網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

tion. It is a remembrance of one who stood prominently acquisition of the necessary qualifications, that, by an exforth as a beacon-light to the benighted and tempest-traordinary deviation from the ecclesiastical rules, he was, stricken wanderers of a dark and stormy age; and although at the early age of nineteen, and full five, if not six years the broad sunlight of a brighter day has diffused itself before the appointed period, admitted to the office of deacon. around it, still, in its rugged strength, it presents a proud This ordination was, by the interest of Abbot Ceolfrid, conand lasting testimony to those spirits whose intellectual ferred on him by John, bishop of Hagulstad, now Hexham, gloom it was its high province to illuminate, if not wholly | in the county of Northumberland, the monasteries of Wearto dispel.

mouth and Jarrow being in his diocese, as the see of DurIt was during the stormy period of the Saxon heptarchy, ham was not then in existence. But, although thus early when the antagonist principles of truth and error were still introduced into holy orders, his judgment and piety comstruggling for supremacy, that, in the year of our Lord bined to forbid his hasty assumption of the full duties and 673, the venerable Bede, the great teacher of religion, responsibility of the priest's office; eleven years of patient science, and literature, and father and founder of a por- and persevering study having passed before, from the samo tion of the Christian church, was born. His birthplace, hand, he received his ordination as a priest. He is, moreas recorded by himself, was at Moncton, in the territory over, said to have subsequently declined the dignity of abbot, afterwards belonging to the twin-monasteries of St Peter from a fear lest its manifold cares and anxieties should and St Paul, at Wearmouth and Jarrow. The whole of interfere too much with his favourite pursuits. Although the this district, lying along the coast near the mouths of the duties of the office to which he was now called afforded him rivers Tyne and Wear, was granted to Abbot Benedict, far less leisure than he had hitherto enjoyed, every hour by Egfred, king of Deira (Northumberland), two years that was not thus preoccupied was devoted to the attainafter the birth of Bede. This event took place in the third ment of spiritual and intellectual wisdom. He applied year of the reign of that monarch, who was the son of St himself to every branch of literature and science then known; Oswy, concerning whom ample information has recently and, besides studying and writing commentaries on the been given by our respected and talented townsman, the Scriptures, he treated on several subjects; on history, author of Tynemouth Priory. The dominions of the son astrology, orthography, rhetoric, and poetry; in the latter and successor of Oswy, by whom the union of the two pro- of which he was not inferior to any poet of his age, as apvinces of Deira and Bernicia had, previous to his death, pears by some of his writings yet extant. In addition to been completed, now extended from the Humber to the those arduous and multifarious avocations, he had under Frith of Forth, comprehending all the six northern counties his tuition several pupils, many of whom, under the influof England, and the whole of the southern part of Scotland.ence of his instructions, attained considerable celebrity, Of the parentage of Bede nothing has been recorded. At Thus, while shut up within the dark cloisters of his monasthe age of seven years, he was, by his own account, placed tery, this distinguished and truly venerable man employed under the care of Abbot Benedict, in the Abbey of Wear- his time and labours in the amelioration of that world with mouth; that of Jarrow, his reputed birthplace, being not which he, notwithstanding, seldom mingled. Rarely, save ve built. When, however, this last establishment was on some needful errand of mercy, did he set his foot beyond completed, he appears to have gone thither, under Ceolfrid, the limits of his monastery; and though the fame of his its first abbot, and there to have taken up his abode for erudition had reached even to the ears of the great father the remainder of his life. For a youth endowed with of the church, Pope Sergius, at Rome, he is believed never habits so studious, an intellect so comprehensive, and in- in person to have sought the applause of his cotemporaries, dustry so indefatigable, no situation could have been more It has been, indeed, asserted that his presence in the appropriate. Benedict Biscop, the founder of the monas Christian capital had been required in a letter sent by the teries, was a man of extraordinary learning and devoted-Pope to Abbot Ceolfrid; but this requisition, probably ness. He formed an exception to the generality of the from the death of the writer, which took place shortly noblemen of that age, who were no further advanced in learn- after, may, beyond all controversy, be established as never ing and literature that the Norman barons who succeeded having been complied with. He himself says distinctly them, being, though by birth a nobleman, unwearied in the that his whole life was spent in the neighbourhood of Jarpursuit of knowledge, and the amelioration of the condition row; and what more conclusive testimony need be required? of his country. Travelling, with this benevolent purpose, He is also, and with equal veracity, asserted to have been into foreign countries, he brought back and introduced into a resident and professor at the University of Cambridge: his own not only the literature, but the arts, heretofore un- but as this residence and professorship are dated at a known, of the lands which he visited. He was thus the first period when, according to all received chronology, he could who brought masons and glaziers into Britain, having need not have exceeded the ninth year of his age, all further of their services in the noble buildings of which he was the | inquiry into this assertion becomes superfluous. founder. In addition also to the vast and costly collections Of the many famous men who were disciples of the veneof books, works of art, relics, &c., which this distinguished rable Bede, are mentioned Cheulph, Maurice, Oswald, and

