In philosophy equally as in poetry, it is the highest and most useful prerogative of genius to produce the strongest impressions of novelty, while it rescues admitted truths from the neglect caused by the very circumstance of their universal admission. Extremes meet. Truths, of all others the most awful and interesting, are too often considered as so true, that they lose all the power of truth, and lie bed-ridden in the dormitory of the soul, side by side with the most despised and exploded errors.


There is one sure way of giving freshness and importance to the most common-place maxims--that of reflecting on them in direct reference to our own state and conduct, to our own past and future being.


To restore a common-place truth to its first uncommon lustre, you need only translate it into action. But to do this, you must have reflected on its truth.



Leighton and Coleridge.

It is the advice of the wise man, "Dwell at home," "or, with yourself; and though there are very few that do this, yet it is surprising that the greatest part of mankind cannot be prevailed upon, at least to visit themselves sometimes; but, according to the saying of the wise Solomon, The eyes of the fool are in the ends of the earth."

A reflecting mind, says an ancient writer, is the spring and source of every good thing.--"Omnis boni principium intellectus cogitabundus."--It is at once the disgrace and the misery of men, that they live without forethought. Suppose yourself fronting a mirror. Now what the objects behind you are to their images at the same apparent distance before you, such is reflection to forethought. As a man without forethought scarcely deserves the name of a man, so forethought without reflection is but a metaphorical phrase for the instinct of a beast.


As a fruit-tree is more valuable than any one of its fruits singly, or even than all its fruits of a single season, so the noblest object of reflection is the mind itself, by which we reflect:

And as the blossoms, the green, and the ripe, fruit of an orange-tree are more beautiful to behold when on the tree and seen as one with it, than the same growth detached and seen successively, after their importation into another country and different clime; so it is with the manifold objects of reflection, when they are considered principally in reference to the reflective power, and as part and parcel of the same. No object, of 3 whatever value our passions may represent it, but becomes foreign to us as soon as it is altogether unconnected with our intellectual, moral, and spiritual life. To be ours, it must be referred to the mind, either as motive, or consequence, or symptom.



He who teaches men the principles and precepts of spiritual wisdom, before their minds are called off from foreign objects, and turned inward upon themselves, might as well write his instructions, as the Sybil wrote her prophecies, on the loose leaves of trees, and commit them to the mercy of the inconstant winds.


In order to learn, we must attend: in order to profit by what we have learned, we must think--that is, reflect. He only thinks who reflects11   The indisposition, nay, the angry aversion to think, even in persons who are most willing to attend, and on the subjects to which they are giving studious attention, as political economy, biblical theology, classical antiquities, and the like,--is the phenomenon that forces itself on my notice afresh, every time I enter into the society of persons in the higher ranks. To assign a feeling and a determination of will, as a satisfactory reason for embracing or rejecting this or that opinion or belief, is of ordinary occurrence, and sure to obtain the sympathy and the suffrages of the company. And yet to me this seems little less irrational than to apply the nose to a picture, and to decide on its genuineness by the sense of smell..


Leighton and Coleridge.

It is a matter of great difficulty, and requires no ordinary skill and address, to fix the attention of men on the world within them, to induce them to study the processes


[continue]and superintend the works which they are themselves carrying on in their own minds; in short, to awaken in them both the faculty of thought11   Distinction between thought and attention. --By thought is here meant the voluntary reproduction in our minds of those states of consciousness, or (to use a phrase more familiar to the religious reader) of those inward experiences, to which, as to his best and most authentic documents, the teacher of moral or religious truth refers us. In attention, we keep the mind passive: in thought, we rouse it into activity. In. the former, we submit to an impression we keep the mind steady, in order to receive the stamp. In the latter, we seek to imitate tho artist, while we ourselves make a copy or duplicate of his work. We may learn arithmetic, or the elements of geometry, by continued attention alone; but self-knowledge, or an insight into the laws and constitution of the human mind and the grounds of religion and true morality, in addition to the effort of attention requires the energy of thought. and the inclination to exercise it. For alas! the largest part of mankind are nowhere greater strangers than at home.


Life is the one universal soul, which by virtue of the enlivening Breath, and the informing Word, all organized bodies have in common, each after its kind. This, therefore, all animals possess, and man as an animal. But, in addition to this, God transfused into man a higher gift, and specially imbreathed:--even a living (that is, self-subsisting) soul, a soul having its life in itself. "And man became a living soul." He did not merely possess it; he became it. It was his proper being, his truest self, the man in the man. None then, not one of human kind, so poor and destitute, but there is provided for him, even in his present state, a house not built with hands. Aye, and spite of the philosophy (falsely so called) which mistakes the causes, the conditions, and the occasions of our becoming conscious of certain truths and realities for the truths and realities themselves--a


[continue]house gloriously furnished. Nothing is wanted but the eye, which is the light of this house, the light which is the eye of this soul. This seeing light, this enlightening eye, is reflection11   The dianoia of St. John, 1 Ep. v, 20, inaccurately rendered understanding in our translation. To exhibit the full force of the Greek word, we must say, a power of discernment by reason.. It is more, indeed, than is ordinarily meant by that word; but it is what a Christian ought to mean by it, and to know, too, whence it first came, and still continues to come--of what light even this light is but a reflection. This, too, is thought; and all thought is but unthinking that does not flow out of this, or tend towards it.


Self-superintendence! that any thing, should overlook itself! Is not this a parodox, and hard to understand? It is, indeed, difficult, and to the imbruted sensualist a direct contradiction: and yet most truly does the poet exclaim,

--Unless above himself he can

Erect himself, how mean a thing is man!


An hour of solitude passed in sincere and earnest prayer, or the conflict with, and conquest over, a single passion or "subtle bosom sin," will teach us more of thought, will more effectually awaken the faculty, and form the habit, of reflection, than a year's study in the schools without them.


In a world, the opinions of which are drawn from outside shows, many things may be paradoxical, (that is,


[continue]contrary to the common notion) and nevertheless true nay, because they are true. How should it be otherwise, as long as the imagination of the worldling is wholly occupied by surfaces, while the Christian's thoughts are fixed on the substance, that which is and abides, and which, because it is the substance11   Quod stat subtus, that which stands beneath, and (as it were) supports, the appearance. In a language like ours, where so many words are derived from other languages, there are few modes of instruction more useful or more amusing than that of accustoming young people to seek for the etymology, or primary meaning of the words they use. There are cases, in which more knowledge of more value may be conveyed by the history of a word, than by the history of a campaign., the outward senses cannot recognise. Tertullian had good reason for his assertion, that the simplest Christian (if indeed a Christian) knows more than the most accomplished irreligious philosopher.


Let it not, however, be forgotten, that the powers of the understanding and the intellectual graces are precious gifts of God; and that every Christian, according to the opportunities vouchsafed to him, is bound to cultivate the one and to acquire the other. Indeed, he is scarcely a Christian who willfully neglects so to do. What says the apostle? Add to your faith knowledge, and to knowledge manly energy, for this is the proper rendering of and not virtue, at least in the present and ordinary acceptation of the word22   I am not ashamed to confess that I dislike the frequent use of the word virtue, instead of righteousness, in the pulpit: and that in prayer or preaching before a Christian community, it sounds too much like pagan philosophy. The passage in St. Peter's epistle, is the only scripture authority that can be pretended for its use, and I think it right, therefore, to notice, that it rests, either on an oversight of the translators, or on a change in the meaning of the word since their time..



Never yet did there exist a full faith in the Divine Word (by whom light, as well as immortality, was brought into the world) which did not expand the intellect, while it purified the heart;--which did not multiply the aims and objects of the understanding, while it fixed and simplified those of the desires and passions11   The effects of a zealous ministry on the intellects and acquirements of the labouring classes are not only attested by Baxter, and the Presbyterian divines, but admitted by Bishop Burnet, who, during his mission in the west of Scotland, was "amazed to find a poor commonalty so able to argue," &c. But we need not go to a sister church for proof or example. The diffusion of light and knowledge through this kingdom, by the exertions of the bishops and clergy, by Episcopalians and Puritans, from Edward VI, to the Restoration, was as wonderful as it is praiseworthy, and may be justly placed among the most remarkable facts of history..


