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theory ; it no longer trembles before the blast, but is stretched in ruins upon the dust.
Such among many others are the passages on which our Church has established this disputed doctrine, and to me I must confess they are satisfactory: yet I am well aware that by many it is thought not only absurd, but cruel and intolerantthe child of priestcraft and terror of ignorance. Would to God I could esteem it such. The horrors of endless punishment have no charms to seduce the imagination, and the evidences of their truth must command our understandings, not win our favour. But the same observation is equally applicable to the tempests by which this world is agitated, of which the proofs are irresistible, and it is infinitely important that what is clearly established by the word of God, should not be rejected by the pride
If my memory is correct, the first Christian Father of eminence who called in question: the eternity of future torments, was the celebrated Origen; a man who seems to have been harshly treated both by his contemporaries and successors. His opinions on this subject (as on some others), he never patronized in public, but communicated them only in the confidence of private correspondence ;----perhaps rather hažarding them as probable, than maintaining them as certain ; and it should be recorded to his honour, that what he thus privately supported, he publicly recanted before his death. But his disciples
have greatly increased both in number and confidence, and the gloomy picture afforded us by our spiritual mother, is rejected alike by the proud subtilty of the philosopher, and the fastidious elegance of the Poet. Among the notes to a * work of just celebrity, I remember formerly to have met with a Sonnet ending thus :
• Ind realize the hell which Priests and Belda ms feign."
I know not how such an interpreter of the Scriptures could maintain the truth of a single doctrine therein contained. I am sure I can quote the authority of another poet, before whose splendid orb his little ray is swallowed up in darkness.
for ever sunk
Milton, with all his errors, presumed not to flatter his imagination at the expense of his judgment, and those who can reach neither his learning nor sublimity might at least copy his humility. But why, it is said, all this disturbance about a trifling deviation, where no moral evil can ensue ?—The tera rors of hell are sufficient whether they be infinite or not.—1 answer: why any deviation at all where the matter is allowed to be unimportant ? But is it indeed unimportant ? Is it nothing to spread a veil over the effulgence of truth? Is it nothing to resist the evidence of Holy Writ? Is it nothing to retrench God's awful declarations of vengeance; by expunging a large part of the damnatory clauses ? Is it nothing to desecrate our holy Church, by holding up her doctrines to contempt !-Nor can I allow that no moral evil will ensue: to the majority of mankind dread of pain is a more powerful motive than anticipation of happiness, and the rather as our conception of the former is the most perfect. To say that this is a slavish motive, is not true, and would matter little if it were-Suffice it for us, that it is such a motive as God himself has sanctioned; it would not have been supplied had it not been meant to operate. But by robbing future punishment of its Eternity, we deprive it of half its terrors, and leave it almost to the choice of the individual whether he will receive a given quantum of present good, for a proportionate ratio of future evil;-as if obedience were a matter of prudence only, and might be waived by those who will waive also its advantages. Judging only by my own feelings, I must consider the abridgment of this doctrine as highly dangerous to the general virtue of mankind. Even when clothed in all its terrors, the present glitter of pleasure or ambition often can obscure it; and we have little reason to think its effects too powerful, either in restricting our vicious or animat,
* The Pleasures of Memory.
ing our virtuous habits. Its effects must be greatly diminished by adopting the limitations proposed. If misery be considered as finite, hope cannot be extinguished; and while hope remains to cheer us, pain cannot be intolerable: but the mind shudders at the view of that vengeance which no ages shall exhaust, as the eye of the traveller amid the wilds of Arabia shrinks from the prospect of unlimited desolation,
ON THE SUPPOSED CONNECTION BETWEEN
RELIGION AND MELANCHOLY.
I am not about to assign any single cause to explain the phenomenon in question. Philosophy in all her branches has suffered too much already from our love of generalizing, which is in fact the love of system. This method, of reducing every appearance in the natural and moral world under a few general rules, is very agreeable to our indolence, but not quite as safe as it is pleasant. In the present case at least, I am satisfied that no single reason would be found satisfactory; though I hope it will appear upon inquiry, that most cases of religious melancholy may be sufficiently accounted for ; that they grow naturally out of the established order of things, and reflect not the slightest discredit on Christianity.
Before I enter on this inquiry, I must make a few preliminary remarks
1. Religious persons, (I mean, they who are indeed the children of God, who walk by faith and not by sight,) are by no means universally disposed to be melancholy. If a subject so indefinite could admit of computation, I doubt not but a large ma