Thomas Carlyle.

The Christian treasury, Volume 2 online

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delity and Athdsm, to have abstained from any
interference with the appointments of the Christian
Church. Plainly these were beyond his province.
Common propriety should have dictated this; but
no. Hume had no moral scruples. Through £riends
he actively exercised patronage in the Church of
Scotland, the Church of Ireland, and the Church of
Rome in France. However striking an illustration
the fad may afford of the absurdity of Church patron-
age, it also furnishes a striking proof of Hume^s low
moral aense in transactions between man and man.
If the current belief be oorreot, and there is nothing
in the ** Life** to eontradict, but rather confirm it,
tiiat he at one time contemplated an Irish bishopric
for himself, as the reward of his political and literary
services, the dreumstance would only bring out his
wretched morality in a still more impressive form.
In keeping with this low moral feeling in regard to
Church patronage, if not a serious aggrsration pass-
ing into direct hypocrisy, it may be added, that Hume
(at least during the two years he resided in France in
the later period of his life) regularly attended the
ambassador^ diapel; in other words, professedly
joined in Pkotestant worship, wliile all the time a
thorough unbeliever ! nay, that when in Scotland he
kept seats in church for his servants, and called them
to acooont fbr supposed absence I How can this con-
duet be denominated? Surely by no other term save
hypocrisy. Could an honest or an honourable man
in his dealings with his fellow-men have acted in this
manner ? Then what a want of truth was there in
his confounding true Christianity with Popery, though
he could not but know that intelligent Christians held
the one to be a gross corruption of the other ! — ^in
qfMaking, in his Essay on Miracles, of " our holy
religion,*^ kc^ leaving his reader to suppose that
he was a Christian, and so throwing the reader the
more effectually off hhi guard I— and in writing a
review of the work of Henry the historian, in the
course of which he takes occasion to praise Robert-
son and Blair as pillars of Christianity, and speaks
of Infidelity with concern, as a Christian would be
supposed to speak of it ! What gross insincerity and
hypocrisy must have been here !

Descending from religion proper to the more or-
dinary transactions of man with man, we mark the
same absence of strict truth and honesty. He deals
in the grossest flattery of Madame Doufflers, of which
a philosopher of sense might well have been ashamed. |
According to his friend Robertson, he wrote the
Anglo-Saxon period of his History slightly and super-
ficially, because it was paid for before it was composed
— ^the very reason, with an honourable mind, why the
greater pains should have been bestowed upon it ; and
in regard to the History as a whole, apart from the
mere influence of prejudice, from which none are alto-
gether free, it may safely be pronounced a monument
of unfairness and dishonesty, full of injustice to the
principles and character of many. Gilbert Stuart,

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I in hiB " View of the Society of Europe," speaks of
the " many grosa and vUfvl errora of Home," and
points some of them out. Lord Gardenstone, in his
** Critical Remarks on Eminent Historians/* says of
Hmne, " It was his misfortune to des^nse accuracy
of research, and fidelity of citation; while detection
flashed in his fiice, he commonly adhered to what-
ever he had once written. He sometimes asserts a
positive untruth, contradicted by the very authori-
ties whom he pretends himself to be quoting, but
more commonly gains his purpose by suppressing the
whole evidence on the opposite side of the question.**
The Rev. Dr. McQueen, one of the ministers of Edin-
burgh, eminent as a scholar as well as a divine, ex-
posed, at the moment of publication, the dishonesty
and injustice of the Infidel historian, in a series
of admirable ^ Letters;** while in later times, Mr.
Brodie, the present historiographer for Scotland, has
made a most searching exposure in his *' History of
the British Empire**— an exposure which we are glad
to learn he means to continue. Indeed, it is a happy
arrangement in providence, that the same Infidel
pen which was so uig'ust to religious men, was not
more merciful to the friends of civil liberty. Hence,
all who sympathize with the former obtun the bene-
fit of the defensive labour of the latter. But we
need not appeal to authorities; the careless dis-
honesty of Hume is apparent from statements of
the biographer, and his own letters, now pub-
lished. Not only was he averse to the study of British
law — a study which was essential to the ooirectness
of his statements and conclusions— but where fur-
nished with valuable materials, as in the Memoirs of
James II., written by himself, he made the most
meagre and inadequate use of them. Was this the
spirit of a man who really loved honesty and up-
rightness.' Lord Brougham, in his memoir of
Hume, attempts to apolo^^ for him, by saying
that he wrote too hastily. This may be true as a
fact, but it is no real excuse. Why write in a haste
mconsistent with doing justice to the parties more
immediately concerned? He was not pressed by
penury. Does this not of itself discover a low sense of
what was due to truth ? He could be slow and elabo-
rate when it suited his humour. He kept back his
Dialogue on Natural Religion for thirty years, and
even in his History there are ample evidences of
care and elaboration as respects the style. Why in
such haste about the more important materials?
Moreover, rapidity in composition is not always in-
consistent with the claims of justice and truth.
Some of the writings of his brother Infidel Voltaire,
were written in as great haste as Hume*8 Histoxy,
but not interfering with his prejudices, are not open
to the same charges.

The crowning proof, however, of Hume*8 utter
want of truth and justice between man and man re-
mains to be noticed, and that is a private letter
only partially and reluctantly quoted by Lord
Brougham, but now published at length, which


OF LTiNQ. With all the laxity of his moral prin-
ciples, few-, perhaps, would have been prepared
for such an exhibition. It is in perfect harmony,

however, with the facts which we have bean stating^
as well as his own system. ApplyinginbehaJf of an
Infidel friend for an i^pointment in the Church of
England, Hume, not in the folly ofyouth,or the
weakness of age, but at fifty-three, a season of ma-
turity and vigour, thus attempts to vindicate, or !
rather state, the case :~

Addressing Colonel Edmonstone in 1764, he says : !
** What! do you know that Lord Bute is again all-
powerful, or rather that he was always so, but is now
acknowledged for such by all the world ? Let this be ;

a new motive for Mr« V to adhere to the ecdeo- '

astical profession, in which he may have so good a <
patron; for dvil employments for men of letters can \
scarcely be found; all is occupied by men of businesa,
or by Pariiamentaxy interest. It is putting too great
a respect on the vulgar, and on thei? superstitions, |
to pique one*S self on sincerity with regard to than.
Did ever one make it a point of hcmour to speak I
truth to children or madmen ? If the thing were
worthy bmg treated gravely, I should tell hfan that I
the Pythian oracle, with the approbation of Zeno- 1
phon, advised every one to worship the gods. I wish
it were still in my power to be a hypocrite m this
particular. The common duties of society usually
require it; and the ecclesiastical profession only adds
a littie more to an innocent dissimulation, or rather
simulation, without which it is impossible to pass
through the world. Am I a liar, because I order my
servant to say I am not at home^ when I do not dedre
to see company?**

Of course, by " the vulgar and their superstition,**
we are to understand Christians and Christianity.
Philosophers put too great respect upon them, by
being sincere ! They are fair game, and lying and
fiUsehood are good enough for them. What a miser-
able exhibition of boasted philosophy! Hume wishes
it were still in his own power to be a hypocrite— that
is, if he could make monqr by his hypocrisy. Un-
happy man ! wretched master of logic as well as of
morals. " Did ever one,** says he, ** make it a p<Mnt
of honour to speak truth to children and tniimffi p )«
Yes, thousands and tens of thousands of better men
than David Hume, have felt it a point of con-
science as well as honour; and experience has pro-
claimed that they were right, that it is the only
successful way of treating either. No guardian even
of the insane can dispense with truth. The attempt
to do so has been found a feital error in medicine as
well s^ morals. Such was Hume in the common-
place morality which presides over the dealings of
man with man. What a humiliating picture of
character does he present ! And this is the person
to denounce patriarchs, and prophets, and apostles,
reformers and martyrs— men who loved truth, who
exemplified it in their own i>er8ons, and who, when
called by principle, cheerfully sacrificed life in its

3. But there is still another iUustration of Hume*s
low moral sense. We refer to the light views which
he entertained of conjugal infidelity. He speaks '* of
the monkish virtues of mortification, penance, humi-
lity, and passive suffering,** thus insidiously classing
the Christian virtues of mortification of sin, and hu-


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mflity, and rengnation, with penance, and denouncing
them as monkish; and not contented with giring an
faKUrect loosening to the passions, be speaks of adul-
tery in the lightest, and therefore the most atrodoos,
terms. Dr. Beattie has giren the substance of his
sentiments in the well-known statement: ''That
adultery must be practised if men would obtain all
the advantages of life ; that, if generally practised,
it would in time cea^e to be scandalous ; and that,
if practised secretly and frequently, it would by
degrees come to be thought no crime at all.^*
Marrellous to tell, Hume described the work in
which adultery is thus spoken of— -m., his** Essay
Concerning the Prinoiplee of Morals*^ — '*as, of all
my writings, historical, phUosophioal, and literary,
incomparably the best.*^

Nor were tiiese awful sentiments— «> destructiTe to
the law both of God and of man— such an out-
rage on decent society— a mere monstrous theory:
Hume acted upon them in) his intercourse with
men. He treated his French friends and admirers,
HTii^ in open immorality, with the greatest respect
He never whispered a word of dissatisfaction at
their conduct; nay, at the mature !age of fifty-three,
he entered into a warm and protracted corres-
pondence with Madam de Boufflers, who had been
liring for years, and was lirhig at that thne, in undis-
guised adultery with the Prince of ContL On the
death of her husband, Hume laboured to prerail upon
the prince to acknowledge her as his wife; not from
any detestation of the crime, but that she might be
raised to ** a station suitable to her merit ;^ and on
being unsuccessful, he tolls us that he was more agi-
tated by the various turns of this afiair, than by
" ahnoet any event in which I was ever engaged.** So
deep was the interest which he felt in an unblush-
ing woman. And this was not a solitary case.
His biographer admits that many of the literary
society of France, in which Hume bore a part, were
thorough profligates; and that, morally considered,
the state of things was hideous, and yet, that the
actors were insensible to its hideousness. To refer to
one or two indiridual instances. D*Al0mbert, the
philosopher, was a great favourite of Hume's, so
much so that the latter left him a legacy of £200,
and describes him thus : ** In a word, I scarce know
a man who, with some few exceptions (for there must
always be some exceptions), is a better model of a
virtuous and philosophical character/' Yet this
very man was living in open immorality. This was
not the only case; Diderot was another. Hume
expressly mentions him among those whose per-
son and conversation he liked best; and yet, what is
the account of him which is given in the Bdinburgk
Review of 1813, apparently by the present Lord Jef-
frey ? He telb us that he cannot read his writings
without a portion of disgust— that there is a tone of
blackguardism, indelicacy, and profianity, quite shock-
ing. He adds (and this includes all Hume's French
friends) : " The whole tribe of French writers who
have had any pretensions to philosophy for the last
seventy years, are infected with a species of inde-
licacy which is peculiar, we think, to their nation^
* Efsay on Troth, part II., ch. I.

and strikes us as more shameful and offensive than
any other."

It is not necessary to refer to Rousseau, as he could
not be reckoned among Hume's friends, a bitter '
quarrel having hopelessly separated them. It may !
only be noticed, that it was not Rousseau's notorious
profligacy which repelled Hume— that in the midst of |
this the Scottish philosopher could say: ''I am sensible
that my connections with him add to my importance |
at present"- but other causes. It may be added, that |
the prodigious influence which this man's writings '
exerted in France, and the popular worship in which |
he was held by all classes, form a striking proof of
the moral hideousness of French society at the time.

{From, the Princeton Beview,)
Wb here insert two tables relating to the early
chronology of the world, prepared by one oi
our correspondents, the Rev. J. U. Parsons, of

Table I — From the creation to the Floodyexkihiling,
1, the number of yeart that each Patriarch toot
contemporary tnth the other, 2, The yeart of the
icorU in which each teas bom and died. 3, The
aye of each.


r: : l:



•^ Oi CO C« O Or Of 0»

CO'— OOCnOf O ©












Shem, &c





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From this table several veiy valuable points
of information are gained. The thought has
probably arisen in the mind of every liberal
student, " Is there not reason to apprehend that
the account of creation and of the early events
in the history of the world, such as the garden
of Eden, the temptation, fall and expulsion of
our first parents, &c., would be greatly corrupted
by passing through so many generations, when
there were no letters to perpetuate a historical
event ! Would not the imaginations of men,
and the love of the marveUous, intermingle
much of fancy with truth, in the account trans-
mitted to subsequent generations?**

This sceptical suggestion arises from the idea
that the story must have passed through many
narrators, and that few opportunities of com-
paring and correcting one account by another
were enjoyed. Look at the table as illustrating
these points.

1. And first, the number of times that the story
must be repeated by different persons. NofJi
and his three sons could receive the account of
j creation at the second rehearsal, and that
through several distinct channela 1. Adam
could relate it to Enos for 695 years, and Enos
to Noah for eighty-four years. Or, 2. Adam,
during 605 years, could discourse of it to Cai-
naan, and Cainaan 179 years to Noah. Again,
3. Adam could rehearse it for 535 years to
Mahalaleel, and Mahalaleel for 224 years to
Noah. 4. Adam had 470 years to instruct
Jared in those sublime facts, and Jared was
contemporary 366 years with Noah. Through
these four distinct channels Noah could receive
a direct account from Adam. But again, 5.
Adam lived till Methuselah was 243 years old,
! time enough surely to obtain an accurate know-
ledge of all those facts pertaining to the dawn
i of created existence; and Methuselah lived 600
j years with Noah, and 100 with his three sons.
And once more, 6. Adam Uved to see Lamech,
the father of Noah, till he was fifty-six years
old, and Lamech lived with Noah 595 years,
and ninety-five years with Shem, Ham, and
Japheth. Through these six channels the ac-
! count could be brought down to the time of the
! flood.

! Now the directness of this conmiunication is
the same as the following. My grandfather
' was a sergeant in the revolutionary war, and
! was wounded in the arm by a musket ball. How
I do I know that, seeing he died before my birth ?
' He related it to his children, among whom was
my mother, and she to me. He was contem-
' porary thirty years with her, and she twenty-five
I years with me, and that fact is as well esta-
blished, distinct, and certain to my mind as any
recorded in history. Precisely such was the
I directness of Noah and his sons' information
I relative to creation ; and at the same time the
certainty of accuracy was increased by much
' lonj>er periods of contemporary life, and a six-
fold chain of testimony.

2. This table shows how many oppcninniiiea
there were of comparing and correcting different
accounts. The perpendicular column of nameB
shows how many were contemporary with genera
ations before them, and the figures in the hori-
zontal line denote the number of years commoii
to both. Thus, Jared was contemporary with
Adam 470 years, with 8eth 582, Enos 680,
Cainaan 775, Mahalaleel 830, and with himaelt
962. The horizontal column of names, and the
perpendicular line of figures under them, show
the generations after them with which each was
contemporary, and the length of time. Thus
take the name Jared over the perpendicolar
line of figures, and follow it down, and he will
be found to have lived with his son Enoch 365
years, and survived him, with Enoch's son
Methuselah 735 years, with Lamech 546, and
Noah 366.

These two combined, show the whole nund>er
of generations with which each was oontem-
poraiy. Thus, Adam was contemporaiy with
none before him, but all after him down to
Lamech. Again, take the horizontal name
Methuselah, and trace it along the horizontal
line of figures, and yon find him contemporaiy
with all before him, till you come to himself;
then turn down the column under his name, and
he is contemporary with all after him down to
the very year of the flood, being 100 years
with Shem and his brothj^n.

In this way it will be found that all the
generations from Adam to the flood were elevem.
Of all these Adam was contemporary wiUi nine^
Seth with nine, Enos ten, Cainaan ten, Maha-
laleel ten, Jared ten, Enoch nine, MeUiuselah
eleven, Lamech eleven, Noah eight, Shem and
brothers four. Thus there were never less than
nine contemporary generations from Adam to
the flood, which would give, in one lineal de-
scent, eighty ^>ne different channels, throqgh
which Uie account might be transmitted.

