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TWO DISSERTATIONS OX PERSONAL IDENTITY.
INTRODUCTOR Y ESSA Y.
BY ALBERT BARNES.
[NOTE. The following Essay, was originally prepared as a Review oi Butler's Analogy, for the Quarterly Christian Spectator, and appeared in that work in the Numbers for December, 1835, and March, 1831. With some slight alterations and additions, it is now reprinted as an Introductory Essay to this Edition of the Analogy.]
Philadelphia, Sept. 6, 1832.
In directing the attention of our readers to the great work whose title we have placed at the head of this article, we suppose we are rendering an acceptable service chiefly to one class. The ministers of religion, we presume, need not our humble recommendation of a treatise so well known as Butler's Analogy.. !! will not be improper, however, to suggest that even our clerical readers may be less familiar than they should be, with a work which saps all the foundations of unbelief; and may, perhaps, have less faithfully carried out the principles of the Analogy, and interwoven them less into their theological system, than might reasonably have been expected. Butler already begins to put on the venerable air of antiquity. He belongs, in the character of his writings at least, to the men of another age. He is abstruse, profound, dry, and, to minds indisposed to thought, is often wearisome and disgusting. Even in clerical estimation, then, his work may sometimes be numbered among those repulsive monuments of ancient wisdom, which men of this age pass by indiscriminately, as belonging 10 times of barbarous strength and unpolished warfare.
But our design in bringing Butler more distinctly before the public eye, has respect primarily to another class of our readers. In an age pre-eminently distinguished for the short-lived produce tions of the imagination; when reviewers feel themselves bound to serve up to the public taste, rather the deserts and confectionaries of the literary world, than the sound ard wholesome fare of other times; when, in many places, it is even deemed stupid and old-fashioned to notice an ancient book, or to speak of the wisdom of our fathers; we desire to do what may lie in our power lo stay the headlong propensities of the tiines, and recal the public mind to the records of past wisdom. We have, indeed, no blind predilection for the principles of other days. We bow down before no opinion because it is ancient. We even feel and believe, that in all the momentous questions pertaining to morals, politics, science, and religion, we are greatly in advance of past ages. And our hearts expand with joy at the prospect of still greater simplicity and clearness, in tlie statement and defence of the cardinal doctrines of the reformation. Most of the monu
ments of past wisdom, we believe capable of improvement in these respects. Thus we regard the works of Luther, Calvin, Beza, and Owen. We look on them as vast repositories of learning, piety and genius. In the great doctrines which these works were intended to support, we do firmly believe. Still, though we love to linger in the society of such men ; and though our humble intellect hows before them, as in the presence of transcendent genius, yet we feel that in some things their views were darkened by the habits of thinking of a less cultivated age than this; that their philosophy was often wrong, while the doctrines which they attempted 10 defend by it were still correct; and that even they would have hailed, on many topics, the increased illumination of later times. Had modern ways of thinking been applied to their works; had the results of a deeper investigation into the laws of the mind, and the principles of biblical criticism, been in their possession, their works would have been the most perfect records of human wisdom which the world contains.
Some of those great monuments of the power of human thought, however, stand complete. By a mighty effort of genius, their authors seized on truth; they fixed it in permanent forms; they chained down scattered reasonings, and left them to be surveyed by men of less mental stature and far feebler powers. It is a proof of no mean talent now to be able to follow where they lead, to grasp in thought, what they had the power to originate. They framed a complete system at the first touch; and all that remains for coming ages, corresponds to what Johnson has said of poets in respect to Homer, to transpose their arguments, new name their reasonings, and paraphrase their sentiments.* The works of such men are a collection of principles to be carried into every region of morals and theology, as a standard of all other views of truth. Such a distinction we are disposed to give to Butler's Analogy; and it is because we deem it worthy of such a distinction, that we now single it out from the great works of the past, and commend it to the attention of our readers.
There are two great departments of investigation, respecting the“ analogy of religion to the constitution and course of nature.' The one contemplates that analogy as existing between the declarations of the Bible, and ascertained facts in the structure of the globe, -the organization of the animal system,--the memorials of ancient history,—the laws of light, heat, and gravitation,—the dimensions of the earth, and the form and motion of the heavenly bodies. From all these sources, objections have been derived against revelation. The most furious attacks have been made, at one tinie by the geologist, and at another by the astronomor: on one pretence by the antiquarian, and on another by the chymist, against some part of the system of revealed truth. Yel never have any assaults been less successful. Every effort of this kind has resulted in the establishment of this great truth,
Johnson. Preface to Shakspeare.