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quotation above, consists rather in the language than in the thought; but be this as it may, it led Dr. Brown to believe that he had made a most important discovery. A very few words, we have the presumption to think, will expose the fallacy which our ingenious author has practised upon himself. This invariableness of antecedence, observed when we consider two objects in a certain relation, is a very striking phenomenon: we may see antecedents and consequents without number; but invariable antecedents and consequents are not so frequent. The latter, therefore, are different from the former; and the difference consists in the invariableness of the relation. This invariableness then is not a necessary condition of antecedence. Consequently, it must be either self-existent in the observed cases of its existence, or dependent. The former supposition will not be maintained by any; the latter, therefore, is the only conclusion that invariableness of antecedence is dependent. And it may be dependent either upon the antecedents themselves, or upon the author of nature. The Creator of the Universe may either have endowed all things with certain properties or powers, so that in similar circumstances their mutual action should invariably be the same; or the Almighty may be the sole agent throughout all his works in their minor changes, as he was in that great change when they were called from nothing. We need scarcely add that the former supposition is that which obtains generally; and the latter agrees with the system of occasional causes, which Dr. Brown labours so ably, and we think so justly, to overthrew.
There is yet another system which harmonizes in every particular with Dr. Brown's speculations; and which, if we have not mistaken the meaning of his writings, is really that which he embraced:*-we allude to an extremely visionary hypothesis of Leibnitz. If we suppose all the events of nature to take place in a certain order of time, but wholly independent of each other, so that if any one had not existed, the others would, nevertheless, have taken place at their appointed times, according to the order pre-established by God himself, we will thus have invariable antecedents and consequents without any bond of connexion between them. Each change will, on this supposition, be only a succession of events that have no relation whatever to each other except that of contiguity of time. Every event will depend immediately upon the decree of the Almighty, and will com
* We do not mean that Dr. Brown professedly embraced it; for against this be has guarded, Lecture xxxi. vol. i. p 396. But we think he has in the Inquiry, left himself no other system, we had almost said among those that are possible; we may say among those of which we can form any conception.
mence existence, and cease to be, at the appointed moments. Whether Dr. Brown intended it or not, the fact is that bis reasonings on the relation of cause and effect, are decidedly favourable to a pre-established harmony of the universe. Indeed, we can imagine but three systems: that of real causation; that of occasional causation; and the system of Leibnitz and as Dr. B. refused his assent to the two first, the last was, perhaps, unavoidable.
We presume that nothing more is necessary here, than to make mention of the pre-established harmony: we may be employed more agreeably and profitably in following Dr. Brown into some of the consequences of his theory of causation. From his account of power, it results that there is no such thing except during causation; or that power has no existence when not exerted. The absurdity of this must at once be manifest to all who use the term power, in its usual acceptation. That any thing should both produce an effect, and at the same time be dependent upon its producing of that effect for its own existence, is equivalent to the proposition that the same thing may, and may not be at the same instant. Nor will our author's definition of power, if designed to be anything more than a description of an event without offering any cause for its existence, assist him in escaping from this dilemma: the only way of avoiding so glaring an absurdity, is to refer the invariableness of antecedence, the observed fact, to the will of the Deity as its cause; and this Dr. Brown has done. The Eternal is selfexistent; and his volitions originate with himself; and, therefore, to make his will the cause of all changes, involves no contradiction, and is perfectly adequate in this hypothesis, it is the power of the Highest which produces all effects; and to call the mere description of the circumstances of the change,
* The refutation of this same opinion exercised the acumen of Aristotle; and, perhaps, the length of the quotation will be excused in order to satisfy those who may be curious to remark the agreement of thought and words into which Dr. B. has fallen, after the lapse of twenty-two centuries. Εισι δέ τινες οι φασιν είναι οιον Μεγαρεικοι, οταν ενεργη, μονον δυνασθαι, οταν δε μη ενεργῃ, μη δυνασθαι. οιον, τον μη οικοδομούντα, μη δυνασθαι οικοδομειν. ως τα συμβαίνοντα ατοπα ου χαλεπον ιδειν. δηλον γαρ οτι ούτε οικοδομος εσται εαν μη οικοδομή, αδυνατον τας τοιαυτας έχειν τέχνας μη μανθάνοντα ποτέ, και λαμβάνοντα, και μη έχειν μη αποβάλλοντα πατε. η γας ληθη η παθει τινι η χρονω. ου γαρ δη τον γε πραγματος φθαρέντος... αλλα μην ουδ' αισθησιν εξει ουδέν αν μη αισθάνηται, μη δ' ενέργῃ. ει ουν τυφλον το μη έχον αμιν, πεφυκος δε και οτε πέφυκε, και ετι ως οι αυτοί τυφλοι εσονται πολλακις της ημέρας και κωφοι. ετι ει αδύνατον το εστερημένον δυναμεως, το μη γενόμενον, αδύνατον εσται γενεσθαι....αει γαρ το τε εστηκος εστήξεται και το xanμevov nadedeira.-Aristotelis Metaphysicorum, lib. vii. Opera, tom. ii- 235. Basiliæ, 1531.
(which is the utmost that is expressed by telling us that the relation is invariable) power, by which has always been meant that which causes the change, has stronger claims to the appellation of an abuse of terms, than of anything else.
It may seem, however, that we have not gained much by reducing Dr. Brown's opinions to this-that all changes depend immediately upon him Him who calleth things that are not, as though they were: for "the power of God," says Dr. Brown, "is nothing different from God."* If the author mean that the power of Jehovah cannot exist independent of, or separate from himself, a very plain proposition is obscured by language which affects to convey something before unknown. But if that be intended which the language is best adapted to express, that the power of God is the same as God, or is God, the proposition is not only blasphemous, but also ridiculous. If the power of Jehovah be himself, may not his wisdom and his goodness be exalted with equal reason? and thus we will have as many Gods as there are attributes in the divine nature. Should this exaltation be extended no farther than to power, wisdom and goodness must be considered as the attributes of power. But we gladly leave a topic which we were induced to notice from having seen this proposition of Dr. Brown's, commended for its sententious brevity and justness: whereas, it is almost selfevident that a common notion is obscured through an affectation of novelty; or that the proposition is mere nonsense.
We have already noted our author's opinion as respects one of the sources of what he esteems the common error in relation to our idea of necessary connexion; and we have seen that the rejection of the "latency of power," compels Dr. Brown to attribute all causation to that one Being, to whom even the "Inquiry" gives the titles of Almighty and Omnipotent. Dr. Brown is, if possible, still less successful in tracing the vulgar notions on this subject, to the influence of the arbitrary forms of language. This is to suppose that the forms of language were laid down previously to their being used: the conceptions must have existed before the words which express them, or the words would not have had an origin; and this mistake of Dr. Brown is the more remarkable from his having clearly seen the error of the nominalists. The forms of language then, are corroborative of the correctness of the opinions assailed by Dr. Brown; since they prove the agreement of all nations in ascribing action to some objects, and passion to others. The words "connected," conjoined," "bond of union," were used as significant of the
*Inquiry, p. 64. Lectures on Phil. Human Mind, vol. i. p. 86.
relation of cause to effect, only in consequence of some preconceived notion; and, therefore, could not have had any efficiency in giving rise to this notion. Neither is it more true, that "the constant search and frequent detection of causes before unknown, thus found to intervene between the more manifest sequences of phenomena," has any influence in causing us to imagine some secret tie between the parts of every series, since the belief of this "intermediate something" must have originated the "constant search;" and without this persuasion, mankind would never have sought after anything beyond the obvious phe
Dr. Brown's theory appeared so unquestionable to himself, that he has not occupied any of his pages with the refutation of objections to it: in some observations on the opinions of Mr. Hume, however, he takes occasion to discuss the "strange" idea of Dr. Reid, that Mr. Hume's theory of necessary connexion would prove night to be the cause of day, and day the cause of night and we must say, that Dr. Brown has not fairly met this argument against the definition of a cause as an invariable anteeedent. He has expatiated beautifully on the morning dawn and evening twilight; but has avoided the very point of the objection. Certainly the force of Dr. Reid's example of invariable antecedence without causation; does not rest upon the length of the interval which may elapse between darkness and broad daylight. There is a point of time when the first rays of light diminish the obscurity at any place; and then there is a change-a certain shade of darkness, if we may be allowed the phrase, is followed by a shade less deep; and this again by one still less gloomy, till the dazzling splendour of light scatters glory and joy throughout the land. If the twilight be thus divided into instants, there will be a change every instant; and these successive states are invariably and immediately antecedents and consequents of each other, and, therefore, causes of each other, according to the theory of Dr. Brown and Mr. Hume. If our earth were of a perfectly regular and smooth surface, and there were no refracting medium between it and the sun, or a medium of uniform density, day and night would succeed each other instantaneously: yet we may safely say that no one would then imagine day to be the cause of night, nor night the cause of day.
With another example of invariable antecedence we are all familiar the affections of our organs of sense, and the consequent perceptions of the mind. The organic affection, however,
* Inquiry, p. 170.
is not invariably followed by the corresponding perception : nevertheless, Dr. Brown calls the impression upon the organ the cause of the state of mind, which, in his phraseology, is perception. In like manner, certain words are the causes of the ideas of the mind when we peruse any writing. Now it seems to us that both these examples contradict Dr. Brown's theory; and that to impute causation to the organic affections or the words of a book, is entirely unauthorized. If thoughts be acts of the mind, we may speak of the occasions of our thoughts; but their cause is the mind itself.
We have wished to shun minute and verbal criticism; and have endeavoured to collect our author's meaning from a careful comparison of the various passages where it was most pointedly expressed: yet we cannot leave this part of Dr. Brown's speculations without bringing to the test some assertions, of which, we think the correctness to be more than questionable. "When we say of any thing that it has been followed, is followed, and will always be followed by a particular change, and say at another time, that it has the power of producing that change, we do not make the slightest difference of affirmation; we only alter the words in which our unaltered meaning is conveyed."* Now, whether we speak accurately or not, it is very plain that the phrases quoted above are not equivalent. In the one, we ascribe the change to the antecedent as the cause of its existence; in the other, we merely affirm that the change is, and always will be subsequent to the antecedent: while it must be adinitted that the cause of this subsequence may be an act of the Almighty's will, or a decree which has been from eternity. In the pre-established harmony of Leibnitz, the movements of the body are supposed to be adjusted to the acts of the mind, so as to answer all the phenomena, while the acts of the mind and the motions of the body are completely independent of each other, each series separately depending on the appointment of the Creator. In this hypothesis, it would be very absurd to call the mental desire the cause of the motion of a limb, though perfectly unexceptionable to say that the desire has been, is, and always will be followed by the corporeal movement It is not to be denied, we assume, that the Creator might have endued objects with certain properties, by the agency of which they may originate changes; and the only question which can need our attention is, whether this has been done, or whether the fiat of Jehovah himself intervenes in every change; either immediately, as in the system of occa
Inquiry, p. 67.