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energy of which the human heart was capable, praying, that is, with the total concentration of the faculties; and the great mass of worldly men and of learned men he pronounced absolutely incapable of prayer. Two years before his death he said, "Believe me, to pray with all your heart and strength, with the reason and the will, to believe vividly that God will listen to your voice through Christ, and verily do the thing He pleaseth thereupon,-this is the last, the greatest achievement of the Christian warfare upon earth. TEACH us to pray, O Lord." And then he burst into a flood of tears.
THE PHILOSOPHER FOLLOWED-AFTER MANY DAYS.
Mr Grove, in page 35 of his Address, says: "The fair question is, Does the newly-proposed view remove more difficulties, require fewer assumptions, and present more consistency with observed facts than that which it seeks to supersede? If so, the philosopher will adopt it, and the world will follow the philosopher-after many days."
This thought, which it is presumed will be accepted by all who are competent to form an opinion, provided a sufficiently comprehensive meaning is attached to the word Philosopher so as not to exclude the Theologian, was so beautifully expressed by Plato in one of his exquisite allegories, some two thousand years ago, that for the sake of the general reader, I will here reproduce it. "Let us figure to ourselves a number of persons chained from their birth in a subterranean cavern, with their backs to the entrance of the cavern, and a fire burning behind them, between which and the prisoners runs a roadway, flanked by a wall high enough to conceal the persons who pass along the road, while it allows the shadows of things. which they carry on their heads to be thrown by the fire on the wall of the cavern facing the prisoners, to whom
these shadows, and the voices of the carriers, will appear
ARE CHRISTIAN ETHICS AN ADVANCE ON ANCIENT ETHICS?
The foregoing free version of a part of the Platonic dialogue, brings me to the last remark, which I shall venture to make on the President's Address. In page 37 he says:"In Ethics we have scarcely, if at all, advanced beyond the highest intellects of Greece or Italy...." Certainly no clearer or truer view could be given of the tendency of the advancement of learning than the one put into the mouth of Socrates as quoted above. But is it true that no advance has been made in ethics since the days of Plato? These notes extend to so great a length that I shall confine myself to the following few and intentionally very brief remarks, or rather hints:
I. Deuteronomy was written a thousand years before the birth of Socrates; and a long line of inspired Hebrew poets had completed their prophecies before Aristotle even commenced his writings. Nevertheless I think the old Hebrew ethics will bear something more than a very favour
* Plato, Republic, Book VII.
able comparison with any system of moral philosophy that was ever debated within sight of the Acropolis, up to the day when Paul, at Athens, read the inscription "TO AN UNKNOWN GOD."
II. Are not the following ethical principles greatly in advance of the teachings of the highest intellects of Greece? Render to no man evil for evil*.
Love your enemies.
Honour all men.
All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave.Himself for it.
Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. And, until the Man of sorrows set the example, who had ever gone about "doing good"?
In contrast with these Christian maxims, may be placed the fact, that Plato extols the Athenians for their hatred of foreigners; Aristotle calls abstinence from the retaliation of evil, the mark of a slavish spirit‡; and it is well known how the disciple and biographer of Socrates reckons the infliction of injuries upon an enemy, among the most manly of the virtues§.
In what I have so far said, I have purposely confined myself to the Greek writer on Ethics. A very accomplished author||, while he agrees in the main with the above estimate of Plato and Aristotle, expresses the opinion that the case may be somewhat different with the Roman moralist Seneca. Mr Cope says that certain expressions such as 'Amicis jucundus, inimicis mitis et facilis.' 'Opem ferre
Compare this with Aristotle, Ethics, Book v. Chap. V., where he says: "for a man not to retaliate evil, appears to be slavishness of mind." The play upon the word Gratitude in the next clause, proves that the great ethical philosopher includes private retaliation, as well as public justice.
+ Menexenus, § 17. But see Whewell.
§ Xenophon, Anabasis.
