Philip saith unto him: Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him. He that hath seen me hath seen the Father: and how sayest thou then. Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in me? And I will pray the Father and he shall give you another Comforter, even the Spirit of Truth: whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him. But ye know him, for he dwelleth with you and shall be in you. And in that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me and I in you. John xiv, 8, 9, 10, 16, 17, 20.


If there be aught spiritual in man, the will must be such.

If there be a will, there must be a spirituality in man.

I suppose both positions granted. The reader admits the reality of the power, agency, or mode of being expressed in the term, spirit; and the actual existence of a will. He sees clearly, that the idea of the former is necessary to the conceivability of the latter; and that, vice versa, in asserting the fact of the latter he presumes and instances the truth of the former--just as in our common and received systems of natural philosophy, the being of imponderable matter is assumed to render the loadstone intelligible, and the fact of the loadstone adduced to prove the reality of imponderable matter,


In short, I suppose the reader, whom I now invite to the third and last division of the work, already disposed to reject for himself and his human brethren the insidious title of "Nature's noblest animal," or to retort it as the unconscious irony of the Epicurean poet on the animalizing tendency of his own philosophy. I suppose him convinced, that there is more in man than can be rationally referred to the life of nature and the mechanism of organization; that he has a will not included in this mechanism; and that the will is in an especial and preeminent sense the spiritual part of our humanity.

Unless, then, we have some distinct notion of the will, and some acquaintance with the prevalent errors respecting the same, an insight into the nature of spiritual religion is scarcely possible; and our reflections on the particular truths and evidences of a spiritual state will remain obscure, perplexed, and unsafe. To place my reader on this requisite vantage-ground, is the purpose of the following exposition.

We have begun, as in geometry, with defining our terms; and we proceed, like the geometricians, with stating our postulates; the difference being, that the postulates of geometry no man can deny, those of moral science are such as no good man will deny. For it is not in our power to disclaim our nature as sentient beings; but it is in our power to disclaim our nature as moral beings. It is possible, (barely possible, I admit,) that a man may have remained ignorant or unconscious of the moral law within him: and a man need only persist in disobeying the law of conscience to make it possible for himself to deny its existence, or to reject and repel it as a phantom of superstition. Were it otherwise, the Creed would stand in the same relation to morality as the multiplication table.


This then is the distinction of moral philosophy--not that I begin with one or more assumptions; for this is common to all science; but--that I assume a something, the proof of which no man can give to another, yet every man may find for himself. If any man assert that he cannot find it, I am bound to disbelieve him. I cannot do otherwise without unsettling the very foundations of my own moral nature. For I either find it as an essential of the humanity common to him and me: or I have not found it at all, except as an hypochondriast finds glass legs. If, on the other hand, he will not find it, he excommunicates himself. He forfeits his personal rights, and becomes a thing: that is, one who may rightfully be employed, or used, as* means to an end, against his will, and without regard to his interest.

All the significant objections of the Materialist, and Necessitarian are contained in the term, morality, all the objections of the infidel in the term, religion. The very terms, I say, imply a something granted, which the objection supposes not granted. The term presumes what the objection denies, and in denying presumes the contrary. For it is most important to observe that the reasoners on both sides commence by taking something for granted, our assent to which they ask or demand: that is, both set of with an assumption in the form of a postulate

*On this principle alone is it possible to justify capital, or ignominious punishments, or indeed any punishment not having the reformation of the criminal as one of its objects. Such punishments, like those inflicted on suicides, must be regarded as posthumous: the wilful extinction of the moral and personal life being, for the purposes of punitive justice, equivalent to a wilful destruction of the natural life. If the speech of Judge Burnet to the horse-stealer (You are not hanged for stealing a horse; but, that horses may not be stolen) can be vindicated to all, it must be on this principle; and not on the all-unsettling scheme of expedience, which is the anarchy of morals. 100 But the Epicurean assumes what according to himself he neither is nor can be under any obligation to assume, and demands what he can have no right to demand: for he denies the reality of all moral obligation, the existence of any right. If he use the words, right and obligation, he does it deceptively, and means only power and compulsion. To overthrow the faith in aught higher or other than nature and physical necessity, is the very purpose of his argument. He desires you only to take for granted, that all reality is included in nature, and he may then safely, defy you to ward off his conclusion--that nothing is excluded!

But as he cannot morally demand, neither can he rationally expect, your assent to this premiss: for he cannot be ignorant, that the best and greatest of men have devoted their lives to the enforcement of the contrary; that the vast majority of the human race in all ages and in all nations have believed in the contrary; and that there is not a language on earth, in which he could argue, for ten minutes, in support of his scheme, without sliding into words and phrases that imply the contrary. It has been said, that the Arabic has a thousand names for a lion; but this would be a trifle compared with the number of superfluous words and useless synonymes that would be found in an index expurgatorius of any European dictionary constructed on the principles of a consistent and strictly consequential Materialism.

The Christian likewise grounds his philosophy on assertions; but with the best of all reasons for making them--namely that he ought so to do. He asserts what he can neither prove, nor account for, nor himself comprehend; but with the strongest inducements, that of understanding thereby whatever else it most concerns him to understand aright. And yet his assertions have 101 nothing in them of theory or hypothesis; but are in immediate reference to three ultimate facts; namely, the reality of the law of conscience; the existence of a responsible will, as the subject of that law; and lastly, the existence of evil--of evil essentially such, not by accident of outward circumstances, not derived from its physical consequences, nor from any cause out of itself. The first is a fact of consciousness; the second a fact of reason necessarily concluded from the first; and the third a fact of history interpreted by both.

Omnia exeunt in mysterium, says a Schoolman: that is. There is nothing, the absolute ground of which is not a mystery. The contrary were indeed a contradiction in terms: for how can that, which is to explain all things, be susceptible of an explanation? It would be to suppose the same thing first and second at the same time.

If I rested here, I should merely have placed my creed in direct opposition to that of the Necessitarians, who assume (for observe, both parties begin in an assumption and cannot do otherwise) that motives act on the will, as bodies act on bodies; and that whether mind and matter are essentially the same, or essentially different, they are both alike under one and the same law of compulsory causation. But this is far from exhausting my intention. I mean at the same time to oppose the disciples of Shaftesbury and those who, substituting one faith for another, have been well called the pious Deists of the last century, in order to distinguish them from the infidels of the present age, who persuade themselves, (for the thing itself is not possible,) that they reject all faith. I declare my dissent from these two, because they imposed upon themselves an idea for a fact: a most sublime idea indeed, and so necessary to human nature, that without it no virtue is conceivable; but still an idea.


In contradiction to their splendid but delusory tenets, I profess a deep conviction that man was and is a fallen creature, not by accidents of bodily constitution or any other cause, which human wisdom in a course of ages might be supposed capable of removing; but as diseased in his will, in that will which is the true and only strict synonyme of the word, I, or the intelligent self. Thus at each of these two opposite roads, (the philosophy of Hobbes and that of Shaftesbury), I have placed a directing post, informing my fellow-travellers, that on neither of these roads can they see the truths to which I would direct their attention.

But the place of starting was at the meeting of foot roads, and one only was the right road. I proceed therefore to preclude the opinion of those likewise, who indeed agree with me as to the moral responsibility of man in opposition to Hobbes and the anti-moralists, and that he is a fallen creature, essentially diseased, in opposition to Shaftesbury and the misinterpreters of Plato; but who differ from me in exaggerating the diseased weakness of the will into an absolute privation of all freedom, thereby making moral responsibility; not a mystery above comprehension, but a direction contradiction, of which we do distinctly comprehend the absurdity. Among the consequences of this doctrine, is that direful one of swallowing up all the attributes of the Supreme Being in the one attribute of infinite power, and thence deducing that things are good and wise because they were created, and not created through wisdom and goodness. Thence, too, the awful attribute of justice is explained away into a mere right of absolute property; the sacred distinction between things and persons is erased; and the selection of persons for virtue and vice in this life, and for eternal happiness or misery in the 103 next, is represented as the result of a mere will, acting in the blindness and solitude of its own infinity. The title of a work written by the great and pious Boyle is "Of the awe, which the human mind owes to the Supreme Reason." This, in the language of these gloomy doctors, must be translated into--"The horror, which a being capable of eternal pleasure or pain is compelled to feel at the idea of an Infinite Power, about to inflict the latter on an immense majority of human souls, without any power on their part either to prevent it or the actions which are (not indeed its causes but) its assigned signals, and preceding links of the same iron chain!"

Against these tenets I maintain, that a will conceived separately from intelligence is a nonentity, and a mere phantasm of abstraction; and that a will, the state of which does in no sense originate in its own act, is an absolute contradiction. It might be an instinct, an impulse, a plastic power, and, if accompanied with consciousness, a desire; but a will it could not be. And this every human being knows with equal clearness, though different minds may reflect on it with different degrees of distinctness; for who would not smile at the notion of a rose willing to put forth its buds and expand them into flowers? That such a phrase would be deemed a poetic license proves the difference in the things: for all metaphors are grounded on an apparent likeness of things essentially different. I utterly disclaim the notion that any human intelligence, with whatever power it might manifest itself, is alone adequate to the office of restoring health to the will: but at the same time I deem it impious and absurd to hold that the Creator would have given us the faculty of reason, or that the Redeemer would in so many varied forms of argument and persuasion have appealed to it, if it had been either totally useless 104 or wholly impotent. Lastly, I find all these several truths reconciled and united in the belief, that the imperfect human understanding can be effectually exerted only in subordination to, and in a dependent alliance with, the means and aidances supplied by the All-perfect and Supreme Reason; but that under these conditions it is not only an admissible, but a necessary, instrument of bettering both ourselves and others.

We may now proceed to our reflections on the spirit of religion. The first three or four aphorisms I have selected from the theological works of Dr. Henry More, a contemporary of Archbishop Leighton, and like him held in suspicion by the Calvinists of that time as a Latitudinarian and Platonizing divine, and who probably, like him, would have been arraigned as a Calvinist by the Latitudinarians (I cannot say, Platonists)of this day, had the suspicion been equally groundless. One or two I have ventured to add from my own reflections. The purpose, however, is the same in all--that of declaring, in the first place, what spiritual religion is not, what is not a religious spirit, and what are not to be deemed influences of the Spirit. If after these disclaimers I shall without proof be charged by any with renewing or favouring the errors of the Familists, Vanists, Seekers, Behmenists, or by whatever other names Church history records the poor bewildered enthusiasts, who in the swarming time of our Republic turned the facts of the Gospel into allegories, and superseded the written ordinances of Christ by a pretended teaching and sensible presence of the Spirit, I appeal against them to their own consciences as wilful slanderers. But if with proof I have in these aphorisms signed and sealed my own condemnation.


"These things I could not forbear to write. For the light within me, that is, my reason and conscience, does assure me, that the ancient and Apostolic faith according to the historical meaning thereof, and in the literal sense of the Creed, is solid and true: and that Familism in its fairest form and under whatever disguise, is a smooth tale to seduce the simple from their allegiance to Christ."

Henry More.

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