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that is, he admits the truth of Mr not limit it in that manner, and we Hume's dilemma to hold, in by know, that Mr Playfair regretted his far the most numerous cases, unless not having done so. We had not the where the probability of the miracle honour of being very intimately accan be shown. But no such proba- quainted with that amiable and enbility can be shown, except in the lightened man, but we shall ever concase of a beneficent religion. A ini- sider it as a fortunate circumstance racle for no purpose or a bad purpose, that we happened to call on him a few is the most improbable thing in days after the outcry was first raised the world ; and we are of the opi- against his doctrine, when he immenion of Mr Hume and Mr Playfair, diately entered upon the subject with that all the testimony in the world that simplicity and candour for wbich could not prove it. Suppose the he was so eminent. He stated, that Christian Religion were å tissue of he regretted exceedingly his having wickedness and absurdity like the su- been misunderstood, which he had perstitions of the Hindus, would it be not thought possible, as there was possible to prove the truth of the mi- not the slightest appearance of an inracles wrought in evidence of it? sidious sneer against religion in all Certainly not. But being the religion his paper, and as he truly and sinthat it is, nothing can be more pro- cerely was thinking solely of physical bable, than that it was introduced in- events, without any reference to reto the world in a miraculous manner. ligion. He wished, he said, that he The probability of the miracles being had been more explicit, since the misonce established, then all the evidence take had taken place, as he could very which goes to prove them has its ef- easily have shown, that there must be fect upon the mind, like the evidence a moral probability for all such mirafor any other facts ;-but were the re- cles as are credible, and, if they want ligion which they support utterly aw this, he then maintained that he bominable in itself, then we main- was correct in his position, that not tain, that it would be impossible to testimony could prove them. We' give any credit to them. Mr Playfair, however, excludes the subject of religion altogether, and is merely speak
* I cannot possibly be mistaken as to
** the substance of the conversation above al. ing of violations of the laws of nature
luded to, as it made a great impression up. with a reference to philosophy and
on me, though, ať this distance of time, the conduct of life, and he is quite I may be unable to state the precise words. right in saying, that where the laws It was in the year 1814, a week or two af. of nature are distinctly established, ter the publication of the paper in questhe evidence for any violation of them tion, that it took place. Mi Playfair him. ought never once to be looked at. self opened the subject, and seemed very This applies very accurately to all stoc anxious that the misapprehension which ries in profane history which speak had gone abroad should be removed. He of such violations and to all the said a hasty and inconsiderate attack had foolish stories of witches and ghosts
been made upon him, which, he thought, which once prevailed, to the great an
no one who candidly weighed the whole
Ho drift of his paper would ever have been benoyance of men in common life. Here
Here trayed into. He conceived it to be quite an argument such as Mr Hume's is a plain, that, in that speculation, he was ocvery convenient one. The facts are cupied solely with reasonings that had no utterly incredible, and, therefore, the reference to religion at all, and the excepevidence which supports them is not tion which he had made he had thought so much as to be examined. It may sufficiently explicit on that point. I re. be very curious and very staggering, member distinctly his then expressing his
but still it is much more probable regret that he had not spoken more at that it should be false. than that the large of the moral probability of relie events should be true. If there is gious miracles, which, in his view of no probability to be found for mira
the question, was the circumstance upon cles in such circunstances, the evi
which their evidence mainly rested. ne evi- This, he said, he could very easily have
his he dence which details them ought never done, but that the scope of his arguto be inquired into.
o ment did not lead him into that consiWe certainly wish that Mr Playfair deration. I recollect farther, that he said had stated more fully the limitation he thought of going to Sir Henry Monof his doctrine, as Mr Hume did creiff, and making the same explanation to
are ourselves very much of the same and more blind to the presence of that opinion,-an opinion which, if it is Almighty power which resides in the not sound, is certainly quite innocent, Holy of Holies ? I am not disposed and is not, we think, such as will jus- to think slightingly of philosophy, tify any one for saying of the person and I wish not to think unfavourably who holds it, supposing him to be a of man; but really these facts someclergyman, that he is “ laying aside times discompose my admiration of his gown and sneering at miracles !” the one, and my natural synipathy
with the other, and I am almost tempt
ed to join the cry of the bigots, and DIALOGUES ON NATURAL AND RE
to say that philosophy is a forbid .. VEALED RELIGION.
den fruit, and that the absurd curioPart III.-Objections Answered.
