Page images
PDF
EPUB

pressing his most bitter complaints against the uni-| forgotten many of the opinions he had renounced, versal spirit of “ Bibliolatry” in England.' He and because of the remarkable positiveness with finds the attempt to maintain an authoritative reve- which he in most cases adopted for the moment lation, which he thinks so mischievous, to be com- the successive modifications of his views. Even mon to Christian persuasions generally.” The the phenomena of his own mind, which seem to ordinary idea of God, he says, is anthropomorphic, have been latterly his only remaining realities, are it is gross idolatry. Nay, he repeatedly laments stated by him in modes quite irreconcilable with the prevalence and power of superstition even each other. For example, during his later life the among the Unitarians. All this affords ground constant tenor of his representation is, that his for thankfulness; and tends to support the hope return to what he terms orthodoxy, and what we that, although the prevalent notions in this coun- should call partial belief, for some years between try may on several points of religion be inexact-1812 and 1818, and again between 1825 and 1832, although a dangerous licence is assumed of dis was the effect of his religious sympathies, obtaintinguishing between different articles of faith ing for the time the mastery over his understandaccording to their supposed importance to the indi- ing.' But at the first of ihese periods he had vidual mind--although even schism and heresy be taken a direcily opposite view ; for he embodied too manifest among us--still those habits of mind his sentiments in the prayer which follows: are deeply rooted in the people which are the fun- “ O Lord, my heavenly Father, who knowest damnental conditions of Catholic faith-the view, how much of sin still remains in my heart, root out namely, of revelation as something fixed and im- of my mind, I beseech thee, the habits of unbelief mutable, and the conviction of the ethical charac- which I often feel in myself, stirring against the ter of Christian dogmas, and of their indissoluble full persuasion of my understanding on the truth connection with the conduct of life. While this is of thy revelation, and the strong desire of my heart the case, even though the walls should be thrown after that perfect and tranquil assurance in the down, and the foundations laid bare, still their promises of thy Gospel ; of which, through the seat in the heart and mind of man is unas- impious conduct of my youth, I have made myself sailed.

absolutely unworthy. So much for Mr. Blanco White as a witness to He expresses the same sentiments in his “ Pracfacts. When we turn to the consideration of his tical and Internal Evidence against Catholicism.”' claims as a teacher in divine philosophy, we are Now, upon the whole, we believe that there not alike baffled by the weakness, the incongruity, and only may, but must be, very considerable truth in the perpetual defluxion of his doctrines. He was these earlier statements. Because the fact stands indeed, during the last ten years of his life, in a upon record that he had passed (between Spain kind of moral atrophy, incessantly employed upon and England) at least ten years in total unbelief. mental speculation, but qaite incapable of deriving Was it possible that in so long a period he could nourishment from that which he devoured with an fail to form skeptical habits of mind; and had they appetite so ravenous. So that he pined more and not time to become to a considerable degree inmore, from year to year: and we can scarcely veterate? It must be borne in mind that our intelmeasure the miserable intensity of his disease when lectual as well as our moral nature is liable to be we find him sunk so far below the Unitarian heresy powerfully affected by habits previously formed. as to write to Mr. Norton, the Unitarian professor, We know, for instance, that a statesman, a divine, that they differ on essentials ;and when the same and a lawyer, each fairly representing his class, Mr. Norton, himself a Christian in the Unitarian will usually take different views of a subject even sense, “ in his controversy with Mr. Ripley, had where they agree in their conclusion : ihat they completely excluded him (Mr. Blanco White) from must approach it with distinct predispositions. the class of Christians,'** under the influence of These predispositions are the results of their the spirit of orthodoxy. It was indeed no great several employments, which propose to them the wonder that any one should have done so, with several ends of policy, law, and divine truth, and whom human language was other than a mockery modify their common mental acts accordingly. and a fraud ; for about the same time Mr. Blanco Much more must this be the case where the operaWhite was surely preparing himself for emanci- tive cause cuts so deep, lies so close to the very pation from the last of his fetters, the name of root of our moral being, as in a case of total unbeour religion, or he could hardly have written lief combined with the exterior acts of the sacerthus :7_

