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was the fact, I should like to be informed how it came to pass, that these prophets, philosophers, &c. never had philosophy enough to find this out? How could they possibly have been so blind, as never to have discovered that they were carrying on only a war of words? There certainly was no want of opportunity: and, the fact is, notwithstanding all these favourable circumstances, both parties deliberately declared, that light and darkness were not more opposed to one another, than these systems were, both in principle and in effect.
We have, therefore, the most positive testimonies of the sacred writers, on subjects which they must have understood, that “the world by wisdom knew not God”- that they had not even retained the knowledge of him which they once had possessed ; but had become darkened in their understandings, and their foolish hearts hardened. And what, let me ask, have we now opposed to all this? Has any new knowledge on this interesting subject been discovered ? Has modern science made out any thing explanatory? No such thing : the fact only is, that a number of gentlemen, who call themselves philosophers, have trumped up an old and exploded system of pure infidelity; and, upon the strength of it, they persist in affirming that revealed religion cannot be credited, because philosophy, i. e. philosophical ideas, assure them, convince them, and confirm them in this conviction, that the facts of the case were far otherwise; and that all who do not like this conclusion, they believe themselves justified in pronouncing the friends of darkness. * I will only remark, that all this may be very convincing to some
... divino numine afflati, inspirati, furentes, &c. appellati sunt,” ib. p. all of which may be found, delivered in words not very different, in the first, second, and third chapters of the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus of the notorious Spinoza.
“Neque vero dubitari potest, quin in rebus gravissimis, quæ ad religionem et honestatem tuendam pertinent, itemque in præceptis artis logicæ, omnes philosophorum scholæ mirifice inter se conveniant; et inter ipsos scriptores sic dictos profanos, quos injuste aversantur ac calumniantur tenebrarum patroni.” Ib. p. 42. Perhaps we may take for granted, that Paul the Apostle was quite as well acquainted with the philosophers and profane authors of the heathen world as Dr. Wegscheider, or any of his school, may now be: the following is his unqualified testimony respecting them : “ Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were
minds, and may appear to be very enlightened and liberal to others; but to mine it seems to be destitute of every thing that deserves the name of science, philosophy, or reason. If this is Rationalism, I can only say, it certainly has nothing reasonable in it- nothing scientific, enlightened, or liberal to recommend it. I shall now leave this first principle, believing I have said quite enough about it, and proceed to consider another position, namely, That a connection with philosophy is most necessary for the welfare of religion.
ON THE CONNECTION OF PHILOSOPHY WITH RELIGION.
From what has already been advanced, I think it must be plain, that I have nothing whatever to urge against the legitimate use of right reason, good philosophy, and real science, in questions relating to religion ; but, I do think, and I believe I have shewn, that there are points in which reason, philosophy, and science, can determine nothing; I mean in questions where these cannot be legitimately applied. Reason, for example, cannot act where it has no data to act upon; philosophy can obtain no result where there is no subject matter; nor can science make any observation upon things with which it is not conversant. To apply this : The fundamentals of religion are conversant about the will of the Deity, provisions for the soul, another state of being, and the like. On these subjects, I say, neither reason, philosophy, nor
thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was hardened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools ; and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves :" and so on to the end of the chapter. (Rom. i. 21, &c.) But, the truth of this testimony can be abundantly proved from the profane authors themselves, as Mr. Wegscheider ought to have known. Paul, therefore, if he was a friend of darkness, certainly was not a friend of falsehood; but there is no reason whatever for supposing either, if we except the waking dreams of rationalism. That heathenism was a mere corruption of revealed religion, may justly be inferred from St. Paul's words just cited.
science, can afford us any real knowledge. All they can advance must originate in conjecture, and can amount only to low probabilities. Such probabilities alone, particularly if they be in some respects discordant (and this has always been the case), can lay claim to the faith of no one. Reason and science can indeed judge of religion, when that has once been made known, and this they ought to do; but they can go no farther — they can never rise to the question of its first facts: these must necessarily be derived from a higher source. Besides, elements as such, as it is the case in every science, can never be reduced to the scrutiny of human reason. They are data, upon which reason may and ought to act; but which it can never analyse, much less prescribe in the first instance.
Now, the elements proposed by the sacred writers are exactly of the sort just described; they go to points on which we have no knowledge; and on which, consequently, we can offer no opinion. They are, nevertheless, in strict analogy with the rest of the operations of the Deity, which indeed the sacred writers teach, and which reason can abundantly attest. Every subsequent particular, as, the exalted character of God, his dealings with men, the morality inculcated, and the faith urged, are such as to be fit matter for the exercise of reason, of fear, of gratitude, and of love. These will afford a scope for the reasonable soul, in all respects worthy of its high character and destinies; and while they forbid inquiry into its secrets, and into which inquiry has always proved useless, they invite and encourage the most sedulous, scientific, and rigid investigation of all those its parts, which can properly fall under the observation of the limited powers of man. So far, then, the connection of learning with religion is legitimate and praiseworthy; and very greatly it is to be regretted, that so little real learning is at this day bestowed upon it. But when we come to assert, that reason must regulate its elements, its facts, and what in every science must be taken as postulates; we make a demand as unreasonable as it is unusual, and as absurd as it is impossible in the nature of things to satisfy, and evince a disposition as destitute of candour and of knowledge, as it is arrogant, foolish, and presuming.
But sound reason, real philosophy, and great human learning, may most advantageously be employed in vindicating revealed religion, and in rescuing it from the encumbrances of science falsely so called. And this, I hold, is its most important and useful office. Ignorance cannot be expected to be equal to this task. Without the exercise of reason and knowledge, therefore, the church of Christ must ever have been subject to impositions the most glaring. Science falsely so called has always been anxious for innovation ; and the history of the church abundantly shews, that this has ever been its direst foe, whether it came recommended in the garb of philosophy, * or in the disguise of mysticism, presumed inspiration, or vaunting libertinism. It has been shewn, I think, that the claim of our enlightened divines comes under one, at least, of these descriptions of deceivers, whatever they may think of the matter; it being evident to demonstration, that their rationalism is grounded on error and conceit; and that, instead of remedying the evils it complains of, it is, in reality, the very source from which they spring.
From the first principle of rationalism, as here developed, we can readily enough perceive how the rest of the system is likely to work : jf, for example, the barrier has once been broken down which distinguishes true religion from heathen philosophy, and that done too in a manner which sets reason and analogy at defiance; we need not be at a loss to suppose that, should equal violence be thought necessary to recominend the delusion, it would also be had recourse to. The only instance we shall now notice, as connected with our question, is the manner in which the doctrine of miracles has been treated. We have already shewn the possibility, probability, and even necessity, of miraculous interposition, in questions relating to true religion : we shall now offer a few remarks on the principles by which this doctrine is attempted to be set aside. That the scriptural writers advance the doctrine of miraculous interposition, it is not denied; but then, it is argued, that, as they did not understand much about natural philosophy, they have termed events miracles which do not deserve that distinction; and it is then affirmed, that although we may believe their general statements of facts, we need not fall in with their philosophy respecting these, for the plain reason that they were no philosophers.*
* Ancient, as well as modern times, have suffered greatly from these εκ τρίβωνος φιλόσοφοι, who were well designated by our Lord as being wolves in sheep's clothing, or, as Darwin has admirably paraphrased it, “wolves in wool.” It is a curious fact, that several of the philosophers who came over to the Christian cause in the first ages of the church, continued to wear the apiewu or opibúnior, i. e. a coarse hairy sort of cloak, in order, as it should seem, to point out their great learning and humility. The Soofees of Persia, a wellknown sect of mystics, continue so to clothe themselves to this very day; and they thence style themselves the guai col, people of wool. Nothing can be more suitable than the remarks of Irenæus on the philosophers of his days, whom he termed heretics, with reference to this fact. "Iyce our rein the ημετέραν αιτίαν συναρπάζωνταί τινες, ως πρόβατα υπό λύκων, αγνοούντες αυτούς διά την έξωθεν της προβατείου δοράς επιβουλής (lege επιβολήν), ούς φυλλάσσειν παρήγγελκεν ημίν Κύριος, όμοια μεν λαλούντες, ανόμοια δε φρονούντες. “Igitur ne forte et cum nostro delicto abripiantur quidam quasi oves à lupis, ignorantes eos propter exterius ovilis pellis superindumentum, à quibus cavere denunciavit nobis Dominus, similia quidem nobis loquentes, dissimilia vero sentientes.” Adversus Ilæreses, lib. i. Præf. (Grabbe's edit. pp. 2, 3.)
I answer: If the sacred writers have really made mistakes of this kind, it is highly proper that these should be pointed out: and that any one doing so will deserve the thanks of mankind. But it strikes me, that we must have some error here. I find events recorded by the sacred writers termed miracles, which, if their statements are true, must be really
* “ Disputationibus recentiore ætate hac de re motis maxime effectum est, ut hoc argumentum aut diversa forma a nonnullis exponeretur, aut, variis quidem rationibus in dubium vocatum, haud paucis improbandum videretur. Ceterum ex ea persuasione, quam quis hac de re susceperit, omne inter supernaturalismum et rationalismum discrimen ita pendet, ut, qui illum tenet, religionis Judaicæ et Christianæ origines a miraculis proprie sic dictis repetat; hunc qui sequitur, sine ejusmodi miraculis, Deo quidem providente, illas patefactas esse statuat.” (Wegsch. p. 179.) And again : “Præterquam quod doctrinæ illi de miraculis scholasticæ repugnat tum indoles mentis humanæ, certissimis experientia legibus necessario adstricta, nec certas indubitatasque efficaciæ supernaturalis notas discernens, tum ipsa idea Dei recte informata ; haud minus eidem adversatur historia populi cujusque inculti, et eo ipso ad prodigia fingenda et credenda proclivioris, miraculis referta, quæ artium et doctrinarum progressu et causarum intermediarum cognitione amplificata evanescunt ; quemadmodum spectra et larvas evanuisse videmus, ex quo tempore homines ea vel fingere vel credere desierunt ... ejusmodi miracula, quamvis ævo rudiore a supernaturali et immediata Dei operatione repeterentur, e simplici tamen naturali rerum ordine, Deo moderante, prodiisse, jam dubitare non licet.” (p. 181, &c.) Here, I say, we recognise the operation of the principle with which we set out; namely, a determination to pronounce every thing incredible which falls not in with a certain set of notions; and then to advance the old argument,--viz. human reason rightly informed, (without