Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

too far.

[ocr errors]

It may

Proposition seventh asserts the unity of the self-existent Being. The proof adduced in support of it is so similar to that employed in support of the preceding proposition, being founded, and depending on the same principles, that we deem it unnecessary to dwell upon it. It stands or falls with the preceding proposition. We think then he has failed to prove a priori the unity of God; and further we do not believe it can be proved a posteriori. From the works of nature we can infer unity of design, but whether on the part of one or more beings we know not, and from our unassisted reasonings cannot know. From the Bible alone can we learn the strict unity of God.

Writers on natural theology have been too desirous to prove all the attributes of God from the light of nature, without having recourse to Revelation, and hence have oftentimes been led to employ unsound arguments, or to extend legitimate arguments

If reason and nature could teach us all we want to learn respecting the character of God, revelation would be unnecessary, and by a wise being would never have been given.

be well to attempt to see how far unassisted reason can go, but not to attempt to go all lengths without the aid of revelation.

The eighth proposition is, “the self-existent, and original cause of all things must be an intelligent Being.” This proposition, he is constrained to admit, cannot be proved a priori, and he supports it elaborately and well a posteriori. Were the preceding reasonings a priori sound, they would be of little avail, for as Dr. Clarke remarks “in this proposition lies the main question between us and the atheists." As his argument is here confessedly a posteriori, it does not fall within the limits of our design to dwell upon it.

Proposition ninth asserts that the self-existent Being is not a necessary agent but endued with liberty and choice. This he thinks follows as a consequence of the truth of the last proposition, but we do not see that it does ; but if it does, it is at best an inference from an a posteriori conclusion. Proposition tenth.

“ The self-existent Being, the supreme cause of all things, must of necessity have infinite power." The proof is as follows: “Since nothing (as has been already proved) can possibly be self-existent besides himself; and consequently all things in the universe were made by him, and are entirely dependent upon him; and all the powers of all things are derived from him, and must therefore be perfectly subject and subordinate to him ; 'tis manifest that nothing can make

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

any difficulty or resistance to the execution of his will, but he must of necessity have absolute power to do every thing he pleases, with the perfectest ease, and in the perfectest manner, at once and in a moment whenever he wills it." The

argument is sound but strictly a posteriori.

Under this head are found some excellent remarks on the meaning of the phrase, infinite power, and specifications of particulars to which it applies. Indeed under this single proposition there is more of sound and able reasoning (on subordinate topics) than we often meet with in a dozen volumes of modern authorship, even when they profess to touch on the high subjects of " free will,” “necessity” and “divine prescience.”

Proposition eleventh affirms the infinite wisdom of God. Since he is omnipresent and intelligent he must know all things, and as all things are derived from and depend on him, he must know the powers of all things; hence he must know what is best in all possible cases to be done, and as he has infinite power he cannot be hindered from doing what is absolutely fittest to be done; it follows therefore that he must be “in the highest sense infinitely wise, and that the world, and all things therein, must be and are effects of infinite wisdom.”

This,” says our author, “is demonstration a priori.”

But we must recollect that the omnipresence of God has not been proved at all by Dr. Clarke, and that the intelligence and infinite power were proved a posteriori; from these the wisdom of God is evolved. To term the argument an a priori one, is surely speaking very loosely to say the least.

Dr. Clarke remarks that the argument from the works of God is no less strong and is continually increasing as wider observations and fresh discoveries are made in the domain of nature.

We now come to the twelfth and last proposition. supreme cause and author of all things must of necessity be a Being of infinite goodness, justice and truth, and all other moral perfections, such as become the supreme governor and judge of the world." The substance of his proof is as follows. There are certain necessary relations and fitnesses of things, which are the foundation of morality; these are perceived by all intelligent beings unless their understandings are very imperfect or very much depraved; and are acted upon by all intelligent beings uniess their wills be corrupted. God is infinitely wise and must perceive these relations, and must act in accordance with

66 The

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

them unless his will is depraved; but as he is independent he can want nothing, and hence his will cannot “ be influenced by any wrong affection,” he must therefore do what is fittest to be done, i. e. “ act always according to the strictest rules of infinite goodness, justice and truth and all other moral perfections.

On this we remark: granting that such relations exist, the self-existent being acts in accordance with them provided his will is not corrupted, i. e. provided he is possessed of the very moral perfection which it is the object of this reasoning to prove. The very thing to be proved is assumed — for the fact that he is independent does not prove " 'tis impossible his will should be influenced by any wrong affection.”

“To this argumentation a priori,” says Dr. Clarke, “there can be opposed but one objection," - that drawn from the unequal distributions of Providence in the world: but to this he replies we must not judge from a partial view of God's dispensations, we must take the past and the future as well as the present into the account. “ Then every thing will appear just and right."

We have no doubt as to the fact. But there is in his reasoning an error that by no means is uncommon among theologians. In attempting to prove the justice of God froin the light of nature, they say that the apparent instances of injustice here will be corrected in a future world. Doubtless we are authorized to draw this conclusion with the Bible in our hands, but not from the facts the world presents. Assume the justice of God, and the inference holds, but the justice of God is the point to be proved. The inference in fact is no more logical, than if because a man has acted dishonestly in this country where we have the means of observation, we were to infer he will act honestly in another country where we have not the means of observation. Thus, by some the justice of God is assumed to prove a future state, and then that future state with facts adapted to the exigencies of the case is used to prove the justice of God. The fact is we cannot get along so well without our Bibles, as we are sometimes, in the pride of our reason, led to suppose.

It has been no part of our present design to inquire whether the moral attributes are demonstrable from the works of nature. We have simply attempted to give an outline and examination of Dr. Clarke's a priori reasoning, that our readers may ve able to judge of its value. We think they will, with us, come to the

[ocr errors]

conclusion that it is on reasonings a posteriori we must rely to support the great truths that lie at the foundation of natural and revealed religion.

The reader who has not studied the Demonstration, should not form an unfavorable opinion of Dr. Clarke's powers as a reasoner from the specimens presented in the foregoing pages. Clarke fails only when he attempts what no man can accomplish. There is much of profound and conclusive reasoning in the work that we have not noticed. We commend it to the attention of those who would form the habit of close thinking and reasoning.

At a future time we may perhaps inquire how far our a posteriori reasonings can conduct in the knowledge of the character of the High and Holy One who inhabiteth eternity.

ARTICLE IX.

Ruins OF ANCIENT PETRA.

Tour through Arabia Petraea to Mount Sinai and the excavated city

of Petra. By M. Léon de Laborde. London: John Murray, 1836, pp. 356.

By the Editor.

In the third volume of this publication, several articles were inserted on the geography, topography, and history of Edom or Idumaea, accompanied with copious extracts from the journals of Burckhardt, Legh, and other travellers. Since those articles were written, the travels of M. Léon de Laborde and M. Linant, French travellers, have appeared. They succeeded in reaching the celebrated ruins of Petra, the Sela of the Hebrews. Their accounts of these ruins are more full than those of all the preceding travellers combined. Laborde is the son of the count Alexander de Laborde, member of the French Institute, and well known for his valuable works on Spain, Austria, etc. M. Léon de Laborde has distinguished himself equally as a traveller, an antiquarian, and an artist. The journal of his travels into Arabia was published at Paris, in 1830, in livraisons. It is

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

said to be very elegantly executed. It is accompanied with about seventy illustrations, the greater part of them lithographed. The cost of an imported copy is eighty dollars. M. Linant, who had previously travelled in Upper Egypt, happened to meet M. Laborde at Cairo, as the latter was on the point of commencing his journey into Arabia. They soon agreed to make the tour together. We regret that we have not access to the French original, only one copy of which, as far as we know, is to be found in the country. The English Translation, though made with the most excellent intentions, is confused in its arrangement, and does not profess to be so much an exact transcript of the original, as a selection from Laborde, and a compilation from other sources. We are sorry that the translator did not feel bound conscientiously to keep all his own additions distinct from the text of his author. We have no objection to additions and illustrations, but surely they ought not to have been confounded with the more valuable materials of Laborde. We have endeavored in our extracts to separate the original from the interpolations.

Before proceeding to adduce any quotations from the volume before us, we shall present a few facts in respect to the natural situation and history of Edom, and of its capital, Petra, and also translate some portions of the ancient prophecies which have relation to this subject. In these preliminary remarks, we shall endeavor not to repeat to much extent what may be found in previous volumes of the Repository.

South of the Dead Sea, the two parallel ranges of mountains, which north of that sea, inclose the valley of the Jordan, again approach and continue parallel to each other, forming between them a deep and broad valley of sand, which extends in a direction nearly S. S. W. to Akaba, on the eastern, or Elanitic gulf of the Red Sea. This valley on the north is called El Ghor, [an Arabic word for any marshy ground), and towards the south El Araba. The length of the valley between the two seas, is about 95 minutes of latitude, from 31° 5', to 29° 30' north, or about 110 English miles in a direct line. The range of mountains on the eastern side of the valley south of the Dead Sea, and which extends to Akaba, is the Mount Seir of the Scriptures, the country of Edom. At the present day, these mountains are divided into three portions. The northern, which extends from a valley or wady not far from Kerek to the wide valley El Ghoeyr, which descends from the eastern desert into

« AnteriorContinuar »