Part 7 out of 7
and how little it is understood, the following discourse would supply
The whole discussion on Prescience and Freewill, with exception of the
page or two borrowed from Skelton, displays an unacquaintance with the
deeper philosophy, and a helplessness in the management of the
particular question, which I know not how to reconcile with the
steadiness and clearness of insight evinced in the earlier Discourses. I
neither do nor ever could see any other difficulty on the subject, than
what is contained and anticipated in the idea of eternity.
By Ideas I mean intuitions not sensuous, which can be expressed only by
contradictory conceptions, or, to speak more accurately, are in
themselves necessarily both inexpressible and inconceivable, but are
suggested by two contradictory positions. This is the essential
character of all ideas, consequently of eternity, in which the
attributes of omniscience and omnipotence are included. Now prescience
and freewill are in fact nothing more than the two contradictory
positions by which the human understanding struggles to express
successively the idea of eternity. Not eternity in the negative sense as
the mere absence of succession, much less eternity in the senseless
sense of an infinite time; but eternity,--the Eternal; as Deity, as God.
Our theologians forget that the objection applies equally to the
possibility of the divine will; but if they reply that prescience
applied to an eternal, 'Entis absoluti tota et simultanea fruitio', is
but an anthropomorphism, or term of accommodation, the same answer
serves in respect of the human will; for the epithet human does not
enter into the syllogism. As to contingency, whence did Mr. Davison
learn that it is a necessary accompaniment of freedom, or of free
action? My philosophy teaches me the very contrary.
Ib. p. 392.
He contends, without reserve, that the free actions of men are not
within the divine prescience; resting his doctrine partly on the
assumption that there are no strict and absolute predictions in
Scripture of those actions in which men are represented as free and
responsible; and partly on the abstract reason, that such actions are
in their nature impossible to be certainly foreknown.
I utterly deny contingency except in relation to the limited and
imperfect knowledge of man. But the misery is, that men write about
freewill without a single meditation on will absolutely; on the idea
[Greek: katt' exochaen] without any idea; and so bewilder themselves in
the jungle of alien conceptions; and to understand the truth they
overlay their reason.
Disc. VIII. p. 416.
It would not be easy to calculate the good which a man like Mr. Davison
might effect, under God, by a work on the Messianic Prophecies,
specially intended for and addressed to the present race of Jews,--if
only he would make himself acquainted with their objections and ways of
understanding Scripture. For instance, a learned Jew would perhaps
contend that this prophecy of Isaiah (c. ii. 2-4,) cannot fairly be
interpreted of a mere local origination of a religion historically; as
the drama might be described as going forth from Athens, and philosophy
from Academus and the Painted Porch, but must refer to an established
and continuing seat of worship, 'a house of the God of Jacob'. The
answer to this is provided in the preceding verse, 'in the top of the
mountains'; which irrefragably proves the figurative character of the
Ib. p. 431.
One point, however, is certain and equally important, namely, that the
Christian Church, when it comes to recognize more truly the obligation
imposed upon it by the original command of its Founder, 'Go teach all
That the duty here recommended is deducible from this text is quite
clear to my mind; but whether it is the direct sense and primary
intention of the words; whether the first meaning is not
negative,--('Have no respect to what nation a man is of, but teach it to
all indifferently whom you have an opportunity of addressing',)--this is
not so clear. The larger sense is not without its difficulties, nor is
this narrower sense without its practical advantages.
Disc. IX. p. 453, 4.
The striking inferiority of several of these latter Discourses in point
of style, as compared with the first 150 pages of this volume, perplexes
me. It seems more than mere carelessness, or the occasional 'infausta
tempora scribendi', can account for. I question whether from any modern
work of a tenth part of the merit of these Discourses, either in matter
or in force and felicity of diction and composition, as many uncouth and
awkward sentences could be extracted. The paragraph in page 453 and 454,
is not a specimen of the worst. In a volume which ought to be, and which
probably will be, in every young Clergyman's library, these 'maculae' are
subjects of just regret. The utility of the work, no less than its great
comparative excellence, render its revision a duty on the part of the
author; specks are no trifles in diamonds.
Disc. XII. p. 519.
Four such ruling kingdoms did arise. The first, the Babylonian, was in
being when the prophecy is represented to have been given. It was
followed by the Persian; the Persian gave way to the Grecian; the
Roman closed the series.
This is stoutly denied by Eichhorn, who contends that the Mede or
Medo-Persian is the second--if I recollect aright. But it always struck
me that Eichhorn, like other learned Infidels, is caught in his own
snares. For if the prophecies are of the age of the first Empire, and
actually delivered by Daniel, there is no reason why the Roman Empire
should not have been predicted;--for superhuman predictions, the last
two at least must have been. But if the book was a forgery, or a
political poem like Gray's Bard or Lycophron's Cassandra, and later than
Antiochus Epiphanes, it is strange and most improbable that the Roman
should have escaped notice. In both cases the omission of the last and
most important Empire is inexplicable.
Ib. p. 521.
Yet we have it on authority of Josephus, that Daniel's prophecies were
read publicly among the Jews in their worship, as well as their other
It is but fair, however, to remember that the Jewish Church ranked the
book of Daniel in the third class only, among the Hagiographic
--passionately almost as the Jews before and at the time of our Saviour
were attached to it.
Ib. p. 522-3.
But to a Jewish eye, or to any eye placed in the same position of view
in the age of Antiochus Epiphanes, it is utterly impossible to admit
that this superior strength of the Roman power to reduce and destroy,
this heavier arm of subjugation, could have revealed itself so
plainly, as to warrant the express deliberate description of it.
'Quaere'. See Polybius.
We shall yet have to inquire how it could be foreseen that this
fourth, this yet unestablished empire, should be the last in the line.
This is a sound and weighty argument, which the preceding does not, I
confess, strike me as being. On the contrary, the admission that by a
writer of the Maccabaic aera the Roman power could scarcely have been
overlooked, greatly strengthens this second argument, as naturally
suggesting expectations of change, and wave-like succession of empires,
rather than the idea of a last. In the age of Augustus this might
possibly have occurred to a profound thinker; but the age of Antiochus
was too late to permit the Roman power to escape notice; and not late
enough to suggest its exclusive establishment so as to leave no source
[Footnote 1: Discourses on Prophecy, in which are considered its
structure, use and inspiration, being the substance of twelve Sermons
preached in the Chapel of Lincoln's Inn in the Lecture founded by the
Right Rev. William Warburton, Bishop of Gloucester. By John Davison,
B.D. 2nd edit. London, 1825.]
* * * * *
NOTES ON IRVING'S BEN-EZRA.  1827.
Christ the WORD.
