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But if, in the third place, by reason is meant the intellectual faculty, exercised aright, i. e. independent of any perverting inMuence, and on subjects within the reach of its powers, we know not how we can, nor why we need, or ought, to avoid adopting the principle, that nothing is to be received which is contrary to reason. In this sense, the decisions of reason, and ile doctrines of revelation, cannot be opposed to each other. The latter is the voice of God, presenting us with truth through a particular medium, viz. language; the former is that faculty or power of the mind, whose appropriate object is to perceive or apprehend truth, and by which alone, therefore, we are capable of deciding, and are to decide, on the import of the language which be uses in a revelation. The word reason is indeed more properly restricted in its application to intellect or mind acting upon or cootemplating the higher objects of thought; while to mind exercised upon common things, or perhaps oftener to the results of such exercise, we give the name of common sense. Those resnlıs constitu:e the elements, or materials, which we incorporate into the higher processes of thought and reasoning, and into our deliberations concerning the practical aífairs of life. Their aid is essential, and a regard to them is likewise indispensable, to prudent conduct for time and to right action for our shori being; for they either teach, or help us to learn, the diversified reality of things, according to which we must act, if we would act wisely. To these results, iu a lormer discussion of this subject, we gave the name of decisions, or dictates, of common sense. They are tacit decisions, instantaneous, without conscious effort or thought, and latent in the mind, till occasion calls them forth. We use our common sense as the artist does his practical knowledge of bis art. They are called decisions of coinmon sense, because they constitute a mass of knowledge respecting what is true and false, right and wrong, proper and improper, wise and unwise, in the ordinary circuinstances of man, which knowledge is common to all. Now we think no one will say, that there can be any thing in the bible which is contrary to a single one of these decisions, if it can be truly shown to be universally made by a competent, unperverted conmon sense. But we are continually, though tacitly, incorporating these decisions, as materials, into these higher exercises of the intellectual faculty which we term reasoning. It is in fact one and the same faculty ibat furnishes us with our common sense, or is common sense itself, and that enables us to come to the most distant and difficult conclusions. It is mind exercised, only upon different subjects; or else the results of such exercise. In admitting therefore that the bible contains nothing contrary to common sense, under certain limitations, we do virtually admit that
nder the same limitations, it can contain nothing contrary to eason.
These limitations we have heretofore abundanıly explained. t is impossible to pay too strict a regard to them. False philosoany always presents itseli under the garb, and as the offspring, of reason ; there is a kind of christianity which is called rational christianity, though it is directly the reverse ; and great boast,
rom time to time, is made of a rational theology, which, after all, is contrary 10 reason. Shall we give up these names, because others abuse them ? Shall we say there is no gold, because here are so many counterfeits ? Why are we not rather taught, by the frequency and wonderful skill of the counterfeiting, that it is indeed a thing of utmost price which is counterfeited, and hold it with a firmer and surer grasp, the more dextrous and artful the efforts which are made to wrest it from us? Why not maintain the more strenuously and circumspectly the perfect consistency with reason of every thing both in doctrinal and practical religion, the more inconsistencies are alledged to be found in it ? Until the import and the associations of the word reason shall have entirely changed from what they are at present, except in the usage of a few philosophizing men, it appears to us that it would be exceedingly ill-judged and pernicious for evangelical christians to relinquish the use of it, in such connections as have been the subject of these remarks. It would be relinquishing the things which we now express by the reasonableness of revealed religion, etc. unless some other terms be adopted to express them. Should we proceed in this way, we might be driven entirely out of the English language, by persons whose object is to run a scheme of doc
trines as nearly parallel as possible with evangelical religion. : Christ is called a divine Redeemer by some who only mean that he is a created being, divinely constituted as such. Shall we therefore abandon the use of the word in that connection, with our own meaning attached to it ? To do so would at first be abandoning the doctrine itself. So in the other case. To admit that there may be any thing in a revelation which is contrary to reason, while the proper import of that term continues to be what it now is, would be to give up an essential part of their proof of its divine origin. The contrariety of any theory to reason, according to the present use of the term is the inconsistency of that theory with some one of these truths to which we arrive by the process called reasoning. These truths differ from those which constitute the dictates of common sense only in being of a higher order, and attained by a greater or less number of steps, each of which was a known truth, and necessarily led to that which followed; while the lowest step in the series, if not others, was one of those insal
lible dictates. We say necessarily led—this tests the soundness of the reasoning, and the correctness of the conclusion. Now if a process of reasoning will bear the requisite tests, from the fupdamental truth, or truths, through all the links of the chain, bow can we avoid confiding in the result, and believing it to be impossible that any part of divine revelation should be inconsistent with it? Or rather, how can we avoid receiving those interpretations of scripture, which accord with the ordinary decisions of common sense, or with the higher truths deduced by reasoning from these decisions, rather than others which are inconsistent with them: Or if a passage will bear but one interpretation, and that one cootrary to a known and well tried deduction of right reason, is it possible that any purely historical evidence in favor of its being from God, should be equal to the evidence of such a contrariety against it?
