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was several years ago in a state of decay, so that the modest inscription inscribed upon it by the direction of Watts himself, was scarcely legible. It has since been renewed, we learn, by the munificence of some of the descendants of those his ancient friends; and still records, with the modest mention of his name, the text he selected as the expression of his undying hope :
Go When Christ, who is my life, shall appear, then shall I also appear with him in glory.”
ART. V.- An Essay on the Moral Constitution and His. tory of Man. Edinburgh. W. Tait.
Edinburgh. W. Tait. 1834. 12mo. pp. viii. and 272.
This is a valuable work on a very important subject. It is the production of no common-place mind. Every page of it bears the proofs of strong, independent, and original thought. Whoever thinks at all on his own moral nature, or on the des« tiny of mankind, will read it with deep interest, and find much in it to prompt inquiry, to warm his heart, and guide his thoughts.
The object of this Essay, as stated in the Preface, is, show that mankind collectively, or Society, was destined to grow from infancy to maturity in the same way as individuals are, and that the due consideration of this truth explains the origin of moral evil, the cause of its prevalence under varied forms and extent, and the means of its cure ; and also to consider “as connected with the actual progress of society, the means of its education, provided by Divine Providence, in the different revelations he has given to mankind. These were completed, doctrinally, by Christianity ; but the world being incapable, at the first promulgation of the Christian religion, to comprehend, still more to practise its lessons, the time had not yet arrived for the actual success of the doctrine ; nor has it yet arrived ; but the era is approaching."
The author's point of departure is progress. Man does not come into the world full-grown. Individually and collectively, he is designed by Providence to pass from rude and feeble beginnings, to maturity, to the strength and perfection of which
VOL. XVIII. -N. S. VOL. XIII. NO. III.
he is capable. Knowledge and virtue are to be acquired, by slow and toilsome effort, - often at the expense of temporary suffering and evil.
The individual and the species are both subject to the same law of developement. In attaining maturity, each passes successively under the dominion of different sets of faculties. In infancy the individual is a mere animal, affected chiefly by the appetites, instincts, and passions of animal life. These are all essentially selfish, having for their object the preservation, nutrition, and health of the individual. To these succeeds the imagination. Under the dominion of the imagination the individual has a great curiosity to learn the causes and the uses of every thing; but he is credulous, particularly charmed with the wonderful, and becomes the easy dupe of every tale that is told him.
The intellectual powers come next in order, and assume, or try to assume, the mastery ; but the remains of preceding influences and habits, together with the circumstances, by which the man is surrounded, and which tempt or compel him to fight his way through the world, prevent this mastery from being complete, often from being even predominant. Under the reign of the Intellect, the follies and prejudices of childhood and youth are surmounted, knowledge and strength are gained, but not wisdom and happiness. There remains another set of faculties to be developed, — the moral sentiments. These are last in order ; their predominance constitutes the maturity, the perfection of human nature, and gives moral wisdom, which is the proper attribute of age.
Society comes under each of these different sets of faculties in the same order. The infancy of society is the savage state, in which the animal passions predominate as in children. Savages are wholly occupied with the means of self-preservation, and the gratification of their natural appetites and instincts. The next epoch in social progress is marked by the predominance of the imagination. This is the age of superstition. The imagination, usurping the prerogative of reason, attempts to account for all the phenomena of nature by its own conceits. Whatever is extraordinary it imputes to some mysterious influence; it peoples the world with imaginary beings; - some above, some below men, some good, some bad, - who are for ever interfering with the affairs of mankind, and with the ordinary course or general laws of nature; and, when it has exhausted itself with these fanciful creations, it resorts to the supposed influence of occult qualities, of charms, and of magic. Under a more seductive form, it gives rise to the fables of the poets and to the sublime reveries of the Platonic and Oriental philosophies.
Childhood and youth cannot comprehend the reason of their duties, they must therefore be commanded. They must be governed by authority, and the rule of their duty is obedience. The social epochs, which correspond to childhood and youth in the individual, require, therefore, a different code from that which may be introduced at a more advanced stage of society. They find their moral expression in the code of authority, which appeals, not to conviction, nor to love, but to fear, and, in cases of obstinacy, resorts to force.
To the imagination succeeds the predominance of the intellect. This epoch begins by “chopping logic," attempting, by dint of syllogisms and hypotheses, to penetrate the secrets of nature, or to illustrate the teachings of Divine Revelation, and ends by hitting upon the true method of philosophizing, of which Bacon is the representative; but which can be successfully followed in this epoch, only in the department of physics. The intellect, being in advance of the imagination, requires a more perfect moral code. It demands the code of justice, which finds its expression in law, a rule of right between equals. This code, at first, like that of authority, appeals to fear, and resorts to force; but, after its precepts come to be established in the reason and the habits of men, they are voluntarily obeyed, and its appeal may be said to be to honor.
The fourth epoch, —the golden age of the poets, which however, was not in the infancy of the world, but which shall be in the latter day, is to come. We are now in a state of transition from the age of matured intellect to that of mature wisdom or moral sentiment, with more of the former element as yet, than of the latter, and more occupied with the laws of nature than with those of humanity, but ready to pass to the last stage, which is analogous to that of experienced age in the individual. In this last stage, however, the wisdom of society will rise superior to that of individuals. It will not be tarnished by any of the physical infirmities incidental to individual life. It will not be deteriorated by the personal bad habits of former years. All the evils of former generations may, and will, die with them, - all the good may and will survive; because their posterity will have acquired the wisdom to reject the one and to cherish the other, — to profit by the experience, knowledge, and accumulations of their fathers.
This social epoch will have for its moral expression the code of benevolence. The precepts of this code may be easily distinguished from those of authority, or of justice. Authority commands, and the one commanded has no right to ask why he shall obey ; justice says, Do no wrong to others, submit to no wrong from them. But this cannot be the maxim of a definitive state of society. It is liable to perpetual misconstruction. We may think we are doing no wrong to others, when we are doing them great wrong; and we may believe others are doing us a wrong which we should redress, when they are not. It will always make a great difference in our estimate of any particular action, whether it be done to us, or by us to others. All efforts to obtain a perfect state of society by the rules of justice must prove ineffectual, because the rules themselves are imperfect. Something higher and broader is demanded. This will be found in the code of benevolence, which says, Do more than justice to others, submit to less than justice from them. This, on the one hand, requires us to forgive those who injure us, and, on the other, to inquire, not what others may claim from us as a matter of right, but what good we are able to do them.
This is the natural order of individual and social progress; but it is not effected by man's unaided powers. The child is set forward by the education it receives from the father; so is society by Divine Revelation, designed to educate, not the individual merely, but the species. Revelation, like education, does not seek to supersede the natural powers, but to develope and strengthen them. Education must regard the age and capacities of its subject, at first give the most simple and easy, and gradually proceed to the more complex and difficult; so God does not communicate all truth at once, but gives it in different portions, at different times, as the wants and capacities of society demand or allow. His object in all his revelations is to prepare men for the reign of benevolence. To this end the whole series of revelations points from that made to our first parents in Eden to that made through Jesus Christ. The first revelation was of the simple elements of religion and natural science, and the last was of that sublime code of morals destined to govern the last epoch of society. Between these two, society had received all the great truths of natural religion and the precepts of justice; the object of Jesus, who closed the series of revelations, was not, therefore, to reveal any new religious doctrines, nor to give any new sanctions to the precepts of justice, but to introduce and establish the moral code of benevolence. The peculiarity of the Gospel, then, is in its morality, in the fact, that it bases morality, not on sear nor honor, not on authority nor justice, but on Love. -“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”.
We have here given but a meagre outline of this very interesting Essay; but we cannot give a fuller analysis of it, without exceeding our limits. We may add, however, that the developement of the system we have sketched, exhibits the marks of a master. The limitations which some of the general principles require, and which we have not room to notice, are in most cases stated; and the objections which may occur, are in general taken up and satisfactorily answered. We would mention especially that brought against the triumph of benevolence, from the supposed inherent depravity of human nature. It is admitted that man brings into the world with him the seeds of evil, but it is contended that he also brings with him the seeds of good. That he is subject in some degree to error and liable to sin, is not denied; but he has also the capacity to feel and act liberally, and may be brought under the dominion of benevolence. The position that its morality is the only peculiarity of the Gospel, is supported with much earnestness and strength of argument, and the causes which have aided or retarded its progress, are treated with great ability. Nearly two thirds of the Essay are taken up with these, and evince a patience of research, a philosophical candor, and a Christian tenderness in discussing opinions which are deemed false and mischievous, that cannot be too much commended. That the author is always correct, that he gives to all opinions and events their true influences, or that he always assigns them their true origin, is more than we are willing to assert. We have noticed, in the perusal of his work, a number of points, mostly subordinate matters, on which we should disagree with him; but when he errs, he, for the most part, sheds a light that will enable others to correct him.
But, however much we might object to some things in the work which we have introduced, and which we commend to