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sophical discussion, knows, that the nature of a thing is often described by specifying its tendency,-by exbibiting it as a cause of certain effects; and every one who will read the sermon of Dr. Dwight, will see how careful he is to exhibit the excellence of virtue, as consisting in that nature which constitutes it a cause of happiness, or gives it its tendency to produce happiness. Dr. Wardlaw says, “with all deference, I would submit the query, whether this is finding the foundation of virtue in the nature of things ?” We think the deference which is here professed, was altogether becoming in Dr. Wardlaw.
Lecture VII. is “On the identity of morality and religion." Lecture VIII. “How far disinterestedness is an essential quality in legitimate love to God.” Lecture IX. “Peculiarities of christian obligation and duty.” In this last lecture, the high claims of the christian system, as a moral system, and the wonderful effects in moral character, which flow from its doctrines believed and its truths confided in, are worthily set forth. With this Lecture we were far better pleased, than with any part of the whole work beside. Of the two Lectures preceding it, we say nothing; as in them almost every question in morals comes up for discussion,-and to remark on the discussion, would require limits as extensive as those occupied by the author himself.
Throughout the whole, there is displayed a certain measure of acuteness, which breaks out in flashes at intervals, and sheds a strong but transient light on some important question, while it does not deeply enter into, nor characterize as a whole, the body of the work. The philosophical spirit, using the word in its fair import, is absent. In this respect, the Bridgewater Treatise of Dr. Chalmers far surpasses it, and deserves to be contrasted with it to its own credit. The author of " Christian Ethics," manifests much of the "prefervidum Scotorum ingenium,” which leads him into a zeal which is often as ill-timed as it is unfounded in its application. This pugilistic fervor also, does not conduce to clearness of perception, on the part of the author, nor to just discrimination.
The general impression which his labors will leave upon the minds of the moral philosophers of the day, will not, we are persuaded, be very happy. They will be little moved by one who is so little of a philosopher himself. His acquaintance with philosophical systems and philosophical writers, they will see, is rather the result of rapid reading, than of careful examination and candid research. They must know, in their own consciences, that the cause which he would advocate, that of " christian ethics," possesses a strength of its own; but they cannot fail to observe, that the true place of its strength has been overlooked by Dr. Wardlaw,
His appeals, and his stern rebukes, will therefore fall upon them with little weight. Religious philosophy, a philosophy indeed“ baptized," while it is none the less philosophical, appears to us to be greatly deficient on the other side of the water. Why is it, that the cause which formerly rested for its defense on Wollaston, Butler and Clarke, now presents no such champions? Why is it, that those whose fathers delighted to honor such men as these and their pursuits, now begin to question even the rightful claim to existence, of that science which they labored to advance ? Such opinions, in relation to moral science, as those which are beginning to be prevalent in England, among the defenders of the truth, cannot but end in weakening the intellect of the whole nation, in lowering the tone of its character, and in bringing into contempt the cause of truth. But such a result as this must not be thought of. The spirit of Butler and Clarke will again be revived in some of the present generation. The science of morals will yet retain its own rights as a science, and it will yet carry its disciples forward, till it leads them in joyful hope to "the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
We have said nothing of the Introductory Essay, and the very high commendation bestowed upon the work by Dr. W's “ friend and correspondent" on this side of the Atlantic. Our readers already understand, that we cannot unite in these praises, and the reasons for our dissent. We have always thought highly of Dr. Wardlaw as an evangelical minister, -never as a great divine,and least of all, judging from the present specimen, can we concede to bim the name of a sound philosopher and close thinker. have been not a little astonished, to bear of the adoption of this volume as a text-book, in one of our colleges. There may, indeed, be some advantages in a text-book not altogether sound, provided the principles it sets forth are thoroughly canvassed by the instructor; but we should choose one more nearly correct, or rather less defective, than the present volume, for such a purpose. A good work on Ethics, in advance of what we have, is greatly needed. Among all the treatises which have been multiplied on this subject, we know of nothing which at all comes up to our ideas of what such a work should be; and among them all, we recollect of none less deserving of such' a character, than the “Christian Ethics" of Dr. Wardlaw. Yet it is not wholly destitute of good things, and merits high commendation for the ease and perspicuity of its style
. With these remarks, we leave the volume to the further reflections of our readers.
Arr. V.-The PhiloSOPHY OF SLEEP.
Tne Philosophy of Sleep. By Robert Macnish. New-York : 1834.
M.D. Springfield : 1834.
The first appearance of Dr. Macnish's work, excited in our minds high expectations. From its title, from some recommendatory notices we had seen of the work, and from the fact, that its author was a physician, and therefore, in all probability, familiar with the physiological bearings of his subject, we were led 10 hope some important additions to a most interesting and difficult depariment of science. These just expectations, we are compelled to say, have not been realized. Dr. Macnish, it is very clear, has not the capacity required by bis subject. He is wholly incapable of writing about the philosophy of any thing, and more especially, the philosophy of sleep,”—a most perplexing theme. He bas not strength of understanding, or reach of mental vision, or power of analysis, sufficient to grapple with the higher truths of science. This fact he should have known and regarded. His attempt to take rank as a philosopher, is nothing better than gross and unpardonable presumption. There is not, in his whole intellectual character, so far as we can see, one element of the man he would affect to be. We have been unable to find in his book a single line of “philosophy," from beginning to end; of course, its title is a gross misnomer. It is nothing like what its name imports. We do not mean to say, that the volume is destitute of merit of every kind. It is, perhaps, well enough in its way. It would make a respectable appearance in the form of a series of papers, in a magazine. It is generally interesting, and sometimes instructive. There are many curious and valuable facts to be found in it, evincing some observation and considerable reading, which it is convenient, to say the least, to have embodied in the form we here find them. In point of literary execution, the work is respectable. It is generally written in good taste, though there are some things in it which we should feel disposed to call-downright fustian. When there is no effort at display, the style is commonly animated, easy and flowing. On the whole, Dr. M. has written an interesting, and not altogether valueless book. He may congratulate himself on having done an acceptable service to the lovers of light reading. We would, how. ever, respectfully suggest to him, that, in case another edition of his work should be called for, he should change its title to a more fitting and unassuming one. “Stories about sleep," would be
apropos, and moreover would take well with that class of philosophers for which it is adapted.
The two “ Accounts” of Dr. Belden, the first a popular, the second a more scientific one, contain a record of one of the most extraordinary cases of disordered mental manifestation, depending on cerebal irritation, which is to be found in authentic history. Dr. B. we know to be a credible and competent witness, a close observer, and an honest and intelligent inquirer after truth. No one, we think, can read his statements, as wonderful as are the facts which they contain, without having the impression strong upon his mind, that delusion and collusion are out of the question.
It may, perhaps, be unnecessary here to say, that the subject upon which we are about to enter,-sleep, dreaming, somnambulism, and their modifications, is one of the most complicated and difficult in the whole range of philosophy. Possibly, before we get through, we may be willing to acquit Dr. Macnish of the killing charge of being no philosopher,--a charge grounded on the results of his philosophical labors in this intricate department of science. We beg that we may not be held to strict account for our own short-comings in the same field of labor.
The object of sleep is considered to be the restoration to activity of certain functions which have been exhausted by exercise. All our organs are so constituted, that they cannot sustain unintermitting action. After continuing in exercise for a certain but somewhat variable length of time, their present stock of energies is exhausted, exertion becomes extremely painful, and they require an interval of repose. This repose, in the case of the organic functions,—those which are common to all organized beings, —is called simply rest; in the case of the animal functions, those which are peculiar to animals, as sensation, it is called either rest or sleep, according to its nature, duration, and universality. Whether repose is the only object of sleep, as seems to be taken for granted, there is good reason to doubt. We suspect it to have an inportant renovating operation upon the voluntary or animal functions, independently of the intermission of exercise which accompanies it, that has been very commonly overlooked. Certain it is
, that rest simply, or intermitted action alone, is not a substitute for sleep. Though a man should nearly refrain from all kinds of mental and muscular exercise, he would still be unable to live without sleep. Those who live a life of listlessness and inactivity, slumber no less, but rather more, than other persons. Neither is sleep without a refreshing influence, even though there is properly no rest. It is so light and imperfect with some, that they never cease to be conscious of all that is going on about them, while the brain hardly intermits its operations for a moment; and yet such persons are fully sensible of its renewing and invigorating effects. How many are there, who spend most of their hours, from the time of lying down to that of rising up, in dreaming, -a state in which there is often as much mental exercise, as in the busier periods of wakefulness,-—who nevertheless rise in the morning no less refreshied than others ?
We suspect, then, that sleep has a direct and important renovating influence upon the mental powers and all the animal functions, which has not commonly been appreciated ; an influence which is independent of the rest, or intermitted action wbich attends it. We suspect, too, that this influence is more diffused than is generally supposed; that it is extended to the organic as well as ihe animal functions; indeed, that it is selt in every tissue and organ of the living system. Plants, which are destitute of nervous system and animal sensation, pass diurnally into a state very analogous to sleep, by which they seem to be refreshed, and which is probably essential to their existence. And it is fair to suppose, that what is required and experienced by the vegetative or organic functions, as they are exercised in plants, is upnecessary to the same class of functions as exercised by animals ?
Sleep has been considered, by Dr. Good and others, as a partial death, in which there is a cessation of certain functions, the voluntary or animal, while certain other functions, the involuntary or organic, continue in exercise. “Sleep is the death or torpitude of the voluntary organs, while the involuntary continue their accustomed actions. Death is the sleep or torpitude of the whole."* Now, to our minds, the similarity here assumed seems more imaginary than real. There is, in truth, very little resemblance between sleep and death; and he who supposes it, takes a license, which, though pardonable, perhaps, in poetry, is very unwarrantable in philosophy. The former seems to us nothing more than a state or modification of being,-one of the numerous forms of existence into which we are constituted to pass periodically, while the latter is an absolute cessation of being, (in the physical sense.) The former has its cause in the intimate structure of our organs, and is the essential condition of their existence. It plays a distinct part in this complex existence of ours, called life, and is as truly and essentially vital in its nature, as any other kind of living manifestation. It is true, this state is characterized by unusual insensibility to the common means of excitement, and, in this respect, is distinguished from the ordinary waking state ; but this torpitude is only relative to stimuli of a certain force, and is entirely distinct from the torpitude of death, which is absolute and complete. Even in the waking state, excitement of a mental organ
Good's Book of Nature.