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manifestation and exposition is intended to produce, is no mitigation of its poignancy. The two verses which follow our text, contain the word fire, in both which, it admits of a figurative definition. It is unreasonable to suppose it is to be understood in a literal sense, in either passage. The object of Jehovah in sending his Son, as the light of the world, was as certain of being accomplished, as he was of not being disappointed. The sense in which we understand the word, is agreeable to its frequent use in the Jewish scriptures. Observe the following: Prov. xxv. 22. "Heap coals of fire on his head." Isai. x. 17. " And the light of Israel shall be for a fire." xxxi. 9. "Whose fire is in Zion and his furnace in Jerusalem." xxxiii. 14. "Who among us shall dwell with devouring fire?" Amos vii. 4. "The Lord shall contend by fire." Mal. iii. 2. "For he is like a refiner's fire." iv. 1. “Behold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven." Luke xii. 49. "I am come to send fire on earth; and what will I if it be already kindled?" John the Baptist kindled
, as we find in our text. Hence he is called "a burning and a shining light." John v. 35. This is the fire intended in the parable under consideration. The limits of this sheet forbid further remarks. In a future number a further illustration will be attempted. "Whoso readeth, let him understand." R. S.
Of man's active and moral Powers, taken from the Elements of Moral Science, by James Beattie, L. L. D. Professor of moral Philosophy and Logic in the Marischal College and University of Aberdeen.
He admits, that, according to his doctrines of necessity, the Deity is the cause of all the evil, as well as of all the good actions of his creatures. What can this mean, but either that there is no difference be
tween moral good and moral evil, between harm and injury, between crimes and calamities; or that the divine character is as far from being in a moral view perfect, as that of any of his creatures? The same writer affirms, that the doctrine of philosophical necessity is a modern discovery, not older than Hobbes, or, perhaps he might mean than Spinosa. Strange, that a thing, in which all mankind are so much interested, and of which every man, who thinks, is a competent judge, and has occasion to think and speak, every day of his life, should not have been found out till about two hundred years ago, and should still, in spite of all that can be said for it, although as certain as that two and two are four, be disbelieved by all mankind, a few individuals excepted. I shall only add, that if the Deity be,as this author affirms, the cause of all the evil,as well as of all the good actions of his creatures, resentment and gratitude towards our fellow men are as unreasonable as towards the knife that wounds, or the salve that heals us; and that to repent of the evil I am conscious of having committed would be not only absurd, but impious,because it would imply a dissatisfaction with the will of Him who was the almighty cause of that evil, and was pleased to make me his instrument in doing it.
I deny not, that the opposite doctrine of liberty may be thought to involve in it some difficulties which our limited understanding cannot disengage, particularly with respect to the divine prescience and decrees. But in most things we find difficulties which we cannot solve; nor can any man, without extreme presumption, affirm, that he distinctly knows, in what manner the divine prescience exerts itself, or how the freedom of man's will may be affected by the decrees of God. Such knowledge is too wonderful for us but of our own free agency we are competent judges, because it is a matter of fact and experiand because all our moral and religious notions, that is, all our most important knowledge, may be
said to be either founded on it, or intimately connected with it.
As omnipotence can do whatever is possible, so omniscience must know whatever can be known. Every thing which God has determined to bring certainly to pass, he must foresee as certain: and can it be thought impossible. that he should foresee, not as certain but as contingent, that which he has determined to be contingent and not certain? Or will it be said that it is not possible for the Almighty to decree contingencies as well as certainties; to leave it in my power in certain cases, to act according to the free determination of my own mind? Our bodily strength, and our freedom of choice in regard to good and evil, are matters of great moment to us; but the latter can no more interfere with the purposes of divine providence, than the former can retard or accelerate the motion of the earth. It would not be very difficult for a prudent man, who should have the entire command of a few children, to make them, in certain cases, promote his views, without laying any restraint on their will. Infinitely more easy must it be for the Almighty and omniscient Governor of the universe, so to overrule ali the actions of his moral creatures, as to make them promote, even while they are acting freely, his own wise and good purposes.
It was said, that the power of beginning motion, exerted of choice by a rational and intelligent being, may be called volition, or will. The word will has other significations; but I wish, at present, to use it in this sense.
I call it a power of beginning motion; meaning by the term motion every change in the human mind or body which is usually denominated action. When we will to do a thing, we believe that thing to be in our power; and when we will, we always will something; (and this something may be termed the object of volition) even as when we remember we always remember something, which may be called the object
of remembrance. Things, therefore, done voluntarily, are to be distinguished from things done, like a new born infant's sucking, by instinct, as well as from things done by habit, like the constant motion of the eyelids.
Will and desire are not the same. What we will is an action, and our own action: but we may desire· what is not an action, as that our friends may be happy, or what is not an action of ours, as that our friends may behave well. Nay, we may desire what we do not will, as when we are thirsty and abstain from drink on account of health; and we may will what we have an aversion to, as when, on the same account, we force ourselves to swallow a nauseous medicine. Let us also distinguish between will and command ; although, in common language, what a man commands is often called his will. We will to do some action of our own; we command an action to be done by another. Desires and commands are also, in popular language, confounded: but here too we must distinguish. "O if such a thing were given me," is not the same with "give me such a thing:" and if a tyrant, to get a pretence for punishing, were to command what he knew could not be done, it might be a command without desire.
I said, that when we will to do a thing, we believe that thing to be in our power, or to depend upon our will. In exerting myself to raise a weight from the ground, I believe either that I can raise it, or that it is in my power to try whether I can raise it or not. A very great weight which I know to be far above my strength, I never attempt to raise. I never exert myself for the purpose of flying; I never will to speak a language I have not learned; because I know it to be out of my power. Our will may, however be exerted in attempting to do what we know to be at first trial impracticable; as when one begins to learn to perform on a musical instrument: but in this we believe, that frequent attempts, properly directed, will No. 2. Vol. 1.
make the thing possible, and at last easy. And we know, that the first principles of musical performances as well as of other arts, are adapted to the ability of a beginner, and consequently in his power.
Some acts of the will are transient; others more lasting. When I will to stretch out my hand and snuff a candle, the energy of the will is at an end as soon as the action is over. When I will to read a book, or write a letter, from beginning to end, without stopping, the will is exerted till the reading or writing be finished. We may will to persist for a course of years in a certain conduct; to read, for example, so much Greek every day, till we learn to read it with ease; this sort of will is commonly called resolution. We may will or resolve to do our duty on all occasions as long as we live; and he who so resolves, A and perseveres in the resolution, is a good man. single act of virtue is a good thing, but does not make a man of virtue: he is only so, who resolves to be virtuous, and adheres to his purpose.
Aristotle rightly thought, that virtue consists not in transient acts, but in a settled habit or disposition; agreeable to which is the old definition of Justice, constans et perpetua voluntas secum cuique tribuendi,* so of the other virtues. He is not a temperate or valiant man, who is so now and then only, or merely by chance; but he who is intentionally and habitually temperate or valiant: Him, in like manner, we judge to be a vicious character, not who through the weakness of human nature has fallen into transgression, but who persists in transgressions, or intends to transgress, or is indifferent whether he transgress or not, or re solves that he will not take the trouble to guard against it.
* A constant and perpetual will with himself to render to every one his due.