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inference that we attempt to draw from it. This ascendant faculty of our nature, which has been so often termed the divinity within us, notwithstanding the occasional sophistry of the passions, is on the whole, representative of the Divinity above us ; and the righteousness and goodness and truth the lessons of which it gives forth every where, may well be regarded, both as the laws which enter into the juridical constitution, and as the attributes which enter into the moral character of God.
23. We admit a considerable diversity of moral observation in the various countries of the earth, but without admitting any correspondent diversity of moral sentiment between them. When human sacrifices are enforced and applauded in one nation—this is not because of their cruelty, but notwithstanding of their cruelty. Even there, the universal principle of humanity would be acknowledged, that it were wrong to inflict a wanton and uncalled for agony on any of our fellows—but there is a local superstition which counteracts the universal principle, and overbears it. When in the republic of Sparta, theft, instead of being execrated as a crime, was dignified into an art and an accomplishment, and on that footing admitted into the system of their youthful education—it was not because of its infringement on the rights of property, but notwithstanding of that infringement, and only because a local patriotism made head against the universal principle, and prevailed over it. Apart from such disturbing forces as these, it will be found that the sentiments of men gravitate towards one and the same standard
all over the globe; and that, when once the obscurations of superstition and selfishness are dissipated, there will be found the same moral light in every mind, a recognition of the same moral law, as the immutable and eternal code of righteousness for all countries and all ages. We have already quoted the noble testimony of a heathen, who tells us with equal eloquence and truth, that, even amid all the perversities of a vitiated and endlessly diversified creed, Conscience sat mistress over the whole earth, and asserted the supremacy of her own unalterable obligations.*
24. Such then is our first argument for the moral character of God, and which, as a character implies an existence, might be resolved into an argument for the being of God—even the moral character of the law of conscience; that conscience which He hath inserted among the faculties of our nature; and armed with the felt authority of a master; and furnished with sanctions for the enforcement of its dictates; and so framed, that, apart from local perversities of the understanding or the habits, all its decisions are on the side of righteousness. The inference is neither a distant nor an obscure one, from the character of such a law to the character of its lawgiver. Neither is it an inference, destroyed by the insurrection which has taken place on the part of our lower faculties, or by the actual prevalence of vice in the world. For this has only enabled Conscience to come forth with another and additional demonstration of
its sovereignty—just as the punishment of crime in society bears evidence to the justice of the government which is established there. In general, the inward complacency felt by the virtuous, does not so impressively bespeak the real purpose and character of this the ruling faculty in man, as do the remorse, and the terror, and the bitter dissatis faction, wherewith the hearts of the wicked are exercised. It is true, that, by every act of iniquity, outrage is done to the law of conscience; but there is a felt reaction within which tells that the outrage is resented; and then it is, that Conscience makes most emphatic assertion of its high prerogative, when, instead of coming forth as the benign and generous dispenser of its rewards to the obedient, it comes forth like an offended monarch in the character of an avenger. Were we endowed with prophetic vision, so as to behold, among the yet undisclosed secrets of futurity, the spectacle of a judge, and a judgment-seat, and an assembled world, and the retributions of pleasure and pain to the good and to the evil; this were fetching from afar an argument for the righteousness of God. But the instant pleasure and the instant pain wherewith conscience follows up the doings of man, brings this very argument within the limits of actual observation. Only, instead of being manifested by the light of a preternatural revelation, it is suggested to us by one of the most familiar certainties of experience, for in these phenomena and feelings of our own moral nature, do we behold not only a present judgment, but a present execution of the sentence.
25. Some perhaps may imagine the same sort of transition in this reasoning from the abstract to the concrete, that there is in the a priori argument. The abettors of this argument talk of our notion of any part of space as an inch, being but itself a part of our entire and original notion of immensity; and in like manner, that our notion of any part of time as an hour, is but part of the entire and original notion of eternity that is in every mind. They regard our ideas of infinite space and infinite time as belonging to the simplest elements of Thought; and that therefore the certainty of the things which they represent, carries in it all the light and authority of a first principle. And then upon the maxim that every attribute or quality implies a substantive Being in which it resides, they step from the abstract to the concrete, from the infinite extent and the infinite duration to an infinitely extended and an infinitely enduring God. We confess, though it should be called a similar transition from the abstract to the concrete, that we feel vastly greater confidence in passing by inference from a Law to a Lawgiver. The supremacy of Conscience is a fact in the constitution of human nature seen in the light of consciousness by each man, of his own individual specimen; and verified in the light of observation, as extending to every other specimen within the compass of his knowledge. And however quick the inference may be from the supremacy of Conscience within the breast, to the Supreme Power who established it there being himself a righteous Sovereign-.yet this is strictly an argument a posteriori both for
the Being and the Character of God. It is the strongest, we apprehend, which Nature furnishes for the Moral Perfections of the Deity; and even with all minds, or certainly with most minds, the most effective argument for His Existence—though ushered into the creed of Nature not by a train of inferences, but by the light of an almost immediate perception. It is thus that in our first addresses to any human Being on the subject of religion, we may safely presume a God without entering on the proof of a God. He has already the lesson within himself—and it is a lesson which tells him more, or at least speaks to him with greater force than the whole of external Nature. Instead of bidding him look to its collocations, he will be more powerfully impressed and occupied with the idea of a God, if he but hearken to the voice of his own Conscience. It gave direct suggestion of a ruling and a righteous God, even in the days of corrupted Paganism.—And still with the unlettered of our present day and apart from the light of Christianity, along with the popular demonology of inferior spirits, there is the paramount impression of a one moral Governor among men.
On the inherent Pleasure of the Virtuous, ana
Misery of the Vicious Affections. 1. We are often told by moralists, that there is a native and essential happiness in moral worth; and