The Natural Theology Of Social Science -- By: John Bascom

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 025:97 (Jan 1868)
Article: The Natural Theology Of Social Science
Author: John Bascom


The Natural Theology Of Social Science

Rev. John Bascom

No. II.

Treatises on natural theology aim at impression quite as much as at proof. They multiply illustrations, they give in. full detail some of the more striking adaptations with which, nature everywhere abounds; the fluids of the eye, the construction of the ear, the tongue of the woodpecker, the stomach of the camel, the sucker or claw of the cuttle-fish. They do this, not because the argument depends on the number of these contrivances, or their striking character; but because these are especially fitted to impress the mind, and, with a fresh impulse, carry it strongly over to a position which it had either feebly reached, or not reached at all. In doing this it is not so much that broad survey, on which, after all, the fate of the argument must depend, that is sought for, as those peculiar features which, with less force of logic, carry with them more of feeling, and bring home to the mind the minute and perfect oversight of the Divine Architect. Probability is reflected on the divine government by exhibiting the nature and extent of that providence which the world discloses.

It is plain, however, that the argument itself does not rest

on these specifications, on the ingenuity found here and there in the external world. The thoughts of men are not to be caught, as in a trap, by those cases of peculiar cunning; nor to be shot by them heavenward, as from a cross-bow. Reverence has a broader basis, worship a profounder hold, the infinite glory more adequate supports. Whether these instances of contrivance be more or less numerous, more or less wonderful, the theory adopted for their explanation will not be affected thereby. If we can account for one, we can account for all. If we can explain the existence of those simple, fundamental laws on which, while less impressing our senses, our childish thoughts, fond of all that is mechanical, the order of the universe chiefly rests, it is plain that these secondary contrivances, curiously wrought pebbles on the beach, must share their fate; either be swept with them into the vortex of nature, and find explanation under that great system of physical forces supposed to inhere in matter, or be gathered up with those leading lines of power into the hand of an infinite God.

The argument is not made up of minutae. It is not as when in the wilds of Central America we behold here and there traces of human labor, the heaping up of material in this mound and that edifice, and thence infer the character of a previous race. The ground is not now gained by us point by point, slowly securing, in the accumulated wisdom of many instances, a foundation broad enough for the throne of God. T...

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