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the whole. All bespeaks that repose of mind, that tranquillity which springs from a superior understanding, and an intimate acquaintance with every part of his subject. He grasps firmly his topic, and insensibly communicates to his reader the calmness and conviction which he possesses himself. He embraces with equal ease the greatest and the smallest points connected with his argument. He often throws out as he goes along, some general principle which seems to cost him no labor, and yet which opens a whole field of contemplation before the view of the reader. 26 Butler was a philosopher in the true sense of the term. He searches for wisdom wherever he can discern its traces. He puts forth the keenest sagacity in his pursuit of his great object, and never turns aside till he reaches and seizes it. Patient, silent, unobtrusive investigation was his forte. His powers of invention were as fruitful as his judgment was sound. Probably no book in the compass of theology is so full of the seeds of things, to use the expression of a kindred genius, as the · Analogy.' 5:“ He was a man raised up for the age in which he lived. The wits and infidels of the reign of our Second Charles, had deluged the land with the most unfair, and yet plausible writings against Christianity. A certain fearlessness as to religion seemed to prevail. There was a general decay of piety and zeal. Many persons treated Christianity as if it were an agreed point, amongst all people of discernment, that it had been found out to be fictitious. The method taken by these enemies of Christianity, was to magnify and urge objections, more or less plausible, against particular doctrines or precepts, which were represented as forming a part of it; and which, to a thoughtless mind, were easily made to appear extravagant, incredible, and irrational.
They professed to admit the Being and Attributes of the Almighty; but they maintained that human reason was sufficient for the discovery and establishment of this fundamental truth, as well as for the development of those moral precepts, by which the conduct of life should be regulated; and they boldly asserted, that so many objections and difficulties might be urged against Christianity, as to exclude it from being admitted as Divine, by any thoughtful and enlightened person.
“These assertions Butler undertook to refute. He was a man formed for such a task. He knew thoroughly what he was about. He had a mind to weigh objections, and to trace, detect, and silence cavils. Accordingly, he came forward in all the self-possession, and dignity, and meekness of truth, to meet the infidel on his own ground. He takes the admission of the unbeliever, that God is the Creator and Ruler of the natural world, as a principle conceded. From this point he sets forward, and pursues a course of argument so cautious, so solid, so forcible; and yet so diversified, so original, so convincing; as to carry along with him, almost insensibly, those who have once put themselves under his guidance. His insight into the constitution and course of nature is almost intuitive; and the application of his knowledge is so surprisingly skilful and forcible, as to silence or to satisfy every fair antagonist. He traces out every objection with a deliberation which nothing can disturb; and shows the fallacies from whence they spring, with a precision and acuteness which overwhelm and charm the reader.
“Accordingly, students of all descriptions have long united in the praise of Butler He is amongst the few classic authors of the first rank in modern literature. He takes his place with Bacon, and Pascal, and Newton, those
1 Lord Bacon.
mighty geniuses who opened new sources of information on the most important subjects, and commanded the love and gratitude of mankind. If his powers were not fully equal to those of these most extraordinary men, they were only second to them. He was, in his own line, nearly what they were in the inventions of science, and the adaptation of mathematics to philosophy founded on experiment. He was, of like powers of mind, of similar calm and penetrating sagacity, of the same patience and perseverance in pursuit, of kindred acuteness and precision in argument, of like force and power in his conclusions. His objects were as great, his mind as simple, his perception of truth as distinct, his comprehension of intellect nearly as vast, his aim as elevated, his success as surprising."
CHRISTIANITY A SCHEME IMPERFECTLY COMPREHENDED.
Christianity is a scheme quite beyond our comprehension. The moral government of God is exercised, by gradually conducting things so in the course of his providence, that every one, at length and upon the whole, shall receive according to his deserts; and neither fraud nor violence, but truth and right, shall finally prevail. Christianity is a particular scheme under this general plan of Providence, and a part of it, conducive to its completion, with regard to mankind : consisting itself also of various parts, and a mysterious economy, which has been carrying on from the time the world came into its present wretched state, and is still carrying on, for its recovery, by a divine person, the Messiah ; " who is to gather together in one the children of God that are scattered abroad," and establish “ an everlasting kingdom, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” And in order to it, after various manifestations of things relating to this great and general scheme of Providence, through a succession of many ages ; after various dispensations, looking forward and preparatory to this final salvation, “In the fulness of time," when Infinite Wisdom thought fit, he, “ being in the form of God, made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross : wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in the earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Parts likewise of this economy are, the miraculous mission of the Holy Ghost, and his ordinary assistances given to good men; the invisible government which Christ at present exercises over his church; that which he himself refers to in these words, “In my Father's house are many mansions-I go to prepare a place for you ;' and his future return to “judge the world in righteousness, and com
pletely re-establish the kingdom of God. “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son; that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.” “ All power is given unto him in heaven and in earth.” “ And he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” Now little, surely, need be said to show, that this system, or scheme of things, is but imperfectly comprehended by us. The Scripture expressly asserts it to be so. And indeed one cannot read a passage relating to this “great mystery of godliness,” but what immediately runs up into something which shows us our ignorance in it; as every thing in nature shows us our ignorance in the constitution of nature. And whoever will seriously consider that part of the Christian scheme which is revealed in Scripture, will find so much more unrevealed, as will convince him, that, to all the purposes of judging and objecting, we know as little of it as of the constitution of nature. Our ignorance, therefore, is as much an answer to our objections against the perfection of one, as against the perfection of the other.
It is obvious, too, that in the Christian dispensation, as much as in the natural scheme of things, means are made use of to accomplish ends. And the observation of this furnishes us with the same answer to objections against the perfection of Christianity, as to objections of the like kind against the constitution of nature. It shows the credibility, that the things objected against, how “foolish” soever they appear to men, may be the very best means of accomplishing the very best ends. And their appearing “foolishness" is no presumption against this, in a scheme so greatly beyond our comprehension.
The' eredibility, that the Christian dispensation may have been, all along, carried on by general laws, no less than the course of nature, may require to be more distinctly made out. Consider, then, upon what ground it is we say, that the whole common course of nature is carried on according to general foreordained laws. We know, indeed, several of the general laws of matter; and a great part of the natural behavior of living agents is reducible to general laws. But we know, in a manner, nothing, by what laws storms and tempests, earthquakes, famine, pestilence, become the instruments of destruction to mankind. And the laws, by which persons born into the world at such a time and place, are of such capacities, geniuses, tempers ; the laws, by which thoughts come into our mind, in a multitude of cases; -and by
which innumerable things happen, of the greatest influence upon the affairs and state of the world these laws are so wholly unknown to us, that we call the events, which come to pass by them, accidental; though all reasonable men know certainly that there cannot, in reality, be any such thing as chance; and conclude that the things which have this appearance are the result of general laws, and may be reduced into them. It is then but an exceeding little way, and in but a very few respects, that we can trace up the natural course of things before us to general laws. And it is only from analogy that we conclude the whole of it to be capable of being reduced into them; only from our seeing that part is so. It is from our finding that the course of nature, in some respects and so far, goes on by general laws, that we conclude this of the rest. And if that be a just ground for such a conclusion, it is a just ground also, if not to conclude, yet to apprehend, to render it supposable and credible, which is sufficient for answering objections, that God's miraculous interpositions may have been, all along, in like manner, by general laws of wisdom. Thus, that miraculous powers should be exerted at such times, upon such occasions, in such degrees and manners, and with regard to such persons, rather than others; that the affairs of the world, being permitted to go on in their natural course so far, should, just at such a point, have a new direction given them by miraculous interpositions; that these interpositions should be exactly in such degrees and respects only; all this may have been by general laws. These laws are unknown, indeed, to us; but no more unknown than the laws from whence it is that some die as soon as they are born, and others live to extreme old age; that one man is so superior to another in understanding; with innumerable more things, which, as was before observed, we cannot reduce to any laws or rules at all, though it is taken for granted they are as much reducible to general ones as gravitation. Now, if the revealed dispensations of Providence, and miraculous interpositions, be by general laws, as well as God's ordinary government in the course of nature, made known by reason and experience; there is no more reason to expect that every exigence, as it arises, should be provided for by these general laws or miraculous interpositions, than that every exigence in nature should, by the general laws of nature: yet there might be wise and good reasons, that miraculous interposition should be by general laws, and that these laws should not be broken in upon, or deviated from, by other miracles.
Upon the whole, then, the appearance of deficiencies and irregu. larities in nature is owing to its being a scheme but in part made known, and of such a certain particular kind in other respects. Now we see no more reason why the frame and course of naturo
should be such a scheme, than why Christianity should. And that the former is such a scheme, renders it credible that the latter, upon supposition of its truth, may be so too. And as it is manifest that Christianity is a scheme revealed but in part, and a scheme in which means are made use of to accomplish ends, like to that of nature ; so the credibility, that it may have all along been carried on by general laws, no less than the course of nature, has been distinctly proved. And from all this it is beforehand credible that there might, I think probable that there would, be the like appearances of deficiencies and irregularities in Christianity as in nature; i. e., that Christianity would be liable to the like objections as the frame of nature. And these objections are answered by these observations concerning Christianity; as the like objections against the frame of nature are answered by the like observations concerning the frame of nature.
GEORGE BERKELEY. 1684–1753.
GEORGE BERKELEY, the celebrated Bishop of Cloyne, in Ireland, was the son of William Berkeley, of the county of Kilkenny, and was born on the 12th of March, 1684, and received his education at Trinity College, Dublin, to which he was admitted as a fellow in 1707. In 1709 he published his “ Theory of Vision," in which he shows that the connection between the sight and the touch is the effect of habit, and that a person born blind, and suddenly made to see, would at first be unable to tell how the objects of sight would affect the sense of touch. The year following he published that work by which his name is most known, “The Principles of Human Knowledge;" in which he attempts to DISPROVE THE EXISTENCE OF MATTER, and to demonstrate that all material objects are not EXTERNAL TO, but EXIST In the mind, and are, in short, merely impressions made upon it by the immediate power and influence of the Deity. It should not, however, be supposed that he was so skeptical as to reject the testimony of his senses, or to deny the reality of his sensations. He disputed not the effects but the causes of our sensations, and was, therefore, induced to inquire, whether these causes took their birth from matter external to ourselves, or proceeded merely from impressions on the mind, through the immediate immaterial agency of the Deity.
The talent, the elegance, and the metaphysical acuteness of Berkeley's productions, very strongly attracted the attention of the public, and on visiting London, in 1713, he very rapidly acquired, and very uniformly retained numerous and valuable friends. Among these, were Sir Richard Steele and Dr. Swift, the former of whom engaged him to write some papers for the “Guardian,” just then commenced; while the latter introduced him to his relation, Lord Berkeley, who, when appointed ambassador to Italy, in November of that year, selected Berkeley to accompany him as his chaplain and secretary.
From this embassy he returned in a year, and after some time accepted an oifer of making the tour of Europe with Mr. Ashe, son of the Bishop of Clo