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THE RELIGION OF NATURE.
"Twas in a lovely Grecian vale,
Where low acanthus blooms, And roses fair, and lilies pale,
Enwreathe Athenian tombs ; That Philo, as he traced the forms
Of sculpture which had borne the force Of rains, of dews, of thousand storms, Of time in his resistless course, Open'd a sepulchre-the dust Pass'd with the breathing of the gust.
"Look there, Philosophy," he said;
Could half so well the truth impart-
"Tell me, ye atoms, ere ye fly,
What was the form ye bore;
It matters not the time nor scene,
How often is th' enlighten'd mind
Instead of Nature's-that could teach,
Has often tried, but could not reachThe Gospel shining through the night, Brought Immortality to light.-***
If we say we are perfect in our notions and knowledge of "men and things," and that we do not require further instruction,-and, at the same time, reject information derived from experience and example, we err greatly, and deceive ourselves; and thereby are prevented from being humble in our comportment to superior schoolmen, and become unwilling to be better informed.
A great deal has been said, and certainly as much or more written, tending to shew how much we have needed, and still need, a reform in our government, a reform in our religion and legislature, when at the same time it must be sufficiently apparent to every honest and comprehensive mind, that nothing is so much wanted as a reform in education. Reform "education," and every moral and physical benefit must necessarily follow; nay, every imaginable good
that the human mind is capable of conceiving, will assuredly succeed such a change. Already the Schoolmaster has " 'reported progress."—He says, "observe the march of mind and the good fight that I have begun it must prosper, and eventually work well." The natural mind may be said to be in a state of "wholesome sanity" when it can recognize itself as an invited guest at the plentiful table Providence has benignly and benevolently spread for the nourishment of man, and can extract with a grateful heart food from all around it.
The philosopher who said "I am a man, and consider whatever relates to my fellow-man as concerning myself," must have boasted but a limited benevolence in comparison with HIM whose goodness and bounty extend to all living creatures: whose omnipresence is at once universal and without end: and whose Power exceeds the professed "discernment" of the Sceptic and the Infidel, as the strength of the leviathan exceeds the smallest animal whose home is the banks of the dark Nile:-it is eternally infinite.
If I might venture, in this place, to speak of myself, I would presume to say that I have been "delighted" with the study of nature, of science, and of the arts: I had wandered awhile amongst the flowers of literature, dazzled and charmed with their beauty and variety but when I would have entered that region of intellectual loveliness, my mind was still
uninformed! Whole years have been cheerfully and sedulously devoted, and I trust not uselessly, to this instructive and influential study. It has had the powerful effect of rendering me less volatile and more sincere, as a friend; less arrogant and more humane, as a Christian; more zealous and better informed, in regard to the pregnant and sublime truths which shew forth the illimitable glory of God, the unfathomable depth of his love, and merciful consideration for his grateful creatures.
The result, moreover, of such studies will, I hope, be developed in the pages of the "YOUNG GENTLEMAN'S BOOK." They treat of Nature, and the Science of Nature, after the manner in which my too frequently disturbed pursuits introduced them to me during my eager thirst" for learning, and my search after knowledge; and as the far greater proportion of the volume is confessedly formed of quotations from a variety of both old and new writers, it were mere supererogation in me to advance one word in the way of praise.
The negative merit assigned to the compiler of a book has not yet, it should seem, damped the ardour of our old men, nor dissuaded our young men from the endeavour-at once laudable if not successful-to collect, carefully and studiously, a book of gems; and to display not only tact but taste in their arrangement, and immediate application to the purposes of general science in a manner to give attraction to study,
and to release learning from the apprehension of mechanical toil and desultory labour.
With an object that might be deemed, without fear of contradiction, noble, if not dignified-with such an object as the "felicity of youth," and under the circumstances before mentioned-I venture to hope the "YOUNG GENTLEMAN'S BOOK may not only be found deserving superior notice, but that it may be so generally esteemed as to be held "companionable" by ALL; and, lastly, that it may be placed on the table of both the rich and poor for the benefit of the rising generation.
LONDON, January 1832.