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having no powers of activity belonging to it-and altogether distinct from the entire nature and properties of the human being who contemplates itso, on the other hand, there is at least equal, though a very different error, in the notion that all things are merely ideal—that existence has a reference solely to the conceptive powers of the human being who entertains that notion-and that, in a word, there is nothing external, actually existing, and distinct from the mind of the percipient being himself. On the contrary, all things are full of life-existence and life, acccording to the significant expression of a great continental writer, being synonymous—and, therefore, this life is not confined to the sentient being who contemplates and speculates on its properties—but is as extensively diffused as Universal Nature itself—and only seems in some of its portions, to be death, orinertness, because it exists in all degrees of modification and perfection--and is, in all its manifestations, suited to the purposes which, in the grand scheme of his dominions, the Supreme Architect of the Universe intended it to serve.
The illustration of this idea would open up a view of the universe very different from that which is commonly entertained, either by the unlearned or the wise-and which would be found unlike the system
of idealism of which it is a correction to possess all those characters which the human mind has been formed instantly to recognize as the proper symptoms and evidences of all such doctrine, as is at once sound in its principles, and useful in its applications. But the idea is so unlike those
generally entertained—and would require for its elucidation so many corrections and explanations, both of the rude system which is founded on common observation-and of the extreme errors and fanciful speculations of the Idealists and Immaterialists, that we can only leave it, with the short notice now given of it, to the more considerate attention of those who are fitted to bring out its meaning, and to feel at once the force of its evidence, and the value of the uses, for the elucidation of the whole theory of nature, to which it may be made subservient.
But whether we adopt this view or not, the considerations previously stated, and respecting the truth of which there can be no doubt, obviously warrant the general inference, that the relation of man to nature-that is, to the world in which he finds himself—is far more intimate and close, than that of his being merely an inhabitant or spectator, or student of it-that, on the contrary, he is evidently part of the same plan with the system in which he holds his place--that all his powers have
as fine and pervading an adjustment to its arrangements as those of any of the other beings by whom he is surrounded, and whom we are more in the habit of considering as constituent portions of the entire scheme of things—and in a word, that he is as much a part of the world around him,-as much bound by its laws—and subject to its changes and peculiarities of arrangement, as any thing, whether merely organized or sentient, from which, as well as from the general mass of earth which they cover, he has the power of seeming to separate himself, by an act of abstraction, and of viewing himself as merely a spectator of their processes or a student of their general uses and arrangements. All nature, in short, is life—but life variously modified, and existing in different degrees of perfection and developmentand man is different from the other beings around him, only because the general principle of life has been evolved in him in a far superior degree-and so as to give him the power of looking with an eye of contemplation on all the other wonders which the infinitely varied evolutions of the same universal spirit of life, are every where manifesting around him.
If now, with these views, we turn our attention to the great question respecting the origin of nature, and the first appearance of man upon it—a question which, in all ages, has puzzled
the speculations, and misled the judgments of mankind—we find, at our very entrance upon this question, the same obscurity to invest it, which is also found to meet us when we venture to speculate respecting the higher mysteries of the universe around us—or respecting the things that are to come forth when the present arrangements of our world have been completed. We find ourselves, in short, in the midst of a wondrous scene, with mystery and darkness covering its borders on all sides—but this mystery, when we adopt the views already offered, is in all of these instances found to originate in the same source-viz. that man being himself a part of nature, or of the constituted order of things on this earth—and not a being distinct from it—and in all respects fitted to state himself as its judge, is necessarily limited in his powers
of apprehension and of distinct speculation to the arrangements amidst which he is stationed-and cannot, from his very nature, have any notion of powers or causes out of that order, and, therefore, so far as he is concerned, extraordinary-preternatural—and extramundane.
But such powers or causes—though not, it may be, different in kind from those now observed, yet assuredly different in the mode and degree of their operation-must have preceded and given birth to
the settled order which we now observe in lifeand therefore man being himself only one part of that established order—and differing from its subordinate portions, only in the higher degree in which the universal spirit of life has been evolved in his case the same obscurity that invests the origin of his world generally, must attach to his own first appearance on it-and, in a word, he must be viewed, as being in truth, and in justness of conception, a simultaneous production with the whole of the vast scheme in which he now finds himself--and respecting the processes of whose production he, by a very natural but fruitless effort of curiosity, has, in all ages, been so much disposed to speculate.
There are two ideas involved in this account and necessary for a complete comprehension of it; -in the first place, that man himself is one, though it may be, the highest portion of the system around him-and, secondly, that this entire system, including man as its consummate production, has been the result of the operation of powers
different in kind, or in the mode of their operation at least, from those which now offer themselves to our observation—and which, proba bly, were in connection with changes or agents that extended over a portion of space far be