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to the great principles of the government of the universe, and every action is chained to the consequences which the Creator has affixed to it as unalterably as any sequence of cause and effect in physics. And thus, with equal eloquence and truth, the venerable Hooker has said, “ of law there can be no less acknowledged than that her seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the world; all things in heaven and earth do her homage, the very least as feeling her care, and the very greatest as not exempted from her power; both angels and men and creatures of what condition soever, though each in different sort and manner, yet all with uniform consent, admiring her as the mother of their peace and joy."
Such a constitution having been established by a perfectly wise Creator, it may be easily supposed that it will remain unchangeable. His laws will not be altered for our convenience. We may obey them or disobey them, we may see them or not see them, we may be wise or unwise, but they will be rigidly and unalterably enforced. Thus must it ever be, until we have the power to resist the strength of Omnipotence.
Again; it is sufficiently evident that the very constitution which God has established is, with infinite wisdom and benevolence, devised for just such a being, physical, intellectual, and moral, as man.
man. By obe. dience to the laws of God, man may be as happy as his present state will allow. Misery is always the result of a violation of some of the laws which the Creator has established. Hence, our great business here, is, to know and obey the laws of our Creator.
That part of man hy which we know, and, in the most important sense, obey the laws of the Creator, is
called MIND. I use the word in its general sense, to signify, not merely a substance, not matter capable of intellection, but one also capable of willing, and to which is attached the responsibility of right and wrong in human action. And, still further, it is one of the laws of mind, that increased power for the acquisition of knowledge, and a more universal disposition to obedience, may be the result of the action of one mind upon another, or of the well-directed efforts of the individual mind itself.
Without some kuowledge of the laws of nature, it is evident that man would inmediately perish. But it is possible for him to have only so much knowledge of them as will barely keep generation after generation in existence, without either adding anything to the stock of intellectual acquisition, or subjecting to his use any of the various agents which a bountiful Providence has everywhere scattered around for the supply of his wants and the relief of his necessities. Such was the case with the aborigines of our country, and such had it been for centuries. Such, also, with but very few and insignificant exceptions, is the case in Mohammedan and Pagan countries. The sources of their happiness are few and intermitting—those of their misery multiplied and perpetual.
Looking upon such nations as these, we should involuntarily exclaim, What a waste of being, what a loss of happiness, do we behold! Here are intelligent creatures placed under a constitution devised by infinite wisdom to promote their happiness. The very penalties which they suffer are so many proofs of the divine goodness-mere monitions to direct them in the paths of obedience. And besides this, they are endowed with
a mind perfectly formed to investigate and discover these laws, and to derive its highest pleasure from obeying them. Yet that mind, from want of culture, has become useless. It achieves no conquests. It removes no infelicities. Here, then, must the remedy be applied. This immaterial part must be excited to exertion, and must be trained to obedience. Just so soon as this process is commenced, a nation begins to emerge from the savage and enter upon the civilized state. Just in proportion to the freedom and the energy with which the powers of the mind are developed, and the philosophical humility with which they are exercised, does a people advance in civilization. Just in proportion as a people is placed under contrary influences, is its movement retrograde.
The science which teaches us how to foster these energies of mind is the science of education. In few words, I would say, the object of the science of education is, to render mind the fittest possible instrument for discOVERING, APPLYING, or obeying, the laws under which God has placed the universe.
That all this is necessary, in order to carry forward the human species to the degree of happiness which it is destined, at some time or other, to attain, may be easily shown.
The laws of the universe must be discovered. Until they are discovered, we shall be continually violating them and suffering the penalty, without either possibility of rescue or hope of alleviation. Hence the multitude of bitter woes which ignorance inflicts upon a people. Hence the interest which every man should take in the progress of knowledge. Who can tell how countless are the infelicities which have been banished from the
world by the discovery of the simple law that a magnetized needle, when freely suspended, will point to the north and south?
Nor is it sufficient that a law be discovered. Its relations to other laws must be ascertained, and the means devised by which it may be made to answer the purposes of human want. This is called application, or invention. The law of the expansive power of steam was discovered by the Marquis of Worcester, in 1663. It remained, however, for the inventive power of Watt and Fulton, more than a century afterwards, to render it subservient to the happiness of man. From want of skill in a single branch of this department of mental labour, the human race has frequently been kept back for ages. The ancients, for instance, came very near the invention of the printing-press. Thus has it been with several other of the most important inventions. It makes a thoughtful man sad, at the present day, to observe how many of the most important agents of nature we are obliged to expose to the gaze of lecturerooms, without being able to reveal a single practical purpose for which they were created.
But this is not all. A man may know a law of his Creator, and understand its application; but if he do not obey it, he will neither reap the reward nor escape the penalty which the Creator has annexed to it. Here we enter, at once, into the mysterious region of human will, of motive, and of conscience. To examine it at present is not my design. I will only remark, that some great improvement is necessary in this part of our nature, before we can ever reap the benefits of the present constitution of the universe. I do not think that any philosopher can escape the conviction, that when
important truth is the subject of inquiry, we neither possess the candour of judgment, nor the humility of obedience, which befits the relations existing between a creature and his Creator. In proof of this, it is sufficient to refer to well-known facts. Galileo suffered the vengeance of the Inquisition for declaring the sun to be the centre of the planetary system ! How slow were the learned in adopting the discoveries of Hervey or of Newton! Still more visible is this obstinacy, when the application of a moral law is clearly discovered. Though supported by incontrovertible argument, how slowly have the principles of religious toleration gained foothold even in the civilized world' After the slave trade had been proved contrary to every principle of reason and conscience, and at variance with every law of the Creator, for nearly twenty years did Clarkson and his associates labour, before they could obtain the act for its abolition. And to take an illustration nearer home, how coolly do we look on and behold lands held by unquestionable charter from Almighty God, in defiance of an hundred treaties by which the faith of this country has been pledged-in violation of every acknowledged law, human and divine, wrested from a people, by whose forbearance, a century ago, our fathers were permitted to exist ! I speak not the language of party. I eschew and abhor it; but “ I speak with the freedom of history, and I hope without offence.” These examples are at least sufficient to show us, that the mind of man is not, at present, the fittest instrument possible for obeying the laws of his Creator, and that there is need, therefore, of that science which shall teach him to become such an instrument.
The question which will next arise is this:- Can