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Christian Self Consciousness.

Christian Self Consciousness.

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Genesis hi. 22.

and the lord god said, lieuold, the max is become as one of
is, to kxo\r good and eyil.


Genesis hi. 22.

and the lord god said, lieuold, the max is become as one of
is, to kxo\r good and eyil.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Nov 15, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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CHRISTIA SELF-COSCIOUSESS. BY JAMES MARTIEAU. Genesis hi. 22. and the lord god said, lieuold, the max is become as one of is, to kxo\r good and eyil. It is a favorite doctrine of one of the wisest thinkers of our day, that 'if Adam had remained in Paradise, there had been no anatonny, and no meta- physics.' In other words, it is only on the lapse from the state of health, that we iiiid we have a body ; and on the loss of innocence, that we become conscious of a soul. Disease and wrong are the awakers of our reflection ; they bring our outward pursuits to a pause, and force us to look within ; and the extent of our self-study and self-knowledge may be taken as a measure of the depth to which the poison of evil has penetrated into our frame. The man who, instead of being surrendered to spontane- ous action, voluntarily retires to think, has fallen sick, and can effect no more. The art which has recov- ered from its trance of inspiration and found out that it has rules, begins to manufacture and ceases to reate. The literature which directs itself to an end, and critically seeks the means, may yield the prodnce of ingenuity, but not the fruit of genius. The society which understands its own structure, talks of its 30 350 CHRISTIA SELI-COSCIOUS^'ESS. grievances, plumes itself on its achievements, and pre- scribes for its own case, is already in a state of in-
evitable decadence. And the religion which has begun to inquire^ to sift out its errors, and treasure up its truths, has lost its breath of healthy faith, and only gasps in death. With sighs and irresistible longings, does this noble writer look back upon imaginary ages of involuntary heroism, when the great and good knew not their greatness and good- ness, and genius was found which was a secret to itself, and men lived for God's sake, instead of for their own. Could he realize his dream of perfection, he would stock the world with activity, and fill it with men who know not what they do. This celebrated paradox could never occupy a mind like Mr. Carlyle's, did it not envelop an impor- tant and seasonable truth. But before we give our- selves up to the despondency it must inspire, it is as well to see whether there is no illusion in its sadness ; and whether its pathetic complaints may not even be turned, by an altered modulation, into a hymn of thanksgiving. To sigh after an unconscious life, — what is it but to protest against the very poiver of thought ? To think is not merely to have ideas, — to be the theatre across which images and emotions are marched ; — but to sit in the midst as master of one's concep- tions ; to detain them for audience, or dismiss them at a glance ; to organize them into coherence and di- rect them to an end. It implies at every step the me- mory and deliberate review of past states of mind, the voluntary estimate of them, and control over them. It is a royal act in which we possess the objects which engage us, and are not possessed by them. CHUISTIAX SELF-COSCIOUSESS. 351 It is an act of intense self-consciousness, whose whole
energy consists in this, that the mind is kindled by- seeing itself, as if the light were to become sensitive, and turn also to vision. Again, to sigh for an unconscious life, is to protest against Conscience. For what is this faculty but, as its name denotes, a knoiuledge with one^s self of the worth and excellence of the several principles of action by wdiich we are impelled ? Shall w^e desire to be impelled by them still, only remaining in the dark as to their value and our obligations ? — to be the creature of each, as its turn may come, without choice between the baser and the nobler, or percep- tion of difference between appetite and inspiration ? Duty implies, in every form, that a man is entrusted with himself; that he is expected to overlook and direct himself; to maintain therefore an open eye on the spiritual world within, and preserve throughout a sacred order. And once more, to pray for an unconscious life, is to desire an incapacity for Faith. For w4iat is faith, but trust in an Infinite and Holy One, of whom we could have no conception, if our aspirations did not transcend our realities; if the ideal faculty did not survey the actual and find it wanting? Our own spirit is the vestibule which we must enter, as threshold to the temple of the Eternal, and wherein alone we can catch any whisper from the Holy of Holies. A man who had never found his soul, could assuredly never see his God. Scarcely can we admit a theory to be true, which implies that Thought, Duty, Will, and Faith, are so many diseases in our constitution, over which it be- comes us to weep the tears of protestation. These, 352 CHRISTIA SELF-COSCIOUSESS.

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