« ElőzőTovább »
orchards and his gardenbarer and nearer approat fall save
and relations. As man multiplies and improves, as his wants increase, and his knowledge extends, larger harvests must be reaped. His cotton-fields and his pastures must expand; his sugar-plantations and his coffee-groves must have more room; his orchards and his gardens must be multiplied. In short, the soil must be tilled, with nearer and nearer approximation to its utmost capacity. For this, then, the forests must fall-save only as timber, after all that metal can substitute for land and sea-structures, has to be spared and cherished. All fuel above the earth's surface, for civilized men, is undoubtedly failing, and surely destined, at no distant day, to become utterly inadequate, if not altogether unused. How then shall extra-tropical human homes be warmed ? Food every where prepared ? Metal reduced and wrought? Steam generated for universal service? And adequate illumination secured, alike to cities, and multiplied rural dwellings, for the useful night hours of half the year, in all but the equatorial countries of the earth ?
The great problem has, for countless ages, been solved in the plans of Providence, and the answer laid by to be brought forth in the fore-seen day of need. Far back, in the unregistered cycles, e'er yet our steaming planet, in the solemin silence of its mighty journeying, had heard the sound of human voice, or even, it may be, the foot-fall of solitary quadruped, creative wisdom had called into being vast forests of resinous quality, and gigantic proportions. These, whatever ends subserving in those preparatory revolutions, when sufficiently accumulated for their after-purpose, were at length uptorn, gathered into huge masses, floated into great lake-beds, beds, covered with enormous deposits of earth and rock, and subjected to immense pressure, heat, and various adjusting force, till finally was fitly prepared and located, beneath the land's protecting surface, a system of coal-beds, absolutely exhaustless, in every quarter of the globe. A fuel, compact, accessible, convenient; demanding, indeed, skillful effort for its extrication, but even therein ministering to culture; and containing in such abundance the elements of brilliant flame, as to supply the best possible artificial illumination for every city and habitation on earth. Is there not something greatly won:
derful here? Man's benefit, comfort, improvement, education, planned, provided for, so many ages before he was born! For be it remarked, whatever general purposes, apart from man, the soils, and the metals, and other elements of nature may be alleged to serve, it can not be conceived that these vast deposits of coal look to any other end, than service to human creatures.
Now let the extent of this provision be borne in mind. From the beds of the British islands more than fifteen millions of tons are annually dug and consumed. Yet calculations, founded on the known thickness of seams and extent of their area, render it altogether likely that several thousand years of use, on so vast a scale, can not exhaust those beds. Throughout Europe, there is a similar supply. Belgium, and lIolland, France and Germany, have all their own productive mines; and the quantity in Russia surpasses estimate. One deposit in the western part of the Empire is nine hundred miles long. And another, along the western base of the Uralian mountains, twelve hundred miles long! The amount in China is probably unsurpassed by that in any other country, (Williams' Middle Kingdom, vol. i. p. 241.) In Australia the coal-formation also occurs in immense extent. The mineral is known to abound in Japan. And Dr. Livingstone recently reported the discovery of large deposits of excellent quality in the heart of Central Africa. South-America seems to be less furnished with the valuable material than any other portion of the world. Though in some places it has been found there also, (Hitchcock, Geol. of Gl., p. 58.) But the deficiency is much more than supplied by the enormous coal-measures of North-America. To mention no other, though large deposits are known in British America, in the Mississippi valley, and on the Pacific coast, the great Appalachian coalfield, extending from New York to Alabama, seven hundred and twenty miles long, covers nearly one hundred thousand square miles. "If we suppose the average thickness," says President Hitchcock, (Geol. of Gl., p. 93,)“ of all the beds to be fifty feet, (some single beds are so thick,) the whole amount in solid measure of the coal in the United States would be three million and a half of cubic miles! A quantity absolutely inconceivable, yet the calculation is certainly a moder
. 345 ate one. Whatever else, therefore, fails in the United States, her coal can never be exhausted."
Now when we contemplate this provision in its significance and its fullness, all over the earth, can we believe otherwise than that it is a divine preparation for the gradual diffusion, throughout the globe, of all the comfort, all the civilization, all the high culture, ultimately involved in fire and light, steam and maehinery, as these are directed by science, guided by skill, and plied with awakened and rewarded industry? When we think, too, of the solemn march of ages, during which this preparation has been reserved, while impressed with the estimated value thus put upon the creature, fallen as he is, to whom it relates, shall we be discouraged by the slow move. ment, hitherto, in history, of the contemplated purpose ? Especially considering that man has been set in the course of improvement but as yesterday. What are these generations and their partial progress to that mighty past? What to the mighty future foreshadowed in these magazines of instrument ality ?
Grouping now in one system all these coördinated elements, the adaptation between the human faculties and the structure of the universe, the adjustments provided for promoting world-wide intercourse among men, and means of knowledge as well as instruments of power put into the hands of man. kind, is it possible not to be impressed with the conviction that all this is not intended to be restricted, wasted, or defeated; that verily there is in these unlimited concurring arrangements for progress, a pledge from Him to whom a thousand years are as one day, that sooner or later, comfort and knowledge, regulated industry, order, refinement, and good culture shall every where prevail ; and man in general, individually and nationally, occupy a widely different position from that he now does, towards his fellow-men, the privileges of his position, and the Author of his blessings ?
Nor let it be supposed that the progress thus indicated can be only a material or even intellectual advance. It is that, indeed, but very much more. In the actual relations of the human faculties and of the world, it is not possible extensively to divorce the moral and religious from the physical, the sentimental, the social, and the mental improvement of our race. This, we know, even independently of revelation, from the results of inductive science, as applied to the investigation of psychological phenomena, and from unmistakable lessons of history. An inner constitution that looks to some everlasting distinction between right and wrong is, as already noticed, just as certainly characteristic of man, as that which relates to a like distinction between true and false, useful and injurious. And an idea of duty, a sense of responsibility, may, from a wide induction, be affirmed, as more universally, as well as more eminently distinctive of humanity, than any mere thinking faculty. This idea, this sense, this high instinct, perverted as it may be, like all reason, by corrupting, and almost obliterated by degrading influences, is nevertheless seen in all the superstitions, all the philosophies, all the codes of law, all the heroisms, all the noble virtues, all the blessedness of true religion, on the earth. This moral constitution, supreme in purpose among rational endowments, chief distinction of man from creatures of lower nature, is implied in every notion of merit or fault in the world, every instance of blame or praise. And it is the ultimate attribute to which revelation itself appeals. Without it, man, as he would not be responsible, so could he not receive heavenly influences of priceless value. But with it, as he is every where accountable, so is he susceptible of moral training, alike through natural and supernatural agencies.
In this view, therefore, we must regard the proofs spread over the earth of God's design to educate mankind, as certainly conveying, if not directly, yet by the plainest implication, assurance as well of moral culture and spiritual elevation, as of diffused physical well-being and mental illumination.
But the evidence that this higher end is contemplated in the arrangements we have surveyed is, perhaps, most distinctly presented in the lessons of history. Experience, the great practical teacher as to human relations and prospects, if it has taught any truths with certainty, has given demonstration here. That whatever philosophy may do for a few more gifted
a step towardon, and Roman on and of Christe
ones, evil propensity is, with the mass of mankind, too strong for the restraints of prudence, of natural religion, and of government with no better sanction than asserted power; too strong indeed alike in rulers and ruled, if not controlled by something above nature, to admit of lasting peace or progress in any single nation, much less in the world at large. Hence, the utter overthrow of ancient philosophic and governmental civilization, their very obliteration from the world. And hence, the hopeless torpor of semi-civilization in China. The past tells also that something better than nature must open the eye of reason before it can discern the true method of learning from nature. Hence, no Bacon, no world-opening “Organum," not a step towards real inductive science, amid Egyptian toil, Attic speculation, and Roman organization, nor until a diffused Bible had familiarized the mind of Christendom with the method of testing truth by appeal to fact, while awakening intelligence by disclosures of loftiest import. With like voice is the lesson uttered, that something mightier than philosophy must quicken conscience, kindle hope, and exalt affection, ere yet any individual man can be free for himself, to pursue the path known to himself, known to his fellows of highest worth, to be surely onward and upward; much more before governments and nations can prosecute such ascending way. Hence, the bloody unrest of modern France, despite its civilization of exaggerated polish ; and the justly founded horror with which its atheism, and its systematized vice, are ever regarded by the wise among more sober nations. Nor has history uttered with less emphasis the lesson that for the happiness, the enlightenment, the onward advance of society as a whole, man must be rationally free; free from injustice and molestation ; free to think, examine, speak, write, and learn ; free to labor, worship, and love; and free in all things to act as conscience dictates, taste inclines, reason sanctions, and heaven commands. Hence, the darkness, dissatisfaction, and abundant misery so sadly witnessed among the overburdened multitudes under despotic rule, even in Christendom. While the same emphatic voice warns the people that for the preservation of stable, free government, national virtue is their only