The most momentous question a man can ask is, Have I a Saviour? And yet as far as the individual querist is concerned, it is premature and to no purpose, unless another question has been previously put and answered, (alas! too generally put after the wounded conscience has already given the answer!) namely, Have I any need of a Saviour? For him who needs none, (O bitter irony of the evil Spirit, whose whispers the proud soul takes for its own thoughts, and knows not how the temper is scoffing the while!) there is none, as long as he feels no need. On the other hand, it is scarcely possible to hare answered this question in the affirmative, and not ask--first, in what the necessity consists? secondly, whence it proceeded? and, thirdly, how far the answer to this second question is or is not contained in the answer to the first? I entreat the intelligent reader, who has taken me as his temporary guide on the straight, but yet, from the number of cross roads, difficult way of religious inquiry, to halt a moment, and consider the main points that, in this last division of my work, have been already offered for his reflection. I have attempted, then, to fix the proper meaning of the words, nature and spirit, the one being the antithesis to the other: so that the most general and negative definition of nature is, whatever is not spirit; and vice versa of spirit, that which is not comprehended in nature; or in the language of our elder divines, that which transcends nature. But nature is the term in which we comprehend all things that are representable in the forms of time and space, and subjected to the relations of cause and effect: and the cause of the existence of which, therefore, is to be sought for perpetually in something antecedent. The word itself 190 expresses this in the strongest manner possible: Natus, that which is about to be born, that which is always becoming. It follows, therefore, that whatever originates its own acts, or in any sense contains in itself the cause of its own state, must be spiritual, and consequently supernatural: yet not on that account necessarily miraculous. And such must the responsible will in us be, if it be at all.

A prior step has been to remove all misconceptions from the subject; to show the reasonableness of a belief in the reality and real influence of a universal and divine spirit; the compatibility and possible communion of such a spirit with the spiritual in principle; and the analogy offered by the most undeniable truths of natural philosophy.**

These views of the spirit, and of the will as spiritual, form the ground-work of my scheme. Among the numerous corollaries or appendents, the first that presented itself respects the question;--whether there is any faculty in man by which a knowledge of spiritual truths,

**It has in its consequences proved no trifling evil to the Christian world, that Aristotle's definitions of nature are all grounded on the petty and rather rhetorical than philosophical antithesis of nature to art--a conception inadequate to the demands even of his philosophy. Hence in the progress of his reasoning, he confounds the natura naturata (that is, the sum total of the facts and phenomena of the senses) with an hypothetical natura naturata a Goddess Nature, that has no better claim to a place in any sober system of natural philosophy than the Goddess Multitudo; yet to which Aristotle not rarely gives the name and attributes of the Supreme Being. The result was, that the idea of God thus identified with this hypothetical nature becomes itself but an hypothesis, or at best but a precarious inference from incommensurate premisses and on disputable principles: while in other passages, God is confounded with (and every where, in Aristotle's genuine works, included in) the universe: which most grievous error it is the great and characteristic merit of Plato to have avoided and denounced. 191 or of any truths not abstracted from nature, is rendered possible;--and an answer is attempted in the comment on Aphorism VIII. And here I beg leave to remark, that in this comment the only novelty, and if there be merit, the only merit is--that there being two very different meanings, and two different words, I have here and in former works appropriated one meaning to one of the words, and the other to the other--instead of using the words indifferently and by hap-hazard: a confusion, the ill effects of which in this instance are so great and of such frequent occurrence in the works of our ablest philosophers and divines, that I should select it before all others in proof of Hobbes' maxim:--that it is a short downhill passage from errors in words to errors in things. The difference of the reason from the understanding, and the imperfection and limited sphere of the latter, have been asserted by many both before and since Lord Bacon;** but still the habit of using reason and understanding as synonymes acted as a disturbing force. Some it led into mysticism, others it set on explaining away a clear difference in kind into a mere superiority in degree: and it partially eclipsed the truth for all.

In close connexion with this, and therefore forming the comment on the Aphorism next following, is the subject of the legitimate exercise of the understanding, and its limitation to objects of sense; with the errors

**Take one passage among many from the Posthumous Tracts (1660) of John Smith, not the least star in that bright constellation of Cambridge men, the contemporaries of Jeremy Taylor. "While we reflect on our own idea of reason, we know that our souls are not it, but only partake of it: and that we have it and not

Neither can it be called a faculty, but far rather a light, which we enjoy, but the source of which is not in ourselves, nor rightly by any individual to be denominated mine." This pure intelligence he then proceeds to contrast with the discursive faculty, that is, the understanding. 192 both of unbelief and of misbelief, which result from its extension beyond the sphere of possible experience. Wherever the forms of reasoning appropriate only to the natural world are applied to spiritual realities, it may be truly said, that the more strictly logical the reasoning is in all its parts, the more irrational it is as a whole.

