S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
There are three means of believing: by inspiration, by reason, and by custom. Christianity, which is the only rational institution, does yet admit none for its sons who do not believe by inspiration. Nor does it injure reason or custom, or debar them of their proper force: on the contrary, it directs us to open our minds by the proofs of the former, and to confirm our minds by the authority of the latter. But then it chiefly engages us to offer ourselves, with all humility, to the succours of inspired grace, which alone can produce the true and salutary effect.
There is a virtuous fear, which is the effect of faith; and there is a vicious fear, which is the product of doubt. The former leads to hope, as relying on God, in whom we believe; the latter inclines to despair, as not relying on God, in whom we do not believe. Persons of the one character fear to lose God; persons of the other character fear to find him.
What a chimera is man! what a confused chaos! what a subject of contradiction! a professed judge of all things, and yet a feeble worm of the earth! the great depository and guardian of truth, and yet a mere huddle of uncertainty! the glory and the scandal of the universe!
It is of dangerous consequence to represent to man how near he is to the level of beasts, without showing him at the same time his greatness. It is likewise dangerous to let him see his greatness without his meanness. It is more dangerous yet to leave him ignorant of either; but very beneficial that he should be made sensible of both.
Man is made for reflection; hence all his dignity and value. His dignity consists in the right direction of his mind, and the exercise of his intellect in the study of himself, his Author, and his end. But what is the mental occupation of the world at large? Never this; but diversion, wealth, fame, power; without regard to the essential duties of intellectual man. The human intellect is most admirable in its nature; it must have strange defects to make it despicable; and, in fact, it has so many and so great, as to be supremely contemptible. How great is it in itself, how mean in its corruptions! There is in man a continual conflict between his reason and his passions. He might enjoy tranquillity to a certain extent, were he mastered by either of these singly. If he had reason without passion, or passion without reason, he might have some degree of peace; but, possessing both, he is in a state of perpetual warfare: for peace with one is war with the other: he is divided against himself. If it be an unnatural blindness to live without inquiring into our true constitution and condition, it proves a hardness yet more dreadful to believe in God and live in sin.