sity of the human mind is ever work
ing its own misery and ruin. CLEANTHES now began to speak as I can easily enter into your feelings follows: Your observations, Philo, upon this subject, replied Philo; at have brought to my mind a reflection the same time, if it will help to reconwhich I have often made on the un- cile you to science and its votaries, I expected and apparently unaccount- think it is not difficult to point out able effects produced by the study of the causes of the singular anomaly natural philosophy on the minds of which you mention. The more that many ingenious inquirers in the pre science becomes extended, the more sent age. The views which the im- is it necessary that those who labour provements in that science have open- in it should confine their view to pared into the secrets of nature have been ticular departments; and though in such, as one should suppose, excel, each of these the most striking inlently adapted to increase our admira stances of design may be discovered, tion of the wisdom of God, and to yet while they are contemplated apart, place the proofs of his existence be- and without a reference to the whole yond all possibility of dispute. In scheme of nature, they rather appear. ancient times, the wisest among the to be curious than great, and do not philosophers, although without the ad- suggest any strong impression of the vantages which modern science has wisdom from which they originate. conferred, yet accumulated, from their The ancient philosophers, who knew observation of natural phenomena, much less than the moderns of the proofs upon this point which no cane minute instances of design discovered did mind could resist; how has it in every part of nature, were yet happened that the philosophers of the more in the habit of contemplating present age, surrounded on every the system as a whole, and were hand, and wherever they direct their therefore more likely to be impressed inquiries, by a confirmations strong with the religious sentiments of reve. as proofs of holy writ,” should yet, rence and admiration. by a wonderful perversity of ingenui You will remark, too, that the inty, overlook them all; and while quiries of philosophy, as it has been every discovery which they make is improved by Lord Bacon, relate more adding something to the august mag- to the methods by which things are nificence of the temple of nature, accomplished, than to the designs why should they have become more which are had in view; in other
- words, the investigation of final causes him, but I do not know whether or not has been banished from science, and he did so. I have never heard of an ob- the attention of the philosopher is lijection on religious grounds having been mited to the investigation of the ormade to any other of Mr Playfair's papers der of events, without inquiring into in the Edinburgh Review,--so that the the contrivance from which it origicharge against him comes at last to this, nates. He takes the machine of na. that he published in that Review many of
ture to pieces -he examines the manthe finest speculations on scientific subjects which have been written in our day,--a
ner in which its various movements charge, to which, I suppose, there is no
are conducted,--and although, in the man of science in the British dominions, course of this employment, contrivwhether clergyman or layman, who would
ance must constantly be suggested to have any great aversion to plead guilty. him, yet his thoughts are solely di
i R. M. rected to the visible appearances be
fore him. If a man is occupied in that any other has ever been held up examining the constitution of a watch, to them. I am thankful that this opihe will not be so apt to think of the nion is no longer mine. But you watchmaker, as if he merely consider- seem in deep thought, Pamphilus, ed it as an instrument designed for (continued Philo, turning to me, ) pointing out the hour. This is no pray may I be favoured with the subreproach to the modern method of ject of your meditations ? philosophizing, but only shews in I have been considering (replied I) what manner it may have accidentally to what extent your foriner arguments contributed to the unfortunate result have carried us, and I cannot help which you have noticed.
thinking that you have made rather There is another circumstance, too, too large a leap from your premises to which may have tended to disunite your conclusion. I will admit, if you religion and philosophy. We are will, that the traces of design are irfirst taught the principles of reli- resistibly suggested to us, when we gion on the authority of revelation, contemplate the appearances of naand as they commonly seem to be ture-I will even go as far as you sufficiently well grounded upon that seem to wish, (though I am not quite foundation, we are apt to be in- sure but that it is somewhat too far.) different about any other. Philoso- and say that, to our understanding, phers, indeed, come but too often design is as apparent as the appearto entertain doubts of that ground ances themselves are to our senses. of belief,—but so far from looking for But, in order to reach the notion of any other, their views of religion are Deity, we must not only discover deapt entirely to vanish from their sign, but mind: you seem to identify minds when the authority of revela the two. I admit that our common tion has lost its hold. They can idea of design regards it solely as an scarcely expect in any other princi- attribute of mind,--but may it not ples so imposing an aspect of reality, exist as a quality of nature, and be and when that system, which divines only one of the principles of things, have exhausted all their learning and and stand on the same footing with reasoning to support, seems to be attraction, magnetism, electricity, or giving way, they can seldom be pre- any of the other powers which seem vailed on to look anywhere else for to govern the universe ? the traces of Deity. At first sight, I thought, Pamphilus, (replied Phi. too, the philosophy of nature appears lo,) that you had agreed with me at times to afford arguments against in acknowledging, that those otber revelation, and, in so doing, it seems, powers, as you now call them, in imi. at the same time, to loosen the foun- tation of the materialists, were only dations of religion in general. Thus methods of operation, and that they divines and philosophers occupy two could only justly be denominated partics in the world of letters, and al- powers, inasmuch as they supposed though it is to be hoped there are the previous exercise of volition. What many inquirers who do not belong ex- do we call the phenomena of attracclusively to either side, but who bor- tion, of magnetism, or of electricity, row lights from both, it is not to be except certain relative arrangements wondered at, that the two parties in the particles of matter?-and when should have been formed, and that no we give the name of power to any of small animosity should prevail be- these operations, we only mean to say tween them.
Sisi that there is a power by which they The superstitions of antiquity, on are carried on. In their regularity the other hand, could have no such we read design ;-design, as you have evil influence on the religious senti- owned, naturally suggests to us the ments of philosophers : They never notion of mind, and the only way in formed any very serious part of the which mind acts is by volition: the principles of men of reflection, and only notion of cause and effect which while it was thought proper to treat we can form is volition and its conthem with public respect, nature was sequences ;-all the operations of nastill the great book which the wise ture, therefore, appear to us effects, and the contemplative resorted to. I and we give the name of power to the know, Cleanthes, it is your opinion agency which produces them. that it is a misfortune for mankind I grant you, (said I,) Philo, all this is very natural, but I do not see the all its unity and dignity from bearing proof on which its reality is establish- the stamp of an higher intelligence ? * ed. You have got design, but where You may say then, if you will, that is mind, volition, and all the other you have no idea of God, except as train of your deductions ?
the designing principle of all existWell then, (said Philo,) if you will ence: mind owes its arrangement to not give me mind and volition, I will this principle, as well as matter, and deny those powers which you wish to must be an object, therefore, of infepalm upon ine. I say still that these rior reverence. are mere arrangements, and that they Indeed, Philo, (said Cleanthes,) I indicate nothing but design separate cannot but be of Pamphilus's opinion, from the perceptions with which they that it is not the mere power of inaffect the senses. Design, therefore, telligence which excites our religious will be the only principle by which sentiments, but our notion that there nature is regulated.
is some being in whom it resides, and Admit this, (said I,) and we have · whom we suppose as in some degree not yet found the Deity. Design resembling ourselves in nature, though upon this supposition will be merely greatly beyond us in all perfection. a principle of nature, not an attribute I am of the same opinion, (said of mind, and it is only an intelligent Philo,) and Pamphilus admits, that mind, not a principle of arrangement, when we once reach the notion of dewhich can be the object of any senti- sign, it is natural for us to suppose a ments of religion.
mind, volition, and other attributes, However Cleanthes (replied Philo) but this he wants to have strictly demay despise my sceptical tendencies, monstrated. Here I have recourse to I cannot but think that they may the defensive weapons of scepticism, at times lead to truth; for instance, and tell him that the notion of mind, Pamphilus, all your present difficulty as of a single undivided being, is seems to arise from a mysterious re greatly derived from the consistency vérence which you have conceived for and harmony observed among its operathat thing which you are pleased to tions, and which, therefore, as well as call mind, and which we sceptics the system of nature, supposes the exsometimes treat with no very marked istence of superior intelligence. If, deference. Indeed, we have gone therefore, he will not at once admit so far as to doubt of its existence. mind from the observation of design, You who seem to understand it so I tell him, that design is superior to well, must at least know what you mind, or is the principle of its constimean when you speak of your own tution, and if this should seem paradoxmind. But I suppose you will find, ical, it is only saying, in other words, upon examination, that it is only its that the divine intelligence is in its beattributes of which you are conscious, ing or essence of a loftier nature than or of which you know any thing; mind, which, in strictness of speech, and the thinking substance itself will means only created mind. God may make but a very poor figure in your be only known to us as the principle apprehension.
of intelligence, but then it is very evi No matter for that, (replied I, I dent, that this principle must be more am still satisfied of its existence. essentially intelligent than any other
You are conscious (replied Philo) intelligence, and if our notion of of the existence of certain operations substance or individuality of being, of thought and of action, which are either in mind or matter, be derived, connected together by fixed laws. This as I think probable, from that obsystem or combination of operations served harmony and arrangement of you call yourself, or your mind. In parts, which indicates an unity of deits constitution, as well as in the great sign; then, although we cannot class system of nature, you may trace the the divine nature under the common influence of design superior to your own, and what if this thing which #
* This notion of design, or intention, you call the substance of mind, and
forms a part of many complex ideas, which which seems to you so admirable and have occa
have occasioned much perplexity to Philodivine, be nothing more than that ar sophers, and is, in truth, the ingredient rangement and connection between which has imperceptibly the greatest weight your various faculties, which derives in their composition.
notion of substance, for that would be by Demea, in our former converto suppose, that it had arranged and sation. * You saythe appearances harmonized its own existence; and of nature prove the existence of dethe exact notion of the Deity, accordo sign. I ask you, is this design an atingly, must be entirely above our tribute of mind? You reply, that comprehension : yet, . what comes we naturally think so, because we nearest it is inind, because mind ex- know nothing of design except in hibits intelligence, and we may be mind; but then you say, it is some very sure that there is nothing of sub- thing greater than mind, because stance in the highest sense which does mind is itself a system formed by denot belong to the Deity, if we mean sign. If then the Deity is mind, all by this word any thing separable from those objections which you formerly the constitution or arrangement of started against the anthropomorphism things created and systematized. of Cleanthes, may be urged against
But, indeed, Cleanthes, we are am the hypothesis ; if he is more than gain getting too deeply into metaphy- mind, or of a nature as you say ensical difficulties, and it is not very tirely above our comprehension, are wise, perhaps, in Pamphilus to push we not running into the mysticism of me beyond the limits of an humbler Demea ? philosophy. It would be well for us, I repeat again, (replied Philo,) that in this great inquiry, to keep in view all we directly read in nature is the the admirable caution of Calvin, existence of design or intelligence. “ Hanc esse rectissimam Dei quæren- This is a quality which I perfectly di viam, et aptissimum ordinem : non understand, because I find it existing ut audaci curiositate penetrare tente- in myself. In myself it exists along mus ad excutiendam ejus essentiam with other qualities, the combination quæ adoranda potius est quam scru- and assemblage of which I call my pulosius disquirenda: sed ut illum mind, and as this is the only mode in suis operibus contemplemur, qui- in which I can conceive its existence, bús se propinquum nobis familiarem- I naturally speak of it in every inque reddit ac quodammodo commu- stance as being an attribute of mind. nicat." If our understandings are However, the intelligence which I satisfied, that design is as apparent discover in nature must exist in a in nature as any other appearance, mode of being different from my comwe may admit at once that the mon idea of mind; because the only great fountain of all intelligence is at species of mind with which I am least as honourably situated as any of acquainted, is itself constituted or the streams which are derived from systematized, which cannot be the it ; and if this mighty faculty seems case with the divine mind. The to fall into the class of what are called truth then seems simply to be this, natural, that is to say, unintelligent and it leads neither to anthropomorpowers; unless it be the attribute of phism nor to mysticism. I discover a mind, and be associated with other the divine intelligence. I can only attributes, then surely we may (to a speak of intelligence as existing in a void even a contradiction) allow that inind ; at the same time the Divine there must be a Divine mind in which cannot be of the same nature with the this intelligence resides, and which human mind. If you ask me what is must be endowed also with all the at- that supreme nature, I cannot inform tributes that are suitable to the lofti- you, I know as much as I want, ness of the conception. Admit the however, when I have discovered its infinite intelligence of the Deity, and all-pervading wisdom. every other perfection of mind or spi- I will only detain you on this part rit will follow in its train. . . of the inquiry (replied I) with an
You will pardon me, however, other little puzzle, in which, although Philo, said I, even although you have I firmly believe there is no serious ensconced yourself behind the formida- difficulty, it may yet be as well if we ble shield of Calvin, (I did not, by the can unravel it. You told me a little way, conceive that there were such while ago that I should have some noble sayings in his terrific theology,) difficulty in satisfying myself what I if I should accuse you of some of that tendency to mysticism, which • See Hume's Dialogues on Natural was carried to so great an extent Religion.