If acquiescence without insight; if warmth without light; if an immunity from doubt, given and guaranteed by a resolute ignorance; if the habit of taking for granted the words of a catechism, remembered or forgotten; if a mere sensation of positiveness substituted--I will not say for the sense of certainty, but--for that calm assurance, the very means and conditions of which it supersedes; if a belief that seeks the darkness, and yet strikes no root, immoveable as the limpet from the rock, and, like the limpet, fixed there by mere force of adhesion;--if these suffice to make men Christians, in what sense could the apostle affirm that believers receive, not indeed worldly wisdom, that comes to nought, but the wisdom of God, that we might know and comprehend the things that are freely given to us of God? On what grounds could he denounce the sincerest fervour of spirit as defective,


[continue]where it does not likewise bring forth fruits in the understanding?


In our present state, it is little less than impossible that the affections should be kept constant to an object which gives no employment to the understanding, and yet cannot be made manifest to the senses. The exercise of the reasoning and reflecting powers, increasing insight, and enlarging views, are requisite to keep alive the substantial faith in the heart.


In the state of perfection, perhaps, all other faculties may be swallowed up in love, or superseded by immediate vision; but it is on the wings of the cherubim, that is (according to the interpretation of the ancient Hebrew doctors) the intellectual powers and energies, that we must first be borne up to the "pure empyrean." It must be seraphs, and not the hearts of imperfect mortals, that can burn unfuelled and self-fed. Give me understanding (is the prayer of the royal Psalmist) and I shall observe thy law with my whole heart.--Thy law is exceedingly broad--that is, comprehensive, pregnant, containing far more than the apparent import of the words on a first perusal. It is my meditation all the day.


It is worthy of especial observation, that the Scriptures are distinguished from all other writings pretending to inspiration, by the strong and frequent recommendations of knowledge, and a spirit of inquiry. Without reflection, it is evident that neither the one can be acquired nor other exercised.



The word rational has been strangely abused of late times. This must not, however, disincline us to the weighty consideration, that thoughtfulness, and a desire to bottom all our convictions on grounds of right reason, are inseparable from the character of a Christian.


A reflecting mind is not a flower that grows wild, or comes up of its own accord. The difficulty is indeed greater than many, who mistake quick recollection for thought, are disposed to admit; but how much less than it would be, had we not been born and bred in a Christian and Protestant land, few of us are sufficiently aware. Truly may we, and thankfully ought we to, exclaim with the Psalmist: The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding even to the simple.


Examine the journals of our zealous missionaries, I will not say among the Hottentots or Esquimaux, but in the highly civilized, though fearfully uncultivated, inhabitants of ancient India. How often, and how feelingly, do they describe the difficulty of rendering the simplest chain of thought intelligible to the ordinary natives, the rapid exhaustion of their whole power of attention, and with what distressful effort it is exerted while it lasts! Yet it is among these that the hideous practices of self-torture chiefly prevail. O if folly were no easier than wisdom, it being often so very much more grievous, how certainly might these unhappy slaves of superstition be converted to Christianity! But, alas! to swing by hooks passed through the back, or to walk in shoes with nails of iron pointed upwards through the 10 soles--all this is so much less difficult, demands so much less exertion of the will than to reflect, and by reflection to gain knowledge and tranquillity!


It is not true, that ignorant persons have no notion of the advantages of truth and knowledge. They confess, they see and bear witness to, these advantages in the conduct, the immunities, and the superior powers of the possessors. Were they attainable by pilgrimages the most toilsome, or penances the most painful, we should assuredly have as many pilgrims and self-tormentors in the service of true religion, as now exist under the tyranny of papal or Brahman superstition.