The Scriptures--The Spirit--The Church.
Such seemeth to me to be the scheme of the Faith in Christ. The written
Word, the Spirit and the Church, are co-ordinate, the indispensable
conditions and the working causes of the perpetuity and continued
re-nascence and spiritual life of Christ still militant. The Eternal
Word, Christ from everlasting, is the 'prothesis' or identity;--the
Scriptures and the Church are the two poles, or the 'thesis' and
'antithesis'; the Preacher in direct line under the Spirit, but likewise
the point of junction of the written Word and the Church, being the
'synthesis'. And here is another proof of a principle elsewhere by me
asserted and exemplified, that divine truths are ever a 'tetractys', or
a triad equal to a 'tetractys': 4=1 or 3=4=1. But the entire scheme is a
pentad--God's hand in the world. 
It may be not amiss that I should leave a record in my own hand, how
far, in what sense, and under what conditions, I agree with my friend,
Edward Irving, respecting the second coming of the Son of Man.
I. How far? First, instead of the full and entire conviction, the
positive assurance, which Mr. Irving entertains, I--even in those points
in which my judgment most coincides with his,--profess only to regard
them as probable, and to vindicate them as nowise inconsistent with
orthodoxy. They may be believed, and they may be doubted, 'salva
Catholica fide'. Further, from these points I exclude all
prognostications of time and event; the mode, the persons, the places,
of the accomplishment; and I decisively protest against all parts of Mr.
Irving's and of Lacunza's scheme grounded on the books of Daniel or the
Apocalypse, interpreted as either of the two, Irving or Lacunza,
understands them. Again, I protest against all identification of the
coming with the Apocalyptic Millennium, which in my belief began under
II. In what sense? In this and no other, that the objects of the
Christian Redemption will be perfected on this earth;--that the kingdom
of God and his Word, the latter as the Son of Man, in which the divine
will shall 'be done on earth as it is in heaven', will 'come';--and that
the whole march of nature and history, from the first impregnation of
Chaos by the Spirit, converges toward this kingdom as the final cause of
the world. Life begins in detachment from Nature, and ends in union with
III. Under what conditions? That I retain my former convictions
respecting St. Michael, and the ex-saint Lucifer, and the Genie Prince
of Persia, and the re-institution of bestial sacrifices in the Temple at
Jerusalem, and the rest of this class. All these appear to me so many
pimples on the face of my friend's faith from inward heats, leaving it
indeed a fine handsome intelligent face, but certainly not adding to its
Such are the convictions of S. T. Coleridge, May, 1827.
P.S. I fully agree with Mr. Irving as to the literal fulfilment of all
the prophecies which respect the restoration of the Jews. ('Deuteron.'
It may be long before Edward Irving sees what I seem at least to see so
clearly,--and yet, I doubt not, the time will come when he too will see
with the same evidentness,--how much grander a front his system would
have presented to judicious beholders; on how much more defensible a
position he would have placed it,--and the remark applies equally to Ben
Ezra (that is, Emanuel Lacunza)--had he trusted the proof to Scriptures
of undisputed catholicity, to the spirit of the whole Bible, to the
consonance of the doctrine with the reason, its fitness to the needs and
capacities of mankind, and its harmony with the general plan of the
divine dealings with the world,--and had left the Apocalypse in the back
ground. But alas! instead of this he has given it such prominence, such
prosiliency of relief, that he has made the main strength of his hope
appear to rest on a vision, so obscure that his own author and
faith's-mate claims a meaning for its contents only on the supposition
that the meaning is yet to come!
Preliminary Discourse, p. lxxx.
Now of these three, the office of Christ, as our prophet, is the means
used by the Holy Spirit for working the redemption of the
understanding of men; that faculty by which we acquire the knowledge
on which proceed both our inward principles of conduct and our outward
acts of power.
I cannot forbear expressing my regret that Mr. Irving has not adhered to
the clear and distinct exposition of the understanding, 'genere et
gradu', given in the Aids to Reflection. 
What can be plainer than to say: the understanding is the medial faculty
or faculty of means, as reason on the other hand is the source of ideas
or ultimate ends. By reason we determine the ultimate end: by the
understanding we are enabled to select and adapt the appropriate means
for the attainment of, or approximation to, this end, according to
circumstances. But an ultimate end must of necessity be an idea, that
is, that which is not representable by the sense, and has no entire
correspondent in nature, or the world of the senses. For in nature there
can be neither a first nor a last:--all that we can see, smell, taste,
touch, are means, and only in a qualified sense, and by the defect of
our language, entitled ends. They are only relatively ends in a chain of
motives. B. is the end to A.; but it is itself a mean to C., and in like
manner C. is a mean to D., and so on. Thus words are the means by which
we reduce appearances, or things presented through the senses, to their
several kinds, or 'genera'; that is, we generalize, and thus think and
judge. Hence the understanding, considered specially as an intellective
power, is the source and faculty of words;--and on this account the
understanding is justly defined, both by Archbishop Leighton, and by
Immanuel Kant, the faculty that judges by, or according to, sense.
However, practical or intellectual, it is one and the same
understanding, and the definition, the medial faculty, expresses its
true character in both directions alike. I am urgent on this point,
because on the right conception of the same, namely, that understanding
and sense (to which the sensibility supplies the material of outness,
'materiam objectivam',) constitute the natural mind of man, depends the
comprehension of St. Paul's whole theological system. And this natural
mind, which is named the mind of the flesh, [Greek: phronaema sarkos],
as likewise [Greek: psychikae synesis], the intellectual power of the
living or animal soul, St. Paul everywhere contradistinguishes from the
spirit, that is, the power resulting from the union and co-inherence of
the will and the reason;--and this spirit both the Christian and elder
Jewish Church named, 'sophia', or wisdom.
Ben-Ezra. Part I. c. v. p. 67.
Eusebius and St. Epiphanius name Cerinthusas the inventor of many
corruptions. That heresiarch being given up to the belly and the
palate, placed therein the happiness of man. And so taught his
disciples, that after the Resurrection, * * *. And what appeared most
important, each would be master of an entire seraglio, like a Sultan,
I find very great difficulty in crediting these black charges on
Cerinthus, and know not how to reconcile them with the fact that the
Apocalypse itself was by many attributed to Cerinthus. But Mr. Hunt is
not more famous for blacking than some of the Fathers.
Ib. pp. 73, 4.
Against whom a very eloquent man, Dionysius Alexandrinus, a Father of
the Church, wrote an elegant work, to ridicule the Millennarian fable,
the golden and gemmed Jerusalem on the earth, the renewal of the
Temple, the blood of victims. If the book of St. Dionysius had
contained nothing but the derision and confutation of all we have just
read, it is certain that he doth in no way concern himself with the
harmless Millennarians, but with the Jews and Judaizers. It is to be
clearly seen that Dionysius had nothing in his eye, but the ridiculous
excesses of Nepos, and his peculiar tenets upon circumcision, &c.
