Page images




“ Is Christ the abler Teacher, or the Schools ?

If Christ, then why resort at every turn
To Athens or to Rome, for wisdom short
Of man's occasions, when in Him reside
Grace, Knowledge, Comfort-an unfathomed store ?






141, d. 217.


The reader must not expect to find in the pages of this little work any thing novel and ingenious, acute and profound, striking and sparkling. It was not the aim of the writer to produce an elaborate performance. So far as his pages lead to reflection, sobriety, humility, and reality; so far as they contribute something to the formation of a dispassionate and serious frame of mind, which is ready to examine and ponder all subjects, but which will firmly cleave to what is true, solid, and tangible; they will accomplish, through God's blessing, the object for which they were written.

A great deal is said by many writers about the peculiar character of our age. It is needless to give here any enumeration of its prominent features. It may be sufficient to observe, that the age is alive and stirring; that human beings are more or less awake; that the principles of good and evil are at work; and that myriads are restless, discontented, inquisitive, and eager to find what will give them

satisfaction; though most of them, probably, are at a loss to determine upon what they shall fix as the ground or source of happiness.

Among the features of the day we may lay down this as one of them, “A turn for thinking and inquiring,” or what, in courtesy, we must account, A philosophical cast of mind.” Every one who reflects must be fully aware of this. Whether it be for good or for evil, we must take the thing as it is, and make the best of it. We must show that we understand the spirit of the day, and that we are disposed and able to meet it in a proper manner, as those who see both the danger and the advantage.

The following pages are directly of a religious nature; but some of them are given to the consideration of what is called Philosophy; a word of high import, but which, from the loose and indeterminate use of it, is vague and ambiguous; always imposing, but not seldom deceitful: for “considering the general carelessness and indulgence of the public,” as Dr. Macvicar observes, “we have nothing better to expect, than that almost every thing speculative, however jejune it may be, however wide of true wisdom shall be called by the name of Philosophy.”

Would it not be well, to have as clear a definition as possible both of Religion and of Philosophy? Are they not, in the nature of things, really distinct in themselves? Is not Religion to us Christians, “ The special Revelation of God's will contained in the inspired Volume?” Is not Philosophy, “ The work and discovery of man's Reason, whether it employ itself on the world of Matter or of Mind ?" If, therefore, we assign to Philosophy all that results from the toil of the human intellect, on whatever subject it may put forth its powers, there will be a clear distinction between it and Religion; the one being truth found out by man, and the other being truth given to man by special revelation. The one is God descending to man, and becoming his Teacher: the other is Man striving to ascend to God, and to learn His will by dint of his intellectual powers.

Next to revealed religion, nothing can be more excellent, useful, and valuable than a philosophy which is true, sound, and humble: but, on the other hand, nothing can be more injurious and pernicious than a philosophy which is false and unsound, proud and boasting, wild and audacious. If in religion we have to guard against fanaticism, superstition, and various other evils, we have need also in philosophy to be on our guard against chimerical dreams, ungrounded presumptions, and various other evils.

It may be asked, -and certainly the question deserves very close consideration, Is not much of that which is called Philosophy in our day of such a nature,-specious in its address, loud in its promises, bold even to rashness in its spirit, and arrogant in

« PreviousContinue »