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of man, who merely reads the results on the machine; and no natural philosopher can say that any event cannot possibly happen. If he tells me it cannot, I have a right to say, “For aught you know, the Maker of the machine determined at that particular period to meet a certain moral exigency, which He foresaw, and supplied by this operation taking place.” I say that Babbage has triumphantly proved such violations of the observed laws of nature to be possible ; and (we must always bear in mind) that such events may or may not be miraculous. We read that Herodotus was told by the Egyptian priests that the sun rose twice in the twenty-four hours. “Well,” the philosopher may say, “it is not true, it is contrary to the law of gravitation." I say there is nothing whatever in the presumed improbability derived from any succession of phenomena, however great, to show that we can absolutely and mathematically assert that such an event, whether miraculous or not, could not have occurred. If I am told that God heard the voice of man, and caused the sun and the moon to stand still, could I say that that was not one of the things God provided for ? There is nothing in natural philosophy to compel me to deny it. When attempting to argue against this miracle, Dr. Colenso tells me the earth could not have stood still on its axis-that its motion could not have been arrested without everything on the earth being hurled into space. But I ask how was the earth to be stopped on its axis ? It must be by a power which acted upon the motion of the earth. Now, I maintain that that power would equally apply to the trees and everything else on it. Let me take the rough comparison which Dr. Colenso mentions :-You are in a railway carriage, and a collision happens, and you are thrown forward. Why ? Because you are independent of the carriage ; but if you were tied in the carriage, and made one with the carriage, you would not be hurled forward. I would ask Colenso to explain by his philosophy, why, when we consider the earth's great velocity, every particle of the ocean at the equator is not hurled into space? It is owing to the gravitation of the earth. This same gravitation would so hold the trees and houses to the earth, that anything stopping the motion of the earth would likewise so stop their motion, as to prevent their flight into space.
I would only mention that to show that when men deny miracles as contrary to natural philosophy, we can get sufficient demonstration from mathematics to show that miracles are more probable than improbablethat they contradict no laws which the mathematician or observer of nature is bound to believe ; and I thoroughly agree with the important consideration brought forward by Dr. Gladstone, that the unhappy state of men's minds is from confining their attention to the inorganic world. As you rise from inorganics to organics, there are phenomena which would show that all the arguments raised against the miraculous are fallacies. It was well put by Mr. Reddie with regard to our Saviour's miracles, that when you rise from inorganics to organics, the philosopher is bound to admit perturbations and interruptions ; that disease is an interruption of the law of health, and that you cannot use the word law in the same sense here as you use the word law with regard to inorganic matter ; that
you can have no disease of gravitation, though you have disease of life. But there is a higher thing than even life---the soul of man. Reason is still higher, and rises to higher laws ; and when you find in the moral world there is disease, and remember that the miracles of God wrought in Scripture were to take away sin and its effects, then I say, the Christian can be a scientific man, and receive all the miracles recorded in Scripture, and yet study, with intense admiration and devotion, the works of his Creator ; he need have no fear in investigating them, and he may believe that the works of nature and revelation are in the most perfect harmony the one with the other.
The meeting was then adjourned.
REPLY BY THE REV. W. W. ENGLISH.
To make my views clearer, I would wish to add a very few words. The distinction between mind and matter, and the supremacy of the former over the latter, are points that underlie every essential part of the subject. The will of man is a faculty of the human mind, a sui potestas, and the arresting of the falling apple at will, is an illustration of the supremacy of mind or spirit over matter, though not a miracle, because here the human mind controls matter simply within its own prescribed limits. Satan or evil spirits controlling matter within their prescribed limits are a further illustration of the same fundamental point. To us their acts, when they exceed what falls within our limits, appear, and no doubt are, really miraculous, in the true sense of the term ; a miracle being, as Butler and Mr. Birks contend,“ relative” and not absolute. The great Spirit of God controls matter and its laws, within His own limits—that is to say, without limits ; for He can have none, except such as would be inconsistent with His goodness. To Him there can be no such thing as a miracle-nature, if it includes Deity, (and I see not how it can exclude it,) comprises all that is possible as well as actual. I am not sure that my short paragraph on what I termed “ the real point,” bearing upon objections drawn from physical considerations, is of itself sufficiently clear ; but I thought it would have appeared so, in the light of what I said in reference to mind and matter. I have sought to find no theory by which to account for miracles apart from God. I have endeavoured simply to show by a chain of reasoning, that we can account for miracles upon principles apart from the Bible, or an appeal directly to God's sovereignty and omnipotence. Bishop Butler does not disagree materially with anything I have said on the subject. Those “higher laws” I referred to, are moral and not physical—those principles, in short, according to which all things are wisely governed. Miracles may be real or apparent infractions of material sequence, but they are, nevertheless, fulfilments of “higher laws” of moral government.
