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THE CHRISTIAN TREASURY.
NATURE AND GRACE.
BY THE REV. JONATHAN R. ANDERSON, GLASGOW.
The soul in its natural state is full of darkness. power of divine love. The presence of the The things of God are as if they were not: their object to the mind is necessary to the exercise excellence is not apprehended, nor their reality of any affection. Hence, if the Divine Being perceived. In every variety of form they may be brought before the natural heart in any be presented to the mind, it fails to discern attribute whatever, He is met by nothing but them. They may be supported by every species enmity. The ways in which this vile affection of evidence, the understanding does not yield to works are various; some calm, some tumultuous them. They may be clothed in the highest at- |-in some cases, little else is felt than indiffertractions, the heart does not admit them. Nor ence. But indifference to infinite excellence is it until grace takes possession of the soul, and can arise from no root other than aversion. A by a new creation enters upon its reign, that child indifferent to his parent shows that he is the darkness of nature is detected. A natural hostile to him: and so to be indifferent to the man has not discernment even to discover his blessed God argues against him. In other own blindness. But grace makes it manifest; for cases, this affection appears in a disposition to it is full of light; and “whatsoever doth make throw off the thought of God. The soul finds manifest is light.” “ Ye were sometime dark- it is an unwelcome visitor-it is by no means
ness, but now are ye light in the Lord.” The congenial to its tastes, nor favourable to its purlight which thus breaks in upon the darkness, suits; and therefore the sooner it is got rid of never can be expelled nor extinguished. The the better. The language of such is, “ Depart darkness, it is true, is hostile to the light; “the from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy light shineth in darkness, and the darkness ad- ways.” But the enmity of nature to God somemitteth it not;" and the hostility lasts so long times shows itself in undisguised aversion. The as the remains of nature are in the soul. But truth of God is denied, his grace rejected, his grace is luminous; it draws from the Lord Jesus salvation despised, his authority set at nought, Christ, a source of light which is inexhaustible: and the honour of his name disregarded. “The and hence the light prevails over the darkness. carnal mind is enmity against God”—“ So The struggle of these antagonist elements is then they that are in the flesh cannot please incessant, and sometimes very fierce; and for a God.” season nature may seem to regain the ascendancy In grace there is supreme love of God, and in the soul. But at these very times grace is that primarily for what he is in himself. For, learning more of the character of nature; and as nature hates God for what he is, not merely as the sun when it suffers a momentary obscu- for the aspect of wrath which he wears to ration prepares to shine out with a higher lustre, transgressors, so grace admires ' him chiefly so grace increases in brightness from the efforts for what he is in his being, and beauty, and which nature makes to darken it. “ The Lord, perfection. He infinitely loves himself, he is i my God, will enlighten my darkness"_“ Unto worthy of the love, and this is his holiness.
the upright there ariseth light in the midst of He is to be loved by his creatures, and is worthy obscurity”—“At evening-tide it shall be light." of their love; and this constitutes their holiness.
In nature there is a principle of enmity The very essence of grace lies in being paragainst God; in grace there is the principle of taker of a divine nature, and the nature apprelove to God. The eumity of nature seems, at hends and delights in God for bis beauty's sake. times, as if it were dormant, though really of this the Psalmist speaks: “ One thing have I ceaseless in its activity. In like manner grace desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that may be overborne, and the soul apparently left I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the destitute of the love of God. But events occur days of my life, to behold the beauty of the which bring out the existence and strength of Lord, and to inquire in his temple.” This the enmity that is in nature; as, on the other noble affection may be weakened and obscured hand, they serve to make plain the reality and through the hostile influences which set in upon
the heart. The subjects of it may lament the worldly—that of grace is that the name of Jelow state of their souls on this account, and may hovah may be made great, from the rising of tven conclude that it is altogether extinguished. the sun to the going down of the same. To But when its object manifests Himself anew to nature it is of no consequence what becomes of their souls, and by His grace restores them to the glory of God, if only its schemes succeed, the lively exercise of love, then are they set on and its desires be gratified. But grace cannot fire with affection to Him and delight in Him. live, unless God be glorified in his character, “How great is his goodness, how great is his and love, and salvation.
