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conveniences of life ; and by the philosophical use of
words, he means such a use of them, as may serve to
convey the precise notion of things, and to express in
general propositions certain and undoubted truths,
which the mind may rest upon and be satisfied with,
in its search after true knowledge. These two uses,
he says, are very distinct ; and a great deal less ex
actness will serve in the one case than the other.
Similar expressions we may find in almost all the
metaphysical writers. They all sing a melancholy
monody on the ambiguity of popular language ; and
plead the necessity of a new lexicon, compiled with
far greater precision and suited to the purposes of
metaphysicians alone.

I confess for one, that I doubt the correctness of
these representations. I suspect and it is certainly
lawful to propose a suspicion even against high au
thority that language, after all, is a practical analysis
of the powers of the mind, and the properties of
things, made according to the wants and observations


of men ; and that these broad views, formed in the
exigencies of real life, are more permanent and more
useful, and have more relative truth in them, than the
fine spun distinctions devised in the closet of the phi
losopher ; and never to be understood until our
thoughts are wrought into an artificial state. Men in
common life never give names but where they can
see distinctions ; and when the names of these dis
tinctions are found in all languages, and have floated
down through all ages; we know they are founded
on the common observation of mankind, they have
the suffrage of the whole world in their favor. Be
sides, we give names for speculative and for practical
purposes; and speculative names are often lost as
soon as the speculator moves out of his abstract
circle. The a b c , the x y z, of the algebraist, are of
no use but for algebraical calculations. But it is re
markable that the common use of language is always
given for practical purposes. It is the sign and the
representation of that outside view of things, which
men in active life always take. Let me illustrate my
meaning by an example. In popular language, and
in the broad views of the human mind, which men
in all the stages of society have entertained, they
have held such a conception and wanted such a word
as memory ; it is, I suppose, translatable into all lan
guages ; and if uttered to the savage, would be im
mediately understood. A late metaphysical writer,*

* Dr. Brown.


however, thinks that, for the analysis he has in view,
it would be better to sink the word in a more com
prehensive but accurate term suggestion. For what
is memory, says he, but the suggestion of an event,
with the consciousness of its being past 1 Well, no
doubt to throw away memory and to take suggestion,
simplified his system, and increased the beauty of his
arrangement. But if you were to go into Boston
market, and leave your memory behind you, and take
nothing with you but suggestion, how long would you
make yourself understood 1 The truth is, all arrange
ment of things, all classification, and of course all
language, has a reference to the practical perceptions
of men. These they have always followed, and
hence I suspect that language, popular language, is
a safe light to guide us in finding the extent of their
conceptions, and the principles of their knowledge.
The civil use of language is always substantial and
permanent ; the philosophical (in Locke s sense of
that word) is often shadowy, and like other shadows,
passes away.

In tracing the history of all metaphysical reasoning,
it is curious to see how much of its acuteness and
ingenuity consists in innovations on language, and
departures from the common usages of mankind.
We are told by one, that all virtue depends on expe
diency. But what is expediency ? Surely not what
that word expresses in the light conversation of com
mon parlance ; as well might the eagle attempt to


support his flight to the sun, by the waving of a single
feather, as for a moralist to build a solemn system of
duty on such a sandy foundation ; but expediency
here, is something which can justify the assertion that
it is the ground of all virtue. Then you have a won
derful discovery, a reciprocal definition, that all virtue
is founded on expediency ; and expediency is that
which supports all virtue. When two abstract words
are thus brought together, the one to define the other,
with an attempted accuracy beyond the plainness of
common speech, I am sure beforehand, that I am to
have all the puzzle of philosophy without the light of
truth. One column of smoke goes up to illuminate
another column of smoke, and both these columns
serve only to fill the air with darkness, and increase
the number of sore eyes. Bishop Butler speaks of
those, who trace all our actions up to selfishness ; even
the saint and the angel act from selfish principles, for
they find delight in serving God, and doing good to
man ; as much delight as the epicure in his sensual
pleasures ; and that delight is as much their own de
light, and therefore it is selfish. In this sense, no
doubt, every action in every holy being is selfish.
But then, as Butler remarks, t/tis is not the language
of mankind. I have often thought how many a fine
system might be overthrown by the remark THIS is


that all anger is sinful. We must not merely rule it,
but we must kill and purge from our hearts every seed


and sediment of that baneful passion. Aristotle had
said that anger was necessary ; it was one of the con
stituent principles of our moral composition ; but we
must govern it by reason ; we must use it as a private
soldier, and not as a general to lead the way. But
no, says Seneca ; if anger listens to reason, it ceases
to be anger ; it is to be called by another name ; for
what I understand by anger, is a principle unbridled
and ungoverned. Very well ; here we have a defini
tion which makes anger a wrong thing, and then the
sapient conclusion, that all anger is wrong.* Now
what shall you oppose to Seneca s reasoning ? Why,
simply the remark of Butler this is not the language
of mankind. St. Paul came much nearer to that
language when he said, be ye angry and sin not. Of
all the writers who have apparently led us through
new mazes of thought, and landed us on the shore of
unknown conclusions, I remember none, who holds a
more sparkling pre-eminence at the present day, than
Coleridge. His language is beautiful and precise ;
his figures are the finest devices, stamped on the most
shining metal ; his thoughts are sometimes new, and
his reasoning is sometimes just. His books have para
graphs in them finer and more eloquent than the
English language can elsewhere show. Yet his
Friend is the most misleading book that was ever
written ; he is the last guide that I should select to

*DeM, Lib. I., Sect. 9.


lead me to the temple of truth. And what is the
difficulty? He is a mystic, with more truth and more
power in him, than most other mystics ; and when he
has led you up the mount, in a path of sunshine,
as far as he, perhaps, or any other mortal can go;
then to fill you with greater astonishment, he plunges
into the fogs which surround the top of his Ida or
Olympus, and you lose him somewhere between earth
and heaven. The reader is inclined to say at the
close of some paragraph, splendid and dark, this is
very eloquent and touching, and perhaps there is some
truth in it, but this is not the language of mankind.
In short, you may define a metaphysician generally,
as a man who makes a language of his own. When
you see a startling paradox, you may be sure there
has been tampering with the king s English; and
metaphysics can prove any thing, (as some say,)
because she is a sovereign mistress of language, and
moulds its words to her own imperial will.

There is a kind of unconscious wisdom which,
when men act from the impulse of the occasion, and
without any elaborate theories, almost always leads
them to a right course. Hence it has been remarked,
that there is a wisdom in the common law, which de
liberative assemblies have emulated in vain ; and
hence I infer that the popular use of language, is
often the best analysis of the composition of the
passions and the operations of the mind. The in
stincts of man are the wisdom of God.


It becomes then, in my view, a matter of great im
portance, in seeking whether emulation be a good or
an evil principle, to ask what is the usage of that
word. For language in its civil use, is often but the
soundings of the voice of nature. Now in all the
languages with which I am acquainted, there is a
word answering to our word emulation, which is sup
posed to express an ambiguous passion of the mind ;
and that passion is good or evil, as it is prompted by
right or wrong motives, and is directed to salutary or
pernicious objects. In Hebrew, the verb is top, and
the corresponding noun, mp a word so holy, as some
times to be attributed to God himself, and sometimes
so bad as to express one of the most hateful emotions
of the human breast. Gen. xxxvii. 2. His brethren
envied him. But Elijah says I have been very jealous,
(which will bear to be translated very emulous,) for
the Lord God of Hosts, because the children of Israel,
&c. 1 Kings xix. 14. The word-Z/p.oc, in Greek, is
of the same character. It answers very nearly to
our word emulation. It is a medium word, says
Oecumenius, an old commentator of the middle ages,
which may be used in a good or bad sense. It is a
good emulation, says Chrysostom, one of the most
pious and eloquent of the Greek fathers, when any
one is emulous to imitate virtue. EOTI trjkog dfadds,
OTav Tig dvT(o s ^ot, cos [iifiijaaadul TTJV aQi]ri]v. See
Suicerus dc hoc vcrbo. Theophylactus says the same.
The Apostle Paul uses this word in this double sense.


It is good to be always zealously affected in a good
thing. Cicero remarks concerning the Latin word
sEtmtlatio, that is used in two senses, good and bad.
As to our English word, it is defined by Dr. Johnson
to be desire of superiority ; which may be a superi
ority in goodness as well as sin. In the examples
which he quotes, we have not only the use but the
definition of the word. * Aristotle/ says Dr. Sprat,
1 allows that some emulation may be good, and may be
found in some good men ; yet envy he utterly con
demns, as wicked in itself, and only to be found in
wicked minds. The Apostle, says Dr. South, ex
horts the Corinthians to a holy and general emulation
of the charity of the Macedonians, in contributing
freely to the poor saints in Jerusalem. The pious
Cowper also uses the word in a good sense, whom I
more willingly quote, as the sentence bears directly on
the point in debate. In his Task, speaking of the
decay of discipline in public schools, he says,

Then study languished, EMULATION slept,
And virtue fled.

Here we have not only the use of the word in a good
sense, but the direct testimony of Cowper, that he
considered it as a great evil to have all emulation ex
tinguished in our public seminaries. He couples it
with the decay of study and the flight of virtue. The
translators of our Bible have used the word twice,
once in a good sense, and once in a bad one. Rom.


xi. 14, and Galatians v. 20. In the first instance it
is in a good sense. If by any means I may provoke
to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save
some of them. In the second instance it is used in
a bad sense. In enumerating the works of the flesh,
he enumerates idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance,
emulations, &c. These instances may prove that it
is the general suffrage of mankind, (for their language
is a transcript of their thoughts,) that they believe
they have found a good principle in the human breast
which may be expressed by the term emulation ; and
that it bears so much resemblance to a bad principle,
that it may be expressed by a common word. Now
if a man is of a mind so to define emulation, as that
the very existence of the principle must be wrong, no
doubt he can do it ; but then we reply to him in the
words of Butler this is not the language of mankind.

Let us next inquire what the good part of this prin
ciple is, which mankind have consented to express by
so suspicious a word.

We find, when we nicely survey the works of God,
that one part of creation is made to correspond to
another ; one thing is set over against another, as an
apocryphal writer expresses it ; objects are adapted
to our eyes, and our eyes to objects ; motives are
made to move our minds, and our minds are made to
be moved by motives. We find from what we can
learn of the vast circle of existence, that nothing is
alike ; no two flowers are of equal fragrance ; no two


stars are of equal brightness; there are ranks and
degrees in heaven ; archangels, angels, thrones, do
minions, principalities and powers ; even the glorified
saints, sunk as they were in a common guilt, and re
deemed as they are by a common blood, are not
probably exalted to equal glory. In the parable of
the talents, we find that those who had made the best
improvement, were raised to the highest reward. On
this earth we know there cannot be equality. Whether
we rate men by their abilities or their estates, it is
impossible to keep them equal for a single day. You
might as well attempt to make all birds fly in the
same altitude of air, or all fishes swim in the same
fathoms of water. If you were to prostrate every
throne, and break every gubernatorial chair, and turn
out every member from his seat in congress, others
would arise up to take their places ; if you were to
scatter all property, by the strictest agrarian law, the
equality could not last some would be rich, and others
poor. In a word, if from the universal order of
nature in this planet^ and probably in all planets, we
can collect the will of God, as it is manifested by all
testimony of all times, it is his holy will, that his
creatures, in higher and lower circles, should stand
around his throne, occupying all the gradations of
being, from the highest archangel, of whose existence
we trace no commencement, to the sightless insect,
who flourishes only for an hour.*

* I hope no reader will suspect me of adopting Paley s dan-
VOL. II. 7


Nor are these orders fixed. It is intended that all
intellectual beings should rise ; certainly it is so with
man, or why do we mount from infancy to boyhood,
from boyhood to the state of man, from private life to
public, and finally, if holy, from this dying world to
an immortal state ? This vast universe seems made
for progression. That ladder which the sleeping pa
triarch saw in his dream, is placed before every man,
without a vision ; its foot is supported by the earth,
and its summit leans on the skies.

