Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

not too strongly maintain that Atoms combine in obedience merely to “mechanical ” laws.

We have ascribed to Atoms a Divine origin, fashioned as they are, in our belief, by God from Himself. And, while saying this, we would protest against every false god, as did Epicurus,—“ Not godless is he who rejects the gods of the crowd, but he who accepts them.”

Next, the Atomic theory has a defect in this, that it appeals to the understanding alone; and the understanding is not the whole man. “Man never has been, and he will never be, satisfied with the operations and products of the understanding alone; hence physical science cannot cover all the demands of his nature.” But man is, on the theory, a grandchild of the Atoms. Everything in him must have had its proximate origin in them. He is but a sum of atoms and atomic relations; hence either all in him was first in them, or else something in him, say his understanding; and that which understanding with its operations and products cannot satisfy must have come from nothing and nowhere. But that cannot be. Therefore Atoms were not related only by mechanical law, but thought and will were potentially in them; and not only so, but that potency has been evolved. Now, this evolution of what was at one time not actively present implies that some active will and intelligence has operated in, and with or by, the Atoms since their creation. “Did I not believe,' said a great man to me once,” says Professor Tyndall, “that an Intelligence is at the heart of things, my life on earth would be intolerable.'"

Atoms then, in our view, do not exist apart from a Creator; they subsist in Him, and “nothing can quench them” or their activities, for they rest on the Eternal. Now we read of Epicurus the following :-“The mechanical shock of atoms being in his view the allsufficient Cause of things, he combats the notion that the constitution of nature has been in any way determined by intelligent design. The interaction of the Atoms through infinite time rendered all manner of combinations possible. Of these the fit ones persisted, while the unfit ones disappeared.” Since that sentence is a remote result of Atomic shocks and the environment of the resulting combinations, it is idle to talk of the “mere mechanical." We are told of fit and unfit combinations which met with diverse fates. How suggestive this of man and his workings. We cannot believe in a Creator whose aim was simply and solely to make men at ease, irrespective of their conduct. We find not only that man's work is sometimes “fit,” sometimes "unfit," but that he himself belongs continually to one or other of these cate

gories,—he is fit or unfit for real happiness; and this fitness or unfitness is associated with his free determinations. The Divine will, if we may seek to discover it “from below,” is to lead men by their freedom to fit conditions, and therefore to an external and internal happiness. Thus freedom in man is apparently an essential in the scheme of things. Hence we find everywhere appearances of freedom. Shocks of atoms were fortuitous; plants sport into varieties; animals choose this food or that, one lair or another; and philosophers determine whether to reason à priori or å posteriori. The appearance of freedom is everywhere; and it seems to be really present in some degree in man, who is free in the same sense as he has independent life; but as his life is dependent upon God, his freedom is a reflex and image of the Divine freedom. Hence the freedom, even of man, is limited. How? By the fact that he is a part of a system in which evolution is a grand law,-evolution from atoms first, and afterwards from organisms of a grand, an infinite idea which was potentially in them from their beginning.

Thus viewed, it is difficult to see what combinations that have existed were unfit to exist. Each has done its work; and when the work of any was finished, it has disappeared. No need of atons “ trying motions and unions of every kind.” Atoms are not students of experimental philosophy. God is in Atoms, and they are in God : and, therefore, everywhere the Good is acting truly. We, therefore, cannot believe that Socrates and Plato, or even Aristotle, for whom few now have a good word, were in any sense failures in Atomic experiments. So far as they were free, they could act rightly or wrongly; they established themselves in true or false opinions; they were moral or immoral, and have wrought themselves into harmony or into discord with the universe. It is in each man that the aim of God must be accomplished, that beings may exist, capable of choosing and having freely either truth or its denial, good or its negation,—the truth and good from God, or the denial and negation from self-will.

Thus, then, we provisionally accept the Atomic theory as the material side of that natural history in which we have the formal exponent of the Unseen and Infinite. Nor do we feel that Creation is the less real to us for our abandonment of the six days' theory derived from a misunderstood Bible. Indeed, our dependence on the Father of all seems to become more close and absolute as we recognise His unintermitting activity in the smallest things of the universe. Thence we learn to feel more entirely that it is in Him we live, and move, and have our being

We dare not now venture on the subject of evolution of life in all its created degrees. We live ; our life is that of spirit; it is endless ; it may be guided by truth and filled with good. Believing this, we may even feel that it matters not how or when man was first a man.

VIDESNE

THERE! HERE! WHERE ?

“THERE's the future,” says the youth,

Looking hopefully away :-
“ There is love, and there is truth :

There the long-expected day.
There the lover meets his mate,

There is power; and there is wealth ;
There authority and state ;

There is happiness and health.”

“ Here is all ;" replies the man :

“Here—the present—in our power,
Why the future should we scan,

When we hold the present hour ?
Here I have fruition rich

Of my labour in the past,
Having !-Hoping !—tell me which

Is the likelier to last ?”

“ Where ? ah! where ?" the old man says,

“Where have all my pleasures gone ?
Where the happy joyous days,

When life's sun so brightly shone ?
Where the hopes, and where the fears,

That alternate filled the heart,
Now with joy and now with tears,—

Where ! and when did they depart ?"
Oft, too oft, our hopes below

Fix on earthly, transient things :
Ere we reach them, bright they glow;

But attained, how swift their wings 1 Our readers will profitably read, on this subject, Swedenborg's Tract " On the Infinite."

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

SCRIPTURE BOTANY.

(LEO GRINDON.) No. XII.—THE BROAD-LEAVED TREES.—(Continued.) 33. THE TAMARISK (Tamarix orientalis. Nat. Ord. Tamaricacece). The Tamarisk appears to be intended by the Hebrew eshel, a name which occurs in three different places in the Old Testament. First we have it in the history of Abraham, founder of the Hebrew nation, B.C. 1950, who, when he moved to Beersheba (a favourite spot, it woull seem, with that celebrated patriarch), “planted an eshel,” and “called there upon the Name of the Lord” (Gen. xxi. 33). The Authorized Version here renders the word “grove," but it is hardly probable that Abraham would operate so extensively, or that he would plant more than an individual tree, sufficient to mark the spot, and to serve his purpose. The next allusion is in 1 Sam. xxii. 6: “Saul abode in Gibeah, under the eshel in Ramah, having his spear in his hand, and all his servants were standing about him.” Here the Authorized Version renders the Hebrew by “a tree,” thus obscuring the original employment of the definite article, which seems to indicate that the particular eshel in question was a remarkable one of its kind, commonly known throughout the country, after the manner of “the great terebinth " which witnessed the death of the unhappy Absalom. That it must have been one of the considerable dimensions is shown by its having supplied shelter not only for the king, but for his immediate retainers. Saul seems to have been fond of “tarrying" under trees, for on a former occasion he had rested beneath a pomegranate (xiv. 2). Thirdly, and lastly, the eshel appears in the history of the interment of the body of this unfortunate man and of the corpses of his three sons, after that dreadful defeat at Esdraelon, in which they lost their lives at the hands of the Philistines. Here again the Authorized Version simply says “ tree.”

Why Abraham should have chosen a tamarisk for planting in Beersheba does not appear. Nor is there any evidence as to why this tree should be particularized in the Book of Samuel. Every incident in a chain of Scripture narrative "given by inspiration of God," and therefore embodying some great and unchangeable spiritual truth, must needs, in its own place, be significant and important, and have been put there by the Almighty for some purpose ;-hence, although the reason may not declare itself, we may be sure that the eshel is mentioned, not casually, but by design; and that while any other tree would have done as well, for anything we can see or guess, from a merely human point of view ;-in the view of Him who ruled the record, an eshel, and nothing else, would give it cohesion. This may not be satisfactory, but nothing more can be said. Our Father, wise in what He withholds as in what He declares, leaves the matter unsolved, as He has left so many other things, and all we can do is to wait.

Though thin and shadeless, the tamarisk is a tree excelled by few of its size in beauty, and in form it would certainly have served and pleased the patriarch well. Every one who has visited the southern shores of England knows the complexion of the common or European tamarisk, so graceful in its long and half-pendulous branches, clothed with leares so minute that it seems a kind of cypress, except in figure, and decked, in early summer, with oblong elusters of little pink flower, that gire place, in time, to eapsales of cottony seeds. Much the same, in eum , and of about the same general stature as a full-grown Tamaris G aler, say twenty or thirty feet, are the species of the

aus which occur in south-wester Asia In every instance elegantly light and feathery, and of a bright and cheerful green, except in winter, will being dealuous they constitute & grat ornament of dry and unsuicirati distrets and by inexperienced travellers are apt to be su baken fur cuirs of the juniper or Retinospors kind. Botanists

ka es muy * twenty of what are called " good species, besides ** bului de er raising the number to thirty eight, but

« AnteriorContinuar »