« PreviousContinue »
dishabille, &c. Why, Jacob,” said I, snuffing up the savoury smell which filled the room, “I fear we have interrupted you-you have been cooking your dinner." I winked at Dick Smyth-we saw there was something in the wind, and were determined to have (as Dick termed it,) a gag, “O no, no,” said Jacob, endeavouring to put on as cool a look as possible; “ I suppose some of the poor creatures below (meaning the servants) have been dressing a bit of meat; the house is small and the partitions thin," continued he, "and the smell of the kitchen comes up through it.” “Why, then, by the powers !” said Dick Smyth, “your kitchen is not far off, and the partitions must be mighty thin, for I'll take my oath the roastwhatever it is," continued Dick, snuffing with all his might—" is not more than a yard away from my nose.” “Oh, come, Jacob,” said I, “ out with it; I know you have been dressing a leg of mutton, or a piece of beef,—don't mind us, man, we shall not stay to dinner :" however, Jacob urged and protested it was no such thing.–We were not to be put off. I opened the presses-nothing there : Dick Smyth had a stick in his hand, and he set to poking about under the drawers and chairs; at last he came to the bed, -all this time, Jacob kept assuring us, with a kind of hysterical laugh, that we would find nothing. Dick poked the end of the stick under the bed ;--"What the d-- is this?” said he, turning the crooked end and hooking out about half a pound of half-cooked beefsteak covered with feathers and dust, for the room (at least under the bed) had not been swept for a month or two.“ By the powers,” roared Dick, “it's a young gosling, and he has been roasting it with the feathers on." 'We regularly choked ourselves with laughter, and poor Jacob, after struggling for a moment or two with intense agony, at last burst out into chorus. “By this and by that,” said Dick, when he could recover breath to speak, “ you are a regular cannibal,—the least you might have done, was to kill and pluck the unfortunate animal before you went to roast it." Well, when we had taken the worth of the joke out of poor Jacob, and when he began to calm a little himself, he entreated of us not to let the story go abroad, at least during his life ; we promised to keep it secret, -made him dress himself, instead of finishing the dressing of the gosling,- I took him off to my home with Dick Smyth, —and after dinner, when the ladies had retired, we had another laugh about the bed-room dinner, and the account from Jacob himself of his feelings at being caught in the fact; he told us, that on hearing our knock at the door, he had but time to throw the piece of beefsteak (which he was frying on the tongs) under the bed.
Jacob Nettle lived and died an old bachelor ; but a short time before his death, he was very nearly caught in the trap that he had so long avoided. A romantic old lady (as Jacob would call her) fell in his way at a boarding-house in town: he imagined that she had lots of money, and that she was very handsome; she imagined, I suppose, the same of Jacob: he made some advances, let fall (by his own account, in his cups) some endearing expressions
in fact, got himself into a considerable hobble for some time, for certain discoveries as to her property intimated to him that it would be better to retreat;-he did so, but she, being a constant lady, and still thinking Jacob was
rich, instructed her legal adviser : the man of law, however, after inquiry and deliberation, began to think that the promise which she alleged had been made, was one honoured in the breach than the observance;" he advised his client and Jacob to that effect. When Jacob found himself safe, he was not a little proud of this affair,-it had been his first love encounter, and I think it was quite time for it to be his last.
I could fill a volume with stories about old Jacob Nettle; but what I have told, I think, will suffice to give an idea of his character. He was honoured to the close of his life with the friendship of many distinguished individuals, amongst whom were the Bishop of B Lady M-5, the Earl of F-, &c. &c. As for myself, I can only say I had many a jovial moment in the company of Jacob Nettle, the pensioned off Irish barrister.
CHRISTIAN RELIGION FURTHER CONSIDERED. In our “Revivals, No. IV.,” we contended that the prevalence of practical infidelity does not furnish any argument against the authenticity of the Christian religion. But, though we, in some notes, controverted several favourite positions of atheists and deists, and though, in the text, we showed, from Paley and otherwise, that Christianity has already done much to improve mankind both in their collective and individual capacity, yet it may make our argument more complete to more directly consider Christianity in reference to what is called utilitarian philosophy
Now, the Christian religion is either true or false : it cannot be partly what it professes to be, a divine revelation, and the invention of impostors or madmen; but it may be only partly useful, or not useful at all, without its authenticity being disproved. A seed, after it is sown, is useless for a time, but yet is valuable on account of the future profit expected from it. Or suppose that Christianity is, at the present time, useful to society to a certain extent only, that it “ prevents some evils, that it renders some less cruel, more mild and tractable, that it lessens the disposition to crime in some people, and makes them more humane, modest, and decent;"* would it not be absurd to say that Christ came into the world as the Son, and Messenger, of the God of Truth, and yet that he was partly an impostor,Christianity, if partly useful, is authentic, but yet spurious, because not, at present, more useful? Here we would ask utilitarian sceptics why they are not equally sceptical upon many points they generally receive with the meekness and docility of little children ? It is a favourite tenet of their creed that their system is a “religion of education, attraction, and prevention; which is, consequently, a more perfect, and a more practising, religion than the Christian." Why
Vide "Manners of the Christians,” by the Abbé Fleury, Part 4, Section 61. † Mark, a. 15.
take this for granted ? Has it been “proved so that none can possibly doubt it" (their own test in judging Christianity)? A sceptic, again, knows that he is sitting in a certain room, and he believes that another
person is actuated by the most benevolent motives. Why not doubt the last, as, however strongly we believe a man to be honest, our belief cannot amount to positive knowledge, and therefore we cannot demonstrate the truth of it as we can prove where we are sitting? It is true that this would not be a very comfortable world to live in, if it became a general rule never to think well of any one unless the impossibility of our being mistaken was first mathematically demonstrated; il est plus honteux de se défier de ses amis, que d'en étre trompé ; but this is no plea to avail the sceptic, for it only proves that his system, even if true, is liable to the same objection he brings against revelation; that it is not without its difficulties, its justification (according to their own reasoning) of doubt. Admitting, then, for the sake of argument, that appearances are very fair (and so they once were with a certain unfortunate banker we knew, but whose sad fate marks most singularly the fallibility of human judgement), admitting that appearances are fair, why should this go for any thing, seeing that it is (at least) barely possible that he is actuated by malevolent, misanthropic, unpatriotic motives, and that he can foresee evils in his system of religion, politics, or philosophy, which he calculates his less shrewd followers will not detect till too late?
Then, again, why believe that a certain planet contains living beings, as only by the decried inductive process can the greatest astronomer show even the probability of it, while the utility of the knowledge is merely a matter of speculation? And we are at last so in the dark about the form, and mental faculties, of the highest class of beings in that planet, and whether they excel us or not in those respects, that, to be consistent with the “rationalist” creed, the theory should be condemned as unproved and therefore visionary..
Again, many sceptics are phrenologists. Why should they believe in this theory, which by no reasoning, either à priori or à posteriori,
demonstrated as that none can possibly doubt?” It may be altogether doubted : it may be thought partly true; or it may be thought true altogether. Each of these three views have been adopted by men not deficient in reasoning powers. Now, suppose the fact to be that it is true in part only: if we test it by its “ utility,” in what a mist of doubt ought not the sceptic to feel himself, to be so consistent? A man educates his son according to those rules of caution which phrenology prescribes, while there may be some secret peculiarity connected with that son, which may render the mode of instruction not only useless but pernicious. For example, phrenology may teach him to check the propensity to murder, while possibly there may in fact be such a deficiency of animal and moral courage in the child as to make him too little prone to resort to even the most justifiable act of self-defence : in this case, it is obvious that the child will become a most useless member of society. Then, again, if the child has the organ of veneration, in teaching him to venerate all that is “ useful” and “rational,” the inutility and irrationality, supposing revelation to be untrue, of the probable result being that the child will become
can be “
religious, or, as sceptics say, “irrational and superstitious," ought to be held by them to “militate against the authenticity" of the system altogether. It is true that, in this case, the soundness of the theory may exist in part, whereas the Evangelists could not have been what they represented themselves to be, and impostors also ; but those who adopt as logic the rules of sceptics, must come to this conclusion, seeing that, according to their own doctrine, there is “a great prevalence of practical misdirected veneration, which militates against the utility, and therefore against the authenticity,” of the science. And, further, this evil, supposing sceptics right, is so extensive, that they generally admit that what they call superstition is more natural than infidelity in the present state of society. There are here some curious, we should say providential, things to consider, viz. concerning the much greater difficulty there is in making a woman an infidel than a man. Now, a mother has almost exclusive influence over the minds of her young children ; and, after her, we may generally reckon elder sisters and other female relations. It is true that our modern philosophers call upon us for the exercise of " faith” and “patience,” till they“ prove their case so that none can doubt,” by performing their promise of introducing an improved scheme of female education, such as will so “enlighten” them as to make them prefer the “ ascertained facts” of infidel philosophy to the Christian religion, and even to consent to part with their children to go from them to receive a “rational” education.* But is it not all visionary? Must not the realization of this “more perfect” scheme be postponed, in fact, ad Græcus kalendas? Cobbett, no bad judge of human nature, used to say, that there is this inherent difference in women,—that they are more allegiant to the supremacy of conscience,—that, if their consciences tell them a certain conclusion is right, they do not trouble their heads about the question whether it legitimately arises from the premises of a precise syllogism. There are, however, men-and calling themselves philosophers too—who, without the natural plea of women with regard to conscience, seem to vie with them in the disposition to jump at conclusions.
Again, why has the sceptic no doubt of the propriety, the “ utility," of animal food? We need not go further than Ireland to see that it is not absolutely necessary. Should there be no misgivings with reference to its beneficial social effect with regard to "civilization” and charity, or “love of humanity," as the philosophical sterm is? The Christian, who does not pretend to “be wise above that which is written,” has the authority of both the Old and the New Testament, “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the
• It is true, what they say, that the children of Christians are frequently educated far from home; but, in these cases, domestic ties are completely preserved, as proved by a domestic circle during a school vacation. Whereas a school may be near the residence of parents, who may have free access, too, to their children at all times, and yet the system of instruction may of necessity tend to uproot influence of relations. As we understand the tendency (for that is of more importance than cautious professions of what is intended) of the “credal infidel" plan of education, a parent's chance of influence over a child would be small indeed, if attempted to be exerted in a spirit of scepticism in regard to the “credal infidel” “Confession of Faith,” whether concerning religion or civil polity.
N. S.- VOL. VI.
green herb have I given you all things." " Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake; for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.". But what authority, in reference to “utility,” “humanity," “civilization," or the many other fine-sounding principles of infidel philosophers, can they bring in favour of the right over the lives, or liberties, of any living creatures ? Can they produce consent, express or implied ? + Is it the right which might gives? Oh! no! That plea cannot come from advocates of liberty and haters of oppression. Is it animal instinct, as the cat can plead' for pouncing upon the weaker mouse, and running away from the formidable terrier ? This plea might avail man in a savage state, but is surely unsuited to a philosopher, and particularly if he is a believer in that “ credal infidel” creed which lays claim to be considered “a system of education, attraction, and prevention,” and “ a more perfect and a more practising religion than the Christian." We remember hearing a sceptic argue that taking the lives of animals for
Genesis, ix. 3; 1st Cor. 3. 25, 26.--The reservation, in the latter part of the verse, merely refers to idolatrous sacrifices, as is seen by the following
+ A very improper, as we think, concession is sometimes made to materialists, that other animals have no soul, or spirit, than animal life ; a theory which throws an unnecessary difficulty in the way of proving the partly immaterial nature of man; for many animals give strong proofs of possessing several attributes of what we call reason. The sober view to take of the matter is, we think, this,--that Scripture, which professes to be exclusively a revelation concerning God and man, is silent upon the point; and that, as far as we can observe with our limited faculties, other animals appear to fulfil their destination in this life ; and therefore that probably their souls are mortal as well as their bodies, which cannot be predicated of man with anything like an equal approach to certainty, or, as the "credal infidel" phrase is, “ascertained facts.” Perhaps the Apostle, in the 12th verse of the 4th chapter of Hebrews, only meant to allude to the peculiar immortality of man's nature, when he spoke of man as compounded of soul, spirit, and body. When we say that Scripture is silent upon the souls of other animals, we do not forget the 49th Psalm (which, by the way, ought to be added to the Psalms of the Funeral Service), and the 21st verse of the 3rd chapter of Ecclesiastes. With regard to the last, taken in connection with the context, it appears to us merely a part of an hypothetical argument, a step towards the not very materialist doctrine of the 7th verse of the 12th chapter, and the celebrated • conclusion in the last two verses of the book. With regard to the Psalm, the 12th, 15th, and 20th verses are thought by some, if taken together, to prove that man only has a soul; but this is not our view. As a part of a Divine revelation, it was important to man that the writer should be inspired to speak of a life after this for man, whereas, concerning the nature and destiny of other animals, the writer might have been left to speak according to the popular opinions of the time and country (see Deuteronomy, xxix. 29). There is a remarkable instance of this in the 41st chapter of Job. Ac. cording to our view of the Scriptures, as Christ's “ kingdom is not of this world" (John, xviii. 36), we are not entitled to expect information upon any worldly matter, unless it is of consequence to our understanding the more sacred, the specially inspired, parts of them. Thus it appears to us to be of not the slightest consequence, in receiving the Book of Joshua, whether the sun, or the earth, stood still at the time mentioned in the 10th chapter; and, indeed, before we should expect a special Divine revelation
teach man astronomy, we should look in the Bible for an account of the invention of the printing-press, for this certainly gives facilities to propagate the knowledge of it. Both were left to the ordinary energy of man's mind to discover,—and wisely left ; for, were study superseded, man would become too inert for his knowledge to be of any value.