« AnteriorContinuar »
tem of murder and bloodshed; as if the lives of a numerous set of men were intended by the Creator to be employed in exercising their reasoning faculties for the destruction of their fellow-men.
Can true virtue, sublime reason, and that reverence we owe to the Author of our being, in moments of calm reflection vindicate a system so deplorable, so unworthy the God of unutterable love? But our pursuing it in the way we do, making it consistent with our apprehensions of right reason, and with the intellectual powers with which we are created, in a degree makes him appear to be the author of our sins; and at once does away the merciful intentions of Omnipotence when he introduced the Christian dispensation of “ peace on earth, and good-will to men.”
As Christians, then, ought we to take his government into our own hands? even His, whose commands are " yea, and amen for ever;"--who has said, “ Love your enemies ; bless them that curse you; do good to them who hate you; and pray for them who despitefully use you?” May we not say with Erasmus, when treating on this, important subject, the unchristian and inhuman practice of war; “ But all this is laughed at as the dream of men unacquainted with the world: whence it happens that war is now cov
sidered so much a thing of course, that the wonder is how any man can disapprove of it;
50 much sanctioned by authority and custom, that it is deemed impious, I had almost said heretical, to have borne testimony against a practice in its principles most profligate, and in its effects pregnant with every kind of calamity *."
Many have been the efforts that men of supe. rior education and talents have made in order to assist human reason; and some have imagined that, by the rules laid down in the logical ar
*“'Twas man himself
First, Envy, eldest-born of hell, embrued
With violence rude to break
gumentations of the schools, sufficient has been said to insure the certainty of their effects; by supposing that temperament, passions, customs, pre-conceived opinions, &c., were possibly to be overcome.
But even supposing every outward means were used to place the mind in a proper situation for reason to comprehend rightly divine things; yet, as divine truth can only be an emanation from the Divinity himself, man, by all the powers of his reasoning faculties, can no more commard this emanation), than the arost profound philoso-,
Became its boast. One murder made a villain;
.. .: Bishop of London on Death.
pher can command the planets, when obscured by clouds, to transmit to us the light they borrow from the beams of the sun. The mind may in some degree, by making use of its reasoning faculties, be placed in a situation to receive the impressions of truth; but it can go no further ; it is not in man to illuminate himself. It may be ordered by a better wisdom than our own, that man should be disappointed even when he has got thus far, for this best of reasons, that it may be proved to him that the faculties he possesses are limited, and that the effusion and power of divine wisdom rest alone in Omnipotenge hiinself. .
But allowing that temperament, passions, &c., were capable of being overcome by the efforts of human reason, (which it is almost impossible to admit, seeing there are so many causes to bias its judgement,) it is not sure that in divine things it sets out right, and lays the right foundation. The scholastic divine may make use of the principles of logic in order to come to a certainty as to the truth of his axiom : and those who have imbibed wrong principles may have made use of these very means to establish their systems. Hobbs and Spinoza, for instance, pretended to be acute philosophers in their day; and the arguments they made use of convinced many of those who attended to their mode of argumenta
tion, conceiving it to be the truth. We are n&turally led, then, in our search after truth in divine things, to inquire whether we can be posi. tively certain that the foundation on which we build our superstructure is itself the truth. The mind, being wonderfully capacious, is often hurried away, and drawn in to make false conclusions, because the premises from whence they were originally formed had not been sufficiently considered, and were themselves erroneous, Hence philosophy, logic, and various other human means that man has endeavoured to chalk out for himself, in order to establish a certainty in divine things, cannot but prove for the most part ineffectual.
The way by which this certainty may be ob tained appears to be considerably less complex, and in its effects by far more universal. The disciples of Christ, or those numerous promulgators of the Gospel who lived some centuries after him, needed not logic or vain philosophy to teach them what was the truth :--perfect humility, and a total surrender of our own wills as to spiritual things, seem to be the means whereby the unlearned may be enabled fully to attain to divine Knowledge in perhaps greater simplia city and freedom from error than those who have perplexed ihemselves for years in the maxims of the schools.