Imágenes de páginas


unlike, but antagonistic. Who yokes them together and makes them draw in harmony? Do these forces rest upon their arms, declare an armistice, agree upon terms of peace, and then peacefully work together, "rising in perfect gradation from the lowest forms of matter through all the regions of organic life to the highest development of mind itself?” We confess ourselves unable to see the universe" simple," or "more harmonious," or "more beautiful," when seen through the optics of this new philosophy. Having tasted of this new wine, we cheerfully go back to the old and believe it better.

Morell seems to have drawn upon the old atomic theory of Democritus, as taught by Leibnitz, for his philosophy. According to this theory, as developed by Dr. Samuel Brown, the substratum of material phenomena, that is, the primary atoms are merely centers of force, “mathematical points encircled with powers of repulsion and attraction;" and that, from the endless variety of combinations of repulsive and attractive forces, the whole material universe is constructed. This theory resolves soul as well as body into mere phenomena—an aggregate of mathematical points encircled with powers of attraction and repulsion. The cancellation of these “forces” would annihilate nature. “Instantaneously,” says Cronhelm, “without an audible crash, without a visible wreck, the glorious fabric of the earth and the heavens would disappear from existence.”


Thus far we have gained important points.

1. We have been led to the true idea of organization. Its mysterious element is LIFE. We may not comprehend life; its hidden nature may elude all our researches; but of its being, in the plant and in the animal, we have the fullest demonstration. How it exists or how it coheres with the material body are unsolved problems. But this mystery unknown can not weigh against the facts known. Organization is the formation of a living body. Inorganic matter is the material out of which it is built up, and LIFE is the artificer.

2. We have been led also to a just discrimination between animal and vegetable life. We have found that the plant is not only destitute of the organs of sight, hearing, and the other senses; also that it is destitute of the nervous matter which constitutes the sensorial structure of animals, and, consequently, there can be no nervous sensibility in the plant. And then, still further, that there are, in other respects, positive dissimilarities and antagonisms that widely separate the vegetable from the animal creation. We have been thus led to conclude that there is a generic difference between the life of the plant and the life of the animal. Organism, we have seen, is the product, not of matter, but of life. The character of the organism, too, is determined, not by the character of the inorganic materials out of which it is constructed, but by the specific nature of the life which was the artificer. If, then, organisms, so widely different, are wrought out from the same elementary materials, the life effecting the organism must be substantially different. If we bring nitrogen into union with oxygen, the result is air, and if we bring hydrogen into union with it, the result is water. The reaching of these different results from the same element shows that the agencies brought to bear upon it were themselves different. So when we see vegetable life on the vegetable germ, and the animal ovum working upon the same material, and yet invariably bringing forth results so widely different, the conclusion is inevitable that the life of the plant is widely different from that of the animal.

* Air is composed of 22.2 parts oxygen and 77.7 nitrogen ; water 88.9 parts oxygen and 11.1 nitrogen.

3. The fact that animal and vegetable life are so dissimilar in their character affords a reasonable presumption that the living soul" in man differs widely from either. What animal or vegetable life may be, how closely it may be allied to material substance, or how far removed from it, it may not be necessary for us to inquire now. The point insisted upon is simply that God has created different kinds of life. The gradations, not of development or of organism, but of life, so created, rising from the vegetable to the animal, finally culminate in man, who has been endowed with a living soul.

4. This suggests, finally, the possible relations man may sustain to the unknown and the infinite. To the animal is awarded a higher life, a broader range, and more extended relations to the created universe than to the plant. But still higher in the scale is man. Through his material nature he is allied to all material existences, but through his spiritual he is allied to all spiritual intelligences in the universe of God. This spiritual life within us relates us to the infinite, and lifts us into communion with it. But for that we could no more apprehend spiritual existence or the Divine Being than the blind man can apprehend the beauties of color in nature. This spiritual nature, then, unfolds an infinitude of relations. Does it not, at the same time, give us intimations of a destiny whose breadth and duration surpass all the bounds of our present comprehension?

“The chain of being is complete in me,

In me is matter's last gradation lost,
And the next step is spirit-Deity!
I can command the lightning, and am dust!
A monarch and a slave! a worm, a god !"



“There is a spirit in man.' JOB xxxii, 8. And man became a living soul.” GEN. ii, 7. "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul.” Matt.

X, 28.

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." Eccl. xii, 17.

EVERY instinct of our nature, no less than the calm exercise of reason, coincides with the Scripture declaration that “there is a spirit in man.” Yet men have not been wanting, who have sought to prove that themselves and all their race are only a higher order of brutes; that, in fact, man is simply a developed ape. They have used the spirit, the noble and godlike intellect bestowed upon them, in wicked effort to prove that no such thing as soul or spirit exists.

The doctrine of this class of philosophers is, that the human soul, instead of being a substance in itself, instead of possessing an existence distinct from that of the body, is a mere result of the peculiar bodily organization. In other words, that it is a function of matter. Their theory is, that “the bones, muscles, bloodvessels, blood, nerves, and brain, constitute a thinking and feeling machine, working on chemical and mechanical principles.” Such a machine as here described, when four-footed, is a brute; when a biped, with wings and feathers, a fowl; and when a biped, without wings and feathers, a man! Marvelous discovery! If this is modern science, what is human folly?

It may be stated, as a general fact, that there are but two opinions in relation to the nature of the human soul. Between these two there are no grounds upon which to erect any other. And into one or the other of these opinions, all theories, in the last analysis, resolve themselves. The first—that which we have endeavored to establish-is that the soul is an independent spiritual existence; the other, that it is a function of matter. This latter is the essential doctrine of materialists, whatever may be the form in which they express it.



To set at rest the possible charge that we have misrepresented them, we propose to let these materialists speak for themselves: D’Holbach says, “If we are asked, what is man? we reply, that he is a material being, organized, or framed, so as to feel, to think, and to be affected in certain ways peculiar to himself, according to his organization."* M. Comte affirms, that "all natural phenomena are the necessary results either of the laws of extension or of the laws of motion.”ıf M. Crouse is quite clear that “intelligence

is a property or effect of matter," and ventures on the very singular declaration, that “body and spirit together constitute matter.” I So, also, the English materialists affirm that "instinct, passion, thought, are effects of organized substances.” Or, still more explicitly, "Mind is the consequence or product of the material man; it is not a thing having a seat or home in the brain, but it is the manifestation or expression of the brain in action, as heat and light are of fire, and fragrance of the flower." ||

* System of Nature. + Course. 1 Des Principles, pp. 84, 86. I“ Letters on the Laws of Man's Nature and Development."

« AnteriorContinuar »