Images de page
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

more

evo

of a whole system of physiology.' same time, for a work avowedly Sumner, vol. I. p. 27.

designed to be popular, we do not Indeed, we think, that in the know if be has not given it too arrangement and execution of repulsive an air at the outset, by Mr. Sumner's Treatise, there is devoting the first chapter to an something

comprehensive abstract disquisition on necessary and original, tban in Dr. Brown's existence, and the nature of causes Essay. He reserves the chief and effects, although the doctrines strength of his reasoning for that contained in it are generally as exhibition of the traits of Divine plain as the subject will admit, wisdom and goodness which the and the following passage, on the world furnishes, and the connexion between casuality and lution of which requires all that mind, and the application of it to acuteness and discrimination, as the great question at issue, is forwell as extensive and accurate re- cible and convincing :search, which he has bestowed upon it; while he leaves the beaten path, in which no one who wants a guide can be at a loss, in the hands " The muscles are the chief instruof others, who have gone before or ments of motion in animal bodies, and may follow him. We do not mean

these we denominate the causes of that

motion. But the muscles themselves by this remark to impeach, in the

are moved by the volition of the animal slightest degree, the judgment of to whom they belong, though the manner those highly qualified and respecta. in which this volition sets them, in moble persons who have assigned the tion, or the channel of communication priority to Dr. Brown. The ques

between the living principle and the tion before them was not simply

, mystery. There seems, however, to be

immediate mover is an impenetrable which was the most masterly and

a disposition in the human mind to asable performance, but which exhi- sign the character of cause, in a distinbited, in the clearest light, all the guished manner, to that which bas its proofs by which the existence, the origin in intention, design, and spiritualipower, the wisdom, and the good- ty, and never to acquiesce in that casualiness of the Deity are established, ty which is limited to material substance.

Wherever there are manifest appearanand the principal arguments by ces of arrangement, contrivance, of adapwhich objections to those truths tation of means to ends, and of ends unimay be refuted : and the metho- formly pursued and attained, the mind dical simplicity of Dr. Brown, who

cannot exclude the idea of a contriver, has bestowed an equal degree of of intelligence to conceive, and of power

to execute, the purpose or object acattention upon every part of the complished. The notions both of intel-. question, may be thought to have ligence and power are suggested to us by met more exactly the design of the the use of our own faculties and operations, founder than the more independent seem interwoven with our most early decision of Mr. Sumner, who has conceptions, and obtrude themselves

on the whole course of our lives. In planted his standard wherever be

every instance, where intelligence and thought his forces stood most in power are manifestly not original, and not need of support.

necessarily inherent in the subjects to We do not propose to dwell long which they belong, the human mind on this part of the subject in either will, by an irresistible propensity, which writer.

is, in reality, the source and spring of The reasonings of Dr. all philosophical inquiry, constantly emBrown are generally perspicuous ployed in discovering causes, and in acand simple, even where the argu- counting for effects, refer such intelliment is of a metapbysical kind: gence and power to an original source, for he proceeds straight forward to

from which these must have been des his object, and does not perplex not have existed.

rived, and without which they could

No sophistry, no his reader with the intricacies specious delusion, no ingenuity of syswhich lie around him. At the tem, will ever banish those conceptions

pp. 36, 37.

יל

from the mind of man.” Brown, vol. I. given us continual occasion to feel

this; and it always reminds us of And again

the effect of which the multitude 6 From the idea of a first, original

were conscious, when they heard cause, the ideas of intelligence and power

our gracious Lord's Sermon on the seem to be inseparable; and, till the Mount : “ The people were astomind is able to discover this, in some nished at his doctrine; for he form, or substance, suited at least to the taught them as one having authoriextent of its faculties, it seems never completely to acquiesce in any solution ty, and not as the Scribes." The of the phenomena, or appearance of na

author brings the whole book to a ture, or of the laws by which they are

close as follows: regulated. To mind only can the strict

" The inherent force of the multiplied and proper notion of causation be re

evidence in support of the existence of ferred." Ib. vol. I. p. 39.

Deity, and the natural feelings of the An objection likewise arises to human heart, have, generally, secured bis continual use of logical terms

the speculative belief of this fundamental and distinctions; with which, in. tice has not been adequate to the intel

doctrine, although its influence on practhese days, the popular reader can lectual conviction which it is calculated hardly be supposed to be well ac- to produce, and has, in reality, operat quainted, as in the passage

ed.
“ It appears, however, that it is

pos• Materialists have, certainly, at- sible to resist the clearest and strongest tempted to place mind and matter in the

evidence, and, at the same time, that same category; that is, to maintain that this occasional resistance is no arguno spiritual substance exists, and that ment against its validity. The blindall the operations of our minds are the ness of individuals can never be alleged effects of material combinations and pro- as a proof that sight is not one of the perties." Ib. vol. I. pp. 63, 64. human senses, or that light is an imaThere is also an occasional repe

ginary term.

" The heavens, then, declare the glory tition of the same argument in dif- of God, and the firmament showeth his ferent parts of this book, which handy work. Day unto day uttereth gives an air of weakness to the dis- speech, and night unto night showeth cussion, especially of so grave a

knowledge. There is no speech, nor lansubject. A remarkable instance of Their line is gone out through all the

guage, where their voice is not heard. this occurs in the thirty-third and earth, and their words to the end of the ninety-eighth pages, in regard to the world! propensity in children to ask a cause “ On all subjects connected with relifor every thing.

gion, how feeble is language merely hua On arguments of such variety, ration dictates!" Ib. vol. I. pp. 178, 179.

man, compared with that which Inspiand so briefly exhibited, it can bardly be doubted that occasional Mr. Sumner, having concluded difference of judgment inust arise. his short metapbysical argument We cannot stop now to mention any for the being of a God, is thence trifling instances, where we differ led to inquire, wbether some aufrom the author in the conduct of thentic record of the work of crehis reasoning in these chapters, ation ascribed to him has not been which are among the best in the left for the instruction of the world : Essay : while we are anxious to no- whether some explicit declaration of tice, with peculiar approbation, the his will has not been bequeathed to bigh reverence which he uniformly his creatures: and the disquisition manifests for the language of Scrip-' which then follows, on the existence ture, and to observe the delightful and authenticity of the Mosaic bistosolemnity with which an extract ry, and the consequences deducible from the inspired volume always from it, concludes the first volume strikes the ear at the close of any in a way wbich seems to leave no uninspired disquisition. He has alternative, but that of admitting

[ocr errors]

p. 594.

its truth. It would be unfair to reasoners of these latter times have abridge so complete and extended made little addition except that arising a discussion; yet we cannot omit from cumulative evidence, Socrates per

suaded his bearers of the intelligence, to extract the following admirable the constant presence, and the superand original reasoning of the au- intendence of the gods; and seems to thor on the superior theology of have stood alone among the ancients, as Moses above that of the ancient

was before observed, in applying his philosophers, and on the manner in speculative belief to the practical purwhich it is to be accounted for, the of his disciples. °Yet did he arrive at a

pose of regulating the lives and conduct rather because part of it will be distinct conclusion, or inculcate a simfound to elucidate an argument into ple belief of the unity, like Moses ? To wbich Mr. Heber's view of the re- say nothing invidiously upon the obligion and virtues of the heathen in

scurity which hung over his own mind, duced us to enter in our last volume, (" for he was constant in sacrificing

and which many of bis habits betray, both in private, and at the public al

tars, and often applied to divination,') 66 Should it be still urged, that, allow- Xenophon, even whilst he is relating ing the founders of the Greek philosophy the successful arguments of Socrates, not to have made the proper conclusion speaks commonly of a plurality of from the arguments which prove the gods; and we find it openly asserted existence and unity of the Creator, yet by his illustrious disciple Plato, in a there are arguments which demonstrate strain the most opposite to that of Moit, which might have occurred to Moses, ses, that to discover the Artificer and though they did not occur in the same Father of the universe, is indeed diffiforce to them : it may be farther shown, cult; and that, when found, it is imposin reply, that this is no less untrue in sible to reveal him through the medium fact than improbable in appearance. of discourse to mankind at large.' AcThere are no arguments which can as- cordingly, in an oration supposed to be certain the existence of a Creator, which held in public, we find Plato reasoning may not be referred either to the neces- to the people with every appearance of sity of a First Cause, which is the method seriousness on the certainty of their Clarke has followed ; or to the appear- baving sprung from the soil of their own ances of design in the construction of country. the world, irresistibly indicating a Con- “ 11. The other course of argument, triver, which is the ground which Paley, viz. the necessary existence of an Eterafter a multitude of predecessors, has so nal Being as the prime mover of the ably taken and maintained.

