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nually from things more simple, clear, and easy, to things more complex, obscure, and difficult; from material, to moral and spiritual objects; and finally, ascending to the highest and noblest degree in the scale of human Knowledge; and from the whole of what we previously see and know, learning to know this—that an eternal all-perfect Being is the cause of all, that to him we belong, and from him derive all good. Is there no sign of creative wisdom in this admirable and evident process of nature? Is not here the finger of God visible, teaching men Knowledge ? Did he not intend thus to disclose to us his works, and consequently lead us to the study and contemplation of himself ? He seems to be destitute of the reason of a man, who does not perceive this divine intention and procedure.
The general branches of Knowledge which the faculties of the mind in their natural state are adapted to acquire, and which education, the objects of the world, and the events of life, are fitted to teach; are at the same time the most important and most useful to mankind : this plainly argues the wise and beneficent design of the Almighty Maker.
The first branch of Knowledge, is that which respects ourselves and mankind around us, the relations, dependencies, connections, interests, inclinations, customs, and laws, of human society. This qualifies men to live in society, and to behave as subjects of law and government, and in a manner proper to domestic and national obligations. And parental instruction, mutual converse, daily experience of the events and transactions of the world, and the whole process of life, are continually teaching this science.
The second branch of Knowledge, is that of a Supreme Being, as the maker and disposer of all things, the all-wise governor of the whole world, the just judge of mankind, and the original author of all good. This Knowledge has a general tendency to restrain men from evil, and incite them to goodness, and to confirm the bonds of social order, virtue, and happi
And this Knowledge is constantly taught by
the still eloquence of universal nature; “the heavens declaring the glory of God, the firmament shewing his handy-work, day unto day uttering this instruction, night unto night revealing this doctrine.” Every object in the visible creation,—the order, uniformity, and variety, conspicuous in the whole,--and the faculties of our own minds, all indicating the same divine cause ; and all our knowledge of every kind leading to, and terminating in, this one most momentous and certain truth.
And these two kinds of Knowledge, so important and so beneficial, are common to mankind in general; they are not peculiar to the great, the wealthy, or the learned: the vulgar, the poor, and the illiterate, have their share, and partake of the same divine instructions.
It is well observed by Mr. Knight, that of all our desires, perhaps the desire of Knowledge is that of which the gratifications are the most pure and unmixed, as well the most permanent, and which being, at the same time, the most difficult to cloy or satiate, affords the most certain and ample means of durable and solid happiness.
The science of the philosopher, by giving him a more extensive view of things, makes him sensible of his own insignificance in the scale of being; and whilst it enlarges his understanding, it narrows his pretensions and humbles his pride: for, whatever may be said of the pride of science, it is always meek and humble, compared with the pride of ignorance.
Knowledge! thou fair effusive ray
Free, gen'rous, and refin’d,
And bless my lab'ring mind.
Those mimic shades of thee,
The monk's philosophy.
Olet thy powerful charm impart
Devoted to thy sway!
Where reason points the way. Give me to learn each secret cause; Let numbers, figures, motion's laws,
Reveal'd before me stand;
Disclose her working hand.
Through ev'ry maze pursue ;
And all their changes view.
In all her treasures drest;
That range beyond control,
And strain to grasp the whole ?
And equal steps be trod,
In the divine abyss;
And light the way to bliss.
And social nature's ties;
The plan, the genius of each state,
Its fortunes and its rise.
And means and motives weigh;
And fix the doubtful sway.
Propitious pow'r! impart;
The master of my heart.
And all in life that's mean :
Through ev'ry varying scene.
Sweet refuge of distress;
Prosperity its grace.
Of arts inventress thou !
Their joys how mean, how few!
On fortune's faithless sea :
And sit in peace with thee. Montaigne, in his Essays, has the following beautiful
passage on the characteristics of true wisdom :“ The most manifest sign of wisdom is a continual cheerfulness ; her estate is like that of things in the regions above
the moon, always clear and serene. 'Tis Baraco and Baralipton that render their disciples so dirty and ill-favour'a, and not she; they do not so much as know her, but by hearsay. 'Tis she that calms and appeases the storms and tempests of the soul, and who teaches famines and fevers to laugh and sing; and that, not by certain imaginary epicycles, but by natural and manifest reasons. She has virtue for her end; which is not, as the schoolmen say, situate upon the summit of a perpendicular rock, and an inaccessible precipice. Such as have approach'd her, find it, quite contrary, to be seated in a fair, fruitful, and flourishing plain, from whence she easily discovers all things subjected to her; to which place any one may however arrive, if he know but the easiest and the nearest way thro' shady, green, and sweetly-flourishing walks and avenues, by a pleasant, easy, and smooth descent, like that of the cælestial arches. 'Tis for not having frequented this supreme, this beautiful, triumphant, and amiable, this equally delicious and courageous virtue, this so profess'd and implacable enemy to anxiety, sorrow, fear, and constraint, who, having nature for her guide, has fortune and pleasure for her companions, that they have gone according to their own weak imagination, and created this ridiculous, this sorrowful, querulous, despiteful, threatening, terrible image of it to themselves and others, and plac'd it upon a solitary rock, amongst thorns and brambles, and made of it a hobgoblin to fright people from daring to approach it. But the governour that I would have, that is, such a one as knows it to be his duty to possess pupil with as much or more affection than reverence to virtue, will be able to inform him, that the poets have evermore accommodated themselves to the publick humour, and make him sensible, that the gods have planted more toil and sweat in the avenues of the cabinets of Venus than those of Minerva, which, when he shall once find him begin to apprehend, and shall represent to him a Bradamanta, or an Angelica, for a mistress, a natural, active, generous, and not a mankind, but a manly beauty, in comparison of a soft, delicate, artificial, simp'ring, and affected form; the one disguis'd in the habit of an heroick youth, with her beautiful face set out in a glittering helmet, the other trick'd up in curls and ribbons like a wanton minx; he will then look upon his own affection as brave and masculine, when he shall choose quite contrary to that effeminate shepherd of Phrygia. Such a tutor will make a pupil to digest this new doctrine, that the height and value of true virtue consists in the facility, utility, and pleasure of its exercise; so far from difficulty, that boys, as well as men, and the innocent as well as the subtle, may make it their own; and it is by order and good conduct, and not by force, that it is to be acquir’d. Socrates, her first