« PrécédentContinuer »
departments, has NOT contained within itself the WHOLE elements of its own improvement, but that it has required IN BOTH successive interpositions of divine power to carry into effect the designs and purposes of the Deity respecting it.
2d, I conceive that Mr Combe has failed completely in proving from history the march of moral and intellectual improvement generally throughout the world; that, on the contrary, it is proved by history, and by existing monuments, that the earliest empires were as far, if not farther, advanced in arts and sciences, than any that succeeded them previous to the introduction of Christianity. And as to the improvement which has taken place since that period, and which is now rapidly progressing, it is entirely confined to those countries which have been blessed with the light of Christianity, the remainder of the world being either stationary or retrograde.
3d, I conceive that he has entirely failed in his argument upon philosophical grounds against the Scripture doctrine of the degeneracy or depravity of human nature. The whole analogy of nature leads to the belief that man was created in a state of perfection, and his present state sufficiently shews that he has everywhere degenerated from that perfection.
4th, Without in the least disputing the uniformity and constancy of nature's operations, of which I am as well aware as Mr Combe, I think he has completely failed in eliciting from thence a system of natural laws which shall be sufficient for the regulation of man's conduct in the present life; or in shewing that it is possible for man, in his present state, either to discover or to obey all these laws, so as to remedy the disorders that have crept into the world.
5th, I conceive that Mr Combe, and other writers who maintain the sufficiency of the natural laws, have
failed in giving any intelligible view of these laws, even in the department of morals; that the view they give is utterly defective and unsound, and rests on no foundation of philosophical principle; and that no means exist, or at least, that they have not pointed out the means, of discovering a perfect rule of conduct by the lights of natural reason.
6th, On the other hand, that the moral law, as revealed in the Scriptures, is absolutely perfect, and comprehends in a few simple and intelligible precepts a complete system of human duty, that this law is "universal, invariable, unbending, harmonious in itself, conformable to the most perfect moral feeling, and the most perfect reason, and in the strictest sense divine."
7th, I conceive that the account given by Mr Combe of the special faculties, propensities, and sentiments, (in which I believe he closely follows Dr Spurzheim,) is defective in several respects, and offers an erroneous view of our nature, by making too marked a distinction between the faculties peculiar to man, and those which are common to him and certain of the animals, degrading the latter beneath their just rank, that the faculties and their organs cannot be correctly exhibited, as Mr Combe does, in a tabular view, as divided into distinctly marked sections, but that the whole hang together as a harmonious scheme, nicely adjusted and balanced by a great variety of minute and curious adaptations and dependencies, and evidently bearing marks of divine contrivance.
8th, I conceive that Mr Combe has completely failed in establishing the principle of the supremacy of what he calls exclusively the moral sentiments. That, on the contrary, all the feelings and sentiments of our nature have their uses and abuses, their proper and improper modes of action, their moral or immoral tendencies;
and that each particular instance of such conduct is approved or disapproved by the general power of moral judgment called Conscience, being the combined dictate of the whole feelings enlightened and guided by intellect.
9th, I conceive Mr Combe has failed in establishing any sound philosophical objection to the Scripture doctrine of the depravity of human nature; and that, on the contrary, that doctrine is strictly in harmony with what Phrenology reveals with regard to the faculties of man, and with the present state and whole manifestations of his faculties.
10th, I conceive Mr Combe has entirely failed in his objection to the paradisaical state, founded on the existence of certain organs in the brain, and certain faculties in the mind, which he supposes to be inconsistent with such a state-that such an objection is quite unphilosophical but at any rate that the faculties in question were necessary to man in every state, and might have received full employment and gratification in a world where there was neither sin, sorrow, pain, nor danger.
11th, I conceive it has been shewn, that Mr Combe's objection to the Scripture doctrine, that death was brought upon man as the punishment of sin, is an unphilosophical objection that he has no grounds, in fact or in philosophy, for maintaining that man, at his creation, and anterior to his fall from innocence, must have been liable to death—that the state in which man was then placed was totally different from the present, and one as to which natural reason affords no light, and as to which we are as little entitled to draw conclusions, as we are with regard to his condition in a future state beyond the grave and that it is transgressing the plainest rules of philosophical inquiry to attempt to investigate a subject where no data exist for enabling us to come to any certain conclusion.
12th, I conceive that Mr Combe is wrong in omitting to take any notice of a future state, or of the arguments from natural reason, and especially from Phrenology, for supposing such a state to be probable : that this is particularly inexcusable in a treatise professedly of a practical and popular nature, intended as a guide to individual conduct.
13th, I conceive Mr Combe has completely failed in his attempts to prove, that the pains of parturition are not an institution of the Creator; or that they may be evaded or removed, by obeying certain unknown natural laws.
14th, I conceive Mr Combe has been completely unsuccessful in his attempts to shew the necessity or propriety of bringing Science in aid of Scripture—that his views on this subject exhibit the most glaring inconsistency that the authority of Lord Bacon is most express against mixing divine and human knowledgethat the case of Galileo, which he is eternally quoting, is against him, it being equally improper to bring Science into collision with Scripture, as to bring Scripture into collision with Science-that he has failed in making out a case against Scripture, from differences of doctrine, various readings, and difficulty of interpretation - that by his garbled and partial quotations from Jeremy Taylor, he has represented that divine as stating opinions the very reverse of those he actually entertained- that he has misrepresented the doctrines held by the Church of Scotland concerning Prayer, and has given a defective and erroneous account of the case of Professor Leechman in relation to that subject— that his own view of prayer is radically defective and absurd—and lastly, that it is impossible, upon any grounds drawn from Phrenology, either to subvert or materially to support any theological doctrine that is clearly revealed in the Scriptures, the
two subjects lying perfectly distinct, and their spheres being divided by an impassable boundary.
Lastly, I conceive that Mr Combe's views on the subject of criminal legislation have been admirably refuted by Mr Combe himself, and that on grounds which, on his own principles, it is impossible for him to
There are various other subjects treated of in Mr Combe's work, into which at present I have neither leisure nor inclination to enter. I cannot prevail upon myself, for instance, to engage in any discussion as to the laws of propagation, which, as it appears to me, it would be better to leave to be treated of scientifically and separately, as an object of medical inquiry. The details to which it leads appear to me unutterably disgusting in a work like the present. Some of them may have a foundation in nature, but many others are pre-eminently absurd, and some of them, as I think, demonstrably false. It appears to me that the knowledge which mankind in general possess on this subject is already quite sufficient for any practical or practicable purpose; and that, in relation to the intercourse between the sexes, matters are better ordered by leaving them to be regulated by natural taste and natural feeling, than by attempting to subvert these, and to put them under the dominion of any set of hard philosophical rules. I am not prepared on this subject, to sacrifice the retiring graces of female modesty, or the hallowed flame of virtuous love, to the cold calculations of a harsh and unbending philosophy.
Neither am I disposed to follow Mr Combe through his speculations on politics and political economy, which appear to be equally crude and undigested, as those upon the subjects which have been already touched upon, In these speculations he seems to have taken no enlarged,