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shall find they exhibit and justify the same conclusions.
I scarcely know of two men, who resembled each other, in the intellectual structure of their minds, more than Joseph Butler and David Hume. Both of them men of genius, fond of abstract discussion; not very imaginative; sagacious, acute, discriminating, and deeply impressed with the fallacy of human reason, and of course inclined to skepticism. Take their minds, as furnished by nature, and they are almost exactly alike. I hardly know which is the greatest doubter. But, to what different results did they come. Hume showed the negative side, and stopped there. He showed the weakness of reason; he had no wish to proceed and show its strength. He pointed out clearly that we must doubt; he had no desire to show when we must believe. Butler proved, as clearly as Hume could, the weakness of our reason; but he went on and completed the whole circle. Hume, when he performed the process of skeptical subtraction, had no purpose of showing that any quantity remained. Butler showed that, after large subtractions, there was much remaining. Hume, in tracing his circle of philosophy, showed us there was a hemisphere of darkness and night. Butler showed as wide a circle, perhaps, of darkness as he; but he showed us, also, a hemisphere of day. The one gave us the half-truths of sophistry, and the other the integrity, or wholeness of true wisdom. There
is a beautiful example of Butler's philosophy, in a single paragraph of his sermon on HUMAN IGNORANCE: 'Creation,' says he, 'is absolutely and entirely out of our depth, and beyond the extent of our utmost reach. And yet, it is as certain, that God made the world, as it is certain that effects must have cause.' What a beautiful specimen of comprehensive truth! Stop at the first paragraph, and you would suppose that the author was about to throw darkness over the creation, and blot out all proofs of the divine existence. But read the second, and you discover that the author fixes one of the fundamental truths of religion on its surest foundation. In short, as some generals begin the battle by a retreat, only to break the ranks of the enemy, and to prepare for a more terrible onset, so such doubters as Butler, state their objections, only more firmly to establish their cause. In such pages, we pass through the night to enjoy the day.
One point more remains to be noticed; and that is, how the Bible corresponds with these laws of the human mind.
It is certain, the Bible requires a strong faith in its truths; and the question is, how such a requisition is consistent with the natural skepticism which all the reflecting must feel, and all, who are ingenuous as well as reflecting, must own.
Strong faith may mean, either the unhesitating assent we give to a presented proposition, or the strong effects or emotions which that proposition awa
kens in the heart. In the second sense, I apprehend there can be no difficulty. For, only once admit that the existence of God is proved, and no language can express the depths of conviction, the sense of his presence, the reverence, love, and humility, which ought to occupy our hearts. So, once admit that the Bible is the word of God, and the most implicit trust in its doctrines is the most natural result. In other words, the truths of the Bible are calculated to produce deep impressions; and, in this sense, strong faith is as much a legitimate result of revelation as deep grief at the sight of a pathetic tragedy. This is the philosophy of the sacred writer, when he said -1 believed, and therefore have I spoken.' But, as to the first sense of strong faith: it seems to me, that if scrutiny, after subtracting doubtful points, leaves the remaining more certain, and if the proofs of revelation do remain after scrutiny, why, then it is natural that this skepticism should lead to a stronger faith. Accordingly, we find that no men have had a deeper conviction of religion than those who have at first questioned or denied its truths. It is exactly the process we should expect. It is as natural as sunrising. A RESOLVED DOUBT IS THE STRONGEST PROOF. Paul began by opposing religion, and ended one of its strongest advocates; and I think, if we could have looked into the mind of Butler, we should have found an amount of faith there which a less scrutinizing
mind could hardly comprehend.* A blown-away fog leaves the ocean sparkling with the purest light.
All this is exactly laid down in the Bible. It completely meets the known laws of the mind. WE SEE THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY. There is a principle of skepticism in every man. The greatest dogmatists sometimes feel it. Some confident conclusions have been overthrown; and the boldest doubt. The Bible justifies this; we see through a glass darkly.
But, in all minds there is a principle of belief. The most skeptical sometimes feel it. It is so unnatural for a man always to hesitate, that he must sometimes conclude. Though the glass is dark, yet through it we SEE. And so, both arcs join, and the circle is complete.
* I speak of faith, here, in the first sense; how strong Butler's emotions were, is another question.
If any ask why roses please the sight?
Because their leaves upon thy cheeks do bower:
Because their blossoms in thy hand do flower:
What reason can we give, but from thine eyes and thee?
THE necessity of faith, or a deep conviction of the. truths of Christianity, has been insisted on, by all theological writers, as the foundation of a holy and consistent life. But, I believe, every one has felt, in some skeptical hour, the wish that his faith might be strengthened by some ocular proof of the Christian religion. We have always seen the laws of nature glide with undeviating uniformity; the sun rises and sets; the spring and the winter return; man is born and dies, with a regularity so constant, and at periods so generally expected, that the course of nature seems like the decree of fate; and a species of naturalism