Obrazy na stronie
PDF

in physical research, and for his work, an Experimental Inquiry into the Nature and Propagation of Heat, 1804. A sixth dissertation was added in 1856 by the present Professor of Natural Philosophy, JAMEs DAVID FoRBEs, who continued the general view of the progress of mathematical and physical science principally from 1755 to 1850. “If we look for the distinguishing characteristic of the centenary period just elapsed [1750–1850], we find it, says Professor Forbes, ‘in this, that it has drawn far more largely upon experiment as a means of arriving at truth than had previously been done. By a natural conversion of the process, the knowledge thus acquired has been applied with more freedom and boldness to the exigencies of mankind, and to the further investigation of the secrets of nature. If we compare the now extensive subjects of heat, electricity, and magnetism, with the mere rudiments of these sciences as understood in 1750; or if we think of the astonishing revival of physical and experimental optics —which had well-nigh slumbered for more than a century—during the too short lives of Young and Fresnel, we shall be disposed to admit the former part of the statement; and when we recollect that the same period has given birth to the steam-engine of Watt, with its application to shipping and railways—to the gigantic telescopes of Herschel and Lord Rosse, wonderful as works of art as well as instruments of sublime discovery—to the electric telegraph, and to the tubular bridge —we shall be ready to grant the last part of the proposition, that science and art have been more indissolubly united than at any previous period.’ Those recent discoveries in science and art are popularly described by Professor Forbes in his interesting dissertation. He is also known as the author of some valuable works-Travels through the Alps of Savoy, 1843; Norway and its Glaciers, visited in i851; The Tour of Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa, 1855; &c. He has well supported the scientific reputation of the University of Edinburgh, and has still, we trust, many years—he was born in 1808–of honourable and useful exertion before him. There has been no continuation of the dissertations on the progress of metaphysical and ethical philosophy, but a work by MR. J. D. MoRELL, Inspector of Schools, England, in some measure supplies the deficiency. . This work is entitled An Historical and Critical View of the Speculative Philosophy of Europe in the Nineteenth Century, two volumes, 1846. Mr Morell has also published four lectures on the Philosophical Tendencies of the Age, 1848; The Philosophy of Religion, 1849; and Elements of Psychology, 1853. Referring to the above works for full information, we can only notice a few of the leading scientific writers.

SIR Joh N HERSCII EL.

The more popular treatises of this eminent astronomer—the Preliminary Discourse on Natural Philosophy, 1830, and Treatise on Astronomy, 1833, have already been mentioned as forming part of Lardner's Cyclopaedia. Sir John has since collected a series of Essays which appeared in the Edinburgh and Quarterly Reviews, with Addresses and other Pieces, 1857. Profoundly versed in almost every branch of physics, Sir John Herschel has occasionally sported with the Muses, but in the garb of the ancients—in hexameter and pentameter verses. The following stanzas are at least equal to Southey's hexameters, and the first was made in a dream

in 1841, and written down immediately on waking: Throw thyself on thy God, nor mock him with feeble denial;

Sure of his love, and oh! sure of his mercy at last,

Bitter and deep though the draught, yet shun not the cup of thy trial,

But in its healing effect, smile at its bitterness past.

Pray for that holier cup while sweet with bitter lies blending,

Tears in the cheerful eye, smiles on the sorrowing cheek,

Death expiring in life, when the long-drawn struggle is ending;

Triumph and joy to the strong, strength to the weary and weak.

