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He even tries to show that our ideas of justice are the product of human experience as expressed in law. This is his view of conscience :
“A feeling in our own mind—a pain more or less intense, attendant on violation of duty, which, in properly cultivated moral datures, rises in the more serious cases into shrinking from it as an impossibility. This feeling, when disinterested and connecting itself with the pure idea of duty, and not with some particular form of it, or with
any of the merely accessory circumstances, is the essence of conscience.” 1 When this pure idea has been "incrusted over with collateral associations” derived from religion, from education, from aftection, it assumes, he thinks, whatever of moral obligation there is in it.
This view of morals from a human stand-point may satisfy a heathen like Soerates, because his only appeal is from his own nature to the world in which he exists; but it does not satisfy a man who believes in God. Mr. Mill uses the law of parsimony in eliminating original principles with the same destructive force in morals as in metaphysics. The fault with his theory is not that it is untrue, but that he makes it take the place of Christian ethics. He takes for granted that no religion is true, and that we can only build upon a human foundation ; and thus this utility theory is the legitimate outcome of the association philosophy. He claims, indeed, that you may add the sanctions of religion or a belief in God to utilitarianism, but it is not necessary
It is impossible, at this age of the world, to tell how much has been added to our simple, innate ideas by the aggregate knowledge of mankind, but even Mr. Mill is obliged in the last analysis to admit that we have a pure idea of duty, although he claims that the distinction between right and wrong in man is only the contrast of pleasurable and painful feeling, independent of external education. What he admits, however, is the very thing which seems to us fundamentally necessary. Believing as we do in a Divine Being who governs the world, we can not conceive that man's morality is different in kind from God's If our sense of right and wrong is not founded on the same
1 Dissertations and Discussions, Vol. III., pp. 338, 339.
eternal distinction between right and wrong which belongs to God, then we have only the utilitarian morality, or the consequences of actions, to go by. But if our sense of right has been created in us, however feebly, as we believe it has, and this is conscience, and this moral sense is the inward regulator by which we test outward action, the basis exists in man for Christian ethics, and the utilitarian morality is simply the human or practical existence in affairs of the distinctions which God, in creating man, has made possible for every one of us. Mr. Mill's excessive desire to get on without Christianity has led him to sink out of sight or gloss over this starting point of morals, and so to deny any divine sanction to ethics. But granting this view, and it is the only one possible to a Christian mind, the conscience, being the inward guide, is continually enlightened by divine revelation as given through the Christian church; especially is this so, since the advent of Christ. Thus it is that an enlightened conscience becomes an adequate guide ; thus it is that a man's power of judging for himself is held as sacred, and not to be interfered with ; thus it is that we escape from the sphere of invariable law in human life, by the consciousness given in conscience that we are acting in accordance with truth; thus it is that man looks forward through the training of his conscience to spiritual perfection as an end, thus it is that he becomes capable of heroism, of resignation and self-sacrifice; thus it is that a sense of duty leads us to the highest spiritual attainments and the costliest sacrifices of humanity.'
Revelation is here understood as the truths of the Bible, interpreted by the Christian church; and this need leave no one in doubt as to his duty, while it always holds up the true idea that conscience is governed by an infallible authority. Thus Christian ethics give us the invariable law by which conscience is to be educated, and the utilitarian theory laps on to this, as the lower part of practical morality which is chiefly relegated to common experience and observation. Mr. Mill's error is in trying to make his theory cover the ground of Christian ethics —to expand a mundane system to the proportions of one which all here hold to be divine. This is much like trying to change atheism into theism ; and Mr. Mill's system is nothing short of atheism, since it excludes Divinity from morals.
i These views are well stated in Henry Holbeach, Vol. II., in a Letter on the Sphere of Law, addressed to John Stuart Mill. This whole work is worthy of a careful reading by students in mental philosophy.
Our objection to Mr. Mill's theory of morals has in fact anticipated what we have to say upon his religious influence. This is everywhere negative. Too deferential to received opinions to speak disrespectfully, he ignores Christianity like a heathen philosopher. His object is to go no further than sight, but he attempts to make our sight or sense-given knowledge cover the entire circle of human wants. He is a believer in progress not only in metaphysics and in physical science, but even in ethology or the science of human character. It was Burke who said that no new principles were to be discovered in morals or government, but Mr. Mill takes the ground that there are, and yet his own fixity of opinion, through many years of thinking on these very subjects, shows that he has gained nothing new. In the department of the physical sciences and of sociology we look for improvement, but not in morals, or in theology. Here our only work is to bring out and apply anew to the wants of mankind, the principles which God has given to man.
When a philosopher puts himself in antagonism with the theological issues of speculative opinion, and overlooks, if he does not deny, the changes which practically Christianity has made in our methods of arriving at certainty in the highest truths, he at once narrows his own vision and his
of comprehensive thought. From whatever cause, here is Mr. Mill's great defect. He does not deny, nor attack, he ignores Christianity. And this gives to his writings on speculative and ethical subjects a bad, depressing influence upon the reader. They are not elevating. In Sir W. Hamilton, you are now and then raised to some point of elevation, from which you see where you are : in
Mr. Mill, never.
But in his chosen province of positive philosophy, as the application of the inductive method to science and polities and even in part to metaphysics, he has done a noble service. His acute and logical mind marches through his subjects without fear or hesitation. His higher essays are admirable specimens of clearness of conception, and to whatever subject in the domain of phenomena he applies himself, the result is always an advance in the line of distinct thought. Nothing can be finer as a logical
exercise, than to follow him through the Examination. IIe advances as if he were the complete master of his subject. And in his synopsis of Comte, the simplicity and clearness with which he states his views is admirable. No one should fail to read his writings for their method alone; but, added to this, in the field we have pointed out, the systematizing of opinion, he is a master from whom we can all learn, and whose opinions and thoughts are most instructive: and in this respect his other writings, which we intend to examine in a future article, will be found to be even more valuable than those already considered.
THE DISCIPLINE OF DOUBT.
At no time in the history of Christianity has there been such need, as now, of an earnest, enlightened faith on the part of every one of its disciples. Though human nature remains the same, no more opposed to the truth, and no less, yet a long course of ages seems to have made the restless spirit of man more ingenious in devising new forms of scepticism; while false religion, having the form of godliness without the power, by its protestations of " no creed," or "broad church,” is drawing crowds of followers; and, feigning friendship for the truth, is really joining hands with scepticism to pervert and destroy a pure Christianity. Again, the condition of society is no longer what it once was, only a few educated, only a few thinkers, the masses ignorant and indifferent; but the people are being educated, the people read and think, believe or doubt. Accordingly, while this age of general enlightenment has brought great blessings, it has also brought great dangers ; and he alone can be pronounced truly happy, who humbly recognizes the divine source of all these blessings, and whose knowledge is ever held subservient to a heavenly wisdom.
Surely, if the character of the time in which we live be such as we have briefly stated, it should well become every Christian, both for his own greater comfort, and that he may meet all cavillers and questioners, to be "ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh him a reason of the hope that is in him."
There is need, then, of an earnest, and an understanding faith. Earnestness alone will not suffice. The excited enthusiast, whose faith obeys the guidance of impulse, may to-morrow abandon his belief, as impulsively as to-day he adopts and defends it. It matters little, that we only zealously believe something; to be sure that we are in the right, we must know definitely what we believe, and why we believe it.
It is a law of God's economy, that most truths of importance to man should be established only after much toil and trouble, and often long and patient waiting. The true uses of doubt, then, as a means of discovering truth, can not fail to be recognized. For who has not noticed, how often, during a process of investigation, opinions are received, then doubted, then rejected, and others chosen in their place; and all this perhaps many times, before the truth is clearly perceived ? Indeed, what wise man holds his newly-formed views of any subject with pertinacity ? And the more important the subject, the greater the modesty and hesitation, till sufficient evidence be brought in to amply confirm the opinion to be adopted. Thus, at first, men took the evidence of the senses, and thought the earth was flat, and the heavens revolved around it; but doubts were suggested at last, and they went on reasoning, speculating, and doubting, for more than twenty centuries before truth was established. This is but one of a thousand illustrations which might be cited, of the use of doubt as a principle in scientific investigation.
Let us inquire whether doubt is not permitted to have as legitimate a place in confirming Christian faith. Now faith is the gift of God, as we are expressly told in his word ; but God's best gifts to us often come through much tribulation ; and such a faith as we are speaking of, is commonly his gift to those only, whom he has led on, through varied trials, to a higher Christian life. We think we are safe in saying, that generally such a faith has known what it is to triumph over doubt.
We should readily suppose that the truths of Christianity had