Thomas Carlyle.

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. Near for thy sool to fight.
Each strongest enemy
Shall «oon before thee fly;
In God's strength thou shalt beat them low,
And o'er their necks in triumph go."

The days of the believer s life upon earth are
not many. Three score and ten years he may
possibly bomber. Some get even beyond that
limit, and creep on a good way farther. How



present. The apostle's way was much whole-
somer, who protested that he died daily, having
his thoughts always bent on his own mortality,
and li\ing daily as, for aught he knew, each
day might be his last upon earth. We might
profitably copy after him, whose time is as un-
certain as Paul's, and who in preparedness for
death are, with it may be a few exceptions, in-
calculably short of him.

But whether one score or three score and ten
years be measured out for the believer — for
however short or long a time his footsteps may
mark this world, and hb voice be heard iu it —



many fall long before reaching that term of j his travel through the whole course of it is to



years measured out by the prophet ! far more
than those who see it — ^far more than those who
survive it. Those who see it experience long
before they reach it manifold infirmities. To
them it has been for a long while a downward
journey from the top of life. Before dissolu-
tion overtakes them and extinguishes the torch
of life, it has long been burning faintly; their
bodies are already rent with many chinks, and
almost decayed. Those who survive it, have
also survived many other things besides— their
friends and those things which, when alive and
vigorous, bound them with the strongest ties to
this world. Their bosoms are like sepulchres.
Entombed in them are most of those things
which were the chief sources of delight to them
under the sun. What has been said of old age
elsewhere may here be repeated : —

"Alaa, oldage! I pity thee;
Spring, summer, autumn past —
All human joy is long since past;
Death's darkness gathers fast.

''Alas, how soon shalt thou, old age,
To the church-yard be carried !
Even now, yea, long ago, thy joy
Has pined, has died, is buried!"

When condoling with old age and lamentmg
its infirmities, let us not overlook our own mor-
tality, and fall into the error which the poet
lays at the door of all men : —

" All men think all men mortal but themsdves,"
to which censure we all lie but too open. Let
us not dismiss it as an inconvenient intruder
which it were better to give countenence and
entertainment to some future time than at the
No. 35 •



be a difficult and hazardous travel to his soul.
His life here is not a continual walking in the
sunshine along pleasant and flowery paths; but
often also in darkness, and sometimes as it were
through the bowels of hell — if his experience is
to run parallel with that of most of the servants
of the Lord who have gone before him, and
whose experience has been recorded by the
Spirit for his help. Our Saviour frequently
admonishes of this, that we may not pervert
the promises, and interpret them as the Jews
did, of carnal things; thinking that a sinless
paradise may still be found upon earth, and life
so shaped as to have all evil and bitterness shut
out of it. Our Lord admonishes his disciples
to ** be of good cheer,'* for he has overcome the
world. In taking this exhortation and apply-
ing it to every purpose of consolation, we are
not to overlook what goes before : * In the world
ye shall have tribulation." How absolutely is it
stated ! It is not, possibly, probably, perad-
venture ye shall have tribulation; but " Ye shall
have tribulation.** The Apostle Paul often enjoins
the believer to rejoice : " Rejoice evermore. Re-
joice in the Lord alway, andagain Isay, Rejoice."
But he also warns of trial (none more distinctly) ;
none had greater experience of it than himself.
What formed the texture of his own experi-
ence, he could more than guess would likely
form that of all who served the same Master,
and walked in the same path. Thus, whilst
he describes the believer as rejoicing in hope,
he immediately adds : ** Patient in tribulation."
Those whom the Apostle John saw in glory,
were such as had come out of great tribulation,
who had washed their robes and made them



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THE CHRISTIAN TREASURY.



white in the blood of the Lamb. listening to
the voices of pain and anguish that oiy to us
out of all past time, you shall be able to distin-
guish those of believers walking throngh dark
places, and in manifold temptations.

The sources of the believer's trials are not
obscure and hidden. The region whence those
clouds and darkness are blown which so annoy
and envelop him, is not an unknown land. It
lies near at hand. It is that over which his
travel Zionward lies.

" How lies the course of our mortal life ?
Come tell me, through what land? —
A couTBe of pain, through a land of woe.
And terror on either hand.

