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subsisting on a given amonnt of vegetation is vastly increased, and a wider expansion is given to the animal kingdom.
(4.) Putrefaction of the dead is prevented by a multitude of scavengers, who at the same time turn the flesh into manure for the vegetable kingdom; and thus plants feed animals, and animals feed plants,—one of nature's circles again.
The last two principles mentioned are of profonnd importance. The vegetable kingdom is a provision for the storing away or magazining of force for the animal kingdom. This force is acquired through the sun's influence or forces acting on the plant, and so promoting growth; mineral matter is thereby carried up to a higher grade of composition, that of starch, vegetable fibre and sugar, and this is a state of concentrated or accumulated force. To this stored force, animals go in order to carry forward their development; and moreover, the grade of composition thus rises still higher, to muscle and nerve, (which contain nitrogen in addition to the constituents of the plant,) and this is a magazining of force in a still more concentrated or condensed state. There are thus five states of stored force in nature--three in the inorganic, the solid, liquid, and gaseous; and two in the organic, the vegetable and animal.
Now what did the Creator do to meet this last and highest condition? Did he leave this magazined force to go wholly to waste by the death and decomposition of the plant-eaters? Just the contrary: he instituted an extensive system of flesheaters, which should live npon it, and continue it in action in sustaining animal life among successive tribes. The flow is taken at its hight, and the power is employed again and again, and inade gradually to ebb. What is left as the refuse is inorganic matter—the excreted carbonic acid, water, and excrements, with bones or any stony secretions present. Thus the flow starts at the inorganic kingdom, and returns again to the inorganic. Moreover, in the class of quadrupeds, (mammals,) the flesh of the herbivores (cattle) is among the means by which the animal type is borne to the higher grade of the carnivores. The true carnivores, besides, take the best of meat. Whales may live on the inferior animals of the sea; but the large forest flesh-eaters take beef and the like.
There is another admirable point in this scheme. The death and decomposition of plant-eaters would have rendered the waters and air, locally at least, destructive to life. It is well known that it is necessary in an aquarium to have flesh-eaters along with the plant-eaters and plants. And when in this way the living species are well balanced, the water will remain pure, and the animals live on indefinitely; if not so balanced, if an animal is left to decay, the waters become foul, and often everything dies. Putrefaction and noxious chemical combinations follow death, because, in lite, the constituents, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen, are in a constrained state, at the furthest remove from what chemical forces alone can produce; and hence, when the restraint is taken off at death, the elements fly into new conditions according to their affinities. Now animals, dying yearly by myriads, are met at death by an arrangement which makes the dead contribute anew to animal life as its aliment, and in this very process the flesh ultimately comes out innocuous, and is at last so far changed to the inorganic condition as to be the best of fertilizers for plants. Part of the process of getting rid of the great fleshy carcasses, consists in their minute subdivision by the feeding of larves of insects, and, further, an infinitesimal division of the insect as the food of the infusoria,-which again may become the nutriment of larger animals, to go the rounds
But the final result is, as stated, plant-foodlargely through the processes of digestion and excretion, but part through the decomposition of animals that are too small and readily dried up to prove offensive.
Thus the carnivorous tribes were necessary to make the system of life perfect. The wheels are surely well adjusted: which bears most the taint of sin ?
One word respecting the necessity of a check on the excessive multiplication of individuals. Nature, as just now observed, is a system of constantly varying conditions—of changing seasons, winds, clouds; of inconstancy, under law, in all forces and circumstances. At the same time, the growth of a species requires the nicest adjustment of special conditions in each case. On this account the reproductive powers in species is in many cases excessively large, so that the various
accidents to which the eggs or young would be exposed, might not cause their extermination. This provision opened the way for occasional excessive inultiplication, and required a check from carnivorous races.
6. Finally, could death be prevented in a system of living beings in nature without constant miracle? How should the earth be managed to secure it against death? It would be necessary to still the waves, for they are throwing animals and plants on the coast to die; to still the winds, for they are ever destroying in some parts of their course; to still even the streams and rains. With winds and waves, not only helpless animals and plants, but men's houses, ships, and boats, would now and then be destroyed, in spite of prudent precaution and holy living. But if you still the waves, the winds, and the streams, the earth would rot in the stagnation, and here again is death!
