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our food is justified by a law of nature, which teaches us the principle of self-defence; and he referred to a case of two starving men in a boat driven out to sea, each watching for an opportunity to kill the other for food, to show what extreme hunger will lead a man to do. But is it not an “ascertained fact,” that religious principle would fail in restraining every starving man of a sane mind from harbouring such
horrid thought? Nature, without religious principle, would, probably enough, make a starving man disinclined to share a crust he found with one similarly situated. At most, it only proves that there is that desperate degree of hunger which will turn a civilized being into a savage, because there need be no more hunger in a country without animal food than with it, as the land now used for pasture could be used for other purposes. There is certainly this little difficulty, which it is for philosophical and sceptical casuists to get over (and such is our "ignorance” that we are really incompetent to assist them in the task), viz. to determine this question of natural jurisprudence; to decide what proportion of the land, sheep, cows, &c. are entitled to for pasture by the law of nature, by the natural right of hunger, when a nation has arrived at the “utilitarian” point of “civilization,” and " optimism,” so as not to eat animal food.
The brain, again. Why should sceptics be in no doubt about the nature of it? There may be an invisible fluid, in addition to the visible vessels and organs; which Auid may be equally necessary to produce sense and motion. Either with or without this there may be (as is indeed supposed by not a few) a nervous fluid ; and this last reminds us that many materialists, in common with people of various other opinions, are believers in animal magnetism, into the question of the reality of which it is not necessary to enter at present, further than to say, that recent experiments seem to prove that there is a predisposition in some few (at least) constitutions to be actuated by it; that is, in fact, to be enabled to see without eyes, to hear without ears, v. c.-a system which, assuming it to be proved, appears to us to shiver the materialist theory to atoms. Reverting to the subject of the brain, does not a “necessity" arise for doubting the possibility of an invisible material substance, without the conjunction of something immaterial, in addition to the vessels and organs; or those vessels and organs alone, without any invisible material substance, being sufficient to call its functions--and one of these functions volition into activity ?
And leaving the consideration of the most important part of the body in particular, and taking into account the whole body, is there not most“ rational” inducement to the materialist to doubt the soundness of his theory,-nay, even to reject it,-in that law of grudual renovation, notwithstanding which, instead of our living, and preserving our vigour, for ever here, we are liable to decay and death? This seems to us very curious, upon materialist principles, and particularly so when in conjunction with denial of a supreme intelligence to thus provide against what would otherwise be the evil of propagation of species, without which provision the population of the world would have been long since too great, even for Mr. Owen's kingdom of Utopia.—Then, again, how can sceptical despisers of mysteries
admit-not as an article of belief merely, but as an article of knowledge, an “ascertained fact"—that a man thirty years of age is more likely to die than a man of thirty-one (and so of subsequent decades of years), seeing that we have no means of demonstrating the physical “ necessity” for this effect? Would it not be more consistent—if not more rational”—to doubt, and try to disprove, the correctness of the returns giving such results ?
Or, to speak to “credal infidel" philosophers (as they call themselves) about points of belief, why should they not, upon their own principles, doubt the occurrence of the Great Rebellion, or any other historical event? Can they produce such "proof, as that none can possibly doubt" the veracity of the historian? This is the kind of proof they demand of the truth of Christianity; and the infidel mystery is just this,-that they will believe, if belief is first superseded by the proof being so strong as to amount to positive knowledge; and that they will believe that this life is a state of probation, when such“ proof as that none can doubt” being afforded, would seem to supersede probation altogether.--And, to be consistent, they should disclaim having any thing to do with conclusions from probabilities with regard to worldly matters, which would cause confusion in some of the most serious affairs of life. Suppose the proof of the guilt of a man charged with murder, and the proof of his height, to be required to be equally positive. Not only in cases in which the evidence is called entirely circumstantial (and which kind of evidence is frequently most satisfactory to the court and the public), but in others, where the evidence is called most direct, it may be said by the sophister, that it is just possible that the witnesses had some secret motive for committing perjury, and the prisoner some secret motive for confessing a crime he never committed; or that it is possible that the prisoner was insane, seeing that the line between sanity and insanity has never been exactly defined. And of this last deficiency, two men, imbued with the spirit of modern scepticism, might consistently contend-one, that there is no such thing as sanity-the other, as insanity.
