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gious aspirations suffice !-- religious feelings however warm, religious aspirations however exalted ? Learning only can cope with learned adversaries, learning massive, extensive and profound; historical, and philological, and scientific arguments can only be met by a competent acquaintance with history, and philology, and science; and the perversions of reason can only be exposed, not by the disparagement of reason, but by its legitimate and highest use. Our Church has hitherto maintained a spiritual sobriety and a godly moderation. May she maintain them for ever! If they are exchanged for a flighty, and fantastic, and mystic creed, and if religious sentiment is not directed by religious knowledge, then will the miserable process go on, by which extremes will create extremes, and monstrous errors will generate prodigies of error still more monstrous, and extravagances will be arrayed against extravagances, and society will be divided into the two baneful sections of scornful infidelity, and half-crazy enthusiasts; or Socinianism and fanaticism will portion out the land between them; and then not only must we say farewell to the lustre of the Church of England, but the light of Christendom will be extinguished, and the fairest hopes of humanity will for a season be lost.
We may not persuade others, but we have delivered our own soul. Knowing how mixed and how imperfect is every thing in man, and how weak is human judgment, and how the bad feelings of our nature intwine themselves about the good; and how hidden and uncalculated is oftentimes the sway of early prejudices, and the associations of habit and education, we offer these remarks, after all, as the opinions which may very possibly be warped by the action of many circumstances, of which we have not sufficiently computed the tendency and the strength. At the same time, however, we record them as the deliberate and conscientious convictions which we not only entertain, but which we deem it necessary to put forth, at a period the most eventful, perhaps, and the most critical that has ever occurred to the established religion of the country.
ART. VII.—The Connexion of the Physical Sciences. By Mrs.
Somerville. London: Murray. 1834. It may be true, that in many departments of our literature, the contributions of this age are decidedly inserior to those of previous ones. Our minds may not now be fertilized by fresh
“ seeds of thought,” such as Bacon scattered. Our style may be full of epigrammatic prettinesses, but destitute of the fire and the vehemence of Jeremy Taylor. Milton may be unapproached, either in poesy or in prose. We may have falsely fancied, that our compressed octavos contain the essence, the elixir, of the older tomes. Our mental scenery may have the choicest flowers and aroma of the primitive settlers, but have lost all the magnificent proportion and wild beauty of their land. This, we say, may possibly be true:-our judgments, not the old prejudice of decrying the present, may have drawn this estimate. And yet we do contend that our literature has more than a redeeming quality. Our advance in Science more than brings us on a level. Herschel and Davy, &c. more than vindicate our claims to even profound originality. Perhaps, we furnish fewer discoveries of the moral relations of the human mind,- but unquestionably we know more of human nature,
Now believing, as we do, that our advance in physical science is the characteristic glory of this age ;-—and that the strength of intellect--the analytical invention--the patient research-which its pursuit calls forth—are painfully contrasted with the commonness of the productions of other fields of literature; we think it would be an useful inquiry, Whence is it, this age excels in one department, but fails in most of the rest ? Is it because the cultivation of that order of thought necessary for success in one, unavoidably leads to neglect of the others? Is there such an opposition between those powers of mind demanded by the exact sciences, and those demanded by the more excursive, that they cannot co-exist, cannot severally be vigorous ? Is it impossible to be a mathematician and a poet ? or to live amid the certainties of algebraical calculations and formulæ, and likewise in the more undefined and changing abstractions of metaphysics ? Must we consent to be dwarfs in the one, if we would be giants in the other? Is there a great gulph fixed, and is it impassable?
It requires no elaborate argument to prove, that no studies induce such severe habits of consecutive thought, such love of patient but certain induction, such openness to the evidence of truth, as those of physical science, where mathematics are the leading instruments of investigation. And never have there gone forth before, so many minds whose earliest mental susceptibilities were disciplined by their attainment. Now, that these qualities of mind are of the gravest importance in the more excursive applications of thought must be most evident; and yet, have they shown themselves therein ? Is it a mere declamatory question, -whether Truth, in all its branches moral and religious, has derived the benefit which might have been expected from the pre-eminence
now given in our course of education to the Physical Department?
We think that, without unamiably arrogating to ourselves superior wisdom, we can affirın that these studies have not yet produced their best—their legitimate results. They have, indeed, contributed much, and rapidly, to one species of our knowledge. The objects which they directly contemplate, both in their amplitude and their minuteness, have been brought before us,-and cold and rigid reason has apprehended them. But reason has monopolized. The emotions of the imagination have been kept at bay; just as if the temple of God's creation had only the magnitudes of sublimity, in order to be scaled by numerical calculations; or the harmonies of minute fitness, for the doctrine of proportionals : as if the moment the mind burst beyond the limits of accuracy, and indulged in indefinite wonder and admiration, its movements were sure to be erratic.
Some of our readers will probably smile at this language--will condemn it as the murmurings of some fretted student, who, in disgust, throws aside the abstruse Principia, and revels in the creations of Walter Scott. But allow it to be so. Is it therefore instantly to be repudiated ? Have not the faculties of reason and imagination been too uncompromisingly divorced, in the pursuits which we are at present considering? We think they have. There has been an uniform, an unnatural disdain of the latter. As yet the doctrines and proofs of astronomny, or of optics, have been submitted as if only for dissection; as if no spirit, no life animated them, with which our sensibilities could sympathize.
