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an author of some note, a professed Protestant Christian, has been heard to declare that he thonght very ill of any one who did so; 'unless it were,' he said, 'one man in a million,-some person of surpassing genius.' And this sentiment (which implies a total indifference to truth and falsehood) has been cited with approbation.

Some men, again, from supposing themselves to have found truth, take for granted that it was for truth they were seeking. But if we either care not to be lovers of Truth, or take for granted that we are such, without taking any pains to acquire the habit, it is not likely that we ever shall acquire it. Many objections have been urged against the very

effort to cultivate such a habit. One is, that we cannot be required to make Truth our main object, but happiness ; that our ultimate end is not the mere knowledge of what is true, but the attainment of what is good to ourselves and to others. But this, when urged as an objection to the maxim, that Truth should be sought for its own sake, is evidently founded on a mistake as to its meaning. It is evident, in the first place, that it does not mean the pursuit of all truth on all subjects. It would be ridiculous for a single individual to aim at universal knowledge, or even at the knowledge of all that is within the reach of the human faculties and worthy of human study. The question is respecting the pursuit of truth in each subject on which each person desires to make up his mind and form an opinion. And secondly, the purport of the maxim that in these points truth should be our object, is, that not mere barren kuowledge without practice—truth without any ulterior end, should be sought, but that truth should be sought and followed confidently, not in each instance, only so far as we perceive it to be expedient, and from motives of policy, but withi a full conviction both that it is, in the end, always expedient, with a view to the attainment of ulterior objects (no permanent advantage being attainable by departing from it), and also, that, even if some end, otherwise advantageous, could be promoted by such a departure, that alone would constitute it an evil;—that truth, in short, is in itself, independently of its results, preferable to error; that honesty claims a preference to deceit, even without taking into account its being the best policy.

Another objection, if it can be so called, is that a perfectly candid and unbiassed state of mind—a habit of judging in each case entirely according to the evidence-is unattainable. But the same may be said of every other virtue : a perfect regulation of any one of the human passions is probably not more attainable than perfect candour; but we are not therefore to give a loose to tlie passions: we are not to relax our efforts for the attainment of any virtue on the ground that, after all, we shall fall short of perfection.

Ano lier objection which has been urged is, that it is not even desirable, were it possible, to bring the mind into a state of perfectly unbiassed indifference, so as to weigh the evidence in each case with complete impartiality. This objection arises, I conceive, from an indistinct and confused notion of the sense of the terms employed. A candid and unbiassed state of mind, which is sometimes called indifference, or impartiality, i. e., of the judgment, does not imply an indifference of the will—an absence of all wish on either side, but merely an absence of all influence of the wishes in forming our decision,--all leaning of the judgment on the side of inclination,—all perversion of the evidence in consequence. That we should wish to find truth on one side rather than the other, is in many cases not only unavoidable, but commendable; but to think that true which we wish, without impartially weighing the evidence on both sides, is undeniably a folly, though a very common one. If a mode of effectual and speedy cure be proposed to a sick man, he cannot but wish that the result of his inquiries concerning it may be a wellgrounded conviction of the safety and efficacy of the remedy prescribed. It would be no mark of wisdom to be indifferent to the restoration of health; but if his wishes should lead him (as is frequently the case) to put implicit confidence in the remedy without any just grounds for it, he would deservedly be taxed with folly.

In like manner (to take the instance above alluded to), a good man will indeed wish to find the evidence of the Christian religion satisfactory, but will weigh the evidence the more carefully, on account of the importance of the question.

But indifference of the will and indifference of the judgment are two very distinct things that are often confounded. A conclusion may safely be adopted, though in accordance with inclination, provided it be not founded upon it. No doubt the judgment is often biassed by the inclinations; but it is possible,

and it should be our endeavour, to guard against this bias. And by the way, it is utterly a mistake to suppose that the bias is always in favour of the conclusion wished for; it is often in the contrary direction. There is in some minds an unreasonable doubt in cases where their wishes are strong—a morbid distrust of evidence which they are especially anxious to find conclusive. The proverbial expression of “too good news to be true' bears witness to the existence of this feeling. Each of us probably has a nature leaning towards one or the other (often towards both, at different times) of these infirmities;—the overestimate or under-estimate of the reasons in favour of a conclusion we earnestly desire to find true. Our aim should be, not to fly from one extreme to the other, but to avoid both, and to give a verdict according to the evidence, preserving the indifference of the judgment even when the will cannot, and indeed should not, be indifferent.

