Page images

19. In withholding congenital and intuitive knowledge of them, but in bestowing faculties fitted to find them out; in rendering the exercise of these faculties agreeable ; and in leaving man, in this condition, to act for himself,—He appears to me to have conferred on him the highest boon. The earth produces also hemlock and foxglove; and, by the organic law, those substances, if taken in certain moderate quantities, remove diseases; if in excess, they occasion death : but man's observing faculties, when acting under the guidance of Cautiousness and Reflection, are fitted to make this discovery; and he is left to make it in this way, or suffer the consequences of neglect.

20. Water, when elevated in temperature, becomes steam; steam expands with prodigious power; and this power, confined by metal and directed by intellect, is capable of being converted into the steam-engine, the most efficient yet most humble servant of man. Al this was clearly prearranged by the Deity, and man's faculties were adapted to it at creation ; but he was left to observe and discover the qualities and relations of water for himself. This duty, however, must be acknowledged to have been benevolently imposed, the moment we perceive that the Creator has made the very exercise of the faculties agreeable, and arranged the qualities and relations of matter so beneficially, that, when known, they carry a double reward to the discoverer—the pleasure of mental exercise, and positive advantage derived from the objects themselves.

19. In what consists the highest boon conferred on man? Give some exam. ples of objects for the exercise of the observing and reflecting faculties.

20. How does man discover the powers of nature? In what way does the acquiring of knowledge give us enjoyment !



1. The Knowing Faculties, as we have seen, observe merely the qualities of bodies, and their simpler relations. The Reflecting Faculties observe relations also, but of a higher order. The former, for example, discover that the soil is clay or gravel ; that it is tough or friable; that it is dry or wet; that excess of water impedes vegetation; that in one season the crop is large, and in the next deficient. The reflecting faculties take cognizance of the causes of these phenomena ; and acting along with the knowing powers, they discover the means by which wet soil may be rendered dry, clay pulverized, light soil invigorated, and all of them made more productive ; and also the relationship of particular soils to particular kinds of grain.

2. Nations that exert their knowing faculties in observing the qualities of the soil, and their reflecting faculties in discovering its capabilities, and its relations to water, lime, manure, and the various species of grain, and who put forth their muscular and nervous energies in accordance with the dictates of these powers, receive a rich reward in a climate improved in salubrity, and an abundant supply of food, besides much positive enjoyment attending the exercise of the powers themselves.

3. Those communities, on the other hand, who neglect to use their mental faculties, and muscular and nervous energies, are punished by ague, fever, rheumatism, and a variety of painful affections arising from damp air; they are stinted in food, and in wet seasons are brought to the very brink of starvation by serious failures of their crops. This punishment is a benevolent admonition from the Creator that they are neglecting a great duty, and omitting to enjoy a great pleasure ; and it will cease as soon as, by obeying the Divine laws, they have fairly redeemed the blessings lost by their negligence.

1. What do the perceptive or knowing faculties discover ? What do the reflecting faculties discover when acting with the perceptive ?

2. What is said of nations who exercise their perceptive, reflective, and muscular powers upon the soil ?

3. What of those nations who neglect the use of those faculties ?

4. The winds and waves appear at first sight to present insurmountable obstacles to man's leaving the island or continent on which he happens to be born, and to his holding intercourse with distant climes; but, by observing the relations of water to timber, he is enabled to construct a ship; by observing the influence of the wind on a body placed in a fluid medium, he discovers the use of sails ; and, lately, he has found out the expansive quality of steam, and traced its relations until he has produced a machine that enables him almost to set the roaring tempest at defiance, and to sail straight to the stormy although its loudest and its fiercest blasts oppose.

5. All these capabilities were conferred on nature and on man long before they were practically applied; but, now that we have advanced so far in our career of discovery and improvement, we perceive the scheme of creation to be admirably adapted to support the mental faculties in habitual activity, and to reward us for the exercise of them.

6. It is objected to this argument, that it involves an inconsistency. Ignorance of the natural laws, it is said, is represented as necessary to happiness, in order that the faculties may obtain exercise in discovering and obeying them ;-nevertheless, happiness is held to be impossible till these laws shall have been discovered and obeyed : here, then, it is said, ignorance is represented as at once essential to, and incompatible with, enjoyment. But this is not an accurate representation of the doctrine.

7. I do not say that, in any individnal man, ignorance of the natural laws is essential to enjoyment; I merely maintain that, with his present constitution, it was more beneficial for him to be left to learn these laws from his parents or his own experience, than at birth to have received intuitive knowledge of all the objects of creation. A similar objection might be stated to the constitution of the bee. Honey is necessary to its enjoyment; yet it has been left to gather honey for itself.

4. How does man know that he can ride over the ocean What advantages does he take of wind and steam ?

5. Do these capabilities exist in nature, whether known to man or not? What has their discovery taught us?

6. What is the apparent inconsistency of this argument? 7. What does the author really mean to say? What illustration is given ?

8. The fallacy lies in losing sight of the natural constitution both of the bee and of man. The bee has been furnished with instinctive tendencies to roam about the fields and flowery meadows, and to exert its energies in labor; and it is obviously beneficial to it to be provided with opportunities of doing so. And so it is with man. Gathering knowledge is to the human mind what gathering honey is to the bee.

9. Communicating intuitive knowledge of the natural laws to man, while his present constitution continues, would be the exact parallel of naturally gorging the bee with honey during the whole summer, when its energies are at their height. When the bee has completed its store, winter benumbs its powers, which resume their vigor only when its stock is exhausted, and when spring returns to afford them exercise. No torpor resembling that of winter seals up the faculties of the human race; but their ceaseless activity is amply provided for by other arrangements.

10. First, Every individual of the race is born in utter ignorance, and starts from zero in the scale of knowledge, so that he has the laws to learn for himself either from his predecessors or from experience; Secondly, The laws of nature, compared with the mental capacity of any individual, are of boundless extent, so that every one may learn something new to the end of the longest life; Thirdly, By the actual constitution of man, he must make use of his acquirements habitually, otherwise he will lose them.

8. Wherein does the fallacy lie? To what is gathering knowledge com. pared ?

9. What would giving man all knowledge at once be like ? In what is man unlike the honey-bee ?

10. In what state does man commence his existence ? What has he to do? Why is there always something to learn? What will prevent men from losing their knowledge ?

11. These circumstances remove the apparent inconsistency. If man had possessed intuitive knowledge of all nature, he could have had no scope for exercising his faculties in acquiring knowledge, in preserving it, or in communicating it. The infant would have been as wise as the most revered sage, and forgetfulness would have been necessarily excluded.

12. Some who object to these views, imagine that after the human race has acquired knowledge of all the natural laws, if such a result be possible, they will be in the same condition as if they had been created with intuitive knowledge. But this does not follow. Although the race should acquire the knowledge supposed, it is not an inevitable consequence that each individual will necessarily enjoy it all; which, however, would follow from intuition.

13. Further, although the race should have learned all the natural laws, their children would not intuitively inherit their ideas, and thus the activity of every one, as he appeared on the stage, would be provided for; whereas, by intuition, every child would be as wise as his grandfather,—and parental protection, and filial piety, and all the delights that spring from difference in knowledge between youth and age, would be excluded.

14. Lastly, By the actual state of man, the using of acquirements is essential to the preservation as well as the enjoyment of them. By intuition, all knowledge would be habitually present to the mind without effort or consideration. On the whole, therefore, it appears that (man's nature being what it

11. How do the foregoing circumstances affect the apparent inconsistency? What would be the condition of the infant if man had possessed intuitive knowledge of all nature ?

12. What objection is presented to the preceding views ? How is it answered ?

13. Suppose it were possible for the whole living race of man to have learned all the natural laws, would they have any thing for the continued exercise of their faculties? Would this be the case if knowledge were intuitive ?

14. What effect has the using of acquirements ? In view of the whole, what is evident?

« PreviousContinue »