Copyright
John Harris.

The pre-Adamite earth: contributions to theological science online

. (page 24 of 32)
Online LibraryJohn HarrisThe pre-Adamite earth: contributions to theological science → online text (page 24 of 32)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


admit that they are the immediate effects of the external mechanical or
chemical impressions ; but we assert that they are the effects of powers
which the external impression, be it mechanical or be it chemical, has
thus solicited to act."

20*



W THE PRE-ADAMITE EARTH.

mal sensation revealed a benevolent Creator, the second mo-
ment revealed a benevolent or ever acting Providence, for that
sensation continued. To suppose that because we see nothing
more than the organic processes, therefore there is nothing
more, is to confound the means of sensational manifestation
with the thing manifested. Laws are not causes. Nor do the
regularity of the laws denote the absence of the Law-giver.
Rather, they demonstrate His presence. Nor does the con-
tinuance of the organic processes render them less dependent
than they were at first — as if they could acquire self-suffi-
ciency by the lapse of time. They are now what they were
when they were called into existence ; the mere means of the
manifestation of an independent and anterior power.

4. And thus we have found that everything traceable to an
ultimate fact, involves a mystery which points us silently but
emphatically to HSm whose Nature it is calculated to illustrate.
That one class of physical phenomena — for example, the in-
organic — is associated with motion only ; that another class
' — the organic — is associated with motion and life ; and that
another class of organized phenomena is associated with mo-
tion, life, and sensation, is, substantially, all that we can learn.
Why motion and matter, life and matter, or sensation and mat-
ter, should thus be found in union, can be explained by no
physical law whatever. Here all the sciences are equally and
utterly at fault. They cannot show that the union is necessa-
ry ; but only that, as far as observation goes, the conjunction
is uniform. They cannot imitate, but only proclaim it. Our
theory affirms that the sufficient reason why activity, life, and
enjoyment exist in creation, is that the same properties exist
in an infinitely higher respect in the Divine Creator ; that one
reason, at least, why He uniformly associates each with a cer-
tain class of phenomena, is that, as the ultimate end of each is
the manifestation of His Nature, such uniformity is essential
in order to our attainment of that end ; and that the mystery
investing the union of each with a certain class of phenomena,
is just that which necessarily attends the arbitrary conjunction
of things essentially different — of Creative mind with created
matter. The mystery would not, could not, be diminished,
were activity, life, and sensation to be associated with any
other class of material phenomena. And this very fact, by
proclaiming the dependence of motion, life, and enjoyment on
the Will of the Creator, promotes the ultimate end of creation
by disclosing the power and wisdom, the goodness and bound-
less resources of His exalted Nature.



SENTIENT EXISTENCE. 235

xvn.

Necessary truth. — The law of ultimate facts conducts us to
the law of necessary truth.

1. We have seen matter take possession of space, and life
take possession of matter ; now, we find sensibility added to
life. And whether we look at the addition as an object or an
event, in its relation to space or to time, we cannot but feel
that the idea of, at least, a conscious Creator is indispensable.
The sentient object contains nothing in itself to account for
anything more than the manifestation of its peculiar endow-
ments ; the endowments themselves authoritatively refer us to
an independent cause ; for to conceive of their absolute self-
origination is impossible.

Or if, tracing back the existence of animal life historically,
we conceive of the first of its kind, we are compelled to pre-
suppose an adequate cause of that life. Nor can we then con-
ceive of that Conscious cause as not existing. We cannot but
conceive of Him as existing prior to all objective revelation,
and independently of it. In the objective world we behold
the manifestation of an attribute, which could not but have
existed subjectively from eternity. This new stage of creation
brings to light another of the necessary perfections of the
Creator.

xvni.

Change. — Once more we are brought to that point in our
subject which leads us to speak of the law of change.

1. And, again, we have to remark that, in addition to the
reason for expecting such a change derivable from the fact
that it is involved in the very nature of a progressive system,
the introduction of animal life brings with it an entirely new
ground for anticipating yet another stage. But the question
with which we have now especially to do, relates to the reason
that made the time of the great change which brought in the
human dispensation, the right time. For even those who, as
we think, erroneously adopt the hypothesis of development by
natural law, must admit that the Lawgiver would prospective-
ly regulate the development of the law, for the same reason
that the law itself was appointed.

2. Admitting, then, that the successive changes of creation
have not hitherto taken place either accidentally or capricious-



236 THE PKE-ADAMITE P:A11TH.

ly, we have to advert to the reason of the next change which
ended the mere animal economy. Now the event has declared
that the new stage was to be distinguished by the creation of
man. The advocates of development by natural law would
infer, therefore, that as soon as ever certain natural conditions
were present, man would emerge into being by an inevitable
necessity ; that the only reason for his appearance would be
the concurrence of certain favorable organic conditions, inde-
pendently of any Divine interposition. Now, while we freely
admit that the time of man's creation presupposes the exis-
tence of innumerable conditions, organic and inorganic, and
shall hereafter have to direct our admiring attention to the in-
conceivable complication of these conditions, we must protest
more earnestly than ever against the attempt to confound crea-
ted conditions with the Creating cause. For aught that geol-
ogy can show to the contrary, man might have appeared at a
much earlier period than he did, had it so pleased his Creator.
The origin of many of the warm-blooded species around him
dates from an earlier period ; and who shall say that the mere
natural conditions which their appearance presupposes were
not adequate for the time of his appearance, if the Deity had
so pleased? Were we confidently to affirm their adequacy,
we should not be so unphilosophical as they are who argue
that because an event cannot take place without certain condi-
tions, therefore it must uniformly and inevitably take place
with them.

3. While it is admitted, then, that, in harmony with the law
of progression, the creation of man could not be expected to
take place prior to the existence of certain natural conditions,
whether or not it might then be expected, would, we believe,
depend on what we have called the law of the end ; or, rather,
on the coincidence of the two laws. We have to ask, then,
whether the ultimate end of the present stage of creation had,
in any sense, been adequately attained? Does the long suc-
cession of animal worlds, including the present, exhibit all the
illustrations of all-sufficient Benevolence, which, under the cir-
cumstances, might have been expected ? Now if we can be
content with answering this question inferentially and approx-
imately — the only kind of answer which, in the present in-
stance, our mental constitution and our data render possible —
we can only return one reply, and that in the affirmative. If
it should appear, for example, not only that the animal econ-
omy is minutely adapted for enjoyment, but that the complica-



SENTIENT EXISTENCE. JW

ted arrangements of the inorganic and vegetable worlds were
prospectively constructed with a view to that enjoyment ; so
that where before we saw only design we now see goodness
also ; if it should appear, further, that animal life has been
successively modified, so as to be kept in harmony with the
altered character of other kingdoms of nature ; that this suc-
cession of changes has been, on the whole, a succession of en-
largements, so that both the domains of animal life, and the
degree of animal enjoyment, have ever been on the increase ;
and that every element, region, and situation, where life can
exist, is crowded with animated beings, as if Goodness rejoiced
to find, in the endless diversity of the physical conditions, scope
for its own endless resources to meet them, and to convert them
into new stores of enjoyment ; what more can be necessary to
evince the all-sufficiency of Creative benevolence ?

4. Now that all these conditions are realized, and realize(f in
a manner the variety and degree of which is inconceivable, is
beyond all question. Animal physiology shows, as we have
seen, that the ways in which the inorganic and vegetable crea-
tions were preconfigured to the requirements of animal life,
are literally innumerable. Complicated though the laws, even
of the first of these, were, to a degree which science probably
will never be able fully to explain ; the addition of the second
complicated them still further ; and, though the complication
was again repeated in the addition of the animal economy, yet
every one of them all then became, for the first time, a channel
of pleasure. As if every element and law of the material uni-
verse had been selected, weighed, measured, and .commingled,
to form a vast apparatus for animal well-being alone, the whole
combined to welcome the new made sentient creation, and to
bathe it in enjoyment. And " the world, once inhabited, has
apparently never, for any ascertainable period, been totally
despoiled of its living wonders. But there have been many
changes in the individual forms ; great alterations in the gen-
eric assemblages ; entire revolutions in the relative number
and development of the several classes. Thus the systems of
life have been varied, from time to time, to suit the altered con-
dition of the planet, but never extinguished." ^ As we ascend
from the first few species of the Snowdon slates, to the hun-
dreds of species in the Silurian formations, and number almost

* Supplementary Note to Prof. Powell's Connection, &c.; by John
Phillips, Esq., p. 309.



