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ten on the subject. The vigorous and well-trained hunter on the Alps will leap from cliff to cliff without impediment, while the more feeble and less-used stranger may be obliged to clamber up and down the chasms over which the other had passed with a bound. So, too, the well-schooled metaphysician will need but a mere statement of principles, while others less experienced will require the aid of the successive steps in the reasoning.
Mr. Bledsoe may well be proud of the part which he has taken in a discussion which has engaged, for such a length of time, so many and so distinguished writers in this and other countries. "Were he never to contribute anything more to the literature of his country, he must still be regarded as having done much in advancing its reputation. To expect that his doctrines will command the assent of all-that his reasoning will break through old and fainiliar prejudices—or that his work will bring to a close a controversy which has been so long and so ably conducted—would be too Utopian an anticipation for any sober man to entertain. But we think it is not going too far to say, that he has placed the discussion on grounds from which it will not be easy for any successor to shift it.
The work of Edwards was at one time studied in many of our seminaries as a text book in intellectual philosophy, but has of late become disused. We cannot say that we approve of the change. As a means of disciplining the minds of students, and habituating them to modes of rigorous reasoning, we do not know of any work that can well be substituted for it. But we would have the Examination of Mr. Bledsoe to accompany it into our schools and colleges. We do not fear the moral risk of such a measure; for we believe that the Inquiry into the Freedom of the Will never had the effect of gaining proselytes to its doctrines, though it has always drawn forth homage to the superiority of its dialectics. But if it never before made much headway against the feelings and consciousness of men through the avenue of hard reasoning alone, it will not be likely to become very fatal, since there has been such an antidote furnished as the book we have been reviewing.
We can never, however, recur to the Works of Jonathan Edwards without expressing our admiration of his exalted powers, which in some respects have never been surpassed. We can never forget that he was one of the first of American writers who wrung from our transatlantic brethren some deference to American talent and learning. We can never forget that from out of the wild forests of the new world he sent forth, as an earnest of future contributions to theological literature, a work which all the ingenuity of foreign
criticism, pointed by a feeling of contemptuousness for the land from which it sprung, never could furnish an entirely satisfactory reply. And although the time may come when, as a guide in the doctrines of divinity, Edwards may have long ceased to be revered as he has been, we should regret ever to expect the time to arrive when his Works will cease to be regarded as a model of forensic argumentation, or to be studied by those who are in the training of education, and whose acumen might well be sharpened, and intellects strengthened, by a frequent recurrence to the pages of one of the greatest of metaphysicians.
Art. VII.-A Treatise on the Forces which produce the Organi
zation of Plants. With an Appendix, containing several Memoirs on Capillary Attraction, Electricity, and the Chemical Action of Light. By John William DRAPER, M. D., Professor of Chemistry in the University of New York. Harper & Brothers. 1844.
This Treatise is an honor to the scientific character of our country. It is not a republication of transatlantic thought in American language; but whether some of its views may have been entertained before or not, it bears the impress of originality. Though its author has read much, he has evidently studied and experimented more, and his work has that unity in sentiment and continuity of parts so characteristic of the production of a single mind. Many of our scientific works are indeed original, but they remind us of the habitations of the semi-barbarous beings who dwell amid the ruins of some ancient city. Though these habitations are partially made up of ancient edifices, perhaps once the pride of the world, yet they exhibit an architecture perfectly unique. Ionic, Corinthian, and Gothic, are all blended together, and, perhaps, surmounted by a modern thatched roof. This Treatise is not a compilation. The mechanical beauty of the volume is but a suitable dress for the well-sustained views and interesting experiments of its learned and laborious author. It treats, too, upon a subject of interest not merely to the scientific man, but to the theologian and all who love to think. Science and religion are twin sisters, and never should be separated. The one is truth evolved from God's works by observation and reason, the other is truth evolved from revelation by the same powers; and all truth is of one nature. If the apparently legitimate conclusions of science and theology are contradictory, the fault is in ourselves, who, from an improper use of the medium through which the observations are made, obtain a distorted image of the truth.
The great object of the first chapter of the Treatise is to show that organization and life are not originated and sustained by the indescribable “vital principle” of the old physiologists, but are the legitimate result of the same forces that regulate the movements of all inanimate nature. This subject in various phases has been discussed, sometimes angrily, from the earliest ages of the world. Many theologians, jealous of what might to the unreflecting appear a leaning toward atheism, have laid themselves open to severe attacks, on account of a careless, and, perhaps, contemptuous disregard of material laws, and a hasty ascription of observed phenomena to the direct agency of God without the intervention of law.
