Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“
[ocr errors]

and exclaim, “See, all the world has been wondering away about this for eighteen centuries. And

yet it means only this. But what have they in reality done? Why, they have merely pared the mystery down, fitted it to the narrow apertures of their own minds, and called this explaining it, comprehending it! It becomes under their process a mighty little affair, and they have reason to wonder that the world should have made so much ado about it. So they go through with all the mysteries of faith, one after another, and having eliminated all that is mysterious in them, that is, all that rises above the natural order, they call what remains liberal Christianity, rational religion, adapted to the wants of this enlightened age, — just what it demands to recall it to faith, and to save it from the terrible scourge of infidelity!

All this comes from assuming that the matter of faith and philosophy is one and the same, and that faith and philosophy differ only as to their form. The matter of both is assumed to belong to the natural order, and hence philosophy is able to strip from faith its mysterious robes, and present its naked truth to the natural understanding. Delusion all! Philosophy concerns solely truths naturally cognoscible, and faith, truths only supernaturally cognoscible, and of course, till we are supernaturally elevated to see them in themselves, intrinsically inevident. There is no use in quarrelling with this fact. We either believe such truths on the authority of God's word duly accredited, or we do not believe them at all. It is idle, then, to think of bringing men to faith in Christianity by attempting to divest Christianity of its mysteries. We do not, by such a process, convert the unbeliever to the gospel, but the gospel to the unbeliever, as we ourselves did in our Charles Elwood, or the Infidel Converted. Our liberal Christians make a sad mistake. They find men, perverted by a false philosophy, rejecting the gospel because they will not believe what is not intrinsically evident to their natural reason ; and instead of undertaking to prove to them that God has really revealed these mysteries which they refuse to believe, and that nothing is more reasonable than to believe God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived, they foolishly, not to say impiously, set to work to prove that these mysteries are at bottom no mysteries, and that the gospel contains nothing which transcends reason, or whose internal reasonableness and truth are not obvious even to an ordinary understanding. They may, indeed, in this way, adapt Christianity to the age, but not to the wants of the age. They conform to the infidelity and corruptions of the age, instead of resisting them. They deceive themselves, if they think they are promoting faith in our holy religion by laboring to bring its teachings within the scope of human philosophy. They but lessen the matter to be believed, without augmenting faith. He who rejects a single dogma, because it appears to him unreasonable, has no true faith in a single article of revelation. The whole of revelation is unreasonable and incredible, if you consult only its intrinsic evidence ; but in the last degree reasonable and credible, if you look only to the veracity of God who makes the revelation, and to the evidence of the fact that he has made it. He who will not take God's word for much cannot consistently take it for little. He who will reject the doctrine of the Trinity, because it is incomprehensible, is a miserable logician, if he can believe any doctrine whatever, because God has revealed it. This process of rationalizing Christianity, so much in vogue among liberal Christians, does no good, gains no one to the faith, but keeps men from it, and renders conversions more difficult and hopeless.

a

What we have said of the Eclectic school in general, we may say of M. Jouffroy in particular. Yet, personally, we would treat M. Jouffroy with great tenderness. He was believer before he became acquainted with M. Cousin ; and we hope he recovered his faith before he died, although we have no evidence of the fact. M. Cousin's philosophy perverted his understanding, destroyed his faith, and plunged him into infidelity. Our indignation is not so much against him who was the unhappy victim, as against the master who misled him. His ethical system we reject, because it is constructed upon principles derivable solely from natural reason, and natural reason cannot furnish adequate and safe rules for the conduct of life. We do not dispute the reality of the law of nature (droit naturel); we admit that ethics is a science, but a science whose chief fundamental principles must be borrowed from faith, the supernatural revelation which God has made us. We believe God has made us a revelation of truths pertaining to the supernatural order, and because it was necessary for the conduct of life that we should know them. Believing this, we cannot believe in the sufficiency or safety of rules which are deduced from natural reason alone. If natural reason could have sufficed for our guidance, no supernatural revelation would have been needed or made. From the fact, that such revelation has been made, we may infer its necessity; and from its necessity, that it is perilous to disregard it. We think, also, that we are able, from natural reason alone, to demonstrate the insufficiency of natural reason. If we mistake not, reason herself proclaims her own insufficiency, and affirms the necessity of something beyond her reach to serve for our guidance.

'It is not our purpose to attempt a complete statement of M. Jouffroy's ethical system ; we can give only a brief outline of its more prominent features, and this only so far as we propose to make them the subject of a few disconnected comments. M. Jouffroy has rightly seen that man must have an end or destiny in order to be the subject of a moral law, and that this end or destiny must be known before we can proceed to establish the rules according to which man should govern himself in the conduct of life.

The first inquiry, then, is, Has man a destiny? He decides that he has, and a destiny which is not accomplished in this life; therefore man must live a life or lives beyond this life. The second question is, What is man's destiny? The answer to this question is the great affair. Does M. Jouffroy answer it, and answer it correctly and adequately ? This is what principally concerns us in our present remarks ; and what we proceed to inquire.

" What distinguishes one being from another,” says M. Jouffroy, “is organization. It is this which distinguishes a plant from a mineral, an animal of one species from an animal of another species. Each being has its proper nature, and, because it has its proper nature, it is predestinated by that nature to a certain end. If the end of the bee, for instance, is not that of the lion, if that of the lion is not that of man, the sole reason is to be found in the difference of their nature. Each being, then, is organized for a certain end; so that we may, from a perfect knowledge of its nature, deduce its destination or end. The end of a being is what is called its good. There is, then, an absolute identity between the good of a being and its end. Its good is, to fulfil its destiny, to go to the end for which it has been organized.”

Man is created with a specific nature, and by that nature is predestinated to a certain end, which is his good. This nature has certain primitive tendencies, which begin to operate as soon as man begins to exist, and each to go to a special end, each seeking its special satisfaction, which is its special good. The satisfaction of a tendency is the good of that tendency. The satisfaction of all man's tendencies, that is, the sum of the particular satisfactions of all his tendencies taken separately, is the total good of the individual man.

These natural tendencies, which Gall and Spurzheim call faculties, and which are the primitive forces of human nature, have each their particular end, towards which each incessantly tends. But experience soon teaches us, that, if these tendencies be left to their instinctive or spontaneous action, one will seek its satisfaction at the expense of another, and hence confusion and disorder will be produced in the bosom of the individual, which will distract hiin from his veritable destiny. This experience teaches him the necessity of subordinating all these separate tendencies to one common end, which may be called the greatest good or interest of the individual. A little larger experience teaches the individual that there are other men besides himself in existence, each with his particular destiny, and that one man seeks his good, or his interest, at the expense of another, which produces disorder, confusion, in the bosom of the race. Thence arises a new conception, that of the greatest good of the race, to which the individual must subordinate his own good. But having arrived here, and reason developing itself more and more, he learns that there are other beings in the universe besides men ; he rises to the conception of the good of the universe, which is universal order, absolute good, and finds that it is his duty to labor for universal order, which is man's highest moral conception.

But the universe is composed of parts, and the good of the whole is nothing but the sum of the good of the parts. So it matters very little, as to the result, whether the individual labors in view of the good of the universe, of the good of the race, of himself alone, or leaves himself to be borne along by his instinctive tendencies, each seeking its own special satisfaction. The universe is so constructed, that universal order is alike promoted, secured, whether man merely obeys his instincts, acts from supreme selfishness, supreme philanthropy, or from pure regard to absolute good. A very convenient morality!

The satisfaction of a tendency is followed by a certain sensation which we call pleasure ; its disappointment, by a certain sensation which we call pain. The pleasurable sensations generalized are called happiness, and whatever tends to produce them is called useful; the painful sensations generalized are what we term unhappiness, and whatever tends to produce them is termed hurtful. Hence the ideas of pleasure and pain, useful and hurtsul, happiness and unhappiness, which we must be careful to distinguish from good and evil. Good is gaining our end, fulfilling our destiny ; evil is failing to do so; and either would be precisely what it now is, were we so made as to be incapable of receiving pleasure or of suffering pain. So, also, when we labor for absolute good, we approve ourselves, which is called moral approbation, and this moral approbation is followed by an internal satisfaction which is termed moral pleasure ; and when we fail to do so, we condemn ourselves, which is termed moral blame, followed by a moral pain which is termed remorse. But the moral pleasure is not moral good, nor is it an end to be sought; the remorse is not moral evil, nor an end to be shunned. Both are mere accidents accompanying our actions, but wholly unrelated to our end or destiny ; and are never to be taken into the account in our endeavour to determine what is good or evil, the end we are to seek or to avoid.

That this system indicates, on the part of its author, very great ingenuity, as well as much and even profound reflection, we have no disposition to deny ; but it cannot teach us so much of ethics, even as a science, as knows the boy who has simply learned his catechism. This is entirely owing to the fault of its method. M. Jouffroy was a psychologist, and sought to construct his ethical system by the simple study of human nature. But the study of human nature alone can give us, at best, only man's natural destiny, and furnish us only with the rules for fulfilling it. To fulfil our natural destiny, or the destiny indicated by our nature, is merely to fulfil our nature itself, to perfect it, or to realize its highest type. But this is not the end for which God made us, and to which he bids us aspire. We know from revelation that we are made for a supernatural destiny, to which we do not, and cannot, attain by natural development, but by an obedience possible only on condition of the infused habit of supernatural grace.

So far, in fact, is the fulfilment of our natural destiny, or, what is the same thing, the perfecting of our nature, the means, or condition even, of attaining to our supernatural destiny, that it is only as we attain to our supernatural destiny, that our nature itsell'is or can be fulfilled or perfected. This supernatural end being the veritable end, that for which we were created, our nature is wounded whenever separated from it, and groans in pain whenever left to itself. Hence the disappointment we all experience in every case of merely natural satisfaction, whether of intellectual, sensual, or even philanthropic tendencies. None of our tendencies are really satisfied by their natural objects, even when fully gained. This is the sad experience of all men, and is so because to gain these objects was not the end for which we were made. But this last is a fact which we can hardly learn from the study of human nature alone.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »