It was the opinion of Aristotle and others that the world was eternal. But that the present system of things had a beginning, seems evident, if we consider the following things.
1. We may not only conceive of many possible alterations which might be made in the form of it, but we see it incessantly changing; whereas an eternal being, forasmuch as it is self-existent, is always the same.
2. We have no credible history of transactions more remote than six thousand years from the present time; for as to the pretence that some nations have made to histories of greater antiquity, as the Egyptians, Chaldeans, Phaenicians, Chinese, &c. they are evidently convicted of falsehood in the works referred to at the bottom of this article.
3. We can trace the invention of the most useful arts and sciences; which had probably been carried farther, and invented sooner, had the world been eternal.
4. The origin of the most considerable nations of the earth may be traced, 1: e. the time when they first inhabited the countries where they now dwell; and it appears that most of the western nations came from the east.
5. If the world be eternal, it is hard to account for the tradition of its beginning, which has almost everywhere prevailed, though under different forms, among both polite and barbarous nations.
6. We have a most ancient and credible history of the beginning of the world: I mean the history of Moses, with which no book in the world, in point of antiquity, can contend. Stillingfleet's Orig. Sacrae. P 15, 106; Winder's Hist. of Knowledge, vol. 2: passim; Pearson on the Creed. p. 58; Doddridge's Lectures, 50: 24; Tillotson's Sermons, ser. 1; Clarke at Boyle's Lectures, p. 22, 23; Dr. Collyer's Scripture Facts, ser. 2.