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Bow many bow in worship down to thee,
Thou demon bright, Respectability !
How many in them bear sad hearts, that ache
RICHARD HOWITT, HYMN OF LOVE.
HERE is no Heaven but Love;
Are upheld by its breath,
It makes the weak heart strong,
It claimeth for its own
And vocal to its ear,
It sees a mystic sense-
It maketh women's eyes
The infant on the breast
All the great works of man,
The Poet, in his dreams,
It breathes thrö every prayer,
Or in the secret heart,
And War, and Wrong, and Strife,
And Love, one day, shall reign
G. S. P.
SCEPTICISM AND ITS MANIFESTATIONS.
BY JANUARY SEARLE.
NOME men are born with sceptical minds, and pass their lives in perpetual
doubt and questioning. It seems to be a provision of Nature that such
persons should exist, in order to prevent society from becoming stationary--to save it, in short, from being devoured by its own idols of the state and the temple. For the sceptic is a sort of Mephistopheles standing alone upon the pinnacles of the earth, and dealing, in his own way, with all the problems of government, morals, and religion, utterly regardless of the opinions and prejudices of mankind. To him nothing is sacred, nothing profane. Every thing is brought before the bar of the intellect, and must be decided in that court. He will put up with no nonsense; admit no proposition as absolute; and laughs alike at the dogmas of the theologian, and the conclusions of philosophy. He uproots the most fixed ideas, institutions, and laws, and sets them all afloat. There is nothing which you can affirm on the one hand, that he will not deny with reason on the other. He sees both sides, and makes himself merry with our Cyclopean vision; taunting us with the one eye in our foreheads. He handles Religion like a doll, and treats her highest mysteries as fables of the nursery. The exploits of Jack-the-Giant Killer are as credible to him as the miracles of Jesus. He will have proof; no tradition, no hearsay, no authority, -but rational and convincing argument. On that ground he will meet you, but on no other; for he represents the Intellect, and is its Champion against visionary imaginations. And as this state of scepticism is the permanent condition of some, so is it the evanescent state of all active and progressive minds. We begin by believing everything; but, by and bye, we step over on the other side, facing the old and austere gods of our childhood, and ask them questions which they are too imbecile to answer. Then come doubt and denial ; alternating in some with despair and agony of the spirit. These are succeeded by the siftings and winnowings, the pride and arrogance of the intellect; from which lofty height we are presently precipitated into indifference; and we end in a wise eclecticism, and a deeper and broader faith and reverence than those we set out with.
But there is such a thing as chronic scepticism; or that fixed habitude whereby the mind considers all things, pairs and balances all things; refusing to be put off with shams and one-sided views of subjects, but will hear the evidence on both sides, and judge accordingly. This is the Popery that Protestantism has established ; and which will one day eat it up, as a religious institution. For the Right of Private Judgment, which is the leading canon of Protestantism, includes scepticism, atheism, and all other isms in its charter; and as a recognition, in modern times, of the equality and dignity of man, we cannot be sufficiently grateful to it. We shall consider scepticism, however, not so much as a result of the Protestant Reformation, as a natural manifestation of the mind causal from inherent law, and not contingent. For this is no new thing, that a man should be born of so curious, prying, and obstinate a spirit that he cannot let matters rest as they are, but must put them to the torture, and question them in their agony. It is a very old complaint, to which man bas been subject from the beginning of civilization.
In ancient times, before the true astronomy of heaven was determined and Christianity had built its starry ladder from thence to earth, the Greek and Roman philosophers were accustomed to deal with the problems of human desting, and not a few of them in a sceptical spirit which left little room for mortal hope and those happy consummations which we dream of as belonging to immortality. Man, and bis bighest interests, were fair game to these keen and merciless wits; who prided themselves alike on their knowlege and ignorance, and hunted every question down to its last covering. The gods had made them no revelation either of their own divine nature, or that of man; and this was their excuse for that kind of exercise which they practised. What is truth? was an open question, and nothing certain was known to them. Hence the confusion and conflict of the philosophical heads and theories; and the strife which existed between their various sects and schools. In such a state of things it was natural that scepticism should prevail; and even the high and divine Plato was not wholly free from it. We know things, says he, in dreams; and are ignorant of them in truth. A similar confession was made by Pherecydes, who, when he came to die, wrote as follows to Thales :
'I have given orders to my people, after interment, to carry my writings to thee. If they please thee and the other sages, publish; if not, suppress them. They contain no certainty with which I myself am satisfied. Neither do I pretend to know the truth, or to attain to it. I rather open than discover things.'
In these examples, however, there is more of sorrow at the unsatisfactory result of such long and laborious enquiry, than that proud exultation over the insufficiency of the human intellect to discover truth which we find in the Pyrrhonists. These latter were a sort of dialectic showmen--whose sharp and ready wit could transform the possible into the impossible, and reverse the conjuring at their pleasure. They took great delight in discussion, and were very skilful with their weapons. Whatever was affirmed they denied, and proceeded to shew cause; and if it were denied, they affirmed. Doubting was their prosession-the badge as well as the essence of their philosophy. They feigned to know nothing, to settle nothing; to be neither the friend nor the foe of virtue, or of vice. It was all one to them, God or the Devil. ‘Let us look at things for ourselves,' said they; 'why should we trust the eyes of other people? This Power which you call good, is not absolutely so, but partially, and under certain limitations, and restrictions. If he gives us blessings, so likewise he gives us (urses; if he be beautiful and beneficent in liis manifestations, so is he foul, obscene, and without mercy. Otherwise, what mean these ills to which flesh is heir ? these plagues, scourges, famines, and diseases ? or those fierce and savage beasts that were created for no other purpose than to destroy one another ?' And in this way they set the scal of uncertainty upon all moral