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under the title of "A Sketch of the Natural Laws of Man." I have no doubt this was the case, but there can be as little doubt that Doctor Spurzheim derived his notions from Volney, and the other French writers before alluded to. Doctor Spurzheim's work, like that of Volney, is in the form of a catechism; the general train of thought in both is the same, and in many cases the doctrines stated are identical. There is, however, this difference, that Doctor Spurzheim, while he maintains the same opinions as Volney with regard to a natural law, does not draw the same conclusions against the truth of revelation. In regard to this, his mind appears to have been in a kind of neutral state. He does not expressly admit the Christian revelation to be true, but he refers to its moral precepts "as surpassing all other systems of revealed religion, and as standing the scrutiny of reason." He seems to consider that the natural laws discoverable by reason, and the precepts of pure Christianity, are in harmony one with another; but it is evidently the tendency of his mind to place more reliance on the former than on the latter, though he seems to entertain the idea that both must concur, in order to produce" that general religious reformation, whose necessity for the well being of man is so evident."
Such is the general scope of Doctor Spurzheim's work; and although, in adopting the doctrine of the French writers with regard to the natural laws, he does, in fact, admit that which forms the foundation of all their infidel reasonings, I have no doubt that he was sincere in believing that he had kept clear of objectionable matter, and that no one, whether Christian or not, could find fault with his mode of treating the subject. It must be quite obvious, however, that if the reasoning of the French writers were correct, and if the consequences
which they deduce follow legitimately from their premises, it can make no difference that these consequences are not formally stated in so many words, and tha we admit the premises, we cannot consistently reject the conclusion.
The general views maintained by Mr Combe on this subject, are as follows:-"First, That all substances and beings have received a definite natural constitution; secondly, That every mode of action which is said to take place according to a natural law, is inherent in the constitution of the substance or being; and thirdly, That the mode of action described is universal and invariable wherever and whenever the substances or beings are found in the same condition."
He then goes on to say, that intelligent beings are capable of observing nature, and of modifying their actions. By means of their faculties, the laws impressed by the Creator on physical substances become known to them; and when perceived, constitute laws to them by which to regulate their conduct. For example, it is a physical law, that boiling water destroys the muscular and nervous systems of man. This is the result purely of the constitution of the body, and of the relation between it and heat; and man cannot alter or suspend the law. But whenever the relation, and the consequences of disregarding it, are perceived, the mind is prompted to avoid infringement, in order to avoid the torture attached by the Creator to the decomposition of the human body by heat.
Mr Combe then goes on to state more in detail, the nature of those different laws which it is the duty of man to discover and obey. These, as far as they are yet known, he divides into three great classes, namely, 1st, the physical laws, embracing all the phenomena of mere matter; 2d, the organic laws, comprehending the
phenomena connected with the production, health, growth, decay, and death of vegetables and animals; and lastly, the moral and intellectual laws, the lower intellectual being common to man with some of the lower animals, the higher intellectual and moral laws being peculiar to man.
Before going farther, I would here observe, that throughout the whole of the statements respecting the natural laws, either by Diderot, Volney, Doctor Spurzheim, or Mr Combe, 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 result from the constitution of natural objects, and which regulate their mutual action on one another, such as the laws of the resistance, momentum, elasticity, &c. of solids, the laws of gravitation, the laws of the pressure of fluids, the laws of vegetation, and so on. Considered in this sense, every object and being in the world has its laws according to which it acts or is acted upon. These are the laws of nature referred to by Montesquieu, Blackstone, Erskine, and other writers quoted by Mr Combe in his appendix, and as to which there is no difference of opinion. These, however, are totally distinct from the "Law of Nature," or "Natural Laws," spoken of by Mr Combe and those from whom he has borrowed his system; these do not mean the laws of the constitution of things, but those 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.
These two notions, however, the laws of the constitution of things, and the laws of human conduct, are invariably confounded together by these writers. Thus, Volney, after mentioning certain general facts or laws of
the constitution of natural objects, and stating that these form so many positive commands to which we are bound to pay attention, adds, that it has been agreed "to assemble together the different ideas and express them by a single word, and call them collectively the Law of NATURE." And in like manner Mr Combe expressly states, that "a law of nature means the established mode in which the actions and phenomena of any creature exhibit themselves, and the obligation thereby imposed on intelligent beings to attend to it."
In consequence of this mixing up of different, and even opposite ideas under one name, we find an inextricable confusion running through the whole speculations of Mr Combe, Volney, &c. respecting the natural laws, so that we never know when they are speaking of the laws of natural phenomena, and when they are referring to the rules of human conduct. It is also important to notice, that they take advantage of this confusion to introduce another grand fallacy into their statements. This consists in attributing to the whole of what they include under the name of natural laws those characters of certainty, universality, invariability, &c. which only belong to one of these divisions. Every one will admit that the laws which regulate natural phenomena are "universal, invariable, demonstrable, reasonable, and of themselves sufficient" for all the purposes for which they were established; but it is a very different thing to say that this is the case with regard to any rules which the intellect of man has ever been able, or may ever be able, to deduce from his knowledge of these, for the regulation of his own conduct. This supposes that the intellect of man is perfect, which we know, in his present state, is not the case; that we have discovered all the laws which regulate the phenomena of natural objects, which we know is not the case; and lastly,
that we have discovered all the rules of conduct deducible from that knowledge, which Mr Combe himself admits will not be the case for an immense series of years.
Mr Combe seems to be anxious not to have it supposed that he has derived his views entirely from the French philosophers, and he thinks he is able to bring to his support the high authority of Bishop Butler. This excellent writer, in his work on the Analogy of Religion, in maintaining the probability of a future state of rewards and punishments, uses the argument, that even in the present life, and in the natural world, certain actions are attended or followed by pleasing, and others by painful sensations, analogous to rewards and punishments, so that we are even here in a certain sense under a system of divine government. The passage is this: "Now, from this general observation, obvious to every one, that God has given us to understand he has appointed satisfaction and delight to be the consequence of our acting in one manner, and pain and uneasiness of our acting in another, and of our not acting at all; and that we find the consequences which we were beforehand informed of uniformly to follow; we may learn that we are at present actually under his government in the strictest and most proper sense, in such a sense as he rewards and punishes us for our actions. An Author of Nature being supposed, it is not so much a deduction of reason as a lesson of experience, that we are thus under his government, under his government in the same sense as we are under the government of civil magistrates; because, annexing pleasure to some actions, and pain to others, in our power to do or forbear, and giving notice of this appointment beforehand, is the proper formal notion of government. Whether the pleasure or pain which thus follows upon