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In his sixty-fourth year he published a volume sentment of youth, and many were the sighs it of erotic poems—why was it not another comedy? evoked, and underneath he had written the VirIn the same year Pope published his “Pastorals,” gilian motto, “ Quantum mutatus ab illo !” The and the simultaneous appearance of the two books old spirit of the Carolian time was still strong in some way brought about an acquaintance be- within him. He used often to declare that he tween the two authors. The letters that passed was resolved to die married, although his first between them will be found in Pope's correspon- experience of that blessed state rendered him dence, but they are not very amusing. By and very averse to living in it again. Only eleven by the elder poet wrote some more verses--and days before his death, in the year 1715, in the very bad ones they were—and made the extraor- hope of disinheriting an obnoxious nephew, he dinary proposition that his young friend should espoused a young woman who was supposed to correct them. Pope, like a second Gil Blas, ac- have a fortune of fifteen hundred pounds a year, cepted the task in all sincerity, and his candid but who turned out afterward to be an impostor criticisms were received in much the same spirit and to be married to another man. Ignorant of as were those of the Spanish valet of immortal this fact, however, upon his death-bed he called memory; Wycherley was disgusted at the nu- her to him, and, having made her promise to merous faults found with his compositions, and grant him the request he was about to make, the friendship came to an end.
said with a sly twinkle in his eye: “My dear, it He appears to have retained much of his is only this—that you will never marry an old handsome and distinguished appearance to the man again." Like Mercutio, a humorist to the last. There is a picture of him at the age of last! He was buried in a vault in St. Paul's, twenty-eight, by Sir Peter Lely, which represents Covent Garden. He is said to have changed his a face of fine animal beauty, well set off by the religion once more, a little previously, back to flowing periwig of the period; many were the the Romish faith, regretful glances he would cast upon this pre
MIRACLES, PRAYER, AND LAW.
N the following remarks I assume the existence have studied the Book of Nature, and perhaps
of God, all-knowing and all-powerful ; and most decidedly in those who have only turned of a spirit in men which is not matter. I do not some of its pages, is that the two revelations are say that either is demonstrated or can be demon- irreconcilable. The immutability of nature's laws strated, still less do I presume to define either, is to them a gospel taught by every stone, by but I address only those who already assent to every plant, by every animated being. All that both,
they have learned to know of matter rests on the Many, however, of those who give such as- assurance that its properties are absolutely fixed. sent are troubled about the ways of God and the The progress of science, of art, of civilization, of nature of man's relation to him. On the one the human race, depends on the fact that what hand is the Bible, which declares that all things has been found to be true will be always true, on earth as well as in heaven are regulated by that there is an ordered sequence of events which divine will at every moment, which records fre- may be trusted to be invariable, to which we quent miracles, and which bids men ask from must conform our lives if we would be happy, him whatsoever they would, in absolute confi- and which, if we cross it in ignorance or defiance, dence that they shall have their desires. On the will revenge the outrage by inevitable penalties. other hand stands the Book of Nature, as divine Those laws, which some call of matter, may by as that of Revelation, being in fact another rev- others be called laws of God, and the most deelation of God, which tells of an unchanging vout minds find in their fixity only a confirmation sequence of events, of laws incapable of modifi- of their faith in his unchanging promises. But, cation by isolated acts of will—laws which, in- if thus fixed, it seems to many who are devout as deed, if subject to such modification, would fall well as to many who are skeptical, that it beinto disorder. Which of these revelations shall comes impossible to believe that their Author they believe? Or can they be reconciled so that should ever set them aside by what are called both are credible ?
miracles; still less that he should bid men pray The tendency of recent belief in those who for events which are, in fact, not regulated by wish or will, but by what has gone before up to phorus, the forms of sulphur as modified by heat, the beginning of time. To meet this dilemma and a considerable number of organic compounds, there seem to such minds only two courses, either and we can by certain arrangements turn the one to believe that Scripture is not the word of a God into the other. But when we ask what allotroat all, or to give to its language an interpretation pism is, we find that it is itself one of the properwhich is not the natural sense of the words, and ties (however obscure to us) of the matter we which was certainly not meant or understood by deal with. Oxygen would not be oxygen, but those who first wrote or first heard it.
something else, if it had not the inherent propYet it is not possible to abandon the convic- erty of becoming ozone under certain conditions. tion that the words and the acts of God can not Given these conditions, and there is nothing we really be at variance. Before surrendering his can do which will prevent the change occurring. words contained in the Scripture, as either spuri- If, as chemists believe, allotropism depends on ous or misunderstood, no effort can be too often the different arrangement of the ultimate atoms reiterated to show them to be compatible with of matter, then the capacity of assuming two arwhat we have learned of his works. I propose rangements in its atoms is clearly one of the ultito make one more such effort, based on the mate properties of that species of matter. closest examination of what both really tell, or It follows, then, that if a miracle were really imply.
a suspension of a physical law, or a change, temLet us first understand accurately what it is porary or permanent, of any property of matter, we are to deal with, both as facts and as ex- it would really be an act of creation—the crepressed in language. The inquiry is to be limited ation of something having different properties (with exceptions which will be noted as they oc- from any matter that before existed. If iron cur) to the laws of matter. It will be assumed were to float on water by suspension of the law that matter exists as our ordinary perceptions in- of gravity, it would be in fact the creation of form us, but if it shall hereafter be proved to be something having (at least for the time required) only a form of motion, or of force, the arguments the physical and chemical properties of iron, but will still be applicable. By laws, we shall under- with a specific gravity less than water - and stand what in a different expression we call the therefore something not iron. properties of matter. The advantage of thus ex- But, without creation, man has enormous plaining law is that it excludes some other senses power over nature. He can, and daily does, of a vague and misleading character, while it in- overpower her laws, or seemingly make them cludes the sense in which alone law can properly work as he pleases. Despite the law of gravity, be applied to physical nature. Thus, the law of he ascends to the sky in a balloon ; he makes gravity is the same thing as the property of mat- water spring up in fountains; he makes vessels, ter which we call weight, and, if there be any weighing thousands of tons, float on the seas. matter or ether which is imponderable, then the Despite cohesion, he grinds rocks to powder ; law of gravity does not apply to it. So the law despite chemical affinity, he transmutes into of attraction, in its different forms, expresses the myriads of different forms the few elements of property of cohesion, and of capillary ascent, and which all matter consists ; despite the resistless so on; the law of chemical affinities expresses power of the thunderbolt, he tames electricity to the property of the combination of one species of be his servant or his harmless toy. With water matter with another in definite proportions; the and fire he molds into shape mighty masses of laws of sound, light, or electricity, express the metal; he shoots, at a sustained speed beyond properties of vibrations, either of air or of sub- that of birds, across valleys and through mountiler forms of matter, as they affect our senses. tain-ranges; he unites seas which continents had In thus limiting the meaning of law, it is there- separated; there is nothing in the whole earth fore obvious that we embrace all which the ma- which he has not subdued, or does not hope to terialist can desire to include when he insists that subdue, to his use. There is hardly a physical law is permanent and unchangeable.
miracle which he does not feel he can, or may This, in fact, is the first proposition which we yet, perform. must all accept. No human being can add to or But all this wonderful, this boundless power subtract a single property of any species of mat- over material laws is gained by these laws. He ter. To do so were, indeed, to create. For alters no property of matter, but he uses one matter is an aggregate of properties; each spe- property or another as he needs, and he uses one cies of matter is differentiated only by its proper- property to overpower another. It is by knowties, and could we alter one of these we should ing that gravity is more powerful in the case of really turn it into different matter. It is true air than in the case of hydrogen gas, that he there are what are called allotropic forms, such makes air sustain him as he floats, beneath a bag as oxygen and ozone, the yellow and red phos- of hydrogen, above the earth; it is by knowing that it is more powerful in water than in air that guides them. Meantime he has learned that he sails in iron ships; it is by knowing chemical clay, when heated, becomes hard as stone, and affinity or repulsion that he makes the compounds the arts of pottery take their rise ; while glassor extracts the simple elements he desires; it is making follows on the discovery that ashes and by knowing that affinity is force, and that force sand fuse into a transparent mass. Yet, whether is transmutable into electricity, that he makes a in their rude beginning or finished elegance, man messenger of the obedient lightning-shock; it is in these arts does no more than bring together by knowing that heat, itself unknown, causes the rough materials and apply to them heat, then gases to expand, that he makes machines of their own inherent properties effect the result. senseless iron do the work of intelligent giants. Science—that is, knowledge of natural laws of He subdues nature by understanding nature. matter-guides his hand, but his hand only moves He creates no property; he therefore performs matter; it gives no property and takes away none; no miracle, though he does marvels.
