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derstood. It would be almost worth the labor of a life, to give to the language of intellectual and moral philosophy, a precision approaching as near as possible to the exactness of mathematical definitions. Till something of this nature is done, we shall in vain look for an adjustment of controverted points in public discussion. How can we settle the great question of the freedom of the will, for instance, if we are neither agreed what the will is, nor what freedom is; if liberty may be understood to mean indiscriminately either doing as we choose, or simply choosing, or determining to choose, or freedom from the influence of motives; if necessity is used to signify either mere certainty, or opposition to the will, or incapacity of willing; if motive is the external object of choice, or the state of the mind, or both together; if voluntary actions are either volitions in the restricted sense, or acts depending on volition, or the affections which are antecedent to volition ?
On the department of moral philosophy, Mr. Payne is very brief. We were prepared not to be very much dissatisfied with this brevity, considering the two great defects which are common to most of the systems of the Scotch writers on this subject. In the first place, they exhaust themselves upon the theory of morals; touching lightly upon the details of practical ethics. They are so intent upon laying a solid and elegant foundation, that they leave the superstructure to be finished by other hands. Even Dugald Stewart observes, that "in the field of practical ethics, the student may be safely trusted to his own serious reflections, guided by the precepts of those illustrious men, who, in different ages and countries, have devoted their talents to the improvement and happiness of the human race."*
The theory of morals is important, but its importance consists in its relation to practice. A foundation, however skilfully laid, is of no value, if nothing is to be built upon it. Paley has, perhaps, gone to the opposite extreme. Admirable as he is, in illustrating and enforcing many parts of practical morality; he appears to have considered the theory of ethics of so little importance, as scarcely to merit his earnest attention. In this portion of his work, therefore, he is extremely confused, unsatisfactory, and erroneous.
The other great defect, in many of the Scotch systems of moral philosophy, is, that they seem cautiously to keep out of view the authority of the scriptures. By this we do not mean, that they manifest opposition or irreverence towards the truths of revelation. But they appear to consider moral philosophy as a distinct science, with which scripture has no more to do, than with geometry or experimental philosophy. It is a statement of our obligations
* Phil. of Active and Moral Powers, Vol. I, 236.
and the grounds of them, so far as they can be learned from the light of nature alone. Mr. Stewart asserts, that, “due allowance being made for some unfortunate prejudices of the ancients, they who have been most successful, in modern times, in inculcating the duties of life, have been the moralists who have trodden the most closely in the footsteps of the Greek and Roman philosophers.” Vol. I. 236. It may be an ingenious speculation, to inquire how much of our duty may be determined by mere reasoning, unaided by revelation. Bnt as a system of practical morality, we should place about as much value upon it, as upon a work of geography containing only such information, as had been obtained by moonlight or starlight. On this point, however, we find no ground for censuring Mr. Payne. He does not profess to furnish a system of moral philosophy. He has confined himself to the discussion of two points, “ The Nature of Rectitude, and the Standard of Rectitude.” For the latter, he refers us distinctly to the sacred scriptures.
On the nature of rectitude, we are gratified to find him taking the ground, " that there is an essential distinction between right and wrong;” that an action is right, not merely because it is commanded; but because the command which enjoins it is itself right; that, under a wise and good administration, certain actions are required because they are right, and others are forbidden because they are wrong; that rectitude or virtue does not depend on the arbitrary constitution of the human mind; that actions are right, not merely because we approve of them; but that, if our moral judgment is correct, we approve of them, because they are right; that is, our approbation does not render them virtuous, but only proves them to be so. These positions he maintains, with clearness and force of argument, not only against the theories of Hobbes, Hutcheson, Adam Smith, and Paley ; but in opposition to his favorite author Dr. Brown, who affirms that “virtue is a felt relation, and nothing more ;” that “all that we mean by the moral differences of actions, is their tendency to excite one emotion rather than another ;' and that," if there had been no moral emotions to arise, on the contemplation of certain actions, there would have been no virtue, vice, merit, or demerit, which express only relations to these emotions.”
In answer to these positions of Dr. Brown, we quote the arguments of Mr. Payne; as they furnish a favorable specimen of his mode of reasoning.
Now let the rcader especially observe that—as virtue, is, on this system, nothing more than a relation between a certain action, and a certain emotion-the notion of virtue cannot arise, till the emotion of approbation has arisen. Nothing surely can be more manifest than this. But, on Dr. Brown's principles, how can the emotion of approbation arise? If virtue
be nothing in actions, as is so often stated, how do certain actions originate this ernotion? Does it not arisc without a cause, unless there be rectitude in the actions themselvesi. e. some quality or aptitude in them to awaken it? How can we approve, without approving something? If virtue be not some quality in actions which is not universal, how comes it to pass that we approve some actions, and not others? Why do we not approve all actions alike? Or, rather, how is it possible that we should approve any actions, when there is nothing in them, according to this theory, to approve? It is admitted that there can be nothing in any of the odoriferous particles of matter, which resembles our sensations of smell; yet there must be such particles, or we should have no sensations. And when the resulting sensations are different,—when some bodies have a pleasant, and others an offensive odor, there must be a difference in the odoriferous particles emitted by them, or there could be no difference in the sensations which they produce. Dr. Brown's system presents us with an effect without a cause-represents us as approving, but approving nothing. It is not an answer to this statement to say we approve the action, because if there is nothing more in one action than in another to excite the emotion of approbation,
how comes it to exist at all, or why do not all actions awaken it? If, on the other hand, there is something in one action which does not exist in another, adapted to awaken the feeling, that something is virtue in the action; and the statement of Dr. Brown is overthrown, that virtue is “ a relation, and nothing more.” Pp. 408, 409.
Secondly. If virtue be the mere relation of certain actions to a certain emotion, it would seem to have been constituted without any reason on the part of God. Dr. Brown himself is obliged to admit that actions which are now related to the emotion of approbation, might have stood in a relation exactly the reverse; in which case what is now regarded as virtue would have been vice, and vice itself would have been transformed into virtue. Now if we were not formed to approve an action because it is right, but the action becomes right by our approving it, what reason can there have been for that particular constitution of mind which our Creator has given to us? Admit, with Mr. Stewart, “ that the words right and wrong express qualities of actions,--that when we say an act of justice is right, we assert a truth which is independent of the constitution of our minds;"—and all doubt is removed. What is right, God has formed the mind to approve, as what is good, he has formed it to desire. If an action became good by being desired, and right by being approved, which appears to be Dr. Brown's system, what reason, it is again asked, could have induced the Deity to form the mind to approve some actions, and not others? Dr. Brown intimates, indeed, on one occasion, that the actions we approve must be approved by God; and he would, perhaps, argue from that circumstance, that they could not have occupied a relation different from that in which they at present stand to our minds. But why must they be approved by God? They must be approved by us, because our minds are constituted to approve of them ;—a reason which does not apply to God. If they have no rectitude in themselves, i. e. as it appears to me, if there is in them nothing to approve, how is it that they awaken approbation in the mind of the Deity? Were it certainly the case, that an action must awaken approbation in the mind of God, because it excites it in ours, it would follow, for any thing I can see to the contrary, that an object which excites in our minds the emotion of beauty, must appear beautiful to Jehovah. pp. 412, 413.
Thirdly. Dr. Brown's theory of morals proceeds on a practical forget. fulness of the distinction which exists, as he bimself admits, between what is, and what ought to be, in human conduct. “When we know,” says he, “that man has certain affections and passions, there still remains the great inquiry as to the propriety or impropriety of those passions, and of the conduct to which they lead.” To the importance of this admission, reference has been already made. It is, indeed, manifest, that we must either admit that every state of mind, of every human being, is right-and right because it exists ;-or that we must seek for some moral rule, by which to try its rectitude. Now Dr. Brown places that standard, as we have seen, not in the law of God, not in any thing exterior to the mind, but in the mind itself, in one of its own states, or affections. Those actions and affections wbich excite certain emotions of approbation, are right, and right on that account. But are not emotions of approbation affections of the mind? And must we not, accordingly, on his own principles, institute an inquiry concerning their “propriety, or impropriety?" If, with regard to other emotions, it is not enough to know that the mind is susceptible of them, or that, on a certain occasion, they actually exist, why should it be considered enough to know this with reference to the emotions of moral approbation and disapprobation? Since we are not to take it for granted that any other affection is right because it exists, why should we sit down with the assurance that the affection of moral approbation is right because it exists? It is necessary not only to have a moral measure of the rectitude of actions, but to be certain of its accuracy. Dr. Brown takes the feelings of approbation and disapprobation as the moral measure of all other affections. The first step in the process, then, on his system, is to prove the accuracy of his measure, and the consequent rectitude of every action which is conformed to it. Now what proof has Dr. Brown of the accuracy of his measure? He does not produce any. Emotions of approbation are affections of mind; but affections of mind are not proved to be right, by his own concession, by their existence. And yet affections of mind, the rectitude of which, on Dr. Brown's own principles, requires to be proved, but of which no proof either is, or can be, given, are the only standard by which other affections are to be tried! It is obvious that the Doctor takes for granted the propriety of the feelings of approbation; and, indeed, that he must do so. And, taking this for granted, the system supplies us with no certain measure of the rectitude of any action, or of any affection of mind whatever. The correctness of the rule not being verified, we can have no confidence in relation to the correctness of any thing that is measured by it. The whole system of morals is thus involved in doubt and uncertainty; and it is impossible, on this scheme, for any man to know, whether he deserves the vengeance, or the love, of his fellow, men. pp. 413—415.
Art. II.-REVIEW OF MEMOIR OF Mrs. JUDSON. Memoir of Mrs. Ann H. Judson, late Missionary to Burmah: including a
History of the American Baptist Mission in the Burman Empire. By JAMES D. KNOWLES, Pastor of the 2d Baptist Church in Boston. 1 Vol. 12mo. pp. 324.-With a Map of Burmah and a Portrait of Mrs. Judson. Boston; Lincoln and Edmands ; 1829.
We cannot but rejoice, at every fresh and well authenticated account of the further spread of christianity on earth. triumph we regard as the best, noblest, most glorious, of all the triumphs won on this side of eternity. They are the triumphs of virtue, the triumphs of humanity, the triumphs of religion, the triumphs of truth and of holiness, over ignorance and error, delusion and sin. And though they are surrounded with none of the pomp and display of this world; though achieved almost in secret and in silence; though announced in the simplest and most unpretending manner, not in the tumultuous roar of a nation's joy, as other victories are wont to be celebrated, but in unostentatious simplicity, referring the praise and the glory rather to God than to man; yet are they occasions for sincere, heart-felt joy. In the presence of superior beings they awaken such joy, although the direct occasion may be the sorrowing unto repentance of but a single reclaimed sinner.
With these views, respecting the utility and importance of missions for the spread of the gospel, we were prepared to sit down to the perusal of another missionary memoir, in the volume now before us, with much satisfaction. And we can assure our readers, that this satisfaction has not been diminished, by accompanying the compiler through the actual detail, which he has given, of hardships and sufferings, of hopes and fears, of successes and disappointments, of imprisonments, and sicknesses, and deaths, borne without a murmur, and evincing how much the heart, which loves the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, can suffer for his sake. Such examples of the power of faith and of christian love, ought to be preserved. We rejoice to meet with them. They animate, they strengthen us, in the discharge of our own duties. They reconcile us to the lesser evils with which we are visited. They make us look forward to the end of our course with a deeper interest. They bring death to view, disarmed of his sting. They open, as it were, the eternal world, and exhibit its realities in a light and with a power, which gives them unwonted effect. Above all
, they lead us to press closer to our hearts, that blessed volume, which, while it tells us of the race and of the conflict of the child of God on earth, tells us also how the race may be won and the battle gained ; and where, and what, and to whom will be the final reward, the crown of everlasting life.