Page images
PDF
EPUB

separating our love, but as intended by the substantial wisdom of God. by Providence to be the means of a Whoso is simple, let him turn in hiquicker intercourse, for the exchange ther. I am the light of the world : of reciprocal blessings.

He that follows me, (or, as the word more properly signifies, he that keep

eth company with me) walketh not in EDUCATION.

darkness.' (Continued from p. 47.)

3. There are three ways of doing Reflections upon the Conduct of this : the first is, by attention; the · Human Life; with reference to second, by purity of heart and life; Learning and Knowledge.

the third, by prayer. The first, at

tention, Malebranche calls the natural Reflection II.

prayer of the soul to God for farther Wherein the general conduct of hu- illumination. For indeed it is a silent i man life is taxed for using undue address and application of the soul to

and irregular methods, in prosecut- the fountain of light and truth ; 'tis

ing what is really perfective of the an interrogation of the Divine oracle, i understanding.

the eternal word of God, and a pa1. In the preceding Reflection, the tient waiting upon him for an answer. conduct of human life was censured 'Tis in a word, an act of intellectual for placing learning in what is not devotion to the Father of lights, and perfective of the understanding. In such as, if unfolded, bespeaks him in the present, it is charged with pursu- the words of the royal supplicant, ing what is so, in an undue and irre- Give me wisdom that sitteth by thy gular manner.

The other was an throne!' error about the end ; this is an error 4. This is the same with thinking about the means; which are the two or meditating; and as it is the first, hinges upon which all prudence and so it is the directest and most comimprudence turns.

pendious method of science. For this 2. That the truth of this charge is to go directly to the spring-head, to may appear, we are first to deter- the lucid fountain of good. 'Tis to mine, what is the right method of fix the eye of the mind upon the inprosecuting that learning which is tellectual sun, which must needs be really perfective of our understand- the most ready way to be enlightened. ing. And this, no doubt, must be an The more heedfully we attend to this, application to Him. from whom every, we shall not only discover the more, good and perfect gift descendeth.? but also more clearly see what we do This is the right and the only right discover. So a man that casts only a method of enquiry after that truth short careless glance upon the misky which is perfective of our under- way, sees only a confused whiteness. standing. For God is the region of But when he fixes his eye upon it, truth, and ' in him are hid all the trea with steadiness and delay of applicasüres of wisdom and knowledge. This tion, he begins to discern it more disis that great and universal oracle tinetly, a new star every moment rises lodged in every man's breast, whereof under his inspection, and still the the ancient Urim and Thummim was harder he looks, the more he discerns, an expressive emblem. This we all till he is satiated with the brightness may and must consult, if we would and multitude of light. enrich our minds with such know- 5. This was the method of the inledge as is perfective of the under- ventors of arts and sciences : They standing. This is the true method of made their way by mere dint of thinkbeing truly wise. And it is no other ing. This is the method that has method than what we are advised to, been used ever since, by the greatest

A

9

improvers of them; such as Bacon, when they are in more quiet, and Boyle, Harvey, Malebranche, &c. silence of spirit. But by purity all And we may safely prophesy, if ever this disturbance is allayed, the pasany extraordinary advancement be sions are becalmed, the spirits fixed, made in them hereafter, it will be the fountain of the blood cleared up, done by thinking:

and so all the inner part of the glass, 6. The second way is, by purity of through which we see, becomes more heart and life: For as vice not only bright and transparent, more apt to proceeds from ignorance, but also transmit the rays of light to the soul, causes it, by besotting and clouding which consequently sees more clearly the understanding, so purity not only through it. proceeds from knowledge, but also 8. But this is not all; for purity produces it, making the soul see more clears the outward part of the glass clearly and distinctly. And the same too. First by consequence, because method is recommended in scripture, the finer the spirits and blood are, • Wisdom (says the wise man) will not the finer will be the threads of the enter into a polluted spirit.' So the outward veil also. Then more diangel to Daniel, . Many shall be pu- rectly; because temperance refines rified and made white, and none of the and subtilizes the texture of the body, wicked shall understand, but the wise and diminishes its bulk and grossness, shall understand.' To this purpose and unloads the soul of a good part too, is that of our Lord, above re- of that burthen, which not only presses peated : He that followeth me, walk- down her aspirations, but also hinders eth not in darkness;' the purity of his her sight. heart is a light to his understanding. 9. And as purity thus clears the

7. But to represent this more medium, so it also assists the faculty clearly: there are two ways whereby And that by the same general way, purity of heart serves to the acquire by composing the passions, which ment of knowledge; by natural effi- otherwise not only trouble and thicken cacy, and by the Divine blessing the medium, but also divide and disAnd first, by natural efficacy, either perse the faculty.

