Literary Remains (1)
Part 6 out of 6
the faculty of choice, ('Willkuehr'), and
(distinct both from the moral will, and the choice),
the sensation of volition which I have found reason to include under the
head of single and double touch.
Thence I propose to make a new arrangement of madness, whether as
defect, or as excess, of any of these senses or faculties; and thus by
appropriate cases to shew the difference between;--
1. a man having lost his reason but not his senses or
understanding--that is, when he sees things as other men see
them,--adapts means to ends as other men would adapt them, and not
seldom, with more sagacity,--but his final end is altogether irrational:
2. his having lost his wits, that is, his understanding or judicial
power; but not his reason or the use of his senses,--(such was Don
Quixote; and, therefore, we love and reverence him, while we despise
3. his being out of his senses, as in the case of a hypochondriac, to
whom his limbs appear to be of glass, although all his conduct is both
rational, or moral, and prudent:
4. Or the case may be a combination of all three, though I doubt the
existence of such a case, or of any two of them:
5. And lastly, it may be merely such an excess of sensation, as
overpowers and suspends all, which is frenzy or raving madness.
A diseased state of an organ of sense, or of the inner organs connected
with it, will perpetually tamper with the understanding, and unless
there be an energetic and watchful counter-action of the judgment (of
which I have known more than one instance, in which the comparing and
reflecting judgment has obstinately, though painfully, rejected the full
testimony of the senses,) will finally overpower it. But when the organ
is obliterated, or totally suspended, then the mind applies some other
organ to a double use. Passing through Temple Sowerby, in Westmorland,
some ten years back, I was shewn a man perfectly blind; and blind from
his infancy. Fowell was his name. This man's chief amusement was fishing
on the wild and uneven banks of the River Eden, and up the different
streams and tarns among the mountains. He had an intimate friend,
likewise stone blind, a dexterous card player, who knows every gate and
stile far and near throughout the country. These two often coursed
together, and the people here, as every where, fond of the marvellous,
affirm that they were the best beaters up of game in the whole country.
The every way amiable and estimable John Gough of Kendal is not only an
excellent mathematician, but an infallible botanist and zoologist. He
has frequently at the first feel corrected the mistakes of the most
experienced sportsman with regard to the birds or vermin which they had
killed, when it chanced to be a variety or rare species so completely
resembling the common one, that it required great steadiness of
observation to detect the difference, even after it had been pointed
out. As to plants and flowers, the rapidity of his touch appears fully
equal to that of sight; and the accuracy greater. Good heavens! it needs
only to look at him! Why his face sees all over! It is all one eye! I
almost envied him; for the purity and excellence of his own nature,
never broken in upon by those evil looks, (or features, which are looks
become fixtures), with which low cunning, habitual cupidity,
presumptuous sciolism, and heart-hardening vanity, coarsen the human
face,--it is the mere stamp, the undisturbed 'ectypon' of his own soul!
Add to this that he is a Quaker, with all the blest negatives, without
any of the silly and factious positives, of that sect, which, with all
its bogs and hollows, is still the prime sun-shine spot of Christendom
in the eye of the true philosopher. When I was in Germany in the year
1798, I read at Hanover, and met with two respectable persons, one a
clergyman, the other a physician, who confirmed to me, the account of
the upper-stall master at Hanover, written by himself, and countersigned
by all his medical attendants. As far as I recollect, he had fallen from
his horse on his head, and in consequence of the blow lost both his
sight and hearing for nearly three years, and continued for the greater
part of this period in a state of nervous fever. His understanding,
however, remained unimpaired and unaffected, and his entire
consciousness, as to outward impressions, being confined to the sense of
touch, he at length became capable of reading any book (if printed, as
most German books are, on coarse paper) with his fingers, in much the
same manner in which the 'piano-forte' is played, and latterly with an
almost incredible rapidity. Likewise by placing his hand with the
fingers all extended, at a small distance from the lips of any person
that spoke slowly and distinctly to him, he learned to recognize each
letter by its different effects on his nerves, and thus spelt the words
as they were uttered. It was particularly noticed both by himself from
his sensations, and by his medical attendants from observation, that the
letter R, if pronounced full and strong, and recurring once or more in
the same word, produced a small spasm, or twitch in his hand and
fingers. At the end of three years he recovered both his health and
senses, and with the necessity soon lost the power, which he had thus
[Footnote 1: See Church and State. Appendix, p. 231. Ed.]
[Footnote 2: This phrase, 'a priori', is, in common, most grossly
misunderstood, and an absurdity burthened on it which it does not
deserve. By knowledge 'a priori', we do not mean that we can know any
thing previously to experience, which would be a contradiction in terms;
but having once known it by occasion of experience (that is, something
acting upon us from without) we then know, that it must have
pre-existed, or the experience itself would have been impossible. By
experience only I know, that I have eyes; but then my reason convinces
me, that I must have had eyes in order to the experience.]
SIR GEORGE ETHEREGE, ETC.
Often and often had I read Gay's 'Beggar's Opera', and always delighted
with its poignant wit and original satire, and if not without noticing
its immorality, yet without any offence from it. Some years ago, I for
the first time saw it represented in one of the London theatres; and
such were the horror and disgust with which it impressed me, so grossly
did it outrage all the best feelings of my nature, that even the angelic
voice, and perfect science of Mrs. Billington, lost half their charms,
or rather increased my aversion to the piece by an additional sense of
incongruity. Then I learned the immense difference between reading and
seeing a play;--and no wonder, indeed; for who has not passed over with
his eye a hundred passages without offence, which he yet could not have
even read aloud, or have heard so read by another person, without an
inward struggle?--In mere passive silent reading the thoughts remain
mere thoughts, and these too not our own,--phantoms with no attribute of
place, no sense of appropriation, that flit over the consciousness as
shadows over the grass or young corn in an April day. But even the sound
of our own or another's voice takes them out of that lifeless, twilight,
realm of thought, which is the confine, the 'intermundium', as it were,
of existence and non-existence. Merely that the thoughts have become
audible by blending with them a sense of outness gives them a sort of
reality. What then,--when by every contrivance of scenery, appropriate
dresses, according and auxiliary looks and gestures, and the variety of
persons on the stage, realities are employed to carry the imitation of
reality as near as possible to perfect delusion?
If a manly modesty shrinks from uttering an indecent phrase before a
wife or sister in a private room, what must be the effect when a
repetition of such treasons (for all gross and libidinous allusions are
emphatically treasons against the very foundations of human society,
against all its endearing charities, and all the mother virtues,) is
hazarded before a mixed multitude in a public theatre? When every
innocent woman must blush at once with pain at the thoughts she rejects,
and with indignant shame at those, which the foul hearts of others may
attribute to her!
Thus too with regard to the comedies of Wycherly, Vanburgh, and
Etherege, I used to please myself with the flattering comparison of the
manners universal at present among all classes above the lowest with
those of our ancestors even of the highest ranks. But if for a moment I
think of those comedies as having been acted, I lose all sense of
comparison in the shame, that human nature could at any time have
endured such outrages to its dignity; and if conjugal affection and the
sweet name of sister were too weak, that yet filial piety, the gratitude
for a mother's holy love, should not have risen and hissed into infancy
these traitors to their own natural gifts, who lampooned the noblest
passions of humanity, in order to pander for its lowest appetites.
As far, however, as one bad thing can be palliated by comparison with a
worse, this may be said, in extenuation of these writers; that the
mischief, which they can do even on the stage, is trifling compared with
that stile of writing which began in the pest-house of French
literature, and has of late been imported by the 'Littles' of the age,
which consists in a perpetual tampering with the morals without
offending the decencies. And yet the admirers of these publications,
nay, the authors themselves have the assurance to complain of Shakspeare
(for I will not refer to one yet far deeper blasphemy)--Shakspeare,
whose most objectionable passages are but grossnesses against lust, and
these written in a gross age; while three fourths of their whole works
are delicacies for its support and sustenance. Lastly, that I may leave
the reader in better humour with the name at the head of this article, I
shall quote one scene from Etherege's 'Love in a Tub', which for
exquisite, genuine, original humour, is worth all the rest of his plays,
though two or three of his witty contemporaries were thrown in among
them, as a make weight. The scene might be entitled, the different ways
in which the very same story may be told without any variation in matter
of fact; for the least attentive reader will perceive the perfect
identity of the footboy's account with the Frenchman's own statement in
contradiction to it.
[Scene--Sir Frederick's Lodging.]
[Enter DUFOY and CLARK.]
I wonder Sir Frederick stays out so late.
Dis is noting; six, seven o'clock in the morning is ver good hour.
I hope he does not use these hours often.
Some six, seven time a veek; no oftiner.
My Lord commanded me to wait his coming.
Matre Clark, to divertise you, I vill tell you, how I did get be
acquainted vid dis Bedlam Matre. About two, tree year ago me had for
my convenience discharge myself from attending
[Enter a footboy]
as Matre D'ostel to a person of condition in Parie; it hapen after de
dispatch of my little affaire.
