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Lord Bacon himself, De Augmentis. Treating of the community and unity of sciences, he records the following passage:
“In philosophy, the contemplations of man do either penetrate unto God, or are circumferred to nature, or are reflected or reverted upon himself. Out of which several inquiries there do arise three knowledges : divine philosophy, natural philosophy and human philosophy, or humanity. For all things are marked and stamped with this triple character of the power of God, the difference of nature, and the use of man. But because the distributions and partitions of knowledge are not like several lines that meet in one angle, and so touch but in a point; but are like branches of a tree, that meet in a stem, which hath a dimension and quantity of entireness and continuance, before it come to discontinue and break itself into arms and boughs; therefore it is good, before we enter into the former distribution, to erect and constitute one universal science by the name of Philosophia prima, primitive or summary philosophy, as the main and common way, before we come where the ways part and divide themselves."
Here now, we exclaim, is the very thing which the human mind desiderates-the generalization of all knowledge into one universal science. But upon proceeding to ascertain the import of this felicitous passage, we are at first egregiously disappointed, then surprised, and last of all irrepressibly amused, to discover that the great father of English philosophy intended nothing more nor less by this grave nomenclature of Philosophia prima, than the many analogies which the reason descries or the fancy invents, between the several sciences, and which he promotes from the rank of mere similitudes to the dignity of universal truths,—the same footsteps of Nature treading or printing upon several subjects or matters." An infecious disease,” for example, “is not so likely to be communicated when at its height, as in its early progress; and the example of very abandoned men injures public morality less than the example of men in whom vice has not yet extinguished all good qualities.”
" Behold the connexion which subsists between medicine and morals !
The pyramid rising from a broad base to a vertex, is one of the simplest forms of matter; so the organizations of society, says a great English Statesman, are designed to terminate in the apex of
Behold the nexus between geometry and government! The life of man passes through infancy, manhood, and decrepitude. Therefore, said the politicians on whom Edmund Burke was commenting, all states are, and must be, subject to the same vicissitudes. How intimate the relations between physiology and politics ! A quaint old preacher discoursing from the words, Thou Worm Jacob, among other portentous discoveries, deduces the doctrine of a limited atonement, it being true, he says, that a worm always bores a hole of the
* Vol. i. p. 193.
exact dimensions of his own body, neither more nor less. Behold the identity between nature and revelation.
These are indeed "sermons from stones and trees,” but they are, we apprehend, good illustrations of what Lord Bacon, by one of the most astonishing and incomprehensible freaks and follies of the wise, intended by his Philosophia Prima ; of which we have only to say, that if it be well founded and worthy of its name, the first and only principle in man which needs to be educated, is his inagination; the only true induction is the power of detecting analogies between things which appear to have nothing in common; metaphors are the only logic; wit is the true philosophy; the author of Hudibras, beyond all account, better deserves the name of philosopher than his immortal namesake, the Bishop of Durham; and the only production of the nineteenth century which can claim anything like universal science, is the prodigious punning of Mr. Thomas Hood.
Discarding the guidance of the fancy, we revert to our original inquiry—What is it which gives unity to all sciences and pursuits?
The necessities of our being, and the wise appointments of Providence subjecting us to a great variety of occupations, we expect to discern their unity in some ultimate object which they were designed to promote. But are we capable of discerning an ultimate purpose, towards which all the arrangements of life are tending ? "The inquiry is useless,” say some. “It is presumptuous," say others. “It is positively hurtful,” say others; "for it interferes with the free investigations of nature.” The ancient Epicureans discarded from their philosophy, most consistently, the whole doctrine of final causes; but a Christian scholar, we hold, cannot prosecute any science or any pursuit aright, unless he prosecute it to an ultimate use and end. The geologist, carefully observing the phenomena of natural agencies, finds that their action results in the formation of strata of rock and coal, and the deposition of soils. When his theory is authenticated, is it not a pertinent question for him to propose, -And for what was the earth made at all? The eye of Harvey was arrested by the beautiful play of the valves of the veins; and the inquiry which spontaneously arose to his mind was, “what use were they designed to subserve." The conviction that now prevails among physiologists, that all the arrangements of the animal frame were formed for some purpose, is so strong, that it is a guide in all discoveries and speculations. The anatomist, when dissecting the eye, observing the combination of lenses and nerves which compose the organ itself—the socket in which it moves—the mucus which makes it easy-the ligature which ties it in--the lid which screens it from harm—the limpid tear which prevents the roughness of friction, cannot doubt that it is an instrument designed to paint within the images of objects without. He will demonstrate to your satisfaction that the external configuration and position, the internal spiral tubes, cells and tympanum of the ear, are all intended to form an organ for catching the vibrations of sound, and transmitting them to the mysterious lodger within. He will show you what a variety of bones, muscles, tendons, hinges, and sockets, enter into that most wonderful machine, the human hand; and in like manner, he investigates and discloses the uses of all the various organs of the human body.
Now the intellectual philosopher begins to observe the beautiful adaptations of the being within to the world without: the skilful, yet simple arrangement of instincts, appetites, affections, which belong to the human mind. At length we are brought to perceive the symmetry and completeness of our physical and mental constitution, and man stands before us the admirable and august master-work of Infinite Skill. But has science now reached its limit? Has it arrived at the ultimate knowledge where it is compelled to stop? It has discovered the uses of bones, and nerves, and instincts, to form a living man.