it does not even enable one property to work; it By what means, then, does man bring one does absolutely nothing except to place matter property, or law, into play instead of, or against, where its own laws work, to bring or to remove another ? By one means only, that of changing matter which is needed, or to remove matter the position of matter.
which is superfluous. Let us analyze every comThis is Bacon's aphorism (“Novum Orga- plicated triumph of human knowledge and skill, num,” book i., 4): " Man contributes nothing to and we shall find it all reduced to the knowledge operations except the applying or withdrawing of what the properties of matter are, and the of natural bodies : Nature, internally, performs skill which imparts to it motion just sufficient to the rest."
permit these properties to operate. Man's powIn order to trace and recognize the truth of er over nature is therefore limited to the power this fact, let us follow in rough and rapid outline of giving motion to matter, or of stopping or rethe operations by which man effects his purposes. sisting motion in matter. We will begin at the beginning, and suppose him Now, to give motion or to resist motion is itto have only reached the stage when a knowl- self either a breach or a use of a law of nature, edge of the effects of fire enables him to work according as we express that law. The law is with metals. He produces fire by friction—that (as usually expressed), that matter at rest reis, by bringing one piece of wood to another, mains at rest till moved by a force, and that matand rapidly moving the one on the other; or else ter in motion continues in motion till stayed by a by striking two flints on each other, which also force. This is the law of inertia. If we conis merely rapid motion and shock. He carries sider that rest or motion when once established the wood to a hearth, he brings to it the lump of is the normal state of matter, then the force crude metal or the ore; he urges the fire by a which causes a change causes a breach of the blast of air-still his acts are only those of im- law of inertia. But if we consider that the liaparting motion. Then the fire acts on the met- bility to be moved, or to have motion stopped by al, it excites some affinities and enfeebles other force, is itself a property of matter, then the apaffinities, which result in removing impurities; plication of force with such result is merely it softens the purified metal. Then the work- calling into operation the law of inertia. It man lifts it on a stone, and by beating it with really does not signify which view we take, so another stone-still motion-he moves its par- long as we recognize that such are the facts. ticles so that it assumes the form of a hammer, But since it is more familiar to associate rest with an axe, a chisel, or a file. Then by rubbing with inertia, it will perhaps be most convenient and. a rough stone-still motion-he moves away simple to consider rest and motion as the laws some particles from the edge, and makes it sharp of matter, till the law is interfered with. Thereand fit for cutting. By plunging it in water when fore in what follows we shall say that, when mathot-still only motion—he tempers it to hardness. ter at rest is moved, or when matter in motion is With the edge thus obtained, he cuts wood into stayed, or its movement by a natural force is prethe forms he requires for various purposes, and vented, a breach of the law of inertia is comby degrees he learns how to fashion other pieces mitted. of metal into other and more elaborate tools. We come, then, to these propositions : 1. That Yet all this is done by no other means than giv- human power is utterly unable to break any law ing motion to the material on which, or by which, of matter except the law of inertia. 2. That he works. From tools he advances to machines, when, by breaking only the law of inertia—i. e., by which his power of giving motion is increased, by moving or by resisting the motion of matter and as he learns more of the properties of mat- -any operation is accomplished, no other law of ter he constructs engines, by which these proper- matter is broken. 3. That to break the law of ties work for him in the directions in which he inertia by force, directed by will, is no inter
ference with the properties of matter. 4. That restoration of life to the dead. The third affect by breaking the law of inertia only, man has matter solely: they include the healing of wounds, power to call into play properties which make or of corporeal disease, such as blindness, or fematter subservient to his objects.