That is, after h'ad spent his money, Sir.
Jan foutrede lacque; me vil have vip and de belle vor your breeck,
Sir, in a word, he was a Jack-pudding to a mountebank, and turned off
for want of wit: my master picked him up before a puppet-show,
mumbling a half-penny custard, to send him with a letter to the post.
Morbleu, see, see de insolence of de foot boy English, bogre, rascale,
you lie, begar I vill cutte your troate.
He's a rogue; on with your story, Monsieur.
Matre Clark, I am your ver humble serviteur; but begar me have no
patience to be abuse. As I did say, after de dispatche of my affaire,
von day being idele, vich does produce the mellanchollique, I did
valke over de new bridge in Parie, and to divertise de time, and my
more serious toughte, me did look to see de marrionete, and de
jack-pudding, vich did play hundred pretty tricke; time de collation
vas come; and vor I had no company, I vas unvilling to go to de
Cabarete, but did buy a darriole, littel custarde vich did satisfie my
appetite ver vel: in dis time young Monsieur de Grandvil (a jentelman
of ver great quality, van dat vas my ver good friende, and has done me
ver great and insignal faveure) come by in his caroche vid dis Sir
Frolick, who did pention at the same academy, to learn, de language,
de bon mine, de great horse, and many oder tricke. Monsieur seeing me
did make de bowe and did becken me to come to him: he did telle me dat
de Englis jentelman had de lettre vor de poste, and did entreate me
(if I had de opportunity) to see de lettre delivere: he did telle me
too, it void be ver great obligation: de memory of de faveurs I had
received from his famelye, beside de inclination I naturally have to
serve de strangere, made me returne de complemen vid ver great
civility, and so I did take de lettre and see it delivere. Sir
Frollick perceiving (by de management of dis affairZ) dat I vas man
d'esprit, and of vitte, did entreate me to be his serviteur; me did
take d'affection to his persone, and was contente to live vid him, to
counsel and advise him. You see now de lie of de bougre de lacque
When I was at Malta, 1805, there happened a drunken squabble on the road
from Valette to St. Antonio, between a party of soldiers and another of
sailors. They were brought before me the next morning, and the great
effect which their intoxication had produced on their memory, and the
little or no effect on their courage in giving evidence, may be seen by
the following specimen. The soldiers swore that the sailors were the
first aggressors, and had assaulted them with the following words:
"----your eyes! who stops the line of march there?" The sailors with
equal vehemence and unanimity averred, that the soldiers were the first
aggressors, and had burst in on them calling out--"Heave to, you
lubbers! or we'll run you down."
FORCE OF HABIT.
An Emir had bought a left eye of a glass eye-maker, supposing that he
would be able to see with it. The man begged him to give it a little
time: he could not expect that it would see all at once as well as the
right eye, which had been for so many years in the habit of it.
The Phoenix lives a thousand years, a secular bird of ages; and there is
never more than one at a time in the world. Yet Plutarch very gravely
informs us, that the brain of the Phoenix is a pleasant bit, but apt to
occasion the head ache. By the by, there are few styles that are not fit
for something. I have often wished to see Claudian's splendid poem on
the Phoenix translated into English verse in the elaborate rhyme and
gorgeous diction of Darwin. Indeed Claudian throughout would bear
translation better than any of the ancients.
MEMORY AND RECOLLECTION.
Beasts and babies remember, that is, recognize: man alone recollects.
This distinction was made by Aristotle.
'Aliquid ex Nihilo.'
In answer to the 'nihil e nihilo' of the atheists, and their near
relations, the 'anima-mundi' men, a humourist pointed to a white
blank in a rude wood-cut, which very ingeniously served for the head of
hair in one of the figures.
BREVITY OF THE GREEK AND ENGLISH COMPARED.
As an instance of compression and brevity in narration, unattainable in
any language but the Greek, the following distich was quoted:
[Greek (transliterated): Chruson anaer euron, helipe brochon autar o
chruson, hon lipen, ouk ehuron, haephen, hon ehure, brochon.]
This was denied by one of the company, who instantly rendered the lines
in English, contending with reason that the indefinite article in
English, together with the pronoun "his," &c. should be considered as
one word with the noun following, and more than counterbalanced by the
greater number of syllables in the Greek words, the terminations of
which are in truth only little words glued on to them. The English
distich follows, and the reader will recollect that it is a mere trial
of comparative brevity, wit and poetry quite out of the question:
Jack finding gold left a rope on the ground; Bill missing his gold
used the rope, which he found.
THE WILL AND THE DEED.
The will to the deed,--the inward principle to the outward act,--is as
the kernel to the shell; but yet, in the first place, the shell is
necessary for the kernel, and that by which it is commonly known;--and,
in the next place, as the shell comes first, and the kernel grows
gradually and hardens within it, so is it with the moral principle in
man. Legality precedes morality in every individual, even as the Jewish
dispensation preceded the Christian in the education of the world at
THE WILL FOR THE DEED.
When may the will be taken for the deed?--Then when the will is the
obedience of the whole man;--when the will is in fact the deed, that is,
all the deed in our power. In every other case, it is bending the bow
without shooting the arrow. The bird of Paradise gleams on the lofty
branch, and the man takes aim, and draws the tough yew into a crescent
with might and main,--and lo! there is never an arrow on the string.
The first great requisite is absolute sincerity. Falsehood and disguise
are miseries and misery-makers, under whatever strength of sympathy, or
desire to prolong happy thoughts in others for their sake or your own
only as sympathizing with theirs, it may originate. All sympathy, not
consistent with acknowledged virtue, is but disguised selfishness.
TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD.
The pre-eminence of truth over falsehood, even when occasioned by that
truth, is as a gentle fountain breathing from forth its air-let into the
snow piled over and around it, which it turns into its own substance,
and flows with greater murmur; and though it be again arrested, still it
is but for a time,--it awaits only the change of the wind to awake and
roll onwards its ever increasing stream:--
I semplici pastori
Sul Vesolo nevoso,
Fatti curvi e canuti,
D'alto stupor son muti,
Mirando al fonte ombroso
Il Po con pochi umori;
Poscia udendo gl' onori
Dell'urna angusta e stretta,
Che'l Adda, che'l Tesino
Soverchia il suo cammino,
Che ampio al mar s'affretta,
Che si spuma, e si suona,
Che gli si da corona!
(Chiabrera, Rime, xxviii.)
But falsehood is fire in stubble;--it likewise turns all the light stuff
around it into its own substance for a moment, one crackling blazing
moment,--and then dies; and all its converts are scattered in the wind,
without place or evidence of their existence, as viewless as the wind
which scatters them.
A man may look at glass, or through it, or both. Let all earthly things
be unto thee as glass to see heaven through! Religious ceremonies should
be pure glass, not dyed in the gorgeous crimsons and purple blues and
greens of the drapery of saints and saintesses.
Many a star, which we behold as single, the astronomer resolves into
two, each, perhaps, the centre of a separate system. Oft are the flowers
of the bind-weed mistaken for the growth of the plant, which it chokes
with its intertwine. And many are the unsuspected double stars, and
frequent are the parasite weeds, which the philosopher detects in the
received opinions of men:--so strong is the tendency of the imagination
to identify what it has long consociated. Things that have habitually,
though, perhaps, accidentally and arbitrarily, been thought of in
connection with each other, we are prone to regard as inseparable. The
fatal brand is cast into the fire, and therefore Meleager must consume
in the flames. To these conjunctions of custom and association--(the
associative power of the mind which holds the mid place between memory
and sense,)--we may best apply Sir Thomas Brown's remark, that many
things coagulate on commixture, the separate natures of which promise no
The curiosity of an honourable mind willingly rests there, where the
love of truth does not urge it farther onward, and the love of its
neighbour bids it stop;--in other words, it willingly stops at the
point, where the interests of truth do not beckon it onward, and charity
To all new truths, or renovation of old truths, it must be as in the ark
between the destroyed and the about-to-be renovated world. The raven
must be sent out before the dove, and ominous controversy must precede
peace and the olive-wreath.
Centries, or wooden frames, are put under the arches of a bridge, to
remain no longer than till the latter are consolidated. Even so
pleasures are the devil's scaffolding to build a habit upon;--that
formed and steady, the pleasures are sent for fire-wood, and the hell
begins in this life.
Virtue makes us not worthy, but only worthier, of happiness. Existence
itself gives a claim to joy. Virtue and happiness are incommensurate
quantities. How much virtue must I have, before I have paid off the old
debt of my happiness in infancy and childhood! O! We all outrun the
constable with heaven's justice! We have to earn the earth, before we
can think of earning heaven.
DUST TO DUST.
We were indeed,--
[Greek (transliterated): panta konis, kai panta gel_os, kai panta to
if we did not feel that we were so.
There is in every human countenance either a history or a prophecy,
which must sadden, or at least soften, every reflecting observer.
