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THE ARCHETYPE AND ITS MODIFICATIONS.
“ Nature ! whence sprang thy glorious frame?
WHATEVER question may be raised about the exact meaning of the abstract terms, Nature and Law, there can be none whatever as to the existence, in all periods, of a unity of plan and purpose.
It has been well observed by Professor Owen that, “of the nature of the creative acts by which the successive races of animals were called into being, we are ignorant. But this we know, that as the evidence of unity of plan testifies to the oneness of the Creator, so the modifications of the plan for different modes of existence, illustrate the beneficence of the Designer.”
In the natural history of the vertebrate animals, there is evidence of a common typical structure. That is to say, we have a skeleton which is, as it were, the model
* Orr's Circle of the Sciences, No. 2,
after which all other skeletons have been formed, some presenting a nearer, and some a more remote resemblance to the perfect type. An original standard with many modifications is the great law of Creation. The human face is a remarkable instance of this. Our limited faculties can hardly comprehend how, in such a narrow compass, such a variety of modifications, such diversity of lines and lineaments could possibly exist. One can hardly realize the fact, that a Cherokee Indian—a Soudan Negro -a native Australian—a Mongol Tartar, and an AngloSaxon are all descended from a common parentage. And yet, when we come to examine things more closely, there is no greater difficulty in believing in the unity of the human race, than in the variations of plants and flowers, propagated from the same seed. We are distinctly told that, “ by the Sons of Noah were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.” It would require a considerable amount of the most unimpeachable testimony to set aside this plain declaration of Scripture. As yet, nothing approaching to reliable evidence has been adduced to negative the Mosaic record. The present manifold variety of the human family appears, at first sight, to present irreconcileable difficulties and confusion ; yet, that confusion is merely the unknown intermixture of laws, and if we were in a position to understand the whole of the case, the problem that all human creatures now living
have descended from a single pair, and from a common type, might not seem so difficult of solution. That the fact is so, we simply believe, not only from the declaration of Scripture, but from the analogy of Nature.
The great Archetype of creative skill on earth isMan. During the long succession of ages that preceded him, all the creatures that existed upon the globe were gradually coming nearer and nearer to the perfect type, which, in the counsels of the Most High, was to wind up the series when man appeared. The four ages of Nature may be classified as follows :
The Reign of Fishes.
The Reign of Man. During the first age Fishes were the masters of creation. Then the air-breathing animals were very few. During the second age Reptiles assume the chief place and authority over the other classes. The air-breathing animals were more numerous. During the third age Terrestrial animals of colossal dimensions abound, and then the Mammals obtain the mastery, and occupy the most prominent position. Finally, comes the chief work of the great Master-Builder, the most perfect of all created beings on this earth—for whom all the others were merely preparing the way-Man! All the creatures
that came before man were so many symbols, as it were, of the future model after which by anticipation they were already formed. Man, in fact, was the consummation of the vertebrate type. “It is evident that there is a manifest progress in the succession of beings on the surface of the earth. This progress consists in an increasing similarity to the living fauna, and among the vertebrata, especially in their increasing resemblance to man. But this connection is not the consequence of a direct lineage between the faunas of different ages. There is nothing like parental descent connecting them. The fishes of the Palæozoic age are in no respect the ancestors of the reptiles of the Secondary age, nor does man descend from the mammals which preceded him in the Tertiary age. The link by which they are connected is of a higher and immaterial nature ; and their connection is to be sought in the view of the Creator Himself, whose aim, in forming the earth, in allowing it to undergo the successive changes which Geology has pointed out, and in creating succesively all the different types of animals which have passed away, was to introduce Man upon its surface.
. Man is the end towards which all the animal creation has tended, from the first appearance of the first Palæozoic fishes."'*
The succession of animals on the surface of the globe,
* Agassiz and Gould's Comparative Anatomy. Sections 689, 690.
and their distribution, opens up to us a most wonderful and magnificent idea of the Great Master-Builder's plan. Thousands of years before that plan was developed, the minutest details of it were foreseen, and, in some instances, announced. He, who alone can see the end from the beginning, and in whose sight a thousand years are as one day, is alone capable of understanding, or, explaining the necessary relation of each part to the whole, and the special ends which they fulfil. For example—the vast stores of coal, granite, marble, salt, iron, silver, and gold, thousands of years ago were laid up in the bowels of the earth, and remained there until the proper moment had arrived for their utilisation. Those inexhaustible provisions for the necessities of man, and for the development of his inventive and intellectual faculties, clearly betoken the providence of God ages before the appearance of the human race upon the earth. The creation of man was not an afterthought. It was one of the facts fixed in the counsels of the Most High, from all eternity. And when the time came round in the revolution of ages, , for the entrance of man upon his pre-destined habitation; he found that everything had been settled for him in advance. No person can look into these arrangements without seeing the clearest indications of design. Well, then, what is true with regard to the wants of man's mere bodily existence, as connected with his very frail and