And hence, grace beauty!"
never will reach its proper consummation till The natural mind is opposed to the will of the anthem of grace be heard from all holy God-grace yields a willing obedience to it. Of creatures : “Halleluia ! Salvation, and glory, and course, where there is no understanding of honour, and power, unto the Lord our God !” divine things, and no love to God, there can be no obedience to his law. There may, indeed,
THE CHARACTER OF INFIDELITY. be the profession of obedience; but it will be that of the son who said to his father, “I go, sir, but went not." There may be the semblance of obedience; but it will be like the Pharisees who
We must now hasten to notice the UNCERTAINTY AND made clean the outside of the cup and platter. VANITY OF HUME'S PHILOSOPHY, as well as ITS UNHAPThere may be an obedience which will please PINESS; AND THE GENERAL INSUFFICIENCY AND DISAPmen, and be advantageous to civil society, but POINTMENT WHICH CROWNED HIS LITERARY CAREER most offensive in the sight of God: “ The things The young are apt to be misled into infidelity by that are lightly esteemed among men, are abomi- thinking what a fine thing it must be to be like Da nation in the sight of God.” But grace unites what honour and fame tracked his footsteps, how
vid Hume—what new paths of inquiry he opened up, the soul to Christ, and thus connects it with happy he must have been in his fresh lights and dishim who, as he is the only justifying righteous-coveries, and what rich and satisfactory rewaris ness of sinners, is the only spring of active philosophy and literature hold out to their disciples obedience. It is, moreover, a holy principle, rewards far more precious than religion can pretend and productive of holy fruits : “ That which is to supply. We hope that we are as much alire 23
born of God doth not commit sin.” It is true, our neighbours to the pleasures and advantages of here also it is not suffered to work without op sound literature. We trust we can, in some mea
sound knowledge, embracing sound philosophy and position from nature: “ I find a law in my sure, appreciate them. But we must say that, in members warring against the law of my mind.” very proportion to our love for sound knowledge in But Christ dwelling in the soul by faith, there all its branches, are we suspicious of the writings, is that in grace whereby it prevails against this and hostile to what is peculiar in mental or moral law: “ With my mind I serve the law of God.” | philosophy, to the teaching of Hume. No youthful
He that is under the power of nature is con- mind could labour under a greater mistake than the tent with a portion in the creature—the child of mind which cherished the sentiments respecting him
to which we have alluded. grace rises to a portion in God himself. The
What is the view which Hume gives of ancient natural man may find a portion in gross sensu- and modern philosophy, and of his own state of ality, or in the diligent prosecution of business, mind in the midst of his philosophical inquiries, and or in the accumulation of wealth and influence; after they were well-nigh over? In the outset of his or he may find it in the pursuit of literature career, when a young man of twenty-three, preparand science, in the maintenance of a decent re. ing for authorship, he addressed a “Letter to a Phrligious profession, or the lively play of what he sician,” now published for the first time; and which deems à sanctified imagination. But in all candid self-examination.” Here we may be supposed
the biographer denominates “a piece of full and these cases, the heart rests in something else to have the genuine sentiments and feelings of Hume. than the blessed God. The subject of grace Let the reader then judge of these “Confessions sees the vanity and hatefulness in all these “Every one,” says he, “who is acquainted either! things as a portion, and is taught to chocse the with the philosophers or critics, knows that there is good part, which shall never be taken away from nothing yet established in either of these two sciences him. “ The Lord is the portion of mine inheri- (works of reasoning and philosophy, and works of tance and my cup”—“Many say, Who will show polite literature, embracing the great mass of all
knowledge), and that they contain little more than us good? Lord, lift thou on us the light of thy end less disputes, even in the most fundamental articles." countenance."
