페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

friends might try to exert over him, that he should have committed so few errors, or exhibited so few failings.

It is ardently hoped that a Life of Wesley may yet be furnished by some of his admirers and gifted sons, doing full justice to his character and labors. To do this, he “must be viewed,” says Dr. Clarke, “as a scholar, poet, logician, critic, philosopher, politician, legislator, divine, public teacher, and a deeply pious, and extensively useful man.” The materials for such a work are abundant; and blessings will come upon him that shall accomplish it.

Much of the prejudice which exists against Mr. Wesley has been caused and fostered by those who were under obligations to him, and who were, professedly at least, his friends. John Hampson, Jr., as we have seen, was indebted to him for his early education. John Hampson, Senr., Myles informs us, notwithstanding his strange course, was regularly assisted from the preachers' fund as long as he lived. Hervey, whose letters cast so much odium upon Mr. Wesley in Scotland, and among the Calvinists generally, was in the Oxford association. Dr. Whitehead, whose Life of Wesley has been, and still is, a text book with those who asperse his character, was indebted to him and Methodism for most if not all his standing in society. And Nightingale and Lockington, whose statements bear prima facie evidence of their falsity, were both apostates from Methodism. Christ was betrayed by one of his disciples; and a man's foes are they of his own household.

Mr. Wesley's reflections, on entering his eighty-eighth year, are so befitting, at the close of this article, that we shall transcribe them. He says :-“This day I enter into my eighty-eighth year. For above eighty-six years I found none of the infirmities of old age; my eyes did not wax dim, neither was my natural strength abated; but last August I found almost a sudden change: my eyes were so dim that no glasses would help me, and probably will not return in this world: but I feel no pain from head to foot; only, it seems, nature is exhausted, and, humanly speaking, will sink more and more, till

• The weary springs of life stand still at last.”” Blessed man of God! Thine is a green old age. Thou hast been faithful. Thy sons—God grant that they may be worthy of their sire !-honor thy virtues. In thy life and character they read "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report.” And with thee, Christ was ALL IN ALL.

H.

ART. V.-The Pelagian Controversy.*

[From the French of Guizot.] The principal questions that occupied the Christian society of Gaul in the fifth century were, 1. Pelagianism, or the heresy of Pelagius, mainly opposed by St. Augustin; 2. The nature of the soul, agitated in the south of Gaul between the bishop Fauste and the clerk Mamert Claudien; 3. A few points of worship and discipline rather than of doctrine, as the worship of martyrs, the merit of fasts, austerities, celibacy, &c.: these were the object of the writings of Vigilance; 4. The prolongation of the struggle of Christianity against paganism and Judaism, which suggested the

[* The above article forms the fifth Lecture of M. Guizot's Histoire de la Civilisation en France,” a work which, in impartiality and depth of research, in philosophical analysis, in its masterly power of generalization, and though last, not least, in its reverence for and sublime faith in religious principles, and in their ultimate triumph, may safely be pronounced without an equal in the European literature of the present century. We have barely space to hint at the great talents and untiring energy which raised the author from the humblest condition to the commanding post of Minister for Foreign Affairs in the cabinet of Louis Philippe. M. Guizot is a Protestant—a member of the Consistory of the Reformed Church, and one of the vice-presidents of the Protestant Bible Society at Paris.

The following notice of the subject of the present translation is from the pen of the late lamented Dr. Arnold, Regius Professor of Modern History in the University of Oxford, and bears the date of 1830 :

“On my way out through France, I was reading Guizot's History of the Progress of Civilization in France, from the earliest times. You know he is now Minister of the Interior, and one of the ablest writers in France. In his book he gives a history of the Pelagian controversy, a most marvelous contrast with the liberals of a former day, or with our Westminster Reviews

Guizot sides with St. Augustin ; but the whole chapter is most worthy of notice: the freedom of the will, so far as to leave a consciousness of guilt when we have not done our duty--the corruption of our nature, which never lets us, in fact,* come up to what we know we ought to do, and the help derived from prayers to God—are stated as incontrovertible philosophical facts, of which every man's experience may convince him; and Guizot blames Pelagius for so exaggerating the notion of human freedom as to lose sight of our need of external assistance. And there is another chapter on the unity of the church, no less remarkable. Now Guizot is professor of history in the University of Paris, and a most eminent liberal ; and it seems to me worthy of all notice to observe his language with regard to religion.”—Life and Correspondence of Thomas Arnold, D. D., p. 164, Am, ed.—TRANSLATOR.)

* If this were our statement we showd choose to qualify it with the following:-Without the sanctifying grace of God.-EDIT.

now.

two dialogues of the monk Evagrus-between the Jew Simon and the Christian Theophilus, and between the Christian Zaccheus and the philosopher Apollonius.

Of these questions, Pelagianism is much the most important; it was the great intellectual matter in the church in the fifth century, as Arianism had been that of the fourth. Its history will form the subject of the present essay.

It is well known that this controversy turns upon the doctrines of free-will and grace—the relations of human liberty with the divine power-the influence of God on the moral activity of man.

At the bare announcement of this question, it will be perceived that it is peculiar neither to the fifth century nor to Christianity. It is a universal problem of all times, all places, which all religions and all philosophies have stated and attempted to solve.

It is, therefore, evidently related to primitive moral facts, universal, and inherent in human nature, and open to observation. I shall first seek for these facts; I shall endeavor to unfold in man in general, independently of all considerations of time, place, or peculiar belief, the natural elements, the primitive matter, so to speak, of the Pelagian controversy. I shall bring these facts to the light, without addition or retrenchment, without discussion, intent only to verify and describe them.

I shall afterward show what questions naturally arise from the facts—what difficulties, what controversies they may occasion always independently of every particular circumstance of time, place, or social condition.

This done, and, if I may so express myself, the general, theo retic side of the question once well established, I shall ascertain under what special point of view these moral facts were considered in the fifth century, by the defenders of the various opinions in debate.

Finally, after explaining from what sources and under what auspices Pelagianism originated, I shall relate its history; I shald attempt to trace, in their relations and progress, the principal ideas to which it gave birth, in order to a thorough knowledge of the condition of men's minds at the moment when this great controversy arose—how it influenced them, and at what point it left them,

To the examination of the moral facts with which the question is connected, I ask a strict and special attention. To perceive and express them with precision is difficult; and I am desirous that they should lack neither clearness nor certainty.

The first, that which lies at the foundation of all the contro versy, is liberty-free-will-the human will. In order to an exact

Vol. VIII.-28

[ocr errors]

comprehension of this fact, it must be separated from every foreign element, and reduced strictly to itself. It is, I believe, for want of this care that it has been so often imperfectly understood; we have not placed ourselves in full view of the fact of liberty, and of that alone; it has been seen and described pell-mell, so to speak, with other facts that lie very near it in the moral life, but which differ from it not the less essentially. For example: human liberty has been made to consist in the power of deliberating and choosing between the motives of action; deliberation, and the judgment which follows it, have been considered the essence of free-will. This is an error. These are acts of the understanding, and not of the will; it is before the understanding that the different motives of action-interests, passions, opinions, or others--appear; it considers, compares, values, weighs, and finally judges them. This is a preparatory labor that precedes the act of willing, but in nowise constitutes it. When the deliberation has taken place --when the man has taken full cognizance of the motives that present themselves to him, and of their value—then arises a new and totally different fact, the fact of free-will; the man takes a resolution, that is to say, he commences a series of facts which have their origin in himself, of which he regards himself as the author, which exist because he wills it, which would not exist if he did not will it, and which would be different if he willed to produce them otherwise. Banish all recollection of mental deliberationof known and appreciated motives ; concentrate your thought, and that of the man who takes a resolution, on the moment in which he takes it-in which he says, “I will; I will do "—and ask yourself, ask him, if he could not will and do otherwise. Assuredly both you and he will reply, “ Yes.” Here is revealed the fact of free-will; it resides entire in the resolution taken by the man after deliberation; the resolution is the proper act of the man, which subsists by him, and by him alone; a simple act, independent of all the facts that precede or accompany it; identical in circumstances the most diverse ; always the same, whatever may be its motives or results.

The man perceives the act when he originates it; he knows himself free; he is conscious of his liberty. Consciousness is that faculty possessed by man of contemplating what passes within him, of observing his own existence, of being, so to speak, a spectator of himself. Whatever facts transpire in the man, it is by the fact of consciousness that they are revealed to him; consciousness, like thought and sensation, attests his liberty ; man sees and knows himself free, as he sees and knows himself a sentient, re

flecting, and judging being. The attempt has been often, and is still made, to establish between these different facts an indefinable inequality of clearness and certainty; objections are made to what is called the design of introducing into science strange and obscure facts—the facts of consciousness. Sensation, perception, it is said, are clear and established; but the facts of consciousness, where are they? what are they? I think it unnecessary to insist long upon this point. Sensation and perception, like liberty, are facts of consciousness; man perceives them in the same manner, and with the same degree of clearness and certainty. He may give his attention to certain acts of consciousness rather than to certain others, and forget or mistake those which he does not observe; the opinion to which I am now alluding proves it; but when he observes himself completely, when he is present at the entire spectacle of his interior life, he has little difficulty in convincing himself that all the scenes pass on the same stage, and are known to him through the same medium.

I desire that the fact of human liberty, thus reduced to its proper and distinctive nature, may be impressed on the mind; for its confusion with contiguous but dissimilar facts has been one of the principal causes of trouble and debate in the great controversy we are about to examine.

A second fact, equally natural, equally universal, has played an important part in this controversy.

At the same time that man feels himself free, and is conscious of the power of commencing, by his will alone, a series of facts, he is also conscious that his will is under the control of a certain law, which takes different names, according to the circumstances in which it is applied, as-moral law, reason, good sense, &c. He is free; but, in his own opinion, his liberty is not arbitrary; he may use it in a foolish, unjust, or culpable manner; but every time he uses it a certain law must preside. The observance of this law is his duty-the task of his liberty.

He soon perceives that he never fully performs this task; that he never acts perfectly according to reason-according to the moral law; that, always free, that is, morally capable of conforming to the law, he does not, in fact, accomplish all that he should, or even all that he can. On every occasion, when he strictly interrogates himself, and answers sincerely, he is forced to say, “I might if I had willed;" but his will has been slothful and cowardly; he has gone to the extent neither of his duty nor of his power.

This is an evident fact, to which every one can bear witness; there is even this singularity about it, that the consciousness of

« 이전계속 »