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the results of physical inquiry, with one consent, all point to the existence of recondite principles of arrangement throughout nature, of vast and universal design. Every separate instance of adjustment does this by the evidences it contains within itself. But the wonderful combination and multiplication of such evidence can only be appreciated from the extended comparison of general laws, and the analogies by which those laws are related. This supplies the most powerfully accumulating proof of ordaining Intelligence and Almighty Mind.
The inconceivable minuteness on the one hand, and the immense extent on the other, to which we find these analogies still accurately preserved, are, perhaps, of all other considerations, the most efficacious in impressing us with the notion of the Divine perfections. The unbroken continuation of the same order and analogy, whether throughout time or space, joined with the consideration that all this is but finite, is the reflection which, above every other, must inspire us with the most truly exalted notions of the Divine immensity and eternity. · From such considerations we may, perhaps, better appreciate the real office of inductive philosophy, and the nature of the service it discharges as ministering to the sublime truths of natural theology. The existence of some universal principles of analogy and uniformity is the ground of all inductive science. The tracing out of such analogies through all their actual physical indications, is that which
furnishes the great' argument of natural theology. And we acknowledge that this preservation of uniformity and analogy, (which we have seen supplies the natural preliminary conjecture in all induction,) is, in fact, the very indication of the universal presence and all-pervading energy of the one Divine mind. Thus, then, these momentous and sublime conclusions rest upon a common basis with those of inductive science, and thus invest science with the high sanction of their own sacred character. Established by physical research, they react upon it; they supply the most elevated motive for the prosecution of the study of nature; and the glorious truths which manifest themselves as we proceed, cast back a lustre on the path by which we have advanced, and encourage the endeavour to approach their Eternal source.
So far from any advantage arising to the stability of natural religion, or any augmentation of force to the impressions of natural piety, when nature remains veiled in mystery, and we are compelled ignorance of the modes and laws of her operations, it is, in fact, the very unveiling of those mysteries, the dispersion of that mist of ignorance, the disclosure of the secrets of physical causation, which supply the very proof and defence of the truths of natural theology. The acknowledgment of Supreme power and wisdom, instead of being banished from that portion of nature which we can subject to
inductive investigation, is there pre-eminently established as in its more peculiar sovereignty.
And it is in the very advance from what has been termed “ the region of facts, to that of laws*,” or in other words, from the region of unconnected observation and mystified speculation, into that of clear arrangement and luminous generalization, that we, in proportion, approach towards the worthy conception of the great Source of order, the eternal Cause of all the beauty and harmony of the earth and the heavens. · And the greater the advance made by scientific research in the reduction of the phenomena of the world under definite laws, so much the more firmly will the foundations of real religion be consolidated ; or (to adopt the forcible words of a writert of the present day,) “ Though the atoms of the universe may be weighed and measured, and every seeming accident shall be reduced to order and to rule, the reasons for adoring the Creator, and trusting in him, and obeying him, and for loving our neighbour as ourselves, will only be proportionally multiplied."
The combined powers of physical science, so far from being leagued in the vain attempt to expel the Sovereign of nature from his rightful dominion, on the contrary, are, in truth, firmly allied in the glorious
* Whewell's Bridgewater Treatise, p. 349.
+ Remarks on Demonstrative Reasoning, &c., by the Rev. E. Tagart, p. 127.
purpose of upholding the acknowledgment of his supremacy, and surrounding the throne of Omnipotence with the unceasing homage of the trophies they have achieved.
Natural science may be disparaged by some as the proud creation of human intellect, as beginning in presumption, and ending in irreligion, or at best, withdrawing us from what is spiritual to what is material. If, however, physical philosophy be human reason employed in investigating the material world, though the process may be of human origin, the subject-matter is not. Reason is but the instrument, and induction the art; but the materials are the universal creation. And if science be human, yet nature is divine; and the science of nature is but the rational evidence of God. But even intellect and science are his gifts, and the human mind his workmanship; when, therefore, we are able, by the exercise of these powers, to investigate his works, we are, ourselves, furnishing most recondite proofs of the fitness of his works one to another, and of the adaptation of the intellectual to the material order of things; and are but filling up an essential part in the universal harmony of his creation. When we devote our minds to the study of his works, we are but employing what He has bestowed, in his own service; we are but rendering back his own, it may be hoped “ with increase.”
If there be those who feel a disposition to undervalue inductive inquiry, (in the sense which we have
shown it essentially to bear,) who are inclined to disparage physical investigation, and declaim against the inferences of experience and analogy, and the presumption of reasonings grounded on the uniformity of natural causes; let such persons be persuaded to pause for a moment, and learn caution, by the consideration that in any censure cast upon such trains of inquiry, and such principles of rational speculation, they are, in fact, casting censure on the very elements of the great argument of natural theology. Let them recollect how intimately the one is wound up in the very texture of the other, and avoid the reproach not less of inconsistency than of ignorance, not less of irreligion than of folly, which must attach to those who, under the plea of defending religion, would thus sap the very foundation of its evidences.