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There are many serious and sincere Christians who have not attained to a fulness of knowledge and insight, but are well and judiciously employed in preparing for it. Even these may study the master-works of our elder divines with safety and advantage, if they will accustom themselves to translate the theological terms into their moral equivalents; saying to themselves--This may not be all that is meant, but this is meant, and it is that portion of the meaning, which belongs to me in the present stage of my progress. For example: render the words, sanctification of the Spirit, or the sanctifying influenced of the Spirit, by purity in life and action from a pure principle.

He needs only reflect on his own experience to be convinced, that the man makes the motive, and not the motive the man. What is a strong motive to one man, is no motive at all to another. If, then, the man determines the motive, what determines the man--to a good and worthy act, we will say, or a virtuous course of conduct? The intelligent will, or the self-determining power? True, in part it is; and therefore the will is pre-eminently the spiritual constituent in our being. But will any reflecting man admit, that his own will is the only and sufficient determinant of all he is, and all he does? Is nothing to be attributed to the harmony of the system to which he belongs, and to the pre-established 44 fitness of the objects and agents, known and unknown, that surround him, as acting on the will, though, doubtless, with it likewise? a process, which the coinstantaneous yet reciprocal action of the air and the vital energy of the lungs in breathing may help to render intelligible.

Again: in the world we see every where evidences of a unity, which the component parts are so far from explaining, that they necessarily pre-suppose it as the cause and condition of their existing as those parts; or even of their existing at all. This antecedent unity, or cause and principle of each union, it has since the time of Bacon and Kepler been customary to call a law. This crocus, for instance, or any other flower, the reader may have in sight or choose to bring before his fancy. That the root, stem, leaves, petals, &c, cohere to one plant, is owing to an antecedent power or principle in the seed, which existed before a single particle of the matters that constitute the size and visibility of the crocus, had been attracted from the surrounding soil, air, and moisture. Shall we turn to the seed? Here, too, the same necessity meets us. An antecedent unity (I speak not of the parent plant, but of an agency antecedent in the order of operance, yet remaining present as the conservative and reproductive power) must here too be supposed. Analyse the seed with the finest tools, and let the solar microscope come in aid of your senses, what do you find? Means and instruments, a wondrous fairy tale of nature, magazines of food, stores of various sorts, pipes, spiracles, defences--a house of many chambers, and the owner and inhabitant invisible! Reflect further on the countless millions of seeds of the same name, each more than numerically differenced from every other: and further yet, reflect on the requisite harmony 45 of all surrounding things, each of which necessitates the same process of thought, and the coherence of all of which to a system, a world, demands its own adequate antecedent unity, which must therefore of necessity be present to all and in all, yet in no wise excluding or suspending the individual law or principle of union in each. Now will reason, will common sense, endure the assumption, that it is highly reasonable to believe a universal power, as the cause and pre-condition of the harmony of all particular wholes, each of which involves the working principle of its own union--that it is reasonable, I say, to believe this respecting the aggregate of objects, which, without a subject, (that is, a sentient and intelligent existence) would be purposeless: and yet unreasonable and even superstitious or enthusiastic to entertain a similar belief in relation to the system of intelligent and self-conscious beings, to the moral and personal world? But if in this, too, in the great community of persons, it is rational to infer a one universal presence, a one present to all and in all, is it not most irrational to suppose that a finite will can exclude it?

Whenever, therefore, the man is determined (that is, impelled and directed) to act in harmony of intercommunion, must not something be attributed to this all-present power as acting in the will? and by what fitter names can we call this than The Law, as empowering; The Word, as informing; and The Spirit, as actuating?

What has been here said amounts (I am aware) only to a negative conception; but this is all that is required for a mind at that period of its growth which we are now supposing, and as long as religion is contemplated under the form of morality. A positive insight belongs to a more advanced stage: for spiritual truths can only spiritually be discerned. This we know from revelation, 46 and (the existence of spiritual truths being granted) philosophy is compelled to draw the same conclusion. But though merely negative, it is sufficient to render the union of religion and morality conceivable; sufficient to satisfy an unprejudiced inquirer, that the spiritual doctrines of the Christian religion are not at war with the reasoning faculty, and that they do not run on the same line, or radius, with the understanding, yet neither do they cut or cross it. It is sufficient, in short, to prove, that some distinct and consistent meaning may be attached to the assertion of the learned and philosophic Apostle, that the Spirit beareth witness with our spirit, that is, with the will, as the supernatural in man and the principle of our personality--of that, I mean, by which we are responsible agents; persons, and not merely living things.*

