« ZurückWeiter »
spirits between the heart and brain, that are so closely connected by their nerves; and if such effects may be produced by such simple mechanical means as the mere increase o motion in the blood, without
direction of the will, we are not to wonder at the actions of bruies being the effects only ot'a refined mechanism, without thought or perception. 5. A farther proof will arise from a consider- ation of the many wonderful effects which even the ingenuity of men has contrived to bring about by mechanical means; the audroide, for instance, of Mr.'Kempell, which plays at chess. Now, it is not to be questioned, but that the mechanism of the body of the meanest animal infinitely surpasses that of Mr. Kempell's machine; and what can be the consequence of this, but that the actions of that animal must be proportionally more surprising than those of the wooden chessplayer ?
The above is a short abstract of all the arguments that are brought in favour of the Cartesian system: but they are evidenily very far from being conclusive.
The most rational opposers of the Cartesian scheme maintain that, brutes are endowed with a principle ofensation as well as we; though of an inferior nature to ours. Great
disputes, however, have arisen on this subject; some maintaining that,the souls of brutes are merely sensitive, and that they are altogether destitute of reflection and understanding; others, that they not only reason,but make a better u e of it than man do. That the brutes are endowed only with sensation, and totally destitute of all power of reflection, or even reasoning, is what can by no means be maintained on good grounds; neither can it be asserted that they can act entirely from instinct, or a blind propensity to certain things, without knowing why or wherefore. In numberless instances,needless to be mentioned here, but which will readily occur to every reader, it is evident, that education will get the better of many of the instincts of brutes; which could never be the case were they absolutely incapable of reasoning. On the other hand, it is equally certain, that they are by no means capable of education in the same degree that men are; neither are the rational exertions of beasts at all to be compared even with those of the meanest savages. One remarkable of this is in the use of the element of fire. The most most savage nations have known how to make this element subservient to their purposes; or, if some have been found who have been entirely ige
norant of its existence, they have quickly learned its uses on seeing it made use of by. others.: but though many of the brute creatures are delighted with warmth, and have opportunities every day of seeing how fire is supplied with fuel, and by that means preserved, it never was known that one of them attempted to preserve a fire by this means. This shows a strange defeet of rationality, unaccountable upon any
supposition than that the soul or sentient principle of brutes is some how or other inferior in its nature to that of man; but still it is a sentient principle, capable of perceptions as quick, and in many instances much more so than our
Father Bougeant supports his opinion of the spirits of brute creatures being devils in the following manner: Having proved at large that beasts naturally have understanding, “ Reason (says he) naturally inclines us to believe that beasts have a spiritual soul; and the only thing that opposes this sentiment is, the consequences that might be inferred from it. If brutes have a soul, that that soul must be either matter or spirit; it must be one of the two, and yet you dare affirm neither. You dare not
You dare not say it is matter, because you must then necessarily suppose
matter to be capable of thinking; nor will you say that it is spirit, this opinion bringing with it consequences contrary to the principles of religion; and this, among others, that man would differ from beasts only by the de- ; grees of plus and minus, [more and less] which would demolish the very foundation of all religion.* Therefore, if I can elude all these consequences; if I can assign to beasts a spiritual soul, without striking at the doctrines of religion; it is evident, that my system, being the most agreeable to reason, is the only warrant able hypothesis
. Now I shall, and can do it, with the greatest ease imaginable. I even have means, by the same method, to explain many obscure passages
in the Holy Scriptures, and to resolve some very great difficulties which are not well confuted. This we shall unfold in a more particular manner.
* This reasoning is absurd. Why not the souls of brutes differ in degrees of plus and MINUS from the souls of men in heaven, as well as their bodies on earth, which we have already shown in the scale of gradation from the Great Creator of the universe, to the least animalcule?- We are told there are different orders and degrees of angels in heaven ministering before the Throne of God. And we are also told there will be different degrees of happiness appointed for the saints and martyrs who have sealed the cause with their blood.
Religion teaches ys, that the devils, from the very moment they had sinned, were reprobate, and that they were doomed to burn for ever in hell ; but the church has not yet determined whether they do actually endure the torments to which they are condemned. It may then be thought that they do not yet suffer them, and that the execution of the verdict brought against them is reserved for the day of the final judgment.--Now what I pretend to infer from hence is,that,till doomsday comes, God, in order not to suffer so many legions of reprobate spirits to be of no use, has distributed them through the several places of the world, to serve ihe designs of his Providence, and make his omnipoicice to appear. Some continuing in their natural state, busy themselves in templing men,in seducing and tormenting them; either immediately, as Job's devil, and those that lay hold of human bodies; or by the ministry of sorcerers or phantoms. These wicked spirits are those whom the scripture calls the powers of darkness, or the powers of the air." God, with the others, makes millions of beasts of all kinds, which serve for the uses of men, which fill the universe, and cause the wisdom and omnipotence of the Creator to be admired. By that means I can easily conceive, on