As in respect of the first wonder we are all on the same level, how comes it that the philosophic mind should, in all ages, be the privilege of a few? The most obvious reason is this. The wonder takes place before the period of reflection, and (with the great mass of mankind) long before the individual is capable of directing his attention freely and consciously to the feeling, or even to its exciting causes. Surprise (the form and dress which the wonder of ignorance usually puts on) is worn away, if not precluded, by custom and familiarity. So is it with the objects of the senses, and the ways and fashions of the world around us; even as with the

contempt of the word, is best declared by the philosophic Apostle: they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, (Rom. i, 28), and though they could not extinguish the light that lighteth every man, and which shone in the darkness; yet because the darkness could not comprehend the light, they refused to bear witness of it and worshipped, instead, the shaping mist, which the light had drawn upward from the ground (that is, from the mere animal nature and instinct,) and which that light alone had made visible, that is, by superinducing on the animal instinct the principle of self-consciousness. 178 beat of our own hearts, which we notice only in moments of fear and perturbation. But with regard to the concerns of our inward being, there is yet another cause that acts in concert with the power in custom to prevent a fair and equal exertion of reflective thought. The great fundamental truths and doctrines of religion, the existence and attributes of God and the life after death, are in Christian countries taught so early, under such circumstances, and in such close and vital association with whatever makes or marks reality for our infant minds, that the words ever after represent sensations, feelings, vital assurances, sense of reality--rather than thoughts, or any distinct conception. Associated, I had almost said identified, with the parental voice, look, touch, with the living warmth and pressure of the mother, on whose lap the child is first made to kneel, within whose palms its little hands are folded, and the motion of whose eyes its eyes follow and imitate--(yea, what the blue sky is to the mother, the mother's upraised eyes and brow are to the child, the type and symbol of an invisible heaven!)--from within and without these great first truths, these good and gracious tidings, these holy and humanizing spells, in the preconformity to which our very humanity may be said to consist, are so infused that it were but a tame and inadequate expression to say, we all take them for granted. At a later period, in youth or early manhood, most of us, indeed, (in the higher and middle classes at least) read or hear certain proofs of these truths--which we commonly listen to, when we listen at all, with much the same feelings as a popular prince on his coronation day, in the centre of a fond and rejoicing nation, may be supposed to hear the champion's challenge to all the non-existents, that deny or dispute his rights and royalty. In fact, the 179 order of proof is most often reversed or transposed. As far at least as I dare judge from the goings on in my own mind, when with keen delight I first read the works of Derham, Nieuwentiet, and Lyonet, I should say that the full and life-like conviction of a gracious Creator is the proof (at all events, performs the office and answers all the purpose of a proof) of the wisdom and benevolence in the construction of the creature.

Do I blame this? Do I wish it to be otherwise? God forbid! It is only one of its accidental, but too frequent, consequences, of which I complain, and against which I protest. I regret nothing that tends to make the light become the life of men, even as the life in the eternal Word is their only and single true light. But I do regret, that in after years--when by occasion of some new dispute on some old heresy, or any other accident, the attention has for the first time been distinctly attracted to the superstructure raised on these fundamental truths, or to truths of later revelation supplemental of these and not less important--all the doubts and difficulties, that cannot but arise where the understanding, the mind of the flesh, is made the measure of spiritual things; all the sense of strangeness and seeming contradiction in terms; all the marvel and the mystery, that belong equally to both, are first thought of and applied in objection exclusively to the latter. I would disturb no man's faith in the great articles of the (falsely so called) religion of nature. But before the man rejects, and calls on other men to reject, the revelations of the Gospel and the religion of all Christendom, I would have him place himself in the state and under all the privations of a Simonides, when in the fortieth day of his meditation the sage and philosophic poet abandoned the problem in despair. Ever and anon he seemed to have 180 hold of the truth; but when he asked himself what he meant by it, it escaped from him, or resolved itself into meanings, that destroyed each other. I would have the sceptic, while yet a sceptic only, seriously consider whether a doctrine, of the truth of which a Socrates could obtain no other assurance than what he derived from his strong wish that it should be true; and which Plato found a mystery hard to discover, and when discovered, communicable only to the fewest of men; can, consonantly with history or common sense, be classed among the articles, the belief of which is insured to all men by their mere common sense? Whether, without gross outrage to fact, they can be said to constitute a religion of nature, or a natural theology antecedent to revelation, or superseding its necessity? Yes! in prevention (for there is little chance, I fear, of a cure) of the pugnacious dogmatism of partial reflection, I would prescribe to every man who feels a commencing alienation from the Catholic faith, and whose studios and attainments authorize him to argue on the subject at all, a patient and thoughtful perusal of the arguments and representations which Bayle supposes to have passed through the mind of Simonides. Or I should be fully satisfied if I could induce these eschewers of mystery to give a patient, manly, and impartial perusal to the single treatise of Pomponatius, De Fato.**

When they have fairly and satisfactorily overthrown the objection and cleared away the difficulties urged

**The philosopher, whom the Inquisition would have burnt alive as an atheist, had not Leo X, and Cardinal Bembo decided that the work might be formidable to those semi-pagan Christians who regarded revelation as a mere make-weight to their boasted religion of nature; but contained nothing dangerous to the Catholic Church or offensive to a true believer. (He was born in 1462, and died in 1525. Ed.). 181 by this sharp-witted Italian against the doctrines which they profess to retain, then let them commence their attack on those which they reject. As far as the supposed irrationality of the latter is the ground of argument, I am much deceived if, on reviewing their forces, they would not find the ranks woefully thinned by the success of their own fire in the preceding engagement--unless, indeed, by pure heat of controversy, and to storm the lines of their antagonists, they can bring to life again the arguments which they had themselves killed off in the defence of their own positions. In vain shall we seek for any other mode of meeting the broad facts of the scientific Epicurean, or the requisitions and queries of the all analysing Pyrrhonist, than by challenging the tribunal to which they appeal, as incompetent to try the question. In order to non-suit the infidel plaintiff, we must remove the cause from the faculty, that judges according to sense, and whose judgments, therefore, are valid only on objects of sense, to the superior courts of conscience and intuitive reason! The words I speak unto you, are Spirit, such only are life, that is, have an inward and actual power abiding in them.

But the same truth is at once shield and bow. The shaft of Atheism glances aside from it to strike and pierce the breast-plate of the heretic. Well for the latter, if, plucking the weapon from the wound, he recognizes an arrow from his own quiver, and abandons a cause that connects him with such confederates! Without further rhetoric, the sum and substance of the argument is this;— an insight into the proper functions and subaltern rank of the understanding may not, indeed, disarm the Psilanthropist of his metaphorical glosses, or of his versions fresh from the forge, with no other stamp than the private mark of the individual 182 manufacturer; but it will deprive him of the only rational pretext for having recourse to tools so liable to abuse, and of such perilous example.

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