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The Christian Philosopher; or the were designed to be a comment on
Connexion of Science and Phi- these works ; to explain their nalosophy with Religion. By Thom- ture and to shew us the agency, As Dick, author of a variety of purposes, wisdom, and goodness of literary and scientific communi- God, in their formation. Thus ex. cations in Nicholson's Philosoph- plained, thus illuminated, they beical Journal, the Annals of Phi. come means of knowledge, very exlosophy, &c. &c. First Ameri- tensive, and eminently useful. He can edition. New-York: G. & who does not find in the various, C. Carvill, 1826. pp. 397. beautiful, sublime, awful, and as
tonishing objects, presented to us It is well known to all who were in creation and Providence, inestifamiliarly acquainted with the late mable and glorious reasons, for adPresident Dwight, how much that miring, adoring, loving, and praisgreat and good maa insisted on the ing his Creator, has not a claim to duty of Christians studying the evangelical piety.” (System of The WORKS of God. Of 'ais authority, ology, Vol. III, p. 477.) the author of the work before us What Dr. Dwight so earnestly has availed himself, by quoting from recommended to others, he himhis system of Theology, the follow- self practised in an eminent degree. ing passage.
“ He looked at Nature with the * The works of God were by him eye of a poet, a philosopher, and a intended to be, and are in fact, Christian. The majestic mountain manifestations of himself; proofs and roaring cataract, the morning of his character, presence, and dawn and evening cloud, the shady agency. In this light, he requires grove and flowery meadow, were men continually to regard them; objects which raised his soul to ecand to refuse this regard, is consid- stasy, and filled him with ever new ered by him, as grossly wicked delight. Nor were his views of and highly deserving of punishment, nature limited to scenes of beauty Psalm xxviii, 5. Isa. v. 12–14. and grandeur. He loved also to I am apprehensive that even good mark the laws that regulate the vamen are prone to pay less attention rious works of God, from the mito the works of creation and provi- nutest insect to the starry heavens. dence, than piety demands, and the In them all, he saw proofs of His scriptures require. We say and existence, power, and wisdom, and hear so much concerning the insuf- with grateful praise, recognised ficiency of these works to unfold His goodness in the morning sun, the character of God, and the na- and falling shower, and springing ture of genuine religion, that we herb." (Memoir of President are prone to consider them as al- Dwight, Port Folio.) most uninstructive in moral things, The frequent and happy manner, and in a great measure, useless to in which many of the sacred writhe promotion of piety. This how. ters allude to the scenery and the ever, is a palpable and dangerous operations of the natural world, error. The works alone, without evinces how attentively they had the aid of the scriptures, would, I studied them, and how deeply they acknowledge, be far less instruct- were imbued with that delight and ive than they now are, and utterly admiration, which such a study insufficient to guide us in the way of them never fails to inspire. The of righteousness. The scriptures same contemplation of the starry heavens, that kindled so warm and Father feedeth--to the lilies of the exalted emotions in the breast of field, excelling in beauty the princeMr. Addison, and that drew from ly robes of Solomon--to the spar. him one of his most admired and rows which are not forgotten before finished passages,* had long before God--and to the storm which beat awakened a loftier feeling in the harmless on the house that was breast of the Psalmist, and given founded on a rock, but which prosrise to a still more fervent and ex- trated in ruins that which was built alted strain. “When I consider upon the sand. thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, How great is the blessedness of the moon and the stars which thou that man, who combines with the hast ordained, what is man that enthusiasm of the naturalist, the thou art mindful of him, or the son devoutness of the Christian ; whose of man that thou visitest him ?”_ heart is warmed while his vision is The green pastures and the still charmed; whose love and gratitude waters—the rose of Sharon and the to the Creator, mingles with the lily of the vallies—the cedars of delight and admiration with which Lebanon, and the dews of Hermon he inspects the works of his hands! --objects of which the sacred poets If, as is the opinion of some, the make such fond and frequent men- heathen mythobgy was fitted to ention, clearly evince how familiarly hance the interest inspired by they held converse with the works natural scenery, peopling as it did, of God. Nor are there wanting the sky, the air, the sea, and the examples to show that they studied abysses of the earth, each mounnature not only in her cheerful, but tain, stream, and grove, with myr. also in her solemn and awful forms, iads of divinities, how much more and recognised and adored the is that religion fitted to heighten the great Creator in tempests, when same emotions, which leads the clouds and darkness were round student of nature to believe and about him—in storms, when his feel, that the glories of the evening lightnings enlightened the world, sky, the vernal landscape, each glit. and the hills melted like wax at his tering gem, and enamelled flower, presence-in volcanoes, when in not only speaks the presence, but his wroth, the earth shook and proclaims the loving kindness of his trerabled, the foundations of the God! Who has so much reason as hills also moved and were shaken ; the Christian to find a fane in ev. when there went up a smoke out of ery sacred grove ?! his nostrils, and fire out of his The soul that sees Him, or receives submouth devoured. Nor were they
limed inattentive to the monitory voice New faculties, or learns at least t’employ, that issues from the fading leaf, and More worthily the powers she own'd bethe withering grass, and the transit- fore, ory flower of the field, when the Discerns in all things, what, with stupid wind passeth over it and it is gone. Of ignorance, till then she overlook’dThis practice of devout and in- A ray of heav’nly light, gilding all forms structive reference to objects in the Terrestrial in the vast and the minute ; natural world, was not confined to The unambiguous footsteps of the God the sacred poets. How aptly, and Who gives its lustre to an insects' wing,
And wheels his throne upon the rolling how beautifully, does our Saviour
worlds. himself enforce his lessons of heav. enly wisdom, by referring us to the
Who can doubt that the writer of fowls of the air, that our heavenly the following passages from the
hundred forty-eighth psalm, which * Spectator, No. 565.
