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CHAP. VI.

OF THE ASCENDING SCALE OF INSTINCTIVE OR UNCONSCIOUS MOTIONS- COMPRISING INANIMATE, VEGETABLE, AND ANIMAL MOTIONS.

SECT. I.

Of Inanimate and Vegetable Motions.

I AM ready to believe that, we shall be better able to judge of the relation, which appears to subsist between Instinct and the higher attributes of the human mind, as well as of that subsisting between man and the brute, after we have ascended the scale of natural operations, even from those of inanimate matter, through the several gradations of Being, up to man himself.

We shall find that at every step in this ascent, although many of these operations may not be justly denominated instinctive, yet in as much as they are surely and determinately, though in some cases blindly

effected, they are analogous to those of Instinct, and are only referable to the same ultimate cause.

Hence, this survey may be the means of connecting in the mind more perfectly the chain of argument; as we shall thus have an opportunity of referring Instinct to its proper source-the pervading influence of the Deity in all his works; and also of referring reason to its proper source-the outward or reflected light of nature, alone and unassisted, constituted as the leader of the natural faculties, which, by experience and observation, enables man to use the means, placed abundantly within his reach, for all his outward conveniencies and lawful enjoyments in life.

Of unconscious Motions in Unorganized Matter.

In contemplating the phenomena of the material world, we perceive that all the grand operations of nature are in perfect harmony, and proceed with admirable order. The motion of the earth in its orbit; the vicissitudes of the seasons; the distribution of heat and cold; the growth and decay of vegetables and animals, and their mutual dependencies:-in short, all the phenomena taking place upon our globe that are not under the immediate controul of man, are displayed with consummate wisdom.

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We may observe, however, that when man interferes,-so far as he can interfere, by reason of the portion of free agency with which his Maker has endowed him, then, he may either co-operate with, or oppose, the intelligent designs of Providence; and his happiness or misery,-and in degree also the beauty or deformity of the Lord's creation,-are the result of his own free will. For, to a limited extent, we have power over the face of nature, as well as rightful dominion over the beast of the field. We can plant a forest in the plain, or disencumber the plain of the shady forest. We can cultivate the barren field, and drain the noisome marsh, or leave it to exhale pernicious effluvia, hurtful to man and beast; so that the very soil may be either a blessing or a curse to its possessor. For he may raise the poisonous weed, instead of the wholesome nutritious grain; and by his imprudence may suffer the flocks to be cut off from the fold, and, through want of timely care, thousands of his dependent fellowcreatures to languish in misery, who might otherwise rejoice around him.

Now, if we consider the stupendous phenomena of the material world, celestial and terrestrial, we cannot hesitate to believe, that with regard to the heavenly bodies, either in their internal structure or in the element through which they move, a power has been impressed upon these masses of matter by Omnipotence, which directs them, though unconsciously, with unerring certainty in their course.

The earth completes its orbit, and the moon performs its revolutions; the tides swell and retreat; and the currents of the atmosphere flow, either in gentle breezes or in blustering storms. Heat and cold have their appointed limits like the ocean; and the potent electric fire passes from the earth to the air, and from the air again to the earth.-They all execute their commissions with sure and determinate efficiency; and the reason of man has no power either to aid or retard a single event.

Now these effects, whether they proceed from the secondary laws of attraction and gravitation, or from some other hidden cause, are without doubt under the immediate controul of the divine architect. The mode of their impulse is indeed mysterious and unknown; but we neither think it fit to designate this impulse by the term Instinct, Reason, or Inspiration, as the ruling principle of action.

In the vegetable kingdom, likewise, the seed chooses the fit soil; it spreads the root to receive nourishment; the plant soon appears at a time when the outward air is fitted to cherish its growth, and the juices are propelled forward through a thousand tubes to promote the fructification and the increase: but this is all in obedience to a moving and living energy infused by the Creator.

This living energy in plants, though perfect in its kind, is, notwithstanding, of a very inferior nature compared with that of animals: but in what way the

internal structure gives rise to the phenomena of vegetation, the human mind is unable to comprehend. The microscope has done no more than show us a difference of structure in every different plant. The active power is as great a mystery now, as it was ages ago. The manner in which the organization of a plant is excited by outward stimuli is unknown. If we call it irritability to distinguish it from sensation, or the sentient principle of animals, we only remove the difficulty one step. We reason in a circle instead of coming nearer to the point; and distinguish one thing from another-as the vegetable from the animal-without knowing the principle of life in either. In fact we distinguish them only by a few obvious or outward shades of difference, without being able to mark out the true lines of separation.

The transition from plants to animals is allowed to be almost imperceptible. For, the animated seanettle fixed to the rock, that stretches out its numerous feelers to receive its food, is but a little way removed from the plant fixed in the earth, that pushes its roots in the direction of water, or whatever else in its vicinity may contribute to its growth. And the motions of some plants in appearance come very near to the principle in animals, which is expressed by the term conscious feeling. Yet, though we do not understand them, we cannot believe that it is any thing but appearance. Some of these motions in vegetable life are, indeed, remarkable. For, a plant, reared in a dark cellar, (if some light be admitted) will bend

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