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moving complaints, likens himself to "a leaf driven to and fro." "As for man," says the Psalmist, "his days are as grass; as a flower of the field so he flourisheth; for the wind passeth over it and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more ;" Psalm ciii. 15, 16. Such are a few of the simple and pathetic allusions of the Hebrew poets to the flower-like frailty of our race; and theirs is the sublime voice of inspiration. Here, while we acknowledge and apply to our hearts the truth of their images, let us profit by the lesson they give us, and derive from the natural objects around us impressive illustrations of our weakness and our doom.

Were it not for our assurance of immortality, the fall of the leaf would suggest to us mournful thoughts indeed. It would disturb all our enjoyments, and feed our despair. Nature teaches us our feebleness and death; but it is Revelation that, while it directs our attention to such lessons as Nature gives, assures us that we shall rise from the grave to a new life, and thenceforth be immortal. The winds of winter ravage the groves, and a feeling of death arises in the mind; but in the unchangeable word of God, we find what robs this feeling of its sting, and fills us with enlivening hope. There we behold Him who is the Resurrection and the Life, of whose rising from the grave— the pledge of our immortality—this and every returning Sabbath is a solemn memorial. There also we learn, that if we receive Him into our hearts, and obey Him in our lives, we may contemplate death, and all the images that shadow forth his power, without shuddering or dismay. O, then, let Nature, in all her moods and seasons, only direct us to this source of all consolation,—this sovereign remedy for all the pains and diseases of the soul. J. D.

THIRTEENTH WEEK-MONDAY.

GENERAL SUMMARY OF THE ARGUMENT.-GOVERNMENT OF THE WORLD BY GENERAL LAWS.

THERE is a characteristic feature in the works of creation, on which the infidel has founded one of his most insidious objections, I mean that which exhibits the world as under the direction of general principles, known in common language by the name of laws. It has been alleged that these laws are no other than certain powers inherent in matter, necessarily existing independent of an Intelligent Agent, and acting as mere mechanical or chemical forces, without design, and without a rational object.

This is the atheistic theory in its extreme form, which, if I have not altogether labored in vain, I need not now employ a single word to refute. But another, and more plausible, theory, is sometimes assumed, which it may not be superfluous to notice. According to it, the world, and all its productions, were originally formed by a Being of infinite power and wisdom; but after the act of creation, every thing was left to be regulated by the forces and qualities then impressed upon it, the Creator retiring, as it were, from an active superintendence of his works, and leaving the machine to govern itself by the wisely balanced laws of its own exquisite mechanism. The Eternal and his universe, are thus placed in the relative position of a watchmaker and his watch, with this difference, that when the machine of the universe was once wound up, it was wound up for ever, and, being an instrument of perpetual motion, will never run down.

In proof of this hypothesis, an appeal is made to the uniformity of nature, and the invariable relation of cause and effect. So entirely, it is said, are the powers of nature unintelligent principles, operating precisely and uniformly according to their own peculiar qualities, in all circumstances, and under every modification, that you can calculate, with unerring certainty, their results; and that

these results will blindly follow, even although they should be productive of the most ruinous consequences, by causing disturbance in the elements, or should give rise to monstrosities in the vegetable or animal world; and hence it is inferred, that whatever power and wisdom have been exerted in the first formation of nature, no such qualities are at present actively employed in its preservation and direction.

Although we admit the fact, we must deny the inference. It is easy to perceive, that the adoption of a rule or mode of operation, not to be deviated from except in extreme cases, is an essential element in any system which Creative Intelligence could employ. It is, indeed, one of the most direct evidences of superlative wisdom. Let any person attempt to conceive a system of Divine government, destitute of a uniform and rigid mode of operation, and founded on expedients and incidental modifications, or even largely admitting them, and he will at once perceive, that such a system, so far from indicating superior wisdom, would only be a proof of defective power, or limited intelligence. That the operations of a being of infinite perfection should be, not only consistent with themselves, but conducted on a uniform and universal system which should admit of no ordinary deviation, is just what might, à priori, be confidently anticipated; and what, as I have elsewhere shown, was absolutely necessary in any plan intended for the direction of rational

*

creatures.

It is hence obvious, that the mere invariableness with which the operations of nature are conducted, forms no argument in favor of the mechanical theory; since, whether the Almighty continues to regulate the affairs of his universe or not, this must constitute an essential character of his works. But this is the only foundation on which the theory is reared; and it, therefore, falls to the ground, along with all the ingenious speculations connected with it.

The truth is, that the skeptics who support this view,

* See Paper in this Volume, 'On the Stability of Nature,' where this argument is discussed.

have strangely bewildered themselves by the use of a mere name. They give the modes which the Creator has adopted in conducting the material world, the deceptive name of " the laws of Nature ;" and then they form to themselves some vague notions of an independent power inherent in these laws. Nothing can be more puerile. Paley sets this matter in its true light in a few words. "A law," says he, "presupposes an agent, for it is only the mode according to which an agent proceeds; it implies a power, for it is the order according to which that power acts. Without this agent, without this power, which are both distinct from itself, the law does nothing, is nothing."

Let us apply this definition to the material universe. Gravitation is a law every where in operation. It is possible to conceive, that, by what is called the inertia of matter, operating along with this law in the act of creation, the universe might have taken its present form; but assuming this to be the mode by which the self-existent Being gave to all the orbs of nature their original motions, it still required a continuance of the gravitating principle to preserve them in their respective spheres. This principle is not like inertia, the prolongation of a motion once impressed by an external cause; it is, on the contrary, a constant effort to overcome a resisting force, and by that effort it balances and modifies the motion. It is obvious, then, that this force was not merely employed at first, but continues still to be employed. What, then, is it a law? This is nothing independent of an agent. An inherent and independent principle of motion? To admit this, is to confound the very definitions of matter and spirit,-of that which is acted on, and of that which acts. Shall we, then, suppose some intermediate agent? Be it so. But there must still be a power beyond this, from which that agent derived its properties. The power, therefore, which ultimately produces the gravitations of all the bodies in the universe, can be no other than the power that created them; and, as this power acts every where, and at every instant, the personal government of the Deity must be perpetual and universal.

The very same mode of reasoning will apply to all the great agencies of the universe,-to corpuscular attraction, for example, to chemical action, to heat, to magnetism, to light. Of the latter principle, a recent author, following the same train of argument, beautifully and impressively says, "What causes light to move athwart the whole universe with a velocity that confounds the imagination, eternally traversing those illimitable regions, where myriads of orbs are incessantly circulating under the same guiding power, traversing for ever the abyss of vacancy, -no, not of vacancy, but that incomprehensible vast, where floods of light,-millions of lights,- -are ever executing the Deity's commands, ever in motion, and ever performing myriads on myriads of the most incomprehensible motions? Light does not move itself. Who moves it if He does not ? And when and where, then, are not His interposition, His government, His providence ? "*

But it is not merely to the more grand and universal principles of nature that this argument is applicable. It is equally true when employed to show the Divine interference in the more limited operations which have formed the chief subject of our contemplation, as connected with the productions of the vegetable and animal creation, and with the moral government of our globe. Life in all its varied forms, the instincts connected with its preservation and reproduction, the adaptations by which it is fitted to exist on the surface of the earth, in the sea, and in the air, these are all indications, not merely of creating but of preserving and governing power. The history of the human race, in particular, with all the varied machinery by which they are prompted, stimulated, and educated, by which comfort and enjoyment are bestowed, by which discipline is exercised, by which the moral and physical powers, in short, are brought into action and improved, are no less unequivocal evidences that a pervading Providence, at once general and particular, at once vast and minute, full of wisdom, of goodness, and of paternal care, is continually beholding, regulating, and overruling the affairs of men.

*Macculloch on the Attributes of God.

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