NATURE CONSIDERED AS A REVELATION.
Tint subject of this volume appeared to possess considerable pro- mise, although there was a necessary infelicity, not to say contra- diction, in the title. Revelation, in strictness, is the supernatural communication of something which man could not have disco- vered by himself: but any moral or theological truths derived from the study of Nature, must clearly be deduced by reason and observation. Thus, in many cases, what is virtue here, is vice
there. Some nations tolerate, or tacitly approve, what others punish with death; and that which is a degradation in one coun- try or period, is an accomplishment in another. Concubinage, drunkenness, gluttony, and practices yet more odious, vary in their estimation with place and time. But the domestic affections, and sympathy with our fellows, are everywhere approved : how- ever depraved by individual dispositions, or subdued by circums stances, they are the most widely-practised qualities amongst the hu- man race • nay, they are coexistent with life itself, and are the only habits of the lower animals with which man heartily sympathizes.
A striking confirmation of the revealed doctrine, if it cannot be called a revelation in itself, by which the Prophet directed us " to love mercy," the Apostle declared that without charity nothing would avail, and the Founder of Christianity embraced the most important duty of man in the emphatic sentence " Love thy neighbour as thyself: A volume undertaken with the object of drawing moral analo- gies of this kind from the whole circle of animated and inanimate nature, might have many faults and many deficiencies, but could
hardly fail to have considerable value, were its author possessed of any degree of judgment and ability. Unluckily,• Mr. BAYLEY
has not attempted a work of this kind, or even thought of it.
Dividing his book into two parts, he in the first endeavours to maintain that Nature is a revelation ; by which he means, that
a moral code may be deduced from her study. In this self-im- posed task be is not very successful. To state the whole of his argument would not be easy, for we do not very clearly perceive its drift and concatenation. A few instances may show his logi- cal deficiencies.
He says, for example, that Adam, in his original innocence, could have had no other guide than Nature. But, had Adam stood in his original state, be would not have wanted a guide at all,
but have been good by instinct. To assume, as Mr. BAYLEY does, that in Paradise all nature was different from what it now
is—that " the earth did not bear a thistle till Adam had brought
the curse into her bowels," and so forth—is scarcely perhaps theo- gical, and is certainly unphilosophical. "That some alteration in the animal economy has occurred since the creati,n, is clear, from the extinction of the larger classes, whose skeletons have been reconstructed by geology." It is, however, equally clear, that
these alterations preceded the creation of man, and that neither
the megat herium nor the rnastedon were, as Mr. BAYLEY assumes, contemporary with Adam in his pristine state. And, not to dwell too long upon points which can base but a slight interest for news- paper readers, a Scriptural instruction, enforced by a figure of speech drawn from animal, vegetable, or elementary nature, is no
proof of Nature being herself a moral revelation, any more than is the design displayed in the human frame, or the economy and instincts of animals.
The second part of Mr. BAYLEY'S book contains a variety of "specimens of the manner in which the material revelation may
be explained." So far as we have examined them, however, they appear not revelations, but illustrations. The truth of his moral must first be ascertained by the study of life, before his example can be allowed to stand. When this has been done, his revela- tions do not teach the mind, but impress the memory ; they en- force that which we know, but discover nothing, A few brief extracts will better explain our meaning. The first are taken from the class of quadrupeds ; the next from birds and
reptiles, which is as far as we have gone. The instance of the eagle is not unhappy; but it is difficult to imagine how any one could suppose such things were "specimens of revelation." The Italics are the author's.
The Emits teaches that great minds are often alarmed at very little enemies The lion is terrified by the cock-crow! Illustration.-1 know a very popular man, whose opinions rule thousands of the religious, who always wears boots, because he is morbidly afraid of a dog- bite. The BOAR teaches that persons much alike bear pain very differently,—as the pig, much like the boar, makes a dreadful noise when be is hurt; the boat none.
Illustration.—Capability of beating pain is not always a virtue, but often depends on physical condition. James Bee bad his leg amputated, and tilled the street with groans. Henry Burr, much like him, during a similar opera- tion never murmured.
The Ass teaches that many innocent things have an undeserved bad name. What so patient as an ass, in reality ? what by reputation 80 stubborn ? Illustration.—The toad, ear.wig, and common snake, are also specimens of this remark. The English Puritans are mostly decried; but they saved religion from Popery and the Government from becoming despotic. The SQUIRREL teaches that a man may be very clever, and yet of no great service. The squirrel can leap the best of all animals, and is yet of little value. Illustration.—Of this class are nearly all players, mountebanks, jugglers,
and somefine artists, as dancers, &c. • • • • *
The PONT teaches that greatness is often merely a greater quantity of the little. The pony has all the real properties and forms of the strongest horse in a less degree. illustration.—Friendship, leisure, honour, distinction, and indeed all the real advantages of life, are to be obtained in a cottage with 2001. per annum. Greatness can boast no more; but it possesses only the same advantages al
greater degree. * • ,
The EAGLE teaches that great minds are not much formed for companion- ship. It is a rare thing to see a pair of eagles; and no one ever saw the eagle and the blackbird together. Illustration.—Who ever saw a flock of eagles? but who has not seen a flock of geese? I do not know that either Milton or Locke had an "inti- mate friend." The THRUSH teaches that the musical talent frequently runs through large families. The thrush family (turdi) has one hundred and thirty-six species, and they are nearly all song-bit Is. Illustration.—It is melancholy to remember how widely diffused are tire musical talents among men, and how seldom they have been rightly employed,
or how little they hav.r contributed to the improvement of mankind.
