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Norfolk; Rev. P. R. Mackay, N. B.; Rev. Professor F. Paget, D.D., Oxford ; Rev. G. W. Peck, M.A., LL.D., United States; Rev. C. C. Starbuck, United States ; Rev. E. W. Syle, D.D., Surrey ; Rev. E. S. Talbot, M.A., Warden of Keble College, Oxford ; Rev. J. H. Vincent, D.D., United States ; Rev. Dr. Wherry, D.D., India ; Rev. F. A. Wilbur, Ph.D., United States; Rev. J. R. Winchester, M.A., Ph.D., United States.

Also the presentation to the Library of the following :
Proceedings of the Royal Society.

Royal Colonial Institute.
Royal United Service Institution.
Royal Geographical Society.
Geological Society

THE PRESIDENT.—I think this Institute is to be congratulated on the large number of adhesions it has received during the recess. (Hear, hear.) I will now call upon the Rev. H. J. Clarke to read his paper,

EVOLUTION A REVELATION; OR, THE UNIVERSE UNFOLD. ING IN THE PROCESS OF TIME AN ETERNAL PURPOSE AND AN ILLIMITABLE PLAN. By the Rev. H. J. CLARKE.

*

THE

THE title I have given to my paper, as will be perceived,

lays me under an obligation to justify two debatable assumptions. I must endeavour, on the one hand, to show that à philosophical view of the origin and progress of differentiation necessitates the recognition of a law or principle which may with propriety be termed Evolution; and, on the other, to render it apparent that the process thus indicated, instead of leaving in impenetrable darkness the character and properties of the mysterious Energy which it presupposes, constitutes in some measure, if duly apprehended, their Revelation.

2. Now, before attempting to establish these propositions and before entering into particulars relative to differentiation in organic structures, it may be advisable to invite attention to the full scientific import of the term in question. When one type is assumed to stand to another in the relation of lineallydirect conditioning antecedent, the latter is conceived as having been evolved from the former, and the evolution as having been effected by some specific determination of a persistent force, the reproduction of prior characteristics being ascribed to sameness, and deviations from them to

* Vicar of Great Barr, author of The Fundamental Science.

modifying variations, in the manifold conditions under which its continued operation has taken place. Facts, however, illustrative of the genealogy of this or that organic type, having suggested, as the most probable account that could be given of its origin, the theory I have just alluded to and briefly sketched, the perception of their significance enlarged with the progress of scientific observation and research, until the principle to which they seemed to point came to be regarded as universal, and it was believed that a scientific basis had been discovered, for the notion that the production of the countless varieties and elaborate complications of form and structure which constitute existing nature had its beginning in a movement which terminated what was imagined to be an original equilibrium of undifferentiated material, and has ever since that time proceeded in the way of continuous evolution.

3. It will, I presume, be generally conceded that the acts which have been adduced in favour of this hypothesis are neither few nor unimportant; rather that they are very numerous and profoundly suggestive. But a theory of Evolution, in which the fixing of the starting-point involves an arbitrary assumption, and a primal state of things is supposed for the existence of which no exigency of rational thought can be held to have established the necessity, is obviously wanting in philosophical completeness and stability, cannot reasonably be welcomed as the key to any of those arcana of knowledge which Nature has been reserving for disclosure in these latter days, and, indeed, if it has any significance from a theologian's point of view, and comprises such assertions or negations as he may be expected to dispute, is destitute of the slightest claim to even provisional acceptance. A hypothetical scheme of doctrine, of which the fundamental hypothesis is purely conjectural, -in other words, rests upon nothing, -is ill-adapted to interpret, or rather must needs fail to exhibit in their true aspects and relations, the facts which bear upon it, whether they seem to render it credible or not.

4. Let, then, the fundamental hypothesis of the theory of Evolution, as that theory is commonly propounded, be attentively examined. The beginning of the Cosmos having been conceived as a state of things in which differentiation has as yet no place, there is but one way in which it can present itself distinctly to the imagination : it must needs be pictured as a system of homogeneous atoms in perfect equilibrium; in other words, having room to move and fraught with tendencies to movement, which, however, so long as their assumed arrangement lasts, precisely neutralise one another.

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5. A troublesome question, it is true, at once suggests itself, unless the law of gravitation may be ignored : How can it be admitted that such a balance is conceivable, except on the inadmissible supposition that the number of the atoms being absolutely infinite, the system is without a superficies, and therefore without a centre ? A system, however, of atoms in equilibrium is what, it seems, we are to suppose. Indeed, what other relevant supposition is there that might commend itself to us as being at once more simple and more definite ? Let the purely natural philosopher, putting out of view the embarrassing question I have just adverted to, suggest, if he can, another starting-point more suitable as such, and one which encumbers the theory with a smaller amount of arbitrary assumption, for the process of evolution. Even if, overlooking that differentiation is thereby taken for granted already, he should think he sees reason to

assume the existence of some permeable material medium whose property it is to originate motion in the more substantial particles of matter, and, in so far as they agitate it, to react upon them, he will find, in the attempt to imagine what he has thus conceived, that it too resolves itself into a mobile system of atoms, and that the commencement of a course of evolution still presupposes for the entire space-occupying aggregate a perfect reciprocity of neutralising tendencies. point, however, I need not dwell, provided no equivocal assumption be introduced unawares, and it be understood that the theory we have to consider is constructed on the hypothesis of an original homogeneous equilibrium of evolutional tendencies, wherein all developments which were in due time to appear have what may be called their Logos, and are, to all scientific as well as practical intents and purposes, adequately accounted for.

6. But an ideally unstable equilibrium being manifestly unattainable through the mere operation of conflicting tendencies, and as the result of movement thus generated, we cannot assume its existence without committing ourselves to one or the other of the two following suppositions :-Either (1) it has been in existence from all eternity, or (2) its constituent materials—let us call them homogeneous atoms-coming into existence at some time or other, find themselves in equilibrium. The latter supposition, if I am not mistaken, is far from likely to approve itself to persons who uphold the ordinary theory of evolution; and, indeed, in necessitating a view of origination which they repudiate, it partially nullifies itself by rendering gratuitous the hypothesis of an unstable equilibrium. As to the former, even if we should allow a status

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quo to be without beginning and yet terminable,-in other words, both eternal and temporal,--they cannot maintain the proposition that, having lasted an eternity, it has come to an end, without binding themselves, as rational beings, to account for so marvellous an incident, or at least to offer some suggestion that may seem to throw light upon its cause. A similar obligation must, of course, be acknowledged if the other supposition be adopted. To whichever of them the preference be given, it cannot be evaded. Let the instability ascribed to the imagined equilibrium be such that less than the millionth part of the force transmitted by the impact of the tiniest mote which sunbeams ever rendered visible might suffice to overthrow it, the disturbance must arise from something; it implies, but it cannot be simply and purely due to, instability. The cause, whatever it may be, is plainly ex hypothesi something extraneous to the system of balanced forces, Had it, then, in this point of view an effect that might be compared to that of the kiss by which the princess in the fairy tale is released from a trance of a hundred years' duration, and wakes up, together with her court and household ? Did it find entrance into a universe of sleeping atoms, which must otherwise have slumbered on through all eternity, and breaking, as it were, the mysterious spell that had kept them motionless for ages, rouse up their suspended energies to evolutional activity? However amply, in other respects, the theory which presents in idea an unstable equilibrium might satisfy the demands of the philosophical inquirer, an indispensable requisite has clearly been omitted-there is no suscitant force.

7. An attempt will perhaps be made to meet this objection on the ground that we are under no necessity of assuming the actual existence of an original state of exact equilibrium ; for it has been argued that, “ whether that state with which we commence be or be not one of perfect homogeneity, the process must equally be towards a relative heterogeneity."* Is it then allowed in the words I have just quoted that the fact I suppose to have been assumed is after all uncertain, that possibly there never was an exact equilibrium ? Well, but if it be true, as the writer asserts, “that not only must the homogeneous lapse into the non-homogeneous, but that the more homogeneous must tend ever to become less homogeneous,”f the concession is fatal to the theory, unless it may be maintained that the degree of heterogeneity which the universe has by this time attained is perchance the outcome of a process which had no beginning. Such a notion, I presume, may be dismissed from thought without discussion : to spend words in controverting it would be a waste of time, even if, regarded simply as assuming that a series may be co-extensive with infinity, it could not be at once refuted.* It should, therefore, be sufficiently apparent now that the theory I have been criticising lacks an essential condition of stability~ namely, such indisputably first principles as might constitute for it a base of adequate breadth. Vain are all efforts to make it stand: it may be compared to an isolated column with a huge capital, but without a plinth; let those who have constructed it do what they will to set it up, it topples over, if I may so express myself, this way or that, and falls of its own weight.

* First Principles, by Herbert Spencer, ch, xiii. $ 109.

of Id.

8. What, however, if no primordial state of matter can be imagined which satisfactorily accounts for the existence of a multiplicity of heterogeneous formis ? and what if the retrogressive investigation of the phenomenal universe is perceived at last to lead to nothing? It by no means follows that the failure of every intellectual enterprise in which that route has been taken should be accepted as conclusive evidence that the origin of things is inaccessible to science—that their beginnings are buried in absolutely impenetrable obscurity. Surely in the invincible persuasion, so unmistakably characteristic of the truly scientific type of mind, that indefatigable research in the direction of origin will find its justification in fruitful discoveries—a persuasion to which the world is indebted for substantial advantages far too numerous to be ever acknowledged in full—there is something which deserves profound respect. The thorough-going student of Nature has grasped a truth, and one which, through his agency, may be destined in some measure to benefit his fellow men, even although, it may be, he fails to see distinctly what it is, and whither it ultimately tends. The heavens and the earth having revealed to his observation that changes are incessantly taking place in the direction of the increasingly manifold, that the phenomenal universe has been from the first, and still is, progressing in the way of development, he cannot allow himself to believe that science will have ever accomplished its work, so long as in any respects its elemental

* Vide The Fundamental Assumptions of Agnosticism examined in the Court of Pure Reason, by H. J. Clarke (Trans., vol. xx., p. 180).

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