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to this office, be evident and certain (and I can mention nothing which is more so), ought it to prejudice the inference which we draw from these premises, that we cannot explain the use of the spleen? Nay, more: if there he parts of the eye, viz. the cornea, the crystalline, the retina, in their substance, figure, and position, manifestly suited to the formation of an image by the refraction of rays of light, at least, as manifestly as the glasses and tubes of a dioptric telescope are suited to that purpose; it concerns not the proof which these afford of design, and of a designer, that there may perhaps be other parts, certain muscles for instance, or nerves m the same eye, of the agency or effect of which we can give no account; any more than we should be inclined to doubt, or ought to doubt, about the construction of a telescope, viz. for what purpose it was constructed, or whether it were constructed at all, because there belonged to it certain screws and pins, the use or action of which we did not comprehend. I take it to be a general way of infusing doubts and scruples into the mind, to recur to its own ignorance, its own imbecility: to tell us that upon these subjects we know little; that little imperfectly; or rather, that we know nothing properly about the matter. These suggestions so fall in with our consciousness, as sometimes to produce a general distrust of our faculties and our conclusions. But this is an unfounded jealousy. The uncertainty of one thing does not necessarily affect the certainty of another thing. Our ignorance of many points need not suspend our assurance of a few. Before we yield, in any particular instance, to the scepticism which this sort of insinuation would induce, we ought accurately to ascertain, whether our ignorance or doubt concern those precise points upon which our conclusion rests. Other points are nothing. Our ignorance of other points may be of no consequence to these, though they be points, in various respects, of great importance. A just reasoner removes from his consideration, not only what he knows, but what he does not know, touching matters not strictly connected with his argument, i. e. not forming the very steps of his deduction: beyond these, his knowledge and his ignorance are alike relative.
THE ARGUMENT CUMULATIVE.
Weke there no example in the world, of contrivance, except that of the eye, it would
be alone sufficient to support the conclusion which we draw from it, as to the necessity of an intelligent Creator. It could never be got rid of; because it could not be accounted for by any other supposition, which did not contradict all the principles we possess of knowledge ; the principles according to which things do, as often as they can be brought to the test of experience, turn out to be true or false. Its coats and humours, constructed, as the lenses of a telescope are constructed, for the refraction of rays of light to a point, which forms the proper action of the organ; the provision in its muscular tendons for turning its pupil to the object, similar to that which is given to the telescope by screws, and upon which power of direction in the eye, the exercise of its office as an optical instrument depends; the farther provision for its defence, for its constant lubricity and moisture, which we see in its socket and its lids, in its gland for the secretion of the matter of tears, its outlet or communication with the nose for carrying off the liquid after the eye is washed with it; these provisions compose altogether an apparatus, a system of parts, a preparation of means, so manifest in their design, so exquisite in their contrivance, so successful in their issue, so precious, and so infinitely beneficial in their use, as, in my opinion, to bear down all doubt that can be raised upon the subject. And what I wish, under the title of the present chapter, to observe is, that if other parts of nature were inaccessible to our inquiries, or even if other parts of nature presented nothing to our examination but disorder and confusion, the validity of this example would remain the same. If there were but one watch in the world, it would not be less certain that it had a maker. If we had never in our lives seen any but one single kind of hydraulic machine, yet, if of that one kind we under stood the mechanism and use, we should be as perfectly assured that it proceeded from the hand, and thought, and skill, of a workman, as if we visited a museum of the arts, and saw collected there twenty different kinds of machines for drawing water, or a thousand different kinds for other purposes. Of this point, each machine is a proof, independently of all the rest. So it is with the evidences of a Divine agency. The proof is not a conclusion which lies at the end of a chain of reasoning, of which chain each instance of contrivance is only a link, and of which, if one link fail, the whole falls; but it is an argument separately supplied by every separate example. An error in stating an example, affects only that example. The argument is cumulative, in the fullest sense of that term. The eye proves it without the ear; the ear without the eye. The proof in each example is complete; for when the design of the part, and the conduciveness of its structure to that design is shown, the mind may set itself at rest; no future consideration can detract any thing from the force of the example.
OF THE MECHANICAL AND IMMECHANICAL PARTS AND FUNCTIONS OF ANIMALS AND VEGETABLES.
It is not that every part of an animal or vegetable has not proceeded from a contriving mind; or that every part is not constructed with a view to its proper end and purpose, according to the laws belonging to and governing the substance or the action made use of in that part; or that each part is not so constructed as to effectuate its purpose whilst it operates according to these laws; but it is because these laws themselves are not in all cases equally understood; or, what amounts to nearly the same thing, are not equally exemplified in more simple processes, and more simple machines; that we lay down the distinction, here proposed, between the mechanical parts and other parts of animals and vegetables.
