« 이전계속 »
Organization has been confounded with life; because, without organization, life, or the continuance of active existence, is not to be found; and because when organization, in some particular parts, is disturbed, active existence ceases. But because no musical sounds can be produced without an instrument, and because, if that instrument be disordered, those musical sounds cannot be elicited, no one would argue that a flute or trumpet is a musical sound. The instrument may still remain, though not in a state of order sufficient to produce its effect; and general organization may exist, though, from a deficiency in one particular part, life has been extinguished.”
Having shewn that matter is incapable of thought; that the volition of animals, though an immaterial principle, is not therefore immortal; that moral responsibility is peculiar to man, and one of the distinctive privileges of human nature; and then having traced the immediate agency of God, as testified in the communication and preservation of life, he concludes with the following excellent and striking appeal:
“ Think freely, I would say to the sceptic, upon this awful subject; think as freely as you will, but think; call your understanding into action, if you have been perplexed by the sophistries of Hume; study first the more popular treatise of Beattie, and then the closer analogy of Butler. If your faith has been shaken by the ribaldry of Paine, read the wise and animated apology of Watson. Then descend into your own heart, and calmly enquire, whether it was reason or prejudice that has influenced your decision; and candidly say, whether you have not adopted the system which was most indulgent to your passions, and least in opposition to your vicious inclinations. Apply the same tests to Christianity on the one hand, and to scepticism on the other, and that which you find the most flippant in its language, the most artful in its insinuations, the most inconsistent in its principles, and, above all, the most flattering in its indulgences, boldly pronounce an imposture, and reject it accordingly.”
We now gladly shake ourselves free from the grovelling doctrines of those who profess to think that man is endued with a material and mortal soul. The view which we have taken of scepticism, in matters of religion, has been more wide than that to which Mr. Rennell has confined himself in this pamphlet. We have placed before us the characters both of the intellectual and material systems of scepticism, which are opposite in all things save their disbelief in religion.
The history of infidel philosophy, as it is thus disclosed to us, shews a wonderful revolution in the fashions of its systems. At the beginning of the last century, the most powerful adversaries of religion were the metaphysical philosophers; and it was thought that the very foundations of Christianity might be overthrown by the progress of intellectual science. Indeed its most formidable enemies were those who studied in that school. But truth is immutable and eternal. In progress of time, the science of intellectual philosophy was improved, and its professors became more enlightened. The advocates of our divine religion had been driven by the arguments of a scepticism which denied the existence of matter, to appeal to the common sense of mankind. Intellectual philosophy was then enlightened by the application of juster modes of reasoning, and was reformed
from the errors of those who had resolved the whole of the material world into mere mind. And then the arguments of that scepticism which had denied the existence not only of a God, but of the world, fell into a merited disrepute. No rational man could any longer resort to intellectual philosophy to supply a single argument against the truth of religion. In those days materialism was almost unheard of. It was an error too gross for the deep learning and acute genius of such men as Bayle, or Gibbon, or Hume. Their philosophy had out-grown the period when the human mind can be amused by so palpable a cheat. In the time of Reid, the intellectual philosophy had shaken off the errors of idealism; and when he composed his great work, he treated materialism not only as a system which was not entertained by any of the philosophers of his day, but as one which he conceived no future philosopher could maintain; and said he passed from it " as a thing too absurd to admit of reasoning." But Reid could not judge of the weakness of other intellects from the Herculean powers of his own. We have lived to see the days when philosophy has fallen into its second childhood; and having outlived the errors of idealism, has relapsed into a belief in the non-existence of the human soul.
And yet we derive some comfort even from this. Infidelity must be reduced to a sad plight when it can find no better advocates than those who can persuade themselves of the materiality of the human soul. Mr. Hume thought that faith in some of the doctrines of Christianity was an absolute miracle. It never occurred to him, that it was more miraculous in any man to believe that matter has no existence. And in truth, considering the doctrines and opinions of the ideal and material sceptics, it is most surprising that those who believed in them could be hard of belief in any thing else. The faith of a Christian is no miracle, for it is belief in the testimony of a fact. But if there be any faith which is truly miraculous, surely it must be that which believes in such a doctrine as this-that the mind is mere matter, and that a man has no other soul than his brain.
After all, we are perhaps presumptuous in settling the comparative merits of the opposite systems. Our preference, we acknowledge, is wholly guided by our estimate of the learning and genius of the professors of each. In both these qualities, the believers in the non-existence of matter were beyond all reach of comparison superior to those who have supported the doctrine of the non-existence of mind. For the rest we leave the merits of the two systems to their respective advocates. We ourselves desire not to be thought the particular enemies of any one of them,
but as waging war against both. Upon their hostility against each other, and the contempt with which the opposite doctrines are rejected by the disciples of each sect, we look not without some interest, for it is a curious circumstance. Hobbes, the philosopher of Malmsbury, was (at least at the period of his life to which we now refer) a believer in materialism. When the domestic troubles in England forced him to leave his country, he went to Paris, and for some time frequented the society of Des Cartes, who had just then promulgated his intellectual system. It is related by Brucker, on very credible authority, that Des Cartes grew so weary of the doctrines of Hobbes, and of his arguments against the new system which he had broached, that he withdrew from his society, in contempt for the shallowness of mind which that extraordinary character displayed. This is a very old instance of that contempt for each others' doctrines which subsists between the followers of the intellectual and material systems.
The situation in which the most ignorant Christian now stands with respect to his faith is this, there are two different sects who assure him that their doctrines prove his belief in his religion not to be founded on reason. He asks what those doctrines are? He finds that the doctrines of the one sect teach him that he has no body-and of the other, that he has no soul; he finds them not only contradictory to each other, but both of them so repugnant to his reason and his common sense, that he laughs at their absurdity, and finds his faith not only unshaken but confirmed. And here we must recur from the distinction between the kinds, to the distinction between the causes of these two systems of scepticism. We have shewn that one of them is peculiar to physical, and the other to metaphysical science; and that as the cause of idealism is an ignorance of the properties of matter, so the cause of materialism may be traced to an ignorance of the properties of mind. But though the followers of each system have successfully exposed the ignorance of those who have adopted its opposite, it is singular that this mutual exposure has never had the effect of exciting in either a want of confidence in their own opinions. This sentiment, however, must be produced upon the great majority of mankind, and the believers in Christianity, that it exposes the absurdity of both systems,-that it destroys all reliance on the judgments or authority of those who can embrace the tenets of either, that it teaches them to repose with a confirmed faith on the divine authority of a religion, which has supported the weakness of our faculties, as it has sanctioned and assured our hopes, by the blessed certainty of a revelation.
ART. V. The History of France, from the earliest periods to the second return of Louis XVIII. By FRANCES THURTLE. Hailes. London. 1818. Pp. 300.
WE know not whether those who speculate on the progress of the human mind will be disposed to consider it as a proof of that progress, that during the last hundred years, a much greater number of females has been employed in writing, than was known in any former period of equal extent. Whatever may be the opinion of such enquirers, we, who regard the cultivation of the intellectual powers as one of the chief glories of the species, are delighted to discover that an object so important is promoted by the exertions of either sex.
The subjects that have employed female writers are various, and many of them have been treated with considerable ability; but their opportunities of acquiring science have hitherto been limited, and therefore few have written on scientific subjects. Even history has seldom been the production of a female pen, though, if other proofs were wanting, the very respectable little volume before us would suffice to convince us, that this department of literature may be profitably cultivated by them. We have great pleasure, therefore, in noticing it; and are moreover induced to give it a place in our journal, by the consideration of the wants of that class of readers to which it is chiefly addressed. History is the foundation of much useful knowledge, and must ever form an important part of the studies of the young. But voluminous works are neither consistent with a proper degree of attention to the other necessary branches of their education, nor at all suitable to the state of their minds. Such a history of France as that now before us, was a thing to be desired; because, so far as we know, there was not previously any compendious work of the kind in the English language, though we be lieve one or two have been published since its appearance.
A minute detail of the leading events in the history of a great nation, for a period of nearly eighteen centuries, could not be given in a small volume of three hundred pages. What could be done in a compass so limited, the writer seems to have accomplished. She has exercised her judgment in selecting such circumstances as are best fitted to shew by what means the grand political changes in the government of the country were effected; and has very properly been least copious respecting those of ancient date. So short, indeed, is the account of some of the early reigns, that little more is recorded of the ruling prince than
When we advance so far
that he was born, and that he died. as the fourteenth century, the details become more ample; and the work increases in interest as we approach to its conclusion. The reigns of Louis XIV. and of Louis XV. are given at considerable length; and that of Louis XVI. as might be expected, as well as of the time of the republic, and the reign of Bonaparte, are treated very fully in comparison.
The general plan of the work is good, and we think the list of contemporary princes at the end of each reign, particularly useful, as by means of association, it is calculated to furnish historical readers with many important recollections at the same instant.
To select from a mass of materials, and to compress in a small space a variety of important particulars, are objects inconsistent with great elegance of style. Whatever may be a writer's ability, it has, in such circumstances, but little scope. Perspicuity and neatness are the most that can be expected, and these are generally to be found in this production. Where the author has an opportunity of expatiating more largely, we meet with beauties of a higher kind. The style appears in general to be simple and unaffected, exhibiting much of the ease so remarkable in the writings of Dr. Goldsmith.
The following paragraph, from the reign of Louis the Fourteenth, may be considered a fair specimen :
"Upon the death of the Cardinal, (Mazarine) Louis, young, haughty, and ambitious, determined in future to govern alone; and he soon convinced the world he was not to be insulted with impunity. A dispute having taken place in London between the French and Spanish ambassadors, as to their precedence, the French monarch insisted upon a solemn embassy from the court of Spain with an apology, and a promise that no such claim should in future be brought forward. His ambassador to the Holy See being also ill treated by some of the guards of his Holiness, Alexander was obliged to send his nephew Chigi to France to ask pardon for the affront; and the more to perpetuate the memory of his displeasure, the French King caused a pillar to be erected in Rome, stating the particulars of the whole affair, as a warning to future powers against insulting the majesty of the French nation. He refused the honour of the flag to the English. The king of England,' said he, upon this occasion, may know the amount of my force, but he knows not the elevation of my mind. Every thing appears to me contemptible in comparison of glory.'
The meeting of the Champ de Mai, held by Bonaparte after his return from Elba, is described in a lively manner:
“At a very early hour, the whole city was in motion; nothing was to be heard but the drums and marching of the soldiers, and the hurrying to and fro of the people, some on foot, others on horseback, or in carriages. Every countenance expressed eagerness and expectation. The morning was exceedingly cloudy-a thing unusual at that time of the year at Paris; and the drops of rain which fell from time to time seemed to portend a storm. Nothing, however, deterred the gay-minded Parisians. The sky had often threatened worse, they said, on other public days, but had always become clear when their emperor appeared. They were sure the same would happen that day; and so indeed it did. About eleven o'clock a light wind dispersed the clouds, and the sun burst forth to lend