In a previous post I have introduced James H. Linsley as a Baptist naturalist.
Some Christians, in their desire to uphold a “spiritual” outlook, have denigrated the study of nature and contended that it is a waste of time “since it is all going to pass away anyway.” Linsley strongly disagreed with this perspective. He not only vigorously argued against it, but went beyond it to contend that his occupation with the study of nature was also a blessing to him in a time of ill health.
In a letter to his mother, he responds to this line of reasoning. It seems he is just answering a hypothetical objection, and not addressing an actual observation on her part. He says:
“Perhaps you imagine that natural history is hardly spiritual enough for a man who stands so much of his time with one foot in the grave, as I do, to . spend so much time in study upon it, and discussing it in the public papers. But the more we look at the works of God, the more we may admire His goodness in providing such an abundance of sustenance and even luxuries for man; and also in making provision to supply the mouth of every living thing. Nothing on which God has spent time to fashion and make, ought to, be beneath our notice to look at, and regard, as displaying the wisdom of the Contriver, both to make, to feed, and continue from generation to generation. O this is a wonderful world, my dear mother, and it is astonishing how little most of the human family know of it. How much intellectual enjoyment they lose by ignorance, —how little advanced beyond the brutes, in point of mental culture, and literary acquirements. I have not a doubt but that this occupation of mind has, through the goodness of God, prolonged my days. Had I coiled up in my shell, and pored over my sufferings from coughs and asthmas and a multitude of bodily infirmities, I should long since have sunk into the grave.”
Source: The Memoirs of James H. Linsley.