Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

practices. The nature of man is perfect—is all that it should be, and every way calculated to make mankind perfectly happy. To be perfectly virtuous and happy, we have thercfore only to follow that nature; to do which, we must obtain a knowledge of that nature. This knowledge these Sciences furnish, and thereby constitute our only proper guide to virtue and happiness.

SECTION II.

To be great or good, a man must first become an excellent animal.

If man had been created a purely spiritual being without any body, this world, with all its adaptations to man—all its contrivances and facilities for promoting his happiness; the life-giving sun and health inspiring breeze; with the beautiful sky over our head and the limpid stream flowing at our feet; with the rain and the dew of heaven, and all the fruits and the bounties of prolific earth-would have been entirely unfit for his abode, as well as utterly useless lo him.

Or, if he had been merely a lump of lifeless matter, unendowed with life and soul, all his present capabilities for en. joyment would have had no existence. But, far from either, is the constitution of man. In order to secure the highest possible enjoyment of man, God has seen fit to compound his nature of both flesh and blood on the one hand, and of mind and soul on the other. Wonderful--the workmanship of a Gop!-is this combination of mind and matter, but in the highest degree promotive of human happiness.

Nor are these natures strangers to each other; but, so closely related is each to the other, by the action and reaction of certain physiological and phrenological laws, that every condition of each exerts a powerful and perfectly reci

procal influence upon the other. Indeed, all we know of mind in this world, we learn through the instrumentality of the body; and every advance of intellect, as well as all virtue. and vice, coincide with, and in part depend upon, corresponding physiological changes and conditions of the body. Thus, Intemperance, which consists solely in a physiological derangement, causes vice in almost every variety and aggravaLon of form; nor can a pure and holy mind dwell in a body soaked in liquor. That every given condition of either, induces a perfectly corresponding condition of the other, is a matter of daily and continual experience with every member of the human family. Thus, a clear, cold morning, or a heavy muzzy atmosphere, oppressive heat, &c., by throwing the body into different states, have directly opposite effects upon the mind. A high fever increases the feelings and mental manifestations; but hunger, fatigue, and bodily weakness, proportionally enfeeble them. Dyspepsia induces gloom, irritability, peevishness, and wretchedness of feeling, and totally reverses the character, converting friendship into misanthropy, and the blessings of hope into the bitterness of despair, and turning happiness into misery.

Physical inaction induces mental sluggishness; while bodily exercise clears the mental horizon of those clouds in which slothfulness or confinement envelopes it, producing a delightful flow of thought and feeling. Food and sleep, or their absence, affect the intellect and feelings powerfully, yet very differently; and a sufficient dose of arsenic produces death. Sickness enfeebles the mind, while health strengthens it; and

st of our constantly occurring changes of feeling and mental action are caused by the different states of the body. Experence has taught many of our ablest speakers and writers. to prepare their minds for vigorous effort, by practising abstinence. Alcoholic drinks operate upon the body, and through it, affect the mind. Certain kinds of food excite some of the animal passions, but other kinds increase our ability to think and study. The inspired Paul embodies this doctrine in the

x1, I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of Gd, that ye present 'your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God:" clearly implying, that purity of body

promotes holiness of mind; but that an inflamed or impure body, kindles the animal passions. Both the religious feelings and the talents are more affected by the various conditions of the body, and especially of the stomach-by food, drink, physical habits, sickness, health, &c.,--than most people suppose. Hence, fasting promotes piety; fulness of bread kindles sinful desires; inflammation of the brain produces insanity; and its inaction causes stupor, &c. When the pious Christian, or the profound thinker, has eaten too much, or induced a severe cold or fever, or in any other way clogged or disordered his bodily functions, the former can no more expect to be "clothed with the spirit," or to be borne upward on the wings of devotion, nor the latter to bring his mental energies into full and efficient action, than they can make the sun stand still, or the water to run upwards. "A strong mind in a healthy body," beautifully and forcibly expresses this truth, and also embodies the experience of past ages and of all mankind. In short, as soon may we question the evidence of our senses, as controvert the position that mind and body each powerfully and reciprocally affect the other; for every member of the human family constantly feels this truth.

Again: these relations between body and mind are governed by certain invariable laws of cause and effect, certain conditions of the one inducing and causing the corresponding states of the other. The principle, that whenever a part of a given class of phenomena are governed by laws of cause and effect, every phenomenon of that class is governed by these same laws, is a universal principle of nature, and may be relied upon in every conceivable application. If a part of the phenomena of vision be governed by the laws of optics, every phenomenon of vision experienced by man or brute since the creation, has been governed by the same laws. If a few bodily motions are caused by muscular contraction, all are caused by the same contraction. Should millions of daggers be driven through the hearts of as many human beings, they would in every instance, produce death. Let any or every member of the human family take opium, or its compounds, and one and all will experience its legitimate effects. These illustrations will apply to every law of nature. That

some of the relations existing between mind and body are governed by laws of cause and effect, is slef-evident therefie all'are equally so: and every condition of either, throws the other into its corresponding state. If in any one instance, a given condition of either body or mind causes, or is caused by, that of the other, then every state of either, causes, or is caused by, the corresponding conditions of the other. Either there exist no relations of cause and effect between the two, ore it is all cause and effect-all antecedent and consequent; for nature always makes thorough work, or does nothing.

Hence, we can at any time throw either mind or body into any desired state, by putting the other into its corresponding ote; and we can no more put either into any given state, wut thereby throwing the other into its corresponding one, than we can arrest the operation of any other law of naAnd since the brain is the instrument of thought and ferg, it's conditions influence the mind more powerfully than of all the other portions of the body united. To excite etler fienity or organ, is to excite the other; and as the stoma1 brain are intimately related, its state also powerfully Ads that of the mind.

[ocr errors]

Ts principle shows how to operate on mind, namely, by oper ding on the body-how to improve the mind, nam ly, by improving the body; how to study mind, namely, through its physical organ, the body. For centuries-ever since the en of man-mind has been studied, has been operated pendently of its organization, and without the least. refrence to it. The study of mind by means of those metai se systems that have bewilded and beclouded that ely ever since the days of Plato, and are still hanging like a zark cloud upon our falsely so called "seats of learning," Ar suited, never can result, in imparting a correct kowize of mind; while it is conceded on all hands, that

» Sense of Phrenology, in less than half a century, has enore for mental science than all that has ever been done fra bore since the mind has been made a subject of study.

• The very meaning of the term metaphysics, is beyond, independent of orses, it being compounded of the Greek preposition “meta,” beyond, pausis," nature.

chance? or how escape suffering by avoiding their violation? Truly,

"The chiefest study of mankind is man,

Our greatest knowledge is ourselves to know."

By knowing them we can follow them, and thus be gathering in, continually, all those rich clusters, those endless varieties, of the sweetest pleasures which a wise and gracious God has adapted and prepared our nature to yield; and escape all those direful consequences of their infraction which flood our world with sorrow and sighing. That it is possible to escape suffering, has already been demonstrated. That it is infinitely more easy to obey law and be perfectly happy, than to sin and suffer, is equally evident. The difficulty consists in living as we do.

Hic labor: hoc opus est.*

To live aright, and thereby to enjoy, is all down hill work, all plain sailing, all most delightful. To suppose that we must tug, and toil, and deny ourselves to live aright, is an error— whose father is bigotry, and whose mother is ignorance. To know how, is the one thing needful, the "pearl of great price." To obey these laws, men must know them. Ignorance is the parent of most of man's suffering. Men want knowledge. This is the first, the second, and the third instrument of reform. "Ignorance is the evil, knowledge the remedy;" and is it not surprising, that they whose sole profession and occupation is to impart this knowledge, should themselves be so almost totally ignorant-should be often the greatest sinners and sufferers-the blind leading the blind, and both upon the wrong track? To impart this knowledge, to reveal this secret, is the object of this work, and if it succeed, it will indeed accomplish a great work.

Another preliminary remark. That same Goodness and Wisdom which devised and instituted this system of laws, rewards, and punishments, has also apportioned the pleasures of obedience and the pains of disobedience, to the importance of the several laws. Life is the greatest of all blessings, and therefore the violation of the laws of life, is visited with the

*This is the labor, this the toil.

« AnteriorContinua »