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of our existence, no direct relation, nor with those of the starry orbs beyond our system. It is true that, as a part, however inconsiderable, of the wonderful whole, we must be in some respect affected by what affects that; and our astronomers have suggested that the innumerable hosts of radiant worlds above us have, besides their separate and peculiar laws and systems, some vast general movement, around some unknown centralization, in the depths of unfathomed space.

But no perceptible consequences flow from this to our human world or to its social constitution. Satisfied that other planets are governed by plans which, though essential to them, are not extended to us, beyond our general relations with them of distance, magnitude, and movement, our attention need never be turned towards any other schemes and designs than those which have operated on our nature and on our, to us while on it, most precious world; precious from its beauty and benefit to us, and probably not inferior, in the benefactions we receive from it, to the comforts and advanta ges in any of our sister planets. There is a glorious future promised to those who may be admitted to it; but as that will be a special kingdom, specially created for its immortalized inhabitants, it will probably be different from any that now exists. I cannot, therefore, avoid believing that we are as happy at present in our minor globe as our fellow-creatures are in the greater masses of Jupiter and Saturn. But be this as it may, our interests now are confined to our own earth, and to the plans and purposes on which that has been formed, and by which the economy of our social life is governed.

I am particularly anxious that you should feel and believe that creation must have been made in all its parts upon an intelligent plan, by its intelligent Creator, and should always study both material nature and human history with this fixed impression, because both will be more instructive and useful to you, as you read and think upon them with this pervading and guiding principle. You will then become more interested with them, and cannot otherwise properly and sufficiently understand either. Both will appear to you under very differ. ent lights, and present very different prospects, and excite very different thoughts and feelings, according as you cherish or omit, in your meditations, this enlightening and directing truth. It will be an improving exercise of your discerning faculties, and a constant pleasure to your best sensibilities, to give them this employment.

LETTER III.

On the Importance of Studying Nature and Human Life, with the be lief that Divine Plans and Purposes have always accompanied them.

MY DEAR SON,

If we adopt the principle that we are living in both a natural and a social system of things, which have been made on intelligent plans for intelligent purposes, we shall never theorize or think on either nature or life as if they were subsisting and moving without them, or could have originated in any other manner. Though we should be unable to trace them, yet the conviction that they are realities should never be absent from our minds; for as, when we can discern them, it will be our duty to reason conformably to them, so, when they baffle our present researches, we should still bear in mind that creation has nowhere existed without a reasoned design and a reasoning and directing government. If we follow the too common habit of thinking and acting upon the facts and laws of material nature and human life as if neither had been framed or was conducted on any intelligible plan, or for any rational and worthy purpose; as if all visible things were subsisting and recurring solely by themselves, and left to themselves without design or object, and with no invisible superintendence; if we regard the phenomena of nature, and the great events of history or of individual biography, as mere trains of unarranged, undirected, uncaused, or unconnected sequences, without any reason why they should be what they were, and succeed each other as they do, and without any assigned or connecting relation; destitute of all accompanying meaning, and occurring and changing by no rule or for any projected or pursued end:

If we thus estimate and regard the world we live in, and the course and state of things about us, we shall be perpetually misconceiving and misrepresenting them; we shall be narrowing and darkening our intellectual views, and shall keep away from our thoughts those truths which will most expand and improve them; which will ally them with grand ideas and elevated hopes; and, in every vicissitude that may

befall us, will always be a source of exhilaration and soothing comfort. *

I do not mean that we should be always painting or gilding our books of knowledge with religious vignettes or decorations for ornamental recommendations; nor edge our conversation or public discourses on art or science with such allusions for personal display or popular effect. It is not the phrase or the paragraph abstracted from the pervading mind and personal feeling which is valuable; for as these express no genuine conviction, they excite none. They are heard as rhetorical perorations, applauded, admired, and forgotten. The desirable requisite is, that these principles should be the silent and abiding, but ever-living impressions and belief in our own individual mind. We should feel that in examining or experimenting on any object or department of nature we are investigating the productions of an intelligent Creator, which have design in every part. This idea should accompany us also with habitual conviction, as we contemplate the maps of recorded time in their historical lineaments and national relations.

If we assume that, both in natural philosophy and civil history, we have before us the features and the outlines of the plans and purposes of the Former and Governor of all things, and are viewing in the observed and narrated results the evolutions and executions of his purposes, our knowledge will be kept in continual unison with him; and we shall then perceive meaning, wisdom, directing causation, connexions, relations, utilities, and accomplished ends, which are now but rarely adverted to or thought of.

That we know so little of them beyond our general and verbal acknowledgment is no proof that they are unknowable; but is rather the indication that they have not been a favourite study; for, in other pursuits, no failures prevent other exertions from being more successful. Nor is there a science now cultivated, except the geometrical ones, which

* When we read what philosophers abroad in our own times, and what some among ourselves, have started on the origin of things, we have reason to fear that, if the principle of an intelligent plan and correspondent creation be relinquished, we shall have our physiology deformed by absurdities as striking as those of Neocles, the Crotonian, whom Herodotus of Heracleum narrates to have maintained that women in the moon lay eggs, and that the men produced from them are five times the size of those on our earth.-Athen. Deipn., L.. 2, p. 57. VOL. III-C

was not, both in the days of Aristotle and of Tacitus, in the same barren and, apparently, unimprovable condition. Nature was then everywhere an undeciphered mystery; and it was because it seemed useless to study it that Socrates called the attention of the inquisitive to moral and political discussion.*

The error of thinking and reasoning on the world we inhabit, without these views, will appear, if we consider how egregiously the young sailor would mislead himself if, on entering a ship of the line, on the commencement of his professional career, he did not consider it as having been built by skilful persons, working with acquired dexterity, according to well-formed plans; and framing every part with judgment, care, meaning, and purpose. If, like some savages, he should deem the noble vessel a living creature, moving from and having life in itself; or that it was some monstrous bird, with immense limbs and wings; or but a self-formed or casual meeting and cohesion of wandering particles; or the gradual growth of a fallen tree or of a little canoe, by a slow enlargement during millions of ages, into its noble magnitude and stupendous complication: if he should surrender his mind to such fancies as these, and disbelieve that scientific directors and able shipwrights had framed it purposely, how contemptuously should we deride or pity his ignorance! Though entering it with a knowledge that it was to sail, and, if necessary, to be used for battle, he would suppose its masts, canvass, and cannon to be the instruments for these services, yet how useless and unmeaning, in his first ignorance, would seem most of the numerous articles of the magnificent structure! They would appear to his apprehension more like encumbrances and confusion than essential parts of its serviceable mechanism, until he had gradually found out their uses, and learned to know that everything he saw had been devised and made with specific purposes for specific ends, which, whenever wanted, they accomplished. Then he would understand that not a single rope or plank, not even

* If the sentiments of one of the seven sages had become universal, how little should we have known of the laws of the planetary worlds. Bion said that astronomers were most ridiculous persons (yελOLOTATOVS), for though they could not see the fish near the shores they were walking by, they pretended to be able to know the things that were in the skies.-Stobæus, p. 465.

one peg or nail, had been put in unnecessarily, or without direct meaning, foreseeing intention, and sufficient reason. It is the same in the structure of nature and in the economy of life. Meaning, plan, purpose, and efficient execution everywhere pervade them.

As I do not desire you to believe this because I assert it, I will state to you the grounds on which I rest my own conviction of it; because, if your belief can be associated with your satisfied reason, it will always be the more intellectual and influential.

Nature, as a creation, can only be what the Deity has made it to be; and it is what it is, solely because he has chosen so to frame and to continue it. He therefore intended to make it what we perceive that it is, because it is not possible for any one to make without intending to do so. But making equally implies previous devising and purpose, and a particular design and purpose; for anything made might have been differently made, or not made at all. To be what it is, instead of being anything else, it must therefore have been specially designed to be such, and that design must have been specially and accurately executed. But all special designs consist of plan and purpose, and, if executed, the execution is the representation-the realization of these in some perceptible form.

It is of essential importance to us that our sentiments on this great subject should be correctly and early formed; for you will find that they will very much influence and colour your after life and mind. It is in the first part of our worldly career that we have most leisure to think, and, by education, are led to meditation and inquiry; we are then also most able and disposed to think and judge fairly. Right opinions are the elements of all true wisdom, and even of moral conduct. Rectitude of mind and rectitude of action have a personal relation to each other, which is not easily shaken. Be right, therefore, in your conceptions and knowledge of your Creator, as soon as you can, that your mind may be settled on its proper basis and station for the remainder of your life.*

* There is a passage in Mr. H. Taylor's "Statesman" on the connexion between virtue and wisdom that deserves a place in your memory"If there be in the character not only sense and soundness, but also virtue of a high order, then, however little appearance there may be of talent, a certain portion of wisdom may be relied upon almost implicitly, "For the correspondences of goodness and wisdom are manifold; and that they will accompany each other is to be inferred, not only because

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