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new species brought to perfection under our eyes, we should have beheld millions falling short at the incipient and at all the progressive stages of formation, with some embryo stiffed in the bud, or some half-finished monster checked by various adverse elements and forces in its path to vitality. Now in the whole compass of observation, no such phenomena are to be found.
We do not see any of the species with which we are at all familiar brought forward in this way—and wait in vain for such from the immatured buddings of animal and vegetable formation. Each actual variety through the great extent of the ascertained physiological kingdom is perfect in its way—and there is a distinct invariable line of transmission in which, but never out of which, we behold the production of each of them. Could we only demonstrate then a commencement for all or for any of these lines, we should be conducted to the period when there took place a most skilful, a most complete, a most varied collocation—and that, by means which nature, that great goddess of the infidel philosophy, as far as the eye of philosophy ever has explored, does not hold in any of her magazines. We should see, in striking exemplification, the collocations of matter taking place, and by other means than by any laws of matter which we at least are acquainted with—and on comparing the manifold fitness of the collocations with the impotency of the laws, we should have the nearest experimental argument that can be given for the energy of a creative word, for the fiat and the forthgoings of a Deity.
6. The commencement, then, even of any of our animal or vegetable races would seem to decide this question. Let us by any means be made to know of any of the existing generations, that historically it had a first and a definite origin; and this itself would carry in it the demonstration of a God. But the proper argument in behalf of this or of any historical fact is historical evidence and to overlook the strength of such evidence for a creation in the Jewish Scriptures were not merely unchristian but unphilosophical. Yet it is with the air, and apparently under the sanction of philosophy that this evidence has of late been contravened. The plausibilities of geological science or speculation have been brought to bear against it. Instead of looking to the narrative of scripture, we are called upon to look at the demonstration of certain lengthened processes which this science would substitute, and wherewith it would set aside the authority of Moses.
Yet in these very processes do we behold, and in characters the most vivid and discernible, the footsteps of a Deity. In the attempt to escape from Christianity, geologists have been caught or involved, more surely in theism. Under all systems which ascribe to matter an indefinite antiquity, each successive economy in our world is supposed to contain within itself the elements of decay, or to be exposed to certain processes of violence and destruction. This vexed and agitated globe has been conceived of as the theatre of such revolutions, that though the earth itself in matter and substantive being has survived them, the frail organic creatures upon its surface could not have survived them. It matters not how
the alleged catastrophes have been brought about -whether by fire from the centre, or by ocean heaved from its old resting-place, and, in one mighty resistless tide, sweeping, as with the besom of destruction, those continents on which the animals of a former era had for thousands of ages held their unmolested habitation. It is enough if by one catastrophe whole species or genera have been extinguished; and if by an indefinite number of them throughout past eternity all the genera at one time in the world might now have disappeared. The question still is unresolved, what the origin, or whence the existence of our present räces ? Not by spontaneous generation, we are taught by natural science, in one of its most authoritative lessons. Not as we know from another of its lessons, by the transmutation of old species into
Not by any combination that we have ever observed of all the known powers and principles in creation—and thus are we enabled to refer those things in nature which of all others have most exquisite and manifold collocations the most certainly to a definite origin, the most nearly to the finger of a Creator.
7. There is another strong point in the argument; and which has been turned with great effect by theistical writers to the service of the cause. In reasoning on the perfect symmetry and commodiousness of the animal machine, there is a certain infidel evasion that has been made from the argument. It has been affirmed that most of the alleged fitnesses, in the construction of an organic being, are not only indispensable to comfort but
indispensable to life, so that the race could not have survived the want of them; and, that therefore, it is impossible from the nature of the thing that any of the opposite unfitnesses can ever be found in any of our existing specimens. At this rate it will be observed of the actual races, that they are regarded but as the fortunate relics, which, amid an infinity of chances, have realized all the necessary conditions for the upholding of vitality, and for the transmitting of it to successive generations. They are the lucky few, which, by the mathematical doctrine of probabilities, were certainly to be looked for, in a countless multitude of failures or abortions. Any mal-convenance which is incompatible with life cannot from the very nature of the case be presented to observation ; and therefore cannot be appealed to by reasoners on the atheistical side of the argument. Now they complain of this as the loss of an advantagewhereas on the side of their antagonists there are so many random productions, they affirm, which in an infinity of combinations are not more than might have been expected, but a plausible and confident appeal to which will make the worse appear the better argument.
8. Our first reply to this has in some measure been anticipated. Any such embryo formations as we have supposed have never once been wita nessed by us.
Exterior to the established line of transmission, there is not even an incipient movement to be seen, in any department of nature, towards the production of animals or vegetables endowed with the faculty of afterwards transmitting
themselves. We see no example in all the multiform combinations of chemistry and mechanics, however aided by various and variously blended physical influences, of any half-formed mechanism of this sort passing onward to its completion, but arrested in its progress and thrown back again, because of some deficient sense or organ that is essential to vitality. The argument represents nature as teeming with abortions, whereas in the whole compass of nature, no such abortion, and not even the tendency to it has been found.
9. But our second reply we hold to be still more satisfactory. There can be conceived many thousands of mal-adjustments, each of which would be incompatible with comfort and not incompatible with life—yet none of which we ever see realized. The argument of the atheists presupposes of every adaptation in the animal frame, which we plead in proof of design, that it is essential to vitality—but it is not so.
The nails, for example at the extremities of our fingers, and the position of which we ascribe to collocation but they to the blind direction of a physical law-may be conceived to have been otherwise situated, without any such hazard to the life of man as would have led to the extinction of the race. They might have been ranged in separate horny excrescences round the wrist, instead of being ranged as now at the places where they are most serviceable. In like manner the teeth might have been less conveniently posited than they are actually—or the cutting and grinding teeth might have changed places, instead of being fixed and arranged in the very way that makes