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The evening before our friend left us, Coleridge had a long conversation with her on serious and religious subjects. Fearing, however, that he might not have been clearly understood, he the next morning brought down the following paper, written before he had retired to rest :
S. T. Coleridge's confession of belief, with respect to the true grounds of Christian morality, 1817.
"1. I sincerely profess the Christian faith, “ and regard the New Testament as containing “ all its articles, and I interpret the words not “ only in the obvious, but in the literal sense, un“ less where common reason, and the authority “ of the Church of England join in commanding “ them to be understood FIGURATIVELY: as for “ instance, “Herod is a Fox.'
66 2. Next to the Holy Scriptures, I revere the “ Liturgy, Articles, and Homilies of the Esta“blished Church, and hold the doctrines therein “ expressly contained.
“ 3. I reject as erroneous, and deprecate as “ most dangerous, the notion, that our feelings are " to be the ground and guide of our actions. I “ believe the feelings themselves to be among “ the things that are to be grounded and guided. “ The feelings are effects, not causes, a part of “ the instruments of action, but never can with“ out serious injury be perverted into the prin
“ciples of action. Under feelings, I include all “ that goes by the names of sentiment, sensibility, “ &c. &c. These, however pleasing, may be made " and often are made the instruments of vice and “ guilt, though under proper discipline, they are “ fitted to be both aids and ornaments of virtue. “ They are to virtue what beauty is to health.
“4. All men, the good as well as the bad, and “ the bad as well as the good, act with motives. “ But what is motive to one person is no motive " at all to another. The pomps and vanities of “ the world supply mighty motives to an ambi“ tious man; but are so far from being a motive “ to a humble Christian, that he rather wonders “ how they can be even a temptation to any man “ in his senses, who believes himself to have an “ immortal soul. Therefore that a title, or the “ power of gratifying sensual luxury, is the mo“ tive with which A. acts, and no motive at all " to B.--must arise from the different state of the “moral being in A. and in B.--consequently “ motives too, as well as feelings are effects; and “ they become causes only in a secondary or de“ rivative sense.
“5. Among the motives of a probationary Chris“ tian, the practical conviction that all his inten“ tional acts have consequences in a future state; " that as he sows here, he must reap hereafter; “ in plain words, that according as he does, or “ does not, avail himself of the light and helps
“ given by God through Christ, he must go either “ to heaven or hell; is the most impressive, were “it only from pity to his own soul, as an ever“ lasting sentient being.
“ 6. But that this is a motive, and the most “ impressive of motives to any given person, arises “ from, and supposes, a commencing state of re“ generation in that person's mind and heart. “ That therefore which constitutes a regenerate “ state is the true PRINCIPLE ON which, or with “ a view to which, actions, feelings, and motives " ought to be grounded.
“7. The different operations of this radical “principle, (which principle is called in Scrip“ ture sometimes faith, and in other places love,) “ I have been accustomed to call good impulses : “ because they are the powers that impel us to “ do what we ought to do.
“8. The impulses of a full grown Christian “ are-1. Love of God. ?. Love of our neigh“ bour for the love of God. 3. An undefiled “ conscience, which prizes above every compre6 hensible advantage that peace of God which " passeth all understanding.
“ 9. Every consideration, whether of hope or “ of fear, which is, and which is adopted by us, s poor imperfect creatures ! in our present state “ of probation, as MEANS of producing such im“pulses in our hearts, is so far a right and de“ sirable consideration. He that is weak must
“ take the medicine which is suitable to his “existing weakness; but then he ought to know “ that it is a medicine, the object of which is to “ remove the disease, not to feed and perpe“ tuate it.
“ 10. Lastly, I hold that there are two grievous “ mistakes,—both of which as extremes equally “ opposite to truth and the Gospel,—I equally “ reject and deprecate. The first is, that of Stoic 66 pride, which would snatch away his crutches “ from a curable cripple before he can walk with“out them. The second is, that of those worldly “and temporizing preachers, who would disguise “ from such a cripple the necessary truth that “ crutches are not legs, but only temporary aids “ and substitutes."
END OF VOL. I.
1. Whittingham, Tooks Court, Chancery Lane.
Page 34, note, for “German” read “ former.”
. for “mühige” read “thätige.” 35, note, for “superstition” read “superscription.” 36, last line, for “mirandula” read “ Mirandola.” 37, note, for “materilas” read “ materials.” 116, line 28, for “ idolocast” read “idoloclast.” 123, line 21, for “ in physiology” read “on physiology.” 169, line 17, for “ Hard kain” read “ Hard rain." 224, line 11, for “ I select the following" read “I have selected
the preceding.” 303, line 19, for “ Tasso” read “ Torso." 319, line 8, for “one” read “none.”