dotal profession. But Mr. Blanco White, so far “How superior, in various respects, is Islamism from seeing in these facts of his history any disto superstitious Christianity! It may shock many, qualification, whether total or partial, for his philobut I must express my expectation that both the sophical investigations on moral subjects, rather corrupt church Christianity and Islamism itself pleads the tenor of his whole life as his grand will disappear in the course of ages, and that the claim to credit. Thus he writes to Miss L two religions will return to their primitive source in 1836 :--the pure patriarchal and primitive view, the true Having gone through almost every modificaChristian view, of God and man !'?$

tion of the spirit of devotion, except those which And a little further on he institutes a contrast bear the stamp of gross extravagance, I must posbetween Paganism and Christianity, in direct dis- sess a practical knowledge of the ariful disguises paragement of the latter.

of superstition, which no natural talent, no powers The contradictions with which his work abounds of thought, can give by means of study and mediare indescribable. He indeed wonders at his own tation. It is the results of that individual experiintellectual consistency'-—probably because he had ence, and not any new doctrine or theoretical sys

tem, which I have thought it a duty of Christian For instance, II., pp. 13, 136, 191, 344 ; III., p. 380. 2 III., p. 66.

3 III., p. 78.

friendship to give you without disguise." * I., pp. 223, 264, 275, 276. 5 Life, II., p. 361. 6 Ib., III., p. 207.

7 Ib., III., 277, note. | Life, I., pp. 320, 340, 363 ; III., 128. 8 Ib., III., p. 280.

9 Ib., III., p. 29. 2 Ib., I., p. 319. 3 Page 17. + Life, II., p. 262. 8 Ib., II., p. 282. • Ib., II., p. 270. 16 Ib., III., p. 25. 1 Life, II., p. 92: see also pp. 86, 101, 121, 123, 124.

66

a

It is true he speaks of experience, not of opin- | only turn to the light within him and follow it, forions ; but, in point of fact, thought is mental getting the dark mystery of his existence. Then experience; and if the distinction can be drawn, it he ceased to realize Christianity as an historical is quite irrelevant here, for the very letter from revelation. He ceased to perceive the duty of which the citation is taken is one of pure theory. prayer. He lost his view of the personal immor

We say, therefore, that when we find Mr. tality of the soul. He placed the idea of the Blanco White systematically ignoring the effect Deity somewhere between the Christian belief and which ten years of unbelief not only might but | Pantheism, and declared the latter to be the lesser must have had upon the habits of his mind, we evil. He reminds us of the long descent in the are driven to conclude that he was, however quick Inferno, from stage to stage, and circle to circle, and inquisitive, yet a careless, and therefore a bad each lower and each narrower than the last, until psychologist.

it ends in the eternal ice of Giudecca. The His writings do not indeed present a system of accompaniments, as regarded his own peace, of belief or of unbelief sufficiently definite to be the this process of destruction, he has feelingly desubject of methodical argument throughout; and scribed in these lines (1837) :they are not less irregular and incongruous in sub- “ Brother, or sister, whosoe'er thou art ! stance than they are in form. They are constant Couldst thou but see the fang that gnaw's iny to nothing but to mutability. They present, how

heart, ever, a remarkable number of curious phenomena, Thou wouldst forgive this transient gush of and among them that of an intense satisfaction, an

scorn, ardor of delight, in the Unitarian creed and wor- Would shed a tear, in pity wouldst thou mourn ship at the period when he formally joined their For one who, 'spite the wrongs that lacerate societies in Liverpool :_

His weary soul, has never learnt to hate." “ The service at the Unitarian chapel, Paradise And we trust that his appeal to pity will meet street, has given me the most unmixed delight.” with a universal response. The claim made on (Sunday, Feb. 1st, 1835.)

his behalf, that he should be regarded as Previously to this he

standard-bearer of mankind, calls for firm resist“had no conception of the power which sacred

ance; many of his opinions warrant, and indeed poetry, full of real religious sentiment, and free demand from us, a sentiment nothing short of from the mawkish mysticism which so much horror; but the man himself, who, if he erred terabounds in some collections, can exert over the ribly, suffered not less deeply, and who, amidst heart and mind.

