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inappreciable by our senses? We might, perhaps, be disposed to arrive at such a conclusion, if we were unacquainted with the means of restoring the silver to its metallic state, or were ignorant of any test that might indicate its presence in the fluid ; or were unable, from analogous phenomena, to infer that its elementary particles exist unchanged, and have merely undergone a different state of combination. * The reproduction of the silver may be effected by introducing some pieces of copper into the solution, to which metal the acid has a stronger affinity than to the silver ; and the latter will consequently be disengaged, and fall to the bottom in small brilliant metallic crystals. The quantity thus deposited will be found to correspond exactly with the weight of the metal dissolved, and if the minute particles be melted and cast into the same shape that the piece of silver presented before solution, it will be reproduced, not only the same in substance, and endued with the same properties it possessed before its disappearance in the acid, but even in its pristine form.' pp. 11–13.
Though solution then is one of the simplest processes of nature, yet the mode of its operation is incomprehensible by the limited faculties of man. How much more so in the still more intricate phenomena which are presented by chimistry and other sciences ! In his next chapter, after some general remarks on Evaporation, he adduces the instances of a drop of water, or spirits of wine and mercury. We need not dwell upon them, but his conclusion is decisive. “The foregoing illustrations of the phenomena of evaporation and distillation will be sufficient to show, that these processes neither destroy nor change the elements of the substances operated on; and that in the case of distillation, the effect of the apparent change in the constitution of bodies subject to them, is to separate the more subtle from its combination with the grosser Auid, without diminishing the quantity of either.” Similar results follow the process of Rarefaction. An example is, the decomposition of water into hydrogen and oxygen: two substances utterly unlike their compound, and its reproduction by another process. It would be interesting to cite this and other illustrations on this part of our subject, but we can quote only part of the concluding paragraph of this chapter.
• One of the objections that has been urged against the probability of the existence of the soul after death is, the utter incapacity of the human faculties to comprehend by what means the sentient principle, which during corporeal life is so intimately connected with the body, can exist in a separate and detached state, wanting the organs of perception, which seem to constitute the essence of life.
But when we ascertain, from the clearest possible evidence, that changes take place in nature nearly equally surprising with those that occur on death, without producing, in the former case, any destruction or change in the matter operated on; when we perceive the elementary particles of bodies reassuming, on decomposition, their simple states, or existing in new forms, the very opposite of those exhibited in their previous combinations; we cannot fail to observe in these phenomena an analogy to that more important separation of elements which, it is contended, occurs between the sentient principle of man and his corporeal frame, when the latter ceases to live. And, further, when we find that we are unable to entertain the most distant conception of the ultimate modes of operation by which these changes are effected, when the ulterior causes of the material processes that we are ourselves conducting are veiled in impenetrable obscurity,—we can scarcely presume, in the consideration of the operations of those subtile or immaterial essences that are not cognizable to the senses, to erect our ignorance as the boundary of knowledge, and refuse to believe merely because we cannot understand.' pp. 29–31.
Natural decomposition, whether vegetable or animal, is merely the same process going forward in a less rapid manner; and amid all these changes matter remains as before, indestructible. We cannot reproduce the tree, or the animal, the organization of which is thus affected, but its elements still remain, and enter into the composition of other bodies. In Combustion, a more entire apparent destruction seems to be involved. But even here the elements can be traced as existing, after all their metamorphoses, unaltered and undiminished.
• If, for instance, a small wax taper be ignited in a jar containing a known quantity of oxygen gas, it will burn with a very brilliant light, and the volume of gas will be diminished as the combustion proceeds, until either the taper be burnt out, or the oxygen gas be nearly consumed. Suppose the quantity of gas to have been sufficient to admit of the entire consumption of the taper, we should find, on weighing the product in the jar after combustion, that its weight exactly corresponded with that of the taper and of the oxygen gas before ignition, and that not one particle of matter had been lost.