In countries enlightened by the gospel, however, the most formidable and (it is to be feared) the most frequent impediment to men's turning the mind inwards upon themselves, is that they are afraid of what they shall find there. There is an aching hollowness in the bosom, a dark cold speck at the heart, an obscure and boding sense of a somewhat, that must be kept out of sight of the conscience; some secret lodger, whom they can neither resolve to eject or retain11   The following sonnet was extracted by me from Herbert's Temple, in a work long since out of print, for the purity of the language and the fulness of the sense. But I shall be excused, I trust, in repeating it here for higher merits and with higher purposes, as a forcible comment on the words in the text..

Graces vouchsafed in a Christian land.

Lord! with what care hast thou begirt us round!

Parents first season us. Then schoolmasters

Deliver us to laws. They send us bound

To rules of reason Holy messengers;



Few are so obdurate, few have sufficient strength of character, to be able to draw forth an evil tendency or immoral practice into distinct consciousness, without bringing it in the same moment before an awaking conscience. But for this very reason it becomes a duty of conscience to form the mind to a habit of distinct consciousness. An unreflecting Christian walks in twilight among snares and pitfalls! He entreats the heavenly Father not to lead him into temptation, and yet places himself on the very edge of it, because he will not kindle the torch which his Father had given into his hands, as a mean of prevention and lest he should pray too late.


Among the various undertakings of men, can there be mentioned one more important, can there be conceived one more sublime, than an intention to form the human mind anew after the divine image? The very intention, if it be sincere, is a ray of its dawning.

The requisites for the execution of this high intent may be comprised under three heads; the prudential, the moral, and the spiritual:

Pulpits and Sundays; sorrow dogging sin;

Afflictions sorted; anguish of all sizes;

Fine nets and stratagems to catch us in!

Bibles laid open; millions of surprises;

Blessings beforehand; ties of gratefulness;

The sound of glory ringing in our ears:

Without, our shame; within, our consciences;

Angels and grace; eternal hopes and fears!

Yet all these fences, and their whole array,

One cunning bosom sin blows quite away.



First, Religious Prudence.--What this is, will be best explained by its effects and operations. Prudence consists in the service of religion, in the prevention or abatement of hindrances and distractions; and consequently in avoiding, or removing, all such circumstances as, by diverting the attention of the workman, retard the progress and hazard the safety of the work. It is likewise (I deny not) a part of this unworldly prudence, to place ourselves as much and as often as it is in our power so to do, in circumstances directly favourable to our great design; and to avail ourselves of all the positive helps and furtherances which these circumstances afford. But neither dare we, as Christians, forget whose and under what dominion the things are, quae nos circumstant, that is, which stand around us. We are to remember; that it is the world that constitutes our outward circumstances; that in the form of the world, which is evermore at variance with the divine form (or idea) they are cast and moulded; and that of the means and measures which prudence requires in the forming anew of the divine image in the soul, the far greater number suppose the world at enmity with our design. We are to avoid its snares, to repel its attacks, to suspect its aids and succours, and even when compelled to receive them as allies within our trenches, yet to commit the outworks alone to their charge, and to keep them at a jealous distance from the citadel. The powers of the world are often christened, but seldom christianized. They are but proselytes of the outer gate: or, like the Saxons of old, enter the land as auxiliaries, and remain in it as conquerors and lords.



The rules of prudence in general, like the laws of the stone tables, are for the most part prohibitive. Thou shalt not is their characteristic formula: and it is an especial part of Christian prudence that it should be so. Nor would it be difficult to bring under this head, all the social obligations that arise out of the relations of the present life, which the sensual understanding

Romans viii, 6,) is of itself able to discover, and the performance of which, under favourable circumstances, the merest worldly self-interest, without love or faith, is sufficient to enforce; but which Christian prudence enlivens by a higher principle, and renders symbolic and sacramental. (Ephesians v, 32).


This then, under the appellation of prudential requisites, comes first under consideration: and may be regarded as the shrine and frame-work for the divine image, into which the worldly human is to be transformed. We are next to bring out the divine portrait itself, the distinct features of its countenance, as a sojourner among men; its benign aspect turned towards its fellow-pilgrims, the extended arm, and the hand that blesseth and healeth.


The outward service

of ancient religion, the rites, ceremonies and ceremonial vestments of the

*See the epistle of St. James, c. i, v. 26, 27, where, in the authorized version, the Greek word

is falsely rendered religion: whether by mistake of the translator, or from the intended sense having become obsolete, I cannot decide. At all events, for the English reader 14 old law, had morality for their substance. They were the letter, of which morality was the spirit; the enigma, of which morality was the meaning. But morality itself is the service and ceremonial (cultus exterior, of the Christian religion. The scheme of grace and truth that became** through Jesus Christ, the faith that looks† down into the perfect law of liberty, has "light for its garment:" its very "robe is righteousness."

of our times it has the effect of an erroneous translation. It not only obscures the connexion of the passage, and weakens the peculiar force and sublimity of the thought, rendering it comparatively flat and trivial, almost indeed tautological, but has occasioned this particular verse to be perverted into a support of a very dangerous error; and the whole epistle to be considered as a set-off against the epistles and declarations of St. Paul, instead of (what in fact it is) a masterly comment and confirmation of the same. I need not inform the religious reader, that James, c. i, v. 27, is the favourite text and most boasted authority of those divines who represent the Redeemer of the world as little more than a moral reformer, and the Christian faith as a code of ethics, differing from the moral system of Moses and the prophets by an additional motive; or rather, by the additional strength and clearness which the historical fact of the resurrection has given to the same motive.

**The Greek word

unites in itself the two senses of began to exist and was made to exist. It exemplifies the force of the middle voice, in distinction from the verb reflex. In answer to a note on John i, 2, in the Unitarian version of the New Testament, I think it worth noticing, that the same word is used in the very same sense by Aristophanes in that famous parody on the cosmogonies of the mythic poets, or the creation of the finite, as delivered, or supposed to be delivered, in the Cabiric or Samqthracian mysteries, in the Comedy of the Birds.


†James, c. i, v. 25. The Greek word,

signifies the incurvation or bending of the body in the act of looking down into; as, for instance, in the endeavour to see the reflected image of a star in the water at the bottom of a well. A more happy or forcible word could not have been chosen to express the nature and ultimate object of reflexion, and to enforce the necessity of it, in order to discover the living fountain and spring-head of the evidence of the Christian faith in the believer himself, and at the same time



Herein the apostle places the pre-eminence, the peculiar and distinguishing excellence of the Christian religion. The ritual is of the same kind,

though not of the same order, with the religion itself--not arbitrary or conventional, as types and hieroglyphics are in relation to the things expressed by them; but inseparable, consubstantiated (as it were), and partaking therefore of the same life, permanence, and intrinsic worth with its spirit and principle.


Morality is the body, of which the faith in Christ is the soul--so far indeed its earthly body, as it is adapted to its state of warfare on earth, and the appointed form and instrument of its communion with the present world; yet not "terrestrial," nor of the world, but a celestial body, and capable of being transfigured from glory to glory, in accordance with the varying circumstances and outward relations of its moving and informing spirit.

to point out the seat and region, where alone it is to be found. Quantum sumus, scimus. That which we find within ourselves, which is more than ourselves, and yet the ground of whatever is good and permanent therein, is the substance and life of all other knowledge.

N. B. The Familists of the sixteenth century, and similar enthusiasts of later date, overlooked the essential point, that it was a law, and a law that involved its own end

or law that perfects or completes itself; and therefore, its obligations are called, in reference to human statutes, imperfect duties, i. e., incoercible from without. They overlooked that it was a law that portions out

to allot or make division of) to each man the sphere and limits, within which it is to be exercised--which as St. Peter notices of certain profound passages in the writings of St. Paul, (St. Paul, (2 Pet. c. iii, v. 16,)



Wo to the man, who will believe neither power, freedom, nor morality, because he nowhere finds either entire, or immixed with sin, thraldom and infirmity. In the natural and intellectual realms, we distinguish what we cannot separate; and in the moral world, we must distinguish in order to separate. Yea, in the clear distinction of good from evil the process of separation commences.


It was customary with religious men in former times, to make a rule of taking every morning some text, or aphorism*, for their occasional meditation during the day, and thus to fill up the intervals of their attention to business. I do not point it out for imitation, as knowing too well, how apt these self-imposed rules are to degenerate into superstition or hollowness: otherwise I would have recommended the following as the first exercise.


It is a dull and obtuse mind, that must divide in order to distinguish; but it is a still worse, that distinguishes

*In accordance with a preceding remark, on the use of etymology in disciplining the youthful mind to thoughtful habits, and as consistent with the title of this work, "Aids to Reflection,: I shall offer no apology for the following and similar notes:--

Aphorism, determinate position, from the Greek ap, from; and horizein, to bound, or limit; whence our horizon. In order to get the full sense of a word, we should first present to our minds the visual image that forms its primary meaning. Draw lines of different colours round the different counties of England, and then cut out each separately, as in the common play-maps that children take to pieces and put together--so that each district can be contemplated apart from the rest, as a whole in itself. This twofold act of circumscribing, and detaching, when it is exerted by the mind on subjects of reflection and reason, is to aphorize, and the result an aphorism. 17 in order to divide. In the former, we may contemplate the source of superstition and idolatry;** in the latter of schism, heresy,† and a seditious and sectarian spirit.‡


Exclusively of the abstract sciences, the largest and worthiest portion of our knowledge consists of aphorisms and the greatest and best of men is but an aphorism.


On the prudential influence which the fear or foresight of the consequences of his actions, in respect of his own loss or gain, may exert on a newly converted believer.

Prepautionary Remark.--I meddle not with the dispute respecting conversion, whether, and in what sense, necessary in all Christians. It is sufficient for my purpose, that a very large number of men, even in Christian countries, need to be converted, and that not a few, I trust, have been. The tenet becomes fanatical and dangerous, only when rare and extraordinary exceptions are made to be the general rule;--when what was vouchsafed to the apostle of the Gentiles by especial


--Damasc. de Myst. Egypt; that is, They divided the intelligible into many and several individualities.


Though well aware of its formal and apparent derivation from haireō, I am inclined to refer both words to airo, as the primitive term, containing the primary visual image, and therefore should explain haeresis as a wilful raising into public notice, an uplifting (for display) of any particular opinion differing from the established belief of the church at large, and making it a ground of schism, that is division.

‡I mean these words in their large and philosophic sense in relation to the spirit, or originating temper and tendency, and not to any one mode under which, or to any one class, in or by which, it may be displayed. A seditious spirit may (it is possible, though not probable) exist in the council-chamber of a palace as strongly as in a mob in Palace-Yard; and a sectarian spirit in a cathedral, no less than in a conventicle. 18 grace, and for an especial purpose, namely, a conversion[^*] begun and completed in the same moment, is demanded or expected of all men, as a necessary sign and pledge of their election. Late observations have shown, that under many circumstances the magnetic needle, even after the disturbing influence has been removed, will keep wavering, and require many days before it points aright, and remains steady to the pole. So is it ordinarily with the soul, after it has begun to free itself from the disturbing forces of the flesh, and the world, and to convert[^†] itself towards God.


Awakened by the cock-crow (a sermon, a calamity, a sick bed, or a providential escape) the Christian pilgrim sets out in the morning twilight, while yet the truth (the )

is below the horizon. Certain necessary consequences of his past life and his present undertaking will be seen by the refraction of its light: more will be apprehended and conjectured. The phantasms, that had predominated during the hours of darkness, are still busy. Though they no longer present themselves as distinct forms, they yet remain as formative motions in the pilgrim's soul, unconscious of its own activity and over-mastered by its own workmanship.

