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was not, both in the days of Aristotle and of Tacitus, in the same barren and, apparently, unimprovable condition. Nature was then everywhere an undeciphered mystery; and it was because it seemed useless to study it that Socrates called the attention of the inquisitive to moral and political discussion.*
The error of thinking and reasoning on the world we inhabit, without these views, will appear, if we consider how egregiously the young sailor would mislead himself tering a ship of the line, on the commencement of his professional career, he did not consider it as having been built by skilful persons, working with acquired dexterity, according to well-formed plans; and framing every part with judgment, care, meaning, and purpose. If, like some savages, he should deem the noble vessel a living creature, moving from and having life in itself; or that it was some monstrous bird, with immense limbs and wings; or but a self-formed or casual meeting and cohesion of wandering particles; or the gradual growth of a fallen tree or of a little canoe, by a slow enlargement during millions of ages, into its noble magnitude and stupendous complication: if he should surrender his mind to such fancies as these, and disbelieve that scientific directors and able shipwrights had framed it purposely, how contemptuously should we deride or pity his ignorance! Though entering it with a knowledge that it was to sail, and, if necessary, to be used for battle, he would suppose its masts, canvass, and cannon to be the instruments for these services, yet how useless and unmeaning, in his first ignorance, would seem most of the numerous articles of the magnificent structure! They would appear to his apprehension more like encumbrances and confusion than essential parts of its serviceable mechanism, until he had gradually found out their uses, and learned to know that everything he saw had been devised and made with specific purposes for specific ends, which, whenever wanted, they accomplished. Then he would understand that not a single rope or plank, not even
* If the sentiments of one of the seven sages had become universal, how little should we have known of the laws of the planetary worlds. Bion said that astronomers were most ridiculous persons (yeλolorATOVS), for though they could not see the fish near the shores they were walking by, they pretended to be able to know the things that were in the skies.-Stobaus, p. 465.
one peg or nail, had been put in unnecessarily, or without direct meaning, foreseeing intention, and sufficient reason. It is the same in the structure of nature and in the economy of life. Meaning, plan, purpose, and efficient execution everywhere pervade them.
As I do not desire you to believe this because I assert it, I will state to you the grounds on which I rest my own conviction of it; because, if your belief can be associated with your satisfied reason, it will always be the more intellectual and influential.
Nature, as a creation, can only be what the Deity has made it to be; and it is what it is, solely because he has chosen so to frame and to continue it. He therefore intended to make it what we perceive that it is, because it is not possible for any one to make without intending to do so. But making equally implies previous devising and purpose, and a particular design and purpose; for anything made might have been differently made, or not made at all. To be what it is, instead of being anything else, it must therefore have been specially designed to be such, and that design must have been specially and accurately executed. But all special designs consist of plan and purpose, and, if executed, the execution is the representation-the realization of these in some perceptible form.
It is of essential importance to us that our sentiments on this great subject should be correctly and early formed; for you will find that they will very much influence and colour your after life and mind. It is in the first part of our worldly career that we have most leisure to think, and, by education, are led to meditation and inquiry; we are then also most able and disposed to think and judge fairly. Right opinions are the elements of all true wisdom, and even of moral conduct. Rectitude of mind and rectitude of action have a personal relation to each other, which is not easily shaken. Be right, therefore, in your conceptions and knowledge of your Creator, as soon as you can, that your mind may be settled on its proper basis and station for the remainder of your life.*
* There is a passage in Mr. H. Taylor's "Statesman" on the connexion between virtue and wisdom that deserves a place in your memory
"If there be in the character not only sense and soundness, but also virtue of a high order, then, however little appearance there may be of talent, a certain portion of wisdom may be relied upon almost implicitly. "For the correspondences of goodness and wisdom are manifold; and that they will accompany each other is to be inferred, not only because
and nature, appear to us in the diurnal revolution of our earth, and in its annual, or rather continual, circuit with the other planets around our central sun. We perceive them also in the, at present, inexplicable visits of the cometary travellers. Some marvellous motive powers, two at least, the impelling and the gravitating, actuate each of these. Their movements are cognizable by our senses; and it is the glory of human nature, by its persevering observations and intense thinking, to have descried and described the laws of their motivity. But with the nature of the moving power, notwithstanding all the penetrating energy of our science, we are absolutely unacquainted. For impulse, expansion, attraction, gravitation, projectile force, and such like terms, are but words by which we ticket and catalogue the facts we so discriminate. They disclose no knowledge to us of the essential nature of the powers which they signalize. We use them as appropriated words, fully intelligible to others so far as they mark the phenomena they allude to; but they always denote unknown qualities or agencies, and do not impart any elucidating knowledge of what that reality is, whose effects our mathematicians and philosophers so correctly state, and have reasoned upon with such surprising sagacity. To them, for what they have done and are doing, we cannot be too grateful, or estimate too highly the intellectual ability which they display, I appreciate it so much, that it is quite sufficient to prove to me that the living principle in human nature has an independent thinking property, which ought never to be confounded with either motion or matter, or even with the other living principles that coexist with us on our terres trial surface.
