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which God hath given to all men understanding. It is the way of God's providence to instruct the ignorant by means of the wise. As he uses the parent to instruct the child, so does he use those minds which he has peculiarly endowed, and to which he has given uncommon opportunities of improvement, to instruct other minds of less wisdom and experience; or rather perhaps to think for those who are precluded by poverty, or toil, or care, from that delightful privilege. The mind of the wisest is at first a blank. It is addressed and instructed from without and from within. Through the senses God pours knowledge into it from the external world, excites its faculties, calls them into exercise, and reveals to it that hidden meaning of things which constitutes wisdom, and which may be said to emanate from God himself. All then that is known to the human mind may be said to be a revelation. It is more or less extensive and perfect according to the perfection and cultivation of the mind by which it is possessed. God then makes use of these superior minds to instruct those of less endowment and opportunity. To minds destitute of this information this instruction is in no mean sense a revelation, as much so, as far as they are concerned, as if it were supernaturally derived. Thus it is with the truths of science. They always existed within and around us. But the mass of the people never did, and never would discover them. The solar system has been always the same, but the mass of the people entertained the crudest and most erroneous ideas concerning it. God raised up such men as Newton and La Place with minds peculiarly endowed to discover and then reveal the laws which regulate the motions of the heavenly bodies. Just so with Shakspeare and Locke. They were gifted with a deeper insight into the human mind. They saw what other men did not see, and their writings were to the rest of mankind a revelation of what there is in the intellect and heart of man. So it is with every original thinker on every subject.
Let me not be misunderstood. I mean not to infringe on the province of revelation, properly so called, nor to advance any thing into competition with the divine productions of those who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. I put the Bible by itself distinct from all and above all that the natural powers of man have produced. I only wish to place Literature, the unassisted productions of gifted minds within and not without the sphere of Divine Providence, which ruleth over all. I mean to say, that such minds are raised up by Providence, and made the instruments of the most powerful effects upon their species, generally for good. They are the prophets of the race, and they recognise their mission in the impulse they feel to utter the word which struggles within them for expression. There are indeed among them false prophets, as under God's miraculous dispensation, men who have mistaken their gift, but they do little harm, as the inspiration there is in all men teaches them to distinguish the true prophet from the false. Thus the chaff is winnowed from the wheat, the voice of the false prophet dies away, while that of the true waxes louder and more commanding as ages roll away. Truth, order, virtue are congenial and delightful to the human mind. They are welcomed from whatever side they may be presented. Their advocates are felt to be public benefactors, and they receive the homage and the reverence of mankind, even of those who in their own lives prove false to the principles they acknowledge. Falsehood, anarchy, and vice are abhorrent to the moral and intellectual nature of man, and are tolerated only when they offer some bribe of temporary pleasure or profit to the individual. Now literature is the voice of the intellectual and moral nature of man. The spiritual part of man, made in the image of God, is ever endeavoring to elevate itself towards its Divine original. It conceives ideas of Truth, Goodness, Perfection and Happiness, vastly superior to any thing which it has witnessed or achieved. This high standard no man realizes in himself, or in his own conduct, for the plain reason, that this spiritual principle is not the whole of him. He has a body, of the earth, earthy, drawing in an opposite direction to the spirit, dimming its high conceptions, weighing down its lofty aspirations, subjugating it to the iron dominion of the wants, and polluting it with the defilement of the passions. But the soul, the spiritual principle is above all these, and really despises them, though sometimes subjected to their control. The man of gifted mind conceives the possibility of something better than he has realized or seen. The idea burns within him, and will not let him rest. As with the prophet of old, the word is as a fire in his bones, and he feels constrained to give it utterance. In that high utterance it is only the better, the spiritual nature of man that speaks; the passions, the appetites, the baser part of man, are silent. Their voice is not heard, or they appear only with that mark of reprobation set upon them, which they always bear in the presence of the moral sense.
High genius has an affinity with virtue, and even when borne down, as it sometimes is, by the weakness of humanity, it seldom desires to propagate the plague. And when men of genius sin, God makes holiest use of them, though themselves vessels of wrath. No man ever preaches more powerfully the blessedness of goodness or the deep damnation of vice, than the depraved man of genius. He is among the brotherhood of literary men what Judas was among the Apostles. While they are mightily spreading the conquests of the truth, there goes with them a voice hardly less persuasive from the temple where that lost and miserable man flung down the