• We might carry the evidence still farther, and, by a careful analysis of the aqueous and carbonaceous products in the jar, we might ascertain that they agree precisely in properties, as well as in weight, with those elementary substances composing the taper and the gas. Wax, for instance, consists of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, in the proportion of about eighty parts by weight of carbon, twelve of hydrogen, and eight of oxygen, in every hundred parts. The cotton of the wick is composed of the same elementary substances, with a larger proportion of oxygen and a smaller quantity of carbon. The principal products of the combustion of the wax taper in oxygen gas will be found to consist of water and of carbonic acid gas ; and in these substances we shall find united the elements of the taper and of the oxygen of the gas.'
-pp. 44, 45.
Having briefly sketched the outline of our author's argument thus far, we cannot do better than to quote his conclusion, as embraced in a paragraph of his general summary of this branch of his subject. * If, then, experience teaches that the operations usually considered the most destructive do not in fact destroy one particle of matter ; and if we learn, also, that those operations themselves are nothing more than the effects of new combinations, and are entirely dependent upon the operation of those combinations; we receive additional evidence of the most conclusive nature to confirm the former deductions from analogy. We thus perceive that it would be impossible for those processes which appear to change the forms of bodies to destroy the ultimate particles of matter, because the processes themselves are only effects consequent on the changes that have already taken place, and merely indicate that the new combinations have been completed.
We are not acquainted with any physical process or operation of Nature that can annihilate matter : experience teaches us that matter is imperishable; and we cannot form the least conception of the possibility of its annihilation. We are bound, then, to believe from an accuinulation of evidence so strong as to be completely irresistible, that the elements of matter which have once been created can only be annihilated by the direct interposition of the Omnipotent Power that brought it into being.
Having thus arrived, by different modes of reasoning, at the important truth that all matter is indestructible, excepting by the direct interposition of the Power that created it; the next consideration is the application of this truth, to prove the imperishable nature of the sentient principle in man.' pp. 64, 65.
Of so subtile a nature is the sentient principle, that all attempts to apprehend it, even when united with the body, are impracticable,- far more so if it is considered as separated from the body, and thus all perceptible trace of existence is removed. Our only resort in such cases is to analogy. The more numerous the independent facts derived from experience, tending to confirm the existence of sentient being, the more satisfactory is the proof. But from the preceding illustrations, and others are yet to be cited,— it appears that matter, though undergoing unnumbered changes, is yet in itself imperishable,-far more probable is it, therefore, that the mind which controls and directs the activities of matter is imperishable.
• We can scarcely conceive a greater change than that which takes place on the decomposition of water, and the conversion of its tasteless and salubrious liquid particles into an inflammable, invisible, and noxious gas, and into a solid body combined with iron. No annihilation could appear to be more complete than that of the water in this process to those who are ignorant of the nature of the phenomenon : and yet, when that is known, it affords one of the strongest proofs of the indestructibility of matter. The changes that occur on death are not greater, nor do they present a more decided appearance of annihilation, than the decomposition of water. The decomposition of animal bodies indeed exhibits, not only the destruction of the system of organization, but of the matter organized : nevertheless, not one particle is lost throughout Vol. VIII.
the complicated process; and if we were capable of investigating the mental processes consequent on the dissolution of the body, we can scarcely doubt that the sentient principle would be found to be as imperishable and unchangeable as the matter with which it was united.' -pp. 67, 68.
The closing paragraph in his preliminary observations to his second part, on THE PROPERTIES OF MATTER, will show our readers the author's proposed course of reasoning on this topic.
When, for instance, we find certain properties inherent in matter, which properties, though generally considered to be themselves material, are at the same time so subtile as to elude all attempts to ascertain their natures ;-when we find, as in the cases of cheinical attraction and of gravitation, that these properties are not destroyed nor affected by the decomposition of the bodies in which they are manifested, but that they continue inseparable from them in all changes of form ; -we shall surely be justified in considering this union of subtile active properties with inert matter as strongly analogous to the union of the sentient principle with a material body ; and the continued existence of those subtile properties of matter, after the forms with which they were combined are completely dissipated, to present a close symbolical analogy to the continued existence of the soul after the dissolution of the material system of organization with which it was united.' pp. 77, 78.