To the reader thus armed and prepared, I now venture to present the so-called mysteries of Faith, that is, the peculiar tenets and especial constituents of Christianity, or religion in spirit and in truth. In right order I must hare commenced with the articles of the Trinity and the Apostacy, including the question respecting the origin of Evil, and the Incarnation of the Word. And could I have followed this order, some difficulties that now press on me would have been obviated. But (as has already been explained) the limits of the present volume rendered it alike impracticable and inexpedient; for the necessity of my argument would have called forth certain hard though most true sayings, respecting the hollowness and tricksy sophistry of the so-called "natural theology," "religion of nature," "light of nature," and the like, which a brief exposition could not save from innocent misconceptions, much less protect against plausible misinterpretation. And yet both reason and experience have convinced me, that in the greater number of our Alogi, who feed on the husks of Christianity, the disbelief of the Trinity, the divinity of Christ included, has its origin and support in the assumed self-evidence of this natural theology, and in their ignorance of the insurmountable, difficulties which (on the same mode of reasoning) press upon the fundamental articles of their own remnant of a creed. But arguments, which would prove the falsehood of a known 193 truth, must themselves be false, and can prove the falsehood of no other position in eodem genere.

This hint I have thrown out as a spark that may perhaps fall where it will kindle. And worthily might the wisest of men make inquisition into the three momentous points here spoken of, for the purposes of speculative insight, and for the formation of enlarged and systematic views of the destination of man, and the dispensation of God, But the practical inquirer (I speak not of those who inquire for the gratification of curiosity, and still less of those who labour as students only to shine as disputants; but of one, who seeks the truth, because he feels the want of it), the practical inquirer, I say, hath already placed his foot on the rock, if he have satisfied himself that whoever needs not a Redeemer is more than human. Remove from him the difficulties and objections that oppose or perplex his belief of a crucified Saviour; convince him of the reality of sin, which is impossible without a knowledge of its true nature and inevitable consequences; and then satisfy him as to the fact historically, and as to the truth spiritually, of a redemption therefrom by Christ; do this for him, and there is little fear that he will permit either logical quirks or metaphysical puzzles to contravene the plain dictate of his common sense, that the sinless One that redeemed mankind from sin, must have been more than man; and that He who brought light and immortality into the world, could not in his own nature have been an inheritor of death and darkness. It is morally impossible that a man with these convictions should suffer the objection of incomprehensibility (and this on a subject of faith) to overbalance the manifest absurdity and contradiction in the notion of a Mediator between God and the 194 human race, at the same infinite distance from God as the race for whom he mediates.

The origin of evil, meanwhile, is a question interesting only to the metaphysician, and in a system of moral and religious philosophy. The man of sober mind, who seeks for truths that possess a moral and practical interest, is content to be certain, first, that evil must have had a beginning, since otherwise it must either be God, or a co-eternal and co-equal rival of God; both impious notions, and the latter foolish to boot:--secondly, that it could not originate in God; for if so, it would be at once evil and not evil, or God would be at once God (that is, infinite goodness) and not God--both alike impossible positions. Instead therefore of troubling himself with this barren controversy, he more profitably turns his inquiries to that evil which most concerns himself, and of which he may find the origin.

The entire scheme of necessary Faith! maybe reduced to two heads;--first, the object and occasion, and secondly, the fact and effect,--of our redemption by Christ: and to this view does the order of the following Comments correspond. I have begun with Original Sin, and proceeded in the following Aphorism to the doctrine of Redemption. The Comments on the remaining Aphorisms are all subsidiary to these, or written in the hope of making the minor tenets of general belief be believed in a spirit worthy of these. They are, in short, intended to supply a febrifuge against aguish scruples and horrors, the hectic of the soul;--and "for servile and thrall-like fear, to substitute that adoptive and cheerful boldness, which our new alliance with God requires of us as Christians." (Milton). Not the origin of evil, not the chronology of sin, or the chronicles of the original sinner; but sin originant, underived from 195 without, and no passive link in the adamantine chain of effects, each of which is in its turn an instrument of causation, but no one of them a cause;--not with sin inflicted, which would be a calamity;--not with sin (that

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