'* By the borders of death and the edge of hell.
Through storm and cloud alway. —
By Heaven's light he must steer, who thinks
To steer for the realms of day.^*

But not only is the believer's path a rough
and difficult one; it is also crowded with
enemies, like locusts for number and destruc-
tiveness. They are many and strong. Never
asleep, that a march might be stolen upon
them and escape effected; ever watchful as the
lidless di-agon that guarded the tree in the
garden of the Fates. Who are they! Legion,
it might be answered, for they are many. To
begin with the heart, the believer's heart : ** The
heart is deceitful above all things, and despe-
rately wicked; who can know it!" It is full of
deceit, treachery — all wickedness; so full that
no one can know it. With all his experience
of ity the believer knows but a little of it. He
has never seen all its wickedness. There are
depths of sin in it which he has never fathomed,
which he cannot fathom, for they are bottom-
less. It is only by the light of Grod's Word,
the candle of the Lord, that he can make any
discovery of the plagues of his own heart.
Carefully searching it with this light in his
hand, he will discover much — enough for ever
to humble him, and shut his month against all
boasting. But man sees not as the Lord sees;
and whatsoever discovery any one may make
of the evil of his own hearty there is still a
plague that lies hidden; and in that which he
does see there is a complexity and deep-
grainedness of sin which he cannot unravel or
comprehend. After all his soundings of his
own heart, there is a depth of wickedness be-
neath, and no line of his can reach the ground
of it> T Inside and outside the gates of the heart
there U a continual passing to and fro, a stir
and commotion of evil thoughts and desires— a



readiness at all times to betray the Lord, and
go over to the enemy. ^ Keep thy heart with
all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life."
Many oUier enemies has he besides the wicked-
ness of his own heart. It is this wickedness,
however, that makes them so dangerous, and
gives them such strength and power. But for
it they were toothless, and could inflict but little
injury, and gain but little advantage. But many
there are that thrive by the wickedness of the be-
liever's own heart, and, by taking advantage of it,
assault and often grievously wound him. Above
all, there is Satan; he goes about continually
like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may de-
vour. Conversion is a delivering of the soul
from the power and bondage of Satan, a casting
of him down from his high places. His king-
dom is then thrown down in the soul, and the
captive delivered out of the hand of the mighty.
But he does not finally depart and give up all
hope, but rather redoubles his diligence, if so be
he may succeed in again imposing his yoke and
fetters. He lies about, lurking in ambush round
the soul; he goes round the city like a dog, like
a lion prowling, gnashing his teeth and raven-
ing. In the city he has many friends, who
would £Eun do him efficient service, willing to
open and betray fdl. He shoots into the heart
the fiery darts of hell, and makes them stick
and rankle in the conscience, so as to put the
believer often to the rack, and rend asunder his
rest and peace, said mightily disturb his com-
fortable walk with the Lord Jesus. How he
will stir up and foment wicked desires, mistrust-
ful surmises, downright unbelieving thoughts^
about the ways, providence, and faithfulness of
God ! How often did he assail our Lord in the
wilderness, and elsewhere ! He could not ex-
pect to succeed against him. How much more
will he assault the Lord's followers, whom he
knows well to be in themselves but sinful dust
and ashes; upon whom he therefore hopes to
practise with success— if not to slay theni, for
that he cannot, yet sorely to wound them and
make them halt ! How eagerly does he wi^h
every thought, every motion of the soul, if he
may bend it to his own evil purposes! He is as
crafty and wise as he is strong. He prevailed
upon many angels in glory to marshal them-
selves imder his rebellious standard. As for the
believer, how weak he is ! for weakness a worm :
"Thou worm Jacob" — ^* We wrestle not against
flesh and blood, but against principalities,
against powers, against the rulers of the dark-
ness of this world, against spiritual wickedness
in high places.*' But for grace it would never



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DAVID HUME.



