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they are so far justly liable to the censure expressed, and which was designed by the author for other plans and efforts, in their nature of such an unhappy tendency. The remarks referred to may also excite profitable reflection and inquiry whether, while our exertions for the intellectual and moral improvement of the mass of the children of the ignorant and irreligious portions of the community are not remitted, but prosecuted with increased vigor, more direct attention should not be given to the parents of such children, that the order, and thus more effectually the reality, of the divine prediction may be secured, 'He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers and thus ' make ready a people prepared for the Lord.'
The volume which it is the object of these remarks to introduce to the American public is a very able discussion of a most important subject, nowhere else, within my knowledge, treated in the same radical and thorough manner. It is eminently adapted to be useful; and I cannot but hope that it will be highly acceptable, especially to those sustaining the solemn and weighty responsibilities of the parental relation.
B B. WISNER.
Boston, May, 1834
Some individuals, who have professed to look deeply into the structure of human society, tell us that analogy has much in store for man; because, though it is not infallible, it is that powerful engine or telescope of the mind, by which it is marvellously assisted in the discovery of both physical and moral truth. The great expectations which are entertained, they would found upon the extraordinary discoveries which have been made in physics, under the guidance of analogy: that powerful engine, they say, in the mind of a Newton, having discovered to us the laws of other worlds; and in that of Columbus, having put us in full possession of our own. "Shallsome discoveries in physics," it has then been said, " be so important as to produce a complete revolution in society, and others so powerful, that the very inventors of them have not as yet dared to apply them; and shall not discoveries in morals be allowed a still more paramount and universal influence—an.influence the greater in proportion as matter is inferior to mind 1" Under the influence of these anticipations, says the same individual, " I foresee the period when some new and parent idea in morals, the matrix of a better order of things, shall reconcile us more completely to God, to nature, and to ourselves."
Between discoveries in physics, and, what have been called, morals, there is, unquestionably, one strong analogy—that they are new only to its; all such discoveries being merely the observation of what has been true, from the beginning of the creation. To this parent idea in morals, therefore, many will not object, if it is shown to be older than the ages of nations and cities, and if it involves nothing more than what has been already revealed by God in his word; just as all discoveries in physics, though not sooner observed, acquire peculiar interest from the conviction, that the same objects had been before the eyes of all preceding generations. At the same time, never let it be forgotten that there is one material distinction between, not only the investigation, but the effects of discovery, in physics and in morals. Discoveries in the former are often nattering to human vanity, and conducive to the comfort or convenience of this transitory life only. Morals, if they deserve the name, carry us above the starry firmament, and point beyond the grave; and in morals, since man has thrown off his allegiance to God, any discovery, if we may so speak, must be expected, not only to remind him of his apostacy, or rebellious disposition, but to be resisted by all the vicious propensities of our nature; and before it can meet with a practical attention, it must be accompanied or followed by an influence from above—precisely the same quarter from whence the Revelation of God itself has come.
Yes, all the discoveries which man can make, or expect, in morals, are already before his eye, in the pages of divine revelation; and although "he who believes the Scripture to have proceeded from Him who is the Author of Nature, may well expect to find the same sort of difficulties in it, as are found in the constitution of nature ;"« still he will tell you, that, as the Sun and the Moon have been apparent from the beginning, to every man endowed with eyesight, so there are cardinal truths in the firmament of divine revelation, to which every enlightened mind, in all ages, has cordially subscribed. But, oh! were Christians, under the power of a docile spirit, only once brough' to bestow but the same patience of research on that blessed Book, which the astronomer, and naturalist, or geologist, have done upon the world of Nature, then would they serve their generation with superior effect indeed, and leave discoveries behind them too, which their successors might follow up, when even these heavens, and this earth were no more. The discovery of only one fixed star interests the world, and points the telescope
to the same spot, in every land where it is known to be visible; but Christians in general, though living under a finer light, and placed in more favorable circumstances, are, alas! yet far from discovering, as they ought, a deeper and more general sympathy for discovery, in their appropriate sphere of research. When that day arrives, and arrive it will, benefits will accrue to man, infinitely superior to any which have resulted, from the most splendid secret that has ever been evolved from the firmament of heaven, or the bowels of the earth; and then will men say— "Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name." Meanwhile, such a spirit, if regulated by appropriate reverence, and caution, and patience, or, as the Scriptures themselves would express it, in one word, by the 'fear of the Lord,' would certainly lead to farther discovery of the ' hidden wonders ' in divine revelation; which, even after all that have been observed, seem to be still as numerous as the stars of heaven. Then, too, would many a Christian find it not impossible to give various instances in proof, " that as the north star, though it be less luminous than many others, yet, by reason of its position, doth better guide the pilot than even the moon herself; so are there some texts in Scripture which, though less conspicuous in themselves, are, by reason of their relation to a context, more instructive than other more radiant passages."*
Should any reader, then, be in pursuit of this " parent idea in morals, this matrix of a better order of things," let him feel no disappointment, though he should hear both philosophy and ethics say, it is not in us—or human sagacity, it is not in me; for, after all, perhaps he may find it within the narrow compass of a single human dwelling, where the Parent has lived from the beginning. And what if this parent idea should have been unfolded, with force and perspicuity, in what God himself hath said, respecting this singular little group of immortal beings 1 At all events, notwithstanding their many imperfections, by the time that the reader has finished these pages, perhaps he will agree with the writer, that, however slender the analogy, when once the analogy which does exist, between this small and unpretending Domestic Constitution and the Divine Government
* The Honorable Robert Boyle.
itself, is more deeply studied, and habitually regarded, we shall then, and not till then, be more completely reconciled to God, to nature, and ourselves.
In the present age, much has been said, and perhaps as much written, respecting improvements in 'Society, with comparatively but slender reference to the neglect of Parental Obligations, and the consequent abatement of Parental Authority—evils for which, by the will of God, Parents alone are responsible, and which they alone can rectify or remove. Every inquiry into faction and disorder, degeneracy in morals and increase of crime, must, of necessity, prove essentially defective, which does not embrace them, and the fulfilment or neglect of their obligations; for to whatever other expedients men may betake themselves, it is from the Parents, as such, themselves alone, over the broad surface of a city or a nation, that the restorative or remedy is to be sought and found.
Institutions may be formed in aid of tneir neglect, and an artificial state of society may, for a time, seem to be very pleasing, more especially since it is of man's devising; but however kind in its intention, and benevolent in its aspect, all such aid will, in the end, only increase the appetite for help, where help is noxious, whenever it exceeds advice and warning.
Christianity, in its progress, it is true, has, in every land, whether civilized or savage, to fight every inch on its way; but still it comports with enlightened and impartial observation, that in the degeneracy or neglect of domestic duty, and the relaxation of parental authority, we see the most certain tokens of a nation approaching the brink of ruin, and the day of just retribution.
Before this neglect and relaxation, the huge monuments of commercial enterprise and art, the luxurious plenty of refined life, and the substantial enjoyments of all inferior ranks, will be swept away. Education as such, if by this is meant purchased tuition, of whatever description, or improvements in education, could not save such a people. The School of Learning and the School of Arts must prove alike in vain. The bands of human society, which no human legislation can supply, and for which human sagacity, at its full stretch, can devise no expedient, are, in such a case, loosened. What then, though everything which can more speedily enlighten the infant mind, or regulate the more