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MORAL MECHANICS AND DYNAMICS.
“ The spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.”
and the living creature
within the wheels is a good illustration of the proper union of mechanical and vital forces. Machinery is very important, but it must be directed by mind. There should always be the spirit of the living creature in the wheels. Machines are necessary, but there must be some vital force behind them.
The power of the wheel is the same as that of the lever, with this difference only, that in the wheel, before one lever has ceased to act, another takes its place. Thus a wheel consists of a multitude of levers joined together. When the wheel was invented, a great step forward was taken in human civilization.
But all machines must have a power behind them to move, to guide, to restrain, else the machinery is of no value. I propose to speak of the relatious of machinery and vital forces in thought
and life; or the machine in philosophy, morals, politics, and religion.
What a wonderful thing is vital power! In crossing the Atlantic we saw sea-gulls which attended the steamship day and night, on untiring wing, and we were told that they sometimes followed a vessel the whole way across the Atlantic. Consider the immense force in the little body which enables the bird to continue this unceasing flight !
A large part of the kingdom of Holland is from fifteen to twenty feet below high-water mark, or what is called the Amsterdam zero. The surplus water on the surface of the country must therefore be pumped up by numerous large windmills, and poured into the sea at low water by means of a system of canals. To accomplish this, engineers in all parts of the country are in constant telegraphic communication with a central office, from which, as from a brain, orders are sent to open the canal locks here, and close them there, so as to keep the waters everywhere at the proper level. Without such a perfect system Holland might at any time be inundated.
But by this complex machinery the inhabitants live safely below the level of the ocean; because the spirit of the living creature is within the wheels; because mind everywhere watches and controls mechanism.
This illustrates the relation between mechanical and vital forces. Machinery must be governed and directed by mind. As long as man governs the
machine, all goes well; but as soon as the machine controls the man, danger begins.
There are apparent exceptions to this. Some machines are ingeniously arranged so as to direct the man who watches them, and tell him what to do. A carpet-loom, for example, will tell the workman when to change the color of the wool. But this is no real exception to our rule, for, after all, it was mind which made and still governs the machine.
The living animal is the most wonderful of machines. Consider the human body, with its mysterious organization, in which the brain, the lungs, the heart, the digestive organs, and the muscular system work harmoniously together for seventy years. The heart beats on, day and night, when we are awake or while we sleep, driving the blood through the minutest capillaries to be oxygenated in the lungs, to feed the brain, and supply nutriment to bone and muscle. The nutritive organs, in silent hidden action, change, by a strange chemistry, food into blood. The arteries again carry to every part of the body the matter which renews its worn tissues and rebuilds its exhausted fibre. All this, and much more, goes on automatically in our body, without our knowing it or having to take any trouble about it. This has led some philosophers to say that man is wholly a machine, only an automaton. But, beside the machinery, there is the marvellous vital power, and the still more marvellous mental power. Some central vital force correlates