Billeder på siden

orbit of order; so certainly will humanity eventually glide into the sphere of harmony and into the paths of eternal rectitude.

Humanity may be viewed from two positions: one affords pleasure, the other confusion ; one yields us a true estimate of the whole human family; the other, distracts our sympathies and seems to substantiate the theological theory of man's fallen nature.

The best Christian scholars obtain their worst impressions of man by constantly viewing him from unfavorable positions and in the most incongruous lights; whilst the rationalistic philosophers, having obtained more expanded and reasonable conceptions of things, contemplate the human family with increasing satisfaction. It may be illustrated by supposing two individuals going forth to examine a landscape. One takes his position at a point of observation from which the eye can survey the entire combination of objects, trees, rocks, flowers, mounds, mountains, lights, and shades, which serve to constitute the most captivating exhibition of beautiful scenery. The other, places himself in immediate contact with the constituents of the scene. We may now suppose that these individuals enter into conversation, through the agency of speaking trumpets, and commence describing what each actually observes and enjoys. The man from the distance, hailing the other who is in direct connection with the scene, asks: “What do you see?” He replies, “Oh, such discord and trouble! I wish myself away!" What, from that charming prospect ?” exclaims the man in the distance. “Indeed, I do," responds the other, “I can not advance a single step without wounding my limbs and lacerating my feet. Insurmountable rocks present themselves; and the narrow pass is overgrown with poisonous weeds and thorny vines. Rough and angular shapes are visible all around. When I look up, I can scarcely see the sunlight-so dense

[ocr errors]

and gloomy is the foliage. Even the birds have forsaken this dismal retreat. And the ravines seem so dark and miry, I think the serpents brood therein."

The other observer, not appreciating the troubles his friend thus enumerates, asks: “Do you not see any beautiful flowers growing along the path, and musical streamlets leaping through the thicket.”

“O, now that you speak of them, I confess I do,” responds the friend ; " but I can not enjoy any thing—my flesh is wounded, and my spirit is fatigued and repelled, by the constant effort to surmount craggy acclivities and thorny promontories. I will seat myself in this gloomy place,-though I much tremble to remain,—while you describe this repulsive scene as it appears to you from your stand-point.”

We may now suppose the man in the distance replying thus : “ Taking, as I do, a free and comprehensive view of the whole-made up, as it undoubtedly is, of the parts which you have just described—I must confess that I never beheld a more perfect exhibition of harmonious beauty. The parts may be exceedingly roughly hewn; but, to the over-seeing eye, the whole displays design, order, proportion, and variety. The dense foliage seems like swelling waves of green, about to burst from surplus life. The craggy rocks lend a variation and strength to the scene; while the topmost boughs of the stalwart vaks, just catching the rays of the rising sun, shed forth a subdued light over the surrounding objects; which no pencil can impart to canvas, or language describe. Do not,I pray thee,—do not condemn the parts when they are so manifestly essential to the final development of an harmonious Whole!"

So the case stands to-day between rationalists and supernaturalists. The former view humanity from a position which enables them to tolerate, to love, to protect, yea to admire, the parts or the Individuals, for the sake of the variety and grandeur of the whole ; while the latter—the clergymen of Christendom and their followers—knowing comparatively nothing of the grand scheme of existence, devote themselves to the defamation and classical execration of the minor particulars as the only method of altering the entire body to suit the expression they think it should wear. What would you think of an intelligent merchant tailor who had come to the popular clerical conclusion, that one pattern was truly ortho. dox; and insists that every body should wear the established size and shaped garment and no other ? What would you say? Would you alter your body to suit the pattern ? Or, the pattern to suit your body? “ The latter, of course,” you reply. Now, the supernaturalists say, that all should and shall wear their pattern. And all the trouble there is, between the pulpit and the people, arises from the theological cutting and carving of individuals in order to make the one orthodox pattern suit all degrees and shades of mind.

But Humanity is a Tree. Its roots begin far down in the constitution of Nature, where the Germ was originally deposited. It commenced its upward growth many ages since.

. It

grew onward in straight lines, until the period arrived for the putting forth of diverse branches. The lowest limbs were gigantic, replete with thorny projections, reaching far out into the air, casting deep shades on the earth. But the branches become smaller, and more beautiful, as the progression of refinement increases. The tree is not yet fully developed. But already the birds of heaven alight on its highest boughs, and the beams of the rising Sun—the bright herald of the approaching crisis-illuminate those tiny leaves, which, tremblingly, unfold their receptive vessels and lay their faces against the firmament.


In the present discussion, it is deemed proper to define the position which I at present occupy respecting it. My posture is that of a reviewer and spectator. A masterbuilder is now engaged in constructing a theological fabric. My business is to observe the process; to see whether any new principles of ethnological architecture are truly developed; to observe the timbers of thought as they are one by one adjusted ; to see whether the materials are sound and skillfully prepared; and to ascertain what the structure is good, for when completed. You will, therefore, perceive that I am not now at liberty to turn away, as my soul truly yearns to do, and unfold, to your mental vision and appreciation, the “house not made with hands," wherein reside the immortal truths and eternal revelations of the living God. But I must, as in the capacity of humanity's advocate, devote my present moments to a critical inspection of the somewhat new form of Conservatism which Dr. Bushnell is now giving birth toor the new theologic fabric which he is now erecting-on the old supernatural foundation.

“Know thyself, presume not God to scan;
The proper study of mankind is man."

On the broad, democratic, and rationalistic principle that “all scripture is given by inspiration,” I am moved to select the foregoing passage according to the inspiration of Alexander Pope.

This text requires no expounding; only a practical application. It comes to me, on this occasion, as being highly applicable to you all in general, and to the champions of Supernaturalism in particular. It is not necessary for me to undertake to convince you of the immense value of personal knowledge; to persuade you that moral and intellectual powers are proportionate to education ; or, that ignorance is the parent of what men term “sin” and misery. These are familiar facts; requiring no argument; suggesting no controversy. I will, therefore, proceed presently to show why this text is particularly applicable to supernaturalists.

The fourth lecture of the course, on supernaturalism, as opposed to naturalism, was delivered by Dr. B- on last Sabbath evening. His text was taken from the twentieth verse of the eighth chapter of Romans—as follows: "For the

creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope.”

The Lecturer considered this passage, when taken in connection with the brace of verses on either side of it, to embody the whole statement of man's relations and abandonment to the various kinds and degrees of sin, and also to the supernatural system of redemption, which God had introduced into this world for man's especial benefit and salvation.

The Lecturer showed himself to be quite at home in his profession, as Doctor of Divinity. Because, on announcing the text, he referred to the fact, that the passage had puzzled nearly all the English commentators as to its true signification. In his opinion, the three or four verses in that department of Paul's epistle to the Romans, had not as yet been properly apprehended or rendered. Consequently, although he presumed not to give the true interior and infallible import, yet he doctored the passages to suit his own preconceived impressions of truth, and made them read as follows.*

It is regarded as non-essential to an understanding of what succeeds, as the sequel develops the Lecturer's meaning.

« ForrigeFortsæt »