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For such men, in this country, and at this day, there is a great demand: and they are the only class of the intellectual breed for whom there is any demand.
THE INVESTIGATOR of truth is a very different character. Occasionally pale, occasionally hectic; always thoughtful, pensive, absent, lost, absorbed, fond of solitude. His ardour has nothing to do with the blood or the passions; it is kindled entirely by the will, by a deliberate, stubborn determination that he will know the truth. His courage is of a singular character it consists in an awful terror of being defeated. Having formed his determination, he buckles on his knapsack, with a few mathematical instruments in it, takes his staff in his hand, and bidding adieu to the whole human race, places himself in the very middle of the highway, and steps off, with the earth beneath his feet, the heavens over his head, and the God, who made both the heavens and the earth, his sole companion, and his only trust. He proceeds slowly, marking every thing, till coming to a place, where the road has been strewed with trees torn up by a hurricane, and greatly injured by torrents, and looking to one side, he sees a fine open way, and reads on the finger board this is the road-and hastily taking it he proceeds. He comes to a lofty structure, and reads a name in LARGE CAPITALS. I am right, he cries. This is a triumphal pile, erected, to the glory of some mighty chief, who on this spot reaped the laurels of victory in the cause of truth. On he goes, and passes many such monuments; but at last he finds himself between two mountains, towering perpendicularly to the heavens, and a dark, noisome gulf before him, he can advance no further!
Reader, he went out in search of truth, and he has
not lost his labour-He has discovered, that the truth which he is in quest of, is not to be found in that road, and that no man ever will find it there. He has solved one problem, he knows he is wrong; but how did he get wrong? This is his next problem. He retraces his steps, and now he reads, as he returns, the whole of the inscriptions on the monuments; and to his utter amazement, finds that these are all of them, the tombs of mighty chiefs, who in times of old had encamped with their armies on these spots; and had perished during the night, by some pestilential vapours peculiar to the soil. He hastens on to the finger-post, and finds the whole inscription to be this, The road to destruction.
Placing himself once more in the very middle of the high way, he moves right forward, and after infinite toil, at last surmounts every obstacle, and finds himself in the right road. Willingly would he repair the breach, and remove all the obstructions, but he is unable; and his duty calls him to go forward. But before he proceeds, he notes accurately the longitude and latitude of the spot; and then commits himself once more to his journey. And thus he proceeds, night and day, through winter's cold and summer's heat; in all winds and all weathers, some times lost in wrong roads, often in the right; and sometimes in the dismal darkness of the night, under the pitiless pelting of the storm, he begins to doubt whether there be any road at all, till he recollects that he is sure he once was in it; sometimes in the desperate agonies of his heart, he is tempted to wish he never had heard there was a road, till at last he is relieved from his doubts, and catches a momentary glance of the path by the flashes of the lightning of heaven.
Reader, the number of men who set out on this jour ney is probably greater than we imagine; but many of them are lost in the false ways, and many of them breathe out their souls in the true way, solitary and unknown. Like Houghton and Parke, they perish in the noble attempt to trace a path by which civilization may travel into the abodes of horrid cruelty; but unlike Houghton and Parke-etiam periere ruinæ— their very names have perished.
Should one of these travellers live to return home after his circumambulation, he finds himself a stranger in his own land. When his neighbours see him seated in his own plain cottage, drinking only the water of the same well, and feeding on the fruit of the same tree, as in his youth; they are apt to consider him as a weak and visionary man, who gave himself a great deal of trouble to little purpose. But the censure is not entirely well-founded. For he sits more securely in his cottage than formerly, knowing that it is the only one on earth, that is thunder proof; he drinks of his spring more copiously, because he knows that its waters alone know no poisonous mixture, no impure sediment; and eats his fruits with greater delight, because he is sure that they grew on the tree of life. And though the aged may have grown too wise to need his instruction, he may have an opportunity of warning their children to stay at home in their own native land; which is the glory of all lands. But if any one of them should determine to see the world for himself, the old traveller hands him his map, bids him God speed, and prays earnestly for his safe return.
But reader, lest thou shouldst think that I carry thee too far out of thy road; I shall carry thee right into the middle of the Calvinistic churches.
When I see a new moral theory springing up in other churches and denominations, I care little about the matter; considering the theorist to be, among his party, a very innoxious animal. But when I see a theorist among Calvinists, I tremble. This oddity of temperament; or, as the great American physician would call it, this idiosyncracy of constitution, has arisen, I suspect, from the following causes. The peculiar attribute which has distinguished the Calvinistic sect, in all nations, and in all ages, is a firm and stubborn faith. I use these epithets in their fullest and most favourable sense; a Calvinist will believe God's word, but he will believe nothing else, in matters of religion. Talk to him of the decisions of ten thousand councils, he cares nothing about them, and indeed, rarely gives himself trouble to know any thing about them. Talk to him of moral theories, expand their beauties, display their uses he listens patiently, and when you have done, laconically quotes at you a text of scripture. In short, the head of a Calvinist is bullet proof against any cannon of any calibre, unless the bullet be a text of scripture. This is not satire. It is only truth with a benevolent smile; and I treat that lady, as I do all her sex, I prefer her smiles to her frowns by far. I mention it to the honour of that section of the christian church; and I mention it as the great secret of their characteristic firmness in doctrine, and other matters connected with doctrine.
But causes produce effects. And this characteristic devotion to faith has been the cause, that while no sect has been so rich in sound theologians, who have taught the pure doctrines of the gospel, who have enforced its pure morality, who have conducted afflicted souls through all the mysteries and mazes of Satanic tempt.
ations, and saintly feelings and experience; no sect has been so poor in moral philosophers. I cannot recollect the name of one single moral philosopher in the whole, I mean a philosopher with a theory. Whenever such a philosopher has appeared, he has led off his column from the army, and formed a new encampment, at first bidding defiance to his ancient friends, and afterwards making war on them. Such were Arius, Socinus, Wesley, Priestley, and others. I mention these names only as exemplifications of the fact, that a Calvinist with a new theory always leads off his column from the grand army; but I protest against ranking them together as equals.
Perhaps the instance of president Edwards may be quoted against me; but I do not think it ought. He was the cause, he sowed the seed, of the Hopkinsian sect; but if he were back on earth, with the principles he had when he left it, he would not join those who call themselves his pupils. And even he is a strong proof, that the moment a Calvinist turns philosopher, there is a danger of a schism. Is the doctrine of the bible then in opposition to philosophy? No: That is not my meaning. It is philosophical, most philosophical ; infinite wisdom cannot establish a constitution which shall not be infinitely philosophical.
But my meaning is, that the philosophy of Christianity is by far too vast and too profound to be understood, till the philosophy of language, and the philosophy of the human mind, and the philosophy of man in general, as a sentient, intelligent, social being, has made great advances. We can, however, enjoy Christianity without its philosophy: as Pliny enjoyed the sun, when his philosophy had ascertained no more than that it was just a little bigger than Mount Athos. I can eat my dinner without being a chymist, or a phi