3. Another . important point illustrated by
this table, is the occurrence of the flood at the
precise time, and the only time, when it could
have occurred, without contradicting the sacred
history, and the chronological account. The
reason assigned in sacred h^ry for the deluge,
was the great wickedness of men, for which
all were to be destroyed, except Noah and his
family. Now, if the flood had occurred ten
years sooner than it did, it would have invi^ved
Methuselah and Lamech in the destruction of
the wicked ; for the former lived to the veiy
year of the flood, a.m. 1656, and the latter
within five years of it, aji. 1651. And again
it would have involved a contradiction ; for if
the ark had been completed in fifty instead of
100 years, and the age of Methuselah and
Lamech had been given as it is, it would
have brought their death fifty years after ^
flood! And there is not one year from the
creation, at which the date of the flood could
have been fixed without involving such a con-

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, iradictiMi, till the veiy date given! This is a
^ 'very remarkable coincidence, and, if the ac-
' coiiBis eiven are fabrications, a most fortunate
escape Irom a fatal blunder.

TjlBLB IL^From the Flood to Ahrahamy Itaae,
and Jacob.


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t— lO ►- to t3 ^ 1^ *•
•—• ^ -^ O *». W OS O O CO

00 09 Of St ooo S <5 CO So

. — ^-toi—iaw





O ife ^ -vl i»i. H- 00 Cjt hS W &f Of ^



0»»Mifi - ^C0Ci05^o50>OiC















Jacob. .


, The results of the second table are no less
striking and instructive. Who ever imagined,

! without making the comparison, that Noah lived
to see Abram sixty years old, and that Shem
lived to witness all the glorious things transacted
between God and Abram, and finaUy to see him
buried and to unite in the general mourning for
the father of the faithful I Who would have
supposed that Abram lived his whole lifetime,
Isaac for 108 years, and Jacob for forty-eight
years, with those who for 100 jears of their early
life witnessed and assisted m the building of
the ark; who were homo triumphantly in it
through the swelling flood, saw the opening
heavens, felt the heaving earth when its deep
foundations were broken up, and heard the
ffroan of a perishing world I Yet such was the
ract, as will be seen by comparing births and
deaths in the second table. Noah was contem-

porary with every generatioWt«r Kim down to
Abram ; Shem down to Jacob -, and ArjA^^n^.
down to Isaac ; Salah and Eber again down to
Jacob, and probably Eber to the twelve sons of

Every one disposed to do so, can trace the
same facts in regard to the manifold channels
of communication from the flood to Abram,
Isaac, and Jacob, as we found from the creation
to the flood. We will only notice here the
whole chain from Adam to the fathers of the
Hebrews. Three narrations only were necessary
to bring the account of creation to those fathers ;
and a part of the cords entwined in this " cable
strong," may be seen from the following colla-
tion: —

'Enos, 5

Cainaan, s
Mahalaleel, 1
Jared, 1

Methuselah, I

^Lamech, 8

Ham, and


'Shem, &c., ' ""
Arphaxad, &C., '
Nahor, (

Isaac, >


Three narrations bring the account to the |
time when minute and particular history com- j
menccs ; and when the art of inscribing upon j
papyrus, and probably upon parchment, was
understood. The participators in the awful .
scenes of the flood lived to see the Pharaohs, !
the pyramids and obelisks of Egypt, and proba- j
bly to have those Bcencs stereotyped on menu- ,
ments and in hieroglyphics which have come |
down to us. So that we have the account, in a. j
manner, second-handed from Shem. *

We here leave this interesting field of obser-
vation to be pursued by the intelligent Christian '
at his leisure. !




•* And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, i
he was hungry: and seeing a fig tree afar off having
leaves* he came, if haply he might find anything thereont
and when he came to it, he found nothing but ioaves) •
for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered '
and said unto it, No man eat ftuit of thee hereafter for '
ever."— Ml BKxi. 12-14. |

It appears somewhat straDge, that our Lord shotild
have expected to find fruit on this fig tree at a sea^
son which is expressly affirmed not to have been the
time of figs; and still more so, that he should have
blighteditforever fornotharing what, by thevery con-
stitution of nature, It was prevented from possessing.
Many suppositions and conjectures have been made
to account for this, or at least to take off a little of
its seeming contradiction to truth and propriety. To j
say nothing of some attempts at explanation which i
cany theur own refutation along with them, we have \
been told of certain fig trees which are always green '
with leaves, and have also a kind of perennial fruit,

Online LibraryThomas CarlyleThe Christian treasury, Volume 2 → online text (page 96 of 145)