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Title: Modern Atheism under its forms of Pantheism, Materialism, Secularism, Development, and Natural Laws
Author: Buchanan, James, 1804-1870
Language: English
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                 MODERN ATHEISM

               UNDER ITS FORMS OF



            JAMES BUCHANAN, D. D., LL. D.,


                _GOULD AND LINCOLN_,
                59 WASHINGTON STREET.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by

                   _GOULD AND LINCOLN_,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of

                 Electro-Stereotyped by
                _G. J. STILES & COMPANY_,
               23 Congress Street, Boston.


The contents of this volume originally constituted about one half of a
work, entitled "Faith in God and Modern Atheism compared, in their
Essential Nature, Theoretic Grounds, and Practical Influence."
Simultaneously with the first issue of that work in Scotland, the five
principal chapters in this volume were published separately, accompanied
with the announcement that _each was complete in itself_. The hint thus
given by the author, has been acted upon by the present publishers. On
examining the whole work, it was found to be divided into four Sections.
Of these, the third was devoted exclusively to "_Modern Atheism_." It
embraced the five chapters already alluded to, together with a general
introduction and four shorter chapters. It appeared, in fact, to be a
complete treatise by itself; and it is now presented to the American
public in the conviction that such a work is peculiarly demanded by the
present state of religious opinion in this country.

The author is one of the most distinguished divines of the Free Church
of Scotland. In 1845, he was appointed Professor of Apologetic Theology
in the New College, Edinburgh; and, on the death of Dr. Chalmers, in
1847, he was translated to the Chair of Systematic Theology thus made
vacant. In the former position, it became his duty to prepare a complete
course of Lectures on Natural Religion. His work on "Faith in God," &c.,
contains, in an altered form, adapted to general readers, the substance
of those Lectures.

Respecting this work, the British press generally has spoken in the
highest terms. The distinguished geologist, Hugh Miller, says, in the
_Edinburgh Witness_: "It is one of, at once, the most readable and
solid which we have ever perused;" and the _News of the Churches_, the
organ of the Free Church, describes it as "a work of which nothing less
can be said than that, both in spirit and substance, style and argument,
it fixes irreversibly the name of its author as a leading classic in the
Christian literature of Britain." An American critic says: "His succinct
analysis of the doctrines held by the various schools of modern atheism
are admirable, and his criticisms on their doctrines original and
profound; while his arguments in defence of the Christian faith against
philosophical objectors are unsurpassed by those of any modern writer.
Clear, vigorous, logical, learned, and strong as a Titan, he fairly
vanquishes all antagonists by pure mental superiority; never
understating their views or evading their arguments, but meeting them in
all their force and _crushing_ them." Another critic says: "It is a
great argument for Theism and against Atheism, magnificent in its
strength, order, and beauty.... The style is lucid, grave, harmonious,
and every way commensurate with the dignity and importance of the
subject.... The chapter on Pantheism is admirable. Regarding it as 'the
most formidable rival of Christian Theism at the present day,' Dr.
Buchanan seems to have specially addressed himself to the task of
exposing and refuting this error. His statement of Spinoza's system is
beautifully clear."

The reader will find that there is no exaggeration in these encomiums.
Hugh Miller, always felicitous in his choice of words, has exactly
described the two leading characteristics of "Modern Atheism," by the
phrase "readable and solid." Every one who begins the book will find
himself drawn strongly onward to the end; and no one can rise from its
perusal without a conviction that it contains a weight of argument
against _all_ the forms of Atheism such as never before has been
combined in one book.

Should the reception of this volume by the public furnish sufficient
encouragement, it is the intention of the publishers to issue the
remainder of the work ("Faith in God," &c.), in uniform style.

     BOSTON, _December_, 1856.



INTRODUCTION,                                              9

MODERN ATHEISM,                                           15

THEORIES OF DEVELOPMENT,                                  45


  --PHYSIO-PHILOSOPHY,                                    61



THEORIES OF PANTHEISM,                                   129

  THE SYSTEM OF SPINOZA,                                 142

  MATERIAL PANTHEISM,                                    161

  IDEAL PANTHEISM,                                       167

THEORIES OF MATERIALISM,                                 189

  DISTINCT FORMS OF MATERIALISM,                         192

  PROPOSITIONS ON MATERIALISM,                           207




  GOVERNMENT OF GOD,                                     254

  THE EFFICACY OF PRAYER,                                283

THEORIES OF CHANCE AND FATE,                             303

THEORIES OF RELIGIOUS LIBERALISM,                        323


THEORY OF SECULARISM,                                    361


A Treatise on the Being and Perfections of God, as the Creator and
Governor of the world, can scarcely be adapted to the exigencies of
modern society, unless it be framed with express reference to the
existing forms of unbelief, and the prevailing tendencies both of
philosophical thought and of popular opinion. It is quite possible,
indeed, to construct a scheme of evidence on this subject out of the
ample materials which the storehouse of nature affords, without entering
into any discussion of the questions, whether Physical or Metaphysical,
which have been raised respecting it. But this method, although it might
be sufficient for many, perhaps for most, of our readers--for all,
indeed, who come to the study of the subject with reflective but
unsophisticated minds--could scarcely be expected to meet the case or to
satisfy the wants of those who stand most in need of instruction; the
men, and especially the young men, in all educated communities, who,
imbued with the spirit of philosophical speculation, and instructed,
more or less fully, in the principles of modern science, have been led,
under the influence of certain celebrated names, to adopt opinions which
prevent them from seriously considering any theological question, and to
regard the whole subject of religion with indifference or contempt, as
one that lies beyond the possible range of science,--the only
legitimate domain of human thought. In such cases (and they are neither
few nor unimportant), it may be useful and even necessary to neutralize
those adverse presumptions or "prejudicate opinions," which prevent them
from considering the evidence to which Theism appeals, and to review the
various theories from which they spring, so as to show that they afford
no valid reason for discarding the subject, and no ground for alleging
that it is not fit _to go to proof_. It is true that we must ultimately
rely, for the establishment of our main positions, on that body of
natural and historical evidence, which depends little, if at all, on any
of the Theories of Philosophical Speculation, or even on any of the
discoveries of Physical Science; but it is equally true that the
evidence, however conclusive in itself, cannot be expected to produce
conviction unless it be candidly examined and weighed; and if there be
anything in the existing state of public opinion which leads men to
regard the whole subject with indifference or suspicion, to conceive of
it as a problem insoluble by the human faculties, and to treat Theology
as a fond fancy or a waking dream, it were surely well to examine the
grounds of such opinions, to expose their fallacy so as to counteract
their influence, and to refute those theories which prevent men from
judging of the evidence as they would on any other topic of Inductive
Inquiry. In adopting this course, we are only following the footsteps of
the profound author of the "Analogy," who finding it, he knew not how,
"to be taken for granted, by many persons, that Christianity is not so
much as a subject of inquiry," set himself, in the first instance, to
prove "that it is not, however, so clear a case that there is nothing in
it;"--this preliminary proof being designed to neutralize objections,
and to disburden the subject of all adverse presumptions, so as to be
judged on its own proper and independent merits. We are imitating, too,
the example of another sagacious writer on a kindred theme, who thought
that "Apologists had paid too little attention to the _prejudices_ of
their opponents, and had been too confident of accomplishing their
object at once, by an overpowering statement of the direct evidence,
forgetting that the influence of prejudice renders the human mind very
nearly inaccessible to both evidence and argument."[1]

If this method was ever necessary or expedient, it is peculiarly so in
the present age. Opinions are afloat in society, and are even avowed by
men of high philosophical repute, which formally exclude Theology from
the domain of human thought, and represent it as utterly inaccessible to
the human faculties. They amount to a denial, not merely of its truth,
but of its very possibility. They place it among the dreams of the
past--with the fables of the Genii, or the follies of Alchemy, or the
phantoms of Astrology. They intimate, in no ambiguous terms, not only
that Catholicism is effete, and Christianity itself dead or dying, but
that Theology of every kind, even the simplest and purest form of
Theism, must speedily vanish from the earth. Admitting that the
religious element was necessarily developed in the infancy of the
species, and that its influence was alike inevitable and salutary during
the world's minority, when it was placed provisionally "under tutors and
governors," they proclaim that mankind have outgrown the vestments which
suited them in earlier times, and that now they must "put away childish
things." That such sentiments have been publicly avowed, that they have
been proclaimed as the scientific results of speculative thought, and
that they have been widely circulated in the vehicles both of
philosophic discussion and of popular literature, will be proved by
evidence, equally sad and conclusive, in the succeeding chapters; in the
meantime we refer to them merely for the purpose of showing that, in so
far as their influence prevails, they must necessarily tend, unless
they be counteracted by some effective antidote, to generate such a
prejudice against the whole scheme of Theology, whether Natural or
Revealed, as may be expected, especially in the case of young,
inexperienced, and ardent minds, to prevent them from entertaining the
subject at all, or examining, with serious and candid interest, any kind
or amount of evidence that might be adduced in regard to it. For this
reason, we propose to review the various Theories or Systems which may
be said to embody and exhibit these prevailing tendencies, to meet our
opponents on their own chosen ground, and to subject their favorite
speculations to a rigorous and sifting scrutiny; and this, not for the
purpose of proving our fundamental position, for that must rest on its
proper and independent evidence, but simply with the view of
neutralizing the adverse presumptions which prevent many from
considering its claims, and proving that it is a subject that demands
and deserves their serious and sustained attention.

Taking a comprehensive view of European Science and Literature during
the last half century, we may discern the great currents, or chief
tendencies, of speculative thought, in so far as it bears on the
evidences and doctrines of Religion, in several distinct but closely
related systems of opinion, which, whether considered severally or
collectively, must exert, in proportion to their prevalence, a powerful
influence on the side of Atheism. These systems may be divided generally
into _two_ great classes, according as they relate to the _substance_ or
to the _evidence_ of Theism, to the _truths_ which it involves, or the
_proofs_ to which it appeals. The interval between the first and second
French Revolutions may be regarded as the season during which the
theories to which we refer were progressively developed, and ultimately
consolidated in their existing forms. The germ of each of them may have
existed before, and traces of them may be detected in the literature of
the ancient world, and even in the writings of mediæval times; nay, it
might not be too much to affirm that in the systems of Oriental
Superstition, and in the Schools of Grecian Skepticism, several of them
were more fully taught in early times than they have yet been in Modern
Europe, and that the recent attempts to reconstruct and reproduce them
in a shape adapted to the present stage of civilization, have been poor
and meagre in comparison with those more ancient efforts of
unenlightened reason. What modern system of Skepticism can rival that of
Sextus Empiricus? What code of Pantheism, French or German, can be said
to equal the mystic dreams of the Vedanta School? What godless theory of
Natural Law can compete with the Epicurean philosophy, as illustrated in
the poetry of Lucretius? The errors of these ancient systems have been
revived even amidst the light of the nineteenth century, and prevail to
an extent that may seem to justify the apprehension, frequently
expressed on the Continent of late years, of the restoration of a sort
of Semi-Paganism in Modern Europe; and it is still necessary, therefore,
for the defence of a pure Theism, to reëxamine those ancient forms of
error which have reäppeared on the scene after it might have been
supposed that they had vanished for ever. For the very tenacity with
which they cleave to the human mind, and their perpetual recurrence at
intervals along the whole course of the world's history, show that there
must be something in the wants, or at least in the weaknesses of our
nature, which induces men to tolerate and even to embrace them. But the
chief danger, as we conceive, lies in those new, or at least newly
organized, theories that have only recently received their full
development in the Inductive and Scientific pursuits which constitute
the peculiar glory of modern times; and which, commencing with the era
of Bacon and Descartes, and gradually matured by Newton, Leibnitz, and
their successors, have at length issued in the construction of a solid
fabric of Science. To Theism there is no danger in Science, in so far as
it is true, for all truth is self-consistent and harmonious; but there
may be much danger in the use that is made of it, or in the spirit in
which it is applied. In the hands of Bacon, and Newton, and Boyle, the
doctrine of Natural Laws was treated as an ally, not as an antagonist,
to Theology; in the hands of Comte it becomes a plea for Atheism; and
even in the hands of Combe an argument against a special Providence and
the efficacy of prayer. Here the danger is the greater just by reason of
the acknowledged truth and practical value of the Inductive Philosophy;
for its certainty is so well ascertained, and its manifold uses so
generally appreciated, that if it shall come to be regarded as
incompatible with the recognition of God and Religion, Society will soon
find itself on the verge of universal Atheism. And this is the fearful
issue to which the more recent schools of speculation are manifestly
tending. The first French Revolution was brought about by the labors of
men who fought against Christianity, at least ostensibly, under the
banner of Deism or Natural Religion; the second Revolution was
consummated under the auspices, not of a Deistic, but of an Atheistic
philosophy. The school of Voltaire and Rousseau has given place to the
school of Comte and Leroux. The difference between the two indicates a
rapid and alarming advance. It may not be apparent at first sight, or on
a superficial survey; but it will become evident to any one who compares
the two French Encyclopædias, which may be regarded as the exponents of
the reigning philosophy of the two great revolutionary eras. The first,
the Encyclopedie of D'Alembert, Voltaire, and Diderot, sought to malign
and extirpate Christianity, while it did frequent homage to Natural
Theology; the second, the "Nouvelle Encyclopedie" of Pierre Leroux and
his coadjutors, proclaims the deification of Humanity, and the
dethronement of God!


[1] BISHOP BUTLER, "Analogy," Preface, p. II.

DR. INGLIS, "Vindication of the Christian Faith," p. VI.




Before entering on a detailed discussion of the theories to which it
appeals, it may be useful to offer some general reflections on ATHEISM
itself, its generic nature and specific varieties, its causes and
springs, whether permanent or occasional, and its moral and social
influence, as illustrated alike by individual experience and by public

By Atheism we mean any system of opinion which leads men either to
_doubt_ or to _deny_ the Existence, Providence, and Government of a
living, personal, and holy God, as the Creator and Lord of the world. In
its practical aspect, it is that state of mind which leads them to
_forget_, _disown_, or _disobey_ Him.

We are met, however, at the outset, by a previous question, _Whether
Atheism be a real or even a possible thing?_ a question which was wont
to be discussed by divines under the head, _an dentur Athei?_[2] and
which has recently been revived by the strong protestations of some
philosophic writers, who deny not only the existence, but the very
possibility of Atheism. On this point the policy which infidels have
pursued has been widely different at different times. On some occasions,
they have sought to exaggerate the number of Atheists, claiming as their
own adherents or allies a large majority of the intellectual classes, as
well as whole tribes or nations of barbarians, in order to impress the
public mind with the conviction that belief in God is neither natural
nor universal; at other times, they have sought to allay the prejudice
which avowed Atheism seldom fails to awaken, by disclaiming much that
had been imputed to them, by professing a sort of mystic reverence for
the Spirit of Nature, and by denying that their speculations involve a
disbelief in God. In following these opposite courses at different
times, they have been actuated by a politic regard to the exigencies of
their wretched cause, and have alternately adopted the one or the other,
just as it might seem, in existing circumstances, to be more expedient
either to brave or to conciliate public opinion. It is incumbent,
therefore, on every enlightened advocate of Christian Theism to exercise
a prudent discretion in the treatment of this topic, and to guard
equally against the danger either of being led to exaggerate the extent,
or of being blinded to the existence of the evil. Nor is it difficult to
discover a safe middle path between the opposite extremes: it is only
necessary to define, in the first instance, what we mean when we speak
of Theism or Atheism respectively, and then to ascertain, in the second
place, whether any, and what, parties have avowed principles which
should fairly serve to connect them with the one system or with the
other. A clear conception of the radical principle or essential nature
of Atheism is indispensable; for without this, we shall be liable, on
the one hand, to the risk of imputing Atheism to many who are not justly
chargeable with it--a fault which should be most carefully avoided;[3]
and equally liable, on the other hand, to the danger of overlooking the
wide gulf which separates Religion from Irreligion, and Theism from
Atheism. There is much room for the exercise both of Christian candor
and of critical discrimination, in forming our estimate of the
characters of men from the opinions which they hold, when these
opinions relate not to the vital truths of religion, but to collateral
topics, more or less directly connected with them. It is eminently
necessary, in treating this subject, to discriminate aright between
systems which are essentially and avowedly atheistic, and those
particular opinions on cognate topics which have sometimes been applied
in support of Atheism, but which may, nevertheless, be held by some
_salvâ fide_, and without conscious, still less avowed, Infidelity. And
hence Buddæus and other divines have carefully distinguished between the
radical principles or grounds of Atheism, and those opinions which are
often, but not invariably, associated with it.[4]

But it is equally or still more dangerous, on the other hand, to admit a
mere nominal recognition of God as a sufficient disproof of Atheism,
without inquiring what conception is entertained of His nature and
perfections; whether He be conceived of as different from, or identical
with, Nature; as a living, personal, and intelligent Being, distinct
from the universe, or as the mere sum of existing things; as a free
Creator and Moral Governor, or as a blind Destiny and inexorable Fate.
These are vital questions, and they cannot be evaded without serious
detriment to the cause of religion. A few examples will suffice to prove
our assertion. M. Cousin contends that _Atheism is impossible_, and
assigns no other reason for his conviction than this,--that the
existence of God is necessarily implied in every affirmation, and may be
logically deduced from the premises on which that affirmation
depends.[5] His reasoning may possibly be quite conclusive _in point of
logic_, in so far as it is an attempt to show that the existence of God
_ought_ to be deduced from the consciousness of thought; but it cannot
be held conclusive as to _the matter of fact_, that there is no Atheism
in the world, unless it can be further shown that all men know and
acknowledge His existence as a truth involved in, and deducible from,
their conscious experience. Yet he does not hesitate to affirm that
"every thought implies a spontaneous faith in God;" nay, he advances
further, and adds that even when the sage "denies the existence of God,
still his words imply the idea of God, and that belief in God remains
unconsciously at the bottom of his heart." Surely the denial or the
doubt of God's existence amounts to Atheism, however inconsistent that
Atheism may be with the natural laws of thought, or the legitimate
exercise of speech.

Yet the bold paradox of COUSIN was neither an original discovery nor an
unprecedented delusion. It was taught, in a different form, but with
equal confidence, by several writers belonging to the era of the first
French Revolution. Thus HELVETIUS, in his work on MAN, says expressly:
"There is no man of understanding who does not acknowledge _an active
power in Nature; there is, therefore, no Atheist_. He is not an Atheist
who says that _motion is God_; because, in fact, motion is
incomprehensible, as we have no clear idea of it, since it does not
manifest itself but by its effects, and because by it all things are
performed in the universe. He is not an Atheist who says, on the
contrary, that _motion is not God_, because motion is not a being, but a
mode of being. They are not Atheists who maintain that motion is
essential to matter, and regard it as the invisible and moving force
that spreads itself through all its parts," "as the universal soul of
matter, and the divinity that alone penetrates its substance. Are the
philosophers of this last opinion Atheists? No; they equally acknowledge
an unknown force in the universe. Are even those who have no ideas of
God Atheists? No; because then all men would be so, because no one has a
clear idea of the Divinity."[6]

A more recent writer, the ABBÉ LAMENNAIS, is equally explicit, and very
much for the same reasons: "The Atheist himself has his own notion of
God, only he transfers it from the Creator to the creation; he ascribes
to finite, relative, and contingent being the properties of the
necessary Being; he confounds the work with the workman. Matter being,
according to him, eternal, is endowed with certain primitive,
unchangeable properties, which, having their own reason in themselves,
are themselves the reasons of all successive phenomena;" and "it matters
little whether he rejects the _name_ of God or not," or "whether he has,
or has not, an explicit knowledge of Him;" he cannot but acknowledge an
eternal First Cause.[7] And so a whole host of Pantheistic Spiritualists
will indignantly disclaim the imputation of Atheism, and even attempt to
vindicate Spinoza himself from the odious charge.[8] Nay, some of the
grossest Materialists, such as Atkinson and Martineau, while they
explicitly deny the existence of a living personal God, will affirm that
Pantheism is not Atheism.[9] Now, unquestionably, if by Theism we mean
nothing more than the recognition of an active power in nature,--such a
power as may or may not be identified with motion, and as may be
designated indifferently as the Divinity, or as the Soul of the
world,--the possibility of Atheism may be effectually excluded; but this
only serves to show the indispensable necessity of a correct definition
of the terms which are employed in this discussion, since it is
perfectly manifest that they are not used in the same sense by the
contending parties, and that consequently the disputants are not arguing
about the same thing. For Pantheism, whatever form it may assume, and
whatever language it may adopt, can be regarded in no other light than
as a system of Atheism, by all who have any definite conception of what
is meant when we either affirm or deny the existence and government of a
living, intelligent, personal God.

As Atheism has appeared in several distinct forms, it is necessary to
consider both its _generic nature_ and its _specific varieties_. It may
be defined, generally, as that state of mind which involves either _the
denial_ or _the doubt_ of the existence and government of God as an
all-perfect Being, distinct from the created universe; or which leads to
the habitual forgetfulness and wilful neglect of His claims as our
Creator, Preserver, and Lord. This state of mind, whether evinced by
words or by actions, contains in it the essence of Atheism, and it is
recognized in Scripture, in each of its two aspects, as an evil alike
natural and prevalent. The words of the Psalmist, "The fool hath said in
his heart, No God,"[10] whether they be interpreted as the expression of
an _opinion_ or of a _wish_, indicate in either case the existence of
that state of mind which has just been described, and which may issue
either in practical or speculative Atheism, according to the temperament
of individual minds, and the influences which are brought to bear upon
them. The same inspired writer has said,[11] that "The wicked through
the pride of his countenance will not seek after God; God is not in all
his thoughts;"--"He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten; He
hideth his face; He will never see it."--"Wherefore doth the wicked
contemn God? he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it;" And
these words exhibit a graphic delineation, of that state of mind in
which occasional thoughts of God are neutralized by habitual unbelief,
and the warnings of conscience silenced by the denial of a supreme moral
government. In like manner, when the apostle tells the Ephesian converts
that at one time "they were _without God_ in the world,"[12] and the
Galatians, that "when they knew not God, they did service unto them
which by nature are no gods;" when he further speaks of some as "lovers
of pleasures more than lovers of God," as "having a form of godliness,
but denying the power thereof," as "professing that they know God, but
_in works denying Him_;"[13]--in all these statements we see the generic
nature of that ungodliness which cleaves as an inveterate disease to our
fallen nature, and which, whether it appears only in the form of
practical unbelief and habitual forgetfulness, or assumes the more
daring aspect of avowed infidelity, contains in it the essence of

While such is its _generic nature_, we must further discriminate between
its specific varieties; for it does not always wear the same aspect, or
rest on the same grounds. It may be divided, first of all, into
_speculative_ and _practical_ Atheism: the former implying a denial, or
a doubt of the existence and government of God, either openly avowed or
secretly cherished; while the latter is perfectly compatible with a
nominal religious profession, and consists in the habitual forgetfulness
of God and of the duties which arise out of His relation to us as His
creatures and subjects. Speculative Atheism is comparatively rare;
Practical Atheism is widely prevalent, and may be justly regarded as the
grand parent sin, the universal characteristic of fallen humanity.[14]
It is not Atheism in profession, it is Atheism in practice. Those who
are chargeable with it may "profess that they _know_ God, but in works
they _deny_ Him." As distinguished from theoretical or speculative
Atheism, it is fitly termed _ungodliness_. It does not necessarily imply
either the denial or the doubt of the existence or government of God,
but consists mainly in the forgetfulness of His character and claims.
Speculative Atheism always implies habitual ungodliness; but the latter
may exist where the former has never been embraced, and has even been
openly and sincerely disclaimed. Yet such is the _connection_ between
the two, that Speculative Atheism invariably presupposes and perpetuates
practical ungodliness; and that the latter has also a tendency to
produce the former, since the habitual disregard of God in the practical
conduct of life indicates a state of mind in which men are peculiarly
exposed to the seductions of infidelity and prone to yield to them,
especially in seasons of revolutionary excitement or of prevailing
epidemic unbelief. It would be wrong to rank every ungodly man among
professed or even conscious Atheists, for he may never have denied or
even doubted the existence and government of God; yet it were equally
wrong to represent or treat him as a true believer, since he shows that,
practically, "God is not in all his thoughts;" and hence the necessity
of our _first_ distinction between [Transcriber's note: Original had
"beetween"] _theoretical_ or _speculative_, and _practical_ or
_habitual_ Atheism.

Speculative Atheism, again, is either _dogmatic_ or _skeptical_. It is
_dogmatic_, when it amounts to an affirmation, either that there is no
God, or that the question of his existence is necessarily insoluble by
the human faculties. Atheism has been distinguished from Anti-theism;
and the former has been supposed to imply merely the non-recognition of
God, while the latter asserts His non-existence. This distinction is
founded on the difference between _unbelief_ and _disbelief_;[15] and
its validity is admitted in so far as it discriminates merely between
dogmatic and skeptical Atheism. But Anti-theism is maintained, in the
strictest sense of the term, where it is affirmed either that there is
no God, or that the existence of the Supreme Being _cannot_ in any
circumstances become an object of human knowledge. In each of these
forms, Atheism is dogmatic; it denies the existence of God, or it denies
the possibility of His being known. But there is also a _skeptical_
Atheism, which does not affirm absolutely either that there is no God,
or that the knowledge of God is necessarily excluded by the limitations of
human reason, but contents itself with saying, "_non-liquet_,"--_i.e._,
with denying the sufficiency of the evidence. It answers every appeal to
that evidence by saying that, however satisfactory it may be to the minds
of some, it does not carry conviction to the minds of all, and that for
this reason it may be justly regarded as doubtful or inconclusive. These
two forms of Atheism--the Dogmatic and the Skeptical--are widely different
from each other; they rest on distinct grounds, and they require, therefore,
to be discussed separately, each on its own peculiar and independent merits.
The Dogmatic Atheist feels no force in the arguments which are directed
merely against his skeptical ally; for, strong in his own position and
confident in his ability to maintain it, he is conscious of no
speculative doubt, and affirms boldly what he unhesitatingly believes.
The Skeptical Atheist, again, feels no force in the arguments which are
directed against a Dogmatic System such as he utterly disclaims; he is
equally unwilling to affirm either that there is, or that there is not,
a God: he takes refuge in doubt, and refuses alike to affirm or to deny;
his only plea is, the want or the weakness of evidence on either side.
From this radical difference between the two forms of Speculative
Atheism, there arises a necessity for discussing each of them on its own
merits; and yet, although theoretically they may be easily
distinguished, it will be found that practically they are often
conjoined, since the same mind will often fluctuate between the two, and
shift its ground by betaking itself alternately to the one or the
other, according to the exigencies of the argument. Assail the Dogmatic
Atheist with the unanswerable statement of John Foster, that it would
require nothing less than Omniscience to warrant the denial of a God,
and he will probably defer to it so far as to admit that he cannot prove
his negative conclusion, but will add that he is not bound to do so, and
that all that can be reasonably required of him is to show that the
evidence adduced on the opposite side is insufficient to establish the
Divine existence, or that the phenomena which supply that evidence may
be as well, or more satisfactorily, explained in some other way. Assail,
in like manner, the Skeptical Atheist with the self-evident truth that,
even on his own principles, he is not entitled to assume or to act upon
the assumption, that _there is no God_, since the result of his
reasonings is _doubt_ merely, and such doubt as implies that there _may
be_ a Creator, Governor, and Judge, he will probably defer to it so far
as to admit that this is the only logical result of his system, but will
add that, where there is no conclusive evidence on either side, there
can be no moral obligation to a religious life, and no guilt in living
"without God in the world." It will be found, too, that, distinct as
these two forms of Speculative Atheism may appear to be, yet they have
often been made to rest on a common ground, and the self-same arguments
have been adduced in support of both. Thus the doctrine of Materialism,
the theory of Development, and the system of Natural Laws, have all been
applied by the Dogmatic Atheist to justify his denial of the existence
and government of God, on the ground that all the phenomena of Nature
may be accounted for without the supposition of a Supreme Mind; while
the very same doctrines or theories have been also applied by the
Skeptical Atheist to justify, not his _denial_, but his _doubt_, and to
vindicate his verdict of "_non-liquet_" on the evidence adduced. And as
the same arguments are often employed by both parties in support of
their respective views, so they make use, for the most part, of the
same objections in assailing the cause of Theism; insomuch that it would
be impossible, and even were it possible it would be superfluous, to
attempt a formal refutation of either, without discussing those more
general principles which are applicable to both. For this reason, we
propose to examine in the sequel the various theories which have been
applied in support alike of Dogmatic and of Skeptical Atheism, so as to
illustrate the grounds that are common to both, while we consider also
the distinctive peculiarities of the two systems, and more particularly
the grounds of Religious Skepticism.

Besides the radical distinction between Dogmatic and Skeptical Atheism,
we must consider the difference between _the four great leading systems_
which have been applied to account for the existing order of Nature,
without the recognition of a living, intelligent, personal God. There
are many specific varieties of Atheism; but, ultimately, they may be
reduced to _four_ classes. The _first_ system assumes and asserts the
eternal existence of THE COSMOS; that is, of the present order of
Nature, with all its laws and processes, its tribes and races, whether
of vegetable or animal life; and affirms that the world, as now
constituted, never had a beginning, and that it will never have an end.
This has been called the Aristotelian Hypothesis, because Aristotle,
while he spoke of a Supreme Mind or Reason, maintained not only the
eternity of matter, but also the eternity of "substantial forms and

The _second_ system affirms, not the eternal existence of THE
COSMOS,--for the commencement of the existing order of Nature is
admitted to be comparatively recent,--but the eternal existence of
Matter and Motion; and attempts to account for the origin of the world
and of the races by which it is peopled, either by ascribing it, with
Epicurus, to a fortuitous concourse of atoms, or, with more modern
Speculatists, to a law of progressive development. This has been called
the Epicurean Hypothesis, because Epicurus, while nominally admitting
the existence of God, denied the creation of the world, and ascribed its
origin to atoms supposed to have been endued with motion or certain
inherent properties and powers, and to have been self-existent and

The _third_ system affirms the coëxistence and coëternity of God and the
World; and, while it admits a distinction between the two, represents
them as so closely and necessarily conjoined, that God can be regarded
only as the Soul of the World,--superior to matter, as soul is to body,
but neither anterior to it, nor independent of it, and subject, as
matter itself is, to the laws of necessity and fate. This has been
called the Stoical System; since the Stoics, notwithstanding all their
sublime moral speculations and their frequent recognition of God, taught
that God sustains the same relation to the World as the soul of man does
to his body.

The _fourth_ system denies the distinction between God and the World,
and affirms that all is God, and God is all; that there exists only _one
substance_ in the Universe, of which all existing beings are only so
many modes or manifestations; that these beings proceed from that _one_
substance, not by creation, but by emanation; that when they disappear,
they are not destroyed, but reäbsorbed; and that thus, through endless
cycles of change, of reproduction and decay, it is one and the same
eternal being that is continually modified and manifested. This has been
called the Pantheistic Hypothesis, and it is exemplified, on a large
scale, in the speculations of the Brahmins in India, and, in Europe, in
those of Spinoza and his numerous followers.

If this be a correct analysis of Speculative Atheism, in so far as it
assumes a positive or dogmatic shape, we have only to conjoin with it
the peculiar characteristics of that which is merely Skeptical, and we
shall obtain a comprehensive view of the whole subject, which may serve
as a useful guide in the selection and treatment of the topics which
demand our chief attention in the prosecution of this inquiry.

It is necessary, however, in discussing this subject, to bear in mind
that there is a wide difference between Systems of Atheism, such as we
have briefly described, and certain doctrines which have sometimes been
associated with it, or even applied in its support or vindication. These
doctrines may have been connected, historically, with the promulgation
and defence of atheistic views; they may even seem to have a tendency
adverse to the evidence or truths of Christian Theism; but they must not
on that account be summarily characterized as atheistic, nor must those
who have at any time maintained them be forthwith classed among avowed
infidels.[16] The doctrine of Philosophical Necessity, which in the
hands of Jonathan Edwards was applied, whether consistently or
otherwise, in illustration and defence of Christian truth, became in the
hands of Collins and Godwin an associate and ally of anti-Christian
error; the doctrine of the natural Mortality of the Soul, which in the
hands of Dodwell was applied, whether consistently or otherwise, to
vindicate the peculiar privileges of the Christian Covenant, has often
been applied by infidels as a weapon of assault against the fundamental
articles of Natural Religion itself; the doctrine of Materialism, which
in the hands of Priestly was maintained, whether consistently or
otherwise, in connection with an avowed belief in God as the Creator and
Governor of the world, became in the hands of Baron D'Holbach and his
associates the corner-stone of the atheistic "System of Nature;" the
doctrine of "Natural Laws," which in the hands of Bishop Butler is so
powerfully applied in proof of a system of Divine Government, has become
in the hands of Mr. Combe a plausible pretext for denying a special
Providence and the efficacy of prayer; and the mere fact that these
doctrines have been applied to such different and even opposite uses, is
a sufficient proof of itself that they are not in their own nature
essentially atheistic, and that they should be carefully discriminated
from the systems with which they have been occasionally associated. We
are not entitled to identify them with Atheism, in the case of those by
whom Atheism is explicitly disclaimed; and yet there may be such an
apparent connection between the two, and such a tendency in the human
mind to pass from the one to the other, as may afford a sufficient
reason for examining these cognate doctrines, each on its proper merits,
for defining the sense in which they should be severally understood, for
estimating the evidence which may be adduced for or against them
individually, and for showing in what way, and to what extent, they may
have a legitimate bearing on the grounds of our Theistic belief. For
this reason, we shall bring under review, not only several systems of
avowed Atheism, but also various theories, not necessarily atheistic,
which have been applied to the support and defence of Atheism, and which
have a tendency, as thus applied, to induce an irreligious frame of

The _causes and springs of Atheism_ may easily be distinguished from
_the reasons_ on which it is founded. In the present state of human
nature, there is _a permanent cause_ which is abundantly sufficient to
account for this species of unbelief, notwithstanding all the evidence
which Nature affords of the being, perfections, and providence of God.
Our Lord explained in a single sentence the whole Philosophy of
Unbelief, when he said that "men loved the darkness rather than the
light, because their deeds are evil; for whoso doeth evil hateth the
light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."
No thoughtful man can seriously reflect on his own conscious experience,
without discovering, in the disordered state of his moral nature, a
reason which sufficiently explains his natural aversion from God; he
finds _there_ an evidence, which he can neither overlook nor deny, of
his own personal turpitude and guilt; he is self-convinced and
self-condemned at the bar of his own conscience; he remembers with
remorse and shame many cases of actual transgression in which he
resisted the dictates of reason, and resigned himself to the dominion of
evil passions; and when, with these convictions and feelings, he is
asked to conceive of God as a living, personal Being, everywhere
present, beholding the evil and the good, whose "eyes are as a flame of
fire," and can discern "the very thoughts and intents of the heart;"
when he conceives of such a Being as his Lawgiver, Governor, and Judge,
as one who demands the homage of the heart and the obedience of the
life, and who has power to enforce His rightful claims by the sanctions
of reward and punishment, he will be sensible, in the first instance, of
an instinctive disposition to recoil from the contemplation of his
character, and a strong desire to deny, or at least to forget, His
claims; and just in proportion as the idea of God becomes more vivid, or
is more frequently presented to his mind, it will become the more
intolerable, insomuch that he will be tempted either to banish the
subject altogether from his thoughts, or, if he cannot succeed in this,
to alter and modify his view of the Divine character so as to bring it
into accordance with his own wishes, and to obtain some relief from the
fears and forebodings which it would otherwise awaken in his mind. If he
should succeed in this attempt, he will fall into one or other of two
opposite states of mind, which, however apparently different, do
nevertheless spring from the same latent source,--a state _of security_,
or a state of _servitude_. In the former, he either forgets God
altogether,--"God is not in all his thoughts;" or he conceives of Him as
"one like unto himself," indulgent to sin, and neither strict to mark
nor just to punish it: in the latter, he either "remembers God and is
troubled," or, if he would allay the remorse and forebodings of an
uneasy conscience, he has recourse to penance and mortification, to
painful sacrifices and ritual observances, in the hope, that by these he
may propitiate an offended Deity. In the one case, the conflict ends in
practical Atheism, in the other, in abject Superstition. And these two,
Atheism and Superstition, however different and even opposite they may
seem to be, are really offshoots from the same corrupt root,--"the evil
heart of unbelief which departeth from the living God." In the case of
the great majority of mankind, who are little addicted to speculative
inquiry, or to serious thought of any kind, it may be safely affirmed
that, in the absence of Revelation, they will inevitably fall into one
or other of these two extremes, or rather, that they will oscillate
alternately between the two,--in seasons of ease and prosperity living
"without God in the world," and in seasons of distress or danger
betaking themselves for relief to the rites of a superstitious worship.
The apostle describes at once the secret cause and the successive steps
of this sad degeneracy, when, speaking of the Gentiles, he says that
"when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were
thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart
was darkened; professing themselves wise, they became fools, and changed
the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to
corruptible man."--"And even as they did not like to retain God in their
knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind."[17] The secret cause
of all these evils was a latent "enmity against God,"--"they did not
_like_ to retain God in their knowledge." From this proceeded, in the
first instance, a _practical habit_ of Atheism,--"they glorified him not
as God, neither were thankful;" and from hence proceeded, in the second
instance, the gross superstition of _Polytheistic belief and
worship_,--"they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an
image made like to corruptible man,"--"they changed the truth of God
into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the
Creator, who is blessed forever."

But, while practical Atheism and blind Superstition are the two extremes
which divide among them the great majority of mankind, there have always
been some more thoughtful and inquiring spirits, who have sought to
penetrate the mysteries of their being, and to account for the present
order of things. They have asked, and have attempted to answer, such
questions as these: What are we? what was our origin? what is our
destination? Whence came this stupendous fabric of Nature? Is it
self-existent and eternal? or did it come into being at some definite
time? If not eternal, how was it produced? by chance or by design? by
inevitable fate or by spontaneous will? Whence the order which pervades
it, and the beauty by which it is adorned? Whence, above all, the evil,
moral and physical, by which it is disfigured and cursed? And, in reply
to these thoughtful questionings, various theories have been invented to
account for the existing order of things, while not a few of the most
daring thinkers have abandoned the subject in despair, and, holding it
to be an insoluble problem, have resigned themselves to the cheerless
gloom of Skepticism. In reviewing all these speculations and theories,
we must bear in mind that their authors and advocates, although more
thoughtful and inquisitive than the great majority of mankind, were
equally subject to the same corrupting influence,--"the evil heart of
unbelief,"--and that the same cause which produced practical Atheism in
some, and abject Superstition in others, may also have operated, but
more insidiously, in producing Speculative Infidelity in the minds of
those who are more addicted to abstruse philosophical inquiries. We must
seek to get down to the root of the evil, if we would suggest or apply
an effectual remedy; we must not deal with the symptoms merely, but
search for and probe the seat of the disease; and if that be the
disordered state of our moral nature, which gives rise to fears and
forebodings as often as we think of God, no remedy will be effectual
which does not remove our distrust, suspicion, and jealousy; and no
argument, however conclusive, will have any practical power which does
not present such views of God as to make him an object of confidence,
and trust, and love. It is of vast importance that this fundamental
truth should be kept steadily in view; for, as the disordered state of
our moral nature is the rudimental source both of practical Atheism and
of popular Superstition, so it is also the prolific parent of
Speculative Infidelity in every variety of form: and as long as the
remedy is not applied to the root of the disease, the Atheist, if forced
to relinquish one theory, will only betake himself to another, and after
having gone the round of them all, will rather throw himself into the
vortex of utter and hopeless skepticism, than acknowledge a God whom he
cannot love, a Judge whom he cannot but dread. Christianity alone can
supply an effectual remedy, and it is such a remedy as is fitted to cure
alike the habitual ungodliness, the abject superstition, and the
speculative infidelity, which have all sprung from the same prolific
source. It exhibits such a view of the character and will of God as may
relieve us from the fears and forebodings of guilt, and, by revealing a
divine method of reconciliation, may place us in a position the most
favorable for a calm and dispassionate consideration of the natural
evidence in favor of His Being, Perfections, and Moral Government.

But, while the grand parent cause of all Atheism--whether practical or
speculative, dogmatic or skeptical--is to be found in the disordered
state of our own moral nature, there are other subordinate causes in
operation, which may be regarded either as _incidental occasions_, or as
_plausible pretexts_, for this form of unbelief. The internal causes are
the primary and most powerful; but there are external influences which
coöperate with these, and serve to stimulate and strengthen them. Among
the incidental occasions of Atheism, we might mention a defective,
because irreligious, education in early life, the influence of ungodly
example and profane converse, and the authority of a few great names in
literature or science which have become associated with the cause of
Infidelity; and among the plausible pretexts for Atheism we might
mention the inconsistencies of professed believers and especially of the
clergy, the divided state of the religious world, as indicated by the
multiplicity of sects, the bitterness of religious controversy, the
supposed opposition of the Church to the progress of science and the
extension of civil and religious liberty, and the gross superstitions
which have been incorporated with Christianity itself in some of the
oldest and most powerful states of Europe. These and similar topics may
be justly said to be the "loci communes of Atheism," and they are often
employed in eloquent declamation or indignant invective, so as to make a
much deeper impression, especially on young and ardent minds, than their
intrinsic weight or real argumentative value can either justify or
explain. Infidel writers have not been slow to avail themselves of these
pretexts for unbelief, in regard alike to Natural and Revealed Religion;
and have artfully identified Religion with Superstition, and
Christianity with Popery, as if there were no consistent or tenable
medium between the two. And, perhaps, of all the incidental occasions or
external inducements to Atheism, none has exerted so much influence over
reflecting minds as the wide-spread prevalence of Superstition; for
never was Atheism more general among the cultivated classes in ancient
times than in the States of Greece, whose hospitable Pantheon enclosed
the gods of all nations, and whose inhabitants were "exceedingly given
to idolatry;" and nowhere, in modern times, has Atheism been more
explicitly avowed or more zealously propagated than in those countries
of Europe which are most thoroughly subjugated to the superstitions of
the Papacy. In the graphic words of Robert Hall, "Infidelity was bred in
the stagnant marshes of corrupted Christianity."[18]

Having described the nature, evinced the reality, and referred to the
permanent and occasional causes of Atheism, we may briefly advert to
_its moral and social influence_. On this point three distinct questions
have been raised: _First_, whether Atheism be conducive to personal
happiness? _Secondly_, whether it be compatible with pure morality and
virtue? and, _thirdly_, whether it be consistent with social well-being,
with the authority of the laws, and the safety or comfort of the
community? In considering these questions, it is necessary to remember
that in no age, and in no region of the world, has Speculative Atheism
been universal, or even so prevalent as to exhibit on a large scale a
full development of its legitimate results. It has always been in a
minority, and has been continually checked, modified and controlled, by
the prevailing beliefs of society; and, whether these beliefs were
purely religious or grossly superstitious, they have exerted a powerful
influence in counteracting the native tendencies of atheistic
speculation. "The effects of Atheism," as Mr. Estlin justly observes,
"we have not yet in any great degree experienced, as the mental habits
of those who hold it in speculation were in general formed, before they
had adopted their present principles, by the imperceptible influence of
that religion which they now traduce."[19] Perhaps the nearest approach
to a state of prevailing Atheism which has ever been exhibited in the
history of the world, is to be found in France at the era of the first
Revolution, when Christianity was publicly abjured, and the goddess of
Reason substituted for the God of the Bible. But that even this fearful
outburst of impiety did not proceed from the universal prevalence of
Speculative Atheism among the great body of the people; that there still
existed in the heart of society some germs of religious feeling, and
certain instinctive or traditionary beliefs which operated as a
restraint and check even during that season of revolutionary frenzy, is
sufficiently evinced by the reaction which speedily occurred in the
public mind, and which restored Catholicism itself, as if by magic, to
its wonted supremacy; while the anti-social tendency of Atheism, in so
far as it did prevail, was strikingly attested by the fact, that the
leading actors in that fearful drama found themselves compelled to
provide for the public safety by restoring at least the forms of
religious worship, and to acknowledge that "if there were no God, it
would be necessary to invent one."--"The true light," says the eloquent
Robert Hall, "in which the French Revolution ought to be contemplated is
that of a grand experiment on human nature." "God permitted the trial to
be made. In one country, and that the centre of Christendom, Revelation
underwent a total eclipse, while Atheism, performing on a darkened
theatre its strange and fearful tragedy, confounded the first elements
of society, blended every age, rank, and sex, in indiscriminate
proscription and massacre, and convulsed all Europe to its centre, that
the imperishable memorial of these events might teach the last
generations of mankind to consider Religion as the pillar of society,
the safeguard of nations, the parent of social order, which alone has
power to curb the fury of the passions, and secure to every one his
rights; to the laborious the reward of their industry, to the rich the
enjoyment of their wealth, to nobles the preservation of their honors,
and to princes the stability of their thrones."[20]

In the case of individuals holding atheistic opinions, but living in the
midst of Christian society, the full influence of these opinions cannot
be felt, nor their effects fully developed, in the presence of those
restraints and checks which are imposed by the religious beliefs and
observances of others. We cannot estimate their influence either on the
personal happiness, or the moral character, or the social welfare of
men, without taking this circumstance into account. To arrive at even a
tolerable approximation to a correct judgment, we must endeavor to
conceive of Atheism as prevailing universally in the community, as
emancipated from all restraint, and free to develop itself without let
or hindrance of any kind, as tolerated by law, and sanctioned by public
opinion, and unopposed by any remaining forms either of domestic piety
or of public worship, as reigning supreme in every heart, and as forming
the creed of every household; and thus conceiving of it as an
inveterate, universal epidemic, we are then to inquire whether, and on
what conditions, society would in such a case be possible, and how far
the prevalence of Atheism might be expected to affect the morals and
welfare of mankind.

The question has been raised whether Atheism might not be more conducive
than religion to _the personal happiness of individuals_; and some, who
have confounded Religion with Superstition, have not hesitated to answer
that question in the affirmative. The conviction that there is no God,
and no moral government, and no state of future retribution, could it
only be steadfastly and invariably maintained, might serve, it has been
thought, to relieve the mind of many forebodings and fears which disturb
its peace, and, if it could not ensure perfect happiness, might act at
least as an opiate or sedative to a restless and uneasy conscience. In
the opinion of Epicurus and Lucretius, tranquillity of mind was the
grand practical benefit of that unbelief which they sought to inculcate
respecting the doctrine of Providence and Immortality. They frequently
affirmed that _fear_ generated superstition, and that superstition, in
its turn, deepened and perpetuated the fear from which it sprung; that
the minds of men must necessarily be overcast with anxiety and gloom as
long as they continued to believe in a moral government and a future
state; and that the only sovereign and effectual antidote to
superstitious terror is the spirit of philosophical unbelief. Similar
views are perpetually repeated in the eloquent but declamatory pages of
"The System of Nature." But the remedy proposed seems to be subject to
grave suspicion, as one that may be utterly powerless, or at the best,
exceedingly precarious; for, first of all, the fears which are supposed
to have generated Religion must have been anterior to it, and must have
arisen from some natural cause, which will continue to operate even
after Religion has been disowned. They spring, in fact, necessarily out
of our present condition as dependent, responsible, and dying creatures;
and they can neither be prevented nor cured by the mere negations of
Atheism; we can only be raised above their depressing influence by a
rational belief and well-grounded trust in the being and character of
God. Again, if the denial of a Providence and of a future state might
serve, were it associated with a full assurance of certainty, to relieve
us from _the fear_ of retribution hereafter, it must equally destroy
_all hope_ of immortality, and reduce us to the dreary prospect of
annihilation at death,--a prospect from which the soul of man
instinctively recoils, and by which his whole life would be embittered
just in proportion as he became more thoughtful and reflective. Unbelief
can operate as a sedative to fear only in so far as it is habitual,
uniform, undisturbed by any inward misgivings or apparent uncertainty;
but, in the case of men not utterly thoughtless or insensible, it is
rarely, if ever, found to possess this character. It is often shaken,
and always liable to be disquieted, by occasional convictions, which no
amount of vigilance can ward off, and no strength of resolution repress.
It is maintained only by a painful and sustained conflict, which is but
ill-concealed by the vehemence of its protestations, and often
significantly indicated by the very extravagance of its zeal. Add to
this, that Atheism itself affords no guarantee against future suffering.
It may deny a Providence here and a judgment hereafter, it may even deny
a future state of conscious existence, and take refuge in the hope of
annihilation that it may escape from the dread prospect of retribution;
but it cannot affirm the _impossibility_, it can only doubt the
_certainty_ of these things; and in their bare possibility there is
enough at once to impose an obligation to serious inquiry, and to
occasion the deepest anxiety, especially in seasons of affliction or
danger, which awaken reflective thought. "_Atheism_," said the acute but
skeptical Bayle, "_does not shelter us from the fear of eternal
suffering_." But, even if it did, what influence would it exert on our
present happiness? Would it not limit our enjoyments, by confining our
views within the narrow range of things seen and temporal? Would it not
deprive us of the loftiest hopes? Would it not repress our highest
aspirations, by interdicting the contemplation of the noblest Object of
thought, the Ideal Standard of truth and excellence, the Moral Glory of
the Universe? Would it not diminish the pleasure which we derive even
from earthly objects, and aggravate the bitterness of every trial? How
wretched must be the condition of those who are "proud of being the
offspring of chance, in love with universal disorder, whose happiness is
involved in the belief of there being no witness to their designs, and
who are at ease only because they suppose themselves _inhabitants of a
forsaken and fatherless world_!"[21] "No one in creation," said Jean
Paul, "is so alone as the denier of God: he mourns, with an orphaned
heart that has lost its great Father, by the corpse of Nature which no
World-Spirit moves and holds together, and which grows in its grave; and
he mourns by that corpse till he himself crumble off from it. The whole
world lies before him, like the Egyptian Sphynx of stone, half-buried in
the sand; and the All is the cold iron mask of a formless Eternity."[22]

But the malign influence of Atheism on personal happiness will become
more apparent, if we consider its tendency to affect the _moral springs
of action_, on which happiness mainly depends. The question whether
Atheism be compatible with moral virtue, or whether an Atheist may be a
virtuous man, is one of those that can only be answered by
discriminating aright between the different senses of the same term. In
the Christian sense of virtue, which comprehends the duties of both
tables of the Law, and includes the love of God as well as of man, it is
clear that the Atheist cannot be reputed virtuous, since he wants that
which is declared to be the radical principle of obedience, the very
spirit and substance of true morality. But, in the worldly sense of the
term, as denoting the decent observance of _relative_ duty, it is
possible that he may be so far influenced by considerations of prudence
or policy, or even by certain natural instincts and affections, as to be
just in his dealings, faithful to his word, courteous in his manners,
and obedient to the laws. But this secular, prudential morality, is as
precarious in its practical influence as it is defective in its radical
principle. Atheism saps and undermines the very foundation of Ethics.
The only law which it can recognize (if that can be called a law in any
sense which is not conceived of as the expression of a Supreme Will) is,
either the greatest happiness of the individual, or the greatest
happiness of the greatest number; but, whether it assumes the form of
_Felicitarian_ or of _Utilitarian_ calculation, it degenerates into a
process of arithmetic, and is no longer a code of morals. The
fundamental idea of DUTY is awanting, and can only be supplied from a
source which the Atheist ignores. By denying the existence of God, he
robs the universe of its highest glory, obliterates the idea of perfect
wisdom and goodness, and leaves nothing better and holier as an object
of thought than the qualities and relations of earthly things. He
degrades human nature, by doing what he can to sever the tie which binds
man to his Maker, and which connects the earth with Heaven. He
circumscribes his prospects within the narrow range of "things seen and
temporal," and thus removes every stimulus to dignity of sentiment, and
every incentive to elevation of character. His wretched creed (if a
series of cold negations may be called a creed) must be fatal to every
disinterested and heroic virtue; let it prevail, and the spirit of
self-sacrifice will give place to Epicurean indulgence, and the age of
martyrdom will return no more. Substitute Nature, or even Humanity, for
God, and the eternal standard of truth and holiness and goodness being
superseded, every moral sentiment will be blighted and obscured.
Conscience has a relation to God similar to that which a chronometer
bears to the sun. Blot the sun from the sky, and the chronometer is
useless; deny God, and conscience is powerless. And the vices which, if
not subdued, were yet curbed and restrained by the overawing sense of an
unseen omnipresent Power, will burst forth with devastating fury,
snapping asunder the feebler fetters of human law, and overleaping the
barriers of selfish prudence itself; vanity and pride, ambition and
covetousness, sensual indulgence and ferocious cruelty, will rise into
the ascendancy, and establish their dark throne on the ruins of

If such be the natural and legitimate effect of Atheism on the personal
happiness and moral character of individuals, we can be at no loss to
discover what must be its influence on society at large. For society is
composed of individuals, and its character and welfare depend on the
aggregate sentiments of its constituent members. The question whether
Atheism might not be consistent with social well-being, with the
continued authority of the laws, and the general comfort of the
community, is answered historically by the fact, that in modern France
the Reign of Atheism was the Reign of Terror, and that in ancient Rome
its prevalence was followed by such scenes of proscription,
confiscation, and blood, as were then unparalleled in the history of the
world. The truth is that, wherever Atheism prevails, GOVERNMENT BY LAW
must give place to GOVERNMENT BY FORCE; for law needs some auxiliary
sanction; and if it be deprived of the sanction of Religion, it must
have recourse, for its own preservation, and the prevention of utter
anarchy, to the brute power of the temporal sword. It is worse than
useless to discuss, in this connection, the question, revived by
Bayle,[23] whether Atheism or Superstition should be regarded as the
worst enemy to the Commonwealth, for it has no relevancy to our present
inquiry; we are not contending for either, we are objecting to both; and
we are under no necessity of choosing the least of two evils, when we
have the option of "pure and undefined Religion." But we may observe, in
passing, that, historically it has been found possible to keep society
together, and to maintain the authority of law with a greater or less
measure of civil liberty, where Superstition has been generally
prevalent; whereas there is no instance on record of anything
approaching to national Atheism, in which government by law was not
speedily superseded by anarchy and despotism. And the reason of this
difference may be that in every system of Superstition, whether it be a
corruption of Natural or of Revealed Religion, "some faint embers of
sacred truth remain unextinguished," some convictions which still
connect man with the spiritual and the eternal, and which are
sufficient, if not to enlighten and pacify the conscience, yet to keep
alive a sense of responsibility and a fear of retribution; "certain
sparks," as Hooker calls them, "of the light of truth intermingled with
the darkness of error," which may have served a good purpose in
maintaining civil virtue and social order, although these would have
been far better secured by the prevalence of a purer faith.

There are some circumstances, of a novel and unprecedented nature, which
impart a solemn interest to our present inquiry. At the beginning of the
present century, Robert Hall, referring to the unbelief which preceded
and accompanied the first outburst of the Revolution in France,
mentioned _three_ circumstances which appeared to him to be "equally new
and alarming." He regarded it as the first attempt which had ever been
witnessed on an extensive scale to establish the principles of Atheism,
as the first attempt to popularize these principles by means of a
literature addressed and adapted to the common people, and as the first
systematic attempt to undermine the foundations, and to innovate on the
very substance of Morals.[24] But if we compare the first with the new
Encyclopedie,--the former concocted by Voltaire, D'Alembert and Diderot,
the latter by Pierre Leroux and his associates,--we shall find that
Infidelity has assumed greater hardihood, and has appeared under less
restraint in recent than in former times; while the speculations of
Comte and Crousse are as thoroughly atheistic as those of D'Holbach
himself. For, however irreligious and profane Voltaire and his
associates might be, and however devoted to their avowed object of
crushing Christ and his cause, so significantly indicated by their motto
and watchword, "Ecrasez l'Infame;"[25] yet they continued, as a party,
to advocate Deism, and seemed at least to oppose the bolder speculations
of the author of the "Systeme de la Nature." Both Voltaire and
Frederick the Great wrote in reply to its atheistic tenets.[26] But now,
in France, these tenets are openly avowed and zealously propagated. Nor
is this fatal moral epidemic confined to our continental neighbors:
there is too much reason to fear that it has infected, to some extent,
the artisans of our own manufacturing towns, and even, in some quarters,
the inhabitants of our rural districts. The Communists of France have
their analogues in the Socialists of Britain; and the periodical press,
although for the most part sound, or at least innocuous, has lent its
aid to the dissemination of the grossest infidelity which the Continent
has produced. The "Leader" gives forth Lewes's version of Comte's
Philosophy; and the "Glasgow Mechanics' Journal," a digest of his Law of
Human Progress, which is essentially atheistic.[27] Nor is indigenous
Atheism wanting. Mr. Mackay in his "Progress of the Intellect," Atkinson
and Martineau in their "Letters on the Laws of Man's Nature and
Development," and Mr. G. Holyoake in "The Reasoner," have sufficiently
proved that if Atheism be an exotic, it is capable of taking root and
growing up in the land of Bacon, Newton, and Boyle.


[2] BUDDÆI, "Theses Theologicæ de Atheismo et Superstitione," cap. I.

[3] J. C. WOLFIUS, "De Atheismi falso Suspectis."

[4] BUDDÆI, "Theses Theologicæ," cap. III., "De dogmatibus quæ cum
Atheismo conjuncta sunt, aut ad eum ducunt," p. 240.

[5] COUSIN, "Introduction Generale a l'Histoire de la Philosophie," I.
169:--"Que toute pensée implique une foi spontanée à Dieu, et qu'il n'y
a pas d'Atheisme naturel. Croit-il qu'il existe, par exemple? S'il croit
çela, çela me suffit,"--"il a donc foi au principe de la pensée;--or la
est Dieu,"--"Selon moi, toute parole prononcée avec confiance, n'est pas
moins qu'une profession de la foi a la pensée,--a la raison en
soi,--c'est a dire a Dieu."

[6] M. HELVETIUS, "Treatise on Man, his Intellectual Faculties and
Education: translated by W. Hooper, M. D.," I. 247.

[7] M. LAMENNAIS, "Esquisse d'une Philosophie," I. 95.

[8] "Spinoza is a God-intoxicated man."--NOVALIS, quoted in T. Carlyle's
Essays, II. 43.

[9] "Letters on the Laws of Man's Nature and Development, by H. G.

[10] Psalm 14: 1; 53: 1.

[11] Psalm 10: 4, 11, 13.

[12] Eph. 2: 12, [Greek: Atheoi en tô kosmô].

[13] Gal. 4: 8; 2 Tim. 3: 4; Titus 1: 16.

[14] ESTLIN, "Discourse on Atheism," pp. 8, 19, 28. DR. CHALMERS,
"Institutes," I. 375.

[15] DR. CHALMERS, Works, "Natural Theology," I. 58. "The Reasoner,"
edited by HOLYOAKE, XI. 15, 232.

[16] ROBERT HALL'S Works, I. 58.

[17] Romans 1: 21, 28.

[18] HALL'S "Works," I. 128.

[19] ESTLIN'S "Discourse," p. 57.

[20] ROBERT HALL, "Modern Infidelity Considered," I. 38, 67.

[21] ROBERT HALL on Modern Infidelity, I. 70.

[22] T. CARLYLE, "Essays," II. 142.

[23] P. BAYLE, "Pensées diverses Ecrites à un Docteur de Sorbonne a
l'Occasion de la _Comète_," 4 vols. Also his "Reponse aux Questions d'un
Provincial," II. 688, IV. 101, 112.

[24] HALL on Modern Infidelity, I. 59, 64.

pour servir a l'Histoire du Jacobinisme," I. 31, 131, 135, 184, 357.

[26] ABBÉ BARRUEL, "Memoires pour servir a l'Histoire du Jacobinisme,"
I. 22, II. 190, 193.

[27] "The Leader;" a series of articles on Comte's Philosophy, by G. H.
LEWES, April 7, 10, 17, etc., etc., 1852.--"The Glasgow Mechanics'



There have been various applications of the general principle of
Development, by means of which an attempt has been made to explain the
origin of all things by Natural Laws, so as to exclude the necessity of
any Divine interposition, either for the creation of the world, or for
the introduction and establishment of Christianity itself. It has been
applied, first, to explain the origin of worlds and planetary systems,
by showing that, certain specified conditions being presupposed, there
are fixed mechanical laws which might sufficiently account for the
production of the earth and of the other planets and satellites of our
Solar System, without any special interposition of Divine power at the
commencement of the existing order of things. It has been applied,
secondly, to explain the origin of the various tribes or races of
vegetable and animal life, and especially the production of the human
race, by showing that the existing types may have sprung, by a process
of gradual development, from inferior races previously existing, and
that these again may have been produced by the action of chemical agents
in certain favorable conditions. It has been applied, thirdly, to
explain all the most important phenomena of Human History, and to
illustrate the law which is supposed to determine and regulate the
progressive course of civilization, so as to account, on natural
principles, for the origin and prevalence of the various forms of
Religion, and even for the introduction, in its appointed season, of
Christianity itself, without having recourse to anything so utterly
unphilosophical as the idea of a Divine Revelation, or the supposition
of supernatural agency. And it has been applied, fourthly, to explain
the order, and to vindicate the use, of those additions both to the
doctrines and rites of primitive Christianity, which Protestants have
denounced as _corruptions_, but which Popish and Tractarian writers
defend as _developments_, of the system that was originally deposited,
like a prolific germ or seed, in the bosom of the Catholic Church.

It is the more necessary to examine the various forms of this theory,
because unquestionably it can appeal to not a few _natural analogies_,
which may serve, on a superficial view, to give it the aspect of
verisimilitude. For many of the most signal works of God have been
manifestly framed on the principle of gradual growth, and matured by a
process of progressive development. We see in the natural world a small
seed deposited in the earth, which, under the agency of certain suitable
influences, germinates and springs up, producing first a tender shoot,
then a stem, and branches, and leaves, and blossoms, and fruit; and
every herb or tree, "having seed in itself," makes provision for the
repetition of the same process, and the perpetuation and indefinite
increase of its kind. The same law is observed in the animal kingdom,
where a continuous race is produced from a single pair. And even in the
supernatural scheme of Revelation itself, the truth was gradually
unfolded in a series of successive dispensations; the First Promise
being the germ, which expanded as the Church advanced, until it reached
its full development in the Scriptures of the New Testament. These and
similar instances may suffice to show that, both in the natural and
supernatural Providence of God, He has been pleased to act on the
principle of _gradual and progressive_, as contradistinguished from that
of _instant and perfect_ production; and they may seem, at first sight,
to afford some natural analogies in favor of the radical idea on which
the various modern Theories _of_ Development are based. In such
circumstances it would be an unwise and dangerous course either to
overlook the palpable facts which Nature and Revelation equally attest,
or to deny that they may afford signal manifestations of the manifold
wisdom of God. Nor is it necessary for any enlightened advocate of
Theism to betake himself to these expedients; he may freely admit the
existence of _such_ cases of gradual development, he may even appeal to
them as illustrative of the order of Nature, and the design which that
order displays; and the only question which he is at all concerned to
discuss amounts in substance to this: Whether the method of production
which is pursued in the _ordinary course_ of Nature can account for the
_original commencement_ of the present system of things?

But the state of the question, and the right application of the
argument, may be best illustrated by considering each of the _four_
forms of the theory separately and in succession.



The doctrine of a Nebular Cosmogony was first suggested by some
observations of the elder Herschell on those cloud-like appearances
which may be discerned in various parts of the heavens by the aid of the
telescope, or even, in some cases, by the naked eye. It assumed a more
definite form in the hands of La Place, although even by him it was
offered, not as an ascertained discovery of science, but simply as a
hypothetical explanation of the way in which the production of the
planets and their satellites _might_ possibly be accounted for _by_ the
operation of the known laws of Nature.

The explanation of the whole theory may be best understood by dividing
it into two parts: the _first_ being that which attempts to account for
the formation of planets and satellites, _on the assumption of the
existence of a central sun_, and _of certain other specified
conditions_; the _second_ being that which undertakes to account for the
formation of the sun itself, on the assumption of the existence of _a
diffused nebulous matter_ in space, or, as it has been aptly called, "a
universal Fire-Mist."[28]

When the theory is limited to the explanation of the origin of the
planets and their satellites, the original condition of our solar system
is assumed to have been widely different from what it now is; the sun is
supposed to have existed for a time alone, to have revolved upon his
axis, and to have been surrounded with an atmosphere expanded by intense
heat, and extending far beyond the limits of our system as it now
exists. This solar atmosphere revolved, like the sun itself, around its
axis; but its heat, constantly radiated into sidereal space, gradually
diminished, and the atmosphere being contracted in proportion as it
cooled, the rapidity of its rotation was accelerated, until it reached
the point at which the central attraction was overcome by the
centrifugal force, and then a zone of vapor would be detached or thrown
off, which might either retain its form as a nebulous ring, like the
ring of Saturn, or first breaking into fragments, from some want of
continuity in its structure, and afterwards coalescing into one mass,
might be condensed into a planet as the vapor continued to cool. These
rings or planets, thus detached from the central atmospheric mass, would
continue to revolve, in virtue of the force originally impressed upon
them, and their motion would be nearly circular, in the same plane and
in the same direction with that of the sun. The first planet, so
formed, must have been that at the extreme limit of our solar system;
the second the next in point of remoteness from the centre, and so on;
each resulting from the operation of the same natural laws, and emerging
into distinct existence at that precise point in the gradual cooling and
contraction of the atmosphere at which the centrifugal became stronger
than the centripetal force. But each planet might also be subjected to
the same process of cooling and contracting, and might therefore throw
off, under the operation of the same mechanical laws, zones of vapor
more or less dense, which might consolidate into moons or satellites,
and which should also revolve, like the planets, round their primary.
Thus, Uranus has six satellites, and Saturn seven; while the latter has
also thrown off two zones so perfectly uniform in their internal
structure that they remain unbroken, and constitute a double ring around
the planet.

In this _first_ form of the theory, which assumes the existence of the
sun and its atmosphere, and the rotation of both round an axis, La Place
sought to give a scientific form to the speculations of Sir William
Herschell on the condensation of Nebulæ, by proving simply the
_dynamical possibility_ of the formation of a planetary system by such
means, according to the known laws of matter and motion; but he did not
affirm the scientific certainty of his conjecture, and far less the
actual production of the solar system in this way. He has been followed
by M. Comte, who has attempted to furnish, if not a complete
demonstration, at least a plausible mathematical verification, of the
hypothesis.[29] Utterly excluding all supernatural agency in the work of
creation, he equally excludes from the problem which he attempts to
solve, the origin of the sun and its atmosphere; and confining himself
to the task of accounting, in the way not of demonstrative certainty,
but merely of plausible hypothesis, for the formation of the planets and
satellites of our solar system, he conceives the theory of La Place to
be susceptible of such a numerical verification as is sufficient to give
it a high degree of verisimilitude. Assuming that the periodic time of
each planet must be equal to that of the portion of the solar atmosphere
of which it was formed at the era when it was thrown off, and combining
the theorems of Huygens on the measure of centrifugal forces with
Newton's law of gravitation, he establishes a simple equation between
the time of the rotation of each zone or section of the solar
atmosphere, and the distance of the corresponding planets. On applying
this equation to the various bodies of our system, he found that the
periodic time of the moon agrees, at least within the tenth of a day,
with the duration of the earth's revolution, when her atmosphere is
supposed to have extended to the moon; and that the periodic times of
the planets maintain a similar correspondence with what must have been
the duration of the solar revolution when they were severally thrown off
from its atmosphere. It is the less necessary, however, to enter on a
detailed exposition of his argument, because he admits that it can
afford at the utmost only a probable proof of an hypothesis; and
further, because it is expressly limited to the production of the
planets and their satellites, while not only is the existence of the
solar atmosphere presupposed, but also its existence in _a certain
state_, and with _several determinate conditions_; while no account
whatever is given of the origin either of the sun or its atmosphere, and
none of the laws or conditions on which the whole process of development
is confessedly dependent.

But the author of "The Vestiges" takes a much wider range, and attempts
a more arduous task. He seeks to account for the origin both of suns and
of solar systems by the agency of natural laws. Not content with the
more limited form of the theory, which M. Comte holds to be the only
legitimate or practical object of scientific treatment, he holds that
the origin of the sun itself, and the _forms_, the _positions_, the
_relations_, and the _motions_, of all the heavenly bodies, may be
accounted for by supposing a previous state of matter, fluid or
gasiform, subject only to the law of gravitation. The Nebular Cosmogony,
which is well characterized by himself as his "version of _the romance
of Nature_," is based on the assumption that "the nebulous matter of
space, previously to the formation of stellar and planetary bodies, must
have been a universal FIRE-MIST,"[30] in other words, a diffused
luminous vapor, intensely hot, which might be gradually condensed into a
fluid, and then into a solid state, by losing less or more of its heat.
The existence of such a luminous matter being assumed, and it being
further supposed that it was not entirely uniform or homogeneous, but
that it existed in various states of condensation, and that it had
"certain nuclei established in it which might become centres of
aggregation for the neighboring diffused matter,"--the author attempts
to show that on such centres a rotatory motion would be established
wherever, as was the most likely case, there was any obliquity in the
lines of direction in which the opposing currents met each other; that
this motion would increase as the agglomeration proceeded; that at
certain intervals the centrifugal force, acting on the remoter part of
the rotating mass, would overcome the agglomerating force; and that a
series of rings would thus be left apart, each possessing the motion
proper to itself at the crisis of separation. These, again, would only
continue in their annular form, if they were entirely uniform in their
internal structure. There being many chances against this, they would
probably break up in the first instance, and be thereafter "agglomerated
into one or several masses, which would become representatives of the
primary mass, and perhaps give rise to a progeny of inferior masses." In
support of this theory, reference is made to the existence, at the
present moment, of certain cloud-like nebulæ, or masses of diffused
luminous matter, exhibiting a variety of appearances, as if they were in
various degrees of condensation, and which are described as "solar
systems in the process of being formed" out of a previous condition of
matter. And the observations of M. Plateau, of Ghent, are adduced as
affording an experimental verification of some parts of the theory, and,
especially, as serving to explain the spherical form of the planets, the
flattening at the poles, and the swelling out at the equator.

It does not belong to our proper province, nor is it necessary for our
present purpose, to discuss the merits of this theory, considered as a
question of science. This has been already done, with various degrees of
ability, but with unwonted unanimity, by some of the ablest men of the
age,--by Whewell, Sedgwick and Mason, in England, by Sir David Brewster
and Mr. Miller, in Scotland, and by Professor Dod and President
Hitchcock, in America.[31] But, viewing it simply in its relation to the
Theistic argument, we conceive that the adverse presumption which it may
possibly generate in some minds against the evidence of Natural
Theology, will be effectually neutralized by establishing the following

That it is _a mere hypothesis_, and one which, from the very nature of
the case, is incapable of being proved by such evidence as is necessary
to establish _a matter of fact_.

That the progress of scientific discovery, so far from tending to
verify and confirm, has served rather to disprove and invalidate the
fundamental assumption on which it rests.

That even were it admitted, either as a possible, or probable, or
certain explanation of the origin of the present planetary systems, it
would not necessarily destroy the evidence of Theology, nor establish on
its ruins the cause of Atheism.

Each of these positions may be conclusively established, and the three
combined constitute a complete answer to the theory of Development, in
so far as it has been applied in the support or defence of Atheism.

1. That it is a mere hypothesis or conjecture, designed, not to
establish the _historical fact_, but to explain merely the _dynamical
possibility_ of the production of the planetary bodies by the operation
of known natural laws, must be admitted, I think, even by its most
enthusiastic admirers. It might have seemed, indeed, to have something
like a basis of fact to rest upon, had the conception of the elder
Herschell been verified, when he announced the existence of a nebulous
fluid, capable of being distinguished, by certain well-defined marks,
from unresolved clusters of stars; but even then it presupposed so many
postulates, which could in no way be established by experimental or
historical evidence, that it could scarcely be regarded in any other
light than as an ingenious speculation or a splendid conjecture. For,
let it be considered, first of all, that the theory proceeds on the
assumption of the existence and wide diffusion of a nebulous fluid of
whose reality there is no actual proof; secondly, that it necessarily
requires, also, the supposed existence of certain favorable conditions;
and, thirdly, the operation of certain invariable laws; and it will be
manifest at once that it is purely hypothetical throughout, and that it
includes a variety of topics which never have been, and never can be
made the subjects of experimental verification. For it postulates, in
the words of an acute writer, "the establishment of nuclei in the body
of the elemental mass, as well as the action of heat on its substance,
and then seeks to explain the concentration of the nebulous particles
into these nuclei by the force of gravitation, the rotation of the
bodies so produced by the confluence of the nebulous fluid, the
separation of a portion of the outer surface of these revolving masses
in the form of rings, the disruption of these rings, and the subsequent
recomposition of their fragments into separate spheres, answering to the
planets and satellites of our system."[32] But even were the existence
of a nebulous fluid admitted, we have no access to know what was its
internal structure; we cannot determine whether it was uniform and
homogeneous throughout, or whether it contained nuclei which might
become centres of aggregation; we have no means of estimating the
intensity of the heat which belonged to it, or of calculating the
process by which it was dispersed, so as to occasion the condensation of
successive portions of the mass. No eye ever saw the separation of any
part of it in the form of a ring, or the disruption of that ring, or the
subsequent recomposition of its fragments into a solid sphere. And even
had all this been matter, not of mere conjecture, but of actual
observation, it would still have left much to be explained which can
only be accounted for by ascribing it to a designing Intelligent Cause.

2. The progress of scientific discovery, so far from tending to verify,
has served rather to invalidate the fundamental assumption on which the
whole theory depends. That assumption was the existence of a Nebulous
Fluid or Fire-Mist, capable of being distinguished, by certain
characteristic marks, from unresolved nebulæ or clusters of stars. The
existence of any such fluid has become more and more doubtful, in
proportion as astronomers have been enabled, with the aid of larger and
better constructed telescopes, to resolve several nebulæ which had
previously defied the power of less perfect instruments. We do not
affirm that every cluster has been already resolved, nor is it necessary
for the purposes of our argument to suppose that, at any future time,
this stupendous achievement is likely to be effected; for it is a very
obvious consideration, that just in proportion as our telescopic powers
are enlarged so as to enable us to resolve many of the nearer nebulæ,
they must also bring within the range of our extended vision _others_
more remote and hitherto unperceived, which may continue to exhibit the
same cloud-like appearance as the former, until, by a new improvement of
the telescope, we may succeed in separating them into distinct stars;
and even then the march of discovery is not ended,--we may reasonably
expect that with every fresh increase of telescopic vision, new clusters
will be brought into view, and new clouds appear in the utmost verge of
the horizon. But, unquestionably, the progress which has already been
made in this direction affords a strong presumption in favor of the
idea, that the apparent nebulosity of those masses which still appear,
even to our best telescopes, as cloud-like vapors, is to be ascribed
rather to the imperfection of our instruments than to any difference
between them and such as have been already resolved. Sir John Herschell,
a high authority in such a case, tells us that "we have every reason to
believe, at least in the generality of cases, that a nebula is nothing
more than a cluster of stars."[33] Sir David Brewster is equally
explicit: "It was certainly a rash generalization to maintain that
nebulæ differed essentially from clusters of stars, because existing
telescopes could not resolve them. The very first application of Lord
Rosse's telescopes to the heavens overturned the hypothesis; and with
such unequivocal facts as that instrument has brought to light, we
regard it as a most unwarrantable assumption to suppose that there are
in the heavenly spaces any masses of matter different from solid bodies,
composing planetary systems."[34] And Professor Nichol, while he
gracefully acknowledges that he has "somewhat altered the views which he
formerly gave to the public, as the highest then known and generally
entertained, regarding the structure of the heavens," states, as the
result of more mature reflection, that "the supposed distribution of a
self-luminous fluid, in separate patches, through the heavens, has,
beyond all doubt, been proved fallacious by that most remarkable of
telescopic achievements,--the resolution of the great nebula in Orion
into a superb cluster of stars; and that this discovery necessitates
important changes in previous speculations on Cosmogony."[35]

In short, Lord Rosse's observations at Parsonstown have conclusively
proved that what appeared to be a nebula was in reality a cluster of
stars; and while they still leave many nebulæ unresolved, they afford a
strong warrant for believing that discoveries in the same direction
might be indefinitely extended in proportion to the increase of
telescopic power.

3. But even were the Nebular Hypothesis admitted, and were the Theory of
Development by Natural Laws conceived to afford a satisfactory
explanation of the origin of the planetary systems, it would not follow,
as a necessary consequence, that the peculiar evidence of Theism--that
on which it mainly depends, and to which it makes its most confident
appeal--would be thereby destroyed, or even diminished. The only
legitimate result of such a doctrine would seem to be, that we must
distinguish aright between a work of _Mediate_, and a work of
_Immediate_ Creation. In the Bible each of these is distinctly
recognized. We have a specimen of the one in the creation of the first
man by the direct agency of Divine power; we have a specimen of the
other in the creation, less direct but equally real, of all his natural
posterity, through the medium of ordinary generation. Men do not cease
to be the _creatures_ of God because they are born of their parents, in
virtue of that creative word, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish
the earth;" and hence children are admonished "to remember _their
Creator_ in the days of their youth."[36] The work of creation is
equally real and equally Divine, whether it be effected _mediately_ or
_immediately_, with or without the intervention of means, by the direct
and instantaneous exertion of Almighty power, or by the gradual and
successive operation of second causes acting according to established
laws. In the ordinary course of Providence, the method of mediate
production, gradual growth, and progressive development, may be observed
in innumerable instances; but it can never be justly held to exclude, or
even to obscure, the evidence of a presiding Intelligence and a
supernatural Power. On the contrary, it may serve rather to enhance that
evidence; since the very arrangements and provisions which have been
made with a view to the reproduction of every thing after its kind, may
bear on them the legible impress of a designing Mind and an ordaining
Will. Thus, year by year continually, the whole inhabitants of the world
are supported by the fruits of harvest, which are produced and matured
under the action of natural laws; yet every intelligent Theist ascribes
the result ultimately to the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, and
sees in the very processes by which it is brought to pass some of the
most signal proofs of these Divine perfections.

Now, as this method is followed in the work of Providence, which may be,
and often has been, described as a _continuous creation,_ and yet has no
tendency to destroy, or even to diminish, the evidence of a presiding
Intelligence in Nature, so no good reason can be assigned why it _might_
not also have been adopted in the production of planets and astral
systems, if so it had seemed good to Supreme Wisdom. If this method was
adopted for the propagation of plants and animals, no reason can be
given why it might not also have been adopted for the production of
planets and moons; nor would it in the latter case, any more than in the
former, impair the evidence of God's creative wisdom and power. For,
suppose it be possible that, by a marvellous process of self-evolution,
the material elements of Nature might assume new forms, so as to
originate a succession of new worlds and new planetary systems, without
the _immediate_ or _direct_ interposition of a Supernatural Will;
suppose that the earth and the other bodies now belonging to our own
system, were generated out of a prior condition of matter, existing in a
gasiform state and diffused through space as a Fire-Mist, subject to the
ordinary action of heat and gravitation; suppose, in short, that there
were LAWS FOR THE GENERATION OF WORLDS in the larger cycles of time,
just as there ARE LAWS FOR THE GENERATION OF ANIMALS in the short ages
of terrestrial life;--would a provision for such a succession of
marvellous developments necessarily destroy, or even impair, the
evidence for the being and perfections of God? Does the generation of
the animated tribes diminish the evidence of design in the actual
constitution of the world? And why should a similar provision, if any
such were found to exist, for the generation of stars and systems, be
regarded in any other light than as an exhibition, on a still larger
scale, of "the manifold wisdom of God?"

Let it ever be remembered that the Theistic argument depends, not on
_the mode of production_, but on _the character of the resulting
product_. The world may have been produced mediately or immediately,
with or without the operation of natural laws; but if it exhibit such an
arrangement of parts, such an adaptation of means to ends, or such a
combination of collocations and adjustments, as enables us at once to
discern the distinctive marks of intelligent design, the evidence cannot
be diminished, it may even be possibly enhanced, by the method of
production. Provision is made, doubtless, for the growth and development
of the eye, the ear, and the hand, in the human foetus, and the
process by which they are gradually formed is regulated by natural laws.
But the resulting products are so exquisitely constructed, so admirably
adapted to the elements of nature, and so evidently designed for the
uses of life, that they irresistibly suggest the idea of wise and
benevolent contrivances; and this idea is as strong and clear as it
could have been had they been produced instantaneously by the _direct_
act of creative power. And so of the planets and astral systems: they
may have been generated, that is, produced, in a way of natural
development; yet the resulting products are such as to evince the
supreme wisdom and beneficence which presided over their formation. But
even this is not all. Let us suppose, further, that Philosophy may yet
reach its extreme, and, as we humbly conceive, unattainable limit; let
us suppose that it may succeed in decomposing all the chemical elements
now known, by resolving them into ONE primary basis; let us even suppose
that it may succeed in reducing all the subordinate laws of Nature into
ONE supreme and universal law; still the development of such a system as
we see around us out of such materials, and by such means, would not be
necessarily exclusive of the idea of God, but might afford evidence of a
Supreme Mind, creating, combining, and controlling all things for the
manifestation of His adorable perfections.

