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independently of muscular sensations and movements and tactual perceptions, cannot give the means of discriminating what we do discriminate in vision, and cannot afford the ground for inferring relations of distance, or even externality, from the sensations of light, is a position in mental science which must be regarded as demonstrated. And we further believe that, with these auxiliary sensations, movements, and perceptions, all the mental phenomena of vision can be adequately accounted for. This is one of the problems of mental science. The following is the author's way of disposing of it:
" It is asked, How, since the image on the retina is inverted, do we see objects upright ? The reply is, we do see them upright. This we know. Why the physical conditions of perception are as they are, we do not know. A similar answer may be given to the question, why, when there is an image of the object in each eye, we see but one object. Some recent discoveries in optics reveal in a measure the connection between binocular vision and the cognition of form.” — p. 39.
This reply, that " we do see objects upright,” is in fact no answer at all to the question the author proposes. Who has ever doubted this? The question is not one of fact, but it is a demand for the explanation of a fact. Equally irrelevant is the remark, that“ we do not know why the physical conditions of perception are as they are.” The question is not one of final causes, but it is the scientific inquiry concerning the mode in which these physical conditions are conditions, in consequence of which, and not in spite of which, the perception is realized; and this explanation is not so very far to seek as the author appears to think. Indeed, the only difficulty in the problem comes from the mistake, often made, of supposing that the images on the retina are cognized in themselves as extended objects, instead of being simply, in their several and ultimate parts, the means of cognizing the parts of the real external and extended objects.
In the last sentence which we have quoted, the author intimates that science has done something towards solving the problem of binocular vision. Some account of this would have been to the point, but the author is content to assure his pupils that their confidence in the fact itself of vision cannot be improved or impaired by any explanation, since the fact of seeing a single upright object, though it be by means of two inverted images, rests on the infallible testimony of consciousness. What sort of ideas of a true mental science can such an assurance communicate? None, we think, but the erroneous ones, that science undertakes to explain a fact by disputing it, and that we ought therefore to be contented to affirm the fact without trying to explain it.
Such is the elementary instruction which the author has found to be the most successful by an experience of a quarter of a century, and now thinks worthy to be presented to the public. Our illustrations of his method, though taken from his earlier chapters, are sufficiently characteristic of the whole work, and make it unnecessary for us to say more.
3.- Personal Reminiscences of the Life and Times of GARDINER
SPRING, Pastor of the Brick Presbyterian Church, in the City of New York. New York: Charles Scribner & Co. 1866. 2 vols. 12mo.
With the name of the Rev. Dr. Spring, as a prominent clergyman in the city of New York, the public has long been familiar. Few need be told that he is a man of decided ability and of great industry, that he has ever been strenuous in the assertion and defence of his Calvinistic faith, and that, for a full half-century, he was the active, influential pastor of the same people. This venerable man, now more than eighty years old, has just put out an autobiography. Released by age from the duty of composing homilies, the habit and love of work have driven him into memoir-writing. He must be doing something, and hence the “Life and Times of Gardiner Spring.”
There is much in this work, however, which belongs strictly neither to the “Life” nor the “ Times,”.
-a deal of matter equally irrelevant and cumbrous. For the benefit of those whose time is precious and whose patience is limited, we will attempt a reduction to miniature form of this life-size portrait, with its extensive background and numerous side-figures.
Gardiner Spring was born (1784) at Newburyport in Massachusetts. Samuel Spring, his father, was a Congregational minister, - a man of firm purpose and unbending will, one of the last specimens of the stern old Puritan clergyman. He had been the chum of James Madison at Nassau Hall, and he was Colonel Burr's chaplain on that winter expedition through the woods of Maine which ended so disastrously under the walls of Quebec. We have here two letters from the college classmate. One of these, written after Madison became President, and in answer to Spring, indicates that the latter was in those days what we now call a Copperhead, while his illustrious Southern friend was strictly Union and loyal. This letter of President Madison is full of sound doctrine for North and South, and may even now be read with profit. Samuel Spring was in early years a warm admirer of Burr, and, even after his sad fall as traitor and murderer, used to say that, when he knew him, “ Aaron was an immaculate creature.” Their interview in old age, at the parsonage in Beekman Street, with Lyman Beecher and Nathaniel Taylor for auditors, must have been full of interest. In his religious belief Samuel Spring was a Hopkinsian of the highest tone and style. Regarding the establishment and diffusion of that system as the greatest blessing that could be conferred on a. fallen world, he devoted to it all his energies. For this he became an efficient founder of the Andover School, tying it up with catechisms, creeds, and subscriptions, until he deemed it safely moored for all time against the waves and winds of false doctrine. For our own part, we consider, every such attempt to mould and fix the special opinions of posterity to be as wrong in principle and tendency as it is futile in fact. The founders of that institution were good men; they meant well, and actually did much better than they knew. If there have been (as sometimes alleged) any doctrinal defection in their beloved “ Seminary,” let us hope that Spring and Morse and Norris and Abbot and Brown and Bartlett are happily ignorant of its existence, or else that, seeing more clearly than of old, they would now gladly strike hands with Professor Park himself.
