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ing evil, for its own sake, is proof positive of the divine benevolence, which has thus constituted our inner nature, to love virtue and abominate vice, even were such vice possible, in Deity himself !
Besides, we behold innumerable evidences of Infinite goodness around us. In the boundless beauty, that ever lives from age to age on the earth below, and in the splendors of the firmament above us, we see and feel it. We behold it in the ecstacies of youthful love, in the serene joys of friendship—in the cherished sympathies and endearing recollections of sweet hoine. It bubbles up even in the gratifications of sense, and mingles with the coarse luxuries of animal instinct.' We hear it in the songs of birds, and the evening hum of the bee-hive. Sickness adds a new zest to convalescence. Never is the light of heaven so enchanting as after a night of cloud and tempest. And even the grave itself is sometimes sought after by philosophy as well as religion, as a not unwelcome bed of repose. It is only the sin that has wrought its own keenest sufferings, which throws such gloomy colors on the features of nature. The little innocent children, and all true poets, as well as enlightened Christians, and the great mass of mankind, love this same nature so well, that they are very loth to bid her farewell, even for the revealed bliss of life everlasting !
We will notice only one more objection, and speedily bring our argument to a close. It is not an atheistical objection, but one that will doubtless be made by many intelligent and pious Christians, to one idea expressed in our conclusion, and demonstrated, as we cannot but deem most fully, in our whole course of reasoning. That idea is the immediate everpresent agency of the Deity in all the phenomena of nature. One class of writers on natural theology view the universe of worlds as a grand machine, that was, to be sure, originally put together by the divine hand and set in motion, since which time it continues to run of its own accord, like other mechanical constructions of a similar kind, though under the general superintendence and control of Providence.
Such is the mechanical conception of the universe, as opposed to the dynamic or atheistical. It allows the presence and agency of God. 1. At the period of creation ; and 2. His occasional intervention at the periods of miracles. It allows, too, his general supervision to keep the machine of nature from falling into pieces. But it denies altogether that every phenomenal evolution of matter-every motion produced, either in molecules or masses, is the immediate effect of a present volition of the Divine mind.
This conception prevails to a considerable extent among scientific men ; and is embraced, perhaps, by at least one-half of the Christian world.
We have no doubt, that the almost material, certainly sensual philosophy of Locke, contributed mainly to this result in the first instance-a result still farther strengthened by the strictly mechanical argument, presented with such admirable clearness in Paley's Natural Theology. The exceedingly eloquent writings of the late lamented Dr. Chalmers, also aided the advance of this general tendency.
We are compelled to regard the prevalence of such an opinion as injurious, though not designedly so, to the general interests of religion and science both ; while we must feel that it strips nature of her most highly poetic ornaments, and reduces her most gorgeous works to the condition of mere lifeless contrivances. We have no sympathy whatever for "celestial mechanics.” Indeed, it seems to us, that the word is a strange misnomer, when applied to the magnificent creations of the Deity, either on the earth or in the sky. To render this evident, let us consider the meaning of the term when used in reference to works of human art.
In such structures, we do not create any new material, nor any new
force. We simply apply the old to new purposes, by giving them a new direction. It is a settled law in mechanics, that no arrangement of parts can possibly, under any combination of circumstances, add one particle of power to the original stock of nature. The screw, the lever, the wheel and axle, always lose in time exactly what they gain-in intensity. And thus it is true, beyond all controversy, that the mightiest art of man can neither create a single new atom of matter, or add to the universe one iota of active force. It merely plans special collocations of parts, and adapts them to the action of existing forces. Thus it prepares the water-wheel, and places it in the running stream, where the revolutions are performed by an everpresent power. Thus is human mechanics an arrangement of means, where the human intellect co-operates with the uniform motions perpetually evolved by the divine volition.
Now, we may be permitted to inquire, in what sense can the Deity be said to fabricate such contrivances ? He is the direct Creator, not only of the matter and collocations, but of all the forces whatsoever. He cannot possibly, then, adapt arrangements of means to the action of pre-existing forces, which is the sole meaning of the word mechanics with us. Thus is the conception of a mechanical Deity as faise in theory, as it is, in our humble opinion, degrading to the proper idea of a God, which is that of an infinite free activity, the cause of all conceivable effects which are not the voluntary products of the finite activities created and preserved by him.
The mechanical argument is also defective as a mere piece of reasoning, for
1. A machine doth unquestionably prove a machine-builder, if it be granted that the given structure be indeed a machine, and that it was actually created. But deny this-deny that a given apparatus ever began to be at all, and until the fact of its beginning be proven, the argument opens a hiatus, that no extent of ingenuity can possibly bridge over.
