Imágenes de páginas

give it influence by associating with it human power. Its true dignity and power are displayed in "casting down imaginations and every high thing," in bringing the prince and the beggar to sue for salvation on common terms, at a common mercy seat. This is a simple truth; but the world needs & practical demonstration of it, and this is the hour for the work. Such a demonstration would do more for the triumph of the gospel than the combined efforts of learning and power have done since the creation.


4. From all these causes would result a degree of elevation for the race which now exists only in idea-an elevation not of the laboring classes only, but of all. It would sweep away every vestige of fictitious greatness and establish human dignity and worth upon a substantial basis. Learning in its true nature is democratic; but it has been impressed into the service of aristocracy. Science divests the man of all adventitious claims and places him by the side of his fellow on a common platform. Immortality is its only patent of nobility. But science has been led blindfold in the track of wealth and power, and sees only with their eyes. While it should have been the teacher of the world, it has taken lessons from titled Ignorance and high-born Stupidity. Let it assert its prerogative, and it will do more than it has ever done. It will become the ally of humanity, and not of aristocracy. Under such teaching, the great names of the world will dwindle into insignificance, and men will laugh at the figure they have cut in doffing their hats to images of their own creation. Under such an influence would spring up a calm independence in the human soul, opposed alike to anarchy and despotism. The sceptre would drop from the hand of the tyrant. His charm would be lost, for he stands among equals. The military hero could rally none to his call, for all are heroes. Each man's happiness and life are as valuable as any other's. The political demagogue would find none to do his bidding, for men will cease to expect wonders from men. Their hope of elevation and of happiness will be in God and in themselves, and by their own well directed efforts they will prosper. Can any limit be set to the progress of the race when all these diverting influences shall have ceased to move, when every ignis fatuus of human society shall have given place to a true and steady light, and each shall pursue with unfaltering step the great end of existence? This is not the work of a day nor of a year. Its complete realization may be deferred for centuries. But if we read aright the prophecies of nature and of revelation that day must come.


Brother! would you aid in hastening the triumph? Spurn the bribe which aristocratic learning holds out to you, and consent to be known simply as a man. Gather knowledge from every source, but consecrate that knowledge upon the altar of human well-being. Put on the garb of a laborer, and live and die among those whose destiny it is to work. Let their joys and sorrows be yours. Do this, not for their sake alone, but for your own. You will thus be not only a more useful man, but a better one. You will not only elevate others, but you will yourself attain a height of excellence otherwise unattainable. Though to the world you seem to do nothing more than others, the precious seed shall take root, and another generation shall "shout the harvest home."

But how shall this work begin, and who shall begin it? The work is already begun. The outside distinction between the learned and the unlearned is fast disappearing. It is no longer taken for granted that every man that is capable of instructing his neighbors must set himself up to teach professionally. Many may be found in a laborer's dress who would do honor to any profession, and while the "Learned Blacksmith" lives it will be no disgrace to be soiled by the dust of the anvil.Though that man had never electrified the nation with his pen, or charmed the eager throng with his living voice, yet his path on earth would have been a path of light. His name would have been embalmed in the world's memory. With the mention of that name, the father shall cheer his son as they bend to their toil. Their heart shall be elevated and their arm nerved with double energy as they hammer the iron. The scholar who, with the Roman orator, has been wont to despise the laborer, shall pass the workman's shop with a deeper sympathy for him that toils within. He has a brother there. He shall find on every side of him sacred things, as if he were walking amid the shades of Academus, or on the banks of the Tiber. It is not too late to share in such a blessed work.

All can not be Burritts. Such gifts are rare. But the spirit that animates him may find a place in every soul, and under its influence, that soul will expand until its powers far transcend its present aspirations. The work is begun and no human hand can stay it. Labor is to be elevated, and, willingly or unwillingly, we must lend our aid. It is not the scheme of any human mind: it is the fiat of God and of nature. He who shall catch a glimpse of the plan, and take the place assigned him, shall share in the rich inheritance, and those who resist shall make others wiser by their ruin.

A Philosophical Inquiry concerning Human Liberty.



[By Pres. A. Mahan.]

WE here introduce our readers to an ancient book, a book which had no small celebrity in its day. The volume which lies before us was printed some ninety-six years since, and being itself of the fourth edition, we may reasonably suppose, that the original work was published much earlier. The author is by no means "unknown to fame." Among the great minds, fatally disordered however, in a moral point of view, that arose during the last two or three centuries, to darken the intellectual and spiritual horizon with the worse than pestilential vapours of Infidelity and Scepticism, he occupied a somewhat conspicuous place. Judging from the work before us, and few subjects present a more certain and practical test of real intellectual power than that here treated of, we should infer that the author possessed a mind of no common mould. By the side of the immortal work of Edwards on the same subject, it may be placed, without suffering in the comparison. In the following particulars, the work of Collins has a decided superiority over that of Edwards:

1. Perspicuity and conciseness. While the work of the latter is not a little distinguished for its obscurity, that of the former is equally characterised by perspicuity. We have read but few treatises on any metaphysical subject that possessed this merit in a higher degree. We are never, whether the author utters truth or error, at a loss in respect to his real meaning. What Edwards also has spread over a large volume of several hundred pages, Collins, with equal force, and far greater perspicuity, has condensed within the compass of a small volume of one hundred and fifteen pages.

2. While the former work was written much earlier, it has completely anticipated the arguments presented in the latter in favor of the same dogma, and has presented these arguments with far greater clearness and conciseness, and with equal, if not greater force.

"In this view of the subject," says Mr. Dugal Stewart "and indeed in the very selection of his premises, it is remarkable how completely Collins has anticipated Dr. Jonathan Edwards, the most celebrated, and indisputably the ablest champion, in later times of the scheme of neces

sity. The coincidence is so perfect, that the outline given by the former of the plan of his work might have served with equal propriety as a preface to that of the latter."

We here venture the expression of the opinion, that had Edwards been a sceptic, and Collins a christian theologian, the work of the former, instead of that of the latter would long since have sunk into comparative oblivion; while that of the former would to this day occupy the wide place in public estimation which the latter does. "So much do circumstances tend to make us what we are."

3. Another superiority which the work of Collins has over that of Edwards, is consistency. Good men are never consistent in error. Fundamental error of every kind leads to consequences from which the truly good shrink back with instinctive horror. They may adopt principles which legitimately lead to such consequences; yet they will never admit those consequences, nor their connection with the principles necessitating their adoption. A good man, for example, may hold principles utterly subversive of moral obligation, and consequently of sin and holiness; yet he will never deny moral obligation, nor hold principles admitting the fact, that they, in reality, are subversive of moral good and evil. Here not unfrequently lies the inconsistency of good men. They will hold principles necessitating certain conclusions, while they will not only deny the conclusions, but also the connection between the principles and the conclusions. With bad men such inconsistencies disappear. They love the conclusions to which error leads, and adopt error on their account. These remarks are strikingly illustrated in the works before us. Edwards was eminently a good man. Collins was a bad man, that is, he was an infidel, a sceptic, and infidelity and scepticism can exist only as the result of a heart false to moral principle. Edwards and Collins wrote with equal zeal and with nearly equal ability in defence of the same principle, that of necessity, a principle fundamentally subversive of moral obligation in every degree and form. The goodness of the former lead him to shrink with horror from the consequences of his own principle, and to deny the connection between his principle and its légitimate consequences. The heart of the latter was in full and perfect harmony with these consequences. For no other reason did he value the principle. Hence the badness of his heart rendered him consistent in carrying out his principle to its legitimate consequences. In no instance does Collins deny moral obligation, and the consequent

existence of virtue and vice. He gives to these terms, in conformity to the demands of his theory, however, such definitions as render their meaning null and void. The justness and propriety of these remarks will appear, as we introduce (what we now propose to do) our readers to the interior of of the work itself. Our object, of course, is not so much to introduce the reader to the book as to the doctrine which it sets forth. The doctrine of Liberty and Necessity are the great pivots upon which almost all other important questions in theology and morals must ultimately (that is, when each question is pushed to its last analysis,) turn, and in the light of which, they must receive their solution. We here express the conviction, a conviction, the truth of which we believe, will receive the fullest domonstration, in subsequent numbers of the Quarterly, that there can in reality, be but two systems of theology, one determined in all its prominent features by the doctrine of Liberty, and the other by that of Necessity. Every individual, therefore, who would understand the nature and bearings of the great theological questions which now agitate the public mind, should make it a main object to acquaint himself fully with the nature, bearing and tendency of these two great cardinal doctrines. In introducing our readers, therefore, to the work before us, and through it to the doctrine it sets forth with such clearness and force, we shall feel that we have done the cause of truth some service.

Before proceeding directly to a presentation of the doctrine under consideration, we shall adduce a few sentences from this work pertaining to the duty of those who write for the benefit of the public. This author has no fellowship with writers who involve their thoughts in obscurity, and "thus darken counsel by words without knowledge:"

"To express what a man conceives," he says, "is the end of writing; and every reader ought to be satisfied when he sees a man speak of a subject according to the light he has about it, so far as to think him a clear writer.

When, therefore, any writer speaks obscurely, either about God, or any other idea of his mind, the defect is in him. For why did he write before he had a meaning; or before he was able to express to others what he meant? Is it not unpardonable for a man to cant, who pretends to teach.?"

“You see,” adds he, "I bespeak no favor in the question before me, and take the whole fault to myself, if I do not write clearly to you on it, and prove what I propose."

Throughout this work, the author has fully redeemed the pledge here implicitly given, as far as perspicuity is concern

« AnteriorContinuar »