Natural Theology 1



CHAP. I. On the Distinction between the Ethics of Theology and the Objects of Theology
II On the Duty which is laid upon Men by the Probability or even the Imagination of a God,
III. Of the Metaphysics which have been resorted to on the side of Theism
IV. Of the Metaphysics which have been resorted to on the side of Theism
V. On the Hypothesis that the World is Eternal, .


CHAP. I. On the Distinction between the Laws of Matter and the Dispositions of Matter
CHAP. II. Natural and Geological Proofs for a Commencement of our present Terrestrial Economy,
III. On the Strength of the Evidences for a God in the Phenomena of Visible and External Nature,
CHAP. I. General Considerations on the Evidence afforded by the Phenomena and Constitution of the Human mind for the Being of a God,
II. On the Supremacy of Conscience
III. On the inherent Pleasure of the Virtuous, and Misery of the Vicious Affections
IV. The Power and Operation of Habit

On the Distinction between the Ethics of Theology and the Objects of Theology.

1. OUR first remark on the science of Theology is, that the objects of it, by their remoteness, and by their elevation, seem to be inaccessible. The objects of the other sciences are either placed, as those of matter, within the ken of our senses; or, as in the science of mind, they come under a nearer and more direct recognition still, by the faculty of consciousness. But no man hath seen God at any time. We "have neither heard His voice nor seen His shape." And neither do the felt operations of our own busy and ever-thinking spirits immediately announce themselves to be the stirrings of the divinity within us. So that the knowledge of that Being, whose existence, and whose character, and whose ways, it is the business of Theology to investigate, and the high purpose of Theology to ascertain, stands distinguished from all other knowledge by the peculiar avenues through which it is conveyed to us. We feel Him not. We behold Him not. And however palpably He may stand forth to our convictions, in the strength of those appropriate evidences which it is the province of this science to unfold - certain it is, that we can take no direct cognizance of Him by our faculties whether of external or internal observation.

2. And while the spirituality of His nature places Him beyond the reach of our direct cognizance, there are certain other essential properties of His nature which place Him beyond the reach of our possible comprehension. Let me instance the past eternity of the Godhead. One might figure a futurity that never ceases to flow, and which has no termination; but who can climb his ascending way among the obscurities of that infinite which is behind him? Who can travel in thought along the track of generations gone by, till he has overtaken the eternity which lies in that direction? Who can look across the millions of ages which have elapsed, and from an ulterior post of observation look again to another and another succession of centuries; and at each further extremity in this series of retrospects, stretch backward his regards on an antiquity as remote and indefinite as ever? Could we by any number of successive strides over these mighty intervals, at length reach the fountain-head of duration, our spirits might be at rest. But to think of duration as having no fountain-head; to think of time with no beginning; to uplift the imagination along the heights of an antiquity which hath positively no summit; to soar these upward steeps till dizzied by the altitude we can keep no longer on the wing; for the mind to make these repeated flights from one pinnacle to another, and instead of scaling the mysterious elevation, to lie baffled at its foot, or lose itself among the far, the long-withdrawing recesses of that primeval distance, which at length merges away into a fathomless unknown; this is an exercise utterly discomfiting to the puny faculties of man.
We are called on to stir ourselves up that we may take hold of God, but the "clouds and darkness which are round about. Him" seem to repel. the enterprise as hopeless; and man, as if overborne by a sense of littleness, feels as if nothing can be done but to make prostrate obeisance of all his faculties before Him.

3. Or, if instead of viewing the Deity in relation to time, we view Him in relation to space, we shall feel the mystery of his being to be alike impracticable and impervious. But we shall not again venture on aught so inconceivable, yet the reality of which so irresistibly obtrudes itself upon the mind, as immensity without limits; nor shall we presume one conjecture upon a question which we have no means of resolving, whether the Universe have its terminating outskirts; and so, however stupendous to our eye, shrink by its very finitude, to an atom, in the midst of that unoccupied and unpeopled vastness by which it is surrounded. Let us satisfy ourselves with a humbler flight. Let us carry the speculation no further than our senses have carried it. Let us but take account of the suns and systems which the telescope has unfolded; though for aught we know there might, beyond the furthest range of this instrument, be myriads of remoter suns and remoter systems. Let us, however, keep within the circle of our actual discoveries, within the limits of that scene which we know to be peopled with realities; and instead of trying to dilate our imagination to the infinity beyond it, let us but think of God as sitting in state and in high sovereignty over millions of other worlds beside our own.
If this Earth which we know and know so imperfectly form so small a part of His works - what an emphasis it gives to the lesson that we indeed know a very small part of his ways. "These are part of his ways," said a holy man of old, "but how little a portion is heard of Him." Here the revelations of Astronomy, in our modern day, accord with the direct spiritual revelations of a former age. In this sentiment at least the Patriarch and the Philosopher are at one ; and highest science meets and is in harmony with deepest sacredness. So that we construct the same lesson, whether we employ the element of space or the element of time. With the one the basis of the argument is the ephemeral experience of our little day. With the other the basis of the argument is the contracted observation of our little sphere. They both alike serve to distance man from the infinite the everlasting God.

4. But it will somewhat dissipate this felt obscurity of the science, and give more of distinctness and definiteness to the whole of this transcendental contemplation - if we distinguish aright between the Ethics of Theology, and the Objects of Theology.

