« הקודםהמשך »
on the Newtonian hypothesis has previously led us to expect. I shall endeavour further to illustrate the notion of hypothetical existences by referring the reader to what happens in certain specific calculations. In examining, for example, binary and complex and siderial systems, do we not assume their revolution round hypothetical or empty centres ; at the same time do we not find that such hypotheses, are capable of explaining clearly and consistently all the observeable movements of the heavenly bodies' under consideration. Now, I say, in a more extended sense, that a central source of causation is, likewise, hypothetical, but it is an hypothesis whose validity is to be sought for in its application to sensible phenomena.
Now observe, I only compare attraction as a cause particular, with Deity as a cause in general, inasmuch as they are both objectionable hypotheses, and do not contradict the phenomena they are assumed to explain. Both, too, may be imitated and viewed on a small scale of effects before our eyes. The pendulum in describing areas equal to the times, and the magnet in drawing tho piece of steel, and the two concurrent cork balls in water, illustrate the greater attractive forces which hold the planetary globes in their orbits, while 'man and animals, like small fragments and dwarf illustrations of greater hypothetical powers of volition, may give us the idea of an immense source of motion, and fountain of intelligence. The ancients spoke of the whole sum of human and animal intelligence together, and called it Divinæ particulum auræ.
The notions that I entertained on these subjects when almost a child differed very little from those I now possess, except in extension, and the subsequent multiplication of examples in proof of them. I have always approximated gradually towards the conception of a deity or central cause, by the examination of nature, or, in other words, effects considered as resulting from powers adequate to their production, I reasoned thus :-There is a something which causes the changes of phenomena, and that something appears to be the source of motions. All the motions, whose effects are exhibited in the theatre of our earth's habitable surface are referrable, either to chemical affinities; to atmospherical influence; to vegetation; or to animal volition. But these forms, with the exception, perhaps, of volition, imply nothing more than species of motion referred by chemists and naturalists to hypothetical causes--such as chemical attraction, gravitation, magnetism, &c. While these minor motions are going on, and their proper phenomena are being exhibited, the whole existing of them are moving round the sun in a particular orbit, on the surface of our globe, revolving, at the same time, on its own axis, and existing in mutual relation to other such globes moving in other similar orbits, having also proper motions round their own axes, and some of them having, like our own globe, mimor
globes or satellites moving round them, and the whole of this vast moving machine with the sun in its centre, called the solar system, is explained on the priociple of another hypothetical cause of motion, which places the centre of gravity in the sun. But according to this hypothesis called Newtonian, the solar system itself must exist, in a certain relation to other solar and sidereal systems. Now between any given or assumed number of these systems, there must be a hypothetical centre of gravity. Our solar system, magnificent indeed as it is in itself, is, nevertheless, only a very minute portion of the universe. All the stars we see on a fine night can be shewn by a calculation of probabilities to be, either insulated solar systems like our own, giving central support to planets, or else sidereal systems composed of two or more stars revolving round an empty common centre. The motions of all their revolving bodies are referrable and explainable on the Newtonian hypothesis. Moreover, all the stars we see with our naked eyes seem to lie within the plane of that numberless zone of stars and starmaking nebulæ that by their joint line cause the appearance of the milky way. Each of these small stars is invisible alone without a telescope; neverthelesss, the whole number together, by their conjoint influence; produce that celebrated band of light: all of these stars too are so immensely distant that their appearance to us only affords direct evidence of their having existed many ages ago, and affords evidence by induction only of their existing now !! A grand conception of the immensity of the universe now begins to present itself. For all the stars we see surrounded by the milky way, probably only constitute one set or system of worlds out of the countless millions of such assemblages of worlds: extending throughout infinite space, and existing for an eternity of time!!! Now, according to a hypothesis verified by its unexceptionable application to all sensible phenomena, every atom of this immense universe must exist in mutual relation with every other, and with the whole: each celestial globe, in direct proportion to its bulk and proximity, creating a disturbance in the motions of the others. Now, though the effect of any one, as of the sun for example, or the other more and more remote bodies is lost in infinity, and becomes at last inconversant, yet I can conceive that for all existing systems taken collectively there can be a centre of motion or central cause of all the figures and orbitary mechanisms, and of all the motions or changes of figure which take place on the animated surfaces of these innumerable worlds. I assume such a hypothetical centre, and choosing the simplest form. I represent it by unity, and call it the Deity. Any other word would do as well as a sign, but such it has been named ; and in repeating it I assert, that the assumption of such a Being, considered with reference to the whole material and eternal universe is not inconsistent with any physical science, is recoucileable to all sensible phenomena, and af
fords an agreeable mode of resolving our ignorance of the primary source of phenomena into one hypothetical centre of causation ; which is better and more satisfactory to my mind, and to that of the bulk of mankind, than the habit which Atheism must generate of viewing all phenomena as passing phantoms, lawless, causeless, and devoid of universal harmony. then is the God, not of my idolatry, but of my hypothesis, and if you can shew it to be inconsistent with any sensible phenomena, or at variance with any known science, I will give it up. In turn, if I can shew that it is capable of a reconciliation with all phenomena which we can examine; I shall claim of you to admit it, and regard it, like the Newtonian Theory, as an unobjectionable hypothesis.
Now, if we admit a central causė, or one cause for all phenomena, that said cause must be regarded as the soul or moving principle of the universe; but this does not do away with my nolions of the eternity of matter. The whole, taken collectively, is the Deity, and the Greeks were so aware of this, that they represented their.PAN, or the Mighty ALL, or All Mighty, by a naine that implies five, and is so applied as being, according to their philosophy, the number of all the elements, earth, air, fire, water, and ether, or spirit. Milton, the Deistical poet, introduces the word Pan to represent the incarnation of the All Mighty in the person of Christ. Pan, like Christ, became the Good Shepherd, the ovium custos, and that too by a similar sort of personification, among those who mistook the ancient philosophy, or who wished to convert it to their own purposes.