411



come to a wrestling with the believer; he would
utterly fall before the enemy before the issne
was so much as joined. The following prayer
in temptation is very suitably and wdl oon-
eeiTed: —

« Thou hast me made; and shall thy works decay?
Repair me now, for now mine end dotl^ haste.
I nm to death, and death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are Bke yesterday.
I dare not move my dim eyes any way,
Despair behind, and death before me cast
Such terror; and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which it towards hell doth weigh.
Only thou art abore, and when towards thee,
By thy leave, I can look, I rise again;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me.
That not one hour myself I can sustain;
Thy grace may wing me to prevent his art.
And thou, like adamant, draw mine own heart.^

The mercifnl care of the Lord oyer his people
should next be observed, as it appears in Uie
provision he has made for them against the time
of trial and temptation. He has provided suit-
able defences for them against their adversarias.
The adversaries, the strife, the armour, are de-
scribed by the apostle : ** For we wrestle not
against flesh and blood, bnt against principali-
ties, against powers, agidnst the rulers of the
darkness of this world, against spiritual wicked-
ness in high places. Wherefore take nnto you
the whole armour of God, that ye may be able
to withstand in the evil day, and having done
all, to stand. Stand, therefore, having yonr
loins girt about with truth, and having on the
breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod
with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the
sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
Praying always with idl prayer and supplication
in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all
perseverance, and supplication for all saints."

The breastplate of righteousness, the helmet
of salvation — two of the pieces of this heavenly
armour. The head and heart, the two eminently
vital parts; both in the highest sense seats of
life. A serious injury inflicted on either, and
the life is gone. The Hmbs may be hewn and
mangled in battle with many a sword blow, and
yet the life be preserved. Not so with the head
and the heart, the citadels of life. Bighteous-
ness and salvation are the armour provided for
these; both of invulnerable proof, as they are
the defences of the life's vitafity, and as against
these the main attack of the enemy may be ex-
pected. It is a common thing with Satan (and
thousands have experienced it— perhaps every
true believer has, at one period or another



of his Christian course) to thrust at the heart
with a temptation like the following : Taking
advantage of the smarting of the believer's con-
scienoe under a sense of sin, innumerable short-
comings, and infinite unworthiness, he throws
aainsinuatioQ like this into the heart: How can
sodi a one as thou art hope for mercy ? What
should the Lord have to do in delivering such
a sinner as thou art I Consider how often thou
hast provoked him. How long hast thou wearied
him with thy iniquities! how grievously hast
thon abused his chiefest mercies! how often
hast thou pot him to an open shame, yea, cruci-
fied him afresh ! Now, thou hast fallen under
fear and terror; how reasonably may the Lord
now laugh at thy calamity, and mock thee now
that thy fear has come upon thee! He le-
(tpanOi hQUness in all his. Thou hast none;
your righteousness is as filthy rags; this thou
must acknowledge. Surely there can be no
hope for thee.

Many believers have been so tempted, and
that for a long and sad season. And who
knows but such a temptation it may be thine to
&11 under! Under such a temptation how
securely may the humble believer plead the
righteousness of Christ! Let him fully admit
all that Satan charges against him in reference
to his own exceeding sinfulness and worthless
estate; it is all true. A great deal more is true;
but what can the tempter bring against the
righteousness of Christ ! No charge against it
can alight; no flaw can be found in it; no
weapon of the enemy can prevail against it. It
can stand all trials of all the darts of hell.
When the righteousness of Christ is presented
to his attack, the enemy will soon leave ihe
field.

Bnt our space is exhausted, and the reader
must be left to pursue his own meditations.

F.

DAVID HUME.
NO. in.

Pasbxitg from the pdnts of character which have
been fiotioed, we proceed to observe, that Hume
indicates a hw moral $ens$ upon vemous most tisi-
portant duiiet and virtuet. It is not necessary to
inquire how &r this may have sprung from hn
vanity, or be distinct irom it. The facts are too
serious to be passed over. We notice them sepa-
rately.

1. Our Infidel phik>sopher had a low sense of the
claims of truth in general As a rational creature,
as a man of education who had received many mer-
cies from God— above all, as a philosopher, and
moral and religious reformer, he was bound to have



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THE CHRISTIAN TEEA8UEY.



a ncred affection for Truth in all departments of in-
qairy and pursuit— seriously and impartiaUy to search
for her— to embrace and retain her at eyery sacrifice
of prejudice— to propagate her, in the fihce of all
danger and opposition, to the ends of the world.
Was this the spirit or the practice of Hume ? Will
any of his warmest admirers pretend that such was
his character ? Will not most who know anything
I of the man contend, and with great show of reason,
' that his practice embodied the rerj opposite of what
is here described as duty ?