Again, how, upon their own rules of scepticism concerning revealed religion, is the faith of the “rationalists" so strong with regard to that tenet of the “ credal infidel” creed, concerning what is rational and what is not-how, indeed, can any degree of faith be held by them to be sufficient to make it other than fanatical,--to make it “rational" in them to say, as in effect they say, and sometimes almost in the very words, “We are RATIONAL, and those who do not agree with us in our opinions are irrational.” It would seem to plain, " ignorant" men like ourselves, that revelation may be, because possible to be true, an infallible guide; but that natural reason must be fallible, because the wisest of us come very short of perfect judgement.* But, to take their own test in judging of the mystery, have they demonstrated that they are “rational,” in such a manner “as that none can possibly doubt ?" If they have, then, indeed, they have only to repeat the proof in every town and village, and they become triumphant! Can they so demonstrate it? Then why not doubt their own benevolence in keeping from the world such important proof that they
* Practically, reason is matter of opinion; as what one man thinks rational, another may think irrational. In politics this is constantly seen to be the case; and a few years ago most remarkably about the Reform Bill into the merits of which we have no intention of entering), when numbers cried out that the most rational course would be to adopt it without alteration (“' the bill, the whole bill, and nothing but the bill”). Well, their advice was acted upon, and then many of them turn round, and say that the most rational course was, after all, not taken ; but that, not.
now_not believe-that they, at least, of the sons of men, are infallible, insanus omnis furere credit cæteros ? Or is it that benevolence is wrong, or that scepticism involves so much contradiction and absurdity, that there is no end, if one once begins, to combatting it with its own weapons upon the reductio ad absurdum rule?
And is it not most AMAZING that materialists should feel no doubt of its being consistent with their own doctrine of “ascertained facts," to talk so confidently about “ necessity,” “organization,” and “circumstances ?” Saying nothing here of virtual change of organization, except that what we advanced in “Revivals, No. IV.” remains unanswered, can it be “ ascertained” beyond all “ doubt" that no two persons are similarly organized ? And even if this can be proved, may not two be so nearly alike as to lead us to the conclusion that the difference is of little, if any, consequence. Now, suppose two such individuals, brothers, brought up in the same nursery, sent to the same school and college, reading the same books, mixing in the same circles, and having the same intimacies and friendships; having, moreover, an equal indifference to office, and, with regard to the patronage of office, equally indifferent, whether this party or that party have the dispensation of it; men who have no favours to ask for their own
withstanding their confessed want of judgement and foresight on the former occasion, the truly rational course for the future is to constitute them sole judges of what alterations would be the most rational; it being thus so manifest that, if they think the prosperity of the country would be promoted by the adoption of the ballot and universal suffrage, and the morality of the country increased by the withdrawal from religion of the countenance of the state, such effects must infallibly follow the adoption of their theories. But seriously, to exalt natural reason so high as to supersede the want of revelation, instead of keeping it in its proper place, very high indeed, but still under revelation, is MORE UNNATORAL THAN PHILOSOPHICAL, because, as we have said, revelation may be, and natural reason cannot be, an infallible guide, seeing that fallibility, not perfect judgement, is, in truth, the compass sceptics offer to man wherewith to steer through the ocean of life. Whereas the "eye of faith” enables the man, who feels, from the consciousness of his fallibility, the want of a more certain guide than natural reason, and who, therefore, after impartially examining the evidences of Christianity, accepts the Bible as that guide,-it enables him, without any unseemly dogmatism, and yet without any doubt, to see clearly that no theory can be rational if opposed to divine revelation, even if propounded by one, who, in the face of the " ascertained fact” that all men are liable to err who trust in their unaided natural reason, has yet the assurance to speak of himself and his disciples as without doubt“ rational,” and of those whose opinions differ from his, as without doubt “irrational.''-- Paley, in a sermon on Seriousness in Religion, from which we quoted in “Revivals, No. III.” speaks like a man of good sound sense, when he says, “Reason, faith, and hope, are the only principles to which religion applies, or possibly can apply: and it is reason, faith, and hope striving with sense, striving with temptation, striving for things absent against things which are present." And here, we are persuaded, are some of the causes of men, in defiance of conscience, and their better judgement, treating spurious reason as if it were genuine (John, iii. 19—21).