It will suffice to satisfy a reflecting mind, that even at the porch and threshold of revealed truth there is a great and worthy sense in which we may believe the Apostle's assurance, that not only doth the Spirit aid our infirmities; that is, act on the will by a pre-disposing influence from without, as it were, though in a spiritual manner, and without suspending or destroying its freedom (the possibility of which is proved to us in the influences of education, of providential occurrences, and, above all, of example) but that in regenerate souls it

*Whatever is comprised in the chain and mechanism of cause and effect, of course necessitated, and having its necessity in some other thing, antecedent or concurrent--this is said to be natural; and the aggregate and system of all such things is Nature. It is, therefore, a contradiction in terms to include in this the free-will, of which the verbal definition is--that which originates an act or state of being. In this sense, therefore, which is the sense of St. Paul, and indeed of the New Testament throughout, spiritual and supernatural are synonymous. 47 may act in the will; that uniting and becoming one* with our will or spirit it may make intercession for us; nay, in this intimate union taking upon itself the form of our infirmities, may intercede for us with groanings that cannot he uttered. Nor is there any danger of fanaticism or enthusiasm as the consequence of such a belief, if only the attention be carefully and earnestly drawn to the concluding words of the sentence (Romans viii. 26); if only the due force and the full import be given to the term unutterable or incommunicable, in St. Paul's use of it. In this, the strictest and most proper use of the term, it signifies, that the subject, of which it is predicated, is something which I cannot, which from the nature of the thing it is impossible that I should communicate to any human mind (even of a person under the same condition with myself) so as to make it in itself the object of his direct and immediate consciousness. It cannot be the object of my own direct and immediate consciousness; but must be inferred. Inferred it may be from its workings; it cannot be perceived in them. And, thanks to God! in all points in which the knowledge is of high and necessary concern to our moral and religious welfare, from the effects it may safely be inferred by us, from the workings it may be assuredly known; and the Scriptures furnish the clear and unfailing rules for directing the inquiry, and for drawing the conclusion. If any reflecting mind be surprised that the aids of the

*Some distant and faint similitude of this, that merely as a similitude may be innocently used to quiet the fancy, provided it be not imposed on the understanding as an analogous fact, or as identical in kind, is presented to us in the power of the magnet to awaken and strengthen the magnetic power in a bar of iron, and (in the instance of the compound magnet) acting in and with the latter. 48 divine Spirit should be deeper than our consciousness can reach, it must arise from the not having attended sufficiently to the nature and necessary limits of human consciousness. For the same impossibility exists as to the first acts and movements of our own will--the farthest distance our recollection can follow back the traces never leads us to the first foot-mark--the lowest depth that the light of our consciousness can visit even with a doubtful glimmering, is still at an unknown distance from the ground: and so, indeed, must it be with all truths, and all modes of being that can neither be counted, coloured, or delineated. Before and after, when applied to such subjects, are but allegories, which the sense or imaginations supplies to the understanding. The position of the Aristoteleans, nihil in intellectu quod non prius in sensu, on which Mr. Locke's Essay is grounded, is irrefragable: Locke erred only in taking half the truth for a whole truth. Conception is consequent on perception. What we cannot imagine, we cannot, in the proper sense of the word, conceive.

I have already given one definition of nature. Another, and differing from the former in words only, is this: Whatever is representable in the forms of time and space, is nature. But whatever is comprehended in time and space, is included in the mechanism of cause and effect. And conversely, whatever, by whatever means, has its principle in itself, so far as to originate its actions, cannot be contemplated in any of the forms of space and time; it must, therefore, be considered as spirit or spiritual by a mind in that stage of its development which is here supposed, and which we have agreed to understand under the name of morality or the moral state: for in this stage we are concerned only with the forming of negative conceptions, negative convictions; 49 and by spiritual I do not pretend to determine what the will is, but what it is not--namely, that it is not nature. And as no man who admits a will at all, (for we may safely presume, that no man not meaning to speak figuratively, would call the shifting current of a stream the will* of the river), will suppose it below nature, we may safely add, that it is supernatural; and this without the least pretence to any positive notion or insight.

Now morality accompanied with convictions like these, I have ventured to call religious morality. Of the importance I attach to the state of mind implied in these convictions, for its own sake, and as the natural preparation for a yet higher state and a more substantive knowledge, proof more than sufficient, perhaps, has been given in the length and minuteness of this introductory discussion, and in the foreseen risk which I run of exposing the volume at large to the censure which every work, or rather which every writer, must be prepared to undergo, who, treating of subjects that cannot be seen, touched, or in any other way made matters of outward sense, is yet anxious both to attach to and to convey a distinct meaning by, the words he makes use of--the censure of being dry, abstract, and (of all qualities most scaring and opprobrious to the ears of the present generation) metaphysical: though how it is possible that a work not physical, that is, employed on objects known or believed on the evidence of senses, should be other than metaphysical, that is, treating on subjects, the evidence of which is not derived from the senses, is a problem

*"The river windeth at his own sweet will."