I It seems frequently to be matter of doubt whether
Hume differed from the mass of mankind as really
' and extensively as he appeared— whether his scep-
ticism was not of the sportive kind, suggested by the
love of argument and of controversy. On the death
of his mother he was tenderly affected; and on being
cocfioled with as one who could not entertain the
hopes enjoyed by others, of meeting with dear friends
in another world, he put the condolence away firom
' him, by remarking that, though he liked to indulge
in argument, he differed less fr^m hii friends than
they imagined. We are disposed to give all due
weight to this explanation; but we are afraid it will
not avail to any serious extent. Granting that Hume
often assumed a character in his reasoning with his
friends, the very fact of his doing co— at least of his
leaving it uncertain, on the most momentous ques-
tions, whether he were arguing from conviction or for
I mere reasoning^s sake— would indicate no very deep
sense of the claims of truth, while his deliberate and
' repeated publications, spreiwi over a life-time, and
elaborately corrected and defended, exclude the idea
of the sportive, save at a more serious imputation
upon his character. There can be no reasonable
question that, in the mass, Hume^ writhigs express
his real sentiments ; and how inconsistent his mdde
of treating Truth, compared with her claims ! He
was careless about ascertaining the truth. Though
a laborious student of books, there is no evidence of
his ever seriously reading, far less regularly searching,
the Book of books. We find in his correspondence and
works ample evidence of his acquaintance with the
ancient classics, and also with modem literature.
Foreign as well as British, but no evidence of hb ac-
quaintance with the Scriptures ; and that, though no
small part of his writings affected morals and religion.
There are, indeed, a few Scripture texts and allu-
sions, but where not introduced in an improper spirit,
they seem to have been the mere recollections of
childhood. We have no evidence that the man
whose principles were sapping revelation, had ever
seriously considered its claims so far as solemnly and
prayerfully to read through the New Testament.

This was a bad preparation for fidelity in ordinary
history. Accordingly, we do not wonder to learn
that, while most carefhl about his style and mode of
expression, even in his private letters, while he labo-
riously corrected any errors as to these, he was cul-
pably careless about the facts of his History. He
would not endure the toil of thoroughly exploring
the dry Parliamentary and other documents, which
are essential to complete and accurate knowledge.
In short, he was more concerned about the manner



than the matter, the varnish than the sobftanoe.
Hence his general inaccnracy, and, in fact, his
gross ii^justice to the Reformers, and such char-
acters as Sir Walter Raleigh, and Prynne, ih«
persecuted Puritan. It is strongly maintained by
those who do not speak without anthority, that
Hume not only would not avail himself of the
materials of true history placed within his re&di,
but that he perverted the materials lying open
before him ; so that, if fully quoted, they woukl
have been found to have contradicted hb state-
ments. If secular history were treated in this way,
the reader may judge what chance sacred history
had of justice at his hands— history so deeply wound-
ing to his prejudices. Professor Dugald Stewart,
indeed, in his Prelinunary Dissertation to the £d-
cydopsedia Britannica, takes credit to Hume for a
love of truth, from a desire to submit his Treatise
on Human Nature to the inspection of Bishop Butler
previous to its publication; but the course which he
pursued in the matter brings out a fr«sh view of hit
disregard for the claims of truth. What savs he him-
self in a private letter to Lord Karnes ? Speaking
of his work, he says: *' I am at present cutting off iu
nobler parU— thai is, endeavouring it shall give 3>
little offence as possible; before which I could not
pretend to put it into the Doctor"^ hands. This is a
piece of cowardice for which I hlatne myself^ though 1
believe none of my friends will blame me.*^ Was this
honourable or manly— like the bve of truth, or Iike|
anxiety, let consequences be what they may, to findj
it ? Was this the way in which the sacred writers, and
those who are imbued with theur spunt, treated truth }
Hume condemned himself for the cowardly suppres-
sion, and yet he continued to act upon the principle.
For ten years he kept back hb doctrine on the sub-
ject of miracles, and hb utilitarian theory of morals,
though he deemed them of high importance. Nc
doubt, there b a prudence to be observed in the com-
munication even of truth. Scripture acts upon tbt
principle of teaching men as they are able to bear
but thb b not the position of Hume. Not out of re-
gard to the good of others, but in cowardly fear aboui
himself, he held back what he believed to be imme-
diately important, and what, but from fear of hb owl
intererts, he would have made known. Is thb iLc
champion of truth ? Is he not rather its betrayer :
One thing b clear, that upon IIume''8 principle, trutl
never would have had any martyrs, at least, he wcult"
not have been one of the number. Acting in the
manner which he did, it b imposmble that he coul(3
have had any deep impression of the value and obli-
gation of truth.

And the same superficial impression b apparent in
hb abstaining from zealous means of propagatlcn.
If a man love the truth, he will feel the obligation
of making it known to others. God gives the know
ledge of truth on the express condition that it be
propagated. If a man do not zealously propagate
what he professes to believe to be true, we have
great reason to doubt whether he really believes in its
high claims. Certainly, under the restriction which
has been noticed, Hume was a busy writer and pro
pagator of hb views through the press, but it b r»



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DAVID HUME.



4U



wtoMblb thai here his kbonn oeaaed. Whether
fgom poUcy, a seme of hiBeoiirity, or a fear of losing
lii temper, he aroided oontroTerrf in societj, and
le a rule not to answer those who repHed to him
n thnmi^ the press. He nerer spoke in prirate
•MMty of his pecnliar opiniona, though he considered
them Terj important. The condition of his intercourse
witii deiioal finends was, that they were to he silent
«n the sobjeot of religion. 80 little did many appre-
h&od from the society of Hume, that we are informed
be was a great favourite with ladies and children,
and that he never attempted to bias their views in
fii^oiir of his own. Some may think this a creditable
toanty eavooring of the cafan and impartial. We
boBbiy apprehend that it is treadiery to troth,
nring that the party has no just impressions of the
obUgations of troth, and very impofectly believes
whast he professes to hold as true — at least is pre-
faced to make no saciiftce of ease and social comfort
and woridly firiendahip in Us behalf. What a eom-
iBMt to the inspired propagators of truth I-*to the
spirit and conduct of Him who is emphatically The
T^nith ! Was the man who held truth so lightly, and
WM prepared to suffer so little in its behalf, warranted
to rob others of their fiuth in a truth which animated
its holders, where neoesssiy, to submit to the loss of
%B things P An anecdote is related, not by Hume^fe
pcesent biographer, but by an authority which seems
vnqastionable (Dr. Ufegory)-~that on the philosopher
being asked whether. If he had a wife or daughter, he
vronld wish them to be his disciples, he replied,
'^No; I believe seeptidsm may be too sturdy a virtue
fior a woman.**

If this like truth, and the highest truth, to be
limiied to men, and it may be only a small part of
on ? How unlike to revealed truth on the same
•oljeets, which is thrown open to all ! and how
am Hume^ poor narrow viewsof truth in connection
with woman rebuked by the fact, that the female
aex axe the very partiss who have stood undauntedly
snd to the hist in defence of persecuted truth! What
acontrast their courage to the philosopher^ timidity !
How they might act under the influence of Infidelity
Is anotiier questioii. Thus have we seen ttiat Hume
iadicates a low moral sense in regard to the claims
cf truth in general; and that this is apparent in his
carelessness in asserting the truth, his cowardice in
AiUy unfolding it, and his want of seal and courage in
propagating it.

2. We notice, secondly, his low moral sense in the
want of honesty and truth between man and man,
and his consequent gross injustice to many who
merited a different treatment at his hands. Enters
tafadng poor impressions of the obligation of truth in
general, it is not wonderful that his observance of
relative truth was most defective; and yet this is a
sort of morality in which mere men of the world
pride themselves. How disgraceful that a philoso-
pher should fall short of the attainments of men who
make no pretension either to religion or philo-
•ophy ! Hume speaks of justice, not as a natural but
artifknal virtue, depending entirely on the arbitrary
institutions of men and civil society, and by no means
therefore incumbent. Holding this as a principle,



need we be surprised that he was nnfSsithfhl to his
fiallow-men in many forms ?

An ordinary sense of honour and justice, we
think, should have led a man denying and hating
revelation, and maintainiTig the principles of Infi-



Online LibraryThomas CarlyleThe Christian treasury, Volume 2 → online text (page 95 of 145)