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organic structures to the purposes of animal existence. The one shows a vast and perfect composition, an elaborate and systematic design, presented to our contemplation; the other, a profoundly ingenious and complicated machine set in action.
Now, if we consider the bearing of these views on natural theology, it must, I think, be admitted that they both, though in somewhat different ways, tend equally to substantiate the great inference of design, In the universal preservation of systematic order, susceptible of exact classification by pervading analogies, there is just the same indication of design and intelligence as in the adaptation and adjustment of the parts of any individual machinery to an end.
An elaborate design of art, a well-proportioned edifice, a magnificent painting, though addressing themselves solely to our contemplation in their silent and immovable proportions, are surely quite as forcible manifestations of intellect and genius, as the most skilfully contrived piece of machinery in incessant activity, fabricating the most useful productions.
Either way, then, in the study of nature there is an equally clear manifestation of that infinite intelligence, which, after the inductive examination of the laws or adjustments in either case, we are directly led to acknowledge as the irresistible conclusion. And as this is the case with either species of investigation singly, so will it be more pre-eminently true when both are pursued jointly, as they assuredly may be, without the smallest detriment to each other, or confusion of first principles, provided only we keep strictly to the simplest rule of all just reasoning, and do not confound our final conclusion with our first assumption.
The highest philosophy is most disposed to cherish a readiness to perceive and admit the fair indications of design and intelligence, in whatever form they may present themselves; and there is a wider expansion given to our views when we thus include the contemplation of order and symmetry, (even though we perceive not their end or object,) in our notion of design. In such considerations we may find the loftiest exercise of truly philosophical reflections ; we shall realize the highest aim of scientific speculation; and shall recognise the truth of the remark so forcibly expressed by Dugald Stewart :—“There is a certain character, or style (if I may use the expression,) in the operations of Divine Wisdom; something which everywhere announces, amidst an infinite variety of detail, an inimitable unity and harmony of design; and in the perception of which philosophical sagacity and genius seem chiefly to consist*.”
Example :—Botanical Symmetry. THERE are few branches of science from which we learn more decisive indications of that wonderful symmetry and order which exist in the disposition
* Philosophy of Mind, ii. 418.
and modification of organized structures, than from botany.
In the classification of plants alone, whether on an artificial or a natural system, we trace the clearest indications of this pervading principle. But so little is the bearing of it perceived, that nothing is more common than to hear ridicule cast on the emptiness, as it is considered, and pedantry of scientific nomenclature and systematic arrangement. Those who ignorantly indulge in this kind of censure are little able to understand how much even this mere classification implies. Had it no other use, the mere fact of an unfailing reduction of each individual and each species to its place in a system, is itself an unquestionable and obvious indication of plan and design in the organization of those individuals and species. The system may be artificial and complex, the nomenclature may seem dry, technical, and pedantic, but the existence of order is real; and the invariable adherence to a certain determined set of types and forms is nothing less than one of the most decisive evidences of that pervading uniformity throughout nature, which is the legitimate manifestation of one presiding intelligence.
But nowhere, perhaps, in the compass of this science is the truth of our position more singularly confirmed than in the remarkable fact observed by botanical physiologists, of the existence of abortive, yet always symmetrical parts in plants. The subject has been touched upon in immediate connexion with our present application of it by Dr. Daubeny, (in his inaugural lecture on botany,) and I cannot better convey an idea of it than in his own words :
“We find parts existing in a rudimentary or abortive state in one species, which in others serve some manifestly important office; neither would it be any objection to the idea of design, if it could be proved that in this rudimentary condition they were absolutely useless, although it must be considered an additional proof of arrangement, when, as in many instances, we are able to show that they become subservient to a new purpose by being unfitted to their primary one*.”
After giving some instances of these occasional transmutations of function and character) the author observes distinctly, that, apart from this, the existence of these abortive organs in a regular symmetry is alone an indication of design; and quotes in support of his view the following remarkable illustration from M. De Candolle:
“If on a subject so grave and elevated I may be permitted to avail myself of a comparison somewhat mean and trivial, I may, perhaps, render my views on this subject somewhat better understood.
“I will suppose that I am seated at a splendid banquet, and certainly the repast which nature sets before us may well merit this appellation.
“I endeavour to discover what evidence can be
afforded that this banquet is not the result of chance, but has been due to the will of an intelligent being. No doubt I should remark that each of the dishes is in itself well prepared, this is the argument of the anatomist,) and that the selection of them implies a reference to the wants of the individuals who partake of it. This is the reasoning of the physiologist. But may I not likewise observe that the dishes that constitute this repast are arranged in a certain symmetrical order, such as is agreeable to the eye and plainly announces design and volition ?
“ Now, if on examining the above arrangement I should find certain dishes repeated, as for instance in double rows, for no other apparent reason than that. the one might, in a manner, correspond to the other; or observe, that the places which they should occupy were filled with imitations of the real dishes, which seem of no use with reference to the object of the repast, ought I on that account to reject the idea of design?
“So far from this, I might infer from the very circumstances stated, an attention to symmetrical arrangement, and consequently the operation of intelligence.
“Now, this is precisely what happens on the great scale in nature. Considerations derived from the symmetry of parts correct, in great measure, what is deficient in the theory of final causes, and tend, not only to resolve many difficulties which present themselves in the general economy of nature, but