abbot imported on his return from his various travels, he Lador, who are stated to have been the founders of the I introduced the liturgy of the Roman church, together with university of Paris. He himself, as among his more

their manner of chanting, hitherto the Gallic or Mozarabic favoured pupils, distinguishes Huetbert, afterwards abbot liturgy having prevailed, both in England and Ireland. of Monmouth, to whom he dedicated his treatise De RaWith advantages so extraordinary, and a capacity so cal- tione Temporum;' Cuthbert, the successor of Huetbert, for culated for their full appreciation and availment, it may whom he wrote his · Liber de Arte Metrica;' Constantine, be assumed that the progress of Bede was every way com- for whose use he edited a dissertation concerning the divimensurate. He was, moreover, under the guidance of many sion of numbers; and, lastly. Nothelm, presbyter of Lonlearned and distinguished fathers, the order of the Bene- don, and afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, at whose dictines having, in all ages, been eminent for its encourage- request he propounded thirty questions upon the books of

ment of learning, and its provisions for its extension. It Kings. Although there were probably other disciples, whose 1 is certain that he possessed considerable knowledge, not names he does not specify, we should not, upon other evi

only in the Latin and Greek languages, but also in the dence than his own, be justified in including them. Hebrew. His own ardour in the pursuit of knowledge, Literary labours, and the routine of his ecclesiastical was, however, his principal and greatest incentive; for it services, form the whole record that is left to us of the life must be remembered that the rules of monastic discipline of Bede. We may follow him, day by day, in the cell, the by no means afforded to the student the uncontrolled dis- cloister, and the choir, and the same invaried routine posal of his time; the daily service and psalmody of the presents itself to our observation. Thus had he lived, and church combining, with other duties of a less intellectual thus, to the hour which completed the circle of his earthly nature, to occupy many of those hours which his inclina- course, did he continue to live. But little, therefore, re tion would willingly have devoted to other and higher pur- mains for us to commemorate, save the particulars of that suits. Such, notwithstanding, was his proficiency in the hour, and the immediate agency which was deputed to open the gloomy portals of the grave, and present to his selves. The first is the family arrangement. By the very gaze the light of that infinitude which lay, in ballowed law of our formation, an intense affection is generated in glory, beyond it. He seems, at a somewhat earlier period, the mother for her infant, even before it sees the light; and to have contracted a complaint which proved a source of man, who is born the most helpless of all animals, and affliction during the whole of his remaining life. An at- who would perish without immediate and incessant care, tack of this disorder had lately prevented his visiting his has all his wants supplied in that overflowing fount of friend Archbishop Egbert, and led to his writing that love, a mother's heart. Make a step farther, and per. valuable letter on the duties of a bishop, which is still in ceive the filial and the brotherly affections, as manifested existence. During the last few years of his earthly pil in that little group of individuals we call a family, and grimage, he experienced continual ill health; and, some dwelling under one roof. How admirable such an arrangeweeks before his death, appears to have suffered unremit ment for the formation of orderly habits, and for the rootting anguish. He was attended by Cuthbert, who had been ing out of that selfish feeling which is so apt to characterise one of his pupils, who, after Huetbert, became abbot of the man, when he lives alone. How excellent such a principle monastery. The Christian resignation with which he suf- for mutual defence, and how beautifully is it often devefered the dispensation that awaited him, has been the theme loped, when the various members, scattered abroad through of universal panegyric; and, in a letter of Cuthbert, is so the world, still acknowledge the ties of relationship, and beautifully recorded, that, did our space allow, we would still care for each other's welfare. How much is society willingly transcribe the whole; but must content ourselves benefited by these numberless ramifications crossing and with a brief abstract, as affording the best and most recrossing each other in every department of life. And authentic information on the subject :

how abortive and miserable have been all the attempts made • He was much troubled with shortness of breath for to divorce man from the economy of that family system, about a fortnight, but continued cheerful and rejoicing, which has been implanted by God, whether these endeagiving thanks to Almighty God every day and night, daily | vours are illustrated in the idle fiction of universal citizenreading lessons to us, his disciples; and whatever remain- ship, or in the gloomy block of a poorhouse, where paupers ed of the day, he spent in singing psalms; he also passed are torn from all the blessings of home. all the night awake, in joy and thanksgiving. By turns The acquisition of property, and the general acquiescence we read, and by turns we wept-nay, we wept always in the mode of its distribution, afford another instance of whilst we read. In such joy we passed the days of Lent, those special affections through which Divine wisdom and until the Tuesday before the Ascension of our Lord came, goodness are manifest. Property is not, as has been mainwhen he began to suffer still more in his breath, and a tained by some politicians, the creature of law; it is antesmall swelling appeared in his feet; but he passed all that cedent to law, and law only interposes to secure that which day, and dictated cheerfully. But he seemed very well to has already been gained. It is curious to observe the know the time of his departure; and when the morning manner in which the idea of property originates, and we appeared, that is, Wednesday, he ordered us to write with shall lose nothing, if for the time we convert the nursery all speed what we had begun. Having said much more, into a hall of political economy. A child at first grasps he passed the day joyfully till the evening. And thus, on at everything: the little monopolist would appropriate to the pavement of his little cell, singing Glory be to the himself not only whatever his bands can touch, but also Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost,' when he everything that is embraced within the range of his vision. had named the Holy Ghost,' he breathed his last, and so He stretches out his arms to the moon, and bawls most departed to the heavenly kingdom.'

lustily that it is not given him as a plaything. His wants The date of Bede's death is fixed, in Cuthbert's letter, on afterwards become less extravagant; but let us now enter Ascension Day, which occurred May 26, 735.

the nursery, and observe what is going on among the chil.

dren. “If one, for example, have just sat on a chair, though THE BRIDGEWATER TREATISES.

only for a few minutes, and then left it for a moment-it

will feel itself injured, if, on returning, it shall find the THIRD ARTICLE.

chair in the possession of another occupier. The brief The fifth chapter of Dr Chalmers's treatise is named, “On occupation which it has already had, gives it the feeling the special and subordinate Adaptation of External Nature of a right to the continued occupation of it-insomuch to the Moral Constitution of Man.' It differs from the that, when kept out by an intruder, it has the sense of former merely in the nature and character of the illustra- having been wrongously dispossessed. The particular chair tions that are employed. Clear and decisive as is the evi- of which it was for some time the occupier, is the object of dence derived from the three great principles that have a special possessory affection or feeling, which it attaches been previously discussed, in favour of the moral excellence to no other chair; and by which it stands invested in its of Him who has made us so fearfully and wonderfully, we own imagination, as being, for the time, the only rightful delight to perceive the same glorious truth beaming forth occupier. This then may be regarded as a very early indifrom what may be reckoned the inferior parts of the me cation of that possessory feeling which is afterwards of chanism. Certain special contrivances present themselves, such extensive influence in the economy of social life-a i which in operation are found materially to promote the in- feeling so strong, as often of itself to constitute a plen, not terests of virtue; contrivances which have not originated only sufficient in the apprehension of the claimant, but sufin the forethought of man; but which may be resolved into ficient in the general sense of the community, for subultimate principles in our nature, and have thus come di stantiating the right of many a proprietor. But there is rectly from God. Food is essential to our preservation; still another primitive ingredient which enters into this without it we must die; yet partaking of it is an act which feeling of property; and we call it primitive because anhas not been left solely to the conclusions of our under terior to the sanctions or the application of law. Let the standing as a thing right and proper to be done at certain child, in addition to the plea that it had been the recent periods. The instinct of hunger has been implanted for occupier of the chair in question, be able further to advance this purpose. It is similar in the moral constitution of in argument for its right—that, with its own hands, it had man. What is needful for the protection of life, for the con- just placed it beside the fire, and thereby given additional tinuation of the species, has provision made for it among value to the occupation of it. This reason is both felt by the class of instincts. This is seen in anger, and in the the child itself, and will be admitted by other children sexual feeling, both of which must be regarded as instinc even of a very tender age, as a strengthener of its claim. tive, though they are modified, refined, and guarded by It exemplifies the second great principle on which the nathe maxims of piety and education, the restraints of so- tural right of property rests—even that every man is prociety and the law. This idea is followed out in the sixth prietor of the fruit of his own labour; and that, to whatchapter, which is called 'On the Special Affections which ever extent he may have impressed additional value on conduce to the Civil and Political Well-being of Society' any given thing by the work of his own hands, to that ex.

