Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

on entering the penetralia of his inner man, it there evinces itself to be indeed a most piercing and enlightened discerner; if, on reading its pages, he is conscious all the while that he is reading the characters of his own soul, and is holding converse with an author whose eye and whose intellect has taken a correct survey of his moral constitution throughout all its hiding places; if, through the consenting testimony of his own heart, every charge brought against man in the Bible is followed up by the conviction that of him at least, and of his heart it is true; if he is sensible that he really is all that the Bible affirms man apart from the transforming influence of its own doctrine to be—that he lives without God and without hope in the world— that, unmindful of the desire of his Maker, he follow's after the desires of his own flesh and his own mindthat, whatever the power may be of civil and natural restraints over his conduct, the direct authority of God has no presiding influence over him—that he neither seeks after his Maker, nor cares to understand Him--that he either dreads God or practically disowns Him, and at all events has no filial confidence or affection towards Him—that self and sense and time are his idols

and that God is too far removed in the distant heavens, and the ultimate enjoyment of His presence too far removed in the distant eternity, to be motives of any ascendancy over the doings or the deliberations of his personal history in the world. If he read all this in the Bible, and conscience respond to it all in his own bosom, then might we not conceive such readings to be so multiplied, and such responses in every

instance to be so accordant with them, as to stamp on this book all the credit of the inspiration which it claims ?

23. There is no wisdom which so commands our reverence, as that which evinces its discernment of man; as that which can enter the recesses of the heart, and there detect all its lurking and unseen tendencies; as that by which our mysterious nature is probed and penetrated, and there are brought out, to the conviction of those who wear it, the lineaments which are actually thereupon engraven.

We must all be sensible of the charm with which we have looked to a picture of human

the fidelity of which we recognize; and also of the homage we render to him who can shrewdly find his way through the ambiguities of the human character, and lay before us in just delineation the various feelings and principles which belong to it. There is no way in which one man could earn from another the credit of a more marvellous sagacity, than by presenting him with a copy of himself that his own conscience told him was true to the originaland that, just in proportion to the number of the lines of resemblance that he introduced, and to the secresy in which they lay wrapt from common or general observation. But in this way, is it possible to conceive, that the marvellous may rise into the miraculous--and, instead of a skilful moralist, may he who thus anatomizes my mental frame and reveals to me its structure and its parts, impress me with the belief of a gifted Apostle ; and whether I hear from his own mouth the divinations that he has practised upon me, or read

it in the authorship that he has left behind him, may I be led to the very exclamation of those early converts to our faith, who felt that the secrets of their hearts had by their teachers been made manifest, and so they fell down upon their face, and worshipped God, and reported that God was in them of a truth.

24. There is a peculiarity which often belongs to the informations of him who tells me that which passes within the limits of my own moral nature, which does not belong to him who tells me of that which passes without the limits either of my consciousness or of my own personal observation. He who relates to me the things which take place at a distance, may relate such things as my eye never saw and my ears never heard of, and which therefore impress me with all the strangeness of novelties, in the truth of which I have no other ground of reliance than the testimony of my informer. He who relates to me the things which take place within the chambers of my own heart, may relate to me such things as I have often felt and daily continue to feel; but they may at the same time be such things as I have always suffered to pass away, without remembrance and without observation. But it is very possible that the thing which I at one time felt, and then instantly forgot, and would have forgotten for ever, may reappear upon the memory, the moment that I am told of it. An acquaintance may remind me of an event which took place on some past day of my existence, that but for his doing so would never again have been present to my thoughts, till the

hour of my departure from the world. By a simple statement of the circumstances, he may bring up again to my most distinct and vivid recollection, that which had long sunk into the abyss of forgetfulness, and but for him might have remained there for ever.

And what is true of a forgotten event in my history, is just as true of many of the forgotten emotions of my heart.

A moralist may recal them to my notice, and I, upon his doing so, may instantly recognize them to have been my emotions; and he may turn them into the materials upon which he announces some principle or general law of my moral nature; and I may be struck with this law as the accurately just expression of what I had often felt, but never till now had reflected upon ; and thus it is, that, while when the traveller relates what is beyond the range of my observation I may have nought to rely on but his testimony, when the moralist relates what passes in the busy receptacle of my own feelings, a thousand recollections may immediately start as it were from the slumbers of oblivion, and be vouchers for him that he is a true discerner. In one sense what he affirms is a novelty--for, though it be all about the daily and familiar processes of my own mind, yet they are such processes as I had never registered, but suffered all along to escape from my consciousness entirely. Yet in another sense, it is not a novelty-for, now that he relates the mental feeling or mental operation, my own memory responds to the truth of it, and I now know to be true that of which I never before noticed the existence—and, though I see in

consequence what I never saw before, yet this is simply because I never looked upon it beforeand, now that I do look upon it, I cannot fail to recognize it as the unregarded companion of many a former day, as the inmate perhaps of my hourly and most familiar experience.

25. Thus it is that one man may diffuse a light over the field of another man's conscience; and guide him to the discernment of things which respect himself, and yet which he never before adverted to ; and attest of him what he has not once observed, but what notwithstanding he on the instant recognizes to be true; and by a succession of bare statements, may gain at every step upon his confidence—for, no sooner does the one relate than the other may recal; and the affirmations of the former may be met by the inward responses of the latter; and as the teacher draws, so to speak, the map of man's moral constitution, the traces which had long faded away from the remembrance of the scholar, may again come forth into visibility. It is thus that one man may not only tell to another such things as respect himself, and which he already knows—but he may also discover to him such things which respect himself and are daily present with him as he does not know. They are the things which he does neither notice at the time, nor remember afterwards—the fugitive sensations which pass through his heart in busy and perpetual career, to which he does not advert himself, but which he would instantly recollect and recognize were another to advert to them. It is this which gives such a charm to the descrip

« ZurückWeiter »