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trines, and in asserting the validity of the certain sacrifices must be made, and some argument which is founded upon that rea of the most urgent propensities of the mind sonableness. It would save a vast deal of put under severe restraint and regulation. controversy, if it could be proved that all The human mind feels restless and dissatisthis is superfluous and uncalled for; that fied under the anxieties of ignorance. It upon the authority of the proofs already longs for the repose of conviction; and to insisted on, the New Testament must be re- gain this repose, it will often rather preceived as a revelation from heaven; and cipitate its conclusions, than wait for the that, instead of sitting in judgment over it, tardy lights of observation and experiment. nothing remains on our part but an act of There is such a thing, too, as the love of unreserved submission to all the doctrine simplicity and system-a prejudice of the and information which it offers to us. It is understanding, which disposes it to include conceived, that in this way the general ar- all the phenomena of nature under a few gument might be made to assume a more sweeping generalities-an indolence, which powerful and impressive aspect; and the loves to repose on the beauties of a theory, defence of Christianity be more accommo- rather than encounter the fatiguing detail dated to the spirit and philosophy of the of its evidences--a painful reluctance to the times.
admission of facts, which, however true, Since the spirit of Lord Bacon's philoso- break in upon the majestic simplicity that phy began to be rightly understood, the we would fain ascribe to the laws and operascience of external nature has advanced tions of the universe. with a rapidity unexampled in the history. Now, it is the glory of Lord Bacon's phiof all former ages. The great axiom of his losophy, to have achieved a victory over philosophy is so simple in its nature, and all these delusions; to have disciplined the so undeniable in its evidence, that it is minds of its votaries into an entire submisastonishing how philosophers were so late sion to evidence; to have trained them up in acknowledging it, or in being directed by in a kind of steady coldness to all the splenits authority. It is more than two thousand dour and magnificence of theory, and taught years since the phenomena of external na- them to follow, with unfaultering step, ture were objects of liberal curiosity to wherever the sure though humble path of speculative and intelligent men. Yet two experiment may lead them. centuries have scarcely elapsed since the To justify the cautious procedure of the true path of investigation has been rightly inductive philosophy, nothing more is nepursued, and steadily persevered in; since cessary than to take a view of the actual the evidence of experience has been re-powers and circumstances of humanity; of ceived as paramount to every other evi- the entire ignorance of man when he comes dence, or, in other words, since philosophers into the world, and of the steps by which have agreed that the only way to learn the that ignorance is enlightened; of the numagnitude of an object is to measure it, the merous errors into which he is misled the only way to learn its tangible properties is moment he ceases to observe, and begins to to touch it, and the only way to learn its presume or to excogitate; of the actual hisvisible properties is to look at it.
tory of science; its miserable progress, so Nothing can be more safe or more infal- long as categories and principles retained lible than the procedure of the inductive their ascendency in the schools; and the philosophy as applied to the phenomena of splendour and rapidity of its triumphs, so external nature. It is the eye, or the ear- soon as man understood that he was nothing witness of every thing which it records. It more than the disciple of Nature, and must is at liberty to classify appearances, but take his lesson as Nature offers it to him. then in the work of classifying, it must be What is true of the science of external directed only by observation. It may group nature, holds equally true of the science phenomena according to their resemblances. and phenomena of mind. On this subject, It may express these resemblances in words, too, the presumptuous ambition of man carand announce them to the world in the form ried him far from the sober path of experiof general laws. Yet such is the hardihood mental inquiry. He conceived that his of the inductive philosophy, that though a business was not to observe, but to specusingle well-attested fact should overturn a late; to construct systems rather than conwhole system, that fact must be admitted. sult his own experience and the experience A single experiment is often made to cut of others; to collect the materials of his short the finest process of generalization, theory, not from the history of observed however painful and humiliating the sacri- facts, but from a set of assumed and excogifice; and though a theory, the most simple tated principles. Now the same observaand magnificent that ever charmed the eye tions apply to this department of inquiry. of an enthusiast, was on the eve of emerg- We must admit to be true, not what we ing from it.
presume, but what we find to be so. We In submitting, then, to the rules of the must restrain the enterprises of fancy. A inductive philosophy, we do not deny that law of the human mind must be only a series of well-authenticated facts, reduced to investigation, thcology is the only subject one general description, or grouped together that is suffered to remain the victim of preunder some general points of resemblance. judice, and of a contempt the most unjust, The business of the moral as well as of the and the most unphilosophical. natural philosopher is not to assert what he! We do not speak of this feeling as an excogitates, but to record what he observes; impiety; we speak of it as an offence against not to amuse himself with the speculations the principles of just speculation. We do of fancy, but to describe phenomena as he not speak of it as it allures the heart from sees or as he feels them. This is the busi- the influence of religion ; we speak of it as ness of the moral as well as of the natural it allures the understanding from the influinquirer. We must extend the application ence of evidence and truth. In a word, we of Lord Bacon's principles to moral and are not preaching against it; we reason metaphysical subjects. It was long before against it. We contend that it is a transthis application was recognized, or acted gression against the rules of the inductive upon by philosophers. Many of the conti- | philosophy. All that we want is, the apnental speculations are still infected with plication of Lord Bacon's principles to the the presumptuous a priori spirit of the old investigation before us; and as the influschools; though the writings of Reid and ence of prejudice and disgust is banished Stewart have contributed much to chase from every other department of inquiry, away this spirit from the metaphysics of we conceive it fair that it should be banishour own country, and to bring the science ed from theology also, and that our subof mind, as well as matter, under the entireject should have the common advantage of dominion of the inductive philosophy. a hearing,-where no partiality of the heart
These general observations we conceive or fancy is admitted, and no other influto be a most direct and applicable introduc-ence acknowledged than the influence of tion to that part of the subject which is evidence over the convictions of the underbefore us. In discussing the evidence of standing. Christianity, all that we ask of our reader Let us therefore endeavour to evince the is to bring along with him the same sober success and felicity with which Lord Baand inductive spirit, that is now deemed so con's principles may be applied to the innecessary in the prosecution of the other vestigation before us. sciences; to abandon every system of the According to Bacon, man is ignorant of ology, that is not supported by evidence, every thing antecedent to observation; and however much it may gratify his taste, or there is not a single department of inquiry, regale his imagination, and to admit any in which he does not err the moment that he system of theology, that is supported by abandons it. It is true that the greater evidence, however repugnant to his feelings part of every individual's knowledge is de or his prejudices; to make conviction, in rived immediately from testimony; but it fact, paramount to inclination, or to fancy; is only from testimony that brings home and to maintain, through the whole process to his conviction the observation of others. of the investigation, that strength and in- Still it is observation which lies at the trepidity of character, which will follow bottom of his knowledge. Still it is man wherever the light of argument may con- taking his lesson from the actual condition duct him, though it should land him in con- of the thing which he contemplates ; a conclusions the most nauseous and unpalatable. dition that is altogether independent of his
We have no time to enter into causes; will, and which no speculation of his can but the fact is undeniable. Many philoso- modify or destroy. There is an obstinacy phers of the present day are disposed to in the processes of nature, which he cannauseate every thing connected with the- not controul. He must follow it. The ology. They associate something low and construction of a system should not be a ignoble with the prosecution of it. They creative, but an imitative process, which regard it, as not a fit subject for liberal in- admits nothing but what evidence assures quiry. They turn away from it with dis- us to be true, and is founded only on the gust, as one of the humblest departments lessons of experience. It is not by the exof literary exertion. We do not say that ercise of a sublime and speculative ingethey reject its evidences, but they evade the nuity that man arrives at truth. It is by investigation of them. They feel no con- letting himself down to the drudgery of viction; not because they have established observation. It is by descending to the the fallacy of a single argument, but be- sober work of seeing, and feeling, and excause they entertain a general dislike at the perimenting. Wherever, in short, he has subject, and will not attend to it. They not had the benefit of his own observation, love to expatiate in the more kindred fields or the observation of others brought home of science or elegant literature; and while to his conviction by credible testimony, the most respectful caution, and humility, there he is ignorant. and steadiness, are seen to preside over This is found to hold true, even in those every department of moral and physical sciences where the objects of inquiry are the most familiar and the most accessible. I fluence of every authority, but the authority Before the right method of philosophising of experience. We see that the beauty of was acted upon, how grossly did philoso- the old system had no power to charm him phers misinterpret the phenomena of ex- from that process of investigation by which ternal nature, when a steady perseverance he destroyed it. We see him sitting upon in the path of observation could have led its merits with the severity of a judge, unthem to infallible certainty! How misled moved by all those graces of simplicity and in their conception of every thing around magnificence which the sublime genius of them, when, instead of making use of their its inventor had thrown around it. senses, they delivered themselves up to We look upon these two constituents of the exercises of a solitary abstraction, and the philosophical temper, as forming the thought to explain every thing by the fan- best preparation for finally terminating in tastic play of unmeaning terms, and ima- the decided Christian. In appreciating the ginary principles! And, when at last set | pretensions of Christianity, there is a call on the right path of discovery, how totally both upon the humility and the hardihood different were the results of actual observa- of every inquirer; the humility which feels tion, from those systems which antiquity its own ignorance, and submits without rehad rendered venerable, and the authority serve to whatever comes before it in the of great names had recommended to the shape of authentic and well-established eviacquiescence of many centuries! This dence; and the hardihood, which sacrifices proves that even in the most familiar sub- every taste and every prejudice at the shrine jects, man knows every thing by observa-, of conviction, which defies the scorn of a tion, and is ignorant of every thing without pretended philosophy, which is not ashamit; and that he cannot advance a single ed of a profession that some conceive to be footstep in the acquirement of truth, till he degraded by the homage of the superstitious bid adieu to the delusions of theory, and vulgar, which can bring down its mind to sternly refuse indulgence to its fondest an- the homeliness of the Gospel, and renounce, ticipations.
without a sigh, all that is elegant, and Thus, there is both a humility and a har- splendid, and fascinating, in the speculadihood in the philosophical temper. They tions of moralists. In attending to the comare the same in principle, though different plexion of the Christian argument, we are in display. The first is founded on a sense widely mistaken, if it is not precisely that of ignorance, and disposes the mind of the kind of argument which will be most readily philosopher to pay the most respectful at- admitted by those whose minds have been tention to every thing that is offered in the trained to the soundest habits of philosophishape of evidence. The second consists in cal investigation; and if that spirit of caua determined purpose to reject and to sacri- tious and sober-minded inquiry to which fice every thing that offers to oppose the modern science stands indebted for all her infinence of evidence, or to set itself up triumphs, is not the very identical spirit against its legitimate and well-established which leads us to “cast down all our lofty conclusions. In the ethereal whirlpools of imaginations, and to bring every thought Des Cartes, we see a transgression against into the captivity of the obedience of the humility of the philosophical character. Christ.” It is the presumption of knowledge on a On entering into any department of insubject, where the total want of observation quiry, the best preparation is that docility should have confined him to the modesty of mind which is founded on a sense of our or ignorance. In the Newtonian system of total ignorance of the subject: and nothing the world, we see both humility and hardi- is looked upon as more unphilosophical hood. Sir Isaac commences his investiga- than the temerity of that a priori spirit, tion, with all the modesty of a respectful which disposes many to presume before inquirer. His is the docility of a scholar, they investigate. But if we admit the total who is sensible that he has all to learn. He ignorance of man antecedent to observatakes his lesson as experience offers it to tion, even in those sciences where the obhim, and yields a passive obedience to the jects of inquiry are the nearest and the authority of this great schoolmaster. It is most familiar, we will be more ready to in his obstinate adherence to the truth admit his total ignorance of those subjects which his master has given hiin, that the which are more remote and more inacceshardihood of the philosophical character sible. If caution and modesty be esteemed begins to appear. We see him announce, so philosophical, even when employed in with entire confidence, both the fact and its that little field of investigation which comes legitimate consequences. We see him not within the range of our senses; why should deterred by the singularity of his conclu they not be esteemed philosophical when sions, and quite unmindful of that host of employed on a subject so vast, so awful, so antipathies which the reigning taste and remote from direct and personal observaphilosophy of the times mustered up to op- tion, as the government of God? There pose him. We see him resisting the in- ! can be nothing so completely above us, and
