Creation Versus Development: a Lecture
The Lecturer, who was introduced by the Chairman. E. P. S. Sturt, Esq., P.M., said :—
In thus placing Creation and Development as if in direct opposition, I do not wish to be understood as asserting that they are necessarily antagonistic; for it is quite as possible for the Creator to work by development as it is for Him to work by any other way which may seem fit to His Divine wisdom. But the notion is very generally prevalent that such an opposition does exist; and this seems owing to the fact that some have atheistically argued that if things can be developed one out of another in endless series, there is no need of a personal Creator at all—that the very circumstance of there being an endless chain of causes renders the mere idea of a Great First Cause a contradiction in terms.
The fact, however, really is that the finite mind of man cannot grasp the dimensions of infinity in any one of its phases. In his attempt to do so, he is always reasoning upon analogy and generalisation; and these he borrows from experiences most familiar to him, or from studies to which he has given a more profound attention. A good illustration of this is that very few minds find any difficulty in conceiving the idea of infinite time in advance of them, and yet they find it exceedingly difficult to conceive the idea of infinite time behind them—of time which never had a beginning: the reason being that it comes within their experience to have witnessed things going on without, having ever come to an end, but they never knew of anything which had not page 2 infinity a parte, post, as well as the infinity a parte ante—are equally incomprehensible; the one being only apparently more intelligible from our being able to lean upon an already-gathered experience.
Equally puzzling with infinity of time is infinity of space. Everybody has of course heard of the great statistician Malthas, and knows how urgent he was in restraining the philoprogenitiveness of man, arguing reasonably enough that if a people were to go on doubling every three or four centuries, not only would Great Britain be in time overpeopled, but the world itself, till there were not room enough for anybody to lie down. Now, could anything like this ever happen in the infinity of space? No: at least not in the abstract; because, when all conceivable space had become ever so thickly peopled, there would always be an infinity of space on every side. But then occurs the natural thought that, as there is no reason why one portion of space should be peopled any more than another, the whole of infinite space may be already as thickly peopled as is either comfortable or convenient—aye, though some parts are so distant from us that the news of them, flashing with fifty times the speed of lightning, could never reach us, though it were to travel towards us for ever and for ever. Such distance, even in one direction, is inconceivable; and there are, besides, an infinite number of directions.
The nearest approach, perhaps, which man can make to a notion of infinity is by aid of mathematical calculi; and hence it has happened that great mathematical geniuses, if they have devoted themselves exclusively to such studies, have generally had a strange tendency to atheism: for abstract mathematics give a very one-sided view of infinity. Mathematics have no personality, no volition, no affections, no object in life. So impersonal are they, that it is generally supposed that two and two would still make four, though no four things had ever been created to be counted, and no mind had ever been created to count them. And thus the mathematician's mind, leaning, as all minds do, upon analogy, acquires the habit of regarding the infinite as essentially devoid of personality, and therefore of will. Need I say that this tendency to atheism is greatly increased where men have unhappily blocked out the access of knowledge through other channels, having made shipwreck of all their finer sensibilities by indulgence in gross vice?
Now, If we pass from the abstract mathematician to the observer of concrete nature (and with the latter we have in this lecture more particularly to deal.) we might, at first sight, be disposed to say of him, "Surely this man is not under any danger of being betrayed by association of ideas into the belief that there is no will in the nature of things; when almost every insect he sees goes buzzing about with a will, and the very flea which bites his back gives token of being actuated by a very decided volition."
"———solvit miracula rerum,
Eripuitque Jovi fulmen, vircsque tonantis."
"Science, by solving creation's miracles, robs even Jupiter of his thunderbolt."
The laws impressed upon the natural world are found to be universal and undeviating. All apparent departures are discovered, one after another, to be merely parts of some ulterior law, of some higher and more general principle which embraces all the lower.
"Who frustrateth the prognostics of the impostors;
"Who maketh the diviners mad;
Who reverseth the devices of the sages;
And infatuateth their knowledge."
Taking now for granted that an infinite God is incomprehensible, and that yet it was his wish that his rational creatures should know something of him, what modes must he adopt to effect the communication of this knowledge ? We are cognisant of two. One is, the study of external creation by aid of the faculties with which he has endowed us : the other is direct inspiration on our own minds.
Let us look at each of these in turn.
In dealing with the first, let us begin with the Psalmist's exclamation, "O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! in wisdom hast Thou made them all." But what is the meaning of this word wisdom? Popularly we use the word in various senses: we sometimes mean by it prudence, sometimes intelligence, sometimes profound knowledge. But its proper signification appears to be the employing the best means to attain certain definite ends. It implies that a person has the wish to accomplish some object: and the way he sets about it may be wise, or for want of knowledge and experience it may be very foolish. Now creation, as the display of God's wisdom, is a series of ingenious contrivances for the accomplishment of obvious purposes. By way of being sufficiently precise, I will select one out of 10,000, and, following in the steps of old Paley, take the eye. What a convenient thing it is to be able to see! To know at a glance what is going on at some distant point without being at the trouble of going there, or even if an object be within reach, to be able to know almost everything about it without being under the necessity of feeling it all over. Well, then, the Creator in his goodness wished to give certain of His creatures the faculty of sight: and it is astonish- page 5 ing what a multitude of curious properties in nature are ingeniously made to co-operate in bringing about this beautiful result. There is first the subtle luminiferous ether filling apparently all space, certainly extending to the most distant star. This ether, which is in some sort a solid and may be likened to an exceedingly attenuated jelly, has this property—when agitated by any luminary, whether that luminary be a blazing sun or a farthing rushlight, it conveys the agitation onwards by its successive waves, which follow each other with inconceivable rapidity : and the waves impinging on the eye excite the sensation which we call light.
We may well believe that the [unclear: pulses] a medium so thin would not make themselves perceptible except upon nerves of peculiar sensitivenes; and accordingly we find that a special reticulation of such nerves has been provided and placed at the back of the eye. Here they receive the impression of light, and instantly telegraph the circumstance to the brain. Yet if this were all the provision made, the result would merely be the consciousness of some blazing thing or other in front, without the power of discriminating accurately what is was. But there is another curious property of the waves of light which now comes into operation. It is this—their direction as they pass into a different medium is always slightly changed (refracted as it is called); and, therefore, by catching them on the curved surface of a denser substance, we may make all those portions of the wave which strike such surface converge to any point we please. This is what we do when we manufacture spectacles; and this is what the Great Creator did when he created an eye; and so nicely adjusted is the arrangement, that the foci to which the rays of light converge are upon the retina of the eye, which may be described as living drawing paper. The consequence of all this is not only that we are conscious of the presence of a luminous body, but that a perfect picture of the object is presented to the mind, with all its minuteness of outline, with all its variety of shade and colour, with all its linear and atmospheric perspective, and every little movement it may have. We may well imagine how delicate such an organ must be, and how liable to injury: and very remarkable indeed are the number of provisions made to guard so tender, yet so precious a gem. It is a remark as old as Socrates how that the projecting brow serves as a pent-house to its tenement : and how that the hairs which fringe the ridge of the brow divert the descending stream of perspiration: how that the eyelashes, like a cullender, arrest the access of irritating things which float in the air—flies and straws. And there are other contrivances still more peculiar which Socrates did not note—the iris, in front of the pupil, expanding and contracting with spontaneous precision, and so mitigating without thought or trouble on our part any excessive intensity of light. And there is The lining of black pigment coating all the interior of the eve, and thus suppressing any stray beams of light which would produce false images within the eye. Were it not so, ghosts would flitter there like that which has been for some time past haunting our great Cassegrain telescope at the Observatory, to the sore discomfort of its custodian. But even if after these precautions mischief should happen to the eye it is not necessarily fatal to vision. Should, for example, an accidental prick page 6 of thorn let out all the aqueous humour, the ensuing darkness would last only for a time, for fresh fluid of exactly the same character and consistency would soon be formed again, and the eye see as well as ever. But suppose the eye should be knocked out bodily. Well! has not a second eye been provided against such an unpleasant contingency? But now comes a difficulty:—What is to be done with this supernumerary eye till it is wanted? Some persons never get an eye knocked out; and anyhow it would be very inconvenient always seeing double till that happened. You must all of you have experienced the inconvenience of this double vision, when on becoming much exhausted and sleepy one eye will go wandering away from the other; and the same thing may happen after a little excess of conviviality; and if you try to read under these circumstances, the letters become all confused, in consequence of the two eyes seeing different, letters at the same time. Against this awkward consequence of having two eyes, a provision has been made, viz.:—that both eyes should have the faculty of superimposing the pictures one upon the other, so as to produce only one image on the mind—a very beautiful provision, and yet so recondite that no one seems able exactly to explain it. Equally conclusive with the foregoing as a proof of contrivance is the method devised for using the eye when we have got it,—e. g., we can glance it rapidly from side to side without turning the head. Now, you are aware that all bodily movements are effected by means of muscles. Therefore, there are four such muscles pulling the eye right and left and up and down; but these being all located, for convenience, at the back of the eye, give the organ more or less a pull backwards. In order, therefore, to balance the strain, as well, also, as to add to the ease of movement, two other muscles are added to pull the eye forward, while at the same time they move it obliquely. But it is not easy to fix a muscle in front of the eye. What, then, has been done? For one of them, the lower one. Just room enough was found near the cheek-bone; it is a very short one, and hence called brevissimus. But for the upper one there was no room at all, so it had to be relegated to the back of the eye along with the first four. How, then was it to exert a forward pull if it is situated behind? Simply by having a long thread attached to it (this muscle is, therefore, called longissimus) which passes through a cartilaginous pulley fixed at the upper edge of the bony orbit of the eye, and then pulls forward upon exactly the same principle by which you raise a window-blind upwards, though you pull the cord downwards.
Then again there are contrivances for lubricating all this delicate machinery; and one for frequently washing the transparent window out of which the eye looks; and as for this last work there is a copious supply of water, provision is made for carrying off the superfluity by a conduit pipe which is drilled right through the bone of the nose.
Then again, as the picture of an object formed in the eye falls differently, according as it comes from a near or distant point, and requires a corresponding adjustment of the lens, just as in a telescope we are obliged to shift the position of the glasses a little, so is the same provision made in the eye; and the more especially is this the case in such animals as vultures, which can sec distinctly such incredible page 7 distances; whose eyes are furnished with a ring of imbricated plates with the especial object of readily altering the local distance.
Then again, as light, under the influence of refraction, resolves itself into distinct colours, as we see in the rainbow which property however beautiful in some of its phenomena, interferes greatly with distinct vision, by giving a coloured fringe to every object; this consequence is ingeniously provided against by the eye being made up of layers of different refracting power—a device so practical and artistic that the famous optician, Dollond, borrowed the hint in fabricating his well-known achromatic glasses.
So that although we have selected but a single organ of the body, yet this one presents us with a surprising number of ingenious provisions and contrivances (which we have not by any means exhausted,) and all with a definite and unmistakable object. Some of them, e. g., that of the pulley and that of the conduit pipe are just such as would occur to the mind of an ordinary mechanic. Indeed, so infra dig.—so much beneath the majesty of regal state did this kind of creation appear to the Gnostics of old that they could not bear the notion of such handicraft business, aye, and such dirty business too, (for, confessedly, all animals at times are dirty) being the work of the great and only potentate, who is King of kings and Lord of lords; and, therefore, they imagined a distinct individual whom they called a Demiurgus—a factotum—who had created all things, and whom they aristocratically held in very marked contempt. This, however, is not a question we are now concerned with. Suffice it to quote the words of the prophet Isaiah—"My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor your ways my ways, saith the Lord." But that anyone should fail to see tokens of contrivance throughout the whole domain of nature, and marks of consummate wisdom is one of the greatest of existing marvels. What obstacle stands in the way? We cannot deny that there is such a thing as thought, and the faculty to design and contrive and to provide for future contingencies by the exercise of ingenuity, for we are conscious to ourselves of possessing such faculties. And though, to be sure, we cannot in the least degree explain or comprehend how the subtle adjustment of anything material or immaterial should produce the power to think, yet there is evidence enough that such a power does exist. Why then should we suppose that all power of this order is limited to our single selves? How preposterous, in face of such an enormous amount of cumulative evidence to deny the existence of a personal Designer, whose spirit planned these wondrous scenes in which we live, and by means of which we are enabled to conceive some idea, however inadequate, of his stupendous power and of his admirable wisdom.
How is it, then, we may well ask, that some persons draw from external creation conclusions the very reverse of this?—maintaining that the great balance of evidence lies all the other way—that things have been self-developed, not created?
First, then, let it be broadly stated, that all the more intelligent of those philosophers who have been the strongest advocates for development such as Huxley and Darwin, indignantly repudiate the charge of atheism Whatever exception we may take to any of their views, and however page 8 much we may disapprove of the terms they may have made use of in expressing those views, we are yet bound to believe them when they distinctly avow their belief in a personal Creator. All they affirm is, that matter is endowed with properties which enable it to do a vast number of things of itself, which are often, in popular language, attributed directly to the Creator; and that as long as matter has such properties, the investigation of them is, like any other study of the works of creation, not only the legitimate exercise of our reason, but one of the highest functions of God's rational creatures. It will be worth while, perhaps, briefly to overhaul Huxley's celebrated lecture on that terrible protoplasm which, on its first delivery, frighted such numbers from their propriety. Very natural and justifiable was the professor's delight at this new revelation of science, and very jubilant, the tone in which he sang a bold pæon to its praise. It is quite possible, also, that in the flourish of language he indulged in, he might wickedly intend to scare an old woman or two. After describing this living protoplasmic jelly, as it lay before his astonished sight, vibrating and palpitating in its nettle cradle, and after tracing its appearance in algæ and fungi, he finds it at last constituting the colourless corpuscles in our own blood. We have but to prick our finger (he tells us,) and keep a drop of blood at the temperature of the body, and these corpuscles of protoplasm "will be seen to exhibit a marvellous activity, changing their forms with great rapidity, drawing in and thrusting out prolongations of their substance, and creeping about as if they were independent organisms." But why should the Professor say "as if they were independent organisms?" Surely they are independent organisms. For he goes on to tell us that these corpuscles die. Omnes debemur morti, nos nostraque—that nostraque. is a clever application of the Professor's—and when they are dead, it is found that there is in every corpuscle a nucleus, which in in its lifetime was more or less hidden from view. Now pray, my friends, observe the nucleus; for this it is which gives it its individuality, and constitutes it an independent organism. Professor Huxley formulates the whole discovery thus :—"A nucleated mass of protoplasm turns out to be what may be termed the structural unit of the human body." And again, "Protoplasm, simple or nucleated, is the formal basis of all life."
Now, these formulas at first sight look very precise, as if natures operations in this direction had been fathomed. Whereas, the addition to our knowledge, though interesting, is nothing very great; and the formulæ are anything but precise. For what a very loose expression is this—simple or nucleated. It is just as loose as if I were to say, a hall-penny or a rood of ground is the basis of all real property. In one sense, no doubt, the smallest current coin of the realm is the basis of all property, because such units, if accumulated in sufficient abundance, might amount to a million sterling, with which a large estate might be purchased. Put a rood of ground must have a title; and that title mast originate with organised authority, and involves the whole idea of social rights and constitutional government. When, therefore, Huxley uses such a loose phrase as "simple or nucleated," as if the two things were nearly identical, or belonged to the same category, he has evidently over page 9 looked the immense importance of the nucleus. What a world of power does a nucleus contain! The title-deeds to an estate may be of great import, but the inscription in a nucleus is more potent still. Though written in a character which no man can decypher, it is mightier than the mightiest magician's fabled spell. Presented in the proper quarter, it entitles its unconscious possessor to inherit sundry forms of being, with all their wondrous faculties and unnumbered sources of pleasure.
Let us take an example or two of a nucleus. If an acorn be examined, the great bulk of it is found to be merely nutriment stored up for the nurture of the oak during its helpless infancy. The infant oak itself springs from a minute germ; and if this germ be microscopically inspected, we arrive ultimately at a simple cell, and this cell contains a nucleus or germinal spot. Under certain conditions of warmth and moisture, that nucleus has vital power to germinate, and to become eventually a huge oak.
Now, take a hen's egg, and subject it to the same treatment as the acorn. The great bulk of the egg, as before, is merely pabulum, nutriment for the embryo chicken till it be hatched; and if the microscope be resorted to, it will disclose ultimately no more than was exhibited in the acorn—a simple germinal cell, with a nucleus. The most perspicacious eye, assisted by the highest magnifying power, will discover no more. But similar as these two nucleated cells are to each other, they are endowed with very different powers. One has power to produce an oak; the other a chicken. And it is just the same, mutatis mutandis, with the nucleated pellets of protoplasm which we are at present studying. I am disposed, therefore, to take exception to Professor Huxley's language, when he says, "Thus it becomes clear that all living powers are cognate, and that all living forms are fundamentally of one character." The latter part, that all living forms are fundamentally of one character may readily be granted as the result of observation : if by fundamentally is meant that all are traceable to some sort of protoplasmic monads. But it does not follow inferentially that the powers of these several protoplasmic monads are cognate. Perhaps some one may urge that the word cognate is employed by the Professor in a loose figurative way; but there is a simile in juxtaposition with the passage which shows exceedingly well the confusion of ideas under which the Professor is labouring. He calls this protoplasm, whether simple or nucleated, "the clay of the potter; which, bake it or paint it as he will, remains clay, separated by artifice, not by nature, from the commonest brick or sun-dried clod." Now, I maintain that nucleated protoplasm has no resemblance to clay in the hands of the potter. Simple protoplasm perhaps has; and so has carbonic acid and ammonia a resemblance to bricks and mortar; but nucleated masses of protoplasm are living agents, possessed of great activity and endowed with very wonderful powers. They do not play the part of bricks and mortar, as Snout and Starveling played the part of Wall to Pyramus and Thisbe; but are like intelligent hodmen, carrying materials here and there and depositing them, with unerring precision, wherever, in the amazing economy of living nature, the Great Architect has intended It may be quite true that when these simple hodmen die they are very good eating, page 10 and serve to sustain by their carcases, when properly cooked, other Cognate beings (i.e., cognate as far as their bodily fabrics go); but that would not necessitate these new fabrics being endowed with cognate powers. Let us go back to the egg for an illustration. Suppose I am hungry, and order an egg to be boiled. The albumen coagulates, the yoke thickens, and, in less than five minutes, the egg is done. I eat it and my digestive apparatus assimilates its substance, and the whole, as nearly as possible, goes into my veins. But what of the nucleus, which is the most wonderful part of the whole egg ? My stomach has taken no account of that; it makes no difference to me whether the egg were a hen's or a crocodile's. The nucleus dies, its vitality is destroyed, and, instead of a chicken running about my poultry yard, lo ! (as Professor Huxley would playfully say) this lecture with which I am boring my present audience. If we were to turn out a herd of swine under an oak tree, in autumn, a cognate thing would happen. The pigs would devour the acorns, and appropriate nutritious matter which might have served to mature the parturition of a whole forest of oaks; so that, instead of the oaks, there is an increase of fat upon the pigs. But the nuclei of egg and acorn bad nothing to do with the matter. When I devoured the egg, to me it was simply food; and yet that egg was the sepulchre of a dead nucleus, which, when alive was in itself a world of marvels. It contained potentially a bird, complete in every part, to the extreme tip of its smallest feather. It contained, besides every instinct which the bird was to inherit, its domestic habits, its maternal solicitude, its expressive cluck, and its other six or eight words of most unmistakable meaning. But, by eating the egg, did I inherit any of these instincts? Did I cluck, or take to sitting upon a basket of eggs ? No; all the instincts died in the saucepan before the temperature reached 212°.
