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sufficient knowledge of his subject. All Unitarians do not deny, as he affirms, the pre-existence of Christ, and none deny, as he affirms of all, “ the offered propitiation through faith in his blood.” Disagreeing as we do from many of his remarks on what he terms Socinianism, and disagreeing because we know more of what Unitarians really believe than Mr. Shaw, we are glad to be able to express our warmest approbation of the concluding sentences in his “ Essay.”
“ I have allowed myself to run into this digression (on 'Socinianismo) from my main object, in the hope of shewing the danger of yielding up our understandings in inatters of religion to the direction of any man, however eininent he may be accounted for skill in particular branches of human science, upless his opinions be supported by the Holy Scriptures. Philosophy, under the guidance of a sound and unprejudiced mind, tends to a conviction of the truth of our holy religion ; yet men, who devote their time and attention cbiefly to experiments upon matter, frequently go astray when they treat of spiritual affairs. It cannot be denied that Dr. Priestley was an acute and laborious philosopher ; but that philosophers are not always good theologians is obvious from the glaring contradictions of each other which we continually meet with in their writings. Mr. Jones, of Nayland, was also an able philosopher; yet no two men were ever more directly opposed to each other in their religious opinions than he and Dr. Priestley. Let us then not say, • I am of Jones,' and I ain of Priestley.' Let us seek instruction at the fountain head-the Holy Scriptures: let us say with Peter, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.""
LETTERS FROM GERMANY.
Heidelberg. MENDELSSOhn's treatise on the Immateriality of the Soul of Man was first published at Vienna, in 1785. The Editor then informed the public, that they were indebted to his Prussian Majesty for the production of the essay, and that a condescending discretion on the part of the author had hitherto withheld it from publication. Perhaps the great Frederick consti. tuted himself partner, and wished to have the lion's share. A Latin translation of the tract had appeared before, and the translator having been informed by a friend, that it was not disapproved by the author, he ventured to publish the German original. I do not know if it has ever appeared in English. If it has not, you may be willing to give a place to some extracts from it in your Repository. Many of the acutest reasoners of the last century were Spiritualists: some of the nineteenth century are so too : could they do it a greater service, and in Republican France, (for it is and must be substantially that,) could they do their country a greater service, than by promoting an alliance between liberalism and spiritualism?
The treatise is not long. It consists of answers to ihree questions, and some added remarks on D'Alembert's Thoughts upon the Spirituality of the Soul.
Quest. 1. Can matter have in itself the power to think ??
Q. 2. If matter in its proper nature is incapable of thinking, cannot tlie Almighty communicate to it this property ?
Q. 3. Most not the soul perish with the body? It grows up with the body, suffers with it, shares all its changes, and in age becomes feebler as the body gradually decays. A hard blow upon the head can reduce the greatest genius into idiocy : must not the power to think cease when the body is no more?
“ Quest. I. Can matter have in itself the power to think?
“I believe that this has been demonstrated to be impossible, and that the objections against the arguments, which have been offered, reach the terms only in which they are expressed, which cannot be chosen so as to exclude every objection, because language itself is not flexible enough for the subtilty of the inquiry. Among other methods of proof, the following has appeared to me very convincing. It will be granted, that the objects in nature, or the things which are external to the thinking power, have each its own proper subsistence. Their conjunction depends upon mutual relations and proportions, which are not found in the objects alone, but in order to exist must first be thought of. For example, a house taken solely as an object, is not different froin a pile of stones: but when the thinking power comes in, compares the parts, and perceives their relation to a whole, the pile is then irregular; but symmetry and order are observed in the building. In what do a well-ordered state and a promiscuous multitude differ from one another? Only in the proportion of the parts, and their relation to a whole; and these are not found in the citizens, as they exist objectively and severally, but in the comparison of each with all the rest. Father and son, stem and fruit, are in themselves isolated existences; but considered in their relation as cause and effect, they are conjoined.