[^*] Whereas Christ's other disciples had a breeding under him, St. Paul was born an apostle; not carved out, as the rest, by degrees and in course of time, but a fusile apostle, an apostle poured out and cast in a mould. As Adam was a perfect man in an instant, so was St. Paul a perfect Christian. The same spirit was the lightning that melted, and the mould that received, and shaped him.--Donne's Sermons--quoted from memory.

[^†] From the Latin, convertere, that is, by an act of the will to turn towards the true pole, at the same time (for this is the force of the prepositive con,) that the understanding is convinced and made aware of its existence and direction. 19 Things take the signature of thought. The shapes of the recent dream become a mould for the objects in the distance, and these again give an outwardness and sensation of reality to the shapings of the dream. The bodings inspired by the long habit of selfishness, and self-seeking cunning, though they are now commencing the process of their purification into that fear which is the beginning of wisdom, and which, as such, is ordained to be our guide and safeguard, till the sun of love, the perfect law of liberty, is fully arisen--these bodings will set the fancy at work, and haply, for a time, transform the mists of dim and imperfect knowledge into determinate superstitions. But in either case, whether seen clearly or dimly, whether beholden or only imagined, the consequences contemplated in their bearings on the individual's inherent[^*] desire of happiness and dread of pain become motives; and (unless all distinction in the words be done away with, and either prudence or virtue be reduced to a superfluous synonyme, a redundancy in all the languages of the civilized world) these motives, and the acts and forbearances directly proceeding from them, fall under the head of prudence, as belonging to one or other of its three very distinct species.

I. It may be a prudence, that stands in opposition to a higher moral life, and tends to preclude it, and to prevent the soul from ever arriving at the hatred of sin for its own exceeding sinfulness (Rom. vii, 13): and this is an evil prudence.

[^*]The following extract from Leighton's Theological Lectures, sect. II, may serve as a comment on this sentence:

"The human mind, however shunned and weakened by the Fall, still retains some faint idea of the good it has lost; a kind of languid sense of its misery and indigence, with affections suitable to these obscure notions. This at least is beyond all doubt and indisputable, that all men


II. Or it may be a neutral prudence, not incompatible with spiritual growth: and to this we may, with especial propriety, apply the words of our Lord, What is not against us is for us. It is therefore an innocent, and (being such) a proper, and commendable prudence.

III. Or it may lead and be subservient to a higher principle than itself. The mind and conscience of the individual may be reconciled to it, in the foreknowledge of the higher principle, and with yearning towards it that implies a foretaste of future freedom. The enfeebled convalescent is reconciled to his crutches, and thankfully makes use of them, not only because they are necessary for his immediate support, but likewise, because they are the means and conditions of exercise, and by exercise, of establishing, gradatim paulatim, that strength, flexibility, and almost spontaneous obedience of the muscles, which the idea and cheering presentiment of health hold out to him. He finds their value

wish well to themselves; nor can the mind divest itself of this propensity, without divesting itself of its being. This is what the schoolmen mean when in their manner of expression they say, that 'the will (voluntas, not arbitrium) is carried towards happiness not simply as will, but as nature.'"

I venture to remark that this position, if not more certainly, would be more evidently true, if instead of beatitude, the word indolentia (that is, freedom from pain, negative happiness) had been used. But this depends on the exact meaning attached to the term self, of which more in another place. One conclusion, however, follows inevitably from the preceding position, namely, that this propensity can never be legitimately made the principle of morality, even because it is no part or appurtenance of the moral will; and because the proper object of the moral principle is to limit and control this propensity, and to determine in what it may be, and in what it ought to be, gratified; while it is the business of philosophy to instruct the understanding, and the office of religion to convince the whole man, that otherwise than as a regulated, and of course therefore a subordinate, end, this propensity, innate and inalienable though it be, can never be realized or fulfilled. 21 in their present necessity, and their worth as they are the instruments of finally superseding it. This is a faithful, a wise prudence, having, indeed, its birth-place in the world, and the wisdom of this world for its father; but naturalized in a better land, and having the wisdom from above for its sponsor and spiritual parent. To steal a dropt feather from the spicy nest of the phoenix, (the fond humour, I mean, of the mystic divines and allegorizers of holy writ), it is the son of Terah from Ur of the Chaldees, who gives a tithe of all to the King of Righteousness, without father, without mother, without descent, and receives a blessing on the remainder.

IV. Lastly, there is a prudence that co-exists with morality, as morality co-exists with the spiritual life: a prudence that is the organ of both, as the understanding is to the reason and the will, or as the lungs are to the heart and brain. This is a holy prudence, the steward faithful and discreet (Luke xii, 42), the eldest servant in the family of faith, born in the house, and made the ruler over his lord's household.

Let not then, I entreat you, my purpose be misunderstood; as if, in distinguishing virtue from prudence, I wished to divide the one from the other. True morality is hostile to that prudence only, which is preclusive of true morality. The teacher, who subordinates prudence to virtue, cannot be supposed to dispense with virtue; and he, who teaches the proper connexion of the one with the other, does not depreciate the lower in any sense; while by making it a link of the same chain with the higher, and receiving the same influence, he raises it.

In general, morality may be compared to the consonant; prudence to the vowel. The former cannot be uttered (reduced to practice) but by means of the latter.



What the duties of morality are, the apostle instructs the believer in full, comprising them under the two heads of negative and positive; negative to keep himself pure from the world; and positive, beneficence from lovingkindness, that is, love of his fellow-men (his kind) as himself.


Last and highest come the spiritual, comprising all the truths, acts, and duties, that have an especial reference to the timeless, the permanent, the eternal, to the sincere love of the true, as truth, of the good, as good: and of God as both in one. It comprehends the whole ascent from uprightness (morality, virtue, inward rectitude) to godlikeness, with all the acts, exercises, and disciplines of mind, will, and affection, that are requisite or conducive to the great design of our redemption from the form of the evil one, and of our second creation or birth in the divine image.**

**It is worthy of observation, and may furnish a fruitful subject for future reflection, how nearly this scriptural division coincides with the Platonic, which, commencing with the prudential, or the habit of act and purpose proceeding from enlightened self-interest, [qui animi imperio, corporis servitio, rerum auxilio, in proprium sui commodum et sibi providus utitur, hunc esse prodentem statuimus,] ascends to the moral, that is, to the purifying and remedial virtues; and seeks its summit in the imitation of the divine nature. In this last division, answering to that which we have called the spiritual, Plato includes all those inward acts and aspirations, waitings, and watchings, which have a growth in godlikeness for their immediate purpose, and the union of the human soul with the supreme good as their ultimate object. Nor was it altogether without grounds that several of the Fathers ventured to believe that Plato had some dim conception of the necessity of a divine mediator, whether through some indistinct echo of the patriarchal faith, or some rays of light refracted from the Hebrew prophets through a Phoenician



It may be an additional aid to reflection, to distinguish the three kinds severally, according to the faculty to which each corresponds, the part of our human nature which is more particularly its organ. Thus: the prudential corresponds to the sense and the understanding; the moral to the heart and the conscience; the spiritual to the will and the reason, that is, to the finite will reduced to harmony with, and in subordination to, the reason, as a ray from that true light which is both reason and will, universal reason, and will absolute.

medium (to which he may possibly have referred in his phrase,

the wisdom delivered from God), or by his own sense of the mysterious contradiction in human nature between the will and the reason, the natural appetences and the not less innate law of conscience, (Romans ii, 14, 15), we shall in vain attempt to determine. It is not impossible that all three may have co-operated in partially unveiling these awful truths to this plank from the wreck of paradise thrown on the shores of idolatrous Greece, to this divine philosopher,

Che in quella schiera ando piu presso al segno

Al qual aggiunge, a chi dal cielo e dato.

Petrarch. Del Trionfo della Fama, cap. iii, 1, 5, 6.

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