Young Gardiner, from his own account (though he gives us no details), was a very bad boy. In Berwick Academy, in the town school at home under Gillet and Walsh, and in Northbridge under funny Doctor Crane, he was fitted for college, and entered Yale in 1799. After the loss of a:year through ill health, he graduated, in 1805, with valedictorian honors. · Having adopted the law as his profession, he entered the office of David Daggett in New Haven, and went earnestly to work. To pay the
way, he hired a little money, took the lead of Moses Stuart's church choir, and taught a large singing-school. About the same time he fell in love with Susan Barney.. This circumstance may have had something to do with his acceptance of an invitation to go as teacher to the island of Beriguda. Here, at a place called “ The Salt Kettle,” he found lucrative employment and a pleasant home. But he could not enjoy it alone. So back he hies to New Haven, and persuades Susan to go with him into the “ Kettle.” Here, amide the geranium-beds and Pose-bowers of the “still vexed Bermoothes,” they passed a happy year, and would have stayed longer, but war came and threatened to make them its prisoners. They returned, therefore, to New Haven, with fifteen hundred dollars in pocket, and with one little “ Porgie,” whom they called Samuel. Mr. Spring resumed and completed his course of law-study, and opened a law-office. He began with every omen that cheers the young lawyer. To large ambition and acquisitiveness he added ample talent and untiring industry. Had he continued at the bar, he would have risen to its highest honors and rewards ; bat he had been trained to regard the pulpit as having higher claims than any secular calling. Doubts as to his religious fitness for the sacred work had alone kept him back. These, however, were now resolved. Friends high in position and in his esteem urged him to make the change, and he resolved to make it. How he went to work, — how he broke the matter to worldly Susan Barney, — how sweetly Susan took it, — how he spent his short novitiate at Andover, his family staying meanwhile at Salem with rich Mrs. Norris, - his preaching in Marblehead, with reminiscences of good Mrs. William Read and her daughter, Mrs. Ropes, - his calls to the South Parish in Andover and to Park Street Church in Bos-' ton, declined because they were not unanimous; — all these things and more may be found in the “ Life and Times.” He went to New Haven, and was offered a call as successor to Moses Stuart, but said, “No." Then in New York he preached a single daytin the Brick Church, and received a unanimous call. Evidently he came forward at once as a man of promise and power.
The presbytery, after much debate, and not without misgivings, concluded to ordain him. His statement of doctrines was not entirely satisfactory. Still they thought he was a pliable youth, and would come out right in time, even though Stiles Ely, who had known Spring in college, assured them that he was anything but pliable. When thus settled, the young man addresses himself with ardor to the great work which is to employ his life. He rises' early, — doubles, in his ante- . breakfast walk, the forks of the Bowery, — and by or before nine o'clock is buried in the seclusion of his own room. There it was study, study, study. Preparation the most sedulous could alone satisfy his Whigh ideal of ministerial duty. To this end he read, for this he wrote. The better to understand and to defend the truth, he made himself familiar not with orthodox theology alone. The great errorists also received his careful attention. In this class he places Whitby, Locke, Priestley, Adam Clarke, the Unitarian divines of New England, and Dr. Taylor of New Haven: As symbols he cordially adopted the Westminster and Heidelberg Confessions. For expositors he clung to Henry, Scott, Hodge, and Doddridge. His pulpit models were Samuel Davis, Nathaniel Emmons, Edward Griffin, Asahel Nettleton, Edward Payson, John Howe, and Thomas Chalmers. He includes Emmons, not as free from error, but as having more truth than any writer whose works have fallen under” his “notice.” :
Young clergymen will read with interest what this veteran preacher says of the objects which he has kept steadily in view, and of the methods by which he' endeavored, not in vain, to secure those objects. In the pulpit his delivery was generally from written notes. Elsewhere,
it was his wont to extemporize, that is (as he explains it), to make use of matter already stored up for the purpose. To convert sinners, rather than to comfort saints, has been his predominant aim. He could dwell most easily on alarming themes, inasmuch as these were more consonant with his own experience. He thinks that good preaching on subjects that are winning and consoling is not only very rare, but very difficult, and confesses that this fact has sometimes alarmed him. Well it might.
The aged Doctor, listening to the pulpit of our day, perceives signs of declension. He has heard sermons not a few “in which there was no want of instruction.” “ They were full of solid truths; great pains were taken with metaphor and illustration," to show the preacher's scientific attainments; but the great end, the salvation of the soul, was lost sight of
Mr. Spring had not been long settled before indications of serious trouble made their appearance in the Presbyterian host. His old chum, Ezra Stiles Ely, had been preparing a shell of explosive matter, and threw it into the midst of the camp. In a book which he called “ The Contrast,” he professed to show what were the points of difference between the Hopkinsians and the Calvinists. This inflammable missile, which certainly made a good deal of noise, was aimed especially at the young pastor of the Brick Church. There was a general sense of danger, a wide-spread feeling of alarm. To a majority, probably, of his ministerial brothers, the new-fangled doctrine from New England was an abomination and a terror. To “ The Contrast” Mr. Spring made no reply. He regarded it as a perverted, one-sided statement, “ utterly destitute of candor and honesty.” Having never adopted the peculiarities of Hopkinsianism, he felt under no obligation to defend them. So he left it for others to dispute and to discuss, and for a while the war raged. Of this conflict, which excited so wide an interest at the time, the Doctor gives no details. How could he leave unmentioned the farfamed “ Triangle" of his friend Whelpley ? Meanwhile, as he informs us, he went on with his own work, - preaching more plainly, pointedly, and pungently than ever. This stirred up opposition ;. but he persevered, and felt that his action had received the highest possible sanction when multitudes were awakened and converted under his ministry.
Dr. Spring dwells with special delight on the different seasons of refreshing which his church and congregation enjoyed. To those revivals he ascribes all the prosperity of the Brick Church, — all his own power and success as a preacher. These were the sheet-anchors which moored and held him fast, and for which vould have been moving from place to place, a poor, " sticket” minister.”