Let it not be thought that we would for one moment strive to popularize the sciences, by relieving the student from the necessity of the most rigid application. We would not deduct one single problem :—but if they claim our notice at all upon the ground of the qualities as well as the relations of the objects of their research, why are these qualities merely to be hinted at ? Are they to have no enthusiasts as their admirers, and would the impulse of delight in them be an impediment to inquiry ?
We confidently believe, that, if the connexion between the Moral and Physical Sciences was more regarded, the pursuit of the latter especially would be far more beneficial than it has been. Man, as an impassioned being, is not unfit for their cultivation. He would be, if he were only passion. But it is possible (and such is the perfection of a mind) that judgment and feeling, thought and emotion, should co-exist, and be so kept in equilibrium that neither should be injured by its companion ; and we long to see this more generally manifested in our Natural Philosophers.
What objects of sublimity and beauty are associated with their studies! This world has its poets ;--its fields and its streams, its mountains and its torrents, its tempests and its zephyrs furnish them with the materiel for their creations; and the mind may be awed or soothed by the phantasy : still it is but a phantasy. There is, however, a higher, a more intense order of poesy.
It is that of Physical Philosophy. She gathers her forms, not from a world, but an universe, and has this advantage, that, before ber conceptions can be indulged, there must be vigorous and prolonged thought. This will not by too much luxury enervate the mind.
We need but glance at some of those conceptions :—for instance, the
power of attraction, wielding an atom as well as a world, a world as well as a system; regulating the shape of every globule, as well as the rotundity of every planet: the breath, the life, the soul which the Almighty Parent has infused into his creation : withdraw it,—and the universe would become a corpse. And has this no sublimity, the inspiration of which the abstrusest calculator may not feel ?
We turn to the theories of light; if we believe it to be an actual emanation from an observed object, or to consist in vibrations of an elastic fluid, or ether filling space--then as to its velocity, and the boundless ocean which it opens up to us, with its innumerable and luminous waves, and its prismatic colours—have these no grandeur, no beauty, which can allure the imagination and at the same time administer strength, by the efforts required before they can be enjoyed ?
We have but barely adverted to two orders of phenomena, which first occurred to us, as illustrations of our meaning--that all man's faculties can have their appropriate and highest scope, in studies, from which the imagination has been too rudely repulsed. We may incorporate physical with other truths; they have all affinities with each other.
Somewhat similar remarks might be made upon the connexion between them and Religion. We complain that although, in most scientific treatises, we are told of the illustrations of the Divine power, and benevolence, and wisdom, which are provided in the discoveries of philosophy, such a glorious recommendation is but barely suggested. Perhaps one paragraph in the Introductory Chapter announces it, and it is then forgotten. This, we contend, is painfully reprehensible: for if science does contribute to our knowledge of these, the sublimest objects of contemplation,--this should be her supreme boast: as her chief aim, this should invariably be foremost: her disciples should feel themselves to be, in a subordinate sense, the ministers of God, striving to reveal to others the laws of the Eternal Mind, and exulting in their success just in proportion as they obtained it.
If we remove the idea of an All-pervading Intelligence from the Creation, we deduct from it its truest magnificence. It is the thought that a mind is thereby putting forth its mighty resolves, which gives to the universe a meaning. A fortuitous order and harmony would produce an impression such as might follow the correct music of an idiot. We feel, therefore, that science dissociated from religion, is comparatively tasteless and insipid. In union with it, it is itself ennobled. Why then is the connexion between them so unfrequently exemplified ? Is it unscientific, after having calculated the centripetal and centrifugal forces which affect our system, to stop and adore a Being, thus proved to be One whom no extent of effort can bewilder or fatigue, whom no minute operations can so concentrate in his notice, as to divert him from other divisions of his providence? Or is it unsuitable to the gravity and abstraction requisite in investigating the properties of light, meanwhile to have the heart impressed with what must be the splendors of the immediate home of that Divinity, who sọ illimitably scatters amongst us the beauties which are involved in every ray? We are sure it is not unsuitable. Such thoughts inspired Bacon, and Newton, when enrapt in wonder at the new conceptions that burst upon them. They felt as if favoured with a nearer approach to the beatific vision of the Almighty.
And we are equally persuaded likewise, that science has a connexion with revealed Religion. Our present purpose, and the character of several papers in our last number, prevent us from inquiring, whether that connexion be one of confirmatory evidence or simply illustrative ? Most of our readers will allow that it does furnish us with comparisons and analogies. Still this subject is never unfolded in those works which we are now in the general considering. The discoveries of philosophy throw a light, we conceive, upon many of the mysteries of the Divine Word. Do we feel it difficult to admit the doctrine of a particular Providence, that the very hairs of our head are all numbered,—that a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without God's permission ?- The uniformity of design,—the unbroken chain of physical adaptations, from the highest link to the lowest, which science has unveiled, teaches us that the contrary doctrine would be an absurdity. And so even in regard to the holiest and most soul-humbling fact of the Gospel, the divinity of the Atonement :—when sceptically disposed to inquire,—where is the moral congruity in the Creator's affixing such a value to but one “ dim speck” in his Universe, as to interpose for it with his own Son ?-ihen, we say, even science can afford her aid, can teach us, that worlds without number and filled by responsible agents, may most probably have been taught by it a lesson: unto other orders, unto angels, and principalities,