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practical operations, as he is constantly in the way of perceiving what is useless, defective, or in any way amiss in the common methods of procedure, To use a common expression, “he is in the way of good luck, and if he possesses the requisite information, he can take the advantage of it when it comes to him.” And should he be so fortunate as to hit on a new invention, he will probably enjoy not merely the honour which is attached to a new discovery, but also the pecuniary advantages which generally result from it. We have, therefore, every reason to hope, that, were scientific knowledge universally diffused among the working classes, every department of the useful arts would proceed with a rapid progress to perfection, and new arts and inventions, hitherto unknown, be introduced on the theatre of the world, to increase the enjoyments of domestic society, and to embellish the sace of nature. No possible limits can be assigned to the powers of genius, to the resources of science, to the improvement of machinery, to the aids to be derived from chymical researches, and to the skill and industry of mechanics and labourers when guided by the light which scientific discoveries have diffused around them. Almost every new discovery in nature lays the soundation of a new art; and since the recent discoveries of chymistry lead to the conviction, that the properties and powers of material substances are only beginning to be discovered—the resources of art must, in some measure, keep pace with our knowledge of the powers of nature. It is by seizing on these powers, and employing them in subserviency to his designs, that man has been enabled to perform operations which the whole united force of mere animal strength could never have accomplished. Steam, galvanism, the atmospheric pressure, oxygen, hydrogen, and other natural agents, formerly unnoticed or unknown, have been called into action by the genius of science; and, in the form of steam-boats and carriages, Voltaic batteries, gasometers and air-balloons, have generated forces, effected decompositions, diffused the most brilliant illuminations, and produced a celerity of motion both on sea and land which have astonished even the philosophical world, and which former generations would have been disposed to ascribe to the agencies of infernal demons. And who shall dare to set boundaries to the range of scientific discovery—or to say, that principles and powers of a still more wonderful and energetic nature, shall not be discovered in the system of nature, calculated to perform achievements still more striking and magnificent? Much has, of late years, been performed by the application and combination of chymical and mechanical powers, but much more, we may confidently expect, will be achieved in generations yet to come, when the
more brilliantly illuminated with the lights of science, and the splendid inventions of the present age be far surpassed in the “future miracles of mechanic power,” which will distinguish the ages which are yet to come. But, in order to this “wished for consummation,” it is indispensably requisite that the mass of mankind be aroused from their slumbers, that knowledge be universally diffused, and that the light of science shed its influence on men of every nation, of every profession, and of every rank. And is, through apathy or avarice, or indulgence in sensual propensities, we refuse to lend our helping hand to this object, now that a spirit of inquiry has gone abroad in the world—society may yet relapse into the darkness which enveloped the human mind during the middle ages, and the noble inventions of the past and present age, like the stately monuments of Grecian and Roman art, be lost amidst the mists of ignorance, or blended with the ruins of empires.
III. The knowledge and mental activity connected with the improvement of the arts, would promote the eaternal comforts of mankind, particularly of the lower orders of society.
Since the period when the arts began to be improved, and a spirit of inquiry after knowledge was excited among the middling and lower orders, many comforts and conveniencies have been introduced, and a new lustre appears on the face of general society. In many places the aspect of the country has been entirely changed; the low thatched cottage of the farmer has arisen into a stately mansion, the noisome dunghill which stood within two yards of his door, has been thrown into a spacious court at a distance from his dwelling, and his offices display a neatness and elegance which seem to vie with those of the proprietor of the soil. The gloomy parish church with its narrow aisle and tottering belfrey, has been transformed into a noble lightsome edifice, and adorned with a stately spire towering above all surrounding objects; and the village school, within whose narrow walls a hundred little urchins were crowded, like sheep in a sold, has now expanded into a spacious hall. Narrow dirty paths have been improved, roads formed on spacious plans, canals and railways constructed, streets enlarged, waste lands cultivated, marshes drained, and the interior of houses decorated and rendered more comfortable and commodious. In districts where nothing formerly appeared but a dreary waste, prin'fields have been established, cotton mills, sounderies, and other manufactories erected, villages reared, and the noise of machinery, the tolling of bells, the sound of hammers, the buzz of reels,