Lacunza, I suspect, was ignorant of Greek: and seems not to have known
that the object of Dionysius was to demonstrate that the Apocalypse was
neither authentic nor a canonical book.
Ib. p. 85.
The ruin of Antichrist, with all that is comprehended under that name,
being entirely consummated, and the King of kings remaining master of
the field, St. John immediately continues in the 20th chapter, which
thus commenceth: 'And I saw an angel come down from heaven, &c. And I
saw thrones, &c. And when a thousand years are expired, Satan shall be
loosed out of his prison.'
It is only necessary to know that the whole book from the first verse to
the last is written in symbols, to be satisfied that the true meaning of
this passage is simply, that only the great Confessors and Martyrs will
be had in remembrance and honour in the Church after the establishment
of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. And observe, it is the
souls that the Seer beholds:--there is not a word of the resurrection of
the body;--for this would indeed have been the appropriate symbol of a
resurrection in a real and personal sense.
Ib. c. vi. p. 108.
Now this very thing St. John likewise declareth * * to wit, 'that they
who have been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of
God, and they who have not worshipped the beast', these shall live,
'or be raised' at the coming of the Lord, 'which is the first
Aye! but by what authority is this synonimizing "or" asserted? The Seer
not only does not speak of any resurrection, but by the word [Greek:
psychas], souls, expressly asserts the contrary. In no sense of the word
can souls, which descended in Christ's train ('chorus sacer animarum et
Christi comitatus') from Heaven, be said 'resurgere'. Resurrection is
always and exclusively resurrection in the body;--not indeed a rising of
the 'corpus' [Greek: phantastikon], that is, the few ounces of carbon,
nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, and phosphate of lime, the 'copula' of which
that gave the form no longer exists,--and of which Paul exclaims;--'Thou
fool! not this', &c.--but the 'corpus' [Greek: hypostatikon, ae
But there is yet another and worse wresting of the text. Who that reads
Lacunza, p. 108, last line but twelve, would not understand that the
Apocalypt had asserted this enthronement of the souls of the Gentile and
Judaeo-Christian Martyrs which he beheld in the train or suite of the
descending Messiah; and that he had first seen them in the descent, and
afterward saw thrones assigned to them? Whereas the sentence precedes,
and has positively no connection with these souls. The literal
interpretation of the symbols c. xx. v. 4, is, "I then beheld the
Christian religion the established religion of the state throughout the
Roman empire;--emperors, kings, magistrates, and the like, all
Christians, and administering laws in the name of Christ, that is,
receiving the Scriptures as the supreme and paramount law. Then in all
the temples the name of Jesus was invoked as the King of glory, and
together with him the old afflicted and tormented fellow-laborers with
Christ were revived in high and reverential commemoration," &c. But that
the whole Vision from first to last, in every sentence, yea, every word,
is symbolical, and in the boldest, largest style of symbolic language;
and secondly, that it is a work of disputed canonicity, and at no known
period of the Church could truly lay claim to catholicity;--but for
this, I think this verse would be worth a cartload of the texts which
the Romanist divines and catechists ordinarily cite as sanctioning the
invocation of Saints.
Ib. p. 110.
You will say nevertheless, that even the wicked will be raised
incorruptible to inherit incorruption, because being once raised,
their bodies will no more change or be dissolved, but must continue
entire, for ever united with their sad and miserable souls. Well, and
would you call this corruption or incorruptibility? Certainly this is
not the sense of the Apostle, when he formally assures us, yea, even
threatens us, that corruption cannot inherit incorruption. 'Neither
doth corruption inherit incorruption'. What then may this singular
expression mean? This is what it manifestly means;--that no person,
whoever he may be, without any exception, who possesseth a corrupt
heart and corrupt actions, and therein persevereth unto death, shall
have reason to expect in the resurrection a pure, subtile, active and
This is actually dangerous tampering with the written letter.
Without touching on the question whether St. Paul in this celebrated
chapter (1 'Cor'. xv.) speaks of a partial or of the general
resurrection, or even conceding to Lacunza that the former opinion is
the more probable; I must still vehemently object to this Jesuitical
interpretation of corruption, as used in a moral sense, and distinctive
of the wicked souls. St. Paul nowhere speaks dogmatically or
preceptively (not popularly and incidentally,) of a soul as the proper
'I'. It is always 'we', or the man. How could a regenerate saint put off
corruption at the sound of the trump, if up to that hour it did not in
some sense or other appertain to him? But what need of many words? It
flashes on every reader whose imagination supplies an unpreoccupied,
unrefracting, 'medium' to the Apostolic assertion, that corruption in
this passage is a descriptive synonyme of the material sensuous organism
common to saint and sinner,--standing in precisely the same relation to
the man that the testaceous offensive and defensive armour does to the
crab and tortoise. These slightly combined and easily decomponible
stuffs are as incapable of subsisting under the altered conditions of
the earth as an hydatid in the blaze of a tropical sun. They would be no
longer 'media' of communion between the man and his circumstances.
A heavy difficulty presses, as it appears to me, on Lacunza's system, as
soon as we come to consider the general resurrection. Our Lord (in books
of indubitable and never doubted catholicity) speaks of some who rise to
bliss and glory, others who at the same time rise to shame and
condemnation. Now if the former class live not during the whole interval
from their death to the general resurrection, including the Millennium,
or 'Dies Messiae',--how should they, whose imperfect or insufficient
merits excluded them from the kingdom of the Messiah on earth, be all at
once fitted for the kingdom of heaven?
Ib. ch. vii. p. 118.
It appears to me that this sentence, being looked to attentively,
means in good language this only, that the word 'quick', which the
Apostles, full of the Holy Spirit, set down, is a word altogether
useless, which might without loss have been omitted, and that it were
enough to have set down the word 'dead': for by that word alone is the
whole expressed, and with much more clearness and brevity.
The narrow outline within which the Jesuits confined the theological
reading of their 'alumni' is strongly marked in this (in so many
respects) excellent work: for example, the "most believing mind," with
which Lacunza takes for granted the exploded fable of the Catechumens'
('vulgo' Apostles') Creed having been the quotient of an Apostolic
'pic-nic', to which each of the twelve contributed his several
Ib. ch. ix. p. 127.
The Apostle, St. Peter, speaking of the day of the Lord, says, that
that day will come suddenly, &c. (2 Pet. iii. 10.)