Milton has so finely amplified in
and moon :
Adam and Eve's morning hymn, force of this evidence as soon as and Thomson so successfully imita- he opened his eyes upon the works ted in his Hymn to the Seasons, of creation, and impatient of a launited in himself those qualities boured course of reasoning, has which are necessary to impart the chosen to occupy himself in deshighest possible interest to the canting on their beauty and magworks of creation,-an imagination nificence, and the benevolence and ever kindling at the beautiful and glory of the Creator ; and another sublime of nature, and a heart ever still, while he attempted coolly to glowing with love and gratitude to give a history of nature, found himthe Creator. Praise ye him sun self, as Saint Pierre remarks, “ma
praise him, all ye stars king a pause at every step he advanof light. Praise him, ye heavens of ced, transported at the beauty of heavens, and ye waters that be above her divine productions."* Dr. Pathe heavens. Fire and hail, snow ley may be cited as an instance of and vapour, stormy wind fulfilling the first; Hervey of the second ; his word. Mountains and all hills, and our present author of the third. fruitful trees and all cedars. Beasts As the views with which these sevand all cattle, creeping things and eral writers have looked at the flying fowl.
works of creation and providence We think the work before us were different, so their several dewell adapted to promote a union of grees of merit ought to be estimathat admiration of nature with piety ted on different principles. Paley's towards its Author, of which we Natural Theology is a work of the have cited such high examples. highest excellence, and we are inAlthough it comes after a long se- clined to think that as a piece of ries of writings of the same class, it reasoning it has never been excelhas the advantage of being better led. But Hervey can no sooner adapted than any of the others to look at the starry firmament, or take the present advanced state of sci- a turn in a flower-garden, than he ence; and though not a work of is transported at once away from as great originality as several other the cold regions of argument, into kindred works, it still excels most the warmer and more congenial of them in its tendency to promote climes of poetry. Yet to many deat once the cultivation of the un- vout Christians, the “ Meditations” derstanding and the affections. If of Hervey, are more edifying and we compare such writings as more dear than the Reasonings of Ray's Wisdom of God in the Works Paley. The disparaging manner in of Creation, Sturm's Reflections, which Dr. Blairf spoke of Hervey's Wollaston's Religion of Nature De- Meditations, is probably one great lineated, Derham's Physico-Theol- reason why this once favourite auogy, St. Pierre's Studies of Nature, thor has fallen into such neglect, Hervey's Meditations, and Paley's we might almost say contempt. We Natural Theology, we shall per. cannot but think, however, that ceive that the uses which Christian even when his merits as a writer writers have made of the works of merely are considered, he has been creation and providence, are ex- depressed below his proper level, tremely various. Some have look- No one can study nature long or ated at nature purely through the tentively without being smitten with medium of the understanding, and admiration at the perfection of her others through that of the imagina. works. Hence, if the naturalist tion. One has sought only for proofs of the being and attributes
*Studies of Nature, i. 1. of God; another, feeling the full +Blair's Lectures, No. 18.
has a spark of poetry in his compo. drapery of the sky; topaz, emblasition, it is sure to be kindled and zed with the golden gleam ; ameto animate his descriptions.* If thyst, impurpled with the blushes then one who undertakes merely to of the morning : He who tinctures describe the works of creation is so the metallic dust, and consolidates prone to fall into raptures, and to the lucid drop ; He, when sojournleave simple prose as too tame to ing on earth, had no riches but the express bis transports, much indul- riches of disinterested benevolence; gence must certainly be granted to had no ornament, but the ornament one, whose professed object it was of unspotted purity. Poor he was not to describe nature, but to con- in his circumstances, and mean in template her in her most sublime all his accommodations; that we and beautiful forms, exalted in all might be rich in grace, and obtain their characters, by reflecting the salvation with eternal glory ; that divine image of their Maker, and we might inhabit the new Jerushadowing forth the glories of the salem, that splendid city, whose redemption to a soul already streets are paved with gold ; whose strongly imbued with the love of gates are formed of pearl ; and the God. Viewed in this light, the walls garnished with all manner of Descant upon Creation, which was precious stones. Ye gushing founintended to magnify the condescen- tains, that trickle potable silver ding love and mercy of Christ, by through the matted grass : Ye fine contrasting his humiliation and suf. transparent streams, that glide in ferings in the work of redemption, crystal waves along your fringed with his exaltation and glory in the banks : Ye deep and stately rivers, work of creation, contains several that wind and wander in your course passages of great beauty, and moves to spread your favours wider ; that throughout in a very elevated strain. gladden kingdoms in your progress, Let us take as an example of his and augment the sea with your tristyle and spirit, the apostrophies to bute : He who supplies all your mines, fountains, and birds.
