SPIRITUAL LAW IN
THE NATURAL WORLD:
T0 touch the subject of classification even, one must be
very bold, very ignorant or - and I would rather have this considered to be my
own case - very confident in his guide. It will be seen, in fact, that I have
already touched it, and that my readers have some right to assert that the
principles that have been announced ought, if true, to carry one further. If
nature has, to the extent affirmed already, in these pages, a numerical
structure, then is it at all likely that this should be but so partial a truth?
Must not the smaller divisions, as well as the larger, if once they are
ascertained, be characterized by these significant numbers? Nay, would it not
seem that their first service to us here, if, as is plain, they are meant to do
us service, will be to verify true classification?
Certainly this seems a first necessity in order to find what deeper meaning than we have yet realized lies hid in nature. We must have some arrangement of the multifarious objects she presents to us which will save us the impossible toil of accumulating in our minds the tens of thousands of points of detail, - of resemblance and of contrast, - which distract and bewilder us, if. without a clue we attempt to penetrate what is yet, even to the most devoted students of it, so much a wilderness of facts and hypotheses.
Classification, if it be a true one, is the putting things in their places, defining their relationship to one another and to the general plan; and that plan - if there be one -must be Gods plan, the expression of the divine mind in nature, the lesson He has set for us to learn, however poorly or imperfectly we may in fact learn it. Classification is in this sense of transcendent importance; and I trust, the thought of this may plead for me, if I offer but some scattered and feeble suggestions as to it, which, if they be little enlightening, may yet help another perhaps to find the light.
Surely, the thing that becomes us, as those in our Fathers image, is to expect to find everywhere in what He has made the impress of its Maker, His own manifestation to the minds of those who seek Him in it. And (it may be again said) if He have forbidden to us idle words, there will be in all this no idle word. Serious, yet blessed meaning will face us everywhere; and to look for this is to find it, if only we look reverently, as those that value what they search for. Here the law holds good, - every one that seeketh findeth. Encouraged thus by the Word of God itself, we may go on.
Classifications are numerous enough, but in looking round among them one can find few indeed that claim for themselves any principle of construction which can give us the least hope of such a clue to the divine plan as we are seeking. The meaning that Darwinism seeks has no purpose in it, therefore no intelligence; and the systems devised in this interest have as their only end, to discover the genealogical tree of life, which, whether it has its root in chance or necessity, was never watered by the river of God, and bears no fruit but Dead Sea apples. Nor in general has any divine plan been seriously thought of. There is, however, an exception to this; and, if "he that seeketh findeth, we may hope to have here at least a beginning of truth. Strange to say, the first outline of it was struck out nearly at the same time by two, men entirely apart from one another, the Wallace and Darwin, let us hope, of a better day beginning, and for which we would be glad to believe in the "survival of the fittest." That its discoverers have passed away, and the system itself has, after awakening some attention for awhile, died also, need not forbid hope, for many a truth discovered has had ordained for it such a death, and yet in, due time resurrection; and it may be so with this.
The system has for us also this additional attraction, that it is a numerical one. Thus our hope brightens, especially as it purports to be not a hypothesis, but a discovery - a report of what those versed in certain branches of natural history had seen in their respective departments; not a theory of what should be there, but of what (according to their belief) was there.
The first of these discoverers had given himself to the special study of insects, and the volume which contained his first rough sketches was called Horæ Entomologicæ. But Mr. McLeays system was taken up, and in some sense remodeled, by a well-known man, and author of a book in which it was elaborated and applied especially to Ornithology - the "Fauna Boreali Americana." From a later and smaller book, the "Geography and Classification of Animals," published in 1835, I take the outlines of the completed system.
The first principle of Mr. McLeays system is, that every natural series or group of animals is circular; -
"So that, upon commencing at any given point, and thence tracing all the modifications of structure, we shall be imperceptibly led, after passing through numerous forms, again to the point from which we started."
The second principle is, that the divisions of. every group, where any exist, are five in number. To which Mr. Swainson adds, that the primary circular divisions of every natural group are three actually, and five apparently. He calls these three, the typical, subtypical, and aberrant groups; and adds -
"The difference of considering a natural group as divisible into three instead of five, does not in the least affect the natural series by which they are united. The discovery of the union of Mr. McLeays three aberrant groups into a circle of their own, is the addition only of a property superadded to that which they were known to possess; this property consisting of uniting into a circle among themselves, as well as passing into the typical and subtypical groups."
The third principle is this, -
"That the contents of every circular group are symbolically or analogically represented by the contents of every other circle in the animal kingdom."
And the fourth principle, which seems really involved in the last, although it was first stated explicitly by Mr. Swainson, is "That the primary divisions of every circular group are characterized by definite peculiarities of form, structure, and economy; which, under diversified modifications, may be traced throughout the animal kingdom; and are therefore to be regarded as the primary types of nature."
This is the completed system, certainly remark-able for its simplicity and symmetry at any rate, while its requirements are sufficiently great to make it impossible, if they can be met in practice, for the system which can meet them to be other than the truth. We shall return to this directly.
The second discoverer of this numerical system was Elias Fries, a distinguished botanist, who in his Systema Mycologicum applied it to -
"The full investigation of the whole class of Fungi," says Mr. Swainson, "through all its minor groups or subdivisions.". "It is very remarkable that this consummate botanist, totally ignorant of the previous publication of the Horæ Entomologicæ, should have detected the same principles of circular affinities therein developed, and should have illustrated them by analysis much more fully. Yet, although these naturalists agree in considering the circularity of groups to be the first principle of the natural system, they differ in the determinate number of their groups; those of Mr. McLeay being, in fact, ten (or, according to his subsequent belief, five); and those of M. Fries four. It seems, however, that the centrum or typical group of the German botanist, is always divisible into two series (sed centrum abit semper in duas series); and that each of his series or groups is a circle appears evident from the following words : - Omnis sectio naturalis circulum per se clausum exhibet, - that is, every section, series, or group forms of itself a circle. Hence it follows, that, as one of M. Friess groups, according to his own account, is always divisible into two, thus their total number is not four, but five. The difference, therefore, between this theory and the last is rather nominal than real: for as M. Fries at the same time detected the theory" - principle? - "of representation, by which the contents of one circle typified the contents of a neighbouring circle, this, of course, led him clearly to understand, and to define the difference between analogy and affinity."
Thus two natural explorers, in different departments of research, came to the discovery, they believed, of a natural system, in itself sufficiently striking in its features, and much more so as independently developed. The distinguished naturalists to whom I have compared them had predecessors more or less in their own line. It does not appear that Messrs. McLeay and Fries had any help of this kind; and their views seem certainly to claim, if only on this account, a careful examination.
The system also, as I have said, is one which, taken in all its features, makes too many demands upon its followers, to carry without conquering the minds of practical observers; and that it has been capable of being applied by those who were such to different and extended fields of natural research, argues for it much. It does not hide itself from examination in the mists of geologic ages, or, discount unlimited "drafts upon the bank of time," but appeals for examination in the light of nature as it is today, and expects its riches from existing bullion. We may take it up hopefully, especially as a numerical system, and which as such we may test by what light we have got from numbers - a test of a very strict kind, as must be evident. How will it be borne? How will Scripture vindicate itself here again as the interpreter of nature? Shall we find it still a spiritual realm; and its law therefore spiritual law? Let us see.
We have, then, a quinary system which in a certain aspect of it is also a ternary one. These numbers, three and five, are very prevalent in the organic kingdoms. Among plants the flowers of exogens habitually have their parts in fives, those of endogens in threes or multiples of three. In the animal kingdom, the typical foot of the vertebrate is divided into five, as the joints of the digits are typically three. Three we have seen to be the number of the organic kingdoms, and that which seems to stamp them as organic. Moreover, this specializing of parts which is meant by organization implies also the unity of that for which each part exists: the three readily connects with one, as we know, and one writer has spoken of it as the number of "constitutional completeness." It is thus a number well fitted to be used in the arrangement of those organisms which are also, as it were, the organs of the whole creation.
Of the number five in this connection it is more difficult to speak. The meanings already ascribed to it suit only man; not the lower creatures, except it be that which from the human hand speaks of measured capacity - a not unsuitable meaning, however, for do not these five types, in fact, measure the capacity of that to which they apply? and may it not be that as the three speaks of constitution, the five speaks of function? Thus would mammal, bird, fish, amphibian, reptile give us the full range of function - thus the practical meaning of the vertebrated animal. And good it is even to think whether it perhaps may have a meaning! in this direction, if our thought be infantile, it is none the less a good thing to begin to think.
But now we must remember that each of these divisions is a circle, if natural; when we have reached our fifth point we are on our way back again to whence we started. Is it not strange, then, that in this number five, as already looked at in an entirely different interest, we have found a four and one - the four of the creature and the one of God - actually met together! Thus, having started with one, we get back to one again: there is a closing of the circle therefore! and with blessed intimation of a meaning full of the inspiration of hope!