Matter then is an Eternal Necessity, that sets bounds to the moving power, and that must deprive philosophers of an Almighty God, and strip the Divinity of his pretended omnipotence. For God the Universe cannot alter ‘his nature. Now the God of Grace, or the imaginary Great Do Good, is a term which signifies the perception of an apparent design in Nature for the production of happiness, which the resistance of matter seemed to prevent by affording obstructions to perfection; and thus were suggested the terrifying personification of the Devil, or Great Do Evil. I can cite Saxon and Gothic authorities for this assertion, and for the etymology of God and Devil. But the facts of their history are plain.
Nature signifies that which is about to be, and represents the phenomena of the universe in the relation of cause and effect a's one eternal and unchangeable chain of events. Nature is therefore the manifestation of the secret power of the great All, and thus Chaucer truly calls her
“ Nature, the Vicar of the Almighty Lorde." So much for God. Now with respect to ourselves, we perceive that nothing is really destroyed, but only changes its form. And
Vol. XIV. No. 14.
therefore we shall only change our forms as far as relates to our bodies, my hand may in 500 years be part of a cow's tail, for example. But now comes the question which Shakspeare calls
“ To be, or not to be ?"
In the brain there is a capacity for sensation, which we call our minds. Will this capacity by the change which we call death be destroyed, or merely be changed? The question is one of immense difficulty as to its solution. To help us on with it, I assert, in the first place, that Locke was wrong in placing personal identity in remembrance. Identity does not necessarily imply recollected identity. Am I not the same being as I was when a child, a sentient being of a year old, too long ago for me now to remember any thing ? Now whether this, which the French call mon moi, this same said self, this which sensates or perceives all the sensible qualities of external bodies, which communicates with other sensient beings, recollects past sensations, and reasons on its own power, and its own existence and identity, will survive the wreck of that organization on which its powers are now manifested and its relations with the external world established, is a question that I have discovered no mode of reasoning capable of furnishing a satisfactory reply to. This I know, that all the fabled theologies and metempsychoses of antiquity are mere creatures of the human imagination; and I hope in subsequent Numbers of your excellent medium of free enquiry, “ The Republican,” to give some curious details
of the history of the Gods and Goddesses, Angels, Demons, and Devils, of all religions, and to shew, how airy nothing has acquired a local habitation and a name. Meanwhile, to all childish questions of posthumous futurity, I reply with Simonides,
Ω παι τελος μεν Δευς εχει βαρυκτυπος
I am yours, &c.
Det. 8, 1826.
INCONVENIENCE AND IMMORALITY OF OATHS.
• THE REPUBLICAN” has often exclaimed against the vice of oathmaking, and has shewn it to be wholly unnecessary, where the same penalties apply to falsehood as to what is called falseswearing. This practice of legislative oathmaking is the first
principle and examplar of that habit which is termed profane swearing. The importance attached to the one keeps the other
countenance. Specimens of the absurdity of oathmaking before magistrates frequently occur, one of which is the following, taken from the Times newspaper of the 11th inst. The case before the magistrate was one of casual assault, where the parties charged each other, and wherein both were held to bail. The situation of the magistrate is pitiable, where he comes in contact with such a man as Mr. Middix. it is time that this mischievous error of oathmaking be removed by the legislature.
“ And are
Before the bail for either arrived, the Baron said, that the complainant's name was not Middix at all, but Jacobs; and that he was a downright Jew, although he had been sworn on the New Testament.
Mr. Conant asked Mr. Middix if he had given a false account of his name and religion? At this moment, Mr. Middix's father entered the office to bail his son; and the latter replied to the Magistrate's question by saying, “ There is my father, Sir; he can tell you whether my name be Jacobs or Middix.
Mr. Conant asked Mr. Middix, sen., a very respectable-looking old gentleman, the same question.
Mr. Middix, sen., handed in his printed card, and said, that was his name, “ Middix;" he never bore the name of Jacobs, he said, in his life.
Mr. CONANT then asked what religion he was of?
you of the same persuasion ?" said Mr. Conant to the son. Yes," said Mr. Middix, jun., “ I am a Jew, and I glory in acknowledging that I am one."
Mr. Conant then asked how, being a Jew, he could permit himself to be sworn on the New Testament.
Mr. Middix said that he really did not know which it was, the New or the Old Testament that he had been sworn upon; indeed he had no recollection of having been sworn at all.
Mr. CONANT.—Yes, you were sworn on the New Testa:nent: if you had not been sworn, your statement as a complainant could not be heard, and you must have known that persons of your persuasion always put on their hats when being sworn, and that ceremony you did not go through.
Why, said Mr. Middix, jun. I, for my own part, regard these ceremonies but very little; I think it of no sort of consequence whether a man be sworn with his bat on or bis hat off, any more than with his wig on or bis wig off; or whether he swears to tell the truth with the Old or the New Testament in his hand. I deem an oath taken in any shape or form, so as it binds the conscience, equally effective with another; and I would just as soon be sworn on the Koran as on either the Bible or the Evangelists, and I can, if you wish it, Sir, give you my reasons for thinking one just as good as the other.
Then, said Mr. Conant, do you believe in the New Testament ?
Mr. Middix-In part of it I do, and in part I do not; and it is just the same with the Old Testament, and I can give you sufficient reasons for the seeming inconsistency too, if you wish for them.
Mr. Conant said, that he had no wish whatever to enter into any discussion on such points, but it was clear that according to the usual forms for