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guage of Mr Leslie, without any sures, is perceived innumerable times qualification or restriction, is the during the day, without having for most correct and philosophical, which its immediate consequence the sensa. could be employed on the subject. tion of darkness. Can we then be No words could more properly express said to have an uniform experience the relation between cause and ef- of the conjunction of the two sensafect, than those of invariable se- tions? Do they not rather appear quence. A cause is nothing else to follow each other loosely and varithan that event, which is invariably, ously, like those irregular succesthat is, which always has been, al. sions of events which we denominate ways is, and always will be, followed accidental?”
It is the appearance by another event.
of the sun above the horizon that is This relation between two events immediately followed by day, and its cannot, as the author conceives, be disappearance by night. discovered previous to experience. Dr Brown is by no means dispo. Even after experience, this relation is . sed to admit the system which considiscovered, not by reason, but by an
ders mind as the sole agent in every instinctive irresistible belief. And change.' In these changes we see this belief seems to take place when only the same sequence as in those ever two events are seen following produced by materiał agents. In each other. Experience then' ena- the voluntary motions of the body, bles us to correct the error of first we see only desire followed by the impressions, to separate the loose and immediate attainment of its object. variable accessories, and to ascertain A man may indeed take a nauseous that event, which, always preceding draught, which he dislikes ; but still, another event, forms its cause, or in- from a conviction of its necessity, he variable antecedent.
desires that motion of his hand The obvious objection to this sys- which is to carry it to his lips. With tem is, that many rhings follow each regard to the disposition to personify other constantly, without our ever material objects, and to refer to mind ascribing to them the relation of all their unaccustomed changes, the cause and effect : thus upon such a author conceives merely, that wheresupposition, night would be the cause ever there appears no visible agent; of day, and day of night. But, ac- mind is resorted to as the only uncording to Dr Brown, that only is known and invisible one.
In consethe invariable antecedent, which ne- quence of these speculations, Dr
, ver appears without being immediate- Brown considers the distinction be. ly followed by its consequent. Now, tween physical and efficient causes as “ how often, during a long and sleep- altogether nugatory. less night, does the sensation of dark. The grand question remains, how ness exist, without being followed is this system connected with the by the sensation of light! We per- great truth of the existence of the ceive the gloon ; we feel our own Deity? By the constitution of our position in bed, or some bodily and nature we are irresistibly led to bemental pain which prevents repose ; lieve, that every change is invariably innumerable thoughts arise, at inter- connected with circumstances immedivals, in our mind, and with these the ately prior. This law must equally perception of gloom is occasionally apply to that greatest of all changes, mingled, without being followed by which consists in beginning exis. the perception of light. At last tence. And, from the wisdom dis. light' is perceived, and, as mingled played throughout nature, we are led with all our occupations and plea- to infer that the antecedent of this
great event, must have been the will the old distinction between these and of an intelligent being. The will to physical causes. Whea therefore Me inodify, to alter, or to destroy the Leslie is accused of denying a " neuniverse, must, in like manner, becessary connection between cause and followed by its object. “ It is not effect,” he is supposed to admit the
“ necessary to the purity of theism, existence of efficient causes and their that we should suppose something effects, and to deny only a certain redivine and incomprehensible to be in. lation between them. But, if we adterposed, amid all those obvious and mit the existence of efficient causes, regular changes which we observe : we admit all, for which, as essential it is sufficient that we be fully im. to theism, the most zealous assertors pressed with the necessity of a 'Crea- of that distinction contend. tor, and trace the universe, with all its Again, since
necessary connecregularity and beauty, as one great tion,” and “ operating principle," effect to the almighty source of be- are both synonymous with efficiency; ing." In our highest contemplations and since cause, when repeated in the of his power, we believe only, that sentence without any qualifying term, when he willed creation, a world must be understood both times to a rose, and that, in all future time, his have the same meaning ; Mr Leslie will to create cannot exist without therefore is accused of denying being followed by the rise of worlds: such efficiency in efficient causes, as that his will to destroy will be in implies efficiency in efficient causes." like manner followed by destruction ; Dr Brown therefore insists that the and his will to vary the course of clergy have no cause to wonder, if, things by miraculous appearances. before explanation, Mr Stewart The will is the only necessary previ- thought this an unlikely interpretaous change ; and that being has al- tion. mighty power whose every will is im. We proceed now to the arguments mediately and invariably followed by brought forward on the other side of the existence of its object.”
the question. Dr Brown then exposes, at consi- The ininisters of Edinburgh never derable length, the errors which Mr entered into any combination. The Hume had mingled with this doc- allusions to it are false and groundless. trine, and which alone render it ex. It was solemnly disavowed by one of ceptionable. Upon the whole, to them at the bar of the general assemsuch as are not deterred by the ab. bly; and it was expecied that some struseness of the subject, we would degree of credit would be thought recommend, instead of this imperfect due to his public declaration upon analysis, a perusak of the treatise it. a subject, in regard to which it was self, which deserves attention, not impossible that he could be mistaken. merely from its temporary applica. Although the ministers of Edinburgh tion, but from the new theory it had joined in favouring Mr Maccontains on this important branch of knight, and had given him their unimetaphysical science.
red advice against resigning his eccleSome time after, another pamphlet siasticalcharge, perhaps their conduct appeared by the same author, entit. might not by some have been thoughe led, "A Short Criticism of the very iniquitous. But so it is, that Terms of the Charge against Mr they did neither. As no evidence Leslie." This is founded on the ex- whatever has been attempted on the planation of the clergy, that in using other side, they must either rest in ihe word cause, they meant only ef- simple denial, or undertake the unficient causes ; and iakes for granted reasonable task of proving a negaMay 1806.
tive ; yet even this they do not de- they said, and they still maintain, cline.
that the doctrine which he has ada Had the ministers of Edinburgh, vanced, leads necessarily to Atheism. as is alleged, united, as a party,
It is said that Mr Leslie's expresin support of that direful measure sions could only be supposed to refer which they are said to have so much to physical causes. But it seems im. at heart, surely all or most of them possible to discover in them any such would have taken some steps for at. restriction. They praise Mr Hume’s. taining their object. They had the essay as “ a model of clear and acsatisfaction of living in habits of inti- curate reasoning.” Now, of 20 pages, macy with
individual members to which this essay extends, there is of the Town Council ; and as they little more than one, which relates to reckoned in their number the Princi- physical causes ; the rest is entirely pal and several Professors of the u- metaphysical. Mr Leslie is said to niversity, their title to recommend extend his praise only to Mr Hume's might perhaps be equal to that of premises. But does not the general Mr Stewart and Mr Playfair. Yet approbation of an essay include both the fact is, that only one, or at most premises and conclusion? It has beer two, ever solicited an individual for clearly shewn by the opposite party, Mr Macknight.
And as the one that Mr Hume's doctrine, so far as particularly referred to was the col. it relates to physical causes, was by league of Mr Macknight's most res- no means new ; for this part therepectable father, he may well be sup- fore no peculiar applause was due to posed to have been actuated solely him. It is the metaphysical part onby personal motives. The rest not ly which was new or peculiar to Mr only did not apply, but when Mr Hume ; and it is that part which has Macknight requested from them cer. drawn the attention of his most diss tificates, on which he understood tinguished adversaries. There seem. great stress had been taid in the case ed reason therefore to suspect, that of other candidates, they absolotely this might be the part which Mr declined complying with his wishes Leslie had peculiarly in view. in this particular, unless they should The subject of the work is indeed be called upon for advice.
physical, and so is the passage to It has been said, that Mr Mack. which the note refers. But it by no night's not resigning his ecclesiastical means follows, that a nate must be charge, was in consequence of the on the very same subject with the ministers having openly avowed their passage to which it is appended. On determination to that effect. But, the contrary, a note naturally suppothat after having shewn no disposi- ses some change, some difference of tion to promote the views of Mr subject, otherwise there could be no Macknight, they should yet adopt reason for not incorporating it into and publish a determination by which the body of the work. We have on. his conduct should be implicitly re- ly to look into any book which congulated, is certainly one of those tains a number of notes, in order to propositions which carry their false- be satisfied, that they relate as often hood in gremio, and accordingly no to different topics as to that of which evidence has been brought to sup- the book itself treats. Or, supposing
the proceeding not to be strictly reThe ministers of Edinburgh are gular, was there no ground to suspect falsely accused of representing Mr an intentional deviation? Lastly, this Leslie as an Atheist. They never interpretation is rendered still more said so. They do not think so. But difficult by the etymological argu.
ment, in which it is attempted to be be regularly laid before any church
express With regard to not producing Mr nothing more than mere priority. It Leslic's letter at the council board, is evident, that this applies equally to this never could have occurred to every kind of cause ; of which we them as an act of justice to that gen. either have no idea at all, or at least tleman, since they were, from the such as no one ever thought of ex- first, unanimous in thinking that let. pressing in words. Of this Mr Les.
ter, in some respects, an aggravation lie's defenders seem sensible, as they of the original offence.
Even had have studiously shunned taking a- they been so disposed, they could ny notice of this part of the discus- never with propriety have presented
Dr Hunter's letter, without his own Mr Leslie's letter is by no means permission, which they have reason satisfactory. He has grossly misre- to believe they would not have obpresented the opinions of Dr Reid, tained. The insinuation, however, whose pbject it was to reply to that Mr Leslie's interest was likely Hume's premises, from which he just- to suffer by the concealment of the ly concluded, that sceptical conclu- letter, are wholly groundless; for the sions flowed unavoidabiy. Far from letter was one of the subjects of conretracting, far even from making the versation at the council board. As slightest apology, for the very excep. soon as the ministers entered, it was tionable language he had used, he introduced by the Lord Provost. merely engages, in case bis book The Presbytery, it is said, ought should come to a second edition, to to have summoned Mr Leslie as a shew how grossly and injuriously he party ; but by the act of Parliament, has been misrepresented. Is this the the Presbytery could not do su ; he language of explanation or apology? did not lié within their jurisdiction, According to every appearance, we To have summoned him as a Profeshave to expect a virulent attack on
which he had become in the face the ministers of Edinburgh, instead of a protest, would have been preof a calm and satisfactory explana judging the case against themselves, tion. As, however, Mr Leslie, in his To the General Assembly it belongletter, complains of want of time, ed, should they see cause, to summon the Presbytery, willing to make every Mr Leslie to their bar ; and that allowance for this disadvantage, af- this did not take place, was owing to forded him afterwards repeated op. the measures of the opposite party, portunities of coming and making An attempt has been made to rethe most full explanation. Here then tort upon the ministers themselves we find a strange inconsistency in the the accusation of Atheism. This is conduct of this gentleman. He first no uncommon maneuvre with those complains of want of time, and after. who are labouring in the defence of
' wards, when the most ample time is error, and who wish to withdraw the afforded him, he makes no use of it. attention of the reader from the ne. Finally, the letter was not regularly rits of the question. But never was before the presbytery, nor even before it attempted on slenderer grounds the meeting of the ministers. It was than on the present occasion. It is addressed, not to the moderator of founded entirely on the restriction of that meeting, but to an individual their meaning to physical causes ; member of it. However satisfactory whereas in papers previously publishthen the letter might have been, it ed, they had expressly excluded these was not official, nor one which could causes. They had confined their cen.
sure solely to what was metaphysical one or two experienced gentleman of in Mr Leslie's doctrine. Mr Stew- the law, and two or three aged minisart therefore has given a long list of ters, members of this house. Nor would authorities to prove, what they could I even wish to impose on Mr Leslie never once have thought of denying, fore them, but to give in his explana.
the necessity of appearing in person bethat there is no necessary. connection tion in writing ; and with a very simple between physical causes. The words explanation, provided it be temperately
Necessary Connection” have been expressed, I would wish them to be saemployed by the most standard meta. tistied. physical writers, and by Mr Stewart himself, to denote causation;
It is left to Mr Leslie's considera
the ly difference is, that they are accom.
tion, whether he would not have panied here with a language of guard been placed in a more respectable si. and precaution, such as
tuation by a favourable report from . before employed. There is nothing such a committee, than merely by a
, in their words which implies, that
vote of Assembly, refusing to consithey believe necessary connection to
der the question. exist between every cause and effect;
The ministers belonging to that it is enough to justify them, if it ex
party which has been accustomed to ists in any one case.
The expression, support the government of the state, operating principle” clearly fixes were opposed by the opposite politidown their meaning to efficient cau
cal interest. When the leaders of a ses, to which, io strict propriety of certain party in the state have sufficilanguage, the name of cause should. ent influence to determine an assembe exclusively appropriated.
bly vote, men of the Moderate inte.
rest in the church do not account it The proposal made in the Assembly was of the most moderate and
dishonourable to be found in the
Nor will the unfavourareasonable kind. The following is minority. the statement given by Dr Hill of ble issue of this measure prevent them, the views with which it was made :
at any future period, when they may
be placed in the same circumstances, Giving the utmost credit to his (Mr from reposing their accustomed conLeslie's) explanation, it must, I think, fidence in the good sense of the coun. be admitted, that he has given just try, and the church.
In the mean cause of offence ; and it seems reasonable, therefore, that he should show his time, they have the satisfaction of willingness to remove it. The Chuich thinking, that the great end they had has a right to require explanation ; and in view, is not defeated. he cannut, with propriety, refuse it.- which they have taken will probably He ought plainly, and without the addi- have the effect of securing, for some tion of any injurious matter, to give a time, greater caution in the discus-. calm and 'dispassionate disavowal. I sion of such philosophical questions, would not propose to remit him to the
as may affect those great truths of presbytery : That might be consider.
a harsh measure. It might be religion which it is their duty to de. preferable to commit the prosecution fend. of the business to a small and select committee, to be appointed by the General Assembly. To obviare any objec- Errata in our last. P. 278. col. 1. line tion, and make it as free as possible from 33. for meeting of Presbytery, read any invidious circumstance, this commit. meeting of the Ministers of Edin. tee might consist of the Moderator, one - burgh. Ib. col. 2. line 35. for Presbyor two Professors of other universities, tery, read meeting.