We have thus seen that the Theory of Cosmical Development is a mere
hypothesis, incapable of experimental or historical proof; that the
recent progress of scientific discovery has tended to disprove the
fundamental assumption on which it rests; and that, even were it
admitted as a possible, or, still more, as a plausible explanation of
the origin of planets and astral systems, it would not serve to destroy,
and scarcely, if at all, to diminish the evidence of Theism.

The last of these positions, if well established, might seem to
supersede the necessity of discussing the hypothesis at all in
connection with our present theme. But such a discussion of it as has
been offered may be useful to those--and they are not a few--who,
superficially acquainted with Science in its more popular form, are
exposed to the danger of being seduced by the authority of a few
distinguished names which have unfortunately become identified with the
cause of Atheism. For, while the author of "The Vestiges" repudiates the
atheistic conclusions which some have deduced from his hypothesis, M.
COMTE boldly avows his creed in the following revolting terms: "To minds
unacquainted with the study of the heavenly bodies, Astronomy has still
the reputation of being a science eminently religious, as if the famous
verse, 'Coeli enarrant gloriam Dei' ('The heavens declare the glory OF
GOD'), had preserved all its force." And, he adds, in a note, "At
present, to minds that have been early familiarized with the true
astronomical philosophy, the heavens declare _no other glory_ than that
of Hipparchus, Kepler, Newton, and all those who have contributed to the
establishment of their laws!" The _reader_ of these laws may become
illustrious, but the Maker of them must be utterly ignored!



The Theory of Development has been applied not only to explain the
origin of worlds and of astral systems in the sky, but also to account
for the origin of the various tribes of vegetable and animal life which
exist on the earth itself. There is nothing, indeed, in any of the
kingdoms of Nature that may not be included in it, since the formation
of all material bodies, organic or inorganic, is supposed to be
sufficiently accounted for by the sole action of Chemical or Mechanical
laws. The wide range of this theory is strikingly illustrated by the
words of one whose powers of observation have added some interesting
discoveries to Natural History, but whose speculations on the origin of
Nature resemble the distempered ravings of lunacy, rather than the
mature results of philosophic thought "Physio-philosophy has to show,"
says Dr. Oken, "how, and in accordance indeed with what laws, the
Material took its origin, and, therefore, how something took its
existence from nothing. It has to portray the first periods of _the
world's development from nothing_; how the elements and heavenly bodies
originated; in what method, _by self-evolution_ into higher and manifold
forms, they separated into minerals, became finally organic, and, in
man, attained self-consciousness.... Physio-philosophy is, therefore,
_the generative history of the world_; or, in general terms, the history
of Creation, a name under which it was taught by the most ancient
philosophers, namely, as Cosmogony. From its embracing the Universe, it
is plainly the Genesis of Moses!"[37]

It will be observed that this strange speculation goes far beyond the
comparatively modest conjecture of La Place. It postulates _nothing_,
and undertakes to account for _everything_. In flagrant opposition to
the old atheistic maxim, "Ex nihilo, nihil," it boldly affirms, "Ex
nihilo, omnia." It speaks, indeed, of "laws in accordance with which the
world took its origin;" but these laws must be as abstract as those of
Mathematics, since they existed before matter itself; nay, more
abstract, or, rather, more inconceivable still, since they existed, it
would seem, even before Mind! Dr. Oken attempts to explain the
production of the world from nothing by comparing it to the evolution of
Arithmetical and Mathematical Science, out of the fundamental conception
of _zero_! But, waiving this, we shall direct our attention to the only
points in this theory which, in the existing state of speculative
thought, can be held to have any practical interest in connection with
our great theme.

That theory attempts to account for the production both of the FLORA and
the FAUNA of the natural world by _the process of Development_ rather
than by _the miracle of Creation_. It proceeds on the assumption, akin
to that of Epicurus, that atoms or monads alone existed in the first
instance; and that from these were derived, under the action of natural
law and by a process of gradual development, all existing substances and
beings, whether organic or inorganic, mineral, vegetable, or animal. "No
organism has been created," says Dr. Oken, "of larger size than an
infusorial point. No organism is, nor ever has one been created, which
is not microscopic. Whatever is larger has not been created, but
developed. Man has not been created, but developed." On this fundamental
assumption the whole theory is based. But we must carefully distinguish
between the Atomic Theory and the application which is here made of it.
The recent discoveries of Chemistry, by which all material compounds
have been decomposed into their constituent elements, amounting to
little more than fifty substances, which are either the primary or the
proximate bases of all existing bodies, and the marvellous
transformations which these elementary principles undergo, in respect
alike of form, of density, of solidity, and of magnitude, under the
action of natural laws,--may serve to make it credible that there is no
_a priori_ impossibility in the assumption on which the Atomic Theory
depends. Had it been the will of God to call into being the various
vegetable and animal races in the way of gradual evolution out of these
primary monads, no enlightened Theist will presume to say that it was
either impossible, or inconsistent with His wisdom to do so. It must be
observed, however, that the natural analogies which have sometimes been
appealed to in support of this hypothesis, labor under a grievous defect
when they are applied to account for the origin of the existing races,
and that they are extended far beyond their legitimate limits when they
are supposed to prove that these races might begin to be without any
direct interposition of creative power. For, while the oak may spring
from an acorn, and the largest animal from a microscopic monad, yet
within the whole range of our experience both in the vegetable and
animal kingdoms, _the seed is produced by the organism_, and necessarily
presupposes it; whence it follows, either that there must have been an
eternal succession of organisms producing seed, and thereby perpetuating
the race, or if this be inconceivable, still more if it can be disproved
by geological or historical evidence, then that the analogy of our
present experience leads us up, not to "an infusorial point" or
"microscopic monad," but to a primary living organism as the
commencement of each existing tribe. In the words of Dr. Barclay, "It
will not be easy, on any principles exclusive of the vital, to answer
these questions, What was the origin of the first egg, or what was the
origin of the first bird? For where is the egg that comes not from a
bird, and where is the bird that comes not from an egg? To the mere
materialists, who exclude every species of vitality but that from
organism, this problem is nearly as embarrassing as the origin of the
Universe itself."[38]

If these views be correct, all the natural analogies would lead us to
acquiesce, as Dr. Barclay did, in the Mosaic narrative as the most
philosophical account of the commencement of the present order of
things. It traces up every race to a primary organism, endowed with
reproductive powers; for it tells us, in regard to the FLORA, that God
said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, _the herb yielding seed_, and
the fruit-tree yielding fruit _after his kind_, whose _seed is in
itself_, upon the earth; and it was so." And it tells us, with regard to
the FAUNA, that God said, "Let the waters bring forth abundantly the
moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in
the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every
living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly,
_after their kind_, and every winged fowl _after his kind_. And God
blessed them, saying, _Be fruitful, and multiply_, and fill the waters
in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth."

Here the distinction between different genera and species, and the
provision that was made for the perpetuation of different races, are
prominently presented; while the production, in the first instance, not
of an "infusorial point" or "microscopic monad," but of a living
organism capable of multiplying its kind, is expressly declared; and
every race is traced up to that primary organism, in perfect consistency
with the only law, whether of vegetable or animal reproduction, which is
known to be in operation at the present day. And _this_ law of
reproduction, so far from being exclusive of a primary act of Creation,
seems to presuppose and require it; for there must be a living organism
before there can be vital transmission. But the theory of Physiological
Development proceeds on a totally different supposition,--a supposition
for the truth of which we have not only no historical evidence, but not
even the slightest _analogical presumption_, since we have no instance
of development anywhere except from a germ or seed, produced by an
organism preëxisting in a state of maturity.

But the exigencies of that theory demand a wide departure from all the
familiar lessons of experience; and hence recourse has been had to a
series of the wildest and most extravagant conjectures, such as may well
justify the opinion of those who have held that the creed of certain
philosophers makes a much larger demand on human credulity than that of
almost any section of the Christian Church. For, according to that
theory, the origin of the FLORA is first accounted for by the action of
some element--probably electricity--on a certain _mucus_, which is
supposed to be generated at those points where the ocean comes into
contact with the earth and air; that is, on the shore of the sea at low
water mark. MAILLET had broached the idea of the marine origin of all
our present "herbs, plants, roots, and grains,"[39] at a period when the
Universal Ocean, of which Leibnitz said so much, was still the creed of
some speculative minds; but it has been more recently revived, and
exhibited in greater detail, though not with stronger evidence, by some
writers of our own age. Thus Dr. Oken tells us that "all life is from
the sea;" that "when the sea organism, by self-elevation, succeeds in
attaining into form, there issues forth from it a higher organism;" and
that "the first organic forms, whether plants or animals, emerged from
the shallow parts of the sea." And so the author of "The Vestiges"
attempts to show that new races, both of plants and animals, marine and
terrestrial, may be accounted for, without any act of immediate
creation, by a change or transmutation of species resulting from the
agency of natural causes. "There is," as he tells us, "another set of
phenomena presented in the course of our history; the coming into
existence, namely, of a long suite of living things, vegetable and
animal, terminating in the families which we still see occupying the
surface. The question arises,--In what manner has this set of phenomena
originated? Can we touch at, and rest for a moment on, the possibility
of plants and animals having likewise been produced in the way of
Natural Law, thus assigning but one class of causes for everything
revealed to our sensual observation? Or are we at once to reject this
idea, and remain content either to suppose that creative power here
acted in a different way, or to believe, unexaminingly, that the inquiry
is one beyond our powers?"[40] In reply to these questions, he proceeds
to show that "there is a balance of probability from actual evidence in
favor of _an organic creation by law_," and that "in tracing the actual
history of organic beings upon the earth," as revealed by Geology, we
find that "these came not at once, as they might have been expected to
do if produced by some special act, or even some special interposition
of will, on the part of the Deity; they came in a long-continued
succession, in the order, as we shall afterwards see more convincingly,
of progressive organization, grade following grade, till, from an humble
starting-point in both kingdoms, the highest forms were realized." Such
is his general principle; and, without entering into the details, we may
sum up his general argument by saying, in the words of another,[41]
that, according to his theory, "dulse and hen-ware became, through a
very wonderful metamorphosis, cabbage and spinach; that kelp-weed and
tangle bourgeoned into oaks and willows; and that slack, rope-weed, and
green-raw, shot up into mangel-wurzel, rye-grass, and clover." So much
for the FLORA; and now for the _Fauna_, and the transition from the one
to the other. His views are thus exhibited by Sir David Brewster: "The
electric spark, escaping from the wild elements around it, struck life
into an elementary and reproductive germ, and sea-plants, the food of
animals, first decked the rude pavement of the ocean. The lichen and the
moss reared their tiny fronds on the first rocks that emerged from the
deep; land-plants, evolving the various forms of fruit and flower, next
arose,--the Upas and the bread-fruit tree, the gnarled oak and the lofty
cedar. Animal life appeared when the granary of nature was ready with
its supplies. A globule, having a new globule forming within itself,
which is the fundamental form of organic being, may be produced in
albumen by electricity; and as such globules may be identical with
living and reproductive cells, we have the earliest germ of organic
life, the first cause of all the species of animated nature which people
the earth, the ocean, and the air. Born of electricity and albumen, the
simple monad is the first living atom; the microscopic animalcules, the
snail, the worm, the reptile, the fish, the bird, and the quadruped, all
spring from its invisible loins. The human similitude at last appears in
the character of the monkey; the monkey rises into the baboon, the
baboon is exalted to the ourang-outang, and the chimpanzee, with a more
human toe and shorter arms, gives birth to man."[42]

The remarks which were offered, in the previous section, on Cosmical
Development, are equally applicable, _mutatis mutandis_, to this other
form of the doctrine of Creation by Natural Law. It might be shown, with
reference to the supposed generation of plants and animals, just as it
was then shown with reference to the generation of planets and astral
systems, first, that the theory rests upon a mere hypothesis, which is
utterly unsupported by experimental evidence; secondly, that the
progress of science has hitherto afforded no ground to believe that the
transmutation of species is provided for under the established
constitution of nature; and, thirdly, that even were the theory
admitted, it would not destroy the evidence of Theism, any more than the
propagation of plants and animals under the existing system, which, so
far from excluding or impairing, serves rather to enhance and illustrate
the proof of creative wisdom and power. In support of this last
position, we might adduce the testimony of the author of "The Vestiges"
himself; for, referring to the idea that "to presume a creation of
living beings by the intervention of law" is equivalent to "superseding
the whole doctrine of the Divine authorship of organic nature," he takes
occasion to say, "Were this true, it would form a most important
objection to the Law theory; but I think it is not only not true, but
the reverse of the truth. As formerly stated, the whole idea of law
relates only to the mode in which the Deity is pleased to manifest His
power in the natural world. It leaves the absolute fact of His
authorship of and supremacy over Nature precisely where it was." He
adds, in the words of Dr. Buckland, "Such an aboriginal constitution, so
far from superseding an Intelligent Agent, would only exalt our
conceptions of the consummate skill and power that could comprehend such
an infinity of future uses under future systems, in the original
groundwork of His Creation."[43]

But, without enlarging on those general considerations which were
formerly stated, and which admit of an easy and obvious application to
this _second_ form of the theory, we shall offer a few remarks bearing
directly on its distinctive peculiarities, and directed to the exposure
of its radical defects.

The theory rests on two very precarious foundations: the assumption of
_spontaneous generation_, on the one hand, and the assumption of a
_transmutation of species_ on the other. Each of these assumptions is
necessarily involved in any attempt to account for the origin of the
vegetable and animal races by natural law, without direct Divine
interposition. For if, after the first organism was brought into being,
the production of every subsequent type may be accounted for simply by a
transmutation of species, yet the production of the original organism
itself, or the first commencement of life in any form, must necessarily
be ascribed either to a creative act or to spontaneous generation. A new
product is supposed to have come into being, differing from any that
ever existed before it, in the possession of vital and reproductive
powers; and this product can only be ascribed, if Creation be denied, to
the spontaneous action of some element, such as Electricity, on mucus or
albumen. In this sense the doctrine of spontaneous generation seems to
be necessarily involved in the first step of the process of Development,
and is, indeed, indispensable, if any account is to be given of the
origin of vegetable and animal life; but in the subsequent steps of the
same process it is superseded by a supposed transmutation of species,
whereby a lower form of life is said to rise into a higher, and an
inferior passes into a more perfect organism.

But we have no experience either of spontaneous generation on the one
hand, or of a transmutation of species on the other. Observation has not
discovered, nor has history recorded, an authentic example of either. In
regard to the _first_, the author of "The Vestiges" anticipates this
objection, and attempts to answer it. The objection is, that "a
transition from the inorganic to the organic, such as we must suppose to
have taken place in the early geological ages, is no ordinary cognizable
fact of the present time upon earth; structure, form, life, _are never
seen_ to be imparted to the insensate elements; the production of the
humblest plant or animalcule, otherwise than as a repetition of some
parental form, is not one of the possibilities of science."[44] Such is
the objection; and how does he attempt to answer it? He endeavors to
show, first, that the work of creation having been _for the most part_
accomplished thousands of years ago, we have no reason to expect that
the origination of life and species should be _conspicuously
exemplified_ in the present day; secondly, that the comparative
infrequency, or even the entire absence, of such phenomena _now_ would
be no valid reason for believing that they have _never_ been exhibited
heretofore, if, on other grounds, the doctrine of 'natural creation' or
'life-creating laws' can be rendered probable; and, thirdly, that even
in our own times there ARE facts which seem to indicate the reality, or
at least the possibility, of "the primitive imparting of life and form
to inorganic elements."[45]

Now, to this elaborate argument in favor of _spontaneous generation,_ or
the production of life by natural law, we answer, in the first place,
that the mere fact of its being adduced in connection with the Theory of
Development affords a conclusive proof that it is indispensable to the
maintenance of that theory, that the hypothesis would be incomplete
without it, and that no account can be given of creation by the mere
doctrine of a _transmutation of species_. It is the more necessary to
make this remark, because not a few who embrace the latter doctrine
affect to disown the former, and seek to keep it out of view. But the
one is as necessary as the other to a complete theory of Natural
Development. The author of "The Vestiges" felt this, and virtually
acknowledges it when he undertakes the task of vindicating the
credibility of spontaneous generation. But we answer, in the second
place, that the method in which he performs his self-imposed task is
singularly curious, and not a little instructive. He had, it must be
owned, a difficult game to play. The general theory of "The Vestiges"
is founded on the fact that, in the ordinary course of Nature, the races
of plants and animals are perpetuated by propagation, according to
established Natural Laws,--a fact which might seem to afford a strong
analogical argument in favor of the supposition that the same order of
Nature is maintained also in the few apparently exceptional cases in
which, from our defective knowledge, we are unable to trace the
connection between the parent and the product. And yet the author
evinces no little anxiety to make out a case in favor of "a
non-generative origin of life even at the present day;" and he appeals
to a class of facts, confessedly obscure, which have not been, as he
thinks, satisfactorily accounted for by the law which usually regulates
the production of organic beings. He refers us to the speculations of
Dr. Allen Thomson on the primitive production of Infusoria,[46] to the
facts which modern science, aided by the microscope, has discovered
respecting the Entozoa, or the creatures which live within the bodies of
others, and, above all, to the experiments of Mr. Crosse and Mr. Weekes,
which seemed to result in the production of a small species of insect
(_Acarus Crossii_) from the action of a voltaic battery on a saturated
solution of the silicate of potash, or the nitrate of copper, or the
ferrocyanate of potassium. The reason of his anxiety to avail himself of
these cases is evident. The exigencies of his theory demanded a method
of accounting for the primary origin of life different from any that can
be found in the common process of propagation. He saw clearly enough
that his main argument, founded, as it was, on the law of hereditary
transmission, could not account for the production of the first
organism; and that, if he would avoid either the doctrine of _Immediate
Creation_, which is so offensive to him, or the idea of _Eternal
Generation_, which is utterly excluded by the clearest lessons of Fossil
Geology, he must have recourse to the hypothesis of _Spontaneous
Generation_. Hence he attempts to account for the commencement of new
species both of plants and animals, in the course of the world's
history, by a transmutation of species; while, for the origin of the
first species, he has recourse to the same law of Development, but
acting in widely different circumstances, and giving rise to what he
calls "aboriginal generation," whereby the inorganic passes into the
organic, and life, form, and structure, are imparted to hitherto inert
materials by the action of Electricity on mucus or albumen. To
accomplish this twofold purpose, he felt it necessary to insist, in the
first instance, on the ordinary law of generation as the established
order of _mediate_ creation; while he found it equally necessary, in the
second place, to insist on those apparently exceptional cases in which
the connection between the germ and the product has hitherto eluded
philosophical research,--and this for the purpose of showing that the
original production of plants and animals was _not similar_ to the
ordinary method of their propagation in any other respect than this,
that in both cases the result is brought about by Natural Laws, without
the direct interposition of any supernatural cause.

Now, in so far as his argument is founded on the principle of
analogy,--and it is on this principle that it proceeds throughout,--we
submit that it is radically vicious, and utterly inconclusive. For the
vast majority of cases in which the commencement of life and
organization falls under our notice being confessedly those, not of
primary production, but of mediate reproduction, it is reasonable to
believe that the same law governs all cases alike, whether we have been
able or not to trace the origin of life to the principle of propagation,
the few apparent exceptions being sufficiently accounted for by our
imperfect knowledge of the causes and conditions on which they depend.
Besides, the argument from analogy in favor of a primary production of
life by natural causes, in so far as it is founded on the present law
of hereditary transmission, is radically defective, since the two cases
are widely different; the one presupposing _a primary organism of the
same kind_, from which others are evolved by a law of natural
succession, the other exhibiting life as a new product, resulting not
from any prior organism, but from the action of _causes of a totally
different kind_, which are not known to be capable of giving birth
either to vegetable or animal organisms under the actual constitution of

But suppose, even, that the _Acarus Crossii_ were admitted to be a real
product of Galvanic action on the silicate of potash, and an undeniable
instance of "a non-generative origin of life," how would the
illustrative example accord with the author's general theory? It might
afford a specimen of aboriginal production; but how would it fit in with
his favorite doctrine of _a gradual and progressive advancement_ from
the lower to the higher forms of organization? The _Acarus_, at first
supposed to be a new and hitherto unknown creature, is now acknowledged
to be one of a very familiar species,--a species which may have
deposited its ova, and propagated its kind, since the commencement of
the present order of things, and whose eggs might very well resist the
action even of nitrate of copper, since the creature itself could live
in that poisonous mixture. Moreover, it belongs, in point of
organization, to one of the highest orders of organisms; not to the
_radiata_, not to the _mollusca_, but to the highest type of the
_articulata_, the nearest to the _vertebrata_. Had it been a monad,--a
mere living cell,--which Galvanism evolved from the solution, and had
this primary product developed itself afterwards in various forms,
according to the ascending scale of a progressively improving
organization, it might have accorded admirably with the twofold doctrine
of spontaneous generation and transmutation of species; but,
unfortunately, the first process is so perfect, in the present instance,
as to leave little room for the second, and we are almost tempted to
hope that perhaps the clumsy and troublesome expedient of a
transmutation of species may yet be superseded by the discovery of some
method,--we know not what,--whereby not only the _articulata_, but the
_vertebrata_, and even Man himself, may be immediately produced by some
new combination of Nature's elemental laws![47]

We have given prominence, in the first instance, to the doctrine of
"spontaneous" or "aboriginal" production, because it constitutes an
indispensable part of the Theory of Development, and because we believe
that, were this clearly understood, that theory would soon sink into
general discredit or total oblivion, like the kindred speculations of
Anaximander and Anaxagoras, of the old Ionic School. The experiments of
Ehrenberg, instituted with the view of testing the doctrine of
spontaneous generation, may be said to have decided the whole question.
They did not succeed, indeed, in explaining every apparently exceptional
case, for some of the facts are still obscure, and will probably
continue to be so, notwithstanding every extension of microscopic power,
just as, in the analogous case of the Nebulæ, the increase of telescopic
power has enabled us to resolve not a few of them into clusters of
stars, while it has served to bring others yet unresolved within the
range of our vision. But they were sufficient, at least, to show that,
as far as our clear knowledge extends, the one uniform law, "_Omne vivum
ex ovo_," universally prevails, and that the whole analogy of Nature, in
so far as its constitution has been ascertained, is adverse to the
doctrine of spontaneous generation. Ehrenberg detected the minute germs
of vegetable mould, and the ova of some of the smallest animalcules; and
when it is considered that these germs and ova are so tenacious of
vitality that certain prolific seeds have come down to us from the age
of the Pharaohs in the wrappings of the Egyptian mummies,--that they are
widely diffused in the air and the waters, insomuch that no sooner does
a coral reef appear above the level of the sea than it is forthwith
covered with herbage by means of seeds wafted by the winds or deposited
by the waves,--and that it is almost impossible to exclude them by any
artificial expedient, since they are capable of resisting the action of
boiling water and even of alcohol itself,--it cannot, we think, be
denied that the few cases which still remain obscure or unexplained may
be, at least, _probably_ accounted for in accordance with the same
natural law which is found to be invariably established in every
department to which our clear knowledge extends.

In regard, again, to the supposed "transmutation of species," we are
equally warranted in affirming that it is destitute of all experimental
evidence, and unsupported even by any natural analogy. As the doctrine
of spontaneous generation stands opposed to the maxim that _organic life
can be produced only by organic life_, so the doctrine of a
transmutation of species stands opposed to the equally certain maxim
that _like produces like, both in the vegetable and animal kingdoms_.
Cuvier has demonstrated, with reference to the birds and reptiles
preserved in Egypt, an entire fixity and uniformity of species, in
every, even the least, particular, for at least three thousand
years.[48] In the actual course of Nature we see no tendency to change;
nay, a barrier seems to have been erected in the constitution of Nature
itself to prevent the possible confusion of races by promiscuous
intercourse, through that provision which renders the mule incapable of
reproduction. No plant has ever been found in a state of transition from
a lower to a higher form; no instance has ever been produced of one of
the algæ being transmuted into the lowest form of terrestrial
vegetation; nor of a small gelatinous body developing itself into a
fish, a bird, or a beast; nor of an ourang-outang rising into a man.[49]
It is true, indeed, that "there is a capacity in all species to
accommodate themselves, to a certain extent, to a change of external
circumstances, this extent varying greatly according to the species.
There may thus arise changes of appearance or structure, and some of
these changes are transmissible to the offspring; but the mutations thus
superinduced are _governed by constant laws and confined within certain
limits_. Indefinite divergence from the original type is not possible,
and the extreme limit of possible variation may usually be reached in a
short period of time; in short, species have a real existence in Nature,
and a transformation from one to another does not exist."[50]

The whole science of Natural History is based on the existence of
distinct species, capable of being discriminated from each other by
certain characteristic marks; and the whole art of the agriculturist and
the stockbreeder proceeds on the assumption of a law, invariable in its
operation, whereby "like produces like in the vegetable and animal
worlds." The instances to which the author of "The Vestiges" refers in
support of his theory are utterly frivolous when opposed to the copious
inductions to which they are opposed; and they may all be explained
consistently with the _law of variation within definite limits_, as
stated by Dr. Whewell, or by our ignorance of all the conditions
involved in each particular case. Nor is his argument founded on the
limited range of our observation, even with its singular illustration
derived from Mr. Babbage's calculating engine, fitted to diminish, in
the slightest degree, our confidence in the general results of these
inductions; for, not to mention that it amounts to nothing more than an
appeal from what we do know to what we do not know, from knowledge to
ignorance, from the certainties of science to the mere possibilities of
conjecture, it has been well shown by Mr. Miller, that our range of
observation is not so limited as the author of "The Vestiges" would have
us to believe, since "_extent of space_ is, in a matter of this kind,
equivalent to _duration of time_. For, although no man has lived five
hundred years, so as to observe the gradual development of the oak from
the acorn in its various stages of progress, yet every man who can
survey five hundred yards of an English forest, can see the oak in every
stage of its growth, and need have no doubt as to the law of its
progressive development. And so, had there really been such a
transmutation of species as is contended for, we might expect to find,
somewhere on the vastly extended sea coasts of our islands and
continents, some specimens of plants or animals in a state of transition
from the lower to the higher forms."

We are told, indeed, in answer to this argument, that Mr. Babbage's
engine produces numbers according to a certain law up to a particular
point, and then, most unexpectedly, perhaps even unaccountably, the law
of the series is changed, and the next term exhibits a striking
departure from the order previously followed; and so, it is argued, it
may be in nature. Each organism may propagate after its kind for immense
periods, so as to give the impression of this being an invariable law;
but at a certain stage the order may change, and the next term in the
series may differ from all that went before it. The argument--if it can
be called an argument--amounts to this: Mr. Babbage's machine produces a
_series of numbers, and of numbers only_, but according to different
laws of succession; _ergo_, Nature may produce in the same way, and with
similar variations, _different races of plants and animals_. The
argument would have been perfect if the engine had produced _something
else than numbers_; if, as Professor Dod supposes, "while watching Mr.
Babbage's machine, presenting to us successive numbers by the revolution
of its plates, we should suddenly see one of those plates resolving
itself into types, and these types arranging themselves in the order of
a page of 'Paradise Lost,' or even of 'The Vestiges of Creation;'--in
such a case, there might have been something in the argument; but even
then, the withering question remains, Is there any man in his senses who
would not immediately conclude that _some new cause was now at work_?"

In short, in so far as the _facts of the case_ are concerned, there is
not only no known instance either of "spontaneous generation" or of
"transmutation of species," but there is not even any natural analogy
that can give the theory the slightest aspect of verisimilitude. The
author of "The Vestiges" thinks that a presumption in its favor may be
derived from "the analogy of the inorganic world,"--in other words, from
the supposed conversion of nebulæ into planets and astral systems by the
operation of natural causes; but this analogy has been conclusively set
aside by disproving the hypothesis on which it depends. He further
thinks that a favorable presumption may be derived from "the analogy of
the organic world,"--in other words, from the process of propagation by
which the races of plants and animals are perpetuated; but the
presumption thence derived, so far from being favorable, is directly
opposed to his theory, since all the facts which come under our
cognizance in every department of Nature serve only to establish the two
great maxims of Natural History,--that _organic life can spring only
from organic life_, and that _like produces like, both in the vegetable
and animal world_.

If we have succeeded in disposing of _the facts of the case_, we shall
have little difficulty in exposing _the fallacy of the principles_ which
are involved in the author's speculations on this subject. It is of
fundamental importance, in this inquiry, to form a clear and correct
conception of the precise point at issue, and of the two alternatives
between which we are called to make our choice. It has been well said
that "the great antagonist points in the array of the opposite lines are
simply the LAW of Development _versus_ the MIRACLE of Creation."[51] And
the author of "The Vestiges" virtually acknowledges this to be the real
state of the question, when he says that "if we can see no _natural_
origin for species, a _miraculous_ one must be admitted."[52] Now, the
grand alternative being Creation by Miracle or Creation by Law, that is,
Creation by a Natural or by a Supernatural cause, we affirm that it is
utterly presumptuous and unphilosophical to represent the one as less
worthy of God, or more derogatory to His infinite perfections, than the
other. Yet the author does not hesitate to say that the _natural_ ought
to be preferred to the _miraculous_ method of accounting for the origin
both of planets and of their inhabitants, for this among other reasons,
that the latter would be derogatory to the wisdom and power of the Most
High. His words are remarkable: "The Eternal Sovereign arranges a solar
or an astral system by dispositions imparted primordially to matter; He
causes, by the same majestic means, vast oceans to form and continents
to rise, and all the grand meteoric agencies to proceed in ceaseless
alternation, so as to fit the earth for a residence of organic beings.
But when, in the course of these operations, fuci and corals are to be
for the first time placed in those oceans, a particular interference of
the Divine power is required; and this special attention is needed
whenever a new family of organisms is to be introduced,--a new fiat for
fishes, another for reptiles, a third for birds; nay, taking up the
present views of Geologists as to species, such an event as the
commencement of a certain cephalopod, one with a few new nodulosites and
corrugations upon its shell, would, on this theory, require the
particular care of that same Almighty who willed at once the whole means
by which infinity was replenished with its worlds?" ... "Is it
conceivable, as a fitting mode of exercise for Creative Intelligence,
that it should be constantly paying a special attention to the creation
of species, as they may be required in each situation throughout those
worlds at particular times? Is such an idea accordant with our general
conception of the dignity, not to speak of the power, of the Great
Author?" ... "It would be distressing to be compelled to picture the
power of God as put forth _in any other manner_ than in those slow,
mysterious, universal laws which have so plainly an eternity to work

Such is the author's presumptuous decision on a matter which is far "too
high for him." We offer the following remarks upon it:

_First_ of all, let it be observed that, unless on the principle of
absolute Atheism, which he professes to repudiate, he cannot but
acknowledge that _once_, at least, the power of God must have been put
forth _in another manner_ than "in those slow, mysterious, universal
laws" of which he speaks; and that, even if he could succeed in
disproving "repeated interferences of creative power," he could in
nowise dispense with a primitive act of direct, immediate, supernatural
creation, since he does not profess to believe in the eternal existence
of matter and its laws. We find, indeed, that even in the subsequent
acts of a continuous, but mediate creation, he is compelled to
acknowledge a supernatural power as acting, in each individual case,
according to established natural laws; for he says expressly, "There
cannot be _an inherent intelligence in these laws_; the intelligence
appears _external to the laws_, something of which the laws are but as
the expression of the will and power. If this be admitted, the laws
cannot be regarded as primary or independent causes of the phenomena of
the physical world. We come, in short, to a being beyond Nature,--its
Author, its God." ... "When we speak of Natural Law, we only speak of
_the mode in which the Divine power is exercised_; it is but another
phrase for _the action of the ever-present and sustaining God_."[54] It
is admitted, then, _first_, that there must have been a primary act of
creation, in the highest and strictest sense, by a direct and immediate
interposition of Divine power, at the commencement of created existence;
and, _secondly_, that, even in the continuous work of creation, which is
supposed to have been subsequently carried on after the method of
development by established natural laws, Divine agency is still equally
real, although it is differently manifested, and is indispensably
necessary to account for the resulting products. Now, can it be
reasonably asserted that the direct and immediate creation of such a
being as Man would be more derogatory to the wisdom and power of God
than the primordial production of "a universal Fire-Mist," or even of
"electricity and albumen?" or, will it be pretended that immediate
creation of molluscs as molluscs, of fishes as fishes, of reptiles as
reptiles, would be less worthy of the great Author of Nature than the
establishment of a system which _must_ in due time give them birth, and
that, too, not without the concurrence and coöperation of the Divine
will; for "natural law is but another phrase for _the action_ of the
ever-present and sustaining God?"

But, while we hold that there is no good ground for an affirmative
answer to these questions, we would carefully guard against rushing to
the opposite extreme, and affirming, either that the production of new
races by the method of natural law was, on _a priori_ grounds,
impossible, or that God might not have adopted that method, had He so
pleased, in perfect consistency with the manifestation of His wisdom and
power. We see that He has done so, under the actual constitution of
Nature, so far as the production of _individuals_ is concerned; we see
not why a similar provision might not have been made for the production
of _genera and species_. In either way His power and His wisdom might
have been displayed. But, when we are told that the one is derogatory to
the Divine Majesty, and the other alone consistent with the loftiest
views of His perfections, we denounce the whole speculation as one that
is alike presumptuous and unphilosophical, on the simple but conclusive
ground that we are in no degree competent judges of the best method
either of creating or of governing the world. Had we been asked to say
whether it was likely that, under the rule of infinite wisdom and
almighty power, certain insects, reptiles, and fishes, that are
unattractive to the eye, and loathsome to the fastidious taste of many,
could find a place at all among the works of God, we might have thought
it improbable that they should be created; but they exist
notwithstanding, and the fact of their existence is enough to silence
all our presumptive reasonings. And surely it is not less--it is much
more--presumptuous to affirm that, existing as they do, they could not
have been brought into being, without disparagement to Divine wisdom,
otherwise than by the action of established laws, or by a process of
natural development; as if it were unworthy of God to _produce_ that for
whose production He confessedly did make _provision_.

But, further, we see here very strikingly exemplified the tendency of
such speculations to _exclude God from all real, active, and direct
connection with His works_. The dominion of Natural Law, which, as we
shall afterwards see, is held by M. Comte and Mr. Combe to exclude the
doctrine of a special Providence and the efficacy of prayer, is here
extended, by the author of "The Vestiges," so as to be exclusive also of
any direct Divine interposition in the work of Creation itself, other
than what may have been implied in the aboriginal production of matter
and its laws, or in the subsequent concurrence of His will with the
action of these laws in the established order of Nature.

We have said that the Theory of Development, as expounded in "The
Vestiges," is not necessarily atheistic, partly because the author
professedly disclaims Atheism, and partly also because, in strict logic,
it might still be possible, even on the basis of that theory, considered
simply in itself and apart from the speculations with which it has been
associated, to construct, from the actual phenomena of Nature, a valid
proof for the being and attributes of God. And yet we have thought it
necessary to advert to it as one of the recent speculations of science,
because, whatever may be its _professed aim_, its _practical tendency_
is unquestionably hostile to the influence of religious truth. It will
be found, in the great majority of cases, and especially in the case of
ardent youthful minds, that this theory, when it is embraced as an
article of their philosophic creed, is, to all practical purposes,
tantamount to Atheism. For not to insist on the consideration, so
forcibly stated by others,[55] that the natural argument for the
Immortality of Man, or for the doctrine of a Future Life, as implying
distinct individuality and continued self-consciousness, must be
materially weakened, if not entirely neutralized, by a theory of
development which traces the human lineage up through the monkeys and
fishes to albumen impregnated by electricity, or, further still, to a
diffused Nebula or universal Fire-Mist,--we think that the Sensational
and Materialistic speculations with which the work abounds have a
tendency to weaken the evidence for a living, personal, spiritual God,
as the Creator and Moral Governor of the world, and to diminish that
reverence, confidence, and love, which these aspects of His character
alone can inspire. The system of Epicurus, although it contained a
formal recognition of a First Cause, has always been held to be
practically atheistic, simply because it removed God from the active
superintendence of the affairs of the world, and excluded the doctrine
of a special providence and of a moral government. It was held, in the
words of Cicero, "Epicurum verbis reliquisse Deos,--re sustulisse."[56]
And so, in "The Vestiges," Natural Law is substituted for Supernatural
Interposition, not only in the common course of Providence, but in the
stupendous work of Creation itself.



It might have been thought that the principle of Development had
exhausted its powers, and achieved its highest triumphs, when it had
been applied successively to account, first, for the creation of planets
and astral systems, and, secondly, for the production of vegetable and
animal life; and that little could remain for it to do after it had
succeeded in tracing the genealogy of MAN back, in a direct line through
many generations, to the nebulous matter or luminous Fire-Mist which was
diffused at the beginning of time throughout the Universe. But, on a
more careful study of its last and highest product,--MAN, with his
intellectual and moral nature, his religious beliefs, his social
history, and his immortal hopes,--it seemed as if there were still some
phenomena which remained to be accounted for, some facts of palpable
reality and great magnitude which had not yet been adequately explained.
The mental faculties and their operations, the moral laws that are
universally recognized and appealed to, the social institutions which
have been established, the religious beliefs and feelings which have
generally prevailed, and the rites of worship which have been observed
in all ages and climes, were so widely different from the phenomena of
mere vegetable or animal life, that they seemed to demand a distinct
account of their origin; and it might not be apparent, at first sight,
how they could be reduced under the same all-pervading law by which the
planets were formed, so as to exclude all idea of Divine supernatural
interposition. This Herculean task was fearlessly undertaken, however,
by M. AUGUSTE COMTE, and it has been elaborated with singular ability in
his ponderous work, the "Cours de Philosophie Positive."

M. Comte's Course of Positive Philosophy began to be delivered at Paris
in the winter of 1829-30, and was completed in its published form in
1842-43. It comprehends a general outline of all the branches of
Inductive Science, and of the relations which they bear to each other;
and they are expounded in a style singularly copious, clear, and
forcible. He has acquired, in consequence, a high reputation as a
philosophical thinker, and has already found, in our own country, some
able allies, and not a few enthusiastic admirers. The "System of Logic,"
by John Stuart Mill, and "The Biographical History of Philosophy," by
G. H. Lewes, are avowedly indebted to his speculations for some of their
most characteristic contents; while the outline of his theory has been
presented to the more popular class of readers in England through the
columns of "The Leader," and in Scotland through those of "The Glasgow
Mechanics' Journal."

It is not my intention, nor is it necessary for my present purpose, to
offer any remarks on the strictly scientific portion of his voluminous
work. I shall confine myself exclusively to those speculations which
bear, more or less directly, on the great cause of Natural and Revealed
Religion, selecting them from all the various parts of his work, and
exhibiting them, in one comprehensive view, as a compact theory of
absolute and avowed Atheism.

The fundamental idea of his system is a supposed "law of the development
of human thought," which regulates and determines the whole progress of
the species in the acquisition of knowledge. This law is announced with
the air of a man who has made a great discovery, and who is entitled, in
consequence, to be regarded both as an original thinker, and as a
benefactor to the world. "I believe," he says, "that I have discovered a
grand fundamental law,"--"the fundamental law of the development of the
human mind;" ... "the grand law which I have indicated in the first part
of my system of Positive Politics, ... where I have divulged, for the
first time, the discovery of this law."[57] Now, what, it may be asked,
is this marvellous discovery, which bids so fair both to immortalize its
author and to enlighten the world? It is stated briefly in the _first_,
and illustrated at greater length in the _fourth_ and following volumes
of his work. The general outline of his theory is thus sketched: "That
law consists in this,--that each one of our leading conceptions, every
branch of our knowledge, passes successively through _three different
theoretic states_: the state theological or fictitious, the state
metaphysical or abstract, and the state scientific or positive. In other
words, the human mind, by its nature, employs successively, in each of
its researches, three methods of philosophizing, whose character is
essentially different, and even _radically opposed_: first, the
Theological method; then, the Metaphysical; and, last of all, the
Positive. Hence three systems of Philosophies, which _mutually exclude
each other_. The first is the necessary starting-point of the human
mind; the third is its fixed, ultimate state; the second is purely
provisional, and destined merely to serve as an intermediate stage."[58]

These are the _three_ great stages through which the collective mind of
Humanity must necessarily pass in its progressive advancement towards a
perfect knowledge of truth; but of these three, the _first_, or the
Theological Epoch, is again subdivided, and exhibited as commencing with
Fetishism, then advancing to Polytheism, and finally consummated in

FETISHISM is supposed to have been the first form of the Theological
Philosophy; and it is described as consisting in the ascription of a
life and intelligence essentially analogous to our own to every existing
object, of whatever kind, whether organic or inorganic, natural or
artificial. It is traced to a primitive tendency, supposed to exist
equally in man and in the lower animals, to conceive of all external
objects as animated, and to ascribe to them the same, or similar, powers
and feelings with those which belong to the living tribes
themselves.[59] "Let an infant, for example, or a savage, on the one
hand, and, on the other hand, a dog or a monkey, behold a watch for the
first time, there will doubtless be no immediate profound difference,
unless in respect to the manner of representing it, between the
spontaneous conception which will represent to the one and the other
that admirable product of human industry as a sort of veritable animal,
having its own peculiar tastes and inclinations; whence results,
consequentially, in this respect, a Fetishism fundamentally common to
both, the former only having the exclusive privilege of being able
ultimately to get out of it." This instinctive and spontaneous
belief--the natural, and, indeed, the necessary result of a tendency
inherent in living beings--is conceived to have been an indispensable
and a most useful provision for the primeval state of man, and to have
exerted a highly salutary influence on the progressive development of
human thought. It is contrasted with the subsequent but more advanced
stage of Polytheism;[60] and the latter is held to denote a spontaneous
belief in supernatural beings, distinct from and even independent of
matter, since it is passively subject to their will; while the former
considers matter itself as animated, and has no idea of any higher or
more spiritual form of being. It is further supposed that idolatry,
properly so called, belongs to Fetishism only, and not at all to
Polytheism, for this singular, but not very conclusive reason, among
others, that if Polytheism be justly chargeable with idolatry because it
recognizes many wills superior to Nature and having power over it,
Catholicism would be equally liable to the same charge in respect of the
homage which it renders to saints and angels![61]

But Fetishism is only the initial step in the process of our
intellectual development; and it passes into Polytheism, not suddenly
and _per salium_, but slowly and gradually, through the intermediate
stage of "_Astrolatrie_," or the worship of the heavenly bodies. The
mind is imperceptibly divested of the idea that everything around it is
animated, and, by a process of real, but as yet imperfect
generalization, it rises from Fetishism to Polytheism; in which latter
system of belief an order of powers superior to Nature is recognized,
while as yet there is no conception of a supreme and all-perfect Mind.
The Polytheistic system, which prevailed so universally in the ancient
world, and which still prevails among Heathen nations, is supposed to
have been, not a _declension_ from a purer and better state, not a
_corruption_ either of natural or revealed religion, but _a step in
advance_ of the primary faith of mankind, a result of growing
intelligence, a vast and most beneficial change in the right direction.
It was the first great product of the metaphysical spirit, the result of
an early but imperfect generalization; it constituted the principal era
of the theological history of mankind; it was admirably adapted, and,
indeed, indispensably necessary, to the exigencies of society at the
time when it prevailed; it was more intensely religious than Monotheism
itself, since it brought man habitually into contact with a multitude of
gods, whose symbols were always present and visible to the eye, while it
exerted a wholesome influence on Science, on Poetry, on Industry, on
Morals, and, indeed, on the whole process of man's mental and social

But Polytheism, although indispensable and salutary as a provisional
belief, was not destined to be permanent; it was to be superseded in due
time, at least in the case of the _élite_ of humanity, by the higher and
still more abstract system of Monotheism, which is regarded as the
natural and inevitable product of human intelligence, independently of
all supernatural teaching, at a certain stage of its development. But
here, as in the former instance, the change is not effected suddenly;
the human mind advances gradually from Polytheism to Monotheism, through
the intermediate stage of the idea of Immutability or Destiny,--an idea
suggested partly by the study of the invariable order of Nature, and
partly by the irresistible domination of one great temporal power, such
as the iron empire of Rome.[63] Historically, indeed, Monotheism is said
to have spread in Europe through the Jews, who derived it from Egypt;
but it is added that, had there been no Jews, others would have given
birth to a system so necessary for the development of human thought. The
prevalence of Monotheism, for a limited time, was useful, and even
necessary, as the natural result of the great law of human progress,
and the indispensable precursor of a new and brighter era; but it was
temporary and provisional merely,--a stage in the onward march of
development, not the ultimate landing-place of human thought. It is
conceived to be radically incompatible with the recognition of
invariable natural laws, and even with the exercise of the industrial
arts.[64] It is, however, the last and highest form of the Theological
Philosophy; and, having reached this stage, the human mind necessarily
advances beyond it, until it arrives at a point where all theology
disappears, and where it is entirely and forever emancipated from all
the beliefs, the hopes, and the fears which have any reference to an
invisible spiritual world.

The ultimate goal of speculative thought is "the Positive Philosophy,"
which treats only of the Facts of Nature, and of their coördination
under general laws, to the utter exclusion of all supernatural powers,
and of all knowledge of causes, whether _efficient_ or _final_. But this
goal cannot be reached, it seems, by a sudden or abrupt transition from
the Theological to the Atheistic creed. There must be an intermediate
stage,--the era, in short, of Metaphysics,--during which the process of
Criticism will operate as a solvent on all previous beliefs, and by
producing Skepticism, in the first instance, in regard to all other
systems, will tend at length to concentrate the attention of mankind
exclusively on the truths of Inductive Science. The Metaphysical
Philosophy is held to be the necessary, but temporary stage of
transition from the theological to the positive method in science. It is
destined to supersede the one, and to introduce the other. It is
conceived to be equally at variance with both; and the era of its
ascendency is described as a critical, destructive, revolutionary age,
useful only as it delivers mankind from the shackles of former beliefs,
and prepares them for the adoption of a new and purely natural system
of thought. During this era of decomposition there will commence the
reconstruction of human opinion on new and more solid foundations; and
the transition from Monotheism to Positive Science will be the greatest
achievement of the race, greater far than the advancement from Fetishism
to Polytheism, or even from Polytheism to Monotheism itself. The
culminating point of human progress is absolute and universal

Surely such a prospect may well arrest the most thoughtless, and prompt
them to inquire, with some measure of moral earnestness, What _is_ this
Positive Philosophy, this ultimate landing-place of human thought, this
final goal of human progress? Is it nothing else than the Inductive
Science of Bacon, but under a new and less attractive name? or is it a
philosophy radically different from it, and entitled, therefore, to be
regarded as an original method? The author tells us that he might have
called it "Natural Science," or "the Philosophy of Nature," since it
treats of Facts and their Laws; but that he had been induced to prefer
the distinctive title of _positive_, as one better fitted to mark the
contrast between it and the _negative_ character of those metaphysical
and theological systems which it is destined to supersede. And yet it
will be found that, in so far as it differs at all from the Inductive
Science of Bacon, it is purely _negative_, since its chief
characteristic is the negation of all Theology, and the entire exclusion
from the domain of human knowledge, of Causes, whether efficient or
final. It _adds_ nothing to the sum of human thought which might not be
reached by Bacon's method; it only _subtracts_ whatever has reference to
the Divine and Supernatural, and especially everything connected with
the theory of Causation. It makes no new contribution to the general
stock, unless, indeed, it be the hitherto unknown law of development
which is supposed to regulate and determine the progress of humanity
from primeval Fetishism to ultimate Atheism; and it takes away Theology,
with all its ennobling beliefs and blessed hopes, not by grappling with
and solving, but by merely discarding the problem both of the origin and
end of the world.

That this is a correct account of the new theory is evident from his own
words: "The fundamental character of the Positive Philosophy is, to
regard all phenomena as subjected to invariable natural _laws_, the
precise discovery of which, and their reduction to the least possible
number, is the end of all our efforts; while we regard the investigation
of what are called _causes_, whether first or final, as absolutely
_inaccessible and void of sense for us_." ... "We have no pretension to
expound the producing causes of the phenomena, for in that we can never
do more than push back the difficulty; we seek only to analyze with
exactitude the circumstances of their production, and to connect them
with one another by the normal relations of _succession and
similitude_."--"In the positive state of science, the human mind,
acknowledging the impossibility of obtaining absolute knowledge,
abandons the search after the _origin and destination_ of the universe,
and the knowledge of the secret _causes_ of phenomena."[66]

It is thus plainly announced that the Positive Philosophy is the science
of facts and their laws, exclusive of all reference to causes, efficient
or final; and it is even admitted that Theology could not be excluded,
were it deemed legitimate or possible for the human mind to investigate
the causes of phenomena.

Viewing the theory in this light, we submit the following remarks as a
sufficient antidote to this daring but impotent attempt to exclude
Theology from the domain of human knowledge.

1. It is worthy of notice how completely the Infidel party have shifted
their ground and changed their tactics since the era of the first French
Revolution; and how utterly inconsistent are the arguments of M. Comte
and the Positive School with those of Voltaire and the Encyclopedists.
Formerly, Religion was wont to be ascribed to priestcraft; it was
supposed to have been invented by fraud, supported by falsehood, and
professed in hypocrisy; and the Church, but especially the hierarchy of
Rome, was the object of incessant ridicule or malignant abuse. But now,
Religion is discovered to be the natural, necessary, and salutary result
of the legitimate action of the human faculties in the earlier stages of
their development, the initial impellent of social progress, the
indispensable condition of advancing civilization; and, on the broad,
general principle that sincerity of conviction is essential to
wide-spread success, the theory which ascribes its origin to the fraud
or the policy, whether of kings, or priests, or fanatics, is scouted as
a mere delirium of Voltaire, or as one of those revolutionary prejudices
of his disastrous era which were alike irrational and injurious. And the
Church, so far from being ridiculed or maligned, is lauded above measure
as the highest extant product of _human_ wisdom; Catholicism is even
preferred to Christianity itself, as a manifest improvement on the more
primitive form of faith and worship; it is declared to be the
indispensable basis of the future reorganization of society, which, when
it shall have been freed from all theological influence, its only point
of weakness, will still survive, with its separate speculative class,
its imposing public forms, and its splendid hierarchy,--an Atheistic
society, but still Catholic and One.[67] The change, in this respect,
between the opinions which prevailed, respectively, at the era of the
_first_ and that of the _second_ Revolution, is at once striking and
instructive. It shows how variable and vacillating is the wretched creed
of Infidelity, and how the firm maintenance of truth will eventually
compel the homage, even where it may not succeed in carrying the
convictions, of speculative minds. That Religion in all its successive
forms, from the rudest Fetishism up to the sublimest Christian
Monotheism, has been the natural and genuine product of human
intelligence, working ever onward and upward to a still higher stage of
development,--that its existence was inevitable, and its influence, on
the whole, highly beneficial,--and that, even when it shall have passed
away, society will still be largely indebted to it for the impulse, yet
unspent, which it has imparted to the cause of civilization and
progress,--all this is admitted and even maintained by M. Comte, in
direct and often derisive opposition to the theorists who once ascribed
its origin to fraud, and its prevalence to priestcraft; nay, he elevates
it to the rank of a primordial and indispensable element of human
progress, a necessary and legitimate result of the great law of human
development. We know of no parallel instance of a change of opinion so
great and sudden, unless it be the marvellous transition of certain
modern Rationalists who were wont to ridicule the doctrine of the
Trinity as absurd and incomprehensible, but who have now arrived at the
conclusion that it is the fundamental law of human thought![68]

Still, with all this outward homage to Religion, considered as a mere
matter of history, the theory of M. Comte is essentially and even
avowedly Atheistic. It is mainly designed to account for the origin of
all Religion, whether Natural or Revealed, without having recourse to
the supposition either of the existence of God, or of his interposition
at any time in the affairs of men. He seems to have proposed to himself
a twofold object: _first_, to account for the prevalence of the various
forms of natural religion and superstition, without recognizing any
valid evidence for the existence of supernatural powers; and,
_secondly_, to account for the origin of Judaism and Christianity, or,
as he calls it, of Monotheism, without recognizing the reality of any
Divine Revelation. And he attempts to accomplish _both_ objects by means
of the same law--a law of development which, in primitive times,
produced Fetishism--which then produced Polytheism; then Monotheism;
then the Metaphysical transition era, during which all Theology is
undergoing a process of disintegration and decay; and, last of all (the
noblest, because the latest, birth of time), the Positive Philosophy,
under whose predicted ascendancy all Theology must die and be buried in
everlasting oblivion. His theory is not merely Anti-Protestant, although
it is bitterly so;[69] nor merely Anti-Christian, as opposed to all
Revelation; but it is Anti-Theological, as opposed to all Religion. It
proposes to eliminate Theology from the scheme of our knowledge, by
showing that it is utterly inaccessible to our faculties, and neither
necessary to society nor useful to morals.[70] It anticipates the time,
as being near at hand, when it shall have no existence, save on the
historic page.

2. This Atheistic theory rests entirely on a supposed discovery of M.
Comte,--the discovery of _a law of human development_, which serves at
once to account for the origin and prevalence of Theological beliefs in
the past, and to insure their utter disappearance in the future; a law
which, like the magician's wand, can raise the apparition, and then lay
it again! Now, of this law we affirm and undertake to prove that it is
_utterly groundless_; that it has no solid basis of evidence on which it
can be established; that it is contradicted by the history of the
world, and opposed to our own experience at the present day.

It can scarcely be imagined that a man accustomed, as M. Comte has been,
to the severe pursuits of Science, could give publicity to a law of this
kind, and claim the credit of a great original discovery, without having
some plausible reasons to plead for it; and he does assign certain
reasons for his belief, which are, it may be safely affirmed, as
frivolous and inconclusive as any that have ever been offered in support
of the most baseless revery. They may be reduced to THREE; the _first_,
derived from our cerebral organization; the _second_, from the history
of a certain portion of our species; the _third_, from the analogy of
our individual experience.[71]

He founds, in the first instance, on our _cerebral organization_. He is
an ardent admirer of Drs. Gall and Spurzheim, and has no scruple in
avowing himself a decided Materialist. It is unnecessary here to enter
on a discussion of Materialism, or even of Phrenology,--that will be
done hereafter; in the mean time it is enough merely to indicate the
fact that the theory proceeds on that ground, and then to inquire _how
the fundamental law of Development is deduced from it_. How does the
theory of Materialism, or even of Phrenology, were it assumed on the one
side and admitted on the other, contribute to the establishment or
verification of that law? Suppose it to be conceded that every mental
faculty or propensity has a distinct cerebral organ, or, more generally,
that the brain may be divided into three parts, representing,
respectively, the animal propensities, the more elevated sentiments, and
the intellectual faculties; could it be rationally inferred from this
concession that human nature must necessarily develop itself after a
certain order or method, and especially in the precise way that is
indicated in M. Comte's law? Would it prove that Man must needs pass,
in the process of his mental and social development, through _three_
distinct and successive stages,--the preparatory Theological state, the
transitory Metaphysical state, and the final Positive state? Would it
prove that Religion must first exist as Fetishism, then as Polytheism,
then as Monotheism, and thereafter disappear from the earth altogether
on the advent of M. Comte? He seems to think that there is a real
connection between the cerebral theory and his great fundamental law;
but it is not easy for a common reader to discern or to explain it.
Considering the cranium, according to what he conceives to be the true
anatomical theory, as simply a prolongation of the vertebral
column,--the primitive centre of the whole nervous system,--he argues
that the functions, intellectual and emotional, which are proper to the
upper and anterior parts of it, are less energetic than the animal
propensities, whose organs lie in the lower and posterior region, just
in proportion as they are further removed from the spine; and that, for
this reason, the latter must first come into action, then the
intermediate organs of sentiment, and, last of all, the intellectual
powers. And this doctrine he applies to the verification both of his
otherwise admirable classification of the Sciences, and of his far more
doubtful law of human development. We conceive that if it were
applicable at all to the problem of human progress, it might possibly be
applied to indicate the probable development of an _individual mind_, in
the successive stages of infancy, youth, and manhood; but that it does
not admit of the same application to _the history of the race_,
otherwise than by the aid of a very fanciful analogy. We have no faith
in the _a priori_ methods of constructing the chart of human history,
and tracing the necessary course of social progress, which have recently
become so popular in Germany and France. We cannot, with M. Comte,
undertake to solve the problem,--Given three lobes of the brain,
representing the propensities, affections, and intellectual powers, but
differing from each other in size and situation, what will be the future
history of the race,--religious, æsthetic, industrial, metaphysical,
social? We cannot, with M. Cousin, undertake to solve the
problem,--Given three terms, the finite, the infinite, and the relation
between the two, what will be the development of human thought, first,
in the experience of individuals, and, secondly, in the history of
society?[72] All such problems are too high for us. The history of the
human race must be ascertained from the authentic records and extant
monuments of the past, not constructed by theories, or divined by _a
priori_ speculations.

But M. Comte does appeal, in the second instance, to history in
confirmation of his views. He is far from affirming, however, that the
progress of the race, under the operation of his great law of
development, has been either uniform or invariable; on the contrary, he
admits, with regard to India, China, and other nations, comprising
probably the majority of mankind, whose state, intellectually and
socially, has been stationary for ages, that they afford little or no
evidence in support of his theory; and for this, among other reasons, he
confines himself to the history of what he calls the _élite_, or
advanced guard of humanity, and in this way makes it a very "_abstract_"
history indeed![73] Beginning with Greece, as the representative of
ancient civilization, and surveying the history of the Roman empire, and
of its successors in Western Europe, he endeavors to show that the
actual progress of humanity has been, on the whole, in conformity with
his general law. He gives no historical evidence, however, of the
prevalence of Fetishism in primitive times; _that_ is an inference
merely, depending partly on his theory of cerebral organization, and
partly on the assumption that in the savage state, which is
gratuitously supposed to have been the primitive condition of man,
there must have been a tendency to regard every object, natural or
artificial, as endowed with life and intelligence. Polytheism, again, he
conceives to have been a step in advance, an improvement on the
preëxisting state of things, instead of being, as it really was, a
declension from a purer and better faith, an aberration from the light
of Nature, not less than from the lessons of Revelation. He conceives
Monotheism, whether as taught, to the Jews by Moses, or to the world at
large by Christ and his apostles, to have been the natural product of
man's unaided intelligence; and he assumes this, without making a single
reference to the supernatural events by which its publication, in either
instance, is said to have been accompanied, or to the sacred books in
which they are recorded; nay, he does not even name the Founder of the
Christian faith, otherwise than by describing him as "the founder, real
or imaginary, of this great religious system."[74]

In treating, again, of the Critical or destructive system of
Metaphysics, and of the Positive or reconstructive system of the New
Philosophy, he adduces no evidence to show that _the same element_ is
negatived by the one and restored by the other; on the contrary, were
his statement true in all respects, it would only serve to prove that
the Theological element, which is slowly dissipated by Metaphysics, is
formally and finally abjured by Positivism. He assumes and asserts, on
very insufficient grounds, that there is a real, radical, and necessary
contrariety between the facts and laws of Science and the first
principles of Theology, whether natural or revealed; and he anticipates,
therefore, that in proportion as Science advances, Theology must recede,
and ultimately quit the field. He ought to have known that there are
minds in every part of Europe as thoroughly scientific as his own, and
as deeply imbued with the spirit of modern Inductive Philosophy, who,
so far from seeing any discordance between the results of scientific
inquiry and the fundamental truths of Theology, are in the habit of
appealing to the former in proof or illustration of the latter; and who,
the further they advance in the study of the works of Nature, are only
the more confirmed in their belief of a Creative Intelligence and a
Governing Power. It may be that, in his own immediate circle at Paris,
there is a tendency towards Atheism; but, assuredly, no such tendency
exists in the highest and most scientific minds of modern Europe. The
faith of Bacon, Newton, and Boyle, of Descartes, Leibnitz, and Pascal,
in regard to the first principles of Theology, is still the prevailing
creed of the Sedgwicks, the Whewells, the Herschells, and the Brewsters
of the present day.

The only plausible part of his Historical Survey, and that which, in our
apprehension, is the most likely to make some transient impression on
the popular mind, is his elaborate attempt to show, with regard to each
branch of Science, in detail, that it was enveloped during its infancy
in a cloud of superstition; and that just in proportion as the light
shone more clearly, or was more distinctly discerned, the cloud was
gradually dissipated and dispersed, until, one after another, they were
all emancipated from their supposed connection with supernatural causes,
and reduced under fixed natural laws. Confounding Theology with
Superstition, or failing, at least, to discriminate duly between the
two, M. Comte draws a vivid picture of the successive inroads which
Science has made on the consecrated domain of Religion, and represents
the one as receding just in proportion as the other advances. For as the
darkness disappears before the rising sun, whose earliest rays gild only
the loftier mountain peaks, but whose growing brightness spreads over
the lowly valleys and penetrates the deepest recesses of nature, so
Theology gradually retires before the advance of Science, which first
conquers and brings under the rule of natural law the simplest and
least complicated branches, such as Mechanics and Astronomy; then
attacks the more complex, such as Chemistry and Physiology; and, last of
all, advances to the assault of the most difficult, such as Ethics and
Sociology; until, having emancipated each of them successively from
their previous connection with supernatural beliefs, it effects the
entire elimination of Theology, first from the philosophic, and
afterwards from the popular creed of mankind. M. Comte conceives that
the religious spirit has been steadily decreasing throughout the whole
course of human development, from the time when it was universal, in the
form of Fetishism, till it reached its most abstract, but least
influential form in Monotheism; and that now the period of its decline
and fall has arrived, when it is subjected to the powerful solvent of a
Metaphysical and Skeptical Philosophy, and when its ultimate extinction
is certain under the action of Positive Science.

We deem this by far the most dangerous, because it is the most plausible
part of his speculations; so plausible that, even where his reasonings
in support of it may fail to carry the full conviction of the
understanding, they may yet leave behind them a certain impression
unfavorable to faith in Divine things, since they appeal to many
palpable facts in the history of Science, too well attested to be
doubted, and too important to be overlooked. The theory itself--whatever
may be thought of the peculiar form which it has assumed in the hands of
M. Comte--cannot be regarded, in its main and essential features, as one
of his original discoveries; for the general idea on which it rests had
been announced with equal brevity and precision by the celebrated LA
PLACE: "Let us survey the history of the progress of the human mind and
of its errors; we shall there see _final causes constantly pushed back
to the boundaries of its knowledge_. These causes, which Newton pushed
back to the limits of the solar system, were, even in his time, placed
in the atmosphere to explain meteoric appearances. They are nothing
else, therefore, in the eyes of a philosopher, than _the expression of
our ignorance of the true causes_." Supposing this to be a correct
account of the fact, the inference which M. Comte deduces from it might
seem to follow very much as a matter of course,--the inference, viz.,
that in proportion as Science advances and succeeds in subjecting one
department of Nature after another to fixed and invariable laws,
Theology, or the doctrine of Final Causes, must necessarily recede
before it, and, at length, disappear altogether, when human knowledge
has reached its highest ultimate perfection. But is it a correct account
of the fact? Is it true that the doctrine of Final Causes is less
generally admitted, or more dubiously maintained, in regard to those
sciences which have already reached their maturity, than in regard to
those other sciences which are still comparatively in their infancy? Or
is it true that it has lost instead of gaining ground by the progress of
scientific discovery, so as to occupy a narrower space and to hold a
more precarious footing, _now_, than it did in the earlier ages of
ignorance and superstition? Did Final Causes disappear from the view of
Newton when he discovered the law which regulates the movements of the
heavenly bodies? Did Galen or did Paley discard them when they surveyed
the human frame in the light of scientific anatomy? or Harvey, when,
impelled and guided by this doctrine as his governing principle, he
discovered the circulation of the blood? In what departments of Nature,
and in what branches of Science, does the Theistic philosopher or the
Christian divine find the clearest and strongest proofs of order,
adaptation, and adjustment? Is it not in those very departments of
Nature whose laws have been most fully ascertained? in those very
branches of Science which have been most thoroughly matured? Did we
believe Comte and La Place, we should expect to find that the doctrine
of Final Causes and the science of Theology could now find no footing in
the domain of Astronomy, of Physics, or of Chemistry, since in these
departments the phenomena have been reduced, by many successive
discoveries, to rigorous general laws; and that they could only survive
for a brief time by taking refuge in the yet unconquered territory of
Meteorology, Biology, and Social Science. But is it so? Examine the
Series of Bridgewater Treatises, or any other recent philosophical
exposition of the Evidence of Natural Theology, and it will be apparent,
on the most cursory review, that in point of fact the arguments and
illustrations are derived almost entirely from _the more advanced
sciences_; and that, so far from receding or threatening to disappear,
Final Causes have only become more prominent and more striking in
proportion as inquiring men have succeeded in removing the vail from any
department of Nature.

It were easy, indeed, to cull from the records of the past many facts
which might seem to give a plausible aspect to the theory of M. Comte.
We might be told of the early history of Astronomy, when the astrologer
gazed upon the heavens with a superstitious eye, and spoke of the mystic
influence of the planets, and constructed the horoscope for the
calculation of nativities and the prediction of future events. We might
be told of the early history of Anatomy, when, from the entrails of
birds and animals, the _haruspex_ prognosticated the fate of empires and
the fortunes of battle. We might be told of the early history of
Chemistry, when alchemists sought in their concoctions a panacea for all
human evils, and in their crucibles an alkalest or universal menstruum.
We might be told of the early history of Zoölogy, when the augur watched
the flight, the singing, the feeding of birds, and applied them to the
purposes of divination. We might be told of Aëromancy as the earliest
form of Meteorology, and of Geomancy as the earliest form of
Geology.[75] And we might be told of the popular superstitions which
lingered, till a very recent period, among the peasantry of our own
country, and which are now gradually disappearing in proportion as the
light of Religion and Science is diffused.[76] These facts, which appear
on the surface of human history, do unquestionably prove that _there has
been a process of gradual advancement_, by which each of the sciences
has been, in succession, purged of its earlier errors, and placed on a
more solid and enduring basis. But they prove nothing more than this:
they do _not_ prove that these sciences must ultimately supersede
Theology, or that they have a necessary tendency towards Atheism. On the
contrary, we hold that they afford a valid presumption from analogy on
the other side. For suppose, even, that Religion, following the same law
of development which determines the progress of every other branch of
human knowledge, had become incorporated, in its earlier stages, with
many fond and foolish superstitions, the analogy of the other sciences
would lead us to conclude that, just as the reveries of Astrology had
passed away and given place to a solid system of Astronomy,--and as the
vain speculations of Alchemy had been superseded by the useful
discoveries of Chemistry,--and as the arts of Augury and Divination had
finally issued in the inductive science of true Natural History,--so
Theology might also purge itself from the fond conceits which had been
for a time incorporated with it, and still survive, after all
superstition had passed away, as a sound and fruitful branch of the tree
of knowledge.

This is not the precise light, however, in which M. Comte regards
Theology, He does not speak of it as _a distinct and independent
science_, but rather as _a method of Philosophy_, which has been applied
to the explanation of _all_ the departments of Nature; and, viewed in
this light, he objects to it on the ground that Positive Science
peremptorily demands the elimination of all causes, efficient and final,
and, consequently, the exclusion of all reference to God, or to any
supernatural power, in connection with the laws either of the material
or moral world. This is the fundamental basis of his theory. It is
assumed that the recognition of natural laws is incompatible with the
belief in supernatural powers, and that these laws must be invariable
and independent of any superior will. Hence the supposed antagonism
between Theology and Physical Science, which is strongly affirmed by M.
Comte[77]; as if the laws of Nature could not exist unless they were
independent of the Divine will, or as if the arts of industry could not
be pursued, on the supposition of a Providence, without sacrilegious
presumption. The laws for which he contends must have had no author to
establish, and can have no superior will to control them; they had no
beginning, and can have no end; they cannot be reversed, suspended, or
interfered with; they are necessary, immutable, and eternal, not
subordinate to God, but independent of Him; they are, in short, nothing
less than Destiny or Fate, the same that Cudworth describes as the
Democritic, Physiological, or Atheistic Fate, which consists in "the
material necessity of all things without a God."[78] Now, we have no
jealousy of natural laws. We believe in their existence; we believe,
also, in their regular operation in the ordinary course of Nature; but
we deny that they must needs be _independent_ of a supreme will, and
affirm that, being subordinate to that will, they are not necessarily
_invariable_. They are expressly recognized and cordially maintained by
divines, not less than by men of science; but in such a sense as to be
perfectly compatible both with the doctrine of a primitive creation, and
also with the possibility of a subsequent miraculous interposition. The
Westminster Divines explicitly declare that "God, the First Cause, by
His providence, ordereth all things to fall out _according to the nature
of second causes_, either necessarily, freely, or contingently;" and
that "in His ordinary providence, He maketh use of means, but is free to
act without, above, and against them at His pleasure."[79] But M. Comte
will have no laws, however regular, unless they be also invariable, and
independent of any superior will. And, doubtless, if this were the sense
in which Science has established the doctrine of natural laws, it would
be at direct variance with Theology, both Natural and Revealed; and the
antagonism between the two might afford some ground for the belief that,
sooner or later, Theology must quit the field. But it is not the
existence of these natural laws, nor even their regular operation in the
common course of Providence, that is hostile to our religious
beliefs,--it is only the supposition that they are unoriginated,
independent, and invariable; and to assume this without proof, as if it
were a self-evident or axiomatic truth, or to apply it in a process of
historical deduction respecting either the past development or the
future prospects of the race, is such a shameless begging of the whole
question,--that we know of no parallel to it except in the kindred
speculations of Strauss, who assumes the same radical principle, and
gravely tells us that whatever is supernatural must needs be

There is absolutely no evidence, properly historical, that there is any
necessary tendency in the recognition of established natural laws to
supersede Theology, or to introduce an era of universal Atheism. Some
such tendency might exist were these laws conceived of as necessary,
independent, and invariable. But this hypothesis, equally
unphilosophical and irreligious, is not and never has been maintained
by the great body of Inductive inquirers, who see no contradiction
either between the established order of Nature and the supposition of
its Divine origin, or between the operation of natural laws and the
recognition of a supreme, superintending Providence. Nor should it be
forgotten, in this connection, that the evidence in favor of Theism
depends not so much on _the mere laws_ as on _the dispositions and
adjustments_ that are observable in Nature.[81] There is, therefore, no
historical proof to establish the supposed law of human development, and
no rational ground to expect that the progress of Inductive Science will
ever supplant or supersede Theology. It is true that Theology, although
a distinct and independent science, is so comprehensive in its range
that it gathers its proofs and illustrations from _every_ department of
Nature, and that, were it excluded from any one of these, it might, for
the same reason, be excluded from all the rest; but it is not true that
there is any real or necessary antagonism between the laws of Nature and
the prerogatives of God. On the contrary, let our knowledge advance
until _all_ the phenomena both of the Material and Moral worlds shall be
reduced under so many general laws, even then Superstition might
disappear, but Theology would remain, and would only receive fresh
accessions of evidence and strength, in proportion as the wise order of
Nature is more fully unfolded, and its most hidden mysteries disclosed.

We scarcely know whether it is needful to advert at all to the argument
in favor of his theory which M. Comte founds on _the analogy of
individual experience_. It is a transparent fallacy. He tells us that
the race is, like an individual man, Religious in infancy, Metaphysical
in youth, and Positive--that is, Scientific, without being Religious--in
mature manhood.[82] Now, this analogical argument, to have any
legitimate weight, must proceed on the assumption of two facts. The
first is, that the law of individual development commences, in the case,
at least, of all who belong to the _élite_ of humanity, with Theology,
and terminates in Atheism; and the second is, that the individual is, in
this respect, the type or pattern of his race, and that the experience
of the one is only an outline in miniature of the history of the other.
It would be difficult, we think, to establish the truth of either of
these positions by evidence that could be satisfactory to any reflecting
mind. We cannot doubt, indeed, for experience amply attests, that the
religious sensibilities of childhood have often been sadly impaired in
the progress from youth to manhood, and that, after the tumultuous
excitements, whether of speculation or of passion, not a few have sought
a refuge from their fears in the cold negations of Atheism. But is this
the law of development and progress? Is it a law that is uniform and
invariable in its operation? Are there no instances of an opposite kind?
Are there no instances of men whose early religious culture had been
neglected, and who passed through youth without one serious thought of
God and their relation to Him, but who, as they advanced in years, began
to reflect and inquire, and ultimately attained to a firm religious
faith? If such diversities of individual experience are known to exist,
then clearly the result is not determined by any necessary or invariable
law of intellectual development; but must be ascribed to other causes,
chiefly of a moral and practical kind, which exert a powerful influence,
for good or evil, on every human mind. Montaigne speaks of an error
maintained by Plato, "that children and old people were most susceptible
of Religion, as if it sprung and derived its credit from our
weakness."[83] And we find M. Comte himself complaining, somewhat
bitterly, that his _quondam_ friend, the celebrated St. Simon, had
exhibited, as he advanced in years (_cette tendance banale vers une
vague religiosité_), a tendency towards something like Religion.[84]
Cases of this kind are utterly fatal to his supposed law of individual
development, and they must be equally fatal to his theory of the
progress of the human race.

Hitherto we have considered merely the reasons which M. Comte urges in
support of his theory, and have endeavored to show that they are utterly
incapable of establishing it as a valid scientific doctrine. It may be
useful, however, to advert, in conclusion, to some considerations which
afford decisive objections against it, arising from the testimony of
authentic history and the plainest principles of reason.

In so far as the testimony of history and tradition is concerned,
nothing can be more certain than that the progress of the race has
followed a very different course from that which M. Comte has traced out
for it by his grand fundamental law. The theory of a primitive state of
ignorance and barbarism, in which a rude Theology existed, in the form
of Fetishism, is opposed not more to the authority of Scripture, the
earliest record of our race, than to the unanimous voice of antiquity,
which attests the general belief of mankind in a primeval state of light
and innocence. There is a sad but striking contrast between the views
which are generally held by the Christian Theist, and those which are
avowed by M. Comte on this subject. The Christian Theist admits the
doctrine of a primeval Revelation and a pristine state of purity and
peace; M. Comte maintains the doctrine of a primitive barbarism and a
natural aboriginal Superstition. The Christian Theist believes in a fall
subsequent to the creation of man, and ascribes the ignorance and error,
the superstition and idolatry which ensued, to the perversion and abuse
of his intellectual and moral powers; M. Comte affirms that man did not
_fall_, that he did actually _rise_ by a process of slow but
progressive self-elevation, and that, in _advancing_ from Fetishism to
Polytheism, and from Polytheism to Monotheism, and from Monotheism to
Atheism, he has all along been determined by the law of his normal
development. In the view of the Christian Theist, Revelation was the sun
which shed its cheering rays on the first fathers of mankind, and which,
after having been obscured, for a time, by the clouds and darkness of
Superstition, shines out again, clear and strong, under the dispensation
of the Gospel; in the view of M. Comte, Science is the only sun that is
destined to enlighten the world,--a sun which has not yet fully risen,
but which has sent before, as the harbingers of its speedy advent, a few
scattered rays to gild the lofty mountain peaks, while all beneath is
still buried in Cimmerian darkness. The Christian Theist anticipates the
time when the true light which now shineth shall cover the whole earth;
M. Comte predicts its utter and final extinction, when Positive Science
shall have risen into the ascendant. His theory is contradicted by the
history of the past; let us hope that the events of the future will
equally belie his prediction. For Christianity is the only hope of the
world. The prospects of man would be dark indeed on the supposition of
its being abolished. "There might remain among a few of the more
enlightened some occasional glimpses of religious truth, as we find to
have been the case in the Pagan world; but the degradation of the great
mass of the people to that ignorance, and idolatry, and superstition,
out of which the Gospel had emancipated them, would be certain and
complete. This retrograde movement might be retarded by the advantages
which we have derived from that system, whose influence we should
continue to feel long after we had ceased to acknowledge the divinity of
its source. But these advantages would by degrees lose their efficacy,
even as mere matters of speculation, and give place to the workings of
fancy, and credulity, and corruption. A radiance might still glow on
the high places of the earth after the sun of Revelation had gone down;
and the brighter and the longer it had shone, the more gradual would be
the decay of that light and warmth which it had left behind it. But
every where there would be the sad tokens of a departed glory and of a
coming night. Twilight might be protracted through the course of many
generations, and still our unhappy race might be able to read, though
dimly, many of the wonders of the eternal Godhead, and to wind a dubious
way through the perils of the wilderness. But it would be twilight
still; shade would thicken after shade; every succeeding age would come
wrapped in a deeper and a deeper gloom; till, at last, that flood of
glory which the Gospel is now pouring upon the world would be lost and
buried in impenetrable darkness."[85]

M. Comte's theory is liable to another objection, the force of which he
seems, in some measure, although inadequately, to have felt and
acknowledged. The three states or stages, which he describes as
necessarily _successive_, are, in point of fact, _simultaneous_. They do
not mark so many different eras in the course of human progress,--they
denote the natural products of man's intelligence, the constituent
elements of his knowledge in _all_ states of society. The Theological,
the Metaphysical, and the Scientific elements have always coëxisted.
Diverse as they may be in other respects, they resemble each other in
this,--they are all the natural and spontaneous products of man's
intelligent activity. That they were, to a certain extent,
_simultaneous_ at first, and that they are _simultaneous_ still, is
actually admitted by M. Comte, while he conceives, nevertheless, that
they are radically incompatible with each other;[86] and their
coexistence hitherto is felt by him to be a serious objection to his
fundamental law, which represents them not only as _necessarily
successive_, but also as _mutually exclusive_. The fact is admitted, and
that fact is fatal to his whole theory. For if the three methods have
coexisted hitherto, why may they not equally coexist hereafter? And what
ground is left for the reckless prediction that Theology is doomed, and
_must_ fall before the onward march of Positive Science? If man was able
from the beginning to observe, to compare, to abstract, and to
generalize, and if the fundamental laws of human thought have been ever
the same, it follows that there must have been a tendency, coeval with
the origin of the race, towards Theological, Metaphysical, and Inductive
Speculation, and that the same tendency must continue as long as his
powers remain unchanged. It can only, therefore, be a _preponderance_,
more or less complete, of one of the three methods over the other two,
that we should be warranted in expecting, _even under the operation of
M. Comte's favorite law_; and yet he boldly proclaims the utter
exclusion of Metaphysics, and the entire and everlasting elimination of
Theology, as branches of human knowledge!

M. Comte's theory is still more vulnerable at another point. The
fundamental assumption on which it is based is utterly groundless. It
amounts to this, that all knowledge of causes, whether efficient or
final, is interdicted to man, and incapable of being reached by any
exertion of his faculties.[87] He tells us that Theology is impossible,
for this reason, that, in the view of the Positive Philosophy, all
knowledge of causes is absolutely excluded; nay, he admits that Theology
is inevitable if we inquire into causes at all. We know of no simpler or
more effectual method of dealing with his specious sophistry on this
subject, than by showing that, if his general principle be conclusive
against the knowledge of God, it is equally conclusive against the
knowledge of any other being or cause; just as Sir James Mackintosh
dealt with the skeptical philosophy of Hume, when, with admirable
practical sagacity, he said: "As those dictates of experience which
regulate conduct must be the objects of belief, all objections which
attack them, in common with the principles of reasoning, must be utterly
ineffectual. Whatever attacks every principle of belief, can destroy
none. As long as the foundations of knowledge are allowed to remain on
the same level with the maxims of life, the whole system of human
conviction must continue undisturbed.... Skepticism has practical
consequences of a very mischievous nature. This is because its
_universality_ is not steadily kept in view and constantly borne in
mind. If it were, the above short and plain remark would be an effectual
antidote to the poison. But, in practice, it is an armory from which
weapons are taken to be employed against _some_ opinions, while it is
hidden from notice that the same weapons would equally cut down _every
other_ conviction. It is thus that Mr. Hume's _theory of causation_ is
used as an answer to arguments for the existence of the Deity, without
warning the reader that it would equally lead him to expect--that _the
sun will not rise to-morrow_."[88]

The exclusion of all knowledge of causes is so indispensable to M.
Comte's theory that he admits "the inevitable tendency of our
intelligence towards a philosophy radically Theological, as often as we
seek to penetrate, on whatever pretext, into the intimate nature of the
phenomena."[89] The exclusion of such knowledge would, of course, be
fatal to Theology, since, without taking some account of causes,
efficient and final, we cannot rise to God as the author of the
universe. But did it never occur to M. Comte that the self-same
principle may possibly be destructive of his present, or, at least, of
his posthumous fame, as the author of the Positive Philosophy? For, if
we can know nothing of _efficient causes_, in what sense, or on what
ground, shall any one presume to ascribe the authorship of this system
to M. Comte? True, it may be said,--Here is an effect which exhibits
manifest signs of intelligence, order, and scientific skill; its parts
are regularly adjusted and all directed to a common end; and, reasoning
after the _teleological_ method, we must infer that it proceeded from a
very clever, but somewhat eccentric mind; but, unfortunately, _final
causes_ are as expressly interdicted as efficient ones; and, on the
principles of his own theory, the "Course of Positive Philosophy" can
never be warrantably ascribed to the authorship of M. Comte.

A still more serious objection to M. Comte's theory respecting the law
of human development arises from the false view which it exhibits of
_the nature and history of Truth_, considered as the object of human
knowledge. It is a favorite opinion with him, that man can have no
_absolute_ knowledge; that truth is not fixed, but fluctuating; that
what was believed in one age, and believed _necessarily_, according to
the fundamental laws of thought, is as necessarily disbelieved in the
next; and that there is no standard of truth at any time better or surer
than the public opinion, or general consent, of the most advanced
classes of society.[90] This theory of Truth, as necessarily mobile and
fluctuating, has a tendency, we think, to engender universal skepticism,
even when it is stated, with various important modifications, by such
writers as Lamennais and Morell; but, in the hands of M. Comte, it
becomes more dangerous still, since it represents the human race as
having been from the beginning, through a long series of ages, subject
to a law of development which not only _permitted_, but actually
_compelled_ them to believe a lie; and thus casts a dark shade of
suspicion both on the constitution of man and on the government of God.

Such a theory would seem also to preclude all rational calculations
respecting the future progress and prospects of the race. For what
ground can exist for any prognostication in regard to the ulterior
advancement or ultimate destiny of man, if it be true that, in his past
history, Fetishism has passed into Polytheism, and Polytheism into
Monotheism, without any extraneous instruction, and by the mere action
of those inherent laws to which humanity is subject? And, still more, if
it be further true that even now the human mind is in a state of
transition, passing through the crisis of Metaphysical doubt towards the
goal of Positive Atheism, who shall assure us that this will be its last
and final metamorphosis? It does appear to us to be one of the most
singular and perplexing anomalies of his elaborate system, that he can
dogmatize so confidently on the _terminus ad quem_ of human progress,
when from the _terminus a quo_ there has been, according to his own
account, a series of variations so wonderful, and a succession of states
so diverse and opposite, as those which he describes. And yet he
pronounces oracularly that Positive Science is the ultimate
landing-place of human thought, and that universal Atheism is the final
barrier which must needs close and terminate the long series of

We have spoken sternly of his system; we have no wish to speak harshly
of the man. Had we any disposition to do so, there is more than enough
in the personal explanation, prefixed to the closing volume of his work,
effectually to disarm us. We have too much sympathy with the trials of a
vigorous but eccentric mind, struggling in untoward circumstances, and
against an adverse tide, to maintain a position of honorable
independence, to say a word that could wound the feelings or injure the
prospects of a man of science. But it is not unkind to add that his life
might have been a more prosperous one had he devoted himself to the
pursuits of Science, without assailing the truths of Religion; and that
his fame would have been at once more extensive and more enduring had it
been left to repose on his Classification or Hierarchy of the Sciences,
without being associated with the more doubtful merits of his
fundamental law of Man's Development.



This particular phase of the general theory bears less directly on the
subject of our present inquiry than either of the _three_ which have
already passed under review, and yet it has recently been applied in
such a way as may entitle it to a passing notice.

For while the theory of Ecclesiastical Development has a _direct_
relation only to the question in regard to the Rule of Faith, it has
also an _indirect_ or _collateral_ relation to the truths of Natural as
well as of Revealed Religion; and this relation demands for it,
especially in the existing state of theological speculation, the earnest
attention of all who are concerned for the maintenance even of the
simplest and most elementary articles of Divine truth.

The most elaborate and systematic exposition of this theory is exhibited
in the "Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, by JOHN HENRY
NEWMAN;" an Essay primarily directed to the discussion of the points of
difference between the Popish and the Protestant Churches, but which
will be found to have an important bearing, also, on some doctrines
which are common to both, and especially on the fundamental articles of
Natural Religion itself.

It is thus stated by Mr. Newman:[91] "That the increase and expansion of
the Christian Creed and Ritual, and the variations which have attended
the process in the case of individual writers and churches, are the
necessary attendants on any philosophy or polity which takes possession
of the intellect and heart, and has had any wide or extended dominion;
that, from the nature of the human mind, time is necessary for the full
comprehension and perfection of great ideas; and that the highest and
most wonderful truths, though communicated to the world once for all by
inspired teachers, could not be comprehended all at once by the
recipients, but, as received and transmitted by minds not inspired, and
through media which were human, have required only the longer time and
deeper thought for their full elucidation. This may be called _the
Theory of Developments_."

It is further illustrated as follows: "It is sometimes said that the
stream is clearest near the spring. Whatever use may fairly be made of
this image, it does not apply to the history of a philosophy or sect,
which, on the contrary, is more equable, and purer, and stronger, when
its bed has become deep, and broad, and full. It necessarily rises out
of an existing state of things, and, for a time, savors of the soil. Its
vital element needs disengaging from what is foreign and temporary, and
is employed in efforts after freedom, more vigorous and hopeful as its
years increase. Its beginnings are no measures of its capabilities, nor
of its scope. At first, no one knows what it is, or what it is worth. It
remains, perhaps, for a time, quiescent; it tries, as it were, its
limbs, and proves the ground under it, and feels its way. From time to
time it makes essays which fail, and are, in consequence, abandoned. It
seems in suspense which way to go; it wavers, and, at length, strikes
out in one definite direction. In time it enters upon strange territory;
points of controversy alter their bearing; parties rise and fall about
it; dangers and hopes appear in new relations, and old principles
reappear under new forms; it changes with them, in order to remain the
same. In a higher world it is otherwise; but here below _to live is to
change, and to be perfect is to have changed often_."[92]

In answer to the objection, "that inspired documents, such as the Holy
Scriptures, at once determine the doctrines which we should believe," it
is replied, "that they were intended to create an idea, and that idea is
not in the sacred text, but in the mind of the reader; and the question
is, whether that idea is communicated to him, in its completeness and
minute accuracy, on its first apprehension, or expands in his heart and
intellect, and comes to perfection in the course of time. Nor could it
be maintained without extravagance that the letter of the New Testament,
or of any assignable number of books, comprises a delineation of all
possible forms which a Divine message will assume when submitted to a
multitude of minds."[93]

What relation, it may be asked, can this theory respecting the
development of revealed or Christian truth bear to the question of the
being and perfections of God? We answer, that it is founded on a general
philosophical principle which may affect the truths of natural as well
as those of revealed Religion; and that it is applied in such a way as
to show that, as it has already led to the worship of angels and saints,
so it may hereafter issue in the deification of Nature, which is
Pantheism, or in the separate worship of its component parts, which is
Polytheism; and, in either case, the personality and supremacy of the
one only, the living and the true God, would be effectually superseded,
if not explicitly denied.

But, is there any real danger of such a disastrous consummation? We
answer, that the mere coexistence of the theory of Ecclesiastical
Development with the infidel speculations on the doctrine of Human
Progress is of itself an ominous symptom; and, further, that the mutual
interchange of complimentary acknowledgments between the Infidel and
Popish parties is another, especially when both are found to coincide in
some of the main grounds of their opposition to Scripture as the supreme
rule of faith, and when the homage which the advocates of Development
render to the theory of progress is responded to by glowing eulogiums
from the infidel camp on the genius of Catholicism as the masterpiece of
human policy. But there are other grounds of apprehension, arising more
directly out of the very nature of the theory of Development itself.

That theory has been described by Dr. Brownson--himself a convert to
Catholicism--as the product of "a _school_ formed, at first, outside of
the Church, but now brought within her communion," and compared, in
regard to its dangerousness, with the speculations of Hermes and
Lamennais.[94] And a still more competent judge--Professor Sedgwick, of
Cambridge[95]--has characterized it as "a monstrous compound of Popery
and Pantheism," according to which "the Catholic faith is not a religion
revealed to us in the Sacred Books we call canonical, and in the works
of the Fathers which are supposed to contain the oral traditions of the
Apostles and their followers; but a new Pantheistic element is to be
fastened on the faith of men,--a principle of Development which may
overshadow both the _verbum Dei scriptum_ and the _verbum Dei non
scriptum_ of the Romish Church, and change both the form and substance
of primitive Christianity."

It is only justice to Mr. Newman to say that he appears to have been
aware of this possible objection to his theory, and that he makes an
attempt to obviate it. Speaking of the difficulty which the Church
experienced in keeping "Paganism out of her pale," he adverts to "the
_hazard which attended on the development_ of the Catholic ritual,--such
as the honors publicly assigned to saints and martyrs, the formal
veneration of their relics, and the usages and observances which
followed." And he asks: "What was to hinder the rise of a sort of
refined Pantheism, and the overthrow of Dogmatism _pari passu_ with the
multiplication of heavenly intercessors and patrons? If what is called
in reproach 'Saint-worship' resembled the Polytheism which it
supplanted, or was a corruption, how did Dogmatism survive? Dogmatism is
a religious profession of its own reality as contrasted with other
systems; but Polytheists are liberals, and hold that one religion is as
good as another. Yet the theological system was developing and
strengthening, as well as the monastic rule, all the while the ritual
was assimilating itself, as Protestants say, to the Paganism of former

It seems to be admitted in these words, that, in the _past_ history of
the Church, the development of the Catholic ritual _was_ attended with
some danger of infection from Paganism or Pantheism; and there may be
equal reason to fear that, in the _future_ history of the Church, still
working on the principle of development, that danger may be very
considerably aggravated by the general prevalence of theories utterly
inconsistent with the faith of primitive times. What the Church has
already done in the exercise of her developing power may be only a
specimen of what she may hereafter accomplish. She has already
developed Christianity into a system which bears a striking resemblance
to Polytheism; she may yet develop it more fully, so as to bring it into
accordance with philosophical Pantheism; or, retaining both forms,--for
they are not necessarily exclusive of each other,--she may use the first
in dealing with the ignorant, and reserve the second as a sort of
esoteric doctrine for minds of higher culture. Nor let it be said that
we are either unjust or uncharitable towards the Romish Church, in
suggesting the possibility of some such development; for what she has
already done, and what she still claims the power of doing, afford very
sufficient ground for our remarks. When Dr. Conyers Middleton published
his celebrated "Letter from Rome," showing an exact conformity between
Popery and Paganism, and that "the religion of the present Romans is
derived from that of their Heathen ancestors," many liberal Catholics
resented the imputation as an insult to their faith; but now Mr. Newman
not only admits the fact that the Church did _assimilate_ its ritual to
the Paganism of former ages, but vindicates her right to do so, and
ascribes to her _a power of assimilation_ to which it seems impossible
to assign any limits. "There is, in truth," says this writer, "a certain
virtue or grace in the Gospel, which changes the quality of doctrines,
opinions, usages, actions, and personal characters, which become
incorporated with it, and makes them right and acceptable to its Divine
Author, when before they were either contrary to truth, or, at best, but
shadows of it."--"Confiding, then, in the power of Christianity to
resist the infection of evil, and to _transmute the very instruments and
appendages of demon worship to an Evangelical use_, ... the rulers of
the Church from early times were prepared, should the occasion arise, to
adopt, or imitate, or sanction _the existing rites and customs of the
populace_, as well as _the philosophy of the educated class_."--"The
Church can extract good from evil, or, at least, gets no harm from it.
She inherits the promise made to the disciples, that they should take
up serpents, and, if they drank any deadly thing, it should not hurt
them."--"It has borne, and can bear, principles or doctrines which, in
other systems of religion, quickly degenerate into _fanaticism or
infidelity_." This marvellous power of assimilation, which made "those
observances pious in Christianity" that were "superstitions in
Paganism," advanced, rapidly in its work, and successively introduced
the deification of man, the _cultus_ of angels and saints, and the
beatification of Mary as Queen of heaven and earth. The sanctification,
or rather _the deification of the nature of Man_, is one of these
developments. Christ "is in them, because He is in human nature; and He
communicates to them that nature, deified by becoming His, that it may
_deify_ them." The worship of saints is another of these developments:
"Those who are known to be God's adopted sons in Christ are fit objects
of worship on account of Him who is in them.... Worship is the necessary
correlative of glory; and, in the same sense in which created nature can
share in the Creator's incommunicable glory, do they also share in that
worship which is His property alone." But a "new sphere" was yet to be
discovered in the realms of light, to which the Church had not yet
assigned its inhabitant. "There was 'a wonder in heaven;' a throne was
seen, far above all created powers, mediatorial, intercessory; a title
archetypal; a crown bright as the morning star; a glory issuing from the
Eternal Throne; robes pure as the heavens; and a sceptre over all. And
who was the predestined heir of that Majesty? Who was that Wisdom, and
what was her name?--'the Mother of fair love, and fear, and holy hope,'
exalted like a palm-tree in Engaddi and a rose-plant in Jericho, created
from the beginning before the world in God's counsels, and 'in Jerusalem
was her power.' The vision is found in the Apocalypse, a Woman clothed
with the Sun, and the Moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of
twelve stars." The DEIFICATION of Mary is decreed. The doctrine of her
Immaculate Conception is a further _development_ at the present moment,
and who can tell what other developments may be in store for the future?

We advert to this form of the theory only in so far as it stands related
to our great theme,--the existence, perfections, and prerogatives of the
one only, the living and the true God; and it can scarcely be
questioned, we think, that it has already introduced doctrines and
practices into the Church which have a manifest tendency to obscure the
lustre and impair the evidence of some of the most fundamental articles
of Natural Religion. Let it still advance in the same direction, and who
shall assure us that it may not develop into still grosser idolatry, or
even into Pantheism? Why should it not develop, for example, into Sun
worship? "On the new system," says Professor Butler, "a modern growth of
Christian Guebres might make out no feeble case; the public religious
recognition of this great visible type of the True Light is but a fair
development of 'the typical principle;' the justifiable imitation of the
guilt of heathens in its adoration is but an instance of the
transforming powers of 'the sacramental principle;' while it requires
but the most moderate use of the great instrument of orthodoxy,
'mystical interpretation,' to find the duty hinted (clearly enough for
watchful faith, though obscurely to the blinded or undevout) in those
passages that speak of a 'tabernacle for the Sun,' or Deity itself being
'a Sun,' or the rising of 'the Sun of righteousness.'... Indeed, the
whole body of the righteous are promised to 'shine as the Sun' in the
heavenly kingdom,--an expression which, though it appear superficially
to refer to a period not yet arrived, the Church has correctively
developed into an assurance of their present beatification, and
consequent right to worship; while it must be at once manifest that, if
any representative emblem of the Deity may demand religious prostration
in our Churches, the analogous emblem of the 'deified,' in the great
temple of the Material Universe, may fairly expect a participation in
that honor. It is true there is an express command, 'Take heed lest,
when thou seest the Sun, ... thou shouldst be driven to worship them;'
but so there is a command, at least as distinct and imperative, against
the worship of _Images_, which, Mr. Newman instructs us, has been
repealed under the Gospel, and was never more than a mere Judaic
prohibition, 'intended for mere temporary observance in the

If it be said that, in the case of the Church of Rome, there is not only
a process of development, but an infallible developing power, and that
this affords a guaranty, strong as the Divine promise itself, against
that risk of error which is attendant on the ordinary methods of human
teaching,--we answer, that this is a mere assumption, which requires to
be proved, and that it cannot be proved in the face of the facts which
attest the historical variations of the Romish Creed, as these are
admitted and defended by Mr. Newman himself. For some of these
variations are not consistent developments of the primitive articles of
faith, but involve either a corruption or a contradiction of these very
principles; and if her infallibility has not preserved her from the
deification of saints, what security have we that it will preserve her
from the deification of Nature? If it has already introduced a Christian
Polytheism, why may it not issue in a Christian Pantheism?

Admit the principle of development, and it may lead to the deification
of man, as well as to the worship of Mary; to a sacred Calendar of
Heroes, as well as of Saints.[98] It may terminate either in Infidelity
or in Superstition, according to the mental temperament of the
individual by whom it is adopted and applied. "An organ of
investigation being introduced, which may be employed for any purpose
indifferently, the tendency of such a theory of religious inquiry will
just tell according to the spirit in which it acts. A skeptic will
develop the principle into Infidelity, a believer into Superstition; but
the principle itself remains accurately the same in both."[99] The
connection between the theory of Ecclesiastical Development and the
infidel theory of Progress has not escaped the notice of many acute and
profound thinkers in recent times, nor the danger resulting from it to
the most fundamental articles of faith. "Modern Spiritualists tell us
that Christianity is a development, as the Papists also assert, and the
New Testament is its first and rudimentary product; only, unhappily, as
the development, it seems, may be things so different as Popery and
Infidelity, we are as far as ever from any criterium as to which, out of
the ten thousand possible developments, is the true; but it is a matter
of the less consequence, since it will, on such reasoning, be _always
something future_."[100] One of the most pernicious tenets of the
Neologists beyond the Rhine is thus expressed by themselves:
"Christianity renews itself in the human heart, and follows _the
development_ of the human mind, and invests itself with new forms of
thought and language, and adopts new systems of Church organization, to
which it gives expression and life." ... "But are these teachers the
_only_ destroyers of Faith and Morals? Are not _they_ also chargeable
with precisely the same offence who command us to submit implicitly to
the so-called divinely-inspired Spirit of '_one_ living Infallible
Judge' or 'Developing Power'? Can we have _fixed_ articles of faith and
morals in this system, any more than in the other? No. '_Unus utrisque
error, sed variis ill[=u]det partibus._' There is the same evil in both,
but it operates in different ways; in the former, every one develops
for himself; in the latter, the Pope develops for every one. You look
with fear on the progress of Rationalism; and what hope can any man
derive from that of Romanism?"[101]

       *       *       *       *       *

We have examined, each on its own peculiar merits, the various forms of
the Theory of Development which have been propounded in modern times,
and applied to account for the origin of planets and astral systems, of
vegetable and animal races, and of the different successive systems of
human opinion and belief. We have found that, imposing as it may seem to
be, and high as its pretensions are, that theory has no claim to the
character of a scientific doctrine; that it is a mere hypothesis, and
nothing more; a speculative figment, which may be injurious to those who
thoughtlessly dally with it, but which can have no power to hurt any one
who will resolutely lay hold of it, and examine its claims.

    "Gently, softly, touch a nettle,
      And it stings you for your pains;
    Grasp it, like a man of mettle,
      And it soft as silk remains."

It is only necessary to add, that _the same general principle_ seems to
be involved in _all_ the forms of this theory,--the principle, namely,
that we are bound to account for the past _only_ by causes known to be
in actual operation at the present day. M. Comte lays it down in the
following terms: "Our conjectures on the origin, or formation of our
world should evidently be subjected to this indispensable
condition,--not to allow of the interposition of any other natural
agents than those whose influence we clearly discern in our ordinary
phenomena, and whose operations, _then_, would only be on a greater
scale. Without this rule, our work can have no truly scientific
character, and we shall fall into the inconvenience, so justly made a
ground of reproach to the greater number of geological hypotheses,--that
of introducing, for the purpose of explaining the ancient revolutions of
the globe, agencies which do not exist at the present day, and whose
influence it is impossible, for that very reason, to verify or even to
comprehend." The same principle is strongly stated, but with due
limitation, by Sir Charles Lyell, who insists on the explanation of all
terrestrial changes by _means of causes and according to laws known to
be in operation at the present day_: "During the progress of Geology,
there have been great fluctuations of opinion respecting the nature of
the causes to which all former changes in the earth's surface are
referable. The first observers conceived that the monuments which the
Geologist endeavors to decipher relate to a period when the physical
constitution of the earth differed entirely from the present, and that,
even after the creation of living beings, there have been causes in
action distinct in kind or degree from these now forming part of the
economy of nature. These views have been gradually modified, and some of
them entirely abandoned."[102]

The general principle which is involved in these and similar statements
may be perfectly sound, when it is applied merely to _natural events_,
occurring in the ordinary course, and according to the established
constitution of the material and moral world; but it is manifestly
inapplicable to _supernatural events_, such as the creation of the
world, or the revelation of Divine truth, since these events cannot be
accounted for by any known natural cause, and must be ascribed to the
immediate agency of a Higher Power. Without some such limitation, the
general principle cannot be admitted, since it would involve an
egregious fallacy. We must not limit Omnipotence by circumscribing the
range of its possible exercise within the narrow bounds of the existing
economy, or of our actual experience. We are not warranted to assume
that the origin of the world, on the one hand, or the establishment of
Christianity on the other, may be accounted for by _natural causes_
still known to be in actual operation. In regard to _natural events_ the
principle is sound, and it is rigorously adhered to by the expounder of
Natural Theology; in regard to _supernatural events_ it can have no
legitimate application, except in so far as it is combined with the
doctrine of efficient and final causes, which leads us up to the
recognition of a Higher Power. It might be safe and legitimate enough,
when we find a fossil organism imbedded in the earth, to ascribe its
production to the ordinary law of generation, even although we had not
witnessed the fact of its birth, provided the same species is known to
have existed previously; but when we find _new races_ coming into being,
for which the ordinary law of derivation cannot account, we are not at
liberty to apply the same rule to a case so essentially different, and
still less to postulate _a spontaneous generation_, or a _transmutation
of species_, for which we have no experience at all. In such a case, we
can only reason on the principle that _like_ effects must have _like_
causes, that marks of _design_ imply a _designing_ cause, and that
events which cannot be accounted for by _natural causes_ must be
ascribed to a Power distinct from nature, and superior to it. It is
manifestly unreasonable to assume that nothing can be brought to pass in
the Universe otherwise than by the operation of the same natural laws
which are now in action; or that, in the course of our limited and
partial experience, we must necessarily know all the agencies that may
have been at work during the long flow of time. And, in accordance with
these views, Sir Charles Lyell expressly limits the general principle to
_natural events_, and shows that "Geology differs as widely from
Cosmogony as speculations concerning the _Creation of Man_ differ from
his _History_."


[28] "Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation," p. 17.

[29] AUGUSTE COMTE, "Cours de Philosophic Positive," II. 363, 376. The
merits of this attempt are very differently estimated by two competent
authorities; by PROFESSOR SEDGWICK in the "Edinburgh Review," No. 82, p.
22; and by SIR DAVID BREWSTER in the "North British Review," No. 3, p.

[30] "Vestiges," p. 11, 23.

[31] WHEWELL, "Indications of a Creator." SEDGWICK'S "Discourse," 5th
edition. "Edinburgh Review," No. 82. SIR D. BREWSTER, "North British
Review," No. 3. PROFESSOR DOD, "Princeton Theological Essays," second
series. H. MILLER, "Footprints of the Creator." T. MONCK MASON,
"Creation by the Immediate Agency of God."

[32] THOMAS MONCK MASON, "Creation by the Immediate Agency of God, as
opposed to Creation by Natural Law; being a Refutation of 'The
Vestiges,'" &c., p. 34.

[33] SIR JOHN HERSCHELL, "Memoir on Nebulæ and Clusters of Stars,"
London Philosophical Transactions, 1833. "Edinburgh Review," No. 82, p.

[34] "North British Review," No. 3, p. 477.

[35] PROFESSOR NICHOL, "The System of the World," Preface, VI., and 108.

[36] Ecclesiastes 12: 1.

[37] LORENZ OKEN, M. D., "Elements of Physio-philosophy,"--reprinted
(unfortunately) under the auspices of the Ray Society, London, 1847.

[38] DR. JOHN BARCLAY, "Inquiry concerning Life and Organization," pp.
33, 36. See also pp. 177, 235, 413, 526.

[39] "Telliamed; ou, Entretiens d'un Philosophe Indien avec un
Missionaire François, sur la Diminution de la Mer, la Formation de la
Terre, l'Origine de l'Homme," 2 vols., 1748.

[40] "Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation," 6th edition, p. 90.

[41] MR. HUGH MILLER, "Footprints of the Creator," p. 226.

[42] "North British Review," 1845, p. 483.

[43] "Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation," p. 92.

[44] "The Vestiges," p. 104.

[45] Ibid.

[46] TODD, "Cyclopædia of Anatomy and Physiology," article, Generation.

[47] MR. HUGH MILLER, "Footprints of the Creator," p. 233. T. MONCK
MASON, "Creation by the Immediate Agency of God." "Princeton Theological
Essays," Second Series, p. 422.

[48] CUVIER, "Ossemens Fossiles," p. 61.

[49] MR. HUGH MILLER, "Footprints," p. 254.

[50] DR. WHEWELL'S "Indications," p. 54.

[51] "Footprints of the Creator," p. 19.

[52] "The Vestiges," p. 105.

[53] "The Vestiges," pp. 91, 96.

[54] "The Vestiges," p. 9.

[55] HUGH MILLER, "Footprints," pp. 13, 15. PROFESSOR DOD, "Princeton
Theological Essays," II. 432.

[56] CICERO, "De Naturâ Deorum," L. II.

[57] M. COMTE, "Cours de Philosophie Positive," I. 3, 6, 14; IV. viii.,
653, 656, 708, 711, 723; V. 1, 9.

[58] M. COMTE, "Cours de la Philosophie Positive," I. 3.

[59] Ibid., V. 30, 42, 50, 96, 98, 101.

[60] M. COMTE, "Cours," V. 37, 75, 91, 101.

[61] Ibid., V. 58, 87, 94, 105, 125, 278.

[62] M. COMTE, "Cours," V. 107, 115, 119, 124, 136, 148, 162, 167, 207,
224, 229.

[63] Ibid., V. 128, 164, 268, 279, 281, 290.

[64] M. COMTE, "Cours," V. 297, 325, 461, 470; VI. 231.

[65] M. COMTE, "Cours," V. 479, 487, 496, 505; VI. 2.

[66] COMTE, "Cours," I. 4, 10; IV. 664, 669, 676, 702.

[67] M. COMTE, "Cours," V. 299, 326, 345; VI. 62, 72, 157, 234, 503,

[68] ABBÉ MARET, "Theodicée Chretienne," p. 218.

[69] M. COMTE, "Cours," V. 327, 344, 369, 538, 582, 684; VI. 137.

[70] Ibid., V. 428, 597, 684, 836; VI. 419, 521, 860.

[71] M. COMTE, "Cours," I. 44, 141; IV. 673; V. 45, 303.

[72] VICTOR COUSIN, "Introduction a l'Histoire de la Philosophie," I.
121. Ibid., "Cours de la Philosophie," III. 2, 464.

[73] M. COMTE, "Cours," V. 3, 5, 22; VI. 32, 481.

[74] M. COMTE, "Cours," V. 382, "Premier fondateur, _réel ou ideal_, de
ce grand systéme religieux."

[75] "Encyc. Britan.," articles "Augury" and "Divination." DR. THOMSON'S
"History of Chemistry."

[76] MR. H. MILLER'S "Scenes and Legends of the North of Scotland."

[77] M. COMTE, "Cours," I. 13; V. 461, 470; VI. 86, 126, 148.

[78] DR. CUDWORTH, "Intellectual System," I. 33.

[79] "Westminster Confession of Faith," chap. V. § 2, 3.

[80] STRAUSS, "Life of Jesus," I. 88. HENRY ROGERS, "Reason and Faith,"
Appendix, p. 96.

[81] DR. CHALMERS' Works, I. "Natural Theology."

[82] M. COMTE, "Cours," I. 7.

[83] MONTAIGNE, "Apology for Raimond de Sebonde," Essays, II. 148.

[84] COMTE, "Cours," VI., Preface, IX.

[85] DR. ANDREW THOMSON, "Sermons on Infidelity," p. 62.

[86] M. COMTE, "Cours," IV. 709: "Je puis affirmer n'avoir jamais trouvé
d'argumentation sérieuse en opposition à cette loi, depuis dix-sept ans
que j'ai eu le bonheur de la decouvrir, si ce n'est celle que l'on
fondait sur la consideration de la _simultaneité jusq'ici necessairement
très commune_, des trois philosophies chez les mêmes intelligences."
"Cours," I. 27, 50, 10: "L'emploi _simultané_ des trois philosophies
radicalement incompatibles,"--"la _coëxistence_ de ces trois
philosophies opposées." See also IV. 683, 694; V. 28, 39, 41, 57, 171;
VI. 26, 31, 34, 155.

[87] M. COMTE, "Cours," I. 14: "En considerant comme _absolument
inaccessible et vide de sens pour nous_ la recherche de ce qu'on appelle
les _causes, soit premières, soit finales_."

[88] SIR JAMES MACKINTOSH, "Encyc., Britan.," Preliminary Dissertation,
p. 354.

[89] M. COMTE, "Cours," IV. 664.

[90] Ibid., VI. 728, 730, 760, 826, 835, 866.

[91] NEWMAN'S "Essay on Development," p. 27.

[92] NEWMAN'S "Essay on Development," p. 38.

[93] Ibid., p. 95.

[94] BROWNSON'S "Quarterly Review," No. 1, p. 43.

[95] SEDGWICK'S "Discourse," Fourth Edition. Preface, CCCXCIII.

[96] NEWMAN'S "Essay," p. 447.

[97] Letters of Rev. W. A. BUTLER on the "Development of Christian
Doctrine," p. 116.

[98] PIERRE LEROUX, "Sur l'Humanite." AUGUSTUS COMTE, "Positive
Calendar." The author gave some account of this in an article
contributed to the "North British Review," May, 1851.

[99] PROFESSOR BUTLER'S "Letters," p. 87.

[100] "Eclipse of Faith," p. 13.

[101] DR. WORDSWORTH, "Letters to M. Gondon," p. 153.

[102] LYELL, "Principles of Geology," I. 75.



At the commencement of the present century, Pantheism might have been
justly regarded and safely treated as an obsolete and exploded
error,--an error which still prevailed, indeed, in the East as one of
the hereditary beliefs of Indian superstition, but which, when
transplanted to Western Europe by the daring genius of Spinoza, was
found to be an exotic too sickly to take root and grow amidst the fresh
and bracing air of modern civilization.

But no one who has marked the recent tendencies of speculative thought,
and who is acquainted, however slightly, with the character of modern
literature, can have failed to discern a remarkable change in this
respect within the last fifty years. German philosophy, always prolific,
and often productive of monstrous births, has given to the world many
elaborate systems, physical and metaphysical, whose most prominent
feature is the deification of Nature or of Man. France, always alert and
lively, has appropriated the ideas of her more ponderous neighbors, and
has given them currency through educated Europe on the wings of her
lighter literature. And even in England and America there are not
wanting some significant tokens of a disposition to cherish a kind of
speculation which, if it be not formally and avowedly Pantheistic, has
much of the same dreamy and mystic character, and little, if any,
harmony with definite views of God, or of the relations which He bears
to man.

One of the most significant symptoms of a reaction in favor of Pantheism
may be seen in the numerous republications and versions of the writings
of Spinoza which have recently appeared, in the public homage which has
been paid to his character and genius, and in the more than philosophic
tolerance--the kindly indulgence--which has been shown to his most
characteristic principles. He is now recognized by many as the real
founder both of the Philosophic and of the Exegetic Rationalism, which
has been applied, with such disastrous effect, to the interpretation
alike of the volume of Nature and of the records of Revelation. In
Germany his works have been edited by Paulus (1803) and by Gfrörer
(1830); in France they have been translated by Emile Saisset, Professor
of Philosophy in the Royal College; while a copious account of his life
and writings has been published by Amand Saintes, the historian of
Rationalism in Germany.[103] All this might be accounted for by
ascribing it simply to the admiration of philosophical thinkers for the
extraordinary talents of the man; and it might be said that his writings
have been reprinted, just as those of Hobbes have been recently
reproduced in England, more as a historical monument of the past than as
a mirror that reflects the sentiments of the present age. But it is more
difficult to explain the eulogiums with which the reappearance of
Spinoza has been greeted, and the cordiality with which his daring
speculations have been received. He has not only been exculpated from
the charge of Atheism, but even panegyrized as a saint and martyr! "That
holy and yet outcast man," exclaimed Schleiermacher,--"he who was fully
penetrated by the universal Spirit,--for whom the Infinite was the
beginning and the end, and the Universe his only and everlasting
love,--he who, in holy innocence and profound peace, delighted to
contemplate himself in the mirror of an eternal world, where, doubtless,
he saw himself reflected as its most lovely image,--he who was full of
the sentiment of religion, because he was filled with the Holy Spirit!"
"Instead of accusing Spinoza of Atheism," says M. Cousin, "he should
rather be subjected to the opposite reproach."[104] "He has been loudly
accused," says Professor Saisset, "of Atheism and impiety.... The truth
is that never did a man believe in God with a faith more profound, with
a soul more sincere, than Spinoza. Take God from him, and you take from
him his system, his thought, his life." "Spinoza, although a Jew," says
the Abbé Sabatier, a member of the Catholic clergy, "always lived as a
Christian, and was as well versed in our divine Testament as in the
books of the ancient Law. If he ended, as we cannot doubt he did, in
embracing Christianity, he ought to be _enrolled in the rank of saints_,
instead of being placed at the head of the enemies of God."

Contrast the language in which Spinoza is now compared to Thomas á
Kempis, and proposed as a fit subject for canonization itself, with the
terms in which he was wont to be spoken of by men of former times; and
the startling difference will sufficiently indicate a great change in
the current of European thought. And if we add to this the
contemporaneous reappearance of such writers as Bruno and Vanini, whose
works have been reprinted by the active philosophical press of Paris, we
may be well assured that it is not by overlooking or despising such
speculations, but by boldly confronting and closely grappling with them,
that we shall best protect the mind of the thinking community from their
insidious and pestilent influence.

But we are not left to _infer_ the existence, in many quarters, of a
prevailing tendency towards Pantheism, from such facts as have been
stated, significant as they are; we have explicit testimonies on the
point, in a multitude of writings, philosophical and popular, which have
recently issued from the Continental press. In a report presented to the
Academy of Sciences, M. Franck, a member of the Institute, represents
Pantheism as the last and greatest of all the Metaphysical systems which
have come into collision with Revelation; and describes it as a theory,
"according to which spirit and matter, thought and extension, the
phenomena of the soul and of the body, are all equally related, either
as attributes or modes, to the same substance or being, at once _one_
and _many_, finite and infinite,--Humanity, Nature, God." Conceiving
that the older forms of error--Dualism and Materialism--have all but
disappeared; and that Atheism, in its gross mechanical form, cannot now,
as Broussais himself said, "find entrance into a well-made head which
has seriously meditated on nature," M. Franck concludes that Pantheism
alone, such as has been conceived and developed in Germany, is likely to
have the power of seducing serious minds, and that it may for a season
exert considerable influence as an antagonist to Christianity.[105] M.
Javari gives a similar testimony. He tells us that "that great lie,
which is called Pantheism (_ce grand mensonge qu'on appelle le
Pantheisme_), has dragged German philosophy into an abyss; that it is
fascinating a large number of minds among his own countrymen; and that
it is this doctrine, rather than any other, which will soon gather
around it all those who do not know or who reject the truth."[106] The
Biographer of Spinoza, referring to the recent progress and prospective
prevalence of these views, affirms that "the tendency of the age, in
matters of Philosophy, Morals, and Religion, seems to incline towards
Pantheism;" that "the time is come when every one who will not frankly
embrace the pure and simple Christianity of the Gospel will be obliged
to acknowledge Spinoza as his chief, unless he be willing to expose
himself to ridicule;" that "Germany is already saturated with his
principles;" that "his philosophy domineers over all the contemporary
systems, and will continue to govern them until men are brought to
believe that word, 'No man hath seen God at any time, but He who was in
the bosom of the Father hath revealed Him;'" that it is this
"Pantheistic philosophy, boldly avowed, towards which the majority of
those writers who have the talent of commanding public interest are
gravitating at the present day;" and that "the ultimate struggle will
be, not between Christianity and Philosophy, but between Christianity
and Spinozism, its strongest and most inveterate antagonist."[107] And
the critical reviewer of Pantheism, whose Essay is said to have been the
first effective check to its progress in the philosophical schools of
Paris, gives a similar testimony. He tells us that it was his main
object to point out "the Pantheistic tendencies of the age;" to show
that Germany and France are deeply imbued with its spirit; that both
Philosophy and Poetry have been infected by it; that this is "the
veritable heresy of the nineteenth century; and that, when the most
current beliefs are analyzed, they resolve themselves into Pantheism,
avowed or disguised."[108]

A few _specimens_ of this mode of thinking may be added in confirmation
of these statements. Lessing, as reported by Jacobi, expressed his
satisfaction with the poem "Prometheus," saying: "This poet's point of
view is my own; the orthodox ideas on the Divinity no longer suit me; I
derive no profit from them: [Greek: hen kai pan],--(_un et tout, the
one_ and _the all_),--I know no other." Schelling, in his earlier
writings, while he was Professor at Jena, and before the change of
sentiment which he avowed at Berlin, represented God as the one only
true and really absolute existence; as nothing more or less than Being,
filling the whole sphere of reality; as the infinite Being (_Seyn_)
which is the essence of the Universe, and evolves all things from itself
by self-development. Hegel seeks unity in every thing and every where.
This unity he discovers in the identity of existence and thought, in the
one substance which exists and thinks, in God who manifests and develops
himself in many forms. "The Absolute produces all and absorbs all; it is
the essence of all things. The life of the Absolute is never consummated
or complete. God does not properly exist, but comes into being: 'Gott
ist in werden.'--_Deus est in fieri_. With him God is not a Person, but
Personality, which realizes itself in every human consciousness as so
many thoughts of one eternal Mind.... Apart from, and out of the world,
therefore, there is no God; and so, also, apart from the universal
consciousness of man, there is no Divine consciousness or personality.
God is with him the whole process of thought, combining in itself the
objective movement, as seen in Nature, with the subjective, as seen in
Logic; and fully realizing itself only in--the universal spirit of

We select only two specimens from the recent literature of France; they
might be multiplied indefinitely. Pierre Leroux, the editor of the
"Encyclopedie Nouvelle," says, in his "Essay on Humanity," dedicated to
the poet Beranger:--"It is the God immanent in the Universe, in
Humanity, in each Man, that I adore."--"The worship of Humanity was the
worship of Voltaire."--"What, is Humanity considered as comprehending
all men? Is it something, or is it nothing but an abstraction of our
mind? Is Humanity a collective being, or is it nothing but a series of
individual men?"--"Being, or the soul, is eternal by its nature. Being,
or the soul, is infinite by its nature. Being, or the soul, is permanent
and unchangeable by its nature. Being, or the soul, is one by its
nature. Being, or the soul, is God by its nature."--"Socrates has proved
our eternity and the divinity of our nature."[110] The next specimen is
a singular but very instructive one. It is derived from the treatise of
M. Crousse, who holds that "intelligence is a property or an effect of
matter;" "that the world is a great body, which has sense, spirit, and
reason;" that "matter, in appearance the most cold and insensible, is in
reality animated, and capable of engendering thought." It might be
amusing, were it not melancholy, to refer to one of his proofs of this
position: "Une horologe mesure le temps; certes, c'est là un effet
intellectuel produit par une cause physique!"[111] His grand principle
is the doctrine of what he calls "Unisubstancisme," and it is applied
equally to the nature of God and the soul of man. God is admitted, but
it is the God of Pantheism,--Nature, including matter and mind, but
excluding any higher power. "God is the self-existent Being, which
includes all, and beyond which no other can be imagined. The Infinite is
identical with the Universe."--"God is and can only be the whole of that
which exists. Let us proclaim it aloud, that the echoes may repeat it,
God, the Great Being, is the All, and the All is One. God is every thing
that exists; the Universe, that is the supreme Being. In it are life
eternal, power, wisdom, knowledge, perfect organization, all the
qualities, in a word, that are inseparable from the Divinity. Beyond the
universe, or apart from it, there is nothing (_neant_); above the
visible world and its laws there is for man--_nullité_."

It is deeply humbling to think that, in the light of the nineteenth
century, and in the very centre of European civilization, speculations
such as these should have found authors to publish, and readers to
purchase them. Need we wonder that several Catholic writers on the
continent, conversant with the works which are daily issuing from the
press, and familiar with the state of society in which they live, have
publicly expressed their apprehension that, unless some seasonable and
effective check can be given to the progress of this fearful system, we
may yet witness the restoration of Polytheistic worship and the revival
of Paganism in Europe?[112]

The most cursory review of _the history of Pantheism_[113] will serve to
convince every reflecting reader that it must have its origin in some
natural but strangely perverted principle of the human mind; and that
its recent reappearance in Europe affords an additional and very
unexpected proof that, like the weeds which spring up, year after year,
in the best cultivated field, it must have its roots or seeds deep in
the soil. In the annals of our race, we find it exhibited in two
distinct forms; _first_, as a Religious doctrine, and, _secondly_, as a
Philosophical system. It had its birthplace in the East, where the
gorgeous magnificence of Nature was fitted to arrest the attention and
to stimulate the imagination of a subtle, dreamy, and speculative
people. The primitive doctrine of Creation was soon supplanted by the
pagan theory of Emanation. The Indian Brahm is the first and only
Substance, infinite, absolute, indeterminate Being, from which all is
evolved, manifested, developed, and to which all returns and is
reabsorbed. The Vedanta philosophy is based on this fundamental
principle, and it has been well described as "the most rigorous system
of Pantheism which has ever appeared."

We learn from the writings of Greece that a similar system prevailed in
Egypt, different, indeed, in form, and expressed in other terms, but
resting on the same ultimate ground; and we know that Christianity found
one of its earliest and most formidable antagonists in the philosophical
school of Alexandria, which was deeply imbued with a Pantheistic spirit,
and which, perhaps for that reason, has recently become an object of
much interest to speculative minds in France and Germany. The Gnostic
and the Neoplatonic sects maintained, and the writings of Plotinus and
Proclus still exhibit, many principles the same in substance with those
which have been recently revived in Continental Europe. In the earlier
as well as the later literature of Greece we find traces of Pantheism,
while the Polytheistic worship, which universally prevailed, was its
natural product and appropriate manifestation. The ancient Orphic
doctrines, which were taught in the Mysteries, seem to have been based
on the oriental idea of Emanation. Even in the masculine literature of
Rome we find numerous passages which are still quoted, with glowing
admiration, by the Pantheists of modern times.[114] There is, indeed,
but too much reason to believe that the numerous references which occur
in the Classics to the existence of one absolute and supreme Being, and
which Dr. Cudworth has so zealously collected, with the view of proving
"the naturality of the idea of God," must be interpreted, at least in
many instances, in a Pantheistic sense, and that they imply nothing more
than the recognition of one parent Substance, from which all other
beings have been successively developed.

We find some lingering remains of Pantheism in the writings of the
middle age. Scot Erigena, in his work, "De Divisione Naturæ," sums up
his theory by saying: "All is God, and God is all." Amaury de Chartres
made use of similar language. And it must have been more widely diffused
in these times than many may be ready to believe, if it be true, as the
Abbé Maret affirms, and as M. de Hammer offers to prove, that the
Knights of the Order of the Temple were affiliated to secret societies
in which the doctrines of Gnosticism and the spirit of Pantheism were
maintained and cherished.[115] It reappeared in the philosophical
schools of Italy before the dawn, and during the early progress, of the
revival of letters and the Reformation of Religion;[116] and even now,
after three centuries of scientific progress and social advancement, it
is once more rising into formidable strength, and aspiring to universal

From this rapid survey of the history of the past, it is clear that
Pantheism is one of the oldest and most inveterate forms of error; that
in its twofold character, as at once _a philosophy_ and _a faith_, it
possesses peculiar attractions for that class of minds which delight to
luxuriate in mystic speculation; and that, in the existing state of
society, it may be reasonably regarded as the most formidable rival to
Natural and Revealed Religion. We are far from thinking, indeed, that
the old mechanical and materialistic Atheism is so completely worn out
or so utterly exploded as some recent writers would have us to
believe;[117] for M. Comte and his school still avow that wretched
creed, while they profess to despise Pantheism, as a system of empty
abstractions. We do think, however, that the grand ultimate struggle
between Christianity and Atheism will resolve itself into a contest
between Christianity and Pantheism. For, in the Christian sense,
Pantheism is itself Atheistic, since it denies the Divine personality,
and ascribes to the universe those attributes which belong only to the
living God; but then it is a distinct and very peculiar form of Atheism,
much more plausible in its pretensions, more fascinating to the
imagination, and less revolting to the reason, than those colder and
coarser theories which ascribed the origin of the world to a fortuitous
concourse of atoms, or to the mere mechanical laws of matter and motion.
It admits much which the Atheism of a former age would have denied; it
recognizes the principle of causality, and gives a reason, such as it
is, for the existing order of Nature; it adopts the very language of
Theism, and speaks of the Infinite, the Eternal, the Unchangeable One;
it may even generate a certain mystic piety, in which elevation of
thought may be blended with sensibility of emotion, springing from a
warm admiration of Nature; and it admits of being embellished with the
charms of a seductive eloquence, and the graces of a sentimental poetry.
It may be regarded, therefore, not indeed as the only, but as the most
formidable rival of Christian Theism at the present day.

We have sometimes thought that the recent discoveries of Chemical
Science might have a tendency, at least in the case of superficial
minds, to create a prepossession in favor of Pantheism; for what does
modern Chemistry exhibit, but the spectacle of Nature passing through a
series of successive transmutations?--the same substance appearing in
different forms, and assuming in every change different properties, but
never annihilated, never destroyed; now existing in the form of solid
matter, again in the form of a yielding fluid, again in the form of an
elastic gas; now nourishing a plant, and entering into its very
substance; now incorporated with an animal, and forming its sinews or
its bones; now reduced again to dust and ashes, but only to appear anew,
and enter once more into other combinations. The facts are certain, and
they are sufficiently striking to suggest the question, May not Nature
itself be the one Being whose endless transformations constitute the
history of the universe? This question may be naturally suggested, and
it may even be lawfully entertained; but it cannot be satisfactorily
determined by any theory which leaves the evident marks of Intelligence
and Design in the whole constitution and course of Nature unaccounted
for or unexplained.

Influenced by these and similar considerations, many thoughtful men have
recently avowed their belief that the two grand alternatives in modern
times are, Christianity and Pantheism. The Abbé Maret and Amand Saintes
differ only in this: that by Christianity the former means Catholicism,
the latter means the Gospel, or the religion of the primitive church;
but both agree that Pantheism is the only other alternative. Schlegel
contrasts the same alternatives in the following impressive terms: "Here
is the decisive point; two distinct, opposite, or diverging paths lie
before us, and man must choose between them. The clear-seeing spirit,
which, in its sentiments, thoughts, and views of life, would be in
accordance with itself, and would act consistently with them, must, in
any case, take one or the other. Either there is a living God, full of
love, even such a One as love seeks and yearns after, to whom faith
clings, and in whom all our hopes are centred (and such is the personal
God of Revelation),--and on this hypothesis the world is not God, but is
distinct from Him, having had a beginning, and being created out of
nothing,--or there is only one supreme form of existence, and the world
is eternal, and not distinct from God; there is absolutely but One, and
this eternal One comprehends all, and is itself all in all; so that
there is no where any real and essential distinction, and even that
which is alleged to exist between evil and good is only a delusion of a
narrow-minded system of Ethics.... Now, the necessity of this choice and
determination _presses urgently upon our own time_, which stands midway
between two worlds. Generally, it is between _these two paths alone_
that the decision is to be made."[118]

We have made the preceding remarks on purpose to show that the
distinctive doctrines of Pantheism, as a system different, in some
respects, from the colder forms of Atheism, demand the careful study of
the Divines and the Philosophers of the present age; and that any
statement of the evidence in favor of the being and perfections of God,
which overlooks the prevalence of these doctrines, or makes only a
cursory reference to them, must be alike defective in itself, and ill
adapted to the real exigencies of European society. Let this be our
apology for attempting, as we now propose, to exhibit an outline of the
Pantheistic system, to resolve it into its constituent elements and
ultimate grounds, to examine the validity of the reasons on which it
rests, and to contrast it with the doctrine of Christian Theism, which
speaks of a living, personal God, and of a distinct but dependent
Creation, the product of His supreme wisdom and almighty power. The task
is one of considerable difficulty,--difficulty arising not so much from
the nature of the subject, as from the metaphysical and abstruse manner
in which it has been treated. We must follow Spinoza through the
labyrinth of his Theological Politics and his Geometrical Ethics; we
must follow Schelling and Hegel into the still darker recesses of their
Transcendental Philosophy; for a philosophy of one kind can only be met
and neutralized by a higher and a better, and the first firm step
towards the refutation of error is a thorough comprehension of it. But
having an assured faith in those stable laws of thought which are
inwoven with the very texture of the human mind, and in the validity and
force of that natural evidence to which Theology appeals, we have no
fear of the profoundest Metaphysics that can be brought to bear on the
question at issue, provided only they be not altogether unintelligible.

Pantheism has appeared in several different forms; and it may conduce
both to the fullness and the clearness of our exposition if we offer, in
the first instance, a comprehensive outline of the theory of Spinoza,
with a brief criticism on its leading principles, and thereafter advance
to the consideration of the twofold development of Pantheism in the
hands of Materialists and Idealists, respectively.



The Pantheistic speculations which have been revived in modern times can
scarcely be understood, and still less accounted for or answered,
without reference to the system of Spinoza. That system met with little
favor from any, and with vigorous opposition from not a few, of the
divines and philosophers of the times immediately subsequent to its
publication. It was denounced and refuted by Musæus, a judicious and
learned professor of divinity at Jena; by Mansvelt, a young but
promising professor of philosophy at Utrecht; by Cuyper of Rotterdam; by
Wittichius of Leyden; by Pierre Poiret of Reinsburg; by Fenelon,
Archbishop of Cambray; by Huet, Bishop of Avranches; by John Howe, and
Dr. Samuel Clarke, as well as by many others,[119] whose writings
served for a time to preserve the Church from the infection of his most
dangerous errors. But gradually these views became an object of
speculative interest to Metaphysical inquirers, and found favor even
with a growing class of Philosophical Divines;[120] partly by reason of
the strong intellectual energy with which they were conceived and
announced, and partly, also, there is reason to fear, on account of a
prevailing tendency to lower the authority of Scripture, and to exalt
the prerogatives of reason, in matters of faith. The system of Spinoza,
as developed in his "Tractatus Theologico-politicus," and, still more,
in his "Ethica,"--a posthumous publication,--may be said to contain the
germs of the whole system both of Theological and Philosophical
Rationalism which was subsequently unfolded,--in the Church, by Paulus,
Wegscheider, and Strauss,--and, in the Schools, by Fichte, Schelling,
and Hegel.

Theological Rationalism consists in making Reason the sole arbiter and
the supreme judge in matters of faith; in setting aside or undermining
the authority of Revelation, partly by denying or questioning the
plenary inspiration of Scripture, partly by explaining or accounting for
miracles on natural principles, partly by assuming, as Strauss assumes,
that whatever is supernatural must necessarily be unhistorical; in
reducing every article of the creed, by a new method of critical
exegesis, to a mere statement of some natural fact or some moral
doctrine, embellished, in the one case, by mythical legends, and
accommodated, in the other, to local and temporary prejudices, but
amounting substantially to nothing more than a natural development of
human thought. The prolific germs of this Neologian method of the
interpretation of Scripture are to be found every where in the writings
of Spinoza.

Philosophical Rationalism, again, although often, or rather generally,
blended with the Theological, is yet, in some respects, distinct from
it. The one has been developed in the Church, the other in the Schools.
The former, cultivated by divines who acknowledged more or less
explicitly the authority of Scripture, has directed its efforts mainly
to the establishment of a new method of Biblical exegesis and criticism,
by which all that is peculiar to Revelation, as a supernatural scheme,
might be enervated or explained away. The latter cultivated by
Philosophic speculators who were not bound by any authority, nor
fettered by any subscription to articles of faith, has sought, without
reference to Revelation, to solve the great problems relating to God,
Man, and the Universe, on purely natural principles; and, after many
fruitless efforts, has taken refuge, at last, in the Faith of Pantheism
and the Philosophy of the Absolute. The prolific germs of this method of
the interpretation of Nature are also to be found in the writings of

The circumstance, indeed, which, more than any other, seems to have
commended his system to some of the most inquisitive minds in Europe, is
_its apparent completeness_. It is not a mere theory of Pantheism, nor a
mere method of Exegesis, nor a mere code of Ethics, nor a mere scheme of
Politics, although all these are comprehended under it; but it is a
system founded on a few radical principles, which are exhibited in the
shape of axioms and definitions, and unfolded, by rigorous logical
deduction, in a series of propositions, with occasional scholia and
corollaries, after the method of Geometry; a system which undertakes to
explain the rationale of _every_ part of human knowledge, to interpret
alike the Book of Nature and the Book of Revelation, to determine the
character of prophetic inspiration, and to account for apparent miracles
on natural principles, to establish the real foundations of moral duty,
and the ultimate grounds of state policy; and all this on the strength
of a few simple definitions, and a series of necessary deductions from
them. It is important to mark this characteristic feature of his system;
for while we have directly nothing to do with by far the larger part of
his speculations, which relate to questions foreign to our present
inquiry, yet the fact that his ethical and political conclusions are
deduced from the same principles on which his Pantheistic theory is
founded, serves at once to account for the extensive influence which his
writings have exerted on every department of modern speculation, and
also to show that, in opposing that system, we are entitled to found on
the conclusions which he has himself deduced from it, for the purpose of
disproving the fundamental principles on which it rests. For if, on the
one hand, the principles which he assumes in his definitions and axioms
do necessarily involve the conclusions which are propounded in his
Ethics and Politics; and if, on the other hand, these conclusions are
found to be at variance with the highest views of Morality and
Government, then the more logical the process by which they have been
deduced, the more certain will it be that there is some fundamental flaw
in the basis on which the whole superstructure is reared. In other
cases, it might be doubtful how far the consequences that may seem to be
deducible from a theory could be legitimately urged in argument,
especially when these consequences are disavowed by the author of it;
but, in the present case, the consequences are explicitly declared, not
less than the principles,--they are even exhibited as corollaries
rigorously deduced from them; and thus the very comprehensiveness of the
system, which gives it so much of the aspect of completeness, and which
has fascinated the minds of speculative men, always fond of bold and
sweeping generalizations, may be found to afford the most conclusive
proof of its inherent weakness, and to show that it comes into fatal
collision, at all points, not only with the doctrines of Natural and
Revealed Religion, but also with the practical duties and political
rights of mankind.

We may present, in brief compass, a comprehensive summary of the
doctrine of Spinoza. The fundamental principle of his whole theory is
contained in the assumption with which he sets out,--that the entire
system of Being consists only of _three_ elements, "Substance,
Attributes, and Modes," and in the _definitions_ which are given of
these terms respectively. With him, Substance is Being; not this or that
particular being, nor even being in general, considered in the abstract,
but absolute Being,--Being in its plentitude, which comprehends all
existences that can be conceived without requiring the concept of any
other thing, and without which no other thing can either exist or be
conceived.[121] By an "Attribute" he means, not substance, but a
manifestation of substance, yet such a manifestation as belongs to its
very essence; and, by a "Mode," he means an affection of substance, or
that which exists in another thing, and is conceived by means of that
thing. These are the three fundamental ideas of his system.[122]

The "Substance" of which he speaks is God, the infinite, self-existent,
eternal Being, whose essential nature is defined in terms which might
seem to be expressive of a great truth, for he says: "I understand by
God an absolutely infinite Being, that is to say, a Substance
constituted by an infinity of Attributes, each of which expresses an
eternal and infinite essence." But, on closer inspection, we find that
the God of whom he speaks is not the Creator and Governor of the world,
not a living, personal Being, distinct from Nature and superior to it,
not the Holy One and the Just, possessing infinite moral perfections,
and exercising a supreme dominion over His works; but, simply, absolute
Being, the necessary self-existent Substance, whose known "Attributes"
are _extension_ and _thought_, and whose affections, or "Modes,"
comprehend all the varieties of finite existence; in short, it is Nature
that is God, for every possible existence may be included under the
twofold expression of _Natura naturans_ and _Natura naturata_.
Accordingly, the principle of _Unisubstancisme_ is broadly avowed, and
the very possibility of creation denied. He affirms, and, indeed,
according to his definition, he is entitled to affirm, that there is not
and cannot be more than _one substance_; for by "Substance" he means a
self-existent, necessary, and eternal Being. And, on the same ground, he
affirms that the creation of _such_ a substance is impossible; for,
having excluded every finite thing--everything that does not exist of
itself--from his definition of Substance, he is warranted in saying that
anything called into being by a creative act of Divine power could not
be a "substance," _in his sense of that term_. He sets himself to prove,
by a series of propositions whose logical correctness, as deductions
from his fundamental assumption, may be freely and most safely admitted,
that the production of a "substance" is absolutely impossible; that
between two "substances," having different "attributes," there is
nothing in common; that where two things have nothing in common, the one
cannot be the cause of the other; that two or more distinct things can
only be discriminated from each other by the difference of the
"attributes" or "affections" of their "substance;" and that, in the
nature of things, there cannot be two or more substances of the same
kind, or possessing the same attributes. He holds, of course, that
Nature is as necessary as God, or, rather, that God and Nature are one;
there being but one Substance, appearing only in different aspects, as
cause and effect, as substance and mode, as infinite and yet finite, as
one and yet many, as ever the same and yet infinitely variable.

It is only necessary to add, that the sole attributes of this Substance
which are capable of being known by our limited intelligence, and which
are discerned by an immediate "intuition of reason," are two, namely,
_extension_ and _thought_. We know nothing, and can know nothing, of God
beyond this: He has no will, or his will is mere intelligence or
thought; He has no law, or His law is merely His thought embodied in the
arrangements of nature; He has no moral properties that are cognizable
by the human faculties. It follows that God is not the creator of the
world, for creation implies an act of will, and God has no will; that He
is not the Lawgiver or Governor of the world, for there is no law
emanating from a superior, but such only as is created by _human compact
or agreement_, and there is "no natural obligation to obey God," no
invariable standard of right and wrong. The principles which are thus
assumed in regard to the nature of God are afterwards applied to many
important questions, relating, first, to the soul of man; secondly, to
the science of Ethics; thirdly, to the doctrine of political right and
liberty; and, fourthly, to the supposed claims of Revelation. And they
are carried out, with inexorable logic, into all their most revolting

Such is a concise, but, as we believe, a correct outline of the leading
principles of the system of Spinoza. We shall now offer a few remarks
upon it, directed to the object of showing wherein consists the radical
fallacy on which it rests, and what are the considerations by which
thoughtful men may be most effectually secured against its pernicious

It has been well said by Professor Saisset, that the fallacy of this
system does not lie in any one proposition of the series, but that it is
a vicious circle throughout; that the paralogism is not in this or that
part of the "Ethics,"--it is everywhere; and that the germ of the whole
is contained in the _definitions_, which are assumed, but not
proved.[123] Our attention, therefore, must be given, in the first
instance, to the fundamental assumptions on which the whole
superstructure is built.

1. It is assumed, without proof, that the entire system of Being may be
ranked under the three categories of Substance, Attributes, and Modes.
It is assumed, equally without proof, that there can be no substance
which is not self-existent, necessary, and eternal, and that every being
which does not possess these properties must be only a "mode" or
affection of another being to whom they belong. It is further assumed,
also without proof, that _extension_ and _thought_ are necessary
"attributes" of the one self-existent "substance," each of the two
exhibiting only a different aspect of his eternal essence, while both
are equally essential and equally infinite. And, finally, it is assumed,
still without proof, that Nature comprehends a twofold series of
existences, distinct from each other, but developed, as it were, in
parallel lines,--Corporeal and Intellectual beings, which correspond
respectively to the Divine attributes of extension and thought,--which
partake of the essential nature of these attributes, but exhibit them in
finite and transient forms, as mere modes or manifestations of the one
infinite "substance." These are some of the fundamental assumptions on
which he proceeds; they are not proved, nor even attempted to be proved;
for, although several are stated in the form of distinct propositions,
and accompanied with a formal demonstration, the most cursory inspection
of the pretended proof is sufficient to show that it consists entirely
in a series of _deductions from principles previously assumed_, and that
its validity must ultimately rest on the _definitions_ in which these
principles are embodied.

Now, let any one examine these "definitions," and he will find that they
are wholly arbitrary, and that he is not bound by any law of his
intellectual nature to admit them, still less entitled, on any ground of
experience, to assume and found upon them, as if they were self-evident
or axiomatic truths. It is possible, and it may even be legitimate and
useful for the purposes of philosophical speculation, to classify the
various objects of human knowledge by ranging them under the categories
of Substance, Attributes, and Modes. But is it a self-evident truth,
that there can be no substance in nature excepting such as is
self-existent and eternal? Is it a self-evident truth that man, with his
distinct personality and individual consciousness, is a mere "mode" or
affection of another being? Is it a self-evident truth that the ape, the
lizard, and the worm are equally "modes" of the same substance with the
angel and the seraph? Is it a self-evident truth that _extension_ and
_thought_ are equally expressive of the uncreated Essence and necessary
"attributes" of the Eternal? Is it a self-evident truth that no being
can exist in nature otherwise than by _development out of the Divine
substance_, and that the _creation_ of a distinct but dependent being is
impossible? In regard to questions such as these, the appeal must lie to
that common sense, or those laws of thought, which are the heritage of
every thinking mind, and which cannot be cramped or fettered by the
arbitrary definitions of any philosophical system whatever. These
definitions must commend themselves _as true_, either by their own
self-evidencing light, or by their manifest conformity with experience,
before they can be assumed and founded on in any process of reasoning;
and we are very sure that those which have been specified cannot be
candidly examined without appearing to be, as they really are, the
grossest instances of a _petitio principii_ that have ever been offered
to the world. For these "definitions" constitute the foundation of the
whole superstructure; they contain the germ, which is subsequently
expanded and developed in a long series of propositions; and, as they
are assumed without proof, while they are far from being self-evident,
no amount of logical power and no effort of dialectic skill can possibly
extract from them any doctrinal results, whether theological, ethical,
or political, possessing greater evidence than what belongs to
themselves. This is our _first_ objection.

2. The philosophical method of Spinoza, as applied to our special
subject, is radically vicious. It is not the inductive or experimental
method; it is an argument _a priori_, a deductive process of reasoning.
Now, this method, suitable as it is to a certain class of subjects, such
as those of Geometry, in which clear and precise definitions are
attainable, is either utterly inapplicable to another class of subjects,
such as most of those of which Spinoza treats, or it is peculiarly
dangerous, especially in the hands of a daring speculator, since, in the
absence of adequate definitions, he may be tempted to have recourse to
such as are purely arbitrary. All the possible properties of a circle
may be deduced from the simple definition of it; but it will not follow
that all the possible forms of being in nature may be deduced from the
definition of "substance." The reason is clear; we cannot have such a
definition of substance as we may have of a circle. We do not object
merely to the _geometrical form_ of his reasoning,--that is a mere
accessory, and one which renders the "Ethica" much more dry and less
attractive than the "Tractatus," in which he gives free scope to his
subtle intellect, unfettered by any such artificial plan,--but we object
to the essential nature of his system, to the _a priori_ and deductive
method by which he attempts to solve some of the highest problems of
philosophy respecting God, Nature, and Man. Here, if anywhere, is a
field of inquiry which demands for its due cultivation an enlarged
experience and a patient spirit of induction. Yet, with him, the
starting-point of philosophy is the highest object of human thought. He
begins with the idea of self-existent Being, without which, as he
imagines, nothing else can be conceived; and then, following the line of
a descending series, he attempts to deduce from it the philosophy of
the whole system of the universe![124] His Metaphysics must borrow
nothing from experience; his very Psychology must be purely deductive.
From the intuitive idea of "substance" he deduces the nature and
existence of God; from the nature of God, the necessity of a Divine
development; from the necessity of a Divine development, the existence
of a universe comprising souls and bodies; and nowhere does he
condescend to take notice of the facts of experience, except in two of
his axioms, in which he assumes that "man thinks," and that "he feels
his body to be affected in various ways." His whole philosophy resolves
itself ultimately into an intellectual intuition, whose object is
Substance or Being, with its infinite attributes of extension and
thought,--an intuition which discerns its object directly and
immediately, in the light of its own self-evidence, without the aid of
any intermediate sign, and which is as superior, in a philosophical
point of view, to the intimations of sense, as its objects are superior
to the fleeting phenomena of Nature.

Now, we submit that this method of constructing a philosophy of Nature
is radically vicious, and diametrically opposed to the only legitimate,
the only possible way of attaining to sound knowledge. He is not content
to tell us _what is_ the order of things; he aspires, forsooth, to show
what the order of things _must be_. We have no wish to disparage
Metaphysical Science; it has a natural root in human reason, and a
legitimate domain in the ample territory of human thought; but we
protest against any attempt to extend it beyond its proper boundaries,
or to apply it to subjects which belong to the province of experience
and observation. The schemes which have been recently broached in
Germany, and imitated in France, for constructing, at one time, a
deductive Psychology, at another a deductive Physics, at a third a
deductive Ethics, at a fourth a deductive Theory of Progress, at a
fifth a deductive History of Religion, afford more than sufficient
evidence that hitherto the spirit of the Baconian philosophy has been
little understood, and still less appreciated, by our continental
neighbors; and that the efforts of the highest genius have been sadly
frustrated, in attempting the impracticable task of extracting from mere
reason that knowledge which can only be acquired in the school of
experience. This is our _second_ objection.

3. The system of Spinoza is vicious, because it applies a mere
abstraction of the human mind to account for whatever is real and
concrete in the universe. We have no sympathy with those who rail at all
abstract ideas, as if they were imaginary essences or mere illusions; we
recognize the faculty of abstraction as one of the wisest provisions of
Nature, and one of the most useful powers belonging to the mind of
man,--a power which comes into action with the first dawn of infant
intelligence, and is only matured as reason rises into manhood, till it
becomes the internal spring of all Philosophy and Science. Nor do we
hold that an abstract idea is necessarily an unreality, or a mere
negation; for, without reviving the controversy between the Nominalists
and Realists, or pronouncing any decision on the intricate questions
which that controversy involved, we may say, in general terms, that the
idea of a circle, of a square, or of a triangle, is neither unreal nor
negative, but a very positive, and, withal, intelligible thing. It is
the idea of that which is essential to the nature of each of these
figures respectively, and common to all possible figures of the same
class, whatever may be their accidental varieties, whether in point of
dimension or form. And so the idea of Being or Substance, although it be
highly abstract, is not necessarily unreal or negative; it is the idea
of _existence_, or of that which is common to everything that _is_,
abstraction being made of every diversity by which one being is
distinguished from another. Conscious that we ourselves exist, and
observing that other beings exist around us, we strike off the
peculiarities which belong to individuals, and form the general idea
which includes nothing but what is common to all, and yet contains a
positive element, which is the object of one of the strongest
convictions of the human mind.[125] The conception of Infinite Being
contains the positive element of _being_, abstraction being made of all
_limitation_ or _bounds_. That this is a real, legitimate, and useful
conception, we have no disposition to deny; we cannot divest ourselves
of it; it springs up spontaneously from the innermost fountain of
thought. But we cannot accept the account which Spinoza has given of its
nature and origin, and still less can we assent to the application which
he has made of it. He describes it as the idea of absolute, necessary,
self-existent, eternal Being; and he traces its origin, not to the
combined influence of experience and abstraction, acting under the great
primitive law of _causality_, but to an immediate perception, or direct
_intuition, of reason_. Now, we submit that the concept of _being_, and
the concept of absolute _self-existent being_, are perfectly distinct
from each other, and that they spring from different laws of thought.
The concept of _being_ applies to everything that exists, without
reference to the cause or manner of its existence; and this springs
simply from experience and abstraction. The concept of _self-existent
being_, which is equally suggested by the laws of our mental
constitution, does not apply to everything that exists, but only to that
whose existence is not originated or determined by any other being; and
this concept springs also from experience and abstraction, combined,
however, with the law or principle of _causality_, which teaches us that
no change can occur in Nature, and that nothing can ever come into
being, _without a cause_, and prompts us to infer from _the fact of
existence now_, the conclusion that _something must have existed from
all eternity_. The origin of each of these concepts may thus be
naturally accounted for by the known laws of our mental constitution,
without having recourse to any faculty of _intellectual intuition_ such
as Spinoza describes,--a faculty independent of experience, and superior
to it,--a faculty which gazes direct on Absolute Being, and penetrates,
without the aid of any intermediate sign or manifestation, into the very
essence of God. Spinoza has not discriminated aright between these two
concepts, in respect either of their nature or their origin. He has not
overlooked, indeed, the distinction, between _abstract ideas_ and the
_intellectual intuitions_, of which he speaks; but he confounds the
concept of _being_ with the concept of _self-existent being_, as if the
two were identical, or as if _being_ could not be predicated of
anything, otherwise than as it is a "mode" or affection of the one only
"substance." A sounder Psychology has taught us that our conception of
existence arises, in the first instance, from our own conscious
experience; and that, when this conception subsequently expands into the
idea of Absolute Being, and results in the belief of a necessary,
self-existent, and eternal Cause, the new element which is thus added to
it may be accounted for by the _principle of causality_, which
constitutes one of the fundamental laws of human thought, and which, if
it may be said to resemble _intuition_ in the rapidity and clearness
with which it enables us to discern the truth, differs essentially from
that _immediate intuition_ of which Spinoza speaks, since it is
dependent on experience, and, instead of gazing direct on Absolute
Being, makes use of intermediate signs and manifestations, by which it
rises to the knowledge of "the unseen and eternal."

We submit, further, that a system which rests on the mere idea of Being
as its sole support, cannot afford any satisfactory explanation of real
and concrete existences. The idea of Being is one of our most abstract
conceptions; it is associated, indeed, with an invincible belief in the
reality of Being,--a belief which springs up spontaneously, along with
the idea itself, from our own conscious experience. It is even
associated with an invincible belief in necessary, self-existent, and
eternal Being,--a belief which springs from _the principle of
causality_, or that law of thought whereby, from the fact that something
exists now, we instinctively conclude that something _must_ have existed
from all eternity. But neither the simple concept of Being, which is
derived from experience and framed by abstraction, nor the additional
concept of self-existent Being, which springs from the action of our
rational faculties on the data furnished by experience, can afford any
explanation of the nature and origin of the real, concrete existences in
the universe. These must be studied in the light of their own
appropriate evidence; they must be interpreted, and not divined; they
cannot be inferred deductively from any, even the highest and most
abstract, conception of the human mind. Yet the philosophy of Spinoza
attempts to explain all the phenomena of the universe by the idea of
Absolute Being; it accounts for the concrete by the abstract; it
represents all individual beings as mere modes or affections of one
universal substance; in other words, it _realises_ the abstract idea of
thought and extension, but _denies the existence_ of bodies and souls,
otherwise than as manifestations of these eternal essences.

4. The system of Spinoza is vicious, because his whole reasoning on the
subject of Creation is pervaded by a transparent fallacy. He affirms the
impossibility of Creation, and attempts to demonstrate his position. But
how? By proving that a "substance" cannot be produced. And why may not
"a substance" be produced? Because, _by the definition_, "a substance"
is that which is "self-existent." In other words, a self-existent
substance cannot be created,--a truism which scarcely required the
apparatus of a geometrical proof by means of propositions, scholia, and
corollaries, or, as Professor Saisset says, with laconic naïveté, "_ce
qui a à peine besoin d'être demontré_." But, while the only proof that
is offered extends no further than to self-existent or uncreated
substance, it is afterwards applied to everything that exists, so as to
exclude the creation even of that which is _not_ self-existent; and this
on the convenient assumption that whatever exists must be either a
"substance," or an "attribute," or a "mode." And thus, partly by an
ambiguity of language, partly by an arbitrary and gratuitous assumption,
he excludes the possibility of Creation altogether. Surely it might have
occurred to him that by proving the necessary existence of an uncreated
Being--a doctrine held by every Christian Theist--he did not advance one
step towards the disproof of the possibility of creation, nor even
towards the establishment of his favorite theory of _unisubstancisme_;
for, grant that there is an uncreated and self-existent Being; grant,
even, that there can be no more than _one_,--would it follow that there
can be no created and dependent beings, or that they can only exist as
"modes" or "affections" of that absolute Essence? Might they not exist
as _creatures_, as _products_, as _effects_, without partaking of the
nature of their cause?[126] Yet, if there be one idea more than another
which Spinoza is anxious to extirpate, it is that of creation, and he
summons the whole strength, both of his logic and sarcasm, when he has
to deal with the argument from "final causes." And no marvel; for the
doctrine of a creation would cut up his system by the roots. The radical
difference, in fact, between Theism and Pantheism mainly consists in
this: that the former regards creation as distinct from the Creator, as
the product of His omnipotent and free will, as the object of His
constant providential care, as the subject of His supreme control and
government; whereas the latter represents it as a necessary _emanation_
from the Divine substance, as an eternal _development_ of the uncreated
Essence; the finite, in all its forms, being a "mode" of the infinite,
and the temporary phases of nature so many transient but ever-renewed
manifestations of the unchangeable and eternal. These two conceptions
are diametrically opposed; they cannot admit of conciliation or
compromise; and hence the daring attempt of Spinoza to prove the
impossibility of creation, even when he admits the existence of an
Infinite and Eternal Being.

5. The system of Spinoza is vicious, because it involves erroneous
conclusions respecting both the _body_ and the _soul_. He denies that
they are "substances." And why? Because, _by the definition_, "a
substance" is that which is self-existent, and may be conceived without
reference to any other being. Be it so. What does this argument amount
to? Why, simply to this, that they are not gods. What, then, are they?
Created beings? No. And why? Because creation is impossible, and, also,
because whatever exists must be either a "substance," or an "attribute,"
or a "mode." What then? Clearly not an "attribute," for the only
attributes known to us are extension and thought, and these attributes
are as infinite as "the substance" to which they belong; they must
therefore be "modes" or "affections" of that "substance." But in what
sense? In the sense of being created, and therefore dependent,
existences, whose nature and origin cannot be conceived of or accounted
for without reference to the Being who produced them at first, and still
continues to maintain them? No; for in that sense all Theists admit the
derivation and dependence of every finite being; but they must be
"modes" or "affections" of the one uncreated essence, mere phenomenal
manifestations of it. The soul, whose essence is thought, is a mere
succession of ideas. The body is a mere "mode" of the Divine "attribute"
of extension; and neither the one nor the other can be described as a
_distinct being_. They are affections, and nothing more, of the one
infinite "substance."

It is important to remark that, according to this theory, _the distinct
personality of man_ is excluded, not less than _the distinct personality
of God_. It is not easy, indeed, to explain this part of Spinoza's
theory; for he has a subtle disquisition on the relation subsisting
between the soul and the body, by means of which he attempts to explain
the phenomena of self-consciousness, and to show that individual
personality is not necessarily inconsistent with the doctrine which
represents man as a mere "mode" of the Divine "substance." But one thing
is clear: there is no room in the system of Spinoza for the distinct
personality of man, in the ordinary acceptation of that expression. The
unity, especially of the human soul, its individuality, its
self-consciousness, its identity, as a being, dependent, indeed, on God,
but really distinct from Him, must be sacrificed, if the system is to be
saved; and no other being can be recognized but the absolute
"substance," with its infinite "attributes" and its finite "modes." This
consideration appears to us to be fatal to the whole theory. For it
shows that the Pantheistic speculations, which are directed against _the
personality of God_, are equally conclusive, if they be conclusive at
all, against _the personality of Man_; that they run counter to the
intuitive knowledge of the human mind; and that they cannot be embraced
without doing violence to some of our clearest and surest convictions.
For what clearer or surer conviction can there be than that of my own
personal existence, as a distinct, self-conscious, intelligent, active,
and responsible being? And yet the existence of our own bodies and souls
is denied, except in so far as they are mere "modes" or affections of
the one uncreated "substance," which is known, not by experience or
observation, but by a transcendental faculty of intuition.

And, _finally_, the system of Spinoza is vicious, because the
exposition of it is replete with the most manifest and glaring
self-contradictions. His logical power has been so much admired, and his
rigorous geometrical method so highly extolled, that his Philosophy has
acquired a certain _prestige_, which commends it to many ardent,
speculative minds. Yet there are few philosophical writers who have made
a larger number of gratuitous assumptions, or who have abounded more in
contradictory statements. The "Antinomies" of Spinoza might make the
subject of an amusing, and even instructive, dissertation. Thus, by way
of specimen, take the following:

God is extended; but, nevertheless, incorporeal.

God thinks; but, nevertheless, has no intelligence.

God is active; but, nevertheless, has no will.

The soul is a "mode" of the Divine thought; but, nevertheless, there is
no analogy between God's thought and man's thought.

The love of God is the supreme law of man; but, nevertheless, it is
equally lawful for man to live according to appetite or to reason.

The will of man, is, in no sense, free; but, nevertheless, there is a
science of human ethics.

Man is under no natural obligation to obey God; but, nevertheless, God
is his highest good.

God is neither a Lawgiver nor a Governor; but, nevertheless, a future
state is necessary, that every man may have his due.

Might is Right, and Government has power to restrain "the liberty of
Prophesying;" but, nevertheless, has no power to restrain "the liberty
of Philosophizing."

These are only a few specimens of the gratuitous assumptions and
flagrant contradictions with which his writings abound; but they afford
a sufficient proof of the reckless character of his genius, and of the
utter fallacy of the system which he promulgated as a rival, or as a
substitute, for Natural and Revealed Religion.

On a review of what has been advanced, it must be manifest that the
Pantheistic system of Spinoza is founded on principles assumed without
proof, and embodied in his "definitions;" that it is constructed
according to a philosophical method which is radically vicious; that it
abounds in self-contradictory statements; and that it is opposed, at
many points, to some of the clearest lessons of experience, and to some
of the surest convictions of reason. It is a system which is not
demonstrated, but merely developed. The germ of it exists in the
"definitions;" deny these, and you destroy his whole philosophy. It
cannot, therefore, be held sufficient to foreclose the question
respecting the existence of a living, personal God, distinct from Nature
and independent of it; nor can Pantheism, in this form, become the
successful rival of Christian Theism, until the human mind has lost the
power of discriminating between the different kinds of evidence to which
they respectively appeal.



In the system of Spinoza, the two "attributes of _extension_ and
_thought_" and the corresponding "modes" of _body_ and _soul_, were
equally recognized, and were employed jointly, in connection with his
favorite doctrine of Unisubstancisme. They constituted the opposite
poles of his theory, but were both essential to its completeness. But
most of his followers, influenced by an excessive desire for
simplification, have attempted to blend the two into one; and have
either merged the spiritual in the corporeal, or virtually annihilated
the material by resolving it into the mental. Hence two distinct, and
even opposite forms of Pantheism,--the _material_ or _hylozoic_, and the
_ideal_ or _spiritual_.

The former was the first in the order of historical development, so far
as modern Europe is concerned. It was most in accordance with the
Sensational Philosophy which prevailed in the school of Condillac,[127]
and which continued to maintain its ascendancy until it was assailed by
the reviving spirit of Idealism. It was the characteristic feature of
the Atheism of the last century, and was fully exhibited in the "Systême
de la Nature." The recent revival of Idealism has done much to check its
progress, but it has not effected its destruction; on the contrary, the
theory of Material or Hylozoic Pantheism is an error as inveterate as it
is ancient, and it is continually reappearing even in the light of the
intellectual and spiritual Psychology of the nineteenth century.

This theory, although it has been propounded as a religious creed, rests
mainly on a philosophical dogma. It is based ultimately on the
supposition that nothing exists in the universe except _matter_ and its
laws; that _mind_ is the product of material organization; and that all
the phenomena of thought, of feeling, of conscience, and even of
religion, may be accounted for by ascribing them to certain powers
inherent in matter, and evolved by certain peculiarities of cerebral
structure. This fundamental assumption, on which the whole theory of
Hylozoic Pantheism ultimately rests, will be subjected to examination in
the sequel. We think that it may be best discussed separately and apart,
for this among other reasons, that it stands equally related to the old
mechanical Atheism and the new material Pantheism, and that, in point of
fact, it has been applied indifferently to the support of both. Our
remarks at present, therefore, will be directed, not to the refutation
of Materialism, but to the exposition and exposure of the Pantheism
which has been founded upon it.

It is not easy--perhaps it might be found, on trial, to be
impossible--to show that there is any real difference, except in name,
between mechanical Atheism and material Pantheism. Both equally affirm
the self-existence and eternity of the Universe; both equally deny the
fact of creation, and the doctrine of a living, personal God, distinct
from nature, and superior to it. The only apparent difference between
the two consists in this,--that the former speaks more of the rude
materials, and the cold, hard, unbending laws, which exist in Nature;
the latter speaks more of the vital powers, the subtle and ethereal
forces, which are at work in her bosom, and which may seem to impart
warmth and animation to a system that would otherwise be felt to be
cold, inert, and deathlike. But the mechanical Atheist never denied the
vital powers of Nature, he only attempted to account for them without an
intelligent first Cause; and the material Pantheist has little, if any,
advantage over him, except in this, that he has combined Chemistry with
Mechanics in attempting to account for the phenomena of the universe,
and has drawn his analogies from the laboratory and the crucible, the
process of vegetation, and the laws of reproduction and growth, not less
than from the formulæ of Physical Science.

The theory of Material Pantheism runs insensibly into one or other of
the forms of naked Atheism to which we have already referred. Ignoring
the existence of mind, or of any spiritual Power distinct from Nature
and superior to it, it must necessarily hold the eternal existence of
matter; and, in this respect, it coincides entirely with the Atheistic
hypothesis. It may, or it may not, hold also the eternal existence of
the present _order of Nature_, including all the varieties of vegetable
and animal life. In the one case, it harmonizes with the ancient theory
of Atheism, as maintained by Ocellus Lucanus; in the other, it must run
into the modern theory of Development, if it makes any attempt to
account for the origin of new races, as made known by the researches of
Geologists. In either case, it is equivalent to Atheism, and dependent
on one or other of the various theories which have been applied to the
defence of the Atheist's creed.

It is worthy of remark, in this connection, how frequently those who are
the most daring and decided advocates of Atheism or Pantheism do
nevertheless ascribe to Nature many of the attributes which belong to
God only. This fact is admirably illustrated by the distinguished
founder of the Boyle Lectureship;[128] and it is abundantly confirmed by
examples which have been furnished by more recent times. The author of
the "System of Nature," which appeared before the first French
Revolution, was an avowed and most reckless Atheist;[129] yet he
ascribes to Nature most of the attributes which are usually supposed to
belong to God, such as self-existence, eternity, immutability,
infinitude, and unity; and if the _intellectual_ and _moral_ attributes
may seem to be omitted, as they must be, to some extent, in any system
of Atheism, yet _thought_, _design_, and _will_, are expressly ascribed
to Nature.[130] And the only difference between the Theist and the
Atheist is said to be, that the latter ascribes all the phenomena of
Nature "to material, natural, sensible, and known causes," while the
former ascribes them to "spiritual, supernatural, unintelligible, and
unknown causes;" or, in other words, "to an _occult cause_."[131] It is
manifestly a matter of indifference whether this method of accounting
for the phenomena of Nature be called Atheism or Pantheism; in either
aspect it is essentially the same.

The more recent advocates of Atheism or Pantheism have often made use of
similar language. M. Crousse affirms that "all nature is _animated_ by
an internal force which moves it;" that this is the true _spontaneity_,
the _causality_, which is the origin of all sensible manifestations, for
"_mens agitat molem et magno se corpore miscet_;" that "matter, the most
cold and indifferent, is full of life, capable of engendering thought,
and containing mind in it, at least _potentially_;" and that, to every
man who has true insight, "the world feels, moves, speaks, and
thinks."[132] The author of "The Purpose of Existence" makes it his
grand object to show that "the evolvement of mind out of matter" is the
primary law and final cause of the universe; that "this process
commences with vegetation, extracting from matter the spirit of
vitality;" that "this spirit is preserved amid the decay of vegetables,
and transfused into animals, thus establishing the great
working-principle of Nature, that spirit is extracted from matter by
organized bodies, and survives their dissolution."[133] Of course, if
matter have the power of evolving intelligent and even immortal minds by
its own inherent properties and established laws, it will not be
difficult to find in Nature a sufficient substitute for God.

But the most revolting specimen of that material Pantheism, which is
only another name for absolute Atheism, that has recently appeared,
occurs in the Letters of Atkinson and Martineau: "We require no
supernatural causes, when we can recognize adequate natural causes,
_inherent in the constitution of Nature_;" "nor are more causes to be
admitted than are sufficient to produce any particular change or
effect."--"Man has his place in Natural History; his nature does not
essentially differ from that of the lower animals; he is but a fuller
development, and varied condition, of the same fundamental nature or
cause,--of _that which we contemplate as matter_, and its changes,
relations, and properties. Mind is the consequence or product of the
material man, its existence depending on the action of the brain."--"Its
highest object seems to be, a sense of the infinite and abstract
power,--_the inherent force and principle of Nature_."[134]

From these specimens it must be evident that whatever nominal
distinction may exist between Material Pantheism and avowed Atheism,
they are radically identical, and that, for all practical purposes, they
may be treated as one and the same. From the same specimens we may
derive some useful hints respecting the essential conditions and the
right conduct of the Theistic argument. It is not enough to show that
there must be a self-existent, eternal, and infinite First Cause, for
this is admitted by the advocate of Material Pantheism, who substitutes
Nature for God. It is further necessary to show that the actual
phenomena of the Universe cannot be accounted for by means of any
properties or powers inherent in itself; and that they must be ascribed
to a living, intelligent, and powerful Being, distinct from Nature and
superior to it. The theory of Materialism must be discussed on its own
proper and peculiar merits, and if we find good cause to reject it, the
main pillar of Material Pantheism will fall to the ground. In the mean
time we shall only further observe, that this form of Pantheism cannot
be maintained without the help either of the doctrine of the Eternity of
Matter or of the Theory of Development, or, rather, without the aid of
both; and that, if it could be established, Polytheism would be its
natural product, if not its inevitable result.



We have already seen that the system of Spinoza equally recognized the
two "attributes" of extension and thought, and the two corresponding
"modes" of body and soul, in connection with the one infinite and
eternal "Substance." We have also seen that most of his followers have
taken a one-sided view of the subject, and have either merged the
spiritual into the corporeal, so as to educe a Material or Hylozoic
Pantheism, or have virtually annihilated the material by resolving it
into the mental, so as to educe a system of Ideal or Spiritual

"In Spinoza," says Mr. Morell, "we see the model upon which the modern
Idealists of Germany have renewed their search into the absolute ground
of all phenomena;" and there can be no doubt that his speculations
contain the germ of Ideal as well as of Material Pantheism. The
historical filiation of modern Pantheism cannot be satisfactorily
explained, in either of its two forms, without reference to his
writings; and yet its precise character, as it is developed in more
recent systems, demands for its full elucidation some knowledge of the
course and progress of philosophical speculation in the interval which
elapsed between the death of Spinoza and the subsequent developments of
his theory.

We cannot here attempt to trace the history of German Idealism, from its
source in the writings of Leibnitz, through the logical school of
Wolfius and his successors, till it reached its culminating point in the
philosophy of Hegel:--we shall content ourselves with a brief reference
to the fundamental principles of Kant's system, which may be justly said
to have contained the prolific germs, or, at least, to have determined
the prevailing character, of all the subsequent speculations of the
German schools. For if modern Pantheism be indebted to Spinoza for its
_substance_, it is equally indebted to Kant for its _form_; and no
intelligible account can be given of the phases which it has
successively assumed, without reference to the powerful influence which
his Philosophy, in one or other of its constituent elements, has exerted
on all his successors in the same field of inquiry.

The Philosophy of Kant has a most important bearing on the whole
question as to the validity of the natural evidence for the being and
perfections of God. We shall confine our attention to those parts of his
system which give rise to the speculations that have issued in the
recent theories of Ideal or Spiritual Pantheism.

In attempting to explain the nature and origin of the whole system of
human knowledge, Kant divides our intellectual being into _three_
distinct faculties,--sensation, understanding, and reason. He supposes
that from sensation we derive the whole _matter_ of our knowledge; that
from the understanding we derive its _form_, or the manner in which it
is conceived of by us; and that from reason we derive certain general or
abstract notions, which are highly useful, since they give a systematic
unity to human thought, but which have no _objective validity_, that is,
either no reality in nature that corresponds to them, or none, at least,
that can be scientifically demonstrated. From this fundamental principle
of his system it follows, that the only part of our knowledge which has
any objective reality is that which is derived from our
sense-perceptions, all else being purely _formal or subjective_, and
arising solely from the laws of our own mental nature, which determine
us to conceive of things in a particular way; and that even that part of
our knowledge which is derived from sense-perception is purely
phenomenal, since we know nothing of any object around us beyond the
bare fact that it exists, and that it appears to us to be as our senses
represent it. Hence the _skeptical_ tendency of Kant's speculations, in
so far as the scientific certainty of our knowledge is concerned. The
_practical utility_ of that knowledge is not disputed, but its
_objective reality_, or the possibility of proving it, is, to a large
extent, denied. Still he admits a primitive _dualism_, and a radical
distinction between _the subject and the object_, between the mind which
thinks and the matter of its thoughts. The _matter_ comes from without,
the _form_ from within; and the senses are the channels through which
the phenomena of nature are poured into the mould of the human mind. All
knowledge implies this combination of _matter_ with _form_, and is
possible only on the supposition of the concurrent action both of the
_object_ and _subject_; not that either of the two is known to us in its
essence, or that their real existence can be scientifically
demonstrated, for we know the subject only in its relation to the
object, and the object only in its relation to the subject; but that
this _relation_ necessarily requires the joint action of both, by which
alone we can acquire the only knowledge of which we are capable, and
which is supposed to be purely phenomenal, relative, and subjective. It
is true that we are capable of forming certain grand ideas, such as that
of God, the universe, and the soul; but these are the pure products of
Reason, the mere personifications of our own modes of thinking, and have
no objective reality, at least none that can be scientifically
demonstrated. But, while "the Speculative Reason" is held to be
incompetent to prove the existence of God, "the Practical Reason" is
appealed to; and in the conscious liberty of the soul, and its sense of
incumbent moral duty,--"the Categorical Imperative,"--Kant finds
materials for reconstructing the basis and fabric of a true Theology,
not scientifically perfect, but practically sufficient for all the
purposes of life.

It was scarcely possible that Philosophy could find a permanent
resting-place in such a theory as this; for, while it recognized both
the "object" and the "subject" as equally indispensable, the one for the
_matter_, the other for the _form_, of human knowledge, it did not hold
the balance even between the two. It assigned so much to the "subject,"
and so little to the "object," and made so large a part of our knowledge
merely formal and subjective, that it could neither be regarded as a
self-consistent system of Skepticism, nor yet as a satisfactory basis
for Scientific Belief. It was almost inevitable that speculative minds,
starting from this point, should diverge into one or other of _three_
courses; either following the line of the "subject" exclusively, and
treating the "object" as a superfluous incumbrance, so as to reach, as
Schulz and Maimon did, a pure Subjective Idealism, akin to utter
Skepticism; or following the line of the "object," and giving it greater
prominence than it had in the system of Kant, so as to lay the
foundation, as Jacobi and Herbart did, of a system of Objective
Certitude; or keeping _both_ in view, and attempting, as Fichte,
Schelling, and Hegel did, to blend the two into one, so as to reduce
them to systematic unity.[135]

In Kant's system a _dualism_ was admitted, a real distinction between
the "subject" and "object" of thought; but he had ascribed so much to
the subject, and so little to the object, that Fichte conceived the idea
of dispensing with the latter altogether, and constructing his whole
philosophy on a purely subjective basis. Since Kant had taught that all
objects are conceived of either according to the forms of our
sensational faculty, or the categories of our understanding, or the
ideas of pure reason, it seemed to be unnecessary to suppose the
existence of any object distinct from the mind itself. For if it be the
mind which furnishes the form of Space, and gives us the idea of
Substance, of Cause, of Being, the mind alone might suffice to account
for the whole sum of human knowledge. Fichte was followed by Schelling,
and Schelling by Hegel, each differing from his predecessor, but all
concurring in the attempt _to identify "Seyn," or absolute Being, with
Thought_, and to represent everything in the universe as a mere mode or
manifestation of one Infinite Essence. The _identity_ of Existence and
Thought is the fundamental principle of Hegel's doctrine. With him,
Being and the Idea of being, are the same; and Being and Thought are
combined in the "Absolute," which is at once ideal and real (l'être and
l'idée). With him, the idea of God is that of _a logical process of
thought_, "ever unfolding itself, but never unfolded,"--a dialectic
movement rather than a Divine Being, which realizes itself, and reaches
a state of self-consciousness in man. God, nature, and man, are but one
process of thought, considered in different aspects; all finite
personalities are only so many thoughts of one eternal mind; God is in
man, and man is in God, and the progress of humanity, in all its stages,
is a Divine development.

This bare outline of these systems must suffice for our present purpose,
and we now proceed to offer a few remarks on the doctrine of Ideal as
distinguished from Material Pantheism.

1. The whole system of "Idealism," as propounded in the German schools,
is utterly baseless, and contradicts the intuitive, the universal
convictions of the human mind. For what is Idealism? Reduced to its
utmost simplicity, and expressed in the briefest formula, it amounts, in
substance, to this: _that the whole universe is to us a mere process of
thought_, and that nothing exists, or, at least, can be known by us,
beyond _the ideas of our own minds_. And what is the ground on which it
rests? It rests entirely on the assumption, that, since we can know
nothing otherwise than through the exercise of our mental faculties,
these faculties must be the sole sources of all our knowledge, and
altogether independent of any external object. According to this theory,
the mind is not informed or instructed by the universe, but the universe
is created by the mind; the objective is developed from the subjective;
and there is no reality anywhere except in the region of consciousness.
Nature is seen only as it is imaged in the mirror within; and to us it
is a mere phantasmagoria, a series of phenomena, a succession of
thoughts. "The sum total," says Fichte, "is this; there is absolutely
nothing permanent, either without me or within me, but only an unceasing
change. I know absolutely nothing of any existence, not even of my own.
I myself know nothing, and am nothing. Images there are; they constitute
all that apparently exists; and what they know of themselves is after
the manner of images; images that pass and vanish without there being
aught to witness their transition; that consist, in fact, of the images
of images, without significance and without an aim. I myself am one of
these images; nay, I am not even thus much, but only a confused image of
images. All reality is converted into a marvellous dream, without a life
to dream of, and without a mind to dream,--into a dream made up only of
a dream itself. Perception is a dream; thought--the source of all
existence, and all the reality which I imagine to myself of _my_
existence, of my power, of my destination--is the dream of that

The tendency of such speculations as these towards universal Skepticism,
or even absolute Nihilism, with the exception only of certain fleeting
phenomena of Consciousness, is too apparent to require any formal proof;
and it must be equally evident that they contradict some of the most
universal and deeply-rooted convictions of the human mind. The ultimate
ground of every system of Idealism which excludes the knowledge of an
external world must be one or other of these two assumptions, or a
combination of both: either, that our knowledge cannot extend beyond the
range of consciousness, which takes cognizance only of ideas, or of
subjective mental states; or that any attempt to extend it beyond these
limits, so as to embrace external objects as really existing, can only
be successful on this condition,--that we _prove_, by reasoning from the
subjective to the objective, that there is a necessary _logical_
connection between the state of the one and the reality of the other.
Each of these assumptions is equally groundless. It is true that
consciousness, strictly so called, takes cognizance only of what passes
within; it is not true that consciousness, in this restricted sense, is
commensurate with our entire knowledge. It is true that we acquire our
knowledge only through the exercise of our mental faculties; it is not
true that our mental faculties are the only sources of our knowledge,
nor even that, without the concurrence of certain objects, they could
give us any knowledge at all. It is true that there must be a connection
between the subjective and the objective; it is not true that this
connection must be established by _reasoning_, or that we must _prove_
the existence of an external world distinct from the thinking mind,
before we are entitled to believe in it. For a great part of our
knowledge is _presentative_, and we directly perceive the objects of
Nature not less than the phenomena of Consciousness.

When it is said, in the jargon of the modern German philosophy, that
"the Ego has no immediate consciousness of the Non-Ego as existing, but
that the Non-Ego is only represented to us in a modification of the
self-conscious Ego, and is, in fact, only a phenomenon of the Ego,"--a
plain, practical Englishman, little tolerant of these subtle
distinctions, might be ready, if not deterred by the mere sound of the
words, to test them by a particular example. What am I to think, he
might say, of my own father and mother? They are familiarly known to me.
I have seen them, and talked with, them, and loved them as my own soul.
I have hitherto believed that they existed, and that they were really a
father and mother to me. But now I am taught that they are--mere
modifications of my own mind; that they are nothing more than simple
phenomena of the self-conscious Ego; and that, so far from being the
earthly authors of my existence, they are themselves--the creation and
offspring of my own thought. And on what ground am I asked to receive
this astonishing discovery? Why, simply because I can be sure of nothing
but the facts of consciousness. But how are _these facts proved_? They
"need no proof; they are self-evident; they are immediately and
irresistibly believed." Be it so. I can just as little doubt of the
existence of my body, of the distinct personality of my parents, and the
reality of an external universe, as of any fact of consciousness. May it
not be, whether we can explain it or not, that the one set of facts is
as directly _presented_, and needs as little to be _proved_, as the

2. The doctrine of "Identity" constitutes a prominent and indispensable
part of the theory of Idealism, and is the ground-principle of
Philosophical Pantheism. It amounts, in substance, to the proposition,
that Existence and Thought are _one_, that the "subject" and "object" of
knowledge are _one_. "If the doctrine of Identity means anything, it
means that Thought and Being are essentially one; that the process of
_thinking_ is virtually the same as the process of _creating_; that in
constructing the universe by logical deduction, we do virtually the same
thing as Deity accomplishes in developing himself in all the forms and
regions of creation; that every man's reason, therefore, is really God;
in fine, that Deity is the whole sum of consciousness immanent in the
world."[137] It is through the medium of this doctrine of Identity that
Idealism passes into Pantheism,--not, indeed, the Idealism of Berkeley,
which recognized, consistently or otherwise, the existence of the human
mind and of the Divine Spirit, while it denied the independent
existence of matter,--but the Idealism of Fichte and others, which
resolved mind into a mere process of thought, a continuous stream or
succession of ideas. To _such_ a theory the doctrine of Identity was
indispensable. Its advocates were bound to show that nothing existed, or
could be proved to exist, in the universe but _thought_, and that, in
every case, the _subject_ and _object_ of thought might be identified as
one. We find, accordingly, that from the earliest ages down to the
present time, the idea of "absolute unity," or "universal identity," has
been frequently exhibited in connection with the speculations of
philosophical Idealists. The disciples of the Eleatic school in ancient
Greece, not less than those of the modern schools of Germany, insisted
on the identity of thought and its object, and regarded everything that
might seem to be external to the mind as a mere illusion.

It may be difficult for the British mind, familiarized from infancy with
the philosophy of common sense, to grasp the idea which this doctrine
involves; but, on the principles of absolute Idealism, it may be easily
explained, and may even seem to have some foundation in facts that must
be acknowledged by all. There are _two_ cases, particularly, which may
serve to illustrate, if they cannot suffice to prove, it. The first is
that of the Supreme Intelligence, conceived as existing before the
production of a created universe, when He was himself the sole "subject"
and the sole "object" of thought; in other words, the absolute
"Subject-Object." The second is that of the human consciousness,
conceived as occupied solely with certain subjective mental states, when
the mind may be said to be at once the "subject" and the "object" of its
own thought. There are cases, then, in which mind may be regarded as a
"subject-object;" the case of human consciousness, when the mind takes
cognizance of its own states or acts, and the case of the Divine
consciousness, while as yet the created universe had not been called
into being. But the question is, whether, _in all cases_, the "subject"
and "object" of thought are the same? or, whether existence and thought
are _universally_ identical? An affirmative answer to this question
would imply, that nothing whatever exists except only in the mind that
perceives it; that, according to Bishop Berkeley, "the existence of
unthinking things without any relation to their being perceived" is an
absurd or impossible supposition; that "their _esse_ is _percipi_," that
is, that their being consists in their being perceived or known; whence
it would follow, as Berkeley himself admits, that we have no reason to
believe in the continued existence of the desk at which we write, after
we have left the room in which we see it, excepting such as may arise
from the supposition, that if we returned to that room we might still
see it, or that in our absence it may still be perceived by some other
mind. Existence is identified with thought, and nothing exists save only
as it is thought of. Why? Simply because it can become known to us only
through the medium of consciousness, and that, too, in no other
character than as _a phenomenon of our own minds_.

That this doctrine is at direct variance with the universal convictions
of mankind, is too evident to require the slightest proof. That it is
_unphilosophical_, as well as _unpopular_, may be made apparent by two
very simple considerations. The _first_ is, that it assumes without
proof the only point in question, namely, that the objects of our
knowledge are nothing but the ideas of our own minds; whereas it is
affirmed, on the other side, and surely with at least an equal amount of
apparent reason, that we are so constituted as to have a direct
perception of external objects as well as of internal mental states. The
_second_ is, that the very formula of Idealism, which represents the
"Non-ego" as a mere modification of the conscious "Ego," seems to
involve a palpable contradiction; since it recognizes, in a certain
sense, _the difference between the "Ego and the Non-ego,"_ and yet, in
the same breath, annihilates that difference, and proclaims their
"identity."[138] Fichte admits, indeed, that we have the idea of
something which is _not-self_; but instead of ascribing it to an
external object, he accounts for it by a law of our mental nature, which
constrains us to _create a limit_, so as to give a determinate character
to our thought. The three technical formulas, therefore, which are
said[139] to express, respectively,--the affirmation of self,--the
affirmation of not-self,--and the determination of the one by the
other,--are all equally the products of our own mental laws, and do not
necessarily require the supposition of any external object; and hence it
follows that Self is the one only absolute principle, and that
everything else that is conceived of is constructed out of purely
subjective materials. The question whether the "object" be the
generative principle of the "idea," or _vice versâ_, is thus superseded;
for there is no longer any distinction between "object" and "subject;"
existence is identified with thought; the _Ego_ and the _Non-ego_ unite
in one absolute existence; and Self becomes the sole Subject-object, the
percipient and the perceived, the knowing and the known.

Of course, on this theory, there is no knowledge of God, just as there
can be no knowledge of Nature, and no knowledge of our fellow-men, as
distinct objective realities; it is a system of pure Idealism, which, if
consistently followed out, must terminate in utter _skepticism_ in
regard to many of the most familiar objects of human knowledge; or,
rather, in the hands of a thoroughly consequent reasoner, it must issue,
as Jacobi endeavored to show, in absolute _Nihilism_; since we can have
no better reason for believing in the existence of Self than we have
for believing in the reality of an external world, and the coexistence
of our fellow-men. Each of these beliefs is equally the spontaneous
product of certain mental laws, which are just as trustworthy, and need
as little to be proved, in the one case as in the other.

Fichte seems to have become aware of this fundamental defect of his
system; and, at a later period, he attempted to give it a firmer basis
by representing _self_, not as individual, but as Divine, that is, as
the Absolute manifesting itself in Man. He now admitted what, if he had
not denied, he had overlooked before, an essential reality as the
substratum both of the _Ego_ and _Non-ego;_ a reality of which all
things, whether within or without, are only so many "modes" or
manifestations. And it is at this point that his subjective Idealism
passes into Pantheism, and that we mark the close affinity between his
speculations and those of Spinoza. There is, in some respects, a wide
difference between the two; Spinoza assumed, Fichte denied, the
existence of matter; the former affirmed Substance to be the absolute
and infinite Essence; the latter proclaimed a spiritual universe, whose
essence was the infinite reason, or the Divine idea: but still, with
these and other points of difference, there existed a real, radical
affinity between the two systems, that of Fichte, not less than that of
Spinoza, being based on _the identity of existence and thought_; and
both systems being directed to show that there is but one Absolute
Being, of which all phenomena, whether material or mental, are only so
many modes or manifestations.

3. The philosophy of "the absolute," as applied in support of German
Pantheism, depends on the doctrine of "Identity," and must stand or fall
along with it.[140] The "absolute" is described as being at once
_ideal_ and _real_, pure _being_ and pure _thought_, and as developing
itself in a great variety of forms. The philosophy of the "absolute" is
represented as the _only science_, properly so called: it is assumed
that there can be no science of the finite, the variable, the
contingent, the relative, but only of the absolute, the unchangeable,
and the infinite. To constitute _this_ science, the doctrine of
"identity" is indispensable; the subject and the object of thought,
knowledge and being, must be reduced to scientific unity. Realism and
Idealism are thus blended together, or rather identified in the
philosophy of the "absolute." The idea of the "absolute," in which
_being_ and _thought_ are identical, is the only foundation of science,
and the ultimate ground of all certitude. And Pantheism is inferred from
this idea; for the "absolute," in which _being_ and _thought_ are
identified, is properly _the sole existence_, which develops and
manifests itself in a great variety of finite forms.

We are not disposed to treat the philosophy of the "absolute" either
with levity or with scorn. We feel that it brings us into contact with
some of the most profound and most deeply mysterious problems of human
thought. Finite as we are, we are so constituted that we cannot avoid
framing the _idea_, although we can never attain to a _comprehension_,
of the Infinite. There are absolute truths, and necessary truths, among
the elements of human knowledge. Account for them as we may, their
reality cannot be reasonably denied, nor their importance disparaged.
There is a tendency--and a most useful one--in the human mind, to seek
unity in all things, to trace effects to causes, to reduce phenomena to
laws, to resolve the complex into the simple, and to rise from the
contingent to the absolute, from the finite to the infinite. There are
few more interesting inquiries in the department of Psychology than that
which seeks to investigate the nature, the origin, and the validity of
those ideas which introduce us into the region of absolute, eternal,
and immutable Truth; and it were a lamentable result of the erratic
speculations of Germany did they serve to cast discredit on this
inquiry, or even to excite a prejudice against it, in the more sober,
but not less profound, minds of our own countrymen. But there need be
little apprehension on this score, if it be clearly understood and
carefully remembered, that the philosophy of the absolute, as taught in
Germany and applied in support of Pantheism, rests ultimately on the
theory of Idealism and the doctrine of Identity, by which all is
resolved into one absolute "subject-object," and _existence_ is
identified with _thought_. _This_ system may be discarded, and yet there
may still remain a sound, wholesome, and innocuous philosophy of the
"absolute;" a philosophy which does not seek to identify things so
generically different as _existence_ and _thought_, or to reduce mind
and matter, the finite and the infinite, to the same category; but
which, recognizing the differences subsisting between the various
objects of thought, seeks merely to investigate the nature and sources
of that part of human knowledge which relates to absolute or necessary
truths. The former of these rival systems may be favorable to Pantheism,
the latter will be found to be in entire accordance with Christian

The fundamental principle of philosophical Pantheism is either _the
unity of substance_, as taught by Spinoza, or _the identity of existence
and thought_, as taught, with some important variations, by Fichte,
Schelling, and Hegel. The Absolute is conceived of, not as a living
Being to whom a proper personality and certain intelligible attributes
may be ascribed, but as a vague, indeterminate _somewhat_, which has no
distinctive character, and of which, in the first instance, or prior to
its development, almost nothing can be either affirmed or denied. But
this absolute existence, by some unknown, inherent necessity, develops,
determines, and limits itself: it becomes being, and constitutes all
being: the infinite passes into the finite, the absolute into the
relative, the necessary into the contingent, the one into the many; all
other existences are only so many modes or forms of its manifestation.
Here is a theory which, to say the very least, is neither more
intelligible, nor less mysterious, than any article of the Christian
faith. And what are the proofs to which it appeals, what the principles
on which it rests? Its two fundamental positions are these; that finite
things have no distinct existence as realities in nature, and that there
exists only one Absolute Being, manifesting itself in a variety of
forms. And how are they demonstrated? Simply by the affirmation of
universal "Identity." But what if this affirmation be denied? What if,
founding on the clearest data of consciousness, we refuse to acknowledge
that _existence_ is identical with _thought_?[141] What if we continue
to believe that there are objects of thought which are distinct from
thought itself, and which must be _presented_ to the mind before they
can be _represented_ by the mind? What if, while we recognize the idea
both of the finite and the infinite, the relative and the absolute, the
contingent and the necessary, we cannot, by the utmost effort of our
reason, obliterate the difference between them, so as to reduce them to
one absolute essence? Then the whole superstructure of Pantheism falls
along with the Idealism on which it depends; and it is found to be, not
a solid and enduring system of truth, but a frail edifice, ingeniously
constructed out of the mere abstractions of the human mind.

The advocates of this system assume that the relations which subsist
between _beings_ are the same as the relations which subsist between our
_ideas_, and infer that _logic_ is sufficient to construct a system of
_metaphysic_. But Professor Nicolas has well said, that "while it is
certain we cannot know things but by the notions which we have of them,
and a certain parallelism may thus be established between _what exists_
and _what we think_ of that which exists, yet from this to the
_identity of being and thought_, such as Pantheism requires, there is a
vast distance, and we have no ground for believing that the _logical
relations_ of our ideas are identical with the _real relations_ of
beings. Speculative Pantheism is wholly built on this assumption. It
describes the relations of being according to the logical relations of
our thought; and it takes _logic_ for a kind of _metaphysic_. It
confounds the laws of thought with the laws of being. It seeks to solve
the question, What is the first Being, and what are its relations to
other beings? That Being must necessarily be the condition of all other
beings, and must virtually contain them all; nay, it must be capable of
becoming all things. It must therefore be simple, indeterminate,
indifferent, possessing no essential character, resembling nothing that
we actually know. All this is true of our _ideas_, but not of _beings_.
The highest idea,--that which is the logical condition of all others, and
also the most general, the most abstract, the most indeterminate,--this
idea contains all others, and by receiving this or that determination, it
becomes this or that particular idea. But what is true of the _idea_ is
not true of the _being_; no such vague, indeterminate, indifferent being
exists; and yet Pantheism confounds _the idea_ with _the being_, and
rests entirely on that confusion of thought."

       *       *       *       *       *

In bringing our review of Modern Pantheism to a close, we may offer a
few remarks illustrative of its _nature and tendency_, whether
considered as a system of speculative thought, or as a substitute for
religious belief.

In this view, it is important to observe, first of all, that the theory
of "Idealism," and the doctrine of "Identity," which constitute the
groundwork of the more spiritual form of Pantheism, are not more adverse
to our belief in the existence and personality of God, than they are to
our belief in the reality of an external world, or in the existence and
personality of man himself. They stand equally related to each of these
_three_ topics; and, if they be accepted at all, they must be
impartially applied, and consistently carried out into all their
legitimate consequences, as the only philosophical solution of the whole
question of Ontology. Perhaps this is not understood; certainly it has
not been duly considered by the more superficial _litterateurs_, who
have been slightly tinctured with Pantheism; but it will be acknowledged
at once by every consistent Idealist, who understands his own
philosophy, and who is honest or bold enough to carry it out into all
its practical applications. He knows very well, and, if sufficiently
candid, he will frankly confess, that the principles on which he founds,
if they be conclusive against the existence of a living, personal God,
are equally conclusive against the reality of an external world, and
against the doctrine of our own personality or that of our fellow-men.
With most minds, this consideration would be of itself a powerful
counteractive to all that is most dangerous in the theory of Idealism,
were it only clearly apprehended and steadily kept in view; for an
argument which proves too much is justly held to prove nothing, and that
theory which leaves us no right to believe in the existence of Nature,
or in the distinct personality of our fellow-men, can scarcely be held
sufficient to disprove the existence of God.

It may be observed, further, that Ideal Pantheism has a strong tendency
to engender a spirit either of Mysticism, on the one hand, or of
Skepticism on the other. It terminates in Mysticism when, seeking to
avoid Skepticism, it takes refuge in the doctrine of an "intellectual
intuition," such as gives an immediate knowledge of the Absolute: and it
terminates in Skepticism when, seeking to avoid Mysticism, it rejects
the doctrine of "intellectual intuition," and discovers that it has no
other and no higher claims to our confidence than such as are equally
possessed by any one of our common faculties, whose testimony the
Idealist has been taught to distrust and doubt.

It is further worthy of remark, that the philosophy of the Absolute, as
taught in the German schools, has been applied to the whole circle of
the Sciences, not less than to Theology, and that it has given birth to
numerous speculative systems, in Physics, in Chemistry, in Ethics, in
History, and in Politics, all strongly marked by the same characteristic
feature--the substitution of _à priori and deductive_ speculation for
the more sober and legitimate method of Inductive inquiry. The province
of Natural Science, in which, if anywhere, we should be guided by the
light of experience and observation, has been rudely invaded by this
transcendental philosophy, which offers to construct a theory of
universal knowledge on the basis of a certain self-development of the
Absolute. We are indebted to Mr. Morell for a specimen,[142] alike
amusing and instructive, of Schelling's speculations on this subject. We
shall not attempt to interpret its meaning, for, in sooth, we do not
pretend to understand it: but one thing is clear, the laws of Matter, of
Dynamics, of Organic structure and life, the laws of Knowledge, of
Action, and of Art, are all exhibited as mere deductions or corollaries
from the "idea of the Absolute;" and in the name of Natural Science, not
less than on behalf of Theology, we protest against this vicious method
of Philosophy, and do most earnestly deprecate the substitution of
Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, in the place of our own Bacon, and Boyle,
and Newton, as models of scientific thought.

The _practical influence_ of Pantheism, in so far as its peculiar
tendencies are not restrained or counteracted by more salutary beliefs,
must be deeply injurious, both to the individual and social welfare of
mankind. In its Ideal or Spiritual form it may be seductive to some
ardent, imaginative minds; but it is a wretched creed notwithstanding;
and it will be found, when calmly examined, to be fraught with the most
serious evils. It has been commended, indeed, in glowing terms, as a
creed alike beautiful and beneficent,--as a source of religious life
nobler and purer than any that can ever spring from the more gloomy
system of Theism: for, on the theory of Pantheism, God is manifest to
all, everywhere, and at all times; Nature, too, is aggrandized and
glorified, and everything in Nature is invested with a new dignity and
interest; above all, Man is conclusively freed from all fantastic hopes
and superstitious fears, so that his mind can now repose, with tranquil
satisfaction, on the bosom of the Absolute, unmoved by the vicissitudes
of life, and unscared even by the prospect of death. For what is death?
The dissolution of any living organism is but one stage in the process
of its further development; and whether it passes into a new form of
self-conscious life, or is reabsorbed into the infinite, it still forms
an indestructible element in the vast sum of Being. We may, therefore,
or, rather, we must, leave our future state to be determined by Nature's
inexorable laws, and we need, at least, fear no Being higher than
Nature, to whose justice we are amenable, or whose frown we should
dread.[143] But, even as it is thus exhibited by some of its warmest
partisans, it appears to us, we own, to be a dreary and cheerless creed,
when compared with that faith which teaches us to regard God as our
"Father in heaven," and that "hope which is full of immortality." It is
worse, however, than dreary; it is destructive of all religion and of
all morality. If it be an avowed antagonist to Christianity, it is not
less hostile to Natural Theology and to Ethical Science. It consecrates
error and vice, as being, equally with truth and virtue, necessary and
beneficial manifestations of the "infinite." It is a system of
Syncretism, founded on the idea that error is only an incomplete truth,
and maintaining that truth must necessarily be developed by error, and
virtue by vice. According to this fundamental law of "human progress,"
Atheism itself may be providential; and the axiom of a Fatalistic
Optimism--"Whatever is, is best"--must be admitted equally in regard to
truth and error, to virtue and vice.

It may be further observed, that modern Pantheism, whether in its
Material or Ideal form, is nothing else than the revival of some of the
earliest and most inveterate Principles of Paganism,--the same Paganism
which still flourishes among the "theosophic" dreamers of India, and
which exhibits its practical fruits in the horrors of Hindoo
superstition. For Pantheism, although repeatedly revived and exhibited
in new forms, has made no real progress since the time when it was first
taught in the Vedanta system, and sublimed in the schools of Alexandria.
Christianity, which encountered and triumphed over it in her youth, can
have nothing to fear from it in her mature age,[144] provided only that
she be faithful to herself, and spurn every offered compromise. But
there must be no truce, and no attempt at conciliation between the two.
The Pantheists of Germany have made the most impudent claims to the
virtual sanction of Christianity; they have even dared to make use of
Bible terms in a new sense, and have spoken of Revelation, Inspiration,
Incarnation, Redemption, Atonement, and Regeneration, in such a way as
to adapt them to the Pantheistic hypothesis. Common honesty is outraged,
and the conscience of universal humanity offended, by the conduct of
individuals--some of them wearing the robes of the holy ministry--who
have substituted the dreams of Pantheism for the doctrines of Jesus
Christ, and assailed, both from the pulpit and the press, the sacred
cause which they had solemnly vowed to maintain. But even in Germany
itself a powerful reaction has commenced; and the learning and labors of
such men as Olshausen, and Tholuck, and Hengstenberg, may be hailed as
the dawn of a better and brighter day.

It may be observed, _finally_, that Pantheism stands directly opposed to
Christian Theism in several distinct respects. The following are the
principal points of collision between the two:

1. Pantheism denies,--Christian Theism affirms, the existence of a
_living, personal God_, distinct from Nature, and superior to it.

2. Pantheism supersedes,--Christian Theism reveals, the doctrine of a
real creation.

3. Pantheism contests,--Christian Theism confirms, the doctrine of the
constant providence and moral government of God.

4. Pantheism disowns,--Christian Theism declares, the doctrine of _a
conscious, personal immortality_.

5. Pantheism rejects,--Christian Theism receives, the whole scheme of
Revelation, considered as a supernatural code of Divine truth. The one
accounts for its origin on the principle of natural development, the
other on that of supernatural interposition.

6. Pantheism has no living, self-conscious, personal God, no loving
Father, no watchful Providence, no Hearer of Prayer, no Object of
confiding trust, no Redeemer, no Sanctifier, no Comforter: it leaves us
with nothing higher than Nature as our portion here, and nothing beyond
its eternal vicissitudes as our prospect hereafter.


[103] AMAND SAINTES, "Histoire de la Vie et des Ouvrages de Spinoza,
Fondateur de l'Exegése et de la Philosophie Modernes."

[104] M. COUSIN, "Cours de l'Histoire de la Philosophie," I. 403. See
also "Fragmens Philosophiques," Preface, second edition, p. XXVII.;
"Nouveaux Fragments," pp. 9, 160.

[105] M. AD. FRANCK, "De la Certitude," Preface, p. XXI.

[106] M. A. JAVARI, "De la Certitude," p. 509.

[107] AMAND SAINTES, "Histoire de la Vie et des Ouvrages de Spinoza,"
pp. 208, 210.

[108] ABBÉ MARET, "Essai sur le Panthéisme dans les Sociétés Modernes,"
pp. 6, 11, 31. Ibid., "Theodicée Chretiénne," pp. 437, 444, 449.

[109] MR. MORELL'S "Historical and Critical View," II. 104, 153.

[110] PIERRE LEROUX, "De l'Humanité," I. vi. 3, 295.

[111] L. D. CROUSSE, "Des Principes, ou Philosophie Première," 2d
Edition, Paris, 1846.

[112] ABBÉ MARET, "Theodicée Chretienne," p. 94.

[113] ABBÉ GOSCHLER, sur "l'Histoire du Pantheisme." ABBÉ MARET,
"Essai," chap. IV.

[114] PIERRE LEROUX, "De l'Humanité," I. 249. M. CROUSSE, "Des
Principes," pp. 199, 211, 296. BAYLE, "Pensées," III. 67. The well-known
lines of the sixth Æneid, "Principio coelum, ac terras, camposque
liquentes," &c. are thus applied.

[115] ABBÉ MARET, "Essai," pp. 152, 156, 221.

[116] DR. MERLE D'AUBIGNÉ, "History of Reformation," V. 84.

[117] ABBÉ MARET, "Essai," p. 89; "Theodicée," p. 368.

[118] FRED. VON SCHLEGEL, "Philosophy of Life," p. 417. See, also, DR.
THOLUCK'S remarks on the same point in the "Princeton Theological
Essays," I. 555.

[119] MUSÆUS, "Tractatus Theologico-politicus ad veritatis lumen
examinatus," 1674. REGNERI A MANSVELT, "Adversus anonymum
Theologico-politicum, Liber singularis," 1674. FRANCOIS CUYPER, "Arcana
Atheismi Revelata," 1676. JOHN BREDENBOURG, "Enervatio Tractatus
Theol.-polit." CHRIST. WITTICHII, "Anti-Spinoza, sive Examen," 1690.
PIERRE POIRET, "Fundamenta Atheismi Eversa, sive Specimen Absurditatis
Spinozianæ." FENELON, "De l'Existence de Dieu," p. II., c. III.,
"Refutation du Spinozisme." HUET, "La Conformité de la Raison avec la
Foi," 1692. HOWE, "Living Temple," I. 262. S. CLARKE, "Discourse on the
Being and Attributes of God," pp. 25, 44, 58, 80.

[120] JEAN COLERUS, "Vie de Spinoza," reprinted by Saisset, p. 4.

[121] SPINOZA, "Ethica," Definitions III., IV., V.

[122] "Il construit le systéme entiere des êtres avec ces trois seuls
elements; la substance, l'attribut, et le mode."--"Voila l'idée mere de
la metaphysique de Spinoza."--SAISSET.

[123] SAISSET, "Introduction," p. XXXIX.

[124] SPINOZA, "De Intellectus Emendatione." This treatise contains the
exposition of his method.

[125] M. F. PERRON, "Essai d'une Nouvelle Theorie sur les Idées
Fondamentales," 1843.

[126] "Ici, a prendre les mots dans le sens ordinaire, il semble qu'il
soit demontré qui _la Creation est impossible_, principe justement cher
au Pantheisme; tandis qu'au fond, tout ce qui est demontré, c'est que
_l'Etre en soi est necessairement incréé_,--verité incontestable, dont
_le Pantheisme n'a rien a tirer_."--PROF. SAISSET, Introduction, p.

[127] M. L'ABBÉ DE CONDILLAC, "Traité des Sensations," 2 vols.

[128] The HON. ROBERT BOYLE, "Theological Works," II. 79.--"A Free
Inquiry into the Received Notion of Nature."

[129] "Systême de la Nature," II. 75, 110, 115.

[130] "Tout est toujours dans l'ordre rélativement à la Nature, où tous
les êtres ne font que suivre les loix qui leur sont imposées. Il est
entré _dans son plans_ que de certaines terres produiroient des fruits
delicieux, tandis que d'autres ne fourniroient que des épines, des
vegetaux dangereux. _Elle a volu_ que quelques societés produise des
sages," &c.--Vol. I. 265, also 267.

[131] "Systême de la Nature," II. 102.

[132] M. CROUSSE, "Des Principes," Paris, 1846, pp. 81, 93: "Pour qui
sait voir, le Monde sent, se ment, parle, et pense."

[133] "The Purpose of Existence," pp. 85, 89. London, 1850.

[134] "Letters on the Laws of Man's Nature and Development." By H. G.

[135] MR. MORELL, "History of Philosophy," II. 71.

[136] SIR WM. HAMILTON'S Edition of DR. REID'S "Works," p. 129.

[137] MR. MORELL, "History of Philosophy," II. 127. M. MARET, "Essai sur
le Pantheisme," pp. 129, 133, 143, 192, 276. Ibid., "Theodicée," pp. 5,
123, 192, 199.

[138] SIR WILLIAM HAMILTON'S edition of REID'S "Works," p. 281. Sir
William does not seem to admit that there is a contradiction such as I
have noted.

[139] 1. "The _ego_ or _moi_ affirms _itself_." 2. "The _ego_ or _moi_
affirms a _non-ego_ or _non-moi_." 3. "The _ego_ or _moi_ affirms itself
to be determined by the _non-ego_ or _non-moi_."

[140] M. MARET, "Essai," pp. 129, 142, 146, 175, 192, 225, 276. Ibid.,
"Theodicée," pp. 193, 366, 378, 386, 394. MR. MORELL, "History," II.
127, 138.

[141] PROFESSOR NICOLAS, "Quelques Considerations sur le Pantheisme,"
pp. 20-31.

[142] MR. MORELL, "History of Philosophy," II. 129.

[143] M. CROUSSE, "Des Principes." M. MARET, "Essal," pp. 69, 86, 150;
"Theodicée" pp. 311, 314. VALROGER, "Etudes Critiques," pp. 97, 101,
115, 151, 412.

[144] M. MARET, "Essai sur Pantheisme," p. 107. "Le Christianisme saura
vaincre dans son âge mûr l'ennemi qu'il a terrassé en naissant."



The doctrine of Materialism stands equally related to the "mechanical"
form of Atheism, and to the "hylozoic" form of Pantheism. It is subsumed
in both, and is the fundamental postulate on which they respectively

It has no natural affinity with the more "ideal" or "spiritual" form of
Pantheism. We must not conclude, however, that it has no historical
connection with it. For it is instructive to mark, in tracing the
history of philosophic speculation, that its course resembles not so
much the uniform current of a stream, as the alternate flowing and
ebbing of the tide; or, if we may change the figure, that its movement
may be likened to the oscillation of a pendulum, which no sooner reaches
its highest elevation on the one side, than it acquires a tendency to
rush to the opposite extreme on the other. There can be little doubt
that the recent revival of speculative "Idealism" was the result, at
least in part, of a strong reaction against the "sensational"
philosophy, which had degenerated in the school of Priestley at home,
and in that of Condillac abroad, into a system of gross and revolting
Materialism. For the same reason, we may now, I think, anticipate a
speedy reaction the other way,--a reaction against the extravagances of
"idealistic" and "transcendental" speculation, and a tendency towards a
more practical and matter-of-fact philosophy. This tendency, if guided
by the true spirit of the Baconian method, may give a powerful impulse
to Inductive Science in all its departments; but, if biased by partial
and one-sided views, may issue either in the temporary ascendancy of the
Positive School, or the partial revival of some other form of

Some such tendency might have been expected to arise as soon as Idealism
should have reached its culminating point. For, on a comprehensive view
of the whole history of speculative thought, we find that there are just
_four_ great systems of Metaphysics, which are perpetually recurring, as
it were, in cycles. The first is the system of Dualism,--not the Dualism
of Christian Theology, which speaks of God and nature, the Creator and
the creature,--but the Dualism of ancient Paganism, which held Matter
and Spirit to be equally uncreated and eternal: the second is
Materialism, which resolves all into Matter and its laws: the third is
Idealism, which resolves all into Mind and its modifications: and the
fourth is Pantheism, which identifies Existence with Thought, and
resolves all into the Absolute.[145] In the present age, Idealism is in
the ascendant, and has risen to the height of Pantheism; but, by a
natural reaction, many are beginning to desiderate a more substantial
and practical philosophy, while the rapid progress of physical science
is directing their thoughts more and more to the wonders of the material
world. In these circumstances, there may be a tendency to relapse into
the Materialism of the last century, which attempted to explain the
whole theory of the universe by the laws of _matter_ and _motion_; or at
least to embrace some modification of the Positive Philosophy, which
excludes all _causes_, whether efficient or final, from the field of
human knowledge, and confines our inquiries to the mere phenomena and
laws of material nature.

There are not wanting various significant indications of the existence
of this tendency at the present day. It is sufficiently indicated, in
some quarters, by the mere omission of all reference to Mind or Spirit
as distinct from Matter; and, in others, by elaborate attempts to
explain all the phenomena of life and thought by means of physical
agencies and organic laws. The writings of Comte, Crousse, Cabanis, and
Broussais,[146] afford ample evidence of its growing prevalence in
France; and although it has been said by a recent historian of
Philosophy that in England there has been no formal avowal, or at least
no recognized school, of Materialism, since the publication of Dr.
Thomas Brown's reply to Darwin's Zoönomia, yet there is too much reason
to believe that it was all along cherished by not a few private
thinkers, who had imbibed the spirit of Hobbes and Priestley; and now it
is beginning to speak out, in terms too unambiguous to be misunderstood,
in such works as "The Purpose of Existence" and the "Letters" of
Atkinson and Martineau. But apart from the opinions of individual
inquirers, it must be remembered that there is a tendency in certain
studies, when exclusively pursued, to generate a frame of mind which
will tempt men either to adopt the theory of Materialism, or at least to
attach undue importance to physical agencies and organic laws. This
tendency may be observed in the study of Physiology, especially when it
is combined with that of Phrenology and Animal Magnetism; not that there
is any necessary or strictly logical connection between these studies
and Materialism, for some of their ablest expounders, including Cabanis,
Gall, and Spurzheim, have explicitly disavowed that theory; but simply
that, in prosecuting such inquiries, the mind is insensibly led to
bestow an undue, if not exclusive, attention on the phenomena and laws
of our material organization, so as to become comparatively unmindful of
what is mental, moral, and spiritual in the constitution of man. For
these reasons, and considering, especially, the close connection of
Materialism both with the mechanical Atheism of the past, and the
hylozoic Pantheism of the present age, we deem it necessary to subject
its claims to a rigorous scrutiny, in connection with the subject of our
present inquiry.

What, then, is the doctrine of Materialism? What are the forms in which
it has appeared, and what the ground on which it rests? How does it
stand related to the question concerning the nature and existence of
God, or the constitution and destiny of Man? A brief answer to these
questions will be sufficient to show that this theory cannot be safely
disregarded in any attempt to construct a comprehensive and conclusive
argument on the first principles of Natural Theology.



The doctrine of Materialism has assumed several distinct phases or forms
in the hands of its different advocates; and these must be carefully
discriminated from each other, if we would either estimate aright their
respective merits, or do justice to the parties by whom they have been
severally maintained.

The grossest and most revolting form of Materialism is that which
_identifies mind with matter_, and _thought with motion_. It denies that
there is any real or radical difference between physical and moral
phenomena, and affirms that life and thought are so entirely dependent
on material organization, that the dissolution of the body must
necessarily be the destruction of conscious existence, and that death
can only be an eternal sleep. This is the doctrine of Materialism which
was taught in a former age, by the author of the "Systême de la Nature,"
and which has recently been revived by M. Comte in France, and by
Atkinson and Martineau in England. A few extracts will sufficiently
illustrate its character and tendency. "Men have evidently abused the
distinction," says Baron D'Holbach, "which is so often made between _man
physical_ and _man moral_: man moral is nothing else than that physical
being considered in a certain point of view, that is, with reference to
some modes of action which belong to his peculiar organization."--"The
universe--that vast assemblage of everything that exists--exhibits
nowhere anything else than _matter and motion_."--"If we are asked, what
is man? we reply, that he is a material being, organized or framed so as
to feel, to think, and to be affected in certain ways peculiar to
himself, according to his organization."[147] More recently, M. Comte
has affirmed that "the subject of all our researches is _one_," and that
"all natural phenomena are the necessary results either of the laws of
extension or of the laws of motion;" while M. Crousse is quite clear
that "intelligence is a property or effect of matter," and that "body
and spirit together constitute matter." In our own country, Atkinson and
Martineau have not shrunk from the avowal of the same doctrine, or the
adoption of the most revolting consequences that can be deduced from it.
"Instinct, passion, thought, are effects of organized substances."--"Mind
is the consequence or product of the material man; it is not a thing
having a seat or home in the brain, but it is the manifestation or
expression of _the brain in action,_ as heat and light are of fire, and
fragrance of the flower."[148]

The doctrine of Materialism, as formerly taught by Dr. Priestley and
his followers, is in some respects similar to that which we have just
noticed, but in other respects differs from it, if not in its essential
nature, at least in its collateral adjuncts and its practical
applications. It resembles the theory of D'Holbach and Comte, in so far
as it affirms the doctrine of _unisubstancisme_, and rejects the idea of
a _dualism_ such as is implied in the common doctrine of Matter and
Spirit. But it differs from that theory, inasmuch as it is combined,
whether consistently or otherwise, with the recognition of a personal
God, a resurrection from the dead, and a future state of reward and
punishment. Dr. Priestley seems to have fluctuated for a time between
two opposite extremes,--that of _spiritualizing_ Matter, and that of
_materializing_ Mind; for, in a very remarkable passage, we find him
saying, "This scheme of _the immateriality of Matter_, as it may be
called, or rather, _the mutual penetration of Matter_, first occurred to
my friend Mr. Mitchell on reading 'Baxter on the Immateriality of the
Soul.'"[149] But at length he settled down in the fixed belief of
Materialism, as he had always held the principle of _unisubstancisme_.
He held throughout that "Man does not consist of two principles so
essentially different from each other as Matter and Spirit, but the
whole man is of _one uniform composition_; and that either the material
or the immaterial part of the universal system is superfluous."[150] He
attempts, therefore, to show, that sensation, perception, and
thought,--the common properties of _mind_,--are not incompatible with
extension, attraction, and repulsion, which he conceives to be the only
essential properties of _matter;_ that both classes of properties may
possibly belong to the same subject; and that hence no second substance
is necessary to account for and explain any of the phenomena of human
nature. In this respect, his theory is precisely the same with that
which has been already noticed; but the peculiarity by which it is
distinguished from the Atheistic and Antichristian speculations of
D'Holbach and Comte is twofold. In the _first_ place, while he ascribes
to mere matter the power of sensation, thought, and volition, he admits
that these powers, and all others belonging to matter, were communicated
to it at the first, and are still continued, by the Divine will, thus
recognizing the doctrine both of Creation and Providence; and in the
_second_ place, while he denies the natural immortality of the soul, and
even the possibility of its conscious existence in a state of separation
from the body, he does not deny the immortality of man, but receives it,
as well as the doctrine of future rewards and punishments, on the
authority of that Divine Revelation which speaks of "the resurrection of
the dead," and of "a judgment to come." In these respects, his theory is
widely different from that of the "Systême de la Nature," while the two
are substantially the same in so far as they relate simply to the
constitution of human nature. He is not an Atheist, but a Theist, and a
Theist, too, who, believing in Revelation, admits the immortality of
man, and a future state of retribution. But it must be evident that as
in these respects he founds entirely on the authority of Scripture, so
he may be confronted with the same authority when he denies the
spirituality of the soul; and in that case the question would resolve
itself into one of Biblical exegesis, and would fall to be decided, not
by metaphysical reasoning, but by Scriptural proofs.

Another variety of the theory is presented by Dr. Good in his "Life of
Lucretius." It agrees with the doctrine of Priestley in representing the
soul as material; but differs from it in holding the possible existence
of the soul in a separate state, during the interval between the
dissolution and resurrection of the body. It speaks of the body as being
composed of gross material particles; and of the soul as consisting of
more subtle, refined, and ethereal matter. This modification of the
theory may be illustrated by the following extract: "Perception,
consciousness, cognition, we continue to be told, are qualities which
cannot appertain to matter; there must hence be a thinking and an
immaterial principle; and man must still be a compound being. Yet, why
thus degrade matter, the plastic and prolific creature of the Deity,
beyond what we are authorized to do? Why may it not perceive, why not
think, why not become conscious? What eternal and necessary impediment
prevents? or what self-contradiction and absurdity is hereby implied?
Let us examine Nature as she presents herself to us in her most simple
and inorganized forms; let us trace her through her gradual and
ascending stages of power and perfection. In its simplest form, matter
evinces the desire of reciprocal union, or, as it is commonly called,
the attraction of gravitation. Increase its mass, arrange it in other
modifications, and it immediately evinces other powers or attractions;
and these will be perpetually, and almost infinitely, varied, in
proportion as we vary its combinations. If arranged, therefore, in one
mode, it discloses the power of magnetism; in another, that of
electricity or galvanism; in a third, that of chemical affinities; in a
fourth, that of mineral assimilations. Pursue its modifications into
classes of a more complex, or rather, perhaps, of a more gaseous or
attenuate nature, and it will evince the power of vegetable or fibrous
irritability: ascend through the classes of vegetables, and you will at
length reach the strong stimulative perfection, the palpable vitality of
the _mimosa pudica_, or the _hedysarum gyrans,_ the former of which
shrinks from the touch with the most bashful coyness, while the latter
perpetually dances beneath the jocund rays of the sun. And when we have
thus attained the summit of vegetable powers and vegetable life, it will
require, I think, no great stretch of the imagination to conceive that
the fibrous irritability of animals, as well as vegetables, is the mere
result of a peculiar arrangement of simple and unirritable material
atoms."--"Hence, then, animal sensation, and hence, necessarily and
consequently, ideas, and a material soul or spirit, rude and confined,
indeed, in its first and simplest mode of existence, but, like every
other production of Nature, beautifully and progressively advancing from
power to power, from faculty to faculty, from excellence to excellence,
till at length it terminate in the perfection of the human mind."[151]

According to this theory, the mind is supposed to have a real existence,
as a substance distinct from the grosser forms of matter, and capable
even of surviving its separation from them. It is supposed to be "a
combination of the most volatile auras or gases, diffused over the whole
body, though traced in a more concentrate form in some organs than in
others;" and it is described as "the very texture of that separate state
of existence which the infallible page of Revelation clearly indicates
will be ours."

A form of the theory very nearly resembling this has been recently
reproduced. It consists in representing the Mind or Spirit of man, not
as a mere fleeting phenomenon of the brain, or an evanescent effect of
its organization, but as a distinct substantive product, generated,
indeed, from matter, and partaking, therefore, of its nature, but so
exquisitely subtle and ethereal that it has no resemblance to the
grosser materials of the body, and admits only of being compared with
the Dynamides--the imponderable elements and forces of Nature. This
"spirit" is generated in man by his peculiar organization, and
especially by the action of the brain; it is capable of surviving the
dissolution of the body, of retaining its individual consciousness after
death, of passing into new spheres of being, and of rising from lower to
higher states, according to a law of eternal progression. Such is the
theory of Davis, the "Poughkeepsie Seer;" and such also, with some
variations, is that of the author of "The Purpose of Existence."

"Matter and Spirit," says Davis, "have heretofore been supposed to
constitute two distinct and independent substances, the latter not
having any material origin." ... "Instead of making material and
spiritual existence totally disconnected, the object and intention of
the foregoing has been to prove, by acknowledged laws and principles of
matter, _the production of intelligence,_ the perfection of which is
_spirit_;" to show that "the Organizer uses Nature and all things
therein as an effect, to produce _spirit_ as an end and designed
ultimate." The author of "The Purpose of Existence" adopts a similar
view. He tells us, indeed, that "the first simple forms or states of
existence are admitted to be _two_, spirit and matter,--the first the
moving power, the second the moved substance;" that of the positive
essence of either we can arrive at no knowledge; and that "whether
spirit be a refined, etherealized portion of matter, or a distinct
dynamic principle, we cannot ascertain." And yet, one of the leading
objects of his work is to account for "the origin and development of the
human mind;" and this he does by ascribing it to "a self-dynamic spirit
which is resident in matter," and which he denominates "the spirit of
vitality." The spirit exists in vegetables, and is extracted by means of
the organs of the animals which feed upon them, and then, "by a delicate
work of distillation, it is converted into _spirit_!"--"Nature proclaims
one of her great working principles to be, that _spirit is evolved out
of matter, and outlives the body in which it is educated_."--"Matter is
full of spirit. This spirit is brought out of matter by vegetation. By
means of vegetation, it is conveyed into animal frames, in which its
purest essence centres in the brain.... This is no idle theory," he
adds, "no vain hypothesis, for making matter think. It is a clear
proposition, showing how matter is employed by the Supreme Intelligence
for evolving, training, and educating spirit."--"We conclude that
Progression is the great law of the universe, the purpose for which its
present arrangement was ordained; and that the object of this
progression is _the evolvement of mind out of matter._"

This is a new and very singular phase of Materialism. It is widely
different from the doctrine which was taught by the infidel writers of
the last century. They had recourse to the theory of Materialism chiefly
with the view of excluding a world of spirits, and of undermining the
doctrine of a future state: here it is applied to prove the constant
development and indestructible existence of minds generated from matter,
but destined to survive the dissolution of the body; nay, every particle
of matter in the universe is supposed to be advancing, in one
magnificent progression, towards the spiritual state. The danger now is,
not that Religion may be undermined by Materialism, but that it may be
supplanted by a fond and foolish superstition, in which the facts of
Mesmerism and the fictions of Clairvoyance are blended into one ghostly
system, fitted to exert a powerful but pernicious influence on
over-credulous minds.[152]

On a review of the various forms which the theory of Materialism has
assumed, it must be evident that we should be doing great injustice to
their respective advocates, did we place them all on the same level in
relation to Theology, or pronounce upon them one indiscriminate censure.
In the hands of D'Holbach and Comte, it was associated with the avowal
of Atheism, and the denial of a future state: in the hands of Priestley,
it was associated with the recognition of a God, and the Christian
doctrine of a resurrection: in the hands of Dr. Good, it was combined
with the principles of Theism, and even with the revealed doctrine of
the separate existence of the soul during the interval between death and
the resurrection: and in the hands of Davis and the author of the
"Purpose of Existence," it is exhibited in connection with a theory of
Progression, widely different, indeed, from the doctrine of Scripture,
but equally different from the infidel speculations of the last century.
Still, with all these shades of difference, there is _that common to
all_ the forms in which it can be presented which shows that they are
radically one and the same: _they all deny the existence of any generic
difference between Matter and Mind_.

Confining our attention to this common element, and omitting the
consideration of minor diversities, we may now inquire into the grounds
on which the theory rests, and the most plausible reasons which have
been urged in support of it.

To some minds it has been recommended by its _apparent simplicity_. It
speaks only of _one_ substance as existing in Nature under various
modifications. It represents the universe, so far as created being is
concerned, as entirely composed of _matter_, more or less refined; and
thus excludes the complication which must necessarily arise from the
supposition of two substances, generically different, yet intimately and
indissolubly related. The principle, therefore, which prompts us to seek
unity in diversity, and to reduce, by some comprehensive generalization,
a multitude of phenomena under one general law, has led some to adopt
the theory of _unisubstancisme_ in preference to the opposite doctrine
of _dualism_. Not content with the generalization, alike safe and
legitimate, which ranks both mind and matter under the generic head of
_substance_, they have sought to reduce them to the same category, and
to give to matter a monopoly of the universe, at least of created being.
In support of their views, they remind us of the fundamental principle
of philosophy as laid down by Sir Isaac Newton, that "we are to admit no
more causes of things than are sufficient to explain appearances."[153]
The principle is a sound one; and the only question is, whether matter
alone is sufficient to account for mental phenomena? On _this_ question
the two parties are at irreconcilable variance; and the controversy
cannot be determined, _brevi manû_, by the mere assumption of the
simplicity and uniform composition of everything in Nature; it can be
settled only by an appeal to the facts as they are known to exist. It is
the aim of science, undoubtedly, to reduce all compound substances to
the smallest possible number of constituent elements, and all complex
phenomena to the smallest possible number of general laws. But we feel
that, desirable as this simplification may be, we are not warranted in
identifying light with heat, or even electricity with magnetism, however
closely connected with each other, simply because there are certain
observed differences between them, which could not be explained, in the
present state of our knowledge, consistently with any such theory of
their absolute identity: and so, there are such manifest differences
between Mental and Material phenomena, that we cannot yield to the
temptation of ascribing them to one cause or origin, until it has been
satisfactorily proved that the same cause is sufficient to account for
appearances so diverse. It should be considered, too, in connection with
this pretence of greater simplicity, that even if we could succeed in
getting rid of the _dualism_ of Mind and Matter in the constitution of
man, we never can get rid of it with reference to the universe at
large, otherwise than by denying _the spirituality of God himself_: for
the grand, the indestructible, the eternal _dualism_ would still
remain,--the distinction between God and His works,--between the Creator
and the universe which He has called into being,--between the finite,
contingent, and transitory, and the infinite, necessary, and eternal.
And this is a distinction that cannot be obliterated, although it may be
obscured, by the speculations of Pantheism.

Another reason which has induced some to adopt, or at least to regard
with favor, the theory of Materialism, is--the difficulty of conceiving
of the union of two substances so incongruous as Mind and Matter are
supposed to be,--and still more the difficulty of explaining how they
could have any mutual action on each other. Dr. Priestley largely
insists on this, as well as on the former reason, as one of the main
inducements which led him to abandon the commonly-received doctrine.
"Many doubts occurred to me," he says, "on the subject of _the intimate
union of two substances so entirely heterogeneous_ as the soul and body
were represented to be." And he was led to conclude, that "man does not
consist of two principles so essentially different from one another as
matter and spirit, which are always described as having _no one common
property_ by means of which they can affect or act upon each other." In
the "Systême de la Nature," the same argument is often urged. It is
boldly and repeatedly affirmed that "an immaterial cause cannot produce
motion;" and this is applied equally to the soul and to God. "How can we
form an idea of a substance destitute of extension, and yet acting on
our senses, that is, on material organs which are extended? How can a
being without extension be capable of motion, and of putting matter into
motion?"--"It is as impossible that spirit or thought should produce
matter, as that matter should produce spirit or thought."[154]

Now, it is not denied by any,--it is admitted on all hands,--that the
union between the soul and the body is a great mystery, and that we are
not able, in the present state of our knowledge, to explain either the
action of matter on mind, or the action of mind on matter. The mode of
the union between them, and the nature of the influence which they
mutually exercise, are to us inscrutable: but _the facts_ of our most
familiar experience are not the less certain, because they depend on
causes to us unknown, or stand connected with mysteries which we cannot
solve. Besides, the theory of _unisubstancisme_ itself, were it adopted,
would still leave many facts unexplained, and the inmost nature of man
would continue to be as inscrutable as before. There is nothing
inconceivable, impossible, or self-contradictory in the supposition of a
non-material or spiritual substance; nor is there any reason _a priori_
to conclude that such a substance could not be united to a material
frame, although the nature of their union, and the mode of their
reciprocal action, might be to us inexplicable.

There is still another reason which is urged by some, derived from _the
dependence of the mind on the body_, and its liability to be affected,
beneficially or injuriously, by mere physical influences. "The faculty
of thinking," says Dr. Priestley, "in general ripens and comes to
maturity with the body; it is also observed to decay with it,"--"If the
brain be affected, as by a blow on the head, by actual pressure within
the skull, by sleep, or by inflammation, the mental faculties are
universally affected in proportion. Likewise, as the mind is affected in
consequence of the affections of the body and brain, so the body is
liable to be reciprocally affected by the affections of the mind, as is
evident in the visible effects of all-strong passions,--hope or fear,
love or anger, joy or sorrow, exultation or despair. These are certainly
irrefragable arguments that it is properly no other than _one and the
same thing_ that is subject to these affections."[155] Mr. Atkinson
urges the same reason. "The proof that mind holds the same relation to
the body that all other phenomena do to material conditions, may be
found," he tells us, "in the whole circumstances of man's existence, his
origin and growth; the faculties following the development of the body
in man and other animals; the direction of the faculties being
influenced by surrounding circumstances; the desires, the will, the
hopes, the fears, the habits, and the opinions, being effects traceable
to causes,--to natural causes,--and becoming the facts of History and
Statistics. We observe the influence of climate, of sunshine and damp,
of wine and opium and poison, of health and disease." ... "When a glass
of wine turns a wise man into a fool, is it not clear that the result is
the consequence of a change in the material conditions?"[156]

Now, these facts are sufficient to show that, in the present life, there
is a very close and intimate union between the soul and the body, and
that they exert a reciprocal and very powerful influence. This is
admitted by the firmest advocates of _Spiritualism_; nay, it is
necessarily involved in the doctrine which they maintain, relative to
_the union_ of two distinct, but mutually dependent, principles in the
present constitution of human nature. But it is far, very far, from
affording any ground or warrant for the idea, that Matter may be
identified with Mind, or Thought with Motion.

There are certain Theological considerations which, if they have not
been pleaded as reasons, may yet have been felt as inducements, to the
adoption of the theory of Materialism. Not to speak of the difficulty
which has been felt in explaining "the traduction or propagation of
human souls," occasionally referred to in this controversy, it is plain
that many Deists in the last century, and that not a few Atheists still,
have been induced to embrace and avow Materialism, with the view of
undermining the doctrine of man's immortality, and of a future state of
rewards and punishments. It is equally certain that Dr. Priestley was
influenced by his peculiar views as a Socinian; for he tells us himself
that the doctrine of Materialism commended itself to his mind as a sure
and effectual means of disproving _the preëxistence of Christ_. "The
consideration," he says with singular candor, "that biases me as a
Christian, exclusive of philosophical considerations, against the
doctrine of a separate soul, is, that it has been the foundation of what
appears to me to be the very grossest corruptions of Christianity, and
even of that very Antichristianism that began to work in the apostles'
times, and which extended itself so amazingly and dreadfully afterwards.
I mean the Oriental philosophy of the 'preëxistence of souls,' which
drew after it the belief of the preëxistence and divinity of Christ, the
worship of Christ and of dead men, and the doctrine of Purgatory, with
all the Popish doctrines and practices that are connected with them, and
supported by them."--"This doctrine (of the preëxistence of Christ) is
the point to which all that I have written tends, it being the capital
inference that I make from the doctrine of Materialism." There is also
abundant reason to believe that both Atheists and Pantheists have had
recourse to the theory of Materialism with the view of excluding the
doctrine of a living, personal God, and explaining all the phenomena of
Nature by the eternal laws of matter and motion. Now, if the question
stands related in any way to such themes as these,--the immortality of
man, the preëxistence and divinity of Christ, and the personality and
spirituality of God,--it must be confessed to have at least a very high
_relative_ importance, as it bears on some of the most momentous
articles of our _religious faith_; and the question naturally arises,
What relation it bears to the fundamental principles of Theism, and how
far it comports with right views of God, as the Creator and Governor of
the world?

We cannot, in the face of direct evidence to the contrary, bring an
indiscriminate charge of Atheism, or even of irreligion, against all the
advocates of Materialism. It is true that it has often, perhaps most
generally, been associated with infidel opinions, and that in the hands
of D'Holbach, Comte, and Atkinson, it has been applied in support of
Atheism; but it is equally true, that in the hands of Dr. Priestley and
Dr. Good, it is combined with the professed, and, as we believe, the
sincere recognition of a personal God and of a future state. In point of
fact, then, all Materialists have not been Atheists; and even were we
convinced that Materialists professing religion were illogical or
inconsequent reasoners, we should not be justified in ascribing to them
those consequences of their system which they explicitly disclaim and
disavow. Still it is competent, and it may be highly useful, to
entertain the question, What are the grounds on which the theory of
Materialism rests? And whether, if these grounds be valid, they would
not lead, in strict logic, to conclusions at variance with some of the
most vital and fundamental articles of the Christian faith?

In attempting to discuss the merits of that theory, we propose to state,
confirm, and illustrate a few propositions which are sufficient, in our
opinion, to show that the grounds on which it rests, and the reasons to
which it appeals, are not such as to warrant or justify any prejudice
against the articles of Natural or Revealed Religion.



I. Our _first_ proposition is, that the recent progress of Natural
Science, great and rapid as it has been, has not materially altered "the
state of the question" respecting the distinction between Mind and
Matter, however much it may have extended our knowledge respecting the
properties of both, and of the relation subsisting between the two.

We place this proposition on the foreground, because we have reason to
believe that a very different impression prevails in certain quarters,
associated in some cases with the hope, in others with the apprehension,
that the advances which have been made in physical science may
ultimately lead to the obliteration of the old distinction between Mind
and Matter. This impression has been deepened by every successive
addition to the doctrines of Physiology; and especially by the recent
speculations on Phrenology, Animal Magnetism, and Clairvoyance. Now, we
think that these speculations, even if they were admitted into the rank
of true sciences, would not materially alter the "state of the question"
respecting the distinction between Mind and Matter, as that question was
discussed in former times.

Take the case of Phrenology. It had always been admitted that the mind
has certain _external organs_, through which it receives various
impressions from without, and holds communication with the sensible
universe. The existence and use of these organs were held to be
perfectly compatible with the doctrine that the soul itself is
immaterial. Phrenology appears, and professes to have discovered
_certain other organs_, certain cerebral developments, which stand
connected with the various functions of thought and feeling; in other
words, to the _five senses_ which are universally recognized, it adds
_thirty_ or _forty_ organs in the brain, not hitherto known to exist.
But how does this discovery, even supposing it to be fully established,
affect the state of the question respecting the radical distinction
betwixt Mind and Matter? A material organization, in the case of man,
was always admitted; and the only difference which that discovery could
be supposed to make, must arise from the addition of certain organs to
those which were previously established. But why should the spirituality
of the soul be more affected by the one set of organs than it was by the
other? The ablest advocates of Phrenology have repudiated Materialism.
Dr. Spurzheim expressly disclaims it. "I incessantly repeat," says he,
"that the aim of Phrenology is never to attempt pointing out _what the
mind is in itself_. I do not say that the organization produces the
affective and intellectual faculties of man's mind, as a tree brings
forth fruit or an animal procreates its kind; I only say that organic
conditions are necessary to every manifestation of mind."--"If the
manifestation of the faculties of the mind depend on organization,
Materialism, it is said, will be established.... When our antagonists,
however, maintain that we are Materialists, they ought to show where we
teach _that there is nothing but matter._ The entire falsehood of the
accusation is made obvious by a review of the following considerations.
The expression 'organ' designates an instrument by means of which some
faculty proclaims itself. The muscles, for example, are the organs of
voluntary motion, but they are not the moving power; the eyes are the
organ of sight, but they are not the faculty of seeing. We separate the
faculties of the soul, or of the mind, from the organs; and consider the
cerebral parts as the instruments by means of which they manifest
themselves. Now, even the adversaries of Phrenology must, to a certain
extent, admit the dependence of the soul on the body.... We are,
therefore, no more Materialists than our predecessors, whether
anatomists, physiologists, or physicians, or the great number of
philosophers and moralists, who have admitted the dependence of the soul
on the body. For the Materialism is essentially the same, whether the
faculties of the mind be said to depend on the whole body, on the whole
brain, or individual powers on particular parts of the brain; the
faculties still depend on organization for their exhibition."[157] We
conclude, therefore, that Phrenology, even supposing it to be fully
established, could not materially affect the state of the question
respecting the radical distinction between Mind and Matter.

Similar remarks apply to the case of Mesmerism or Animal Magnetism. It
had always been known and admitted that the soul is liable, by reason of
its connection with the body in the present state, to be affected by
_certain influences_,--from light, from heat, from electricity, from the
atmosphere, and from other sources. Mesmerism appears, and professes to
have discovered _another influence_ by which the nervous system is
peculiarly affected; in other words, it merely adds a new influence to
the number of those which were universally acknowledged before, it
matters little whether it be the Magnetism of Mesmer, or the Odyle of
Reichenbach, or the Dia-magnetism of Faraday. But how could this
discovery, even supposing it to be fully established, affect the state
of the question respecting the radical distinction between Mind and
Matter? If we were Immaterialists before, while we acknowledged the
influence of the atmosphere, of light, of heat, and of electricity, may
we not be Immaterialists still, notwithstanding the addition of Odyle to
the class of _dynamides_? May we not admit the stranger, with the
strange name, if suitably attested, without the slightest apprehension
of thereby weakening the grounds on which we hold Mind to be
essentially different from Matter, and incapable of being identified
with it? It were a foolish and dangerous expedient, and one to which no
enlightened advocate of Immaterialism will have recourse, to denounce
the professed discoveries either of Phrenology or of Mesmerism, on the
ground of their supposed tendency to obliterate the distinction between
Mind and Matter. For the fact, that certain "organs" exist, by means of
which the mind acquires a large portion of its knowledge, and that
certain "influences" are known to affect it from without, is too well
established to be called in question; and the mere extension of that
fact by the discovery of _other organs and other influences_, hitherto
unknown, could have no tendency to shut us up, more than before, to the
adoption of the theory of Materialism. It is the part of wisdom, then,
to leave ample scope and verge for the progress of Physiological
research in this as in every other department, and to rest in the
confident persuasion that whatever discoveries may yet be made in regard
to the _connection_ between mind and body, they can have no effect in
disproving a _radical distinction_ between the two. And this we deem a
much safer ground than that which Professor Gregory has adopted, when he
first of all denies the possibility of defining either matter or spirit,
and then leaves the existence of "a thinking principle or soul distinct
from the body" to rest merely on "our instinctive consciousness."[158]
We think it, in every point of view, a safer course to meet all
objections by saying, that the admission of the _odylic_ or any other
influence of a similar kind, would not in the least affect the grounds
of our belief in the existence of an immaterial mind.

We are disposed to pursue the same line of argument a step further, and
to apply it to the case of "Hypnotism" or "Clairvoyance." It had always
been known that the mind, in its present state of connection with the
body, is liable to be affected by _sleep_ and by _dreams_; and the
phenomena of natural sleep and of ordinary dreams were never supposed to
be incompatible with the distinction between mind and body. But the
Hypnotist or the Clairvoyant appears, and announces a state of _magnetic
sleep_, with a new set of phenomena dependent on it, resembling the
dreams and visions of the night. The facts are strange and startling;
but, after recovering from our first surprise, we may calmly ask, what
effect these facts, if established, should have in modifying our
convictions respecting the essential nature of mind and matter; and we
shall find that they afford no sufficient reason for relinquishing the
doctrine of an "immaterial spirit," but that, on the contrary, these
very facts, were they sufficiently verified, would open up a new view of
the powers and activities of "spirit," such as might well fill us with
wonder and awe. "I have heard, times innumerable," says Professor
Gregory, "religious persons declare, on seeing these phenomena, that
nothing could more clearly demonstrate the immateriality, and
consequently the immortality of the soul. 'In _clairvoyance_,' say these
persons, 'we observe the mind acting separate from the body, and
entirely independent of it. How beautiful a proof of the infinite
difference between _spirit_ and _matter_.'" It is a proof that we would
be slow to adduce, for the facts are doubtful as well as obscure; but,
for our present purpose, it is not necessary either to admit or to deny
the truth of these facts; it is sufficient to say that the phenomena of
Mesmeric sleep and the visions of Clairvoyance are not more inconsistent
with the doctrine of an immaterial soul than the more familiar, but
scarcely less mysterious, phenomena of natural sleep and common dreams.
It is, indeed, not a little remarkable that the profound and sagacious
Butler expressed himself in the following terms, long before the
phenomena of Magnetism and Clairvoyance were spoken of as subjects of
scientific study: "That we have no reason to think our _organs_ of
sense _percipients_ ... is confirmed by the experience of dreams, by
which we find we are at present possessed of a latent, and what would
otherwise be an unimagined, unknown power of perceiving sensible
objects, in as strong and lively a manner, _without our external organs
of sense as with them_."[159]

On the whole, we think it clear that neither by Phrenology, which adds
merely to the number of our material "organs," nor by Mesmerism, which
adds _one_ to the number of the "influences" by which we are affected,
nor by Clairvoyance, which adds the phenomena of _magnetic_ to those of
_natural_ sleep, is the state of the question materially altered from
what it was before these additions were made to Physiological
speculation. And hence those who are well versed in our older writers on
the doctrine of "spirit" and "matter," will be sufficiently furnished
with weapons for repelling the more recent assaults of Materialism. If
any one has read and digested the Treatises of Dr. Samuel Clarke, in his
replies to Dodwell, Collins, and Leibnitz; the "Free Discussion" between
Dr. Priestley and Dr. Price; the "Examen du Materialisme" by Bergier, in
reply to the "Systême de la Nature;" and the writings of Andrew Baxter,
Drew, Ditton, and others, on the same subject, he will find little
difficulty in grappling with the arguments of Comte, Atkinson, and
Martineau. He will see at once that the main, the fundamental question,
is not materially affected by the advances which have been made in
Physiological discovery. These discoveries may have extended our
knowledge respecting _the relations_ which subsist between the "mind"
and the "body;" they have in no degree served to obliterate the
_distinction betwixt the two_.

In perfect consistency, however, with this conviction, we may frankly
avow our opinion, that some of the older opponents of Materialism
adopted a method of stating their argument which appears to us to be
liable to just exception, and which the progress of Physical, and
especially of Chemical science, has tended greatly to discredit. They
seem to have been apprehensive that by ascribing any peculiar properties
or active powers to matter, they might incur the hazard of weakening the
grounds on which they contended for the spirituality of man and the
supremacy of God. Thus, in the "Inquiry into the Nature of the Human
Soul," by Andrew Baxter, the existence of any active property or power
in matter is explicitly denied, and the only property which is ascribed
to it is a certain passive power, or "vis inertiæ," by which it is
incapable of changing its state, whether of rest or of motion. This "vis
inertiæ" is not only supposed to be the sole property of matter, but is
even held to be inconsistent with, and exclusive of, any active power
whatever; and all the effects which are usually said to be produced by
it are ascribed to the power of an immaterial Being. We are told that
"vis inertiæ," or "a resistance to any change of its present state, is
essential to matter, and inconsistent with any active power in it;" that
"all gravity, attraction, elasticity, repulsion, or whatever other
tendencies to motion are observed in matter (commonly called natural
powers of matter), are not powers implanted in matter or possible to be
made inherent in it, but impulse or force impressed upon it _ab extra_;"
and that "the cause of its motion must be sought for in something not
matter, in some _immaterial cause or being_."--"Gravity," for instance,
"is not the action of matter upon matter, but the virtue or power of an
immaterial cause or being, constantly impressed upon it." Nor has this
doctrine been confined to such metaphysical reasoners as Andrew Baxter.
Professor Playfair tells us, that when he was introduced to Dr. Horsley,
the Bishop "expressed great respect for Lord Monboddo, for his learning
and his acuteness, and (what was more surprising) for the soundness of
his judgment. He talked very seriously of the notion of _mind being
united to all the parts of matter and being the cause of motion_. So far
as I could gather, Dr. Horsley supposes that _every atom of matter has a
soul_, which is the cause of its motion, its gravitation, &c. What has
made him adopt this strange unphilosophical notion I cannot tell, unless
it be the fear that his study of natural philosophy should make him
suspected of Atheism, or at least of Materialism. For it is certain that
there is at present a prejudice among the English clergy that natural
philosophy has a tendency to make men Atheists or Materialists. This
absurd prejudice was first introduced, I think, by that illiberal,
though learned, prelate, Dr. Warburton."[160] A similar opinion has been
recently reproduced by Dr. Burnett in his "Philosophy of Spirits in
relation to Matter," in which he attempts to show that the forces and
laws of Nature cannot be proved to be _the result of anything inherent
in matter alone_, and that they ought to be ascribed to some substantive
and distinct, but immaterial and dependent _spirits_, called "the spirit
of life," "the spirit of electricity," "the spirit of heat."[161].

