Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

“To create, is a thing easily conceived, for we constantly do it ourselves. We create every time we do a free act. I will, I make a resolution, I make another, then another, I modify, suspend, or pursue it. But what do I do? I produce an effect, which I refer to no one of you, but to myself as cause, the only cause, so that, in relation to the existence of this effect, I seek nothing above or beyond myself. See, then, what it is to create. Wo create a free act; we create it, I say, for we refer it to no principle (cause) superior to ourselves, we impute it to ourselves exclusively. It was not, it began to exist in virtue of the principle of proper causality which we possess. So, to cause is to create. But with (from) what? with nothing? No; but, on the contrary, with the foundation of our existence, with all our creative force, with all our liberty, our free activity, and our personality. Man does not bring from nothing the action that he had not performed till he attempted to perform it, he drew it from his power to perform it, from himself. Here is the type of a creation. The divine creation is of the same nature. God, if he is a cause, can create; if he is an absolute cause, he cannot but create; and in creating the universe, he does not bring it from nothing, he derives it from himself, from that power of causation, of creation, in which we feeble men have a share; all the difference between our creation and that of God, is the general difference between God and man, the difference be. tween the absolute and the relative cause.

“God creates then, he creates in virtue of his own creative energy; he draws the world, not from the nothing, which is not, but from himself, the absolute existence. This eminent characteristic being an absolute creative force, which cannot but pass into act, it follows, not simply, that creation is possible, but that it is necessary; it follows that God creates incessantly, infinitely; creation is inexhaustible and constantly maintained. More than this; God creates from himself. God is in the universe as the cause is in the effect, as we ourelves, feeble and limited causes, are, so far as we are causes, (en tant que causes) in the limited and feeble effects that we pro

duce.

In a subsequent lecture the author speaks thus:

“In human reason we have found three ideas, which it does not constitute, but which govern it in all its applications.

The passage from these ideas to God was not difficult, for these ideas are God himself.”

Thus reasons a philosopher who claims to be Christian, who ascribes the whole progress of the human mind, of civilization since the middle ages, to the Christian religion. Here are his own words: “Christianity is the foundation of modern civilization, they have the same destiny, they share the same fortunes,” &c. Cousin often asserts the same thing in the most unequivocal terms, a proof that his penetration is not always blinded by philosophical theories.

The extracts which we have given are principally from the fifth lecture of the Introduction to the History of Philosophy. Another sentiment found in this volume deserves notice. It is substantially this: the virtues of a victorious hero are nearly in proportion to his success; the victorious nation in war is always in the right; the vanquished deserved to be trodden under foot. All this follows from the principle, that every great change in human affairs is a step gained in the progress of humanity. Whatever power is overcome must be one that had done its work, and then only stood in the way of something better. On these principles Buonaparte was a saint, with but an occasional blemish, till the battle of Waterloo, where he became a most guilty man, abundantly deserving banishment from the world.

The following sentiment is found at the commencement of the fourth lecture:

“A grand thought, a divine thought is also in the physical world, but it is there without knowing itself; it is only after crossing the different kingdoms of nature, and by a progressive labour, that it arrives at self-consciousness in man; there it knows itself very imperfectly at first, by degrees it comes not only to self-consciousness, but to the full knowledge of itself.”

The sentiment of Cousin in regard to revelation may be gathered from the sixth lecture of this volume.

6. Inspiration, in all languages, is distinct from reflection; it is the perception (l'aperception) of truth, I understand it of essential, fundamental truths, without the intervention of will or personality. Inspiration does not belong to us. There we are simply spectators; we are not agents, at least our action consists only in the consciousness of what is done: there

VOL. IV. No. III.--3 A

is no doubt even at this early period, * activity, but it is activity without voluntary reflection. Inspiration has for its character enthusiasm; it is accompanied by that powerful emotion which elevates the mind above its ordinary subaltern state, developing the sublime and divine part of its nature:

Est Deus in nobis, agitante calescimus illo.

“In fact, man, during the marvellous state of inspiration and enthusiasm, unable to refer it to himself, refers it to God, and calls the primitive and pure affirmation, revelation. Is the human race wrong? When man, conscious of his feeble agency in inspiration, refers to God the truths which he did not make, but which govern him, is he deceived? Certainly not. For what is God? I have told you: thought in itself, absolute thought in its fundamental elements, eternal reason, the substance and cause of the truths which man perceives. When man refers to God truths that he cannot refer to this world, nor to his own personality, he gives credit where he ought-the affirmation of absolute truth without reflection, is a true revelation. You then see why, in the cradle of civilization, he who has more than his fellow men, of this marvellous gift of inspiration, passes for the confidant and interpreter of God. He is so for others, gentlemen, because he is so for himself; he is so for himself, because he is really so in a philosophic sense. See the origin of prophecy, of priesthood, of religious worship.

“Remark also a peculiar effect of this phenomenon of inspiration. When urged by the vivid and rapid perception of truth, transported by inspiration and enthusiasm, man tries to bring forth what passes within him, to express it in words, he can only employ words of the same character with the phenomenon to be translated. The necessary form, the language of inspiration is poetry, and the primitive speech is a hymn."

If we understand all this, the religious hymns of every barbarous tribe are upon the same footing with the Christian Bible. Besides, as reflection succeeds this spontaneous reason, here called revelation, philosophy is above any revelation that can be made, it is the product of the mind in an advanced

At the only period when inspiration takes place, according to this author, viz: in an uncultivated state of mind.

state. This is a sentiment extensively held in France and Germany. It is one, too, that very easily finds access to a reflecting mind, that is not occupied by confidence in the Christian Scriptures, and doubtless may overthrow a degree even of that confidence that would be unshaken by all the arguments of gross infidelity.

We wish, in a few words, to express an opinion as to the general tendency of Cousin's philosophy. In the first place, it seems admirably calculated to destroy all moral distinctions. We admit, our author distinctly recognises the grand principles of morals in many passages of the volumes before us; but all impression of their authority is destroyed by his leading sentiments. If the creation and providence of God are necessary manifestations of the divine causative existence, they can have no moral character, in the common sense of the expression. The actions of creatures, whose reason is only a fragment of the divine reason, can, of course, have no morality different from the divine. All human conduct is, upon this scheme, a part of the divine agency. All things, all events, must be equally good. The fall of millions, in warfare between man and man, is really matter of no more regret, connected with no more guilt, than the autumnal disrobing of the forest.

In the second place, this system affords little ground for belief in the future individual existence of the soul. The fragment of the divine intelligence now manifest in a human body, may be absorbed into the divine essence at death, or it may pass

into some new manifestation, without either past or coming responsibility. We do not say that such is the opinion of Cousin, but it seems to us the only legitimate consequence of his system.

Thirdly: upon the scheme before us, although the Christian religion may be compiimented for the past, it can hold no commanding situation in the human mind, after philosophy has fairly executed its mission, after reflection has carried our intelligence into the higher and purer region of abstract thought.

Fourthly : Cousin may not choose for himself the appellation Pantheist, but we know of no other that meets our idea of his system as a whole. But Pantheism, though more sublime, far more seductive, is hardly better than Atheism. It interests the imagination, but its legitimate tendency is to destroy all moral sanction.

To conclude an article, already longer than we design

ed: The state of French and German philosophy is such as to enlist the deepest feelings of every Christian, whose bosom glows with benevolence to the whole race of his fellow men. The science and literature of two among the most advanced nations of the world, is employed far more successfully against the religion of Christ than is any superstition of India. The latter cannot seduce an Englishman or American: the former does this daily.

Now we ask, can the friends of the Christian religion do nothing to resist this terrible enemy? Are we to combat the superstitions of heathenism, and still not even ask what can be done to resist a more dreadful foc in Christian lands? We pretend not to say what definite steps can be taken to favour the cause of revealed truth in either France or Germany; but while God is the hearer of prayer, the subject deserves consideration. A single thing may be suggested : any measure that would favour the increase of piety and knowledge of the truth, among the lower and especially middle classes of France or Germany, would at length extend the benefit to the more refined classes. The literati of Germany would, of course, scorn any such attempts to reach their minds; but will they not at some time return to the religion of the Bible, and will not this be a consequence of prayers and efforts, which a preceding generation had ridiculed? Is it not a want of faith and true Christian zeal, that leads us to suppose the German philosopher beyond the reach of divine mercy, when exercised through any of its common channels? Were Christian writers in this country and in England, always upon the alert to expose the vagaries of infidel philosophy, and place over against it the truth of God, great results might at some time be anticipated. We are ever to remember, that God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty ;--that no flesh should glory in his presence."

We add a single reflection. Just before our Saviour appeared upon earth, there was prevalent a general expectation that some extraordinary person was soon to visit mankind, and produce a highly beneficial revolution in the world. While the Jewish prophets uttered the oracles of God, Roman poets, Indian philosophers, Persian magi, were the unwitting heralds of the Prince of Peace. Like this, is one of the signs of the present time. The Christian world looks for the se

« AnteriorContinuar »