صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

the law of the land to a degree that but few have any perception or apprehension of.

And so do I imagine that it is or ought to be by nature between Parent and Child. I do believe that such is the trustful nature of the relation between Parent and Child, that if the Child understood clearly that his Father held the principle of “Parental Confidence” as a fixed rule, and considered himself thereby bound to a deep and unbroken silence under all circumstances whatsoever, as to that which his children had so confided to his knowledge,-if this were so, I believe that the child in nine cases out of ten would lay open to the Parent's eye evils that now are left to rankle and ulcerate, because they are concealed; and half the injuries that come upon families unawares, would be avoided, and the parent become the repository of the most inward thoughts of the child, his guardian against secret temptation.* So would he be enabled to check those first movements towards evil, whether arising from individuals without, or from evil thoughts, half the power of which depends upon their hiddenness.

But to do this, manifestly requires a father who is in himself a religious and a truly good man; for such I leave the suggestion to be considered, and I hope by many to be acted upon.

In reference to this matter I shall bring forward another thought, which though it may properly appear to belong to another part of this book, yet finds its practical place here. We have seen under the head of the Reason, that we are surrounded by the Unseen World; nay, that we have a peculiar sense, if I may use the word, by which we feel its reality and are brought in contact with it. We know further that it has good and evil agents, that can and do act

Now I would take notice that there are powers of suggestion by which thoughts that are in truth not our own, are pushed forward as it were upon and into our minds, so that they become supposititious, appearing to be our own, and yet not being so. Secret adits there are in the channel of our life, whereby these flow in upon us, and by a sort of immediate unconscious action, may be adopted as ours, or rather unwittingly considered to be the offspring of our own Hearts. Now these suggestions are especially dangerous, being acquiesced in by many, even at once; and to others giving the most distressing feelings of self-accusation, and even of despair.

upon us.

* The same advice has been before given in regard to scruples of con. science. I give it now again in reference to a subject more important.

I would advise the Person upon whom the name of Christ has been named to bring them forward into full consciousness—to interrogate them, to say to each“ does this agree with my principles, my life, my actions ?" and then finding they do not, to condemn them as suggestions and temptations of the Enemy of Man, and be not disturbed.

But for those who have not had the seal of the Christian Covenant impressed upon their foreheads, for them no doubt these thoughts suggested from without have great advantage in the Habit of Day-dreaming that we have referred to; and the whole matter, even apart from the principle of Butler that we have cited, may be looked upon as the readiest school that the Evil Unseen World has of training and educating man to Evil.

There are other mental vices connected with Habit, which we might discuss and examine. But the principles are the same that we have cited from Bishop Butler, and the student can, as an exercise, apply them for himself. We therefore leave to him all further application of them as an exercise of moral study, begging him again to put upon these Principles the high value and estimation which they so truly deserve.


From the Heart proceeds the greatest Evil.-Cause of this, Original Sin

Effects: 1st, Uncontrolledness, or Self-will; 2d, Selfishness; 30, Sensuality.--Uncontrolledness discussed.— The Passions.--Selfishness.-Paley's Theory discussed and refuted.-Unselfishness.--Annihilation of self.-Sensuality.—There is a threefold instinct to guide Man: of the Spirit; the Mind; the Body: 1st, the Spiritual Powers ; 2d, the Desire of Having.-The nature and origin of Property, and the immorality of its assailants.3d, Pleasure and Pain ; uses of these last.—“Good and Evil” is not determined by “Pleasure and Pain."-Systematic Sensuality.---The Christian Home alone cures these three faults.

OUB readers have seen, we trust, in the last chapter, the truth that the highest moral development possible to man's nature is through and by the Affections; that therein there lies the germ of all that man may become to man, a vessel full to overflowing of all kindly affections and humane and unselfish feelings, blessing his fellow, and therein himself twice blessed. So that because of the capabilities of moral and spiritual transformation, possessed by this governing power, he that is embruted and debased so far that his fellows shall find no epithet to express his nature save metaphors from the lowest animals, shall be able to arise from this abyss, and deserve and earn all love and affection : the beast transformed into a man. And he that is hated, despised, detested, scorned, shall be loved and reverenced almost with worship and adoration. Such is the wonderful power of this faculty of the Spiritual Nature.

And yet true it is, that this same power is the main adit and entrance to evil. The Heart, in its state of nature, affected by Original Sin, unaided by gracious influences, is the source by which and from which almost all evil flows in upon man. Of almost all moral depravation and moral guilt, these feelings and affections of our nature, which collectively we call the Heart, are the cause ; uncontrolled, that is, and ingoverned, by their own law, the law of man's nature, and the law of God, all which are, in their power and their results, the same. So guided perfectly, or even so governed in some degree, these powers are the source of the highest moral perfection and the highest happiness in the relation of man tom an—uncontrolled, of the greatest debasement, the worst immorality.

We have stated the one possibility and capability fearlessly; and now do we state the other with as little fear. From the “Heart of Man" those feelings, namely, and emotions, which naturally should rest upon his fellow for his fellow's good, come the greatest evils and the greatest abasement. And this is the assertion of our incarnate LORD, who assumed our nature: “Out of the Heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, blasphemies, these are the things which defile a man.” And again, in the Old Testament it is said, “Keep the Heart, for out of it are the issues of life.” And everywhere, if we shall take a practical view of human life, we shall find it true, that there is a body of natural feelings which should carry us on to do our duty to our neighbor, which we call the Heart, and that the perversion of these and the corruption of them produces

"evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, thefts, fornications, blasphe mies,” (or as it should properly be rendered,) “slanders.” And each and every one of these crimes and vices is the perver.

. sion of some feeling or affection which was in itself good, and which under guidance and control, instead of producing evil might have produced good, unmixed and unalloyed. Murder, for instance, is the offspring of Revenge,—and Revenge is, as Bacon says, “wild justice”-so that the strong sense and feeling of being injured, and the natural desire for justice, this which in itself is perfectly right, provided it be in a legal and just way, becomes, being perverted, the root of murder. And with regard to Adultery --this also is the same; the adulterer lavishes upon his paramour the same feelings and affections which, placed under the law and rule of God and man, would have been innocent conjugal affection towards his lawful wife; one of the loveliest of all the natural feelings thereby being corrupted into one of the most evil and degrading of all vices. And so the “desire of Property” in the same way becomes changed into theft; and the desire of purity in society, and of seeing our brother's life pure, this becomes slanderousness. So that in the Heart and Affections of man there is hardly one emotion that is not capable of being the cause of the utmost vileness and degradation. This is the experience of all men in all ages; and howsoever men may declaim of “the dignity of Human Nature and its purity,” howsoever we may boast of our nature,-yet standing by ourselves, alone and apart from the influences that are brought to bear upon us by the institutions of Society, and the unseen and unfelt hand of an ever-present God, none there are that can adequately feel how easily betrayed into evil is this part of our nature.

We have already, in the commencement of this our treatise, explained the nature of Original Sin as an inherent insubordination in our nature, whereby “it is not subject unto the law of God," nor can adequately fulfil it;* which law of God is also in a measure the law of man's nature, his Conscience and his Reason, and also his Affections.

And in our examination of each faculty of the spiritual or governing powers, we have shown how far that particular power “ Animal Mind," as well as a Spiritual Being, can become, as it were, an “Animal.” His “ Affections," as they can be alloyed, or rather supplanted by “Desires," and so become selfish, so can they be alloyed or supplanted by "mere animal appctites," or lusts. The man may make of himself so far a mere animal. This substitution of the appetites for the “Affections," we call “Sensuality.”

* “For the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject unto the law of God, neither indeed can be."-Rom. viii. 7.

These, then, we count to be by nature the deficiencies of the Heart of man considered in itself, apart from all subduing influences,

“Uncontrolledness,” or “disobedience to law," Selfishness, and Sensuality.

And considered apart from all exterior influences that are brought to bear upon man,—that is, if man were as he hardly can be, shut out from all Gracious influences of his natural position in a world of Probation, and also from the Evangelical influences of the Gospel; we believe that the situation of the man would be as one having limbs, and muscles, and bones, and nerves to walk with, the very harmony and proportion of which suggested his walking,--and yet these all under the influence of palsy. Or, as it may better express the effect of “Original Sin" upon this part of his nature, we believe that he would rather be as the man to whom all his organization naturally, as well as his position in Society, suggests rationality and decorousness of conduct; and yet insanity having taken possession of his frame, overcomes, by the nervous influence, the “mental powers.” And thus in him the body may be said to be warring with the mental power in equal strife.; so equal, that to each he may apply the term “I,” and say, “I wish to rule myself"—that is, the “I” which is sane, wishes to overcome, and control the “I” which is insane. So it seems would be the situation of man's Heart by nature ; that is, apart from all gracious exterior influences. There would be in it the feeling and strong desire of control according to the harmony of God's law; but this only a feeling and persuasion, lying unable, insufficient, palsied, dead. And close by it would be the three evils that we have mentioned, uncontrolled and carrying the man hither and thither in defiance of all law of God and man; now swelling and blazing up into exuberant and overpowering Passions, and now sinking into cold and dead callousness and apathy. And the Affections, all of them, would also be perverted from their due ends, and Self-will, and “Selfishness,” and “Sensuality” take

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »