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against divines for their neglect of human philosophy, he expresses, in terms equally decided, an opinion the very opposite of that to which I have above referred. He is arguing, that as God is the author of nature as well as of Scripture, it is impossible that any truth correctly deduced from an examination of the one, can be at variance with a correct interpretation of the other. "On the ground," he observes, "that organs and faculties have been given by the Creator, they (the philosophers) are entitled to maintain that a philosophy of morals, correctly deduced from their constitution, must accord with all correct interpretations of Scripture, otherwise religion can have no substantial foundation. If two sound interpretations of the divine will, as recorded in creation and in Scripture, can by possibility contradict each other, we can have no confidence in the moral Governor of the world. As, then, all real philosophy and all true religion must harmonize, there will be a manifest advantage in cultivating each by itself, till its full dimensions, limits, and applications shall be brought clearly to light. We may then advantageously compare them, and use the one as a means of elucidating or correcting our views of the other."
It is needless to make any commentary on the above passages, except to observe that the views are precisely the opposite of each other; and as they occur in the same work, and almost in the same page of that work, we are clearly entitled to call upon Mr Combe to declare explicitly to which of the two he chooses to adhere. .Whatever may have been the case when he wrote the Constitution of Man, and although he might have been, at that time, equally balanced between oposite opinions, it would rather appear that he has since found it advisable to lean to the sentiment expressed in the last quoted
• Constitution of Man, p. 7, col. 1.
passage. In a letter addressed by him to Dr Neill, as one of the patrons of the University, on the occasion of his being candidate for the Professorship of Logic, he gives the following exposition of his views on the subject:
"I regard religion as a sacred subject, which ought not lightly to be brought into collision with philosophy." "It appears to me more advantageous to investigate nature by herself first, and to proceed to compare her phenomena with Scripture, only after being certain that we have rightly observed and interpreted them.
By this method we shall preserve our minds calm and unbiassed for the investigation of truth; we shall test nature by herself, which is the proper standard by which to try her; and we shall avoid bringing discredit on Revelation by involving it in unseemly conflicts with natural phenomena."
We have no right, perhaps, to insist that Mr Combe should, in his philosophical speculations, agree in every point with the doctrines of our divines; we have no right to insist that where he conscientiously differs from them, he should state that difference in language uniformly complaisant and courteous; but we have a right to insist that he should be consistent, that he should not lay down one rule in one page of his work, and a perfectly opposite one in another, and that he should not lay down rules as binding upon his theological opponents which he himself breaks through without scruple in every chapter- wherever, in short, it happens to suit his purpose. If he insists, as he seems to do, that divines and theologians shall refrain from attacking or criticising his views, or comparing them with those which they have deduced from their interpretations of Scripture," till their full dimensions, limits, and applications shall be brought clearly to light," then, most
assuredly, he has no right whatever to attack the opinions and doctrines of theologians, or to compare them with the views derived from his investigation of nature, till he can say that these views have reached their full dimensions, and that we may be perfectly certain that the natural phenomena have been throughout rightly observed and interpreted.
If, therefore, Mr Combe shall finally adhere to the view of the subject last quoted, and stated in his letter to Dr Neill, it may be expected, that, for the sake of consistency, he will expunge from the next edition of his work, the whole tirade of abuse which he has so unsparingly lavished on the clergy, on account of their refraining from mixing up the doctrines of our most holy faith with the speculations of human philosophy — speculations, as yet, confessedly crude and imperfect, and which, certainly, are at this moment very far from having" attained their full dimensions," or from having "their whole limits and applications brought clearly to light."
Apart entirely from the inconsistency ahove noticed, from which Mr Combe may clear himself as he best may, there is something quite preposterous in the whole of the accusations he brings against the clergy. He says, "they have frequently applied scientific discoveries in proving the existence and developing the character of the Deity." And so far, doubtless, they have done well; but he adds, "they have failed in applying either the discoveries themselves, or the knowledge of the divine character obtained by means of them, to the construction of any system of philosophy capable of combining harmoniously with religion, and promoting the improvement of the human race.'
* Constitution of Man, p. 5, col. 1.
It may be here remarked, that it is not the business or the duty of divines to form "Systems of Philosophy." It is the business of philosophers to do so, and if they perform this task correctly, there is no fear whatever that they will succeed in establishing any doctrine inconsistent with a sound interpretation of Scripture. The truth is, that the field of philosophical investigation, and the field of theological investigation, lie entirely separate; and if those who labour in them respectively, keep each within their own bounds, and do not invade the proper province of the other, there can be no danger of their ever coming into unseemly collision. The nearest approach that they can ever make to each other, the utmost that can be expected in regard to their throwing light upon each other, will be this, that when we shall be able to attain views of both that shall be perfect and complete in all their parts, it will be seen that there is not (as we are now satisfied there cannot be) any inconsistency between them; but, on the contrary, that there is (as we are now satisfied there must be) a perfect and a beautiful harmony between them,—the one of them reflecting an image of the other, as in a smooth mirror.
In the meantime, and until the philosophers shall have completed their investigations, and are able to exhibit their doctrines "in their full dimensions, limits, and applications,”—and after we are perfectly certain that they have succeeded "in rightly observing and interpreting nature,”—Mr Combe is quite right in saying, that the two studies should be kept separate. And this is exactly that which divines have done, and are doing, and that for which Mr Combe has most inconsistently lavished upon them all kinds of vituperation, threatening them with the contempt of "the people," and the "pressure from without," forcing them " to remodel the entire system of pulpit instruction."*
* Constitution of Man, p. 97, col. 1.
By persevering in the course which they have hitherto followed, divines will best comply with the injunctions of their great Master, who sent forth his disciples, not certainly to teach the natural laws, or any system of human philosophy, but with the command to preach the Gospel to all nations. They will thus best imitate the example of these apostles themselves, one of the most zealous and energetic of whom, (and the only one, it may be observed, who was endowed with any portion of human learning,) declared with regard to himself and his brethren," The Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified; unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God."*
This apostle, in the same epistle to the Corinthians, when addressing those very Greeks, who, as he had previously mentioned, "sought after wisdom," and looked upon the doctrine of the Cross as "foolishness," emphatically declares, "I determined not to know any thing among you save Jesus Christ, and him crucified."+ This entirely accords with one of the views stated by Mr Combe; to the other view stated by him, it is entirely opposed but whether he shall adhere to the one view or the other, our divines may well be excused if they consider Saint Paul a safer guide than Mr Combe, and the gospels and epistles of the New Testament more clearly within the object of their mission than the "Natural Laws" or the "Constitution of Man."
Mr Combe was, at one time, a great admirer of Lord Bacon, and considered it as the highest honour to be ranked among the number of his followers. Of late, * 1 Cor. i. 22-24.
+ Ibid. ii. 2.