currents from his own ever-flowing “Ye mines, rich in yellow ore, and inexhaustible liberality; He, or bright with veins of silver ; when his nerves were racked with that distribute your shining treas. exquisite pain, and his blood inflaures as far as the winds can waft med by a raging 'fever, cried, I the vessel of commerce ; that be- THIRST, and was denied (unparalstow your alms on monarchs, and lelled hardship!) in this his great have princes for your pensioners : extremity, was denied the poor reYe beds of gems, toy-shops of na- freshment of a single drop of water; ture! which form, in dark retire- that we, having all-sufficiency in all ment, the glittering stone; dia- things, might abound to every good monds, that sparkle with a brilliant work; might be filled with the fulwater; rubies, that glow with a ness of spiritual blessings here, and crimson flame ; emeralds, dipped hereafter be satisfied with that fulin the freshest verdure of spring ; ness of joy which is at God's right sapphires, decked with the fairest hand forevermore. *This tendency is strongly manifested
“ Ye birds, cheerful tenants of in Wilson's Ornithology, and in the En. the bough, daily dressed in glossy tomology Kirby and Spence. Any plumage ; who wake the morn, and one who has perused the account of the solace the groves with your artless Bald Eagle by the former, and the history lays : inimitable architects! who, of the white ants that hold in slavery a nation of blacks, by the latter, will be
without rule or line, build your ready to assent to the correctness of this pensile structures with all the niremark.
cety of proportion ; you have each
his commodious nest; roofed with not, however, extend the same apolshades and lined with warmth to ogy to a writer who introduces, here protect and cherish the callow and there, a passage in the style brood; but He, who tuned your of Hervey's Meditations, in the throats to harmony, and taught you midst of a plain didactic discourse; that curious skill.; He was a man and hence, contrary to the common of sorrows, and had not where to opinion, we are inclined to think lay his head; had not where to lay that Hervey's Theron and Aspasio, his head, till he felt the pangs of a work consisting of familiar diadissolution, and was laid in the si- logues and letters, written for the lent grave ; that we, dwelling un- most part in a plain, colloquial style, der the wings of omnipotence, and is more faulty in the manner of its resting in the bosom of infinite love, execution than the Meditations ; might spend an harmonious eternity because here the florid passages in singing the song of Moses and appear like splendid pieces of patchof the Lamb."
work, stitched upon a ground of When, however, we venture to very different texture. offer an apology for Hervey's Med- Purpureus late qui splendeat unus itations, blending as they manifestly et alter do, the spirit of the naturalist, the
Assuitur pannus. poet, and the Christian, we would not be misunderstood : the style is compelled to censure a few passa
On the same principle, we feel by no means adapted to ordinary ges in the work now under review. purposes, and we need hardly add,
The following may serve as an exthat the reflections of Addison in
ample : Westminster Abbey, and his contemplations on the starry heavens,* If we turn our eyes upward to the are to be recommended to the regions of the atmosphere, we may beyoung writer as much safer models hold a spectacle of variegated magnifiof composition than the kindred
Sometimes the sky is covered productious of Hervey. We can- with sable clouds, or obscured with
mists; at other times it is tinged with *Spectator, Nos. 26 and 565.
a variety of hues, by the rays of the rising or the setting sun. Sometimes
it +That Hervey was possessed of a
presents a pure azure, at other times vein of genuine poetry, is evident from it is diversified with strata of dappled
clouds. At one time we behold the the specimens of translation which he has occasionally given in the notes to
rainbow rearing its majestic arch adorthe Meditations; and had he cultiva- ned with all the colours of light ; at ted his muse, and written his Meditations in poetry, he would perhaps have Child of the summer, charming rose, done himself better justice. Take, for No longer in confinement lie; example, the following translation of Arise to light, thy form disclose, an ode of Casimir to the Rose, in Rival the spangles of the sky. which the spirit of the original is finely The rains are gone, the storms are preserved, and several highly poetical o'er, thoughts are added.
Winter retires to make thee way:
Come then, thou sweetly blushing Siderum sacros imitata vultus,
rose, Quid lates dudum, rosa ? Delicatum Come, lovely stranger,come away. Effer e terris caput, O tepentis The sun is dress'd in beaming smiles, Filia cæli :
To give thy beauties to the day : Jam tibi nubes fugiunt aquose, Young Zephyrs wait, with gentlegt Quas fugant albis Zephiri quadrigis:
gales, Jam tibi mulcet Boream jocantis To fan thy bosom as they play. Aura Favoni.
(Reflections in a Flower Garden.)