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(d) It is a covert, and unmanly attack on a man himself. He lives in his book; and his name, and reputation, and usefulness are identified with it. He lives to do good only as his book shall live to do good. It is a part of himself; and to blast that is to blast himself. There has been, indeed, in these strange times an attempt made to separate an author from his book, and to consign the book to infamy, and to leave the man professedly unscathed. This attempt has been made, probably, because a man cannot be attacked and reproached without exciting strong feelings of public reprobation and abhorrence. But a book is speechless. It is supposed to have no feeling ; no sensibility to wound; and it is presumed, therefore, that the public will tolerate such an attack though it may be really a Aagrant violation of public justice, and private rights, while it would not bear that the author himself should be held up to infamy, and scorn. Grave and solemn ecclesiastical bodies, therefore, with much pomp and form pronounce sentences of infamy on books and doctrines; sentences unaccompanied with argument; unsustained by appeals to the Bible ; unattended by any effort to give answer to the arguments in the book ; or to unfold the reasons why the decision is thundered forth from the seat of power. And if there should be in an ecclesiastical body a strong resistance to this, and a plea entered that it is virtually attacking the man, and is unworthy of christian freemen, the loud voice of complaint is heard from the disaffected; and the whole church is agitated with the heavings of revolution to regain the power of arresting a doctrine by ecclesiastical decision, and denunciation. On this subject we cannot better express our feelings than in the language of Milton — language that is worthy of the theme, and that well expresses the indignation of the immortal mind when under the highest consciousness of freedom at the attempt made to fetter its powers.
As good almost kill a man as kill a good book: who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God's image ; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the earth ; but a good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, imbalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life. It is true, no age can restore a life, whereof perhaps there is no great loss; and revolutions of ages do not oft recover the loss of a rejected truth, for the want of which whole nations fare the worse. We should be wary therefore what persecution we raise against the living labors of public men, how we
spill that seasoned life of man, preserved and stored up in books; since we see a kind of homicide may be thus committed, sometimes a martyrdom; and if it extend to the whole impression, a kind of massacre, whereof the execution ends not in the slaying of an elemental life, but strikes at the æthereal and fifth essence, the breath of reason itself; slays an immortality rather than a life.
(e) We add that this attempt to repress the right of discussion by the condemnation of books is as ineffectual as it is unworthy the age. Every author is under obligation to ecclesiastical tribunals, whatever may be their motives, for the condemnation of his books. They who thus attempt to stay the progress of sentiments deemed erroneous have mistaken human nature, and the spirit of these times. We know there is a class of minds on whom such a decision will have the same power as the thunders of the Vatican once had on the benighted and trembling nations of Europe. But this number is rapidly diminishing; and these very decisions will aid to diminish it further still. The blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church; and the prohibitory sentences of ecclesiastical tribunals will in this age be one of the direct means of extending the sentiments which they would destroy. “I have seen,” says Jeremy Taylor, “ that the price hath been doubled upon a forbidden or a condemned book ; and some men in policy have got a prohibition, that their impression might be more certainly vendible, and the author himself thought considerable."* 5 And he who were pleasantly disposed,” says Milton, “ could not well avoid to liken it to the exploit of that gallant man, who thought to pound up the crows by shutting the park gate.”+ “Books," he adds,“ (till the custom of licensing arose) were ever as freely admitted into the world as any other birth; the issue of the brain was no more to be stifled than the issue of the womb; no envious Juno sat cross-legged over the nativity of any man's intellectual offspring. But that a book, in worse condition than a peccant soul should be to stand before a jury ere it be born into the world, and undergo yet in darkness the judgment of Rhadamanth and his colleagues, ere it can pass the ferry backward into light, was never heard of before, till that mysterious iniquity, provoked and troubled at the first entrance of Reformation, sought out new limboes and new hells wherein they might include our books also within the number of their condemned." I
# P. 300.
† P. 36.
| P, 28, 29,
This is the attempt which has been revived in these times; and the authors of the plan seem in their zeal to have forgotten one great lesson of history, that a book recommended by an ecclesiastical body as sound, and orthodox, and in accordance with the standards of the church, may repose in dignity and in dust on the shelf of the publishers; while the condemned volume shall be diffusing its sentiments as on the wings of the wind.
