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it.” This I have noticed. Now what do these passages prove? And in default of their proving any point for your theory of a god, they leave even William Allen an Atheist.
All men are Atheists, when they rest upon their knowledge. So are all women. And children, infants, not having been taught to speak beyond their knowledge, are naturally Atheists.
Your concluding sentence in the fifth paragraph is decisive of the question. After noticing the various effects produced by the elements of matter, you say:
“ Hence it will follow, that air, earth, water, together with the present animals and vegetables, are composed of the same materials as those which existed at the first creation, notwithstanding the revolutions and changes through which in a series of ages these original elements must have passed ?” Why a creation? Why notthese elements exist, instead of your creator, before the time you would assign to creation ? Here
have the elements visible; but where is your visible creator? It is preposterous to say, that the elements, do not act of themselves. I appeal to your knowledge, as to a celebrated chemist, and ask, if they do not act of their own powers in the formation or dissolution of bodies. You have confessed that they do, at the commencement of the paragraph under review. Then, since we have no need of it, to account for the creation of the things that have existed or that do exist,
WHAT IS YOUR GOD? The sixth paragraph I re-copy entire:-“ So far we see a regu. gular gradation of beings, rising in their various degrees from simple life to sensation under all its modified circumstances, Every thing, so far, complete : but a being was wanted to supply the next link of the chain, and that being is man.” What is the next to man? Why was man wanted? What is man? Let us look at him in London, which is called the centre or focus of civilization, and what is he? His predominant character is that of covering a filthy and diseased body with more filthy garments. In temper and judgment as to what is good for himself, he is beneath any other animal. His habits and qualities are more depraved than those of any other animal. He has more vices than any other animal. Right cducation may improve bim; but the education of creeds and catechisms alone has made him worse than a savage or wild man. The ale-house is his den and in his sleeping hole he seems to court foul air. If we look at him in other countries or other times, we see in the aggregate nothing to admire, and 'but little to approve. He delights in war, more cruelly than any other animal; for he will kill where he does not want to eat. He is a beast of prey, without the excuses that be made for the lion and the tiger; and the principle of reason, of which he boasts, serves but to increase his depravity, from the want of being rightly applied. When I behold the wretched
Tooking beings that fill our streets, the “human face divine" constantly recurs to my imagination. In the front of the horse, the ox, the elephant, and the lion, there is something respectful; but the aggregate face of man is that of a wretched, intriguing being, corrupt in almost every nerve.
On the earth, the power of intellect ends with man, 'no chain, no link, beyond him. We cannot connect him with the beings of any other planet. We know nothing of them. The earth is our world, our prison, and here, likę bubbles, we rise and fall. Of superior rational beings, we know nothing; and though heaven is fabled, and bell peopled in fiction, we can find no God or Devil by any enquiry that we can make. We find no restingplaces for them. They are found only in the imaginations of those who do not enquire. They are the spirits that disturb the depraved religious mind. To me they have no existence, and I feel myself the more happy for having quitted their company, as I have found it in all other cases of bad company. : William Allen would be the more useful and the more happy man without them. His philanthropy would then fall into a right channel and produce good effects.
The sixth paragraph I also re-copy entire. “Man, placed at the head of terrestrial beings, differs from other animals by the gift of mind. . The mind, or soul, is properly the man; the body is merely a set of instruments by which it executes its purposes.'
Man is not placed at the head of terrestrial beings; but that power in him which we call mind raises him to advantages over them in certain states. In Africa, the elephant or lion is a much more noble being than the Hottentot, Bosjesman, or Caffre.
Great errors exist upon the subject of mind, and the little which mankind as yet possess is but badly used. Mind is the common property of animal sensations, and has its degrees upon the same principle or foundation in every animal, It is nothing distinct from the body. It is the action to which experience and practice have trained the body. Every labourer can observe this in himself, when he looks back to see how he has acquired the art of performing his task. Every linguist may take the same notice. It applies to every degree of human action. A good author may be supposed to have the highest state of mind; but an author can see that his mind is nothing more than the experience and practice of his body. In vain do you talk of powers of perception and memory, as qualities distinct from the body. They are qualities of the body, and have no separate existence. The body dies and the whole man is dead.
From the eighth to the seventeenth paragraph, we have a dissertation on the organs of animals, but more particularly on those of man.
The description of the organs is a piece of useful knowledge ; but the application I combat as erroneous, as it is an erroneous dogma that I have before combated. The inference on
your side is, that the organs of animals are designed for all those uses to which animals apply them. I maintain, that they are not designed; but applied by the animals, after practice, to such uses as those to which they are adapted. To the infant, eyes, hands, and feet are useless, until they are gradually trained to use. The craving sensations of the stomach induce it to seek whatever comes the way of its mouth, as its first effort; but there is no visible design or preparation. The “ adaptation of the means to the ends” is not in the design, but in the subsequent discovery that such means are adapted to such ends. For instance, you say, in the eighth paragraph, that “it was not necessary that the human eye should be as penetrating as that of the bawk or the eagle. Man, when it is necessary for him to see at a distance, can employ a telescope." What could be do, before the telescope was invented? Your designer did not design a telescope for his deficiency of sight. The telescope, as another organ, is a means discovered and adapted to a new end, not by the great designer; but by the labour, art, and research of man. It is a matter of great importance, to teach man the truth, that: he has every thing to do for himself, and that there is no great designer to do any thing for him. While he is looking up to bis great designer, to accomplish his improvement and happiness, he does nothing, wastes his time, and procures misery through that waste of time and neglect of duties.
You inform us, that the human body was made erect, that it might assume a commanding attitude: and the organs of sight are so placed as to be able to contemplate the heavens, and have an extensive range over the surface of the earth.” Man has no more advantage from sight, in contemplating the heavens, as you call the starred medium of matter, than any other animal. It is well known, and you admit, that many animals have a higher degree of sight, smell, taste, and hearing, than man ; but you excuse your great designer on this ground, in saying, that man has all that can be made useful to him. Why then does he invent instruments as substitutes for his want of more perfect organs ? On the ground which you take, it must be criminal to use a telescope or a microscope, inferring that your great designer has designed all that is necessary for man to know. The progressive state of knowledge, the proof that knowledge is only to be acquired by the labour of each individual, though each may facilitate the means of acquisition, is a proof annihilative of design in the construction of man and other animals. It is a proof, that man is left to do every thing for himself, and that there is no superior designer to design any thing for him. As far as history leads us, man lived through thousands of years without the mariner's compass. In some parts of the earth, with all the
powers or organs of reason, he lives through ages, as savage as any other savage, without discovering the use of mind or the pro
cess of cultivating it. : The organs of reason lie dormant for want of being brought into action. It is nothing but the state and custom of society įn England that produces the state of miod that we find here: In some parts of the country, at this time, the agricultural labourer is as ignorant as the cattle which assist him, and wherever education is neglected or prohibited man reverts to his natural and savage state.
The child of a brilliant man, if neglected, would be but a brute of the original stamp. Design is, therefore, disproved, or the designer was not benevolent in leaving man to self-improvement.
It should be kept in mind, that man bas not always been what we now see him in his improved state in England and other coun, tries. There was no William Allen, as a chemist, two centuries ago. His abilities would, then, as the first time of being introduced, have procured him the honour of being religiously banged, burned, or drowned as a sorcerer, When we speak of man as a rational animal, we speak of a small portion of mankind, and a portion, that, in some ages, has not had existence. From the sixth to the fourteenth century of Christianity, reason can scarcely be said to have had existence on the earth. : Strabo said all that can be said for man, in saying, that he is not a rational animal, but an animal with the capacity to acquire reason, Amidst all this waste of capacity to acquire reason where is the designer ?
You quote Rollin to illustrate your view, of human speech, thonght, &c.; and he with you reasons from the same error. Every animal has a certain degree of thought, and the higher degrees in man are the consequence of his power of speech and his capacity to acquire reason. Thought is a modification of sen: sations, a comparison between them, and a stimulating record of their experience that leads us on to improvement, to the pursuit of new happiness, and to the shunning of both new and old evils. Animal life is a struggle with evils, with powers that can destroy, it, and that combine (without design) to its destruction, To ward them off well, and to possess the best means of sustaining life, completes the sum of animal happiness.;
Rollin is correct, in saying, that “speech is one of the great advantages which man possesses over other animals.” It is the only advantage that he has, and he owes this to his capacity to form so many fine sounds through the glottis. These sounds are the foundation of human speech, and speech, with the aid of recording sounds by letters or sigps, is the foundation of the bu. man mind. The form of the glottis, I take to be a sort of natu: ral accident, and thus the necessity of a designer is removed from the existence of mind.
Rollin supposes, that he should suffer inexpressible disquiet, that the whole world would be a frightful solitude, if he had not a voice to communicate his thoughts to his fellows. The error lies in his mixing up two characters. He supposes that he should
be equally intelligent and thoughtful, if he had no voice. His state would not be one of disquiet, but one of quiet, pursuing the animal pleasures, as other animals do. He would be in the state of other animals that have no voice to constitute any thing like human speech. • Providence," he says,
- has relieved him from this supposed frightful state of having reason without being able to express it, by giving him a voice, speech, and ideas." He might have found the whole without Providence, or Providence is reproachable for not having created man in that state, and for not giving them to all men. Mankind are now found in savage states that have but little of speech and less of ideas, thought, or reason. The error lies in speaking of man in the highest rate found among individuals, instead of looking at him in all his grades.
Yoúr sixteenth paragraph merits pointed notice, and, as it is short, I will re-copy it:-- While man resembles other animals in the structure of his body, which is merely the instrument of his will, he is by the gift of other powers placed at an immeasurable distance from them. By the faculty of reason he is distinguished from all other visible beings, and by the immortal part, or soul, which constitutes his very essence, he is capable of communioni with his Almighty Creator."
If the body of man be the mere instrument of his will, the same may he said for every other animal. I have before affirmed, that his body is his all in all, and that will, thought, reason, and all his qualities 'spring from it as from a fountain. The will is nothing distinct from the body. It is what every animal posşesses. Man has no immortal part that is not possessed in common with every other animal. If he has, I beg of you,
that explain what it is. He is distinguished from other visible beings, in no other sense than as they are distinguished from each other, and by no means at an immeasurable distance from them. Your man, William Allen, is like your god, not a real being: but a phantom of your imagination. He has more vices than any Other animal and not a virtue but is found among most of them. And, as for his communion with his Almighty Creator, if it mean any thing, it is what he holds in common with every other animal. I ask, on this paragraph, two things, that you explain what mind, soul, or immortal part of man is distinct from bis body, and what is bis Almighty Creator distinct from the common elements of matter. If you seriously question yourself on these points, you will find that you have raised phantoms which exist not beyond the brain. It is to such cases as these that Berkeley's theory of idealism applies. Here are ideas without realities to rest upon. Materialism expresses the amount of real knowledge of matter or things
In the seventeenth paragraph, you say :-" Inferior animals, in consequence of instinct, act in one uniform round: but man