5. To understand this distinction let us conceive some certain relation between two individual men - as that for example of a benefactor to a dependant, or of one who has conferred a kindness to another who has received it. There is a moral or ethical propriety that springs out of this relation. It is that of gratitude from the latter of these individuals to the former of them. Gratitude is the incumbent virtue in such a case, and a benefactor is the object of that virtue.

6. Now to make one feel the truth of the ethical principle, it matters not whether he has seen many or few benefactors in the course of his experience. Nay, it matters not whether there are many or few benefactors in the world. The moral propriety of gratitude is that which attaches to the relation between a benefactor and a dependant; and it equally remains so whether the relation be seldom or often exemplified. Nay, gratitude would be the appropriate virtue of this relation, although actually it were never exemplified at all. The ethical principle of the virtuousness of gratitude does not depend on the existent reality of an object for this virtue. Let a benefactor really exist; and then gratitude is due to him. Or let a benefactor only be supposed to exist; and then we affirm with as great readiness that gratitude would be due to him. The incumbent morality is alike recognised - whether we behold a real object, or only figure to ourselves a hypothetical one. The morality, in fact, does not depend for its rightness on any such contingency, as the actual and substantive existence of a proper object to which it may be rendered. The virtuousness of gratitude would remain a category in ethical science; although,. never once exemplified in the living world of realities, we derived our only notion of it from the possibilities which were contemplated in an ideal world of relations.

7. It is thus that whether much or little conversant with the objects of a virtue, there may of the virtue itself be a clear and vivid apprehension. A peasant, all whose experience is limited to the homestead of his own little walk, can recognise, the virtuousness of gratitude and justice and truth with as great correctness, and feel them too with as great intenseness, as the man of various and ample intercourse, who has traversed a thousand times wider sphere in human society. By enlarging the field of observation we may extend our acquaintance with the objects of moral science; but this does not appear at all indispensable to our acquaintance with the Ethics of the science. To appreciate aright the moral propriety which belongs to any given relation, we do not need to multiply the exemplifications or the cases of it. The one is not a thing of observation as the other is, and therefore not a thing to which the Baconian or inductive method of investigation is in the same manner applicable. Our knowledge of the objects belongs to the Philosophy of Facts. Our knowledge of the Ethics belongs to another and a distinct Philosophy.

8. There has been too much arrogated for the philosophy of Lord Bacon in our day. "Quid est?" is the only question to the solution of which it is applicable. It is by observation that we ascertain what are the objects in Nature; and what are, or have been, the events in the history of Nature. But there is another question wholly distinct from this, "Quid oportet ?" to the solution of which we are guided by another light than that of experience. This question lies without the domain of the Inductive Philosophy, and the science to whose cognisance it belongs shines upon us by the light of its own immediate evidence. There may have been a just and a luminous Ethics, even when the lessons of the experimental philosophy were most disregarded; and, on the other hand, it is the office of this philosophy to rectify and extend physical, but not to rectify and extend moral science.

9. On this subject there is an instructive analogy taken from another science, and which illustrates still more the distinction now stated between the objects and the ethics of Moral Philosophy that is, the distinction between the mathematics and the objects of Natural Philosophy.

10. The objects of Natural Philosophy are the facts or data of the science. The knowledge of these is only to be obtained by observation. Jupiter placed at a certain distance from the sun, and moving in a certain direction, and with a certain velocity, is an object. His satellites, with their positions and their motions, are also so many objects. Any piece of matter, including those attributes which it is the part of Natural Philosophy to take cognizance of, such as weight, and magnitude, and movement, and situation, is an object of this science. Altogether they form what may be called the individual and existent realities of the science. And Lord Bacon has done well in having demonstrated that for the knowledge of these we must give ourselves up exclusively to the informations of experience; that is, to obtain a knowledge of the visible properties of material things we must look at them, or of their tangible properties we must handle them, or of their weights or motions or distances we must measure them.

11. Thus far, then, do the applications of the Baconian Philosophy go, and no farther. After that the facts or objects of the science have in this way been ascertained, we perceive certain mathematical relations between the objects from which we can derive truths and properties innumerable. But it is not experience now which lights us on from one truth or property to another. The objects or data of the science are ascertained by the evidence of observation; but the mathematics of the science proceed on an evidence of their own, and land us in sound and stable mathematical conclusions, whether the data at the outset of the reasoning be real or hypothetical. The moral proprieties founded on equity between man and man would remain like so many fixtures in ethical science, though the whole species were swept away, and no man could be found to exemplify our conclusions. The mathematical properties founded on an equality between line and line would in like manner abide as eternal truths in geometry, although matter were swept away from the universe, and there remained no bodies whose position or whose distances had to be reasoned on.
It has been already said that we do not need to extend the domain of observation in order to have a clear and a right notion of the moral proprieties; and it may now be said that we do not need to extend the domain of observation in order to have a clear and a right notion of the mathematical properties. If straight lines be drawn between the centres of the earth and the sun and Jupiter, they would constitute a triangle, the investigation of whose properties might elicit much impotant truth on the relations of these three bodies. But all that is purely mathematical in the truth would remain, although it were not exemplified, or although these three bodies had no existence. Nay, the triangle might serve as an exemplar of an infinity of triangles, which required only a corresponding infinity of objects, in order that the general and abstract truth might become the symbol or representative of an endless host of applicable and actually existent truths. For the objects of both sciences you must have inductive or observational evidence; but by a moral light in the one science, and a mathematical light in the other, we arrive at the ethics of the first science, at the mathematics of the second, without the aid of the inductive philosophy.

12. It is interesting to note if aught may have fallen from Lord Bacon himself upon this subject. In his English treatise on "the advancement of learning," he says, "that in mathematics I can report no deficience." So that this great author of the experimental method by which to arrive at a true philosophy of facts, had no improvement to propose on the methods of mathematical investigation. And in his more extended Latin treatise on the same subject, entitled, "De augmentis scientiarum," where he takes so comprehensive a view of all the possible objects of human knowledge, he says, speaking of geometry and arithmetic, "which two arts have certainly been investigated and handled with much acuteness and industry; notwithstanding which, however, nothing has been added to the labours of Euclid in geometry by those who have followed him, that is worthy of so long a series of ages."

13. The proper discrimination then to be made in natural philosophy, is between the facts or data of the science, and the relations that by means of mathematics might be educed from these data. The former are ascertained by observation - after which no further aid is required from observation, while we prosecute that reasoning which often brings the most weighty and important discoveries in its train. It is well to consider how much can be achieved by rnathematics in this process, and how distinct its part is from that of wide and distant observation; insomuch. that by the light which it strikes out in the little chamber of one's own thoughts, we are enabled to proceed from one doctrine and discovery to another. From three distant points in the firmament, a triangle may be formed to which the very mathematics are applicable that we employ upon a triangle constructed upon paper by our own fingers. Whether they be the positions and the distances that lie within the compass of a diagram, or the positions and distances that obtain in wide immensity, it is one and the same geometry which, from a few simple and ascertained data, guides the inquirer to the various and important relations of both. After that observation hath its office, and made over to mathematics the materials which it hath gathered - this latter science the way to discoveries and applications and without one look more upon the heavens, with nought but the student's concentrated regard on the lines and the symbols that lie in little room upon his table, might the whole mysand mechanism of the heavens be unravelled.

14. Let those things, then, be rightly distinguished which are distinct from one another. They were not the objects of the science which gave the observer his mathematics. These objects were only addressed to his previous and independent mathematics; and he, in virtue of his mathematics, was enabled rightly to estimate many important relations which subsisted between the objects. Nay, it is conceivable that the objects might have remained for ever obscure and unknown to him. He, in this case, would have wanted an application which he now has for his mathematics - but the mathematics themselves would have been still as much within his reach or his power of acquisition as before. His mathematical nature, if we may so speak- would have been entire notwithstanding and he have had as clear a sense of the mathematical relations, and as prompt and powerful a faculty of prosecuting these to their results.
Things might have been so constituted, as that every star in the firmament should have been beyond the discernment of our naked eye; or what is still more conceivable, the lucky invention might never have been made by which the wonders of a remoter heavens have been laid open to our view. But still they were neither the informations of the eye nor of the telescope which furnished man with his geometry; they only furnished him with data for his geometry. And thus, while the objects of astronomy are brought to him by a light from afar - -there enters, as a constituent part of the science, the mathematics of astronomy, immediately seen by him in the light of his own spirit, and to master the lessons of which he needs not so much as one excursion of thought beyond the precincts of his own little home.

15. Now, what is true of the mathematical may be also true of the moral relations. We may have the faculty of perceiving these relations whether they be occupied by actually existent objects or not; or although we should be in ignorance of the objects. On the imagination that one of the inhabitants of the planet Jupiter had the mysterious knowledge of all my movements, and a mysterious power of guidance and protection over me; that he eyed me with constant benevolence, and ever acted the part of my friend and my guardian - I could immediately pronounce on the gratitude and the kind regard that were due from me back again: And should the imagination become a reality, and be authentically made known to me as such, I have a moral nature, a law. within my heart, which already tells me how I should respond to this cornmunication. The instance is extravagant; but it enables us at once to perceive what that is which must be fetched to us from without, and what that is which we have to meet it from within. The objects are either made known by observation; or, if they exist without the limits of observation, they are made known by the credible report or revelation of others. But when thus made known, they may meet with a prior and a ready made Ethics in ourselves. The objects may be placed beyond the limits of human experience; but though the knowledge of their existence must therefore be brought to us from afar, a sense of the correspondent moralities which are due to them may arise spontaneously in our bosoms. After the mind has gotten, in whatever way, its information of their reality then within the little cell of its own feelings and its own thoughts, there may be a light which manifests the appropriate ethics for the most distant beings in the universe.

16. We are thus enabled to bestow a certain amount of elucidation on a question which falls most properly to be discussed at the outset of Natural Theology. On this distinction between the ethics of the science and the objects of the science, we can proceed at least a certain way in assigning their respective provinces to the light of nature and the light of revelation. But for this purpose let us shortly recur again to the illustration that may be taken from the science of astronomy.

17. Natural Philosophy has two great departments - one of them celestial, the other terrestrial; and it may he thought a very transcendental movement on the part of an inquirer, a movement altogether per saltum, when he passes from the one to the other. Now this is true; but only should it be remarked in as far as it regards the objects of the science. The objects of the celestial lie in a far more elevated region than the objects of the terrestrial; and it may certainly be called a transcendental movement, when, instead of viewing with the telescope some lofty peak that is sustained however on the world's surface, we view therewith the planet that floats in the firmament and at an inconceivably greater distance away from it. There is a movement per saltum when we pass from the facts and data of the one department, to the facts and data of the other. But There is no such movement when we pass from the mathematics of the one department to the mathematics of the other. There is, no doubt, in one respect, a very wide transition; when instead of a triangle, whose baseline is taken by a pair of compasses from the Gunter scale, or even measured by a chain on the surface of the earth, we are called to investigate the relations of a triangle whose base-line is the diameter of the earth,. or perhaps the diameter of the earth's orbit. There is doubtless a very wide transition from the objects of the terrestrial to those of the celestial physics; when, instead of three indivisible points on the parchment that lies before us, or three signposts of observation that wave on mountain-tops within sight of each other, we have three planetary bodies that, huge though they be in themselves, shrink into atoms when compared with the mighty spaces that lie between them. The fields of observation are wholly different; but it is by the very same trigonometry that we achieve the computation of the resulting triangles. And we again repeat that, sublime as the ascent may be from the facts or data of the one computation to those of the other, there is no gigantic or impracticable stride in their mathematics, - that if able to trace certain curves in the page which lies before us, we are further able to scan the cycles of astronomy - that, widely apart as are the revelations of this wondrous science from the conceptions of our first and ordinary experience, yet grant but the facts, and it is by the dint of a familiar and ordinary mathematics, that the mind can ascend to them. It is thus that though in person we never stepped beyond the humble glen of our nativity, we may have that within the depository of our thoughts, which guides us to the certainties that be on the outskirts of creation. Within the little home of our bosom, there lie such principles and powers, as without one mile of locomotion are of as great avail, as if we could have traversed the infinities of space with the plumb-line in our hand, or carried the torch of discovery round the universe. It does look a marvel and a mystery, how man is able to climb the steep and lofty ascent from the terrestrial to the celestial in Natural Philosophy. But it helps to resolve the mystery, when we thus advert to the distinction between the facts or objects of the science, and the mathematics of the science. It at least tells us what that is, wherein the transition from the one department to the other lies; and gives us to understand that, could we in any way ascertain by observation, certain of the motions and magnitudes that belong to the upper regions of astronomy, there is an instrument within our reach, by which we may come to the accurate determination of its laws.

18. And as with Natural, so with Moral, Philosophy. The former hath its objects, whose properties are found by observation; and these objects have their mathematical relations, most of which are found without observation, by an abstract and solitary exercise of mind on the data which have been previously ascertained. There is a great difference between the terrestrial and the celestial physics, in regard to the way by which we arrive at the data. On the one field they are near at hand; and at all events do not lie beyond the confines of the globe which we inhabit. On the other field they have place and occupancy at an exceeding distance away from us. The eye in quest of them must lift itself above all earthly objects; and often beyond the ken of our natural vision, they would have been for ever unknown - had not the telescope, that powerful instrument of revelation, fetched them to the men of our world, from those far and hidden obscurities in which they had lain for ages. But whatever the difference may be between the terrestrial and the celestial physics, in regard to the way by which we arrive at their data - there is no such difference in regard to the way through which, by a mathematical process of reasoning, truths are educed from these data. It matters not whether they be the elements of some terrestrial survey, or the observed elements of some distant planet that have been committed to a formula, and made over to the investigations of the analyst. It was indeed a far loftier flight, when in the capacity of an observer, he passed from the stations and the objects of a landscape below to those of the upper firmament But there was no transition, at all corresponding to this - when passing from the mathematics of the one contemplation to the mathematics of the other. Even at the time when he labours to determine the form or the periods of some heavenly orbit,, his mind is only in contact with the symbols of that formula; or with the lines and spaces of that little diagram, which is before eyes. It is enough that the triangle which comprehends any portion however small of his paper, hath the same relations and properties with the triangle, which comprehends any portion however large of immensity. It is enough that what is predicated of the line which extends but a few inches may also be predicated of the same line when prolonged to the outskirts of creation. And thus it is, that after observation hath done its work and collected what may be styled the facts of Astronomy, there is a capability in the human spirit, and upon no other materials than what may lie within the compass of a table, to unravel the principles of its wondrous mechanism - and in the little chamber of thought, to elaborate a doctrine which shall truly represent the universe and is realized in its most distant processes.

19. Now whence were the mathematics by which he made an achievement so marvellous - whence were these mathematics derived? For our purpose it is a sufficient answer to this question that he had not to go abroad for them. They may have enabled him to scan the cycles of heaven - but most certainly heaven's lofty concave is not the page from which his geometry was drawn. To obtain the necessary mathematics he has not to travel beyond the limits of his own humble apartment - and though in person he may have never wandered from the secluded valley that bounds his habitation, yet, such is the power of this home instrument, that it can carry him in thought through the remotest provinces of nature, and give him the intellectual mastery over them. He needs not have gone half-a-mile in quest of those conceptions which lie in little room within the receptacle of his bosom. There may have been some obscurely initial or rudimental business of observation at the outset of his mental history, ere his notions of a hue or a number or a quantity were settled; but it is an observation that might have all been carried on within a cell or a hermitage: And the important thing to be remarked is, that these notions, of homeward growth and origin though they be, are available on the field of the celestial as well as on that of the terrestrial Physics - and that when once by observation the respective data of each are ascertained, the same mathematics are applicable to both.

20. And it is just so in Moral Philosophy. This science hath its objects that are ascertained by observation - and, apart from these, it hath its Ethics, in virtue of which it can assign the moral relations that subsist between these objects. The facts of the science are just as distinct from the ethics of the science, as the facts of Natural Philosophy are from the mathematics of Natural Philosophy. By observation we can know of certain particulars in the state, or of certain passages in the history of two human beings - and, not by means of any further observation, but by certain ethical principles and by these alone, we can pronounce moral relationship that is between them, and on. the proprieties of that relationship. .Let us but know of any two men, that the one is a friendly and disinterested benefactor, and that other is a dependant on his liberalities - or of one that he is the generous lender, and of the that he is the debtor who had promised and is now in circumstances to repay - or of the one that he is an injured party, and of the other that he is now a prostrate offender honestly offering every reparation, and pouring out from the sincerity of a contrite bosom the acknowledgments and the vows of a deep-felt repentance: these are the facts of so many distinct cases presented to view either by our own observation or by the credible testimony of others; and it is not by means of any further observation, it is not by the aid of any additional facts that we learn what be the moralities which belong to each of them. Observation, whether in Natural or in Moral Philosophy, furnishes only the data. It is by a mathematics in the one case, and by an ethics in the other that we draw our conclusions from these data. The gratitude that we should render to a benefactor, the fidelity that we should observe with a creditor, the forgiveness that we should award to a penitent: these are not the lessons of observation any more than the axioms or the demonstrated truths of geometry. And as in Natural Philosophy we should distinguish between the facts of every question and its mathematics; so is there a similar distinction to be observed between the facts and the ethics of every question in Moral Philosophy

21. This helps us to understand what the precise nature of the transition is, when we pass from to celestial moral science. We pass to other data; but we have the same ethics - just as when in physical science we elevate our regards from the earth we tread upon to the sublime movements of astronomy, we pass to other data but have the same mathematics. He who can resolve a triangle whose angles are indivisible points on the parchment that lies before him, can resolve a triangle whose angles are planets in the firmament - and all that he requires to know are the facts or the objects of the celestial physics, to make his mathematics as available in that Natural Philosophy whose field is the heavens, as he may have already made them in that Natural Philosophy whose field is this lower world. In like manner he who can assign the proprieties of that relation which subsists between a dependent family and their earthly benefactor, can assign the proprieties of that relation which subsists between our whole species and their heavenly Benefactor. For this purpose he has no new ethics to learn; and all that he requires to know are the facts or the objects of this higher relationship - to make the ethics which he already has as available in that Moral Philosophy whose field is the heaven above, as he has already made them in that Moral Philosophy trhose field is the earth below. 22. The celestial physics form a more transcendental theme than the, terrestrial. But this character of the more transcendental lies only in the facts, and not at all in the mathematics. And so the celestial in Moral Philosophy is a more transcendental theme than the terrestrial - but this too lies only in the facts, and not at all in the ethics. To obtain the facts and data of the former science, a new and peculiar mode of discovery was struck out. The telescope was invented. Many of the objects were beyond the reach of our natural vision; and nature was provided with an assistance - else there had been much of the celestial physics that would have remained for ever unknown. The same may, perhaps, hold of the celestial ethics also. Perhaps, there are many of its data that never could have been ascertained but by a peculiar mode of discovery.

22. Perhaps the unaided faculties of man were incompetent to the task - and what the telescope hath done for us in respect of the material heavens, a living messenger may have done for us in repect of their moral and spiritual economy. It is a very wide transition when we pass from Those distances in a terrestrial survey which can be measured by the chain, or at the farther extremities of which we can descry some floating signal that has been erected by human hands - when we from these through the mighty voids of immensity; and across that interval which separates the rolling worlds from each other, can now by the aid of the telescope look on moons and planets that eye had not seen, nor ear heard of, neither had it entered into the heart of man to conceive. And it is also a wide transition when we pass from the terrestrial to the celestial objects of Moral Philosophy - from the living society around us, to the Great Unseen who is above us; and of whom perhaps we could not have known save by the voice of a messenger from the pavilion of his special residsnce, who in reference to the celestial ethics, hath done what the telescope hath done in reference to the celestial mechanics, hath brought out from the obscurity in which for ages they had lain, objects of which the world was before unconscious; but to which when made known she is already furnished with a morality by which she can respond to them - even as when the new facts of astronomy were presented to her view, she already had the mathematics by which she could draw from them the just and important applications. The telescope gave her no geometry, though it gave her the data of many a geometrical exercise. And thus it is that a teacher from heaven, even though he should confine himself to the revelation of such facts and objects as had been before wrapt from human eye in the depths of their own mysteriousness - though he should simply lift the veil from that which was before unseen; or by the notices that he brought with him from the Upper Sanctuary, should bring forward into view a spiritual landscape, which- by its remoteness, was dim at least, if not altogether invisible - though he should not. be the expounder of any new morality at all, might be the expounder of facts that would meet and call forth a doctrine, or a previous discernment of morality, which had been already in the world.

23. And thus as the movement from the terrestrial tothe celestial is, in.Natural so is it also in Moral Pbilosophy. By this movement we look at other thing and perhaps do so by other instruments of vision. In the latter, more particularly, instead of our fellow men, with whom we can hold immediate converse by the organs of sense, the great object is a Being whom no man hath seen at any time; but whom we either see by reflection from the mirror of His own workmanship, or sce by revelation brought down to our earthly dwelling places through a direct embassy from heaven.

