Infomotions, Inc.Bishop Butler, an appreciation : with the best passages of his writings selected and arranged / by Alexander Whyte. / Whyte, Alexander, 1836-1921

Author: Whyte, Alexander, 1836-1921
Title: Bishop Butler, an appreciation : with the best passages of his writings selected and arranged / by Alexander Whyte.
Publisher: Edinburgh : Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier, 1903.
Tag(s): butler, joseph, 1692-1752; butler; angus; butler's best; best passages; sermons; oliphant anderson; passages; religion; appreciation
Contributor(s): Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.)
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 40,227 words (really short) Grade range: 13-16 (college) Readability score: 47 (average)
Identifier: a614326200whytuoft
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Discover what books you consider "great". Take the Great Books Survey.


an ^Appreciation 

with the best Wastages of fit: 
Writings selected and arranged by 

i //;'/:, hf-i-r ;/ 7 ';!-;vV 





an ^Appreciation 

-with the 'Best 'Passages of his 

Writings selected and arranged by 

^Alexander Whyte 


Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier 

Saint ^Mary Street^ Edinburgh^ and 

21 Paternoster Square^ London 



Edinburgh : T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to His Majc>ty 

To My Classes 


The Sample Passages selected out of Butler's Works have 
been indexed after Dr. Angus'* admirable edition of the 
* Analogy? the ' Dissertations? and the ' Sermons' The 
Religious Tract Society has done the students of our day an 
immense service in sending out Butler under such excellent 
editorship, and that, too, at such a cheap price. 





ON GOD' 91 




ON REASON / 110 


ON HABIT : 115 

ON PROBATION . . . . . . Il8 

ON THE PASSIONS . . . . . -131 









ON ILL-WILL " 1 60 













ON MISSIONS ' . .189 






ON DEATH .* 202 



PRAYERS . 221 



JOSEPH BUTLER had for his contemporaries 
John Locke, Isaac Newton, George Berkeley, 
William Law, Alexander Pope, John Wesley, 
Jonathan Edwards, Samuel Johnson, and many 
other well-known men. The Principia was 
published in 1687, the Essay Concerning Human 
Understanding in 1690, the Rolls Sermons in 
1726, the Serious Call in 1729, the Essay on 
Man in 1733, the Alciphron in 1733, the Analogy 
in 1736, the Religious Affections in 1746, the 
Freedom of the Will in 1754, the Dictionary in 
1755, an d tne Lives of the Poets in 1781. If 
Butler's lifetime was not the very greatest age 
of English literature, and philosophy, and re- 
ligion, it was still a great age, when these were 
the men whose names were in every mouth, 
and when these were the books that were in 
every reader's hand. 


14 Butler 

Butler quite excelled himself the very first 
time he put pen to paper. He never wrote 
anything again so astonishingly acute as was 
the short series of anonymous letters he 
addressed to Dr. Samuel Clarke on certain 
philosophical and theological positions of that 
eminent author. Butler tells us that the Being 
and the Nature of GOD had been his incessant 
study ever since he began to think at all. 
And that he had thought to some purpose on 
that supreme subject of thought, those able 
letters of his are the sufficient evidence. " A 
correspondence," says Professor Fraser in his 
Life of Berkeley, " unmatched in its kind in 
English philosophical literature." But it is 
not the acuteness of their dialectic, nor even 
the depth of their thought, that gives those 
early letters of Butler their lasting interest 
to us. It is much more the rare qualities 
of heart and character that shine out of every 
page of those modest letters that make 
Butler's admirers so to cherish his early 
correspondence with Clarke. 

Appreciation 15 

Butler has no biography. Butler's books 
are his whole biography. What Jowett so 
well says of Plato's writings may also be said 
of Butler's : " The progress of his writings is 
the history of his life. We have no other 
authentic life of him. His writings are the 
true self of the philosopher, stripped of the 
accidents of time and place." Butler's school- 
boy letters to Clarke are the best biography of 
his boyhood and youth, and his Rolls Sermons 
and his Analogy are the sum and substance of 
all his after days. The Preface to the second 
edition of his Rolls Sermons is, perhaps, on the 
whole, the most self-revealing and most char- 
acteristic piece of writing that ever proceeded 
from Butler's pen. " The Preface to the 
Sermons" says Maurice, " is the most impor- 
tant of all the documents we possess for the 
understanding of Butler's character." The 
famous Preface is full, I will not say of 
contempt, but of a certain saddened scorn at 
the generality of the readers of his day. 
Those are classical passages in which he takes 

16 Butler 

up the defence of his much-assailed manner of 
writing in his Rolls Sermons. Butler's really 
noble style is never seen to greater advantage 
than just in those two or three pages in which 
he defends his Rolls Sermons. All those men 
among ourselves who would write seriously, as 
well as all those who would read seriously, 
should lay to heart those warm and weighty 
pages of this great writer. And then, after 
his severe chastisement of the indolent and 
incapable readers of his day, Butler passes on 
to assist his really serious-minded readers by 
preparing for them a most masterly intro- 
duction to the fifteen sermons. When the 
famous Preface comes to a close with this 
valuable autobiographic paragraph : "It may 
be proper to advertise the reader that he is not 
to look for any particular reason for the choice 
of the greatest part of these discourses ; their 
being taken from amongst many others 
preached in the same place, through a course 
of eight years, being in a great measure 
accidental. Neither is he to expect any other 

Appreciation 17 

connection between them than that uniformity 
of thought and design which will always be 
found in the writings of the same person when 
he writes with simplicity and in earnest." 
With these simple and earnest words Butler 
winds up a piece of composition so charac- 
teristic of him, that we would not have wanted 
it for anything. Butler writes by far hist 
best, so far as style is concerned, when he isj 
smarting under a sense of injury. His resent- 
ment makes him strike with his pen in this 
Preface of his as with a sword. In these power- 
ful pages Butler turns and charges home on his 
idle-minded and fault-finding readers in a way 
that still reaches to many readers among our- 
selves. We all reel under Butler's blows as we 

read his retaliatory Preface to his Rolls Sermons. 


The three epoch-making sermons on Human 
Nature commence with a characteristically 
conducted examination as to what human 
nature really is ; of what several parts it is 

composed, and how those several parts are all 


i8 Butler 

constituted and constructed into human nature 
as we possess it and know it. And then from 
that, Butler proceeds to ask what it is for a 
man to " live according to his nature," as the 
Stoics always insisted that every man ought to 
live. Christian bishop as Butler was, it was 
true of him what Maurice says about Jonathan 
Edwards : " He was not afraid to agree with 
the Stoics when they were right. " Appropri- 
ating, therefore, the very words of those 
" ancient moralists," as he always calls them, 
Butler proceeds to explain and to enforce their 
teaching by showing that human nature is 
made up of its several appetites, passions, 
affections, and emotions, and that conscience 
sits as a sovereign and a judge over all these 
her subjects. And it is just in his discovery 
and exposition of this complex constitution 
of human nature ; and especially it is in his 
discovery and vindication of the supremacy of 
conscience, that Butler's services to philosophy, 
and to morals, and to religion, are so original and 
so immense. " In his three sermons on Human 

Appreciation 19 

Nature," says Dr. Eagar, " Butler dropped 
a plummet into depths before unsounded." 
"It may be stated, once for all," says Car- 
michael in his admirably annotated edition of 
the Rolls Sermons , " that to Butler belongs the 
merit of having first, as a scientific moralist, 
made the supremacy of conscience the subject 
of distinct and reflex cognition." And then, 
after characterising the ethical standards of 
Plato and Aristotle and Bentham and Hobbes, 
Carmichael goes on to say, " Butler would 
simply direct the enquirer to reverence his 
conscience, to respect its dictates, and to 
bring all his conduct before it as before a 
faculty from which there can be no appeal 
but to itself : that is to say, from its unil- 
lumined to its enlightened decision, to seek for 
that enlightenment, to wish for it, and in the 
consciousness of his countless secret faults and 
his unnumbered shortcomings, to pray for it, 
and to bow down, an humble, contrite penitent, 
before that God in whose sight even the 
heavens are not clean." 

20 Butler 

The law of conscience in the moral world is 
like nothing so much as the law of gravitation 
in the material world. And both those founda- 
tion laws of Almighty God were for the first 
time brought to light in the same generation : 
the one by Newton and the other by Butler. 
Newton made the most magnificent and the 
most fruitful of all physical discoveries, that 
every atom of matter in the material universe 
exercises a measurable influence on every other 
atom ; and that this law, which he named the 
law of gravitation, is absolutely universal and 
invariable in its operation. The smallest atom 
of red-hot lava at the heart of our own earth 
throwsoutan influenceof attraction that measur- 
ably afreets the remotest speck of star-dust 
on the outermost border of the unfathomable 
universe. And it was while the minds of men 
were so overawed and exalted with Newton's 
astounding discovery and with all that followed 
upon it, that Butler made his parallel discovery 
and demonstration of the law of conscience 
in the moral world. This law, namely, that 

Appreciation 21 

there is not an act that any man performs, nor 
a word that any man speaks, nor a thought in 
any man's mind, nor an affection in any man's 
heart, that is not all placed under the sceptre 
of his conscience. It is true, the nature of 
man in the present life is such, that the law of 
conscience suffers endless perturbations and 
suspensions, and sometimes what would seem 
to be reversals ; but so does the law of 
gravitation. And just as our ever-widening 
knowledge has proved the absolute univers- 
ality and inviolability of Newton's law, so 
will it be with Butler's law. Wait, says 
Butler, till you enter on the completing dis- 
pensation of things, and you will find that 
conscience has only handed over all her seem- 
ing defeats and reversals to the judgment and 
to the power of One who will sooner see 
heaven and earth perish than that one jot 
or tittle of His moral law shall be left un- 
vindicated and unexecuted. Both the law of 
gravitation and the law of conscience had been 
laid by Almighty God on nature and on man 

22 Butler 

from the beginning. But those two universally 
binding laws of God were never fully dis- 
covered nor finally demonstrated to the 
children of men till Newton and Butler were 
raised up to discover them and to demonstrate 
them. And that immense service, so far as 
the law of conscience is concerned, is performed 
by Butler in his three epoch-making sermons 
on Human Nature. The noble teaching of 
those three sermons has been so absorbed and 
assimilated into our best literature, that it is 
not very easy for us to go back to that age 
when Butler's doctrine of conscience could be 
called a new discovery, as Sir James Mackintosh 
so emphatically calls it. Dr. Newman, especially, 
has made Butler's teaching on the subject of 
conscience such a theme of his in a multitude of 
magnificent passages, that the supremacy, and 
the authority, and the anticipations, and the 
presages, of conscience are all familiar ideas to 
us, as well as daily experiences. Newman took 
up his great master's teaching on conscience, 
and brought to that teaching all his own so 

Appreciation 23 

captivating English style, and all his own so 
unequalled homiletical genius, in both of which 
gifts Butler was, comparatively speaking, so 
deficient. It is true that all the best literature, 
both ancient and modern, has always been full 
of the omnipresence, and the authority, and 
the presages, of conscience. But it was Butler 
who first established all that on a scientific and 
an unassailable basis ; till it almost seems as 
if very conscience herself holds the pen and 
mounts the pulpit in these three immortal 
sermons upon herself. 

Robert Hall on one occasion gave a young 
preacher a most impressive advice as to his 
frequently taking up particular parts of con- 
duct and character in his sermons. John 
Foster also, both by precept and example, 
often sets this duty before his ministerial 
readers. Butler was still but a young preacher 
when he delivered his extraordinarily original 
and pungent sermon on this particular part of 
conduct and character the government of the 

24 Butler 

tongue. Butler was still a young man, but 
there is a whole lifetime of observation and 
insight, I might almost say of suffering and 
exasperation, in that single sermon. No one 
ever reads that sermon, and of those who do 
read it, not one in ten pays any attention to it 
so as to apply it to himself. And thus the 
widespread mischief and misery go on, just as 
if that sermon had never been written. " The 
fault referred to, and the disposition supposed," 
says the preacher, " is not evil-speaking from 
malice, nor lying, nor bearing false witness for 
selfish ends. The thing here supposed is talk- 
ativeness/* Nothing seems to have worn out 
Butler like the incessant talking of the people 
round about him. After his death his enemies 
said that he had died a Papist. But that was 
only another instance of their irrepressible 
talkativeness. Butler did not die a Papist, 
but he would be tempted sometimes to think 
of entering the Carthusian Order so as to 
escape for ever from the tongues of continually 
talking men. Butler rode a little black pony, 

Appreciation 25 

and he always rode it as fast as it could carry 
him so his old parishioners used to tell. He 
rode fast, sometimes, to escape the crowds of 
beggars who continually infested him, and 
sometimes, as we are led to think, to escape 
the tongues of men who so continually tor- 
mented him. It has been said that there is a 
certain tinge of remorse in the style of Tacitus. 
And I never read Butler's sermon on the mis- 
government of the tongue without detecting in 
that sermon Butler's own bitter remorse for 
his misgovernment of his own tongue. No 
man ever speaks with such an intense bitterness 
as I taste in that sermon except when he speaks 
in remorse, and in self-resentment, and, as 
Butler says, with real self-dislike toward him- 
self. And then, lest some of his superficial 
readers should think that he is making far too 
much of a small matter, he has this observa- 
tion, that " the greatest evils in life have had 
their rise from somewhat which was thought 
of too little importance to be attended to." 
" There is, nor can be," says Mr. Gladstone, 

26 Butler 

"no superannuation in this sermon/' No: 
not so long as men and women are ruining 
themselves every day by talking continually, 
and by straining continually, as Butler has it, 
" to engage your attention : to take you up 
wholly for the present time : what reflections 
will be made afterwards is in truth the least 
of their thoughts." The son of Sirach is a 
classical author with Butler : " Honour and 
shame is in talk. A wise man will hold his 
tongue till he sees opportunity ; but a babbler 
and a fool will regard no time. He that useth 
many words will be abhorred ; and he that 
taketh to himself authority therein shall be 
hated. The tongue of a man is his fall." Let 
every man who has a tongue to govern read 
regularly, once every year, Butler's bitter ser- 
mon on that subject, and lay it to heart. 

" Balaam" and " David " are two tremendous 
sermons. " Good God, what inconsistency is 
here ! What fatality is here ! " Butler bursts 
out in a way most unusual with him. And 

Appreciation 27 

then he goes down to the darkest bottom of 

Balaam's heart, and of his hearer's heart, with 


the two-edged sword of the Spirit in his hand. 
Till Butler's Balaam is one of the most terrible 
pieces of conscience-searching invective in the 
English language. And then, David's self- 
partiality and self-deceit make the tenth 
sermon a companion sermon, quite worthy 
of the seventh sermon. Both those sermons 
must be read many times over before their 
tremendous power will be believed. " I am 
persuaded," says the preacher, " that a very 
great part of the wickedness of the world is, 
one way or other, owing to the self-partiality, 
self-flattery, and self-deceit, endeavoured here 
to be laid open and explained. Those who 
have taken notice that there is really such a 
thing, namely, plain falseness and insincerity 
in men with regard to themselves, will readily 
see the drift and design of these discourses. 
And nothing that I can add will explain the 
design of them to him who has not beforehand 
remarked at least somewhat of the character." 

28 Butler 

" Viewed in the light of the Gospel,'* says 
Carmichael, " this sermon is incomplete." 

"On Resentment" is a most enlightening and 
memorable sermon. " One point in Butler's 
account of resentment," says Dr. Whewell, 
" has been admired as happy and novel. I 
mean the distinction he draws between anger 
and settled resentment." And Whewell sums 
up Butler's doctrines on these subjects in these 
words : tc The distinction that Butler takes 
between sudden anger and settled resentment 
is of this kind. Sudden anger does not imply 
that we have wrong inflicted on us, resentment 
does. Sudden anger flashes up before we have 
time to reflect, and resists all violence and 
harm : resentment glows with a permanent 
heat against injury and injustice. Sudden 
anger is an instinct implanted for the pre- 
servation of the individual : resentment is a 
moral sentiment given for the repression of 
injustice, and the preservation of society. The 
former, we may add, belongs to animals as 

Appreciation 29 

as to men, the latter is peculiar to mankind." 
Let every hot-hearted, and every sullen-hearted, 
and every spiteful-hearted, man lay this sermon 
of Butler's to heart, and it will be a great 
assistance to him in his deliverance from his 
besetting sin. 

The sermon on the Forgiveness of Injuries 
is full of that moral and intellectual seed- 
sowing which is so characteristic of all Butler's 
best work, and which has made his writings 
so singularly fruitful to all his readers. And 
the same thing may be said about his two 
beautiful sermons on the Love of our Neigh- 
bour. It is in the second of those two sermons 
that this single seed is dropped which has 
raised such a harvest of thoughtfulness, and 
fellow-feeling, and brotherly love, in so many 
of Butler's readers. This single seed, that 
" we ourselves differ from other men just as 
much as they differ from us." The two 
sermons are summed up into this closing 
prayer : " O Almighty God, inspire us with 

30 Butler 

this divine principle of brotherly love. Kill 
in us all the seeds of envy and ill-will. And 
help us, by cultivating within ourselves the 
love of our neighbour, to improve in the love 
of Thee. Thou hast placed us in various 
kindreds, friendships, and relations, as the 
school of discipline for our affections. Help 
us, by the due exercise of all these, to im- 
prove to perfection, till all partial affection 
be lost in that entire universal one, and Thou, 
O God, shalt be all in all.'' 

In his two sermons on the Love of God, 
Butler touches by far his highest chord. 
There is the very thrill of David and Isaiah 
in those two sermons, if not of Paul and 
John. In the fourteenth Essay of his Hor<e 
Sabbatic*, Sir James Stephen says that the 
famous sermons on the Love of God are in 
his judgment not only the greatest of Butler's 
writings, but they are also the first to which 
a person who wishes to understand those 
writings as a whole should attend. I have 

Appreciation 31 

preferred to take Butler's own arrangement 
of his sermons, and to study them in the 
order in which he has placed them himself. 
I agree with Sir James Stephen that those 
two sermons are the greatest of Butler's writ- 
ings, and I return to them oftener than to any 
other of his writings, and always with the 
same result. So far as they go they are to 
me among the most conclusive and satisfying 
pieces of religious writing in the English 
language, and every serious student ought to 
return to those sermons till he has them, as 
we say, by heart. This is the characteristically 
quiet way in which Butler introduces us to 
those enthralling sermons : " There must be 
some movements of mind and heart which 
correspond to the divine perfection." It is from 
these few words that those truly magnificent 
sermons are developed and elaborated and 
reasoned out, and that with such depth and 
strength and opulence of thought, and with 
such masculine eloquence of style. In his ad- 
mirably annotated edition of the Rolls Sermons, 

32 Butler 

Carmichael has this introductory footnote 
to guide the student through those deep 
sermons : " Although the thirteenth and four- 
teenth sermons are included under the same 
head, the points of view are widely different. 
In the thirteenth sermon Butler treats of the 
love of God as an affection in the highest 
degree reasonable, alike from the constitution 
of man and the character of God. In the 
fourteenth sermon he considers the love of 
God as a principle which is influenced in its 
exercise by man's present condition, and is to 
be perfected in heaven." Butler is the least 
scriptural of all our great preachers, but for 
once he closes and crowns those two magnificent 
sermons with a long chain of scripture passages 
which gleam in Butler's somewhat sombre 
pages like a cluster of pearls. Such masterly 
sermons as these are, and coming to such a 
close, and approaching, as they sometimes do 
approach, to the very borders of becoming 
evangelical all this makes us wish that Butler 
had gone on to give himself up wholly to 

Appreciation 33 

apostolical and evangelical theology, instead 
of spending his great gifts on philosophical 
apologetics, however successfully and however 
fruitfully executed. As it is, those two truly 
superb sermons will always go with the reader 
of Butler to lighten up his path and to warm 
his heart as he toils on through the somewhat 
unsunned and severe spaces of the Analogy. 

Now, after saying all that, it is a strong 
thing to go on to say that as far as Butler's 
sermons on our love to God are concerned, 
the Son of God need never have come with 
His Father's message of love to us, nor need 
the New Testament Epistles ever have been 
written. The truth is, the very name of Him 
in whom God's love to us has been most fully 
manifested, and in whom our love to God is 
first kindled, is never mentioned by Butler in 
these two sermons. Literally, the name of 
our Lord occurs only once, and that once is in 
a quite incidental way, in the whole of these 
sermons. Now, very far be it from me to 
point that out in order to raise a prejudice 

34 Butler 

against Butler. My sole object in pointing 
out this distressing limitation and impoverish- 
ment of Butler's high argument is in order 
to forewarn the student not to expect what 
Butler's chosen and deliberate plan does not 
promise, or indeed permit. Butler has deter- 
mined to rest his whole argument with us on 
those deep and primeval foundations which 
are laid in the nature of God, and in the 
corresponding constitution of the mind and 
heart of man. " It cannot be denied " they 
are Butler's own words in his first sermon 
" that our being God's creatures, and virtue 
being the natural law we are born under, and 
the whole constitution of man being plainly 
adapted to it, are prior obligations to piety 
and virtue than the consideration that God 
sent His Son into the world to save it." 
Now, it is among those " prior obligations " 
that Butler's mind is most at home, and moves 
most easily. And it is on those " prior 
obligations" that he preaches with such in- 
comparable power. Whereas the New Testa- 

Appreciation 35 

ment, while taking its first stand on those same 
" prior obligations," goes on to bring forward 
still stronger obligations to piety and virtue. 
The God of redemption claims our love and 
our obedience on this supreme obligation, that 
He has purchased us to Himself at a great 
price, till we are no longer our own. Butler 
himself has taught us that new relations both 
demand and produce new affections and new 
duties. But in his present sermons he has 
left out the most heart-melting relations and 
affections of all ; that is to say, God's relations 
and affections to us in Jesus Christ, and our 
relations and affections back again in Jesus 
Christ to God. Had Butler but followed 
out his own teaching on relations and their 
resulting duties in these two sermons, what 
a magnificent service he would thereby have 
rendered to New Testament theology and 
morals, and to his New Testament readers. 
Carmichael, while warmly defending Butler 
from some philosophical censures of Mack- 
intosh, and Wardlaw, and Maurice, is himself 

36 Butler 

compelled to append this note of censure to 
these two sermons : "It will be a matter of 
surprise and regret to the Christian reader 
that, in the two sermons on the Love of God, 
the New Testament should have been almost 
completely ignored. It may indeed be urged 
that Butler was mainly concerned in establish- 
ing upon natural and metaphysical grounds, 
the reasonableness of our love of God. But 
this will scarcely justify the omission of all 
reference to truths, such, for example, as are 
contained in the words, Come unto Me, all ye 
that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will 
give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and 
learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in 
heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls." 
But the best explanation of this constant and 
distressing defect in Butler is supplied in this 
true distinction of Maurice : " Butler was a 
preacher professionally ; whereas he was by 
instinct and by character a philosopher." 

Hazlitt has finely said about Burke that the 

Appreciation 37 

only specimen of the great orator is all that 
he ever wrote. And the same thing may be 
said about Butler with even more truth and 
point. At the same time, if I were asked 
what, to my mind, is the best specimen of the 
real Butler, I would without hesitation say 
that it is his great sermon On The Ignorance 
of Man. Nowhere else, in such short space, 
do Butler's immense depth of mind ; his 
constitutional seriousness of mind, even to 
melancholy ; his humility and his wisdom, all 
come out, and all at their best, as in his great 
sermon On The Ignorance of Man. Socrates 
himself might have written the sermon On 
The Ignorance of Man. Only, by Butler's 
day the diameter of knowledge had been so 
extended that the corresponding circumference 
of ignorance was immensely enlarged beyond 
the realised ignorance of Socrates's day. 
" Creation is absolutely and entirely out of 
our depth and beyond the extent of our 
utmost reach. And yet it is as certain that 
God made the world, as it is certain that 

38 Butler 

effects must have a cause. It is indeed, in 
general, no more than effects that the most 
knowing are acquainted with ; for as for 
causes, the most knowing are as entirely in 
the dark as the most ignorant." And so 
of the government of the world. " Since 
the Divine Monarchy is a dominion unlimited 
in extent and everlasting in duration, it cannot 
but be absolutely beyond our comprehension." 
And Butler's deep heart reflects on all these 
things till he can only find adequate utterance 
for his heart in such prostrate and adoring 
passages as these : "Thy faithfulness, O Lord, 
reacheth unto the clouds : Thy righteous- 
ness standeth like the strong mountains : 
Thy judgments are like the great deep. O 
the depth of the riches both of the wisdom 
and the knowledge of God ! How unsearch- 
able are His judgments, and His ways past 
finding out ! " And, then, he would not be 
Butler if he did not read all that home 
to himself and to his hearers in some of the 
weightiest words that ever were written by 

Appreciation 39 

the pen of man. Dr. Angus well says that 
this sermon is one of the most impressive 
examples of Butler's wisdom. Altogether, 
the fifteen Rolls Sermons, if sometimes very 
" abstruse and difficult, or, if you please, 
obscure," as their author admits they are, will 
always be an epoch in the intellectual and 
moral life of the student who takes the trouble 
to master them. 

