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so far as it is connected with His agency, and believe that its precise nature is beyond the reach of human scrutiny and cannot be subjected to the investigation of human faculties.

Yet is it of importance, as far as it is practicable, to have precise ideas on the subject, and not be liable to the charge of utter and absolute ignorance. Life is a term which is in every one's mouth, and a thing, of which every one, at first, is disposed to think he has sufficient knowledge: but when asked to define it, who does not find himself greatly at a loss? Some definitions are too limited-others too general. Some describe only particular modifications of it-others generalize too much. It is not presumed that, on a subject where so much time and thought have been expended, we should have any thing new to communicate, or be more successful in attempting to give a definition of life. We feel that the utmost we can do is merely to approximate the truth. We hope none will accuse us of vanity, if we venture to define it, and say that




Motion of some sort is essential to our idea of life. Mere organization-understanding by this term the regular arrangement of the particles composing any body, so as to give it its specific character--does not imply life. The whole mineral kingdom is subject to certain determinate rules, according to which, the particles in any mineral substance are arranged and associated in some assuming the form of cubes, in others of rhomboids, in others that of a six-sided prism terminated by twelve scalene triangles, and in others of a different dodecahedron with pentagonal faces.

None, nor all of the innumerable phenomena of crys. tallization, presuppose or suggest the idea of life. The

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particles that compose minerals are at rest, maintaining, except when subjected to external violence their relative positions. Whatever motion among them is excited by solvents or in the crystallizing process, is referred to the play of chemical affinities, without the idea of vivification; so that all motion does not imply life.

Neither does that motion which is simply appropriate to a body convey this idea. The whole planetary system is kept in perpetual motion, exhibiting to the eye of the astronomer the amazing phenomena of gravitation, but life is not predicable of these motions.

Even what may be termed the actions of bodies, do not always imply the existence of life. One object acts upon another, and produces certain motions, and this action, with its corresponding motions, is as various as the different species of attraction whose phenomena arrest the eye of the natural philosopher. The ascent of water by capillary attraction, the motions of the magnetic needle, the electrical excitement. &c., do not not convey the idea of Jife.

The motions of which we predicate life, are confined to bodies of peculiar structure, those only which, strictly speaking, possess organization. By organization here we understand the combination and union of solid and fluid 'matter in a state of perpetual action, tending to the preserving of an individual being, and its reproduction. In the primary and more popular sense of the term organiza.. tion, it is synonymous nearly with that of arrangement, conveying the idea of some juxta-position of the parts of a body as visible to the eye, and depending simply upon the mechanical strueture of its partieles. In another and higher sensa, it denotes a system composed of parts, possessing appropriate powers and functions essential, or at least conducive to the existence and preservation of the whole. These different parts, are called organs, each having its


specific mode of action, but all combining to resist external violence, and promote the well-being, and perpetuate the existence, of the individual being or system uniting them. It is of these series of varied and relative actions that we predicate life.

Whether organic action, or the actions appropriate in an organized being, be life itsell, or the result of life, is . a question that has agitated and divided physiological inquirers. It is of some moment, in order to understand and ascertain the correctness of our definition of life, that we should determine whether it is the result of organization, or a principle having a primary and controling influence on organization itself, or the totality of that series of ac. tions or motions observable in an organized body. This differs from the inquiry whether life is dependent on or connected with organization. We can conceive of organization and life being so connected,' that the destruction of the one must secure that of the other, and the one cannot exist without the other, and yet of their being entirely distinct. But while we distinguish carefully between them, we cannot be. legitimately accused with maintaining that life is itself an essence involved in organization. .

If life be not identical with organization, it must be either a property, or a state, or a principle, or a series of actions and motions. It is not a property of organization, for it will be admitted that death eventuates where organization is yet perfect. Perhaps it is preferred, to represent life under the idea of a state, and to describe it as that state of an organized body, in which there is eventuating a process of characteristic actions. We must confess that we are less inclined to object against this view of its nature than the former; but still we decm it objectionable, because however it might do in common parlanee, it is not philosophically correct to call it a state, when it is more properly that which characterizes the state or condition,

If it be said that it is a principle, we must inquire what is meant by the term in this connection. We use the expression, commonly, to denote something which has a determining or regulating influence on action. This is its meaning in morals, and thus we speak of faith, hope, and love as principles of human action, which, though a vague phrase is well enough understood to denote the determining or regulating influence on human conduct exerted by a belief of testimony, an expectation of good, or an approbation of excellence--all of them feclings, which incite the voluntary being to action.

We should not therefore make any very serious objections to the use of the phrase "a principle of Jise,” in this general moral sense. But when we speak of animal life, and use the term principle in relation to it, as designating something which has a determining or regulating influence on the actions of the animal, or is their original, if we mean any thing very precisely and do not speak altogether in a vague sense, we must mean to designate some essence, some real substance which has power to originate action, or is their appropriate cause. For the existence of such a substance or essence some have zealously contended, while others have as zealously denied it.

The arguments in support of the idea, that life is an essence or substance do not appear conclusive. They are generally drawn from our ignorance, or from analogy, or from scriptural expressions. An example of each may suffice. Dr. Copland remarks, “we are not contending for the existence of a principle which is material according to the received notions repecting matter." This is unquestionably taking refuge in ignorance.

The argument from analogy is little better. "If we are not furnished with powers adequate to the detection of life in its essential form, does it therefore follow there is no such thing? It would be just as correct for the blind man to deny the existence and materiality of light, because he

had no delicately formed organ of vision by which to discern it, as it is to conclude that life is not an essence, because we have no sense so delicately formed as to discern this more sublimated form of matter.' Yet does not this prove that there is such an essence or substance as is contended for by some who denominate life a principle.

Nor does the language of scripture when fairly interpreted, afford more in support of it. It is true that God prohibited the use of blood for food, assigning as a reason that "in the blood is the life thereof,” which circumstance has been supposed eonclusive as it regards the fact of life's y being an essence. We can understand the declaration in these words, and the design of God in making it, without resorting to the supposition, that life is a principle per se, or essence. The words of God are, “But flesh with the life thereof, (which is the blood thereof shall ye not eat." The words, "which is,in brackets, are supplied by the translators, and the construction of the original wonld seem to exhibit the injunction as prohibiting men from cruelty, in taking a piece of flesh from a living animal for food. But if this interpretation be rejected, neither the declaration in this verse, nor in the parallel one in Levitieus, will sanction the idea that the blood involves any essence which is life per se.

Indeed the latter passage favors the idea for which we contend. “The life of fresh is in its blood,” is an assertion equivalent with this, that the blood of an animal is the basis and nourishment or support of its life, which is physiologically true. The authority and name of Dr. Hunter, and his theory on the subject of the blood having life in itself, do not shake our confidence in the plain common-sense interpretation of the words of scripture. We subjoin a note which we must take the liberty of saying is a fair specimen of that sort of obscurity which invariably attaches to tieir speculations,

1 Genix, 4u

2 Ler. xvii. 11.

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