Page images
PDF
EPUB

Author renews it every moment. If to be filled continually with working energy makes anything new, gravitation is new, and all the forces of the material kingdom are new. However this may be, and whatever that part of time may be called which reaches through the morning of ages, this now opening is new time.

It is proper to allude to new discoveries and new inventions. It is not our purpose, however, in this article to consider their number and extent. If it were, where should we begin and where end? New discoveries! take these out of the sciences, and what would be left? The "Year Book" is crowded with their record. A knowledge of the form of the earth, and of its place in the solar system is not old. Civilized man has gone nearer the north pole in body and further into space by demonstration, within the last few years, than at any former time. Islands now swim and planets roll clearly in human vision which were never there before. It is new to translate the language of steam; not until recently could it tell any man what it wanted to do. Electricity has gone into new business, with humanity for an assistant and the recipient of its fortune. Geology has been numbered among the sciences, where it has wrought wonders, during the present century. "And the annals of Chemistry show us how a science may be founded on rigid principles, and be developed to maturity and work the most surprising revolutions in the arts and whole practical life of men, within the limits of a single generation."

New inventions! Get outside of them, and what do we find? The mariner's compass, and the art of printing are modern inventions. The fire-engine is new. Gas-light is new. The successful applications which are annually made at the patent office in this country, are to be counted by hundreds, and sometimes by thousands. Noticing our patent office report for 1855, when more then four thousand applications for patents were made and over two thousand patents were granted, a reviewer gives us the following: "Here we have a stout volume full of all manner of machines for splitting, carving, boring, plaining, polishing,-wheels within wheels, levers, pulleys, cranks and crotchets innumerable. Here is a machine for everything from slaughtering hogs to saving human life. There are inventions in domestic utensils; in the arts polite, fine and ornamental; in the 6

VOL. XIX.

implements of war and the instruments of peace; in the surgeon's tools and the tailor's modes of fashioning wearing apparel. They have actually invented a machine for pulling off pantaloons. We hear from over the water of a ciphering machine or Arithmemeter,' capable of performing arithmetical operations from the simplest to the most complicated a sort of mechanical Safford, a wonderful calculator in brass, instead of flesh and blood."

6

[ocr errors]

When, till recently, was a city like New York, with its surroundings, known to grow from a town of moderate size in fifty years? It formerly required centuries to accomplish such things. It is new to find "lost arts "-as new a matter as it is to discover a star, or as ever was the creation of arts. The philosophy of history is believed to be a product of the last half century. Schools for the masses are modern. Newspapers are young. A reading people could not be found a hundred years ago. We are said to understand the Greeks and Romans better than they understood themselves. The, wealth of the world is no longer trusted with here and there an individual; it is borne now by millions of our race, and each one is enriched with its treasures, and is lifted up and strengthened by his associates. There have been benevolent persons in all ages. Mahomet insisted on the necessity of alms giving. He declared that one tenth of a man's income, whatever it was, belonged to the poor. But charitable institutions; wise modes of treating the insane, and of improving idiots; asylums and means of education for the deaf, dumb and blind, are all new and for the most part less than fifty years old.

We must not pass this branch of the subject without allusion to the shadows which fall across the earth. It cannot be denied that the world is still darkened with want, ignorance and crime. Weakness, guilt and woe get into every phase of society. Sin expresses itself in new forms; and it sends out fresh armies to fight and kill. These show their front and heel in the face of knowledge, virtue, civil and religious refinement and liberty; and seem the more awful by reason of such contact. Whatever the faith of different persons concerning the final result of these struggles of evil and good, the most hopeful of our race are forced to pause and consider whither, at this moment, humanity is drifting. To them the question returns, "What of the

night?" And they say, "The morning cometh; and also the night."

