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demning conscience, was so strong, that notwithstanding all his subsequent labours and sufferings in the cause of the Gospel, he declares himself to Timothy to have been "the chief of sinners."
Here is an instance of a condemning conscience, where there has been no premonitive warning given to save from the committed act. His whole faculties, sentiments, intellect, and propensities, were acting in a state of perfect harmony, when he persecuted the Church of Christ. His conscience fully approved of his threatenings and slaughter of the disciples. The difference, therefore, between the abuses of the higher sentiments and those of the lower feelings seems to be this, that in the former case, in many instances, there is no premonitive warning. Conscience not only does not disapprove, but approves, and hence the crimes arising from this source are perfectly frightful. The author of the Natural History of Enthusiasm asserts, that the blood shed by the Church of Rome, in direct persecution, in the loss of life in pilgrimages, and in the Crusades, and other religious wars, far exceeds that of all the other wars that ever have been waged on the face of the earth, or loss by calamities of earthquakes or volcanoes, &c.
In the case of St Paul, his conscience was awakened, and a complete new turn given to all his feelings and ideas, by his being miraculously convinced of the fact, that what he had so strenuously opposed as a false religion, actually was the true one. But there are cases where no such conversion takes place. Infidel writers have in all ages opposed, vilified, ridiculed, and abused the professors and the doctrines of Christianity, and no reasonable doubt can exist that many of them have done so from a sincere belief that the whole was a system of delusion, that the Bible was a cunningly devised fable,
and its contents no more worthy of credit than the Koran of Mahomet, or the Vedas or Shasters of the Bramins. Such a writer as Voltaire, for instance, or our own David Hume, might go to the grave in the belief, that all his attacks on Christianity were calculated to benefit mankind, and to relieve them from the evils of priestcraft and superstition. But supposing such a one, after a long life spent in disseminating infidel opinions, to be on his deathbed convinced, like Rochester, by the arguments of some learned and able divine, that all the doctrines which it had been the business of his life to vilify and oppose were strictly and literally true, it may be easy to imagine-though hardly to the full extentthe flash of horror that would in an instant come over his mind, on its first becoming opened to this conviction. When he thought of the multitudes who had been, through his means, unsettled in their faith-convinced by his sophistry-swayed hy his opinions-awed by his - turned from the truth by his sneers and ridicule when he considered the increasing the wide spreading mischief which had arisen, was still arising, and might continue to arise, from this sort of propagandism of unbelief, long after he was laid in his grave, and felt that he had no opportunity to undo even the thousandth part of the evil he had caused—that his career was run -the record closed-and nothing remaining but that the judge should pronounce a sentence, to be arrested only by an abject trembling appeal for undeserved mercy. It is needless to complete the picture.
From the above it appears, that conscience is so far to be trusted, that when it gives its premonitive warning, however feebly, we may be sure that we are wrong, but that even when that warning is altogether wanting, we cannot be always sure that we are right. In case of the abuses of the higher sentiments, we have found, that in.
many cases there is no warning: hence these abuses are the most fatal, and are least likely to be removed or remedied. Repentance or conversion in such cases is rare; and hence the care that is incumbent upon us to take, before we finally make up our minds to enter upon a course involving such fearful responsibility.
In all cases it is believed the premonitive warning is less strongly and decidedly pronounced than the accusing voice after the act; and the experience of this is just one of the constraining reasons why the previous admonition, when given, ought to be more promptly and implicitly obeyed.
Each individual is the sole custodier of his own conscience. No one can decide for another of what feelings he is conscious, or what is the extent of his knowledge of moral and religious duty. If the sentiments are deficient, the intellect narrow, the education defective, and the knowledge of duty imperfect, we cannot expect from the individual the same correct judgment of right and wrong, or the same correct conduct in society, as we look for in men whose minds are cast in a happier mould, whose sentiments are sound and active, their intellects clear, and who have been trained in the knowledge and practice of good and virtuous principles. But this we may rely on, that the best are conscious of many deficiencies; that all, whatever may be the standard of their moral judgments, come short of that standard which they themselves bear impressed upon their minds. Not only is it so, but those who stand the highest in moral and intellectual attainments, are just, on this very account, the most feelingly conscious of their own imperfections, and are the first to acknowledge how far they have fallen below that standard of perfect right, which they see a little more clearly than others. Thus it is that the conscience of every man, and particularly
of the best men, acknowledges the truth of what is so forcibly stated in the Bible, that he is a sinner in the sight of God, and that, if brought before the tribunal of a perfectly righteous Judge, he has no hope of acquittal, except through the merits and intercession of Him who. is mighty to save.
ON THE SCRIPTURE DOCTRINE OF HUMAN DEPRAVITY.
IN the first chapter, I examined particularly Mr Combe's assumption, that the world, and especially the moral and intellectual condition of man, is in a state of slow and progressive improvement; and his argument derived from thence against the doctrine of man's original perfection, his fall from that state, and the consequent depravity of his nature. I think it was sufficiently proved, in the course of that investigation, that Mr Combe's views, in regard to these points, are quite destitute of any solid foundation.
I could not in that preliminary chapter enter upon the phrenological view of the question, as it was necessary, before doing so, to state what the phrenological doctrines are, and what are the different powers of intellect, and the different propensities and principles of action, which in that science are stated to be comprehended in the complicated system of the human faculties. Having now in some degree explained what phrenology has revealed to us in regard to these, I shall proceed very shortly to state, 1st, What I understand to be the real scriptural doctrine of the depravity of human nature; and, 2d, What light, if any, is thrown upon
this subject by phrenology, and how the views which it affords agree with the scriptural doctrine; and in the course of this statement, I hope to be able to remove any shadow of ground which might appear to favour Mr Combe's objections.
In the first place, in maintaining the entire depravity of human nature as it at present exists, that is, its universal degeneracy from its original and destined perfection, divines do by no means intend to teach that there are no tendencies towards good in the human constitution. It may be, that in maintaining strenuously a doctrine of such importance, and one which lies at the foundation of our faith, some divines may have used language too strong, or with too little qualification; but that is not to affect our estimate of the doctrine, so far as it is substantially true. Dr Chalmers has distinctly adverted to this, in his theological lectures, in a passage of which the following (extracted from notes taken in his class-room) will be found, I believe to contain the substance:
"The depravity of human nature is the initial article in Christianity. Christianity is, in truth, the religion of sinners. The world is in a state of enmity to God, in a state of ruin and decay. Consciousness tells us of the state; conscience of its guilt; but not perfectly, without the aids of the Word and the Spirit. There are too sweeping denunciations made on this subject by some theologians. They have put the conscience into a state of discrepancy with the fact. We must temper the representations of a fierce and flaming orthodoxy, and not needlessly exasperate the antipathies of men. While we maintain the entire depravity of human nature, yet still we must admit that there is virtue in
I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”—Matthew, ix. 13.