LIE USEFUL TO TRUTH.
A lie accidentally useful to the cause of an oppressed truth: Thus was
the tongue of a dog made medicinal to a feeble and sickly Lazarus.
SCIENCE IN ROMAN CATHOLIC STATES.
In Roman Catholic states, where science has forced its way, and some
light must follow, the devil himself cunningly sets up a shop for common
sense at the sign of the Infidel.
"It is possible," says Jeremy Taylor, "for a man to bring himself to
believe any thing he hath a mind to." But what is this belief?--Analyse
it into its constituents;--is it more than certain passions or feelings
converging into the sensation of positiveness as their focus, and then
associated with certain sounds or images?--'Nemo enim', says
Augustin, 'huic evidentiae contradicet, nisi quem plus defensare
delectat, quod sentit, quam, quid sentiendum sit, invenire.'
Lovely and pure--no bird of Paradise, to feed on dew and
flower-fragrance, and never to alight on earth, till shot by death with
pointless shaft; but a rose, to fix its roots in the genial earth,
thence to suck up nutriment and bloom strong and healthy,--not to droop
and fade amid sunshine and zephyrs on a soilless rock! Her marriage was
no meagre prose comment on the glowing and gorgeous poetry of her
wooing;--nor did the surly over-browing rock of reality ever cast the
dusky shadow of this earth on the soft moonlight of her love's first
The torch of love may be blown out wholly, but not that of Hymen. Whom
the flame and its cheering light and genial warmth no longer bless, him
the smoke stifles; for the spark is inextinguishable, save by death:--
'nigro circumvelatus amictu Maeret Hymen, fumantque atrae sine
YOUTH AND AGE.
Youth beholds happiness gleaming in the prospect. Age looks back on the
happiness of youth; and instead of hopes, seeks its enjoyment in the
recollections of hope.
The giant shadows sleeping amid the wan yellow light of the December
morning, looked like wrecks and scattered ruins of the long, long night.
Next to the inspired Scriptures,--yea, and as the vibration of that once
struck hour remaining on the air, stands Leighton's Commentary on the
first Epistle of Peter.
"O! that God," says Carey in his Journal in Hindostan, "would make the
Gospel successful among them! That would undoubtedly make them honest
men, and I fear nothing else ever will." Now this is a fact,--spite of
infidels and psilosophizing Christians, a fact. A perfect explanation of
it would require and would show the psychology of faith,--the difference
between the whole soul's modifying an action, and an action enforced by
modifications of the soul amid prudential motives or favouring impulses.
Let me here remind myself of the absolute necessity of having my whole
faculties awake and imaginative, in order to illustrate this and similar
truths;--otherwise my writings will be no other than pages of algebra.
INSCRIPTION ON A CLOCK IN CHEAPSIDE.
What now thou do'st, or art about to do,
Will help to give thee peace, or make thee rue;
When hov'ring o'er the line this hand will tell
The last dread moment--'twill be heaven or hell.
Read for the last two lines--
When wav'ring o'er the dot, this hand shall tell
The moment that secures thee heaven or hell!
RATIONALISM IS NOT REASON.
"Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord". An awful text! Now because
vengeance is most wisely and lovingly forbidden to us, hence we have by
degrees, under false generalizations and puny sensibilities, taken up
the notion that vengeance is no where. In short, the abuse of figurative
interpretation is endless;--instead of being applied, as it ought to be,
to those things which are the most comprehensible, that is, sensuous,
and which therefore are the parts likely to be figurative, because such
language is a condescension to our weakness,--it is applied to rot away
the very pillars, yea, to fret away and dissolve the very corner stones
of the temple of religion. O, holy Paul! O, beloved John! full of light
and love, whose books are full of intuitions, as those of Paul are books
of energies,--the one uttering to sympathizing angels what the other
toils to convey to weak-sighted yet docile men:--O Luther! Calvin! Fox,
with Penn and Barclay! O Zinzendorf! and ye too, whose outward garments
only have been singed and dishonoured in the heathenish furnace of Roman
apostacy, Francis of Sales, Fenelon;--yea, even Aquinas and
Scotus!--With what astoundment would ye, if ye were alive with your
merely human perfections, listen to the creed of our, so called,
rational religionists! Rational!--They, who in the very outset deny all
reason, and leave us nothing but degrees to distinguish us from
brutes;--a greater degree of memory, dearly purchased by the greater
solicitudes of fear which convert that memory into foresight. O! place
before your eyes the island of Britain in the reign of Alfred, its
unpierced woods, its wide morasses and dreary heaths, its blood-stained
and desolated shores, its untaught and scanty population; behold the
monarch listening now to Bede, and now to John Erigena; and then see the
same realm, a mighty empire, full of motion, full of books, where the
cotter's son, twelve years old, has read more than archbishops of yore,
and possesses the opportunity of reading more than our Alfred
himself;--and then finally behold this mighty nation, its rulers and its
wise men listening to----Paley and to----Malthus! It is mournful,
How strange and sad is the laxity with which men in these days suffer
the most inconsistent opinions to lie jumbled lazily together in their
minds,--holding the antimoralism of Paley and the hypophysics of Locke,
and yet gravely, and with a mock faith, talking of God as a pure spirit,
of passing out of time into eternity, of a peace which passes all
understanding, of loving our neighbour as ourselves, and God above all,
and so forth!--Blank contradictions!--What are these men's minds but a
huge lumber-room of 'bully', that is, of incompatible notions brought
together by a feeling without a sense of connection?
HOPE IN HUMANITY.
Consider the state of a rich man perfectly 'Adam Smithed', yet with
a naturally good heart;--then suppose him suddenly convinced, vitally
convinced, of the truth of the blessed system of hope and confidence in
reason and humanity! Contrast his new and old views and reflections, the
feelings with which he would begin to receive his rents, and to
contemplate his increase of power by wealth, the study to relieve the
labour of man from all mere annoy and disgust, the preclusion in his own
mind of all cooling down from the experience of individual ingratitude,
and his conviction that the true cause of all his disappointments was,
that his plans were too narrow, too short, too selfish!
'Wenn das Elend viel ist auf der Erde, so beruhet der grund davon,
nach Abzug des theils ertraglichen, theils verbesserlichen, theils
eingebildeten Uebels der Naturwelt, ganz allein in den moralischen
Handlungen der Menschen.' 
O my God! What a great, inspiriting, heroic thought! Were only a hundred
men to combine even my clearness of conviction of this, with a Clarkson
and Bell's perseverance, what might not be done! How awful a duty does
not hope become! What a nurse, yea, mother of all other the fairest
virtues! We despair of others' goodness, and thence are ourselves bad.
O! let me live to show the errors of the most of those who have hitherto
attempted this work,--how they have too often put the intellectual and
the moral, yea, the moral and the religious, faculties at strife with
each other, and how they ought to act with an equal eye to all, to feel
that all is involved in the perfection of each! This is the fundamental
[Footnote 1: Although the misery on the earth is great indeed, yet the
foundation of it rests, after deduction of the partly bearable, partly
removable, and partly imaginary, evil of the natural world, entirely and
alone on the moral dealings of men. Ed.]
SELF-LOVE IN RELIGION.
The unselfishness of self-love in the hopes and fears of religion
consists;--first,--in the previous necessity of a moral energy, in order
so far to subjugate the sensual, which is indeed and properly the
selfish, part of our nature, as to believe in a state after death, on
the grounds of the Christian religion:--secondly,--in the abstract and,
as it were, unindividual nature of the idea, self, or soul, when
conceived apart from our present living body and the world of the
senses. In my religious meditations of hope and fear, the reflection
that this course of action will purchase heaven for me, for my soul,
involves a thought of and for all men who pursue the same course. In
worldly blessings, such as those promised in the Old Law, each man might
make up to himself his own favourite scheme of happiness. "I will be
strictly just, and observe all the laws and ceremonies of my religion,
that God may grant me such a woman for my wife, or wealth and honour,
with which I will purchase such and such an estate," &c. But the reward
of heaven admits no day-dreams; its hopes and its fears are too vast to
endure an outline. "I will endeavour to abstain from vice, and force
myself to do such and such acts of duty, in order that I may make myself
capable of that freedom of moral being, without which heaven would be no
heaven to me." Now this very thought tends to annihilate self. For what
is a self not distinguished from any other self, but like an individual
circle in geometry, uncoloured, and the representative of all other
circles. The circle is differenced, indeed, from a triangle or square;
so is a virtuous soul from a vicious soul, a soul in bliss from a soul
in misery, but no wise distinguished from other souls under the same
predicament. That selfishness which includes, of necessity, the selves
of all my fellow-creatures, is assuredly a social and generous
principle. I speak, as before observed, of the objective or reflex
self;--for as to the subjective self, it is merely synonymous with
consciousness, and obtains equally whether I think of me or of him;--in
both cases it is I thinking.
Still, however, I freely admit that there neither is, nor can be, any
such self-oblivion in these hopes and fears when practically reflected
on, as often takes place in love and acts of loving kindness, and the
habit of which constitutes a sweet and loving nature. And this leads me
to the third, and most important reflection, namely, that the soul's
infinite capacity of pain and of joy, through an infinite duration, does
really, on the most high-flying notions of love and justice, make my own
soul and the most anxious care for the character of its future fate, an
object of emphatic duty. What can be the object of human virtue but the
happiness of sentient, still more of moral, beings? But an infinite
duration of faculties, infinite in progression, even of one soul, is so
vast, so boundless an idea, that we are unable to distinguish it from
the idea of the whole race of mankind. If to seek the temporal welfare
of all mankind be disinterested virtue, much more must the eternal
welfare of my own soul be so;--for the temporal welfare of all mankind
is included within a finite space and finite number, and my imagination
makes it easy by sympathies and visions of outward resemblance; but
myself in eternity, as the object of my contemplation, differs
unimaginably from my present self. Do but try to think of yourself in
eternal misery!--you will find that you are stricken with horror for it,
even as for a third person; conceive it in hazard thereof, and you will
feel commiseration for it, and pray for it with an anguish of sympathy
very different from the outcry of an immediate self-suffering.
Blessed be God! that which makes us capable of vicious
self-interestedness, capacitates us also for disinterestedness. That I
am capable of preferring a smaller advantage of my own to a far greater
good of another man,--this, the power of comparing the notions of "him
and me" objectively, enables me likewise to prefer--at least furnishes
the condition of my preferring--a greater good of another to a lesser
good of my own;--nay, a pleasure of his, or external advantage, to an
equal one of my own. And thus too, that I am capable of loving my
neighbour as myself, empowers me to love myself as my neighbour,--not
only as much, but in the same way and with the very same feeling.
This is the great privilege of pure religion. By diverting self-love to
our self under those relations, in which alone it is worthy of our
anxiety, it annihilates self, as a notion of diversity. Extremes meet.
These reflections supply a forcible, and, I believe, quite new argument
against the purgatory, both of the Romanists, and of the modern
Millennarians, and final Salvationists. Their motives do, indeed,
destroy the essence of virtue.
The doctors of self-love are misled by a wrong use of the words,--"We
love ourselves!" Now this is impossible for a finite and created being
in the absolute meaning of self; and in its secondary and figurative
meaning, self signifies only a less degree of distance, a narrowness of
moral view, and a determination of value by measurement. Hence the body
is in this sense our self, because the sensations have been habitually
appropriated to it in too great a proportion; but this is not a
necessity of our nature. There is a state possible even in this life, in
which we may truly say, "My self loves,"--freely constituting its
secondary or objective love in what it wills to love, commands what it
wills, and wills what it commands. The difference between self-love, and
self that loves, consists in the objects of the former as given to it
according to the law of the senses, while the latter determines the
objects according to the law in the spirit. The first loves because it
must; the second, because it ought; and the result of the first is not
in any objective, imaginable, comprehensible, action, but in that action
by which it abandoned its power of true agency, and willed its own fall.
This is, indeed, a mystery. How can it be otherwise?--For if the will be
unconditional, it must be inexplicable, the understanding of a thing
being an insight into its conditions and causes. But whatever is in the
will is the will, and must therefore be equally inexplicable.
In a word, the difference of an unselfish from a selfish love, even in
this life, consists in this, that the latter depends on our transferring
our present passion or appetite, or rather on our dilating and
stretching it out in imagination, as the covetous man does;--while in
the former we carry ourselves forward under a very different state from
the present, as the young man, who restrains his appetites in respect of
his future self as a tranquil and healthy old man. This last requires as
great an effort of disinterestedness as, if not a greater than, to give
up a present enjoyment to another person who is present to us. The
alienation from distance in time and from diversity of circumstance, is
greater in the one case than in the other. And let it be remembered,
that a Christian may exert all the virtues and virtuous charities of
humanity in any state; yea, in the pangs of a wounded conscience, he may
feel for the future periods of his own lost spirit, just as Adam for all
O magical, sympathetic, 'anima! principium hylarchicum! rationes
spermaticae!' [Greek: logoi poiaetikoi!] O formidable words! And O
man! thou marvellous beast-angel! thou ambitious beggar! How pompously
dost thou trick out thy very ignorance with such glorious disguises,
that thou mayest seem to hide it in order only to worship it!
LIMITATION OF LOVE OF POETRY.
A man may be, perhaps, exclusively a poet, a poet most exquisite in his
kind, though the kind must needs be of inferior worth; I say, may be;
for I cannot recollect any one instance in which I have a right to
suppose it. But, surely, to have an exclusive pleasure in poetry, not
being yourself a poet;--to turn away from all effort, and to dwell
wholly on the images of another's vision,--is an unworthy and effeminate
thing. A jeweller may devote his whole time to jewels unblamed; but the
mere amateur, who grounds his taste on no chemical or geological idea,
cannot claim the same exemption from despect. How shall he fully enjoy
Wordsworth, who has never meditated on the truths which Wordsworth has
wedded to immortal verse?
HUMILITY OF THE AMIABLE.
It is well ordered by nature, that the amiable and estimable have a
fainter perception of their own qualities than their friends
have;--otherwise they would love themselves. And though they may fear
flattery, yet if not justified in suspecting intentional deceit, they
cannot but love and esteem those who love and esteem them, only as
lovely and estimable, and give them proof of their having done well,
where they have meant to do well.
TEMPER IN ARGUMENT.
"All reasoners ought to be perfectly dispassionate, and ready to allow
all the force of the arguments, they are to confute. But more
especially those, who are to argue in behalf of Christianity, ought
carefully to preserve the spirit of it in their manner of expressing
themselves. I have so much honour for the Christian clergy, that I had
much rather hear them railed at, than hear them rail; and I must say,
that I am often grievously offended with the generality of them for
their method of treating all who differ from them in opinion."
Besides, what is the use of violence? None. What is the harm? Great,
very great;--chiefly, in the confirmation of error, to which nothing so
much tends, as to find your opinions attacked with weak arguments and
unworthy feelings. A generous mind becomes more attached to principles
so treated, even as it would to an old friend, after he had been grossly
calumniated. We are eager to make compensation.
The smooth words used by all factions, and their wide influence, may be
exemplified in all the extreme systems, as for instance in the
patriarchal government of Filmer. Take it in one relation, and it
imports love, tender anxiety, longer experience, and superior wisdom,
bordering on revelation, especially to Jews and Christians, who are in
the life-long habit of attaching to patriarchs an intimacy with the
Supreme Being. Take it on the other side, and it imports, that a whole
people are to be treated and governed as children by a man not so old as
very many, not older than very many, and in all probability not wiser
than the many, and by his very situation precluded from the same
The most hateful form of self-conceit is the callous form, when it
boasts and swells up on the score of its own ignorance, as implying
exemption from a folly. "We profess not to understand;"--"We are so
unhappy as to be quite in the dark as to the meaning of this
writer;"--"All this may be very fine, but we are not ashamed to confess
that to us it is quite unintelligible:"--then quote a passage without
the context, and appeal to the PUBLIC, whether they understand it or
not!--Wretches! Such books were not written for your public. If it be a
work on inward religion, appeal to the inwardly religious, and ask
them!--If it be of true love and its anguish and its yearnings, appeal
to the true lover! What have the public to do with this?
He was like a cork, flexible, floating, full of pores and openings, and
yet he could neither return nor transmit the waters of Helicon, much
less the light of Apollo. The poet, by his side, was like a diamond,
transmitting to all around, yet retaining for himself alone, the rays of
the god of day.
An upright shoe may fit both feet; but never saw I a glove that would
fit both hands. It is a man for a mean or mechanic office, that can be
employed equally well under either of two opposite parties.
Death but supplies the oil for the inextinguishable lamp of life.
LOVE AN ACT OF THE WILL.
Love, however sudden, as when we fall in love at first sight, (which is,
perhaps, always the case of love in its highest sense,) is yet an act of
the will, and that too one of its primary, and therefore ineffable acts.
This is most important; for if it be not true, either love itself is all
a romantic 'hum', a mere connection of desire with a form
appropriated to excite and gratify it, or the mere repetition of a
daydream;--or if it be granted that love has a real, distinct, and
excellent being, I know not how we could attach blame and immorality to
inconstancy, when confined to the affections and a sense of preference.
Either, therefore, we must brutalize our notions with Pope:--
Lust, thro' some certain strainers well refin'd,
Is gentle love and charms all woman-kind:
or we must dissolve and thaw away all bonds of morality by the
irresistible shocks of an irresistible sensibility with Sterne.
The well-spring of all sensible communion is the natural delight and
need, which undepraved man hath to transfuse from himself into others,
and to receive from others into himself, those things, wherein the
excellency of his kind doth most consist; and the eminence of love or
marriage communion is, that this mutual transfusion can take place more
perfectly and totally in this, than in any other mode.
