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being first in the series—these giving place to others more highly gifted and fitted for more important functions--and, so far as we have learned of the series, terminating in intelligence, which is the most perfect form of life or function, with which our limited experience has yet made us acquainted.
The grand changes, then, to which we have been alluding, may thus be considered as forming the grand drama of the universe in its successive scenes -carrying forward the living scheme of Omnipotence—and affecting not only the condition of vast masses of what are commonly called dead or inert matter—but the state of life-and organizationand intelligence-over the boundless regions in which they occur-and throughout the interminable ages opened up for their progress.
4. We thus are led to view ourselves as now stationed in one series of an immense and progressive order-which has been proceeding from the unfathomable depths of the ages that are past—and which is to be continued throughout boundless ages that are yet to come forth, long after the present order of things shall have terminated, and a new form shall be given to the entire face of our world -and to all the organized
and sentient_and intelligent beings whom it is destined to bring forth.
We expect, therefore, that the change, at what
ever distance, according to our human calculations, it may occur—will give birth to a higher order of beings than that which now constitutes its chief production—for the series, we have seen, is in all probability an ascending one-unfolding in its successive periods more perfect manifestations of the living powers with which Divine Wisdom has gifted and enriched all the great scenes of its operationsand exhibiting, it may be, to the races that shall yet come forth-as we now see the traces of former creations in the remains of organization that are so abundantly diffused throughout the strata of our world -fragments of the surface on which we now tread and remains of the organization with which, on the face of this our “green earth" we have been familiar -to attest the former existence of this world which shall then have perished--and to give some hints respecting the forms of living nature by which it was characterized. And, if a more highly gifted form of intelligence is, as we have reason to apprehend, to be the inheritance of our successors in existence, their chief curiosity may be to trace, amidst the mouldering remains of our organization, the approaches which we had made to their more perfect nature—as we now pause with wonder on the remains of those vast animals whose organization seems to have come nearest to that of the more
perfect forms with which we are conversant-and to have been, in epochs preceding the present, the highest specimens of the creative power of Omnipotence which the productive energies of this earth were then capable of exhibiting.
5. The exploding of a world—which, to the beings inhabiting it, seems the greatest and almost the most inconceivable of all events--is thus, in reference to the infinitely extended and progressive schemes of Omnipotence but as the bursting of a grain of sand upon the sea-shore—though, wherever it occurs, managed with as perfect a display of Divine wisdom and goodnessas if the entire system of the universe was the object to be regarded ;-we look, therefore, for an indefinite series of such mutations—which have been going on in all past periods—which now are occasionally varying the vast fields of space--and which are to be continued throughout all the boundless extent of coming duration---but all carrying forward the grand scheme of things--all advancing the universe to still more perfect displays of the attributes of its Creator---and all equally superintended and managed by that Omnipresent being to whom nothing is little and nothing insignificant--whose presence and agency are equally operative in the meanest as in the greatest of his works—and who
is making them all contribute-though by processes and at epochs, and with a harmony of operation, which are far beyond our powers to appreciate-to the furtherance of his infinitely great and progressive designs.
If there be pleasure in the extensive and glorious anticipations we have ventured to indulge—there is also in the same thoughts an occasional source of discomfort and of pain to minds prone to reflection and foresight--and the heart that passes without regret over all the wonders that have characterized the dispensations of Providence, during the past ages of existence, still sighs to think that after having been called into being—and having seen so much—and been made capable of anticipating so much more, it should yet enjoy but a momentary sight of so glorious a spectacle and be speedily called to an utter ignorance of all that is yet to happen on the grand theatre of existence.
But all such murmurings at the ways of Providence carry in themselves an evidence of their own absurdity which speedily rebukes them, and disposes at least all well-conditioned and thoughtful
minds not only to acquiescence but to glory and triumph. And, in this instance, such sources of comfort are not far to seek. For have we not come into being as but the successors of myriads who have gone before us—and who,“ like hirelings, have completed their day”—and if we are glad in the sight of the magnificent spectacle which has been opened to our view—and find many sources of comfort and of pure delight in the enjoyment of existence--why should we wish to interfere with the destined inheritance of others, for whom also the same glorious hopes are in reserve ? Then, it must be recollected, that we have come into existence at a time and amidst scenes--and with connections and powers especially suited to the purposes we were intended to serve—and that if these all were changed, and we had to live amidst new scenes and with new associates and with all that now makes existence delightful to us taken from us for ever, there could be little of the enjoyment which we now promise ourselves from prolonged existence, which depends for its powers of giving delight chiefly upon the circumstances in which it is spent-and the disposition of the beings who partake of it, to relish the gift which Divine bounty may bequeath to them—but which, by an entire change of circumstances and dispositions,