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to the heart of a good man to meet with such a one, for he reflects the image of his Saviour.
And let it not be supposed that where the object assisted is a simple and unostentatious one, or the assistance rendered is from ne. cessity limited, that these salutary effects will not follow, and the design of the assistance be not effected. The remarks of our Saviour on the widow's mite take out of the mouth of the miser such a pretext for his illiberality. Simplicity is an element both of beauty and sublimity, and modesty is a characteristic of true greatness. It is the weakness of our nature to be affected more by the casual and striking indications of things than by a sober estimate of their real importance. Our thoughts are stirred within us at the sight of the storm moving in the array of “clouds and darkness,” with its lightnings and thunders, and obscuring the very sun in the firmament; but we seldom stop to think that those clouds, that move like dark battalions armed with the thunders of the storm, are but vapour which has arisen from the mountain rill, or been carried up on the breath of a sunny day, from the tranquil surface of the lake. We rarely reflect that all this meteoric tumult results simply in sprinkling drops wbich sustain the tender herb of the field and refresh the bloom of the loveliest flowers. The ocean is an object that strikes our attention, covering three-fourths of the surface of the world, filled with myriads of monsters, and lifting its ridges of liquid mountains to the clouds. But the ocean is but the vapour of the atmosphere condensed. And vice versa, we are apt to estimate of little value, things of humble appearance. But the twinkling stars that wave like expiring tapers among the shades of night are centres of planetary systems. A single grain of wheat could, in the course of years, cover the world with harvest, and supply all the millions of future generations with their bread, and, if it could have soil enough, would accumulate to a mass larger than all the worlds of heaven combined. There is much importance in little things. · Benevolence presents in beautiful exemplification the spirit of Christianity. Considered as an habitual virtue and a practical duty, it is peculiar to the Christian religion. The susceptibility is, no doubt, original in our constitution, and is but another form, as we have shown, of the same principle of sympathy which gives to human nature its social character; but, like all the other moral qualities of our nature that have survived the fall, though it may manifest itself under the form of the natural affections, it seldom, if ever, rises to the greatness of a disinterested and universal principle, except when expanded and sanctified by Christianity. We do not contend that the person who is not personally pious is incapable of true benevolence, but that even his benevolence is the result of at least that indirect influence which Christian institutions and Christian society sway over his natural sympathies. Paganism never produced an exhibition of it. Even in its most polished epochs, when it gave refinement to taste and perfection to art, when it assembled at its shrine all the glories of genius and the charms of literature, and decorated every scene of life with its classical embellishments, it never gave birth to a single institution of benevolence, much less incorporated it into its code as a practical duty. It gave triumphs to its heroes and commemorated the deeds of its great men. It glorified ambition,
gave splendor to power, and lavished dignities on the offices of political life; but it never could discover in the unostentatious preten. sions of benevolence that true greatness which renders it the boast of the Christian Church, and in the magnificent enterprises it is now prosecuting, the glory of the Christian world, and the sublime instrument of the regeneration of our race.
Nor has philosophical skepticism manifested more congeniality with this noble virtue. The entirely negative character of infidelity, -its disposition to annihilate every thing, while it creates nothing, to divest truth of all life and substance, and to reduce the virtues themselves to mere abstractions, renders it the last soil for the charities of the human heart; a soil in which the rankest vices may luxuriate, but where the virtues droop and die, rather than beautify it with their loveliness. How pre-eminently does the Christian religion shine in the light of this single virtue! Independently of its great doctrinal truths, of the lofty motives it presents to the mind, and the vast range of moral contemplation and spiritual hope it opens before it, stretching even to the length and breadth of eternity, independently of these, or more properly, when we see it clothing these grander attributes in the meekness and simplicity of charity, and wending its way through the putrid alleys of the great city, into the filthy cellar or the shivering garret, and bending an angel of tenderness over the bed of loathsome disease, taking the orphan to its bosom, and pouring its consolations into the heart of the widow, how striking, when thus considered, is its contrast with that idolatry which exhausted its splendors on conquerors and statesmen, or that infidelity whose only virtue is that it delivers man from suffering by petrifying his sensibilities !
STRICTURES ON PROF. UPHAM'S PHILOSOPHICAL WORKS. Elements of Mental Philosophy, by Thos. C. Upham, 2 vols. 8vo.
Boston, 1833.—A Treatise, Philosophical and Practical, on the Will, by the same, 1 vol. 8vo. Portland, 1834.
BY REV. W. M’K. BANGS, A. M. MENTAL philosophy, properly speaking, is the only universal science. It is at once parent and offspring. While a knowledge of its elementary principles seems absolutely essential to any successful effort of investigation, profound and wide spread investigation in the various departments of human knowledge is necessary to a full development of all its principles.
Owing, however, to various causes, it has been the last of the sciences to develope itself. The mind is seen only in its operations, Of course, before these can be observed, some other field of obser. vation must have been provided. The attention must have been aroused to some internal object; and the powers have busied themselves upon it. By this means, the mind itself, as an object of contemplation, is necessarily thrown into the back ground. It is not an easy task at once to be intent upon an internal object and to watch the mind's operation. Beside, the power of abstractionof dealing with pure, intellection, is the last to develope itself, both
in the individual and in the mass. Finally, the mind is too near to itself to be readily contemplated. We must look off, in order to look with ease. Hence but few extended observations have been made by an individual upon himself exclusively. The most useful and comprehensive are those in which rigid self scrutiny comes in to the aid of observation upon others.
While mental philosophy holds a common relation to all the sciences, there are certain important scientific arts which derive from it, in its full development, all their accuracy and value. Logic and education rest not upon the superficial knowledge of mind which will suffice for a starting point in the study of physics. They derive nearly all their principles from the science before us. Philologythe science and art of interpretation and expression,-is a shoot from this great stock,-a pillar supporting and supported in the great temple of sober metaphysics. Yet these are the great weapons of the ministry. Were the question propounded, to what science beside the Divine science, should an ambassador of Christ direct his most resolute efforts, we might answer, with all the energy of Demosthenes, the science of mind.
The age has not failed to appreciate it. As distinguished from the scholastic metaphysics, its importance is now understood, and the elementary knowledge of it is rendered as universal by means of colleges and academies, as that of the dead languages. In proportion, however, to the dependence placed upon it, must be the care with which its principles are developed. Nay, it is more true here than elsewhere, that it is better to say nothing than what is not correct. Intellectual philosophy is only description. The mental philosopher does not construct and invent; he sits and watches. The effect which he may expect to produce, is—not to re-create the mind,—but, to assist us in the management of it, such as it is. By describing it falsely he may lead us to obstruct its regular operation; while, hy not describing it at all, he only compels us to leave it to itself; in which case, though it may at times go astray, or not reach its utmost elevation, it is contrary to all our notions of the goodness and wisdom of God to suppose it will go astray fatally. I am speaking now of the intellectual nature of man, apart from the moral. It may be objected to what is said, that the mind does go astray, and that fatally. But this is owing to moral derangement. Under the operation of a bad heart, man interferes with the operation of his own intellect,ếan evil which it is not in the power of intellectual philosophy to remedy. But to suppose that the mind, when untrammelled by a will, either corrupt or misinformed, can go far astray in the field for which God designed it, is to reject all confidence in the Divine benignity. For this reason, it seems better to leave the mind undescribed, than to describe it badly.
The system of intellectual philosophy before us, may be said to be in very good repute. It is somewhat extensively used in our schools of learning, and seems to be almost the only American authority on the subject. It is the only work which professes to go over the entire field, and to give a clear and systematic view of the doctrines which have been established by full and careful examination. This seems to be the province of a work occupying the place of the present, not to furnish disquisition on the topics com
ing within the limits of the science,-but to present clearly such principles as have been established, and their demonstration. This, in general, is all that can properly be set before the mind of a learner. It is indeed true, that, in the present state of the science, it may be impossible to keep entirely clear of disputed points. But, where such topics are introduced, a distinction should be made. The pupil should know that such and such are debatable points; while others have attained the stability and clearness of scientific deductions. In treating of the will, it would have been more to the purpose to have given us a short account of the variant opinions of metaphysicians, than to have laid down the creed as resting upon the same foundations with the other doctrines of the book, with no note of difference; a creed, too, to be afterward greatly modified, if not cancelled, by its own author.
Professor Upham's work is, in most respects, highly deserving of its position. It is, perhaps, as lucid in its expositions, and as simple in its order, as a work on intellectual philosophy could be made. These qualities are highly important. No work devoid of them, however meritorious in other respects, would deserve the rank of a text book. The judgment with which the author has combined the views of the profound thinkers in this department of science,-the distinctness and simplicity with which he has arranged and expressed them,-are beyond praise.
Honest scrutiny, however, will do the work no injustice. There seem to me to be defects in it,-defects in important doctrine, and defects in particular passages. Especially, there is a great chain of topics running through the work which deserve investigation, both on account of their intrinsic importance, and of the author's manner of treating them. These, after some preliminary remarks, will occupy our attention exclusively.
We will not delay long upon mere peculiarities which do not af. fect any great point. There is a prolixity in some passages of which one would gladly be rid. There is also what seems to be an affectation of eloquence, which is quite misplaced. I do not mean of argumentative eloquence,—the eloquence of profound and comprehensive thought; this cannot be misplaced; but the eloquence of imagery.
Mr. Upham, however, does not generally err in this respect. It is referred to more for the sake of holding up an important principle than for the purpose of censure.
One great obstacle to a successful inquiry into the mental phenomena arises from the images of material things, almost inseparably connected with the language we are obliged to use. According to Mr. Stewart, an author quoted by Mr. Upham with great respect, the perfection of philosophical or rather of metaphysical language, lies in its suggesting no pictures of the kind referred to. Of course, we cannot at present reach an absolute perfection in this respect; yet we can approximate to it. There are not wanting men who aspire to the character of intellectual philosophers, and yet seem constantly reaching at some sparkling gem of fancy,—striving to present pictures to the eye, and musical sounds to the ear. Such men seem to consider mind a thing visible and audible. But from them no discovery can originate. The use of such forms of
expression indicates a mind resting upon opinions already laid down—upon analogies discovered. Almost every metaphor has some tendency to mislead—to divert the mind from straight forward investigation, by casual associations. There is an analogy of relation between mental and material things, upon which it is possible to base figurative expressions without misleading. But there is no great need of metaphors at all. Let the eloquence be that of exact discrimination and of precise expression,—that of one who loves truth,-can discern and forcibly declare it. With this the lovers of truth will be satisfied.
There appear to me to be some things objectionable in the account of the primary laws of belief. Is there not too much of an attempt to establish them by reasoning? Does not Mr. Upham seem to grant, that if we could not establish, we might reject them? That they are incapable of real confirmation is plain. The state. ments of the author forbid the supposition that he intended this; yet he has very nearly attempted it.
The principal use which can be made of these primary laws of belief is twofold:41. To serve the purpose of description. They are parts of the mind. The description may serve the purpose of a test. One may determine by it, for himself, whether his mental processes are running wild or not. He can do the same by its aid for others. 2. By an accurate knowledge of them we are able to detect prejudices; for however firmly these may be wrought into the texture of the mind, they will be found at last to be lacking in the great characteristics of these primary laws. In order that they may serve this end, two things are necessary, neither of which does one find, to the extent desirable, in the work before us. These are. 1. The demonstration, from facts of the mental phenomena, that such and such are primary laws of belief. 2. The characteristics of a primary law of belief, clearly laid down, so as to distinguish it on the one hand from a self-evident truth, or on the other from a deeply-rooted prejudice.
There is one error which the study of mental philosophy has some tendency to produce, against which it may be worth while for an individual to be on his guard.
· It has been already noted that mental philosophy is mere description. The philosopher describes taste as sensibility to the beautiful and the deformed :-informing us what objects gratify and what disgust it. Now, it is important that the description be so made, that the reader will not mistake it for his taste, and judge by it instead of his sensibility. Philosophers tell us that consciousness is a source of knowledge,-an infallible guide to truth of a certain kind. The danger is, that students will believe what consciousness testifies, not because it is true, but because philosophers regard consciousness as a source of knowledge. In other words, the philosopher tests consciousness; whereas, consciousness ought to test the philosopher. We are apt to depend upon the philosophy to sanction our nature; whereas, nature should be looked to to sanction the philosophy.
Perhaps the work under notice has not done all that was necessary to prevent this bad effect.
Let us now see whether there be not one of these laws which Mr. Upham has misunderstood. I refer to that which he entitles