Page images
PDF
EPUB

astronomical hypothesis, we must beg to opposed to this, inasmuch as geologists have differ from this. For the facts of astronomy found no traces of such beings, and the Bible can offer no evidence of any weight on this explicitly calls Adam the first man (1 Cor. point, and the suppositions, therefore, which | xv. 45). the astronomer might be inclined to deduce Our readers need not, however, be astonfrom them, must be very carefully considered ished at these philosophical blunders. No before they are received as true. It is to doubt, Sir D. Brewster has become so accusgeology that we must have resort in the tomed to the technicalities of his science as present case; and here, indeed, we shall find to lose his taste for common sense. We must such facts as entirely counterbalance Sir D. accordingly warn those who may happen to Brewster's assumptions, and furnish us with read any of his works, to expect various strong probabilities against his bold yet un- species of extravagance and absurdity in doubtedly fallacious theory. “ The earth," them. For instance, he tells us, without the says Dr. Whewell,* “was brute and inert, slightest compunction, that the Supreme compared with its present condition; dark Being is not likely to pay particular attenand chaotic, so far as the light of reason tion, or exhibit peculiar love towards us, since and intelligence are concerned, for countless we are so small a part of his creation. Cercenturies before man was created. Why, tainly, if Sir David would practise the printhen, may not other parts of creation be still ciple of this theory in his everyday life, the in this brute, and inert, and chaotic state, most curious and original relations would while the earth is under the influence of a spring up between himself and others. Suphigher exercise of creative power? If the posing, according to this, that the extent of earth was for ages a turbid abyss of lava his care and affection inust be limited by the and of mud, why may not Mars and Saturn extent of a given space, he cannot but enterbe so still? ... We say, therefore, that the tain the warmest sentiments of love towards example of geology refutes the argument a fellow-creature of seven feet high, while drawn from the supposed analogy of one part his child, who is only two feet, must be of the universe with another; and suggests treated like a dog. A thin man must be a strong suspicion that the force of analogy, regarded as a fool when in the presence of a better known, may tend in the opposite direc- more corpulent companion, and a stout Pagan tion."

must be preferred to a slender and emaciated Nothing could be stronger than this-no- Christian! thing more conclusive against the hasty and it may be that Sir D. Brewster revels in such impetuous decree of our great opponent. In ideas as these, on account of their novelty fact, so absurd is the analogy which he has and their consistency with his suppositions; attempted to draw, that on the supposition but if so, he has to resist geology as well of its truth, a position, almost universally as common sense. Geology tells us most confessed to be wrong, must be defended. distinctly that God has bestowed particular We should, if consistent, be compelled to care and attention upon man. He has conbelieve that man existed during all the im- ferred upon him alone, intelligence, moralmense space of time previous to Adam, be- ity, and religion. All ages prior to his creacause, agreeably to the principle of this tion have left no other traces of their existhypothesis, we must suppose, that as the ence except such as prove that they were earth is now inhabited by man, so by analogy | made for man's benefit alone; although cen-, we may conclude it was always so. Indeed, turies passed away when no rational being even at this our opponent does not shrink, like ourselves was formed. If God has been but coolly asks us, what harm there is in thus bountiful to us in time, what philosophy, such a supposition, and enjoins us to find a what science, what testimony, can refute the future habitation, not only for the Adamic statement that he has been so in space ? race of men, but also " for the races which On this point Dr. Whewell has written so preceded him!”f Of course, we need scarcely clearly, that we think it our duty to quote reply, that both science and revelation are from him the foilowing lines:

“ If the earth, as the habitation of man, * “More Worlds than One," p. 199.

is a speck in the midst of an infinity of • Ibid, p. 18.

space, the earth, as the habitation of man, is

[graphic]
[graphic]

also a speck at the end of an infinity of time. mere seat of organization, of however low If we are as nothing in the surrounding uni- and simple a type,-why not by its being verse, we are as nothing in the elapsed eter- the mere seat of attraction ? cohesion ? crysnity, or rather, in the elapsed organic anti talline power? All parts of the universe quity during which the earth has existed, appear pervaded by attraction, by forces of and been the abode of life. If man is but aggregation and atomic relation, by light one small family in the midst of innumer- and heat:—why may not these be sufficient, able possible households, he is also but one in the eyes of the Creator, to prevent the small family, the successor of innumerable space from being 'wasted,' as during a great tribes of animals, not possible only, but actual. part of the earth's past history, and over ..... Even, therefore, if astronomy could vast portions of its mass in its present form, demonstrate all that her most fanciful dis- they are actually held by him to be sufficiples assume, geology would still have a cient, since these powers, or forces, are all complete right to claim an equal hearing— that occupy such portions? This notion, to insist on having her analogies regarded. therefore, of the improbability of there being She would have a riglit to answer the questions in the universe so vast an amount of waste of astronomy, when she asks, How can we be- spaces, or' waste' bodies, as is implied in lieve this? and to have her answer accepted."* the notion that the earth alone is the seat of

What authority, then, has Sir D. Brewster, life, or of intelligence, is confuted by matter or any other person, to say that it is absurd of fact, existing, in respect of vast spaces, to imagine that the entire universe was waste districts, and especially waste times, created for man, when geology tells him to upon our own earth. The avoidance of such the contrary? We maintain with confidence, waste,' according to our notions of waste, that so far from its being unreasonable to is no part of the economy of creation, so far entertain any such opinion, the facts of geo- as we can discern that economy in its most logy, and the analogy of nature, imperatively certain exemplification."* demand our assent to it.

| Further, we are considerably enlightened · Will it then be objected that God wastes by the statement of Sir D. Brewster, when he all the other globes, and renders them use- asserts that, “Wherever there is matter, less, because he thus confers especial bless- there must be life:-life physical, to enjoy ings upon mankind? But surely it does its beauties; life moral, to worship its not become us to pass these strictures upon Maker ; and life intellectual, to proclaim the works of the Almighty, as though we his wisdom and his power.” Agreeably to were criticising a book. They who do so, this, we must believe that during that rank themselves, perhaps unconsciously, with chaotic state of creation intimated in the 1st infidels and blasphemers, and put them- verse of the 1st chapter of Genesis, animals selves upon an equality with their Maker! | must have been in existence, and indeed the For exactly the same waste is exhibited in | moment God commanded the formation of our own world as in the universe.

matter, life also must coincidently have been All its previous ages, its seas, and its | introduced. No one, we believe, maintains continents, have been wasted' upon mere this. If, therefore, mere animal life did not brute life; often, apparently, on the lowest, exist during the vast space between the 1st the least conscious forms of life:— upon and 2nd verses of the 1st chapter of Genesis, sponges, coral, shell-fish. Why, then, should a fortiori, rational life did not exist. The pronot the seas and continents of other planets position, then, that“ wherever there is matbe occupied with life of this order, or with ter there must be life,” is erroneous; neither no life at all? Who shall tell how many is life by any means a "property of matter." ages elapsed before this earth was tenanted Having thus shown that there is no imby life at all? Will the occupation of a spot probability in that view which considers the of land, or a little water, by the life of a rest of the universe, besides our earth, to be sponge, a coral, or an oyster, save it from at present merely subservient to the tembeing wasted'? If a spot of rock or water poral well-being of man, it is natural for us be sufficiently employed by its being the to advance a step further, and inquire what

[merged small][ocr errors]

*“ Essay," pp. 191, 192.

* “ Blackwood's Magazine," Oct. 1854, p. 378.

[ocr errors]

is to be the future use of the stars? The and thus (c), the man that makes the earth conjecture of Sir D. Brewster appears to us a speck in his astronomical scheme, makes exceedingly probable, viz., that they will be the same a mountain in his theological one, the abode of the pious, and form the uovai —characterizes it in the former as insignifi Tollai of our Saviour, and we believe that cant and mean; while in the latter he asit is for that purpose they were principally cribes to it all the glory, and maintains that created. These, however, are but supposi- it is facile princeps ! * tions, in favour of which we can, as yet, But, filled as they are with this theooffer no practical evidence. Our readers may, logical zeal, our opponents forget that they therefore, receive them or not, as they choose have been assuming all this while a most

We have now come to our second division, important point, viz., that the house is already and shall consider the moral arguments finished and ready for occupation that the which appear to us to establish our opinion, planets and stars are now suitable for human and forbid the supposition that there are habitation. We think, however, if every" more worlds than one." Let us bring thing else brought forward in our favour before our minds the past and present his- were shown to be false, this would at once tory of such worlds, granting them to be terminate the triumph of our scientific antainhabited. In the earliest stage of their gonists, and effectually put a stop to their existence, we should see them, like Adam, too hasty exhilaration. For the purpose of pure and holy, yet still liable to sin. After producing this desirable effect, we shall exa few years, we should see them again, the amine into it at as great a length as our

beings indeed, but with characters so remaining space will admit. changed, so sinful, so degraded, that it would Now, for the preservation of life, certain be scarcely possible to recognize them. And conditions are necessary, e. g., air, moisture, here comes the absurdity. For, being in equable temperature, and a certain density this abject and godless condition, they would, of matter. A world wanting in one of these like ourselves, need a Redeemer to extricate conditions is virtually wanting in all: but them from it. Christ must thus have gone the rest of the universe, besides our earth, to all these different and numerous globes does not sa isfy these conditions; therefore, for which our opponents would claim inhabi- it cannot support life, and consequently is tants, offered to each the same salvation as not inhabited. Granting the two premises he did to us, giving them the same revela- of this syllogism, the truth of the conclusion tion, received the same persecution, and must also be acknowledged. The first no endured the same death again and again! one will be bold enough to deny; the second How unreasonable!

we shall now endeavour to prove. It is no objection to say that "the pro- There is, at the very outset, a little point vision made for the redemption of man, by about the thirty planetoids, which we have what took place 1800 years ago, may have no doubt will prove to those of our readers extended its influence to other worlds.” For, who do not agree with us, as pleasant as a independently of the fact that it really con- hedge of thorns to a person who, instead of cedes to us what we wish to establish, viz., leaping over it, falls right into its midst. the peculiar care bestowed by God upon this Our opponents cannot twist their imaginaearth (for otherwise why should God select tion so violently as to suppose that these are our's more than any other for a display of inhabited; and consequently their argument such remarkable love?) this hypothesis is that a planet must be inhabited because it (a) entirely without warrant or countenance is a planet, falls to the ground. If it be in the revelation from which all our know- answered that they are not peopled simply ledge of the scheme of redemption is derived; because they are too small, we reply in the it requires (6) a dozen auxiliary hypotheses words of Dr. Whewell:-* to make it intelligible, for as the advent of “There is, then, a degree of smallness our world was connected with events previous which makes you reject the supposition of to it, so we must suppose it to have hap- inhabitants. But where does that degree of pened in the others, and thus the history of this world would be exactly the history of

* “Dialogue," pp. 62-64. all those, -exbibiting a palpable absurdity;

+ Ibid, p. 28.

« PreviousContinue »