Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

236 TRUE REMEDY FOR HUMAN DEPRAVITY.

arrested in his designs, by appealing to an organ of Conscientiousness, and the statement that this principle is superior to Acquisitiveness and Secretiveness, for that these organs lie at the base of the brain, while that of the former lies on the coronal surface? There seems to be here so slender a ground to serve as the foundation of so vast an edifice-so immense a distance between the admitted premises and the desired conclusion, that I am at a loss to conceive how any sane individual can seriously believe for a moment, that upon such a foundation as this he can be able to rear a system for the recovery of a lost world.

But though it were certain, that, by the means proposed, man were capable in some respects of improving his condition, one thing is clear, that if we are right in our account of human depravity, no effort of man can avail to remedy that evil, because it must ever remain impossible for him to remove its cause. That cause, as has been explained, is the alienation of man from God, banishment from his favour and presence, the dissolving of that intercourse and connection with God, in which he was originally placed, in which state only his faculties were furnished with their highest objects, and where only he could use them in unison with the divine will. Created for a state of dependence upon a Being of infinite perfection, nothing can remove the evils caused by his revolt, but restoring him to the same state. It is needless to ask if the means proposed by Mr Combe will effect this. All his pretended remedies are mere palliatives, utterly powerless to effect any important relief while this grand evil remains unredressed. As well might it be attempted, in the case formerly supposed, of the earth being removed from the cheering influence of the sun, to supply the want of that influence by artificial means, as to remove the evils of man's lot, and the defects of his

[ocr errors]

present state, by such wretched expedients. As, in the one case, nothing could effect a satisfactory change, but to restore the globe to its place; so, in the other, nothing can remedy the condition of man, but bringing him back to that God whose favour alone is life. Almighty power alone is capable of effecting this revolution, and Almighty power has been exerted to effect it. A free offer of restoration is held out to those who will accept it, but so deep seated is the evil, as to take away from many even the desire of being restored.

It is needless to carry this speculation farther. Those who are willing to understand the doctrine we maintain, will see that it is consistent with phrenological as with all other known truth. Those who are determined not to understand, are proof against any reasoning. It is needless to continue the discussion for their sakes: "They are joined to their idols: let them alone."

CHAPTER VIII.

OBJECTION TO THE PARADISAICAL STATE OF OUR FIRST PARENTS CONSIDERED.

MR COMBE, like the divines, seems to consider the doctrine of the corruption of human nature as the test by which his system is to stand or fall. Hence he directs against it every argument his ingenuity can devise. In connection with this doctrine it is generally held, that man was placed, at his creation, in a paradise, from which pain and death were excluded, and that those evils were afterwards brought upon him in consequence of his fall. Mr Combe objects to this, that man is endowed with certain faculties, which fit him for a

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

scene of danger, pain, and death, and which would be unsuited to a state into which these were not allowed

to enter.

In his general account of the faculties, Mr Combe states, with regard to Combativeness, that "it obviously adapts man to a world in which danger and difficulty abound;" and that Destructiveness " places man in harmony with death and destruction, which are woven into the system of the sublunary creation." If Mr Combe had been imbued with the true philosophic spirit to which he lays claim, he would have been satisfied with stating this to be the case in relation to the present system of things; and had he done so, his statement would have been liable to no objection, for so far it is unquestionably true.

But Mr Combe is not satisfied with this. He has overstepped the proper boundaries of legitimate inquiry, and most unphilosophically attempted to rear up an argument against a doctrine with which he had nothing to do. After mentioning what is quite true, that Cautiousness is "admirably adapted to the nature of the external world," he adds," It is clear that the gift of an organ of Cautiousness implied that man was to be placed in the field of danger. It is adapted to a world like the present, but would be at variance with a scene into which no evil could intrude."

The tendency of this last remark is sufficiently obvious; but to remove all doubt, Mr Combe adds the following paragraph, in which he openly attacks the opinions on this subject held by divines, opinions which, whether they are true or false, lie beyond the province of fair philosophical inquiry.

[ocr errors]

Referring to the propensities which have just been mentioned, he says, " Theologians who enforce the corruption of human nature would do well to consider

[ocr errors]

whether man, as originally constituted, possessed the organs of these propensities or not. If he did possess them, it will be incumbent on them to shew the objects of them in a world where there was no sorrow, sin, death, or danger. If these organs were bestowed after the Fall, the question will remain to be solved, whether man, with new organs added to his brain, and new propensities to his mind, continued the same being as when these did not form parts of his constitution. Or, finally, they may consider whether the existence of these organs, and of an external world adapted to them, does not prove that man, as he now exists, is actually the same being as when he was created, and that his corruption consists in the tendency to abuse his faculties, and not in any inherent viciousness attributable to his nature itself."

This passage proves Mr Combe either to be entirely ignorant or entirely neglectful of the proper objects of philosophical inquiry, and of the boundary which separates its legitimate sphere from those subjects into which reason unable to penetrate. He has overstepped this boundary. He has departed completely from the course which he had marked out for himself in his preface. He there says, "I confine my observations exclusively to man AS HE EXISTS in the present world, and I beg that, on perusing the subsequent pages, this explanation may be constantly kept in view." I humbly apprehend that Mr Combe has here forgotten his own limitation, and extended his inquiry to subjects not relating to man as he exists in the present world, but relating to man as he existed in a different state, as to which natural reason furnishes no information.

[ocr errors]

Theologians are not called upon to consider whether man, as originally constituted, possessed the organs of the propensities alluded to or not. Their duty, as

the so theologians, is to give a correct interpretation of Scrip19.4.27. ture, and not to presume to be wise above what is written. Scripture furnishes no information whatever respecting the organs of the brain, either as they existed at the creation, or as they exist now. As an object of natural science we may properly inquire into their present state, but all information fails as to their condition in a previous order of things. The bare proposing of such a question indicates a mind not thoroughly imbued with that true philosophical spirit, so beautifully alluded to by Dr Thomas Brown, in his introductory lecture," a spirit which is quick to pursue whatever is within the reach of human intellect, but which is not less quick to discern the bounds that limit every human inquiry, and which, therefore, in seeking much, seeks only that which man may learn.”

Again, supposing man to have possessed such faculties at his creation, it is just as little incumbent upon theologians to shew what were the objects of them in a paradisaical state, a world where there was no sorrow, sin, death, or danger. We may conjecture what might have been their use in such a world, but we never can possibly know. Mr Combe has pointed out certain uses which they serve in the world as it now exists, and that was enough for his avowed purpose, and all that as a philosopher he was entitled to do. Had he been inclined to treat the subject philosophically, he would have said, that he was not called upon to shew their uses in such a state; but that doubtless, in whatever state man may have been placed before the commencement of the present system of things, from the known wisdom and goodness of the Creator, we may be sure that he would be furnished with proper objects for the employment and gratification of all his faculties.

The next question is not excelled in absurdity, by any

« AnteriorContinuar »