Prefer person before money, good-temper with good sense before person;
and let all, wealth, easy temper, strong understanding and beauty, be as
nothing to thee, unless accompanied by virtue in principle and in habit.
Suppose competence, health, and honesty; then a happy marriage depends
on four things:--1. An understanding proportionate to thine, that is, a
recipiency at least of thine:--2. natural sensibility and lively
sympathy in general:--3. steadiness in attaching and retaining
sensibility to its proper objects in its proper proportions:--4. mutual
liking; including person and all the thousand obscure sympathies that
determine conjugal liking, that is, love and desire to A. rather than to
B. This seems very obvious and almost trivial: and yet all unhappy
marriages arise from the not honestly putting, and sincerely answering
each of these four questions: any one of them negatived, marriage is
imperfect, and in hazard of discontent.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOBBES AND SPINOSA.
In the most similar and nearest points there is a difference, but for
the most part there is an absolute contrast, between Hobbes and Spinosa.
Thus Hobbes makes a state of war the natural state of man from the
essential and ever continuing nature of man, as not a moral, but only a
frightenable, being:--Spinosa makes the same state a necessity of man
out of society, because he must then be an undeveloped man, and his
moral being dormant; and so on through the whole.
THE END MAY JUSTIFY THE MEANS.
Whatever act is necessary to an end, and ascertained to be necessary and
proportionate both to the end and the agent, takes its nature from that
end. This premised, the proposition is innocent that ends may justify
means. Remember, however, the important distinction:--'Unius facti
diversi fines esse possunt: unius actionis non possunt'.
I have somewhere read this remark:--'Omne meritum est voluntarium, aut
voluntate originis, aut origine voluntatis'. Quaintly as this is
expressed, it is well worth consideration, and gives the true meaning of
Baxter's famous saying,--"Hell is paved with good intentions."
On this calm morning of the 13th of November, 1809, it occurs to me,
that it is by a negation and voluntary act of no thinking that we think
of earth, air, water, &c. as dead. It is necessary for our limited
powers of consciousness, that we should be brought to this negative
state, and that this state should pass into custom; but it is likewise
necessary that at times we should awake and step forward; and this is
effected by those extenders of our consciousness--sorrow, sickness,
poetry, and religion. The truth is, we stop in the sense of life just
when we are not forced to go on, and then adopt a permission of our
feelings for a precept of our reason.
MAN'S RETURN TO HEAVEN.
Heaven bestows light and influence on this lower world, which reflects
the blessed rays, though it cannot recompense them. So man may make a
return to God, but no requital.
Fair criticism on young prodigies and Rosciuses in verse, or on the
stage, is arraigned,--
as the envious sneaping frost
That bites the first-born infants of the spring.
If there were no better answer, the following a good heart would
scarcely admit;--but where nine-tenths of the applause have been mere
wonderment and miracle-lust ('Wundursucht') these verses are an
excellent accompaniment to other arguments:--
Well, say it be!--Yet why of summer boast,
Before the birds have natural cause to sing?
Why should we joy in an abortive birth?
At Christmas I no more desire a rose,
Than wish a snow in May's new budding shows;
But like of each thing that in reason grows.
'Love's Labours Lost'. 
[Footnote 1: Slightly altered. Ed.]
The small number of surnames, and those Christian names and patronymics,
not derived from trades, &c. is one mark of a country either not yet, or
only recently, unfeudalized. Hence in Scotland the Mackintoshes,
Macaulays, and so on. But the most remarkable show of this I ever saw,
is the list of subscribers to Owen's Welch Dictionary. In letter D.
there are 31 names, 21 of which are 'Davis' or 'Davies', and the other
three are not Welchmen. In E. there are 30; 16 'Evans'; 6 'Edwards'; 1
'Edmonds'; I 'Egan', and the remainder 'Ellis'. In G. two-thirds are
'Griffiths'. In H. all are 'Hughes' and 'Howell'. In I. there are 66;
all 'Jonesses'. In L. 3 or 4 'Lewises'; 1 'Lewellyn'; all the rest
'Lloyds'. M. four-fifths 'Morgans'. O. entirely 'Owen'. R. all 'Roberts'
or 'Richards'. T. all 'Thomases'. V. all 'Vaughans';--and W. 64 names,
56 of them 'Williams'.
The real value of melody in a language is considerable as subadditive;
but when not jutting out into consciousness under the friction of
comparison, the absence or inferiority of it is, as privative of
pleasure, of little consequence. For example, when I read Voss's
translation of the Georgics, I am, as it were, reading the original
poem, until something particularly well expressed occasions me to revert
to the Latin; and then I find the superiority, or at least the powers,
of the German in all other respects, but am made feelingly alive, at the
same time, to its unsmooth mixture of the vocal and the organic, the
fluid and the substance, of language. The fluid seems to have been
poured in on the corpuscles all at once, and the whole has, therefore,
curdled, and collected itself into a lumpy soup full of knots of curds
inisled by interjacent whey at irregular distances, and the curd lumpets
of various sizes.
It is always a question how far the apparent defects of a language arise
from itself or from the false taste of the nation speaking it. Is the
practical inferiority of the English to the Italian in the power of
passing from grave to light subjects, in the manner of Ariosto, the
fault of the language itself? Wieland in his Oberon, broke successfully
through equal difficulties. It is grievous to think how much less
careful the English have been to preserve than to acquire. Why have we
lost, or all but lost, the 'ver' or 'for' as a prefix,--'fordone',
'forwearied', &c.; and the 'zer' or 'to',-'zerreissen', to rend, &c.
'Jugend', 'Juengling': 'youth', 'youngling'; why is that last word now
lost to common use, and confined to sheep and other animals?
[Greek: En to phronein maedhen aedistos bios.] Soph.
His life was playful from infancy to death, like the snow which in a
calm day falls, but scarce seems to fall, and plays and dances in and
out till the very moment that it gently reaches the earth.
It surely is not impossible that to some infinitely superior being the
whole universe may be as one plain, the distance between planet and
planet being only as the pores in a grain of sand, and the spaces
between system and system no greater than the intervals between one
grain and the grain adjacent.
'Harberous', that is, harbourous, is the old version of St. Paul's
'philoxenos', and a beautiful word it is. 'Kosmis' should be
rendered a gentleman in dress and address, in appearance and demeanour,
a man of the world in an innocent sense. The Latin 'mundus' has the
same double force in it; only that to the rude early Romans, to have a
clean pair of hands and a clean dress, was to be drest; just as we say
to boys, "Put on your clean clothes!"
The different meanings attached to the same word or phrase in different
sentences, will, of course, be accompanied with a different feeling in
the mind; this will affect the pronunciation, and hence arises a new
word. We should vainly try to produce the same feeling in our minds by
'and he' as by 'who'; for the different use of the latter, and
its feeling having now coalesced. Yet 'who' is properly the same
word and pronunciation, as 'ho' with the digammate prefix, and as
'qui' kai ho.
There are two sides to every question. If thou hast genius and poverty
to thy lot, dwell on the foolish, perplexing, imprudent, dangerous, and
even immoral, conduct of promise-breach in small things, of want of
punctuality, of procrastination in all its shapes and disguises. Force
men to reverence the dignity of thy moral strength in and for
itself,--seeking no excuses or palliations from fortune, or sickness, or
a too full mind that, in opulence of conception, overrated its powers of
application. But if thy fate should be different, shouldest thou possess
competence, health and ease of mind, and then be thyself called upon to
judge such faults in another so gifted,--O! then, upon the other view of
the question, say, Am I in ease and comfort, and dare I wonder that he,
poor fellow, acted so and so? Dare I accuse him? Ought I not to shadow
forth to myself that, glad and luxuriating in a short escape from
anxiety, his mind over-promised for itself; that, want combating with
his eager desire to produce things worthy of fame, he dreamed of the
nobler, when he should have been producing the meaner, and so had the
meaner obtruded on his moral being, when the nobler was making full way
on his intellectual? Think of the manifoldness of his accumulated petty
calls! Think, in short, on all that should be like a voice from heaven
to warn thyself against this and this, and call it all up for pity and
for palliation; and then draw the balance. Take him in his whole,--his
head, his heart, his wishes, his innocence of all selfish crime, and a
hundred years hence, what will be the result? The good,--were it but a
single volume that made truth more visible, and goodness more lovely,
and pleasure at once more akin to virtue and, self-doubled, more
pleasurable! and the evil,--while he lived, it injured none but himself;
and where is it now? in his grave. Follow it not thither.
TO THEE CHERUBIM AND SERAPHIM CONTINUALLY DO CRY.
The mighty kingdoms angelical, like the thin clouds at dawn, receiving
and hailing the first radiance, and singing and sounding forth their
blessedness, increase the rising joy in the heart of God, spread wide
and utter forth the joy arisen, and in innumerable finite glories
interpret all they can of infinite bliss.
DEFINITION OF MIRACLE.
