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midst of the fluctuating ocean, not merely insignificant islets, but whole groups of islands, which in due time are rendered fit for the habitation of man himself, and do in fact become his permanent abode-but not only this, but should so order all other circumstances connected with this procedure, as, for instance, the action of the waves and winds upon this nascent little world, that when the animal has built up to that point, which its nature, for it cannot exist when removed from the influence of its native element, enables it to attain, should take up the wonderful work and complete the design of the Great Creator, and give the structure its due elevation and consolidation, should furnish it with fountains and streams of water; should cover it with a soil capable of affording sufficient nutriment to trees and plants, which should in their turn afford food for some part of the animal kingdom, and finally for man himself. How evidently does all this shew the adaptation of means to an end. What a number of calculations must be made, what a number of circumstances taken into consideration, what a number of contingences provided against, what a number of conflicting elements made to harmonize and subserve to the promotion of a common purpose, which it is impossible could have been effected but by the intervention and constant guidance of an
guidance of an unseen Being, causing all things so to concur, as to bring about and establish what he designs! And, when we further consider the multiplicity of aspects in which the subject must be viewed, in order to get a clear and correct idea of the co-operation of so many causes, seeming often at variance with each other; we may further affirm, without fear of contradiction, that the whole must be the plan and the work, as the primary and only intelligent cause, of a Being infinite in power, wisdom, and goodness.
There are two circumstances in the above account of the proceedings of these animals, that more particularly demonstrate Divine interposition. One is the precaution to which they have recourse when they build a circular reef in the sea, that they leave an opening in this part for the entrance of the tide and its reflux, so that a constant renovation of the waters takes place, without which they could not proceed in their operations, for want of their necessary aliment.
The other is, not only that they erect their buildings in the form best calculated to resist the action of the ocean, but also erect break-waters to strengthen the weakest points, and those from which the greatest danger is to be apprehended.
It is clear that beings so little organized, with scarcely any sense or feeling, are not sufficient of themselves to take these precautions, they must be directed and impelled by some power acting upon them ; which, foreseeing the want,
provides for it; this can be no physical power, for that is equally without intelligence, and acts necessarily, but it must be the result of the will and original action of Supreme Intelligence, who either so organized the animal as to direct it to certain acts, when placed in certain circumstances, by the agency of physical powers; or by his own immediate employment of these powers, influenced its action, as the occasion required.
I cannot conclude this history of the Polypes without adverting to another circumstance which proves in a very striking manner the intervention of the Deity: and that they could not have assumed the various forms under which we behold them, from peculiar circumstances, to the influence of which, in the lapse of ages they were exposed. When we see animals, buried in the bosom of the ocean, symbolize the whole vegetable world from the tree to the moss and lichens that vegetate on its trunk, and the agaric or other funguses that spring up beneath it, we are naturally led to inquire into the reason of this system of representation, exhibited by beings that have no affinity, nor are even contrasted with each other by juxta-position.
One of the general objects of the vegetable kingdom was to ornament the dry-land with what was fair to look upon, as well as with what was good for food. But the depths of ocean,
though planted with various vegetables, seem unapt to exhibit in beauty the frail blossoms of the plant, which though they can bear the fluctuations of their own atmosphere, must often be destroyed by the greater weight and more irresistible agitations of a denser element. Το ornament the bosom of the deep, therefore, more solid forms, sending forth blossoms capable of sustaining the action of such an element, were requisite : and therefore God, who gifted his creature man with an inquiring spirit, and with an appetite for knowledge of the works of creation, to furnish him with objects for inquiry, and to gratify that appetite to the utmost, not only placed before his eyes upon the earth an innumerable host of creatures, of which he could gain a notion by only opening his eyes and by observing their beauties, and experiencing their utility, might praise his Maker for them ; but also filled the deep with inhabitants, and ornamented it with animals that appeared to vegetate and blossom like plants, that his curiosity being excited, he might also study the inhabitants of the water, and glorify his Maker for the creation of them also.
But we may derive another use from the consideration of these plant-like animals, if the sceptic endeavours to persuade us, from the gradual progress, observable in natural objects from low to high, and from the narrow interval
that often separates those in the same series from each other, that by the action of certain physical causes, consequent upon certain established laws and a fixed order of things, and by the stimulus of certain appetencies in themselves, animals gradually changed their forms and organization, and thus, by slow degrees, kept improving in all respects, till at last the monkey became the man, if the sceptic thus attempts to pervert us, we may turn round upon him, and ask him, how it was that the zoophyte, buried in the depths of the ocean, should imitate the plant ? can a studied imitation every where denoting purpose and design, a mighty structure including innumerable forms and parts connected with each other and formed evidently according to a preconceived plan, be the result of the operation of blind, unguided physical agents, acting by the appetencies of these organized beings? How indeed could they have any appetency to put on the appearance of a set of objects they never saw ? The thing is morally impossible. In fact, when we survey the whole series of natural objects, and find throughout a system of representation, as well as a chain of affinities, it is as clear as the light of day, that an infinite Intelligence must first have planned, an Almighty hand then executed, and that infinite Love still sustains the whole.