For instance: The principle of muscular motion, viz. upon what cause the swelling of the belly of the muscle, and consequent contraction of its tendons, either by an act of the will, or by involuntary irritation, depends, is wholly unknown to us. The substance employed, whether it be fluid, gaseous, elastic, electrical, or none of these, or nothing resembling these, is also unknown to us : of course, the laws belonging to that substauce, and which regulate its action, are unknown to us. We see nothing similar to this contraction in any machine which we can make, or any process which we can execute. So far (it is confessed) we are in ignorance, but no farther. This power and principle, from whatever cause it proceeds, being assumed, the collocation of the fibres to receive the principle, the disposition of the muscles for the use and application of the power, is mechanical; and is as intelligible as the adjustment of the wires and strings by which a puppet is moved. We see, therefore, as far as respects the subject
before us, what is not mechanical in the animal frame, and what is. The nervous influence (for we are often obliged to give names to things which we know little about) —I say the nervous influence, by which the belly, or middle, of the muscle is swelled, is not mechanical. The utility of the effect we perceive; the means, or the preparation of means, by which it is produced, we do not. But obscurity as to the origin of muscular motion, brings no doubtfulness into our observations upon the sequel of the process: Which observations relate, \st, To the constitution of the muscle; in consequence of which constitution, the swelling of the belly or middle part is necessarily and mechanically followed by a contraction of the tendons: 2rf/y, To the number and variety of the muscles, and the corresponding number and variety of useful powers which they supply to the animal; which is astonishingly great: 3dty, To the judicious (if we may be permitted to use that term, in speaking of the Author, or of the works of nature), to the wise and well-contrived disposition of each muscle for its specific purpose; for moving the joint this way, and that way, and the other way; for pulling and drawing the part to which it is attached, in a determinate and particular direction; which is a mechanical operation, exemplified in a multitude of instances. To mention only one: The tendon of the trochlear muscle of the eye, to the end that it may draw in the line required, is passed through a cartilaginous ring, at which it is reverted, exactly in the same manner as a rope in a ship is carried over a block or round a stay, in order to make it pull in the direction which is wanted. All this, as we have said, is mechanical; and is as accessible to inspection, as capable of being ascertained, as the mechanism of the automaton in the Strand. Suppose the automaton to be put in motion by a magnet (which is probable), it will supply us with a comparison very apt for our present purpose. Of the magnetic effluvium, we know perhaps as little as we do of the nervous fluid. But, magnetic attraction being assumed (it signifies nothing from what cause it proceeds), we can trace, or there can be pointed out to us, with perfect clearness and certainty, the mechanism, viz. the steel bars, the wheels, the joints, the wires, by which the motion so much admired is communicated to the fingers of the image: and to make any obscurity, or difficulty, or controversy in the doctrine of magnetism, an objection to our knowledge or our certainty concerning the contrivance, or the marks of contrivance, displayed in the automaton, would be exactly the same thing, as it is to make our ignorance (which we acknowledge) of the cause of nervous agency, or even of the substance and structure of the nerves themselves, a ground of question or suspicion as to the reasoning which we institute concerning the mechanical part of our frame. That an animal is a machine, is a proposition neither correctly true nor wholly false. The distinction which we have been discussing will serve to show how far the comparison, which this expression implies, holds; and wherein it fails. And whether the distinction be thought of importance or not, it is certainly of importance to remember, that there is neither truth nor justice in endeavouring to bring a cloud over our understandings, or a distrust into our reasonings upon this subject, by suggesting that we know nothing of voluntary motion, of irritability, of the principle of life, of sensation, of animal heat, upon all which the / animal functions depend; for, our ignorance of these parts of the animal frame concerns not at all our knowledge of the mechanical Darts of the same frame. I contend, therefore, that there is mechanism in animals; that this mechanism is as properly such, as it is in machines made by art; that this mechanism is intelligible and certain; that it is not the less so, because it often begins or terminates with something which is not mechanical; that whenever it is intelligible and certain, it demonstrates intention and contrivance, as well in the works of nature as in those of art; and that it is the best demonstration which either can afford.
But whilst I contend for these propositions, I do not exclude myself from asserting, that there may be, and that there are, other cases, in which, although we cannot exhibit mechanism, or prove indeed that mechanism is employed, we want not sufficient evidence to conduct us to the same conclusion.
