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The Mind: its Capabilities, and Cultivation.
I delivered the substance of the following in the form of a lecture on Wednesday, March 9th, 1859, at Calver, the Rev. Urban Smith, M.A., Trinity College, Cambridge, in the chair. On that occasion I omitted some concluding portions of the lecture, fearing that the subject was not at all interesting; but from the remarks of some highly respectable and literary persons, I found that my fears were groundless. Being requested to put it into a permanent form, that those who heard it, and others who did not, might have an opportunity of perusing it quietly at their own homes, I have ventured on its publication, with a sincere desire that many may be stimulated to attend promptly to the cultivation of their minds. It has been my study to make the subject as inviting and popular as I possibly could. In order to this, illustrations may have been somewhat redundant. hope that the language employed will be found clear and intelligible to the general reader, and if but one individual be benefited by its perusal, I shall feel myself amply repaid.
An able writer on the subject of "Mental and Moral Science," has observed that "the mind of man must be allowed to be the noblest production of Almighty power;
it deserves, therefore, our closest study." An American writer remarks that "the human mind is the brightest display of the power and skill of the Infinite Mind with which we are acquainted. It is created and placed in this world to be educated for a higher state of existence. Here its faculties begin to unfold, and those mighty energies which are to bear it forward to unending ages, begin to discover themselves." Yes-the mind, with its all but infinite capabilities, like the concealed beauties of the flower in the bud, lies enfolded in the embryo man; but, as time rolls on, it becomes expanded, and bursts forth from its infant chrysalis, and operates upon external objects, bringing about results which are truly astonishing. As to the essence of mind we are, and perhaps ever will be, in ignorance. As to its nature-it is that immaterial, immortal, and "mysterious principle within us, which constitutes the permanent subject of various phenomena, or properties, differing essentially from those which matter exhibits." But, while we know much more of matter from the uniform effects or results produced by certain combinations, yet, concerning the essence of both matter and mind we are, and must remain, shut up in profound ignorance. It is very humbling to the pride and vanity of the human heart, to feel incapable of coming to a direct knowledge of the essence of matter.
We become acquainted with the properties of matter through the medium of the external senses; and of the operations, feelings, and affections or emotions of the
mind by our consciousness. The properties of mind are altogether opposed to and different from matter. Matter is divisible. Mind is indivisible. Matter has figure or extension, colour, &c. Mind has not figure, colour, extension. We arrive at the knowledge of the various properties, feelings, and emotions of the mind by observation. We are either directly conscious of them ourselves, or we have indirectly observed them in others.
The mind, then, is an indivisible essence, the offspring of the uncreated, self-existent, and infinite Being upon which He has impressed His own immateriality and immortality; intimately and mysteriously associated with matter in its sphere of conscious observation and operation. That principle which, after the tenement of clay which it now inhabits, shall have returned to commingle with its native element in the tomb, shall bloom in eternal youth and vigour. It is that which at once holds communion with God, angels, and men. It does not come within the limits and design of a popular lecture to descant upon the various phenomena of mind, internally and externally considered, yet it may not be considered out of place to give some general view of the different orders and classes of the external and internal affections of the mind as they have been arranged by the celebrated Dr. Brown. I shall then proceed to make some remarks on the different inlets to the mind, and
Before giving the
some of those emotions and feelings. arrangement of the mental phenomena, it must be premised that much that is infinitely mysterious to us exists
in the doctrine of the connexion between matter and mind. There is not, however, anything more peculiarly mysterious in the influence which mind has upon matter, or matter upon mind, than there is in the influence which matter exerts upon matter. How wonderful it is that, in the case of odoriferous plants, emitting their infinitesimal particles, coming in contact with the olfactory nerves, the effect of which is a change in the state of that organ, which is necessary in this instance to the sensation of smell. The why and wherefore can only be given by the Infinite. For reasons known only to himself, God has placed this boundary to man. In the meanest production of the Deity,-if I may be allowed the expression,-there is a height, a depth which no finite capacity can reach. And when the boasting materialist fancies that he has fully acquainted himself with the reasons for the various phenomena of the universe, he has got no further than to perceive that similar states similarly acted upon, the result is similar effects; or that the same body, in a similar state, produces the same or similar effects upon bodies in a similar state. But why, and for what reason, he knows not. Men are chafed and filled with chagrin and hatred of God, and sink into materialism as a last resort, for no other reason than they cannot grasp the Infinite. I confess that I cannot muster charity enough to believe that they are really learned or great men. The following
is the late Dr. Brown's tabulated view of the mental phenomena :