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mind, sufficiently larger than ours, take in all created things, at one view, and contemplate them as a whole? The builder of a machine, not too large or complex for his eye, may contemplate it when in motion as a whole, and may notice, in the revolving of its wheels, not successive events, successively observed, but only the steady realization of the idea according to which he built it. The created universe is neither too large nor too complex for the eye of its Maker. How do we know, then, that he cannot contemplate it otherwise than by successive thoughts?
It is not necessary to our argument, nor is it our purpose, to show what is the mode of thought in the Divine Mind. We have already shown that it may be a mode of which we can have no clear conception. We are meeting the alleged fact, that in the Divine Mind, thought has eternally followed thought, each occupying a finite amount of time. We are only bound to show that this alleged fact is, at least, questionable; that we do not know it to be a fact. This being shown, as we think it has been, our argument against the possibility of an infinite series, actually made up of finite quantities, remains in full force. No sophism has been detected in it, and no fact has been established, inconsistent with it. We are authorized to conclude from it, that the past eternity of God has not been made up of finite portions of time, measured off by successive thoughts in the Divine Mind; notwithstanding any necessity we may be under, when speaking of him, to speak after the manner of men.
But if man now exists as an effect of the power of God now put forth, it must have been equally possible for him to put forth that same power, in the same way, during every period of his eternal existence; thus producing an eternal, and therefore an infinite series of men.
We reply, that this attempt to settle an arithmetical question by appealing to a metaphysical speculation concerning the power of God, is not allowable, especially in one who holds that there is no God. It is true, that we know nothing concerning the power of God, from which we can infer his inability to cause men to exist, whenever it may have pleased him; but this does not show that the number of human generations may have been so great, that if one division of 10 by 3 had been performed in each generation, the reduction of to a decimal would have been finished, the last division leaving no remainder. And if not, then it has not been so great as to exhaust the parallel series of natural numbers. And if this series is not exhausted, the number is not infinite. The power of God has doubtless, from eternity, been adequate to the production of any imaginable effects, which are in their nature capable of being the result of power. But the principles of arith
We have no clear idea of Eternal Existence.
metic are not the result of power. They are necessary and eternal truths. Power never established them, and can never annul, suspend, or modify them. Power can never accomplish, nor have any tendency to accomplish, what is arithmetically impossible. It is absurd, therefore, to argue from the power of God, that three times three may have been made to be ten, so that 10 could be divided by 3 without a remainder; or that the infinite series of numbers, 1, 2, 3, and so on, may have been used in numbering human generations, till its terms have all been used up.
We reply again, that the objection now before us begs the question, by assuming that the past eternity of God has been made up of successive periods of time, in each of which a human generation may have existed. In thinking of ourselves as coëxisting with God, and as sustaining relations to him which change with the changes of our own character and condition, we are under a necessity, to some extent, of transferring to him our ideas of time. We have no forms of thought which can enable us wholly to dispense with such a transfer. What he does for us in successive periods of our existence, we speak of as done in successive periods of his own existence. We may represent his eternity to our minds, as a series of such periods, theoretically infinite. In our reasonings, the use of this formula is often found convenient, and when kept within proper limits, is perfectly safe. It is, however, only as a theory, and by virtue of its theoretic infinity, that such a series can represent eternity. A succession of periods theoretically infinite can only prove, at most, the possibility of a series of men theoretically infinite.
We have a rational idea of eternal existence; that is, reason enables us to see that eternal existence must be possible. But we have no clear conception of eternal existence; because it has not been possible for us to gain that conception, either by experience or observation, and we have no other way of gaining clear conceptions of modes of existWe therefore invent the fiction of an infinite series of periods, and use that fiction instead of the clear conception which we cannot have; somewhat as we use an algebraic expression for an unknown quantity; and, when modestly and discreetly used, the substitute answers, very well, the purposes for which piety needs it. But sound logic forbids us to take this our fiction for a fact, and infer from it the possibility of other facts. Our inability to reason concerning the past eternity of God without using our fiction, may be some excuse, morally, for such a blunder, but in no way mends its logic. Notwithstanding our inability, it still remains certain, that the supposition of an infinite series of periods, actually made up, is an arithmetical absurdity, and 53
VOL. VII. No. 28.
that the safe use of our fiction ceases before we arrive at such a conclusion.
But the stream of vital action in the human race is an uninterrupted stream; the living substance of the father becoming, while yet alive, the germ of the son. If God has existed from eternity, why may not that stream of human life have existed from eternity?
Because that stream, as we very well know, is a stream which has been measured out into definite periods of duration. This, had the stream been eternal, would have been impossible. The successive generations form a series of finite terms; and such a series, as we have shown, cannot be infinite, except in theory. The number of terms actually realized, must be finite. The series, then, had a beginning. There was a first man; and as no other adequate cause can be assigned for his existence, there must be a God, who made him.
THE UTILITY OF COLLEGIATE AND PROFESSIONAL SCHOOLS.
An Address in behalf of the Society for the Promotion of Collegiate and Theological Education at the West; delivered in Tremont Temple, Boston, May 29, 1850. By Edwards Aasa Park, Abbot Professor in the Andover Theological Seminary.
It is a stale proverb that Ignorance is the mother of Devotion, but the true apothegm is that Devotion is one parent of Knowledge. There is an inherent affinity between science and virtue. God has joined them together, and although man has often put them asunder, yet the disquiet which ensues from their divorce is a sign that nature demands their union. Hence we find, that nearly all the universities of the Christian world have been founded by the clergy and for their use. The oldest colleges in our land were for a long time regarded and conducted as the schools of the church. Of the hundred and twenty colleges now existing among us, a large majority are under evangelical influence, and their paramount design is to furnish able defenders of the Christian faith. Accordingly, a pious man feels an interest well nigh personal in these institutions, and in our forty-two Theological Seminaries; nor, as the spirit of his religion is in sympathy with all learning, can he fail of a kindly regard for our thirty-five Medical Schools, where are to be trained those who ought to be spiritual physicians, and in our twelve Law Schools, where are to be edu
They are Monuments to the Worth of Mind.
cated those who ought to defend the laws of God. With the persuasion, therefore, that all good and thinking men will desire to strengthen the alliance between knowledge and piety, between the institutions of learning and the church of the Most High, I beg leave to say a few words on the benefits resulting from our collegiate and professional schools. And in the first place, these schools are monuments to the dignity and worth of mind. This dignity and worth must be respected, or the doctrines and forms of Puritanism will not be loved. These doctrines and forms require a taste for intellectual statements; for pure, naked truth. Hence they encourage a style of thinking and writing which fails to interest men of mere flesh. Our clergy, not being priests but moral teachers, must depend for their influence, under God, upon their spiritual cultivation; and, giving themselves wholly to their work, they must rely for their maintenance, not so much on rich benefices as upon the will of the people; and unless the people revere their own inward, more than their outward nature, they will give no adequate support to an intellectual ministry.
But one fault of both our age and our nation is, an excessive devotedness to material interests. The inestimable advantages of our exuberant soil, our singularly threaded navigation, and our variegated extent of country are combined with peculiar temptations to avarice. Large masses of our population have immigrated hither for the avowed purpose of acquiring wealth. Not even the original discoveries of Mexican and Peruvian gold enticed so many devotees of Mammon to the enchanted ground, as have been allured to it by the disclosures of our modern Ophir. Hence results a danger, that we shall become more and more intoxicated with a passion for ceiled houses and splendidly caparisoned horses, for goblets and vases of curiously wrought metal; and that our favorite studies will be those most immediately subservient to the processes of the mechanic. Far be it from us to depreciate the arts of metallurgy and engineering, but with our researches into the organism of matter we, above all men, need to combine the humanities of the schools. Amid the whirl of our locomotives, and the jangle of our machinery, and the noisy working of our political system, we feel a repose and a refreshment in merely looking upon the walls of an institution devoted to a quiet, spiritual discipline. They are a memento that the value of money is computed by some of our citizens according to its moral, even if they be intangible uses.
The young men of a republic are apt to be impatient of control, and therefore need the hints and the dictatorship of a college bell. They are apt to be restless for public action, and therefore need the
"four years" confinement to a severe, exact and comprehensive study. They are apt to be opinionated and wilful, and therefore need the friction of class-debates, the subduing operation of college law, the singularly republican influences of college society, where the distinction of merit absorbs that of birth or wealth. Apart from the study which our learned schools demand, they are associated with nameless and numberless incidents which discipline a student without his knowing it. His excrescences of character are worn away by his intercourse with teachers and classmates, by his experiences in the recitation room and on the platform, the occurrences of his sophomore and freshman year. The very contact with college walls has an abrading effect, which no one can fully analyze. In many particulars he may surpass all other men, but in some particulars a selftaught, must be an untaught man; for he has not been overawed by the authority, nor regaled by the reminiscences, of those institutions which are both intended and fitted to remind us of the treasures lying hid in the soul. The man who, like our own Williston, consecrates his silver and gold to the development of these treasures, honors himself by thus offering up money to the service of mind. He will be remembered when mere theological pugilists lie forgotten in their narrow graves. We name it to the praise of Dr. Calamy, Dr. Bentley, Dr. Halley, Dr. Burnet, Sir Richard Steel and Sir Isaac Newton, that they made donations of books to Yale College. Dr. Watts gave a pair of globes to it; he performed many forgotten acts of philanthropy, but this gift will continue to be recorded as a memorial of him, not less than of the school which he distinguished. If Napoleon, instead of melting up the cannon of Austerlitz into a column for signalizing his exploits, had endowed some liberal institute for the right education of his people, he would have raised a monument to the worth of the soul which would also have perpetuated his own fame. We speak of Alexander as the Great, chiefly because he lavished his treasures upon the Stagirite, and thus bequeathed a rich boon to the mind of his posterity. The name of Maecenas is remembered not so much for his martial or his convivial virtues, as for making his wealth subservient to the mental garniture of a Virgil and a Horace. We know but little of Ambrose, the Alexandrian Gnostic, but we hold him in lasting reverence because we know that he was the patron of Origen, that he published the works of that father, and nurtured the tree of which the Hexapla was the fruit. A rational utilitarian can easily perceive that to enrich a seminary of learning, especially of sacred learning, that learning which does not immediately minister to the comfort of the body, which is not directly