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in which the main distinction of his philo- of his mind, though authority scowled upon sophy lies; that when labouring in other it, and taste was disgusted by it, and fashion fields of investigation, they may know how was ashamed of it, and all the beauteous to borrow from his safe example, and how to speculation of former days was cruelly profit by that superior wisdom which mark- broken up by this new announcement of ed the whole conduct of his understanding the better philosophy, and scattered like
Let it be understood, then, that they are the fragments of an aerial vision, over the positive discoveries of Newton, which, which the past generations of the world in the eye of a superficial public, confer up- had been slumbering their profound and on him all his reputation. He discovered their pleasing reverie. But, on the other the mechanism of the planetary system. hand, should the article of science want He discovered the composition of light. the recommendation of evidence, he shut He discovered the cause of those alternate against it all the avenues of his understandmovements which take place on the waters ing-aye, and though all antiquity lent of the ocean. These form his actual and their suffrages to it, and all eloquence had his visible achievements. These are what thrown around it the most attractive brilthe world look at as the monuments of his liancy, and all habit had incorporated it greatness. These are doctrines by which with every system of every seminary in he has enriched the field of philosophy; Europe, and all fancy had arrayed it in and thus it is that the whole of his merit is graces of the most tempting solicitation; supposed to lie in having had the sagacity yet was the steady and inflexible mind of to perceive, and the vigour to lay hold of Newton proof against this whole weight of the proofs, which conferred upon these doc- authority and allurement, and, casting his trines all the establishment of a most rigid cold and unwelcome look at the specious and conclusive demonstration.'
plausibility, he rebuked it from his presence. But, while he gets all his credit, and all the strength of his philosophy lay as much his admiration for those articles of science in refusing admittance to that which wantwhich he has added to the creed of philoso- ed evidence, as in giving a place and an ocphers, he deserves as much credit and ad- cupancy to that which possessed it. In miration for those articles which he kept that march of intellect, which led him onout of his creed, as for those which he in- wards through the rich and magnificent troduced into it. It was the property of his field of his discoveries, he pondered every mind, that it kept a tenacious hold of every step; and, while he advanced with a firm one position which had proof to substanti- and assured movement, wherever the light ate it—but it forms a property equally cha- of evidence carried him, he never suffered racteristic, and which, in fact, gives its any glare of imagination or prejudice to seleading peculiarity to the whole spirit and duce him from his path. style of his investigations, that he put al Sure I am, that, in the prosecution of his most determined exclusion on every one wonderful career, he found himself on a position that was destitute of such proof. way beset with temptation upon every side He would not admit the astronomical theo- of him. It was not merely that he had the ries of those who went before him, because reigning taste and philosophy of the times they had no proof. He would not give in to contend with ; but, he expatiated on a to their notions about the planets wheeling lofty region, where, in all the giddiness of their rounds in whirlpools of ether-for he success, he might have met with much to did not see this ether--he had no proof of solicit his fancy, and tempt him to some lis existence-and, besides, even supposing devious speculation. Had he been like the
to exist, it would not have impressed, on majority of other men, he would have brothe heavenly bodies, such movements as ken free from the fetters of a sober and met his observation. He would not submit chastised understanding, and, giving wing Dis judgment to the reigning systems of the to his imagination, had done what philosoday-for, though they had authority to re-1 phers have done after him--been carried commend them, they had no proof: and away by some meteor of their own forming
S n is, that he evinced the strength and or found their amusement in some of their the soundness of his philosophy, as much own intellectual pictures, or palmed some u nis decisions upon those doctrines of sci- | loose and confident plausibilities of their ence which he rejected, as by his demon- own upon the world. But Newton stood stration of those doctrines of science, which true to his principle, that he would take up De was the first to propose, and which now with nothing which wanted evidence, and stand out to the eye of posterity as the only he kept by his demonstrations, and his monuments to the force and superiority of measurements, and his proofs; and, if it be his understanding.
