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Dr. Woods's Lectures.
sciousness, we have never read any treatise on Moral Agency, which seems to us more worthy of the theological chair, in any "school of the prophets," or more worthy of being studied by all who desire to obtain correct views of the nature, grounds and extent of their moral responsibility. As specimens of the train of thought and argument, we offer a brief abstract, partly in our own, and partly in the language of the author.
"Moral Agency," he justly remarks, "has a near and important connection with Christian theology; and in prosecuting our inquiries we must pursue the inductive method. We must derive our knowledge from facts and experience." No à priori hypothesis can be admitted in the science of mind, any more than in physical science. What we wish to know, are the simple facts that exist and the general laws which they develop. "As in natural science, we observe and arrange the phenomena, so we must do in mental and moral science. Instead of saying such must be the nature and laws of moral agency, our proper business is to find out by Scripture, experience and observation what they are." "I shall assume, that man is a moral agent. We know that moral agency belongs to us, just as we know, that any other attribute belongs to us; that is, by consciousness and by observation of one another—just as we know, that we see and hear." This being admitted, the question arises, is there any test or standard of moral distinctions on which we may rely? There is.
When we have certain affections, or do certain actions, or when we observe the same in others, the feeling spontaneously arises in our minds, that these affections are right. But when we are conscious in ourselves, or contemplate them in others, a feeling of disapprobation is excited. "This feeling takes place uniformly, so far as our minds are unperverted and act according to their nature. The fact that certain men in certain conditions and under the influence of certain causes, judge differently from this, is no evidence against the existence of a uniform constitution in man, any more than the fact, that men under the influence of certain mental or bodily diseases, do not perceive the difference between harmony and discord in music, or between different colors and different tastes, proves, that there is no difference in reality, or that there is no fixed principle, in our minds, which leads us to make the distinction." "But diseased and depraved as the moral sense is, there is much less difference among men in their moral judgments, than has sometimes been represented." Who can witness an act of kindness and magnanimity to an enemy in distress, without
a feeling of respect and admiration, or of cruelty to a friend and benefactor, without a feeling of indignation? "The sentiment of appro
bation which arises in the mind in relation to such actions, is as uniform, as the sensation of different colors at the sight of a rainbow." "Present a prism to a man's eye and you excite the sensation of different colors; speak to him and you excite the sensation of sound. In like manner present to man's mental eye the feeling of benevolence, and the actions that flow from it, and you excite in him instant approbation. Present the contrary, and you excite disapprobation. And if at any time, the impulse of his own passions leads him to justify the wrong affections of himself or others, he will ultimately condemn himself for it as an act of violence done to his moral nature."
Having, as he thinks, established this point in the first lecture, Dr. Woods proceeds in the next, to consider different states of conscience, in reference to moral agency, and the ambiguity of such words as knowledge, understanding, power, ability, etc., by which men are often perplexed and led astray. The course of reasoning by which he proves, that the merit or demerit of any action lies in the intention, in the state of the heart, and not in the overt act, is remarkably clear and satisfactory.
In the third lecture of this series, on Moral Agency, Dr. Woods goes on to examine the different affections or states of the mind, embracing its sensations or perceptions, intellectual acts and volitions. On these topics, no abstract of ours would do justice to the analytical acumen of the author, nor to his rare felicity in translating metaphysics into the vernacular tongue.
The affections, in themselves, morally good or evil; the laws by which they are governed and their connection with the intellect and the will, are the topics of the next lecture, and they are handled with an ability which would do credit to any writer on Moral Agency. So would the lecture which immediately follows, in which Dr. Woods inquires" What connection our present affections have with any preceding affection, or what influence preceding affections have upon the present." Next he goes on to show, on what principles we ordinarily predict our own future affections and those of others. Then comes Moral Necessity, which, he tells us, furnishes a remarkable example of the difficulty and perplexity occasioned by employing words in a sense not well defined, or not well understood, and to the elucidation of which, he has with rare success, applied the perspicacious power of his mind. Then follow highly discriminating remarks upon the influence of motives, objective and subjective. Then in the next lecture,
Dr. Woods's Lectures.
he inquires, "Do motives influence men necessarily, and if so, what is the nature of this necessity?" This leads him next to consider certain alleged difficulties, as to moral inability, the divine purposes, our dependence on God and the work of his Spirit in sanctification. This brings us to the tenth lecture in the series, in which Dr. Woods shows, that Moral Agency continues through all changes of character, and refers to Gen. iii, as a satisfactory account of the first human sin, and then very ably closes the discussion in two lectures upon "the sinner's inability to obey the divine command and in what it consists."
This, we are sensible, is but a very meagre outline of these lectures upon Moral Agency; but if it should induce any to possess themselves of the great work in which they are contained, we are quite sure they will never regret the purchase. It should be in the hands of every young minister, as well as on the shelf of every public and private religious library.
The fourth volume contains a series of twelve letters, to Unitarians, occupying 121 pages- then a Reply to Dr. Ware's Letters to Unitarians and Calvinists, of 170 pages- next, Remarks on Dr. Ware's answer to his Letters, of 40 pages then Eight Letters to Dr. N. W. Taylor, with an Appendix-after which follows an Examination of the Doctrine of Perfection, with a Letter to Mahan, of Oberlin, and lastly, a Dissertation upon Miracles.
This volume bears throughout, the impress of the same richly furnished, perspicacious and logical mind, which has imparted such distinguished character and worth, to the lectures in the three preceding volumes. We regret that no space is left us for extracts, which would more than sustain this high estimate. If the candid reader does not find himself very much entertained, as well as instructed, we are but poor judges in such matters. Proud as Unitarians and Perfectionists are of their champions, we opine, that they would not be over anxious to pit any of them in a fair field against such a "foeman" as Dr. Woods has proved himself to be in these letters.
The fifth and last volume contains three letters to young ministers, five essays on Mental Philosophy, three miscellaneous essays and twenty-five sermons, preached on various occasions.
Here we take our leave of the work before us, which has cost the author the best years of a long professional life; which has been waited for with high expectations, not only by the hundreds who sat at his feet, while he filled the theological chair, but by multitudes who never heard him, and whose labors will be held in grateful remembrance long, very long after he shall have been gathered to his fathers.
PARALLEL BETWEEN THE PHILOSOPHICAL RELATIONS OF · EARLY AND MODERN CHRISTIANITY.
By Rev. Edward A. Washburn, Newburyport, Mass.
No study can offer a richer field to the philosophic thinker, than that of the laws which control the differing ages and phases of opinion. It would seem at first sight a task almost impossible, in the very nature of the intellect as well as the variety of phenomena; far easier for the naturalist to read the history of the earth's formation in the rocky strata, and classify the manifold forms of organic life; or for the astronomer to reduce the immensity of space to a " mécaniqué celeste," than to discover such unity in the domain of spirit. Yet it is by no means so. The mind of man, fertile as are the sources of knowledge, and ever ready as it is to push its inquiries into newer fields, is after all, compassed by a horizon wide, yet clearly marked. And not only do these limits of possible knowledge bring us always back to the same sphere; but the innate affinities of intellect, the likeness of culture, and more than all the deep inward causes, which produce the spiritual movements of every age, produce also a likeness of result. Nor is it often that men enter as individuals into this or that channel of isolated speculation; the master-mind of society is rather the roixvuía, the accumulated wave of general tendencies. Hence then is seen a law of reproduction in human thought. Age on age passes through kindred processes; and in the mind, as in nature, there are certain archetypal forms, which are the conditions and the objects of its striving. We may observe this law in every variety of phenomena. Literature imposes the same necessity of epic, lyric, idyllic, dramatic expression on the genius of the poet; art seeks in vain to do more than reproduce the orders of Greece, and that of the middle age, the offspring of a supernatural religion. Philosophy in the mind of India, of Athens, and the modern world repeats the primary problems. Plato and Kant state the ground-law of pure reason in opposition to empiricism; Hume and Berkeley arrive at like conclusions with the Greek sophists; Paley lays down, as the principle of a Christian ethics, that which Cicero explodes as revolting even to a heathen conscience; the propositions of Spinoza are read in almost parallel passages of Abelard; and the system of Schelling is but a more scientific fulfil
Reproduction in Theology.
ment of that ideal Pantheism which envelops as a mysterious cloud the primitive dreamland of Eastern contemplation. The efforts of man in the world of ideas are like the results of his discovery on the broad ocean, which can only at the last circumnavigate the narrow globe, and bring him in a returning circle to the point whence he set forth.
But in nothing is this law of reproduction more visible than in the sphere of theology. Theology is philosophy, seeking scientific unity with a historical revelation; and as its truths are highest of all, so has every age its questions, which master and penetrate its leading intellect. The controversy of Arius marks the early period; the problem of freewill and decrees, that of Augustine; the dispute between Nominalism and Realism underlies profound views of original sin and redemption, which employed the scholastic mind; the mighty principle of justification sways the theology of the Reformation. Ideas, which in one day are of vital interest, are quite forgotten in the next. A theological proposition, in the time of Luther an experimentum crucis in too literal a sense, is now a piece of antiquated divinity; and men wonder that any should have gone to the stake for so abstract a matter. To come nearer home, our New England contests of old and new school, of physical and moral ability and the like, are beginning to be merged in far broader questions, which have arisen on the theological horizon; in the contest, for life or death, between a gigantic naturalism and a Christian supernaturalism; or, on yet another side, between the claims of private judgment and Catholic authority. Yet, amidst these differences, we ever behold the law of reproduction; the old questions are repeated in new form, and the reigning tendencies of belief and heresy cast in the same mould. Calvin reproduces Augustine; and Socinus develops the germ of Arius. The tenets of the school of Arminius are anticipated in the Greek fathers. Modern Oxford speaks in the cognate dialect of Cyprian and Vincentius. Early New England theology moved in the same cycle of metaphysical thought as the scholastic; and the later contests with a growing and now full-grown Unitarianism have been fought, inch by inch, on almost every portion of the ancient battle ground, whose record will form, when a philosophic historian is found, a chapter of rich phenomena unsurpassed in Christian Annals. It is facts like these which make the study of doctrinal history of so vast importance, not more than, but equally with, dogmatic theology itself. The doctrinal expressions of every age are more or less always polemic, and reflect a particular phase of thought. But, in the