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peculiar to all animals destitute of a soul; and so far as the gratification of the senses, and the preservation of life, are concerned, they reason more correctly than man. So rapid is this process performed in their minds, and so correct and instantaneous are the conclusions at which they arrive, and so far exceeding similar powers in man, that it has been considered to be the effect of a divine influence, denominated instinct; a faculty which no one can understand.
A variety of reasons might be assigned to explain these extraordinary powers in brutes. The preservation of their lives, and the gratitication of their appetites, absorb their wbole attention ; and their mental faculties, being exclusively and constantly exercised upon these objects, acquire a high degree of activity, and impart to their nerves an acuteness of discernment, which enables them to avoid noxious articles, and to select those only which administer to their wants, and to their sustenance.
As a substitute for their privation of the higher intellectual powers, their nervous system has been originally endowed with an extreme sensitive acuteness, on which all their reasoning powers depend ; and by the degree of this acuteness, may those powers be accurately graduated. The mind of man being occupied with nobler and more elevated themes, often neglects to attend to the dictates of those senses which direct to the means of self-preservation, and in this respect may be considered inferior to other animals. Facts in corroboration of this exposition daily occur under our notice, and might be cited ad libitum. The elephant exhibits a striking instance of this fact; the extremity of whose trunk is supplied with more nerves than th ewhole of his huge body beside. He consequently possesses a faculty of discriminating, so extremely acute and sensitive, and so far exceeding that of other animals, as to be denominated the ‘half-reasoning elephant.'
Although Locke is opposed to the admission of innate ideas, others have assumed the opposite ground, and advocated their préexistence, with ability and success; but appear utterly at a loss to account for their precise location, or their origin, or the mode of their existence, and the means by which they may be excited to action. A reference to the opinions of a few prominent authors, in their own words, will exhibit à more explicit detail of their views, their difficulties, and their unsuccessful efforts to divest this subject of its intrinsic mysteries. In contrast with their confused views on this subject, I shall then endeavor to explain the perfect consistency of innate ideas with the theory sustained in this essay, and to evince how easily all these difficulties and mysteries may be dissipated, and the whole subject rendered perfectly clear and intelligible.
Stewart says: Locke was guilty of great error, in deducing the origin of all our knowledge from sensation and reflection, and also in denying the existence of innate ideas, and in asserting that our ideas of morality and religion are the result of education and experience. The sciences rest ultimately on first principles, which must be taken for granted, without proof.
Boyle says: “God has furnished man either with certain innate ideas, or with models and principles, or with a faculty to frame them :
The innate light of the rational faculty is more primary than the rules of reasoning.'
Dr. Reid: The first principles of every kind of reasoning are given us by nature. The conclusions of reason are built on first principles. How or when I got such first principles, I know not, for I had them before I can remember.'
Dr. Warts : •It is our knowledge of truths which are wrought into the very nature and make of our minds. They are too evident to need proof. They are thought to be innate propositions, or truths born with us.'
Dr. BEATTIE: • That all mathematical truth is founded on certain first principles, which common sense or instinct compels us to believe without proof. Hence there is a power in the mind which perceives elementary truth, and commands implicit belief by instinctive impulse derived from nature.'
Dr. HANCOCK : I therefore conclude that the elements, or first principles, of reasoning belong to every rational being, and that we cannot attain speculative knowledge, without building our reasoning on certain rational instincts, or first principles. So we cannot attain to any practical virtue, without buildirg on the fundamental principles of morality and religion, originally laid in the mind by God.'
Lord Bacon : • The light of nature shines upon the soul by an internal instinct, according to the law of conscience, by which it is enabled to discover the perfection of the moral law.'
Sir Matthew Hale: “By his faculties man is enabled to know the will of God, for it is in a great measure inscribed in his soul. Our clearest and best sentiments of morality have been gathered from a due animadversion of our own minds, next to divine revelation.'
Dr. Cudworth: . The soul is not a mere tabula rasa, a naked, passive thing, which has no innate furniture or activity of its own. The anticipations of morality spring from some inward vital principle in intellectual beings.'
From these extracts, it will be perceived that many of the most eminent metaphysicians concur in the belief of innate ideas, or first principles, without being able to account for their origin. But if we admit the distinctive existence of the soul, and that it possesses all the intellectual, moral, and religious faculties, before its union with the body, we can easily understand the origin of innate ideas, their location, and mode of existence in the soul, and also the manner and means by which they are gradually and successively excited to action. These have already been explained.
The soul, in its approach to the brain, brings with it all those innate ideas, the origin, existence, and location of which have so mysteriously embarrassed the scientific world. And as the organs which these faculties are destined to occupy become successively developed, and matured to receive impressions, without the hazard of being disorganized, they become more or less manifest, according to concurring circumstances. This is that class of innate ideas which communicates to us the first intelligence we ever receive of the being of a God, and of the necessity of living a holy and a religious life. These impressions are deepened by subsequent observation of his works, and above all by Divine revelation.
It must here be distinctly understood, that the ideas of a God and
of religion are not in the first instance acquired by education and experience, but are derived entirely and exclusively from the soul ; which, according to the explanation already given, is perfect in all its intellectual, moral, and religious faculties.
The senses also produce impressions on the brain of the fætus before birth, which constitute another source of innate ideas. On this principle, the much controverted question relative to the origin of virtue and vice, and the predisposition of infants to the latter, may be satisfactorily explained.
The following remarks of Dr. Hutchinson, in relation to this topic, accord with the views of other philosophers, and are too appropriate to be omitted. He says : 'It is an arduous task to trace virtue to its original source, whether it comes to man by nature, or by custom and education, or by some divine instinct. Many eminent philosophers admit that we have innate seeds of virtue. The seeds of virtue do not show themselves so early as the seeds of vice, whatever may be the advantage of outward good example. For as that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is animal, and afterward that which is spiritual, so it may be consistent with the right order of things, that the animal, sensual, or inferior propensities, should appear before the moral or spiritual. We know not why the latter noble principles should appear in the infant, before it has discovered one spark of intellect. The following is the regular order in the scale of intellect: a sensitive, an animal, an intellectual, and moral state, is gradually unfolded. The propensities which appear first, are not so excellent as those which appear last.'
All seem to concur with Dr. Hutchinson in the opinion just quoted, that vice precedes virtue in the order of time; but none have accounted for the fact why it should so occur; por have they satisfactorily explained the predisposition of infants to vice.
I will now proceed to exhibit the facility with which this theory will elucidate this intricate subject, divest it of all mystery, and place it on the plain and simple ground of other physical operations.
I have already explained the manner in which ideas originate from the senses ; that they are the first in the order of existence, and consequently make the first impressions on the brain; and that originating entirely from the body, they may with propriety be denominated sensual, or, in the language of Scripture, carnal. These ideas, thus originating from the flesh, contain all the germs of vice, so subversive of human felicity; and when transmitted to, and lodged in the brain, constitute the sensual mind, in contradistinction to the moral mind, which is derived from the soul.
The sensual mind, thus originating from the five senses, and being the first in the order of time, makes the first impressions upon the brain; and as vice is the product of the sensual mind, and most congenial to its nature, the mind of the infant becomes thereby predisposed to vice, and to all its train of evils, before the moral mind is sufficiently matured to counteract its baleful influence.
How long this influence has been exerted, and how deep these impressions have been made, before the counter agents from the soul begin to operate, we can never ascertain. But that they are settled and radicated, accords with experience, and is confirmed by facts.
And until the soul, by the efforts of volition, is brought to exert its influence to eradicate the impressions already made, the predisposition to vice will continue to increase, and to grow stronger and deeper, until advanced age shall render it perfectly insensible to the counter influence of the soul. It can then be eradicated only by the miraculous power of the Almighty. Thus verifying the Scripture : • The sinner of a hundred years old shall be accursed.'
The order in the preceding scale of intellect, by Dr. Hutchinson, is perfectly consistent with the explanation I have already given of innate ideas, and is good authority in support of this theory. The same principles are equally applicable to explain the origin of virtue
The first in his scale, the sensitive state, arises from the sense of touch, and is the first idea transmitted to the brain of the fætus. The animal state is the result of the other senses, as they successively commence operation ; thus, when complete, constituting the perfect sensual mind, the origin of all vice. His second and third, the intellectual and moral state, arrive with the soul, and do not commence operation upon the brain, until respiration has commenced, and the sensual mind has made considerable progress toward its complete formation. This arrival of the soul constitutes the inceptive stage of the moral mind, the origin of all virtue, which is gradually unfolded in all its faculties, as the different organs of the brain become developed, which it is destined to occupy, and as the body approaches its mature and perfect state.
The preceding remarks relate to the mind in its sane and healthy condition. A few brief reflections will show how satisfactorily the sane principles may be applied to explain the operations of the mind under the influence of disease.
It is not my intention, at present, to proceed to a detailed exposition of the causes and treatment of insanity, but merely to indicate a few general principles that may be applied to preserve the health and to prevent the disease of the mind.
The radical difference in the intellectual faculties of men is not so great as the difference in the means which they employ for their respective improvement in knowledge. It was a common remark of Sir Isaac Newton, that if he possessed any advantage over others, it consisted entirely in his ability to control his attention. This is literally true, and is the grand secret by which the most eminent and most scientific men have acquired their highest attainments, and their prominent distinction in the world. The reason is very obvious. Those who abstract their attention from extraneous subjects, and concentrate it entirely and exclusively upon the objects of their study, will arrive at the highest possible attainments in science.
By extending this controlling influence to all the faculties of the soul, ideas which had been long dormant, and of the existence of which the mind had become unconscious, will be excited to renewed and vigorous action. The soul, with all its faculties, will be thus brought into a more intimate approximation to, and alliance with, the organs of the brain, and will consequently impart to the mind that peculiar species of intellectual, moral, or religious science, which the will makes the greatest efforts to obtain. And if its exertions operate with equal force upon all these faculties, the individual will
thereby acquire the reputation of being not only a great and wise man, but also of being a good man, devoted to objects of piety and benevolence. The mind, like the body, requires constant and regular exercise, to preserve its healthy condition; and if suitably controlled by the will, its health and its sanity will continue to be preserved, until they are impaired by the infirmities incident to declining life. All its faculties will then be in equal and regular action. Antagonist agents will never permit this balance to be disturbed, while they are unaffected by disease. This constitutes the most healthy and sane condition of the mind; and may always be found most perfect in those eminent men who are most distinguished for a high moral intellect, but destitute of this moral restraint; men of the highest intellectual attainments are most liable to paroxysms of insanity.
When this equanimity is disturbed, and this harmony of action destroyed, by any adequate cause, a discordance in the operation of the faculties occurs, which gradually impairs the sanity of the mind, and ultimately terminates in confirmed derangement.
It will therefore be perceived that the preceding remarks justify the conclusion, that the same test which designates a great and good mind, will equally designate its most sane and healthy condition.
I consider the will to be the supreme arbiter of this epitome of the universe. It sits enthroned in regal majesty, dispensing its mandates through all the minute ramifications of its complicated empire. If these mandates are wisely conceived, and faithfully executed, by the subordinate agents which are permanently stationed at their respective posts; if the will brings the soul, with all its faculties, into complete and extensive operation upon the brain ; all the departments of its government will be equally and justly balanced, and the respective powers of each department will be retained within their own spheres of action.
This condition of mind is best adapted to promote the happiness and the usefulness of the individual who possesses it. But the least deviation from this standard will mar this happiness, impair this usefulness, and induce disorder and discord ; all of which evils will continue to accumulate and to multiply, precisely as the will loses its influence, or is influenced by bad motives, or ceases to control the attention and all the faculties of the soul.
The first symptoms which indicate the gradual approaches to insanity, are seldom observed : they are often denominated eccentricities of character, without the least suspicion of mental disease, and are characterized by a vacillating state of mind; a rapid transition of thought from one thing to another; an inability to confine the attention, for any length of time, to one subject. This disposition continues to increase, till it terminates in an incessant wandering of the mind.
The imagination then usurps the place of the understanding, and presents to the mind a thousand fanciful paintings, which the fancy endows with life and animation, and which it occasionally converts into castles, animals, and armies. Those persons who are in the habit of permitting their thoughts to rove at random, with no fixed object on which to concentrate, and without exerting any efforts to arrest their unmeaning current, or to subject them to the control of