« ForrigeFortsæt »
preacher—the “D. D.”—that is, the man who doctors divinity—takes up “the wondrous tale,” and skillfully manufactures or compounds a system of sin, a system of redemption, and the absolute necessity for a systematic and regularly organized priesthood, in order to guide mankind from hell to the state of heaven. How much better would an organization of all kinds of industry be for the world!
But let us think of the idea. If God was under the necessity of making free powers, or human beings, at a tremendous risk of involving his moral universe in interminable troubleif he could not have created man without being "environed with the possibility of evil”—then, I inquire, where is the alledged Omnipotence of Jehovah ?
Or, if he could have made man, and could have prohibited even the “possibility” of sin, had he desired it—then, I inquire, where is the unutterable Goodness of Jehovah ?
Or, if he would have made man invulnerable to evil, had there been any possibility of so doing, consistently and compatibly with the moral state of free agency—then, I ask, where is the wisdom or the eternal and universal Omniscience of Jehovah ?
You may say that I have no right to question the Creator's wisdom or designs on these points; but should accept whatever he has done as the very perfection of wisdom and equity. Nay, not so. Because I am, in common with all my earthly brethren, made with the faculties for seeking and finding. I have reasons for believing, that, by asking for truth, I shall find it in due time. Besides, I am truly impressed that the Bible is a compilation of the thoughts, traditions, and opinions of imperfect and fallible men. The doctrine of sin, and the system of redemption, as conceived and elaborated by Dr. B-, was developed, not with the real Lord of Hosts, not with the real Divine Principle which enlivens and controls this immeasurable and harmonious universe; but I can see
by history, and otherwise, that it originated with human beings. Hence, I have a right, a heaven-born right, to question the origin and consistency of the scheme; and to expose its horrid and soul-harassing incongruities, too; because the development of republicanism and of mental happiness among men, depend, very much, upon the absence of these dogmatic compilations or fossil relics of an old Hebrew and Chaldean theology. They retard the car of progress; and trammel the higher faculties of thought. I will, therefore, presently proceed to explain the true origin and nature of evil. But let us now think of demonism. Dr. B., it
seems, has ventured to improve, to a considerable extent, upon the old Zoroasterian doctrine of a personal devil; which doctrine is frequently alluded to, or quoted, by the evangelists and other New Testament writers. He thinks the true idea of a devil is the generalization or combination of evil. All sins combined, organized, and then personified by the term, “Devil.” This religious reformation of theology is praiseworthy. It is the Rationalistic method. But Dr. Bedoes not seem quite so far advanced as the Persian author of the doctrine of a personal devil. Zoroaster said that the devil-called Arhiman-would, in the fullness of the dispensations of time, be completely transformed and converted, together with all his multitudinous subordinates, into perfect friends of the God of Goodness, Ormuzd. I think, that, if the Lecturer embraces one portion of this doctrine, he certainly should the other.
In the Scriptures we are told, that if we “knock, it shall be opened." All learned divines, so called, concur in the opinion, I beliere, that this language has an interior, spiritual, or correspondential signification of unusual scope and latitule. It means, eridently, that, whenever and whererer the honest and truth-loving mird finds a door, which promises to open upon a new territory or region of truth: it will certainly be *opened" unto him if he will but - kr.ock" thereon, with
the simple-mindedness of a child, and with the meekness and lucidity of wisdom. But Dr. B-declared or affirined that he would never consent to “knock,” when he became a disembodied spirit; because, forsooth, it was not sufficiently dignified and noble! When Jesus compelled the devils to flee into the herd of swine, it seems that the swine,-belonging probably to some laboring man,-ran off the precipice and were entirely destroyed. Now here was a real and absolute “destruction of property”—owing, not exclusively to the devils, but to the power which caused the devils to accomplish the named supernatural result. But Dr. B-. thought that the devils had “come out” of the swine again, and were now-a-days “knocking upon tables, chairs, writing upon turnips,” &c.; a matter, exceedingly repulsive to his feelings and scholastic notions. He did not, however, undertake to deny, that spirits do or can communicate in various ways with the earth's inhabitants. Now, it seems to me, and I express it with due deference to him, that Dr. B.--. would be a wiser and happier man, if he possessed more of that simple spirit so pre-eminently characteristic of Jesus; who told his followers—“seek and ye shall find: KNOCK and it shall be opened unto you.”
It is quite essential, my friends, that we keep definitely in our mental view, the precise and avowed object which this champion of supernaturalism has energetically set out to accomplish. It may be summed up in the well-known language of nearly all Christian scholars—commencing, somewhat conspicuously, with the celebrated Pollok, who, although he did not live to execute the extraordinary classical projection; yet conceived “A Review of Literature in all Ages, de. signed to show, that literature must stand or fall in proportion as it harmonizes with Scripture Revelation.” Dr. B-'s present effort is substantially the same in effect;
only differently stated and developed. It is still the scholastic and church idea of “harmonizing Nature with Revelation”-that is, possibilities with prodigious impossibilities; essential truths with the most overwhelming and minddeforming inconsistences.
Let us also bear in mind, that the present discussion is not pending between two individuals; whose education and opinions chance to be openly manifested and antagonistic. It is Humanity and mental Independence against a new form of dogmatic Conservatism. The latter has recently obtained an utterance through the mind and mouth of Dr. B; and the former, in the capacity of an independent spectator and thinker, has appeared in the various criticisms of the reviewer. I pray you, therefore, to elevate your thoughts above the local imperfections of the mere individuals engaged, to the end that you may scan, with a more clear and comprehensive vision, the merits and demerits—the proprium ingenium-of the great principles involved and unfolded in the discussion.
As you probably remember, the theological Luther of today, in developing his philosophical idea of unphilosophical things--I mean, in giving his reasons for the supernatural origin of sin and discord—said, that, although he was not designing, or at liberty, to discuss whether the race began with one man or with many types, yet he would take Adam as an Illustration. Accordingly, the first man was marshaled out on the theological ground; and then and there was viewed in the capacity of a pure, immaculate, but undisciplined and uneducated mind. The experiment of life was now to commence.” Adam was a “free power;" not subject to the reciprocal principles of cause and effect; neither to "mere mechanical force," as “things" manifestly are, in the domain of nature. He could not have known sin, said Dr. B.; for he was as yet quite inexperienced. Consequently, although the law of Right was sounding in his soul with all its original sym
phonies; yet he sinned_transgressed the law of God-and, there he stood, looking at himself in the “mirror of the law” -descanting on his own moral deformity—“and would not even look away,”—so conscious was he of blamable wrong. Thus, the tremendous “possibility of evil which surrounded the Deity in creating the powers,” was originated and actualized, so to express it, on the footstool. This was Dr. B's philosophical explanation of the origin of evil !
Disconnected and devoid of pure moral intuition and philosophy, as this explanation is; yet there appears enough to show the scientific and faithful historian, that the Lecturer listens more to the voice of oriental traditions than to the heavenattuned music of immortal Truth. O, that his vision could be expanded, from the individual, to a comprehensive idea of the solidarity of humanity! He is painfully distracted by the annoyances of isolated thought. The grand soul and sources of the human heart are measurably overlooked by the habit of gazing too particularly and constantly at minor points of character. He may ascend the highest eminence to view the surrounding landscape ; but the ineffable beauty and towering grandeur of the whole is lost, to the eye that sees only spears of grass and points of pins. Dr. B — is a a man of peculiar genius; suffering from certain internal fluctuations of feeling—a conflict, between the vigorous play of his moral sensibilities and his intellectual perception of truth and reason-causing him to draw a strange line of demarkation between Nature and Supernature ; and to depreciate humanity in the honest effort to urge a misinterpreted Christianity upon the rationalistic philosopher. Assisted by his genius, he occasionally mounts the heights of Thought, and employs a grotesque eloquence in speaking of man's strength and willingness to “pass through burning worlds” to maintain the Law of Right; nevertheless, just when a higher view of humanity is about to break forth from the quivering tongue, the eye