Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

Samaritan sees the unhappy sufferer, he melts into commiseration. He forgets the embittered foe, and considers only the distressed fellow-creature. He springs from his horse, and resolves to intermit his journey. The oil and wine, intended for his own refreshment, he freely converts into healing unguents. He binds up the wounds; sets the disabled stranger upon his own beast; and with all the assiduity of a servant, with all the tenderness of a brother, conducts him to an inn. There he deposits money for his present use; charges the host to omit nothing that might conduce to the recovery or comfort of his guest; and promises to defray the whole expense of his lodging, his maintenance, and his cure.

What a lively picture of the most disinterested and active benevolence! a benevolence which excludes no persons, not even strangers or enemies, from its tender regards; which disdains no condescension, grudges no cost, in its labours of love! Could any method of conviction have been more forcible, and at the same time more pleasing, than the interrogatory proposed by our Lord, and deduced from the narrative? Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among thieves? Or can there be an advice more suitable to the occasion, more important in its nature, or expressed with a more sententious energy, than that which is contained in these words; Go thou, and do likewise? In this case, the learner instructs, the delinquent condemns, himself. Bigotry bears away its prejudice; and pride,(when the moral so sweetly, so imperceptibly

insinuates) even pride itself, lends a willing ear to admonition.

Asp. It has been very justly remarked, that this eloquence of similitudes is equally affecting to the wise, and intelligible to the ignorant. It shows, rather than relates, the point to be illustrated. It has been admired by the best judges in all ages; but never was carried to its highest perfection, till our Lord spoke the parable of the prodigal; which has a beauty that no paraphrase can heighten; a perspicuity that renders all interpretation needless; and a force which every reader, not totally insensible, must feel.

Ther. The condescension and goodness of God are every where conspicuous. In the productions of nature, he conveys to us the most valuable fruits, by the intervention of the loveliest blossoms. Though the present is in itself extremely acceptable, he has given it an additional endearment, by the beauties which array it, or the perfumes which surround it. In the pages of revelation, likewise, he has communicated to us the most glorious truths, adorned with the excellences of composition. They are, as one of their writers very elegantly speaks, like apples of gold in pictures of silver.'

Asp. Who then would not willingly obey that benign command, Thou shalt talk of them, when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way; when thou liest down, and when thou risest up?

When I consider the language of the Scriptures, and sometimes experience the holy energy which

accompanies them, I am inclined to say, 'other writings, though polished with the nicest touches of art, only tinkle on the ear, or affect us like the shepherd's reed. But these, even amidst all their noble ease, strike, alarm, transport us.' When I consider the contents of the Scriptures, and believe myself interested in the promises they make, and the privileges they confer, I am induced to cry out, What are all the other books in the world, compared with these invaluable volumes.'

Hervey.

ON SCEPTICISM IN RELIGION.

LOCKE AND BAYLE.

Bayle. Yes, we both were philosophers; but my philosophy was the deepest. You dogmatized; I doubted.

Locke. Do you make doubting a proof of depth in philosophy? It may be a good beginning of it; but it is a bad end.

Bayle. No:-the more profound our searches are into the nature of things, the more uncertainty we shall find; and the most subtle minds see objections and difficulties in every system, which are overlooked or undiscoverable by ordinary understandings.

Locke. It would be better then to be no philosopher, and to continue in the vulgar herd of mankind, that one may have the convenience of thinking that one knows something. I find that the eyes which nature has given me, see many things

[blocks in formation]

very clearly, though some are out of their reach, or discerned but dimly. What opinion ought I to have of a physician, who should offer me an eye-water, the use of which would at first so sharpen my sight, as to carry it further than ordinary vision; but would in the end put them out? Your philosophy is to the eyes of the mind, what I have supposed the doctor's nostrum to be to those of the body. It actually brought your own excellent understanding, which was by nature quick-sighted, and rendered more so by art and a subtilty of logic peculiar to yourself-it brought, I say, your very acute understanding to see nothing clearly; and enveloped all the great truths of reason and religion in mists of doubt.

Bayle. I own it did;-but your comparison is not just. I did not see well, before I used my philosophic eye-water: I only supposed I saw well; but I was in an errour, with all the rest of mankind. The blindness was real, the perceptions were imaginary. I cured myself first of those false imaginations, and then I laudably endeavoured to cure other men.

Locke. A great cure indeed!—and don't you think that, in return for the service you did them, they ought to erect you a statue?

Bayle. Yes; it is good for human nature to know its own weakness. When we arrogantly presume on a strength we have not, we are always in great danger of hurting ourselves, or at least of deserving ridicule and contempt, by vain and idle efforts.

Locke. I agree with you, that human nature should know its own weakness; but it should also

feel its strength, and try to improve it. This was my employment as a philosopher. I endeavoured to discover the real powers of the mind, to see what it could do, and what it could not; to restrain it from efforts beyond its ability; but to teach it how to advance as far as the faculties given to it by nature, with the utmost exertion and most proper culture of them, would allow it to go. In the vast ocean of philosophy, I had the line and the plummet always in my hands. Many of its depths I found myself unable to fathom; but, by caution in sounding, and the careful observations I made in the course of my voyage, I found out some truths of so much use to mankind, that they acknowledge me to have been their benefactor.

Bayle. Their ignorance makes them think so. Some other philosopher will come hereafter, and show those truths to be falsehoods. He will pretend to discover other truths of equal importance. A later sage will arise, perhaps among men now barbarous and unlearned, whose sagacious discoveries will discredit the opinions of his admired predecessor. In philosophy, as in nature, all changes its form, and one thing exists by the destruction of another.

Locke, Opinions taken up without a patient investigation, depending on terms not accurately defined, and principles begged without proof, like theories to explain the phenomena of nature, built on suppositions instead of experiments, must perpetually change and destroy one another. But some opinions there are, even in matters not ob vious to the common sense of mankind, which the mind has received on such rational grounds of aș

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »