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and the life-earnings of a quarter of a million of human beings were concerned; their wealth, their treasures of art, their benefactions, and all their earthly hopes. But if God watched the conflagration, he watched the kerosene lamp; if he cared for the court house, the custom house, and the chamber of commerce, he took note of the hovel. If it was God who had measured out those hundred human lives to their "appointed time," then God was in the wind and in the dry air; and every drop of rain that did not fall, was locked up by God.
God showed us the vanity of human expectations. Accumulated fortunes shrivelled up in a night and a day. The poor and the rich were made houseless together. Life plans and prospects by the thousand were forcibly arrested and reversed. Many a man as he looked upon the waying of smoke and flames above his costly piles, realized for once that riches "take wings." Not a man in the city but had some of his schemes violently broken in upon that day; not a man but despondingly watched the elements to see whether the end were yet come.
God showed us the fallaciousness of the best securities. From first to last it was one continuous baffling of all human foresight and worldly wis dom. The strong-hold of the government funds, and the isolated bui ding of the county records proved alike faithless. "Fire-proof” buildings meant little or nothing. The very property which all the shrewdest lenders selected for their choicest securities was wiped out. Favorite insurance companies could pay nothing. When the vaults surrendered their papers safe, it was still an anxious question what those papers would be worth. The banker who saved half a million or more, trusted to a negro and an old trunk, while he himself was driven half suffocated before the flames. While the fire was raging, God gave the authorities all they could do to take care of their families and themselves. In the height of the danger, the only hope-the water supply-suddenly was lost.
God showed us the meanness to which human nature can sink. We have no heart to speak of the extortioners, the thieves, the incendiaries, the drunkards, the cursing and accursed wretches who stalked around in this hour of darkness. God delivered us, and may God deliver all!
God showed us the difference which Christianity has wrought. When Rome burned, or famine or pestilence desolated the cities and regions of the ancient empires, where were the messengers of relief? But now not alone every village of the nation, but the cities of the old world, throbbed with sympathy and teemed with help.
God showed us our real blessings. How many a family then felt that the life was more than the meat, and the body than its raiment. How many an anxious husband or parent then felt that the life of wife or child was more than millions on millions of money. Some noble men who have, as men say, lost all, have already found that character is capital, and rejoiced
that past beneficence can not be destroyed. If no other reason, can we not see a sufficient reason for this great and awful providence in its startling a city, a nation and the world, into a clear perception of what things can be burned, and what things cannot..
God also showed us how he can and yet will surprise mankind in the day when the elements shall melt with fervent heat. Here was a man caught at unawares in his own house. There were men on the house-tops who never came down. There were men and women destroyed in their places of refuge and of safety. Drunken men were roasted in the streets. great multitude were taken completely by surprise. So shall it be when He cometh to judge the world.
SCIENCE RIGHT SIDE UP.-Some one has said lately that it is the dis grace of science that no theory of life is yet held, or has been even proposed, among scientific men, that will stand even a moment's investigation. The latest theory, which the unreligious scientific thinkers are striving to make acceptable, is simply no theory at all, but a denial that there is any such thing as life. The late President of the British Association plants himself squarely with religious men and all other discriminating persons, affirms life, and denies the ancient notion, revived by Huxley, Spencer, and the rest, that" under meteorological conditions very different from the present, dead matter may have run together, or crystallized. or fermented, into germs of life,' or 'organic cells,' or 'protoplasm.'" Science brings a vast mass of inductive evidence against this hypothesis of spontaneous generation. Careful enough scrutiny has, in every case up to the present day, discovered life as antecedent to life. Dead matter cannot become living," says Sir William, "without coming under the influence of matter previously alive. This seems to us as sure a teaching of science as the law of gravitation." Exit, Spontaneous Generation! Will the anti-theists take notice that science bows this darling of theirs-and bugbear of many good people-out of doors?
Sir William proposed as his theory of the origin of life on the earth, that the first germs were borne hither by aerolites. He deems this supposition not unscientific, and the objections to it easily answerable. "From the earth stocked with such vegetation as it could receive meteorically, to the earth teeming with all the endless variety of plants and animals that now inhabit it, the step is prodigious; yet according to the doctrine of continuity all creatures now living on earth have proceeded by orderly evolution from some such origin." He then quotes two passages from Darwin on evolution, adding: "I have omitted the sentence describing briefly the hypothesis of the origin of species by natural selection,'" because I have always felt that this hypothesis does not contain the true theory of evolu tion, if evolution there has been, in biology. Sir John Herschell, in ex
pressing a favorable judgment on the hypothesis of zoological evolution, with, however, some reservation in respect to the origin of man, objected to the doctrine of natural selection that it was too like the Laputan method of making books, and that it did not sufficiently take into account a continually guiding and controlling intelligence. This seems to me a most valuable and instructive criticism. I feel profoundly convinced that the argument of design has been greatly too much lost sight of in recent zoological speculations. Reaction against the frivolities of theology, such as are to be found, not rarely, in the notes of the learned commentators on Paley's Natural Theology," has, I believe, had a temporary effect in turning attention from the solid and irrefragable argument so well put forward in that excellent old book. But overpoweringly strong proofs of intelligent and benevolent design lie all around us, and if ever perplexities, whether metaphysical or scientific, turn us away from them for a time, they come back upon us with irresistible force, showing to us through nature the influence of free will, and teaching us that all living beings depend on one everlasting Creator and Ruler." Welcome and timely news, with the true ring in them, from the chair of the British Association!
