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The triangle does
not make the principle, any more than a candle taken into a room that
was dark, makes the chairs and tables that before were invisible. All
the properties of a triangle exist independently of the figure, and
existed before any triangle was drawn or thought of by man. Man had no
more to do in the formation of those properties or principles, than
he had to do in making the laws by which the heavenly bodies move; and
therefore the one must have the same divine origin as the other.

In the same manner as, it may be said, that man can make a triangle,
so also, may it be said, he can make the mechanical instrument called
a lever. But the principle by which the lever acts, is a thing distinct
from the instrument, and would exist if the instrument did not; it
attaches itself to the instrument after it is made; the instrument,
therefore, can act no otherwise than it does act; neither can all the
efforts of human invention make it act otherwise. That which, in all
such cases, man calls the effect, is no other than the principle itself
rendered perceptible to the senses.

Since, then, man cannot make principles, from whence did he gain a
knowledge of them, so as to be able to apply them, not only to things on
earth, but to ascertain the motion of bodies so immensely distant from
him as all the heavenly bodies are? From whence, I ask, could he gain
that knowledge, but from the study of the true theology?

It is the structure of the universe that has taught this knowledge to
man. That structure is an ever-existing exhibition of every principle
upon which every part of mathematical science is founded. The offspring
of this science is mechanics; for mechanics is no other than the
principles of science applied practically. The man who proportions the
several parts of a mill uses the same scientific principles as if he had
the power of constructing an universe, but as he cannot give to matter
that invisible agency by which all the component parts of the immense
machine of the universe have influence upon each other, and act in
motional unison together, without any apparent contact, and to which
man has given the name of attraction, gravitation, and repulsion, he
supplies the place of that agency by the humble imitation of teeth and
cogs. All the parts of man's microcosm must visibly touch. But could
he gain a knowledge of that agency, so as to be able to apply it in
practice, we might then say that another canonical book of the word of
God had been discovered.

If man could alter the properties of the lever, so also could he alter
the properties of the triangle: for a lever (taking that sort of lever
which is called a steel-yard, for the sake of explanation) forms, when
in motion, a triangle. The line it descends from, (one point of that
line being in the fulcrum,) the line it descends to, and the chord of
the arc, which the end of the lever describes in the air, are the
three sides of a triangle. The other arm of the lever describes also a
triangle; and the corresponding sides of those two triangles, calculated
scientifically, or measured geometrically,--and also the sines,
tangents, and secants generated from the angles, and geometrically
measured,--have the same proportions to each other as the different
weights have that will balance each other on the lever, leaving the
weight of the lever out of the case.

It may also be said, that man can make a wheel and axis; that he can put
wheels of different magnitudes together, and produce a mill. Still the
case comes back to the same point, which is, that he did not make the
principle that gives the wheels those powers. This principle is as
unalterable as in the former cases, or rather it is the same principle
under a different appearance to the eye.

The power that two wheels of different magnitudes have upon each other
is in the same proportion as if the semi-diameter of the two wheels
were joined together and made into that kind of lever I have described,
suspended at the part where the semi-diameters join; for the two wheels,
scientifically considered, are no other than the two circles generated
by the motion of the compound lever.

It is from the study of the true theology that all our knowledge of
science is derived; and it is from that knowledge that all the arts have
originated.

The Almighty lecturer, by displaying the principles of science in the
structure of the universe, has invited man to study and to imitation. It
is as if he had said to the inhabitants of this globe that we call ours,
"I have made an earth for man to dwell upon, and I have rendered the
starry heavens visible, to teach him science and the arts. He can now
provide for his own comfort, AND LEARN FROM MY MUNIFICENCE TO ALL, TO BE
KIND TO EACH OTHER."

Of what use is it, unless it be to teach man something, that his eye is
endowed with the power of beholding, to an incomprehensible distance, an
immensity of worlds revolving in the ocean of space? Or of what use is
it that this immensity of worlds is visible to man? What has man to do
with the Pleiades, with Orion, with Sirius, with the star he calls the
north star, with the moving orbs he has named Saturn, Jupiter, Mars,
Venus, and Mercury, if no uses are to follow from their being visible?
A less power of vision would have been sufficient for man, if the
immensity he now possesses were given only to waste itself, as it were,
on an immense desert of space glittering with shows.

It is only by contemplating what he calls the starry heavens, as the
book and school of science, that he discovers any use in their being
visible to him, or any advantage resulting from his immensity of
vision. But when he contemplates the subject in this light, he sees an
additional motive for saying, that nothing was made in vain; for in vain
would be this power of vision if it taught man nothing.



CHAPTER XII - THE EFFECTS OF CHRISTIANISM ON EDUCATION; PROPOSED
REFORMS.

As the Christian system of faith has made a revolution in theology, so
also has it made a revolution in the state of learning. That which is
now called learning, was not learning originally. Learning does not
consist, as the schools now make it consist, in the knowledge of
languages, but in the knowledge of things to which language gives names.

The Greeks were a learned people, but learning with them did not consist
in speaking Greek, any more than in a Roman's speaking Latin, or a
Frenchman's speaking French, or an Englishman's speaking English. From
what we know of the Greeks, it does not appear that they knew or studied
any language but their own, and this was one cause of their becoming
so learned; it afforded them more time to apply themselves to better
studies. The schools of the Greeks were schools of science and
philosophy, and not of languages; and it is in the knowledge of the
things that science and philosophy teach that learning consists.

Almost all the scientific learning that now exists, came to us from the
Greeks, or the people who spoke the Greek language. It therefore
became necessary to the people of other nations, who spoke a different
language, that some among them should learn the Greek language, in order
that the learning the Greeks had might be made known in those nations,
by translating the Greek books of science and philosophy into the mother
tongue of each nation.

The study, therefore, of the Greek language (and in the same manner for
the Latin) was no other than the drudgery business of a linguist; and
the language thus obtained, was no other than the means, or as it were
the tools, employed to obtain the learning the Greeks had. It made no
part of the learning itself; and was so distinct from it as to make it
exceedingly probable that the persons who had studied Greek sufficiently
to translate those works, such for instance as Euclid's Elements, did
not understand any of the learning the works contained.

As there is now nothing new to be learned from the dead languages, all
the useful books being already translated, the languages are become
useless, and the time expended in teaching and in learning them is
wasted. So far as the study of languages may contribute to the progress
and communication of knowledge (for it has nothing to do with the
creation of knowledge) it is only in the living languages that new
knowledge is to be found; and certain it is, that, in general, a
youth will learn more of a living language in one year, than of a dead
language in seven; and it is but seldom that the teacher knows much of
it himself. The difficulty of learning the dead languages does not arise
from any superior abstruseness in the languages themselves, but in their
being dead, and the pronunciation entirely lost. It would be the same
thing with any other language when it becomes dead. The best Greek
linguist that now exists does not understand Greek so well as a Grecian
plowman did, or a Grecian milkmaid; and the same for the Latin,
compared with a plowman or a milkmaid of the Romans; and with respect
to pronunciation and idiom, not so well as the cows that she milked. It
would therefore be advantageous to the state of learning to abolish
the study of the dead languages, and to make learning consist, as it
originally did, in scientific knowledge.

The apology that is sometimes made for continuing to teach the dead
languages is, that they are taught at a time when a child is not capable
of exerting any other mental faculty than that of memory. But this
is altogether erroneous. The human mind has a natural disposition to
scientific knowledge, and to the things connected with it. The first and
favourite amusement of a child, even before it begins to play, is that
of imitating the works of man. It builds bouses with cards or sticks; it
navigates the little ocean of a bowl of water with a paper boat; or dams
the stream of a gutter, and contrives something which it calls a mill;
and it interests itself in the fate of its works with a care that
resembles affection. It afterwards goes to school, where its genius is
killed by the barren study of a dead language, and the philosopher is
lost in the linguist.

But the apology that is now made for continuing to teach the dead
languages, could not be the cause at first of cutting down learning to
the narrow and humble sphere of linguistry; the cause therefore must be
sought for elsewhere.



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