Imágenes de páginas

of life are constantly multiplying. The humblest cottage of the present day a few centuries ago would have been a palace for a king; and nobles would have coveted the dress which peasants are now ashamed to wear. Thought was once communicated orally, and to the happy possessors of the gift of speech nothing further seemed necessary. But soon communications must be made to those whom the voice could not reach, and rude symbols were carved upon the bark of trees. Science next analyzed the spoken language, and invented representatives of sounds, and the world rejoiced over the acquisition. Then a tablet of wax or stone or metal or the Egyptian papyrus was the material of which books were made. A single copy of the sacred scriptures on parchment cost almost the labor of a life. Now the common laborer can purchase a Bible, far excelling that parchment scroll in beauty and utility, with the wages of half a day. Then the human hand, by a slow, laborious process, supplied the world with literature. Now men employ the complicated apparatus of moveable type and stereotype and steam power presses, of which one can multiply books faster than all the scribes that Judea ever furnished, employed together. Nor will there be any end to improvement until thought shall be communicated as readily as it is formed.

Such advancement is secured not by increasing the amount of labor, but by giving proper direction to that labor and by increasing its power. Since Adam, destitute of science and of art, left Eden, the efficiency of labor has been increased a hundred-a thousand fold. One man with present facilities can accomplish in the great business of production and manufacture what a thousand untutored men could not then accomplish, yet there never was an hour when such improvements were going on more rapidly than they are at present.

All these facts indicate that the productive power of man is capable of endless extension, and that that extension must be secured by constant progress in science. Every discovery in science, and every contribution of science to the useful arts lengthens the laborer's arm and strengthens his hand. It multiplies the acres which constitute his farm and deepens the soil from which he derives his living, and speeds the plough which lays it open to the sun and air. Thus the world is constantly becoming larger, and the power of man individually and collectively is increasing. Invidious comparisons are often instituted between the degenerate specimens of humanity. which the world at present affords and the giant patriarchs of

[ocr errors]

the olden time. Grant that their lives were extended through eight or ten centuries, and that their stature was "six cubits and a span❞—they were mere pigmies compared with the present race. The weakest mortal aided by the powers of modern civilization would be an object of greater admiration to the antediluvians, than Methusaleh or Goliath would be to us. He would be more dreaded as a foc, and more desired as a friend. He could control the entire ancient world with the case with which the man controls the child. If man's power had waned as his years and his physical strength have diminished, the race would long since have become extinct. But the present diminutive human frame, directed by an enlightened mind, tames monsters in earth and air, which it was once supposed could be controlled only by an Almighty hand. Other conquests remain to be achieved, and science is the magic wand which brings Nature with her exhaustless resources to minister to man's wants. The point is too plain to need illustration or argument: the physical prosperity, nay, the absolute existence of the race depends upon continued progress in the sciences.

But there are other facts which necessitate the same conclusion. The efficiency of human labor depends upon the development of the human mind, independently of the applications of science to the arts of life. Select the man whose intellectual powers are most fully developed-whose soul is most fully expanded, and other circumstances being the same, his efforts will tell most effectually in whatever he lays his hand to. Labor is efficient in proportion to the motive which produces it. Those motives are increased as the wants and susceptibilities of the laborer multiply. Let him have simply a desire for food and he will labor to supply that want. When his object is accomplished his labor ceases. Add to him the need of clothing, and his labor will be increased to meet the necessity. If he must have a shelter in addition, additional labor is called for and secured. Develope the domestic tendencies-give him a companion and children who depend upon him for all they are to experience of present and perhaps of future good, and you nerve his hand to mightier achievements. The labor which was a burden before becomes comparatively a pleasure. It is easy and agreeable in proportion to the good which it secures. Let that family advance in cultivation and refinement until comforts become ǹecessaries, and new incentives to labor are added. Give them a desire for scientific and religious instruction, and they will

procure the means, if labor can procure them. Give them a taste for the pleasures resulting from a cultivation of the fine arts, and instruments of music and paintings will adorn their dwellings and cheer their leisure hours. Open their minds to the claims of benevolence, and the highest incentive to labor is secured. Where do we look for efficient labor? Not to the vegetative Esquimaux, whose loftiest aspiration, as he creeps from his ice-walled hut, is for a surfeit of seal's flesh and whale oil. Not to the wandering Tartar, whose home is on wheels and whose country is the place where he tarries for the night. Not to the plantation slave, whose soulless frame moves at another's will, and labors for the gratification of another's desire. We look to those whose minds and hearts are cultivated-who have become conscious of their exalted nature and destiny-who are bound to existence by a thousand ties-who are led onward and upward by cvery object without and by every impulse within.