We have thus, in accordance with the precepts which we advocate, given a free expression of our opinions. Regarding as we do the right of free discussion as the foundation of all other rights in this land, and as vitally connected with them all, we deem it the duty of every man to lift up his voice, however feeble it may be, in defence of these great principles of republican liberty and of the Protestant religion. We know no liberty which is not based on these principles; we have no rights to defend which are not connected with this great fundamental right. And believing this, we know of no subject on which there should be felt a deeper solicitude, or on which there should be exhibited a more jealous vigilance. We know of no arm which should not be nerved; of no blood which should not, if need be, be poured out like water in defence of this right. We know of no enemy that is so dangerous to all our institutions as this sly, insinuating, and most subtle foe that begins the work of destroying liberty everywhere by calling in question this right, and by pleading that there may be some subjects which may be regarded as too sacred to be subjected to investigation. Every man, therefore, who can contribute in the least degree to the proper illustration and defence of this right is conferring an invaluable service on his country, on human nature, on the world. When his name shall have been forgotten, the principles which his feeble powers shall have contributed to defend shall live in the augmenting happiness of mankind; in the elevation of the human powers to their highest dignity; in the liberal arts, the sciences, the literature of future ages; in all the departments of the State, and in the universal glory of the church of Christ on earth. And while we render thanks to heaven that he has inclined such men as Milton, and Taylor, and Hall to stand forth in defence of this right; while we record with deep gratitude to God the fact that he has inspired the noble army of martyrs to be willing to seal their convictions of this right with their death ; be it ours in this age to defend this right, and to transmit it unimpair
ed to future times. By all the power of argument it is to be defended; by all the tenderness of persuasion; by all the firmness of christian principle and lofty patriotism ; by every man who loves his country, or the church; by the pen, the press; in the pulpit ; in the legislative hall; by the fire-side, in the seminary of learning, and, if need be, by the best blood that flows in the veins of the descendants of the Pilgrims.
ON THE ARGUMENT A PRIORI FOR THE BEING AND ATTRI
BUTES OF GOD.
By Joseph Alden, Professor of Rhet. and Polit. Economy, Williams College. Writers in periodical publications are often usefully employed in calling attention to new works of value, - perhaps they may sometimes, at least, be as usefully employed in calling attention to works of other days which, though of sterling merit, may from various causes have fallen into comparative neglect.
The Demonstration of Samuel Clarke, once so popular and influential, is now rarely read, even by those somewhat addicted to abstruse speculations. Nevertheless he is one of the acutest reasoners England has produced, and the subject of his speculations at least is of the highest interest.
The evidences of natural and revealed religion ought to be thoroughly understood by Christians, and especially christian ministers of the present time. The legitimate modes of reasoning to be employed in substantiating and defendiņg the great principles which lie at the foundation of our happiness and hopes ought to be familiarly known. Infidelity exists in the midst of us, perhaps to a greater extent than many are aware, it is organized and active; the watchmen of Zion should therefore be prepared to anticipate and repel every attack that can be made.
Our design in the present Article is to present an outline of Dr. Clarke's celebrated Demonstration of the Existence and Attributes of God, accompanied with some remarks tending to
show in what estimation the mode of reasoning he has employed ought to be held. In regard to this we know that on the minds of some there rests a mistiness and uncertainty from which it were well they were delivered.
In Dr. Clarke's opinion, the Being and Attributes are capable of complete demonstration a priori.
“ The argument a posteriori,” he remarks, “is indeed by far the most generally useful, most easy to be understood, and, in some degree suited to all capacities; and therefore it ought always to be insisted on. But inasmuch as atheistical writers, have sometimes opposed the being and attributes of God by such metaphysical reasonings as can no otherwise be obviated than by arguing a priori, therefore this manner of arguing also is useful and necessary in its proper place."
“The proof a priori (of the being and attributes of God) is, I fully believe, strictly demonstrative; but (like numberless mathematical demonstrations) capable of being understood only by a few attentive minds; because it is of use only against learned and metaphysical difficulties.” To this mode of argumentation he therefore addresses himself with great confidence, zeal and honesty.
His first proposition is that something has existed from all eternity; otherwise the things that now are must have been produced out of nothing, and without cause.
The second proposition is that “ there has existed from eternity some one (at least) unchangeable and independent Being." In regard to this the author thinks but two suppositions can be made — either the proposition as stated is true, or else there has been an infinite succession of changeable and dependent beings produced one from another in an endless progression, without any original cause at all. Of this latter supposition he shows the absurdity, and hence concludes that the former is true.
His third proposition is —" that unchangeable and independent Being which has existed from eternity without any external cause of its existence, must be self-existent that is, necessarily existent.” In support of this proposition two modes of proof are employed. The first is as follows. This Being which has existed from eternity must have come into being out of nothing without cause, or must have been produced by some external cause, or must be self-existent. The first and second suppositions are shown to be absurd, hence the third (that this