Imagens da página

83. Among other differences which distinguish spirits from ordinary souls, some of which have already been indicated, there is also this: that souls in general are living mirrors or images of the universe of creatures; but spirits are, furthermore, images of Divinity itself, or of the Author of Nature, capable of cognizing the system of the universe, and of imitating something of it by architectonic experiments, each spirit being, as it were, a little divinity in its own department.

84. Hence spirits are able to enter into a kind of fellowship with God. In their view he is not merely what an inventor is to his machine (as God is in relation to other creatures), but also what a prince is to his subjects, and even what a father is to his children.

85. Whence it is easy to conclude that the assembly of all spirits must constitute the City of God, — that is to say, the most perfect state possible, under the most perfect of monarchs.

86. This City of God, this truly universal monarchy, is a moral world within the natural; and it is the most exalted and the most divine among the works of God. It is in this that the glory of God most truly consists, which glory would be wanting if his greatness and his goodness were not recognized and admired by spirits. It is in relation to this Divine City that he possesses, properly speaking, the attribute of goodness, whereas his wisdom and his power are everywhere manifest.

87. As we have established above, a perfect harmony between the two natural kingdoms, — the one of efficient causes, the other of final causes, — so it behooves us to notice here also a still further harmony between the physical kingdom of nature and the moral kingdom of grace, — that is to say, between God considered as the architect of the machine of the universe, and God considered as monarch of the divine City of Spirits.

88. This harmony makes all things conduce to grace by natural methods. This globe, for example, must be destroyed and repaired by natural means, at such seasons as the government of spirits may require, for the chastisement of some and the recompense of others.

89. We may say, furthermore, that God as architect contains entirely God as legislator, and that accordingly sins must carry their punishment with them in the order of nature, by virtue even of the mechanical structure of things, and that good deeds in like manner will bring their recompense, through their connection with bodies, although this cannot, and ought not always to, take place on the spot.

90. Finally, under this perfect government there will be no good deed without its recompense, and no evil deed without its punishment; and all must redound to the advantage of the good — that is to say, of those who are not malecontents — in this great commonwealth, who confide in Providence after having done their duty, and who worthily love and imitate the Author of all good, pleasing themselves with the contemplation of his perfections, following the nature of pure and genuine Love, which makes us blest in the happiness of the loved. In this spirit, the wise and good labor for that which appears to be conformed to the divine will, presumptive or antecedent, contented the while with all that God brings to pass by his secret will, consequent and decisive, — knowing that if we were sufficiently acquainted with the order of the universe we should find that it surpasses all the wishes of the wisest, and that it could not be made better than it is, not only for all in general, but for ourselves in particular, if we are attached, as is fitting, to the Author of All, not only as the architect and efficient cause of our being, but also as our master and the final cause, who should be the whole aim of our volition, and who alone can make us blest.


'I WE number is small of writers in any line, notably in that of metaphysics, of whom it can be said that the intellectual status of their nation and mankind would be other than it is, had they never written. In this small number we must reckon Kant, who, with a mind incomparably more robust, has been to the nineteenth century what Descartes was to the seventeenth, and what Locke was to the eighteenth.

A tradition which, though vouched by no contemporary documents, has been commonly received, ascribes to Kant a Scotch descent. The professor is said to have been the first who altered the spelling of the name from C to K. Those who are curious in the matter of national traits may please themselves with finding the source of the critical philosophy in the dialectic proclivities of the Scottish blood, as witnessed in Duns, the subtlest of the schoolmen, and Hume, the subtlest of sceptics.

Immanuel Kant was born at Konigsberg, a university city in East Prussia, on April 22, 1724. Pious parents — the father a saddler by trade — intended their boy for the service of the Church. With this destination in view he was sent to the Collegium Fridericianum,.a preparatory school, and afterwards matriculated as a student of theology in the university. He is said to have preached a few times in the churches of the neighboring villages; but an early developed habit of independent thought and a craving for intellectual freedom repudiated the mental and ecclesiastical conditions of the clerical office as he found it. The pietism which then prevailed, and in the spirit and fashion of which he had been educated, both at home and at school, — pietism as distinguished from piety, — found no response in his nature; and when the alternative presented itself of the church and spiritual bondage on the one hand, or a secular calling with freedom of thought on the other, he could not hesitate between the two. The stern conscientiousness which that very pietism and his strict bringing up had nurtured in him, sanctioned the choice of the secular way. He devoted himself to the business of teaching and of authorship. He was thoroughly equipped and furnished for his work. The years of preparation in school and university had been profitably spent. In the Fridericianum he had not only acquired a perfect mastery of the Latin, in which several of his treatises

« AnteriorContinuar »