Изображения страниц

redemption, liable to the same objections, and presenting the same beauties, testify that they have come from the same God, and are tending to the same high development.

We are of the number of those who do not shrink from avowing the opinion, that the system of Christianity, as it has been held in the world, is capable of progressive improvements in the mode of its exhibition. This system, in the mind of the Son of God, was complete, and was so given to mankind. But we think that the world has availed itself fully of the scheme. No earthly being ever yet so well understood the laws of the mind as the Son of God; and the system as held by him was adapted to the true nature of created spirits, and to the regular course of things. But Christianity has often been attached to schemes of mental and moral philosophy as remote from the true one as "from the centre thrice to the utmost pole." Now, the improvement which we anticipate, is, that men will consent to lay aside their systems of mental science; and with them, much also of the technicalities of their theology-and suffer religion to speak in the words expressive of what Locke calls "large, round-about sense;" that they will be willing to inquire, first, what philosophy religion teaches, and then ask, if they choose, whether that philosophy is to be found in the schools. Could all the obstructions in the way of correct mental philosophy and natural science be at one removed, we have no doubt that the Christian system would be seen to fall at once into the scheme of material and mental things. Now this is the kind of improvement which we expect will take place in theology. An analogy could never be established between theology as it has been held, and the common course of events. Religion, as it has been often presented, has been unlike all other thingsso cold, distant, unliving, and formal, that we wonder not that men who have had tolerably correct notions of the laws of the mind and of facts, should have shrunk from it; nor do we

[ocr errors]

wonder that the preaching of no small number of ministers should have been fitted to make men Arminians, Socinians, or Deists.

We have sat down in pensive grief, when we heard from the lips of tyros in divinity (as the first message which they bring us) solemn and measured denunciations of reason in religion. We have asked ourselves, whence the herald has derived his commission to commence an assault on what has been implanted in the bosom of man by the hand of the Almighty? Has the book which he holds in his hand told him to utter unfeeling and proscriptive maledictions on all just views of mental operations? Has God commissioned him to summon the world to a rejection of all the lessons taught by the investigations of the mind, the decisions of conscience, and the course of events? Is the God who has hitherto been thought to be the God of creation and providence, coming forth in the old age and decrepitude of the world, to declare that the fundamental principles of civil society, the judicial inflictions of his hand, the lessons taught us in parental and filial intercourse, and in the reasonings of sober men with the eye upturned to heaven, have all been delusive; and that the new revelation is to set at defiance all that has been ascertained to be law, and all that the world has supposed to be just maxims in morals? We marvel not that thinking men shrink from such sweeping denunciations. do we remember that the ministry is often despised, the sanctuary forsaken, and the day-dreams of any errorist adopted, who professes to give them proper place to the inferences drawn from the government of God.


It is a maxim, we think, which should rule in the hearts of Christian men, and

"Most of all in man that ministers,

And serves the altar,"

that the world is to be convinced, that Christians are not of

[blocks in formation]

necessity fools. And, in doing this, we care not how much of sound reason, and true philosophy, and the analogies of nature, are brought into the sacred desk. The truth is, that religion sets up its jurisdiction over all the operations of mind. And the truth is, also, that those who have done most to vilify and abuse the use of reason, have been the very men who have incorporated the most of false philosophy into their own systems of divinity. It is not to be concealed, that the most ardent desire of the enemies of religion is that its ministers and friends should deal out fierce denunciations against reason, and set up the system of Christianity as something holding in fixed defiance all the discoveries of knowledge and all the schemes of philosophy. More than half the work of Atheism is done, if the world can be persuaded that Christianity contemplates the surrender of the deductions of reason, and the course of the world, into the hands of infidel philosophers; nor do we know a more successful artifice of the enemy of man, than the schemes which have been devised to effect such a disjunction, and to set up the Christian plan as something that stands in irreconcilable opposition to the course of nature and the just process of thought.

But, if the view which we have taken of this matter is correct, then all the works of God, far as the eye can reach, and far on beyond, are in strict accordance with the Christian scheme. One set of laws rules the whole; one set of principles reigns everywhere; one grand system of administration is going forward. Apparent differences between the Christian scheme and the course of events, are daily becoming rarer, and soon the whole will be seen to harmonize. The laws of mental action are becoming better understood, and are found to coincide more and more with the plain, unperverted declarations of the Bible. The laws of nations are growing more mild, tender, bloodless, and forbearing. The great principles of morals are laying aside the ferocity of the darker ages, disrobing them

selves of the principles of the Goth and the Vandal, and returning more and more to the simplicity of primeval lifeto the principles of Abraham, "that beauteous model of an Eastern prince, of David the warrior-poet, of Daniel the farsighted premier, of Paul the mild, yet indomitable apostle, and of Jesus the meek Son of God."

We anticipate that the order of events, and the deductions of reason, and the decisions of the gospel, will yet be found completely to tally; so that Christianity shall come armed with the double power of having been sustained by miracles when first promulgated, and when appearing improbable, and of falling in at last with all the proper feelings, and just views of the world. As one evidence that the world is hastening to such a juncture we remark, that the views entertained of moral character have undergone already a transformation. "What mother would now train her sons after the example of Achilles, and Hector, and Agamemnon, and Ulysses?" Other models, more like the Son of God, are placed before the infant mind. Society in its vast revolutions has brought itself into accordance, in this respect, with the New Testament. And we cannot doubt, that though the affairs of the church and the world may yet flow on in somewhat distinct channels, yet they will finally sink into complete and perfect harmony; like two streams rising in distant hills, and rendering fertile different vales, yet at last flowing into the bosom of the same placid and beautiful ocean. Men will go on to make experiments in geology, and chemistry, and philosophy, in order to oppose the Bible, till scheme after scheme shall be abandoned. They will frame theories of mental science, until they arrive at the scheme of the New Testament. They will devise modes of alleviating misery, until they fall on the very plan suggested more than two thousand years before them. And they will form and abandon codes of morals, until they shall come at last, in their international and private affairs, to the

moral maxims of the New Testament-and the world shall arrive at the conclusion, that the highest wisdom is to sit down like children at the feet of the Son of God.

And here we conclude by saying, that the men who promulgated this system were Galilean peasants and fishermen. They had indubitably little learning. They were strangers to the doctrines of the schools, to ancient and modern science, to the works of nature and of art. No infidel can prove that they knew more than the science necessary for the skilful management of a fishing-boat, or the collection of taxes. And yet they have devised the only scheme which turns out to be in accordance with the course of nature: a scheme which has survived the extinction of most others prevalent in their day, a system in advance still,—no one can tell how much,-even of our own age. Now it is a wellknown fact, that in the progress of discovery hitherto, no man has gone much in advance of his own generation. Society and science work themselves into a state for the discoveries which actually take place, and hence it happens that, about the same time, the same invention is often made on both sides of the globe. A controversy still exists respecting the discovery of the art of printing, and gunpowder, the application of steam, the invention of the quadrant, and many of the improvements in chemistry. We ask, then, how it has happened that these Galileans stepped over all the science of their own age; established a system in strict accordance with the course of nature; disclosed elementary principles of morals, entirely unknown to the philosophy of that age, and arrived at, in the history of man, only by long and painful experiments of many thousand years! Why, let the skeptic tell us, has not science struck out principle after principle, that could long since have been organized into a system which should accord with the constitution and course of nature? To our minds, the greatest of all miracles would be, that unaided and un

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »