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exist; and whatever is, derives its existence from it.
I pretend not to penetrate into the nature of that cause, or to decide what necessary existence is, in itself: How should I attain to such knowledge? I who am bewildered, confounded by an atom, and who cannot arrive at the intimate knowledge of any one being! But I am constrained to admit, that that cause, whatever be the mode of its being, possesses whatever is requisite for the production of that sublime effect, which I call the universe. I therefore study this effect, and attempt to arrive at some philosophical notions concerning the attributes of this cause. I first observe, that this necessary cause enjoys the greatest power that it is possible for me to conceive; for can I conceive any power greater than the power of creating ? The universe exists; and yet it is in its very nature contingent; it has not therefore existed for ever; what a power must that be, which called it from nothing into being, and which has given an actual existence to every thing that was possible!
When I turn my attention to that assemblage of things, which I distinguish by the general word nature, I perceive that this assemblage is an admirable system of various relations; and the more I repeat my obser vations, the more I see these relations, mul. tiplied, diversified, and extended; I am soon convinced, that every thing is carried on in nature conformably to settled laws, which are no other than the natural result of these relations, that link together all these beings, and direct them to one common end.
It is true, that I do not perceive any necessary connexion between one moment and that which succeeds, between the action of one being and that of another being, between the present state of a being and its state in succeeding moments, &c. But I am so constituted, that what I have always observed to happen, and what all those who came before me have observed to happen, appears to me to be a moral certainty. Therefore, it will never enter into my imagination to form the least doubt, that the sun will not rise to. morrow, that the buds of trees will not blossom in spring, or that fire will not reduce wood to ashes, &c.
I confess that my opinion is here purely analogical : * since it is very evident, that the contrary of that, which I think will happen, is still possible; but this simple possibility cannot in the least counterbalance in my mind that multitude of constant experiences, on which my analogical belief is established.
It seems to me, that I should do violence to common sense, if I refused to take ana. logy for my guide in things of this nature, I should lead a life of misery, I should not even be able to provide for my own preservation. For, if the knowledge I have of the aliments which have always nourished me, were not sufficient to establish the certainty I have, that these aliments will not sud. denly, and without cause, be changed into poison, how should I venture to eat of them again?
* When I have examined separately a certain number of things, and have constantly found in all of them, the same essential properties, I think I am authorized to draw this inference ; that the things which appear to me precisely similar to them (buit which I have not examined with the same attention) are also endowed with the same properties. This manner of judging is styled by logicians analogy.
Reason therefore compels me to admit, that there exists in nature a certain constant order, on which I may establish opi. nions, which, though not demonstrations, càrry a sufficient probability to satisfy my wants.
My senses manifest this order to me; the faculty I possess of reflection, discovers to me its most essential consequences.
In my apprehension, therefore, the order of nature is the general result of the * relations which I perceive between beings.
I view these relations as invariable, because I have never seen them, neither has any one ever seen them to vary naturally.
The intelligence of the first cause may be reasonably deduced from the contemplation of these relations; because the greater number and variety of parts there are in a whole, all concurring to a common end, the greater is the probability that this whole is not the
* By these relations I understand, în general, those proper. ties, those determinations, by the ineans of which different beings are directed to the same end, or.concur to produce a certain effecta Anal..Essay, sect. 40.
work of a blind cause; because, as I have satisfied' myself that matter is contingent, and that motion is not essential to matter, I can place, neither in matter nor in motion, the efficient reason of that which is; because assigning the efficient reason of a thing, is not simply giving a cause to that thing, it is assigning a principle by which one may clearly conceive why that thing is, and for what reason it is as it is, and not otherwise. Now, it is only in an intelligent self-existing cause, that I find sufficient reason for the mode of being of the universe; and it is only in the power of the first necessary cause that I find the efficient reason of the existence, or of the actuality of the universe.
If the laws of nature result essentially from the relations which exist between various beings'* ; if these relations, consi-dered in themselves, do not exist necessa: rily; it appears to me that I may hence conclude, that nature has a legislator. Light has not bestowed on itself the properties of light, and its laws of refraction and reflec.
The laws of nature are in general the result, or the consequences of the relations which exist between beings. Anni. Essay,