« EdellinenJatka »
regret devolves on others, duties he would gladly fulfil if it was in his power, committing the little exile to the care of the Divine Guardian and Teacher,-may honestly expect the blessing of Heaven upon a school education and discipline. But, in most cases, parents like so many things far better than the delightful • task' which the Poet sings of, that they cannot bring themselves to make the requisite self-sacrifice. It is impossible to educate a child, without carrying on simultaneously a process of self-improvement, which is its own reward; but the trouble, the time, the restraint and confinement, the mental effort, are greater than enter into romantic anticipations; and hence, the disappointment which often leads those who have begun a system of home education, to grow weary of well doing. The promise applies to this sort of service, as well as to others : “ In due time ye shall reap, if ye faint not.” But no mother who does not feel this to be the chief end for which she is a mother, and who cannot enter into the sentiment of the noble matron,-. These are 'my jewels ', - will sustain the burden, and submit to the conditions, of carrying forward the education of her children to the period at which their principles ought to have become fixed, and their intellectual powers and affections will at least have been developed.
And yet, it is one of the most legible lessons of nature, that, our chief business in this world is to reproduce ourselves ;—not, like the ephemeron which deposits the seeds of a multitudinous progeny, and dies,—not like the animal races, by perpetuating the mere forms of sentient existence,--not by simply becoming parents of heirs to mortality; but by reproducing the noblest, the distinguishing part of our nature, the intellectual and spiritual man, whether in our own children,-put directly into our power for this very purpose,-or in the minds of others. The highest duty of one generation is to prepare for the next,—to endow posterity with all its intellectual and moral wealth,—to reproduce its own accumulations in an augmented and improved form. And what is the common duty of the whole community, is the individual duty of each. The instinctive love of posthumous fame, might teach us, that the social economy has been designedly constituted upon that principle of successive reproduction by which mind perpetuates itself;—by which the parent lives on through the child he has trained, the author survives in his works, and, above all, the spiritual parent *, the instrument of regenerating the souls of others by imparting the spiritual life he has himself received, secures in them and with them a glorious immortality. Were every true Christian duly emulous of thus adding
* Gal. iv. 19. I Cor. iv. 15.
f heaven, by been by his instrueapidly. And
to the population of heaven, by becoming the spiritual parent, if it were but of one or two individuals, by his instructions and influence, the regeneration of society would proceed rapidly. And were religion transmitted, as it was designed to be, in families, the Church of God would soon present a new aspect. But alas ! our children are educated in masses, and converted, if at all, singly, and as it were fortuitously.
But we have been imperceptibly led into a train of remark not very closely connected, it may be thought, with the subject of geology, in itself considered. Mrs. Hack's Sketches, however, though not designed exclusively for young persons, is obviously adapted to recommend the study as a branch of domestic education. Dr. Drummond has some sensible remarks on the advantage of directing the attention of the young to the study of nature.
• A well-directed attention to the works of nature, tends in an incalculable degree to elevate our conceptions of the omnipotence and unerring wisdom of the Almighty, and is congenial to every innocent and amiable propensity of the human mind. It is to be regretted, however, that comparatively few persons have distinct or enlarged ideas of the world around them. The objects which have been familiar to their eyes from infancy, are considered only as matters of course; and while every thing that appears in the vast page of creation is, one should think, tempting them to a perusal of its origin and history, the general bias, unfortunately, is to put a chief value on deviations from nature, and to consider only, as curious and interesting, those irregular productions which break through her laws, which mar her beauty, which are aberrations from the wisdom that formed every thing in perfection, without blemish, and without possibility of amendment. Living in the midst of all that is magnificent, or awful, or lovely,-in scenes where the hand of God has fixed its seal and impressure in the strongest characters, we yet neglect these familiar and ever present manifestations of his power, while to every thing bearing an appearance of novelty, however monstrous or absurd, we attach an undeserved and childish importance.
• This, I am satisfied, arises principally from the general neglect of natural history as an ordinary branch of education.
"I know and feel that the usual pursuit of it as a science, and its study in that disposition of mind which adds to the developments of science a constant reference to the Deity, and an unceasing appeal to final causes, are very different from each other. The one may, to a certain degree, degenerate into a mere love for the curious, or have for its chief end and aim the perfection or improvement of some system of classification, without looking much further: the other must ever continue to ennoble our minds, to raise us every day to higher and higher conceptions of the power and wisdom of God ; and to afford a happiness as pure, perhaps, and as permanently exquisite, as man in his present state of being can possibly enjoy. And still, in these studies, and in all the meditations to which they may give rise, there can never be a fear of running into dangerous extremes of enthusiasm, nor into a blind and arrogant confidence in ourselves, or in the rank we hold in the creation. The more we can understand of the works of God, the more we must be convinced of his power, and necessarily the more humble must we seem in our own eyes; but, at the same time, that cannot be a slavish humility : for, in proportion to the evidences of his omnipotence, we find those of his goodness at least equal; and, consequently, while we feel awed by his majesty, we are at the same time impelled to confide in his justice, and to consider him as the friend, and not the tyrant, of our race.' pp. 1-4.
In the latter part of this extract, the Writer goes very much too far in ascribing to his favourite study, not merely a beneficial tendency, but all the effect which the discoveries of Revelation are adapted to produce. He either overlooks or conceals the difficulties which the physical evil and obvious derangement in the present world create, and of which Deism can offer no satisfactory solution. He forgets that it does not belong to the guilty, to confide in the justice of their sovereign ; and that the marks of the Divine severity are far more unambiguously stamped upon the present system, than the tokens of that peculiar modification of His goodness which, as exercised towards the rebellious, is called mercy.
Dr. Drummond is the Author of an admirable little volume, entitled, First Steps to Botany', which has been favourably reviewed in our pages. His present volume is not less pleasingly written, and abounds with various information relating to the whole region of natural history. It is with extreme regret that we find ourselves compelled to notice an obvious wish to substitute what is improperly termed Natural Theology for the Christian Religion, and Sunday lectures upon astronomy, entomology, and botany for the religious instruction of the people. It is remarkable, that, although the word Mahometanism occurs in the Index, the words, Christianity' and 'Bible' are not to be found there; and the reference to Mahometanism is for the insidious purpose of ridiculing a faith in miracles. Whenever we ima'gine things to take place contrary to the laws of nature', says Dr. Drummond, we are sure to be getting deep into error.' But how we are to judge of what is really contrary to the laws of nature, his young reader is not informed. Had he been born in Constantinople, he is told, he would have had to believe in the pretended miracles of Mohammed.
· Had such been your education; had such ideas been impressed on your mind from the earliest dawn of thought and memory, the longest life, independent of the perpetual prayers, ablutions, and ceremonies of the Mahometan church, might not serve to discover to you the cheat; but with the constant repetition of these, with the means of temporal advantage which the real or affected zeal for them is calculated to afford, with the reputation of being pious and a favourite of Heaven,
and with the many other advantageous et ceteras which zeal secures in Mahometan, as in too many other countries, it would not be easy for you to see the real truth. Indeed, you would shudder, or feel the highest indignation, at the book or creed of your early initiation being hinted at as containing any thing but the truth, and that the most im. portant of all truth; so that, as an honest man, you would continue simply in error, or, as a fiery zealot, you might persecute to death, if in your power, all who should presume to deny the everlasting truth and divinity of the Koran. As a champion of the holy faith it propounds, you might cheat, lie, persecute, be arrogant, be cruel, be blood-thirsty ; but having the faith, believing in the Prophet, having your trust in the sacred book, in the holy Koran, having fought for it, having persecuted for it, having in every shape sinned for it, having murdered for it, having extirpated heretics, having spit upon Christian dogs, having fought, and hoisted the crescent above the cross, and all for the Koran, you would consider that you had made out a fair title to pass the bridge al Sirat, to drink the water of the river of paradise al Cawthar, after which the blessed feel thirst no more, to enter heaven, whose gravel is of pearls and precious stones, and its trees of solid gold, to live for ever with fifty houries or girls of paradise, and reside in palaces sixty miles long and as many broad, and each formed of one single pearl. Had you been born and bred a Turk, such you would have expected as the reward of your faith in the Koran, and of the zeal displayed in your exertions for its propagation.' pp. 169, 170.
And there Dr. Drummond leaves his pupil, with a malicious smile worthy of Mephistopheles himself; secure that the inference he has not the courage to put into words, will be silently drawn. Not a word is added even of decent compliment to the Bible; on the contrary, the reader is cautioned against submitting to the mental tyranny of believing what reason and nature teach him to know is false; it being plainly implied, that the miracles recorded in Scriptare are not more entitled to credit, than those of the Koran, and that English Christians have no better reason for their faith, than these Turks.
. If a Joanna Southcote or other insane fanatic appear, there are thousands to become believers in the pretended mission; or if a Hohenlohe assume to wield the powers of Heaven, whole nations will rely on the faith of the unprincipled cheat. And can nothing be done to give men a knowledge of natural religion, which is, perhaps, the only cure for this silly and pernicious belief in wonder-workers and hotbrained or cunning knaves, who thrive by imposing on the weakness of their brethren? It is well known that a number of the clergy of the Established Church were firm believers in Joanna Southcote being the woman who was “ clothed with the sun, and with the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars." Rev. xii. 1.'
But for this last sentence, it could not have been discovered from the contents of the volume, that Dr. Drummond knew of the existence of such a book as the Bible; and of the ninth commandment, he still seems to be ignorant. It is unnecessary to say, that the assertion respecting the numerous believers in Joanna among the clergy, is an impudent falsehood. One clergyman, we believe, did profess his belief in her mission; a thing not more surprising than that, of our learned Oriental scholars, one should have discarded Christianity for Hindooism, and ananother prefer the claims of the illustrious Mohammed' to those of the Son of God.
Had not Dr. Drummond thus flippantly obtruded upon us his malignant animosity against the Christian faith, we should have felt no disposition to catechise him respecting his creed ; and but for the highly exceptionable passages referred to, should have felt pleasure in recommending his volume for the instruction it contains, notwithstanding its negative faults or deficiencies. That such should be the spirit and tendency of the course of studies pursued in the Belfast Academical Institution, we are less surprised than grieved to learn.
Before we dismiss the present volume, we shall cite a passage, in which it is somewhat curious to find a Deist arguing against the dogmatic conclusions of the Materialist.
Now, with regard to mind, I would ask, Suppose it to be even more attenuated than light, may it not still be material ? It may, or it may not ; God is the only judge of this; no man can tell; and the truth is, no man needs care what the essential nature of our soul is. We know that we have a mind, a thinking principle, something independent of, though intimately connected with, organization. The eye conveys the forms and colours of external objects to the brain, we cannot tell how, indeed, but the eye does not see; and the brain conveys these impressions to the mind; but the brain is as blind as the eye, though it is the organ of communication with the mind in its essential form, whether material or immaterial. We know nothing, and can know nothing of the ultimate nature of mind; but it seems to be a natural feeling, that it is immortal; it is a persuasion found in almost every nation, and it is a conclusion which natural religion inevitably brings us to. I believe that the study of God in his works, stamps an irresistible conviction on us that there is a future state, and that our present pursuits are only preparatory to others of a superior order, when we shall receive higher capacities, and have more extensive means of seeing and understanding the works and ways of the Almighty. But he only can understand how we shall exist, for we can now only know mind, like light, by its present phenomena. But we see all the parts of nature in connection, her different kingdoms joining by imperceptible degrees, so that it is impossible to tell exactly where one ends, and another begins; and we also see, that the worlds which form the heavens are all connected by the unseen tie of gravitation ; nothing is isolated, all is in harmony and union. And is the mental world not so too? Can we believe that the mind, like a taper, will die out and be lost for ever? That it is merely a temporary result of