For why have our naturalists had to give up that thought of a linear series in nature, which even now, in a mere involuntary retention of it in the Mind, spoils the great mass of systems?. Why but because that linear series is either something in which we drop, ever down without recovery away from God; or, it may be, ascend, but not toward God, and so in result never to reach Him? This is atheistic Darwinism in its real character, or, on the other hand, mere natural godlessness, which allows - things to have come from Him, but will, not have them return to Him. This quinary circle, read in the light of its number, reader - a number which, remember, neither of its discoverers knew as having meaning, - tells us that nature is a circle that begins with God and returns to Him again: it is a planet that has its orbit from Him, and more; its function and work are to bring us His message, and lead us back to Him again.
Thus the system stands the numerical test well, so far; does it not? Not only so, but the numbers seem ready to bring out of it a wealth of meaning, - beyond what we could have imagined. We have only begun, however; and have now to examine, with Mr. Swainsons aid, these primary types of nature, and see what more the interpretation of the numerical system may add to this.
He says -
"As every natural group is first divided into three circles, so it follows that there are three primary denominations of groups; and these, as we have already explained, are called the typical, the subtypical, and the aberrant: by these names we express their denomination, and we shall now treat of each in detail.
"The first distinction of TYPICAL groups is implied by the name they bear. The animals they contain are the most perfectly organized, - that is to say, are endowed with the greatest number of perfections, and capable of performing to the greatest extent, the functions which peculiarly characterize their respective circles. This is universal in all typical groups; but there is a marked difference between the types of a typical circle and the types of an aberrant one. In the first, we find a combination of properties concentrated, as it were, in a certain individual, without any one of these preponderating in a remarkable degree over the others; whereas in the second, it is quite the reverse: in these last, one faculty is developed in the highest degree, as if to compensate for the total absence or very slight development of others.
"Let us exemplify this proposition by familiar instances. The crow has been considered the pre-eminent type of all birds, it is also the type of a typical circle. It consequently unites in itself a greater number of properties than are to be found individually in any other genus of birds; as if, in fact, it had taken from all the other orders a portion of their peculiar qualities, for the purpose of exhibiting in what manner they could be combined. From the rapacious birds, this type of types, as the crow has been justly called, takes the power of soaring in the air, and of seizing upon living birds, like the hawks, while its habit of devouring putrid substances, and picking out the eyes of young animals; is borrowed from the vultures. From the scansorial or climbing order, it takes the faculty of pecking the ground and discovering its food when hidden from the eye, while the parrot family gives it its taste for vegetable food, and furnishes it with great cunning, sagacity, and powers of imitation, even to imitating the human voice. Next come the order of waders, who impart their quota to the perfection of the crow by giving to it great powers of flight, and perfect facility in walking, such being among the chief attributes of the grallatorial order. Lastly, the aquatic birds contribute their portion by giving this terrestrial bird the power, not only of feeding upon fish, which are their peculiar food, but actually of occasionally catching them. In this wonderful manner do we find the crow partially invested with the united properties of all other birds, while in its own order, - that of the Insessores, or perchers, - it stands the pre-eminent type. Here, then, is an example of the characteristic properties of the type of a typical circle.
"Let us look at the type of an aberrant circle. The woodpecker is of this description, for it is the permanent type of the climbing bird (Scansores) , which is an aberrant tribe. Here, instead of finding a combination of diversified characters similar to those belonging to the crow, the whole structure becomes adapted for one particular purpose - that of climbing trees, and extracting from them the allotted food."
I do not, for I need not, proceed with the long and interesting description that follows, of the way in which this is carried out. It is evident that in the last case unity is exemplified in the very one-sidedness, or narrowness, of the development. But on the other hand, it is not less, but more, shown to the reflecting mind in that balance of attributes which we find in the former one. Moral unity is shown in such a balance of moral attributes in which is no defect and no excess. The idea is better appreciated by our narrow minds when the idea is narrow. The woodpecker is the typical climber, but the crow, the typical bird.
