Thomas Carlyle.

The Christian treasury, Volume 2 online

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ance he pleases to every man in the world. Is
this considered ? I wish we could see it, in
the oalihaess of their minds who are under a
low estate. The £ft(her divides his ctti
among his children, giving to «very one of
ffaem his share, more or less, as he (Ehinks meet;
and this being his act and will, they all subnut
and acquiesce therein.. And shall your heaven-
ly Father's Allotting to you what he thinks
meet, signify nothi^ to the making of yon eon-
ientedly io rest in his will I May not this great
Dispenser of Uessings do with his own what he

2. None so poor but they liave more than
what they deserve. "Who can claim or chal-
lenge anything at Gods hands! Surely he
that merits nothing must not murmur because
he hath but Httie. (Matt. xx. 15.) Thy ap-
parel is very mean, thy diet is very coarse, thy
habitation veiy uncomfortable : be it so, yet
even in these there is mercy; it is from the
wisdom of God that thou hast no better— from
the mercy of God that thon haet so good*

Z. As low as you are in these thmgs, hither-
to the Lord hath provided for you and youve;
and assuredly, you being Ins people, -walkingln
his fear, trusting in him, he will still provide.
You have in the promise what you want in the
visible estate. Discontent is in part founded
in distrust; take but this out of the heart, and
the other vanidieth. Now, why dkoidd God'a
poor (I speak only of such) distnrat his pro^vi-
taon ! What abundant assurance hath he given
thereof I Read Ps. Ixxiii. 3, zxxviL 2S^ cxi.
5, oxzsiu. 15; Matt. vi. 25, to the end of the
chapter; Rom.viiL 32; Heh. xiiL 5; withnuuiy
other Scriipt ur ea.

4. A littte vHth God^s blessing wiH 90 ^btj
fsffj and do ^Fery well. -* I wHl abandtiitly
bless her provitsion : I win satisfy her poor
with bread.** (Ps. cxxzil. 15.) *Te ghall serve
the Lord your God^ and he shall hle» thy
bread and thywater.'* (Ezod. xziiL 25.) Daniel
aikd his<eompaiii<ais &d uponfiothiiy iMKt puke
and wakr; and yet ^ihrar cooBftenaiiMS ap-
^ Tnm sermoB, ty Dr. Jaoomb^ in the Horning ISxerdaet.

peared iairer and fatter in flesh than all the
chiMpen which did eat of the portion of the
king's meat.** (Dan. i. 12, 16.) The widow
was reduced to a low ebb : there was left but
a little oil in the cruse and a little meal in the
barrel; yet these held out, and the more she
spent of them the more they increased. (1
Kihgs xvii. 12.) What strange things are done
with small pittances, where ihe blessing of God

5. The saint's little is better than the tin*
ner*s alL ''Better is litUe with the fear of the
Lord, than great treasure, and trouble there-
with." (Prov. XV. 16.) «A UtUe that a
i^gfataoQS man hath is better than the riches of
many wicked.** (Ps. X3cxvii. 16.)

6. No man can judge of God's love or hatred
by these things. (Eccles. ix. 1.) For he often
** gives riches to those whom he hates, and de-
nies them to those whom he lovee." It is very
usnal fi)r those who have most of his love te
have least of worldly things. Joseph and Mary
themselves could bring but 'a pair of turtle-
doves" — the poor man's offering. (Luke ii. 24.)
Nay, how poor was our Lord himself J "The
foxes have hole^" Ac. (Matt. viii. 20; 2 Cor.

7. <iM keeps you low in earthly possessions,
bat hew is it with you In higher and better
thiQgB ! TTou are poor wifliout; are you not I
ridi within I "ITiereis thatmaketh himself rich,
yet hath nothing ; there is that maketh himself
poor^ yet hath great ridies." (Proar. xiii. 7.) *I
know thy povo^^ but than art rich." (Rev.
iL 9.) No riches like te eoul^riches. To be
**rioh in faith** (James n, 5), * tn good works*
(1 Tim. vL 18),* towards God" (Luke xii. 21)—
this is to be rich indeed. Mountains of gold
are nothing to one dnifihm fif true grace in the

Su ¥oB <tkiak God issixait-handed toward
yon in temporal, b«t is he not abundantly gra-
oiovB in qnrituaH and eternal, blessings ! Be
denies the pebble, but gives you the pearl;
withholds shadows and trifles, but gives you
what is aoM and substanttaL You have not
worldly wealth, but you have the pandon of si%
thiB l0veof God, adc^on, lutton ^th Chaiat,
&e. Yon hftpe no iaheritaiioe here, but you
aaw ^ heirs of the kingdoM" (James iL 5); the

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** inheritance" that is " incorruptible, and un-
defiled, and that fadeth not away" (1 Pet. i.
4), is yours; you have little in the stream, but
all in the fountain. Crod is yours, and in him
all is yours.

