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ART. VII.- Christian Morals. By the Rev. W. SEWELL, M.A.,

Fellow and Tutor of Exeter College, and Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Oxford. 8vo. London: 1840.


HIS is a book which, if we had fallen in with it at an old book

stall, we might have picked up as a strange instance of the lengths to which the ravings and hallucinations of an individual may go. But considering it as the appointed teachings of a University Professor ; and, not only that, but as part of a collection which clergymen of the Church of England are engaged in circulating under the much-abused name of · The Englishman's • Library,' it has filled us with amazement. We had hoped that the University itseif, or some of its members, would have put forth a disclaimer. But as this is not the case, and as the book remains before the world, with all the authority which ought to belong to the Chair of Moral Philosophy at Oxford, it is fitting that the non-academic public should be informed what sort of moral teaching an English University provides. We believe the instruction in Latin and Greek—the mere scholarship of Oxfordto be very good; but the genius of the place appears to be in irreconcilable hostility with most of the elements of modern civilization. It looks as if a fatality hung over its walls, with regard to every thing relating to real life. What Oxford loyalty would have made of the British Constitution, if it had had its way, is matter of history. The real friends of the Reformation are pretty well aware, by this time, what would have been the use of a Reformation at all, if nothing else had been to be got by it but the odds and ends which Oxford divinity would leave us now. An honest man out of Bedlam will learn, from the writings of Mr Sewell, Tutor of Exeter College, and late Professor of Moral Philosophy to the University, the nature, means, and object of Oxford morals.

There never was a writer less entitled to notice on his own account, except as a curiosity, than Mr Sewell. But his connexion with Oxford— the fact that the University has indorsed his bills and guaranteed his credit-makes him a person of importance on this occasion. We cannot omit the opportunity of protesting against the unprincipled way in which that learned body has compromised its reputation, and violated the trust reposed in it by so doing. The scandals of patronage, it is true, have nowhere ranged with wilder license than over every department of public education. The Church, which ought to be the great public teacher, has been jobbed, until the existence of the Church of Scotland is put in peril by the evil and the remedy; and until the Churches of England and of Ireland can, in many quarters, no longer show the noblest tile by which Christ announced that his religion* was to be known —the poor have the gospel preached unto them.' Well might Paley complain, that the converting the best share • of the revenues of the church (the proper fund for maintaining

those who are occupied in cultivating or communicating religi6 ous knowledge) into annuities for the gay and illiterate youth • of great families, threatens to stifle the little clerical merit that • is left among us.' But if lay patrons are bad, ecclesiastical patrons are,

if any thing, worse. The misconduct of the Universities in this respect is so flagrant, that no man in his senses, founding a Professorship, would place it at their disposal. Private motives, good, bad, and indifferent, uniformly get the better of all public considerations. Merit is the last thing thought of. At Cambridge, for instance, a member of St John's College, competent or incompetent, may make sure of any University of fice which the votes of his college can command. At Oxford, not long ago, the newspapers were full, for weeks together, of the election of a Professor of Poetry. Not a word of the proper qualifications of the candidates. The election was turned

• The Bishop of London has lately published three • Sermons on the Church.' Oxford divinity disposes us to be very thankful to him for his comparative moderation. But we must remonstrate on the part of Scotch Episcopalians, as well as of English Protestant Dissenters, against the narrowness of the test by which the Bishop tries the guilt of schism. No man (be says) can justify his voluntary separation from the National • Church, but upon the ground that she requires of bim the profession of • some article of faith at variance with the fundamental truths of the Gos. ‘pel, or the performance of some act of worship, forbidden, either ex

pressly or implicitly, by the Word of God!' There is to our minds anoiber justification, less applicable, to be sure, on account of the class to which they respectively belong-to Episcopalian seceders from the Church of Scotland—than to the great majority of Protestant seceders from the Church of England ;-we mean that they do not find the ministrations of the National Church so spiritually profitable as those of their own chapels. If Dr Johnson could admit, with tears in his eyes, the justice of Hannah More's defence of her dissenter-reading, the mechanic and the servant-mard, it is to be hoped, may be excused for going on a Sunday where they feel that they receive most good. The truth is, that the intellectual as well as social babits of most English clergymen bave made them in many ways above their work. As to educating the poor, Dr Arnold has said, • I never knew any poor man who could properly be said to be educated.'

into a trial of party strength, and nothing else, between the two religious parties which divide the University at present. Personal or party motives of this description must have the discredit of having made Mr Sewell Professor of Morals; a science, above all others, requiring calmness and caution, a clear comprehensive understanding, and a loving heart. Neither is arrogance the temper, nor a kind of Irish eloquence the talent, wanted. Any page of the book at which its readers may have the luck to open, will satisfy them, not only that the writer of it has a mind intellectually incapable of distinguishing truth from falsehood, but that he could never have had five minutes conversation with any body upon any serious subject, without this most striking disqualification coming out.

