Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

Τ Η Ε

APPROACHING

CRISIS.

149

quil; and ultimately consented to pay quite cheerfully " to be blamed,” and to hear preached the diabolical and imaginative dogma.

The Lecturer said, he would like to see how a rationalist, who believed that all things and men were controlled by the laws of cause and effect, would bear the malicious taunts of an urchin who might be supposed to be thrusting a pin in the skeptic's back. That would be a case of “manifest misdi, rection,"as the rationalist defines sin. Would the rationalist regard it in the same light as he would the pricking of a splinter from the back of the pew? “No," said he, “the rationalist would blame the boy” as the self-determining cause of the disturbance, and disturb the congregation by his cries. To this I can only offer my own method of practicing the principles of a generous rationalism. In the first place, I should pity the urchin for being sufficiently unfortunate in his phrenological character to be capable of feeling like thus tormenting and disturbing another individual. In the second place, I should, without harboring any revengeful feeling, hreak up the immediate relations subsisting between the youth and myself, either by removing myself from the locality, or else the youth as the cause of the supposed uneasiness. To this matter the doctrine of supernatural blame does not apply; it is all cause and effect.

As another department of this inferential effort to prove the existence of evil, Dr. B. referred to the hypothetical fact, that every body is out of friendship with themselves,perpetually self-accusing and self-blaming; which was considered sufficient evidence of their internal guiltiness and inoral obliquity. A little real knowledge of the teachings of phrenology would have solved this problem. In nearly all cases of extreme self-condemnation or blame, it will be found that the individuals, thus affected, either have received, through hereditary descent, a defective mental constitution, or else,

1

are the victims of some atrocious system of ethics and theology. Daily walking about the streets, there is a man who believes he has committed the unpardonable sin! Of course, he is under constant self-accusation—as a being eternally condemned of God. Now, I ask, where did he obtain so horrid an idea ? Surely, not from his own sinful, depraved nature. Quite the contrary. He is a victim of Churchianitya mysterious and incomprehensible system, which Dr. B. is laboring to rescue from the approaching flood of intelligence and republicanism, which is hourly rising higher and higher against the combined forces of Christendom.

In the thirteenth century, there sprang up in Italy, and was thence propagated throughout almost all the countries of Europe, a denomination of Christians, called the WHIPPERS. Their theology, (like Dr. Bushnell's supernaturalism,) taught them to spurn, and dislike themselves, and to defame the human character in every conceivable manner. Persons of both sexes, and all ranks and ages, ran through the public streets with whips in their hands, lashing their bodies with the most astonishing zeal and severity, with the hope of obtaining, by their voluntary mortification and outward penance, the divine mercy and salvation for themselves and others. This sect taught, among other Christian doctrines, that flagellation was a virtue of equal magnitude with the baptismal ceremony and the other sacramental proceedings, and was called the baptism of blood! Now will Dr. Bassert that this flagellation was a proof that the people were internally conscious of deserving blame? My impression is, that he must assume this psychological position ; because his last discourse, which I am now examining, was as clear an instance of premeditated theological flagellation of the human soul as was ever instituted or practiced by the religious Whippers themselves.

The long pilgrimages, made by the pagan and early reli

us see.

gious sects, were regarded, by the Lecturer, as another evidence of instinctive sense of wrong or evil to be atoned for, through sacrificial agency. How superficial is this conclusion! Let

Mohammed, for example, esteemed Mecca as the horizon of his spiritual experience. He recommended it as such to his disciples. He loved the city and its beautiful retreats. It was his sacramental altar; the table upon which he first broke the bread and gave the wine to his conscientious followers. He did not command his people to make a pilgrim

. age to the city once a year. But those who lived in the days of Mohammed were first led to the sacred cave from their affection for its religious associations. The next generation considered it an established custom, forever to be observed ; the next, a duty, to be discharged at all hazards; the next, a penance, analogous to all religious ceremonies, quite indispensable to the eternal salvation and beatification of the soul! Thus, Dr. B-should have been more philosophical, and discovered a better explanation of the causes of self-condemnation and of self-imposed afflictions ; except in those cases where an enlightened conscience in reality feels offended.

