Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

away, is because of the repercussion of other atoms, that CHAP, when they once begin to stir, they receive such knocks

II. as make them quiet in their places. Now this cannot hold in the bodies contiguous to this space; for both those bodies are more fuid, and so there is no such 'knocking of particles to keep them at rest : but which is more, those which are contiguous have nothing at all to hinder them from motion, and so those particles will necessarily remove into that empty space where there is no impediment of their motion, and so the next atoms to those must remove, because that space wherein the other were is made empty by their removal; and so the next, and so on, till not only the air, but the whole mass of the earth will, on supposition of such a vacuity, be dissolved into its first particles, which will all mutiny in the several bodies wherein they are, and never rest till they come to that empty space, where they may again rendezvous together. So dangerous is the news of liber, ty, or of an empty space, to these democratical particles of the universe! Neither can I see how a disseminated vacuity can salve the difficulty; for those particles of the most solid bodies being in continual motion, and the ground of their union being repercussion, it thence follows, that, towards that part where the disseminated vacuum is, the particles meeting with no such strokes may fairly take their leaves of the bodies they are in, and so one succeed in the place of another, till the configura. tion of the whole be altered; and consequently different appearances and effects may be caused in the same bodies, though it results from seminal principles. So that, according to the atomical principles, no rational account can be given of those effects which are seen in na

This Dionysius in Eusebius urgeth against the Euseb. Atomists, that from the same principles, without evident Præp. Ev. reason given for it, they make of the same uniform mat-Ed. Par. ter some things conspicuous to sense, others not; some short-lived, others extremely long-lived. Tíva tportov μιάς έσης και της αυτής απασών εσίας, και της αυτής άφθάρτου φύσεως, πλην των μεγεθών, ώς φασι, και των σχημάτων, τα μέν έξι θεία και ακήρατα και αιώνια, ως αυτοί φήσαιεν αν, σώματα, ή μακραίωνά γε κατά τον έτως ονομάσαντα, φαινόμενά τε και αφανή; What ground can there be assigned of so vast a difference between things, if they all be of the same nature, and differ only in size and shape ? saith that excellent person, who there with a great deal of eloquence lays open the folly of the atomical philosophy, Θαυμασή γε των ατόμων και δημο- Ib. p. 776.

ture.

[ocr errors]

III.

Βσοκ κρατία, δεξιουμένων τε αλλήλας των φίλων και περιπλεκομένων, εις

μίαν τε κατασκηνούν συνοικίαν επειγομένων. It is a rare democracy of atoms, saith he, where the friendly atoms meet and embrace each other, and from thenceforward live in the closest society together.

2. Not only the variety, but the exact order and beauty of the world, is a thing unaccountable by the atomical

hypothesis. Were the whole world still a Hesiod's chaos, Laert. 1. x. (from the consideration of which Diogenes Laertius tells

us Epicurus began to philosophize,) we might probably believe an agitation of particles (supposing matter created) might settle it in such a confused manner; but that there should be nothing else but a blind impetus of atoms to produce those vast and most regular motions of the heavenly bodies, to order the passage of the sun for so great conveniency of nature, and for the alternate succession of the seasons of the year; which should cut such channels for the ocean, and keep that vast body of the water (whose surface is higher than the earth) from overflowing it; which should furnish the earth with such seminal and prolific principles, as to provide food and nourishment for those animals which live upon it, and furnish out every thing necessary for the comfort and delight of man's life; to believe, I say, that all these things came only from a blind and fortuitous concourse of atoms, is the most prodigious piece of credulity and folly that human nature is subject to. But this part which concerns the order and beauty of the parts of the universe, and the argument thence, that it could be no blind fortuitous principle, but

an infinitely wise God, hath been so fully and judiciously Dr. H. More handled by a learned person already, that I shall rather Antidote

choose to refer the reader to his discourse, than insist any against Atheism,

inore upon

3. The production of mankind is a thing which the Atomists are most shamefully puzzled with, as well as the formation of the internal parts of man's body; of which I have already spoken in the precedent chapter. It would pity one to see what lamentable shifts the Atomists are put to, to find out a way for the production of mankind, viz. that our teeming mother the earth at last cast forlh some kind of bags like wombs upon the surface of the earth, and these by degrees breaking, at last came out children, which were nourished by a kind of juice of the earth like milk, by which they were brought up till they came to be men. Oh what will not Atheists believe rather than a Deity and Providence! But lest we should

it.

part ii.

II.

seem to wrong the Atomists, hear what Censorinus saith CHAP of Epicurus; Is enim credidit limo calefactos uteros nescio

... quos radicibus terræ cohærentes, primum increvisse, et in- Censor. de fantibus, ex se editis ingenitum lactis humorem, natura mi- Die Nat. nistrante præbuisse ; quos ita educatos et adultos, genus C. 2. humanum propagasse. But because Lucretius may be thought to speak more impartially in the case, how rarely doth he describe it! Crescebant uteri terræ radicibus apti,

Lucret. I. v.
Quos ubi tempore maturo patefecerit ætas

v. 806.
Infantum, fugiens humorem, aurasque petissens,
Convertebat ibi natura foramina terre,
Et succum venis cogebat fundere apertis
Consimilem lactis ; sicut nunc fæmina quæque
Quum peperit dulci repletur lacte, quod omnis
Impetus in mammas convertitur ille'alimenti:
Terra cibum pueris, vestem vapor, herba cubile

