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traces of the violence and disruption with which their operation was attended.
The most probable account of such changes is, that they have resulted from alterations in the condition of those great and pervading principles or fluids, as they are called, on which life, throughout all its forms and departments, seems to dependand which we cannot doubt extend their influence to regions far beyond any into which the observation of man has ever penetrated;—and the great alterations which our world has undergone—and is therefore probably still destined to undergo, in indefinite succession, are thus to be considered as the effects —not merely of powers or principles confined to it exclusively—and having their origin—their progress—and their termination—in its mutationsbut of arrangements or causes which pervade the entire system of which our globe is a part, and which are therefore subject to modifications and internal alterations of condition, with the beginnings and progress--and consequences of which, beyond their effects on our own earth and its arrangements, we are altogether unacquainted.
But, in the meantime, the facts we have already ascertained—the remains of former life and organization which lie buried in the strata of the present surface-and which seem, as it has well been said, “ like
the ancient medals and inscriptions in the ruins of an empire”—and especially the indubitable symptoms of violent and disturbing causes which we cannot avoid perceiving—seem all to lead to the conclusion—as at least in the highest degree probable, that in the order of nature, as comprising the entire history of the revolutions of our globe-there is provision made for the occasional recurrence of what have been called“ tremendous and ravaging catastrophies, and cataclysms-epochs of terrific confusion and violence-and, as it were, interregnums of chaotic anarchy,” “ while old things are passing away and new things coming forth," and the universe, in its separate portions, is making the transition from the forms of life and organization that have been —to others that, for their long and destined periods, are to usurp the place of those that have completed their course.
It is a vain and groundless objection to this supposition, that it proceeds on the idea, that the universe, at least in its individual worlds, is occasionally left to the dominion of uproar and misrule-and that this supposition is inconsistent with the acknowledged attributes of the Supreme mind, and tends to weaken our faith in the entire stability-or, it may be, to affect our feelings of beauty as arising from the invariable regularity and harmony and
repose of the great scheme of nature. Such an objection, we say, is mere folly and misapprehension --for the appearances of violence and disorder to which we have alluded, are but preparatory, according to our notions, to still higher forms of life and beauty, which are, by their means, to be realized, and to obtain a lasting place in nature—and the appearances, though, speaking in relation to our powers of conception, they may seem to indicate violence and the temporary dominion of disorder-only in fact indicate to minds better fitted for their full comprehension, the agency of principles of exceeding grandeur and power-and by whose finished work, new splendour and glory are to be thrown over the whole face of the scene which they seemed previously to have ravaged.
It is of no material consequence, however, whether we admit the supposition of such violent changes or otherwise--whether we suppose them to be extraordinary agencies called occasionally into operation for purposes of infinite wisdomor whether they are rather to be traced to causes constantly at work, and so distributed over vast portions of time and space-as to produce the destined result with less discomposure and disruption to what we are disposed to think the true beauty
and regularity and constant progress of the universe. It is sufficient for our present purpose, that it be granted, that successive changes have occurred in the entire condition and productions of our earthand probably in the corresponding condition and productions of other and higher spheres—and that these changes are such as to give a new aspect and state to whatever scenes they are appointed to visit.
3. But there is another idea necessary to the full comprehension of this matter—and which therefore must not be left altogether unnoticed. We are in the habit of considering the materials of the universe, in its vast portions, as dead and inertand only intended to sustain on the surface of its different worlds certain forms of organization, or life, or intelligence, suited to the scenes they are appointed to inhabit. But all this notion about dead or inert matter, in the philosophical sense of that term, is obviously drawn from the most limited and partial and obvious view of things -and when admitted into the more extensive
range of thought and of observation in which philosophy delights to busy itself, is evidently without foundation--and fitted only to embarrass or to mislead the conclusions to which our researches may conduct
In a word, then, life and existence are, in the philosophical view of things, synonymous-our own bodies—the earth on which we tread—and the vast host of living lights that beautify the firmament-are all thus pervaded by powers which are in essential inconsistency with the mere abstract conception of matter as absolutely dead and inactive-nor can we ever arrive at any just notions of the processes of nature—especially on her grander scale-without taking this view of the vast masses of existence into account-and conceiving of them as all pervaded by active, and, in one sense of the term, living powers, which fit them not only for being the abodes of sentient and organized creatures--but for being the fountains from which the successive supplies of these high forms of existence and of organized and intelligent being are to be derived.
The great changes, accordingly, of which we have been discoursing, are found to have been attended with the corresponding production of new forms of life, corresponding to the new state into which the theatres of this exhibition have been brought—as well as with the destruction of the more ancient forms, which the new state of things was not adapted to sustain. There seems too to be an ascending series in the production of such existences— lower forms of life and sentient feeling