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apprehensive, cannot easily be accounted for, upon the theory of man being eternal. Even infant societies must be nonsense, when having sprung from so ancient a stock. America is such an infant society, as I should imagine, all societies would of necessity be, if man were eternal; that having the experience of the parent society, the wisdom of the offspring puts to blush the folly of the parent. Might not our ancestors be accounted deaf and dumb; if we are to judge from effects compared to their eternal existence.
Leucippus * says, “no one will deny the possibility of men and women being generated from time to eternity, because we can easily suppose, that it may happen for 100 years forwards, and there is as little difficulty in extending the period to 1000 years. At the end of the latter period, shall we find it a whit less possible to conceive generation to proceed to any assignable period? Nay, conceive it (which is as much within the limits of possibility as the first supposition) to have proceeded to the last limit that can be numbered, yet we see no reason for saying that here successive generation must stop; in fact, we feel that such an assertion would be absurd. Well, then, if it be possible that
successive generations may exist beyond any assignable period, it may exist through eternity to come, it may have existed through a past eternity. There is no more difficulty in the one supposition than the other." This reasoning Leucippus calls logical.
I have before observed, that geological research gives evidence from the strata of the earth of changes on our globe before man was an actor, that animals have existed that at present do not exist, and that animals now in existence were not in existence when such changes took place; consequently, our present existence is no evidence of the existence of man either from or to eternity?
Let us try the logic of Leucippus in our own way, and say, there is not any difficulty in the supposition (it is also much within the limits of possibility, and more particularly while men exist) and that is, there may be successively, beyond any assignable period, manufactured, those master pieces of human ingenuity and usefulness, the steam-engine and the much contested machinery the rail-way: in fact, to deny such, under these circumstances, would be absurd. If then, it be possible, that those pieces of machinery, the steam-engine and rail-way construction, should exist through eternity to come they might have existed through a past eternity? Which is neither logical nor true?
Others object and say, that it is quite ridiculous to suppose matter to pass an eternity before it produced man and other iden
ties, as must be the case if the are not from eternity. But do
Republican, vol. xii. page 330.
not our senses every day convincè us that what are the productions of one place are not produced or are something different in another? The identities of the torrid are not the same as the frigid zone; even that common vegetable, the mushroom, cannot be produced in any meadow, or in any season. Some vegetables cannot be produced in some countries; in some one crop, in others, two crops in a year. The Polar ices exist beyond any assignable period, without producing the majestic cedar, the purging hyssop or the nourishing vine; and yet matter is as eternal at the one place as the other. The position of the earth, in relation to the sun, which are both matter, makes a general difference, and the nature of the soil, in conjunction with the sun, a particular difference; and if vegetables and other identities cannot be produced, but under particular operating causes, in what manner could man? What is there more ridiculous in the one, than in the other, if nature has the power? If matter can exist one moment, why not a year? We only know the properties of gun powder by the effects produced when in contrast with fire. And, says Dr. Herschell, speaking of the lustre of the suo and allowing that changes have, and are still possible, to take place on this globe, by its influence being changed as to our relative situation, “ not only the stability of our climate, but the whole arimal and vegetable creation itself is involved in the question.” How can things eternal be so dependant for their existence or a continuation of existence on that luminary the sun ?
In conclusion, to suppose the eternity of man, we are inevit. ably led to suppose death and old age eternal, and that sons must be as old as parents, which is Christianity in perfection. On what rounds then do we deoy that intelligence, independent of experience or instruction, is eternal ? If man, at some remote petiod, were entirely destitute of experience, it must follow that his existence is in infancy, that he must have descended from some stock that had lately been formed from the energies of nature, or hewn out of, or moulded from some materials, by some powerful personage, of both of which he was entirely ignorant, but demonstratively convinced that he was not ETERNAL.
Note, to my old staunch friend, Thomas Turton. If you leave eternity alone and study time, you will study and write to more useful purposes.
Mr. R. says,
"The subject of education is, of all others, the one in which the vital interests of the inhabitants of the British empire are the deepest concerned.” So says Michael Rough in "The Republican" of last week, and so far I heartily concur with him in opinion, being well convinced that a good education would enable, nay even compel, men to materially better their condition. But from what I can gather from the rest of his address, there are several points on which we differ. Education does not consist of the same items in the opinions of different men, and this may be the cause of the different views we take of the subject.
“ that the barriers which oppose the progress of education seem to be insurmountable,” It appears to me that it would be about as correct to say, that the barriers which oppose the progress of time seem insurmountable. The progress of education during the last fifty years has been immense; knowledge, both elementary and general, has increased in more than arithmetical progression. Where there was one person who could read and write fifty years since, there are now scores who can do so; where there was one possessing general knowledge, there are now a hundred. What then shall stay this progress? I see more cause for congratulation than, for despondency, or dread of any retrograde movement in education, and consequent happiness of mankind.
It is a common assertion that priests have ever been inimical to mental improvement, and taken as a general rule the assertion is correct; but there are exceptions, or to speak with more cer- tainty, the priests have sometimes acted so as to advance education, whatever might have been their views of its tendency. It is to dissenting clergymen that we are principally indebted for the present number of daily and Sunday, schools, which are evidently calculated to extend knowledge. When one sect began to form schools, the others felt themselves necessitated to follow; and even old Mother
h, so firmly as she must have consi. dered herself fixed some twenty years since, so much as she must bave seen it her interest to keep the people ignorant, at last consented to bring up the rear. Sunday-schools were an indućement for the parents to attend at the particular chapels to which they belonged, in order to give their children the advantage of them; and while there was such an active competition in the market, it was not likely that one sect would long be the sole possessor of this advantage, or that any one would be long without adopting it. This is certain, that the competition among the priests as to who should guide the greatest number of souls to heaven, has been the means of leading a great many from igno
"rance to knowledge; and I trust that the same spirit of emulation will be kept up as long as such merchants find any eụstom in the market. A great evil has generally some trifling advantages.
Some will tell me that this kind of education is useless; that 'the scholars merely learn to read and write, and are sure to have the prejudices of the sect under which they are taught so firmly -fixed in their minds as to be slaves to them for life. This is true as a general rule, but there are exceptions. Supposing the rule without an exception it would not be worse for mankind; for religion with a little learning is not so bad as religion without any learning, nor so bad as ignorance alone. But we know that there are thousands who, having been taught to read and write under the directions of a priest, have at last read for themselves and become rational men, and thus added to the amount of knowledge among mankind.
" It is melancholy to reflect,” says Mr. R., “ that a siugle step has not been taken, even in the cause of elementary education, on a scale proportionable to the population, and commensurate to the necessity of a rich, populous, and rapidly increasing people.” Mr. R. doubtless, wishes to see a school in every town and village, sufficient for the instruction of all the rising generation, upon a scientific plan, and indepeudent of the controul of kingcraft or priestcraft. For my own part, I should hail such a state of things with raptures, but I do not flatter myself that it is possible to bring it about at the present day, nor that it will be possible for some years hence. It can never be effected white the country contains a number of religious sects; all the powers of the government would prove nugátory in the attempt. Consequently I conceive it bad policy to be “ melancholy" because that is not attempted to be accomplished which cannot be accomplished; especially while we have the means of working, though but slowly, toward the same object.
Thus much for the elementary part, which is but a trifle of what the term education comprehends.
Mr. R. advises his fellow citizens to obtain that edueation which teaches them to know the sovereignty of the people, and to preserve among themselves, for their consumption, the substance produced by their labour. So I would advise, but I should not think that I was directing them to it if I appealed to their feelings and passions instead of their reason. It is necessary, it is indispensable to the happiness of man that he should be educated, that he should know the relation he bears to the beings around bim, and their reciprocal influences; but while passions guide him, he will never obtain this knowledge, he will see every thing in a distorted manner; he may form prejudices but not correct judgments. Correct principles are the foundation of real knowledge, 'and these it should be the object of every one to
obtain, and he is not deserving the name of teacher who does not make them his first lessons.
The term general knowledge embraces all knowledge, but no one person can obtain a knowledge of all things; therefore when we say that a person is pretty well versed in general knowledge, we do not inteud to say, that he even knows the name of all existing sciences, but that he knows a pretty good share, or more than the generality of his neighbours. Hence when a man is advised to seek knowledge, it should be his first aim to select 1 such sciences as appear best calculated to answer his purpose,
Astronomy is a pleasing science, and worth studying for amuse*ment; but its utility is but trifling compared to many others; Chemistry is a science equally pleasing in the study, and cannot fail being highly useful to every one who understands it. The last ought to have the preference, except with those intending to lead a sea-faring life. But the science of most importance, which ought to be the first acquired, and the most deeply studied is the science of man. This science interests every one without exception. It will teach the inquirer the situation of man in society, the causes of the great evils with which society is often afflicted, and the means of removing them. Let then the would-be teacher of mankind study its principles and explain them to others, instead of appealing to the passions and pointing out secondary or intermediate causes as the obstructions to the general welfare. Men have been too long led by their feelings and passions; let us hope that the reign of mature reason is nigh at hand: she has burst the swaddling clothes with wbich priestcraft and prejudices surrounded her, and walks forth, in infancy yet, but promising a speedy and glorious maturity.
“ Innumerable,” says Mr. R., “ are the plans laid to reduce man to poverty and distress, snd to retain him in misery and de. gradation." Laid by whom? A sentence of his own just following the above will tell us whom he thinks. “ Have the legislators who brought on these calamities no sense of shame ?". A likely story that legislators should attempt to reduce man to poverty, distress, misery, and degradation, when the opposite states are decidedly more agreeable to their interests.. Is a starving population beneficent to legislators? Is it not a continual pest to them? Does it not weaken their strength and lessen their means of taxation? I hate many of the men and measures of the present government, but I will not charge them with doiug what it would not be their interest to do, and what I am convinced they have not done. Besides the injustice and impolicy, of charging the government with crimes of which it is not guilty, it is decidedly ? mischievous to the suffering people. It is their interest to dis'cover the cause of their misery, but when they are taught to look on government as the cause, they are put upon a wrong scent, and the longer they run in that direction the farther will they be