Under this department two illustrations present them- | tent, at least, he should be held the owner of it. This

then seems the way in which the sense of his right to any | and recommends that all tithes be compounded, as they given thing arises in the heart of the claimant; but some | are in Scotland. He attacks the poor-law system in Enghit more must be said to account for the manner in land, and argues strenuously that all legalised assessment which this right is deferred to by his companions. It ac- should be abandoned, and that the support of the poor be counts for the manner in which the possessory feeling left to the unconstrained operation of Christian benevoarises in the hearts of one and all of them, when similarly | lence, a favourite theory of the worthy doctor, which we arcumstanced; but it does not account for the manner in have always found most popular with those who are the which this possessory feeling, in the heart of each, is re least willing to give to the sacred cause of charity. He

pected by all his fellows--so that he is suffered to remain has introduced the doctrine of Malthus, that population in the secure and unmolested possession of that which he has a tendency to increase faster than the means of subrretfully claims. The circumstances which originate the sistence, a doctrine which, as last modified by its estimable wise of property, serve to explain this one fact, the exist author, has always appeared to us as nothing more than ore of a possessory feeling in the heart of every individual a harmless truism. Population pressed upon the means who is actuated thereby. But the deference rendered to of subsistence when the little family of Noah came forth this feeling by any other individuals, is another and a dis- from the ark, and all the world was before them, and it tinct fact; and we must refer to a distinct principle from would be the same now, if there were only a hundred pertha: of the mere sense of property for the explanation of sons resident in the extensive valley of the Mississippi. It k This new or distinct principle is a sense of equity-or matters not how prolific may be the soil, and how broad that which prompts to likeness or equality, between the our territory, men will not, upon an average of years, latreatment which I should claim of others and my treat- bour to produce much more food than what can be profitment of them; and in virtue of which, I should hold it un- ably disposed of, either for their own wants or for sale to Muhteous and unfair, if I disregarded or inflicted violence others. No attempt is made to analyse this chapter, for in the claim of another, which, in the same circumstances the reasons above stated, and instead we give the followwith him, I am conscious that I should have felt, and ing enlightened extract, which will be read with especial wall have advanced for myself. Had I been the occupier interest at present, when commerce is establishing for itself

ut chair, in like manner with the little claimant who a broad and liberal foundation. De insisting on the possession of it, I should have felt "The philosophy of free trade is grounded on the prinni claimed precisely as he is doing. Still more, had I ciple that society is most enriched or best served when bir him placed it beside the fire, I should have felt what commerce is left to its own spontaneous evolutions; and he is now expressing—a still more distinct and decided is neither fostered by the artificial encouragements, nor night to it. If conscious of an identity of feeling between fettered by the artificial restraints of human policy. The the and another in the same circumstances—then let my greatest economic good is rendered to the community hy tegral nature be so far evolved as to feel the force of this each man being left to consult and to labour for his own bonsideration; and, under the operation of a sense of particular good-or, in other words, a more prosperous