With that studied caprice which becomes so 
belittling to himself, and so wearisome to his 
most admiring readers, Matthew Arnold tells 
us that the most entirely satisfactory to him of 
all Butler's productions are the Six Sermons 
on Public Occasions. Arnold is alone in that 
satisfaction, as he so ostentatiously advertises 
himself to be. The Six Sermons are very able 
sermons, and they are all sermons that Butler 
alone in that day could have written. But 
there is one sermon among them that I could 
wish for the honour of his good name that 
Butler had never written : his sermon preached 
before the House of Lords on " The martyr- 

40 Butler 

dom of King Charles the First." This sermon 
is as unworthy of Butler as the Gowrie series 
are unworthy of Andrewes. Both those great 
and good men still remained men enough to 
suffer both their pulpits to be tuned on 
occasion, and by the same finger. 

COURSE OF NATURE, is the full title of 
Butler's second great work. " Others," says 
Southey in his famous epitaph on Butler, 
"had established the historical and prophetical 
grounds of the Christian religion, as also that 
sure testimony to its truth which is found in 
its perfect adaptation to the heart of man. 
But it was reserved for Butler to develop its 
analogy to the constitution and the course of 
nature. And, laying its strong foundations in 
the depth of that argument, there to construct 
another and an irrefragable proof. Thus 
rendering philosophy subservient to faith ; and 

Appreciation 41 

finding in outward and visible things the type 
and the evidence of things within the veil." 
The angel's words to Adam in Paradise Lost 
will supply another remarkable illustration and 
enforcement of Butler's title-page 

" What surmounts the reach 
Of human sense I will delineate so 
By likening spiritual to corporal forms 
As may express them best, tho' what if Earth 
Be but the shadow of" Heaven, and things therein 
l\u h to other like, more than on earth is thought?" 

The Apostle's words also in his Epistle to 
the Romans might very well have been taken 
for a motto to the Analogy : c< For the in- 
visible things of Him from the creation of the 
world are clearly seen, being understood by 
the things that are made, even His eternal 
power and Godhead, so that they are without 
excuse." " All things are double, one against 
another," says one of Butlers favourite 
authors. And, then, the real design of the 
Analogy^ as Butler himself explains to us, is 
not, as so many have assumed, to vindicate 
the character of God, but to show the obliga- 

42 Butler 

tions of men : it is not to justify God's 
providences toward us, but to show us what 
belongs to us to do under His providence. 

When the studious reader of the Rolls 
Sermons opens the Analogy , he has not gone far 
into that deep book till he begins to discover 
the presence of the Rolls preacher in the 
person of the philosopher. The same qualities 
of mind, and heart, and character, that so 
signalised the preacher come out conspicuously 
in the apologist also. The same profound 
thoughtfulness at once comes out, the same 
deep seriousness, the same sober-mindedness, 
the same intellectual and moral humility, the 
same scrupulous truthfulness, the same fairness 
to opponents, the same immediate and un- 
questioning submission to the will of God, 
and the same subordination of everything to 
the sovereignty of conscience : all these char- 
acteristic qualities so come out both in the 
Sermons and in the Analogy, that if both these 
books had been anonymous, every capable 

Appreciation 43 

reader would have set them down with abso- 
lute certainty to the same author. And this 
is just what Butler starts his great work by 
saying about Nature and Revelation ; and he 
repeats it and proves it till he claims at the 
end of his high argument to have as good as 
demonstrated to every willing and receptive 
reader that the Author of Nature is also the 
Author of Revelation. Butler is the most 
modest of controversialists ; but as he closes 
his Analogy he is bold to claim that he has shut 
all serious-minded men up to the beliefs, and 
to the comforts, and to the duties, and to the 
hopes, that all arise out of Revelation. The 
amazingly close analogy that subsists between 
natural and revealed religion and the constitu- 
tion and course of nature is Butler's great 
argument, but no mere description of his 
argument, however true and however exact, 
and no epitome of it, not even his own masterly 
epitome of it, can convey any conception of 
the wealth of thought that goes to establish his 
argument, or of the enlarging and enriching of 

44 Butler 

mind that comes to the reader as he accom- 
panies Butler through his magnificent apology. 
Till, such is his own experience, that the 
reader ceases to wonder at the extraordinary 
acknowledgments of indebtedness that he finds 
paid to Butler on all hands. " Bishop Butler," 
wrote Mr. Gladstone in 1873, "taught me 
forty-five years ago to suspend my judgment 
on things I knew I did not understand. Even 
with his aid I may often have been wrong ; 
without him I think I should never have 
been right. And oh ! that this age knew the 
treasure it possesses in him, and neglects." 
" I have derived greater aid from the views 
and reasonings of Bishop Butler," says Dr. 
Chalmers, " than I have been able to find 
besides in the whole range of our extant author- 
ship. It was Butler who made me a Christian," 
says that great man and true Christian. True 
as I believe all that to be, at the same 
time I entirely agree with what Maurice says 
in his admirable remarks on the Analogy. 
" Butler," says Maurice, " is such a great and 

Appreciation 45 

generative thinker, that his hints are often far 
more to us than even his conclusions." Now, 
that has been the case most emphatically with 
myself. I have almost lost myself sometimes 
in travelling on to Butler's conclusions. But 
it has been the hints of things, and the seeds 
of thought, that Butler has dropped into my 
mind as I walked with him it is this that 
makes me to continue to walk with him and 
to keep so close beside him. Dean Church 
also has given eloquent expression to my own 
feelings as a student of Butler. " Even if a 
person cannot thoroughly master the argu- 
ment, yet the tone and the spirit of the book, 
and its whole manner of looking at things, is 
so remarkable, is so high, so original, so pure 
and so calmly earnest, that great interest may 
be taken in Butler's book, and an infinite 
amount of good may be got out of it even by 
those who are baffled by its difficult argument." 
And again, " there is as much to be learned 
from Butler's tone and manner as there is from 
the substance of his reasonings." 

46 Butler 

LIFE." This famous proposition of Butler's 
contains the essence of his extraordinarily able 
Introduction to the Analogy. And to master 
Butler*s great doctrine of probability is the 
student's first palaestra-like encounter with 
Butler, of which encounter Mr. Gladstone writes 
so impressively and so eloquently. Multitudes 
of new beginners have been turned away from 
Butler by the difficulty they experienced in 
mastering his opening pages. But had they 
persevered ; had they tried the Introduction 
again and again, and had they been encouraged 
to go on into the body of the book even 
though they had not yet taken full possession 
of its opening pages, they would have got such 
pleasure and such profit in the body of the 
book that they would have returned to the 
Introduction somewhat accustomed to Butler's 
difficult style, and would thus have more easily 
mastered his fundamental principles. What 
both Maurice and Church say so well about 
the difficulty of Butler's writings, and at the 

Appreciation 47 

same time about his many ways of rewarding 
his persevering readers, should be kept con- 
tinually before all new beginners in this great 
intellectual arena. As also this that Dr. 
Bernard says on this subject: " It is conduct, 
not conviction, that Butler has in his mind 
throughout." And so true is it that proba- 
bility is the guide of life and conduct, that 
there will be seasons with the most experienced 
and the most assured of Christian men when 
difficulties, both speculative and experimental, 
will so beset them that they will be fain to fall 
back upon Butler's great law of probability. 
And if they are happy enough to be students 
of Butler and followers of his, they will often be 
inexpressibly thankful to him for what he has 
said with such power and such persuasiveness as 
to the wisdom and the duty of our acting often- 
times on a bare probability in the absence of 
demonstrative proof and full assurance. A 
proof and an assurance that we cannot possibly 
have concerning the most important matters 
both of this life and the next. Do what your 

48 Butler 

conscience tells you to be your duty, even if it 
is only on probable evidence, and in doing so 
you will act according to the true nature of 
your own mind and heart, and according to 
the true nature of this whole economy in which 
God has placed you here, says Butler to his 
readers. And this is just his philosophical and 
apologetical way of adapting to us our Lord's 
own authoritative and assuring words : " If 
any man will do the will of God, he shall 
know the doctrine." And again, " If ye con- 
tinue in My word, then are ye My disciples 
indeed. And ye shall know the truth, and 
the truth shall make you free." 

" Death, that unknown event," never dies 
out of Butler's thoughts, and he never lets it 
die out of his reader's thoughts. Butler's 
whole life was, in Plato's words, one long 
meditation on death ; on our due preparation 
for death, on our due anticipation of death, on 
the real nature and exact experience of death 
when it comes to us, and on the nature of that 

Appreciation 49 

life which follows death. If I am to imagine 
other readers of Butler to be exercised under 
his arguments and conclusions as I am, the 
first chapter of the Analogy will give them not 
a few thoughts and feelings in connection with 
the great shock and alteration which they will 
undergo by death, thoughts and feelings which 
will never leave them. While it will lead them 
to dwell far more than they have hitherto dwelt 
on " that something in themselves which is quite 
out of the reach of the king of terrors." The 
whole argument of Butler's chapter on a future 
state may best be summed up in these words 
of the Apostle : " For which cause we faint 
not ; but though our outward man perish, yet 
the inward man is renewed day by day." And 
in these words of one of Butler's latest and 
best commentators : " The senses may grow 
weak ; but the man himself does not weaken 
in truth, in honesty, in uprightness, in 

In no part of his solemnising and overawing 

book does Butler more solemnise and overawe 



50 Butler 

his readers than in his chapter on probation. 
"The conception," says Canon Spooner, "which 
in these chapters Butler has elaborated, of our 
present life being a period of probation for a 
future state of existence, has probably affected 
English thought more than any other part of 
the Analogy.' 1 This life is not an end in 
itself and to itself; this life is meaningless 
and purposeless, it is a maze and a mystery, 
it is absolutely without explanation or justifica- 
tion to Butler unless it is the ordained entrance 
to another life which is to be the completion 
and the compensation of this life. But, then, 
grant that this present life is but the school- 
room and the practising-ground to another 
life, and what a grandeur straightway invests 
this life ! What a holy fear, and what a holy 
hope, thenceforward take possession of the 
heart of the probationer of immortality ! And 
then it is in working out his great argument of 
probation that Butler discovers to his readers 
the momentous part that the law of habit per- 
forms in the formation of character, and in the 

Appreciation 51 

successful or unsuccessful probation of every 
man who has another life before him. Next 
to his having made his great discovery con- 
cerning conscience, Butler has done nothing 
more important and more fruitful than his 
enunciation and illustration of the doctrine of 
habit. " This part of the chapter," says Canon 
Collins, " is mainly founded on Aristotle's 
ethical theory, and Butler's exposition of the 
growth and power of habit has been considered 
by many to be the most valuable part of the 
whole treatise." But Mr. Gladstone, always 
scrupulously jealous for Butler's honour, says, 
" Seminally, the declarations in the Ethics of 
Aristotle are of great weight. But the Greek 
writer does not enter on the field of self- 
education at all. The idea of mental habits is 
radically distinct in the two writers ; and the 
full development of the subject, with the great 
lessons it conveys, seems to be due to the 
thought of Butler." Some of Butler's most 
thought-laden passages are on this subject, and 
they are passages never to be forgotten by him 

52 Butler 

who has once read them and laid them to 

In the Second Part of the Analogy ', as in the 
First Part, it is the originality, and the depth, 
and the seriousness, and the suggestiveness, 
of Butler's incidental thoughts, occasional 
aphorisms, and solemnising reflections, that 
chiefly instruct and impress the reader. The 
great argument in itself does not in every part 
find and command the modern reader. But 
no reader with sufficient mind and heart, and, 
as Butler is always saying, with sufficient 
seriousness, can accompany Butler through his 
discussion of Revealed Religion without carry- 
ing away both enlightening and enriching for 
all his after days. Butler opens his Second 
Part with some great thoughts strikingly 
expressed on this thesis of his, that Revealed 
Religion is an authoritative republication of 
Natural Religion ; that the divine truths 
which had become dimmed and distorted in 
the blinded minds and the corrupted hearts 

Appreciation 53 

of fallen men, were kindled afresh, and 
were set forth in more than all their pristine 
authority and power, in Revelation. " Chris- 
tianity especially " they are Butler's own 
words u is a republication of Natural Religion. 
Christianity instructs mankind in the moral 
system of the world ; that it is the work of 
an infinitely perfect Being, and is under 
His government ; that virtue is His law ; 
and that He will finally judge mankind in 
righteousness, and render to all according to 
their works, in a future state. And, which is 
very material, Christianity teaches Natural 
Religion in its genuine simplicity ; free from 
those superstitions with which it was totally 
corrupted, and under which it was in a manner 
lost." But the religion of Jesus Christ, blessed 
be God, is a vast deal more, and a vast deal 
better, than a mere republication of Natural 
Religion. Holy Scripture sets forth an abso- 
lutely new departure that Almighty God has 
taken toward the children of men. In Natural 
Religion, God is revealed as the Maker, and 

54 Butler 

the Law-giver, and the Judge of men ; as our 
Father also, and our Friend. But how glorious 
His fatherhood is, and how blessed His friend- 
ship, the Gospel alone has revealed. Natural 
Religion in its highest and best dispensation 
might attain to tell us that God had sent forth 
His Logos-Son to create, and to enlighten, 
and to govern, and to judge the world. But 
no man ever read in the very best book of 
Natural Religion that God so loved the world 
as to make His Son to be sin for us, that we 
might be made the righteousness of God in Him. 
But instead of taking up and pursuing this line 
of thought, Butler turns immediately to quite 
another field of things in which he is much 
more at home. And he proceeds to draw out 
and to illustrate the striking contrast between 
what he calls moral and positive duties. No 
doubt the opportunities, if not the necessities, 
of his argument offered this field of reflection 
to Butler. But it is painfully characteristic of 
our author that he can always find plenty of 
room for purely ethical and logical discussions, 

Appreciation 55 

but keeps scrupulously close to his philosophical 
and analogical argument as often as he comes 
into the neighbourhood of apostolical and evan- 
gelical truth. " In reviewing this chapter," 
says Dr. Angus, " too much stress cannot be 
laid on the principle laid down by Dr. Chal- 
mers. Christianity is not only a republication 
of natural religion, with added truth, but the 
added truth is adapted to the condition in 
which natural religion leaves us. The first 
without the second, the republication without 
the remedial addition, would have been a 
message of terror and denunciation. It is the 
Gospel which reconciles all difficulties ; and 
which, besides adding the light of its own 
manifestation, resolves all the doubts and 
hushes all the fears which natural religion had 
awakened." At the same time, let us not be 
tempted to make little of the immense service 
Butler has done for us, because he has not per- 
formed for us the highest service of all. Let 
us not cast Butler to the moles and the bats 
because he is not able to give us all that we 

56 Butler 

demand of him. All the more since we have 
the full truth on this subject, and at this stage, 
in Chalmers and Angus and many others, in 
correction and in completion of Butler. Let 
us go on to study, with all due attention and 
profit, those remarkably suggestive chapters on 
moral and positive institutions and duties, 
thankful for the great services Butler here 
performs to us, instead of uselessly complaining 
because of the absence of services that, to his 
own impoverishment, he was not able to 

In these days, when so much attention is being 
given to the history of revelation that is to say 
to the sundry times and divers manners in which 
God spake unto the fathers by the prophets- 
Butler's two chapters on those sundry times 
and divers manners are intensely interesting 
and highly instructive. Butler alone could 
have written the chapter on our unfitness to 
sit in judgment as to when and how God 
would speak to the children of men. The 
whole argument at this point is most enlighten- 

Appreciation 57 

ing and most enlarging to the mind of the 
reader. And then, we come again and again 
on passages that would almost seem to have 
been written in anticipation of our own per- 
plexed and anxious day. Such passages as this : 
" Neither this obscurity, nor seeming inaccuracy 
of style, nor various readings, nor early disputes 
about the authors of particular parts, nor any 
other thing of the like kind, though they had 
been much more considerable than they are, 
could overthrow the authority of Scripture, 
unless the prophets, the apostles, or our Lord 
Himself had promised that the book contain- 
ing the Divine revelation should be secure 
from those things." Butler's whole discussion 
on Scripture is full of that sanity and sobriety 
of mind, and that deep and reverent wisdom, 
with which he has made us so familiar in all 
his previous writings. At the same time, it 
must be admitted that when Butler passes on 
from the defence of revelation to the exposi- 
tion of the contents and substance of revela- 
tion, he by no means shows the same qualities 

58 Butler 

of mind as heretofore, nor commands the same 
assent and admiration from all his readers as 
heretofore. All the remaining chapters of the 
Analogy are full of the finest thoughts, and 
the most fruitful suggestions ; but, as a whole, 
the remainder of the work falls very much 
below the high and adequate level of the First 
Part. Butler has no equal in his defence of 
the outworks of the Christian faith. But when 
he passes into the inner sanctuary itself, he no 
longer commands the same assent and admira- 
tion as he does among the defences. " Butler," 
says Chalmers, tf is like one who, with admir- 
able skill, lays down the distances and the 
directions of a land into which he has not 
travelled very far himself." " But," adds 
Chalmers, " without sitting in judgment on the 
personal religion of Butler, it is the part of the 
Christian world to own their deepest obligations 
to the man who has so nobly asserted the 
authority of the Word of God over all the 
darkling speculations of human fancy, and 
who has evinced to us, by the truest of all 

Appreciation 59 

philosophy, that we should cast down every 
lofty imagination and bring all our thoughts 
into the captivity of its obedience." Dr. John 
Cairns who, his biographer tells us, read the 
Analogy regularly once a year writing to his 
sister from Stanhope in the year 1873, savs : 
" Here, doubtless, the Analogy was finally 
thought out and adjusted to its present state. 
I had a specimen of the local humour when 
asking a young farmer what I should see from 
a distant point. His reply was, c a sight of fell, 
and the road.' It was only too true. For I 
had to labour on through the fell till at last the 
ocean rose upon the view. A sight of fell, but 
a road through it, and a grand outlook beyond, 
is not a bad image of Butler's work." 

The very title-page of Butler's great book 
shows the immense capaciousness of Butler's 
mind. The Constitution of Nature how vast 
a subject is that for a human mind to attempt 
to grasp ! And then, the Course of Nature 
how vast a subject is that also for a human 

60 Butler 

mind to attempt to trace and follow out ! 
And then to take up both Natural and Revealed 
Religion, and to lay both those great fields 
of Divine truth alongside of Nature, both in 
her constitution and her course all that was 
surely far too much for any created mind to 
undertake. And yet Butler was not only led 
to undertake all that, but was enabled to carry 
all that out in a way that has been the wonder 
and the praise of all his readers ever since. 
Never had a book, after the Bible itself, a 
more capacious title-page than the Analogy, and 
never had an uninspired book a more complete 
success in what it undertook. Butler has 
never had sitting at his feet a more capacious- 
minded scholar than Mr. Gladstone. And this 
is how that generous-hearted and grateful- 
hearted man speaks about the capacious mind 
of his master : " The argument of the Analogy 
is an argument perhaps even greater than 
Butler himself was aware. In opening up his 
argument, which in my judgment stands among 
the masterpieces of the human mind, Butler 

Appreciation 61 

has unfolded to us the entire method of God's 
dealings with His creatures; and in this way 
the argument which he offers us is as wide as 
those dealings themselves." And again : "It is 
Butler who, more than any other writer, opens 
to us the one all-pervading scheme upon which 
Almighty God deals with His creatures." 
And again : " Butler's method is so compre- 
hensive as to embrace every question belonging 
to the relations between the Deity and man." 
The truth is, very much what his great con- 
temporary Newton is in the material world 
that Butler is in the moral world. And more 
than once Butler as good as acknowledges the 
debt he owed to the discoveries of his great 
contemporary. Dr. Wace carries out the 
parallel between Newton and Butler in a very 
interesting and suggestive way in his lecture on 
Butler in Typical English Churchmen. 

In the matter of Butler's imagination I am 
not only alone against all the world, but also at 
first sight against Butler himself. For he never 

62 Butler 

once mentions the imagination without belittling 
it, and he more than once actually vilifies it, to 
use one of his own strong words about another 
great faculty of the human mind. And 
Bagehot's passages on this subject may be 
taken as only too good specimens of the way 
that Butler has been taken at his own unfor- 
tunate valuation in the matter of the imagina- 
tion. For that able essayist actually says, and 
says it with a great and a repeated emphasis, 
that Butler is wholly wanting in imagination, 
that he is wholly deficient in the visual faculty, 
that he is not able to picture particulars, and 
that no instances or illustrations occur in his 
writings. Able and authoritative as Bagehot 
is, I must be permitted to say that I cannot 
agree with him in ail that. I cannot agree 
with him that Butler does not see what he is 
writing about, and does not let his reader see 
what he is reading about. Butler does not 
indeed delay in his great task to expatiate 
pictorially on what he sees. He does not take 
time in his high argument to describe dramati- 

Appreciation 63 

cully and dilate eloquently on the vast visions 
that pass before his heaven-soaring mind. His 
imagination does not come out in purple 
patches on his pages. But if Butler had not 
himself seen the great things of nature, and of 
natural and revealed religion, with his own 
inward, and imaginative, and realising eye, he 
could never have made me see and realise them 
as I, for one, must always acknowledge and 
rejoice that he has done. " Of some assistance 
to apprehension/' is one of Butler's far too 
grudging, and far too ungrateful, references to 
a faculty of his own mind, which he employs 
continually to assist his own apprehension and 
that of his readers. Butler ought to have been 
as scrupulous not to vilify or undervalue 
imagination, as he is not to vilify or under- 
value reason, since imagination is the only 
faculty we possess in this life that can be to us 
the substance of things hoped for, and the 
evidence of things not seen. A service that 
both Butler and all his readers are continually 
receiving at the realising and illuminating hands 

64 Butler 

of the imagination. To me, at any rate, let 
Butler himself, and Bagehot, and all Butler's 
other critics, say what they will, Butler will 
always rank, if not with the great masters of 
the dramatic and pictorial imagination, such as 
Dante and Bunyan and Milton, yet with those 
other masterly minds, who by means of that 
same noble faculty, exercised in another way, 
have made me vividly realise what I had 
hitherto but vaguely heard of, and who have 
also made things to be present and impressive 
to me which had hitherto been so remote as 
to be all but unreal. "See !" exclaims Maurice, 
" how he throws in the length of the ages and 
the immensity of the universe." As often as 
Butler is brought to a standstill in his high 
argument till he again says to his reader 
suppose, suppose, suppose and he says that 
in some of his chapters in every second 
sentence Butler by saying that, and by the 
way he goes on to make his suppositions, 
summons all my imagination into his service, 
till his whole high argument is lighted up to 

Appreciation 65 

me from the one end of heaven to the other. 
And till ever after, the dry light of Butler's 
own reason is suffused and softened, and shed 
far and wide, as only the imagination could 
suffuse it, and soften it, and shed it abroad. 
The simple truth is, as Mr. Gladstone so 
regretfully points out, there is a serious con- 
fusion of language on Butler's part in all those 
passages in which he seems to us to vilify the 
imagination. For it is not against the im- 
agination proper that Butler is writing at all 
in those unfortunate and misleading passages, 
says Mr. Gladstone, but it is against " an un- 
bridled fancy, an intellectual caprice, and an ill- 
regulated judgment." All which things are as 
far as the poles asunder from the proper use of 
the imagination, that so superb faculty of the 
human mind. " The term imagination in 
Butler's pages," so Mr. Gladstone sums up, 
" would seem to be a misnomer." I will be bold 
to add, it not only seems to be a misnomer, but 
actually is such a fatal misnomer as to have 
misled many of Butler's readers, and drawn 

66 Butler 

them wholly away from the due recognition 
and the due appreciation of a divinely given 
faculty that as little deserves to be vilified as 
either the reason or the conscience themselves. 
Dean Church alone has done something like 
justice to this noble endowment of Butler's 
own mind. " That was the feature of Butler's 
mind," says the Dean in his brilliant lecture, 
" that he never lost hold on his high thoughts, 
and never let custom or any other thing close 
his eyes or raise a mist between him and them. 
It was his power, the greatest perhaps that 
he had, that what his reason told him was 
certain and true, he was able continually to see, 
and feel, and imagine to be true and real. He 
had the power of faith. " And again : " These 
touches of imagination and feeling come in the 
midst of austere argument or statement ; they 
come in naturally and unforced ; and they 
give us a momentary glimpse, the more 
interesting because rare, into the depths of a 
great mind." And again in what Mr. Glad- 
stone calls " that masterly sermon of Dean 

Appreciation 67 

Church," " there are passages in Butler, when 
we read between the lines of his words, that 
at first sight look so dry and commonplace, 
which seem to open a glimpse of the very 
foundations of the world and nature." And 
Professor Alexander Bain, in a striking passage 
in his Study of Character ', says on this same 
subject : "The many observations scattered over 
Butler's writings that have been esteemed for 
their profundity, owe their force to the flash of 
some hidden identity that gives a new aspect 
to an old problem. Remove from Butler's 
mind his foremost end, which is to obtain 
truth ; give him the local susceptibilities to 
colour and form, to words, cadence, and 
metre ; and the same reach of the identifying 
faculty would have emerged in a poet." 

