Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

a philologist and controversialist; in his designating the reasoning presented in particular cases, as "cavilling, " weak," "foolish," "childish," "absurd," "

"perverse, " “confused,” of a nature to be “unworthy of a candid mind or a sound understanding," as indicating “an excessive deficiency of perspicuity," "an amazing want of discrimination ; and in a single instance, in his pronouncing a suggestion, as to what it is " fit and reasonable” that God should appoint, if carried out and applied to what he has actually appointed, “blasphemous;"* while at the same time, the sincerity and honesty of Dr. Beecher are freely admitted. Whether such language taken in connection with such an admission, and especially as disconnected with the facts, and what Dr. Carson considered the “absurdities” which provoked it, is sufficient to justify the charge, so freely and constantly made, that he wrote under the influence of a bad spirit, or whether Dr. Beecher is the most suitable judge in the case, we leave our readers to decide. We have no disposition to justify, much less to imitate, Dr. Carson's style of writing. The treatment, however, of which Dr. Beecher so loudly complains as having received from the hands of his reviewer, objectionable as it may appear, is, in our opinion, far more than reciprocated, and frequently in the use of the very language complained of in Dr. Beecher's rejoinder. His reviewer is freely charged, and, in our estimation, without the slightest ground, with a want, not only of “mental enlargement” and sound " scholarship," but of candor, sincerity, honesty, in fine, of almost every Christian virtue, excepi essential “piety." We do not recollect, for example, to have ever met, in all the history of religious controversy, with a more delib

* The manner in which Dr. Beecher alludes to this fact, as also to others of a similar kind, we regard as adapted to leave an impression entirely erroneous on the minds of his readers. Commenting on the declaration of Dr. Carson, that he “never pronounces on the motives of his opponents,” that he “ never judges the heart," he says, “What, then, is the meaning of such charges as, finally, (and, as is evidently implied, chietly,] · that I am guilty of blasphemy?' p. 495." Now no such expression as is here, by the use of the marks of quotation, ascribed to Dr. Carson, is found in the passage to which reference is made. No such direct charge is preferred ; and, least of all, one that involves any reference to the motives" or intentions of the “heart." The fact is simply as we have stated it. Does Dr. Beecher really suppose that his reviewer intended to accuse him of having it in his “heart” to commit the sin of blasphemy? And yet it is ostensibly to prove this, that his language is referred to. On any other supposition, the reference is entirely inapposite and irrelevant.

erate and ungenerous attack on the moral integrity of an opponent than the following: “When a man makes such professions whilst doing such acts, I cannot but call his professions the guise of zeal for the glory of God, and declare that he is unwilling to admit the truth, and therefore misrepresents and denies it." It would be little to say that we consider this accusation entirely groundless; as it is generally easy to account for an actual misrepresentation on the ground of carelessness or oversight, or from some similar calise. In the present case, we think we may say in truth, the statement of Dr. Carson, in immediate view of which this language is used, not merely affords no evidence of intentional misrepresentation, but is in the sense in which it would naturally be understood, and in which it obviously was understood by Dr. Carson, strictly correct. As this is a case on which Dr. Beecher chiefly insists to substantiate his charge of wilful misrepresentation, our readers will excuse us if we call their attention to the facts. Dr. Carson, in his strictures on President Beecher's articles first published in the Biblical Repository, had said, alluding io the use of the word baptizo, “If the writings of the fathers prove that they understood this word in Mr. Beecher's sense, must not Mr. Beecher prove this by alleging examples of the use of the word in this sense ? But Mr. Beecher attempts no such thing. He does not appeal to the use of the word by the fathers, but to other words applied by the fathers to the same ordinance." Mr. Beecher in a reply attempts to show that this statement is incorrect. In a second edition of Dr. Carson's work, however, it is left unchanged. What, then, are the facts in view of which it was originally made? Mr. Beecher, in the course of an argument, occupying several pages, in which he illustrates the usage of the Greek fathers in applying such terms as åvayevráw, to regenerate, postiço, to illuminate, zabupišo, to purify, to baptism, refers to a single fact, brought to view in three passages quoted from Chrysostom and Theophylact, to wit, that according to the representation of these fathers our Lord had styled his death a baptism, in view of its purifying effects, pp. 52, 244. This, it will be perceived at a glance, is not a case of the actual use of the word as such in the language; it is merely an expression of opinion as to the ground on which a certain event

could be styled a baptism; and one which would have been as appropriate in the English or any other language, as in the Greek. This was evidently the view of Dr. Carson. He says, expressly, “Is it not obvious that Chrysostom refers not to the name of the rite, (or the word baptism,] but to the rite itself in its import?” The meaning of Chrysostom is perfectly the same, whatever may be supposed to be the meaning of the word baptism. This, then, was not in the view of Dr. Carson, in any sense, a case of the use of the word, as such ; the allusion was merely to the “rite itself,” and not to its “name,' or to the word baptism." In what respect, then, bas Dr. Carson "denied or misrepresented the truth” with regard to the facts pertaining to President Beecher's argument? Has he not, at the proper point, directly informed his readers that Mr. Beecher appeals to these passages, and that, too, for the express purpose “of proving that the fathers used the word as signifying purification?Has he not fairly exhibited the facts adduced by Mr. Beecher in support of his position, and allowed them to have their full force on the minds of his readers? Yes, says Mr. Beecher, "he refers to it, and tries to answer it.” And has he not done this in its proper place, at the very point in the argument where it is introduced by Mr. Beecher himself? And why all this, if he had cherished the slightest intention of denying, or misrepresenting, or concealing, or obscuring any point pertaining to the argument of his author ? Does not the accusation, in view of the simple facts of the case, carry with it its own refutation? Is it not strictly true, moreover, that a simple expression of opinion as to the ground on which a certain event is styled a baptism, which might have been made with equal propriety in any language, which, whatever may be regarded as the meaning of the word, remains precisely the same, is not an instance of the actual, proper use of the word as a constituent part of language? Any such examples, corresponding with the numerous passages furnished by Dr. Carson in his work, or with the usage exhibited by Dr. Beecher himself, with respect to the other terms to which he refers, by which the meaning of baptizo, whether in the sense to purify, or in any other senise, may be illustrated by its usage as a word, are not given. What can by any fair interpretation, we may say by any possibility,

be regarded as such an example, Mr. Beecher had not attempted to give. Such was most obviously, as we have seen, the view of Dr. Carson. And he has adapted his language to what he considered the obvious facts.* It is not without reason, therefore, that we have said that his statement, in the sense in which it would naturally be understood, and in which it obviously was understood by himself, is strictly correct. And yet on the ground of such a statement, and that, too, notwithstanding he has, in its proper place, fully and fairly exhibited the argument of Dr. Beecher, he is deliberately charged with wilful misrepresentation and denial of the truth, and even with hypocrisy, in attempting to conceal the sin under the guise of zeal for the glory of God.

Such charges against one who is regarded as a Christian brother, would be, under almost any conceivable circumstances, deserving of the most pointed rebuke; and especially so when made, as in the present case, without any sufficient evidence even of unintentional misrepresentation or mistake.

We have dwelt longer upon this point than would otherwise have seemed necessary, as we wished to illustrate on what ground Dr. Beecher has founded his oft repeated charge that his reviewer has at every point misrepresented his principles and statements, and that on such misrepresentations mainly his reply is constructed. No charge, certainly, could be more unfounded. We by no means assert that Dr. Carson has in no instance misapprehended the exact position of his antagonist. Dr.

66

* Even Dr. Beecher, if we understand him, admits in effect that these passages are not proper instances of the use of the word as such. In reply to the suggestion involved in what he styles one of Dr. Carson's “canons,” to wit, that the reference in these cases is to the “nature and import of the rite," which the Christian fathers regarded as purification, he says, There is no room for it, for there is clear proof that the name and the nature of baptism coincide. Wherever the fathers see the thing purification, they give the name baptism, whatever the form." Camp. pp. 139 and 177. It is, then, according to Dr. Beecher, to the “thing purification," or as Dr. Carson expresses it, to the “ nature of the rite," that direct reference is made, and not to the word as such. The word is shown to mean purification, because " there is clear proof," that is, of course, from other sources, *s that the name and the nature of baptism coincide.” These passages, then, according to Dr. Beecher's own virtual admission, are not proper instances of the use of the word as such. Why then should be complain of Dr. Carson for saying that he had “ attempted no such thing" as to give such an instance ? The falsity of Dr. Beecher's position, as to the meaning of baptizo in the fathers, as also the singular fallacy involved in the reasoning exhibited in the passage here quoted, we shall have occasion to consider hereafter.

Beecher has in some respects more definitely stated his positions in the latter part of his book, than he had done in his articles first published. We are satisfied, however, from the examination which we have made, that such instances of misapprehension in Dr. Carson's work are far less frequent, and of far less importance in their bearing 11 pon the final result, than those which appear in Dr. Beecher's rejoinder.

See, for exainple 83, where an argument occupying several pages, designed to convict Dr. Carson of “inconsistency,” is built entirely on such misapprehension. See, also, in 84, a most obvious example of the kind, on which is founded the charge of “self-contradiction.” Indeed, in the cases on which Dr. Beecher chiefly insists to substantiate his charge of misrepresentation, a careful examination of the facts would render it obvious, we think, to every mind, that the misrepresentation is in re. ality clearly and manifestly his own. In addition to the case already examined, notice, for example, an instance on page 317, in the section ironically styled “Dr. Carson's candor,” in which not merely his “candor,” but his scrupulousness of “conscience," and his " fear of God," are called in question ;-charges founded entirely, as might easily be shown, by a comparison of the facts, with what Dr. Carson had said, and the point he was endeavoring to establish, on an actual and manifest misrepresentation of his real statements. * We certainly have none but the

* The case here alluded to relates to the criticisms on the import of the words klyzo, and its compound periklyzo. And a circumstance which adds not a little to the injustice of the charge of misrepresentation and want of candor, is, that Dr. Beecher keeps entirely out of view the real position which he had originally assumed. and from which his conclusions,-in his view, important; -were drawn, the falsity of which Dr. Carson had fully exposed, to wit, that the word in Tobit 6:2, cannot be used in any sense denoting a bathing in general, involving an immersion. After Dr. Carson's exposure of its falsity, he admits that “it is indeed true that klyzo has, in some cases," (in what cases, or whether this is not a common sense, he does not state,) "the meaning that he (Dr. Carson) assigns to it;” and adds, “ but it is not true that it has not the meaning which I assign to it,” a proposition which he undertakes to prove,thus leaving his readers to infer that the real point at issue has respect to a pos. sible sense of the word ; that it is, whether the word may not be used in a sense which does not involve an immersion; not as he had at first assumed, (on which assumption his argument was placed,) that this actually is its meaning in the case, and that, too, to the positive exclusion of all idea of immersion. Nor has be, in all his subsequent references to the case, given the slightest intimation, that this was not the real position which he had originally assumed, and which, to make good his argument, he was called upon to defend. Nay more, after admit. ting that the worú hus the sense assigned to it by Dr. Carson, and without any

« EdellinenJatka »