Page images
PDF
EPUB

No hand but his, Father, could keep it in tune a single moment. True, Frank. The heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land, present innumerable wonders to the contemplative eye; but, in some points of view, we find in the human frame, "diviner wonders still." And yet we have only referred to the body: the mind is the noblest part of man; it is this which distinguishes and exalts him above all other creatures; and of this we have said nothing.

But some of the creatures, Father, exhibit extraordinary instances of sagacity. You often admire our Pompey on this account; and then, there was the elephant which we saw among the collection of wild beasts; you said that you was very much astonished at all he knew and did.

I was. But none of the animals are for a moment to be compared with man: the instances in which he is their superior, are innumerable.

Will you name a few of them, Father?

I will, Frank. Pompey is pleased, on a winter evening, to lie down by the parlor fire. There, you know, in the day-time, he has often slept till the fire has gone out. He never fetches a clump of wood in from the pile, to renew it, when it is low did you ever see him do this?

:

No, Father. But don't you think that a monkey would do this?

No, Frank; travellers who have gone through the woods of America, tell us, that when they leave a fire, monkeys and other animals will crowd round it; but none of them perpetuate it by putting on more fuel. We may also remark, that many animals are fond of corn and nuts; yet they never formed a plantation, or sowed any fields. Even the elephant possesses but a very contracted degree of intelligence. For example; he is fond of the sugar cane; he will readily expose his life to procure it; but in the immense territories he occupies, he never formed an acre into a sugar ground, and no one could teach him the art of cultivation.

You remarked, too, the other day, that the animals never make any improvement.

They do not, Frank. The most sagacious of them never make any discoveries. The present generations of cows, or horses, or fowls, do not know any thing more than the first which were created. None of the brute creation ever made a steam vessel, or any thing resembling one. None of them ever sailed round the world, or communicated their ideas and reflections, as our Milton has sublimely done, in his Paradise Lost. O, no. Man has a spirit capable of knowing and loving the blessed God. His

thoughts rise to the heavens; they wander through eternity; they anticipate a state of unutterable enjoyment, in the blissful presence of God for ever.

CONVERSATION XII.

THE GOODNESS OF GOD.

BISHOP BUTLER, Father, calls the world a "mighty ruin ;" does not this seem to take away from God's goodness, since we must regard him as destroying the works of his hands?

By no means, Frank; it affords a display of his infinite love to what is right, of his hatred to what is wrong, and of the awful nature of his displeasure; but it is no proof of his want of goodness. When a magistrate orders a criminal to be punished, no one thinks that he is wanting in goodness; so far from it, that every reflecting mind would regard him as wanting in goodness, if he were not to act in this manner. Would he be good, who should exempt the most abandoned criminals from punishment, and set them at liberty, to destroy the best interests of society?

Certainly not, Father. But is there any proof that God destroyed the former world for its crimes?

Yes the Bible presents you with manifold proofs of the truth of the assertion. On the very first view of the subject, we might be sure that this was the case. We

know that God is a good and kind Being we are, therefore, sure that he would not have destroyed any part of his works without ample reason: and what reason can we even imagine so probable, as the inexcusable rebellion of his creatures against his rightful and paternal authority? There is a well drawn comparison, Frank,in Gisborne's Natural Theology, which, if I recollect right, will admirably illustrate my meaning. Fetch me the volume.

Here it is. 66 Suppose a traveller, penetrating into regions which were unknown to him, suddenly to find himself on the confines of a city lying in ruins. Suppose the desolation to afford manifest proof that it was not effected by the mouldering hand of time, but has been the result of design and of violence. Dislocated arches, pendent battlements, interrupted aqueducts, towers undermined and subverted, while they record the primeval strength and magnificence of the structures, proclaim the determined purpose, the persevering exertions, with which force had urged forward the work of destruction. Suppose farther, that the stranger discovers a present-race of inhabitants, who have reared their huts amidst the wreck. He inquires the history of the scene before him. He is informed that the city, once distinguished by splendor, by

« PreviousContinue »