Images de page

the class of readers for whom it seems principally intended. This, with the extraordinary cheapness of the work, may account for its extensive sale.

Although, during the first seven years after its publication, I did not consider an answer called for, seeing that it seemed to have excited little attention; the case was altered after it appeared that the sale of it had increased to many thousands, among a class of readers not the best fitted to detect its fallacies ; nd that it was circulated chiefly in those places where the population had far outgrown the means of proper Church accommodation; and where, of course, it was offered to the people not along with, but in lieu of, religious instruction. It was then pressed upon me by several friends, that the work ought to be answered, and that I ought to undertake the task, as I understood the subject of Phrenology, as maintained and taught by Mr Combe, and was able to address him in his own language; and that as I had formerly studied his book with the view of answering it, the labour was already half performed.

These reasons may perhaps be held sufficient to account for my engaging in the present undertaking.

Mr Combe's work takes so wide a range, embraces or touches so vast a variety of subjects, and contains so great a multitude of errors, that

in order to answer it completely-to separate the chaff from the wheat-and, admitting what may be true, to expose and refute all that is erroneous,—it would be necessary to write, not a book, but a library. He says in his preface, that it is his wish to avoid controversy. He takes a strange method to avoid it, seeing that he has, in the course of his speculations, not merely declared war against most, if not all, of our secular institutions, but has openly attacked the clergy, and denounced as erroneous almost every article of faith, with regard to the past and present condition of the human race, which is generally held by them on the authority of Scripture.

I shall here mention some of the points on which Mr Combe attacks the doctrines of our divines.

There are, first, the doctrines of the Original Perfection of Man, -the Fall,—and the consequent Depravity of our Nature. Here are three most important points, lying at the foundation of the whole scheme of the Christian faith, which Mr Combe denounces as errors, on grounds the most frivolous, false, and unphilosophical.

We have next an objection to the Paradisaical State of our First Parents before the Fall, founded on a mere fancy which he has adopted, that certain of the faculties of man are adapted to a world in which pain, danger, and death are elements in his condition, and, therefore, he

imagines, would be unsuited to a state from which these were excluded.

Then we have an objection to the theological doctrine that Death was brought upon man as the Punishment of Sin, founded on the assumption that death is inseparable from the nature of an organized being, and that, therefore, it must have been an original institution of the Creator.

We have an objection to the belief, (founded on a passage in Genesis,) that the Pains of Child-birth were part of the punishment inflicted on Woman at the Fall. Mr Combe maintains, that the pains alluded to are not an institution of the Creator at all, but are caused by a disobedience of some unknown Natural Laws.

With regard to the Natural Laws themselves, (which are at present universally disobeyed, for this, among other reasons, that nobody knows what they are,) Mr Combe's system proceeds on a principle directly opposite to that of Christianity. That system aims at improving the moral nature of man in the first place, holding that, if this were attained, all other improvement would necessarily follow. Mr Combe, on the contrary, maintains that, in order to improve the moral nature of man, we must first improve his physical condition; and, accordingly, he directs our attention almost exclusively to the petty details of diet, clothing, exercise, &c. "what we shall eat, and what we shall drink, and wherewithal we shall be clothed."


In regard to another most important point, his system is the reverse of that recommended in Scripture. We are there directed "to set our affections on things above, and not on things that are on the earth." Mr Combe, on the contrary, in his Essay, (intended, it will be observed, as a practical manual of conduct, for the use chiefly of the lower classes,) omits all consideration of a future state, and rests all the motives to good conduct on the consequences of that conduct in the present life.

With respect to Revelation, as Mr Combe's system is not founded on it, he had no occasion to speak of it at all. He has done so, however, and has written an entire chapter on the Connection between Science and Scripture. In this, and throughout his book, though he seems to admit the reality of revelation, it is perfectly clear that he entertains no confidence in its power and efficacy as an instrument for the improvement of the human race. Indeed, he seems to consider it as little entitled to attention in any respect, as he represents it as being so obscure, or so corrupted in the text, that no positive reliance can be placed on any thing it contains.*


I have here omitted a sentence of my original Preface, in which I referred to a passage in Mr Combe's book, where I had supposed him to state, that the precepts of Christianity are scarcely more suited to human nature and circumstances in this world, than the command to fly would be to the nature of the horse." I am satisfied that, in this instance, I have somewhat misapprehended Mr Combe's meaning. The words do occur, but


Lastly, he states views with regard to a Special Providence, and the efficacy and uses of Prayer, which are totally at variance with the doctrines of every Christian Church.

The above may serve as a specimen,—but it is quite clear that we are yet merely on the threshold,—that Mr Combe has but just broken ground before the walls of our Zion, and that he already contemplates still greater triumphs. Indeed, he has not left it to inference, but has openly declared his aim to be nothing less than to plant the standard of Phrenology on the very pinnacle of the Temple, and to make our pulpits resound with the preaching of “The Natural Laws!" He loudly accuses our divines as blind guides, because they have not already adopted these in their instructions to their flocks, instead of the clear and simple morality, and the sublime and consoling doctrines, of the Gospel.

Let it be observed, that in entering upon my present undertaking, I do not come forward for the purpose of defending Christianity, which I look upon as far removed above any risk of injury from such attacks, but to vindicate Phrenology from the reproach which has been brought upon it by some of its supporters, and by none more than Mr Combe, of its being hostile to, or

they are used conditionally, and in reference to special circumstances. I still consider the passage objectionable, but not in the way I had at first supposed.

« PrécédentContinuer »