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construct them better himself. But the progress of modern science has put this question forever at rest. Every new discovery has added force to the conviction of design as involved in the production and maintenance of the present system of things, and no man at all acquainted with any department of nature, would now say that he thought he could arrange it better himself. So far indeed have investigations of this kind been carried, and so full is nature of design and purpose, from the blade of grass to the sun in the heavens, that she now seems to stand as one great transparency, through which the workings of a designing agent may be seen. And not only so, but apparent discrepancies have been so reconciled, particular events have been so traced to general laws, and such a convergency and principle of unity has been traced in the laws themselves, as to force upon the scientific inquirer, the conviction that this designing agent, whatever its nature or attributes in other respects may be, must be one.
But while science advanced, and the evidence of design was indicated, the ground of controversy was changed, and speculative atheism increased. That great feature of nature, ascertained by the inductive logic, that she works by general laws, which are universal and unswerving under all circumstances, began to stand out more and more prominently. From some circumstances which we shall point out presently, connected with this invariable operation of the laws of nature, men began to rest in the laws themselves as a sufficient account of the events which took place according to them, or at most, to attribute their existence and efficacy to the workings of some unreflective, unconscious, adaptive energy, like the plastic nature of Cudworth, or what has been called the 66 soul of the world.”
This is doubtless the strong hold of modern atheism. We call it atheism, because, though it admits, as it must, an energy in nature, it denies the moral character of God; it destroys accountability, and puts in the place of our Father who is in heaven, a blind and remorseless destiny. It is not however, atheists alone, who, since the revelations of modern science, have thought that the existence of a being at all corresponding to our idea of God, could not be proved from the light of nature. The religious and philosophical Pascal, was of this opinion; and recently the same opinion has been common among the German philosophers. It has also been
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embraced by some in England and in this country.* Our inquiry, then, is, why this argument has not been more universally convincing; and whether design, manifested according to fixed laws, is so encumbered and obscured as to render less imperative the logical conviction of a divine and free superintendence.
The question, it will be remembered, is not whether some power exists, for that is conceded, not whether that power can contrive, for its resources in that way are evidently indefinitely great; but whether that power is a distinct, free, personal agent. If this be not true, then have we no relations to God which our moral nature can recognise, and his existence is not worth the trouble of proof.
It may be difficult to define exactly in what personality consists; but our idea of it is distinct, and is implied in almost every action of our lives. No one can fail to perceive how wide is the gulf which separates him from a thing, or from a brute, which is, so far as law and right are concerned, a thing; and no one can believe that any addition, in kind, to the powers of the brute, can make it approximate to an equality with himself. Man is of a different nature. The transition from the brutes to man, in the ascending series of creation, was like that from inanimate to animate being; and when nature made it, she passed a chaos across which no bridge can ever be thrown. There is a vast difference between a spire of grass and the oak that shades it; still that spire possesses every thing in kind that belongs to the tree, and is equally removed from the largest mass of unorganized matter. As the difference between that spire and mere matter, so is that between man and the brutes; as the difference between the same spire and the oak above it, so is that between man and the seraphim and cherubim above. The chief distinctive characteristics of man and the elements of personality, seem to be reason, by which we mean here, the power of distinguishing the necessary and the universal ; reflection, sometimes termed self-consciousness, by which we become at the same time the subject and the object of thought; free-will, and the power of perceiving general relations, which last is by some supposed to belong to reason. Whether each of these implies all the others, we need not now inquire ; but so far as we can observe, no one of them
* See Coleridge's Aids to Reflection, p. 119, with the note by president Marsh. belongs to any brute ; and by the deprivation of any one of them, we should feel our personality impaired. Each of these powers must enter into every rational conception of God, as a personal agent, in distinction from nature, or some blind principle, possessing an efficacy, but without personality-in distinction from some voluble spirit, like the air, unconscious and necessitated, which mere naturalists love to contemplate as working in and rolling through all things.
All valid argument for the existence of God, must proceed on the ground of the necessary connection between every effect, or to speak more accurately, between every event, and some adequate cause. The relation between an event and its cause, is a fundamental law of human belief. We can no more conceive of an event without a cause, than we can conceive of body without space. How the ideas of space and of causation come into the mind, it is not our present business to inquire. That they are necessarily there is certain ; and if any man denies their existence, he gives the lie to his own consciousness, and has no ground for the assertion of any thing.
In arguing from the effect to the cause, we are not bound to admit in the cause any thing different in kind from that which we find in the effect. By this it is not meant that there must be in the cause every thing that is found in the effect, for then the creation of matter, and the existence of sin, except as eternal, would have been impossible ; but that we are bound to infer in the cause no higher powers than are requisite to produce the effect. To do more, would be contrary to a fundamental maxim of the Newtonian logic. It was said by bishop Berkley, that we have the same evidence for the existence of God, that we have for that of our fellow-man. When we look at his body, the material envelope, it is not the man which we see; but from the indications of intelligence manifested through the medium of his body, we infer that that which is truly the man exists, though it escapes the cognizance of the senses. With equal, and precisely the same reason, when we discover marks of design in nature, do we conclude, though it “works unseen,” that there is a designing agent. But two orders of intelligence fall under our observation, that of brutes, and of men. To each of these belongs the power of contrivance and design; but to man, something distinctive and superior is added. If, therefore, we see in the works of nature
no higher moresonian logame
nothing different in kind from the manifestations of design exhibited by the brutes, then we have no reason to suppose in the power, whatever it may be, which regulates those works, any thing superior to that which exists in them; but if, on the other hand, we see evidence of the higher kind of intelligence which belongs to man, then have we the same evidence for the existence of that intelligence, in such a manner as to constitute the rational idea of God, as we have to suppose that man himself exists.
In order to determine this point, it is necessary to compare the operations of nature with those of animals, and of man respectively, and to observe in what respects they agree and in what they differ.
In doing this, we remark, first, as was noticed above, that there is in brutes, as well as in nature, the power of contrivance and design, and that this power, though limited in its sphere, yet seems, within that sphere, to be equally perfect and unerring with that possessed by nature. Nothing can be more artificial, more precisely adapted to its purpose, or, the end being given, show a more perfect capacity of attaining it, than the comb of the bee. There is not only contrivance, but in this case, as in many others, there is also prospective contrivance, which is justly mentioned by writers on natural theology, as making a strong case. The preparation by the bee, without instruction or experience, of honey and wax, against a time of need, is analogous to that by nature of the lungs, before birth. Instances of this kind it is needless to particularize. From the single fact that brutes contrive, we must infer, either that they are persons, or that contrivance does not prove personality. But it will be said that this is instinct, and that writers on natural theology reser the constitution of instincts to some higher power. Be it so; but as it is only instinct that is produced, since like produces like, it may have been only a more extended and powerful instinct that produced it. A name is nothing. We call the principle by which animals are actuated instinct ; but call it what we may, we see a being having a sensorium, having individuality and distinct organization, producing effects simi, lar to those produced by nature, and yet not furnishing the least evidence of personality. If, therefore, there may be an individual power, entirely dissevered from reason and conscience, and yet produce such results, who shall limit the extent to which it may reach, or the effect, that is within its own proper sphere, which it may produce ?
We remark, secondly, that in their conformity to fixed laws, and in their variation from them, according to circumstances, there is a striking analogy between the works of nature and those of animals. A perfect instinct we conceive of as acting blindly and uniformly, without any variation whatever. But no animal, so far as we know, has an instinct of this kind. They all possess a power of accommodating themselves more or less to peculiar emergencies, and in some instances, this adaptive power extends so far, as apparently to border on the province of reason. Thus, it was observed by Huber, that “ those ants who lay the foundation of a wall, or chamber, or gallery, from working separately, occasion now and then a want of coincidence in the parts of the same, or different objects. Such examples are of no unfrequent occurrence, but they by no means embarrass them. What follows proves that the workman, on discovering his error, knew how to rectify it. A wall had been erected, with the view of sustaining a vaulted ceiling, still incomplete, that had been projected from the wall of the opposite chamber. The workman who began constructing it had given it too little elevation to meet the opposite partition on which it was to rest. Had it been continued on the original plan, it must infallibly have met the wall at about one half of its height. This state of things very forcibly arrested my attention, when one of the ants, arriving at the place, and visiting the works, appeared to be struck by the difficulty that presented itself; but this it as soon obviated, by taking down the ceiling, and raising the wall upon which it reposed. It then, in my presence, constructed a new ceiling with the fragments of the former one.” Bees, when transported to warm climates, soon cease their accumulations of honey. Some birds that build their nests upon the branches in regions where they are secure, suspend them by a cord, when exposed to the attacks of serpents or monkeys. Cases of this kind among larger animals are so common, that they need not be specified. An example or two of the same kind will illustrate a multitude of others, that occur in the works of nature. If the large vessel; that supplies a portion of the body with blood, be cut or tied, nature will set herself at work, and will enlarge in a surprising manner the small and circuitous vessels leading to the same part, and thus,