24. And if on earth gratitude to a human benefactor is not unknown, and the universal sense of the species that there is virtue in the emotion - if truth, and goodness, and purity, when seen in a fellow mortal, draw an homage from the heart of every observer - if within the bounds of our world, the obligations of honour and humanity, and justice, are felt among those who live upon it; then let a new object be set forth to us from heaven, or perhaps an object seen but darkly before and now set forth in brighter manifestation - let Him be made known as the God whose hands did frame and fashion us, and whose right hand upholds us continually - let some new light be thrown upon His character and ways; some new and before unheard demonstration given of a holiness that can descend to no compromise with sin, and yet of a love that by all the sin of His creatures is unquenchable - let Him now stand out in the lustre of His high attributes, with each shedding a glory upon the other, yet mercy rejoicing over them all - let this Being, at once so lovely and so venerable, be expounded to our view, as the Father of the human family, and as sending abroad upon that world which He hath so plenteously adorned, a voice of general invitation,, that his wandering children might again return to his forgiveness, and He again be securely seated in the confidence and affection of them all - it needs not that there be superadded to our existing Ethics, some new principle, in order that we may be qualified to meet this new revelation which is addressed to us. From the nature of man as he is already constituted, there might I go back a moral echo to Him who thus speaketh to them from heaven; and they might only need to look upon the now manifested Deity, that their hearts may feel the love, or their consciences may attest the obedience which are due to Him.

25. And there is nought to baffle our ethics in the infinity of God, or in the distance at which He stands from us. Only grant Him to be our benefactor and our owner; and on this relation alone do we confidently found our obligations, both of gratitude and of service. Just as there is nothing, either in the mighty distance or overbearing magnitude of the sun, that baffles our mathematics The magnitude of quantity does not affect the relations of qualitity. It only gives a larger result to the calculation. And the same is true of the moral relations. Though the being who is the object of them, be exalted to the uttermost - though the beneficence which he has rendered outweigh indefinitely all that ever was conferred upon us by our fellow-men, there is nothing in this to disturb the conclusion that we owe him a return. It only enhances the conclusion. It only swells proportionally the amount of the return - and instead of some partial offering, it points to the dedication of all our powers, and the consecration of all our habits, as the alone adequate expressions of our loyalty. In ascending from the terrestrial to the celestial ethics, we come in view of more elevated gifts, and a more elevated giver - but the relation between the two elements, of goodwill on the one hand and of gratitude on the other, subsists as before-and the only effect of this ascent upon the morality of the question, is, that we are led thereby to infer the obligation of a still more sacred regard, and still more duteous and devoted obedience.

26. Observation may have been the original source of all our mathematics. My acquiescence in the axioms of Euclid may have been the fruit of which I have had with the external of my senses; and but for the exercise of the eye or, of the feelings on visible or tangible objects, I might never have obtained the conception of lines, or of figures bounded by lines. This may be true; and yet it is not less true that every essential or elementary idea of the mathematics may be acquired in early life, and with a very limited range of observation; and that we do not need to widen or extend this range - nay, that without the aid of one additional fact or experience, it is possible for the spirit of man to pass onward from the first principles of the science, and traverse all the fields both of geometry and analysis that have yet been explored. More particularly - with that little of observation, which for aught we know might have been necessary ere we could conceive aright of one triangle with that, and no more, might we master the many thousand properties of each individual in that infinity of triangles that could be furnished by the points innumerable of space - and so, while passing from one truth to another in the little diagram that is before me-, I may in fact, and without one particle of more light being borrowed from observation, be storing up in my mind the truths of a high and distant astronomy. And, in like manner, observation it may be contended is the original source of all our ethics, though I should rather say that it supplied the occasional cause for the development of our ethical faculties. But in either way, I must perhaps have seen an exemplification of kindness from one being to another, ere I could understand that gratitude was the emotion which ought to be rendered back again. But after having once gotten my conception and my belief of the virtue of this peculiar relationship - this will serve me for all the cases of Beneficence that shall ever afterwards come within my knowledge. The moral will admit of as wide and as confident an application as the mathematical - and only grant me to have ethics enough for perceiving that when between two - fellow-men there is good-will on the one side, there ought to be gratitude on the other-and then simply with the information that God exists, and that He is a God of kindness, the very ethics which told me what I owe to a beneficent neighbour also tells me what I owe to a beneficent Deity.

27. We may thus learn what is the precise ascent whieh we make, in passing from the terrestrial to the celestial in Moral Philosophy. Let us distinguish between the objects of the science and the ethics of the science - and take notice that these two things stand related to each other, as do the objects of Natural Philosophy to the mathematics of Natural Philosophy. It is well to understand that a revelation of new facts might of itself suffice for this transition from the lower to the higher department of the subject - and that we do not need to go in quest of new principles. We may perhaps feel relieved from the apprehension of some great and impracticable mystery in this progress-and, at all events, it is most desirable that we conceive what be the actual which accomplished. In Natural Philosophy the revelations of the telescope have been super-added to the conceptions of the naked eye - and by this what was before seen has been made more distinct, and there has been brought forth to notice what before was wholly invisible. Perhaps, too, in Moral Philosophy, a science which in its most comprehensive sense embraces all the discoverable relations of the moral world, some new and revelation hath been super-added to the powers and the perceptions of Nature-and by which, we both see brighter what before was seen but dimly, and there may have further been made known to us what to the unaided mind of man is wholly undiscoverable. But still they might mainly be the peculiar facts or peculiar data which constitute the peculiarities of the celestial and distinguish it from the terrestrial of Moral Philosophy. It is in the facts and not in the ethics that the peculiarity lies.