Wordsworth's exquisite Sonnet on Westminster Bridge at sunrise.
But who does not see that here the poetic charm arises from the known and felt impropriety of the expression, in the technical sense, of the word impropriety, among grammarians? 50 which critics of this order find it convenient to leave unsolved.

The author of the present volume, will, indeed, have reason to think himself fortunate, if this be all the charge! How many smart quotations, which (duly cemented by personal allusions to the author's supposed pursuits, attachments, and infirmities) would of themselves make up a review of the volume, might be supplied with the works of Butler, Swift, and Warburton. For instance: "It may not be amiss to inform the public, that the compiler of the Aids to Reflection, and commenter on a Scotch Bishop's Platonico-Calvinistic commentary on St. Peter, belongs to the sect of the Aeolists, whose fruitful imaginations led them into certain notions, which although in appearance very unaccountable, are not without their mysteries and their meanings; furnishing plenty of matter for such, whose converting imaginations dispose them to reduce all things into types; who can make shadows, no thanks to the sun; and then mould them into substances, no thanks to philosophy; whose peculiar talent lies in fixing tropes and allegories to the letter, and refining what is literal into figure and mystery."--Tale of the Tub, sect. xi.

And would it were my lot to meet with a critic, who, in the might of his own convictions, and with arms of equal point and efficiency from his own forge, would come forth as my assailant; or who, as a friend to my purpose, would set forth the objections to the matter and pervading spirit of these aphorisms, and the accompanying elucidations. Were it my task to form the mind of a young man of talent, desirous to establish his opinions and belief on solid principles, and in the light of distinct understanding, I would commence his theological studies, or, at least, that most important part of them respecting 51 the aids which religion promises in our attempts to realize the ideas of morality, by bringing together all the passages scattered throughout the writings of Swift and Butler, that bear on enthusiasm, spiritual operations, and pretences to the gifts of the spirit, with the whole train of new lights, raptures, experiences, and the like. For all that the richest wit, in intimate union with profound sense and steady observation, can supply on these topics, is to be found in the works of these satirists; though unhappily alloyed with much that can only tend to pollute the imagination.

Without stopping to estimate the degree of caricature in the portraits sketched by these bold masters, and without attempting to determine in how many of the enthusiasts brought forward by them in proof of the influence of false doctrines, a constitutional insanity, that would probably have shown itself in some other form, would be the truer solution, I would direct my pupil's attention to one feature common to the whole group--the pretence, namely, of possessing, or a belief and expectation grounded on other men's assurances of their possessing, an immediate consciousness, a sensible experience, of the Spirit in and during its operation on the soul. It is not enough that you grant them a consciousness of the gifts and graces infused, or an assurance of the spiritual origin of the same, grounded on their correspondence to the Scripture promises, and their conformity with the idea of the divine giver. No! they all alike, it will be found lay claim (or at least look forward) to an inward perception of the Spirit itself and of its operating.

Whatever must be misrepresented in order to be ridiculed, is in fact not ridiculed; but the thing substituted for it. It is a satire on something else, coupled with a 52 lie on the part of the satirist, who knowing, or having the means of knowing the truth, chose to call one thing by the name of another. The pretensions to the supernatural, pilloried by Butler, sent to Bedlam by Swift, and (on their re-appearance in public) gibbetted by Warburton, and anatomized by Bishop Lavington, one and all have this for their essential character, that the Spirit is made the immediate object of sense or sensation. Whether the spiritual presence and agency are supposed cognizable by indescribable feeling or unimaginable vision by some specific visual energy; whether seen or heard, or touched, smelt, and tasted--for in those vast storehouses of fanatical assertion, the volumes of ecclesiastical history and religious auto-biography, instances are not wanting even of the three latter extravagancies;--this variety in the mode may render the several pretensions more or less offensive to the taste; but with the same absurdity for the reason, this being derived from a contradiction in terms common and radical to them all alike, the assumption of a something essentially supersensual, that is nevertheless the object of sense, that is, not supersensual.

Well then!--for let me be allowed still to suppose the reader present to me, and that I am addressing him in the character of companion and guide--the positions recommended for your examination not only do not involve, but exclude, this inconsistency. And for aught that hitherto appears, we may see with complacency the arrows of satire feathered with wit, weighted with sense, and discharged by a strong arm, fly home to their mark. Our conceptions of a possible spiritual communion, though they are but negative, and only preparatory to a faith in its actual existence, stand neither in the level or the direction of the shafts.


