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m



WORKS



O F



ORVILLE DEWEY, D.D



VOL. 1



r^ 1



DISCOURSES






ON



HUMAN NATURE,



HUMAN LIFE,



AND THE



NATURE OF RELIGION



BY



ORVILLE DEWEY, D.D.



• t (



NEW YORK:

CHAELES S. FRANCIS.

1868.



THK NEW YORK

PUBLIC LIBRARY 1



5

ft 19«2


2

ANO

L



Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1947,
BYC. S FRANCIS A CO
the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New- York



PREFACE



I have collected into these Volumes, most of the Ser
mons and Essays that have been published with my name ;
and have added some Sermons not before printed, together
with Articles from Reviews, and Occasional Discourses.
A new arrangement is made, in order to bring the Dis-
courses under certain heads. The title of the Volume
first published, " Discourses on Various Subjects," is drop-
ped. The first Series in this Edition, " On Human Nature,"
embraces several of those Discourses ; others are omit-
ted; and others, placed under another Head. Discourses
on "Human Life," follow; and then, a number of Dis-
courses, for which 1 could find no notire- definite title than
" TheNature of Religion." In the first Sermon of the suc-
ceeding series, on " Ccmmerce and "Business," I have at-
tempted by a revision of the Argument, to reply to an objec-
tion sometimes urged against its main doctrine, with regard
to the use of superior knowledge, power or opportunity. I
have met with those who argued thus : " We have a right
to take every advantage of each other ; it is perfectly honest
•to do so, because we have agreed to do so. It is a matter of
compact, whose chances and risks we mutually agree to
take." Now I maintain that the general moral policy of



VI PREFACE.

trade foroias such compact. The remainder of the Second
Volume is occupied by a Miscellaneous Collection of Dis-
courses on Politics and Society, and by reprints of Reviews
and Occasional Sermons and Addresses. The Third Vo-
lume, or the one which is to occupy that place in the Edi-
tion, is already published — as it has been some timeout of
print, and was ea"ed r or — under the title of " Discourses
and Reviews upon Questions in Controversial Theology and
Practical Religion." My apology for these details is, that
they seemed to be necessary to explain to those who have
purchased my publications, the character of the present
Edition.

Let me add, that no attempt is made at a full discussion
of any of the subjects embraced in these Volumes. I sup-
pose that a Treatise is not usually expected in a Volume
of Sermons. Pulpit Discourses are, from the nature of the
case, more like separate Essays, than successive portions
of a regular Treatise.

I have now said all that is necessary, perhaps, in a Pre-
face ; and yet, in sending forth a revised Edition of my
Publications, I am disposed to add one or two remarks.

I have sometimes "regretted fa£i it/has been my fortune
to communicate with the Public through Sermons. 1 doubt
whether there is any bne Vehicle' *pf communication — Art,
Literature, Poetry. Fi< u on, .the.. Journal, or the Newspaper
— in the way of yfrrne.n.'pi'h'u- qgipjpp has thrown so many
obstructions and difficulties. In the first place, it has laid
a jealous restriction upon the topics of the Sermon, the
style, the modes of illustration — the whole manly freedom
of utterance. In the next place, having thus helped to
make it tame and common-place, it has branded what is
partly its own work, with that fatal epithet, dull. In fact.



PREFACE. Vll

►he Sermon, the printed Sermon, has scarcely any recog-
nised place among the great and noble arts of expression
or communication. It is not appreciated as such. It has
not the stimulus either of praise or blame from any high
court of Literary Criticism.

I do not say, I am far from saying, that all this is the
fault of the public, or of public opinion. It is the fault of
the preacher rather ; it is the error essentially of our reli-
gious ideas and feelings. In this view I know of no more
significant fact connected with the history of Christianity
than this, that the Sermon should in all ages have been pro-
verbially dull. I confess that I am stung to indignation and
shame at the bitter taunt implied in it, and would willingly
take upon my hands all the disabilities and difficulties of
this kind of communication, if I could give the feeblest de-
monstration, that it is not altogether deserved. The Essay-
ist, Foster, says : " Might not all the Sermon-books in the
English language, after the exception of three or four dozen
volumes, be committed to the fire without any cause of re-
gret ?" I am not bold enough to expect that these volumes
of mine could escape the doom ; it would be a solace to me
if I could believe, that they might stimulate others to do
better, and that, from their ashes, something should arise,
that would be worthy to live.



