Conceive a piston in a closed cylinder kept in the centre by an equal volume of air on each side. Theoretically this would be explained by the constant and equal impact of air molecules on either side. Take out some of the air on one side, and the same impact of molecules on the other side produces an upward motion. The impact that before displayed itself in heat now produces motion; and the amount of heat lost accounts for the work. Here, then, we have potential energy, actual energy and movement, all the result of molecular motion.* As to gravitation, it is not of the same class of phenomena as light or electricity, although interchangeable with them. It arises not from the motions of matter within, but from motion beyond them. Challis and Maxwell have shown mathematically that ethereal pressures and waves will explain every phenomenon of gravity. To suppose it a property of matter is without warrant in fact. A property can neither change nor be lost. A particle of gold would be the same, though it experienced incalculable vicissitudes, and traversed the entire creation; but a body weighing five hundred pounds on the earth, if carried to the distance of the moon, would weigh but two and a half ounces, and at a calculable distance beyond it would be without weight : thus destroying the rootthought of the word property.

But our space is failing us, and important questions still invite our scrutiny. Biologists have been fascinated with the discovery of physicists; and they argue, if heat be a "mode of motion," why should not thought be also ? It is the old principle, unify phenomena at all costs. In a chapter on “ Life, Protoplasm, and Vital Force,” Mr. Leifchild treats this question with excellent grasp and great candour. The Chemico-Physical theory of vitality we do not hesitate to say is one of the most vicious blunders that ever distorted scientific thought. With what we know of the chemistry and physics of the laboratory, to predicate the building up of à living, conscious, volitional, thinking organism, is equal to predicating music from the laws of gravity. Take one of the most constant attributes of life, irritability-stimulus, and let either chemistry or physics, or both, explain it. A mere mechanical irritant of almost imperceptible magnitude falls into the eye, or attaches itself to the mucous surface of a bronchial tube, or finds its way to the tissues of the brain. Its weight is nothing; no chemical change ensues in it; yet it may excite such inflammatory action as to cause the death

* Vide J. Drysdale's Life and the Equivalence of Force.

[blocks in formation]

of the part, or even of the whole body. What force has been given equalling such an effect? When an imperceptible drop of Tsetse poison strikes down the strongest animal to death, what chemical change can be shown that in the most shadowy way resembles it ?

When an organism does work, it is amenable so far to the laws of correlation-so much work, so much expenditure-it is a mechanical act subject to physical law. But this does not explain the organism itself. You may correlate the heat expended in lifting a hundred-weight a foot ; but what of the consciousness that realised the fact, and the volition that decided to do it? Prove that so much chemical affinity may be changed into so much consciousness, or so much thought, and the case will wear another aspect. To believe it at present involves immeasurably more credulity than to believe in Nature's horror of a vacuum. Indeed, if every claim of Materialistic Biology were made out, it could only prove that life was a property of organisation with which under unknown conditions-conditions wholly outside the reach of the known forces—the Creator has endowed it. Life could never have come from what was not life. Organisation endowed with such a property must have been created ; and no matter can ever live but what is transmitted from, or transmuted by this. With the existence of a soul in man, we are not bound to a “vital principle" to explain the phenomena of simple vitality, although it is incomparably the more philosophical. Property is inalienable. We can only know things by their properties. The living organism possesses these, and they are such as to distinguish it from all else. In the same organism dead, every trace of these properties is gone. It follows, therefore, that none of the socalled proximate principles found in the organism when dead existed in it when living; but that in their place there is a peculiar combination isometric with the sum of these ; and that the resolution of this into the “proximate principles " is the act of death. You cannot analyse life; the very act of analysis resolves it into death. It eludes the most subtile processes; and, because we cannot find it, to say that it is simply a series of molecular changes in the elements we find in death, is to step outside the pale of Philosophy.

That life differs wholly from any possible effect of physical force finds a beautiful phenomenal confirmation in the labours of Dr. Beale, whose work is evidently appreciated by Mr. Leifchild. As a microscopist he is second to none in the world, and he has made the study of vital phenomena the special duty of his life. He distinctly affirms that matter living and matter dead are always and wholly dissimilar. He says, and by his preparations proves, “that between the living state of matter and its non-living state there is an absolute and irreconcilable difference; that so far from our being able to demonstrate that the non-living passes by gradations into... the living, the transition is sudden and abrupt; ... that while in all living things chemical and physical action occur, there are other actions, as essential as they are peculiar to life, which ... are opposed to and are capable of overcoming physical and chemical attractions."* Then to suppose lifeto say nothing of consciousness and thought-a correlate of physical force, cannot be more than equalled by some of the most ignorant blunders of the Middle Ages. All the materialist could make it, if all his premises were granted, we repeat, would be a distinctive property of matter. But matter never so marvellously endowed could not produce consciousness, thought, volition. The very endeavour to think that it can, forces us, with Professor Huxley, into pure idealism. There is no stronger evidence of the unthinkableness of the attributes of mind flowing from the qualities of matter than Huxley's retreat into the negation of matter when to his own satisfaction he had but just slain the last argument that would render the existence of anything but matter possible.f Mind is an entity wholly unlike matter-and life is wholly separate from physical force. If it be urged that such reasoning involves a certain degree of mind in brutes, and consequent immortality, we reply, be it so. There can be no proof on either side. The problem is beyond us; but our own immortality is irrefragable.

The same reasoning makes the assumption of a physical basis of life impossible. The glairy compound everywhere associated with life is no explanation of the life it phenomenalises. The chemist analyses what ?- not the life in the plasm, but the plasm when the life has left it, and life defies him as triumphantly as before. To have found that life everywhere inheres in a proteine compound, which on analysis after death yields certain elements, is not to have found life. And to talk of dead protoplasm is equal to saying that twice seven are ten !

The fallacies of spontaneous generation are equally patent. We write after years of careful investigation ; decomposing matter is never recomposed into organic forms. The last Faith versus Imagination.

* Medical Times and Gazette, Nov. 7th, 1868, p. 523. + Lay Sermon, 374.


struggle of Dr. Bastian to prove it, is a transparent failure.* It tells us more of the development of lowly forms, but it does not prove their invital origin. The remaining chapters of this valuable book are chiefly constructive, and abound with most pregnant contemplations. They consider man as an intellectual being, with a momentous past, and a glorious future. The philosophy of death, the question of resurrection, the certainty of immortality, the future continuity of our knowledge of God in His works, and the consequent heaven of mind, are all considered with the reverence of a Christian and the calmness of a man of science. The author seizes with exquisite aptitude the latest discoveries and hypotheses of science, and by analogical reasoning marshals them in support and elucidation of the highest claims of religious thought. Rising from a contemplation of the most brilliant speculations of modern science, we see that they point with a skeletal grimness, grimmer than death, and more terrible than the grave, to a Universe without God, and humanity without a soul. But, closing Mr. Leifchild's book, we rejoice to have seen everything that science can claim as fact ranging itself on the side of our nature, and marked by kinship with revelation. It is a false philosophy which constructs a science of Nature, and ignores a science of man. He is part of Nature: but he is immeasurably above it. But there can be no science of man which does not include faith as a normal element of his being; for it is only reason in its loftiest attitude. We can never believe until we know why we believe, and to do this is to reason. Faith carries us across the flood, to the edge of which reason has brought it, and is compelled to leave it; and unless faith bear us over by its naked strength, the infinite mystery beyond becomes a Tantalus-like nightmare to mind. Professor Tyndall seeks to evade this by making “imagination” take its place. But it is a fallacy; at once a scandal to science, and a disparagement of the normal attributes of man. Revelation lays no interdict upon research ; it deliberately passes phenomena over to reason : but it authoritatively declares to faith that which no searching can discover.

* Proc. Royal Society, March 21st, 1872.


Art. IV.-1. Encyclopædia of American Literature, embracing

Personal and Critical Notices of Authors, and Selections from their Writings, dc. By EVERT A. DUYCKINCK and

GEO. L. DUYCKINCK. Two Vols. New York. 2. Memoir of Rev. Michael Wigglesworth, Author of the

Day of Doom." By John WARD DEAN. Second

Edition. Albany, N. Y. : Joel Munsel. 1871. It was on the 20th of September, 1620, that the Mayflower, with a hundred and two souls on board, left Plymouth harbour, to carry into a land as yet but lightly touched by the hand of civilisation, a stock of moral and mental energy such as not often in the world's history has been collected on board one frail bark and transported to lay in far countries the foundations of a new order of existence. How those resolute souls fared on and after their voyage, and for what cause of conscience they left the shores of Old England to return no more, are matters of history with which every child, whether in Old England or in New England, is more or less familiar. Suffice it to recall, that it is now over two hundred and fifty years since, after a two months' voyage, the Mayflower rode at anchor under that terrible “coast fringed with ice-dreary forests, interspersed with sandy tracts, filling the background,” from which point the three memorable expeditions, in search of a final place of settlement, were sent out, to result at last in that landing on Clark's Island so big with import for the future centuries.

It was in the cabin of the Mayflower, on the 21st of November, 1620, that the earliest " original compact" of selfgovernment recorded authentically in the history of mankind was framed and signed ; and this act of solemn covenanting on the part of the Pilgrim Fathers was not more characteristic of the spirit that was to animate the coming settlement than was that simple and touching act of the third exploring party who, having found the place at which the landing was to be made, and having spent Saturday, the 19th of December, in “exploring the island,” gave up all considerations of further procedure in the most urgent circumstances, and rested on the Sabbath Day.

The intense fervour and uncompromising earnestness of that simple act of resting is not to be overrated. As an

« ForrigeFortsett »