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It was very
posed,” to bridge the channel between his previous definitions of nature and super-nature—to amplify and describe, in other words, the vast dominion of the spiritual realm, and consider it in relation to external nature and to man. plain that he was laboring to open a place to be hereafter filled by the supernatural system of redemption. He labored to harmonize his scholastic education and religious convictions with the known laws and constitution of nature. But he could not and can not succeed; for it is only the truth that can be made to appear harmonious and consistent.
It is now my impression to examine Dr. B—'s classification of what he termed—“ Things and Powers." It was asserted that “things” are created absolutely perfect
” at once; that they are incapable of further improvement or alteration; and are bound together by the fixed laws of cause and effect. “ Powers," on the contrary, are created with self-subsisting and self-directing force,-susceptible to eternal change and advancement; and confined to the action of no laws in particular, but responsible alone to the superlatural government and moral system of God. Things are :'nder law; powers are above law.” “Things belong to ature ; powers, to the spiritual realm." Things are in ondage to the system of nature; powers, are self-determinng and free agents." The foregoing are substantially the ositions assumed by Dr. B- But how obscure is all his! How unlike the universal testimonies of creation !
Where is the line of demarkation I ask-between the . mpire of things and the Hosts of powers ? Where do the 'perfect” and law-serving “things" cease to exist ? And where commences the universe of imperfect and disloyal powers ?
s ?” Surely, plants and trees can be and are daily improved; minerals can be greatly perfected; and brutes considerably educated. There is no evidence that a plant is more perfect than a man. The one may be a higher devel
opment than the other; but each creation may be perfect of its kind-alike, capable of being changed, deformed, or improved by the energetic play of external circumstances upon them. We want, therefore, the plain truth. We demand a clear definition of “things and powers,”_not a theological and romantic classification ; but a psychological, philosophical, and rational one, which shall be so truthful and so simple, that he who runs may read. Dr. B-alluded to his grand and soul-satisfying con
Bception of the spiritual kingdom, in comparison with the simple and low doctrine of rationalism; which teaches that all things and powers are subsisting upon, and controlled by, the unchangeable laws of cause and effect. Indeed ? Simple !” Does he admire the plain, unadorned teachings of Jesus? Surely, the simplicity of the Christian precepts and doctrines constitutes their principal charm and beauty. Truth, it appears to me, is always simple. Undeveloped minds invariably entertain mysterious and incomprehensible notions of almost every thing. But the comprehensive mind sees the unity and simplicity of Truth. Manifestly, it is quite unrighteous to generate prejudice, in the minds of the people, toward a matter of which they have no very definite knowledge; by comparisons, which amount in principle to mere ridicule, as based upon educational pride and repugnance to seeing new light in the developments of the current age. It is because Rationalism is so self-evident and reasonable that the human mind can easily comprehend and love its disclosures. As konesty clothes the good man, modesty the virtuous, and meekness the man of wisdom; so is truth robed in simplicity ; and, like the shining sun, its rays dissolve the mysterious clouds which obscure the heavens from our vision, and by its power the unity of the whole is distinctly revealed.
Evidently, Dr. B—'s definition of things and powers was derived from the Bible and from his own mental abstractions.
Had he contemplated the vast panorama of external nature; and then turned his eye in upon himself, and upon the psychological constitution of man; he would have obtained more truth and a better definition. As the matter now stands, I have nothing to comment upon in this department of his discourse. The classification of “things and powers” was wholly fictitious, and superinduced, in order to fix a foundation upon which to rest the doctrine of absolute “free agency" and the scriptural or supernatural system of redemption. As he did not appeal to nature and to human experience to support his definition, I, therefore, have nothing to examine or to analyze; because, I repeat, the whole matter was conceived and procreated in the fertile womb of superstition.
Again : Dr. B- revived the question of free agency. He asserted that all created “powers” are endowed with the ability to act from choice, consent, or will; and then proceeded to consider the various spiritual relations which are supposed to subsist between man and the Lord of Hosts. He thought man's will-power was perfectly unrestrained; and nothing was permitted to prevent the “ powers” from exercising their freedom, and receiving the consequences thereof, both here and hereafter. He thought a different view—the Rationalistic doctrine of universal dependencies and sympathetic relationships—would convert society, government, all laws, penalties, benefits, and the marriage relation, into unmeaning institutions. He said that these institutions were con structed on the universally admitted fact of man's moral freedom. And yet, Dr. B-. conceived the divine government
. to be acting just above the will. The Divine Will, with its inexorable principles of justice, "overlaid” the mental fac
". ulties of choice; and thus the Lecturer introduced or created a demand for the medicine of “ redemption” as a remedy for the soul's voluntary sins and iniquity.
In this elaborating conception, it must be acknowledged,
Dr. B—. manifested some originality of thought. Indeed, he exceeded the wisdom and assumptions of the Bible on this subject; and may, therefore, henceforth be denominated an “infidel”—at least to the views of the timid, good, and rigid orthodox members of the Connecticut Association. As the question of man's freedom was the principal point of his last discourse, I will proceed presently to briefly consider it.
I come now to another point-viz.: the Lecturer's idea of the origin of evil. It should, however, be constantly remembered that Dr. B. did not begin his inquiries in a state of mental freedom. This fact obscured his intellectual vision; and caused him to give a false coloring to nearly all the thoughts he presented. He is trammeled, according to my impression; like an artist whose mind can not operate independently of the “Old Masters." He does not start on his voyage of discovery like the intrepid Columbus, seeking truth only, in some heretofore undiscovered continent. Far from it. He sets out, like an engaged attorney, to argue the partial and particular case of his client. He must not see truth on the opposite side. He does not set forth with the noble resolution to follow truth wherever it may lead. But he has two things to accomplish—first, to find a place for a supernatural system, which he determines shall have a place somewhere: secondly, he must and will discover an intellectual method whereby to reconcile the plan of Christian redemption with personal wants, with the logical deductions, and sinful condition of the race, of man. That is to say, he will argue his side of the question exclusively as the side of truth. He must, therefore-in order to be judiciously Conservative, and sufficiently orthodox to pass current among the people-paint and tint his pictures in accordance with the great general plan pursued by the old theological writers and masters. This, alas, is not particularly and exclusively his besetting sin. The majority of men are thus sinful.
The Lecturer's philosophical idea of the origin of sin was truly a supernatural, or rather an unnatural, conception. He seemed to think that there was no particular danger in creating “things ;” but that the creation of “powers” was attended with the awful “possibility of evil;" that sin was a necessary concomitant of this branch of God's creation! Indeed, he thought that Omnipotence itself was “environed. by the possibility of evil” before the world began; and that, the divine Mind could not have created free moral agents or “independent powers” without bringing into existence, or without being under the necessity of tolerating, the blight known as sin. Sin, it was asserted, is a necessary, or rather a “possible,” consequence of such creations as men, spirits, angels, and seraphs. Thus, sin or evil is supernaturally derived and originated! Hence, it requires a supernaturally instituted plan to overcome the consequences of sin; and also to neutralize, as far as the system of “free moral” creations will permit, the terrible “ possibility of evil” which environed the Divine Being even before the creation of the world. Here, then, in the most scriptural and ingenious manner, Dr. B-opened a place in the affairs of men for the introduction, and for the indispensability, of the Christian plan of redemption. He derived all his fundamental suggestions from the Bible; but it is most evident, that in the subsequent conception and elaboration of this redemptional scheme, the Lecturer again out-generaled the wisdom of the Sacred Scriptures. The Bible does not so clearly assert, that God was ever environed by the possibility of evil in creating man. Nor that sin is supernatural—except, so far as Adam's transgression was a violation of an eternal command or law, to which was mysteriously attached eternal penalties. And even this doctrine of evil is principally the work of clergymen, as I shall demonstrate in the sequel. The Bible furnishes mythologic suggestions; and, then, the professional