« הקודםהמשך »
existing natural philosophy have not given rise to the arrangements of our existing natural history -and that if these arrangements were destroyed, these powers are not able to replace them. They may account for the evolution of things or substances collocated in a certain way; but they did not originate the collocations—and if it can be demonstrated that ever à time was when certain mechanisms were not, that are now in full operation, or certain organic forces and combinations that now sustain the life and enjoyment of millions then it is at the commencement of these that we require the fiat of a God; the interposition of a living and purposing agent who moulded the forms, and brought together the parts of the various goodly constructions which are now before our eyes.
21. This fine generalization of Robison, ranges all philosophy into two sciences—one the science of contemporaneous nature; the other, the science of successive nature. When the material world is viewed according to this distinction, the whole science of its contemporaneous phenomena is comprehended by him under the general name of Natural History, which takes cognizance of all those characters in external nature that exist together at the instant, and which may be described without reference to time—as smell, and colour, and size, and weight, and form, and relation of parts, whether of the simple inorganic or more complex organic structures. It is when the elements of time and motion are introduced, that we are presented with the phenomena of successive nature; and the science that embraces these is, in contradis. tinction to the former, termed Natural Philosophy. This latter science may be separated or subdivided further into natural philosophy, strictly and indeed usually so called, whose province it is to investigate those changes which take effect in bodies by motions that are sensible and measurable; and chemistry, or the science of those changes which take effect in bodies by motions which are not sensible or, at least, not measurable, and which cannot therefore be made the subjects of mathematical computation or reasoning. This last, again, is capable of being still further partitioned into the science which investigates the changes effected by means of insensible motion in all inorganic matter, or chemistry strictly and usually so called; and the science of physiology, whose province it is to investigate the like changes that take place in organic bodies, whether of the animal or vegetable kingdoms.. ;
22. Or, the distinction between these two sciences of contemporaneous and successive nature may otherwise be stated thus. The one, or natural history, is conversant with objects—the other, or natural philosophy in its most comprehensive meaning, is conversant with events. It is obvious that the dispositions of matter come within the province of the former science--while the laws of matter, or the various moving forces by which it is actuated, fall more properly under the inquiries of the latter science. Now, adopting this nomenclature, we repeat it as a most important assertion for the cause of natural theology, that should all the present arrangements of our existing natural
history be destroyed, there is no power in the laws of our existing natural philosophy to replace them. Or, in other words, if ever a time was, when the structure and dispositions of matter, under the present economy of things were not—there is no force known in nature, and no combination of forces that can account for their commencement. The laws of nature may keep up the working of the machinery—but they did not and could not set up the machine. The human species, for example, may be upholden, through an indefinite series of ages, by the established law of transmission-but were the species destroyed, there are no observed powers of nature by which it could again be originated. For the continuance of the system and of all its operations, we might imagine a sufficiency in the laws of nature; but it is the first construction of the system which so palpably calls for the intervention of an artificer, or demonstrates so powerfully the fiat and finger of a God.
23. This distinction between nature's laws and nature's collocations is mainly lost sight of in those speculations of geology, the object of which is to explain the formation of new systems emerging from the wreck of old ones. They proceed on the sufficiency of nature's laws for building up the present economy of things out of the ruins of a former economy, which the last great physical catastrophe on the face of our carth had over-, thrown. Now, in these ruins, viewed as materials for the architecture of a renovated world, there did reside all those forces, by which the processes of the existing economy are upholden ; but the geolo
gists assign to them a function wholly distinct from this, when they labour to demonstrate that by laws, and laws alone, the framework of our existing economy was put together. It is thus that they would exclude the agency of a God from the transition between one system, or one formation, and another; although it be precisely at such transition when this agency seems most palpably and peculiarly called for. We feel assured that the necessity for a divine intervention, and, of course, the evidence of it would have been more manifest, had the distinction between the laws of matter and its collocations been more formally announced, or more fully proceeded on by the writers on natural theism. And yet it is a distinction that must have been present to the mind of our great Newton, who expressly affirms that a mechanism of wonderful structure could not arise by the mere laws of nature. - In his third printed letter to Bentley, he says, that “the growth of new systems out of old ones, without the mediation of a divine power, seems to me apparently absurd;” and that “the system of nature was set in order in the beginning, with respect to size, figure, proportions, and properties, by the counsels of God's own intelligence."*
* Towards the end of the third book of Newton's Optics, we have the following very distinct testimony upon this subject : " For it became Him who created them to set them in order. And if he did so, it is unphilosophical to seek for any other origin of the world; or to pretend that it might arise out of a chaos by the mere laws of nature; though beiny once formed, it may continue by those laws for many ages."
This disposition to resolve the collocations into the laws of pature proves, in the expressive language of Granville Penn,
24. One precious fruit of the recent geological discoveries may be gathered from the testimony which they afford to the destruction of so many terrestrial economies now gone by, and the substitution of the existing one in their place. If there be truth at all in the speculations of this science, there is nothing which appears to have been more conclusively established by them, than a definite origin or commencement for the present animal and vegetable races. Now we know what it is which upholds the whole of the physiological system that is now before our eyes,-even the successive derivation of each individual member from a parent of its own likeness; but we see no force in nature, and no complication of forces which can tell us what it was that originated the system. It is at this passage in the history of nature, where we meet with such pregnant evidence for the interposition of a designing cause,--an evidence, it will be seen, of prodigious density and force, when we compute the immense number and variety of those aptitudes, whether of form or magnitude or relative position, which enter into . the completion of an organic structure. It is in the numerical superiority of the distinct collocam tions to the distinct laws of matter, that the superior evidence of the former lies. We do not deny that there is argument for a God in the number of beneficial, while, at the same time, distinct and independent laws wherewith matter is endowed. how strenuously, not a physical science," but only some of its disciples have “ laboured to exclude the Creator from the details of his own creation ; straining every nerve of ingenuity to ascribe them all to secondary causes."