pnd the hum of human voices and of ceaseless activity, now diversity the scene where nothing was formerly heard but the purling stream or the howlings of the tempest. In certain parts of the country where the passing of a chariot was a kind of phenomenon, mails and stage-coaches crowded with travellers of all descriptions, within and without, now follow each other in rapid succession, conveying their passengers with uninterrupted rapidity, and at one-half the expense formerly incurred. Even on the inland lake, where scarcely a small skiff was formerly seen, steam-vessels are now beheld sweeping along in majestic style, and landing fashionable parties, heroes, divines, and philosophers, to enliven the rural hamlet, the heath-clad mountain, and the romantic glen. Much, however, is still wanting to complete the enjoyments of the lower ranks of society. In the country, many of them live in the most wretched hovels, open to the wind and rain, without a separate apartment to which an individual may retire for any mental exercise; in towns, a whole family is frequently crowded into a single apartment in a narrow lane, surrounded with silth and noxious exhalations, and where the light of day is scarcely visible. In such habitations, where the kitchen, parlour, and bed-closet are all comprised in one narrow apartment, it is next to impossible for a man to improve his mind by reading or reflection, amidst the gloom of twilight, the noise of children, and the preparation of victuals, even although he felt an ardent desire for intellectual enjoyment. Hence the temptation to which such persons are exposed to seek enjoyment in wandering through the streets, in frequenting the ale-house, or in lounging at the fire-side in mental inactivity. In order that the labourer may be stimulated to the cultivation of his mental powers, he must be furnished with those domestic conveniencies requisite for attaining this object. He must be paid such wages as will enable him to procure such conveniencies, and the means of instruction, otherwise it is next thing to an insult to exhort him to prosecute the path of science. The long hours of labour, and the paltry remuneration which the labourer receives in many of our spinning-mills and other manufactories, so long as such domestic slavery and avaricious practices continue, form an insurmountable barrier to the general diffusion of knowledge. B is were the minds of the lower orders imhuei with a certain portion of useful science, and did they possess such a competency as every numan being ought to enjoy, their knowledge would lead them to habits of diligence and economy. In most instances it will be found, that ignorance is the fruitful source of indolence, waste, and extravagance, and that abject poverty to the result of a want of discrimination and prower arrangement in the management of domestic
affairs. Now, the habits of application which the acquisition of knowledge necessarily produces, would naturally be carried into the various departments of labour peculiar to their stations, and prevent that laziness and inattention which is too common among the working classes, and which not unfrequently lead to poverty and disgrace. Their knowledge of the nature of heat, combustion, atmospheric air, and combustible substances, would lead them to a proper economy in the use of fuel; and their acquaintance with the truths of chymistry, on which the art of a rational cookery is founded, would lead them to an economical practice in the preparation of victuals, and teach them to extract from every substance all its nutritious qualities, and to impart a proper relish to every dish they prepare : for want of which knowledge and attention, the natural substances intended for the sustenance of man will not go half their length in the hands of some as they do under the judicious management of others. Their knowledge of the structure and functions of the animal system, of the regimen which ought to be attended to in order to health and vigour, of the causes which produce obstructed perspiration, of the means by which pestilential effluvia and infectious diseases are propagated, and of the disasters to which the human frame is liable in certain situations, would tend to prevent many of those diseases and fatal accidents to which ignorance and inattention have exposed so many of our fellow-men. For want of attending to such precautions in these respects, as knowledge would have suggested, thousands of families have been plunged into wretchedness and ruin, which all their future exertions were inadequate to remove. As the son of Sirach has well observed, “Better is the poor being sound and strong in constitution, than a rich man that is afflicted in his body. Health and good estate of body are above all gold; there are no riches above a sound body, and no joy above the joy of the heart.” As slovenliness and filth are generally the characteristics of ignorance and vulgarity, so an attention to cleanliness is one of the distinguishing features of cultivated minds. Cleanliness is conducive to health and virtuous activity, but uncleanliness is prejudicial to both. Keeping the body clean is of great importance, since more than the one half of what we eat and drink is evacuated by perspiration, and if the skin is not kept clean the pores are stopped, and perspira. tion consequently prevented, to the great injury of health. It is highly necessary to the health and cheerfulness of children; for where it is neglected, they grow pale, meagre, and squalid, and subject to several loathsome and troublesome diseases. Washing the hands, face, mouth, and feet, and occasionally the whole body, conduces to health, strength, and ease, and tends to prevent colds, rheumatism, cramps, the palsy, the itch, the tooth-ache, and many other maladies. Attention to cleanliness of body would also lead to cleanliness in regard to clothes, victuals, apartments, beds and furniture. A knowledge of the nature of the mephitic gases, of the necessity of pure atmospheric air to health and vigour, and of the means by which infection ls produced and communicated, would lead persons to see the propriety of frequently opening doors and windows to dissipate corrupted air, and to admit the refreshing breeze, of sweeping. cobwebs from the corners and ceiling of the room, and of removing dust, straw, or filth of any kind which is offensive to the smell, and in which infection might be deposited. By such attention, fevers and other malignant disorders might be prevented, vigour, healh, and serenity promoted, and the whole dwelling and its inmates present an air of cheerfulness and comfort, and become the seat of domestic felicity. Again, scientific knowledge would display itself among the lower orders, in the tasteful decorations of their houses and garden plots. The study of botany and horticulture would teach them to select the most beautiful flowers, shrubs, and evergreens ; to arrange their plots with neatness and taste, and to improve their kitchen-garden to the best advantage, so as to render it productive for the pleasure and sustenance of their families. A genius for mechanical operations which almost every person may acquire, would lead them to invent a variety of decorations, and to devise many contrivances for the purpose of conveniency, and for keeping every thing in its proper place and order—which never enter into the conceptions of rude and vulgar minds. Were such dispositions and mental activity generally prevalent, the circumstances which lead to poverty, beggary, and drunkenness, would be in a great measure removed, and home would always be resorted to as a place of comfort and enjoyment. Again the study of science and art would incline the lower classes to enter into the spirit of every new improvement, and to give their assistance in carrying it forward. The want of taste and of mental activity, and the spirit of selfishness which at present prevails among the mass of mankind, prevent the accomplishment of a variety of schemes which might tend to promote the conveniences and conforts of general society. For example; many of our villages which might otherwise present the appearance of neatness and comfort, are almost impassable, especially in the winter season, and during rainy weather, on account of the badness of roads and the want of foot-paths. At almost every step you encounter a pool, a heap of rubbish, or a dunghill, and in many places feel as if you were walking in a quagmire. In some villages, otherwise well planned, the streets present a grotesque appearance of sandy hillocks and mounds, and
pools of stagnant water scattered in every direction, with scarcely the vestige of a pathway to guide the steps of the passenger. In winter, the traveller, in passing along, is bespattered with mire and dirt, and in summer, he can only drag heavily on, while his feet at every step sink into soft and parched sand. Now, such is the apathy and indifference that prevail among many villagers as to improvement in these respects, that although the contribution of a single shilling on of half a day's labour might, in some instances, accomplish the requisite improvements, they will stand aloof from such operations with a sullen obstinacy, and even glory in being the means of preventing them. Nay, such is the selfishness of many individuals, that they will not remove nuisances even from the front of their own dwellings, because it might at the same time promote the convenience of the public at large. In large towns, likewise, many narrow lanes are rendered filthy, gloomy, and unwholesome by the avarice of landlords, and the obstinate and boorish manners of their tenants, and improvements prevented which would tend to the health and comfort of the inhabitants, But as knowledge tends to liberalise the mind, to subdue the principle of selfishness, and to produce a relish for cleanliness and comfort, when it is more generally diffused, we may expect that such improvements as those to which I allude will be carried forward with spirit and alacrity. There would not be the smallest difficulty in accomplishing every object of this kind, and every other improvement conducive to the pleasure and comfort of the social state, provided the majority of a community were cheerfully to come forward with their assistance and contributions, however small, and to act with concord and harmony. A whole community or nation acting in unison, and every one contributing according to his ability, would accomplish wonders in relation to the improvement of towns, villages, and hamlets, and of every thing that regards the comfort of civil and domestic society. In short, were knowledge generally diffused, and art uniformly directed by the principles of science, now and interesting plans would be formed, new improvements set on foot, new comforts enjoyed, and a new lustre would oppear on the face of nature, and on the state of general society. Numerous conveniencies, decorations, and useful establishments never yet attempted, would soon be realized. Houses on neat and commodious plans, in airy situations, and furnished with every requisite accommodation, would be reared for the use of the peasant and mechanic; schools on spacious plans