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to unfold, and to exercise, in mutual instruction, and in united adoration of the great and glorious Creator.
9. The reward of acting in this manner would be a communication of direct and intense pleasure to each other; for I refer to every individual who has ever had the good fortune to pass a day or an hour with a really benevolent, pious, honest, and intellectual man, whose soul swelled with adoration of his Creator, whose intellect was replenished with knowledge of His works, and whose whole mind was instinct with sympathy for human happiness, whether such a day did not afford him the most pure, elevated, and lasting gratification he ever enjoyed. Such an exercise, besides, would invigerate the whole moral and intellectual powers, and fit them to discover and obey the Divine institutions.
10. Intellect also ought to be regularly exercised in arts, science, philosophy, and observation.
I have said nothing of dedicating hours to the direct gratification of the animal powers; not that they should not be exercised, but that full scope for their activity is included in the employments already mentioned.
Finally, a certain portion of time would require to be dedicated to the taking of food and sleep.
All systems hitherto practiced have been deficient in providing for one or more of these branches of enjoyment.
11. If there be truth in these views, they will throw some light on two important questions that have embarrassed philosophers, in regard to the progress of human improvement. The first is, Why should man have existed so long, and made so small an advance in the road to happiness? It is obvious, that the very scheme of creation which I have described, implies that man is a progressive being; and progression necessarily supposes lower and higher conditions of attainment and enjoyment. While men are ignorant, there is great individual suffering. This distresses sensitive minds, and seems inexplicable ; they can not conceive how improvement should so slowly ad
9. What would be the result of such action? When are we the happiest ?
10. How should the intellect be exercised? How should another portion of time be occupied ? Have systems of education generally attended to all these branches ?
11. What two questions have embarrassed philosophers ? (See Chapter VIII. l-for second question.) Why has improvement advanced so slowly?
12. I confess myself incapable of affording any philosophical explanation why man should have been so constituted; neither can I give a reason why the whole earth was not made temperate and productive, in place of being partially covered with regions of barren sand and eternal snow. The Creator alone can explain these difficulties. When the inhabitants of Britain wore the skins of animals, and lived in huts, we may presume that, in rigorous winters, many of them suffered severe privations, and that some would perish from cold.
13. If there had been among the sufferers a gifted philosopher, who observed the talents that were inherent in the people, although then latent, and who, in consequence, foresaw the splendid palaces and warm fabrics with which their descendants would one day adorn this island, he might well have been led to deplore the slow progress of improvement, and been grieved at the prevalence of so much intermediate misery. Yet the explanation that man is a progressive being is all that philosophy can offer; and if this satisfy us as to the past, it must be equally satisfactory in regard to the present and the future.
14. The difficulty is eloquently adverted to by Dr. Chalmers in his Bridgewater Treatise. “We might not know the reason,” says he, “why, in the moral world, so many ages of darkness and depravity should have been permitted to pass by, any more than we know the reason why, in the natural world, the trees of a forest, instead of starting all at once into the full efflorescence and stateliness of their manhood, have to make their slow and laborious advancement to maturity, cradled in storms, and alternately drooping or expanding with the vicissitudes of the seasons.
12. Can we tell why things are as we find them? Had the ancients the comforts of the present day?
13. Does experience show man to be a progressive being? What is said of the rate of that progress ?
14. Way does not man advance to perfection at once ?
15. “But though unable to scan all the cycles either of the moral or natural economy, yet we may recognize such influences at work, as, when multiplied and developed to the uttermost, are abundantly capable of regenerating the world. One of the likeliest of these influences is the power of education, to the perfection of which so many minds are earnestly directed at this moment, and for the general acceptance of which in society we have a guarantee in the strongest affections and fondest wishes of the fathers and mothers of families.”
16. Although, therefore, we can not explain why man was created a progressive being, and why such a being advances slowly, the principles of this essay show that there is at least an admirable adaptation of his faculties to his condition. If I am right in the fundamental proposition, that harmonious activity of the faculties is synonymous with enjoyment of existence, it follows that it would have been less wise and less benevolent toward man, constituted as he is, to have communicated to him intuitively perfect knowledge, thereby leaving his mental powers with diminished motives to activity, than to bestow on him faculties endowed with high susceptibility of action, and to surround him with scenes, objects, circumstances, and relations calculated to maintain them in ceaseless excitement.
