« AnteriorContinuar »
mate the inconsistencies, to fix the line of demarcation even in any one quality where the good ends and the evil begins—how impossible to feel assured in our calm, unbiassed moments that we know enough of their peculiar temperament, and of the situation in which they have been placed, to have been qualified to judge—the experience of every candid person leads him further and further from the prompt decisions and unqualified opinions which is the characteristic of youth and ig
The judgments of the world in the aggregate are more than all capricious, influenced by accidental success, by the event, by the prevailing tone of the moment, by the popular cry.' How the sense of justice revolts often at the sight of those standing high in public opinion, when we know that it wants but the lifting up of a certain veil to plunge them ten fathom deep. In short, we have only to consider the qualifications which are indispensible in forming a just judgment, to understand the difficulty of finding it. The person who is to judge according to truth, must be raised above our sphere of interestsso as not to feel their influence-he must know all, see all, understand all.
How we love and value those whose wisdom, disinterestedness, and candour, enable them to enter into our case, to give us the semblance, if not the reality of justice, how we cling to the appearance of impartialityhow a friend, if such a one there be, above all suspicion of prejudice or interest, out of the reach of error, who understands us before we have spoken, upon whom we can rely as infallible--how such a friend would be above all price. And if, in addition, this friend is in a state of life which adds weight to his opinion, which makes his sanction law, his judgment irrevocable—how impotent would seem all the slanders, and censures, and accusations of the whole world—how wholly indifferent we should feel, with this resource ready in our hour of need, to make the dark light, and the rough places plain.
Is there any one who has not at one time or another felt this the grand desideratum of life? When you have learned but too well your own fallibility-when you have discovered the weak points of all the human minds within your reach-when you find no resting place for the sole of your foot in the conflicting ocean of human opinion--when confidence is broken up in every direction, then recollect, “ Bat we are sure the judgment of God is according to truth”—then say if in this you do not, ought not to find every thing of which you stand in need; and there is surely no point in which human imperfection so clearly appears, and in which the want of some higher power makes itself so distinctly felt. Man is not sufficient to man—then think
what a contrast is offered by the Divine nature. Here, if
our hearts condemn us not, we have confidence there is perfect knowledge of the faculties with which we have been gifted, and of the powers entrusted to us -every working of the heart, every secrét spring, every moving cause, every shade of distinction between good and evil is at once open before him.
It is a knowledge at once general and particular; seeing as clearly as ourselves into our own feelings, thoughts, and desires; and seeing more clearly than ourselves, from whence these feelings, thoughts, and desires spring. Here is perfect wisdom, knowing all these things, to judge of their effects, and to connect the chain of circumstances and events:-it would be easy to imagine how a perfect and minute knowledge of all the delicate shades which separate one character, and one case, from another, might perplex rather than assist human judgment. Perfect wisdom alone can give to each its just proportion, and strike the true balance. And last of all there is this, that “we are sure the judgment of God is according to truth.” There is a sense of truth in every mind, which, however hid under the accumulated rubbish of interests, errors, or vices, is still to be awakened by forcible appeal ; and a person is
sometimes surprised, as by a flash of lightning, into the recognition of it; and this we may conceive to be the effect of the judgment of God; that the truth of it will strike the awakened sense with a new light; that we shall at once have a new world of ideas opened to us : every one has experienced this in a degree on hearing the judgment of some superior mind on any subject where inferior powers have bewildered themselves and you; how its arguments carried conviction with them; how you were surprised only that such had never struck
you before; how you seemed at once to see with new eyes : this alone is eloquence and genius ; to touch the chord of truth in the heart: in the works of taste, of art, of description, it is still truth that strikes us, truth that we require : and however we attempt to deceive ourselves about ourselves, there is still a glimmering consciousness that will not be extinguished, which in spite of ourselves sometimes acknowledges truth, and gives us a pang when circumstances make it disagreeable to us. So, it is to be conceived, will it be when we receive our final sentence of good or evil; the sense of truth and justice will arm alike the blessing and the curse, giving to the one a sweeter charm, to the other a sharper sting
Dante has described the happiness of heaven to consist in the content, drawn from this source; that even those in the lower circles of perfection and felicity, derive great part of their joy from the contemplation of the just proportion between their deserts and their reward.
“Frate, la nostra volonta quieta
Paradiso, Canto iü. V. 70.
Brother, our will
And well may we believe that what constitutes one of our greatest trials here, will form our chief delight in heaven, and most especially create within us that calm, self-sufficient, satisfying state of mind, which knows no want or desire; insipid to the restlessness of mortal frailty, bat constituting the very essence of real happiness and divine perfection.
He who made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up
thy bed, and walk.-JOHN v. 11. How beautiful is the simplicity of this reply! There was no need of argument or cavil—the recovered patient saw no difficulty-nothing to reason upon or dispute about the case was to him a plain one-he had not occasion to consult the letter of the law, or the opinions of men, or his own reason—not one of all these things had come into his mind when he had taken the burthen on his shoulders, and not one of them occurred to him in excuse when charged with doing wrong. He who had made him miraculously whole, the same had bidden him it mattered little what he bade him-prompt and simple obedience was a thing of course ; and had he argued for an hour on the propriety of his conduct, he had said no more than this. How beautiful, when it resembles this, is the obedience of the regenerated spirit, made whole, pardoned, and recovered, by the love and pity of his Redeemer. There is no more questioning about the fitness or reasonableness of the command-he cedes to the cold moralist his arguments, and to the philosopher his casuistry—of the result of their deliberations he neither asks nor cares. There is a change in his condition, as perceptible to him
self as the impotent sufferer's to him, from the love of sin to the desire of holiness-from the worship of the world to the worship of God-from guilt and condemnation to pardon and peace-from absolute incapacity of amending or changing his condition, to the power of rising up and doing what he is commanded. And now it is enough for him, whatever be the question or the case, simply to say that he is bidden. He may know why or he may not know why-it may seem to him clear or it may seem mysterious his judgment may be with the fiat or against. Men may write volumes to prove that what God has said is just, yet can add no confirmation to his word—they may write volumes to prove that it cannot be so, yet can take nothing from its certainty. With these things let others please themselves—with him they are no part of the question. The simple word of God whatever it regards, the simple will of God wherever it has been expressed, is his rule, his right, his law, his reason-his all-sufficient answer to whatever may be questioned of his conduct or his creed" He who made me whole, the same said unto me.”
But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man
rob God?-MALACHI üi. 7, 8. Our lips full often, and our hearts much oftener, make this reply, alike to God and to his messengers, when they bid us repent and exhort us to return: we perceive not whereof we are to repent, nor wherein we are to return. Right in our own eyes, at peace in our conscience, and safe, for aught we see, in our accustomed paths, the exhortations of the righteous seem to us impertinent, the exhortations of God himself something not applicable to our case, and not intended for us therefore we turn aside from hearing them, or let them pass by us as an empty sound, the concern of others it may be, but not
And this mistake above every other, above all others united, perhaps, confirms men in the wrong, and leaves them to perdition. We will not believe that we are