The Law Of Nature’s Constancy Subordinate To The Higher Law Of Change -- By: Edward Hitchcock
BSac 20:79 (July 1863) p. 489
The Law Of Nature’s Constancy Subordinate To The Higher Law Of Change
The constancy of nature has ever been a prominent article in the creed of the philosopher and the divine. Indeed all classes of men adopt it as an infallible truth. They read it in mathematical lines upon the cycles of the heavens, and nature’s manifold operations around them seem usually to proceed in an invariable order. So certain are we that this is a great law of nature and that every effect in nature has a cause, that when any unusual phenomena occur, such as an aurora borealis or a shower of meteors, although no known law, perhaps, will explain them, men in civilized lands never think of calling them miraculous, and confidently expect that ere long they will be found to be a part of the course of nature and controlled by invariable laws. Indeed constancy is suppose to be the great law of nature that extends to all worlds and all events, and controls, and ever has controlled, all other laws. The only exception is that made by the believer in Christianity, who maintains that its miracles interfered with nature’s established laws for a time, but that time has now gone by. It is getting, however, to be somewhat fashionable even for professed recipients of the Bible to regard the order of nature as so unalterably settled that the idea of its interruption by such an event as a miracle is absurd. Says a recent able writer, a renowned professor of geometry in an English university: “The enlarged critical inductive study of the natural world cannot but tend powerfully to evince the inconceiva-bleness of imagined interruptions of natural order or supposed suspensions of the laws of matter, and of that vast
BSac 20:79 (July 1863) p. 490
series of dependent causation which constitutes the legitimate field for the investigation of science, whose constancy is the sole warrant for its generalizations, while it forms the substantial basis for the grand conclusions of natural theology.”1 Again, the same writer says: “In nature and from nature, by science and by reason, we neither have, nor can possibly have, any evidence of a Deity working miracles; for that we must go out of nature and beyond reason.”2
But is this a true representation of the course of nature? We take different ground. When we study the manner in which the different laws by which events are brought about operate, when in antagonism with one another, as they usually are, and especially when we study the early geological history of life on the globe, we are forced to ascribe a mightier influence to the law of change than to constancy. We shall endeavor to maintain th...
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