17. It is interesting to observe, that, according to this view, although the first pair of the human race had been created with powerful and well-balanced faculties, but of the same nature as at present; if they were not also intuitively inspired with knowledge of the whole creation, and its relations, their first movements as individuals would have been retrograde; that is, as individuals, they would, through pure want of information, have infringed many natural laws, and suffered evil; while, as parts of the race, they would have been decidedly advancing : for every pang they suffered would have led them to a new step in knowledge, and prompted them to advance toward a much higher condition than that which they at first occupied.
15. Can we
proofs of constant improvement? What is said of the power of education ?
16. How is wisdom shown in creating man as he is ?
17. What is said of our first parents as individuals? Why, as parts of the human race, would they have been increasing in knowledge ?
1. Has man really advanced in happiness in proportion to his increase in knowledge ? is the second question. We are apt to entertain erroneous notions of the pleasures enjoyed in past ages. Fabulists have represented them as peaceful, innocent, and gay; but if we look narrowly into the conditions of the
savage and barbarian of the present day, and recollect that these are the states of all individuals before the acquisition of scientific knowledge, we shall not much or long regret the pretended diminution of enjoyment by civilization.
2. It ought to be kept constantly in remembrance, that man is a social being, and that the precept “love thy neighbor as thyself” is imprinted in his constitution.
That is to say, so much of the happiness of each individual depends on the habits, practices, and opinions of the society in which he lives, that he can not reap the full benefits of his own advancement, until similar principles have been embraced and realized in practice by his fellow-men. This renders it his interest, as it is his duty, to communicate his knowledge to them, and to carry them forward in the career of improvement.
3. At this moment there are thousands of persons who feel their enjoyments, physical, moral, and intellectual, impaired and abridged by the mass of ignorance and prejudice which every where surrounds them. They are men living before
1. What is the second question which has puzzled philosophers ? What was the happiness of the ancients when compared with modern comforts ? Has there been an increase or decrease of enjoyment?
2. How should we consider man? What is stamped on his nature? What influences has society upon individuals? Can man be happy if those around him are not ? Does his interest and duty toward them coincide ?
3. How are the enjoyments of some impaired? What is the duty of such ? .
their age, and whom the world neither understands nor appreciates. Let them not, however, repine or despair ; but let them dedicate their best efforts to communicating the truths which have opened up to themselves the prospect of happiness, and they will not be disappointed.
4. The law of our constitution, which has established the supremacy of the moral sentiments, renders it impossible for individuals to attain the full enjoyment of their rational nature until they have rendered their fellow-men virtuous and happy; and in the truth and power of this principle, the ignorant and the wretched have a better guarantee for being raised in their condition by the efforts of their more fortunate brethren than in the establishment of poor-laws, or rather legislative enactments.
5. If the notions now advocated shall ever prevail, it will be seen that the experience of past ages affords no sufficient reason for limiting our estimate of man's capabilities of civilization. In the introductory chapter, I mentioned the slow and gradual preparation of the globe for man; and that he appears to be destined to advance only by stages to the highest condition of his moral and intellectual nature. At present he is obviously only in the beginning of his career.
6. Although a knowledge of external nature, and of himself, is indispensable to his advancement to his true station as a rational being, yet four hundred years have not elapsed since the arts of printing and engraving were invented, without which knowledge could not be disseminated through the mass of mankind; and, up to the present hour, the art of reading is by no means general over the world, so that, even now, the means of calling man's rational nature into activity, although discovered, are but very imperfectly applied.
7. It is only five or six centuries since the mariner's com
4. What is one of the highest sources of happiness? What gives more relief to man than civil laws ?
5. Has civilization reached its height?
6. What advantages have some of the moderns over the ancients ? Are those advantages more general ?
7. What improvements have been made in late years ?