ver; the dividing of waters; the walking on waNor is this man's power only. Inferior ani- ter, or raising an iron axe-head from the bottom mals can also move matter, and by moving it of water; the falling of walls or trees; the opencan cause prodigious results. A minute insect, ing of prison-doors, and such like. by secreting lime from sea-waters, makes a coral The first two classes we may, in any discusreef, or aids in forming a cliff of chalk. A bea- sion limited to the laws of nature, leave out of ver cuts down a tree, and forms a swamp that view, because it can not be said that we know changes the climate of a district; a bird carries any laws of nature affecting mind by itself, or a seed, and makes a forest on an island. Inani- even mind in relation to matter. Metaphysicians mate life has the same power. The plant opens have interested themselves in trying to trace the its leaves to the sun, and abstracts the carbon origin or sequence of intellectual processes, but that forms fruitful soils and beds of coal. Mat- I hardly think any would assert they had dister itself can by motion work on matter. The covered or defined what can properly be called a great physical powers, heat and electricity, are law; and certainly, if any do assert it, the accumodes of motion. Radiation of heat causes racy of the assertion is controverted by as many freezing, and freezing crumbles rocks into soil, philosophers on the other side. Any direct inor it forms the clouds in the air, whose deluges fluence of God on mind can not, therefore, be hollow valleys; while electricity cleaves and splin- charged with being in violation of natural law. ters the summits of the mountain-peaks. Every- Nor can it even be declared to be contrary to where motion, sharp or slow, works with matter; universal experience, since in this case the negaeverywhere the law of inertia is broken; and tive evidence of those who have not experienced everywhere the miracles of nature are wrought it would only be set against the positive evidence out by nature's unbroken laws, set in action or of innumerable persons who affirm that they have withheld by only the movement which matter has experienced it. received, be it from will in man or beast, or be it The influence of mind on matter, and matter from forces which themselves are part of mat- on mind, are also so obscure, that it can not be ter's properties.
affirmed that anything which mental operation Now, since we have started from the assump- can effect on one's own body is contrary to nattion that God does exist, it is impossible to make ural law. No physiologist will assert that menhim an exception to the rule which holds of the tal resolution or conviction, tending toward respirits of inferior creatures, and even of inani- covery from sickness, is without some power to mate matter. If, therefore, he can cause or stop bring that result to pass. They will admit also movement, he can, without further breach of any that this is peculiarly the case in regard to those law of nature, bring into play the laws of nature. disorders which, in pure ignorance of their actual Or, to state the same proposition conversely, we source, they are fain to call hysterical, neuralgic, must admit that whatever wonders God may or generally nervous. They are all acquainted cause by bringing into operation a law of na- with many cases in their own experience of reture through the means of affecting motion in covery from such disorders in which no physical matter, can not be called a breach of the laws of cause for recovery can be imagined. If, then, nature. It is, of course, understood that this God should convey to the mind of a patient an proposition is limited to the results of motion; impression which brings about recovery, there it does not affirm that the cause of the motion would clearly be no violation of natural law. may not be a breach of a law of nature. This with regard to the restoration of life, it is quite question will remain for future examination; at true that this is beyond the ordinary power of present it is neither affirmed nor denied. man's volition. Nevertheless, at each moment
Let us in the mean time, however, consider of our lives there is a communication of life to what we have reached by the proposition above the dead matter which has formed our food, but stated. What are called miracles may be di- which, after digestion, becomes a part of our vided into three classes. The first are purely living organs; and this is true even in the nutrispiritual, affecting mind without the intervention tion of plants. How or at what moment the of matter, such as visions (though these may ori- mind enters or becomes capable of affecting our ginate in the brain, and therefore belong to the frames, we do not know. But this happens at next class), gifts of tongues, inspirations, mental some moment before or during birth; its doing resolutions. The second affect mind in connec- so at a subsequent period is, therefore, not a tion with matter, such as, perhaps, the healing of breach of natural law, but is only an instance of paralytic or epileptic affections, and certainly the natural law coming into operation, by the same cause, at a period differing from that which is absolutely accurate, we must add minute quanticustomary. The act, whatever it is, is not ex- ties of eight other elements), which no chemist has ceptional, but ordinary. The time is alone ex- yet succeeded in uniting in such forms. But chemceptional.