city, I shall defer to the very claim which I should my result is obtained by the spontaneous play and busy comxil have urged, had I been similarly placed. And it is petition of many thousand wills, each bent on the proseDurrellous how soon the hearts of children discover a cution of its own selfishness, than by the anxious superinsensibility to this consideration, and how soon they are tendence of a government, vainly attempting to medicate mable of becoming obedient to the power of it. It is, in the fancied imperfections of nature, or to improve on the fies, the principle on which a thousand contests of the arrangements of her previous and better mechanism. It horsery are settled, and many thousand more are pre- is when each man is left to seek, with concentrated and vented; what else would be an incessant scramble of rival exclusive aim, his own individual benefit-it is then that a) ravenous cupidity, being mitigated and reduced to a markets are best supplied; that commodities are furnished tery great, though unknown and undefinable extent, by for general use, of best quality, and in greatest cheapness the sense of justice coming into play.'

and abundance; that the comforts of life are most multiLet a third element now be added. There is an appeal plied; and the most free and rapid augmentation takes nale to the parents as to the proprietorship of the par- place in the riches and resources of the commonwealth. frular chair which is under dispute. The decision in this Such a result, which at the same time no single agent in

ea is binding, and has all the authority of law, whatever this vast and complicated system of trade contemplates or te its nature, but it would be wise to respect those natural cares for, each caring only for himself-strongly bespeaks distinctions whose force is felt by each of the children. If a higher Agent, by whose transcendental wisdom it is, that this be done, we have the sanctions of law confirming the all is made to conspire so harmoniously and to terminate natural sense of justice, that every one has a right to en- so beneficially. We are apt to recognise no higher wigjoy the fruit of his labour. The application of this is obvi- dom than that of man, in those mighty concerts of human

s. It is only transferring our observation from the agency—a battle, or a revolution, or the accomplishment msery to the world, and changing our actors from chil of some prosperous and pacific scheme of universal educaeren to men.

tion; where each who shares in the undertaking is aware The second volume of Dr Chalmers's treatise opens with of its object, or acts in obedience to some master-mind a continuation of part first, which it will be remembered who may have devised and who actuates the whole. But was on the adaptation of external nature to the moral con it is widely different, when, as in political economy, some stitution of man. It refers to those special affections which great and beneficent end, both unlooked and unlaboured tunduce to the Economic Well-being of Society.

for, is the result, not of any concert or general purpose The word economic is used in contradistinction to the among the thousands who are engaged in it-but is the tril and political well-being of society; but the distinction compound effect, nevertheless, of each looking severally,

em disappears, and this chapter might, with great pro and in the strenuous pursuit of individual advantage, to Miety, have been styled an extension of its predecessor. | some distinct object of his own. When we behold the This chapter, moreover, labours under the serious disad- | working of a complex inanimate machine, and the usefulvintage of opening up a large extent of debateable ground: ness of its products—we infer, from the unconsciousness Pde of the author's positions will be questioned, others of of all its parts, that there must have been a planning and them will be positively denied, while a still larger number, a presiding wisdom in the construction of it. The concluTe apprehend, will be considered as digressions which sion is not the less obvious, we think it emphatically more

acumber and weaken his argument. It is no small de- so, when, instead of this, we behold in one of the animate fect, in a work which is intended to vindicate the ways of machines of human society, the busy world of trade, a nd to man, that its usefulness should be injured by beneficent result, an optimism of public and economical plunging into a class of questions which cannot but pro- advantage, wrought out by the free movements of a vast Teke opposition among many persons of unquestioned piety multitude of men, not one of whom had the advantage of ad ability. He discusses the tithe system in England, I the public in all his thoughts. When good is effected by

a combination of unconscious agents incapable of all aim, the history of moral science which deserves especial conwe ascribe the combination to an intellect that devised sideration. We have already seen that there are many conand gave it birth. When good is effected by a combination troversies respecting the origin of the moral senge, whether of conscious agents capable of aim, but that an aim wholly inherent or acquired; and if acquired, by what process: different with each from the compound and general result and not less numerous have been the disputes respecting the of their united operations—this bespeaks a higher will and groundwork of morality, or what it is in a specific action a higher wisdom than any by which the individuals, taken that makes it right or wrong. And yet amidst all these elashseparately, are actuated. When we look at each striving | ing theories, one truth stands out in beautiful prominence. to better his own condition, we see nothing in this but the that there is a reality in virtue, that man is a moral being, selfishness of man. When we look at the effect of this and that his constitution is constructed with as evident a universal principle, in cheapening and multiplying to the reference to holiness as the eye is for seeing or the ear for uttermost all the articles of human enjoyment, and esta- hearing. blishing a thousand reciprocities of mutual interest in the • Each partisan hath advocated his own system; and world—we see in this the benevolence and comprehensive each, in doing so, hath more fully exhibited some distinct wisdom of God.'