If it be objected, that Swift and Warburton did not choose openly to set up the interpretations of later and more rational divines against the decisions of their own church, and from prudential considerations did not attack the doctrine in toto: that is their concern (I would answer) and it is more charitable to think otherwise. But we are in the silent school of reflection, in the secret confessional of thought. Should we lie for God, and that to our own thoughts?--They indeed, who dare do the one, will soon be able to do the other. So did the comforters of Job: and to the divines, who resemble Job's comforters, we will leave both attempts.

But (it may be said) a possible conception is not necessarily a true one; nor even a probable one, where the facts can be otherwise explained. In the name of the supposed pupil I would reply--That is the very question I am preparing myself to examine; and am now seeking the vantage ground where I may best command the facts. In my own person, I would ask the objector, whether he counted the declarations of Scripture among die facts to be explained. But both for myself and my pupil, and in behalf of all rational inquiry, I would demand that the decision should not be such, in itself or in its effects, as would prevent our becoming acquainted with the most important of these facts; nay, such as would, for the mind of the decider, preclude their very existence. Unless ye believe, says the prophet, ye cannot understand. Suppose (what is at least possible) that the facts should be consequent on the belief, it is clear that without the belief the materials, on which the understanding is to exert itself, would be wanting.

The reflections that naturally arise out of this last remark, are those that best suit the stage at which we 54 last halted, and from which we now recommence our progress--the state of a moral man, who has already welcomed certain truths of religion, and is inquiring after other and more special doctrines: still, however, as a moralist, desirous indeed, to receive them into combination with morality, but to receive them as its aid, not as its substitute. Now, to such a man I say,--Before you reject the opinions and doctrines asserted and enforced in the following extract from Leighton, and before you give way to the emotions of distaste or ridicule, which the prejudices of the circle in which you move, or your own familiarity with the mad perversions of the doctrine by fanatics in all ages, have connected with the very words, spirit, grace, gifts, operations, &c, re-examine the arguments advanced in the first pages of this introductory comment, and the simple and sober view of the doctrine, contemplated in the first instance as a mere idea of the reason, flowing naturally from the admission of an infinite omnipresent mind as the ground of the universe. Reflect again and again, and be sure that you understand the doctrine before you determine on rejecting it. That no false judgments, no extravagant conceits, no practical ill-consequences need arise out of the belief of the spirit, and its possible communion with the spiritual principle in man, or can arise out of the right belief, or are compatible with the doctrine truly and scripturally explained, Leighton, and almost every single period in the passage here transcribed from him, will suffice to convince you.

On the other hand, reflect on the consequences of rejecting it. For surely it is not the act of a reflecting mind, nor the part of a man of sense to disown and cast out one tenet, and yet persevere in admitting and clinging to another that has neither sense nor purpose, that 55 does not suppose and rest on the truth and reality of the former! If you have resolved that all belief of a divine comforter present to our inmost being and aiding our infirmities, is fond and fanatical--if the Scriptures promising and asserting such communion are to be explained away into the action of circumstances, and the necessary movements of the vast machine, in one of the circulating chains of which the human will is a petty link--in what better light can prayer appear to you, than the groans of a wounded lion in his solitary den, or the howl of a dog with his eyes on the moon? At the best, you can regard it only as a transient bewilderment of the social instinct, as a social habit misapplied! Unless indeed you should adopt the theory which I remember to have read in the writings of the late Dr. Jebb, and for some supposed beneficial re-action of praying on the prayer's own mind, should practise it as a species of animal magnetism to be brought about by a wilful eclipse of the reason, and a temporary make-believe on the part of the self-magnetizer!

At all events, do not pre-judge a doctrine, the utter rejection of which must oppose a formidable obstacle to your acceptance of Christianity itself, when the books, from which alone we can learn what Christianity is arid what it teaches, are so strangely written, that in a series of the most concerning points, including (historical facts excepted) all the peculiar tenets of the religion, the plain and obvious meaning of the words, that in which they were understood by learned and simple for at least sixteen centuries, during the far larger part of which the language was a living language, is no sufficient guide to their actual sense or to the writer's own meaning! And this, too, where the literal and received sense involves nothing impossible, or immoral, or contrary to reason. 56 With such a persuasion, deism would be a more consistent creed. But, alas! even this will fail you. The utter rejection of all present and living communion with the universal spirit impoverishes deism itself, and renders it as cheerless as atheism, from which indeed it would differ only by an obscure impersonation of what the atheist receives unpersonified under the name of fate or nature.

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