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predominated. Abundance of peace was given him, and with a subdued and gentle spirit he awaited the coming of the chariot. While he desired to reinain a little longer for his family's sake, he was yet constantly ready to mount and ascend. During these days of waiting he experienced unusual pleasure in the society and communications of Christian friends. The preachers were dear to him. The greeting of his Conference, sent a few days before his death, brought tears of joy to his eyes. It was the first time in fifty-eight years he had failed to respond to the roll-call; and now in his absence he read with eager interest each item of the doings, as reported in
But the end was at hand. On the 16th of April, 1888, he arose in unusually good spirits, persnaded that his condition was improved. In this he was entirely mistaken. After a light breakfast he read as usual a chapter in the Bible, and then turned to his paper. After dozing over it for a few moments, his attention was withdrawn as though attracted by a ray of light from the other side. It was the end. Without returning again to consciousness, he passed to the paradise of God. In the presence of his children and friends, final words of consolation were spoken by his ministering brethren, and what was mortal of this eminent servant of God was deposited beside the dust of his wife, amid the unsurpassed beauties of Greenwood, to await the blast of the archangel's trumpet.
So fell and passed from our ranks “ a prince and a great man," one of the greatest, as said Dr. Olin, in the Methodist Church. James Porter owed much to the Conference and the denomination which furnished him an opportunity, a mission, a platform; the Conference and the denomination owe an unceasing debt of gratitude to the great Head of the Church for the loan of a life so long conspicuous, and devoted to such varied and influential service.
ART. V.-RELIGION AND THE LAW OF CONTINUITY.
The existence of matter is continuous. If an atom should disappear from the universe, or if a new atom should appear, we should have in each case a break in the continuity of material existence. We do not expect such a breach to occur.
Phenomena are continuous.* A moving body does not instantaneously change its velocity by a finite amount, since this would require the acting force to be infinite. A cannon ball does not immediately take up its great velocity when the expansive force of the charge is applied, nor does it immediately lose it upon striking the rainpart. It both acquires and loses its rapid inotion by passing in a very short interval of time through the infinite number of intermediate velocities. If it should pass instantaneously from rest to finite motion, or from finite motion to rest, we shonld have an instance of discontinuity in the phenomenon of motion. When chemical reaction occurs between two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen, the transformation into one molecule of water seems to be instantaneous; but doubtless a finite portion of time is required for the reaction, so that the new phenomenon of one molecule grows ont of the old phenomenon of three atoms through an infinite number of successive stages, each of which gives warning of the stage to follow. It would thus seem to be true of all phenomena that there is no break of continuity between the disappearance of the old and the appearance of the new, but that the old is shaded into the new by imperceptible degrees of change, each element of which foreshadows its successor. It is donbtless safe to say that we expect no phenomenon to begin or end abruptly. We expect that it shall neither come nor go without warning, but that it shall be a product of the past and a factor of the future.
Law is continuous. If at any time oxygen and hydrogen should change their combining proportions and unite in equal weights to form water, we should have a break in the continuity, not of existence or of phenomena, but of law. Or if
* The Principles of Science, W. Stanley Jevons, p. 616.
+ Credentials of Science the Warrant of Faith, Josiah P. Cooke, p. 274. [Professor Cooke supposes that crystals may appear without warning.]
at any time gravity should change the direction of its action to one at right angles with the line joining the gravitating particles, we should have another conspicuous breach in the continuity of law. We do not expect such breaches to occur, and we demand that they shall not occur.
Now, we have learned by experience not to expect a break in any of the continuous phases of nature. We expect material existence to continue uninterrupted, however much its forms may change; we expect varying phenomena to pass successively through all the points between the extremes of their variation, and not to go by leaps; and, finally, we expect the laws of the visible universe to be rigidly continuous. pect and demand that the processes of the universe shall, under like conditions, be the same every-where and always. We expect and demand that the state of the universe at any one instant shall be the ontcoine of the state immediately preceding and the forerunner of that immediately following.* We expect the state of the universe at any instant to be both the historian of the preceding instant and the prophet of the one next succeeding, and, consequently, the historian of all the past and the prophet of all the future. Now, we are led to expect and demand all this by virtue of what is known as the law or principle of continuity. La Place has said that a perfect kuowledge of the universe at any one instant would be the key to a perfect knowledge of the universe in all its parts and in all the stages of its duration, past as well as future.t
By the law of continuity, then, is meant the uninterrupted progression of the phenomena of the universe according to the principle that the progression at one point of the universe will, under like circumstances, be the same at any other point; and the progression at any epoch of duration will, under the same circumstances, be the same at any other epoch. This law means the oneness of the universe, both in space and duration, and it demands that every phenomenon shall be related to all other phenomena, whether simultaneons, past, or future. It carries with it what is ordinarily meant by the expression, “the uniformity of nature," and includes, besides, the unbroken flow of the phenomena of the universe in all of its parts and in all stages of its history.* Now this principle of continnity is the foundation of science, for it is the warrant of all induction; and by induction alone does science increase the possibilities of human knowledge. Any system that proceeds in harmony with this law is to that extent scientific; and any system that demands a real breach of the law is necessarily unscientific.
* "Nous devons donc envisager l'état présent de l'univers, comme l'effet de son état antérieur, et comme la cause de celui qui va suivre."— Théorie Analytique des Probabilités, La Place.
7" Une intelligence qui pour un instant donnée connaîtrait toutes les forces dont la Nature est animée, et la situation respective des êtres qui la composent, si d'ailleurs elle était assez vaste pour soumettre ces données a l'analyse, embrasserait, dans la même formule, les mouvemens des plus grands corps de l'univers et ceux du plus léger atome: rien ne serait incertain pour elle, et l'avenir, comme le passé, serait présent a ses yeux."— Théorie Analytique des Probabilités.
It is the purpose of the present article to inquire into the bearing of this law upon the Christian religion, with the view of ascertaining, if possible, whether the Christian system is of necessity unscientific. I do not undertake to inquire whether it is, as a matter of fact, a system of truth; but whether, by necessity, it rests on an nnscientific foandation. In order to avoid unnecessary complications, I shall in this investigation assume the unlimited application of the law to the visible universe, although I am unable to see that the law, as we conceive it, is not apparently violated whenever it encounters the volition of a finite being. It is easy to see that the law can account for the natural bridge of Virginia; but what of the Brooklyn bridge? Nevertheless, since scientific opinion is divided upon the question as to whether volition itself may not be a link in the chain of continuity, I shall leave the entire question of volition out of the account, and proceed on the hypothesis that the principle of continuity is of universal dominion. Let the only limit, then, to the application of the law to the universe in all its parts and in all stages of its duration be our ignorance of what the law and the universe really are.
Let us now proceed to apply the law of continuity to the visible universe, as both the law and the universe seem to us, reinembering that in the present stage of knowledge we can. not reach absolute conclusions. By the visible universe I shall mean the sensible masses distributed through space, such as the sun, planets, stars, comets, and the nebulæ.
* The Correlation of Physical Forces, Grove, 6th ed., p. 181, et seq. The Princi ples of Science, p. 619, et seq.
I. I shall temporarily assume that the masses of the visible universe are finite; that is, that the atoms constituting them are not infinite in number.
1. If the atoms are finite in number, the energy of these masses is, and has always been, finite in quantity. Let us take the most extreme case, and regard these atoms as having fallen from infinity to their present position. We must, therefore, regard them as having been in the act of falling forever. But however far back we go into the past, the potential energy due to the separation of the atoms is rigorously shown by the calculus to have been finite, even though they were originally separated by infinito distances. Therefore, if these atoms have been falling forever, their potential energy has only been diminishing from an original finite limit. The kinetic energy due to the transformation of this finite store of potential energy is, therefore, finite ; and since any assumed original kinetic energy conld not have been infinite--the number of atons being limited the total sum of the energy of the visible universe is, and has always been, finite.
It is a fact beyond question that the visible universe is parting with its energy. The planets are radiating it toward every quarter of the celestial sphere, and only an infinitesimal part is returned by reflection or re-radiation from the orbs of space. The sun himself is radiating energy at an enormons rate, an inappreciable part of which is intercepted by the planets, and a still smaller part of which is returned to his diminished store. What is true of the sun and his planets in this respect is, by the principle of continuity, true of all suns and systems of worlds. The visible universe is, therefore, losing its energy. If it is now losing energy, then, by the law of continuity, the same was true a thousand years ago—a thousand ages agoindeed, the loss must have been going on forever. But though this be true, it does not follow that its energy, even though tinite, could be exhausted in a finite time, since the original rate of transformation of potential energy would have been infinite!; slow. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, mechanics would, therefore, lead us to the conclusion that the visible universe may have had an infinite past,* and the laws of conti
* [Nevertheless, the conditions necessary to such a conclusion, though perhape conceivable, would scarcely seem to be possible.]
55-FIFTH SERIES, VOL. V.