Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

book but the volume of the world, and that too, not for rules to work by, but for objects to work upon. Reason was his tutor, and first principles his magna moralia. The decalogue of Moses was but a transcript, not an original. All the laws of nations, and wise decrees of states, the statutes of Solon, and the twelve tables, were but a paraphrase upon this standing rectitude of nature, this fruitful principle of justice, that was ready to run out, and enlarge itself into suitable determinations, upon all emergent objects and occasions. Justice then was neither blind to discern, nor lame to execute. It was not subject to be imposed upon by a deluded fancy, nor yet to be bribed by a glozing appetite, for an utile or jucundum to turn the balance to a false and dishonest sentence. In all its directions of the inferior faculties, it con eyed its suggestions with clearness, and enjoined them with power ; it had the passions in perfect subjection ; and though its command over them was but suasive and political, yet it had the force of coaction, and despotical. It was not then, as it is now, where the conscience has only power to disapprove, and to protest against the exorbitances of the passions;

and rather to wish, than make them otherwise. The voice of conscience now is low and weak, chastising the passions, as old Eli did his lustful, domineering sons ; Not so, my sons, not so:" but the voice of conscience then was not, This should, or This ought to be done ; but, This must, This shall be done. It spoke like a legislator ; the thing spoke was a law; and the manner of speaking it a new obligation. In short, there was as great a disparity between the practical dictates of the understanding then and now, as there is between empire and advice, counsel and command, between a companion and a governor.

And thus much for the image of God, as it shone in man's understanding.

Wherefore, doubtless the will of man in the state of innocence had an entire freedom, a perfect equipendency and indifference to either part of the contradiction; to stand, or not to stand; to accept, or not accept the temptation. I will grant the will of man now to be as much a slave as any one will have it, and be only free to sin ; that is, instead of a liberty, to have only a licentiousness; yet certainly this is not nature, bu chance. We were not born crooked; we learnt these windings and turnings of the serpent: and therefore it cannot but be a blasphemous piece of ingratitude to ascribe them to God, and to make the plague of our nature the condition of our creation.

The will was then ductile and pliant to all the motions of right reason; it met the dictates of a clarified understanding half way. And the active informations of the intellect, filling the passive reception of the will, like form closing with matter, grew actuate into a third and distinct perfection of practice : the understanding and will never disagreed; for the proposals of the one never thwarted the inclinations of the other. Yet neither did the will servilely attend upon the understanding, but as a favourite does upon his prince, where the service is privilege and preferment; or as Solomon's servants waited upon him, it admired its wisdom, and heard its prudent dictates and counsels, both the direction and the reward of its obedience. It is indeed the nature of this faculty to follow a superior guide, to be drawn by the intellect; but then it was drawn as a triumphant chariot, which at the same time both follows and triumphs; while it obeyed this, it commanded the other faculties. It was subordinate, not enslaved to the understanding: not as a servant to a master, but as a queen to her king, who both acknowledges a subjection, and yet retains a majesty.

And first, for the grand leading affection of all, which is love. This is the great instrument and engine of nature, the bond and cement of society, the spring and spirit of the universe. Love is such an affection, as cannot so properly be said to be in the soul, as the soul to be in that. It is the whole man wrapt up into one desire; all the powers, vigour, and faculties of the soul abridged into one inclination. And it is of that active, restless nature, that it must of necessity exert itself; and like the fire, to which it is so often compared, it is not a free agent, to choose whether it will heat or no, but it streams forth by natural results and unavoidable emanations. So that it will fasten upon any inferior, unsuitable object, rather than none at all. The soul may sooner leave off to subsist, than to love: and, like the vine, it withers and dies, if it has nothing to embrace. Now this affection in the state of innocence was happily pitched upon its right object; it flamed up in direct fervours of devotion to God, and in collateral emissions of charity to its neighbour. It was not then only another and more cleanly name for lust. It had none of those impure heats, that both represent and deserve hell. It was a vestal, and a virgin-fire, and differed as much from that which usually passes by this name nowadays, as the vital heat from the burning of a fever.

Then, for the contrary passion of hatred. This, we know, is the passion of defiance, and there is a kind of aversation and hostility included in its very essence and being. But then, if there could have been hatred in the world, when there was scarce any thing odious, it would have acted within the compass of its proper object: like aloes, bitter indeed, but wholesome. There would have been no rancour, no hatred of our brother : : an innocent nature could hate nothing that was innocent. In a word, so great is the commutation, that the soul then hated only that which now only it loves, that is, sin.

And if we may bring anger under this head, as being, according to some, a transient hatred, or at least very like it: this also, as unruly as now it is, yet then it vented itself by the measures of reason. There was no such thing as the transports of malice, or the violences of revenge: no rendering evil for evil

, when evil was truly a nonentity, and no where to be found. Anger then was like the sword of justice, keen, but innocent and righteous : it did not act like fury, and

name;

then call itself zeal. It always espoused God's honour, and never kindled upon any thing but in order to a sacrifice. It sparkled like the coal upon the altar, with the fervours of piety, the heats of devotion, the sallies and vibrations of an harmless activity. In the next place, for the lightsome passion of joy. It was not that, which now often

usurps

this that trivial, vanishing, superficial thing, that only gilds the apprehension, and plays upon the surface of the soul. It was not the mere crackling of thorns, a sudden blaze of the spirits, the exultation of a tickled fancy or a pleased appetite. Joy was then a masculine and a severe thing; the recreation of the judgment, the jubilee of reason. It was the result of a real good, suitably applied. It commenced upon the solidities of truth and the substance of fruition. It did not run out in voice, or undecent eruptions, but filled the soul, as God does the universe, silently and without noise. It was refreshing, but composed; like the pleasantness of youth tempered with the gravity of age; or the mirth of a festival managed with the silence of contemplation. And, on the other side, for sorrow. Had

any

loss or disaster made but room for grief, it would have moved according to the severe allowances of prudence, and the proportions of the provocation. It would not have sallied out into complaint or loudness, nor spread itself upon the face, and writ sad stories upon the forehead. No wringing of the hands, knocking the breast, or wishing one's self unborn ; all which are but the ceremonies of sorrow, the pomp and ostentation of an effeminate grief: which speak, not so much the greatness of the misery, as the smallness of the mind. Tears may spoil the eyes, but not wash away the affliction. Sighs may exhaust the man, but not eject the burden. Sorrow then would have been as silent as thoughts, as severe as philosophy. It would have rested in inward senses, tacit dislikes ; and the whole scene of it been transacted in sad and silent reflections.

Then again for hope. Though indeed the fulness and affluence of man's enjoyments in the state of inno

[ocr errors]

cence, might seem to leave no place for hope, in respect of any farther addition, but only of the prorogation, and future continuance of what already he possessed: yet doubtless, God, who made no faculty, but also provided it with a proper object, upon which it might exercise and lay out itself, even in its greatest innocence, did then exercise man's hopes with the expectations of a better paradise, or a more intimate admission to himself. For it is not imaginable, that Adam could fix upon such poor, thin enjoyments, as riches, pleasure, and the gaieties of an animal life. Hope indeed was always the anchor of the soul, yet certainly it was not to catch or fasten upon such mud. And if, as the Apostle says,

no man hopes for that which he sees,” much less could Adam then hope for such things as he saw through.

And lastly, for the affection of fear. It was then the instrument of caution, not of anxiety ; a guard, and not a torment to the breast that had it. It is now indeed an unhappiness, the disease of the soul : it flies from a shadow, and makes more dangers than it avoids : it weakens the judgment, and betrays the succours of reason: so hard is it to tremble and not to err, and to hit the mark with a shaking hand. Then it fixed upon him who is only to be feared, God : and yet with a filial fear, which at the same time both fears and loves. It was awe without amazement, dread without distraction. There was then a beauty even in this very paleness. It was the colour of devotion, giving a lustre to reverence, and a gloss to humility.

Thus did the passions then act without any of their present jars, combats, or repugnances; all moving with the beauty of uniformity, and the stillness of composure. Like a well-governed army, not for fighting, but for rank and order. I confess the scripture does not 'expressly attribute these several endowments to Adam in his first estate. But all that I have said, and much more, may be drawn out of that short aphorism,“ God made man upright.” And since the opposite weaknesses now infest the nature of man fallen, if we will be true to the rule of

[ocr errors]

a

« ElőzőTovább »