Unity of idea, whether the idea be full or narrow, is, then, the characteristic of the typical form. Mr. Swainson has not the least suspicion of any meaning in numbers; yet he has here given the thought as correctly as if he were writing with full knowledge. And he adds, -
"Perfection in the number of species or of forms is also a remarkable and very general character of pre-eminently typical groups; " illustrating, as usual, with examples. This is, indeed, a consequence of that fullness of idea which is found in whatever is pre-eminently typical. In the crow, we have it exemplified in the species; but it may be equally well in a genus, a family, or an order. And it is striking to find this as fully characteristic of the first books of Scripture. Thus Genesis, which heads the books of the Law, Isaiah, the first book of the Prophets, the Psalms, which in the Hebrew begin the, poetical books, have fully this character; and in the New Testament, Matthew, first of the Gospels, Romans of Pauls epistles, 1 Peter (which, however, does not with us stand, as it should, at the head of the catholic ones), are plain examples in their respective sections. This may serve, with all else here, to show how thoroughly the hand of One Writer is to be found alike in the books of Nature and of Revelation.
Now let us pass on to the subtypical groups, and listen again to Mr. Swainson: -
"II. Subtypical groups, as the name implies, are a degree lower in organization than those last described, and thus exhibit an intermediate character between typical and aberrant divisions. They do not comprise the largest individuals in bulk, but always those which are the most powerfully armed, either for inflicting injury on their own class, for exciting terror, producing injury, or creating annoyance to man. Their dispositions are often sanguinary; since the forms most conspicuous among them live by rapine, and subsist on the blood of other animals. They are, in short, symbolically the types of EVIL; and in such an extraordinary way is this principle modified in the smaller groups, that even among insects, where no other power is possessed but that of causing annoyance or temporary pain, we find in the subtypical order of the Annulosa (Aptera, Linn.), the different races of scorpions, acari, spiders, and all those repulsive insects whose very aspect is forbidding, and whose bite or sting is often capable of inflicting serious bodily injury. If, again, we look to the subtypical groups of quadrupeds and birds, this principle of evil is developed in the highest degree; both are armed with powerful talons, both live on slaughtered victims, and both are gloomy, unsocial, and untamable. The formidable toothed bill which so strikingly distinguishes rapacious birds, will be found in every group which represents them in the entire order of perchers, and these groups amount to more than one hundred. . . . Even in the smaller subtypical groups of larger circles, which are themselves typical, this extraordinary characteristic is manifested, though in a much smaller degree. Take, for instance, the American group of monkeys (Cebidæ, Sw.) which belong to the typical order of Quadrumanes; of that circle it is the subtypical group, and we accordingly find that, while the family of true apes (Simiadæ) live, in a state of nature, upon vegetable-diet alone, the Cebidæare partially carnivorous, and that many prowl about to destroy life by feeding upon insects, and even small birds."
He gives much more to the same effect, but this is enough for our purpose; enough indeed to create astonishment if there be room for it, after all that we have had before us already. For how is it again that Mr. Swainson gives us one of the characters of the number two, strongly marked in Scripture and in Nature, while he says and knows nothing of the meaning of the number which stands there side by side with the name of the groups of which he speaks? It is now some years since, when studying the grouping of the Psalms, that I found to my surprise that commonly in a second series, whether of smaller divisions or of larger, and often in the. second psalm of a very different group, the subject was in some way the enemy. It was not till a good while after, that I found the root of the meaning in. nature, two speaking naturally of difference, hence of contrast, opposition, the enemy. And it was not till later still, that I found in Mr. Swainsons book this definition of his second subtypical groups. Is it, with all else that we have seen in the same way, accident merely that it should be so? Will those say it who know what the nature of chance is?
But if not chance, what is it? Is it not, then, surely truth, and of God?
Second; not first, for evil is necessarily inferior to the good, - "a degree lower in organization than" the typical, says Mr. Swainson. A type of evil ordained for us out of the animal creation, he that will may find in Gen. iii. Is not this the secret of the strife in nature that goes on around us, that God would thus provide us with such object-lessons as are these? Does not spiritual law govern the natural world still in all this?
No doubt there is much else in these subtypical groups, and, if we are to conclude from what we find in Scripture, this number will not always have an evil significance, but often the reverse. However, we are just now following Mr. Swainson, and it will be better to let these things develop themselves in practice than to give ourselves to what may be mistaken theorizing. Let us go on now to his third, or aberrant groups, which, however, as containing three distinct types, he can only in general characterize as aberrant, or departing from the more typical forms. We might call them more appropriately, I think, specialized; and then at once shall find their number as a third group quite in harmony with their character. The nature of this specialization we shall learn as we take them up separately now.
But these specialized groups stand in relation to the first two, as 3, 4, and 5, while they all come under number three of course also, as types more narrowly specialized than the first two. We have to inquire yet what they individually mean. This is literally true, while I write, that I am myself inquiring with my reader, and propose to take him into my confidence, and think out my thoughts aloud, as I have been doing in much that is already written. There will be in it, thus, much of the charm of a voyage of discovery for us both: who knows what surprises may be in store for us, and with what argosies of treasure we may return to port? Meanwhile, as we have taken Mr. Swainson for our pilot, at least as long as he shall give us satisfaction, we will go on with him.
He says, -
"It will therefore be necessary to consider aberrant groups as naturally divided into three distinct types. We shall, for the present, distinguish these by the names we have assigned to them in ornithology, the only division of zoology Wherein they have been accurately traced. It maybe objected to this plan, that to designate a type of quadrupeds or of insects by the same term as that which is appropriated to birds will lead to a confusion of ideas. But on the other hand, as these types, throughout the animal kingdom, are found to present certain characters in common, the advantages of designating them by common names are abundantly obvious. Hereafter, when the subject has undergone deeper investigation, we shall suggest more comprehensive and appropriate names. For the present, therefore, we shall term them the Aquatic, the Suctorial, and the Rasorial: these collectively form the aberrant circle of every group in the animal kingdom.
"The NATATORIAL or AQUATIC types, represented by the natatorial order of birds, as the name implies, are more especially inhabitants of the waters. They possess many and striking peculiarities, modified indeed, in the most astonishing manner, but more conspicuous perhaps throughout all natural groups than any of those belonging to other types. We shall consider these characters under the heads of structure and economy, and exemplify our remarks by some familiar instances.
"I. As to structure, aquatic types are chiefly remarkable for their enormous bulk, the disproportionate size of their head, and the absence or very slight development of the feet. If we look to the primary divisions of the vertebrated animals we see one of those peculiarities very strongly marked in the fishes, the only class wherein the feet, in all individuals, are entirely wanting, while every one is aware that no fish can exist unless in its own element . . . . As we approach the more perfect animals, we begin to see the development of another singular feature; namely, a very large, thick, and obtuse head, furnished with jaws capable of great expansion; and terminated by a blunt or truncated muzzle or snout. This structure implies the peculiar power of seizing their food by the mouth alone, without the assistance of feet or claws; and as this power would only be necessary to such animals as lived upon others, we according find that nearly all natatorial types are carnivorous . . . . Subtypical forms, as we have already seen, are pre-eminently carnivorous, but they differ from the natatorial (which always follow them) in this, that the food is captured by the aid of the claws, whereas in the types we are now speaking of the mouth alone is the instrument of capture.
"II. As to the economy of the aquatic types, we have already premised that they are almost entirely carnivorous - a habit which is naturally to be expected in any group which joined, or immediately blended into, the subtypical. We have seen that the feet are slightly and often not at all developed an incapacity for quick motion is the natural result of such an organization"
I have omitted Mr. Swainsons illustrations, because they are not at present of any service to us, though we may more or less have need of them at a future time. All we want at present is the typical idea which we are then to proceed to test by the meaning of the numbers. The number is 3, which easily may here indicate specialization or transformation, as it is in outward form indeed carried out in these forms to the extreme. Three is also the number of solidity, which in popular phrase is applied to bulk; but this is much more doubtful in application. To a strictly natatorial type the number would not point, nor perhaps any number, and when Mr. Swainson reckons as of this type the owl and the ostrich, it is plain that he cannot mean to insist upon the absolute accuracy of the designation. He can only mean that in the aquatic tribes we have in general the best exemplification of the type. Of carnivorous habits also the numbers say nothing.
What we might infer from the numerical stamp would seem to be that we are at the furthest extreme from the typical, as it fact we are nearly at the opposite point of the circle, - the most transformed or in disguise: for the three is doubly stamped upon it by its position in the quinary series and its position also as a member of the aberrant circle.
It is clear that either Mr. Swainsons definition somewhat fails here, or the power to apply the numbers, or else the numbers do not apply. There is a faint resemblance, but not at all what we have found before, or what we had felt encouraged to expect. On the other hand there is no positive disagreement either, and the clue to a fuller agreement may be found as we go on to the fourth type with our guide.
