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sufficient, or, it may be redundant and compelling. This latter degree of evidence, as the very term implies, is such as to compel my assent; it is impossible for me not to believe, and my belief can of course be attended with no merit. To believe upon defective, that is without sufficient evidence, is an act of credulity, which is always a blame-worthy state of mind; and to refuse my assent, because the evidence is defective, is always more or less ineritorious, or, at least, it can never deserve blame. To believe when the evidence is sufficient, but not compelling, is my duty; and if I do not believe, when urged by sufficient evidence, the defect is in myself; I am guilty of unbelief.
In the case before us, the disciples refused their assent to the fact of Christ's resurrection. The evidence they had, was, therefore, not compelling; for, otherwise, they must have believed the fact. But neither was it defective; for had that been the case, their refusal to believe, instead of being blameworthy, had rather been meritorious. Hence it follows, that they had sufficient evidence, and that their crime, which consisted in refusing to believe that for which they had sufficient evidence, was unbelief. By that very name our Saviour calls it :-He upbraided " them for their unbelief.” Hence, unbelief, which in Scripture is always spoken of as a sin, is that state of heart and mind, which leads a man to refuse his assent to a fact, for the truth of which he has sufficient evidence. But, since whatever deserves blame, is only so far blameworthy, as it proceeds from the heart, it follows, that unbelief, by which we mean the disbelief of any fact for which there is sufficient evidence, must depend upon the heart; and therefore, that faith in general, is either altogether ani act of the heart, or that, being of a mixed nature, and depending in part upon other powers of the soul, it is capable of being so influenced by the heart, as to be rendered praise-worthy. But if faith were altogether an act of the heart, it could never, in point of morality, be of an indifferent nature. Faith would always, and without exception, be praise-worthy, and its contrary always worthy of blame.
It has however appeared, that there is a case in which, on the contrary, faith is blame-worthy, and to disbelieve may be meritorious; viz. when the evidence for any supposed fact is insufficient. And there is likewise a case, in which faith being unavoidable, deserves neither blame nor praise. Hence we gather, that the act of faith does not proceed altogether from the heart, but that it is only capable of being influenced by it.
The farther prosecution of this subject will lead us to some rather curious, and very interesting results.
VOL. IV. N. S.
We have already seen, that for every fact, really such, there is a certain quantum of evidence which is just sufficient for belief, and which therefore ought to command our assent. But we have likewise seen, in a remarkable instance, that the assent which ought thus to follow, is, notwithstanding, sometimes withheld. Here, then, arises a very important and somewhat curious question: What is it that constitutes 'evidence sufficient? To this question the only satisfactory answer that can be.given is the following: That is sufficient evidence, which would have commanded the assent of man, supposing he were still altogether the creature whom God could regard with approbation. 'God gave to man at his creation, a right heart, as well as a sufficient understanding. But when the heart, which is the most important part of the human frame, is no longer such as it should be, the same powers of understanding will, 'in certain cases, no longer produce the same effects. God, however, continues to judge of human conduct, according to his original design with him. In his righteous judgements no allowance is made for a change of heart, which God never intended, and of which therefore he cannot approve. And Jesus, who was a perfect man, having his own heart exactly right, knew well, by his own consciousness, what evidence was sufficient for belief, and could consequently clearly discern the most minute bias of a false heart in others.
It is easy to perceive in extreme cases, that it is self-love or self-interest, by which the heart is so biassed as not to receive the due impression from just evidence. From this obvious circumstance, some philosophers have too hastily inferred, that the proper state for the accurate discrimination of truth, is a state of absolute indifference. "This, 'however, is a great mistake, as will be evident to every inan upon mature reflection. A partial interest, we find, misleads, us; and indifference, we know, is without all partiality. All this is very true: but is indifference the only state, which is free from partiality? Certainly not. A deep, but universally diffused and equable interest, is likewise devoid of partiality; and it is this equable interest, not indifference, which constitutes the proper state, for admitting the just evidence of truth. It is of the nature of indifference to be unconcerned, not only where truth lies, but whether it he discoverable or not, and even to doubt whether it exist at all. Its language is, What is truth !--that is, Who cares for it !- What philosophers call the love of truth, is, in fact, a state of heart divested of partiality, not by means of the coldness of indifference, but by means of an equably glowing ardour of interest, extending its influence in due proportion to every branch of universal being.
Our Saviour upbraided his disciples with their unbelief. But he did not stop there. He proceeded to point out to them the true source of their unbelief; and that not only in general, by referring it to the heart, but more particularly, by assigning that state of heart to which their unbelief was owing. He upbraided them with their hardness of heart. This hardness of heart then it was, which resisted the impression of sufficient evidence.
The expression, hardness of heart, partakes undoubtedly of the nature of metaphor, as must ever be the case with human language, when it aspires to delineate the functions of the soul. But, even the metaphorical expressions of Jesus, of Him, who knew what was in man, whose own workmanship the whole complicated human frame is,-of such a speaker, even the metaphorical expressions should justly command our highest respect. His own ideas on the subject could not but be at once true, accurate, and clear; and if he made use of metaphors, we may be certain, they were the most apposite that language could furnish.
Accordingly, in the present instance, the term hardness of heart will not easily mislead us, though it be merely figurative, because it brings us directly to the observation of fact. It is matter of observation, that of the different occurrences around us, some affect us more deeply than others. Some events hurry as it were past us, and leave scarce a memorial of them selves behind them; others, again, leave such permanent traces of their existence, as to influence our conduct through life. Of this fact we speak quite intelligibly, when we say, that things around us make different impressions upon us. Now, this inay be owing to the different nature of the things themselves. But we likewise remark, farther, that external appearances being exactly the same, one man is more affected by them, than another; the same man is more affected by the same circuinstances at one time, than at another. Here, the cause of diversity must be within the man; that which receives the influence of the external world within' him, must itself be capable of variation, or by an easy allusion to the impression made by hard substances when they are applied with some force to wax, or other similar yielding bodies, his heart is at one time softer than at another, or one man has a more tender heart than his neighbour.
The terms tenderness, and hardness of heart, are quite current in our daily conversation; it would therefore have been unnecessary to dwell so long on the subject, if the ordinary use of those phrases had coincided in meaning with the use of them by our Saviour, and the sacred writers. But we shall soon see how far this is from being the case.
But what we wish the reader just now to consider, is, the connexion of the state of heart so often mentioned, with thie effect of evidence in working conviction. That which leads the mind to give to evidence its full weight, is what we call interest. When any thing interests me, I grudge no pains, in determining concerning its truth. Now, this interest is an affection of the heart; and will be, cæteris paribus, as the degree of tenderness it possesses directly, or as its hardness inversely. Dr. Paley has justly observed, that a total want of interest, or, which is the same thing, contempt previous to examination, is the surest way to miss the discovery of all truth of which the evidence is not both obtrusive and compelling. • Again : It is an irregular or disproportionate interest, that is, an interest for one thing more than another, which interest is not founded in the real nature of those things, or in their relation to human nature, and to being in general; it is this disproportionate interest, which leads to the mistake of holding falsehood for truth. How this unequal interest stands related to hardness of heart, will be seen by and by. Here we will only remark, that this was the case of the disciples. There was in the breasts of those who had not yet seen Jesus, a selfish jealousy of those who bad already been favoured with a sight of him. This jealousy arose, as we shall see, from the hardness of their hearts, and so blinded their faculties, that they could not discern the truth, though presented to them with what even we may discover to be abundant evidence. .. We have already hinted, tbat what the Scriptures call ten derness of heart, is not the same as that which is usually so called. Whenever any human being is strongly affected by any thing that is not absolutely of a selfish nature, the world is ready to attribute it to tenderness of beart. Even crimes, according to this false, worldly estimate of character, may sometimes arise from this source of supposed tenderness. The Bible never uses the expression in any such sense. In the Scripture sense of the term, to he tender-hearted is always to be virtuously disposed. The expression always implies something praise-worthy. A tender heart uniformly signifies one with which God is well-pleased.“ It is painful to be obliged to quote, as a specimen of the false judgement of the world, on a subject so closely connected with religion, the language of so worthy and respectable a person as Dr. Robertson. But the more justly lie is esteemed on other accounts, the more needful it becomes, to point out clearly his erroneous judgement on this head; because there are no doubt numbers, by whom his authority would be deemed sufficient for the re, gulation, not of their opinions only, but also of their practice.
Every one is acquainted with Robertson's masterly account of the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots, with the leading circumstances of ber reign, as embellished in his eloquent narration, and with the general estimate he has given us of her character. With that truly classical work we are only so far concerned, as to remark, that in attempting to apologize in some measure, for the many false steps in the private conduct of Mary, he attributes them to a too great tenderness of heart. In his own words, they proceeded from a heart too tender. Had he called it a mis-placed tenderness, and spoken of hier conduct with a due degree of abhorrence, we should not have found fault with him for a phrase. Yet, surely, a state of heart, which could disregard every thing for the sake of a selfish connexion with a wicked wretch, which connexion originated in mutual lewdness, and was productive of the worst kinds of criminality; a state of heart, which, in the loose enjoyment, that was the only discoverable object of that connexion, could forget every duty of the Queen, the woman, and the Christian, deserves to be branded with some harsher epithet than that of tender. Where was her tenderness, when she could consent to blow up a sick husband with gunpowder; or, not to insist upon a fact which rests upon something short of absolute proof, where was her tenderness, when she could take into her bosom, and receive as a confidant, the very man to whom the public suspicion imputed the tragical end of her former husband; and this, while the mangled remains of her murdered lord were scarcely removed from her sight? If this be tenderness, what, we would fain be informed, is hardness of heart?
The truth of the matter is, the Scripture phrase, tenderness of heart, implies a tact not merely delicate, but also correct; it implies not sensibility only, but just sensibility; a sensibility which gives to Cæsar the feeling which is Cesar's, and to God, that which is God's. A partial, false tenderness, a tenderness, if we may use the expression, in one department of the heart only, would seem to be always connected with an increased hardness in others.
To anticipate somewhat of our final result, we have no hesitation in ascribing the scepticism both of Hume and Gibbon, to hardness of heart, in the Scripture sense of that expression; and that we are so far right, will appear clearly from a scrutiny into the general state of their feelings, as recorded in their lives ; à scrutiny, which it is by no means