« ПредишнаНапред »
differ in hight, becoming dwarfed on the one hand, or overluxuriant and fruitless on the other. For each species, there is a normal condition, or certain limits within which the highest or normal perfection is attained; and then outside of these limits, there are less and less perfect results.* The fact is, then, that there is law; but, also, under this law, there is liability to variations, or a possible accommodation to the varying circumstances; and hence, the varying forms and productiveness.
But these variations are not always imperfections. We cannot rightly say, that if every leaf on a tree had been made of precisely the same identical form, or every crystal of a mineral of the same precise number of facets, or the trees of any particular kind of just the same number of branches, starting off at the same uniform angle, that this uniformity would have been better or more beautiful than the present diversity.
Even in cases amounting to actual deformity, the violations are not necessarily evil. Perfect law would require every mineral to come forth in distinct crystals; for Crystals, Plants, Animals, are the three classes of perfect individuals in nature. But the law is almost universally violated, and instead of perfect crystals, we have granite made of grains. A granite of facetted crystals would be a worthless, brittle rock; but composed of crystalline grains, it is the best of architectural materials. Should it be asked, Why is it that crystal perfection is so rare? What but this—that the blot of sin is on the earth's very foundations? We should have to say, that the blot of sin in this case, if such it be, is a very good thing.
The necessary interaction of Nature's forces will be appreciated, if it is understood that according to the recent results of science, these forces are commutable, as if only different conditions or modes of action of one force or pair of forces; that electricity or galvanism may be changed into magnetism, and the reverse; that all three, with heat and light, may be a result of disturbed chemical attraction; that heat may be transformed into work or mechanical force, and work into heat. It accords with the necessary constitution of a Nature, that there should be a correlation and unity of law among all forces.
* We ascertain what is normal (or, according to law) by studying the object under its most favorable condition of development, or the most favorable for the action of any organizing forces. We thus learn that regular crystals are the normally perfect state of an inorganic compound; and studying further, we arrive at a particular system of forms for any specific compound.
Moreover, this mutual influence of nature's forces is but part of the grander law which includes mutual sympathy and influence among men or spirits. It is a law by which any one
. force will react on any other; in which the good may influence the evil, as well as the evil the good. But, as we observe beyond, it is guarded by a tendency to the right in nature, and must be, also, in the world above nature, or the spiritual, as long as there is an Infinite Spirit for the right.
V. Pain.-Sensibility to pain is a grand characteristic of animals, evincing their superiority to stones and plants. This sensibility is directly related to the grade of life. At the lower end of the scale, a polyp, while moving over the rough rocky support on which it rests, will sometimes tear off pieces of its flesh and leave them behind, as if of no account; and if cut into bits, the parts will grow into perfect polyps again, as a cutting from a tree into the perfect tree. Man, at the other end of the series, may be killed by the point of a needle. It is well known that there is a direct relation, in this sensibility, to the nervous system. In the polyp there are no distinct nerves and only the general sense of feeling, and this of the lowest possible grade. In the oyster there is a head ganglion or nervous mass, besides a posterior ganglion; but there are no eyes, and only a dull sense of feeling. This sense is possibly localized as touch, in a pair of organs about the mouth, and possibly, also, as a sense of taste. In the snail, there are distinct eyes, or the sense of sight is individualized, but the organs are little sensitive to the light; and beyond this, there is no addition to the localized senses. In insects there are better eyes, a more delicate sense of touch serving perhaps for ears and smell, but no localized organ of hearing or smelling, as far as we know; and they will march away, even when the body behind the legs is cut off. In fishes, there are all the senses, but they are of very low grade of development and sensibility; the crystalline lens is a sphere ; and the ear is a simple internal cavity, with a loose bone, and no external opening. In reptiles there is an advance in the senses, but yet the class is noted for comparative insensibility to pain, and a very slow rate of dying after decapitation. Thus there is a gradation upward to man, in whom all the senses have their highest perfection, and the sense of pain is the most exquisite.
The system is thus one in which dull sensibility to pain is a mark of stupidity in its various grades. But the senses are not primarily a means of pain, but of pleasure and good. The end is beneficent. Still it so stands that sensibility to pleasure is precisely measured by the sensibility to pain. Whatever means we apply to ourselves in order to diminish sensibility, diminishes together both pain and pleasure. This, then, is the fundamental law of the animal kingdom, from top to bottom. Pain, therefore, stands related to pleasure precisely as the imperfect to the perfect, or evil to the good, disobedience to obedience, in the case of all law. IIence, if pain be an evil prospective of sin, the prophecy is in the very essence of the animal nature. It is part of that system of polarities or opposites which make up nature. Consequently, any method of rendering man, while in the body, susceptible to pleasure alone, except it be by moral means, would contravene the whole system of nature, and it could, therefore, be carried out only by miracle.
VI. Death.-1. The creation of a plant with “seed in itself," as dioses states in his concise description, was the simultaneous institution of life and death. It was the establishment of an incoming and outgoing stream, to be in constant flow as long as the kingdoms of life should last. It is an incessant renewal of youth, and rejection of age.
All life is a system of progressing change in cycles—the germ first, thien the embryo, the young, the adult, and last, the seed or germ again, to continue the rounds; the adult sooner or later disappearing from the field of progress, and then from the sphere of existence. Death is implied in the very inception of the schenie.
2. Death is also in every step of the process of life. For the living being is throwing off effete matter during all its growth; the change is constant, so that with each year a large part of the material in our bodies has passed away and been replaced by new. Moreover, the force which had been expended in making a cell, or particle of tissue, goes to forin a new cell or particle when the former dies, and was needed for the new formation going on. Force is not lost or wasted, but used again. There is unceasing flow, and in this flow is life; its cessation is death.
3. The kingdom of plants was instituted to turn mineral matter into organic, that the higher kingdom of animals might thereby have the means of sustenance; for no animal can live on mineral matter. Now this living of animals on plants implies the death of plants.
Again, the rocks of the globe are, to a great extent, made of the remains of dead animals.
4. The chemistry of life, also, required death. Life in the plant or animal is sustained by means of nutriment, and continued consuming, with no compensating system, would evidently end in an exhaustion of any finite supply. A perfect adjustment was therefore necessary, by which nutriment should sustain life, and life contribute to the nutriinent. Now the plant takes up carbonic acid, (consisting of carbon and oxygen,) from the atmosphere, appropriates the carbon, and gives back the oxygen. Yet there is no tendency to an exhaustion of the atmospheric carbonic acid, or an over supply of the oxygen; for death strikes an exact balance.
The death of the plant ends in a change of all its carbon into carbonic acid again. Thus the plant, as it grows, decomposes carbonic acid to get carbon, and then ends in making, by its decay, as much carbonic acid, and restoring it to the atmosphere. Thus, through death the compensation is perfect. The atmosphere loses only what it receives. Again, as just now observed, the plant in growing gives oxyger to the atmosplere. But in the decay of the plant, the carbonic acid formed is made by taking up the same amount of oxygen. The same carbon that lost oxygen when becoming a part of the plant, takes it again at the decay. The system is hence complete. The parts play into one another in perpetual inter
change. Take death and decay out of the system, and it would not work. *
Animal life, as above stated, was made to subsist on plants. But the scheme is so well managed as not to disturb the balance made by the vegetable kingdom alone. For all the carbon of animals comes from plants. The plants which feed an animal, and which, on decay, would have turned into carbonic acid, become changed into carbonic acid in the course of the growth of the animal, so that the whole amount of carbonic acid which the animal makes, is only what the plants would have made if left to natural decay. Thus the higher kingdom of life is introduced and sustained, and yet the balance remains undisturbed. The system is perfect. Does, then, death foreshadow"the guilty pains of the apostasy,” or is it, on the contrary, an essential part of any system of life in nature ?
5. Again, one part of the animal kingdom, through every class, is made to eat up the other part, or at least live on it. The flesh-eaters are of all grades, low and high, from the infusorium and maggot, to the lion and man. Some take what is already dead or decomposing; others kill and eat. On this subject we observe:
(1.) Death is in the system of nature—death from earthqnake, lightning, and all moving forces, as well as by natural decay; and the creation of carnivorous animals was hence in harmony with the system.
(2.) Various noxious animals are held in check by the carnivorous species.
(3.) By means of flesh-eaters, the diversity of animal species
* In early geological history there was an excess of carbonic acid in the atmosphere. This excess was removed to a great extent, by the growth of plants during the carboniferous era. Vegetable material decaying under water does not undergo complete decomposition, and thus part of the carbon is left behind; and so far as there is carbon left, there is an actual abstraction of carbonic acid from the atmosphere, by the process of growth. The coal era was a period of great marshes; and by this means the needed purification of the atmosphere was effected, preparing it for land life. The amount abstracted now by the same means is very small, and may be balanced by the carbonic acid from mineral sources, or changes over the globe.