The abstruse studies and triumphs of Sir John Herschel—his work on the Differential Calculus, his Catalogues of Stars and Nebulae, and his Treatises on Sound and Light are well known; but perhaps the most striking instance of his pure devotion to science was his expedition to the Cape of Good Hope, and his sojourn there for four years, solely at his own expense, with the view of examining under the most favourable circumstances the southern hemisphere. This completed a telescopic survey of the whole surface of the visible heavens, commenced by Sir William Herschel above seventy years ago, assisted by his sister Caroline and his brother Alexander, and continued by him almost down to the close of a very long life.” Sir William died in 1822, aged eighty-four. In 1825 it was resumed by his son, Sir John, who published the results in 1847. On his return from the Cape, the successful astronomer was honoured with a baronetcy, the university of Oxford conferred upon him the degree of D.C.L., and the Astronomical Society—of which he was president—voted him a testimonial for his work on

** Herschel, a musician residing at Bath, though a native of Hanover, which he had left in early youth, devoted his leisure to the construction and improvement of reflecting telescopes, with which he continued ardently to survey the heavens. His zeal and assiduity had already drawn the notice of astronomers, when he announced to Dr Maskelyne, that, on the night of the 13th of March 1781, he observed a shifting star, which, from its smallness, he judged to be a comet, though it was distinguished neither by a nebulosity nor a tail. The motion of the star, however, was so slow as to require distant observations to ascertain its path. The president Saron, an expert and obliging calculator, was the first who conceived it to be a planet, having inferred, from the few observations communicated to him, that it described a circle with a radius of about twelve times the mean distance of the earth from the sun. Lexell removed all doubt, and before the close of the year, he computed the elements of the new planet with considerable accuracy, making the great axis of its orbit nineteen times greater than that of the earth, and the period of its revolution eighty-four years. Herschel proposed, out of grati. tude to his royal patron [George III.], to call the planet he had found by the barbarous appellation of Georgium Sidus; but the classical name of Uranus, which Bode afterwards applied, is almost universally adopted. Animated by this happy omen, he prosecuted his astronomical observations with unwearied zeal and ardour, and continued, during the remainder of a long life, to enrich science with a succession of splendid discoveries.”—Sir John Leslie. Herschel's discoveries were chiefly made by means of his forty-feet reflector, to construct which funds were advanced by the king. This instrument is still preserved at Slough by the filial care of Sir John Herschel. An Irish nobleman, the Earl of Rosse, after many years labour to improve the telescope, completed in 1844, and erected at Parsonstown, a telescope of six feet aperture and fifty-three or fifty-four feet of focal length. The result of Lord Rosse's observations with his six-feet speculum has been

to resolve many nebulae into stars.

the Southern Hemisphere. In 1850 he was appointed Master of the Mint, but he was obliged to resign the office from ill health. Besides the works to which we have referred, Sir John Herschel has published

Outlines of Astronomy, 1849, of which a fifth edition, corrected to the existing state of astronomical science, was published in 1858; and he edited A Manual of Scientific Inquiry, 1849, prepared by authority of the Admiralty for the use of the navy. Sir John Herschel was born at Slough, near Windsor, in 1790, and studied at St John's College, Cambridge, where he was senior wrangler in 1813.

[Tendency and Effect of Philosophical Studies.]

Nothing can be more unfounded than the objection which has been taken, in limine, by persons, well meaning perhaps, certainly narrow minded, against the study of natural philosophy—that it fosters in its cultivators an undue and overweening self-conceit, leads them to doubt of the immortality of the soul, and to scoff at revealed religion. Its natural effect, we may confidently assert, on every well-constituted mind, is, and must be, the direct contrary. No doubt, the testimony of natural reason, on whatever exercised, must of necessity stop short of those truths which it is the object of revelation to make known; but while it places the existence and principal attributes of a Deity on such grounds as to render doubt absurd and atheism ridiculous, it unquestionably opposes no natural or necessary obstacle to further progress: on the contrary, by cherishing as a vital principle an unbounded spirit *.inquiry and ardency of expectation, it unfetters the *ind from prejudices of every kind, and leaves it open * free to every impression of a higher nature which *...* susceptible of receiving, guarding only against £ and self-deception by a habit of strict £ but encouraging, rather than suppressing, t : "g that can offer a prospect or a hope beyond £ent obscure and unsatisfactory state. The

