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second or the tenth repetition. When a child is stung by a bee or a wasp for the first time in his life, if he perceives the insect at the point where the pain is felt, he has just as strong an impression that it was the cause of his pain, as he ever acquires afterwards, though he may be stung a hundred times. It is certainly incorrect to say, that we never gain the idea of causation but by many uniform instances; for it is an idea very easily suggested to the mind. Repeated instances assist us to form a more correct judgment in any particular case; but the idea of the causes of our sensations is very nearly synchronous, if not quite so, with the sensations themselves, and is as clear and strong in the mind of a child as it ever becomes in future life. The philosophy of Hume would go to prove that children, whose impressions are all new, of every kind, and of which there must be, in every case, a first, could in no case have any idea whatever of causes and effects till they had experienced many impressions, for only then,' he says, 'do we begin to entertain the notion of cause and connexion.' On the other hand, the tendency of the human mind is to too sudden and too implicit a conclusion of such cause and connexion, before repeated instances have furnished grounds for judging correctly in all cases. The first exercises of thought in children show that their errors do not arise from their disconnecting effects from causes, or from the total absence of all notion of causation from their minds, when phenomena are contiguous in time and place, but in the too hasty and prompt application of that idea to mere juxta-position, and the too great proneness to infer causation on first impressions without waiting for experience. The first taste of anything bitter or sweet as certainly suggests to the child, that the thing put into his mouth was the cause of his pleasant or unpleasant sensation, as any number of repetitions can do. His ejection of the thing that caused the sensation of bitterness, and his reluctance ever again to admit the same thing to his mouth, and, on the other hand, his eagerness after the same object as produced the sensation of sweetness the first time, would be sufficient to convince any one, that the idea of causation is suggested on first impressions, whether correctly or incorrectly is not of the slightest moment, for every thing depends upon the question whether we gain the idea intuitively or according to Mr. Hume's doctrine, by the law of association. To us it appears, that if the idea in question does not come with the first impression, it cannot be produced by any repetitions of similar impressions; for there can be nothing in the second more than there was in the first, nor in the third more than there was in the second, to suggest any additional idea which could find previously no copy in the mind. Mr. Hume's theory seems to
omit or overlook the fact of our necessary, implicit, belief in the information conveyed by our senses. Our intuitive confidence in the truth of these sensations is the basis of that reasoning upon them, which, from observed contiguity in time and place, leads us to refer internal sensations to their external causes. Both this intuitive belief in the truth of one sensation, and the inferences, as to causation, to which our reasoning propensity leads us, are ultimate laws of our constitution, which no philosophy can ever set aside or alter, though it may assist in regu. lating and correcting the conclusions which are formed in particular instances. The idea of causation seems to be the immediate and natural result of that reasoning which follows upon the observed connexion between an external object and an internal impression, which the very first instance or experience of their conjunction suggests to the mind. The reasoning into which the mind enters upon any specific case, is the application of the axiom arising from the very laws of our mental nature, that every phenomenon must have a cause, and that every observed change is produced by something. That something in each case the mind intuitively finds, or believes itself to find, in that object which it perceives to be contiguous to the effect; and hence its inference or conception which makes out the whole doctrine of causation, that similar antecedents under similar circumstances will always be followed by like consequences. This idea of causation does certainly not require repeated instances to give it birth, though it may require them to correct and establish confidence in it.
Mr. Hume's antipathy to received opinions upon all fundamental subjects, and his determination to invalidate them, seem to have seduced him into those sweeping generalizations, by which he thought to make short work both with natural and revealed religion. Thus, in his 'Dialogues on natural religion,' he constructs an argument which he believed would for ever preclude all attempts to demonstrate the existence of a Deity, because, if valid, it would reach the high point of showing, that the being of a God was a thing impossible to be proved. In like manner, in reference to revealed religion, he had, as he believed, proved, in another part of his writings, that its chief evidence resulting from miracles, under which term he endeavours to bring prophecy, would be entirely subverted by that ingenious argument which he had constructed to show, that miracles never could, by any amount of testimony, become credible. He imagined, moreover, that he had effectually closed the door against the à posteriori argument for the being of a God, because nothing could be inferred of necessary connection between cause and effect; and farther, because the
exclusion of invisible power from our notion of causes, seemed to exclude any inference from natural effects and causes to the existence of any supreme being sustaining the whole. Moreover, the entire tendency of his ethical theory went to depreciate the virtues, and elevate the vices, by bringing both to a much nearer equality than any other moral philosopher. It has been confessed, even by favourable and partial commentators, that he has unquestionably been much too lenient and palliative towards many vices which he is constrained to acknowledge are hostile to social happiness, and ill assorted with his favourite theory of general utility. The same tendency to reduce all mankind to a common level is observable in his great historical work. cold and unimpassioned towards all the inspirations of patriotism, liberty, and heroism; labours hard to sully their glory; and is equally artful and assiduous to extenuate the worst of characters, and whitewash their crimes, that he may sustain his favourite theory of moral equality.
Upon his vaunted argument against the proof of an intelligent first cause, which has so greatly tended to sustain atheism in speculative minds, and which has been so generally acquiesced in by philosophers, we shall present a passage from a work which was some months ago introduced to our readers.
In part IX. of his dialogues concerning natural religion, he says, I shall begin with observing, that there is an evident absurdity in pretending to demonstrate a matter of fact, or to prove it by any arguments à priori. Nothing is demonstrable, unless the contrary implies a contradiction. Whatever we conceive as existent, we can also conceive as non-existent. There is nothing, therefore, whose non-existence implies a contradiction. Consequently, there is no being whose existence is demonstrable. I propose this argument as entirely decisive, and am willing to rest the whole controversy upon it.'
'It may be remarked, that since Mr. Hume rests the whole controversy upon that argument, our atheists may be thoroughly assured, that if it turn out to be the very reverse of clear and satisfactory, his cause is a mighty bad one. There is,' says Mr. Hume, 'an evident absurdity in pretending to demonstrate a matter of fact, or to prove it by any arguments à priori.' Because Mr. Hume has said so, many take the existence of the absurdity for granted, who, perhaps, have never seriously weighed the evidence of its reality. The sceptical argument against any à priori argument for any matter of fact, is happily very easily answered. And for the reason already brought out, if it can but be shown, that it is weak and most unsatisfactory, we have his authority for the good sense there is in pretending to demonstrate at least one matter of fact.
'He opens his argument in the following manner.-'Nothing
is demonstrable, unless the contrary implies a contradiction. Nothing that is distinctly conceivable implies a contradiction.' Both these propositions are granted, to the fullest extent. that which follows,- Whatever we conceive as existent, we can also conceive as non-existent,' is most completely to be denied. 'I demand of any one to remove any part of pure space from another, with which it is connected, even so much as in thought. I would fain meet with that thinking man, that can, in his thought, set any bounds to space, more than he can to duration; or, by thinking, hope to arrive at the end of either.'-Locke. 'As the order of the parts of time is immutable, so also is the order of the parts of space. To remove these from their places, were (as I may say) to remove them from themselves.'-Newton's Princip. He that can suppose eternity and immensity removed out of the universe, may, if he pleases, as easily remove the relation of equality between twice two and four.'-Dr. S. Clarke. (Similar extracts are given from Butler's 'Analogy,' Dr. I. Watts. President Edwards, Dr. Reid, and Dugald Stewart. The author then proceeds) 'Now here we have, just by way of specimen, eight individuals of the utmost veracity and intelligence, asserting, in express terms, or in terms from which the inference is necessary, that they cannot conceive the non-existence of space. To add any thing to the foregoing authorities were perhaps superfluous. They are clear and satisfactory. Mr. Hume, therefore, is entirely wrong in appealing to our mental constitution, when he says, 'Whatever we conceive as existent, we can also conceive as non-existent.' We cannot conceive space as non-existent. His proposition, therefore, must undergo this modification, at least,-whatever, with the exception of space, we conceive to exist, we can also conceive not to exist. The conclusion from his argument,' consequently, there is no being whose existence is demonstrable,'-must, therefore, be limited to this extent, if no farther, consequently there is no being, except space, or, if space be not a being, the being which it necessarily supposes, whose existence is demonstrable. Now, as that exhibition of the à priori argument for the being of a Deity, which we are concerned to defend, lays hold on space as its foundation or groundwork; if infinite space be a property, or mode of existence, as theologians express themselves, of a supreme mind, then, unless we cannot ascend from the property to the substance invested with it, the being of a supreme mind is a thing demonstrable, is a necessary truth, our atheist himself being judge. What has now become of Mr. Hume's argument against any à priori argument for any matter of fact? It has turned out to be, indeed, the farthest thing possible from being clear and satisfactory." '*
• Gillespie's Necessary Existence of God.
We shall now advert briefly to the celebrated argument against the belief of miracles. This is one of the most remarkable instances in all his works, of his propensity to form those sweeping generalizations to which we have before alluded, and which, in so many instances, notwithstanding his preeminent subtlety, have been shown to be rash, and deficient in philosophical precision and comprehensiveness. His argument sets out with an attempt, most obviously dishonest, to show that it is sanctioned by the authority of the eminent Archbishop Tillotson, who, in his reasoning against the doctrine of transubstantiation, insists, that the evidence of our senses can never be destroyed by the evidence of testimony. But Hume failed to point out, that the conflicting proofs must, according to Dr. Tillotson's argument, both relate to the same matter of fact,-that is to say, in a given case, if the evidence of our senses be on one side, and testimony be offered against that evidence, we must conclude that the evidence of our senses is stronger than the evidence of testimony. But the argument of Mr. Hume against the belief of miracles, is in no respect parallel to this. That argument may be described in substance as follows: that a miracle being contrary to the usual course of nature, and opposed to universal experience, no testimony whatever can make it credible. But it is to be observed, that in the case of any specific miracle for which testimony is offered, it is pre-supposed that there is no evidence whatever before our senses on that particular fact, and no counter testimony to invalidate that which is supposed to be in its favour. The argument constructed upon general experience no doubt grew out of Mr. Hume's doctrine of causation, and his deep-rooted notion of eternal necessity, which admitted of no voluntary exercise of power, and seemed to preclude all idea of novel causes and unique effects. On the other hand, it seems to have struck him, that the possible falseness of human testimony supplied a good background to throw into full light the argument, that the course of nature is necessary and invariable. The conclusion appeared tempting, that a miracle which is supposed to be an interruption of this necessary law of cause and effect, is the introduction of an entirely new cause, and can therefore never take place. Hence the man who was so averse to à priori reasonings, becomes himself their patron, by adopting an argument, à priori, against the possibility of proving a miracle.
The worst part, however, of his essay upon this subject, is the half-apologizing, half-sneering manner in which he alludes to the bearing of his argument upon Christianity. It is hard to conceive that he could persuade himself into the belief, that the hypocrisy of the following sentences would not be transparent: