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NATURAL THEOLOGY.

TO THE HONOURABLE AND RIGHT REV. SHUTE BARRINGTON, L.I.D.

LORD BISHOP OF DURHAM. MY LORD,—The following Work was undertaken at your Lordship’s recommendation, and amongst other motives, for the purpose of making the most acceptable return that I could, for a great and important benefit conferred upon me.

It may be unnecessary, yet not perhaps quite impertinent, to state to your Lordship, and to the reader, the several inducements that have led me once more to the press. The favour of my first and ever-honoured Patron had put me in possession of so liberal a provision in the Church, as abundantly to satisfy my wants, and much to exceed my pretensions. Your Lordship’s munificence, in conjunction with that of some other excellent Prelates, who regarded my services with the partiality with which your Lordship was pleased to consider them, hath since placed me in ecclesiastical situations, more than adequate to every object of reasonable ambition. In the mean time, a weak, and, of late, a painful state of health, deprived me of the power of discharging the duties of my station in a manner at all suitable, either to my sense of those duties, or to my most anxious wishes concerning them. My inability for the public functions of my profession, amongst other consequences, left me much at leisure. That leisure was not to be lost. It was only in my study that I could repair my deficiencies in the church : it was only through the press that I could speak. These circumstances entitled your Lordship in particular to call upon me for the only species of exertion of which I was capable, and disposed me without hesitation to obey the call in the best manner that I could. In the choice of a subject, I had no place left for doubt : in saying which, I do not so much refer, either to the supreme importance of the subject, or to any scepticism concerning it with which the present times are charged, as I do to its connexion with the subjects treated of in my former publications. The following discussion alone wąs wanted to make up my works into a system : in which works, such as they are, the public have now before them, the evi. dences of Natural Religion, the evidences of Revealed Religion, and an account of the duties that result from both. It is of small importance that they have been written in an order the very rederse of that in which they ought to be read. I commend, therefore, the present volume to your Lordship's protection, not only as, in all probability, my last labour, but as the completion of a regular and comprehensive design.

Hitherto, my Lord, I have been speaking of myself, and not of my Patron. Your Lordship wants not the testimony of a Dedication ; nor any testimony from me : I consult therefore the impulse of my own mind alone when I declare, that in no respect has my intercourse with your Lordship been more gratifying to me, than in the opportunities which it has afforded me, of observing your earnest, active, and unwearied solicitude, for the advancement of substantial Christianity; a solicitude, nevertheless, accompanied with that candour of mind, which suffers no subordinate differences of opinion, when there is a coincidence in the main intention and object, to produce ang alienation of esteem, or diminution of favour. It is fortunate for a country, and honourable to its government, when qualities and dispositions like these are placed in high and influencing sta. tions. Such is the sincere judgment which I have formed of your Lordship's character, and of its public value : my personal obligations I can never forget. Under a due sense of both these consi. derations, I beg leave to subscribe myself, with great respect and gratitude, My Lord, your Lord. ship’s faithful and most devoted servant,

WILLIAM PALEY. Bishop-Wearmouth, July, 1802.

CHAPTER I.

came to be there: I might possibly answer, that State of the Argument.

for any thing I knew to the contrary, it had lain

there for ever: nor would it perhaps be very easy In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot to show the absurdity of this answer. against a stone, and were asked how the stone pose I had found a watch upon the ground, and

But sup:

it should be inquired how the watch happened to be the inference, whether the question arise conin that place; I should hardly think of the answer cerning a human agent, or concerning an agent of which I had before given, that for any thing I a different species, or an agent possessing in some knew, the watch might have always been there. respects a different nature. Yet why should not this answer serve for the 11. Neither, secondly, would it invalidate our watch as well as for the stone ? why is it not as conclusion, that the watch sometimes went wrong, admissable in the second case as in the first ? For or that it seldom went exactly right. The purthis reason, and for no other, viz. that when we pose of the machinery, the design and the designcome to inspect the watch, we perceive (what we er, might be evident, and in the case supposed could not discover in the stone) that its several would be evident, in whatever way we accounted parts are framed and put together for a purpose, for the irregularity of the movement, or whether e. g. that they are so formed and adjusted as to we could account for it or not. It is not neces. produce motion, and that motion so regulated as sary that a machine be perfect, in order to show to point out the hour of the day; that, if the dif- with what design it was made; still less necessary, ferent parts had been differently shaped from what where the only question is, whether it were made they are, of a different size froin what they are, or with any design at all. placed after any other manner, or in any other III. Nor, thirdly, would it bring any uncertainorder, than that in which they are placed, either no ty into the argument, if there were a few parts of motion at all would have been carried on in the the watch, concerning which we could not dismachine, or none which would have answered the cover, or had not yet discovered, in what manner use that is now served by it. To reckon up a they conduced to the general effect, or even some few of the plainest of these parts, and of their of- parts, concerning which we could not ascertain, fices, all tending to one result :- We see a cylin- whether they conduced to that effect in any inandrical box containing a coiled elastic spring, which, ner whatever. For, as to the first branch of the by its endeavour to relax itself, turns round the case; if by the loss, or disorder, or decay, of the box. We next observe a flexible chain (artifi- parts in question, the movement of the watch cially wrought for the sake of flexure,) communi- were found in fact to be stopped, or disturbed, or cating the action of the spring from the box to the retarded, no doubt would remain in our minds as fusee. We then find a series of wheels, the to the utility or intention of these parts, although teeth of which catch in, and apply to each other, we should be unable to investigate the manner conducting the motion from the fusee to the according to which, or the connexion by which, balance, and from the balance to the pointer; and the ultimate effect depended upon their action or at the same time, by the size and shape of those assistance; and the more complex is the machine, wheels so regulating that motion, as to terminate the more likely is this obscurity to arise. Then, in causing an index, by an equable and measured as to the second thing sup namely, that progression, to pass over a given space in a given there were parts which might be spared, without time. We take notice that the wheels are maile prejudice to the movement of the watch, and that of brass in order to keep them from rust; the we had proved this by experiment,—these supersprings of steel, no other metal being so elastic; fluous parts, even if we were completely assured that over the face of the watch there is placed a that they were such, would not vacate the reasonglass, a material employed in no other part of the ing which we had instituted concerning other work, but in the room of which, if there had been parts. The indication of contrivance remained, any other than a transparent substance, the hour with respect to them, nearly as it was before. could not be seen without opening the case. This IV. Nor, fourthly, would any man in his mechanism being observed (it requires indeed an senses think the existence of the watch, with its examination of the instrument, and perhaps some various machinery, accounted for, by being told previous knowledge of the subject, to perceive and that it was one out of possible combinations of understand it; but being once, as we have said, ob material forms; that whatever he had found in the served and understood, ) the inference, we think, is place where he found the watch, must have coninevitable, that the watch must have had a maker; tained some internal configuration or other; and that there must have existed, at some time, and at that this configuration might be the structure some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who now exhibited, viz. of the works of a watch, as formed it for the purpose which we find it actual. well as a different structure. ly to answer; who comprehended its construction, V. Nor, fifthly, would it yield his inquiry more and designed its use.

satisfaction to be answered, that there existed I. Nor would it, I apprehend, weaken the con- in things a principle of order, which had disposed clusion, that we had never seen a watch made; the parts of the watch into their present form that we had never known an artist capable of and situation. He never knew a watch made by making one; that we were altogether incapable of the principle of order; nor can he even form to executing such a piece of workmanship ourselves, himself an idea of what is meant by a principle of or of understanding in what manner it was per-order, distinct from the intelligence of the watchformed; all this being no more than what is true maker. of some exquisite remains of ancient art, of some VI. Sixthly, he would be surprised to hear that lost arts, and, to the generality of mankind, of the the mechanism of the watch was no proof of conmore curious productions of modern manufacture. trivance, only a motive to induce the mind to Does one man in a million know how oval frames think so. are turned ? Ignorance of this kind exalts our VII. And not less surprised to be informed, opinion of the unseen and unknown artist's skill that the watch in his hand was nothing more if he be unseen and unknown, but raises no doubt than the result of the laws of metallic nature. It in our minds of the existence and agency of such is a perversion of language to assign any law, as an artist, at some former time, and in some place the efficient, operative cause of any thing. A or other. Nor can I perceive that it varies at all law presupposes an agent; for it is only the mode,

according to which an agent proceeds: it implies , either of the parts which the new watch contained, a power; for it is the order, according to which or of the parts by the aid and instrumentality of that power acts. Without this agent, without which it was produced. We might possibly say, this power, which are both distinct from itself, but with great latitude of expression, that a stream the law does nothing; is nothing. The expres- of water ground corn; but no latitude of expression, " the law of metallic nature," may sound sion would allow us to say, no stretch of conjecstrange and harsh to a philosophic ear; but it ture could lead us to think, that the stream of seems quite as justifiable as some others which water built the mill, though it were too ancient are more familiar to him, such as "the law of ve- for us to know who the builder was. What the getable nature," " the law of animal nature,” or stream of water does in the affair, is neither more indeed as “the law of nature,” in general, when nor less than this; by the application of an uninassigned as the cause of phenomena, in exclusion telligent impulse to a mechanism previously ar. of agency and power; or when it is substituted ranged, arranged independently of it, and arranged into the place of these.

by intelligence, an effect is produced, viz. the corn VIII. Neither, lastly, would our observer be is ground. But the effect results from the ardriven out of his conclusion, or from his confi- rangement. The force of the stream cannot be dence in its truth, by being told that he knows said to be the cause or author of the effect, still nothing at all about the matter.

He knows less of the arrangement. Understanding and plan enough for his argument: he knows the utility of in the formation of the mill were not the less nethe end; he knows the subserviency and adapta- cessary, for any share which the water has in grindtion of the means to the end. These points being ing the corn; yet is this share the same as that known, his ignorance of other points, his doubts which the watch would have contributed to the concerning other points, affect not the certainty of production of the new watch, upon the supposition his reasoning. The consciousness of knowing assumed in the last section. Therefore, little, need not beget a distrust of that which he III. Though it be now no longer probable, that does know.

the individual watch which our observer had found, was made immediately by the hand of an artificer, yet doth not this alteration

any wise affect the inference, that an artificer had been oriCHAPTER II.

ginally employed and concerned in the production.

The argument from design remains as it was. State of the Argument continued. Marks of design and contrivance are no more ac

counted for now than they were before. In the SUPPOSE, in the next place, that the person who same thing, we may ask for the cause of different found the watch, should, after some time, discover properties. We may ask for the cause of the cothat, in addition to all the properties which he had lour of a body, of its hardness, of its heat; and hitherto observed in it, it possessed the unexpected these causes may be all different. We are now property of producing, in the course of its move asking for the cause of that subserviency to a use, ment, another watch like itself (the thing is con- that relation to an end, which we have remarked ceivable); that it contained within it a mechanism, in the watch before us. No answer is given to a system of parts, a mould for instance, or a com- this question, by telling us that a preceding watch plex adjustment of lathes, files, and other tools, produced it. There cannot be design without a evidently and separately calculated for this pur-designer; contrivance, without a contriver; order, pose; let us inquire, what effect ought such a dis without choice; arrangement, without any thing covery to have upon his former conclusion. capable of arranging; subserviency and relation

I. The first effect would be to increase his ad- to a purpose, without that which could intend a miration of the contrivance, and his conviction of purpose; means suitable to an end, and executing the consummate skill of the contriver. Whether their office in accomplishing that end, without the he regarded the object of the contrivance, the dis- end ever having been contemplated, or the means tinct apparatus, the intricate, yet in many parts accommodated to it. Arrangement, disposition intelligible mechanism, by which it was carried of parts, subserviency of means to an end, relaon, he would perceive, in this new observation, tion of instruments to a use, imply the presence nothing but an additional reason for doing what of intelligence and mind. No one, therefore, can he had already done,- for referring the construc- rationally believe, that the insensible, inanimate tion of the watch to design, and to supreme art. watch, from which the watch before us issued, If that construction without this property, or, was the proper cause of the mechanism we so which is the same thing, before this property had much admire in it;-could be truly said to have been noticed, proved intention and art to have constructed the instrument, disposed its parts, as been employed about it ; still more strong would signed their office, determined their order, action, the proof appear, when he came to the knowledge and mutual dependency, combined their several of this farther property, the crown and perfection motions into one result, and that also a result conof all the rest.

nected with the utilities of other beings. All these II. He would reflect, that though the watch be- properties, therefore, are as much unaccounted for fore him were, in some sense, the maker of the as they were before. watch which was fabricated in the course of its IV. Nor is any thing gained by running the movements, yet it was in a very different sense difficulty farther back, i. e. by supposing the watch from that in which a carpenter, for instance, is before us to have been produced from another the maker of a chair; the author of its contrivance, watch, that from a former, and so on indefinitely. the cause of the relation of its parts to their use. Our going back, ever so far, brings us no nearer With respect to these, the first watch was no to the least degree of satisfaction upon the subject. cause at all to the second : in no such sense as this Contrivance is still unaccounted for. We still was it the author of the constitution and order, I want a contriver. A designing mind is neither

supplied by this supposition, nor dispensed with., our thoughts, is, whence this contrivance and de If the difficulty were diminished the farther we sign? The thing required is the intending mind, went back, by going back indefinitely, we might the adapting hand, the intelligence by which that exhaust it. And this is the only case to which hand was directed. This question, this demand, shis sort of reasoning applies. Where there is a is not shaken off, by increasing a number or suctendency, or, as we increase the number of terms, cession of substances, destitute of these properties; a continual approach towards a limit, there, by nor the more, by increasing that number to infinisupposing the number of terms to be what is ty. If it be said, that upon the supposition of one called intinite, we may conceive the limit to be watch being produced from another in the course attained: but where there is no such tendency, of that other's movements, and by means of the or approach, nothing is effected by lengthening mechanism within it, we have a cause for the the series. There is no difference as to the point watch in my hand, viz. the watch from which it in question (whatever there may be as to many proceeded: I deny, that for the design, the contrpoints,) between one series and another; be- vance, the suitableness of means to an end, the tween a series which is finite, and a series which adaptation of instruments to a use (all which we is infinite. A chain composed of an infinite num- discover in the watch,) we have any cause whatber of links, can no more support itself, than a ever. It is in vain, therefore, to assign a series of chain composed of a finite number of links. And such causes, or to allege that a series may be carof this we are assured (though we never can ried back to infinity; for I do not admit that we have tried the experiment), because, by increas- have yet any cause at all of the phenomena, still less ing the number of links, from ten for instance to any series of causes, either finite or infinite. Here a hundred, from a hundred to a thousand, &c. is contrivance, but no contriver; proofs of design, we make not the smallest approach, we observe but no designer. not the smallest tendency towards self-support. V. Our observer would farther also reflect, There is no difference in this respect (yet there that the maker of the watch before him, was, in may be a great difference in several respects) be truth and reality, the maker of every watch protween a chain of a greater or less length, between duced from it; there being no difference except one chain and another, between one that is finite that the latter manifests a more exquisite skill beand one that is infinite. This very much resem-tween the making of another watch with his own bles the case before us. The machine which we hands, by the mediation of files, lathes, chisels, are inspecting demonstrates, by its construction, &c. and the disposing, fixing, and inserting, of contrivance and design. Contrivance must have these instruments, or of others equivalent to them, had a contriver; design a designer; whether the in the body of the watch already made, in such a machine immediately proceeded from another ma- manner as to form a new watch in the course of chine not. That circumstance alters not the the movements which he had given to the old case. That other machine may, in like manner, one. It is only working by one set of tools instead have proceeded from a former machine : nor does of another. that alter the case; contrivance must have had a The conclusion which the first examination of contriver. That former one from one preceding the watch, of its works, construction, and moveit: no alteration still ; a contriver is still necessary. ment, suggested, was, that it must have had, for No tendency is perceived, no approach towards a the cause and author of that construction, an artidiminution of this necessity. It is the same with ficer, who understood its mechanism, and designany and every succession of these machines; a ed its use. This conclusion is invincible. A sesuccession of ten, of a hundred, of a thousand; cond examination presents us with a new disco with one series, as with another; a series which very. The watch is found, in the course of its is finite, as with a series which is infinite. In movement, to produce another watch, similar to whatever other respects they may differ, in this itself; and not only so, but we perceive in it a systhey do not. In all equally, contrivance and design tem or organization, separately calculated for that are unaccounted for.

purpose. What effect would this discovery have, The question is not simply, How came the first or ought it to have, upon our former interence watch into existence ? which question, it may be What, as hath already been said, but to increase, pretended, is done away by supposing the series beyond measure, our admiration of the skill which of watches thus produced from one another to had been employed in the formation of such a mahave been infinite, and consequently to have had chine? Or shall it, instead of this, all at once no such first, for which it was necessary to pro- turn us round to an opposite conclusion, riz. that vide a cause. This, perhaps, would have been no art or skill whatever has been concerned in the nearly the state of the question, if nothing had business, although all other evidences of art and been before us but an unorganized, unmechanized skill remain as they were, and this last and susubstance, without mark or indication of contri- preme piece of art be now added to the rest ? Can vance. It might be difficult to show that such this be maintained without absurdity? Yet this is substance could not have existed from eternity, atheism. either in succession (if it were possible, which I think it is not, for unorganized bodies to spring from one another,) or by individual perpetuity. But that is not the question now. To suppose it

CHAPTER III. to be so, is to suppose that it made no difference whether he had found a watch or a stone. As it

Application of the Argument. is, the metaphysics of that question have no place; This is atheism: for every indication of contrifor, in the watch which we are examining, are vance, every manifestation of design, which existseen contrivance, design; an end, a purpose; ed in the watch, exists in the works of nature; means for the end, adaptation to the purpose. with the difference, on the side of nature, of being And the question which irresistibly presses upon greater and more, and that in a degree which ex

ceeds all computation. I mean, that the contri- , fore us, it is a matter of certainty, because it is a vances of nature surpass the contrivances of art, matter which experience and observation demons in the complexity, subtilty, and curiosity, of the strate, that the formation of an image at the botmechanism; and still more, if possible, do they tom of the eye is necessary to perfect vision. The go beyond them in number and variety; yet, in image itself can be shown. Whatever affects the a multitude of cases, are not less evidently me- distinctness of the image, affects the distinctness chanical, not less evidently contrivances, not less of the vision. The formation then of such an evidently accommodated to their end, or suited to image being necessary (no matter how) to the their office, than are the most perfect productions sense of sight, and to the exercise of that sense, of human ingenuity.

the apparatus by which it is formed is constructed I know no better method of introducing so large and put together, not only with infinitely more a subject, than that of comparing a single thing art, but upon the self-same principles of art, as in with a single thing; an eye, for example, with a the telescope or the camera obscura. The pertelescope. As far as the examination of the in- ception arising from the image may be laid out of strument goes, there is precisely the same proof the question; for the production of the image, that the eye was made for vision, as there is that these are instruments of the same kind. The end the telescope was made for assisting it. They are is the same; the means are the same. The purmade upon the same principles; both being ad- pose in both is alike; the contrivance for accomjusted to the laws by which the transmission and plishing that purpose is in both alike. The lenses refraction of rays of light are regulated. I speak of the telescope, and the humours of the eye, bear not of the origin of the laws themselves ; but such a complete resemblance to one another, in their laws being fixed, the construction, in both cases, tigure, their position, and in their power over the is adapted to them. For instance; these laws re- rays of light, viz. in bringing each pencil to a quire, in order to produce the same effect, that the point at the right distance from the lens; namely, rays of light, in passing from water into the eye, in the eye, at the exact place where the memo should be refracted by a more convex surface, brane is spread to receive it. How is it possible, unthan when it passes out of air into the eye. Ac- der circumstances of such close affinity, and under cordingly we find that the eye of a fish, in that the operation of equal evidence, to exclude contripart of it called the crystalline lens, is much vance from the one, yet to acknowledge the proof rounder than the eye of terrestrial animals. What of contrivance having been employed, as the plainplainer manifestation of design can there be than est and clearest of all propositions, in the other ? this difference? What could a mathematical The resemblance between the two cases is still instrument-maker have done more, to show his more accurate, and obtains in more points than knowledge of his principle, his application of that we have yet represented, or than we are, on the knowledge, his suiting of his means to his end; I first view of the subject, aware of. In dioptric will not say to display the compass or excellence telescopes, there is an imperfection of this nature. of his skill and art, for in these all comparison is Pencils of light, in passing through glass lenses, indecorous, but to testify counsel, choice, considerare separated into different colours, thereby tingation, purpose ?

ing the object, especially the edges of it, as if it To some it may appear a difference sufficient were viewed through a prism. To correct this to destroy all similitude between the eye and the inconvenience had been long a desideratum in telescope, that the one is a perceiving organ, the the art. At last it came into the mind of a sagaother an unperceiving instrument. The fact is, cious optician, to inquire how this matter was that they are both instruments. And, as to the managed in the eye; in which there was exactly mechanism, at least as to mechanism being em- the same difficulty to contend with as in the teleployed, and even as to the kind of it, this circum- scope. His observation taught him, that, in the stance varies not the analogy at all. For, observe eye, the evil was cured by combining lenses comwhat the constitution of the eye is. It is neces- posed of different substances, i. e. of substances sary, in order to produce distinct vision, that an which possessed different refracting powers. Our image or picture of the object be formed at the artist borrowed thence his hint; and produced a bottom of the eye. Whence this necessity arises, correction of the defect, by imitating, in glasses or how the picture is connected with the sensa- made from different materials, the effects of the tion, or contributes to it, it may be difficult, nay, different humours through which the rays of light we will confess, if you please, impossible for us to pass before they reach the bottom of the eye. search out. But the present question is not con- Could this be in the eye without purpose, which cerned in the inquiry. It may be true, that, in suggested to the optician the only effectual means this, and in other instances, we trace mechanical of attaining that purpose ? contrivance a certain way: and that then we But farther; there are other points, not so much come to something which is not mechanical, or perhaps of strict resemblance between the two, as which is inscrutable. But this affects not the of superiority of the eye over the telescope; yet of certainty of our investigation, as far as we have a superiority which, being founded in the laws gone. The difference between an animal and an that regulate both, may furnish topics of fair and automatic statue, consists in this, that, in the ani- just comparison. Two things were wanted to mal, we trace the mechanism to a certain point, the eye, which were not wanted (at least in the and then we are stopped; either the mechanism same degree) to the telescope; and these were, the becoming too subtile for our discernment, or some- adaptation of the organ, first, to different degrees thing else beside the known laws of mechanism of light; and, secondly, to the vast diversity of distaking place; whereas, in the automaton, for the tance at which objects are viewed by the naked comparatively few motions of which it is capable, eye, viz. from a few inches to as many miles. we trace the mechanism throughout. But up to These difficulties present not themselves to the the limit, the reasoning is as clear and certain in maker of the telescope. He wants all the light he the one case as in the other. In the example be can get; and he never directs his instrument to

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