Can we stop at this point, without asking, FOR WHAT WAS MAN HIMSELF MADE? If there be a part of the human frame, like the vermiform appendix, the use of which has hitherto eluded all inquiry, it is still taken for granted that some use it has, and physiology will not cease from its observations till that use be discovered; and shall we, as students, propose no inquiry concerning the ultimate purpose of man himself? The question, “What is the chief end of man ?" does not belong to a Church catechism any more than to a system of physiology, politics, and to every other science and pursuit. It is neither presumptuous nor useless, to pursue this inquiry, for it involves the highest of all sciences; it is the last link in the chain of sciences, or the staple from which they all hang in mutual dependence. This is the true philosophia prima—the primitive and summary knowledge, in which all the partitions and distributions of truth unite; and notwithstanding the theory of Descartes, that the ends of such a being as God, in creating man, must be so high and inscrutable, that it is presumptuous in us to attempt the solution, reason and revelation unite to teach that some knowledge of God's designs is essential to the formation of our own.
Chemistry discerns the affinity between diamond and charcoal, by reducing each to their simple elements; and if we would discover the great object of man's existence, we must first by a process of analysis inquire for the simplest rudiment of his nature. We observe his animal wants, and the whole world busy in supplying them. The herds, and flocks, and insects, in all climes of the earth, from Thibet to Brazil, furnish skins, fleeces and fibres for the materials of his clothing; the water-courses, and steam, that most prodigious of all genii, are busy in spinning the pliant fabric; the finger of God puts all the processes of nature in motion, evoking heat and moisture to ripen his food; the waters of the sea are ploughed by the keels which transport products for his subsistence; cabinets and congresses consult and legislate for the interchange of those commodities which feed and clothe the species : but can we believe, after all, that man was designed to be nothing more than a clothes-horse, or a machine for grinding food? We pass beyond all the animal instincts and appetites, assured that these must be means subservient to an end. Natural affections has man, such as are necessary to social organizations; and political science comes in, at this point, with all its claims, laws, and relations. But we stop not yet; for obvious enough it is, that all social and political associations are means designed for man, and not an end for which man is designed. The higher properties of the human intellect, the play of fancy, memory, reason, next come into view; but in neither do we find the ultimate purpose of man; for the question is not impertinent, Why does man learn, reason, remember? Exalted as is the reason of man, it is itself subordinate to a simpler principle—the moral affections. No analysis can detect in man anything simpler or higher than these. The pleasure which flows from what is right, and good, and true, is an end unto itself. The joy of goodness is the ultimate purpose of life; ultimate, we say, for this brings us to God, the source and end of all things. The circle is the most perfect of all forms; and that which begins with God, to God must return. The highest happiness of man, as found in a moral resemblance to God, is the chief, ultimate end of man's being ; for the communication of such a bliss is the glory of our Maker. " The emanation of his own infinite fulness," says President Edwards, “was the ultimate end of God in creation."
Admit that we could not reach this final cause of our being, uninstructed by revelation. We stand not on the same ground with Epicurus, and his poetical commentator, Lucretius; and why should we be jealous of the light of revelation, and refuse the guide which God has sent from the skies? Why should we seek to circumnavigate the globe of truth, as Satan, according to Milton's conception, sailed round the earth, contriving always to keep in darkness, “cautious of day?” Religion is a science; Christianity is an historical fact in this world of ours; and a Christian scholar, in this portion of time, cannot divest himself of the teachings of revelation, any more than the oak of centuries can rid itself of any of its successive layers. The science which contents itself with observing the external phenomena of nature, is a superficial thing at the best. To educate a man
without any reference to those moral dispositions which are the ultimate purpose of his creation, is like leading him around a magnificent temple, teaching him to measure the area it covers, to tell the chemistry of its materials, to discover the natural history of its stones, to learn the names, and times, and succession of its architects, to admire the grandeur of its facade, the proportion and Phidian skill of its pillars; but never once to inform him of the high uses to which it is consecrated, never to introduce him within its walls, to breathe the sweet odors of incense, to bend in worship at its altars, to behold the Shekinah of its sanctuary, or join in the hallelujahs which resound through its glorious arches.
Joy, fulness of joy, says Mr. Taylor, must be the end of that creation which has goodness for its author. We learn to look upon pleasure with suspicion; or frown upon it as an enemy, only because the world (and our hearts with it) have gone astray from the road of genuine felicity. Yet may we read beneath this very perversion, the native tendency, or original purpose of our conformation. It is not that man was not made for pleasure, but he was made for another sort than he now actually chooses. The guilty or frivolous pleasures of mankind are only an ill sense put upon the language of nature. Let the joy we seek be of celestial quality, and we have discovered the true and ultimate purpose of existence; and the promotion of the highest happiness of man is the grand object which alone gives unity and end to all the various avocations of men.*
The mundus intellectualis, then, which we would frame for ourselves, may be represented, (to use a diagram,) by a series of concentric circles, forming one solid sphere. The outer periphery represents the providential government of God. A world there must be, as the theatre of action, before that action begins. Men must exist before they act: and the world must have its laws, and man a nature of his own. But the natural was designed to be auxiliary to the moral; and this forms the second or inner circle. But the moral has a specific form of administration, which is the mediatorial; and this is the innermost circle of all, with the CROSS OF CHRIST for the common centre of the whole. The natural for the moral; the moral for the mediatorial. Christianity is no episode in the long drama of human life; but programme, progress, catastrophe. Pregnant words are those of the “philosophic apostle" to the Gentiles, " all things were made by Christ, and for Christ." And when he determined to know nothing but Christ crucified, be assured he meant something more than faith in a bare religious proposition; it was the discovery of an acute and comprehensive mind,