true that he who ruleth his own spirit is He wanted no other recommendation for greater than he who taketh a city, there any one article of science, than the recom- was won, in the solitude of his chamber, mendation of evidence-and, with this re- many a repeated victory over himself, which commendation, he opened to it the chamber should give a brighter lustre to his name
Il encounters he 2 natural predi id with the preoploved on the its unperishing er heard of the an, of peaceful to sustain. with that was intale he age. They ered that closet patient and proher gone along
int hours to the
charm of lotin
( a laboratur,
All this the
than all the conquests he has made on the not belong to them. There is no one object field of discovery, or than all the splendour to which the exercised mind of a true Newof his positive achievements,
tonian disciple is more familiarized than I trust you understand, how, though it this limit, and it serves as a boundary by be one of the maxims of the true philoso- which he shapes, and bounds, and regulates, phy, never to shrink from a doctrine which all the enterprises of his philosophy. All has evidence on its side, it is another max- the space which lies within this limit, he im, equally essential to it, never to harbour cultivates to the uttermost, and it is by such any doctrine when this evidence is want- successive labours, that every year which ing. Take these two maxims along with rolls over the world, is witnessing some you, and you will be at no loss to explain new contribution to experimental science, the peculiarity, which, more than any other, and adding to the solidity and aggrandizegoes both to characterise and to ennoble ment of this wonderful fabric. But, if true the philosophy of Newton. What I allude to their own principle, then, in reference to to is, the precious combination of its the forbidden ground which lies without strength and of its modesty. On the one this limit, those very men, who, on the field hand, what greater evidence of strength of warranted exertion, evinced all the hardithan the fulfilment of that mighty enter- hood and vigour of a full grown underprise, by which the heavens have been standing, show, on every subject where the made its own, and the mechanism of un- light of evidence is withheld from them, all numbered worlds has been brought within the modesty of children. They give you the grasp of the human understanding ? positive opinion only when they have inNow, it was by walking in the light of a disputable proof-but, when they have no sound and competent evidence, that all this such proof, then they have no such opinion. was accomplished. It was by the patient, The single principle of their respect to truth, the strenuous, the unfaltering application secures their homage for every one posiof the legitimate instruments of discovery. Ition, where the evidence of truth is present, It was by touching that which was tangi- and, at the same time, begets an entire difble, and looking to that which was visible, fidence about every one position, from which and computing that which was measure this evidence is disjoined. And thus you able, and in one word, by making a right may understand, how the first man in the and a reasonable use of all that proof which accomplishments of philosophy, which the the field of nature around us has brought world ever saw, sat at the book of nature within the limit of sensible observation. in the humble attitude of its interpreter and This is the arena on which the modernits pupil-how all the docility of conscious philosophy has won all her victories, and ignorance threw a sweet and softening lusfulfilled all her wondrous achievements, and tre around the radiance even of his most reared all her proud and enduring monu- splendid discoveries-and, while the flipments, and gathered all her magnificent pancy of a few superficial acquirements is trophies to that power of intellect with enough to place a philosopher of the day which the hand of a bounteous heaven on the pedestal of his fancied elevation, and has so richly gifted the constitution of our to vest him with an assumed lordship over species.
the whole domain of natural and revealed But, on the other hand, go beyond the knowledge; I cannot forbear to do honour limits of sensible observation, and, from that to the unpretending greatness of Newton, moment, the genuine disciples of this en- than whom I know not if there ever lighted lightened school cast all their confidence on the face of our world, one in the characand all their intrepidity away from them. ter of whose admirable genius so much Keep them on the firm ground of experi- force and so much humility were more atment, and none more bold and more deci- tractively blended. sive in their announcements of all that they I now propose to carry you forward, by have evidence for-but, off this ground, a few simple illustrations, to the argument none more humble, or more cautious of any of this day. All the sublime truths of th thing like positive announcements, than modern astronomy lie within the field of they. They choose neither to know, nor actual observation, and have the firm evito believe, nor to assert, where evidence is dence to rest upon of all that information wanting; and they will sit, with all the pa- which is conveyed to us by the avenue of tience of a scholar to his task, till they have the senses. Sir Isaac Newton never went found it. They are utter strangers to that beyond this field, without a reverential imhaughty confidence with which some phi- pression upon his mind, of the precariouslosophers of the day sport the plausibilities ness of the ground on which he was standof unauthorised speculation, and by which, ing. On this ground, he never ventured a unmindful of the limit that separates the positive affirmation-but, resigning the lofty region of sense from the region of conjec-tone of demonstration, and putting on the ture, they make their blind and their im- modesty of conscious ignorance, he brought petuous inroads into a province which does forward all he had to say in the humble
