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what it is; in other words, a mystery still remains. For, that a being all whose acts and resolves will certainly be as the conjoint influence of character and external circumstances, shall be held responsible for those acts and resolves, and yet that he should have had nothing whatever to do with the initiatory steps of the great series of acts which are to form the tissue of his life; that by the time he comes to be a responsible agent at all, his moral character should be set, or at least have received its general complexion, and in every case been subjected to far more important influences than will operate upon it at any after period of life; that he should be responsible for effects which certainly flow from their causes, though he has had no control over the causes; all this we say presents a stupendous mystery, for which the mere substitution of the word certainty' for necessity,' by no means delivers us, and from which we can only ultimately take refuge by referring ourselves to the irrepressible conviction,-a conviction which we cannot shake off,—that we are responsible for all those moral acts which we perform with a knowledge of duty and in entire freedom from external restraint; no matter what our previous history up to that moment; or what the conjoint influences which have operated upon us, and given our character its shaping and complexion. Let the doctrine of Edwards be ever so certain-and that doctrine seems our only escape from the most unmitigated absurdities and contradictions—it by no means invalidates these conclusions. To show how it harmonizes with them is a far different thing. To do this would indeed be fully to lift the veil from this great mystery.—No objection, however, on a moral ground, fairly lies against the doctrine of the dependence of volition on causation, in other words, against moral necessity, so long as it is felt that (whether it be admitted or not) he who possesses at the time of any act of a moral nature, a knowledge of duty and freedom from physical constraint, is responsible for that act. This we cannot but feel, and this it is probable is all that we know or are likely to know about the matter. *
The sections entitled Theory of Morals' and Religion,' are both very short, much shorter than we could wish, or than the importance of the subjects deserved. Yet short as they are, we have left ourselves no space to comment on the many things we approve in them, or the few things that we should dispute. We should not, however, be doing justice to our author, and we should assuredly be robbing the reader of a high gratification if we withheld the following beautiful and forcible observations on
The reader will find some further remarks on this subject in the Essay on the Genius and Writings of Jonathan Edwards, by Professor Rogers.p. xxxii.
the deficiencies of natural religion even in its best estate,' and ontb e affecting stolidity and apathy, the lamentable tranquillity with which a large class of philosophers regard those deficiencies, neither asking for nor caring about a 'more excellent way.'
* The light of natural religion does not grow brighter and brighter unto perfect day—it is most full and complete at the first. It indicates the divine existence more clearly than the divine attributes; and less evidently the moral attributes, than what are termed the natural attributes. Fewer objections occur to the divine wisdom than to the divine benevolence, and the proofs of justice and of holiness in the Deity are less to be sought in the external world, where we trace, indeed, a plan of divine government, but only in its faint outlines and early commencement. We must seek these in the mind of man, and that mind so disturbed and disordered, and in our moral feelings, so complex and evanescent as to escape from the examination of many inquirers themselves ; how much less likely are they to lead these inquirers to the same characters, in a transcendent degree, in the author, of our frame.
What a proof of the necessity of revelation, is the philosophy of so moral a writer as Stuart. The notice of revelation is scrupulously avoided, as if that heavenly light, once admitted, would put out the grosser and earthly fires which we have kindled, as the only beacons to guide ourselves in the darkness of this world. The great aim of many moral philosophers is avowedly and determinedly to close their philosophic shutters against the meridian sun, in order to enjoy by day, the flickering light of their slender tapers.
Stuart confesses, with respect to the immortality of the soul, that not any single argument that he adduces, is conclusive-all that he hopes is, to make up by their number, for their want of weight. He assigns as proofs, first, the desire of immortality ; second, the fear of immortality, or the effects of remorse; third, the formation of the soul for immortality ; fourth, the growth of moral habits ; fifth, the imperfect administration of justice on this side the grave; sixth, and last, universal belief. We agree with Stuart, that these arguments conjoined are sufficient to prove the doctrine of immortality in the calmness of reason, and in the absence of temptation ; but how little effect would such arguments have on the generality of mankind. Even to those who adopt them, immortality is proved, but not revealed
- they may believe that they shall live, after the dissolution of the body, but how or where, they have still to seek, after the utmost force of all these six arguments combined is exhausted.
• Neither does Stuart's reasoning throw more light upon the character of the Deity. That a wise and powerful Being exists, is proved with comparative ease ; but what are his thoughts to us-ward, and in what relation shall we stand to him after death? On this all im. portant subject Stuart throws no light, and seems, for any thing that appears to the contrary, to take but little interest in the inquiry. With respect to the general laws of nature, Stuart observes, their
tendency will be found in every instance favourable to order and happiness.' If we meet with apparent exceptions, then we have only to . acknowledge that the ways of Providence are unsearchable, and we must strive to fortify our minds by the pious hope, that the sufferings we endure at present, are subservient to some beneficial plan which we are unable to comprehend.' Stuart takes comfort where few besides would find it -- The common complaint that we hear of the prevalence of vice in the world (I mean the opinion of good and candid men on the subject, for I speak not at present of the follies of the splenetic and censorious), ought rather to be considered as proofs of the high standard of excellence presented to our view by the Author of our moral constitution, than as proofs of any peculiar degeneracy in the manners of our cotemporaries.' He subsequently adds, ' A distinction which I shall afterwards have occasion to illustrate between absolute and relative rectitude, will enable me to explain away a much greater proportion of the apparent wickedness of our species. It is melancholy to consider a professor of morals and an instructor of youth, not only sedulously shutting his eyes under the full blaze of that illumination which has brought life and immortality to light, but encouraging others also to rejoice in sparks of their own kindling, rather than to hail at once the rising of the Sun of Righteousness with healing on his wings. And that one, whose office it was to point out the sources and distinctions of morality, should have endeavoured to perplex so plain a question as the fallen condition of humanity, which even the heathens acknowledged, and the more eminent moralists among them made the groundwork of their philosophy.'-pp. 369-372.
On the whole, though we think this volume very disproportioned in extent to the multiplicity and magnitude of the subjects it embraces (and what other defects it has are in a great measure owing to this); though it does not contain much of novelty in speculation, and though no inconsiderable deductions are to be made from some of its statements ; yet we also think it on many grounds, well worthy of the perusal of every student of mental science; principally, however, for the elegance and perspicuity with which our author states, and the felicity with which he illustrates the more familiar truths of the science. It has at all events the comparatively rare merit of investing an abstract subject with beauty and elegance of style, and of not being what most books on metaphysics are-a dry one.
Art. IV. Rural Sketches. By Thomas Miller, Author of a
Day in the Woods,' Beauties of the Country,' Royston Gower,' &c. 8vo. pp. 358. London: John Van Voorst.
IT T is now the time of the year for those who are wearied at the
oar of business, and adusi with the heat and crush of enormous London, filled as it is at this moment with pleasures and fascinations, with pleasure-seekers and enchanted multitudes, with music and exhibitions of paintings, and the thousand objects of vivid interest to those who only catch a glimpse of them for a brief period, and now and then in the course of their lives; filled from end to end with the eager swarm of politicians, with the advocates of religious and philanthropic schemes of social and moral progression, their committees, and their public meetings, day after day,—to begin to think of the green retreats of the country. Even those whose lives are spent there, and who are now brought to town for a short season by the pressure of public business, or the stirring calls of humanity, as they pace the hot pavements of the metropolis, or jostle amid the dense crowd on the shady side of the street, catch sweet glimpses of the blue sky overhead, or feel a fresh breeze come up from some opening from the river, and think how delicious the country is now. They are carried by a moment's imagination away to their own hills and fields, and quiet country towns, which with their intermingled gardens and trees, are themselves more than half country ; where from their town windows they can glance over woods and rivers, and see birds soaring through the blue air, or white sails filled with the seabreeze. They are borne away from the brick walls around them, and the roar of men and vehicles in grinding dissonance to the most green and sunny and flowery quiet. They see meadows carpeted with the richest mosaic of all colours which the sun can call forth on the rejoicing bosom of the earth; they hear the nightingale and blackbird singing in their copses and shrubberies, and the dews which lie on the smooth lawns, and on banks where the long-blooming primrose is yet but just fading; how delicious they are. Hundreds, satiated with the crowding enjoyments of London, wearied with its exertions, and bearing with them the calm delightful sense of high duties discharged, will quit town a day or two sooner for such bewitching fancies, and such we recommend to carry in their pockets Thomas Miller's Rural Sketches. They will be just in the true temper to enjoy them; their temporary whirl through the great national vortex will have sharpened their perceptions of the actual features of rural life, which constant gazing may have only dulled. They may pull them out as they skim away from the smoke of London towards their own green retreats
in the railway coach, and they will soon exclaim, Well, London is a wonderful place, but the country for me after all. To these happy mortals, and to those whom the perpetual living in town gives an annual calenture, and who begin to hunger and thirst after a run into the country as naturally as salmon run up the rivers, or eels run down them to the sea ; we say, put “The Rural Sketches' into your portmanteau, and seat yourselves under a green tree, or on a crag overjetting the sea, a hundred miles off, as soon as you can. Steam-engines are coughing and fuming with impatience, on railroads and in packets, to whisk you to any corner of the kingdom, and there is not a corner which is not now a paradise. Autumn may give you steadier weather and dustier roads, but the full freshness of the country is only to be experienced now. All is flowery and verdurous; the nightingale has not yet quitted England; the cuckoo may yet be heard; and the music of the lark, the blackbird, and the thrush, which at a later period, will be hushed, is still ringing from the woods and fields. Spring is scarcely gone; the tender youth of the summer is, in fact, but spring in its prime.
It is almost cruel to undeceive the fashionable world by stating these facts, as its members have all fled away from their rural homes to spend the winter in town, and doubtless imagine that the country is, and will continue to be, most naked, desolate, and dismal, till the breaking up of the season in July or August, when they will issue forth to enjoy their spring amid corn-sheaves and partridge-shooting. It is still more cruel to speak of the real delightfulness of the country to those who fain would, but cannot, get out of town, but are compelled to breathe the hot air of office, warehouse, or parliament, and the only alternative that we can offer them is to seat themselves in a quiet corner at their leisure moments with such a volume as Mr. Miller's, and fancy that they are on a grassy bank, with a blossomed hawthorn above their heads.
It is a satisfaction to us to be able to speak of Mr. Miller's present volume in the manner which we now do. We had occasion to express our dissatisfaction with the execution of a former work from his hands; but we have read his 'Rural Sketches' with the sincerest gratification. They are marked by a very striking improvement of style; and, what is still more important, by a fresh and healthy spirit. Mr. Miller has here thrown himself, as we wish to see him, boldly upon his own resources; we do not mean merely of book-knowledge, though there is no deficiency in that respect, but of that knowledge which belongs peculiarly to a work of this kind-knowledge of the country and of its concerns. He says in his preface:– My table is spread with the humblest 'fare; my viands served up in beechen bowl and pewter platter. Therefore, those who can only dine from off vessels of silver and