O are these things true! Certainly; then
you have no reason to complain or to be dis-
contented because of your poverty. Pray,
under heart-risings because of this, turn your
thoughts upon what hath been hinted, work
these and such like considerations home upon
' your hearts, be intent upon them, weigh them
thoroughly; and I hope this will very much
' settle and quiet your spirits under the lowness
I of your estates.


We conclude with a few general lessons suggested
by the biography of Hume, and the parties with
whom he was associated.

1. One may see how vain and absurd is the plea on
which many, under the Gk)8pel dispensation, rest their
hope of forgiveness and heaven. They say they expect
salvatioD, because they are free from gross vices, and
have always been kind and friendly. What does the
case of Hume show ? That even Infidels can often
plead the same. We have no reason to doubt that
Hume was correct in his private morals; and though
there were strange and bitter quarrels between him
and several of his friends, such as Blacklock, Oswald,
Rousseau, yet we have no cause to question the state-
ments of his biographers, that he was very friendly
and much liked— that he was inoffensive, obliging,
instructive. Now, is it to be imajpned that i>rofe8sed
Christians are saved on grounds altogether indepen-
dent of Christianity, which are equally valid and
good, whether such a revelation as Christianity had
been vouchsafed? Is it to be imagined that scoff-
ing Infidels, denying Gh>d^ providence and exist-
ence as well as his word, and rejoicing in death as
the annihilation of their being, are equally safe as
the most devout, and holy, and useful believers, simply
because they did not happen to be immoral, and were
amiable and friendly in the intercourse of social life ?
Does this not disparage Christianity, and exalt Infi-
delity in a way which would make most professed
Christians tremble ? And yet, do not multitudes rest
tiieir hopes for eternity substantially upon this ground?
Surely that cannot be the way of salvation which is
equally good for Christians and for Infidels— which
makes no distinction in creed — ^which treats those
, who believe in God and those who deny him as the
same, equally acceptable.

I 2. We are reminded of the danger of indulging
vanity and sceptical speculation. There can be little
question that vedn-glory was the root of Hume^s
system of universal doubt and flagrant Infidelity. He
may not have intended at first to become an Infidel
bordering on Atheism; but, to gratify his vanity

by attracting attention, and awakening the snzprise, '
astonishment, and talk of his cotemporaries and pos- I
terity, he yielded to speculations which carried him |
from step to step, till he was landed in universal
scepticism; while the same vanity forbade him, after
he was once conumtted, to retract any of his state-
ments, however ontenable. This is no more than
what Scripture would have led us to expect. The i
desire of the glory of men is numbered by the Sa- |
viour among the causes of Infidelity among the edu- ,
cated men of his day; and the apostles guard against j
false philosophy and vain speculations, as tending to
unbeUef and apostasy. The late excellent Dr. Mar- i
tin, minister of Kkkaldy, a man of no oonmum
acutenesB, relates, in a record of his experience
during a severe and protracted sickness, that for a |
season he was visited with the most painful daikneas {
and universal doubt. He explains it by stating thai
when a young man, and long before he had ever
heard of David Hume, or read any of his writings,
he had indulged in the same sceptical speculations;
so that in reading Hume, he found himself famfliar
with the thoughts and arguments. Like a devout
and penitent believer, he explained his mental
darkness and dubiety long after, as a chastise-
ment for the indulgence of scepticism in youth. \ \
While this is fitted to deprive Hume^s admirers of
their boasting, inasmuch as it shows that others,
and persons of much less pretendon, could hit upon
the same thoughts (and the same might be added of
many young Hindus on the banks of the Granges, in
regard to Hume^ speculations on miracles), it is
fitted to warn good men, and especially the young,
against indulging a spirit which the Scripture con-
demns.' Harmless as their speculations may often
seem, the unhappy effect may appear in seasons of
weakness and suffering. The great adversary of
man*B peace may strike in, and feather his darts with
what was once a mere speculation, and had been al-
most forgotten. Such was the judgment of good
Dr. Martm, founded on experience; and though he
was happily, ere long, released, the result may be
more serious with others. Hence the need of cau-
tion. Those who are at once metaphysical in their
taste,'and vain-glorious in their temperament, require
to be specially guarded. Youthful vanity and
thoughtlessness may lay the foundation for serious
conflicts at a season when the soul would most desire

