Imágenes de páginas

conformation of bodily organs; but must in its nature be immaterial and purely spiritual".

The intellectual powers, and moral perceptions, of the human mind, furnish a second proof of its immateriality.". We have already supposed that no effect can rise to its superior cause". In illustration of this principle we will here add, the motion given to án inanimate body, is only in exact proportion to the force employed : the flower, beautified by the rays of light, exhibits no splendour, but what is found in those rays themselves. Could the effect rise superior, either in kind, or in degree, to the cause, the creature might rise superior to the Creator; and the impious rebel might indulge the hope of successfully resisting the power, and subverting the government, of God". Could the cause communicate an excellency it did not possess, any cause, however inadequate, might produce any effect: and every principle of reasoning must be abondoned; and the grossest Atheism, or the most universal doubt, must be the result. If, then, the effect cannot rise superior to its cause; and if no excellency can be communicated which is not possessed, it will, inevitably follow, that a merely, material mind must be totally incapable of performing a purely spiritual act, or of perceiving a purely immaterial object: but acts purely spiritual, the human mind does perform; objects purely immaterial, it does perceive; its nature therefore, must be immaterial too".

It performs spiritual acts. To think-to understand--to know

10 Our preacher has before made the contradictory confession that he cannot exhibit mind without the animal body; a fact which overthrows all his fancied arguments for its independency, and converts each to an absurdity.

How blind is the vanity,

That defends Chistianity!
There you see, I am driven to doggerel upon the subject.

R. C. " Intellectual powers and moral perceptions are one and the same thing, and are subsequently explained in Note 18, as moral sensations. This, therefore proves nothing.

R. C. 12 But that supposition is refuted in reference to every useful compound.

R. C. Define


the existence of your God. Talk `not of the grossness of Atheism until you can oppose to it something superior to gross absurdity. Atheism asserts nothing; Atheism denies nothing: it simply asks the Theist for a proof of his assertions, in the absence of all proof. Better doubt universally than assert without proof.

R. C. 14 What is a spiritual act? What is an immaterial object? The phenomena or processes of mind or sensation must partake of the quality from whence they originate. Where an effect has but one cause, though it may be deemed relatively superior as an identity, its superiority must still be restrospectively dependent on the producing power.

R. C.


your term, and

[ocr errors]

--to perceive truth and detect error-to lay down principles, reason upon, and draw conclusions from them--to love and hate, hope and fear, joy and grieve, are all actions, which it is as impossible for mere matter to perform, as it is for the eyes to perceive sounds, or the ears, colours. To these we may add the power which the mind possesses of abstracting itself from all material objects; reecting on its own nature and conceptions; acting itself, or impelling the body to action; and this, not as urged by some physical force, but at its own will, or under the influence of merely moral motives.--Attend, likewise, to its moral perceptions. To see the beauty of moral excellence, and to feel the force of moral obligation, are the peculiar prerogatives of man. He discovers at once an essential difference in character and actions. Truth and falsehood, faithfulness and perfidy, justice and oppression, benevolence and cruelty, appear to him in widely different colours, and excite in his mind essentially different feelings: the one class he views with approbation; the other with dislike. He rises higher; he forms conceptions of angels and spirits 15, of the perfections, and character, and government of God; he prays and praises, reverences and adores; rejoices in Jehovah's favours, and fears his wrath; his highest enjoyments, and his most heart-rending sorrows, arise · from sources purely moral. The spirit of man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear? Here, then, we discover perceptions and powers, which mere matter does not, cannot possess: and as the effect cannot rise superior to its cause, they are powers which matter can never communicate, The being, or substance, or agent, in which these powers reside, must therefore be immaterial. The only objection against these conclusions, which possesses any force, is drawn from the painful effects produced on the mind, by the defects, the weaknesses, and the diseases of the body*. This objection, however, the following remarks, will we hope, sufficiently obviate. Admitting the conclusion to which the foregoing reasonings appear to lead, it is still allowed, that the mind, during the time of its continuance in the present world, is united with the body, and is so far confined to it, that its senses are the only channels through which impressions are communicated from the external world, and its organs

