« AnteriorContinuar »
The force, therefore, with which Mercury was first propelled, or the momentum first given to it, aside from what it receives from attractive influence, must have been what it would have acquired in falling directly toward the sun, over thirteen and a half millions of miles! And the momentum first given to the earth must have been what it would have acquired by falling toward the sun over fortyeight millions of miles; and that of Herschell, what that immense globe would have gained in a fall of more than nine hundred millions of miles !
But who could have weighed in this sense the worlds above us, but the infinite and adorable Architect of the universe! Another remarkable circumstance, and one that should never be forgotten, is, that the earth on which we live, and every other planet, feels this first impulse this moment, and ever will feel it, till the almighty hand may check it for ever. There being little or no friction in space-no opposing particles-nothing in any very sensible degree to check the motion of a body when once set in motion, it retains that same velocity for ever, running in a direct line unless acted upon by another power: and if acted upon by another body, as are all bodies acted on by the sun, it does not retard this first impulse ; it only changes its direction from a direct line to a curve. In this first impulse, then, of creation, and which is still stamped upon the planetary system, is seen broadly and visibly impressed the HAND OF ALMIGHTY God.
I know not how the argument strikes the reader; but to my own mind it is conclusive. And so universal is this law, and so striking are the inevitable deductions from it, that, look where I will, there comes down upon my own spirit from every object in naturewhether the passing leaf or flying mote—the delightful truth, that God is; and revelation, and nature too, adds another not less interesting to all, and that is, he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.
A single Reflection. Gentle Reader -Shall we indulge in a single reflection ? Who gave to the sun this mighty attracting influence? Who armed matter with a power so sublime as to hold, at the amazing distance of nine hundred millions of miles, a body nine hundred times the size of the earth, and turn it in its immense orbit with as much ease and regularity as is turned a small water-wheel? Who distributed this secret influence throughout all matter, so that it alike binds the granite in its bed, and prevents from immediate explosion the igneous liquid mass that rolls beneath it? But for this the sun would dissolve at mid-heaven, and all its elements be literally struck with death. All nature, but for this, would melt away, as with a fervent heat, and the heavens would depart as a scroll, and no place would be found for them. But nature is. The sun is seen daily at his post. The earth regularly performs its revolutions. It has done this for six thousand years, bringing to man the delightful changes of season, seed time and harvest, heat and cold. And all this is done, directly or indirectly, by the single law of attraction. Indeed, most of the changes of the atmosphere above, or the changes on the surface of the earth, have their origin here. The water that comes gushing from the mountain rill to slake our thirst—the rise
and fall of all our fountains or wells of water-the swelling and fall of rivers, which peacefully or like mighty torrents roll in their beds, carrying destruction in their path, or enriching the soil by alluvial deposites—all feel the controlling influence of this agent. And can all this be without a God! The fool alone can say in his heart, There is no God. Every object is a witness of the awful truth. Every pencil of light that comes from the sun, every raindrop that descends from the cloud, every dew-drop that distils at night—the roar of the thunder above, and the fearful tread of the earthquake beneath, are but the clear, unequivocal witness of his BEING and GOODNESS. Let us BELIEVE and ADORE.
For the Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review..
Art. III.-MORAL EDUCATION. « But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus," 2 Tim. iii, 14, 15.
If any subject in the entire range of morality and religion is entitled to the highest consideration, and to be so regarded by every one desirous to sustain the character of a friend to his country, to the church, and to mankind, it must be the intellectual improvement and moral culture of the youth. Every effort in their behalf directed to these objects, which ought to be kept inseparably connected both in theory and practice, is worthy to be regarded as the warmest patriotism combined with the purest benevolence; because, nowhere can these sentiments be directed toward objects so justly entitled to their most vigorous and unremitted exercise. The truth and importance of this principle receive abundant and conclusive support from the acknowledged opinions of the wise and good in every age, in both Christian and heathen countries. In the great and powerful empires of antiquity, no subject received greater attention than education. In some of them the youth were educated entirely in public institutions, under the superintendence of government, and at the public charge. But while many things embraced in their systems of education can neither be approved nor adopted in any Christian community enjoying, like ours, the last perfected dispensation in its meridian splendor, those ancient sages are worthy of our esteem for the high importance which they attached to this subject: one which was never of greater moment to any nation or people than it is to the American people at the present time. While every nation, whose history has escapęd the destroying hand of time, has, at some epoch in its history, reached its crisis, we have no reason to expect it will be otherwise with our own; though with equal truth it must be acknowledged, that more lucid rays of prophetic light must be shed upon us than most claim to have received, and fewer still actually possess, before we shall be able to say with certainty how near we have arrived to that period in our national history. But whether that era is near or remote, it cannot for a moment be questioned that to the rising generation we must look for every thing we have either to hope or to fear in the future history of both the church and the nation. In a very few years the destinies of both will be committed entirely into their hands; and our only abiding security that the invaluable charter of our liberty and religion, and the inestimable blessings of our free institutions, will there find a safe deposite, and be perpetuated unimpaired to posterity, consists in the thorough intellectual and moral education of all classes in community ;-a moral education, based on those strict and pure moral principles which are contained alone in the Scriptures of truth. Intellectual education, without being combined with elevated moral principle, and moral principle resting on any other foundation than divine revelation, cannot constitute such a security or safeguard as will authorize the assurance of the perpetuity of the richly gifted blessings which Providence, no doubt, graciously designs conditionally to confer on this benignly endowed community. But to see this subject in the clearest and most impressive light, and at the same time in a practical point of view, let us inquire,
I. Into the nature and importance of MORAL EDUCATION. In doing this we shall be facilitated in our progress toward the result of our proposed inquiry, and also proceed with the greater assurance of arriving at a correct conclusion, by first inquiring into the nature and import of education in general.
1. The term, education, is derived from e and duco, to lead forth, to bring out. Hence, applied to general education, it implies that process by which the faculties of the mind are drawn out, developed, and wrought up to the extent of its capacity. And that system of education which does not accomplish the development of the mental powers, as far at least as this can be done by instruction and study, must be regarded as manifestly defective. But education is utterly incapable of imparting one original power or faculty to the mind; it is limited to the development and culture of such as the mind constitutionally possesses.
Taken in its largest and most comprehensive sense, education must be divided into three grand distinct branches; physical, intellectual, and moral. By physical education is understood that training of muscle and limb which commences with the child as soon at least, and in some respects even before it begins to walk. And, indeed, the very act of learning to walk is a striking instance of physical education. Every mechanical operation, with every physical exercise, every muscular action, the performance of which depends on volition, is an instance of the same sort, and clearly involves the same principle. Every one must have reflected on the ease and facility with which we learn to perform many acts and manual operations by training ourselves to them, which at first were exceedingly difficult, or perhaps quite impossible. As instances, with what perfect ease and freedom from all conscious effort, does the ready scribe spread his thoughts upon paper with ink and pen: once this was done with the greatest effort, the muscles actually refusing to obey the dictates of the will. The student in music must submit to a long course of muscular training, however well she may be versed in the theory of the science, before she can expect to become an adept in the use of the piano. And, moreover, skill in mechanical arts and athletic exercises is an additional illustration of the same principle.
By intellectual education is meant that development and cultivation of the mental powers which consist in the forming of a correct taste, the improvement of the judgment and the reasoning powers, the culture and chastening of the imagination, and in ability to control and confine the attention. The educated mind not only has its own faculties brought out and developed by a course of study and discipline, but it acquires such a knowledge of the arts and sciences as will enable it to direct its energies to the pursuit of any given profession or vocation with more honor, usefulness, and success, than would be possible for the uneducated mind. In intellectual education such mental habits are formed, and such knowledge of the principles of the sciences is acquired, as will be found necessary and useful in the course of life; and if the candidate for a given profession fail in its pursuit for want of the possession of such mental habits and knowledge of the principles of any scienoe involved in that profession, such failure must be attributed to de fectiveness in his education.
