Page images
PDF
EPUB

on

" cal mass.

serve how even the mind of Newton gains ground gradually upon darkness.

“ As to your first query,” says he, “ it seems “ to me, that if the matter of our sun and planets, “ and all the matter of the universe, were evenly “ scattered throughout all the heavens, and every “particle had an innate gravity towards all the

rest, and the whole space throughout which this “ matter was scattered, was but finite; the matter

the outside of this space would by its gravity “ tend towards all the matter on the inside, and by consequence

fall down into the middle of the " whole space, and there compose one great spheri

But if the matter was evenly disposed throughout an infinite

space,

it could never convene into one mass; but some of it would con

vene into one mass, and some into another, so as “ to make an infinite number of great masses, scat“tered at great distances from one to another “throughout all that infinite space. And thus

might the sun and fixed stars. be formed, sup

posing the matter were of a lucid nature. But “ how the matter should divide itself into two sorts, “ and that part of it which is fit to compose a “ shining body, should fall down into one mass and

and the rest, which is fit to compose an opaque body, should coalesce, not into one great body, like the shining matter, but into

many little ones ; or if the sun at first were an “ opaque body like the planets, or the planets lucid “ bodies like the sun, how he alone should be “ changed into a shining body, whilst all they con, “ tinue opaque, or all they be changed into opaque “ ones, whilst he remains unchanged, I do not

«« make a sun,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

(“think more explicable by mere natural causes,
“ but am forced to ascribe it to the counsel and
“ contrivance of a voluntary agent."

The hypothesis of matter evenly disposed through
infinite space, seems to labour with such difficul-
ties, as makes it almost a contradictory supposi-
tion, or a supposition destructive of itself.

Matter evenly disposed through infinite space, is either created or eternal; if it was created, it infers a Creator: if it was eternal, it had been from eternity evenly spread through infinite space; or it had been once coalesced in masses, and afterwards been diffused. Whatever state was first, must have been from eternity, and what had been from eternity could not be changed, but by a cause beginning to act as it had never acted before, that is, by the voluntary act of some external power. If matter infinitely and evenly diffused was a moment without coalition, it could never coalesce at all by its own power. If matter originally tended to coalesce, it could never be evenly diffused through infinite space. Matter being supposed eternal, there never was a time when it could be diffused before its conglobation, or conglobated before its diffusion.

This Sir Isaac seems by degrees to have understood ; for he says, in his second Letter, “ The

reason why matter evenly scattered through a “ finite space would convene in the midst, you “ conceive the same with me; but that there should “ be a central particle, so accurately placed in the “ middle, as to be always equally attracted on all “ sides, and therebycontinue without motion, seems “ to me a supposition fully as hard as to make the " sharpest needle stand upright upon its point on

66

[ocr errors]

“a looking-glass. For if the very mathematical o centre of the central particle be not accurately “ in the very mathematical centre of the attractive

power of the whole mass, the particle will not “ be attracted equally on all sides. And much “ harder is it to suppose all the particles in an in“ finite space should be so accurately poised one

among another, as to stand still in a perfect “ equilibrium. For I reckon this as hard as to “ make not one needle only, but an infinite num“ber of them (so many as there are particles in an “ infinite space) stand accurately poised upon their “ points. Yet I grant it possible, at least by a “ divine power; and if they were once to be “placed, I agree with you that they would conti

nue in that posture, without motion for ever, “ unless put into new motion by the same power, · When therefore I said, that matter evenly spread " through all space, would convene by its gravity “ into one or more great masses, I understand it “ of matter not resting in an accurate poise.”

Let not it be thought irreverence to this great name, if I observe, that by matter evenly spread through infinite space, he now finds it necessary mean matter not evenly spread. Matter not evenly spread will indeed convene, but it will convene as soon as it exists. And, in my opinion, this puzzling question about matter is only how that could be that never could have been, or what a man thinks on when he thinks of nothing.

Turn matter on all sides, make it eternal, or of late production, finite or infinite, there can be no regular system produced but by a voluntary and meaning agent. This the great Newton always

to

[ocr errors]

asserted, and this he asserts in the third letter; but proves

in another manner, in a manner perhaps more happy and conclusive.

.The hypothesis of deriving the frame of the “ world by mechanical principles from matter “ evenly spread through the heavens being incon“sistent with my system, I had considered it very “ little before your letter put me upon it, and “ therefore trouble you with a line or two more « about it, if this comes not too late for your use. “ In my former I represented that the diurnal “ rotations of the planets could not be derived “ from gravity, but required a divine arm to im

press them. And though gravity might give “ the planets a motion of descent towards the “ sun, either directly, or with some little obliquity,

yet the transverse motions by. which they re• volve in their several orbs, required the divine arm “ to impress them according to the tangents of 66 their orbs. I would now add, that the hypoo thesis of matter's being at first evenly spread " through the heavens, is, in my opinion, incon“ sistent with the hypothesis of innate gravity, “ without a supernatural power to reconcile them, " and therefore it infers a Deity. For if there be “ innate gravity, it is impossible now for the mat“ ter of the earth, and all the planets and stars, to “fly up from them, and become evenly spread “ throughout all the heavens, without a superna66 tural

power; and certainly that which can never “ be hereafter without a supernatural power, could qs never be heretofore without the same power.”

REVIEW

OF

"A JOURNAL

COF

• EIGHT DAYS JOURNEY,

FROM

E PORTSMOUTH TO KINGSTON

UPON THAMES, through soUTHAMPTON, WILTSHIRE, &c.

[ocr errors]

( WITH

MISCELLANEOUS THOUGHTS, MORAL AND RELIGIOUS;

IN SIXTY-FOUR LETTERS:

Addressed to TIO LADIES of the Partie.

"To which is added,

"AN ESSAY ON TEA, · Considered as pernicious to Health, obstructing Industry,

• and impoverishing the Nation : with an Account of its • Growth, and great Consumption in these Kingdoms; • with several political Reflections ; and Thoughts on • Publick Love: in Thirty-two Letters to Two Ladies.

* By Mr H*****.! [From the Literary Magazine, Vol. II. No. xiii. 1957.)

OUR readers may perhaps remember, that we gave them a short account of this book, with a letter extracted from it, in November 1756. The author then sent us an injunction to forbear his

« PreviousContinue »