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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 tions 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
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 far, ther 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.
Constitution and the Divine Government itself, is more deeply studied, and habitually regarded, we shall then, and not till then, be more completely reconciled to God, to nature, and ourselves.
In the present age, much has been said, and perhaps as much written, respecting improvements in Society, with comparatively but slender reference to the neglect of Parental Obligations, and the consequent abatement of Parental Authority-evils for which, by the will of God, Parents alone are responsible, and which they alone can rectify or remove. Every inquiry into faction and disorder, degeneracy in morals and increase of crime, must, of necessity, prove essentially defective, which does not embrace them, and the fulfilment or neglect of their obligations; for to whatever other expedients men may betake themselves, it is from the Parents, as such, themselves alone, over the broad surface of a city or a nation, that the restorative or remedy is to be sought and found.
Institutions may be formed in aid of their neglect, and an artificial state of society may, for a time, seem to be very pleasing, more especially since it is of man’s deyising ; but however kind in its intention, and benevolent in its aspect, all such aid will, in the end, only increase the appetite for help, where help is noxious, whenever it exceeds advice and warning.
Christianity, in its progress, it is true, has, in every land, whether civilized or savage, to fight every inch of its way; but still it comports with enlightened and impartial observation, that in the degeneracy or neglect of domestic duty, and the relaxation of parental authority, we see the most certain tokens of a nation approaching the brink of ruin, and the day of just retribution.
Before this neglect and relaxation, the huge monuments of commercial enterprise and art, the luxurious plenty of refined life, and the substantial enjoyments of all inferior ranks, will be swept away. Education as such, if by this is meant purchased tuition, of whatever description, or improvements in education, could not save such a people. The School of Learning and the School of Arts must prove alike in vain. The bands of human society, which no human legislation can supply, and for which human sagacity, at its full stretch, can devise no expedient, are, in such a case, loosened. What then, though every thing which can more speedily enlighten the infant mind, or regulate the more advanced periods of youth and manhood, be proposed? What though every thing which can profitably employ the vacant hour of the artisan be devised ? Nay, what though methods are adopted with a view to the advancement of the kingdom of God, both abroad and at home? Does that nation forget, or seem to forget, all the while, not only that we are a governed race, but that by certain fixed principles and general laws we are governed by the Almighty?
Let but one only of these be disdained, or even forgotten-say, the imperious, and unchanging, and universal obligations of its domestic circle ; then in vain shall that people apply many medicines-in vain devise prompt and efficient restoratives--in vain begin with the infant only, in order to banish the long-formed habits of the man. The cruel, or careless, or unprincipled devourers of the country's vital interests, are to be found neither in prisons nor in banishment, but