Madame Malibran, wl 0 recently died, has doue society less real good than
• • •
many a ploughman or common sailor. ' The SCORPION teaches that the more genial the climate the worse the effect on vicious natures. In Europe, the scorpion's bite is but hide dreaded ; but in warmer countries it is frequently death. Illustration.—Ensign Smith was a rake in Lichfield. He went to India, where restraint was less and his income greater; and he soon became a debauchee, and died in 1422, the victim of disease and remorse, at the age of twenty-four !
Although the first part is vague in its purpose, immethodical in its arrangement, very defective in its logic, and is vitiated in its style by the indulgence of a fine pulpit manner, it contains better things than these. The Wowing passages possess much matter, and show considerablo facility in expressing it.
DIEM ULTIES OF VERRAL REVELATION.
The material revelation is universal. But we have seen, that with all the wtivity of letters, the zeal of the religious, and the circulatory aids of coma. merce, the verbal revelanon is confined to a very small section of the human family. How few are the students who pore over its page! And even in that partial use of the verbal revelation, what difficulties present themselves from the 8015 dialects of this many. tongued earth. How few scholars ever become competent to translate : bow few tianslations merit the entire confidence of the illiterate ! how various the customs of countries ! how peculiar their superstitions ! how idioQyucratic their institutions ! how obscute their histories! how different the national passions ! .1Iarked is their natural his- tory and individualized is their commerce. And yet these niu,t all be known, so far as they relate to Judea ; or the verbal revelation, which contains at least 20,000 allusions to such •nbjects, must he, just so far as ignorance prevails, a " sealed-up fountain." Now the material revelation has no such obstaeles or defects. Its sense depends on no conjugations of a verb, on no inflections of a noun, neither on idiomatic anomalies nor rhythmic laws; nor is it modified by accents or prosody.
UNIVERSALITY OF NATURE.
After Europe has changA its languages "ten times," the terms of the ma- terial revelation are unalten.d. Dots Africa jabber in a thousand ruleless lmn- guages? does Asia forsake her venerable tongues? is America, the modern Babel, forming a new tace of languages, from the refuse of the old families ? Nature changes not kr:. : she owns no authority, she suffers no provincialism in ha universal speech. The larks now carol the same song and in the same I as when Main first mined his enraptmed ear to catch the moral. The owl first booted in B flit; and it still loves the key, and screams through no other octaves. In the same key has ever ticked the deatlowatch; Waile all the dime noted chirps of the cricket have ever been in B, since Tuba, Cain first heard them in his smithy, or the laraelites in their ash-ovens. Never has the bur of the goat risen above the second A; nor that of the house-fly's wing sunk below the first F. Sound had at fist the same connexion with colour as it ha-, now ; and the right anele of light's incidence might as much produce a sound on the first turrets of Cain's city, as it is now said to do on one of the Pyra• • nods. The tulip, in its first bloom in Noah's garden, emitted heat four and a half degrees above the atmosphere, as it does at the present day. The stormy petrel as much delighted to sport amongst the first billows which the Indian ocean ever raised is it does now. In the first migration or birds they passed from north to south, and tiol over the narrowest parts of the seas, as they will this autumn. The cuckoo amd the nightingale first began their sotto' together, analogous to the beginning ing of our April, n the days of Nimrod'. Birds that lived on flies laid blueish eggs in the days of Joseph, as they will two thousand years hence. if the sun sliould not fall from his throne, or the earth not breal.i. her liarneot from the planetary car. The first bird that was caged oftener sung in adngio than in its natural spirit. 4 4 * Corals have ever grown edgeways to the ocean stream. 8,280,000 animal- cubs could as well live in a drop of water in the days of Seth as in ours. All flying insects had on their coats of mail in the days of Japhet, over which have ever waved plumes -of more gaudy feathers than the peacock ever drop- ped.) The bees that afforded Eve her first honey made their combs hexagonal ; and the first house-fly produced 20,040,320 eggs, in one year, as she does at present. The first jump of the first flea was two hundred times its own length, as it was the last summer. That concubinel sinner, the ursine sloth, who scorns at all the anathemas against polygamy, kept ten or twelve wives before Moses was born, as be will when we are forgotten. There was iron enough in the blood of the first forty two men to make a ploughshare, as there is to- day, from whatever country or men you collect. The lungs of Abel contained a coil of vital matter 134 feet square, as mine; and the first inspiration of Adam coesumed 17 cubic inches of air, as do those of every adult reader. The rat and the robin followed the footsteps of Noah, as they do ours.
As the first of these two quotations, and the general tenour of the volume, may seem to favour opinions inconsistent with the creed which it is Mr. B AYLEY'S duty to uphold, we may state, that he throughout considers Natural Revelation subordinate to Scrip tural, and, since the Fall, insufficient in itself to establish so pure a code as that of tke Gospel.