When we give Mr Sewell five minutes to expose himself in, we are sure that we give him time enough. For this purpose, it will be all the same whether he shall have been expounding to his friends the theories on Christian art and Christian polities, with which he encourages mankind to hope that he may live to complete his theory of Christian morals; or whether he shall have been dilating on the only way in which, as he conceives, Natural Philosophy can be cultivated with any reasonable prospect of success. His contempt for modern science, and for the drudges digging in its mines for facts, will have prevented him from communicating with the British Association concerning the methods by which alone discoveries are to be made. But this is clear. His chapter upon the subject (ch. 22) is either greater nonsense than Swift or Munchausen durst have attributed to the academy of Laputa ; or the Novum Organum is nothing to it. Our readers must say which.

It is declared, that Theology is the root and mother of all knowledge; and “ that the sciences which relate to matter ought 'to be studied upon Christian principles and methods, just as ' much as the sciences which relate to mind.'

This being assumed, the chapter consists of two propositions :- First, the human mind, unless it be supported by a theological creed, is incapable of making a successful effort upon any subject. Next, from their inseparable connexion with the facts with which all science has to deal, the Scriptures, duly studied and applied, are the appropriate guide to every species of scientific truth. If the first of these propositions is true, no man can trust to his understanding for any purpose—and especially no man of science can expect his understanding to stand him in any stead in scientific enquiries—unless he has first settled his religious creed to the satisfaction of Mr Sewell. If the second proposition is true, Sir David Brewster and Dr Whewell may save themselves the

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trouble of discussing, whether discoverers in science can be assisted in their noble labours by any rules. They have only to read their Bibles properly, and they will find the key to the secrets of nature there. Now for the proofs of such astounding communications.

That a religious creed is necessary to preserve a man in the use of his faculties, is demonstrated as follows. Without a religious creed there can be no active moral principle; and without an active moral principle, “the very highest productions of the • human intellect are just as much the result of circumstan

ces, and the work of chance, (as what?) as a piece of cotton • which comes out of a mill.' Again, the whole earth, every

night about twelve o'clock, becomes a vast lunatic asylum.' And, it is supposed, that man in his lucid intervals—that is, in his waking hours--would be precisely in the same state but for the control of the moral principle; in other words, (for they are spoken of as synonymous,) but for the influence of a religious creed. Our experience is appealed to for the truth of this statement. Scarcely any thing has been done in the present • day for the real advancement of science by speculative men.' A religious paralysis, it is assumed, has struck their understandings. • Whatever discoveries have been made in that ma• chinery which is our chief boast, have been made by common

workmen by accident. It is a notorious fact.' Let the Wattses and Babbages attend. The world has been giving them credit on false pretences. Their calculations are an affair of chance. The limits, within which Mr Sewell's disciples are allowed to look for their religious creed, are small indeed. But stretch these limits from the east unto the west ; and was there ever before printed, in any age or country, such a prodigy of falsehood-as-not merely that men without religion were for the ordinary business of lite no more to be depended upon than lunatics or somnambulists—but that the probability of a successful exercise of our intellectual powers, on whatever subject they are applied, rise or fall with the nature of our religious opinions. A moment's consideration * of the difference between speculative and practical reason, and of the subjects on which they are respectively exercised ; and how the will, and the infirmities thereto belonging, only attach to subjects of practical as distinguished from subjects of speculative reason, would

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* Mr Sewell likes the parade of obsolete learning. He will nowhere see this difference better put, than in the Prima Secundæ of Thomas Aquinas.- Quæ t. xciv.

with most people have prevented all this folly. That this would not have been the case with Mr Sewell, is but too true. Since, he says, what are termed the speculative doctrines of the Church, are falsely termed so: and that in one instance, morals, Bishop Butler has shown the Athanasian Creed to be as much the " basis of Christian morality, so far as morality is a part of re• ligion, and religion a part of morality, as the Ten Command• ments.'

The use to be made, in physical investigations, of the nature, attributes, and moral government of God, is illustrated more in detail.

Before we give our readers a specimen of these details, we must observe, as Pitt observed to Wilberforce on returning him Bishop Butler's celebrated treatise, that there is nothing which Analogy may not prove, if it is admitted as a mode of positive proof.

Its proper sphere is to remove out of the way ohjections, whether founded on à priori or other reasoning, or on supposed evidence of improbability, ill applied. If this be so, what alone can be the consequence, even in the most prudent hands, of searching for similitudes between things, which bave nothing in common except their common author ? More especially does the folly of quoting Scriptural analogies, on the ground of the supposed connexion of Scripture facts • with every other branch of facts in every other science,' become quite incredible, when every body allows that much of the precise and positive language of Scripture concerning physics, as well as many of its precedents in moral and social life, are in direct contradiction with those physical truths and moral duties upon which all mankind are now agreed. The Scriptures are not the less true for their own great purpose, whatever we may think of the Astronomy and Geology which are contained in them; and whether we adopt or not Paley's explanation of the wars of Canaan, or Milton's panegyric on the polygamous marriage bed, as Saints and Patriarchs used.'

A study of the facts with which a particular science has to deal, will be constantly suggesting to inventive minds different hypotheses or leading ideas, among which the law of their relation is likely to be found. It is part of the divination of genius, to ascertain with the least possible cost of time and labour, which of these seeds will grow. In hammering away at nature, there will be greatly too many chips in the case even of the best workmen. But the best workman will have the fewest. Mr Sewell, we fear, is all chips. His dogmas are—first, that there can be no physical science without religion ; next, that whether any

of science can emerge under a religion, partly true and

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