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notwithstanding the interruption of her original plan, will effect her purpose, viz. the nourishment of that part. Or, if it should be said that it is the increased pressure of the blood that enlarges the vessels mechanically, though every physiologist knows that this is not the fact, then we may take the instance of the head of a bone displaced from its socket. In this case, there will be deposited around it, after a time, a substance much resembling cartilage, and something like a new socket will be formed, giving it all the ease of position, and facility of motion, of which its situation is susceptible. In general, however, the laws of operation, both of nature and of animals, are uniform. Let them alone, thwart them in nothing, and nothing can be more perfect than the result, or more admirable than the means taken to accomplish it. But whatever power of varying from these laws, to meet particular emergencies, nature possesses, this power, call it what we may, animals possess in a still more striking degree.
We remark, thirdly, that if brutes or nature be thwarted in their operations, in a particular manner, or to a certain extent, they will still pursue those operations, in a manner which seems equally abortive and absurd. Abee will fly against a window glass a hundred times, and still be no wiser for it. The blue fly will deposit its eggs upon the ictodes fætidus. The hen will continue to lay her eggs, though they are constantly removed ; and she will, as mentioned by Paley, sit upon those which have not been secundated, though it is certain they never can hatch. In nature, instances of this kind are innumerable. Girdle a tree, with the exception of a small space, and, though it is evident that nature can never accomplish her original purpose of nourishing the tree, and producing fruit, yet will she pursue, year after year, her languid and inefficient attempts. If the seed of an annual plant be sown in the fall, it will sprout and grow so long as it can, though it is certain that the ensuing winter will destroy it ; whereas, if the operations of nature were analogous to those of man, she would cause it to lie over the winter before it sprouted, and it would then become a perfect plant. If the duct leading from the parotid gland to the mouth be cut off, nature still secretes the fluid in that gland, not only to no good purpose, but to the entire prevention of the curative process which she would otherwise carry on. But the instance most in point, and we mention it because it is so, is in the formation of monsters. In these cases, from some accident, the powers of nature are thwarted; but instead of giving up her work, as it seems to us an intelligent agent would do, she will still go on, and form the most fantastic and useless combinations, still, however, struggling after her original plan. She will produce an eye in the chest, she will cause an arm to grow from the back, she will constitute animal structures entirely incapable of sustaining life-machines that will not go, she will even make them so misshapen and unwieldy, that they must necessarily destroy her own works in the person of the mother herself.
Thus far, then, the analogy between the works of nature, and those of animals, is very striking. They may both be compared in their operations to a blind man passing along a narrow track, whose course is guided by a string stretched in the same direction, along which he passes his fingers. So long as he holds to the string, he steps with perfect security, but the moment he loses that, he gropes and stumbles; he continues his exertions indeed, but they are quite in the dark, and can hardly fail to be either nugatory or pernicious.
It will be seen that in this parallel, which might be extended, we have contrasted, and perhaps sufficiently for our present purpose, the active powers in nature with those in man. Nature is apparently necessitated and uniform; man is free and diverse in his actions.
The existence of general and inexorable laws certainly does not preclude that of a personal being. There are many and good reasons, why, if such a being exists, it would be proper for him to carry on his administration by such laws. It may be, it probably is, the best way ; but still, so long as they move on in their unvarying consistency, we cannot infer from them 'alone, the existence of a being who is above law, who is not necessitated, who has in himself any thing other and higher than the laws themselves manifest.
Could this uniformity be once broken up, could this rigid order be once infringed for a good and manifest reason, it would change the whole face of the argument. Could we once see gravitation suspended when the good man is thrown by his persecutors from the top of the rock; could we see a chariot and horses of fire descend and deliver the righteous from the universal law of death; could we see the sun stand still in heaven that the wicked might be overthrown, then should we be assured of a personal power with a distinct will, whose agents and ministers these laws were. Such an event would be a miracle, an event in its moral relations of the most amazing import. Such attestations of his being, we believe God has given, and given, too, in reference to this very feeling of indefiniteness, of generality, of want of personality in the supreme power, which the operation of general laws, necessarily confounding all moral distinctions, has a tendency to produce. But if such events have happened, they are not a part of nature, it is not nature that tells us of them, and it is only with her that we are at present concerned.
Whatever may be thought of these views, as bearing upon the argument from design, they will not be without their uses if they indicate more clearly than has sometimes been done, those peculiarities of design as manifested through general laws, by which, so far as it is unconnected with the heart, an atheistic impression is produced. To illustrate these, in connection with the argument from design, still farther, we shall make a few observations of somewhat wider compass.
There are two properties commonly ascribed to the works of nature, which if they can be proved from her own light, would seem to imply personality in the agent. These are wisdom and goodness.
Objections to the wisdom of nature, are derived from two sources. The first is the independent mode in which her laws act with reference to each other, the result of which is an apparent want of consistency, or of mutual understanding between her several departments. A wise man does not destroy with one hand what he has been at much pains to construct with the other. The tendency of animals to devour each other, may perhaps, when opposed to the instinct of self-preservation, be considered as a case of this kind. True it is that life is preserved and perpetuated, but it is only on the condition of death. “ Lise,” it is true, “ seats herself upon the sepulchre,” but then she digs the sepulchre upon which she sits; and nature, so far as she is carnivorous, seems as it were an animal that lives only by preying upon itself. But instances are more striking when taken from provinces of nature more distinct from each other. In one of her departments, we see innumerable blossoms put forth and elaborated with the nicest care, containing, to an indefinite extent, the germs of future fruitfulness; in another department, we see the frost come, and, without remorse, cut them off in a mo
ment. In the man falling from a precipice, we see nature, with one hand carrying on, with her wonted assiduity, the processes of life, while with the other, she is dashing him to destruction. The conflagration and tempest proceed with equal fury, whether they war with the laws of life or spend themselves upon inanimate matter. But the chief difficulty in discovering wisdom from the works of nature, arises from the fact that the real and ultimate end of her works is not discoverable by her light alone. Wisdom and knowledge are by no means identical. Wisdom is judged of from the end pursued; knowledge, from the means taken in pursuing it. Man is always a knowing, but not often a wise being. His contrivances are fitted to his ends, but his ends are folly. In inquiring, then, after the wisdom of nature, we must observe, not the means which she employs, not any subordinate end, but whether we can discover any ultimate end, and if so, what that is.
In looking for an ultimate end of nature, we should doubtless expect to find it, if any where, in man, since he is the epitome and crown of all that we behold. But when we observe the uncertainty and brevity of his life, heat and cold, hunger and thirst, poverty and disease, pressing upon him in that little space, when we see how all his faculties, and life itself, are, as it were, sported with, when we see the grinning idiot and the moody or raving maniac, when we see the pestilence sweep him suddenly into the grave, regardless of his aims or bis hopes, when we see him in no way more respected in any of nature's operations than the meanest insect, we cannot suppose that the end of all this mighty scheme is to be found in him. This conviction is especially strengthened when we consider the disorder of the passions, all “ the oppressions that are done under the sun," and in general, how the events in the moral world, whether man has to do with nature that brings all things alike to all, or whether he has to do with his fellow-men, conflict with our natural sense of order and of right. But if this end cannot be found in man, much less can it in the inferior animals, or in any thing unconscious, however beautifully organized. The instant indeed that this world is viewed as a preparatory dispensation, the whole face of things is changed. The instant we regard this visible and inaterial structure as a temporary staging which is to stand only till the completion of the true building, which is moral, spiritual, perfect, eternal,
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that instant do we discover an end worthy of this amazing scene of things, that instant do we discover wisdom. But this idea, nature and the works of nature do not give. To whatever extent it has existed in the minds of men, it has existed there, not from a pbilosophical examination of the works of nature, but from tradition, and froin reflecting upon the operations and forebodings of their own minds. If we suppose, as believers in revelation do, that the ultimate end of the present system is the establishment of such a moral and permanent government, then, to suppose that we can discover wisdom in it, without a knowledge of that end, is much the same as to suppose that we could discover wisdom in the contrivances for picking and carding cotton without knowing that cloth was to be made of it. Show us the cloth, the ultimate end, and then we are willing to admit that there is wisdom in the arrangements, though we may not understand them all; but no elaborateness of contrivance for a nugatory end, or for no end at all, can discover wisdom. What we would say, then, is that the true end of the works of nature being out of, and beyond then selves, is not discoverable from them; and that without some knowledge of what the end is in any work, we cannot tell whether there is wisdom displayed in it or not. It may be true, that to a mind of great compass, like that of bishop Butler, certain general tendencies are discoverable in nature, towards a great moral result, and these, when discovered, go strongly to confirm the direct evidence for that result; but they are not obvious to the mass of mankind, and when taken by themselves, are so obscure as to leave the greatest and best minds in distressing perplexity.
Several of the remarks made in regard to wisdom, apply equally to the subject of goodness as discoverable from the works of nature. If wisdom be not discoverable, then goodness cannot be, since goodness is a part of wisdom. How can it be known of any thing whether it be good, if the end or purpose of it be not known? Particular subordinate ends may be known, but heathen nations were entirely uncertain of the ultimate end of the present state of things. Certain it is, as Butler remarks, that many of the wisest among them considered this world as a place of punishment for the delinquencies of some former state of being. It would seem probable that the opinions of mankind on this subject might vary, as they were situated in different