ists have succeeded in forming certain substances We have now to consider the strictly physi- by bringing together their elements, of which cal phenomena to which the name of miracles is water is the simplest type, and others of greater in this discussion confined, and to which the ob- complexity are every year being attained. These jection that they are contrary to natural laws is are formed by moving into proximity, or admixcommonly stated.
ture, the elementary ingredients, under circumA very large number of these are at first stances favorable to their union in the desired glance seen to be only instances of inertia being combination, and the combination then proceeds affected. To walk on water, to make water stand by the operation of natural laws. No one would in a heap, to raise a body from the ground, to be surprised to hear that some chemist had thus cast down walls, or move bolts and doors, are attained to form starch or gluten, the main inobviously exertions of simple mechanical force gredients of bread, or oil, or spirit, or essences ; such as we ourselves daily employ. Their effec- for, if it were announced, we should all know that tive cause is neither more nor less than an inter- he had only discovered some new method of ference with the law of inertia, and by the pre- manipulation by which circumstances were ar· vious demonstration they are therefore not to be ranged so as to favor the natural laws which efreckoned as breaches of any law of nature. fect the union of the necessary elements. There
Let us try if this can be made clearer by an fore, if these substances are formed by divine example. It has been stated before that if iron power, it is not creation—it is only the chemist's were made to swim on water by modification of work, adopting natural laws for its methods, and the law of gravity it would be creation of a new bringing them into play by transposition of masubstance differing from iron in being of less terial substances. specific gravity. At the same time, the original Meteorological processes—such as lightning, iron of normal specific gravity would have disap- rain, drought, winds—are sometimes made the peared. These processes of creation and destruc- immediate cause of “miracles," as when the tion would be so unprecedented that we should wind caused the waters of the Red Sea to flow justly call them violations of the ordinary laws back, or brought the flights of quails or locusts. of nature. But, at least, we should then expect These are effects which we know wind is quite that the light iron thus created would be perma- capable of producing, and does produce naturalnently light, and we should call it another breach ly. Was there, then, any breach of natural laws of the laws of nature if on lifting it from the (beyond that of inertia) in causing such winds to water we found it heavy. But, if we were to hold blow? or in bringing up thunder-clouds ? or in a magnet of suitable power over the original causing an arid season? We can not, indeed, heavy iron when at the bottom of the water, we say that there was not; but as little can we say might see it rise and float, although not touched that there was. For, since we ourselves have acor upheld by any visible substance, and although quired such power over lightning, the most inits specific gravity remained constant. In this scrutable and irresistible of all meteorological case it would be moved by a power which over- agencies, as to be able to lead it where we will, comes gravity, but there would be no creation how shall we say that God's infinite knowledge nor destruction of any property, and no natural has not the same power over the winds and the law would be broken. But, if now we substitute clouds, by employing only natural agencies for for “magnetic” “ divine” power, there is still no his work, and employing these only by the operabreach of a natural law, for no property is cre- tion of motion given to matter? ated or destroyed. In both cases the acting With regard to the healing of diseased matagent is a power outside the iron, invisible and ter, conjectures also can only be offered, because unknown, except by the effects. The effect of of the source of diseases we know so little. Sight both is the same: it is to give motion to matter, is restored in cataract by simple removal of an and nothing more. Hence neither violate any abnormal membrane. Many fevers, if the germ law of nature except that of inertia.
theory or the poison theory be correct, are cured Proceeding to another class of miracles, which when the germs die, or the poison is eliminated. seem at first to be creative, we shall find that A power that could kill the germs, or remove they also come within the range of familiar hu- them or the poison from the system, would then man potentiality. The making of bread, or meal, effect immediate cure in accordance with natural or oil, or wine, are instances of chemical synthe- laws. It does not seem necessarily beyond man's sis. These substances are composed of three or reach to effect this when he shall understand four elements, all gaseous except carbon (to be natural laws more fully; it can not, therefore, be