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A PRIL NUM B E R.
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ART. I. THE MORAL PHILOSOPHY OF “THE INSTITUTES OF THEOLOGY,” BY REV. RICHARD WATSON.
STANDING on some lofty peak of the Andes, the traveler may see the head-waters of the great South American rivers mingling in one. But soon they separate, and, becoming more and more divergent in their course as they rush onward toward the sea, their mouths are at last separated by the length of a whole continent. So the student in philosophy, standing on the elewated plain of analytic thought, discovers that the two great philosophic systems which have divided the suffrages of learned men, and placed them on totally opposite poles of thought, have their common starting-point in the one question, “Are there any ideas in the human mind which have not come in through the senses from the external world?” Here are the head-waters of the sensational and transcendental schools of philosophy mingling in one, and just as the Amazon and La Plata flow on in opposite directions until they have reached the extremities of the continent, so from the yea or may of this great question, the rivers of philosophic thought flow on in diverse courses until they have reached the antipodes. If you take the negative side of the question you are a sensationalist, and belong to the school of Locke. Hence sense is, for you, the only avenue of knowledge. All the simple ideas existing in the mind are the result of material impressions made upon the sensorium. They are photographs of the external world, the copies that remain after the sensations FourTH SERIES, Vol. XVI.-1
themselves have ceased.* Then the mind is a mere passivity. It has receptivity, but not spontaneity. It has appetency, but not self-determining power. Now you logically tend toward materialism. If all mental phenomena are resolvable into sensation and association, why may not the mind itself be material? If our ideas are only the traces of material impressions, it is most natural to suppose that the substance upon which these copies are preserved is also material, and all mental operations may now be resolved into mere vibratiuncles of the brain. A material nature can have no di priori intuitions; it cannot apprehend fundamental and necessary truth. Its highest conception of moral law is but a calculation of pleasure and pain, a balance of profit and loss. On this theory you can form no rational conception of causation. Creation is inconceivable. Spiritual existences are impossible. God is a nullity. - These consequences are, of course, escaped by taking refuge in faith, and planting your feet on the authority of a supernatural revelation attested by supernatural evidences. The truth of Christianity becomes now a simple question of historic fact, to be decided by the same rules of evidence which are applied to all history, with this essential difference however, that your facts are “sui generis.” They are not facts within the field of nature and experience, and they are consequently burdened by and prior; improbability. The fundamental ideas of God, duty, and accountability rest solely upon miracles. You have no substratum of necessary intuitions or primitive beliefs lying at the basis of revelation. Your only idea of virtue is the doing good to mankind in obedience to the revealed will of God for the sake of eternal happiness.: There can be no unselfish, disinterested love of God or man. If you take your stand on the affirmative side of the ques* James Mill ; “Analysis of the Phenomena of Mind.” + How closely Locke verges toward materialism is indicated in the earnestness with which he contends that God might endow matter with a faculty of thinking and with it of self-consciousness, (see book iv, chapter 3, section 6, and notes.) If thought and self-consciousness may be properties of matter under any form, then they are not the essential characteristic properties of mind or spirit, and we cannot discriminate between the two. We regret that Watson should have given any countenance to this doctrine. At page 83, vol. ii, he says, “that self-consciousness.
*s an essential attribute of spirit cannot be proved.” f Paley: “Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy.”