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of scaling the mysterious elevation, to lie baffled at its foot, or lose itself among the far, the longwithdrawing recesses of that primeval distance, which at length merges away into a fathomless unknown; this is an exercise utterly discomfiting to the puny faculties of man. We are called on to stir ourselves up that we may take hold of God, but the clouds and darkness which are round about Him" seem to repel the enterprise as hopeless; and man, as if overborne by a sense of littleness, feels as if nothing can be done but to make prostrate obeisance of all his faculties before Him.
3. Or, if instead of viewing the Deity in relation to time we view Him in relation to space, we shall feel the mystery of his being to be alike impracticable and impervious. But we shall not again venture on aught so inconceivable, yet the reality of which so irresistibly obtrudes itself upon the mind, as immensity without limits; nor shall we presume one conjecture upon a question which we have no means of resolving, whether the Universe have its terminating outskirts; and so, however stupendous to our eye, shrink by its very finitude, to an atom, in the midst of that unoccupied and unpeopled vastness by which it is surrounded. Let us satisfy ourselves with a humbler flight. Let us carry the speculation no further than our senses have carried it. Let us but take account of the suns and systems which the telescope has unfolded; though for aught we know there might, beyond the furthest range of this instrument, be myriads of remoter suns and remoter systems. Let us, however, keep within the circle of our
actual discoveries, within the limits of that scene which we know to be peopled with realities; and instead of trying to dilate our imagination to the infinity beyond it, let us but think of God as sitting in state and in high sovereignty over millions of other worlds beside our
If this Earth which we know and know so imperfectly form so small a part of His works--what an emphasis it gives to the lesson that we indeed know a very small part of his ways. “ These are part of his ways," said a holy man of old, “but how little a portion is heard of Him." Here the revelations of Astronomy, in our modern day, accord with the direct spiritual revelations of a former age. In this sentiment at least the Patriarch and the Philosopher are at one; and highest science meets and is in harmony with deepest sacredness. So that we construct the same lesson, whether we employ the element of space or the element of time. With the one the basis of the argument is the ephemeral experience of our little day. With the other the basis of the argument is the contracted observation of our little sphere. They both alike serve to distance man from the infinite the everlasting God.
4. But it will somewhat dissipate this felt obscurity of the science, and give more of distinctness and definiteness to the whole of this transcendental contemplation—if we distinguish aright between the Ethics of Theology, and the Objects of Theology
5. To understand this distinction let us conceive some certain relation between two individual
men-as that for example of a benefactor to a dependant, or of one who has conferred a kindness to another who has received it. There is a moral or ethical propriety that springs out of this relation. It is that of gratitude from the latter of these individuals to the former of them. Gratitude is the incumbent virtue in such a case, and a benefactor is the object of that virtue.
6. Now to make one feel the truth of the ethical principle, it matters not whether he has seen many or few benefactors in the course of his experience. Nay, it matters not whether there are many or few benefactors in the world. The moral propriety of gratitude is that which attaches to the relation between a benefactor and a dependant; and it equally remains so whether the relation be seldom or often exemplified. Nay, gratitude would be the appropriate virtue of this relation, although actually it were never exemplified at all. The ethical principle of the virtuousness of gratitude does not depend on the existent reality of an object for this virtue, Let a benefactor really exist ; and then gratitude is due to him. Or let a benefactor only be supposed to exist; and then we affirm with as great readiness that gratitude would be due to him. The incumbent morality is alike recognised—whether we behold a real object, or only figure to ourselves a hypothetical one. The morality, in fact, does not depend for its rightness on any such contingency, as the actual and substantive existence of a proper object to which it may be rendered. The virtuousness of gratitude would remain a stable category in ethical science; although, never
once exemplified in the living world of realities, we derived our only notion of it from the possibilities which were contemplated in an ideal world of relations.
7. It is thus that whether much or little conversant with the objects of a virtue, there may of the virtue itself be a clear and vivid apprehension. A peasant, all whose experience is limited to the homestead of his own little walk, can recognise the virtuousness of gratitude and justice and truth with as great correctness, and feel them too with as great intenseness, as the man of various and ample intercourse, who has traversed a thousand times wider sphere in human society. By enlarging the field of observation we may extend our acquaintance with the objects of moral science; but this does not appear at all indispensable to our acquaintance with the Ethics of the science. To appreciate aright the moral propriety which belongs to any given relation, we do not need to multiply the exemplifications or the cases of it. The one is not a thing of observation as the other is, and therefore not a thing to which the Baconian or inductive method of investigation is in the same manner applicable. Our knowledge of the objects belongs to the Philosophy of Facts. Our knowledge of the Ethics belongs to another and a distinct Philosophy.
8. There has been too much arrogated for the philosophy of Lord Bacon in our day. est?" is the only question to the solution of which it is applicable. It is by observation that we ascertain what are the objects in Nature; and what are, or have been, the events in the history of Nature.
But there is another question wholly distinct from this, “ Quid oportet ?” to the solution of which we are guided by another light than that of experience. This question lies without the domain of the Inductive Philosophy, and the science to whose cognizance it belongs shines upon us by the light of its own immediate evidence. There may have been a just and a luminous Ethics, even when the lessons of the experimental philosophy were most disregarded; and, on the other hand, it is the office of this philosophy to rectify and extend physical, but not to rectify and extend moral science.*
9. On this subject there is an instructive analogy taken from another science, and which illustrates still more the distinction now stated between the objects and the ethics of Moral Philosophy ;t
* We mean not to deny the legitimate application of the Baconian Philosophy to mental science-a distinct thing from moral science. The philosophy which directs and presides over the investigation of facts has to do with the facts and phenomena of mind, as well as those of matter; and though the sanguine anticipations of Reid and Stewart, of a vast coming enlargement in the science of mind, from the call which they had sounded for the treatment of it by the inductive method, have not been realized it is not the less true that the philosophy which has for its object the determination of the Quid est throughout all the departments of observational truth, has to do with the facts of the mental world, as well as with those of the material world, and with the classification of both. But the feelings and purposes of the mind viewed as phenomena, present a different object of investigation altogether, from those feelings and purposes viewed in relation to their rightness or wrongness,
The latter is the object of moral science. And when we say that the office of Lord Bacon's philo. sophy is to rectify and extend physical, but not to rectify moral science, let it be understood that the physical includes phenomena and facts wherever they are to be found_more especially the phenomena of man's spiritual and intellectual nature, the physics of the mind, the mental physiology of Dr. Thomas Brown, the pneumatology of an older generation.
† Moral Philosophy is here understood in its most generic