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those whose names are placed at the head of this article. Humboldt, in particular, is the man whose name is a tower of strength. There is no higher general authority on the subjects in the range of his writings, and few are the topics excluded from his extended surveys and wide generalizations. Born on the fourteenth of September, 1769, and educated at Göttingen, he early began his travels by making tours of observation through the principal countries of Europe, including England.
Visiting Spain in 1799, with a view of entering Africa via Cadiz, he received from the Spanish Court such overtures as induced him to turn his steps towards America. From 1799 to 1804 he prosecuted, in the New World, those researches in physical geography which have contributed so largely to extend his reputation among us and in Europe. The next twenty years were passed in Paris, in preparing his great works for publication.
In 1828 he visited Siberia under the special protection of the Russian government, though happily not in the usual form in which this protection is afforded those whose travels extend to that boreal clime. After 1830 he lived chiefly at Berlin, where he was held in the highest honor, both by the court and citizens. To all foreigners he was by far the most interesting person in Prussia, or on the continent. The last twenty years of his life were mainly devoted to the preparation and publication of the Cosmos, so justly called by Bunsen, “ The great work of our age.”
The Cosmos, then, is his chef d'auvre, for which he had a half-century to prepare himself by unrivalled opportunities, unwearied studies, and unequalled genius. Ilis life-long work performed, his life-poem sung out, in the Cosmos, he now rests from his earthly toils, and we enter into their results. And we deemn this the fitting occasion, the first offered us since his decease, to add ours to the general voice of mourning at his departure.
He died full of years and full of honors, but the death of such a man as as IIumboldt is an irreparable loss to the world whenever it occurs. We speak, of course, as men, knowing well that the same good God who endowed his mind so richly, has other and, it may be, richer blessings in store for us.
Some may demur to unqualified eulogy of Humboldt, because he was not so decided and decisive in the expression of religious opinions as we could desire. We are no more unmindful of this than others, and regret it as much as they. But we must remember that science was his speciality, and so pursued by him as to lead to results essentially, if not technically religious. If we are unwilling to accept and apply these results to the evidences of religion, others are at least ready to pervert them to irreligious purposes, and to plead our indifference as proof of the propriety of their practice. Of course we speak now of those conceptions and beliefs which are fundamental, which, underlying all religious faith, are as essential to the Christian as to any other.
The theories most destructive of Christian belief are those of Atheism and Pantheism, theories far more prevalent as theories than we are apt to think.
Now the essence of both these theories, though by opposite , extremes of error, is the rejection of the doctrine of a personal Deity, Creator of all that exists out of Himself.
What we need in addition to the merely instinctive conviction of God's existence, as revealed in the Bible, is such a scientific conception of the universe as will enable us to combat successfully all the subtle theories which skeptics are ever propounding, and by which they gradually poison the public mind.
The Cosmos of IIumboldt is a great store-house of facts and principles which will aid us in the formation of this conception as well as in the task of an intellectual exposition of it.
Even though the name of God scarcely appear in the pages of such a work, it is enough for our purpose, if its great lessons, fairly construed, lead us to Christian conclusions. And this we believe to be true, not merely of the Cosmos, but of every other truly scientific system or work. It may not be in words to this express purpose, but none the less certain is the inevitable consequence. As when Humboldt clearly intimates the conviction of his own mind as to the essential unity of the universe, where he says : “ The fundamental principle of my work on the Cosmos, as enunciated by me more than twenty years ago, in the French and German lectures I gave at Paris and Berlin, comprehended the endeavor to combine all cosmical phenomena in one sole picture of nature, to show in what manner the common conditions, that is to say, the great laws, by which individual gronps of these phenomena are governed, have been recognized; and what course has been pursued in ascending from these laws to the discovery of their cansal connection. Such an attempt to comprehend the plan of the universe—the order of nature—must begin with a generalization of particular facts, and a knowledge of the conditions under which physical changes regularly and periodically manifest themselves; and must conduct to the thoughtful consideration of the results yielded by empirical observation, but not to a contemplation of the universe based on speculative deductions and development of thought alone, or to a theory of absolute unity independent of experience.
"It is by a separation and classification of phenomena, by an intuitive insight into the play of obscure forces, and by animated expressions, in which the perceptible spectacle is reflected with vivid truthfulness, that we may hope to comprehend and describe the universal all in a manner worthy of the dignity of the word Cosmos in its signification of universe, order of the world, and adornment of this universal order.”
To a mind capable of applying what may be learned from Humboldt, the absence of direct application to the evidences of religion, in this great naturalist, will by no means weaken the force of his indirect and incidental testimony. And certain we are that it would be as unworthy as inexpedient, for the clergy ever to speak of this work in particular, or the spirit of scientific men generally, as if either were hostile to the teachings of the Bible.
A gentleman of the highest scientific attainments and of corresponding reputation, both at home and abroad, a devout Christian and a communicant of our Church withal, recently remarked to us, that his rector frequently alluded to science and scientific men as if they were of the age and school of
Voltaire, which might have been pardonable fifty years ago, though never appropriate, and now wholly unjust to our scientific men, and equally injurions to the interests of religion.
The great body of the scientific men of our time and country is reverential, and we may say religious, in its bent. And we should not forget that at least as much genius and learning are devoted to scientific as to any other pursuits. It is of great consequence, then, to ascertain what is the general testimony of these men as to the evidences of religion. Happily for the interests of mankind it is favorable, entirely so, we may say, so far as it goes. This is the tone of the generalizations of Humboldt. It is still more true of the writings of Agassiz, at least in their bearing on the great question before us, the indications of a Creator in the Cosmos.
The leading sentiment developed so far in the volumes already published of what promises to be the greatest work of this distinguished naturalist is, that nature is animate with proofs of the Divine Existence and a Divine Plan. The studies of his life lead him to the conclusion that the Cosmos is an “expression of the Divine thought.” Indeed, Agassiz delights to introduce his convictions of this sublime truth, and dilates on it with an exuberance of expression and emotion, as well as tenacity of purpose, which must be truly refreshing to those who are disappointed at not finding it in Humboldt.
But after all, these great naturalists are fellow-workers of the same school, both successors and disciples of Cuvier, for which reason we have introduced the name of that most illustrious savant of France in connection with theirs, a splendid triumvirate, the French Cuvier, the German Humboldt, the Swiss Agassiz, all men of the highest genius and attainment, witnesses, each in his way, for the fundamental truth of religion, the existence and providence of one. God, the absolute Creator and infinite Personality, and sole Cause of the Cosmos.
In this Cosinos, then, we are to search for palpable proofs of the personality, the power, the wisdom and goodness of Him, who is the spring of all its order, beauty, and harmony. This was the doctrine of St. Paul, and is no less the testimony of science. This, though uttered but in “reason's ear," is nevertheless, as we believe, both explicit and satisfactory. To him who heeds it, it is scarcely less clear than proof from Holy Writ, or would be so, were it not for the blinding and pervert. ing effects of sin in the heart and understanding.
The argument for Monotheism in opposition to Polytheism, Pantheism, and Atheism, may be stated thus : One absolute Canse or Mind is necessary to account for and sufficient to ex: plain the existence of the universe, its endless forms and varieties; in short, all the phenomena, both of matter and of mind.
If this can be made out, it virtually settles the question of one personal God in opposition to Polytheism, Pantheism, and Atheism, for all that the exactest science demands of a theory which offers itself to her for approval is, that it be able to account for all the facts in the sphere of its application.
The doctrine of one only God, whose existence is a personal existence, as real as ours, (and more so as absolute and underived,) more than complies with this requisition, for while it is sufficient to account for all the phenomena of the universe, the investigations of naturalists and philosophers have led to the discovery of numerous facts of the most interesting character, each by itself unmistakably pointing to a Divine Original, and when brought together, all combining to form a great scheme most evidently planned and executed by one Infinite Mind.
"All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body nature is, and God the soul."
Every object is in its constitution either simple or complex. If all objects were absolutely simple, it wonld be clearly inconsistent to assign more than one cause to each, for how can there be more than one cause of an effect absolutely simple, an effect which has neither parts nor degrees? Now we have such an object in the ultimate particles of matter, according to the atomic theory of the ancients, reïnstated in its pristine authority by Boscovich, and accepted by modern chemists generally.
Equally favorable to our present argument is the Dynami. cal Theory of the Universe, a theory which first receiving its