Imágenes de páginas


We close our remarks on this useful publication by observing, that, while we commend the literary zeal, diligence and ability of Mr. Stowe in preparing it for the press; and while we sincerely wish the enterprizing booksellers who patronized the undertaking, may be remunerated by a ready and extensive sale; we, nevertheless, think that better things ought to be expected and attempted in the department to which the volume before us belongs; and attempted we will add, if no where else, on this side of the Atlantic. We are indebted to the Seminary at Andover for many valuable presents in reference to Biblical Literature. We should be truly gratified to welcome another from the same quarter, on this great field of sacred labour. We cannot forbear to express a hope that some gentleman there, with all the nerve and elasticity of youthful movement, will, before long set about it. Let him not, however, think of issuing his Prospectus for publication in eighteen months, even two years after sitting down to the job. Let him calculate patiently to devote to it the leisure hours of twelve or fourteen years. Let him avail himself freely, but with much thought and discrimination, of the labours of Heidiger, Usher, Buddæus, Spencer, Basnage, Selden, Vitringa, Shuckford, Prideaux, Bedford, Hales, and some score of other folios and quartos, rich in materials of different qualities. Let him explore the pages of Saurin's Discours Historiques, Critiques, Theologiques, &c.," which, we believe, have never been translated into English. Let him carefully consult Allir, and Father Simon, and Cloppenburgh, and Spanheim, and Lightfoot, and Winder, and Stilling fleet, and Delaney, and Warburton, and Faber, and a number of the more judicious modern Germans, whose writings have not yet become familiar to American scholars; taking the quintessence of their best matter from them all; compressing into a single page, in many cases, the opinions, arguments, and authorities which they often spread over half a dozen, or more. Let him guard against the fault into which so many historians, as well as commentators have fallen, the fault of being copious and fluent on the easy places, and passing over, either in total silence, or with a few unsatisfactory words, the really difficult ones, as if he saw them not. When a work on this plan shall be executed, --and it will require nothing more for its execution than strong good sense; sobriety of mind; a pious recollection, at every step, that the great subject in hand, is nothing less than the church of the living God, in its various characters and relations; and a capacity for close, patient attention,

; and indefatigable labour ;-then our intelligent Christians will be furnished with a companion, which they will all highly prize, as an auxiliary in every department of religious reading; and our Theological Seminaries with a text-book, for the first part of their historical course, more convenient, rich, and instructive than they have ever yet enjoyed. When two or three large editions of Jahn's work shall have been sold and worn out, we hope the next generation of Professors in our Seminaries, will be so happy as to hail the completion, and enjoy the great advantages of such a present as we have now recommended,


The late Dr. Brown, Professor of Moral Philosophy, in the University of Edinburgh, some years ago, published a book, entitled CAUSE AND EFFECT, in which he revived and defended the opinion of Mr. Hume, on the subject of power. It is due, however, to the ingenious author, to state that he distinctly disavowed Hume's skeptical inferences from this doctrine.

The same opinions, and the same reasonings, in support of them, are exhibited in his lectures on the philosophy of the mind, a more recent publication. And as the Philosophy of Dr. Brown has many admirers in this country, and has received unqualified recommendations from high authority, it will not, we trust, appear unreasonable or unnecessary, even at this late period, to bring his theory to the test of a fair examinatiðn ; this is the object of the present article.

The opinion of Dr. B. to which I have referred is, that in philosophical accuracy, there is no such thing as causation or power ; that immediate invariable antecedence is all that properly enters into the idea of a cause, and immediate invariable consequence, the true idea of effect; and accordingly, that power is nothing else but the relation between an immediate invariable antecedent and consequent. In plain English, his opinion is, that there is no such thing in nature as power; and that when we mean any thing more by this word, than merely to express the invariable antecedence of one thing to another we speak inaccurately, and unphilosophically. The words cause, causa

tion, power, energy, efficacy, &-c. express nothing, according to his theory, that is intelligible, besides the mere relation of antecedence and sequence.

It is admitted, however, by Dr. B. that almost the whole human race have annexed to these terms, or those which correspond with them, in their respective languages, ideas different from what he considers correct. The structure of all languages furnishes irrefragable proof of this fact. The notion of action, causation, energy, &c. is so common among men, that children and savages entertain it as familia arly as any others. It is an idea which is contained in every active verb, and no man can devest himself of it, or speak half a dozen sentences without using words which plainly convey this meaning. This fact is so manifest, that the ingenious author does not call it in question. He admits that the opinion which he maintains, is contrary " to the almost universal sense of mankind.” Now such a general consent is commonly, and we think, justly considered as a strong proof, that the idea or sentiment, in which men so agree, is founded in nature, and accordant with truth. It must be strong reasoning, indeed, which shall demonstrate that an opinion entertained by men of all nations, however different in language, in manners, in education, in government, and in religion, is false. If this could be done, then all difference between truth and prejudice would be obliterated. To establish the certainty of the existence of power or causation, the argument derived from universal consent, appears to us to be irresistible ; for we cannot suppose, that all men of all nations, from early childhood to hoary age, could

to adopt an opinion which had no foundation, without admitting the absurd consequence, that all men are so constituted, that they are by necessity led to embrace error instead of truth. And this supposition would not answer the purpose of Dr. Brown, as it would render it impossible for him to establish any opinion as true; for that constitution


of human nature which leads men invariably astray, in one case, ought to be suspected in all. The true principles of philosophizing, should have led to a directly contrary conrse of reasoning. He should have assumed the fact, that all men possessed of reason, entertain from their earliest years the opinion that there is such a thing as power or causation; and this idea being incorporated, inseparably with every language in the world, it is a just conclusion, that this is one of those common notices, or self evident truths, which from the 'very constitution of our nature, we are under the necessity of receiving. Let any man attempt to form a language from which all idea of active energy or causation shall be excluded, and he will soon find that this is no vulgar prejudice, but a fundamental truth; an idea, which if it were removed from the human mind, would leave a vast chasm in all our reasonings and systems of truth, in every branch of science. If a people should ever be discovered, who used a language which did not involve, in every sentence, the conception of power and causation, this single fact would go farther to prove them to be of another species, than all the diversities which have hitherto been observed among the nations of the earth,

But let us see how Dr. B. disposes of this acknowledged fact, of the almost universal existence of the idea of power. He attempts to show, that there are analogous cases, in which, prejudices have, for a long time, had an almost universal prevalence. The instance which he adduces, and to which he often recurs, is the notion of a certain something, existing with all bodies, which the schoolmen, aster Aristotle, called form, or substantial forms. This notion, it may be admitted, was as extensive, and existed as long as the Aristotelian logic prevailed. But the case is no how parallel to the one under consideration. The opinion respecting substantial forms, belonged to a peculiar system of philosophy, and as long as that system maintained its ground, it

« AnteriorContinuar »