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innocent, we find a description of it in one of Scott's romances, in which the heroine, "without being able to discover what was wrong either in the scenes of unusual luxury with which she was surrounded, or in the manner of her hostess," is said nevertheless to have felt "an instinctive apprehension that all was not right—a feeling in the human mind," the author proceeds to say, "allied perhaps to that sense of danger which animals exhibit when placed in the vicinity of the natural enemies of their race, and which makes birds cower when the hawk is in the air, and beasts tremble when the tiger is abroad in the desert." 1
A religious biography, lately published, affords us an instance of this spontaneous perception of truth in the province of revealed doctrine. "Her firm faith," says the Author of the Preface, "was so vivid in its character, that it was almost like an intuition of the entire prospect of revealed truth. Let an error against faith be concealed under expressions however abstruse, and her sure instinct found it out. I have tried this experiment repeatedly. She might not be able to separate the heresy by analysis, but she saw, and felt, and suffered from its presence.' 2
And so of the great fundamental truths of religion, natural and revealed, and as regards the mass of religious men: these truths, doubtless, may be proved and defended by an array of invincible logical arguments, but such is not commonly the method in which they make their way into our minds. The grounds, on which we hold the divine origin of the Church, and the previous truths which are taught us by nature-the being of a God, and the immortality of the soul-are felt by most men to
1 "Peveril of the Peak."
2 "Life of Mother Margaret M. Hallahan,” p. vii.
be recondite and impalpable, in proportion to their depth and reality. As we cannot see ourselves, so we cannot well see intellectual motives which are so intimately ours, and which spring up from the very constitution of our minds; and while we refuse to admit the notion that religion has not irrefragable arguments in its behalf, still the attempts to argue, in the case of an individual hic et nunc, will sometimes only confuse his apprehension of sacred objects, and subtracts from his devotion quite as much as it adds to his knowledge.
This is found in the case of other perceptions besides that of faith. It is the case of nature against art of course, if possible, nature and art should be combined, but sometimes they are incompatible. Thus, in the case of calculating boys, it is said, I know not with what truth, that to teach them the ordinary rules of arithmetic is to endanger or to destroy the extraordinary endowment. And men who have the gift of playing on an instrument by ear, are sometimes afraid to learn by rule, lest they should lose it.
There is an analogy, in this respect, between Ratiocination and Memory, though the latter may be exercised without antecedents or media, whereas the former requires them in its very idea. At the same time association has so much to do with memory, that we may not unfairly consider that memory, as well as reasoning, depends on certain conditions. Writing is a memoria technica, or logic of memory. Now it will be found, I think, that, indispensable as is the use of letters, still, in fact, we weaken our memory in proportion as we habituate ourselves to commit all that we wish to remember to memorandums. Of course, in proportion as our memory is weak or overburdened, and thereby treacherous, we cannot help ourselves; but in the case of men of strong memory, in any particular subject-matter, as in that of dates, all artificial
expedients, from the "Thirty days has September," &c., to the more formidable formulas in use, are as difficult and repulsive as the natural exercise of memory is healthy and easy to them; just as the clear-headed and practical reasoner, who sees conclusions at a glance, is uncomfortable under the drill of a logician, being oppressed and hampered, as David in Saul's armour, by what is intended to be a benefit.
I need not say more on this part of the subject. What is called reasoning is often only a peculiar and personal mode of abstraction, and so far, like memory, may be said to exist without antecedents. It is a power of looking at things in some particular aspect, and of determining their internal and external relations thereby. And according to the subtlety and versatility of their gift, are men able to read what comes before them justly, variously, and fruitfully. Hence, too, it is that in our intercourse with others, in business and family matters, social and political transactions, a word or an act on the part of another is sometimes a sudden revelation; light breaks in upon us, and our whole judgment of a course of events, or of an undertaking, is changed. We determine correctly, or otherwise, as it may be; but in either case, by a sense proper to ourselves, for another may see the objects which we are thus using, and give them quite a different interpretation, inasmuch as he abstracts another set of general notions from those same phenomena which present themselves to us. ("Ibid," p. 324.)
As even Saints may suffer from imaginations in which they have no part, so the shreds and tatters of former controversies, and the litter of an argumentative habit, may beset and obstruct the intellect-questions which have been solved without their solutions, chains of reasoning with missing links, difficulties which have their roots in the nature of things, and which are necessarily left behind in a philosophical enquiry because they cannot be removed, and which call for the exercise of good sense and for strength of will to put them down with a high hand, as irrational or preposterous. Whence comes evil? why are we created without our consent? how can the Supreme Being have no beginning? how can He need skill, if He is Omnipotent? if He is Omnipotent, why does He permit suffering? if He permits suffering, how is He all-loving? if He is all-loving, how can He be just? if He is infinite, what has He to do with the finite? how can the temporary be decisive of the eternal?-these, and a host of like questions, must arise in every thoughtful mind, and, after the best use of reason, must be deliberately put aside, as beyond reason, as (so to speak) no-thoroughfares, which, having no outlet themselves, have no legitimate power to divert us from the King's highway, and to hinder the direct course of religious enquiry from reaching its destination. A serious obstruction, however, they will be now and then to particular minds, enfeebling the faith which they cannot destroy-being parallel to the uncomfortable association with which we regard one whom we have fallen in with, acquaintance or stranger, arising from some chance word, look, or action of his which we have witnessed,
and which prejudices him in our imagination, though we are angry with ourselves that it should do so. ("Grammar of Assent," p. 210.)
THE LAWS OF THE MIND THE EXPRESSION OF THE DIVINE WILL.
As the structure of the universe speaks to us of Him who made it, so the laws of the mind are the expression, not of mere constituted order, but of His will. I should be bound by them even were they not His laws; but since one of their very functions is to tell me of Him, they throw a reflex light upon themselves, and, for resignation to my destiny, I substitute a cheerful concurrence in an over-ruling Providence. We may gladly welcome such difficulties as there are in our mental constitution, and in the inter-action of our faculties, if we are able to feel that He gave them to us, and He can overrule them for us. We may securely take them as they are, and use them as we find them. It is He who teaches us all knowledge; and the way by which we acquire it is His way. He varies that way according to the subject-matter; but whether He has set before us in our particular pursuit the way of observation or of experiment, of speculation or of research, of demonstration or of probability, whether we are enquiring into the system of the universe, or into the elements of matter and of life, or into the history of human society and past times, if we take the way proper to our subjectmatter, we have His blessing upon us, and shall find, besides abundant matter for mere opinion, the materials in due measure of proof and assent.