There are serious difficulties besetting the authenticity of the
Catholic Epistles under the name of Peter; though there exist no grounds
for doubting that they are of the Apostolic age. A large portion too of
the difficulties would be removed by the easy and nowise improbable
supposition, that Peter, no great scholar or grammarian, had dictated
the substance, the matter, and left the diction and style to his
'amanuensis', who had been an auditor of St. Paul. The tradition which
connects, not only Mark, but Luke the Evangelist, the friend and
biographer of Paul, with Peter, as a secretary, is in favour of this
hypothesis. But what is of much greater importance, especially for the
point in discussion, is the character of these and other similar
descriptions of the 'Dies Messiae', the 'Dies ultima', and the like. Are
we bound to receive them as articles of faith? Is there sufficient
reason to assert them to have been direct revelations immediately
vouchsafed to the sacred writers? I cannot satisfy my judgment that
there is;--first, because I find no account of any such events having
been revealed to the Patriarchs, or to Moses, or to the Prophets; and
because I do find these events asserted, and (for aught I have been able
to discover,) for the first time, in the Jewish Church by uninspired
Rabbis, in nearly or altogether the same words as those of the Apostles,
and know that before and in the Apostolic age, these anticipations had
become popular, and generally received notions; and lastly, because they
were borrowed by the Jews from the Greek philosophy, and like several
other notions, taken from less respectable quarters, adapted to their
ancient and national religious belief. Now I know of no revealed truth
that did not originate in Revelation, and find it hard to reconcile my
mind to the belief that any Christian truth, any essential article of
faith, should have been first made known by the father of lies, or the
guess-work of the human understanding blinded by Paganism, or at best
without the knowledge of the true God. Of course I would not apply this
to any assertion of any New Testament writer, which was the final aim
and primary intention of the whole passage; but only to sentences 'in
ordine ad' some other doctrine or precept, 'illustrandi causa', or 'ad
hominem', or 'more suasorio sive ad ornaturam, et rhetorice'.
Ib. Part II. p. 145.
Second characteristic. 'The kingdom shall be divided.'--Third
characteristic. 'The kingdom shall be partly strong and partly
brittle.'--Fourth characteristic. 'They shall mingle themselves with
the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another.'
How exactly do these characters apply to the Greek Empire under the
successors of Alexander,--when the Greeks were dispersed over the
civilized world, as artists, rhetoricians, 'grammatici', secretaries,
private tutors, parasites, physicians, and the like!
Ib. p. 153.
'For to them he thus speaketh in the Gospel: And then shall they see
the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when
these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your
heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.'
I cannot deny that there is great force and an imposing verisimilitude
in this and the preceding chapter, and much that demands silent thought
and respectful attention. But still the great question presses on
me:--'coming in a cloud'! What is the true import of this phrase? Has
not God himself expounded it? To the Son of Man, the great Apostle
assures us, all power is given in heaven and on earth. He became
Providence,--that is, a Divine Power behind the cloudy veil of human
agency and worldly events and incidents, controlling, disposing, and
directing acts and events to the gradual unfolding and final
consummation of the great scheme of Redemption; the casting forth of the
evil and alien nature from man, and thus effecting the union of the
creature with the Creator, of man with God, in and through the Son of
Man, even the Son of God made manifest. Now can it be doubted by the
attentive and unprejudiced reader of St. Matthew, c. xxiv, that the Son
of Man, in fact, came in the utter destruction and devastation of the
Jewish Temple and State, during the period from Vespasian to Hadrian,
both included; and is it a sufficient reason for our rejecting the
teaching of Christ himself, of Christ glorified and in his kingly
character, that his Apostles, who disclaim all certain knowledge of the
awful event, had understood his words otherwise, and in a sense more
commensurate with their previous notions and the prejudices of their
education? They communicated their conjectures, but as conjectures, and
these too guarded by the avowal, that they had no revelation, no
revealed commentary on their Master's words, upon this occasion, the
great apocalypse of Jesus Christ while yet in the flesh. For by this
title was this great prophecy known among the Christians of the
Ib. p. 253.
Never, Oh! our Lady! never, Oh! our Mother! shalt thou fall again into
the crime of idolatry.
Was ever blindness like unto this blindness? I can imagine but one way
of making it seem possible, namely, that this round square or
rectilineal curve--this honest Jesuit, I mean--had confined his
conception of idolatry to the worship of false gods;--whereas his saints
are genuine godlings, and his 'Magna Mater' a goddess in her own
right;--and that thus he overlooked the meaning of the word.
Ib. p. 254.
The entire text of the Apostle is as follows:--'Now we beseech you,
brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering
together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind', &c. (2 Thess.
O Edward Irving! Edward Irving! by what fascination could your spirit be
drawn away from passages like this, to guess and dream over the
rhapsodies of the Apocalypse? For rhapsody, according to your
interpretation, the Poem undeniably is;--though, rightly expounded, it
is a well knit and highly poetical evolution of a part of this and our
Lord's more comprehensive prediction, 'Luke' xvii.
Ib. p. 297.
On the ordinary ideas of the coming of Christ in glory and majesty, it
will doubtless appear an extravagance to name the Jews, or to take
them into consideration; for, according to those ideas, they should
hardly have the least particle of our attention.
In comparing this with the preceding chapter I could not help
exclaiming; What an excellent book would this Jesuit have written, if
Daniel and the Apocalypse had not existed, or had been unknown to, or
rejected by, him!
You may divide Lacunza's points of belief into two parallel
columns;--the first would be found to contain much that is demanded by,
much that is consonant to, and nothing that is not compatible with,
reason, the harmony of Holy Writ, and the idea of Christian faith. The
second would consist of puerilities and anilities, some impossible, most
incredible; and all so silly, so sensual, as to befit a dreaming
Talmudist, not a Scriptural Christian. And this latter column would be
found grounded on Daniel and the Apocalypse!
[Footnote 1: The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty. By Juan Josafat
Ben-Ezra, a converted Jew. Translated from the Spanish, with a
preliminary Discourse. By the Rev. Edward Irving, A.M. London, 1827.]
[Footnote 2: See 'supra', vol. iii. p. 93.--Ed.]
[Footnote 3: P. 157, 4th edit.--Ed.]
* * * * *
NOTES ON NOBLE'S APPEAL. 1827. 
How natural it is to mistake the weakness of an adversary's arguments
for the strength of our own cause! This is especially applicable to Mr.
Noble's Appeal. Assuredly as far as Mr. Beaumont's Notes are concerned,
his victory is complete.
Sect. IV. p. 210.
The intellectual spirit is moving upon the chaos of minds, which
ignorance and necessity have thrown into collision and confusion; and
the result will be a new creation. "Nature" (to use the nervous
language of an-old writer,) "will be melted down and recoined; and all
will be bright and beautiful."
