« ForrigeFortsæt »
show that it commends itself to every noble sentiment of the human breast, and to every worthy interest of human life. For it seems to me that upon religion we are growing wiser than our fathers, who were content with a train of human authorities, and that this age requireth religious truth to be justified, like other truth, by showing its benefits to the mind itself, and to society at large. The poets and the economists are quite alive to this advancement of the public mind, and alteration of the public taste, of whom the former address our imagination and our heart, the latter our interests ;-bases upon
which they have reared up by far the most rival influences to religion—the school of Sentiment, which holds of the former ; and the school of Politics, which holds of the latter. Now being convinced that besides a Creed, there is in our religion the most elevated sentiment, and the greatest advantage both public and private, I see not but we should fight and overthrow these rivals with their own weapons, by addressing their disciples upon that side on which their ear is open. For their ear is shut, and I hope the ear of all men is for ever shut, to the authority of names; and it is vain now to quote the opinions of saints or reformers, or councils or assemblies, in support of any truth. They even hold cheap our venerable theological language, though it can boast of great antiquity, and they insist upon its being translated into common phrases, that they may understand its meaning. And the misery is, they will not listen unless we gratify them in this reasonable request, but allow us to have our disputations 'to ourselves while we cover them with that venerable disguise. In order, therefore, to have a chance of a
hearing, I have refrained from systematic forms of speech, and endeavoured to speak of each subject in terms proper to it, and to address each feeling in language that seemed most likely to move it-in short, to argue like a man, not a theologian ; like a Christian, not a churchman.
It seems to me, my dear friend, that, like the Bota. nists, we should give up our artificial and adopt a natural method, of treating religion ; and, instead of steering wide among disputed questions, bear down at once upon the occupations of the heart and life of man. They care not for our controversial warfare, they laugh at our antiquated method of handling questions—and so they perish from the way of truth, because of the unintelligible signals that we hang out. For this noble purpose, of delivering the truth from a contemptible imprisonment, and enshrining it in the good feelings, good sense, and common weal of men, which, being unchangeable in their nature, are the only proper receptacles for the unchangeable truth of revelation, I know not among my clerical friends any one better qualified than yourself. Your general knowledge, your familiarity with the accurate methods of science, your estimation of divine truth, and, above all, your catholic spirit and emancipation from churchman or sectarian intolerance, present you to my mind as eminently fitted for bringing the public affection back again to the doctrines of re. vealed truth. I crave your forgiveness for saying so much; but my heart's desire is to see that thing in which the world is most interested, established before the world in the highest and most honourable style, in
order that it may have the chance of being held by the world in the dearest and the nearest place. I am,
My dear and worthy Friend,
In the bonds of the Gospel,
OF JUDGMENT TO COME.
THE PLAN OF THE ARGUMENT; WITH AN INQUIRY INTO RE.
SPONSIBILITY IN GENERAL, AND GOD'S RIGHT TO PLACE THE WORLD UNDER RESPONSIBILITY.
An Argument, or Apology, (for either of these words will denote that undertaking to which I now address myself in devout dependence upon Almighty God,) ought, as is the manner of ordinary judicial questions, First, to choose the tribunal before which the question is to be tried; Secondly, To define the exact point which is brought into issue ; and, Thirdly, To open up the line of argument or defence that is to be pursued. These preliminaries we shall now settle with our readers, before whose unbiassed judgments we are about to propound the merits of the most momentous question that ever came before them for a verdict.
The tribunal before which we choose to plead this most grave and momentous question, is the whole reason or understanding of man. Not his intellect merely, to which common arguments are addressed, but his affections, his interests, his hopes, his fears, his wishes,-in one word, his whole undivided soul. It is not with the intention of confusing his judgment, that we will endeavour to take his human nature upon every side, but because we think our case so important and so good as to solicit the verdict of every faculty which human nature possesseth. We feel that questions touching the truths of revelation have been too long treated in a logical or scholastic method, which doth address itself to I know not what fraction of the mind ; and not finding this used in Scripture, or successful in practice, we are disposed to try another method, and appeal our cause to every sympathy of the soul which it doth naturally bear upon. We shall speak, according as it suits the topic in hand, to the parts of human nature which the poet address
eth, to the parts of human nature which the economist addresseth, no less than to those which the logician addresseth. Nevertheless, after a logical method we shall do so; that is, we shall present before these affections of the mind our question in a fair and undisguised form, without fear and without partiality. Therefore, all we ask of our reader, who is our judge, is to have the eyes of his mind as much as possible unveiled from any prejudice, and the affections of his nature unrestrained by any ancient habit from moving with natural freedom to whatever may have charms in his eye. For the subject which we have to bring before him is one in which every faculty of his nature is interested, requiring imagination to conceive its ample bounds, judgment to weigh its justice, hope and fear to feel its consequences, and affection to embrace all the tender circumstances of its revelationeven the subject of Judgment to Come, which will decide, to every soul that readeth these pages, its destiny for ever
This subject, which we come next to define, after having chosen the tribunal before which it is to be agitated, is the whole matter of human responsibility and future judgment, as they are set forth in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. Our instruction, or our brief, to speak technically, is taken from the revelation of God, to which we would not willingly add one idea of our own, as we would not withhold, for the sake of easing the burden of our theme, any one idea which it contains. The revelation, the whole revelation, and nothing but the revelation, upon the subject of our responsibility, and our condemnation or acquittal, is the thing which we undertake to argue for, and to justify before every noble attribute of human nature.
We hold no question upon the authenticity of the revelation, which we take altogether for granted; we have ado with its matter only ; so that our business is not with the believer or the unbeliever, but with the man. Here is a certain future transaction revealed, as consequent upon a certain constitution of things, also revealed. We inquire not how nor whence it hath come ; we take it as we find it, and inquire whether it be a just thing and honourable thing, an advantageous thing to the nature and condition of those to whom it is known. We inquire not with respect to any save such as have had it revealed to them, because we think it is applicable to none besides. It is part of a system of revealed truth—the keystone, as it were, of the system, and cannot be applied but as a part of it. Therefore in justice it is not right, and cer