Youth's Magazine,  3rd ser. 5 (1832), 97–101.

Origin of the Soul's Ideas  [3/7]



Letter, Serial


Epistemology, Induction, Biblical Authority, Invention, Gravity, Aeronautics, Steam-power, Machinery, History of Science

    Attributes belief in innate ideas to speculation, and adopts the opposite view. Cites the view of 'our ministers' that there are 'three special fountains of knowledge;—the book of nature—the book of the world's experience—and the book of sacred scripture' (97). Considers the first to have 'supplied innumerable objects suited to the gratification of man's imitative genius' and to have 'thus contributed to the invention of useful arts. [...] Everywhere, indeed, art and science are only ingenious modifications of nature's exhibitions, and nature's laws'. Gives some examples of this. Observes that a 'falling acorn struck the forehead of a philosopher as he lay musing beneath the shadow of an ancient tree, and led him to infer that law of gravity which pervades the natural universe'. (98) Reviewing human history, observes that, among the ancient Greeks, 'Each philosopher, instead of exerting his diligence in searching for truth, used all his power to destroy every system except the one which his own fancy had induced him to adopt. In a similar state science passed through the hands of the Romans, and Saracens, and Britons, till Lord Bacon shone out like a bright, solitary star, to relieve the stormy and dark ages which had so long oppressed the genius of the world. This great man prepared the way for Locke and Boyle, and even Newton himself'. (99) Refers the reader to Douglas 1825. Observes that the Bible is the only sufficient source of information on subjects relating to God: 'I would not assert that the Divine Being is not displayed in his works; I mean only to say that till reason's eye is enlightened it cannot see him there. Let his word suggest his existence, and then, but not before, can reason discover his perfections in the splendid volume of the sky' (100). Believes that knowledge of religion ought to precede all other knowledge, and quotes Bacon in support of this: '"Thy creatures", says he, "have been my books, but thy scriptures much more. I have sought thee in the courts, field, and gardens; but I have found thee in thy temple"' (101).

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