Alas! if this be possible now, or at any time henceforward, whence came
the dross? If nature be bullion that can be melted and thus purified by
the conjoint action of heat and elective attraction, I pray Mr. Noble to
tell me to what name or 'genus' he refers the dross? Will he tell me, to
the Devil? Whence came the Devil? And how was the pure bullion so
thoughtlessly made as to have an elective affinity for this Devil?
Sect. V. p. 286.
The next anecdote that I shall adduce is similar in its nature to the
last * * *. The relater is Dr. Stilling, Counsellor at the Court of
the Duke of Baden, in a work entitled 'Die Theorie der Geister-Kunde',
printed in 1808.
Mr. Noble is a man of too much English good sense to have relied on
Sung's ('alias' Dr. Stilling's) testimony, had he ever read the work in
which this passage is found. I happen to possess the work; and a more
anile, credulous, solemn fop never existed since the days of old Audley.
It is strange that Mr. Noble should not have heard, that these three
anecdotes were first related by Immanuel Kant, and still exist in his
Ib. p. 315.
"Can he be a sane man who records the subsequent reverie as matter of
fact? The Baron informs us, that on a certain night a man appeared to
him in the midst of a strong shining light, and said, 'I am God the
Lord, the Creator and Redeemer; I have chosen thee to explain to men
the interior and spiritual sense of the Sacred Writings: I will
dictate to thee what thou oughtest to write?' From this period, the
Baron relates he was so illumined, as to behold, in the clearest
manner, what passed in the spiritual world, and that he could converse
with angels and spirits as with men," &c.
I remember no such passage as this in Swedenborg's works. Indeed it is
virtually contradicted by their whole tenor. Swedenborg asserts himself
to relate 'visa et audita',--his own experience, as a traveller and
visitor of the spiritual world,--not the words of another as a mere
'amanuensis'. But altogether this Gulielmus must be a silly Billy.
Ib. p. 321.
The Apostolic canon in such cases is, 'Believe not every spirit, but
try the spirits whether they be of God'. (1 John iv. 1.) And the
touchstone to which they are to be brought is pointed out by the
Prophet: 'To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according
to this word, it is because there is no truth in them.' (Is. viii.
20.) But instead of this canon you offer another * * *. It is simply
this: Whoever professes to be the bearer of divine communications, is
insane. To bring Swedenborg within the operation of this rule, you
quote, as if from his own works, a passage which is nowhere to be
found in them, but which you seem to have taken from some biographical
dictionary or cyclopaedia; few or none of which give anything like a
fair account of the matter.
Aye! my memory did not fail me, I find. As to insanity in the sense
intended by Gulielmus, namely, as 'mania',--I should as little think of
charging Swedenborg with it, as of calling a friend mad who laboured
under an 'acyanoblepsia'.
Ib. p. 323.
Did you never read of one who says, in words very like your version of
the Baron's reverie: 'It came to pass, that, as I took my journey, and
was come nigh unto Damascus, about noon, suddenly there shone from
heaven a great light round about me: and I fell on the ground, and
heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?'
In the short space of four years the newspapers contained three several
cases, two of which I cut out, and still have among my ocean of papers,
and which, as stated, were as nearly parallel, in external
accompaniments, to St. Paul's as cases can well be:--struck with
lightning,--heard the thunder as an articulate voice,--blind for a few
days, and suddenly recovered their sight. But then there was no Ananias,
no confirming revelation to another. This it was that justified St. Paul
as a wise man in regarding the incident as supernatural, or as more than
a providential omen. N. B. Not every revelation requires a sensible
miracle as the credential; but every revelation of a new series of
'credenda'. The prophets appealed to records of acknowledged authority,
and to their obvious sense literally interpreted. The Baptist needed no
miracle to attest his right of calling sinners to repentance. See
'Exodus' iv. 10.
Ib. pp. 346, 7.
This sentiment, that miracles are not the proper evidences of
doctrinal truth, is, assuredly, the decision of the Truth itself; as
is obvious from many passages in Scripture. We have seen that the
design of the miracles of Moses, as external performances, was not to
instruct the Israelites in spiritual subjects, but to make them
obedient subjects of a peculiar species of political state. And though
the miracles of Jesus Christ collaterally served as testimonies to his
character, he repeatedly intimates that this was not their main
design. * * * At another time more plainly still, he says, that it is
'a wicked and adulterous generation' (that) 'seeketh after a sign'; on
which occasion, according to Mark, 'he sighed deeply in his spirit'.
How characteristic is that touch of the Apostle, 'The Jews require a
sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom!' (where by wisdom he means the
elegance and refinement of Grecian literature.)
Agreeing, as in the main I do, with the sentiments here expressed by
this eloquent writer, I must notice that he has, however, mistaken the
sense of the [Greek: saemeion], which the Jews would have tempted our
Saviour to shew,--namely, the signal for revolt by openly declaring
himself their king, and leading them against the Romans. The
foreknowledge that this superstition would shortly hurry them into utter
ruin caused the deep sigh,--as on another occasion, the bitter tears.
Again, by the [Greek: sophia] of the Greeks their disputatious [Greek:
sophistikae] is meant. The sophists pretended to teach wisdom as an art:
and 'sophistae' may be literally rendered, wisdom-mongers, as we say,
Ib. p. 350.
Some probably will say, "What argument can induce us to believe a man
in a concern of this nature who gives no visible credentials to his
authority?" * * * But let us ask in return, "Is it worthy of a being
wearing the figure of a man to require such proofs as these to
determine his judgment?" * * * "The beasts act from the impulse of
their bodily senses, but are utterly incapable of seeing from reason
why they should so act: and it might easily be shewn, that while a man
thinks and acts under the influence of a miracle, he is as much
incapable of perceiving from any rational ground why he should thus
think and act, as a beast is." "What!" our opponents will perhaps
reply, * * * "Was it not by miracles that the prophets (some of them)
testified their authority? Do you not believe these facts?" Yes, my
friends, I do most entirely believe them, &c.
There is so much of truth in all this reasoning on miracles, that I feel
pain in the thought that the result is false,--because it was not the
whole truth. But this is the grounding, and at the same time pervading,
error of the Swedenborgians;--that they overlook the distinction between
congruity with reason, truth of consistency, or internal possibility of
this or that being objectively real, and the objective reality as fact.
Miracles, 'quoad' miracles, can never supply the place of subjective
evidence, that is, of insight. But neither can subjective insight supply
the place of objective sight. The certainty of the truth of a
mathematical arch can never prove the fact of its existence. I
anticipate the answers; but know that they likewise proceed from the
want of distinguishing between ideas, such as God, Eternity, the
responsible Will, the Good, and the like,--the actuality of which is
absolutely subjective, and includes both the relatively subjective and
the relatively objective as higher or transcendant realities, which
alone are the proper objects of faith, the great postulates of reason in
order to its own admission of its own being,--the not distinguishing, I
say, between these, and those positions which must be either matters of
fact or fictions. For such latter positions it is that miracles are
required in lieu of experience. A.'s testimony of experience supplies
the want of the same experience for B. C. D., &c. For example, how many
thousands believe the existence of red snow on the testimony of Captain
Parry! But who can expect more than hints in a marginal note?
Sect. VI. pp. 378, 9; 380, 1.
In the general views, then, which are presented in the writings of
Swedenborg on the subject of Heaven and Hell, as the abodes,
respectively, of happiness and of misery, while there certainly is not
anything which is not in the highest degree agreeable both to reason
and Scripture, there also seems nothing which could be deemed
inconsistent with the usual conceptions of the Christian world.
What tends to render thinking readers a little sceptical, is the want of
a distinct boundary between the deductions from reason, and the
articles, the truth of which is to rest on the Baron's personal
testimony, his 'visa et audita'. Nor is the Baron himself (as it appears
to me) quite consistent on this point.
Ib. p. 434.
Witness, again, the poet Milton, who introduces active sports among
the recreations which he deemed worthy of angels, and (strange indeed
for a Puritan!) included even dancing among the number.
How could a man of Noble's sense and sensibility bring himself thus to
profane the awful name of Milton, by associating it with the epithet
I have often thought of writing a work to be entitled 'Vindiciae
Heterodoxae, sive celebrium virorum [Greek: paradogmatizonton] defensio';
that is, Vindication of Great Men unjustly branded; and at such times
the names prominent to my mind's eye have been Giordano Bruno, Jacob
Behmen, Benedict Spinoza, and Emanuel Swedenborg. Grant, that the origin
of the Swedenborgian theology is a problem; yet on which ever of the
three possible hypotheses--(possible I mean for gentlemen, scholars and
Christians)--it may be solved---namely:
1. Swedenborg's own assertion
and constant belief in the hypothesis of a supernatural illumination;
2. that the great and excellent man was led into this belief by
becoming the subject of a very rare, but not (it is said) altogether
unique, conjunction of the somniative faculty (by which the products of
the understanding, that is to say, words, conceptions and the like, are
rendered instantaneously into forms of sense) with the voluntary and
other powers of the waking state; or,
3. the modest suggestion that the first and second may not be so
incompatible as they appear--still it ought never to be forgotten that
the merit and value of Swedenborg's system do only in a very secondary
degree depend on any one of the three. For even though the first were
adopted, the conviction and conversion of such a believer must,
according to a fundamental principle of the New Church, have been
wrought by an insight into the intrinsic truth and goodness of the
doctrines, severally and collectively, and their entire consonance with
the light of the written and of the eternal word, that is, with the
Scriptures and with the sciential and the practical reason. Or say that
the second hypothesis were preferred, and that by some hitherto
unexplained affections of Swedenborg's brain and nervous system, he from
the year 1743, thought and reasoned through the 'medium' and
instrumentality of a series of appropriate and symbolic visual and
auditual images, spontaneously rising before him, and these so clear and
so distinct, as at length to overpower perhaps his first suspicions of
their subjective nature, and to become objective for him, that is, in
his own belief of their kind and origin,--still the thoughts, the
reasonings, the grounds, the deductions, the facts illustrative, or in
proof, and the conclusions, remain the same; and the reader might derive
the same benefit from them as from the sublime and impressive truths
conveyed in the Vision of Mirza or the Tablet of Cebes. So much even
from a very partial acquaintance with the works of Swedenborg, I can
venture to assert; that as a moralist Swedenborg is above all praise;
and that as a naturalist, psychologist, and theologian, he has strong
and varied claims on the gratitude and admiration of the professional
and philosophical student.--April 1827.
P. S. Notwithstanding all that Mr. Noble says in justification of his
arrangement, it is greatly to be regretted that the contents of this
work are so confusedly tossed together. It is, however, a work of great
[Footnote 1: An Appeal in behalf of the views of the eternal world and
state, and the doctrines of faith and life, held by the body of
Christians who believe that a New Church is signified (in the
Revelation, c. xxi.) by the New Jerusalem, including Answers to
objections, particularly those of the Rev. G. Beaumont, in his work
entitled "The Anti-Swedenborg." Addressed to the reflecting of all
denominations. By Samuel Noble, Minister of Hanover Street Chapel,
London. London, 1826. Ed.]
* * * * *
ESSAY ON FAITH.
Faith may be defined, as fidelity to our own being--so far as such being
is not and cannot become an object of the senses; and hence, by clear
inference or implication, to being generally, as far as the same is not
the object of the senses: and again to whatever is affirmed or
understood as the condition, or concomitant, or consequence of the same.
This will be best explained by an instance or example. That I am
conscious of something within me peremptorily commanding me to do unto
others as I would they should do unto me;--in other words, a categorical
(that is, primary and unconditional) imperative;--that the maxim
('regula maxima' or supreme rule) of my actions, both inward and
outward, should be such as I could, without any contradiction arising
therefrom, will to be the law of all moral and rational beings;--this, I
say, is a fact of which I am no less conscious (though in a different
way), nor less assured, than I am of any appearance presented by my
outward senses. Nor is this all; but in the very act of being conscious
of this in my own nature, I know that it is a fact of which all men
either are or ought to be conscious;--a fact, the ignorance of which
constitutes either the non-personality of the ignorant, or the guilt, in
which latter case the ignorance is equivalent to knowledge wilfully
darkened. I know that I possess this consciousness as a man, and not as
Samuel Taylor Coleridge; hence knowing that consciousness of this fact
is the root of all other consciousness, and the only practical
contradistinction of man from the brutes, we name it the conscience; by
the natural absence or presumed presence of which, the law, both divine
and human, determines whether X Y Z be a thing or a person:--the
conscience being that which never to have had places the objects in the
same order of things as the brutes, for example, idiots; and to have
lost which implies either insanity or apostasy. Well--this we have
affirmed is a fact of which every honest man is as fully assured as of
his seeing, hearing or smelling. But though the former assurance does
not differ from the latter in the degree, it is altogether diverse in
the kind; the senses being morally passive, while the conscience is
essentially connected with the will, though not always, nor indeed in
any case, except after frequent attempts and aversions of will,
dependent on the choice. Thence we call the presentations of the senses
impressions, those of the conscience commands or dictates. In the senses
we find our receptivity, and as far as our personal being is concerned,
we are passive;--but in the fact of the conscience we are not only
agents, but it is by this alone, that we know ourselves to be such; nay,
that our very passiveness in this latter is an act of passiveness, and
that we are patient ('patientes')--not, as in the other case, 'simply'
passive. The result is, the consciousness of responsibility; and the
proof is afforded by the inward experience of the diversity between
regret and remorse.
If I have sound ears, and my companion speaks to me with a due
proportion of voice, I may persuade him that I did not hear, but cannot
deceive myself. But when my conscience speaks to me, I can, by repeated
efforts, render myself finally insensible; to which add this other
difference in the case of conscience, namely, that to make myself deaf
is one and the same thing with making my conscience dumb, till at length
I become unconscious of my conscience. Frequent are the instances in
which it is suspended, and as it were drowned, in the inundation of the
appetites, passions and imaginations, to which I have resigned myself,
making use of my will in order to abandon my free-will; and there are
not, I fear, examples wanting of the conscience being utterly destroyed,
or of the passage of wickedness into madness;--that species of madness,
namely, in which the reason is lost. For so long as the reason
continues, so long must the conscience exist either as a good
conscience, or as a bad conscience.
It appears then, that even the very first step, that the initiation of
the process, the becoming conscious of a conscience, partakes of the
nature of an act. It is an act, in and by which we take upon ourselves
an allegiance, and consequently the obligation of fealty; and this
fealty or fidelity implying the power of being unfaithful, it is the
first and fundamental sense of Faith. It is likewise the commencement of
experience, and the result of all other experience. In other words,
conscience, in this its simplest form, must be supposed in order to
consciousness, that is, to human consciousness. Brutes may be, and are
scions, but those beings only, who have an I, 'scire possunt hoc vel
illud una cum seipsis'; that is, 'conscire vel scire aliquid mecum', or
to know a thing in relation to myself, and in the act of knowing myself
as acted upon by that something.
Now the third person could never have been distinguished from the first
but by means of the second. There can be no He without a previous Thou.
Much less could an I exist for us, except as it exists during the
suspension of the will, as in dreams; and the nature of brutes may be
best understood, by conceiving them as somnambulists. This is a deep
meditation, though the position is capable of the strictest
proof,--namely, that there can be no I without a Thou, and that a Thou
is only possible by an equation in which I is taken as equal to Thou,
and yet not the same. And this again is only possible by putting them in
opposition as correspondent opposites, or correlatives. In order to
this, a something must be affirmed in the one, which is rejected in the
other, and this something is the will. I do not will to consider myself
as equal to myself, for in the very act of constituting myself 'I', I
take it as the same, and therefore as incapable of comparison, that is,
of any application of the will. If then, I 'minus' the will be the
'thesis';  Thou 'plus' will must be the 'antithesis', but the
equation of Thou with I, by means of a free act, negativing the sameness
in order to establish the equality, is the true definition of
conscience. But as without a Thou there can be no You, so without a You
no They, These or Those; and as all these conjointly form the materials
and subjects of consciousness, and the conditions of experience, it is
evident that the con-science is the root of all consciousness,--'a
fortiori', the precondition of all experience,--and that the conscience
cannot have been in its first revelation deduced from experience. Soon,
however, experience comes into play. We learn that there are other
impulses beside the dictates of conscience; that there are powers within
us and without us ready to usurp the throne of conscience, and busy in
tempting us to transfer our allegiance. We learn that there are many
things contrary to conscience, and therefore to be rejected, and utterly
excluded, and many that can coexist with its supremacy only by being
subjugated, as beasts of burthen; and others again, as, for instance,
the social tendernesses and affections, and the faculties and
excitations of the intellect, which must be at least subordinated. The
preservation of our loyalty and fealty under these trials and against
these rivals constitutes the second sense of Faith; and we shall need
but one more point of view to complete its full import. This is the
consideration of what is presupposed in the human conscience. The answer
is ready. As in the equation of the correlative I and Thou, one of the
twin constituents is to be taken as 'plus' will, the other as 'minus'
will, so is it here: and it is obvious that the reason or
'super'-individual of each man, whereby he is man, is the factor we are
to take as 'minus' will; and that the individual will or personalizing
principle of free agency (arbitrement is Milton's word) is the factor
marked 'plus' will;--and again, that as the identity or coinherence of
the absolute will and the reason, is the peculiar character of God; so
is the 'synthesis' of the individual will and the common reason, by the
subordination of the former to the latter, the only possible likeness or
image of the 'prothesis', or identity, and therefore the required proper
character of man. Conscience, then, is a witness respecting the identity
of the will and the reason effected by the self-subordination of the
will, or self, to the reason, as equal to, or representing, the will of
God. But the personal will is a factor in other moral 'syntheses'; for
example, appetite 'plus' personal will=sensuality; lust of power, 'plus'
personal will,=ambition, and so on, equally as in the 'synthesis', on
which the conscience is grounded. Not this therefore, but the other
'synthesis', must supply the specific character of the conscience; and
we must enter into an analysis of reason. Such as the nature and objects
of the reason are, such must be the functions and objects of the
conscience. And the former we shall best learn by recapitulating those
constituents of the total man which are either contrary to, or disparate
from, the reason.
I. Reason, and the proper objects of reason, are wholly alien from
sensation. Reason is supersensual, and its antagonist is
appetite, and the objects of appetite the lust of the flesh.
II. Reason and its objects do not appertain to the world of the
senses inward or outward; that is, they partake not of sense or
fancy. Reason is super-sensuous, and here its antagonist is the
lust of the eye.
III. Reason and its objects are not things of reflection, association,
discursion, discourse in the old sense of the word as opposed to
intuition; "discursive or intuitive," as Milton has it. Reason
does not indeed necessarily exclude the finite, either in time or
in space, but it includes them 'eminenter'. Thus the prime mover
of the material universe is affirmed to contain all motion as its
cause, but not to be, or to suffer, motion in itself.
Reason is not the faculty of the finite. But here I must premise the
following. The faculty of the finite is that which reduces the confused
impressions of sense to their essential forms,--quantity, quality,
relation, and in these action and reaction, cause and effect, and the
like; thus raises the materials furnished by the senses and sensations
into objects of reflection, and so makes experience possible. Without
it, man's representative powers would be a delirium, a chaos, a scudding
cloudage of shapes; and it is therefore most appropriately called the
understanding, or substantiative faculty. Our elder metaphysicians, down
to Hobbes inclusively, called this likewise discourse, 'discursus,
discursio,' from its mode of action as not staying at any one object,
but running as it were to and fro to abstract, generalize, and classify.
