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tute of the cause, he was exempted from its effect, and entitled to a mode and duration of being, which could know no termination, and be exposed to no decay. It is therefore to the influence of moral evil that we must look, for the primary source of those natural evils which imbitter life; and, finally, for the decay of the human body in all the gradual revolutions and changes, which are attendant upon mortals in this afflicted state of things ; and that ultimate dissolution of its component parts, which invariably succeeds to death.
It has been proved in the preceding Sections, that if moral evil had never entered into the world, death would necessarily have been unknown; and this fact arises from the immutability and moral justice of God. But as the human body was made from a. combination of those distinct elements, into which matter had been divided, some further process became necessary in the divine economy, to perpetuate , the duration of this compound, and to preserve it from natural decay. For since the matter of which the body was formed had been collected from the different elements, we may naturally presume, that the particles which were thus collected, included within themselves a natural tendency to seek their respective elementary abodes.
Whether the dissolution to which all compounded bodies are now liable, arise from the peculiar nature of the atmosphere with which we are surrounded, or from that inherent tendency which resides within the particles themselves, continually urging them towards their native abodes, is a point on which I have no occasion to decide. It appears highly probable, that dissolution arises from the mutual influence of both. For, though all matter be in itself perfectly indifferent to motion and rest, and is perfectly passive when removed from all external influence, yet, from a native tendency somewhat analogous to gravitation, which is now impressed upon every particle, these particles, while removed from their primitive elements, and detained by an adhesive power, in any given combinations, in which they may be placed, perpetually seek their elementary state of repose. Nevertheless, while the power of adhesion continues, through which these exiled particles are detained within the confines of the compounded body, this adhesion must be too strong for the elementary tendency of the particles to overcome. And hence it is that bodies continue in existence through the adhesion of the parts, while the parts themselves are actuated by opposite tendencies, and are constantly seeking a separation from each other. And hence also it may be undeniably inferred, that while this adhesive power continues permanent, the particles themselves must preserve their respective stations, and necessarily remain in contact with each other, notwithstanding the opposite tendencies which are presumed to reside in all.
For though we have admitted the native and inherent tendency, of the different elementary particles, to separate, and to seek their native homes, yet, while by the power of adhesion, this contact is preserved, the whole body must be nearly in a passive state;
least, it must be passive in proportion to the adjustment of those elements of which it is composed. The power of adhesion which cements the parts must be considered as counteracting all hostile tendencies; and as making a point of union to arise from that mutual contact which it continues to preserve. And probably as this adhesive energy counteracts that tendency which the particles have, to seek their respective elements, matter must be reduced to nearly the same condition, as that in which it would have been if no such tendency had resided within any part of the compounded body. It will therefore follow, that the dissolution of the body cannot be justly said to originate exclusively in any tendency which is lodged within the particles of which it is composed, because this tendency is subdued by the power of adhesion, but dissolution must primarily originate in some external cause. This cause appears to be the atmosphere.
That atmospheric air, by its penetrating qualities, must be capable of entering most of the hidden recesses of all compounded bodies, is a truth too obvious to require proof. And we are well assured from observation and experiment, that it is capable of de
roying that adhesive quality, which combines the distinct particles of which the human body is formed, and through which the different elements adhere to gether. The adhesion being destroyed, through the penetrating influence of atmospheric air, particle after particle must be disengaged from the preceding union, and disengaged from their compounded state. And as this discharge of the particles from their adhesive state, must permit that tendency in each to operate, which had been suspended through that power of adhesion which is now no more, they must naturally seek their elementary abodes, in which they must continue until removed by another external impulse.
On the ground of this theory it will perhaps be objected.
" That as the elements were in existence at the time when Adam was first formed, the
atmosphere must have acted upon him, and " therefore the final dissolution of the human body " is a necessary consequence of its compounded
state, and, that the event must have taken place, although moral evil had never entered into the
That the above objection contains a difficulty which opposes itself to the theory I have been advancing I most readily allow, but I flatter myself that it is a difficulty, which will admit of a satisfactory solution: and that this solution may be found in the Tree of Life.
* As there must be in the particles of all bodies which are compounded of different elements, a natural tendency to seek their primitive abodes, Infinite goodness has wisely provided for this tendency, and counteracted its efficacy by that power of adhesion which preserves the body modified. Thus providing for the perpetuity of the compounded body, by the compound itself, notwithstanding the opposite tendencies of the particles of which it is composed.
But here a new difficulty arises relative to the body of Adam. The air which he respired, and which was absolutely necessary to the existence of animal life, possessed, through its penetrating influence, a power to destroy that adhesion
That the tree of life was placed in the garden of Eden will admit of no doubt with those who believe the Bible, and it is incumbent on those who disbelieve it to account for facts which they dare not deny; and to substitute in the room of scripture a more rational account than that which they despise. As this tree of life was planted in the garden by him who does nothing in vain, we are well assured that it must have been planted there for some purpose, and to know what that purpose was, is the principal question remaining, into which we must now inquire.
It is expressly called, in the language of Moses the tree of life, which name could not have been given to it, unless it were endued with a life-giving quality. Now certain it is, that this tree could not have been designed to communicate the origin of life, because this supposition is contradicted by the whole train of circumstances connected with it.
which prevented the particles from retiring to their native abodes. In this case also we see the infinite goodness of God in providing the Tree of Life, the salubrious efficacy of which, we may presume, counteracted the dissolvent quality of the ato mosphere, and preserved the body, unhurt, amidst the opposite tendencies which encircled it. In this view we discover the pere petuity of the human body ensured on the most permanent basis, though composed of particles which belong to different elements, each of which had an innate tendency to seek its native abode. And at the same time we discover this assurance of perpetuity, while the body was surrounded with an atmosphere which penetrated its inmost recesses, and which perpetually tended to destroy the adhesion of those particles of which it was composed.