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THE METHOD



THE DIVIM GOVERNMENT,

PHYSICAL AND MORAL



BT

JAMES M'COSH, LLD.,

FBBSIDBHT OF THB COLLBOB 01* NBW-JBBSEY, PBIHCETOV.



NEW-YORK :
ROBERT CARTER & BROTHERS,

No. 630 BROADWAY.



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" That to the height of this great argument
I may assert Eternal Providence,
And justify the ways of God to men."

Milton's Pabasise Lost.



PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION.

We live in an age in which the reflecting portion of mankind
are much addicted to the contemplation of the works of nature.
It is the object of the author, in this Treatise, to " interrogate
nature," with the view of inducing her to utter her voice in
answer to some of the most momentous questions which the
inquiring spirit of man can put.

He thinks it needful to state, thus early, that he proceeds on
the inductive method in his inquiry, and not, on the one hand,
after the plan of those British Kationalists, who set out with
a preconceived system, which they dignify with the name of
Rational, and then accommodate all that they see to it ; nor, on
the other hand, of those German Intuitionalists, who boast that
they can construct the existing universe by d priori speculation.

To guard against misapprehension, he wishes it to be under-
stood, that he treats in this book of the Method of the Divine
Government in the world, rather than in the Church ; of the
ordinary providence of God, rather than his extraordinary deal-
ings towards his redeemed people.

The reader of severe taste will be inclined to regard the In-
troductory Book as too loose and discursive ; and all the apology
that the author has to offer is, that he was afraid of driving
back the general reader, by leading him into theminutiaa before
he had contemplated nature under its general aspect.

The general reader, on the other hand, may be disposed to
complain, that the style of discussion followed in some of the
Sections and Notes of the Second and Third Books, is of too
abstruse a character. He has to justify himself to such, by
stating, that he did not feel at liberty, in such an age as this to



Vi PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION.

avoid grappling with any of the difBculties which fell in hia
way, and that he has attempted, by the principles of a deeper
philosophy, to confute the wrong conclusions drawn by a super-
ficial i)hilo8ophy. He has so constructed his work, that the
general reader may pass over the more abstract portions (as, for
instance, some of the Illustrative Notes) without losing the traiu
of argument.

It is due to the memory of the late Dr. Chalmers to acknow-
ledge, that had not the author enjoyed the inestimable privilege
of sitting for four or five sessions at the feet of this illustrious
man, in the University of Edinburgh, he would, in all probability,
never have had his thoughts directed in the train which he has
followed, and have been without the spirit which he has sought
to cultivate, as he would certainly have been without not a few of
the principles which he has carried along with him in his inves-
tigations. It is with no feeling of presumption that he thinks it
proper to add, that did he not imagine that he has some truth
to communicate, not contained in the works of Dr. Chalmers,
he should not have obtruded himself on the public notice, as it
could never have occurred to him, that he was able to state the
ideas of his eloquent preceptor so clearly or impressively as he
has done himself, in his writings now so extensively circulated.

He has to acknowledge his obligations to Principal Cunning-
ham, to Professor Buchanan, and to the Rev. Dr. Hanna, for the
kind encouragement which they gave him to proceed with this
work, when submitted to them for their counsel ; as also to the
two last-mentioned gentlemen and the Rev. John Mackenzie,
Katho, for their judicious assistance in overlooking the sheets as
they passed through the press.

Bbechik January 1850.



PREFACE TO FOURTH EDITION.

In preparing this edition, the author has subjected the work
to a thorough revision. His aim has been to leave out all that is
of temporary, and to retain only what is of permanent interest.
Without sensibly increasing the volume, he has introduced new
discussions on topics of some importance, both in their theolo-
gical and philosophical bearings.

As being in circumstances to support them by a large body
of facts, he has given in Book Second an epitome of his views
and published observations in regard to the forms and colours
of plants.

In the Third Book, in consequence of having attained, by
farther reflection, clearer views of some ethical points, he has
modified some of the statements of former editions.

In the Appendix he has reluctantly felt it to be his duty to
venture a protest against certain principles set forth by the
greatest metaphysicians of the age.

Bbuast, May 1856.



PREFATORY NOTE TO EIGHTH EDITION.

The work is substantially the same as it was in the Fourth
Edition; but here and there in the later editions the author
has referred to errors which have appeared within the last few
years, and has also noticed the exceptions taken to certain
doctrines of the volume by several eminent men, such as Dr.
Mansel and Professor Goldwin Smith. He begs to refer those
T^ho might wish to see a professedly more thorough discussion
of the philosophical principles involved in the argument of
this treatise to TJie Intuitions of the Mind Inductively Investi-
gated; wliile those who may desire to look into a fuller ex-
position of the order and design in the world will find it
in Typical Forms and Special Ends in Creation. The appli-
cation of tiie views on God's natural Providence, expounded
in this volume, to the supernatural government of God, may
be seen in The Supernatural in relation to the Natural, recently
published.



CONTENTS.



BOOK FIRST.



QENERAL VIEW OF THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT AS FITTED TO THROW
LIGHT ON THE CHARACTEPv OF GOD.

CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTION.

