« PredošláPokračovať »
N° 543. SATURDAY, NOV. 22, 1712.
Facies non omnibus' una,
OVID. Met. ii. 12.
Similar, though not the same
Those who were skilful in anatomy, among the ancients, concluded, from the outward and inward make of an human body, that it was the work of a Being transcendently wise and powerful. As the world grew more enlightened in this art, their discoveries gave them fresh opportunities of admiring the conduct of Providence in the formation of a human body. Galen was converted by his dissections, and could not but own a Supreme Being upon a survey of this his handy-work. There were, indeed, many parts, of which the old anatomists did not know the certain use; but, as they saw the most of those which they examined were adapted with admirable art to their several functions, they did vot question but those, whose uses they could not determine, were contrived with the same wisdom for respective ends and purposes. Since the circulation of the blood has been found out, and many other great discoveries have been made by our modern anatomists, we see new wonders in the humán frame, and discern several important uses for those parts, which uses the ancients knew nothing of. In short, the body of man is such a subject as stands the utmost test of examination. Though it appears formed with the nicest wisdom, upon the most su
perficial survey of it, it still mends upon the search, and produces our surprise and amazement in proportion as we pry into it. What I have here said of an human body may be applied to the body of every animal which has been the subject of anatomical observations. The body of an animal is an object adequate to
It is a particular system of Providence that lies in a narrow compass. The eye is able to command it, and by successive inquiries can search into all its parts. Could the body of the whole earth, or indeed the whole universe, be thus submitted to the examination of our senses, were it not too big and disproportioned for our inquiries, too unwieldy for the management of the eye and hand, there is no question but it would appear to us as curious and well-contrived a frame as that of the human body. We should see the same concatenation and subserviency, the same necessity and usefulness, the same beauty and harmony, in all and every of its parts, as what we discover in the body of every single animal.
The more extended our reason is, and the more able to grapple with immense objects, the greater still are those discoveries which it makes of wisdom and providence in the works of the creation. A sir Isaac Newton, who stands up as the miracle of the present age, can look through a whole planetary system; consider it in its weight, number and measure; and draw from it as many demonstrations of infinite power and wisdom, as a more confined understanding is able to deduce from the system of an human body.
But to return to our speculations on anatomy, I shall here consider the fabric and texture of the bodies of animals in one particular view: which, in my opinion, shows the hand of a thiuking and allwise Being in their formation, with the evidence of a thousand demonstrations. I think we may lay this down as an incontested principle, that chance never acts in a perpetual uniformity and consistence with itself. If one should always fling the same number with ten thousand dice, or see every throw just five times less, or five times more in number, than the throw which immediately preceded it, who would not imagine there is some invisible power which directs the cast? This is the proceeding which we find in the operations of nature. Every kind of animal is diversified by different magnitudes, each of which gives rise to a different species. Let a man trace the dog or lion kind, and he will observe how many of the works of nature are published, if I may use the expression, in a variety of editions. If we look into the reptile world, or into those different kinds of animals that fill the element of water, we meet with the same repetition among several species, that differ
very little from one another, but in size and bulk. You find the same creature that is drawn at large copied out in several proportions and ending in miniature. It would be tedious to produce instances of this regular conduct in Providence, as it would be superfluous to those who are versed in the natural history of animals. The magnificent harmony of the universe is such that we may observe innumerable divisions running upon the same ground. I might also extend this speculation to the dead parts of nature, in which we inay find matter disposed into many similar systems, as well in our survey of stars and planets as of stones, vegetables, and other sublunary parts of the creation. In a word, Providence has shown the richness of its goodness and wisdom, not onl in the production of many original species, but in the multiplicity of
descants* which it has made on every original species in particular.
But to pursue this thought still farther. Every living creature considered in itself has many very complicated parts that are exact copies of some other parts which it possesses, and which are complicated in the same manner. One eye would have been sufficient for the subsistence and preservation of an animal; but, in order to better his condition, we see another placed with a mathematical exactness in the same most advantageous situation, and in every particular of the same size and texture. Isit possible for chance to be thus delicate and uniform in her operations? Should a million of dice turn up together twice the same number, the wonder would be nothing in comparison with this. But when we see this similitude and resemblance in the arm, the hand, the fingers; when we see one half of the body entirely correspond with the other in all those minute strokes, without which a man might have very well subsisted; nay, when we often see a single part repeated an hundred times in the same body notwithstanding it consists of the most intricate weaving of numberless fibres, and these parts differing still in magnitude, as the convenience of their particular situation requires; sure a man nust have a strange cast of understanding, who does not discover the finger of God in so wonderful a work. These duplicates in those parts of the body, without which a man niight have very well subsisted, though not so well as with them, are a plain demonstration of an all-wise Contriver, as those more numerous copyings which are found among the vessels of the
* Meant perhaps for descents, i. c. progress downwards. JOHNSON.
same body are evident demonstrations that they could not be the work of chance. This argument receives additional strength, if we apply it to every animal and insect within our knowledge, as well as to those numberless living creatures that are objects too minute for an human eye; and if we consider how the several species in this whole world of life resemble one another in very many particulars, so far as is convenient for their respective states of existence, it is much more probable that an hundred millions of dice should be casually thrown an hundred millions of times in the same number, than that the body of any single animal should be produced by the fortuitous concourse of matter. And that the like chance should arise in innumerable instances requires a degree of credulity that is not under the direction of common sense. We may carry this consideration yet further, if we reflect on the two sexes in every living species, with their resemblance to each other, and those particular distinctions that were necessary for the keeping up of this great world of life.
There are many more demonstrations of a Supreme Being, and of his transcendent wisdom, power, and goodness, in the formation of the body of a living creature, for which I refer my reader to other writings, particularly to the sixth book of the poem entitled Creation*, where the anatomy of the human body is described with great perspicuity and elegance. I have been particular on the thought which runs through this speculation, because I have not seen it enlarged upon by others.
* Creation. A poem by sir Richard Blackmore.