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the outside world are so established that it can draw from the latter its support. In both cases, the organizing and appropriating power is LIFE.
In view of this remarkable fact, we can hardly wonder that so many have conceived that there is a plastic power in nature itself, by which these organizations are effected. But what is meant by plastic power? Is it any thing more than a convenient term under which philosophy may hide its failure to solve the problem of LIFE? The idea of plastic power is, that it is an agent which takes hold of inorganic physical materials, and organizes them so as to produce life. But what is this agent? Where does it reside? If it is a quality of matter, and inheres in matter, what is it, then, but to say that matter organizes itself? If it is not a quality of matter and does not inhere in matter, how does it differ from the living principle or germ ordained by the great Creator of all for the perpetuation of life—each in its appropriate mode and form? The former is sometimes used by the infidel, as an indirect method of ignoring the direct agency of God in the universe. The latter makes full recognition of that agency. The former endues matter with
power to produce the various forms of life. The latter recognizes every being possessed of life, as originating in an elementary germ; and that this germ of itself determines the species of the being produced. Hence the celebrated maxim of Harvey, omne animal ex ovo. Thus all races and orders of living bodies, first created by God, are also endowed by him with reproductive powers for the perpetuation and increase of the several species.
The tenacity of life in the ovum is also worthy of notice as tending to show the mysteriousness of the vital element. The old story of the vegetation of wheat found in an Egyptian
mummy, and which had probably been entombed with it three thousand years, is familiar to our readers. In
addition to this, the North British Agriculturist not long since gave an account of the clearing away of the debris from an old Roman camp, upon the soil of which, thus made bare, there sprung up no less than seventy-four varieties of oats never seen in that section before. The matter was thoroughly sifted; and the conclusion was that the place was an old cavalry camp, and that the oats now germing had been brought from other climes, and had lain buried 1,500 years under the earth. Yet this seed, when exposed to the action of the sun, and air, and moisture, germed as readily as though it had been the growth of the preceding harvest. The fact is also well known, that the seed entombed for ages in an alluvial soil, when thrown up with the dirt from the bottom of deep excavations, will germ and grow. These facts indicate that no limits in time can be set to durations of life pent up in a kernel of grain. May not the same be true of the germ of life in the ovum of the animal ?
III. ANTAGONISMS BETWEEN ANIMAL AND VEGETABLE
In this discussion we have thus far made no distinction between animal and vegetable life. There is that relationship between the embryo condition of each that indicates one original type. There is unity of design. But we can not advance far in our investigations without discovering radical differences; and what is still more striking, these very differences reveal to us a higher and grander harmony. Animal life and vegetable life are the counterpart of each other. This is seen in their different action upon the atmosphere, and the different relations they sustain to the earth. The plant is constantly consuming the carbonic acid in the atmosphere, and at the same time replenishiug
that atmosphere with oxygen. On the other hand, animal bodies are constantly consuming oxygen and returning carbonic acid. Thus has the equilibrium of the atmosphere been preserved for ages.
The French chemists group the differences, or antago. nisms, between plants and animals in a very clear and striking manner. They make at least six of them, as follows:
THE ANIMAL, 1. PRODUCES the neutral, nitrogenized 1. CONSUMES the neutral, nitrogenized substances, fatty substances, sugar, gum, substances, fatty substances, sugar, gum, and starch.
and starch. 2. DECOMPOSES carbonic acid, water, 2. PRODUCES carbonic acid, water, and and ammoniacal salts.
ammoniacal salts. 3. DISENGAGES oxygen.
3. ABSORBS oxygen. 4. ABSORBS heat and electricity. 4. PRODUCES heat and electricity. 5. Is an apparatus of DEOXIDATION. 5. Is an apparatus of OXIDATION. 6. IS STATIONARY.
6. IS LOCOMOTIVE.
From the above it will be seen that there is, in various and important respects, a distinct antagonism between plants and animals. And yet when taken in their relation to the inorganic world, we see how indispensable they are to each other, and how these very antagonisms minister to the harmony of the universe.
These differences, or, to express the fact more correctly, these antagonisms between the physical structure of plants and of animals, and their relations to inorganic matter, suggest a wide difference, if not an entire dissimilarity, between the principle of life in each. But how wide this difference may be, or in what it consists; whether they differ in nature or only in manifestation, are questions that do not concern this discussion. Nor does it seem that human science has yet grasped the elements of knowledge essential to their solution.
We are not, however, inclined, with Professor Draper, to regard a plant as being a mere physical operation, originating in some antecedent physical impression, and that, therefore, all the phenomena of plants are mechanical and material.* We see no reason why He who has created such variety in the substances of the inorganic world, might not also have created different kinds of LIFE. We think there is at least ground for inference that two elements which operate in such direct antagonism in their effects upon
the material world must be different in their essential nature. But if in this lowest form of life—so low, indeed, that some philosophers have questioned whether it is any thing more than a physical operation—there are to be found no spontaneous organizations; none without the antecedent germ from which it springs; then how complete the demonstration that organization is produced by LIFE, and not life by organization!
IV. HIGHER ELEMENTS OF LIFE IN MAN.
The animal creation stands out distinct from and superior to the vegetable-holding, indeed, many things in common with it, but at the same time possessing other qualities which place it at an immeasurable remove from it. So man possesses many qualities in common with the animal, but he has also others which place him at a remove almost infinite.
These other qualities are not, as we have already seen, in his physical organization. Take away the higher endowment of a thinking and reasoning spirit, and man would no longer be able to cope with many species of his cotemporary animals. He could not face the lion, the tiger, or the wolf; the buffalo would cease to acknowledge his prowess; the horse would speed away from him, and even the mule would hold him in derision. You may endow him with all of life that is possessed or implied in mere animal function, and still, from his very physical organization, he would be compelled to yield the dominion to other animals.
*Human Physiology, pp. 470, 471.
In animal organization we have observed that its departure from the type and characteristics of the vegetable is specially designed to adapt it to the function and nature of animal life. The element of life effecting the organization and the building up of the living plant, could no more be transferred to the animal body and be made to work a like function there, than it could be to the crystal-quartz or any other mineral. In fact, were the transfer made, the very element that built up the plant into a living body would work death in the animal. So in the organization of man. His peculiarities of body are not designed to secure animal superiority, but to adapt the animal organization to the spirit with which it was to be endowed.
If any one shall ask me how a living spirit can dwell in a human body, I will ask him first to solve the problem, How animal life can dwell in the animal body; or how vegetable life is connected with the plant or the tree? When he has solved these two problems, we may be prepared to approach the solution of the higher and more mysterious problem of spiritual life. In the mean time, the fact of man's being endowed with a spirit rests upon the evidence of, and is demonstrated by, the same class of facts that demonstrate life in the vegetable and in the animal.
V. THE MODERN THEORY OF FORCE AS CONSTITUTING THE
The simple position we have taken in regard to the soul is, that it is an independent substance; that it is something different from a general principle of life infused into all matter, as Professor Taylor Lewis seems to imagine was