But whether individual and national experience slopes upward or downward, at any particular time, whether it goes backward or forward, all life is new. Whatever of science, whatever of art, whatever of history, biography and poetry, whatever of nature and truth, the present draws out of the past, becomes a part of itself. If mankind have ever been original, they have been original within the last fifty years, and they are so now. With the same powers of body and mind, the same lessons around them, and similar trials to meet, mankind should be expected to think, feel, and act, very much alike. They were made to do this, and they will do it when truly educated. Yet every man who thinks, feels and acts for himself, is original. If all the scholars in the world should read and study the same books, every one would read and study each book for himself. The same discoveries are sometimes made, and the same truths freshly and in like manner stated, in different parts of the world, at the same time. Is there but one original party in cases like these? And every where and always the deepest and the highest things we know, fall and rise in the common heart of humanity, one ocean of life. All life is new. Every meal that is prepared, every dress which is fitted, every step of the farmer, every blow of the mechanic, every movement of the trader, every motion of the human body, produces fresh exercise. Every appropriation that man makes of those inherited blessings which help physical existence, and every addition or improvement he makes to these, gives to his facIulties play they have not had, and to outward being generally relief it has not known; they strengthen the life of the actor, and they take off layer after layer of those burdens which crush the common body of our race, preparing it to rise above them. Man looks out of a temple that he has occupied but a short time, into a universe of which he has seen only a little. As soon as his eyes are fairly open, and his heart really beats, every season, every storm and calm, every sunrise and sunset is new to him. He may repeat his journeys over land and seas, his communings with the old philosophers and masters, his readings of the world's struggles and the soul's hieroglyphics, his converse with the child and with the aged, his feelings of love for his race and

for his God, as often as he will, and never shall he do any of these without new advantages and new thrills of joy. Ascending into the light, man's ideas of wealth, fame and learning continually change. Seeking to follow a truth in all its relations, he wanders back and forth, refreshed at every step with its glories, but finds no end. Trying to discuss a principle, he fails of holding his ideal long enough to record it; now it is clear and close to him, then it veils itself and passes away; now he becomes almost sure of his prize, but in a moment more it has gone; and after doing his best, he presents hardly an outline of what he has felt. Life in every possible manifestation reaches the infinite nerve. They who take hold and keep hold of every truth will be drawn to the skies, and their view will become more and more wide and more and more varied the higher they ascend.

There is much that is common in our time which we should not care to designate as old or new. Fashions, which rest on nothing and complete their circles every few years, are neither old nor new. Notions of reform, too, that will not bear the test of truth; ideas of progress which lead away from the central orb of light; dreams of life which are never equalled in man's waking hours,-are outside the realm of present thought. They are incidental and accidental. Only out of the eternal fountain can fresh blood flow.

doomed life old goodness hath;"

66

Moving in this,

"the world is gray

With morning light!"

When young men attempt to go in opposition to abiding laws, they grow old very fast. When old men move in obedience to these laws, they renew their strength day by day, until, with a single step, they pass into glory.

We shall not soon learn all that has been in the world; nor all that will be. We do not know all that is old, nor do we suppose there can be nothing new beyond what now We understand that islands sink and islands rise; that old elements of society die and new elements of society become practical. We believe there are old things that are in no sense new, and new things which are in no sense old. Still much that is new to us was new to

many who lived long ago; and much which is old to us. becomes new by use. By far the greatest and most essential parts of the old pass directly into the new; by far the greatest and most essential parts of the new rise out of the old. In nature and in life, the old is the basis of the new; and the new is the appropriation of the old.

---

The special illustration of our theme is man, — who while extorting the secrets from the earth, the air, and sky, building his temples, filling his galleries, and creating his libraries, is continually exhibiting new energies of bodily endurance, and finding new treasures in the mind..

C. R. M.

ART. V.

The Divine Power in Salvation.

DISCUSSIONS on the subject of the final salvation of all men from sin, never-at least in the present day-turn upon any interpretation of the willingness or even the purpose of God to save all. The divine goodness showing itself in a desire and intention to save all, is substantially conceded by all parties. The argument always hinges upon certain notions of the Divine power. It is, indeed, conceded that the power of God is infinite, but not unqualified. It can act with infinite force only in a prescribed way. And as respects a human soul, the prescribed way is determined by the nature of this soul-the essential laws which govern its action. The soul is free; and this is saying, that the soul cannot be coerced. Infinite power cannot work impossibilities—cannot contradict the nature of things; and to allege that a human soul can be forced, is to allege an impossibility in the nature of things.

We propose a brief consideration of the point here implied -the Divine power as exhibited in controlling, in saving a free soul. We are confident that there is a popular mistake as to the nature of Divine power itself-Divine power in its

« PreviousContinue »