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black mud of slow moving rivers, as they crept along toward the ocean betwixt their oozy banks; and we now reach the period when the noblest order of animal life, the class to which man himself belongs, Mammalia, began to people the earth.” In this primeval history of the earth is contained a beautiful illustration of the principle of progressive development; and the thought will be naturally introduced in the mind of the reader, that the series of gradations which are here explained, must tend toward some grand ultimate, which may be viewed as representing the use and design of creation. The same law of progress which develops the vegetable from the mineral production, also developed the animal from the vegetable; and the same law is likewise sufficient to unfold Man from the inferior orders of being. Hence, as the rock, the plant, or the animal were not separate and independent creations, but were the result of a natural development of the earth, so Man himself was not formed out of the dust of the ground by the special action of the Creator, but was an ultimate form, standing on the lofty pyramid of being, toward which all other forms are aspiring, and with which they are all in some degree connected. Nature thus presents a vast and mighty scale, in which all the variety of unfolding forms are caused to occupy an appropriate position; and in this scale the soul may behold the wonders of that Wisdom, which, in a ceaseless and harmonious spiral ascension, bears all forms and beings toward the pure atmosphere of the Divinity. The design of this volume does not include a specific and detailed account of the creation of Man; but enough has already been said to disclose the true principles which were involved in his development. If Deity did not stretch forth his hand, or issue a special mandate, to create the minerals of the earth, the flowers of the field, or the various animals that inhabit the land and sea, then we have no reason to conclude that He exercised any miraculous power, or, to be explicit, a power which is above the laws of Nature, in the creation of Man. Neither does the existence of Man on the earth present in itself any more a miracle, than the existence of any inferior being ; and it is as easy to conceive that he forms the ultimate link in the chain of development, as that other beings of less exalted nature are intermediate links in this chain. It is admitted that Man is possessed of glorious and godlike powers— that he occupies a position far superior to the brute, and has within him a principle of intelligence which claims a relation with the Divine Mind. But this admission does not destroy the connection which must subsist between him and all the lower orders of creation—it does not place him aside from, or make him independent of the regular and systematic unfoldings of Nature; but it rather shows that in him is contained the final embodiment of material elements, and the divine expression of their interior life. Man is in himself a miniature universe; the forces, essences, and elements which made the worlds, are all concentrated in his perfected constitution, and in his birth upon this planet was exemplified the same general principles which primarily gave form and being to the suns and systems of space. The constitution of the existing Universe reveals the established order of its unfolding. There is an ineffaceable impression of the original Power in all the variety of material forms, and a record of the degrees and states of being through which
they have passed, has been written in unmistakable characters on the bosom of the wide-spread Creation. And the one great lesson taught in all things is that of progressive development. Forms which have arisen from chaos to a state of beauty and perfection, have left their marks on the upward pathway along which they came, and they manifest their relations to, and dependence upon, all the inferior grades and states of being. The mind may therefore perceive in the chain of connection which binds the Universe in one grand structure, the innumerable and unbroken links of unfolding, which were necessary to make this chain complete. Suns, planets, and satellites—minerals, plants, and animals—motion, life, sensation, and intelligence, all display, in their several progressive spheres, the systematic gradations of refinement through which all matter has been carried. Accordingly it is found that these gradations, existing now as the evidence of primary unfoldings, form the parts of a vast and almost incomprehensible system, each of which is essential to the harmony and perfection of the whole. To use the language of a true philosopher, “From Nature's chain whatever link you strike, Tenth or ten thousandth breaks the chain alike; And if each system in gradation roll, Alike essential to the amazing whole, The least confusion but in one, not all That system only, but the whole must fall. Let earth unbalanced from her orbit fly, Planets and suns run lawless through the sky; Let ruling angels from their spheres be hurled, Being on being wrecked, and world on world, Heaven's whole foundations to its center nod, And Nature trembles to the throne of God.”
Now to suppose that the several departments of the cosmical structure were special and independent creations, would involve no necesssity for concluding that there exists between them any necessary connection or dependence; but if these are regarded, as they should be, as so many successive developments of matter, having been created gradually in a progressive order, then it will be easy to appreciate the fact which really exists, that they are all united in one indissoluble chain of being. Hence, according to the evidence presented in the settled order of Nature and in the relation which subsists between its various departments, it will be wise to recognize in all surrounding creations the erection of one ascending scale, that reaches from the gross earth to the summit where Man is seated on his throne of power. How perfect, how harmonious, and how divine are all the arrangements of the Universal Temple ! Sweet breathings from the Soul of All, are diffused and expanded through every particle of the material world; and the power of the attraction which dwells therein, leads upward and forward the great multitude of living and unliving forms, in the direction of that end in the human body which corresponds with the beginning in the Eternal Soul. Creation is but one continued series of progressive developments, extending thus from the Divine Brain to the germ of the human being, and all the intermediate gradations in this series are so many necessary steps, without which the end could never be attained. In all that is below Man may be viewed the essential parts which were employed in the formation of his complete organism. Every thing manifests an aspiration to attain the position which he occupies, and all look up to him as the crowning work, in which the
outbreathing love, will, and wisdom of God have found their finite embodiment. And is there not here a key which will unlock the mysteries of creation? By understanding the principle of progressive development, and by comprehending the end toward which that development tends, may we not discern the law, the use and purpose of all existences? Yes. The true philosopher needs only this general basis, in order to descend into the vailed regions of the great Arcana, and unravel the secrets which have been long buried in its depths.
In the light of such views, the philosophy of creation is disrobed of the mists and shadows of mythological theories, and stands forth in the beautiful sunlight of eternal Truth. The conclusions arrived at, though they are not consistent with the long-cherished opinions of theologians, are to be regarded as the legitimate results of a rational investigation into the principles and revelations of Nature. Reasoning from the existing effects which are every where apparent in the Universe, the mind is capable of taking an analogical, if not a direct view of the causes that were originally in operation. It is true that it can not comprehend all which is embraced in the stupendous work of God, since to do this would require a power equal to that of Omniscience itself. Indeed the subject embraces a field of thought which is illimitable in extent, and may never be entirely explored by the human mind. Yet moved by the inspiration which is ever flowing down from the spiritual heavens, the seeking soul may enjoy sublime and expanded contemplations in relation to the origin, constitution, and laws of the mighty structure of Creation, and attain to a perception of beautiful and exalted truths which are interwoven with the very elements of existing things. There is no more