A phaenomenon in no connection with any other phaenomenon, as its
immediate cause, is a miracle; and what is believed to have been such,
is miraculous for the person so believing When it is strange and
surprising, that is, with out any analogy in our former experience--it
is called a miracle. The kind defines the thing:--the circumstances the
To stretch out my arm is a miracle, unless the materialists should be
more cunning than they have proved themselves hitherto. To reanimate a
dead man by an act of the will, no intermediate agency employed, not
only is, but is called, a miracle. A scripture miracle, therefore, must
be so defined, as to express, not only its miracular essence, but
likewise the condition of its appearing miraculous; add therefore to the
preceding, the words 'praeter omnem prior em experientiam'.
It might be defined likewise an effect, not having its cause in any
thing congenerous. That thought calls up thought is no more miraculous
than that a billiard ball moves a billiard ball; but that a billiard
ball should excite a thought, that is, be perceived, is a miracle, and,
were it strange, would be called such. For take the converse, that a
thought should call up a billiard ball! Yet where is the difference, but
that the one is a common experience, the other never yet experienced?
It is not strictly accurate to affirm, that every thing would appear a
miracle, if we were wholly uninfluenced by custom, and saw things as
they are:--for then the very ground of all miracles would probably
vanish, namely, the heterogeneity of spirit and matter. For the 'quid
ulterius?' of wonder, we should have the 'ne plus ultra' of adoration.
Again--the word miracle has an objective, a subjective, and a popular
meaning;--as objective,--the essence of a miracle consists in the
heterogeneity of the consequent and its causative antecedent;--as
subjective,--in the assumption of the heterogeneity. Add the wonder and
surprise excited, when the consequent is out of the course of
experience, and we know the popular sense and ordinary use of the word.
DEATH, AND GROUNDS OF BELIEF IN A FUTURE STATE.
It is an important thought, that death, judged of by corporeal
analogies, certainly implies discerption or dissolution of parts; but
pain and pleasure do not; nay, they seem inconceivable except under the
idea of concentration. Therefore the influence of the body on the soul
will not prove the common destiny of both. I feel myself not the slave
of nature (nature used here as the 'mundus sensibilis') in the sense in
which animals are. Not only my thoughts and affections extend to objects
trans-natural, as truth, virtue, God; not only do my powers extend
vastly beyond all those, which I could have derived from the instruments
and organs, with which nature has furnished me; but I can do what nature
'per se' cannot. I ingraft, I raise heavy bodies above the clouds, and
guide my course over ocean and through air. I alone am lord of fire and
light; other creatures are but their alms-folk, and of all the so called
elements, water, earth, air, and all their compounds (to speak in the
ever-enduring language of the senses, to which nothing can be revealed,
but as compact, or fluid, or aerial), I not merely subserve myself of
them, but I employ them. 'Ergo', there is in me, or rather I am, a
praeter-natural, that is, a super-sensuous thing: but what is not nature,
why should it perish with nature? why lose the faculty of vision,
because my spectacles are broken?
Now to this it will be objected, and very forcibly too;--that the soul
or self is acted upon by nature through the body, and water or caloric,
diffused through or collected in the brain, will derange the faculties
of the soul by deranging the organization of the brain; the sword cannot
touch the soul; but by rending the flesh, it will rend the feelings.
Therefore the violence of nature may, in destroying the body, mediately
destroy the soul! It is to this objection that my first sentence
applies; and is an important, and, I believe, a new and the only
satisfactory reply I have ever heard.
The one great and binding ground of the belief of God and a hereafter,
is the law of conscience: but as the aptitudes, and beauty, and
grandeur, of the world, are a sweet and beneficent inducement to this
belief, a constant fuel to our faith, so here we seek these arguments,
not as dissatisfied with the one main ground, not as of 'little faith',
but because, believing it to be, it is natural we should expect to find
traces of it, and as a noble way of employing and developing, and
enlarging the faculties of the soul, and this, not by way of motive, but
of assimilation, producing virtue.
2d April, 1811.
HATRED OF INJUSTICE.
It is the mark of a noble nature to be more shocked with the unjust
condemnation of a bad man than of a virtuous one; as in the instance of
Strafford. For in such cases the love of justice, and the hatred of the
contrary, are felt more nakedly, and constitute a strong passion 'per
se', not only unaided by, but in conquest of, the softer self-repaying
sympathies. A wise foresight too inspires jealousy, that so may
principles be most easily overthrown. This is the virtue of a wise man,
which a mob never possesses, even as a mob never, perhaps, has the
malignant 'finis ultimus', which is the vice of a man.
Amongst the great truths are these:--
I. That religion has no speculative dogmas; that all is practical, all
appealing to the will, and therefore all imperative. 'I am the Lord thy
God: Thou shall have none other gods but me.'
II. That, therefore, miracles are not the proofs, but the necessary
results, of revelation. They are not the key of the arch and roof of
evidence, though they may be a compacting stone in it, which gives while
it receives strength. Hence, to make the intellectual faith a fair
analogon or unison of the vital faith, it ought to be stamped in the
mind by all the evidences duly co-ordinated, and not designed by single
pen-strokes, beginning either here or there.
III. That, according to No. I., Christ is not described primarily and
characteristically as a teacher, but as a doer; a light indeed, but an
effective light, the sun which causes what it shows, as well as shows
what it first causes.
IV. That a certain degree of morality is presupposed in the reception of
Christianity; it is the 'substratum' of the moral interest which
substantiates the evidence of miracles. The instance of a profligate
suddenly converted, if properly sifted, will be found but an apparent
V. That the being of a God, and the immortality of man, are every where
assumed by Christ.
VI. That Socinianism is not a religion, but a theory, and that, too, a
very pernicious, or a very unsatisfactory, theory. Pernicious,--for it
excludes all our deep and awful ideas of the perfect holiness of God,
his justice and his mercy, and thereby makes the voice of conscience a
delusion, as having no correspondent in the character of the legislator;
regarding God as merely a good-natured pleasure-giver, so happiness be
produced, indifferent as to the means:--Unsatisfactory, for it promises
forgiveness without any solution of the difficulty of the compatibility
of this with the justice of God; in no way explains the fallen condition
of man, nor offers any means for his regeneration. "If you will be good,
you will be happy," it says: that may be, but my will is weak; I sink in
VII. That Socinianism never did and never can subsist as a general
1. It neither states the disease, on account of which the human being
hungers for revelation, nor prepares any remedy in general, nor
ministers any hope to the individual.
2. In order to make itself endurable on scriptural grounds, it must so
weaken the texts and authority of scripture, as to leave in scripture
no binding ground of proof of any thing.
3. Take a pious Jew, one of the Maccabees, and compare his faith and
its grounds with Priestley's; and then, for what did Christ come?
VIII. That Socinianism involves the shocking thought that man will not,
and ought not to be expected to, do his duty as man, unless he first
makes a bargain with his Maker, and his Maker with him. Give me, the
individual me, a positive proof that I shall be in a state of pleasure
after my death, if I do so and so, and then I will do it, not else! And
the proof asked is not one dependent on, or flowing from, his moral
nature and moral feelings, but wholly 'extra'-moral, namely, by his
outward senses, the subjugation of which to faith, that is, the passive
to the actional and self-created belief, is the great object of all
IX. That Socinianism involves the dreadful reflection, that it can
establish its probability (its certainty being wholly out of the
question and impossible, Priestley himself declaring that his own
continuance as a Christian depended on a contingency,) only on the
destruction of all the arguments furnished for our permanent and
essential distinction from brutes; that it must prove that we have no
grounds to obey, but, on the contrary, that in wisdom we ought to reject
and declare utterly null, all the commands of conscience, and all that
is implied in those commands, reckless of the confusion introduced into
our notions of means and ends by the denial of truth, goodness, justice,
mercy, and the other fundamental ideas in the idea of God; and all this
in order to conduct us to a Mahomet's bridge of a knife's edge, or the
breadth of a spear, to salvation. And, should we discover any new
documents, or should an acuter logician make plain the sophistry of the
deductions drawn from the present documents (and surely a man who has
passed from orthodoxy to the loosest Arminianism, and thence to
Arianism, and thence to direct Humanism, has no right from his
experience to deny the probability of this)--then to fall off into the
hopeless abyss of atheism. For the present life, we know, is governed by
fixed laws, which the atheist acknowledges as well as the theist; and if
there be no spiritual world, and no spiritual life in a spiritual world,
what possible bearing can the admission or rejection of this hypothesis
have on our practice or feelings?
Lastly, the Mosaic dispensation was a scheme of national education; the
Christian is a world-religion; and the former was susceptible of
evidence and probabilities which do not, and cannot, apply to the
latter. A savage people forced, as it were, into a school of
circumstances, and gradually in the course of generations taught the
unity of God, first and for centuries merely as a practical abstinence
from the worship of any other,--how can the principles of such a system
apply to Christianity, which goes into all nations and to all men, the
most enlightened, even by preference?
