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Spiritual Beliefs.


of the mind itself, he so merged the ruling authority, and exalted the mere force of individual "organs," that the criminal was considered a mere passive agent in their hands; and it is therefore quite natural that outside, as it were, the limits of the mind, he should have great difficulty in admitting the ordinary operation of a power to restore, strengthen, and direct the will. The same tendencies of opinion are apparent in every one of the numerous points in which Mr. Combe's subject leads him to the borders or beyond the borders of religious truth. When, for example, Mr. Combe tells us that the sermons of the last century were generally "equal, if not superior, in sense and suitableness to human nature, to those delivered yesterday"-when he looks forward to the time when "Divines shall introduce the natural laws into their discourses, and teach the people the works and institutions of the Creator"-when speaking still more positively he refers to the ignorance which has so long "represented Christianity as a system of spiritual influences, of internal operations on the soul, and of repentant preparation for another life; rather than an exposition of pure and lofty principles addressed to responding faculties in human nature itself, and, therefore, capable of being applied in this world"--and again, when he speaks of religious discourses often "partaking in consequence of the abstractedness of the scholastic philosophy"-we see the same habit of misplacing or exaggerating a few subordinate truths, at the expense of others far more important, either forgotten or denied. If it be simply meant that every fact discovered by science, and every law traced in nature, are to be viewed in a religious light, and referred directly to the will of God, we accept the principle with cordial assent. But if it be meant, as it too plainly is, that these can be made in themselves the objects of a religious faith, more capable either of influencing human motive, or satisfying the human spirit, than that system of spiritual beliefs which Mr. Combe seems to think so erroneous a representation of Christianity-we can only wonder at the credulity which hopes so much from the force of logic, and at the blindness which fears so little the effect of passion, and has observed so little of the power of faith. The moral essays, for example, of the last century, whatever Mr. Combe may think of their superior "sense and suitability to human nature," had, as a fact, infinitely less practical effect on character than the more spiritual discourses of the present time. No law, among material things, has its existence more thoroughly ascertained, or its effects more frequently observed than that which constitutes our belief in spiritual things, by far the most powerful spring of human action: and where those things have not been revealed, there they have been imagined. But without any belief in a class of truths which reason may con

firm, but cannot of itself discover, no race of human beings has yet been found existing; nor is any influence on life and conduct so subtle and pervading. It is a principle of mental science, which even Mr. Combe's philosophy admits, that every faculty and desire "stands in a definite relation to some external object."*

So we presume that answering to this universal sentiment of belief in things unseen and spiritual, there are spiritual realities, to which reason cannot of itself attain, but which all men have yet an intense desire to know. If we grant, then, as Mr. Combe never disputes, that the Christian revelation of those realities is a true one, it follows that the teaching of them must be the only effective basis of that corresponding moral code, whose surpassing excellence he frequently admits; and it is an inversion of the order of nature, and of the observed law of sequence, to suppose that the abstract principles of morality can ever in themselves be made to occupy the place or exercise the influence of a religious faith in these realities. Still more unphilosophical and at variance with all experience, is it to suppose that this place and rank can ever be assumed by the knowledge acquired in the investigation of the natural laws. From these we can, indeed, infer by reasoning some general ideas of the Creator-of his "eternal power and Godhead," of His goodness, and of His justice. But such general conclusions are in themselves too abstract, and fall too far short of satisfying the affections, to exert any permanent influence on the human spirit, or become the object of a vital personal belief. Very different, however, is the value of the natural laws, when they are regarded as the works of a Creator, whose revealed character and government has been previously believed and known. Then, indeed, will the light which they are capable of yielding in their endless variety yet close connexion-in their types and analogies-be enjoyed and understood. Recognition is easy where original discovery would have been impossible. There is no science which supersedes the question which David asked-"Who by searching can find out God?" although every one of them may add new meaning and illustration to the character He has revealed. When, therefore, Mr. Combe objects to the spiritual doctrines of the Christian Faith, as parts of religion which have exclusive reference to a future life, and when he points to the investigation of the natural laws, physical and moral, as the true basis of a practical religion, he is exhibiting almost incredible blindness to a fundamental principle in the "Constitution of Man." We do not now condemn this teaching on any higher ground than one purely philosophical, having for

*Mr. Combe says "almost" every faculty stands, &c. He surely cannot mean that any of the highest faculties of all are an exception to this law.

Mr. Combe and Spiritual Christianity.

its basis the observed phenomena of mind, as exhibited in every age and country. But we are bound to say in passing, that the language of Mr. Combe, in pushing back, as it were, the more spiritual doctrines of Christianity, from the foreground of its teaching, as having remote effect on the practical affairs of this life, requires such dealing with frequent and emphatic declarations of Scripture, as cannot be fairly called a mere various interpretation. And if this be so, he cannot be surprised, that his book is often connected with opinions which carry this postponement of the spiritual beliefs of the Christian Faith, much farther than possibly he himself may be disposed to do. The disposition he evinces, as we have seen, not merely to postpone, but to explain away such of them as cannot be easily reduced under his phrenological formulas of the spontaneous action of individual "organs," is the very spirit which rouses against the natural sciences, those jealousies which are, indeed, most irrational as directed against any class of truths, but which are too often thoroughly justified as against the fanaticism and presumption of those who can see nothing beyond the narrow bounds of some favourite pursuit.


Mr. Combe's enthusiasm in the cause of phrenology, and the simplicity of his belief in the unbounded blessings it may yet confer upon the world, is only displeasing where it crosses into sacred ground, and occupies a territory which belongs to truths much higher than any on which his theories are built. Very often we can follow with some instruction, and still more often with real pleasure and amusement, the footsteps of a mind possessed by many useful and practical ideas, and whose benevolence is conspicuous even in its widest deviations. Who would not wish to be initiated into the happy brotherhood of which Mr. Combe gives us the following picture :

"A party of thoroughly practical phrenologists meet in the perfect knowledge of each other's qualities: they respect these as the gift of the Creator; and their great object is to derive the utmost pleasure from their legitimate use, and to avoid every approximation to abuse of them. The distinctions of country and education are broken down by unity of principle: the chilling restraints of cautiousness, selfesteem, secretiveness, and love of approbation, which stand as barriers of eternal ice between human beings in the ordinary intercourse of society, are gently removed; the directing sway is committed to benevolence, veneration, conscientiousness, and intellect; and, then, the higher principles of the mind operate with a delightful vivacity unknown to persons unacquainted with the qualities of human nature!"

Who would not be a thoroughly practical phrenologist? But, by the way it occurs to us to ask Mr. Combe who it is, or what it is, that "commits the directing sway" as above described? Is it a faculty of will? If it be, how is this itself directed?



We have left ourselves little space to refer, in any detail, to those portions of the "Constitution of Man," in which we can follow the writer with positive assent. It is the less needful, however, to do so, as the truths which Mr. Combe enforces, are such as are generally admitted, but yet do not the less require to be frequently and emphatically repeated. The plan of the work is simple-being an exposition of the relation in which we stand to the natural laws, which fall under the great leading divisions of physical, organic, and moral. The principle that these have all a separate and independent operation, so that obedience to the one class of laws will not obviate the punishment, or evil consequences involved in the violation of another classis announced as "the key to the true theory of the divine government of the world," and as having not been hitherto duly appreciated. The farther principle that all these natural laws are expressions of the Creator's will, and, therefore, to be investigated and obeyed as such, is one frequently enforced, as it cannot be enforced too much. All the leading and best ideas in the chapters treating of the moral laws, as, indeed, of the other natural laws also, are derived from the noble work of Bishop Butler-that great pioneer in a path of investigation which will never cease to afford interest and instruction to the highest faculties of man. The obligation is most fully and honourably acknowledged. In the sections devoted to the organic laws, a subject which has been handled with such eminent utility by the author's brother, the late Dr. Andrew Combe, there is much curious and 'interesting information. Here, however, as elsewhere, the relative value of individual truths is sometimes so much forgotten that the result arrived at is most erroneous. For example, on the important subject of the laws of health which regulate the transmission of a sound bodily and mental constitution to our children—no one will dispute that these, so far as they can be ascertained, ought to be borne in mind, and ought to influence our conduct in determining the circumstances of the marriage union. But the mere physiologist forgets that there are other considerations to be kept in view than the improvement of the race considered as a breed. And even in this narrow, though important point of view, nothing can be more unguarded than to lay down as Mr. Combe does, by quotation and adoption from an American writer, that all"persons in any way constitutionally enfeebled-persons predisposed to scrofula, pulmonary consumption, gout, or epilepsy, should conscientiously abstain from matrimony." A very large proportion of the population of the civilized world have some predisposition more or less distant, more or less decided, to some one or other of such diseases. Without adverting to other

Evils of our Social System.


laws which may determine the path of duty in an opposite direction to that laid down here, it is enough to observe that the highest benefits to mankind may be, and have been derived through the agency of persons labouring under constitutional taints of every variety and kind. Nay, it is a matter of familiar observation that the highest gifts of genius, the noblest dispositions, and the utmost holiness and purity of spirit, are constantly associated with physical frames hasting to premature decay. Among the number of poets and philosophers who have delighted and instructed the world, how many names occur to us of men whose bodily infirmities were as remarkable as their mental gifts! And in the circle of our own private acquaintance, how many are there under similar circumstances whose character has been eminently fine and their influence eminently beneficial?

In the section devoted to calamities arising from infringement of the moral law, considered in reference to the welfare of individuals and the general progress of society, Mr. Combe makes many interesting observations, and lays down many wholesome principles. Of the many great evils of our existing social system, as the result of a too exclusive pursuit of material wealth of the want of all leisure for moral and intellectual improvement left to thousands of the manufacturing operative class-and of the punishment by which the natural laws of God will in the end vindicate their own authority-there are strong and useful representations. Nor can we withhold the expression of our sympathy and assent from many of the views expressed as to the direction which our efforts should take for the counteraction of these evils. The time saved by the rapid progress of mechanical invention, involving as it does, some temporary evils, is justly regarded by the author as a fund out of which increased opportunities for the mental cultivation of the working-classes may, if duly improved, be reconciled with the rapidly increasing wants of society. And as regards the part which may be taken by legislation towards the attainment of these great ends, Mr. Combe, we think, takes his stand on the true principle when he says, "that the Legislature may considerably accelerate improvements by adding the constraining authority of human laws to enactments already proclaimed by the Creator." This, at least, is one form of expressing the true answer to the extreme economists, who deny that law ought ever to interfere in any case with the province of industry, and who consider such evils as the absolute neglect of a whole generation of the young, and the total abandonment of them to the debasing effect of excessive and unremitting toil, as nothing compared with the slightest check on the accumulations of the warehouse. It is very true that there are natural laws in operation which will tend to counteract all evils-but that

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