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alone capable of unfolding, it appears that they made one discovery and a very important one to the point I am discussing, that man, with all his reasoning powers, has not wisdom sufficient to make himself happy. The remarks of Lord Monboddo in his "Ancient Metaphysics," are so clear on this point, that I shall make no apology for quoting his own words.
This author says, that "by the use of intellect, and the arts and sciences invented by us, we have formed a system of life altogether different from the natural; for the perfection of which we believe intelligence alone is sufficient. But this was not the opinion of the wiser ancients, who thought that human reason alone could not properly conduct human life, without the counsel and assistance of superior powers. And this has been so much the general sense of mankind in all ages and in all nations, some methods have been practised to obtain that favour and assistance. There has, therefore, always been religion in the world, grounded upon this persuasion, that man, with all his superior faculties, has not wisdom sufficient to make himself happy. But as men, the more they degenerate, grow the vainer, they come at last to believe that without divine assistance, by their own wisdom merely they may be happy; and in such a degenerate state, even, a philosopher may arise, who will inform them that the less religion they have, the happier they are."
* David Hume.
The same author remarks further, in another place: "As to what I have said of vanity being the source of irreligion, I think it is evident, both from the nature of the thing, and from the characters of the men who in different ages and nations of the world, have been the great apostles of infidelity."+
Now, it is clear, whatever delusions existed formerly, that the ancients, with fewer advantages, had irradiations of light,-transitory gleams of truth, which proved that Reason was not their only instructor; and they arrived at some conclusions which might put modern sceptics to shame. We have no need, therefore, to confine our views to former ages for proofs of Reason's imbecility, when it reaches forward to things beyond the power of its attainment. It is only necessary to look round us in our own day to perceive, in what mazes and labyrinths of confusion men are involved, who place their dependance upon Reason as the potent instrument of good-the only sufficient guide to instruct them in the Divine counsels. We see how easily this faculty may be warped; how artfully what is advanced on one side may be repelled by the other; how soon "the worse" may be made to appear "the better reason," so that men even of sober judgment may be led away, as it were, by a kind of infatuation; and how productive a source of animosity is verbal disputation: how the peace of families is thus broken; the order of public assemblies
+ Ancient Metaphysics, vol. ii. B. iv. Ch. 6.
often violated; the gravity of national deliberations turned to uproar; the solemnity of religious discussions into unseemly contention; and how vengeance is often fulminated by kingdom against kingdom, with appeals to Reason and Justice, frequently offensive both to God and man.
I can scarcely do justice to my subject without noticing the following passage from Cowper.
"I see that all are wand'rers, gone astray,
That spreads his motley wings in th' eye of noon
And pregnant with discoveries new and rare.
Some drill and bore
Of heroes little known, and call the rant,
To the sharp peak of her sublimest height,
And planetary some; what gave them first
Play'd by the creatures of a pow'r, who swears
So hollow and so false-I feel my heart
Dissolve in pity, and account the learn'd,
Cowper's Task, Book 3.
If we examine the writings of the greatest men, we have nearly the same opinion of Reason's utter insufficiency for the chief purposes of life. But, it is scarcely necessary to augment the number of testimonies in support of this argument. I apprehend it must be now obvious that Reason of itself can know nothing but what relates wholly to the present scene; that it cannot feel the evidence of a divine spirit, though it may prove the probability of its existence; that it can neither taste any one of the streams of that
fountain from which good springs, nor supply a single draught of vital consolation to the soul in affliction; and, that human reason, however dignified it may be,-yet, as human reason, with all the world's possessions at its command, in the unceasing pursuit of ever-varying earthly enjoyments,-never can fully satisfy the mind.
Therefore, as the soul of man, when engrossed with the love of pleasure, or eager for fame, or ambitious of power, or even ardent in the search after knowledge, refuses to be satisfied, and reason, though abundantly engaged in the pursuit, cannot satisfy it in any of these sublunary things; it must have an affinity to something above sense, which is immortal. But its immortal nature, having other desires than those which spring from earth-other appetites than those of sense, is rendered incapable of being nourished but by spiritual food, and of being instructed but by a spiritual principle.
It will be our next business to inquire concerning the nature of this principle.