Imagini ale paginilor

proof of his immateriality. No axiom more uniformly applies to matter than, 'The greater contains the less. Our bodies are confined to one spot of the earth only, from which they can move but slowly and at great labour; but within this confined body we have our conscious self, which, without leaving the body, can instantly move to the ends of creation and embrace every part of it; and, vast beyond calculation as the universe is, and abounding as it does in qualities of endlessly diversified combination, can receive them all. And when a fact is discovered which multiplies many million times other facts, so far from feeling a repletion which refuses to accept more, the new acquisition has enlarged the ability of future gain proportionate to its own vastness, and thus shows the presence of ability within us, limitless as the universe. This entity, to which no material quality adheres, is not only immaterial, but is plainly superior to all material things. Our experience of life shows us, that our conscious self is not the body. Continual decay and restoration is the rule of all animal life. Every part of the brain, the instrument of thought, is changed many times during sixty years of life, and yet we can look through the

sixty years of unbroken continuity of consciousness, and know that we are the same selves who, by means of a body which we have put off more than forty years, did things which now are as much our own acts as the day they were done. But, unless the self, the true man, is something distinct and differing from the body, this could not be.

All the essential peculiarities of humanity are fixed qualities. In the earliest records we see intellect and emotion as the cause of action : the same qualities as now, and the same order of sequence. Man also has the power of ac

cumulation and transmission in each of his own

special lines. He can go on day by day adding to the knowledge he inherited, and transmit it with his own improvements to succeeding generations. So also he is able to express and fix his emotions in the creations of his genius, in such a manner as to make them in the measure in which they are purely and broadly natural- perpetual fountains of feeling to all who shall come after him. In like manner, our action is not only the sum of our intelligence and emotion, but also the sum of the intelligence, emotion, and action of all who have preceded us. This is true, both as

previous action restrains and prompts. All this implies that the essence of our nature differs from that of all other creatures, and that the distinguishing peculiarity is an integral connection between the several generations and members of the human family, constituting them a race. This fact is confirmed by the emotional judgment of all men, who feel that other men have claims on them as men, and that they owe a duty to them, which in some respects differs in kind, and in all cases differs in degree from that which they owe to any other creatures.

It is contrary to human experience and observation, both popular and scientific, to conceive of life without paternity. But we cannot conceive of human life proceeding from an interminable backward series of paternity, because that life exhibits the result of the highest knowledge, both of matter and spirit, and therefore, in its origin, can only have proceeded from one in whom that knowledge and a corresponding skill were in the largest meaWhile this follows from the consideration any individual life, the proof is strengthened and multiplied as the series of succession and dependence lengthens, and it attains its highest force when the entire number of men is re



garded as one whole, proceeding naturally and lineally from the first man. For it must be remembered, that in the successive generations of men there has been no new point of departure, but the nature all through has been as adequate to the individual and collective and relative need as at the first.

It is with respect to the final design that the previous action of the Creator has taken place. So far as Geology speaks with authority, it teaches that all the former conditions of the earth were progressive; and that in this final one, not only has a stable structure been produced, but the graves and skeletons of former generations of creatures have become the storehouses of man, who builds his mansion, procures his food, conducts his commerce, and measures his wealth by the work and the wreck of former ages; all of which-but for its own brief span of life-would have been abortive without the great mundane ruler, who takes, improves, and uses these well-filled treasuries.

From the uniformity of the nature and the designed adaptation of the abode-which design has run through long epochs of prior operation -we infer the unity of the author. Had there been different operators, not only would the

general plan have exhibited gaps and contradictions, but the individual modes of operation would have been diverse. But we see, in the earliest forms of vegetable and animal life, types of the flora and the fauna of the present day, which with distinctive but harmonious variety have been continued in unbroken succession. Material substance also is seen in marvellous harmony. The elements into which we resolve all known matter are few and perfectly mingled; so that we can scarcely think of one removal without disturbance of the harmony and completeness of the world. From chemical affinity, we learn that this harmony is not merely a quiet juxtaposition of masses, but that it belongs to every individual atom, which can leave the side of his natural brother, and by ranging himself with a stranger, build up a new structure of use and beauty. From the report of the spectroscope, we find that this harmony extends to the stars also, which have some, at least, of the material elements of our earth. We also find that those conditions of matter which we denominate light, electricity, heat, are universal, and no material substance is beyond the limit of their operation.

We are thus led to the Author of our world,

« ÎnapoiContinuă »