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the faculty of choice, (‘Willkuehr’), and (distinct both from the moral will, and the choice), the sensation of volition which I have found reason to include under the head of single and double touch.

Thence I propose to make a new arrangement of madness, whether as defect, or as excess, of any of these senses or faculties; and thus by appropriate cases to shew the difference between;– 1. a man having lost his reason but not his senses or understanding–that is, when he sees things as other men see them,–adapts means to ends as other men would adapt them, and not seldom, with more sagacity,–but his final end is altogether irrational: 2. his having lost his wits, that is, his understanding or judicial power; but not his reason or the use of his senses,–(such was Don Quixote; and, therefore, we love and reverence him, while we despise Hudibras):
3. his being out of his senses, as in the case of a hypochondriac, to whom his limbs appear to be of glass, although all his conduct is both rational, or moral, and prudent:
4. Or the case may be a combination of all three, though I doubt the existence of such a case, or of any two of them: 5. And lastly, it may be merely such an excess of sensation, as overpowers and suspends all, which is frenzy or raving madness.

A diseased state of an organ of sense, or of the inner organs connected with it, will perpetually tamper with the understanding, and unless there be an energetic and watchful counter-action of the judgment (of which I have known more than one instance, in which the comparing and reflecting judgment has obstinately, though painfully, rejected the full testimony of the senses,) will finally overpower it. But when the organ is obliterated, or totally suspended, then the mind applies some other organ to a double use. Passing through Temple Sowerby, in Westmorland, some ten years back, I was shewn a man perfectly blind; and blind from his infancy. Fowell was his name. This man’s chief amusement was fishing on the wild and uneven banks of the River Eden, and up the different streams and tarns among the mountains. He had an intimate friend, likewise stone blind, a dexterous card player, who knows every gate and stile far and near throughout the country. These two often coursed together, and the people here, as every where, fond of the marvellous, affirm that they were the best beaters up of game in the whole country. The every way amiable and estimable John Gough of Kendal is not only an excellent mathematician, but an infallible botanist and zoologist. He has frequently at the first feel corrected the mistakes of the most experienced sportsman with regard to the birds or vermin which they had killed, when it chanced to be a variety or rare species so completely resembling the common one, that it required great steadiness of observation to detect the difference, even after it had been pointed out. As to plants and flowers, the rapidity of his touch appears fully equal to that of sight; and the accuracy greater. Good heavens! it needs only to look at him! Why his face sees all over! It is all one eye! I almost envied him; for the purity and excellence of his own nature, never broken in upon by those evil looks, (or features, which are looks become fixtures), with which low cunning, habitual cupidity, presumptuous sciolism, and heart-hardening vanity, coarsen the human face,–it is the mere stamp, the undisturbed ‘ectypon’ of his own soul! Add to this that he is a Quaker, with all the blest negatives, without any of the silly and factious positives, of that sect, which, with all its bogs and hollows, is still the prime sun-shine spot of Christendom in the eye of the true philosopher. When I was in Germany in the year 1798, I read at Hanover, and met with two respectable persons, one a clergyman, the other a physician, who confirmed to me, the account of the upper-stall master at Hanover, written by himself, and countersigned by all his medical attendants. As far as I recollect, he had fallen from his horse on his head, and in consequence of the blow lost both his sight and hearing for nearly three years, and continued for the greater part of this period in a state of nervous fever. His understanding, however, remained unimpaired and unaffected, and his entire consciousness, as to outward impressions, being confined to the sense of touch, he at length became capable of reading any book (if printed, as most German books are, on coarse paper) with his fingers, in much the same manner in which the ‘piano-forte’ is played, and latterly with an almost incredible rapidity. Likewise by placing his hand with the fingers all extended, at a small distance from the lips of any person that spoke slowly and distinctly to him, he learned to recognize each letter by its different effects on his nerves, and thus spelt the words as they were uttered. It was particularly noticed both by himself from his sensations, and by his medical attendants from observation, that the letter R, if pronounced full and strong, and recurring once or more in the same word, produced a small spasm, or twitch in his hand and fingers. At the end of three years he recovered both his health and senses, and with the necessity soon lost the power, which he had thus acquired.

[Footnote 1: See Church and State. Appendix, p. 231. Ed.]

[Footnote 2: This phrase, ‘a priori’, is, in common, most grossly misunderstood, and an absurdity burthened on it which it does not deserve. By knowledge ‘a priori’, we do not mean that we can know any thing previously to experience, which would be a contradiction in terms; but having once known it by occasion of experience (that is, something acting upon us from without) we then know, that it must have pre-existed, or the experience itself would have been impossible. By experience only I know, that I have eyes; but then my reason convinces me, that I must have had eyes in order to the experience.]


Often and often had I read Gay’s ‘Beggar’s Opera’, and always delighted with its poignant wit and original satire, and if not without noticing its immorality, yet without any offence from it. Some years ago, I for the first time saw it represented in one of the London theatres; and such were the horror and disgust with which it impressed me, so grossly did it outrage all the best feelings of my nature, that even the angelic voice, and perfect science of Mrs. Billington, lost half their charms, or rather increased my aversion to the piece by an additional sense of incongruity. Then I learned the immense difference between reading and seeing a play;–and no wonder, indeed; for who has not passed over with his eye a hundred passages without offence, which he yet could not have even read aloud, or have heard so read by another person, without an inward struggle?–In mere passive silent reading the thoughts remain mere thoughts, and these too not our own,–phantoms with no attribute of place, no sense of appropriation, that flit over the consciousness as shadows over the grass or young corn in an April day. But even the sound of our own or another’s voice takes them out of that lifeless, twilight, realm of thought, which is the confine, the ‘intermundium’, as it were, of existence and non-existence. Merely that the thoughts have become audible by blending with them a sense of outness gives them a sort of reality. What then,–when by every contrivance of scenery, appropriate dresses, according and auxiliary looks and gestures, and the variety of persons on the stage, realities are employed to carry the imitation of reality as near as possible to perfect delusion?

If a manly modesty shrinks from uttering an indecent phrase before a wife or sister in a private room, what must be the effect when a repetition of such treasons (for all gross and libidinous allusions are emphatically treasons against the very foundations of human society, against all its endearing charities, and all the mother virtues,) is hazarded before a mixed multitude in a public theatre? When every innocent woman must blush at once with pain at the thoughts she rejects, and with indignant shame at those, which the foul hearts of others may attribute to her!

Thus too with regard to the comedies of Wycherly, Vanburgh, and Etherege, I used to please myself with the flattering comparison of the manners universal at present among all classes above the lowest with those of our ancestors even of the highest ranks. But if for a moment I think of those comedies as having been acted, I lose all sense of comparison in the shame, that human nature could at any time have endured such outrages to its dignity; and if conjugal affection and the sweet name of sister were too weak, that yet filial piety, the gratitude for a mother’s holy love, should not have risen and hissed into infancy these traitors to their own natural gifts, who lampooned the noblest passions of humanity, in order to pander for its lowest appetites.

As far, however, as one bad thing can be palliated by comparison with a worse, this may be said, in extenuation of these writers; that the mischief, which they can do even on the stage, is trifling compared with that stile of writing which began in the pest-house of French literature, and has of late been imported by the ‘Littles’ of the age, which consists in a perpetual tampering with the morals without offending the decencies. And yet the admirers of these publications, nay, the authors themselves have the assurance to complain of Shakspeare (for I will not refer to one yet far deeper blasphemy)–Shakspeare, whose most objectionable passages are but grossnesses against lust, and these written in a gross age; while three fourths of their whole works are delicacies for its support and sustenance. Lastly, that I may leave the reader in better humour with the name at the head of this article, I shall quote one scene from Etherege’s ‘Love in a Tub’, which for exquisite, genuine, original humour, is worth all the rest of his plays, though two or three of his witty contemporaries were thrown in among them, as a make weight. The scene might be entitled, the different ways in which the very same story may be told without any variation in matter of fact; for the least attentive reader will perceive the perfect identity of the footboy’s account with the Frenchman’s own statement in contradiction to it.


[Scene–Sir Frederick’s Lodging.]

[Enter DUFOY and CLARK.]

I wonder Sir Frederick stays out so late.

Dis is noting; six, seven o’clock in the morning is ver good hour.

I hope he does not use these hours often.

Some six, seven time a veek; no oftiner.

My Lord commanded me to wait his coming.

Matre Clark, to divertise you, I vill tell you, how I did get be acquainted vid dis Bedlam Matre. About two, tree year ago me had for my convenience discharge myself from attending [Enter a footboy]
as Matre D’ostel to a person of condition in Parie; it hapen after de dispatch of my little affaire.