In our solid globe, if it be a compact series of masses, or in the solid rocks and strata which compose the globular superfices on which we walk and act, whatever be beneath them, our Creator has made and placed the compounded masses, which he designed should be permanent without either life or motion, in such order and shapes, and with such several compositions of substance, as his plan for its construction required.
With equal care and selecting power he has united the living principles which he has assigned to our earth with such diversified but specific and continued organic forms, as also suited his chosen designs, and which give to each that
duration, and those enjoyments and sensations of conscious life, and that reproducing power, which he had determined they should respectively experience and possess. The motive powers which he has commanded to attend our globe, and to be associated with its diversified compartments, were selected by him, and were added to our world by the same judging skill with which everything connected with it has been made. Their force and energy peculiarly need plan and government; we may therefore be sure that their quantity, force, modifications, continuity, positions, and laws, and course of movement, have been all, with careful skill, previously adjusted and apportioned to the rest of nature, and to the effects they were to produce; and that they all act in execution of the great plan, and are strictly regulated and guided to do so, and are restrained from any other results.*
When the material substances and the moving powers, were produced, and their arrangements and laws established, and the course of nature under their operation was settled and put in action, the design of the Creator in their formation was so far completed. The system and habits of the living organizations of nature being also intended not to vary in their several kinds, but to be always uniform in their various reproductions, the scheme as to them may be presumed to have been accomplished by their formation, and by the laws of their existence being so made as to limit them to be always and only what they are. Hence the different species of vegetables and animals are in all ages and countries substantially alike. The lion in our Zoological Gardens resembles the lion that appeared in the amphitheatres of Rome 1800 years ago; corn is still what it was in the days of the Pharaohs; and the trees of our present forests are not dissimilar to those which sheltered our Anglo-Saxon an
*The periodical returns of the comets seem to me to show to us with what commanding and adjusted regularity the tremendous moving forces of nature are governed by a directing intelligence. Such limited recurrences indicate a settled plan of an amazing extent, considering the space it must embrace. I do not know whether you are aware that Sir Isaac Newton, who died in 1727, is stated by Whiston to have predicted the appearance of the comet of 1736. "As far as we know, he is the very first man, and this is the very first instance where the return of a comet has been predicted beforehand, and has actually come aocording to that prediction."-Whiston's Astr. Year.
But the human race is that order of living beings which has been created upon a different plan; and it is this appointed difference which separates us from all other animals. Our bodies indeed are, like theirs, made upon an abiding system as to their external form and interior functions. Ever since the deluge, the human figure, in its material structure and with its organizations, has never essentially varied. Colour and other accidents of the corporeal frame may vary, because many natural causes affect our skin and exterior appearance; but the internal likeness is uniform and universal. It is in our moral and intellectual natures, and in their changes, enlargements, sensibilities, powers, improvabilities, and destinations, that our dissimilitude to every other kind of living creatures particularly displays itself; and from these the sacred history of our species, and those branches of it which these letters will treat of, take their rise, and with these are perpetually connected. To the sacred history of man all the other classes of subsisting things on our earth are subordinate. In this the plan of the Creator as to our world seems to centre; and for the completion of his designs, with respect to the ulterior state of his human race, the present course of nature in our system may be supposed to be carried on.
The Invisible Agencies as certain as the Material ones, both in Life and Nature.-The Divine Agencies are of this Character.-Change of the Divine Plan as to Human Population after the Deluge, and in the abbreviation of Life.
MY DEAR SON,
In the preceding remarks on the Divine creations I have directed your attention to human operations and fabrications, because they will give to your ideas on this mighty subject the most sensible and experimental realities to refer to and to rest upon. Nothing on earth so approaches the modus operandi, the forming agency by which the Deity has constructed and regulates all things, as human workmanship and govern