The inference I intend to draw from all this is that, identical as may he the material structure of all forms of protoplasm, their powers are neither necessarily nor observably cognate. The nettle protoplasm, like an idle loafer who is a nuisance wherever he comes, seems to have no higher function in life than to sting. The blood corpuscle, on the contrary, when in his proper element is a most useful and active little fellow. True, when you take him out of his element he may, as Professor Huxley describes him, lie helplessly sprawling about, and sending out prolongations, as an irritated Maori protrudes his tongue; but when in the blood it is wonderful how replete he is with instinct, and ever ready to do a useful turn. Should you cut your finger, a whole squadron of these corpuscles will rush like a nest of ants to the wound, and when there, without a moment's loss of time, will run themselves into strings like rouleaux of coin, and so provide a temporary covering for the wound. By the end of the week, if not interfered with, they will have a new piece of skin ready, as good as that which was damaged by the knife. There is no evidence that the nettle protoplasm could do any work of this kind. When, therefore, by the herbalist's prescription, you take a cup of nettle tea, the nettle protoplasm dies, and if it re-appears again in your veins, it will only be as pabulum to feed a totally different race of protoplasmic entities. How, then, does it appear that "all living powers are cognate ?" or how has Professor Huxley demonstrated his three-fold unity, which at page 11 the commencement of his lecture he professed to be going to do—" a unity of power or faculty, a unity of form, and a unity of substantial composition pervading the whole living world." A unity of substantial composition, especially round the more immediate nuclei of life, there, no doubt, is; but to talk of a unity of power or faculty is a wordy straining after generalisation, with little or no meaning. Even Huxley himself calls attention to the fact that the nucleated protoplasms of vegetables and animals have different powers, when he reminds us that the vegetable alone possesses the faculty of manufacturing fresh protoplasm out of lifeless compounds—viz., out of solutions of carbonic acid and ammonia. The animal world cannot do this. Both animals and vegetables require protoplasm for the perfection of their growth and fructification, but the vegetable manufactures it for itself; the animal gets it from the vegetable ready made. But mark this—the animal does not convey into its veins the living protoplasm which was in the vegetable, but only after it has died. True, when the protoplasm is found in the veins of the animal it is alive again and nucleated again, but the law of life written in this new nucleus may be—nay, palpably is,—very different from that in the old nucleus which was once alive in the vegetable.
It may seem strange to talk, as I have done, of corpuscles in the blood having instincts of their own; but the word expresses exactly the idea. For, what is instinct? It is a blind, unreasoning impulse, or desire to do some specific thing. The creature which possesses it did not acquire it by experience, or reason, or the exercise of any energy of its own; but had it from the beginning of its existence. Chickens, which were in the egg-shell only a few hours ago, may be seen any day actively running about, and as the parent hen scratches the ground they pick up with unerring instinct minute grains which serve for their nutriment. Even the human infant, though far more stupid then than the active little chicken, yet has instinct enough to rub its nose about in search of the alimentary fountain which is to maintain its life. When, however, reason, availing itself of past experiences and of its powers of comparison and anticipation, comes to play so important a part in forming the will as it does in man, instinct sinks into comparative subordination. And so it comes to pass that we hold mere animal instinct in deserved contempt, as something servile, and to be controlled by those higher functions of soul and mind with which we are endowed. Would we see instinct in unalloyed operation we must view it in such animals as exercise very little reason, and work nearly always in only one way, albeit with exquisite beauty and exact precision. The silk worm always spins the same sort of cocoon; the titmouse always elaborates the same sort of beautiful nest. Some instincts there are which animate a whole multitude together and impel them to construct a common work. A community of ants, for instance, shall consist of many thousands of individuals, indeed tens of thousands, all working at the same thing, in the same way, and producing a fabric of a specific character, each knowing what all the rest want to do.
Now I mean to assert that the blood corpuscles are living organisms, each endowed with identically the same instinct as its fellow—not as in the case of the ant, mixed up with other instincts and other faculties, page 12 which produce in their combination a certain amount of intelligent will—but with an instinct so blind that the corpuscle is constrained to act within very definite limits, and takes pleasure (if pleasure it is capable of feeling) in doing one or two things only as external circumstances occur to stimulate it to do them. Indeed, it may be observed generally that as we descend the scale of animated being, while reason and thought grow less, instinct increases in strength. It may jar upon the preconceived notions of many a man to be told that he carries about with him, wherever he goes, such a multitude of living things which will do as they like, whether he will or no, and which are such an intimate part of himself; but he will find, upon examination, an abundant corroboration of the fact in other and more accessible portions of his body : for the structure of our animal frame is composite, and consists of really distinct animals, though united at certain points to the common system. Wherever there is a ganglion, or even a plexus of nerves, there is a distinct animal, with a certain amount of independent action. Consider, for example, the arrangement of nerves by which we swallow our food. The muscles (the pharyugeal) so employed we are utterly unable to move by any effort of our own will; all we can do is, by means of the muscles of the tongue and mouth, to bring some morsel into contact with the deglutition, and the deglutition so stimulated, like a distinct animal, swallows the morsel of itself; so, in like manner, the sneezing apparatus is a distinct animal. Such parts of our bodies are, under ordinary circumstances, fast asleep, yet capable at any moment of being roused into wakeful activity. The sternutation may be effectually roused by a pinch of snuff, just as a sleeping lion may be roused up to roar by a sharp prod in the ribs.
To return, then, to the corpuscles of the blood, I say that to all intents and purposes they are distinct animals; they are independent organisms, having bodies of protoplasm and powerful instincts. Whether we like it or not, there they are, ready to help us if we treat them properly; but if we maltreat them by pouring into our blood ingredients which paralyse and emaciate them, then they give us a great deal of trouble, being the great agents in evolving every form of disease. At the same time it is quite possible to pamper and over-feed them, as a plethoric man sometimes finds out to his cost. These microscopic monads in the blood I have likened to hodmen and bricklayers. They are perpetually employed in bringing materials as they are wanted, and laying them with exactness in the right manner at the right place; but this duty they perform at the sacrifice of their own lives, just as the coral builders rear vast reefs of rock by means of their calcareous skeletons. There is not so much difficulty in conceiving of the corpuscles doing this kind of work in an adult animal, because then they have only to deposit their materials at spots requiring them and prepared to receive them. There is greater difficulty in conceiving of them building up the framework of the animal from its earliest embryo. After all, however, I do not see that the difficulty is any greater than in conceiving how a corporation of termites should inherit from their parents the instinct to make a nest always in a particular way—not any nest, it must be remembered, but one of a peculiar construction,—and that, too, of great size and exceedingly complicated. Whether, however, we find the conception easy or page 13 difficult to our minds, we see that the thing is so; and that in animals of the same blood particular instincts are transmitted and as it would appear by the agency of living monads, through that infinitesimally narrow pathway which separates one generation of animals from another.
And now another question arises. Are these nucleated corpuscles constrained by their instinct always to build a living fabric in exactly the same way? No, not exactly. The many curious facts which Darwin adduces, by" showing how, under climatic and other influences, new varieties of plants and animals are ever liable to spring up, go to prove that to these monads has been given a certain latitude of independent action—an independence which they occasionally exercise in a markedly capricious manner. Let a single example suffice. A child was born in Germany with six fingers on each hand. Had the incident terminated here it might have been accounted for by supposing that parts of two animals in the embryo condition had got mixed up together, in the same way as a lamb is born with two heads and six legs. But that this is not the right interpretation in the present case is obvious from the fact that this six-fingered variety of man has a son with six fingers also, and that the tendency to this variety continues through several generations. So that the change which is brought about becomes congenital; and the man of athiestic turn of mind cries out, "See now, you cannot say that this six-fingered man was made in the Divine image. Why then the five-fingered man ? It is clearly all nature's workmanship, and she shows her power and agency by altering that image whenever it suits the blindness of her caprice." The fact, we admit, is no doubt significant. It proves how extensive is the sway of general laws; it proves that Providence does not interpose at every moment to adjust the machinery of this marvellous world when, according to our view of things, it gets a little out of gear.
But, notwithstanding all Darwin's accumulated facts, nothing can be clearer than that this tendency to new varieties is under a very severe control; and with good reason, too; for if animals and vegetables were always wandering away into endless mixtures of species, we see at a glance what a scene of unutterable confusion the physical world would become.
The learned government botanist, Dr. Mueller, has some very pertinent observations on this topic in his preface to the Vegetation of the Chatham Islands. He writes:—"A study of plants growing in localities, where they are exposed to most unusual agencies, yields results of profound significance; and the revelations to be derived from a clear insight into the vegetation of Australia are in many cases as startling as replete with deep instructive meaning. It is there where we may trace plants in strangely altered forms from the glacier regions to forest depressions, in the mild air of which even tropical plants may luxuriate; it is there again where we may witness the effects of the sirocco of a desert country or otherwise alpine or tropical jungle-plants."
But while recognising this wonderful adaptability of the species to singularly different circumstances, Dr. Mueller expresses his conviction that the Supreme Power, to which the universe owes its existence purposely called forth structures of symmetry and perfection specifically page 14 unalterable. "Structures," he says, "in which a transit to other species would destroy the beautiful harmony of their organisation, and would annihilate their power to perform the functions specially allotted to each from the morn of creation to the end of this epoch."
While, therefore, it may be quite true, for ought we know, that in secular periods of unknown duration one species of animals may have been developed by the agency of some general law of creation out of another species, as, for instance, the man out of the monkey; yet we conclude that nothing of that sort has occurred or can occur within the limits of a single epoch. To our view, distinct species must be regarded as distinct acts of creation, as distinguished from generation.
By way of illustration, let us cast our eyes abroad on the expanse of heaven. The telescope will now do for us here what the microscope has been doing for us before, and we shall see in incalculably remote distances nebulæ, which there is reason to believe are solar systems in process of condensation; but as the process will probably occupy some countless billions of years no observed result can ever form part of established human knowledge. When, however, we have recourse to our own planetary system to see what evidence there exists to support such a theory, we discover that such really does exist; for the revolutions and rotations of the planets are such as they might be expected to have if at their successive distances rings of the condensing vapour were thrown off, and then allowed to curl up into rolling balls. But if we ask ourselves why matter should successively curl up at such or such a point, and why the law of gradual condensation should not be permitted to work on uniformly to its legitimate issue, we can assign no efficient cause. All we can discover is that the arresting process must have been attended with some little convulsion, for the orbit of no one planet is circular as it ought to be, its equator and its ecliptic never coincide, and no two move in exactly the same plane. But while the efficient cause, the secondary means by which the result has been brought about are beyond our ken, yet the final cause seems obvious enough; for provision has thus been made by the Great Architect, whose ways are past finding out, to educe order and distinctness from what would otherwise be chaotic.
Well, then, it is much the same with respect to the transmutation of species. What is true of the greatest things in creation is true also of the smallest. When we see the ease with which varieties spring up in plants and animals we might at first sight conclude that this was the great and only law, that any sort of animal might in successive generations be elicited from another, and a flea become the remote ancestor of an elephant. But it is not so. The harmonious demarcations which separate all created things are rigidly maintained. Distinct species stand permanently apart, like the colours in the solar spectrum, or the successive notes of the gamut.
We seem, therefore, in all such cases, to discern two sets of laws in operation. By one set is maintained great permanency and conservation. Whatever movement takes place in any direction seems to be brought about by most minute gradations. Yet, suddenly, in the midst of a this uniformity there breaks in a systematic series of catastrophes which throw things apart—beautifully so—in which state they are destined to page 15 continue till another secular period-mother magnus annus—come round, and a new order, harmoniously connected With what has gone before, commences afresh.
Professor Huxley has a rather humorous illustration of this subject—though, by-the-by, he erroneously calls it an analogy. His illustration is something like this: He introduces a common clock as a mode of uniform action. But the striking of the clock, he says, is essentially a catastrophe. Indeed the hammer, instead of striking one o'clock, might just as easily be made to explode one hundred weight of gunpowder. And so this "terrible catastrophe, irregular and lawless as it apparently would be, might yet depend upon machinery as absolutely uniform as does the motion of the hands. Thus we might have two schools of clock-theorists, one studying the hammer and the other the pendulum, who, though opposed to each other, may yet both be right. Just so is it in the material universe : the great course of nature may run on for untold ages with the regularity of clock-work, and yet all the while be ripening for some pre-ordained catastrophe which from the foundation of the cosmos was, as Plato would phrase it, an idea in the Divine mind.
Thus far, then, the natural world around us has furnished the means whereby the human mind may acquire some knowledge—however imperfect and dim—of the workings of an infinite Creator. We have seen that, if we examine any piece of natural mechanism, we find not only that it has been constructed with an unmistakably manifest design, but that most ingenious and elaborate contrivances have been provided to meet all contingences, and are such as we ourselves, in the exercise of our ingenuity, should devise, if only we could exert the same wonder-working control over the realm of nature. "We have noted, also, that we are conscious ourselves of possessing reason and will, though utterly without the power to understand whence they spring; but the very possession of them enables us to conceive how they might be exercised by a power far greater than ourselves. Further, we have seen that when we carry our researches up to the extreme verge of human penetration, there is no slackening of marvellous agencies; but rather the reverse. As we descend the scale of animal life the exercise of reason may grow feebler, but the powers of instinct grow stronger; and instinct is nothing else than a direct inspiration from the Almighty.
Well, but if this be the case—if instinct is so immediate a gift from God, might we not say that the lower animals are more highly endowed than ourselves? The teachings of the Almighty are surely superior to the feeble efforts of human intellect and ingenuity. This is true; and wherever man endeavours to compete with animal instincts in their special sphere of action, he will find himself surpassed. But man though his animal instincts may be inferior, has not been by any means disregarded by his Maker; and I shall employ the remainder of my lecture in endeavouring to point out his true position in the universe He is a new creation—indeed "creation's heir"—"midway from nothing to infinity."
Professor M'Coy, in a very thoughtful and learned lecture, recently delivered before this Society, pointed out in what way the discoveries of science support the statements of Holy Writ. Creation began with the page 16 call into existence of lifeless atoms of definite size, and shape, and weight; and of these were made not only the earth, but the most distant orbs of heaven. When the almighty fiat went forth—" Let there be light—electric and magnetic forces on a large scale, and chemical affinities on a small, sprang into being. The step to organic life is another creative act: the growth of the simplest plant is something vastly different in kind from the aggregation of the most delicate crystal. When we come to consciousness, we have a new creation again, there being no discernible link between mere organic growth and mental consciousness or any other power of an animal's soul. At this point the learned Professor stopped, his subject closing there. When, however, we go on to man, once more there is a new creation, for man has capacities differing in kind from those of the lower animals. He has powers of imagination, and can abstract his mind altogether from the things of sense, and so realise to himself things past and things to come; he can thus hold converse with the mighty dead, and has irrepressible longings after a happy future. Much more than this—he has capacity to reverence his Maker; he has a moral sense of right and wrong; he has a conscience which feels pain if he thinks he has offended his spiritual Father, and pleasure if he thinks he is forgiven. But although such capacities as these are part of the human soul as created by God, we cannot but acknowledge that many men are nothing more than animals. A mere savage is only a kind of dangerously clever brute. The normal man may have higher capacities than the brute, yet capacity does not imply that a thing is necessarily replenished with what it is capable of containing. A vessel may have capacity to hold a gallon and may yet be empty. Besides which, a faculty may be lost or it may have been defective from birth, just as some men are born blind, though sight is an essential part of man in his normal condition.
What then, let us ask, is the essential difference between savage and civilised man ? In other words, is the most highly cultivated man only a variety of the cannibal, just as many fruits and flowers admit of vast improvement by mere force of circumstances? Or in man's progress to perfection have faculties of a higher order been granted to him over and above what he had before? In resolving this question I shall first invite your attention to the revelations which the sacred page of Scripture makes on this subject.
Twice in the epistles of St. Paul are the constituents of man spoken of as body, soul and spirit: and corresponding with these three terms, we have in Scripture three phrases—the carnal man, the psychical man and the spiritual man. It must be noted, however, that in one translation the word psychical does not occur. Psyche is the Greek for soul; and although we have the word soul, we have no adjective corresponding to it. In this poverty of our language the translators were compelled to have recourse to the word natural, and in one passage to the word sensual, which is simply confounding it with the word carnal. In Scripture, indeed, this confusion does not make any logical difference; for there both the carnal and the psychical man are put in direct contrast with the spiritual man. Put to the subject under discussion the distinction between the two words becomes important, for we want to ascertain page 17 how one passes into the other-whether by development or by a new creation.
A brute animal has a body and some kind of soul. Man—the natural man—has a body and a higher order of soul. But what is the spirit in man ? It is altogether a higher life, and gifted with faculties of a higher order. It is as much the life of the soul, as the soul is the life of the body. Without the soul the body ceases to live: and without the spirit the soul ceases to live. Hence the validity of the Scripture phrase, "the second death." The earliest gifts of the spirit are, like the earliest gifts of the body and of the soul, instinctive. Hunger and thirst are bodily instincts; anger and fear, avarice and ambition, are instincts of the soul; and with these instincts brute animals and man were endowed in various ways and degrees at their several creations. The instincts of the spirit are quite as distinctively marked. We call them gifts or graces of the Holy Spirit. Not more surely do hunger and thirst prove the existence of aliments suited to our bodily sustenance; not more surely do fear and avarice prove the existence of danger, and the necessity of providing against want, than do the earnest longings of the spiritual man to feel clean in the sight of God, and to know more of the deep things of God, prove the reality of the things he longs for. The habit of prayer, or at all events the appetency for it incident to man, is another proof of some essential connection with an unseen world. Prayer is not a mere petition for things of which we stand in need; but, as sings the poet:—
Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
Which trembles in the breast.
To express the act of preferring some special request at the throne of grace there is another word in Scripture, supplication; but prayer is the communion of the soul with God, even when no especial want is felt. Therefore are we bidden to pray always—i. e., at all stated seasons; for prayer is the food of the spirit. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are standing witnesses of the truths of revelation. "The Holy Spirit beareth witness with our spirit." A man with his bodily eye always knows when he sees the light, from the inseparable connection there is between light and his visual organ. In exactly the same way, the spiritual eye recognises spiritual truth. When Simon Peter answered and said", "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God," flesh and blood had not revealed it unto him. And in the same way no man can call Jesus the Christ, except through the instrumentality of spiritual eyesight; otherwise he is blind, knowing nothing.
Here, however, I must pause to put you on your guard against a common source of error. Inspiration is often confounded with revelation; but the two are essentially distinct. Revelation is a special communication from the Holy Spirit, made only to a few chosen individuals; but all believers are, without exception, in their degree inspired. Thus, also, all Scripture is inspired: but it does not all consist of revelation. When the inspired Paul sent for his cloak, which he had left behind at Troas, he was not prompted thereto by the Holy Spirit; and there are many things put down in Scripture of the like order.page 18
One man alone is spoken of in the sacred records, to whom the Spirit was given without measure. But every believer is warranted to expect and to hope that he may be filled with all the fulness of God; and so different is the faculty thus given from any other faculty previously possessed, that the Apostle Paul hesitates not to designate the Christian as a new creation of the Almighty. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature,"—not creature, as we now understand the word, but a fresh product in the work of creation.
Now, had Scripture been an exact science, this would have settled the question at once. But Scripture is not an exact science, and the question remains to be asked—Does the Apostle, when he uses the word creation here, employ it in the way of bold hyperbole, to which figure of speech the oriental mind has always been partial; or does he really mean a literally new creation? In other words—Is the Scripture language on this subject only "after the manner of men,"—a mere accommodation to the weakness of our mental faculties,—or are the terms new birth and new creation bona fide analogies ? I answer that in my own opinion they are real analogies.
For what is a natural analogy? It is a certain correspondence or harmony which prevails throughout all created things, betokening that they come from the same common source—were conceived by the same creative mind. A type, once obtaining in any department of nature, is slowly departed from, and then for assignable reasons. Parallels may be found in widely separated regions of contemplation which reflect a mutual light. This principle of analogy is of immense importance to us. Were not for this great principle our knowledge of anything beyond the reach of our senses would be very limited indeed. We should not be able to classify any of the multitudinous objects in the physical world; but should be constrained to depend upon sheer memory for all we knew. And even then our knowledge would be a shapeless mass of unconnected facts without mutual harmony, nor would they inspire anything of that intense interest which is now lent to them by the wonderful analogies reigning everywhere. The continuity of law prevails throughout all God's works so vigorously, and is so conscientiously carried out—I say conscientiously, for in accommodation to our weakness, God has condescended to be regarded by his creatures as faithful and true, faithful to all his covenants, notwithstanding his irresistible power to act as capriciously as he chooses—that a given type is apparently never arbitrarily departed from; but one phase of creation passes on to another by hardly-perceptible steps of gradation. Indeed, this very uniformity in the laws of creation has proved a stumbling block to some, leading them to fancy that laws so undeviating must be self originating. But the real effect of this fidelity, this absense of all "variableness or shadow of turning, is to enable us with telescopic glance to sec immeasurable distances into past ages, and to form legitimate conjectures respecting tilings unseen.
If then, theology and science dovetail with each other in this remarkable manner, are we not justified in Studying them in combination, and so obtain the broadest possible view of Divine wisdom which the two united are competent to display ? What a vista has not the geologist opened to our wondering gaze through the abyss of his measureless page 19 periods of past time! Turning our eyes in that direction, we see creative power unceasingly at work, while at the same time whole races of animals have been continually passing out of existence. And yet, such is the harmonious linking on of the successive phases of being, that we cannot conceal from ourselves the extreme probability that creation itself was governed by a certain continuity of law, and that each consecutive fiat of the Almighty through vast cycles of ages was the graduated evolution of one stupendous plan, which existed in the Divine mind before the foundation of the Universe. Such exhibitions of Almighty wisdom and power must be numbered with those things which the angels are said to desire to look into. They may contemplate them not in one orb only, but in far other analogues in the great immensity of being. As for ourselves we must be content to catch only faint and uncertain glimpses of such things; but we see enough to convince us that there is no impropriety, no extravagance in speaking of the spiritual man as a new creation. True, his soul closely resembles the soul of the unregenerate man; yet what objection is this? seeing that the body of that same unregenerate man quite as closely resembles the body of the antecedent gorilla. The chain of creation leads up with distinct, though wonderfully intertwisted, links to man, who is at once both carnal and psychical—carnal inasmuch as he is allied on the side of his flesh to the beasts that perish; and psychical, inasmuch as he possesses a soul—a soul capable of vast development, but not of attaining spiritual life. We need no museum of specimens wherein to pursue our study of mankind. Unhappily, examples of the carnal man abound on every side. We may see him daily if we please, sunk in every sense to the level of the beasts that perish. Of the unregenerate psychical man we have a specimen in the highly cultivated unbeliever who, after grasping all human knowledge with the power of his commanding intellect, ends by exclaiming—" There is no God!" The highest type of spiritual man is pourtrayed in Scripture.
Let us now return to St. Paul, and see how the philosophic mind of the apostle deals with the origin of Christianity, He describes the whole world as groaning and travailing in pain (i. e., in birth pangs) up to that period; and not the world only, but even Christians also, who had the first-fruits of the spirit, were nevertheless not yet free from the embryo state of spiritual creation. There was still groaning of the like kind to endure within themselves before the process which the apostle here calls the adoption were complete, and the body redeemed. What we have particularly then to notice is, that with this act of spiritual creation the whole world co-operated, as if it were the matrix out of which the new creation sprung. The unregenerate world it was which felt the birth-pains that, the Church of Christ might be born. I am perfectly aware how hard it is to say in all such Scripture statements how much is due to figurative illustration, and how much to a bona fide analogy; for it is only by distant adumbrations that we could expect to comprehend truths removed so far from the sphere of our present faculties. Still when a figure is employed, it must always contain essential points of resemblance to the things figured, or else it would be only an idle flourish of words.
Assuming, then, that this last order of animated being distinct page 20 creation, I may well employ the brief time which remains at my disposal in discussing its most essential characteristic; and this is its moral responsibility.
After studying the great works of the Almighty and the marvellous power therein displayed, the impression produced upon our minds is that of our own utter impotency to alter or resist any of the simplest of his decrees—an impression so profound that we find it difficult to conceive that we can have any responsibility at all. The Almighty made us what we are, and if we fall short of the standard of perfection we say, "Why then doth he yet find fault ?" If fault there be, it cannot rest with us, but must ultimately pass back to our Creator. Now, without having recourse to reason, instinct would of itself suggest that there must be some error in this conclusion, for we are all morally conscious of responsibility, and sensitively shrink from imputing our sins and shortcomings to our Heavenly Father. When, however, we do apply our powers of reason to resolve the difficulty, we see that we have committed the same mistake by endeavouring to fathom infinity in the moral world, as those of which already in my lecture I have pointed out examples as occurring in the world of physical abstractions. Man cannot grasp infinity in any shape. To our view infinite justice and infinite mercy are incompatible, for God cannot be infinitely just if. He allows one guilty person to escape, nor infinitely merciful if from a single culprit his pardon is withheld. Again, infinite wisdom and infinite power come into collision, for infinite wisdom is concerned in compassing by means of ingenious contrivances objects however difficult of attainment. But infinite power knows nothing of obstacles or impediments, but is exhibited in the instant execution of a purpose. Like a flash of lightning, the wish is no sooner conceived than the act is done. By virtue, however, of certain covenants made with the creatures of his hand, both animate and inanimate, the Sovereign of the Universe has put limits to his own power, so that something of the Great Incomprehensible comes within the limits of our comprehension. The covenant which God has made with the inanimate world is seen in the universal reign of law—a subject which the present Duke of Argyll has handled with such wonderful ability; and thus we comprehend his wisdom notwithstanding his infinite power. In like fashion he has made a covenant with his responsible creatures, the terms of which are perfectly intelligible; and as long as we confine ourselves within the limits of that covenant we meet with no difficulty but the practical one of doing our duty well. The moment, however, we attempt in our speculations to pass beyond the limits of this covenant, exactly the same order of difficulties besets us as in the physical world when, after having groped our way to the borders of our present epoch, we attempted to pass beyond an act of creation into another epoch of its existence. In the covenanted scheme of grace the Almighty has condescended to deal with his creatures as a man—to speak to them as a man speaks, to act as a man acts. In the covenant or bargain he has made with us he has slated the conditions; and while we are fully certain that he for his part will most surely perform the promise he has made, so are we assured that adequate powers are within our reach whereby we can perform our portion of it too. All this is plainly revealed and is page 21 intelligible enough. But when we go further back, and come to consider the first step of a soul's approach to Christ, we become involved in inextricable perplexity. We read that no man can come to Jesus except the Father draw him: but we nowhere read how this is done. How does the Father draw him ? By what mysterious law ? Upon what grand principle of universal government ? How came it to pass that the publican and harlot entered the kingdom of God before the well-instructed scribe and pharisee? Again, how far must the Father draw the soul, before the soul has power to act and choose for itself? Where does free will commence ? Where does the soul's responsibility begin? Why are not all influenced alike ? but some are drawn and others not ? Holy Scripture furnishes no reply. Indeed, the very words of our Great Teacher, that no man can come to him except the Father draw him, prove that the subject is beyond the range of our present faculties. For we see it is the Father's doing; and what the Father does by himself must of necessity be out of the reach of our present faculties. What the Son does, we may understand; for his proceedings come professedly and purposely within the scope of our faculties; and so, again, what the Son with human means reveals of the Father, we may with human powers conceive: but that which the Father hath put in his own power, which he hath reserved entirely to himself, we must not expect to comprehend. Within the limits of the covenant our comprehension corresponds with what we understand of germination in the vegetable world, or of generation in the animal; and the very fact that such figures are repeatedly introduced in Scripture to illustrate the subject, gives reason to believe that such parallels are more than mere illustrations—that, they are positive analogies. But as we cannot in the least understand how the microscopic germ spot in an acorn should contain the future oak, or, in the egg, the future chicken, so neither can we understand how a soul is spiritually born. All such researches go too far back for us; all human knowledge takes its date from a point much nearer to ourselves.
Many have been greatly shocked at the idea of such multitudes of souls going down the broad road to perdition, while but few comparatively enter the narrow gate which leadeth unto life : and certainly, if such souls were to be tortured, as some have imagined, to all eternity, because they were not sufficiently gifted to be good Christians here, or because they never heard the word of salvation preached to them at all, there would indeed be strong ground for impugning the righteousness of God. But this necessary immortality of the soul is not a Christian dogma, but has rather been culled from the school of Plato. Our Teacher's words on the subject are—"Fear not them who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell." Whatever gift of immortality was made to Adam at his creation, on the very day that he transgressed he died—lost not his animal life, but the principle of his spiritual life. We see clearly that his animal life was left to him. Now, as that which is born of the flesh is flesh by an essential law of creation, none of his posterity can have inherited from him any particle whatever of spiritual and immortal life. St. Paul takes this quite for granted (in 1 Cor. xv.,) where he says that page 22 the first man is of the earth earthy, i.e., made of clay; just as was said of him in Genesis—" Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return "—mere dust, with an animated soul breathed in. That St. Paul included this mortal soul in his idea of Adam's body is clear, by his own words; for when he has said there is a natural body and there is a spiritual body; he immediately adds—"and so it is written, the first Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam a quickening spirit." The body of the first Adam, along with its indwelling soul, he speaks of as corruptible, though capable of inheriting in corruption—mortal, though capable, under the influence of the quickening spirit, of putting on immortality. If it were immortal before, how could it put on immortality?
This leads me to notice in the last place the second death—a phrase which as you know occurs in Rev. ii, 11, "He that hath ears, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches. He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death;" and at Chap, xx, "Death and hell shall be cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire"—from which I argue that the lake of fire symbolises the great destroying agent. Death and Hell could be east into it for no other purpose than to be destroyed : and into it will be eventually thrown everything offensive, everything unfit to appear in the glories of that new creation in the dawn of which we now walk.
In taking this view of the destructibility of the human soul (and we may notice, by the way, that St. Paul always uses the word perdition) we by no means encourage the idea of man's irresponsibility. For although there may be but comparatively few who enter in by the straight gate, yet these are they who will eventually stand before the judgment seat of Christ; and it is exceedingly apposite to this topic to notice that in the parable of the marriage-feast, when the master comes in to see the guests, there is one, and only one, who has not on a wedding garment. This man must be the type and representative of a class very different from the vast multitudes who go down the broad way which leadeth to destruction. This unworthy man is actually found among the living at the feast of the blessed; but he represents apparently a very small minority. This is the man punished with many stripes. The majority of the lost, being punished with few stripes, have already disappeared. From all which I am disposed to infer that those who never had a living faith will at their decease pass painlessly, like the brute-beasts, into a painless non-existence; and herein does Scripture confirm what sober reason would suggest. They have enjoyed their fair share of good things in this life, and they lose nothing at their death. Nothing—for they cannot be said to be deprived of what they never had, and which, if offered to them, they would value so little that, like Esau, they would probably sell it for a mess of pottage. But a very painful and heavy sentence overhangs that living soul, which, when the pleasant feast of immortality with its full serenity of joy is just about to begin, will have to be carried to the outer darkness to await along with Others, amid weeping and gnashing of teeth, the final destiny, whatever that may be—the second death.
I will conclude my lecture with citing a very remarkable passage from a heathen writer, one of the most remarkable passages outside the sacred page 23 writings, tallying, as it does, with our Saviour's parable in exhibiting the painfulness of the second death. It occurs in Persius's Satires. Persius is described to us as an ingenuous Roman youth of great refinement who died early, uncontaminated by the deluge of vice amid which he lived. He had joined the straitest sect of the religious opinions of his time—that of the Stoics. Speaking of savage tyrants whose souls had been stimulated to frightful lust, steeped in boiling poison, he prays to the great father of the gods, "Magne paler divum," to punish them with a punishment which he designates as far worse than Phalaris's brazen bull, or Damocles' suspended sword, viz., that they should just catch a glimpse of the loveliness of virtue, and then pine away with unutterable regret that it was lost to them for ever.
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