« VorigeDoorgaan »
and evil. This fact of a law in man's na- | could be no responsibility, and therefore no ture which opposes the law of God, is not sense of guilt. And he sought to show that only a fact, but a mystery, of which no other it is an evil self-originated in the will; a solution than the statement of the fact is fact mysterious, not to be explained, but to possible. For consider: Sin to be sin is be felt by each man in his conscience as bis evil originating in, not outside of the will. own deed. Therefore, in the confession of And what is the essence of the will? It is his faith, he said :a self-determining power, having the original ground of its own determination in it- “I believe (and hold it a fundamental article self; and if subject to any cause from with- of Christianity) that I am a fallen criature; out, such cause must have acquired this that I am myself capable of moral evil, but not power of determining the will. by a previous of myself capable of moral good; and that an determination of the will itself. This is the evil, ground existed in my will previously to any very essence of a will. And herein it is given act, or assignable moment of time, in my contra-distinguished from nature, whose own consciousness. I am born a child of wrath. essence it is to be unable to originate any stand. I cannot even conceive the possibility
This fearful mystery I pretend not to underthing, but to be bound by the mechanism of it, but I know that it is so. My conscience, of cause and effect. If the will has by its the sole fountain of certainty, commands me to own act subjected itself to nature, has re- believe it, and would itself be a contradiction ceived into itself from nature an alien influ- were it not so; and what is real must be possience which has curtailed its freedom, in so ble.” far as it has done so, it has corrupted itself. This is original sin, or sin originating in the And the sequel of the same confession only region in which it can originate — the thus goes on :Will. This is a fa'l of man.
You ask, When did this fall take place ? “ I receive, with full and grateful faith, the Has the will of each man chosen evil for assurance of revelation that the Word, which itself ; and, if so, when? To this Coleridge is from eternity with Goil, and is God, aussmed would reply that each individual will has so our human nature, in order to redeem me and chosen; but as to the when, the will belongs all mankind trom this our connate corruption. to a region of being,
My reason convinces me that no other mode of is part of an order redemption is possible.
I believe that of things, in which time and space have no this assumption of humanity by the Son of God meaning; that " the sunject stands in no re
was revealed and realized to us by the Word lation to time, can neither be called in time maile flesh, and manifested to us in Jesus or out of time; but that all relations of time Christ, and that his miraculous birth, his agony, are as alien and heterogeneous in this ques- his crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascention as north or south, round or square, sion, were all both symbols of our redemption, thick or thin, are in the affections."
and necessary facts of the awful process. Again you ask, With whom did sin originate? And Coleridge replies, The grounds Such was his belief in 1816, marking how of will on which it is true of any one man great a mental revolution he must have are equally true in the case of all men. The gone through since the days whe
he was a fact is assisted of the individual, not because Unitarian preacher. The steps of that he has done this or that particular evil art, change ho has himself but partially recordbut simply because he is man. It is impos- ed. But the abandonment of the Hartsible for the individual to say that it com- leian for a more ideal philosophy, the blight menced in this or that act, at this or that that fell on his manhood, his sufferings, and time. As he cannot trace it back to any sense of inner misery, then the closer study particular moment of his life, neither can of the Bible in the light of his own need, he state any moment at which it did not and growing intercourse with the works of exist. As to this fact, then, what is true of the elder divines, all these were parts at any one man is true of all men. For, " in least of the process. But whatever may respect of original sin, each man is the rep- have wrought this change, no one who resentative of all men.”
knows anything of Coleridge can doubt Such, nearly in his own words, was the that in this, as in opinions of lesser import, way in which "Coleridge sought, while fully he was influenced only by the sincerest acknowledging this fact, to construe it to desire for truth. Great as may have been himself, so as to get rid of those theories his moral defects — fallen, as he may have which make it an infliction from without, a fallen, in some of the homeliest duties, even calamity, a hereilitary disease ; for which, below common men, this at least must be however much sorrow there might be, there conceded to him, that he desired the truth, hungered and thirsted for it, pursued it with of the Mosaic law, his civil stain was cleared a life-long earnestness, rare even among the away by the ceremonial offering of the best men. In this search for truth, and in priest; or the reconciliation of the sinner his declaration of it when found, self-inter- to God, as the prodigal son is reconciled to est, party feeling, friendship, had no place the parent whom he has injured; or the with him. He had come to believe in some satisfying of a debt by the payment of the sort in a Trinity in the Godhead, and ad- sum owed to the creditor ; or the ransommitted more or less the personality of the ing, the bringing back from slavery, by Logos, for some time before he returned payment of the price for the slave. These fully to the Catholic faith. The belief in four figures describe, each in a different the Incarnation and the Redemption by the way, the result of the great redemptive act Cross, as historical facts, were the stumbling- on sinful man. This is their true meaning. blocks which last disappeared. Therefore They are figures intended to bring home to his final conviction on this subject, as record- man in a practical way the nature and the ed in the Aids to Reflection, is the more greatness of the benefit. Popularly they are worthy of regard, as being the last result of transferred back to the mysterious cause, one who had long resisted, and only after but they cannot be taken as if they really profound reflection submitted himself to, and adequately described the nature of that this faith. He there lays down, that as sin cause, without leading to confusions. Debt, is the ground or occasion of Christianity, so satisfaction, payment in full, are not terms by Redemption is its superstructure; that Re- which the essential nature of the atoning act, demption and Christianity are equivalent and its necessity, can be literally and adeterms. From this he does not attempt to quately expressed. If, forgetting this, we take remove the awful mystery, but only to clear these expressions literally, and argue trom away any objections which may spring out them, as if they gave real intellectual inof the moral instincts of man against the sight into the nature and mode of that common interpretation of the doctrine. greatest of all mysteries, we are straightThese are the only difficulties that deserve way landed in moral contradictions. The
nature of the redemptive act, as it is in In the Redemption, the agent is the itself, is not to be compassed nor uttered by Eternal Word made flesh, standing in the the language of the human understanding. place of man to God, and of God to man, Such, as nearly as we can give it, was Colefulfilling all righteousness, suffering, dying, ridge's thought upon this awful mystery. and so dying as to conquer death itself, and Whatever may be thought of these views, for all who shall receive him. The redemp- one thing is to be observed, that Coleridge tive or atoning act of this divine Agent has did not propound them with any hope of two sides - - one that looks Godward, the explaining a subject which he believed to other that looks manward. The side it turns be beyond man's power of explanation, but Godward — that is, the very essence of this from the earnest desire to clear away moral act, the cause of man's redemption — is “a hindrances to its full acceptance. Such spiritual and transcendent mystery which hindrances he believed that human theolopasseth all understanding; its nature, gies, in their attempts to systematize this mode, and possibility transcend man's com- and other doctrines of Scripture, were from prehension. But the side that it turns man- time to time piling up. It was his enward that is, the effect toward the re- deavour, whether successful or not, in what deemed — is most simply, and without he wrote on this and on every other metaphor, described, as far as it is compre- religious subject, to clear away these binhensible by man, in St. John's words, as the drances, and to place the truth in a light being born anew; as at first we were born which shall commend itself to every man's in the flesh to the world, so now born in the conscience, a light which shall be consistent Spirit to Christ. Christ was made a quick- with such fundamental Scriptures as these : ening, that is, a life-making Spirit. This “ I, the Lord, speak righteousness, I declare Coleridge believed to be the nearest, most things that are right;" “God is light, and immediate effect on man of the transcendent in him is no darkness at all.” Since his redemptive act. Closely connected with day, men's thoughts have been turned to this first, most immediate effect, are other consider the nature of the atonement, as consequences, which St. Paul has described perhaps they never did before. There is by four principal metaphors. These conse- one view, of late years advocated in quences, in reference to the sinner, are various forms, which regards the atonement either the taking away of guilt, as by a as merely the declaration or exhibition of great sin-offering, just as, to the transgressor | God's love to sinners, which by its moral
power awakens them to repentance, and and peace between a godless disregard of takes away. the estrangement of their the unique and transcendent character of hearts. This is no doubt part of the truth, the Bible taken generally, and that scheme but it falls far short of satisfying either of interpretation, scarcely less adverse to man's deeper moral instincts, or those many the pure spirit of Christian wisdom, which passages of Scripture which declare Christ's wildly arrays our faith in opposition to our death to be the means of the forgiveness of reason, and inculcates the sacrifice of the man's sin. Such interpretations, if taken latter to the former, that to suppress this for the whole, leave out of account the important part of his solemn convictions
more behind,” which Scripture seems to would be to misrepresent and betray him.” bear witness to, and man's conscience to Having given the fullest scope to his own feel. They take no account of that bear- inquiries on all subjects, yet in a spirit of ing which Christ's death bas toward God, reverence, he wished others to do the same, and which Coleridge, while he held it to be believing this to be a condition of arriving at incomprehensible, fully believed to exist. assured convictions of truth. He was full of On this great question, the nature of the wise and large-hearted tolerance - not that atoning act in its relation to God, some tolerance, so common and so worthless, which meditations have, since Coleridge's time,' easily bears with all opinions, because it been given to the world, which, if they go earnestly believes none— but that tolerance, farther, seem yet in harmony with that attained but by few, which, holding firmly which Coleridge thought. We aliude to by convictions of its own, and making conMr. Campbell's profound work On The science of them, would neither coerce nor Atonemnt, which, though it does not fully condemn those who most strongly deny meet all the difficulties, goes further toward them. Heresy he believed to be an error, satisfying at once the expressions of Scrip- not of the head, but of the heart. He disture and the requirements of conscience tinguished between that internal faith than
any other theologian we know of has which lies at the base of religious character, done.
and can be judged of only by God, and Such are a few samples of Coleridge's that belief with regard to facts and doctheological method and manner of thinking. trines, in which good men may err without In the wish to set them forth in something moral obliquity. His works abound with of a systematic order, we have done but such maxims as this: “ Resist every false scanty justice to the fulness and the prac- doctrine ; but call no man heretic. The tical earnestness which pervades the Aids false doctrine does not necessarily make to Reflection, and have given no notion at the man a heretic; but an evil heart can all of the prodigality of thought with which make any doctrine heretical.” his other works run over. It were vain to These are a few of the contemplations hope that any words of ours could give an with which Samuel Taylor Coleridge impression of that marvellous range of busied himself during the threescore years vision, that richness, that swing, that light of his earthly existence. For more than ning of genius. Besides his works already thirty years now he has been beyond them, noticed, his Lay Sermons with their Appen- inheritor of higher visions, but these he has dices, and his Literary Remains, are a very left behind for us to use them as we may. quarry of thought, from which, more than And since, while men are here, they must any other books we know, young and re- needs, if they think at all, sometimes look flecting readers may dig wealth of unex- up to those heights of thought, it may be hausted ore. Time forbids us to enter on doubted whether, for persons philosophically them here. Neither can we do more than disposed, our age and country has produced merely allude to those remarkable letters, any abler guide. Those who remember published after his death, in which Cole- what Coleridge was to their youth, may fear ridge approaches the great question of the lest in their estimate of him now they inspiration of Scripture. Arnold recog- should seem to be mere praisers of the past, nized their appearance as marking an era and yet, if they were to call him the greatin theology the most important that had est thinker whom Britain has during this occurred since the Reformation; and the century produced, they would be but interval that has since passed has fully veri- stating the simple truth. For if any should fied the prediction. To the views of Serip- gainsay this, we should ask, Whom would ture there propounded Coleridge himself you place by his side? What one man attached much importance. In the words would you name who has thrown upon the of his nephew, “he pleaded for them so world so great a mass of original thinking, earnestly, as the only middle path of safety has contributed so many new thoughts
on the most important subjects ? His mind work mainly where Coleridge left it. In was a very seed-field of ideas, of which the foundations laid, and the materials colmany bave gone to enrich the various de- lected by Coleridge, he will find the best partments of thought, literary, philosophical, helps which British thought affords towards political
, and religious; while others still lie building up the much-needed edifice of a embedded in his works, waiting for those spiritual philosophy. And not for the who may
still turn them to use. And all philosophy only, but for the general literahe wrote was in the interest of man's higher ture and the politics of our time, what nature, true to his best aspirations. The words of admonition would he have had, if one effort of all his works was to build up he had been still present with us! In his truth from the spiritual side. He brought own day the oracles of Liberalism reserved all his transcendent powers of intellect to for him their bitterest raillery, and he rethe help of the heart, and soul, and spirit paid them with contempt.
He would of man against the tyranny of the under- hardly, we imagine, have been more popustanding, that understanding which ever lar with the dominant Liberalism of our strives to limit truth within its own definite time, nor would he have accorded to it much conceptions, and rejects whatever refuses greater respect. Before the intellectual to square with these. This side of philoso- idols of the hour, whatever names they phy, as it is the deepest, is also the most bear, he would not, we conceive, very difficult to build up. Just as in bridging readily have bowed down. Rither he some broad river, that part of the work would have shown to them their own shortwhich has to be done by substructions and comings, as seen in the light of a more piers beneath the water is much more catholic and comprehensive wisdom. Who laborious and important, while it strikes can doubt this, when he regards either the much less upon the senses, than the arches spirit of his works, so deep-thoughted and which are reared in open daylight; so the reverent, so little suited for popularity, or side of truth which holds by the seen and the attitude in which he stood towards all the tangible, which never quits clear-cut con- the arbiters of praise in his own genceptions, and refuses to acknowledge what- eration ? ever will not come within these, is much Above all, Coleridge was a great religious more patent and plausible, and, in this philosopher, and by this how much is country, at least, is more likely to command meant ! Not a religious man and a the suffrages of the majority. The advo- philosopher merely, but a man in whom cates of this doctrine esperienced for a these two powers met and interpenetrated. time a brief reaction, caused by the influ. There are instances enough in which the ence of Coleridge; for one generation he two stand opposed, mutually denouncing turned the tide against them; but again each other; instances too there are in they are mustering in full force, and bid fair which, though not opposed, they live apart, to become masters of the position. Their the philosophy unleavened by the religion. chief teachers have for some time, by the How rare have the examples, at least merits, it must be owned, of their works, in modern times, been, in which the most become all but paramount in the most original powers of intellect and iinagination, ancient seats of learning. In Oxford, for the most ardent search for truth, and the instance, the only two living authors, a largest erudition, have united with reveknowledge of whose works is imperatively rence and simple Christian faith - the required of candidates for highest honours, heart of the child with the wisdom of the belong to this school. And there is no sage! Ile who has left behind him a counteracting authority speaking from the philosophy, however incomplete in which opposite, that is, the spiritual side of philos- these elements harmoniously combine, has ophy, because no such living voice is done for his fellow-men the highest service amongst us. Whenever such a thinker human thinker can, has helped to lighten shall arise, he will have to take up the the burden of the mystery.
From Fraser's Magazine. know, has confessed that his earliest ambiFICTION AND ITS USES.
tion was to be a coachman. And if this
fantastic dream budded and blossomed A FRIEND of the writer's is engaged on a (never to come to fruitage) in the brain of work of great importance, entitled The a future mathematician and college-fellow, Philosophy of Fiction, which he has declar- shall we wonder if gentle maidens dream ed it will take at least three thousand years sometimes of that wonderful prince to come to complete, with a century or two more to from fairy land, on whom leaning they may be allowed for unforeseen delays in the pub- go across the purple mountain-rims into the lication. The proportion of fiction to truth, great world beyond ? These are fictions he maintains, in the philosophies, religions, beautiful and pure. Alas for many in no amusements, employments, conversations, way beautiful! Imaginary charai ters we speeches, newspapers, and advertisements make out for our acquaintance, which form of the world, justifies this calculation. He the hypotheses explaining all their words has often asserted that all the great truths and deeds, characters not to be admired — of life were long ago discovered, and were the nod or hint pregnant with its malignant known as well to Plato as to Descartes or lie — cowardly assentation - and idle and Locke, while it still remains to understand slanderous tongues which bring that cloud and generalize the great falsehoods; and between faces, and that hollowness into be believes that the happiness of mankind friendly voices in place of the glad, confiwould be furthered by bringing clearly into dent morning-feeling - trusl. Well
, these the light those “vain opinions, flattering fictions assuredly have their uses, for they hopes, false valuations, unrestrained imagina- are so
put under foot, tions and groundless fears” which obscurely and crushed ; they may also beget a noble occupy the minds of men. Without following autarkeia, self-sufficiency, or nobler sufficienthese ingenious speculations to an extreme, cy of duty. may we not perceive how much they contain But this essay is not to be a Philosophy of truth? Did we not all begin the world as of Fiction. It merely hints at the vastness romancers, and compose each of us a par- of the subject, and retreats to its own narlour library of novels, domestic, naval, or row plot of ground. There are certain books military, before we had even seen afar off beloved at watering-places, by home the stern realities of long division, orthog- firesides, and even in the “pensive citadels" raphy, or syntax? We began authorship of students — which, though forming a less when the pinafores and frocks were very important branch of fiction than many othsmall indeed, and it was not till the silver ers (than the fables convenues of social life, age of our childish imaginings that we could or of history, for instance), have yet been not trust in our dreams without the tangi- bolder than the others, have appropriated ble confirmation of drum or boat or doll. the name, and professed themselves to be not Those works of ours are shelved now, and true, but what at least is very pleasantsomewhat dusty, in the Bodleian Library new : fictions but withal novels. Let the of dreamland, but our places have been ta- reader who would hear something about ken by the little lads and lasses of to-day, these read on. and they are doubtless as full of literary ac- It was Sydney Smith who required for tivity as we, their superannuated predeces- perfect happiness an arm-chair and slippers, sors, ever were. Two serious eyes fixed on the a kettle singing its undersong on the fire, red hollows of the fire, and two still hands a paper of sugar-plums on the mantel-piece, gathered together on the boy's lap; that and in his hand a novel. And he rightly slight, girlish figure, motionless in the win- enounced the principle on which the novel, dow for half an hour while the shadows are at least under such circumstances, should falling — these tell us that the romances are be chosen, when he declared that its first making rapid progress, and that the chapters function was to entertain us, to amuse us, are of enthralling interest. How much we to give us agreeable relaxation. Nor let should like to hear one of these tales quite such entertainment be counted a trivial through! You should not wish to know the gain. Our health and sanity depend on it. man who could laugh in a contemptuous Half an hour's overwork often is enough way at any of them. They would come to to make your entire evening an unhappy us like echoes of half-forgotten melodies, or It leaves you fretful and impatient, like a friend's reminder of the pictures that morbidly sensitive, cross.
You find the rehung upon the walls of the house where we marks of your friends and relatives for that were children. A writer of certain grave evening miserably unphilosophic, paltry, and notable books, which all men of science I personal; the gossip of your sisters-in-law