* « Where," asks Mr. Lawrence, a proficient in the modern school of French philosophy, “Where shall we find proofs of the mind's independence on the bodily structure? of that mind, which, like the corporeal frame, is infantiļe in the child, manly in the adult, sick and debilitated in disease, phrensied or melancholy in the madman, enfeebled in the decline of life, doting in decripitude, and annihilated by death ?”? 15 Does be? I will thank any one to communicate that conception to

R. C. 16. What is this perfect God? Who is this wrathful Jehovah? What can he do? Of what is he composed ? Where does he dwell ?

R. C.


the only instruments by which the mind here carries on its visible operations t. The senses, therefore, being the only channels through which the mind now communicates with the external world, the ideas formed of their objects must necessarily be correct or incorrect, in exact proportion to the perfection or imperfection of the senses: and the brain being an organ, by the instrumentality of which the mind here performs its amazing operations, those operations must be affected in some degree, according to the state of that organ". But the senses and the brain are not therefore the mind, nor do they on this account produce it. Convinced as we are that we do not now perceive a single object of vision without the eyes, we are likewise convinced that the eyes are not thc seeing agent 18; for, detached from the body,

[ocr errors]

t. I have stated the case thus, because the following remarks by Dugald Stewart

prove, that though the exercises of mind may be occasioned by inaterial objects producing impressions on the bodily senses, yet the exercise itself may be purely intellectual, and may be carried on independently both of the object that produced, and the senses that conveyed the original impression. “Even on the supposition that certain impressions on the organs of sense are necessary to awaken in the mind a consciousness of its own existence, and to give rise to the exercise of its various faculties, yet all this might have happened without our having any knowledge of the qualities, or even of the existence, of the material world. To facilitate the admission of this proposition, let us suppose a being formed in every other respect like man; but possessed of no senses, excepting those of hearing and smelling. I make choice of these two senses, because it is obvious that by means of them alone, we never could have arrived at the knowledge ef the primary qualities of matter, or even of the existence of things external. All that we could possibly have inferred from our occasional sensations of smell and sound, would have been, that there existeil some unknown cause by which they were produced.

“Let us suppose, then, a particular sensation to be excited in the mind of such a being. The moment this happens, he must necessarily acquire the knowledge of two facts at once : that of the existence of the sensation; and that of his own existence as a sentient being. After the sensation is at an end, he can remember he felt it; he can conceive he feels it again. If he has felt a variety of different sensations, he can compare them together in respect of the pleasure or the pain they afforded him, and will naturally desire the return of the agreeable sensation, and be afraid of the return of those which are painful. If the sensations of smell and sound are both excited in his mind at the same time, he can attend to either of them he chooses, and withdraw his attention from the other; or he can withdraw

17. The brain is not a separate or independent organ ; but the root or a part of the nervous system. In vegetation, we generally value or admire. the trunk and branches as superior to the root-an effect superior to its

R. C.18 They certainly are the seeing agents; for we cannot see without them. To say they are not the agent, but the instrument, is a contradictiou ? An agent is an instrument. The eye is a lens fabricated by the nerves-Aye, and in some cases can be reproduced when destroyed !


R. C.

they see absolutely nothing: they are therefore only instruments by which our minds, perceive,

Convinced as we are that we do not move a member of the body without the muscles, we are likewise convinced that the muscles are not the active agents; they are merely instruments or levers, by which the mind acts, and moves the members according to its own will. The organist however skilful, produces but discordant sounds, if the instrument on which he performs be in a state of disorder; -but the instrument is not on that account the performer; neither is the unskilfulness of the performer the cause of the discord. The objection against the immaterial nature of the mind drawn from the effects produced upon it by the body, amounts, therefore, simply to this: that while placed in a material world, and united with a body of flesh and blood, by whose instrumentality the mind is to perform its works, and carry on its operations, it is affected by the imperfections of the instrument 20. Were the proofs of its immaterial nature less various, and less conclusive than they are, this objection would present no terrific aspect; it would possess no overwhelming force; but in the present state of the argument it dwindles into the “ shadow of a shade :” and every effort made by its means to subvert the doctrine we have been establishing, must bę futile and unavailing.

I make another short extract and have done.

Man, we have said, possesses thinking and reasoning powers, by which he understands truth, and obtains knowledge; and even in the present state, much is placed within the limits of their range. Looking upon the world in which he is placed, he contemplates the mighty chain of being, carried on, by almost imperceptible links, through the mineral and earthy to the vegetable, through the vegetable to the animal, and through the animal to the rational creation: he searches out the order of parts apparent

his attention from hoth, and fix it on some sensation he has felt formerly. In this manner he might be led, merely by sensations existing in his mind, and conveying to him no information concerning matter, to exercise many of his most important faculties 19," *19 This clearly proves, what materialists call the materiality of the mind. A human being human having experienced two sensations has the capacity of comparing the one with the other, and of thereby obtaining a third, or more, even to the fabrication of a theory. I agree to call, by way of distinction, the two first sensations, or those derive:l from other bodies—physical sensations; and all that educed by a comparison or reflection-moral sensations. This is a perfect theory of the whole mental process or phe

R. C.


20 And when the instrument becomes extinct or useless, the mind is extinct or useless. So we have not a single proof of immateriality.

R, C. No. 12, Vol. X.

ly discordant and detached; refers to its proper class, each moving creature that hath life, each vegetable that adorns the garden or the field, each stone on the surface, and each mineral in the bowels of the earth. He investigates the nature, and to a considerable extent renders subservient to his own interests, to his profit, or his ease, his health or comfort, the waters and the air, light and heat. He calls the microscope to his aid, and to his astonishment discovers in every leaf and every drop, in every dissolving substance and grain of sand, beings, diminutive indeed, but which, by the perfection of their life and powers, furnish additional proofs of the wisdom and beneficence of God”. Rising above the earth, he tells the numbers of the stars, explains the laws of the planetary worlds, and calculates, with an amazing exactness, the periods of their varied revolutions. Passing from nature to nature's God, he feels that it is his prerogative to know the Deity". In the magnitude and grandeur of the objects that surround him, he sees the majesty and power of Jehovah; in their variety, their fitness, and their order, his infinite wisdom; and in the provision made for the supply of the returning wants of every living thing, his boundless love. Passing from nature to revelation, he finds other traits of the divine character, and fuller manifestations of the Divine will. To these we might add the moral relations and differences of things, together with the correspondent duties imposed. Extensive, however, as his knowledge may be, yet compared with what remains to be known, it is as nothing. These are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? There are yet innumerable regions which man has never traversed, and mines of inexhaustible riches, to which he has never penetrated. In the nature and reasons of things, in the works and ways of God, in the dispensations of providence, and the plan of redemption, he sees much that is vailed in partial or entire obscurity, and which eludes his grasp. His knowledge is imperfect. Did this imperfection arise from the natural incapacity or imbecility of his mind; were every desire of knowing satisfied; and every power of understanding stretched to its utmost possible limit; then we should be justified in the conclusion that we saw the perfection of man, and all the purposes for which infinite wisdom


his powers. This, however, is not the case. An old divine has judiciously observed, that the human mind is so far from being burdened, or cloyed with knowledge, that the more it knows, the more it still desires to know : and could the knowledge of all the arts and sciences, of all the mysteries of nature and providence, be brought into the mind of one man, that mind would thirst and burn with desire for more; and

» How? By being called into life to be food for, to devour each other. This is the whole purpose of animal life, and I defy any man to shew another purpose, or another end.

R. C. » Yes, but what does he know?

R, C;

« AnteriorContinuar »