תמונות בעמוד

affirmed of all the species which are known to propagate themselves, that there has not yet been discovered the slightest tendency to the formation of the individuals of these species in any other way than by ordinary generation. However indeterminate the questions may yet be which respect certain obscure or animalcular cases, this surely does not affect the generality or invariableness of the doctrine in regard to all the well-known members whether of the vegetable or animal familyto the palpable trees or plants of the former, to the palpable quadrupeds or birds of the latter, as exemplified in the lion the horse the dog or the elephant. Whatever discovery might have yet been made, or whatever lack of discovery might yet remain in the microscopic or otherwise dark and perhaps inaccessible departments of nature this does not affect the obvious and unexcepted truth as it relates to the overwhelming majority of our living generations; viz., that among all the other complicated processes, whether of fermentation or of putrefaction or of electric and chemical agency, which are now going on in the vast laboratory of nature, there is not one of them which approximates in the least towards the formation of such organic beings—each of which in fact is the link of a chain composed of links that are altogether similar to itself-each formed, and formed in no other way, than by a derivative process along the steps of a successive generation. It will at once be seen therefore how many are those exquisite and complex structures which are formed by the collocation of parts; and such a collocation as a well known physical law doth transmit, but which no physical law can originate that we are acquainted with_insomuch that we perceive not the slightest tendency to aught like the spontaneous formation of them. This holds true of all those individuals in our existing animal and vegetable races that come forth in the established line of their transmission, so perfectly organized—yet without that line we never observe even the smallest abortive or partial approximation to them. The mechanical and the chemical, however variously they are blended, never once approach in any of their results to the physiological, at least in such specimens as these. So that if we can but demonstrate a beginning for any such separate and independent races in the physiological kingdom, we shall obtain in our opinion the nearest possible view that is anywhere afforded within the limits of our creation of the fiat of a God.

19. The next doctrine which we have now to make use of is no less the universal faith of naturalists than the former. It is that the species do not run the one into the other. They are separated; and that, by barriers which are permanent and invincible. Should there even be a mingling of two contiguous species—the power either of transmitting this one anomaly, or of extending it any further, ceases as in the mule, with the immediate offspring. There is thus an instantaneous check in the way of that transformation by which the species may have been confounded and merged into one another-or at length been metamorphosed into other races which

bore no resemblance whatever to their progenitors. Within the limits of a species there might be manifold varieties--but these limits can never be transgressed to the formation of another distinct and enduring species in the animal kingdom. Let us combine these two doctrines. There is in reference to almost, if not universally, to all actual races no spontaneous generation—therefore in the existing generation of each species we behold the present link of a chain, all whose preceding links have been similar to the one that is before our eyes. There is no transition of the species into each other—therefore they present us with so many separate chains, and which have maintained the separation during the whole currency of their existence. They diverge not into other species, nor is one species appended to another. They have either had distinct origins, or they have been distinct from all eternity. If the latter, it is not likely that they would have survived an indefinite number of catastrophes each of which might have swept off whole genera from the face of our earth, and all of which would (but for new collocations which no observed law can account for) have by this time left it in a state of desolation. But it is more distinct and decisive than any likelihood that in the older formations no vestiges of our present genera are to be found; and that under our present economy, or even in the more recent formations, there are no vestiges of the older genera. A few of the earlier species, it would appear, may have survived one or two of those dreadful shocks to which our planet is exposed_but in the whole

amount, it seems palpable, that on the one hand there has been an entire destruction of the ancient species, and on the other an entire renovation of species wholly distinct and dissimilar from the former. The older chains of succession have been suddenly terminated, as if broken off at their lower extremities. And the more recent chains, instead of being to be traced through the midway passage of a great geological tempest, for the older formations, those earlier records of our globe hold out no indication of them—the recent chains have after a catastrophe had their first and definite origin. Now the question is, Who or what is the originator ? All the busy processes of nature which are going on around us, fail towards even so much as the formation of an organic being, endowed with the faculty of self-transmission. All the possible combinations which human ingenuity can devise, are baffled in the enterprise. And, save by that peculiar tie which connects the one link of this concatenation with the other, there is not in all the known resources of nature and art, another method by which such a creature can be formed. How then are the first links to be accounted for? Is there aught in the rude and boisterous play of a great physical catastrophe that can germinate those exquisite structures, which during our yet undisturbed economy have been transmitted in pacific succession to the present day? What is there in the rush and turbulence and mighty clamour of such great elements of ocean heaved from its old resting place, and lifting its billows above the Alps and the Andes of a former continent—what is there in this to charm into being the embryos of an infant family wherewith to stock and to repeople a now desolated world? We see in the sweeping energy and uproar of this elemental war, enough to account for the disappearance of all the old generations—but nothing that might cradle any new generations into existence, so as to have effloresced on ocean's deserted bed the life and the loveliness which are now before our eyes. At no juncture, we apprehend, in the history of the world—is the interposition of Deity more manifest than at this—nor can we better account for so goodly a creation emerging again into new forms of animation and beauty from the wreck of the old one, than that the spirit of God moved on the face of the chaos and that nature, turned by the last catastrophe into a wilderness, was again repeopled at the utterance of His word.

20. Those rocks which stand forth in the order of their formation, and are each imprinted with their own peculiar fossil remains, have been termed the archives of nature where she hath recorded the changes that have taken place in the history of the globe. They are made to serve the purpose of scrolls or inscriptions on which we might read of those great steps and successions by which the earth has been brought to its present state. And should these archives of nature be but truly deciphered, we are not afraid of their being openly confronted with the archives of revelation. It is unmanly to blink the approach of light from whatever quarter of observation it may fall upon us and these are not the best friends of Christianity

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