The Abasement Of Nebuchadnezzar -- By: Edward M. Merrins

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 062:248 (Oct 1905)
Article: The Abasement Of Nebuchadnezzar
Author: Edward M. Merrins


The Abasement Of Nebuchadnezzar

Edward M. Merrins

The inquiry into the nature of the human understanding— the powers thereof, how far they reach, to what things they are in any degree proportionate, and where they fail us—has made some progress since the time of Locke, but it is nowhere near its end. The physiologist has caught barely a glimpse of the ultimate elements and activities involved in consciousness, and the psychologist discerns only as through a glass darkly the deep principles and springs of human conduct. The problems presented by life and conduct which are abnormal, are even more obscure and baffling. Consequently, in the examination of mental disorder, questions arise which must be considered, although, at present, no satisfactory answer can be given to them.

In the first place, what is insanity? The insane, like the poor, are always with us, and yet no one has succeeded in framing a definition applicable to every case where the soundness of the mind is in question. “Distinguished philosophers, experienced physicians and psychologists, accurate and profound logicians, have in vain attempted to analyse, unveil, and -penetrate into the hidden nature of this disease with a view

of discovering a key to its accurate definition, and all have signally failed.” There is no normal human standard. According to English law, it is a criminal act to publish maliciously that any person is afflicted with insanity, since it imputes to him a malady generally inducing mankind to shun his society; but it is not libelous to say that a man is not of sound mind, because no one is of perfectly sound mind but the Deity. We are obliged, therefore, to fall back on the general and practical rule, that, as long as a man retains the power of regulating his actions and conduct in accordance with the ordinary rules of society, he must be regarded as sane. It is only when the individual, from perversion of reason, shows a disposition to commit acts which may endanger his life and property, or the lives and properties of others, that the law interferes for the man’s own protection and for that of society. There is the same indefiniteness at the other end of the scale. While, in the worst forms of insanity, there is almost an entire deprivation of reason, many of the insane are quite conscious of their actions in general, and are able to reason upon their feelings and impressions. But the main difficulty lies with the mental states ranging between perfect sanity and unmistakable insanity. There are no exact lines of demarcation between them, as the descent is by an inclined plane as it were, not by sharply defined steps. Thus the transition from

“The grief without a pang, void, dark, and drear,

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