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strict observance of those laws upon which the felicity of moral agents depends. He may be inflexible respecting the obdurate and impenitent, but he cannot be vindictive; por can the most rigorous exercise of the divine Justice, forbid the manifestations of his mercy to the humble penitent.
ON THE ASCRIPTION OF PASSIONS AND AFFEC
TIONS TO THE DIVINE MIND.
The above observations concerning the divine attributes, united with the extensive view that was formerly taken of the nature, origin, effects, and final causes of the various passions and emotions in the human breast, may enable us to form some consistent ideas respecting the Ascription of human Passions and Affections to the Deity.
In times of gross ignorance, when the imagination is in vigorous exercise, and reason in its infancy, there is nothing too 'absurd to become an article of the most obstinate belief. But in proportion as reason gains the ascendency, will such absurdities be rejected. The heathen world, in the days of deep ignorance, saw no incongruity in ascribing the worst of passions to the most exalted of their Deities. But according to the advancement of civilization, and refinement in manners, did their sentiments concerning the nature, character, and offices of their gods, become more refined; although a large portion of anthropormophism remained in their creeds. Nor will unworthy notions be entirely banished from the mind, until we shall have fully ascertained the nature of moral perfection, and have learned to draw just inference from that knowledge.
In our analysis of the Passions it was observed, that they originated from the two primary or cardinal affections of love and HATRED. But it was also shewn, that these are resolvable into that one grand principle,—the love of good, of well being, or happiness. We have also shewn, that these passions and affections possess various characters : some are considered as innocent, others as criminal; some manifest superior excellence in a character; some superior deformity; some arise from our wants, desires, and apprehensions; some from our acquisitions, or from expectations of good; some from our sufferings; some are the sources of all the happiness our nature can possess; and others of all its misery. It has been further proved, that the affections which proinote our happiness, in various degrees, and in various ways, possess different modifications of Love as essential ingredients; and that the attention is always fixed upon some apparent good, by which are excited the pleasing sensations of hope, joy, satisfaction, benevolence, gratitude, admiration, &c.&c. It has also been shewn, that Hatred and Aversion are concomitant with unhappiness, in all its modifications; for evil is the most conspicuous in all their existing causes. These aversions are manifest in anger, sorrow, fear. It was farther remarked, that the most poble affections are those in which we discern that the mind is warmly interested in the welfare of another; and the most ignoble, are those which are designedly productive of misery, or wish evil to others.
With this short summary in view, we may easily ascertain which of the Passions are totally unworthy of the divine Being, and inconsistent with his attributes.
It is self-evident that none of those passions can be ascribed to God, which arise from suffering of evil, or apprehensions of its approach; or from the privation of good. No dangers can awaken fearful apprehensions, no loss can inspire grief, no error can occasion repentance. That Being who is above all controul, who is actuated by the best of principles, to effect the best of purposes, whose wisdom foresees the most remote consequences in every determination of his will; who cannot be unjust to any of his creatures, that Being must be an eternal stranger to sorrow, repentance, self-reproach, and dread.
Weak and frail beings are naturally struck with awe at a power which is capable to do them an injury, and which no one can avert. They know that their own revengeful passions are quickly excited by a sense of injuries; and that a consciousness of having offended, fills them with dismay. Hence it is, that the first attribute that attracts the notice of the ignorant is irresistible power. Fear is the first, the strongest, and, perhaps, the only incitement to the worship of superior beings, in minds totally uncultivated. Oblations of praise and thanksgivings, are secondary; they are generally occasional and transient. The performance of any religious act, expressive of gratitude, is an indication that the mind is emerging from barbarism. Although Fear could not make the gods, but phænomena, which manifested a power superior to every thing human, and, consequently, exciting fear, yet it certainly armed these gods with terror. Fear is not only the first, and the strongest, but it is the most permanent of all the Passions. The terror that has been impressed upon young and tender minds,