3, begets an entire di ne position, from which bined. And thus you v the first man in the philosophy, which the at the book of nature e of its interpreter and ne docility of conscious veet and softening lusnce even of his most -and, while the dip erficial acquirements N Whilosopher of the day s fancied eleration, and assumed lordship ordi natural and rerealed
form of a doubt, or a conjecture, or a ques. This same adventurous philosopher may tion. But, what he had not confidence to do, be conceived to shift his speculation from other philosophers have done after him, the plants of another world to the character and they have winged their audacious way of its inhabitants. He may avail himself into forbidden regions and they have of some slender correspondencies between crossed that circle by which the field of the heat of the sun and the moral temperaobservation is enclosed-and there have ment of the people it shines upon. He may they debated and dogmatized with all the work up a theory, which carries on the front pride of a most intolerant assurance. of it some of the characters of plausibility:
Now, though the case be imaginary, let but surely it does not require the philosous conceive, for the sake of illustration, phy of Newton to demonstrate the folly of that one of these philosophers made so ex- such an enterprise. There is not a man of travagant a departure from the sobriety of plain understanding, who does not perceive experimental science, as to pass from the that this said ambitious inquirer has got astronomy of the different planets, and to without his reach—that he has stepped beattempt the natural history of their animal yond the field of experience, and is now and vegetable kingdoms. He might get expatiating on the field of imaginationhold of some vague and general analogies, that he has ventured on a dark unknown, to throw an air of plausibility around his where the wisest of all philosophy, is the speculation. He might pass from the botany philosophy of silence, and a profession of of the different regions of the globe that we ignorance is the best evidence of a solid inhabit, and make his loose and confident understanding; that if he thinks he knows application to each of the other planets, ac- any thing on such a subject as this, he cording to its distance from the sun, and knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. the inclination of its axis to the plane of its He knows not what Newton knew, and annual revolution; and out of some such what he kept a steady eye upon throughout slender materials, he may work up an the whole march of his sublime investigaamusing philosophical romance, full of in- tions. He knows not the limit of his own genuity, and having, withal, the colour of faculties. He has overleaped the barrier truth and of consistency spread over it. which hems in all the possibilities of human
I can conceive how a superficial public attainment. He has wantonly flung himmight be delighted by the eloquence of such self off from the safe and firm field of oba composition, and even be impressed by servation, and got on that undiscoverable its arguments; but were I asked, which is ground, where, by every step he takes, he the man of all the ages and countries in widens his distance from the true philosothe world, who would have the least respect phy, and by every affirmation he utters, for this treatise upon the plants which grow he rebels against the authority of all its on the surface of Jupiter, I should be at no maxims. loss to answer the question. I should say, I can conceive it the feeling of every one that it would be he who had computed the of you, that I have hitherto indulged in a motions of Jupiter-that it would be he vain expense of argument, and it is most who had measured the bulk and the density natural for you to put the question, "What of Jupiter-that it would be he who had is the precise point of convergence to which estimated the periods of Jupiter-that it I am directing all the light of this abundant would be he whose observant eye and pa- and seemingly superfluous illustration ?» tiently calculating mind, had traced the In the astronomical objection which int Satellites of Jupiter through all the rounds fidelity has proposed against the truth of of their mazy circulation, and unravelled the Christian revelation, there is first an the intricacy of all their movements. He assertion, and then an argument. The asi would see at once that the subject lay at a sertion is, that Christianity is set up for hopeless distance beyond the field of legiti- | the exclusive benefit of our minute and mate observation. It would be quite enough solitary world. The argument is, that God for him, that it was beyond the range of would not lavish such a quantity of attend his telescope. On this ground, and on this tion on so insignificant a field. Even though ground only, would he reject it as one of the assertion were admitted, I should have the puniest imbecilities of childhood. As a quarrel with the argument. But the futo any character of truth or of importance, tility of the objection is not laid open in all "Would have no more effect on such a lits extent, unless we expose the utter want mind as that of Newton, than any illusion of of all essential evidence even for the truth poetry; and from the eminence of his intel- of the assertion. How do infidels know Jectual throne, would he cast a penetrating that Christianity is set up for the single glance at the whole speculation, and bid its benefit of this earth and its inhabitants ? gaudy insignificance away from him.
How are they able to tell us, that if you But let us pass onward to another case, go to other planets, the person and the reWhich, though as imaginary as the former, ligion of Jesus, are there unknown to them ? may still serve the purpose of illustration. 7 We challenge them to the proof of this said
forbear to do honour greatness of Newton, 7ot if there ever lighted orld, one in the charte rable genius so nich Tumility were more at
carry you forward, by stions, to the argument
sublime truths of the Jie within the field of and hare the firm ens Of all that information 0 us by the avenue de c Newton never went thout a reverential in ind, of the precarious 71 which he was stand, he never rentured a
-but, resigning the luft on, and putting on the Signorance, he brougdt to say in the humo
positive announcement of theirs. We see of our common Christianity, by commisin this objection the same rash and gratui- sioned messengers from the throne of the tous .procedure, which was so apparent in Eternal. For any thing he can tell, the the two cases that we have already advan-redemption proclaimed to us is not one ced for the purpose of illustration. We see solitary instance, or not the whole of that in it the same glaring transgression on the redemption which is by the Son of Godspirit and the maxims of that very philoso- but only our part in a plan of mercy, equal phy which they profess to idolize. They in magnificence to all that astronomy has have made their argument against us, out brought within the range of human conof an assertion which has positively no feet templation. For any thing he can tell, the to rest upon-an assertion which they have moral pestilence, which walks abroad over no means whatever of verifying-an asser- the face of our world, may have spread its tion, the truth or the falsehood of which desolation over all the planets of all the can only be gathered out of some super- systems, which the telescope has made natural message; for it lies completely be-known to us. For any thing he can tell, yond the range of human observation. It some mighty redemption has been devised is willingly admitted, that by an attempt in heaven, to meet this disaster in the whole at the botany of other worlds, the true extent and malignity of its visitations. For method of philosophising is trampled on; any thing he can tell, the wonder working for this is a subject that lies beyond the God, who has strewed the field of immenrange of actual observation, and every per- sity with so many worlds, and spread the formance upon it must be made up of as- shelter of his omnipotence over them, may sertions without proofs. It is also willingly have sent a message of love to each, and admitted, that an attempt at the civil and re-assured the hearts of its despairing peo political history of their people, would be ple by some overpowering manifestation an equally extravagant departure from the of tenderness. For any thing he can tell, spirit of the true philosophy; for this also angels from paradise may have sped to lies beyond the field of actual observation; every planet their delegated way, and sung, and all that could possibly be mustered up from each azure canopy, a joyful annunciaon such a subject as this, would still be as- tion, and said, “ Peace be to this residence, sertions without proofs. Now, the theology and good will to all its families, and glory of these planets, is, in every way, as inac- to Him in the highest, who, from the emicessible a subject as their politics or their nency of his throne, has issued an act of natural history; and therefore it is, that the grace so magnificent, as to carry the tidings objection, grounded on the confident as- of life and of acceptance to the unnumbersumption of those infidel astronomers, who ed orbs of a sinful creation.” For any thing assert Christianity, to be the religion of this he can tell, the Eternal Son, of whom it is one world, or that the religion of these said, that by him the worlds were created, c:her worlds is not our very Christianity, may have had the government of many can have no influence on a mind that has sinful worlds laid upon his shoulders; and derived its habits of thinking from the pure by the power of his mysterious word, have and rigorous school of Newton; for the awoke them all from that spiritual death, whole of this assertion is just as glaringly to which they had sunk in lethargy as prodestitute, as in the two former instances, found as the slumbers of nonexistence. of proof.
For any thing he can tell, the one Spirit The man who could embark in an enter-who moved on the face of the waters, and prise so foolish and so fanciful, as to theorise whose presiding influence it was, that hushit on the details of the botany of another ed the wild war of nature's elements, and world, or to theorise it on the natural and made a beauteous system emerge out of its moral history of its people, is just making disjointed materials, may now be working as outrageous a departure from all sense, with the fragments of another chaos; and and science, and all sobriety, when he pre-educing order, and obedience, and harmosumes to speculate, or to assert on the de- ny, out of the wrecks of a moral rebellion, tails or the methods of God's administra- which reaches through all these spheres, tion among its rational and accountable in- and spreads disorder to the uttermost limits habitants. He wings his fancy to as haz- of our astronomy. ardous a region, and vainly strives a pene- But, here I stopnor shall I attempt to trating vision through the mantle of as grope my dark and fatiguing way, by deep an obscurity. All the elements of another inch, among such sublime and myssuch a speculation are hidden from him. terious sccrecies. It is not I who am offerFor any thing he can tell, sin has found its ing to lift this curtain. It is not I who am way into these other worlds. For any thing pitching my adventurous flight to the sehe can tell, their people have banished them- cret things which belong to God, away selves from communion with God. For from the things that are revealed, and any thing he can tell, many a visit has which belong to me and to my children. been made to each of them, on the subject. It is the champion of that very infidelity
which I am now combating. It is he who authority of which he, even in the full
whole substance of the written message, in
has issued an act of as to carry the tidings ce to the unnumber tion." For any things I Son, of whom it is worlds were created overnment of many n his shoulders, and isterious word, hare
that spiritual death, ik in lethargyas pro 'Ts of nonesistent I tell, the one Spirit 'e of the waters and nce it was, that hush
ture's elements and em emerge out of its nay now be working
another chaos; and redience, and harmo of a moral rebelluna h all these sphens o the uttermost lins
or shall I attempt
fatiguing war. bir Ich sublime and me not I who am ofer
It is not I whom jus flight to the long to God. away
are revealed, and ind to my children that very infidelit