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whether of danger, distress, or difficulty, the man who cultivates this intercourse with the incomprehensible One “inquires in his temple.” He inquires for the guidance of divine wisdom, and the strength of divine aid, in his progress through the state of moral discipline; he inquires, in a peculiar manner, for this aid in the culture of his moral being, when he views this mighty undertaking in its important reference to the life which is to come; he inquires for a discernment of the ways of Divine Providence, as he either feels it in his own concerns, or views it in the chain of events which are going on in the world around him. He learns to trace the whole to the same unerring hand which guides the planet in its course; and thus rests in the absolute convic. tion that the economy of Providence is one great and magnificent system of design, and order, and harmony. These are no visions of the imagination, but the sound inductions of a calm and rational philosophy. They are conclusions which compel the assent of every candid inquirer, when he follows out that investigation of mighty import,—what is God,—and what is that essence in man which he has endowed with the power of rising to himself.
THE PROVINCE OF THE MENTAL FACULTIES
IN MORAL IMPROVEMENT. THE restoration of man from a state of estrangement, anarchy, or moral death we are taught in the sacred writings to refer to a power from without the mind,-an influence directly from God. But, without in any degree losing sight of the truth and the importance of this principle, the immediate object of our attention is rather the process of the mind itself, by means of which an habitual influence is produced upon the whole character. This is a compound operation, which may probably be analyzed in the following manner. It seems to be composed of reason, attention, and a modification of conception. The province of Reason is to examine the truth of the statements or doctrines which are proposed to the mind as calculated to act upon its moral feelings; and upon this being done in a correct manner must depend the validity of the subsequent parts of the mental process. This being premised, it is the office of Attention, aided by reason, to direct the mind assiduously to the truths, so as fully to perceive their relations and tendencies. By the farther process, analagous to Conception, they are then placed before us in such a manner as to give them the effect of real and present existence. By these means, truths relating to things for which we have not the evidence of our senses, or referring to events which are future, but fully expected to happen, are kept before the mind, and influence the moral feelings and the character in the same manner as if the facts believed were actually seen, or the events expected were taking place in our view. This mental operation is Faith ; and for the sound exercise of it the constituent elements now mentioned are essentially necessary. The truth must be received by the judgment upon adequate evidence; and, by the other parts of the process, it must be so kept before the mind, that it may exercise such a moral influence as might arise from the actual vision, or present existence, of the things believed.
Attention to these considerations will probably enable us to discover some of the fallacies which have obscured and bewildered this important subject. When the impression which is thus allowed to influence the mind is one which has not been received by the judgment, upon due examination, and adequate evidence of its truth,—this is enthusiasm,-not faith. Our present course of inquiry does not lead us to treat of the notions which have, in various individuals, been thus allowed to usurp the place of truth. To those who would preserve themselves from the influence of such, the first great inquiry, respecting their own mental impressions, ought to be,-are they facts ?-and on what evidence do they rest which can satisfy a sound understanding that they are so ? On the other hand is to be avoided an error, not less dangerous than the wildest fancies of the enthusiast, and not less unworthy of a regulated mind. This consists in treating real and important truths as if they were visions of the imagination, and thus dismissing them, without examination, from the influence which they ought to produce upon the moral feelings. It is singular also to remark how these two modifications of character may be traced to a condition of the reasoning powers essentially the same. The former receives a fiction of the imagination, and rests upon it as truth. The latter, acting upon some prejudice or mental impression which has probably no better foundation, puts away real and important truths without any examination of the evidence on which they are founded. The misapplication of the reasoning powers is the same in both. It consists in proceeding upon a mere impression, without exercising the judgment on the question of its evidence, or on the facts and considerations which are opposed to it. Two characters of a very opposite description thus meet in that mental condition, which draws them equally, though in different directions, astray from the truth.
BEST USE OF THE STUDY OF NATURE.
The study of nature ought to be made subservient to religion. Let philosophy be the handmaid of theology. There is not a star in the heavens, nor a flower in the fields, which does not declare the glory of God. To look upon nature, therefore, without any reference to its Author, to admire the work, without admiring the Workman, is folly, is stupidity, is atheism. How cold is the heart, and how dull the understanding of the man, who, contemplating the magnificent spectacle of the heavens, feels no pious emotions arising in his breast, and is completely absorbed in the speculations of science ! He is not to be envied, although the voice of fame should pronounce him to be the first of philosophers, who sees nothing in the universe but matter and motion ; and having pointed out, perhaps more successfully than others, its constitution and laws, still refuses to acknowledge an intelligent Agent, who made and governs it. Alas! that in this enlightened age, there should be so many to whom the severe, but well founded remark of an inspired writer, concerning the
sages of antiquity, may be, with too much justice, applied : “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”
OMNIPOTENCE OF GOD.
Would we be struck with admiration and astonishment, at beholding a superior created intelligence tossing a mountain into the sea ? What strong emotions of reverence and awe, then, ought to pervade our minds, when we behold the Almighty every moment producing effects infinitely more powerful and astonishing! What would be our astonishment, were we to behold from a distance, a globe as large as the earth tossed from the hand of Omnipotence, and flying at the rate of a thousand miles every minute ! Yet this is nothing more than what is every day produced by the unceasing energies of that Power which first called us into existence. That impulse which was first given to the earth at its creation is still continued, by which it is carried round every day from west to east, along with its vast population, and at the same time impelled forward through the regions of space at the rate of sixty-eight thousand miles in an hour.-Nor is this among the most wonderful effects of divine power: it is only one comparatively small specimen of that omnipotent energy which resides in the Eternal Mind.- When we lift our eyes towards the sky, we behold bodies a thousand times larger than this world of ours, impelled with similar velocities through the mighty expanse of the universe. We behold the plenary globes whecling their rapid courses