All these statements are only so many modifications of the same theory,
and they agree in denying the existence of any active powers in matter,
while they ascribe the phenomena of motion, life, and thought to an
immaterial principle. There is, as it seems to us, a mixture of truth
and error in this theory. It affirms a great truth, in so far as it
declares the impossibility of accounting for the phenomena of motion,
life, and thought, without ascribing them ultimately to a spiritual,
intelligent, and voluntary cause; but it adopts a dangerous, and, as we
conceive, a perfectly gratuitous assumption, when it denies that matter
is capable of possessing any other properties or powers than those of
extension, solidity, and "vis inertiæ." We know little of the nature of
those fluids, forces, or powers, which have been denominated "dynamides"
or "imponderables;" but, unquestionably, they possess properties and
produce phenomena very different from any that can be reasonably
ascribed to mere "vis inertiæ." Nor is their possession of these
properties incompatible with that law, when it is correctly understood.
For what is the real import of the law of "vis inertiæ?" It amounts
simply to this, as stated by Baxter himself, "that a resistance to any
change of its present state,--whether of motion or rest,--is essential
to 'matter,'" he adds, indeed, "and inconsistent with any active power
in it;" but this is an assumption which is true only in a sense that
would make it inconclusive with reference to the point at issue. It is
true, if it means merely that matter is destitute of spontaneity and
self-motion, such as belongs to living, voluntary agents; but it is not
true, if it means that matter is destitute of all inherent properties
and powers. Indeed, the "vis inertiæ" which is ascribed to matter is
itself a power, and a very formidable one; it is described by Baxter
himself as "a kind of positive or stubborn inactivity," as "something
receding further from action than bare inactivity," for "_matter is so
powerfully inactive a thing_!" Now, if such a power as this may be
ascribed to matter, why may it not be admitted with equal safety that
God has bestowed on it certain other properties and powers, not
inconsistent with this, but additional to it; and that He has
established such relations and affinities between different substances
as that they may act and react--mechanically or chemically--on one
another? The phenomena of chemical affinity, the motions, and other
changes, produced by the contact, or even the juxtaposition, of certain
substances, and the variety of the resulting products, do certainly
evince the operation of other powers besides that of "vis inertiæ;" and
we cannot see why these powers should be ascribed to "immaterial
spirits," any more than that of "vis inertiæ" itself, or why it would be
a whit more dangerous to ascribe them to matter than to created
_spirits_. All that is required, as it appears to us, to establish the
dependence of the creature on the Creator and to vindicate the truth of
Christian Theism, is to maintain these two positions: _first_, that
whatever properties or powers belong either to "matter" or to "mind,"
were originally conferred on them, respectively, at the time of their
creation by the will of God; and, _secondly_, that by the same will,
these properties and powers are continually sustained, governed, and
controlled. These two positions are held by all enlightened Theists, and
are abundantly sufficient, if proved, to vindicate their doctrine
against every assault; but we think it unwarrantable and dangerous to go
further, and to ascribe, on the strength of mere gratuitous assumptions,
all the activity, motion, and change which occur in the universe to
created spirits or immaterial causes. These assumptions are extremely
different from the common-sense notions of men, and they are utterly
unnecessary for the support of any doctrine which we are concerned to

On the whole, we venture to conclude that the radical distinction
between Mind and Matter has not been materially affected by the recent
progress of Physiological research, and that the old arguments against
Materialism are still available, except in so far as they were founded
on a too limited view of the properties of matter, which the advancing
Science of Chemistry has done so much, to unfold and to illustrate.

II. Our _second_ proposition may be thus stated: That were we reduced to
the necessity of embracing any form of the theory of "unisubstancisme,"
there could not be less,--there might even be greater,--reason for
_spiritualizing matter_, than for _materializing mind_.

On the supposition that one or other of the two must be dispensed with,
the question still remains, which of them can be most easily spared? or,
which of them can be most conclusively proved? Mankind have generally
thought that they had equally good evidence for the existence of both;
that in the direct and irresistible evidence of Consciousness, they had
proof sufficient of a thinking, voluntary, and active spirit, and in the
less direct, but not less irresistible, evidence of Perception, proof
sufficient of the existence of a material world. But each of these
convictions has been in its turn assailed by the cavils of skepticism;
and men have been asked to prove _by reasoning_ what needed, and,
indeed, admitted of no _such_ proof,--the existence of Matter as
distinct from Mind, and the existence of Mind as distinct from Matter.
The latter is denied by Materialists, the former is equally denied by
Idealists; and what we affirm is, that each of these opposite theories
is one-sided and partial, and that, on the supposition of our being
reduced to the necessity of adopting the idea of "unisubstancisme," we
should still have greater reason to reduce all to the category of
"spirit," than to reduce all to the category of "matter." Many seem to
think that it is more easy, or, perhaps, that it is less necessary, to
prove the distinct existence of matter, than to prove the distinct
existence of mind. They are so familiar with matter, and so continually
surrounded by it, that they cannot conceive of its non-existence as
possible, and scarcely think it necessary to inquire after any evidence
in the case. But can it be justly said that they are more familiar with
matter and its movements than they are with a living spirit within them,
which feels, and thinks, and wills, and by means of which alone the
phenomena of external nature itself can become known to them? If they
receive the testimony of Perception as a sufficient proof of the
existence of Matter, why should they not also receive the still more
direct and immediate testimony of Consciousness as a sufficient proof of
the existence of Mind? Or, if they refuse the latter, and admit the
former, are they quite sure that, on their own partial principles, they
could offer any conclusive answer to the "Idealism" of Berkeley? That
ingenious and amiable prelate will tell them that "the objects of sense
cannot exist otherwise than _in a mind perceiving them_;" that "their
_esse_ is _percipi_, nor is it possible that they should have any
existence out of the minds, or thinking things, which perceive them;"
and that "all the choir of heaven and the furniture of the earth,--in a
word, all those bodies which compose the mighty frame of the world, have
not any subsistence without a mind."[162] Nay, others who are not
Idealists, but who believe equally in the existence of "mind" and
"matter," will tell them that Berkeley's arguments are conclusive, at
least to the extent of showing that the existence of "matter," as a
thing external to us, cannot be proved without presupposing the
existence of "mind." "For what," says Lord Brougham, "is this matter?
Whence do we derive any knowledge of it? How do we assure ourselves of
its existence? What evidence have we at all respecting either its being
or its qualities? We feel, or taste, or smell something; that is, we
have certain sensations, which make us conclude that something exists
beyond ourselves." ... "But what are our sensations? The feelings or
thoughts of our own minds. Then what we do is this: from certain ideas
in our minds, produced no doubt by, and connected with, our bodily
senses, but independent of and separate from them, we draw certain
conclusions by reasoning; and these conclusions are in favor of the
existence of something other than our sensations and our reasonings, and
other than that which experiences the sensations and makes the
reasonings, passive in the one case, active in the other. That something
is what we call--Mind. But plainly, whatever it is, we owe to it the
knowledge that matter exists; for that knowledge is gained by means of a
sensation or feeling, followed by a process of reasoning; it is gained
by the mind having first suffered something, and then done something.
Therefore, to say _there is no such thing as matter_ would be a much
less absurd inference than to say _there is no such thing as mind_." ...
"The truth is, that we believe in the existence of 'matter,' because we
cannot help it. The inferences of our reason from our sensations impel
us to this conclusion, and the steps are few and short by which we reach
it. But the steps are fewer, and shorter, and of the self-same nature,
which lead us to believe in the existence of Mind, for of that we have
the evidence within ourselves."[163]

It follows that were we reduced, as we are not, to the necessity of
adopting the theory of "unisubstancisme," we might with at least as good
reason dispense with the existence of "matter" as with the existence of
"mind;" for, in the words of Dugald Stewart, "it would no more be proper
to say of 'mind' that it is _material_, than to say of 'body' that it is

III. Our _third_ proposition is, That we are _not_ reduced to the
necessity of adopting any theory of "unisubstancisme," since there is
nothing inconceivable or self-contradictory in the supposition of two
distinct substantive beings, possessing diverse properties, such as
"mind" and "body," or "spirit" and "matter," are usually held to be.

Let any one endeavor to assign a reason for the sole, exclusive
existence either of "matter" or of "spirit," or a distinct, specific
ground for the opinion that they are necessarily incompatible with each
other, and he will be compelled to own that the theory of
"unisubstancisme," however plausible by reason of its apparent
simplicity, is really nothing more than a gratuitous assumption. It
cannot be admitted with reference even to _nature_ and _man_ without
confounding the simplest elements of human knowledge; and with reference
to _God_ and the _universe_, it is attended with still more fatal
consequences, since it must lead, if consistently followed out, to
undisguised Pantheism. Why should it be supposed that there is, or can
only be, _one_ substance in Nature? one substance invested with all
those properties and powers which exist, in such manifold diversity, in
the organic and inorganic kingdoms? The wonder might rather seem to be
that any _two_ substances should be capable of accounting for such a
variety of phenomena as the universe exhibits. A "dualism" is
unavoidable, unless we are to materialize God as well as man; and why
may there not be a "dualism" in the case of created _mind_ and _matter_,
as there must be, on any supposition except that of Pantheism, in the
case of the uncreated mind and the material universe? We see variety and
gradation in all the works of God; we see thousands of substances,
simple and compound, possessing various properties, even in the
inorganic world; we see different forms of life, vegetable and animal,
ascending by steps of regular gradation, from the lowest to the highest;
we see, in the animal kingdom, various propensities, instincts, and
powers, which constitute the characteristics of distinct species; at
length we rise to Man, with his rational, responsible, and immortal
nature. Why may not Man be the _nexus_ between a world of "matter" and a
world of "spirits,"--Man, who is equally connected with the material
world by his body, and with the spiritual by his soul,--who is, as it
were, "mind incarnate," spirit in flesh? And why may there not be higher
spirits still, whether embodied in subtler and more refined vehicles, or
existing apart from all material forms, in those other worlds which
Astronomy has brought to light? No reason can be assigned for a negative
answer to these and similar queries, unless it be that _we cannot
conceive of pure spirit without bodily form_; and this may be true, if
it be meant merely to affirm that we can find no sensible image for it,
nothing by which it can be represented to our sight, or pictured in our
imagination, as visible things may be; but it is not true, if it be
meant to imply that we have no distinct notion of "mind" or "spirit,"
for it is as clearly known by its properties, of thought, feeling,
volition, and consciousness, as matter itself can be; and who will
venture to define, or to depict, or to form any image of _the substance
of matter_, apart from the properties which belong to it?

We are under no necessity, then, of adopting the theory of
"unisubstancisme," and we cannot found upon it in argument without
building on a mere gratuitous assumption.

IV. Our _fourth_ proposition is, That the same reason which warrants us
in ascribing certain properties and phenomena to a distinct substance
called "matter," equally warrants us in ascribing certain other
properties and phenomena to a distinct substance called "mind;" and that
the difference between their respective properties and phenomena is so
great as to justify the belief that the _substances_ are different and
ought to be denominated by distinctive names.

When Materialists affirm, as they do, the existence of one only
substantive being in Nature, and represent all our mental phenomena as
the mere results of physical organization, they assume that "matter," at
least, is a real _entity_; that it is a _substance_ or _substratum_ in
which certain powers or qualities inhere; and that its existence, as
such, is evident and undeniable. We are entirely relieved, therefore, by
their own admission or assumption, from the necessity of discussing the
more general problem of Ontology; the problem, whether we can prove the
existence of _any_ being, properly so called, from a mere series of
phenomena, a succession of appearances. They virtually admit, since they
evidently assume, that the phenomena must have a substance under them,
the qualities a substratum in which they inhere. Now, the very same
reason which warrants, or rather obliges them to recognize "matter" as a
substance and not as a shadow,--as an _entity_ which really exists and
manifests itself by its properties and effects,--must equally warrant,
or rather oblige them to recognize "mind" or "spirit" also as a
distinct substantive being, unless it can be shown either that its
properties are the same with those of matter, or that they may be
accounted for by some peculiar modification of matter, some law of
physical organization. There can be no reason for admitting the
existence of "matter" as a substance, which does not apply also to the
existence of "mind" as a distinct substance, if it shall be found that
their properties are essentially different. We know, and can know,
nothing of _substance_ otherwise than by its properties or powers: we
know nothing of "matter,"--it would, in fact, be to us non-existent, but
for its extension, solidity, and other properties; we know nothing of
"mind,"--it would equally be to us non-existent, but for its
consciousness, its thoughts, feelings, and desires; and if it be right
to ascribe the one set of properties to a substantive being, called
"matter," it cannot be wrong to ascribe the other set of properties also
to a substantive being, called "mind."

If it could be shown, indeed, that the properties of the one substance
might either be identified with, or accounted for, by those of the
other; if animal feeling could be identified with or derived from, mere
physical impulse; if intellectual thought could be reduced to material
motion; if desire and aversion, hope and fear could be explained by the
natural laws of attraction and repulsion, then we might blend the two
substances into one, and speak of "mind" as a mere modification of
"matter." But as long as the properties or powers by which alone any
substance can be known are seen to be generically different, we cannot
confound the substances themselves, or reduce them to one category,
without violating the plainest rules of philosophical inquiry.

And yet to these rules Dr. Priestley refers, as if they warranted the
conclusions at which he had arrived. He desires his readers "to recur to
the universally received rules of philosophizing, such as are laid down
by Sir Isaac Newton at the beginning of his third book of "Principia."
The first of these rules, as laid down by him, is that we are to _admit
no more causes than are sufficient to explain appearances_; and the
second is, that to _the same effect_ we must, as far as possible, assign
_the same cause_." We cheerfully accept these canons of philosophical
inquiry; and it is just because no one substance is sufficient, in our
estimation, to account for _all_ the appearances, that we equally reject
the "spiritualism" of Berkeley, who would resolve all phenomena into
"mind," and the "materialism" of Priestley, who would resolve all
phenomena into "matter." Matter and Mind may, indeed, be said to
resemble each other in some respects,--in their being equally existent,
equally created, and equally dependent; but their essential properties
are generically different, for there is no identity, but a manifest and
undeniable diversity, between thought, feeling, desire, volition, and
conscience, and the various qualities or powers belonging to matter,
such as extension, solidity, and _vis inertiæ_, or even the powers of
attraction and repulsion. On the ground of this manifest difference
between the properties by which alone any substance makes itself known,
we hold ourselves warranted to affirm that the "mind" is immaterial, and
to ascribe mental phenomena to a _distinct substantive being_, not less
than the material phenomena of Nature.

Some ingenious thinkers, on both sides of the question, have not been
fully satisfied with this method of stating the grounds of our opinion.
It has been said by our opponents, that if we found merely on the
acknowledged difference between two sets of properties or phenomena,
while we admit that the substance or substratum is in itself entirely
unknown to us, or known only through the medium of the properties to
which we refer,--then the dispute becomes a purely _verbal_ one, and can
amount to nothing more than this, whether a _substance_ of whose essence
we are entirely ignorant should be called by the name of "matter" or by
the name of "spirit." But the dispute is not a purely _verbal_ one,
even on the suppositions which have been stated. For it is essential to
a right "philosophy of nature," that every substance possessing peculiar
properties should have a distinctive name. Thus, even in the material
world itself, we distinguish sulphur from soda, gold from granite, and
magnesia from electricity or _odyle_. Why? Because, while they have some
properties in common, in virtue of which we rank them in the same
category as "material substances," they have, severally, certain
distinctive or peculiar characteristics, which forbid us to call the one
by the same name as the other. And for precisely the same reason, when
we find another class of properties and powers existing in certain
beings, which are totally different from those belonging to mere
material substances,--incapable not only of being identified with them,
but also of being accounted for by means of them,--we are equally
warranted in ascribing these properties to a _substance_, and in
affirming that this substance, of which we know nothing except through
its properties, is radically different from "matter." That there is
something more than a mere _verbal_ difference between us and our
opponents might seem to be admitted by themselves, when they evince so
much zeal in assailing our position and defending their own; but it
becomes strikingly apparent as soon as we extend our inquiry so as to
embrace the grand question respecting the distinction, if any, between
God and the material universe.

Some, again, who are substantially, at least in all important respects,
on our side of the question, have not been satisfied with showing that
the two sets of properties are generically different, and that the same
reason exists for ascribing the one to a distinct substantive being
called "mind," as for ascribing the other to a substantive being called
"matter." They have been anxious to advance a step further; and to show
that the two sets of properties are _mutually exclusive_, and that they
could not possibly _coexist_ in the same subject. This is the declared
object of Baxter's Work on the Soul, which professes to prove that the
only power belonging to "matter," namely, its _vis inertiæ_, or
resistance to any change in its present state, is inconsistent with its
possession of any active power. It is not held sufficient to show that
the properties are generically different, and that the substances in
which these properties inhere may and should be designated by distinct
names, as matter and spirit, soul and body; but it must be further
proved that they are so heterogeneous and inconsistent as to be mutually
exclusive, and incapable of coexisting in the same substance. To a
certain extent, we think this mode of reasoning may be admitted. We do
not conceive that "vis inertiæ" is the only property belonging to
matter, or that it is necessarily exclusive of attraction and repulsion,
and the other powers which may belong to its specific varieties; but we
do conceive that the "vis inertiæ" of mere matter is utterly
inconsistent with the self-activity, the self-moving power, which
belongs to "mind:" and we are confirmed in this conviction by the
anxiety which our opponents have evinced to explain the phenomena of
mind by purely mechanical laws, and to establish a system, not of
_moral_, but of _material_ necessity, in opposition to the doctrine of
man's spontaneity and freedom. We are further of opinion, that
_extension_ cannot be predicated of "mind," without also being
predicated of "thought;" and that to ascribe it to either would lead to
ridiculous absurdities, such as have been noted, and perhaps
caricatured, by Dr. Thomas Brown. We think, too, that the unity and
continuity of consciousness, with the intimate sense of personal
identity, that belongs to all rational and responsible beings, are
utterly irreconcilable with the continual flux and mutation that are
incident to matter, and that they cannot be accounted for without the
supposition of a distinct substance, existing the same throughout all
the changes that occur in the material receptacle in which it dwells. To
this extent we think that the argument is alike legitimate and valid;
but when it goes beyond this, and attempts either to divest matter of
all active properties, or to demonstrate that, in the very nature of
things, sensation and thought could not possibly be annexed to a
material substance, we think that it advances beyond the real exigencies
of the case, and that it undertakes a task which is somewhat too arduous
for our present powers,--a task which many of the ablest advocates of
Immaterialism would humbly, but firmly, decline.

In this connection, it may be useful to remark that it is only with
reference to this advanced and more arduous part of the general
argument, that such writers as Locke and Bonnet, whose authority is
often pleaded in opposition to our views, ever felt the slightest
difficulty. They were both "Immaterialists," because they both discerned
the radical difference between mental and material phenomena, and
because they both admitted the reasonableness of ascribing them,
respectively, to a _distinct substance_. But they were not convinced by
the more metaphysical arguments of those who professed to show that none
of the phenomena of "mind" could possibly be exhibited by matter, or, at
least, they declined to take that ground. That Locke was an
Immaterialist is evident from many passages in his writings. "By putting
together," he says, "the ideas of thinking, perceiving, liberty and
power of moving themselves and other things, we have as clear a
perception and notion of immaterial substances as we have of material.
For putting together the ideas of thinking and willing, &c., joined to
_substance_, of which we have no distinct idea, we have the idea of an
immaterial spirit; and by putting together the ideas of coherent solid
parts and a power of being moved, joined with _substance_, of which
likewise we have no positive idea, we have the idea of matter: the one
is as clear and distinct an idea as the other."[165] But notwithstanding
this explicit statement, he demurred to the doctrine of those who
maintained that the power of thinking could not possibly be superadded
to matter, and this because he deemed it presumptuous to set limits to
the Divine omnipotence, or to pronounce any judgment on a question of
that kind. "We have the ideas of matter and thinking, but possibly shall
never be able to know whether any mere material being thinks or no; it
being impossible for us, by the contemplation of our own ideas, without
Revelation, to discover whether Omnipotency has not given to some
systems of matter, fitly disposed, a power to perceive and think.... I
see _no contradiction_ in it that the first eternal thinking Being
should, if He pleased, give to certain systems of created senseless
matter, put together as He sees fit, some degrees of sense, perception,
and thought."[166]

In these and similar passages, Locke did not mean, we think, to retract
or modify the doctrine which he had taught respecting the radical
distinction betwixt mind and matter; he intended merely to intimate
that, in adopting that doctrine, he proceeded on grounds different from
those which had been assumed by some other writers; that his belief
rested mainly on the essential difference between the properties
belonging to the two substances, and not on the mere metaphysical
arguments by which some had attempted to prove that God himself could
not impart to matter the power of thinking. He shrunk from pronouncing a
positive decision on _this_ one point; and yet his words have ever since
been quoted with triumph by the advocates of Materialism as affording a
virtual sanction to _the possibility_ at least of that for which they
contend. And on the same account, Locke has been severely blamed by some
modern "spiritualists." Mr. Carlyle, speaking of "Hartley's and
Darwin's, and all the possible forms of Materialism,--the grand
Idolatry, as we may rightly call it, by which at all times the true
worship, that of the invisible, has been polluted and withstood"--adds
the following characteristic remarks: "Locke, himself a clear,
humble-minded, patient, reverent, nay religious man, had paved the way
for banishing religion from the world. Mind, by being modelled in men's
imaginations into a Shape, a Visibility, and reasoned of as if it had
been some composite, divisible, and reunitable substance, some finer
chemical salt, or curious piece of logical joinery, began to lose its
immaterial, mysterious, divine, though invisible character: it was
tacitly figured as something that might, were our organs fine enough, be
_seen_. Yet who had ever seen it? who could ever see it? Thus, by
degrees, it passed into a Doubt, a Relation, some faint Possibility,
and, at last, into a highly probably Nonentity. Following Locke's
footsteps, the French had discovered that 'as the stomach secretes
chyle, so does the brain secrete thought.'"[167]

The sentiments of Bonnet of Geneva, as stated in his "Palingenesie," are
substantially in accordance with those of Locke, and have met with
similar treatment. He is not a Materialist; he admits a real
distinction, as well as a close union, between the soul and the body; he
speaks even of the possible existence of disembodied souls or pure
spirits; he affirms the immateriality of the thinking principle; and
expressly assigns his reasons for _not_ being a Materialist.[168] But he
appears to have thought, as Locke did, that possibly the power of
thinking might be superadded to matter, by the Creator's omnipotent
will, and that there is nothing in this supposition which could
seriously affect either the doctrine of Theism or the "immortality" of
man. And hence he affirmed, in words which Dr. Priestley selected for
the motto of his "Disquisitions," that "if any one should ever
demonstrate the soul to be material, far from being alarmed at this, we
should only admire the power which could give to _matter_ the power of

We conceive that the language both of Locke and Bonnet on this
particular point amounts to a dangerous and very unnecessary concession.
Were it meant merely to affirm that God could so unite a thinking
spiritual being with a material organism, as to make the two mutually
dependent and subservient, this is no more than is admitted by all the
advocates of Immaterialism, and it is actually exhibited in the
constitution of human nature. But if it were meant to admit that the
power of "thinking" and "willing" might be superadded as a property or
quality to matter itself, _without any substantive being other than
matter as a substratum_, then we conceive it to be at variance with the
grounds on which Locke and Bonnet themselves had previously declared
their belief in the distinct existence both of matter and spirit. We
shall only add, that the prejudice against our doctrine, which is
founded on the union of two _substances_ apparently so heterogeneous as
mind and matter in _the same person_, is, to say the least, fully
counterbalanced by the difficulty, incident to the theory, of
demonstrating the coexistence of _two sets of properties_, apparently so
diverse and disparate as thought and extension, "vis inertiæ" and
spontaneity, in _the same substance_.

On the whole, we conclude that the same reason which warrants us in
ascribing certain properties or phenomena to a distinct substance called
"matter," equally warrants us in ascribing certain other properties or
phenomena to a distinct substance called "mind;" and that the difference
between their properties and phenomena is so great as to justify the
belief that the substances are different, and ought to be denominated by
distinctive names.

V. Our _fifth_ proposition is, That it is impossible to account for the
phenomena of thought, feeling, desire, volition, and self-consciousness,
by ascribing them, as Materialists do, either to the _substance of_
"matter," or to its _form_; that is, either to the _atomic particles_
of which it consists, or to the _peculiar organization_ in which these
particles are arranged.

It is too manifest to admit either of doubt or denial, that the power of
thinking, feeling, and willing, does not belong to every form of matter.
It is not, therefore, one of its essential properties; and if it belong
to it at all, it must be either a _quality superadded_ to the ordinary
powers of matter, or a _product resulting_ from its configuration in an
organized form.

If it be a quality superadded merely to the ordinary powers of matter,
then it must exist equally in every part of the mass to which it is
attached; every particle of the matter in which it inheres must be
sentient, intelligent, voluntary, and active; and, on this supposition,
it will remain a difficult, if not desperate problem, to account for the
_unity_ of consciousness by such a diversity of parts, and especially
for the _continuity_ of consciousness, when the material elements are
confessedly in a state of constant flux and mutation. It would seem,
too, that if thought be thus connected with an extended, divisible, and
mutable substance, it must be itself extended, and, of course,
divisible; and, accordingly, Dr. Priestley does not hesitate to affirm
that our _ideas_, as well as our _minds_, possess these characters.
"Whatever ideas," he says, "are in themselves, they are evidently
produced by external objects, and must therefore correspond to them; and
since many of the objects or archetypes of ideas are _divisible_, it
necessarily follows that _the ideas themselves are divisible also_." ...
"If the archetypes of ideas have _extension_, the ideas which are
expressive of them, and are actually produced by them according to
certain mechanical laws, must have extension likewise; and, therefore,
the mind in which they exist, whether it be material or immaterial, must
have extension also.... I am, therefore, obliged to conclude that the
sentient principle in man, containing ideas which certainly have parts,
and are divisible, and consequently must have extension, cannot be that
simple, indivisible, and immaterial substance that some have imagined it
to be, but something that has real extension, and therefore may have the
other properties of matter."[169] He argues that _ideas_ must be
extended and divisible because their objects or archetypes are so; and,
further, that the _mind_ itself must be material, because these
properties belong to the ideas which inhere in it as their subject or
seat. Now, _this_ argument is fairly met by the reasoning, or the
ridicule, call it which you will, of Dr. Thomas Brown: "In saying of
mind that it is matter, we must mean, if we mean anything, that the
principle which thinks is hard and divisible; and that it will be not
more absurd to talk of the _twentieth_ part of an affirmation, or the
_quarter_ of a hope, of the _top_ of a remembrance, and the north and
east corners of a comparison, than of the twentieth part of a pound, or
of the different points of the compass, in reference to any part of the
globe. The true answer to the statement of the Materialist,--the answer
which we feel in our hearts, on the very expression of the plurality and
divisibility of feeling,--is that it assumes what, far from admitting,
we cannot even understand, and that, with every effort of attention
which we can give to our mental analysis, we are as incapable of forming
any conception of what is meant by the quarter of a doubt, or the half
of a belief, as of forming to ourselves an image of a circle without a
central point, or of a square without a single angle."[170]

But the theory which supposes the soul to be extended and divisible, and
its ideas, feelings, and volitions to be extended and divisible also,
has given place to another, which does not represent the mental
qualities as inhering in every particle of the matter with which they
are associated, but rather as _the products of organization_, the
results, not of the atomic elements, but of the form, or figure, into
which they are cast. It seems to have been felt that it would be unsafe
to ascribe the power of thinking to every particle of the brain, and it
is now represented as the result or product of "the brain in action, as
light and heat are of fire, and fragrance of the flower."[171] This idea
is illustrated by a great variety of natural examples, in which certain
effects are produced by the _arrangement of matter,_ which could not be
produced by its individual particles, existing separate and apart, or
combined in other forms. Nor is this a new phase of the theory, or an
original discovery of the present age; it was familiarly known and fully
discussed[172] in the days of Clarke and Collins, and every similitude
which is now employed to illustrate it may be found dissected in their
writings. Collins had undertaken to prove that "an individual power may
reside in a material system which consists of separate and distinct
parts,"--"an individual power which is _not_ in every one, nor in any
one, of the particles that compose it, when taken apart and considered
singly:" and he had adduced as an example the very similitude which
Atkinson employs, namely, "fragrance from the flower;" for he adds, "a
rose, for example, consists of several particles, which, separately and
singly, want a power to produce that agreeable sensation we experience
in them when united." Other instances are given; such as "the power of
the eye to contribute to the act of seeing, the power of a clock to show
the hour of the day, the power of a musical instrument to produce in us
harmonious sounds;" these, he says, "are powers not at all resulting
from any powers of _the same kind_ inhering in the parts of the system;"
and he infers that "in the same manner the power of thinking, without
being an aggregate of powers of the same kind, may yet inhere in a
system of matter." But these examples, so far from confirming, serve
rather to confute, the theory in whose support they are adduced. Could
it be shown, indeed, that the eye possesses _in itself_ the power of
vision, and that sight results solely from its peculiar texture; or,
that a clock is really an "intellectual machine," and produces an
"intellectual effect;" or, that a musical instrument possesses in itself
the soul of melody, and is conscious of its own sweet sounds,--then it
might be possible to entertain the supposition that, _in like manner_,
an organized brain may have the power of producing thought, and feeling,
and will. But what is the matter of fact? Let Dr. Clarke's answer with
reference to the case of a timepiece suffice for all: "That which you
call the power of a clock to show the time of the day is evidently
_nothing in the clock itself_, but the figure and motion of its parts,
and, consequently, not anything of a different sort or kind from the
powers inherent in the parts. Whereas 'thinking,' if it was the result
of the powers of the different parts of the machine of the body, or of
the brain in particular, would be something really inhering in the
machine itself, specifically different from all and every one of the
powers of the several parts out of which it resulted; which is an
express contradiction, a supposing the effect to have more in it than
the cause." ... "That particular and determinate _degree of velocity_ in
a wheel, whereby it turns once round precisely in twelve hours, is that
which you call _the power of a clock_ to show the time of the day; and
because such a determinate velocity of motion is _made use of by us_ for
the measure of time, is it therefore really a new quality or power
distinct from the motion itself?" The same answer is equally applicable
to all the other examples, and it may be stated generally as amounting
to this, that "it is absolutely false in fact, and impossible in the
nature of things, that any power whatsoever should inhere or reside in
any system or composition of matter, different from the powers residing
in the single parts."[173]

The two great difficulties which adhere to the theory of Materialism,
and which must ever prove insurmountable, are these: first, to account
for the power of thinking by means of material atoms, which are
individually destitute of it; and secondly, to account for the unity and
continuity of human consciousness by means of material atoms which are
constantly undergoing flux and mutation. For the first end, recourse has
been had to the theory which ascribes the power of thinking, not to the
particles of matter, but to their order, arrangement, or organization;
and for the second, the continuous sense of personal identity is
supposed to be sufficiently accounted for by supposing that, as the
particles which compose the brain are changed, the retiring atoms leave
their share of the general consciousness as a legacy to their
successors. And both these expedients for surmounting the difficulty are
exquisitely caricatured in the "Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus," in a
chapter which is justly described as "an inimitable ridicule on Collins'
argument against Clarke, to prove the soul only a quality." The Society
of Freethinkers, addressing Martinus, propose to send him an answer to
the ill-grounded sophisms of their opponents, and likewise "an easy
mechanical explanation of perception or thinking."--"One of their chief
arguments," say they, "is that self-consciousness cannot inhere in any
system of matter, because all matter is made up of several distinct
beings which never can make up one individual thinking being. This is
easily answered by a familiar instance. In every _jack_ there is a
_meat-roasting_ quality, which neither resides in the fly, nor in the
weight, nor in any particular wheel, of the jack, but is the result of
the whole composition.... And as the general quality of meat-roasting,
with its several modifications, does not inhere in any one part of the
jack, so neither does consciousness, with its several modes of
sensation, intellection, volition, &c., inhere in any one, but is the
result from the mechanical composition of the whole animal." And then,
in regard to the _second_ difficulty: "The parts," say they, "of an
animal body are perpetually changed, ... from whence it will follow that
the idea of individual consciousness must be constantly translated from
one particle of matter to another.... We answer, this is only a fallacy
of the imagination. They make a great noise about this _individuality_,
how a man is conscious to himself that he is the same individual he was
twenty years ago, notwithstanding the flux state of the particles of
matter that compose his body. We think this is capable of a very plain
answer, and may be easily illustrated by a familiar example. Sir John
Cutler had a pair of black worsted stockings, which his maid darned so
often with silk, that they became at last a pair of silk stockings. Now,
supposing those stockings of Sir John's endued with some degree of
consciousness at every particular darning, they would have been sensible
that they were the same individual pair of stockings, both before and
after the darning!"

The subject is here presented in a ludicrous point of view, and some may
doubt whether this is a legitimate method of treating it. But it should
not be forgotten that while _ridicule is no safe test of truth, it may
be the most effective exposure of nonsense and folly_.



It has been generally felt and acknowledged, that the doctrine which
preserves the distinction between matter and spirit, body and soul, is
more in accordance with the truths of Natural and Revealed Religion,
than the opposite theory which identifies them; and that, on the other
hand, a profound and serious study of these truths has a tendency to
raise our thoughts above the low level of Materialism, and to direct
them to the contemplation of a higher and nobler world,--the world of

There are many distinct points at which the theory of Materialism comes
into contact and collision with the truths both of Natural and Revealed
Religion. By a brief enumeration of these, the practical importance of
the subject may be clearly evinced.

1. The doctrine of "the immortality of the soul" is seriously affected
by the theory of Materialism. That there is _some_ connection between
the two is apparent from the very anxiety with which infidels have
labored to undermine the doctrine of "spirit," on purpose to get rid of
the doctrine of "immortality." But in stating the connection between
them, we must exercise the utmost caution, lest we should unwarily place
the truth on a precarious or questionable basis. In arguing for the
future life of the soul, as a doctrine of Natural Religion, some writers
have spoken as if they supposed that nothing more was needful to
demonstrate its "immortality" than the bare fact of its being
"immaterial," and that, by its very nature as "spirit," it is
indestructible by God Himself. Now, we do not hold that the mere proof
of its being an immaterial substance would necessarily infer its being
also immortal. For ought we know, the principle of life, sensation,
memory, and volition _may_ belong to an immaterial substance even in the
lower animals, who are not supposed to be immortal; and the only use
which we would make of its "immateriality" in connection with its
"immortality," is simply this,--that not being material, _its
destruction is not necessarily implied in the dissolution of the body_.
It is not in the metaphysical doctrine of its immaterial nature, but in
the practical evidence of its moral responsibilities and religious
capacities, that we find the most satisfactory natural proof of its
immortality. It is perfectly possible to hold, on the one hand, that all
"immaterial substances" are not necessarily indestructible; and yet to
hold, on the other hand, that _such_ an immaterial substance as the soul
of man is known to be,--endowed with conscience, with intelligence, with
affections and aspirations, with hopes and fears such as can find no
suitable object and no adequate range within the limits of the present
life,--must be destined to an immortal existence. The "immortality," for
which alone we ought to contend, is such as implies neither a necessity
of existence in the creature, nor its independence on the will of the
Creator. The _power_ of God to annihilate the soul is not called in
question, but the _purpose_ of God to make the soul immortal is inferred
from its nature and capacities, its aspirations and hopes and fears. And
all that is necessarily implied in the doctrine of what has been called
"the natural immortality of the soul" is well stated by Dr. S. Clarke,
when he says that, "the soul may be such a substance as is able to
continue its own duration forever, by the powers given to it at its
first production, and the continuance of those general influences which
are requisite for the support of created beings in general." Mr. Baxter,
acute and metaphysical as he was, placed the argument substantially on
the same ground. "It appears," he says, "that all substance equally, as
well material as immaterial, cannot cease to exist but by an effect of
infinite power.... The human soul, having no parts, must be
indissoluble in its nature by anything that hath not power to destroy or
annihilate it. And since it hath not a natural tendency to annihilation,
nor a power to annihilate itself, nor can be annihilated by any being
finitely powerful only, without an immediate act of the omnipotent
Creator to annihilate it, it must endlessly abide an active perceptive
substance, without either fear or hopes of dying through all eternity,
which is, in other words, to be immortal as to the agency of all natural
or second causes, that is, 'naturally immortal.'"[174]

When thus stated and limited, the argument is at once safe and valid. It
is first proved that the Mind is a "substance," living, perceptive, and
active, which is simple and indivisible, and not capable, like matter,
of being separated into parts possessing the same properties or powers;
and then this distinction betwixt mind and matter is applied to prove
that it cannot be _destroyed by dissolution_, as the body may be, but
that if it be destroyed at all, it must be by _annihilation_. But no
substance, material or immaterial, can be annihilated by any _finite or
second cause_; it can be annihilated only by the will of him who created
it; and the question respecting the soul of man remains, What are the
indications of God's will concerning it? When this question is seriously
entertained, we can hardly fail to see in the structure of its powers,
in the grandeur of its capacities, in the moral and responsible
consciousness which belongs to it, a strong presumptive proof of its
being His purpose that it should continue to live after the dissolution
of the body. The Metaphysical argument is sufficient to remove
preliminary objections, the Moral argument furnishes a presumptive

The theory of Materialism, as it assumes different forms, so it admits
of being associated with different views respecting the future
prospects of the soul. When it is held in its grossest form, it stands
in a relation of direct antagonism to the doctrine of "immortality," as
is apparent in the speculations of D'Holbach, Comte, and Atkinson, who
insist at large on the proof of Materialism on purpose to undermine and
overthrow the doctrine of Immortality. The theory of Materialism has
been maintained by Dr. Priestley and others, in conjunction with a
professed, and, as we believe, sincere belief in a future state of
rewards and punishments. The sleep of the soul during the interval
between death and the resurrection, and its ultimate awakening by an
immediate and miraculous interposition of Divine power, are equally held
to be true,--the one on the ground of a natural evidence, the other on
that of the authority of Revelation. But the natural evidence is
defective, since it depends entirely on the assumption that "thought" is
produced by and dependent on a certain material organization, without
which it could not exist; and the supernatural authority is still less
to be relied on, since it _seems_, at least, to recognize the existence
of disembodied spirits, and unequivocally declares that the soul cannot
be killed as the body may. If the soul be material, as Dr. Priestley
says it is, it must be, equally with the body, affected by the stroke of
death; yet our Lord says,--and His authority cannot be declined when the
doctrine of a future resurrection is made to depend on the mere
testimony of Scripture,--"Fear not them which kill the body, but are not
able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both
soul and body in hell."[175] And the soul is represented as existing in
a state of conscious happiness or misery, even during the interval
between death and the resurrection, in the parable of the rich man and
Lazarus, as well as in the statement of the apostle that "he was in a
strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ,
which is far better."[176] In its most recent and refined form, the
theory of Materialism represents "mind" as a subtle product, evolved out
of matter, and destined to an endless existence,--an ever-ascending
progression; and in this form of it, the doctrine of a distinct,
personal immortality is, no doubt, far better preserved than in its
earlier and grosser forms, which spoke of the utter destruction of
individual consciousness at the hour of death, and of our material
particles passing merely into other kinds of organic or inorganic being.
But then, it is placed on a very precarious ground,--the mere
supposition of a material product, which can never be established by
proof, and which, if there were no other objection to it, might well
seem to be sufficiently discredited by the mere fact that it ascribes to
_the effect_ properties and powers, of a very high and peculiar order,
which do not exist in _the cause_.

2. The doctrine of "future rewards and punishments," or of "man's
responsibility" as a subject of the Divine government, is also
materially affected by the theory of Materialism, in some, at least, of
its forms. When it is connected, as it often has been, with the doctrine
of "Mechanical Necessity," which represents every thought, opinion,
emotion, desire, and habit, as the unavoidable result of mere physical
influences acting on the brain, and makes no account of the spontaneity
or freedom which belongs to man as an intelligent, moral, and
responsible agent, it is manifestly impossible to discover any ground
for the doctrine of future rewards and punishments. And accordingly,
D'Holbach, Comte, and Atkinson describe man as if he were the mere
creature of circumstances, and deny that his character could possibly
have been different from what it is. But even when it is not associated
with fatalism, the theory, which denies the distinct existence of the
soul as a substantive being, has a tendency to shake our belief in the
doctrine of a "future retribution," properly so called, since that
doctrine rests on the assumption of our continued personal identity, or
the unity and continuity of our consciousness, as dying yet immortal
beings; whereas, if there be no "soul," or substantive spiritual being,
and if the "body" be in a state of perpetual flux and mutation, it is
difficult to see how _the same being that sinned can suffer_, or how the
doctrine of "retribution," properly so called, can be consistently

3. The doctrine of "the spirituality" of the Divine nature must be
seriously affected, in different ways, by the theory of Materialism.

It is said in Scripture that "God made man in His own image," and that
He "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a
living soul." Deny the existence of "spirit" or "soul," as God's living
image on earth, and what ground of evidence, or what help of analogy,
remains for either conceiving or proving aright the existence of Him who
is "a Spirit" and "the Father of the spirits of all flesh?" And if the
"spirituality" of the Divine nature be called in question, many of the
Divine attributes must also suffer; for it is only as "a spirit" that
God can be _omnipresent_, and his omnipresence is presupposed in his
_omniscience_ and _omnipotence_. For these reasons, we incur the
greatest risk of entertaining limited and false conceptions of God, by
obliterating the distinction between "matter" and "spirit."

It is, no doubt, competent, and it may even be highly useful, to
entertain the question, how far the theory of Materialism should be held
to affect the grounds on which we believe in a living, personal,
spiritual God? In answer to this question, we have no hesitation in
avowing our conviction that the theory of Materialism, however it may be
modified, has a tendency to impair the evidence of that fundamental
article of faith. God is "a Spirit," and man was made "in the image of
God." Take away all spiritual essences; reduce every known object in
nature to matter, gross or refined; let mental and moral phenomena be
blended with the physical, and what remains to constitute the groundwork
of a "spiritual" system, or to conduct us to the recognition of a
supreme, immaterial Mind? If the material body, with its peculiar
organization, be capable of producing human thought, and sufficient to
account for the intelligence of man, why may not the material universe,
with its mysterious laws and manifold forces, be held sufficient to
explain whatever marks of a higher intelligence may appear in Nature?
and why may we not at once embrace Pantheism, and conceive of God only
as "the soul of the world?" Dr. Priestley's reply to this question
appears to us to be a mere evasion of the difficulty. In treating of
"the objection to the system of Materialism derived from the
consideration of the Divine essence," he first of all premises that "in
fact we have no proper idea of any essence whatever; that our ideas
concerning 'matter' do not go beyond the powers of which it is
possessed, and much less can our ideas go beyond powers, properties, or
attributes with respect to the Divine Being;" and then adds, "Now, the
powers and properties of the Divine mind, as clearly deduced from the
works of God, are not only so infinitely superior to those of the human
mind, when there is some analogy between them, but so essentially
different from them in other respects, that whatever term we make use of
to denote the one, it must be improperly applied to the other." He
specifies several points of "essential difference" between the human and
the Divine mind: the _first_ is, the limited intelligence of the one as
contrasted with the all-comprehensive omniscience of the other; the
_second_ is, the omnipotence which belongs to God, and in virtue of
which He can produce, or annihilate, anything at His pleasure: the
_third_ is, that "the Divine essence cannot be the object of any of our
senses, as everything else that we call 'matter' is." And on these
grounds he concludes that "as the Divine powers, so the Divine nature,
must be essentially different from ours, and, consequently, no common
term, except such comprehensive terms as _being, nature_, &c., can be
properly used to express both." He further argues that "no proof of the
materiality of man can be extended, by any just analogy, to a proof or
evidence of a similar materiality of the Divine nature; for the
properties or powers being different, the 'substance' or 'essence' (if
it be any convenience to us to use such terms at all) must be different

Now, we conceive this to be a mere evasion of the real difficulty:
_first_, because the same mode of reasoning, if applied to the case of
the human mind, would equally serve to prove that _it_ should be
distinguished from matter: and, _secondly_, because the alleged
_differences_ between the human and the Divine mind, great and real as
we admit them to be, afford no better reason for calling God a "spirit,"
than that which may be found in the _resemblance or analogy_ between
created and uncreated intelligence. It is as true of the human as it is
of the Divine mind, that we know nothing of its essence, except what we
learn through its properties and powers, that "it cannot be the object
of any of our senses, as everything that we call 'matter' is," and that
if it be right to give different and distinctive names to substances,
expressive of their properties in so far as these are known to us, we
are warranted in calling the human soul a "spirit" and distinguishing it
from "matter," until it can be shown that the properties of both are
identical. If this be denied, we cannot see on what ground the
distinction between "matter" and "spirit" can be maintained with
reference to God Himself. Dr. Priestley founds, not on the _resemblance
or analogy,_ but on the _essential difference_, between created and
uncreated intelligence; but, in point of fact, the _difference_, great
and real as it is, has no bearing on the only question at issue; it is
the _resemblance or analogy_ between all thinking beings and the
Supreme Mind that suggests the reason for classing them under the same
category as "spirits," and that enables us to rise from the spiritual
nature of man to the spiritual nature of God.

The personality of God, as a living, self-conscious, and active Being,
distinct from the created universe and superior to it, is dependent on
the "spirituality" of His nature; and in so far as the latter is
affected by the theory of Materialism, the evidence of the former must
also be proportionally weakened. We find, accordingly, that many
Materialists have exhibited a tendency towards a Pantheistic theory of
nature, in which the material universe is conceived of as the "body," of
which God is the "soul." Some Materialists, indeed, have stopped short
of Pantheism; but this may have arisen from their being less consequent
reasoners, or more timid thinkers, than others who were prepared to
follow out their principles fearlessly to all their logical results;
for, assuredly, if there be no evidence sufficient to show that the
"mind" is distinct from the "body," it will require a very high kind of
evidence to make it certain that "God" is distinct from "Nature."

4. The theory of Materialism comes into direct collision, at several
points, with the doctrines of Revealed Religion.

The doctrine of Scripture in regard to the "human soul" is manifestly at
variance with that theory. In the earliest pages of Genesis, we have an
account of its creation, which, when compared with other statements and
forms of expression occurring elsewhere, seems very clearly to imply
that the "soul" is a distinct substantive being, possessing properties
and powers peculiar to itself, and, although now united to the "body,"
yet capable of existing apart from it, and destined to an immortal
existence hereafter.[178] That it is a distinct substantive being,
connected with the body, but not dependent on it, at least in the sense
of being incapable of existing apart from it, appears from various
testimonies of the inspired Word. God is there pleased to call Himself
"the Father of our spirits," and that, too, in contradistinction to "the
fathers of our flesh." "We have had fathers of our 'flesh' which
corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in
subjection unto the Father of 'spirits' and live?" He is called "the God
of the 'spirits' of all flesh," and "the Lord who formeth the 'spirit'
of man within him." The historical narrative, too, of man's creation,
which declares that he was "made in the image of God," and that his
"soul" was infused by an immediate Divine afflatus, seems to imply that
there is another and a higher relation subsisting between God and the
"soul" than any that subsists between God and "matter." In other
passages, the soul is expressly represented as distinct and different
from the body:--"Fear not them which can kill the 'body,' but are not
able to kill the 'soul.'" "Into thy hands I commit my 'spirit,'" said
our Lord, just as his proto-martyr Stephen said, "Lord Jesus, receive my
'spirit.'" There are other passages still which affirm the separate
existence of disembodied spirits: "Then shall the dust return to the
earth as it was, and 'the spirit,' shall return unto God who gave it."
"A spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have." Nay, _spiritual
life_, such as clearly presupposes the continuance of conscious
existence, without interruption and without end, is said to be imparted
by Christ to his people:--"I am the resurrection and the life: he that
believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live again, and
whosoever liveth and believeth in me _shall never die_."--"Whoso
believeth in me ... is passed from death unto life."[179] Life is said
to be already imparted, such a life as shall survive death, and
continue without interruption and without end; and surely this is
utterly inconsistent with that theory of Materialism which affirms,
either the annihilation of the "soul" at death, or even the cessation of
its conscious existence during the interval between death and the

The revealed doctrine of "angels," or spiritual intelligences existing
in other parts of the universe, is also opposed to the theory of
Materialism. According to the common belief, the "soul" of man is the
_nexus_ between two worlds or states of being,--the world of "matter"
and the world of "mind." In man the elements of both worlds are united;
by his body he is connected with the world of matter, by his soul with
the world of mind. Death, which dissolves the union between the two,
consigns the one to the dust, and introduces the other into the world of
spirits. On this view, there is no difficulty in rising to the
conception of higher spiritual intelligences; and the variety and
gradation that are observable in all the works of God on earth may
impart to that sublime conception such a measure of verisimilitude as to
make it easily credible on the authority of Revelation. But the theory
of Materialism, especially as advocated by Dr. Priestley, plainly
excludes the existence of any order of "spiritual beings" other than the
uncreated Mind; for if that only is to be termed "spirit" which
possesses omniscience and the power of producing anything at pleasure,
it is clear that the highest angels and seraphims are no more "spirits"
than the souls of men.

Such being the relation which subsists between the theory of
Materialism, and some of the most important doctrines of Natural and
Revealed Religion, it is not wonderful that a serious consideration of
the latter should lead reflective men to abjure the former, or that
their aversion to it should increase in proportion as their views of
Divine truth are extended and enlarged. Not a few have yielded, in early
youth, to the charm of speculative inquiry, and fondly embraced the
idea of "unisubstancisme," who have lived to exchange it for a more
Scriptural faith. For just in proportion as men are brought under the
influence of serious views of God, of the soul, and of an eternal world,
in the same proportion will they become alienated, and even averse, from
a theory which confounds "spirit" with "matter," obscures their
conceptions of God and of the world of spirits, and degrades men to the
level of the beasts that perish. This effect of new, or, at least, more
vivid views of "things unseen and eternal" was instructively exemplified
in the case of the late Robert Hall. Like many an ardent speculatist, he
had embraced in early life the system of Materialism; and even after he
had entered on the work of the ministry, he could write to a professedly
Christian congregation in the following terms: "I am, and have been for
a long time, a Materialist, though I have never drawn your attention to
this subject in my preaching, because I have always considered it
myself, and wished you to consider it, as a _mere metaphysical
speculation_. My opinion, however, on this head, is, that the nature of
man is simple and uniform, that the thinking powers and faculties are
the result of a certain organization of matter,--and that after death he
ceases to be conscious until the resurrection."[180] But speculative
inquiry was soon to give place to spiritual faith. The death of his
revered and pious father brought his mind into realizing contact with an
unseen and eternal world; and, in the words of his biographer,
distinguished alike for profound science and deep practical piety, "The
death of Mr. Hall's father tended greatly to bring his mind to the state
of serious thought with which he entered on the pastoral office.
Meditating with the deepest veneration upon the unusual excellences of a
parent now forever lost to him, he was led to investigate, with renewed
earnestness, the truth as well as the value of those high and sacred
principles from which his eminent piety and admirable consistency so
evidently flowed. He called to mind, too, several occasions on which his
father, partly by the force of reason, partly by that of tender
expostulation, had exhorted him to abandon the vague and dangerous
speculations to which he was prone. Some important changes in Mr. Hall's
sentiments resulted from an inquiry conducted under such solemn
impressions, and among these may be mentioned his renunciation of
Materialism, which, he often declared, he _buried in his father's


[145] M. AD. FRANCK, "Rapport a l'Academie," Preface, p. XXI.

[146] M. COMTE, "Cours," I. 44, 89, 141; IV. 675; V. 45, 303. M.
CROUSSE, "Des Principes," pp. 16, 20, 84, 88. M. CABANIS, "Rapports du
Phisique et du Moral de l'Homme," 3 vols. M. BROUSSAIS, "Traité de
Physiologie appliquée a la Pathologie," 1828.

[147] "Systême de la Nature," I. 2, 10, 86, 101, and _passim_. This
eloquent text-book of the Atheism of the last century is dissected and
refuted by M. BERGIER in his "Examen du Materialisme," 2 vols. Paris,

[148] M. COMTE, "Cours," I. 44, 141. M. CROUSSE, "Des Principes," pp.
84, 86. ATKITSON AND MARTINEAU, "Letters on the Laws of Man's Nature and

[149] DR. PRIESTLEY, "Discoveries relating to Vision, Light, and
Colors." MR. DUGALD STEWART, "Philosoph. Essays," p. 187.

[150] DR. PRIESTLEY, "Disquisitions relating to Matter and Spirit;"
"Free Discussion of the Doctrine of Materialism;" "Correspondence
between Dr. Priestley and Dr. Price."

[151] DR. JOHN MASON GOOD, "Life of Lucretius," prefixed to his poetical
version of "The Nature of Things," I. XXXVIII.

[152] The "fictions of Clairvoyance" may be studied at large in "The
Principles of Nature and her Divine Revelations," by AND. J. DAVIS, the
Poughkeepsie Seer, 2 vols.; and in "The Celestial Telegraph," by M.
CAHAGNET. An attempt has been made to popularize the doctrine by
introducing it into the light literature of the Continent. See "Memoirs
of a Physician, Joseph Balsamo," by ALEXANDER DUMAS, I. 15, 21, 82; II.
50, 62, 70. Whether the cases reported by Dr. Gregory deserve to be
ranked as facts or fictions is a question which we need not wait to
solve, before we reject the "Revelations" of Davis.

[153] DR. PRIESTLEY, "Disquisitions," p. 2.

[154] "Systême de la Nature," I. 97, 108.

[155] DR. PRIESTLEY, "Disquisitions," pp. 27, 38, 60.

[156] MR. ATKINSON, "Laws of Man's Nature," p. 17.

[157] DR. SPURZHEIM, "Philosophical Principles of Phrenology," pp. VI.,
86, 100. PROFESSOR DOD, "Princeton Theological Essays," II. 376.

[158] DR. GREGORY, "Letters on Animal Magnetism," p. 57.

[159] BISHOP BUTLER, "Analogy," p. I. c. 1, p. 170.

[160] DR. JOHN PLAYFAIR, "Works," I., Preface, XXIX.

[161] C. M. BURNETT, M. D., "Philosophy," &c. London, 1850.

[162] BISHOP BERKELEY, "Words," I. 80.

[163] LORD BROUGHAM, "Discourse of Natural Theology," p. 238.

[164] STEWART, "Elements of Philosophy," I. 5.

[165] LOCKE'S "Essay," b. II. c. 23, § 15. Ibid., b. IV. c. 3, § 6.

[166] LOCKE, "Letter to Bishop of Worcester," Works, IV. 31.

[167] THOMAS CARLYLE, "Essays," I. 77, 214.

[168] C. BONNET, "Palingenesie Philosophique," 4 vols., I. 7, 47, 52.

[169] DR. PRIESTLEY, "Disquisitions," pp. 37, 38.

[170] DR. THOMAS BROWN, "Lectures," No. XCVI.

[171] ATKINSON, "Letters," p. 17.

[172] DR. SAM. CLARKE'S "Third Defence," in reply to Collins, pp. 5, 8,

[173] DR. SAM. CLARKE, "First Defence," pp. 11, 16; "Second Defence,"
pp. 4, 10.

[174] DR. CLARKE'S "Letter to Mr. Dodwell," pp. 34, 69, 72. ANDREW
BAXTER, "On the Soul," I. 227, 233.

[175] Matthew 10: 28.

[176] Luke 16: 22; Phil. 1: 23.

[177] DR. PRIESTLEY, "Disquisitions," p. 103; "Free Discussion," pp. 66,

[178] FLAVEL, "Pneumatologia; or, Treatise of the Soul," I. 290. SIR M.
HALE, "Primitive Origination of Mankind," p. 309.

[179] _Compare_ Heb. 12: 9; Num. 16: 22; 27: 16; Zech. 12: 1; Luke 23:
43, 46; Acts 7: 59; Eccles. 12: 7; 2 Cor. 5: 8; James 2: 26; Luke 24:
39; John 10: 25; John 5: 24.

[180] DR. OLINTHUS GREGORY, "Life of Hall," Works, VI. 26.



The theory of "natural laws" has been applied to disprove or supersede
the doctrine of Creation, by means of the principle of Development. It
has been further applied to _the government_, as well as to the
_creation_, of the world; and in this connection, it has been urged as a
reason for disbelieving the doctrine of God's special PROVIDENCE, and
employed to discredit the efficacy of PRAYER.

When thus applied, it is often associated with the recognition of the
Divine existence, and cannot, therefore, be ranked among systems
avowedly Atheistic. But from the earliest times, it has been the belief
of seriously reflecting men, that a system which professedly recognizes
the Divine Being as the Creator of the world, but practically excludes
Him from the government of its affairs, however _theoretically_
different from Atheism, is substantially the same with it.[181] It was
against this Epicurean Atheism that Howe contended in his "Living
Temple;" an Atheism which acknowledged gods, but "accounted that they
were such as between whom and man there could be no conversation,--on
_their_ part by providence, on _man's_ by religion." And it was against
the same Epicurean Atheism that Cudworth contended in his "Intellectual
System of the Universe," when he grappled with the objections which had
been urged against the doctrine of Providence and the practice of

It is not wonderful that either Atheists or Pantheists should discard
the doctrine of Providence, or deny the efficacy of Prayer. On their
principles, there is no room for the recognition of a supreme
intelligent Power governing the world, or of a Will capable of
controlling the course of human affairs.[183] But while neither Atheism
nor Pantheism could be expected to recognize a presiding Providence,
since they equally exclude a personal God, it may well seem strange that
any system of Theism, whether natural or revealed, should omit or oppose
this fundamental truth. For the doctrine of Providence may be
established, _inductively_, by the very same kind of evidence to which
every Theist has recourse in proving the existence and perfections of
the Divine Being; and, His existence and perfections being proved, the
doctrine of Providence may be inferred, _deductively_, from His
character, and from the relations which He sustains towards His
creatures, since it cannot be supposed that He who brought them into
being, as the products of His own wisdom, goodness, and power, and
endowed them with all their various properties for some great and noble
end, will ever cease to care for them, or deem them unworthy of His
regard. Yet, strong as is the proof arising from these and similar
sources, there have occasionally appeared in all ages, and especially at
a certain stage in the progress of philosophical speculation, men who
admitted, and even maintained, the existence of the Supreme Being, while
they denied, nevertheless, the doctrine of Providence and the efficacy
of Prayer.

In certain stages of philosophic inquiry, there is a natural tendency,
we think, or at least a strong temptation, to substitute the laws of
Nature in the place of God, or to conceive of him as somehow removed to
a greater distance from us by means of these laws. Every one must be
conscious, to some extent, of this tendency in his own personal
experience; he must have felt that when he first began to apprehend any
one of the great laws of Nature, and still more when he advanced far
enough to see that every department of the physical world is subject to
them, so as to exhibit a constant order, an all-pervading harmony, his
views of God and Providence became less impressive in proportion as the
domain of "law" was extended, and that he was in imminent danger of
sinking, if not into _theoretical_, at least into _practical_ Atheism.
"It is a fact," says Dr. Channing, "that Science has not made Nature _as
expressive of God_ in the first instance or, to the beginner in
religion, as it was in earlier times. Science reveals a rigid, immutable
_order_; and this to common minds looks much like self-subsistence, and
does not manifest intelligence, which is full of life, variety, and
progressive operation. Men in the days of their ignorance saw an
immediate Divinity accomplishing an immediate purpose, or expressing an
immediate feeling, in every sudden, striking change of Nature, ... and
Nature, thus interpreted, became the sign of a present,
deeply-interested Deity."[184] That the scientific study of Nature, and
especially of certain departments of physical inquiry, has often had the
effect of deadening our sense of a present and presiding Deity, of
obscuring or perplexing our views of the connection of God with His
works, and of virtually removing Him from all efficient control over the
creatures of His hands, is attested, not only by the published
speculations of some, but also by the inward consciousness of many more,
who have never avowed infidel sentiments to others, nor even, at least
articulately, to themselves. It may be useful, therefore, to inquire
somewhat particularly, whether, and how far, the existence of "natural
laws" and the operation of "second causes" should affect our views of
the Providence which God exercises over us, or of the Prayers which we
address to Him.



The existence of "natural laws," and the operation of "second causes,"
are often explicitly recognized, and always obviously implied, in
Scripture. Revelation is not designed to explain the nature or the
action of either; but it assumes the reality of both.[185] It is plainly
implied in the very _first_ chapter of Genesis, that, at the era of
creation, God gave _a definite constitution_, implying peculiar
properties and powers, to all the various classes of objects which were
then called into being. He created light, with its peculiar properties;
He created water, with its peculiar properties. He created everything
"after its kind." The distinction between one created thing and another,
such as light and water, and the distinction also between "genera" and
"species," especially in the case of plants, trees, fish, fowl, cattle,
and reptiles, are very strongly marked in the sacred narrative: and this
distinction implies the existence of certain properties peculiar to each
of these objects or classes,--properties not common to them all, but
distinctive and characteristic, which made them to be, severally, what
they are, and which amount to a _distinct definite constitution_. These
properties, account for them as we may, are essential to their
existence as distinct objects in nature, and cannot be separated from
them as long as the objects themselves exist. Light has certain
properties, and so has water, and so has every distinct order of
vegetable or animal life, which make them to be what they severally are,
and which cannot be severed from them otherwise than by the destruction
of their very nature. These properties are known to us by their
_effects_; and hence the substances or beings to which they respectively
belong are regarded by us as _causes_; and their operation as causes is
regulated by certain "laws," imposed upon them by the same Omnipotent
Will which called them into being and endowed them with all their
peculiar properties and powers. The operation of these "natural causes,"
and the existence of certain "established laws" by which they are
regulated, are explicitly recognized or obviously assumed in
Scripture.[186] "Thou hast established the earth, and it abideth; they
continue this day _according to thine ordinances_, for all are _thy

The established constitution and settled order of Nature, as well as the
"laws," "decrees," or "ordinances" by which it is regulated, are thus
explicitly recognized in Scripture itself; and there are several reasons
why this fact should be deliberately considered. First, because it seems
to have been assumed by our opponents, that the discovery of "natural
laws," and the admission of "second causes," must necessarily be
adverse, and may ultimately prove fatal, to the cause of Religion; or,
in other words, that Faith must recede just in proportion as Science
advances; whereas the Bible speaks both of natural objects, possessing
peculiar properties and powers, and also of natural laws, as God's
"ordinances" both in the heavens and the earth, but speaks nevertheless
of a presiding Providence or governing Will, without ever supposing
that the two are incompatible or mutually exclusive. Secondly, because
some of the less intelligent members of the Christian community itself
seem to be influenced, to a certain extent, by the very same error which
we ascribe to our opponents; and evince a very groundless jealousy of
Science, as if they feared that the progress of physical research might
have the effect of weakening the grounds on which they believe in the
care of Providence and the efficacy of Prayer; whereas the Bible gives
no countenance to any jealousies or fears of this kind, but affirms
God's providential government and encourages man's believing prayer, at
the very time when it founds upon and appeals to the established
constitution and course of Nature.[187] And thirdly, because a right
apprehension of the properties and powers belonging to created beings,
and of the laws to which they are severally subject, will be found to
conduce largely to a clear and comprehensive view of the relation which
God sustains to His works. His Providence, as it is declared and
exemplified in Scripture, has _a necessary reference to the natural
constitution of things_; and hence the Westminster Confession, in the
spirit of the highest philosophy, and with admirable discrimination and
accuracy, affirms that "God, the Creator of all things, doth uphold,
direct, dispose, and govern, all creatures, actions, and things, from
the greatest even to the least, by His most wise and holy Providence;"
that "by the same Providence, He ordereth all things to fall out
_according to the nature of second causes_, either necessarily, freely,
or contingently;" and that "God in His ordinary Providence maketh use of
means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them at His

"Natural laws" and "second causes" are thus established by experience,
and explicitly recognized in Scripture. It is necessary, however,
especially with reference to certain modern speculations, to
discriminate between the two; and to show that while they are closely
related and equally legitimate objects of philosophical inquiry, they
are nevertheless radically different, as well as easily distinguishable,
from each other. It is the favorite doctrine of the Positive school in
France that the knowledge of "causes" is utterly interdicted to man, and
that the only science to which he should aspire consists exclusively in
the knowledge of "phenomena," and their coördination under "general
laws." M. Comte explicitly avows this doctrine, and Mr. Mill and Mr.
Lewes give it their implied sanction.[189] According to their theory,
all Science is limited to "the laws of the coexistence and succession of
phenomena," and "causes" are not only unknown, but incapable of being
known. And to such an extent is this doctrine carried that M. Comte
anticipates the possible ultimate reduction of _all_ "phenomena" to
_one_ all-comprehensive, all-pervading "law," as the highest perfection
of Science and the decisive extinction of Religion; while Mr. Mill,
doubtful of this being possible, thinks it conceivable, at least, that
there may be worlds, different from our own, in which events occur
_without causes_ of any kind, and even without any _fixed law_.

In regard to this theory it might well be asked, how it comes to pass
that human language, which is the natural exponent of human thought,
should contain, in every one of its multifarious dialects, so many
expressions which denote or imply "causation," if it be true that all
knowledge of causes is utterly inaccessible to the human faculties? Nay,
why is it that the axiom of causation needs only to be announced to
command the immediate assent of the whole human race?

It will be found, we believe, that even in the case of those who
contend for this theory, the instinctive and spontaneous belief in
"causation" is not extinguished nor even impaired; but that they seek
merely _to substitute "laws" for "causes_," or rather to represent _the
laws of nature_ as the only _efficient causes_ of all natural phenomena.
They thus identify or confound two things which it is of the utmost
consequence to discriminate and keep distinct. There is an ambiguity,
however, in the common usage of the term "law," which may seem to give a
plausible appearance to their theory, or at least to vail over and
conceal its radical fallacy. It denotes sometimes the mere statement of
_a general fact_, or the result of a comprehensive generalization,
founded on the observation and comparison of many particular facts; it
denotes at other times _the force or power_, whatever that may be, which
produces any given set of phenomena. The "law" of gravitation, for
example, is often used to denote nothing more than the _general fact_,
ascertained by experience, that all bodies near the surface of the earth
tend to its centre with a velocity proportioned directly to their mass,
and inversely to the square of their distance; and when it is employed
in _this_ sense, it determines nothing as to the "cause" which is in
operation,--it affirms merely a fact, or a fact reduced to a formula,
and confirmed by universal experience. But it is often transferred, at
least mentally and almost perhaps unconsciously, to denote some "power"
which is instinctively supposed to be in operation when any change is
observed,--a "power" which may be conceived of, either as a _property_
inherent in mind or in matter, or as a _force_, such as the Divine
volition, acting upon it _ab extra_; and it is only in the latter of
these two senses, as denoting a "cause," properly so called, and not a
mere fact or law, that it can be applied to account for any phenomenon.
In like manner, the "laws of motion" are merely the generalized results
of our experience and observation relative to the direction, velocity,
and other phenomena of moving bodies; but "motion," although it is
regulated, is not produced, by these laws; it depends on a "cause,"
whatever that may be, which is not only distinguishable, but different
from them all. Yet when we speak of the "laws of motion," we may
imperceptibly include, in our conception of them, that _force_ or
_power_ which impels the body, as well as the mere _law_ or _rule_ which
regulates its movements. It were a mere unprofitable dispute about
words, did we entertain and discuss the question, whether the import of
the term "law" might not be so extended as to include under it _powers_,
_properties_, and _causes_, as well as the _rules_ and _conditions_ of
their operation: for, even were this question answered in the
affirmative, there would still be room for a real distinction between
the two, and there could be no reason for saying that the knowledge of
"causes," as distinguished from "laws," is wholly inaccessible to the
human faculties. There is thus a real and important distinction between
"laws" considered simply as general facts, and "causes" considered as
efficient agents; and the two cannot be reduced to the same category,
otherwise than by giving such an extension to the term "law" as shall
make it comprehensive of _causation_; and even then, the distinction
remains between the mere formulas of Science and the actual forces of
Nature. "The laws of Nature," says the sagacious Dr. Reid, "are the
_rules_ according to which the effects are produced, but there must be a
_cause_ which operates according to these rules. The rules of navigation
never navigated a ship; the rules of architecture never built a

It might be shown, were it needful for our present purpose, that the
object of Science is _threefold: first_, to ascertain particular facts;
_secondly_, to reduce these facts under general laws; and, _thirdly_, to
investigate the "causes" by which both _facts_ and _laws_ may be
accounted for. The exclusion of any one of the three would be fatal to
Philosophy as well as Religion; and it is prohibited by the "natural
laws" of the human mind, which has the capacity not only of observing
particular facts, but of comparing and contrasting them so as to deduce
from them a knowledge of general laws, and which is also imbued with an
instinctive and spontaneous tendency to ascribe every change that is
observed to some "power" or "cause" capable of producing such an effect.
It might further be shown, that in every instance a "cause," properly so
called, is a _substance_ or _being_ possessing certain properties or
powers,--properties which may be called, if you will, the "laws" of that
substance, but which necessarily include the idea of _causation_ or
_efficiency_; that in the case of mere physical agency, there must be a
plurality of substances so related as that the one shall act on the
other in certain conditions which are indispensable to their mutual
action; and that these requirements leave ample room for those manifold
adjustments and adaptations on which the argument from "design," in
favor of the Perfections and Providence of God, is founded. The mere
recognition of "general laws," considered simply as the "coördination of
facts," and especially as exclusive of the idea of causation or
efficiency, can never satisfy the demands of reason, nor exhaust the
legitimate functions of Science. For, in the expressive words of Sir
John Herschell, "It is high time that philosophers, both physical and
others, should come to some nearer agreement than seems to prevail, as
to the meaning they intend to convey in speaking of causes and
causation. On the one hand, we are told that the grand object of
physical inquiry is to explain the nature of phenomena by referring them
to their _causes_; on the other, that the inquiry into 'causes' is
altogether vain and futile, and that Science has no concern but with the
discovery of 'laws.' Which of these is the truth? Or are both views of
the matter true _on a different interpretation of the terms_? Whichever
view we may take, or whichever interpretation we may adopt, there is
one thing certain,--the extreme inconvenience of such a state of
language. This can only be reformed by a careful analysis of the widest
of all human generalizations, disentangling from one another the
innumerable shades of meaning which have got confounded together in its
progress, and establishing among them a rational classification and
nomenclature.... A 'law' may be a _rule of action_, but it is not
_action_. The great First Agent may lay down a rule of action for
himself, and that rule may become known to man by observation of its
uniformity; but, constituted as our minds are, and having that conscious
knowledge of _causation_ which is forced upon us by the reality of the
distinction between _intending_ a thing, and _doing_ it, we can never
substitute the 'rule' for the 'act.'"[191]

But while the existence of "natural laws" and the operation of "second
causes" are equally admitted, and yet duly discriminated, large room is
still left for diversities of opinion or of statement in regard to _the
precise relation which God sustains to His works_, and especially in
regard to _the nature and method of His agency in connection with the
use of "second causes_." Hence have arisen the various theories which
have appeared successively in the history of Philosophy, and which have
had for their avowed object the explanation of the _connection between
God and Nature_, or the conciliation of Theology with Science.[192]
Hence, first of all, the theory of "occasional causes," as taught by
Father Malebranche, with the laudable, but, as we think, mistaken,
design of vindicating the Divine agency in Providence by virtually
superseding every other power in Nature;--a theory which represents
physical agencies as the mere _occasions_, and God as the sole _cause_
of all changes, which teaches that a healthy eye, with the presence of
light, is not the cause of vision, but the occasion only of that Divine
interposition by which alone we are enabled to see, and that a man's
desire or volition to walk is not the cause of his walking, but the
occasion merely of that Divine interposition which alone puts the proper
muscles in motion. Hence, secondly, the theory of "preëstablished
harmony" as taught by Leibnitz;--a theory which was mainly designed to
explain the relation subsisting between the soul and the body, but which
involves principles bearing on the general doctrine of cause and effect,
and applicable to the relation subsisting between God and His works.
This theory teaches that mind and body, although closely united, have no
real influence on each other, that each of them acts by its own
properties and powers, and that their respective operations exactly
correspond to each other by virtue of a "preëstablished harmony" between
the two, just as one clock may be so adjusted as to keep time with
another, although each has its own moving power, and neither receives
any part of its motions from the other. This theory, therefore, denies
everything like causal action between mind and matter; and when it is
extended, as it may legitimately be, to the relation between God and the
world, it would seem to imply the coequal existence and independence of
both, and the impossibility of any causal relation between the two. The
manifest defects of these theories have given rise to a _third_, which,
in one of its forms, has been generally adopted by Divines,--the theory
of "instrumental causes."

This theory has assumed two distinct and very different forms. In the
first, all natural effects are ascribed to powers _imparted_ to created
beings, and _inherent_ in them; that is, to powers which are supposed to
have been conferred at the era of Creation, and to be still sustained by
God's will in Providence, subject, however, to be suspended or revoked
according to His pleasure. In the second, which resembles in some
respects the doctrine of "occasional causes," all natural effects are
ascribed to powers not _imparted_, but _impressed_, not belonging to the
natural agent, but communicated by impulse _ab extra_; and God's will is
represented as the only efficient cause in Nature. In both forms of the
theory, the agency of God and the instrumentality of natural means are,
in a certain sense, acknowledged; but in the _former_, second causes are
apt to be regarded as if they were self-existent and independent of God;
in the _latter_, second causes are apt to be virtually annulled, and all
events to be regarded as the immediate effects of Divine volition. Both
extremes are dangerous. For, on the one hand, the operation of second
causes cannot be regarded as necessary and independent, without severing
the tie which connects the created universe with the will of the
Supreme; and, on the other hand, the operation of second causes cannot
be excluded or denied, without virtually making God's will _the only
efficient cause_, and thereby charging directly and immediately on Him,
not only all the physical changes which occur in Nature, but also all
the volitions and actions of His creatures. In order to guard against
these opposite and equally dangerous extremes, we must hold the real
existence and actual operation of "second causes;" while we are careful,
at the same time, to show both that whatever powers belong to any
created being were originally conferred by God, and also that they are
still preserved and perpetuated by Him, subject to his control, and
liable to be suspended or revoked, according to the pleasure of His
will. We would thus have _one First_, and MANY SECOND CAUSES; the former
_supreme_, the latter _subordinate_; really distinct, but not equally
independent, since "second causes" are, from their very nature, subject
to the dominion and control of that Omniscient Mind which called them
into being, and which knows how to overrule them all for the
accomplishment of His great designs.

We are aware that some are unwilling to acknowledge the _efficiency_ of
any "second causes," and seek to resolve all events, even such as are
brought about by the volitions of men, into the will of God, as the only
Agent in Nature. Others, again, admitting the existence of created
spirits, and their operation as real causes, are unwilling to
acknowledge any active powers in _matter_, and are anxious to show that
_mind_, and _mind only_, can be an efficient cause. We see no reason for
this extreme jealousy of "second causes" either in the mental or the
material world. In the mental world, they cannot be denied, as distinct,
although subordinate and dependent, agencies, without virtually making
God's will _the only cause_ in Nature, and thereby representing Him as
the _cause of sin_, if sin, indeed, could exist on that supposition, or
without destroying the distinct individuality and personal
responsibility of man. Man must be regarded as a distinct, though
dependent, _agent_, and, as such, a real, though subordinate, _cause_;
otherwise every action, whether good or evil, must be ascribed directly
and immediately to the efficiency of the Divine will, and _to that
alone_. And in the material world, "second causes" can as little be
dispensed with; for every theory, even the most meagre, must acknowledge
the existence of _some_ power or property in matter, were it only the
passive power or _vis inertiæ_ on which all the laws of motion depend.
And if _this_ can be admitted as a power inherent in matter and
inseparable from it, we cannot see why the existence of _other_ powers,
not incompatible with this, should be deemed a whit more derogatory to
the dominion and providence of God. In a certain sense, indeed, God's
will may be said to be the First, the Supreme Cause of all, since
nothing can happen without His permission or appointment: but, in this
sense, the existence of "natural laws" and the operation of "second
causes" are by no means excluded; they are only held to have been
originated at first, and ever afterwards sustained by the Divine Will,
the latter being _supreme_, the former _subordinate_. It may also be
said, in a certain sense, that Mind only is active:[193] for all the
properties and powers of matter are the results of the Divine volition,
and their mode of action is regulated and determined by "laws" which God
has imposed; but it were unphilosophical, as well as unscriptural, to
infer from this that He is the only Agent in the Universe; it is enough
to say that He created the system of Nature, and that He still upholds
and governs it by His Providence.

It must be evident that the speculations to which we have referred have
a close connection with the argument, founded on natural evidence, for
the being, perfections, and providence of God. That argument, in so far
as it depends on the mutual adaptations between natural objects and the
nice adjustments of natural laws, might be seriously impaired by
supposing that there is really only one cause in Nature; whereas the
ascription of certain properties and powers to created beings, whether
mental or material, can have no effect in diminishing its force, since
the evidence depends not so much on the phenomena of _physical_, as on
those of _moral_ causation.

On the whole, we conclude that the existence of "natural laws" and the
operation of "second causes" are recognized alike by the sacred writers
and by sound philosophy; and that neither the one nor the other ought to
be regarded as adverse to any doctrine which, as Christian Theists, we
are concerned to defend.



"The Constitution of Man considered in Relation to External
Objects,"[194]--such is the title of a popular, and, in some respects,
instructive work, which has obtained, partly through the aid of an
endowment, extensive circulation among the reading class of artisans and
tradesmen. Written in a lucid style, and illustrated by numerous facts
in Natural History and Philosophy, it is skilfully adapted to the
capacities and tastes of common readers, and it is not wonderful that it
should have exerted considerable influence on the public mind. The
character of that influence, and its tendency to induce a religious or
irreligious frame of spirit, has been made a matter of controversial
discussion. On the one hand, Mr. Combe tells us that "'The Constitution
of Man' not only admits the existence of God, but is throughout devoted
to the object of expounding and proving that He exercises a real,
practical, and intelligible government of this world, rewarding virtue
with physical and moral well-being, and punishing vice with want and
suffering." On the other hand, it is manifest, beyond the possibility of
doubt or denial, that if his professed Theism has subjected him to the
charge of being an inconsequent thinker in some of the organs of avowed
Atheism,[195] his favorite arguments in support of "government by
natural law" have been applied by himself, and eagerly welcomed by
others, as conclusive objections to the doctrine of a special Providence
and the efficacy of Prayer.

We do not object to the limitation of his inquiry to the one point of
the relation subsisting between "the Constitution of Man and External
Objects,"--that is a perfectly legitimate, and might be a highly
instructive field of investigation; but we do object to his utter
forgetfulness of that limitation in the progress of his work, and to his
attempt to introduce a variety of other topics which are manifestly
alien from his professed design. If he meant to discuss merely the
relation between the constitution of man and external objects, he had
nothing whatever to do with the far higher and more comprehensive
doctrine respecting the relation between the constitution of man and the
government of God, and, least of all, with the _revealed_ doctrines of a
special Providence, of a fall into a state of sin, of death as its
wages, and of "spiritual influences" by which the ruin occasioned by the
fall may be redressed; and yet these topics, foreign as they are to the
professed design of his work, are all introduced, and treated, too, in a
way that is fitted, if not designed, to shake the confidence of his
readers in what have hitherto been regarded as important articles of the
Christian faith. It has received this significant testimony, "'Combe's
Constitution of Man' would be worth a hundred New Testaments on the
banks of the Ganges."[196]

There are _two points_, especially, on which he comes more directly into
collision with our present argument:

1. He speaks as if God governed the universe _only_ by "natural laws,"
so as to exclude any other dispensation of Providence.

2. He speaks as if the "physical and organic" laws of Nature possessed
the same authority and imposed the same obligation as the "moral" laws
of Conscience and Revelation; and as if the breach or neglect of the
former were _punishable_ in the same sense, and for the same reason, as
the transgression of the latter.

Next to the omission of all reference to a future state, and the total
exclusion of the connection which subsists between the temporal and the
eternal under the Divine government, we hold these _two_ to be the
capital defects of his treatise; and it may be useful, in the present
state of public opinion, to offer a few remarks upon each of them.

In regard to the _first_, we need not repeat what we have already
explicitly declared, that God does govern the world _in part_ by means
of "natural laws" and "second causes;" but, not content with this
concession, Mr. Combe speaks as if He governed the world _only_ by these
means, to the exclusion of everything like a "special Providence," or
"Divine influences." It is not so much in his dogmatic statements as in
his illustrative examples that the real tendency of his theory becomes
apparent. Thus he speaks of "the most pious and benevolent missionaries
sailing to civilize and Christianize the heathen, but, embarking in an
unsound ship, they are drowned by their disobeying a physical law,
without their destruction being averted by their morality;" and, on the
other hand, of "the greatest monsters of iniquity" embarking in a
staunch and strong ship, and escaping drowning "in circumstances exactly
similar to those which would send the missionaries to the bottom." Thus,
again, he speaks of plague, fever, and ague, as resulting from the
neglect of "organic laws," and as resulting from it so necessarily that
they could be averted neither by Providence nor by Prayer; and he
illustrates his views by the mental distress of the wife of Ebenezer
Erskine, and the recorded experience of Mrs. Hannah More.[197] It cannot
be doubted, we think, that in all these cases he speaks as if God
governed the world _only_ by natural laws; and that he does not
recognize any special Providence or any answer to Prayer, but resolves
all events into the operation of these "laws."