I come now to another proposition : That sin exists because we forgive. All the impressions which I have received on that head, amount to this conclusion : that revenge and forgiveness are almost twin brothers ; born of the prolific parent, Ignorance. There is no such a thing, philosophically and properly considered, as forgiveness. A revengeful person is one who, from his peculiar temperament and organization, can not easily control his passions ; he gives blow for blowtakes an eye for an eye—and thus feels that the ends of justice, according to his definition, are at once fully and perfectly satisfied. But a forgiving person is one who feels injured; he feels offended, he feels you to be decidedly in his debt, and will long remember it; but he controls his passions, easily, and in a commendable degree, and says, “no matter, I

,

a

[ocr errors]

will not hurt you in return, my friend-Oh, no! I forgive you -I can speak words of kindness to you and feel them, too." Now, this is all the forgiveness which is at yet known or de. veloped in this world. The forgiving person smiles and stabs. We are told to speak kind words to those we consider our enemies; because, forsooth, those mild sentences “heap coals of fire upon the offender's head.” This is highly gratifying to the forgiving individual! He forgives in order to be all the more revenged. Now I am impressed to consider blame, revenge, and such forgiveness as the legitimate children of Ignorance. Forgive your enemies ; love them that curse you,” &c. ; but I thank God, that I can behold, in the approaching era, a more transcendent state of morals—a state, in which the pure and wise, and high-minded man can not be injured or offended! Nothing to forgive; for there is no offense! The noble parent does not feel offended at the little infant; though it might cause some dreadful accident or injury. Men and crimes are quite different things. The little bee makes honey; but, if molested, it will also sting.

I pass on to another proposition : That all government presupposes the existence of sin in the world. Here, again, I am moved to pronounce Dr.B-.in transparenterror. For governments manifestly presuppose the existence of ignorance, imbecility, and diversity of inclinations on the part of the people. An intelligent man, as already shown, is a law unto himself! A moral and well situated man needs no constables, no prisons, no gallows to keep him in the paths of rectitude and righteousness. Dr. B-. thought, that, granting the doctrine of cause and effect be true and applicable to man, children should be left to unfold in the family like flowers in the garden; giving forth their native odors, without the farce of family governments. But the fact, he thought, was quite to the contrary. He asserted that man was a self-determining power; that the family arrangements were made as a proof of the expectation of evil as a consequence or necessity of such freedom. This point I will not now dispute. For I behold mountains of ignorance in families and states as to the most effectual and salutary methods of developing and governing the individual. But I will simply remark, that, in a family where rationalistic spiritualism or the harmonial philosophy has displaced the church theology, and is truly practiced by the parents; the household regulations are arranged so harmoniously, and with so much liberty for the play of diverse individual inclinations, that the children can have an opportunity to be cultured like the flowers, and to unfold the sweeter elements of their being, without being molested by the horrid dreams of supernaturalism. A judi. cious and philosophical husbandman will fence in his gardens that no cattle or swine may disturb the growing vegetation ; even so the philosophical parent would put up a family gov. ernment for the purpose of protecting the inward harmony from unnecessary and unnatural molestation.

The other evidences of sin in the world, which Dr. Bconsidered under the head of Sarcasm and Tragedy, I am moved to pass by as requiring no special comment. In alluding to the passage in Shakespear, the Lecturer asked, whether “ Lady Macbeth would have exclaimed, in the agonies of a stricken conscience, •Out, damned spot!' if there were no “damned spot' which existed to smite her for her voluntary transgressions?” This question would appear in its true importance and legitimate force if I should ask :When a man, afflicted with a bad circulation of blood, retires, and falling asleep, is heard to labor with the idea that a vulture is upon his breast-commonly called the night-mare or incubus-would that man be thus troubled if there were no vulture there? The reader, I think, will apprehend my meaning. Dr. B— affirmed that Tragedy is a manifestation of, and contention between, right and wrong! While all

a

[ocr errors]

а.

.

« ForrigeFortsæt »