Ethics, Chap. v. Book v.
|| A Review of Aristotle's Ethics, (Deighton, Bell, and Co., Cambridge), pp. 55, 56, by the Rev. E. M. Cope, Senior Fellow and Tutor of Trinity College.
etiam inimicis.' 'Vincit malos pertinax bonitas.' And especially 'Non est quod irascaris; ignosce illis, omnes insaniunt :' come so near to the Christian precepts, that in this case, at least, Christianity has nothing that can be called absolutely original, and has done little more than extend and enlarge moral conceptions, which had by one at least been previously entertained." Mr Cope adds that the expression, 'Sed non est quod irascaris, ignosce illis, omnes insaniunt' has been compared by M. Fleury with 'Father forgive them, they know not what they do' (!!). If the two expressions are in reality comparable, then I confess I am incapable of appreciating moral differences.
The reader will probably be as much amazed as I am if he will translate for himself the entire passage from Seneca, of which the quotation above forms a part: I will not venture on the English expression of certain of the clauses which in the original are painful: "Catoni populus Romanus præturam negavit, consulatum pernegavit. Ingrati publice sumus. se quisque interroget: nemo non aliquem queritur ingratum. atqui non potest fieri, ut omnes querantur, nisi querendum est de omnibus: omnes ergo ingrati sunt: [ingrati] tantum ? et cupidi omnes et maligni omnes et timidi omnes, illi in primis qui videntur audaces. adice, et ambitiosi omnes sunt et inpii omnes. Sed non est quod irascaris. ignosce illis: omnes insaniunt. Nolo te ad incerta revocare, ut dicam : vide quam ingrata sit juventus: quis non patri suo supremum diem, ut innocens sit, optat? ut moderatus sit, exspectat? ut pius, cogitat? Quotus quisque uxoris optimæ mortem timet, ut non et computet?" Sen. de Beneficiis, Lib. v. c. 17. Does this approach the Divine Morality of the Gospel? Is this the conception of Christian ethics? I, for one, could as easily acquiesce in the correctness of Mr Buckle's conception of the Pauline Epistles, when he writes, "that some of the most beautiful passages in the Apostolic writings are quotations from Pagan authors, is well known (?!!) to every scholar." !!
But in forming an estimate of the superiority of Chris
tian over Ancient Ethics, there are two circumstances to be borne in mind over and above the ethical principles themselves. First, it is a great peculiarity of Christianity, that it presents the model of a Life for the Christian's imitation. Secondly, it undertakes to provide a transforming power, whereby its precepts may be spontaneously obeyed. For in proportion. to the degree in which the Christian realizes his calling, he surrenders his will and his affections to a living Christ, ever present to his vision by the eye of faith; and hence not only are the unlovely passions and emotions of his natural heart subdued by the expulsive power of a new affection, but by virtue of the bond which unites himself to Christ, he becomes united to his fellow-Christians by the strongest of ties. Nay, this feeling, thus divinely inspired, is more comprehensive still; for, just as the well-instructed man sees in flowers, and shrubs, and trees, not the sickly, stunted vegetation, which may chance to be before him, but rather the luxuriance natural to them in a happier climate and a more congenial soil, so the Christian, by virtue of his faith, sees in every man, the man redeemed, he sees the Christ within the man; to him every man becomes a brother, and by an inborn principle, he becomes a law to himself, spontaneously rendering to no man evil for evil, loving his enemies, and honouring all men. Such are Christian ethics in their truth and purity. When the great Athenian moralist was forming his ideal state, he proposed, for all the ordinances and sanctions of religion, to refer to the Oracle at the Omphalos of the world*; to the Christian, that Omphalos is the CROSS OF CHRIST.
ON THE WORDS TRANSLATED FAITH' AND 'TRUST' IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.
In the Nottingham Sermon I have insisted on the identity of idea conveyed by the word Trust, in the Old
* Republic, Book IV.