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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/353

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THE CONTROL OF CIRCUMSTANCES.

exactly repeated is apparently of no consequence, as long as average results are known. The notion of infinite variation, as thus implied, is defective because the identity underlying the variation is omitted. It is fair to assume that identity will keep pace with variation, and that the margin of variation must always involve continuity, or a further illustration of the order or law manifested by the phenomena considered. The history of science shows that the new relations do not render absurd the verified conclusions of reason, though much is added that has to be classified and as far as possible reduced to a reasonable basis. In fact, the variations are seen to verify the known sequences instead of lessening their certainty. We may therefore assume that vast, far-reaching forces, or forms of force now unknown, will never even seem to interfere with the obvious and seemingly necessary laws manifested by known phenomena. Such interference of unknown laws would be, as far as we could perceive, a break in continuity, or causation, and. the inflow of obvious absurdity. From this point starts the root of superstition; for persons without perception of the causation underlying all action endow the unknown forces with power to produce effects at variance with the simplest forms of sequence, the disturbance of which would at once render void the human intellect. Are we to believe that gloves were sent from Bombay to London in an instant, thus setting aside one of the first laws of matter learned in childhood? If such monstrous phenomena occur, then it is useless to think that we can trace method in circumstances.

All the evidence so far collected indicates that actions and results are related, and we are thus encouraged by the thought that no work is wasted—that it must stand to the credit of the worker. When the effect upon others is not discernible, we can be sure that the advantage still exists as latent force of character. The value of work remains good in spite of vicissitudes. This may seem trite, but we must remember that the relation between work and effect is constantly observed in a partial light, so that people are likely to be either fatalists like Micawber, or to look upon a special failure as inexcusable and as a certain indication of quality. It has been the object of this outline of so complicated a question to modify these opposing views, to encourage effort, to emphasize the rational perception of the continuity or order pervading events, and to put aside as far as possible the fearful possibilities with which some endow the mysterious power everywhere manifested in nature. As long as we feel conscious that the unknowable reality can never involve anything irrational, ill-fitting the harmony and grandeur of the sidereal universe, we feel that ideas may lessen the burdens of men, widen their thought, and teach them that these persistent effects following causes may be depended upon with entire trust. Meantime the progress of men in intelligence, toward a certain degree of happiness, continues. One of the principal factors of this advancement is that all should sincerely express personal convic-