It is a great lesson in English composition 
to read what has been written first and last 
about Butler's style. And the best thing that 
has ever been said on that subject was what 
Butler said himself. In the Preface to the 

68 Butler 

second edition of his Rolls Sermons he replied 
in these words to the fault that had been 
found with his style of writing, " It must 
be acknowledged that some of the following 
discourses are very abstruse and difficult ; or, 
if you please, obscure. But I must take leave 
to add that those alone are judges whether or 
no this is a fault who are judges whether or no 
and how far it might have been avoided. 
Those only who will be at the trouble to 
understand what is here said, and to see how 
far the things here insisted upon and not other 
things, might have been put in a plainer 
manner : which I am very far from asserting 
they could not. Confusion and perplexity 
in writing is indeed without excuse, because 
any one may, if he pleases, know whether he 
understands and sees through what he is 
about. And it is unpardonable for a man to 
lay his thoughts before others when he is 
conscious that he himself does not know 
whereabouts he is, or how the matter before 
him stands. It is coming abroad in disorder, 

Appreciation 69 

which he ought to be dissatisfied to find him- 
self in at home." And then at the end of 
his extraordinarily ably written preface he 
puts in this claim for himself, that at any rate 
he has written his sermons " with simplicity 
and earnestness of purpose." Take the follow- 
ing as so many most interesting specimens of 
the debate that has been held over Butler's 
style. John Byrom, stenographer and poet, 
and William Law's Boswell, has this in his 
Journal. " Some," says Byrom, " thought 
Butler a little too little vigorous, and wished 
he would have spoken more earnestly." Sir 
James Mackintosh, who averred that he owed 
all his philosophy to Butler, at the same time 
allows himself to call the Rolls Sermons " those 
deep and dark dissertations." And he goes 
on to say that " no thinker so great was ever 
so bad a writer." On the other hand, Bartlett, 
Butler's best biographer, has this on the 
matter in hand : " We have heard persons 
talk of the obscurity of Bishop Butler's style, 
and lament that his book was not rewritten 

70 Butler 

by some more luminous master of language. 
We have always suspected that such critics 
know very little about the Analogy. We 
would have no sacrilegious hand touch it. 
To touch it would be like officious meddling 
with a well-considered move at chess. The 
Analogy is a work carefully and closely packed 
up out of twenty years' hard thinking. It 
must have filled folios had its illustrious author 
taken less time to concoct it ; for never was 
there a stronger instance of the truth of the 
observation, that it requires far more time to 
make a small book than a large one." And 
further on he adds : " The style of Butler has, 
we think, been condemned undeservedly. It 
certainly is not formed to anything like 
Ciceronian harmony and elegance ; but it 
seldom offends the ear, or violates the purity 
of the English idiom.'' " After all," says 
Fitzgerald, one of Butler's best editors, " the 
faults of his style are greatly overstated by 
many of his critics. It may not be polished ; 
but it is good, plain, downright English, the 

Appreciation 71 

words are proper for his purpose, and they arc 
generally put in their proper places. Nay, 
though it would be absurd to claim for 
Butler's general style the artful simplicity of 
Addison's elegance, the brilliant perspicuity of 
Berkeley, or even the plain compactness of 
Swift, it is not too much to say that there 
occur, here and there, passages of pure, 
musical, Saxon-English that will not suffer 
from a comparison with any of those great 
models." "Butler's style," admits Dean 
Goulburn, " though it has a massive grandeur 
and solidity in it, is yet anything but attractive 
to the general reader." " Butler's words," 
says Maurice, " often become feeble and con- 
tradictory, because he cannot write what is 
struggling within him." "A great thinker, 
but a poor writer," says Bagehot. "It is 
probable, that if Butler hated anything, he 
hated his pen. Composition is pleasant work 
for men of ready words, fine ears, and thick- 
coming illustrations. But Butler, so far from 
having the pleasures of eloquence, had not 

72 Butler 

even the comfort of perspicuity. In some 
places the mode of statement is even stupid : 
it seems selected to occasion a difficulty.'* 
And then Bagehot sums up against Butler in 
these words : " No writer of equal eminence 
is so defective as Butler. His thoughts, if 
you take each one singly, seem to lose a good 
deal from the feeble and hesitating manner in 
which they are stated. And yet, if you read 
any considerable portion of his writings, you 
become sensible of a strong disinclination to 
disagree with him." And again, and much 
more generously in another book : " There 
was not a spark of the littleness of literary 
ambition about Butler. There is nothing 
light in Butler ; he leaves to others all 
amusing skirmishing and superficial writing. 
In Butler all is grave, serious, and essential. 
Nothing else would be characteristic of 
Butler." " The admirable arrangement of the 
Analogy" says Mark Pattison, " is all its 
own. Its closely packed and carefully fitted 
order speaks of many years' contrivance. Its 

Appreciation 73 

substance is the thought of a whole age, not 
barely compiled, but each separate thought 
reconsidered and digested. Every brick in 
the building has been rung before it was 
relaid, and replaced in its true relation to the 
complex and various whole." "The style of 
Butler/' says Mr. Gladstone, " has been made 
largely responsible for the difficulties of his 
subject, but those who might rewrite one of 
his pages would find it more difficult than they 
suppose to improve the style without im- 
pairing the substance." And in direct con- 
tradiction of one of Bagehot's charges against 
Butler's style, Mr. Gladstone proceeds : " In 
his illustrations Butler is particularly happy ; 
and upon the whole, in his case, and also 
in that of Aristotle, it may be said that the 
style and the substance cannot be parted." 
And then, if " a consciousness of what has 
preceded and what is to follow makes a 
perfect style," as Jowett in his introduction 
to the Laws says it does, then Butler's 
rank as a writer is secure. For never was 

74 Butler 

there a more regular plan laid down for 
any book, and never had any book more 
consciousness of what had preceded and 
what was to follow. Canon Spooner also, 
Butler's latest biographer, has this in his 
excellent little book : " Is the charge of 
obscurity that is brought against Butler well 
deserved ? On such a matter the reading 
public is the only judge. A writer whom 
most, even intelligent, readers find obscure, 
is obscure. Tried by this test, Butler will 
almost certainly stand convicted. But the 
obscurity that exists is not the obscurity of a 
loose and confused thinker. There was no- 
thing loose or confused in Butler's mind : quite 
the reverse. The difficulty of the style arises 
from the extreme closeness and continuity of 
the thoughts. Still more from the caution, 
many-sidedness, and conscientiousness of the 
writer which would leave no aspect of the 
question unprovided for, no possible objection 
which might be taken unmet, no necessary 
limitation unexpressed, no possible misunder- 

Appreciation 75 

standing of his meaning unguarded against. 
A man writing in such a spirit, particularly 
a man of Butler's anxious and even morbidly 
conscientious temperament, could scarcely attain 
to a facile and unlaboured style. Certainly 
Butler would have been less himself had his 
style been less laboured : with him even more 
than with most men, the style is the man." 

It is a study in literary criticism, as well as 
in style, to ponder these various opinions, and 
to consider them in relation to their respective 
authors, as well as in relation to Butler's style. 
It is an excellent exercise in criticism and in 
composition to watch in what, and how far, 
his critics coincide with one another, and to 
discover how they less, any single one of 
them, say the whole truth about Butler, than 
make each his own contribution to the whole 
truth. For myself, I will say in one word 
that the more I read Butler, and the better I 
understand him, the more I enjoy his peculiar 
style. His style is what it is, to employ one 
of his own repeated expressions, and I would 

76 Butler 

not have it other than it is. And I most 
heartily subscribe to what Bishop Steere says 
so well on this same subject : " In truth the 
greatest beauty in any author's style consists 
in its appropriateness to express his meaning. 
And thus it is that careful students of Butlers 
works generally come, in the end, to have a 
sort of relish for his peculiar style." I think 
that is a very happy expression of Steere's. 
" A sort of relish " exactly describes my own 
enjoyment of Butler's peculiar style. For 
there is a certain dry, nutty, oaten aroma that 
comes off Butler's page as I read it ; not only 
not disagreeable, but positively healing, and 
restoring, and strengthening. Till, what with 
his style and what with his substance, with all 
his limitations and they are neither few nor 
small Butler will always remain one of the 
few first-class authors in the whole world to 

Butler is universally acknowledged to be the 
most thoughtful of all our English theologians 

Appreciation 77 

aiul moralists. Many English theologians, and 
moralists, and preachers, could be named who 
far excelled Butler in other things. Many were 
more learned, many were more eloquent, many 
were far more scriptural, and consequently 
far more evangelical. But Butler stands 
alone in his own sheer power of thought, 
and in his amazing power of awakening 
thought in his readers. Hooker was far more 
learned and far more evangelical. Taylor was 
tar more oceanically read, and his eloquence 
was without parallel. Edwards's mind was 
far more powerful than Butler's mind was 
naturally, and it was simply seraphically sanc- 
tified. While the great Puritans far eclipsed 
Butler in the apostolicity and spirituality of 
their ministry. But for plunging his readers 
into the greatest depths of thought, Butler 
excels them all. Butler was like Pascal in 
this, that he was not at all a wide reader, but 
was one of the princeliest of thinkers. It was 
simply Butler's own thoughtfulness, and his 
power of producing thoughtfulness, that has 

78 Butler 

called forth such extraordinary appreciations 
and acknowledgments as these : " The most 
original and profound work extant in any 
language on the philosophy of religion," says 
Sir James Mackintosh. " I could not write 
on this or on any other kindred subject," says 
Bishop O'Brien, " without a consciousness that 
I was either directly or indirectly borrowing 
from Butler. " " I have derived greater aid 
from the views and reasonings of Butler/* says 
Dr. Chalmers, " than I have been able to find 
besides in the whole range of our extant 
authorship." " I am more indebted to Butler's 
writings than I am to any other uninspired 
author," says Bishop Kaye. " That great and 
generative thinker," says Maurice. " The 
greatest name," says Newman, "in the Anglican 
Church." And writing about books to a lady, 
Newman says : " I think you will gain great 
benefit on the whole subject of ethics and 
religion from Butler's Analogy. It is a very 
deep work, and while it requires, it will repay 
your attention." It is no detraction from 

Appreciation 79 

Newman's own great fertility of mind to say 
that the reader of Butler and of Newman 
continually comes on sentences, and clauses of 
sentences, in Butler that have been the seed of 
some of Newman's most famous sermons. 
And the same thing may be said of not a few 
of the sermons of Butler's philosophic and 
eloquent Irish namesake, as also of some of the 
best of Mozley's sermons, who has been called 
the Butler of the nineteenth century. One of 
the most original and impressive preachers I 
ever sat under, David White of Airlie, had 
Butler always on his desk beside his Bible, 
and had little else. Plato's discourses were 
so overladen with thought, that when he 
looked up after finishing one of the longest 
and deepest of them, all his audience had 
escaped : only Aristotle was left in the lecture- 
room. So Plutarch tells us. And I would 
not have wondered to have been told by 
Byrom that when Butler had finished some 
of his Rolls Sermons, there was no one left in 
the chapel but the Master of the Rolls and 

8o Butler 

William Law in for the forenoon from Putney. 
" The pain of attending " is one of Butler's 
own admissions about his sermons. But then, 
all the pain is well repaid. 

<c A more than ordinary depth of thought 
produces the melancholy temperament," says 
Jacob Behmen. And Butler's deep melancholy 
is one of his outstanding characteristics, both 
as a preacher and a philosopher. Passages 
like these occur continually in his writings. 
" The infinite disorders of this world." " This 
world is a mere scene of distraction." " In- 
stead of this world being what it was 
intended to be, a discipline of virtue, the 
generality of men make it a discipline of 
vice. It is a state of apostasy, wickedness, 
and ruin. Men are depraved creatures, who 
want to be renewed." " If the discoveries of 
men of research tend in any way to render 
life less unhappy than it is, then they are most 
usefully employed." Lamentations like these 
come out of the Sermons and out of the 

Appreciation 81 

continually, till to say Butler is to 
say melancholy. At the same time, Butler's 
melancholy is more a philosophical and a 
speculative melancholy than a religious and 
an experimental melancholy. There is a far 
deeper, a far more bitter, and a far more 
inconsolable, melancholy than is that melan- 
choly to which Butler, with all his depth of 
thought, has ever given voice. There is a 
cup, " bitterer to drink than blood," that 
Butler would seem scarcely ever to have tasted. 
So far as his Analogy ^ or his sermons, or even 
his prayers go, he would seem to have had 
little or no experimental acquaintance with the 
unspeakable melancholy of such spiritual men as 
Behmen, and Pascal, and Foster to keep to 
some of the men of deepest thought that have 
ever lived. It is always this fallen, and corrupt, 
and depraved world that is the source of 
Butler's melancholy. It is their own corrupt 
and depraved and hopeless hearts that is the 
source of the far deeper melancholy of such 

men as have been named above. Butler is a 


82 Butler 

great " melancholian," but, all the same, his 
great melancholy is but philosophical, and 
speculative, and economical : whereas the 
melancholy of Behmen, and Pascal, and Foster 
is spiritual, and personal, and experimental, 
and inconsolable. 

Under the head of his mental qualities 
Mr. Gladstone discusses Butler's measure, his 
strength of tissue, his courage, his questionable 
theses, his imagination, and his originality. 
All students of Butler should be sure not 
to miss what that great statesman has to say 
about the mental qualities of his revered master. 
Contenting myself with recommending Glad- 
stone's third volume to all students of Butler 
and I may add to all students of Gladstone 
himself I pass on to take some notice of what 
is by far the most serious complaint that has 
ever been made against Butler. That is to 
say, his extraordinary deficiency in apostolical 
and evangelical truth. Now, that complaint is 
so serious, and is so fundamental, that it must 

Appreciation 83 

be made by me in the words of one who 
had both the ability, and the courage, and 
the loyalty to truth, to make it. Dr. Chalmers 
shall speak for all those who agree with him in 
his immense regret concerning Butler's religion. 
Whether in praise or in blame of Butler, as I 
have already said, I like to read Dr. Chalmers 
above all Butler's other editors and com- 
mentators. There is nothing to my mind to 
compare with Chalmers's lectures on the 
'yg\. That great man is so reverential to 
Butler ; he is so full of noble acknowledgment 
of indebtedness to his great master ; and he is 
so eloquent and impressive in expounding him. 
Let Dr. Chalmers therefore speak on this dis- 
tressing subject. " We fear," says Chalmers 
in his fourth chapter, " that Butler here makes 
the first, though not the only, exhibition that 
occurs in his work, of his meagre and moderate 
theology. Sound as his general views were on 
what might be termed the philosophy of re- 
ligion, this formed no security against the 
errors of a lax and superficial creed on certain 

84 Butler 

of its specific doctrines." And again : " It 
were great and unwarrantable presumption to 
decide on the personal Christianity of Butler, 
but I think it but fair to warn you that up and 
down throughout the volume there do occur 
the symptoms of a heart not thoroughly evan- 
gelised." " I have already/' says Chalmers in 
another place, u given repeated intimation that, 
viewed as a Christian composition, I do not 
regard Butler's book as being sufficiently im- 
pregnated with the sal evangelicum^ and that 
even his own principles are not fully and 
practically carried out. Butler is like one who, 
with admirable skill, lays down the distances 
and the directions of a land into which he has 
not travelled very far himself." Let any 
careful student read Butler's Dissertation on 
the Nature of Virtue, and then let him read 
Jonathan Edwards's treatise on the same 
subject, and he will see for himself what it is 
that Dr. Chalmers complains of when he says 
that Butler is so afraid or so incapable of be- 
coming evangelical that he will not even follow 

Appreciation 85 

his own principles fully and practically out. 
Butler continually confines himself to the barely 
ethical, even when his subject claims to become 
spiritual. He will abide rigidly and severely 
philosophical even when, on every ground, he 
should rise to be apostolical and evangelical. 
But he never does so rise : never so much as 
once. And thus it is that there is a height and 
a depth, a fragrance, a sweetness, and a beauty 
about all Edwards's ethical work, of which 
Butler's very best work is wholly and blame- 
fully devoid. He defends himself, and his out- 
and-out eulogists defend him, on the plea that 
he is always arguing, not on his own principles, 
but on the principles of the deists, who were 
his opponents. But Edwards argues not less 
effectually because he lets his great subject 
carry both him and his readers away up to its 
native heavens. Edwards is only the more 
genuinely and profoundly philosophical that 
he is so seraphically spiritual ; and only the 
more truly and convincingly ethical that he is 
so Pauline in the grace and truth of his philo- 

86 Butler 

sophy as well as his theology. Wesley's re- 
port of his interview with Butler is humiliating 
reading. And when it is read alongside of 
Chalmers's lectures on Butler, it is absolutely 
conclusive as to Butler's utter lack of sympathy 
with apostolic and evangelic preaching, even 
when he could not but see the miracles that 
such preaching was working in his own diocese. 
Mr. Gladstone is driven to think that the 
interview between the Bishop and the great 
Gospel preacher cannot be correctly reported 
in Wesley's Journal. I wish I could believe 
that. For, with all his shortcomings on the 
most important of all matters, I love and 
honour Butler more than I can tell. The truth 
is, with all his greatness, Butler falls far short 
of the greatest. Many an author, many a 
preacher, many an unlettered believer, who 
was not talented enough to read what Butler 
had written, could have taken him and taught 
him the way of God more perfectly, as Aquila 
and Priscilla taught Apollos. It is a mystery 
to me how such a deep-seeing man, and such a 

Appreciation 87 

fearless and honest man, and such a serious- 
minded man as Butler was could have lived 
and died contented with such an emasculated 
and meagre gospel as that of the Sermons and 
the Analogy. It would be a mystery did we 
not see the same mystery every day. But we 
have only too good evidence that Butler did 
not either live or die contented. As to his 
death, a delightful narrative is given of the 
Bishop's last moments, a narrative that carries 
its truth on the face of it, and a narrative we 
would not have wanted for anything. When 
Butler lay on his deathbed he called for his 
chaplain and said to him: "Though I have 
endeavoured to avoid sin, and to please God 
to the utmost of my power, yet, from the 
consciousness of perpetual infirmities, I am 
still afraid to die." "My lord," said the 
chaplain, " you have forgotten that Jesus 
Christ is a Saviour." "True," said Butler, 
" but how shall I know that He is a Saviour 
for me ? " " My lord, it is written, < Him that 
cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out.' ' 

88 Butler 

" True," said Butler, " and I am surprised that 
though I have read that Scripture a thousand 
times over, I never felt its virtue till this 
moment. And now I die happy." 

"A mighty prelate on his deathbed lay, 

Revolving the dread themes of life and death 
And their stupendous issues, with dismay, 

His marvellous powers nigh quenched. * My lord,' 

one saith, 
' Hast thou forgotten how Christ came to be 

A Saviour?' 'Nay,' the bishop made reply, 
'How know I He's a Saviour unto me?' 

The chaplain paused, then answered thoughtfully : 
<"Lo, him that cometh unto Me," Christ said, 

" I will in nowise cast out," need we more ?' 
The bishop slowly raised his dying head: 

'I've read a thousand times that Scripture o'er, 
Nor felt its truth till now I near the tomb; 

It is enough, O mighty Christ, I come.' " 




OUR whole nature leads us to ascribe all 
moral perfection to God, and to deny all 
imperfection of Him. And this will for ever 
IK- ;i practical proof of His moral character, to 
such as will consider what a practical proof is ; 
because it is the voice of God speaking in us. 
Angus > p. 10. 

If we are constituted such sort of creatures, 
as from our very nature to feel certain affec- 
tions or movements of mind upon the sight or 
contemplation of the meanest inanimate part 
of the creation, for the flowers of the field have 
their beauty, certainly there must be somewhat 
due to Him Himself, who is the Author and 
Cause of all things, who is more intimately 


92 Butler's Best Passages 

present to us than anything else can be, and 
with whom we have a nearer and more constant 
intercourse than we can have with any creature. 
There must be some movements of mind and 
heart which correspond to His perfections, or 
of which those perfections are the natural 
object. Angus, p. 354. 

Reverence, ambition of His love and appro- 
bation, delight in the hope or consciousness of 
it, come likewise into this definition of the love 
of God, because He is the natural object of all 
those affections or movements of mind, as 
really as He is the object of the affection 
which is in the strictest sense called love ; and 
all of them equally rest in Him as their end. 
-Angus, p. 499. 

Nothing is more certain than that an infinite 
Being may himself be, if he pleases, the supply 
to all the capacities of our nature. All the 
common enjoyments of life are from the 
faculties he hath endued us with, and the 

Butler's Best Passages 93 

objects he hath made suitable to them. He 
may himself be to us infinitely more than all 
these ; he may be to us all that we want. As 
our understanding can contemplate itself, and 
our affections be exercised upon themselves by 
reflection, so may each be employed in the 
same manner upon any other mind ; and since 
the Supreme Mind, the Author and Cause of 
all things, is the highest possible object to 
himself, he may be an adequate supply to 
all the faculties of our souls, a subject to our 
understanding, and an object to our affections. 
-Angus, p. 513. 

Words, to be sure, are wanting upon this 
subject : to say that everything of grace and 
beauty throughout the whole of Nature, 
everything excellent and amiable shared in 
differently lower degrees by the whole crea- 
tion, meet in the Author and Cause of all 
things ; this is an inadequate and perhaps 
improper way of speaking of the Divine 
Nature, but it is manifest that absolute recti- 


94 Butler's Best Passages 

tude, the perfection of being, must be in all 
senses and in every respect the highest object 
to the mind. Angus, p. 514. 

Now, as our capacities of perception improve, 
we shall have, perhaps by some faculty entirely 
new, a perception of God's presence with us 
in a nearer and stricter way ; since it is certain 
He is more intimately present with us, than 
anything else can be. Proof of the existence 
and presence of any being is quite different 
from the immediate perception, the conscious- 
ness of it. What then will be the joy of 
heart which His presence, and the light of 
His countenance, who is the life of the Uni- 
verse, will inspire good men with, when they 
shall have a sensation, that He is the Sustainer 
of their being, that they exist in Him ; when 
they shall feel His influence to cheer and 
enliven and support their frame, in a manner 
of which we have now no conception? He 
will be in a literal sense their strength and 
their portion for ever. 

Butler's Best Passages 95 

When we speak of things so much above 
our comprehension, as the employment and 
happiness of a future state, doubtless it behoves 
us to speak with all modesty and distrust of 
ourselves. But the Scripture represents the 
happiness of that state under the notions of 
seeing God, seeing Him as He is, knowing as 
we are known, and seeing face to face. These 
\\oi\ls are not general or undetermined, but 
express a particular determinate happiness. And 
I will be bold to say, that nothing can account 
for, or come up to, these expressions, but only 
this, that God Himself will be an object to 
our faculties, that He Himself will be our 
happiness ; as distinguished from the enjoy- 
ments of the present state which seem to arise, 
not immediately from Him but from the 
objects He has adapted to give us delight 
, p. 516. 


By the love of God I would understand all 
those regards, all those affections of mind 

96 Butler's Best Passages 

which are due immediately to Him from such 
a creature as man, and which rest in Him as 
their end. As this does not include servile 
fear, so neither will any other regards, how 
reasonable soever, which respect anything out 
of or besides the perfection of the Divine 
nature come into consideration here. But all 
fear is not excluded, because His displeasure 
is itself the natural proper object of fear. 
Reverence, ambition of His love and approba- 
tion, delight in the hope or consciousness of it, 
come likewise into this definition of the love 
of God, because He is the natural object of all 
those affections or movements of mind, as 
really as He is the object of the affection 
which is in the strictest sense called love ; and 
all of them equally rest in Him as their end. 
And they may all be understood to be implied 
in these words of our Saviour, without putting 
any force upon them ; for he is speaking of 
the love of God and our neighbours as con- 
taining the whole of piety and virtue. Angus, 
p. 499. 

Butler's Best Passages 97 


The general design of Scripture, which con- 
tains in it this revelation, thus considered as 
historical, may be said to be, to give us an 
account of the world, in this one single view 
as God's world : by which it appears essentially 
distinguished from all other books, so far as I 
have found, except such as are copied from it. 
-Angus, p. 272. 

Those who will thoroughly examine into reve- 
lation will find it worth remarking, that there 
are several ways of arguing, which, though just 
with regard to other writings, are not applic- 
able to Scripture, at least not to the prophetic 
parts of it. We cannot argue, for instance, 
that this cannot be the sense or intent of such 
a passage of Scripture ; for if it had it would 
have been expressed more plainly, or have 
been represented under a more apt figure or 
hieroglyphic ; yet we may justly argue thus 
with respect to common books. And the 
reason of this difference is very evident ; that 

98 Butler's Best Passages 

in Scripture we are not competent judges, as 
we are in common books, how plainly it were 
to have been expected, what is the true sense 
should have been expressed, or under how apt 
an image figured. The only question is, 
what appearance there is that this is the sense ; 
and scarce at all how much more determinately 
or accurately it might have been expressed or 
figured. Angus, p. 186. 

If one knew a person to have compiled a 
book out of memoirs, which he received 
from another, of vastly superior knowledge 
in the subject of it, especially if it were a 
book full of great intricacies and difficulties ; 
it would in no wise follow that one knew 
the whole meaning of the book, from know- 
ing the whole meaning of the compiler : for 
the original memoirs, i.e. the author of them, 
might have, and there would be no degree 
of presumption, in many cases, against sup- 
posing him to have, some further meaning 
than the compiler saw. To say then, that 

Butler's Best Passages 99 

the Scriptures, and the things contained in 
them, can have no other or further meaning 
than those persons thought or had, who first 
recited or wrote them ; is evidently saying, 
that those persons were the original, proper, 
and sole authors of those books. Angus, 
p. 268. 

This supposed revelation's obtaining and 
being received in the world, with all the 
circumstances and effects of it, considered 
together as one event, is the most conspicu- 
ous and important event in the story of 
mankind : a book of this nature, and thus 
promulged and recommended to our con- 
sideration, demands, as if by a voice from 
heaven, to have its claim most seriously ex- 
amined into ; and, before such examination, 
to treat it with any kind of scoffing and 
ridicule, is an offence against natural piety. 
-Angus, p. 277. 

Neither obscurity, nor seeming inaccuracy 

ioo Butler's Best Passages 

of style, nor various readings, nor early dis- 
putes about the authors of particular parts ; 
nor any other things of the like kind, though 
they had been much more considerable in 
degree than they are, could overthrow the 
authority of the Scripture ; unless the prophets, 
apostles, or our Lord had promised that the 
book containing the Divine revelation should 
be secure from those things. Angus, p. 1 86. 


God hath given us a moral faculty, by 
which we distinguish between actions, and 
approve some as virtuous and of good desert, 
and disapprove others as vicious and of ill 

Now this moral discernment implies, in the 
notion of it, a rule of action, and a rule of 
a very peculiar kind ; for it carries in it 
authority and a right of direction ; authority 
in such a sense, as that we cannot depart 
from it without being self-condemned. And 

Butler's Best Passages 101 

that the dictates of this moral faculty, which 
are by nature a rule to us, are moreover the 
laws of God, laws in a sense including 
sanctions, may be thus proved. Conscious- 
ness of a rule or guide of action, in creatures 
who are capable of considering it as given 
them by their Maker, not only raises im- 
mediately a sense of duty, but also a sense 
of security in following it, and of danger in 
deviating from it. A direction of the Author 
of Nature, given to creatures capable of look- 
ing upon it as such, is plainly a command from 
Him ; and a command from Him necessarily 
includes in it, at least, an implicit promise in 
case of obedience, or threatening in case of 
disobedience. Angus ', p. 121. 

That which renders beings capable of moral 
government, is their having a moral nature, 
and moral faculties of perception and of action. 
Brute creatures are impressed and actuated by 
various instincts and propensions : so also are 
we. But additional to this, we have a capacity 

102 Butler's Best Passages 

of reflecting upon actions and characters, and 
making them an object to our thought : and 
on doing this, we naturally and unavoidably 
approve some actions, under the peculiar 
view of their being virtuous and of good 
desert ; and disapprove others, as vicious and 
of ill desert. That we have this moral ap- 
proving and disapproving faculty, is certain 
from our experiencing it in ourselves, and 
recognising it in each other. It appears from 
our exercising it unavoidably in the approba- 
tion and disapprobation even of feigned char- 
acters : from the words right and wrong, odious 
and amiable, base and worthy, with many others 
of like signification in all languages, applied to 
actions and characters : from the many written 
systems of morals which suppose it : since it 
cannot be imagined, that all these authors, 
throughout all these treatises, had absolutely 
no meaning at all to their words, or a meaning 
merely chimerical : from our natural sense of 
gratitude, which implies a distinction between 
merely being the instrument of good, and 

Butler's Best Pa 103 

intending it : from the like distinction, every 
one makes, between injury and mere harm, 
which, Hobbes says, is peculiar to mankind ; 
and between injury and just punishment, a 
distinction plainly natural, prior to the con- 
sideration of human laws. It is manifest great 
part of common language, and of common 
behaviour over the world, is formed upon 
supposition of such a moral faculty; whether 
called conscience, moral reason, moral sense, 
or Divine reason ; whether considered as a 
sentiment of the understanding, or as a per- 
ception of the heart ; or, which seems the 
truth, as including both. Angus, p. 323. 

It does not appear that brutes have the 
least reflex sense of actions as distinguished 
from events; or that will and design, which 
constitute the very nature of actions as such, 
are at all an object to their perception. But 
to ours they are ; and they are the object, 
and the only one, of the approving and dis- 
approving faculty. Acting, conduct, behaviour, 

104 Butler's Best Passages 

abstracted from all regard to what is, in fact 
and event, the consequence of it, is itself the 
natural object of the moral discernment ; as 
speculative truth and falsehood is of specula- 
tive reason. Intention of such and such con- 
sequences, indeed, is always included ; for it 
is part of the action itself ; but though the 
intended good or bad consequences do not 
follow, we have exactly the same sense of the 
action as if they did. In like manner we 
think well or ill of characters, abstracted from 
all consideration of the good or the evil, which 
persons of such characters have it actually in 
their power to do. We never, in the moral 
way, applaud or blame either ourselves or 
others, for what we enjoy or what we suffer, 
or for having impressions made upon us which 
we consider as altogether out of our power ; 
but only for what we do, or would have done, 
had it been in our power : or what we leave 
undone, which we might have done, or would 
have left undone, though we could have done 
it._ Angus, p. 325. 

Butler's Best Passages 105 

But that is not a complete account of man's 
nature. Somewhat further must be brought 
in to give us an adequate notion of it ; 
namely, that one of those principles of action, 
conscience, or reflection, compared with the 
rest as they all stand together in the nature 
of man, plainly bears upon it marks of 
authority over all the rest, and claims the 
absolute direction of them all, to allow or 
forbid their gratification ; a disapprobation 
of reflection being in itself a principle mani- 
festly superior to a mere propension. And 
the conclusion is, that to allow no more to 
this superior principle or part of our nature, 
than to other parts ; to let it govern and 
guide only occasionally in common with the 
rest, as its turn happens to come, from the 
temper and circumstances one happens to be 
in ; this is not to act conformably to the 
constitution of man ; neither can any human 
creature be said to act conformably to his 
constitution of nature, unless he allows to 
that superior principle the absolute authority 

106 Butler's Best Passages 

which is due to it. And this conclusion 
is abundantly confirmed from hence, that 
one may determine what course of action 
the economy of man's nature requires, 
without so much as knowing in what degree 
of strength the several principles prevail, or 
which of them have actually the greatest 

The practical reason of insisting so much 
upon this natural authority of the principle of 
reflection or conscience is, that it seems in 
great measure overlooked by many, who are 
by no means the worst sort of men. It is 
thought sufficient to abstain from gross wicked- 
ness, and to be humane and kind to such as 
happen to come in their way. Whereas in 
reality, the very constitution of our nature 
requires that we bring our whole conduct 
before this superior faculty ; wait its deter- 
mination and enforce upon ourselves its 
authority, and make it the business of our 
lives, as it is absolutely the whole business of a 
moral agent, to conform ourselves to it. This 

Butler's Best Passages 107 

is the true meaning of that ancient precept, 
Reverence thyself. Angus, p. 344. 

There is a principle of reflection in men, by 
which they distinguish between, approve, and 
disapprove their own actions. We are plainly 
constituted such sort of creatures as to reflect 
upon our own nature. The mind can take a 
view of what passes within itself, its propen- 
sions, aversions, passions, affections, as respect- 
ing such objects, and in such degrees ; and of 
the several actions consequent thereupon. In 
this survey it approves of one, disapproves of 
another, and towards a third is affected in 
neither of these ways, but is quite indifferent. 
This principle in man, by which he approves 
or disapproves his heart, temper, and actions, 
is conscience ; for this is the strict sense of the 
word, though sometimes it is used so as to 
take in more. And that this faculty tends to 
restrain men from doing mischief to each other, 
and leads them to do good, is too manifest to 
need being insisted upon. Angus, p. 365. 

io8 Butler's Best Passages 

There is a superior principle of reflection 
or conscience in every man, which distinguishes 
between the internal principles of his heart, 
as well as his external actions ; which passes 
judgment upon himself and them ; pronounces 
determinately some actions to be in themselves 
just, right, good ; others to be in them- 
selves evil, wrong, unjust. Which, without 
being consulted, without being advised with, 
magisterially exerts itself, and approves or 
condemns him the doer of them accordingly. 
And which, if not forcibly stopped, naturally 
and always of course goes on to anticipate a 
higher and more effectual sentence, which shall 
hereafter second and affirm its own. Angus, 
P- 378. 

Conscience is the guide of life. 
p. 467. 

Thus that principle, by which we survey, 
and either approve or disapprove our own 
heart, temper, and actions, is not only to be 

Butler's Best Passages 109 

considered as what is in its turn to have some 
influence; which may be said of every passion, 
of the lowest appetites : but likewise as being 
superior ; as from its very nature manifestly 
claiming superiority over all others : insomuch 
that you cannot form a notion of this faculty, 
conscience, without taking in judgment, direc- 
tion, superintendency. This is a constituent 
part of the idea, that is, of the faculty itself ; 
and to preside and govern, from the very 
economy and constitution of man, belongs to 
it. Had it strength, as it has right ; had it 
power, as it has manifest authority ; it would 
absolutely govern the world. Angus, p. 381. 

That your conscience approves of and 
attests to such a course of action, is itself alone 
an obligation. Conscience does not only offer 
itself to show us the way we should walk in, 
but it likewise carries its own authority with 
it, that it is our natural guide ; the guide 
assigned to us by the Author of our nature. 
It therefore belongs to our condition of being, 

I io Butler's Best Passages 

it is our duty to walk in that path and follow 
this guide without looking about to see 
whether we may not possibly forsake them 
with impunity. Angus, p. 386. 


I express myself with caution, lest 1 should 
be mistaken to vilify reason, which is indeed 
the only faculty we have wherewith to judge 
concerning anything, even revelation itself. 
Angus, p. 182. 

Great caution of not vilifying the faculty of 
reason, which is the candle of the Lord within 
us. Angus, p. 303. 


By character is meant that which, in speak- 
ing of men, we should express by the words 
temper, taste, dispositions, practical principles, that 
whole frame of mind, from whence we act in one 
manner rather than another. Angus, p. 120. 

Butler's Best Passages in 

But then, as Nature has endued us with a 
power of supplying those deficiencies, by 
acquired knowledge, experience, and habits ; 
so likewise we are placed in a condition, in 
infancy, childhood, and youth, fitted for it; 
fitted for our acquiring those qualifications of 
all sorts, which we stand in need of in mature 
age. Hence children from their very birth 
are daily growing acquainted with the objects 
about them, with the scene in which they are 
placed, and to have a future part, and learning 
somewhat or other necessary to the perform- 
ance of it. The subordinations to which they 
are accustomed in domestic life, teach them 
self-government in common behaviour abroad, 
and prepare them for subjection and obedience 
to civil authority. What passes before their 
eyes and daily happens to them, gives them 
experience, caution against treachery and 
deceit, together with numberless little rules of 
action and conduct which we could not live 
without, and which are learned so insensibly 
and so perfectly, as to be mistaken perhaps 

H2 Butler's Best Passages 

for instinct, though they are the effect of 
long experience and exercise, as much so as 
language or knowledge in particular business, 
or the qualifications and behaviour belonging 
to the several ranks and professions. 

Thus the beginning of our days is adapted 
to be, and is, a state of education in the theory 
and practice of mature life. We are much 
assisted in it by example, instruction, and the 
care of others, but a great deal is left to our- 
selves to do. And of this, as part is done 
easily and of course, so part requires diligence 
and care, the voluntary foregoing many things 
which we desire, and setting ourselves to what 
we should have no inclination to, but for the 
necessity or expedience of it. For that labour 
and industry, which the station of so many 
absolutely requires, they would be greatly 
unqualified for in maturity, as those in other 
stations would be for any other sorts of 
application, if both were not accustomed to 
them in their youth. And according as 
persons behave themselves in the general 

Butler's Best Passages 113 

education which all go through, and in the 
particular ones adapted to particular employ- 
ments, their character is formed and made 
appear ; they recommend themselves more or 
less, and are capable of, and placed in, different 
stations in the society of mankind. Angus, 
p. 95. 

A man's character cannot be determined by 
the love he bears to his neighbour, considered 
absolutely ; but the proportion which this 
bears to self-love, whether it be attended to 
or not, is the chief thing which forms the 
character, and influences the actions. For, 
as the form of the body is a composition 
of various parts ; so likewise our inward 
structure is not simple or uniform, but a 
composition of various passions, appetites, 
affections, together with rationality ; including 
in this last both the discernment of what is 
right, and a disposition to regulate ourselves 
by it. There is greater variety of parts in 

what we call a character than there are features 


114 Butler's Best Passages 

in a face ; and the morality of that is no more 
determined by one part, than the beauty or 
deformity of this is by one single feature : 
each is to be judged of by all the parts or 
features, not taken singly, but together. 
Angus, p. 487. 

There is a third thing, which may seem 
implied in the present world's being a 
state of probation ; that it is a theatre of 
action, for the manifestation of persons' 
characters with respect to a future one ; not, 
to be sure, to an all-knowing Being, but to 
this creation or part of it. This may, perhaps, 
be only a consequence of our being in a state 
of probation in the other senses. However, 
it is not impossible that men's showing and 
making manifest what is in their heart, what 
their real character is, may have respect to a 
future life, in ways and manners which we are 
not acquainted with ; particularly it may be a 
means, for the Author of Nature does not 
appear to do anything without means, of their 

Butler's Best Passages 115 

being disposed of suitably to their characters, 
and of its being known to the creation by 
way of example, that they are thus disposed 

But not to enter upon any conjectural 
account of this, one may just mention, that 
the manifestation of persons* characters con- 
tributes very much in various ways, to the 
carrying on a great part of that general course 
of Nature, respecting mankind, which comes 
under our observation at present. 

I shall only add, that probation, in both these 
senses, as well as in that treated in the fore- 
going chapter, is implied in moral government ; 
since by persons' behaviour under it, their 
characters cannot but be manifested, and if 
they behave well, improved. Angus, p. 110. 


As habits belonging to the body are pro- 
duced by external acts, so habits of the mind 
are produced by the exertion of inward 

n6 Butler's Best Passages 

practical principles, i.e. by carrying them into 
act, or acting upon them ; the principles of 
obedience, or veracity, justice, and charity. 

Nor can those habits be formed by any 
external course of action, otherwise than as it 
proceeds from these principles ; because it is 
only these inward principles exerted, which 
are strictly acts of obedience, of veracity, of 
justice, and of charity. So likewise habits of 
attention, industry, self-government, are in 
the same manner acquired by exercise ; and 
habits of envy and revenge by indulgence, 
whether in outward act, or in thought and 
intention, i.e. inward act ; for such intention 
is an act. Resolutions also to do well are 
properly acts. And endeavouring to enforce 
upon our minds a practical sense of virtue, 
or to beget in others that practical sense of it 
which a man really has himself, is a virtuous 
act. All these, therefore, may and will con- 
tribute towards forming good habits. But 
going over the theory of virtue in one's 
thoughts, talking well, and drawing fine 

Butler's Best Passages 117 

pictures of it ; this is so far from necessarily 
or certainly conducing to form a habit of it in 
him who thus employs himself, that it may 
harden the mind in a contrary course, and 
render it gradually more insensible, i.e. form 
a habit of insensibility to all moral considera- 
tions. For, from our very faculty of habits, 
passive impressions, by being repeated, grow 
weaker. Angus, p. 90. 

Thus, by accustoming ourselves to any 
course of action, we get an aptness to go on, a 
facility, readiness, and often pleasure, in it. 
The inclinations which rendered us averse to it 
grow weaker ; the difficulties in it, not only 
the imaginary but the real ones, lessen ; the 
reasons for it offer themselves of course to our 
thoughts upon all occasions ; and the least 
glimpse of them is sufficient to make us go on 
in a course of action to which we have been 
accustomed. And practical principles appear 
to grow stronger, absolutely in themselves, by 
exercise, as well as relatively with regard to 

n8 Butler's Best Passages 

contrary principles, which, by being accustomed 
to submit, do so habitually and of course. 
And thus a new character, in several respects, 
may be formed ; and many habitudes of life, 
not given by Nature, but which Nature directs 
us to acquire. Angus > p. 93. 


The evidence of religion not appearing 
obvious, may constitute one particular part of 
some men's trial in the religious sense : as it 
gives scope for a virtuous exercise, or vicious 
neglect, of their understanding, in examining 
or not examining into that evidence. There 
seems no possible reason to be given, why we 
may not be in a state of moral probation, with 
regard to the exercise of our understanding 
upon the subject of religion, as we are with 
regard to our behaviour in common affairs. 
The former is as much a thing within our 
power and choice as the latter. And I suppose 
it is to be laid down for certain, that the same 

Butler's Best Passages 119 

character, the same inward principle, which, 
after a man is convinced of the truth of 
religion, renders him obedient to the precepts 
of it, would, were he not thus convinced, set 
him about an examination of it, upon its 
system and evidence being offered to his 
thoughts ; and that in the latter state his 
examination would be with an impartiality, 
seriousness, and solicitude, proportionable to 
what his obedience is in the former. And as 
inattention, negligence, want of all serious 
concern, about a matter of such a nature, and 
such importance, when offered to men's con- 
sideration, is, before a distinct conviction of 
its truth, as real immoral depravity and dis- 
soluteness as neglect of religious practice after 
such conviction ; so active solicitude about it, 
and fair impartial consideration of its evidence 
before such conviction, is as really an exercise of 
a morally right temper, as is religious practice 
after. Thus, that religion is not intuitively 
true, but a matter of deduction and inference ; 
that a conviction of its truth is not forced 

120 Butler's Best Passages 

upon every one, but left to be, by some, 
collected with heedful attention to premises ; 
this as much constitutes religious probation, as 
much affords sphere, scope, opportunity, for 
right and wrong behaviour, as anything what- 
ever does. And their manner of treating this 
subject, when laid before them, shows what is 
in their heart, and is an exertion of it. Angus, 

P- 2 35- 

Especially men are bound to keep at the 
greatest distance from all dissolute profane- 
ness ; for this the very nature of the case for- 
bids ; and to treat with the highest reverence a 
matter, upon which their own whole interest and 
being, and the fate of Nature, depend. This 
behaviour, and an active endeavour to maintain 
within themselves this temper, is the business, 
the duty, and the wisdom of those persons, 
who complain of the doubtfulness of religion : 
is what they are under the most proper obliga- 
tions to. And such behaviour is an exertion 
of, and has a tendency to improve in them, 

Butler's Best Passages 121 

that character, which the practice of all the 
several duties of religion, from a full conviction 
of its truth, is an exertion of, and has a tendency 
to improve in others ; others, I say, to whom 
God has afforded such conviction. Nay, con- 
sidering the infinite importance of religion, 
revealed as well as natural, I think it may be 
said in general, that whoever will weigh the 
matter thoroughly may see, that there is not 
near so much difference as is commonly 
imagined between what ought in reason to be 
the rule of life, to those persons who are 
fully convinced of its truth, and to those who 
have only a serious doubting apprehension that 
it may be true. Their hopes, and fears, and 
obligations, will be in various degrees : but as 
the subject-matter of their hopes and fears is 
the same, so the subject-matter of their obliga- 
tions, what they are bound to do and to refrain 
from, is not so very unlike. Angus, p. 237. 

The difficulties in which the evidence of 
religion is involved, which some complain of, 

122 Butler's Best Passages 

is no more a just ground of complaint than the 
external circumstances of temptation, which 
others are placed in ; or than difficulties in 
the practice of it, after a full conviction of its 
truth. Temptations render our state a more 
improving state of discipline than it would be 
otherwise : as they give occasion for a more 
attentive exercise of the virtuous principle 
which confirms and strengthens it more than 
an easier or less attentive exercise of it could. 
Now, speculative difficulties are, in this respect, 
of the very same nature with these external 
temptations. For the evidence of religion not 
appearing obvious, is to some persons a temp- 
tation to reject it without any consideration at 
all ; and therefore requires such an attentive 
exercise of the virtuous principle, seriously to 
consider that evidence, as there would be no 
occasion for, but for such temptation. And 
the supposed doubtfulness of its evidence, 
after it has been in some sort considered, 
affords opportunity to an unfair mind of 
explaining away and deceitfully hiding from 

Butler's Best Passages 123 

itself that evidence which it might see ; and 
also for men's encouraging themselves in vice, 
from hopes of impunity, though they do 
clearly see thus much at least, that these hopes 
are uncertain : in like manner as the common 
temptation to many instances of folly, which 
end in temporal infamy and ruin, is the 
ground for hope of not being detected and 
of escaping with impunity ; i.e. the doubtful- 
ness of the proof beforehand, that such foolish 
behaviour will thus end in infamy and ruin. 
On the contrary, supposed doubtfulness in the 
evidence of religion calls for a more careful 
and attentive exercise of the virtuous principle, 
in fairly yielding themselves up to the proper 
influence of any real evidence, though doubtful : 
and in practising conscientiously all virtue, 
though under some uncertainty, whether the 
government in the universe may not possibly 
be such, as that vice may escape with impunity. 
And in general, temptation, meaning by 
this word the lesser allurements to wrong, and 
difficulties in the discharge of our duty, as well 

124 Butler's Best Passages 

as the greater ones ; temptation, I say, as such, 
and of every kind and degree, as it calls forth 
some virtuous efforts, additional to what would 
otherwise have been wanting, cannot but be 
an additional discipline and improvement of 
virtue, as well as probation of it in the other 
senses of that word. 

So that the very same account is to be 
given, why the evidence of religion should be 
left in such a manner as to require in some an 
attentive, solicitous, perhaps painful exercise 
of their understanding about it ; as why others 
should be placed in such circumstances as that 
the practice of its common duties, after a full 
conviction of the truth of it, should require 
attention, solicitude, and pains ; or why appear- 
ing doubtfulness should be permitted to afford 
matter of temptation to some ; as why ex- 
ternal difficulties and allurements should be 
permitted to afford matter of temptation to 
others. The same account also is to be given, 
why some should be exercised with tempta- 
tions of both these kinds ; as why others 

Butler's Best Passages 125 

should be exercised with the latter in such very 
high degrees as some have been, particularly 
as the primitive Christians were. 

Nor does there appear any absurdity in 
supposing, that the speculative difficulties in 
which the evidence of religion is involved, may 
make even the principal part of some persons' 
trial. For as the chief temptations of the 
generality of the world are the ordinary 
motives to injustice or unrestrained pleasure ; 
or to live in the neglect of religion from that 
frame of mind which renders many persons 
almost without feeling as to anything distant, 
or which is not the object of their senses : so 
there are other persons without this shallow- 
ness of temper, persons of a deeper sense as to 
what is invisible and future ; who not only 
see, but have a general practical feeling, that 
what is to come will be present, and that 
things are not less real for their not being the 
objects of sense ; and who, from their natural 
constitution of body and of temper, and 
from their external condition, may have small 

126 Butler's Best Passages 

temptations to behave ill, small difficulty in 
behaving well, in the common course of life. 
Now when these latter persons have a distinct 
full conviction of the truth of religion, with- 
out any possible doubts or difficulties, the 
practice of it is to them unavoidable, unless 
they will do a constant violence to their own 
minds ; and religion is scarce any more a 
discipline to them than it is to creatures in 
a state of perfection. Yet these persons may 
possibly stand in need of moral discipline and 
exercise in a higher degree, than they would 
have by such an easy practice of religion. Or 
it may be requisite, for reasons unknown to 
us, that they should give some further mani- 
festation what is their moral character to the 
creation of God, than such a practice of it 
would be. Thus in the great variety of 
religious situations in which men are placed, 
what constitutes, what chiefly and peculiarly 
constitutes, the probation, in all senses, of some 
persons, may be the difficulties in which the 
evidence of religion is involved ; and their 

Butler's Best Passages 127 

principal and distinguished trial may be, how 
they will behave under and with respect to 
these difficulties. Circumstances in men's 
situation in their temporal capacity, analogous 
in good measure to this respecting religion, are 
to be observed. We find some persons are 
placed in such a situation in the world, as that 
their chief difficulty with regard to conduct, is 
not the doing what is prudent when it is 
known ; for this, in numberless cases, is as 
easy as the contrary : but to some the principal 
exercise is, recollection and being upon their 
guard against deceits, the deceits suppose of 
those about them ; against false appearances 
of reason and prudence. To persons in some 
situations, the principal exercise with respect to 
conduct is, attention in order to inform them- 
selves what is proper, what is really the 
reasonable and prudent part to act. Angus, 
P- 239- 

Religion presupposes this as much, and in 
the same sense, as speaking to a man pre- 

128 Butler's Best Passages 

supposes he understands the language in 
which you speak ; or a warning a man of any 
danger presupposes that he hath such a regard 
to himself, as that he will endeavour to avoid 
it. And therefore, the question is not at all, 
Whether the evidence of religion be satis- 
factory ; but, whether it be, in reason, sufficient 
to prove and discipline that virtue, which it 
presupposes. Now the evidence of it is fully 
sufficient for all those purposes of probation ; 
how far soever it is from being satisfactory as 
to the purposes of curiosity, or any other : 
and indeed it answers the purposes of the 
former in several respects, which it would not 
do if it were as overbearing as is required. 
One might add further, that whether the 
motives or the evidence for any course of 
action be satisfactory, meaning here, by that 
word, what satisfies a man, that such a course 
of action will in event be for his good ; this 
need never be, and I think, strictly speaking, 
never is, the practical question in common 
matters. But the practical question in all cases 

Butler's Best Passages 129 

is, whether the evidence for a course of action 
be such as, taking in all circumstances, makes 
the faculty within us, which is the guide and 
judge of conduct, determine that course of 
action to be prudent. Indeed, satisfaction 
that it will be for our interest or happiness, 
abundantly determines an action to be prudent : 
but evidence almost infinitely lower than this 
determines actions to be so too, even in the 
conduct of every day. Angus, p. 296. 