Writing several years later than the date of the preceding paragraphs, I
commend the modern Unitarians for their candour in giving up the
possible worshipability of Christ, if not very God,--a proof that truth
will ultimately prevail. The Arians, then existing, against whom
Waterland wrote, were not converted; but in the next generation the
arguments made their way. This is fame 'versus' reputation.
THE APOSTLES' CREED.
Is it not probable from what is found in the writings of Cyril,
Eusebius, Cyprian, Marcellus of Ancyra and others, that our present
Apostles' Creed is not the very 'Symbolum Fidei', which was not to be
written, but was always repeated at baptism? For this latter certainly
contained the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Logos; and,
therefore, it seems likely that the present Apostles' creed was an
introductory, and, as it were, alphabetical, creed for young catechumens
in their first elementation. Is it to be believed that the 'Symbolum
Fidei' contained nothing but the mere history of Jesus, without any of
the peculiar doctrines, or that, if it did not contain something more,
the great and vehement defenders of the Trinity would speak of it so
magnificently as they do, even preferring its authority to that of the
scriptures?--Besides, does not Austin positively say that our present
Apostles' creed was gathered out of the scriptures? Whereas the
'Symbolum Fidei' was elder than the Gospels, and probably contained only
the three doctrines of the Trinity, the Redemption, and the Unity of the
Church. May it not have happened, when baptism was administered so
early, and at last even to infants, that the old 'Symbolum Fidei' became
gradually 'inusitatum', as being appropriated to adult proselytes from
Judaism or Paganism? This seems to me even more than probable; for in
proportion to the majority of born over converted Christians must the
creed of instruction have been more frequent than that of doctrinal
A GOOD HEART.
There is in Abbt's Essays an attempt to determine the true sense of this
phrase, at least to unfold ('auseinandersetzen') what is meant and felt
by it. I was much pleased with the remarks, I remember, and with the
counterposition of Tom Jones and Sir Charles Grandisori. Might not
Luther and Calvin serve? But it is made less noticeable in these last by
its co-existence with, and sometimes real, more often apparent,
subordination to fixed conscious principles, and is thus less naturally
characteristic. Parson Adams contrasted with Dr. Harrison in Fielding's
Amelia would do. Then there is the suppression of the good heart and the
substitution of principles or motives for the good heart, as in Laud,
and the whole race of conscientious persecutors. Such principles
constitute the virtues of the Inquisition. A good heart contrasts with
the Pharisaic righteousness. This last contemplation of the Pharisees,
the dogmatists, and the rigorists 'in toto genere', serves to reconcile
me to the fewness of the men who act on fixed principles. For unless
there exist intellectual power to determine aright what are the
'principia jam fixa et formata', and unless there be the wisdom of love
preceding the love of wisdom, and unless to this be added a graciousness
of nature, a loving kindness,--these rigorists are but bigots often to
errors, and active, yea, remorseless in preventing or staying the rise
and progress of truth. And even when bigotted adherents to true
principles, yet they render truth unamiable, and forbid little children
to come thereunto. As human nature now is, it is well, perhaps, that the
number should be few, seeing that of the few, the greater part are
The number of those who act from good hearted impulses, a kindly and
cheerful mood, and the play of minute sympathies, continuous in their
discontinuity, like the sand-thread of the hour-glass, and from their
minuteness and transiency not calculated to stiffen or inflate the
individual, and thus remaining unendangered by egotism, and its
unhandsome vizard contempt, is far larger: and though these
temperamental 'pro'-virtues will too often fail, and are not built to
stand the storms of strong temptation; yet on the whole they carry on
the benignant scheme of social nature, like the other instincts that
rule the animal creation. But of all the most numerous are the men, who
have ever more their own dearliest beloved self, as the only or main
goal or butt of their endeavours straight and steady before their eyes,
and whose whole inner world turns on the great axis of self-interest.
These form the majority, if not of mankind, yet of those by whom the
business of life is carried on; and most expedient it is, that so it
should be; nor can we imagine any thing better contrived for the
advantage of society. For these are the most industrious, orderly, and
circumspect portion of society, and the actions governed by this
principle with the results, are the only materials on which either the
statesman, or individuals can safely calculate.
There is, indeed, another sort, (a class they can scarcely be called),
who are below self-interest; who live under the mastery of their senses
and appetites; and whose selfishness is an animal instinct, a goad 'a
tergo', not an attraction, 'a re prospecta', or (so to speak) from a
projected self. In fact, such individuals cannot so properly be said to
have a self, as to be machines for the self of nature: and are as little
capable of loving themselves as of loving their neighbours. Such there
are. Nay, (if we were to count only without weighing) the aggregate of
such persons might possibly form a larger number than the class
preceding. But they may safely be taken up into the latter, for the main
ends of society, as being or sure to become its materials and tools.
Their folly is the stuff in which the sound sense of the worldly-wise is
at once manifested and remunerated; their idleness of thought, with the
passions, appetites, likings and fancies, which are its natural growth,
though weeds, give direction and employment to the industry of the
other. The accidents of inheritance by birth, of accumulation of
property in partial masses, are thus counteracted,--and the aneurisms in
the circulating system prevented or rendered fewer and less
obstinate,--whilst animal want, the sure general result of idleness and
its accompanying vices, tames at length the selfish host, into the
laborious slaves and mechanic implements of the self-interested. Thus,
without public spirit, nay, by the predominance of the opposite quality,
the latter are the public benefactors: and, giving steadfastness and
compactness to the whole, lay in the ground of the canvass, on which
minds of finer texture may impress beauty and harmony.
Lastly, there is in the heart of all men a working principle,--call it
ambition, or vanity, or desire of distinction, the inseparable adjunct
of our individuality and personal nature, and flowing from the same
source as language--the instinct and necessity in each man of declaring
his particular existence, and thus of singling or singularizing himself.
In some this principle is far stronger than in others, while in others
its comparative dimness may pass for its non-existence. But in thoughts
at least, and secret fancies there is in all men (idiocy of course
excepted) a wish to remain the same and yet to be something else, and
something more, or to exhibit what they are, or imagine they might be,
somewhere else and to other spectators. Now, though this desire of
distinction, when it is disproportionate to the powers and qualities by
which the individual is indeed distinguished, or when it is the
governing passion, or taken as the rule of conduct, is but a "knavish
sprite," yet as an attendant and subaltern spirit, it has its good
purposes and beneficial effects: and is not seldom
--sent with broom before, To sweep the dust behind the door.
Though selfish in its origin, it yet tends to elevate the individual
from selfishness into self-love, under a softer and perhaps better form
than that of self-interest, the form of self-respect. Whatever other
objects the man may be pursuing, and with whatever other inclinations,
he is still by this principle impelled and almost compelled to pass out
of himself in imagination, and to survey himself at a sufficient
distance, in order to judge what figure he is likely to make in the eyes
of his fellow men. But in thus taking his station as at the apex of a
triangle, while the self is at one angle of the base, he makes it
possible at least that the image of his neighbour may appear at the other,
whether by spontaneous association, or placed there for the purposes of
comparison; and so both be contemplated at equal distance. But this is
the first step towards disinterestedness; and though it should never be
reached, the advantage of the appearance is soon learnt, and the
necessity of avoiding the appearance of the contrary. But appearances
cannot be long sustained without some touch of the reality. At all
events there results a control over our actions; some good may be
produced, and many a poisonous or offensive fruit will be prevented.
Courtesy, urbanity, gallantry, munificence; the outward influence of the
law shall I call it, or rather fashion of honour--these are the handsome
hypocrisies that spring from the desire of distinction. I ask not the
genius of a Machiavel, a Tacitus, or a Swift;--it needs only a worldly
experience and an observing mind, to convince a man of forty that there
is no medium between the creed of misanthropy and that of the gospel.
A pagan might be as orthodox as Paul on the doctrine of works.
First,--set aside the large portion of them that have their source in
the constitutional temperament,--the merit of which, if any, belongs to
nature, not to the individual agent; and of the remaining number of good
works, nine are derived from vices for one that has its origin in
virtue. I have often in looking at the water-works, and complex
machinery of our manufactories, indulged a humorous mood by fancying
that the hammers, cogs, fly-wheels, &c. were each actuated by some
appetite, or passion--hate, rage, revenge, vanity, cupidity, &c. while
the general result was most benignant, and the machine, taken as a
whole, the product of power, knowledge, and benevolence! Such a machine
does the moral world, the world of human nature, appear--and to those
who seem ever more to place the comparison and the alternative between
hell and earth, and quite overlook the opposition between earth and
heaven, I recommend this meditation.
EVIDENCES OF CHRISTIANITY. 
I. MIRACLES--as precluding the contrary evidence of no miracles.
II. The material of Christianity, its existence and history.
III. The doctrines of Christianity, and the correspondence of human
nature to those doctrines,--illustrated,
1st, historically--as the actual production of a new world, and the
dependence of the fate of the planet upon it;--
2nd, individually--from its appeal for its truth to an asserted
fact,--which, whether it be real or not, every man possessing reason
has an equal power of ascertaining within himself;--namely, a will
which has more or less lost its freedom, though not the consciousness
that it ought to be and may become free;--the conviction that this
cannot be achieved without the operation of a principle connatural
with itself;--the evident rationality of an entire confidence in that
principle, being the condition and means of its operation;--the
experience in his own nature of the truth of the process described by
Scripture as far as he can place himself within the process, aided by
the confident assurances of others as to the effects experienced by
them, and which he is striving to arrive at. All these form a
practical Christian. Add, however, a gradual opening out of the
intellect to more and more clear perceptions of the strict coincidence
of the doctrines of Christianity, with the truths evolved by the mind,
from reflections on its own nature. To such a man one main test of the
objectivity, the entity, the objective truth of his faith, is its
accompaniment by an increase of insight into the moral beauty and
necessity of the process which it comprises, and the dependence of
that proof on the causes asserted. Believe, and if thy belief be
right, that insight which gradually transmutes faith into knowledge
will be the reward of that belief. The Christian, to whom, after a
long profession of Christianity, the mysteries remain as much
mysteries as before, is in the same state as a schoolboy with regard
to his arithmetic to whom the _facit_ at the end of the examples in
his cyphering book is the whole ground for his assuming that such and
such figures amount to so and so.
3rd. In the above I include the increasing discoveries in the
correspondence of the history, the doctrines and the promises of
Christianity, with the past, present, and probable future of human
nature; and in this state a fair comparison of the religion as a
divine philosophy, with all other religions which have pretended to
revelations and all other systems of philosophy; both with regard to
the totality of its truth and its identification with the manifest
march of affairs.
I should conclude that, if we suppose a man to have convinced himself
that not only the doctrines of Christianity, which may be conceived
independently of history or time, as the Trinity, spiritual influences,
&c. are coincident with the truths which his reason, thus strengthened,
has evolved from its own sources, but that the historical dogmas,
namely, of the incarnation of the creative Logos, and his becoming a
personal agent, are themselves founded in philosophical necessity; then
it seems irrational, that such a man should reject the belief of the
actual appearance of a religion strictly correspondent therewith, at a
given time recorded, even as much as that he should reject Caesar's
account of his wars in Gaul, after he has convinced himself 'a priori of
As the result of these convictions he will not scruple to receive the
particular miracles recorded, inasmuch as it would be miraculous that an
incarnate God should not work what must to mere men appear as miracles;
inasmuch as it is strictly accordant with the ends and benevolent nature
of such a being, to commence the elevation of man above his mere senses
by attracting and enforcing attention, first through an appeal to those
senses. But with equal reason will he expect that no other or greater
force should be laid on these miracles as such; that they should not be
spoken of as good in themselves, much less as the adequate and ultimate
proof of that religion; and likewise he will receive additional
satisfaction, should he find these miracles so wrought, and on such
occasions, as to give them a personal value as symbols of important
truths when their miraculousness was no longer needful or efficacious.
[Footnote 1: Dictated to, and communicated by, Dr. Brabant of Devizes.
Nov. 3, 1816.
I. I believe that I am a free-agent, inasmuch as, and so far as, I have
a will, which renders me justly responsible for my actions, omissive as
well as commissive. Likewise that I possess reason, or a law of right
and wrong, which, uniting with my sense of moral responsibility,
constitutes the voice of conscience.
II. Hence it becomes my absolute duty to believe, and I do believe, that
there is a God, that is, a Being, in whom supreme reason and a most holy
will are one with an infinite power; and that all holy will is
coincident with the will of God, and therefore secure in its ultimate
consequences by His omnipotence;--having, if such similitude be not
unlawful, such a relation to the goodness of the Almighty, as a perfect
time-piece will have to the sun.
The wonderful works of God in the sensible world are a perpetual
discourse, reminding me of his existence, and shadowing out to me his
perfections. But as all language presupposes in the intelligent hearer
or reader those primary notions, which it symbolizes; as well as the
power of making those combinations of these primary notions, which it
represents and excites us to combine,--even so I believe, that the
notion of God is essential to the human mind; that it is called forth
into distinct consciousness principally by the conscience, and
auxiliarly by the manifest adaptation of means to ends in the outward
creation. It is, therefore, evident to my reason, that the existence of
God is absolutely and necessarily insusceptible of a scientific
demonstration, and that Scripture has so represented it. For it commands
us to believe in one God. 'I am the Lord thy God: thou shalt have none
other gods but me'. Now all commandment necessarily relates to the will;
whereas all scientific demonstration is independent of the will, and is
apodictic or demonstrative only as far as it is compulsory on the mind,
III. My conscience forbids me to propose to myself the pains and
pleasures of this life, as the primary motive, or ultimate end, of my
actions;--on the contrary, it makes me perceive an utter
disproportionateness and heterogeneity between the acts of the spirit,
as virtue and vice, and the things of the sense, such as all earthly
rewards and punishments must be. Its hopes and fears, therefore, refer
me to a different and spiritual state of being: and I believe in the
life to come, not through arguments acquired by my understanding or
discursive faculty, but chiefly and effectively, because so to believe
is my duty, and in obedience to the commands of my conscience. Here ends
the first table of my creed, which would have been my creed, had I been
born with Adam; and which, therefore, constitutes what may in this sense
be called natural religion, that is, the religion of all finite rational
beings. The second table contains the creed of revealed religion, my
belief as a Christian.
IV. I believe, and hold it as the fundamental article of Christianity,
that I am a fallen creature; that I am of myself capable of moral evil,
but not of myself capable of moral good, and that an evil ground existed
in my will, previously to any given act, or assignable moment of time,
in my consciousness. I am born a child of wrath. This fearful mystery I
pretend not to understand. I cannot even conceive the possibility of
it,--but I know that it is so. My conscience, the sole fountain of
certainty, commands me to believe it, and would itself be a
contradiction, were it not so--and what is real must be possible.
V. I receive with full and grateful faith the assurance of revelation,
that the Word, which is from all eternity with God, and is God, assumed
our human nature in order to redeem me, and all mankind from this our
connate corruption. My reason convinces me, that no other mode of
redemption is conceivable, and, as did Socrates, would have yearned
after the Redeemer, though it would not dare expect so wonderful an act
of divine love, except only as an effort of my mind to conceive the
utmost of the infinite greatness of that love.
VI. I believe, that this assumption of humanity by the Son of God, was
revealed and realized to vis by the Word made flesh, and manifested to
us in Christ Jesus; and that his miraculous birth, his agony, his
crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension, were all both symbols
of our redemption [Greek (transliterated): phainomena ton noumenon] and
necessary parts of the awful process.
VII. I believe in the descent and sending of the Holy Spirit, by whose
free grace obtained for me by the merits of my Redeemer, I can alone be
sanctified and restored from my natural inheritance of sin and
condemnation, be a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of God.
The Trinity of persons in the Unity of the God would have been a
necessary idea of my speculative reason, deduced from the necessary
postulate of an intelligent creator, whose ideas being anterior to the
things, must be more actual than those things, even as those things are
more actual than our images derived from them; and who, as intelligent,
must have had co-eternally an adequate idea of himself, in and through
which he created all things both in heaven and earth. But this would
only have been a speculative idea, like those of circles and other
mathematical figures, to which we are not authorized by the practical
reason to attribute reality. Solely in consequence of our Redemption
does the Trinity become a doctrine, the belief of which as real is
commanded by our conscience. But to Christians it is commanded, and it
is false candour in a Christian, believing in original sin and
redemption therefrom, to admit that any man denying the divinity of
Christ can be a Christian. The true language of a Christian, which
reconciles humility with truth would be;--God and not man is the judge
of man: which of the two is the Christian, he will determine; but this
is evident, that if the theanthropist is a Christian, the psilanthropist
cannot be so; and 'vice versa'. Suppose, that two tribes used the same
written characters, but attached different and opposite meanings to
them, so that 'niger', for instance, was used by one tribe to convey the
notion 'black', by the other, 'white';--could they, without absurdity,
be said to have the same language? Even so, in the instance of the
crucifixion, the same image is present to the theanthropist and to the
psilanthropist or Socinian--but to the latter it represents a mere man,
a good man indeed and divinely inspired, but still a mere man, even as
Moses or Paul, dying in attestation of the truth of his preaching, and
in order by his resurrection to give a proof of his mission, and
inclusively of the resurrection of all men:--to the former it represents
God incarnate taking upon himself the sins of the world, and himself
thereby redeeming us, and giving us life everlasting, not merely
teaching it. The same difference, that exists between God and man,
between giving and the declaration of a gift, exists between the
Trinitarian and the Unitarian. This might be proved in a few moments, if
we would only conceive a Greek or Roman, to whom two persons relate
their belief, each calling Christ by a different name. It would be
impossible for the Greek even to guess, that they both meant the same
person, or referred to the same facts.
END OF VOLUME 1.
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