Much confusion arises from confining the terin law too exclusively to what it can only figuratively
be applied,-matter, and not allowing it to be really and properly applied to that from which the term itself is borrowed,-mind and moral agency. Butler says a miracle is something different from a settled course of nature; he does not say it is something contrary to it, nor that it does not range under “higher laws” in the scheme of Divine Government. God cannot, it seems to me, act " contrary” to Himself, nor “violate” His own ways or acts; but, in saying this, I do not mean to confine Him to material sequence.
In using the terms an “Eternal now," and saying that with God there can be neither past nor future, I did but use the language of the great Augustine, Toplady, and philosophical writers of the present century. God's own definition of Himself, “I AM,” is very near to an “Eternal now ;” and as our notions of past and future are got from our connection with matter, I can conceive of the disembodied Spirit being unconscious of the lapse of time altogether. With it “a thousand years may be as one day ;” and when we read in Holy Scripture, “which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty”-I would say that God here speaks, as St. Paul elsewhere affirms, “after the manner of men.'
It only remains for me to thank the members of the Institute for the kind way in which they listened to my paper.
ORDINARY MEETING, Dec. 17, 1866.
THE Rev. WALTER MITCHELL, VICE-PRESIDENT, IN THE CHAIR.
The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed.
The Honorary SECRETARY announced that Mr. Alfred J. Woodhouse, M.R.I., had been elected a member of the Council.
The following Paper was then read :
ON THE GENERAL CHARACTER OF GEOLOGICAL
FORMATIONS. By Evan HOPKINS, Esq., C.E., F.G.S.,
of the VICTORIA INSTITUTE to support any geological theory, or, indeed, any of the doctrines of physical science which may be promulgated from time to time, I presume that papers describing the general fucts of geology will be acceptable, inasmuch as they will furnish materials and data by which unreasonable speculations may be fairly met and checked.
Had the public at large been better acquainted with the leading facts of geology, many speculations with reference to the world would never have been entertained. It is not sufficient to point out the absurdity of some geological speculations: we should also be prepared to show what are the actual conditions of the surface of the globe, founded on direct observations, in order to satisfy the inquiring mind and lead it in the right (lirection. The object of this paper is to give a brief description of geological formations according to my own experience, as well as the experience of others, in various parts of the world, which I trust will be of some service in discussing and elucidating questions connected with geology, when they are brought forward at our meetings as arguments bearing upon the Mosaic account of the creation or the origin of the earth. The first step towards establishing the order of deposition of the Sedimentary rocks was made about the cominencement of the present century by Mr. William Smith. He discovered, during his surveys in England, that there were apparent sequences in the order in which the beds had been laid down; that the different strata could be distinguished by their fossils; that this order of succession of different groups was never inverted; and, further, that they might be identified at very distant points by their peculiar organic remains. This classification of the sedimentary rocks became then established, each division being marked by its peculiar fossils. The founders of the Geological Society of London thus directed their attention to this theory of deposition, and the active members of the Society have almost exclusively confined their attention to this view of the science from that time to this day.
The ideal geological sections have made this order of deposition familiar to all who have paid any attention to geological works. The ascending order of the sedimentary beds is as follows:- 1st, Cambrian and Silurian; 2nd, Old Red Sandstone ; 3rd, Carboniferous; 4th, New Red Sandstone ; 5th, Lias; 6th, Oolito; 7th, Chalk ; 8th, Tertiary. As far as the sedimentary beds of England are concerned, these sections might be accepted as representing the general order and character of the beds, provided they are not made to appear to cover each other over the whole area. Although this order of the beds is not inverted, they are not of equal extent, and are merely found in patches here and there, and partially overlapping each other, where the beds are reduced in thickness and taper away. Hence the sections which represent the beds as uniformly piled on each other, and as of equal extent, from the Silurian and Cambrian below to the Tertiary above, are erroneous. With regard to the Silurian formation, it has not only absorbed the Cambrian, but actually also embraces (very improperly) the primary slates. The first mistake made by geologists, in establishing this classification of the fossiliferous rocks, was in assuming that this variety of beds was universally the same in all parts of the world. They further erred in attempting to assign to each system a distinct creation, and in naming the series of beds in other countries according to the English type, without demonstrable proof of their correspondence. This hasty and very incorrect generalization, together with the assumption that the fossils were all remains of extinct species, different from those now existing, have caused a very great injury to the progress of geological science, by giving encouragement to extravagant theories.
A mere glance at a geologically coloured globe will show how insignificant, for instance, is the extent of the area of the carboniferous formation as compared with the entire surface of the earth. The same may be said of every other division of the sedimentary series, from the Cambrian below to the Tertiaries