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far deviated from our ordinary practice, as to notice them. It is certainly discreditable to our modern literature, that such publications should be reproduced, at a time when we boast of the progress of reason, and of the advance of religion among us.*
Art. IV.-The Philosophy of Christian Morals. By Samuel Spalding,
M.A., formerly Student of the University College London : Long
man. Pp. 430. WHEREVER civilization has supplied materials of history, we learn that man's inward nature has not failed to be an object of his curious and inquiring thought. This nature, as developed in consciousness and in outward act, is capable of being an index to his destiny on earth, and beyond the present scene. Man has a glimpse of his destiny even in the savage state. The most barbarous tribes have not confounded all sense of moral distinctions. Even to them there is a right and a wrong. Among the most degraded of the Africans, who to cursory observation might hardly seem to show any consciousness of a moral nature, we still find a certain dread of supernatural power, though it may be expressed wholly in such superstitious fears as that of offending the rain-maker; and we see a lingering gleam of the doctrine of immortality in their custom of calling over the dead.
With the progress of civilization, the grand problem of man's moral nature and destiny becomes a necessity of his intellectual life. Its solution is perpetually attempted, never lost sight of, ever renewed in various forms. In the absence of revelation, we find this problem, in some of its cases, forming the main element of the speculative philosophy which marked the deve. lopment of mind in the great historic nations. We see it attending the civilization of the East, the Grecian, the Roman. It is successively reproduced in every one of the systems of phi. losophy which were the only sources of a rational religion then within the reach of mankind, with the exception of the Hebrews alone. It appears floating on the surface of each system, and is found in their inmost and most mystic · depths. It may
* The foregoing article was written for our March number ; and, since its reception, Eugene Sue has resumed the publication of his work, and realised our anticipations. It is an abominable, and, at the same time, stupid production; but it seems that nothing else can, at present, gratify the taste of French readers. All the daily papers imitate and emulate the . Constitutionel.' The principal organ of the government, the Journal des Débats,' is now publishing, in its feuilletons, a novel, equally immoral and disgusting; and one of the proprietors has just been rewarded with a peerage, in addition to the £480, allowed by the government monthly to the other proprietors. In the doctrinarian system, to govern a people, it is to enslave and to corrupt them.
be traced through the Zend-avesta, the school of Plato, of Aristotle, of Zeno, of Epicurus, of the Eclectics. From the precious remains of antiquity which preserve to us the attempts of man to solve the vast and mysterious problem of his destiny, we might frame a catalogue of all the questions most interesting to our race. What is man? What is the moral economy of the world in which he dwells ? What estimate are we to form of his present condition? of the strange moral anomalies which he presents to our contemplation? What are man's duties on earth? Is that which is visible the whole of man? When death has changed his countenance, and all consciousness seems fled—when the body is dissolved, and nothing remains of it but
ashes to ashes and dust to dust,' what views are we to entertain of man ? Has the thinking conscious principle really perished in the wreck of the material frame, or does it survive the ruin, and retain its noblest faculties in some new mode of existence? What is that existence? Is it a more immediate contact with the Power that made the universe? What is the nature of the unseen world ? Is it a state of retribution? What are the destinies of the beings who inhabit it? How shall man be assured of finding, on that unknown shore, the elysium of bliss on which all minds but the most debased and grovelling have, in moments the most free from earthly passions, loved to dwell ?
Of these momentous questions, Christianity offers the only authoritative solution. It is true, indeed, that before the Christian era, and where the Jewish scriptures were unknown, man's inward nature had already borne testimony in favour of a morality in its main substance harmonizing with that of revealed religion; and the one power that formed all and upholds all, had not wholly escaped the eye of reason penetrating through the dark veil of polytheism : nor was immortality, as a fond and pleasing dream of the spirit, unknown to man. But as there was no adequate and unappealable authority to give weight to the more spiritual and elevated speculations of philosophy, she had nothing to encourage her to aim, on the grand scale, to be the regenerator of mankind. Either from policy, or a lingering and sincere vassalage to opinion, she was compelled to descend too much to established prejudices and exist. ing superstitions to prove an effective reformer of ideas and of morals. Socrates, who talked so sublimely of the Deity, ordered a sacrifice to Æsculapius. Philosophy could not establish Theism, nor fix in the popular mind any practical conviction of an hereafter, nor stem that flood of atheistic licentiousness which came in with the last ages of the Roman civilization.
Since Christianity, then, has set at rest the most practical part of all the great questions relating to man's destiny, may we not
conclude that, in reference to these subjects, the vocation of philosophy has long since wholly ceased? We have, now, a religion which no progress of civilization, no advancement of the human mind, no political or ecclesiastical revolutions, have been able to dislodge from the basis of evidence on which it stands, and it appears gradually tending, by visible advances, to the final occupation of the whole earth. For, to use the language of Jouffroi, the great ornament of the school which is regenerating philosophy in France : · Christianity has too strong a foundation in truth ever to disappear as paganism did : its destruction was but a dream of the eighteenth century, which never will be realized.' We have a religion which, various as are the opinions respecting its relation to the civil power, its modes and forms, and certain parts of the grand whole, presents to the vast and overwhelming bulk of the millions who acknowledge it as their faith, (if we may judge from their public Confessions,) to Catholic, Greek, and Protestant, one and the same broad outline, one and the same general scheme, one substantial response to the questions of deepest interest to mankind. Ought we not, then, at once to discard altogether, for the future, the attempt to throw any light upon the subject of man's moral nature and destiny by the aid of philosophy ?
