Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

scientific form from the plastic genius of Leibnitz, has from that time been slowly supplanting all other hypotheses, and appears destined ultimately to supersede them all.

The peculiarity of this theory is, that in their last analysis it resolves both mind and matter into forces or indivisible monads. All monads are alike in that they equally contain an inward energy by virtue of which they develop themselves spontaneously, but they are different, inasmuch as each has certain peculiarities agreeably to which it develops. Thus the material universe is composed of unconscious monads, the soul of a brute is an indistinctly conscious, and that of a man a distinctly conscious, monad.

Recondite as is this theory, and subtle as is the analysis on which it is founded, it surpasses all others in simplicity, consistency, and unity; perhaps in all those conditions most in harmony with the tendencies of metaphysical philosophy in the nineteenth century. • At any rate, so far as accepted, it must be regarded as highly favorable to our present argument. The conception of a monad (whether conscious or unconscious) is that of an invisible, uncompounded force-a simple, absolute unit, and as such could have had, of course, but one absolute cause.

And not only this, but any theory of the human mind which supposes its indivisibility, furnishes a proof of the same sort for the existence of one God.

Even if, on any hypothesis, the simplicity and consequent indiscerptibility of the mind is incapable of proof, it is certain that the idea of our personality revealed in consciousness, is that of an indivisible personality, a simple effect proving to a demonstration, that it is to be ascribed to one cause, and only one, and that an intelligent personal Cause.

In the external universe, intimations of an absolute unity are no less numerous or decisive. The law of gravitation furnishes an example both corroborative and suggestive. To cite a passage from Humboldt relating to it, (one of many equally pertinent which abound in the Cosmos :) “The immortal author of the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Newton) succeeding in embracing the whole uranological por

tion of the Cosmos in the casual connection of its phenomena, by the assumption of one all-controlling, fundamental, moving force. He first applied physical astronomy to solve a great problem in mechanics, and elevated it to the rank of a mathematical science. The quantity of matter in every celestial body gives the amount of its attracting force; a force which acts in an inverse ratio to the square of the distance, and determines the amount of the disturbances, which not only the planets but all the bodies in celestial space exercise on each other. But the Newtonian theory of gravitation, so worthy of our admiration from its simplicity and generality, is not limited in its cosmical application to the uranological sphere, but comprises also telluric phenomena, in directions not yet fully investigated; it affords the clue to the periodic move. ments in the ocean and the atmosphere; and solves the probblems of capillarity, of endosmosis, and of many chemical, electro-magnetic, and organic processes. Newton even distinguished the attraction of masses, as manifested in the motion of cosmical bodies, and in the phenomena of the tides, from molecular attraction, which acts at infinitely small distances, · and in the closest contact.

“Thus we see that among the various attempts which have been made to refer whatever is unstable in the sensuous world to a single fundamental principle, the theory of gravitation is the most comprehensive and the richest in cosmical results. It is indeed true that, notwithstanding the brilliant progress that has been made in recent times in stechiometry, (the art of calculating with chemical elements, and in the relations of volume of mixed gases,) all the physical theories of matter have not yet been referred to mathematically determinable principles of explanation. Empirical laws have been recog. nized, and by means of the extensively diffused views of the atomic or corpuscular philosophy, many points have been rendered more accessible to mathematical investigation; but owing to the unbounded heterogeneousness of matter, and the manifold conditions of aggregation of particles, the proofs of these empirical laws can not as yet by any means be developed from the theory of contact attraction, with that certainty which characterizes the establishment of Kepler's three great empirical laws derived from the theory of the attraction of masses or gravitation."

But, further, where there is no absolute, there may be virtual unity in an effect, as in the construction of a watch or a steam-engine, in which all the parts visibly conspire to one end. In such an organism, the unity of intention discernible irresistibly proves the unity of its cause.

Now the universe is such an effect. It is an organism in which all the parts are essential to the whole. Light, heat, electricity, chemical affinity, gravitation, are the universal forces which by their united and harmonious action maintain a constant equilibrium.

“In the unity of nature,” says Aristotle, “there is nothing unconnected or out of place, as in a bad tragedy,” (Metaphys. lib. XIII. cap. III.)

Froin Hume, also, a survey of the universe extorted the notable confession, (notable from its source)

6 All things are evidently of a piece. Every thing is adjusted to every thing. One design prevails through the whole.”

Satisfactorily as this could have been shown fifty years ago, it has since been more clearly demonstrated by the discovery of a regular plan in the geological structure of the globe, the configuration of the continents, the disposition of land and water, and in the constitution of all organized matter, especi. ally of animals, all of which are now reduced to one of four great classes, according as in their structure they are radiata, mollusca, articulata, or vertebra.

Goethe, whose genius seems to have been well-nigh universal, was the first to conceive the idea from d priori considerations which he gave to the world in a poetic dress. In a very brief period, however, the dreams of the poet were fully realized by the series of brilliant generalizations, begun by Cuvier, and so successfully carried out by Humboldt and Agassiz. Among these discoveries is the important fact, that all vertebrata, fishes, as well as reptiles, as well as birds, as well as mammalia, arise from eggs which have one and the same uniform structure in the beginning, and proceed to produce ani

mals as widely different as they are in their full-grown state, simply by successive gradual metamorphoses ; and these metamorphoses are upon one and the same plan, according to one and the same general process. And even before this discovery showed how deep was the type of the plan, the general unity of structure in vertebrates was a fact well established, though by less radical and irrefragable proofs.

Cuvier, in his comparative anatomy, had shown that the external differences which characterize the class of fishes, of reptiles, of birds, of mammalia, were only modifications of one and the same structure; that the head of fishes, for example, though apparently so different from that of man, is made up of the same bones, arranged in the same manner. .

Hence, no recent work on physiology treats of a physiology peculiar to man, or any single class of animals. Almost every organ of one (with its processes) is essentially repeated in all others. In fine, it is true of the whole animal kingdom that, though subdivided into various groups, all the members of those groups are constructed on one and the same plan.

And not only is this true of the present races of animals inhabiting the globe, but if we go back to examine the structure of such as are now extinct, (whose fossil remains are found imbedded in the strata of different geological periods,) so far from discovering that another great scheme then prevailed, we find nothing but traces of the same plan with this modification, the full-grown animal then had the same appearance as the corresponding types now bear in their embryotic state.'

Passing from the animal to the vegetable kingdom, illustrations of this virtual unity of effect, equally apt and scarcely less numerous, offer themselves to our notice.

The relations by which the two are connected are also of the same character. Indeed, the contrivance and adaptations of both are essential to each.

Thus animals consume the oxygen of the air and give back carbonic acid, which is injurious to their life, but is the principal food of vegetables, and as such, is consumed by them, while they again furnish animals with a fresh supply of oxygen.

Again, organized matter passes through various stages in vegetables, is raised to higher conditions in the herbivorous, and undergoes its final transformations in the carnivorous ani. mals; portions are consumed at every stage, and leaving the ascending current, fall back to the mineral kingdom to which the whole returns, having found an ultima thule in animals of the highest class.

Now we have here something more than a mere aggregate of parts; we have indubitable evidence of a system in which the final result is effected by a previous subordination of many parts. And as each part has an intimate connection with every other part, as well as with the complete whole, we infer that they were planned by one Mind, whose infinite understanding embraced the whole from the beginning.

Of course, if every department of physical science, every object and every class of objects in nature, taken by itself, is rich in materials for such proofs, then the totality of these, the world we inhabit, and specially the universe as a whole, must furnish incontestable evidence that there is one God, and but one God, the original Creator, Supreme Ruler, and final Arbiter of all, the Great Original and Exemplar of our own spiritual nature.

We have already spoken of the plan, the unity of design, revealed in the successive geological periods of our globe, and of the consummation of that plan in the present state of its surface, and in the constitution of the animals and plants that cover it.

Marks of one contriving Mind fill earth, sea, and sky. The phenomena of the universe combine unity with diversity and order with boundless variety-order in the aggregate and endless diversity in the details. The beautiful harmonies between the organic and the inorganic world, the nice arrangements and curious adaptations observed in each, the simplicity and uniformity of the general plan on which the creation of the whole has proceeded, are so many examples illustrative of this proposition.

Still more decisive are the revelations of astronomy; and that, whether we consider the variety of the material universe,

« ElőzőTovább »