JM THE PRE-ADAMITE EARTH.

by thousands in the oolite, and by thousands on thousands as
we pass through the tertiary, till we emerge amidst the hun-
dreds of thousands of now existing species, we are struck not
merely with additions but with changes. Species, genera,
whole groups of animals, come in, and die out ; to be replaced
and followed by others in turn. Four times, at least, do these
changes take place in the course of the tertiary era; and to an
extent which leaves hardly a species of the first period extant
among the species now living. Of testaceous creatures, for
example, the conchologist finds about seven thousand living
species. But of these he finds only one or two among the four
thousand fossil kinds, by the time he has descended to the
chalk formation. General analogies of structure and adapta-
tion remain, but the species are all changed.' Of fishes, the
carboniferous, oolitic, and chalk formations, present respectively
an entire change of genera. Agassiz, who enumerates seven-
teen hundred species of fossil fishes, and about eight thousand
living species, states that, with the solitary exception of a spe-
cies found in the nodules of claystone, on the coast of Green-
land, and which is probably a modern concretion, he has " found
no animal in all the transition, secondary, and tertiary strata,
which is specifically identical with any fish now living." 2 In-
deed, not a single species of fossil fishes has yet been found
that is common to any two great geological formations.^

5. The evidence, however, that animal life, once introduced
on the earth, has been continued through immeasurable periods,
and not only continued, but enlarged, and not only enlarged but
changed again and again for new systems of life — though suf-
ficient of itself to establish the power of the Deity to impart
unlimited sentient enjoyment — we have the means of increas-
ing to any amount. As to the wonderful diversity of animal
sizes, we might begin with Ehrenberg's polishing slate, formed
of infusoria, of which about 41,000 millions are contained in
a cubic inch ; or still lower with the animalcules of the Rasen-
eisen or iron-clod, of which a cubic inch contains about a bil-
lion ; and we might show them ranging through all the inter-
mediate degrees up to the crocodilean Megalosaurus of fifty or
seventy feet in length, or to the Dinotherium giganteum, the
largest of all terrestrial mammalia yet discovered. We might

^ Lyell's Prin., iii. 369—373. Fifth Edit.

* Poissons Fossiles. Tom. i. pt. xxx., T. iii. p. 1 — 52.

3 Dr. Buckland, vol. i. p. 273—277.



SENTIENT EXISTENCE. 289

speak of the vast variety of animal forms ; but, of these, the
mind is apt to fix only on the more strange and striking — the
heavy-armed megatherium, the large-eyed ichthyosaurian, the
colossal lizard iguanodon, the long necked plesiosaurian, and
the still more monstrous bat-winged pterodactyle — and to
overlook the ten thousand ordinary forms of animal life ; while
to think of the internal structures suggested by, and answering
to, all these forms, is to be absolutely overwhelmed. Advert-
ing to the multiplication of life characteristic of some species,
we might point to the remarkable fact that the creatures com-
monly refen-ed to as the smallest in size, should be those which,
by their rapid increase, present themselves in the most amaz-
ing masses. Thus the Monada?, the smallest of infusoria, form,
by accumulation, subterraneous strata many fathoms in thick-
ness. The mountain limestone, about a thousand feet thick,
and often many miles in length and breadth, consists of nothing
else than the remains of coralline and testaceous forms com-
pressed into hard masses. ^ In relation to animal fecundity, it
is enough to refer either to parts of the Greenland seas so
swarming with medusas that, as it has been curiously calcu-
lated, in a cubic mile the number is such that, allowing one
person to count a million in a week, it would have required
eighty thousand persons, from the creation of the world, to
complete the enumeration ; or to the hotter zones of the earth,
where, between the tropics, many thousand square miles of
ocean teem with light-engendering life ; and, of " the wide level
glowing with lustrous sparks, every spark is the vital motion
of an invisible animal world. " Of the universality of animal
life we shall speak again ; for the present it may be sufficient
to state, generally, that, from the floor of the ocean, where its
depths surpass the height of our loftiest mountains, every suc-
cessive stratum of waters is crowded with its own orders of
life ; and that from the sea-shores where the innumerable hosts
of light flashing mammaria " turn each wave into luminous
foam," up through every stage of ground rising to the line of
eternal snow, animal life is adapted to every part, and is dif-
fused over the whole.

6. Here, surely, is evidence more than adequate to attest

^ There is now considerable evidence that the vast deposits spoken of
here and in the preceding page, and supposed by Ehrenberg to consist
of infusorial remains, should be referred to the vegetable kingdom. This
circumstance, however, does not prejudice the train of thought which led
to the reference. Other illustrations of it might be easily summoned.



240 THE PRE-ADAMITE EARTH.

the sufficiency of Divine benevolence for the same kind of
sentient enjoyment to any possible extent. That the display,
boundless as it is to us, is not absolutely infinite, is admitted,
for such a display is an impossibility ; and, if possible, would
be utterly useless to man as a proof of infinite goodness. That
the display, indefinite as it is to us, might be more extended
still, inasmuch as the planet itself might have been more ex-
tended, is admitted, and the same might be said, and would be
true, even though the enlargement should advance for ever.
But the question is, whether the existing display of the Divine
resources is not sufficient to warrant the conviction, that, even
in the event of such enlargement, Creative Benevolence would
be more than adequate to replenish the whole with enjoyment ;
that though the largest material area must be necessarily lim-
ited, the goodness of God could fill the whole, and show itself
unlimited? Now, no one can doubt, judging from the proofs
we possess, the adequacy of the divine resources for an ever
increasing exercise of the same kind of benevolence to any
extension of space or of time. But, if the design of the animal
creation be to illustrate, in the sense explained, the all-suffi-
ciency of the Divine goodness, we must admit, that not till the
evidence of such sufficiency was complete, could the appropri-
ate time for man's creation have arrived.

XIX.

Reason of the Method. — Respecting the reason of the Divine
method in creation, we have again to remark that it is twofold;
relating, partly, to the constitution of the creature hy whom the
method is to he studied, and involving his well-being ; and partly
to his destiny, as a being capable of voluntarily promoting the
great end of creation, and so involving, in addition, the glory of
the Divine Creator.

1. In illustration of the first part, it would be easy to show,
were this the proper place, that there is not one of the laws of
the method to which our attention has been directed, which is
not indispensable. Thus, by placing the animal in universal
relation to the inorganic and vegetable kingdoms, and by ex-
pressing this complicated relation with all the constancy and
regularity of law, the Creator was but saying, in effect, in ref-
erence to man, Let his domestication of animals and their sub-
serviency to him, be possible. And so also in constructing the
animal economy according to a plan, He was, in effect, deter-



SENTIENT EXISTENCE. ^41

termining that comparative anatomy, and animal physiology,
should be possible to man. The training and government of
animals are among man's first lessons on the art of self-gov-
ernment, especially in the pastoral and agricultural states of
society, while their habits and instincts are full of instruction,
and the sights and sounds with which they enliven creation
are perpetually appealing to his emotions.

But, then, if man is to be educated and benefitted by this
stage of the Divine procedure, a medium must be observed
between a disheartening depth and diversity in its laws, on
the one hand ; and a tame, unexciting superficiality and same-
ness, on the other. The efl^ect of the former extreme would
be, that the volume of nature would never be opened ; and the
result of the latter, that it would be shut almost as soon as
opened. Now that such a medium is observed, is evident from
the event. The zoology of nature is, ordinarily, the first book
that engages the attention of childhood, and stimulates its
opening efforts at comparison. It was the book from which
the father of the human race received his " first lessons on
objects." 1 And though from that time to this, man has been
exploring its pages, yet, so far from being exhausted, it never
engaged so much attention as it does at present, nor so filled
the student with the conviction that it is inexhaustible. But
it addresses only the attentive eye and the willing ear. For
the observant and comparing eye of an Aristotle,^ it has still
unnumbered facts awaiting the right arrangement, and laws
admitting of illustration to an indefinite extent. And for the
listening ear, it is ever uttering new ^sopian fables, and each
with a weighty moral ; but only for the listening ear.

2. The second part of the reason is equally self-commend-
ing ; for if animated nature is to be so construed by man as to
subserve the ultimate end of creation, all the laws which we
have pointed out as belonging to the method of the Divine
procedure are, in one respect or another, indispensable. They
have made the manifestation of the Creator possible. We
cannot, indeed, conceive of his operations, except as activity
according to law ; for He is " the God of order." So that in
embodying law, and making it visible, He is saying, in effect.
Let the knowledge of the Lawgiver be possible. In imprint-

* Gen. ii. 19, 20.

^ Conformity of structure is the leading principle of his classification
of animals, in his work, Trepl Zwwy laropiar, as well as of Cuvier in hi«
Le Regne Animal.

21



242^ THE PRE-ADAMITE EARTH.

ing certain signs of dependence on animated nature. He is, in
effect, leading up our minds to His own independence. The
manner in which He has been pleased to add sentient enjoy-
ment to organic life, is studiously adapted to remind us that
the addition was by no means inherently necessary ; but that
everything relating to the mode of its manifestations, to the
extent of the animal kingdom, and to its progressive filling up,
are all referrible to His own purpose. 80 also of the selected
and prepared variety of natural productions which awaited
the coming of man ; " till that variety was occasioned on the
globe, it was not the fitting place for intellectual man that it
now is. For, surely, among other uses and correlations of the
visible creation, this is one — by its inexhaustible diversity,
and ever-growing newness, to interest with a perpetual charm
the growing mind of a rational being, and to lead him to the
cultivation of the divine thing within him, which raises him
above all that his senses make known ; and thus to fit him for
the highest contemplation of which he is capable ; namely, the
relation which he bears to the unseen Author of all this
visible material world."i

3. Here again, however, the means must be measured, and
the evidence balanced between two extremes. The signs of
the Divine presence and agency must be sufficient for convic-
tion, but not for compulsion. Accordingly, every law has its
apparent exception ; and every phenomenon its centre or cir-
cumference of difficulty and mystery. The uniformity of na-
ture holds on its way, leaving man to infer its Divine origin-
ation and superintendence, or, if he will, to '' explode the
hypothesis of a God." The evidences of design are inexhaust-
ible ; but if man chooses to call certain things w^hich his ' know-
ledge but of yesterday' fails at present to explain, defects, no
coercive power restrains him. Proofs of the Divine goodness
are lavished around him ; but if he is pleased to infer that the
conflicting instincts of animals, and animal death, are incom-
patible with goodness, though forming, in fact, a provision for
securing the greatest amount of sentient enjoyment — he is at
responsible liberty to do so. The laws of nature are not
audibly proclaimed from Sinai ; though, to the apprehensive
mind, every object is a table of stone, written over with the
finger of God. Nature is a volume which is " open night and
day," and he that runneth may read. But while to one the

* Professor Phillips.



SENTIENT EXISTENCE. 243

very first page is gloriously inscribed with the great name of
the Author, to another every page is a blank ; for it is written
throughout as with sympathetic ink.

XX.

The vltimate end. — The laws of the method, and the reason
of it, find their end, in relation to the present stage of the
Divine procedure, in contributing to illustrate the all-sufficiency
of the goodness of God,

1. In harmony with the view already propounded, that each
preceding display of the Divine perfection may be expected to
be brought forwards and enlarged in each successive stage of
creation, we have to remark on the continued exercise of the
power of the Deity. During the whole of the period now
under consideration, the forces of inorganic nature continued,
as far as we know, in full activity. The celestial mechanism
was ever in motion. On our own planet, the gradual uprising
of the Carpathians, the Pyrenees, the Alps, and other moun-
tain chains, showed the unspent activity of the subterranean
forces. While the regular reproduction of organic life after
each geological change, and on the return of every season,
went on augmenting the proofs of the all-sufficiency of the
Divine Power. But here were now new displays of the same
energy. It originated and sustained the new principle of ani-



Online LibraryJohn HarrisThe pre-Adamite earth: contributions to theological science → online text (page 24 of 32)