We thus learn that in life the fundamental idea of reproduction implies death-the processes of life are the processes simultaneously of death—the stability of the system of life requires death-the vegetable kingdom is made to feed animals—the animal kingdom, while containing plant-eaters, demands flesheaters for its own balance, for the removal of the dead, and to make out of dead flesh the proper food for plants, thus to pay its.
, debt to the vegetable kingdom. Hence death pervades the whole system of life in its essence and physical laws; and it could not be prevented in a world of active forces except by a constant miracle, which would be an annihilation of nature, that is, of a system of law.
It has thus far been shown that whatever impress of man's sin belongs to geological catastrophes, earthquakes, deserts, deformity, and death, is attached to the law of contraction and expansion by change of temperature—variation in chemical or cohesive attraction with temperature—mutual reaction or sympathy of all molecular forces—the fundamental laws of chemistry, since these are at the basis of all vital processes, the central idea of life as a system, as well as its special arrangements in the existing world—and, therefore, to the very nature of the elements and molecules of matter and the kingdoms of life.
We might go further in the subject of death and adduce some reasons for believing that the universe has the mark upon it;—that the planets are only extinguished suns; that the burning suns are on the way to extinction; that all forces are tending towards that equilibrium which is death ; that in nature there is no cessation,-progress, as in the earth from an imperfect to a perfect state, implying still progressing change beyond the condition of perfection to a decay or loss of that in which its perfection consists ;—that therefore what is finite in the material world is necessarily finite in duration, through its own inherent conditions of existence. But in these views we are launching out beyond the range of knowledge, and we desist. Respecting such inferences it can always be said, that there may be compensation somewhere in nature, of which we, in our short-sightedness, know nothing. And yet, as the prophet says “ the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll,” and science thinks she hears whisperings of the same solemn words from the depths of nature, it may be no presumption to believe and utter them.
But there are other points to be considered.
VII. Absence of beauty among living forms.—There are several sources of this absence of external beauty.
1. Beauty of form is not, and could not, in nature, be properly a primary end.
2. The display of a system of life implies a display of the laws of life, in all their diversity of special results, or in all their various capabilities; such a display, also, as would be sufficient to make that system intelligible to intelligent man.
3. A perfect system should be admirable and perfect in its grand whole; but this does not require beauty of form in all details. The animal of most perfect model has not beauty of outline in the independent detail of every organ within and without, but such a harmonious blending of the various parts with one another as shall produce the effect of beauty. We may as well judge of an animal from a microscopic view of the hairs on its body, or of a landscape from the forms of the stones in the soil, or of each individual tree in the forest, as of the system of life from a sight of individual animals. There is profounder beauty in the system than that which is made for the glancing eye alone.
4. Confining our view to a smaller range than that of the system of life, beauty is still always to be judged of by reference to a more comprehensive circle of harmony than centers in the single object alone.
A fragment of rongh bark by itself has no lines of beauty. But in its place on the tree, the harmony of smooth or ridgy surface and coloring with the form of the branches and the form and tint of the leaves and flowers repels all charges of inappropriateness in the picture. A fungus in a parlor is as unsightly as the piece of bark, and smells worse. But in the forest it is made to harmonize with the bark of the trees; it is a plant of the shade, and is in perfect concord with the old trunks about which it grows. Mushrooms and related plants start up in moist places about dead wood, and while better looking than the decaying trunk, contribute to its decomposition and reduction to a condition fitted for making soil; and they are not discordant with their assigned place or duty. They are examples of life in death, of which nature is full. The lichen is coarse, dry, and gray ; but clinging about the rocks and stumps, or hanging from the branches, the most fastidious taste cannot complain.
5. The diversity of forms in nature, while in part arising from the character of the system of life itself, is also to a great extent due to the special adaptation of species under the types to different modes of life, or different purposes ; as, for example, their ways of securing prey, their kinds of prey, their circumstances of living, means of self-protection, and so on. A fish, to lie close along the bottom, mostly buried in the sand or mud for its protection, and grub up its food, may well have just the modifications in form and the position of its month and eyes, which we find in the halibut and flounder. The character of the internal skeleton and general plan of fishes is in the way of their being flattened much vertically; and hence the effect is brought about by putting both eyes on one side, and so making the opposite side the under surface. The wonderful system of adaptations, exemplified in every part of the animal kingdom, explains the strange form. There