Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/103

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Herschel, Faraday, and multitudes of others. It seems to be required by that deep law of causation which not only prompts us to seek for a cause for everything, but an adequate cause, to be found only in an intelligent mind. Our greatest American thinker, Jonathan Edwards (whom I can claim as my predecessor), maintains that, as an image in a mirror is kept up by a constant succession of rays of light, so Nature is sustained by a constant forth-putting of the divine power. In this view Nature is a perpetual creation. God is to be seen not only in creation at first, but in the continuance of all things. "They continue to this day according to thine ordinances." He is to be acknowledged not only in the origination of matter, but in its developments; not only in the reptile and the bird, but it may be in the steps by which the one has been derived from the other; not only in the orohippus, but in the stages by which that animal has risen into the horse so useful to man.

2. New Powers appearing in Nature.—Let us suppose that there was an original matter. I regard it as most in accordance with the principles of our reason to ascribe that matter to God. What properties had that matter at first? Every man of ordinary wisdom and modesty will be ready to answer, "I know not." If he does not know, he is not entitled to say that all things have proceeded from it. I suppose it will be allowed that it possessed gravitation. "This law of the inverse square," says a writer in the last number of the Quarterly Review (London), "is but the mathematical expression of a property which has been imposed on matter from the creation. It is no inherent quality, so far as we know. It is quite conceivable that the central law might have been different from what it is. There is no reason why the mathematical law should be what it is, except the will of the Being who imposed the law. Any other proportion would equally well be expressed mathematically and its results calculated. As an instance of what would occur if any other proportion than the inverse square were substituted as the attractive force of gravity, suppose, at distances 1, 2, 3, the attractive force had varied as 1,2, 3, instead of the squares of those numbers. Under such a law any number of planets might revolve in the most regular and orderly manner. But under this law the weight of bodies at the earth's surface would cease to exist; nothing would fall or weigh downward. The greater action of the distant sun and planets would exactly neutralize the attractive force of the earth. A ball thrown from the hand, however gently, would immediately become a satellite of the earth, and would for the future accompany its course, revolving about it for the space of one year. All terrestrial things would float about with no principle of coherence or stability—they would obey the general law of the system, but would acknowledge no particular relation to the earth. It is obvious that such a change would be subversive of the entire structure and economy of the world."