It is indeed true, God willeth that all men 
should be saved : yet, from the unalterable con- 
stitution of His government, the salvation of 
every man cannot but depend upon his be- 
haviour, and therefore cannot but depend upon 
himself ; and is necessarily his own concern, in 
a sense in which it cannot be another's. All 
this the Scripture declares, in a manner the most 
forcible and alarming : Can a man be profitable 
unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable 
unto himself? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, 
that thou art righteous ? or is it gain to Him, that 

130 Butler's Best Passages 

thou makes t thy way -perfect ? If thou be wise, 
thou shalt be wise for thyself '; but if thou scornest, 
thou alone shall bear it. He that heareth, let him 
hear ; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear. 
And again, He that hath ears to hear, let him 
hear; but if any man be ignorant, i.e. wilfully, 
let him be ignorant. To the same purpose are 
those awful words of the angel, in the person 
of Him to whom all judgment is committed ; He 
that is unjust, let him be unjust still ; and he 
which is filthy ', let him be filthy still; and he that 
is righteous , let him be righteous still ; and he that 
is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I 
come quickly ; and My reward is with Me, to give 
every man according as his work shall be. The 
righteous government of the world must be 
carried on ; and, of necessity, men shall remain 
the subjects of it, by being examples of its 
mercy or of its justice. Life and death are set 
before them, and whether they like shall be given 
unto them. They are to make their choice, and 
abide by it : but whichsoever their choice be, 
the gospel is equally a witness to them ; and 

Butler's BcNt PiNsa^es 131 

the purposes of Providence are answered 
by this witness of the gospel. Gladstone^ ii. 



Now particular propensions, from their very 
nature, must be felt, the objects of them being 
present ; though they cannot be gratified at 
all, or not with the allowance of the moral 
principle. But if they can be gratified without 
its allowance, or by contradicting it, then 
they must be conceived to have some tendency 
in how low a degree soever, yet some tendency, 
to induce persons to such forbidden gratifica- 
tion. This tendency, in some one particular 
propension, may be increased by the greater 
frequency of occasions naturally exciting it, 
than of occasions exciting others. The least 
voluntary indulgence in forbidden circum- 
stances, though but in thought, will increase 
this wrong tendency ; and may increase it 
further, till, peculiar conjunctures perhaps 
conspiring, it becomes effect ; and danger of 
deviating from right ends in actual deviation 

132 Butler's Best Passages 

from it ; a danger necessarily arising from the 
very nature of propension ; and which there- 
fore could not have been prevented, though it 
might have been escaped, or got innocently 
through. The case would be, as if we were 
to suppose a straight path marked out for a 
person, in which such a degree of attention 
would keep him steady ; but if he would not 
attend in this degree, any one of a thousand 
objects, catching his eye, might lead him out 
of it. Now it is impossible to say how much 
even the first full overt act of irregularity 
might disorder the inward constitution, unsettle 
the adjustments, and alter the proportions 
which formed it, and in which the uprightness 
of its make consisted; but repetition of ir- 
regularities would produce habits. And 
thus the constitution would be spoiled ; and 
creatures made upright, become corrupt and 
depraved in their settled character, proportion- 
ably to their repeated irregularities in occasional 
acts. But, on the contrary, these creatures 
might have improved and raised themselves to 

Butler's Best Passages 

a higher and more secure state of virtue, by the 
contrary behaviour ; by steadily following the 
moral principle, supposed to be one part of 
their nature ; and thus withstanding that 
unavoidable danger of defection, which neces- 
sarily arose from propension, the other part of 
it. For, by thus preserving their integrity for 
some time, their danger would lessen ; since 
propensions, by being inured to submit, would 
do it more easily and of course ; and their 
security against this lessening danger would 
increase ; since the moral principle would gain 
additional strength by exercise; both which 
things are implied in the notion of virtuous 
habits. Thus, then, vicious indulgence is not 
only criminal in itself, but also depraves the 
inward constitution or character. And virtuous 
self-government is not only right in itself, but 
also improves the inward constitution or 
character ; and may improve it to such a 
degree, that though we should suppose it 
impossible for particular affections to be abso- 
lutely coincident with the moral principle ; and 

134 Butler's Best Passages 

consequently should allow, that such creatures 
as have been above supposed, would for ever 
remain defectible ; yet their danger of actually 
deviating from right may be almost infinitely 
lessened, and they fully fortified against what 
remains of it ; if that may be called danger, 
against which there is an adequate effectual 
security. Angus^ p. 100. 

However, as when we say, men are misled 
by external circumstances of temptation, it 
cannot but be understood that there is some- 
what within themselves to render those cir- 
cumstances temptations, or to render them 
susceptible of impressions from them ; so 
when we say they are misled by passions, it is 
always supposed that there are occasions, 
circumstances, and objects, exciting these 
passions, and affording means for gratifying 
them. And, therefore, temptations from within 
and from without, coincide and mutually imply 
each other. Now the several external objects 
of the appetites, passions, and affections, being 

Butler's Best Passages 135 

present to the senses, or offering themselves to 
the mind, and so exciting emotions suitable to 
their nature ; not only in cases where they can 
be gratified consistently with innocence and 
prudence, but also in cases where they cannot, 
and yet can be gratified imprudently and 
viciously ; this as really puts them in danger of 
voluntarily foregoing their present interest or 
good, as their future. Angus > p. 78. 

Every natural appetite, passion, and affection, 
may be gratified in particular instances, without 
being subservient to the particular chief end 
for which these several principles were respec- 
tively implanted in our nature. And, if neither 
this end, nor any other moral obligation be 
contradicted, such gratification is innocent. 
Angus, p. 448. 


As in the scheme of the natural world, no 
ends appear to be accomplished without means ; 

136 Butlers Best Passages 

so we find that means very undesirable, often 
conduce to bring about ends in such a measure 
desirable, as greatly to overbalance the dis- 
agreeableness of the means. And in cases 
where such means are conducive to such ends, 
it is not reason, but experience, which shows 
us, that they are thus conducive. Experience 
also shows many means to be conducive and 
necessary to accomplish ends, which means 
before experience, we should have thought 
would have had even a contrary tendency. 
Angus, p. 135. 

According to our manner of conception 
God makes use of variety of means, what we 
often think tedious ones, in the natural course 
of providence, for the accomplishment of all 
His ends. Indeed, it is certain there is some- 
what in this matter quite beyond our compre- 
hension ; but the mystery is as great in Nature 
as in Christianity. We know what we our- 
selves aim at, as final ends ; and what courses 
we take, merely as means conducing to those 

Butler's Best Passages 137 

ends. But we arc greatly ignorant how far 
things are considered by the Author of Nature 
under the single notion of means and ends ; so 
as that it may be said this is merely an end 
and that merely means, in His regard. And 
whether there be not some peculiar absurdity 
in our very manner of conception concerning 
this matter, somewhat contradictory arising 
from our extremely imperfect view of things, 
it is impossible to say. However, this much 
is manifest, that the whole natural world and 
government of it is a scheme or system ; not 
a fixed, but a progressive one : a scheme in 
which the operation of various means takes up 
a great length of time before the ends they 
tend to can be attained. Angus, p. 203. 

The whole end for which God made, and 
thus governs the world, may be utterly beyond 
the reach of our faculties ; there may be some- 
what in it as impossible for us to have any 
conception of, as for a blind man to have a 
conception of colours. Angus, p. 39. 


138 Butler's Best Passages 

Indeed we are so far from being able to 
judge of this, that we are not judges what may 
be the necessary means of raising and con- 
ducting one person to the highest perfection 
and happiness of his nature. Nay, even in 
the little affairs of the present life, we find 
men of different educations and ranks are not 
competent judges of the conduct of each 
other. Our whole nature leads us to ascribe 
all moral perfection to God, and to deny all 
imperfection of Him. And this will for ever 
be a practical proof of His moral character, 
to such as will consider what a practical proof 
is ; because it is the voice of God speaking in 
us. And from hence we conclude, that virtue 
must be the happiness, and vice the misery, 
of every creature ; and that regularity and 
order and right cannot but prevail finally in a 
universe under His government. But we are 
in no sort judges, what are the necessary 
means of accomplishing this end. Angus, 
p. 10. 

Butler's Best Passages i 


Probable evidence, in its very nature, affords 
but an imperfect kind of information, and is 
to be considered as relative only to beings 
of limited capacities. For nothing which is 
the possible object of knowledge, whether 
past, present, or future, can be probable to 
an infinite Intelligence, since it cannot but 
be discerned absolutely as it is in itself, 
certainly true, or certainly false. But to us, 
probability is the very guide of life. 

From these things it follows, that in 
questions of difficulty, or such as are thought 
so, where more satisfactory evidence cannot be 
had, or is not seen ; if the result of examina- 
tion be, that there appears upon the whole 
any the lowest presumption on one side, and 
none on the other, or a greater presumption 
on one side, though in the lowest degree 
greater, this determines the question, even in 
matters of speculation ; and in matters of 
practice, will lay us under an -absolute and 

140 Butler's Best Passages 

formal obligation, in point of prudence and 
of interest, to act upon that presumption or 
low probability, though it be so low as to leave 
the mind in very great doubt which is the 
truth. For surely a man is as really bound in 
prudence to do what upon the whole appears, 
according to the best of his judgment, to be 
for his happiness, as what he certainly knows 
to be so. Nay, further, in questions of great 
consequence, a reasonable man will think it 
concerns him to remark lower probabilities 
and presumptions than these ; such as amount 
to no more than showing one side of a 
question to be as supposable and credible as 
the other ; nay, such as but amount to much 
less even than this. For numberless instances 
might be mentioned respecting the common 
pursuits of life, where a man would be thought, 
in a literal sense, distracted who would not act, 
and with great application too, not only upon 
an even chance, but upon much less, and 
where the probability or chance was greatly 
against his succeeding. Angus, p. 5. 

Butler's Best Passages 141 


Knowledge is not our proper happiness. 
Whoever will in the least attend to the thing 
will see that it is the gaining, not the having 
of it, which is the entertainment of the mind ; 
indeed, if the proper happiness of man con- 
sisted in knowledge, considered as a possession 
or treasure, men who are possessed of the 
largest share would have a very ill time of it, 
as they would be infinitely more sensible than 
others of their poverty in this respect; thus 
he who increases knowledge would eminently 
increase sorrow. Men of deep research and 
curious inquiry should just be put in mind 
not to mistake what they are doing. If their 
discoveries serve the cause of virtue and 
religion in the way of proof, motive to 
practice, or assistance in it, or if they tend to 
render life less unhappy, and promote its 
satisfactions, then they are most usefully 
employed ; but bringing things to light, alone 
and of itself, is of no manner of use any 

142 Butler's Best Passages 

otherwise than as an entertainment or diver- 
sion. Neither is this at all amiss if it does 
not take up the time which should be employed 
in better work ; but it is evident that there is 
another mark set up for us to aim at, another 
end appointed us to direct our lives to ; an 
end which the most knowing may fail of and 
the most ignorant arrive at. " The secret 
things belong unto the Lord our God : but 
those things which are revealed belong unto us 
and to our children for ever, that we may do all 
the words of this law"; which reflection of 
Moses, put in general terms, is, that the only 
knowledge which is of any avail to us is that 
which teaches us our duty, or assists us in the 
discharge of it. The economy of the universe, 
the course of Nature, Almighty power exerted 
in the creation and government of the world, 
is out of our reach. What would be the 
consequence if we could really get an insight 
into these things is very uncertain ; whether it 
would assist us in, or divert us from, what we 
have to do in this present state. If then there 

Butler's Best Passages 143 

be a sphere of knowledge, of contemplation 
and employment, level to our capacities, and 
of the utmost importance to us, we ought 
surely to apply ourselves with all diligence to 
this our proper business, and esteem every- 
thing else nothing, nothing as to us in com- 
parison of it. Thus Job, discoursing of 
natural knowledge, how much it is above us, 
and of wisdom in general, says, " God under- 
standeth the way thereof, and He knoweth 
the place thereof. And unto man He said, 
Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom ; 
and to depart from evil is understanding.'* 
Other orders of creatures may perhaps be let 
into the secret counsels of heaven, and have 
the designs and methods of Providence, in the 
creation and government of the world, com- 
municated to them ; but this does not belong 
to our rank or condition. " The fear of the 
Lord, and to depart from evil," is the only 
wisdom which man should aspire after as his 
work and business. The same is said, and 
with the same connection and context, in the 

144 Butler's Best Passages 

conclusion of the book of Ecclesiastes. Our 
ignorance, and the little we can know of other 
things, affords a reason why we should not 
perplex ourselves about them ; but no way 
invalidates that which is the " conclusion of 
the whole matter : Fear God and keep His 
commandments : for this is the whole duty of 
man." So that Socrates was not the first who 
endeavoured to draw men off from labouring 
after, and laying stress upon other knowledge, 
in comparison of that which related to morals. 
Our province is virtue and religion, life and 
manners ; the science of improving the temper, 
and making the heart better. This is the 
field assigned us to cultivate : how much it 
has lain neglected is indeed astonishing. 
Virtue is demonstrably the happiness of man ; 
it consists in good actions proceeding from 
a good principle, temper, or heart. Overt 
acts are entirely in our power. What remains 
is, that we learn to keep our heart, to govern 
and regulate our passions, mind, affections, 
that so we may be free from the impotencies 

Butler's Best Passages 145 

of fear, envy, malice, covetousness, ambition ; 
that we may he clear of these, considered as vices 
seated in the heart considered as constituting 
a general wrong temper, from which general 
wrong frame of mind all the mistaken pursuits, 
and far the greatest part of the unhappiness of 
life, proceed. He who should find out one 
rule to assist us in this work would deserve 
infinitely better of mankind than all the 
improvers of other knowledge put together. 
Angus, p. 525. 


Creation is absolutely and entirely out of 
our depth, and beyond the extent of our 
utmost reach. And yet it is as certain that 
God made the world, as it is certain that effects 
must have a cause. It is indeed in general no 
more than effects, that the most knowing are 
acquainted with : for as to causes, they are as 
entirely in the dark as the most ignorant. 
What are the laws by which matter acts upon 

146 Butler's Best Passages 

matter, but certain effects ; which some, having 
observed to be frequently repeated, have re- 
duced to general rules ? The real nature and 
essence of beings likewise is what we are 
altogether ignorant of. All these things are 
so entirely out of our reach, that we have not 
the least glimpse of them. And we know 
little more of ourselves, than we do of the 
world about us : how we were made, how our 
being is continued and preserved, what the 
faculties of our minds are, and upon what the 
power of exercising them depends. " I am 
fearfully and wonderfully made : marvellous 
are Thy works, and that my soul knoweth 
right well." Our own nature, and the objects 
we are surrounded with, serve to raise our 
curiosity ; but we are quite out of a condition 
of satisfying it. Every secret which is dis- 
closed, every discovery which is made, every 
new effect which is brought to view, serves to 
convince us of numberless more which remain 
concealed, and which we had before no sus- 
picion of. And what if we were acquainted 

Butler's Best Passages 147 

with the whole creation, in the same way ami 
as thoroughly as we are' with any single object 
in it ? What would all this natural knowledge 
amount to ? It must be a low curiosity in- 
deed which such superficial knowledge could 
satisfy. On the contrary, would it not serve 
to convince us of our ignorance still ; and to 
raise our desire of knowing the nature of 
things themselves, the author, the cause, and 
the end of them ? Angus, p. 518. 

I am afraid we think too highly of our- 
selves ; of our rank in the creation, and of 
what is due to us. What sphere of action, 
what business is assigned to man, that he has 
not capacities and knowledge fully equal to ? 
It is manifest he has reason, and knowledge, and 
faculties superior to the business of the present 
world : faculties which appear superfluous, if 
we do not take in the respect which they have 
to somewhat further, and beyond it. If to 
acquire knowledge were our proper end, we 
should indeed be but poorly provided : but if 

148 Butler's Best Passages 

somewhat else be our business and duty, we 
may, notwithstanding our ignorance, be well 
enough furnished for it ; and the observation 
of our ignorance may be of assistance to us in 
the discharge of it. Angus, p. 522. 

The conclusion is, that in all lowliness of 
mind we set lightly by ourselves ; that we 
form our temper to an implicit submission to 
the Divine Majesty ; beget within ourselves an 
absolute resignation to all the methods of His 
providence, in His dealings with the children 
of men : that, in the deepest humility of our 
souls, we prostrate ourselves before Him, and 
join in that celestial song : " Great and mar- 
vellous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty ; 
just and true are Thy ways, Thou king of 
saints ! Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, 
and glorify Thy name ?" Angus, p. 527. 


The constitution of things being such, that 
the labour of one man, or the united labour of 

Butler's Best Passages 149 

rul, is sufficient to procure more necessaries 
than he or they stand in need of, which it may 

upposed was, in some degree, the case, even 
in the first ages ; this immediately gave room 
for riches to arise in the world, and for men's 
acquiring them by honest means ; by diligence, 
frugality, and prudent management. Thus 
some would very soon acquire greater plenty 
of necessaries than they had occasion for ; and 
others by contrary means, or by cross accidents, 
would be in want of them. And he who 
should supply their wants would have the 
property in a proportionable labour of their 
hands, which he would scarce fail to make use 
of instead of his own, or perhaps together with 
them, to provide future necessaries in greater 
plenty. Riches then were first bestowed upon 
the world, as they are still continued in it, by 
the blessing of God upon the industry. of men, 
in the use of their understanding and strength. 
Riches themselves have always this source, 
though the possession of them is conveyed to 
particular persons by different channels. Yet 

150 Butler's Best Passages 

still, the hand of the diligent maketh rich, and, 
other circumstances being equal, in proportion 
to its diligence. 

But to return to the first rich man, whom 
we left in possession of dependants, and plenty 
of necessaries for himself and them. A family 
would not be long in this state, before con- 
veniences, somewhat ornamental and for enter- 
tainment, would be wanted, looked for, and 
found out. And, by degrees, these secondary 
wants, and inventions for the supply of them, 
the fruits of leisure and ease, came to employ 
much of men's time and labour. Hence a new 
species of riches came into the world, consisting 
of things which it might have done well enough 
without, yet thought desirable, as affording 
pleasure to the imagination or the senses. 
And these went on increasing till, at length, 
the superfluities of life took in a vastly larger 
compass of things than the necessaries of it. 
Thus luxury made its inroad, and all the 
numerous train of evils its attendants ; of 
which poverty, as bad an one as we may 

Butler's Best Passages 151 

account it, is far from being the worst. 
Indeed the hands of the generality must be 
employed ; and a very few of them would now 
be sufficient to provide the world with neces- 
saries ; and therefore the rest of them must 
be employed about what may be called super- 
fluities ; which could not be, if these super- 
fluities were not made use of. Yet the desire 
of such things insensibly becomes immoderate, 
and the use of them, also of course, degenerates 
into luxury ; which, in every age, has been the 
dissipation of riches, and, in every sense, the 
ruin of those who were possessed of them : 
and therefore cannot be too much guarded 
against by all opulent cities. And as men 
sink into luxury as much from fashion as direct 
inclination, the richer sort together may easily 
restrain this vice, in almost what degree they 
please : and a few of the chief of them may 
contribute a great deal towards the restraining 
it. Gladstone, ii. p. 296. 

Blessed are they who employ their riches in 

152 Butler's Best Passages 

promoting so excellent a design. The tem- 
poral advantages of them are far from coming 
up, in enjoyment, to what they promise at a 
distance. But the distinguished privilege, the 
prerogative of riches, is, that they increase our 
power of doing good. This is their proper 
use. In proportion as men make this use of 
them, they imitate Almighty God ; and co- 
operate together with Him in promoting the 
happiness of the world ; and may expect the 
most favourable judgment which their case will 
admit of, at the last day, upon the general, 
repeated maxim of the gospel, that we shall 
then be treated ourselves as we now treat 
others. They have, moreover, the prayers of 
all good men, those of them particularly whom 
they have befriended ; and by such exercise of 
charity, they improve within themselves the 
temper of it, which is the very temper of 
heaven. Consider next the peculiar force with 
which this branch of charity, almsgiving, is 
recommended to us in these words : He that 
hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord ; 

Butler's Best Pa 153 

and in these of our Saviour, Verily I say unto 
you, inasmuch as ye have done it, relieved the 
sick and needy, unto one of the least of these My 
brethren, ye have done it unto Me. Beware you 
do not explain away these passages of Scripture 
under the notion that they have been made to 
serve superstitious purposes ; but ponder them 
fairly in your heart, and you will feel them to 
be of irresistible weight. Gladstone, ii. p. 394. 


The temper and behaviour of charity is 
explained at large in that known passage of 
St. Paul : Charity suffereth long, and is kind ; 
charity envieth not, doth not behave itself un- 
seemly, seeketh not her own, thinketh no evil, 
beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth 
all things. As to the meaning of the expressions, 
seeketh not her own, thinketh no evil, believeth 
all things however those expressions may be 
explained away, this meekness, and in some 
degree easiness of temper, readiness to forego 

154 Butler's Best Passages 

our right for the sake of peace as well as in 
the way of compassion, freedom from mis- 
trust, and disposition to believe well of our 
neighbour, this general temper, I say, accom- 
panies and is plainly the effect of love and 
good-will. And, though such is the world 
in which we live, that experience and know- 
ledge of it not only may, but must, beget 
in us greater regard to ourselves, and doubt- 
fulness of the characters of others, than is 
natural to mankind ; yet these ought not to 
be carried further than the nature and course 
of things make necessary. It is still true, 
even in the present state of things, bad as it 
is, that a real good man had rather be de- 
ceived, than be suspicious ; had rather forego 
his known right, than run the venture of 
doing even a hard thing. This is the general 
temper of that charity, of which the apostle 
asserts, that if he had it not, giving his body 
to be burned would avail him nothing ; and 
which, he says, shall never fail. 

The happy influence of this temper extends 

Butler's Best Passages 155 

to every different relation and circumstance in 
human life. It plainly renders a man better, 
more to be desired, as to all the respects and 
relations we can stand in to each other. The 
benevolent man is disposed to make use of all 
external advantages in such a manner as shall 
contribute to the good of others, as well as 
to his own satisfaction. His own satisfaction 
consists in this. He will be easy and kind to 
his dependants, compassionate to the poor and 
distressed, friendly to all with whom he has to 
do. This includes the good neighbour, parent, 
master, magistrate ; and such a behaviour 
would plainly make dependence, inferiority, 
and even servitude, easy. So that a good or 
charitable man of superior rank in wisdom, 
fortune, authority, is a common blessing to 
the place he lives in ; happiness grows under 
his influence. This good principle in inferiors 
would discover itself in paying respect, grati- 
tude, obedience, as due. It were, therefore, 
methinks, one just way of trying one's own 
character, to ask ourselves, Am I in reality 

156 Butler's Best Passages 

a better master or servant, a better friend, a 
better neighbour, than such and such persons ; 
whom, perhaps, I may think not to deserve 
the character of virtue and religion so much 
as myself? Angus^ p. 491. 


Every species of creatures is, we see, de- 
signed for a particular way of life ; to which, 
the nature, the capacities, temper, and quali- 
fications of each species, are as necessary as 
their external circumstances. Both come into 
the notion of such state, or particular way of 
life, and are constituent parts of it. Change 
a man's capacities or character to the degree 
in which it is conceivable they may be 
changed, and he would be altogether in- 
capable of a human course of life and human 
happiness ; as incapable as if, his nature con- 
tinuing unchanged, he were placed in a world 
where he had no sphere of action, nor any 
objects to answer his appetites, passions, and 

Butler's Best Passages 157 

affections of any sort. One thing is set over 
against another, as an ancient writer expresses 
it. Our nature corresponds to our external 
condition. Without this correspondence, there 
would be no possibility of any such thing as 
human life and human happiness ; which life 
and happiness are, therefore, a result from our 
nature and condition jointly ; meaning by 
human life, not living in the literal sense, but 
the whole complex notion commonly under- 
stood by those words. So that without deter- 
mining what will be the employment and 
happiness, the particular life of good men 
hereafter, there must be some determinate 
capacities, some necessary character and quali- 
fications, without which persons cannot but 
be utterly incapable of it : in like manner, 
as there must be some, without which men 
would be incapable of their present state of 
life. Angus, p. 88. 

Perhaps an infinitely perfect Mind may be 
pleased with seeing His creatures behave suit- 

158 Butler's Best Passages 

ably to the nature which He has given them ; 
to the relations which He has placed them in 
to each other ; and to that, which they stand 
in to Himself : that relation to Himself, which, 
during their existence, is even necessary, 
and which is the most important one of all : 
perhaps, 1 say, an infinitely perfect Mind may 
be pleased with this moral piety of moral 
agents, in and for itself, as well as upon 
account of its being essentially conducive to 
the happiness of His creation. Or the whole 
end for which God made, and thus governs 
the world, may be utterly beyond the reach 
of our faculties : there may be somewhat in 
it as impossible for us to have any conception 
of, as for a blind man to have a conception 
of colours. But however this be, it is certain 
matter of universal experience, that the general 
method of Divine administration is, fore- 
warning us, or giving us capacities to foresee, 
with more or less clearness, that if we act so 
and so, we shall have such enjoyments ; if so 
and so, such sufferings; and giving us those 

Butler's Best Passages 159 

enjoyments, and making us feel those suffer- 
ings, in consequence of our actions. Angus, 

P- 39- 


The objects and due extent of this affection 
will be understood by attending to the nature 
of it, and to the nature and circumstances of 
mankind in this world. The love of our 
neighbour is the same with charity, benevo- 
lence, or goodwill : it is an affection to the 
good and happiness of our fellow-creatures. 
This implies in it a disposition to produce 
happiness : and this is the simple notion of 
goodness, which appears so amiable wherever 
we meet with it. From hence it is easy to 
see, that the perfection of goodness consists 
in love to the whole universe. This is the 
perfection of Almighty God. Angus, p. 483. 

The Scripture, not being a book of theory 
and speculation, but a plain rule of life for 
mankind, has with the utmost possible pro- 

160 Butler's Best Passages 

priety put the principle of virtue upon the 
love of our neighbour, which is that part of 
the universe, that part of mankind, that part 
of our country, which comes under our im- 
mediate notice, acquaintance, and influence, 
and with which we have to do. Angus, 
p. 484. 

" O Almighty God, inspire us with this 
Divine principle ; kill in us all the seeds of 
envy and ill-will ; and help us, by cultivating 
within ourselves the love of our neighbour, 
to improve in the love of Thee. Thou hast 
placed us in various kindreds, friendships, 
and relations, as the school of discipline for 
our affections : help us, by the due exercise 
of them, to improve to perfection ; till all 
partial affection be lost in that entire universal 
one, and Thou, O God, shalt be all in all."- 
Angus, p. 496. 


Ill-will not only never speaks but never 

Butler's Best Passages 161 

thinks well, of the person towards whom it 
is exercised. Thus, in cases of offence and 
enmity, the whole character and behaviour 
is considered with an eye to that particular 
part which has offended us, and the whole 
man appears monstrous, without anything 
right or human in him, whereas the resent- 
ment should surely at least be confined to 
that particular part of behaviour which gave 
offence, since the other parts of a man's life 
and character stand just the same as they 
did before. Angus, p. 452. 


And as to the spirit of party, which un- 
happily prevails amongst mankind, whatever 
are the distinctions which serve for a supply to 
it, some or other of which have obtained in all 
ages and countries ; one, who is thus friendly 
to his kind, will immediately make due allow- 
ances for it, as what cannot but be amongst 

such creatures as men, in such a world as this. 


162 Butler's Best Passages 

And as wrath and fury and overbearing upon 
these occasions proceed, as I may speak, from 
men's feeling only on their own side ; so a 
common feeling for others as well as for our- 
selves, would render us sensible to this truth, 
which it is strange can have so little influence ; 
that we ourselves differ from others, just as 
much as they do from us. I put the matter 
in this way, because it can scarce be expected 
that the generality of men should see that 
those things, which are made the occasions 
of dissension and fomenting the party spirit, 
are really nothing at all : but it may be ex- 
pected from all people, how much soever they 
are in earnest about their respective peculiar- 
ities, that humanity, and common goodwill to 
their fellow-creatures, should moderate and 
restrain that wretched spirit. Angus y p. 492. 


If there be any probability of a misunder- 
standing in the case, either from our imagining 

Butler's Best Passages 163 

we are injured when we are not, or representing 
the injury to ourselves as greater than it really 
is ; one would hope an intimation of this sort 
might be kindly received, and that people 
would be glad to find the injury not so great 
as they imagined. Therefore, without knowing 
particulars, I take upon me to assure all 
persons who think they have received in- 
dignities or injurious treatment, that they may 
depend upon it, as in a manner certain, that 
the offence is not so great as they themselves 
imagine. We are in such a peculiar situation, 
with respect to injuries done to ourselves, that 
we can scarce any more see them as they really 
are, than our eye can see itself. If we could 
place ourselves at a due distance, i.e. be really 
unprejudiced, we should frequently discern 
that to be in reality inadvertence and mistake 
in our enemy, which we now fancy we see to 
be malice or scorn. From this proper point 
of view we should likewise in all probability 
see something of these latter in ourselves, and 
most certainly a great deal of the former. 

164 Butler's Best Passages 

Thus the indignity or injury would almost 
infinitely lessen, or perhaps at last come out 
to be nothing at all. Self-love is a medium 
of a peculiar kind in these cases it magnifies 
everything which is amiss in others, at the 
same time that it lessens everything amiss in 
ourselves. Angus, p. 452. 


Of a less boisterous, but not of a less 
innocent kind than the passion of anger, is 
peevishness, which I mention with pity, with 
real pity, to the unhappy creatures who, from 
their inferior station, or other circumstances 
and relations, are obliged to be in the way of, 
and to serve for a supply to it. Both these, 
for aught that I can see, are one and the same 
principle, but as it takes root in minds of 
different makes, it appears differently, and so 
is come to be distinguished by different names. 
That which in a more feeble temper is 
peevishness, and languidly discharges itself 

Butler's Best Passages 165 

upon everything which comes in its way, the 
same principle, in a temper of greater force 
and stronger passions, becomes rage and fury. 
In one the humour discharges itself at once, 
in the other it is continually discharging. 
This is the account of passion and peevishness, 
as distinct from each other, and appearing in 
different persons ; it is no objection against 
the truth of it that they are both to be seen 
sometimes in one and the same person. 
Angus, p. 440. 


It may be imagined that nothing but afflic- 
tions can give occasion for or require this 
virtue ; that it can have no respect to, nor be 
any way necessary to qualify for, a state of 
perfect happiness ; but it is not experience 
which can make us think thus. Prosperity 
itself, whilst anything supposed desirable is 
not ours, begets extravagant and unbounded 
thoughts. Imagination is altogether as much 

166 Butler's Best Passages 

a source of discontent, as anything in our 
external condition. It is indeed true, that 
there can be no scope for patience when 
sorrow shall be no more ; but there may be 
need of a temper of mind which shall have 
been formed by patience. For though self- 
love, considered merely as an active principle 
leading us to pursue our chief interest, cannot 
but be uniformly coincident with the principle 
of obedience to God's commands, our interest 
being rightly understood ; because this obedi- 
ence and the pursuit of our own chief interest 
must be in every case one and the same thing ; 
yet it may be questioned whether self-love, con- 
sidered merely as the desire of our own interest 
or happiness, can, from its nature, be thus abso- 
lutely and uniformly coincident with the will 
of God ; any more than particular affections 
can ; coincident in such sort, as not to be 
liable to be excited upon occasions and in 
degrees impossible to be gratified consistently 
with the constitution of things, or the Divine 
appointments. So that habits of resignation 

Butler's Best Passages 167 

may, upon this account, be requisite for all 
creatures ; habits, I say, which signify what is 
formed by use. However, in general it is 
obvious that both self-love and particular 
affections in human creatures, considered only 
as passive feelings, distort and rend the mind, 
and therefore stand in need of discipline. 
Now, denial of those particular affections, in 
the course of active virtue and obedience to 
God's will, has a tendency to moderate them ; 
and seems also to have a tendency to habituate 
the mind to be easy and satisfied with that 
degree of happiness which is allotted us, i.e. 
to moderate self-love. But the proper dis- 
cipline for resignation is affliction. 

For, a right behaviour under that trial, 
recollecting ourselves so as to consider it in 
the view in which religion teaches us to con- 
sider it, as from the hand of God ; receiving it 
as what He appoints, or thinks proper to per- 
mit, in His world and under His government ; 
this will habituate the mind to a dutiful sub- 
mission ; and such submission, together with 

168 Butler's Best Passages 

the active principle of obedience, makes up the 
temper and character in us, which answers to 
His sovereignty, and which absolutely belongs 
to the condition of our being, as dependent 
creatures. Nor can it be said that this is only 
breaking the mind to a submission to mere 
power ; for mere power may be accidental, 
and precarious, and usurped; but it is forming 
within ourselves the temper of resignation to 
His rightful authority, who is by nature 
supreme over all. Angus, p. 107. 

Resignation to the will of God is the whole 
of piety ; it includes in it all that is good, and 
is a source of the most settled quiet and 
composure of mind. There is the general 
principle of submission in our nature. Man 
is not so constituted as to desire things, and 
be uneasy in the want of them, in proportion 
to their known value ; many other considera- 
tions come in to determine the degrees of 
desire, particularly whether the advantage we 
take view of be within the sphere of our rank. 

Butler's Best Passages 169 

Who ever tclt uneasiness upon observing any 
of the advantages brute creatures have over 
us ? and yet it is plain they have several. It 
is the same with respect to advantages belong- 
ing to creatures of a superior order ; thus, 
though we see a thing to be highly valuable, 
yet that it does not belong to our condition 
of being is sufficient to suspend our desires 
after it, to make us rest satisfied without such 
advantage. Now there is just the same reason 
for quiet resignation in the want of everything 
equally unattainable and out of our reach in 
particular, though others of our species be 
possessed of it. All this may be applied to 
the whole of life, to positive inconveniences as 
well as wants ; not indeed to the sensations 
of pain and sorrow, but to all the uneasiness 
of reflection, murmuring, and discontent. This 
is human nature formed to compliance, yield- 
ing, submission of temper. We find the 
principles of it within us, and every one 
exercises it towards some objects or other, 
i.e. feels it with regard to some persons and 

170 Butler's Best Passages 

some circumstances. Now this is an excellent 
foundation of a reasonable and religious resig- 

Nature teaches and inclines us to take up 
with our lot ; the consideration that the course 
of things is unalterable hath a tendency to 
quiet the mind under it, to beget a submission 
of temper to it ; but when we can add that 
this unalterable course is appointed and con- 
tinued by Infinite wisdom and goodness, how 
absolute should be our submission, how entire 
our trust and dependence ! Angus, p. 508. 

Our resignation to the will of God may be 
said to be perfect when our will is lost and 
resolved up into His ; when we rest in His 
will as our end, as being itself most just, and 
right, and good ; and where is the impossibility 
of such an affection to what is just, and right, 
and good, such a loyalty of heart to the 
Governor of the Universe as shall prevail over 
all sinister, indirect desires of our own ? 
Neither is this at bottom anything more than 

Butler's Best Passages 171 

faith, and honesty, and fairness of mind, in a 
more enlarged sense, indeed, than those words 
are commonly used ; and as, in common cases, 
fear and hope and other passions are raised in 
us by their respective objects, so this sub- 
mission of heart and soul and mind, this 
religious resignation, would be as naturally 
produced by our having just conceptions of 
Almighty God and a real sense of His presence 
with us. In how low a degree soever this 
temper usually prevails amongst men, yet it is 
a temper right in itself ; it is what we owe to 
our Creator, it is particularly suitable to our 
mortal condition, and to what we should 
endeavour after for our own sakes in our 
passage through such a world as this, where 
is nothing upon which we can rest or depend, 
nothing but what we are liable to be deceived 
and disappointed in. Thus we might acquaint 
ourselves with God and be at peace. This is 
piety and religion in the strictest sense, con- 
sidered as a habit of mind, an habitual sense of 
God's presence with us, being affected towards 

172 Butler's Best Passages 

Him, as present, in the manner His superior 
nature requires from such a creature as man. 
This is to walk with God. Angus, p. 510. 


The nature of devotion or religious worship 
consists in the actual exercise of those affec- 
tions towards God which are supposed habitual 
in good men. He is always equally present 
with us, but we are so much taken up with 
sensible things that, " Lo, He goeth by me, 
and I see Him not ; He passeth on also, but 1 
perceive Him not." Devotion is retirement 
from the world He has made to Him alone ; 
it is to withdraw from the avocations of sense, 
to employ our attention wholly upon Him 
as upon an object actually present, to yield 
ourselves up to the influence of the Divine 
Presence, and to give full scope to the affec- 
tions of gratitude, love, reverence, trust, and 
dependence ; of which Infinite power, wisdom, 
and goodness is the natural and only adequate 

Butler's Best Passages 173 

object. We may apply to the whole of 
devotion those words of the son of Sirach, 
" When you glorify the Lord, exalt Him as 
much as you can, for even yet will He far 
exceed ; and when you exalt Him put forth 
all your strength and be not weary, for you 
can never go far enough." Our most raised 
affections of every kind cannot but fall short 
and be disproportionate, when an infinite 
Being is the object of them. This is the 
highest exercise and employment of mind that 
a creature is capable of. As this divine service 
and worship is itself absolutely due to God, so 
also is it necessary, in order to a further end, 
to keep alive upon our minds a sense of His 
authority, a sense that, in our ordinary 
behaviour amongst men we act under Him as 
our Governor and Judge. Angus, p. 510. 

God cannot approve of anything but what is 
in itself Right, Fit, Just. We should worship 
and endeavour to obey Him with this con- 
sciousness and recollection. To endeavour 

174 Butler's Best Passages 

to please a man merely, is a different thing 
from endeavouring to please him as a wise and 
good man, i.e. endeavouring to please him on 
the particular way, of behaving towards him 
as we think the relations we stand in to him, 
and the intercourse we have with him, require. 
Almighty God is, to be sure, infinitely 
removed from all those human weaknesses 
which we express by the words captious, apt 
to take offence, etc. But an unthinking world 
does not consider what may be absolutely due 
to Him from all creatures capable of consider- 
ing themselves His creatures. Recollect the 
idea, inadequate as it is, which we have of 
God, and the idea of ourselves and carelessness 
with regard to Him, whether we are to worship 
Him at all, whether we worship Him in a 
right manner, or conceited confidence that 
we do so, will seem to imply unspeakable 
presumption. Neither do we know what 
necessary, unalterable connection there may be 
between moral right and happiness, moral 
wrong and misery. Sincerity is doubtless the 

Butler's Best Passages 175 

thing, and not whether we hit the right manner, 
etc. But a sense of the imperfection of our 
worship, apprehension that it may be, and a 
degree of fear that it is, in some respects 
erroneous, may perhaps be a temper of mind 
not unbecoming such poor creatures as we are, 
in our addresses to God. In proportion as we 
are assured that we are honest and sincere, 
we may rest satisfied that God cannot be 
offended with us, but indifference whether 
what we do be materially, or in the nature of 
the thing abstracted from our way of consider- 
ing it, Good and Right, such indifference is 
utterly inconsistent with Sincerity. Steere, 
p. 7. 


As Christianity served these ends and pur- 
poses, when it was first published, by the 
miraculous publication itself, so it was intended 
to serve the same purposes in future ages by 
means of the settlement of a visible church, of 
a society, distinguished from common ones 

176 Butler's Best Passages 

and from the rest of the world by peculiar 
religious institutions, by an instituted method 
of instruction and an instituted form of 
external religion. Miraculous powers were 
given to the first preachers of Christianity in 
order to their introducing it into the world ; 
a visible church was established in order to con- 
tinue it and carry it on successively throughout 
all ages. Had Moses and the prophets, Christ 
and His apostles, only taught, and by miracles 
proved, religion to their contemporaries, the 
benefits of their instructions would have 
reached but to a small part of mankind. 
Christianity must have been in a great degree 
sunk and forgotten in a very few ages. To 
prevent this appears to have been one reason 
why a visible church was instituted ; to be, 
like a city upon a hill, a standing memorial to 
the world of the duty which we owe our 
Maker ; to call men continually, both by 
example and instruction, to attend to it, and, 
by the form of religion ever before their eyes, 
remind them of the reality ; to be the reposi- 

Butler's Best Passages 177 

tory of the oracles of God ; to hold up the 
light of revelation in aid to that of Nature, and 
propagate it throughout all generations to the 
end of the world the light of revelation con- 
sidered here in no other view than as designed 
to enforce natural religion. And in proportion 
as Christianity is professed and taught in the 
world, religion, natural or essential religion, is 
thus distinctly and advantageously laid before 
mankind, and brought again and again to their 
thoughts as a matter of infinite importance. 
A visible church has also a further tendency to 
promote natural religion, as being an instituted 
method of education, originally intended to be 
of more peculiar advantage to those who would 
conform to it. For one end of the institution 
was, that by admonition and reproof, as well as 
instruction, by a general regular discipline and 
public exercises of religion, the body of Christ, 
as the Scripture speaks, should be edified, i.e. 
trained up in piety and virtue for a higher and 
better state. Angus, p. 155. 


178 Butler's Best Passages 

And it is to be observed further, that as the 
nature of the case requires, so all Christians are 
commanded to contribute by their profession 
of Christianity to preserve it in the world, and 
render it such a promulgation and enforcement 
of religion. For it is the very scheme of the 
gospel, that each Christian should in his degree 
contribute towards continuing and carrying it 
on ; all by uniting in the public profession 
and external practice of Christianity ; some by 
instructing, by having the oversight and taking 
care of this religious community, the Church 
of God. Angus, p. 158. 

Christianity was left with Christians, to be 
transmitted down pure and genuine, or to be 
corrupted and sunk, in like manner as the 
religion of nature had been before left with 
mankind in general. There was, however, 
this difference, that by an institution of ex- 
ternal religion fitted for all men (consisting in 
a common form of Christian worship, together 
with a standing ministry of instruction and 

Butler's Best Passages 179 

discipline), it pleased God to unite Christians 
in communities or visible churches, and all 
along to preserve them, over a great part of 
the world ; and thus perpetuate a general 
publication of the Gospel. For these com- 
munities, which together make up the catholic 
visible church, are, first, the repositories of 
the written oracles of God ; and, in every age, 
have preserved and published them in every 
country, where the profession of Christianity 
has obtained. Hence it has come to pass, and 
it is a thing very much to be observed in the 
appointment of Providence, that even such of 
these communities as, in a long succession of 
years, have corrupted Christianity the most, 
have yet continually carried, together with their 
corruptions, the confutations of them ; for 
they have everywhere preserved the pure 
original standard of it, the Scripture, to which 
recourse might have been had, both by the 
deceivers and the deceived, in every successive 
age. Secondly, any particular church, in what- 
ever place established, is like a city that is set on 

180 Butler's Best Passages 

an hill, which cannot be hid, inviting all who pass 
by to enter into it. All persons to whom any 
notices of it come have, in Scripture language, 
the Kingdom of God come nigh unto them. They 
are reminded of that religion, which natural 
conscience attests the truth of ; and they may, 
if they will, be instructed in it more distinctly, 
and likewise in the gracious means, whereby 
sinful creatures may obtain eternal life ; that 
chief and final good, which all men, in pro- 
portion to their understanding and integrity, 
even in all ages and countries of the heathen 
world, were ever in pursuit of. And, lastly, 
out of these churches have all along gone forth 
persons, who have preached the Gospel in 
remote places, with greater or less good effect ; 
for the establishment of any profession of 
Christianity, however corrupt, I call a good 
effect, whilst accompanied with a continued 
publication of the Scripture, notwithstanding 
it may for some time lie quite neglected. 
Gladstone, ii. p. 279. 

Butler's Best Passages 181 


From these things, it may be worth observing 
by the way, appears the weakness of all pleas 
for neglecting the public service of the church. 
For though a man prays with as much devotion 
and less interruption at home, and reads better 
sermons there, yet that will by no means 
excuse the neglect of his appointed part in 
keeping up the profession of Christianity 
amongst mankind. And this neglect, were it 
universal, must be the dissolution of the whole 
visible church, i.e. of all Christian communities; 
and so must prevent those good purposes, 
which were intended to be answered by them, 
and which they have, all along, answered over 
the world. For we see that by their means 
the event foretold in the text which began in 
the preaching of Christ and the apostles, has 
been carried on, more or less, ever since, and 
is still carrying on ; those being the providential 
means of its progress. And it is, I suppose, 
the completion of this event, which St. John 

182 Butler's Best Passages 

had a representation of, under the figure of 
an angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the 
everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwelt 
on the earth y and to every nation, and kindred, 
and tongue, and people. Gladstone, ii. p. 281. 

But if these appendages of the divine service 
are to be regarded, doubtless the divine service 
itself is more to be regarded ; and the con- 
scientious attendance upon it ought often to 
be inculcated upon the people, as a plain 
precept of the Gospel, as the means of grace, 
and what has peculiar promises annexed to it. 
But external acts of piety and devotion, and 
the frequent returns of them, are, moreover, 
necessary to keep up a sense of religion, which 
the affairs of the world will otherwise wear out 
of men's hearts. And the frequent returns, 
whether of public devotions, or of any thing 
else, to introduce religion into men's serious 
thoughts, will have an influence upon them, in 
proportion as they are susceptible of religion, 
and not given over to a reprobate mind. For 

Butler's Best Passage- 183 

this reason, besides others, the service of the 
church ought to be celebrated as often as you 
can have a congregation to attend it. Glad- 
stone, ii. p. 409. 


The greater festivals of the church being 
instituted for commemorating the several parts 
of the Gospel history, of course lead you to 
explain these its several doctrines, and show 
the Christian practice which arises out of 
them. And the more occasional solemnities 
of religion, as well as these festivals, will often 
afford you the fairest opportunities of enforcing 
all those things in familiar conversation. In- 
deed all affectation of talking piously is quite 
nauseous : and though there be nothing of 
this, yet men will easily be disgusted at the too 
great frequency or length of these occasional 
admonitions. But a word of God and religion 
dropped sometimes in conversation, gently, and 
without any thing severe or forbidding in the 


184 Butler's Best Passages 

manner of it, this is not unacceptable. It leaves 
an impression, is repeated again by the hearers, 
and often remembered by plain well-disposed 
persons longer than one would think. Parti- 
cular circumstances too, which render men 
more apt to receive instruction, should be laid 
hold of to talk seriously to their consciences. 
For instance, after a man's recovery from a 
dangerous sickness, how proper it is to advise 
him to recollect, and ever bear in mind, what 
were his hopes and fears, his wishes and resolu- 
tions, when under the apprehension of death, 
in order to bring him to repentance, or con- 
firm him in a course of piety, according as his 
life and character has been. So likewise the 
terrible accidents which often happen from riot 
and debauchery, and indeed almost every vice, 
are occasions providentially thrown in your 
way, to discourse against these vices in common 
conversation, as well as from the pulpit, upon 
any such accidents happening in your parish, 
or in a neighbouring one. Occasions and 
circumstances of a like kind to some or other 

Hutler's Best Passages 185 

of these occur often, and ought, if I may so 
speak, to be catched at as opportunities of 
conveying instruction, both public and private, 
with great force and advantage. 

Public instruction is absolutely necessary, 
and can in no sort be dispensed with. But as 
it is common to all who are present, many 
persons strangely neglect to appropriate what 
they hear to themselves, to their own heart and 
life. Now the only remedy for this in our 
power is a particular personal application, and 
a personal application makes a very different 
impression from a common, general one. It 
were therefore greatly to be wished, that every 
man should have the principles of Christianity, 
and his own particular duty enforced upon his 
conscience, in a manner suited to his capacity, 
in private. Gladstone, ii. p. 413. 


But your standing business, and which 
requires constant attention, is with the body 

186 Butler's Best Passages 

of the people ; to revive in them the spirit 
of religion, which is so much declining. And 
it may seem, that whatever reason there be 
for caution as to entering into an argu- 
mentative defence of religion in common con- 
versation, yet that it is necessary to do this 
from the pulpit^ in order to guard the people 
against being corrupted, however, in some 
places. But then surely it should be done 
in a manner as little controversial as possible. 
For though such as are capable of seeing 
the force of objections are capable also of 
seeing the force of the answers which are 
given to them ; yet the truth is, the people 
will not competently attend to either. But 
it is easy to see which they will attend to 
most. And to hear religion treated of as 
what many deny, and which has much said 
against it as well as for it ; this cannot but 
have a tendency to give them ill impressions 
at any time, and seems particularly improper 
for all persons at a time of devotion, even 
for such as are arrived at the most settled 

Butler's Best Passages 187 

state of piety : I say at a time of devotion, 
when we are assembled to yield ourselves up 
to the full influence of the Divine presence, 
and to call forth into actual exercise every 
pious affection of heart. For it is to be 
repeated, that the heart and course of affec- 
tions may be disturbed when there is no 
alteration of judgment. Now the evidence 
of religion may be laid before men without 
any air of controversy. The proof of the 
being of God from final causes, or the design 
and wisdom which appears in every part of 
nature ; together with the law of virtue 
written upon our hearts : the proof of Chris- 
tianity from miracles, and the accomplish- 
ment of prophecies ; and the confirmation 
which the natural and civil history of the 
world give to the Scripture account of things, 
these evidences of religion might properly be 
insisted on, in a way to affect and influence 
the heart, though there were no professed 
unbelievers in the world ; and therefore may 
be insisted on, without taking much notice 

i88 Butler's Best Passages 

that there are such. And even their particular 
objections may be obviated without a formal 
mention of them. Besides, as to religion in 
general, it is a practical thing, and no other- 
wise a matter of speculation, than common 
prudence in the management of our worldly 
affairs is so. And if one were endeavouring 
to bring a plain man to be more careful with 
regard to this last, it would be thought a 
strange method of doing it, to perplex him 
with stating formally the several objections 
which men of gaiety or speculation have made 
against prudence, and the advantages which 
they pleasantly tell us folly has over it ; though 
one could answer those objections ever so 
fully. Gladstone, ii. p. 403. 


. . . Divinity, that being what I should 
chuse for the business of my life, it being, I 
think, of all other studies the most suitable 
to a reasonable nature. Steere y p. 12. 

Butler's Best Passages 189 


God, if He had so pleased, could indeed 
miraculously have revealed every religious 
truth which concerns mankind, to every in- 
dividual man : and so He could have every 
common truth, and thus have superseded all 
use of human teaching in either. Yet He has 
not done this : but has appointed that men 
should be instructed by the assistance of their 
fellow-creatures in both. Further : though 
all knowledge from reason is as really from 
God, as revelation is ; yet this last is a dis- 
tinguished favour to us, and naturally strikes 
us with the greatest awe, and carries in it an 
assurance, that those things which we are in- 
formed of by it are of the utmost importance 
to us to be informed of. 

Revelation, therefore, as it demands to be 
received with a regard and reverence peculiar 
to itself; so it lays us under obligations, of 
a like peculiar sort, to communicate the light 
of it. Further still : it being an indispensable 

190 Butler's Best Passages 

law of the gospel, that Christians should unite 
in religious communities, and these being in- 
tended for repositories of written oracles of God, 
for standing memorials of religion to unthink- 
ing men, and for the propagation of it in the 
world ; Christianity is very particularly to be 
considered as a trust, deposited with us in 
behalf of others, in behalf of mankind, as well 
as for our own instruction. No one has a 
right to be called a Christian, who doth not 
do somewhat in his station, towards the dis- 
charge of this trust ; who doth not, for in- 
stance, assist in keeping up the profession of 
Christianity where he lives. Gladstone, ii. 

P . 285. 


The great number of books and papers of 
amusement, which, of one kind or another, 
daily come in one's way, have in part occa- 
sioned, and most perfectly fall in with, and 
humour this idle way of reading and con- 
sidering things. By this means, time even 

Butler's Best Passages 191 

in solitude is happily got rid of, without the 
pain of attention : neither is any part of it 
more put to the account of idleness, one can 
scarce forbear saying, is spent with less 
thought, than great part of that which is 
spent in reading. 

Thus people habituate themselves to let 
things pass through their minds, as one may 
speak, rather than to think of them. Thus 
by use they become satisfied merely with see- 
ing what is said without going any further. 
Review and attention, or even forming a 
judgment, becomes fatigue ; and to lay any- 
thing before them that requires it, is putting 
them quite out of their way. Angus, p. 337. 

I Brutus never read but in order to make 
I himself a better man. Angus, p. 458. 


It must be acknowledged that some of the 
following Discourses are very abstruse and 

192 Butler's Best Passages 

difficult, or, if you please, obscure ; but I 
must take leave to add, that those alone are 
judges, whether or no and how far this is a 
fault, who are judges whether or no and how 
far it might have been avoided those only 
who will be at the trouble to understand 
what is here said, and to see how far the 
things here insisted -upon, and not other 
things, might have been put in a plainer 
manner, which yet I am very far from assert- 
ing that they could not. Thus much how- 
ever will be allowed, that general criticisms 
concerning obscurity considered as a distinct 
thing from confusion and perplexity of thought, 
as in some cases there may be ground for 
them ; so in others, they may be nothing 
more at the bottom than complaints, that 
everything is not to be understood with the 
same ease that some things are. Confusion 
and perplexity in writing, is indeed without 
excuse, because any one may, if he pleases, 
know whether he understands and sees through 
what he is about : and it is unpardonable for 

Butler's Best Passages 193 

a man to lay his thoughts before others, when 
he is conscious that he himself does not know 
whereabouts he is, or how the matter before 
him stands. It is coming abroad in disorder 
which he ought to be dissatisfied to find 
himself in at home. Angus^ p. 338. 


Now the fault referred to, and the disposi- 
tion supposed, in precepts and reflections con- 
cerning the government of the tongue, is not 
evil-speaking from malice, nor lying, nor bear- 
ing false witness from indirect selfish designs. 
The disposition to these, and the actual vices 
themselves, all come under other subjects. 
The tongue may be employed about and made 
to serve all the purposes of vice in tempting 
and deceiving, in perjury and injustice. But 
the thing here supposed and referred to is 
talkativeness ; a disposition to be talking, 
abstracted from the consideration of what is 
to be said, with very little or no regard to or 

194 Butler's Best Passages 

thought of doing either good or harm. And 
let not any imagine this to be a slight matter, 
and that it deserves not to have so great 
weight laid upon it, till he has considered what 
evil is implied in it, and the bad effects which 
follows from it. It is perhaps true, that they 
who are addicted to this folly would choose 
to confine themselves to trifles and indifferent 
subjects, and so intend only to be guilty of 
being impertinent ; but as they cannot go on 
for ever talking of nothing, as common 
matters will not afford a sufficient fund for 
perpetual continued discourse ; when subjects 
of this kind are exhausted they will go on to 
defamation, scandal, divulging of secrets, their 
own secrets as well as those of others, anything 
rather than be silent. They are plainly hurried 
on in the heat of their talk to say quite 
different things from what they first intended, 
and which they afterwards wish unsaid ; or 
improper things, which they had no other end 
in saying but only to afford employment to 
their tongue ; and if these people expect to 

Butler's Best Passages 195 

be heard ami regarded (for there are sonic 
content merely with talking), they will invent 
to engage your attention ; and when they have 
heard the least imperfect hint of an affair, they 
will out of their own head add the circum- 
stances of time and place, and other matters to 
make out their story, and give the appear- 
ance of probability to it ; not that they have 
any concern about being believed, otherwise 
than as a means of being heard. 

The thing is to engage your attention, to 
take you up wholly for the present time ; what 
reflections will be made afterwards is in truth 
the least of their thoughts. And further, when 
persons who indulge themselves in these liberties 
of the tongue are in any degree offended with 
another, as little disgusts and misunderstand- 
ings will be, they allow themselves to defame 
and revile such an one without any moderation 
or bounds, though the offence is so very slight 
that they themselves would not do, nor perhaps 
wish him an injury in any other way ; and in 
this case the scandal and revilings are chiefly 

196 Butler's Best Passages 

owing to talkativeness and not bridling their 
tongue, and so come under our present subject. 
The least occasion in the world will make the 
humour break out in this particular way, or in 
another. It is like a torrent which must and 
will flow, but the least thing imaginable will 
first of all give it either this or another direc- 
tion, turn it into this or that channel ; or like 
a fire, the nature of which, when in a heap of 
combustible matter, is to spread and lay waste 
all around, but any one of a thousand little 
accidents will occasion it to break out first 
either in this or another particular part. 
Angus, p. 393. 

There is some such a disposition to be 
talking, that an offence of the slightest kind, 
and such as would not raise any other resent- 
ment, yet raises, if I may so speak, the resent- 
ment of the tongue, puts it into a flame, 
into the most ungovernable motions. Angus^ 

P- 395- 

Let any one consider the various interests, 

Butler's Best Passages 197 

competitions, and little misunderstandings 
which arise amongst men, and he will soon see 
that he is not unprejudiced and impartial, that 
he is not, as I may speak, neutral enough to 
trust himself with talking of the character and 
concerns of his neighbour in a free, careless, 
and unreserved manner. There is perpetually, 
and often it is not attended to, a rivalship 
amongst people of one kind or another, in 
respect to wit, beauty, learning, fortune ; and 
that one thing will insensibly influence them 
to speak to the disadvantage of others, even 
where there is no formed malice or ill design. 
Since, therefore, it is so hard to enter into this 
subject without offending ; the first thing to 
be observed is, that people should learn to 
decline it ; to get over that inclination most have 
to be talking of the concerns and behaviour of 
their neighbour. Angus, p. 400. 

Upon the whole matter : if people would 
observe the occasions of silence ; if they would 
subdue the inclination to tale-bearing, and that 

198 Butler's Best Passages 

eager desire to engage attention, which is an 
original disease in some minds ; they would be 
in little danger of offending with their tongue ; 
and would, in a moral and religious sense, have 
due government over it. Angus, p. 402. 


Let us, then, suppose a man entirely dis- 
engaged from business and pleasure, sitting 
down alone and at leisure, to reflect upon 
himself and his own condition of being. He 
would immediately feel that he was by no 
means complete of himself, but totally in- 
sufficient for his own happiness. One may 
venture to affirm that every man hath felt 
this whether he hath again reflected upon it 
or not. It is feeling this deficiency, that they 
are unsatisfied with themselves, which makes 
men look out for assistance from abroad, and 
which has given rise to various kinds of 
amusements altogether needless any otherwise 
than as they serve to fill up the blank spaces 

Butler's Best Passages 199 

of time, and so hinder their feeling this 
deficiency, and being uneasy with themselves. 
Now, if these external things we take up with 
were really an adequate supply to this deficiency 
of human nature ; if by their means our capa- 
cities and desires were all satisfied and filled 
up ; then it might be truly said that we had 
found out the proper happiness of man, and 
so might sit down satisfied, and be at rest in 
the enjoyment of it. But if it appears that the 
amusements which men usually pass their time 
in, are so far from coming up to, or answering 
our notions and desires of happiness or good, 
that they are really no more than what they 
are commonly called, somewhat to pass away 
the time ; i.e. somewhat which serves to turn 
us aside from, and prevent our attending to this 
our internal poverty and want ; if they serve 
only, or chiefly to suspend, instead of satisfying 
our conceptions and desires of happiness ; if 
the want remains, and we have found out little 
more than barely the means of making it less 
sensible, then are we still to seek for somewhat 

200 Butler's Best Passages 

to be an adequate supply to it. Angus, p. 


Human creatures, from the constitution of 
their nature and the circumstances in which 
they are placed, cannot but acquire habits 
during their childhood, by the* impressions 
which are given them, and their own customary 
actions. And long before they arrive at 
mature age, these habits form a general settled 
character, and the observation of the text, that 
the most early habits are usually the most 
lasting, is likewise every one's observation. 
Now whenever children are left to themselves, 
and to the guides and companions which they 
choose, or by hazard light upon, we find by 
experience that the first impressions they take, 
and course of action they get into, are very 
bad ; and so consequently must be their habits 
and character, and future behaviour. Thus, if 
they are not trained up in the way they should 
go, they will certainly be trained up in the way 

Butler's Best Passa; 2OI 

they should not go ; and in nil probability will 
persevere in it, and become miserable them- 
selves and mischievous to society : which, in 
.t, is worse, upon account of both, than 
if' they had been exposed to perish in their 

On the other hand, the ingenuous docility 
of children before they have been deceived, 
their distrust of themselves, and natural defer- 
ence to grown people, whom they find here 
settled in a world where they themselves are 
strangers ; and to whom they have recourse 
for advice as readily as for protection, which 
deference is still greater towards those who 
are placed over them ; these things give the 
justest ground to expect that they may receive 
such impressions and be influenced to such a 
course of behaviour, as will produce lasting 
good habits ; and, together with the dangers 
before mentioned, are as truly a natural 
demand on us to train them up in the way they 
should go, as their bodily wants are a demand 
to provide them bodily nourishment. 

202 Butler's Best Passages 

Brute creatures are appointed to do no more 
than this last for their offspring, nature form- 
ing them by instincts to the particular manner 
of life appointed them, from which they never 
deviate. But this is so far from being the 
case of men, that, on the contrary, considering 
communities collectively, every successive 
generation is left, in the ordinary course of 
Providence, to be formed by the preceding 
one ; and becomes good or bad, though not 
without its own merit or demerit, as this 
trust is discharged or violated, chiefly in the 
management of youth. Gladstone, ii. p. 339. 


The unknown event, death. Angus, p. 18. 

We know not at all what death is in itself; 
but only some of its effects, such as the dis- 
solution of flesh, skin, and bones. Angus, p. 1 9. 

Nay, for aught we know of ourselves, of 
our present life and of death ; death may 

Butler's Best Passages 203 

immediately, in the natural course of things, 
put us into a higher and more enlarged state 
or lite as our birth does ; a state in which our 
capacities, and sphere of perception and of 
action, may be much greater than at present. 
For as our relation to our external organs of 
sense renders us capable of existing in our 
present state of sensation, so it may be the 
only natural hindrance to our existing, im- 
mediately and of course, in a higher state of 
reflection. The truth is, reason does not at all 
show us in what state death naturally leaves 
us. But were we sure it would suspend all 
our perceptive and active powers, yet the sus- 
pension of a power and the destruction of it 
are effects so totally different in kind, as we 
experience from sleep and a swoon, that we 
cannot in any wise argue from one to the 
other ; or conclude even to the lowest degree 
of probability that the same kind of force 
which is sufficient to suspend our faculties, 
though it be increased ever so much, will be 
sufficient to destroy them. Angus^ p. 31. 

204 Butler's Best Passages 


That which makes the question concerning 
a future life to be of so great importance to 
us, is our capacity of happiness and misery. 
And that which makes the consideration of it 
to be of so great importance to us, is the suppo- 
sition of our happiness and misery hereafter, 
depending upon our actions here. Without 
this, indeed, curiosity could not but sometimes 
bring a subject, in which we may be so highly 
interested, to our thoughts ; especially upon 
the mortality of others, or the near prospect of 
our own. But reasonable men would not take 
any further thought about hereafter, than what 
should happen thus occasionally to rise in their 
minds, if it were certain that our future interest 
no way depended upon our present behaviour; 
whereas on the contrary, if there be ground 
either from analogy or anything else, to think 
it does ; then there is reason also for the most 
active thought and solicitude to secure that 
interest ; to behave so as that we may escape 

Butler's Best Passages 205 

that misery and obtain that happiness in 
another life, which we not only suppose our- 
selves capable of, but which we apprehend is 
put in our own power. Angus, p. 37. 

Our posthumous life, whatever there may 
be in it additional to our present, yet may not 
be entirely beginning anew, but going on. 
Death may, in some sort and in some respects, 
answer to our birth ; which is not a suspension 
of the faculties which we had before it, or a 
total change of the state of life in which we 
existed when in the womb, but a continuation 
of both, with such and such great alterations. 

Nay, for aught we know of ourselves, of 
our present life and of death ; death may 
immediately, in the natural course of things, 
put us into a higher and more enlarged state 
of life as our birth does ; a state in which our 
capacities, and sphere of perception and of 
action, may be much greater than at present. 
Angus, p. 31. 

206 Butler's Best Passages 

We are led to consider this little scene of 
human life in which we are so busily engaged, 
as having a reference of some sort or other to 
a much larger plan of things. Whether we 
are any way related to the more distant parts 
of the boundless universe, into which we are 
brought, is altogether uncertain. But it is 
evident that the course of things, which comes 
within our view, is connected with somewhat 
past, present, and future, beyond it. So that 
we are placed, as one may speak, in the middle 
of a scheme, not a fixed but a progressive one, 
every way incomprehensible ; incomprehensible 
in a manner equally with respect to what has 
been, what now is, and what shall be hereafter. 
Angus , p. 141. 

Irrational creatures act this their part, and 
enjoy and undergo the pleasures and the pains 
allotted them without any reflection. But 
one would think it impossible that creatures 
endued with reason could avoid reflecting 
sometimes upon all this; reflecting, if not 

Butler's Best Passages 207 

from whence we came, yet at least whither we 
are going, and what the mysterious scheme, in 
the midst of which we find ourselves, will at 
length come out and produce ; a scheme in 
which it is certain we are highly interested and 
in which we may be interested even beyond 
conception. Angus, p. 142. 

Nothing which we at present see would 
lead us to the thought of a solitary inactive 
state hereafter : but, if we judge at all from 
the analogy of Nature, we must suppose, 
according to the Scripture account of it, that 
it will be a community. And there is no 
shadow of anything unreasonable in con- 
ceiving, though there be no analogy for it, 
that this community will be, as the Scripture 
represents it, under the more immediate, or, 
if such an expression may be used, the more 
sensible government of God. Nor is our 
ignorance what will be the employments of 
this happy community, nor our consequent 
ignorance, what particular scope or occasion 

2o8 Butler's Best Passages 

there will be for the exercise of veracity, 
justice, and charity, amongst the members of 
it, with regard to each other, any proof, that 
there will be no sphere of exercise for those 
virtues. Much less, if that were possible, is 
our ignorance any proof, that there will be 
no occasion for that frame of mind, or char- 
acter, which is formed by the daily practice 
of those particular virtues here, and which is 
a result from it. This at least must be owned 
in general, that, as the government established 
in the universe is moral, the character of virtue 
and piety must, in some way or other, be the 
condition of our happiness, or the qualification 
for it. Angus , p. 97. 


BRISTOL was the poorest of the English 
Bishoprics, the value not exceeding 400 
per annum ; and the promotion of Gooch 
(whose claims fell far short of Butler's) to 
Norwich was probably a low manoeuvre of 
Walpole's, who may have thought that the 
ascetic Rector of Stanhope was too unworldly 
a person to care for the poverty of his prefer- 
ment, or perceive the slight which it implied. 
But, if such were his calculations, the coarse- 
minded minister mistook his man ; and the 
letter, in which he acknowledged Sir Robert's 
announcement of his promotion, shows plainly 
that Butler understood his position, and was 
no way disposed to compromise it : 

STANHOPE, August 28, 1738. 

SIR, I received yesterday, from your own 

2io Butler's Letters 

hand (an honour which I ought very particu- 
larly to acknowledge), the information that the 
King had nominated me to the Bishoprick of 
Bristol. I most truly think myself very highly 
obliged to His Majesty, as much, all things 
considered, as any subject in his dominions ; 
for I know no greater obligation, than to find 
the Queen's condescending goodness and kind 
intentions towards me, transferred to His 
Majesty. Nor is it possible, while J live, to 
be without the most grateful sense of his 
favour to me, whether the effects of it be 
greater or less ; for, this must in some 
measure depend upon accidents. Indeed, the 
Bishoprick of Bristol is not very suitable 
either to the condition of my fortune, or the 
circumstances of my preferment ; nor, as I 
should have thought, answerable to the re- 
commendation with which I was honoured. 
But you will excuse me, Sir, if I think of 
this last with greater sensibility than the 
conduct of affairs will admit of. 

But without entering further into detail, I 

Butler's Letters 21 1 

desire, Sir, you will please to let His Majesty 
know, that I humbly accept this instance of 
his favour with the utmost possible gratitude. 

I beg leave, also, Sir, to return you my 
humble thanks for your good offices upon 
this, and all occasions ; and for your very 
obliging expressions of regard to, Sir, your 
most obedient, most faithful, and most humble 

Fitzgerald^ p. liii. 

Two letters to the Duke of Newcastle : 


BRISTOL, 5 Aug. 1750. 

MY LORD, I have this afternoon the 
Honour of your Grace's letter informing me 
of my Nomination to the Bishoprick of 
Durham, which I am sensible is the greatest 
Instance of Favour I could receive from the 
King. As I read in your letter, my Lord, 
my answer to it in my own Thoughts was, 
to return your Grace my humble Thanks for 
all your Favours, particularly for your kind 

212 Butler's Letters 

concurrence and assistances upon this occasion 
and the obliging satisfaction you take in the 
success of them. But when I came to the 
postscript and found a Command accompany- 
ing that nomination it gave me greater Dis- 
turbance of mind than I think I ever felt. 
Your Grace will please to remember that when 
you mentioned this to me near three-quarters 
of a year agoe, I made not a word of answer, 
but went on talking of other things, and upon 
your repeating the mention of it at the same 
time, just as I was going out of your Dressing 
Room, I told your Grace it did not admit 
of an answer. This my Silence, and this my 
Reply were owing to my being in so great 
a surprize as such a thing being asked of 
me beforehand that I durst not trust myself 
to talk upon the subject. But upon settling 
within myself what I ought to say, I proposed 
to wait upon your Grace, and let you know 
that I could not take any Church Promotion 
upon the condition of any such Promise or 
Intimation as your Grace seemed to expect. 

Butler's Letters 2 i : 

But before I had time for this I met the 
Archbishop who began as from you to talk 
to me of the affair, upon which I desired 
him to let your Grace know what I had 
purposed, as I now said, to tell you myself. 
My words, so far as I can remember were, 
that my Principles would not permit me to 
accept of any Promotion upon the condition 
of making any Promise or raising any Ex- 
pectation beforehand of giving away prefer- 
ment. After all this, my Lord, I had not 
the most distant suspicion but that if His 
Majesty would nominate me to Durham, 
your Grace would have permitted the Nomi- 
nation to come free. 

My Lord, the Bishops as well as the in- 
ferior Clergy take the Oaths against Simony, 
and as I should think an express Promise 
of Preferment to a Patron beforehand an 
express Breach of that Oath, and would deny 
Institution upon it, so I should think a tacit 
Promise a tacit Breach of it. I am afraid 
your Grace may think I have already said 

214 Butler's Letters 

too much, but as this affair that I am to 
give Dr. Chapman the first Prebend of 
Durham, is common Talk at Cambridge, and 
consequently will be so, if it be not already, 
wherever I am known, I think myself bound, 
whatever be the Consequence of my Simplicity 
and Openness, to add that it will be im- 
possible for me to do it consistently with 
my Character and Honour, since if I should, 
it would be understood (tho' your Grace and 
I know the contrary) to be done in con- 
sequence of some previous Promise, either 
express or tacit. I am, my Lord, in great 
Discomposure of mind upon this affair, and 
very unfit to write to your Grace. Yet I 
think it absolutely necessary to return your 
Grace an immediate answer by the King's 
Messenger, and I must also write to His 

So I hope your Grace will put a candid 
construction upon any improper expressions 
which may have 'scaped me. For I can 
have no Desire (and my present situation is 

Butler's Letters 215 

surely a Proof of it) to say anything or 
express myself in any manner disagreeable 
to your Grace, further than what my Prin- 
ciples may have obliged me to. 

I am, with the greatest Respect, your Grace's 
most obedient, devoted humble Servant, 


Your Grace recollects that if a Prebend of 
D. held by Com m becomes vacant by my 
Promotion it of course devolves to the 


HAMPSTED, Dec. ist, 1751 

MY LORD, I shall pay all the Regard to 
your Grace's Recommendation that I am per- 
suaded you yourself will think reasonable. 
But as I am altogether unacquainted with 
the character of the Person recommended I 
must desire a little time to inquire into it ; 
especially as I am inclined to think he is a 
stranger to your Grace. 

216 Butler's Letters 

I must likewise beg leave to add that 
Eglinham being a vicarage I cannot give 
leave of absence to any one who 1 myself 
shall present to it. 

I am, with the greatest Respect, my Lord, 
your Grace's most obliged, most obedient and 
most humble Servant, Jo. DURESME. 

Gladstone, ii. p. 431. 

GOOD SIR, When, or where, this will 
find you, I know not ; but I would not 
defer thanking you for the obliging satis- 
faction you express, in my translation to the 
See of Durham. I wish my behaviour in it 
may be such as to justify His Majesty's choice, 
and the approbation of it, which you (much 
too kindly, I suppose) think to be general. 
If one is enabled to do a little good, and to 
prefer worthy men, this indeed is a valuable 
of life, and will afford satisfaction in the close 
of it ; but the change of station in itself will 
in no wise answer the trouble of it, and of 
getting into new forms of living : I mean 

Butler's Lettc; 217 

with respect to the peace and happiness of 
one's own mind, for in fortune, to be sure 
it will. 

I am, etc. 
BRISTOL, Aug. 13, 1750. 