Now, there are evidently _two_ suppositions that may be entertained on
this subject: either, that God orders _all_ events to fall out according
to "natural laws" and by means of "second causes;" or, that while He
_generally_ makes use of means in the ordinary course of His Providence,
He reserves the liberty and the power of interposing directly and
immediately, when He sees cause, for the accomplishment of His sovereign
will. These two suppositions seem to exhaust the only possible
alternatives in a question of this kind; and, strange as it may at first
sight appear to be, it is nevertheless true that neither the one nor the
other is necessarily adverse to the doctrine for which we now contend.
Even on the first supposition,--that God orders _all_ events to fall out
according to "natural laws" and by means of "second causes,"--there
might still be room, not, indeed, for miraculous interposition, but for
the exercise of a special Providence and even for an answer to prayer;
for it should never be forgotten that, among the "second causes" created
and governed by the Supreme Will, there are other agencies besides those
that are purely physical,--there are intelligent beings, belonging both
to the visible and invisible worlds, who may be employed, for ought we
know to the contrary, as "ministers in fulfilling His will," and whose
agency may, without any miraculous interference with the established
order of Nature, bring about important practical results, just as man's
own agency is admitted to have the power of arranging, modifying, and
directing the elements of Nature, while it has no power to suspend or
reverse any "natural law." And if God is ordinarily pleased to make use
of means, why should it be thought incredible that He may make use of
the ministry of intelligent beings, whether they be men or angels, for
the accomplishment of His designs? But on the second supposition,--that
while He generally makes use of means in the ordinary course of His
Providence, He reserves the liberty and the power of interposing
directly and immediately when He sees cause,--the doctrine of a special
Providence, including every interposition, natural or supernatural, is
at once established; and we cannot see how Mr. Combe, as a professed
believer in Revelation, which must of course be regarded as a
supernatural effect of "Divine influence," can consistently deny God's
direct and immediate agency in Providence, since he is compelled to
admit it at least on _two_ great occasions, namely, the Creation of the
world, and the promulgation of His revealed will.

In regard, again, to the second capital defect or error of his system,
it may be conclusively shown that he confounds, or fails at least duly
to discriminate, two things which are radically different, when he
speaks as if the "physical and organic laws" of Nature had the same
_authority_, and imposed the same obligations, as the "moral laws" of
Conscience and Revelation, and as if the breach or neglect of the former
were _punishable_, in the same sense, and for the same reason, as the
transgression of the latter.

The declared object of his treatise is twofold: first, to illustrate the
relation subsisting between the "natural laws" and the "constitution of
man;" and, secondly, to prove the _independent operation_ of these laws,
as _a key to the explanation of the Divine government_. In illustrating
the relation between the "natural laws" and the "constitution of man,"
he attempts to show that the natural laws require obedience not less
than the moral, and that they inflict punishment on disobedience: "The
peculiarity of the new doctrine is that these (the physical, organic,
and moral laws) operate independently of each other; that each requires
obedience to itself; that each, in its own specific way, rewards
obedience and punishes disobedience; and that human beings are happy in
proportion to the extent to which they place themselves in accordance
with _all_ of these Divine institutions." In regard to these "natural
laws,"--including the physical, the organic, the intellectual, and the
moral,--_four_ positions are laid down: first, that they are independent
of each other; secondly, that obedience or disobedience to each of them
is followed by reward or punishment; thirdly, that they are universal
and invariable; and, fourthly, that they are in harmony with the
"constitution of man."[198]

Now, in this theory of "natural laws," especially as it is applied to
the doctrines of Providence and Prayer, there seem to be _three_ radical

1. Mr. Combe speaks of _obedience_ and _disobedience_ to the "physical
and organic" laws, as if they _could_ be obeyed or disobeyed in the same
sense and in the same way as the "moral" laws, and as if they imposed an
obligation on man which it would be sinful to disregard. He has not duly
considered that the moral law differs from the physical and organic laws
of Nature in two important respects: first, that while the former _may_,
the latter _cannot_, be broken or violated by man; and secondly, that
while the former does impose an imperative obligation which is felt by
every conscience, the latter have either no relation to the conscience
at all, or, if they have, it is collateral and indirect only, and arises
not from the mere existence of such laws, but from the felt obligation
of a _moral law belonging to our own nature_, which prescribes
_prudence_ as a duty with reference to our personal conduct in the
circumstances in which we are placed.

That the "physical and organic" laws cannot be broken or violated in the
same sense in which the "moral law" may be transgressed, is evident from
the simple consideration that the violation of a natural law, were it
possible, _would be not a sin, but a miracle_! And that these laws
impose no real obligation on the conscience is further manifest, because
we hold it to be perfectly lawful to counteract, so far as we can, the
operation of one physical or organic law by employing the agency of
another, as in the appliances of Mechanics, the experiments of
Chemistry, and the art of Navigation. When the aëronaut inflates his
balloon with a gas specifically lighter than atmospheric air, or the
ship-builder constructs vessels of wood or iron, so that when filled
with air they shall be lighter than water, and float with their cargo on
its surface, each is attempting to counteract the law of gravitation by
the application of certain other related laws: but no one ever dreams of
their _disobeying_ God in thus availing themselves of one physical agent
to counterpoise another. The "moral law," however, cannot be treated in
the same way, and that simply because it is generically different.

It is true, that _indirectly_ the laws of Nature, when known, may and
ought to regulate our practical conduct; not, however, by virtue of any
obligation imposed _by them_ on our conscience, but solely by virtue of
that law of _moral prudence_ which springs from conscience itself, and
which teaches us that we _ought_ so to act with reference to outward
objects as to secure, so far as we can, our own safety and happiness,
and the welfare of our fellow-men. But there can be no greater blunder
than to confound _the laws of natural objects_ with _the law of human
conduct_; and into this deplorable blunder Mr. Combe has allowed himself
to fall. Throughout the whole of his statements respecting the "natural
laws," there are two things included under one name, which are perfectly
distinct and separate from each other. In the first place, there are the
laws which belong to the constitution of natural objects, and which
regulate their mutual action on one another: in the second place, there
are, in the words of a late sagacious layman, "_rules_ which the
intellect of man is able to deduce for the regulation of his own
conduct, by means of his knowledge of those laws which govern the
phenomena of Nature. These last are perfectly distinct from the former;
and it is a monstrous confusion of ideas to mix them up together....
The true state of the case is this,--it is for our interest to study
these natural arrangements, and to accommodate our conduct to them, as
far as we know them; and in doing so, we _obey_, not those laws of
Nature, physical and organic, but the laws of _prudence and good sense_,
arising from a due use of our moral and intellectual faculties."[199]
Another acute writer,[200] who states the substance of the argument in
very few words, has shown that the theory of "natural laws," as taught
by Mr. Combe, is true in one sense and false in another: "It is _true_,
first, that the Creator has bestowed constitutions on physical objects;
in other words, the constitutions which physical objects possess were
_given_ them, given during His pleasure; secondly, that the
constitutions of physical objects are _definite_,--that is, they are
distinct, individual, and incapable of transmutation _by natural
causes_; thirdly, that no power but the power of the Creator can vary
their constitutions. But it is _not true_, first, that any mode of
action of a physical object is otherwise inherent in it, than as it is
the will of God that that object should _now_ present that mode of
action. Nor is it true, secondly, that it is beyond the power of God to
vary, when He pleases, either temporarily or permanently, the
constitution of physical objects." He further shows that, on Mr. Combe's
principle of "natural laws" being all equally Divine institutions which
must be _obeyed_, "human obedience is a very complicated and perplexing
affair, so complicated and so perplexing as to involve positive
contradictions;" that "the very same act is required by one law, and
forbidden by another, both laws being equally Divine;" and that "we
sometimes cannot obey both the 'organic' and the 'moral' laws." He
concludes that "physical laws ought not to be confounded with laws of
human conduct;" that "these we always must obey, and those we may
often, without deserving blame, boldly disregard;" and that "by
commingling distinct classes of 'natural laws,' Mr. Combe introduces
into his system dangerous error and gross absurdity."

2. Another radical defect in this theory of "natural laws" consists in
its representing the consequences of our ignorance or neglect of them as
_punishments_ in the same sense in which moral delinquencies are said to
be followed by penal inflictions. There is something here which is
totally at variance with the instinctive feelings and moral convictions
of mankind. Mr. Combe affirms that each of the three great classes of
"natural laws" requires _obedience_ to itself, and that each, in its own
specific way, rewards obedience and punishes disobedience. And he gives,
as one example, the case of the most pious and benevolent missionaries
sailing to civilize and Christianize the heathen, but embarking in an
unsound ship, and being drowned _by disobeying a "natural law;"_ as
another, the case of "a child or an aged person, stumbling into the
fire, through mere lack of physical strength to keep out of it;" as
another, the case of "an ignorant child, groping about for something to
eat and drink, and stumbling on a phial of laudanum, drinking it and
dying;" and as another, the case of "a slater slipping from the roof of
a high building, in consequence of a stone of the ridge having given way
as he walked upright along it."[201] In all these cases, the accident or
misfortune which befalls the individual is represented as the
_punishment_ connected with the neglect or transgression of a "natural
law," just as remorse, shame, conviction, and condemnation may be the
punishment for a moral offence. In other words, a child who ignorantly
drinks laudanum is _punished with death_, in the same sense, and for the
same reason, that the murderer is punished with death for shedding the
blood of a fellow-creature; and the poor slater who misses his foot,
and falls, most unwillingly, from a roof or parapet, is _punished with
death_, just as a man would be who threw himself over _with the
intention_ of committing suicide! Surely there is some grave error
here,--an error opposed to the surest dictates of our moral nature, and
one that cannot be glossed over by any apologue, however ingeniously
constructed, to show the evil effects which would follow from a
suspension of the general laws of Nature. For, in the words of Mr.
Scott, it is only where "the law is previously known"--and not only so,
but where the "circumstances which determine the effect might be
foreseen"--that "the pleasures or pains annexed to actions can properly
be termed _rewards and punishments_;" for "these have reference to the
state of mind of the party who is to be rewarded or punished; it is the
intention or disposition of the mind, and not the mere act of the body,
that is ever considered as obedience or disobedience, or thought worthy,
in a moral sense, of either reward or punishment." And as the theory is
thus subversive of all our ideas of moral retribution, so it demands of
man a kind of obedience which it is _impossible_ for him to render,
since _all_ the laws of Nature, and _all_ the states of particular
things at a given time, cannot possibly be known by the ignorant many,
nor even by the philosophic few. The philosopher, not less than the
peasant, may perish through the explosion of a steam engine, or the
unsoundness of a ship, or the casual ignition of his dwelling; and that,
too, without blame or punishment being involved in either case. On Mr.
Combe's theory, it would seem to be necessary that every one should be a
man of science, if he would avoid _sin_ and _punishment_; and yet,
unfortunately, the ablest man of science is not exempt, in the present
state of his knowledge, from the same calamities which befall his less
enlightened, but not less virtuous, neighbors.

These views are strikingly confirmed by the remarks of a writer in "The
Reasoner," who blames Mr. Combe for complicating his argument
unnecessarily and uselessly with some of the truths of Theism, and who
thinks that the doctrine of "natural laws" can only be consistently
maintained on the ground of Atheism. "If the system of Nature," he says,
"be viewed by itself, without any reference to a Divine Author or
all-perfect Creator,--merely as an isolated system of facts,--no
comparison could be made, no reconciliation would be necessary, and the
system of Nature would be regarded as the result of some unknown cause,
a combination of good and evil, and no more to be censured or wondered
at for being what it is, than any single substance or fact in Nature
excites censure or surprise on account of its peculiar constitution....
The assumption of a Supernatural Being as the author and director of the
laws of Nature appears to me to be attended with several mischievous
results. First, you make every infringement of the laws of Nature an
offence against the supposed Divine Legislator, which, to a pious and
conscientious mind, must give rise to distressing remorse.... Again,
under this view, the penalties incurred will often be very unjust,
oppressive, and cruel; as where persons are placed in circumstances that
compel them to violate the laws of Nature, as when they are obliged to
pursue some unwholesome employment which injures their health and
shortens their lives; or where the penalty is incurred by an accident,
as when a person breaks a leg or an arm, or is killed by a fall; or
where a person is materially or fatally injured in endeavoring to save
another person from injury or death. In such cases as these, to
represent the unavoidable pain or death incurred or undergone for an act
of beneficence, as a punishment inflicted for a transgression of the
laws of God the Divine Legislator, is to violate all our notions of
justice and right, to say nothing of goodness or mercy, and to represent
the Divine Being as grossly unjust and cruelly vindictive.... Again, if
all suffering, however unavoidably incurred, is to be regarded as a
punishment from the Divine Legislator, to attempt to alleviate or
remove the suffering thus incurred would be to fly in the face of the
Divine authority, by endeavoring to set aside the punishment it had
inflicted; just as it would be an opposition to the authority of human
laws to rescue a prisoner from custody, or deliver a culprit from

3. We deem it another radical defect in Mr. Combe's theory of "natural
laws," that he represents the _distinct existence and independent action
of these laws_ as "the key to the Divine government," as the one
principle which explains all apparent irregularities, and accounts
satisfactorily for the casualties and calamities of human life. We
cannot doubt, indeed, either the wisdom or the benevolence of that
constitution of things under which we live, nor dispute the value and
importance of those laws according to which the world is ordinarily
governed. We admit that the suspension of any one of these laws, except
perhaps on some signal occasion of miraculous interposition, would go
far to unsettle and derange the existing economy. But "natural
laws"--whether viewed individually or collectively, and whether
considered as acting independently of each other, or as mutually related
and interdependent--cannot afford of themselves any key to the Divine
government, or any solution of the difficulties of Providence. We must
rise to a far higher platform if we would survey the whole scheme of the
Divine administration: we must consider, not merely _the independent
operation_ of the several classes of "natural laws," but also their
_mutual relations_, as distinct but connected parts of one vast system,
in which the "physical and organic" laws are made subordinate and
subservient to the "moral," under the superintendence of that Supreme
Intelligence which makes the things that are "seen and temporal" to
minister to those things which are "unseen and eternal;" we must
carefully discriminate, as Bishop Butler has done, between the mere
"natural government" which is common to man with the inferior and
irresponsible creation, and the higher "moral government" which is
peculiar to intelligent and accountable agents; and we must seek to know
how far--the reality of both being admitted--the former is auxiliary or
subservient to the latter, and whether, on the whole, the system is
fitted to generate that frame of mind, and to inculcate those lessons of
truth, which are appropriate to the condition of man, as a subject of
moral discipline in a state of probation and trial. Nothing short of
this will suffice for the explanation of the Divine government, or for
the satisfaction of the human mind. It is felt to be a mere insult to
the understandings, and a bitter mockery to the feelings, of men, to
talk only of "natural laws," or even of their "independent action" in
such a case, to tell a weeping mother that her child died, and died too
as the transgressor of a wise and salutary "natural law" which
establishes a certain relation between opium and the nervous system:
for, grant that the law is wise and salutary, grant that evil would
result from its abolition, grant even that it acts independently of any
other law, physical or moral, still the profounder question remains,
whether such an event as the death of a tender child, through the
operation of a law of which that child was necessarily ignorant, can
properly be regarded as a punishment inflicted by Divine justice? and
whether a theory of this kind can afford "a key to the government of

Such are some of the radical and incurable defects of Mr. Combe's theory
of "natural laws." We ascribe it to him simply because he has been the
most recent and the most popular expounder of it. But it is not
original, nor in any sense peculiar to him alone. He acknowledges his
obligations in this respect to a manuscript work of Dr. Spurzheim,
entitled, "A Sketch of the Natural Laws of Man;" and he refers, somewhat
incidentally, to Volney's "Law of Nature," published originally as a
Catechism, and afterwards reprinted under the title, "La Loi Naturelle;
_ou, Principes Physiques de la Morale_." The same theory, in substance,
had been broached in the "Systême de la Nature," and _there_ it was
applied in support of the atheistic conclusions of that remarkable
treatise. But it may be said to have been _methodized_ by Volney; and in
his treatise it is exhibited in a form adapted to popular
instruction.[203] There is a striking resemblance between his
speculations and those of Mr. Combe. He, too, acknowledges the existence
of God; but virtually supersedes His Providence by the substitution of
"natural laws." The "law of Nature" is defined as "the constant order by
which _God_ governs the world," and is represented as the most universal
"rule of action." That law is supposed to be a command or a prohibition
to act in certain cases, accompanied with the natural sanction of
_reward and punishment_. After giving several examples of "natural
laws," which are all merely _general facts_ or the generalized results
of experience, he describes man's relation to these laws almost in the
words of Mr. Combe. "Since all these, and similar facts," he says, "are
unchangeable, constant, and regular, there result for man as many true
laws to which he must conform, with the express clause of a _penalty
attached to their infraction_, or of a benefit attached to their
observance; so that if a man shall pretend to see well in the dark, if
he acts in opposition to the course of the seasons or the action of the
elements, if he pretends to live under water without being drowned, or
to touch fire without being burned, or to deprive himself of air without
being suffocated, or to drink poison without being destroyed, he
receives for each of these infractions of the 'natural laws' a corporeal
_punishment_, and one that is proportioned to his offence; while, on
the contrary, if he observes and obeys every one of these laws, in their
exact and regular relations to him, he will preserve his existence, and
make it as happy as it can be."

This code of "natural laws" is then described by Volney as possessing no
fewer than _ten_ peculiar characteristics, which give it a decided
preëminence over every other moral system, whether human or Divine,--as
being _primitive, immediate, universal, invariable, evident, reasonable,
just, peaceful, beneficial_, and alone _sufficient_. But it is so only
when viewed in connection with the miserably low and meagre system of
morals with which it is avowedly associated. For when morals are
described as a mere physical science, founded on man's organization, his
interests and passions,--when the treatise, according to its _second_
title, is professedly an attempt to expound the _physical principles of
morals_,--and when, in pursuance of this plan, all the principles of
Ethics are rigorously reduced to _one_, namely, the principle of
self-preservation, which is enforced, as a duty, by the only sanctions
of pleasure and pain,--it is not wonderful that, _for such an end_, the
"natural laws" might be held sufficient: but it is wonderful that any
mind capable of a moment's reflection should not have perceived that, in
such a system, the cardinal idea of _Deity_ is altogether omitted, or
left unaccounted for, in the case of Man, and that no attempt is made to
explain or to account for anything that is properly _moral_ in the
government of God.

       *       *       *       *       *

On a review of these speculations, it is important to bear in mind that
the existence of natural laws is not necessarily exclusive of a
superintending Providence. Their operation, on the contrary, may afford
some of the strongest proofs of its reality. For, whether considered as
a scheme of _provision_ or as a system of _government_, Divine
Providence rests on a strong body of natural evidence. In the one
aspect, it upholds and preserves all things; in the other, it controls
and overrules all things for the accomplishment of the Divine will.
Considered as a scheme of government, it is either _natural_ or _moral_.
To the former, all created beings without exception are subject; to the
latter, only some orders of being,--such, namely, as are intelligent,
voluntary, and responsible agents. In the case of man, constituted as he
is, the Physical, Organic, Intellectual, and Moral laws are all
combined; and he is subject, therefore, both to a _natural_ government,
which is common to him with all other material and organized beings, and
also to a _moral_ government, which is peculiar to himself as a free and
accountable agent. The _natural_ government of God extends to all his
creatures, and includes man considered simply as one of them; and its
reality is proved, first, by the _laws_ to which all created things are
subject, and which they have no power to alter or resist; secondly, by
the _final causes_ or beneficial ends which are obviously contemplated
in the arrangements of Nature, and the great purposes which are actually
served by them; and, thirdly, by the _necessary dependence_ of all
created things on the will of Him to whom they owe alike the
commencement and the continuance of their being. But the natural
government of God, which extends to _all_ His creatures, does not
exhaust or complete the doctrine of His Providence: it includes also a
scheme of _moral_ government, adapted to the nature, and designed for
the regulation, of His intelligent, voluntary, and responsible subjects.
And the reality of a moral government may be proved, _first_, by the
_moral faculty_, which is a constituent part of human nature, and which
makes man "a law to himself;" _secondly_, by the _essential nature_ of
virtuous and vicious dispositions, as being inherently pleasant or
painful; _thirdly_, by the _natural consequences_ of our actions, which
indicate a sure connection between moral and physical evil; and,
_fourthly_, by the _moral atmosphere_ in which we are placed, as being
members of a community in which the distinction between right and wrong
is universally acknowledged, and applied in the way of approbation or
censure. By such proofs, the Providence of God may be shown to be a
scheme both of _natural_ and _moral_ government,--two aspects of the
same system which are _equally real_, yet _widely different_. But the
distinction between the two, although founded on a real and radical
difference, is not such as to imply that they have no relation to each
other, or no mutual influence, as distinct but connected parts of the
same comprehensive scheme. They are not isolated, but interpenetrating;
they come into contact at many points, and _the natural is made
subordinate and subservient to the moral_. For there is a beautiful
gradation in the order of the established laws of Nature. The physical
laws are made subordinate and subservient to the organic; both the
physical and organic are subservient to the intellectual; the physical,
organic, and intellectual are subservient to the moral; and the
intellectual and moral are subservient to our preparation for the
spiritual and eternal. In the words of Bishop Butler, "The natural and
moral constitution and government of the world are _so connected_ as to
make up together but _one scheme_; and it is highly probable that the
first is formed and carried on merely in _subserviency to the latter_,
as the vegetable world is for the animal, and organized bodies for

Every instance of pleasure or pain arising from the voluntary actions of
men, is a proof that a relation of some kind has been established
between all the distinct, but independent, provinces of Nature; and the
invariable connection between moral and physical evil shows how the
lower are made subservient to the higher departments of the Divine
government. Apart from a scheme of moral discipline, there is no reason
discernible, _à priori_, why pain should be the accompaniment or
consequent of one mode of action rather than another; and the relations
which have been established, in the natural constitution of things,
between sin and misery, affords a strong proof not only of the _reality_
of a moral government, but of the _subordination_ of physical and
organic agencies to its great designs.

This relation between the _natural_ and the _moral_ government of God is
admirably illustrated by Bishop Warburton: "The application of _natural
events_ to _moral government_, in the common course of Providence,
connects the character of Lord and Governor of the intellectual world
with that of Creator and Preserver of the material.... The doctrine of
the _preëstablished harmony_,--the direction of natural events to moral
government,--obviates all irreligious suspicions, and not only satisfies
us that there is but _one_ governor of both systems, but that both
systems are conducted by _one_ scheme of Providence. To form the
constitution of Nature in such a manner that, without controlling or
suspending its laws, it should continue, throughout a long succession of
ages, to produce its physical revolutions as they best contribute to the
preservation and order of its own system, just at those precise periods
of time when their effects, whether salutary or hurtful to many, may
serve as instruments for the government of the moral world: for example,
that a foreign enemy, amidst our intestine broils, should desolate all
the flourishing works of rural industry,--that warring elements, in the
suited order of _natural_ government, should depopulate and tear in
pieces a highly-viced city, just in those very moments when _moral_
government required a warning and example to be held out to a careless
world,--is giving us the noblest as well as the most astonishing idea of
God's goodness and justice.... When He made the world, the free
determinations of the human will, and the necessary effects of laws
physical, were so fitted and accommodated to one another, that a sincere
repentance in the _moral_ world should be sure to avert an impending
desolation in the _natural_, not by any present alteration or suspension
of its established laws, but by originally adjusting all their
operations to all the foreseen circumstances of moral agency."[205]

Viewed in this light, the course of Providence is wonderfully adapted to
the constitution of human nature, since it affords as much _certainty_
in regard to some things as is sufficient to lay a foundation for
forethought, prudence, and diligence in the use of means, and yet leaves
so much remaining _uncertainty_ in regard to other things as should
impress us with a sense of constant _dependence_ on Him "in whom we
live, and move, and have our being." The constitution of Nature and the
course of Providence in the present state seem mainly intended to teach
these _two_ lessons,--first, of _diligence_ in the use of means, and,
secondly, of _dependence_ on a Higher Power: for there is sufficient
_regularity_ in the course of events to encourage human industry in
every department of labor; and yet there is as much _uncertainty_,
arising from the endless complication of causes and the limited range of
human knowledge, as should impress us with a sense of our utter
helplessness. The wisdom of God in the government of the world may be
equally manifested in the _regular order_ which He has established, and
which, within certain limits, man may be able to ascertain and reckon on
as a ground of hopeful activity; and in the _apparent casualty_ and
_inscrutable mystery_ of many things which can neither be divined by
human wisdom, nor controlled by human power. It matters not whether the
remaining uncertainty is supposed to arise from some classes of events
not being subject to regular laws, or from our ignorance of these laws,
and the variety of their manifold combinations. In either case, it is
certain that, in our actual experience, and, so far as we can judge, in
the experience of every creature not possessed of omniscient knowledge,
these two elements are and must be combined,--such a measure of
_certainty_ as should encourage industry in the use of means, and such
a measure of remaining _uncertainty_ as should keep them mindful that
they are not, and never can be, independent of God.



The doctrine of Providence lays a firm foundation for the duty of
Prayer. In the case of all intelligent, moral, and responsible beings,
the mere existence of a Divine government to which they are subject,
would seem to imply an obligation to own and acknowledge it; and this
obligation is best fulfilled by the exercise of prayer, which is a
practical testimony alike to man's _dependence_ and to God's _dominion_.

Prayer, in its widest sense, includes the whole homage which man is
capable of rendering to God as the sole object of religious worship; and
it implies the recognition of all His supreme perfections and
prerogatives as the Creator and Governor of the world. It is usually
described[206] as consisting, first, in "adoration,"--in which we
express our sense of His rightful supremacy and absolute perfection, and
do homage to Him for what He is in himself; secondly, in
"thanksgiving,"--in which we express our sense of gratitude for all His
kindness and care, and do homage to Him for the benefits which He has
bestowed; thirdly, in "confession,"--in which we express our sense of
sin in having transgressed His law, and do homage to Him as our moral
Governor and Judge; and, fourthly, in "petition,"--in which we express
our sense of dependence alike on His providence and grace, and do homage
to Him as the "Father of lights, from whom cometh down every good and
perfect gift." Of these, the _three first_ are so evidently reasonable
and becoming, so necessarily involved in the simplest idea which we can
form of our relations to God and of the obligations which result from
them, that few, if any, of those who admit the existence and providence
of the Supreme Being, will deny that the sentiments themselves are
appropriate to our condition, however they may doubt the necessity or
the duty of giving formal utterance to them in the language of religious
worship. But in regard to the _fourth_, which, if it be not the most
sublime or elevated, is yet the most urgent motive to the exercise of
devotion, many difficulties have been raised and many objections urged,
which do not apply, at least in the same measure, to the other parts of
Prayer, and which, in so far as they prevail with reflecting minds,
would soon lead to the practical neglect of _all_ religious worship. The
practice of offering up "petitions" either for ourselves or others, with
the view of thereby obtaining any benefit, whether of a temporal or
spiritual kind, has been denounced, and even ridiculed, as an
unphilosophical attempt to alter the established course of Nature, or
the preordained sequences of events. The supposition of its "efficacy"
has been represented as a flagrant instance of superstitious ignorance,
worthy only of the dark ages, and even as a presumptuous blasphemy,
derogatory to the unchangeable character of the Supreme. Some have held,
indeed, that while prayer can have no real efficacy either in averting
evil or procuring good, it may nevertheless be both legitimate and
useful, by reason of the wholesome _reflex influence_ which it is fitted
to exert on the mind of the worshipper; and they have recommended the
continuance of the practice on this ground, as if men, once convinced of
its utter inefficacy, _would_ or _could_ continue, with any fervency, to
offer up their requests to God, merely for the sake of impressing their
own minds through the medium of a sort of conscious hypocrisy! We are
told that David Hume, "after hearing a sermon preached by Dr. Leechman,
in which he dwelt on the power of prayer to render the wishes it
expressed more ardent and passionate, remarked with great justice, that
'we can make use of no expression, or even thought, in prayers and
entreaties, which does not imply that these prayers have an influence.'"
This intermediate ground, therefore, is plainly untenable, and we are
shut up to one or other of two alternatives: either there _is_ an
"efficacy" in prayer as a means of averting evil and procuring good,
such as may warrant, and should encourage, us in offering up our
requests unto God; or, there _is no_ such efficacy in it, and no reason
why it should be observed by any of God's intelligent creatures, whether
on earth or in heaven.

The principles which are applicable to the decision of this important
question may be best explained, after adverting briefly to some of the
particular objections which have been urged against the "efficacy of
prayer." Several of these objections evidently proceed on an erroneous
view of the nature and object of prayer. When it is said, for example,
that God, being omniscient, does not need to be informed either of the
wants or the wishes of any of His creatures, the objection involves a
great and important truth,--a truth which was explicitly recognized by
our Lord when He said, "Your heavenly Father knoweth what things ye have
need of before ye ask Him;" but that truth is grievously misapplied when
it is directed to prove that prayer is either superfluous or
ineffectual, since the objection virtually assumes that the object of
prayer is _to inform God of what He did not know before_, and that His
omniscience is of itself sufficient to show that prayer from men or
angels must needs be unavailing. When it is said, _again_, that God
being immutable, His will cannot be affected or altered by the
"petitions" of His creatures, this objection, like the former one,
involves a great and important truth,--a truth which is also explicitly
recognized in Scripture when it is said that "He is without variableness
or the least shadow of turning;" but this truth, too, is grievously
misapplied when it is directed to prove that there can be no efficacy in
prayer, since it might as well be said that the Divine dispensations
must be invariably the same whatever may be the conduct of His creatures
_in other respects_, as that they must be the same whether men do or do
not pray; or, that His procedure as a Moral Governor has no reference
whatever either to the character or conduct of his subjects. But, in the
words of Dr. Price, "God's unchangeableness, when considered in relation
to the exertion of His attributes in the government of the world,
consists, not in always acting in the same manner however cases and
circumstances alter, but in always doing what is right, and varying His
conduct according to the various actions, characters and dispositions of
beings. If, then, prayer makes an alteration in the case of the
suppliant, as being the discharge of an indispensable duty, what would
in truth infer _changeableness_ in Him would be, not His regarding and
answering it, but His _not_ doing this."[207] When it is said, _again_,
that there can be no "efficacy in prayer," because there is an
established constitution and regular course of Nature, by which all
events, whether prosperous or adverse, are invariably determined, and
which cannot be altered or modified without _a miracle_, this objection,
like each of the two former, involves an important truth,--a truth which
is also explicitly recognized in Scripture when it speaks of "the
ordinances of the heavens and the earth," and of the peculiar laws and
properties of all created things; but this truth is also grievously
misapplied when it is directed to prove that God's will has no efficient
control over natural events, or that He has no agencies at His disposal
by which he can accomplish the desires of them that seek Him. In all
these objections there is an apparent truth, but there is also a latent
error; and the false conclusion is founded on an erroneous supposition
in regard to the nature and object of prayer.

For this reason, we shall endeavor to separate the truth from the error,
and to lay down a few positions which may be established both by reason
and Scripture, and which will be sufficient to show that the doctrine
which affirms the efficacy of prayer is not only credible, but true.

1. Prayer, in the restricted sense in which we now speak of it, as
denoting "petition" or "supplication," consists in offering up "the
desires of the heart to God for things agreeable to His will." It is not
a mere formal, outward homage, such as might be rendered by words, or
ceremonies; it is a spiritual service, in which the mind and heart of
man come into immediate converse with God Himself. It is offered to Him
personally, as to the invisible but ever-present "Searcher of hearts,"
who "hears the _desire_ of the humble," and whose "ear is attentive to
the voice of their supplications." This implies the recognition of His
omnipresence and omniscience, but these perfections of His nature do not
supersede the expression of our desires in prayer, just because prayer
is designed, not to increase His knowledge, but to declare our sense of
dependence on His will, and to procure His grace to help us in every
time of need. Our petitions, too, are always bounded within certain
limits, and subject to at least one indispensable condition; they are
offered only "for things agreeable to His will;" and when our own will
is thus, in the very act of prayer, expressly subordinated to that which
is alone unerring and supreme, we acknowledge at once His rightful
sovereignty and our dutiful subjection, and we are not justly chargeable
with the presumption of dictating to God the course of procedure which
He should pursue towards us. We are protected, too, against the evils
which our own _errors in prayer_ might otherwise entail on us, for "we
know not what things to pray for as we ought;" and we have an infallible
security that, in the best and highest sense,--that which is most in
accordance with our real welfare,--our prayers _must_ be answered,
since our wills are resolved into His will; and His will, being
omnipotent, cannot be resisted or frustrated in any of its designs. Our
assurance of the certain efficacy of our prayers is so much the greater,
in proportion as we have reason to believe that the things for which we
pray are agreeable to His will; and hence we are more confident in
asking spiritual than temporal gifts; for the former we know to be
always agreeable to His will and conducive to our own welfare, while the
latter may, or may not, be good for us in our present circumstances, and
must be left at the sovereign disposal of Him who knows what is in man,
and what is best for each of His children.

2. Considering the relation in which we stand to God as His creatures
and subjects, it is natural, fit, and proper that _we_ should make known
our requests to Him, and supplicate the aids both of His providence and
grace; and if it be _our duty_ to pray, it is reasonable to believe that
God will have some respect to our prayers in His methods of dealing with
us; in other words, that, as a righteous moral governor, he will make a
difference between the godly and the ungodly, the men who do, and the
men who do not, pray.

In this position it is assumed that there are certain relations, natural
or revealed, subsisting betwixt us and God, in virtue of which it is our
duty to acknowledge His dominion and our dependence, by supplicating the
aids of His providence and grace. That such relations do subsist between
God and man, is evinced alike by the light of Nature and of Revelation;
and they cannot be discerned or realized without immediately suggesting
the idea of certain corresponding obligations and duties. Every one
whose conscience has not been utterly seared must instinctively feel the
force of that appeal, "If I be a Father, where is mine honor? and if I
be a Master, where is my fear?" For, considering God in the very
simplest aspect of His character as the Creator and Governor of the
world, He stands related to us as the Author and Preserver of our
being, as our rightful Proprietor and constant Benefactor, as our
supreme Lawgiver, Governor, and Judge; and these _natural relations_,
apart altogether from the _supernatural_ which are revealed in
Scripture, are sufficient to lay a solid groundwork for "the duty of
prayer" in the case of every intelligent being who is capable of knowing
God, and acknowledging his dependence on the Divine will. In such a
case, prayer is felt to be a natural, fit, and becoming expression of
what is known to be true, and what _ought_, as a matter of duty, to be
practically avowed. Now, this is the grand design of prayer; and in its
real design, when that is rightly apprehended, it finds its noblest
vindication. The object of prayer is, neither to _inform_ God, as if he
were not omniscient, nor to alter His eternal purposes, as if He were
not unchangeable, nor to unsettle the established course of Nature, as
if He were not "a God of order;" but simply to acknowledge His
_dominion_ and our _dependence_, and to obtain from Him, in the way of
His own appointment, the blessings of which we stand in need.

It is not unreasonable to believe that God, as the Governor of the
world, will have some regard to the dispositions and actions of His
responsible creatures, as a reason for dealing differently with those
who own, and those who disown, His supremacy; and that He may require
the use of certain means, such as the exercise of prayer, with the view
of our obtaining from Him, in a way the most beneficial to ourselves,
the blessings, whether temporal or spiritual, of which we stand in need.
For if we really be the creatures of God, and, as such, dependent on His
providential bounty, and subject to His righteous government, it is
self-evidently natural and right that we should, as intelligent and
responsible beings, acknowledge His supreme dominion and our absolute
dependence by supplicating the aids both of His providence and grace.
This is _our duty_, considering the relations which He sustains towards
us; and if it be fit and proper that we should pray to God, if it be,
in our circumstances, a duty which we owe to Him, then it is most
reasonable to believe that it is equally fit and proper in God to have
some respect to our prayers, and to deal with us differently according
as we either observe or neglect this religious duty.

Prayer may be regarded in one or other of two distinct aspects: either
as _a duty_, the observance or neglect of which must be followed, under
a system of moral government, with different results; or simply as _a
means_, the use of which is productive of certain effects which are made
to depend on this special instrumentality. And in either view, its
"efficacy" may be affirmed on the same grounds on which we are wont to
vindicate the use of _all other means_, and to enforce the observance of
_all other duties_, in connection with the system of the Divine

3. The efficacy of prayer, so far from being inconsistent with, is
founded on, the immutability of the Divine purposes and the faithfulness
of the Divine promises. God's purposes are justly held, in all other
cases, to include the _means_ as well as the _ends_; and they are often
fulfilled through the instrumentality of "second causes." His purpose to
provide for the wants of man and beast has reference not merely to the
harvest which is the result, but also to the agricultural labor by
which, instrumentally, the harvest is prepared. May not "prayer" be also
_a means_ ordained by God in the original constitution of the world, a
means towards certain ends which are made dependent on its use? If it be
such a means, then its "efficacy" is established, in the only sense in
which we are concerned to contend for it; while it is shown to be _no
more inconsistent_ with the immutability of the Divine purposes, than
any other system of _means or instruments_ that may be employed as
subordinate agencies in the government of the world. This important view
is strikingly illustrated in Scripture. For some of the _purposes_ of
God, which might have been undiscoverable in the mere light of Nature,
are there explicitly declared; nay, they are thrown into the form of
express _promises_, to which the Divine faithfulness is solemnly
pledged; and yet the exercise of prayer, so far from being superseded by
these promises, is rather stimulated and encouraged by them; and the
believer pleads with increased fervor and confidence when he simply
converts _God's promises into his own petitions_. He feels that in doing
so he is taking God at his word; and that his own prayer, in so far as
it is warranted by His promise, cannot be ineffectual any more than
God's faithfulness can fail.

Thus Daniel "understood by books the number of the years whereof the
word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish
_seventy_ years in the desolation of Jerusalem." He knew the Lord's
promise, and that the time for its fulfilment was at hand; yet so far
from regarding either the immutability of the Divine _purpose_, or even
the infallible certainty of the Divine _promise_, as a reason for
neglecting prayer, as if that exercise were superfluous or vain, he was
stimulated and encouraged to pray just because "he knew the word of the
Lord."--"And I set my face," he says, "unto the Lord God, to seek by
prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes;" and I
prayed unto the Lord my God, and said, "O Lord! hear; O Lord! forgive; O
Lord! hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God!"[208]
Thus, _again_, when the Lord gave certain great and precious promises to
His ancient people, assuring them that "He would sprinkle clean water
upon them, and give them a new heart and a right spirit," it is added,
"I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for
them."[209] Thus, _again_, when the Saviour himself gave to His
disciples that promise, which is emphatically called "the promise of
the Father," assuring them that they should be "baptized with the Holy
Ghost not many days hence," and directing them to "wait at Jerusalem
until they should be endued with power from above," the apostles, so far
from regarding that "promise" as superseding the exercise of "prayer,"
betook themselves immediately to an upper room, and "all continued with
one accord in prayer and supplication;" and, at the appointed time,
God's promise was fulfilled, and their prayer answered, when "they were
all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as
the Spirit gave them utterance." These examples are abundantly
sufficient to show that prayer, so far from being inconsistent with, is
founded on, the immutability of the Divine _purposes_, and the
faithfulness of the Divine _promises_.

4. Our next position is, that _the method_ in which God answers the
prayers of His people may be, in many respects, mysterious or even
inscrutable; but no objection to "the efficacy of prayer," which is
founded on our ignorance of His infinite resources, can have any weight,
especially when there are _several hypothetical solutions_, any one of
which is sufficient to neutralize its force.

An omnipresent, omniscient, and almighty Being, presiding over the
affairs of His own world, as the author, upholder, and governor of all
things, may well be conceived to have infinite resources at His
command,--such as we can never fully estimate,--by which he can give
effect to prayer in ways that may be to us inscrutable. But our
ignorance of the _mode_ is no reason for doubting the _reality_ of His
interposition in answer to prayer; and even if we were unable to decide
on the comparative merits of the various explanations of it which have
been proposed, the mere fact that there are several solutions, at once
conceivable and credible, any one of which may be sufficient, as a
hypothetical explanation, to neutralize every adverse presumption,
should be held tantamount to a proof that no valid or conclusive
objection can be urged against it. Dr. Chalmers has frequently
illustrated the legitimate and important uses of "hypothetical
solutions" in Theology; and has conclusively shown that even where they
leave us at a loss to determine which of various methods of solving a
difficulty is the truest or the best, they yet serve a great purpose, if
they merely neutralize an objection, by showing that the difficulty in
question _might_ be satisfactorily accounted for, were our knowledge
more extensive or more precise.[210] Now, with regard to "the efficacy
of prayer," there are _four_ distinct solutions, or rather _four_
different methods of disposing of the difficulty, any one of which is
sufficient to vindicate the claims of the doctrine on our faith. We
shall not discuss the respective merits of these various solutions in
detail, but shall merely state them, with the view of showing that there
are several methods of accounting for "the efficacy of prayer" in
perfect consistency with the established order of Nature.

The first is the theory of those who hold that there _is the same
relation between prayer and the answer to prayer_ as between _cause and
effect in any other sequence of Nature_. Prayer is supposed to be the
cause, and the answer the effect; and this by an invariable law,
established in the original constitution, and manifested in the uniform
course, of the world. To this solution Dr. Chalmers seems to refer when
he says, that "the doctrine of the efficacy of prayer but introduces _a
new sequence_ to the notice of the mind," that "it may add another law
of Nature to those which have been formerly observed," and that "the
general truth may be preserved, that the same result always follows in
the same circumstances, although it should be discovered that prayer is
one of those influential circumstances by which the result is liable to
be modified."[211] Now, if it be meant merely to affirm that, in the
administration of His providential government, God has respect to the
prayers of men as a consideration which affects their relation to Him
and His treatment of them, and that this rule is as invariable as any
other law of Nature, the principle that is involved in this solution may
be admitted as sound and valid; but if it be further meant, that prayer
and the answer to prayer are _in all respects_ similar to any other
instance of cause and effect, it must be remembered that the answer is
not the effect of the prayer, at least directly and immediately, but the
effect of the Divine will; and then the question suggested by Dr.
M'Cosh--whether _causality_ can properly be ascribed to our prayers with
reference to the Divine will?--would claim our serious consideration.
But in the former sense, as implying nothing more than that, in the
original constitution and the ordinary course of Providence, the same
effect is given to our prayers as to _any other moral cause or
condition_, it seems to be exempt from all reasonable objection, and to
afford a sufficient explanation of the difficulty.

The second "hypothetical solution" is that of those who hold that while
God, in answering the prayers of men, does not ordinarily disturb the
known or discoverable sequences of the natural world, yet His
interference may be alike real and efficacious though it should take
place at a point in the series of natural causes far removed beyond the
limits of our experience and observation; and thus "the answer to prayer
may be effectually given without any infringement on the known
regularities of Nature." Dr. Chalmers adverts to this second solution in
replying to an objection which might possibly be raised against the
first, namely, that "we see no evidence of the constancy of visible
nature giving way to that invisible agency, the interposition of which
it is the express object of prayer to obtain;" and he suggests that, in
the vast scale of natural sequences, which constitute one connected
chain, the responsive touch from the finger of the Almighty may be
given "either at a higher or a lower place in the progression," and
that if it be supposed to be "given far enough back," it might originate
a new sequence, but without doing violence to any ascertained law, since
it occurs beyond the reach of our experience and observation. This
solution we hold to be not so much an effective argument in favor of the
efficacy of prayer, as a conclusive answer to a particular objection
against it. It is sufficient to show that, with our very limited
knowledge, we act presumptuously in deciding against the possibility of
an answer to prayer such as _may_ leave the established course of Nature
unaltered; but there is no necessity, and no reason, for supposing that
the responsive touch _can only_ be given at a point to which our
knowledge does not extend, or that, were our knowledge extended, we
would have less difficulty in admitting it _there_, than in holding it
to be possible at any lower term in the scale of sequences.

The third "hypothetical solution" is that of those who hold that a
Divine answer to prayer may be conveyed through _the ministry of
angels_, or the agency of intelligent, voluntary, and active beings,
employed by God, in subordination to His Providence, for the
accomplishment of His great designs. The existence of such an order, or
rather hierarchy, of created intelligences is clearly revealed in
Scripture; and it is rendered credible, or even probable, by _the
analogy of Nature_, since we observe on earth a regular gradation of
animal life from the insect up to man, and we have no reason to suppose
that the gradation is suddenly arrested just at the point where the
animal and the spiritual are combined. But not only their existence,
their _active agency_ also, as "ministers fulfilling His will," as
"ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs
of salvation," is explicitly and frequently declared as well as
exemplified in Scripture; and this, too, would be, on the supposition of
their existence, in strict accordance with _the analogy of Nature_,
which shows that the lower orders of being are placed under the care
and control of the higher. Mr. Boyle, accordingly, makes frequent
reference, in his Theological treatises, to _the ministry of angels_, as
subordinate agents, through whose instrumentality many of the designs of
Providence may be carried into effect; and President Edwards enlarges on
the same theme.[212]

The fourth "hypothetical solution" is that of those who hold that God
has so arranged His Providence from the beginning as to provide for
particular events as well as for general results, and especially to
provide an answer to the prayers of His intelligent creatures. This
solution is more general than any of the _three_ former, and may even be
comprehensive of them all. It regards prayer as an element which was
taken into account at the original constitution of the world, and for
which an answer was provided, as the result of natural laws or of
angelic agency, employed for this express end by the omniscient
foreknowledge and wisdom of God. It is the solution that has obtained
the sanction of some of the highest names in Science and Theology.

"I begin," says Euler, "with considering an objection which almost all
the Philosophical Systems have started against prayer. Religion
prescribes this as our duty, with an assurance that God will hear and
answer our vows and prayers, provided they are conformable to the
precepts which He hath given us. Philosophy, on the other hand,
instructs us that all events take place in strict conformity to the
course of Nature, established from the beginning, and that our prayers
can effect no change whatever, unless we pretend to expect that God
should be continually working miracles in compliance with our prayers.
This objection has the greater weight, that Religion itself teaches the
doctrine of God's having established the course of all events, and that
nothing can come to pass but what God foresaw from all eternity. Is it
credible, say the objectors, that God should think of altering this
settled course, in compliance with any prayers which men might address
to Him? But I remark, _first_, that when God established the course of
the universe, and arranged all the events that must come to pass in it,
He paid attention to _all the circumstances_ which should accompany each
event, and, particularly, to _the dispositions, desires, and prayers_ of
every intelligent being; and that the arrangement of all events was
disposed _in perfect harmony_ with all these circumstances. When,
therefore, a man addresses to God a prayer worthy to be heard, that
prayer was already heard from all eternity, and the Father of mercies
arranged the world expressly in favor of that prayer, so that the
accomplishment should be a consequence of the natural course of events.
It is thus that God answers the prayers of men without working a

"It is not impossible," says Dr. Wollaston, "that such laws of Nature,
and such a series of causes and effects, may be originally designed that
not only general provisions may be made for the several species of
beings, but even _particular cases_, at least many of them, may also be
provided for, without innovations or alterations in the course of
Nature. It is true this amounts to a prodigious scheme, in which all
things to come are, as it were, comprehended under one view, estimated
and laid together: but when I consider what a mass of wonders the
universe is in other regards, what a Being God is, incomprehensibly
great and perfect, that He cannot be ignorant of anything, no not of the
future wants and deportments of particular men, and that all things
which derive from Him, as their First Cause, must do this so as to be
consistent with one another, and in such a manner as to make one compact
system, befitting so great an Author; when I consider this, I cannot
deny such an adjustment of things to be within His power. The order of
events, proceeding from the settlement of Nature, may be as compatible
with the due and reasonable success of _my endeavors and prayers_ (as
inconsiderable a part of the world as I am) as with any other thing or
phenomena how great soever.... And thus the _prayers_ which good men
offer to the all-knowing God, and the _neglects_ of others, may find
fitting effects, already _forecasted_ in the course of Nature, which
possibly may be extended to the _labors_ of men and their _behavior_ in

"If ever there was a future event," says Dr. Gordon, "which might have
been reckoned on with absolute certainty, and one, therefore, in the
accomplishment of which it might appear that _prayer_ could have no room
or efficacy, it was just the restoration of the Jewish captives to the
land and city of their fathers. And yet, so far from supposing that
there was no place for prayer to occupy, among the various means that
were employed to bring about that event, it was just his firm belief in
the nearness and certainty of it that set Daniel upon fervent and
persevering supplications for its accomplishment.... With regard to the
rank which Daniel's prayer occupied among the various means or agencies
that were to be employed in bringing about the object of it, he had good
reason to believe that it was neither without a definite place, nor in
itself devoid of efficacy.... He had been honored to vindicate the power
and assert the supremacy of the Lord God of Israel; by the wisdom of his
counsels and the weight of his personal character, he had paved the way
for that decision in favor of the people of God to which the King of
Persia was soon to be brought; and the whole business of his active and
most laborious life was made to bear on the interests and the liberation
of his afflicted brethren. And if God had thus assigned to _the outward
actions_ of His servant an important place in carrying into effect His
thoughts of peace towards his penitent people, is it conceivable that He
had no place in that scheme for _the holy and spiritual_ efforts of the
same servant? or that the aspirations of a sanctified spirit, the
travailing of a soul intent upon the accomplishment of the Divine will
and the manifestation of the Divine glory, should be less efficient or
less essential in the execution of the Divine counsels, than the outward
and ordinary agency of human actions? The whole tenor and the most
explicit declarations of Scripture stand opposed to such a supposition;
nor can I understand how a devout mind should have any difficulty in
conceiving that it must be so. The agency of _prayer_ is, indeed, a less
obvious and palpable thing than that outward coöperation whereby mankind
are rendered subservient to the accomplishment of the Divine purposes.
But is it not an agency of an unspeakably loftier character? Is it not
the coöperation of an immortal spirit, bearing the impress of the Divine
image, and at the moment acting in unison with the Divine will? Is it
not befitting the character of God to set upon that coöperation a
special mark of His holy approbation, by assigning to it a more elevated
place among the secondary causes which He is pleased to employ? And must
there not be provision made, therefore, in the general principles of His
administration, for fulfilling the special promise of His word, 'The
Lord is nigh to all that call upon Him, to all that call upon him in

"We should blush," says Bishop Warburton, "to be thought so uninstructed
in the nature of _prayer_, as to fancy that it can work any temporary
change in the dispositions of the Deity, who is 'the same yesterday,
to-day, and forever.' Yet we are not ashamed to maintain that God, _in
the chain of causes and effects_, which not only sustains each system,
but connects them all with one another, hath so wonderfully contrived,
that the temporary endeavors of pious men shall procure good and avert
evil, by means of that 'preëstablished harmony' which He hath willed to
exist between _moral actions_ and _natural events_."

    "But should some frigid skeptic, therefore, dare
    To doubt the all-prevailing power of prayer;
    As if 'twere ours, with impious zeal, to try
    To shake the purposes of Deity;
    Pause, cold philosopher, nor snatch away
    The last, the best, the wretched's surest stay.
    Look round on life, and trace its checkered plan,
    The griefs, the joys, the hopes, the fears of man;
    Tell me, if each deliverance, each success,
    Each transient golden dream of happiness,
    Each palm that genius in the race acquires,
    Each thrilling rapture virtuous pride inspires,
    Tell me, if each and all were not combined
    In the great purpose of the Eternal Mind?

           *       *       *       *       *

    Thus while we humbly own the vast decree,
    Formed in the bosom of Eternity,
    And know all secondary causes tend
    Each to contribute to one mighty end;
    Yet while these causes firmly fixed remain--
    Links quite unbroken in the endless chain,
    So that could one be snapped, the whole must fail,
    And wide confusion o'er the world prevail;
    Why may not our petitions, which arise
    In humble adoration to the skies,
    Be foreordained the causes, whence shall flow
    Our purest pleasures in this vale of woe?
    Not that they move the purpose that hath stood
    By time unchanged, immeasurably good,
    _But that the event and prayer alike may be
    United objects of the same decree._"[216]

On the whole, we feel ourselves warranted, and even constrained, to
conclude that the theory of "government by natural law" is defective in
so far as it excludes the superintendence and control of God over all
the events of human life, and that neither the existence of second
causes nor the operation of physical laws should diminish our confidence
in the care of Providence and the efficacy of Prayer.


[181] CICERO, "De Naturâ Deorum," lib. I. c. 44.

[182] HOWE, "Works," I. 104. CUDWORTH, "Intellectual System," I. 120,

[183] M. COMTE, "Cours," VI. 149, 247, 295. SPINOZA, "Tractatus
Theol.-politicus," pp. 57, 102, 122, 144, 150, 319.

[184] DR. CHANNING, "Memoirs," II. 439. ROBT. BOYLE, "Free Inquiry into
the Notion of Nature," p. 7.

[185] PROFESSOR SEDGWICK, "Discourse," fifth edition, p. CLIII. MR.
COMBE, "Constitution of Man," p. 417.

[186] Proverbs 6: 27; Psalm 68: 2; 83: 14; James 3: 12; Matthew 7: 16;
Proverbs 8: 29; Job 38: 11, 33; Psalm 119: 90; Jeremiah 31: 35; 33: 25.

[187] DR. M'COSH, "On the Divine Government," pp. 126, 129, 149.

[188] "Westminster Confession," c. v., § II., III.

[189] M. COMTE, "Cours," IV. 663, 669; V. 259, 277; VI. 702, 780. J. S.
MILL, "Logic," I. 397, 417, 422; II. 109, 471. LEWES, "Biographical
History," I. 14; III. 55; IV. 9, 42.

[190] DR. REID, "Essays," III. 44. DR. M'COSH, "Divine Government," 88,
91, 111, 114.

[191] SIR JOHN HERSCHELL, "Address to the British Association," 1845.

[192] DR. THOS. BROWN, "Essay on Cause and Effect," p. 86. DR. THOS.
REID, "Essays," I. 136. PIERRE POIRET, "De Deo, Anima, et Malo."

[193] DR. THOMAS BROWN, "Essay on Cause and Effect," pp. 74, 83, 93,
108, 191.


[195] "Reasoner," XII. 21, 23.

[196] HOLYOAKE, "Grant and Holyoake's Discussion," p. 40.

[197] GEORGE COMBE, "Constitution of Man," pp. 150, 155, 163, 165, 234,
343, 358.

[198] MR. COMBE, "Constitution of Man," VI., IX., 25, 39, 41.

[199] MR. SCOTT, "Harmony of Phrenology with Scripture," pp. 82, 97.

[200] CITIZEN KENNEDY, "Nature and Revelation Harmonious," pp. 70, 122,
124, 131.

[201] MR. COMBE, "Constitution of Man," pp. 25, 53, 306, 364.

[202] F. B. BARTON, "The Reasoner," XI. 24, 373.

[203] VOLNEY, "La Loi Naturelle," which has been translated, and is
usually appended to his "Ruins of Empires."

[204] BUTLER'S "Analogy," p. 1. c. 7.

[205] WARBURTON'S "Works," X. p. 8.

[206] DR. PRICE'S "Dissertations," p. 198.

[207] DR. PRICE, "Dissertations," pp. 208, 219.

[208] Daniel 9: 2, 19.

[209] Ezekiel 36: 37.

[210] DR. CHALMERS, "Works," II. 286.

[211] Ibid., 325.

[212] HON. ROB. BOYLE, "Theolog. Works," II. 96, III. 230. PRESIDENT
EDWARDS, "Works," X. 1.

[213] EULER, "Letters to a German Princess," I. 271.

[214] DR. WOLLASTON, "Religion of Nature," p. 103.

[215] DR. ROBT. GORDON, "Sermons," p. 369.

[216] It is with melancholy pleasure that the author recalls and
reproduces, after an interval of thirty years, the lines of his early
college companion,--WILLIAM FRIEND DURANT,--a young man of high promise,
removed, like his distinguished fellow-student, ROBERT POLLOCK, by what
might seem a premature death, but for the prospect of immortality.



When we survey the actual course of God's Providence, by which the
eternal purposes of the Divine Mind are carried into effect, we discern
immediately a marked difference between _two great classes of events_.
The one comprehends a multitude of events which are so regular, stable,
and constant, that we feel ourselves warranted in reckoning on their
invariable recurrence, in the same circumstances in which they have been
observed; they seem to be governed by an unchangeable, or at least an
established law. The other comprehends a different set of events, which
are so irregular and variable that they occur quite unexpectedly, and
cannot be reduced to any rule of rational computation; they
appear,--perhaps from our ignorance,--to be purely accidental or

In exact accordance with this difference between the two great classes
of Providential events, there is a similar difference in our _internal
views or sentiments_ in regard to them. We are conscious of two totally
dissimilar feelings in contemplating them respectively. We have a
feeling of certainty, confidence, or assurance in regard to the one; and
a feeling of uncertainty, anxiety, and helplessness in regard to the
other; while for an intermediate class of events, there is also an
intermediate state of mind, equally removed from entire certainty and
absolute doubt, arising from the various degrees of _probability_ that
may seem to belong to them. These are at once natural and legitimate
sentiments in the circumstances in which we are placed; for
unquestionably there is much in these circumstances that is fitted to
produce and cherish them all; and when they are combined,--especially
when they are duly proportioned, in the case of any individual, they
induce a habit or frame of mind most favorable to the recognition of
God's Providence, and most conducive to our welfare, by impressing us
with a sense both of our _dependence_ on His supreme will, and of our
_duty to be diligent_ in the use of all appointed means. But when
_either_ of the two classes of events is exclusively considered, or the
sentiments appropriate to them inordinately cherished, there will be a
tendency, in the absence of an enlightened belief in Providence, towards
one or other of two opposite extremes:--the extreme, on the one hand, of
resolving all events into results of physical agencies and mechanical
laws, acting with the blind force of "destiny," and leaving no room for
the interposition of an intelligent Moral Ruler; and the extreme, on the
other hand, of ascribing all events to accidental or fortuitous
influences, equally exempt from His control. The _former_ is the theory
of "Fate," the _latter_ is the theory of "Chance;" and both are equally
opposed to the doctrine which affirms the eternal purpose and the actual
providence of an omniscient and all-controlling Mind.

It matters little, with reference to our present purpose, whether or not
every department of Nature be supposed to be equally subject to "natural
laws;" for even were it so, still if these laws were either in part
unknown and undiscoverable by us, or so related to each other that the
results of their manifold possible combinations could not be calculated
or reckoned on by human wisdom or foresight, ample room would be left
for the exercise of _diligence_ within the limits of our ascertained
knowledge, and yet for a sense of _dependence_ on a power which we feel
ourselves unable either to comprehend or control. On the ground of
analogy, we think it highly probable that every department of Nature
_is_ subject to regular and stable laws; and on the same ground we may
anticipate that, in the progressive advance of human knowledge, many new
fields will yet be conquered, and added to the domain of Science. But
suppose every law were discovered,--suppose, even, that every individual
event should be shown to depend on some natural cause, there would still
remain at least _two_ considerations which should remind us of our
_dependence_. The first is our ignorance of the whole combination of
causes which may at any time be brought into action, and of the results
which may flow from them in circumstances such as we can neither foresee
nor provide against. The second is our ignorance, equally unavoidable
and profound, of the intelligent and voluntary agencies which may be at
work, modifying, disposing, and directing that combination of causes, so
as to accomplish the purposes of the Omniscient Mind. Our want of
knowledge in either case is a reason for uncertainty; and our
uncertainty in regard to events in which we may be deeply concerned is
fitted to teach us our dependence on a higher Power. Let it not be
thought, however, that our argument for God's Providence is drawn merely
from man's _ignorance_, or that its strength must diminish in proportion
as his knowledge of Nature is extended; on the contrary, it rests on the
assumption that _man knows enough to be aware that he cannot know all_,
and that as long as he is not omniscient, he must be dependent on Him
who alone "knows the end from the beginning," and "who ruleth among the
armies of heaven" as well as "among the inhabitants of this earth."

It is in the invariable combination and marvellous mutual adjustment of
these two elements,--the regular and the variable, the constant and the
casual, the certain and the uncertain,--that we best discern the wisdom
of that vast scheme of Providence, which is designed at once to secure
our _diligence in the use of means_, and to impress us with a sense of
our _dependence on a higher Power_. And the same remark may be equally
applicable, _mutatis mutandis_, to the revealed constitution of things,
since Scripture itself exhibits certain definite truths surrounded with
a margin of mystery like "lights shining in a dark place;" and while it
prescribes and encourages diligence in the use of means, teaches us at
the same time our dependence on the Divine blessing which alone can
render our efforts effectual. Both elements, therefore, must be taken
into account and kept steadily in view, if we would form a comprehensive
conception of the method of the Divine government, or a correct estimate
of the wisdom with which it is adapted to the case of created and
dependent, but intelligent, active, and responsible beings. But when the
one is either dissevered from the other, or viewed apart and exclusively
by itself, when the mind dwells on either, to the neglect of what is
equally a part of the same comprehensive scheme, then we are in danger
of adopting a partial and one-sided view of Providence, and of lapsing
into one or other of the opposite extremes,--the theory of "Chance" or
the theory of "Fate."

A few remarks on each of these theories may be neither unseasonable nor
useless, if they serve to illustrate the different kinds of Atheism
which have sprung from them, and to place in a clear and strong light
the radical difference which subsists between both, and the doctrine of
Providence, as it is taught and exemplified in Scripture.

1. The theory of "Chance," which was once the stronghold of Atheism, is
now all but abandoned by speculative thinkers, and exists only, if at
all, in the vague beliefs of uneducated and unreflecting men. This
result has been brought about, not so much by the Metaphysical or even
the Theological considerations which were urged against the theory, as
by the steady advance of Science, and the slow but progressive growth of
a belief in "law" and "order" as existing in every department of
Nature. It has been undeniably the effect of scientific inquiry to
banish the idea of Chance, at least from as much of the domain as has
been successfully explored, and to afford a strong presumption that the
same result would follow were our researches extended beyond the limits
within which they are yet confined. To this extent there is truth in the
reasonings of M. Comte as applied to _Chance_, while they have no
validity or value as applied to _Providence_; and we deem it a noble
tribute to Science when it can be said of her with truth, that she has
been an effective auxiliary to Religion in overthrowing the once vaunted
empire of that blind power.

At one time some ascribed all the works both of Creation and Providence
to Chance, and spoke of a fortuitous concourse of _atoms_ in the one
case, and of a fortuitous concurrence of _events_ in the other. The
Atomic theory, which, as a mere physiological hypothesis, is far from
being necessarily Atheistic, and which has been adopted and defended by
such writers as Gassendus and Dr. Goode,[217] was applied by Epicurus
and Lucretius to account for the fortuitous origin of existing beings,
and also for the fortuitous course of human affairs. No one now, in the
present advanced state of science, would seriously propose to account
either for the creation of the world, or for the events of the world's
history, by ascribing them to the operation of Chance; the current is
flowing in another direction; it has set in, like a returning tide,
towards the universal recognition of "general laws" and "natural
causes," such as, from their invariable regularity and uniformity, are
utterly exclusive of everything like chance or accident in any
department of Nature. Instead of ascribing the creation of the world to
a fortuitous concourse of atoms, modern speculation would refer it to "a
law of development" such as is able of itself to insure the production
of astral systems in the firmament, and also of vegetable and animal
races on the earth, without any direct or immediate interposition of a
higher power; and instead of ascribing the events of history and the
"progress" of humanity to a fortuitous or accidental origin, modern
speculation would refer them to "a law of social or historical
development," such as makes every succeeding state the natural, and,
indeed, necessary product of a prior one, and places the whole order of
sequences--whether physical, moral, political, or religious--under the
government of "natural law," as contradistinguished from that of a
"supernatural will." There is thus a manifest tendency to resile from
the old theory of Chance, and to take refuge in the new asylum of Law,
Order, or Destiny. There is, apparently, a wide difference between the
two contrasted systems; and yet the difference may be, after all, more
seeming than real: for both the old doctrine of "chance" and the new
theory of "development" are compelled to assume certain conditions or
qualities as belonging to the primordial elements of matter, without
which it is felt that neither Chance nor Fate can afford a satisfactory
account of the works either of Creation or Providence. The one party
spoke more of "Chance," the other speaks more of "Law;" but both were
compelled to feel that neither Chance nor Law could _of themselves_
account for the established order of Nature, without presupposing
certain conditions, adjustments, and dispositions of matter, such as
could only be satisfactorily explained by ascribing them to a wise,
foreseeing, and designing Mind.

In the present state of philosophical speculation, which evinces so
strong a tendency to reduce everything to the dominion of "Law," it may
seem unnecessary to refer to the doctrine of "Chance" at all; but
believing as we do that there are, and ever must be, certain events in
the course of life, and certain facts in the complex experience of man,
which will irresistibly suggest the idea of it, even where the doctrine
is theoretically disowned, we think it right to lay down a distinct and
definite position on this subject, such as may serve, if duly
established, at once to neutralize whatever is false and noxious in the
doctrine of Chance, and at the same time to preserve whatever is true
and wholesome in it, as having a tendency to illustrate the actual
scheme of Divine Providence. And the position which we are disposed to
state and prepared to establish is this: That, with reference to God, as
an omniscient Being, there is, and there can be, no such thing as
"Chance;" while, with reference alike to men and angels, many events may
be fortuitous or accidental, not as being independent of causes, but as
depending on causes unknown, or on combinations of causes whose joint
operation may result in effects absolutely undiscoverable by our limited

This position consists of _two_ parts. It affirms that with reference to
God and His omniscient knowledge, there can be nothing that is
fortuitous, accidental, or unexpected. It affirms, with reference to man
and all created intelligences, that there may, or even must, be much
uncertainty in regard to the products of natural causes, especially when
they act in combination, and come into play in circumstances which we
cannot foresee or control. Many events may thus be casual, accidental,
or unexpected to men, which are not so to the supreme governing
Intelligence. The first part of the position is proved by the general
evidence which warrants us in ascribing omniscience, and especially an
unerring prescience, to the Divine Mind; and it cannot be denied,
without virtually ascribing _ignorance_ to God. The second part of the
position is established by some of the most familiar facts of
experience. We know and feel that however certain all events are to the
omniscient knowledge of the Most High, many of them are entirely beyond
the reach of our limited foresight; and this because they are either
dependent on individual causes which are unknown to us, or on a
combination of various causes, too complex to admit of any rational
computation in regard to their results.

The "calculation of chances" has been reduced to something like
scientific accuracy;[218] and it has been applied, with beneficial
effect, to the insurance of life and property on land and at sea. Even
the casual events of human history may be said, in a certain sense, to
be governed by fixed laws. The _aggregate result_ in such cases may be
tolerably certain, while the _individual cases_ are very much the
reverse; and hence human wisdom, proceeding on a well-ascertained body
of _statistics_, may construct a scheme for securing some against the
evils to which they would otherwise have been liable, by means of the
sacrifices of others, who would not have been in fact, although they
might have been, for ought they know, liable to the same. But what is
this, if it be not a practical acknowledgement of the uncertainty in
which all are placed in regard to some of the most important interests
of the present life? or how can it be said that chance or accident is
altogether, and in every sense, exploded, when large bodies of men are
found to combine, and that, too, at a considerable personal sacrifice,
for the express purpose of protecting themselves, so far as they can,
from the hazards to which they are individually exposed?

In the sense above explained, we cannot consent to discard "Chance"
altogether, either at the bidding of those who resolve everything into
"natural laws," or even in deference to the authority of others who
ascribe all events to Divine Providence. It may be true that all events,
however apparently casual or fortuitous, are governed by "natural laws;"
it may be equally true that all events are determined, directed, or
controlled by Divine Providence: but as long as some events depend on
causes which are certainly known, and other events on causes which are
not known, or on a combination of causes whose results cannot be
foreseen, so long will there be room for the distinction between the
_regular_ and the _accidental_ phenomena of human experience. This
distinction, indeed, is explicitly recognized in Scripture itself; for
while it speaks of all events as being infallibly known to God, it
speaks of some events that are _accidental_ with reference to man.[219]
The unknown, unforeseen, and unexpected incidents of life, which
constitute all that is apparently casual or accidental, may be, and we
believe they are, really subject both to natural laws and to God's
providential will; but they are removed far beyond our comprehension or
control; and being so, they are admirably fitted, as a part of the
complex scheme of His natural and moral government, to serve one of the
most important practical ends for which it is designed, by impressing us
with a sense of constant dependence on a higher Power, and of dutiful
subjection to a superior Will.

But while, in this sense and to this extent, the doctrine of "Chance" is
retained, it must be utterly rejected as a means of accounting either
for the creation or government of the world. For, on the supposition of
a Supreme Being, there can be no _chance_ with reference to Him; and
without such a supposition, we cannot account for the regularity which
prevails in the course of Nature, and which indicates a presiding
Intelligence and a controlling Will. . 2. But this very regularity of
Nature, when viewed apart from the cross accidents of life, is apt to
engender the opposite idea of "Fate" or "Destiny," as if all events were
determined by laws alike necessary and invariable, inherent in the
constitution of Nature, and independent of the concurrence or the
control of the Divine will. We are not sure, indeed, that the idea of
Fate or Destiny is suggested solely, or even mainly, by the regular
sequences of the natural world; we rather think that it is more
frequently derived from those unexpected and crushing calamities which
occur in spite of every precaution of human foresight and prudence, and
that thus it may be identified, in a great measure, with the doctrine of
Chance, or, at least, the one may run into and blend with the other. But
if any attempt were made to establish it by proof, recourse would be had
to the established order and regular sequences of Nature, as affording
its most plausible verification, although they afford no real sanction
to it, in so far as it differs from the Christian doctrine of

Dr. Cudworth discusses this subject at great length, and makes mention
of _three_ distinct forms of Fatalism. The first, which is variously
designated as the Democritic, the Physiological, or the Atheistic Fate,
is that which teaches the material or physical necessity of all things,
and ascribes all natural phenomena to the mechanical laws of matter and
motion. The second, which is described as a species of Divine or
Theistic Fate, is that which admits the existence and agency of God, but
teaches that He both _decrees_ and _does_, _purposes_ and _performs_ all
things, whether good or evil, as if He were the only real agent in the
universe, or as if He had no moral character, and were, as Cudworth
graphically expresses it, "_mere arbitrary will omnipotent_:" this he
describes as a "Divine Fate immoral and violent." The third, which is
also designated as a species of Divine or Theistic Fate, is that which
recognizes both the existence of God, and the agency of other beings in
Nature, together with the radical distinction between moral good and
evil, but teaches that men are so far under necessity as to be incapable
of moral and responsible action, and unfit subjects of praise or blame,
of reward or punishment: this he describes as "Divine Fate moral and
natural." These _three_ are all justly held to be erroneous or defective
views of the Divine government, and, as such, they are strenuously and
successfully opposed.[220]

But there is room for a _fourth_ doctrine, which may be designated as
the Christian doctrine of Providence, and which combines in itself all
the great fundamental truths for which Dr. Cudworth contends, while it
leaves open, or, at least, does not necessarily determine, some of the
collateral questions on which he might have differed from many of its
defenders. This doctrine affirms, first, the existence and attributes of
God, as a holy and righteous Moral Governor; secondly, the real
existence and actual operation of "second causes," distinct from, but
not independent of, "the First Cause;" thirdly, the operation of these
causes according to their several natures, so that, under God's
Providence, events fall out "either necessarily, freely, or
contingently," according to the kind of intermediate agency by which
they are brought to pass; and, fourthly, that in the case of intelligent
and moral agents, ample room is left for responsible action, and for the
consequent sentence of praise or blame, reward or punishment,
notwithstanding the eternal decree of God, and the constant control
which He exercises over all His creatures and all their actions. These
four positions may be all harmoniously combined in one self-consistent
and comprehensive statement; and, in point of fact, they are all
included in the Christian doctrine of Providence, as that has been
usually explained and defended by the various sections of the Catholic
Church. Not one of them is omitted or denied.[221] They seem fairly to
meet, or rather fully to exhaust, the demands of Dr. Cudworth himself,
when he says: "These three things are, as we conceive, the fundamentals
or essentials of true religion, first, that all things in the world do
not float without a head or governor, but that there is a God, an
omnipotent understanding Being, presiding over all; secondly, that this
God being essentially good and just, there is something in its own
nature immutably and eternally just and unjust, and not by arbitrary
will, law, and command only; and lastly, that there is something [Greek:
eph' hêmin], or that we are _so far forth_ principals or masters of our
own actions as to be _accountable_ to justice for them, or to make us
guilty or blameworthy for what we do amiss, and to deserve punishment
accordingly." All these fundamentals of true religion are explicitly
recognized in the Christian doctrine of Providence, which stands out,
therefore, in striking contrast with the Atheistic, and even Theistic,
theories of Fate which he condemns; and they are as zealously maintained
(whether with the same _consistency_ is a different question) by
Edwards, Chalmers, and Woods, on the one side, as they ever were by
Cudworth, Clarke, and Tappan, on the other.

It may be said, however, that the doctrine of Providence, especially
when taught in connection with that of Predestination, does unavoidably
imply some kind of _necessity_, incompatible with free moral agency, and
that, to all practical intents, it amounts substantially to Fate or
Destiny. But we are prepared to show that there is neither the same kind
of _necessity_ in the one scheme which is implied in the other, nor the
same reason for denying moral and responsible agency in the case of
intelligent beings. In doing so, we must carefully discriminate, in the
first instance, between the various senses in which the term _necessity_
is used. Dr. Waterland has given a comprehensive division of "necessity"
into _four_ kinds, denominated respectively, the Logical, the Moral, the
Physical, and the Metaphysical.

"Logical necessity" exists wherever the contrary of what is affirmed
would imply a contradiction; and in this sense we call it _a necessary
truth_ that two and two make four, that a whole is greater than any of
its parts, and that a circle neither is nor can be a square. It amounts
to nothing more than the affirmation, that the same idea or thing _is
what it is_; and it relates solely to the connection between one idea
and another, or between one proposition and another, or between subject
and predicate. This is "logical necessity;" we cannot, with our present
laws of thought, conceive the thing to be otherwise without implying a

"Moral necessity," again, denotes a connection, not between one idea and
another, or between the subject and predicate of a proposition, but
between _means_ and _ends_. It is not necessary absolutely that any man
should continue to live; but it is necessary _morally_ that, if he would
continue to live, he should eat and sleep, food and rest being,
according to the established constitution of Nature, a _necessary
condition_ or indispensable means for the support of life. There is in
like manner a "moral necessity" that we should be virtuous and obedient,
if we would be truly happy, virtue and obedience being, according to the
established constitution of Nature, an indispensable means of true and
permanent happiness. This is "moral necessity" which has reference
solely to the connection between _means_ and _ends_, but that
connection, being ordained, is immutable and invariable.

"Physical necessity," again, exists wherever there is either a causal
connection between antecedents and consequents in the material world, or
even a coactive and compulsory constraint in the moral world. It is
physically necessary that fire should burn substances that are
combustible, that water and other fluids should flow down a declivity,
and rise again but only to a certain level; and there is the like kind
of necessity, wherever a moral agent is forced to act under irresistible
compulsion,--as when the assassin seizes hold of another's arm, and
thrusting a deadly weapon into his hand, directs it, by his own
overmastering will, to the brain or heart of his victim. In this latter
case, the unwilling instrument of his revenge or malice is not held to
be the guilty party, but the more powerful agent by whom that instrument
was employed. This is "physical necessity," which relates solely to the
connection between cause and effect in the material world, and, in the
moral, to the compulsory action of one agent on another.

"Metaphysical necessity," again, can be predicated of God only, and
denotes the peculiar property or prerogative of His being, as existing
necessarily, immutably, and eternally, or, to use a scholastic phrase,
the necessary connection in His case between _essence_ and _existence_.

Omitting the _last_, which does not fall properly within the limits of
our present inquiry, we may say with regard to _the three first_, that
each of them may exist, and that each of them does really operate, in
the present constitution of Nature. We are subject, unquestionably, to
certain "laws of thought," which we can neither repeal nor resist, and
which impose upon us a logical necessity to conceive, to reason, and to
infer, not according to our own whim or caprice, but according to
established rules. We are equally subject to certain "conditions of
existence,"--arising partly from our own constitution, partly from the
constitution of external objects and the relations subsisting between
the two,--which lay us under a moral necessity of using suitable means
for the accomplishment of our purposes and plans. And we are still
further subject to "physical necessity," in so far as our material frame
is liable to be affected by external influences, and even our muscular
powers may be overmastered and subordinated by a more vigorous or
resolute will than our own. These _three_ kinds of "necessity" exist;
they are all constituent parts of that vast scheme of government under
which we are placed; and the question arises, Whether, when the
existence of these necessary laws is admitted, we can still maintain the
doctrine which affirms the providential government of God and the moral
agency of man; or whether we must not resolve the whole series of
events, both in the natural and moral worlds, into the blind and
inexorable dominion of Destiny or Fate?

We answer, first, that there is nothing in any one of these three kinds
of necessity, nor in all of them combined, which, when rightly
understood, should either exclude the idea of Divine Providence, or
impair our sense of moral and responsible agency. We may not be _so_
free, nor so totally exempt from the operation of established laws, as
some of the advocates of human liberty have supposed: but we may be free
enough, notwithstanding, to be regarded and treated as moral and
accountable beings. We may be subject to certain "laws of thought," and
yet may be responsible for our opinions and beliefs, in so far as these
depend on our voluntary acts, on our attention or inattention to the
truth and its evidence, on our use or neglect of the appropriate means,
on our love or our hatred to the light. And so we may be subject to
certain other laws, in various departments of our complex experience,
without being either restrained or impelled by such external coaction as
alone can exempt creatures, constituted as we know and feel ourselves to
be, from the righteous retributions of God.

We answer, secondly, that the doctrine of Providence, even when it is
combined with that of Predestination, represents all events as "falling
out according to the nature of second causes, necessarily, contingently,
or freely;" nay, as falling out so "that no violence is offered to the
will of the creature, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes
taken away, but rather established." It follows that if there be either
on earth or in heaven any free cause, or any moral and responsible
agent, his nature is not changed, nor is the character of his agency
altered, by that providential government which God exercises over all
His creatures and all their actions; he still continues to develop,
within certain limits imposed by unalterable laws, his own proper
individuality, or his personal character, in its relation to the law and
government of God.

We answer, thirdly, that the moral and responsible agency of man cannot
be justly held to be incompatible with the Providence and Supremacy of
God, unless it can be shown that, in the exercise of the latter, God
acts in the way of physical coaction or irresistible constraint, and
further, that man is not only controlled and governed in his actions,
but compelled to act in opposition to his own will. But no enlightened
advocate either of Providence or Predestination will affirm that there
is any "physical necessity," imposed by the Divine will, which
constrains men to commit sin, or that God is "the author of sin." "Let
no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be
tempted of evil, neither tempteth He any man. But every man is tempted,
when he is drawn away of his own lusts and enticed."[222]

We answer, fourthly, that when a "moral necessity" or _moral inability_
is spoken of by divines as making sin certain and inevitable in the case
of man, we must carefully distinguish between the _constitution_ and the
_state_ of human nature,--its constitution as it was originally created,
and its state as it at present exists. There might be nothing in the
original constitution of human nature which could interfere in any way
with the freedom of man as an intelligent, moral, and responsible being;
and yet, in consequence of the introduction of sin, his state may now be
so far changed as to have become a state of moral bondage. But the
constitution of his nature, in virtue of which he was at the first, and
must ever continue to be, a moral and accountable being, remains
unreversed; from being holy, he has become depraved, but he has not
ceased to be a subject of moral government, and the evils that are
incident to his present position must be ascribed, not to God's
_creative will_, but, in the first instance, to man's voluntary
disobedience, and, in the second, to a Divine _judicial sentence_
following thereupon.

And finally, we answer that the theory which ascribes all events, both
in the natural and moral worlds, to the blind and inexorable dominion of
Destiny or Fate, leaves altogether unexplained many of the most certain
and familiar facts of human experience. There are two large classes of
facts which no theory of Fate can possibly explain. The first comprises
all those manifest indications of provident forethought, intelligent
design, and moral purpose, which appear in the course of Nature, and
which cannot be _accounted for_ by a blind, unintelligent, undesigning
cause. The second comprises all those facts of consciousness which bear
witness to the moral nature and responsible agency of man, as the
subject of a government which rewards and punishes his actions, in some
measure, even here, and which irresistibly suggests the idea of a future
reckoning and retribution. These two classes of facts must either be
ignored, or left as insoluble, by any theory which advocates blind Fate
or Destiny, in opposition to the overruling Providence and moral
government of God.

