תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

machine. I may illustrate the controul which vitality exercises over chemical action during the life of any part, by reminding you of what happens when a man dies sometimes—why, by God, then, his stomach is digested by its own gastric juice !!! Now, hang me if any body sball make me believe, after I know this, that vitality is only a property of animal organization, and not something else added to it. The vital principle, then, during life, that is to say, while that principle remaius united to the organic structure, produces all the functions of the body, and is sufficient, as far as we know, for all those functions which go on unattended with consciousness; that is to say, vitality builds up the structure of the body, developes it, matures it, and when it fails to uphold it, the body dies. Anatomists hare imagined that there was a vital forid, others have called it a nervous fluid, and so on, with many other tiates. Now, I do not care what name they call it by, nor deed you bother your brains about that: alf I contend for, and all that it is necessary for you to believe is, that it is a distinct principle.' And I call it life. But life, you know, does not account for intelligence. Living organs do not think. Oh no! those who rainly imagine that organs 'think and reason, it were better for them. selves and for the world if they had nothing but organs to think and to reason with !! But Materialists are not deep thinkers. I say, shat as life is something added to organization, so mind, or the principle of intelligence, is something superadded to vitality, I am perswaded, that no argument, which I might listen to, could for a moment make me think otherwise, even if the holding of so danaable an opinion were made to appear ever so desirable to me. And this is what you must and will all-of you think, if you reflect carefully on what I have said, and on what passes in your own minds. -- Besides, how could I have a personal identity, if I had not an identical principle, & something within me, which neither made any part of my body, nor was dependent on my life for its existence. Gentlemen, it is the mind; and however trivial these distivetions may seem, they entail the most momentous consequences, according as they are rightly anderstood and believed, or wilfully misrepresented and disbelieved. Matter, vitality, and intelligence, then, though closely united, are things distinct from each other. Their coexistence is necessary to the production of sensation.

I do not pretend that the mind perceives otherwise than by means of living organs; but this does not make the organs to be the things which perceive. The eye, for example, is said to be a complete camera obscura, yet let it be ever so complete as an optical instrument, and let the picture of objects be ever so clearly painted on the retina, yet there must, if I may so say, be another sentient eye behind to see it. Now, I say, that the sentient thing

What is a principle?

behind is the mind. Mental diseases afford an illustration of the dependence of the mind on the body, just as a fiddler cannot play a tune on a violio if the strings be out of order. But you would surely not identify the fiddler with his instrument, though the latter is bis only means of manifesting his talent for music. i You have heard of the doctrine of Mesgrs. Gall and Spurzheim concerning the brain: they say that the brain is an assemblage of orgabs, each being the organ of a particular faculty. This may or may not be strictly true. I have paid some attention to the system of late, with a view of examining how it stood related to the important doctrine of life which I have just unfolded to you, and which you know was the doctrine of Mr. Hunter, of whose great and invaluable merits I have so often' spoken. Now, I do verily believe, that the doctrine of Gall and Spurzheim is true, inasmuch as it relates to organs of particular propensities and qualities of the miad, and it rather confirms than impeaches the truth of the doctrine of life: for these various organs are only the instroments of the one undivided, distinct, and sentient mind. What I say of body, life, and mind, is not dew. Men bave thought the same thing in all ages, and have expressed it in different words; we, in modern physiological language, may say, that as the vital principle organizes matter, and makes the body in general--80 the intelligent principle may influence the developement and modify the form of the organs of the brain in par. - ticular, the original variety being in the mind.. I say mankind ha ve always believed something of this sort. Scepticism as to the distinct dature of mind, is a modern doctrine, or rather, defect of reasoning, and a pernicious one it is too. What mankind have always believed from the remotest antiquity, and what common sense dictates, is that which modern physiology teaches and confirms, namely, that there are in man three distinct principles

a body, made of common, inert matter--a vitality added to the body-and to vitality a percipient intelligence superadded': all closely united, and yet all distinct from each other. Now, this doctrine becomes the more important when we view it in relation - to another momentous doctrine to which it conduces. If mind be some principle distinct from living organs, why it may go on existing when living organs are no more; and this again in every age and in every country has been the firm and unimpeachable doctrine of mankind. Not but that examples occur of persons who think differently. There are, as I bave bad occasion to say before, persons who would try to make you believe, that life and mind were merely properties of organization ; persons, too, whe, from their talents and acquirements, have obtained a certain sway over opinion. These men have, in my opinion, done much mischief in spreading such odious opinions, than which nothing can tend more to degrade men in their own estimation, and disqualify them for becoming good and useful members of society. There are two ways of accounting for the folly and simplicity of propa

gating such opinions. The propagators of them may either seek
for an apology for their own immoral conduct in that doctrine
which denies there being any moral responsibility for our actions ;
or they may be desirous, by corrupting the source of virtue in
other persons, to bring down others to their own level in the scale
of moral beings. But I will not detain you any longer on this sub-
ject. Of the great advantage of the Christian's hope in the moral
responsibility for actions, and the immortality of the soul, I trust
you are all well aware ; and as we are absolutely certain of no-
'thing, and as men who think generally make their own minds, so
I would choose that doctrine for my own which conduces to all
sorts of great and good actions, rather than one which has the
contrary tendency, I am aware of the difficulties attending the
proof of immortality; but you know that dreams and phantasms
shew that the perception of ideas may be excited by other causes
than external objects, and thus the Deity may immediately in-
fuencé men's 'minds, so as to convey knowledge. In some such
way as this, important truths may have originally been conveyed.

