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“What is this restless power within, which despises corporeal enjoyment, and triumphs in compelling the sacrifice of bodily comfort for an object which, after all, none attain ?"
Insurmountable obstacles limit his progress; the perverseness of men thwarts his views for their benefit no less than his own; he looks round him in querulous displeasure, and again exclaims, “Why is evil in the world ?" But old age now approaches, “his thoughts” must“ perish” ere he has accomplished half that he has proposed to himself; he must“ go hence and be no more seen,” before he has even attained the fruit of his labors ; he seems to have “ walked in a vain shadow, and disquieted himself in vain;" and then, when all that has filled his great aspirations seems shrinking from his grasp, when all appears
“vanity and vexation of spirit, he once more asks in a sort of concentrated despair, “Why man proposes ends to himself which he can never compass ? What is the good which his nature demands, and how is it to be obtained? Is it sensual enjoyment? No! such pleasures pall on the senses, and end in disgust. Is it intellectual ? The limited powers of men make the pursuit of science laborious, and death comes ere he has reached what he sought. Is it in the innocent enjoyments of social life? These are soon buried in the graves of those he loves.
These are the questions which every man not wholly brutalized must sooner or later ask himself. These are the questions, in fact, which have agitated mankind in all ages, and whose solution forms the basis of all systems of religion and philosophy. They all may be resolved into three; namely,
1. What is the nature of the power exterior to ourselves?
2. What is the nature of the power within ourselves?
3. What, with reference to these two, is the nature of the good which man ought to propose to himself as his aim and object?
The solution of the first two questions forms the subject of all metaphysical, or in other words, intellectual science. That of the third gives the practical result Systems of religion decide these questions authoritatively, systems of philosophy solve them by rational argument, and as, however numemerous these systems may be, there can be but ONE TRUTH, so we are justified in assuming that the religious and the philosophical system must tally, or that one or the other is in error. There is, however, this difference between the two, viz., that the authoritative system is necessarily delivered in the form of dogmata to be received, not of arguments to be tried and weighed; and these dogmata are couched in words which, as no previous course of reasoning is recorded, are liable to be misinterpreted by the prejudices of mankind. The philosophical system, on the contrary, is obliged to prove its assertions step by step; and if an undue leaning to any preconceived notion should lead to the adoption of a weak argument, the first dispassionate man who goes over the same ground will perceive and overthrow it: thus, though in the case of sufficiency of external evidence to prove the pretensions of the first to be well grounded, it is the shorter process, and therefore most acceptable to man's indolence; yet the second is the more certain one.
To be completely satisfactory, the two should be joined together; but though occasionally a voice has been raised to call for this auspicious union, unfortunately for the world, the guardians of the former have generally held her to be too rich a bride to be bestowed on a mate who had no better inheritance than Socrates' old cloak and worn sandals, and have “forbidden the banns.” The consequences have been disastrous: philosophy, like a wild youth, has run through a course of licentiousness; and religion, like a wealthy heiress, has become the prey of designing men. It is, perhaps, not too late to rescue both. Let us then begin with philosophy, whose morals whatever they might have been while he was Socrates' pupil —have in later times been thought by no means faultless.
It would be a long, and, to a reader—a wearisome task, to go over all the disputes which have agitated the learned through so many centuries, as to moral perceptions, innate ideas, &c. He who would map a country must explore the by-roads ; but he who uses the map, if he finds the road laid down lead to the place he wishes to arrive at, will not think it needful to traverse every lane on his way. It will suffice, therefore, to assume as an axiom-what nobody, probably, will deny,—that truth is reality, namely, what really is; error an unfounded persuasion of something that is not. Now what is, must be either within or exterior to ourselves; and to know what is exterior to ourselves truly, that is, in its reality, we must examine it by the evidence of our senses, or by that of our reasoning faculties, or by both conjointly. There . is no other process by which we can arrive at a certainty of knowledge. Thus, then, as an innate idea is one which must be received in the mind as truth without previous evidence, an innate idea of what is exterior to ourselves is a contradiction, and the common voice of mankind has decided on the point, by characterizing those who receive the per
suasions of the imagination in the room of evidence as insane. Nor is the impressing itself on the mind without previous evidence the only necessary character of an innate idea ; it must also be found in the minds of all mankind as a constituent part of their nature, otherwise it cannot be innate. It will soon be seen that there is only one idea which can answer to this description, namely, that of individuality, whose demonstration rests on that very individual consciousness, an evidence so unhesitatingly allowed by all mankind, that were any one to attempt to overthrow it by arguing that assertion is no proof, he might make good his position, and yet convince no one: for all feel that in order to assert individual existence it is requisite that a should exist. But all impressions received by this individual consciousness are exterior to it, and consequently require to be examined; and thus intellectual science, like all others, becomes the subject of experiment and inquiry, and can only make progress by being classified and arranged so as to enable different individuals and succeeding generations to pursue and record their observations
different portions of it. Even that part which Bacon himself hesitated to subject to the rules of his experimental philosophy, namely, religious knowledge, must submit to the same sort of examination : for from whatever quarter the authoritative dogma comes, it is presented to the senses from without, and cannot be received as authority, without sufficient evidence, both external and internal, to satisfy the mind of its truth; and as in classifying, the most natural arrangement is always the most intelligible, so the great questions which man's experience in life never fails to suggest to him, afford at once the simplest and the best division of the subject.
I. What is the nature of the power exterior to ourselves ?
Man's first step, when this inquiry has suggested itself to his mind, is to look round on the objects amid which he moves, and which often appear to be the active agents in causing him either enjoyment or suffering. Does the power which controls him exist there? The untaught savage perhaps answers, yes, and selects his fetiche from the first thing that strikes his fancy. A little more cultivation sends him from the fetiche to something less tangible, and of greater apparent energy, and the heavenly bodies are adored; but when the question occurs in an age of more advancement, a very different process must be resorted to, in order to satisfy a mind accustomed to the severity of demonstration required by real science. We perceive an universe whose slightest movement we are unable to regulate ; after ages of thought and observation, we think it our glory that we have arrived at the discovery of the laws by which it coheres ; but they are so totally beyond our power to alter, that we can only hope to effect our purpose by shaping it in conformity to them. We have subjected these laws to the strictest examination; we cannot doubt that we have arrived at the truth, but these immutable laws provide only for the regular movement of inert matter. We look round again ; we are surrounded by organized bodies, and we have not yet discovered the law by which they exist. verse with our fellows, and find something beyond organized life merely; we find intellect, that subtle agent by which our inquiries are carried on, itself offering a problem of no small difficulty. The con