[ocr errors]

character of the true philosopher is to hope all things not unreasonable. He who has seen obscurities which appeared impenetrable in physical and mathematical science suddenly dispelled, and the most barren and unpromising fields of inquiry converted, as if by inspiration, into rich and inexhaustible springs of knowledge and power, on a simple change of our point of view, or by merely bringing them to bear on some principle which it never occurred before to try, will surely be the very last to acquiesce in any dispiriting prospects of either the present or the future destinies of mankind; while, on the other hand, the boundless views of intellectual and moral, as well as material relations which open on him on all hands in the course of these

| pursuits, the knowledge of the trivial place he occupies

in the scale of creation, and the sense continually pressed upon him of his own weakness and incapacity to suspend or modify the slightest movement of the vast machinery he sees in action around him, must effectually convince him that humility of pretension, no less than confidence of hope, is what best becomes his character. * * The question “cut bono’ to what practical end and advantage do your researches tend? is one which the speculative philosopher who loves knowledge for its own sake, and enjoys, as a rational being should enjoy, the mere contemplation of harmonious and mutually dependent truths, can seldom hear without a sense of humiliation. He feels that there is a lofty and disinterested pleasure in his speculations which ought to exempt them from such questioning; communicating as they do to his own mind the purest happiness (after the exercise of the benevolent and moral feelings) of which human nature is susceptible, and tending to the injury of no one, he might surely allege this as a sufficient and direct reply to those who, having themselves little capacity, and less relish for intellectual pursuits, are constantly repeating upon him this inquiry.

MRS SOMER WILLE,

Similar testimony to the intrinsic worth of scientific pursuits has been borne by MRs MARY SoMERVILLE, regarded as ‘the most profoundly scientific lady of the age.’

‘Science, she says, “regarded as the pursuit of truth, which can only be attained by patient and unprejudiced investigation, wherein nothing is too great to be attempted, nothing so minute as to be justly disregarded, must ever afford occupation of consummate interest and subject of elevated meditation. The contemplation of the works of creation elevates the mind to the admiration of whatever is great and noble, accomplishing the object of all study, which, in the elegant language of Sir J. Mackintosh, is “to inspire the love of truth, of wisdom, of beauty, especially of goodness, the highest beauty,” and of that supreme and eternal Mind which contains all truth and wisdom, all beauty and goodness. By the love or delightful contemplation of these transcendent aims, for their own sake only, the mind of man is raised from low and perishable objects, and prepared for those high destinies which are appointed for all those who are capable of them.”

In 1832, Mrs Somerville published the Mechanism of the Heavens, a work originally undertaken at the instance of Lord Brougham, for publication by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge; but which proved too voluminous for its first destination. The authoress had previously written a treatise on the magnetising influence of the violet rays of the solar spectrum, and both works are remarkable for their clear and lucid exposition, and for the absence of all pretension. In 1834, Mrs Somerville issued a more popular scientific work, On the Connection of the Physical Sciences. In a dedication to the Queen, she says: ‘If I have succeeded in my endeavour to make the laws by which the material world is governed more familiar to my countrywomen, I shall have the gratification of thinking that the gracious permission to dedicate my book to your Majesty has not been misplaced.’ This object was more than attained, for it was remarked that “there were few individuals even of that gender which plumes itself upon the exclusive possession of exact science, who might not learn much that is both novel and curious in the recent progress of physics from Mrs Somerville's little volume. In 1848, Mrs Somerville published Physical Geography, two volumes—a history of the earth in its whole material organisation, and of animal and vegetable life. This lady is a native of Scotland, born about the year 1796. She was first married to an officer of the Royal Navy, who, it is said, took great pleasure in assisting her in her mathematical studies. Her present husband is a Scottish minister.

