« PreviousContinue »
the French by John OXENFORD.
NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.
Art. I. — The Moral Significance of the Crystal Palace: A
Sermon, preached first to his own Congregation, and repeated in the Church of the Messiah, on Sunday Evening, October 30, 1853. By Rev. H. W. Bellows, Pastor of the First Congregational Society in the City of New York. New York. (Published by Request of the Government of the Crystal Palace.) G. P. Putnam & Co. 1853.
The great continents of truth have been for the most part mapped out and explored. There remains the vast ocean of speculation, sweeping around the firm continents, and challenging adventure. Shifting as are the waves and currents of this sea, it has calm depths of meditation, from which innumerable islands of coral grow up, as solid as the old territories of human thought, and lift their luxuriant crests into clear sunshine. A hundred mariners may have caught a glimpse of these, or may have run close alongside and recorded some description of them; but no one of them may have landed, and taken the pains to explore mount and cape, stream and cave and shaded recess.
Such an island has been distinctly touched upon, in the discourse which introduces and illustrates the train of thought now proposed. The whole sermon — broadly and beautifully evolving the “union of man with man, of man with
VOL. LXXIX. — No. 164.
nature, and of man with God," as taught by the World's Fair --demands a thoughtful perusal. But we have to do, now, only with the following passage:
“ The view of the Exhibition unites man to God, not only by awakening sentiments of humility, wonder, gratitude, and praise, but also by illustrating, in an affecting and emphatic manner, the partnership of God with men, and men with God. Man is not only a partaker in the Divine nature, but a partner in God's business. “My Father worketh hitherto,' said our Saviour,' and I work.' Heavenly capital and earthly labor compose the firm in God's providence. Nature is the clay, man is the tool. God made them both ; and his will unites them in the production of that more finished nature we name Art. In the end, all things are of God, for marble and sculptor, pigment and painter, ore and founder, woof and weaver, materials and skill, opportunity and genius, are all of Him, and through Him, and to Him; but looked at in the wiser and more practical way of distribution, God's part and man's part, in the great plan of Providence, are capable of being discriminated, and the satisfaction of a voluntary partnership in a common work may be noted and enjoyed. And surely nothing is more striking, in an exhibition like the present, than the evidence afforded of the aptness of nature to man's wants, and the aptness of man to nature's development and use. How palpable the profound design entertained by Providence, of awakening and educating man's soul through the necessity under which he lies of subduing and regulating the material world! When we remember that there is nothing in science and art which is not a product of man's mind and will operating on crude matter, and that no invention is anything but a discovery, an adaptation that previously existed, — no accommodation of any substance, more than the use of an original fitness, — we begin to catch the glorious and affecting harmony existing between matter and mind, the earth and man, or God's providence and man's labor. Take the two materials of which the Crystal Palace is made, iron and glass. Can any substances be less fitted to human use, for purposes of strength and transparency, than ore and sand ? They bear no resemblance in appearance, or even in qualities, to the products of which they form the base. But does any one the less doubt that iron and glass are the final cause of ore and sand, and that God intended that human genius should discover and apply them to the uses they so perfectly serve? What can be less like a regulated power, practicable in use. and universal in application, than steam? or less seizable and governable than electricity? or more intractable and remote from usefulness