Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Coleridge's Literary Remains, Volume 4 online

. (page 3 of 27)
Online LibrarySamuel Taylor ColeridgeColeridge's Literary Remains, Volume 4 → online text (page 3 of 27)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


a man. How can obedience exist, where disobedience was not possible?
Surely two or three texts from St. Paul, detached from the total
'organismus' of his reasoning, ought not to out-weigh the plain fact,
that the contrary position is implied in, or is an immediate consequent
of, our Lord's own invitations and assurances. Every where a something
is attributed to the will. [2]


Chap. XIII. p. 211.

To conclude, a faithful person is a new creature, a new tree.
Therefore all these speeches, which in the law are usual, belong not
to this case; as to say 'A faithful' person must do good works.
Neither were it rightly spoken, to say the sun shall shine: a good
tree shall bring forth good fruit, &c. For the sun 'shall' not shine,
but it doth shine by nature unbidden, it is thereunto created.

This important paragraph is obscure by the translator's ignorance of the
true import of the German 'soll', which does not answer to our 'shall;'
but rather to our 'ought', that is, 'should' do this or that, - is under
an obligation to do it.


Ib. p. 213.

And I, my loving Brentius, to the end I may better understand this
case, do use to think in this manner, namely, as if in my heart were
no quality or virtue at all, which is called faith, and love, (as the
Sophists do speak and dream thereof), but I set all on Christ, and
say, my 'formalis justitia', that is, my sure, my constant and
complete righteousness (in which is no want nor failing, but is, as
before God it ought to be) is Christ my Lord and Saviour.

Aye! this, this is indeed to the purpose. In this doctrine my soul can
find rest. I hope to be saved by faith, not by my faith, but by the
faith of Christ in me.


Ib. p. 214.

The Scripture nameth the faithful a people of God's saints. But here
one may say; the sins which daily we commit, do offend and anger God;
how then can we be holy?

'Answer'. A mother's love to her child is much stronger than are the
excrements and scurf thereof. Even so God's love towards us is far
stronger than our filthiness and uncleanness.

Yea, one may say again, we sin without ceasing, and where sin is,
there the holy Spirit is not: therefore we are not holy, because the
holy Spirit is not in us, who maketh holy.

'Answer'. (John xvi. 14.) Now where Christ is, there is the holy
Spirit. The text saith plainly, 'The holy Ghost shall glorify me, &c.'
Now Christ is in the faithful (although they have and feel sins, do
confess the same, and with sorrow of heart do complain thereover);
therefore sins do not separate Christ from those that believe.

All in this page is true, and necessary to be preached. But O! what need
is there of holy prudence to preach it aright, that is, at right times
to the right ears! Now this is when the doctrine is necessary and thence
comfortable; but where it is not necessary, but only very comfortable,
in such cases it would be a narcotic poison, killing the soul by
infusing a stupor or counterfeit peace of conscience. Where there are no
sinkings of self-abasement, no griping sense of sin and worthlessness,
but perhaps the contrary, reckless confidence and self-valuing for good
qualities supposed an overbalance for the sins, - there it is not
necessary. In short, these are not the truths, that can be preached
[Greek: eukaírôs akaírôs], _in season and out of season_. In declining
life, or at any time in the hour of sincere humiliation, these truths
may be applied in reference to past sins collectively; but a Christian
must not, a true however infirm Christian will not, cannot, administer
them to himself immediately after sinning; least of all immediately
before. We ought fervently to pray thus: - "Most holy and most merciful
God! by the grace of thy holy Spirit make these promises profitable to
me, to preserve me from despairing of thy forgiveness through Christ my
Saviour! But O! save me from presumptuously perverting them into a
pillow for a stupified conscience! Give me grace so to contrast my sin
with thy transcendant goodness and long-suffering love, as to hate it
with an unfeigned hatred for its own exceeding sinfulness."


Ib. p. 219-20.

Faith is, and consisteth in, a person's understanding, but hope
consisteth in the will. * * Faith inditeth, distinguisheth and
teacheth, and it is the knowledge and acknowledgment. * * Faith
fighteth against error and heresies, it proveth, censureth and judgeth
the spirits and doctrines. * * Faith in divinity is the wisdom and
providence, and belongeth to the doctrine. * * Faith is the
'dialectica', for it is altogether wit and wisdom.