That is, after h’ad spent his money, Sir.

Jan foutrede lacque; me vil have vip and de belle vor your breeck, rogue.

Sir, in a word, he was a Jack-pudding to a mountebank, and turned off for want of wit: my master picked him up before a puppet-show, mumbling a half-penny custard, to send him with a letter to the post.

Morbleu, see, see de insolence of de foot boy English, bogre, rascale, you lie, begar I vill cutte your troate.


He’s a rogue; on with your story, Monsieur.

Matre Clark, I am your ver humble serviteur; but begar me have no patience to be abuse. As I did say, after de dispatche of my affaire, von day being idele, vich does produce the mellanchollique, I did valke over de new bridge in Parie, and to divertise de time, and my more serious toughte, me did look to see de marrionete, and de jack-pudding, vich did play hundred pretty tricke; time de collation vas come; and vor I had no company, I vas unvilling to go to de Cabarete, but did buy a darriole, littel custarde vich did satisfie my appetite ver vel: in dis time young Monsieur de Grandvil (a jentelman of ver great quality, van dat vas my ver good friende, and has done me ver great and insignal faveure) come by in his caroche vid dis Sir Frolick, who did pention at the same academy, to learn, de language, de bon mine, de great horse, and many oder tricke. Monsieur seeing me did make de bowe and did becken me to come to him: he did telle me dat de Englis jentelman had de lettre vor de poste, and did entreate me (if I had de opportunity) to see de lettre delivere: he did telle me too, it void be ver great obligation: de memory of de faveurs I had received from his famelye, beside de inclination I naturally have to serve de strangere, made me returne de complemen vid ver great civility, and so I did take de lettre and see it delivere. Sir Frollick perceiving (by de management of dis affairZ) dat I vas man d’esprit, and of vitte, did entreate me to be his serviteur; me did take d’affection to his persone, and was contente to live vid him, to counsel and advise him. You see now de lie of de bougre de lacque Englishe, morbleu.


When I was at Malta, 1805, there happened a drunken squabble on the road from Valette to St. Antonio, between a party of soldiers and another of sailors. They were brought before me the next morning, and the great effect which their intoxication had produced on their memory, and the little or no effect on their courage in giving evidence, may be seen by the following specimen. The soldiers swore that the sailors were the first aggressors, and had assaulted them with the following words: “—-your eyes! who stops the line of march there?” The sailors with equal vehemence and unanimity averred, that the soldiers were the first aggressors, and had burst in on them calling out–“Heave to, you lubbers! or we’ll run you down.”


An Emir had bought a left eye of a glass eye-maker, supposing that he would be able to see with it. The man begged him to give it a little time: he could not expect that it would see all at once as well as the right eye, which had been for so many years in the habit of it.


The Phoenix lives a thousand years, a secular bird of ages; and there is never more than one at a time in the world. Yet Plutarch very gravely informs us, that the brain of the Phoenix is a pleasant bit, but apt to occasion the head ache. By the by, there are few styles that are not fit for something. I have often wished to see Claudian’s splendid poem on the Phoenix translated into English verse in the elaborate rhyme and gorgeous diction of Darwin. Indeed Claudian throughout would bear translation better than any of the ancients.


Beasts and babies remember, that is, recognize: man alone recollects. This distinction was made by Aristotle.

‘Aliquid ex Nihilo.’

In answer to the ‘nihil e nihilo’ of the atheists, and their near relations, the ‘anima-mundi’ men, a humourist pointed to a white blank in a rude wood-cut, which very ingeniously served for the head of hair in one of the figures.


As an instance of compression and brevity in narration, unattainable in any language but the Greek, the following distich was quoted:

[Greek (transliterated): Chruson anaer euron, helipe brochon autar o chruson, hon lipen, ouk ehuron, haephen, hon ehure, brochon.]

This was denied by one of the company, who instantly rendered the lines in English, contending with reason that the indefinite article in English, together with the pronoun “his,” &c. should be considered as one word with the noun following, and more than counterbalanced by the greater number of syllables in the Greek words, the terminations of which are in truth only little words glued on to them. The English distich follows, and the reader will recollect that it is a mere trial of comparative brevity, wit and poetry quite out of the question:

Jack finding gold left a rope on the ground; Bill missing his gold used the rope, which he found.



The will to the deed,–the inward principle to the outward act,–is as the kernel to the shell; but yet, in the first place, the shell is necessary for the kernel, and that by which it is commonly known;–and, in the next place, as the shell comes first, and the kernel grows gradually and hardens within it, so is it with the moral principle in man. Legality precedes morality in every individual, even as the Jewish dispensation preceded the Christian in the education of the world at large.


When may the will be taken for the deed?–Then when the will is the obedience of the whole man;–when the will is in fact the deed, that is, all the deed in our power. In every other case, it is bending the bow without shooting the arrow. The bird of Paradise gleams on the lofty branch, and the man takes aim, and draws the tough yew into a crescent with might and main,–and lo! there is never an arrow on the string.


The first great requisite is absolute sincerity. Falsehood and disguise are miseries and misery-makers, under whatever strength of sympathy, or desire to prolong happy thoughts in others for their sake or your own only as sympathizing with theirs, it may originate. All sympathy, not consistent with acknowledged virtue, is but disguised selfishness.


The pre-eminence of truth over falsehood, even when occasioned by that truth, is as a gentle fountain breathing from forth its air-let into the snow piled over and around it, which it turns into its own substance, and flows with greater murmur; and though it be again arrested, still it is but for a time,–it awaits only the change of the wind to awake and roll onwards its ever increasing stream:–

I semplici pastori
Sul Vesolo nevoso,
Fatti curvi e canuti,
D’alto stupor son muti,
Mirando al fonte ombroso
Il Po con pochi umori;
Poscia udendo gl’ onori
Dell’urna angusta e stretta,
Che’l Adda, che’l Tesino
Soverchia il suo cammino,
Che ampio al mar s’affretta,
Che si spuma, e si suona,
Che gli si da corona!

(Chiabrera, Rime, xxviii.)

But falsehood is fire in stubble;–it likewise turns all the light stuff around it into its own substance for a moment, one crackling blazing moment,–and then dies; and all its converts are scattered in the wind, without place or evidence of their existence, as viewless as the wind which scatters them.


A man may look at glass, or through it, or both. Let all earthly things be unto thee as glass to see heaven through! Religious ceremonies should be pure glass, not dyed in the gorgeous crimsons and purple blues and greens of the drapery of saints and saintesses.


Many a star, which we behold as single, the astronomer resolves into two, each, perhaps, the centre of a separate system. Oft are the flowers of the bind-weed mistaken for the growth of the plant, which it chokes with its intertwine. And many are the unsuspected double stars, and frequent are the parasite weeds, which the philosopher detects in the received opinions of men:–so strong is the tendency of the imagination to identify what it has long consociated. Things that have habitually, though, perhaps, accidentally and arbitrarily, been thought of in connection with each other, we are prone to regard as inseparable. The fatal brand is cast into the fire, and therefore Meleager must consume in the flames. To these conjunctions of custom and association–(the associative power of the mind which holds the mid place between memory and sense,)–we may best apply Sir Thomas Brown’s remark, that many things coagulate on commixture, the separate natures of which promise no concretion.


The curiosity of an honourable mind willingly rests there, where the love of truth does not urge it farther onward, and the love of its neighbour bids it stop;–in other words, it willingly stops at the point, where the interests of truth do not beckon it onward, and charity cries, Halt!


To all new truths, or renovation of old truths, it must be as in the ark between the destroyed and the about-to-be renovated world. The raven must be sent out before the dove, and ominous controversy must precede peace and the olive-wreath.


Centries, or wooden frames, are put under the arches of a bridge, to remain no longer than till the latter are consolidated. Even so pleasures are the devil’s scaffolding to build a habit upon;–that formed and steady, the pleasures are sent for fire-wood, and the hell begins in this life.


Virtue makes us not worthy, but only worthier, of happiness. Existence itself gives a claim to joy. Virtue and happiness are incommensurate quantities. How much virtue must I have, before I have paid off the old debt of my happiness in infancy and childhood! O! We all outrun the constable with heaven’s justice! We have to earn the earth, before we can think of earning heaven.


We were indeed,–

[Greek (transliterated): panta konis, kai panta gel_os, kai panta to maeden]

if we did not feel that we were so.


There is in every human countenance either a history or a prophecy, which must sadden, or at least soften, every reflecting observer.


A lie accidentally useful to the cause of an oppressed truth: Thus was the tongue of a dog made medicinal to a feeble and sickly Lazarus.


In Roman Catholic states, where science has forced its way, and some light must follow, the devil himself cunningly sets up a shop for common sense at the sign of the Infidel.


“It is possible,” says Jeremy Taylor, “for a man to bring himself to believe any thing he hath a mind to.” But what is this belief?–Analyse it into its constituents;–is it more than certain passions or feelings converging into the sensation of positiveness as their focus, and then associated with certain sounds or images?–‘Nemo enim’, says Augustin, ‘huic evidentiae contradicet, nisi quem plus defensare delectat, quod sentit, quam, quid sentiendum sit, invenire.’


Lovely and pure–no bird of Paradise, to feed on dew and flower-fragrance, and never to alight on earth, till shot by death with pointless shaft; but a rose, to fix its roots in the genial earth, thence to suck up nutriment and bloom strong and healthy,–not to droop and fade amid sunshine and zephyrs on a soilless rock! Her marriage was no meagre prose comment on the glowing and gorgeous poetry of her wooing;–nor did the surly over-browing rock of reality ever cast the dusky shadow of this earth on the soft moonlight of her love’s first phantasies.


The torch of love may be blown out wholly, but not that of Hymen. Whom the flame and its cheering light and genial warmth no longer bless, him the smoke stifles; for the spark is inextinguishable, save by death:–

‘nigro circumvelatus amictu Maeret Hymen, fumantque atrae sine lumine taedae’.


Youth beholds happiness gleaming in the prospect. Age looks back on the happiness of youth; and instead of hopes, seeks its enjoyment in the recollections of hope.


The giant shadows sleeping amid the wan yellow light of the December morning, looked like wrecks and scattered ruins of the long, long night.


Next to the inspired Scriptures,–yea, and as the vibration of that once struck hour remaining on the air, stands Leighton’s Commentary on the first Epistle of Peter.


“O! that God,” says Carey in his Journal in Hindostan, “would make the Gospel successful among them! That would undoubtedly make them honest men, and I fear nothing else ever will.” Now this is a fact,–spite of infidels and psilosophizing Christians, a fact. A perfect explanation of it would require and would show the psychology of faith,–the difference between the whole soul’s modifying an action, and an action enforced by modifications of the soul amid prudential motives or favouring impulses. Let me here remind myself of the absolute necessity of having my whole faculties awake and imaginative, in order to illustrate this and similar truths;–otherwise my writings will be no other than pages of algebra.


What now thou do’st, or art about to do, Will help to give thee peace, or make thee rue; When hov’ring o’er the line this hand will tell The last dread moment–’twill be heaven or hell.

Read for the last two lines–

When wav’ring o’er the dot, this hand shall tell The moment that secures thee heaven or hell!


“Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord”. An awful text! Now because vengeance is most wisely and lovingly forbidden to us, hence we have by degrees, under false generalizations and puny sensibilities, taken up the notion that vengeance is no where. In short, the abuse of figurative interpretation is endless;–instead of being applied, as it ought to be, to those things which are the most comprehensible, that is, sensuous, and which therefore are the parts likely to be figurative, because such language is a condescension to our weakness,–it is applied to rot away the very pillars, yea, to fret away and dissolve the very corner stones of the temple of religion. O, holy Paul! O, beloved John! full of light and love, whose books are full of intuitions, as those of Paul are books of energies,–the one uttering to sympathizing angels what the other toils to convey to weak-sighted yet docile men:–O Luther! Calvin! Fox, with Penn and Barclay! O Zinzendorf! and ye too, whose outward garments only have been singed and dishonoured in the heathenish furnace of Roman apostacy, Francis of Sales, Fenelon;–yea, even Aquinas and Scotus!–With what astoundment would ye, if ye were alive with your merely human perfections, listen to the creed of our, so called, rational religionists! Rational!–They, who in the very outset deny all reason, and leave us nothing but degrees to distinguish us from brutes;–a greater degree of memory, dearly purchased by the greater solicitudes of fear which convert that memory into foresight. O! place before your eyes the island of Britain in the reign of Alfred, its unpierced woods, its wide morasses and dreary heaths, its blood-stained and desolated shores, its untaught and scanty population; behold the monarch listening now to Bede, and now to John Erigena; and then see the same realm, a mighty empire, full of motion, full of books, where the cotter’s son, twelve years old, has read more than archbishops of yore, and possesses the opportunity of reading more than our Alfred himself;–and then finally behold this mighty nation, its rulers and its wise men listening to—-Paley and to—-Malthus! It is mournful, mournful.


How strange and sad is the laxity with which men in these days suffer the most inconsistent opinions to lie jumbled lazily together in their minds,–holding the antimoralism of Paley and the hypophysics of Locke, and yet gravely, and with a mock faith, talking of God as a pure spirit, of passing out of time into eternity, of a peace which passes all understanding, of loving our neighbour as ourselves, and God above all, and so forth!–Blank contradictions!–What are these men’s minds but a huge lumber-room of ‘bully’, that is, of incompatible notions brought together by a feeling without a sense of connection?


Consider the state of a rich man perfectly ‘Adam Smithed’, yet with a naturally good heart;–then suppose him suddenly convinced, vitally convinced, of the truth of the blessed system of hope and confidence in reason and humanity! Contrast his new and old views and reflections, the feelings with which he would begin to receive his rents, and to contemplate his increase of power by wealth, the study to relieve the labour of man from all mere annoy and disgust, the preclusion in his own mind of all cooling down from the experience of individual ingratitude, and his conviction that the true cause of all his disappointments was, that his plans were too narrow, too short, too selfish!

‘Wenn das Elend viel ist auf der Erde, so beruhet der grund davon, nach Abzug des theils ertraglichen, theils verbesserlichen, theils eingebildeten Uebels der Naturwelt, ganz allein in den moralischen Handlungen der Menschen.’ [1]

O my God! What a great, inspiriting, heroic thought! Were only a hundred men to combine even my clearness of conviction of this, with a Clarkson and Bell’s perseverance, what might not be done! How awful a duty does not hope become! What a nurse, yea, mother of all other the fairest virtues! We despair of others’ goodness, and thence are ourselves bad. O! let me live to show the errors of the most of those who have hitherto attempted this work,–how they have too often put the intellectual and the moral, yea, the moral and the religious, faculties at strife with each other, and how they ought to act with an equal eye to all, to feel that all is involved in the perfection of each! This is the fundamental position.

[Footnote 1: Although the misery on the earth is great indeed, yet the foundation of it rests, after deduction of the partly bearable, partly removable, and partly imaginary, evil of the natural world, entirely and alone on the moral dealings of men. Ed.]


The unselfishness of self-love in the hopes and fears of religion consists;–first,–in the previous necessity of a moral energy, in order so far to subjugate the sensual, which is indeed and properly the selfish, part of our nature, as to believe in a state after death, on the grounds of the Christian religion:–secondly,–in the abstract and, as it were, unindividual nature of the idea, self, or soul, when conceived apart from our present living body and the world of the senses. In my religious meditations of hope and fear, the reflection that this course of action will purchase heaven for me, for my soul, involves a thought of and for all men who pursue the same course. In worldly blessings, such as those promised in the Old Law, each man might make up to himself his own favourite scheme of happiness. “I will be strictly just, and observe all the laws and ceremonies of my religion, that God may grant me such a woman for my wife, or wealth and honour, with which I will purchase such and such an estate,” &c. But the reward of heaven admits no day-dreams; its hopes and its fears are too vast to endure an outline. “I will endeavour to abstain from vice, and force myself to do such and such acts of duty, in order that I may make myself capable of that freedom of moral being, without which heaven would be no heaven to me.” Now this very thought tends to annihilate self. For what is a self not distinguished from any other self, but like an individual circle in geometry, uncoloured, and the representative of all other circles. The circle is differenced, indeed, from a triangle or square; so is a virtuous soul from a vicious soul, a soul in bliss from a soul in misery, but no wise distinguished from other souls under the same predicament. That selfishness which includes, of necessity, the selves of all my fellow-creatures, is assuredly a social and generous principle. I speak, as before observed, of the objective or reflex self;–for as to the subjective self, it is merely synonymous with consciousness, and obtains equally whether I think of me or of him;–in both cases it is I thinking.

Still, however, I freely admit that there neither is, nor can be, any such self-oblivion in these hopes and fears when practically reflected on, as often takes place in love and acts of loving kindness, and the habit of which constitutes a sweet and loving nature. And this leads me to the third, and most important reflection, namely, that the soul’s infinite capacity of pain and of joy, through an infinite duration, does really, on the most high-flying notions of love and justice, make my own soul and the most anxious care for the character of its future fate, an object of emphatic duty. What can be the object of human virtue but the happiness of sentient, still more of moral, beings? But an infinite duration of faculties, infinite in progression, even of one soul, is so vast, so boundless an idea, that we are unable to distinguish it from the idea of the whole race of mankind. If to seek the temporal welfare of all mankind be disinterested virtue, much more must the eternal welfare of my own soul be so;–for the temporal welfare of all mankind is included within a finite space and finite number, and my imagination makes it easy by sympathies and visions of outward resemblance; but myself in eternity, as the object of my contemplation, differs unimaginably from my present self. Do but try to think of yourself in eternal misery!–you will find that you are stricken with horror for it, even as for a third person; conceive it in hazard thereof, and you will feel commiseration for it, and pray for it with an anguish of sympathy very different from the outcry of an immediate self-suffering.

Blessed be God! that which makes us capable of vicious self-interestedness, capacitates us also for disinterestedness. That I am capable of preferring a smaller advantage of my own to a far greater good of another man,–this, the power of comparing the notions of “him and me” objectively, enables me likewise to prefer–at least furnishes the condition of my preferring–a greater good of another to a lesser good of my own;–nay, a pleasure of his, or external advantage, to an equal one of my own. And thus too, that I am capable of loving my neighbour as myself, empowers me to love myself as my neighbour,–not only as much, but in the same way and with the very same feeling.

This is the great privilege of pure religion. By diverting self-love to our self under those relations, in which alone it is worthy of our anxiety, it annihilates self, as a notion of diversity. Extremes meet. These reflections supply a forcible, and, I believe, quite new argument against the purgatory, both of the Romanists, and of the modern Millennarians, and final Salvationists. Their motives do, indeed, destroy the essence of virtue.

The doctors of self-love are misled by a wrong use of the words,–“We love ourselves!” Now this is impossible for a finite and created being in the absolute meaning of self; and in its secondary and figurative meaning, self signifies only a less degree of distance, a narrowness of moral view, and a determination of value by measurement. Hence the body is in this sense our self, because the sensations have been habitually appropriated to it in too great a proportion; but this is not a necessity of our nature. There is a state possible even in this life, in which we may truly say, “My self loves,”–freely constituting its secondary or objective love in what it wills to love, commands what it wills, and wills what it commands. The difference between self-love, and self that loves, consists in the objects of the former as given to it according to the law of the senses, while the latter determines the objects according to the law in the spirit. The first loves because it must; the second, because it ought; and the result of the first is not in any objective, imaginable, comprehensible, action, but in that action by which it abandoned its power of true agency, and willed its own fall. This is, indeed, a mystery. How can it be otherwise?–For if the will be unconditional, it must be inexplicable, the understanding of a thing being an insight into its conditions and causes. But whatever is in the will is the will, and must therefore be equally inexplicable.

In a word, the difference of an unselfish from a selfish love, even in this life, consists in this, that the latter depends on our transferring our present passion or appetite, or rather on our dilating and stretching it out in imagination, as the covetous man does;–while in the former we carry ourselves forward under a very different state from the present, as the young man, who restrains his appetites in respect of his future self as a tranquil and healthy old man. This last requires as great an effort of disinterestedness as, if not a greater than, to give up a present enjoyment to another person who is present to us. The alienation from distance in time and from diversity of circumstance, is greater in the one case than in the other. And let it be remembered, that a Christian may exert all the virtues and virtuous charities of humanity in any state; yea, in the pangs of a wounded conscience, he may feel for the future periods of his own lost spirit, just as Adam for all his posterity.

O magical, sympathetic, ‘anima! principium hylarchicum! rationes spermaticae!’ [Greek: logoi poiaetikoi!] O formidable words! And O man! thou marvellous beast-angel! thou ambitious beggar! How pompously dost thou trick out thy very ignorance with such glorious disguises, that thou mayest seem to hide it in order only to worship it!


A man may be, perhaps, exclusively a poet, a poet most exquisite in his kind, though the kind must needs be of inferior worth; I say, may be; for I cannot recollect any one instance in which I have a right to suppose it. But, surely, to have an exclusive pleasure in poetry, not being yourself a poet;–to turn away from all effort, and to dwell wholly on the images of another’s vision,–is an unworthy and effeminate thing. A jeweller may devote his whole time to jewels unblamed; but the mere amateur, who grounds his taste on no chemical or geological idea, cannot claim the same exemption from despect. How shall he fully enjoy Wordsworth, who has never meditated on the truths which Wordsworth has wedded to immortal verse?


It is well ordered by nature, that the amiable and estimable have a fainter perception of their own qualities than their friends have;–otherwise they would love themselves. And though they may fear flattery, yet if not justified in suspecting intentional deceit, they cannot but love and esteem those who love and esteem them, only as lovely and estimable, and give them proof of their having done well, where they have meant to do well.


“All reasoners ought to be perfectly dispassionate, and ready to allow all the force of the arguments, they are to confute. But more especially those, who are to argue in behalf of Christianity, ought carefully to preserve the spirit of it in their manner of expressing themselves. I have so much honour for the Christian clergy, that I had much rather hear them railed at, than hear them rail; and I must say, that I am often grievously offended with the generality of them for their method of treating all who differ from them in opinion.”


Besides, what is the use of violence? None. What is the harm? Great, very great;–chiefly, in the confirmation of error, to which nothing so much tends, as to find your opinions attacked with weak arguments and unworthy feelings. A generous mind becomes more attached to principles so treated, even as it would to an old friend, after he had been grossly calumniated. We are eager to make compensation.


The smooth words used by all factions, and their wide influence, may be exemplified in all the extreme systems, as for instance in the patriarchal government of Filmer. Take it in one relation, and it imports love, tender anxiety, longer experience, and superior wisdom, bordering on revelation, especially to Jews and Christians, who are in the life-long habit of attaching to patriarchs an intimacy with the Supreme Being. Take it on the other side, and it imports, that a whole people are to be treated and governed as children by a man not so old as very many, not older than very many, and in all probability not wiser than the many, and by his very situation precluded from the same experience.


The most hateful form of self-conceit is the callous form, when it boasts and swells up on the score of its own ignorance, as implying exemption from a folly. “We profess not to understand;”–“We are so unhappy as to be quite in the dark as to the meaning of this writer;”–“All this may be very fine, but we are not ashamed to confess that to us it is quite unintelligible:”–then quote a passage without the context, and appeal to the PUBLIC, whether they understand it or not!–Wretches! Such books were not written for your public. If it be a work on inward religion, appeal to the inwardly religious, and ask them!–If it be of true love and its anguish and its yearnings, appeal to the true lover! What have the public to do with this?


He was like a cork, flexible, floating, full of pores and openings, and yet he could neither return nor transmit the waters of Helicon, much less the light of Apollo. The poet, by his side, was like a diamond, transmitting to all around, yet retaining for himself alone, the rays of the god of day.


An upright shoe may fit both feet; but never saw I a glove that would fit both hands. It is a man for a mean or mechanic office, that can be employed equally well under either of two opposite parties.


Death but supplies the oil for the inextinguishable lamp of life.


Love, however sudden, as when we fall in love at first sight, (which is, perhaps, always the case of love in its highest sense,) is yet an act of the will, and that too one of its primary, and therefore ineffable acts. This is most important; for if it be not true, either love itself is all a romantic ‘hum’, a mere connection of desire with a form appropriated to excite and gratify it, or the mere repetition of a daydream;–or if it be granted that love has a real, distinct, and excellent being, I know not how we could attach blame and immorality to inconstancy, when confined to the affections and a sense of preference. Either, therefore, we must brutalize our notions with Pope:–

Lust, thro’ some certain strainers well refin’d, Is gentle love and charms all woman-kind:

or we must dissolve and thaw away all bonds of morality by the irresistible shocks of an irresistible sensibility with Sterne.


The well-spring of all sensible communion is the natural delight and need, which undepraved man hath to transfuse from himself into others, and to receive from others into himself, those things, wherein the excellency of his kind doth most consist; and the eminence of love or marriage communion is, that this mutual transfusion can take place more perfectly and totally in this, than in any other mode.

Prefer person before money, good-temper with good sense before person; and let all, wealth, easy temper, strong understanding and beauty, be as nothing to thee, unless accompanied by virtue in principle and in habit.

Suppose competence, health, and honesty; then a happy marriage depends on four things:–1. An understanding proportionate to thine, that is, a recipiency at least of thine:–2. natural sensibility and lively sympathy in general:–3. steadiness in attaching and retaining sensibility to its proper objects in its proper proportions:–4. mutual liking; including person and all the thousand obscure sympathies that determine conjugal liking, that is, love and desire to A. rather than to B. This seems very obvious and almost trivial: and yet all unhappy marriages arise from the not honestly putting, and sincerely answering each of these four questions: any one of them negatived, marriage is imperfect, and in hazard of discontent.


In the most similar and nearest points there is a difference, but for the most part there is an absolute contrast, between Hobbes and Spinosa. Thus Hobbes makes a state of war the natural state of man from the essential and ever continuing nature of man, as not a moral, but only a frightenable, being:–Spinosa makes the same state a necessity of man out of society, because he must then be an undeveloped man, and his moral being dormant; and so on through the whole.


Whatever act is necessary to an end, and ascertained to be necessary and proportionate both to the end and the agent, takes its nature from that end. This premised, the proposition is innocent that ends may justify means. Remember, however, the important distinction:–‘Unius facti diversi fines esse possunt: unius actionis non possunt’.

I have somewhere read this remark:–‘Omne meritum est voluntarium, aut voluntate originis, aut origine voluntatis’. Quaintly as this is expressed, it is well worth consideration, and gives the true meaning of Baxter’s famous saying,–“Hell is paved with good intentions.”


On this calm morning of the 13th of November, 1809, it occurs to me, that it is by a negation and voluntary act of no thinking that we think of earth, air, water, &c. as dead. It is necessary for our limited powers of consciousness, that we should be brought to this negative state, and that this state should pass into custom; but it is likewise necessary that at times we should awake and step forward; and this is effected by those extenders of our consciousness–sorrow, sickness, poetry, and religion. The truth is, we stop in the sense of life just when we are not forced to go on, and then adopt a permission of our feelings for a precept of our reason.


Heaven bestows light and influence on this lower world, which reflects the blessed rays, though it cannot recompense them. So man may make a return to God, but no requital.


Fair criticism on young prodigies and Rosciuses in verse, or on the stage, is arraigned,–

as the envious sneaping frost That bites the first-born infants of the spring.

If there were no better answer, the following a good heart would scarcely admit;–but where nine-tenths of the applause have been mere wonderment and miracle-lust (‘Wundursucht’) these verses are an excellent accompaniment to other arguments:–

Well, say it be!–Yet why of summer boast, Before the birds have natural cause to sing? Why should we joy in an abortive birth? At Christmas I no more desire a rose,
Than wish a snow in May’s new budding shows; But like of each thing that in reason grows.

‘Love’s Labours Lost’. [1]

[Footnote 1: Slightly altered. Ed.]


The small number of surnames, and those Christian names and patronymics, not derived from trades, &c. is one mark of a country either not yet, or only recently, unfeudalized. Hence in Scotland the Mackintoshes, Macaulays, and so on. But the most remarkable show of this I ever saw, is the list of subscribers to Owen’s Welch Dictionary. In letter D. there are 31 names, 21 of which are ‘Davis’ or ‘Davies’, and the other three are not Welchmen. In E. there are 30; 16 ‘Evans’; 6 ‘Edwards’; 1 ‘Edmonds’; I ‘Egan’, and the remainder ‘Ellis’. In G. two-thirds are ‘Griffiths’. In H. all are ‘Hughes’ and ‘Howell’. In I. there are 66; all ‘Jonesses’. In L. 3 or 4 ‘Lewises’; 1 ‘Lewellyn’; all the rest ‘Lloyds’. M. four-fifths ‘Morgans’. O. entirely ‘Owen’. R. all ‘Roberts’ or ‘Richards’. T. all ‘Thomases’. V. all ‘Vaughans’;–and W. 64 names, 56 of them ‘Williams’.


The real value of melody in a language is considerable as subadditive; but when not jutting out into consciousness under the friction of comparison, the absence or inferiority of it is, as privative of pleasure, of little consequence. For example, when I read Voss’s translation of the Georgics, I am, as it were, reading the original poem, until something particularly well expressed occasions me to revert to the Latin; and then I find the superiority, or at least the powers, of the German in all other respects, but am made feelingly alive, at the same time, to its unsmooth mixture of the vocal and the organic, the fluid and the substance, of language. The fluid seems to have been poured in on the corpuscles all at once, and the whole has, therefore, curdled, and collected itself into a lumpy soup full of knots of curds inisled by interjacent whey at irregular distances, and the curd lumpets of various sizes.

It is always a question how far the apparent defects of a language arise from itself or from the false taste of the nation speaking it. Is the practical inferiority of the English to the Italian in the power of passing from grave to light subjects, in the manner of Ariosto, the fault of the language itself? Wieland in his Oberon, broke successfully through equal difficulties. It is grievous to think how much less careful the English have been to preserve than to acquire. Why have we lost, or all but lost, the ‘ver’ or ‘for’ as a prefix,–‘fordone’, ‘forwearied’, &c.; and the ‘zer’ or ‘to’,-‘zerreissen’, to rend, &c. ‘Jugend’, ‘Juengling’: ‘youth’, ‘youngling’; why is that last word now lost to common use, and confined to sheep and other animals?

[Greek: En to phronein maedhen aedistos bios.] Soph.

His life was playful from infancy to death, like the snow which in a calm day falls, but scarce seems to fall, and plays and dances in and out till the very moment that it gently reaches the earth.


It surely is not impossible that to some infinitely superior being the whole universe may be as one plain, the distance between planet and planet being only as the pores in a grain of sand, and the spaces between system and system no greater than the intervals between one grain and the grain adjacent.


‘Harberous’, that is, harbourous, is the old version of St. Paul’s ‘philoxenos’, and a beautiful word it is. ‘Kosmis’ should be rendered a gentleman in dress and address, in appearance and demeanour, a man of the world in an innocent sense. The Latin ‘mundus’ has the same double force in it; only that to the rude early Romans, to have a clean pair of hands and a clean dress, was to be drest; just as we say to boys, “Put on your clean clothes!”

The different meanings attached to the same word or phrase in different sentences, will, of course, be accompanied with a different feeling in the mind; this will affect the pronunciation, and hence arises a new word. We should vainly try to produce the same feeling in our minds by ‘and he’ as by ‘who’; for the different use of the latter, and its feeling having now coalesced. Yet ‘who’ is properly the same word and pronunciation, as ‘ho’ with the digammate prefix, and as ‘qui’ kai ho.


There are two sides to every question. If thou hast genius and poverty to thy lot, dwell on the foolish, perplexing, imprudent, dangerous, and even immoral, conduct of promise-breach in small things, of want of punctuality, of procrastination in all its shapes and disguises. Force men to reverence the dignity of thy moral strength in and for itself,–seeking no excuses or palliations from fortune, or sickness, or a too full mind that, in opulence of conception, overrated its powers of application. But if thy fate should be different, shouldest thou possess competence, health and ease of mind, and then be thyself called upon to judge such faults in another so gifted,–O! then, upon the other view of the question, say, Am I in ease and comfort, and dare I wonder that he, poor fellow, acted so and so? Dare I accuse him? Ought I not to shadow forth to myself that, glad and luxuriating in a short escape from anxiety, his mind over-promised for itself; that, want combating with his eager desire to produce things worthy of fame, he dreamed of the nobler, when he should have been producing the meaner, and so had the meaner obtruded on his moral being, when the nobler was making full way on his intellectual? Think of the manifoldness of his accumulated petty calls! Think, in short, on all that should be like a voice from heaven to warn thyself against this and this, and call it all up for pity and for palliation; and then draw the balance. Take him in his whole,–his head, his heart, his wishes, his innocence of all selfish crime, and a hundred years hence, what will be the result? The good,–were it but a single volume that made truth more visible, and goodness more lovely, and pleasure at once more akin to virtue and, self-doubled, more pleasurable! and the evil,–while he lived, it injured none but himself; and where is it now? in his grave. Follow it not thither.


The mighty kingdoms angelical, like the thin clouds at dawn, receiving and hailing the first radiance, and singing and sounding forth their blessedness, increase the rising joy in the heart of God, spread wide and utter forth the joy arisen, and in innumerable finite glories interpret all they can of infinite bliss.


A phaenomenon in no connection with any other phaenomenon, as its immediate cause, is a miracle; and what is believed to have been such, is miraculous for the person so believing When it is strange and surprising, that is, with out any analogy in our former experience–it is called a miracle. The kind defines the thing:–the circumstances the word.

To stretch out my arm is a miracle, unless the materialists should be more cunning than they have proved themselves hitherto. To reanimate a dead man by an act of the will, no intermediate agency employed, not only is, but is called, a miracle. A scripture miracle, therefore, must be so defined, as to express, not only its miracular essence, but likewise the condition of its appearing miraculous; add therefore to the preceding, the words ‘praeter omnem prior em experientiam’.

It might be defined likewise an effect, not having its cause in any thing congenerous. That thought calls up thought is no more miraculous than that a billiard ball moves a billiard ball; but that a billiard ball should excite a thought, that is, be perceived, is a miracle, and, were it strange, would be called such. For take the converse, that a thought should call up a billiard ball! Yet where is the difference, but that the one is a common experience, the other never yet experienced?

It is not strictly accurate to affirm, that every thing would appear a miracle, if we were wholly uninfluenced by custom, and saw things as they are:–for then the very ground of all miracles would probably vanish, namely, the heterogeneity of spirit and matter. For the ‘quid ulterius?’ of wonder, we should have the ‘ne plus ultra’ of adoration.

Again–the word miracle has an objective, a subjective, and a popular meaning;–as objective,–the essence of a miracle consists in the heterogeneity of the consequent and its causative antecedent;–as subjective,–in the assumption of the heterogeneity. Add the wonder and surprise excited, when the consequent is out of the course of experience, and we know the popular sense and ordinary use of the word.


It is an important thought, that death, judged of by corporeal analogies, certainly implies discerption or dissolution of parts; but pain and pleasure do not; nay, they seem inconceivable except under the idea of concentration. Therefore the influence of the body on the soul will not prove the common destiny of both. I feel myself not the slave of nature (nature used here as the ‘mundus sensibilis’) in the sense in which animals are. Not only my thoughts and affections extend to objects trans-natural, as truth, virtue, God; not only do my powers extend vastly beyond all those, which I could have derived from the instruments and organs, with which nature has furnished me; but I can do what nature ‘per se’ cannot. I ingraft, I raise heavy bodies above the clouds, and guide my course over ocean and through air. I alone am lord of fire and light; other creatures are but their alms-folk, and of all the so called elements, water, earth, air, and all their compounds (to speak in the ever-enduring language of the senses, to which nothing can be revealed, but as compact, or fluid, or aerial), I not merely subserve myself of them, but I employ them. ‘Ergo’, there is in me, or rather I am, a praeter-natural, that is, a super-sensuous thing: but what is not nature, why should it perish with nature? why lose the faculty of vision, because my spectacles are broken?

Now to this it will be objected, and very forcibly too;–that the soul or self is acted upon by nature through the body, and water or caloric, diffused through or collected in the brain, will derange the faculties of the soul by deranging the organization of the brain; the sword cannot touch the soul; but by rending the flesh, it will rend the feelings. Therefore the violence of nature may, in destroying the body, mediately destroy the soul! It is to this objection that my first sentence applies; and is an important, and, I believe, a new and the only satisfactory reply I have ever heard.

The one great and binding ground of the belief of God and a hereafter, is the law of conscience: but as the aptitudes, and beauty, and grandeur, of the world, are a sweet and beneficent inducement to this belief, a constant fuel to our faith, so here we seek these arguments, not as dissatisfied with the one main ground, not as of ‘little faith’, but because, believing it to be, it is natural we should expect to find traces of it, and as a noble way of employing and developing, and enlarging the faculties of the soul, and this, not by way of motive, but of assimilation, producing virtue.

2d April, 1811.


It is the mark of a noble nature to be more shocked with the unjust condemnation of a bad man than of a virtuous one; as in the instance of Strafford. For in such cases the love of justice, and the hatred of the contrary, are felt more nakedly, and constitute a strong passion ‘per se’, not only unaided by, but in conquest of, the softer self-repaying sympathies. A wise foresight too inspires jealousy, that so may principles be most easily overthrown. This is the virtue of a wise man, which a mob never possesses, even as a mob never, perhaps, has the malignant ‘finis ultimus’, which is the vice of a man.


Amongst the great truths are these:–

I. That religion has no speculative dogmas; that all is practical, all appealing to the will, and therefore all imperative. ‘I am the Lord thy God: Thou shall have none other gods but me.’

II. That, therefore, miracles are not the proofs, but the necessary results, of revelation. They are not the key of the arch and roof of evidence, though they may be a compacting stone in it, which gives while it receives strength. Hence, to make the intellectual faith a fair analogon or unison of the vital faith, it ought to be stamped in the mind by all the evidences duly co-ordinated, and not designed by single pen-strokes, beginning either here or there.

III. That, according to No. I., Christ is not described primarily and characteristically as a teacher, but as a doer; a light indeed, but an effective light, the sun which causes what it shows, as well as shows what it first causes.

IV. That a certain degree of morality is presupposed in the reception of Christianity; it is the ‘substratum’ of the moral interest which substantiates the evidence of miracles. The instance of a profligate suddenly converted, if properly sifted, will be found but an apparent exception.

V. That the being of a God, and the immortality of man, are every where assumed by Christ.

VI. That Socinianism is not a religion, but a theory, and that, too, a very pernicious, or a very unsatisfactory, theory. Pernicious,–for it excludes all our deep and awful ideas of the perfect holiness of God, his justice and his mercy, and thereby makes the voice of conscience a delusion, as having no correspondent in the character of the legislator; regarding God as merely a good-natured pleasure-giver, so happiness be produced, indifferent as to the means:–Unsatisfactory, for it promises forgiveness without any solution of the difficulty of the compatibility of this with the justice of God; in no way explains the fallen condition of man, nor offers any means for his regeneration. “If you will be good, you will be happy,” it says: that may be, but my will is weak; I sink in the struggle.

VII. That Socinianism never did and never can subsist as a general religion. For
1. It neither states the disease, on account of which the human being hungers for revelation, nor prepares any remedy in general, nor ministers any hope to the individual.
2. In order to make itself endurable on scriptural grounds, it must so weaken the texts and authority of scripture, as to leave in scripture no binding ground of proof of any thing. 3. Take a pious Jew, one of the Maccabees, and compare his faith and its grounds with Priestley’s; and then, for what did Christ come?

VIII. That Socinianism involves the shocking thought that man will not, and ought not to be expected to, do his duty as man, unless he first makes a bargain with his Maker, and his Maker with him. Give me, the individual me, a positive proof that I shall be in a state of pleasure after my death, if I do so and so, and then I will do it, not else! And the proof asked is not one dependent on, or flowing from, his moral nature and moral feelings, but wholly ‘extra’-moral, namely, by his outward senses, the subjugation of which to faith, that is, the passive to the actional and self-created belief, is the great object of all religion!

IX. That Socinianism involves the dreadful reflection, that it can establish its probability (its certainty being wholly out of the question and impossible, Priestley himself declaring that his own continuance as a Christian depended on a contingency,) only on the destruction of all the arguments furnished for our permanent and essential distinction from brutes; that it must prove that we have no grounds to obey, but, on the contrary, that in wisdom we ought to reject and declare utterly null, all the commands of conscience, and all that is implied in those commands, reckless of the confusion introduced into our notions of means and ends by the denial of truth, goodness, justice, mercy, and the other fundamental ideas in the idea of God; and all this in order to conduct us to a Mahomet’s bridge of a knife’s edge, or the breadth of a spear, to salvation. And, should we discover any new documents, or should an acuter logician make plain the sophistry of the deductions drawn from the present documents (and surely a man who has passed from orthodoxy to the loosest Arminianism, and thence to Arianism, and thence to direct Humanism, has no right from his experience to deny the probability of this)–then to fall off into the hopeless abyss of atheism. For the present life, we know, is governed by fixed laws, which the atheist acknowledges as well as the theist; and if there be no spiritual world, and no spiritual life in a spiritual world, what possible bearing can the admission or rejection of this hypothesis have on our practice or feelings?

Lastly, the Mosaic dispensation was a scheme of national education; the Christian is a world-religion; and the former was susceptible of evidence and probabilities which do not, and cannot, apply to the latter. A savage people forced, as it were, into a school of circumstances, and gradually in the course of generations taught the unity of God, first and for centuries merely as a practical abstinence from the worship of any other,–how can the principles of such a system apply to Christianity, which goes into all nations and to all men, the most enlightened, even by preference?

Writing several years later than the date of the preceding paragraphs, I commend the modern Unitarians for their candour in giving up the possible worshipability of Christ, if not very God,–a proof that truth will ultimately prevail. The Arians, then existing, against whom Waterland wrote, were not converted; but in the next generation the arguments made their way. This is fame ‘versus’ reputation.


Is it not probable from what is found in the writings of Cyril, Eusebius, Cyprian, Marcellus of Ancyra and others, that our present Apostles’ Creed is not the very ‘Symbolum Fidei’, which was not to be written, but was always repeated at baptism? For this latter certainly contained the doctrine of the eternal generation of the Logos; and, therefore, it seems likely that the present Apostles’ creed was an introductory, and, as it were, alphabetical, creed for young catechumens in their first elementation. Is it to be believed that the ‘Symbolum Fidei’ contained nothing but the mere history of Jesus, without any of the peculiar doctrines, or that, if it did not contain something more, the great and vehement defenders of the Trinity would speak of it so magnificently as they do, even preferring its authority to that of the scriptures?–Besides, does not Austin positively say that our present Apostles’ creed was gathered out of the scriptures? Whereas the ‘Symbolum Fidei’ was elder than the Gospels, and probably contained only the three doctrines of the Trinity, the Redemption, and the Unity of the Church. May it not have happened, when baptism was administered so early, and at last even to infants, that the old ‘Symbolum Fidei’ became gradually ‘inusitatum’, as being appropriated to adult proselytes from Judaism or Paganism? This seems to me even more than probable; for in proportion to the majority of born over converted Christians must the creed of instruction have been more frequent than that of doctrinal profession.


There is in Abbt’s Essays an attempt to determine the true sense of this phrase, at least to unfold (‘auseinandersetzen’) what is meant and felt by it. I was much pleased with the remarks, I remember, and with the counterposition of Tom Jones and Sir Charles Grandisori. Might not Luther and Calvin serve? But it is made less noticeable in these last by its co-existence with, and sometimes real, more often apparent, subordination to fixed conscious principles, and is thus less naturally characteristic. Parson Adams contrasted with Dr. Harrison in Fielding’s Amelia would do. Then there is the suppression of the good heart and the substitution of principles or motives for the good heart, as in Laud, and the whole race of conscientious persecutors. Such principles constitute the virtues of the Inquisition. A good heart contrasts with the Pharisaic righteousness. This last contemplation of the Pharisees, the dogmatists, and the rigorists ‘in toto genere’, serves to reconcile me to the fewness of the men who act on fixed principles. For unless there exist intellectual power to determine aright what are the ‘principia jam fixa et formata’, and unless there be the wisdom of love preceding the love of wisdom, and unless to this be added a graciousness of nature, a loving kindness,–these rigorists are but bigots often to errors, and active, yea, remorseless in preventing or staying the rise and progress of truth. And even when bigotted adherents to true principles, yet they render truth unamiable, and forbid little children to come thereunto. As human nature now is, it is well, perhaps, that the number should be few, seeing that of the few, the greater part are pre-maturities.

The number of those who act from good hearted impulses, a kindly and cheerful mood, and the play of minute sympathies, continuous in their discontinuity, like the sand-thread of the hour-glass, and from their minuteness and transiency not calculated to stiffen or inflate the individual, and thus remaining unendangered by egotism, and its unhandsome vizard contempt, is far larger: and though these temperamental ‘pro’-virtues will too often fail, and are not built to stand the storms of strong temptation; yet on the whole they carry on the benignant scheme of social nature, like the other instincts that rule the animal creation. But of all the most numerous are the men, who have ever more their own dearliest beloved self, as the only or main goal or butt of their endeavours straight and steady before their eyes, and whose whole inner world turns on the great axis of self-interest. These form the majority, if not of mankind, yet of those by whom the business of life is carried on; and most expedient it is, that so it should be; nor can we imagine any thing better contrived for the advantage of society. For these are the most industrious, orderly, and circumspect portion of society, and the actions governed by this principle with the results, are the only materials on which either the statesman, or individuals can safely calculate.

There is, indeed, another sort, (a class they can scarcely be called), who are below self-interest; who live under the mastery of their senses and appetites; and whose selfishness is an animal instinct, a goad ‘a tergo’, not an attraction, ‘a re prospecta’, or (so to speak) from a projected self. In fact, such individuals cannot so properly be said to have a self, as to be machines for the self of nature: and are as little capable of loving themselves as of loving their neighbours. Such there are. Nay, (if we were to count only without weighing) the aggregate of such persons might possibly form a larger number than the class preceding. But they may safely be taken up into the latter, for the main ends of society, as being or sure to become its materials and tools. Their folly is the stuff in which the sound sense of the worldly-wise is at once manifested and remunerated; their idleness of thought, with the passions, appetites, likings and fancies, which are its natural growth, though weeds, give direction and employment to the industry of the other. The accidents of inheritance by birth, of accumulation of property in partial masses, are thus counteracted,–and the aneurisms in the circulating system prevented or rendered fewer and less obstinate,–whilst animal want, the sure general result of idleness and its accompanying vices, tames at length the selfish host, into the laborious slaves and mechanic implements of the self-interested. Thus, without public spirit, nay, by the predominance of the opposite quality, the latter are the public benefactors: and, giving steadfastness and compactness to the whole, lay in the ground of the canvass, on which minds of finer texture may impress beauty and harmony.

Lastly, there is in the heart of all men a working principle,–call it ambition, or vanity, or desire of distinction, the inseparable adjunct of our individuality and personal nature, and flowing from the same source as language–the instinct and necessity in each man of declaring his particular existence, and thus of singling or singularizing himself. In some this principle is far stronger than in others, while in others its comparative dimness may pass for its non-existence. But in thoughts at least, and secret fancies there is in all men (idiocy of course excepted) a wish to remain the same and yet to be something else, and something more, or to exhibit what they are, or imagine they might be, somewhere else and to other spectators. Now, though this desire of distinction, when it is disproportionate to the powers and qualities by which the individual is indeed distinguished, or when it is the governing passion, or taken as the rule of conduct, is but a “knavish sprite,” yet as an attendant and subaltern spirit, it has its good purposes and beneficial effects: and is not seldom

–sent with broom before, To sweep the dust behind the door.

Though selfish in its origin, it yet tends to elevate the individual from selfishness into self-love, under a softer and perhaps better form than that of self-interest, the form of self-respect. Whatever other objects the man may be pursuing, and with whatever other inclinations, he is still by this principle impelled and almost compelled to pass out of himself in imagination, and to survey himself at a sufficient distance, in order to judge what figure he is likely to make in the eyes of his fellow men. But in thus taking his station as at the apex of a triangle, while the self is at one angle of the base, he makes it possible at least that the image of his neighbour may appear at the other, whether by spontaneous association, or placed there for the purposes of comparison; and so both be contemplated at equal distance. But this is the first step towards disinterestedness; and though it should never be reached, the advantage of the appearance is soon learnt, and the necessity of avoiding the appearance of the contrary. But appearances cannot be long sustained without some touch of the reality. At all events there results a control over our actions; some good may be produced, and many a poisonous or offensive fruit will be prevented. Courtesy, urbanity, gallantry, munificence; the outward influence of the law shall I call it, or rather fashion of honour–these are the handsome hypocrisies that spring from the desire of distinction. I ask not the genius of a Machiavel, a Tacitus, or a Swift;–it needs only a worldly experience and an observing mind, to convince a man of forty that there is no medium between the creed of misanthropy and that of the gospel.

A pagan might be as orthodox as Paul on the doctrine of works. First,–set aside the large portion of them that have their source in the constitutional temperament,–the merit of which, if any, belongs to nature, not to the individual agent; and of the remaining number of good works, nine are derived from vices for one that has its origin in virtue. I have often in looking at the water-works, and complex machinery of our manufactories, indulged a humorous mood by fancying that the hammers, cogs, fly-wheels, &c. were each actuated by some appetite, or passion–hate, rage, revenge, vanity, cupidity, &c. while the general result was most benignant, and the machine, taken as a whole, the product of power, knowledge, and benevolence! Such a machine does the moral world, the world of human nature, appear–and to those who seem ever more to place the comparison and the alternative between hell and earth, and quite overlook the opposition between earth and heaven, I recommend this meditation.


I. MIRACLES–as precluding the contrary evidence of no miracles.

II. The material of Christianity, its existence and history.

III. The doctrines of Christianity, and the correspondence of human nature to those doctrines,–illustrated,

1st, historically–as the actual production of a new world, and the dependence of the fate of the planet upon it;–

2nd, individually–from its appeal for its truth to an asserted fact,–which, whether it be real or not, every man possessing reason has an equal power of ascertaining within himself;–namely, a will which has more or less lost its freedom, though not the consciousness that it ought to be and may become free;–the conviction that this cannot be achieved without the operation of a principle connatural with itself;–the evident rationality of an entire confidence in that principle, being the condition and means of its operation;–the experience in his own nature of the truth of the process described by Scripture as far as he can place himself within the process, aided by the confident assurances of others as to the effects experienced by them, and which he is striving to arrive at. All these form a practical Christian. Add, however, a gradual opening out of the intellect to more and more clear perceptions of the strict coincidence of the doctrines of Christianity, with the truths evolved by the mind, from reflections on its own nature. To such a man one main test of the objectivity, the entity, the objective truth of his faith, is its accompaniment by an increase of insight into the moral beauty and necessity of the process which it comprises, and the dependence of that proof on the causes asserted. Believe, and if thy belief be right, that insight which gradually transmutes faith into knowledge will be the reward of that belief. The Christian, to whom, after a long profession of Christianity, the mysteries remain as much mysteries as before, is in the same state as a schoolboy with regard to his arithmetic to whom the _facit_ at the end of the examples in his cyphering book is the whole ground for his assuming that such and such figures amount to so and so.

3rd. In the above I include the increasing discoveries in the correspondence of the history, the doctrines and the promises of Christianity, with the past, present, and probable future of human nature; and in this state a fair comparison of the religion as a divine philosophy, with all other religions which have pretended to revelations and all other systems of philosophy; both with regard to the totality of its truth and its identification with the manifest march of affairs.

I should conclude that, if we suppose a man to have convinced himself that not only the doctrines of Christianity, which may be conceived independently of history or time, as the Trinity, spiritual influences, &c. are coincident with the truths which his reason, thus strengthened, has evolved from its own sources, but that the historical dogmas, namely, of the incarnation of the creative Logos, and his becoming a personal agent, are themselves founded in philosophical necessity; then it seems irrational, that such a man should reject the belief of the actual appearance of a religion strictly correspondent therewith, at a given time recorded, even as much as that he should reject Caesar’s account of his wars in Gaul, after he has convinced himself ‘a priori of their probability.

As the result of these convictions he will not scruple to receive the particular miracles recorded, inasmuch as it would be miraculous that an incarnate God should not work what must to mere men appear as miracles; inasmuch as it is strictly accordant with the ends and benevolent nature of such a being, to commence the elevation of man above his mere senses by attracting and enforcing attention, first through an appeal to those senses. But with equal reason will he expect that no other or greater force should be laid on these miracles as such; that they should not be spoken of as good in themselves, much less as the adequate and ultimate proof of that religion; and likewise he will receive additional satisfaction, should he find these miracles so wrought, and on such occasions, as to give them a personal value as symbols of important truths when their miraculousness was no longer needful or efficacious.

[Footnote 1: Dictated to, and communicated by, Dr. Brabant of Devizes. Ed.]


Nov. 3, 1816.


I. I believe that I am a free-agent, inasmuch as, and so far as, I have a will, which renders me justly responsible for my actions, omissive as well as commissive. Likewise that I possess reason, or a law of right and wrong, which, uniting with my sense of moral responsibility, constitutes the voice of conscience.

II. Hence it becomes my absolute duty to believe, and I do believe, that there is a God, that is, a Being, in whom supreme reason and a most holy will are one with an infinite power; and that all holy will is coincident with the will of God, and therefore secure in its ultimate consequences by His omnipotence;–having, if such similitude be not unlawful, such a relation to the goodness of the Almighty, as a perfect time-piece will have to the sun.


The wonderful works of God in the sensible world are a perpetual discourse, reminding me of his existence, and shadowing out to me his perfections. But as all language presupposes in the intelligent hearer or reader those primary notions, which it symbolizes; as well as the power of making those combinations of these primary notions, which it represents and excites us to combine,–even so I believe, that the notion of God is essential to the human mind; that it is called forth into distinct consciousness principally by the conscience, and auxiliarly by the manifest adaptation of means to ends in the outward creation. It is, therefore, evident to my reason, that the existence of God is absolutely and necessarily insusceptible of a scientific demonstration, and that Scripture has so represented it. For it commands us to believe in one God. ‘I am the Lord thy God: thou shalt have none other gods but me’. Now all commandment necessarily relates to the will; whereas all scientific demonstration is independent of the will, and is apodictic or demonstrative only as far as it is compulsory on the mind, ‘volentem, nolentem’.

III. My conscience forbids me to propose to myself the pains and pleasures of this life, as the primary motive, or ultimate end, of my actions;–on the contrary, it makes me perceive an utter disproportionateness and heterogeneity between the acts of the spirit, as virtue and vice, and the things of the sense, such as all earthly rewards and punishments must be. Its hopes and fears, therefore, refer me to a different and spiritual state of being: and I believe in the life to come, not through arguments acquired by my understanding or discursive faculty, but chiefly and effectively, because so to believe is my duty, and in obedience to the commands of my conscience. Here ends the first table of my creed, which would have been my creed, had I been born with Adam; and which, therefore, constitutes what may in this sense be called natural religion, that is, the religion of all finite rational beings. The second table contains the creed of revealed religion, my belief as a Christian.

IV. I believe, and hold it as the fundamental article of Christianity, that I am a fallen creature; that I am of myself capable of moral evil, but not of myself capable of moral good, and that an evil ground existed in my will, previously to any given act, or assignable moment of time, in my consciousness. I am born a child of wrath. This fearful mystery I pretend not to understand. I cannot even conceive the possibility of it,–but I know that it is so. My conscience, the sole fountain of certainty, commands me to believe it, and would itself be a contradiction, were it not so–and what is real must be possible.

V. I receive with full and grateful faith the assurance of revelation, that the Word, which is from all eternity with God, and is God, assumed our human nature in order to redeem me, and all mankind from this our connate corruption. My reason convinces me, that no other mode of redemption is conceivable, and, as did Socrates, would have yearned after the Redeemer, though it would not dare expect so wonderful an act of divine love, except only as an effort of my mind to conceive the utmost of the infinite greatness of that love.

VI. I believe, that this assumption of humanity by the Son of God, was revealed and realized to vis by the Word made flesh, and manifested to us in Christ Jesus; and that his miraculous birth, his agony, his crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension, were all both symbols of our redemption [Greek (transliterated): phainomena ton noumenon] and necessary parts of the awful process.

VII. I believe in the descent and sending of the Holy Spirit, by whose free grace obtained for me by the merits of my Redeemer, I can alone be sanctified and restored from my natural inheritance of sin and condemnation, be a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of God.


The Trinity of persons in the Unity of the God would have been a necessary idea of my speculative reason, deduced from the necessary postulate of an intelligent creator, whose ideas being anterior to the things, must be more actual than those things, even as those things are more actual than our images derived from them; and who, as intelligent, must have had co-eternally an adequate idea of himself, in and through which he created all things both in heaven and earth. But this would only have been a speculative idea, like those of circles and other mathematical figures, to which we are not authorized by the practical reason to attribute reality. Solely in consequence of our Redemption does the Trinity become a doctrine, the belief of which as real is commanded by our conscience. But to Christians it is commanded, and it is false candour in a Christian, believing in original sin and redemption therefrom, to admit that any man denying the divinity of Christ can be a Christian. The true language of a Christian, which reconciles humility with truth would be;–God and not man is the judge of man: which of the two is the Christian, he will determine; but this is evident, that if the theanthropist is a Christian, the psilanthropist cannot be so; and ‘vice versa’. Suppose, that two tribes used the same written characters, but attached different and opposite meanings to them, so that ‘niger’, for instance, was used by one tribe to convey the notion ‘black’, by the other, ‘white’;–could they, without absurdity, be said to have the same language? Even so, in the instance of the crucifixion, the same image is present to the theanthropist and to the psilanthropist or Socinian–but to the latter it represents a mere man, a good man indeed and divinely inspired, but still a mere man, even as Moses or Paul, dying in attestation of the truth of his preaching, and in order by his resurrection to give a proof of his mission, and inclusively of the resurrection of all men:–to the former it represents God incarnate taking upon himself the sins of the world, and himself thereby redeeming us, and giving us life everlasting, not merely teaching it. The same difference, that exists between God and man, between giving and the declaration of a gift, exists between the Trinitarian and the Unitarian. This might be proved in a few moments, if we would only conceive a Greek or Roman, to whom two persons relate their belief, each calling Christ by a different name. It would be impossible for the Greek even to guess, that they both meant the same person, or referred to the same facts.