By Ian Crowe
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Additional resources for An Imaginative Whig: Reassessing the Life and Thought of Edmund Burke
Burke may have done the same. If so, we should have to concede that Burke’s concept of God was not narrowly Christian. This need not mean, however, that Burke was insincere in his profession of Christianity. A belief that Hinduism was in some sense “true” need not exclude a belief that so too is Christianity. Some indication of what Burke may have meant by professing himself a Christian is recorded in a private document that, since it belongs to the last months of his life, represents his most mature thinking on the subject of religion.
40 ` DAVID BROMWICH excites our passions. Knowledge and acquaintance make the most striking causes affect but little. ”4 Burke, then, is interested in the nonrational motive that keeps us riveted to a scene of eruption or disaster, a scene of threatened or imminent peril from an agent capable of thwarting our will. His front rank of examples includes an earthquake and a hanging. But according to Burke, the human propensity to take up the position of a spectator at a catastrophe is not to be lamented as merely wicked or mischievous.
39 This document, of course, is not a “confession of faith,” but advice on how to acquire faith. 40 Taken by itself, it may be thought somewhat equivocal. Never intended as a statement of belief, its interpretation depends on the presuppositions with which it is approached. Nevertheless, some points are clear. Burke’s theism was 38. A Code of Gentoo Laws (London, 1776), xiii. 39. Quotations are from the manuscript (now at Sheffield Archives, Wentworth Woodhouse Muniments, Bk P 26/40), reproduced in facsimile in the Burke Newsletter 8, no.
An Imaginative Whig: Reassessing the Life and Thought of Edmund Burke by Ian Crowe