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the opposite affirmations? At all events, admitting that the world was in the deepest moral darkness, unvisited by any spiritual light, before the coming of Christ, I still prefer to regard Christianity not as in any sense interrupting the order of nature, but as harmonizing with it, in all respects, in the letter as well as in the spirit.

4. But these are subordinate considerations. The chief objection to the reasoning upon which I presume to remark is, that it is based upon the merest assumption. It takes for granted, that the whole order of nature is known to us, that the limits of our knowledge are commensurate with all the laws and modes of existence. Because, if it is not so, if our knowledge is not thus complete, how can we presume so much as to speak even of a violation of, or a departure from, the order of nature? The truth is, and it would seem only necessary to hint at it, to bring it to mind with overpowering force, our knowledge, so far from possessing anything like completeness, is most imperfect. We stand but on the borders of the tremendous abyss of being;-we have caught but a distant glimpse of its great Author. "How faint the whisper we have heard of him!"* We see but a portion of nature, and that portion how superficially! We need not mourn over our ignorance, for the acknowledgment of it is the beginning of all sound wisdom. If we were only sensible of our ignorance, how should we be saved from that presumption which is the parent of countless errors !+

* Job xxvi. 14. Noyes's translation.

+ The following passage, in which Bishop Butler furnishes a gene


With our very limited knowledge of nature, how, I ask again, shall we pronounce an alleged fact a viola



ral answer to objections against the goodness and wisdom of God's moral government, by reminding men of their ignorance, must have equal force in checking the haste with which we pronounce upon departures from the order or scheme of things. "In this great scheme of the natural world, individuals have various peculiar relations to other individuals of their own species. And whole species are, we find, variously related to other species upon this earth. Nor do we know how much farther these kinds of relations may extend. And, as there is not any action or natural event, which we are acquainted with, so single and unconnected as not to have a respect to some other actions and events, so possibly each of them, when it has not an immediate, may yet have a remote natural relation to other actions and events, much beyond the compass of this present world. As it is obvious that all events have future unknown consequences, so if we trace any as far as we can go, into what is connected with it, we shall find that if such event were not connected with somewhat farther in nature unknown to us, somewhat both past and present, such event could not possibly have been at all. Nor can we give the whole account of any one thing whatever, of all its causes, ends, and necessary adjuncts; those adjuncts, I mean, without which it could not have been. By this most astonishing connexion, these reciprocal correspondencies and mutual relations, everything which we see in the course of nature is actually brought about. And things, seemingly the most insignificant imaginable, are perpetually observed to be necessary conditions to other things of the greatest importance; so that any one thing whatever may, for aught we know to the contrary, be a necessary condition to any other. The natural world, then, and natural government of it, being such an incomprehensible scheme, so incomprehensible that a man must really, in the literal sense, know nothing at all, who is not sensible of his ignorance in it, this immediately suggests, and strongly shows the credibility that the moral government of it may be so too. Indeed, the natural and moral constitution and government of the world are so connected, as to make up together but one scheme; and it is highly probable that the first is formed and carried on merely in subserviency to the latter, as the vegetable world is for the animal, and organized bodies for minds."-Butler's Analogy, Part I. Chap. VII.

tion of its order? Is it because it is referable to no cause but a moral and intelligent Being, a superphysical Agency, a Supreme Will? But to what else, pray, is any event, however common, to be ascribed, but an invisible, supernatural Power? We are accustomed, it is true, to ascribe power to physical causes; and because one phenomenon is always preceded by another of a certain description, to refer the former to the latter, as to its efficient cause. The sun shines, the rain descends, and the grass grows; and we conclude that the sun and the rain possess in themselves the power to cause the grass to grow. But there is no reason for this conclusion, except the familiarity of this sequence, which is no reason at all. For aught we perceive, the shining of the sun and the falling of the rain might have been followed by directly opposite consequences. All that we perceive, and all that we can affirm, so far as our perceptions go, is, that one event is invariably followed by another of a certain description. It is now conceded by eminent philosophical writers, that in what are commonly termed physical causes we perceive no inherent power to produce the effects by which they are followed. Hence has arisen the adoption of the terms antecedent and consequent, as more strictly philosophical than cause and effect, as applicable to physical phenomena. "The material world is often conceived of as a vast machine, constructed by the Deity with certain powers, and obeying certain laws by which he at the beginning directed its operations; but left by him, as it were, after its creation to produce such effects as would follow from the natural operation of those powers and

137 laws. But of matter we know nothing, except as a collection of certain powers, existing without us, in a certain part of space. I perceive what is called a portion of matter; that is, my senses are affected by a power, which produces a perception of colour, another power, co-existent with the former, which produces the perception of a certain form, another, which gives the perception of resistance, and so on. This is the whole. I have evidence for nothing but the existence of such powers. I receive fully the testimony of my senses as far as it goes; and they give testimony to nothing more than the existence of certain powers without them, capable of affecting them in certain ways. To these powers, coexisting as they do, together, I give the name of matter. But why should we not refer the powers themselves immediately to the Deity, rather than to some unknown being or substance, denoted by this name, matter, of which it is wholly impossible to form a conception; our conception being solely of the powers themselves, or, as they are commonly called, attributes. If we do thus refer them to the Deity, we shall regard matter and its phenomena, as nothing but a manifestation of his power in various modes and acts.

99 *

"The falseness of the analogy," says Dugald Stewart, alluding to the opinion of those who conceive that the universe is a machine formed and put in motion by the Deity, "appears from this, that the moving force in every machine is some natural power, such as gravity and elasticity; and, therefore, the very idea of mechanism presupposes the existence of those active

* Christian Disciple. New Series. Art. Prayer, vol. 3, p. 405.



powers of which it is the professed object of a mechanical theory of the universe to give an explanation. (Active and Moral Powers, vol. 1. Note D.) How long oftentimes is the interval between the rejection of an error and the full admission of the opposite truth! We reject the mechanical theory of the unibut how does it continue to vitiate our reasonings and deaden our sensibilities! The universe is not a machine, many are ready to admit, but then they turn away, as if this were the end, when it is but the beginning of the whole matter. If the creation is not a machine, what then is it? What do we see, when we look upon the objects and changes around us? 'Nothing,' so the reply is commonly expressed, 'nothing but Mind—nothing but the Agency of God!' Nothing but the agency of God! In the name of Heaven, what would we have more to stir up the deepest springs of curiosity, wonder, and awe, and make us feel that a new world of thought is opened before us! It must put all things in new lights. The familiar must become novel, the novel, familiar. Natural facts become supernatural, and miracles become natural, when all are regarded as manifestations of an Invisible Mind, an Infinite Will.*

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*"To find no contradiction in the union of old and new, to contemplate the Ancient of Days with feelings as fresh as if they then sprung forth at his own fiat, this characterises the minds that feel the riddle of the world, and may help to unravel it. To carry on the feelings of childhood into the powers of manhood, to combine the child's sense of wonder and novelty, with the appearances which every day, for perhaps forty years, had rendered familiar,

With Sun, and Moon, and Stars, throughout the year,
And Man and Woman-

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