Imagens das páginas

said she, I dare not die till I see which is master. Under such circumstances he thought it better to defer administering the sacrament, until the patient was in a more composed state; and attempted to reason the

poor creature out of her absurd ideas. But some very excellent persons, in most other respects, who had from time to time visited the woman, declared that it was all the Lord's work, that he was revealing himself to her, and that he would finish it. A few days after the poor creature died raving mad, believing that Satan had got the master over Christ, and demanded her soul. It is to be feared that similar instances are of no uncommon occurrence; the death of every, servant of Christ, according to the notions of some, ought to afford extraodinary indications of his dealings; and whatever may be the nature of the malady which consigns the poor

sufferer to the arms of death, the dying hour is looked upon as the test of the past life, and as affording evidence of the future state of the soul; and perhaps nothing has a more direct tendency to excite this morbid feeling in the mind, than those ill-judged books written for the young, giving detailed accounts of the last moments of good and bad children, which are distributed by people of the best intentions, who think that such subjects are calculated to awaken serious impressions. But the real effect of them we take to be the production of a nervous melancholy, or a distaste for reading a serious book altogether.

Surely then the voice of reason and reflection ought to be urged against these things; and when aided by the experience of the great majority of mankind, and supported by the known laws of physical temperament, as they affect the manifestations of mind, do they not deserve an equal share of attention with the clamours of the illiterate and the representations of the prejudiced few, in whom predominant fear has superseded the sober realities of life, and converted the effects of a morbid brainular condition into an imaginary creation; which by its hold upon the feelings and by its powerful appeal to the passions has carried the mind out of itself, has cast away the anchor of sober reasoning, and has placed it in an ocean of conflicting elements, where it has ceased to be mistress of its own actions, and where it has yielded the helm of thought to the direction and government of an overheated imagination.

It must however not be forgotten, that in the order of God's providence nothing is more usual, than that affliction should be employed to accomplish spiritual good. Thus impressions upon the nervous system, which result from a physical influence, as well as the calamity of insanity itself, may, and sometimes are over-ruled for good, and become the instruments of the conversion of a sinner, as in the well-known case of Col. Gardiner. And although it is desirable for us to form just views of those cases, it might not always be advisable to combat opinions of this kind, where we found them referred to a supernatural agency; provided always, that we could trace their holy influence through the heart and conduct of those, who verily thought they owed their second thoughts to some such special miracle. The feverish heat of enthusiasm is certainly not to be desired, but it is infinitely less to be deprecated than the torpor of unbelief, that gloomy collapse of action which scarcely admits of hope. Still enthusiasm is an evil which admits of prevention rather than cure.

If indeed every person who saw visions, spectral illusions, and bright lights in the air, were merely called from a state of sin to one of holiness, there would be just grounds for believing them of a divine origin; but since it is but extremely rare, that we can trace these consequences in them, we are rather justified in believing that they generally proceed from physical causes, and that they are sometimes over-ruled for spiritual good according to that mighty working, by which our Lord can subdue all things to himself. Some perhaps will here say that this doctrine tends to undervalue the operations of the Holy Spirit. But the office of the Holy Spirit is to lead us to truth, while the effect of this pseudo spiritual agency is to leave us in the darkness of error. The Spirit of God is operating upon our spirits, through the medium of his word and ordinances, while those are generally lost sight of or perhaps even opposed by this supernatural influence. The teaching of the Spirit will lead us to follow Christ, and to strive to be like him with intense desire, while this physical state concentrates the thoughts and feelings upon selfish objects and pursuits, and abstracts them from the only satisfying good. The Holy Spirit is the comforter of the people of God, while this morbid state disturbs the peace, produces error, and surrounds its subject with the impenetrable gloom of cerebral disorder. The Spirit of grace exerts a holy sanctifying influence upon the heart and conduct, while the alleged supernatural agency, to which it is opposed, more commonly leads the mind from that which is holy, just, and good, and besets it with the morbid creations of a distempered fancy. The Spirit of God helpeth our infirmities, while this physical load increases their weight, augments their influence, diminishes the power of volition, and renders the Christian an easier prey to temptation, by taking away the natural safeguard which a gracious God has communicated. In a word these morbid bodily influences, are to be looked upon simply as a part of those evils, which the sin of the first Adam brought upon our race, and in no way a part of the work of the second Adam, in the restoration of fallen human nature to its primitive innocence; but that like other physical evils, they sometimes carry mercy under their wings, and are over-ruled, according to the will and purpose of the Most High, for happy issues.

