be. The first man was not, and therefore could not make himself to be. For anything to produce itself is to act; if it acted before it was, it was then something and nothing at the same time; it then had a being before it had a being; it acted when it brought itself into being. How could it act without a being, without it was? So that if it were the cause of itself, it must be before itself as well as after itself; it was before it was; it was as a cause before it was as an effect.
Let us carry ourselves back in spirit to the mysterious week, to the teeming work-days of the Creator, as they rose in vision before the eye of the inspired historian of the generations of the heavens and the earth, in the days that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. And who that hath watched their ways with an understanding heart could contemplate the filial and loyal bee, the home-building, wedded, and divorceless sparrow, and, above all, the manifoldly intelligent ant-tribes, with their commonwealths and confederacies, their warriors and miners, the husband-folk that fold in their tiny flocks on the honeyed leaf, and the virgin sisters with the holy instincts of maternal love, detached, and in selfless purity, and not say to himself, Behold the shadow of approaching humanity, the sun arising from behind, in the kindling morning of the creation!
Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Aids to Reflection, App. xxxvi.
That divers limners at a distance, without either copy or design, should draw the same picture to an indistinguishable exactness, is more conceivable than that matter, which is so diversified, should frame itself so unerringly, according to the idea of its kind.
Why, it will be said, may we not suppose the world has always continued as it is; that is, that there has been a constant succession of finite beings appearing and disappearing on the earth from all eternity? I answer, Whatever is supposed to have occasioned this constant succession, exclusive of an intelligent cause, will never account for the undeniable marks of design visible in all finite beings. Nor is the absurdity of supposing a contrivance without a contriver diminished by this imaginary succession; but rather increased, by being repealed at every step of the series.
Besides, an eternal succession of finite beings involves in it a contradiction, and is therefore plainly impossible. As the supposition is made to get rid of the idea of any one having existed from eternity, each of the beings in succession must have begun in time: but the succession itself is eternal. We have then the succession of beings infinitely earlier than any being in the succession; or, in other words, a series of beings running on ad infinitum before it reached any particular being, which is absurd. From these considerations it is manifest there must be some eternal Being, or nothing could ever have existed; and since the beings which we behold bear in their whole structure evident marks of wisdom and design, it is equally certain that he who formed them is a wise and intelligent agent.
Whoever considers the study of anatomy I believe will never be an atheist; the frame of mans body and coherence of his parts being so strange and paradoxical that I hold it to be the greatest miracle of nature.
It is suitable to the magnificent harmony of the universe that the species of creatures should, by gentle degrees, ascend upward from us toward his perfection, as we see they gradually descend from us downward.
We cannot look around us without being struck by the surprising variety and multiplicity of the sources of Beauty of Creation, produced by form, or by colour, or by both united. It is scarcely too much to say, that every object in nature, animate or inanimate, is in some manner beautiful: so largely has the Creator provided for our pleasures through the sense of sight. It is rare to see anything which is in itself distasteful, or disagreeable to the eye, or repulsive: while on this, however, they are alone entitled to pronounce who have cultivated the faculty in question; since, like every other quality of mind as of body, it is left to ourselves to improve that of which the basis has been given to us, as the means of cultivating it have been placed in our power.
May I not also say, that this beauty has been conferred in wisdom, as in beneficence? It is one of the revelations which the Creator has made of Himself to man. He was to be admired and loved: it was through the demonstrations of His character that we could alone see Him and judge of Him: and in thus inducing or compelling us to admire and love the visible works of His hand, He has taught us to love and adore Himself. This is the great lesson which the beauty of Creation teaches, in addition to the pleasure which it affords; but, for this, we must cultivate that simple and surely amiable piety which learns to view the Father of the Universe in all the works of that universe. Such is the lesson taught by that certainly reasonable philosophy which desires to unite what men have too much laboured to dissever; a state of mind which is easily attainable, demands no effort of feeling beyond that of a simple and good heart, and needs not diverge into a weak and censurable enthusiasm. Much therefore is he to be pitied or condemned who has not cultivated this faculty in this manner; who is not forever looking round on creation in feeling and in search of those beauties; that be may thus bend in gratitude and love before the Author of all Beauty.
It became him who created them to set them in order: and if he did so, it is unphilosophical to seek for any other origin of the world, or to pretend that it might arise out of a chaos by the mere laws of nature.
Let us then consider the works of God, and observe the operations of his hands: let us take notice of and admire his infinite wisdom and goodness in the formation of them. No creature in this sublunary world is capable of so doing beside man; yet we are deficient herein: we content ourselves with the knowledge of the tongues, and a little skill in philology, or history perhaps, and antiquity, and neglect that which to me seems more material.I mean natural history and the works of the creation.
John Ray: The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of the Creation.
There is no greater, at least no more palpable and convincing, argument of the existence of a Deity than the admirable art and wisdom that discovers itself in the make and constitution, the order and disposition, the ends and uses, of all the parts and members of this stately fabric of heaven and earth. For if in the works of art, as for example a curious edifice or machine, counsel, design, and direction to an end, appearing in the whole frame, and in all the several pieces of it, do necessarily infer the being and operation of some intelligent architect or engineer, why shall not also in the works of nature, that grandeur and magnificence, that excellent contrivance for beauty, order, use, etc., which is observable in them, wherein they do as much transcend the effects of human art as infinite power and wisdom exceeds finite, infer the existence and efficiency of an Omnipotent and All-wise Creator?
Should he find upon one single sheet of parchment an oration written full of profound sense, adorned with elegant phrase, the wit of man could not persuade him that this was done by the temerarious dashes of an unguided pen.
To run the world back to its first original, and view nature in its cradle, to trace the outgoings of the Ancient of days in the first instance of his creative power, is a research too great for mortal inquiry.
How often might a man after he had jumbled a set of letters in a bag fling them out upon the ground before they would fall into an exact poem, yea, or so much as make a good discourse in prose! And may not a little book be as easily made by chance as this great volume of the world? How long might a man be in sprinkling colours upon a canvas with a careless hand before they could happen to make the exact picture of a man? And is a man easier made by chance than his picture? How long might twenty thousand blind men, which should be sent out from the several remote parts of England, wander up and down before they would all meet in Salisbury Plains, and fall into rank and file in the exact order of an army? And yet this is much more easy to be imagined than how the innumerable blind parts of matter should rendezvous themselves into a world.