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conscience, I am sure, among thousands, that acts like an unfaithful and intoxicated watchman, without either eyes or brains. I believe that my wife's minister is quite right in his doctrine, that all the faculties of the human mind are exceedingly vitiated and depraved; and till God mends reason and conscience, they will never mend us.
Wiseh. But, Sir, if mankind are vicious, it is their own fault; for we may be all good if we will.
Consid. Certainly so. (To Mrs. T'oogood.) See, madam, how your cat is a licking and cleaning herself all over,
Madam Toogood. Oh, Sir, she is a lovely delicate creature.
Consid. (To Mr. Wisehead.)_Then I suppose she has a will to be clean, and she proves the point, she may be clean if she will. ( To Miss Polly.) Now, Miss Polly Littleworth, did you ever see any of your father's hogs sit upright, and wash and clean themselves with their fore feet like that cat? and they certainly may if they will; but, alas, they want the will.
Spiteful. Well, such a thought, had I lived a thousand years, would never have entered my brains; but pray, are we to be compared to hogs and cats ?
Consid. Why, in the Bible men have been compared to brutes before now: to lions, bears, tigers, or leopards, wolves, foxes, and dogs, and to birds also, not less ravenous than such sort of beasts, to eagles, vultures, ravens, and others; yes, and to the worst of reptiles, to vipers themselves. But I only - ask, if there ever was found that creature, either among men or brutes, that could will contrary to his inclination or disposition? What then can we mean by saying, we may all be good if we will ? who in their senses ever denied it ? Just so bad men will be bad, and good men will be good. Is not
every one's will regulated by his disposition? Such, however, is the glib nonsense of the day.
Wiseh. I hope, Sir, you do not think, that we rational dissenters talk nonsense ; but according to your notions (and I would not wish to misunderstand you, as I believe you have a good heart, and mean well) man is a mere machine and there is an end to all distinction between virtue and vice in man, if we are obliged to act according to our dispositions, and have no power to correct them.
Madam t'oogood. Oh! shocking, shocking, Mr. Considerate, I never thought you could believe in such bad notions of religion. Iam very sorry to hear, that of late you have been such a strict follower of Lovegood. I am sure he preaches very wicked doctrines.
Spitef. Yes, madam, and such are the tenets held forth at Brookfield church. I suppose that Atheism will be preached there next.
Consid. Now I beg, Sir, you would be a little more dispassionate and give me a calm answer to the following question : Supposing you should ask any of the wild sparks in our town the reason why they gave way to such courses, what do you think would be their answer? Why, that they were overpowered by temptation and inclination before they submitted
Spitef. I suppose they might, Sir ; but what of that?
Consid. Then it seems they wanted strength or power to resist, and that reason and conscience did ihem no good, and that they were conquered by the wicked inclinations and corruptions of their hearts.
Spitef. But if you make it out that these people acted against their wills in what they did, I can see no harm in any of their wicked tricks.
Consid. Stop, Sir, you go on too fast; did I sup:
to such ways.
pose that they acted against their wills, when they acted according to their inclinations? Is not every man's will and inclination virtually the same? And are not all people, with bad inclinations, willfully wicked, while others, with good inclinations are willingly pious ? I think, Mr. Wisehead, the will is nothing but the servant of the understanding and inclinations.
Wiseh. (Giving his forehead a grave and judicious scratch.) Reaily, Sir, your question is so intricate and important, I would rather take some time to consider that point. Before I venture upon an answer, I should like to talk to our ministers. The Doctor and Mr. Smirking, I'll assure you, Sir, are very rational and able divines, and as you are in the habit of calling at our shop to read the news : in a day or too hence I hope I shall be able to give you a satisfactory answer; and then, sir, we can step into our back parlour, and have a few words further on this subject.
Spitef. ( All in a hurry.) Why, where is the difficulty of answering that question? What has the understanding or the inclination to do with the will? Have we not all a free will to act as we like best? Had not I a free will to come here, and must I not have a free will to go home again?
Consid. Pray, Sir, have you a free will to throw yourself into the fire, or jump into the water, or to go to Brookfield church next Sunday ?
Spitef. How can a man have a free will to do those things which he naturally hates ? * Consid. Why then, having no inclination to throw yourself into the fire or water, or to go to Brookfield Church, there would be no getting you to do these things but by force. Now I always thought, with you, ever since I have considered this point, that every man's will must be free to follow his incli
nations and dispositions; and that is the reason why the world live so wickedly, because they like it best. And I think if you had attended a little more to the feelings of your own mind, and the minds of others, you would have found it out that all people act according to their inclinations and dispositions, whether good or bad, and that the understanding debates according to the object set before it; next comes the choice, and the will at last determines to pursue the object that is suggested by the inclina. tions, digested by the understanding, and preferred by the choice : [to Miss Polly,] and I dare say, Miss Poliy, if your worthy father was one of the party, he would at once see that all this talk about free will was but putting the cart before the horse: for of this I am persuaded, we never act but as we are acted upon, and that good or evil are the result of all actions according to the habit of the mind.
Spitef. Then we are all like pumps, or wheelbarrons, and not rational creatures. I am for rational religion with Mr. Wisehead.
Consid. And so am I too, Sir; but though rational creatures make machines, yet there is no rationality in the machine itself. Now. I believe every man exercises his reason according to his nature and disposition; and when I suppose the pure and holy word of God is proposed to the choice of all, they who reject it do it with the utmost freedom of the will, because they dislike it, and that all good men have exactly the same freedom of will in the choice of good; “ for if the Son shall make us free, then we are free indeed ;” and when we are commanded ci to work out our salvation with fear and trembling,” that we may properly work at all, we are told, “it is God that worketh in us to will and to do of his good pleasure,” and that we are made “his willing people in the day of his power.” *So that instead of being an enemy to rational religion, I cannot see how there can be any religion that is not rational.
Spitef. Where, Sir, in the name of wonder, did you get all these cramp expressions from?
Consid. Why, Sir, from a book I am ashamed I have paid so little attention to, till of late,--the Bible: and while you and Mr. Wisehead are attempting to explain away all those fine strong expressions of “ conversion, regeneration, a new creation,” and the like, I have of late seen that a peculiar wisdom and glory belongs to them; and that it is no unmeaning abstruse metaphor, but a plain downright mitter of fact, that “ except a man be born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
Spitef. I always thought it would come to this, since you have
have lately taken to follow your wife and daughter to Brookfield church: it seems to me as if all the people were running mad together.
Consid. I acknowledge I had my secret prejudices, yet I could scarcely tell why, against my wife and daughter when they first took to go to Brookfield church; but I was satisfied, anger and opposition could answer no good end whatever. And when they requested that Mr. Lovegood might give us a visit at our house, soon after our great fimily trial, I confess I was not a little struck with his behaviour: and though I took an opportunity to dispute every inch of ground, I thought (from mere prejudice) I could maintain ; yet such was the force of truth, and such was the tender, gentlemanlike and affectionate way in which he treated me, while I rather had a design to expose him, by holding him at arm's length before my wife and daughter, that I found myself entirely disarmed; and from that time I determined to go and bear
* See Dialogue XXIX. VOL. I.