This is the first and radical defect in the reasoning of Paley. It is based on the postulate, (not proven or attempted to be proven, in his treatise,) of an actual historical creation. The moment the question comes up
-“ But what if this earth and yonder heavens be from eternity :" the argument of Paley can furnish no answer, but silently crumbles into pieces. Atheists never were logicians, and they have, therefore, all failed to notice this ruinous flaw in Paley's Treatise. The piercing sagacity of Dr. Chalmers detected its existence, and he essayed to supply the desideratum by considerations deduced from the facts of geology. It might, perhaps, be difficult to say whether he did or did not partially succeerd.
One response, however, to all his eloquent dissertation, renders it utterly impotent to work conviction in a thoroughly logical mind-that if present physical powers can now form the individual organized vegetable or animal, the presumption is strong that past physical powers may primarily have created the genus and the species. To this there can be no answer.
2. But in the second place, an equally fatal defect in the argument of Paley is, that it affords no shadow, of even presumptive proof, of the present existence of God at all! His favorite example of the watch demonstrates this so clearly, that we need to refer no other.
No watch ever constructed by the art of man can possibly furnish the slightest proof of the present existence of its maker. It may continue to keep the record of passing time with the most admirable regularity and precision long after the hand that wrought and arranged its springs and wheels had mouldered into dust. He may have ceased to be for a day, a year, or a millennium of ages, and it still beat on, ticking its metallic teeth, but telling no news of him who first polished them, nor of the very fingers
that wound up its slender chain but yesterday. May it not be so with the world, with all worlds, on the mechanical hypothesis ? God may have exhausted his power in the creation, for aught a cold machine can say to the contrary. He may have ceased to exist six thousand years ago; nay, the very moment he rested from his labors, and we be none the more apprized of the fact by the utterance of all mechanical suns and systems which, as to this point, are dumb as the coarsest clods of inorganic matter.
Nothing can prove present power but present motion, or the unequivocal signs of its present being.
But no such objections hold as to the mathematical and rational argument, of which we have presented the brief outlines in the foregoing pages. It appeals only to the past, as witnessed in grand bieroglyphics, seen at the present lour, sculptured on the limestone of the mountains, and engraven in the soft wood of every tree in the forest, and written among the silken corals of all the powers of the fields.
For the most part, our argument appeals to present motions—the sublime evolutions that are each moment being manifested before our eyes. It points to the past, and proves
that a God was. It turns to the present, and demonstrates that He is now. It calls to mind the eternal uniformity of nature, and infers with indubitable certainty, that he will continue to be forever. It leaves no desideratum to be wished for by its friends, and no weakness assailable by its foes. By its application of the doctrine of chances to the mathematical equations which nature presents in ever recurring series, this argument renders the creed of atheism impossible, without actual insanity.
And viewed in this radiant light, how wonderfully luminous and beautiful doth the face of the universe become! We behold the Deity enthroned in splendor everywhere, and on all things alike. We see his love-smile on the petals of flowers and the wings of birds, as well as in the brightness of the sky and deep azure of the ocean. We hear his voice in the octaves of all our music, pealing in the deep bass of our Sabbath organs, out-preaching all our priests, and tolling the bell of thunder, hung in clouds that float higher than the Andes. He weaves the fibres of the oak-he twines the gleaming threads of the rainbow-he vibrates the pendulous sea-waveshe calls to prayer from the heart of the storm. But sweeter, Oh! sweeter far than all, soft and clear, and without ceasing in our own souls, for ourselves, and those whom we are permitted to love dearly as ourselves, He whispers infinite hope and life everlasting !
all this follows froin the admission of the immediate and universal agency and providence of God throughout all the realms of nature. Despair can fing no dark shadow on the soul in the presence of that sunshine which gilds all things. There is no room for doubt when faith fills immensity. Atoms and worlds alike become transfigured in the new and cryptic light, which beams out as from beneath a transparent veil, in objects the most insignificant-in scenes the most unpoetic. Even the cold eyes of death ray ineffable effulgence, like stars rising upwards to their zenith. Pale fear, appalled at his own shadow, flies over the confines of creation, and leaves all hearts alone with love and joy.
We know that we cannot be lost out of the bosom of God. For the root of the soul is in God, and therefore cannot die. The iron chain of necessity releases its coil around the world, and its clanking links of dark circumstance melt away in receding mists, as in the presence of a sun shivered into spangles of glory. The tears of sorrow turn on the faded cheek of the mourner into priceless pearls; and prayer and praise breathe out among blooming roses on white lips quivering with agony. The old, familiar faces of the long, long ago"
--the loved, the lost-aye, the long lost, but never forgotten, are around us once more. “ Their smile in the starlight doth wander by-their breath is near in the wind's low sigh,” in music's divinest tone. The endless ages are crowded into a luminous point. There is no past or future. The faith that asserts God, proclaims all things present to the soul. We repose on the bosom of our Father with a confidence nothing can shake. Friends may grow cold and change around us; enemies may band together for our destruction; lovers may fly away and leave us, like sunny birds when the cloud lowers, and the voice of thunder is heard remote. But we have one immortal friend that stands between us and all foes, encircling our souls in his arms of everlasting love.
