« EdellinenJatka »
LETTER IV. TO THOMAS HERTTELL, ESQ.
Sin,-In my last I commenced the examination of your creed; and shall in the present epistle próceed with it: But as these letters are written cur. rente culumo, and without aiming at a strictly phi. losophical arrangement of the subject matter; I will step aside, for a moment, to introduce one more brilliant, profound and exalted genius of modern date, who did not think it unnecessary, or unbecom. ing in him, with all his greatness, to confess his fuith to God.
I fear not to affirm boldly, that in native intellect and profound learning, in creative genius and cor. responding acquirements, Lord Bacon has not been exceeded by any one, either of the ancient or man dern schools of philosophy. I make this assertion, after having studied seriously the ancient prevailing system of the school of Aristotle, which he overthrew, in connection with his own works, and the various philosophical authors who, have followed in his train, both in Europe and America. As it happens, at this moment, that I have before me a prayer which, among others of that great and good man, has been happily preserved, I will beg your scrious attention, my friend, to a clause or two of it : It commences thus:
“O Eternal God, and most merciful Father in Jesus Christ : Let the words of our mouths, and
meditations of our hearts, be now and ever gracious in thy sight, and acceptable unto thee, O Lord, our God, our strength, and our Redeemer.”
In the same vigorous style, and fervent spirit of piety, the prayer proceeds; nor does he forget, whilo devoutly, and as a necessary duty, confessing his faith to God, to ask for an increase of that faith :
“ Turn," says he, "our hearts, and we shall be turned ; convert us, and we shall be converted : Il. luminate the eyes of our mind and understanding with the bright beams of thy holy spirit,” &c.
Thus did one of the best and brightest of man. kind pray fervently and devoutly for that wisdom which cometh from above : And certain I am, that he stood upon sure ground: And here I would ask you, since your school is so fond of imputing the spread of Christianity to Priestcraft on the one hand, and to selfishness on the other, whether you think the very greatest of all philosophers, either ancient or modern_(for such is my settled opinion of Bacon)-could be influenced by Priestcraft in his homage to the name and the faith of Jesus ? Could he, whose majestic and discriminating mind penetrated the deepest recesses of nature; and both in the physical and intellectual world, brought light out of darkness, and order out of chaos or confusion, be made the dupe of priestcraft, superstition or bigotry? No! no !-will be the spontaneous exclamation of every reader who has studied the works of Bacon. On the other hand, could selfishness, by which, in this case, I mean worldly inte
rest, cause him to bend the knee in secret homage and devotion to his Redeemer, when at the same time, as Lord High Chancellor of England, he had as much of the wealth of this world as he could wish for, and all the honor which the British Constitution could confer upon a subject? 'No! nol again will be the loud acclaim of every man who knows the history of Bacon; for it must be recollected, that his prosperous days were his praying days, as well as the days of his adversity. He did not wait, as many penitents have done, till the arrows of the Almighty pierced him, till the chastening hand of his Creator cast him down from bis exalted station, before he became a Christian; but in the morning of his life, and in the proudest days of his prosperity, he was not ashamed to take up the cross, bow the knee to Jesus, and confess his taith to God. Verily, my dear sir, an example so illustrious ought not to be lost sight of even by the superior mind of Thomas Herttell. Surely you may safely drink at the samne religious fount, whence the Father of Philosophy drew refreshing draughts of faith and piety. Perhaps you wait the coming of the Angel to stir the waters. If so, wait in faith, and he will not fail to come; pray for the dews of Hermon, and the wings of that Angel shall scatter them upon you, for the health of your understanding, and the salvation of your immortal soul. It is not, however, because I believe the opinions of great men infallible, that I have thus introduced Bacon and others; for one of the great
est among them, writing under the influence of inspiration, I mean the inimitable Job, has admonished us, that great men are not always wise: They do not, however, depend upon it, exhibit a lapse of wisdom, when they pray and confess their faith to God: which Job knew, and so did Bacon, by precious and soul-reviving experience : and as the stand which you occupy at present among the Representatives of a great state, will give a corresponding extent of circulation, as well as importance, to your speech; and as you have taken pains to proclaim your belief, that confession of faith to. God is unnecessary, which may be the means, I fear, of leading young and uncultivated or inexperienced minds, to a heedlessness that will tend to the corruption of their hearts, and their eternal ruin, I have thought it best to inform those of them, who shall read these letters, that the greatest and the best of men-men far above my friend Hertell, and myself, in genius and acquirements have deemed such confession, such pure and refreshing communion with their Creator, both proper and salutary, both necessary and delightful.. It appears to me indeed, that as God is the source, the sole and eternal fountain of intellect; so those of his creatures to whom for his own wise purposes, he has imparted the most of it, must naturally be the most desirous to seek intercourse with him by private as well as public devotion, by communing with him in the silent watches of the night, and meditating, both by day and by night, on the vast
variety and unspeakable splendor and magnificence of his wonderful works, and on his goodness, wisdom, power and glory. It was in this spirit of the truly great and good, that David exclaimed:-"My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thée, and , will look up." Psal. v. 3.
And again-—“I meditaté on all thy works: I muse on the works of thy hands. I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee." Psal, 143, 5, 6. [G.)
Vain, witty and sarcastic men, like Shaftsbury and Voltaire; dissolute, dissipated and heedless men, like Lord Bolingbroke and Wilmot, Earl of Rochester; cold and heartless philosophers, like Hobbes, Tindall and Hume-(the last, the calm, cold-hearted apologist of the profligate, tyrannical and bloody Stuarts)—and their satellites, such as TOULMIN and others, not worth naming, partake not of this pure spirit. The divine and all-beautiful breathings of David's lyre; the plain, simple and unaffected, but grand and majestic, pure and generous, just and merciful precepts and principles, commands and exhortations, that flowed from the lips of the Saviour, do not affect the minds or the hearts of such men; for they are callous to every consideration, but such as connects itself with their heartless speculations their heedless wanderings in the regions of scepticism; or their stilt more heedless, if not heartless and criminal pursuits in the walks of sensuality and corruption; their mise