Page images

Christianity never forgets that slave as well as freeman has inalienable rights, which belong to every being who is endowed with free will and an heir of immortality.

Rightly regarded, a state, or commonwealth, is an association for the preservation of life and property, in the widest sense of the phrase. It is something higher and better than a railway company, or a jointstock bank. It is the family on a larger scale. It does not regulate motives of action, as religion does, simply because it cannot. It is compelled to content itself with the regulation of overt acts, in their bearing on the community; with prescribing and encouraging such as tend to the general welfare, preventing and punishing such as are injurious. Where the state attempts, as with the Wababees, to do more than this, and to interfere with the conscience of the individual, the result, as experience proves again and again, is an immoral conformity.

It would be superfluous for our present purpose to dwell long on ancient philosophy in its connexion with rhetoric and poetry. Yet it would be an omission to pass by these subjects, without a tribute to the rare acuteness and perspicacity which. Aristotle displays here as always. Logic, he saw, stripped of the adventitious considerations which disguised it, is purely and simply the art of reasoning. Rhetoric, he saw, is the art of persuading. The one is of fact, the other of action; the one of the past, the other of the future; the one is concerned only with what is ; the other with what we wish for, choose, approve ; the basis of the one is the sensation, that “This is like that;' the basis of the other is the sensation This I like better than that.' The one is a work of the intellect solely, the other of intellect biassed by the passions. Logic is, in itself, a science invariable as mathematics, for it deals with things invariable so far as they exist already, and by invariable laws. Logic indeed would be as exact as mathematics, if it inight always use figures for words; if words were as unvarying in their signification as numbers are. Rhetoric aims at influencing the will, variable and mutable as the wind; it treats of results uncertain as yet, however probable, because hidden in futurity; it draws its arguments from motives at which it can only guess, because they are latent in the breasts of those on whom it pours the tide of its eloquence. Logic convinces; rhetoric persuades; logic proves that a thing is; rhetoric that the hearers ought to make it so to be. It might be expected beforehand that a speech, for instance, on the repeal of the Corn-laws, or in recommendation of a new Budget, would be as drily logical, as a problem in Euclid. But, when human interests are at stake, human emotions insist on having a sbare in the argument: and in the hands of a consummate orator, the speech, instead of being a mere didactic exposition of arithmetical

Logic solely, theetter than that basis of

mathematics, ens.

be eal of the rily logica hu

withetter. For" poetry. Indeesense, it

calculations, glows with the earnestness of moral persuasion. In short, rhetoric is to logic as the statue is to the skeleton, as the draped figure is to the nude. It is logic adorned or disguised, as the case may be. In the hands of an eloquent and honest speaker, it is reasoning invested with all its charms. In the hands of a low pettifogger it can only whisper: 'No case ; abuse the plaintiff's attorney.

There is only space for a very few words on the ancient theory of the poetic art. The old definition of poetry as imitation has often been disputed: and it is argued by Bishop Hampden and others, that this definition comes from the drama being the most prominent form of poetry in ancient Greece, and from all the scenic embellishments of the stage. But, if the word may be taken in a wider sense, it may fairly be admitted as a definition of poetry. Indeed it would not be easy to invent a better. For poetry is an attempt to interpret the world without man in accordance with the emotions within him struggling for utterance, and invoking the sympathy of nature. As philosophy attempts to introduce a logical order and unity into what would otherwise be a chaos, so poetry—with more impetuosity than precision, attempts to reconcile the passions which give it birth with all that is presented to them from without; it attempts even, in its own illogical way, not always without success, for even in this life glimpses are allowed of the intuitiveness which, like the electric flash, lights the sky from pole to pole—to appease the endless strife of passion with intellect. In this sense poetry is imitative; by the rapidity and vividness of its analogies, it presents the abstractions of thought as living, moving things before the eye, and brings them home to the heart. Imagination and fancy are the synthesis of intellect and emotion. When the intellectual element prevails, we call it fancy; when there is more of feeling and less of ingenuity we call it imagination. This imitativeness, or quick perception of even a superficial resemblance, is the very essence of poetry. A poet may always be tested by his metaphors. And it is through this power of reproducing things without and things within that poetry, according to Aristotle, purifies the soul by exciting pity and terror.

In whatever direction we turn, with the one exception of physical science, and even there occasionally, we find the ancient philosophy of Greece bequeathing to modern times a priceless legacy of truth. No nation ever undertook the study of philosophy more richly equipped with all appliances for such a work. It may safely be asserted, that no nation has ever surpassed the Greek in that exquisitive sensitiveness of the physical organization which is the first requisite of genius ;. no nation has ever

copiness the with eascal, or the master proof Chical systeind a

supersede metaphysicer that mode philosophy

had at its command a language so peculiarly framed by the copiousness of its resources, and by the delicacy of its touch, to express the fine and impalpable distinctions of philosophy clearly and with ease. It is no wonder that modern treatises, whether ethical, logical, or metaphysical, however valuable they may be, fail to supersede the masterpieces of ancient Athens. Where these fail, there the teaching of Christianity supplies what is wanting; not indeed as a philosophical system, for its Divine Founder did not descend from Heaven to found a new school of philosophy, but so far as man needs a clearer light along his pathway through this life to something better. We may learn from Socrates not to expect a revelation more than is really needful for beings in a state of transit and probation. Socrates taught his followers to consult the oracle not about such things as they could learn for themselves by patient study, but about such things only as could not be known except by a direct revelation. It were better both for religion and science, if this distinction were not so often overlooked as it is on both sides. Where philosophy can give us the truth which we are in search of let us accept it thankfully. We may regret that to a philosopher of ancient Greece the soul was merely the intellect; and that the only immortality which he could ever imagine as possible, was of the most impersonal and shadowy kind; but we cannot wonder. It was a corollary of the doctrine that the Deity was only a name for the soul of the universe. A good and thoughtful man in those days had simply to choose between such impersonations of vice and folly as were the deities 1 of the vulgar mythology, and a mere abstraction, a being at any rate far too superior in goodness and power to take any notice of men. The prayer of the philosopher, if even the ineradicable instinct of prayer forced its way upward from his soul, would naturally be

* Thou Great First Cause, least understood.' Or if in thought the philosopher could raise himself to the conception of a Person in whom the attributes of divinity might worthily reside, he would still be offering his homage to an. Unknown God,'

"To One, by many names adored,

Jehovah, Jove, or Lord.' We have endeavoured to show that not even the Fathers of Greek Philosophy could conceive, much less embody, in their lives, the perfect holiness, the entire self-renunciation which can spring from no other source than devotion to a God perfect in His own holiness, and yet condescending to identify Himself with His creatures, by the sacrifice of Himself for their sake. The teaching of these great and wise men tends, as we have seen, to establish the fundamental truth that there is a right and wrong in morals, which no perversity of scepticism can annihilate. It bears witness to the yearnings of the soul for something external to itself, and superior to itself, to confirm, purify, and elevate this implicit sense of duty. It pourtrays to itself, dimly indeed, faintly, and imperfectly, such a Being as the incarnate Saviour for the only worthy object of its reverence and love. Like a king on his deathbed, it points with faltering hand to the successor who shall ascend the vacant throne; or rather, in the full glory of its meridian, it resigns its crown and sceptre to the rightful Lord of Humanity, whose kingdom shall have no end.'

1 The word “Erastianism' is too often misapplied to any interference of the State with things spiritual. Paganism was Erastianism ; for the State made the religion for the people, and was in fact the Church.


Art. V.- The Reign of Law. By the Duke of ARGYLL.

Second Edition. London: Alexander Strahan. 1867. Why should Science and Religion be at war? Why should philosophers and theologians be supposed to dwell in hostile camps ? Why should it be so often taken for granted that between the natural and the supernatural there must be an irreconcilable antagonism ; and so give excuse to reckless reasoners to deduce from this assumption the corollary, that belief in the supernatural is a superstition fast fading away with the night of ignorance, and that knowledge of the natural is the only true light which shall ultimately take possession of the intellectual firmament? These questions, or questions such as these, are asked and answered, and asked again in our day, with, it must be confessed, more frequency than satisfaction.' And yet there is a solution of them which requires no very abstruse investigation to reach. The history of religion and the history of science each contributes its share, and their joint contributions furnish a complete answer. That truth is both everlasting and self-consistent is a statement which insults our understandings by offering them a truism; nevertheless, the occasion of all the conflicts between theology and philosophy is the ignorance, or at least the oblivion, of this truism. The language of the learned and the wise is never more exalted and self-sufficient than when it meets inquirers, and repels objectors, by a lofty reference to abstract principles ; but this fondness for abstraction, as for a dignified retreat in which may always be found repose from troublesome questions, has not had that good effect upon those who entertain it which we have a right to look for. The one thing which it would have been of priceless value if the learned and wise had always been careful to remember in the abstract, is truth itself. This they have a most provoking tendency to regard only in the concrete; and the consequence is, that the atmosphere of controversy rings with cries of scientific truths on the one hand, and of religious truths on the other, as though they were marshalled in battle array, and the din of the conflict drives the bystander to ask more in despair than in hope, “ What is truth?”

The effect of this exclusive attention to truth in the concrete is to bring about a schism in truth itself, to divide truth against itself, to destroy the unity of truth. Of course, this effect is only wrought in appearance, and with respect to the oppositions

« PreviousContinue »