« 이전계속 »
lose in our nobler faculty of combination. It may also be remarked, that the minds of some who have been exclusively accustomed to strict mathematical demonstration are often indisposed to give to moral evidence its just value, and duly to estimate that probability, which is the very guide of life. Here again what we gain in the habit of close and laborious thinking, we lose in the power of ready judgment and practical discrimination.
"In both these cases, the imperfect state of human knowledge has a strong tenden.. cy to lead men into an indecisive and a sceptical turn of mind upon all those subjects which are not the objects of immediate sense, or of mathematical demonstration. Religion, whether natural or revealed, is the object of neither. The being and attributes of God are not proclaimed by a daily voice from heaven, nor is the truth of the Gospel capable of the same sort of proof, as a proposition in Euclid. Yet, from an enlarged and general view of the frame and constitution of things around us, we are as morally certain of the existence of their first Almighty cause, as we are sensibly convinced of the existence of things themselves; and, if we examine the evidence upon which Christianity is grounded, we shall find, that it approaches as nearly to actual assurance as the nature of any testimony will admit. They who are not contented with this, expect more than it is reasonable for God to give, or for man to require."
From considering the most prevalent causes of scepticism, Mr. Rennell applies himself to examine the truth of the allegation, that it prevails among men of physical science, and particularly among those of the medical profession. He observes very truly, that this imputation against science is due to the French school of natural philosophers. Till their time, the most distinguished natural philosophers were among the firmest advocates, and most successful defenders of the Christian faith. But it is a great mistake to consider the scientific researches of the French philosophers as the cause of their infidelity.-On the contrary, their previous infidelity was the cause why they resorted to natural philosophy for arguments against the truth of religion. It is of the essence of the physical sciences, that they cannot possibly of themselves excite one doubt, or raise one solid argument against the immortality of the soul, or a future state; and it is only by endeavouring to force from them something to disprove these doctrines that the sciences have been resorted to by modern infidels. The reason why these sciences can excite no such doubt and afford no such argument is plainly this,-that their only object is matter; whereas the sole object with which the other sciences is conversant is MIND. The most accurate knowledge of the qualities of matter is no help to the knowledge of mind; and when the professors of the physical sciences proceed so far as to attribute to mere matter the essential qualities of mind, the error proceeds from abso lute ignorance of intellectual science. A very satisfactory proof of this is deducible from the mistakes into which men, conversant only with intellectual science, have fallen from ignorance of the principles of the science of physics. Hume and the metaphysical sceptics argued from the principles of mind to prove that matter had no existence, and resolved all its properties into mere mind,→ the infidel natural philosophers of France, on the contrary, have VOL, III, NO. Į.
argued from the principles of matter, that mind has no existence, but that all its properties may belong to mere matter.
Now, from this very remarkable circumstance, it would just be as reasonable to presume, that the absurd opinion of the non-existence of the material world is prevalent among the proficients in intellectual science, as that the other absurd notion of materialism, or reducing all mind into mere matter, is necessarily prevalent among those who have devoted themselves to the study of the sciences which are purely physical.
As for those who have endeavoured to draw arguments in favour of the materiality of the human soul from the phenomena of physical science, Mr. Rennell insists very strongly on the circumstance that these arguments are all strained, and are not the cause, but the consequence, of their infidelity. It is not the discoveries in these sciences which have led the way to infidelity; but that some of the authors of those discoveries were previously infidels.
"If we examine the matter of fact, we shall find that these philosophers are not the leaders, but the followers only, of the long and general apostacy of their country. It is not their science which has affected their belief, but it is their previous infidelity which has tainted their science."
The great danger to which those are exposed in the study of physical science, who are ignorant even of the first principles of intellectual science, is this, that being accustomed to account for all the phenomena of that science from mere secondary causes, they forget the first cause of all things. They study the laws which regulate natural bodies, but forget that there can be no law without a lawgiver. Mr. Rennell has very well described the effects which result from the use of the term nature, as excluding all notion of the ALMIGHTY GOD. The following is his account of the state to which the mere natural philosopher is thus reduced:
"Having been long accustomed to account for the phenomena around him, from the agency of secondary causes, his contemplation is gradually withdrawn from the first cause of all things. He traces the wind and the storm to the operations of the electric fluid; he accounts for all these awful convulsions of the elements from philosophical causes, till he is unwilling to join in the juster notions of unlettered ignorance, and to acknowledge that it is the glorious God which maketh the thunder!" By associating, again, real events with fictitious terms, he is often tempted to ascribe to the latter, a certain mysterious influence, which practically invalidates the existence of a higher power. In all his researches into the phenomena of the world around him, and the laws by which they are regulated, the philosopher directs his attention so exclusively to what he terms nature, and the operations of nature, that he at last begins to attribute to this delusive term, an actual existence, and to ascribe to a word only, and to a shadow, what he ought to ascribe to the being and to the attributes of God. The word nature is certainly a very convenient term for expressing the uniform action of the first Almighty cause, according to certain laws which in his wisdom he has enacted; but when, by frequent repetition, we lose sight of the real meaning of the term, or, by associating it with the phenomena around us, we begin to give it an actual existence, then it is that we are encouraging the growth of a sceptical principle in the mind. By substituting in our spe
culations, nature for God, we keep out of sight the Creator and the Governor of the universe, till we finally doubt the reality of his Providence and of his power."
From these errors the greatest and the most true natural philosophers have ever been exempt; and there is no just reason to impute to science itself, the discredit of occasioning those errors into which the narrowness and ignorance of some of its professors have betrayed them. And as we cannot look upon that illustrious body of men who adorn the history of physical science, as containing any considerable number of infidels or sceptics, we must not think, because some of its most distinguished ornaments have, through their ignorance of intellectual science, drawn from it arguments in favour of their bigoted infidelity—that their ignorance or their infidelity are either the cause or the consequence of their proficiency in physical science.
The same thing must be said of the scepticism of some medical men, because their knowledge and their studies are in the same department of science, and do not necessarily involve any proficiency in the science of mind. Mr. Rennell, after attributing a great part of the scepticism which is sometimes found among medical men to the influence which, by their skill, they acquire over secondary causes, makes the following very just remarks:
"Much, however, of the infidelity which we find in the practitioners of medicine, is to be attributed to another cause. Of those who are destined to fill the ordinary branches of the profession, few have received any intellectual education at all.-At the age of fourteen all general instruction is usually concluded, and their views are unceasingly directed to the study and practice of their future profession. The superiority which young men feel, from an early initiation into the mysteries of a science, so important in its object, and so general in its application, naturally enough engenders that self opinion, which is the surest obstacle to any advancement in the paths of general knowledge. Forgetting, as we have seen, the existence of a first cause, they would account for all the phenomena which they witness, from the action of secondary causes only; and consequently the more accurately they observe, and the more deeply they investigate, the more surely they puzzle and perplex their understandings; till, at last, their embarrassments conclude in a state of general scepticism.-Independently, again, of the natural pruriency of a young and undisciplined mind towards universal doubt, the student finds that religious scepticism is especially adapted to a course of sensual indulgence and practical profligacy-Infidelity is a very easy casuist-it teaches him, that man is his own master; responsible neither to his maker-who is nobody; nor to his soul-which is nothing."
As a final proof of the injustice of the imputation against the great body of medical men and natural philosophers, Mr. Rennell makes a triumphant appeal to the sound religious faith of the most distinguished among them, both in former days, and in the present, as evinced by the doctrines maintained in their writings. And thus the blot which is cast upon the science of medicine, by the infidel doctrines of a few, is lost in the splendour of that reputation which is attached to such names as those of ABERNETHY and JOHN HUNTER.
We have now examined what we may consider the first part
of Mr. Rennell's work. The second part contains an exposure of the absurdity of the English materialists of the present day, who have followed (so far as they understand them) the doctrines of those of France. For ourselves, we confess, that though this part of the work is the most elaborate and the most successful, we have found it the least interesting. The very doctrines which it confutes are so revolting to common sense and right reason; and their advocates, such as Sir Thomas Morgan and Mr. Lawrence-not to speak it profanely-have discovered so much gross ignorance of the just principles of all philosophy, that they really do not furnish us with one respectable reason for supposing that they themselves can believe in the doctrines which they promulgate.
It will, nevertheless, be expected of us that we should give some account of this part of the work. The authors whose doctrines Mr. Rennell has examined are, M. Bichat, Sir T. C. Morgan, and Mr. Lawrence. These all agree in considering life, not as an independent principle, but depending entirely on organization. But of these three gentlemen, M. Bichat is the only one who has intelligibly communicated his notions upon the subject. If Mr. Lawrence understands the doctrine, he has been very unhappy in his reasonings upon it. But, as for Sir T. C. Morgan, it will be quite plain to any one, who will be so bold as to examine his writings, that he has adopted the doctrine without understanding it in tolerable degree.
After confounding life and organization, these gentlemen, very naturally, proceed to confound matter and mind, body and soul. Mr. Lawrence very plainly declares himself satisfied that the brain is not merely the instrument by which the mind carries on its operations, but that it is of itself capable of thought; and is, in fact, that which is called the mind or the soul. To this ridiculous conclusion they have arrived from mere confusion of terms and definitions, and from totally neglecting to consider those' distinctions between mind and matter with which every ordinary man is familiar.
Mr. Rennell first exposes the mistakes on the subject of life into which M. Bichat has fallen. M. Bichat does not admit of any such thing as intellectual life. He has described life as of two kinds, organic and animal. Organic life is that which he says is common to animals and vegetables; and the passions, he says, are among the functions of organic life. After quoting the passage in which those opinions are expressed, Mr. Rennell says:
"Thus, then, according to M. Bichat, a cabbage and a man, having the functions of organic life in common, and the passions being among those functions, it follows, that jealousy, anger, revenge, and love, are the common affections of the man and the cabbage. It will be scen at a glance, that the fallacy consists in omitting to distinguish
those passions, such as jealousy, anger, &c. which have their origin and gratification entirely in the mind, from those of sensuality, &c. which require the instrumentality of outward organs."
In another place, M. Bichat attempts' to shew, that the pas sions are the result of our material organization, and that, therefore, they cannot be softened, nor their sphere contracted, because they are not under the influence of the will. And yet the very man who entertains this opinion, has asserted, that education may bestow such perfection on the judgment and reflection as to make them more powerful than the passions. Mr. Rennell having extracted both these passages, makes the following excellent obser
“The very exercise of this superior power of judgment and reflection must ultimately depend upon the will, as every man's self experience will inform him and if the impulse of the passions is thus subdued, it can only be by restraint; and where there is restraint, the sphere must be virtually contracted. As far, therefore, as the theory of M. Bichat is intelligible, it contains within itself a gross contradiction.
"To such paltry sophistry, and such palpable absurdities, are men of the highest professional eminence reduced, when they would annihilate that first, that noblest gift of God to man-THE IMMORTAL SOUL. The physiological labours of M. Bichat reflect the highest credit both upon his sagacity and his industry, and may justly be considered as forming a sort of text book for every student in that department of science. But when he would mix up atheism and materialism with the mass, he falls into those errors and contradictions, of which any rational mind might justly be ashamed: yet these, when bolstered up by physiological facts, not only pass without detection, but are hailed as the signals of an original and an enlightened understanding."
After exposing the absurdity of confounding life with organization, Mr. Rennell proceeds to lay down that which he conceives to be the true notions with respect to life, distinguishing it into the three kinds of vegetable or mere organic life-animal life, or the life of volition; and finally, intellectual life, or the life of the soul of man. Thus, in vegetables, we find the single principle of organic life; in animals, the double principle of organic life, and the life of volition; and, in man, the triple principle of organic life, the life of volition, and the life of intellect; and by these he shews that the phenomena of nature are alone satisfactorily to be explained. We extract the following account of organization, not as containing any new opinions, nor as the best exposition of the old, but yet as a good exposition of them, and a fair specimen of the author's powers.
Organization is no living principle-it is no active cause. An organ is an instrument. Organization, therefore, is nothing more than a system of parts, so constructed and arranged, as to co operate to one common purpose. This orderly disposition of parts exists generally, though a particular part may be disturbed, after its subject has ceased to live. The ear is the organ of hearing, and its correspondence with the brain exists as much in the dead as in the living body. Most of our knowledge, indeed, of this very organization, or arrangement of parts, and how they cooperate and mutually support each other, has been derived from our observations upon the dead subject. Organization, then, being nothing more than the arrangement of instruments, there must be something beyond it to bring these instruments into action.