Imatges de pÓgina
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(i. e. of New Testament) compelling an amiable and moral person to live in the society of a worthless husband or wife, and to be the unwilling medium of transmitting immoral dispositions to children appears contrary to benevolence and justice." "The French law seems more reasonable which permitted the parties to dissolve the marriage when both of them, after twelve month's deliberation, and after suitably providing for their children, desired to bring it to a close." (p. 59, 60.)

The fifth commandment requires children unconditionally to honor their parents. Mr. C., by studying the organ of veneration, ascertains that this obligation only extends to cases in which the parents have "wisdom, virtue and experience; and that they must render themselves by their moral qualities and intellectual attainments natural objects of respect before they can hope to receive it of their children." (p. 174.)

The fourth commandment requires us to rest on the Sabbath day; but the laws of the bodily and mental constitution require, says Mr. C., some degree of exercise and recreation. (p. 175.) The Scriptures represent prayer as exerting a persuasive influence over the Divine mind. According to Mr. C. however, God rules by general and immutable laws-such, that "prayer has no effect upon Him, but only works its effects upon us as it contributes to change the temper of our minds, to beget or improve right dispositions in them, to lay them open to the impression of spiritual objects" (p. 175.) Hence, too, every man must inevitably reap the natural consequences of keeping or transgressing any law, and must reap them in this life. "The rigid execution of justice in the present world (by God) is the view to be maintained by Mr. C." (p. 12.)

The Bible teaches that "whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth." Mr. C. contends that he only chastens those with whom he is displeased. "In so far then as calamities arise from the action of physical laws (which are very numerous, and their rations extensive) they ought to be viewed merely as punishments for disobeying those laws." (p. 15.) "The heart-rending desolation of parents, when they see the dearest objects of their love successively torn from them by death, ought to be viewed by them as the chastisement of ignorance or negligence alone, not as proofs of the world being constituted unfavorably for the production of human enjoyment." To avoid suffering then, we have only to observe the natural laws, leaving the author of those laws out of the question-and if suffering comes we are to consider it simply as a penalty, and hasten to repent. How little St. Paul must have known of this philosophy which "clears up the mystery of God's moral government of the world!" RE

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JOICE, says that apostle, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings. To you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him but also to suffer for his sake. Ask Mr. Combe why these primitive Christians had great tribulations, nay, why the blessed Master became the Man of sorrows, and he will give a far different account of the matter. Yet he is sorely offended because the clergy of Edinburgh have presumed to say, that he is laboring, "if not for purposes hostile to the Gospel, at least on the theory that men may be made good and happy without the Gospel.'

3. Mr. Combe appears almost entirely unconscious of the fact that mere knowledge unaided by a higher influence does little for the virtue of mankind. In his estimation too, nothing seems worthy of the name of knowledge, except those formal and generalised statements of truth which we find in books of science; and if ignorant of these, he appears to think that mankind can have no means of securing happiness, or even health. We must understand the structure and functions of the digestive organs, in order even to eat in safety, and be acquainted with the physiology of the lungs and the chemical constitution of the atmosphere, before we can venture to breathe the air of our chambers. Mr. C.'s style of speaking would lead us to suppose that experience could give us no information-that self-preservation had been made by the Creator to depend on the study of phrenology-and that no results of science could become known or useful to common people till they had first learned the process by which such results were discovered.

But not to insist on this, let us suppose that men were thoroughly instructed in the nature and functions of every organ and faculty. Does it follow that they would act accordingly? So thinks Mr. C. "men of average minds, if informed, could not refrain from obeying the natural laws." (p. 51.) "If before the organs of the domestic affections come into full activity the youth of both sexes were instructed in the laws of the Creator relative to marriage, and if the sanctions of religion and public opinion were added, it is hardly conceivable that as a general rule the propensities would act in disregard of all these guides." "If we are cultivating, enlightening and improving the mental ers for this world we are fitting them for the next!" (p. 181.) Knowledge is to make men obedient, and obedience is to be their salvation for this world and the next. This is Mr. Combe's short and easy method.

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4. One of the first requisites in a writer on Moral Philosophy, is that he put forward no principle which is calculated to weaken our sense of accountability, or shake our confidence in moral

distinctions. Whether Mr. C. has done this, will be sufficiently evident from a few extracts. "Men with heads of the worst class are naturally so prone to crime, that they yield to temptation and commit it.” "Extensive observation of the heads of criminals and inquiry into their feelings and histories, place it beyond a doubt that in many of them conscience is (and always has been) either very defective or has literally no existence." "It is extremely questionable whether society should punish severely those who err through moral blindness arising from deficiency of certain parts of the brain!" This is indeed "a revelation !" and there can be little doubt that at Sing Sing and Auburn, it would receive a most cordial reception. We fear, however, that the worthy inmates of those retreats would not be so well pleased with Mr. C.'s method of treatment, though they would doubtless prefer it to the method administered by Capt. Lyndes and Mr. Wiltsie. "What then should be done with this class of beings?" "The old plan of punishment has undeniably failed, and ought to be given up. We should take possession of the persons alluded to, [before they have broken any law,] and treat them as moral patients. They should be placed in penitentiaries, where they should be prevented from abusing their faculties, yet be humanely treated, and permitted to enjoy as much liberty and comfort as they could support, without injuring themselves, or others."

But what is the fundamental principle in Mr. Combe's ethics, that by which he would test the moral quality of actions? Does he recognise a radical and immutable difference between right and wrong and constitute an unvarying standard of duty? Hardly. "Every act is morally right," (he says) which is approved of by an enlightened intellect, operating along with the moral sentiments of benevolence, conscientiousness, and veneration; while all actions disapproved of by these faculties are wrong. (p. 9.) Here we would ask, whose "enlightened intellect" is referred to in the above passage, or how we can know when our own becomes sufficiently enlightened to be taken as a guide. Is this giving us one moral standard, or many? Is it ascribing to actions an intrinsic and fixed moral character of their own, or is it making their character dependent on "the approval of benevolence, conscientiousness, and veneration, enlightened by intellect?" (p. 164.) Is it constituting one law of duty to be made the perfect rule of all; or is it permitting every one to find a law for himself in the dictates of his own mind? The author attributes to Reid, Stewart, and Brown, a doctrine substantially the same with his own-to the last of them with justice; to the other two without any reason.

These lectures abound with novel suggestions, some of which have been already noticed. Of the remainder our limits will permit us barely to advert to a few. On page 113, the reader will find the hints of a new theory for improving the world and rendering mankind better fitted for moral and rational institutions, viz., by improving their brains. The author appears to think that some method may be discovered for " enlarging the moral and intellectual organs," a sure consequence of which would be a rapid progress among all those thus "enlarged," in the arts of civilization. Mothers, therefore, may hope for the invention of a phrenological instrument which, being applied to the heads of their infants, will enable them to prevent the growth of the propensities, and to push the mass of brain towards the frontal and coronal regions, until those infants are made as much wiser and better than their fathers as said fathers will permit-nay, we should not be surprised, if, among the visions which Mr. Combe boasts of having enjoyed from "the Pisgah of Knowledge," (p. 24) one should have been a contrivance for producing at pleasure, (a given mass of infant's brains being furnished,) the head of a Howard, a Newton, or a Shakspeare. It must be admitted, that such a mode of manufacturing great men is much to be preferred to the toilsome one contemplated by our schools and churches; and with a sufficient number of the proposed instruments, it is evident that the world might be regenerated in a much shorter space of time than is generally imagined.

Mr. Combe deserves praise, too, for having pointed out to young ladies and gentlemen a new method of courtship, which is warranted to prevent all incongruous and discordant matches, (p. 53) and for recommending houses of refuge, in which chil dren with bad heads can be placed and treated on phrenological principles. He shows, also, that phrenology is the only science which can account adequately for the origin of society or of civil government for the variety of occupations among mankind, and for gradations in rank!! But the new results at which he has arrived, are too numerous even to mention.

It is plain that we are drawing near to a new and more auspicious era. The Constitution of Man has been stereotyped and published as a reading-book for schools! This, its supplement will, we presume, be adopted as a vade mecum by legisla tors, instructors, parents, lovers, and in short, by all who wish to have happiness without interruption or alloy. We already know men, who, instructed by the former work, have come to regard sickness as a crime, and death as little more than the penalty for violating the known and unknown laws of life ;-and we apprehend that, under the light which will be shed by these

lectures on the duties and obligations of men, a new catalogue of criminal offences will require to be made out, and that sickness, improper diet, neglect of exercise, ill-assorted matches, and above all, deficiencies of brain in the right part of the heads of our children, will be ranked with felony and misprision of treason. Perhaps they will be esteemed more flagrant offences; inasmuch as the latter may be traced to an unfortunate conformation of the head, whereas the former, under the new dispensation, can result from nothing but voluntary ignorance and deliberate disobedience.

ART. XII-The Religious Opinions and Character of Washington. By E. C. M'GUIRE. New-York: Harper & Brothers, 1836. 12mo. pp. 414.

THE assertion has been often lightly made-by such as wished it true that George Washington was an infidel. On the other hand, there have been a great many who, without giving credit to that assertion, have yet too readily admitted the impression that it was very far from being clear he was a Christian. The evidence contained in this book ought to convince both these sort of persons of their mistake. No body can read it without coming to the conclusion, that Washington was either a true believer in the Christian religion-or else a hypocrite of the basest sort, destitute of every honorable and upright principle.

In saying this, we do not, of course, lay any stress upon the mass of evidence-collected by the author from Washington's letters, journals, official writings, and from other authentic sources going to illustrate his worth and excellence in the social relations the strength and fineness of his filial and domestic affections, his charity to the poor, his liberality, disinterestedness and self-denial; his integrity and conscientious uprightness in the discharge of all his moral obligations, his temperance, and his entire freedom from the vices of gaming, profanity, &c. which too frequently stained the characters of his distinguished contemporaries. The proofs on these points, which Mr. M'Guire has arranged in several chapters, exhibit indeed a character of exalted virtue. But we are quite aware that all this would by no means be accepted by the infidel in proof that Washington was a Christian; and we are not now going into

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