Matter is generally understood to mean that solid, inert, divisible substance, accessible to the senses, of which all bodies in the universe are formed. Dr. Woodward was of opinion that matter is originally, and is really, various; Sir Isaac Newton, however, considered matter as homogenous in all bodies, and the difference of form to be owing to a varied arrangement of the corpuscles of one homogenous substance. That matter is one and the same thing in all bodies, and that all the varieties we observe arises from the various shapes it puts on, seems very probable, from a general observation of nature in the generation and destruction of bodies. Thus water rarefied by heat becomes vapour, a great collection of which forms clouds; these condensed, descend in hail or rain; part of this collected on the earth constitutes rivers; another part combines with earths or metallic matter, forming minerals and crystallized salts; another enters the roots of plants, and expands itself into all the wonderful variety and magnificence of the vegetable creation.
From the vegetable matter animals derive their support and means of reproduction; and however these mineral, vegetable, and animal productions may change, the same individual matter is never destroyed, but reappears under other combinations.