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3 Quarterly Journal
RELIGIOUS THOUGHT AND LIFE.
VOL. XIV. Nos. LVI.-LIX.
WILLIAMS AND NORGATE,
14, HENRIETTA STREET, COVENT GARDEN, LONDON;
MANCHESTER JOHNSON & RAWSON, 89, MARKET STREET.
No. LVI-JANUARY, 1877.
I. THE TRUE IDEA OF DIVINE KOSMOS.
ALTHOUGH I hold the evolution of thought in human history to be rationally continuous and progressive, with no really absolute contradictions between the stages of belief, yet it would be idle to deny that the discoveries of physiology are likely to prove little short of revolutionary in their effect on orthodox and ordinary notions about such subjects as Free Will, Responsibility, the nature of Moral Evil, and its relation to God. "The last acquired faculty in the progress of human evolution," says Dr. Maudsley, "conscience is the first to suffer when disease invades the mental organization." "Conscience is a function of organization-the highest and most delicate function of the highest and most complete development thereof." One may object to this mode of expression; still the fact it endeavours to express cannot be explained away. The writer is a high authority in regard to insanity; and in reading his works I think the general impression derived is, that you can with difficulty distinguish between cases of insane criminality, and cases of criminality not usually regarded as insane. Indeed, on p. 26 of his "Responsibility in Mental Disease," he virtually says this. Moral insanity is counted by our best medical authorities as disease quite as much as intellectual insanity. What Dr. Maudsley says of the cruelty of our treatment of the insane till quite lately is very striking, and he no doubt explains the causes correctly. The lower animals and some savages evince the · VOL. XIV.
same antipathy and cruelty toward any of their number who fall sick. So in madness we cannot but feel that a man, being alienated from himself and his kind, is something of a reproach to the nature of humanity. "At bottom this might seem to be a curious evidence of the law of natural selection, whereby a diseased member that is unfitted for the natural functions of its kind, is instinctively extruded from companionship.' Indignation, punishment, especially capital, is the form in which the law of survival of the fittest, and extrusion of the evil, directly reveals itself in human feeling. But pity, and desire to improve or cure, work out the same law in a higher manner. Yet while especially careful not to sacrifice the higher human virtues of mercy and generosity, we ought not to neglect the physical methods of race-improvement which Nature points out by her laws. But if the nervous organization (essentially connected as that is with all the other corporeal functions) have been slowly built up through past ages, and if the functions of the spiritual self be (at all events, here in our earthly life) indissolubly related to this organization, as all investigation tends to make increasingly evident, then immoral and unrighteous conduct must be essentially related to what may be termed disease or insanity of the higher nervous cerebral centres, and perhaps to that of the body in general-except where it is owing to the imperfect and comparatively recent organization of these centres, which prevents their energizing firmly, uniformly, automatically. This, far from being an unmoral doctrine, is the very contrary. For physiologists recognize sin as disease, in-sanity, dis-order; as itself, together with intellectual madness, though unreason, yet subject to intelligible and reasonable causation; as largely curable when the laws that govern it are understood, curable by moral and mental no less than by physical means; finally, as a station on the line of progress. That sin is a madness is in fact the most moral, and, in the profound sense, theological, doctrine possible. "He from himself is ta'en away." Esquirol declared that "moral alienation is the proper characteristic of mental derangement." Dr. Maudsley indeed founds a distinction between