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the primitive nebula is only thus far on the way to regain its primitive form ; grant, too, that an infinite number of nebulæ are undergoing the same transformations, and that this present world, a phase merely in the cycle of the nebular curve, has an infinite number of worlds antedating the present cycle and a corresponding number to succeed ; grant all this, yet is it any easier to conceive of an eternal rhythm of worlds proceeding with undisturbed order, unguided by intelligence, than to conceive of the evolution of a single world, when the data assumed are not sufficient to explain its existence ?
By evolution we understand that a inore perfect phase of being is the outcome of one less perfect. This proceeds on the theory of the Persistence of Force. Evolution is based on this as a principle demonstrated by physics. But evolution does not explain why force should persist in one form rather than in another. Does this remove the necessity of some guiding force which shall cause the development to take place in the right direction ?
But, it will be said, suppose that evolution, by whatever course it might take, would always produce beings, not just like us, perhaps, with the five senses and knowledge of extension in three dimensions, but beings equally worthy of respect, although their seven senses enabled them to perceive extension in four dimensions. That beings of another order may exist can neither be affirmed nor denied. Yet we maintain that the evolution of organized beings of any order whatever is a phenomenon absolutely certain only on the ground that causes shall be uniform in their effects.
Creation by evolution offers the same alternative as creation by any other theory. This alternative is chance and finality. There is no middle ground. The action of efficient causesthe common basis of law and design-depends upon like combinations of matter. In holding a doctrine of chance the same absurdities are involved here as elsewhere, and the same argu." ment which attributes finality in matter to conscious intelligence attributes finality in the evolution of matter to conscious intelligence.
It is a part of the theory of evolution, however, that development is determined by outside influences, that the environment, by means of natural selection, moulds matter into fitting forms. But adaptations exist, nevertheless. They are only removed one step. If the parts of matter contain no internal principle of order, the external influences, at least, must contain some principle of order. If uniform results are obtained, the forces producing these results, wherever they are found, internally or externally, inust possess finality. Adaptations, therefore, exist somewhere; and adaptation demands intelligence.
This answers also another objection arising from the modern definition of intelligence. Intelligence is defined as the adaptation of imer relations to outer relations. If we admit this definition, we admit also that the intelligence of the First Cause itself is a product of evolution. We must here, with the scientist, appeal to fact. Is intelligence merely the adaptation of inner relations to outer relations? Is not the power of adapting inner relations to outer relations the very thing to be explained ? This internal something is the essence of intelligence. It is that in which intelligence consists. Moreover, by a First Cause we mean a cause producing everything -the whole universe. There can be no outer relations, then, since anything outside of the First Cause would be uncaused. We cannot affirm that the force producing electricity is the only existent force. Neither can we affirm that a developed intelligence is the only existent intelligence. Our intelligence may admit of evolution, and the influence of our surround. ings may be immeasurable, but the First Cause can be compassed by no environment. Thus our intelligence, though the same in kind as that of the Creator, must differ infinitely in degree, since the external as well as the internal influences which guide our development are in the hands of God.
But, says the Agnostic, even if evolution and the persistence of force do not adequately explain the universe, neither does any other theory. We know nothing absolutely. The constitution of our minds permits us to know nothing but the NEY SERIES. VOL. XXI.
relative. The Absolute, whose very existence is necessary to the existence of the relativa, is forover unknowable. Matter, motion, life, and mind, are only appearances. The reality is beyond our grasp. That there is something back of all phenomena, that there is a substance in the diamond, the rose, the idea, our minds constantly affirm, but what that substance is our minds are utterly unable to coinprehend.
The whole theory of agnosticism stands or falls on the meaning of the words,“ realization in thought.” If by them we mean a pictured image, if by them we mean that to think
” is to form a mental picture of a rose, to think “ virtue" is to picture virtue, to think “God” is to picture God, we are agnostics. A theory of the concept, however, which admits pure thought, which declares that we know what we mean by the word “ infinity,” even it we cannot picture infin. ity, that we know what we mean by“ square triangle” even if we cannot think of it as existing, is a theory on which the mists of agnosticism vanish ; the dark and unknown Somethir:g, though not revealed in all its fullness, becomes illumined with light.
The relativity of knowledge, moreover, forms an asylum for all questions interfering with a theory of the universe deduced from a priori grounds. But the relativity of knowledge applies also with equal force to the agnostic's own argument. “ If.” says a critic of Mr. Spencer, “ we examine his philosophy of the Unknown, we shall find that it is through a very definite and logical process that the predication of the unknowability of the Unknown is made. The Unknown is known to possess certain attributes because of which it is unknown and unknowable. The very argument assumes the infinity of the Unknown.” And again, “If Agnosticism is science, it condemns the metaphysics of evolution as grossly unscientific; for it condemns impartially every human statement of a lact, or a necessity outside of human thought.”
Agnosticism not only establishes itself on the very grounds from which it drives its foes by denying them the use of the self-same weapons by means of which it makos good its stand,
but in addition it accuses the theist of an irreverence from which the agnostic starts back aghast. Why should we worship the human attributes — intelligence, will, love ? " Why is such idolatry any better than that of wood or stone ? ” says one. In solemn awe, rather, let us approach the shrine, and render mute adoration to “ Something” of which it is an insult to affirm intelligence, a contradiction to ascribe will-power, and blasphemy to attribute love.
We might as well say-yes, we do say-give us the senseless stone. If we must worship, if it is a part of nature to wor. ship, and if the highest attributes known to mind are such that they cannot co-exist in the Divine Being, give us, thea, the stone. That, at least, can be seen by human eyes.
But is it not better to admit that the primary principles of thought, the principles which compel our minds to think in one way rather than in another, which force us to assert that “ a thing cannot both be and not be at the same time,” are eternal principles ; that they are the principles under which the First Cause itself retains its self-consistency ? Let us say that the gem of truth given us in the structure of our minds is a gein inany sparkles of which are obscured in the evolution of its setting, but which, undimmed and unending, glitter in the perfect light of the Divine understanding.
If we cannot know all, let us admit the little we can know. If we cannot conceive the highest attributes of the Creator, let us admit that somewhere in the unsearchable depths of His being exist the highest attributes known to 118, the attributes without which God would not be God.
After our reason tells us that there is a Being all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, let faith, doing her perfect work, gire us a God whose wonder, glory and majesty “eye liath not seen nor ear heard."
Harriet M. Snell.
John the Baptist.
We enter the season when the Christian world celebrates the birth of the Saviour. It may be with interest and profit that we dwell on some of the conditions which environed the people to whom the advent was made. In so doing our attention is specially directed toward the bold herald, John the Baptist,—the “ voice in the wilderness preparing the way.” Though the divine glory first shone in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not, it is probable that our appreciation of Christ is heightened as we understand the customs and intellectual life that distinguished the peculiar people to whom the divine glory was made manifest.
Both sacred and secular writers lend assistance in the study of this remarkable man, the worthy successor of Isaiali and Elijah, at once the last and greatest in the grand procession of Israel's prophets. Of priestly descent, the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth, he shared from youth tlie advantages of the house of Levi.
When John was born Palestine was subject to priestly rule. According to the Talinud there were no less than twenty-four thousand priests in Jerusalem and vicinity, chiefly maintained by the offerings of the people. The theory of priestly suc. cession was searching. Genealogy must be established, and the candidate must be of perfect form of body and possess the requisite accomplishments in the Jewish law. At the
of six vears every child was instructed in the Hebrew Scriptures. When he was ten he was supposed capable of receiving the higher instruction from the celebrated doctors of the law. The people had ceased to speak to any extent the Hebrew language. From the time when Alexander swept through Palestine, and made the sacred land tributary to the Grecian Empire, the people gradually acquired the vernacular of their masters until Hellenic Greek was everywhere spoken."
1“ Our nation look on this sort of accomplishment” (viz , the pursuit of learning and