Youth's Magazine,  8 (1835), 44–47.

"Take Heed How Ye Hear"



Short Fiction, Dialogue


Vulcanology, Geology, Scientific Practitioners, Truth, Immaterialism, Reading, Astronomy, Wonder, Scientific Practitioners, Status, Expertise, Experiment, Light, Physiology, Biblical Authority

    Edward's father seeks to correct his disposition 'to contend for the minor points in religion' at the expense of attending to his salvation (44). Gives as an analogy the idea that a geologist might continue to examine the strata on the side of Mount Etna while every sign suggested an imminent eruption. Quotes from Newton: 'I do not know [...] what I appear to others, but I compare myself to a boy seated on the sea-shore, busily employed in collecting shells, and in selecting those he considers of peculiar value. Thus have I been employed all my life, while the great ocean of truth lay undiscovered before me' (45). Edward has been studying his Bible. His father asks him: 'Do you believe that you are a compound being, composed of body and soul, and can you comprehend the union existing between them?', to which Edward replies that it is 'quite a mystery'. Edward's father asks him if he believes the surprising discoveries in astronomy which they have been reading about. 'Why, father,' Edward replies, 'we have no reason to doubt the testimony of such men of science as Sir John, and Sir William Herschell, and others, when it is corroborated by experiments'. Edward's father also asks him if he believes what he has recently read about the nature of light and the physiology of sight, which Edward does, since it is 'recorded upon good authority'. His father charges him with inconsistency in accrediting the testimony of fellow mortals while being 'disposed to reject a revelation from above' because some parts of it are beyond the limits of his comprehension. (46) He recommends that Edward pray for enlightenment on points of scripture which he finds beyond his comprehension.

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