These answers are sufficient, if not to remove all mystery from the
methods of the Divine administration (for who would undertake to fathom
the counsels of Him "whose judgments are unsearchable and His ways past
finding out?"), yet to show at least that a Divine Providence is more
credible in itself, and better supported by evidence, than any theory of
Destiny or Fate; that the facts to which the latter appeals may be
explained consistently with the former, while the facts on which the
former is founded must either be left altogether out of view, or at
least left unexplained, if the doctrine of Fate be substituted for that
of Providence.

We have thus far compared the two theories of Chance and Fate, by which
some have attempted to explain the system of the universe, and have
contrasted both with the Christian doctrine of Providence. On a review
of the whole discussion, we think it must be evident that the latter
combines whatever is true and valuable in each of these opposite
theories, while it eliminates and rejects whatever is unsound or noxious
in either. It may seem strange that we should speak as if anything,
either true or valuable, could be involved in the theories of Chance and
Destiny; and, unquestionably, considered as theories designed to explain
the system of the world, and to supersede the doctrine of Providence,
they are, in all their distinctive peculiarities, utterly false and
worthless. But it seldom, if ever, happens that any theory obtains a
wide-spread and permanent influence, which does not stand connected with
some _partial truth_, or which cannot appeal to some _apparent natural
evidence_. We have already seen that there are two distinct classes of
events in Nature, and two corresponding classes of sentiments and
feelings in the human mind; that the latter point, respectively, to the
constant and the variable, the certain and the doubtful, the causal and
the casual; and that were either of the two to acquire an absolute
ascendancy over us, it would naturally lead to one or other of two
opposite extremes--the theory of Chance, or the theory of Fate. Now, the
doctrine of Providence takes account of _both_ these classes of
phenomena and feelings, so as to combine whatever is true and useful in
each of the two rival theories, while it strikes out and rejects
whatever is false in either, by placing all things under the government
and control of a living, intelligent, personal God.

It is scarcely necessary to add that the views and sentiments which the
Christian doctrine of Providence inspires are widely different from
those which must be generated by a belief either in Chance or in Fate,
as the supreme arbiter of our destiny. The doctrine which teaches us to
look up and to say, with childlike confidence, "Our FATHER which art in
heaven," is worth more than all the philosophy in the world! Could we
only realize it as a truth, and have habitual recourse to it in all our
anxieties and straits, we should feel that, if it be a deeply serious
and solemn fact that "the Lord reigneth," it is also, to all his
trusting and obedient children, alike cheering and consolatory; and he
who can relish the sweetness of our Lord's words when he spake of "the
birds of the air" and the "flowers of the field," will see at once that
Stoicism is immeasurably inferior, both as a philosophy and a faith, to
Christian Theism.[223]


[217] DR. CUDWORTH, "Intellectual System," I. 75, 82, 106, 151; II. 77,
334. GASSENDI, "Syntagma." DR. J. M. GOODE, "Lucretius," Preface.

[218] LA PLACE, "Des Probabilities."

[219] Eccles. 9: 11; Luke 10: 31; Deut. 19: 5

[220] DR. CUDWORTH, "Intellectual System," I. 33. American Edition.

[221] DR. JOHN COLLINGES, "On Providence." Dr. Price, "Dissertations."
SAMUEL RUTHERFORD, "De Providentia Dei." DR. CHARNOCK, "On Providence."

[222] James 1: 13, 14. See M'LAURIN'S profound discourse on this text.

[223] MICHELET has presented a graphic portrait of a Stoic:--"L'individu
sous la forme du Stoicisme,--ramassé soi,--appuyé sur soi,--ne demandant
rien aux dieux,--ne les accusant point,--_ne daignant pas même les
nier_."--"_Introduction à l'Historie Universelle_."



The Eclectic method of Philosophy, which was first exemplified in the
celebrated School of Alexandria, and which has been recently revived
under the auspices of M. Cousin in the Schools of Paris, may be
regarded, in one of its aspects, as the most legitimate, and, indeed, as
the only practicable course of successful intellectual research. If by
"eclecticism" we were to understand the habit of culling from every
system that portion or fragment of truth which may be contained in it,
and of rejecting the error with which it may have been associated or
alloyed,--in other words, the art of "sifting the wheat from the chaff,"
so as to preserve the former, while the latter is dissipated and
dispersed,--there could be no valid objection to it which would not
equally apply to every method of Inductive Inquiry. But this is not the
sense in which "eclecticism" has been adopted and eulogized by the
Parisian School. For, not content with affirming that the same system
may contain both truth and error, and that it is our duty to separate
the one from the other,--which is the only rational "eclecticism,"--M.
Cousin maintains that _error itself is only a partial or incomplete
truth_; that if it be an evil, it is a necessary evil, and an eventual
good, since it is a means, according to a fundamental law of human
development, of evolving truth and advancing philosophy; and that thus
the grossest errors may exert a salutary influence, insomuch that
_Atheism itself may be regarded as providential_.[224] In this form,
Eclecticism becomes a huge and heterogeneous system of SYNCRETISM,
including all varieties of opinion, whether true or false; and it has a
natural and inevitable tendency to issue in a spirit of INDIFFERENCE to
the claims of truth, which may assume the form either of Philosophical
Skepticism or of Religious Liberalism, according to the taste and
temperament of the individual who embraces it.

In the form of Religious Liberalism, it has often been exemplified in
our own country by those who, averse from definite articles of faith,
and prone to latitudinarian license, have studiously set themselves to
disparage the importance of the peculiar doctrines of Christianity, and
even to obliterate the distinction between the various forms of
Religion, natural and revealed, by representing them all as so many
varieties of the same religious sentiment, so many diverse, but not
antagonistic, embodiments of the same radical principle. In the writings
of Pope, several expressions occur which are easily susceptible of this
construction, and which have often been quoted and applied in defence of
Religious Liberalism, notwithstanding his explicit disavowal of it in
his letter to the younger Racine, prefixed to the collected edition of
his works. But on the continent of Europe, Syncretism has been much more
fully developed, and fearlessly applied to every department of human
thought. Pushed to its ultimate consequences, it obliterates the
distinction not only between truth and error, but also between virtue
and vice, nay even between Religion and Atheism; and represents them all
as constituent parts of a scheme, which is developed under a law of
"fatal necessity," but which is described also as a scheme of
"optimism." Its range is supposed to be unlimited: for it has been
applied to the History of Philosophy, by Cousin, to the theory of the
Passions, by Fourier, to the doctrines of Christianity, by Quinet and
Michelet, and to the Philosophy of Religion, by Benjamin Constant. The
practical result of such speculations is a growing _skepticism_ or
_indifference_ in regard to the distinction between truth and error, and
a very faint impression of the difference between good and evil.[225]
The speculations of Pierre Leroux, the head, if not the founder, of the
Humanitarian School, are strongly tinged with this spirit: they amount
to a justification of evil, an apotheosis of man.[226]

We do not class these speculations among the formal systems of Atheism,
although they have often been associated with it; but we advert to them
as specimens of that style of thinking which has a natural tendency to
induce an atheistic frame of mind.[227] The profession of such
sentiments is a symptom rather of incipient danger, than of confirmed
disease. But that danger is far from being either doubtful or
insignificant. For should the distinction between "truth and error" be
obliterated or even feebly discerned, should it come to be regarded as a
matter of comparative indifference whether our beliefs be true or false,
should it, above all, become our prevailing habit to "call good evil,
and evil good," we can scarcely fail, in such circumstances, to fall
into a course of _practical Atheism_; and this, as all experience
testifies, will leave us an easy prey, especially in seasons of peculiar
temptation and trial, to any form of _speculative Infidelity_ that may
happen to acquire a temporary ascendancy. If there be no dogmatic
Atheism involved in this state of mind, there is at least the germ of
_skepticism_, which may soon grow and ripen into the open and avowed
denial of religious truth. At the very least, it will issue in that
heartless _indifference_ to all creeds and all definite articles of
faith, which, under the plausible but surreptitious disguise of
"freethinking" and "liberalism," is the nearest practical approximation
to utter Infidelity.[228]

The system which is known under the name of Religious Liberalism or
Indifference has been recently avowed in our own country with a
frankness and boldness which can leave no room for doubt in regard to
its ultimate tendency. The late Blanco White avowed it as his mature
conviction, that "to declare any one unworthy of the name of Christian
because he does not agree with your belief, is to fall into the
intolerance of the articled Churches; that the moment the name Christian
is made necessarily to contain in its signification belief in certain
historical or metaphysical propositions, that moment _the name itself
becomes a creed_,--the _length_ of that creed is of little
consequence."[229] This is the extreme on one side, and it plainly
implies that _no one article of faith_ is necessary, and that a man may
be a Christian who neither acknowledges an historical Christ, nor
believes a single doctrine which He taught! But there is an extreme also
on the other side, which is exemplified in the singularly eloquent, but
equally unsatisfactory, treatise of the Abbé Lamennais,[230] in which,
as _then_ an ardent and somewhat arrogant advocate of the Romish Church,
he attempts to fasten the charge of _Indifference_ or _Liberalism_ on
the Protestant system, and to prove that there can be no true faith, and
of course no salvation, beyond the Catholic pale. The chief interest of
his treatise depends on his peculiar "theory of certitude," to which we
shall have occasion to advert in the sequel; in the meantime, we may
notice briefly the grievous error into which he has fallen in treating
of the faith which is necessary to salvation. He _overstates_ the case
as much, at least, as it has been _understated_ by the abettors of
Liberalism. The latter deny the necessity of _any_ articles of faith;
the former demands the implicit reception of _every_ doctrine propounded
by the Romish Church. He repudiates the distinction between
_fundamentals_ and _non-fundamentals_ in Religion, and insists that, as
every truth is declared by the same infallible authority, so every truth
must be received with the same unquestioning faith. He forgets that
while all the truths of Scripture ought to be believed by reason of the
Divine authority on which they rest, yet some truths are more directly
connected with our salvation than others, as well as more clearly and
explicitly revealed. Nor are we justly liable to the charge of
"Indifference" or "Liberalism" when we tolerate a difference of opinion,
on some points, among men who are, in all important respects,
substantially agreed: for true toleration is the fruit, not of unbelief
or indifference, but of charity and candor; and it is sanctioned in
Scripture, which enjoins that we should "receive those who are weak in
the faith, but not to doubtful disputations," and that "every man should
be fully persuaded in his own mind."[231]

But it is not so much in its relation to the articles of the Christian
faith, as in its bearing on the different forms of true and false
religion, that the theory of Liberalism comes into collision with the
cause of Theism, and evinces its infidel tendencies. If any one can
regard with the same complacency, or with the same apathetic
indifference, all the varieties of religious or superstitious belief and
worship; if he can discern no radical or important difference between
Monotheism and Polytheism, or between the Protestant and Popish systems;
if he be disposed to treat each of these as equally true or equally
false, as alike beneficial or injurious in their practical influence,
then this may be regarded as a sufficient proof that he is ignorant of
the evidence, and blind to the claims, of truth,--a mere skeptical
dreamer, if not a speculative Atheist.

An attempt has recently been made to place the theory of Religious
Liberalism on a philosophical basis, by representing religion as a mere
_sentiment_, which may be equally elicited and exemplified in various
forms of belief and worship. Several writers, following in the wake of
Schleiermacher, who gave such a powerful impulse to the mind of Germany,
have made Religion to consist either in _a sense of dependence_, or in
_a consciousness of the infinite_; and this sentiment, as well as the
spontaneous intuitions of reason with which it is associated, is said to
be alike natural, universal, and invariable, the essential principle of
all Religion, the root whence have sprung all the various forms of
belief and worship. These varieties are supposed to be more or less
rational and salutary, according to the conception which they
respectively exhibit of the nature and character of God,--a conception
which may be endlessly diversified by the intellect, or the imagination,
or the passions of different men; while all the forms of belief are
radically identical, since they all spring from the same
ground-principle, and are only so many distinct manifestations of it.
Thus Mr. Parker tells us that, stripping the "religious sentiment" in
man "of all accidental circumstances peculiar to the age, nation, sect,
or individual, and pursuing a sharp and final analysis till the subject
and predicate can no longer be separated, we find as the ultimate fact,
that the religious sentiment is this,--'_a sense of dependence_.' This
sentiment does not itself disclose the character, and still less the
nature and essence, of the object on which it depends, no more than the
senses declare the nature of _their_ objects. Like them it acts
spontaneously and unconsciously, as soon as the outward occasion offers,
with no effort of will, forethought, or making up the mind. But the
religious sentiment implies its object; ... and there is but _one
religion_, though _many theologies_."[232]

There is, as it appears to us, a mixture of some truth with much grave
and dangerous error, in these and similar speculations. It is an
important truth, and one which has been too often overlooked in treating
the evidences of Natural Theology, that the _sentiments_ of the human
mind, not less than its intuitive perceptions or logical processes, have
a close relation to the subject of inquiry; but it is an error to
suppose that _all_ the sentiments having a religious tendency can be
reduced to _one_, whether it be called "a sense of dependence" or "a
consciousness of the infinite," for there are other sentiments besides
these which are equally subservient to the uses of Religion, such as the
sense of moral obligation, of the true, of the ideal, of the sublime,
and of the beautiful. It is also an important truth, that there are
spontaneous "intuitions of reason," or fundamental and invariable "laws
of thought," which come into action at the first dawn of experience, and
which have a close connection with the proof of the being and
perfections of God; but it is an error to suppose that the proof depends
_exclusively_ on these, or that it could be made out irrespective of the
evidence afforded by the works of Creation and Providence. It is further
an important truth, that the religious sentiment, or religious tendency,
is natural to man, and that it may appear either in the form of Religion
or Superstition: but it is an error to suppose that "there is but _one
religion_, although _many theologies_;" for these theologies must spring
from fundamentally different "conceptions of God," and what are these
conceptions, in their ultimate analysis, but so many beliefs, doctrines,
or dogmas, which, whether formally defined or not in articles of faith,
have in them the self-same essence which is supposed to belong only to
the bigotry of "articled churches?" But the fundamental, the fatal error
of all these speculations, is the denial of any _stable and permanent
standard of objective truth_. Truth is made purely _subjective_, and, of
course, it must also be progressive, insomuch that the truth of a former
age may be an error in the present, and the supposed truth of the
present age may become obsolete hereafter. So that there is really
nothing certain in human knowledge; and "truth" may be justly described
as never existing, but only _becoming_, as never possessed, though ever
pursued; it is a _verité mobile_, a truth not in _esse_, but in _fieri_.
Hence we read in recent speculations of a "new Christianity," of a "new
Gospel," and of "the Church of the Future," as if there could be any
other Christianity than that of the New Testament, any other Gospel than
that of Jesus Christ, or any other Church than that of apostolic times.

I have adverted to this theory, because, while it is of little value in
a speculative point of view, it is often found to exert a powerful
practical influence, especially on "men of affairs," men who have
travelled in various countries, or who have been employed in the arts of
diplomacy and government; and who, finding religious worship everywhere,
but clothed in different forms, and marking its subserviency to social
and political interests, have been too prone to place all the varieties
of belief in the same category, if not precisely on the same level, and
to regard with indifference, perhaps even with indulgence, the grossest
corruptions both of Natural and Revealed Religion. The world is surely
old enough, and its history sufficiently instructive, to prove, even to
the most indifferent statesmen, that truth is always salutary, and
error noxious, to the commonwealth, and that nowhere is society more
safe, orderly, or stable, than in those countries which are blessed with
"pure and undefiled religion." But let the opinion spread from the
prince to the peasant, from the aristocracy to the artisans, from the
philosopher to the public, that there is either no difference, or only a
slight and trivial one, between truth and error, that it matters little
what a man believes, or whether he believes at all: let the general mind
of the community become indoctrinated with such lessons, and it needs no
prophetic foresight to predict a crisis of unprecedented peril, an era
of reckless revolution. A philosophic dreamer may affect a calm
indifference, a bland and benignant Liberalism; but a nation, a
community, cannot be neutral or inert in regard to matters of faith: it
must and will be either religious or irreligious, it must either love
the truth or hate it: it is too sharp-sighted, and too much guided by
homely common sense, to believe that systems so opposite as Paganism and
Christianity, or Popery and Protestantism, are harmonious manifestations
of the same religious principle, or equally beneficial to the State.


[224] M. COUSIN, "Introduction," I. 318, 391, 405, 419; II. 134. Ibid.,
"Fragmens Philosophiques." Preface, VII.

[225] VALROGER, "Etudes Critiques," pp. 115, 126, 151, 308, 316. MARET,
"Essai sur Pantheisme," p. 249.

[226] P. LEROUX, "Sur l'Humanité," 2 vols.

[227] BUDDÆUS, "De Atheismo et Superstitione," pp. 184, 212.

[228] RICHARD BENTLEY, "On Freethinking," Boyle Lectures. VILLEMANDY,
"Scepticismus Debellatus," III. His words are remarkable:--"Passim haec,
aliaque generis ejusdem, placita disseminantur,--neque verum neque
bonum, qualia sunt in seipsis, posse dignosci; hinc que adeo sectandam
esse duntaxat cum veri, tum boni, similitudinem: quæ si stent ac
valeant,--illud omne erit verum, illud omne æquum,--illud omne pium et
religiosum,--illud omne utile, quod _cuiquam tale videatur_; privatam
cujusque conscientiam supremam esse agendorum, vel non agendorum,

[229] JAMES MARTINEAU, "Rationale of Religious Inquiry," p. 108.

[230] F. DE LAMENNAIS, "Essai sur l'Indifference en matiere de la
Religion," 4 vols. Paris, 1844.

[231] Romans 14: 1, 5.

[232] THEODORE PARKER, "Discourse of Matters pertaining to Religion,"
pp. 14, 17.



We formerly adverted to the distinction between Dogmatic and Skeptical
Atheism; and, believing that the _latter_ is the form in which it is
most prevalent, as well as most insidious and plausible, we now propose
to review some recent theories both of Certitude and Skepticism, which
have sometimes been applied to throw doubt on the evidence of Christian

The Academy of Moral and Political Sciences in the French Institute
announced in 1843 the theory of Certitude as the subject of a Prize
Essay, and issued the following _programme_ as a guide to the
competitors in the selection of the principal topics of discussion:

"1. To determine the character of Certitude, and what distinguishes it
from everything else. For example, Is Certitude the same with the
highest probability?

"2. What is the faculty, or what are the faculties, which give us
Certitude? If several faculties of knowledge are supposed to exist, to
state with precision the differences between them.

"3. Of Truth and its foundations. Is truth the reality itself,--the
nature of things falling under the knowledge of man?--or is it nothing
but an appearance,--a conception, necessary or arbitrary, of the human

"4. To expound and discuss the most celebrated opinions, ancient and
modern, on the problem of Certitude, and to follow them out into their
theoretical and practical consequences. To subject to a critical and
profound examination the great monuments of Skepticism,--the writings of
Sextus, Huet, Hume, and Kant.

"5. To inquire what are, in spite of the assaults of Skepticism, the
certain truths which ought to subsist in the Philosophy of our times."

Such was the comprehensive _programme_ of the French Institute; and many
circumstances concurred at the time to impart a peculiar interest to the
competition. M. Franck's volume[233] contains the Report of the Section
of Philosophy on the papers which had been prepared, and offers a
careful analysis and critical estimate of their contents. Various other
works[234] not concerned in the competition appeared before and after
it, showing how much the philosophical mind of France had been occupied
with this great theme, while in Britain it was attracting little or no

This is the most recent discussion, on a great scale, of the theory of
Certitude. But the question, far from being a new or modern speculation,
is as old as Philosophy itself, and has been perpetually reproduced in
every age of intellectual activity. Plato discusses it, chiefly in the
Theætetus, Sophist, and Parmenides; it was agitated by Pyrrho,
Enesidemus, and Sextus Empiricus, with that peculiar subtlety which
belonged to the mind of Greece; and in more recent times it has
reappeared in the writings of Montaigne and Bayle, Huet and Pascal,
Glanville, Hume, and Kant. Even during the middle age, the controversy
between the Nominalists and Realists had an important bearing on this
subject: so that from the whole history of Philosophy we derive the
impression of its fundamental importance, an impression which is
deepened and confirmed by the transcendent interest of the themes to
which it has been applied.

In our present argument, we are concerned with it only so far as it
stands connected with the foundations of Theology, or as the right or
wrong solution of the general question might affect the evidence for the
Being and Perfections of God. We do not propose, therefore, to offer a
full exposition of the philosophy of Certitude, still less to institute
a detailed examination of the various theories which have been
propounded respecting it. It will be sufficient for our purpose if we
merely sketch a comprehensive outline of the subject, and select some of
the more prominent points which have the most direct bearing on the
grounds of our religious belief. Thus much may be accomplished by
considering, _first_, the statement of the problem, and, _secondly_, the
solution of it.

In regard to the _statement_ of the problem, it is necessary, in the
first instance, to ascertain its precise import, by determining the
meaning of the term Certitude. The programme of the Academy very
properly places this question on the foreground, Is Certitude the same
with the highest probability? And it is the more necessary to give
precedence to this part of the inquiry, because it is notorious that
there is a wide difference between the philosophical and the popular
sense of Certitude,--a difference which has often occasioned mutual
misunderstanding between disputants, and a profitless warfare of words.
In the philosophical sense of the term, that only is said to be
_certain_ which is either an axiomatic truth, intuitively discerned, or
a demonstrated truth, derived from the former by rigorous deduction;
while all that part of our knowledge which is gathered from experience
and observation, however credible in itself and however surely
believed, is characterized as _probable_ only. In the popular sense of
the term, Certitude belongs to all those truths, of whatever kind and in
whatever way acquired, in regard to which we have no reason to be in
doubt or suspense, and which rest on sufficient and satisfactory
evidence. A philosopher is _certain_, in his sense of the term, only of
what he intuitively perceives or can logically demonstrate; a peasant is
_certain_, in his sense of the term, of whatever he distinctly sees, or
clearly remembers, or receives on authentic testimony. There is much
reason, we think, to regret the existence of such a wide difference
between the philosophical and the popular sense of an expression, which
must occur so often both in speculative discussion and in the
intercourse of common life. It may be doubted whether the metaphysician
is entitled to borrow the language of society, and to engraft upon it an
arbitrary definition of his own, different from and even inconsistent
with that which it bears in common usage. Nor can he plead necessity as
a sufficient excuse, or the accuracy of his definition as an effectual
safeguard, since, however needful it may be to discriminate between
_different species_ of Certitude, by marking their peculiar
characteristics and respective sources, surely this might be done more
safely and satisfactorily by designating one kind of it as Intuitive,
another as Demonstrative, another as Moral, or Experimental, or
Historical, than it can be by any arbitrary restriction of the _generic_
term to one or two of the many species which are comprehended under it.
No doubt there is a real distinction, and one of great practical
importance, between _certitude_ and _probability_; but this distinction
is not overlooked in the language of common life;--it is only necessary
to determine what truths belong respectively to each: whereas when all
the truths of Experience, and even, in some cases, those of scientific
Induction, are ranked under the head of _probability_ merely, is it not
evident that the language of Philosophy is in this respect at variance
with the prevailing sense of mankind?

An attempt has sometimes been made to draw a distinction between
_popular_ and _philosophical_ Certitude, or, in other words, between the
unreflecting belief of the many and the scientific belief of the few.
Thus, M. Franck distinguishes Certitude, first of all, from the blind
faith which commences with the earliest dawn of intelligence: then, from
the doubt which supervenes on the initial process of inquiry; and then,
from that half-knowledge, that middle term between doubt and certainty,
which is called _probability_. And M. Javari speaks of Certitude "as the
complete demonstration, acquired by reflection, of the legitimacy of any
judgment, or of the reality of any object: this is definitive and
scientific certitude, which is contrasted with that belief, however
strong, which springs, not from the _reflective_, but the _direct and
spontaneous_ exercise of our faculties."[235] It must be evident that,
according to this definition of the term, Certitude, in the scientific
sense of it, as the product of philosophical reflection, must be the
privilege and prerogative of the few, who have been led by taste or
education to cultivate the study of Psychology; while the vast majority
of men, who are nevertheless as _certain_ of the truths which they
believe, and, to say the very least, as little liable to doubt or
skepticism, as any class of philosophers whatever, must be held to have
no Certitude, just because they have no Science. It seems to be assumed
that Certitude is the creation of Science, the product of reflective
thought; whereas it may be demonstrably shown that without Certitude,
Science would be impossible, and that reflection can give forth nothing
but what it finds previously existing in the storehouse of human
consciousness. It surveys the streams of belief, and may trace up these
streams to their highest springs; but it does not, it cannot, create a
new truth, or give birth to a higher certitude. We have no disposition,
assuredly, to underrate the value of philosophical reflection, or to
disparage the science of Psychology; the former may collect the
materials and the latter may attempt the construction, of a goodly and
solid fabric: but we cannot admit that the certainty of all our
knowledge depends upon either of them, or that it is confined
exclusively to the metaphysical inquirer. Reflection adds nothing to the
contents of human consciousness: it examines our fundamental beliefs,
but originates none of them; it discerns the elements and sources of
certainty, but can neither produce nor alter them. Its sole province is
to examine and report. If Certitude, in the philosophical sense of it,
belongs to the _reflex_, Certainty, in the popular sense, belongs to the
_direct_ and _spontaneous_, operations of the human mind. We see and
believe, we remember and believe, we compare and believe, we hear and
believe, and that, too, with a feeling of confidence which needs no
argument to confirm it, and to which all the philosophy in the world
could impart no additional strength. Certitude is not the creation of
Philosophy, but the object of its study; it exists independently of
Science, and is only recognized by it; and it would still exist as a
constituent and indestructible element of human consciousness were
Metaphysics scattered to the wind.

It appears, again, to have been assumed in some recent treatises, that
Certitude belongs only to that portion of truth the denial of which
would imply a contradiction, or amount to the annihilation of reason. Is
it, then, to be restricted to _necessary_ and _absolute_, as contrasted
with _contingent_ and _relative_ truths? Am I not as _certain_ that I
see four objects before me, as that two and two make four? Yet the
former is a _contingent_, the latter a _necessary_ truth. Is not my
personal consciousness infallibly certain? And yet can it be said to
belong to the head of necessary truth? Surely Certitude is unduly
restricted when we exclude from it many of our surest and strongest
convictions, which relate to truths attested by experience, but the
denial of which would involve no contradiction.

The question has been still further complicated by extreme opinions of
another kind. It seems to have been assumed that there can be no
Certitude, unless we can explain the _rationale_ of our knowledge, and
even account for the objects of our knowledge by tracing them up to
their First Cause, as the ground and reason of their existence.[236]
Now, if the question were, Can you account for your own existence, or
for the existence of the world around you, without having recourse to a
supreme First Cause? we would answer, No: but if the question be, Can
there be any Certitude prior to the idea of God, not deduced from it,
and capable of existing without it? we would answer, Yes: the little
child is certain of its mother's existence before it is capable of
knowing God, and the veriest Atheist is certain of his own existence and
that of his fellow-men, even when he professes to doubt or to disbelieve
the existence of God. It may be true that the essential nature and
omniscient knowledge of God is the ultimate and eternal standard of
truth and certainty, or, in the words of Fenelon, that "il n'y a qu'une
seule verité, et qu'une seule manière de bien juger, qui est, de juger
comme Dieu même;"[237] and yet it may not be true that all our knowledge
is derived by deduction from our idea of God, or that its entire
certainty is dependent on our religious belief. Surely we may be
certainly assured of the facts of consciousness, of the phenomena of
Nature, and of many truths, both necessary and contingent, before we
have made any attempt to explain the _rationale_ of our knowledge, or to
connect it with the idea of the great First Cause; nay, it may be, and
we believe it is, by _means_ of these inferior and subordinate truths
that we rise to the belief of a supreme, omniscient Mind.

Some writers seem to confound Certitude with _Infallibility,_ or at
least to hold that there can be no Certitude without it. The _impersonal
reason_ of Cousin, the _common sense_ or _generic reason_ of Lamennais,
and the _authoritative tradition_ of the Church, have all been severally
resorted to, for the purpose of obtaining a ground of Certitude in the
matters both of Philosophy and Faith, such as is supposed to be
unattainable by the exercise of our own proper faculties, or by the most
careful study of evidence. According to these theories, Certitude
belongs to our knowledge, only because that knowledge is derived from a
reason superior to our own,--a reason not personal, but universal; not
individual, but generic. When they are applied, as they have been, to
undermine the authority of private judgment, and to supersede the
exercise of free inquiry; when they are urged as a reason why we should
defer to the authority of the Race in matters of Philosophy and to the
authority of the Church in matters of Faith; when we are told that the
certainty of our own existence depends on our knowledge of God, and that
our knowledge of God depends on the _common consent_ or _invariable
traditions_ of mankind,--we do feel that the grounds of Certitude, so
far from being strengthened, are sapped and weakened by such
speculations, and that we have here a new and most unexpected
application of the Scottish doctrine of Common Sense, such as may be
highly serviceable to the Church of Rome. Protestant writers, indeed,
have sometimes appealed to _common consent_ as a collateral proof,
auxiliary to that which is more direct and conclusive; but they have
done so merely because they regarded it as a _part of the evidence_,
well fitted to prove what Dr. Cudworth calls "the naturality of the idea
of God," and not because they confounded it with the _faculty_ by which
alone that evidence can be discerned and appreciated. They never
regarded it as the sole ground of certainty either in matters of
Philosophy or Faith. Nor can it be so considered by any thoughtful mind.
For how can I be more assured of an _impersonal reason_ than of my own?
How can I be more certain of the existence and the traditions of other
men, than of the facts of my own consciousness, and the spontaneous
convictions of my own understanding? or how can I be assured that, in
passing from the impersonal reason to the individual mind, from the
generic reason to the personal, the truth may not contract some taint of
weakness or impurity from the vessel in which it is ultimately
contained,--from the finite faculties by which alone it is apprehended
and believed?

The fact is that any attempt to prove the truth of our faculties must
necessarily fail. Did we set ourselves to the task of proving by
argument or by authority that we are not wrong in believing in our own
existence or that of an external world, or did we attempt to establish
the trustworthiness of our faculties by resolving it into the veracity
of God, our effort must needs be as abortive as it is superfluous, since
it involves the necessity not only of proving the fact, but of _proving
the proof itself_, and that, too, by the aid of the very faculties whose
trustworthiness is in question! There are certain ultimate facts beyond
which it is impossible to push our speculative inquiries; certain first
or fundamental principles of Reason, which are in themselves
indemonstrable, but which constitute the ground or condition of all
demonstration; certain intuitive perceptions, which are widely different
from rational deductions, but which determine and govern every process
of reasoning and every form of belief. To deny the _certainty_ of our
intuitive perceptions, merely because we cannot prove by argument the
truth of our mental faculties, would virtually amount to a rejection of
all evidence except such as comes to us only through _one_ channel, and
_that_ the circuitous one of a process of reasoning; while, by the
constitution of our nature, we are qualified and privileged to draw it
fresh, in many cases, at its spring and fountain-head. It may be as
impossible for man to prove the trustworthiness of his intellectual
faculties as it is for the bee to prove the truth of its marvellous
instinct; but, in either case, the reason may be that any such proof is
unnecessary, that it is superseded by the laws of Instinct in the one,
and by the laws of Thought in the other, and that by these laws a better
and surer provision is made for our guidance than any that could have
been found in a mere logical faculty,--a natural and irresistible
authority, which the Skeptic may dispute, but cannot destroy, and which,
however disowned in theory, must be practically obeyed.

It must be evident that the _various meanings_ which have been attached
to the term Certitude must materially affect both the statement and
solution of the general problem, and, more particularly, that they must
have an important bearing on the question, whether the doctrine which
affirms the Being, Perfections, and Providence of God, should be ranked
under the head of _certain_, or only of _probable_, truth. If, in making
use of the term Certitude, I mean to denote by it something different
from the certainty which belongs to the most assured convictions of the
human mind, something that arises, not from the spontaneous and direct
exercise of its faculties, but from a process of reflective thought or
philosophical speculation, something, in short, that is peculiar to the
metaphysical inquirer, and is not the common heritage of the race at
large; then, unquestionably, the problem, as thus understood, must leave
out of view many of the surest and most universal beliefs of
mankind,--beliefs which may be illustrated and confirmed by Philosophy,
but which are anterior to it in respect to their origin, and independent
of it in respect of the evidence on which they severally rest. In the
case of Certitude, just as in the case of every similar term expressive
of a simple, elementary idea, the ultimate appeal must be made to
individual consciousness. No one can convey to another a conception of
Certitude by means of words, apart from an experimental sense of it in
the mind of the latter, any more than he could give the idea of color to
the blind or of music to the deaf. It is because we have had experience
of it in our own breasts that we recognize and respond to the
descriptions which others give of it. Every one knows what it is to be
_certain_ in regard to many things, just because, constituted as he is,
he cannot doubt or disbelieve them. He is _certain_ of his own
existence, of the existence of other men, of the facts of his familiar
consciousness, of many events long since past which are still clearly
remembered, of certain abstract truths which are intuitively discerned
or logically demonstrated. These various objects of his thought may
differ in other respects, and may occasion a corresponding difference in
the _kind_ of Certitude which is conceived to belong to them; but they
all possess the same generic character, and admit, therefore, of being
classified under the same comprehensive category, as objects of our
_certain_ knowledge.

In the current use both of philosophical and popular language, Certitude
is spoken of in a twofold sense. We speak of a belief or conviction of
our own minds as possessing the character of Certitude, when it is so
strong, and so firmly rooted that it excludes all doubt or
hesitation;--we speak also of an object or event as possessing the same
character, when it is so presented to our minds as to produce the full
assurance of its reality. Hence the distinction between _subjective_ and
_objective_ Certitude. The former is a fact of consciousness; it is
simply the undoubting assent which we yield to certain judgments,
whether these judgments be true or false; it exists in us, and not in
the objects of thought; it denotes a condition of our minds, which may,
or may not, be in accordance with the actual state of things. The latter
is truth or certainty considered _objectively_, as existing in the
objects of our knowledge; it is independent of us and of our
conceptions; it is _as_ it is, whether it be known or unknown to us; our
belief cannot add to its reality, nor can our unbelief diminish or
destroy it. Certitude, considered as a mental state, denotes simply the
strength of our conviction or belief, as distinguished from doubt or
mere opinion; but, considered as an objective reality, it denotes the
ground or reason existing in the nature of things for the convictions
which we cherish. _Subjective certitude_ is not always the index or the
proof of _objective truth_, for men often believe with the strongest
assurance what they find reason afterwards to doubt or to disbelieve;
and the prevalence of many false beliefs, sincerely cherished and
zealously maintained, raises the question, how we may best discriminate
between truth and error? Hence the various theories of Certitude, and
hence also the antagonist theories of Skepticism.

The theories of Certitude may be reduced to _three_ classes. The _first_
places the ground of Certitude in _Reason_; the _second_ in _Authority_;
the _third_, in _Evidence_, including under that term both the external
manifestations of truth, and the internal principles or laws of thought
by which we are determined in forming our judgments in regard to them.
Each of these theories, however, has appeared in various phases in the
history of philosophical speculation. The Individual Reason of
Martineau, the Generic Reason of Lamennais, the Impersonal Reason of
Cousin, the Authority of the Race, and the Infallibility of the Church,
are specimens of these varieties.

The theory which places the principle of Certitude in REASON has assumed
at least two distinct shapes. In the one it discards all authority
except that of private judgment or individual reason; in the other it
appeals to a higher reason, which is said to be impersonal and
infallible, and which is supposed to regulate and determine the
convictions of the human mind. In the former shape, it appears in the
speculations of Martineau; in the latter, it is advocated by Cousin; and
in one or other of these shapes it constitutes the ground-principle of
RATIONALISM. The theory, again, which places the principle of Certitude
in AUTHORITY has also assumed two distinct shapes. In the one it speaks
of a universal consent or Generic Reason, the reason not of the
individual but of the race to which he belongs, and exhibits a singular
combination of the Philosophy of Common Sense as taught by Dr. Reid and
the Scottish School, with the principle of Authoritative Tradition as
taught in the Popish Church; in the other, it refers more specifically,
not to the infallibility of the race at large, but to the infallibility
of a select body, regularly organized and invested with peculiar powers,
into whose hands has been committed the sacred deposit and the sole
guardianship of truth, whether in matters of philosophy or faith. In
both forms it is presented in the writings of M. Gerbet and M.
Lamennais, and in both it is necessary for the full maintenance of the
Popish system of doctrine. The theory, again, which places the principle
of Certitude in EVIDENCE, admits of being exhibited in two very distinct
aspects. In the one, it has been treated as if Evidence were purely
_subjective_, as if it belonged exclusively to thought, and not to the
object of thought, or as if it depended solely on the perceptions of our
minds, and not at all on any objective reality which is independent of
them, and which is equally true whether it be perceived by our minds or
not. In this form it is a theory of Individualism, and has a strong
tendency towards Skepticism. In the other aspect, Evidence is regarded
as the sole and sufficient ground of Certitude, but it is viewed both
_objectively_ and _subjectively_;--_objectively_, as having its ground
and reason in a reality that is independent of our perceptions, and that
may or may not be perceived without being the less true or the less
certain in itself;--and yet _subjectively_ also, as being equally
dependent on certain principles of reason or laws of thought, without
which no external manifestation would suffice to create the ideas and
beliefs of the human mind, since the evidence which is exhibited
externally must not only exist, but must be perceived, discerned, and
appreciated, before it can generate belief: but when perceived, it
produces conviction, varying in different cases in degree, and amounting
in some to absolute certainty, which leaves no room either for denial or

Such are the three grand theories of Certitude, and the several distinct
forms or phases in which they have severally appeared. We have no
hesitation in declaring our decided preference for the second form of
the third theory,--that which resolves the principle or ground of
Certitude into EVIDENCE; but EVIDENCE considered both _objectively_ and
_subjectively_,--_objectively_, as that which exists whether it is
perceived or not, and is independent of the caprices of individual
minds, and _subjectively_, as that which must be discerned before its
proper impression can be produced, which must be judged of according to
the laws of human thought, and which, when so discerned and judged of,
imparts a feeling of assurance which no sophistry can shake and no
philosophy strengthen.

According to some recent theories, Certitude belongs to our knowledge,
only because that knowledge is derived from a reason superior to our
own,--a reason not personal, but universal, not individual but generic,
which, although not belonging to ourselves, is supposed to hold
communication with our minds: and if this were meant merely to remind us
of the limitation of our faculties, and of our consequent liability to
error, or even to teach us the duty of acknowledging our dependence on a
higher power, it might be alike unobjectionable and salutary; but when
it is applied to undermine the authority of private judgment and to
supersede the exercise of free inquiry, they have a tendency to excite
suspicion and distrust in every thoughtful mind. The capital error which
pervades all these speculations consists in not distinguishing aright
between the _evidence_ which constitutes the ground of our belief, and
the _faculty_ by which that evidence is discerned and appreciated. The
Generic Reason of Lamennais, as well as the uniform Tradition of the
Church, may constitute, when duly improved, a branch of the objective
evidence for the truth, and as such they have been applied even by
Protestant writers when they have appealed to _common consent_ as a
collateral proof, auxiliary to that which is more direct and conclusive;
but they cannot be regarded as the exclusive grounds of the certainty of
human knowledge, since this arises from the fundamental, universal, and
invariable laws of human thought.

       *       *       *       *       *

The term Skepticism, again, may denote either a mere _state of mind_,--a
state of suspense or doubt in regard to some particular fact or opinion;
or _a system of speculative philosophy_, relating to the principles of
human knowledge or the grounds of human belief. In the former sense, it
implies nothing more than the want of a sure and satisfactory conviction
of the truth on the particular point in question. Were it expressed in
words, it would simply amount to a verdict of "non liquet." In the
latter sense, it imports much more than this; it is not merely a _sense_
of doubt respecting any one truth, but a _system_ of doubt in regard to
the grounds of our belief in all truth, a subtle philosophy which seeks
to explain the phenomena of Belief by resolving them into their ultimate
principles, and which often terminates--in explaining them away. In both
forms, it has existed, either continuously or in ever-recurring cycles,
from the earliest dawn of speculative inquiry; and while it has seemed
to retard or arrest the progress of human knowledge, it has really been
overruled as a means of quickening the intellectual powers, and
imparting at once greater precision and comprehensiveness to the matured
results of Science.

Theoretical Skepticism may be divided into _three_ distinct branches:
First, Universal or Philosophical Skepticism, which professes to deny,
or rather to doubt the certainty of all human knowledge; secondly,
Partial or Religious Skepticism, which admits the possible certitude of
human knowledge in other respects, but holds that religious truth is
either altogether inaccessible to our faculties, or that it is not
supported by sufficient evidence; thirdly, a mongrel system, which
combines Philosophic Doubt with Ecclesiastical Dogmatism, and which may
be aptly characterized as the Skeptico-Dogmatic theory.[238]

We agree with Dr. Reid in thinking that Universal Skepticism is
unanswerable _by argument_, and can only be effectively met by an
_appeal to consciousness_.[239] It might be shown, indeed, that in so
far as it assumes, however slightly, the aspect of a positive or
dogmatic system, it is self-contradictory and absurd; it might also be
shown that doubt itself implies thought, and thought existence or
reality: but the ultimate appeal must be to the facts of human
consciousness, and the laws of thought which operate in every human
breast. And when such an appeal is made, we can have no anxiety in
regard to the result, nor any apprehension that philosophical skepticism
can ever become the prevailing creed of the popular mind. There is a
risk, however, of danger arising from a different source; it may not be
always remembered that the theory of Skepticism must be universal to be
either consistent or consequent; and hence it may be _partially applied_
to some truths, while it is practically abandoned in regard to other
truths, which are neither more certain nor less liable to objection than
the former. Thus the skeptical difficulties which have been raised
against the doctrines of Ontology are of such a kind that if they have
any validity or force, they bear as strongly against the reality of an
external world and the existence of our fellow-men, as against the
doctrine which affirms the being of God: yet many will be found urging
them against the latter doctrine, who do not profess to have any doubt
in regard to the two former; and it is of paramount importance to show
that this is a partial and therefore unfair application of their own
principles, and that they cannot consistently admit the one without also
admitting the other.

Atheism, in its skeptical form, must either be a mere _sense of doubt_
in regard to the sufficiency of the evidence in favor of the being and
perfections of God; or _a speculative system_, which attempts to justify
that doubt by some theory of philosophical skepticism, either partial or
universal. In the _latter_ case, it may be best dealt with by showing
that it affects the certainty of our common knowledge, not less than
that of our religious belief, and that we cannot consistently reject
Theology, and yet retain our convictions on other cognate subjects of
thought. In the _former_ case, it should be treated as a case of
ignorance, by illustrating the evidence, and urging it on the attention
of those who have hitherto been blind to its force; reminding them that
their _not seeing_ it is no proof that it does not exist, and that
_doubt_ itself on such a question, so nearly affecting their duty and
welfare, involves a solemn obligation to patient, candid, and
dispassionate inquiry.

"A skeptic in religion," says Bishop Earle, "is one that hangs in the
balance with all sorts of opinions, whereof not one but stirs him, and
none sways him. A man guiltier of credulity than he is taken to be; for
it is out of his belief of everything that he fully believes nothing.
Each religion scares him from its contrary, none persuades him to
itself.... He finds reason in all opinions, truth in none; indeed, the
least reason perplexes him, and the best will not satisfy him.... He
finds doubts and scruples better than resolves them, and is always _too
hard for himself_.... In sum, his whole life is a question, and his
salvation a greater, which death only concludes, and then he--is

This second phase or form of Skepticism, which we have designated as
_Partial_ or _Religious Skepticism_, admits the possible certitude of
human knowledge in other respects, and especially in regard to secular
and scientific pursuits, but holds that religious truth is either
altogether inaccessible to man with his present faculties, or that its
certainty cannot be evinced by any legitimate process of reasoning.

These two positions are in some respects widely different, although they
are often combined, and always conducive to the same result,--the
practical negation of Religion. Many who never dream of doubting the
certainty of human knowledge, in so far as it relates to their secular
or scientific pursuits, are prone to cherish a skeptical spirit in
regard to religious or spiritual truths; and this, not because they have
examined and weighed the evidence to which Theology appeals, and found
it wanting, but rather because they have a lurking suspicion that men,
with their present faculties, are incapable of rising to the knowledge
of supernatural things, and that they could attain to no certainty,
while they might expose themselves to much delusion, by entering on the
inquiry at all. This is their apology for _ignoring_ Religion
altogether, and contenting themselves with other branches of knowledge,
which are supposed to be more certain in themselves as well as more
conducive to their present welfare. In this respect, it is deeply
instructive to remark that Infidelity has been singularly at variance
with itself. At one time, in the age of Herbert, human reason was
extolled, to the disparagement of Divine Revelation; it was held to be
so thoroughly competent to deal with all the truths of Theology, and to
arrive, on mere natural grounds, at such an assured belief in them, that
no supernatural message was needed either to illustrate, or confirm, or
enforce the lessons of Nature: but now, when the lessons of Nature
herself are called in question, human reason is disparaged as
incompetent to the task of deciphering her dark hieroglyphics, and while
she can traverse with firm step every department of the material world,
and soar aloft, as on eagle's wings, to survey the suns and systems of
astronomy, she is held to be incapable alike of religious inquiry and of
divine instruction! There is, indeed, a striking contrast between the
high pretensions of Reason in matters of philosophy, and the bastard
humility which it sometimes assumes in matters of faith.

But there is another, and a still more subtle, form of Partial or
Religious Skepticism. It does not absolutely deny the possibility of
religious knowledge, nor does it dogmatically affirm that man, with his
present faculties, can have no religious convictions; it contents itself
with saying, and attempting to prove, that the certitude of religious
truth cannot be evinced by any legitimate process of reasoning. It
examines the proof, and detects flaws in it. It discusses, with a severe
and critical logic, the arguments that have been employed to establish
the first and most fundamental article of Theology, the existence of
God; and discarding them one by one, it reaches the conclusion that,
whether true or not, it cannot be proved. Strange as it may appear,
these sentiments have been embraced and avowed by men who still continue
to profess their belief in God and Religion. Some have held that proof
by reasoning is impossible, but only because it is superfluous. They
distinguish between _reason_ and _reasoning_; and hold that while the
latter is incompetent to the task of proving the existence of God, the
former spontaneously suggests the idea of a Supreme Cause, and imparts
to it all the certainty which belongs to a direct intellectual
intuition. Others distinguish between the _Speculative_ and the
_Practical_ Reason; and hold that while the former cannot prove by an
unexceptionable argument the existence of God, the latter affords a
sufficient groundwork for religious belief and worship. Others, again,
speak not so much of reason or reasoning, as of _sentiment and
instinct_, as the source of our religious beliefs; and instead of
addressing arguments to the understanding, they would make their appeal
to the feelings and affections of the heart. There is still another
class of writers who resolve all human knowledge, whether relating to
things secular or spiritual, into what they call the principle of faith
(_foi_), and to this class belong two distinct parties who are widely
different from each other in almost everything else. It is important,
therefore, to mark the radical difference between their respective
systems, since it is apt to be concealed or disguised by the ambiguous
use of the same phraseology by both. The one party may be described as
the disciples of a _Faith-Philosophy of Reason_, the other of a
_Faith-Philosophy of Revelation_: the former resolving all our knowledge
into the intuitive perceptions or first principles of the human
intellect, considered as a kind of divine and infallible, though natural
inspiration; the latter contending that in regard at least to the
knowledge of theological truth, human reason is utterly powerless, and
can only arrive at certainty by faith in the divine testimony. The two
are widely different, yet there are points of resemblance and agreement
betwixt them, and on this account they have sometimes been classed
together under a wide and sweeping generalization.

The form of Partial Skepticism to which these remarks apply is perhaps
more common than it is generally supposed to be. On what other
principle, indeed, can we account, at least in the case of religious
men, for the indifference and even aversion with which they turn away
from any attempt to prove by natural evidence the existence and
providence of God? The prevalence of such feelings even within the
Christian community has been admitted and deplored by one of the most
profound spiritual teachers of modern times;[241] and it can only be
explained, where Religion is cherished and professed, on the supposition
that they regard _proof by argument_ as superfluous, either because it
is superseded by the natural instincts and intuitions of the human mind,
or by the authoritative teaching of Divine Revelation. But it ought to
be seriously considered, on the one hand, that the instincts and
intuitions of human reason are not altogether independent of the natural
evidence which is exhibited in the constitution and course of Nature;
and, on the other hand, that Revelation itself refers to that natural
evidence, and recommends it to our careful and devout study.

Besides the theories of Partial Skepticism to which we have already
referred, there is a mongrel system which seems to combine the two
opposite extremes of Doubt and Dogmatism, and which, for that reason,
may be not inaptly designated as _Skeptico-Dogmatic_.[242] Ever since
the era of the Reformation, when the principle of free inquiry, and the
right or rather the duty of private judgment in matters of Religion,
were so strenuously affirmed and so successfully maintained, there has
been a standing controversy between the Popish and Protestant Churches
respecting the rival claims of Reason and Authority as the ultimate
arbiter on points of faith. Extreme opinions on either side were
advanced. One party, repudiating all authority, whether human or divine,
rejected alike the testimony of Scripture and the decrees of the Church,
and, receiving only what was supposed to be in accordance with the
dictates of Reason, sought to establish a scheme of Rationalism in
connection with at least a nominal profession of Christianity. The
opposite party, not slow to detect the error into which extreme
Protestants had fallen, and intent seemingly on fastening that error on
all who had separated themselves from the Catholic Church, affirmed and
endeavored to prove that Rationalism, in its most obnoxious sense, is
inherent in and inseparable from the avowed principles of the
Reformation, and that the recognition of the right of private judgment
is necessarily subversive of all authority in matters of faith. They did
not see, or if they did see, they were unwilling to acknowledge that
Rationalism is a very different thing from the legitimate use of Reason;
and that while the former repudiates all authority, whether human or
divine, the latter may bow with profound reverence to the supreme
authority of the Inspired Word, and even listen with docility to the
ministerial authority of the Church, in so far as her teaching is in
accordance with the lessons of Scripture. It may be safely affirmed that
the Confessions and Articles of all the Protestant Churches in Europe
and America do recognize the authority both of God and the Church, and
are as much opposed to Rationalism, considered as a system which makes
Reason the sole standard and judge, as they are to the opposite extreme
of lordly domination over the faith and consciences of men. But such a
controversy having arisen, it was to be expected that while eager
partisans, on the one side, might unduly exalt and extol the powers and
prerogatives of Reason, the adherents of Romanism, which claims the
sanction of infallibility for her doctrines and decrees, would be
tempted to follow an opposite course, and would seek to disparage the
claims of Reason with the view of exalting the authority of the Church.
Hence arose what has been called POPISH PYRRHONISM,--a system which
attempts to combine Doubt with Dogmatism, and to establish the certitude
of religious knowledge on the sole basis of authority, which is somehow
supposed to be more secure and stable when it rests on the ruins of
human reason. Not a few significant symptoms of a tendency in this
direction have appeared from age to age. It was apparent in some of the
writings, otherwise valuable, of Huet, Bishop of Avranches; some traces
of it are discernible in the profound "Thoughts of Pascal;" but it was
reserved for the present age to elaborate this tendency into a theory,
and to give it the form of a regular system. This task was fearlessly
undertaken by the eloquent but versatile Lamennais, while as yet he held
office in the Church, and was publicly honored as one who was worthy to
be called "the latest of the Fathers." His "Essay on Indifference in
Matters of Faith," exhibits many proofs of a profound and vigorous
intellect, and contains many passages of powerful and impressive
eloquence. We heartily sympathize with it in so far as it is directed
against that Liberalism which makes light of all definite articles of
faith; but we deplore the grievous error into which he has been seduced
by his zeal for the authority of the Church, when he attempts to
undermine the foundations of all belief in the trustworthiness of the
human faculties. In opposition to the claims of private judgment, he
contends for the necessity of a Reason more elevated and more general as
the only ground of Certitude, the supreme rule and standard of belief.
This normal Reason he finds in the doctrine and decrees of an Infallible
Church, wherever the Church is known; but where the Church is yet
unknown, or while it was yet non-existent in its present organized form,
he seeks this more general Reason in the common sense or unanimous
consent of the race at large, and affirms that this is the sole ground
of Certitude, and the ultimate standard of appeal in every question
respecting the truth or falsity of our individual opinions.[243] He
holds that the authority both of the Church and of the Race is
_infallible_; and that its infallibility neither requires nor admits of
proof.[244] With the view of establishing this one and exclusive
criterion of Certitude, he assails the evidence of sense, the evidence
of consciousness, the evidence of memory, the evidence even of axiomatic
truths and first principles, and involves everything except
ecclesiastical authority or general reason in the same abyss of
Skepticism.[245] He ventures even to affirm that "Geometry itself, the
most exact of all the Sciences, rests, like every other, on common
consent!" No wonder, then, that he should also found exclusively on
_authority_ our belief in the existence and government of God.

An intelligent member of his own communion propounds a very different,
and much more reasonable, opinion: "Il n'y a pas d'autorité morale qui
n'ait besoin de se prouver ellemême, d'une maniere quelconque, et
d'etablir sa legitimité. En definitive, c'est a l'individu qu'elle
s'addresse, car on ne croit pas par masse, on croit chacun pour soi.
L'individu reste donc toujours juge, et juge inevitable de l'autorité
intellectuelle qu'il accepte, ou de celle qui s'offre a lui. Nous
n'avons pas a examiner si cette disposition constitutive de l'esprit
humain est bonne ou mauvaise; la seule question que l'on en fait est
vaine et sterile. Nous sommes necessairement aménés par l'observation
physchologique a constater qu'il faut que l'homme croie a la fidelité du
temoignage de ses sens individuels, et à la valeur de sa raison
personelle, avant de faire un pas au-dela."[246]

We think it unnecessary to enter into a detailed discussion of this
strange and startling theory, especially as the altered position of the
writer in his relation to the Church before his death may be held to
indicate that to a large extent it had been abandoned by himself. Nor
should we have thought it worthy even of this transient notice, had we
not discerned symptoms of an incipient tendency in a similar direction
among some writers in the Protestant ranks. It should be remembered by
divines of every communion that the rational faculties of man and their
general trustworthiness are necessarily presupposed in any Revelation
which may be addressed to them; and that in Scripture itself frequent
appeals are made to the works of Creation and Providence, as affording
at once a body of natural evidence, and a signal manifestation of His
adorable perfections. It were a vain thing to hope that _faith in God_
may be strengthened by a spirit of _Skepticism_ in regard to Reason,
which constitutes part of His own image on the soul of man.

It is but common justice to add that the speculations of Lamennais, so
far from being sanctioned, were openly censured, by some of the most
distinguished of his fellow-ecclesiastics. Such writers as Valroger,
Gioberti, and the late Archbishop of Paris, gave forth their public
protest against them, and have thereby done much to vindicate their
Church from the imputation of conniving at the progress of Skepticism.

Valroger's testimony is strong and decided: "M. de Lamennais pretendait
que la raison individuelle est incapable de nous donner la Certitude.
Cette pretention est, suivant, nous absurde et funeste. N'est ce pas par
notre raison individuelle que la verité-arrivé a nous et devient notre
bien? Quel moyen plus immediat pourrons-nous avoir de saisir la verité?
Quel principe de connaisance ou de Certitude pourrait-on placer entre
nous et notre raison? Et comment pourrions-nous l'employer, si ce ne'est
avec notre raison? N'est ce pas une contradiction flagrante de vouloir
persuader quelque chose à des hommes que l'on a declarés incapables de
connaitre certainement quoi que ce soit? A quoi bon une methode, une
autorité infaillible, un enseignement Divin, si nous n'avons que des
facultés trompeuses pour user de ces secours? Nous croyons, nous, que la
raison individuelle peut connaitre avec certitude toutes les verités
necessaires à l'accomplissement de notre destinée. Si nous avons besoin
de la Grace, de la Revelation, de la Tradition, et de l'Eglise pour
atteindre le bût supreme de notre vie,--sur une foule de questions
subalternes, nous peuvons arriver a une certitude complete, sans
recourir à aucune exterieure, à aucun secours surnaturel."[247]

Gioberti is equally explicit: "M. de Lamennais dans sa theorie sur la
Certitude, confond les deux methodes, Ontologique et Physiologique; il
les rejette toutes les deux, et leur substitue la seule methode
d'Autorité. Mais la methode d'Autorité est impossible sans un fondement
Ontologique, et c'est une manifeste petition de principe que d'etabler
l'Ontologie sur l'Autorité."[248]

And the late Archbishop of Paris,--the same who fell before the
barricades, a martyr to Charity if not to Truth, and who seems to have
had a wakeful eye on the progress of philosophic speculation,--took
occasion, in a preface to the Abbé Maret's "Theodicée," to declare that
Lamennais' system was obnoxious to the Church, because of its opposition
to the doctrine of Rational Certitude: "Tout le monde sait que le clergé
de France avait repoussé le systeme de M. de Lamennais precisément à
cause de son opposition a la Certitude Rationnelle constanment professée
dans nos ecoles; et tout le monde peu savoir que les Bossuet, les
Fenelon, les Descartes out raisonné, et que nous aussi nous raisonnons
et discutons avec nos accusateurs," ... "preuve irrécusable que LE

PERRONE has given a similar testimony, and we cannot doubt that the more
thoughtful adherents of Romanism must be sensible of the danger which is
involved in any attempt to combine Rational Skepticism with Dogmatic

It were well, however, if they would reconsider their position with
reference to this whole question, in its more general bearings in
conection with their doctrine as to the rule of faith; and weigh, with
candid impartiality, the arguments which have been adduced by Protestant
writers on the subject.[250]


[233] M. A. FRANCK, "Rapport," Paris, 1847. M. A. JAVARY, "Ouvrage
Couronné par l'Institut," 1847.

[234] M. ED. MERCIER, "De la Certitude, dans ses Rapports avec la
Science et la Foi," 1844. M. A. VERA, "Problème de la Certitude," 1843.
ABBÉ GERBET, "Des Doctrines Philosophiques sur la Certitude, dans leur
Rapports avec les Fondemens de la Theologie." ABBÉ DE LAMENNAIS, "Du
Fondement de la Certitude," 1826. Vols. II. and III. of the "Essai sur
l'Indifference en Matiére de la Religion." 4 vols., 1844.

[235] M. FRANCK, p. 237. M. JAVARI, p. 28.

[236] AMAND SAINTE, "Vie de Spinoza," p. 201. ABBÉ LAMENNAIS, "Essai sur
l'Indifference," IV. 256.

[237] FENELON, "Oeuvres Spirituelles," I. _138_.

[238] SEXTUS EMPIRICUS, "Adversus Mathematicos," that is,
Dogmaticos--teachers of [Greek: mathêmata]. GLANVILLE, "Scepsis
Scientifica." HUME, and MONTAIGNE, "Essays." H. O'CONNOR, "Connected
Essays and Tracts." VILLEMANDY, "Scepticismus Debellatus; seu, Humanæ
Cognitionis Ratio ab imis radicibus explicata; ejusdem Certitudo
adversus Scepticos quosque veteres ac novos invicte asserta." LAMENNAIS,
"Essai sur l'Indifference."

[239] DR. REID, Essays,--"On First Principles," II. 249-252, 293, 300.
SIR WM. HAMILTON, "Reid," pp. 91, 101, 109.

[240] BISHOP EARLE, "Microcosmography," p. 120.

[241] DR. JOHN LOVE, of Glasgow, "Discourses."

[242] COUSIN, "Cours," II. 420, 422. MORELL, "History of Philosophy," I.
251; II. 221, 505, 522. SPINOZA, "Tractatus Theolog.-Polit.," p. 267.
LAMENNAIS, "Essai sur l'Indifference," _passim_.

[243] LAMENNAIS, "Essai," II. 6, 7, 52, 60, 258.

[244] Ibid., II. 9, 97, 110.

[245] LAMENNAIS, "Essai," II. 59, 72, 75, 78, 80, 84, 94; IV. 255.

[246] BOUCHITTÉ, "Histoire des Preuves," p. 478.

[247] VALROGER, "Etudes Critiques," p. 574.

[248] GIOBERTI, "Introduction a l'Etude de la Philosophie," I. 592.

[249] MARET, "Theodicée," Preface, p. VIII.

[250] LA PLACETTE, "De Insanabill Romanæ Ecclesiæ Scepticismo."



Such is the new name under which Atheism has recently appeared among not
a few of the tradesmen and artisans of the metropolis and provincial
towns of Great Britain. In literature, it is represented by Mr. G. J.
Holyoake, the author of an answer to Paley, the editor of "The
Reasoner," and a popular lecturer and controversialist, whose public
discussions are duly reported in that periodical, and occasionally
reprinted in a separate form.[251] The extensive circulation which these
and similar tracts have already obtained, the number of affiliated
societies which have been formed in many of the chief centres of
manufactures and commerce, the zeal and boldness of popular itinerant
lecturers, and the urgent demands which have been incessantly made for
the extension of their machinery by means of a _propaganda_ fund, are
all indications of a tendency, in some quarters, towards a form of
unbelief, less speculative and more practical, but only on that account
more attractive to the English mind, and neither less insidious nor
less dangerous than any of the philosophical theories of Atheism.

We have often thought, indeed, that should Atheism ever threaten to
become prevalent in England, this is the form which it is most likely to
assume. The English mind is eminently practical; it has little sympathy
with the profundity of German or the subtlety of French speculation on
such subjects. A few speculative spirits may be influenced for a time by
the reasonings of Comte, or the representations of "The Vestiges;" but
the general mind of the community will desiderate something more solid
and substantial; not content with any scientific theory, however
ingenious, it will demand a practical system. And we are not sure that
"Secularism" may not be made to appear, in the view of some, to be just
such a system, since it dismisses or refuses to pronounce on many of the
highest problems of human thought, insists on the necessary limitation
of the human faculties, and seeks to confine both our aspirations and
our thoughts to the interests and the duties of the present life. In
estimating the probable influence of such a system on the public mind,
we must not forget the large amount of practical irreligion which exists
even in England, the strong temptation which is felt by many to escape
from their occasional feelings of remorse and fear by embracing some
plausible pretext for the neglect of prayer and other religious
observances, and the disposition, natural and almost irresistible in
such circumstances, to lend a willing ear to any doctrine which promises
to relieve them of all responsibility with relation to God and a future
state. The theory of Secularism is adapted to this state of mind; it
chimes in with the instinctive tendencies of every ungodly mind; and it
is the likeliest medium through which _practical Atheism_ may pass into
_speculative Infidelity_.

Mr. Holyoake, it is true, abjures the name both of an _Atheist_ and
_Infidel_. We admire the prudence of his policy, but cannot subscribe to
the correctness of his reasons for doing so. "Mr. Southwell," he says,
"has taken an objection to the term Atheism. We are glad he has. We have
disused it a long time.... We disuse it, because Atheist is a worn-out
word. Both the ancients and the moderns have understood by it _one
without God, and also without morality_. Thus the term connotes more
than any well-informed and earnest person accepting it ever included in
it; that is, the word carries with it associations of immorality, which
have been repudiated by the Atheist as seriously as by the Christian.
Non-theism is a term less open to the same misunderstanding, as it
implies the simple non-acceptance of the Theist's explanation of the
origin and government of the world."[252]

But "Non-theism" was afterwards exchanged for "Secularism," as a term
less liable to misconstruction, and more correctly descriptive of the
real import of the theory. "_Secularists_ was, perhaps, the proper
designation of all who dissented extremely from the religious opinions
of the day."--"Freethinking is the _Secular_ sphere; drawing its line of
demarcation between time and eternity, it works _for the welfare of man
in this world_"--"The _Secularist_ is the larger and more comprehensive
designation of the Atheist."[253] With all this coyness and
fastidiousness about names, there can be no doubt that the character of
the system is essentially atheistic: "We refuse to employ the term God,
not having any definite idea of it which we can explain to others,--not
knowing any theory of such an existence as will enable us to defend that
dogma to others. We therefore prefer the honest, though unusual
designation of Atheist; not using it in the sense in which it is
commonly employed, as signifying _one without morality_, but in its
stricter sense of describing those _without any determinate knowledge of
Deity_."[254] "That the Atheist does consider matter to be eternal is
perfectly correct; and for this reason, no Atheist could make use of
such a term as that matter _originally_ possessed, or _originally_ was;
whatever is eternal has no origin, beginning, or end.... Organized
plants and animals--man also with his noble intellect--are not _now_ at
least produced by supernatural causes; and the Atheist, without
positively asserting that there _must_ have been a beginning to life in
this earth, argues that if a plant, an animal, or a man, can be produced
at this time without supernatural interference, so also a first plant, a
first animal, or a first man, may have been naturally produced in this
earth under the right circumstances,--circumstances which probably
cannot occur in the present condition of our globe. Our difficulties and
our ignorance are not in the least dispelled, but on the contrary
complicated and increased, by the adoption of the ancient belief in a
Supernatural Contriver and Maker, who, after existing from eternity in
absolute void and solitude, suddenly proceeded to create the universe
out of nothing or out of himself."[255] The editor thinks "the course to
be taken is to use the term Secularists as indicating general views, and
accept the term Atheist at the point at which Ethics declines alliance
with Theology; always, however, explaining the term Atheist to mean 'not
seeing God,' visually or inferentially; never suffering it to be taken
(as Chalmers, Foster, and many others represent it) for Anti-theism,
that is, hating God, denying God, as _hating_ implies personal knowledge
as the ground of dislike, and _denying_ implies infinite knowledge as
the ground of disproof."[256]

These extracts are sufficient to illustrate the peculiar character of
this popular form of Infidelity. It is not a philosophical system,
although philosophical terms are often employed by its advocates; it
does not even profess to solve, as the theory of Development does, any
of the great problems of Nature. We shall offer a brief statement of its
distinctive peculiarities, as it is developed by Mr. Holyoake, and
suggest some considerations which should be seriously pondered by those
who may be tempted to exchange Christianity for Secularism.

1. The theory of Secularism is a form, not of _dogmatic_, but of
_skeptical_, Atheism; it is dogmatic only in _denying the sufficiency of
the evidence_ for the being and perfections of God. It does not deny, it
only does not believe, His existence. There may be a God
notwithstanding; there may even be sufficient evidence of His being,
although some men cannot, or will not, see it. "They do not deny the
existence of God, but only assert that they have not sufficient proof of
His existence."[257] "The Non-theist takes this ground. He affirms that
natural reason has _not yet_ attained to (evidence of) Supernatural
Being. He does not deny that it _may do so_, because the capacity of
natural reason in the pursuit of evidence of Supernatural Being is not,
so far as he is aware, fixed."--"The power of reason is yet a growth. To
deny its power absolutely would be hazardous; and in the case of a
speculative question, not to admit that the opposite views may in some
sense be tenable, is to assume your own infallibility,--a piece of
arrogance the public always punish by disbelieving you when you are in
the right."[258] Accordingly the thesis which Mr. Holyoake undertook to
maintain in public discussion was couched in these terms:--"That we have
_not sufficient evidence_ to believe in the existence of a Supreme Being
independent of Nature;"[259] and so far from venturing to deny His
existence, he makes the important admission, that "_denying implies
infinite knowledge as the ground of disproof_."

It is admitted, then, by the Secularist himself,--that there _may be_ a
God,--that there may be evidence of His existence,--that it may yet be
discovered in the progress of natural reason,--and that to deny any one
of these possibilities would be to assume "infallibility," or to
arrogate "infinite knowledge as the ground of disproof." Now, we humbly
conceive that there is enough in these admissions, if not to disarm the
Secular polemic, yet to shut up every seriously reflecting man, not,
perhaps, to the instant recognition of a Divine Being, but certainly to
the duty of earnest, patient, and persevering inquiry. It was with this
view that both Chalmers and Foster penned those powerful passages which
seem to have left some impression on the mind even of Mr. Holyoake, not
for the purpose, as he seems to imagine, of confounding Atheism with
Anti-theism, but for the very opposite purpose of discriminating between
the two, so as to show that, the one being impossible, the _other_ can
afford no security against the possible truth of Religion. And every
word of warning which they convey should tell with powerful effect on
Mr. Holyoake's conscience, after the admissions which he has
deliberately made, especially when he is engaged in the cheerless task
of undermining the faith of multitudes in their "Father which is in

Dr. Chalmers devotes a chapter of his "Natural Theology" to illustrate
"the duty which is laid upon men by the _possibility_ or even the
_imagination_ of a God." He does not overlook, on the contrary he founds
upon, the distinction between Skeptical and Dogmatic Atheism. "Going
back," he says, "to the very earliest of our mental conceptions on this
subject, we advert first to the distinction, in point of real and
logical import, between unbelief and disbelief. There being no ground
for affirming that there is a God, is a different proposition from there
being ground for affirming that there is no God.... The Atheist does not
labor to demonstrate that there is no God; but he labors to demonstrate
that there is no adequate proof of there being one. He does not
positively affirm the position, that God is not; but he affirms the lack
of evidence for the position, that God is. Judging from the tendency and
effect of his arguments, an Atheist does not appear positively to refuse
that a God may be; but he insists that He has not discovered Himself,
whether by the utterance of His voice in audible revelation, or by the
impress of His hand upon visible nature. His verdict on the doctrine of
a God is only that it is not proven; it is not, that it is disproven. He
is but an Atheist: he is not an Anti-theist."

Mr. Holyoake can scarcely fail to recognize in these words a correct and
graphic delineation of his own position and sentiments. Now, says Dr.
Chalmers, "there is a certain _duteous_ movement which the mind _ought_
to take, on the bare suggestion that a God _may be_.... The certainty of
an actual God binds over to certain distinct and most undoubted
proprieties. But so also may the imagination of a possible God; in which
case, the very idea of a God, even in its most hypothetical form, might
lay a _responsibility even upon Atheists_.... The very idea of a God
will bring along with it an instant sense and recognition of the
moralities and duties that would be owing to Him. Should an actual God
be revealed, we clearly feel that there is a something which we _ought_
to be and to do in regard to Him. But more than this: should a possible
God be imagined, there is a something not only which we feel that we
_ought_, but there is a something which we actually ought to do or to
be, in consequence of our being visited by such an imagination.... To
this condition there attaches a most clear and incumbent morality. It is
to go in quest of that unseen Benefactor, who, for aught I know, has
ushered me into existence, and spread so glorious a panorama around me.
It is to probe the secret of my being and my birth; and, if possible, to
make discovery whether it was indeed the hand of a Benefactor that
brought me forth from nonentity, and gave me place and entertainment in
that glowing territory which is lighted up with the hopes and happiness
of living men. It is thus that _the very conception of a God throws a
solemn responsibility after it_."[260]

It is a dangerous mistake, then, to imagine either that we can ever know
_that there is no God_, or that we can get rid of all responsibility by
merely _doubting_ His existence. Atheism, in so far as it is _dogmatic_,
must, in his own language, "arrogate infinite knowledge as the ground of
disproof;" and in so far as it is merely _skeptical_, it can afford no
security against the fears and forebodings which _doubt_ on such a
subject must necessarily awaken in every thoughtful mind. And this
consideration will become only the more solemn and impressive the longer
we reflect upon it. Mr. Holyoake, however, is far from being consistent
in his various statements on this subject. For not content with saying,
"Most decidedly I believe that the present order of Nature is
insufficient to prove the existence of an intelligent Creator," he adds
that "_no imaginable order_, that no contrivance, however mechanical,
precise, or clear, would be sufficient to prove it."[261] At one time he
tells us that "an increasing party respectfully and deferentially avow
their inability to subscribe to the arguments supposed to establish the
existence of a Being distinct from Nature." At another, "We have always
held that the existence of Deity is 'past finding out,' and we have held
that the time employed upon the investigation might more profitably be
devoted to the study of humanity." Again, "That central point in all
religious belief--the existence of God--has not yet been approached in a
frank spirit. The very terms of the assertion are as _yet_ an enigma in
language, the fact is _yet_ a problem in philosophy; the world possesses
_as yet_ no adequate logic for that province of our speculation which
lies beyond our immediate experience."[262] "Man must die to solve the
problem of Deity's existence."[263] "The existence of God is a problem
to which the mathematics of human intelligence _seems to me_ to furnish
no solution,"[264] "a problem without a solution, a hieroglyphic without
an interpretation, a gordian knot still untied, a question unanswered, a
thread still unravelled, a labyrinth untrod."[265] That there is here a
strong expression of Skeptical Atheism is evident; but is there not
something more? Does not Skeptical Atheism insensibly transform itself
into Dogmatic, when doubt respecting the sufficiency of the evidence is
combined with a denial of the possibility of any satisfactory proof, or
of the capacity of the human mind to reach it, here or hereafter? Yet
the plea is the want of sufficient evidence now; and this plea is urged
in connection with the admission that "the power of reason is yet a
growth," and that although "it has not yet attained to evidence of
Supernatural Being," the denial of it "would imply infinite knowledge as
the ground of disproof." Mr. Holyoake does not deny that there _may be_
a God, distinct from Nature and superior to it; but he denies, first of
all, the sufficiency of the evidence to which we appeal, embracing here
that form of Atheism which is merely skeptical; and he denies, secondly,
the possibility of any sufficient proof, for "no imaginable order would
be sufficient," and the whole "subject exceeds human comprehension,"
embracing, in this instance, that form of Atheism which is strictly
dogmatic, if not in affirming that there is no God, yet in affirming
that it is impossible He can ever be known to exist. What then becomes
of his cautious limitations,--"The fact is _yet_ a problem in
philosophy."--"The world possesses as _yet_ no adequate logic for that
province of speculation"--"Men must die to solve the problem of Deity's
existence?" Is it still a problem, and one, too, which may after all be
solved, and solved even in the affirmative? If it be, why may it not be
solved before death? or what _other_ evidence will there be after death?
And as to the plea of insufficient evidence, what is its precise
meaning? Does it mean merely that it has hitherto failed to convince
himself and his associates? If so, how can he tell that it may not yet
flash upon him with irresistible power, and that he too, like his former
associate, Mr. Knight, may be able to say, "By the blessing of God, the
exercise of those mental powers which He has bestowed upon me has led me
to the conclusion that He exists. There is a God."[266] If it means more
than this, will he say that it is insufficient for others as well as for
him? But why, if others believe on the ground of that evidence, and if,
according to his favorite theory, belief is _the inevitable_ result of
evidence? Is his belief, or theirs, the measure of truth? Does he not
know that multitudes have passed through the same dreary shade of
unbelief in which he is still involved, and have afterwards emerged into
the clear light of faith, discovering what they now wonder they had
overlooked before, and saying with heartfelt humility and gratitude,
"One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see"?[267] But what
has their belief, or his unbelief, to do with the great, the momentous
fact? The truth, whatever it be, is independent of both: and it is the
_truth_, and not our apprehensions of it, it is the _evidence_, and not
our belief or doubt, that is the subject of inquiry. Will it be
affirmed, then, either that the supposed existence of God is
intrinsically incredible, and as such incapable of proof, or that the
evidence is insufficient, in the sense of being illogical and
inconclusive? This is the ultimate ground of atheistic unbelief, and
here the Skeptical unites and blends with the Dogmatic form of

But when driven to this last resort, and before taking up the position
which it is concerned to defend, Secularism puts forth certain
preliminary pleas, partly in the way of self-defence, and partly with
the view of exciting prejudice against the cause of Theism.[268] "I make
no pretence," says Mr. Holyoake, "to account for everything. I do not
pretend to account for what I find in Nature. I do not feel called upon
to account for it. I do not know that I am required to account for it."
... "A man will come to me and say, Can you account for this? Can you
account for that? Now he expects me to tell him all about everything,
just as though I was present at the beginning of Nature, and knew all
its manifestations. If I cannot do it, he will not admit my plea of
ignorance;--he will not admit the propriety of my saying, I do not
know." He is not bound to explain either the past or the future: "What
went before and what will follow me I regard as two black impenetrable
curtains, which hang down at the two extremities of human life, and
which no living man has yet drawn aside.... A deep silence reigns behind
this curtain; no one once within will answer those he has left without;
all you can hear is a hollow echo of your question, as if you shouted
into a chasm."[269] And can a mind that is capable of writing thus be
content to discard Religion from his thoughts on the sorry pretext that
he is not bound to account for the phenomena of Nature? One would expect
at least a thoughtful, serious, and earnest spirit, even were it a
spirit of doubt, in one surrounded with such solemn mysteries, gazing on
these black impenetrable curtains, listening to the hollow echo from
that awful chasm: nay, that seriousness might be expected to deepen into
sadness, too intensely real to be soothed by the plea of ignorance, or
assuaged otherwise than by the light of truth. But to say, "I do not
pretend to account for what I find in Nature," what is this but to
discard the whole question, to give it up as one insoluble, at least _by
him_, and to leave to others the problems which have ever exercised the
noblest and most gifted minds? Mr. Holyoake is not bound, indeed, to
explain everything, and he mistakes if he supposes that any one expects
this at his hand. There are many subjects on which even a man of science
must ingenuously confess his ignorance, and many more so little
connected with the interests and duties of life as to have only a very
slight claim on his interest and attention. But Religion is not one of
these: it is so closely related to the welfare and the duty of men, and
has such a direct bearing on the conscience, that it demands and
deserves the serious attention of all; and no one who undertakes to
instruct his fellow-men, and especially when he attempts to overthrow
their most sacred convictions, is entitled to turn round and say, "I do
not pretend to account for what I find in Nature." He is bound to give
some intelligible answer to the question, What is the cause of these
marvellous phenomena which I behold? and what is the ground of that
religious belief which has always prevailed in the world?

But Mr. Holyoake is deterred from any attempt to answer such questions
by its amazing presumption: "The assumption is,--we may look through
Nature up to Nature's God. That seems to me to imply a power, a
capacity, an endowment, which repels me at the outset. If we are to deal
with the common sense of probability, I say I am repelled by the amazing
probability which is against me if I am to deal with the assumption of
distinctness,--that I can look from Nature up to Nature's God. Why, in
the presence of this shadowy form of things, before which all men stand
in awe and dread, in the presence of so many mysteries and marvels which
art is unable to unravel, which philosophy is unable to explain, it
seems to me an immense endowment when a man can say with confidence, I
look through Nature, and beyond Nature, up to Nature's God. I say the
presumption of the thing does repel me."--"Let the profound sense of our
own littleness, which here creeps in upon us, check the dogmatic spirit
and arrest the presumptuous world; we stand in the great presence of
Nature, whose inspiration should be that of modesty, humility, and
love."--"When my friend talks so much about matter, ... his reasoning
proceeds upon this very great hypothesis, namely, that _he knows_ all
that matter can do, and all that it cannot do. If he does not know that,
I wonder by what right he says so plainly that the wonders he observes
in Nature are not the work of Nature, but of some Being above Nature.
That which repels me from that aspect of the argument is its amazing
presumption, the amount of knowledge it implies."[270] Foster's argument
against Dogmatic Atheism seems to have made some impression on Mr.
Holyoake, since he makes the important admission that "the denial of a
God implies infinite knowledge as the ground of disproof," but it is
here retorted against Dogmatic Theism; and Unbelief, at other times so
arrogant in its pretensions, so confident in the powers of reason, and
so proud of the prerogatives of man, borrows the cloak of modesty from
the wardrobe of true science, and assumes an attitude of deep humility.
At other times Mr. Holyoake does not scruple to sit in judgment on what
God,--supposing such a Being to exist,--could or could not do; on what
He could or could not permit to be done;--He could not create a moral
and responsible agent, and leave him to fall; He could not require or
receive any satisfaction for sin; He could not hear or answer the
prayers of his people; He could not inflict penal suffering, or allow it
to be permanent. There is no presumption, it would seem, in determining
what God could or could not do; but "when we stand in the great presence
of Nature," her inspiration should be "that of modesty and humility."
But presumption does not consist in looking at what we can see, or
aiming to know what may be known; and it is a bastard humility, not the
true modesty of science, which would turn away from the contemplation of
any truth, however sublime, that is exhibited in the light of its
appropriate evidence. We are not concerned to deny that it is "a great
endowment" which enables men to discern in Nature a manifestation of
God; it is a great endowment, but not too great for the mind of man, if
he was made in "the image and likeness of God;" a small mirror may
reflect the sun. Is it presumptuous in the mind of man to scale the
heavens, and trace the planets in their course, and calculate their
distances, their orbits, and their motions in the illimitable fields of
space? And if the sublime truths of Astronomy are not interdicted to our
faculties, simply because there is a natural evidence in the light of
which they may be clearly discerned, why should it be presumptuous to
look from Nature up to Nature's God, if in Nature we behold a mirror in
which His perfections are displayed? If there be presumption on either
side, does it not lie rather with those who virtually deny _the power of
God to make Himself known_,--His power to create a world capable of
exhibiting His perfections, and a mind adapted to that world capable of
discerning the perfections which are therein displayed? There might be
modesty, there might be humility in the ingenuous confession of
ignorance, saying, "I do not know;" but there can be neither in the
confidence which affirms that "no imaginable order would be sufficient"
to prove the existence of God, for what is this but to say that "he
knows all that matter _can_ do, and all that it _cannot_ do," or be made
to do?

2. Secularism admits the existence of a self-existent and eternal
Being, and thereby recognizes the fundamental law of _Causality_ on
which the Theistic proof depends, while it forces upon us the question
whether these attributes should be ascribed to Nature or to God.

"I am driven," says Mr. Holyoake, "to the conclusion that the great
aggregate of matter which we call 'nature' is eternal, because we are
unable to conceive a state of things when nothing was. There must always
have been something, or there could be nothing now. This the dullest
feel. Hence we arrive at the idea of the eternity of matter. And in the
_eternity_ of matter we are assured of the self-existence of matter, and
self-existence is the most _majestic of attributes_, and _includes all
others_."[271] "If Natural Theologians were content to stop where they
prove a _superior something_ to exist, Atheists might be content to stop
there too, and allow Theologians to dream in quiet over their barren
foundling."[272] "If I supposed that the Christian meant no more than
that something exists independently of Nature, that it may be boundless,
that it may be limited, that it may be one, that it may be many beings,
if I supposed nothing more than that was meant, then surely I would not
occupy your time or my own in discussing a question so barren of
practical consequences."--"If we reason about it, unless we take refuge
in the idea of a creation which we cannot understand, we must come to
the conclusion that _Nature is self-existent_, and that attribute is so
majestic,--the power of being independent of any ruler,--the power of
being independent of the law of other beings,--seems so majestic as
fairly to be supposed to _include all others_; for that which has power
_to be_ has power _to act_, for the power to be is the most majestic of
all forms of action."[273]

It is here admitted that there must be a self-existent, independent,
and eternal Being, that self-existence is an attribute so majestic that
it may be fairly said to include all others, that the Being to whom it
belongs is exempt from the conditions of other beings, and that the
power _to act_ is involved in the power _to be_. It is assumed, indeed,
that these attributes may belong to Nature, and that Nature is mere
matter; but, reserving this point for the present, are we not warranted
in saying that his doctrine, as stated by himself, involves the same
profound mysteries, and is embarrassed by the same difficulties, which
are often urged as objections to the theory of Religion, and that it is,
at the very least, as _incomprehensible_, as the doctrine which affirms
the existence of God? Suppose there were simply an equality in this
respect between the Theistic and Atheistic hypothesis, that both were
alike incomprehensible and incapable of an adequate explanation, still
the former might be more credible and more satisfactory to reason than
the latter, since in the one we have an intelligent and designing Cause,
such as accounts for the existence of other minds and the manifold marks
of design in Nature, whereas in the other all the phenomena of thought,
and feeling, and volition, as well as all the instances of skilful
adjustment and adaptation, must be resolved into the power of
self-existent, but unintelligent and unconscious matter.

Further it is admitted, not only that we may, but that we _must_,
proceed on the principle of Causality, the fundamental axiom of
Theology; for "there _must_ always have been something, or there _could
be_ nothing now." This principle or law of human thought leads him up to
a region which far transcends his present sensible experience, and
guides him to the stupendous height of self-existent and eternal Being.
It is assumed and applied to prove the self-existence and eternity of
matter. But if it be a valid principle of reason, its application may be
equally legitimate when it is employed, in conjunction with the manifest
evidence of _moral_ as distinct from _physical_ causation, to prove the
self-existence and eternity of a supreme intelligent Cause. A principle
such as this cannot, from its very nature, be limited within the range
of our present sensible experience. We are told, indeed, that "if we
look over the nature of our own impressions, we find we always shall
begin with things which lie below reason, with things plainer than
reason, with things which need no demonstration. Such is the nature of
the human mind, that we all begin in this sphere of equal knowledge, we
begin under the dominion of the senses, and whatever comes within that
wants no demonstration, wants no proof, wants no logic; it is the
constant, it is the most indubitable, it is the most indisputable of all
our knowledge. And if the question of the being of a God came within
that sphere, if it was found amongst those indisputable truths, if it
was found to be a matter of sense, then there would be no occasion for
us to reason at all about it: it could not be a matter of controversy,
because it never would be a matter of dispute."[274] Certain first
principles of reason are admitted, but only, it would seem, with
reference to matters of sense; but why, if there be such a principle of
reason as compels the Atheist himself to acknowledge a Self-existent and
Eternal Being? Is this a matter of sense? Is it not a conclusion of
reason,--founded, no doubt, on present sensible experience, but far
transcending it,--and yet self-evident and irresistible as intuition
itself? And if reason may thus rise from the contingent and variable to
the conception and belief of the self-existent and eternal, why may it
not be equally valid as a proof of a supreme, intelligent First Cause?

Speaking of Nature as self-existent and eternal, Mr. Holyoake ascribes
such attributes to it as might seem to imply a leaning towards
Pantheism, rather than the colder form of mere material Atheism. "It
seems to me," he says, "that Nature and God are one; in other words,
that the God whom we seek is the Nature whom we know." But he afterwards
states, with clearness and precision, in what respects Secularism
accords with, and differs from, Pantheism: "The term, God, seems to me
inapplicable to Nature. In the mouth of the Theist, God signifies an
entity, spiritual and percipient, distinct from matter. With Pantheists,
the term God signifies the aggregate of Nature,--but Nature as _a being,
intelligent and conscious_. It is my inability to subscribe to either of
these views which constitutes me an Atheist. I cannot rank myself with
the Theists, because I can conceive of nothing beyond Nature, distinct
from it, and above it.... The Theist, therefore, I leave; but while I go
with the Pantheist so far as to accept the fact of Nature in the
plenitude of its diverse, illimitable, and transcendent manifestations,
I cannot go further and predicate with the Pantheist _the unity of its
intelligence and consciousness_!"[275] He holds, therefore, that
self-existence is an attribute of Nature, that this attribute is so
majestic that it may be fairly held to include _all others_, and that,
while intelligence and consciousness exist, he cannot affirm their
_unity_ in Nature, or regard "Nature as a being, intelligent and
conscious." Whence it follows that he can give no other account of the
living, intelligent, active, and responsible beings which inhabit the
world, than that they came into existence, he knows not how, and that
they have the ultimate ground of their existence in a necessary,
underived, and eternal being, which is neither intelligent nor

3. Secularism seeks to invalidate the proof from _marks of design_ in
Nature by attempting to show, either that it is _merely analogical_, and
can, therefore, afford no certainty, or that, if it were certain, it
could prove nothing, because, by an extension of the same principle, it
must prove too much.

Such is the pith and substance of Mr. Holyoake's argument in his
singular pamphlet entitled, "Paley refuted in his own Words." He first
of all endeavors to invalidate the proof from design by assuming that it
is a mere argument from _analogy_, and that at the best analogy can
afford no ground of _certainty_, although it may possibly suggest a
_probable conjecture_: "It may be said that _analogy_ fails to find out
God, and this must be admitted, it being no more than was to be
expected. The God of Theology being infinite, it is no subject for
analogy.... No conceivable analogy can prove a creation. Creation is
without an analogy.... No analogy can prove creation, because no analogy
can prove what it does not contain, namely, an example of
creation."[276] "Analogy, the specious precursor of reason, would
suggest the personality of the powers which awed and cheered man. Reason
sends us to facts as the only positive grounds of positive conclusions;
but in the childhood of intellect and experience, _likelihood_ is
mistaken for _certainty_, and _probability_ for _fact_. In the disturbed
reflection of man's image on the wall, as it were, of the universe,
arose the idea of God." ... "I say, if that is all you mean by your
argument, that it is _merely a matter of analogy_, if it is only a
matter of partial resemblance, I say you can get from it no complete
proof; that if you merely found it upon partial resemblance, there is no
demonstration there whatever, and your cause is no better, no sounder
than I have before described it,--as being merely _your conjecture_
about a Being independent of Nature; it is merely a conjecture, merely a
suggestion, just like my own conjecture, just like my own suggestion
about Nature being that one great Being about which we are all

But not content with assailing _analogy_ as incapable of leading to any
_certain_ conclusion, he changes his tactics, and seems at least to do
homage to it, while he insists only on its _extension_. "The argument of
_design_," he says, "is unquestionably the most popular ever developed,
and the most seductive ever displayed. It has the rare merit of making
the existence of God, which is the most subtle of all problems, appear a
mere truism,--and the proofs of such existence, which have puzzled the
wisest of human heads, seem self-evident." This tribute, however, must
be read in the light of his chosen motto,--"The existence of a watch
proves the existence of a watch-maker; a picture indicates a painter; a
house announces an architect. See here are arguments of terrible force
for children."[278] "I took up," he says, "Dr. Paley's book, ... and I
agreed with myself to admit, as I read, whatever appeared plausible. I
did so, and my objection to my author was this: Upon the grounds of
analogy and experience I found Paley insisted that design implies a
designer, that this designer must be a person, and that this person is
God: but the analogy which had been the guide to his feet, and the
experience which had been a lamp to his path, were suddenly abandoned,
and at the very moment when their assistance seemed to promise curious
revelations."--"Two modes of refutation are open; to attack the
_principle_, or pursue the _analogy_. Geoffroy St. Hilaire has taken one
course. I take the other. If, in the investigation of this question, it
be legitimate to employ analogy in one part, it must be legitimate to
employ it in like respects in another.... Analogy was Paley's alpha, it
must be made also his omega."[279] In pursuing this course, he makes
large concessions, such as might seem at first sight to involve the very
principles on which the Theistic proof depends. "That design implies a
designer, I am disposed to allow; and that this designer must be a
person, I am quite inclined to admit. Thus far goes Paley, and thus far
I go with him.... His general position, that design proves a personal
designer, is so _natural_, so _easy_, and so _plausible_, that it
invites one to admit it, to see where it will lead, and what it will
prove."--"Paley tells us that God is a person. He insists upon it as a
legitimate inference from his premises, nor _would it be easy to disturb
his conclusion_.... From Paley's premises, it is the clearest of all
inferences. Design must have a designer, because whatever we know of
designers has taught us that a designer is a person. All analogy is in
favor of this inference. This is Paley's reasoning upon the subject, and
it is too _natural_, too _rigid_, and too _cogent_ to be escaped
from."[280] Here we have an _apparent_ admission of the principle on
which the argument of _design_ is based, but it is _apparent_ only, and
is afterwards withdrawn. It was used to serve a temporary purpose, and
as soon as that purpose was served, it was thrown aside, although it had
been described as "so natural, so easy, and so plausible, that it
invites one to admit it," as "too _natural_, too _rigid_, and too
_cogent_ to be escaped from." "When I made the admission, I was going in
the footsteps of Paley, and adopting his own phraseology: then I came to
the conclusion to see whether it was right, and then _I gave it up_;
when I found it led me to a contrary result, then I gave it up; what I
supposed to be _design_ in the opening of my argument is _no longer
design_. My reverend friend is wrong in supposing that _I admit design_,
and yet refuse to admit the force of the _design argument_."[281] And
what is the reason which now induces him to deny the existence of
_design_ in Nature, and to withdraw all the admissions he had previously
made? Why, simply because he conceives that, by a legitimate extension
of the same analogy, the design argument may be pushed to a _reductio ad
absurdum_, so as to prove first the existence of an _organized person_,
"an animal God," and, secondly, an infinite series of such organized
persons, since one such must necessarily presuppose another, and that
again another, and so on _in infinitum_. For there are two stages in his
extension of the analogy. In the first, it is extended so far as to show
that the person to whom design is ascribed must necessarily be an
organized Being: in the _second_, it is still further extended, so as to
show that, being organized, that person must also have had a designer or
maker, since organization is held to imply design, and design to imply a
designer. And thus the analogy, when extended, does not lead up to one
Supreme Mind, the Infinite and Eternal Creator of all things, but to an
organized being, himself exhibiting marks of design in his organization,
and requiring therefore, like every organism, a prior cause, and, by
parity of reason, an eternal succession or infinite series of such

The following extracts will place the progressive steps of his argument
in a clear, if not convincing light: "By reasoning from analogy, Paley
infers that there is a personal, intelligent being, the author of all
design, whom he christens Deity. But what kind of a person is a Deity?
If a person, is it organized like a person? Whence came it? How did it
originate? Was it formed, as it is said to have formed us?... I ask, has
the person of Deity an organization? because, if it be unreasonable to
suppose design without a designer, it is surely as unreasonable to
suppose a person without an organization, to the full contradiction of
all analogy and all experience." ... "Every person is organized. No
person was ever known without an organization. The term person implies
it. All analogy, all experience are in favor of this truth. This is so
plain as to be admitted almost before it is stated.... No person ever
knew of consciousness separate from an organization in which it was
produced. No man ever knew of thought distinct from an organization in
which it was generated.... Shelley says that 'Intelligence is only
known to us as a mode of _animal being_.' ... We have great
authority,--the authority of universal and uncontradicted
experience,--for limiting the properties of mind to organization.... If
intelligence is without an organization, design may be without a
designer; because there are the same experience and analogy to support
the organization, as there are to support the design argument."[282]

But "organization proves _contrivance_.... If, then, every known
organization is redolent with contrivance, and teems with marks of
design, by what analogy can we conclude that _Deity's organization_ is
devoid of these properties?"--"Shelley thus states the case,--'From the
fitness of the universe to its end, you infer the necessity of an
intelligent Creator. But if the fitness of the universe to produce
certain effects be thus conspicuous and evident, how much more exquisite
fitness to this end must exist in the author of this universe!... how
much more clearly must we perceive the necessity of this very Creator's
creation, whose perfections comprehend an _arrangement_ far more
accurate and just! The belief of an infinity of creative and created
gods, each more eminently requiring an intelligent author of his being
than the foregoing, is a direct consequence of the premises.'"--"Hence
from design, designers, and persons, we have stepped to organization and
contrivance, and arrive at a contriver again."[283]

Such is the outline of his argument. He seems to think that if there be
any flaw in it, the only assailable point must be his _extension of the
analogy_: "In the chain of analogies which Paley commenced, and which I
have continued, I believe there is no defective link. The principle of
assailment, if any, is the _extension_ of the analogies beyond the Paley
point.... With the extension commences my responsibility. He who proves
an irrelevancy in it answers my book." This is, no doubt, a vulnerable
point, but we venture to think that it is not the only one. His whole
reasoning seems to proceed on an unsound view of the nature and
conditions of the argument, and is radically defective in at least
_three_ respects.

It is not correct to say that the argument of design, is _a mere
argument from analogy_. Were it so, it might, like many another process
of mere analogical reasoning, yield no more than a probable conclusion
or a plausible conjecture. But in the case before us, the conclusion is
strictly and properly an _inductive inference_. It may be suggested by
the perception of _analogy_, but it is founded on the principle of
_causality_. It is capable, therefore, of yielding, not a mere
_probability_, but an absolute _certainty_. The fact that analogy is so
far concerned in the process cannot weaken a conclusion which rests
ultimately on a fundamental law of reason, the ground-principle of all
induction. It is true, no doubt, that were we destitute of the conscious
possession of intelligence, will, and design, we should be utterly
incapable of forming these conceptions, or applying them to the
interpretation of Nature; and in a loose sense, it may be said that we
are guided by the analogy of our own experience to the belief in an
intelligent First Cause; but mere analogy would not produce that belief
without the great law of causality, which demands an adequate cause for
every effect, nor is this law deprived of its necessary and absolute
certainty merely because it comes into action along with, and is
stimulated by, the perception of obvious analogies. Is it not equally
true, that it is only by our own mental consciousness that we are
qualified to conceive of other minds, and that we are, to a certain
extent, guided by analogy to the belief that our fellow-men are
possessed, like ourselves, of intelligence and design? But who would say
that this conclusion is no more than a _probable_ conjecture, or that,
depending as it does in part on the analogy of our own experience, it
cannot yield absolute certainty? In so far as it is _merely_ analogical,
it might be only more or less probable; but being founded also on the
law of causality, it is an inductive inference, and, as such, one of the
most certain convictions of the human mind.

And so the argument derived from marks of design in Nature may be stated
in one or other of two ways:--it may be stated _analogically_ or
_inductively_. The difference between analogy and induction, which is
not always duly considered, should be carefully marked. Analogy proceeds
on _partial_, induction on _perfect_ resemblance. The former marks a
resemblance or agreement _in some respects_ between things which differ
_in other respects_: the latter requires a strict and entire similarity
_in those respects_ on which the inductive inference depends. The one by
itself may only yield a _probable_ conjecture, but the other, when
combined with it, may produce a _certain_ conviction. Accordingly the
design argument may be thrown either into the _analogical_ or the
_inductive_ form. Stated _analogically_, it stands thus: "There is an
ascertained partial resemblance between organs seen in art and organs
seen in nature; as, for instance, between the telescope and the eye.

"It is probable from analogy that there is in some further respect a
partial resemblance between organs seen in art and organs seen in
nature: in art the telescope has been produced by a _contriver_, analogy
makes it probable that in nature the eye also will have been produced by
a _contriver_."

But stated inductively, it stands thus: "If there be in nature the
manifestation of supernatural contrivance, there _must_ exist a
supernatural contriver.

"There is in nature the manifestation of supernatural contrivance.

"Therefore a supernatural contriver,--God,--must exist."[284]

Combine the perfection of analogy with the principle of causality, and
you have not only the _verisimilitude_ or _likelihood_ which prepares
the way for belief, but also a positive proof resting on a fundamental
law of reason. The inference of intelligence from marks of design in
nature is not one of analogy, but of strict and proper _induction_; and
accordingly we must either deny that there are marks of _design_ in
nature, thereby discarding the _analogy_, or do violence to our own
reason by resisting the fundamental law of causality, thereby discarding
the inductive inference. And of these two unavoidable alternatives, Mr.
Holyoake seems to prefer the former: he will venture to deny the
existence of design in nature, rather than admit the existence of design
and resist the inevitable inference of a designing cause; for he is
compelled in the long run to come round to this desperate confession,
"What I supposed to be _design_ in the opening of my argument is _no
longer design_. My reverend friend is wrong in supposing that I _admit
design_, and yet refuse to admit the force of the _design argument_."

But if he mistakes the general nature and conditions of the argument
when he speaks of it as if it were a mere argument from analogy, his
_extension of the analogy_, and the reasonings founded on it, are
equally unjustifiable and inconclusive. He forgets that analogy proceeds
on a partial resemblance in _some respects_, between things which differ
_in other respects_, and that even induction itself requires a perfect
resemblance only _in those respects_ on which the inference depends.
There may be such a resemblance between the marks of design in nature
and in art as to warrant the inference of a contriver in both; and yet
_in other respects_ there may be a dissimilarity which cannot in the
least affect the validity or the certainty of that inference. It is only
when we _extend the analogy_ beyond the inductive point, that the
conclusion becomes, in some cases, merely probable, in others altogether
doubtful. If we advance a step further than we are warranted to go by
obvious and certain analogies, our conclusions must be purely
conjectural, and cannot be accepted as inductive inferences. From what
we know of this world, and of God's design in it to make Himself known
to His intelligent creatures, we may infer, with some measure of
probability, that other worlds may also be inhabited by beings capable,
like ourselves, of admiring His works, and adoring His infinite
perfections; but if we go further, and infer either that all these
worlds must _now_ be inhabited, or that the inhabitants must be _in all
respects_ constituted as we are, we pass far beyond the point to which
our knowledge extends, and enter on the region of mere conjecture. And
so when Mr. Holyoake extends the analogy, so as to include not only the
marks of design, on which the inductive inference rests, but also the
forms of organization, with which in the case of man, intelligence is at
presented associated, although not identified, he goes beyond the point
at which analogy and induction combine to give a _certain_ conclusion,
and introduces a conjectural element, which may well render his own
inferences extremely doubtful, but which can have no effect in weakening
the grounds of our confidence in the fundamental law, which demands an
adequate cause for the marks of design in nature.

Mr. Ferrier has shown that "the senses are only _contingent conditions_
of knowledge; in other words, it is possible that intelligences
different from the human (supposing that there are such) should
apprehend things under other laws, or in other ways, than those of
seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling; or more shortly, _our_
senses are not laws of cognition or modes of apprehension which are
binding on intelligence necessarily and universally."--"A contingent law
of knowledge" is defined as "one which, although complied with in
certain cases in the attainment of knowledge, is not enforced by reason
as a condition which _must_ be complied with wherever knowledge is to
take place. Knowledge is thus possible under other conditions than the
contingent laws to which certain intelligences may be subject; in other
words, there is no contradiction in affirming that an intelligent being
may have knowledge of some kind or other without having such senses as
we have."[285]

The application of analogy as a principle of judgment is subject to
certain well-known limitations, which cannot be disregarded without
serious risk of error. They are well stated by Dr. Hampden: "There are
two requisites in order to every analogical argument:--1. That the two,
or several particulars concerned in the argument should be known to
agree in some one point; for otherwise they could not be referable to
any one class, and there would consequently be no basis to the
subsequent inference drawn in the conclusion. 2. That the conclusion
must be modified by a reference to the circumstances of the particular
_to_ which we argue. For herein consists _the essential distinction
between an analogical and an inductive argument_. Since, in an inductive
argument, we draw a general conclusion, we have no concern with the
circumstantial peculiarity of individual instances, but simply with
their abstract agreement. Whereas, on the contrary, in an analogical
argument, we draw a particular conclusion, we must enter into a
consideration of the circumstantial peculiarity of the individual
instance, in order to exhibit the conclusion in that particular form
which we would infer. Whence it follows, that whilst by induction we
obtain absolute conclusions, by analogy we can only arrive at relative
conclusions, or such as depend for their absolute and entire validity on
the coincidence of _all_ the circumstances of the particular inferred
with those of the particular from which the inference is drawn." Again:
"The circumstances _to_ which we reason may be considered of threefold
character. They are either known or unknown. If they are known, they are
either (1.) Such as we have no reason to think different, in any respect
from those under which our observations have been made; or (2.) Such as
differ in certain _known_ respects from these last. (3.) They are
unknown, where we reason concerning truths of which, from the state of
our present knowledge, from the nature of our faculties, or from the
accident of our situation as sojourners upon earth, we are totally

With these necessary limitations, suggested by the different
circumstances in which analogy is applied, we shall have little
difficulty in disposing of Mr. Holyoake's _extension_ of Dr. Paley's
argument. Not content with resemblance _in some respects_, he requires a
sameness _in all_. He would exclude all dissimilarity, forgetting that
analogy denotes a certain relation between two or more things which in
other respects may be entirely different. We may see a resemblance
between the marks of design in nature and the ordinary effects of design
in art; and that perception of design gives rise to an intuitive
conviction or inductive inference of a designing cause: thus far we
proceed under the guidance of analogy, but on the sure ground of
induction. If we go beyond this, and insist that the designing cause
must be _in all respects_ like ourselves, that if we be organized, He
must be organized, that if we act by material organs He must act by the
same, we exceed the limits of legitimate reasoning, and enter on the
region of pure conjecture. But such conjectures, groundless as they are,
and revolting as every one must feel them to be, can have no effect in
shaking our confidence in the valid induction by which we infer from
marks of _design_ in nature the existence of a designing Cause.

It can scarcely be necessary to enlarge on the gratuitous assumptions on
which this _extension_ of the argument is made to rest;--such as that
"every person is organized," that "all power is a mere attribute of
matter," that "no man ever knew of thought distinct from an organization
in which it was _generated_." The only fragment of truth that can be
detected in these assumptions is the fact that we have, in our present
state, no experience of intelligence apart from the organization with
which it is here associated: but will this warrant the inference that
intelligence _cannot_ exist apart from organization, or that the one is
the mere product of the other? It may be a good and valid inference from
the marks of design in nature, that a designing cause must exist; for
this inference, although suggested by analogy, is founded on induction,
which requires a perfect resemblance only _in those respects_ on which
the inference depends. But to go beyond this, and to insist that the
designing cause must be organized, because we have _no experience_ of
intelligence apart from organization, is to make our experience the
measure of possible being, and to exclude, surely on very insufficient
grounds, all notion of purely spiritual personality. In "extending the
analogy beyond the Paley point," Mr. Holyoake is arguing from the
particular case of man to another case, which resembles it in some
respects, but may differ from it in others; and similar as they are in
the one point of living, designing intelligence, they may, for aught he
knows, differ in many other respects. And this we hold to be a
sufficient answer to his argument, especially when it is combined with
the consideration that the assumptions on which that argument is based
are purely gratuitous, namely, that "every person is organized," and
that there is no "thought distinct from an organization in which it is
_generated_." By these assumptions, his theory connects itself with the
grossest Materialism; and that subject has been sufficiently discussed
in a separate chapter.

But in truth we regard the whole discussion on organization as a huge
and unnecessary excrescence on his argument, for he would have come to
his point quite as effectually, and much more directly, had he said
nothing at all about an organized being, and insisted merely on one,
whether material or spiritual, possessing powers of intelligence,
contrivance, and design; for it is evidently on the existence of such a
being, and not on the arrangements or adaptations of his organic parts,
that his main argument depends, namely, that such a being implies also a
contriver, and that again another, and so on in an endless series.
Whatever force belongs to his argument lies here: it consists, not in
the evidence of design arising from material organization, but in the
necessity of a cause adequate to account for a being possessing
intelligence, purpose, and will. The existence of an endless series of
such beings is impossible, and the supposition of it is absurd; and Mr.
Holyoake himself admits a self-existent, underived, and eternal
Being,--a being exempt, therefore, from all the conditions of time and
causality to which others are subject,--while he ascribes the origin of
intelligent, self-conscious beings to Nature, which is "neither
intelligent nor self-conscious," rather than to God, the father of
spirits, Himself a Spirit, infinite, omniscient, and almighty. He
ascribes the existence of intelligent, self-conscious, personal moral
agents to a power called _Nature_, which he cannot venture to call "a
person," nor even "an animal being," and of which he "cannot predicate
with the Pantheist the unity of its intelligence and consciousness." His
theory, in so far as it is intelligible, seems to have a stronger
affinity with Pantheism than he appears to suppose. Were he to define
the meaning of the word Nature,--a word so often used in a vague,
indefinite sense,[287]--he would find that his idea bears a close
resemblance to that of the German school,[288] who speak of the first
being as the _Indifference of the different_,--a certain vague,
undetermined, inexplicable entity, possessing no distinctive character
or peculiar attributes, whose existence is necessary, but not as a
living, self-conscious, and active being, while it is the cause of all
life and intelligence and activity in the universe; in short, a mere
abstraction of the human mind. To some such cause, if it can be called a
cause, Mr. Holyoake ascribes all the phenomena of the universe; or he
leaves them utterly unaccounted for, and takes refuge in an eternal
series of derived and dependent beings, without attempting to assign any
reason for their existence. He undertakes to account for nothing. He
leaves the great problem unsolved, and discards it as insoluble. "Mr.
Harrison demanded of me, where the first man came from? I said, I did
not know; I was not in the secrets of Nature." "I cannot accept, says
one, the theory of progressive development, it is so intricate and
unsatisfying." "If something must be self-existent and eternal, says
another, why may not matter and all its properties be that something?"
"The Atheist holds that the universe is an endless series of causes and
effects _ad infinitum_, and therefore the idea of a _first_ cause is an
absurdity and a contradiction."[289] In short, the eternity of the world
is assumed, the origin of new races is left unexplained, and no account
whatever is given of the order which everywhere exists in Nature. In the
last resort, he takes refuge in the plea of _ignorance_. His only answer
is, "I do not know, I am not in the secrets of Nature."

But how does his extension of Paley's argument justify the position
which he now assumes? Or how can it invalidate the admissions which he
had previously made? That extension of the argument, even were it
supposed to be legitimate, amounts simply to this, that a designer must
be an organized being, and, as such, must have had a cause. But what
analogy suggests, or what law of reason requires, an _infinite series_
of such causes? And what is there in this extension of the argument that
should exclude the idea of a First Cause? It is thought, indeed, that by
connecting intelligence with organization, we may succeed at least in
excluding His infinity, His omnipresence, and other attributes which are
ascribed to the Most High: but the main stress of the argument rests not
on the fact of organization, but on the supposed necessity of _an
endless series_ of contrivers to account for the existence of any one
intelligent being, whether organized or not is of little moment. Now,
this is a mere assumption, an assumption entirely destitute of proof, an
assumption which is not necessarily involved even in the proposed
extension of the analogy: for all that the analogy, however extended,
can possibly require is a cause adequate to the production of designing
minds, and that cause may be a self-existent, underived, and eternal
Being. Let the analogy be extended ever so far, it must reach a point at
which we are compelled, by the fundamental law of _causality_, to rise
to a self-existent Being, exempt from all conditions of time, space, and
causality. Mr. Holyoake admits the very same truth in regard to Nature
which we maintain in regard to God: "I am driven to the conclusion that
Nature is eternal, because we are unable to conceive a state of things
when nothing was.... And in the eternity of matter, we are assured _of
the self-existence_ of matter, and self-existence is the most majestic
of all attributes, and includes all others;" it is "the power of being
_independent of the law of other beings_." Now, what is there in the
proposed extension of the analogy that should exclude the idea of a
self-existent First Cause, or shut us up to the admission of an endless
series of designing causes? And still further, what is there in the
proposed extension of the analogy which should invalidate the argument
from design, or induce Mr. Holyoake to _give it up_, and to withdraw
the concessions which he had previously made in regard to it? These
concessions must be supposed to have been honestly made in deference to
the claims of truth, and they are not in the least affected by the
extension of the analogy. It is still true, if it ever was, _that order
prevails in Nature_; and this is admitted: "If by Atheism is meant the
belief that all that we see in Nature is the result _of chance_, of a
fortuitous concourse of atoms, nothing would be so absurd as Atheism.
Nothing can be more evident than that _law and order_ prevail in Nature,
that every species of matter, organic or inorganic, is impressed with
certain laws, according to which all its properties and movements are
regulated.... In denying, therefore, the existence of a personal,
intelligent Deity, we do not admit that there is any chance,
contingency, or disorder in Nature: we do not deny, but absolutely
affirm, the constant and universal operation of _law and order_. This we
do, because it is a matter of fact of obvious and daily
experience."[290] Again, it is still true, if it ever was, that _design
implies a designer_; and this, says Mr. Holyoake, "I am disposed to
allow; and that this designer must be a person, I am quite inclined to
admit. Thus far goes Paley, and, therefore, thus far I go with him. His
general position, that design proves a personal designer, is so
_natural_, so _easy_, and so _plausible_, that it invites one to admit
it.... Paley insists upon it as a legitimate inference from his
premises, nor would it be easy to disturb his conclusion.... This is
Paley's reasoning upon the subject, and it is too _natural_, too
_rigid_, and too _cogent_ to be escaped from." Now, what is there in the
proposed extension of the analogy that can invalidate either of these
admissions, or that should induce us to set aside both? Extend the
analogy ever so far, it is still true that _law and order_ prevail in
Nature, that design implies a _designer_, and that a designer must be a
_person_. And how does Mr. Holyoake save his consistency? Simply by
stretching the analogy till it snaps asunder; he begins by extending,
and ends in destroying it; he admits it at first, merely "to see where
it will lead and what it will prove," and finding that it must imply an
organized designer, and an endless series of such beings, "he gives it
up," and denies the existence of _design_ altogether. There is a
_hiatus,_ it would seem,--an impassable gulf,--between the admission
that _law and order_ prevail in Nature, and the conclusion that _law and
order_ are manifestations of _design_: "What I supposed to be design in
the opening of my argument is _no longer design_. My reverend friend is
wrong in supposing that I admit DESIGN, and yet refuse to admit the
force of the _design argument_," On the supposition, then, that _law and
order_ are manifestations of _design_, the design argument might be
valid and conclusive: but "_no conceivable order_" could prove the
existence of God; why? Because no conceivable order could be a
manifestation of _design_. But how is this proved by the extension of
the analogy? Does it not amount to a denial of the analogy itself? And
is it not an instructive fact that his abortive attempt to disprove the
design argument, results, not in the denial of the _inductive
inference_, but in the exclusion of the very _analogy_ which he proposed
to extend, not in shaking the validity of the proof, but in disputing
the fact on which it is based? The extension of the analogy cannot prove
either that law and order are _not_ manifestations of design, or that
there may be design without a personal designer; all that it could
prove, even were it legitimate, would be the existence of an _organized_
instead of a _spiritual_ Being, which, on the supposition of its
self-existence,--a supposition which is not excluded by the argument,
since that majestic attribute, which may be fairly held to "include all
others," is expressly admitted,--neither requires nor admits of an
infinite series of contrivers.

4. Secularism denies the truth of a special Providence, and also the
efficacy of Prayer, while it justly holds both to be indispensable for
the purposes of practical religion.

The importance of these doctrines is strongly declared, and sometimes
illustrated with much apparent feeling, by Mr. Holyoake himself: "There
is more mixed up with the question than the mere fact as to whether some
Being exists independently of Nature; for instance, if any man would
debate whether there existed a Divine Being, whether a Providence, who
was the Father of His creatures, whom we could propitiate by prayer in
our danger, from whom we could obtain light in darkness, and help in
distress,--if any man debated a proposition like this, I should say
there was much of great practical utility about it.... If you tell me
God exists, that he is a power, a principle, or spirit, or light, or
life, or love, or intelligence, or what you will,--if He be not a Father
to whom His children may appeal, if He be not a Providence whom we may
propitiate, and from whom we can obtain special help in the hour of
danger,--I say, practically, it does not matter to us whether He exists
or not."[291] "The great practical question is, whether there exists a
Deity to whom we can appeal, who is the Father of his children, who is
to be propitiated by prayer, and who will render us help in the hour of
danger and distress."

With the spirit of these remarks every believer will cordially
sympathize. He knows that there can be no practical religion without
faith in Providence and confidence in prayer; for "he that cometh to God
must believe that He is, and that He is _the rewarder_ of them that
diligently seek Him." Mr. Holyoake does not err in supposing that this
is the general belief of Christians, or that it is explicitly sanctioned
in Scripture. He may, and we think he does err in his interpretation of
the Bible doctrine, and the inferences which he deduces from it; but
assuredly Christianity would be robbed of its most attractive and
endearing attributes, were it represented as silent on the paternal
character of God and His providential care. He is right in saying that
"the Providence man needs, the Providence the old theologies gave him,
was a personal Providence, an available help.... I care only to add,
that there is hardly any feature in the Christian system which is so
seductive as this doctrine of a special Providence.... Do you not know
that in all your appeals your success depends upon your telling all
orders of people that there is One in heaven who cares for them, that
every prayer will be answered, that every hair of their head is
numbered, that not a sparrow falls to the ground without their heavenly
Father's knowledge, and are not they worth more than many
sparrows?"[292] He sees the necessity, and seems to feel the
attractiveness, of the doctrine; yet he denies its truth: why? because
it is contradicted, as he conceives, by experience. He adduces his own
personal experience, and then appeals to the experience of his
fellow-men: "I once prayed in all the fervency of this same religion. I
believed once all these things. I put up prayers to Heaven which I
cannot conceive how humanity could have refused to respond to,--prayers
such as if put up to me I must have responded to. I saw those near and
dear to me perishing around me; and I learned the secret I care no
longer to conceal, that man's dependence is upon his courage and his
industry, and dependence upon Heaven there seems to be none."[293] Such
was his private experience; and facts of public notoriety are appealed
to in confirmation: "It has long seemed to me the most serious libel on
the character of the Deity to assume for one moment that he interferes
in human exigencies. A mountain of desolating facts rises up to shame
into silence the hazardous supposition? Was not the whole land a short
time ago convulsed with horror at the fate of the _Amazon_? There was
not a wretch in the whole country whose slumbering humanity would not
have been aroused in the presence of that dismal calamity." ... "How is
it that liberty is in chains all over Europe, if God be still
interposing in human affairs? If the older doctrine were true, if our
brother's blood still cried to God from the ground, the patriot would be
released from the dungeon, and the tyrant would descend from the throne
he has polluted."--"Science has shown us that we are under the dominion
of general laws, and that there is no special providence, and that
prayers are useless, and that propitiation is vain; that whether there
be a Deity independent of Nature, or whether Nature be God, it is still
_the God of the iron foot_, that passes on without heeding, without
feeling, and without resting; that Nature acts with a fearful
uniformity, stern as fate, absolute as tyranny, merciless as death; too
vast to praise, too inexplicable to worship, too inexorable to
propitiate, it has no ear for prayer, no heart for sympathy, no arm to

In these and similar appeals to the facts of individual or common
experience, the scriptural doctrine of Providence and Prayer is supposed
to be very different from what it really is, and stated without any of
the qualifications which are expressly declared by the sacred writers.

--It is nowhere declared in Scripture that _every_ prayer must receive
an immediate answer, whatever may be the object for which it is
presented, or the spirit in which it is offered. On the contrary it is
expressly written, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not
hear me." "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering; for he that
wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed: For
let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord." "Ye
ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it on
your lusts."[295]

--It is nowhere declared in Scripture that man is to obtain whatever he
asks, irrespective of that Sovereign Will which is guided by unerring
wisdom as well as infinite love. On the contrary, prayer is an
expression of dependence and subjection, and must ever be qualified by
submission to His sovereignty: "Nevertheless not my will, but Thine be

--It is nowhere declared in Scripture that Providence will suspend, or
that Prayer will counteract, the operation of the general laws of
Nature, excepting only in the case of those to whom a promise of
miraculous power was vouchsafed. On the contrary, these laws are
declared to be stable and permanent: "Thou hast established the earth,
and it abideth: they continue this day according to thine ordinances:
for all are thy servants;" and any wilful neglect or violation of these
laws is a sinful _tempting_ of Providence, even when it may seem to be
sanctioned by a perverse application of Scripture itself; for the
Saviour himself was solicited on this wise, "If thou be the Son of God,
cast thyself down; for _it is written_, He shall give his angels charge
concerning thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any
time thou dash thy foot against a stone;" but he answered, "_It is
written_ again, Thou shalt not _tempt_ the Lord thy God."[297]

--It is nowhere declared in Scripture that Providence will secure, or
Prayer obtain, exemption from the afflictions and calamities of life. On
the contrary it is written, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivereth him out of them all." "In the world ye shall
have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." "If
ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son
is he whom the father chasteneth not?" "Now no chastening for the
present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it
yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are
exercised thereby." "We glory in tribulations also; knowing that
tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience
hope." "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for
us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." "And we know that
_all things_ work together for good to them that love God!... Who shall
separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or
persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in _all
these things_ we are more than conquerors through him that loved

--It is nowhere declared in Scripture that Providence will award, or
that Prayer may hope to secure, a regular and equal distribution of good
and evil in the present life. On the contrary the present state is
described as a scene of probation, trial, and discipline, which is
preparatory to a state of retribution hereafter: "I saw under the sun
the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of
righteousness, that iniquity was there. I said in mine heart, God shall
judge the righteous and the wicked; for there is a time for every
purpose and for every work." "Because sentence against an evil work is
not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully
set in them to do evil. Though a sinner do evil a hundred times, and his
days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with those
that fear God, which fear before Him: but it shall not be well with the
wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow;
because he feareth not before God."[299] "This is the faith and patience
of the saints;" a faith which is often staggered, a patience which may
be ready to fail, in the view of the darker aspects of Providence; for
many a true believer may say, "As for me, my feet were almost gone, my
steps had well-nigh slipped; for I was envious at the foolish, when I
saw the prosperity of the wicked;" and even "the spirits of just men
made perfect" sing the song, "O Lord! how long?"

--It is nowhere declared in Scripture that Providence excludes the aid
of Science, or that Prayer supersedes the diligent use of ordinary
means. On the contrary it is written, "When wisdom entereth into thine
heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul, discretion shall
preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee;" and believers are
required to be "not slothful in business," while they are "fervent in
spirit, serving the Lord."[300]

On all these points, so clearly involved in the Christian doctrine of
Providence and Prayer, Mr. Holyoake's argument rests on assumptions
which are utterly groundless, and hence he imagines that the doctrine is
contradicted by experience, when a more scriptural view of it would be
sufficient to obviate all his objections. He reasons as if there could
be no truth in the doctrine of a special Providence, and no efficacy in
Prayer, unless _every_ petition were immediately heard and answered;
unless the cry of nature in distress were sufficient to ward off the
stroke of disease and bereavement, and to avert all the calamities of
life; unless the operation of the general laws of Nature were forthwith
suspended; unless the present state of trial and discipline were
converted into one of strict and impartial retribution; and unless man's
wisdom and man's agency were to be superseded altogether by dependence
on a higher power. But not one of these suppositions has any place in
the doctrine of Scripture on the subject. It speaks of a special
Providence, but not such as is incompatible with the constant operation
of natural laws; it ascribes a certain efficacy to Prayer, but not such
as implies a miraculous interference with the ordinary course of Nature,
and still less an exemption from affliction, or an equal distribution of
good and evil in the present life. If it be said that such being the
doctrine of Scripture, it can afford little or no consolation, since it
holds out no hope of sure and instant relief in circumstances of
distress and danger, may we not ask, Is there no comfort in knowing that
our affairs are under the superintendence of a Being everywhere present,
infinitely wise and good, whose ear is ever open to our cry, who is able
to do for us exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask, and who has
promised to sustain us in all our trials, to sanctify us by means of
them, and to make all things work together for our good? Is there no
comfort in being able to say, "God is our refuge and strength, a very
present help in trouble, therefore will not we fear though the earth be
removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea."
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. Yea, though I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art
with me." "The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will
preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom"?[301] Is there not enough for all
the purposes of practical religion in the assurance, "Ask, and it shall
be given you; seek, and ye shall find; ... for if ye, being evil, know
how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your
Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?" "Your
heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. Seek ye
first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things
shall be added unto you"?[302] And when the believer is enabled in any
measure to comply with the injunctions of Scripture,--"Cast thy burden
on the Lord, and He will sustain it," "Commit thy way unto Him, and He
will bring it to pass," "Be careful for nothing, but in everything by
prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made
known unto God, and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,
shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,"--does he not
know experimentally that it is faith in a living, personal God,--the God
of providence, and the Hearer of prayer, and not the desolate doctrine
of Nature,--"the _God of the iron foot_, stern as fate, absolute as
tyranny, and merciless as death,"--that can sustain him under every
trial, and nerve him with fresh vigor for the "battle of life"?

Mr. Holyoake refers to his own experience, and appeals to the experience
of his fellow-men, in confirmation of his _negative_ conclusion in
regard to a special Providence and the efficacy of Prayer. But what
weight is due to his testimony in such a case? Is it sufficient to
countervail the experience of all in every age--"the great cloud of
witnesses"--who have unanimously declared that "the Lord hath not
forsaken them that seek Him," and that "He hath not said to the seed of
Jacob, Seek ye my face in vain"? Which is entitled to the greater
weight, the testimony of Mr. Holyoake, or that of the Psalmist, "I
waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined unto me, and heard my
cry;" or that of the prophet, "I cried by reason of mine affliction unto
the Lord, and He heard me: out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou
heardest my voice: When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord,
and my prayer came in unto Thee into thine holy temple;" or that of the
apostle, "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might
depart from me; and He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee,
for my strength is made perfect in weakness"?[303] A cry for help may
not be "the prayer of faith," but the utterance of an unsubdued and
rebellious will, and can afford no test, therefore, of the truth of the
doctrine of Scripture.

But "Science," says Mr. Holyoake, "is the providence of life, and
spiritual dependence may be attended with material destruction." He
would substitute, therefore, the Science of man for the Providence of
God, and secular _diligence_ for spiritual _dependence_. But is there no
room for both? Are they necessarily incompatible or mutually exclusive?
Why should the Science of man be opposed to the Providence of God, or
secular industry to religious faith? All Christians combine the two; why
should Mr. Holyoake seek to divorce them? What is Science? It is "the
well-devised method of using Nature; it is in this that Science is the
providence of man. It is not pretended that Science is a perfect
dependence; on the contrary, it is admitted to be narrow and but
partially developed; but it is the only special dependence that man
has."[304] And is the _wise use of Nature_ inconsistent with Religion?
is it the exclusive monopoly of Atheism? Or is spiritual dependence
necessarily incompatible with industrial pursuits? Who have been the
most scientific and the most industrious members of the community, the
small band of Atheists, or the great body of Christians? To the latter
belong all the advantages which Science, or the wise use of Nature, can
secure, while they have _besides_ a Providence, distinct from Nature and
superior to it, whose wakeful eye never slumbers, and whose ear is ever
open to their cry.

5. Secularism seeks to supersede Religion, and to substitute _morality_
in its stead,--but a _morality_ which leaves men irresponsible for their
belief, their passions, and even their actions, to any superior Power.

"The histories of all ages," says Mr. Holyoake, "and the bitter
experience of mankind, prove the pernicious influence of piety. It seems
a more useful work cannot be performed than to sweep away the assumed
foundations of all religions." "I deem it inimical to human welfare, and
should no more proceed to supply a new religion than the people who had
just interred the cholera would think of raising a plague.... Religion
is a distraction of social progress; once removed, no wise man will
desire its restoration."

"But one question remains to be answered, If Religion is not our proper
business, what is? I answer, _Morality_!... By Religion I understand a
system of human duties, commencing from a God: by Morality a system of
human duties, commencing from man. Religion asks but one question, Is an
act pleasing to Deity? Morality makes the wiser inquiry, Is an act
useful to man? The standard of religion varies with fickle creeds; the
standard of morality is _utility_."[305] "There exist (independently of
Scriptural Religion) guarantees of morality in human nature, in
intelligence, and utility." "Morality, that system of human duties
commencing from man, we will keep distinct from Religion, that system of
human duties assumed to commence from God."[306] "Nature refers us to
science for help, and to humanity for sympathy; love to the lovely is
our only homage, study our only praise, quiet submission to the
inevitable our _duty_, and work is our only worship."[307] "We, by
establishing morals independently of scriptural authority, and basing
them on secular considerations,--more immediate, more demonstrative and
universal,--attain a signal benefit; for when Inspiration is shaken, or
Miracles fail you, or Prophecy eludes the believer, he breaks away, and
probably falls into vice; while we hold the thinker by the thousand
relations of Natural Affection, Utility, and Intelligence, which the
Christian distrusts.... A man may do good because it is honest, because
it is useful, because it is commanded by human law, because it is
humane, because it is polite, because it is a noble pleasure."[308] Of
course, when Morality is thus divorced from Religion there can be no
responsibility to a higher Power, and man is not accountable to any one
for his belief, his passions, his will, his character or conduct, except
in so far as his _actions_ may trench on the rights of others, and
render him amenable to civil or criminal law. And Mr. Holyoake, at one
time an associate and fellow-laborer of Robert Owen, still cleaves to
the doctrine that his belief is entirely dependent on evidence, and that
his character is, to a large extent, determined by the circumstances of
his condition.

An attempt is thus made to establish the Ethics of Atheism on the ruins
of Religion. But to one who calmly reflects on the subject, it must be
evident that a scheme of morals founded on the negation of all religious
belief can have none of that authority which belongs to the expression
of a superior will, and must be utterly destitute of all sanctions
excepting such as may be found in the _natural_ consequences of our
conduct. Its only standard is _utility_; and _utility_ must be
interpreted by every man for himself, according to his own taste and
inclination. The word _duty_ is used, but there is nothing in the system
to account for the _idea_ which that word is intended to convey, nothing
to explain or justify the meaning of the phrase, _I ought_. For why
_ought_ I to do this, or refrain from that? Because it is _useful_?
because it is conducive to _happiness_? Because it will be followed by
certain natural consequences? But if I love the pleasures of sin, if I
prefer them to every other kind of enjoyment, if I am willing to accept
the consequences and to say, "Evil, be thou my good," what is there in
the system of secular ethics that should oblige me to forego my
favorite indulgences, or that can impress me with the conviction that I
_ought_ to do so? True I may suffer, and suffer much, as the drunkard
and the libertine do, in the way of natural consequence, and it may be
prudent to be temperate in the indulgence of my sensual appetites; there
may even be a sense of inward degradation, and a politic regard to the
opinions of my fellow-men, which will operate to some extent as a
restraining influence; but if I be destitute of a sense of _duty_, and
willing to brave all hazards and accept all consequences, Secularism has
nothing to say to me, and is utterly powerless to govern or control me
otherwise than by physical coercion or the power of brute force. But
admit the idea of God as a Moral Governor, and of Conscience as His
vicegerent in my soul, view the law of my moral nature as the
authoritative expression of His supreme will, and instantly I recognize
a Master whom I _ought_ to obey, and a course of conduct which it is my
_duty_ to pursue, irrespective alike of my personal propensities and of
all possible consequences. The "categoric imperative" within is felt to
be a far more solid ground, as well as a much stronger sanction, of
duty, than any that can be found in the mere consequences of my actions;
while it accounts for the innate sense of right and wrong, and the
sentiments of remorse, and shame, and fear which conscious guilt

But Mr. Holyoake shifts the question from this broad general ground,
which is common to all earnest inquirers after truth, and seeks to
entangle us in a collateral, but subordinate, discussion respecting the
relation between Morality and Scripture. He proposes to show that "there
exist, _independently of Scriptural Religion_, guarantees of morality in
human nature," and that "morals may be established _independently of
scriptural authority_." But this is not the question: the question is a
wider and more comprehensive one, namely, whether a system of morals can
be established apart from the recognition of God, and independently of
_any_ expression, natural or supernatural, of His supreme and
authoritative will? Mr. Holyoake is bound to return and defend an
affirmative to _this_ question, and is not at liberty to take refuge in
the mere denial of the absolute dependence of morals on "scriptural
authority." The idea of _duty_ may be involved in the principles of
Natural Religion, and these may be presupposed and assumed in
Revelation; but to make out his case, he must attempt to show that
neither Natural nor Revealed Religion is necessary to establish and
sanction a code of ethics, and that the natural consequences of our
actions are sufficient _of themselves_, and without reference to the law
of a Supreme Will, to awaken and sustain a sense of moral obligation. In
point of fact, Christianity does not represent the duties of morality as
dependent on its own _sole_ authority. It sanctions these duties, it
illustrates their nature, it enforces their observance by new and
powerful motives; but it presupposes the existence of Conscience, as
God's vicegerent in the heart, and appeals to "a law" by which every man
is "a law to himself." The _law revealed_ in Scripture is binding by
reason of the authority of the Lawgiver; but not more binding than the
law written on the heart, without which we should be incapable alike of
moral instruction and of moral government. The question, then, is not
whether morality be entirely dependent on the authority of Scripture,
but whether it be so independent of Religion as to be equally
authoritative and binding with or without the recognition of God?

And if this be the real question at issue, few will be bold enough to
affirm either that the nature of moral duty is in no wise affected, or
that its foundation is in no degree weakened, by the non-recognition of
God and His supreme will. The will of God may not be the ultimate ground
of duty, but it is the expression of the essential holiness of His
nature, which is the unchangeable standard of rectitude. The supposition
of His non-existence, therefore, or even the skeptical Atheism which
doubts, without venturing to deny, the reality of His being, deprives
morality of its only absolute support, and leaves it to depend on the
fluctuating opinions or the capricious tastes of individual minds. It
affects both the _nature_ and the _extent_ of moral duty, by resolving
it into a mere regard to utility, and excluding a large class of duties
which Religion sanctions, while it deprives every other class of their
sacred character as acts of obedience to God. It shuts out some of the
most powerful and impressive motives to virtuous conduct, by relieving
men from a sense of responsibility to a higher Power, by excluding the
idea of a future retribution, and still more by keeping out of sight the
attributes, alike august and amiable, of a living personal God,
everywhere present, beholding the evil and the good, an omniscient
Witness and an impartial Judge. Christianity leaves all the _secular_
motives to morality intact and entire, and only superadds to these
certain _spiritual_ motives of far higher power. It neither supersedes
the lessons of experience nor abjures all regard to utility; but by
revealing our relation to God, it extends, and elevates, and purifies
our sense of duty. In vain does Mr. Holyoake pretend that by basing
morals on secular considerations, he attains a signal benefit, and that
he "holds the thinker by the thousand relations of Natural Affection,
Utility, and Intelligence, _which the Christian distrusts_;" for not one
of these "relations" is excluded by the scheme of Revealed Religion, not
one of them is _denied_ by the Christian; and if he may be said to
_distrust_ them, it is only because he holds them to be _insufficient_,
without a belief in God, to maintain a pure morality in the world. But
he can say, with at least as much earnestness as any Secularism can
feel, "Whatsoever things are _true_, whatsoever things are _honest_,
whatsoever things are _just_, whatsoever things are _pure_, whatsoever
things are _lovely_, whatsoever things are of _good report_; if there be
_any_ virtue, and if there be _any_ praise, think of these things;" and
he feels that far from weakening, he greatly enhances, the force of
that appeal, when he adds, "and perfect holiness _in the fear of the

6. Secularism professes to be "the positive side of Atheism," and to be
better than Religion at least for this world, because it pays a
preëminent, if not an exclusive, regard to the _duties of the present

This is, perhaps, the most dangerous aspect of the doctrine. It
prescribes a course of systematic ungodliness, a practical disregard of
the future, and an engrossing attention to things seen and temporal, as
if these were virtues in which mankind are greatly deficient, and as if
their general prevalence would be a prelude to a secular millennium, or
the commencement of an atheistic paradise. But the purely _negative_
part of the system, however accordant with the natural tendencies of
men, is felt to be in itself somewhat unattractive; it must be
associated, therefore, with some _positive_ element, some _practical
aims_, such as may give it a hold on the interest and a claim on the
zealous support of its adherents. "Under this conviction," says Mr.
Holyoake, "the Secularist applied himself to the reinspection of the
general field of controversy, and the adoption of the following rules,
among others, has been the consequence: 1. To disuse the term _Atheist_,
since the public understand by that word one who is without God and also
without morality, and who wishes to be without both. 2. To disuse the
term _Infidel_, since Christians understand by that term one who is
unfaithful or treacherous to the truth.... 3. To recognize, not as a
matter of policy merely, but as a matter of fact, the sincerity of the
clergy and the good intentions of Christians generally.... 4. To seek
the maxims of duty in the relations of man to society and nature, and,
as the _Christian Spectator_ did us the honor to admit, 'to preach
nature and science, morality and art: nature, the only subject of
knowledge; science, the providence of life; morality, the harmony of
action; art, the culture of the individual and of society.'" "We
therefore resolved to choose a new name (Secularism), which should
express the _practical and moral_ element always concealed in the word
Atheism.... Secularism seeks the personal Law of duty, the Sphere of
duty, and the Power by which duty may work independently. The Law is
found in natural, utilitarian, and artistic morals. The Sphere is this,
to work with our first energies in this life, for this life,--for its
growth, culture, development, and progress. The Power is discovered in
Science, the providence of life, and intelligence."[309] "By
'Secularism' is meant giving the precedence to the duties of this life
over those which pertain to another life;--attention to temporal things
should take precedence of considerations relating to a future
existence." "The _positive_ side of our views is a more recent
development of our own." "We seek the coöperation of all who can agree
to promote present human improvement by present human means."[310] ...
"If there are other worlds to be inhabited after this life, those
persons will best be fitted for the enjoyment of them who have made the
welfare of humanity their business in this. But if there are not other
worlds, men are essentially losers by neglecting the enjoyment of this.
Hence Aristippus was truly wise, who agreed with Socrates in dismissing,
as wholly unprofitable, all those speculations which have no connection
with the business of life." "This life being the first in certainty, we
give it the first place in importance; and by giving human duties in
relation to men the _precedence_, we secure that all interpretations of
spiritual duty shall be in harmony with human progress." "Secularism is
the philosophy of the things of time. A Secularist is one who gives
primary attention to those subjects, the issues of which can be tested
by the experience of this life. The Secularist principle requires that
precedence should be given to the duties of this life over those which
pertain to another world."[311]

Secularism, then, professes to be the _positive_ or _practical_ side of
Atheism, and it claims to be better than Religion at least for this
world, because it pays a preëminent, if not exclusive, regard to the
duties of the present life. We cannot consider this "new development" of
an old system, in connection with its recent change of name, and the
reasons that are assigned for it, without seeing that the force of
public opinion, whether well or ill founded, has compelled its advocates
to alter their tactics at least in two respects: they are anxious to
withdraw from offensive prominence the _negative_ articles of their
creed, and to put forward the _positive_ elements of truth which may
still survive after the ruin of Religion; and they evince a disposition,
somewhat new, to conciliate the Christian community, by admitting the
sincerity of the clergy and the good intentions of believers generally,
and inviting their coöperation in plans of secular improvement. But
Atheism still lurks under the disguise of Secularism; and men of earnest
religion are not likely to be tempted to any close alliance or active
coöperation with those who misrepresent the character of that God in
whom they believe, and of that Saviour in whom they trust. There may be
some nominal Christians, however, already as unconcerned about the
future and devoted to the present life, as Mr. Holyoake himself could
wish them to be, who will eagerly grasp at this "new development," as a
plausible pretext for continuing in their present course; for "with the
exception of those who compose the real Church of Christ, whose faith is
not a mere name and an unthinking assent to Christianity, but a real,
living, constant power over their life, the _whole world is practically
secularist_, and is living solely by the light of _the present_, and
under the impulse of the motives which it supplies."[312] For
"Secularism is only the Latin term for the old Saxon worldliness:
Secularism has more elements of union than perhaps any other phase of
infidelity; it has the worldliness of mere nominal Christians, as well
as of real infidels."[313] They are really _Secularists_, but as yet
they may not be at ease in their _Secularism_. There may be a secret
monitor within, which reminds them occasionally of death, and judgment,
and eternity; and the rapid flight of time, or the incipient sense of
disease, or the ever-recurring instances of mortality, may awaken them
to transient thoughts of another life for which it were well to be
better prepared. What they want is a theory,--of plausible aspect and
easy application,--which might serve to quell these rising thoughts, and
allay their foreboding fears; and just such a theory they may seem to
find in the proverbial maxim of Secularism, "Work _in_ this life, _for_
this life." We are not sure, however, that even with such men the zeal
of the new _propaganda_ will be altogether successful. It may seem to
some to be out of place, and may even excite a sense of the ludicrous.
"Just fancy for a moment," says the author already quoted, "some
missionary of this principle going into the Royal Exchange at London, or
the Stock Exchange at Leeds or Bradford, or the Cloth-halls of any of
our manufacturing towns, summoning around him the merchants and the
brokers, and then beginning with much earnestness and point to urge them
_not_ to live for eternity, but to be very careful about the present
life: insisting that it was very, very doubtful if earth were not
all,--the present existence the whole of human existence; and that
therefore until there was more certainty they had better make the most
of this; be industrious and prudent, and make themselves as comfortable
as possible; get as much money as they could honestly, and by no means
let any dread of retribution hereafter fetter them in any of their
actions here. Why, these merchants would turn away laughing and saying,
'Either the man is mocking us, or he is mad: that is just what we are
doing with all our might.' They would see at least that Mr. Holyoake's
teaching is very different from that of Him who said, 'Take no thought
for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for
your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the
body than raiment? But seek ye _first_ the kingdom of God and His
righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.' 'For what
is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul?
or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' And marking that
vast difference, they will feel, at least, that no man is entitled to
address them as rational beings in the style of Secularism, unless he
can give them an _absolute assurance_ that there is and can be no future
state of existence,--that the _present_ is man's _only_ life, and that
death is an eternal sleep."

But does Mr. Holyoake give, or pretend to give, any such _assurance_?
"We do not say," he tells us, "that every man ought to give an
_exclusive_ attention to this world, because that would be to commit the
old sin of dogmatism, and exclude the possibility of another world, and
of walking by a different light from that by which alone we are able to
walk. But as our _knowledge_ is confined to this life, and testimony,
and conjecture, and probability are all that can be set forth with
respect to another life, we think we are justified in giving
_precedence_ to the duties of this state, and of attaching _primary_
importance to the morality of man to man." It is not _certain_, then,
that there is no future life; it is even _possible_ that there may be
one; the supposition is not in itself incredible, it may even have
"testimony, conjecture, and probability" in its favor:--some attention
to it, therefore, cannot be forbidden without "committing the old sin
of dogmatism, and excluding the possibility of another world;" but its
comparative uncertainty is urged as a reason for "giving _precedence_ to
the duties of this state, and attaching _primary_ importance to the
morality of man to man." The question would seem to be, not whether
_any_ attention should be bestowed on a future life, but whether it
should be less or more than the attention which we bestow on the present
world. It is a question of degree; and the settlement of that question
is made to hinge entirely on the comparative uncertainty of our prospect
after death. Suppose it were more uncertain, might not the magnitude of
the interests that must be involved in a new and untried existence
hereafter, and which must be measured on the scale of eternity, be more
than sufficient to counterbalance the difference? "Let us be only fully
convinced that our present life is (or may be) the beginning of an
_eternal duration_, and how irresistibly are we urged to a mode of
conduct answerable to that _accession of importance_ which our present
condition in the world derives from the peculiar point of view in which
we then contemplate it!"[314] But, in point of fact, can it be
reasonably said that _the future of our present life_ is in any respect
more certain than our prospects after death: "What is our life? is it
not like a vapor, which appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth
away?" And yet, in spite of its proverbial uncertainty, is it not a
fundamental principle of Secularism that "true life begins in
renunciation," and that "the _future_ must rule the _present_?" Extend
these maxims, which are of unquestionable authority with reference to
the present life, to our prospects beyond the grave, whether they be
regarded as certain, or probable, or possible only, and they will
abundantly vindicate the position that our conduct now and here should
be regulated to some extent by a regard to what may be before us. In
both cases alike, present gratification must give place to future
safety, and _self-denial_, according to the shrewd remark of Franklin,
is neither more nor less in the case of a prudent man than
_self-owning_, the recognition of his own dignity, and the preference of
a greater and more permanent to a smaller and transitory good. It might
still, therefore, be alike our interest and our duty to have _some_
regard to a possible future in the scheme of our present life. And aware
of this Mr. Holyoake solaces himself, and attempts to sustain the
spirits of his friends with the assurance, "Whatever is likely to secure
your best interests here will procure for you the same hereafter,"--a
strange inversion of the scriptural maxim, for it practically amounts to
this, "Seek first the things of this world, and the kingdom of heaven
shall be added unto you." And he states the ground or reason of his
confidence in this respect: "If there be other worlds to be inhabited
after this life, those persons will best be fitted for the enjoyment of
them who have made _the welfare of humanity their business in this_." To
make "the welfare of humanity their business in this life," is a duty
which may be discharged by the Christian not less than the Secularist,
and perhaps with all the greater zeal in proportion to his estimate of
men as responsible and immortal beings, all passing on, like himself, to
an interminable future. But if there be another state of being after
death, will he be best prepared for it who lives "without God" in this
world, without serious forethought in regard to his eternal prospects,
without any deliberate preparation for his certain and solemn change? Or
will it be a consolation to him _then_ to reflect that he disbelieved or
doubted now, and that he exerted his talents and spent his life on earth
in undermining the faith of his fellow-men, and weakening their
impressions of things unseen and eternal?

Mr. Holyoake seems to imagine that whether there be or be not a future
state after death, Secularism is the "safest side," and he puts the
alternative thus: "If there are other worlds to be inhabited after this
life, those persons will best be fitted for the enjoyment of them who
have made the welfare of humanity their business in this. But if there
are not other worlds, men are essentially losers by neglecting the
enjoyment of this." On either supposition, it would seem, the Secularist
has the advantage of the Christian: on the one, because he and not the
Christian, "makes the welfare of humanity his business;" on the other,
because he, and not the Christian, has the true "enjoyment" of the
present life. It might be difficult to prove either of these convenient
assumptions, or to show that there is anything in Christianity to
prevent, anything in Atheism to promote, the care of humanity on the one
hand, or the enjoyment of life on the other. On the contrary, all
experience testifies that Religion is the only sure spring of
philanthropy, and that, on the whole, none have a sweeter enjoyment of
the present life than those who can look abroad on the works of Nature
and say, "My Father made them all," and who can look forward to death
itself with "a hope full of immortality." It is true, that the serious
expectation of a future state must impose a certain restraint on the
indulgence of our appetites and passions; but is it such a restraint as
is injurious even to our temporal welfare? is it not the dictate of
enlightened prudence, were we to look no further than to the present
life? Mr. Holyoake himself repudiates the language which the apostle
puts into the mouth of the unbeliever, "Let us eat and drink, for
to-morrow we die,"--language which is expressive of what would be the
natural tendency of men, were they assured of non-existence hereafter,
but which Mr. Holyoake rejects, with something like virtuous
indignation, saying, "That is the sentiment of the sensualist: it is not
the sentiment of a man who is at all conscious that right and wrong are
inherent in human nature, that there are wide distinctions between
virtue and vice." This is not the sentiment of the man who comprehends
that if we do well, it will be well with us, that if we do harm, the
evil influence will follow us; who sees distinctly that "our acts, if
good, our angels are," and "if ill, our fatal shadows that walk by us
still."[315] It is not the apostle's sentiment nor the sentiment of any
believer; it is, as Mr. Holyoake says, "the sentiment of the
sensualist;" but it is represented as the natural offspring of unbelief
in regard to a future state, just as sensualism is naturally generated
and fostered by unbelief in regard to those moral principles which have
respect to the present life; and if these principles may and should
exert a controlling influence over our conduct, even to the extent of
imposing restraint and self-denial with a view to our welfare in time,
may they not be expected to be all the more powerful when we include
also our welfare in eternity? and may it not thus become manifest that
"godliness hath the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that
which is to come?" It would be difficult to say in what respect
believers "neglect the enjoyment of this life," or are "essentially
losers" by their religion. They will gratefully ascribe to it their
highest and purest happiness; and rather than part with it they will
cheerfully submit to "the loss of all other things," and even to
persecution and martyrdom itself. But it is asked, "If Christianity be
false, is it nothing that you are troubled with a thousand anxieties and
cares about what shall become of you after death? If Christianity be
false, is it nothing that day after day you have the fear of death
before your eyes? If Christianity be false, it makes you slaves while
you live, and cowards in death."[316] We might answer, If Christianity
be _true_, what then? but we prefer a different course: we say that the
reality of a future state is in nowise dependent on the truth of
Christianity, however much we may be indebted to Christianity for our
certain knowledge of it; that even on the principles of Atheism there is
no security against the everlasting continuance of self-consciousness,
any more than there is against the inevitable stroke of death; that
Christianity in either case assumes the fact, and addresses men as dying
yet immortal creatures, while it reveals a way in which those "who
through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" may be
delivered from that fear, and raised to "a hope full of immortality." As
death is not created or called into being by Christianity, so neither is
the awful future which lies beyond it: the Secularist not less than the
Christian has to do with it. Mr. Holyoake seems, at least occasionally,
to be sensible of this solemn truth. "I am as much concerned," he says,
"as this reverend gentleman can be, as to what shall be _the issue of my
own condition in the future_; I am as much concerned _in the solution of
this question_ as he is himself; and I believe that the view I
entertain, or that any of us may entertain, _conscientiously_, will be
our justification in that issue, if we should come to want
justification. When we pass through the inexorable gates of the future;
when we pass through that vestibule where death stands opening his
everlasting gates as widely to the pauper as to the king; when we pass
out here into the _dim mysteries of the future_, to confront, it may be,
the interrogations of the Eternal,--I apprehend _every man's
responsibility will go with him_, and no second-hand opinions will
answer for us."[317] Is there not something here that should arrest the
attention and awaken the anxiety even of the Secularist himself? He sees
before him the inevitable event of death, and beyond it "the dim
mysteries of the future;" he _may be_ called to "confront the
interrogations of the Eternal," and then "every man's responsibility
will go with him." Surely there is enough in the bare _possibility_ of
such a prospect to justify more than all the interest which has ever
been expended upon it even by the most "anxious inquirer." But, haunted
by these solemn thoughts, Mr. Holyoake takes refuge in the other
alternative of his dilemma: "If there are other worlds, those will best
be fitted for the enjoyment of them who have made the welfare of
humanity their business in this." Secular philanthropy is the best, and
only needful, preparation. With this any belief in regard to the future
is unnecessary, without it no belief will be of any avail: for "the view
which any of us may entertain, conscientiously, will be our
justification in that issue, if we should come to want justification;"
"No second-hand opinions will answer for us. Nothing can justify us,
nothing can give us confidence, but the _conscientious nature_ of our
own conclusions; nothing can give us courage but _innocence_; nothing
can serve our turn but having believed according to _the best of our
judgment_, and having followed those principles which _seem to us_ to be
the truth." He takes refuge, then, first in his _good works_, and
secondly in the _sincerity_ of his convictions, as the sole grounds of
his confidence in the prospect of "confronting the interrogations of the

Is it wonderful,--such being his only hope in death,--that when cholera
appeared in London, and multitudes were suddenly removed by that
appalling visitation, he should have felt it necessary to deliver a
series of Lectures,--now reprinted as "The Logic of Death,"--"with a
view to the assurance of his friends?" Might there not be some among
them who would shrink from a future judgment on the ground of their
"innocence" or "good works," and many more who would feel that they were
making an awful venture in leaving their eternity to depend on the mere
_sincerity_ of their convictions, in whatever way these convictions may
have been formed, and whether they were _true or false_? And could they
be reassured or comforted by any other article of the Secular Creed?
They might be told, as Mr. Holyoake tells them, "I am not an
unbeliever, if that implies the rejection of Christian truth, since all
I reject is Christian error:" I reject "the fall of man, the atonement,
the sin of unbelief, the doctrine of future punishment; a disbeliever in
all these doctrines, why should I fear to die?" But the more thoughtful
among them, all who were really in earnest, might desiderate something
more; they might see that _disbelief_, however dogmatic, does not amount
to _disproof_, and that the _real ground of fear_ is not in the least
removed by it. Does his question imply, that if these doctrines were
_true_, he would have just reason to fear death? or does it mean merely,
that whether they be true or false, he can have no reason to fear death,
simply because he _disbelieves_ them? On the former supposition, how
vast the difference between the Secularist and the Christian? The one
would have reason to fear because these doctrines are or may be true;
the other believes them to be true, and finds in that very belief a
deliverance from the fear of death, and a firm ground of confidence and
hope! On the latter supposition,--which we believe to be the correct
one,--what an amazing confidence must that man possess in the
_sincerity_ of his convictions, the _conscientiousness_ of his judgment,
and the rigid _impartiality_ of his inquiries after truth, who can peril
his eternal prospects on the mere fact that he _disbelieves_ these
doctrines, whether they be _true_ or _false!_ Suppose that disbelief may
diminish the intensity of his fears, can it alter the real state of the
case, or remove the only just ground of apprehension and anxiety in
regard to the future? The truth of these doctrines is not dependent
either on our belief or disbelief; and in the way of _natural
consequence_, even were there no additional penal infliction, they may
vindicate themselves hereafter in the case of those who neglect or
disbelieve them here, by leaving them destitute of all the advantages
which flow only from the cordial reception of the truth. Thus much at
least would be in entire accordance with the analogy of our experience
with reference to the interests of the present life; for we do suffer,
even now and here, in consequence of our ignorance, or neglect, or
practical disbelief of truth,--and it may be so hereafter, in the way
simply of inevitable natural consequence, but much more in the way of
righteous penal retribution, if there be any truth in that _philosophy
of unbelief_, so true to nature and so solemnly proclaimed, "This is the
condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness
rather than light, because their deeds were evil; for every one that
doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, _lest his
deeds should be reproved_."[318]

       *       *       *       *       *

We have endeavored to estimate the claims of Secularism, and to examine
the foundations on which it rests. In doing so, we have not denied
either the right or the duty of any man to inquire and to decide for
himself on his own solemn responsibility. We admit as fully as Mr.
Holyoake himself, that personal responsibility implies the right, or
rather the duty, of inquiry. He has our entire sympathy when he says,
"It is my business to take care, if I walk _from time to eternity_, that
I walk by that light which satisfies my own understanding. If it were
true that any of you would take my place, _if we should eventually find
ourselves at the bar of God_, and I should find myself to be made
answerable for the opinions which I entertain, or for beliefs which I
had in time, if any of you, or all of you, would take my place, and
answer for me, then I might be content to take your opinions, then I
might stand on the side of the world: but what does it matter to me what
Newton believed, what Locke believed, or what the world believes, unless
the world will answer for me if I believe as the world believes?" But
while the right of inquiry is frankly admitted, it can scarcely be
denied that the mind may be biased by prejudice and involved in error;
and the ultimate question is, not, what are your opinions? but, what are
the grounds on which they rest?--not, what is your belief? but, what is
the truth? Mr. Holyoake is the Coryphæus of his party. As a popular
writer and speaker, his talents and zeal, devoted to a better cause,
might have fitted him for extensive usefulness, and rendered him a
benefactor to his country. As it is, no man in England rests under a
heavier load of responsibility. He has placed himself at the head of the
_propaganda_ of popular infidelity. Is it yet too late for him to
reconsider his opinions, and retrace his steps? For his own sake, for
the sake of those who are near and dear to him, for the sake of the
multitudes who must be influenced, for good or evil, by his speeches and
writings, let him lay to heart the solemn words of Sir Humphrey
Davy;--"I envy no quality of mind or intellect in others,--not genius,
power, wit, or fancy: but if I could choose what would be most
delightful, and I believe most useful to me, I should prefer _a firm
religious belief_ to every other blessing; for it makes life a
discipline of goodness, creates new hopes when all earthly hopes vanish,
and throws over the decay, the destruction of existence, the most
gorgeous of all lights, calling up the most delightful visions, where
the sensualist and skeptic view only gloom, decay, and annihilation."

            "Attempt how vain,--
    With things of earthly sort, with aught but God,
    With aught but moral excellence, truth, and love
    To satisfy and fill the immortal soul!
    To satisfy the ocean with a drop;--
    To marry immortality to death;
    And with the unsubstantial Shade of Time
    To fill the embrace of all Eternity."



[251] GEORGE JACOB HOLYOAKE, "Paley Refuted in his own Words," Third
Edition. London, 1850. TOWNLEY AND HOLYOAKE, "A Public Discussion on the
Being of a God," Third Thousand. London, 1852. GRANT AND HOLYOAKE,
"Christianity and Secularism; a Public Discussion held on six successive
Thursday evenings," Seventh Thousand. London, 1853.

[252] "The Reasoner," New Series, No. VIII. 115. Of this serial it is
said (XII. 6, 81), "The Reasoner, which was established in 1846, has
come to be regarded as the accredited organ of Freethinking in Great
Britain. Indeed, for a long time, it has been the principal professed
exponent of these views, _addressed to the working and thinking

[253] Ibid., XI. 15, 222; XII. 4, 6, 49, 81.

[254] "The Reasoner," XII. 4, 50.

[255] Ibid., XI. 18, 271.

[256] Ibid., XI. 15, 232.

[257] "The Reasoner," XII. 24, 376.

[258] Ibid., New Series, pp. 9, 130.

[259] Ibid., XI. 24, 368.

[260] DR. CHALMERS' "Works," I. 64.

[261] "Paley Refuted," p. 12.

[262] GRANT AND HOLYOAKE, "Discussion," pp. 5. 8, 221.

[263] "The Reasoner Reasoned with," p. 13. "Holyoake's Reply to Dr.
Forbes of Glasgow."

[264] "The Logic of 'Logic of Death,'" p. 10.

[265] "Paley Refuted," p. 37.

[266] TOWNLEY AND HOLYOAKE, "Discussion," p. 13.

[267] "The Converted Atheist's Testimony."

[268] TOWNLEY AND HOLYOAKE, "Discussion," pp. 56, 57.

[269] HOLYOAKE, "Logic of Death."

[270] TOWNLEY AND HOLYOAKE, "Discussion," pp. 22, 37, 55.

[271] HOLYOAKE, "Logic of Death."

[272] "Paley Refuted," p. 31.

[273] TOWNLEY AND HOLYOAKE, "Discussion," pp. 17, 24.

[274] TOWNLEY AND HOLYOAKE, "Discussion," p. 25.

[275] HOLYOAKE, "Logic of Death."

[276] HOLYOAKE, "Paley Refuted," p. 37.

[277] TOWNLEY AND HOLYOAKE, "Discussion," pp. 23, 47.

[278] DE GRIMM, Title page of "Paley Refuted."

[279] HOLYOAKE, "Paley Refuted," pp. 8, 11.

[280] HOLYOAKE, "Paley Refuted," pp. 19, 23.

[281] TOWNLEY AND HOLYOAKE, "Discussion," p. 27.

[282] HOLYOAKE, "Paley Refuted," pp. 19, 24, 25.

[283] Ibid., pp. 26, 32, 39. See also TOWNLEY AND HOLYOAKE,
"Discussion," pp. 27, 29, 34, 43, 45.

[284] TOWNLEY AND HOLYOAKE, "Discussion," pp. 7, 414.

[285] PROF. FERRIER, "Institutes of Metaphysic," Epistemology, Prop.
XXII. p. 377, also pp. 381, 385, 506.

[286] DR. HAMPDEN, "Essay on the Philosophical Evidence of
Christianity," pp. 60, 64.

[287] ROBERT BOYLE, "Theological Works," on the term "Nature."

[288] PROFESSOR NICOLAS, "Quelques Considerations sur le Pantheisme,"
pp. 30, 33, 35, 38.

[289] "The Reasoner," XI. 8, 119, 23, 356. New Series, pp. 9, 141.

[290] "The Reasoner," XI. 23, 357.

[291] TOWNLEY AND HOLYOAKE, "Discussion," pp. 16, 59.

[292] GRANT AND HOLYOAKE, "Discussion," pp. 80, 81.

[293] Ibid., pp. 66, 80.

[294] TOWNLEY AND HOLYOAKE, "Discussion." p. 58.

[295] Psalm 66: 18; James 1: 6; 4: 3.

[296] Matt. 26: 39.

[297] Psalm 119: 90; Matt. 4: 6.

[298] Psalm 34: 19; John 16: 33; Heb. 12: 7, 11; Rom. 5: 3; 2 Cor. 4:
17; Rom. 8: 28, 35, 37.

[299] Eccles. 3: 16, 17; 8: 11.

[300] Proverbs 2: 10; Rom. 12: 11.

[301] Psalm 46: 1, 2; 23: 1, 4; 2 Tim. 4: 18.

[302] Matt. 7: 7, 11; 6: 32, 33.

[303] Psalm 40: 1; Jonah 2: 2, 7; 2 Cor. 12: 8.

[304] GRANT AND HOLYOAKE, V. 8, 40, 50, 57.

[305] "Paley Refuted," p. 38, 43.

[306] GRANT AND HOLYOAKE, "Discussion," pp. V. 7.

[307] TOWNLEY AND HOLYOAKE, "Discussion," p. 58.

[308] GRANT AND HOLYOAKE, "Discussion," p. 223.

[309] GRANT AND HOLYOAKE, "Discussion," pp. 4, 221.

[310] Ibid., V., VI. 7.

[311] HOLYOAKE, "Paley Refuted," p. 43. GRANT AND HOLYOAKE,
"Discussion," pp. 7, 8.

[312] "Modern Atheism, or the Pretensions of Secularism Examined," p.

[313] Logic of "Logic of Death," p. 4.

[314] DR. HAMPDEN, "Philosophical Evidence of Christianity," p. 28.

[315] HOLYOAKE AND GRANT, "Discussion," p. 125.

[316] "Modern Atheism," p. 14.

[317] TOWNLEY AND HOLYOAKE, "Discussion," p. 18.

[318] John 3: 20, 21.






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Author of "Biblical Cyclopedia," "Ecclesiastical Cyclopedia," "Early
Oriental History," "Dictionary of the Bible," etc. etc. One volume.
Octavo. P. 886. (IN PRESS.) The subjects are arranged as follows, viz.:

     Army, Arms,
     Diet and Dress,
     Disease and Death,
     Idolatry, Idols,
     Jesus Christ,
     Metals and Minerals,
     Ministers of Religion,
     Parables and Emblems,
     Praise and Prayer,
     Sabbaths and Holy Days,
     Tabernacle and Temple,
     Vineyard and Orchard,
     Visions and Dreams,

The object of this Concordance is to present the entire Scriptures under
a certain classified and exhaustive heads. It differs from and ordinary
Concordance, in that its arrangement depends no on words, but on
subjects, and the verses are printed in full. Its plan does not bring it
at all into competition with such limited works as those of Gaston and
Warden; for they select doctrinal topics principally, and do not profess
to comprehend, as we do, the entire Bible. The work also contains a
Synoptical Table of Contents of the whole work, presenting in brief a
system of biblical antiquities and theology, with a very copious and
accurate index.

The value of this work to ministers and Sabbath school teachers can
hardly be over-estimated; and it needs but to be examined to secure the
approval and patronage of every Bible student.

Transcriber's List of Corrections


Chapter I.
         Abbe Lamennais
                  Abbé Lamennais
         Atheoi en tôkosmô
                  Atheoi en tô kosmô
         distinction beetween
                  distinction between
         Abbe Barruel
                  Abbé Barruel

Chapter II.
         It it
                  It is

Chapter III.
         en kai pan
                  hen kai pan

Chapter VIII.

Chapter IX.

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