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TUE IVY RK FUBLIC LIERARY 630896A ASTOR, LENOX AND 'TILDEN FOUNDATIONS
R 1932 L
Oliver & Boyd, Printers.
Some individuals, who have professed to look deeply into the structure of human society, tell us that analogy has much in store for man ; because, though it is not infallible, it is that powerful engine or telescope of the mind, by which it is marvellously assisted in the discovery of both physical and moral truth. The great expectations which are entertained, they would found upon the extraordinary discoveries which have been made in physics, under the guidance of analogy: that powerful engine, they say, in the mind of a Newton, having discovered to us the laws of other worlds; and in that of Columbus, having put us in full possession of our own. “Shall some discoveries in physics,” it has then been said, “ be so important as to produce a complete revolution in society, and jothers so powerful, that the very inventors of them have not as yet dared to apply them; and shall not discoveries in morals be allowed a still more paramount and universal influence--an influence the greater in proportion as matter is inferior to mind?” Under the influence of these anticipations, says the same individual, “ I foresee the period when some new and parent idea in morals, the matrix of a better order of things, shall reconcile us more completely to . God, to nature, and to ourselves.”
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Between discoveries in physics, and, what have been called, morals, there is, unquestionably, one strong analogy—that they are new only to us; all such discoveries being merely the observation of what has been true, from the beginning of the creation. To this parent idea in morals, therefore, many will not object, if it is shewn to be older than the ages of nations and cities, and if it involves nothing more than what has been already revealed by God in his word; just as all discoveries in physics, though not sooner observed, acquire peculiar interest from the conviction, that the same objects had been before the eyes of all preceding generations. At the same time, never let it be forgotten, that there is one material distinction between, not only the investigation, but the effects of discovery, in physics and in morals. Discoveries in the former are often flattering to human vanity, and conducive to the comfort or convenience of this transitory life only. Morals, if they deserve the name, carry us above the starry firmament, and point beyond the grave; and in morals, since man has thrown off his allegiance to God, any discovery, if we may so speak, must be expected, not only to remind him of his apostacy, or rebellious disposition, but to be resisted by all the vicious propensities of our nature; and before it can meet with a practical attention, it must be accompanied or followed by an influence from above-precisely the same quarter from whence the Revelation of God itself has come.
Yes, all the discoveries which man can make, or expect, in morals, are already before his eye, in the pages of divine revelation ; and although “he who believes the Scripture to have proceeded from Him
who is the Author of Nature, may well expect to find the same sort of difficulties in it, as are found in the constitution of nature;"* still he will tell you, that, as the Sun and the Moon have been apparent from the beginning, to every man endowed with eyesight, so there are cardinal truths in the firmament of divine revelation, to which every enlightened mind, in all ages, has cordially subscribed. But, oh! were Christians, under the power of a docile spirit, only once brought to bestow but the same patience of research on that blessed Book, which the astronomer, and naturalist, or geologist, have done upon the world of Nature, then would they serve their generation with superior effect indeed, and leave discoveries behind them too, which their successors might follow up, when even these heavens and this earth were no more. The discovery of only one fixed star interests the world, and points the telescope to the same spot, in every land where it is known to be visible; but Christians in general, though living under a finer light, and placed in more favourable circumstances, are, alas ! yet far from discovering, as they ought, a deeper and more general sympathy for discovery, in their appropriate sphere of research. When that day arrives, and arrive it will, benefits will accrue to man, infinitely superior to any which have resulted, from the most splendid secret that has ever been evolved from the firmament of heaven, or the bowels · of the earth; and then will men say—“Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” Meanwhile, such a spirit, if regulated by appropriate re
verence, and caution, and patience, or, as the Scriptures themselves would express it, in one word, by the • fear of the Lord,' would certainly lead to farther discovery of the hidden wonders' in divine revelation; which, even after all that have been observed, seem to be still as numerous as the stars of heaven. Then, too, would many a Christian find it not impossible to give various instances in proof, “ that as the north star, though it be less luminous than many others, yet, by reason of its position, doth better guide the pilot than even the moon herself; so are there some texts in Scripture which, though less conspicuous in themselves, are, by reason of their relation to a context, more instructive than other more radiant passages.”*
Should any reader, then, be in pursuit of this “parent idea in morals, this matrix of a better order of things,” let him feel no disappointment, though he should hear both philosophy and ethics say, it is not in us--or human sagacity, it is not in me ; for, after all, perhaps he may find it within the narrow compass of a single human dwelling, where the Parent has lived from the beginning. And what if this parent idea should have been unfolded, with force and perspicuity, in what God himself hath said, respecting this singular little group of immortal beings? At all events, notwithstanding their many imperfections, by the time that the reader has finished these pages, perhaps he will agree with the writer, that, however slender the analogy, when once the analogy which does exist, between this small and unpretending Domestic
* The Honourable Robert Boyle.