There are persons, again, who, in supposed compliance with the precept, 'Lean not to thine own understanding,' regard it as a duty to suppress all exercise of the intellectual powers, in every case where the feelings are at variance with the conclusions of reason. They deem it right to 'consult the heart more than the head;' that is, to surrender themselves, advisedly, to the bias of any prejudice that may happen to be present; thus deliberately, and on principle, burying in the earth the talent entrusted to them, and hiding under a bushel the candle that God has lighted up in the soul. But it is not necessary to dwell on such a case, both because it is not, I trust, a common one, and also because those who are so disposed are clearly beyond the reach of argument, since they think it wrong to listen to it.

It is not intended to recommend presumptuous inquiries into things beyond the reach of our faculties,-attempts to be wise above what is written,-or groundless confidence in the certainty of our conclusions; but unless reason be employed in ascertaining what doctrines are revealed, humility cannot be exercised in acquiescing in them; and there is surely at least as much presumption in measuring everything by our own feelings, fancies, and prejudices, as by our own reasonings. Such voluntary humiliation is a prostration, not of ourselres hefore God, but of one part of ourselves before another part,

and resembles the idolatry of the Israelites in the wilderness : • The people stripped themselves of their golden ornaments, and cast them into the fire, and there caine out this calt. We ought to remember that the disciples were led by the dictates of a sound understanding to say, 'No man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him; and thence to believe, and trust, and obey Jesus implicily; but that Peter was led by his heart (that is, his inclinations and prejudices) to say, "Be it far from thee, Lord! there shall no such thing happen unto thee.'

It is to be remembered also that the intellectual powers are sometimes pressed into the service, as it were, of the feelings, and that a man may be thus misled, in a great measure, through his own ingenuity. Depend on it,' said a shrewd observer, when inquired of, what was to be expected from a certain man who had been appointed to some high office, and of whose intelligence he thought more favourably than of his uprightness,—depend on it, he will never take any step that is bad, without having a very good reason to give for it. Now it is common to warn men—and they are generally ready enough to take the warning —against being thus misled by the ingenuity of another; but a person of more than ordinary learning and ability needs to be carefully on his guard against being misled by his own. Though conscious, perhaps, of his own power to dress up speciously a bad cause, or an extravagant and fanciful theory, he is conscious also of a corresponding power to distinguish sound reasoning from sophistry. But this will not avail to protect him from convincing himself by ingenious sophistry of his own, if he has allowed himself to adopt some conclusion which pleases his imagination, or favours some passion or self-interest. His own superior intelligence will then be, as I have said, pressed into the service of his inclinations. It is, indeed, no feeble blow that will suffice to destroy a giant; but if a giant resolves to commit suicide, it is a giant that deals the blow.

When, however, we have made up our minds as to the importance of seeking in every case for truth with an unprejudiced mind, the greatest difficulty still remains; which arises from the confidence we are apt to feel that we have already done this, and have sought for truth with success. For every one must of course be convinced of the truth of his own opinion, if it be


properly called his opinion; and yet the variety of men's opinions furnishes a proof how many must be mistaken. any one, then, would guard against mistake, as far as his intellectual faculties will allow, he must make it the first question in each, 'Is this true? It is not enough to believe what you maintain; you must maintain what you believe, and main:ain it because you believe it; and that, on the most careful and impartial view of the evidence on both sides. For any one may bring himself to believe almost anything that he is inclined to believe, and thinks it becoming or expedient to maintain. Some persons, accordingly, who describe themselves-in one sense, correctly—as following the dictates of conscience,' are doing so only in the same sense in which a person who is driving in a carriage may be said to follow his horses, which go in whatever direction he guides them. It is in a determination to obey the truth,' and to follow wherever she may lead, that the genuine love of truth consists; and this can be realized in practice only by postponing all other questions to that which ought ever to come foremost What is the truth? If this question be asked only in the second place, it is likely to receive

different answer from what it would if it had been asked in the first place. The minds of most men are preoccupied by some feeling or other which influences their judgment (either on the side of truth or of error, as it may happen) and enlists their learning and ability on the side, whatever it may be, which they are predisposed to adopt.

I shall merely enumerate a few of the most common of these feelings that present obstacles to the pursuit or propagation of truth:- Aversion to doubt-desire of a supposed happy medium—the love of system-the dread of the character of inconsistency—the love of novelty—the dread of innovationuudue deference to hunan authority—the love of approbation, and the dread of censure-regard to seeming expediency.

The greatest of all these obstacles to the habit of following truth is the last mentioned—the tendency to look, in the first instance, to the expedient. It is this principle that influences men to the reservation, or to the (so-called) development, but real depravation, of truth; and that leads to pious frauds in one or other of the two classes into which they naturally fall, of positive and negative—the one, the introduction and propagation

a very

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