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RECAPITULATION-THE PERFECTION OF INSTINCT IN ITS PHYSICAL OPERATIONS, AND THE IMPERFECTION OF HUMAN REASON.
HAVING now considered those instinctive motions in organized matter, which indicate the operation of a moving power, called Mind, vitally inherent in every animated structure, and acting very frequently without the creature's direction,-whether it may act according to chemical or mechanical laws, or may obey a finer impulse peculiar to living organs;-I shall recapitulate very briefly the chief heads of which we have been treating, before I proceed to apply the foregoing reasonings in connexion with the subject more immediately proposed in this Essay-viz. the relation which Instinct, in all its different modifications, bears to the highest acts of the human mind.
We have seen, and must be assured, that in every particle of dust, there are properties entirely incomprehensible; and that in the fall of a stone and the shooting of a crystal, a blind but infallible impulse operates; which, from ignorance of the cause, we are used to term a Law of Nature. For, though this impulse be blind, as it regards the substance, yet it is wise and unerring, as it regards the Creator; and because it acts with uniform energy-in a manner too inscrutable to human reason,-we refer it to a power impressed by the Deity. For, if the law, by which a stone falls to the ground, be the same with that by which the heavenly bodies are moved in their orbits, how wonderful must be its operation, how far transcending human knowledge, and how worthy of the divine architect.*
If we notice the elements by which we are surrounded, how perfect are they in their respective natures; the air, water, fire !—how essential in every vital operation to every thing that grows and breathes, yet how powerful when suffered even to exert their limited force in the earth :-as witness the hurricane's fury, the raging sea, the far-extended devastation of the earthquake, the overwhelming eruption of the
"Gravity (says Woodward) does not proceed from the efficiency of any contingent and unstable agents; being entirely owing to the direct concourse of the power of the Author of Nature."
"True philosophy has shewn it (gravity) to be unsolveable by any hypothesis, and resolved it into the immediate will of the Creator.(Quincey.)
"Universal gravitation (says Bentley) is above all mechanism: and proceeds from a divine energy and impression.”
volcano, and the awfully swift destruction of lightning! With such amazing capabilities of reducing the earth to its original chaos, how admirably are these potent elements restrained and regulated; and, with what transcendent skill, are they adapted to the form and habitudes and senses of animals!
Rising from gravitation and the laws of the more subtile though unconscious elements, to crystalliza. tion and chemical attraction; in the solid parts of our globe, what infinite wonders!-If the ultimate particles of matter be the same in all bodies, how marvellously and in what inexhaustible variety are they formed into metals, gems, earths, salts, and their innumerable compounds;-each precious stone, and each salt, earthy or metallic, affecting its own crystal by an inherent tendency altogether inscrutable!
But, if from the rude crust of the earth, the inorganic stone, we ascend a single step towards the animal kingdom, we see the plant springing upward from its seed, and bearing fruit, with inherent powers which defy all explanation by chemical or mechanical laws. The structure is so delicate, the growth and nutrition so elaborate, that the utmost effort of human skill cannot form a fibre of the simplest leaf, or compound the juice of the meanest herb. And therefore, we seem justified in ascribing the phenomena of the vegetable kingdom, so perfect, so diversified, so adapted to their ends,-the continuance of the several species, the delight and support of animated nature, and the beauty and harmony of the creation-to a
vivifying principle, whose internal working is inexplicable, and can only be referred to an all-wise efficient Power.
But leaving plants, if we follow up the chain of organized matter, from the polypus, the snail, and the oyster, to the most perfect animal structure; whether we contemplate the living forms adapted to the air, the water, or the earth-as the zoophyte, the reptile, the insect, the fish, the amphibia, the bird, or the beast; we see them all exquisitely fashioned, and perfect in their kinds.
We see that the arts, by which the several tribes are preserved, and the species perpetuated, are varied in so many thousand ways, that it is nearly demonstrable, nothing but a Supreme and infinitely wise Ruler, could have so diversified their forms, and adapted their structure so wonderfully to their dif ferent instincts. For, whether they are endowed with more or less sagacity, it is plain, that every one answers the design of its creation as completely, though in its limited sphere, as the Sun, the Moon, or any of the planetary orbs.
There is a remarkable coincidence in the ideas contained in the following passages from Virgil and Pope, which is too obviously connected with the preceding reasonings, to require further comment.
"All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
"Who taught the nations of the field and wood
Its proper bliss, and sets its proper bounds."
Pope's Essay on Man.
It is necessary to premise that Virgil had some leaning to the Pythagorean doctrine of Metempsychosis.