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state; but no sooner are these gratified, than a reaction takes place. The propensities, wearied with long exertion, become dormant, and the moral powers coming into activity, shew us the enormity we have been guilty of in all its horror. It is not merely conscientiousness that, being roused, is offended by the commission of the crime. Veneration, when it exists, is offended by our seeing that we have transgressed the laws, and done outrage to the commands of our Maker. Love of Approbation is offended, in that we feel that we have incurred the reprobation, the scorn, and the hatred of all the wise and the good. Cautiousness is alarmed at the evil consequences which may attend our guilt in this world, and the punishment which awaits it in the This, joined to Secretiveness, alarms us with the fear of detection, and we start at every sound, and mistake every bush for a minister of vengeance. In the case of murder, which outrages a greater number of the higher sentiments than almost any other crime, benevolence is highly offended, and, through that, all the social affections. All these feelings, being roused. in the mind of the murderer after the passions that led to the murder have subsided, are sufficient to convert his mind into a nest of scorpions. The whole mixed state of feeling constitutes what is called remorse, and which probably, when those feelings are possessed in any considerable degree, continues to haunt the culprit through life, and to render him his own tormentor, even when he is not overtaken by public justice."
This, then, is CONSCIENCE, and this the way in which, in many cases, it asserts its supremacy. The case above stated is one where a crime has been committed under the influence of selfish and inferior feelings, and contrary to the dictates of the higher sentiments. But cases may be figured, and have no doubt occurred, where the very
firmness, which, if it do not of itself originate any moral feeling, is indispensably necessary to the proper working of the faculties which do originate such feelings, and without which there can be no such thing as consistent moral conduct?
As to the intellectual powers, he has given no statement of those which partake in the supremacy he contends for. But I am not disposed to be critical as to this, it being impossible that any of the intellectual faculties can possess any supremacy over another. are supreme in their own way when rightly used, and none can claim any pre-eminence in matters which do not lie within their own province. If there be any difference among them in this respect, it is this, that the observing and knowing faculties, which are generally called the lower intellectual faculties, and most of which are common to man and the brutes, are less apt to be in error than the reasoning and reflecting powers, which belong exclusively to man. Whatever conclusions we may come to through the means of comparison and causality, by any reasonings from analogy, or from the supposed connection of cause and effect, if we find these contradicted by facts which are palpable to the senses, the reasoning must go for nothing. I am willing, however, to take Mr Combe's statement here as it is, and give him the benefit of all the intellectual faculties.
But waving all objections to vague and inconsistent language, and taking Mr Combe's statement in any way, it must appear to be rather rash to attribute supremacy to any set of faculties, let them be what they may, when we find it expressly admitted, that all the human faculties are liable to be abused, to be defective, to be wrong directed, and that one class of them is not exempt from error more than another. It seems absurd to attribute supremacy to that which is thus fallible:
and Mr Combe is so sensible of this, that he finds it necessary, in order to maintain the supremacy he contends for, to introduce three new principles.
"In maintaining this supremacy," he observes, "I do not consider any of the moral sentiments and intellectual faculties singly, or even all of them collectively, as sufficient to direct conduct by their mere instinctive suggestions. To fit them to discharge this important duty, they must act in harmonious combination, and be illuminated by knowledge of science, and of moral and religious duty."
It must be quite obvious, that, by these qualifications, Mr Combe's great principle is reduced to nothing. We could understand the doctrine if it were stated, and if we were satisfied that we could trust to the spontaneous suggestions of these sentiments, one or all of them, either by themselves, or when enlightened by the intellect, but this, we have seen, Mr Combe does not maintain. He finds that his elephant, the peculiarly human sentiments, (even when assisted by all the intellectual powers,) before it can be fitted to support the whole moral world, must itself have something to stand upon; and therefore he introduces no fewer than three tortoises to support it:
1. Harmonious combination.
2. Knowledge of science.
3. Knowledge of moral and religious duty.
We give him up the first at once, as it is quite evident that, in any view, powers that are not in harmony among themselves, can never be fitted to govern others, or to afford a rule of conduct to the whole.
The second of his postulates, the knowledge of science, means, we presume, a knowledge of the natural laws; that is, an intimate knowledge of our own nature, and of every thing else in the world. We have already stated
what occurs as to this. It is certainly desirable for us to possess this knowledge, just as it may be desirable that we should be able to fly, to live a thousand years, or any thing else that is at present unattainable. But if we are to remain ignorant of morality until we attain this knowledge, we are afraid a considerable time must still elapse before the world is destined to emerge from its present state of moral darkness.
The third and last condition is, that the moral and intellectual faculties shall be illuminated by a knowledge of moral and religious duty. Is it not obvious that this is giving up all that he had previously stated? A knowledge of moral and religious duty is exactly what we are in search of; and if we are able to attain it, where is the use of all the cumbrous machinery of moral sentiments, or sentiments peculiar to man, or any sentiments you please, illuminated by intellect, and a knowledge of all the natural laws, and acting in harmonious combination? This is really darkening counsel by vain words.
But to proceed with Mr Combe's view of the matter. Where is this knowledge of moral and religious duty to be obtained? Not certainly from the moral sentiments and intellect, for these, he has already said, are insufficient to direct our conduct without this very knowledge. Where, then, are we to go, for man has no higher faculties than these?
Mr Combe informs us, that the sources of this knowledge are "observation and reflection, experience, and instruction by books, teachers, and all other means by which the Creator has provided for the improvement of the human mind." This is all very good, and not particularly new; but how are we to observe and reflect except by means of the intellectual faculties? How are we to draw profit from experience, except by the same means? As to instruction by books, he should explain what books
he means? Is it books written by men? Are not these the productions of the human sentiments and intellect? Who are the teachers he refers to, and whence do they derive the doctrines they teach? What faculties do they possess which we have not, and what higher claims have they than ourselves to pronounce definitively as to what is right in conduct?
Mr Combe refers to other means which the Creator has provided for the improvement of the human mind. To what means does he allude? All merely human means are included among the particulars already noticed. We feel ourselves, therefore, upon the principles stated by Mr Combe himself, shut up to the conclusion, that these means must be something more than human. We come just to the point to which the matter has been so often brought before, compelled to resort to Revelation.
Unless Mr Combe is prepared to deny the authority of Revelation altogether, he must admit that it is one of those means by which the Creator has provided for the improvement of the human mind. And if he admits this, and, after all the circuitous route he has taken, his doctrine leads, in its ultimate result, to the conclusion, that the intellect and sentiments of man are insufficient of themselves to direct what is right in conduct, and that to fit them for this important purpose, they require to be illuminated by reflection and experience, and by that knowledge of moral and religious duty, which is to be obtained from the revealed will of God, we are henceforth agreed, and no objection, so far as I know, can be stated to his principle. According to this view, the moral sentiments and intellect are extremely useful in enabling us to obtain a view of our moral and religious duty, and in retaining us in the path of duty when so discovered; but what becomes of their supremacy?