Images de page

species of shell-fish and common fishes found their nourishment. As the temperature of the globe became lower, species of the oviparous reptiles appear to have been created to inhabit it; and the turtle, crocodile, and various gigantic animals of the Saurian (lizard) kind seem to have haunted the bays and waters of the primitive lands. But in this state of things there appears to have been no order of events similar to the present. Immense volcanic explosions seem to have taken place, accompanied by elevations and depressions of the surface of the globe, producing mountains, and causing new and extensive depositions from the primitive ocean. The remains of living beings, plants, fishes, birds, and oviparous reptiles, are found in the strata of rocks, which are the monuments and evidence of these changes. When these revolutions became less frequent, and the globe still more cooled, and inequalities of temperature were established by means of the mountain chains, more perfect animals became its inhabitants, such as the mammoth, megalonix, megatherium, and gigantic hyena, many of which have become extinct. Five successive races of plants, and four successive races of animals, appear to have been created and swept away by the physical revolutions of the globe, before the system of things became so permanent as to fit the world for man. In none of these formations, whether called secondary, tertiary, or diluvial, have the fossil remains of man, or any of his works, been discovered. At last, man was created, and since that period there has been little alteration in the physical circumstances of the globe."

These are Mr Combe's statements, and not mine; and assuming them to be correct, what is their amount? Not certainly that the physical world "contained the elements of improvement within itself," and that these were "evolved and brought to maturity" by the sole operation

of "time" but, on the contrary, that it required various successive exertions of creative power, before the jarring elements were reduced into order, and matters were brought into the state in which we now see them.

In short, the history of the physical world, previous to the creation of man, presents us, according to Mr Combe's own account, with little else than a succession of creations and revolutions; in other words, so many distinct acts of Almighty power, by which successive alterations were induced upon its original constitution; and how, from a statement like this, Mr Combe can come to the conclusion, that the world" contains within itself the elements of improvement, which time will evolve and bring to maturity," I confess, surpasses my comprehension. To an ordinary understanding it does appear a prodigious non sequitur. The argument, as he states it, just comes to this. The world, as at first framed, contained so little of the elements of improvement within itself, that it required four or five successive exertions of creative power to bring it into a state, fitted for the reception of human inhabitants; therefore, (according to Mr Combe's new principles of analogical reasoning,) "the world contains within itself the elements of improvement, which time will evolve and bring to maturity, it having been constituted on the principle of a progressive system, like the acorn in reference to the oak;" or, it may be stated more shortly thus,―The world originally did not contain within itself the principles of improvement, therefore it does contain within itself the principles of improvement.—Q. E. D.

This is Mr Combe's logic. According to that which I believe to be more current in the world, the conclusion would be the direct contrary. If an analogical argument of this kind is good for any thing, it is good to this extent, that if in one department of the Creator's

works we find a certain principle or method uniformly acted on, we may consider it probable, that the same principle or method will appear in his proceedings in other departments. For example, if it appears, that in the physical world the Creator has not left matters to proceed according to the blind operation of qualities impressed upon it from the beginning, but that he has at certain epochs interfered, and, by successive interpositions of his power, induced certain changes upon his original work, throughout a long series of ages,-if this be true, as Mr Combe's statement indicates, there is reason, from analogy, to conclude that, in the moral world, the interference of the Almighty mind may also be required at certain epochs, in order to produce those changes in the state and character of our race, which are necessary to fulfil his intentions respecting us. I say we may regard this as probable, from analogy. I do not state that it is certain; but only that it would be quite consistent with the usual modes of operation of Deity, as we have seen them exemplified in the physical world, if it were so.

It is extraordinary, that while Mr Combe states the principle of the argument from analogy quite correctly, he should draw a conclusion in perfect opposition to that principle. "The more we discover of creation," he observes," the more conspicuously does uniformity of design appear to pervade its every department. We perceive here the physical world gradually improved and prepared for man." We do find it to have been so improved and prepared, but how? Not by the unassisted evolution of its own elements; not by any principle of improvement inherent within itself: but by successive exertions of the same Almighty power by which it was originally framed. The physical world, according to Mr Combe's account, has been improved and prepared




for man, in the same way as a field is improved and prepared by a skilful husbandman to receive its destined crop; and if we are to reason from analogy, are we to conclude, that, having once introduced man upon the scene, the author of his being has from that moment abandoned all active superintendence of his welfare? Is the moral world of so much less consequence than the physical, as not to deserve, or are its elements so much simpler and more regular in their action as not to require, such superintendence?

This argument from analogy is in every view the most unfortunate that can be conceived, as it leads, not remotely or doubtfully, but by direct and obvious inference, to conclusions the very reverse of those drawn by Mr Combe; and these conclusions are, as might be expected, supported in the fullest manner by the statements of Scripture, and the undoubted facts of history.*

* As in the physical world Mr Combe has stated that four or five successive creations of plants and animals have taken place, in order to render it fit for the habitation of man, so in the moral world there have been already five great periods or epochs, where God expressly interfered, in an extraordinary and miraculous manner, for the purposes of influencing the destinies of the human race.

The first of these occurred at the Fall, when God pronounced the sentence of death upon man, as the punishment of his disobedience; and, at the same time, gave the first promise of a Saviour, who was to restore his fallen nature.

The second occurred at the Flood, when God interfered to destroy the whole inhabitants of the earth, with the exception of the family of Noah and his sons, who were miraculously saved in an ark, and with whom, after the Flood, he made a new covenant.

The third occasion took place at the Call of Abraham, when, the whole race having again fallen into idolatry, God made choice of an individual and family to preserve the knowledge and worship of his


The fourth great epoch occurred when the Israelites were brought out of Egypt, and when the Law was delivered to them by Moses, previous to their settlement in the land of Canaan.

The fifth and last occasion of miraculous interference, and to which

II.-Other Analogies tending to prove the opposite of Mr Combe's doctrine.

But if, in regard to the physical and moral world, considering each as a whole, and looking to the procedure of their Author respecting them throughout a course of ages, there is reason to believe that they have both been constituted in such a manner as to require his occasional interference in the manner described the principle as to each distinct act of creation seems to be the very reverse. From all that can be gathered of the history of the earth and its productions, either from observation of their past and present state, or from the researches of geologists, there appears nothing like progressive creation or evolution of individuals or species in any department of nature. When a new species of plants or animals appears to have been created, it is not derived from an older and more imperfect one, but starts at once into existence, at the Almighty fiat, in all its completeness and perfection. Whatever length of time the species may be continued by ordinary generation, the later offspring of the race acquire no new qualities. Through whatever number of generations, or length of ages, their remains are found accumulated, these remains, in each particular species, are all marked by the same type, the oldest generations being equally

all the rest were preparatory, took place at the advent of our Saviour, and the events consequent thereupon.

I do not insist upon the views now incidentally thrown out, as of any great importance, or as adding any thing to the evidence or credibility of revelation; but since Mr Combe has introduced the argument from analogy, I wish to shew to what issues such an argument may be easily carried; and I am not aware that in doing so I have used it in other than a legitimate way, or have transgressed the bounds of fair analogical reasoning.

« PrécédentContinuer »