Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

dilemma he pleases, he cannot escape a miracle. If such a DIVINE TEACHER as JESUS CHRIST really existed, the fact of the existence of such an original character, was a great miracle; but if he never existed, then the existence of his character, as a mere ideal notion, is a GREATER MIRACLE STILL.

LECTURE XII.

DEVELOPEMENT OF MAN'S FRIST RELIGIOUS IDEAS-GOD.

THERE IS A SPIRIT IN MAN: AND THE INSPIRATION OF THE ALMIGHTY GIVETH THEM UNDERSTANDING. -Job 23: 8.

We have thus far dwelt upon the manner, in which the idea of the Messiah is developed in the Bible, and in process of time, revealed to the world. The whole process, as well as the perfectly original character he exhibited, we may regard as pre-eminently miraculous.

Our object in this lecture, is to show, that the human mind reveals the same God, and in a similar manner to that revealed by Jesus Christ, and by the Holy Scriptures.

The inspiration spoken of in the text, is common to all men. He who is possessed of a human spirit, receives understanding through the inspiration of the Almighty. Were it not for this, man would have no more intelligence than the brute.

The human being is born into the world more ignorant, and more helpless, than any other animal; and nature seems, in some sense, to have made less provision for his wants; but he may become the wisest and strongest, and abound the most in comfort. True, he cannot make a

proper use of one of his senses ; his limbs are powerless; and he is a poor garmentless and houseless thing. But eventually he calls art to his aid and summons the elements for the assistance of his senses, and of his various powers. The ear-trumpet assists his hearing; the microscope and telescope his sight; the iron-shaft of the steam engine, becomes his arm; animals and locomotives enable him to shift his position ; and the swift lightnings herald his voice

• Of all that live and move and breathe,

Man only rises o'er his birth,
He looks around, above, beneath,

At once the heir of heaven and earth.
Force, cunning, speed, which nature gave,

The various tribes throughout her plan,
Life to enjoy-from death to save-

These are the lowest powers of man.
From strength to strength he travels on,

He leaves the lingering brute behind :
And when a few short years are gone,

He soars a disembodied mind;
Beyond the

grave

his course sublime, Destined through nobler paths to run, In his career the end of time,

Is but eternity begun."

It is knowledge that guides the soul through this vast pilgrimage; and now let us look into the human soul for the motives that stimulate it to its high action. What is the first sign of humanity exhibited by a human being ? Is it not the voice of weeping? This seems to say, “I am not content, but require change.” And what is the next sign of humanity? Is it not a smile? This seems

to say,

my nature requires to be pleased—I love happiness.” Now, throughout life, distress and happiness, of which, weeping and smiling, are the mere signs, are his great prompters to a life of virtuous activity. These two motives, acting upon the mind of the child, are ever propelling him to seek change, in order to avoid distress, and to secure happiness. Activity is the condition of change, and the child is active, because he finds his greatest pleasure in activity, and for some time, we may suppose him quite satisfied with the mere act that pleases, without attempting to reason on the subject at all. He very soon, however, appears to become a creature of reason. He attempts to grasp the blaze of a lamp, and experiences pain, and it is doubtful if he should ever wish to repeat the act; but he shakes his rattle, or blows his whistle, and the act gives him pleasure, and hence it becomes a favorite amusement. At first, he may not know, that the noise, accompanying the blowing of the whistle, was not merely accidental, but he soon finds that the same result invariably follows the same act of his will, and he begins to say, in the pride of his humanity, "I have made a noise."

This is one of the greatest ideas that ever characterizes the history of a human being. If we consider it closely, we shall find, that it affords a clue to the unravelling of a principle, that lies at the foundation of all mental science and natural theology. “I have made a noise.” Noise is the effect and I am the cause. Shortly, the child sees, that there are others about him, who can make noises, as well as himself, and they who are greater than he, can make much greater noises. They can discharge cannon, build houses, build ships, and do a thousand other things ;

and he ascribes all these acts to the will of the doers, just as he refers his own noise to his own will. He is thus led to the idea of objective agencies and acts. He is not the only being, who can do things, but there are many others, who can do similar and much greater things. The little active and progressive cause in his bosom, however, strives to emulate the causes around him, and will not rest until he can say, I have built a house"-" I have built a ship,” though they may be on a very small scale; and thus prompted by fear and hope, he moves forward in his progressive course.

At length, another important idea arrests his thoughts. He cannot make the noise of the whistle, without the instrumentality of the whistle itself; and hence he is led to conclude, that there must be another cause, similar to his own will, inside the whistle, which so co-operates with him, whenever he attempts to produce a noise, as to secure the desired result. His curiosity is on the alert, and the poor whistle is perhaps broken, in order that the little philosopher may see what helps him to make the noise. After a moment's astonishment, in finding nothing, he exclaims, "Well there was something, although I could not see it.”

In the same manner, he soon comes to believe that there must be some very powerful something, that makes the wind, the rain, the thunder, and all other movements of nature, although he cannot see it.

Such reasoning, brings him to the idea of Invisible Spirit. Still, however, the most natural conclusion, to his mind, is, that each movement of nature has a distinct and separate cause. It is on this account, that primitive and rude nations have had their separate divinities for each

« AnteriorContinuar »