material part of the creation, was first 61. Neither of these trains of reason- insisted on, as far as I am aware, by ing were unperceived by the Grecian Aristotle. The following passage, howmasters of philosophy. The very pro- ever, is sufficient to prove that it was cess pursued by Socrates is detailed at well understood by that philosopher : large. To his solid understanding, says "I affirm,' he says, that the Deity is Xenophon, it appeared contradictory an animate Being, immortal, excellent; and absurd to honour the painter and since life and an uninterrupted eternity the statuary, because their senseless and belong to God; for this is God. But inert imitations resemble the form of they are in error who think, with the man, and not to honour the unseen Ma- Pythagoreans and Speusippus, that what ker of man himself, endued with sense is most excellent and perfect is not the and motion. It seemed contradictory original; reasoning in this way, that to admit design in the works of human the causes of plants and animals exist art, which are seen to correspond with first in tireir seeds, from whence aftertheir intended use, and at the same time wards their perfection proceeds. For to suppose that the sensitive faculties of the seed of which they speak, comes man proceed from chance : to allow itself from others that were before perto the mind of man the power of govern- fect; and the real original is not the ing the body, and to deny to the Mind seed, but the perfect plant or animal. of the universe the power of ruling the It is plain, therefore, that there is some world.

Being eternal and unchangeable, and " By these and similar steps of ana- separate from the objects of our logy, to the force of which even the senses,

6 Here we seem to have discovered of the author on the nature of the the truth for which we are searching; proofs which it exhibits. and might expect that the author of the sentences above cited, had established " If the existence of an immaterial a system of pure theism. Yet in the Creator is not a subject of mere specusame treatise which contains this sub. lation, but a fact upon which a certain lime argument, we find, to the humi- tourse of action, and peculiar duties, liation of reason, that this first moving depend; it is undoubtedly material to Deity was incorporated by Aristotle inquire what degree of evidence might with the world, which is supposed equally justly be supposed to influence maneternal and incorruptible with himself. kind, and bind them to the performance So that it has even been a question, whe- of those duties. The highest degrees of ther he who first saw the metaphysical evidence are generally acknowledged necessity of a First Cause, ought not to to be intuition and demonstration. be reckoned among the atheistical phi- But intuitive evidence only acquaints losophers.

us with our own existence : if, thereHad there not been preserved to us fore, we admit this species of evidence passages of this nature, enabling us to alone, we confine our knowledge, and judge of the effect produced by ana- limit our actions, to the deductions from logical and demonstrative argument, this single fact. If we expect demonupon the mind which has no other in- strative evidence, the only truth relatstruction; it might not have been safe ing to this subject, which cannot be deto deny that Moses could have been led nied without involving a contradiction, by the mere force of such reasoning to is the naked proposition, something has assert the existence of one God, the existed from eternity. Can it be reaCreator of heaven and earth. But sonably argued, that we are to extend knowing, as we thus do, the insufficient our belief no farther, and that no acresult both of analogical proof and sys- tions are binding upon us, that do not tematic demonstration, we surely are result from one of these acknowledged bound to believe that some more sen

facts ? sible evidence lay before the writer, “ If common sense revolts against who, without stopping to argue, seizes such a conclusion, and if it is inconthe conclusion at which argument pain- sistent with the nature of things, that fully arrives, with an effect which mere intuitive demonstrative evidence argument has never attained. For, should reach all the various truths, about even if we were to affirm that a train of which the human mind is conversant; reasoning, like those we have considered, it becomes an interesting object of was present to the mind of Moses, of inquiry, what species of evidence ought which he published only the conclusion ; to be deemed binding upon mankind ; that he declared the theorem, but with- and whether, in the view of moral obheld the steps of demonstration which ligation, there is any just ground for led to it: what justice could there be that distinction between the degrees of in imagining that its effect would have evidence which has been commonly acproved more general than that of So quiesced in. crates, or produced a system less em- “ If we consider the circumstances in barrassed and inconclusive than we have which mankind are placed, it appears found in Plato or Aristotle? Can it be that the several kinds of evidence, contended that the Jews, in the time of that derived from intuition, from deMoses, were in such a state of improve- monstration, from the senses, from moment, as to see intuitively the process of ral reasoning, and from human testimony, argument which ended in the inference have each their respective provinces, proposed to them? It may rather be and, if complete in themselves, carry affirmed, that no man could have pro- with them an equal degree of assurance. posed such an inference so nakedly and Our own existence we infer from congratuitously, unless it were supported in

sciousness. The existence of other the minds of his hearers, by familiar and things we perceive by sensation. Abiodisputable testimony." Sumner, vol. stract truths we learn from demonstra1. pp. 203—208.

tion. But the use of moral evidence,

and of that derived from human tesWe quit this part of the subject these we depend, and most depend,

timony, is far more general : and upon with the clear and able statement not only in matters relating to the ad

CHRIST. OBSERv. No. 182. Q

or

vancement of science and learning, but certain angles, which he proves by dein almost every thing which concerns monstration, than of the real existence our conduct and directs the manage- of the pen with which he describes ment of our lives.

his diagram, which he learns by sensa“ Any attempt to exalt one of these tion? species of evidence to the depreciation “ The object of these remarks is by of the rest, is scarcely less unphiloso- no means to throw a doubt over the phical than to misapply them. Des certainty of all evidence, but to quesCartes has been justly ridiculed for tion the propriety of allowi the justaking the pains to prove his own ex- tice of the distinction commonly made istence by demonstration, which he between the several species of evidence. learnt from consciousness. But it is. In conducting the atsairs of life, unin fact, a similar absurdity to require doubtedly, the proper inquiry is, not demonstrative proof of that which we whether a particular fact or proposition know by sensation, as the existence of is supported by the highest degree of external things; or to demand sensitive evidence, but, whether the evidence on proof, or demonstrative proof, or intui- which it rests is of the proper sort, and tive conviction, of that which is in its complete, according to the matter about own nature incapable of any other than which it is conversant. The world is what is called probable evidence, viz. so constituted, that we must sometimes the existence of such or such a person, depend upon consciousness, and someor the occurrence of any particular fact, times upon our

senses: that in some at a thousand miles distance, or a thou- cases we must be guided by reasoning, sand years ago.

whether demonstrative or analogical, “If it be argued, that this evidence and in others by human testimony: the is liable to error, and may mislead us : force therefore of each species of eviI answer, that there is no evidence in dence is equal, and in their peculiar which we may not be mistaken; and province the power of each is parathat it is our business to examine into mount: and all that we can require is, it, and to take care that we are not de- to know the truth according to the most ceived. We may be deceived even by infallible certainty which the nature of trusting implicitly to intuitive evidence, the particular case can yield. by which it has been commonly assert- 6 Indeed, if it were not just and reaed, that we immediately acquire the sonable to place effectual reliance on knowledge of our own existence. But what is termed probable evidence, the Mr. Stewart has acutely observed, that business of the world would soon stand it is not our own existence which we still. Human testimony is the mainlearn from consciousness, but the exist- spring of all that is planned or done at ence of the sensation, from which the the bar, in the forum, or in the senate. understanding infers the existence of the Moral probability is all that we attain, sentient being.

or seek to attain, in politics or juris" Berkeley and Hume argue, that the prudence, or even in most of the scisenses may be deceived, and therefore

Nor is it too much to affirm, require other and farther proof of the that every individual risks, without heexistence of a material world. But so sitation, his health, or his life, or his formay reason be deceived. How grossly tune, or reputation, daily in some way was the reason of the greatest philoso- or other, on the strength of evidence phers, from the age of Aristotle to that which, if it came to be narrowly exaof Reid, mistaken, in supposing that mined, would not appear to have half the ideas we possess of external objects the certainty which we may arrive at, were resemblances of those objects? It respecting the miraculous deliverance is no doubt true, that we cannot be mis- of the Israelites from Egypt, and the taken as to the notions of our own minds: veracity of the Mosaic records. The but we may be mistaken as to their re- word probable, when applied to evidence lation to other notions, in which mode of this nature, • does not imply any alone can they furnish us with demon- deficiency in the proof, but only marks strative knowledge. Even with respect the particular nature of that proof, as to mathematical truths, the proper field contradistinguished from other speof demonstration : can any thing, ex- cies of evidence. It is opposed not to cept imagination or theory, persuade what is certain, but to what admits of a mathematician, that he is more cer- being demonstrated after the manner of tain of the equality or inequality of mathematicians.'

ences.

« PrécédentContinuer »