Billeder på siden

quite unrighteous and positively antagonistic to the cause of progressive Truth. First, because he introduces, and adopts his pre-arranged definition without in the least consulting for explaining the Rationalistic positions and definitions on the same head. Secondly, because he proceeds to argue, and to build upon, his own theological assumptions and foundation without demonstrating the said ground-plan to be the only reasonable and consistent one possible for the human mind to conceive and adopt.

It is very true, that Dr. B. did present what he supposed to be satisfactory and demonstrative evidences of the voluntary action of the supernatural system of God upon this world of effects and causation. But I have shown, I think, that no such evidences really exist. Hence he has nothing left but an imaginary or hypothetical formation-premises, in other words, which are derived principally from scholastic sources of theological speculation, and from certain scriptural suggestions. This method, for the reasons already stated, will never cure the world of skepticism. The natural constitutional instinct or intuition of the soul needs to be addressed ; and the Reason-principle must see, and the moral sensibilities must feel, the foundations of Truth.

Of the third discourse, which I am now examining, it may be truly said that it manifested considerable scholastic skill and power of intellectual conception. It contained several interesting and well-elaborated passages; indicated the existence of a subdued veneration in the producing mind; but it was no less free from the unskillful ridicule and unnecessary sarcasm which characterized the preceding lectures. There are times and places, undoubtedly, when a moderate expression of satirical thoughts may work a better temporary result than the soberness of common conversation or description. But in a philosophical dissertation, it seems to me that ridicule and sarcasm should not be permitted to appear, especially when and where pure and honest arguments are pre-eminently required, and earnestly sought by truthful minds. The latter alone constitute the moral and intellectual pabulum of truth-loving and reasonable persons.

Let us return to the text. The expression—"Lord of Hosts”-was understood to mean something more than the God or Spirit of Nature. It referred, it was asserted, to the supernatural system. It referred to a spiritual realm; where “exist kingdoms, and thrones, and powers, and principalities;" where there are every possible degree of spiritual life, and every conceivable shade of angelic and phase of seraphic existence. This realm was described at considerable length, by the Lecturer, in contradistinction to the fixed and immutable System of Nature visible about us; as the vast world, in short, where alone we are certain to find the throne and supernatural or moral government of God.

Now I am moved to inquire: How does Dr. B— know that there is any such a realm as he described, in the universe ? Has he seen through the dark and shadowy valley of death? Has a ray of immortal light, from the supernatural sphere, descended and awakened his interior understanding ? Or, has some enlightened dweller of the spiritual realm approached him in the midnight hour? Did it open his blinded heart? Did it lead him out beyond the changing earth, and point upward to the eternal Mind, that taketh knowledge of the falling sparrow and lights the illimitable universe with a kindling glory? If so; why does he not confess, that, like a new-born man into whose nostrils has just been breathed the breath of a higher life, he utters his convictions of the supernatural ? If not; then how does he know, how can he be certain, that any such a spiritual dominion exists as he described in his last discourse? Or, has he studied the universal laws of analogy, and the principles of correspondence? Does he base his conclusions upon the


psychological laws and constitution of man—upon the spiritual manifestations of this century? In a word, has he any new and reliable light by which to see the truths and principalities, the thrones and powers, of the celestial realm?

The negative reply is too distinct. He has received no fresh inspiration, but takes the old and superannuated Hebrew expression as authoritatively suggestive of the supernatural system; and then, amplifies the idea by using the speculative language of Paul concerning thrones, dominions, powers, and principalities; which, if the apostle ever beheld, he must necessarily have seen by the exercise of the same identical mental power of clear vision, which is denominated clairvoyance by modern investigators. Dr. B-. is manifestly seeing through the eyes and thoughts of ancient minds. He does not put sufficient trust in the “ten talents” which he, in common with all the earth's inhabitants, has inherited from the heavenly Father. He too plainly inters his capabilities within the sacerdotal tombs of antiquity. Scholastic education, which is another term for learned ignorance, has presided over the funeral, and now prevents a healthy resurrection.

Before inspecting the very few points contained in the discourse referred to, I will briefly direct your attention to the fact, that the ancient Hebrew conception of the “Lord of Hosts” is low and cramping to the benevolence and republican sentiments of the generous mind-especially, when practically believed. The Jewish God is cruel, capricious and tyrannical. His kingdom is more despotic, and more contracted in principle, than the present government of the Russian Empire. The earth's inhabitants, who first conceived of such a supernatural being, could not have obtained or entertained higher views of a Chief Ruler and directing power. Because they were living in the midst of Kings and Empires. Isaiah could only expand upon the idea of an earthly king, and upon a terrestrial empire; though he freed his conception as far as

possible of all the iniquities and unrighteousness, which pertained to earthly rulers and political governments about him. And so did all the Hebrews who were converted from the pagan sects.

The birds do not more naturally build their nests, or the mole dig into the ground, than does the human mind, in its unprogressed and unspiritual states, conceive of a King of Kings and a Lord of Lords, as residing in the mystical or unseen sphere. The Indian has a sachem; the patriach an omniarch ; the Hebrew King a Lord of Hosts ; the child-like mind a Heavenly Father. Now, according to my impressions and the testimony of history, the Old Testament idea of a Deity is the out-growth of the despotic stage of human mental development. It is the best idea which could in those times have been entertained ! and I am, with you, my friends, exceedingly disappointed that, in a philosophico-theological discourse of to-day, this superannuated monotheistic conception should be appealed to as a living Truth.

If there be in reality a “spiritual realm,”—not existing upon the reciprocal principles of cause and effect, in which resides the Lord of Hosts" with a system of government en

“” tirely different from the system of nature,—then it is time, it seems to me, that the earth's inhabitants should receive some substantial and unequivocal demonstration to that effect. That there is a Spiritual Universe co-eternal and co-extensive with the material universe, which the finite mind can measure or comprehend,--the two systems being inwrought and interblended perfectly, and universally harmonious, too, in their essential natures and governments,-is a truth, which has been fully and satisfactorily demonstrated to the earthpeople in various ways since the world began. This is the sacred conviction of the most enlightened rationalists. It is evidenced in the psychological laws of mind; in the laws of universal analogy; in the spiritual disclosures of the present


century; and, more particularly, in all the higher sciences and discoveries of modern times. Every thing evidently is conspiring to a single point,—to demonstrate, as it were, one infinite truth,--viz. : the stupendous oneness and harmonies of the entire universe! The best minds of the age begin to see and acknowledge that there can not possibly exist two independent and antagonistic systems of truth in one uni

But that harmony must reign co-equal and co-essential with the great all-animating principle, which is Deity.

My impression distinctly is, that Dr. B. would be less unfavorably inclined toward harmonial Rationalism, if his judgment was better acquainted with its fundamental positions and elevating teachings. His last lecture contained a few points of difference; but there was more antagonism, or positive conflict, in the terms employed than in the ideas. Indeed, the most of it was a species of literary bombardment

-a war of words-requiring, merely, an honest and dispas sionate comparison of ideas to soothe and restore every an tagonistic feeling to peace. For example : the idea of human progression throughout the spiritual universe was clearly enough set forth in the words––“ thrones, dominions, powers, and principalities,”—which correspond, measurably,

_ to the different shades and degrees of circles, societies, &c., . which the Harmonial Philosophy contemplates in the spirally ascending spheres of the spiritual universe. Again: the Lecturer's assertion, that all spirits, and angels, and seraphs

once subjected to the discipline, trials, temptations, and vicissitudes of the material world, is perfectly in accordance with the Rationalistic theory on that head. Hence, I repeat, that the pending war is, in several respects, altogether confined to language, which a little calm investigation on the Lecturer's part would soon change to the furtherance of truth and religious reformation.

Dr. B— declared his third lecture to be merely “inter


« ForrigeFortsæt »