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

In the progress of astronomical discovery, the astronomer-royal, MR GEORGE BIDDELL AIRY (born at Alnwick in 1801), has done valuable service by his lectures on experimental philosophy, and his published Observations. He is author of the treatise on Gravitation in the Penny Cyclopaedia, and of various communications in scientific journals. MR JoHN RUssELL HIND, Foreign Secretary of the Royal Astronomical Society, and superintendent of the Nautical Almanac, has discovered ten small planets, for which the Astronomical Society awarded him their gold medal, and a pension of £200 a year has been granted to him by royal warrant. Any new discovery or observation is chronicled by Mr Hind in the Times newspaper, and his brief notes are always welcome. The discoverer of the planet Neptune, MR JoHN CouCH ADAMs, mathematical tutor in St John's College, Cambridge, is an instance of persevering original genius. He was intended by his father, a farmer, to follow the paternal occupation, but was constantly absorbed in mathematical studies. He entered St John's College, became senior wrangler, and in 1844 made the discovery whence he derives his chief fame. Certain irregularities in the planet Uranus being unaccounted for, Mr Adams conceived that they might be occasioned by an undiscovered planet beyond it. He made experiments for this purpose; and at the same time a French astronomer, M. Le Verrier, had arrived at the same result, assigning the place of the disturbing planet to within one degree of that given by Mr Adams. The honour was thus divided, but both were independent discoverers. A History of Physical Astronomy, by RoPERT GRANT, is a work of great research and completeness, bringing the history of astronomical progress down to 1852. In conjunction with Admiral Smyth, Mr Grant has also translated Arago's Popular Astronomy, and he was conjoined with the Rev. B. Powell in translating Arago's Eminent Men, 1857. Mr Grant is in a great measure a self-educated man of science, a native of Grantown, in Invernessshire. MR CHARLEs BABBAGE (born in 1790) is popularly celebrated for his calculating-machine. He

is also well known for his Economy of Manufactures and Machinery, 1833—a volume that has been translated into most foreign languages. Mr Babbage's most original work is one entitled A Ninth Bridgewater Treatise, a most ingenious attempt to bring mathematics into the range of sciences which afford proof of Divine design in the constitution of the world. PROFESSOR J. P. NICHOL, Glasgow, has done much to popularise astronomy by various works at once ingenious and eloquent—as Views of the Architecture of the Heavens, 1837; Contemplations on the Solar System, 1844; Thoughts on the System of the World, 1848; The Planet # tune, an Exposition and History, 1848; The Stellar Universe, 1848; The Planetary System, 1850. The REv. BADEN Powell, Savilian Professor of Geometry, Oxford, has written a History of Natural Philosophy, 1842; a series of three Essays on the Spirit of the Inductive Philosophy, the Unity of Worlds, and the Philosophy of Creation, 1855; and a work entitled The Order of Nature, 1859. In some of these treatises, he discusses matters on the borderland between religion and science in a more liberal spirit than many of his contemporaries.

REV. DR WILLIAM W H E WELL,

The Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, was born at Lancaster in 1795. His history affords another example of talent and perseverance overcoming difficulties. His father, a carpenter, intended bringing up his son to his own trade; but the master of the Free Grammar School at Lancaster had been struck with the boy's aptitude for mathematical studies, and he succeeded in getting him entered of Trinity College, where in due time he took his degree, and afterwards became a Fellow and tutor. For four years, from 1828 till 1832, he was Professor of Mineralogy; from 1838 to 1855, he was Professor of Moral Theology or Casuistry; and from 1841 to the present time, he has been Master of Trinity College. These accumulated university honours sufficiently indicate the high estimation in which Mr Whewell's talents were held. In the Cambridge Philosophical Society, the Royal Society, and British Association for the Advancement of Science he has been no less distinguished, while his scientific works have given him a European fame. The most important of these are—Astronomy and General Physics considered with Reference to Natural Theology, 1833; History of the Inductive Sciences from the Earliest to the Present Times, three volumes, 1837; The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, two volumes, 1840; The Elements of Morality, including Polity, two volumes, 1855. The second part of The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences has recently (1859) been republished, with large additions, under the title of Novum Organum Renovatum. Professor, James Forbes, in the dissertation contributed to the new edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, says of Dr Whewell: “One attempt—a bold and successful one—has been made, in our own day, to unite the history of science and the logic of inductive discovery-I mean the History and Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences. An English philosopher of wonderful versatility, industry, and power has erected a permanent monument to his reputation, in a voluminous work bearing the preceding title. Sir John Herschel has borne testimony no less favourable to the attainments of the Master of Trinity, in an essay in the Quarterly Review, 1840, and since republished in his volume

of essays. y 743

[ocr errors]

In intellectual activity, power, and influence, few men of the present generation have exceeded the learned archbishop of Dublin, DR RICHARD WHATELY. This eminent prelate is a native of London, born in 1787, fourth son of the Rev. Dr Whately of Nonsuch Park, Surrey. He was educated at Oriel College, Oxford, where he graduated in 1808, took a second class in classics and mathematics, and gained the university prize for an English essay. Having taken his M.A. degree in 1812, Whately entered the church, was Bampton lecturer in Oxford in 1822,” and appointed the same year to the rectory of Halesworth, Suffolk. In 1825 he received the degree of D.D., and was chosen Principal of St Alban's Hall, Oxford; in 1830, he was appointed Professor of Political Economy, Oxford; and in 1831 he was consecrated Archbishop of Dublin and Bishop of Glendalagh, to which has since been added the bishopric of Kildare. The literary career of Archbishop Whately seems to have commenced in 1821, when he was in his thirtyfourth year. Previous to this, however, he was conspicuous in the university for his opposition to the High Church views of Dr Pusey and Dr Newman. In 1821 he published The Christian's Duty with respect to the Established Government and the Laws, Considered in three Sermons; and the same year he issued anonymously his tract, Historic Doubts Relative to Napoleon Bonaparte—a grave logical satire on scepticism. The subject of his Bampton lectures was The Use and Abuse of Party Feeling in Religion, and he treated it with distinguished ability and liberality. His next two works were The Elements of Logic, 1826, and The Elements of Rhetoric, 1828. The former treatise gave a new life to the study of logic, as was admitted by Sir William Hamilton, who combated some of its doctrines, and it has long since taken its place as a standard in the library of mental science. Essays on Some of the Difficulties in the Writings of St Paul, and in other parts of the New Testament, 1828; Thoughts on the Sabbath, 1830; and Errors of Romanism, 1830. On the subject of Sabbath observance, which has since been keenly controverted, Whately agrees with Paley, that the Jewish Sabbath and the Sunday or Lord's Day, are two separate institutions; with the former, the members of the Church of England have nothing to do, but the Lord's Day ought to be observed by them, in obedience to the authority of the church even independent of apostolic example and ancient usage. Introductory Hectures to Political Economy, an Essay on the Omission of Creeds, Liturgies, &c., in the New Testament, and several Sermons, were the product of 1831. Next year the prelate appears to have been chiefly attentive to social and political questions, induced by his elevation to the archiepiscopal chair. He published Evidence before the House of Lords respecting Irish Tithes, Thoughts on Secondary Punishment, Reply to the Address of the Clergy on National Education in Ireland, and an Introduction to Political Economy. Speeches or printed remarks on the question of Jewish disabilities, and the transportation of criminals, and Sermons on Various Subjects, were produced between 1833 and 1836. Some religious treatises, the most important being Lectures on St

*The Rev. John Bampton, canon of Salisbury (1690-1751), left a sum of money-producing about £120 per annum-for founding a series of eight lectures each year on subjects connected with the Christian faith. The lecturer is appointed by the # of colleges in Oxford.

Paul's Epistles, 1849, were subsequently produced; after which appeared a collection of English Synonyms, 1851, and addresses delivered at various institutions in Cork, Manchester, and London, 1852-55. In 1856 the archbishop published an edition of Bacon's Essays, with Annotations—the discursive nature of the essays, no less than their pregnancy of meaning and illustration, affording scope for abundance of moral lessons and arguments. Of these the commentator has perhaps been too profuse, for there are about three hundred and fifty pages of annotation to one hundred of text, and a good many are from the archbishop's previous works. The collection, however, forms a pleasant readable volume. We give one or two of the commentator's anecdotical contributions.

[First Impressions.]

In the days when travelling by post-chaise was common, there were usually certain lines of inns on all the principal roads—a series of good, and a series of inferior ones, each in connection all the way along; so that if you once got into the worst line, you could not easily get out of it to the journey's end. The ‘White Hart’ of one town would drive you—almost literally-to the ‘White Lion’ of the next, and so on all the way; so that of two travellers by post from London to Exeter or York, the one would have had nothing but bad horses, bad dinners, and bad beds, and the other very good. This is analogous to what befalls a traveller in any new country, with respect to the impressions he receives, if he falls into the hands of a party. They consign him, as it were, to those allied with them, and pass him on, from one to another, all in the same connection, each shewing him and telling him just what suits the party, and concealing from him everything else

[A Hint to Anonymous Writers.]

A well-known author once received a letter from a peer with whom he was slightly acquainted, asking him whether he was the author of a certain article in the Edinburgh Review. He replied that he never made communications of that kind, except to intimate friends, selected by himself for the purpose, when he saw fit. His refusal to answer, however, pointed him out—which, as it happened, he did not care for—as the author. But a case inight occur, in which the revelation of the authorship might involve a friend in some serious difficulties. In any such case, he might have answered something in this style: “I have received a letter purporting to be from your lordship, but the matter of it induces me to suspect that it is a forgery by some mischievous trickster. The writer asks whether I am the author of a certain article. It is a sort of question which no one has a right to ask; and I think, therefore, that every one is bound to discourage such inquiries by answering them—whether one is or is not the author—with a rebuke for asking impertinent questions about private matters. I say “private,” because, if an article be libellous or seditious, the law is open, and any one may proceed against the publisher, and compel him either to give up the author, or to bear the penalty. If, again, it contains false statements, these, coming from an anonymous pen, may be simply contradicted. And if the arguments be unsound, the obvious course is to refute them; but who wrote it, is a question of idle or of mischievous curiosity, as it relates to the private concerns of an individual. If I were to ask your lordship, “Do you spend your income? or lay by ? or outrun ? Do you and your lady ever have an altercation ? Was she your first love? or were you attached to some one else before?” If I were to ask such questions, your lordship's answer would probably be, to desire the footman to shew me out. Now, the present inquiry I regard as no less unjustifiable, and relating to private concerns; and, therefore, I think every one bound, when so questioned, always, whether he is the author or not, to meet the inquiry with a rebuke. Hoping that my conjecture is right, of the letter's being a forgery, I remain,’ &c. In any case, however, in which a refusal to answer does not convey any information, the best way, perhaps, of meeting impertinent inquiries, is by saying, ‘Can you keep a secret?’ and when the other answers that he can, you may reply, “Well, so can I.’

In 1859, Dr Whately continued this light labour of annotation, selecting for his second subject, Paley's Moral Philosophy. This afforded a much less varied field for remark and illustration than Bacon's Essays, but it was one as congenial to the taste and studies of the commentator. The low ground or fallacy upon which Paley built his ethical system—namely, that self-interest is the rule of virtue—has been often attacked, and is again assailed by Dr Whately. “Men, says the commentator, “never do, and apparently never did, account any conduct virtuous which they believe to have proceeded entirely from calculations of selfinterest, even though the external act itself be such as they conceive would have been done by a virtuous man.’ Paley's fault as a moralist, as Dr Whately remarks, is chiefly one of omission, and it is probable that this argument of self-interest appears much stronger to the reader than it did to the author, who aimed only at popular leading definitions. Even in this case, he includes the future world in his view of self-interest. The following is Dr Whately's note on a subject concerning which Paley talked

loosely and suffered accordingly:

[Subscription to Articles of Religion.]

