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Fables of Infidelity and Facts of Faith - Being an Examination of the Evidences of Infidelity
by Robert Patterson
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Sir John Herschel, than whom none has a better right to speak on this subject, and whose devotion to that noble science precludes all supposition of prejudice against it, devotes a chapter to The Errors of Astronomy,[333] which he classifies and enumerates:

"I. External causes of error, comprehending such as depend on external uncontrollable circumstances; such as fluctuations of weather, which disturb the amount of refraction from its tabulated value, and being reducible to no fixed laws, induce uncertainty to the amount of their own possible magnitude.

"II. Errors of observation; such as arise for instance from inexpertness, defective vision, slowness in seizing the exact instant of the occurrence of a phenomenon, or precipitancy in anticipating it; from atmospheric indistinctness, insufficient optical power in the instrument, and the like.

"III. The third, and by far the most numerous class of errors, arise from causes which may be deemed instrumental, and which may be divided into two classes.

"The first arises from an instrument not being what it professes to be, which is error of workmanship. Thus if an axis or pivot, instead of being as it ought, exactly cylindrical, be slightly flattened or elliptical—if it be not exactly concentric with the circle which it carries—if this circle so called be in reality not exactly circular—or not in one plane—if its divisions, intended to be precisely equidistant, shall be in reality at unequal intervals—and a hundred other things of the same sort.

"The other subdivision of instrumental errors comprehends such as arise from an instrument not being placed in the position it ought to have; and from those of its parts which are made purposely movable not being properly disposed, inter se. These are errors of adjustment. Some are unavoidable, as they arise from a general unsteadiness of the soil or building in which the instruments are placed.[334] Others again are consequences of imperfect workmanship; as when an instrument, once well adjusted, will not remain so. But the most important of this class of errors arise from the non-existence of natural indications other than those afforded by astronomical observations themselves, whether an instrument has, or has not, the exact position with respect to the horizon, and the cardinal points, etc., which it ought to have, properly to fulfill its object.

"Now, with regard to the first two classes of error, it must be observed, that in so far as they can not be reduced to known laws, and thereby become the subjects of calculation and due allowance, they actually vitiate in their full extent the results of any observations in which they subsist. With regard to errors of adjustment, not only the possibility, but the certainty of their existence in every imaginable form, in all instruments, must be contemplated. Human hands or machines never formed a circle, drew a straight line, or executed a perpendicular, nor ever placed an instrument in perfect adjustment, unless accidentally, and then only during an instant of time."

The bearing of these important and candid admissions of error in astronomical observations upon all kinds of other observations made by mortal eyes, and with instruments framed by human hands, in every department of science, is obvious. No philosophical observation or experiment is absolutely accurate, or can possibly be more than tolerably near the truth. The error of a thousandth part of an inch in an instrument will multiply itself into thousands, and millions of miles, according to the distance of the object, or the profundity of the calculation. Our faith in the absolute infallibility of scientific observers, and consequently in the absolute certainty of science, being thus rudely upheaved from its very foundations by Sir John Herschel's crowbar, we are prepared to learn that scientific men have made errors great and numerous.

To begin at home, with our own little globe, where certainty is much more attainable than among distant stars, we have seen that astronomers of the very highest rank are by no means agreed as to its diameter. Its precise form is equally difficult to determine. Newton showed that an ellipsoid of revolution should differ from a sphere by a compression of 1/230. The mean of a number of varying measurements of arcs, in five different places, would give 1/299. The pendulum measurement differs very considerably from both, and "no two sets of pendulum experiments give the same result."[335] The same liability to error, and uncertainty of the actual truth, attends the other modes of ascertaining this fundamental measurement. A very small error here will vitiate all other astronomical calculations; for the earth's radius, and the radius of its orbit, are the foot-rule and surveyor's chain with which the astronomer measures the heavens. But this last and most used standard is uncertain; and of the nine different estimates, it is certain that eight must be wrong; and probably that all are erroneous. For example, Encke, in 1761, gives the earth's distance from the sun at

95,141,830 Encke, in 1769, 95,820,610 Lacaille, 76,927,900 Henderson, 90,164,110 Gillies and Gould, 96,160,000 Mayer, 104,097,100 Le Verrier, 91,066,350 Sir John Herschel, 91,718,000 Humboldt, 82,728,000[336]

Here now is the fundamental standard measure of astronomy; and nine first-class astronomers are set to determine its length; but their measurements range all the way from seventy-seven to one hundred and four millions of miles—a difference of nearly one-fourth. Why the old-fashioned finger and thumb measure used before the carpenter's two-foot rule was invented never made such discrepancies; it could always make a foot within an inch more or less; but our scientific measurers, it seems, can not guess within two inches on the foot.

Their smaller measurements are equally inaccurate. Lias says the Aurora Borealis is only two and a half miles high; Hood and Richardson make its height double that, or five miles; Olmsted and Twining run it up to forty-two, one hundred, and one hundred and sixty miles![337] When they are thus inaccurate in the measurement of a phenomenon so near the earth, how can we believe in the infallibility of their measurements of the distances of the stars and the nebulae in the distant heavens?

The moon is the nearest to us of all the heavenly bodies, and exercises the greatest influence of any, save the sun, upon our crops, ships, health and lives, and consequently has had a larger share of astronomical attention than any other celestial body. But the most conflicting statements are made by astronomers regarding her state and influences. There is no end to the controversy whether the moon influences the weather; though one would think that question, being rather a terrestrial one, could easily be decided. Schwabe says Herschel is wrong in saying that the years of most solar spots were fruitful; but Wolf looks up the Zurich meteorological tables, and confirms Herschel.

In Ferguson's Astronomy, the standard text-book of its day, we are informed that "Some of her mountains (the moon's) by comparing their height with her diameter, are found to be three times higher than the highest hills on earth." They would thus be over fifteen miles high. But Sir Wm. Herschel assures us that "The generality do not exceed half a mile in their general elevation." Transactions of the Royal Society, May 11, 1780. Beer and Madler have measured thirty-nine whose height they assure us exceed Mont Blanc. But M. Gussew, of the Imperial Observatory at Wilna, describes to us, "a mountain mass in the form of a meniscus lens, rising in the middle to a height of seventy-nine English miles."[338] As this makes the moon lopsided, with the heavy side toward the earth, the question of an atmosphere, and of the moon's inhabitability is reopened; and the discussion seems to favor the man in the moon; only he keeps on the other side always, so that we can not see him.

The best astronomers have gravely calculated the most absurd problems—for instance the projection of meteorites from lunar volcanoes; Poisson calculated that they would require an initial velocity of projection of seven thousand nine hundred and ninety-five feet per second; others demanded eight thousand two hundred and eighty-two; Olbers demanded fourteen times as much; but La Place, the great inventor of the nebular theory, after thirty years' study fixed it definitely at seven thousand eight hundred and sixty-two! It appears that the absurdity of the discharging force of a part greater than the attracting force of the whole never occurred to him.[339]

This same La Place supposed, that he could have placed the moon in a much better position for giving light than she now occupies; and that this was the only object of her existence. As this was not done he argued that her waxing and waning light was a proof that she was not located by an Omniscient Creator. He says he would have placed her in the beginning in opposition to the sun, in the plane of the ecliptic, and about four times her present distance from us, with such a motion as would ever maintain that position, thus securing full moon from sunset to sunrise, without possibility of eclipse. But Lionville demonstrates that "if the moon had occupied at the beginning the position assigned her, by the illustrious author of the Mecanique Celeste, she could not have maintained it but a very short time."[340] In short, La Place's hypothetical calculations generally have proved erroneous when applied to any existing facts; and we have no reason to attach more value to his nebular theory calculations.