It would seem, then, according to Hume's own The end which nature proposes is selfish and showing, that religion is not the only uncertain knor.
THE CHARACTER OF INFIDELITY.
579 ledge, and that theologians are not the only disput- me from every side. I have exposed myself to the ants; and that, after a lapse of six thousand years, enmity of all metaphysicians, logicians, mathematiphilosophers are at war upon the most fundamental cians, and even theologians; and can I wonder at the articles-a fact surely holding out little prospect insults I must suffer? I have declared my disapprothat he or his disciples should, by the discovery of bation of their systems, and can I be surprised if they truth, terminate all controversy. Again: “I found should express a hatred of mine, and of my person? that the moral philosophy transmitted to us by anti- When I look abroad, I foresee on every side dispute, quity, laboured under the same inconvenience that contradiction, anger, calumny, and detraction. When has been found in their natural philosophy—of being I turn my eye inward, I find nothing but doubt and entirely hypothetical, and depending more upon ignorance. All the world conspires to oppose and invention than experience; every one consulted his contradict me, though such is my weakness, that I fancy in erecting schemes of virtue and of happiness, feel all my opinions loosen and fall of themselves, without regarding human nature, upon which every when unsupported by the approbation of others. moral conclusion must depend.” Here is another Every step I take is with hesitation, and every new confession of Hume to the utter insufficiency of phi- reflection makes me dread an error and absurdity in losophy to guide, regenerate, or bless the great mass my reasoning. For with what confidence can I venture of mankind; and yet the ancient classical writers upon such bold enterprises, when, besides those numwere the gods of his idolatry, to the neglect of the berless infirmities peculiar to myself, I find so many one book of Heaven! What is the natural inference which are common to human nature? Can I be sure from such acknowledgments, but the absolute need that, in leaving all established opinions, I am following of divine revelation ? How unlikely is it that the phi-truth ? and by what criterion shall I distinguish her, losophers of the future, on questions of mind or of even if fortune should at last guide me on her footmorals, shall prove wiser and more useful than their steps? After the most accurate and exact examinapredecessors in the past? The first step to usefulness tion of my reasonings, I can give no reason why I is, that the philosophy be stable and sure; but where should assent to it, and feel nothing but a strong prothe signs or even the chances of certainty? “The pensity to consider objects strongly in that view under observation of human blindness and weakness," says which they appear to me. ... Hume himself, “is the result of all philosophy, and “ The intense view of these manifold contradictions meets us at every turn, in spite of our endeavours to and imperfections in human reason, has so wrought elude or to avoid it.” Let young men who would upon me and heated my brain, that I am ready to be philosophers by becoming infidels ponder this reject all belief and reasoning, and can look upon no saying, and consider whether, such being the state of opinion even as more probable or likely than another. human nature when left to itself, they are likely to Where am I, or what? From what causes do I derive be able to do successfully without a revelation from my existence, and to what condition shall I return ? heaven.
Whose favour shall I court? and whose anger must But let us pass from general confessions to Hume's I dread? What beings surround me? and on whom own personal experience. He wrote his Treatise on have I any influence, or who have any influence on Human Nature while yet a young man. Afterwards me? I am confounded with all these questions, and he regretted the boldness of its tone, but he never begin to fancy myself in the most deplorable condiretracted its leading principles or views. And what tion imaginable, environed with the deepest darkness, is the account of it given by his biographer ? “He and utterly deprived of the use of every member and exposes," says he, “ to poor human nature her own faculty." weakness and nakedness, and supplies her with no After reading this gloomy passage, we may well ask, extrinsic support or protection." And this came was Hume happy? He may have forgotten his specufrom a man, not when seared with age and disappoint- lations, and other influences may have come in and ment, but at a period of life “when our sympathies given him the ordinary share of human enjoyment, but with the world are strongest and our anticipations did his philosophy make him happy? Would the bebrightest.” We ask, then, was this kind or cruel ? lief of it, or the pursuit of kindred theories, make Was this a great improvement on the old philosophy others happy? Shortly before he wrote his work, he which had gone before, or was it of the same cha- lets us into the state of his mind-he tells us of his racter; as uncertain, and therefore weak and help- mental depression, and of the means to which he reless, though more unmerciful ? What is Hume's own sorted for relief. The confession is contained in the account of its tendency?
letter from which we have already quoted, and few “I am lost and confounded with that forlorn soli- can be more melancholy. “ There was another partude in which I am placed in my philosophy, and ticular," says he," which contributed more than anyfancy myself some strange uncouth monster, who, thing to waste my spirits, and bring on me this disnot being able to mingle and unite in society, has temper, which was, that having read many books of been expelled all human commerce, and left utterly morality, such as Cicero, Seneca, and Plutarch, and abandoned and disconsolate. Fain would I run into being smit with their beautiful representations of the crowd for shelter and warmth, but cannot prevail virtue and philosophy, I undertook the improvement with myself to mix with such deformity. I call upon of my temper and will, along with my reason and others to join me, in order to make a company apart, understanding. I was continually fortifying myself but no one will hearken to me. Every one keeps at with reflections against death, and poverty, and a distance, and dreads that storm which beats upon sh
ther calamities of life.”
He then goes on to say, that however useful such What was Hume's experience of life as a philosoreflections may be in health, in solitude they serve to pher, and the philosoper of Infidelity? We have little other purpose than to waste the spirits; that seen that vanity was his ruling passion, and that for this he learned by experience, not however till his the gratification of vanity he sacrificed everything health was ruined. Poor man! he found the like truth and steady principle. Was his course morality of Paganism too much for him, beyond his then easy and prosperous ? He may have expected self-righteous reach; and rejecting, meanwhile, the this. He may, like many young aspirants, have only Book which points out the remedy, as well as imagined that his talents would carry the world be. the disease, which unfolds the source of strength to fore him. Instead of this, he was deeply mortified, fallen creatures, as well as their weakness and de- and so punished through his very vanity. The frst pravity, he was miserable. This is no matter of twenty years of his authorship might be said to be a wonder. His mind, powerful as it was, could failure; one effort after another was unsuccessful His not open a new way of relief. Farther on in the re- works either provoked no notice or keen opposition. cord of his experience, he says, “ To keep myself Early in his history, he was so hurt and wounded that from living melancholy on so dismal a prospect (as he resolved to abandon his native country-reside in not rccovering his health), my only security was in France-change his name, and never return. When, peevish reflections on the vanity of the world and of from the progress of Infidelity in Britain and other all human glory, which, however just sentiments they causes, his works excited notice, and he became, may be esteemed, I have found can never be sincere, comparatively speaking, a successful author, vanity except in those who are possessed of them. Being still pursued him, and the same desire of celebrity sensible that all my philosophy would never make me which was wounded by failure at first, was wounded, contented in my present situation, I began to rouge now because the success was not so great as vain up myself,” &c. He then proceeds to say, that he glory, ever greedy, would have desired. At a more turned to business as his remedy: “I am just now advanced period of life, he became connected as se hastening to Bristol, with a resolution to forget my-cretary with public men, and passed two years in his self and everything that is past, to engage myself as favourite France, recommended by its Infidelity and far as is possible in mercantile life, and to toss about patronage of letters. Surely he would be happy the world, from the one pole to the other, till I leave now. He seems to have reached the height of his this distemper behind me.'
ambition. He is idolized as a demi-god. Flattery, It appears, then, that for mental disquietude, and so grateful to vanity, is offered to him as incense. depression so severe as to affect the bodily health, Now he has a compensation for his years of unrepaid Hume's cure was not philosophy, whether his own labour, but is he happy? Let the reader judge. or that of other men, not “the reading of the · During the two last years in particular," says he, most celebrated books in Latin, French, and " that I have been at Fountainebleau, I have suffered English, and acquiring Italian.” All these failed (the expression is not improper) as much flattery as him. His resort was the coarse, and, in his view, almost any man has ever done in the same time, bat vulgar one of engaging with a Bristol trader; and there are fer days in my life that I would not rather even this lasted but a few months. What a proclar pass over again.” Again:“I am convinced that Louis mation is here of the vanity and helplessness of XIV. never in any three weeks of his life suffered so philosophy—its insufficiency to deliver from evil, or to much flattery; I say suffered, for it really confounds rejoice with happiness! Well may the youthful aspir- and embarrasses me, and makes me look sheepish.", ant after fame pause before committing himself to And then he tells us of a masquerade, where both sexes the course of Hume. How blessed a thing would it in masques :saluted him with the warmest complihave been for our author, had he, when weary and ments; in short, he was almost as cordially hailed with depressed in spirit, instead of betaking himself to popular incense as Voltaire, when for twenty minutes Cicero, Seneca, and Plutarch, betaken himself to the consecutively the theatre rang with his worship. Word of God, and exchanged the uncertainties and Yet with all this was he happy? Hear his answer miseries of ancient Paganism for the certain and the to the inquiry in a letter to Dr. Blair. “You ask glorious verities of Evangelical Christianity! He me if they (such instances of attention) were not would not, in that case, have been left to make such very agreeable ? I answer No-neither in Espectamelancholy, but withal most important confessions, tion, possession, nor recollection. I left that fire-side on which we have been commenting.
where you probably sit at present with the greatest But we must not limit ourselves to the inherently reluctance. After I came to London, my uneasiness, unhappy character of Hume's philosophy—to its as I heard inore of the prepossessions of the French proved inability, from his own case, to sustain in time nation in my favour, increased, and nothing would of need—and to his testimony to the unsatisfactory have given me greater joy than any accident that nature of all the philosophy which preceded, and we would have broke off my engagement." Such is the may now add which has followed, except so far as, vanity of human glory, even when fully attained. in mind and morals, it has been connected with the It cannot satisfy. revelation of God. We must appeal to evidence still Nor is this all-it does not last. Were Hume more practical—to evidence which many will still now to rise from the dead, what would he find? better appreciate; and which we trust, therefore, would he find his writings in universal honour will operate as the stronger warning to the young would he find posterity, as he imagined, doing jusand the sanguine.
tice to his high claims? Far from it. He would
THE CHARACTER OF INFIDELITY.
find that his day was already over-that his moral impossible. The letters of more than one of the philosophy was disowned -- that a most searching party—such as a Madame Du Deffand, Malle. Le and withering exposure of his Historical Works was Espinasse, Baron de Grimm-have been published, going forward from day to day-that the divine Reve- and what is the revelation which they make of lation which he set at nought had vastly risen in its themselves and of others? One of the most fearful power-that it numbered in its ranks some of the which can well be ima ned. They discover most influential minds of the day-that new and throughout in connection with talent and wit, and Christian historians, like M'Crie and D’Aubigné, had taste, unspeakable selfishness, jealousy of others, arisen, and triumphantly vindicated the Reformers heartlessness, ennui, bitter and implacable factions ; and Refermation from the calumnies which he had and there is not a trace of domestic comfort. The propagated, and even that the very doctrine of cause Edinburgh Review (Feb. 1811), speaking of Mad. and effect, which he had taught with Atheistic views de Deffand, whose house was for fifty years the resort and leanings, had been turned by the friends of of all that was most brilliant in Paris, states that revelation into an argument for the being and pro- she was consumed with that ennui which she revidence of God.
garded as the greatest of curses, and which her life Striking as the picture which Hume may furnish was one unbroken effort to prevent--that she was of the vanity of infidel philosophy and literature, ever complaining of life as an irremediable evil, he does not stand alone. The school with which he and yet acknowledging her repugnance to quit was associated in France, and in which he rejoiced, it. She confessed, that being born was the greatsupply, if possible, a still more impressive illustra- est misfortune, and yet could procure no sympation. We do not refer to Rousseau, at one time his thy under the distress of her ennui. The great moral much-admired friend, at another his hated enemy
lesson which the writer draws from the whole is a just at once the slave and victim of vanity. Few cases one—that the applause of friends, the flattery of can better describe the folly of literary and infidel wits, and the homage of the world, are unavailing to France. The whole kingdom rung with his praises. the real comfort and happiness of life; and that His writings exercised an immense impression on all all talent, accomplishment, and glory, when discon-| ranks; but ere long, though he settled, says Hume, nected from feelings of kindness, are utterly worthwithin a league of Paris," nobody inquired after him less. It may be added, as a remarkable illustration -nobody visits him-nobody talks of him. Every of the heartlessness of infidelity, that this poor lady one has agreed to neglect and disregard him-a more died in the midst of a game of cards, and as the sudden revolution of fortune than almost ever hap- game was interesting, the party of friends continued pened to any man, at least to any man of letters." it, and settled their accounts by the dead body beWho does not see in this the vanity of literary glory? fore leaving the room! --the mortifying but righteous punishment which Such was infidelity in its most brilliant forms awaits upon infidel vanity. Let the young, tempted such the French companions of Hume. Can to scepticism, consider this.
anything more impressively teach the vanity and But we take in a wider range. The literary so- wretchedness of unbelief ? Here are talent, wit, ciety of France was never more brilliant, and at the accomplishment, philosophy, literature, bearing a sametime, more ungodly, infidel, and atheistic, than complete triumph over British prejudices—the most in the days of Hume. Philosophy was the order of unfettered freedom of inquiry; and yet what do the day. “In the circle of toys,” says Hume, “ seized these all secure for their possessors ? in what do and discarded by a giddy fashionable crowd, philosophy they all issue? No wonder that Hume was the will have its turn, as well as poodles, parrots, tulips, advocate of suicide. It was essential to the cafès, and black pages. It had been so a century toleration and completeness of his infidel system. earlier, when the most abstruse works of Des Cartes Professedly believing in no futurity, and exposed to had been the ornament of every fashionable lady's such misery, how could he hesitate about self-murtoilette; and now the wheel had revolved, and philo- der? It is the only, the easy, and appropriate resophy was again in vogue.” What this philosophy medy. But what sort of philosophy must that be, involved may be gathered from the following sentence how unsatisfying and full of woe, which needs the of a letter to Dr. Blair :-“ You seem to wish that I weapons of suicide ? which is only tolerable when should give you some general accounts of this men are informed that it is a lawful and proper country. Shall I begin with the points in which it thing-always within their reach, as soon as they most differs from England, viz., the general regard weary of life, to put an end to it with their own paid to genius and learning; the universal and pro- hand!
fessed, though decentgallantry to the fair sex; or the The reader might be reminded that the misery of inalmost universal contempt of all religion among both tidel philosophy was not confined to the brilliant litesexes and among all ranks of men?” The biographer rary circle; that soon it spread to general society, and states, that even Hume disliked the scornful infidelity involved all France, and many other nations, in its -the almost intolerance of earnest belief-50 often horrors. The philosophers sowed the wind, their exhibited both in speech and conduct. None need to countrymen through all ranks reaped the whirlwind; be informed what these statements imply—the union but it is unnecessary to enter on the proof of what of literature and talent with universal licentiousness is so familiar. Surely there is one general lesson and shocking infidelity.
deducible from our present contemplation, and that And were the parties then happy? It is utterly is, that no one need grudge infidel philosophers their