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DE ORIGINE ANIME;
I am much pleased with a reflection of M. Rollin, in his treatise of the Arts and Sciences of the Antients: “ The manner (says that amiable author) in which the sin of Adam extended down to me, is covered with obscurities. But, from that very point, wrapt up in darkness, issues the light which makes all clear, and dispels all my difficulties. I am therefore far from refusing to believe one only thing, of which the beef is rewarded by the understanding of so many others; and chuse rather to submit my reason to a single article, which it does not comprehend, but which is revealed, than to make it fly out against an infinity of others which it comprehends as little, and of which divine revelation
neither forbids us the examination, nor removes the difficulties.” Vol. iii. P. 304. To this let me add, to the same effect, an excellent sentiment from the pious Mr. Plavel, in the preface to his very valuable Treutise on the Soul of Man: “I groan under the effects of Adam's itching ambition to know; and would not, by repeating his sin, increase my own misery: nor yet would I be scared, by his example, into the contrary evil of neglecting the means God hath afforded me, to know all that I can know of his revealed will."
As these sentences express what I would wish to premise, and in better terms than my own; I will immediately descend to my subject, which I mean to consider with the utmost diffidence, caution, and brevity. · A doubt hath been frequently started, whether the transmission of Adam's sin to his posterity, both as to its defilement and punishment, consists with any known principles of either natural or spiritual reason; or whether it is not to be entirely received, among other mysteries, as an object of pure faith, upon the veracity of the divine record, without attempting an explication. It is beyond a doubt, that the testimony of God demands the implicit assent and belief of every Christian: but, at the same time, it rather authorizes than forbids him, as a man, to search and enquire (like the noble Bereans) with all the faculties and opportunities conferred upon him, into the collateral evidences of that testimony, so far as they are the objects of those faculties; so that by perceiving and knowing the truth of the things compree hensible, he may have an improved and firmer conviction of these revealed truths, which (at least in this life) must remain always incomprehensible. Thus our blessed Saviour often appealed to the mind and senses of his hearers; and thus, likewise, as his apostle declares, the invisible things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. Where God hath declared any proposition, which, by its sublime nature, rises above the intellect of man'; it is to be received as an infallible truth without question or hesitation, because it would be irrational to doubt an phænomenon in the universe of things are produced, and which are therefore rightly enough denominated second causes ; that is, causes which, being once ordained, do, without any new creative act of the divine power, perform effects (as it were) ex se, which to these, as to their subordinate origin, have an essential correspondence or
unerring intelligence. But where he hath not revealed · himself upon any mode or circumstance which may occupy men's thoughts, and which therefore cannot be essential to salvation, as nothing of that kind is hid; they may exagitate and resolve upon any question with innocence and profit, if attempted with due humility and submission both of reflection and expression.
Agreeably to these principles, when I consider the progress and order of nature, or that rule by which all things appear to exist and proceed, and how the Almighty permits or designs, by a conduct so invariable as to seem like necessity, that certain definite causes shall be succeeded by effects equally certain and definite; and that God, having established a mode in creation, by a concourse or series of providences, without any new natural creation, enables that mode to multiply from itself: I am not astonished, with any ineffable wonder, that' my frame of soul and body should have derived the taint and malady of sin and evil, in all their latitude of degree and consequence, nor yet in the order of their communication to me.-God hath established the principles, by or out of which every effect and
Cau des similarity. These secondary agents in nature are the visible or signs of an invisible power, and therefore confirm the piety of that doctrine, which submits allthings to a particular as well as to a general providence. Our mathematicians, who are so fond of sensible demonstration in all things, might apply that principle with some advantage here : for, if no whole can be such without its constituent parts, or no multiplied number be complete but in the possession ofevery unit; there can be no general arrangement without a series or direct application of all its particulars. If the great things (or such as we think to be great) are not to break order; how are the little to proceed but by rule? And if little things tumble into confusion, as they must without the force of order; how are the great things, which are composed of the little, without the same order to keep their ground ? In a word, the atheism of the distinction is not supportable by common sense, and merits ridicule rather than a serious answer. Human infidelity (not to say, absurdity) could alone have raised that distinction ; for that power, which is never no where, must be present every where; and consequently its particular and general potency is one and the same. In plainer phrase; as by God all things exist, and exist in modes according to his will; so, by him alone, do they subsist, in the actuality and
duration of those modes. He hath not only established all order, but all the execution and final causes of order. For this, he is divinely celebrated in the cxlvii. psalm.
What are the productions of vegetables and animals, but the exercises or effects of causes, prior indeed to them, yet secondary and subordinate to Him, who only did and could establish them ?
Plants and trees (as botanists tell us) contain the entire fabric, and therefore the radices, stamina, or principles (call them as we may) necessary to produce the entire fabrics of their proper successors in their respective seeds. And this efficacy of production in the several species from seed to sead, involving and involved, seems established in every series ad infinitum, beyond all the perception and comprehension of man. The various species and, genera remain, from age to age, invariably the same, have the same peculiarities of form and property, and, under the auspices of divine Providence, transmit them downward invariably to their offspring. : · This exactness of example (if so precise an order can be called example) appears likewise among the animal tribes. The fierceness of the lion, the rapacity of the wolf, the venom of the serpent, are physically to be deduced, as well as their forms, from the immediate procreant of each species, up to the primary procreant at the creation. Nor can any artifice eradicate the distinguishing properties of the respective animals, however it may tame or confine them; nor mingle and confound the several species, so as to multiply them into new orders of being. A mule is the proof of an attempt to pervert the order of succession; but a mule is also an Dd 3