The labor of the brute is secured when his body is in the best condition; for whatever of soul he has seems to exist for no other end than to sustain the body. Furnish him food and shelter, and he is your servant for all the purposes which can be accomplished by brute labor. In the human species the order is reversed. The mind takes precedence. The body may be well fed, well clothed, and well sheltered; but if the mind is not attended to, all is wrong. You may secure existence, and a mechanical, tread-mill motion. But treadmill work is not the sort for which men were designed. For such aimless and unmeaning effort, brutes were given us, and wind and water and steam and electricity. Intelligent labor is too precious to be thus squandered. But to secure intelligent labor, attention must be given to the soul from which it originates. Proper aliment must be furnished it, and a high development of its powers and susceptibilities secured. For this purpose the universe is given and power to comprehend its motions and its laws. For this, literature and science flourish, and the arts by which they are extended. If literature and science had no higher end than to give efficiency to labor by developing the powers of the laborer, by quickening his susceptibility to pleasure and to pain, by multiplying the objects of desire, thus adding impulse to action, the time and talent and energy devoted to them would be an economical investment.

He is not an intelligent friend of man who would diminish his wants. In proportion as those wants multiply, he rises in

[ocr errors]

the scale of being, and his power in every department of ef fort increases in the same ratio. No tendency of his physical or moral nature should be eradicated, unless to give room to a nobler impulse. Here is the true principle of Christian retrenchment. Aim not to remove poverty and to diffuse blessings by diminishing the objects for which men labor. Develope every human soul to its highest capacity for enjoyment-open all the channels by which good can flow in from earth and heaven, and you have done your duty. It is not in accordance with scripture or philosophy to "muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn."

[ocr errors]

But science aids the physical arts by lending another charm to labor. It reveals the mysterious operations which are constantly taking place in the great laboratory of Nature. It gives the laborer an insight into the history and laws of the objects with which he has to do. There is no reason why a part of the enthusiasm with which the natural sciences are pursued, may not be transferred to Agriculture, and to many of the mechanic arts. There is enough of interest connected with every acre of this green earth, to occupy one's life time, and it may be his eternity. When the eyes of the laborer are opened to these objects, he finds himself in a new world. The drudgery of his employment is greatly relieved. Every plant, and every insect, and every pebble, has its peculiar history. Every bird and every leaf, every flower and every fruit, affords him interest and instruction. He studies nature's hieroglyphics, and gathers richer lessons than ever antiquarian spelt from Egyptian obelisk or Rosetta stone. For this source of enjoyment, for this stimulus to labor, Science claims his gratitude. He has not opportunity himself for much original investigation. The great facts are elaborated by those who have made science their business for life. Thus these facts become available to the mass of men. Truths which Newton grasped after years of earnest toil, are familiar as household words, throughout civilized society; and form a part of the furniture of every mind. Facts which are now the playthings of children, have been dug by giant intellects from the depths of nature; and simple as they may now seem, they would have lain buried forever, but for the talent and effort that penetrated their hiding place. Science must flourish, or the laborer must pursue his dark and solitary way, a stranger in a strange land. He can meet no familiar object, nor understand the voices which daily greet his ear. Angels may whisper in every breeze,

and God may call him from every burning bush, but with neither eyes to see nor ears to hear, he gathers his daily food, as stupid as the brute that crops the lawn. Such labor, and such laborers will never gladden the solitary place, nor cause the desert to rejoice and blossom as the rose.

The thoughts that have been presented, apply chiefly to the physical sciences. Moral science has done as much for the world, even in a physical point of view; and this is the only bearing of science we are now considering. Labor is efficient where there is a free government and a pure Christianity. The mind must be free from the shackles of superstition and despotism, or we secure only the power and energy of slaves. Relieve the countries of Asia from these chains, and they would rise; nothing could prevent them. Civil and religious oppression have kept them in a state of fixedness for a thousand years. Labor makes no progress -secures no new advantages. The elasticity of the mind seems to have been lost under such long continued pressure, and there is an absolute necessity of help from without to throw off the burden. Western Civilization will be called to

the rescue.

Those nations now have little more to do with the events which interest the world, than if they had no existence. What a waste of power! In that vast grave the great mass of human mind is sunk. But why are we thus favored? What has given us the pre-eminence? A better government

-a spiritual religion. Yet in Asia, religion was first given to man. There heaven and earth have been brought nearest each other. There the patriarchs, the prophets, and the apostles lived, and there the Savior died. Its rivers, and mountains, and deserts, have been rendered sacred by the visits of angels and the presence of God. The idea of government first found a lodgment there. There society first took form, and civilization began. While the western world has been advancing, why has there been no progress there? It is not our purpose to attempt a full explanation of the reasons, but it may not be presumption to suggest one link in the chain of causes. There has been no lack of physical science, nor of the arts to which science gives birth. We still look to those nations for many of our choicest manufactures, and we have received from them the rudiments of our sciences. They have a literature more voluminous than that of any modern nation-if we can measure literature by its volume. But where is their Moral Science? Where is

« AnteriorContinuar »