« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
bind together into one political and social organization entire communities and nations.
We recognize these duties and are in the main willing to fulfill them. And yet, as with so many other things, we sometimes fail to realize them fully; or we have a wrong conception of them ; or we neglect and forget them. Hence the necessity of frequent and and strong reminders, and hence the need of reformers and reforms.
When an appeal is made to social duty there is no need of concealing the fact, for if one kind of action is more generally looked upon as praiseworthy than another it is the one in which no shadow of self-interest is discernible. The nature of the appeal will differ somewhat according to circumstances and object. It may be that we have unconsciously lapsed from a strict observance of a plain duty and simply need a timely reminder. It may be that we are insensible to the exigencies or the merits of the case and need to be enlightened and aroused. It may be that through a misunderstanding of our duty we are wasting good intentions in the wrong direction and need to be set right. It may be that new conditions bring with them new obligations which we need to have presented to us clearly and cogently.
PERSUASION BY APPEAL TO RELIGIOUS DUTY.
Subjects : Virtue Its Own Reward. The Sacredness of Life. The Spirit of Intolerance. Lack of Reverence in American Cruelty to Animals.
The most of us will not rest content with the performance of our duties toward ourselves and toward our fellowmen. We feel that if there is such a thing as duty at all it extends further than this. The satisfying of our selfish and social instincts leaves one instinct yet unsatisfied, — the religious. We recognize on the one hand the limitation of our powers and the finiteness of our intellect, and on the other hand the inscrutable mystery of things. We know the hopelessness of knowing everything ; know that the farther we extend our research the more thickly do the mysteries crowd upon us and the deeper do they grow, that each discovery instead of narrowing the realm of the unknown is but a further revelation of its vastness; and we bow before an Intelligence that so infinitely transcends our own. We realize that we are but insignificant parts of the great Whole, and this brings with it a realization of a duty not only to ourselves and others like us, but also to the bird in the tree, the flower in the field, the shell on the shore, and to the Power that works in and through them all.
This duty takes many forms, — non-interference, kindness, service, submission, love, reverence, praise. Why do we pity the caged bird, and step aside to let the flower grow unharmed, and treasure and study the curious shell? Why do we stand in silent awe or burst into spontaneous tributes of admiration before the terrors and glories of the natural world? It is the gratification of a religious instinct, the performance of a religious duty
An appeal to this duty is the loftiest appeal that can be made to man, since it is farthest removed from any
possible charge of sordid selfishness. Therefore to comport with this character, the language and style of composition should be reverent, dignified, lofty, and thoroughly sincere. The following, taken from an argument by Herbert Spencer on the relative value of various kinds of knowledge, is practically a plea for the study of science addressed to all whose sense of religious duty has a controlling influence over their action.
Lastly we have to assert — and the assertion will, we doubt not, cause extreme surprise — that the discipline of science is superior to that of our ordinary education, because of the religious culture that it gives. Of course we do not here use the words scientific and religious in their ordinary limited acceptations; but in their widest and highest acceptations. Doubtless, to the superstitions that pass under the name of religion, science is antagonistic ; but not to the essential religion which these superstitions merely hide. Doubtless, too, in much of the science that is current, there is a pervading spirit of irreligion ; but not in that true science which has passed beyond the superficial into the profound.
So far from science being irreligious, as many think, it is the neglect of science that is irreligious — it is the refusal to study the surrounding creation that is irreligious. Take a humble simile. Suppose a writer were daily saluted with praises couched in superlative language. Suppose the wisdom, the grandeur, the beauty of his works, were the constant topics of the eulogies addressed to him. Suppose those who unceasingly uttered these eulogies on his works were content with looking at the outsides of them; and had never opened them, much less tried to understand them. What value should we put upon their praises? What should we think of their sincerity? Yet, comparing small things to great, such is the conduct of mankind in general, in reference to the Universe and its Cause. Nay, it is worse. Not only do they pass by without study, these things which they daily proclaim to be so wonderful ; but very frequently they condemn as mere
triflers those who give time to the observation of Nature — they actually scorn those who show any active interest in these marvels. We repeat, then, that not science, but the neglect of science, is arreligious. Devotion to science is a tacit worship— a tacit recognition of worth in the things studied; and by implication in their Cause. It is not a mere lip-homage, but a homage expressed in actions - not a mere professed respect, but a respect proved by the sacrifice of time, thought, and labor.
Nor is it thus only that true science is essentially religious. It is religious, too, inasmuch as it generates a profound respect for, and an implicit faith in, those uniform laws which underlie all things. By accumulated experiences the man of science acquires a thorough belief in the unchanging relations of phenomena - in the invariable connection of cause and consequence in the necessity of good or evil results. Instead of the rewards and punishments of traditional belief, which men vaguely hope they may gain, or escape, spite of their disobedience ; he finds that there are rewards and punishments in the ordained constitution of things, and that the evil results of disobedience are inevitable. He sees that the laws to which we must submit are not only inexorable but beneficent. He sees that in virtue of these laws, the process of things is ever toward a greater perfection and a higher happiness. Hence he is led constantly to insist on these laws, and is indignant when men disregard them. And thus does he, by asserting the eternal principles of things and the necessity of conforming to them, prove himself intrinsically religious.
To all which, add the further religious aspect of science, that it alone can give us true conceptions of ourselves and our relation to the mysteries of existence. At the same time that it shows us all which can be known, it shows us the limits beyond which we can know nothing. Not by dogmatic assertion does it teach the impossibility of comprehending the ultimate cause of things; but it leads us clearly to recognize this impossibility by bringing us in every direction to boundaries we cannot cross. It realizes to us in a way which nothing else can, the littleness of human intelligence in the face of that which transcends human intelligence. While towards the traditions and authorities of men its attitude may be proud, before the impenetrable veil which hides
the Absolute its attitude is humble a true pride and a true humility. Only the sincere man of science (and by this title we do not mean the mere calculator of distances, or analyzer of compounds, or labeller of species ; but him who through lower truths seeks higher, and eventually the highest) — only the genuine man of science, we say, can truly know how utterly beyond, not only human knowledge, but human conception, is the Universal Power of which Nature, and Life, and Thought are manifestations.
ORATORY.– OCCASIONAL FORMS.
Declaration of Independence.
“ The Prize-winners.”
While Exposition, Argumentation, and Persuasion are clearly distinct, it is just as impossible to keep them always separate as it is to keep Narration and Description separate. All three are often employed in the same discourse and there is no reason why they should