MY GOOD FRIEND, I should have been 
mighty glad of the favour of a visit from you, 
when you were in town. I thank you for 
your kind congratulations, though I am not 
without my doubts and fears, how far the 
occasion of them is a real subject of congratula- 
tion to me. Increase of fortune is insignificant 
to one who thought he had enough before ; 
and I foresee many difficulties in the station 
I am coming into, and no advantage worth 
thinking of, except some greater power of 
being serviceable to others ; and whether this 
be an advantage, entirely depends on the use 
one shall make of it : I pray God it may be a 
good one. It would be a melancholy thing in 
the close of life, to have no reflections to 
enUTtain one's self with, but that one had 

218 Butler's Letters 

spent the revenues of the bishoprick of 
Durham in a sumptuous course of living, and 
enriche'd one's friends with the promotions of 
it, instead of having really set one's self to do 
good, and promote worthy men ; yet this 
right use of fortune and power is more difficult 
than the generality of even good people think, 
and requires both a guard upon one's self, and 
a strength of mind, to withstand solicitations, 
greater, I wish I may not find it, than I am 
master of. I pray God preserve your health, 
and am always, Dear Sir, Your affectionate 
Brother and Servant, JOSEPH DUNELM. 

Fitzgerala y p. xcix. 


Summer oj 1751. 

I had a mind to see Auckland before I 
wrote to your Grace, and, as you take so kind 
a part in everything which contributes to my 
satisfaction, I am sure you will be pleased to 
hear that the place is a very agreeable one, 

Butler's Letters 219 

and fully answering expectations, except that 
one of the chief prospects, which is very 
pretty (the river Wear with hills, much 
diversified, rising above it), is too bare of 
wood ; the park not much amiss as to that ; 
but I am obliged to pale it anew all round, the 
old pale being quite decayed. This will give 
an opportunity, with which I am much pleased, 
to take in forty or fifty acres competently 
wooded ; though with that enlargement it will 
scarce be sufficient for the hospitality of the 
country. These, with some little improve- 
ments and very great repairs, take up my 
leisure time. 

Thus, Madam, I seem to have laid out 
a very long life for myself; yet, in reality, 
everything I see puts me in mind of the short- 
ness and uncertainty of it ; the arms and 
inscriptions of my predecessors, what they did 
and what they neglected, and (from accidental 
circumstances) the very place itself, and the 
rooms I walk through and sit in. And when 
I consider, in one view, the many things of 

220 Butler's Letters 

the kind I have just mentioned, which I have 
upon my hands, I feel the burlesque of being 
employed in this manner at my time of life. 
But in another view, and taking in all circum- 
stances, these things, as trifling as they may 
appear, no less than things of greater import- 
ance, seem to be put upon me to do, or at 
least to begin ; whether I am to live to com- 
plete any or all of them, is not my concern. 
Fitzgerald, Ixv. 


O ALMIGHTY God, Maker and Preserver of 
the world, Governor and Judge of all creatures, 
whom Thou hast endued with understanding 
so as to render them accountable for their 
actions, and capable of being judged for them ; 
we prostrate ourselves as in Thy presence, and 
worship Thee the Sovereign Lord of all, in 
Whom we live and move and have our being. 
The greatness and perfection of Thy Nature 
is infinitely beyond all possible comprehension, 
but in proportion to our capacities we would 
endeavour to have a true conception of Thy 
Divine Majesty, and to live under a just sense 
and apprehension of it, that we may fear Thee 
and hope in Thee, as we entirely depend on 
Thee : that we may love Thee as supremely 
good, and have our wills conformed to Thy 
will in all righteousness and truth ; that we 



222 Butler's Prayers 

may be thankful to Thee for everything we 
enjoy, as the gift of Thine hand, and be 
patient under every affliction as what Thou 
sendest or permittest. 

We desire to be duly sensible of what we 
have done amiss, and we solemnly resolve 
before Thee that for the time to come we will 
endeavour to obey all Thy commands as they 
are made known to us. 

We are Thy creatures by nature ; we give 
up ourselves to be Thy servants voluntarily 
and by choice, and present ourselves, body 
and soul, a living sacrifice to Thee. 

But, O Almighty God, as Thou hast mani- 
fested Thyself to the world by Jesus Christ; 
as Thou hast given Him to be a Propitiation 
for the sins of it, and the Mediator between 
God and Man ; we lay hold with all humility 
and thankfulness on so estimable a Benefit, 
and come unto Thee according to Thine 
appointment in His Name, and in the form 
and manner which He has taught us. 

Our Father, etc. 

Butler's Prayers 223 


Almighty God, by whose protection we 
were preserved the night passed, and are here 
before Thee this morning in health and safety ; 
we dedicate this day, and all the days we live 
to Thy service ; resolving that we will abstain 
from all evil, that we will take heed to the 
thing that is right in all our actions, and 
endeavour to do our duty in that state of life 
in which Thy Providence has placed us. We 
would remind ourselves that we are always, 
wherever we may go, in Thy presence. We 
would be always in Thy fear ; and we beg the 
continuance of Thy merciful protection, and 
that Thou wouldst guide and keep us, in all 
our ways, through Jesus Christ our Lord. 
Glads tone , ii. p. 428. 

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The Apostle Paul 













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CONTENTS. Adam Eve Cain Abel Enoch 
Jubal Noah Ham Nimrod Terah Abraham Lot 
Sarah Isaac Esau Rebekah Jacob Joseph 
Aaron Miriam Moses Moses the Type of Christ 
Pharaoh Balaam Joshua Achan. 

1 In every one of the sketches we are brought into contact 
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'Whatever sacred history has attributed to these old-time 
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CONTENTS. Gideon Jephthah and his Daughter 
Samson Ruth Hannah Eli Samuel Saul David, 
In his Virtues David, In his Vices David, In his Graces 
David, In his Services Jonathan Nabal Michal, 
Saul's Daughter Solomon, and a Greater than Solomon 
The Queen of Sheba Shimei Joab Absalom. 

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Whyte's pen. We read sketch after sketch with unabated 
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of edification, a power to hold and charm the reader, meet you 
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Heman Jeroboam The Disobedient Prophet Reho- 
boam Josiah Elijah Elisha Naaman Job Jonah 
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shazzar Esther Ezra Sanballat Nehemiah. 

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CONTENTS : Joseph and Mary Simeon Zacharias 
and Elisabeth John the Baptist Nicodemus Peter 
John Matthew Zacchseus Lazarus The Woman with 
the Issue of Blood Mary Magdalene The Mother of 
Zebedee's Children The Widow with the Two Mites- 
Pontius Pilate Pilate's Wife Herod that Fox The 
Penitent Thief Thomas Cleopas and his Companion 
Matthias, the Successor to Judas Iscariot Ananias 
and Sapphira Simon Magus The Ethiopian Eunuch 
Gamaliel Barnabas James, the Lord's Brother. 

' They form most delightful and instructive reading, and we 
cordially commend them to the notice of all students of the 
Bible. ' Liverpool Mercury. 

1 They are characterised by great earnestness, graceful in 
diction, and reveal a wealth of apt sometimes quaint illus- 
tration. ' Scotsman. 

' The literary style of the book is graceful, its tone is earnest, 
and altogether it is a good and readable volume.' Daily Free 

1 There are power, force, and beauty in every chapter, while 
the spiritual good to be derived from a perusal of this charming 
book cannot be calculated. Preachers and teachers in any 
future Bible study will be obliged to consult Dr. Whyte's work 
as a text-book.' Methodist Weekly. 

'Dr. Whyte's genius is fully manifest in these studies of 
character. They are fresh, spiritual, and searching.' Life of 



Post 8vo, Cloth Extra, Gilt Top. Price y. 6d. 



CONTENTS : Stephen Philip, Deacon and Evangelist 
Cornelius Eutychus Felix Festus King Agrippa 
Luke, the Beloved Physician Onesiphorus Alex- 
ander the Coppersmith Paul as a Student Paul appre- 
hended of Christ Jesus Paul in Arabia Paul's Visit to 
Jerusalem to see Peter Paul as a Preacher Paul as a 
Pastor Paul as a Controversialist Paul as a Man of 
Prayer Paul as a Believing Man Paul as the Chief of 
Sinners The Thorn in Paul's Flesh Paul as sold under 
Sin Paul's Blamelessness as a Minister Paul as an 
Evangelical Mystic Paul's great Heaviness and con- 
tinual Sorrow of Heart Paul the Aged Apollos Lois 
and Eunice Timothy as a Child Timothy as a Young 

' Much imagination and knowledge of men and their ways, 
and considerable artistic power, have gone to the making of 
these sketches, but they are in no case written for effect or as 
pulpit task work. Earnest purpose, ethical and spiritual 
passion breaks through at every point and vivifies the whole. 
They ought to be very widely read, and wherever read they 
will make the Bible more real and more profitable.' 

1 We stand right in the centre of each story, and feel all the 
tides of impulse and passion that are propelling the actors. The 
deeds, great and small, that make up the history are traced 
back to their most secret springs in the heart. One sees the 
whole thing to its innermost, and comes away with the lessons 
of it printed indelibly in the mind.' Christian World. 

1 Sixteen lectures, every one of them glowing with spiritual 
life and throbbing with evangelistic urgency.' Belfast Witness. 

'Far and away the most complete exposition of Bible 
Characters yet published.' Aberdeen Journal. 



Post Svo, Cloth Extra, Gilt Top. Price $s. 6d. 


CONTENTS : The Sower who went Forth to Sow The Man 
which sowed Good Seed in his Field, but his Enemy came and 
sowed Tares among the Wheat The Man who took a Grain of 
Mustard Seed, and sowed it in his Field The Man who cast Seed 
into the Ground and it grew up he knew not how The Woman 
who took Leaven and hid it in Three Measures of Meal The Man 
who found Treasure hid in a Field The Merchant Man who sold 
alt that he had and bought the Pearl of Great Price -The Man who 
went out to borrow Three Loaves at Midnight The Importunate 
Widow The Prodigal Son The Much-forgiven Debtor and his 
Much Love The Ten Virgins The Wedding Guest who sat down 
in the Lowest Room The Bidden to the Great Marriage-Supper, 
and Some of their Excuses The Man who had not on a Wedding 
Garment The Pharisee The Publican The Blind Lea 
Blind The Rich Man and Lazarus The Slothful Servant who 
hid his Lord's Money The Unmerciful Servant The Unprofitable 
Servant The Labourer with the Evil Eye The Children of Cap- 
ernaum playing at Marriages and Funerals in the Market-Place 
The Samaritan who showed Mercy Moses on the New Testa- 
ment Mount The Angel of the Church of Ephesus The Angel 
of the Church of Smyrna The Angel of the Cfflrch of Pergamos 
The Angel of the Cmirch in Thyatira The Angel of the Church 
in Sardis The Angel of the Church in Philadelphia The Angel of 
the Church in Laodicea. 

1 Dr. Whyte has placed all Bible students under an obligation by the pub- 
lication of this admirable series of Scripture studies.' Methodist rimes. 

' We know of no writer who can make more real the personalities of these 
Bible characters, or can bring home more vividly or helpfully the lessons 
of their words and deeds." Christian Guardian (Toronto). 

' The writing is so fresh and vigorous, the insight so piercing, the grasp 
of situations so firm, that the most diligent student of Scripture cannot 
fail to profit from Dr. Whyte's treatment of familiar themes,' Liverpool 

1 Each subject is handled with originality, freshness, skill, and sanctified 
scholarship. Need more be said I ' English Churchman. 

'This notable gallery of Scripture portraits. . . . The series will form 
a most instructive and valuable work wherewith to enrich our libraries.' 
The Baptist. 

'Among the most suggestive and useful contributions to practical 
divinity.' The Christian. 



Post 8vo, Antique Laid Paper, Cloth Extra. Prift 2r. &/. 



CONTENTS : Introductory Evangelist Obstinate 
Pliable Help Mr. Worldly-Wiseman Goodwill 
The Interpreter Passion Patience Simple, Sloth, and 
Presumption The Three Shining Ones at the Cross 
Formalist and Hypocrisy Timorous and Mistrust 
Prudence Charity Shame Talkative Judge Hate- 
good Faithful in Vanity Fair By-ends Giant Despair 
Knowledge, a Shepherd Experience, a Shepherd 
Watchful, a Shepherd Sincere, a Shepherd. 

'All lovers of the immortal allegory should get these 
*' Bunyan Characters," especially ministers, who would know 
men, and be soul-winners. Having read this book from cover 
to cover, we can say as Christian said when he left the gate of 
the Interpreter's house, "Rare and profitable."' Sword and 

' Dr. Whyte helps us to understand more vividly than before 
what manner of men were Obstinate, Pliable, Talkative, Faith- 
ful, Evangelist, and the like ; and the modern applications of 
that old story of the soul's quest are indicated by many subtle 
and suggestive comments which often touch to the quick the 
greater as well as the lesser issues of faith and conduct. There 
is both vigour and vivacity about the book, fancy and feeling, 
yet the tenderness is as conspicuous as the courage.' Speaker. 

' There is something in Dr. Whyte's special gifts which 
eminently qualify him for dealing with Bunyan or Rutherford, 
Dante or Law. . . . He has drunk deep of the spirit of the 
nobler Puritan theology, and has intense sympathy with it.' 
Primitive Methodist. 



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CONTENTS : Ignorance Little-Faith The Flatterer 
Atheist Hopeful Temporary Secret Mrs. Timor- 
ousMercyMr. Brisk Mr. Skill The Shepherd Boy 
Old Honest Mr. Fearing Feeble-Mind Great- 
heartMr. Ready-to-Halt Valiant-for-Truth Stand- 
fast Madam Bubble Gaius Christian Christiana 
The Enchanted Ground The Land of Beulah The 
Swelling of Jordan. 

1 Racy in style, varied in its contents, and pointed in its 
applications of the great Dreamer's fancies to the church-goer 
of our own day.' Critical Review. 

* Full of good things.' Christian World. 

' No higher praise, perhaps, could be accorded them than to 
say that they offer such a commentary on Bunyan 's parables as 
Bunyan himself would have delighted to read.' Guardian. 

' This completes the most beautiful and suggestive com- 
mentary on "The Pilgrim's Progress " ever written.' British 

'For strong, manly, reverent, and bracing exposition of 
spiritual life and conflict, it would be hard to beat these 
rambles through the Bunyan portrait gallery.' The Christian. 

1 It is refreshing to read these inspiring and helpful pages.' 
Canadian Methodist Review. 



Post 8tw, Antiquf T.aid Paper, Cloth Extra. Price zr. 6d. 



CONTENTS : ' The Holy War' : The Book The City 
of Mansoul and its Cinque Ports Ear-Gate Eye-Gate 
The King's Palace My Lord Willbewill Self-Love 
Old Mr. Prejudice, the Keeper of Ear-Gate, with his 
Sixty Deaf Men under him Captain Anything Clip- 
PromiseStiff Mr. Loth-to-Stoop That Varlet Ill- 
Pause, the Devil's Orator Mr. Penny-Wise-and-Pound- 
Foolish, and Mr. Get-i'-the-Hundred-and-Lose-i'-the- 
Shire The Devil's Last Card Mr. Pry well Young 
Captain Self-Denial Five Pickt Men Mr. Desires- 
Awake Mr. Wet-Eyes Mr. Humble the Juryman, and 
Miss Humble- Mind the Servant- Maid Master Think- 
Well, the Late and Only Son of Old Mr. Meditation- 
Mr. God's-Peace, a Goodly Person, and a Sweet-Natured 
Gentleman The Established Church of Mansoul, and 
Mr. Conscience, One of her Parish Ministers A Fast- 
Day in Mansoul A Feast-Day in Mansoul Emman- 
uel's Livery Mansoul's Magna Charta Emmanuel's 
Last Charge to Mansoul : Concerning the Remainders 
of Sin in the Regenerate. 

1 The book is quick with life and full of noble appreciation. 
The tenderness and irony, the spiritual fervour, and imaginative 
insight of many pages of this volume are startling.' Speaker. 

' We know of nothing more helpful to the student of Bunyan's 
work than these lectures, marked as they are by subtlety of 
analysis, scholarship, insight, and good sense.' Christian Age. 

' Shows Dr. Whyte at his best.' Keho Mail. 

' My Lord Willbewill, Old Mr. Prejudice, Captain Anything, 
Mr. Prywell, Mr. Wet-Eyes, and others, are hit off with a deft 
hand, and their present-day representatives are delineated with 
marvellous ability.' Sabbath School Teacher's Magazine. 

1 He helps us to see what was in the great dreamer's mind, and 
turns all that is in the book to practical purpose.' Critical 

1 He has never written with more vivacity.' Literary World. 



Sixth Thousand. Post Zvo, Cloth Extra. Price 2s. 6cf. 


CONTENTS : Joshua Redivivus Samuel Rutherford 
and Some of his Extremes Marion M 'Naught Lady 
Kenmure Lady Cardoness Lady Culross Lady Boyd 
Lady Robertland Jean Brown John Gordon of Car- 
doness, the Younger Alexander Gordon of Earlston 
William Gordon, Younger of Earlston Robert Gordon 
of Knockbrex John Gordon of Rusco Bailie John 
Kennedy James Guthrie William Guthrie George 
Gillespie John Fergushill James Bautie, Student of 
Divinity John Meine, Junior, Student of Divinity 
Alexander Brodie of Brodie John Fleming, Bailie of 
Leith The Parishioners of Kilmalcolm. 

' May this powerful and vividly written little volume be as 
highly appreciated and as widely circulated as it deserves.' 
Dr. HAY FLEMING in British Weekly. 

'The same brilliant and delightful literary power that has 
made "The Bunyan Characters" so real and living is here 
richly manifest, and so the choice spiritual treasures of the 
saintly Rutherford are here finely laid bare." Word and Work. 

'The Letters introduce us to various notable men and women 
who had the privilege of being this great man's correspondents.' 

1 Dr. Whyte may appear in these lectures intensely earnest 
and evangelical, but they also show him to be well endowed 
with literary graces and a keen sense of humour.' Scotsman. 

* An intensely interesting book.' British Messenger. 



Post 8w, Art Linen, Gilt Top. Price y. 6d. 

DEVOTIONS. A Biography, a Transcript, and 
an Interpretation. 

1 The book is a model of convenience and beauty, and reflects 
great credit on the publishers, more especially considering its 
small price. . . . The introduction is always forcible, and 
therefore readable, and the transcript seems to be well done, 
with a faithful adherence to the old phrasing of the English 
Bible.' Church Times. 

1 We regard this book as one of Dr. Whyte's most valuable 
contributions to the literature of his country and his time.' 
Presbyterian Witness (Halifax). 

1 An edition of Andrewes* " Private Devotions," which is as 
incomparable with other editions as the Devotions are incompar- 
able with other books of Devotion. First there is a biography 
of thirty well-stocked pages ; next there is an interpretation of 
thirty pages more ; and then the Devotions run to the end of 
the volume. And the volume is itself most artistically appro- 
priate.' Expository Times. 

1 A wonderful book, and the man who will take the hand of 
the sinning and penitent bishop will find himself led indeed into 
the inner courts.' Methodist Times. 

Crown Svo, Art Linen, Gilt Top. Price 31. 6d. 
BISHOP BUTLER. An Appreciation, with 
the best Passages of his Writings, selected and 

CONTENTS : Appreciation Butler's Best Passages : 
On God On the Love of God On Scripture On Con- 
scienceOn Reason On Character On Habit On Probation 
On the Passions On Means and Ends On Probability 
On Knowledge On our Ignorance On Riches On Charity 
On Happiness On Benevolence On Ill-will On Party- 
spirit On Misunderstanding On Peevishness On Resigna- 
tion On Devotion On the Church On Public Worship- 
On Pastoral Care On Pulpit Controversy On the Study of 
Divinity On Missions On Reading On Style On Talk- 
ativenessOn Amusements On Children On Death On 
the Future Life Letters Prayers. 



Crown 8vo, Art Linen, Gilt Top, -with Letter in Facsimile. 
Price y. 6d. 

NEWMAN : AN APPRECIATION. With the Choicest 
Passages of his Writings, Selected and Ar- 
ranged. The Appendix contains Letters not 
hitherto published 

* A more judicious, a more gracious or attractive introduction 
to the personality and the works of the great Cardinal could 
not be desired.' Bookman. 

'The selection from Newman's writings is about as repre- 
sentative as it can possibly be, and is quite the best we have 
seen. ' Church-woman. 

* Those who know the similar volume by Dr. Whyte on 
Santa Teresa will be eager to welcome his latest. Six hitherto 
unpublished and somewhat notable letters of the Cardinal's 
are here given to the public. Dr. Whyte is a true ' ' Newmanite," 
for he avows that the "Grammar of Assent" is his prime 
favourite, and a man's attitude towards the " Grammar " is the 
touchstone of his ability to appreciate the great Cardinal.' 
Church Review. 

1 Newman played a great part in the religious and ecclesi- 
astical life of England during the last century, but the young 
men who are now rising up do not know him or his writings, 
and this book will be useful as a compendium or an introduc- 
tion. The selections are sufficiently varied to show the range 
of Newman's activity and the beauty and adaptability of his 
style.' Dominion Presbyterian. 

'The book, in which the letters form an Appendix, is a 
frank appreciation of the great theologian's life and work, and 
it abounds not only with interesting criticism of Newman's 
development in view, but with hearty tributes to his un- 
equalled charm and mastery as a writer.' Pall Mall Gazette. 

'The introductory essays show a breadth of mind and a 
catholicity of spirit which are not common in writers on the 
Oxford Movement, and have the freshness of real enthusiasm. 
The selections ought to lead readers to further study of one of 
our great masters of English.' Athenaum. 



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Art Linen, Gilt Top, Price 2s. 


4 1 )r. Whyte has written an admirable appreciation oi 
]>chmen. It is perhaps the best thin^ he has yet published, and 
only those who know something of Behmen will do justice to 
the care and thoroughness with which the work has been done.' 
British Weekly. 

'A most impressive and delightful exposition of Behmcn's 
aims and aspirations and influence. 'Presbyterian Witness. 

'Dr. Whyte is at his best, and most characteristic, in this 
charming lecture.' Sunday School. 

' As in the case of others of the great mystics, there were two 
sides to Behmen's doctrine, one of which is of doubtful value 
and of very mixed character. Dr. Whyte gives an excellent 
appreciation of the better side, and does ample justice to the 
deep, devout spirit and extraordinary genius of this strange 
seventeenth century seer. He does it all with the fervour of one 
in full sympathy with the mind revealed in Behmen's writings.' 
Critical Review. 

Crown Svo, Art Linen, Gilt Top, Price 2s. 


AN APPRECIATION. With Some Characteristic 
Passages of his Mystical and Spiritual Auto- 
biography Collected and Arranged 

1 Dr. Whyte's facile pen seems to go on for ever, but some- 
how we never feel that he is writing too much, or that the 
quality is deteriorating.' Aberdeen Journal. 

' Dr. Whyte has been able to go straight to the heart of 
things. He has only seen in Father John the mystic, the saint, 
the lover of souls, the lover of Christ, himself so beloved that 
healing powers are given him for men's bodies as well as for 
their souls. Father John is alike unto the Cure d'Ars, but more 
manly, better taught, and one who lives as near to God.' 
Scottish Gttardian. 



Crown 8vo, Art Linen, Gilt Top. Price 2s. 

Some of the Best Passages of the Saint's 
Writings Selected, Adapted, and Arranged. 

1 Its author is a Presbyterian minister, but he has the Catholic 
quality that can recognise the good, reverence the holy, conceive 
the true, outside the limits of his own community. The Book is 
one of a very remarkable series, expressing in a high degree 
what we have termed catholicity of mind.' Speaker. 

* This appreciation takes the form of a lecture, and is full of 
interest.' Westminster Gazette. 

* The selections will come as a revelation to most readers, 
and cannot fail to lead to appreciation and a desire to know 
more of one who could write with such inwardness, yet absence 
of egotism. ' Scottish Congregationalist. 

Crown %vo. Art Linen, Gilt Top. Price 2s. 

With Some of the Best Passages of the 
Physician's Writings Selected and Arranged. 

' Dr. Whyte gives us a just and worthy appreciation of the 
noble character of Sir Thomas Browne.' Lancet. 

1 An appreciation in which scholarship and deep reverential 
feeling are attractively blended. Appended to the appreciation 
are selected passages from Sir Thomas Browne's writings.' 
Dundee Courier. 

* This eulogy on the author of the " Religio Medici " was very 
appropriately delivered as an inaugural discourse at the recent 
meeting of the British Medical Association, and it is followed 
by a series of extracts that should send the reader swiftly to the 
rich stores of prose-poetry to be found in the writings of Sir 
Thomas Browne.' Manchester Guardian. 

1 It presents certain aspects of Sir Thomas Browne with a 
keenness of perception and with a colour and truth of life and a 
warmth of appreciative sympathy that will greatly assist the 
reader to a real knowledge and increased enjoyment of one of 
the rarest and most delectable of minds.' Daily Free Press. 



283 ' 92 



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MAY 1 o / 

SEP M 1000? 

DEC II 10007 


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