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they increase with rapidity, for they find abundant nourishment in the infusion, and as they must have air, they come to the surface, where they form a pellicle which thickens from day to day; it is a world of infusoria, a common table where monads devour bacteria, and colpods monads.
M. Pouchet gives an entirely different interpretation to these facts. He contends that colpods cannot pass through filters, because they are larger than the pores of paper, which is true. But such reasoning does not destroy the fact, and M. Coste answers it by affirming that the soft, gelatinous colpods attenuate and lengthen themselves so as to pass the pores. M. Pouchet asserts that there are neither eggs, nor spores, nor organs
any kind in the filtered liquid, but that life is gradually organized on the surface, in contact with air, and that it forms there a scum which spontaneously engenders eggs from which come successively vibrions, monads, and colpods. He gives no decisive proof of his assertion; it is only a simple interpretation which he proposes, and refers to that of M. Coste. But M. Coste adheres to his own.
It may not be amiss to publish the opinions of savans. We will, however, only repeat that of one of the secretaries of the Academy of Sciences, the highest authority behind which we can take refuge. M. Flourens has expressed his views very laconically: “As long as my opinion was not formed, I had nothing to say. Now it is made up, and I will express it. M. Pasteur's experiments are decisive. If spontaneous generation is a reality, all that is necessary to produce animalcules is air and putrescible liquids. M. Pasteur puts air and putrescible liquids together, and nothing comes of them. There is, then, no spontaneous generation. To doubt any longer is not to comprehend the question."
The reader now has learned the important points of this great discussion, and may judge for himself. It remains to explain the part which these diminutive beings, so little known, our terrible enemies or industrious helpers, our scourges or our benefactors, play in nature.
All beings, from birth to death, accomplish without interruption a determinate chemical work. Thus animals take oxygen from the air to consume a part of their substance; while vegetables decompose carbonic acid, retaining the carbon and returning the oxygen to the atmosphere. The same law applies to microscopic beings, except that each species seems destined to accomplish a chemical action peculiar to itself. We have seen, for example, that the yeast of beer transforms sugar into alcohol and carbonic acid; it cannot live without fulfilling this mission, and dies when there is no sugar. Now the vegetable kingdom never produces alcohol, but forms considerable masses of sugar in all fruits, in the stems, roots, and sometimes the leaves of plants. After the death of the plant, the sugar, dissolved in water, is decomposed by yeast, which is developed naturally, increases, and transforms the solution into a fermented liquor. Wine, beer, cider, and all fermented drinks are thus made. In its turn, alcohol mingled with water becomes the receptacle of vibrions of a particular species, which appear upon the surface, where they form a scum. These have an entirely different function. They absorb oxygen from the air with great energy, convey it to the liquor, and partially burn the alcohol, which is changed into vinegar, and at length, if the vinegar is left in the air, it becomes the abode of the mycoderme of wine, which continues the same action, burns the vinegar, and converts it into carbonic acid and water. A vibrion curdles milk and forms cheese. Animals of the same order decompose at length nearly all animal and vegetable substances, and as the number of these little beings cannot be counted, the work of each is multiplied to infinity. The definitive action of this invisible world is one of the moving powers of the world, and is worthy following.
We owe to it fermented and alcoholic liquors, vinegar, cheese, leaven, and consequently bread, besides a large number of less known substances. Every vessel in which a colony of these beings has established itself is a manufactory of chemical products, a hive which labors for man, and whose collective industry he superintends and directs without understanding it. This is not all; the invisible world presides over all decomposition. We have just seen how, by successive stages, it converts sugar into alcohol, alcohol into vinegar, and vinegar into water and carbonic acid. What it does for sugar it does also for all organic matter. After death the carcass of every animal is given up to mucidines, which grow upon its surface, and to special infusoria, which live without need of oxygen, and are developed in the interior. They attack the blood, the flesh, all the liquids. When the work of one species is accomplished, another succeeds it; decomposition continues, and finally all the matter of the body is converted into water, carbonic acid, and ammonia, and is wholly restored to mineral nature. Life has completed death. If this invisible world did not exist, animal and vegetable matter would decompose but slowly, and the earth would bear upon its surface for long years the undecayed remains of past generations. This mission of these beings is beneficent and necessary. Sometimes it turns against the living world. Mucidines destroy the grape, grain, the potato, and cause great public calamities; sometimes they attack animals, as the muscardine the silk-worm; and it is not improbable that some species may cause the cholera, the plague, and other terrible contagious maladies. The attention of men of science is turned in this direction, and we may hope not in vain.
Dr. Davaine has for some years given his attention to the study of that fatal malady, the rot in sheep. The blood of sheep afflicted with this disease, when examined with the microscope, was found filled with animalcules similar to bacteria, which were called bacterida. When it was injected into the tissue of another animal it carried with it these bodies, which increased till they caused certain death. The disease was as certainly transmitted, when an animal was made to swallow the blood or any part of a creature affected with the rot. The infected blood could be dried and preserved indefinitely without taking the infusorial germs from it, and whenever it was injected or given as food the disease was transmitted. Since the symptoms of the rot are similar to those of another terrible disease, the scab, inquiry has been made if there was not a closer connection between the diseases. The scab begins with a blackish pustule surrounded by a vesicular ring, which must be quickly cauterized or a general poisoning will take place. On the 14th of April of last year, Dr. Rainbert had to treat a malignant carbuncular pustule on a laborer of a farm where the sheep had the rot. He took off the pustule, dried it, and brought it to Dr. Davaine, who examined it under the microscope. It proved to be entirely composed of bacterida. Ani. mals to which a part of it was given to eat, took the rot. Here then is a disease transmitted from sheep to man, appearing in him as a pustule, which in its turn can convey its virus to other animals, the virus being composed of infusoria of a particular venomous species. The smallest quantity is sufficient to kill, because it is enough to sow the species; the disease is conveyed by inoculation, the animalcules pass from one individual to the other; it is propagated in the air, because the germs are borne away and sow themselves, perhaps also, as some believe, by the stings of fies, for they have been the means of the transmission of bacterida. Such is the explanation, no less simple than certain, of the effects of a particular virus. The future will show if it is possible to extend so fruitful a theory to analogous cases. But now we may comprehend the hopes of physiologists, and anticipate their success. Perhaps we may learn how to prevent and cure contagious diseases.
The employment of a lay or local ministry is a distinguishing peculiarity of Methodistic economy. It was not the part of a plan existing in the mind of Wesley when the great religious movement of the eighteenth century began, but a new development in the work which Divine Providence had assigned him to do. In fact, so far from its being a plan originally existing in his mind, when the great question itself was presented to him he instinctively shrank from it. The idea was utterly repugnant to his Church notions, and contrary to all his previous views of order and propriety. Hence, when he was informed by letter, while at Bristol, that Thomas Maxfield had occupied the desk at the “Foundry” during his absence, he hastened back to London, to check what he regarded as a manifest irregularity. But his aged mother, whose wise and cautious hand had often preserved him from rash measures, as well as strengthened him in the right, was still lingering on the shores of time, and her counsels dispelled his fears and led him to recognize the hand of God in this matter; for when she perceived in his countenance unusual anxiety and dissatisfaction, and heard himn abruptly say, “ Thomas Maxfield
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has turned preacher, I find,” she checked him by saying, “Take care what you do respecting that young man; he is as surely called of God to preach as you are.” After this Mr. Wesley heard him preach, examined into the fruits of his ministry, and yielded to the conviction that his mother was right. The precedent was now fairly established, the prejudices of years swept away, and the way opened up for the employment of any number of such laborers in the vineyard of the Lord. For if one man, unversed in science, unknown to the universities, taken from agricultural, mechanical, or mercantile pursuits, was clearly called of God to the work of the ministry, then any number of men, with such surroundings, might be called to the same work. Hence, while Maxfield has the honor of standing first in that great list of worthies who have carried the Gospel to the ends of the earth, lay assistants were soon multiplied on every hand. Thomas Richards, Thomas Westall, John Nelson, and a host of other men, were raised up, and went forth, under the direction of their great leader, “to spread scriptural holiness over the land.”
It must be clearly evident to every reflective and unprejudiced mind that in no other way than by the employment of such a ministry could the immense demand for the bread of life, which existed both in Europe and America, have been met. Without this agency, countless thousands would have gone to their graves and to eternity without ever having heard of the glad tidings of salvation. In multitudes of instances the people were too poor to pay a minister, could one have been obtained; and too ignorant and degraded to desire one had he been offered to them. Methodism, by adopting this ministry, met the great want of the middle and lower classes in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and America.
This lay ministry, devoting a portion of the time to industrial pursuits, obtained thus a livelihood; while anointed with the Holy Ghost it went forth on week evenings, and especially on the Sabbath day, in all the destitute districts of the land, bearing the messages of mercy and salvation. True, they often exhibited a lack of polish and refinement, of educational advantages and high social position ; but, in place of these, there was a sturdy, vigorous common sense, a heart all aflame with the love of Christ, and a clear, joyous, personal experi