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SERM. The first I shall mention is the animal life, II. of which we see a numberless variety ; bodies
growing up from very small beginnings, by imperceptible degrees, to a large bulk, and animated by a principle, which is endued with sense and self-motion. The structure of animal bodies is curious, consisting of parts exquisitely fine, and most artificially disposed for receiving nourishment and a gradual increase; but above all, the faculties of perception and spontaneous motion, are never to be accounted for, without the interposal of an intelligent Cause.
Some mechanic philosophers, even who profefs to believe a Deity, have made too near approaches to Atheism; at least, too much serv'd its cause, by, pretending to explain all the Phænomena of the world, without any
divine interposition. But they appear to be very bungling world-makers, and their hypotheses, not only defective, failing in a tolerably fair folution of many very important and very common appearances; but some of their effential principles have been demonstrated to be false. Especially in the point before us, their schemes are most remarkably defeated; for they have never been able to give, I do not say, a certain and satisfying, but even a plausible account of the animal constitution, in any state of its existence, or any step of its progress, from its
commencement to its perfection, especially, Serm. not of the sentient and self-moving powers.
II. The formation of the fetus is, as the scripture justly calls it, a work curious and wonderful, according to a divine model; its members were all writ in the volume of God's book, that is, the composition of all its parts exactly answers to his designing idea. Not to insist on the modern discoveries, whereby it seems probable that the nutrition of an animal, in the dark recess appointed for its first abode, and where its existence has been generally thought to commence, is no more than extending and enlarging upon the flender pre-existent, vital ftamen ; (which leads us still more clearly to the acknowledgment of a mighty creating hand, the wife author of nature ;) not to infist on this, it is evident to an attentive mind, that no general impulse or motion impress’d upon matter, according to mechanical laws, can give us the least tolerable pretence for 'imagining, that, in the first stage of its being, an animal cou'd have been produc'd without a special intelligent direction.
The notions of the Epicurean Atheists, concerning the origin of animals, and man in particular, are so ridiculously absurd, that it is fcarce decent enough to repeat them. They profess to imagine, that as numberless atoms,
Ser M. after moving fortuitously through a succeffive II. infinite duration, in an infinite void, at last,
various unguided rencounters, accidentally jumbled themselves into this terraqueous globe, and these beautiful celestial spheres ; so the earth having been long barren, yet still retain, ing the motive quality of its parts, (no body knows from whence derived) and therefore labouring with a strong actual intestine motion, in process of time brought forth monstrous unthap'd births, which had some little likeness to living things of the several kinds, and it
may be fome low beginnings of life which could not long sublist for want of proper vehiclęs ; at length, after many imperfect effays, growing more skilful in the plastic art, (strange how that should come to pafs !) the produc'd finish'd complete animals. If one should ask how it happens in all ages of the world, of which we have any historical monuments, there are not the least footsteps of such generation : No man ever saw, or pretends to have seen animals of any kind, perfect or imperfect, issue from the teeming womb of mother earth : what can the reason be according to this philosopher ? Is it that she became barren by age? This is hard to conceive, considering that she came to her prolific virtue so late as after an eternity was past; and that the
constituent atoms had preserv'd their vigour in SerM. an unwearied dance thro’numberless ages. Or II. did she wisely (but who made her wise?) resign her fertility, when the settled law (by what direction ?) took place for the more orderly propagation of the species ? Again, if it be enquired in what condition these earthborn animals appeared ; did they come to the world in a state of maturity, and of different sexes, ready to increase and multiply? This is the account given in the Mosaic history of the creation, but must be resolv'd as it is most reasonably in that history, into the mighty command of the Creator as the sole cause. But if the animals were thrust out in infancy, (which the Epicureans choose to say, that their formation in every step of its progress may look the more like random work) the question then will be, how were they cared for, how defended in that weak and helpless state? Here the most precarious suppositions are heap'd up very unphilosophically, a several hypothesis to solve every particular difficulty; too plainly shewing, that philosophers of this sort will admit of any thing, be it ever so absurd, rather than a Deity; and having resolved in their hearts that they will not see God, they indulge their imaginations in the most unbounded liberty of forming pretences, whereby they may harden themselves in unbelief.
SERM. Since I have mentioned some of these in. II. ferior appearances in the animal kingdom, I
shall take notice of one more which strongly evinces intelligent direction, that is, the confervation of the distinct species, by a regular propagation. Is it not a furprizing thing, and to them who deny a governing wisdom in the universe, utterly inexplicable, that for so many ages wherein we have any knowledge of animals being in the world, unerring nature has followed one invariable rule in their
production?. The several kinds remain as distinct as ever they were, they have never run into .confufion, nor mix'd with each other. We see no such thing as Syrens and Centaurs,which are only the creatures of human imagination; and
yet if we exclude ruling wisdom, they might have a chance for actual existence as well as intire men, or intire horses, intire women, or intire fishes, But there has never once such a monster happened as a human face joined to a brutal body, or so much as the head of a bull placed upon the neck of an ass. Nay, so true is nature to her rule, and so nicely accurate in preserving the distinction, that when two kinds so nearly resemble each other, as the horse and the ass, that there is not difference enough in the outward form to direct the instinct of the sexes, and therefore they