PAOI

Section I. — The Different Classes of Objects from which we derive our

Idea of God, ........ 1

Sect. II. — Object of the Treatise ; Investigation of the Providence of
God, and the Conscience of man, or the External and Internal
Government of God, ... ... 18



CHAPTER IL

GENERAL ASPECT OF THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT ; PHENOMENA PRE-
SENTED BY THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD AND THE CONSCIENCE OJ
MAN, THOUGH COMMONLY OVERLOOKED.



Sect. I. — Phenomena often omitted — The Existence of Extensive Suffer-
ing, Bodily and Mental, .....
Sect. II. — The Restraints and Penalties of Divine Providence, .
Sect. III. — The Alienation of God from Man,
Sect. IV. — The Alienation of Man from God,

Illustrative Note (a). — The Religious History of Mankind,
Sect V. — Schism in the Human Soul, ....



26
86
40
44
48
64



X CONTENTS.

CHAPTER ra.

THE ACTUAL WORLD, AND THE VIEW WHICH IT GIVES OF ITS

GOVERNOR.

FAOt

Bbut. I. — Particular Review of the Five Phenomena before specified, . 67

Bkct. II. — Other General Phenomena, fitted to throw Light on the Con-
dition of the World, ....... 66



BOOK SECOND.

PIBTICULAR INQUIRY INTO THE METHOD OF THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT
IN THE PHYSICAL WORLD.

CHAPTER I.

GENERAL LAWS ; OR, THE PRINCIPLE OF ORDER.

SxOT. I. — DifiFerent things denoted by the Phrase "Laws of Nature;"

Properties of -Matter, Causes, and General Laws, ... 75

8bct. II. — Adjustment of the Material Substances, with their Properties,

to each other, ....... 86

Beot. hi. — Special Adjustments required in order to produce General

Laws or Results, ....... 99

Illustbative Note (n). — Laws of Phenomena, Causes of Phe-
nomena, Conditions of the Operation of Causes — Review of
Whewell, ....... 107

Sect. IV. — AVlsdom displayed in the Prevalence of General Laws, and
observable Order m the World — Correspondence of External Nature
to the Constitution of Man, .....

Illcstuative Note (c). — Difference between Philosophical Ob
servation and Practical Sagacity ; Relation of Science and
Art, .......

Sect. V. — Connexion of God with his Works,

Bscr. VI — Infinite Power and Wisdom required to Govern a World so
constituted, .......

6bct. Vll. — Unity of the Mundane System ; Limits to Natural Law,



111



139
141

149
151



CHAPTER n.

PROVIDENCE ; OR, THE PRINCIPLE OF SPECIAL ADAPTATION.

Bajr. I. — Complication of Nature resulting in Fortuities, . . 158

Illustbative Note (d). — Phenomena classified according as
they are more or less complicated; Review of the Positive
Philosophy of M. Aug. Comte, .... 164



CONTENTS. XI

Sbot. n. — Purposes served by the Complication and Fortuities of Nature, 168

Sect III. — On a General and Particular Providence, . . . 181

Illustrative Note (e). — Combe's Constitution of Man, . 187

Sect IV. — Method of Interpreting the Divine Providence, . . 189
Sect. V. — Practical Influence of the various Views which may be taken

of Divine Providence — Atheism, Pantheism, Superstition, True Faith, 207

Sect. VI. — Method of answering Prayer, and furthering Spiritual Ends, 216

CHAPTER ILL

RELATION OF THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD TO THE CHARACTER OF MAN.

Sect. I. — General Remarks on the Relation of the Physical to the Moral

Providence of God, ....... 227

Sect. II. — Aids to Virtue and Restraints upon Vice, . . . 229

Sect. III. — Arrangements needful to the stability of the Social System, 234
Sbct. IV. — State of Society when the Aids to Virtue and the Restraints

upon Vice are withdrawn, ...... 241

Sect. V. — Adaptation of this world to Man, considered as a Fallen Being, 249
Sbct. VI. — Explanation of the Mysteries of Divine Providence, furnished

by the Sinfulness of Man's Character, .... 267



BOOK THIRD.

PABTICULAR INQUIRY INTO THE PRINCIPLES OF THE HUMAN MIND
THROUGH WHICH GOD GOVERNS MANKIND.

CHAPTER I.
man's ORIGINAL AND INDESTRUCTIBLE MORAL NATURE.

Sect. I. — ^The Will, or the Optative Faculty — Conditions of Responsibility, 263

Sect. II. — Freedom and Responsibility compatible with the Causal Con-
nexion of God with his Works, ..... 271

Sect. III. — Distinctions to be attended to in Ethical Inquiry, . . 286

Illustrative Note (f). — Method of Inquiry in Ethical Science, 28fl

Sect. IV. — Inquiry into the Nature of Conscience, or the Mental Faculty
or Feeling which recognises and reveals the Distinction between
Right and Wrong, ... ... 291

Sect. V. — Qualities which must meet in Morally Right Action on the

part of Man, ........ 307

Sect. VI. — Practical Rule to be followed in determining what is Good

and Evil, ........ 324

Sect. VII.— Tendency of Virtuous Action, . . . ,326

Sxcr. VIII. — General View of Man's Original Moral Constitution, as illus-
trative of the Character of God, .....



Online LibraryJames McCoshThe method of the divine government : physical and moral → online text (page 1 of 60)