“Suppose an object to be impressed on a certain part of a thinking material system ; the impression as well as the external object must exist individually. Let A, B, C, D, be external objects, and a, b, c, d, parts of the percipient matter. Then will the percipient particle (a) have, as its immediate object, the impression upon it of the external object (A) which it represents; and all the other sentient atoms the same. But where will the proportion or relation of the objects be perceived ? Not in any one of the percipient partieles; for each notices only its own object, and things are seen to be related only by comparison : neither is it perceived in all the particles taken together, for the being taken together presupposes the perception of proportion or relation between them, without which each atom remains for ever individual, and never, in conjunction with the rest, composes a whole. In order to perceive relation, which supposes comparison, besides the thinking particles a, b, c, d, we must have a central particle (e), to which this office belongs. This particle must retain the impressions of all the objects A, B, C, D, that it may be able to compare them with one another. Since the central particle (e) is composed of parts, either the impressions must be again dispersed, or each of the parts which coinpose it must receive them all. In the first case, to compare them with one another is impossible; and in the latter case, we must come at last to what is indivisible, an atom, uniting the impressions of all the objects, and capable also of comparing them with one another, and perceiving their mutual relation. This indivisible, simple exist. ence, which receives all the impressions, and is able to discern, combine, compare them, is essentially different from matter, which is, in its nature, divisible and aggregational. We distinguish it by the name of soul. I may leave to my opponent the choice, whether he will have the material substance consisting of such percipient atoms or indivisible particles; or will admit but one single, indivisible thinking substance, which receives and compares the impressions of all objects. In both cases it is not matter, or what is aggregated, which thinks, but what is simple and indivisible; only that in the first case, instead of making the soul to be a corporeal being, with the Materialist, he changes the body itself into an aggregate of souls. In a word, to perception or thinking it is necessary that what is multifold as an object, should become one, or a unity, in the thinking subject; but matter is not, and cannot be, an absolute unity, because it consists of divisible parts, of which each one has its own individual subsistence”
I suppose that cheinists of the present century will not adnit our author's proof of the negative to be complete. Since, according to the latest chemical doctrine, there are ultimate particles of matter which are indivisible, that is, there are atoms; and since the reasoning of our philosopher has not proved it impossible that the soul of man should be one of them, it seems to fall short of a demonstration, that it is impossible the soul should be material. His reasoning in this place only proves the soul to be one and indivisible, and that it cannot be an aggregate or a system of parts. That gravity and the power to think co-existing in the same substance involves a contradiction, requires a separate proof.
“ Quest. 2. If matter in its proper nature is incapable of thinking, cannot the Almighty cominunicate to it this property?
“ This notion is usually supported by the authority of a great man, John Locke, who has suggested it in some part of his works. Since his time it has been repeated by many with a sort of triumph, as being unanswerable ; but I believe the English philosopher himself never considered it so. The Cartesians taught, that if body were capable of thinking, the nature of thought must be found in the conceptions of extension and motion : bat thought and extension, motion and perception, or our notice of motion, are unlike in nature, and belong to disparate properties; for join and transpose the corporeal parts as you will, there results no idea of the transposition, no perception of the change effected by it. Hence they concluded, that motion only belongs to what is extended, and that thought belongs to what is unextended and incapable of motion. As it seemed to be proved in this way that perception is not in the nature of matter, Locke asked properly, whether the Almighty could not impart to matter a power which it does not possess in itself. But if what has been said under the preceding question be true; if, in order to perception, what is manifold in the object must become indivi. dual in the idea of it by the percipient subject, since matter is always compounded of parts; perception is as absolutely impossible to matter, as it is impossible that a square should be a circle. To resort in such a case to Omnipotence is to imitate the good woman, who hoped to get the first prize in a lottery without putting into it, because nothing is inspossible to God. I do not, however, deny that the doubt suggested by Locke is removed in a very plain way by the Cartesian method. It is proved, that properties are not communicable, and that infinite power cannot impart to a substance a property which is not in its nature. Here I will insert a dialogue which passed between Hylas and Philonous, in which the latter has illustrated this thought by an example which brings it before the eyes.
“ Hyl. If matter in itself cannot think, may not the power to think be communicated to it by the Almighty? .“ Phil. We will inquire. The Almigbty causes the rose to grow upon the thorn. How is this done? Is a new rose-bud created out of nothing every year at the season of roses, and set into the stein ?
“ Hyl. That is not done. The germ rather is contained in the thorn, from which the bud shoots out in its proper season.'
“ Phil. If any man should dissect the germ, and examine its structure through the microscope, will be not plainly perceive that the rose is developed out of the finely organized germ ?
“ Hyl. Certainly, if the instrument magnifies sufficiently.
“ Phil. But if the Almighty would cause the citron to grow on the rose stem, which now bears only the rose, must not this fruit, which is not natural to the plant, be created, and set into the stalk?
" Hyl. It cannot be otherwise : but then the fruit would only seem to grow upon the stem of the rose-tree, and not really grow.
" Phil. It seems to me, that in this case Omnipotence itself can cause only the appearance of growing. The rose-tree must therefore be changed into the citron-tree; or, to speak more accurately, the thorn must be annihilated, and the citron-tree put in its place.
" Hyl. It is plain that, in this case, what has been supposed would be effected yet less, that is, a communication of properties.
" Phil. The citron must then be created, and united with the rose-stemi; but how? The stem yields no fluid with which the fruit can be fed.
" Hyl. The Almighty provides it out of the air, or by some other means.
“ Phil. True. Suppose now the stock to perish: has the citron lost any thing besides its supporter?
“ Hyl. Certainly not, since it neither grew out of the stock, nor was nourished by it: but how does this apply to our inquiry?..