Præbebat, multa et molli lanugine abundans.
Had Lucretius been only a poet, this might have passed
for a handsomely described fable; but to deliver it for a
piece of philosophy, 'makes it the greater mythology:
That man's body was formed out of the earth, we believe,
because we have reason so to do; but that the earth
should cast forth such folliculi, as he expresseth it, and
that men should be brought up in such a way as he de-
scribes, deserves a place among the most incredible and
poetie fables. But if poets must be credited, how much
more like a man did he speak, who told us,

Natus homo est; sive hunc divino semine fecit
Ille opifex rerum, Mundi melioris origo;
Sive recens tellus, seductaque nuper ab alto
Æthere, cognati retinebat semina coeli;
Quam satus Iapeto mistam fluvialibus undis,

Finxit in effigiem moderantum cuncta Deorum,
Thus have we considered the Epicurean hypothesis,
both as to the principles on which it stands, and the
suitableness of it to the phenomena of the universe; and
I suppose now there cannot be the least shadow of reason
found, from the atomical philosophy, to make us at all
question that account of the origin of the universe, which
ascribes it not to the fortuitous concourse of atoms, but
to the infinite wisdom of a Deity. I conclude then this
discourse of the Epicurean hypothesis with the words of
Automedon in the Greek epigram.

Ovid. Metam. l. i. V. 78.

XVIII.

BOOK
III.

Ταύτ' ειδώς σοφός ίσθι, μάτην δ' 'Επίκουρος έασον

Πά το κενόν ζητείν, και τίνες αι μονάδες. Antholog

Learn to be wise; let Epicurus chase 1. i. c. 15.

To find his atoms, and his empty space. I come now to the last hypothesis mentioned, which undertakes to give an account of the origin of the universe, from the mere mechanical laws of motion and matter; which is the hypothesis of the late famous French philosopher, Mr. Des Cartes. For although there be as much reason as charity to believe that he never intended his hypothesis as a foundation of atheism, having made it so much his business to assert the existence of a Deity, and immateriality of the soul; yet because it is apt to be abused to that end by persons atheistically disposed, because of his ascribing so much to the power of matter, we shall therefore so far consider it, as it undertakes to give

an account of the origin of the universe without a Deity. Cartesii His hypothesis therefore is briefly this. He takes it for Princip.

granted that all the matter of the world was at first of p. iii. art. 46, &c.

one uniform nature, divisible into innumerable parts, and divided into

many,

which were all in motion : from hence he supposeth, 1. That all the matter, of which the universe is composed, was at first divided into equal particles of an indifferent size, and that they had all such a motion as is now

found in the world. 2. That all those particles were not at first spherical, because many such little globes joined together will not fill up a continued space, but that of whatever figure they were at first, they would by continual motion become spherical, because they would have various circular motions; for seeing that at first they were moved with so great force that one particle would be disjoined from the other, the same force continuing would serve to cut off all angles which are supposed in them, by their frequent occursions against each other; and so when the angles were cut off, they would become spherical. 3. He supposeth that no space is left empty; but when those round particles being joined, leave some intervals between them, there are some more subtle particles of matter, which are ready to fill up those void spaces which arise from those angles which were cut off from the other particles to make them spherical; which fragments of particles are so little, and acquire thereby such a celerity of motion, that by the force of that they will be divided into innumerable little fragments, and so will fill up all those spaces which other particles could not enter in at. 4. That those particles, which fill up the

[ocr errors]

intervals between the spherical ones, have not all of them CHAP. the same celerity of motion, because some of them are more undivided than others are, which filled up the space between three globular particles when their angles were cut off ; and therefore those particles must necessarily have very angular figures, which are unfit for motion, and thence it comes to pass that such particles easily stick together, and transfer the greatest part of their motion upon those other particles which are less, and therefore have a swifter motion; and because these particles are to pass through such triangular spaces which lie in the midst of three globular particles touching each other, therefore he supposeth them, as to their breadth and depth, to be of a triangular figure ; but because these particles are somewhat long, and the globular particles, through which they pass with so swift motion, ħave their rotation about the poles of the heavens, thence he supposes that those triangular particles come to be wreathed. Now, from these things being thus supposed, Des Cartes hath ingenuously, and consonantly to his principles, undertaken to give an account of the most noted phenomena of the world; and those three sorts of particles mentioned he makes to be his three elements, The first is that subtle matter which was supposed to arise from the cutting off the angles of the greater particles; and of this he tells us the sun and fixed stars consist, as those particles of that subtle matter being in continual motion have made those several vortices or ethereal whirlpools. The second element consists of the spherical particles themselves, which make up the heavens : out of the third element, which are those wreathed particles, he gives an account of the formation of the earth, and planets, and comets; and from all of thein, by the help of those common affections of maiter, size, figure, motion, &c. he undertakes to give an account of the phenomena of the world. How far his principles do conduce to the giving men's minds satisfaction as to the particular phenomena of nature, is not here our business to enquire, but only how far these principles can give an account of the origin of the universe without a Deity. And that it cannot give a satisfactory account how the world was framed without a Deity, appears by the two grand suppositions on which all his elements depend; both which cannot be from any other principle but God. Those are, 1. The existence of matter in the world, which we have already proved cannot be independent on God, and necessarily existent; and therefore supposing that matter ex

« VorigeDoorgaan »