There is what may be called the chymical part of our frame; of which, by reason of the imperfection of our chymistry, we can attain to no distinct .knowledge, I mean not to a knowledge, either in degree or kind, similiar to that which we possess of the mechanical part of our frame. It does not, therefore, afford the same species of argument as that which mechanism affords; and yet it may afford an argument in a high degree satisfactory. The gastric juice, or the liquor which digests the food in the stomachs of animals, is of this class. Of all menstrua, it is the most active, the most universal. In the
human stomach, for instance, consider what a variety of strange substances, and how widely different from one another, it, in a few hours, reduces to a uniform pulp, milk, or mucilage. It seizes upon every thing, it dissolves the texture of almost every thing that comes in its way. The flesh of perhaps all animals; the seeds and fruits of the greatest number of plants; the roots, and stalks, and leaves of many, hard and tough as they are, yield to its powerful pervasion. The change wrought by it is different from any chymical solution which we can produce, or with which we are acquainted, in this respect as well as many others, that, in our chymistry, particular menstrua act only upon particular substances. Consider moreover, that this fluid, stronger in its operation than a caustic alkali or mineral acid, than red precipitate, or aqua-fortis itself, is nevertheless as mild, and bland, and inoffensive to the touch or taste, as saliva or gum-water, which it much resembles. Consider, I say, these several properties of the digestive organ, and of the juice with which it is supplied, or rather with which it is made to supply itself, and you will confess it to be entitled to a name, which it has sometimes received, that of "the chymical wonder of animal nature."
Still we are ignorant of the composition of this fluid, and of the mode of its action; by which is meant, that we are not capable, as we are in the mechanical part of our frame, of collating it with the operations of art. And this I call the imperfection of our chymistry; for, should the time ever arrive, which is not perhaps to be despaired of, when we can compound ingredients, so as to form a solvent which will act in the manner in which the gastric juice acts, we may be able to ascertain the chymical principles upon which its efficacy depends, as well as from what part, and by what concoction, in the human body, these principles are generated and derived.
In the mean time, ought that, which is in truth the defect of our chymistry, to hinder us from acquiescing in the inference, which a production of nature, by its place, its properties, its action, its surprising efficacy, its invaluable use, authorizes us to draw in respect of a creative design?
Another most subtile and curious function of animal bodies is secretion. This function is semi-chymical and semi-mechanical; exceedingly important and diversified in its effects, but obscure in its process and in its apparatus. The importance of the secretory organs is but too well attested by the diseases, which an excessive, a deficient, or a vitiated secretion is alu.ost sure of producing. A single secretion being wrong, is enough to make life miserable, or sometimes to destroy it. Nor is the variety less than the importance. From one and the same blood (I speak of the human body) about twenty different fluids are separated; in their sensible properties, in taste, smell, colour, and consistency, the most unlike one another that is possible; thick, thin, salt, bitter, sweet: and, if from our own we pass to other species of animals, we find amongst their secretions not only the most various, but the most opposite properties; the most nutritious aliment, the deadliest poison ; the sweetest perfumes, the most foetid odours. Of these the greater part, as the gastric juice, the saliva, the bile, the slippery mucilage which lubricates the joints, the tears which moisten the eye, the wax which defends the ear, are, after they are secreted, made use of in the animal economy; are evidently subservient, and are actually contributing to the utilities of the animal itself. Other fluids seem to be separated only to be rejected. That this also is necessary (though why it was originally necessary, we cannot tell), is shown by the consequence of the separation being long suspended; which consequence is disease and death. Akin to secretion, if not the same thing, is assimilation, by which one and the same blood is converted into bone, muscular flesh, nerves, membranes, tendons; things as different as the wood and iron, canvass and cordage, of which a ship with its furniture is composed. We have no operation of art wherewith exactly to compare all this, for no other reason perhaps than that all operations of art are exceeded by it. No chymical election, no chymical analysis or resolution of a substance into its constituent parts, no mechanical sifting or division, that we are acquainted with, in perfection or variety come up to animal secretion. Nevertheless, the apparatus and process are obscure; not to say absolutely concealed from our inquiries. In a few, and only a few instances, we can discern a little of the constitution of a gland. In the kidneys of large animals, we can trace the emulgent artery dividing itself into an infinite number of branches; their extremities everywhere communicating with little round bodies, in the substance of which bodies the secret of the machinery seems to reside, for there the change is made. We can discern pipes laid from these round bodies towards the pelvis, which is a bason within the solid of the kidney. We can
