Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Do

Do I say, then, that the philosophy is of no importance ? By no means. It is very important and interesting to those whose minds have leisure and expansion to go into it. But I say that it is not necessary to effective belief.

No, indeed, it is not,” says some one. “I believe in the Gospel, because I feel its divinity. Not its miracles persuade me, but its spirit. When I commune deeply with the mind of Jesus, I feel that his words are the words of truth and of God.” When you say this, you may be a very good Christian ; but you are not a very good philosopher. In this

In this sense, Rousseau believed. In an unpublished manuscript letter of his, which I once saw, he says to Mons. Vernes, a pastor in Geneva, “I believe in the Gospel. It is the most interesting of all writings. When all other books weary me, I turn' to it with ever fresh delight. When the miseries of life press upon me, I resort to it for consolation." But was Rousseau a believer ?

You say that you believe in the Gospel, on account of its obvious truth and beauty. you not feel the same thing, to a certain extent, in the writings of Fenelon ? But did Fenelon come from God, in the same sense in which the great Master did ? Nay, will you not say rather that you make a wide distinction ? — that Jesus was an unerring teacher, — that there was nothing which he ever thought or felt, but it would be perfect guidance to you, — and that the seal of a peculiar and divinely inspired wisdom was upon him? Then indeed are you a Christian philosopher ; but then, also, do you believe in a miracle. And what barrier there is, to separate this from the miraculous facts of the Gospel, I cannot perceive. There may be an ultra-spiritualism in this matter, but I cannot accept it as the full and comprehensive philosophy of revelation.

On the whole and in fine, let me not be thought to discredit inward illumination. In experience it is everything. The Gospel is nothing without it, — belief is nothing without it, miracles are nothing without it. It is that vital believing, without which nothing would avail a man, no, though one rose from the dead. That insight, I am persuaded, is to go far deeper than it has gone yet. It will reveal a yet unsuspected power of the Gospel, - a yet unsuspected application of it, to the heart and the life, – to all the questions about the problem of human existence and the providence of divine wisdom, — to the deep struggle after happiness, — and to the great welfare of humanity.

Let me now sum up the substance of this Article. I have gone into a detail, unnecessary I am sensible, and perhaps tedious to the theologian, but I have thought that the state of the public mind required it.

My faith, then, is the faith of supernaturalism. This faith, properly speaking, has no relation to the self-evident truths of the Gospel. These are to be entirely laid out of the case and the question. They are not things to be proved at all; they are previously established certainties. The faith of supernaturalism relates to a special divine mission, and to certain truths or facts which are out of the reach of human consciousness and intuition. To say, for instance, that Moses did not work miracles to prove any speculative truth, is nothing to the purpose. He wrought miracles to prove his divine commission. To say that miracles do not prove such a mission, but the mission the miracles, is absurd. And to the establishment of such a claim, miracles are pertinent evidence; and to this end, they must be not illusory or seeming, but real miracles; that is, real deviations from the order of nature. Now, no man can deny that there may be such deviations; and our ignorance of nature is no more an argument against believing, than it is for it. The question, then, is open for evidence; and the question, be it remembered, is not about knowing, but about believing. I do not know that Jesus wrought miracles, but I firmly believe it. Why? Because he constantly asserted it; because his Apostles constantly attested it. But why do I confide in the Apostles ? Because I believe that they were honest men. Is not their honesty, then, the first link in the chain ? Yes; but the last link is miracles. But how do I come at this conviction of their honesty! Not by intuition, but by evidence. A world of evidence satisfies me that they were true men, and that they truly attested these miraculous facts. I believe them. No ingenuity of criticism, nor vague dreaming about prodigies and false miracles, can erase those facts from the record. What, then, have I in this record ? A communication of inexpressible interest, — a voice from heaven! On any other hypothesis, what have I? A mere book of natural religion, overlaid with a parcel of absurd stories. Between these suppositions I cannot hesitate which to choose, as the philosophy of my religion.

0. D.

Art. VII. — Sixth Annual Report of the Trustees of the

State Lunatic Hospital at Worcester. December, 1838. Boston : Dutton & Wentworth. pp. 88.

1839.

We have derived so much gratification from the perusal of this report, that we hasten to lay before our readers what strike us as its most important and interesting parts. A report with its statistical tables and array of figures, like a sermon with its formal divisions, is very apt to be looked upon as dull reading, and so thrown aside, and by those very persons, perhaps, who are most concerned to be made acquainted with its contents. We can, however, assure such persons, that if, overcoming this repugnance, they will take up the volume of sermons they may perchance have thrown down, and read, they will often find under the form of the sermon, as in the late volume of Mr. Dewey, some of the noblest essays in our language. So, too, under the duller and harder title, as it seems to us, of a report, will they sometimes discover learned and eloquent disquisitions upon subjects of deepest interest to the man and the Christian,

as in that brilliant treatise upon common school education, by the Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education, which solicits the reader under the winning title, “ Board of Education, 1839. Senate, No. 13.”

This sixth report of the trustees of the Worcester Asylum claims attention for the facts, which it presents, and the beautiful picture it sets before us of the successful operation of an institution, in which the whole community takes a deep interest. What it has done, and is doing, should be widely known, and it is our object, in this article, to do our part, in giving what circulation we can to the facts and statements presented in the report ; first, of the chairman of the trustees, Mr. Mann, and secondly, in that of the superintendent of the Hospital, Dr. Woodward. Our article will consist of little more than extracts from these two documents.

Mr. Mann, after a brief account of the prosperous condition of the institution, and a well-earned commendation of the liberality and promptitude of the legislature in their conduct towards it, makes this general statement of results, obtained from the minute and interesting tables of the superintendent.

“During the six years," he says, “ of the existence of this pp. 4, 5.

hospital, eight hundred and fifty-five insane persons have partaken of its remedial treatment. Of this number, three hundred and forty-four have recovered their lost reason. The residue, with few exceptions, have been reclaimed from a state of nakedness and filth ; from ferocity, which assaulted relatives and friends with deadly intent; from melancholy, which poured itself out in continual tears, to a quiet, an orderly, and, to a great extent, a cheerful community, observant of the decorous usages of civilized life.”

But this result, great and delightful as it is, he considers hardly superior to another, less obvious, but not less useful or real, namely; the change which, by the successful treatment of the insane within the walls of the institution, has been wrought in the prevailing ideas relating to the origin of insanity, -as inflicted by the hand of God, — and consequently to its curability.

“ The preëminent skill and success of the superintendent of this institution,” says Mr. Mann,“ manifested for the benefit of so many of our fellow-beings, and in the midst of us all, have effected a deep change in public opinion. They have demonstrated that insanity is a physical disease ; that it has its origin in certain natural causes, being induced by a violation of some of the organic laws, upon which mental functions depend; that these causes are not mysterious and inscrutable in any peculiar sense ; that they are capable of being recognised and understood, like the causes which bring on consumption or the gout; that insanity is a curable disease ; that it is a disease far less dangerous to life than fevers usually are; that the means of effecting its cure have been graciously put into our hands; and finally, that not only the means of cure, but the ways of prevention, in ordinary cases, have been entrusted to us, accompanied by the responsibility of rightly using them. Insanity, therefore, is no longer to be looked upon as some vast, unknown, and awful minister of evil or judg. ment to mankind; as dreadful for its mysteriousness as for its actual terrors. It is not an evil to which one person is as much exposed as another ; or to whose assaults any one is equally exposed at all times, and under varying circumstances. It is a calculable agency. We see why it befalls, and how it

may

be averted. We see, that, should we all obey certain laws, which are annexed to our being, and are the conditions of enjoying mental soundness, we should be exempt from its power ; but we also see, that, if we will transgress rules, to whose violation the dreadful consequences of insanity have been attached, it is as

ble agency,

certain to befall us, as fire is to burn. The excellence of these discoveries is, that they convert a disease, once most formidable and appalling from its uncertainty, into a measurable and calcu

- an agency whose action can be put aside, in most cases, by adopting certain precautions; or can even be repelled, when expending its force upon us, by the application of certain known remedies. They make known, also, that there are certain indulgences, whose continuance is an infallible mode of bringing the full severity of its woe upon the transgressor.” —

pp. 5, 6.

But though insanity is thus maintained and demonstrated to yield to the use of means, it is shown in the tables of Dr. Woodward, that their success, almost more than in the case of other diseases, depends upon their being resorted to in the early stages of the complaint. The results of these tables are thus brought together by Mr. Mann.

“ The twelfth table of the superintendent shows, that upon the proper and usual basis of computation, the proportion of cures at this hospital, in recent cases, that is, in cases of less than one year's duration at the time when received, - is ninety-four per cent. ; while the proportion of cures in cases of more than five years' duration, has been only twelve and a half per cent., and in cases of more than ten years' duration, only three and a half per cent. Or, to present the same fact in another striking point of view, the proportion of the old cases, remaining at the end of this

year, is about eighty-seven and a half per cent. ; while the proportion of recent cases remaining at the same time, is only twelve and a half per cent. —p. 11.

These are very striking facts; and how urgent is the duty which they impose upon the friends of those who may show indications of this disease, to attend to its earliest symptoms, and apply in season the treatment, which, when applied in season, is now proved to be so almost certainly efficacious.

The chairman next classifies the causes of insanity; and, first, as to their power to induce the disease. Viewed in this light, the causes of insanity, in the eight hundred and fifty-five cases at the hospital, rank thus: —"1. Intemperance. 2. Ill health of all kinds. 3. Masturbation. 4. Domestic affliction. 5. Religious excitements. 6. Loss of property and fear of poverty. 7. Disappointed ambition. 8. Injuries of the bead. 9. Use of snuff and tobacco. In a few cases, the cause of insanity is unknown. Foreigners and citizens of other

- 30 S. VOL. VIII. NO. II. 32

VOL. XXVI.

« AnteriorContinuar »