Now when this faculty is employed in the service of the pure reason, it
brings out the necessary and universal truths contained in the infinite
into distinct contemplation by the pure act of the sensuous imagination,
that is, in the production of the forms of space and time abstracted
from all corporeity, and likewise of the inherent forms of the
understanding itself abstractedly from the consideration of particulars,
as in the case of geometry, numeral mathematics, universal logic, and
pure metaphysics. The discursive faculty then becomes what our
Shakspeare with happy precision calls "discourse of reason."
We will now take up our reasoning again from the words "motion in
It is evident then, that the reason, as the irradiative power, and the
representative of the infinite, judges the understanding as the faculty
of the finite, and cannot without error be judged by it. When this is
attempted, or when the understanding in its 'synthesis' with the
personal will, usurps the supremacy of the reason, or affects to
supersede the reason, it is then what St. Paul calls the mind of the
flesh ([Greek: phronaema sarkos]) or the wisdom of this world. The
result is, that the reason is super-finite; and in this relation, its
antagonist is the insubordinate understanding, or mind of the flesh.
IV. Reason, as one with the absolute will, ('In the beginning was the
Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God',) and
therefore for man the certain representative of the will of God, is
above the will of man as an individual will. We have seen in III.
that it stands in antagonism to all mere particulars; but here it
stands in antagonism to all mere individual interests as so many
selves, to the personal will as seeking its objects in the
manifestation of itself for itself--'sit pro ratione
voluntas';--whether this be realized with adjuncts, as in the lust
of the flesh, and in the lust of the eye; or without adjuncts, as in
the thirst and pride of power, despotism, egoistic ambition. The
fourth antagonist, then, of reason is the lust of the will.
Corollary. Unlike a million of tigers, a million of men is very
different from a million times one man. Each man in a numerous society
is not only coexistent with, but virtually organized into, the multitude
of which he is an integral part. His 'idem' is modified by the 'alter'.
And there arise impulses and objects from this 'synthesis' of the 'alter
et idem', myself and my neighbour. This, again, is strictly analogous to
what takes place in the vital organization of the individual man. The
cerebral system of nerves has its correspondent 'antithesis' in the
abdominal system: but hence arises a 'synthesis' of the two in the
pectoral system as the intermediate, and, like a drawbridge, at once
conductor and boundary. In the latter as objectized by the former arise
the emotions, affections, and in one word, the passions, as
distinguished from the cognitions and appetites. Now the reason has been
shown to be super-individual, generally, and therefore not less so when
the form of an individualization subsists in the 'alter', than when it
is confined to the 'idem'; not less when the emotions have their
conscious or believed object in another, than when their subject is the
individual personal self. For though these emotions, affections,
attachments, and the like, are the prepared ladder by which the lower
nature is taken up into, and made to partake of, the highest room,--as
we are taught to give a feeling of reality to the higher 'per medium
commune' with the lower, and thus gradually to see the reality of the
higher (namely, the objects of reason) and finally to know that the
latter are indeed and pre-eminently real, as if you love your earthly
parents whom you see, by these means you will learn to love your
Heavenly Father who is invisible;--yet this holds good only so far as
the reason is the president, and its objects the ultimate aim; and cases
may arise in which the Christ as the Logos or Redemptive Reason
declares, 'He that loves father or mother more than me, is not worthy of
me'; nay, he that can permit his emotions to rise to an equality with
the universal reason, is in enmity with that reason. Here then reason
appears as the love of God; and its antagonist is the attachment to
individuals wherever it exists in diminution of, or in competition with,
the love which is reason.
In these five paragraphs I have enumerated and explained the several
powers or forces belonging or incidental to human nature, which in all
matters of reason the man is bound either to subjugate or subordinate to
reason. The application to Faith follows of its own accord. The first or
most indefinite sense of faith is fidelity: then fidelity under previous
contract or particular moral obligation. In this sense faith is fealty
to a rightful superior: faith is the duty of a faithful subject to a
rightful governor. Then it is allegiance in active service; fidelity to
the liege lord under circumstances, and amid the temptations, of
usurpation, rebellion, and intestine discord. Next we seek for that
rightful superior on our duties to whom all our duties to all other
superiors, on our faithfulness to whom all our bounden relations to all
other objects of fidelity, are founded. We must inquire after that duty
in which all others find their several degrees and dignities, and from
which they derive their obligative force. We are to find a superior,
whose rights, including our duties, are presented to the mind in the
very idea of that Supreme Being, whose sovereign prerogatives are
predicates implied in the subjects, as the essential properties of a
circle are co-assumed in the first assumption of a circle, consequently
underived, unconditional, and as rationally insusceptible, so probably
prohibitive, of all further question. In this sense then faith is
fidelity, fealty, allegiance of the moral nature to God, in opposition
to all usurpation, and in resistance to all temptation to the placing
any other claim above or equal with our fidelity to God.
The will of God is the last ground and final aim of all our duties, and
to that the whole man is to be harmonized by subordination, subjugation,
or suppression alike in commission and omission. But the will of God,
which is one with the supreme intelligence, is revealed to man through
the conscience. But the conscience, which consists in an inappellable
bearing-witness to the truth and reality of our reason, may legitimately
be construed with the term reason, so far as the conscience is
prescriptive; while as approving or condemning, it is the consciousness
of the subordination or insubordination, the harmony or discord, of the
personal will of man to and with the representative of the will of God.
This brings me to the last and fullest sense of Faith, that is, as the
obedience of the individual will to the reason, in the lust of the flesh
as opposed to the supersensual; in the lust of the eye as opposed to the
supersensuous; in the pride of the understanding as opposed to the
infinite, in the [Greek: phronaema sarkos] in contrariety to the
spiritual truth; in the lust of the personal will as opposed to the
absolute and universal; and in the love of the creature, as far as it is
opposed to the love which is one with the reason, namely, the love of
Thus then to conclude. Faith subsists in the 'synthesis' of the reason
and the individual will. By virtue of the latter therefore it must be an
energy, and inasmuch as it relates to the whole moral man, it must be
exerted in each and all of his constituents or incidents, faculties and
tendencies;--it must be a total, not a partial; a continuous, not a
desultory or occasional energy. And by virtue of the former, that is,
reason, faith must be a light, a form of knowing, a beholding of truth.
In the incomparable words of the Evangelist, therefore--'faith must be a
light originating in the Logos, or the substantial reason, which is
coeternal and one with the Holy Will, and which light is at the same
time the life of men'. Now as life is here the sum or collective of all
moral and spiritual acts, in suffering, doing, and being, so is faith
the source and the sum, the energy and the principle of the fidelity of
man to God, by the subordination of his human will, in all provinces of
his nature to his reason, as the sum of spiritual truth, representing
and manifesting the will Divine.
END OF VOL. IV. (The Final Volume in this series.)