28. The question then is - " What are the facts, and how are they accredited ?" We already have an ethics suited to all the objects that we actually know - and that could be adapted to more objects on the moment of their being proposed to us. By the mathematics now in our possession, we could assign orbits corresponding to every possible law of attraction in astronomy. There is only one such law ascertained by observation; and the mathematical result of it is - the elliptic course of every planet that is within the reach of our instruments. Could we be made to know of the fact, that there is a gravitation of another rate in distant places of the universe, we are already furnished with the mathematics that would assign the path and periodical velocity of all the projectiles which are under it. Should a new satellite of Jupiter be discovered, the mathematics are at hand by which to assign the path that he ought to follow - and, to extend this I remark from the physical to the moral world, should I be authentically made sure of the fact that there is a mystic influence between some certain inhabitant of that planet and myself, that in his breast there is a sympathy towards me, and in his hands a power over me - that he hath an eye upon all my movements, and by the charm of some talisman in his possession, can read all the feelings.and fluctuations of my bosom - that, withal, he is my watchful and unwearied friend, and that every opportune suggestion, whether of comfort in distress or of counsel in the midst of my perplexities, is but the secret whisper of his voice - this were a fact utterly beyond the range of all our present experience, yet if only ascertained to be a fact not beyond the range of our present and existing ethics-and the gratitude I should owe to this beneficent though unseen guardian of my walk is as sure a dictate of our known and established morality, as is the gratitude that I owe to the nurse who tended my infancy, or to the patron who led me step by step along the bright prosperity of my manhood.

29. To ascertain then whether there be indeed a celestial ethics we haye to go in quest of facts, and not of principles. We have no new system of morality to devise. There are present capacities of. moral judgment and emotion within our heart; and for the development of which the world that is immediately around us is crowded with the objects to which they respond. The question is, whether there are not such objects also out of our world - and which when so addrest to our understanding :that we perceive their reality, do not furthermore so address our sense of duty, as to convince us of a something which we ought to feel, or of a something which we ought to do.

30. We are aware, that along with the total degeneracy of man, there has been a total darkness ascribed to him; but we feel quite assured that in the vagueness and vehemence wherewith this charge has been preferred, the distinction between the objects and the ethics of Theology has not been enough adverted to. There is no such blindness in respect to moral distinctions that there is in respect to objects placed beyond the domain of observation, and holding substantive existence in a spiritual and unseen world. It is true that there is diversity of moral sentiment among men - .and that, along with the general recognition of one and the same morals in the various ages and countries of the world, there have been certain special and important modifications. These have so far been well accounted for by Dr. Thomas Brown in one of his Lectures upon this subject-and what he has said on the effect of passion in so blinding for a time the mind that is under its influence as to obscure its perceptions of moral truth, may apply to whole generations of men unbridled in revenge or immersed in the depths of sensuality. Even the worst of these, however, will pronounce aright on the great majority of ethical questions - and should the power of profligacy or passion be from any cause suspended, if solemnized or arrested by the revelation of new objects from heaven, or (even without the intervention of aught so striking as this) if but withdrawn for a season from those influences which darken the understanding only because they deprave the affections, it is wonderful with how much truth of sentiment virtue is appreciated and the homage to virtue is felt. A thousand evidences of this could be extracted, not from the light and licentious but certainly from the grave and didactic authorship both of Greece and Rome. while beyond the limits of Christendom, all those peculiar revelations of the Gospel which relate either to past events or to existent objects are almost wholly unknown - we are persuaded that bosoms may be found which would do the homage of acknowledgement at least, if not of obedience, to its truth and its purity.and its kindness and its generous self-devotion all the world over.

31. On this distinction between the objects and the ethics of Theology we should not have expatiated so long had we not been persuaded of the important uses to which it may be turned in estimating the legitimacy and the weight of various sorts of evidence for the truth of religion; and, more especially, in helping us to mark the respective provinces which belong to the light of nature and to the light of revelation. We sometimes hear of the application of the Baconian Philosophy to the Christian argument; and it is our belief that this philosophy so revered in modern times, and the experimental seience of our day stands indebted for its present stability and gigantic elevation, does admit of most wholesome and beneficial application to the question. between infidels ,and believers. But then we must so discriminate as to assign those places in the controversy where the Philosophy of Bacon is, and those where it is not applicable. It is of paramount authority on the question of facts or objects. On the question of ethics again, it is not more admissible than on the question of mathematics. And by thus confining it within its appropriate limits, we not only make a sounder application of it-but an application of it that we shall find to be greatly more serviceable to the cause.

32. Our first inference from this argument is, that even though the objects of Theology lay under total obscuration from our species - though a screen utterly impervious were placed between the mental eye of us creatures here below, and those invisible beings by whom heaven is occupied - still we might have an ethics in reserve, which on the screen being in any way withdrawn, will justly and vividly respond to the objects that are on the other side of it. There might be a mathematics without Astronomy, but of which instant application can be made, on the existent objects of Astronomy being unveiled. And there may be a morals without Theology, that, on the simple presentation of its objects, would at once recognise the duteous regards and proprieties which belong to them. We often hear, in the general, of the darkness of nature. But a darkness in regard to the ethics might not be at all in the same proportion or degree as a darkness in regard to the objects of Theology. We can imagine the latter to be a total darkness, while the former is only a twilight obscurity; or may even but need a revelation of the appropriate facts to be excited into full illumination. There may be moral light along with the .ignorance of all supernal objects, in which case there can be no supernal application. But yet, in reference to the near and palpable and besetting objects of a sublunary scene, this same light might be of most useful avail in the business of human society. It is thus that we understand the Apostle when speaking of the work of the law being written in the hearts of the Gentiles, and of their being a law unto themselves. It at least furnished as much light to the conscience as that they could accuse or else excuse each other. In. this passage he concedes to nature the knowledge, if not of the objects of Theology at least of the ethics. There might need perhaps to be a revelation ere any moral aspiration can be felt towards God - but without such a revelation, and without any regard being had to a God, there might be a reciprocal play of the moral feelings among men, a standard of equity and moral judgment, a common principle of reference, alike indicated in their expressions of mutual esteem and mutual recrimination.