beyond us, as the plans of the Infinite Mind, i nomena which can be collected from the which extend to all time, and embrace all narratives of antiquity. We seize with worlds. There is no subject to which the avidity every record of the manifestations cautious and humble spirit of Lord Bacon's of Providence, every fact which can enphilosophy is more applicable; nor can we lighten the ways of God to man; and we conceive a more glaring rebellion against would esteem it a deviation from the right the authority of his maxims, than for the spirit and temper of philosophical investibeings of a day to sit in judgment upon the gation, were we to suffer the crude or Eternal, and apply their paltry experience fanciful speculations of our own limited to the counsels of his high and unfathoma- experience to take a precedency over the ble wisdom. We do not speak of it as im- authentic informations of history. pious; we speak of it as unphilosophical. But this is not all. Our experience is not We are not bringing the decrees of the or- only limited in point of time; it is also thodox to bear against it; we are bringing limited in point of extent. To assign the the principles of our modern and enlight- character of the divine administration from ened schools. We are applying the very the little that offers itself to the notice of same principles to a system of theism, that our own personal experience, would be far we would do to a system of geology. Both more absurd than to infer the history and may regale the fancy with the grandeur character of the kingdom from the history of their contemplations; both may re- and character of our own family. Vain is ceive embellishment from the genius and the attempt to convey in language what the imagination of their inventors; both may most powerful imagination sinks under; carry us along with the powers of a capti- how small the globe, and "all which it invating eloquence. But all this is not enough herits,” is in the immensity of creation! to satisfy the severe and scrupulous spirit How humble a corner in the immeasurable of the modern philosophy. Give us facts. fields of nature and of providence! If the Give us appearances. Show us how, from whole visible creation were to be swept the experience of a life or a century, you away, we think of the dark and awful solican draw a legitimate conclusion so bound- | tude which it would leave behind it in the less in its extent, and by which you propose unpeopled regions of space. But to a mind to fix down both the processes of a remote that could take in the whole, and throw a antiquity, and the endless progressions wide survey over the innumerable worlds either of nature or of providence in future which roll beyond the ken of the human ages. Are there any historical documents? eye, there would be no blank, and the uniAny memorials of the experience of past verse of God would appear a scene as goodly times? On a question of such magnitude, and majestic as ever. Now it is the adwe would esteem the recorded observations ministration of this God that we sit in judgof some remote age to be peculiarly valua- ment upon; the counsels of Him, whose ble, and worth all the ingenuity and elo-wisdom and energy are of a kind so inexquence which a philosopher could bestow plicable; whom no magnitude can overon the limited experience of one or two power, whom no littleness can escape, generations. A process of geology may whom no variety can bewilder; who gives take millions of years before it reaches its vegetation to every blade of grass, and accomplishment. It is impossible that we moves every particle of blood which circan collect the law or the character of this culates through the veins of the minutest process from the experience of a single animal; and all this by the same omnipotent century, which does not furnish us one arm that is abroad upon the universe, and single step in this vast and immeasurable presides in high authority over the destiny progression. We look as far as we can of all worlds. into a distant antiquity, and take hold with It is impossible not to mingle the moral avidity of any authentic document, by impressions of piety with such a contemplawhich we can ascertain a single fact to tion. But suppose these impressions to be guide and to enlighten us in this interesting excluded, that the whole may be reduced speculation. The same caution is necessary to a matter of abstract and unfeeling intelliin the subject before us. The administra- gence. The question under consideration tion of the Supreme Being is coeval with is, How far the experience of man can lead the first purposes of his uncreated mind, and him to any certain conclusions, as to the it points to eternity. The life of man is but character of the divine administration; if it a point in that progress, to which we see does lead him to some certain conclusions, no end, and can assign no beginning. We then in the spirit of the Baconian philosoare not able to collect the law or the cha- phy, he will apply these conclusions to the racter of this administration from an expe- information derived from other sources; rience so momentary. We therefore cast and they will of course affect, or destroy, an eye on the history of past times. We or confirm the credibility of that informaexamine every document which comes be- tion. If, on the other hand, it appears fore us. We compare all the moral phe-Ithat experience gives no light, no direction on the subject, then, in the very same upon the weight, or the nature of human spirit, he will submit his mind as a blank testimony, that they venture to pronounce surface to all the positive information on the credibility of the Christian revelawhich comes to it from any other quar- tion. It is on the character of that revelater. We take our lesson as it comes to tion itself. It is on what they conceive to us, provided we are satisfied beforehand, be the absurdity of its doctrines. It is bethat it comes from a source which is au-cause they see something in the nature or thentic. We set up no presumptions of our dispensation of Christianity, which they own against the authority of the unques- think disparaging to the attributes of God, tionable evidence that we have met with, and not agreeable to that line of proceeding and reject all the suggestions which our de- which the Almighty should observe in the fective experience can furnish, as the follies government of his creatures. Rousseau exof a rash and fanciful speculation.
