Page:A Collection of Several Philosophical Writings of Dr. Henry More.djvu/109

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Chap. IX.
An Antidote Against Atheism

troublesom to us, we have both power and right to curb them: For there is no question but we are more worth then they, or any of the brute Creatures.

8. But to return to the present point in hand; There are also other manifest footsteps of Providence which the Generation of living Creatures will discover to us; as for Example, the manner of Procreation of Fishes and Birds. For there being that notable difference in Animals, that some of them are Oviparous, others Viviparous, that the τὰ νηκτὰ (as Philo comprehends them by that general term) that Fishes and Birds should be Oviparous, is a plain sign of Counsel and Providence. For though it will be granted that their Species might continue and subsist though they had been Viviparous, yet it would have brought their Individuals to very small numbers.

For as for Fishes, since Grass and Herbs are no fruit of the Sea, it was necessary that they should feed one upon another, and therefore that they should multiply in very great plenty; which they could not have done any thing near to that fulness they now do, if they had been Viviparous, as four-footed Beasts are; But being now Oviparous, and the lesser kinds of them so many at first, and sending forth such infinite numbers of Spawn, their generations are neither extinct nor scanted, but are as plentiful as any Creatures on the Land.

And the reason why Birds are Oviparous and lay Eggs, but do not bring forth their yong alive, is, because there might be more plenty of them also, and that neither the Birds of prey, the Serpent nor the Fowler, should streighten their generations too much. For if they had been Viviparous, the burthen of their womb, if they had brought forth any competent number at a time, had been so big and heavy, that their wings would have failed them, and so every body would have had the wit to catch the Old one. Or if they brought but one or two at a time, they would have been troubled all the year long with feeding their young, or bearing them in their womb: besides there had been a necessity of too frequent Venery, which had been very prejudicial to their dry carcases. It was very reasonable therefore that Birds should propagate by laying of Eggs.

9. But this is not all the advantage we shall make of this Consideration. I demand further, What is it that makes the Bird to prepare her Nest with that Artifice, to fit upon her Eggs when she has laid them, and to distinguish betwixt these and her useless Excrement? Did she learn it of her Mother before her? or rather does she not doe she knows not what, but yet what ought to be done by the appointment of the most exquisite Knowledge that is? Wherefore something else has knowledge for her, which is the Maker and Contriver of all things, the Omniscient and Omnipotent God.

And though you may reply, that the Hatching of their Eggs is necessary, else their generations would cease; yet I answer, that all the Circumstances and Curiosities of Brooding them are not necessary: for they might have made shift on the ground in the Grass, and not made themselves such curious and safe Nests in Bushes and Trees. Besides, if all