Moral education consists in that development and discipline of our moral powers, and in implanting those moral truths and principles which will qualify men to discharge their duties in the various relations which they sustain to God and each other, as moral and accountable beings. Mr. Hooker's definition of education has a peculiar application to what we have denominated moral education. It is as follows:-.5 Education is the means by which our faculty of reason is made both the sooner and the better to judge rightly between truth and error, and good and evil."* Let us confine our attention exclusively to moral education, directed in the inquiry by this definition.
2. Of all the various truths within the grasp of the human mind, none can be compared in importance to moral truths. Moral truths are those which pertain to moral duty, obligatory on moral beings, growing out of certain unalterable, personal, social, and moral relations, sustained with respect to other related beings possessed of a kindred nature, and also with respect to God himself, to whom all accountable beings stand in the same moral relations. What, therefore, can be of equal moment to a moral being with adequate knowledge of such relations, comprehending, as they do, the broad ground on which human accountability is based ; complicated also as they are, being interwoven with the very constitutions of our natures, and involved in the very circumstances of our being? What can be of superior moment to a creature whose accountability for his actions rests on immutable moral principles, than clearly to comprehend those distinctions existing in moral actions by the immutable decree or will of the great Author of our being; and also to have clear views of the merit or demerit of our actions, according to the principles of action from which they spring. How can that man expect to escape with impunity the dreaded consequences of delinquency in his duty as a moral being, who entertains mistaken views of those sublime truths which are so fearfully involved in all his conduct? He cannot be ignorant of those great moral
Watson's Sermons. Vol. IX.-April, 1838. " 19
principles, and of that unbending rule of moral action, by which he is to be judged, or deviate from that rule, or encroach on those principles, and hope to escape the unrepealable consequences in a state of final retribution. Ignorance in theory, or error in practice, in regard to a thousand facts in nature, the great principles on which her complicated laws are founded, and the volume of latent truths embraced in the physical system, involves no such dreaded consequences. One may be ignorant of all these, without at all ma. terially impairing his present religious enjoyment or usefulness, as a member of social community, or endangering his future and eternal interests. And, moreover, we are destined to remain ignorant of a thousand things in regard to natural or physical truths, in spite of all that the most perfect acquaintance with literature and the physical sciences, aided by the most thorough and finished education, the longest and most indefatigable application to these subjects, can possibly afford us. Therefore, in estimating the comparative importance of natural and moral truths, we must reason from our unavoidable ignorance of many of the former to the indispensable knowledge, or at least an adequate acquaintance with the latter. It is true, as far as our temporal and physical condition is involved, independent of our knowledge of them, we are necessarily affected by physical truths; but how soon shall we be removed quite beyond the sphere of their influence for ever: we shall then only begin adequately to know the unabating and eternal influence of moral truths. But how is the idea strengthened when we compare the tendency of error in moral, in opposition to error in natural truths. Both error and ignorance, in regard to the latter, : may be perfectly harmless to our interests and happiness both in probation and retribution; but with regard to the former, they may prove eternally ruinous to both. But let it not be forgotten, that for our reasoning faculty to be capable of duly performing its office in judging rightly between truth and error, our moral faculties must also be duly cultivated. Because, when our moral faculties are either darkened or perverted, our intellectual perception will be proportionably obscured, or perhaps totally eclipsed. How often is this practically illustrated among the men of the world. Passion, error, ignorance, interest, or prejudice so blinds the mind, darkens the understanding, obscures the perception, and bewilders the judgment, that positions are taken as being indisputably tenable, involving certain moral principles or truths which render such positions obviously erroneous and untenable in the judgment of all uninterested, judicious persons. Hence the importance of moral training as a branch of that education which will enable our reasoning faculty to distinguish rightly between truth and error.
But, according to our definition, education is the means by which our reasoning faculties are made both the better and the sooner to judge rightly between “good and evil," as well as truth and error. Clearly to discern between moral good and evil, not only in theory but also in practice, must be important in the last degree to every person. And from what has been said, it may be fairly questioned whether one can accurately discriminate between good and evil, in a practical sense, without some degree of moral training. Clear discrimination and correct judgment in respect to moral truths, no less than correct and amiable moral action, depend on due training,