We are not without apprehensions that some will object to these views, as after all, setting up reason above revelation. We have indeed exhibited views which go to set up right reason and common sense above certain philosopbical theories which some individuals have supposed to be auihorized by revelation. This is the length and breadth of what we have done. We have all along admitted and maintained that parts of a divine revelation may be expected to be, and that parts of the bible actually are above reason, but not contrary to it. None of the cardinal doctrines of the gospel have any thing to fear from the latter principle ; but every thing from the admission that right reason and revelation may be inconsistent. What possible success can the messenger of divine truth hope for, unless in preaching those doctrines, he can carry the understandings and consciences of his hearers along with him at every step? Did not Paul and his fellow-apostles do thisby manisestation of the truth, commending themselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God? Can inconsistences, contradictions, absurdities, be forced upon men's understandings? Or if they could, would they produce the same effect as consistent and evident truth? And what is the difference between that which is properly contrary to reason, and an absurdity? Are those principles, then, erroneous, and not to be trusted, wbich lead us to expunge from our views of revelation, not from revelation itself, whatever theories, speculations, philosophy, etc. we may have imbibed, which can be proved to be inconsistent with right reason and common sense?
In an interesting chapter on popery, Mr. Douglas has unfolded its nature and origin at considerable length. That system of religion, in its root and substance, is the same as the paganism of ancient Rome. Its doctrines and practices have here and there
a slight similitude to christianity, “ a thin disguise,” through wbich
"Lo! to the secret oladow: I retire,
Dryden's Virgil. Book VI.
The scheme which is only bere hinted at, Dante gives us in detail; and it is worthy of notice that he takes the Mantuan bard bis guide through the regions of purgatory. We may trace, moreover, the emanative system of pantheism in this doctrine. According to that system, all spirits are emanations from one great fountain of being, and becoming contaminated by their connection here with matter, which is the only thing that is evil, need to be purified by the action of fire, and when thus purified, return again to their original source. Thus the Roman catholic beJieves, and the restorationist with him, after the example of the Gnostics of old, that the endurance of pain for a limited season, will resorin the vices of the wicked, and prepare them for the joys of heaven. The latter do not indeed believe that the soul, after purification, is literally and truly merged into the divide being, as the emanative system, strictly interpreted, teaches; but with this exception, the resemblance is complete.
In the second place, the inultiplication of deities furnishes a striking resemblance between the religion of ancient and modern Rome. In the mythology of antiquiiy, the elements, and even the common operations of nature, were personified, and worship ed as Gods, but especially the spirits of departed heroes. In tbe polytheism of the Roman catholics, saints take the place of the deities of old-they preside over fountains, effect cures, rule the elements, and protect the lives and fortunes of their rotaries. The deification of illustrious men, in particular, has been imitated in the canonization of saints. As the superstition of the ancient Romans led them to place the images of their Gods, at the corners of streets, at the entrance of houses, or beside their couches, so the superstition of the modern Italians shows itsell in precisely the same manner. The figure of a saint or a Madonna is every where as common now as that of a god in old Rome; and the situations in which they are found, and the powers attributed to them, are strikingly similar.
Pagan Rome was idolatrous. So is papal. Of this it were sufficient evidence to refer to the deification of the Virgin Mary. She is called the Mother of God, and worship above the rererence due to any created being, is paid to her image. To ber 15 assigned the providential government of the world. In danger, the catholic implores her assistance; for deliverance he renders her acknowledgment. Throughout Italy and Sicily, are temples and chapels almost innumerable, dedicated, not to God, but to the Madonna. An essential agency in human salvation is ascribed to her. None can become partakers of the favor of God and life without her interposition. A similar place in kind, but lower in degree, is given to the saints. Prayer is made to them, as to the virgin, temples and stars are erected, and idolatrous homage is paid. The appropriate indluence of this system of idolatry may not be felt by every catholic. With Pascal and Fenelon, and men of that stamp, its influence was countracted by that of the truth. With them it ceased to be idolatry. But the mass of the Roman catholics do make a goddess of the Madonna, and gods of their saints. It is a practical deification, as far as the nature of the human mind, and ihe truth in the case, will permit it to be. The coincidence between the idolatry of ancient and that of modern Rome, however, exisis not merely in the general fact; it runs through a great variety of particular circumstances. The