Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

which consecrates selfishness by enthroning it in the struggle for existence above wisdom and virtue; and which views, alike unmoved and powerless of consolation, the agonies of remorse, the isolation of bereavement, and the yearnings of the saint after communion with Divine holiness? Only if free to F/«d°in

* of choice

choose, is man capable of duty in any sense of the ""a^sary
word which is not simply nominal but worth practical
retaining. But, if capable of duty, he is capable
of religion. He is still, though conscious of sin,
nobler than the tame creatures of a dull uniformity,
the ready vassals of a law they can never break.
In those unreasoning creatures, devoid of abstrac-
tion, idealization, reflection, yet from which it is
now the fashion to derive all the properties of man,
the will is absorbed in the law.1 "The law is their
nature." In the original purity of a rational being,
the uncorrupted will is one with the law of his
nature. And so it will be hereafter.

Mind and soul according well,
Shall make one music as before,
But vaster.

If man, it has been finely said, " be no higher in JfTM,TM^' his destinies than the beast or the blade of grass, it f»">ais in

0 his capa

miffht be better to be a beast or a blade of grass bility

0 consciousness of sin.

1 See Coleridge, A. R., p. 233. The fine lines of Juvenal will be readily remembered:—

Principio indulsit communis Conditor illis
Tantum animas, nobis animum quoque, drc.

than a man."1 But it is not so, brethren. The stork in the heavens may know her appointed times; the turtle, the crane, and the swallow may observe the time of their coming; and when they wing their flight may leave without remorse their unfledged young to die.2 They run their allotted course. But man, even though he perish, though sin becomes the law of his nature, and evil clings about him like a robe, is great in the ruin of his fall. He knows why he perishes,3 and worships, in the bitterness of his soul, the purity, the nobleness, the love which he has forfeited for himself for ever.

1 Prof. Goldwin Smith, Lectures on the Study of History, p. 12. * See Mr. Darwin, Descent of Man.

s "Quando autem melior homo ct pecoribus prasponendus? Quando novit quod facit."—August, de Ord., II. xix.; and again, Civ. I)., xxii.: "Sicut cascitas oculi vitiurn est, et idem ijsum indicat ad lumen videndum oculum esse creatum, ac per hoc etiam ipso vitio suo excellentius ostendit ut ceteris membris membrum capax luminis (non enim alia causa esset vitium ejus carere lumine): ita natura qua? fruebatur Deo, optimam se institutam docet etiam ipso vitio, quo ideo misera est, quia non fruitur Deo." Compare Chateaubriand, Genie du Christ., I. 208. "Pourquoi le boeuf ne fait-il pas," &c. Strauss, Leben Jesu, II. 697, admits that while animals are but races, men have the knowledge that they are a race. Hence arises the possibility of history with all its consequences. Cf. Domer, Hist. Prot. Th., 11. 370.

[merged small][ocr errors]

LECTURE III.

"Wherefore should they say among the people,IVhere is their GoJV— 3ocI it. 17.

§ i. TT would be but futile to build any argu- Tj« tru'h

3 I JO of a Divine

A ment upon tbe past or the future of the Pr°vi

clcnce cs

Faith of Christ, were the fundamental truth denied sentiai to of the controlling Providence of God. As religion and peritself is a thing not worth contending for, when religion, free-will in man is given up, so Christianity, devoid of a special and personal relation to the Almighty in His work of grace (which may be said to be in respect of all Pagan religions its cardinal and characteristic doctrine), is a shadow without substance.1 It becomes, then, of the first importance to inquire on what grounds the belief in a special Providence is held to be in course of being sur

1 "Si Dei Providcntia non prasidet rebus humanis, nihil est do religione satagendum."—August., Otil. Cred., cxvi. "Dcum nisi ct esse ct humanis mcntibus opitulari credimus, nec quaererc quidem ipsam vcram religionem debemus."—lb., c. xiii. Comp. Lactant., Instit. Div., VII. c. vi. See Waterland, Discourse of Fundamentals (Works, V. 80). "The theory of Providence," writes Mr. Hutton, Essays, I. 88, " is one which, unless harmonized with general moral and physical laws, can assuredly stand no longer; and yet it is one which has exerted so profound an influence over every Christian mind from the earliest Christian ages to our own, that to part with it would be to give up the very life of religion." "' Point de religion sans pritire' a dit ce meme Voltaire. Ricn de plus6vidcnt; et par une consequence neccssaire, point de priere, point de religion."—De Maistic, Soir&s, p. 158.

« ElőzőTovább »