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Our argument, in the early part of the volume, has shown Man, by the power of the Hand, (as the ready instrument of the mind,) accommodated to every condition through which his destinies are to be accomplished. We first see the hand ministering to his necessities, and sustaining the life of the individual. In a second stage of his progress, we see it adapted to the wants of society, when man becomes a labourer and an artificer. In a state still more advanced, science is brought in aid of mechanical ingenuity, and the elements which seemed adverse to the progress of society, become the means conducing to it. The seas, which at first set limits to nations, and grouped mankind into families, are now the means by which they are associated. Philosophical chemistry has subjected the elements to man's use; and all tend to the final accomplishment of the great objects to which everything, from the beginning, has pointed-the multiplication and distribution of mankind, and the enlargement of the sources of man's comfort and enjoyment-the relief from too incessant toil, and the consequent improvement of the higher faculties of his nature. Instinct has directed animals, until they are spread to the utmost verge of their destined places of abode. Man too is borne onwards; and although, on consulting his reason, much is dark and doubtful, yet does his genius operate to fulfil the same design, enlarging the sphere of life and enjoyment.
Whilst we have before us the course of human progress, as in a map, we are recalled to a nearer and more important consideration for what to us avail all these proofs of Divine power-of harmony in nature-of design-the predestined accommodation of the earth, and the creation of man's frame and faculties, if we are stopped here? if we perceive no more direct relation between the individual and the Creator? But we are not so precluded from advancement. On the contrary, reasons accumulate at every step, for a higher estimate of the living soul, and give us assurance that its condition is the final object and end of all this machinery, and of these successive revolutions.
To this must be referred the weakness of the frame, and its liability to injury, the helplessness of infancy, the infirmities of age, the pains, diseases, distresses, and afflictions of life—for by such means is man to be disciplined-his faculties and virtues unfolded, and his affections drawn to a spiritual Protector.
As every instinct, or sense, has an end, or design; and every emotion in man has its object and direction; we must conclude that the desire of communing with God is but another test of his being destined for a future existence, and the longing after immortality the promise of it.
[THE MECHANICAL PROPERTIES OF THE SOLID STRUCTURE OF THE ANIMAL BODY CONSIDERED.
To prepare us for perceiving design in the various internal structures of an animal body, we must first of all know that perfect security against accidents is not consistent with the scheme of nature. A liability to pain and injury only proves how entirely the human body is formed with reference to the Mind since, without the continued call to exertion, which danger and the uncertainty of life infer, the development of our faculties would be imperfect, and the mind would remain, as it were, uneducated.
The contrivances (as we should say of things of art) for protecting the vital organs, are not absolute securities against accidents; but they afford protection in that exact measure or degree calculated to resist the shocks and pressure to which we are exposed, in the common circumstances of life. A man can walk, run, leap, and swim, because the texture of his frame, the strength and power of his limbs, and the specific gravity of his body, are in relation to all around him. But were the atmosphere lighter, the earth larger, or its attraction greater— were he, in short, an inhabitant of another planet, there would be no correspondence between the strength, gravity, and muscular power of his body, and the elements around him; and the balance in the chances of life would be destroyed.
Without such considerations, the reader would fall into the mistake, that weakness and liability to fracture imply imperfection in the frame of the body; whereas a deeper contemplation of the subject will convince him of the incomparable perfection both of the plan and of the execution. The body is intended to be subject to derangement and accident, and to become, in the course of life, more and more fragile, until, by some failure in the framework or vital actions, life terminates.
And this leads us to reflect on the best means of informing ourselves of the intention or design shown in this fabric. Can there be any better mode of raising our admiration than by comparing it with things of human invention? It must be allowed that we shall not find a perfect analogy. If we compare it with the forms of architecture-the house or the bridge is not built for motion, but for solidity and firmness, on the principle of gravitation. The ship rests in equilibrium, prepared for passive motion, and the contrivances of the shipbuilder are designed for resisting an external force. Whereas in the animal body, we perceive securities against the gravitation of the parts; provisions to withstand shocks and injuries from without; at the same time that the framework is calculated to sustain an internal impulse from the muscular force, which moves the bones as levers, or, like an hydraulic engine, propels the fluids through the body.
As in things artificially contrived, lightness and motion are balanced against solidity and weight, so it is in the animal body. A house is built on a foundation, immoveable; and the slightest shift of the ground, followed by the ruin of the house, brings no discredit on the builder; for he proceeds on the certainty of strength from gravitation on a fixed foundation. But a ship is built with reference to motion; to receive an impulse from the wind, and to move through the water: in comparison with the fabric founded on the fixed and solid ground, it becomes subjected to new influences, and in proportion as it is fitted to move rapidly in a light breeze, it is exposed to founder in the storm. A log of wood, or a Dutch dogger, almost as solid as a log, is comparatively safe in the trough of the sea during a storm-when a bark, slightly built and fitted for lighter breezes, would be shaken to pieces; that is to say, the
masts and rigging of a ship (the provisions for its motion) may become the source of weakness, and, perhaps, of destruction; and safety is thus voluntarily sacrificed in part, to obtain another property, motion.
So in the animal body: sometimes we see the safety of parts provided for by strength calculated for inert resistance; but when made for motion, when light and easily influenced, they become proportionally weak and exposed; unless some other principle be admitted, and a different kind of security be substituted for that of weight and solidity: still a certain insecurity arises from this delicacy of structure.
We have already had occasion to show that there is always a balance between the power of exertion, and the capability of resistance, in the living body. A horse or a deer receives a shock in alighting from a leap; but still the inert power of resisting that shock, bears a relation to the muscular power with which it springs. And so it is in man; the elasticity and strength of his limbs are always accommodated to his activity. But it is obvious, that in a fall, the shock which the lower extremities are calculated to resist, may come on the upper extremity; which, from being adapted for extensive and rapid motion, is incapable of sustaining the impulse, and the bones are broken or displaced.
The analogy between the structure of the human body and the works of human contrivance, is, therefore, not perfect. Sometimes the material is different, sometimes the end to be attained is not precisely the same; and, above all, in the animal body a double object is often secured by the structure or framework, which cannot be accomplished by mere human ingenuity, and of which, therefore, we can offer no illustration strictly correct. However ingenious our contrivances may be, they are not only limited, but they present a sameness which becomes tiresome. Nature, on the contrary, gives us the same objects of interest, or images of beauty, with such variety, that they lose nothing of their influence and attraction by repetition.
If, from a too careless survey of external nature, and the consequent languor of his reflections, the reader have an imperfect notion of design and providence, we hope that the mere novelty of the instances we have to place before him, may carry con