« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
These observations may serve in some measure to account for the general inclination to deny to the divine being the possession of a sensibility. That it has no foundation in truth hardly needs a serious attempt to prove. The idea will not bear a moments examination. It is ridiculously absurd. To deny God a sensibility is tantamount to denying his existence, for it is a fundamental element of moral being. It would be as consistent with the belief in God's existence to deny Him intelligence or will; and indeed neither of these would be worth possessing without a sensibility. To deny God a sensibility is to deny Him what He has certainly given to man—is to make the Creator less perfect than the creature. If to escape this conclusion it be affirmed that the sensibility is a vice in the human constitution, we reply that this only aggravates the difficulty, for it charges God with either a blunder or a sin in laying a faulty stone in the foundation of finite being. But if God had no sensibility, where did He find the model from which He made man? The word explicitly informs us that God created man in his own image; but this He did not do, if He added to the mental structure an element (a third part of the whole) which never had a place in his own nature.
To deny a sensibility is to affirm that He whose name is love, has not the capacity to love or to be loved. It is also to affirm that he has no susceptibility to happiness, and no idea of what happiness is; for subjectively bappiness pertains exclusively to the sensibility.
To deny God a sensibility is consequently to affirm that He had no intelligent design in endowing his creatures with a sensibility, that is, with a capacity for good. If it do not appear obvious that the denial of a sensibility to God necessitates the denial of a capacity to love, we need simply to remind the reader of what we think has been satisfactorily shown in the preceding pages that love is in part an exercise of the sensibility. Consequently no sensibility no love. The denial of a will would certainly involve the denial of power to love. The denial of the sensibility equally involves the same. That God cannot be (on the supposition that He has no sensibility,) an appropriate object of love to other intelligences is a plain deduction from the fact that He is not capable of the least degree or any kind of happiness. He can have no experience of good or of ill, of pleasure or of pain, if He have no sensibility. Therefore it would be as absurd and impossible to love Him as to love the sun. If the remaining
assertion be thought untrue, namely, that without a sensibility God could have no idea of objective good, we would ask how can there be any conception of an objective reality to one who has no capacity for a corresponding experience—no inward sense to which the outward reality appeals? A blind man can have no conception of color, because he has no sense to which the idea can address itself. A being without a will can have no conception of volition. You might endeavor to explain an act of choice to his intelligence, but when you had done he would be none the wiser. Equally fruitless would be the effort to impart an idea of good to a being devoid of a sensibility.
In the further discussion of this subject, we shall be aided by the following remarks. The three departments of the mind, intelligence, will, and sensibility, stand related respectively to the three great objective realities, truth, right and good. What does this relation indicate as to the relative importance of the sensibility? Truth is in order to right, and right is in order to good. This is the only consistent arrangement of these terms, their only possible order of correlation. Accordingly good is the ultimation of truth and right—that without which they would be objectless and therefore valueless. It follows then that the intelligence is in order to the will, and the will is in order to the sensibility; it follows that this is the only true order of arrangement of which these terms will admit; and it follows that the sensibility is the ultimatum of the mental faculties, the crowning department of rational being. And this is undeniably true; for what were the intelligence without the will, and what were both without the sensibility! The intelligence perceives truth, but " what is truth” without a will to choose it? The will chooses the truth, but what is truth chosen without a sensibility to delight in it, and to derive substantial and eternal happiness from it?
How does this view magnify the importance of the sensibility! But its value receives additional enhancement from this further consideration. The objective realities, truth, right and good, have their worth in their subjective relations, that is, their relations to moral beings. If all being were annihilated there would be no worth in these objects, they would be mere abstractions. Indeed being is the ground of all value. Rational existences therefore are of greater interest than abstract verities, in other words being is the ultimatum of realities, the crowning fact of the universe. In
like manner we argue that being itself could have no value without a susceptibility to good, that is without a sensibility. Consequently as being is the ultimate fact of the universe, so the sensibility is the ultimate fact of being; and therefore the ultimate of the ultimate, the ne plus of all things. From these considerations it appears that to deny God sensibility is to deny Him not only one third part of a perfectly constituted moral being, but altogether the most important third, the ultimatum of the others, the very crown of being.
Moreover, if God had no sensibility He would be utterly unqualified to reign over a universe of intelligences in whom the sensibility is the paramount attribute. He could not appreciate their nature nor their necessities. He could have no sympathy with their sorrows, no participation in their pleasures, no interests in common with them, no solicitude for their well being, no delight in their prosperity, and no desire for their love, confidence or allegiance. He could feel no pity for the suffering, he could know no mercy for the erring, he could extend no protection to the weak, and he could have no sufficient inducement--if he could have any-to uphold the universe a single hour. He could have no proper discernment, no just appreciation of moral distinctions, of holiness and sin, or if he did discern these distinctions, he could have no adequate motive before him to lead him to sustain and reward holiness or to punish and prevent sin. He could not care whether virtue or vice was predominant, whether happiness or misery reigned. He could not understand either smiles or sighs. Supplications and maledictions addressed to him would be equaly unmeaning and equally unavailing. In a word, such a deity would be no better than the sleeping Brahm, Father of the Hindoo Gods. *
Such are a few only of the inferences deducible from the irrational notion that God has no sensibility. To sum up the whole in one word, a God without a sensibility is no God. Either then there is no God, or God has a sensibility. The fool may say in his heart there is no God;" but we choose the other alternative, there is a God and he has a sensibility. But if this be so, what prominence belongs to the sensibility in the divine perspective? Being a part of love, of course it occupies the foreground where love stands. It is the most prominent characteristic in the Divine mind. The infinite in telligence and the almighty will both do reverence to the sensibility, and lay their offering at her feet. We are perfectly aware that we seem to contradict a fundamental principle of metaphysics, that the will is the monarch of the mind. But it is only a seeming contradiction. The will is the monarch, but the sensibility is the empire-comprehends the interests over which this monarch presides; and we ask which is the paramount object, the king or the kingdom, the central throne or the boundless circle of interests which it protects and promotes ?
* It may not have occurred to the reader that the core-vice of Budhism is not that it does not recognize the existence of a supreme God, but that recogni. zing such a God, it removes him to an infinite distance from any concernment in human affairs, thus denying him all attributes from which might be inferred the slightest regard or solicitude for his creatuers, as though this would be derogatory to his supreme exaltation, and consigning these menial matters to deputy-divinities, multiplied by millions. This we think will be found to be the principle of all the higher forms of paganism, namely, they assume that the great God cannot condescend to reign directly over this world, either providentially or spiritually, but that while he sleeps in his supreme glory for ten thousand years, a host of minor duties are set to rule over the different departments of human affairs. If this be true, we are pagans in principle, just so far forth as we deny God a sensibility.
God has a sensibility! What inferences may we draw! First it is infinite. We do not hesitate to affirm that this is the most practically interesting truth that can be predicated of the Divine Being. An infinite sensibility! Its bearings are almost innumerable, and all of the most interesting character. Hence God's infinite capacity for happiness—hence his infinite desires for the happiness of the universe-hence his love, his mercy, his pity, his long-suffering, his tenderness hence too his wrath, which is like a consuming fire—hence his regard for holiness, his strict adherence to law-hence his complacency in the virtuous and his immutable purpose to defend, uphold, reward and bless them—hence the communion of the Infinite Spirit with all holy spirits, and the perfect union and oneness which according to his everlasting purpose shall forever subsist between all such and Himself. Every holy finite sensibility will at last find its eternal home in the bosom of the infinite sensibility-not so as to lose its individual identity, but to enjoy ineffable fellowship. This is Heaven!
Again, God's sensibility is perfect. Nearly all that we know here, by observation, of the sensibility, is of an unfavorable character. In man, it is constitutionally depraved, and its manifestations are often shockingly hideous. It is like a great, putrid marsh, from which arise deadly exhalations, and go forth more deadly streams-streams like those which the great poet describes
"Infernal rivers, that disgorge
In the fairest specimens of our race, the sensibility is a diseased, distorted, disordered thing, one-sided or capricious, weak or wayward, and forever interfering with the proper guidance of the mind. Even in the regenerate, it is the fruitful source of temptation and sin. With such facts ever before us, it must be very difficult to form a conception of what the sensibility is, when absolutely perfect. Such it is in God. There it knows no morbid states; it exhibits no monstrous, misshapen developments. It has no insatiate cravings, no lawless paroxysms. It experiences no blind impulses, suffers no headlong passions. It is in everlasting harmony with the intelligence and the will. It is perfectly and invariabiy responsive to the wants and weal of universal being. It is sensitive to the slightest call from the poorest wretch on earth. It is "touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” It sympathizes with every pang of sorrow that invades the human brcast. “ In all our afflictions, it is afflicted.” Every sigh and prayer enters its car; the tears of grief it bottles up. It pledges God, by the strong bond of INFINITE SYMPATHY, to heal suffering whenever it can consistently be done. The divine sensibility is ever wakeful, and incessantly active. It is a living ocean. O, the mighty heavings of its august emotions! The swellings of its pity! The tides of its joy and delight!
There is an idea which too many entertain of God, that, like human sovereigns, he is so much engrossed with the concerns of empire that he cannot notice the sufferings and regard the supplications of poor earth-born creatures. Many Christians, ill-taught or ill-starred, have carried this gloomy sentiment to their graves. There have even been ministers who have contemplated God in this sonl-freezing light. Such an one was the late John Foster. He saw God as a mysterious, infinite mechanist, surrounded by a maze of orbs surging through the void immense; while he himself seemed a tiny atom upon the outskirts of creation, whose faint cry for pity or for light would no more reach the infinite
than the moan of a London beggar would penetrate the rattling vehicles, crowding and clashing along, and arrest the atten