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the hands of his lordship. He fears openly to deny it, but he would have us think that it is dependent for its very existence upon “ Natural Theology,”* and then
The cause of natural theology he degrades and damnifies.
But, before we proceed to prove this, we must say one word upon the double title of this “ Discourse." It would, in its duplicity, seem to insinuate that Brougham has illustrated Paley. The only illustration that the necessarian and expediency-loving divine has had from his illustrator, is, in many invidious remarks, and in wholesale plagiarism, not of words, but of ideas and arguments ; so disguised, indeed, that Brougham may now very safely own them, for we are sure that, were Paley living, he would not.
There is truth in natural theology. It is, so to speak, an innate principle of the human mind. While it acts upon us so as to cause us to adore in humbleness, it is a safe, and even a heart-cherishing and ennobling contemplation. It has always existed among the educated, even where revelation did not; but where revelation is, it has too often proved its deadliest foe; puffing up the human heart with that vain parade of terms which vanity is so fond to call knowledge, and which is no more than that which was to the “ Greeks” foolishness. Yet, after all, what is this discovery that we owe to natural theology? Merely, that there is a first cause-a God. Does it require ponderous tomes to prove this? To say nothing of the assurances of Holy Writ, every storm thunders it forth to the dullest capacity, every expanding flower whispers it to the weakest. Yes, there is truth in natural theology, but not in the theology of Lord Brougham.
We accuse his lordship, in the first place, where he is most intelligible, of endeavouring to promulgate such a system that, while it affects to draw the mind to the contemplation of the one God, it tempts it, at the same time, to neglect first, and afterwards utterly to disregard, all forms of faith ; and, secondly, where he is not so intelligible, it appears to us, that either in malice or in ignorance, perhaps under the influence of both, he has made what he is pleased to call “ Natural Theology," such a jumble of contradictions, as will lead the mind at once to repudiate it, and thus, by a filicidal act of Lord Brougham, in destroying what he is pleased to esteem the major of the argument, the minor, that is, revelation, falls of course to the ground.
The first sixteen pages of the work consist principally of definitions so nice, and approaching the one to another so nearly, and even mingling, as it were, their extreme edges, that instead of clearing the rough ground of the tangled weeds and intricate obstructions that always lie before the very outworks of the subject, he only makes the confusion the greater. What definite idea is there contained in the following paragraph ?
• The merely contemplative pursuits, which thus form one of the great branches of mental exertion, seem again to be divisible into two classes, by a line that, to a careless observer, appears sufficiently defined. The objects of our inquiry and meditation appear to be either those things in the physical and spiritual worlds, with which we are conversant througb our senses, or by means of our internal conscious
* We refer, in this place, our readers to a re-perusal of Mr. Johnson's letter,
ness; or those things with which we are made acquainted only by reasoning-by the evidence of things unseen and unfelt. We either discuss the properties and relations of actually perceived and conceived beings, physical and mental - that is, the objects of sense and of consciousness or we carry our inquiries beyond those things which we see and feel; we investigate the origin of them and of ourselves ; we rise from the contemplation of nature and of the spirit within us, to the first cause of all, both of body and of mind.”
What are those things in “the spiritual world with which we are conversant through our senses ?” And what are those strange things which we are to understand by the strange evidence of things unseen and unfelt? Let the reader ponder over the whole passage, which pretends to lead him to the First Cause, and say if he ever before met with a more complete specimen of mystification.
After this, his lordship very arbitrarily, and, we think, somewhat injudiciously, divides philosophy into human science and divine science: injudiciously because, notwithstanding this decision, he goes on to prove that they ought not and cannot reasonably be divided, seeing that the proofs of the one are precisely and exactly those by which we arrive at the knowledge of the other.
Lord Brougham has before told us that there are things which we must understand by the evidence of some other things that are unseen and unfelt; and yet in page 26 he says, that “the evidence upon which our assent to both classes of truths reposes (meaning physical and divine) is of the same kind, namely, inferences drawn by reasoning from sensations or ideas, originally presented by the external senses, or by our inward consciousness."
In the name of common sense, to what are these inferences presented, drawn by reasoning from sensations derivable from the external sense? We ask to what—or, still deeper to plunge into this slough of bird-lime,—to what are presented our inferences drawn from our inward consciousness ?
Almost the whole of the second section is a repetition of Paley's arguments, but without Paley's lucidness or his popular manner of enforcing them, which, after all, amount to this only, that when we see design we must infer a designer, where we experience an effect we must presuppose a cause. All this is as clear as are mathematical propositions; but even this, the best part of Brougham's work, he has, with a skilful obliquity, contrived to render injurious to true religion, and offensive to humble and sound-hearted piety, by presenting a degrading picture of the Deity as a mere plastic agent, balancing the yolk in eggs, adjusting the prismatic machinery of eyes, and complimenting him upon making “an instrument far more perfect than the achromatic glass of Mr. Dollond.” Now, talking in this too familiar manner, and calling God the great artificer, with other terms that seem to imply effort and the exercise of ingenuity, is assuredly derogatory to the divine essence. It is enough for us to know that He willed this universe and all that it contains. Let us not contemplate Him with Lord Brougham as manipulating an eye, but as issuing one vast and general law, which all matter instinctively obeys.
His lordship says, “ When we see that a certain effect, namely, distinct vision, is performed by an achromatic instrument, the eye, why do we infer that some one must have made it ? Because we no
Oct. 1835,-VOL. XIV.NO. LIV,
where, and at no time, have had any experience of any one thing fashioning itself.” Now, we humbly conceive that this is not the way to view the subject. The presenting to the mind the idea of the Almighty employed upon an eye, instead of honouring and worshipping the general law by which all eyes are fashioned, is much less consonant to the feelings of the real Christian, and by no means appropriate to the man of science or even to the philosopher.
We do at all times, and every where, experience things fashioning themselves. This very eye does, though always in obedience to God's immutable law. The nucleus upon which it is formed in the early fætus has the faculty of adapting to itself all the matter necessary to develope itself in its perfect state. Lord Brougham has fashioned himself both morally and physically, and, we thank God, in a fashion not likely to become very prevalent.
We now dismiss this, the best portion of the work, by stating it as our honest conviction, that the author has injured, as far as in him lay, his argument, by unintentionally, perhaps, giving an artificial and undignified idea of the Deity, and that he has covertly sown the first seeds of infidelity, by starting subjects, that if followed out to their natural consequences, must destroy all faith, and establish in its stead a theism proveable by fallible human reason alone, and which, if entertained, the bewildered mind, if it escape the darkness of atheism, can find no other refuge than that which deism can afford.
His third section treats of the immateriality of the soul. It is the most confused and least logical of the whole. His lordship's notion of the mind seems to be visionary and dreamy in the extreme. He would have it to be an existence independent of matter, and yet immortal. Now the whole tendency of the Scriptures goes to prove that the soul must have some identity, something when it has “ shuffled off this mortal coil" by which it is distinguishable from another soul. In a pious sense, our Saviour himself was a materialist. He has told us, that the dead shall arise, that they shall be judged in the flesh, and in the flesh they shall be punished. It is no where insinuated that the soul shall be an abstraction, an idea, an intangible ignis fatuus, but that it shall have, if blessed, the organs of sensation that shall administer exquisite happiness, or if condemned, that will undergo infinite torture. We will defy the human mind to conceive an immaterial Deity. Let the blessed and all holy essence effuse itself over boundless space, or concentrate itself into a single point of the most ineffable light, we must still have the notion of something that can make itself felt and seen; but how infinitely sublimed this is, the human understanding can never approach to contemplate.
We are far, very far, from being materialists in the gross sense of the word, but believing, as we do, in the immortality of the soul, and in the doctrine of future rewards and punishments, we must necessarily come to the conclusion that, in our after life, there will be something material, we care not how refined it is, upon which pain and pleasure may act.
All Lord Brougham's reveries about dreaming amount to this: that man exercises his memory sleeping as well as awake. Dreams prove nothing of the soul having a distinct existence from the body,
We will now quote what the author highly values himself upon as a new argument in favour of his proposition.
“ Nothing can be conceived better calculated than these facts to demonstrate the extreme agility of the mental powers, their total diversity from any material substances or actions; nothing better adapted to satisfy us that the nature of the mind is consistent with its existence apart from the body.
“ The changes which the mind undergoes in its activity, its capacity, its mode of operation, are matter of constant observation, indeed, of every man's experience. Its essence is the same ; its fundamental nature is unalterable ; it never loses the distinguishing peculiarities which separate it from matter ; never acquires any of the properties of the latter ; but it undergoes important changes, both in the progress of time, and by means of exercise and culture. The development of the bodily powers appears to affect it, and so does their decay; but we rather ought to say, that, in ordinary cases, its improvement is contemporaneous with the growth of the body, and its décline generally is contemporaneous with that of the body, after an advanced period of life. For it is an undoubted fact, and almost universally true, that the mind, before extreme old age, becomes more sound, and is capable of greater things, during nearly thirty years of diminished bodily powers ; that, in most cases, it suffers no abatement of strength during ten years more of bodily decline; that, in many cases, a few years more of bodily decrepitude produce no effect upon the mind; and that, in some instances, its faculties remain bright to the last, surviving the almost total extinction of the corporeal endowments. It is certain that the strength of the body, its agility, its patience of fatigue, indeed all its qualities, decline from thirty at the latest; and yet the mind is improving rapidly from thirty to fifty; suffers little or no decline before sixty; and therefore is better when the body is enfeebled, at the age of fifty-eight or fifty-nine, than it was in the acme of the corporeal faculties thirty years before. It is equally certain, that while the body is rapidly decaying, between sixty or sixty-three and seventy, the mind suffers hardly any loss of strength in the generality of men ; that men continue to seventy-five or seventy-six in the possession of all their mental powers, while few can then boast of more than the remains of physical strength; and instances are not wanting of persons who, between eighty and ninety, or even older, when the body can hardly be said to live, possess every faculty of the mind unimpaired. We are authorized to conclude, from these facts, that unless some unusual and violent accident interferes, such as a serious illness or a fatal contusion, the ordinary course of life presents the mind and the body running courses widely different, and in great part of the time in opposite directions; and this affords strong proof, both that the mind is independent of the body, and that its destruction in the period of its entire vigour is contrary to the analogy of nature,
“ The strongest of all the arguments both for the separate existence of mind, and for its surviving the body remains, and it is drawn from the strictest induction of facts. The body is constantly undergoing change in all its parts. Probably no person at the age of twenty bas one single particle in any part of his body which he had at ten ; and still less does any portion of the body he was born with continue to exist in or with him. All that he before had has now entered into new combinations, forming parts of other men, or of animals, or of vegetable or mineral substances, exactly as the body he now bas will afterwards be resolved into new combinations after his death. Yet the mind continues one and the same, without change or shadow of turning. None of its parts can be resolved; for it is one and single, and it remains unchanged by the changes of the body. The argument would be quite as strong though the change undergone by the body were admitted not to be so complete, and though some small portion of its harder parts were supposed to continue with us through life.”
Now all this is contrary to the fact. We find the same self-existent and independent mind,—partaking of every disorder of the body, and, to all outward appearances, in the cases of syncope and insanity, become utterly in abeyance and shattered, whilst the body remains intact, and, at least in the latter case, enjoys a good state of health. Too often do we find that the body survives the mind, and that men begin to die at the top. If the mind be self-existent and independent, it is not in ratiocination necessary that every body should have a mind. If this assumed self-existence be a true thing, when a birth took place, the mind intended for the new-born might miss its appointed home, and thus the body live to a good old age and die without it. Indeed, the supposition does not seem so absurd after reading certain discourses “on natural theology." The assumed unchangeableness of the mind, cited in the above quotation, is worth nothing as an argument: for in the first place, it does vary with our poor variable frames; and, in the second place, if it were unchangeable, it does not necessarily follow that it can exist separate from the body that sustains it. Observe, we do not impugn the doctrine of the soul's immortality,—for we believe it, and assert it, we only say, that his lordship's argument is worth
" If the mind continues the same, while all or nearly all the body is changed, it follows that the existence of the mind depends not in the least degree upon the existence of the body; for it has already survived a total change of, or, in the common use of the words, an entire destruction of that body. But again, if the strongest argument to show that the mind perishes with the body, nay, the only argument be, as it indubitably is, derived from the phenomena of death, the fact to which we have been referring affords an answer to this. For the argument is that we know of no instance in which the mind has ever been known to exist after the death of the body. Now here is exactly the instance desiderated, it being manifest that the same process which takes place on the body more suddenly at death is taking place more gradually, but as effectually in the result, during the whole of life, and that death itself does not more completely resolve the body into its elements and form it into new combinations than living fifteen or twenty years does destroy, by like resolution and combination, the self-same body. And yet after those years have elapsed, and the former body has been dissipated and formed into new combinations, the mind remains the same as before, exercising the same memory and consciousness, and so preserving the same personal identity as if the body had suffered no change at all. In short, it is not more correct to say that all of us who are now living have bodies formed of what were once the bodies of those who went before us, than it is to say that some of us who are now living at the age of fifty have bodies which in part belonged to others now living at that and other ages. The phenomena are precisely the same, and the operations are performed in like manner though with different degrees of expedition. "Now all would believe in the separate existence of the soul if they had experience of its existing apart from the body. But the facts referred to prove that it does exist apart from one body with which it once was united, and though it is in union with another, yet as it is not adherent to the same, it is shown to have an existence separate from, and independent of, that body. So all would believe in the soul surviving the body, if after the body's death its existence were made manifest. But the facts referred to prove that after the body's death, that is, after the chronic dissolution which the body undergoes during life, the mind continues to exist as before. Here, tben, we bave that proof so much desiderated—the existence of the soul after the dissolution of the bodily frame with which it was connected. The two cases cannot, in any soundness of reasoning, be distinguished ; and this argument, therefore, one of pure induction, derived partly from physical science, through the evidence of our senses, partly from psychological science by the testimony of our consciousness, appears to prove the possible Immortality of the Soul 'almost as rigorously as if one were to rise from the dead.'”
Now, in reference to the above, let us make ourselves understood thus :- Take a lamp, supply it with pure oil, and light the wick. Continue feeding it for the space of twelve hours; and if, though it be fed unequally, the flame be found of a much more unchanging brilliance till the fuel is wholly withdrawn, than the mind is proved to be unvarying through its changes of infancy, adolescence, visibly