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THE human mind is constituted on active principles; a state of quiescence is not natural to it. Prompted by curiosity, or animated by a thirst for knowledge, it is ever anxious to extend its researches beyond the boundaries which it has attained, and to acquire new ideas. Such being the constitution of the human mind, the exertion of its powers to the utmost of their ability, in obtaining knowledge, is highly commendable. But as the happiness of man'depends on the nature of his acquirements, and as the correctness of his morals will be in proportion to the accuracy of his principles, nothing can be more obvious than that it is of the utmost moment his attention should be directed to proper objects of contemplation; and that the operations of his mind should be under the control of an accurate judgment. An error here may lead to results beyond description calamitous.
All the objects which invite our attention are either of human or of divine origin; and they bear upon them characteristics which determine their author. I would not be supposed to depreciate human science, or disparage those surprising efforts of the mind, which various pieces of mechanism demonstrate but, granting to the efforts of created intellect all the admiration which they can justly claim, will they, for one moment, bear a comparison with the productions of Deity? The highest efforts of human ingenuity sink into insignificance when viewed in comparison with the least of the works of God. Created intellect is narrow in its resources. Our inventive career is soon exhausted, or speedily impeded by insurmountable obstacles; and imperfection is discoverable in every thing which the mind of man originates, and which his hands execute. The most complete work which is the offspring of his skill has its blemishes. But these imperfections are not discoverable in the works of a divine agency; the lowest efforts of his creative power contain a perfection of structure, and a complication of parts, which astonish the greatest human intellect, while existing facts clearly demonstrate that his resources are infinite. In his works there is an undefinable variety to amuse, almighty power to surprise, exhaustless goodness to engage, and unbounded wisdom to delight, every attentive beholder.
If the works of God so infinitely surpass those of man, it follows, that a knowledge of the former
must, in the same proportion, exceed in importance that of the latter. Every new attainment here tends to enrich the mind for eternity, while it yields au ample compensation in the present state for the labour of acquiring it. And never are the powers of the soul so rationally, and so nobly employed, as when their utmost energy is engaged in pursuits so truly sublime. That man is in a state at once most criminal and most pitiable, who can pass along the journey of life which leads him through a universe of wonders, all of which discover that gracious Being to whom they are intended to conduct him, and yet neither admire his works, nor love their author. Objects which will engage the attention, and excite the admiration of angels, and of the spirits of just men made perfect to an unceasing eternity, surely cannot be unworthy of the investigation of intellectual beings during the period of their probation in time.
The volume of inspiration constantly appeals to the facts of nature in order to illustrate the perfections of deity, and to explain spiritual and moral truths to the human mind; while the objects of nature lend their willing aid, and surprisingly well perform the important services required. It has therefore been a matter of great astonishment, that natural philosophy and scripture theology should ever have been considered as opponents, and as supporting contrary interests. What do the Sacred Scriptures design but to instruct us in those things which relate to
God? And does not nature teach the same? Does not he who was pre-eminently a teacher sent from God, sanctify philosophy by employing its various objects in order to convey divine truth in the most comprehensible form to the human mind? This mode of instruction was so general with him, that it is remarked," Without a parable spake he not unto them." And his parables, in general, were founded on the facts of nature, and spoken with all the accuracy which a perfect acquaintance with the philosophy of those facts could furnish.
Philosophy is so blended with the religion of the Sacred Scriptures by the spirit of inspiration, that an attempt to separate them would do violence to arrangements which have been made by infinite intelligence, This union indeed is so intimate, that many portions of divine revelation cannot be understood without a knowledge of nature; and the excellency and sublimity of other passages, cannot be discovered without some acquaintance with nature as well in its causes as in its effects. That theologian is therefore qualified to be an able expositor of the volume of inspiration, in whom are united a renovated heart, and a sound philosophy. Possessed of an understanding illuminated by the spirit of God, he will so employ the objects of creative power, as to display the truths of revelation to advantage, and conduct the mind
" from Nature up to Nature's God."