presses his astonishment at the strength of Now, let it be observed, that the great the historical testimony; so strong, that the strength of the Christian argument lies in inventor of the narrative appeared to him the historical evidence for the truth of the to be more miraculous than the hero. But Gospel narrative. In discussing the light the absurdities of this said revelation are of this evidence, we walk by the light of ex- sufficient in his mind to bear down the perience. We assign the degree of weight whole weight of its direct and external evithat is due to the testimony of the first dences. There was something in the docChristians upon the observed principles of trines of the New Testament repulsive to human nature. We do not step beyond the taste and the imagination, and perhaps the cautious procedure of Lord Bacon's even to the convictions of this interesting philosophy. We keep within the safe and enthusiast. He could not reconcile them certain limits of experimental truth. We with his pre-established conceptions of the believe the testimony of the apostles, be- divine character and mode of operation. cause, from what we know of the human To submit to these doctrines, he behoved to character, it is impossible that men in their surrender that theism, which the powers of circumstances could have persevered as his ardent mind had wrought up into a they did in the assertion of a falsehood; it most beautiful and delicious speculation. is impossible that they could have imposed Such a sacrifice was not to be made. It this falsehood upon such a multitude of fol- was too painful. It would have taken away lowers; it is impossible that they could from him, what every mind of genius and have escaped detection, surrounded as they sensibility esteems to be the highest of all were by a host of enemies, so eager and so luxuries. It would destroy a system, which determined in their resentments. On this had all that is fair and magnificent to rekind of argument we are quite at home. commend it, and mar the gracefulness of There is no theory, no assumption. We that fine intellectual picture, on which this feel every inch of the ground we are tread- wonderful man had bestowed all the eming upon. The degree of credit that should bellishments of feeling, and fancy, and elobe annexed to the testimony of the apostles, quence. is altogether a question of experience. Every In as far, then, as we can judge of the principle which we apply towards the de- conduct of man in given circumstances, we cision of this question is founded upon ma- would pass a favourable sentence upon the terials which lie before us, and are every testimony of the apostles. But, says the day within the reach of observation. Our Deist, I judge of the conduct of God; and belief in the testimony of the apostles, is what the apostles tell me of him is so oppofoanded upon our experience of human na- site to that judgment, that I discredit their ture and human affairs. In the whole process testimony. The question at issue between of the inquiry, we never wander from that us is, shall we admit the testimony of the sure, thougi humble path, which has been apostles, upon the application of principles pointed out to us by the great master of founded on observation, and as certain as is philosophising. We never cast off the au- our experience of human affairs? Or, shall thority of those maxims which have been we reject that testimony upon the applicafound in every other department of know- tion of principles that are altogether beyond ledge to be sound and infallible. We never the range of observation, and as doubtful suffer assumption to take the precedency and imperfect in their nature, as is our exof observation, or abandon that safe and perience of the counsels of heaven? In the certain mode of investigation, which is the first argument there is no assumption. We only one suited to the real mediocrity of are competent to judge of the behaviour of oar powers.
man in given circumstances. This is a subIt appears to us, that the disciples of the ject completely accessible to observation. infidel philosophy have reversed this pro- | 'The second argument is founded upon asCess. They take a loftier flight. You sel-sumption entirely. We are not competent dom find them upon the ground of the to judge of the conduct of the Almighty in historical evidence. It is not in general, 1 given circumstances. Here we are pre