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By Dr. Philip Schaff, Professor at Mercersburgh.

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By Rev. Daniel Curry, Brooklyn, L. I.

Life of Algernon Sidney; with Sketches of some of his Contempo-

raries, and Extracts from his Correspondence and Political Writings.



JANUARY, 1851.


1. Of the Divine Agency in the Production of Material Phenomena. Art. VII. Biblio

theca Sacra, May, 1848. 2. Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation. 3. Works on Natural Science.

Of the real nature of matter we know as little as of spirit. A volume might be filled with the various and curious speculations of philosophers, which have added little to our knowledge, and are valuable only as a part of the history of mind. One class, spiritualizing all things, consider matter as merely phenomenal, having no real existence; while others, taking the opposite view, deny the independent existence of mind, and maintain that sensation and thought are the result of material combinations. Christian philosophers of the present day admit the real and independent existence of matter and spirit, and have chiefly occupied themselves in investigating their laws, and tracing the immediate causes of their phenomena. The first principles of our knowledge of the external world are derived through the senses. All admit their evidence to be unquestionable; but in making it the basis of theories, we ought to be careful not to mistake this testimony by confounding original and acquired perceptions. Professor Chace, the author of the article referred to in the Bibliotheca Sacra, thus speaks of the dependence to be placed on this evidence:

* All men are so constituted that they cannot belp believing in the reality of what they see or feel, or gain a knowledge of through any of the senses.

This feeling of assurance, this conviction of absolute certainty, is naturally and inseparably connected with the exercise of all our perceptive faculties.

“ It is a part of our nature, and we cannot escape it without ceasing to be 'ourselves."


“ The information derived through the senses, therefore, rests upon the same ground as the truths of revelation, namely, the Divine veracity.

" The testimony of the senses, therefore, in relation to the existence and attributes of matter, must be admitted. Coming from the same source, it has equal authority with the dictates of reason or the voice of inspiration. We cannot question it without questioning the truthfulness of our constitution, nay, the veracity of God himself,—without questioning everything, through whatever channel derived." -- Pp. 346, 347.

Did we not know that our senses are now imperfect, this strong confidence in their proper testimony, which we think no one, from his individual experience, now feels, might exist. But as a result of this imperfection, the same sensations are not always experienced in like circumstances, as in the case where two individuals gazing on the same object suppose it to be of different colours. There are many instances in which individuals fail to distinguish even all the primary colours, and are made sensible of their defect only through the teaching of others. The concurring testimony of many is requisite to produce that strong confidence which results from the voice of inspiration. Here reason comes to the aid of the senses.

The assertion of Professor Chace, that the senses directly give us a knowledge of the existence of matter and its properties, cannot be sustained. The knowledge thus imparted is very limited. Each sense gives us one class of simple ideas only: thus, by sight, we learn of colours ; by hearing, sounds, and so of the other senses. So far from giving us a knowledge of the existence of matter generally, no one of the senses reveals to us directly the existence of its own organ. This knowledge, like most, the origin of which is ascribed to the senses, must be referred to reason and experience. Neither is it true that the senses reveal to us the attributes or properties of matter. The terms applied to sensations have a double meaning, including both the cause and the effect. All sensation is, properly speaking, in the mind. When standing before a landscape in summer, if we open our eyes we are immediately conscious of a sensation which we may call green, and we apply the same term to the vegetation which we believe to exist around us. But in this case the sense of sight is only the medium through which an effect has been produced on us, ---of the external cause it tells us nothing. A sensation may be experienced when no external cause is present. If we place a red wafer on a sheet of white paper exposed to the sun's rays, and gaze steadfastly on it a few moments, we shall see, when the wafer is removed, another in its place of the same size, but of a different colour. In this, and many other instances that might be named, a simple sensation gives us no correct knowledge of the external cause. Moreover, the consideration that, previous

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