CONTENTS.



Discourses on Human Nature.

PAQB,
I. ON HUMAN NATURE, - - . - - ft

II. THE SAME SUBJECT, - - - 28

III. ON THE WRONG WHICH SIN DOES TO HUMAN NATURE, 41

IV. ON THE ADAPTATION WHICH RELIGION, TO BE TRUE

AND USEFUL, SHOULD HAVE TO HUMAN NATURE, 56
V. THE APPEAL OF RELIGION TO HUMAN NATURE, 71

VI. THE CALL OF HUMANITY AND THE ANSWER TO IT, 88
VII. HUMAN NATURE CONSIDERED AS A GROUND FOR

THANKSGIVING, - - - - 103

Discourses on Human Life.

VIII. THE MORAL SIGNIFICANCE OF LIFE, - - 123

IX. THAT EVERY THING IN LIFE IS MORAL, - - 137

X. LIFE CONSIDERED AS AN ARGUMENT FOR FAITH AND

VIRTUE, - - - - 154

XI. LIFE IS WHAT WE MAKE IT, - 169

XII. ON INEQUALITY IN THE LOT OF LIFE^ - - 184

XIII. ON THE MISERIES OF LIFE, - - - 198

XIV. ON THE SCHOOL OF LIFE, - - - 212
XV. ON THE VALUE OF LIFE, - - - 227

XVI. LIFE'S CONSOLATION IN VIEW OF DEATH, - 241

XVII. THE PROBLEM OF LIFE, RESOLVED IN THE LIFE OF

CHRIST, 255

XVIII. ON RELIGION, AS THE GREAT SENTIMENT OF LIFE, 276
XIX ON THE RELIGION OF LIFE, - 2S5

XX. THE VOICES OF THE DEAD, - - - . 306

Discourses on the Nature of Religion.

XXI. THE IDENTITY OF RELIGION WITH GOODNESS, AND

WITH A GOOD LIFE, - - ._ 322
XXII. THE SAME SUBJECT, - - - 3_J3

XXIII. THE SAME SUBJECT, - - -. 3f,«

XXIV. SPIRITUAL INTERESTS, REAL AND SUPREME, - 379



DISCOURSES



ON HUMAN NATURE



IVHAT 13 MAN, THAT THOD ART MINDFUL OP HIM? AND THE SON OF MAN
THAT THOD VISITEST HIM? FOR THOD HAST MADE HIM A LITTL i LOWER
THAN THE ANGELS, AND HAST CROWNED HIM WITH GLORY AND HONOUR.

— Psalm viii. 4, 5.

You will observe, my brethren, that in these words
two distinct, and in a degree opposite views are given,
of human nature. It is represented on the one hand
as weak and low, and yet on the other, as lofty and
strong. At one moment it presents itself to the in-
spired writer as poor, humble, depressed, and almost
unworthy of the notice of its Maker. But in the transi-
tion of a single sentence, we find him contemplating
this same being, man, as exalted, glorious and almost
angelic. " When I consider thy heavens, the work of
thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast
ordained," he says, " what is man that thou art mind-
ful of him ?" And yet. he adds, " thou hast made
him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned
him with glory and honour."

But do not these contrasted statements make up, in
fact, the only true view of human nature ? Are they
not conformable to the universal sense of mankind,
and to the whole tenor and spirit of our religion'/
Whenever the human character is portrayed in colours



10 ON HUMAN NATURE.

altogether dark, or altogether bright ; whenever the
misanthrope pours out his scorn upon the wickedness
and baseness of mankind, or the enthusiast lavishes
his admiration upon their virtues, do we not always
feel that there needs to be some qualification ; that
there is something to be said on the other side ?

Nay more ; do not all the varying representations
of human nature imply their opposites? Does not
virtue itself imply, that sins and sinful passions are
struggled with, and overcome? And on the contrary
does not sin in its very nature imply that there are
high and sacred powers, capacities and affections,
which it violates ?