“ Phil. I believe we are not far from its solution. It is granted that matter in its own nature cannot think ; that is, by virtue of its interior structure it is capable of a boundless variety of forms, colours, and motions, but not of thought.
“ Hyl. I grant that Descartes has proved this.
“ Phil. The base of the power to think is not more in matter than the germ of the citron is in the rose-tree. Should God communicate to inatter the power to think, must he not then create this especial power, and conjoin it with matter?
"Hyl. It must be so according to our present example.
“Phil. But in this way matter would only seem to think, and the power to think would no more be a property of matter, than the citron would really grow upon the rose-tree.
“ Hyl. I must admit it.
“ Phil. The question, then, is properly, not whether the Almighty can communicate to matter the property of thinking - for this is impossible: but whether he can create a power to think, and connect it with a material system. And see, my friend, this is what our Creator has really done. He has united with a certain portion of organized matter an especially created power, and they make conjointly the living creature, man. As the fruit was lodged upon a foreign stem, so the power to think is connected with organized matter. The latter shall be dissolved, and the former shall lose only its transent supporter."
As a great part of the answer to the third question is hypothetical, and, though not discordant with acknowledged anatomical facts, was written without the benefit of more recent discoveries, I shall only annex the concluding passage :
" Since the brain is the organ of the soul, it must feel all the changes and erery disorder of which that is the subject. In dissolution, that organ is no longer united with the soul, and its functions, as the organ of its feelings, must therefore cease. The soul cannot be dissolved like the brain, for it does not consist, as that does, of parts which are joined together according to the laws of a corporeal nature. It is an indivisible unity, which cannot be subjected to the laws of mechanism. Either it must cease to be, or it retires upon a central organ, which cannot be dissolved together with the brain : and, perhaps, as is the usual process of nature, with the destruction of the brain, it acquires a new organization. In all nature there is no decomposition without a new composition, no destruction of one form without the commencement in its invisible particles of a new form, which reveals itself in time to the senses. Every destruction tends to a formation, every death builds the way to a new life. To him who considers this conjecture too bold, there remains only the annihilation of the soul; for as dissolution of
parts is out of the question, in no other way can a purely simple nature cease to exist, and a power to think must either actually think or cease to be.”
In a subsequent part of the treatise the author states his reasons for the opinion, that the soul can neither feel nor think unless united with a portion of organized matter, an opinion in which, he says, most philosophers will agree with him. He might have added the higher authority of its accordance with the scripture doctrine of the resurrection of the body.
“But where do we find annihilation in all nature? What particle in the universe is lost? What original power is ever for a moment inert? The compound is dissolved; one body is moved by another; the direction of one force is changed by another; here there is a composition, there a resolution of forces; but extinction is not in nature. The physical forces of all bodies united cannot annihilate a sun-moat, cannot suspend the motive power of a single atom. They may act upon it, but not without suffering a change themselves. How small soever this change may be, it proves the existence of the reacting power, and shews the effect of a force which all nature cannot overcome.”
When D'Alembert asks, how we can conceive two substances which have no common property to act upon one another, Mendelssohn replies by another question, Can we conceive better how matter acts upon matter? Is mutual action explained at all by the similitude of substances? When D'Alembert asks, what difference we can imagine, according to our custom of thinking, between absolute nothing, and a nature which is not matter, our German Metaphysician replies,
“ M. D'Aleinbert defines matter, that which is extended and impenetrable: both extension and impenetrability are ideas which have, strictly speaking, their seat in the soul; but we ascribe the exciting causes of them to an external object, and this object we name matter : the subject in which the ideas exist we name the soul: with what reason do we affirm the subject must bave, of necessity, the property of the object ? Matter is at last (it is all we know of it) a nature that can excite in the soul the ideas of extension and impenetrability. Custom, we are told, says that the soul is nothing, if it is not ma. terial ; that is, reason replies, a nature which has the ideas of extension and impenetrability is nothing if it cannot also excite them. With what reason can this be maintained? Between existence and non-existence there is a gulf which nature cannot pass : it can no more reduce into nothing, than create out of nothing. Here I ask not more for the soul than is conceded to me for every atom of steam ; not more for the power to think, than is admitted in every simple power of motion. Were it the power of a compound being, the aggregate force might be resolved into its elements; but since it is not composed of elements, it cannot be destroyed in this way; and it is impossible for all the powers of nature to effect its total annihilation.”
ON THE CHRONOLOGY AND ARRANGEMENT OF THE GOSPEL NAR
(Continued from Vol. IV. p. 769.) BEFORE proceeding in the course which we have prescribed to ourselves, it seems desirable to give our readers a view of the contents of Mr. Greswell's volumes ; partly to enable them to judge whether the “ Dissertations