"We are now to consider the SUCTORIAL type of form: this corresponds with the tenuirostral type among perching birds, the grallatorial among the orders of that class, the gliriform among quadrupeds, and the onisciform and vermiform in the class of insects. We shall, however, designate all these order under the common name of suctorial, because it is more generally applicable to the habits of the animals here alluded to than any other. One of the chief peculiarities of this type is, that the food is imbibed by suction; a mode of nourishment which is of course accompanied by many remarkable deviations from the structure of other types. These are always the smallest in point of size, the most feeble and defenseless in structure, and the most defective in the organs of mastication. In all these characters the suctorial stands in direct opposition to the natatorial type. In such as belong to the vertebrated circle, the feet are always fully developed; for these animals are peculiarly active, and enjoy in a remarkable degree the power of leaping and running The suctorial form is also widely different from the natatorial in other respects; there is a great length or attenuation of the body, the head is always very small, generally prolonged into a pointed snout, and the mouth as adapted for sucking is uncommonly small: in some few instances it is not, in fact, apparent. All animals belonging to this type are shy, and evince little or no propensity to become domesticated. They are without offensive protection; but nature, as if to screen them from their enemies, has endowed them with great caution, uncommon vitality, and in many cases has protected them either with a bard skin, or a coating of bony armour which entirely envelops their body, and repels all injury."
Here it is evident that there is again a correspondence between the type and its numerical stamp. "Weakness" is undoubtedly one of the most fundamental meanings of the number 4, as it is the fundamental thought in the type here. And if to this we add that it is the number of the mineral kingdom, this might well remind us of the many of these to whom it has been given, as to coral for instance, to provide for itself and in its own structure, the strength of the rock as their defence. The suctorial element in the type we can scarcely expect to find indicated in the number; but on the whole there is a clear and unforced correspondence between this and the type.
Only one more remains to be considered: -
"The RASORIAL type, so termed in ornithology, is the third and last which enters into the aberrant circle - which circle is always closed by the union of this type with the NATATORIAL; hence it follows that they approximate in their general characters. First, as to the form and structure of rasorial types. They are, in general, remarkable for their size; being inferior only to the natatorial. From these they are further to be distinguished by the strength and perfection of their feet; the toes of which (in vertebrated animals) are never united so as to be used for swimming. This perfection, however, is of a very peculiar kind; since it is contained to the powers of walking on dry land, or of climbing among trees. These scansorial powers, in fact, although occasionally found in other types, are so very frequent and remarkable in this, that it may be considered one of the peculiarities of the rasorial structure. This is the type so remarkable for the greatest development of tail; and for those appendages, for ornament or defence, which decorate the head . . . . But it seldom happens that both these peculiarities are united in the same group . . . . The food, in conformity to their dispositions, is almost always vegetable . . . . This is again, one of the strong points of opposition between this and the [natatorial] type.
"But what more especially distinguishes the type we are now describing is the superior degree of intelligence and docility that runs through all the groups of vertebrated animals belonging to it. It seems to have been ordained by Almighty Wisdom, that there should be one type above all others whose powers were to be more especially devoted to man, and which should evince an aptitude and a disposition to submit to his dominion, far above all other created things. This is the grand characteristic of all rasorial types among the more perfectly formed vertebrated animals, whose size or structure are in any way adapted to answer the end proposed. This principle of nature was partially perceived by Linnæus; an analogy, indeed, so apparent to the commonest observer, that we can only feel surprise at its ever having been questioned by any one, much more by those who are naturalists . . . . All our quadrupeds of burden or of food are taken from the Ungulata. The horse, the ox, the sheep, and the goat are in our meadows and pastures; while the dog is a rasorial type of the Fercæ."
I have quoted so much that we might have the characters of: this type fairly before us. At first sight, it would look as if they could be of no service, as we have already confessed as to this number, 5, how little the thoughts that come under it seem to apply to the lower creation. But it is one of the many encouragements that we have been finding all the way through the present examination, that the numbers not only interpret, but also receive interpretation from nature; and so it is in this case. The number five as applied to man, speaks of man with God, the 4 of the creature being added to the 1 of the Creator; and we have brought this forward already to show that with 5 the circle closes therefore. But in the lower sphere in which we now are penetrated everywhere as it is however with divine meaning the 1 represents man, instead of God, but man as His vicegerent and in His image. Thus this last character of the rasorial type, as described by Mr. Swainson, the "aptitude and disposition" of those exemplifying it "to submit to his dominion," is surely as remarkable as unexpected an illustration of the number before us. Man with God means man subject to Him, under His dominion: here we have the shadow of that in the lower creatures.
And thus, may we not say, at the end of the survey of the creature, we are reminded by these examples that they, are put into mans hand to be his servants, - a good and needed admonition of the hand that bestows all, and to take reverently His gifts - gifts, but thus trusts, even as this number 5 is the number which speaks also of our own responsibility, and of the account we have to render to Him who has bestowed the gift.
Go To Chapter Ten
Home | Links | Literature