These evils are many and serious, we have already adverted to the sympathetic disorders of the brain, with the functions of the body; that cerebral disorder is produced by moral and physical causes, and that these causes act reciprocally upon each other; that cerebral disorder requires not only moral remedies, but physical treatment; that the symptoms of this disorder, are mental alienation, lunacy, fatuity, superstition, bigotry. And let it not be forgotten, that the slightest congestion in the vessels of the brain, will occasion an alteration in the manifestations of mind; that original malformation will produce idiocy; water on the brain, stupidity; concussion of the brain,* is attended by loss of power and recollection, and when re-action takes place is attended by delirium : compression of the brain is often at: tended with the abolition of mental manifestation : fever produces often a complete perversion of the faculties : inflammation of the brain produces all the visions, spectral images, and supernatural hor. rors, which can be named; and perverts or destroys the power of intellectual operation : all these are common to the maniac, being the air in which he breathes, and are the designations by which he is known. It is therefore unnecessary to call in the aid of spiritual agency, when a peculiar morbid state of the brain will account for the disordered mental manifestation. Neither is it just to call in the aid of spiritual influence which cannot be explained at all, in order to account for a physically morbid state, which may partly be explained upon natural principles, but of which we cannot fathom all the particulars. When a natural explanation can be found for that which is difficultly conceivable upon any other principle, it is the duty of the Christian humbly to accept such explanation; especially when it offers a beautiful exposition of the debasing influence of the fall upon the manifestations of the spiritual principle; for by drawing the agency of Omnipotence from the shadowy wand of superstition, His perfect knowledge and holy operations are vindicated from the unhallowed creations of moralists, and the influence of the word and spirit of God is for ever separated from the corruptions of the flesh. If we hold differently, we must conceive that God is continually working miracles in vain. Hence it is better to yield assent to an hypothesis, which explains many phenomena and reconciles many difficulties, and vindicates the righteous Governor of the universe, than to adopt another mode of argument which assumes every thing, but defines and explains nothing-which is involved in inextricable difficulty, which throws a cloud over the moral government of the Creator and Preserver, which is opposed to reason, and not sanctioned by experience.

* A weil-authenticated fact relating to this subject appeared sometime since in one of the Medical Journals. A bricklayer's labourer fell from a scaffold, and was taken to the

This mode of argument is not chargeable with a sceptical tendency, but on the contrary, by separating truth from error, by defining physical influence and distinguishing it from spiritual agency, and by placing the offspring of superstitious impression at an immeasurable distance from the operations of the Holy Spirit, and of the providence of God, it tends to vindicate His moral government-to fix our faith, and hope,

hospital in a state of insensibility from concussion of the brain received in his fall. After several weeks, he gradually recovered the use of his senses; but what was the astonishment of the inmates of the ward and his friends, to find that, instead of speaking English as he had always done before his accident, he spoke an “unknown tongue no one could understand himn. In this state he existed for several weeks, puzzling alike nurses, dressers, apothecaries, and physicians : at last however a Welsh milkwoman came to see a relation in the same ward, and to the surprise of all, it was found that she could interpret the strange language of the patient. 'Upon further investigation, it was found that the unknown tongue was Welsh-that ihe milkwoman could speak that language, being like the bricklayer, a native of that couutry; and that the effect of the concussion had been, totally to destroy a more recently acquired language, leaving the faculty of speaking the mother tongue still in the possession of the Welshman. After acquiring English the second time, the poor man left the hospital in a state of convalescence. This fact is well known to the members of the medical pro. fession, and can be attested by the principal metropolitan physicians.

Vol. II.-July, 1835.


and confidence, and love, on the only secure resting-place for a conscious sinner.

With these views how important ought to be the care in education to provide for the general health of the pupil; and how narrowly ought all directions to be watched and regulated to ensure correct moral and mental manifestations. Great care should be taken in early life not to excite the brain too much. Health and strength and peace of mind are often sacrificed at the shrine of parental vanity, in the desire after precocious talent for their children; and thus is produced a state favourable for the creation of those hallucinations that often end in absolute insanity. On the other hand, the physical powers should be equally developed with the mental ones. Instead of children being shut up six or eight hours per day, in abstruse studies, and without muscular exertion, which lays the foundation of those numerous nervous diseases so common now-a-days in the middle and upper classes among females, they should be allowed to play, to romp, to take fatiguing exercise in the open air; and above all things be kept from the reading of those works of interesting fiction-religious novels, remarkable incidents of conversion, which develope what phrenologists would call the organs of marvellousness and ideality. The mischief arising from such development is incalculable; and its impression is probably never lost; but is revived in after life, and forms a groundwork of superstition and of false notions of men and things, as well as of that feebleness and irritability of brain which leads them to put constructions upon coincidences, pay regard to seeming omens, look at dreams as the forerunners of evil, and believe in spiritual visitations, beatific visions, and all those hallucinations of the mind which render life miserable and them fools of nature.

Let the young rather be taught that God willeth nothing evil; that if we put our affairs into his hands, and have faith in his love and regard for his us, the Holy Spirit, which he denies to none, will encompass him and guard him “from the arrow that flieth by day” and in the darkness of night; that the teachings of that Spirit will lead him into all truth; that its comforting presence will never fail him in the severest troubles of life, while it continues to be looked up to with humble confidence and devout trust; that before the throne of the Most High, a great High Priest, Advocate, and Intercessor, who was partaker of his infirmities, yet without sin, exists, who has now entered within the veil, there to plead for the errors of his people, and to redeem them from that physical and moral evil which is the consequence of man's disobedience.



From the earliest sensible period of my existence, I have always advocated the cause of those who, from various accidental circumstances, over which they have no control, have ever been the unfortunate victims of the capricious haughtiness, or more deliberate oppression of their accidentally superior, though in all moral virtues inferior, fellow-creatures. I look back with infinite pleasure to my boyhood days at Eton School, when I recollect how often I was engaged mentally and bodily in resisting the petty tyrant, and establishing in that juvenile world, a system of moral and humane conduct towards the lower boys. In that little world, for Eton averaged upwards of six hundred boys, the opposition of our evil nature to legislation of a philanthropic tendency, was as distinctly seen and wrought out, as in the community of a nation at large. Let us, however, freely indulge a rational hope, that the time is drawing 'near when the full radiance of the millennial days of humane laws, and equal justice, shall attain to its meridian height above the British realms, for already the clear dawning light that has reared itself above the horizon, gives ample and gratifying token of a gradual and glorious ascension. I am the friend and champion of the poor man's cause, but not of the poor man's pride. I am the decided and uncompromising enemy of the rich man's usurpation, but not, when plainly apparent, of his lowliness of mind. For I am the friend or enemy, distinctively, of the effects of a system more than its cause -it is the pride and pomp of wealth as its effect, and the humility of poverty, as its effect, that I reprobate or esteem. Not, but that often, in order to remove effects detrimental to the social interests of man, we must annihilate or alter the cause; but again, it is often the abuse of the cause, more than its existence, that is fraught with glaring mischief. I mean merely to say, that we may diminish unhappy effects by giving a proper direction to an existing cause, in some cases more beneficially than by destroying the cause; yet, let us bear in mind, that this reasoning applies fully only to individual cases, but that the safest and most effective principle whereon to act as to a general malversation of an existing cause, is largely to moderate, if not annihilate, the cause at once. For example-if I were to become possessed of a large property, I should, with my present disposition, spend that property wholly in alleviating local causes of distress and ignorance, and in promoting the wider benefits of general charity, and humane improvement. I should prefer being the friend of the poor, and searching out the cause that cannot be known until it is searched out, to any alliance with the indolence or luxury of the rich, to any systemi or order of life, which would take me from the stroll in the fashionable street, or any other kind of wearisome inanity, only to sit down to the table of, or with, my rich acquaintance; and perhaps from that to arise to the midnight ball

, the very assembly of all others which is essentially aristocratic, and hurtful to the spread of moral, social, and religious feelings. But I should know myself, in so doing, to be a

"e vol. i. p. 100, &c. of “Strictures on Female Education," By Hannah More.

« AnteriorContinuar »