Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

even Christians as well as Israelites : "homo sum, nihil humani a me alienum puto."

"A thing of wonder," exclaims Herder," to which the men of reason still venture to give no name, is the story of the fall of the first man. Is it allegory, history, fable? And yet there it stands, after the account of the creation, a second pillar of Hercules, beyond which is nothing further! All subsequent history of the human race begins there. And then what a piece-work follows, made up of the mur derous hate and mark of Cain, the little song of Lamech, a row of names of the hundred-years-old, cedar-like men, giants, the flood, and an ark! Ah, the philosophical wits must have so much trouble about the swaddling bands of our race and must be ashamed of them; must wish the waters of the flood had swept them away, or at least left them to appear only in the juggler's commentary. And yet ye are, dear, oldest, and eternal traditions of my race, kernel and germ of its most hidden history! Without you, mankind would be what so much else is, a book without title, without first leaves and explanation; with you, our family acquires foundation, stem, and root, back to God and father Abraham. And they are all taken in so simple, child-like a tone, from the mouth of the first tradition among the trees of the eastern land, and are set forth by Moses, so true and one by one, as if he found them there, the echo of eternal times." And Herder writes to Hamann: "Believe me, my dear friend, the time will come when the revelation and religion of God, instead of criticism and politics, as now, will be the simple history and wisdom of our race."

ARTICLE III.

RELIGION AND CHEMISTRY!!

BY REV. ANDREW P. PEABODY, D.D., HARVARD UNIVERSITY.

No one who is acquainted with Professor Cooke's habits of thoroughness, accuracy, and fidelity as a teacher and lecturer will doubt that on the scientific side this volume is the best that it could be within its compass and for its purpose. As a compendious and lucid statement of the chemistry of the atmosphere, combining a precision worthy of the lecturer and a simplicity of illustration adapted to a popular audience, it merits our highest encomium. We cannot but admire the subtile skill and the comprehensive grasp with which he not only gathered up, but assimilated, a wide diversity of facts and laws from every realm of nature, intimately, but not obviously, related to the structure and functions of the atmosphere and its constituents, and has so colligated them that they must henceforth retain in the reader's mind the grouping into which they are here brought. This mode of treatment at once serves as a system of mnemonics for the learner, and, what is of immeasurably higher importance, leads his thought easily and naturally to that unity of plan and purpose in nature which revelation teaches, which true science postulates, and toward which the prog ress of scientific discovery constantly tends.

But it is as a treatise in the department of natural theology, that this volume claims to be judged. This is its prime purpose, and its value must rest on the author's success in this aim. It cannot, indeed, be claimed for him that

*

1 Religion and Chemistry; or, Proofs of God's Plan in the Atmosphere and its Elements. Ten Lectures delivered at the Brooklyn Institute, Brooklyn, N. Y., on the Graham Foundation. By Josiah P. Cooke, Jr., Irving Professor of Chemistry and Mineralogy in Harvard University. 8vo. pp. 348. New York Charles Scribner. 1864.

he has approached the subject from the attitude of indif ferentism. His lectures breathe throughout a believing and devout spirit. He has firm faith, not only in the primal truths of natural religion, but in the equally fundamental truths (and equally natural, as we believe) of the gospel, — in revelation, miracle, inspiration, redemption. The heads of his argument are well condensed in the following statement, near the close of his last lecture:

"In the first place, then, I believe that the existence of an intelligent author of nature, infinite in wisdom and absolute in power, may be proved from the phenomena of the material world with as much certainty as can any general truth of science. In the second place, I am of opinion that the facts of nature also prove - although the arguments adduced may be less convincing-that the author of nature is a personal being, and the one only and true God revealed to us in the Bible. Lastly, I think that the relations of the human mind to the material world, viewed in the light of modern science, give us strong reason to believe, on scientific grounds alone, that the universe is still sustained, in all its parts, by the same omnipotent and omniscient Will which first called it into being....

66

Moreover, I am persuaded that science confirms and illustrates the priceless truth which Christ came on earth to reveal; but I do not believe that the unaided intellect of man could ever have attained to certainty in regard to even the least of these truths, independently of revelation."pp. 345, 346.

.....

It has become almost a fashion to sneer at "the argument from design." We confess that we do not feel disposed to set it aside; on the other hand, we doubt whether Paley and his followers have made as much of it as they might. It rests, indeed, on the subjective consciousness; for that "design implies a designer," is an intuition of the human intellect; but because it is an intuition, we can no more question it than we can question the fact of our own existence.

It is, indeed, objected to the argument from design that it presupposes a knowledge of final causes, and that this knowledge can be confidently affirmed of no finite mind. We admit that we can, at most, only hazard plausible conjectures as to final causes in the creation. With the growth of intelligence and science, there has been a progressive

VOL. XXII. No. 87.

56

unifying and enlargement of man's conceptions as to the ends subserved by the universe, visible and invisible. In earlier periods, when incidental exceptions and evils occupied as large a space on the retina of philosophic vision as was occupied by beneficent provisions and uses, and when the comprehensive laws of nature had hardly begun to be registered, it was impossible to discern in the creation any higher purpose than its own continued existence and the perpetuation of its races of organized being. With the identification of general laws, the promotion of happiness came to be regarded as the ultimate end of nature. With the growth of Christian sentiments and culture, even happiness seems but an inferior good, and many devout minds refuse to recognize in all things that are, and that take place, any predominant or ultimate purpose other than holiness, its manifestation in God, or its creation in man. But when we consider the immensity of the universe and the comparative littleness of our world and system, how can we rest even here? May not even holiness, human holiness at least, be not an end, but a means? May not man himself, though "crowned with glory and honor" as the head of the terrestrial creation, bear a relation to higher orders in other realms of being, somewhat analogous to that borne to him by the tribes of animated nature made subject to his sway? May not even his eternal salvation and blessedness - ends so far as he is concerned-be means to immeasurably more vast and glorious ends than he is now capable of conceiving? Or, on the other hand, how know we that there may not be a multiplicity of final causes? May we not have already carried our unifying, process too far? It is at least conceivable that the final causes of many portions of the crea tion may be very near, for instance, that the desert may be made to blossom, with no reference to the contingent aesthetic or spiritual revenue which may accrue to intelligent beings, but merely to enshrine that undoubted attri bute of the divine character, which is the infinite correla tive to the love of beauty in man; or that many of the

[ocr errors]

lower orders of animals may have been created, not to minister to man's skill in subduing, or his comfort in using them, but with no purpose ulterior to their own enjoyment. In fine, we do not hold a position in which we can pronounce dogmatically as to final causes; and the highest wisdom resolves itself into the simplest utterance of Christian faith: "Of him, and through him, and to him are all things."

ness.

But the knowledge of final causes is not needed in order to prove design. The spinning-jenny would impress us none the less strongly with a sense of its inventor's genius and skill as applied to the production of cotton yarns, if we had no experience or knowledge of the manufacture of those yarns into cloth. Design is legitimately inferred from adaptation to a proximate end. From adaptation, we say, using the word in its active sense, as distinct from adaptedBetween these two words lies the entire controversy between Lucretianism, ancient and modern, and Christian theism. The fitness of certain portions of nature to subserve certain proximate ends is admitted by all. The question is: Are these ends results or purposes? To take our illustration from processes of human industry, the teazle is employed to raize the nap on broadcloth. Here is a case in which the adaptedness is perfect; yet we cannot infer adaptation in the purpose of the Creator. The use may have resulted from the existence of the teazle, and yet not have been the object of express design on the part of the Author of nature. The use is, perhaps, not even an actual use, but a mere caprice, and the plant may subserve substantially useful purposes to us unknown. But no such questionings arise, when we contemplate the complex ma chinery of cards, spindles, looms, and vats, by which the fleece is converted into cloth. Here is conscious and designed adaptation; and it can be accounted for on no other hypothesis than the choice and collocation of a great diversity of means for the production of a definite end. In this case we should infer intelligent design, in the absence of all

« FöregåendeFortsätt »