The one grand truth, that all nature is the emanation of a supreme Being, who upholds it and directs it in all its wondrous evolution of cause and effect, science never has controverted and never can; nay, it has not the slightest tendency thus to do: but, on the other hand, all its investigations and deductions rest upon this truth as a foundation-pointing undeviatingly to the power of God. But when the theologian leaves this ground and attempts to show how God works, and that, too, by one short sentence, by “speaking and it is done,” irrespective of the laws with which he has previously invested nature, he lays himself open to attacks which he does not deserve and cannot withstand. We maintain that atheism never has appeared on the offensive with the slightest plausibility when the theologian confined himself to his own ground, for there, like Bunyan's pilgrim, he is invincible; it is only in the by-ways that he is exposed to discomfiture and defeat.
Ex nihilo nihil fit-From nothing, nothing comes-exclaims the skeptic, with all the dogmatism of one who professes to have stretched the tether of human reason, and is gazing proudly at the concentrated result of all his toils. But he is too hasty. This maxim, or axiom if you please, which he binds on his forehead and reveres as his creed, is capable of being turned against himself. It is a formidable weapon, and he alone is not to use it. It is not unlimited in its application, and where it does apply it is one of the strongest expressions that language can afford to show the existence of God. The origin of the existence of matter is wholly beyond the reach of human reason, and no naxim of man can apply to it; and were there no other evidence of the agency of God than the mere existence of matter—no subsidiary proof drawn from de
sign or revelation—the theist and atheist would stand on precisely the same ground, neither could confute nor confirm the other.
Let the world be divested of all its beauty, disrobed of everything which shows the power and goodness of God, let it become
“Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless-
and on this desolate, dead globe, let one disembodied spirit roam, uninstructed, undirected disembodied, for a body would, with its wonderful mechanism, speak to him of God-and though he might exclaim, “From nothing, nothing comes,” therefore, this mass of dead matter must have existed for ever, even then it would have no force, for it would still be beyond the province of human reason to decide whether matter is uncreated or not. But while he gazes, wrapped in darkness and meditation, let a wondrous revolution commence, even the “revolution of the heavenly orbs"let light and life dawn upon the carth, and the shades of a past eternity roll grandly away-let the slumbering ocean begin to heave, and the silent streams to murmur, and the grass, and the flowers, and the trees to spring up, and the animate creation to revel, and the solitary spirit himself be enrobed in a body "fearfully and wondrously made”—and his first impulse would be, with arms extended to heaven, to exclaim, “From nothing, nothing comes : therefore, in all around me I recognize the works of a great Supreme, whose power, wisdom, and goodness I adore.”
Thus it would be, thus it is now. We have not seen the commencement of organized beings, but mere collocation of atoms never could have produced them; and every plant, from the humblest individual of that dense microscopic forest which forms a speck of mildew, to the oak which has breasted the storms of centuries; every animal, from the prince of the populous empire in a single drop of water to the elephant, all speak to us of a great Creator, resting their conclusion, too, on the much-abused truth,“From nothing, nothing comes."
But what sustains and regulates the ever-fading and ever-returning vesture of vegetation? Is it the result of light, heat, and electricity, or must we call in another agent to our aid, -the vital principle? It must appear evident that the reply to this question, whether affirmative or negative, cannot in the slightest degree intimate that nature is independent of God; inasmuch as all natural laws should be considered but expressions of the Almighty's will, and manifestations of his purposes. Holy Writ teaches us that God is unchangeable, “the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever;" and this one truth is the substratum of natural science. On this one truth the whole universe, natural and spiritual, depends. Were God changeable, nature would be changeable; there would be no reasoning from analogy, the events of tomorrow could not be predicated from to-day; memory would be useless, conjecture impossible. But since God is unchangeable, order reigns supreme; and the conception of Plato becomes sublimely beautiful, so forcibly like truth is it, that the universe is a musical instrument-all its parts adjusted to each other in the most perfect harmony. There is not a discord in nature, save where, like a slight one in a splendid musical composition, it contributes to the beauty of the whole, and such discord is the most perfect harınony.
When the universe sprang into existence at the fiat of God, it was put into action-every atom received its command, its eternal task—and the work was gladly commenced. This work has continued till now, and will for ever continue. Every change has resulted, every future change will result, from the nature then given it, for God sees the end from the beginning.
These evolutions so varied, yet uniform, men call the laws of nature; they are rather the manifest purposes of God.
We can conceive of but two classes of individuals who have failed to recognize the hand of Deity in his works. They may be properly styled the idiotic and the insane. The idiotic are a striking exemplification of the propriety of the oft-quoted couplet of Pope, in its true sense,
“A little learning is a dangerous thing,
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring."
Creatures of a day, they have looked upon the works of the Almighty and seen their beauty; but they do not, like the pagan, adore even that. Adoration, the noblest of emotions, seems to have perished from want of exercise. The divinity all around us they cannot, or rather will not, see. Such are the semi-educated skeptics of every corrupt neighborhood. They have but a smattering of science, if any; and a few unmeaning phrases and apparent enig. mas, which have been retailed in their class from generation to generation with unremitted assiduity, though their absurdity has been demonstrated again and again, are their only stock of theological knowledge.
The other class of skeptics, of which there have been but very