discern these pipes joining and collecting together into larger pipes; and, when so collected, ending in innumerable papillae, through which the secreted fluid is continually oozing into its receptacle. This is all we know of the mechanism of a gland, even in the case in which it seems most capable of being investigated. Yet to pronounce that we know nothing of animal secretion, or nothing satisfactorily, and with that concise remark to dismiss the article from our argument, would be to dispose of the subject very hastily and very irrationally. For the purpose which we want, that of evincing intention, we know a great deal. And what we know is this. We see the blood carried by a pipe, conduit, or duct, to the gland. We see an organized apparatus, be its construction or action what it will, which we call that gland. We see the blood, or part of the blood, after it has passed through and undergone the action of the gland, coming from it by an emulgent vein or artery, i. e. by another pipe or conduit. And we see also at the same time a new and specific fluid issuing from the same gland by its excretory duct, i. e. by a third pipe or conduit; which new fluid is in some cases discharged out of the body, in more cases retained within it, and there executing some important and intelligent office. Now supposing, or admitting, that we know nothing of the proper internal constitution of a gland, or of the mode of its acting upon the blood; then our situation is precisely like that of an unmechanical looker-on, who stands by a stocking-loom, a corn-mill, a carding-machine, or a thrashingmachine, at work, the fabric and mechanism of which, as well as all that passes within, is hidden from his sight by the outside case; or, if seen, would be too complicated for his uninformed, uninstructed understanding to comprehend. And what is that situation 1 This spectator, ignorant as he is, sees at one end a material enter the machine, as unground grain the mill, raw cotton the carding-machine, sheaves of unthrashed corn the thrashingmachine; and, when he casts his eye to the other end of the apparatus, he sees the material issuing from it in a new state; and, what is more, in a state manifestly adapted to future uses; the grain in meal fit for the making of bread, the wool in rovings ready for spinning into threads, the sheaf in corn dressed for the mill. Is it necessary that this man, in order to be convinced that design, that intention, that contrivance has been employed about the machine, should be allowed to pull it to pieces; should be enabled to examine the parts separately; explore their action upon one another, or their operation, whether simultaneous or successive, upon the material which is presented to them? He may long to do this to gratify his curiosity; he may desire to do it to improve his theoretic knowledge; or he may have a more substantial reason for requesting it, if he happen, instead of a common visitor, to be a mill-wright by profession, or a person sometimes called in to repair such-like machines when out of order; but, for the purpose of ascertaining the existence of counsel and design in the formation of the machine, he wants no such intromissiou or privity. What he sees, is sufficient. The effect upon the material, the change produced in it, the utility of that change for future applications, abundantly testify, be the concealed part of the machine or of its construction what it will, the hand and agency of a contriver.
If any confirmation were wanting to the evidence which the animal secretions afford of design, it may be derived, as has been already hinted, from their variety, and from their appropriation to their place and use. They all come from the same blood: they are all drawn off by glands: yet the produce is very different, and the difference exactly adapted to the work which is to be done, or the end to be answered. No account can be given of this, without resorting to appointment. Why, for instance, is the saliva, which is diffused over the seat of taste, insipid, whilst so many others of the secretions, the urine, the tears, and the sweat, are salt? Why does the gland within the ear separate a viscid substance, which defends that passage; the gland in the upper angle of the eye, a thin brine, which washes the ball? Why is the synovia of the joints mucilaginous; the bile bitter, stimulating, and soapy? Why does the juice, which flows into the stomach, contain powers, which make that bowel the great laboratory, as it is by its situation the recipient, of the materials of future nutrition? These are all fair questions; and no answer can be given to them, but what calls in intelligence and intention.
My object in the present chapter has been to teach three things: first, that it is a mistake to suppose that, in reasoning from the appearances of nature, the imperfection of our knowledge proportionably affects the certainty of our conclusion; for in many cases it does not affect it at all: secondly, that the different parts of the animal frame may be classed and distributed, according to the degree of exactness with which we can
compare them with works of art: thirdly, that the mechanical parts of our frame, or those in which this comparison is most complete, although constituting, probably, the coarsest portions of nature's workmanship, are the most proper to be alleged as proofs and specimens of design.
OF MECHANICAL ARRANGEMENT JN THE HUMAN FRAME.
We proceed, therefore, to propose certain examples taken out of this class; making choice of such as, amongst those which have come to our knowledge, appear to be the most striking, and the best understood; but obliged, perhaps, to postpone both these recommendations to a third; that of the example being capable of explanation without plates, or figures, or technical language.
OF THE BONES.
I.—I challenge any man to produce, in the joints and pivots of the most complicated or the most flexible machine that was ever contrived, a construction more artificial, or more evidently artificial, than that which is seen in the vertebrae of the human neck,— Two things were to be done. The head was to have the power of bending forward and backward, as in the act of nodding, stooping, looking upward or downward; and, at the same time, of turning itself round upon the body to a certain extent, the quadrant we will say, or rather, perhaps, a hundred and twenty degrees of a circle. For these two purposes, two distinct contrivances are employed: First, the head rests immediately upon the uppermost of the vertebrae, and is united to it by a hinge-pint; upon which joint the head plays freely forward and backward, as far either way as is necessary, or as the ligaments allow; which was the first thing required.—But then the rotatory motion is unprovided for: Therefore, secondly, to make the head capable of this, a farther mechanism is introduced; not between the head and the uppermost bone of the neck, where the hinge is, but between that bone, and the bone next underneath it? It is a mechanism resembling a tenon and mortice. This second, or uppermost bone but one, has what anatomists call a process, viz. a projection, somewhat similar, in size and shape, to a tooth; which tooth, entering a corresponding hole or socket in the bone above it, forms a pivot or axle, upon which that upper bone,