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⚫ for the existence of evil';-a proof, by the way, how imperfect and uncertain are the deductions of Natural Theology in the absence of Revelation. But we cannot infer from the works of God, either his self-existence, his eternity and immutability, or his absolute perfection. These are discovered to us, primarily, by Revelation; but they are susceptible also of demonstration by reason. Not by the argument from the existence of time and space *, (which is, after all, as Lord Brougham justly remarks, reasoning à posteriori,) but by shewing that the contrary, if not 'inconceivable,' would be an irrational notion, as involving a contradiction or absurdity. That the Cause of all being must be self-existent, is not more evident and certain, the terms being understood, than that, as the Cause of all perfection, he must be all perfect. Otherwise, though a cause would be assigned in the Divine Existence, for the existence of other beings, there would be perfections attaching to created beings, for which no cause would be assignable: they would be effects without a cause. And the absurdity would not be greater, that is involved in the supposition of contingent qualities without a cause, than that which attaches to the notion of contingent existence without a cause. In other words, we might as rationally suppose a finite being to have come into existence of itself, as suppose it to possess qualities of power, wisdom, and goodness for which it was not indebted to its Author, or as suppose that the Author of all power, and wisdom, and goodness, is less than infinitely powerful, wise, and good. And whereas all caused being,' remarks the Author of the Living Temple, 'is, as such, to every man's understanding, confined within certain limits, what can the Uncaused, Self-existent Being be, but most unlimited, infinite, all-comprehending, and most absolutely perfect? Nothing, therefore, can be more evident, than that the Self-existent Being must be the absolutely Perfect Being.'
This, however, it may be said, is still arguing from effects to their cause, which is the argument à posteriori. As we infer from the marks of design in the works of the Creator, the wisdom of the Designer, so we infer by rational deduction, the goodness of God from the quality of goodness in created beings, and from the sense of goodness which he has implanted in us. But although we might infer the wisdom and goodness of the Creator, we could not certainly prove from the manifestation of those perfections, that He is absolutely and perfectly wise and good;
*The unsatisfactory nature of this argument, we have had occasion to shew, in reviewing the acute, ingenious, but unsound reasoning of Mr. Drew, in our review of his work on the Divine Attributes. See Eclectic Review, Second Series. Vol. XXI., pp. 289–306.
-that "God is light, and in Him is no darkness; " because there exist qualities in the creature, and effects in the visible universe, which are of an evil nature, and which would therefore seem to imply a limitation at least in the exercise of those infinite attributes. Nor would it be easy, as it seems to us, by the mere force of reasoning à posteriori, to disprove and convict of absurdity the Manichean theory. The absolute perfection of God must either be regarded as purely a matter of faith, in spite of present appearances to the contrary,-a doctrine of Revelation; or, if capable of being demonstrated by reason, it must be by shewing that it is a necessary truth, the contrary of which involves absurdity.
Lord Brougham expresses his astonishment, that so profound a thinker, and, generally speaking, so accurate a reasoner as Clarke, should have supposed that he could deduce from the self-existence of God his infinite Perfection. Prior to all experience,' he remarks, no one could ever know that there were such things as 'judges or governors; and without the previous idea of a finite ‘ruler or judge, we could never gain any idea of an eternal and infinitely just ruler or judge.' What, then! because we arrive at the knowledge of abstract and necessary truths by means of previous ideas of actual and sensible things, does this prove that there are no such things as necessary truths or self-evident propositions? Without the previous ideas obtained by perception, it is certain that the mind would be incapable of exercising the faculty of reasoning: does this prove that mathematical truth depends upon experience and observation? We must, in our turn, express surprise, that so acute a logician as Lord Brougham should have imputed inconclusive reasoning to Clarke, upon no better ground than his own mistake in confounding the history of the intellectual phenomena (to which the explanation of our arriving at abstract ideas belongs) with the laws of reasoning. We arrive at the idea of eternity, undoubtedly, from our experience of succession, which suggests the idea of time; but does it follow from this fact, that the Eternity of God is an idea derived altogether from our consciousness, having no foundation in the nature of things, or a truth demonstrable only by induction from physical facts?
We have already said, that all reasoning must assume something that is known; and he who would prove there is a God, must assume- if this is indeed to be termed an assumption-that he, the conscious reasoner, exists. But Truth does not depend upon our knowledge of it. That God is, is a fact wholly independent of our belief. We give existence to nothing, by ascer taining its reality. The foundation of our knowledge, therefore,
can never be correctly represented to be in ourselves, but only the means of our discovering or receiving it. Now, among those means is the faculty of pure reasoning, which deals with abstract ideas and necessary truths. If there can be such a thing at all as à priori reasoning upon any subject, surely it may be applied to the nature of HIM of whom we cannot rationally deem otherwise than that, as the Eternal Cause and Fountain of all Being and all perfection, He must in all his perfections be infinite. Even the atheist could hardly refuse to admit that this is the true notion of the Being whose existence he denies. The argument à posteriori, invaluable as it is for the purpose of illustration, and far better adapted to affect the mind, and to awaken emotions of piety, than any abstract reasoning, yet fails as a perfect demonstration. In the absence of certain knowledge derivable from Revelation and Reason, that argument would seem to rest the perfection of the Divine character on a balance of probabilities, on the preponderance of good over evil, either at present or in futurity; and it would suspend the highest obligations of the creature upon the evidence obtainable by this philosophical induction. To argue the Divine Perfections from present appearances and probable anticipations, is to prove what is clear by what is problematical, and to build certainty upon mystery. If proof is wanted in respect to what it is insane to doubt, the demonstration à priori, properly conducted, seems to us the only effectual refutation of the cavils of scepticism, not so much as to the existence, indeed, as to the necessary and absolute perfection of the Deity.
The arguments of the ancient Theists, Lord Brougham remarks, were in great part drawn from metaphysical speculations, some of which resembled the argument à priori; and occasionally their expressions seem to glimmer with the reflected light of the Heavenly Oracles. But, continues the noble Author:
"They were pressed by the difficulty of conceiving the possibility of creation, whether of matter or spirit; and their inaccurate views of physical science made them consider this difficulty as peculiar to the creative act. They were thus driven to the hypothesis, that matter and mind are eternal, and that the creative power of the Deity is only plastic. They supposed it easy to comprehend how the Divine Mind should be eternal and self-existing, and matter also eternal and selfexisting. They found no difficulty in comprehending how that Mind could, by a wish or a word, reduce chaos to order, and mould all the elements of things into their present form; but how every thing could be made out of nothing, they could not understand. When rightly considered, however, there is no more difficulty in comprehending the one, than the other operation,-the existence of the plastic, than of the creative power or rather, the one is as incomprehensible as the other. How the Supreme Being made matter out of the void, is not easily
comprehended. This must be admitted. But is it more easy to conceive how the same Being, by his mere will, moved and fashioned the primordial atoms of an eternally existing chaos into the beauty of the natural world, or the regularity of the solar system? In truth, these difficulties meet us at every step of the argument of Natural Theology, when we would penetrate beyond those things, those facts which our faculties can easily comprehend; but they meet us just as frequently, and are just as hard to surmount, in our steps over the field of Natural Philosophy. How matter acts on matter how motion is begun, or, when begun, ceases-how impact takes place what are the conditions and limitations of contact-whether or not matter consists of ultimate particles, endowed with opposite powers of attraction and repulsion, and how these act-how one planet acts upon another at the distance of a hundred million of miles-or how one piece of iron attracts and repels another at a distance less than any visible space-all these, and a thousand others of the like sort, are questions just as easily put, and as hard to answer, as how the universe could be made out of nothing, or how, out of chaos, order could be made to spring.'
In the fifth section, Lord Brougham treats of the deontological or ethical branch of Natural Theology, and shews that it rests upon the same kind of evidence with moral science, and is, strictly speaking, as much a branch of inductive knowledge. In the first place, the proofs of the separate and future existence of the soul, afforded by the nature of mind, are shewn to be facts belonging alike to Psychology and to Natural Theology: and next, the proofs of immortality derivable from the condition of man in connexion with the attributes of the Deity, are shewn to be as truly parts of legitimate inductive science as any other branch of moral philosophy. In the former part of this section, the reader will find much that is valuable and admirable. We cannot refrain from noticing the ingenious argument against Materialism; that if the mind ceases to exist at death, it is the only example of annihilation which we know.' The argument for the separate existence of mind, and for its surviving the body, founded upon its surviving a total change of the body to which it is united, in all its parts,- a chronic dissolution' during life,— we are afraid must be pronounced more ingenious than conclusive, since what is required to be proved is, the separate existence of the soul after the interruption of the complex life which connects it with its material vehicle *. The argument relating to the probable designs of the Creator, though conducted in a becoming spirit, is of necessity unsatisfactory; for the inductions of moral
*In fact, it has been remarked, that Lord Brougham's argument proves too much, since it would go far towards establishing the immortality of animals.
philosophy upon such points are nothing better than mere speculation and conjecture. The only clear and certain evidence of the will and intentions of the Supreme Governor is confessedly to be obtained from Revelation.
The sixth section is occupied with an examination of Lord Bacon's doctrine of Final Causes; it being the Author's object to shew, that the Father of Inductive Philosophy was not adverse to such speculation when kept within due bounds. The seventh section examines the true nature of inductive analysis and synthesis, and exposes some important errors prevalent on this subject.
The Notes, to which we have already referred, are on the following topics. I. Of the Classification of the Sciences. II. Of the Psychological Argument from Final Causes. III. Of the Doctrine of Cause and Effect. IV. Of the "Système de la Nature," and the Hypothesis of Materialism. V. Of Mr. Hume's Sceptical Writings. VI., VII., VIII. Of the Ancient Doctrines respecting Mind, the Deity and Matter, and the Immortality of the Soul. IX. Of Bishop Warburton's Theory concerning the ancient Doctrine of a Future State. X. Of the Cha
racter of Lord Bacon.
Upon the whole, the volume must be regarded as, under all the circumstances, an extraordinary production, displaying the versatile, brilliant, and all-excursive mind of the noble Author in a new phase, and affording honourable indications of a sincere desire to promote the best interests of his fellow men. Lord Brougham is evidently conscious that the purest fame is neither that of the great lawyer, nor of the accomplished orator, nor of the astute politician, nor even of the man of science, but such as attaches only to the memory of those who have laboured to make their generation more wise and good; and never can ambition take so useful a direction as in prompting endeavours that have this aim. We trust that his Lordship's performance may, on the one hand, prove extensively beneficial to a class of readers little accustomed to have their attention directed to any theological inquiries. And should it, on the other hand, serve to recommend the study of the works of God to good men, it will answer a not less useful purpose. In His works, as well as in His word, God reveals himself to those who seek Him, "as he does not unto the world." It were a worthy object, to rescue Natural Theology out of the hands of those philosophers who would fain construct a scientific religion that might perchance rival the religion of faith. Deo erexit Voltaire,' inscribed the unhappy enemy of Christ on the porch of his church at Ferney. But if Revelation is true, there is but one "way to the Father"; and "without faith, it is impossible to please Him."
We should be glad to feel warranted in receiving this volume