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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 Jabour, 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 an 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. these things be taught ? Is it practicable, by any process which inan can devise, to render mind a fitter instrument for discovering, applying, and obeying the laws of his Creator? We shall proceed, in the next place, to show that all this is practicable.
1. It is practicable to train the mind to greater skill in discovery. A few facts will render this sufficiently evident.
It will not be denied that some modes of thinking are better adapted to the discovery of truth than others. Those trains of thought which follow the oriler of cause and effect, premises and conclusion, or, in general, what is considered the order of the understanding, are surely more likely to result in discovery than those which follow the order of the casual relations, as of time, place, resemblance, and contrast, or, as it is commonly called, the order of the imagination. Discovery is the fruit of patient thought, and not of impetuous combination. Now it must be evident that mind directed in the train of the understanding, will be a far better instrument of discovery than if under the guidance of the imagination. And it is evident that the one mode of thinking may be as well cultivated as the other, or as any mode what
And hence has arisen the mighty effect which Bacon produced upon the world. He allured men from the weaving of day-dreams to the employment of their
Just in proportion as we acquire skill in the use of our reason will be the progress of truth.
Again; there can be no doubt that, in consequence of the teaching of Bacon, or, in other words, in consequence of improvement in education, the human mind has, in fact, become a vastly more skilful instrument of
discovery than ever it was before. In proof of this, I do not refer merely to the fact, that more power has been gained over the agents of nature, and that they have been made to yield a greater amount of human happiness to the human race, within the last one hundred years, than for ten tiines that period before. This, of itself, would be sufficient to show an abundant increase of intellectual activity. I would also refer to the fact that several of the most remarkable discoveries have been made by different men at the same time. This would seem to show, that mind, in the aggregate, was moving forward, and that everything with which we are now acquainted must soon have been discovered, even if it had eluded the sagacity of those who were fortunate enough to observe it. This shows that the power of discovery has already been in some degree increased by education. What has been so auspiciously begun can surely be carried to far greater perfection.
Again ; if we inquire what are those attributes of mind on which discovery mainly depends, I think we shall · find them to be patient observation, acute discrimination, and cautious induction. Such were the intellecual traits of Newton, that prince of modern philosophers. Now it is evident that these attributes can be cultivated, as well as those of taste or imagination. Hence, it seems as evident that the mind may be trained to discovery, that is, that mind may be so disciplined as to be able to ascertain the particular laws of any individual substance, as that any other thing inay be done.
2. By application or invention I mean the triving of those combinations by which the already discovered laws of the universe may be rendered avail
able to the happiness of man. It is possible to render the mind a fitter instrument for the accomplishment of
In proof of this remark, I may refer you to the two first considerations to which I have just adverted ; namely, that some trains of thought are more productive of invention than others, and that, by following those trains, greater progress has, within a few years, been made in invention, than within ten times that period before.
It is proper, however, to remark, that the qualities of mind on which invention depends are somewhat dissimilar from those necessary to discovery. Invention depends upon accuracy of knowledge in detail, as well as in general, and a facility for seizing upon distant and frequently recondite relations. Discovery has more to do with the simple quality, invention with the complex connexions. Discovery views truth in the abstract; invention views it either in connexion with other truth, or in its relation to other beings. Hence has it so frequently taken place that philosophers have been unable to avail themselves of their own discoveries ; or, in other words, that the powers of discovery and of invention are so seldom combined in the same individual. In one thing, however, they agree. Both depend upon powers of mind capable of cultivation ; and, therefore, both are susceptible of receiving benefit beyond any assignable degree, by the progress of education.
3. The mind may be rendered a fitter instrument for obeying the laws of the universe. This will be accomplished, when men, first, are better acquainted with the laws of the universe; and second, when they are better