Of the manner, too, of post-existence, I need say nothing, for I know very well that we know not how the mind 'will exist hereafter. All we perceive is that nothing is destroyed, but only changes, and that the intelligent principle, therefore, is in ali other things indestructible. We see, that right ways of thinking conduce to right actions, and these together may discipline and form the mind, nay, it may be that particular thoughts and actions may generate in the mind a capacity for existing eternally in another state. Here the lecturer sunk into a strain with which one should not fill up the pages of “The Republican.” Suffice it' to say that applause followed the close of the lecture, and that some ninety or a hundred Tyros went away fully persuaded that they had, in paying for their course of anatomical lectures, got a very satisfactory demonstration of the existence of the human soul into the bargain.

As the recollections of the above lecture have suggested the enquiry WHAT IS MAN, I shall endeavour hereafter to illustrate this question as a counterpart to your question WHAT IS GOD? And I will trace man in his capacity of body, life, and soul, from our first knowledge of him as a moving speck in the ovarium of his mother, through all the stages of fætus in utero, partus, baby, school-boy, philosopher, miser, and superunnuated second child. I will view him in all stages and sorts of vice, mi-sery, and loathsome filth; of suffering, and of pleasure ; of defect and perfection, and we shall then see how far the nature of man as we actually find it in the aggregate, seems destined to fit a separate mind for a state of immortal existence when the body is no more.

Yours,

QUESTOR.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

« ON THE DUTIES WHICH A MAN OWES TO HIS

COUNTRY."

FOURTEENTH DISCOURSE, Delivered before the SOCIETY of UNIVERSAL BENEVOLENCE,

in their Chapel, Lothbury, on Sunday, the 29th of October, 1826-By the Rev. Robert TAYLOR, A, B. and M. R. C. S. Chaplain of the Society, and Orator of the Christian Evidence Society.

MEN AND BRETHREN, When a map shall have discharged (as every wise and good man will) the various duties which he owes to himself, to his enemies, .to his friends, to strangers, and to the immediate circle of his domestic relations; when he shall have strengthened his mind, (as every wise and good man will constantly endeavour to strengthen his mind,) by the best and utmost possible cultivation of his intellectual faculties ; when he shall bave possessed his good and noble heart with the excellent virtues of fortitude and justice-he shall perceive himself standing in a relation to other men, of less endearing interest than that of the immediate ties of consangui: nity, but of more imperative obligations. This is his relationship to his country, and from this arises, in most natural sequence, the subject which I am now to bring before you, that is, The duties which a man owes to his country.

In the treatment of this subject (as we have treated every subject of moral investigation, on principles of absolute certainty and demonstration, and never shall we recognise or respect any other principle of morals) it may become incumbent on us to use a lan: guage startling to the ear, and alien to the apprehension of persons, who, now for the first time, visit our Areopagus. Such persons, not understanding the principles on which our science has been thus far substantiated, must necessarily find themselves considerably thrown out in the pursuit, upon finding that science now in an altitude of advance beyond the range of their speculations, speaking a language which they never heard, and establishing theorems which they had never contemplated.

In the celebration of the sacred mysteries of the Eleusinian Ceres, upon the annunciation of their Arcana Interiora, or more secret, and more sacred ceremonies, the hierophant was 'wont to proclaim, Abeste, abeste, O procul, abeste profuni-Be far, far beáce, O ye profane.

Without that incourtesy, but with that justice, upon entering on this scientific examination of the moral duties, comprebended in the word PatrIOTISM, we claim a right to admonish our auditors, that if they are here in expectation of hearing the ten thou.

Vol. XIV, No. 17.

sandth repetition of what they have heard before, and may bear any where else, if they anticipate the conciliation of their prejudices, the least degree of respect for their religion, or any attempt to tie down the eagle flight of still expansive thought, to the dull log of consecrated stupidity-they are going now to be most grievously disappointed. There are nurseries for infants, there are schools for boys and girls, there are churches and chapels for very good sort of people this is the place for Men! Go there, and be for ever innocent of strange doctrines or of new ideas; go there, and be sure that no fresh-suggested thought, or words unheard before, shall disturb the sacred stagnation of that everlasting all right, just as you were, and just as Adam and Eve used to be, which makes up the sum total of all the knowledge necessary to go to Heaven with ; and prevents what the most immoral and vicious men in society are always most conscientiously afraid of; prevents too much thinking: prevents, you know, " corrupting the morals of the rising generation.This admonition is most necessary upon entering on the inculcation of a branch of moral virtue, for which, by some sort of a happy or accidental oversight, no form of religion that hath ever been in the world (and I suppose there have been religions enow) hath ever laid down any rules whatever. The virtue of patriotism is entirely unknown to theology. The examples consecrated by religion, have ever been those of tyrants or of traitors, that is, of the possessors of arbitrary power, or of the aspirants to it; its precepts have consecrated the existence of a measureless and irresponsible authority in governors, and required an abject, passive, and unconditional obedience from subjects: the character of a patriot, of one either wisely and virtuously directing for the public good, or wisely and virtuously conforming to directions for the public good, has been entirely unknown.

It shall be no offence, then, I trust, that we attempt not to establish or.infer the proprieties and fitnessses of sentiment and action which become a man in relation to the community of which he is a member, from systems of theology which never professed to respect those fitnesses and proprieties, but which, in their most essential character, have been calculated and intended to prevent the mind's perceiving them or ever coming to be influenced by them. The language of theology hath never conveyed the just and noble sentiment of a genuine patriotism, breathing its ardent wishes for a nation's happiness, and pledging the immolation of self and of all selfish iuterests on the altar of Freedom. It hath never been said, “Come, the commonwealth, of equal rights between man and man; come, the republic, in which nothing shall gain ascendancy but ascendant virtue:” but its eternal heraldry hath been,“ kingdom come,” and “come the king,” not in the investitude of a grateful people's choice; the king not to be obeyed for the State's welfare, and no longer, and no farther than the welfare of the State makes that obedience virtue, but for no other

« הקודםהמשך »