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there can be no question that it must be also innate to every one else. Now, it so happens that the ideas of other men, in different parts of the world, wander from his own idea as far as the north pole from the south. There are some barbarians, we are told, so benighted as to have no idea of a God at all. Such, as Mr. Marsden, His Majesty's principal chaplain in New South Wales, informs us, are the very barbarous aboriginal tribes of that vast settlement. “ They have no knowledge,” says he, “ of any religion, false or true.” There are others, whose idea of a God has only been formed in the midst of gloom and terror; and who hence, with miserable ignorance, represent him, in their wooden idols, under the ugliest and most hideous character their gross imagination can suggest. Atheism, in the strictest sense of the term, is at this moment, and has been for nearly a thousand years at least, the established belief of the majority, or, rather, of the whole Burman empire ; the fundamental doctrine of whose priesthood consists in a denial that there is any
such power as an eternal independent essence in the universe; and that at this moment there is any God whatever; Gaudama, their last Boodh, or deity, having, by his meritorious deeds, long since reached the supreme good of Nigbar, or annihilation; which is the only ultimate reward in reserve for the virtuous among mankind*; while the ideas of the
* The most authentic account of the tenets of Boodhism which have of late years been communicated to the world, are those furnished by Mr. Judson, an American missionary, who for ten or twelve years was stationary at Rangoon or Ava, acquired an accurate knowledge of the Burman and Pali, or vulgar and sacred tongue, and translated the whole of the
wisest philosophers of Greece appear to have fallen far short of the bright exemplar of M. Des Cartes.
That Des Cartes himself was possessed of this idea at the time he wrote, no man can have any doubt; but what proof have we that he possessed it
New Testament into the former. His very interesting account of the mission of himself and his colleagues, as well as of the national creed of this extraordinary people, is to be found in his correspondence with the American Baptist Missionary Board, as also in “ An Account of the American Baptist Mission to the Burman Empire, in a Series of Letters, addressed to a Gentleman in London, by A. H. Judson, 8vo. Lond. 1823.” The whole universe, according to the principles of Boodhism, is governed by fate, which has no more essential existence than chance. A Boodh, or god, is occasionally produced, and appears on earth, the last of whom was Gaudama. But gods and men must equally follow the law or order of fate : they must die, and they must suffer in a future state according to the sins they have committed on earth; and, when this penance has been completed, they reach alike the supreme good of Nigbar, or utter annihilation.
Gaudama, their last deity, many hundred years ago reached this state of final beatitude, and another deity is soon expected to make his appearance. An eternal self-existent being is, in the opinion of the Boodhists, an utter impossibility, and they hear of such a doctrine with horror. When Mr. Judson had obtained an audience of the Burman emperor in his palace at Ava, to solicit protection and toleration, his petition was first read; and then a little tract, containing the chief doctrines of Christianity, printed in the Burman tongue, put into the Emperor's hands. “ He held the tract,” says Mr. Judson, “ long enough to read the two first sentences, which assert that there is one eternal God, who is independent of the incidents of mortality; and that, beside him, there is no god; and then, with an air of indifference, perhaps of disdain, he dashed it down to the ground. - Our fate was decided.” — Id. p. 231.
INNATELY? and that he found it among the ORIGINAL FURNITURE OF HIS MIND?
In like manner, he tells us, that his knowledge of Matter is derived from the same unerring source; that its idea exists within him, and that this idea represents it to be an extended substance, without any other quality, and embracing space as a part of itself. Now, if such an idea appertained naturally to him, it must, in like manner, appertain naturally to every one. Let me, then, ask the audience I have the honour of addressing, whether the same notion has ever presented itself, as it necessarily ought to have done, to the minds of every one or of any one before me? and whether they seriously believe that SPACE is a part of MATTER? So far from it, that I much question whether even the meaning of the position is universally understood: while, with respect to those by whom it is understood, I have a decided conviction it is not assented to; and that they would even apprehend some trick had been played upon them if they should find it in their minds. The good father Malebranche, as excellent a Cartesian as ever lived, and who possessed withal quite mysticism enough to have succeeded Plato, upon his death, and turned Xenocrates out of the chair, suspected that tricks like these are perpetually played upon us. For he openly tells us, in his Recherche de la Vérité, that ever since the fall, Satan has been making such sad work with our senses, both external and internal, that we can only rectify ourselves by a vigorous determination to doubt of every thing, after the tried and approved Cartesian recipe ; and if a man, says he, has only learned to doubt, let him not imagine that he has made an inconsiderable progress. And, for this purpose, he recommends retirement from the world, a solitary cell, and a long course of penitence and water-gruel: after which our innate ideas, he tells us, will rise up before us at a glance: our senses, which were at first as honest faculties as one could desire to be acquainted with, till debauched in their adventure with original sin, will no longer be able to cheat us, we shall see into the whole process of transubstantiation, and though we behold nothing in matter, we shall behold all things in God.
It may, perhaps, be conceived that I treat the subject before us somewhat too flippantly or too cavalierly. It is not, however, the subject before us that I thus treat, but the hypothesis ; and, in truth, it is the only mode in which I feel myself able to treat it at all; for I could as soon be serious over the “ Loves of the Plants,” or “ The Battle of the Frogs.” And I must here venture to extend the remark a little further, and to add, that there is but one hypothesis amidst all those that yet remain to be examined, that I shall be able to treat in any other manner; for, excepting in this one, there is not a whit of superiority that I can discover in any of them; and the one I refer to, though I admit its imperfections in various points, is that of our own enlightened countryman, Mr. Locke. I may, perhaps, be laughed at in my turn, and certainly should be so, if I were as far over the Tweed as over the Thames, and be told that I am at least half a century behind the times. Yet, by your permission, I shall dare the laugh, and endeavour, at least, to put merriment against merriment; and shall leave it to
yourselves to determine, after a full and impartial hearing, who has the best claim to be pleasant. So that the study of metaphysics may not, perhaps, appear quite so gloomy and repugnant as the writings of some philosophers would represent it. If it have its gravity, it may also be found to have its gaiety as well; and to prove that there is no science in which it better becomes us to adopt the maxim of the poet, and to
Laugh where we may, be serious where we can,