Page images
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

although to know be life, and joy to make mention of his name, yet our soundest knowledge is, to know him not as indeed he is, neither can know him; and our safest eloquence concerning him, is our silence, when we ccnfess without confession, that his glory is inexplicable, his greatness above our capacity and reach. He is above, and we upon earth ; therefore it behoveth our words to be wary and few *.”

Let us hear his great lay contemporary, Bacon, the reviver of modern science, and the champion of knowledge in that redoubted aphorism, “ Scientia et potentia humana in idem coincidunt.” (Aphor. 3. de Interpretatione Natura et Regno Hominis, vol. vii. P.

1. 1803) or, in plain English, The sovereignty of man lieth hid in knowledge.” (vol. ii. p. 126, In praise of knowledge.)

If we will truly consider it, the prerogative of God extendeth as well to the reason as to the will of man; so that as we are to obey his law, though we find a reluctation in our will; so we are to believe in his word, though we find a reluctation in our reason.... Howbeit, if we will truly consider it, more worthy it is to believe, than to know, as we now know. For in knowledge man's mind suffereth by [is subject to] sense ; but in belief it suffereth by [is subject to] spirit, such one as he holdeth far more authorized than himself; and so suffereth from the worthier agent. Otherwise it is of the state of man glorified : for then faith shall cease; and we shall know as we are known.” (Advancement of Learning, book II., p. 221, vol. i.)-In another place he tells us, “ We must enter the human kingdom of knowledge, as we enter the kingdom of heaven, by becoming as little children.” (Vol. ii. p.

135). - But the most remarkable, I should say, of all tes

τον μεν εν ποιητής και πατερα ταδε τε παντος ευρειν τε εργον, και ευρoντα, τις TayTOS Qðuvator Afyely. Plato, Timæus, p. 526. Edit. Ficin.

[ocr errors]

timonies from this giant of intellect to the simplicity and humility of Christian belief, follows after his own noble confession of faith in his theological works, and is contained in a series of propositions, entitled “ The Characters of a Believing Christian, in Paradoxes and seeming Contradictions.” Of these, the following is the first, and a specimen of the rest : 'I. A Christian is one that believes things his reason cannot comprehend ; he hopes for things which neither he nor any man alive ever saw; he labours for that which he knoweth he shall never obtain *: yet in the issue his belief appears not to be false ; his hope makes him not ashamed; his labour is not in vain.” (Vol. ii. p. 494). Here is true philosophy surmounting the discoveries of rational and moral truth with their true apex, the glory of heavenly knowledge and Divine truth.

Passing over the names of Newton and Locke, as of sufficient notoriety for the language of wise and cautious humility ; I might refer again to the majestie Barrow, of whom, as the mathematician need not be ashamed for his science, or the logician for his logic, so neither the divine for his theology. His sentiments on this subject, akin, like his mind, to those of Bacon, will be found at full length in his masterly Defence of the Blessed Trinity,(vol. iii. fol. 1722). positions,” says he, “ clearly delivered to us by God himself, are upon many accounts more unquestionably true, more credible, than the experiments of any sense, or principles of any science,” &c. (p. 383).

As the discovery of the highest truth is beyond the reach of the unassisted human intellect, so that to receive it effectually into the heart we require assistance from above-δεομεθα ξυναγωνισο θες και συλληπτορος (Max.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

- The pro

suppose, Absolute perfection of character, and of resemblance to



Tyr.)-is a doctrine which might require a still further and very interesting class of authorities. But I must terminate too long a note, with a general reference, once more, to the full and conclusive testimony to the necessity of Divine revelation and Divine assistances by the before-mentioned author, Dr. Ellis, “ Knowledge of Divine Things,” &c.; who challenges even Mr. Locke himself, and Dr. Clarke, to answer for some expressions on this point : and appeals to the whole body of " learned primitive Christians” as necessary ever to be adduced for their “unanimity in this opinion, that the human intellect cannot apprehend Divine and supernatural truth without the assistance of a stronger light than that of nature and reason. (Ellis. p. 471. ed. 1811).-It is highly satisfactory to know that the present eminent and venerable Bishop of Durham, Dr. Van Mildert, quotes with approbation, and sustains with the whole ight of his authoritative judgment, the sentiments of Dr. Ellis, in his Boyle Lectures on Infidelity, preached in 1802–1805*. To his Lordship's profound discourses, and highly valuable appendix in the second Edition, 1808, I beg leave to refer, for the most abundant confirmation of the sentiments I have very feebly endeavoured to elucidate, supported with the authority and in the words of some of the greatest writers in the language : particularly those of "Norris's Account

* " I have,” says his Lordship, “made very frequent reference to Dr. Ellis's elaborate work, in the notes on this Lecture, from a desire to direct the reader's attention, in an especial manner, to so valuable a performance. It is now become scarce, and it is much to be wished that it were reprinted, and put into the hands of theological students, who would find it an admirable preservative against many prevailing errors of the present day. An abridgment of it was published as a pamphlet, by the same author, and entitled · An Enquiry whence cometh Wisdom and Understanding to Man?' which has been reprinted in the Scholar armed,' and is an excellent tract. But the larger work deserves to be thoroughly studied."

of Reason and Faith ; Bishop Taylor, Duct. Dub.
b. i. ch. 2, R. 3; Locke's Essay on Human Under-
standing, 4, 19, 18; Laud with Fisher, 74-80; Ba-
con's Advancement, 6, 9; Watts's Logic, Introduction;
Tatham's Bampton Lectures ; Dr. Randolph's Sermon
on 2 Cor. vii. 5." Add to these, Boyle, Felton, Hurd,
Balguy, &c. &c. I conclude with his Lordship’s own
summary of the dispositions requisite to receive in
faith the doctrine of Revelation, as contained in his
Sermon, in the second Volume, on Hebrews iii. 12.
“We must come, therefore, to the consideration of it,
with a deep sense of its importance; with an earnest
desire to know and to do the will of God; with an
awful regard to the infinite disparity between Divine
and human knowledge; and with a firm determination
to accept and abide by whatever is revealed to us, if we
find it accompanied with sufficient testimonies of its
being the work of God. * As the eyes of servants
look unto the hands of their masters, and as the eyes of
a maiden unto the hand of her mistress, even so must
our eyes wait upon the Lord our God :' receiving his
word with reverence, reposing an entire confidence in
his justice and goodness, and desiring no other assur-
ance of the wisdom of his dispensations, than that they
really proceed from him.”

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Page 15. Whether they deem also the OBJECTS of

knowledge to be a matter of indifference. * If, then, such be the capacity and receipt of the mind of man, it is manifest that there is no danger at all in the proportion or quantity of knowledge, how large soever, lest it should make it swell, or out-compass itself: no, but it is merely the quality of knowledge, which, be it in quantity more or less, if it be taken without the true corrective thereof, hath in it some nature of venom or malignity, and some effects of

[ocr errors]

relieved by the cold-blooded consent and approbation of Cicero, the mildest of all Pagan philosophers and orators. His frequent allusions, by way of figure, to that brutal sport, are well known. In his pleadings for Milo he confesses it as a matter of course, that the attitude of a poor wretch, infimi generis, supplicating for his life on the bloody arena, only the more exasperated the feelings of the spectator against him, and secured his destruction *. A due assemblage of his sayings on this subject, the disgrace of humanity, will be found in Jortin's interesting “ Discourses concerning the Truth of the Christian Religion.” The subject has stirred the indignation even of the calm and philosophical Hume:—“The inhuman sports exhibited at Rome may justly be considered, too, as an effect of the people's contempt for slaves, and was also a great cause of the general inhumanity of their princes and rulers. Who can read the accounts of the amphitheatrical entertainments without borror ? or who is surprised that the emperors

should treat that people in the same way the people treated their inferiors ? One's humanity is apt to renew the barbarous wish of Caligula, that the people had but one neck. A man could almost be pleased, by a single blow, to put an end to such a race of monsters.” (Note U. to Essay On Populousness of Ancient Nations,” vol. i.)—In the same Essay he speaks with becoming indignation on the treatment of slaves by the very best of that inhuman nation, Cato, Seneca, &c.:

* “ Etenim si, in gladiatoriis pugnis, et in infimi generis hominum conditione atque fortunâ timidos et supplices et ut vivere liceat obsecrantes etiam odisse solanus; fortes et animosos, et se acriter ipsos morti offerentes, servare cupennus, eorumque nos magis miseret, qui nostram misericordiam, non requirunt, quam qui illam efflagitant : quanto hoc magis in fortissimis civibus facere dobemus.” (Cic. Or. pro Milone. Peroratio).—Could a North-American Indian have held language more barbarian ?

« PreviousContinue »