It is undoubtedly a great evil, on many accounts, to have articles and other formularies unnecessarily rigid and exclusive. But something of the nature of a test, framed by the rulers of a church, is indispensable; and the pretensions sometimes put forth of dispensing with everything of the kind are altogether delusive. To have (as some have wildly proposed) no test or terms of communion at all, would be to renounce entirely the character of a Christian church; since, of such a body, it is plain that a Jew, a polytheist, or an atheist might, quite as consistently as a Christian, be a member, or even a governor. And to have (as some have as wildly proposed) no test but the very words of Scripture, would be scarcely less extravagant, since there is no one professing Christianity who does not maintain that his sentiments are in accordance with the true meaning of Scripture, however absurd or pernicious those sentiments may really be; for it is notorious that Scripture itself is at least as liable as human formularies (and, indeed, more so) to have forced interpretations put on its language.

Accordingly, there is no Christian community which does not, in some way or other, apply some other test besides the very words of Scripture. Some churches, indeed, do not reduce any such tests to writing, or express it in any fixed, form, so as to enable every one to know beforehand precisely how much he will be required to bind himself to. But, nevertheless, those churches do apply a test, and very often a much more stringent, elaborate, and minute test than our Liturgy and Articles. In such communities, the candidatepastor of a congregation is not, to be sure, called on to subscribe in writing a definite Confession of Faith, drawn up by learned and pious persons after mature deliberation, and publicly set forth by common authority;

but he is called upon to converse with the leading members of the congregation, and satisfy them as to the soundness of his views; not, of course, by merely repeating texts of Scripture—which a man of any views might do, and do honestly—but by explaining the sense in which he understands the Scriptures. Thus, instead of subscribing the Thirty-nine Articles, he subscribes the sentiments of the leading members, for the time being, of that particular congregation over which he is to be placed as teacher.

And thus it is that tests of some kind or other, written or unwritten—that is, transmitted by oral tradition—fixed for the whole body, or variable according to the discretion of particular governors, are, and must be, used in every Christian Church. Now the legitimate object of such formularies is equally defeated by making them standards for the interpretation of Scripture, or by making what we take to be the sense of Scripture the standard for interpreting them.

For the object of the church in imposing these formularies is to ascertain whether the result of our inquiries into the sense of Scripture has been the same as hers; and this object is equally defeated by our forcing the church's words to square with our notion of the sense of Scripture, or by forcing our notion of the sense of Scripture into accordance with the declarations of the church.

[Science and Scripture.]

Some persons have imagined that we are bound to take our notions of astronomy, and of all other physical sciences, from the Bible. And accordingly, when astronomers discovered and proved that the earth turns round on its axis, and that the sun does not move round the earth, some cried out against this as profane, because Scripture speaks of the sun's rising and setting. And this probably led some astronomers to reject the Bible, because they were taught that if they received that as a divine revelation, they must disbelieve truths which they had demonstrated. So, also, some have thought themselves bound to believe, if they receive Scripture at all, that the earth, and all the plants and animals that ever existed on it, must have been created within six days, of exactly the same length as our present days. And this, even before the sun, by which we measure our days, is recorded to have been created. Hence the discoveries made by geologists, which seem to prove that the earth and various races of animals must have existed a very long time before man existed, have been represented as completely inconsistent with any belief in Scripture. We may not stop to discuss the various objections— some of them more or less plausible, and others very weak—that have been brought—on grounds of science, or supposed science—against the Mosaic accounts of the creation, of the state of the early world, and of the flood, and to bring forward the several answers that have been given to those objections. But it is important to lay down the PRINCIPLE on which either the Bible or any other writing or speech ought to be studied and understood—namely, with a reference to the object proposed by the writer or speaker. For example, if we bid any one proceed in a straight line from one place to another, and to take care to arrive before the sun goes down, he will rightly and fully understand us, in reference to the practical object which alone we had in view. Now, we know that there cannot really be a straight line on the surface of the earth; and that the sun does not really go down, only one portion of the earth is turned away from it. But whether the other party knows all this or not, matters nothing to our present object, which was not to teach him mathematics or astronomy, but to make him conform to our directions, which are equally intelligible to the learned and the unlearned. Now, the object of the Scripture revelatio, is to 745

« PoprzedniaDalej »