3. Another suggested lesson is the insufficiency of
mere knowledge — ^literary, historical, philosophical — i j
to prevent crime, or to secure stable happiness. It is |
well known how confident many men are in regard to
the reverse of the proposition. They think ignorance
the great source of all evil, and general knowledge j
the sure and universal remedy for its iUs. But what
is the testimony of experience ? Were Hume or his
French Infidel friends happy, in the best sense of
the term ? or were they armed against sinful tempta-
tion ? We have already made full allowance for
the advantages of natural temperament and social
poration, of wluch Hume could boast. After all, we
have seen that his happiness was very limited and
qualified—that he was the advocate of sin and crime ;

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-while in regard to his French Mends it is notorious,
amid all their gaiety and wit, there was a yast
amount of real misery, combined with gross inmio-
rality and corruption. Yet -who can question that
these parties were familiar with varied knowledge —
far more knowledge than the mass of society, by all
schemes of mere secular education, can ever hope to
reach ? and how yain, then, is it to expect that mere
knowledge, distinct from divine knowledge, will re-
generate and rejoice society ? If it has failed in the
hands of Hume and of his friends, is it likely to be
more successfld with others? Nay, may it not be
feared that much at least of their knowledge, instead
of contributing either to the purity or happiness of
man, will, and must, have the very opposite effect ?
Who can question that the tendency of Hume^s moral
philosophy is to the relaxation of moral ties ? and
who can doubt, with the example of the French lite-
rati 0^ Hume^ days and of subsequent revolutionary
times before them, that knowledge, disjoined from
divine revelation, is not only weak as a restraint
against evil, but may prove an encouragement to sin ?
Let none, then, deceive themselves and society with
vain hopes. Where the Scriptures of truth are un-
known, general knowledge may be rendered subser-
vient, by Divine Providence, to moral restraint and
usefidness; but where God^s revelation is despised
and rejected, he is almost pledged to show the
vanity of any substitute of man*s devizing, by allow-
ing even philosophers to fall into moral degradation.
4. Our last remark respects the responsibility of
the Christian Church for the Infidelity of the world.
We apprehend that Hume stood so much upon in-
dependent ground of his own— was so much under
the influence of vain-glorious selfishness, in his scep-
ticism, that scarcely any condition of the Christian
Church would have made much difference on the
state of his personal convictions, or brought him
nearer to true religion; but we are strongly per-
suaded that the state of Christianity in his day, and
his own experience of professed ministers of Chris-
tianity, were well fitted to deepen and perpetuate his
personal Infidelity, and to give it strength and cur-
^ rency, through his works, on society. The footing on
I which Hume stood with Robertson, Blair, Jardine,
ICarlile, Home, and other ministers—their consenting
I to be silent on religion — the warmth of their friend-
ship, though he was busily subverting the foundations
'of aU religion, natural and revealed— their sneers at
I the more serious and godly part of the brethren in
the ministry — ^the freedom which they allowed him
to use in his correspondence with them, and the
service which they expected and received from him,
in connection with the distribution of Church
patronage— must all have given him a very unfavour-
able impression of the reality of their bHslief, or of
religious principle at all. What could Hume have
thought of Christianity, when a nunister of Christ
could write him in such terms as: *'The society at
Paris,'* says Dr. Blair, '*to one who has all your
advantages for ei^oying it in its perfection, is, I am
fully convinced, from all that I have heard, the most
I agreeable in the whole world." The ungodly, infidel,
immoral society of Paris, with which Hume wis sur-

rounded, is pronounced by a professed minister of the [
Gospel, the most agreeable in the whole world ! An- 1
other (Jardine), writes him: "The enemy had
kindled such a flame, that the old burning huh was
like to have been consumed altogether. I know it
will give you pleasure to hear that my endeavours to !
preserve her have been crowned with success.** What |
could an Infidel think of such sentiments and
language from a minister of Christ, who perfectly knew I
his character and views ? "

Such notices in the Correspondence, and others could i
be given, indicate, to say the least, a miserably low re- 1 \
ligious tone —a blending of Christianity and Infidelity ,
which could have no other result than to harden the \
sceptic and the scoffer. What effectual remonstrance
could either Blair or Jardine, or any clergyman of simi-
lar sphrit, present to tl^ progress of Infidelity ? Their
greatest strength must have been very weakness. Ac-
oordmgly, there is a visible growth of Infidelity in so-
ciety through the lifetime of Hume. At his start-
ing, there was the greatest resistance; as he advanc-
ed it lessened. In 1/44, when aiming after a pro-
fessorship of moral philosophy, Hume says: '* The
accusation of heresy, deism, scepticism, atheism, &c.,
&c., was started against me, but never took, being
borne down by the contrary authority of aU the good
company in town.** Eight years after, in 17.'>2, when '
appointed, after a contest, librarian of the Advocates*
Library, he says : " What is more extraordinary, the
cry about religion could not hinder the ladies from
being violently my partisans. I owe my success in
a great measure to their solicitations.** Twelve
years after, 1764, Blair writes : " The taste for French
literature grows more and more amongst us.** No ,
one can question that such Infidel literature as the '
French literature of that day could not increase in
its popularity apart from the previous and simulta-
neous spread of Infidelity; while the popular inter-
est and homage discovered at the Infidel*s interment,
and connected with the sepulchre, where, **on a Sun-
day evening, the company from a public walk in the
neighbourhood flocked in such crowds to the grave,
that Mr. Hume*B brother actually became apprehen-
sive upon the unusual concourse, and ordered the
grave to be nuled in with all expedition,** bespoke
the same unhappy progress.

There can be little question that the degeneracy
of the Church, or rather the Churches of Christ
—for, with slight exceptions, the decay was general
—had an important share in the creation and dis-
semination of the Infidelity of the age. Had the
Church been evangelical and her ministry fiuthful
and conristent, humanly speaking, the tone of society
could never have sunk so low. It is a melancholy
frbct, that the only man who seems to have written
to Hume on his death-bed, on the subject of reli-
gion—and the letter, confidering the party to whom
it was addressed, was well fitted to awaken serious
thought— was not a minister, but a layman at a dis- 1
tanoe, Mr. Strachan, the London bookseller. The
letter was probably too late to reach the dymg
man; but the fact, that it seems to have been the
only effort which was made to recall his mind to the
idea of an unseen world, and that upon his own prin- j

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ciples, is scdemn in itfelf, aDd peculiarly so as indioa-
thrc of the preralenoe of irreligion iod Infidelity.
Where now were all his clerical friends ? The whole
is well calcnlated to show the connection between Ir-
reKgioQ in the Church and Infidelity in society; and,
therefore, the reepoiieibility of the Church for the
Infidelity of the land. We do not say that there may
not, or that there has not been, decided Infidelity in
the midst of the purest Christianity; the rery suc-
cess of the work of the Si»rit of God may caU
up the zeal of the qfdrit of darknes, but eertainly
the tendency of Irreligion is towards Infidelity,
and the ooHdet and more corrupt the Churoh, the
arguments in behalf of Infidelity are always the
•troBger and the more popular. It if well for the
Church of Chxiit to feel that her lahoor ought not
to be limited to the irreligious making a profossioa
of the Christian name— thi^ the aTOwed Infidel hM
,0trong clanna upon her that a sexious part of the
responsibility of his unbelief, it may be, belongs to

We haTe detained our Christian readeralong with

these aucoessiTe papers on Infidelity iUusttated by

f^cts. We are afiraid that we may hare wearied soma;

but many important lessons are taught by thi|liTes

and the deaths of Infidels. Christian sko«ld not

think that they ure so far a-head of such scenes that

they hare nothing to learn from them. In onesenae

this is hajipily tmoy but mush instruction magp at the

same time be gathered from contrasts. A» the oee»-

sional study of Paganism, and liohaml■edaniso^ tad

.Judaism, and Popery is utefal, these acting as a foil,

, the better to bring out the right spirit and character

lOf ErangeBcal Truth; so is the occasional and serious

I contemplation of Infidelity fitted to rend the Glwis-

I tian TariooB and TaloaUe lessens lessons ef boond-

, less gratitnde to Qod for dirine rerelationy with afl

I its incomp tgable blessings, especially for Christ and

hia great saltation, with all the happiness^ punty>

land hope which those iamply— Issaons of humility,

j when Christians think that they can claim nothio^

jof 0od, tikat it is he who makes them to dtfisr fixwn

I fnfidfils, and that their inconsistency and unfhdtfisl-

I nces may have had a hand in making oc in ha»drning

I the sceptic,, and also when they compare their own

defects, in particular points, with the attainaMnts of

j eome unbelievers— Wessons ef deep symjpathy for tkose

lisfolved in the temptations and snanaof uidMief^

whilst their Infidelity ia condemned as rrianid

lessons of duty— as earnest desires and efforts to de*

, Irrer. In short, the surrey of Infidelity, m contrast

itoQospel ChriatiaMty, is weU fitted to kad Chris^

I tians to priae their distittguiBfaing prifvilsfss more

highly, to hold fast by them in the fiace of all hos*

I tility, and to use means to extend the experimental

' kno^dedge of them to others, ewen the most hardened

; and hopeless. We fed that^ if possibia,. oar own

oonrietifln of the tnithand exeeikncy of Etangelical

I ChristJaoity has been strengthened by reading the'