In this view it appears to me, that all unqualified
disparagement as well as praise of human nature,
carries with it its own refutation ; and it is to this
point that 1 wish to invite your particular attention in
the following discourse. Admitting all that can be
asked on this subject by the strongest assertors of
human depravity ; admitting every thing, certainly,
that can be stated as a matter of fact ; admitting that
men are as bad as they are said to be, and substan
dally believing it too, I shall argue that the conclusion
to be drawn is entirely the reverse of that which
usually is drawn. I shall argue, that the most stren-
uous, the most earnest and indignant objections
against human nature imply the strongest concessions
to its constitutional worth. I say then, and repeat,
that objection here carries with it its own refutation;
that the objector concedes much, very much to human
nature, by the very terms with which he inveighs
against it.

It is not my sole purpose, however, to present any
abstract or polemic argument. Rather let me attempt
to offer some general and just views of human nature •



ON HUMAN NATURE. 11

and for this purpose rather than for the sake of con-
troversy^ let me pass in brief review before you, some
of the specific and disparaging- opinions, that have
prevailed in the world concerning it ; those for in-
stance, of the philosopher and the theologian.

In doing this, my purpose is to admit that much of
what they say, is true ; but to draw from it an infer-
ence quite different from theirs. I would admit on
one hand, that there is much evil in the human heart,
but at the same time, I would balance this view, and
blend it with others that claim to be brought into the
account. On the one hand, I would admit the ob-
jection that there is much and mournful evil in the
world; but, on the other, I would prevent it from
pressing on the heart, as a discouraging and dead
weight of reprobation and obloquy.

It may appear to you that the opinions which I
have selected for our present consideration are, each
of them, brought into strange company ; and yet
they have an affinity which may not at once be sus-
pected. It is singular indeed, that we find in the
same ranks and waging the same war against all
human self-respect, the most opposite descriptions of
persons ; the most religious with the most irreligious,
the most credulous with the most sceptical. If any
man supposes that it is his superior goodness or purer
faith, which leads him to think so badly of his fellow-
men and of their very nature, he needs to be remind-
ed that vicious and dissolute habits almost invariably
and unerringly lead to the same result. The man
who is taking the downward way, with almost every
step, you will find thinks worse of his nature and his
species ; till he concludes, if he can, that he was made
only for sensual indulgence, and that all idea of a
future, intellectual, and immortal existence, is a dream.



12 ON HtMAN NATURE.

And so if any man thinks that it is owing to his spir-
ituality and heavenly mindedness, that he pronounces
the world so utterly corrupt, a mere mass of selfish-
ness and deceit ; he may be admonished that nobody
so thoroughly agrees with him as the man of the
world, the shrewd, over-reaching and knavish practi-
cer on the weakness or the wickedness of his fellows.
And in the same way, the strict and high-toned theo-
logian, as he calls himself, may unexpectedly find
himself in company with the sceptical and scornful
philosopher. No men have ever more bitterly decried
and vilified human nature, than the Infidel philoso-
phers of the last century. They contended that man
was too mean and contemptible a creature, to be the
subject of such an interposition as that recorded in the
Gospel.

I. But I am to take up in the first place, and more
in detail, the objection of the sceptical philosopher.

The philosopher says, that man is a mean creature ;
not so much a degraded being, as he is originally, a
poor, insignificant creature ; an animal, some grades
above others perhaps,«but still an animal ; for whom,
to suppose the provision of infinite mercy and of im-
mortality to be made, is absurd.

[t is worth noticing, as we pass, and I therefore
remark, the Btriking connection which is almost al\\ ays
found, between different parts of every man's belief
or scepticism. I never knew one to think wrongly
about God, but he very soon began to think wrongly
about man : or ut there are worse ob-
jectors and worse men ; vicious and corrupt men ; sen-
sUalists : sensualists in philosophy, and in practice
alike; who would gladly believe all the rest of the
world as bad as themselves. And these are objectors,



ON HUMAN NATURE. 19

I say, who like the objections before stated, refute
themselves.

For who is this small philosopher, that smiles, either
at the simplicity of all honest men, or at the simpli-
city of all honest defenders of them ? He is, in the
first place, a man who stands up before us, and has



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