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them, and flowers sprung up under their feet, then, we might suppose that our first parents were placed in a scene of profusion and beauty-suited to their helpless condition-and unlike what we see now in the course of nature. It is not very wise to entertain the subject at all; but if it is to be discussed, this is starting altogether wide of the question. We do not desire to know how a whole tribe migrating westward, could find sustenance,—but in what state man could be created and live, without a deviation from what is called the uniform course of nature. If the first man had been formed helpless as an infant, he must have perished: and if mature in body, he must have been gifted with faculties suited to his condition. A human being, pure from the Maker's hands, with desires and passions implanted in him adapted to his state, and with a suitable theatre of existence, implies something very near what we have been early taught to believe.
In every change which the globe has undergone, an established relation is perceived between the animal that has been created, and the elements around it. It is idle to suppose that this has been a matter of chance. Either the structure and functions of the animal must have been formed to correspond to the condition of the elements, or the elements must have been controlled to minister to the necessities of the animal; and if, in contemplating all the inferior gradations of animal existence, the most careful investigation leads us to this conclusion, what makes us so unwilling to admit such an influence, in the last grand work of creation, the introduction of man?
We cannot resist these proofs of a beginning, or of a First Cause. When we are bold enough to extend our inquiries into those great revolutions that have taken place, whether in the condition of the earth, or in the structure of the animals which have inhabited it, our notions of the "uniformity" of the course of nature must suffer some modification. At certain epochs, changes in the face of the globe have been wrought, and beings differing from those previously, or now existing, must have been brought into existence. Such interference is not contrary to the great scheme of creation; it is so only to our present state. For the most wise and benevolent purposes, a conviction is implanted in our nature that we may rely on the course of events being permanent. We belong to a certain epoch; and it is when
our ambitious thoughts carry us beyond our natural condition, that we feel how much our faculties are confined, and our conceptions, as well as our language, imperfect. We must either abandon these speculations altogether, or cease to argue purely from our present situation.
It has now been made manifest, that man, and the animals inhabiting the earth, have been created with reference to the magnitude of the globe;- that their living endowments bear a relation to the elements around them. We have also learned that the system of animal bodies, notwithstanding the diversity of forms that meet the eye, is simple and universal: that it not only embraces all living creatures, but has been continued from periods of the greatest antiquity, according to the geological calculations of time. The most obvious appearances, and the labours of the geologist, give us reason to believe that the earth has not always been in the state in which it is now presented to us. Every substance that we see is compound; we nowhere obtain the elements of things: the most solid materials of the globe are formed of decompounded and reunited parts. Changes, therefore, have been wrought on the general surface, with long periods, or epochs, intervening; and the proofs of these are as distinct as the furrows on a field are indicative that the plough has passed over it. In short, progressive changes, from the lowest to the highest state of organisation and of enjoyment, point to the great truth, that there was a beginning.
There is nothing in the inspection of the species of animals, which countenances the idea of a return of the world to any former condition. When we acknowledge that animals have been created in succession and with an increasing complexity of parts, we are not to be understood as admitting that there is here proof of a growing maturity of power, or an increasing effort in the Creator. And for this very plain reason, which we have stated before, that the bestowing of life, or the union of the vital principle with the material body, is a manifestation of power, superior to that displayed in the formation of an organ, or the combination of many organs, or construction of the most complex animal mechanism. It is not, therefore, a greater power that we see in operation; but a power manifesting itself in the perfect and successive adaptation of one thing to another -of vitality and organisation to inorganic matter.
We mark changes in the earth's surface, and observe, at the same time, corresponding changes in the animal creation. We remark varieties, in the outward form, size, and general condition of animals, with corresponding varieties in the internal organisation, until we find Man created, of undoubted pre-eminence over all, and placed suitably in a bounteous condition of the earth.
There is extreme grandeur in the thought of an anticipating or prospective intelligence: in the reflection that what was finally accomplished in man, was begun in times incalculably remote. Most certainly the original crust of the earth has been fractured and burst up, that its contents might be exposed; that they might be resolved and washed away by the vicissitudes of heat, cold, and rain: mountains and valleys have been formed the changes of temperature in the atmosphere have ensured continual motion and healthful circulation: the plains have been made salubrious, and the damps which hung on the low grounds have gathered on the mountains in clouds, so that refreshing showers have brought down the soil to fertilise the plain. In this manner have been supplied the means necessary for man's existence; with objects suited to excite his ingenuity, to reward it, and to develop all the various properties both of his body and of his mind. And thus it is, "that the invisible things, from the creation of the world, are perceived by what we do see."
Nor are these conclusions too vast to be drawn from the examination of a part so small as the Human Hand; since we have shown that the same system of parts which constitutes the perfection of that instrument adapted to our condition, had its type in the members of those vast animals which inhabited the bays and inland lakes of a former world. If we seek to discover the relations of things, how sublime is that established between the state of the earth's surface, which has resulted from a long succession of revolutions, and the final condition of its inhabitants, as created in accordance with these changes!
To our measure of time, nothing is more surprising than the slowness with which the designs of Providence have been fulfilled. But as far as we can penetrate by the light of natural knowledge, the condition of the earth, and with it, Man's destinies, have hitherto been accomplished in great epochs.
We have been engaged in comparing the structure, organs, and capacity of man and of animals. We have traced a relation. But we have also observed a broad line of separation between them-Man alone capable of reason, affection, gratitude, and religion: sensible to the progress of time, conscious of the decay of his strength and faculties, of the loss of friends, and the approach of death.
One who was the idol of his day has recorded his feelings on the loss of his son, in nearly these words:-"We are as well as those can be who have nothing further to hope or fear in this world. We go in and out, but without the sentiments that can create attachment to any spot. We are in a state of quiet, but it is the tranquillity of the grave, in which all that could make life interesting to us is laid." If in such a state there were no refuge for the mind, then were there something wanting in the scheme of nature :—an imperfection in man's condition, at variance with the benevolence which is manifested in all other parts of animated nature.
The extension of knowledge does not always direct the mind to the most consolatory contemplations. We may contrast the ancient philosopher with the modern. The former, viewing everything as suited, or subordinate to man, considered him as a "little god, harboured in a human body," and yielded unresistingly to the sentiments which flowed directly from the objects and phenomena around him.
But as the period advanced when by philosophical inquiry, experiment, and the improvement of optical instruments, vision was extended to objects too remote, or too minute for its natural sphere when, instead of the wide plane and visible horizon of the stable earth, our globe was thought of as a ball rolling, amidst myriads greater than it, through infinite space; there was a danger that man would consider his own position with different sentiments; that he would fall back with the impression of the littleness of all belonging to him; that his life would seem but a point of time, compared with geological periods; his body as a mere atom driven about amidst unceasing changes of the material world. To him, "the earth, with Man upon it, does not seem much more than an ant-hill, where some ants carry corn, and some carry their young, and some go empty, and all to and fro a little heap of dust."
The danger of adopting such disproportioned views of man's estate, is greater to the scholar than to the philosopher. He who has the power and the genius to investigate nature, will not be satisfied with the discovery of secondary causes; his mind will become enlarged, and his thoughts more elevated. It is otherwise with him who learns, at second-hand, the result of those inquiries. If such an one see the fire of heaven brought down into a phial, or materials compounded to produce an explosion louder than the thunder, and ten times more destructive, the storm will no longer speak an impressive language to him. When, in watching the booming waves of a tempestuous sea along the coast, he marks the line at which the utmost violence of the ocean is stemmed, and by an unseen influence thrown back, he is more disposed to feel the providence extended to man, than when the theory of the moon's action is, as it were, interposed between the scene which he contemplates, and the sentiments naturally arising in his breast. Those influences which are natural and just, and have served to develop the sentiments of millions before him, are dismissed as vulgar and to be despised. With the pride of newly-acquired knowledge, his conceptions embarrass, if they do not mislead him; in short, he has not had that intellectual discipline which should precede and accompany the acquisition of knowledge.
But a man, of the highest order of genius, may lose the just estimate of himself from another cause. The sublime nature of his studies may consign him to depressing thoughts. He may forget the very attributes of his mind, which have privileged these high contemplations, and the ingenuity of the hand, which has so extended the sphere of his observation. The remedy, to such a mind, is in the studies which we are enforcing. The heavenly bodies in their motions through space, are held in their orbits by the continuance of a Power not more wonderful or more to be admired, than that by which a globule of blood is suspended in the mass of fluids—or by which, in due season, it is attracted and resolved; than that by which a molecule entering into the composition of the body, is driven through a circle of revolutions and made to undergo different states of aggregation becoming sometime, a part of a fluid, sometime an ingredient of a solid, and finally cast out again, from the influence of the living forces.