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THOMAX CHALMERS. 1780–1847. (Manual, p. 465.)
From “Tur BRIDGEWATER TREATISE.” 340. Tue Joy op Goop, and THE MISERY OF EVIL AFFECTIONS.
God is the lover, and, because so, the patron or the rewarder of virtue. le hath no constituted our nature, that in the very flow and exercine of the good affections there shall be the oil of gladness. There is instant delight in the first conception of benevolence; there is sustained delight in its continued exercise; there is consummated
delight in the happy, smiling, and prosperous result of it. Kindness, and honesty, and truth, are of themselves, and irrespective of their rightness, sweet unto the taste of the inner man.
Malice, envy, falsehood, injustice, irrespective of their wrongness, have, of themselves, the bitterness of gall and wormwood. The Deity hath annexed a high mental enjoyment, not to the consciousness only of good affections, but to the very sense and feeling of good affections. However closely these may follow on each other, — nay, however implicated or blended together they may be at the same moment into one compound state of feeling, - they are not the less distinct, on that account, of themselves.
In the calm satisfactions of virtue, this distinction may not be so palpable as in the pungent and more vividly felt disquietudes which are attendant on the wrong affections of our nature. The perpetual corrosion of that heart, for example, which frets in unhappy peevishness all the day long, is plainly distinct from the bitterness of that remorse which is felt, in the recollection of its harsh and injurious outbreakings on the innocent sufferers within its reach. It is saying much for the moral character of God, that he has placed a conscience within us, which administers painful rebuke on every indulgence of a wrong affection. But it is saying still more for such being the character of our Maker, so to have framed our mental constitution, that, in the very working of these bad affections, there should be the painfulness of a felt discomfort and discordancy. Such is the make or mechanism of our nature, that it is thwarted and put out of sorts by rage, and envy, and hatred; and this, irrespective of the adverse moral judgments which conscience passes upon them. Of themselves, they are unsavory; and no sooner do they enter the heart, than they shed upon it an immediate distillation of bitterness. Just as the placid smile of benevolence bespeaks the felt comfort of benevolence, so in the frown and tempest of an angry countenance do we read the unhappiness of that man who is vexed and agitated by his own malignant affections, eating inwardly, as they do, on the vitals of his enjoyment. It is therefore that he is often styled, and truly, a selftormentor, or his own worst enemy.
THE FORCE OF CHRISTIAN EVIDENCE STRENGTHENED BY THE
CHRISTIANITY OF THE WITNESSES.
Tacitus has actually attested the existence of Jesus Christ. Suppose that besides attesting his existence, he had believed in him so far as to become a Christian. Is his testimony to be refused because he gives this evidence of his sincerity? Tacitus asserting the fact, and remaining a heathen, is not so strong an argument as Tacitus asserting the fact and becoming a Christian in consequence of it. Yet the moment the transition is made, - a transition by which, in point of fact, his testimony becomes stronger, - in point of impression it becomes less; and by a delusion common to the infidel and the believer,
the argument is held to be weakened by the very circumstance which imparts greater force to it. * * * A direct testimony to the miracles of the New Testament from the mouth of a heathen is not to be expected. We cannot satisfy this demand of the infidel; but we can give him a host of much stronger testimonies than he is in quest of the testimonies of those men who were heathens, and who embraced a hazardous and a disgraceful profession, under a deep conviction of those facts to which they gave their testimony. “O, but now you land us in the testimony of Christians.” This is very true; but it is the very fact of their being Christians, in which the strength of the argument lies. In the Fathers of the Christian church we see men who, if they had not been Christians, would have risen to as high an eminence as Tacitus in the literature of the times; and whose direct testimony as to the Gospel history would, in that case, have been most impressive even to the mind of an infidel. And are these testimonies to be less impressive because they were preceded by conviction and sealed by martyrdom!
THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY. 1800–1859. (Manual,
Ariosto tells a pretty story of a fairy, who, by some mysterious law of her nature, was condemned to appear at certain seasons in the form of a foul and poisonous snake. Those who injured her, during the period of her disguise, were forever excluded from participation in the blessings which she bestowed. But to those who, in spite of her loathsome aspect, pitied and protected her, she afterwards revealed herself in the beautiful and celestial form which was natural to her, accompanied their steps, granted all their wishes, filled their houses with wealth, made them happy in love, and victorious in war. Such a spirit is Liberty. At times she takes the form of a hateful reptile. She growls, she hisses, she stings. But woe to those who in disgust shall venture to crush her! And happy are those who, having dared to receive her in her degraded and frightful shape, shall at length be rewarded by her in the time of her beauty and her glory.
There is only one cure for the evils which newly acquired freedom produces — and that cure is freedom! When a prisoner leaves his cell, he cannot bear the light of day; he is unable to discriminate colors, or recognize faces. But the remedy is not to remand him into his dungeon, but to accustom him to the rays of the sun. The blaze of truth and liberty may at first dazzle and bewilder nations which have become half blind in the house of bondage. But let them gaze on, and they will soon be able to bear it. In a few years men learn
to reason. The extreme violence of opinion subsides. Hostile theories correct each other. The scattered elements of truth cease to conflict, and begin to coalesce. And at length a system of justice and order is educed out of the chaos.
Many politicians of our time are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition, that no people ought to be free, till they are fit to use their freedom. The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story, who resolved not to go into the water till he had learnt to swim! If men are to wait for liberty till they become wise and good in slavery, they may indeed wait forever.
FROM THE “ESSAY ON BARERE."
342. EVILS OF THE REIGN OF TERROR. We could, we think, also show that the evils produced by the Jacobin administration did not termin te when it fell; that it bequeathed a long series of calamities to France and to Europe; that public opinion, which had during two generations been constantly becoming more and more fovorable to civil and religious freedom, underwent, during the days of Terror, a change of which the traces are still to be distinctly perceived. It was natural that there should be such a change, when men saw that those who called themselves the champions of popular rights, had compressed into the space of twelve months more crimes than the kings of France, Merovingian, Carlovingian, and Capetian, had perpetrated in twelve centuries. Freedom was garded as a great delusion. Men were willing to submit to the government of hereditary princes, of fortunate soldiers, of nobles, of priests, to any government but that of philosophers and philanthropists. Hence the imperial despotism, with its enslaved press and its silent tribune, its dungeons stronger than the old Bastile, and its tribunals more obsequious than the old Parliaments. Hence the restoration of the Bourbons and of the Jesuits, the Chamber of 1815, with its categories of proscription, the revival of the feudal spirit, the encroachments of the clergy, the persecution of the Protestants, the appearance of a new breed of De Montforts and Dominics, in the full light of the nineteenth century.
And so, in politics, it is the sure law that every excess shall generate its opposite; nor does he deserve the name of a statesman, who strikes a great blow without fully calculating the effect of the rebound. But such calculation was infinitely beyond the reach of the authors of the Reign of Terror. Violence and more violence, blood and more blood, made up their whole policy. In a few months, these poor creatures succeeded in bringing about a reaction, of which none of them saw, and of which' none of us may see, the close; and, having brought it about, they marvelled at it; they bewailed it; they execrated it; they ascribed it to everything but the real cause — their own immorality, and their own profound incapacity for the conduct of great affairs.
Austrian or a Russian has seen three or four times over; but it is now three centuries since an English pig has fallen in a fair battle upon English ground, or a farm-house been rifled.
There is a village (no matter where) in which the inhabitants, on one day in the year, sit down to a dinner prepared at the common expense: by an extraordinary piece of tyranny (which Lord Hawkesbury would call the wisdom of the village ancestors), the inhabitants of three of the streets, about a hundred years ago, seized upon the inhabitants of the fourth street, bound them hand and foot, laid them upon their backs, and compelled them to look on while the rest were stuffing themselves with beef and beer: the next year, the inhabitants of the persecuted street (though they contributed an equal quota of the expense) were treated precisely in the same manner. The tyranny grew into a custom : and (as the manner of our nature is) it was considered as the most sacred of all duties to keep these poor fellows without their annual dinner: the village was so tenacious of this practice, that nothing could induce them to resign it; every enemy to it was looked upon as a disbeliever in Divine Providence, and any nefarious churchwarden who wished to succeed in his election, had nothing to do but to represent his antagonist as an abolitionist, in order to frustrate his ambition, endanger his life, and throw the village into a state of the most dreadful commotion. By degrees, however, the obnoxious street grew to be so well peopled, and its inhabitants so firmly united, that their oppressors, more afraid of injustice, were more disposed to be just. At the next dinner they are unbound, the year after allowed to sit upright, then a bit of bread and a glass of water; till at last, after a long series of concessions, they are emboldened to ask, in pretty plain terms, that they may be allowed to sit down at the bottom of the table, and to fill their bellies as well as the rest. Forthwith a general cry of shame and scandal: “Ten years ago, were you not laid upon your backs? Don't you remember what a great thing you thought it to get a piece of bread? How thankfnl you were for cheese-parings? Have you forgotten that memorable era, when the lord of the manor interfered to obtain for you a a slice of the public pudding? And now, with an audacity only equalled by your ingratitude, you have the impudence to ask for knives and forks, and to request, in terms too plain to be mistaken, that you may sit down to table with the rest, and be indulged even with beef and beer; there are not more than half a dozen dishes which we have reserved for ourselves : the rest has been thrown open to you in the utmost profusion; you have potatoes and carrots, suet dumplings, sops in the pan, and delicious toast and water, in incredible quantities. Beef, mutton, lamb, pork, and veal are ours; and if you were not the most restless and dissatisfied of human beings, you would never think of aspiring to enjoy them.”
Is not this, my dainty Abraham, the very nonsense, and the very insult which is talked to and practised upon the Catholics? You are