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this is only another way of expressing the conclusions at which we have already arrived, for (of course) if we imagine a Divine Agency to be resident in the universe, we cannot but suppose that every motion of any kind is accompanied with a consciousness of this Divine Agency.
In fine, we maintain that what we are driven to is not an under-life resident in the atom, but rather, to adopt the words of a recent writer, a Divine over-life in which we live and move and have our being.
243. Here it is desirable to consider what we gain by this hypothesis. Our gain is simply in the way in which we regard the functions of matter, and a little reflection will convince us that neither form of this hypothesis, whether we hold by an under or an over life, will enable us to explain the introduction of life into the visible universe by natural laws alone, and without resorting to some peculiar action of the unseen. As a matter of fact we are led by science to receive the law of Biogenesis as expressing the present order of the world. But the introduction of
life into the world does not become more consistent with this law by virtue of an hypothesis which associates a consciousness of some sort with every motion of the universe.
It still remains a fact as much as ever, that there is a marked distinction between the living and the dead-the organic and the inorganic. And it still remains true that, as a matter of universal scientific experience, a living thing can only be produced from a living thing, and that the inorganic forces of the visible universe can by no means generate life.
In fine, our hypothesis, in which the material as well as the life of the visible universe are regarded as having been developed from the Unseen, in which they had existed from Eternity, appears to us to present the only available method of avoiding a break of continuity, if at the same time we are to accept loyally the indications given by observation and experiment. It may be said (just as anything else may be said) that the visible universe is eternal, and that it has the power of originating life; but both statements are surely opposed to the results of observation and experiment. Now we must be content in such matters as these to be guided by probabilities, and it certainly appears most probable that the visible universe is not eternal, and that it has not the power of originating life. In fine, life as well as matter comes to us from the Unseen Universe.
244. Let us here again pause for a moment and review the position which we have reached. taking the universe as we find it, and regarding each occurrence in it, without exception, as something upon which it was meant that we should exercise our intellects, we are led at once to the principle of Continuity, which asserts that we shall never be carried from the conditioned to the unconditioned, but only from one order of the fully conditioned to another. Two great laws come before us: the one of which is the Conservation of Mass and of Energy; that is to say, conservation of the objective element of the universe; while the other is the law of Biogenesis, in virtue of which the appearance of a living Being in the universe denotes the existence of an antecedent possessing life. We are led from these
two great laws, as well as from the principle of Continuity, to regard, as at least the most probable solution, that there is an intelligent Agent operating in the universe, one of whose functions it is to develop the universe objectively considered; and also that there is an intelligent Agent, one of whose functions it is to develop intelligence and life. Perhaps we ought rather to say that, if we are not driven to this very conclusion, it appears at least to be that which most simply and naturally satisfies the principle of Continuity.
But this conclusion hardly differs from the Christian doctrine; or, to speak properly, the conclusion, so far as it goes, appears to agree with the Christian doctrine.
In fine, we are led to regard it as one of the great merits of the Christian system, that its doctrine is pre-eminently one of intellectual liberty, and that while theologians on the one hand, and men of science on the other, have each erected their barriers to inquiry, the early Christian records acknowledge no such barrier, but on the contrary assert the most perfect freedom for all the powers of man.
245. We have now reached a stage from which we can very easily dispose of any scientific difficulty regarding miracles. For if the invisible was able to produce the present visible universe with all its energy, it could of course, a fortiori, very easily produce such transmutations of energy from the one universe into the other as would account for the events which took place in Judea. Those events are therefore no longer to be regarded as absolute breaks of continuity, a thing which we have agreed to consider impossible, but only as the result of a peculiar action of the invisible upon the visible universe.
When we dig up an ant-hill, we perform an operation which, to the inhabitants of the hill, is mysteriously perplexing, far transcending their experience, but we know very well that the whole affair happens without any breach of continuity of the laws of the universe. In like manner, the scientific difficulty with regard to miracles will, we think, entirely disappear, if our view of the invisible universe be accepted, or indeed if any view be accepted which implies the presence in it of living beings much more powerful than ourselves. It is of course assumed that the visible and invisible are and have been constantly in a state of intimate mutual relation.
246. We have as yet only replied to the scientific objection, but there are other objections which might be raised. Thus, for instance, it might be said, What occasion was there for the interference implied in miracles? And again, Is the historical testimony in favour of their occurrence conclusive? We must leave the last objection to be replied to by the historian; but with respect to the former, it appears to us as almost self-evident that Christ, if He came to us from the invisible world, could hardly (with reverence be it spoken) have done so without some peculiar sort of communication being established between the two worlds. No doubt we may well imagine that the acts of interference in virtue of this communication were strictly limited; and in proof of this conclusion we may cite the fact that what did occur was sufficiently startling to have secured the ear of humanity ever since, but not sufficiently overwhelming to preclude the exercise of individual faith. The very fact of there being sincere sceptics proves, we think, the
limited extent of these interferences.1 And we must remember, on the other hand, that it is quite possible to accept fully the truth of a statement without the slightest influence resulting as regards modification of our course of action. Perhaps the most terrible portion of the New Testament is the passage (James ii. 19), 'the demons also believe, and tremble.'
247. We have now considered miracles, or those apparent breaks of continuity which have been furnished by history, but our readers are already well aware that equally formidable breaks are brought before us by science. There is, to begin with, that formidable phenomenon, the production in time of the visible universe. Secondly, there is a break hardly less formidable, the original production of life; and there is, thirdly, that break recognised by Wallace and his school of natural history, which seems to have occurred at the first production of man. Greatly as we are indebted to Darwin, Huxley, and those who have prominently advocated the possibility of the present system of things' having been developed by forces and operations such as we see before us, it must be regarded by us, and we think it is regarded by them, as a defect in their system, that these breaks remain unaccounted for. Our readers will now, however, if we mistake not, perceive what is the real source of the perplexity felt by the school of evolutionists. It is that they have been unable to regard an interference of the invisible universe in any other light than as an absolute break of continuity; and holding with justice to the principle of continuity,
1 See Sermon preached at Belfast by Dr. Reichel, August 23, 1874