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questionable whether the reliance upon reason only has not kept back the human race in a state little superior, as to the aggregate of good, to what it was centuries ago. Take men, as they submit themselves wholly to this guidance, I mean, to outward obser vations, customs, and maxims, in different nations and among different sects; and their moral conduct indicates nearly the same general results. The turbulent principles of human nature are uppermost, unless restrained by the strong arm of law; and civil society among Jews and Mahometans, Pagans and Christians, saving superstitions and idolatry, exhibits one uniform aspect of moral deformity, over the world.
We do not state the proposition, as though moral disorder necessarily sprung from the reasoning principle. We simply state, that man, by excellence, a rational being, too often degrades himself below the brute, which is the creature of Instinct; and that consequently, the empire of human Reason is a scene of confusion and disorder compared with the empire of brute Instinct. For if it be objected that the moral disorder, to which I have alluded, is not attributable to Reason, but to the unruly passions of men: what is this but the admission of Reason's incompetency to controul these bad passions, and to keep them in good government?
We must perceive, therefore, without any laboured inference, that man, in a general way, does not fully answer the ends of his creation; unless indeed, we make these ends to consist in a few outward secular
pursuits; by which he must be degraded to the rank of the meanest insect, and assigned no other office than that of coming into the world, and for a little space breathing the vital air, that he may leave a succession behind him.
We might presume, without having recourse to revelation, that a being for whom so comely a world was evidently designed, graced as it is with so much to delight and instruct, was not sent into it, merely by his art and skill to supply his temporal wants, to bring other creatures into subjection, and like these to live and die, having provided a succession. For, it is clear, that if he were only intended for the limited duration of this life, he stood no more in need of a knowledge of his Maker, than the animals over which he ruled.
I say, then, we might presume, that man, alone gifted with a knowledge of his Maker, alone accountable for his actions, alone capable of gratitude and devotion and adoration, and alone susceptible of the influence of divine love, should possess a principle by which impressions like these might be appreciated and felt, congenial to its nature, as light is congenial to the eye, sweets to the taste, sounds to the ear, and speculative truth to the understanding.—We might presume, that he should possess a higher principle than Reason, than that faculty with which he is qualified to manage his outward affairs, to compare his rank in the creation, to adapt his conduct to emergencies, and to understand the nature and obli
gation of human laws;-in a word, that he should have a better guide than fluctuating, weak and fallible reason. It would be natural to conclude that he should possess a principle infallible and unerring like the brute, analogous to instinct, but accompanied with a consciousness of the Giver; by the cultivation of which, and of which alone, the true object of his creation, the heartfelt, not the speculative, knowledge of God and of his will might be obtained. For, it is manifest, that, if this were not the case, with all his other advantages, man would be circumstanced unequally with the lower animals. These, it is clear, have an infallible direction. But where is the infallible Guide that leads man himself, the most perfect of all, in the path most acceptable to his Maker? Is Reason that faithful counseller and unerring rule by which he can direct his steps to the object that most concerns him in this life?
Instead of pursuing the train of my own reflections in answer to this question, I feel satisfaction in quoting the words of Dr. Gregory, who had no particular bias to the views I am adopting.
"In considering the effects (says he) which the faculty of Reason, that boasted characteristic and privilege of the human species, produces among those who possess it in the most eminent degree; and from the little influence it seems to have in promoting either public or private good, we are almost tempted to suspect, that Providence deprives us of those fruits we naturally expect from it, in order to
preserve a certain balance and equality among mankind."*
Indeed, it is difficult to conceive, how the most assiduous cultivation of Reason, and the most zealous co-operation with its feeble and fluctuating light, can lead the mind to any knowledge of supernatural truths, or to any union or harmony with the source of infinite purity. As the light of the Sun will dull and extinguish artificial flame, so it would appear to be consistent with the nature of things, in other words, with the divine economy, that the light of heaven, before it can have the complete ascendancy, should dim and overpower natural reason, especially where the latter opposes its entrance into the mind, at least in all the moral or spiritual relations of man.
For after all that Reason can do, and all it can know, still the mysteries of the invisible world are far beyond its reach. When Reason in former times attempted to speculate on these things, what vanity and folly marked its delusions! The words of Cowper are very apposite to this point :
"All truth is from the sempiternal source,
But falsely. Sages after sages strove
* See Comparative View,
In vain to filter off a crystal draught
Pure from the lees, which often more enhanced
In vain they pushed inquiry to the birth
And spring time of the world! Ask'd whence is man?
Adore him? will he hear, accept, and bless?
Or does he sit regardless of his works?
Has man within him an immortal seed?
Or does the tomb take all? If he survive
A Deity could solve. Their answers vague
Left them as dark themselves. Their rules of life
Defective and unsanctioned, proved too weak
To bind the roving appetite, and lead
And so illuminates the path of life,
From all this we may conclude, that Reason is a faculty as ill-suited to feel the effusion of divine love shed abroad in the human heart, as the ear to relish sweets, or the tongue to judge of melody.
But although the ancients could not discover by Reason or outward research, what revelation was