For the more by clearing the medium, or by assist- things a man desires, the more he will ing the faculty. As to the former, be engaged to think on; and the we are assured, not only that the soul more he thinks on at once,

the more now sees through a medium, and that languid and confused will his conthis medium is the body, but likewise ceptions be. But purity, by comthat the grossness of this medium hin- posing the passions, contracts the ders the sight of the soul. Whence desires, and by contracting these, it it follows, that whatever helps this contracts also the thoughts; whereby medium helps the sight of the soul. a man is reduced to a greater unity, And this purity does; especially that simplicity and recollection of mind; eminent part of it which consists in and having but few thoughts to dichastity and temperance. For, first, vide him, is the better able to think it composes the passions especially clearly. that of lust, by that the animal spirits, 10. Purity of heart serves to the. and by that the blood. For the acquirement of knowledge, secondly, motion of the passions ferments the by the Divine blessing. It invites spirits, and the fermentation of the not only the Holy Spirit, but also the spirits agitates the blood, and by that Father and the Son, even the whole agitation raises all the feculent and godhead, to come and dwell in the drossy parts of it, and makes it like soul. This we are assured of from a troubled fountain, thick and muddy. our Lord's own mouth: "He that love And therefore it is that men in any eth me, shall be loved of my Father, passion cammot reason so clearly, as and I will love him and manifest my

VOL. III.

M

of • If any

self to him.' And again, “ If a man ings. And thus they spend their time love me, my Father will love him, and their pains, and having scramand we will come unto him, and bled through a company of books 'make our abode with him.' The (most of which perhaps were written chaste and good soul shall not only to as little purpose as they are read) be loved by God, but be also of his they think themselves learned men, council and privacy. This is the be- and the world is too often of their loved disciple, who has the privilege opinion, though they have not made to lean

upon

the bosom of his Lord, themselves master of any sense or and to be admitted to his most secret notion, nor are able to demonstrate communications. And therefore, says one single truth upon solid principles, the psalmist, ! The secret of the Lord and in a consequential process. is with them that fear him. And of 13. And this is the method not only Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, who of those who misplace learning, but refused to defile themselves with the also of the most of those who place it king's meat, it is said, That God gave right. Even these do not generally them knowledge and skill in all learn- think for it, but read for it; seek it ing and wisdom.'

not in their souls, but in books. I 11. The third and last way of con- deny not that reading is one way to sulting God is by prayer. This also knowledge; but then it is only by is a method which the scripture ad- accident, as it is a help to thinking. vises us to.

you lack wis- And therefore thinking is the only dom, let him ask of God, who giveth thing to be regarded even in reading to every man liberally, and upbraid- (for reading, as such, is nothing.) eth not, and it shall be given him.' And then we read to most purpose, And this we know was the method when we are thereby most enabled to whereby the wisest of men obtained think. So that thinking is the immehis unparalleled wisdom. For as diate end of reading, as understanding wisdom was his choice, so the method is of thinking. And yet this method of his seeking and gaining it was by is generally so much inverted, that prayer.

the

main stress is laid upon reading. 12. Thus have I defined, and by Nothing but read, read, as long as scripture and reason proved, what is eyes and spectacles will hold ; no the right method of prosecuting that matter whether the head be clear, 80 truth which is perfective of the un- it be but full. derstanding. And now I think there 14. Again, whereas purity of heart need not many words to shew, that as and life is another method of attainlearning is commonly placed in what ing true knowledge, it is a sad as well is not perfective of it, so what is so is as just observation, That this is not generally prosecuted by undue me- only neglected by those who sit down thods. For whereas the first method contentedly in ignorance, but also by of acquiring it is by attention or the generality of those few that addict thinking, this is generally so little re- themselves to the improvement of their garded, that few men think less, for minds. Nay, these, in proportion to the most part, than they who are their number, seem more guilty in engaged in the professed study of this respect than the others, and noknowledge. This they don't reckon thing is so common, as to see men of any part of study, nor any progress famed learning, who are yet very in the stage of learning, but only a corrupt in their tempers and lives. graver way of being idle. "Tis then Whence some have fancied learning only they study, when they are hang- an enemy to religion, and cried up ing their heads over an old musty, ignorance as the mother of devotion. folio, and stuffing their memories with And though their conclusion be notogrey sentences and venerable say- riously absurd, yet it must be owned,

pau

the ground on which they build it is ample. These ideas are offered to too true. Men famed for learning the public eye through the medium of are often as infamous for living; and your publication, if you think they many that study hard to furnish their carry any conviction to the unprejuheads, are yet very negligent in puri- diced mind. fying their hearts: Not considering,

The Prince of Peace, conversing that there is a moral as well as a with his disciples in some of the monatural communication between them; ments of his last sad night, said, among and that they are concerned to be other things, “ He that hath no sword, pure in heart and life, not only upon let him sell his garment, and buy one. the common account in order to hap- They said unto him, Lord, here are piness hereafter, but even in order to two swords. And he said unto them, their own particular end here. It is enough.” Luke xxii. 36. Per

15. Then, lastly, whereas another mit me to observe, that at the first method of learning is prayer ; the sight, this inquiry of our Lord's seems generality of students do not apply as if he intended to encourage resistthemselves to this at all. Pray in- ance; but the nature of the case fordeed (it is to be hoped) they do for bids such an inference. He was about other things which they think lie more to yield himself up as a lamb for the out of their reach; but as for learn- slaughter, and passive as a sheep in ing, they think they can compass this the hands of the shearer ; but, adwell enough by their own industry, verting to his remark, as to the and the help of good books, without city of the means of resistance, they being beholden to the assistance of were only provided in accordance Heaven. But did they attentively with his own infinite foreknowledge, consider, that God is truth, it is not to and with an intention to permit his be imagined they would be so indif- disciples to manifest their spirit, and ferent in using prayer, or any of the to correct their mistaken notions by a preceding methods of consulting God mild reproof and his own example. for his own light.

Comparing this passage of the (To be continued.)

Evangelist Luke, with its parallel passage, Matt

. xxvi. 52, it appears [On the receipt of the following Commu- that Christ intended hereby to illusnication we were gratified in recognizing the trate the insufficiency of carnal weawith us in wishing that the pages of the placing any reliance upon them, we are sure our readers generally will 'unite pons, and the absolute danger of

and Herald were oftener favoured from the same also, the all-sufficiency of his own source.]

power to succour and protect those, On the Conduct of our Lord, and of who, in obedience to his commands, his disciple Peter. Luke xxii. confide in him.

In this instance, our Lord appears ENCOURAGED by your insertion of to have allowed his disciples (should my remarks on the cases of John the their fears prevail on them so far) the Baptist, the believing centurion in liberty of making an effort in selfthe gospel, and Cornelius;* I beg to defence, agreeably to a custom then submit my thoughts on the conduct of used by travellers, who frequently our Lord, and of his disciple Peter- Went armed with that weapon. But, an argument often used for the hostile observe, they were eleven in number, use of the Sword in the hands of besides their Master, and on making professed Christians, and being as

a muster, they find they possess two sumed by its advocates from his ex

swords, and one of these was in the

custody of Peter. They say, “Lord, * See vol. ii. p: 293.

here are two swords;" Jesus replies

SIR,

It is enough." Enough! what, two an argument not easily got rid of, awords enough for eleven persons why the life of man should not be were these enough in the nature of lightly lavished away, for (let God's things to resist a rude multitude ? reason apply to every conscience) in The advocates for defensive War the image of God made he man!would do well to consider this fact, Those, then, who thus destroy human upon their own principles, and they life, destroy the Image of God. But would be ready instantly to condemn 80 deeply rooted is this prejudice, so sparing and unwise a provision on that the scientific man, who would such an occasion, at least they must agonize to see a rude barbarian hamdo so to be consistent; and we may mer a watch or any other curious safely affirm, with the vote of reason piece of mechanism to pieces; or the on our side, that there were surely not man of literature, who would grieve enough, if intended for resistance, but inexpressibly at the destruction of an enough, well measured, to exhibit extensive and well-assorted library, the ardent, unchastised temper of or at the levelling of some antique Man, and the compassion and power or celebrated mausoleum or curious of Christ.–The moment of appre- erection of art; can calmly hear the hension arrives! Shall we smite ? say report of an action which has plunged the disciples ; but, without waiting for forty or fifty thousands of our fellow orders, Peter assumes vengeance to immortals, each soul of which exceeds be his, strikes the servant of the High the value of all worldly estimate, into Priest, and cuts off his right ear. eternity, the greater part of whom (it This was, in the nature of things, must be admitted) are in that state of likely to incur retaliation and wrath moral unfitness which must for ever from the rabble and their leaders. exclude them from a state of holiness, But Christ immediately puts forth his and the enjoyment of the smiles of finger-divine power and compassion that Saviour,“ in whose presence is accompanies the touch, and he re-fulness of joy, and at whose right stores the

organ

and heals the man- hand are pleasures for evermore.”. “ Suffer thus far," said Jesus, forgive I cannot close these remarks withthis haste, I came not to destroy men's out noticing the opinion of some good lives, but to save them.

men, who infer that this threat of our In the Evangelist Matthew, we Master merely is intended to apply have the opinion of Christ expressed to his followers under persecution, on this occasion more fully: “Put up but who act with hostility against the again thy sword into his place: for government under which they live, all they that take the sword, shall and that such deserve to perish with perish with the sword.” In which quo- the sword.---This interpretation aptation these actions are placed by pears very forced and far fetched; Christ himself under the ban of that and such a case would be almost anointerdict in Genesis ix. 6: " Whoso malous in the church militant; the sheddeth man's blood, by man shall weapons of the true follower of Christ his blood be shed for in the image under persecution, are not carnal, but of God made he man. Here it is “ mighty through God”-invincible most worthy of remark, that our pious patience, faith, and fortitude; and it forefathers, who have supplied the does appear that restricting the pasmarginal references to our Bibles, sage to such a sense, is not preserving have been led to adopt that threat as that consistency of scripture exposiof universal application, and refer this tion which the passage demands. denouncement of Christ to the above I remain, Sir, yours very truly, eited passage in Genesis ; and that

J. S. passage is again referred to this ;- Worthing, Feb. 2, 1821.

« PreviousContinue »