Touching Sir William's theory of the possible and probable origin of earthly life, an English religious journal remarks: "The idea that lifegerms may traverse space in connection with aerolites was thrown out at least as early as the commencement of this year by Peter Bayne, who credits it to Hugh Miller. The aid furnished by spectrum analysis in tracing the extent of unity in nature, is cited by Mr. Miller, and he suggests that the correspondences between terrestial magnetism, and spots of the sun, and the systems of aerolities which have recently attracted so much attention furnish a new and wonderful example of it. Mr. Miller presses Tyndall's teachings about the "infinitesimal smallness of germs of life "into his service, adding very shrewdly, the question: "what proof have we that if aerolites can traverse space, life-germs cannot traverse space likewise?"
To say the least of it, this theory has less against it than that of the evolution of life from dead matter, that is, of something from nothing by the inherent power of the nothings! and it leaves the question of the origin of life, in either aerolites or space, untouched. It simply locates the theological or Biblical explanation somewhat further back. It is worth noticing, that in the present state of the question in really scientific circles no logical thinker has the least excuse for choosing an atheistic explanation. Let us put a pin in there. We have had beside us, while writing, Appleton's "Educational Record," with its unprepossessing wood-cut portrait of Huxley, and the half-confident, half-sinister expression of the features has seemed to assume an extra leer on the subject. The "Lord of Life and Glory," who" hath life in himself" is not yet deposed from His throne, nevertheless.
Dr. Lionel S. Beale, F. R. S., whose acute expose of "Protoplasm" etc., has been noticed in these columns by a scientific physician, sums up the case of life-theories in a late contemporary Review. He says, with the greatest justice, that no other theories bear so upon religious thought, and here what antagonism there now is between, not science, but certain scientific men, and religion, is most distinct, and culminates. "If it were true that the facts of science really taught that all phenomena peculiar to living beings were in reality only physical and chemical phenomena, the very ground out of which all religious thought springs would be dissipated." "If any form of the physical doctrine of life had been proved to be true, or had been shown to be based upon some sort of trustworthy evidence, or had been shown to exhibit even an appearance of plausibility, it would have undoubtedly been a duty to inquire very carefully whether religious views could any longer be considered tenable. But nothing of either sort appearsIt is a mere haze of assertion by certain scientific men-not of scientific assertion, for there is no such thing-on which the appearance of danger to spiritual belief stands. "The most ridiculous statements about the nature of life have been approvingly sanctioned by men of high position in other branches of natural knowledge." And such writers as Spencer have thereupon generalized these fantastic fancies with an air of "encyclopædiacal " learning and super-human profundity and grasp of thought!
A few of Dr. Beale's well shapen points are worth putting on record here for thinkers, both cleric and laic. "Why are we to accept the doctrine of those who assert that the laws which govern the now living matter, and the mind of man, are the same laws? The last two have nothing in common with the first. Where is the analogy between the inanimate stone and the simplest living thing? Does the stone, like the living particle, convert matter of different composition into substances like those of which it consists, and then divide and subdivide into little stones? Does it grow towards heaven like the tree, against the laws of gravitation?"
“According to many we seem to have been, for years past, on the eve of discovering the conditions under which the component elements of the or ganisms of living being could be made to combine to form the organic compounds, and these compounds made to live. It has indeed been affirmed over and over again that the morning of discovery has dawned; nay, that the living has been actually formed direct from the non-living; but the spontaneous ovum has yet to be exhibited-the living jelly has yet to be evolved from the laboratory-bred plasma."
Dr. Beale sets forth clearly the distinctions between power, force, and property-vast distinctions, and undeniable. Also, that power goes with design, form, order, &c., but force, property, &c., do not. Arrangement ap. pears and disappears, but matter does not. And no terms employed for force or property can express power, design, order. Also, that there is no
analogy between life, which gives to matter form and structure, and flame, which destroys both. None between a living thing and a crystal; the latter can be dissolved and reconstructed, the former never can. None between man as a living creature and any analogue ever proposed. This is the last word of science on life.
PLACED IN A FALSE POSITION.-This is a great bug-bear in public assemblies. A body of Christian men have met on some definite call, and with some restricted business. When the sons of God are thus assembled, there is present also, perhaps one of those ardent personages, whose conception of liberty is the right to take possession of every public assembly for his own uses. With cat-like eagerness he watches the chance to spring. It may be with some matter of reform, which, however, has no special or general claim on that occasion. No matter. It is his Christian liberty to lord it over a whole assembly. The matter shall be discussed. To shut out his hobby and attend to business, is to fight against all rightAt this stage of affairs, some timid brother suggests that the subject has no business here, and ought not to have been introduced, but it is a very different thing to dismiss it now that it is introduced. "It places us in a false position."
Now it does no such thing. An organized body is at no man's beck. No one can, by his individual folly, or pertinacity, in introducing unseasonable topics, put them in any false position-except that of listening to him. It is their privilege to decide what subjects they will or will not consider, and what questions are embraced within their sphere, cali, or even pleasure; although we once heard such a man inform a whole General Association, which had indefinitely postponed his favorite theme, that they should yet listen to it. Let us have done with this folly. Let us put down these perpetual bores. Let us not be tyrannized over in our religious convocations by any man's bull-dog tenacity. The assembly that, when it chooses, rules out any man's hobby, does not thereby put itself in a false position, but him in a true position.
THE LORD'S SUPPER.-While this subject is in our columns, [but, alas, it was burned up in type,] for the sake of completeness we add a remark on one point which our judicious contributor does not find room to expand. It is this, While there is a correct mode of saying exactly what we meanor ought to mean-in our invitations to the Lord's Table, very many ministers seem to have a great aversion to saying it. They have various circumlocutions; and there is one rather a favorite with those who agree substantially with our contributor-as though a partial compromise in phraseology,and as though an attempt to exclude unworthy professors who are yet in regular standing. They invite all who love our Lord Jesus