families, and whom, through diffidence, v. C., nothing would induce to ask for others--(there are such men). One of these men may be generous and hospitable, the other mean; one a Churchman, the other a dissenter or an infidel (or even in the Church there is the distinction of High Church and Low Church, besides a third party, partly compounded of both); one a Conservative, the other a Whig (and possibly something more); one hasty, the other temperate ; one determined, the other irresolute; one abstemious, the other immoderate in eating, or drinking, or both; one uxorious and domestic, the other very different from either character; one fond of reading, the other averse to it; one of a sedentary turn, the other fond of field sports; one having good abilities, the other of very confined understanding. According to the materialist's theory, we should suppose that there is an “inevitable necessity” for these same “circumstances” in their earlier years, acting upon their similar “organizations," forming their dissimilar “ characters,"—the characters so very dissimilar, and the organizations, as far as we can judge by outward appearance and dissection after death, so nearly alike. Credat Judæus, say we! And it is not of man only, for as great difference might be observed in two horses, two dogs, two cats, or two birds; and will it be seriously pretended, that it is possible to prove, so as to be able to say with truth that it is
“ascertained fact,” that when a man has made a certain resolution—say that he will never publicly recant upon being convinced of his error-he has not, in any case, the power to keep or break it ? Archbishop Laud, naturally a timid man, through some “circumstance," (which might have been the having received spiritual aid,) met his fate with fortitude. The “ Seven Bishops” were surrounded with such “ circumstances” as we should think would make them the foremost to swear allegiance to King William, yet nearly all of them refused. And the very poor (and formerly very ill used by the English government) Scotch Episcopal Clergy will not be found more democratic in their conversation than the wealthiest of the English clergy_not so democratic as some of them. Again, it has frequently happened that two authors, sometimes cotemporary, sometimes not, have, and without any plagiarism, expressed very much the same thoughts upon-not merely one subject, but-several subjects, and yet there has been but little resemblance in their personal characters; the one being cold, the other enthusiastic, &c. &c. Then, again, there shall be such a sympathy between two minds, and the organizations most palpably dissimilar, that two individuals, meeting in a room for the first time, shall each, before a word is said, feel a desire to be acquainted with the other, and a warm and lasting friendship be the result. Though this may not be an “ascertained fact” to all who live in the cold region of pseudo-philosophy, we have no doubt that many readers of the Monthly are able to attest it by their own experience. Now the curious thing, upon materialist principles, is, that there should be that sympathy between persons so differently organized, that the same “necessity" which, acting upon the one organization, created the desire of acquaintance, did not, when acting upon the other, create antipathy, or, at least, indifference. And, if we just look at the question of adequateness of means to proposed ends in
the social theory of some materialists, we see one uniform system, with the avowed intention to increase the wisdom and happiness of millions; no two of those millions if they are right in their theorysimilarly organized. This is as if a man were to open a ready made clothes shop, all his stock to be suitable to thin men of four feet six inches high, and yet to assert that it would be “irrational” in stout men of six feet high to decline dealing with him, and not to show sufficient faith in his mysterious doctrine (perhaps through defect in the
organ of veneration") to proclaim him to be so wise and philanthropic as to deserve the title of “ great and benevolent."
Again, many modern materialists affect to take great exception against the Christian marriage doctrines. Now, in the great deficiency of some husbands in the quality called uxoriousness, is there not great reason for them to doubt the soundness of their “credal infidel” creed with regard to marriage and divorce? We will put one case (and we could put several others) of a man of profligate disposition married to an affectionate woman, the ardency of whose love, however, any amount of ill usage cannot lessen. Such a man would probably wish, after a little time, to be divorced; whereas the wife would say, that notwithstanding all his faults, it would break her heart to be separated: there may also be the interests of children ; but we will not insist upon them, as the ultimate object seems to be to destroy, in a great measure, family ties, by making each child more the child of the community than of its parents; though that object is rather veiled by proposing to have the schools near the residence of parents, and to allow free access to the children. But what is to be done in the case of such a couple as we have described? The wife will not join in giving the six months' notice (except perhaps that an extremely timid woman might be forced, by the threats of her husband, into a reluctant consent); and if she did, she would, before the time expired, alter her mind; whereas the husband would persevere in the same wish, even at the end of six years. It is clear, therefore, either that the proposed laws must be relaxed (which, it is important to remember, are not UNALTERABLE like the “law of the Medes and Persians”), to gratify the husband at the expense of great cruelty to the wife (who, perhaps, would be confined as a lunatic into the bargain for being so ** irrational” as to wish to live with such a man), -or that here we have a "circumstance” to create a “motive" in the husband to agitate in favour of such a reform of “credal infidel” MARRIAGE Law as will accomplish his selfish object. And supposing, therefore, such an agitation to go to work, he would find it expedient, with a view to gain a majority (it might, indeed, be a doctrine agreeable to his own disposition), io advocate polygamy, which many, if not from conviction of its “utility,” would from profligate disposition advocate as a very ancient liberty, and as judicious to allow. And what is to prevent its admission into the “credal infidel” creed? Would “reason” be a security against it to depend upon ? Let us see.
Some years ago there was a labour exchange established here by some “credal infidels," and it was said, on pretty good authority, that their HIGH PRIEST, whom they call a man of practical wisdom, protested against it on the ground that the people were not sufficiently enlightened for it to answer, but that his judgement was overruled. Assuming the character for