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analyzation and discussion of the question proposed in your lectures. Will not the citizens of Hartford adopt some method which will secure to all parties an opportunity of free speech? Will they not obtain some large and commodious hall; and would you not, Sir, in such case, repeat the introductory lecture of last evening; because you therein lay the foundation broad and satisfactory, and in a manner so frank and truthful, that I would recommend its frequent repetition. I do not know that any persons would avail themselves of the liberty of speech proposed, and say any thing by way of criticism on the subjects involved in your discourses. I have at present no design to do so myself; but I simply ask, for the parties interested, that the same audience may hear the Pro and Con of the greatest question of this age. I know no other way to obtain a rational verdict. Very respectfully,
A. J. Davis.
The breadth and comprehensiveness of the greatest question of this age, and the bold, independent statement thereof by Dr. Bushnell in his introductory lecture, sent a thrill of pleasure through many truth-seeking and liberty-loving minds. And necessarily, the result of the foregoing letter was anticipated with no little interest. But no response was received. At the time the letter was penned, I had received no impression to write any discussionary criticism of the Lecturer's propositions. It was only after it became evident that no heed would be given to the above suggestion, that the interior direction came to me to proceed with a plain, unadorned examination of Dr. B-'s principal positions.
Many hundreds have listened with considerable interest, but with more anxiety, to the affirmative treatment of this high theme; whilst only a small portion of that number heard the analyzations, of the main arguments on that side, which constitute the contents of this work. Rationalism versus
Supernaturalism. This is the great religious question of the age. And considering the position of the church, and the condition of faith among the people respecting it, the subject has been approached and treated by Dr. B-. in a manner as fair and comprehensive as could be reasonably anticipated from that source. Yet he will perceive, it is believed, that a deeper and more candid examination must be instituted before those who have become accustomed to independent thinking, can, with a confiding mind, look to the pulpit for sound argument and practical reform.
The first lecture of his course was delivered by him on the 14th; the second, on the 21st of December, 1851; the third, on the 4th; the fourth, on the 18th; and the fifth, on the 25th of January, 1852. The course is supposed not yet completed. But the lectures, thus far, do not solve the most essential problems, which lie at the basis of what is termed,
Infidelity”; and, hence, it is deemed wisdom briefly to analyze the positions assumed, and state the various difficulties which threaten to prevent the solution undertaken.
The author attended the delivery of the lectures; but he has had no external access to the MSS. This Review is, therefore, wholly the result of an interior effort on the part of the author; and yet it is written in a style adapted to the popular understanding, being free from elaborate and tedious disquisitions.
Since the Norman conquest, there have been evident advancements made in every thing, except, perhaps, in supernaturalistic revelations. The seal of infallibility must be
before a new light and beauty can enliven and embellish the mystical disclosures of any seer, prophet, or evangelist; whose soul may be able to reflect the symbols of many truths. Owing to the dogmatism of infallibility, the Bible is taught now-a-days as it was nearly four centuries ago. And although very many minds have escaped from the
old faiths and creeds, and left the priests to their idols; yet the strength of popular or external sentiments is such, that the seceders are usually constrained to remain very quiet; and thus they pass in society for very good "lukewarm” Christians, unless, indeed, they have the courage to stem the central current, and establish a new form of worship. If so, they are likely very soon to become respectable, and antagonistic in their turn to those who may prefer a still greater latitude in their theological opinions.
It is confidently hoped that the talented mind, whose recent labors have suggested the succeeding criticisms, will find therein some points—or intended-to-be-points--of argument on his part, which may require much re-consideration, in order to subserve the objects for which his lectures were avowedly designed—viz. to remove doubt and skepticism from the rising generation, and give a new philosophic light to the rationalistic Christian. He may rest perfectly assured that no captious or merely controversial spirit has dictated this review. On the contrary, the present work is expressly and conscientiously designed to convince him, and the investigating world besides, that Spiritual Rationalistic positions are as invulnerable and satisfying as his doctrines are unsound and insufficient.
STRICTLY speaking, there are, and always have been, in this rudimental and undeveloped world, two classes of minds. One class, being improperly situated in society, and mentally trammeled and undeveloped, always love and reverence Custom more than Truth. The other class, being endowed with superior powers of mind, combined with social advantages and high conceptions of Justice, always find it easy to reverence Truth independent of Custom-nay, independent of the horrors of exilement or the keener terrors of the Vatican. The former desire custom to become Truth; the latter, Truth to become custom. The votaries of custom are invariably and universally the mightiest in numbers, and most always in power. Hence this party, being in the majority, universally rule the other portion of mankind; and determine, with an iron scepter, what the more truth-loving and advanced party shall do and believe.
The custom-serving mind is certain to oppose all attempts on the part of a truth-loving mind to assert its independence in matters of faith. Every effort,—no matter how quiet and wise it may be,—to break away from the multifarious restraints, which have held the church and the world in darkness and degradation for long centuries, are, by the vast majority, invariably condemned, precisely as the Pope censured Galileo, -as “absurd in itself, false in philosophy, and formally heretical, because declared and defined as contrary to Sacred Scripture !"
The Roman church is not the only earthly example of religious apprehensiveness and sectarian intolerance. Protestants love to draw comparisons between the Roman and the English church-showing, by means of contrast, the horrid deformity and intolerance of the one by holding up, before the people, the superior nature, organization, and liberties of the other. Now to this Protestant course I make no objection ; but, what I mean to teach is—that the two classes of minds alluded to are not necessarily churchmen; they are substantially the citizens of the world—a result, when philosophically considered, of the imperfections or rather gradations, consequent upon a universal system of progressive development in minds and morals. There must be low and high-intolerance and liberty—men and angels, stationed along the rectilinear, but spirally ascending, line of spiritual and material creations. The car of progress will roll speedily, determinedly onward; and you, my friends, may feel the utmost security in taking seats therein, because conservatism and intolerance are always ready, with their mighty strength, to press the “break upon the wheels," and prevent the sad, social and religious disasters which might otherwise occur. This pushing and pulling, this progression and retrogression, this fearlessness and cautiousness, are manifestly all incorporated with, and developed by, the universal providence of the Living God. In mechanism it is a well-known fact, that all motion is created and maintained by what has been termed a constant destruction of equilibriums. But unless these equilibriums are properly adjusted, the motion—proceeding from their successive and alternate disturbance—is defective and incapable of a useful application. The motion is good and useful only when the equilibriums are harmoniously arranged and disturbed. So also, the human race: when agitated by the improper arrangement of the progressive and conservative characteristics of mind, it is necessarily