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ting their little noisy throats in a wild excess of rapture! They are all life-all activity. There is no note of discord in all that wild gush of music. All is harmonious—all uniting in one great, joyous anthem to their Creator, poured out upon the silent air, and under an approving Heaven !
To the true lover of Nature and of God, such a scene has more of truth in it than all the creeds that were ever written, or all the liturgies or church formularies that were ever enforced under pains and penalties in all the religions of all the worlds that God ever created. It is here that you can look into the great, eternal, inner facts of the universe, and learn Nature's inestimable truth. All that is in and around you is but the outspeaking of an Infinite Mind. Would to heaven that all within the tropics, and without them to the polar seas, could comprehend its meaning! We should stand out then as true nineteenth century men, laboring for the good of ourselves, and what we should esteem infinitely higher, the good of others. All heaven would smile down its approval upon us, and the stars, “keen glancing from their immensities,” would look out each with a more beneficent beam.
He who thus seeks instruction from Nature, will find, that,
“For his gayer hours,
Her instruction is simple, yet full of life. The air, the sun-light, the shade ; the green grass and many-tinted flowers ; the meadow and the hill-side, with their flocks and herds ; the swift gliding stream, and the little sparkling brook that brawls at his feet;
“ The lark's clear pipe, the cuckoo's viewless flute;" these are his pastime, these bis priceless treasures, these his lessons of instruction.
If his mind be at all enriched with the treasures of the classic ages, be recalls the time when Socrates wandered with his disciples along the banks of the Illyricus-when he sat with them beneath the shades of the Lyceum, and listened to the play of its fountains. He thinks of the time when the old god-like Plato frequented with his pupils the groves of Academus—when he held high converse with Nature, and taught the great truths she revealed to him within the inner teniple of ber great Life-sanctuary. His mind carries itself back to those antechristian ages, and yet, strange as it may seem, he feels the warming rays of genuine religion falling upon it there. No crusades have as yet kicked up their terrible dust on the surface of this planet. No love-stricken knights have as yet bestrode their chargers in quest of chivalric amusement, or the violent melée of a Gothic tournament. The age is a simple one, and classic. Orpheus has just come from
Thrace, and Greece is alive with song and the worship of her deities. And yet, after all, how much of life-of that inarticulate mysterious force, in that early age, earnestly seeking and working out its manifestation ! No new world has as yet been discovered. The old Iron Horse of the nineteenth century has not yet robbed Jove of his thunder or Neptune of his trident. Nor has the lightning been snatched from heaven and made the vehicle of thought.
But there exists this same internal, animating, vital force—this same living, indestructible principle--this same great uncreated mystery within us, the concentrated energies of which were so astonishingly manifested in that early age. We feel that such a force was no mere vitalized or dematerialized matter, but we have no power to reason ourselves beyond the feeling, and we should have none.
All that we can say of the principle of life-of that mysterious relation between function and structure-of the wonderful construction of the intellectual faculty-is, that they exist. We put an acorn into the ground, and it becomes an oak. We erect our lightning-rods, and the crashing thunder descends harmlessly upon our dwellings. We extend a little insulated wire across the continent, and our thoughts traverse the earth in a twinkling. At the sight of the speculum and the microscope, the heavens bow down to us that we may inspect their wonders. The earth is weighed as in a balance, and so are the sun and the far-off planets; and yet, that acorn is a mystery, and the ethereal agent, and the obedient heavens. We perpetuate our species, but we have no power to comprehend the living principle we impart. We are, in fact, the great, ever-comprehending, incomprehensible mystery of the universe, and it is the happiness of our being that we are so. Were our knowledge complete, our happiness would be at an end.
“COMBE'S CONSTITUTION OF MAN.” The above is widely known as the work of an able writer, earnestly and forcibly setting forth the laws which, in his view, govern the mental and physical powers of man in the present life. His philosophy is based on the system of Gaul and Spurzheim. With that system we do not propose at present to meddle. Our design is to inquire into the weight of some objections which have been strenuously urged against the moral character of the work, since its introduction into the common school libraries of the state of New York.
One of the most respectable journals of that state has more than once denounced it as dangerous to the young, and tending directly to infidelity. There is one difficulty in replying to these charges, for with one exception, (presently to be noticed,) so far as we recollect, they are so general, and so entirely unaccompanied by proof, that we really have little to rebut. But we shall, perhaps, learn enough of the character of the work by a hasty survey of its plan, and by quoting, as far as our limits allow, from the author's own words.
We find, then, on his title-page, a sentence from Bishop Butler, as follows: “Vain is the ridicule with which one foresees some persons will divert themselves, upon finding lesser pains considered as instances of divine punishment. There is no possibility of answering or evading the general thing here intended, without denying all final causes.” This gives a clue to the author's design, which seems to be, to show that the mind and body of man in this world are so constituted, that obedience to the laws which the Creator has appointed will give happiness, and disobedience inevitable pain.
And here let it be understood that our author does not extend his reasoning beyond the present lise. He simply desires to prove that “ God has so made and so governs men” that vice and misery in this world are infallibly linked together. If this be infidelity, we confess it widely differs from our idea of that term. It has been further alleged that Mr. Combe would bring discredit on the doctrine of future punishments. This is the definite charge we alluded to. The pas. sage quoted, if we recollect right, was this. “The infliction” (of the punishment) " is approved of, * * * * because the law in its legitimate operation is calculated altogether for the advantage of the subject; and because the punishment has no object but to bring him back to obedience for his own welfare, or to terminate his sufferings when he has erred too widely to return.” If the objector had read the whole chapter, he would probably have been spared the pain of supposing that the annihilation of the soul is intimated in this passage. The author is speaking of “punishment inflicted under the natural laws ;" and one might as well attempt to convict Paley of infidelity when he argues that pain, disease, and death, is an evidence of the “ goodness of the Deity.” Again, we find in the introduction the author's opinion, “that, in all respects, his views, as here developed, correspond with the doctrines of the New Testament; and the objection ‘that, by omitting the sanction of future reward and punishment, this treatise leaves out the highest * * motives to virtuous conduct,' is founded on a misapprehension of the object of the book.” He adds, “it is my purpose to show that the rewards and punishments are infinitely more certain and efficacious, in this life, than is generally believed, but by no means to interfere with the sanctions to virtue afforded by a prospect of future retribution."
Again, in the first chapter he says, “I do not intend to predicate any thing concerning the absolute perfectibility of man by obedience to the laws of nature.” “Neither do I intend to teach that the natural laws, discernible by unassisted reason, are sufficient for the salvation of man without revelation. Human interests regard this world and the next.” “Man's spiritual interests belong to the sphere of revelation, and I distinctly repeat that I do not teach that obedience to the natural laws is sufficient for salvation in a future state.”
We could wish to make a fuller extract in reference to this part of the subject, for sure are we, that few candid minds would believe, that on this point, at least, Mr. Combe desires to advocate any opinion inconsistent with divine truth. His opposers, alluded to above, seem to have left out of view the fact, which Mr. Combe repeats again and again, to wit: that throughout the whole work, he speaks of the laws of God and their penalty only in regard to the present life. We do not intimate that any one has intentionally misrepresented our author; but we do not see how a person could have read the work thoroughly, and yet suffered the passages already cited, and the following, in the article on “death,” to escape him. “I repeat,” says Mr. C., as if to guard against the possibilily of being misunderstood, “ that I do not at all allude to the state of the soul, or mind after death ; but merely to the dissolution of organized bodies.”
If now, in spite of these reiterated assurances of the author to the contrary, any one still persists in charging this work with intending to subvert the doctrine of future punishment, we hope he will condescend to specify the passages and principles which so appear.