33.. This, we think, should be quite obvious to at all acquainted with the literature and history of ancient times. It is true that ere all the phenomena even of pagan conscience and sensibility can be explained, we must admit the knowledge, or at least the imagination of certain objects in Theology: But it is also true that apart Theology altogether, with no other objects in the view of the mind than those which are supplied within the limits of our visible world and by the fellows of our species, there was a general sense of the right and the wrong - an occasional exempliflcation of high and heroic virtue with the plaudits of its accompanying admiration on the one hand - or, along with execrable villany, the prompt indignancy of human hearts, and execration of human tongues upon the other. We are not pleading for the practical strength of morality in those days, - though we might quote the self- devotion of Regulus, the continence of Scipio, and other noble sacrifices at the shrine of principle.or patriotism. It is enough for our object which is to prove, not the power of morality, but merely the sense and recognition of it - that the nobility of these instances was felt, that the homage of public acclamation was rendered to them, that historians eulogized and poets sung the honours of illustrious virtue. We are not contending for such a moral nature as could achieve the practice, but for such a moral nature as could discern the principles of righteousness.. In short there was a natural ethics among men, a capacity both of feeling and of perceiving the moral distinction between good and evil. The works of Horace and Juvenal and above all of Cicero abundantly attest this. - nor are we aware of aught more splendid and even importantly true in the whole authorship of Moral Science than a passage from the last of these writers which is a testimony of a heathen to the law within the breast-and armed too with such power of enforcement, that, apart from the retributions of a reigning and a living judge, man cannot offer violation to its authority without at the same time suffering the greatest of all penalties in the violence which he thereby offers to his own nature.

34. But though we have thus separated between the Ontology and the Deontology of the question, between man's knowledge of existences and his knowledge of duties, between the light by which he views the being of a God and the light by which he views the services and affections that we owe to Him - let it not be imagined that in conceding to nature the faculty of perceiving virtue, we concede to her such a possession of virtue, as at all to mitigate that charge of total and unexcepted depravity Scriptures have preferred against her. And neither let it be imagined that we even accredit her with such an unclouded perception of Ethics; as to leave nothing for revelation to do, but to superadd the knowledge of objects - so that on the simple information of what is truth, we could instantly and decisively follow it up with the conclusion of what is duty. We believe that Christianity not only addresses to the mind of her disciples objects which were before unknown, but quickens and enlightens them in the sense of what is right and wrong - making their moral discernment more clear, and their moral sensibility more tender. But remember that Christianity herself presupposes this moral sense in nature - not however so as to alleviate the imputation of nature's worthlessness, but really and in effect to enhance it. Had nature been endowed with no such sense, all responsibility would have been taken away from her. Where there is no law there is no transgression; and it is just because men in all ages and in all countries are a law unto themselves, that the sweeping condemnation of Scripture can be carried universally round among the sons and daughters of our species.

35. This distinction in fact between the ethics and the objects of Theology will help us to defend aright the great Bible position of the depravity of our nature. It will lead us to perceive that there may be a morality without godliness, even as there may be a mathematics without astronomy. If we make proper discrimination we shall acknowledge how possible it is that there may be integrity and humanity in our doings with each other - while the great unseen Being with whom we have most emphatically to do, is forgotten and disowned by us. We shall at length understand how along with the play and reciprocation of many terrestrial moralities in our lower world - we may be dead, and just from our heedlessness of the objects, to all those celestial moralities by which we are fitted for a higher and a better world. We shall cease from a treacherous complacency in the generosity or uprightness of nature; and no longer be deceived, by the existence of social virtue upon earth, into the imagination of our most distant claim to that heaven, from the elevation and the sacredness of which all the children of humanity have so immeasurably fallen.

36. So far from the degree of natural light which have contended for being any extenuation of human depravity, it forms the very argument on which the Apostle concluded that all, both Jews and Gentiles, were under sin. His inference from universal possession of a conscience among men is "sothat they are without excuse." It is not they are blind that they are chargeable - because they to a certain extent see that their sin remaineth with them. We indeed think that the view which we have given may to the defence of Orthodoxy, when the man's conscience and the natural virtues are pled in mitigation of that deep and terrible wickedness which is ascribed to him in the Bible. For it suggests this reply - There may mathematics without astronomy - there may an Ethics without Theology. Even though the phenomena of the visible heavens are within the reach of human observation - yet, if we will not study them, we may still have a terrestrial geometry; but a celestial, we altogether want, nay have wilfully put away from us. And so also, we may be capable of certain guesses and discoveries respecting God - yet, if we will not prosecute them,. we may still have a terrestrial morals, and yet be in a state of practical atheism. The face of human society may occasionally brighten with the patriotism and the generosity and the honour which reciprocate from one to another amongst the members of the human family - and yet all rnay be immersed in deepest unconcern about their common Father who is in heaven - all may be living without God in the world.

End of Chapter One.
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