There are those who would reply in the affirmative; and no doubt from the best intention, that of enhancing the value of Christianity. Men are to be met with of acknowledged personal excellence, and not destitute of education, who do not see the importance of philosophical inqairies into the fundamental laws of man's moral nature, with a view to general ethical principles and system. Such men, however, are seldom of an order of mind greatly to influence opinion. To persons of a more reflective cast, it becomes something more than a mere luxury of the intellect-it is a kind of necessity, to ponder and revolve in thought those moral phenomena which have, for so many ages, occupied the attention of the master-spirits of the earth. While Christianity has given to us, with a voice of authority, practical rules of life adapted to every degree of civilization, the task is still left to human reason to inquire, as it may be able, into the rationale of the relations which subsist between those rules and the nature of man. There must be fundamental laws of man's moral being, as of his physical constitution; and these laws cannot but be in real harmony with the testimony of a revelation from heaven, correctly understood. Moral philosophy may be defined, an attempt to trace to general principles what is described in scripture as 'the work of the law written on the heart.' This law, it will be remembered, is there spoken of as the proper guide of pagans ; ' their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts in the mean while accusing or el
excusing' them.* There is, then, an inscription, by the finger of God, on man's inward nature; which, however obscured and defaced through the working of selfishness and passion, may still be traced by diligent and painstaking observation. There is a moral constitution, the natural powers and principles of which, notwithstanding the perversion which has been made of them in practice, still indicate significantly man's destiny as an accountable being, and point to the general duties which he ought to discharge.
There are two extremes on this subject against which those who would arrive at truth should endeavour carefully to guard. The one is that of considering ethics, pursued exclusively on the principle of reasoning from the actual phenomena of the moral world, as a final science, a science wholly complete in itself for all purposes. Wherever a revelation from heaven is acknowledged to exist, an inductive philosophy of man's moral nature, or, in other words, a reply uttered by the voice of reason, alone, to the momentous questions which concern the entire range of duty and happiness, should obviously stand as but a fragment, though a very important fragment, of the whole truth respecting man as a moral being. The remarks of Dr. Chalmers in his Bridgewater Treatise are applicable both to natural theology and natural ethics. The theology of nature and of the schools, the theology of the ethical class, though most unsatisfactory when treated as a terminating science, is most important when treated as a rudimental one. The great error of our academic theism, as commonly treated, is that it expresses no want; that it reposes on its own fancied sufficiency. It is no reproach against our philosophical moralists that they have not stepped beyond the threshold of that peculium which is strictly and appropriately theirs; or not made incursions into another department than their own. The legitimate complaint is, that on taking leave of their disciples, they warn them not of their being only yet at the outset, or in the prosecution of a journey, instead of having reached the termination of it. Moral philosophy, even in its most finished state, is not what may be called a terminating science. It is at best but a science in transitu, and its lessons are those of a preparatory school. Its contains the rudiments of a nobler acquirement.'
We are strongly reminded by some of these appropriate remarks of the contrast subsisting between the self-satisfied tone of some modern ethical systems, which are well described as expressing no want;' and the conscious want of something beyond themselves which is expressed in the speculations of some of the great moralists of antiquity. We must content
• Rom. ii. 15.
ourselves with referring, at the foot of the page, to several pas. sages of Plato by way of illustration.* It is a singular fact (and it is a fact) that after Christianity had been shedding its light on the moral nature of man for sixteen or seventeen centuries, we have seen the rise of successive systems of ethical philosophy possessing far less of moral elevation, systems far more cold and heartless, far less animated with an humble and reverent spirit, than we may find among those who lived in the dark depths of paganism, centuries before that light arose. Can we, then, wonder that the Christian moralist should feel jealous of much that has styled itself ethics, in modern times ? that he should maintain that ethics, if based on reason alone, is then, only legitimate when avowedly not a final and 'terminating' science? and that he should express dissatisfaction with any system which comes forth in such a manner as to overlook the fact that it is not a full and perfect response to all the moral necessities of man? Natural ethics may furnish a true theory of morals; but how to remedy the want of conformity which there is wont to be in man with the rule of his own nature how to harmonize man with himself? is' a question to which our human reason can return no certain and satisfactory reply.'t
But if modern philosophers have often erred on the side of excess, by propounding inductive ethics, or ethics as derived solely from observation and reason, as though it were in itself a final and complete science of man regarded as a moral, accountable, and immortal being -- a science self-contained, and adequately meeting the moral wants of our nature as it now is ; on the other hand, there are those, who, as it seems to us, fall into the opposite extreme, and err by defect, in wishing to shut up all inquiries respecting man's moral nature within the covers of the sacred volume. It is surely interesting, and it is important to the general cause of truth, to seek in a natural morality materials which may exhibit the harmony of the voice of man's nature with the voice of inspiration. Truth cannot but be always consonant with truth. Its evidence may flow from different sources, but all its lines must ultimately converge to the same point. We might as well propose to find a circle whose radii should meet in two centres, as to imagine that what is true as attested by a clear consciousness, or by a just observation of nature, is not true as connected with religion. No one, surely, excepting in burlesque, would now think of maintaining the assertion of Hoffman, once divinity professor at Helmstadt, that' what is true in philosophy is false in theo
* Phæd. $ 78. Epinom. $ 8, 9.11. De Repub. iv. $ 5. De Legib. i. $11. Apolog. Socrat. $ 18. Alcib, i. 6 22.
† Whewell's Four Sermons preached before the University of Cambridgr November, 1837. Vid. p. 50.