A word, also as to its infidel designs. For our own part we do not believe that the genius of infidelity will thank any of his disciples for making this work an ally. Our reasons are, that it continually refers to the Creator of all things, as the author of our being, and of the natural and moral laws under which we live, and aims throughout to "jus. tify the ways of God to man.” It continually appeals to the reason and common sense of men, to satisfy them, that He who has placed them here is a merciful and benevolent, not an arbitrary lawgiver. It maintains, moreover, that God has endowed man with “ faculties to observe phenomena, and to trace cause to effect, and he has constituted the external world to afford scope to these powers." From this it argues that man's condition may be every way improved by cultivating his ablities. We think no intelligent man will deny either the premises or conclusion.
Mr. C. next endeavors to show that man cannot attain supreme happiness (in this world) without a knowledge of these laws. Does any one doubt this? Will anybody endeavor to show that the naked Hottentot, who “looks on the sun with the eye of an ox," enjoys the world as well as the philosophic infidel ? Hear what President Wayland says on this subject. “A nation without knowledge, like a blind man in the garden of Eden, might be surrounded with every thing lovely to the eye, or delightful to the taste, without ever being able to ascertain, either where a single object of desire was to be found, or how the possession of it might be secured.” Will the objector endeavor to show that the ignorant savage, but yesterday converted to Christianity, enjoys as high a degree of pleasure as a Chalmers, an Edwards, or a Newton ? If he is willing to attempt this, we will " leave him alone in his glory."
Again, Mr. Combe says that the great motive for finding out the laws of nature, is the conviction that increased knowledge will furnish us with increased means of happiness and well-doing, and with new proofs of benevolence and wisdom in the Great Architect of the
universe.” A few sentences further on he adds, “I am not rearing a system from ambitious motives, neither is it my object to attack the opinions of other men. It is simply to lift up the veil of ignorance, and, in all humility, to exhibit the Creator's works in their true colors, so far as I imagine myself to have been permitted to perceive them.” Call you this the language of infidelity ?-then the astronomer, the chemist, the geologist, must be the very prince of infidels.
There is one point, however, on which we differ from our author. On the subject of prayer we think, if we rightly understand him, he bas to sonie extent erred in representing, “ that the only benefit of prayer is its effect on the mind of the suppliant.” It is true he cites some high authority in the Scottish Church to substantiate this point, and maintains that even the advantages thus derived afford sufficient reason why both public and private prayer should not cease to be offered. We think many of his remarks on this topic worthy a careful consideration ; but we do not believe that the laws of the human mind are sufficiently ascertained to enable any man to say with certainty that 'there is no possible way that the Supreme Being can influence the will without destroying its free agency.' The numerous promises, also, scattered throughout the Bible, would seem, at least, to convey more meaning than Mr. Combe would allow.
Our limits forbid us to pursue the subject further. We only desire to see justice done, and, if after all, it can be fairly shown that the “cloven foot,” which first polluted this earth in Paradise, is concealed beneath that specious exterior, we shall not hesitate to join the cry of ' procul, 0, procul, esto profane.
But to make this appear plainly, requires more than ordinary skill. A bungling or unfair attempt to fasten the charge of infidelity upon a work of this sort, is but to injure our own cause. Christianity needs no such assistance. Her 'foundation standeth sure,' and her friends can defend her bulwarks without a resort to treachery. We repeat it then, if the work is immoral, let it be made clearly manifest. We need stronger arguments, however, than merely to be told that infidels have adopted the work as their champion. They might do this to any work, even as in one sense they have often done to the Bible itself, and yet it might after all only prove the weakness of a cause, whose friends seek to prolong their existence by taking refuge in the camp of their deadliest foe. If, on the other hand, the work is what it professes to be, we venture to assert that its circulation will greatly promote the cause of true religion. And if any one who has not particularly attended to the subject, will read the fifth chapter, and especially the section on “calamities arising fiom infringement of the moral law,” we think he will arise from the perusal with an increased sense of the wisdom and goodness of God, in framing such perfect laws for the government of this world. He will understand, as he did not before, that the same principle the Saviour lays down regarding the Sabbath being “made for man and not man for the Sabbath,” is at the foundation of the Deity's requirements; hence, he is compelled to admit that no one of them is despotic or unreasonable.