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is to prove the other side right. There can be no doubt, that English metaphysics have not sufficiently acknowledged the immortality of man; that there is something tending to materialism, in the philosophy of Locke; and that Paley is a very superficial and dangerous moralist; and lastly, that there is a natural reaction, by which the mind fies from minute particulars, to speculations, dark, comprehensive, and sublime. Coleridge's works were published at a fortunate juncture. They showed us the green mounts at a distance, when our eyes had been satiated and distressed by traveling over a sandy waste.
But it will not do: it is impossible, that such shallow philosophy, with whatever fine diction supported, should long stand. Its power is wholly over youthful minds. No man, who has seen the sober side of fifty, who has a particle of understanding, will ever imagine that he has an undiscursive reason. The new reason will never be gained, until the old becomes partially bewildered, or is entirely lost.
One note of warning we wish to sound, before we close. Nothing can be more fatal to the usefulness of a minister, than to infect his head with this turbid philosophy, if he has the least intention of bringing it out in his public performances. It would be the mildew of piety. For, to say nothing of those mixed feelings, half principle and half sentimentalism, (or, to speak more accurately, one third mystery, one third truth, and one third nothingism,) feelings derived, as he says, from the depths of nature, and from communion with those great minds, formed on the principles of nature, (whatever this means ;) to say nothing on this point, how is it to be expected, that our plain congregations should trace these indefinite shadows, formed by the midnight moon, and having no tendency to sanctify the heart, when they are traced? The philosophy of Coleridge is a poor commodity to present to a NewEngland audience, especially when it is to displace the doctrines of Edwards, and modify the epistles of Paul. The dairy-women on the banks of the Champlain, will hardly understand it. The organ of the “ supersensuous” will hardly discover the objects of faith ; nor will the “ distinguishable power, self-affirmed," supply the place of the power of the Holy Spirit
. It would be a poor erchange, to give up an English understanding, for a German's reason ; or to barter away all the glories of creation, for things which confessedly exist only out of time and space. In a word, we would recommend to any young man, whose brains have been a little touched with this philosophy, to commit to memory, or (to use a better phrase,) get by heart, the words of the first verse of the cxxxi. psalm : Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty, NEITHER DO I EXERCISE MYSELF IN GREAT MATTERS, OR IN THINGS TOO HIGH FOR ME. Coleridge is dead, -peace to his memory : and may his works soon follow him.
Io the 92d number of the Edinburgh Review, there is an elaborate article, (well spiced, however, with the divine ideas of German literature,) to persuade the English reader, that the Kantean metaphysics contain stores of knowledge, well worthy of the study of the acutest mind; and that he and his followers have been only underrated, because unknown. We do humbly beseech and implore some of his enlightened followers, to tell us, what his philosophy is. The system, gentlemen,-we want the system. We have had eulogies usque ad nauseam. Tell us, in plain English, what it is. If the Germans bave put the sun and moon into their pockets, let us go and compel them to surrender their monopolized goods, and leave the world some portion of their light. It was in the year 1770, that Kant stood candidate for the metaphysical chair, in the college at Koningsberg, and began to open on the world his wisdom ; and since then, more than half a century has rolled away, with all the light of himself, his commentators, and his opponents. We have heard him applauded to the very echo,-a miracle of a man, a monster of intelligence, a tenth muse, a second Aristotle, a walking library, a breathing reason, a lump of personified wisdom ; and yet, not a single soul has succeeded in telling, in simple English, what his philosophy is, or what he means. It is rather hard to be tantalized at this rate. We are ignorant of the German language ; but we have never been able, with our utmost efforts, in Latin or in English, to obtain a glimpse of light, as to what this new system is. Translations, reviews, summaries, abridgments, commentaries, have all failed. We have asked all the German scholars we have met with ; but they have all enlightened us, very much as Bardolph enlightened Mr. Justice Shallow, when he defined the word accommodated, which he had accidentally used. “Accommodated," said that acute metaphysician, “ accommodated, that is, when a man is, as they say, accommodated; or, when a man is,-being,—whereby,—he may be thought to be accommodated; which is an excellent thing.
Art. VIII.-GENERAL IMPROVEMENT OF Society. On the Imprudement of Society, by the Diffusion of Knowledge : or, an Illustratien
of the adrantages which would result from a more general dissemination of rs tional and scientific information among all ranks. Illustrated with engravings. By Thomas Dick, LL. D. Author of “the Christian Philosopher," " the Philosophy of Religion,” “the Philosophy of a Future Slate," eic. Philadelphia : Key & Biddle. 1833.
If there is one object more important than any other, to the human family, it is the general improvement of society, taking that phrase in a just and enlarged sense. Let it include, as it should, both moral and intellectual advancement, and who can imagine a source of purer happiness, or of brighter hopes, to rational and inmortal beings! Our best interests, for time and eternity, are indissolubly connected with the real improvement of the social state. Worldly comfort, thrift, convenience, order and neatness, attend on the progress of society, towards its wished-for consummation. Individual safety, quiet, liberty, the unrestricted pursuit of happiness
, and opportunities for obtaining an inheritance in a better world, are best secured, as they are also constituted, by an improved and improving condition of social life. That we may form a correct and vivid conception of what is enjoyed in well-regulated communities, we have only to turn our eyes to those portions of the earth
, where other scenes are presented. We might contemplate, for this purpose, some savage tribe of New Zealanders, or some wild horde of Tartars, or some petty barbarous nation of Africa, and compare their situation with that of our own. Who among us would consent, if it were submitted to bis will, that society at large should revert to a condition, such as is exhibited among these and similar specimens of our race ? On a serious estimate, wbat is human existence worth, under the circumstances in which these un• bappy people are placed, without knowledge, without refinement, without taste, without morals, and without an acquaintance with the true God, and the way of salvation? What could induce a civilized man, or a christian, to choose such a lot as bis own, or even to sojourn in these homes of barbarism, except, as a missionary of the cross, he should go to seek their social and spiritual welfare? The very idea of such a life, is abhorrent to all the associations of the cultivated mind; nor much better can such a mind, especially if it have a just sense of the value of religious privileges, be brought to endure that more advanced state of society', though far inferior to our own, which is found, for example, in Southern Africa, in Turkey, and indeed in most countries, where the Catholic religion and that of the Greek church prevail. The infelicities of the social state, in almost every part of the world, may well inspire those with contentment, whose hoines have been assigned to them is
protestant lands. There is nothing for which a wise man can desire to live at all, except as he feels
at liberty to pursue the objects of his choice, and enjoys a good degree of security in the pursuit. The want of that liberty and security, would operate most perniciously on his present happiness, and his expectations of the life to come.
Contemplating the subject under this aspect, it strikes pleasantly on our ears, to hear of the improvement of society. We hail the reality, if it is such, and so far as we experience it, with more than ordinary satisfaction. We willingly listen to the instances and the proofs of it abroad; and desire to know the processes which are bringing forward that better condition of the world. What more acceptable a present than a book, which contains glowing descriptions of the progress of social order, or which details the means by which that blessedness may be further secured! On the contrary, we are proportionally disheartened, when, in view of the evils which exist, and their rapid increase at times, we are obliged reluctantly to infer, that the pations are still longer to grope their way in darkness,—that the day of their redemption may be at a great distance. We instinctively turn to this subject, as often as we take up our newspapers and periodicals; and our hopes and fears are alternately excited, as their pages present the favorable or unfavorable side of the question. Sometimes the representations and the facts we meet with, seem to make it certain, that the institutions of society are ameliorating, and its whole character is taking a decided turn for the better. We augur favorably from a variety of circumstances. Again, all looks gloomily ; evil omens abound; and we are ready to indulge the fear, that “ society may yet relapse into the darkness which enveloped the human mind, during the middle ages; and the noble inventions of the past and present age, like the stately monuments of Grecian and Roman art, be lost amid the mists of ignorance, or blended with the ruin of empires."
Some of our readers, doubtless, recollect the tone of the public prints, upon the termination of the late war in this country, and the general pacification of Europe, in 1815, respecting the prospects before the world. Visions of national prosperity were indulged, and mankind, especially our own countrymen, were encouraged to expect the rewards of peace, to an unexampled, if not indefinite extent. And what, until within a very few years, have we, in this land, been accustomed to hear, but the notes of exultation, on account of our growing greatness, and the self-flattery by which we were led to believe, that nothing could interrupt our march to perfection! We proclaimed our own superiority, till we became giddy with our fancied elevation. But now, the tale of evil is borne mournfully on the air. We hear of vast emigrations of unVOL.VI.
principled and needy foreigners,--of the disgorging of the prisons and alms-houses of Europe, upon our shores, and of the consequent increase of crime and pauperism. Our cities tell us of the riot and bloodshed, which were once familiar only to the capitals of the old world. Complaints, too, reach us, that the right of suffrage, now nearly universal, is prostituted to the purposes of corruption, threatening the loss of those privileges, for whose sake alone a patriot can deem that right of any importance. Papacy, we also learn, is gaining ground in these dearly-bought seats of the Protestant religion, and seeks, by Jesuitical cunning and Austrian gold, to regain here, that empire which is escaping from its grasp on the eastern continent. The startling report comes to us from the far west, that all may be lost to the truth, ere long, in those important regions, by the ascendency of the Catholic faith, unless special efforts are made for its counteraction. Sectional jealousy in our country, is stunning us with its grating sounds, and we are becoming familiar with threats of dismemberment and civil war. Our land is filled with political party-strife ; its angry echoes break in upon the quiet of our fire-sides. Even our beloved Zion begins to be shaken with the noise of fierce disputation. Christian brethren disagree, and in their contests about unessential points, are wasting energies, that ought to be consecrated to the more vital purposes of holy living. And finally, in the train of evil tidings, the complaint pours in upon us, that our sabbaths, which are an institution of the state, as well as of the church, and without which, neither can prosper, if it can long exist, are fast losing their character as days of rest, and becoming seasons of secular business, or noisy pastime. Now, to the christian and philanthropist, who, it may be, has anticipated the rapid progress of truth and piety, such things convey a painful monition. They are discouraging in themselves. What will be the issue of present untoward events, human foresight is inadequate to say. So far as this nation is concerned, we feel, that there is cause for alarm; and we have been apt to suppose, or to boast, that here are centered the hopes of the world: Nothing but the assurance imparted by revelation, that there will be hereafter a brighter and perfect day to the nations, can support the friends of religion and social order, in their exertions to bring it forward, or in the delay which attends the object of their exertions. But by what returns of dark and barbarous ages, or by what ruin of states and kingdoms now flourishing, the eventual perfection of society may be preceded, it would be in vain to conjecture. If, on the whole, we have reason to believe, that there will be a progressive improvement in social life, without the recurrence of evils, such as have been experienced in past ages, it is not from any natural tendency of society to advance towards a state of perfection,