Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

a mere

ful hands. Each has been greatly improved, in form, by modern theologians. The two poles, though opposite, belong to the same globe of truth, and, in this case, it is absurd to hold that all the magnetic power is one only.

This is one generalization of the methods employed to prove the existence of God: Kant gives another. Ranging all the common methods, whether a priori, or a posteriori, under the general division of the Speculative Reason, he gives, as the other, the Moral Argument. “A Supreme Being,” says Kant, “is, for the speculative reason, ideal, though a faultless one-a conception which perfects and crowns the system of human cognition, but the objective reality of which can neither be proved nor disproved by pure reason. No,” says Kant, “my conviction is not logical, but moral, certainty; and since it rests on subjective grounds, (of the moral sentiment,) I must not even say: It is morally certain that there is a God, but I am morally certain; that is, my belief in God and in another world is so interwoven with my moral nature, that I am under as little apprehension of having the former torn from me as of losing the latter."

This moral argument we must admit to be one of tremendous power. We believe that the pulpit should use it more than any other. But we do not believe that the speculative reason had its head so thoroughly cut off by Kant after all. The Ontological or Cartesian was demolished: that all admit. But are not the other branches of the speculative argument good to this day? We believe they are.

It would be unpardonable, amid these slight references to modern methods of reasoning upon the subject of God's existence, not to mention Prof. Ferrier's INSTITUTES OF METAPHYSIC. Its style is a master-piece of English. Let no man henceforth say that the language of Metaphysics must be obscure. A child in philosophy can understand Prof. Ferrier as easily as the people can understand John Bunyan. As light, if visible, would cease to be light, and so spoil our vision of the things immersed in it, so style, if wanting in clearness, becomes, by such a visible protrusion of itself upon the mental eye, the spoiler of thought. Prof. Ferrier's style

is light itself, and, therefore, we cannot help seeing what he wants us to see. It is as powerful as it is clear. It strikes out thought after thought, each, with a blow. Ridiculous as the assertion may seem, we yet do not hesitate to say, that if a man wants to learn to talk, in the pulpit, so that people shall have no difficulty at all in understanding what he is driving at, and whom he is driving at, he cannot do better than to study Prof. Ferrier's Institutes of Metaphysic. He will there learn, among other things, if hs has not learned it already, that the strength of his mother tongue lies not in the adjectives and adverbs, but in the nouns and verbs.

The work is not a mere theistic argument: it is that, but it is more. It draws within its grasp the whole science of knowing and being, and constructs what it pronounces to be new in the department of Metaphysics,-a theory of ignorance. Beginning with the axiom : Along with whatever any intelligence knows, it must, as the ground or condition of its knowledge, have some cognizance of itself, it ends with the demonstrated proposition : There is One, but only One Absolute Existence which is strictly necessary; and that Existence is a Supreme, and Infinite, and Everlasting Mind in synthesis with all things. It admits that the strength of the system lies in the Axiom; that if this can be destroyed, the system falls; and contends that if it cannot be destroyed, the system stands. Setting itself strongly against Locke and strongly against Kant, it is destined, unless soon shown to be weakness, to work a revolution alike in Germany and England.

How refreshing to turn from all these methods, whatever their merit, to that which we are perfectly willing to admit lies outside the province of Philosophy! The man who has been made new by the Holy Ghost, can appreciate that divinely wrought argument which God has given him in the Bible. He may state the argument thus : Jesus, the son of Mary, was not conceived in accordance with the ordinary laws of nature: he was conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost. Yet, when arrived at adult age, Jesus does the same as to affirm, that, in his deepest personality, he ex

isted anterior to his conception. He does the same as to af-. firm that in that previous mode of existence, he had, as he still has, the most intimate knowledge of God. Thus he has done the same as to affirm that HE KNOWS that there is one Supreme Being. I, therefore, the Christian may say, believe that there is one Supreme Being. He may so; that is, he may, if, constitutionally inclined to reason, he wishes to construct an argument independently of Philosophy. If he has no inclination to construct an argument, then that simple faith in Jesus Christ as his Redeemer, which the most illiterate man may have, will give him ten thousand times stronger conviction that there is a God, than all the arguments of philúsophers.

Matter and mind, as John Quincy Adams once wrote, while sitting at his desk in the House of Representatives,

Matter and mind, mysterious one,

Is man till threescore years and ten!
Where? ere the thread of life was spun;

Where? when reduced to dust again!
Almighty God! the doubt suppress;

The doubt thou only canst relieve;
Let me, to solace my distress,

Fly to the Gospel and BELIEVE! To him whose natural conviction that there is a God has been strengthened and purified by grace, what a privilege is prayer! He that cometh to God must believe that HE IS: surely, then, he that believes that He is, SHOULD COME. “Our Father, who art in heaven,” are the words which the true God, by his Son, Jesus Christ, hath put upon our lips. If Jesus Christ hath taught us how to pray, he hath also taught us that prayer shall not be lost. Atheism, casting contempt upon the Christian's consciousness of sin, counts the prayer which that consciousness awakens, as but the crying of a child before it is hurt. Entrenching itself behind those second causes, for the study of which our age is so distinguished, it ridicules prayer as in conflict with physical science. Making man to be God, it makes prayer nothing but the exercise of common sense. The reasonableness , of prayer should, therefore, be defended in the pulpit, and the power of prayer should be illustrated in the life. Then will

our belief in the existence of the God of Abraham, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Maker of the heavens and the earth, be to the world more than a creed.

ARTICLE V.-BASIL THE GREAT, AN IMPORTANT WITNESS RESPECTING BAPTISM IN THE FOURTH CENTURY.

BASIL, denominated the Great, to distinguish him from others of the same name, was born in the year of our Lord 329; and he died in the year 379. The last nine years of his life he was Bishop of Cæsarea, in Cappadocia. As a man of eloquence, and of rare intellectual endowments, as well as of uncommon piety, wisdom, laboriousness and self-denial, he acquired great celebrity in the stormy times in which he lived ; and since his death, he has been honored by the Greek Church, as one of her most illustrious saints.

In a Homily which he delivered in a time of famine and drought, there occurs the following passage: “The men, except a few, are attending to their traffic; the women serve them in the business of Mammon. Few persons are with me at prayer, and these dozing and gaping, turning hither and thither, and observing when the psalm-singers will finish the verses, when, as from a prison, they will be dismissed from church, and from the necessity of praying. But, verily, these little striplings, who have left their buoks in the school apartments, and cry out with us, do the thing rather as a relaxation and a pleasure, making our grief a festivity, since they are liberated, a little while, from school restraint and attention to the sciences. The multitude, however, of the full-grown men, and the people, under the sway of their sins, being let loose, and using their liberty, and delighted, run about the city. They carry around in their souls the cause of the calamities. They have brought

on the present distress, and have been its authors. Yet unconscious and blameless babes are hurried and crowded to the confession, who have neither the occasion of those who produce the grief, nor knowledge or ability to offer the common prayers. Come forward thyself, thou who art defiled with sins. Do thou fall down, and weep, and groan. Let the babe do the things that belong to it in consequence

of its age.'

In this passage there are exhibited three classes of persons: 1. The full-grown; 2. The younger persons, striplings, youths, or children so mature as to be ordinarily engaged in studies at school ; and 3. Babes incapable of taking part in the church services.

The second class might well cry out, or unite with others in the responses at public worship. On a memorable occasion, of an earlier date, children in the temple cried, Hosanna to the son of David. Basil, no doubt, would have baptized not only the full-grown man, but also the child, who gave satisfactory evidence of being a well instructed and genuine disciple of Christ. The present inquiry is,Did he think it right to baptize any before they could become disciples ?

The case of the school-lads and that of the babes, ae presented by Basil, are remarkably distinct; but, as presented by Mr. Wall, in his History of Infant Baptism, they seem to be confounded.

In the Homily entitled, An Exhortation to Baptism, much light is cast, incidentally, on the manner in which this subject was viewed in the time of Basil. He begins thus: “The wise Solomon, dividing the times of the acts in life, and separating what is suitable in each of the things done, says, For all things there is a time, and a season for each ; a time for birth, and a time for death. But I, changing a little the maxim of the wise man, would say, while proclaiming the message of salvation, that there is a time to die, and a time to be born. But what is the reason of the change? It is that he, treating of what pertains to nativity and death, speaking conformably to the bodily nature, places the nativity before the death ; for it is impos

« EdellinenJatka »