Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

enough; and that polished periods and glittering - sentences flew over the heads of the common people, without any impression upon their hearts. Something might be necessary, he observed, to excite the affections of the common people, who were sunk in languor and lethargy, and therefore he supposed that the new concomitants of methodism might probably produce so desirable àn effect. The mind, like the body, he observed, delighted in change and novelty, and even in religion itself courted new appearances and modifications. Whatever might be thought of some methodist teachers, he said, he could scarcely doubt the sincerity of that man who travelled nine hundred miles in a month, and preached twelve times a week; for no adequate reward, merely temporal, could be given for such indefatigable labour. - Mr. Boswell once told him, that having objected to keeping company with a notorious infidel, a friend of his said to him, “I do not think that men who live laxly in the world, as you

and I do, can with propriety assume such an authority. Dr. Johnson may, who is uniformly. exemplary in his conduct. But it is not very consistent to shun an infidel to-day, and get drunk to morrow."-JOHNSON. “ Nay, Sir, this is sad reasoning Because a man cannot be

right in all things, is he to be right in nothing? Because a man sometimes gets drunk, is he therefore to steal? This doctrine would

very soon bring a man to the gallows."

After all, however, Mr. Boswell seems to think it a difficult question how far sincere Christians should associate with the avowed enemies of religion; for, in the first place, almost every man's mind may be more or less corrupted by evil communications;' secondly, the world may very naturally suppose that they are not really in earnest in religion, who can easily bear its opponents; and thirdly, if the profane find themselves quite well received by the pious, one of the checks upon an open declaration of their infidelity, and one of the probable chances of obliging them seriously to reflect, which their being shunned would do, is removed.

A gentleman one day said, that in his opinion the character of an infidel was more detestable than that of a man notoriously guilty of an atrocious crime. Another differed from him, because we are surer of the odiousness of the one, than of the error of the other.-Johnson. “Sir, I agree with bim; for the infidel would be guilty of any crirne, if he were inclined to it.”-A general Officer asked him, what he thought of the spirit. of infidelity, which was so prevalent.-J. “ Sir, this gloom of infidelity, I hope, is only a tran-.

sient cloud passing through the hemisphere, which will soon be dissipated, and the sun break forth with his usual splendour.”—“ You think then (said the General) that they will change their principles like their clothes.”—J. “Why, Sir, if they bestow no more thought on principles than on dress, it must be so." The General said, that “ a great part of the fashionable infidelity was owing to a desire of shewing courage. Men who have no opportunity of shewing it as to things in this life, take death and futurity as objects on which to display it."-J. " That is mighty foolish affectation. Fear is one of the passions of human nature, of which it is impossi. ble to divest it."

Mr. B. mentioned to Dr. Johnson, that David Hume's persisting in his infidelity when he was dying shocked him much.-JOHNSON.

" Why should it shock you, Sir? Hume owned he had never read the New Testament with attention. Here then was a man who had been at no pains to inquire into the truth of religion, and had continually turned his mind the other way. It was not to be expected that the prospect of death would alter his way of thinking, unless God. should send an angel to set him right.”—Mr. B. said, he had reason to believe that the thought of annihilation gave Hume no pain.-J. “ It was not so, Sir. He had a vanity in being thought

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

easy. It is more probable that he should assume an appearance of ease, than that 'so very improbable a thing should be, as a man not afraid of going (as, in spite of his delusive theory, he cannot be sure but he may go) into an unknown state, and not being uneasy at leaving all he knew. And you are to consider, that upon his own principle of annihilation he had no motive to speak the truth.”

At another time Mr. B. expressed a wish to have the arguments for Christianity always in readiness, that his religious faith might be as firm and clear as any proposition whatever, so that he need not be under the least uneasiness when it should be attacked. Johnson said, “Sir, you cannot answer all objections. You have demonstration for a First Cause: you see he must be good as well as powerful, because there is nothing to make him otherwise, and goodness of itself is preferable. Yet you have against this, what is very certain, the unhappiness of human life. This, however, gives us reason to hope for a future state of compensation, that there may be a perfect system. But of that we were not sure till we had a positive revelation."-" I told him (adds Mr. B.) that his Rasselas' had often made me unhappy; for it represented the misery of human life so well, and so convincingly to a thinking mind, that if at any time the

[ocr errors]

impression wore off, and I felt myself easy, I be-, gan to suspect some delusion.”

His profound adoration of the Great First Cause was such as to set him above that “ Philosophy and vain deceit,” with which men of narrower conceptions have been infected. He used strongly to maintain, that “ what is right is not so from any natural fitness, but because God. wills it to be right."

Of a gentleman who was mentioned, he said, ". I have not met with any man for a long time who has given me such general displeasure. He . is totally unfixed in bis principles, and wants to puzzle other people.”—Mr. B. said, his principles had been poisoned by a noted infidel writer; but that he was, nevertheless, a benevolent good man.Johnson. “We can have no dependance upon that instinctive, that consitutional goodness which is not founded upon principle. I grant you that such a man may be a very amiable member of society. I can conceive him placed in such a situation, that he is not much tempted to deviate from what is right; and as every man prefers virtue, when there is not some strong incitement to transgress its precepts, I can con-. ceive him doing nothing wrong.

But if such a man stood in need of money, I should not like to trust him ; and I should certainly not trust him with young ladies, , for there there is

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »