of mankind who depend on their senses and imagination.
An ideal demonstration is so simple, that through its very simplicity it escapes those minds that are incapable of operations purely intellectual. In short, the more perfect is the way to find the First Being, the fewer men there are that are capable to follow it.
SECT. II. Moral Proofs of the Existence of God are fitted to every man’s capacity.
But there is a less perfect way, level to the meanest capacity. Men the least exercised in reasoning, and the most tenacious of the prejudices of the senses, may yet with one look discover Him who has drawn Himself in all His works. The wisdom and power He has stamped upon everything He has made are seen, as it were, in a glass by those that cannot contemplate Him in His own idea. This is a sensible and popular philosophy, of which any man free from passion and prejudice is capable. Humana autem anima rationalis est, quæ mortalibus peccati pœna tenebatur, ad hoc diminutionis redacta ut per conjecturas rerum visibilium ad intelligenda invisibilia niteretur; that is, “The human soul is still rational, but in such a manner that, being by the punishment of sin detained in the bonds of death, it is so far reduced that it can only endeavour to arrive at the knowledge of things invisible through the visible.”
SECT. III. Why so few Persons are attentive to the Proofs Nature affords of the Existence of God.
If a great number of men of subtle and penetrating wit have not discovered God with one cast of the eye upon nature, it is not matter of wonder; for either the passions they have been tossed by have still rendered them incapable of any fixed reflection, or the false prejudices that result from passions have, like a thick cloud, interposed between their eyes and that noble spectacle. A man deeply concerned in an affair of great importance, that should take up all the attention of his mind, might pass several days in a room treating about his concerns without taking notice of the proportions of the chamber, the ornaments of the chimney, and the pictures about him, all which objects would continually be before his eyes, and yet none of them make any impression upon him. In this manner it is that men spend their lives; everything offers God to their sight, and yet they see it nowhere. “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and nevertheless the world did not know Him”—In mundo erat, et mundus per ipsum factus est, et mundus eum non cognovit. They pass away their lives without perceiving that sensible representation of the Deity. Such is the fascination of worldly trifles that obscures their eyes! Fascinatio nugacitatis obscurat bona. Nay, oftentimes they will not so much as open them, but rather affect to keep them shut, lest they should find Him they do not look for. In short, what ought to help most to open their eyes serves only to close them faster; I mean the constant duration and regularity of the motions which the Supreme Wisdom has put in the universe. St. Austin tells us those great wonders have been debased by being constantly renewed; and Tully speaks exactly in the same manner. “By seeing every day the same things, the mind grows familiar with them as well as the eyes. It neither admires nor inquires into the causes of effects that are ever seen to happen in the same manner, as if it were the novelty, and not the importance of the thing itself, that should excite us to such an inquiry.” Sed assiduitate quotidiana et consuetudine oculorum assuescunt animi, neque admirantur neque requirunt rationes earum rerum, quas semper vident, perinde quasi novit as nos magis quam magnitudo rerum debeat ad exquirendas causas excitare.
SECT. IV. All Nature shows the Existence of its Maker.
But, after all, whole nature shows the infinite art of its Maker. When I speak of an art, I mean a collection of proper means chosen on purpose to arrive at a certain end; or, if you please, it is an order, a method, an industry, or a set design. Chance, on the contrary, is a blind and necessary cause, which neither sets in order nor chooses anything, and which has neither will nor understanding. Now I maintain that the universe bears the character and stamp of a cause infinitely powerful and industrious; and, at the same time, that chance (that is, the blind and fortuitous concourse of causes necessary and void of reason) cannot have formed this universe. To this purpose it is not amiss to call to mind the celebrated comparisons of the ancients.
SECT. V. Noble Comparisons proving that Nature shows the Existence of its Maker. First Comparison, drawn from Homer’s “Iliad.”
Who will believe that so perfect a poem as Homer’s “Iliad” was not the product of the genius of a great poet, and that the letters of the alphabet, being confusedly jumbled and mixed, were by chance, as it were by the cast of a pair of dice, brought together in such an order as is necessary to describe, in verses full of harmony and variety, so many great events; to place and connect them so well together; to paint every object with all its most graceful, most noble, and most affecting attendants; in short, to make every person speak according to his character in so natural and so forcible a manner? Let people argue and subtilise upon the matter as much as they please, yet they never will persuade a man of sense that the “Iliad” was the mere result of chance. Cicero said the same in relation to Ennius’s “Annals;” adding that chance could never make one single verse, much less a whole poem. How then can a man of sense be induced to believe, with respect to the universe, a work beyond contradiction more wonderful than the “Iliad,” what his reason will never suffer him to believe in relation to that poem? Let us attend another comparison, which we owe to St. Gregory Nazianzenus.
SECT. VI. Second Comparison, drawn from the Sound of Instruments.
If we heard in a room, from behind a curtain, a soft and harmonious instrument, should we believe that chance, without the help of any human hand, could have formed such an instrument? Should we say that the strings of a violin, for instance, had of their own accord ranged and extended themselves on a wooden frame, whose several parts had glued themselves together to form a cavity with regular apertures? Should we maintain that the bow formed without art should be pushed by the wind to touch every string so variously, and with such nice justness? What rational man could seriously entertain a doubt whether a human hand touched such an instrument with so much harmony? Would he not cry out, “It is a masterly hand that plays upon it?” Let us proceed to inculcate the same truth.
SECT. VII. Third Comparison, drawn from a Statue.
If a man should find in a desert island a fine statue of marble, he would undoubtedly immediately say, “Sure, there have been men here formerly; I perceive the workmanship of a skilful statuary; I admire with what niceness he has proportioned all the limbs of this body, in order to give them so much beauty, gracefulness, majesty, life, tenderness, motion, and action!”
What would such a man answer if anybody should tell him, “That’s your mistake; a statuary never carved that