For shall not he who preserves and blesses, and beautifies all things, take good care of all those, his human children, especially created in his own image of power, wisdom and love? He paints the wings of the little butterfly. He gilds the crimson flower-cups, where the tiny insect sips honeydew at morn. He launches every beam of light. He adds plumes to every wandering zephyr. Every sparrow that falls from its leafy bough with a chill-pain in its dying heart, falls to sleep on his kindly breast. Never a grain of sand, nor a drop of dew, nor a glimmer of light, has been lost out of his embrace of infinite tenderness since the beginning of time, nor will be while eternity rolls on. Shall he then lose me? Can I lose myself?
Then“ will I trust him though he slay me." On the summit of this exalted faith, which is certainty, I rest secure. Nothing can move me more. The sensuous world has vanished from beneath my feet. I live already in the spirit-land. The immortal dead are around me. I hear them holding high converse in the translucent clouds. It is no night-vision, although brighter than all dreams. I am become a king, for I am now a son and heir of the universal empire. My throne stands on a pyramid of mathematical principles as old as God himself. I have ascended a demonstration that carries me into the heaven of heavens. I have bid adieu to fear. What is there to harm me in the presence of my Almighty Father in a universe of brethren? There can be nothing more to desire. Other want is impossible. I have found God, who owneth all things. • Here, then, will I take my repose. The vessel in which I am embarked may drift whithersoever it will on this immeasurable sea of being. It may run riot on the giddy waves; lightning and tempest may rend every sail, and leave its masts bare. Impenetrable storms may hide every load-star in heaven; the angry spirit of the waters may shriek till the whole world is deaf. What care I? Let the storm howl on! God guides it. And on whatsoever shore the wreck is thrown at last, He is sure to be there with all my loves and hopes around him; and wherever He is, there is the open gate of heaven; for there is the everlasting love, which is heaven!
66 66 45"
Errata.—The following typographical errors in the first part of the preceding article, es. caped our notice last month : On page 105, line 2d from the top, for “vis inertie” read vis inertiæ, 105, 6 21st
66 " casual”
causal. 112,6 31th "
6 “ transiest"
transient. 3d 66 bottom,“ “ height"
top, “ “ equalization” “ equation.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE DEMOCRATIC Review :
The enclosed lines have, I believe, never before appeared in print, although they are from the pen of one to whom the public was once much indebted for numerous fine and pathetic pieces. But he has passed away, and the name of Solomon Southwick is unknown to almost all who compose the learned and literary world of to-day. Some there may be, whose days have been prolonged by the genial influence of a peaceful life, passed at a distance from the noise and turmoil of the city, who yet remember the Plough Boy and its editor. The paper was devoted to the interest of agriculture; and now, when the lowing herd enlivens the summer evening with the tinkling of its leader's bell, the minds of some of our affluent old farmers must be led back unconsciously to the times when less prosperous circumstances made it necessary for them to drive the progenitors of this same herd to the yard themselves, after a hard day's work with a rude cradle in the wheat field; and then to the long winter's evening, when they conned the contents of his paper by the cheerful blaze of a pine knot, or a crackling fire on the hearth. Much of their present wealth, their fine horses and farms, are owing to gentle hints and receipts for frugality or agricultural improvements, there learned in the Plough Boy. They now feel that the great political party, who then spoke to them through Southwick, have not so much mismanaged after all, and that the agricultural interest was the true interest of the state. If I am right in believing that there are some such yet left, and that they are among the readers of your Review, a perusal of the enclosed lines, written by Mr. Southwick in the latter part of his life, cannot be unacceptable to them. The fine sentiment and soft expression of the lines, added to their truth, may make them agreeable to others, while I feel that it is my duty, at all events, to give them to the public, Southwick played a distinguished part during his life in our state politics, and was once a candidate for Governor. He died about 1842, having risen from a printer's boy to the editor's chair, and from that to the highest political distinction in the state. He was a fine writer, of both prose and poetry, which latter cannot be more easily proved, than by a perusal of these verses, which are en. titled to a bigh standing among American productions.
ON VISITING MY MOTHER'S GRATE,
IN NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND,
When my father's halls were desolate,
What time my mother died-
And how I wept and sighed !
My heart was on the rack :
To bring my mother back?
The funeral hour was fixed upon,
And friends and neighbors came,
That lowly breathed the name
Was there before their eyes,
Her soul might reach the skies !