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with God's blessing, no excesses of popular wickedness, though I should be myself, as I expect, the victim of them; no temporary evils produced by revolution, shall ever make me forget the wickedness of toryism, --of that spirit which has, throughout the long experience of all history, continually thwarted the cause of God and goodness." The following passages are as pregnant with wisdom as they are alive with earnestness :
“ It seems to me that the real parties in human nature are the conservatives and the advancers; those who look to the past or present, and those who look to the future, whether knowingly and deliberately, or by an instinct of their nature, indolent in one case and restless in the other, which they themselves do not analyze. Thus, conservatism may sometimes be ultra democracy, sometimes aristocracy, as in the civil wars of Rome, or in the English constitution now; and the advance may be sometimes despotism, sometimes aristocracy, but always keeping its essential character of advance, of taking off bonds, removing prejudices, altering what is existing. The advance in its perfect form is Christianity, and in a corrupted world must always be the true principle, although it has in many instances been so clogged with evil of various kinds, that the conservative principle, though essentially false since man fell into sin, has yet commended itself to good men while they looked on the history of mankind only partially, and did not consider it as a whole. .... I myself am conservative in all my instincts, and am only otherwise by an effort of my reason or principle, as one overcomes all one's other bad propensities. I think conservatism far worse than toryism, if by toryism be meant a fondness for monarchical or even despotic government: for despotism may often further the advance of a nation, and a good dictatorship may be a very excellent thing, as I believe of Louis Philippe's government at this moment, thinking Guizot to be a great and good man who is looking steadily forward: but conservatism always looks backward and never forward, and therefore, under whatever form of government, I think it the enemy of all good.”--Life, vol. i, p. 396, vol. ii, p. 19.
One other lesson the Life of Dr. Arnold teaches with great emphasis, namely, that the man who devotes himself earnestly to the good of his race, and pursues a straightforward course of truthful honesty, will, in the long run, however he may be slandered and proscribed for a time, reap the surest reward, not merely in the conscious gladness which the fearless performance of duty always brings with it, but in the applause of all whose good opinion is worth possessing. In his lifetime he was opposed and suspected by men of every party : high-churchmen denounced him as a latitudinarian and a rationalist; low-churchmen as leaning toward Rome; the tories deemed him a restless and unprincipled Jacobin; and the liberals as a stern and unbending church-and-state man; and even his friends, for many years, considered his course as rash, ill-considered, and imprudent. Yet, one by one, the very measures which, when he first broached them, startled all men by their unspeakable boldness, took their place as accomplished facts; one by one his adversaries fell off; and at last, even before he died, he came to be looked up to, by the people of England, as a great leader in the cause of truth and freedom. And now that he is gone, a universal chorus of praise and admiration of his virtues rises up from men of all opinions; and all sects are uniting their contributions to erect a fitting memorial over his grave.
There are many of Dr. Arnold's opinions with which we have no sympathy. His theory of a “Christian state” we consider to be the fond dream of a noble mind; and have not thought it necessary to give any detail of it in this article. But of the spread of his writings we entertain no fear: for the diffusion of his spirit we pray most ardently and earnestly. On a fitting occasion we hope hereafter to give a more extended notice to some of the works placed at the head of this article, especially of the History of Rome and the Lectures on Modern History: in the mean time we advise our readers to read the Life, assured, if they do this, that they will need no urging to become familiar with all the works of THOMAS ARNOLD.
Carlisle, February 1, 1846.
ART. VII.-1. Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation. Second
Edition, from the third London Edition, greatly amended by the Author, and an Introduction by Rev. GEORGE B. CHEEVER,
D. D. New York: Wiley & Putnam. 1845. 2. Explanations : a Sequel to “Vestiges of the Natural History
of Creation." By the Author of that Work. New-York: Wiley & Putnam. 1846.
The first of these books contains an ingenious attempt to explain the formation of the world, and the production of the creatures which inhabit it, by the operation of mechanical and chemical laws; and ends with the logical consequences of such an hypothesis, a material psychology, and a sensual theory of morals. The author endeavors to mask his atheism by professing to admit God as the creator and legislator of the primordial matter, but denies him any direct agency in the subsequent work of creation, and in the government of mundane affairs. His Sequel is an elaborate but unsuccessful defense of his system of nature against the assaults of his reviewers, and a protest against the competency of the scientific class to decide upon the truth of speculations founded upon scientific data.
The author informs us that he " has thought that the time was come for attempting to weave a great generalization out of the [physical] truths already established, or likely soon to be so.” Now we shall be the last to deny that many truths do still lie concealed in the domains of science; but what, we would ask, does this writer know of these hidden truths, that he requires us to yield our assent to a bold induction from them-an induction which banishes God from his own universe, makes man an electro-chemical machine, annihilates all moral distinctions, and destroys the most consolatory of human hopes ? Coming truths do indeed often cast their shadows a long distance before them; but the shadows are almost always so ill-defined, that we can form no safe judgment of the nature of the realities which produce them. No man, whose intellect has been trained in the severe school of the inductive method, would dare to use them either as the warp or woof of a “great generalization." Established truths are solid and unyielding; they have form, consistency, and cohesiveness, and cannot be stretched and mutilated to suit the Procrustean bed of any and every hypothesis. But fancied truths are elastic and pliable as the imagination which conceives them; they can be compressed or expanded to any required dimensions, and distorted to any desirable shape. They are like venal oracles, whose responses never fail to conform to the wishes of him who consults them. A generalization, in whose texture such accommodating materials are combined with established truths, like a web in which warp of iron is filled with woof of gossamer, must fall to pieces with the slightest shock. Yet just such a web has our author woven, from beginning to end.
