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days. If then these revolutions have been eternal, the number of years during which they have continued is infinite, and therefore the number of days during which they have continued, is 10950 times infinite. But this conclusion is absurd, since one infinite cannot be greater than another. The present motion of the heavenly bodies, therefore, cannot be eternal. It has been objected to this argument, that no absurdity is implied in the assertion, that one infinite exceeds another. We know that matter is infinitely divisible, that is, a small particle of matter is capable of endless division, as well as a large one, yet the latter is acknowledged to be greater than the former. But there is no ana
A simpler illustration of this absurdity may be thus given: If the succession of men bas been eternal,—that is, if the series is infinite, their eyes will be twice infinite, and their fingers ten times infinite. The absurdity of this conclusion is apparent.
I hare known some eminent mathematicians who could never be satisfied of the conclusiveness of this argument, from an impression, that it is perfectly possible to conceive one infinite greater than another. It is however certain, that the necessary equality of all infinites admits of algebraic demonstration.
Thus, the intercept between the circle and the tangent, of a line drawn from the centre to any point in the latter lying without the circle, is cat by the peripheries of all the circles described from centres taken in that radius prodaced, which is perpendicular to the aforesaid tangent. But these points may be taken ad infinitum ; the intercept, therefore, is infinitely divisible.-See Elrington's Euclid, B. 3. P. 16. cor. 2.
logy between the composition of matter and the succession of time. The infinite divisibility of matter depends on this, that though a particle be assigned of the least apparent magnitude, a still less particle may be conceived. But in time, a moment is the least portion that can be imagined, and is, therefore, the unit of duration. Now, an infinite series of units involves a contradiction. This objection, then, does not invalidate the original argument.
Again, our assertion may be thus established. In considering any moment of time which has passed, we may advance these propositions, “ that moment of time was once present,” and, “ there was a period, at which it was yet fu“ ture.” Hence, there was a period at which all the moments together were yet future; that is, there was a period at which all time was yet future. This never could be true of that which is eternal.
It may be objected, that there are beings, as angels, the duration of whose existence shall never cease, and thus a duration whose parts are successive, is allowed to be eternal. But it may be replied, the cases are quite different. The absurdity in asserting the eternity of the world in its present state, consists in this, that the supposed infinite duration is now completed. In the case of angels, the assertion made is, that it never shall be completed. It is true, that
saints shall never cease to exist, but it is not true that they have already lived through an eternal duration. We may conceive an endless addition of parts yet to be, but we cannot imagine an infinite series of parts whose being is actually past.
(2.) The supposition of the world being eternal, is overthrown by the fact, that matter is, of itself, incapable of producing motion.
Constant observation proves, that matter cannot undergo change from rest to motion, without some external impulse. It is inconceivable, therefore, how the motion we observe in our system was produced, unless it be acknowledged to have been communicated by a superior Being
(3.) The novelty of the world is evinced by its histories.
If the world were eternal, it is surprising that there are no histories extant, which lead us farther back than the era established in the books of Moses. The Chinese indeed have laid claim to a higher antiquity, but there is reason to believe their claim is without foundation. The imperfect state of arts and sciences, too, and their late discovery, confirm this argument. Thus Ptolemy could get intelligence of very few eclipses before his time, a phenomenon which could not have happened without being observed and recorded. From these arguments our assertion, it is hoped, is fully established, that the world could not have existed in its present state from all eternity.
a See Dr. Bently's Sermons against Atheism and Deism.
See Bishop Cumberland's Remarks on Sanchoniatho's Phoenician History, and Burnet's Archæl. Philos. c. 4, 5, 6.
2o. The world could not have fallen into its present state by chance.a
This needs little proof. It is impossible to conceive, that chance should have produced a regular system of things, and upheld that system without the least alteration. The constancy of the celestial motions and the arrangement of the parts of the earth, the structure of insects and the body of man, are so fitted each to its several use, that it is absurd to ascribe their formation to any but an intelligent cause.
It has, however, been objected, that insects arise from corrupted matter, by the action of the heat of the
and natural causes can produce such effects, there is no difficulty in conceiving that men may have been formed from properly disposed matter under a peculiar aspect of the heavens. In answer to this ob jection, it is sufficient to observe, that the assertion on which it is grounded is false. For these insects are produced by the ordinary method of generation, the heat of the sun being no otherwise concerned, than in hatching the eggs which the parent insects have left behind.
* I should be content to give up the question, if the abettors of this system could explain themselves without contradiction. Chance is that which is governed by no rules of acting. Regularity is that which accords with certain rules of acting. The doctrine, therefore, amounts to this :- That which has no rules of action produces that which is governed by rules of acting! The idea is so ridiculous, that it is only amazing how a rational being could admit it into his * This plainly follows from the accurate account of Malpighi de formatione pulli in ovo, in oper. Lond. 1687.
To conclude this argument; since the world could not give being to itself, nor have existed from eternity in its present state, nor fallen into that state by chance, it must have been created in time by a supreme mind.
3. The existence of God is proved by the fact, that miracles have been performed.
When men have performed actions plainly beyond the course of nature, and by means, of themselves inadequate to that end, they must have been assisted by a power capable of controlling it. Now it is plain that no power can controvert the laws of nature, but the being who made those laws, and this being is God. Of this kind were the miracles wrought by Moses and our Saviour, by means of a mere word, containing no inherent efficiency to produce them, and therefore rendered effectual by a superior