« AnteriorContinuar »
side of the tapestry? We admire the individual colors of the strands, but there is no portraiture, no design. The same discord is in the writings of Robert Burns, of whom we have lately heard so much ; where a noble sentiment, an exquisite thought, jostles a mountebank jest, or wretched equivoque. The brightest genius, without spiritual life, is devoid of unity, and almost of personality ; we sometimes doubt if we are reading the words of the same men, for in truth the power which has them in possession is “Legion.” And this results from the nature of things; for the intellect deals with parts of truth and accommodates itself to them. The study of the stars is wholly independent of the study of plants; and music assists us not in geology. But in spiritual life all virtues are correlate; and no sooner does one virtue trench upon another, and merge its influence, than disorder begins, and the symmetry of Christian integrity is at an end. "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, is guilty of all."
(3) We found that in the material world the organic functions precede the animal,—the former alone being transmitted and the latter elaborated therefrom ; the commencement of their activity constituting the natural birth. So in the immaterial world the intellectual must precede the spiritual ; for there must be a certain amount of knowledge gained, & certain power of thought, reflection and judgment acquired, before the young mind can refuse the evil and choose the good. All spiritual agency is directed to a pre-supposed intelligence, whose attention is challenged, and to whose judg. ment the appeal is made of religious instincts, or moral dispositions, which are sometimes discernible in earliest childhood, we shall speak presently. Then again, as regards transmission, religious (or spiritual) life cannot be directly inculcated, as can intellectual; it is not the mere result of didactic discipline, and educational culture. We can impart intellectual information, we can school each other in philosophic exercises, but we cannot impart spiritual tastes, emotions, desires, and sympathies ; for these are “born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of 'man, but of God.” And their development constitutes the new, or second, birth.
Hence: (4) As the organic functions can act apart from the animal, so may the highest intellectual life be found without the spiritual. A sad spectacle of “arrested development," of abortive growth, to be found in all ages, and in all climes. “When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful.”
(5) The fifth position laid down with regard to organic and animal life was the distinct design and end of each :-that of the former being nutrition, and that of the latter actual enjoyment. Here, too, the analogy is sufficiently striking. For are not the intellectual functions, in the world of thought, the exact antitypes of the organic in the world of matter? As we found the latter employed in taking up foreign particles and incorporating them with their own vitality, repairing the waste of attrition and holding in check the chemical laws of universal matter, so we see the mind—the intelligent principle-continually taking up ideas, and retaining them, and incorporating them with its own individual habits of thought, repairing the waste of forgetfulness, and overcoming the natural obstacles to its search after the true, the real, and the perfect. And this, too, for an end beyond itself; even happiness, which lies in the spiritual life. Moreover, as the end of animal life is pleasing sensation, carried on by communication between its sensorium and the objects which surround it, and which go to form the system of which itself is a part, so in like manner the end of spiritual life is a conscious felicity effected by communion of the soul with the Infinite Spirit, who surrounds it, and of whom it is the inspiration. We note also that as the sentient faculties are always found in connexion with a set of motor nerves and voluntary muscles, by the exercise of which sensation is facilitated to the individual and evidenced to the spectator, so the inward, unseen, reality of spiritual life is ever found united with outward voluntary action, by which it is at once cherished in the soul and manifested to the world. “By works is faith made perfect.”
We further remarked under this head that both organic and animal life have respectively a vehicle of nutrition and sensation, pre-eminently their own; namely, bread and light. Now the analogues of these are truth and love. Thus He who declared Himself “the bread from heaven,” said also, “I am the truth ;” and as it is said “God is light,” so is it elsewhere said, "God is love;" and it would be remarkable should it be found that these two latter phrases are the only scriptural instances where the Divine character is put by a bold and most emphatic metonomy for the Divine essence.
“ Love is the fulfilling of the law.”
(6) As the evils attendant on organic and animal life are in each case twofold,-intrinsic and extrinsic, so with intellectual and spiritual life.
Our intellect suffers from the intrinsic evil of ignorance, and from the extrinsic evil of misapprehension; and our spiritual life again has its inward evil of depravity and its outward evil of temptation. By the former we become obnoxious to disastrous impulse, and in the latter we receive that impulse. And it is worthy of remark that, as mental ignorance is not simply a negation, but is ever the source of distorted views and fallacious reasoning, so native depravity is not a mere negation, nor latent capacity for evil, but continually assumes the force of direct temptation. “Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
Here, then, we arrive at the same point in our investigation of the two phases of immaterial life at which we left that of their material types. Before proceeding further, the subject of instincts claims a passing notice.
Instincts belong to that class of vital phenomena in which the functions of a higher nature are performed by a lower ; not by virtue of the proper faculties of that lower nature, but by specific energies (vitae propriæ implanted (instincta)
that particular purpose by the Creator. Thus it was necessary for the performance of the organic functions that their parts should possess a certain sensibility and power of independent action ;—but they do not thereby become animal. For their excitability depends not upon perception, and will even continue in some cases after death. The heart of a frog, being immersed in water immediately after excision, has been seen to give a series of pulsations, as though this artificial stimulus were equivalent to that supplied by the blood during life. Again ; it was necessary that animal life should in some cases execute volitions which are, in rational creatures, the results of intelligence. By such unreasoning instinct the bee builds her cell, and the swallow performs her migrations. Finally, it was necessary for the conservation of humanity in the world, that the intellect should possess some moral sympathies, which in their perfect state are the fruits of spiritual vitality. Such are the love of the beautiful, the conscience or sense of rectitude, the concern about an existence after death, and the entire class of social affections. If the human mind had been left to roam at will in the regions of the possible and the desirable, without these guidances and restraints, the effect would evidently have been too rapidly suicidal to have allowed of that moral probation which the Creator designs. Now these instincts, when favorably developed, constitute “ good nature," "amiable disposition," and the like; but a little consideration shows us that their possessors may be as destitute of spiritual life as the bee is of mathematical knowledge. For :
(1) These instinctive dispositions, unlike the true spiritual fanctions, are oblique, irregular, and one-sided in their operations. They are indeed specific powers, good only for their particular purpose, not parts of one symmetrical and uniform whole. Thus may we see a man figure as a generous benefactor of public charities, while his dependents are the victims of his unscrupulous parsimony; another will pride himself on his conscientiousness, while destitute of humility; and a third will merge correct principle in a maudlin charity.
All these exhibit the characteristic blindness of instinct, and are the very analogues of the heart pulsating in water, or the careful hen mistaking a piece of chalk for an egg.
(2) As honey-combs preceded geometry by many centuries, and swallows migrated across continents before the Phænician ships had crept through the Pillars of Hercules, so these moral instincts do often attain an elevation which, in other minds, spiritual life itself fails to equal. A bene. volent worldly man will give more by instinct, than a penurious Christian gives from a sense of Christ's love. The difference is not in the actions, but in the motives ; and these differ as widely as the heaven is high above the earth.”
If the analogy, which we have attempted to trace, be sound, it conducts us to this great truth :-As the end of organic life is to elaborate the animal, so the end of intellectual life is to work out the spiritual. When, therefore, intellect wilfully stops short of religion, it is an abortion, a monstrous growth, which the Creator refuses to recognize as His offspring, turns from with abhorrence, and consigns to UTTER DARKNESS,—the region of chaos, confusion, and death; where, cut off from the living universe, as a mortified limb is amputated from the trunk, it sinks into the “ gulph of things which might have been, but never were.”
It is evident from the constitution of man, that the material parts of his nature must ultimately suffer, or benefit, in company with the immaterial; for as the organic functions subserve the animal, so, in man, the animal life subserves the intellectual, which, again, has for its end the spiritual. The spiritual life is therefore the end, aim, and object, of humanity; -failing which, the Creator has no purpose (so to speak) in continuing the subordinate vitalities : inasmuch as it is not the part of wisdom to continue the means in operation, when the end has become unattainable by them. Hence he who is destitute of spiritual life is counted dead before God, however highly developed the subordinate classes of life may be in him; and hence the loss of spiritual life in Adam was emphatic and absolute death, according to the Divine threaten