If Christianity is to bewildering error and acute and protracted pain, become a living power in the civilized parts of the still cherished many of the sentiments that belong world, it must be under the Unitarian form. What strikes me most of all is, what I might call to duty and to piety; he has a right to receive at the reality, the true connection with life, which should leave the dark questions of his destiny

our hands sympathy and tenderness, and we this worship possesses. All that I had practised there, where alone there is skill to solve them, in before seemed to lie in a region scarcely within view. Here the prayers, the whole

“ The bosom of his Father and his God.” worship, is a part of my real life. I

pray

with There were, it is evident, many signs of noblemy spirit, I pray with my understanding also.' ness, both in fragments of his opinions, and in his May I not say, that suffering every hour from the conduct to the last. After he had become a Unitableeding wounds of my heart, those wounds that rian, he could still discern? “ the essential miseven my friends touch roughly, I have been take which lies at the bottom of Paley's system ;" already rewarded for acting in conformity with and when he was sinking yet lower, he did not principle!”

cease (in 1837) to appreciate the excellence of And there is much more to the same effect. Bishop Butler's theory of human nature. He Shall we offer our explanation of the enigma recommended that in philosophical inquiries we which this outburst of devout gratification in con- should be on our guard against selfishness, and nection with the freezing system of the Socinian rule points in opposition to our inclinations. He worship appears to present ? It is this : the wave- held (1838) that our naturel was unable to comtossed swimmer, gasping for breath, had been cast prehend moral truth beyond its own degree of upon a shore ; he had not had time to perceive that purity. He contended that virtue has an authority it was a barren one, and he did not know that an- and obligation" independently of the ideas of our other billow would soon bear him back to sea. His indefinite existence, and of its securing our happimind had rest and satisfaction when he exchanged ness; and even after he had ceased to retain any interminable doubts and the disgusts of a false and determinate belief in our future life, he still clung abstractedly a dishonest position for the definite with happy inconsistency to the idea that in the view, and with the view the confession, of two hands of his Maker he should be safe, and that essential parts of the Catholic faith, the unity of God would certainly reward the disinterested genGod and the mission of Christ. Thus he exulted erosity of a friend." He cherished, with whatever in Unitarianism as a starving garrison make a ban- associations, the love of God,14 and maintained requet upon a supply of garbage. But this did not signation to His will, even when it seems almost imand could not last. The narrow measure even of possible to see how he could have had a dogmatic : Unitarian dogma was soon felt to be too broad for belief in the existence of a Divine will at all. There him. “Blank misgivings, questionings,” returned was, in short, a disposition to resist the tyranny' upon him. Skepticism was gorged for the moment; of self, to recognize the rule of duty, to maintain : but its appetite too soon revived. Only two years after these raptures' he was so perplexed in his

1 Life, II.,

2 Ib., II. 3 Ib., III., p. 63.. 4 Ib., II., p. 361.

5 lb., II., view of the being of God, that he said, man could

P.
6 Introduction, p. x. 7 Life, II., p. 87.

*

[ocr errors]

p. 318.

334.

11 Ib., II.,

12 Ih., III., p. 107. 3 Lise, II., P.

13 Ib., III., p. 20.

14 Ib., III., p. 107.

p. 300.

283.

the supremacy of the higher over the lower parts ers of the authenticity of the gospels: I will of our nature, which is not always equally observ- acknowledge that what is alleged against that able in less heterodox writers, and which imparts authenticity does not rise above conjecture. But, some tinge of consolation to the melancholy and premising that the authenticity would not prove painful retrospect of his life and opinions. the inspiration of those writings, I ask, have the

There are also circumstances connected with the arguments any higher character than probability in discharge of active duty, which should not be for- regard to authenticity ? Can anything but hypogotten on his behalf. We cannot banish all senti-thetical fitness be pleaded for inspiration ? Now ments of respect for one who twice in his life, for the orthodox probabilities have very high probabilthe sake even of erroneous conviction, and after ities against them; the hypothesis is all conjecmuch lingering and hesitation, severed himself tured. And is it upon such grounds that Heaven from almost every worldly good. There may be can have demanded an absolute certainty of belief persons who are entitled to condemn and upbraid in the authenticity and divine authority of the him ; but such a voice should not come from whole Bible? The demand would be monstrous ; among those who live in the lap of bodily and belief, according to the immutable laws of the mental ease, who have never experienced his human mind, cannot be stronger than its grounds. trials, and upon whom God has never láid the God, who gave such laws to our souls, could not weight of his afflictions. When he was bed- make it a inoral duty for man to act against them.” ridden, in his old age and in the solitude of his This was written in 1839. He had, however, lodging-solitude not the less sensible because he placed upon record some similar reasoning several dwelt in one of the streets of busy Liverpool-his years before, and with reference to his first inquison, who bears the queen's commission, returned ries in England soon after the year 1814. The from service in India to visit him. It is evident Scriptures, he there says, are that this period was one of great enjoyment and the highest authority in matters directly conrelief. However, keeping in view his son's pro- nected with Christianity. But even that authority fessional prospects, he writes to a friend that he is not entitled to implicit and blind obedience. has advised him to return to India ;' and, he Why? Because the authenticity of those writings adds,

is only an historical probability." “but as I shook him by the hand on Saturday “The case is exactly parallel to that of the evening, knowing that I should in all probability Roman Catholic divines when defending the suprenever see him again, I could hardly contain my macy and infallibility of Peter and his pretended anguish within my bosom. Fortunately I was successors.? * * going to bed, where I could give way to my sor- “ 'The foundation of certainty must be ccrtain. row.'

Divines would make the Eternal Fountain of And he enters in his journal, June 15th, 1839 :- Reason more illogical than the weakest man. If 66 Took my last leave of Ferdinand, and felt as if God had intended to dwell miraculously among my heart was breaking.

men in a book, as in an oracle, from which we He indeed ascribes this paternal act, so tenderly might obtain infallible answers, he would not have and delicately performed, to his philosophy; we left that first foundation of the intended certainty must take leave rather to set it down to the genial to probability and conjecture." instincts of a nature which, speaking according to These quotations, we believe, are sufficient to ordinary usage, we should call evidently an unsel- convey the form and the force of his argument; so fish one, and full of kindly affections.

that we may at once proceed to state our objecWe have stated that these volumes do not con- tions to it. tain any regular system of unbelief; but their We are surprised at the cool and almost conauthor has presented to us very distinctly the par- temptuous manner in which Mr. Blanco White ticular stumbling-block which' first, and also lat- speaks of the most celebrated work of Bishop Butterly, overthrew his faith, and which appears to ler. After commending the sermons of that great have been the disposition to demand an amount, or writer, he proceeds :rather a kind, of evidence in favor of revealed reli- " Butler's Analogy is an inferior work. The gion different from that which the nature of the argument of analogy, especially when applied to subject matter and the analogies of our human the Christianity of churches, is totally unsatisfacstate entitles us to expect.