for the promotion of useful knowledge would be erected in every village and hamlet, and in every quarter of a city where they were found expedient; asylums would be built for the receptiou of the friendless poor, whether young or old; manufactories established for supplying employment to every class of labourers and artizans, and lecture-rooms prepared, furnished with requisite apparatus, to which they might resort for improvement in science. Roads would be cut In all convenient directions, diversified with rural decorations, hedge-rows, and shady bowers, foot-paths, broad and smooth, would accompany them in all their windings, and gas-lamps, erected at every half-mile's distance, would variegate the rural scene and cheer the shades of night. Narrow lanes in cities would be either widened or their houses demolished ; streets on broad and spacious plans would be built, the smoke of steam-engines consumed, nuisances removed, and cleanliness and comfort attended to in every arrangement. Cheerfulness and activity would everywhere prevail, and the idler, the vagrant, an the beggar would disappear from society. All these operations and improvements, and hundreds more, could easily be accomplished, were the minds of the great body of the community throughly enlightened and moralized, an i every individual, whether rich or poor, who contributed to bring them into effect, would participate in the general enjoyment. And what an interesting picture would be presented to every benevolent mind, to behold the great body of mankind raised from a state of moral and physical degradation to the dignity of their rational natures, and to the enjoyment of the bounties of their Creator!—to behold the country diversified with the neat and cleanly dwellings of the industrious labourer, the rural scene, during the day, adorned with seminaries, manufactories, asylums, stately edifices, gardens, fruitful fields and romantic bowers, and, during night, bespanzled in all directions with variegated lamps, forming a counterpart, as it were, to the lights which adorn the canopy of heaven! Such are only a few specimens of the improvements which art, directed by science and morality, could easily accomplish.
on THE is FLU ENCE or kN tow LEDGE IN PROMoriog EN LARGED CONCE Ptions of THE Ch A RACTER AND PERFECrio Ns of THE ide iT Y.
All the works of God speak of their Author, in silent but emphatic language, and declare the glory of his perfections to all the inhabitants of the earth. But, although “there is no speech nor language” where the voice of Deity is not heard, how gross are the conceptions generally entertaired of the character of Him “in whom we live and move,” and by whose superintending providence all events are directed . Among the
greater number of pagan nations, the most absurd and grovelling notions are entertained respecting the Supreme Intelligence, and the nature of that worship which his perfections demand. They have formed the most foolish and degrading representations of this august Being, and have “changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corrupuble man, and to four-footed beasts and creeping things.” Temples have been erected and filled with idols the most hideous and obscene; bulls and crocodiles, dogs and serpents, goats and lions have been exhibited to adumbrate the character of the Ruler of the universe. The most cruel and unhallowed rites have been performed to procure his favour, and human victims sacrificed to appease his indignation. All such grovelling conceptions and vile abominations have their origin in the darkness which overspreads the human understanding, and the depraved passions which ignorance has a tendency to produce. Even in those countries where Revelation sheds its influence, and the knowledge of the true God is promulgated, how mean and contracted are the conceptions which the great bulk of the population entertain of the attributes of that incomprehensible Being whose presence pervades the immensity of space, who “metes out the heavens with a span,” and superintends the affairs of ten thousand worlds The views which many have acquired of the persections of the Deity, do not rise much higher than those which we ought to entertain of tho powers of an archangel, or of one of the seraphim ; and some have been known, even in our own country, whose conceptions have been so abject and grovelling, as to represent to thenselves “the King eternal, immortal, and invisible,” under the idea of a “venerable old man.” Even the more intelligent class of the community fall far short of the ideas they ought to form of the God of heaven, owing to the limited views they have been accustomed to take of the displays of his wisdom and benevolence, and the boundless range of his operations. We can acquire a knowledge of the Deity only by the visible effects he has produced, or the erternal manifestations he has given of himself to his creatures; for the Divine Essence must remain for ever inscrutable to finite minds. These manifestations are made in the Revelations contained in the Bible, and in the scene of the material universe around us. The moral perfections of God, such as his justice, mercy, and faithfulness, are more particularly delineated in his word; for, of these the system of nature can afford us only some slight hints and obscure intimations. His natural attributes, such as his immensity, omnipotence, wisdom, and goodness, are chiefly displayed in the works of creation; and to this source of information the inspired writers uniformly direct our attention, in order that we may acquire the most ample and impressive views of the grandeur of the Divinity, and the magnificence of his operations. “List up your eyes on high and behold! who hath created these orbs? who bringeth forth their host by number 2 The everlasting God the Lord, by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power. He measureth the ocean in the hollow of his hand, he comprehends the dust of the earth in a measure, he weigheth the mountains in scales, and hath stretched out the heavens by his understanding. All nations before him are as the drop of a bucket, and are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the giorv, and the majesty, for all that is in heaven and earth is thine.” The pointed interrogatories proposed to Job," and the numerous exhortations in reference to this subject, contained in the book of Psalms and other parts of Scripture, plainly evince, that the character of God is to be contemplated through the medium of his visible works. In order to acquire a just and comprehensive conception of the perfections of Deity, we must contemplate his character as displayed both in the system of Revelation and in the system of nature, otherwise we can acquire only a partial and distorted view of the attributes of Jehovah. The Scriptures alone, without the medium of his works, cannot convey to us the most sublime conceptions of the magnificence of his empire, and his eternal power and Godhead; and the works of nature, without the revelations of his word, leave us in profound darkness with regard to the most interesting parts of his character—the plan of his moral government, and the ultimate destination of man. Would we, then, acquire the most sublime and comprehensive views of that invisible Being, who created the universe, and by whom all things are upheld, we must, in the first place, apply ourselves, with profound humility and reverence, to the study of the Sacred oracles; and, in the next place, direct our attention to the material works of God as illustrative of his Scriptural character, and of the declarations of his word. And, since the sacred writers direct our views to the operations of the Almighty in the visible universe, in what manner are we to contemplate these operations 2 Are we to view them in a careless, cursory manner, or with fixed attention? Are we to gaze on them with the vacant stare of a savage, or with the nenetrating eye of a Christian philosopher? Are we to view them through the mists of ignorance and vulgar prejudice, or through the light which science has diffused over the wonders of creation ? There can be no difficulty to any -eflecting mind in determining which of these modes ought to be adopted. The Scriptures
declare, that as “the works of Jehovah are great,” they must be “sought out,” or thoroughly investigated, “by all those who have pleasure therein;” and a threatening is denounced against every one who “disregards the works of the Lord,” and “neglects to consider the operations of his hand.” Such declarations evidently imply, that we ought to make the visible works of God the subject of our serious study and investigation, and exercise the rational powers he has given us for this purpose; otherwise we cannot expect to derive from them a true and faithful exhibition of his character and purposes. For, as the character of God is impressed upon his works, that character cannot be distinctly traced unless those works be viewed in their true light and actual relations—not as they may appear to a rude and inattentive spectator, but as they are actually found to exist, when thoroughly examined by the light of science and of revelation. For example, a person unaccustomed to investigate the system of nature imagines that the earth is a fired inass of land and water in the midst of creation, and one of the largest bodies in nature, and, consequently, that the sun, moon, and stars, and the whole material universe revolve around it every twenty-four hours. Such a conception of the material system might, indeed, convey to the mind an astonishing idea of the power of the Deity in causing such an immense number of orbs to revolve around our world with so prodigious a velocity as behoved to take place, were the earth in reality a quiescent body in the centre of the universe. But it would give us a most strange and distorted idea of his intelligence. While it tended to magnify his omnipotence, it would, in effect, deprive him of the attribute of wisdom. For, in the first place, such a conception would represent the Almighty as having devised a system of means altogether superfluous and preposterous, in order to accomplish the end intended ; for it is the characteristic of wisdom to proportionate the means to the nature of the design which is to be accomplished. The design, in the case under consideration, is to produce the alternate succession of day and night. This can be effected by giving the earth itself a rotation round its axis, as is the case in other globes of much larger dimensions. But according to the conception to which we are now adverting, the whole material creation is considered as daily revolving around this comparatively little globe of earth, an idea altogether extravagant and absurd, and inconsistent with every notion we ought to entertain of infinite wisdon. In the next place, were the earth considered as at rest, the motions of the planets would present a series of looped curves without an v marks of design, a scene of inextricable co,..fusion, and the whole of the solar system would appear devoid of order and harmonv, and, conseuuently,