Imágenes de páginas


think. And he cannot be certain, that God hath not framed the matter of our bodies so as to be capable of it." If this conclusion from the passage in the Essay on Human Understanding were just, it would then follow that the opinions of Locke were correspondent with those contained in the French philosophy. It is presumed that the true state of the case is otherwise. In the passage alluded to, Locke meant no more than that "A thinking substance may be combined with a stone, a tree, or an animal body; but that not one of the three can of itself become a thinking being:" and "what is true of one material substance, is true of every other; for all matter, whether organic or inorganic, fluid or solid, is endowed with the same essential properties." But let the immortal Locke speak for himself. "Your Lordship argues, that upon my principles it cannot be proved that there is a spiritual substance in us. To which give me leave, with submission, to say, that I think it may be proved from my principles, and I think I have done it; and the proof in my book stands thus. First, we experiment in ourselves thinking. The idea of this action or mode of thinking, is inconsistent with the idea of self subsistence, and therefore has a necessary connexion with a support or subject of inhesion: the idea of that support is what we call substance; and so from thinking experimented in us, we have a proof of a thinking substance in us, which in my sense is a spirit. Against this your Lordship will argue, that by what I have said of the possibility that God may, if he pleases, superadd to matter a faculty of thinking, it can never be proved that there is a spiritual substance in us, because upon that


[ocr errors][merged small]

supposition it is possible it may be a material substance that thinks in us. I grant it; but add, that the general idea of substance being the same every where, the modification of thinking, or the power of thinking joined to it, makes it a spirit, without considering what other modification it has, as, whether it has the modification of solidity or no. As on the other side substance, that has the modification of solidity is matter, whether it has the modification of thinking or no. And, therefore, if your Lordship means by a spiritual, an immaterial substance, I grant I have not proved, nor, upon my principles, can it be proved, your Lordship meaning (as I think you do) demonstratively proved, that there is an immaterial ́sub> stance in us that thinks. Though I presume, from what I have said about the supposition of a system of matter, thinking (which there demonstrates that God is immaterial) will prove it in the highest degree probable, that the thinking substance in us is immaterial. But your Lordship thinks probability not enough, and by charg ing the want of demonstration upon my principles, that the thinking thing in us is immaterial, your Lordship seems to conclude it demonstrable from principles of philosophy."

This elucidation of the passage is exceedingly satisfactory: the inference of the arguments of Locke, being the highest probability and opinion that the thinking thing in us is immaterial, and the inference of the arguments of the Bishop of Worcester being the demonstration and certainty that the thinking thing in us is immaterial. The fact is, the philosophy of Locke, like that of Bacon, having "God for its author," was derived from the pure fountain of truth. For this corruptible anust put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on im

mortality:" so that what Locke said, "To shew that all the great ends of religion and morality are secured barely by the immortality of the soul, without a necessary supposition that the soul is immaterial," he maintained "that immortality may and shall be annexed to that which in its own nature is neither immaterial nor immortal, as the Apostle has expressly declared." After having quoted from the Tusculan Questions and the sixth book of the Æneid, he proves that Cicero and Virgil put the same distinction between body and spirit as the writers of the Old and New Testaments had done. "That the one was a gross compages that could be felt and handled; and that the other, such as Virgil describes the ghost and soul of Anchises to be." The following elucidates the fact: "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." These arguments respecting the true meaning of the passage which has been here cited, Locke concludes with the following affirmation of his doctrine; which, I conceive, few persons will be hardy or bold enough to attempt to controvert. "Upon my principles," says Locke, "i. e. from the idea of thinking, we can have a certainty that there is a thinking substance in us; from hence we have a certainty that there is an eternal thinking substance. This thinking substance, which has been from eternity, I have proved to be immaterial. This eternal, immaterial, thinking substance, hath put into us a thinking substance, which, whether it be a material or immaterial substance, cannot be infallibly demonstrated from our ideas; though from them it may be proved, that it is to the HIGHEST DEGREE PROBABLE THAT IT IS IMMATERIAL. This, in short, my Lord, is what I have to say on this


point." Still modern chemists maintain that nothing but matter can act upon matter; therefore the soul, say they, is material. But Locke has proved, that there is an eternal, immaterial, thinking substance; now this eternal, immaterial, thinking substance creates, supports, and governs all things, material and immaterial: upon this we conclude that an immaterial substance CAN act upon a material substance. Thus the argument of modern chemists respecting materialism, is at one blow annihilated. We need not hesitate then in affirming with Mr. Rennell, that "Notwithstanding all the attempts which have been made to dissolve the connexion, Revelation and science will ever receive a mutual countenance and support from each other. All the labours of philosophic research have illustrated the page of Revelation, and Revelation itself has added strength and solidity to the discoveries of science."* Impressed with these ideas, and not till then, man exerts his intellectual powers to advantage-here his study of philosophy and true theoretic science properly begins: it is here that the lover of wisdom inhales the purest vital air; it is in the regions of unsophisticated truth, that students in every department of scientific research employ their energies to the best possible advantage for themselves and their fellow men.


Remarks on Scepticism, page 131.


Opinion that if Horne Tooke had pursued the same course of reasoning as Locke had done, respecting fundamental doctrines, he would then have been able to answer his own query respecting the substantive and the verb-application of the two preceding chapters to the question of Horne Tooke-none else than the FIRST CAUSE can say I HAVE EXISTENCE IN OR WITH MY ESSENCE-inference and exemplification of the nature of the artificial verb and definition elucidation of five elementary parts of speech and the use of the article and other restrictives the use of supernumerary particles when reasoning on the simple proposition.

IT is evident, to me at least, that if Horne Tooke had availed himself of the course of reasoning which had been adopted by Locke, respecting intellect and Revela tion, and had he imbibed more accurate notions than it is manifest he did, respecting the eternal, immutable, and necessary existence, he would then, possibly, have been enabled to separate the verb from the substantive, in the artificial language of man: he would have seen the fallacy of supposing the existence of "a differential something" in the verb over and above what he conceived to be inherent in the substantive. The truth is, every step which man takes in science, should be done with exceeding humility: by night and by day he should feel himself dependent on the Being who called him into birth; on the Being who supports and incites him forward to action. And, let it be asked, what mighty stretch of thought does this require? Quòd si et illa cognoscit Deus, quidni et curet ?—is the language of the learned and philosophic Grotius, on the individual government and providence of God. But it is of little consequence to science, that we assent to the truth of any just and incontrovertible

« AnteriorContinuar »