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searching after truths, which are altogether beyond the reach of finite minds. Hence their researches frequently involved them in new errors, and often left them overwhelmed in the turbid waters of skepticism. Their best metaphysical systems served rather to bewilder, than to guide the inquirer after truth; they conducted him into a labyrinth, without a clue to direct his wandering steps. It was left for Christian philosophy—for minds enlightened, purified, and directed by revelation, to fix the bounds, and prescribe the laws, of philosophical investigation. Till Bacon, no more gifted by nature then Aristotle, yet guided by this heavenly light, and feeling a responsibility for his doctrines, which the father of ancient philosophy never felt; till this Christian philosopher had drawn the line between hypothesis and fact, established the authority of inductive reasoning, and thus limited and defined the field of philosophical research, more than half the speculations of the strongest minds were fraught with absurdity and productive of practical
And wherever modern philosophy has rejected the light of revelation, burst the restraints of sober investigation, and discarded that spirit of meekness and sobriety, which Christ displayed, and which Christianity inculcates, she has served rather to obscure and bewilder, than to enlighten and guide the human mind. Look at the operations of the philosophical infidelity of the last century. As far as her power extended, she swept away the mounds of civil society, threw down the barriers which had been erected against vice and error, and destroyed whatever was calculated to guard the best interests and highest happiness of mankind.
But the influence of Christianity on intellectual man is not confined to the regions appropriated to technical philosophy. It elevates the minds, not of a few only, but of many—of men of all classes and in every condition. Destroying the proud distinctions of rank and cast, Christianity operates on the great mass of mind, diffusing knowledge through the whole. lı gives importance and elevation to the weakest intellect. Ancient philosophy was confined to the schools. It was shrouded in mystery. A few only were permitted to look within the veil; and from the inspection of the female sex, it was entirely secluded. But modern philosophy, adorned with Christian humility, walks abroad in the clear light of heaven, that all may contemplate her beauties, and catch a portion of her effulgent spirit. The doors even of her inner temple have been thrown open, that persons of all ranks and both sexes may enter, without restraint, and learn her laws, and receive her counsels.
After all, the influence of Christianity on intellect is principally discoverable through the medium of its moral influence. By this influence it regulates the process of intellectual cultivation, and produces among the intellectual powers a just balance, a happy equilibrium. Infidel genius runs wild; destroying itself, and often bringing sudden destruction on those, who attempt to pursue its track. But genius, guided by Christianity, is sober, yet persevering in her course; conducting all, who follow her steps, by a safe path, into regions of light and felicity. Vice contaminates mind, and obscures intellectual vision; the understanding is darkened through the depravity of the heart. But virtue, Christian virtue, governing the
passions, restraining the appetites, directing the propensities, strengthens and elevates the intellectual powers, facilitates acquisition, gives stability to science and utility to knowledge. Genius without principle forms such a character as Byron's, irritable, eccentric, wretched; and produces such works as his, which, like transient meteors, dazzle and delude for a moment, and then sink into forgetfulness for
But talents, sanctified by divine grace and moved by Christian motives, constitutes a mind like Newton's, consistent, splendid, happy; and leads to such investigations, as he made, which, like the oùbs of heaven, whose tracks he followed and whose laws he revealed, will continue to enlighten and guide all future generations.
II. Let us consider the influence of Christianity on the character and happiness of man, viewed more particularly as a moral being. We have been led unavoidably to anticipate something of this view. We have already said, that man is capable of sustaining and feeling mural relations; and we have seen, that a regard to these relations and the duties which flow from them, is intimately connected with intellectual greatness and the acquisition of useful knowledge. But we now proceed to consider the more direct effects of the Gospel on the moral dignity of man, and the blessedness with which this dignity is inseparably connected.
The discussion of this topic we commence with the broad position, that in proportion as a man feels and regards his moral relations, other circumstances being equal, will be his power of enjoying and communicating happiness.—It is true, human nature, even in its fallen condition, is capable of pleasing emotions
and salutary propensities. Natural affection, instinctive compassion, and social sympathy enable us to participate in the joys and sorrows of our friends and fellow-men; and dispose us not only to "shed a tear for others' wo," but to extend a hand for their relief. Yet, however salutary the influence of these natural feelings, and however clearly they indicate the wisdom and benevolence of our Creator, still they do not much distinguish man from the beasts that perish; nor can they be relied on, as a source of permanent felicity or benevolent action, unless sanctified by divine grace, and directed by enlightened and holy principle. Natural affection, without modification, is nothing but extended self-love, exclusive in its nature, and often destructive of every benevolent feeling and generous purpose. Instinctive compassion is blind, and, left to its own guidance, it will do evil as well as good-will be generous, even where generosity is pernicious-will gratify, where gratification encourages vice—will grant relief, where relief is death; it not unfrequently spares the life of the murderer, puts a dagger into the hand of the assassin, and sets at liberty the enemies of peace and social happiness. And even sympathy, that great spring of benevolent action, that mighty cord, which binds man to man, that indescribable power, by which we may draw felicity from all around, and communicate happiness, as far as our hand can reach, or our voice be heard; even this principle of our natural constitution, so essential to personal enjoyment and benevolent effort, is still dependent, for its ultimate effects and continued existence, on a happy cultivation and judicious direction-on a union with moral and religious principle. How often does native sympathy, in the irreligious
and immoral, degenerate into a sickly, peevish, inefficient sensibility, or give place to stupid apathy, or cruel ferocity! Thus unsanctified, it can weep over fictitious distress and imaginary sufferings; while with instinctive disgust it turns away its unpitying eye from scenes of real poverty and wretchedness. It can spend its strength and exhaust its energies, over a novel or at a theatre, weeping with the unfortunate hero of fiction, or repining with the elegant, but disappointed person of the drama; while the real sufferer, who has fallen among thieves, is sullenly passed by, and left to welter in his blood-while the sufferings, which need relief and call for active charity, are forgotten or neglected. Exclude from the human mind a belief of that “life and immortality,” which are “brought to light in the Gospel,” and all the endearing charities of the present life would flee with it. Little would be left, to excite our sympathy, and nothing to awaken the energies of enlarged benevolence. Men would view each other, and treat each other, as fellow-worms, and feel as little moved at the sight of murder, as when an insect dies. Assassination in their view (to use the language and express the feelings of the skeptical Hume,) would be “nothing more than changing the current of a little red fluid.” Contracted selfishness, cold misanthropy, and cruel ferocity would exclude from the human breast every feeling, which now gives us an interest in each other's happiness; would destroy every motive, which now excites to benevolent action, and gives to man all that is kind and lovely in his moral character. This is not conjecture, but fact. Where the light of revelation has never shed its benign rays, savage cruelty has held undivided empire, and exer