Such is the outer world. If we look within, we
shall find a propensity, an impulse, which exactly
corresponds to this external order of things. We all
desire to rise. It rouses our activity and conquers
our indolence, to look forward to some future state of
greater influence, and greater power, when we shall
receive that submission of opinion which we are now
paying to others, and hand down the wisdom to future
ages which \ve have received from those who have
gone before us. This principle is born with us, and
breathes in us ; and it is in vain- to try to suppress it ;
it is too much a^law of nature. In short, it seems
that a man s reputation for learning or invention, or
ability of any kind, is an estate to which he has just

gerous notion, that Heaven and Hell differ only by degrees;
that hell is only the base of the staircase of which heaven is
the top ; I speak only of the virtuous part of creation, in
which, when the wicked are separated, there will doubtless
always remain orders and ranks.


as much a right as the acres which he purchases with
his money. To be sure, he must not covet more than
he can justly claim. He must not set up for a facti
tious reputation. He must not claim to speak as well
as Cicero, when he hardly equals Hortensius. But
there is a place to which he is entitled, and there let
him contentedly stand. The property of the mind,
the estates of genius, are not the less real, because
they cannot be fixed by deeds, nor measured by the
surveyor s chain.

If the man has a right to this, why not the boy 1
Children have all the feelings of men, and a school
is but an epitome of the world. If a boy comes into
a school with twice the abilities of any other, and
twice the industry, why, he has a right to all the
fruits of these powers. He has a right to take the
standing which his Maker has given him. It is his
estate, to which he can make out the best of all titles
the gift of God. If he can spell better than any
one in the class, he has a right to the head of the
class. If he is a better mathematician, or a better
linguist, he is entitled so to rank in the estimation of
all who would judge according to the truth. In a
word, there ought to be justice in schools, and justice
implies property ; but in schools the only property is
the tenements of the mind. Perhaps it is the best
moral discipline to which a school can be subjected,
to find the master dealing out reputation according to
merit, and teaching his scholars to do the same.

Here, then, we have two indications of the will of


God; the external and internal world. Without, we
find the whole universe ranked in orders and degrees,
that a boundless field might be opened to enterprise,
and that each individual might be incited to effort.
Within, we find the irrepressible desire ; a desire
dangerous, I know, and to be controlled by higher
principles ; but still a desire which no attainments in
religion will ever extinguish to rise to put forth all
our powers, and to reach the highest station our
abilities may be fitted for. Now it seems to me, that
these two arrangements meet each other, and conspire
to promote the harmony of the world ; for as the old
poets tell us in the ancient chaos, that when the par
ticles separated, the fiery element flew up and formed
the stars ; the ethereal air went next ; the grosser
sunk still nearer to the earth, and downward purged
the black tartareous dregs, and every element found
its place ;

Ignea convex! vis sine pondere coeli
Emicuit, summaque locum sibi legit in arce.
Proximus est aer illi levitate, locoque :

Densior his tellus.

Ovid Met., L. I., line 26.

So it seems to me, in the moral world, that that de
gree of emulation in good things, which leads the
man or boy to put forth all his strength, controlled by
that principle which forbids him to ask any more
reputation than is assigned by justice, that, that pre
serves the balance of the system. That is the law of
nature ; that is the wisdom of God.


No. 40.

But thus it is for the most part with the venders of startling paradoxes.
In the sense in which they are to gain for their author the character of a
bold and original thinker, they are false even to absurdity ; and the sense in
which they are true and harmless, conveys so mean a truism, that it even
borders on nonsense.

Coleridge s Friend, JVo. VT.

I AM not ignorant, that here it may be objected
that emulation is a dangerous passion the parent of
ambition ; the mother of crimes which have filled life
with contests, and deluged the world in blood. I
shall be told, perhaps, of the morbid sensibility which
it awakened in the heart of Saul, whose peace of
mind was forever destroyed, when the daughters of
Israel sung Saul has slain his thousands, and David
his ten thousands ; of Haman, whose honors were
nothing to him, and whose banquets were tasteless,
so long as he saw a poor captive Jew sitting at the
king s gate. I shall be pointed perhaps to Roman
story ; and told of Marius driven almost to distraction,


by the impress of a seal, in which was represented
Jugurtha, delivered up to his rival, Sylla. I shall be
called to look at all the heart-burnings and supplant-
ings of political life ; the party spirit, which has
shaken nations, exalted the worthless, and tumbled
the most deserving from the summit of their power.
I shall be called to review the jealousies which have
entered the gardens of philosophy, and disturbed the
men of genius, amidst their laurels and their repose.
I shall, finally, be called to review the principles of
the gospel, which trace every sin to its earliest ger
mination in the heart ; which enjoins pure actions
from pure motives ; and commands us to lose every
selfish regard for personal ambition, in a generous
desire to advance the glory of Him who made us.
The gospel enjoins purity of heart and deep humility ;
and how are these consistent with a spirit of emula
tion, cultivated even in our common schools ?

These are timely suggestions, and, if they cannot
be answered, I confess I must abandon my ground.
But is it not plain, that as some minerals are fatal
poisons when given in great quantities and alone, yet
become salutary medicines when mixed in a com
pound and in proper proportions, so of some of the
instincts of our nature, they are dangerous when left
alone, uncontrolled by higher principles, yet they
form the very beauty and perfection of the human
character, when blended with the principles of our
holy religion 1 For example, industry what a dan-


gerous thing it is, left to run without direction, and
toil to fill up the cravings of an unsanctified heart !
What was Catiline s industry 1 What was the in
dustry of Benedict Arnold ? It was an industry
prompted by their selfishness ; and which exhausted
their powers only in the works of treachery and blood.
But how would you cure these men ? Would you rob
them of their activity and put them asleep ? No ; you
would turn their industry into a better channel. Now
emulation bears some resemblance to industry, of
which it is often the most powerful spring. We may
be emulous for good things ; and we may be emulous,
and yet satisfied with that portion of reputation, which
truth and justice assign to us. I may put forth all
my powers ; I may resolve to do my best ; and yet be
satisfied, when, after a fair trial, another has gone
beyond me ; that is, I may value the possessions of
the mind, and yet covet no more than my lawful
possessions. Emulation is a very harmless principle,
only let justice come in to control it ; and is not this
possible ? Does the introduction of property neces
sarily imply the introduction of theft and extortion ?
No ; the command, thou shalt not steal, necessarily
supposes the existence of private property, and the
command not to envy others, necessarily supposes a
share of reputation, which justly belongs to each one
of our species. Now it seems to me, you will not
promote moral discipline, by denying the existence of
this ideal, but not imaginary property, (that were a


vain attempt,) but you must allow the existence of it ;
and teach each one to be willing to receive his own
proportion in due season. In curing vice, we must
not war with nature.

Nor can I think a regulated emulation, so incon
sistent with the principles of the gospel, as some
seem to suppose. The gospel sets before us a new
career of duty, and incites to action by the noblest
of all motives love to man and love to God. These,
no doubt, should be the predominant principles in
the Christian s heart. But do these motives exclude
all regard to the original impulses of our nature ?
When it is said, if any man be in Christ, he is a new
creature ; old things are passed away ; I would ask,
with humble submission, what are these old things ?
It refers does it not ? to the old sinful principles of
our nature, and not to such as are natural and in
different. Religion does not alter the constitution of
a man s mind ; nor the essential elements of human
nature. I cannot but think that a part of humility
itself, consists in having a sensibility to reputation,
(and what is reputation, but our relative standing in
life ?) and yet a willingness to be surpassed by our
superiors, in whatever pursuit is worthy of appro
bation. As patience implies the existence of pain,
and a sense of suffering, so humility implies the
existence of praise, and a sense of its value. Saint
Paul was a penitent sinner, humbled in the dust be

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