property or perfection of moral rectitude. Morality is not Chapter eighth bas a long title-On the Relation in neutralised by this conflict of testimonies; but rises in which the Special Affections of our Nature stand to Vir statelier pride, and with augmented security, from the tue; and on the Demonstration given forth by it, both to foam and the turbulence which play arcund its base. To the Character of Man and the Character of God.'

her, this conflict yields, not a balance, but a summation of There are many evidences of a moral design so obvious, testimonies; and, instead of an impaired, it is a cumulative that the mere statement of them is sufficient to make their argument, that may be reared out of the manifold controforce be felt. There is the feeling of compassion, which versies to which she has given rise. For when it is asserted could not have originated in a being who delights in by one party in the strife, that the foundation of all moralmisery: and there is also that strong tendency to speak ity is the right of God to the obedience of his creaturestruth, which would not have been implanted in the consti- let God's absolute right be fully conceded to them. And tution of man had his Creator been a lover of falsehood. when others reply, that, apart from such right, there is a How dreadful would be the consequences, were there no native and essential rightness in morality, let this be confaith in human testimony, and no confidence in commercial ceded also. There is indeed such & rightness, which, antransactions! Nay, the beneficial effects of truth are so terior to law, hath had everlasting residence in the chagreat as to enlist the very selfishness of man upon its side.racter of the Godhead; and which prompted him to a law, Particular occasions may arise, when much wealth may all whese enactments bear the impress of purest morality. be gained by an act of deception, but, in the long run, the And when the advocates of the selfish system affirm, that maxim will hold good, that honesty is the best policy. the good of self is the sole aim and principle of virtue; • Man is not an utilitarian either in his propensities or in while we refuse their theory, let us at least admit the fact his principles. When doing what he likes—it is not al- to which all its plausibility is owing-that nought conduces ways, it is not generally, because of its perceived useful-more surely to happiness, than the strict observation of all ness, that he so likes it. But his inclinations, these pro- the recognised moralities of human conduct. And when perties of his nature, have been so adapted both to the a fourth party aftirins that nought but the useful is virtumaterial world and to human society, that a great accom ous; and, in support of their theory, can state the unvary panying or great resulting usefulness is the effect of that ing tendencies of virtue in the world towards the highest particular constitution which God hath given to him. And good of the human family-let it forthwith be granted, when doing what he feels that he ought, it is far from that the same God, who blends in his own person both the always because of its perceived usefulness that he so feels. rightness of morality and the right of law, hath so deBut God hath so formed our mental constitution, and hath vised the economy of things, and so directs its processes, so adapted the whole economy of external things to the as to make peace and prosperity follow in the train of stable and everlasting principles of virtue, that, in effect righteousness. And when the position that virtue is its and historical fulfilment, the greatest virtue and the great- own reward, is cast as another dogma into the whirlpool est happiness are at one. But the union of these two does of debate, let it be fondly allowed, that the God, who de not constitute their unity. Virtue is not right, because it lights in moral excellence himself, hath made it the direct is useful; but God hath made it useful, because it is right. minister of enjoyment to him, who, formed after his own He both loves virtue, and wills the happiness of his creatures image, delights in it also. And when others, expatiating

this benevolence of will, being itself, not the whole, but on the beauty of virtue, would almost rank it among the one of the brightest moralities in the character of the God objects of taste rather than of principle let this be folhead. He wills the happiness of man, but wills his virtue lowed up by the kindred testimony, that, in all its exhimore; and accordingly, hath so constructed both the sys- bitions, there is indeed a supreme gracefulness; and that tem of humanity, and the system of external nature, that God, rich and varied in all the attestations which he has only through the medium of virtue can any substantial or given of his regard to it, hath so endowed his creatures, lasting happiness be realised.

that, in moral worth, they have the beatitudes of taste as The ninth chapter is on the Miscellaneous Evidences of well as the beatitudes of conscience. And should there be Virtuous and Benevolent Design, in the Adaptation of Ex-philosophers who say of morality that it is wholly founded ternal Nature to the Moral Constitution of Man. Among upon the emotions--let it at least be granted, that he whose these may be enumerated the law of affection, whose power hand did frame our internal mechanism, has attuned it in is invariably in proportion to the helplessness of the ob- the most correct and deliente respondency with all the ject; so that the more is needed the more is given. The moralities of which human nature is capable. And should external material world is rich in illustrations. There is there be other philosophers who affirm that morality hath the power of speech. Now, there is a distinct correspond- a real and substantive existence in the nature of things. 80 ence betwixt the organs of speaking and those of hearing, / as to make it as much an objeot of judgment, distinct from and the intermediate air is exquisitely adapted for the | him who judges, as are the eternal and immutable truths transmission of those sounds by which thoughts and emo- of geometry-let it with gratitude be acknowledged that tions are conveyed from mind to mind. Not only so, the mind is so constituted as to have the same firm bold of but even the inarticulate tones of music, the expression the moral which it has of the mathematical relations; and of the countenance, and the beautiful and sublime scenes of if this prove nothing else, it at least proves that the Author nature, have such a wonderful relation to our moral consti- of our constitution hath stamped there a clear and legible tution as to exercise an immense influence over it. Man is impress on the side of virtue. We should not exclude from a compound being, and while the spirit dwells in a material | this argument even the degrading systems of Hobbes spa habitation it cannot but be acted upon by the material world | Mandeville; the former representing virtue as the creation around us. There is one adaptation, however, derived from of human policy, and the latter representing its sole prin

ciple to be the love of human praise--for even they tell it is then alleged that God is benevolent, because there is thus much, the one that virtue' is linked with the well- a future state where all the disorders of earth will be rectibeing of the community, the other that it has an echo in fied. every bosom. We would not dissever all these testimonies; The voice of conscience thus assures us that God is a but bind them together into the sum and strength of a cu moral governor as well as a father; but this lesson may mulative argument. The controversialists have lost them also be learned by a careful observation of what is taking selves, but it is in a wilderness of sweets-out of which the place around us every day. There is much happiness and materials might be gathered, of such an incense at the much misery in the world, which cannot be accounted for shrine of morality, as should be altogether overpowering. upon the principle of a weak and indiscriminating tenderEach party hath selected but one of its claims; and, in ness on the part of the Divine Being, such as is commonly the anxiety to exalt it, would shed a comparative obscurity adduced by our opponents. But would it not throw a over all the rest. This is the contest between them-not flood of light upon the character of God, if it were found whether morality be destitute of claims; but what, out of that no small share of the good and evil experienced among the number that she possesses, is the great and pre-eminent men has its origin in moral causes? But can this be disclaim on which man should do her homage. Their con- | puted by any one? Are not the phrases holiness and haptroversy, perhaps, never may be settled; but to make the piness, vice and misery, found in every language, bound cause of virtue suffer on this account would be to make it together by a natural and irresistible connexion? Is it not suffer from the very force and abundance of its recommen the fact, that much of the happiness which we feel is dedations.

rived either from our own virtues or the good conduct of The tenth and concluding chapter of the first part is, others; and is it not a matter of perpetual experience and On the Capacities of the World for making a virtuous observation, that much of the misery with which human Species happy; and the Argument deducible from this, hearts are wrung arises from our own misconduct or the both for the Character of God, and the Immortality of Man.' vices of others? We are thus at no loss, amidst all the Some moralists have endeavoured to reduce all exhibitions anomalies and irregularities of human society, to determine of virtue to mere modifications of goodness; but there is a the question, upon what side God is, whether upon the side Foice within us which proclaims that virtue has an inherent of holiness or of wickedness. excellence, apart from its utility. There is also a class of Conscience still, however, points us to a future world, shallow theologians who act in a similar manner, and at where all the inequalities and anomalies of our present tempt to generalise all the moral perfections of Deity into conuition will be explained and adjusted, according to the the single attribute of benevolence. Beautiful pictures are immutable law of rectitude. Nor is it unimportant to redrawn of the loving-kindness of God, of the abundant pro mark that this indestructible feeling, as to the moral nevision which he has made to secure the happiness of his cessity for another state of existence, which will harmonise creatures, and that he has no other object in view. But present facts with the government of a God of justice, however pleasing it may be for sinners to contemplate him forms a strong argument for the immortality of the human under the character of a kind and indulgent father, who spirit. It may be thus stated : For every desire or eyery cannot persuade himself to punish any of his children, faculty, whether in man or in the inferior animals, there whatever may be their faults, and however current this seems a counterpart object in external nature. Let it be flimsy sentimentalism is in our popular literature, it is either an appetite or a power, and let it reside either in rebuked by the natural theology of the heart. When the sentient or in the intellectual or in the moral economy, standing in the court of conscience, man feels and acknow still there exists a something without that is altogether ledges, even with every inclination to deny it, that the suited to it, and which seems to be expressly provided for being with whom he has to do is a God of righteousness as its gratification. There is light for the eye; there is air well as of love, that he is a judge as well as a father, and for the lungs; there is food for the ever-recurring appetite that the heaven in which he dwells is not merely a para of hunger; there is water for the appetite of thirst; there dise of delights, but a sacred temple over which holiness is society for the love, whether of fame or of fellowship; presides. This one-sided system meets with an irresistible there is a boundless field in all the objects of all the condemnation whenever the existing state of things is ex sciences for the exercise of curiosity; in a word, there amined. Evil is in the world; how came it there! There seems not one affection in the living creature which is not is much misery and wretchedness; how can this be recon met by a counterpart and a congenial object in the surciled with the notion that benevolence is the sole moral rounding creation. It is this, in fact, which forms an imattribute of God? It is of no use to tell us, as is done, that portant class of those adaptations on which the argument there is good as well as evil, and that when a fair balance for a Deity is founded. - The adaptation of the parts to is struck, the former preponderates. All this may be true, each other within the organic structure, is distinct from but it does not affect the argument. It does not solve in the adaptation of the whole to the things of circumambient dividual cases. It does not explain how this man has nature, and is well unfolded in a separate chapter by Paley, more happiness and that man more wretchedness. It is on the relation of inanimate bodies to animated nature. like comforting a thousand persons, who are perishing with But there is another chapter on prospective contriyances, cold and hunger, with the assurance that they have had in which he unfolds to us other adaptations that approxino right to mourn, for if the income of a certain gentle mate still more nearly to our argument. They consist of man were divided into a thousand and one parts, there would embryo arrangements or parts, not of immediate use, but be enough to supply the wants of them all. The proposed to be of use eventually-preparations going on in the anisolution never fairly meets the difficulty of the moral prob- mal economy, whereof the full benefit is not to be realised lem. The difficulty experienced is not as to the amount till some future and often considerably distant developof evil which is in the world, but why any should exist. ment shall have taken place; such as the teeth buried in If benevolence be the sole quality inherent in the Divine their sockets, that would be inconyenient during the first Mind, why do we see the smallest portion of misery? Nor months of infancy, but come forth when it is sufficiently will it avail to assert that the inequality will be repaired advanced for another and a new sort of nourishment; such in a future world, and an ample compensation be afforded as the manifold preparations, anterior to the birth, that for all the distresses which have been experienced here. are of no use to the fætus, but are afterwards to be of inThis is assuming the doctrine of immortality, and even / dispensable use in a larger and freer state of existence; though this were admitted, how can we tell, without a such as the instinctive tendencies to action that appear higher species of evidence, that matters will be improved before even the instruments of action are provided, as in in another world. In point of fact, all this is but an in- the calf of a day old to butt with its head before it has stance of that vicious reasoning which is called reasoning been furnished with horns. Nature abounds, not merely in a circle. It is first taken for granted that there must in present expedients for an immediate use, but in provibe an immortality, because there must be a compensation dential expedients for a future one; and, as far as we can for present evils, that is, because God is benevolent; and observe, we have no reason to believe that, either in the

[ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »