Imatges de pÓgina

and of all duty in the creature. In this he rises immeasurably above the reasoners who seek the foundation and the standard of rectitude in man himself, and thus so far exclude Deity from their systems. Still, if the question is put, what are these eternal principles;-or rather, what is the one principle, if there be such, on account of which, actions are viewed as morally good or evil; his answer must be admitted to shed little additional light over the mystery; and were we to judge from the past success of moral speculators, we would be forced to conclude, that while the rule of duty is clear, its foundation is to be classed with the secret things that belong to Jehovah. Perhaps, also, the attempt to reduce all grades and modifications of virtuous feeling to a single principle, is a refinement unwarranted by the nature of things. He takes particular notice of the utilitarian theory, and shows its error in making utility the foundation of moral rectitude "rather than a manifestation of the nature and tendency of virtuous principles." Thus utility when rightly understood, though not the principle, becomes a criterion of virtue. He accords with some others in employing the term in an extended sense, to signify the good or happiness of the universe at large; but to make it the foundation of virtue, it ought to comprehend the glory of God. On this point he has the following beautiful remark :—

"There is a view of tendencies that is prior and superior to the benefit of creation,-one, at the same time, with which the benefit of creation is intimately and necessarily associated. What would be the first thing that, in an estimate of tendencies, or in considering what any particular created existence, or any prescribed action or course of conduct, is good for, would present itself to the mind of an angel of light? Would it not be -the glory of God? The glory of God is, I have admitted, inseparably associated with the good of the universe, and essential to its attainment; but still it is above it,-first in order, first in magnitude. He who can fancy to himself any thing connected with creation, of what extent and value soever, to which the glory of the Supreme Creator ought to give place, has reason to examine the reality of his devotion, as well as the soundness of his philosophy. There is an essential defect in the sense affixed to the term utility, when this first and highest branch of it is left out of the account :-and the defect, whatever men may think of it, is indicative of the ungodliness of our nature. When we do take the term in its due fulness of comprehension, we have then, assuredly, before our minds, all that we can imagine to have been in the Creator's view, in the production and arrangement of the great system of being; the glory of his own name, and the happiness of all else that exists, exhausting all the possibilities of final causation. And from this it unquestionably follows, that whatever in conduct is in harmony with the glory of God and the good of the universe, cannot fail to be also in harmony with the principles of moral rectitude."

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Were utility, as a test of virtue, left to human judgment, we never could decide with sufficient evidence on any meditated action; so that in such a state of knowledge, the conviction that a certain course of conduct accords with the revealed law, must to us be the test of utility; for where we cannot see the useful consequences of actions, but know that the actions themselves are required by the law of God, we infer their utility on the whole, though we cannot foresee it. Our author's extension of the term, utility, will be equally applicable to the expediency of Dr. Paley, as the mode of coming to the knowledge of the divine will. This we maintain to be the interpretation of the Scriptures wherever they are possessed; and at the same time we have no objection to reasoning from expediency or utility-which are substantially identical-in cases in which the Scriptures have not directly decided, provided only that misnamed expediencies be not arrogantly set in opposition to the spirit of the inspired precepts. True expediency, though not the foundation, will ever, as far as rightly understood, be found a correct criterion of virtue; it is only a seeming and shortsighted expediency that ever nullifies a Scripture declaration, though we grant multitudes of such expediencies are daily reasoned and acted on in the world.

On the subject of the identity of morality and religion, we quote the following beautiful passages :

"The "keeping of God's commandments' is a comprehensive definition of morality: the love of God' is the sum of religious principle:-and the text affirms-This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments." The meaning is, that there is no love of God without the keeping of his commandments; and that there is no keeping of his commandments without love to God: a statement which amounts to the same thing as this other, that there is no religion without morality, and that there is no morality without religion. He who loves God keeps the commandments in principle; he who keeps the commandments loves God in action. Love is obedience in the heart; obedience is love in the life. Morality, then, is religion in practice; religion is morality in principle. "Is not this as it ought to be? Does not the Bible, in the ground it takes, give God his proper place? In making the religious principle the essential element of all goodness, does it not set the system of morality on its legitimate basis? The ground is high, but is it not right? Can you imagine an accredited revelation to have taken any other? Would not the adoption of a lower position, in any book pretending to be from God, have been, of itself, sufficient to discredit and repudiate its pretensions? I plead for God. We are often told, that relative morality consists in giving every one his due; I object not to the definition: but I must insist upon it, that the application of the definition commences at the bighest point in the scale of obligation. Is there nothing due from creatures, but to their fellow-creatures? Has the everlasting God no

dues? Is not reverence his due? Is not love his due? Is not worship his due? Is not obedience his due? It must not be, that we tamely submit to the exclusion of Deity;-to the unnatural and unworthy omission or depreciation of the rights and claims of the Eternal. We cannot acquiesce in his being thus degraded to a secondary station; divested, in any point, of his authority, and thrust out, unceremoniously, from the motives of moral duty. His law, I repeat, as he himself has promulgated it, places Him first; and that, not merely because the obligation to God is the first that binds the creature, but because, in this obligation to God, all other obligations originate; they depend upon it; they are comprehended in it. What are the duties which we owe to our fellow-creatures, but integrant parts of his law? It is as his precepts that they must be fulfilled; so that, if they are duly done, they must be done from regard to his authority, which amounts to the same thing with their being done from a religious principle."

The remaining two lectures treat of the question, how far disinterested benevolence is included in love to God, and of the peculiarities of Christian obligation and duty. He contends that the primary reason why we ought to love God, is the essential excellence and loveliness of His character, and the next the benefits we ourselves derive from Him; and he combats equally the exclusion of self-love from the religious feelings, and the principle of loving God exclusively for the blessings he bestows. We are prevented from giving extracts by the want of space, and because the whole is so rich in Christian philosophy that we feel it difficult to select. In discussing the merits of Edwards's theory, which resolves virtue into benevolence, to being in general, as in every other case, he is not solicitous to extract the most obnoxious meaning from an author's words where any ambiguity exists. By degrees of existence he understands Edwards to mean degrees of capacity and excellence. He objects to this theory, on account of the obscurity of terms, and because it does not include gratitude as an ingredient in love to God, nor "the more limited and peculiar social affections of our nature, whether those of kindred, of friendship, or of country."


We feel little disposed to dwell on any minor objections we have to a work whose perusal has given us much pleasure. It was not possible in nine lectures, though illustrated occasionally by excellent notes, to give as ample an exposition of the principles of morals as is desirable on his mode of investigation. We could have desired more minuteness in establishing the fact of the corruption of human nature, and in tracing its influence on thought and action.

We would also have been pleased with a fuller discussion of some other questions. But such wants are to our minds lost

in the consideration that the author has done much to elevate the minds of his readers above the grovelling theories which would limit our views of virtue to the contracted range of our foresight, and to a span in the infinite of future existence. While we think that other ethical works written in a similar manner and spirit, are yet required, and would be of essential value to the student of moral science, we gladly concede to Dr. Wardlaw the praise of having shown, by the present treatise, that moral philosophy, when taught aright, is, indeed, the handmaid of religion. Of the excellencies of the work we are deeply sensible; and our impressions we can best convey to our readers, by recommending it to the perusal of all who wish an intimate and correct acquaintance with the principles of morals,


SCOTLAND, 8th Aug. 1834.



I was very much delighted, a few days ago, reading, in your July Number, an account of the late meeting of Synod. I am sure that many of the ministers of our church will rejoice exceedingly to learn that you have so much of a right spirit among you, and that you are doing so much. I refer more especially,-first, to your division of Presbyteries. Holding, as I do, the opinion, that a Presbytery ought to be especially a meeting of Elders, teaching and ruling, for prayer and consultation, you will readily see the grounds of my satisfaction in what you have agreed to. To show that this was the early character of our Scottish Presbyteries, you will perhaps excuse my quoting a passage from the life of Row, one of our Reformers: "The weekly meeting of the Exercise' or 'Eldership,' as it was likewise called, was another means of public instruction afforded to the people. It consisted of the minister of the town, (Perth) and some other ministers, who met every Wednesday for prayer, for improving themselves, by exercise, in the gift of preaching, and for counselling and encouraging one another in the business of their several parishes. Some lay-elders also attended. A minister present delivered a critical discourse on a text of Scripture,

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and another added a practical application." Associations of the same kind existed in other chief parts of the kingdom; but in Mr. Row's time, they did not assume any joint jurisdiction, and only gave their advice when matters were referred to them. They always received encouragement from the General Assemblies; and in 1580, the General Assembly honoured them with the name of 'Presbyteries,' though they were still vulgarly called 'the exercise.' Similar also were the meetings held among yourselves at Antrim, and which were so much blessed. Secondly, to your placing of Sabbath-school and other parochial instruction under the special care and superintendence of the church. The reporting on these matters will keep them before the public mind, and it farther recognises them as a legitimate department of religious instruction. Thirdly, to the constitution of Kirk Sessions and Presbyteries as missionary boards. This I have for years desiderated in our own church. The principle proceeded upon in this and also the former, enters much into the spirit of a rightly constituted church; and if followed out, will certainly lead to union and strength. Where there is no energy, little good will be done by any church. But there may be much zeal and energy, and even much good may be done, and yet the church may, as a church, be but little strengthened thereby, She may be even weakened and torn asunder, and the good done may soon pass away and be forgotten. Fully to imbue any church with a missionary spirit, is to do good-great good; but to direct the energies of that spirit, through the natural and constituted channels of the church, is to give fresh life and vigour to the whole body, and yet to preserve harmony in all its parts. It is like the introduction of a fresh supply of healthy blood into the animal system. What might otherwise let in among you discord and division, thus consolidates, while it quickens and strengthens by nourishing. Fourthly, to your projected improvements in theological education. This is a subject on which I could with pleasure enlarge, as I am convinced that we are all more wanting in this department than in any other. The general method followed throughout nearly all the churches of which I have any knowledge, is radically bad. You have engrafted on the old system what I humbly conceive to be the true principle. And the fruits which you have already gathered from that engrafted branch,

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