The phenomena of Light and Heat, afford some very interesting and apt illustrations to support his argument. The immense velocity of light, at a rate of speed 2,300,000 times faster than that of a ball fired from a cannon, and which would carry a ball, projected with that velocity, nine times round the earth in a second of time; the power of refraction and the composition and decomposition of light; the interference, diffraction and polarization of light; these all may serve to convince us of our inability to comprehend so subtile a substance. Our author strikingly presents the difficulties which such facts involve, and thus shows how irrational are the objections of the denier of a future sentient and spiritual existence.
If the rapidity of the communication of light were only conjectural, or were the fact supported by less substantial evidence, objectors might be found ready to prove the impossibility of any particles of matter being impelled with so great a velocity, without communicating motion to other particles of matter with which they come in contact. We might be told, that as light is presumed to be impelled or communicated at a rate 2,300,000 times faster than that of a cannon ball, it would require to be set in motion by a force proportionably greater than that which impels a ball from the mouth of a cannon ; and the supposition of such an immense impulse being given to matter by the flame of a candle, or by the smallest visible spark, might be represented as being opposed to the dictates of common sense, and contrary to the experience of the action of flame upon all other matter.
What overwhelming objections would also be raised, and what a
fine field for sarccam would be opened to the sceptics, if the phenomena respecting the general diffusion of light were founded on less than demonstrative proof! As every visible object must send rays
of light from all parts of its surface in every direction, what innumerable crossings of rays must occur before they enter the eye! and as each ray of light must, according to our notions of the action of all moving bodies, on coming into contact obstruct and influence the motions of the other rays that it crosses, it is impossible to conceive how any ray of light should, under such circumstances, be transmitted to the eye without having its course altered, or without being mingled with the other rays that it meets with in its progress.
When two candles, for instance, are burning in the same room, each flame must, we know, be sending out rays of light to every part of the surrounding walls with a velocity two millions of times swifter than that of a cannon ball. The rays must, consequently, cross each other in millions of places; and how ludicrously absurd it would be considered, and how contrary to the established modes of philosophising, to suppose that the particles of the same fluid could strike against each other with such velocity without any alteration in the direction of their motions, or without being in any way apparently affected by these continued concussions.
But if such an hypothesis would seem inconsistent with the laws of motion, when the rays are considered as proceeding from only two luminous points, how infinitely greater would that inconsistency appear, when the luminous bodies are multiplied, and when we consider that every object we behold is sending forth radiating rays, which must meet with and cross each other at every point of their progress !
Every part of the wall of the room on which the light of the candles falls reflects the light to all other parts of the room. pose the wall were divided into square inches, and that it contained twenty thousand of such compartments, each sending out a distinct and separate radiating ray of light. Each ray, before it arrived at the opposite side of the room, would have to cross those twenty thousand rays of light at every conceivable point of its course; and if we presume light to be governed by the same laws as other matter, it would appear an utter impossibility, that after these innumerable interferences of the rays of light, each separate ray should proceed in its course without the least impediment or change of direction, though the other rays against which it must impinge are traveling with immense velocity, and in different and opposite directions. But if, instead of supposing that only one ray of light issues from each square inch, we conceive,—which is, in fact, the case,—that a distinct ray of light proceeds from every perceptible point of the wall's surface, the number of crossing rays from one side of the wall alone would exceed 200,000,000, and those rays would have to meet and cross each other at every conceivable point of the progress of every ray. When we take into consideration also that these rays must meet throughout their whole line of direction with rays issuing from the opposite walls, and pursuing a directly opposite course, the mode by which each ray arrives, unobstructed, in a direct line from the luminous point whence it issues, is utterly inconceivable.' pp83-86.