Conversations at Carringford Lodge. No. VI. Why am I Here? [6/8]
R C, Penryn, pseud. [Richard Cope]
Serial, Short Fiction
Education, Reading, Piety, Natural History, Associationism, Feeling, Disease, Light, Natural Theology, Biblical Authority, Anatomy, Design, Providence, Immorality
The narrator describes the good effects which Mr Ravenstone's questions had on Edwin, 'who embraced every opportunity that reading and observation afforded, to add to his stock of knowledge'. By a systematic programme of reading, 'he found himself better acquainted with men and things, so that he could now converse with ease and freedom, and by conversation elicit from people of learning and attainments, a numerous body of facts'. His father was pleased to see 'that the sanctified knowledge of history and the sciences, instead of diminishing the love which the Christian feels to God, increases it, and enables him to perceive God in all things, and to find all things in God'. (344) On a walk, Mr Ravenstone is pleased to find Edwin 'deeply engaged in the study of the works of God, and wrapt in contemplation', and is pleased to see the 'habits of association' he has formed. They discuss the associations of a tall oak tree, and then discuss the different kinds of association. Mr Ravenstone gives an anecdote (from John Abercrombie's Inquiries Concerning the Intellectual Powers) of a woman whose recovery from typhus fever was aided by happy associations. He describes the mnemonic system of association used by Gregor von Feinaigle. He urges the importance of 'reflection', observing that to reflect 'is to throw back light, already received, not to originate or impart it; consequently, they err very seriously who think that they can find out God whilst He gives them no light to do it' (347). Refers back to an earlier discussion (see , YM3/10/6/2) on the inadequacy of natural reason, and the necessity of 'God's word and Spirit' to furnish religious light. Reflects on the power of God as manifested in human anatomy and other divine works. Edwin introduces reflections on divine providence, but Mr Ravenstone concludes the conversation by turning it to human sinfulness, observing: 'all subjects should be guided by a pious reflection into a holy and practical tendency. The very creation of the world will thus lead us to the new creation, the necessity of that new birth effected by the same author, and directed to the same end-his glory' (350).
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