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tion, between countries the most widely separated from each other.
I contend, therefore, that the slightest outline of the constitution of the natural world conveys a proof of the most comprehensive wisdom : which having determined upon the existence of a habitable system, like ours, according to a certain plan, obtained the purposes required by the simplest conceivable means : and arranged originally the various parts in a regular and dependent order, which should neither be subject to accident, nor require interposition. Indeed, there is sound reason to believe that the argument here touched upon may hereafter be carried to an extent, not only far beyond that to which I have limited it, but beyond that which is compatible with the present state of our knowledge. Every year's experience in natural philosophy diminishes the number of those bodies which are necessarily considered as simple, because they have never been hitherto decomposed, and of course diminishes at the same time the original principles employed in the constitution of the universe. The argument is progressive; it is not merely co-extensive with our knowledge, but extending with it. The opinion is not only justifiable, but philosophical, that, notwithstanding the comprehensive provisions with which we are already familiar, we are not yet acquainted with half the economy really employed in the structure of the world. And yet, from the result of our present inquiries, it appears, that “ a few undecompounded bodies, which may perhaps ultimately be resolved into still fewer elements, or which
be different forms of the same material, constitute the whole of our tangible universe of things.”
It might be expected, however, that not the inanimate world alone, but those for whose reception it was fitted, and to whose use it is adapted, should be subject to their Creator's regulation, and conform to laws of the same general and comprehensive nature. This regu
* Davy's Elem. of Chem. Phil. p. 503.
lation, indeed, which the right government of the universe appears to require, the free agency of man seems to forbid, and to be inconsistent, both in reason and experience, with the interference which would be necessary to reduce mankind to an uniform course of action. I think it will nevertheless appear, that there are laws equally universal in their operation, if not equally obvious with those already alluded to, which confine within certain bounds even the animate creation, and are not transgressed by the free agency of man himself. A stronger evidence of omniscient wisdom will hardly be demanded, than such a provision would afford : I shall therefore, with less hesitation, endeavour to illustrate it, though the nature of the subject will
carry me into a somewhat prolix discussion.
On the Design of the Creator in regard to the
Existence of Mankind upon Earth.
BEFORE we can decide upon the wisdom of the Creator's provisions respecting man, we must necessarily consider his design in bringing him into existence ; which appears to be, that he might exercise, according to his opportunities in his progress through the world, the various powers of reason and virtue with which he is endowed.
The proof which reason furnishes of this design, without appealing to higher sources of information, is this, that unless the Creator did propose such an object to the existence of mankind upon earth, he has bestowed upon
them needless and superfluous faculties, both moral and intellectual. But to imagine this with regard to man, would be to acquiesce in a belief with respect to the most exalted inhabitant of the earth, which is contradicted by all our researches into the inferior orders of the creation, and diametrically opposite to the general analogy of nature.
If we look to the inanimate world, there is scarcely a part of which we cannot distinguish the object, either general or particular, subservient to the various wants of living beings.
Among all the properties of things, we discover no inutility, no superfluity. Voluntary motion is denied to the vegetable creation, because mechanical motion answers the purpose ; which raises, in some plants, a defence against the wind, which expands others towards the sun, inclines them to the support they require, and diffuses their seed. If we ascend higher towards irrational animals, we find them possessed of powers exactly suited to the rank