Графични страници
PDF файл

is enjoined by a positive law from above-Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work. The truly wise, so far from despising labour, ever hold it in honour. To honour useful labour-to encourage the industrious—to bring up children to early habits of industry and frugality-and, on the other hand, to dis-countenance and hold in reproach a life of sloth, of improvidence and of dissipation, are indispensibles, that ought to be engrained in the public mind. They are truly republican sentiments and habits; and, as far as they prevail and become fashionable, so far will there be order and thrift in any free republic, and eg. pecially in this free country, in which there is such an unbounded scope for industry.


of the design and use of the thumb.

The whole frame of the human body so clearly evinces design, and, of course, an All-Wise Designer, that atheism would appear the extreme of folly if even there were no other arguments to confute it, than those which are in a manner forced upon us whenever we take a careful survey of ourselves.

The mechanism of the eye is marvellously complex, and yet nothing in it is superfluous ; every part bearing a necessary and obvious relation to the purpose for which it was formed. Nor is the mechanism of the ear less adapted in every part to the design of its formation. These wonderful organs of sense are given us, however, in common with the lower animals, of which there are some that far excel us in clearness of sight and quickness of hearing. But the human body has one appendage, which belongs not to any of the brutal creation, and which evidences design or contrivance, as clearly as the eye or the ear': I mean the. Thumb. This puny limb, which scarcely ever is noticed by poet or philosopher, has been the main stay of the human family, in all ages and countries.

Had the human body lacked this little limb of labour, man would have been the most forlornly helpless of all animals, and indeed the whole race must nearly have perished thousands of years ere the present time. He neither could have tilled the ground, nor drawn a fish from the water. He neither could have felled the forests, nor furnished himself with weapons of defence against the ferocious beasts with which they were inhabited. He would have been alike incapable of making and of using any of the instruments necessary

for his sustenance, clothing, or defence. Suppose that the thumb, and that only, had been overlooked in the general contrivance of the human body ; suppose that all the organs and members of the body, and particularly the hands, were exactly as they are now, save that, instead of four fingers and a thumb, there were five fingers standing parallel to each other :-the body, in that case, would have been a machine wonderfully curious, but utterly inadequate to the purposes of human life. Suppose further, that as a recompense for the want of the thumb, man had been gifted with a double or treble portion of intellect; he, notwithstanding, must have been helpless and wretched; for it would be out of the power of finite intellect to supply that deficiency, or even so much as to provide for the mere necessary wants of the body.

Man, upon his expulsion from paradise, was cast into a wilderness world, and a wilderness it must have

remained to this day, but for the thumb upon his hand. He was commanded to subdue the earth, and was authorised to exercise dominion over the beasts of the field ;-things as much out of his power, had he been thumbless, as arresting the stars in their courses. But this feeble being, through the constant aid of the thumb, what wonders has he wrought! See the forests felled ; see blooming gardens, and fields waving with golden wheat; see villages, towns, cities, the spacious and well-finished tenements of man ; see his convenient and comely attire, the fulness of his cup and the comforts of his table; see thousands of ships proudly traversing the ocean, freighted with the superfluities of some countries for the supply of the wants of others; see the finer works of art, pictures, statuary, engravings, embroidery :-see all these, and a thousand other things, and you will recognize in every one of them, the agency of the thumb. Nay, all our books of Divinity, Law, Physic, Surgery, History, Biography, Philosophy, Poetry, or of whatever name or description, were first thumbed out by the laborious penmen of them. So true is it, that as the hand is instrument to all other instruments, it is the thumb chiefly, that ministers ability to

the hand.

The thumb points to duty. Its admirable contrivance manifests both the wisdom and the goodness of the contriver. It plainly shows at the same time, that man is destined by his Maker to employments of manual labour; and consequently, that manual labour, so far from being a reproach to hiin, is one of the essential duties of his nature and condition, and ought rather to be held in honour than disgrace. And if there be some exceptions, they include but a very diminutive .proportion of the human family : fur, of the whole world, there are not more perhaps than a hundredth

part, who are fairly exempted, by rank, or fortune, or mental occupations, from the necessity of labouring with their hands.

Sucking the thumbs, is a proverbial phrase, denoting a total neglect of employing them in any useful way answerable to the design they were made for. A great many of this “ untoward generation" have the scurvy trick of sucking their thumbs ;-a great many, too, whose circumstances imperiously demand a better use of them. It is a pitiful practice, whether in man or woman ; directly leading to poverty and want, and, not unfrequently, to the worst of vices. It behooves that parents keep a sharp look out, lest their boys and girls get into this way, so dangerous to their morals, so deadening to all their faculties, and so destructive of their future prospects in life.

But there is one use of the thumb, that is infinitely worse than not using it at all : it is employing it in spreading abroad falsehood and moral poison, with the pen, and with the type. It were far better to be born without thumbs, than to use them so abominably.


Of the injury to the intellectuals, arising from a minute

division of labour.

[ocr errors]

The subdivision of labour, in the manner of Europe, increases national wealth, but diminishes human intellect. There, and yet more in China, the labouring mechanic is not only confined to a single article of manufacture, but to a particular part, and often to a minute and trivial part, of that article : and though, in this, way, a great deal more labour can be done by the

same number of hands, and even better done, yet the labourers themselves are so stinted as to the exercise of their faculties both of body and mind, that they sink almost to mere machines. Very like a machine is indeed the human being who employs his whole lifetime in putting heads on pins, or points on nails. Whatever of mind, or of native intellect, he may have at the outset, it naturally contracts itself to the puny dimension of his occupation.

In the primitive ages, employment in the manual arts served to develope, rather than imprison, the faculties of the mind as well as of the body ; because the artists were not labourers merely, but contrivers. The sacred volume that contains the records of our holy religion, contains also some of the most useful as well as most authentic matters of ancient history; and in it we learn, how national ingenuity, aforetime dormant, was awakened and brought into action upon a great occasion.* The two principal artists were endowed from above-whence cometh every good gift—" with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blae, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.”

Neither is it to be thought that there were not-besides the two that are particularly named-thousands of the sons of Israel, whose wits were on that occasion exercised in ingenious devices. Vor were the women behindhand of the men. *66 All the women that were wisehearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen.”-Not that every

* 35th Chap. Exodus,

« ПредишнаНапред »