tory. Let us then advert to the original form of the Now we must venture to hazard the conjecture delusion to which Mr. Blanco White became a prey that he had never adequately studied this “infeon the two greatest occasions of his falling away, rior” work; of which it appears to us that even separated as they were by an interval of some the several members, apart from the general arguthirty-five years—a circumstance which he con- ment, are so many distinct and permanent contriceives to be confirmatory of the justice of his butions to that philosophy which will endure as course—as indeed it is, if the argument itself be a long as the dispensation of our moral state. sound one, but which has a significancy of quite In his Introduction, Bishop Butler has given a an opposite nature if it be intrinsically and radi- brief view of probable evidence, its nature, scope, cally bad. Here then we will give the nqmror and obligatory power, which we think affords povdos, as he himself, and that apparently with no materials for the confutation of the sophistry of the small complacency, has stated it, and as he applied argument before us. Philosophizing upon human it-first to the authority of the church-secondly, action, we must collect its laws from a legitimate to the inspiration of Holy Scripture, and the induction ; and we cordially subscribe to the prinauthenticity of its component parts—the two pil-ciple, that “God, who has given certain laws to lars, in his view, of the system of Catholicity and our souls, could not make it à moral duty for man orthodoxy.

to act against them." “I will grant as much as possible to the defend

Lise, I., 279.

2 Compare Practical and Internal Evidence, p. 109. 11 Life, III., p. 65. Ib., III., p. 136. 3 Ib., III., p. 145.

3 Life, II., p. 282.

[ocr errors]

1

2

Now the argument of Mr. Blanco White appears, constitution of our minds, is such as to exclude all firstly, to confound belief with knowledge ; and, doubt. Human language applies the denominasecondly, to assume that orthodoxy, or the Cath- tion of knowledge to such assent, in cases where olic faith, is connected with belief rather than with this exclusion is entire and peremptory in the action, or with belief apart from action. As to the highest degree. Between that point and the point first : “ your evidences,” says he, “are not demon- at which a proposition becomes improbable, and a strative; therefore I cannot believe." This is a just understanding inclines to its rejection, an ingross inconsequence. We must entreat the reader finity of shades of likelihood intervene. For exto remember that in the language of metaphysics ample: where the exclusion of doubt is after conthe term probability includes everything short of sideration entire, but yet not peremptory and absolute and infallible, or properly scientific cer- immediate ; where it depends upon the compretainty; and with this single caution we proceed to hensive and continuous view of many particulars ; reply, demonstration is the appropriate foundation where it rests upon the recollection of a demonof knowledge, but probability of belief.

stration, of which the detail has escaped from the Assuredly, we are not about to take refuge from memory; where it proceeds from some strong the adversary in pleading the majesty of faith as original instinct, incapable of analysis in the last against reason, in an appeal to theology against resort: these are all cases in which doubt might experience, in inventing a new law of credibility be entirely banished, but we should scarcely know for religious purposes, which shall be inapplicable whether to say our assent was founded on knowlto cominon life. There is indeed a dictum in edge or upon belief, the shades of the two, as they vogue with some, “where mystery begins religion are commonly understood, passing into one anends;" which almost provokes the parody," where other; but generally this distinction would be antithesis begins common sense ends." But our taken between them; that we should call knowlintention is to charge upon the theory of Mr. edge what does not to our perceptions admit of Blanco White this intelligible and capital offence; degree, and what does admit of it we should call that it, like all the tribe to which it belongs, errs belief, although we might in the particular case against reason, against experience, against the possess it in the highest degree, so that it should principles on which the ordinary and uniform have all the certainty of knowledge ; just as we practice of mankind in ordinary life is founded ; can readily conceive two stations, the one at the which ordinary and uniform practice, and not the head of a pillar, and the other of a stair, yet of crotchets of a disorderly and unstable understand- equal altitude. ing, may suffice to show us, with some tolerable Now the fundamental proposition on which we clearness, what really are those laws which God rest, and for the proof of which we appeal, withhas given to our souls, and which it is not only out fear of a disputed reply, to the universal pracnot a duty to infringe, but the very first and high- tice of mankind, is this : that the whole systein est duty to observe in act, and to maintain in un- of our moral conduct, and much also of our condisputed authority.

duct that is not directly moral, rests upon belief First, we hold that it is only by a licence of as contradistinguished from knowledge, and not speech that the term knowledge can be applied to always upon belief in the very highest degree any of our human perceptions. For as nothing which utterly extinguishes doubt, but in every dican in the nature of things, properly speaking, be versity of degree so long as any appreciable porknown, except that which exists, or known in any tion of comparative likelihood remains, although manner other than that exact manner in which it many of these degrees may be hampered with very exists, it follows that knowledge can properly be considerable doubt as they actually subsist in the predicated only of those perceptions which are ab- mind, and many more cases would be open to serisolutely and exactly true; and further, that it can ous doubts if they were subjected to speculative be so predicated only by those who infallibly know examination. And further, that this, which is ihem to be true. In strictness, therefore, knowl- indisputable in point of fact, is not less irrefragaedge is not predicable by us of any one of our own ble in point of reason ; and that any other rule for perceptions; whatever number of them may be the guidance of human life would be not irrelitrue, we do not infallibly know of any one of them gious, but irrational in the extreme. We take that it is true. Of all the steps in the operations first a case of the highest practical certainty. of our mental faculties, there is not one at which How do we know that the persons who purport to it is abstractedly impossible that error should inter- be our parents, brothers and sisters, really are vene; and as this is not impossible, knowledge, what they pass for? It is manifest that the posithe certain and precise correspondence of the per- tive evidence producable in each case falls far cipient and the thing perceived, cannot be cate- short of a demonstrative character; nay more,

it gorically asserted. if, therefore, without knowl- is perfectly well known that in many cases these edge in its scientific sense there can be no legiti- relations have been pretended where they did not mate belief, this wide universe is a blank, and exist, and the delusion long maintained. And yet nothing can be believed: nothing theological, no- every man carries in his mind a conviction upon thing moral, nothing social, nothing physical. In the subject, as it regards himself, utterly exclua word, abstract certainty, in this dispensation, sive of doubt. And those who should raise doubts we scarcely can possess, though we may come in- upon it, in consequence of the want of mathematidefinitely near it: and knowledge and certainty, cal certainty, would be deemed fitter for Bedlam and all similar expressions as practical terms must than for the pursuit of philosophical inquiries. be understood not absolutely but relatively-rela- Here then is an absolute contradiction, supplied tively that is to the limit imposed by the nature of by that universal conviction and practice of man our faculties, and this not with regard to revela- kind, from whence by a legitimate induction we tion only, but throughout the whole circle of our infer the true laws of our nature, to the theorems experience.

of Mr. Blanco White, or perhaps rather to his Next to this abstract certainty, comes that kind grand inference from them, namely, that the deof assent to propositions which, according to the mand made upon men for the reception of Christianity is greater than can be warranted by the rea- I divided. This, however, is the exception, not the sons on which it purports to rest. But again, rule. In general we do not imagine that even the there are numberless instances in which a very nascent belief of Christians is seriously troubled great practical uncertainty prevails, and yet where with substantive doubts; but it clearly has not, and we must act just as we should if there were no cannot have, nor have the great majority of our most doubt at all. A man with many children will pre- rational acts in common life, a foundation in that pare them all for after-life, though probably one philosophical completeness of conviction, which is or more will die before attaining maturity. A an essential condition of the permanent and absotells B that his house is on fire ; A may have mo- lute freedom from doubt. But in point of fact, tives for deceiving him, but B, if he be a rational the formation of this mature belief, the mode of man, quits the most interesting occupation, and dealing with temptation when it arises in the form goes to see. But there is no end to the multipli- of doubt, is a high portion of the discipline of the cation of instances ; let any man examine his own soul; all that we need here lay down is this : to daily experience, and he will find that its whole hold that an absolute intellectual certainty belongs tissue is made up of them; or, in the words of of necessity to the reception of Christianity, is a that "inferior” work of Bishop Butler, “to us proposition altogether erroneous. probability is the very guide of life.''! Mr. We shall note one other and gross error, as it Blanco White might indeed have received very appears to us, in this part of the philosophy of Mr. useful lessons on this subject from an ingenious Blanco White. The stages of mental assent and and really philosophical brochure of Archbishop dissent are almost innumerable ; but the alternaWhately's, entitled “ Historic Doubts concerning tives of action proposed by the Catholic faith are the Existence of Napoleon Bonaparte,” in which two only. There is a narrow way and a broad he shows how open to abstract objections are the one ; in the one or the other of these every man, grounds upon which, as individuals, we receive according to his testimony, must walk. It will facts even of common notoriety.

not do to say, I see this difficulty about the ChrisNow it will not be enough for the opponent to tian theory, so I cannot adopt it; and that difficulretort that probability will do for small matters, ty about the anti-Christian theory, so I cannot embut that in great ones, and especially in what re-brace that; I will wait and attach myself to neigards the salvation of the soul, we must have ther. Could our whole being, except the sheer demonstration. For the law of credibility, upon intellect, be laid in abeyance, such a notion would which our common and indeed universal practice at least be intelligible ; but in the mean time, life is founded, has no more dependence upon the and its acts proceed : magnitude of the objects to which it is applied E mangia, e bee, e dorme, e veste panni :' than have the numbers of the arithmetical scale, and not only as to these functions, but also our which embrace motes and mountains with exactly moral habits are in the course of formation or the same propriety. It is not the greatness or destruction ; character receives its bias; there are minuteness of the proposition, but the balance between likelihood and unlikelihood, which we have and these matters cannot be wholly nor at all

appetites to be governed, powers to be employed ; to regard whenever we are called to determine upon assent or rejection. It is true, indeed, that adjourned. The discharge of the daily duties of when the matter is very small, the evil of acting the supposition that we have a Creator and a

our position absolutely must be adapted either to against probability will be small also. But this Redeemer, or to the supposition that we have not. shows that in a practical view the obligation of the There is no intermediate verdict of “not proven," law becomes not less but more astringent as the which leaves the question open : the question to rank of the subject in question rises; because the us is, Is there such proof as to demand obedience ? best and most rational method of avoiding a very and there are no possible replies in act, whatever great evil

, or of realizing a very great good, has a there may be in word, except aye and no. The lines much higher degree of claim upon our considera- of conduct are but two, and our liberty is limited to tion and acceptance in proportion to the degree of the choice between them. Here it is, therefore, that the greatness of the object in view. But, next, is Mr. Blanco White correct in say: credibility, as applied to the belief of Christianity,

we perceive the stringent obligation of the law of ing that the Christianity of churches demands from all its disciples, a: all stages of their pro, entailing moral responsibilities, upon the genera

upon man. On a subject purely abstract or not gress, an absolute and mathematical conviction? tion of the present structure of the world by fire or Where did he learn so severe a theology? Hooker? has shown in his sermon on the certainty and Water, upon the theory of vibrations in optics, upon

the system of Copernicus or of Descartes, we perpetuity of faith in the elect, of which the doc.

might have taken refuge in a philosophical sustrine is by no means lax, that true faith does not imply the exclusion of all doubt whatever. He pense, while the evidence fell short of demonstraeven says, speaking of revealed truths of them the error of withholding assent is not a fatal one;

tion; and even after the proof has been completed, at some time who doubteth not?” Bishop Pear- but the belief which Christianity enforces, it enson defines Christian belief to be an assent to that forces as the foundation of daily conduct, as the which is credible, as credible. But clearly, much framework into which all acts, all thoughts, all that is on the whole credible is open to a degree hopes, affections and desires, are to be cast, and by of doubt ; although it could not be credible unless which they must be moulded. Whatever it the doubt were outweighed upon a comparison by teaches, for example, concerning the work and the the evidences in its favor. meaning of “ Lord, I believe; help thou mine un person of our Lord, it teaches not in the abstract, belief?' There is, in such a case, a conflict to follow, in whom our whole trust is to be

but as holding forth Him whose steps we are within the mind : it is divided, though unequally reposed, with whom we are to be vitally incor

1. Introduction to the Analogy of Natural and Revealed porated, and whom accordingly we must needs Religion, p. 4. 2 Works, III., p. 585, ed. Keble, 1836.

1 Inferno, xxxiii. 141.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »