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tion of religious influences, required Christian effort in their behalf, as really as the heathen themselves. Efforts, accordingly, began to be made by this Society; and, from the year 1817 to the present time, ministers have been employed by it for the benefit of the classes which the ordinary parochial ministry does not reach. It may also be of use to mention here, as a kindred fact, that as early as the year 1815, a society of ladies in New-York had engaged the services of a minister for the benefit of similar classes in that city. A report published by this gentleman in 1816 produced a deep sensation in regard to the necessity of such a ministry in large cities. These early operations were, of course, susceptible of improvement; and from various quarters improvements have arisen. But the question of founding is, as we have already said, of little consequence. One good work provokes another; those who begin a good cause are often essentially aided by those who come after them; while those who come after are often as really, though perhaps unconsciously, indebted to those who have gone before. Let every good hint be adopted; and let every benefactor be honored. And let every valuable human agency excite an humble gratitude to that Being who worketh all in all.
DUTY AND REWARDS OF ORIGINAL THINKING.
The Duty and Rewards of Original Thinking. An Address delivered before the Adelphian Society of the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution, December 23, 1841. By GEORGE W. EATON, Professor of Civil and Ecclesiastical History. Hamilton. J. & D. Atwood. 1842.
PROF. EATON has directed our attention, in this address, to a subject of very high importance, a subject, concerning which, if we mistake not, the present age greatly needs to be instructed and persuaded. We are not disposed to reproach
the period in which we live. It has its peculiar characteristics; and if it is liable to the charge of defects, it can also boast of excellences. The diffusion of knowledge and of intelligence among the mass of the people is its prominent excellence. Its defect is, that there is not, at the same time, a corresponding concentration of them, in individuals. We would not have the mass any less enlightened. But we would have the illumination of some, at least, more thorough and efficient. We would not have the cultivation of intellect any less extensive, but more radical. We would have no less of learning, but more of discipline. We have reason to fear that, with the wider diffusion of knowledge, there is much superficiality; that while we have much reading and hearing, we have little thought; that while there is much feeding, there is little digesting; and that the literary characteristic of the age is the accumulation of treasures of facts, which are laid up in the memory, rather than an increase of intellectual discipline; of philosophical power; of true mental strength. We fear that the tendency of the age is rather to nourish up a race of men of lofty pretensions, but of third-rate abilities, than a race distinguished by strong, far-reaching, and highly cultivated powers. Hence we are happy to welcome this effort to stem the tide of mere superficial advancement, and to disseminate correct views as to the true sources and the indispensable condition of real greatness.
The title of the address suggests the author's plan of proceeding. Under the first head,-the duty of original thinking, he shows, first, the expansibility of the intellectual powers; secondly, that the expansion of them demands intense exercise; thirdly, that the highest cultivation of which we are capable is demanded for the performance of the duties required of us; and, fourthly, that every man will be held accountable for the use of his thinking faculties. Under the second, he describes, first, the pleasures of thought; secondly, the personal respect and dignity which it confers; thirdly, the power it gives us over men; and lastly, makes an application of the subject to the audience addressed. In this latter portion, he defines "original thinking," and discusses briefly the use to be made of books and of models. We present the following paragraph, as a specimen of the spirit and style of the discourse; as well as on account of the importance of the views which it embraces:
"The faculties of the intellect can never attain to their full development and power without intense exercise. This is the immutable and eternal law of their progress. There is absolutely no substitute for this. Will you depend upon reading and the varied forms of instruction to which the mind is submitted? These of themselves can no more accomplish the end, than stones and mortar and wood can project the model, and complete the structure of the splendid edifice, of which they constitute the unconscious material; no more than earth and rain and sunshine can unfold the germ and rear the majestic tree, when the subtle principle of vegetable life is extinct or inert. Whatever then may be the outward circumstances in which you are placed, you are shut up to the necessity, if you would discharge the obligations you have incurred to your Maker by the rich endowment of an intellectual nature, of submitting to the only condition on which this nature can be materially enlarged and improved-viz., the intense exercise of its facul ties. In making your intellects what they are capable of becoming, (and your obligations do not cease short of this limit,-obligations are commensurate with capabilities), you must keep in mind, young gentlemen, you are to do the principal work yourselves. Whatever may be your advantages and facilities for improvement, you never can transfer this work to others.
"We often hear of self-made men. The limited appropriation of this designation is fallacious. There are no men, but those who have made themselves. Some indeed possess higher advantages and ampler facilities in the performance of this personal work than others; and it is a great favor and privilege they have; but so far from relieving them from the duty and necessity of personal, individual effort, the duty is enhanced and the necessity enforced; for, on the one hand, by the right use of these helps, they may accomplish much more towards the production of the great result after which they should ever be reaching; and, on the other hand, they are in danger of delusively trusting to these facilities to accomplish for them what they have no power to do, and so they become fatal hindrances, instead of useful subsidiaries. I would lay down here the broad proposition, and I beg you to mark it, that, as our means for intellectual improvement are multiplied, there is a demand for increased energy in our mental exercises. Is it not obvious, that in proportion to the amount of material, must be the activity of the processes by which it is worked up and incorporated into the mental structure? In the physiology of the body, it would be a singularly absurd notion, that when plenty of suitable food is supplied, the necessity of action in the digestive and assimilative organs is diminished. The lowest order of common sense would perceive that the greater the supply of nutritious food, the more energetic and rapid must be the appropriating and assimilating processes, if there is to be any healthful expansion and growth. Equally absurd is the notion, that when we are surrounded with abundance of aliment for the immortal mind, and it is daily prepared in the most convenient forms for our reception, there is a less imperious call for those internal processes of thought, by which alone this aliment is to be digested and made a part of our intellectual system. Often has the body wasted away and died in the midst of plenty, from the inaction of the digestive powers. Like phenomena are not unfrequent in the realm of mind. Remember, then, young gentlemen, if you would make the most of the intellect which God has given you for the noblest purposes, if you would have it grow, and enlarge,
and gather power, and move on towards that high and inconceivably glorious perfection of which it is capable, you must severely task its faculties. The energies at the seat of its life must be kept in ceaseless action. Without a figure, you must think, intensely think. I say intensely; because feeble thought is wholly inadequate to the production of the desired result. A wonderful result is to be achieved, and a corresponding effort is demanded. A power is to be brought out and put in action, which may touch springs that shall send vibrations through the boundless regions of humanity.”—pp. 6, 7.
The truth and importance of these views cannot be called in question. We wish they could be brought to the notice of every student in our country, and of every professional man, who exerts, or expects to exert, an influence over the minds of his fellow-men. He who sets out under the authority of these principles, and, for a few years, carries them into rigid practice, will stand on an eminence among his brethren, and be a benefactor of his generation.
But, we are aware, there are many and strong temptations to a neglect of thought. The present age offers, perhaps, peculiar obstacles to it. Taking our leave of the address, we propose, in the remainder of this article, to offer some remarks of our own on these obstacles.
One of the greatest obstacles to original thought is natural indolence. Severe thought demands effort. The mind, especially in him who is unaccustomed to the exercise, cannot, without exertion, abstract itself from surrounding objects, and from themes importunately calling for attention, and fix itself intensely upon any topic, at will; holding it with giant grasp; discerning its essential nature, its relations, its bearings; separating it, according to its several divisions, and contemplating them, one by one; seizing this, rejecting that; excepting one view, modifying another, defining a third; and proceeding thus, till the intricate is made clear; the dark, illuminated; the indistinct, expressed in lucid terms; and the complete mastery is acquired. Such an effort requires exertion, repeated, persevering exertion. It both increases and demands discipline. And, if the mind of any one is wholly undisciplined, he is liable to find the effort required so severe as to lead to discouragement at the outset. Men generally find it more pleasant to read or to hear, than to think. They would rather that others should furnish excitement for them, than elaborate it for themselves. There is a spring and stimulus in rich or clear thoughts; but too many are 19
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contented to have others produce them, while they themselves sit in listless indolence, and wait till the banquet is ready to be served up. They dread the effort which would promote their highest good, and lead to the most satisfying enjoyment. And there are several causes, which foster this natural indolence of mind. The young, particularly, seem to think that greatness is to be attained without effort. They imagine that there is some happy combination of faculties, which they denominate genius; and that, by means of it, one may soar to the sublime summit of mental culture, by some other than the slow process of gradual and laborious. attainment; or, that, in the lives of some persons, there is such a concurrence of happy chances, as to draw forth the array of mental power, and to develop the "mighty man," while the subject of the grand transformation has only to look on and admire. But men do not become great in intellect accidentally, and without effort. Discipline never yet resulted from indolence. The elements which constitute intellectual greatness must not be misconceived. We must not imagine that to be innate, which is the fruit of hard study, and energetic and efficient thought. These latter, after all that can be said, are the true elements of genius; of that genius, which knows how to create and combine, to magnify and adorn; to infuse life and vigor into every thing which is subjected to its alchemy. The ease with which master-minds are seen to grasp difficult subjects, or to throw off brilliant views of them, is calculated, perhaps, to mislead the inexperienced. They do not consider the laborious training, by which this power was acquired. They were not present to witness the diligent toil, by which the great were made great; and because they did not see the process, they are too apt to believe that no such process took place. But it is their mistake. The mental grandeur of those lords in the intellectual creation was wrought out, particle by particle, in the chambers of thought. And he who expects that genius will help him to become great in mind by any other sort of process will find himself utterly disappointed.
There is, perhaps, also, especially with the younger portion of the community, a mistake in respect to the outward signs of mental greatness, a mistake which may lead them to error in their method of seeking to reach this attainment. They may imagine the fluent, or the self-conceited, to be the