Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

stances.

region of the earth and sea, as well as in another. One atmosphere invests all parts of the globe, and connects all ; one sun illuminates; one moon exerts its specific attraction

upon all parts. If there be a variety in natural effects, as, e.g. in the tides of different seas, that very variety is the result of the same cause, acting under different circum

In many cases this is proved ; in all, is probable.

The inspection and comparison of living forms, add to this argument examples without number. Of all large terrestrial animals, the structure is

very

much alike; their senses nearly the same; their natural functions and passions nearly the same; their viscera nearly the same, both in substance, shape, and office : digestion, nutrition, circulation, secretion, go on, in a similar manner, in all: the great circulating fluid is the same; for, I think, no difference has been discovered in the properties of blood, from whatever animal it be drawn. The experiment of transfusion proves,

that the blood of one animal will serve for another. The skeletons also of the larger terrestrial animals, show particular varieties, but still under a great general affinity. The resemblance is somewhat less, yet sufficient

ly evident, between quadrupeds and birds. They are all alike in five respects, for one in which they differ.

In fish, which belong to another department, as it were, of nature,

of nature, the points of comparison become fewer. But we never lose sight of our analogy, e. g. we still meet with a stomach, a liver, a spine; with bile and blood ; with teeth ; with eyes (which eyes are only slightly varied from our own, and which variation, in truth, demonstrates, not an interruption, but a continuance of the same exquisite plan; for it is the adaptation of the organ to the element, viz. to the different refraction of light passing into the eye out of a denser medium). The provinces, also, themselves of water and earth, are connected by the species of animals which inhabit both; and also by a large tribe of aquatic animals, which closely resemble the terrestrial in their internal structure; I mean the cetaceous tribe, which have hot blood, respiring lungs, bowels, and other essential parts, like those of landanimals. This similitude, surely, bespeaks the same creation and the same Creator.

Insects and shell-fish appear to me to differ from other classes of animals the most widely of any. Yet even here, beside many

points of particular resemblance, there exists a general relation of a peculiar kind. It is the relation of inversion; the law of contrariety: namely, that, whereas, in other animals, the bones, to which the muscles are attached, lie within the body; in insects and shell-fish, they lie on the outside of it. The shell of a lobster performs to the animal the office of a bone, by furnishing to the tendons that fixed basis or immoveable fulcrum, without which, mechanically, they could not act. The crust of an insect is its shell, and answers the like purpose. The shell also of an oister stands in the place of a bone ; the bases of the muscles being fixed to it, in the same manner, as, in other animals, they are fixed to the bones. All which (under wonderful varieties, indeed, and adaptations of form) confesses an imitation, a remembrance, a carrying on, of the same plan.

The observations here made, are equally applicable to plants; but, I think, unnecessary to be pursued. It is a very striking circumstance, and alone sufficient to prove all which we contend for, that, in this part likewise of organized nature, we perceive a continuation of the sexual system.

Certain however it is, that the whole argu

ment for the divine unity, goes no further than to a unity of counsel. It

may likewise be acknowledged, that no arguments which we are in possession of, exclude the ministry of subordinate agents. If such there be, they act under a presiding, a controlling will ; because they act according to certain general restrictions, by certain common rules, and, as it should seem, upon a general plan: but still, such agents, and different ranks, and classes, and degrees of them, may be employed.

CHAPTER XXVI.

TIIE GOODNESS OF THE DEITY.

The proof of the divine goodness rests upon two propositions ; each, as we contend, capable of being made out by observations drawn from the appearances of nature.

The first is, “ that, in a vast plurality of instances in which contrivance is perceived, the design of the contrivance is beneficial.

The second, " that the Deity has superadded pleasure to animal sensations, beyond what was necessary for

purpose, or when the purpose, so far as it was necessary,

any other

might have been effected by the operation of pain.”

First,“ in a vast plurality of instances in which contrivance is perceived, the design of the contrivance is beneficial.

No production of nature display contrivance so manifestly as the parts of animals; and the parts of animals have all of them, I believe, a real, and, with

very

few exceptions, all of them a known and intelligible subserviency to the use of the animal. Now, when the multitude of animals is considered, the number of parts in each, their figure and fitness, the faculties depending upon them, the variety of species, the complexity of structure, the success, in so many cases, and felicity of the result, we can never reflect, without the profoundest adoration, upon the character of that Being from whom all these things have proceeded: we cannot help acknowledging, what an exertion of benevolence creation was; of a benevolence how minute in its care, how vast in its comprehension !

When we appeal to the parts and faculties of animals, and to the limbs and senses of animals in particular, we state, I conceive, the proper medium of proof for the conclusion which we wish to establish. I will not

« VorigeDoorgaan »