The sun is the principal orb of our system, and by far the most conspicuous, and the most observed of all observers, astronomers included. But we have seen already how contradictory their measurements of his distance, and their observations of the influence of his spots. Far more conflicting are the theories as to his constitution, of which indeed we may truly say very little was known before the application of photography and the spectroscope to heliography within the last seven years. One astronomer fixed the period of his rotation at twenty-five days, fourteen hours, and eight minutes; another at twenty-six days, forty-six minutes; another at twenty-four days, twenty-eight minutes.[341]

In regard to the sun's heat, a matter fundamental to the nebular theory, the calculations differ widely, and some of them must be grossly erroneous. M. Vicaire called the attention of the French Academy, at a recent meeting, to this unsatisfactory condition of science. Father Secchi estimates it at eighteen million Fahrenheit; while Pouillet says it ranges from two thousand six hundred and sixty-two to three thousand two hundred and one; and others range from two hundred thousand downward. The most singular thing is that these results are derived from observations or radiations made by apparatus identical in principle.[342] But Waterston calculates the temperature of the solar surface at above ten, and probably twelve million Fahrenheit.[343]

Now what feeds these enormous fires? The old opinion of astronomy, that the sun was a mass of fire, was assailed by Sir Wm. Herschel, who maintained that it was in the condition of a perpetual magnetic storm. This notion was altered into the belief of a central dark body, surrounded by a stratum of clouds, outside of which is a photosphere of light and heat; which some made one thousand five hundred miles in depth, others four thousand. Outside of this was another layer of rose-colored clouds. To this theory Arago, Sir John Herschel and Humboldt assented. But Le Verrier declares that the facts observed during late eclipses are contrary to this theory, and a new theory is slow in process of construction, to be demolished in its turn by later observations.[344]

One of the most recent theories is that the fuel is furnished by a stream of meteorites, planetoids, and comets, falling in by the power of attraction, and being speedily converted into gas flames; a process the very reverse of the theory of the evolution of the solid celestial bodies from gas. But it is pretty evident from these conflicting theories that nobody knows anything certainly as to the materials of the sun, or the fuel which feeds his flames. But if the very best astronomers do not know of what he is made, is it not too great a demand upon our credulity to ask us to believe that they can tell how he was made?

The size, density, and distances of the planets, which form such essential elements in the calculations of the nebular theory of evolution, are equally uncertain. Ten or twelve years ago Mercury was believed to be nearly three times as dense as the earth (2.94); and the theory of evolution was partly based upon this assumed fact. But Hausen now finds that it is not half so dense; that, as compared with the earth, it is only 1.22; and that its mass is less than half (5/12) of what had been confidently calculated.[345] Corrections of the masses and densities of other planets are also offered.

Still wider differences prevail in calculating the velocities of these bodies; velocities calculated and found to correspond with the theory of evolution. Bianchini gives the period of the rotation of Venus at twenty-four days, eight hours; but Schroeter says it is not as many hours as Bianchini gives days; that it is only twenty-three hours and twenty minutes. Sir Wm. Herschel can not tell which is right, or whether both are wrong.[346]

From such imperfect and erroneous calculations astronomers have deduced what they called a law, which holds the same place in nature that the Blue Laws of Connecticut maintain in history; and which like them have imposed upon the credulous. Titius and Bode imagined that they had discovered that, "When the distances of the planets are examined, it is found that they are almost all removed from each other by distances which are in the same proportion as their magnitudes increase." And this law played an important part in introducing the theory of evolution, which, it was alleged, exactly corresponded with such an arrangement. But more accurate calculations and recent discoveries have dissipated the supposed order of progression. Humboldt says of it, it is "a law which scarcely deserves this name, and which is called by Lalande and Delambre a play of numbers; by others a help for the memory. * * * In reality the distances between Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus approximate very closely to the duplication. Nevertheless, since the discovery of Neptune, which is much too near Uranus, the defectiveness in the progression has become strikingly evident." And Olbers rejects it, as "contrary to the nature of all truths which merit the name of laws; it agrees only approximately with observed facts in the case of most planets, and what does not appear to have been once observed, not at all in the case of Mercury. It is evident that the series, 4, 4+3, 4+6, 4+12, 4+48, 4+96, 4+192, with which the distances should correspond, is not a continuous series at all. The number which precedes 4+3 should not be 4; i. e., 4+0, but 4+3/2. Therefore between 4 and 4+3 there should be an infinite number, or as Wurm expresses it, for n=1, there is obtained from 4+2^{n-2}.3; not 4, but 5-1/2."[347] Thus this so-called law is erroneous in both ends, and defective in the middle. Finally it has been utterly abolished by the discovery of the planet Vulcan, which does not correspond to any such law.[348] If the theory of evolution then corresponds to Bode's law, as its advocates alleged, it corresponds to a myth.

About the nebulae which have played so large a part in the atheistic world building, our astronomers are utterly at variance. Sir John Herschel says they are far away beyond the stars in space. But the Melbourne astronomer, M. Le Seur, suggests that the star Eta and the nebulous matter are neighbors; that the nebulous matter formerly around it, which has recently disappeared, while the star has blazed up into flames, is being absorbed and digested by the star. This has happened before, thirty years ago, to that star. Why may not our sun also absorb and burn up nebulae. But if so, what becomes of the rings of the nebular theory?

The light of the stars is almost the only medium through which we can observe them, and it would naturally be supposed that astronomers would be at pains to have clear views of light. But the most surprising differences of statement regarding it exist among the very first astronomers. They do not see it alike. Herschel says a Herculis is red; Struve says it is yellow. They dispute about its nature, motion, and quantity. Some astronomers believe the sun to be the great source of light, at least to our system. But Nasmyth informs the Royal Astronomical Society that "the true source of latent light is not in the solar orb, but in space itself, and that the grand function of the sun is to act as an agent for the bringing forth into existence the luciferous element, which element I suppose to be diffused throughout the boundless regions of space."[349] The nature of light is however still as great a mystery as when Job demanded, "Where is the way where light dwelleth?" The undulatory theory of light, now generally accepted, assumes that light is caused by the vibrations of the ether in a plane transverse to the direction of propagation. In order to transmit motions of this kind, the parts of the luminiferous medium must resist compression and distortion, like those of an elastic solid body; its transverse elasticity being great enough to transmit one of the most powerful kinds of physical energy, with a speed in comparison with which that of the swiftest planets of our system is inappreciable, and its longitudinal elasticity immensely greater—both of these elasticities being at the same time so weak as to offer no perceptible resistance to the motion of the planets, and other visible bodies.[350] Is the velocity of light uniform? Or, if variable, is the variation caused by the original difference of the projectile force of the different suns, stars, comets, etc.? or by the different media through which it passes? Arago alleges that light moves more rapidly through water than through air; but Brequet asserts that the fact is just the reverse.[351] Both admit that its velocity varies with the medium. Jacobs alleges that during the trigonometrical survey of India he observed the extinction of light reflected through sixty miles of horizontal atmosphere.[352] How, then, can astronomers make any reliable calculations of the velocity of light reaching us through regions of space filled with unknown media? Newton calculated the velocity of light at one hundred and fifty-five thousand five hundred and fifty-five and five-ninth miles a second; but Encke shows he erred thirty per cent. Other eminent astronomers make the time of the passage of light from the sun all the way from eleven to fourteen minutes, instead of Newton's seven or eight. Busch reckons its velocity at one hundred and sixty-seven thousand nine hundred and seventy-six miles; Draper one hundred and ninety-two thousand; Struve two hundred and fifteen thousand eight hundred and fifty-four. Wheatstone alleges that electric light travels at the rate of two hundred and eighty-eight thousand miles a second; but Frizeau's calculations and measurements give only one hundred and sixty-seven thousand five hundred and twenty-eight for the light of Oxygen and hydrogen.[353] Thus we have a variation of one hundred and twenty thousand miles a second in all calculations of sidereal distances. Humboldt tries to reconcile these differences by the suggestion, that no one will deny, that lights of different magnetic or electric processes may have different velocities; a fact which throws all sidereal astronomy into inextricable confusion, and sets aside all existing time tables on sidereal railroads.

They are no more agreed as to its composition after it reaches us than as to its velocity. Newton taught that it consisted of seven colors; Wallaston denies more than four; Brewster reduces the number to three—red, yellow, and blue. Newton measures the yellow and violet, and finds them as forty to eighty. Fraunhofer makes the proportion twenty-seven to one hundred and nine. Wallaston's spectrum differs from both. Field says, "No one has ventured to alter either estimate, and no one who is familiar with the spectrum will put much faith in any measurement of it, by whosoever and with what care soever made."[354] He says white light is composed of five parts red, three yellow, and eight blue; which differs wholly from Brewster, who gives it three parts red, five yellow, and two of blue.

Equally wild are their calculations of the quantity of light emitted by particular stars. Radeau calculates Vulcan's light at 2.25 that of Mercury; Lias, from the same observations, at 7.36, nearly three times as much.[355] Sir John Herschel calculates that Alpha Centauri emits more light than the sun; that the light of Sirius is four times as great, and its parallax much less; so that by such a calculation Sirius would have an intrinsic splendor sixty-three times that of the sun. But Wallaston only calculates his light at one-fourth of this amount; and Steinheil makes it only one two-hundredth part of the former estimate.[356]

Astronomers have lately been comforting the world with the assurance that we have little to fear from comets; that the superstitious fear of the comets prevalent in the past was ill founded, because comets are so very thin that we might pass through one without its breaking up anything. But that, as Principal Leitch shows us, is not the only question. "We know that the most deadly miasmata are so subtle that it is impossible to detect them by any chemical tests, and a very homeopathic dose of a comet, in addition to the elements of our own atmosphere, might produce the most fatal effects."[357]

The phenomena indicative of cosmical processes are out of the range of astronomical observation. We can only observe those indicated by light, and gravitation; but how small a proportion of the formative processes of our own world indicate themselves by these two classes of phenomena! How few of the chemical, vegetative, animal, moral, social, or even geological processes, now progressing under our own observation, could give us notice of their existence by the two channels of light and gravitation? How, then, can philosophers ever learn the process of building worlds like our own in which many other powers are at work?

Astronomers are not all agreed as to the existence of a cosmical ether; nor do those who assert it agree as to its properties. What is its nature, density, power of refraction and reflection of light, and resistance to motion? What is its temperature? Is it uniform, or like our atmosphere, ever varying? These are manifestly questions indispensable to be answered before any theory of the development of worlds is even conceivable. But of the properties of this all-extending cosmical atmosphere, which is the very breath of life of the development theory, astronomers present the most conflicting statements. Professor Vaughan says, "If such a body exists, it is beyond our estimation of all that is material. It has no weight, according to our idea of weight; no resistance, according to our idea of calculating resistance by mechanical tests; no volume, on our views of volume; no chemical activity, according to our experimental and absolute knowledge of chemical action. In plain terms, it presents no known re-agency by which it can be isolated from surrounding or intervening matter."[358] Or, in plainer terms, we know nothing about it.

The only fact about it which astronomers have ventured to specify and calculate is its temperature; for upon this all the power of the development world-making process depends. But they are very far from any agreement; indeed, they are much farther apart than the equator from the poles. Stanley finds the temperature of absolute space—58 deg.; Arago—70 deg.; Humboldt—85 deg.; Herschel—132 deg.; Saigey—107 deg.; Pouillet, to be exact to a fraction—223-6/10 deg. below the freezing point; though when it gets to be so cold as that one would think he would hardly stay out of doors to measure fractions of a degree. But Poisson thinks he is over 200 deg. too cold, and fixes the temperature accurately, in his own opinion, 8-6/10 deg.. Moreover, he alleges that there is no more uniformity in the temperature of the heavens than in that of our own atmosphere, owing to the unequal radiations of heat from the stars; and that the earth, and the whole solar system, receive their internal heat from without, while passing through hot regions of space.[359]

From this chaos of conflicting assertions of unknown facts the theory of development develops itself. Its fundamental postulate is the difference of temperature between the nebulae and the surrounding space. But the fact is that nobody knows what is the temperature of either space or nebulae, nor is anybody likely ever to know enough of either to base any scientific theory upon. Astronomy will never teach men how to make worlds; nor is it of the least consequence that it does not; since we could not make them, even if we knew how.

From these specimens of the errors and contradictions of the best astronomers, the teachers upon whose accuracy we depend for our faith in science, we can see, that though the Pope and the Infidel savans may claim infallibility, yet after all the savant is just as infallible as the Pope, viz: he is right when he is right, and he is wrong when he is wrong, and that happens frequently and common folks can not always tell when. There is no such thing, then, as infallible science upon faith, in which I can venture to reject God's Bible, and risk my soul's salvation. Science is founded on faith in very fallible men.

3. Geology, one of the most recent of the sciences, and in the hands of Infidel nurses one of the most noisy, has been supposed to be anti-Christian. The supposition is utterly unfounded. Such of its facts as have been well ascertained have demonstrated the being, wisdom, and goodness of an Almighty Creator, with irresistible evidence. Nor, though a wonderful outcry has been raised about the opposition between the records of the rocks and the records of the Bible, regarding the antiquity of the earth, has any one yet succeeded in proving such an opposition, for the plain reason that neither the Bible nor geology says how old it is. They both say it is very old. The Bible says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth;" and by the use which it makes of the word beginning, leaves us to infer that it was long before the existence of the human race.[360] If the geologist could prove that the earth was six thousand millions of years older than Adam, it would contradict no statement of the Bible. The Bible reader, therefore, has no reason to question any well ascertained fact of geology. But when Infidels come to us with their geological theories about the mode in which God made the earth, or in which the earth made itself, and how long it took to do it, and tell us that they have got scientific demonstration from the rocks that the Bible account is false, and that our old traditions can not stand before the irresistible evidence of science, we are surely bound to look at the foundation of facts, and the logical superstructure, which sustain such startling conclusions.

Now it is remarkable that every Infidel argument against the statements of the Bible, or rather against what they suppose to be the statements of the Bible, is based, not on the facts, but upon the theories, of geology. I do not know one which is based solely on facts and inductions from facts. Every one of them has a wooden leg, and goes hobbling upon an if.

Take for example the argument most commonly used—that which asserts the vast antiquity of the earth—a thing in itself every way likely, and not at all contrary to Scripture, if it could be scientifically proved. But how does our Infidel geologist set about his work of proving that the earth is any given age, say six thousand millions of years? A scientific demonstration must rest upon facts—well ascertained facts. It admits of no suppositions. Now what are the facts given to solve the problem of the earth's age? The geologist finds a great many layers of rocks, one above the other, evidently formed below the water, some of them out of the fragments of former rocks, containing bones, shells, and casts of fishes, and tracks of the feet of birds, made when these rocks were in the state of soft mud, and altogether several miles thick. He has a great multitude of such facts before him, but they are all of this character. Not one of them gives him the element of time. They announce to him a succession of events, such as successive generations of fishes and plants; but not one of them tells how long these generations lived. The condition of the world was so utterly different then, from what it is now, that no inference can be drawn from the length of the lives of existing races, which are generally also of different species. The utmost any man can say, in such a case, is, I suppose, for there is no determinate element of time in the statement of the problems, and so no certain time can appear in the solution.

Here is a problem exactly similar. A certain house is found to be built with ten courses of hewn stone in the basement, forty courses of brick in the first story, thirty-six courses in the second, thirty-two in the third; with a roof of nine inch rafters covered with inch boards, and an inch and a half layer of coal tar and gravel; how long was it in building? Would not any school-boy laugh at the absurdity of attempting such a problem? He would say, "How can I tell unless I know whence the materials came, how they were conveyed, how many workmen were employed, and how much each could do in a day? If the brick had to be made by hand, the lumber all dressed with the hand-saw and jack-plane, the materials all hauled fifty miles in an ox-cart, the brick carried up by an Irishman in a hod, and the work done by an old, slow-going, jobbing contractor, who could only afford to pay three or four men at a time, they would not get through in a year. But if the building stone and sand were found in excavating the cellar, if the brick were made by steam and came by railroad, a good master builder, with steam saw and planing mills, steam hoists, and a strong force of workmen, would run it up in three weeks."

So our geologist ought to say; "I do not know either the source of the materials of the earth's strata, nor the means by which they were conveyed to their present positions; therefore I can not tell the time required for their formation. If the crust of the earth was created originally of solid granite, and the materials of the strata were ground down by the slow action of frost and rain, and conveyed to the ocean by the still slower agencies of rivers and torrents—hundreds of millions of ages would not effect the work. But if the earth was created in such a shape as would rationally be considered the best adapted for future stratification; if its crust consisted of the various elements of which granite and other rocks are composed; if these materials were ejected in a granular or comminuted form, and in vast quantities by submarine volcanoes generated by the chemical action of these elements upon each other; and if, after being diffused by the currents of the ocean, and consolidated by its vast pressure, the underlying strata were baked and melted and crystallized into granite[361]—a very few centuries would suffice. Until these indispensable preliminaries are settled, geology can make no calculations of the length of time occupied by the formation of the strata."

But instead of saying so, he imagines that God chose to make the earth out of the most impossible materials, by the most unsuitable agencies, and with the most inadequate forces; and that therefore a long time was needed for the work. In short, to revert to our illustration of the house-building, he supposes that Almighty God built the earth with the ox-team, and employed only the same force in erecting the building, which he now uses for doing little jobbing repairs. Almost all geological computations of time are made upon the supposition that only the same agents were at work then which we see now, that they only wrought with the same degree of force, and that they produced just the same effects in such a widely different condition of the earth as then prevailed. It takes a year say to deposit mud enough at the bottom of the sea to make an inch of rock now; and if mud was deposited no faster when the geological strata were formed, they are as many years old as there are inches in eight or nine miles depth of strata. But this is not the scientific proof we were promised. How does he prove that mud was deposited at just the same rate then as now? The very utmost he can say is that it is a very probable supposition. I can prove it a very improbable supposition. But it is enough for my present purpose to point out that, probable or improbable, it is only supposition. No proof is given or can possibly be given for it. Any conclusion drawn from such premises can be only a supposition too. And so the whole fabric of geological chronology, upon the stability of which so many Infidels are risking the salvation of their souls, and beneath which they are boasting that they will bury the Bible beyond the possibility of a resurrection, vanishes into a mere unproved notion, based upon an if.

It is truly astonishing, that any sober-minded person should allow himself to be shaken in his religious convictions by the alleged results of a science so unformed and imperfect, as geologists themselves acknowledge their favorite science to be. "The dry land upon our globe occupies only one-fourth of its whole superficies. All the rest is sea. How much of this fourth part have geologists been able to examine? and how small seems to be the area of stratification which they have explored? We venture to say not one fiftieth part of the whole."[362] "Abstract or speculative geology, were it a perfect science, would present a history of the globe from its origin and formation, through all the changes it has undergone, up to the present time; describing its external appearance, its plants and animals at each successive period. As yet, geology is the mere aim to arrive at such knowledge; and when we consider how difficult it is to trace the history of a nation, even over a few centuries, we can not be surprised at the small progress geologists have made in tracing the history of the earth through the lapse of ages. To ascertain the history of a nation possessed of written records is comparatively easy; but when these are wanting, we must examine the ruins of their cities and monuments, and judge of them as a people from the size and structure of their buildings, and from the remains of art found in them. This is often a perplexing, always an arduous task; much more so is it to decipher the earth's history."[363] "The canoes, for example, and stone hatchets found in our peat bogs afford an insight into the rude arts and manners of the earliest inhabitants of our island; the buried coin fixes the date of some Roman emperor; the ancient encampments indicate the districts once occupied by invading armies, and the former method of constructing military defenses; the Egyptian mummies throw light on the art of embalming, the rites of sepulture, or the average stature of ancient Egypt. This class of memorials yields to no other in authenticity, but it constitutes a small part only of the resources on which the historian relies; whereas in geology it forms the only kind of evidence which is at our command. For this reason we must not expect to obtain a full and connected account of any series of events beyond the reach of history."[364] "There are no calculations more doubtful than those of the geologist."[365] In fact, no truly scientific geologist pretends that it stands on the same level with any authentic history, much less with the Bible record; inasmuch as the discovery of a single new fact may overturn the whole theory. "It furnishes us with no clew by which to unravel the unapproachable mysteries of creation. These mysteries belong to the wondrous Creator, and to him only. We attempt to theorize upon them, and to reduce them to law, and all nature rises up against us in our presumptuous rebellion. A stray splinter of cone bearing wood—a fish's skull or tooth—the vertebra of a reptile—the humerus of a bird—the jaw of a quadruped—all, any of these things, weak and insignificant as they may seem, become in such a quarrel too strong for us and our theory—the puny fragment in the grasp of truth forms as irresistible a weapon as the dry bone did in that of Samson of old; and our slaughtered sophisms lie piled up, 'heaps upon heaps,' before it."[366]

The history of the progress of geology furnishes abundant proof of the truth of these admissions of weakness and fallibility. In almost every instance when we have had the opportunity of testing geological calculations of time they have proved to be erroneous; and sometimes grossly erroneous. The lake dwellings of Switzerland, which were once alleged to be at least fifteen thousand years old, are found surrounded by heaps of burnt corn; illustrating Caesar's account of the burning of their corn by the Helvetians, preparatory to the invasion of Gaul, which he repelled. The peat bogs of Denmark, surrounding stumps of oak, beech, and pine, claimed to be successive growths, and at least twelve thousand five hundred years old, have been compared with a piece of primeval bog and forest, on the Earl of Arran's estate, in Scotland, which corresponds perfectly to the Danish bog; but which shows the three growths not successive, but contemporaneous, at different levels; the bog growing as well as the trees. And the frequent discovery of Danish remains of the stone and bronze ages in the old Danish forts and battle-fields of Ireland fixes their historical period at the era of the Danish invasion; some of these stone and bronze weapons being found on the battle-field of Clontarf, dating A. D. 827. Skeletons of warriors with gold collars, bronze battle-axes, and flint arrow heads are quite common in the Irish bogs. The absence of iron, on which so great a theory of the stone, bronze, and iron ages as successive developments of civilization has been raised, is easily accounted for by the perishable nature of iron when exposed to moisture. But that this Celtic race used iron also, as well as bronze and stone, is proved incontestably by the discovery, in 1863, of the slag of their iron furnaces, among a number of flint weapons, and Celtic skulls, at Linhope, in Northumberland; the iron itself having perished by rust.[367] The pottery, glass, and handmills found beside these skulls show that their owners were by no means the degraded savages supposed to represent the so-called stone age.

Horner's Nile pottery, discovered at a depth of sixty feet, and calculated to be twelve thousand years old, and fragments found still deeper in this deposit, and calculated at thirty thousand years, were found to be underlaid by still deeper layers, producing Roman pottery; and in the deepest boring of all, at the foot of the statue of Rameses II., the discovery of the Grecian honeysuckle, marked on some of these mysterious fragments, which they had claimed as pre-historic, proved that it could not be older than the Greek conquest of Egypt. Sir Robert Stephenson found in the neighborhood of Damietta, at a greater depth than Mr. Horner reached, a brick bearing the stamp of Mohammed Ali.[368] The shifting currents of all rivers flowing through alluvial deposits bury such things in a single season of high water.

The raised beaches of Scotland are quite conspicuous geological features of the Highlands, and have furnished themes for calculations of their vast antiquity. Here and there human remains had been discovered in them, but no link could be had to connect them otherwise than geologically with history. Geologists, accordingly, with their visual generosity of time, assigned them to the pre-Adamite period. But recently the missing link has been found, and these progenitors of Tubal Cain, and the pre-Adamites generally, are found to have been in the habit of supping their broth out of Roman pottery!

Lyell, the acknowledged prince of geologists, is famous for his chronological blundering; of which his calculations of the age of the delta of the Mississippi is a very good American example. He calculates the quantity of mud in suspension in the water, and the area and depth of the delta, and says it must have taken sixty-seven thousand years for the formation of the whole; and if the alluvial matter of the plain above be two hundred and sixty-four feet deep, or half that of the delta, it must have required thirty-three thousand five hundred years more for its accumulation, even if its area be estimated at only equal to the delta, whereas it is in fact larger.[369] He makes no allowance for tidal deposits.

But Brig. Gen. Humphrey, of the United States Surveying Department, goes over Lyell's calculations, and shows that instead of 3,702,758,400 cubic feet of mud brought down by the Mississippi, as estimated by Lyell, the actual amount is 19,500,750,000,000; that the rate at which the delta is now advancing into the gulf is fifty feet per annum, and that the age of the delta and alluvial deposit is four thousand four hundred, instead of Lyell's one hundred thousand five hundred years.[370] We might go on and give a dozen such instances of geological miscalculations of time did space permit; but these are enough to disabuse us of any faith in such calculations.

With such specimens before us of the miscalculations of the smaller periods by geologists, we are not surprised to find that they grossly exaggerate the larger cycles of time. The necessities of the evolution of the ascidian into the snail, of the snail into the fish, and of the fish into the lizard, of the lizard into the monkey, and of the monkey into the man, by slow and imperceptible changes, demanded an almost infinite length of time; and the geologists of that school accordingly asserted the existence of animal life upon our globe for hundreds of thousands of millions of years.

But Sir Wm. Thompson, one of the first mathematicians, demonstrates[371] the impossibility of any such length of time being spent in the process of cooling our little globe. Beginning with their own assumption, of a globe of molten granite cooling down to the present state, he proves that the earth can not have been in existence longer than a hundred millions of years; and of course that plants and animals have existed on it a much shorter time; as for the greater part of that period it was too hot for them. The geologists are now becoming ashamed of their poetical cycles, and some acknowledge that their chiefs blundered egregiously in their calculations.

The principles of geology seem to be as unsettled as its facts. There is no agreement upon any of its theories. The history of its theories, like that of their framers, begins with their birth, and ends with their burial. Each new theory placed the tombstone upon the preceding, and inscribed it with the brief record of the antediluvian, "and he died." A busy time they must have had with their Wernerian, Huttonian, and Diluvian hypotheses; not to mention the Hutchinsonian theory, the animal spirits flowing from the sun, the vegetative power of stories, and other sage and serious facts and theories, theological and philosophical, invented to account for the world's creation. "No theory," says Lyell, "could be so far-fetched or fantastical as not to attract some followers, provided it fell in with the popular notion." "Some of the most extravagant systems were invented or controverted by men of acknowledged talent." A more amusing exhibition of philosophical absurdity can not be found than those chapters which he devotes to "The Historical Progress of Geology,"[372] unless perhaps the scientific discussions of the erudite acquaintances of Lemuel Gulliver.

Let it not be supposed that the progress of inductive science, and the prevalence of the Baconian philosophy have banished absurdities and contradictions from the sphere of geology. It would require a man of considerable learning to find three geologists agreed, either in their facts, or in their theories. In a general way, indeed, we have the Catastrophists, with Hugh Miller, overwhelming the earth with dire convulsions in the geological eras, and upheaving the more conservative Lyell and the Progressionists; who affirm that all things continue as they were from the beginning of the world. And there is perhaps a general agreement now that the underlying primitive rocks, so called, are not primitive at all, as geologists thought twenty years ago; but, like the foundations of a Chicago house, have been put in long after the building was finished and occupied. But then comes the question how they were inserted—whether as Elie de Beaumont thinks, the mountains were upheaved by starts, lever fashion, or, as Lyell affirms, very gradually, and imperceptibly, like the elevation of a brick house by screws.[373] Nor is there the least likelihood of any future agreement among them; inasmuch as they can not agree either as to the thickness of the earth's solid crust which is to be lifted, or the force by which it is to be done? Hopkins proves by astronomical observation that it is eight hundred miles thick. Lyell affirms that at twenty-four miles deep there can be no solid crust, for the temperature of the earth increases one degree for every forty-five feet, and at that depth the heat is great enough to melt iron and almost every known substance. But then there is a difference between philosophers about this last test of solidity—those who believe in Wedgewood's Pyrometer, which was the infallible standard twenty years ago, asserting that the heat of melted iron is 21,000 deg. Fahrenheit; while Professor Daniells demonstrates by another infallible instrument that it is only 2,786 deg. Fahrenheit;[374] which is rather a difference. In one case the earth's crust would be over two hundred miles thick, in the other twenty-four. But then comes the great question, What is below the granite? and a very important one for any theory of the earth. It evidently underlies the whole foundation of speculative geology, whether we assume with De Beaumont and Humboldt, that "the whole globe, with the exception of a thin envelope, much thinner in proportion than the shell of an egg, is a fused mass, kept fluid by heat—a heat of 450,000 deg. Fahrenheit, at the center, Cordier calculates—but constantly cooling, and contracting its dimensions;" and occasionally cracking and falling in, and "squeezing upward large portions of the mass;" "thus producing those folds or wrinkles which we call mountain chains;" or, with Davy and Lyell, that the heat of such a boiling ocean below would melt the solid crust, like ice from the surface of boiling water—and with it the whole theory of the primeval existence of the earth in a state of igneous fusion, its gradual cooling down into continents and mountains of granite, the gradual abrasion of the granite into the mud and sand which formed the stratified rocks, and all the other brilliant hypotheses which have sparked out of this great internal fire. Instead of an original central heat he supposes that "we may perhaps refer the heat of the interior to chemical changes constantly going on in the earth's crust."[375] Now if the very foundations of the science are in such a state of fusion, and floating on a perhaps, would it not be wise to allow them to solidify a little before a man risks the salvation of his soul upon them?

The various theories are contradictions. The igneous theory assault the aqueous theory with the greatest heat; while the aqueous theorists pour cold water, in torrents, upon the igneous men. The shocks of conflicting glacier theories have shaken the Alps and convulsed all North America; and have not yet ceased. There are eleven theories of earthquakes, which have been, and are still, such energetic agents in geology; and the whole eleven afford not the least rational idea of their causes; nor of any means of preventing, predicting, or escaping their ravages. The best geologists have described fossil tracks as the footprints of gigantic birds, which others equally as authoritative pronounce the tracks of frogs and lizards. Indeed, a good part of every geological treatise, and of the time of every association of geologists, is taken up with refutations of the errors of their predecessors.

There are no less than nine theories of the causes of the elevation of mountains; some scoop out the valleys by water; others by ice; others heave up the mountains by fire; and some by the chemical expansion of their rocks; while others still upheave them by the pressure of molten lava from beneath; and others again make them out to be the wrinkles of the contraction of the supposed crust of the liquid interior. Of all these theories an able geologist says: "The many proposed theories of mountain elevation are based upon assumptions which unfortunately are not true; but that is an unimportant matter to the majority of our speculating geologists; and one never seen by the inventors of the theories, who allow themselves to be led captive by a poetic imagination, instead of building their inductions upon field observations.

"Thus, to suppose that mountains are elevated by a wedge like intrusion of melted matter is to give to a fluid functions incompatible with its dynamic properties. So also the supposition that the igneous rocks were intruded, as solid wedges separating and lifting the crust, is opposed to the fact that no apparent abrasion, but generally the closest adhesion, exists at the line of contact of the igneous and stratified rocks. Equally fatal objections may be advanced against the other theories."[376]

Multitudes of the alleged facts of Infidel geologists are as apocryphal as their theories. Thus in a recent ponderous quarto volume, the production of half a dozen philosophers, this identical impossible theory—of the cooling of the earth's crust down to solidity, while an irresistible central heat remains below—is presented to the world as an ascertained fact; we are informed of the discovery of a human skull fifty-seven thousand years old, in good preservation; asked to believe that two tiers of cypress snags could not be deposited in the delta of the Mississippi in less than eleven thousand four hundred years; and to calculate that the delta of the Nile must have been a great many ages in growing to its present size, because it is quite certain that for the last three thousand years it has never grown at all.[377]

It were easy to fill a volume with such mistakes of geologists, but my limits restrict me to a few specimens. Silliman's Journal, in a review of "The Geology of North America, by Julius Marcoe, U. S. Geologist, and Professor of Geology in the Federal Polytechnic School of Switzerland; quarto, with maps and plates," says:

"The author describes the mountain systems of north America as he supposes they must be, according to the theoretical views of Elie de Beaumont." "Thus one single fossil—that one a species of pine, and only very much resembling the Pinites Fleurotti of Dr. Monguett—establishes a connection between the New Red of France, and that of America. This is a very strong word for a geologist to use on evidence so small, and so uncertain, with the fate of four thousand or five thousand feet of rock at stake, and the beds beneath, containing 'perhaps Belemnites.' The prudent observer would have said, establishes nothing; and such is the fact." "On such evidence a region over the Rocky Mountains, which is one thousand miles from north to south, and eight hundred miles from east to west, is for the most part colored in the maps as Triassic. Such a region would take in quite a respectable part of the continent of Europe." "We now know beyond any reasonable doubt, that all the country from the Platte to the British Possessions, and from the Mississippi to the Black Hills, is occupied by Cretaceous and Tertiary rocks. And as regards the region from the Platte southward to the Red River, very far the largest part is known to be not Triassic, while it is possible the Trias may occur in some parts of it." "It is unfortunate in its bearing on the progress of geological science to have false views about some five hundred thousand miles of territory, and much more besides, spread widely abroad through respectable journals, and transactions of distinguished European Societies."[378]

One can not but sympathize with the poor abused Rocky Mountains, tormented and misrepresented for a thousand miles by this French geologist. But our American patriotism may be partially pacified when we find that Europe fares no better; and that Great Britain, and Old Scotland, Hugh Miller's own cradle, which has been the very lecture room of geologists, has nevertheless been most grossly misrepresented in all books and maps, up till the last decade. The Edinburgh Review, a competent authority, says (No. cxxvii.): "The new light which has been thus thrown on the history of the geological series of Scotland (by Sir Roderick Murchison), showing that great masses of crystalline rocks, called primary, and supposed to be much more ancient than the Silurian system, are here simply metamorphosed strata of that age, may with justice be looked upon as one of the most valuable results which have been attained by British geologists for many years." A very just remark indeed! If only geologists would learn a little modesty from this discovery, which completely turns upside down their old world-building process of grinding down all the upper strata out of the molten granite, and gives us, instead, the baking of the strata into crystalline rocks; a process exactly the reverse of the former, and of that asserted by the theory of evolution. There is no prospect of any cessation of the war of geological theories.

4. Zoology.

Equally hostile to each other are the expounders of the development of man from the monkey. As Ishmaelites their hand is against every man. Each is a law in theorizing unto himself. Their contendings may well teach us caution. Lamarck set those right who preceded him. The author of the Vestiges of Creation outstripped Lamarck, and Mr. Darwin sets both aside; while he in his turn is severely censured by M. Tremaux, and has all his reasoning controverted in favor of the new theory. Lamarck believed in spontaneous generation; Darwin does not. The author of the Vestiges of Creation expounded a law of development, and Mr. Darwin replaces it by Natural Selection. M. Tremaux has repudiated the origin which Mr. Darwin has assumed, and insists on our believing that, not water, but the soil, is the origin of all life, and therefore of man. With him there is no progress; all creatures have reached their resting place. But man rises or sinks, according to the more ancient or recent soil he dwells upon. Professor Huxley is unwilling to abandon his idea that life may come from dead matter, and is not disposed to accept of Mr. Darwin's explanation of the origin of life by the Creator having, at first, breathed it into one or more forms. While accepting of Mr. Darwin's theory of a common descent for man with all other creatures, he not only differs from him as to the beginning, but he admits that there is no gradual transition from the one to the other. He acknowledges that the structural differences between man and even the highest apes are great and significant; and yet because there is no sign of gradual transition between the gorilla, and the orang, and the gibbon, he infers that they all had a common origin; whereas the more natural conclusion from the facts would be that they had separate beginnings. Mr. Wallace, whose claims are admitted to be equal to these of Mr. Darwin, as the propounder of the theory of the origin of species by Natural Selection, has firmly asserted that, with all its resources, Natural Selection is utterly inadequate to account for the origin and structure of the human race.[379] Thus they go, biting and devouring each other, until at last it becomes a reproduction of the Kilkenny cats, and there is nothing left but the tails. We have only to wait, and the current Infidel theory will certainly be exposed and demolished next year, by the author of some equally impossible theory.

Not merely individual scientists, but the most learned societies have blundered. "Has not the French Academy pronounced against the use of quinine and vaccination, against lightning rods and steam engines? Has not Reaumer suppressed Peysonnel's 'Essay on Corals,' because he thought it was madness to maintain their animal nature? Had not his learned brethren decreed, in 1802, that there were no meteors, although a short time later two thousand fell in one department alone; and had they not more recently still received the news of ether being useful as an anaesthetic with sure and unanimous condemnation?"[380]

If space permitted we could go over the circle of the sciences, and show that a similar state of uncertainty and exposure to error exists in them all. We have, however, confined our attention to those whose certainty is now most loudly vaunted, and whose theories are most largely used as the basis of Infidelity. Nor have we by any means exhausted the list of errors and contradictions of these. A volume as large as this would be required to present the list of several hundred errors, absurdities, contradictions, and mutual refutations of scientists, in the physical sciences, now before me; errors not sought after, but incidentally observed and noted in the spare hours' reading of a busy professional life.

It is worthy of notice, that the uncertainties of science increase just in proportion to our interest in it. It is very uncertain about all my dearest concerns, and very positive about what does not concern me. The greatest certainty is attainable in pure mathematics, which regards only ideal quantities and figures; but biology—the science of life—is utterly obscure. The astronomer can calculate with considerable accuracy the movements of distant planets, with which we have no intercourse; but where is the meteorologist bold enough to predict the wind and weather of next week, on which my crops, my ships, my life may depend? Heat, light, and electricity may be pretty accurately measured and registered, but what physician can measure the strength of the malignant virus which is sapping the life of his patient? The chemist can thoroughly analyze any foreign substance, but the disease of his own body which is bringing him to the grave, he can neither weigh, measure nor remove. Science is very positive about distant stars and remote ages, but stammers and hesitates about the very life of its professors.

4. Such, then, are a few of the uncertainties, imperfections, and positive and egregious errors of science at its fountain head. To the actual investigator infallible certainty of any scientific fact is hardly possible, error exceedingly probable, and gross blunders in fact and theory by no means uncommon. But how greatly diluted must the modified and hesitating conviction possible to an actual observer become, when, as is generally the case, a man is not an actual observer himself, but learns his science at school. Such a person leaves the ground of demonstrative science, and stands upon faith. The first question then to be proposed to one whose demonstrative certainty of the truths of physical science has disgusted him with a religion received on testimony and faith, is, How have you reached this demonstrative certainty in matters of science? Are you quite sure that your certainty rests not upon the testimony of fallible and erring philosophers, but solely upon your own personal observations and experiments?

To take only the initial standard of astronomical measurements—the earth's distance from the sun. Have you personally measured the earth's radius, observed the transit of Venus in 1769, from Lapland to Tahiti at the same time, calculated the sun's parallax, and the eccentricity of the earth's orbit? Would you profess yourself competent to take even the preliminary observation for fixing the instruments for such a reckoning? Were you ever within a thousand miles of the proper positions for making such observations? Or have you been necessitated to accept this primary measure, upon the accuracy of which all subsequent astronomical measurers depend, merely upon hearsay and testimony, and subject to all those contingencies of error and prejudice, and mistakes of copyists, which, in your opinion, render the Bible so unreliable in matters of religion?

Or to come down to earth. You are a student of the stone book, with its enduring records graven in the rock forever; and perhaps have satisfied yourself that "under the ponderous strata of geological science the traditionary mythology and cosmogony of the Hebrew poet has found an everlasting tomb." But how many volumes of this stone book have you perused personally? You are quite indignant perhaps that theologians and divines, who have no practical or personal knowledge of geology, should presume to investigate its claims. Have you personally visited the various localities in South America, Siberia, Australia, India, Britain, Italy, and the South Seas, where the various formations are exhibited; and have you personally excavated from their matrices the various fossils which form the hieroglyphics of the science? Have you, in fact, ever seen one in a thousand of these minerals and fossils in situ? Or are you dependent on the tales of travelers, the specimens of collectors, the veracity of authors, the accuracy of lecturers, aided by maps of ideal stratifications, in rose-pink, brimstone-yellow, and indigo-blue, for your profound and glowing convictions of the irresistible force of experimental science, and of the shadowy vagueness of a religion dependent upon human testimony?

To come down considerably in our demands, and confine ourselves to the narrow limits of the laboratory. You are a chemist perhaps, and proud, as most chemists justly are, of the accuracy attainable in that most palpable and demonstrative science. But how much of it is experimental science to you? How many of the nine hundred and forty-two substances treated of in Turner's Chemistry have you analyzed? One-half? One-tenth? Would you face the laughter of a college class to-morrow upon the experiment of taking nine out of the nine hundred, reducing them to their primitive elements, giving an accurate analysis of their component parts, and combining them in the various forms described in that, or any other book, whose statements, because experimentally certain, have filled you with a dislike of Bible truths, which you must receive upon testimony? In fact, do you know anything worth mention of the facts of science upon your own knowledge, except those of the profession by which you make your living?

Or, after all your boasting about scientific and demonstrative certainty, have you been obliged to receive the certainties of science "upon faith, and at second-hand, and upon the word of another;" and to save your life you could not tell half the time who that other is, by naming the discoverers of half the scientific truths you believe? What! are you dependent on hearsay, and probability, for any little science you possess, having in fact never obtained any personal demonstration or experience of its first principles and measurements, nor being capable of doing so? Then let us hear no more cant about the uncertainty of a religion dependent upon testimony, and the certainties of experimental science. Whatever certainty may be attainable by scientific men—and we have seen that is not much—it is very certain you have got none of it. The very best you can have to wrap yourself in is a second-hand assurance, grievously torn by rival schools, and needing to be patched every month by later discoveries. Your science, such as it is, rests solely upon faith in the testimony of philosophers, often contradictory and improbable, and always fallible and uncertain.

5. Nor would you cease to be dependent upon faith could you personally make all the observations and calculations of demonstrative science. The knowledge of these facts does not constitute science; it is merely the brick pile containing the materials for the building of science. Science is knowledge systematized. But if the parts of nature were not arranged after a plan, the knowledge of them could not be formed into a system. Chaos is unintelligible. Our minds are so constituted that we look for order and regularity, and can not comprehend confusion. We possess this expectation of order before we begin to learn science, and without it would never begin the search after a system of knowledge. All scientific experiment is but a search after order, and order is only another name for intelligence—for God. Deprive us of this fundamental faith in cause and effect, order and regularity—of reason, in short—and science becomes as impossible to man as to the orang-outang. All science, even in its first principles, rests upon faith.

Not only science, reason, also, is founded upon faith; for we can not prove by reason the truths which form the data of reasoning. The intuitions of the mind, which form the postulates necessary to the first process of reasoning, are believed, not proven. When the wise fool attempted to prove his own existence by the celebrated sophism, "I think, therefore I exist," he necessarily postulated his existence in order to prove it. How did he know that there was an "I" to think? And how did he know that the "I" thought? Certainly not by any process of reasoning, but by faith. He believed these truths; but could never reason them into his consciousness. Faith, then, underlies reason itself.

We may now proceed to inquire whether or not faith, which we have found so prevalent even among those who repudiate it, is a thing to be ashamed of; or if it be a sufficiently certain and reliable basis for human life and conduct.

1. We are met at the very outset by the great fact that God has so constituted the world and everything in it, that in all the great concerns of life we are necessitated to depend on faith; without any possibility of reaching absolute certainty regarding the result of any ordinary duty. We sow without any certainty of a crop, or that we may live to reap it. We harvest, but our barns may be burned down. We sell our property for bank-bills, but who dare say they will ever be paid in specie? We start on a journey to a distant city, but even though you insure your life, who will insure that fire, or flood, or railroad collision may not send you to the land whence there is no return?

Science is the child of yesterday; but from the beginning of the world men have lived by faith. Before science was born, Cain tilled his ground without any mathematical demonstration that he should reap a crop. Abel fed his flock without any scientific certainty that he should live to enjoy its produce; and Tubal Cain forged axes and swords without any assurance that he should not be plundered of his wages. All the experience of mankind proves that experimental certainty regarding the most important business of this life is impossible. By what process of philosophical induction is religion alone put beyond the sphere of faith and hope? If religious duties are not binding on us, unless religion be scientifically demonstrated, then neither are moral obligations; for these two can not be separated. Is it really so, that none but scientific men are bound to tell the truth, and pay their debts; and that a person may not fear God, and go to heaven, unless he has graduated at college? The common sense of mankind declares that we live by faith, not by science.

2. We demand the knowledge of truths of which science is profoundly ignorant. Science is but an outlying nook of my farm, which I may neglect and yet have bread to eat. Faith is my house in which all my dearest interests are treasured. Of all the great problems and precious interests which belong to me as a mortal and an immortal, science knows nothing. I ask her whence I came? and she points to her pinions scorched over the abyss of primeval fire, her eyes blinded by its awful glare, and remains silent. I inquire what I am? but the strange and questioning I is a mystery which she can neither analyze nor measure. I tell her of the voice of conscience within me—she never heard it, and does not pretend to understand its oracles. I tell her of my anxieties about the future—she is learned only in the past. I inquire how I may be happy hereafter—but happiness is not a scientific term, and she can not tell me how to be happy here! Poor, blind science!

3. All our dearest interests lie beyond the domains of science, in the regions of faith. Science treats of things—faith is confidence in persons. Take away the persons, and of what value are the things? The world becomes at once a vast desert, a dreary solitude, and more miserable than any of its former inhabitants the lonely wretch who is left to mourn over the graves of all his former companions—the last man. Solitary science were awful. Could I prosecute the toils of study alone, without companion or friend to share my labors? Would I study eternally with no object, and for no use; none to be benefited, none to be gratified by my discoveries? Though you hung maps on every tree, made every mountain range a museum, bored mines in every valley, and covered every plain with specimens, made Vesuvius my crucible, and opened the foundations of the earth to my view—yet would the discovery of a single fresh human footprint in the sand fill my heart with more true hope of happiness, than an endless eternity of solitary science. I can live, and love, and be happy without science, but not without companionship, whose bond is faith.

Faith is the condition of all the happiness you can know on earth. Law, order, government, civilization, and family life, depend not upon science, but upon confidence in moral character—upon faith. In its sunshine alone can happiness grow. It is faith sends you out in the morning to your work, nerves your arms through the toils of the day, brings you home in the evening, gathers your wife and your children around your table, inspires the oft-repeated efforts of the little prattler to ascend your knee, clasps his chubby arms around your neck, looks with most confiding innocence in your eye, and puts forth his little hand to catch your bread, and share your cup. Undoubting faith is happiness even here below. Need you marvel, then, that you must be converted from your pride of empty, barren science, and casting yourself with all your powers into the arms of faith, become as a little child before you can enter into the kingdom of heaven?

4. But religion is not founded upon faith as distinct from observation and experiment. It is the most experimental of all the sciences. There is less of theory, and more of experience in it than in any other science. Its faith is all practical. It is a great mistake to suppose that faith is the opposite pole of experience. On the contrary, experience is the fruit which ripens from the blossom of faith. We have seen how an underlying conviction of the existence of an intelligent planner and upholder of the laws of nature is the source of all scientific experiment, and systematized knowledge. A similar underlying conviction of the existence of a moral governor of the world is the source of all religious experience. He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of those that diligently seek him. But this fundamental axiom believed, long trains of experience follow; of every one of which you can be, and actually are, infinitely more certain than of any fact of physical science. Your eyes, your ears, your touch, your instruments, your reason, may be deceived; but your consciousness can not. If your soul is filled with joy, that is a fact. You know it, and are as sure of it as you are that the sun shines. If you feel miserable, you are so. A sense of neglected duty, a consciousness that you have done wrong, and are displeased with yourself for it; a certainty that God is displeased with you for wrong-doing, and that he will show his displeasure by suitable punishment; the tenacious grasp of vicious habits on your body and soul, and the fearful thought that by the law of your nature these vipers, which you vainly struggle to shake off, will forever keep involving you more closely in their cursed coils—these are facts of your experience. You are as certain that they give you disquiet of mind, when you entertain them, as that the sea rages in a tempest; and that you can no more prevent their entrance, nor compel their departure, nor calm nor drown the anxiety they occasion, than you can prevent the rising of the tempest, dismiss the thunder-storm, or drown Etna in your wine-glass. Of these primary facts of moral science, and of others like them, you possess the most absolute and infallible certainty from your own consciousness. They result from the inertia of moral matter, which, when put into a state of disturbance, has no power of bringing itself to rest; as expressed in the formula, There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.[381]

Let us now go out of your own experience, as you must do in every other science, into the region of observation, and study a few of the other phenomena of religion. Your comrade, Jones, has taken to drinking of late, and also to going with you to Sunday lectures, and in the evening to other places of amusement. He has, however, been warned that the next time he comes drunk to the workshop he will be discharged; and as he is a clever young fellow, and knows more about the Bible than you, having gone to Sabbath-school when a boy, and is able to use up the saints cleverly, you would be sorry to lose his company. So you set on him to go with you to hear a temperance lecture, hoping that he may be induced to take the pledge; for if he does not you fear he will soon lie in the gutter. He curses you, and himself too, if ever he listens to any such stuff; and refuses to go. You can easily gather a hundred other illustrations of the great law of the moral repulsion between vice and truth, expressed in the following formula: "This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."[382] Your life, however, is but a long illustration of this principle. Have you not willingly remained in ignorance of the contents of the Bible, because you dislike its commands?

There is another fact of the same science—there, in the gutter before you, wallowing in his own vomit, covered with rags, besmeared with mud, smelling worse than a hog, his bruised and bleeding mouth unable to articulate the obscenities and curses he tries to utter. "Is it possible that can be Bill Brown! Why, only three years ago we worked at the same bench. It was he who introduced me to the Sunday Institute; as clever a workman and as jovial a comrade as I ever knew, but would get on a spree now and again. He had a good father and mother, got considerable schooling, had good wages, got married to a clever girl, and had two fine children. Is it possible he could make such a beast of himself in such a short time?" Yes, quite possible, and more, quite certain. Not only in his case, but in all others, the law of moral gravitation is universal and infallible. "Evil men and seducers wax worse and worse."[383] The degradation may not always be in this precise form, nor always as speedy; as all heavy bodies do not fall to the same place, nor with like rapidity. But it is always as certain and always as deep, and will one day be far more public. Fix it firmly in your mind. It concerns you more than all the science you will ever know. You, too, are in the course of sin, and you know it. You have already begun to fall.

Come again into this room. "What, into a prayer-meeting? I don't go to such places." But, if you want to study the phenomena of religion scientifically, you should go to such places; just as if you want to study geology, you should go to the places where the strata are exposed to view. I do not ask you to speak, and to ask people to pray for you, but only to look on and listen. If you are a philosopher I wish you to cease dogmatizing about fanaticism, and enthusiasm, and the ignorance, and credulity of believers, at least until you philosophically examine the evidence upon which they believe. You can set aside, if you please, their unfounded beliefs concerning matters beyond their capacity, and also their confident hopes for futurity. What I wish you to examine is their actual experience of religion, as they severally relate it. For as we have seen, the facts of consciousness are just as certain, and as ascertainable, as the facts discovered by our senses; and there is no reason in the world why we should not pursue the study of religion in the same way that we gain a knowledge of science; namely, by collecting and studying the facts accumulated by those who have made experiments, and have obtained a practical knowledge of the matter.

There are here, as you see, a great number of religious experimenters. They are also of very various conditions of life, and of various degrees of education. Many of them are moreover well known to you, so that you are in a favorable position for forming a fair judgment of their discoveries. There is your comrade Smith, Hopkins who does the hauling for your establishment, Lawyer Hammond, Professor Edwards, whose chemical lectures you attend, Dr. Lawrence, who lectured before the Lyceum last winter, Mr. Heidenberger, who wrote a series of articles on Comte's Positive Philosophy for the Investigator, Mrs. Bridgman, your Aunt Polly, who nursed you during your typhoid fever, and a great many others whom you know quite well. Professor Edwards leads in prayer, and gives a brief address. You never dreamt that he was hoaxing you when he told you of his chemical experience; have you any reason to offer for believing that he now solemnly, and in the presence of God, lies to you and to this assembly, when he tells you of the peace he has found in believing in Christ, and the happiness he experiences in uniting with his brethren in the worship of God? Or is he more liable to error in noting the fact of his mental joy or sorrow, than in observing the effect of the extraordinary ray in double refraction? If not, the fact that he has felt this religious experience, is just as certain as the fact, that he has seen polarized light.

There is your comrade Smith, whom you have known for years, actually got up to speak in meeting. You are surprised; but listen: "Neighbors and friends, most of you know I never cared much about religion, and was often given to take more liquor than was good for me, and then I would fight and curse awful bad. I knew as well as anybody that it wasn't right, and always felt bad after a spree, and many a time I said I would turn over a new leaf, and be good. But it was all no use, for as soon as any of the fellows would come around after me, I always went along with them, till at last I gave it up and said it was no use to try. Still, whenever any of my acquaintances died, I felt scared like; and I kept away as far as I could from churches and preachers and such like, because I could not bear to think about God and judgment to come. Well, about five weeks ago my little Minnie set on me one Sabbath morning to carry her to church, and to please the little creature—for she is as pert a darling as you could see anywhere—I told my wife to get her ready, and we would go. She seemed as if she would cry, and kept talking to herself all the way. When we got into the church the singing almost upset me, for I had not been to a church since I was a little fellow, just before father and mother died. But it seemed as if it was the same tune, and as if the tune brought them all back, and as if I saw them again and all the family, and heard mother sing as she used to, and I forgot church and everything, and thought I was a little fellow playing about on the floor just as I used to do when I was a happy child. When they stopped I was so sorry, and wished I could just be as innocent and as happy as I was then. Well, it seemed like the preacher had been reading my thoughts, for he gave out for his text, 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, unless a man be born again he can not see the kingdom of God.' He began to preach how Jesus can give us new hearts, and save us from our sins; that his blood cleanses from all sin; that he is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God through him. The tears came into my eyes, and I could hardly keep my mouth shut till I got out. When I got home I knelt down, and cried to Jesus to save me from my sins; and my wife prayed too, and we cried for mercy. The Lord heard us, and I felt light and happy, and I went to church again, and sung with the rest. And the best of it is, the Lord delivered me from the drink; as I told a man who asked where I was going to-day, and I told him I was going to prayer-meeting, for I had got religion now. He said there were a great many religions, and most of them wrong, and a great many people said all religion was only a notion, and preaching only nonsense. I says to him, 'Look here, stranger, do you see that tavern there?' 'Yes,' says he. 'Well,' says I, 'do you see me?' 'I do, of course,' says he. 'Well,' says I, 'every little fellow in these parts knows that so long as Tom Smith had a quarter in his pocket he could never pass that tavern without having a drink. All the men in Jefferson could not stop him. Now look here,' says I, 'there is my week's wages, and I can go past, and thank God I don't feel the least like drinking, for the Lord Jesus has saved me from it. If you call that a notion, it is a mighty powerful notion, and it is a notion that has put clothes on my children's backs, and plenty of good food on my table, and songs of praise to the Lord in my mouth. That's a fact, stranger. Glory be to God for it. And I would recommend you to come to prayer-meeting with me, and maybe you would get religion too. A great many people are getting religion now.'"

His last remark is certainly very true. There are so many, and of such various characters and grades of life, and in so many places, that every reader can easily find several Tom Smiths of his own acquaintance, whose conversions display all the essential facts of this case, and prove that:

5. The facts of religious experience are better attested, and more unobjectionable than those of any other science.

Unless they can be shown to be unreasonable or impossible, we are bound to receive them, when presented by the experimentists who have discovered them, though personally we may not have any such experience; just as we believe the chemists, or the astronomers who relate their discoveries which personally we have not observed. But the facts of religion are by no means unreasonable. They can not be shown to contradict any known law of the human mind. It is true they are mysterious. But so are the facts of physical science—heat, light, electricity, gravitation. Of either, we may be quite certain that such phenomena exist, and utterly ignorant of the mode of their operation. It were as utterly unphilosophical to deny that Almighty God could impart nervous energy to the languid limbs of your sick neighbor, because you are ignorant of its origin and means of transmission, as to deny that God could impart spiritual electricity to his paralyzed soul, because you are ignorant of the mode in which he bestows it. And ignorance is all that you can plead in this case. You must just admit that having tried an experiment which you have not, your religious friend has a right to know more than you.

Moreover, the facts of religion are presented for belief upon the most abundant and reliable testimony. In physical science you must rely on the testimony of a very few observers—the great bulk even of scientific men having no opportunity of testing the facts themselves, and being well satisfied if any fact is confirmed by the testimony of two or three philosophers—and this testimony often contradictory, and always fallible, as the discordant results of their experiments prove. But here you have a great multitude of experimentists, in every city and village of the land, of every variety of intellect and education, prosecuting the same course of experiments, and all arriving at the same results. They do not all confess the same sins, but they all felt the power of some sin, and felt miserable in their guilt. And however they may differ in their external circumstances, their inward constitution, or in their views of the outward part of religion, there is no difference among them about the great facts of their religious experience. They all believed the faithful saying that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, cried to God for mercy through him, and received peace of mind, grace to live a new life, and to delight in the worship of God. Do you know any science which has been prosecuted by one-hundredth part of this number of inquirers? Which has been confirmed by one-thousandth part of this number of experimenters? Or any experiment tried with such uniform and unfailing success as this, "Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved?"[384] Why then do you hesitate to admit the correctness of these facts? Is it because you perceive they lead to results which you dislike?

They do lead to results. They are effects and tell us of a cause. They are powerful effects, and proclaim a powerful cause. They are moral and spiritual effects, and assure us of the existence of a moral and spiritual agent who has caused them. They are holy effects, and convince your sinful soul that they are produced by a holy being. But they are also benevolent, life-giving, blessed effects, and proclaim that God is love. The Lord, the Spirit, is as plainly declared in the facts of religious experience, as the Creator is in the creation of the universe; and it were as rank Atheism to attribute these orderly and blessed results to chance or to evil passions, as to attribute the Cosmos to blind fate, or to the beasts that perish. He is as much an enemy to his happiness who denies the one, as a foe to his reason who rejects the other. Dear reader, why should you not believe in,

6. The only science which can make you happy? which can bestow peace of mind, nerve you to conquer your evil habits, enable you to live a holy and happy life, and to die with a blessed hope of a glorious resurrection? You know there is no science which makes any such offers, or which you would believe if it did. But the Bible unfolds a science which does, and enables you to believe it too. The facts of religious experience give most convincing evidence of the reality and power of the grace of God. It were as easy to persuade a Christian that he had produced this change of heart and life by the excitement of his own feelings, as that he had kindled the sun with a lucifer match. And the character of the work and the worker assures him that it will not be left unfinished. His faith receives these facts of religious experience as the first installments upon God's bonds, and as pledges for the payment of the remainder of his promises. The joy and peace which God gives him now, prove most satisfactorily his ability and willingness to give him larger measures of these enjoyments when he is capable of receiving them. Just as we have good reason to believe that he who has made the sun to rise out of darkness will guide him onward in his course to perfect day, have we also good reason to believe that he that hath begun the good work of his grace in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. Christ is in us the hope of glory. This eternal life, which is begun in our souls, is so much superior to mere animal vitality, that we can not doubt that he who has given us the greater, will also give us the lesser, and quicken our mortal bodies also, by his Spirit which dwelleth in us. We know that our Redeemer liveth.

7. And now, in conclusion, dear reader, we ask you not to take these things on our testimony, nor yet on our experience; but to try for yourself. Oh taste and see that the Lord is good. Come see the Savior who has saved us, and be saved by him too. There is nothing more dangerous, unless resisting the evidence of the truth as it is in Jesus, than acknowledging this to be truth without immediately obeying the gospel. God requires your immediate and cordial acceptance of Christ to save you from your sins. He tells you that the only way of escape from your sins now and from hell hereafter is through him; for there is none other name given under heaven or among men whereby you must be saved. He promises to hear your prayer and give you his Holy Spirit to work in you the work of faith with power, if you will only and earnestly ask. "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: What man is there of you whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"[385]

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