j biography of Hume, and drawing up thisse papevaas

i the result of onr meditationst Wo have seen how

I Uttle Infidelity oould do for its adfoeate^ even at its

I best estate— hew defectiye and miserable its attssn*-

aentst. cren in the most unsTi>piionsbk CMCt how

the powerful intellect of the greatest of Infidel pU-
losophers, with all the lights and advantages of an-|
cient aiul modem times, could not penetrate its way
to the certain proof of immortality withoBt rvfoln-
tion; or rather, arrived at the opposite ^^n^upjon ol
settled matfrislism. Instructed by the dtrknros '
the moral and religious doabts-~the misery of the
Bible r^ter— we grasp the Sdiptnea of truth with
a firmer hand, more satisfied than 0nr of the neoss j
Hty of diTUM rcTehttun; and we piay more earaeatly
that neither the character, the lifo^ nor the death of
Hume, withall its woridly glory, may be ours, ortfaat
of our children.


How insecure our state ! anon
What we now enjoyed is gone !
Come, and I wiU tell to thee
What things likest to it be.

A noble bark afloati saw>
She many wondering ^res did draw.
To admire her wondrous state.
Whereon tides and winds did wait.
Songs of gladness rose from her
As she gallantly did steer
Through the ehurmed deep. With a
The black whirlwind stoopeth down.
Its fierce wrath an hour didlast;
But when it was gone and past.
On the waters I did note
Some few wretched wrecks sfioat
The fair ship no more was seen.
Such onr mortal state, I ween;
A few days of brightest gladness,
A few dreams of highest hope;
Then, beneath the storm of sadnen.
Into death^s abyss we drop.


And right pleasant 'twas to be

In its shadow, there to mark

The good estato of every tsee*

Some were budding, some were dad

With their blossoms white and red^

Some with their full foliage made

In the noon a twilight shade.

The living brooks that here and than

Strayed, like happy spirits, were

Singing in the land of bliss

StiainS) all day, of happiness.

Glad was echo to prolong

In her rocky hannts that song.

In the bowem and branches high

There was endless minstrelqr

Of pairing birds, a thousand notes

Piping through mueic-hned throats.

The golden age *. it has not gon»|

We, my love, ha;^ lit upon

That joyful time-,^ our lifo-tent hew

Shall stend in peace fofi many a jsar!

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Scarce had I apokcn, when a blight
On the syinxi. reahu did light,
Sudden, ndselefls, and unseen—
Came it from yon skj serene ?
For the sky was sapphire bright.
And genial with the warm sunlight
Sickly grew the learee, and pale,
Now fiercely bit a frozen gale.
All the forest's beauty fled -
All was rotten, withered, dead !

Like goodly trees our hopes do grow.
And we lire their shade below,
Lonjong for the fruit; beneath
A worm doth gnaw— that worm is death.

On the riTer bank did dwell
A small happy family.
How often did I mark full well
That they liyed right happily I
Working, toiling, making shift.
By godly ways and honest drift.
To live in peace; and in their cell
Peace, in sooth, did long time dwell.
It was a sweet and pleasant nook
That home of theirs beside the brook.
With its plot of garden ground.
And small, well-cultured croft around.
Many a time the passer by
Turned that way his curious eye.
To admire; and welcome cheer
Oft found the homeless stranger here.
One autumn night, in deluge yast,
The murky sky its showers down cast;
Swift the river rose and rose,
Higher, higher every hour-
All its banks are buried deep;
Like a sea without a shore
It rages. . When the river fell
Within its banks you scarce could tell
Where the happy dwelling stood;
Sunk beneath the slime and muc^
To a heap of ruin gone ! —
So Time's flood doth strike upon
Our well-founded hopes: they perish
Those we did most fondly cherish.
When we lean upon them, they
By the waves are swept away.
And with them we fall, and lie
Buried in calamity !

My journey led one summer day
Through a lovely region, gay
With a thousand fairest flowers.
Star-like, clustering in its bowers.
Of them all, the fairest, sweetest.
Iris from its hues might borrow.

Online LibraryThomas CarlyleThe Christian treasury, Volume 2 → online text (page 142 of 145)