With a scope so unlimited, the author ought at least to have constructed a system logically consistent in all its parts. But he has not done this. His materialism is indeed consistent with itself throughout; but on this trunk of materialism he has ingrafted branches from a stock of a different order, which can draw no life from its root, and which wither and die when fed by its poisonous sap. The wholesome fruits of the tree of life ripen not upon the fell Cicuta. He has mingled together incompatible doctrines, and vainly sought, by an alchemy peculiarly his own, to fuse them into
a unity of precious gold. Systems of belief the most heterogeneous and contradictory, which never looked each other in the face except in deadly hostility, are huddled together, cheek by jowl, in his book, as if by proximity alone they could be made to shake hands, and forget all past animosities. He professes much reverence for a sort of Deity, to whom he acknowledges no allegiance, and owes no duty; and from whom he expects no protection, hopes no reward, and fears no punishment. He pretends to believe the Bible; and yet discards its light, stultifies its revelations, and builds up a scheme of nature which is abhorrent to its teachings. He honors man; yet claims a pair of monkeys as his progenitors. He loves virtue; yet offers no inducement to practice it, except present gratification or tranquillity. He hates vice; yet can perceive no other than organic differences between the vicious and the virtuous. He explains creation without a creator, the origin of organic life from the forces of inorganic matter, and the spontaneous transmutation of species by a law of universal development; yet sees evidences of design in creation, and believes in final causes. He talks about God as a supreme cause ; yet admits no efficient cause but law, and no basis of law but matter. He alledges that mind and electricity are identical, that the brain is a galvanic battery, and that all mental phenomena depend on certain conditions of matter; yet he imagines it possible that something may be in reserve for man “behind the screen of nature.” He admits that God is ever present in all things ; yet thinks that it would be a wearisome task for him “to be constantly moving from one sphere to another, to form and plant the various species which may be required in each situation at particular times." He denies that God exercises “an immediately superintending power over the mundane economy;" yet feels assured that “ benevolence is a leading principle of the divine Mind.” He seems to suppose that the most rational conception which we can form of God is that of a being who reposes “in silent contemplation of his works, unoffended by evil, pitiless of suffering, satisfied with one eternal round of such doings as we see exemplified upon earth;" and then shrinking back, as if by a revulsion of his better nature, from the isolated sternness of so chilling an idea, which he confesses that the majority of mankind can never be persuaded to believe, he recognizes “moral emotions and doings as a means of rising to and communing with God.” When Geoffroy St. Hilaire promulged his Theory of Analogues," See Whewell's History of Inductive Sciences, vol. iii, p. 457.
to which, by the way, our author is largely indebted, he said, “I take care not to ascribe to God any intention.” He proposed to study the structure and functions of animals in their resemblances to other organizations, by which they are gradually derived from the original type, and without any reference to final causes. when Cuvier speaks of the consistency of the organs with the part which the animal has to play in nature, Geoffroy replies, “I know nothing of animals which have to play a part in nature."* This was honest and bold. The French naturalist saw the logical results of his theory, and did not shrink from avowing them. He had at least the merit of consistency. But the author of the Vestiges, fearful that his conclusions may alarm his readers, drags in his passive Deity, whenever he wishes to close a chapter with an eloquent flourish, or to lull the apprehensions which weak minds, forsooth, may feel, at the startling nature of certain hypotheses, founded on assumptions of unusual hardihood. With all the beauty and apparent sincerity of these passages, we are unable to divest them of a literal meaning somewhat like the following “Be not alarmed, neophyte of nature's mysteries; the dose is quite harmless. Swallow it, and make no wry faces. Behold what copious draughts I myself have taken, and yet mark what a healthful theist I am, and how pious a man!” This writer is not the first of his school who has commended to the unwary a poisoned cup with a honeyed brim. It has been an approved artifice of atheistic strategy ever since Epicurus set the example. A stronghold, impregnable to assault, may be taken by mining; and the author's admissions in regard to a Deity are put forth with no other aim than to mask his subterranean approaches to the citadel of his reader's faith. If he can convince men that God's part of the work of creation terminated with the single act of calling matter and its laws into being, he knows, or ought to know, that then their minds will have been brought to a point from which there is but a hair's breadth to atheism on one side, and material pantheism on the other. It is not more difficult to conceive uncreated matter than uncreated spirit. Why then should God exist for no purpose but to cause the existence of that which could have existed eternally as easily as himself? There is then no God, or matter is God. By a similar step the atheism of Anaximander was a natural offshoot from the dualism of Thales. The founder of the Ionic school assumed an uncreated Intelligence and uncreated matter. His disciple repudiated the notion of God, as unnecessary to an expla
* See Whewell's History of Inductive Sciences, vol. iii, pp. 461, 462.