Luther in his Postills discourseth far better and more genially of faith
than in these paragraphs. Unfortunately, the Germans have but one word
for faith and belief - 'Glaube', and what Luther here says, is spoken of
belief. Of faith he speaks in the next article but one.


Ib. p. 226.

"That regeneration only maketh God's children.

"The article of our justification before God (said Luther) is, as it
useth to be with a son which is born an heir of all his father's
goods, and cometh not thereunto by deserts."

I will here record my experience. Ever when I meet with the doctrine of
regeneration and faith and free grace simply announced - "So it
is!" - then I believe; my heart leaps forth to welcome it. But as soon as
an explanation nation or reason is added, such explanations, namely, and
reasonings as I have any where met with, then my heart leaps back again,
recoils, and I exclaim, Nay! Nay! but not so.

25th of September, 1819.


Ib. p. 227.

"Doctor Carlestad (said Luther) argueth thus: True it is that faith
justifieth, but faith is a work of the first commandment; therefore it
justifieth as a work. Moreover all that the Law commandeth, the same
is a work of the Law. Now faith is commanded, therefore faith is a
work of the Law. Again, what God will have the same is commanded: God
will have faith, therefore faith is commanded."

"St. Paul (said Luther) speaketh in such sort of the law, that he
separateth it from the promise, which is far another thing than the
law. The law is terrestrial, but the promise is celestial.

"God giveth the law to the end we may thereby be roused up and made
pliant; for the commandments do go and proceed against the proud and
haughty, which contemn God's gifts; now a gift or present cannot be a
commandment."

"Therefore we must answer according to this rule, 'Verba sunt
accipienda secundum subjectam materiam.' * * St. Paul calleth that the
work of the law, which is done and acted through the knowledge of the
law by a constrained will without the holy Spirit; so that the same is
a work of the law, which the law earnestly requireth and strictly will
have done; it is not a voluntary work, but a forced work of the rod."

And wherein did Carlestad and Luther differ? Not at all, or essentially
and irreconcilably, according as the feeling of Carlestad was. If he
meant the particular deed, the latter; if the total act, the agent
included, then the former.


Chap. XIV. p. 230.

"The love towards the neighbour (said Luther) must be like a pure
chaste love between bride and bridegroom, where all faults are
connived at, covered and borne with, and only the virtues regarded."

In how many little escapes and corner-holes does the sensibility, the
fineness, (that of which refinement is but a counterfeit, at best but a
reflex,) the geniality of nature appear in this 'son of thunder!' O for
a Luther in the present age! Why, Charles! [3] with the very handcuffs
of his prejudices he would knock out the brains (nay, that is
impossible, but,) he would split the skulls of our 'Cristo-galli',
translate the word as you like: - French Christians, or coxcombs!


Ib. p. 231-2.

"Let Witzell know, (said Luther) that David's wars and battles, which
he fought, were more pleasing to God than the fastings and prayings of
the best, of the honestest, and of the holiest monks and friars; much
more than the works of our new ridiculous and superstitious friars."

A cordial, rich and juicy speech, such as shaped itself into, and lived
anew in, the Gustavus Adolphuses.


Chap. XV. p. 233-4.

"God most certainly heareth them that pray in faith, and granteth when
and how he pleaseth, and knoweth most profitable for them. We must
also know, that when our prayers tend to the sanctifying of his name,
and to the increase and honor of his kingdom (also that we pray
according to his will) then most certainly he heareth. But when we
pray contrary to these points, then we are not heard; for God doth
nothing against his Name, his kingdom, and his will."

Then (saith the understanding, [Greek: Tò phrónaema sarkòs]) what doth
prayer effect? If A - prayer = B., and A + prayer = B, prayer = O. The
attempt to answer this argument by admitting its invalidity relatively
to God, but asserting the efficacy of prayer relatively to the pray-er
or precant himself, is merely staving off the objection a single step.
For this effect on the devout soul is produced by an act of God. The
true answer is, prayer is an idea, and 'ens spirituale', out of the
cognizance of the understanding.

The spiritual mind receives the answer in the contemplation of the idea,
life as 'deitas diffusa'. We can set the life in efficient motion, but
not contrary to the form or type. The errors and false theories of great
men sometimes, perhaps most often, arise out of true ideas falsified by
degenerating into conceptions; or the mind excited to action by an
inworking idea, the understanding works in the same direction according
to its kind, and produces a counterfeit, in which the mind rests.

This I believe to be the case with the scheme of emanation in Plotinus.
God is made a first and consequently a comparative intensity, and matter
the last; the whole thence finite; and thence its conceivability. But we
must admit a gradation of intensities in reality.


Chap. XVI. p. 247.

"When governors and rulers are enemies to God's word, then our duty is
to depart, to sell and forsake all we have, to fly from one place to
another, as Christ commandeth; we must make and prepare no uproars nor
tumults by reason of the Gospel, but we must suffer all things."

Right. But then it must be the lawful rulers; those in whom the
sovereign or supreme power is lodged by the known laws and constitution
of the country. Where the laws and constitutional liberties of the
nation are trampled on, the subjects do not lose, and are not in
conscience bound to forego, their right of resistance, because they are
Christians, or because it happens to be a matter of religion, in which
their rights are violated. And this was Luther's opinion. Whether, if a
Popish Czar shall act as our James II. acted, the Russian Greekists
would be justified in doing with him what the English Protestants
justifiably did with regard to James, is a knot which I shall not
attempt to cut; though I guess the Russians would, by cutting their
Czar's throat.


Ib.

'But no man will do this, except he be so sure of his doctrine and
religion, as that, although I myself should play the fool, and should
recant and deny this my doctrine and religion (which God forbid), he
notwithstanding therefore would not yield, but say, "If Luther, or an
angel from heaven, should teach otherwise, _Let him be accursed_."'

Well and nobly said, thou rare black swan! This, this is the Church.
Where this is found, there is the Church of Christ, though but twenty in
the whole of the congregation; and were twenty such in two hundred
different places, the Church would be entire in each. Without this no
Church.


Ib. p. 248.

"And he sent for one of his chiefest privy councillors, named Lord
John _Von Minkwitz_, and said unto him; 'You have heard my father say,
(running with him at tilt) that to sit upright on horseback maketh a
good tilter. If therefore it be good and laudable in temporal tilting
to sit upright; how much more is it now praiseworthy in God's cause to
sit, to stand, and to go uprightly and just!'"

Princely. So Shakspeare would have made a Prince Elector talk. The
metaphor is so grandly in character.


Chap. XVII. p. 249.

"_Signa sunt subinde facta, minora; res autem et facta subinde
creverunt_."

A valuable remark. As the substance waxed, that is, became more evident,
the ceremonial sign waned, till at length in the Eucharist the 'signum'
united itself with the 'significatum', and became consubstantial. The
ceremonial sign, namely, the eating the bread and drinking the wine,
became a symbol, that is, a solemn instance and exemplification of the
class of mysterious acts, which we are, or as Christians should be,
performing daily and hourly in every social duty and recreation. This is
indeed to re-create the man in and by Christ. Sublimely did the Fathers
call the Eucharist the extension of the Incarnation: only I should have
preferred the perpetuation and application of the Incarnation.


Ib.

A bare writing without a seal is of no force.

Metaphors are sorry logic, especially metaphors from human and those too
conventional usages to the ordinances of eternal wisdom.


Ib. p. 250.

Luther said, "No. A Christian is wholly and altogether sanctified. * *
We must take sure hold on Baptism by faith, as then we shall be, yea,
already are, sanctified. In this sort David nameth himself holy."

A deep thought. Strong meat for men. It must not be offered for milk.


Chap. XXI. p. 276.

Then I will declare him openly to the Church, and in this manner I
will say: "Loving friends, I declare unto you, how that N. N. hath
been admonished: first, by myself in private, afterwards also by two
chaplains, thirdly, by two aldermen and churchwardens, and those of
the assembly: yet notwithstanding he will not desist from his sinful
kind of life. Wherefore I earnestly desire you to assist and aid me,
to kneel down with me, and let us pray against him, and deliver him
over to the Devil."

Luther did not mean that this should be done all at once; but that a day
should be appointed for the congregation to meet for joint consultation,
and according to the resolutions passed to choose and commission such
and such persons to wait on the offender, and to exhort, persuade and
threaten him in the name of the congregation: then, if after due time
allowed, this proved fruitless, to kneel down with the minister, &c.
Surely, were it only feasible, nothing could be more desirable. But
alas! it is not compatible with a Church national, the congregations of
which are therefore not gathered nor elected, or with a Church
established by law; for law and discipline are mutually destructive of
each other, being the same as involuntary and voluntary penance.


Chap. xxii. p. 290.

Wicliffe and Huss opposed and assaulted the manner of life and
conversation in Popedom. But I chiefly do oppose and resist their
doctrine; I affirm roundly and plainly that they teach not aright.
Thereto am I called. I take the goose by the neck, and set the knife
to the throat. When I can maintain that the Pope's doctrine is false,
(which I have proved and maintained), then I will easily prove and
maintain that their manner of life is evil.

This is a remark of deep insight: 'verum vere Lutheranum'.


Ib. p. 291.

Ambition and pride (said Luther), are the rankest poison in the Church
when they are possessed by preachers. Zuinglius thereby was misled,
who did what pleased himself * * * He wrote, "Ye honorable and good
princes must pardon me, in that I give you not your titles; for the
glass windows are as well illustrious as ye."

One might fancy, in the Vision-of-Mirza style, that all the angry,
contemptuous, haughty expressions of good and zealous men, gallant
staff-officers in the army of Christ, formed a rick of straw and
stubble, which at the last day is to be divided into more or fewer
haycocks, according to the number of kind and unfeignedly humble and
charitable thoughts and speeches that had intervened, and that these
were placed in a pile, leap-frog fashion, in the narrow road to the gate
of Paradise; and burst into flame as the zeal of the individual
approached, - so that he must leap over and through them. Now I cannot
help thinking, that this dear man of God, heroic Luther, will find more
opportunities of showing his agility, and reach the gate in a greater
sweat and with more blisters 'a parte post' than his brother hero,
Zuinglius. I guess that the comments of the latter on the Prophets will
be found almost sterile in these tiger-lilies and brimstone flowers of
polemic rhetoric, compared with the controversy of the former with our
Henry VIII., his replies to the Pope's Bulls, and the like.

By the by, the joke of the 'glass windows' is lost in the translation.
The German for illustrious is 'durchlauchtig', that is, transparent or
translucent.


Ib.

When we leave to God his name, his kingdom and will, then will he also
give unto us our daily bread, and will remit our sins, and deliver us
from the devil and all evil. Only his honor he will have to himself.

A brief but most excellent comment on the Lord's Prayer.


Ib. p. 297.

There was never any that understood the Old Testament so well as St.
Paul, except only John the Baptist.

I cannot conjecture what Luther had in his mind when he made this
exception.


Chap. XXVII. p. 335.

I could wish (said Luther) that the Princes and States of the Empire
would make an assembly, and hold a council and a union both in
doctrine and ceremonies, so that every one might not break in and run
on with such insolency and presumption according to his own brains, as
already is begun, whereby many good hearts are offended.

Strange heart of man! Would Luther have given up the doctrine of
justification by faith alone, had the majority of the Council decided in
favor of the Arminian scheme? If not, by what right could he expect
OEcolampadius or Zuinglius to recant their convictions respecting the
Eucharist, or the Baptists theirs on Infant Baptism, to the same
authority? In fact, the wish expressed in this passage must be
considered as a mere flying thought shot out by the mood and feeling of
the moment, a sort of conversational flying-fish that dropped as soon as
the moisture of the fins had evaporated. The paragraph in p. 336, of
what Councils ought to order, should be considered Luther's genuine
opinion.


Ib. p. 337.

The council of Nice, held after the Apostles' time, (said Luther) was
the very best and purest; but soon after in the time of the Emperor
Constantine, it was weakened by the Arians.

What Arius himself meant, I do not know: what the modern Arians teach, I
utterly condemn; but that the great council of Ariminum was either Arian
or heretical I could never discover, or descry any essential difference
between its decisions and the Nicene; though I seem to find a serious
difference of the pseudo-Athanasian Creed from both. If there be a
difference between the Councils of Nicea and Ariminum, it perhaps
consists in this; - that the Nicene was the more anxious to assert the
equal Divinity in the Filial subordination; the Ariminian to maintain
the Filial subordination in the equal Divinity. In both there are three
self-subsistent and only one self-originated: - which is the substance
of the idea of the Trinity, as faithfully worded as is compatible with
the necessary inadequacy of words to the expression of ideas, that is,
spiritual truths that can only be spiritually discerned. [4]

18th August, 1826.


Chap. XXVIII. p. 347.

God's word a Lord of all Lords.

Luther every where identifies the living Word of God with the written
word, and rages against Bullinger, who contended that the latter is the
word of God only as far as and for whom it is the vehicle of the former.
To this Luther replies: "My voice, the vehicle of my words, does not
cease to be my voice, because it is ignorantly or maliciously
misunderstood." Yea! (might Bullinger have rejoined) the instance were
applicable and the argument valid, if we were previously assured that
all and every part of the Old and New Testament is the voice of the
divine Word. But, except by the Spirit, whence are we to ascertain this?
Not from the books themselves; for not one of them makes the pretension
for itself, and the two or three texts, which seem to assert it, refer
only to the Law and the Prophets, and no where enumerate the books that
were given by inspiration: and how obscure the history of the formation
of the Canon, and how great the difference of opinion respecting its
different parts, what scholar is ignorant?


Chap. XXIX. p. 349.

'Patres, quamquam sæpe errant, tamen venerandi propter testimonium
fidei.'

Although I learn from all this chapter, that Luther was no great
Patrician, (indeed he was better employed), yet I am nearly, if not
wholly of his mind respecting the works of the Fathers. Those which
appear to me of any great value are valuable chiefly for those articles
of Christian Faith which are, as it were, 'ante Christum' JESUM, namely,
the Trinity, and the primal Incarnation spoken of by John i, 10. But in
the main I should perhaps go even farther than Luther; for I cannot
conceive any thing more likely than that a young man of strong and
active intellect, who has no fears, or suffers no fears of worldly
prudence to cry, Halt! to him in his career of consequential logic, and
who has been 'innutritus et juratus' in the Grotio-Paleyan scheme of
Christian evidence, and who has been taught by the men and books, which
he has been bred up to regard as authority, to consider all inward
experiences as fanatical delusions; - I say, I can scarcely conceive such
a young man to make a serious study of the Fathers of the first four or
five centuries without becoming either a Romanist or a Deist. Let him
only read Petavius and the different Patristic and Ecclesiastico
-historical tracts of Semler, and have no better philosophy than that of
Locke, no better theology than that of Arminius and Bishop Jeremy
Taylor, and I should tremble for his belief. Yet why tremble for a
belief which is the very antipode of faith? Better for such a man to
precipitate himself on to the utmost goal: for then perhaps he may in
the repose of intellectual activity feel the nothingness of his prize,
or the wretchedness of it; and then perhaps the inward yearning after a
religion may make him ask; - "Have I not mistaken the road at the outset?
Am I sure that the Reformers, Luther and the rest collectively, were
fanatics?"


Ib. p. 351.

'Take no care what ye shall eat'. As though that commandment did not
hinder the carping and caring for the daily bread.

For 'caring,' read, 'anxiety!' 'Sit tibi curæ, non autem solicitudini,
panis quotidianus'.


Ib. p. 351.

Even so it was with Ambrose: he wrote indeed well and purely, was more
serious in writing than Austin, who was amiable and mild. * * *
Fulgentius is the best poet, and far above Horace both with sentences,
fair speeches and good actions; he is well worthy to be ranked and
numbered with and among the poets.

'Der Teufel'! Surely the epithets should be reversed. Austin's
mildness - the 'durus pater infantum'! And the 'super'-Horatian
effulgence of Master Foolgentius! O Swan! thy critical cygnets are but
goslings.

N.B. I have, however, since I wrote the above, heard Mr. J. Hookham
Frere speak highly of Fulgentius.


Ib. p. 352.

For the Fathers were but men, and to speak the truth, their reputes
and authorities did undervalue and suppress the books and writings of
the sacred Apostles of Christ.

We doubtless find in the writings of the Fathers of the second century,
and still more strongly in those of the third, passages concerning the
Scriptures that seem to say the same as we Protestants now do. But then
we find the very same phrases used of writings not Apostolic, or with no
other difference than what the greater name of the authors would
naturally produce; just as a Platonist would speak of Speusippus's
books, were they extant, compared with those of later teachers of
Platonism; - 'He was Plato's nephew-had seen Plato - was his appointed
successor, &c.' But in inspiration the early Christians, as far as I can
judge, made no generic difference, let Lardner say what he will. Can he
disprove that it was declared heretical by the Church in the second



Online LibrarySamuel Taylor ColeridgeColeridge's Literary Remains, Volume 4 → online text (page 3 of 27)