Page images
PDF
EPUB

He could see consequents yet dormant in their principles, and effects yet unborn and in the womb of their causes : his understanding could almost pierce into future contingents; his conjectures improving even to prophecy, or the certainties of prediction; till his fall it was ignorant of nothing but of sin; or at least rested in the notion without the smart of the experiment. Could any

difficulty have been proposed, the resolution would have been as early as the proposal; it could not have had time to settle into doubt. Like a better Archimedes, the issue of all his enquiries was an έυρηκα an έυρηκα, the offspring of his brain without the sweat of his brow. There was then no poring, no struggling with memory, no straining for invention. His faculties were quick and expedite; they answered without knocking, they were ready upon the first summons, there was freedom and firmness in all their operations. I confess 'tis as difficult for us who date our ignorance from our first being, and were still bred up with the same infirmities about us with which we were born, to raise our thoughts and imagination to those intellectual perfections that attended our nature in the time of innocence, as it is for a peasant bred up in the obscurities of a cottage, to fancy in his mind the unseen splendours of a court. But by rating positives by their privatives, and other arts of reason, by which discourse supplies the want of the reports of sense, we may collect the excellency of the understanding then, by the glorious remainders of it now, and guess at the state

M

liness of the building by the magnificence of its ruins. And certainly that must needs have been very glorious, the decays of which are so admirable. He that is comely, when old and decrepit, surely was very beautiful when he was young. An Aristotle was but the rubbish of an Adam, and Athens but the rudiments of paradise.

PRACTICAL UNDERSTANDING.

“ That parents

The image of God was no less resplendent in that which we call man's practical understanding; namely, that storehouse of the soul, in which are treasured

up the rules of action, and the seeds of morality. Now of this sort are these maxims, 6. That God is to be worshipped.” are to be honoured.” “ That a man's word is to be kept.” It was the privilege of Adam innocent to have these notions also firm and untainted, to carry his monitor in his bosom, his law in his heart. His own mind taught him a due dependence upon God, and chalked out to him the just proportions, and measures of behaviour to his fellow-creatures. Reason was his tutor, and first principles his magna moralia. The decalogue of Moses was but a transcript, not an original. All the laws of nations and wise decrees of state, statutes of Solon, and the twelve tables, were but a paraphrase upon this standing rectitude of nature, this fruitful principle of Justice, that was ready to run out and enlarge itself into suitable determinations upon all emergent objects and oc

the

casions. Justice then was neither blind to discern nor lame to execute. It was not subject to be imposed upon by a deluded fancy, nor yet to be bribed by a glozing appetite, for an utile or jucundum to turn the balance to a false or dishonest sentence. In all its directions of the inferior faculties it conveyed its suggestions with clearness and enjoined them with power; it had the passions in perfect subjection; and though its command over them was but suasive and political, yet it had the force of coaction and despotical. It was not then, as it is now, where the conscience has only power to disapprove and to protest against the exorbitances of the passions, and rather to wish, than make them otherwise. The voice of conscience now is low and weak, chastising the passions, as old Eli did his lustful domineering sons : “ Not so, my sons, not so ;" but the voice of conscience then was not, “ This should, or this ought to be done :” but “ this must, this shall be done.” It spoke like a legislator: the thing spoke was a law : and the manner of speaking it a new obligation.

PERFECTION OF THE WILL.

The will was then ductile and pliant to all the motions of right reason, it met the dictates of a clarified understanding half way.

And the active information of the intellect filling the passive reception of the will, like form closing with matter, grew actuate into a third and distinct perfection of practice : the understanding and will never disagreed, for the proposals of the one never thwarted the inclinations of the other. Yet neither did the will servilely attend upon the understanding, but as a favourite does

upon his prince, where the service is privilege and preferment; or as Solomon's servants waited upon him, it admired its wisdom and heard his prudent dictates and counsels, both the direction and the reward of its obedience. It is indeed the nature of this faculty to follow a superior guide, to be drawn by the intellect; but then it was drawn, as a triumphant chariot, which at the same time both follows and triumphs; while it obeyed this it commanded the other faculties. It was subordinate, not enslaved to the understanding : not as a servant to a master, but as a queen to her king; who both acknowledges a subjection, and yet retains a majesty.

LOVE.

This is the great instrument and engine of nature, the bond and cement of society, the spring and spirit of the universe. It is of that active, restless nature, that it must of necessity exert itself: and like the fire, to which it is so often compared, it is not a free agent to choose whether it will heat

streams forth by natural results, and unavoidable emanations, so that it will fasten upon an inferior, unsuitable object, rather than none at all.t The soul may sooner leave off to subsist,

or no, but

+ Bacon in his Essay of Goodness of Nature says, “The than to love; and like the vine, it withers and dies, if it has nothing to embrace. Now this affection in the state of innocence was happily pitched upon its right object; it flamed up in direct fervours of devotion to God, and in collateral emissions of charity to its neighbour. It was a vestal and a virgin fire, and differed as much from that which usually passes by this name now-a-days, as the vital heat from the burning of a fever.

HATRED

No rancour, no hatred of our brother: an innocent nature could hate nothing that was innocent. In a word, so great is the commutation, that the soul then hated only that, which now only it loves, i. e. sin.

ANGER.

ANGER then was like the sword of Justice, keen, but innocent and righteous. It did not act like fury, and then call it self-zeal. It always espoused God's honour : and never kindled upon anything but in order to a sacrifice. It sparkled like the

inclination to goodness is imprinted deeply in the nature of man, insomuch, that if it issue not towards men, it will take unto other living creatures; as it is seen in the Turks, a cruel people, who nevertheless are kind to beasts, and give alms to dogs and birds ; insomuch, as Busbechius reporteth a Christian boy in Constantinople had like to have been stoned for gagging in a waggishness a long-billed fowl.

« PreviousContinue »