Can Change the World Again.
A Critical History of Philosophy.
By Asa Mahan
THE CHRISTIAN EVOLUTION IN PHILOSOPHY.
AMONG thinkers the impression very commonly obtains, and we often meet with statements to the same effect, particularly in treatises on the History of Philosophy, that the writers of the Old and New Testaments held and taught no system of Philosophythat they simply taught doctrines, or facts, without any specific reference to questions of Ontology, or Ultimate Causation. In certain respects such statements are true, and in others, of equal importance, they are far from being true. In the multitudinous writings of Plato we find no systematic statement of truth. The careful readers of these writings, however, find everywhere underlying the same certain great principles which may readily be aggregated into a system. The same holds true of the Scriptures. Underlying all their teachings we find all the ultimate truths and principles which can be reached by science. Here we find a distinct hypothesis of Ultimate Causationan equally well-defined doctrine of Cosmologyall the principles of fundamental moralityand a doctrine equally well defined of the eternal future of mind. We propose to notice and set forth the specific teachings of the Bible on these varied themes.
DOCTRINE, OR HYPOTHESIS, OF ULTIMATE CAUSATION.
THIS hypothesis is distinctly stated by the Apostle (Heb. xi. 3), 'Through faith we understand that the worlds were made by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.' Here the Theistic hypothesis of Ultimate Causation is distinctly set forth both in its positive and negative forms. Positively, it is affirmed that the universe as now revealed to us took its existing form as the result of THE WORD, act of will, or creative fiat, of God. This is but a restatement in another form of the doctrine set forth in Gen. i. 1, 'In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.' In other words, when the universe was originated 'the heavens and the earth,' that is the entire universe, became an orderly and organized whole as the result of the creative agency of God. Then the sacred writer descends to particulars, and ascribes the organization of 'the heavens and the earth,' the world on which we live, together with the sun, the moon, and the stars, and the existence of all vitalized forms of being around us, to the will of God. 'He spake, and it was done: He commanded, and it stood fast,' that is, He willed that things should be thus, and so, and they took form accordingly. The doctrine of creation in its entireness as the exclusive result of the agency of the will of a personal God, is the specific hypothesis of Ultimate Causation set forth in the sacred Scriptures.
In its negative form the doctrine of creation through the will of a personal God is set forth in direct and specific opposition to the dogmas of heathen and Anti-theistic philosophies. The united teaching of all systems then taught was organization by natural law, or the development, or evolution, of 'things seen from things which appear,' that is, from preexisting natural conditions. The whole passage is thus literally rendered by Conybeare and Howson: 'By faith we understand that the universe was framed by the word of God, so that the world which we behold springs not from things which can be seen.' 'The doctrine negatived,' they correctly say, 'is that which teaches that each successive condition of the universe is generated from a preceding condition (as the plant from the seed by a mere natural development, which had no beginning in the will of God.' If we will carefully study the teachings of the Scriptures in respect to the doctrine of creation, we shall find that not only is the organization of the universe ascribed to the direct and immediate agency of God, but also the origination of every species of animals and plants. Moses, who was 'learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians,' understood fully all the Oriental Philosophies. The common doctrine of all these systems was creation by emanation, or the development of all particular species from preceding ones of a lower type. Creation by natural law, by emanation, development, or evolution, was the common doctrine of all these philosophies in all their forms. In opposition to such philosophies we are informed that 'in the beginning,' not natural law, but 'God created the heavens and the earth.' The sacred writer then descends to particulars, and affirms that in the origin of animals and plants the agency of God was just as direct and immediate as it was in the creation of the universe, that all orders of vitalized existence were so organized at the beginning that each species should immutably propagate its kind, and not evolve itself into something higher, or diverse from its own kind, 'the fruit-tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself.' 'And God made the beast after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind.' Nothing can be more evident than is the deduction, that at the beginning, species were originated, and not embryotic forms which should evolve themselves into species endlessly diversified. Then, as if to anticipate the modern monkey hypothesis, man is affirmed to have been created, and located at his creation in a definite region of the earth where monkeys have never existed. Taking into our reckoning not particular words merely, but the whole account of the organization of the Universe given in the first chapter of Genesis, and the deduction is absolute, that the fixed intention of its author was to present the revealed doctrine of creation throughout, in direct and open opposition to the teachings of the ungodly religions and godless philosophies of all prior ages, and this, not in their principles merely, but also in all their details. The conclusion is undeniable that Darwin or Moses has fundamentally erred. No explanation can be given of the peculiar phrases 'after his kind,' and 'whose seed is in itself,' but upon the hypothesis that the specific intent of the sacred writer was to deny the doctrines of emanation and development, or evolution, which were the fundamental characteristics of all the great systems of religion and philosophy then existing.
THE DOCTRINE OF PROVIDENCE.
Equally specific is the Doctrine of Providence taught in the Scriptures. God as here revealed is not only 'the former of all things,' but exercises a direct and immediate providential control over 'the things that are made,' the will of God being the supreme law of the universe, the wants of mind the end for which all material objects exist and are controlled. God is also distinctly revealed as present amid passing events around us, so that He is to His rational offspring, relative to their moral and physical necessities, a hearer of prayer. Every intelligent reader of the Scriptures is aware that the above statements perfectly accord with the plainest and most express teachings of the Sacred Word. All the facts of order which everywhere appear, all the movements of the sun, moon, and stars, sunshine and darkness, and all events of all the seasons, are revealed as determined by the will of God. In express reference to sickness and health, rain and sunshine, and all our daily concernments, prayer is affirmed to be of great avail.
Relations of the above Doctrines to Science.
Such, undeniably, are the Theistic teachings of Scripture on the subjects before us. What are the relations of these doctrines to science? To this question we answer:
1. All events which are, or may be known to science, are fully explicable on this hypothesis. The doctrine of a free, intelligent, personal God, infinite and perfect in all His attributes, fully explains the organization of the existing universe, with all the facts and events which it presents. If the facts of geology, for example, facts which are supposed to favour the doctrine of Evolution, can be explained in accordance with that hypothesis, they cannot be shown to contradict the doctrine of the origination of species by the direct and immediate agency of God. The facts, to say the least, are just as explicable on the latter as on the former hypothesis. The same holds true of all facts and events known to science throughout the wide domain of universal nature. All such facts and event are undeniably explicable through the doctrine of a personal God. If visible and conscious facts do not affirm, they do not contradict the doctrine of Providence and of the efficacy of prayer. All that the Bible teaches in respect to creation, providence, prayer, miracles, and we may add, redemption, also appears as possible and fully explicable facts and events through the cause which it assigns for all these facts. In Natural Theism, and in that of the Scriptures, we have, we repeat, an hypothesis, in accordance with which all events known to science as possible in the nature of things may be fully explained and elucidated. There is no denying this deduction.
2. This fact, we remark in the next place, renders absolutely impossible all disproof of, and positive evidence, or even antecedent probability, against this hypothesis, on the one hand, and all forms of proof, evidence, or even probability in favour of any contradictory hypothesis on the other. All that can be done in any conceivable case in favour of the hypothesis of Natural Law, Emanation, Development, or Evolution, would be to prove, not that such hypothesis is in fact true, but that it may be true, that is, that in accordance with it existing facts are explicable. As long as the same facts remain equally explicable on a different and opposite hypothesis, all disproof of the latter, and proof, positive evidence, or even antecedent probability, in favour of the former, remain strictly impossible. The reader should bear in mind that while modern Scientists talk so loftily of the science of Emanation, Development, and Evolution, they are dogmatizing in respect to hypotheses which by no possibility can attain to the prerogative of science, hypotheses in favour of which no possible form of real proof, positive evidence, or antecedent probability, can be adduced. Granting all the facts adduced by Mr. Darwin and other Evolutionists, for example, said facts do not prove this hypothesis even probably true. The reason is obvious and undeniable. Said facts are all, to say the least, equally explicable on the hypothesis of the origination of species by the direct and immediate agency of God. The same holds true in all other cases. The hypothesis of ultimate and universal causation affirmed by Natural and Revealed Theism accounts fully for all facts and events in the universe. No form of disproof, positive evidence, or antecedent probability can by any possibility, we repeat, be adduced against this, and in favour of any opposing hypothesis.
3. While it ever must remain true that upon no conditions, actual or conceivable, can the doctrine of natural and revealed Theism be disproved, or any real proof, evidence, or antecedent probability be adduced in favour of any opposite hypothesis, the common deduction of all the sciences bearing at all upon the subject, render the former hypothesis a demonstrated truth, and the latter, in all its forms, a demonstrated error. There is not a science that has the remotest bearing upon the doctrine of ultimate causation, a science which does not culminate in the deduction of the organization of the universe as an event of time. There is no doctrine in which the final deductions of all such sciences, and the admissions of all eminent scientists of all schools, more absolutely agree, than they do in the hypothesis of the non-eternity of the present order of things. Universal order from universal chaos is demonstrably explicable by no hypothesis of natural law. Universal order from any law of nature, or any necessary cause, order as an event of time, can no more be accounted for than the existence of an event without a cause. A necessary cause, whatever its nature, must act as soon as the conditions of its activity are fulfilled. The conditions of the activity of the ultimate cause of these facts must have been fulfilled from eternity, or said cause would not be the ultimate. That cause, on the other hand, which fulfilled these conditions would be said cause. Creation as an event of time; creation through any natural law, or necessary cause of any kind, is a palpable contradiction. A free cause, on the other hand, may or may not act in any given direction when the conditions of its activity are fulfilled. Hence creation from such a cause, creation as an event of time, is both possible and explicable. Either the final deduction of universal science is utterly false, or the Theistic and Christian hypothesis of ultimate causation is true.
4. This common deduction of all the sciences, viz., creation as an event of time, not only demonstrates the validity of the Theistic hypothesis, but utterly annihilates all objections to the doctrine of supernatural events as recorded in Scripture, and to the revealed doctrine of Providence, and of God in nature as a hearer of prayer. Either science, itself, is a lie, or creation is a supernatural event, and the occurrence of such events in nature is both possible and probable. Nothing is, or can be, at a greater remove from the domain of true science than the boasted Naturalism of the present and all past ages. These scientists never have adduced, and never can adduce, a single fact which presents the remotest degree of real proof, positive evidence, or antecedent probability, in favour of any one of their godless hypotheses. The fundamental fallacy in the reasoning of all these scientists is this, that a given hypothesis may be proven true by facts which are equally explicable on a different and opposite hypothesis. Take any fact, or class of facts, ever adduced by any of these scientists to prove any one of his godless hypotheses, and place that fact, or class of facts, in the clear light of scientific induction and deduction, and the conclusion becomes at once demonstrably evident, that said fact, or class of facts, is just as compatible with, and explicable by, the hypothesis which he denies, as with and by that which he affirms. True science does and must affirm his proofs to be no proofs, his evidence to be no evidence at all, and his probabilities to be nothing but improbabilities. The real facts of the case can by no possibility, from the nature of the case, be otherwise.
ONTOLOGY OF THE BIBLE.
IN the Scriptures also we have a distinct recognition of the doctrine of Ontology as developed in this Treatise, that of the real existence of four distinct and separate realities, namely, Matter, Spirit, Time, and Space. The terms everlasting, or eternity, and immensity represent the last two realities; while the terms earth, or dust, and spirit represent the two first designated.
Nothing can be more distinct, definite, and specific than is the distinction made in the Scriptures between matter and spirit, and the soul and the body. 'Then,' says the sacred writer, 'shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.' Here the body is clearly affirmed to be material, and the spirit to be immaterial. The exact meaning of the passage may be thus expressed: 'Then shall the dust' (that part of man which is material) 'return unto the earth as it was, and the spirit' (that part of man which is not matter) 'will return to God who gave it.' The same distinction is most fully presented in the New Testament. 'Man,' we are informed, 'may kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.' The body is represented as a house, tabernacle, or tent, and the spirit as the occupant. The Scriptures make the same distinction between spirit and matter, the body and the soul, that all mankind do between a house and its occupants. The spirit of the believer, 'while at home in the body,' is affirmed to be 'absent from the Lord,' and when 'absent from the body,' to be 'present with the Lord.' During life the soul is affirmed to 'abide in the flesh,' or the body, and at death, not to die with, but to 'depart' from the body. Nothing can be more manifest than is the distinction made in the Scriptures between matter and spirit, and the recognition of both as distinct and separate entities.
With the same distinctness is the doctrine of the immortality of the soul presented in the Scriptures. 'We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, ETERNAL in the heavens.' 'Then shall we be FOREVER With the Lord.' 'Neither shall they die any more.' No intelligent reader of the Bible doubts that according to its express revelations the future being of the soul is coeval with 'the eternal years of God.'
With similar distinctness, also, is the future of the soul revealed as a state of retribution. 'It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.' 'We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ.' 'For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.' 'These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.' 'He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness.' In the opening revelation of the soul's eternity, God is revealed as 'the Judge of all.' The united consent of the ages fully verifies the correctness of the interpretation which we have given of the teachings of the Scriptures in respect to the doctrines now under consideration. The exceptions are too few to weaken at all this verification.
Relations of Science to the Doctrine of Scriptural Ontology.
No candid reader of the Bible will deny that we have correctly stated its doctrine of Ontology. The question which now arises pertains to the relations of the deductions of science to this doctrine. On this subject we remark:
1. All facts known to science, and all relations of such facts, are absolutely compatible with, and explicable by, this doctrine. If we postulate the actual existence of the four realities under considerationto wit, Matter and Spirit, Time and Space, there is not a fact or event in the wide domain of naturea fact or event which is not scientifically explicable through this postulate. No fact or event can be conceived of which is not perfectly explicable as an attribute or relation of matter or spirit, and as occurring in time or space. No one who holds as actually existing these four realities, finds any occasion to go outside of the same, or to postulate any other or different form of being, to account for any event known to science, or representable in thought. Take the ideas of Matter and Spirit, Time and Space, just as they exist in the Universal Intelligence, and in their light we can give a scientific explanation of the origin and character of all the sciences pure and mixed, and of all facts and events represented in human thought. No candid thinker will deny the validity of these statements. In the light of these same ideas, and of the principles and laws of thought which said ideas necessarily imply, we can, as we have demonstrated in former portions of this Treatise, explain the origin and character of all the assumptions and deductions of false science. In short, all forms of thought existing in mind, all the sciences true and false, and all facts and events known to science, are most fully explicable in the light of the ideas and principles under consideration.
2. Such being the undeniable facts of the case, disproof of the ontological doctrine of Scripture is an absolute impossibility. Equally impossible is it, and must it be, to adduce any form of valid proof or positive or even probable evidence in favour of any doctrine of an opposite nature. To accomplish any such result, we must, as formerly shown, adduce some fact of the reality of which we are, and must be, more certain than we are of the existence of each of the four realities under considerationa fact incompatible with the existence of such reality. Every fact representable in human thought must be a property, quality, or relation of Matter, Spirit, Time, or Space. As the existence of any one of these realities does not imply the non-being of any other, no perceived or apprehended property of any one of them can imply the non-being of its subject, or of any other reality or any of its attributes or relations. How, then, can the non-reality of Matter, Spirit, Time, Space, or the non-validity of our necessary apprehensions of the same, be an object of valid proof? All attempts to prove the doctrines of Materialism, Idealism, or Scepticism, in any of their forms, involve the senseless endeavour to realize the demonstrated impossible. If the advocates of any one of these dogmas could show that all facts and events known to science are explicable on their hypothesis, this would merely prove said hypothesis to be a possible truth. As long as the same facts are equally explicable on another and opposite hypothesis, the former can never take rank as a truth of science. To talk of the science of Naturalism in any of its forms, in other words, to speak of the science of Materialism, Idealism, Scepticism, Development, Evolution, or of any of the deductions of the New Philosophy, is simply to betray a fundamental ignorance of the nature of real science itself. No hypothesis which cannot be scientifically verified, no one, especially, in favour of which any positive or probable evidence can be adduced, can have a place within the sphere of true science.
Apply the principles under consideration to the doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul. By no possibility can the materiality of the soul be proved, no fact of consciousness or external perception verifying it as such a substance. The fact of its immateriality is, to say the least, just as evident and probable in itself as that of its materiality. The fact of its conscious existence as exercising the functions of thought, feeling, and voluntary determination, removes absolutely all grounds and arguments against its future existence. We began to think here. Why may we not continue to think hereafter? The beginning of thought, feeling, and voluntary determination is just as mysterious as is their future continuance. If the soul is now in the body, and not of it, it may continue to think, feel, and, act when out of the body. To prove, or render even probable, the mortality of the soul, its materiality must be absolutely verified. This can no more be done than can proof be found that scarlet colour is identical with the sound of a trumpet. All the known facts of the soul are, undeniably, just as compatible with its immateriality and immortality as with its materiality and mortality. Hence all disproofs of the former, and proofs of the latter, doctrines are absolute impossibilities. The same holds true of the Ontology of the Bible in all its forms.
3. While disproof of this Ontology is wholly impossible, its truth as fully accords with the immutable intuitions and convictions of the Universal Intelligence. 'Mankind generally,' says Alexander of Aphrodisias, 'do not greatly err.' 'In any matter whatever,' says Cicero, 'the consent of all nations is to be reckoned a law of nature.' That which accords with the universal and necessary intuitions and convictions of the race must be an immutable law of nature, that is, of universal mind, or we have no means of determining what a law of nature is. Now there is not a mind on eartha mind in whom any ideas at all are developeda mind in whom the same identical distinction is not made between the body and the soul, that is made in the Scripturesin whom the body is not regarded as constituted of 'dust,' and the soul as an ethereal unity which is distinct and separate from 'dust.' There is not, consequently, on earth a mind void of the ideas of matter, spirit, time, and space, and of an immutable conviction of the actual existence of all these realities. Mind cannot exist and think at all without becoming possessed of these ideas and convictions; and in all their essential characteristics they are the same in all minds. All that 'know fact and law' know absolutely that here are fundamental facts and an immutable law of nature. The same remarks are equally applicable to the revealed doctrines of Duty, Immortality, and Retribution. By an immutable law of the Intelligence, universal mind apprehends and affirms the validity of these doctrines. Each member of the human family does, and must stand revealed to himself as a free moral agent, and as a child, not of time, but of eternity. We must cease to be conscious at all before we can cease to be conscious of our subjection to the law of duty, and accountable to a higher power for our moral conduct. Nor can we cease to be conscious of our spirits as naturally endowed with an immortal vigour, and as acting as probationers for a future state. Hence it is, that when these great central doctrines of inspiration are distinctly presented to universal mind, they 'commend themselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. When universal science shall reach its consummation, Natural and Revealed Theism, and the system of Rational and Revealed Ontology, will have a prominent place within the sphere of scientific truth. The disciples of the New Philosophy have much to say about 'fact and law,' and about their absolute authority in science. In all this they are right. In obedience to conscious 'fact and law,' we believe in Matter, Spirit, Time, and Space, God, the Soul, Duty, Immortality, and Retribution. In disregard of conscious 'fact and law,' they disbelieve in these eternal verities. With them, it is science to believe in 'fact and law,' as far as matter is concerned, and un-science to believe in conscious 'fact and law,' as far as spirit is concerned. With us, it is science to believe in 'fact and law' in both particulars, and 'science falsely so called,' to disregard 'fact and law' in any sphere of thought whatever. Here lies the real difference between Theists and Anti-theists in all ages. The latter disbelieve in 'fact and law,' but in one exclusive sphere of scientific thought. The former believe in 'fact and law' throughout the entire domain of such thought.
THE MORALITY OF THE SCRIPTURES,
THE questions, What ought we to be and to become, and, How ought we to act, enter, as problems of fundamental interest, into all systems of Philosophy. Modern Unbelief is now devoting its highest energies to prove that the morality of the Bible is in no essential particulars superior to, or diverse from, that taught in other systems of religion, and in the Philosophies of the world ancient and modern. The object of the present section is to develop the fundamental difference between the moral systems under consideration. On this topic, we designate the following particulars in which the moral teachings of the Bible are peculiarized from those of all the other systems referred to.
1. Moral virtue in all its forms, according to the Bible, has its spring and source in the inner man, the heart, and consists in supreme respect for the will and character of God on the one hand, and in impartial and universal goodwill to man on the other. Revealed Morality, consequently, assumes two formspiety, or loving God with all our powersand universal and impartial philanthropy, or 'loving our neighbour as our selves.' In the exercise and practice of Christian virtue, man becomes, in the absolute sense, morally pure; in other words, he becomes pure not only in the visible, but also in the inner life. 'We shall search in vain among all heathen religions or philosophies, for any such ideas of moral virtue. With very few, if any, exceptions, moral virtue pertains rather to the outer than the inner life, and is therefore fundamentally imperfect. A system of morality which does not include piety and philanthropy both, and has not a fundamental reference to the inner life, cannot induce real moral purity in those who perfectly conform to said system. An individual, for example, may 'keep the whole law' as announced by the Brahminical and Buddhist religions and philosophies, and have no inner respect for moral virtue at all. An individual cannot be moral at all in the Christian sense, without being pure in the outer and inner life in common.
2. When we descend to a consideration of particular precepts of a fundamental character, the perfection of the Christian, in distinction from all other systems, becomes still more manifest. The only parallel ever adduced to the universal rule or maxim of our Saviourto wit, 'Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye also unto them,' is the negative principle of Confucius, namely, 'Whatsoever ye would that others should not do to you, refrain from doing unto them.' The real difference between these two precepts is world-wide. The latter requires no positive well-doing in any form, and is perfectly fulfilled when we refrain from positive acts. The former requires not merely refraining from wrong acts, but positive and unselfish well-doing in all its forms. When we contemplate such precepts as the following, howeverto wit, 'Love your enemies,' 'When your enemy hungers, feed him,' 'Avenge not yourselves,' and 'Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good,' we then find ourselves in the presence of a system of morals which stands in open contrast with that taught in all other religion, and in all the godless philosophies of ancient and modern times. Yet, without these peculiar and special principles and precepts, all moral systems are fundamentally imperfect and defective. In all particulars in which Christian morality becomes absolutely perfect, all other systems are fundamentally wanting.
3. Completeness and universality constitute another peculiarity which distinguishes the Christian from every other code of morals. In the Christian system no conceivable principle necessary to its absolute completeness and perfection is wanting. No such principle has ever been reached by human thought, a principle which has not a distinct and specific place in this system. On the score of completeness and perfection, all other systems are manifestly, and in fundamental particulars, defective; while they announce some excellent principles, they fail to present others equally important. Hence they have no adaptations whatever to take rank as universal systems.
4. While the Christian system is thus complete and perfect, it embraces no false principles. There is nothing in it which mars its beauty or perfection. While all other systems lack completeness and perfection, they also embrace principles fundamentally false, and subversive of all morality. While Confucius, for example, taught many excellent principles, he taught others which sanctify the absolute despotism of China, and shut out freedom of thought and action from one-third of the human race. How perfect in certain particulars are the moral teachings of Plato. Yet in his Republic he in fact and form abolishes marriage, annihilates the family, makes the individual a mere commodity of the State, and sanctifies human servitude. Similar principles of false morality mar all the systems under consideration.
5. Hence it is that while the system of Christian morals has absolute adaptation as the guide of universal human life and conduct in all ages and all conditions of human existence, every one of the other systems under consideration failed almost utterly in their adaptation to the age and the people in which and among whom it was originated. In whatever light Christian morality is contemplated, it, like the Bible amid all other books, stands alone in the world, and stands revealed to us as not only having come down to us 'from God and heaven,' but as having originally proceeded from the heart of Infinity and Perfection.
SPECIAL AND PECULIAR DOCTRINES OF CHRISTIANITY.
EVERY religion has certain special doctrines and principles which peculiarize and separate it from every other religion. Such is the case with Christianity. Its revealed doctrines peculiarize and separate it to an infinite remove from all other religions. Among these doctrines we shell refer to but the following: The Tri-Unity of the Godhead, Incarnation and Atonement, and The relations of God to believers as a hearer of prayer. We shall refer to these doctrines in the order above designated.
THE TRI-UNITY OF THE GODHEAD.
Every individual who is at all acquainted with the Scriptures in their original languages, is aware of the fact that the first time in which the term 'God' appears therein, that term has not the singular, but the plural form. 'In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth.' Nor at that era of the world's history were any plural forms of words employed, as 'We, the king,' to represent any single personage. Immediately after this opening revelation the idea of a mysterious form of plurality in the Godhead is expressed in words utterly incompatible with the idea of absolute unity. 'And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us.' By no usage in any age has any such form of words ever been applied to any single individual. There is, then, a plurality in some form in the Godhead. Nor is the doctrine of the divine unity ever affirmed in the Scriptures in the absolute sense, but always and specifically in opposition to the plurality of heathenism. 'For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many and lords many); but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.' In opposition to the plurality of heathenism, so the Scriptures teach, 'there is one God,' or Godhead. In opposition to an absolute unity there is a form of plurality in the Godhead. In the New Testament this plurality assumes a definite form, and is represented by the terms, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The fact of this unity and plurality is clearly revealed. The ground, or nature, of this unity on the one hand, and plurality on the other, are not revealed at all. The fact, as coming within the sphere of revealed truth, 'belongs to us, and to our children.' The ground, or nature, referred to is among 'the secret things which belong to God,' and is consequently wholly excluded from the sphere of Theology and Speculative Thought.
As the immutable condition of a rational admission of any doctrine pertaining to God as true, science justly requires that said doctrine shall not be self-contradictory on the one hand, nor undeniably incompatible with our essential idea of infinity and perfection on the other. Neither of these objections, in any sense or form, holds against the doctrine under consideration. No one pretends that there is anything in the doctrine incompatible with our essential idea of infinity and perfection. Equally free is the doctrine from even the appearance of self-contradiction, neither the nature of the divine unity on the one hand, or plurality on the other, being even professedly defined in the Scriptures. The only appearance of contradiction ever found in the doctrine has arisen, not from the doctrine as revealed, but from the presumptuous attempts of theologians to define 'secret things which belong to God.' As a revealed fact, the nature and ground of which God has left a profound and inexplicable mystery, we rationally hold the doctrine of the Tri-Unity of the Godhead, the issue between the Trinitarian and Unitarian believer in the Scriptures being left as a simple and exclusive question of Biblical interpretation.
Revealed Relations of these Tri-Personalities to one Another.
While the nature of the divine Unity, on the one hand, and plurality, on the other, is not revealed, these Tri-Personalities do sustain certain revealed and consequently definable relations to one another. Whatever, for example, is represented by such words as original, ultimate, and absolute authority; supremacy, and paternity, is expressly in the Scriptures ascribed to the Father. The Son and Spirit in all they do act in absolute subordination to the Father, and exercise no form of power or authority but what is delegated to them by Him. As the Creator of the universe, the Son exercised a delegated power; 'the Father creating all things by Jesus Christ.' As the sovereign and judge of all, Christ thus acts because 'the government has been laid upon His shoulders,' because 'all power is given unto Him in heaven and in earth.' and 'the Father hath committed all judgment to the Son.' 'Christ came into the world, not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him.' The same holds equally true of the Spirit. Like the Son, 'He speaks not of Himself, but what He hears, that He speaks.' and by the Father the Spirit was sent into the world, as Christ was sent into the world.
The Son, on the other hand, represents the Godhead in what may be denominated supreme executive power, authority, and majesty, the Son being the supreme authoritative executor of the Father's will. The agency of the Father is not directly exerted in creation and providence. The Father, on the other hand. 'created all things by Jesus Christ.' To the Son, the Father thus speaks: 'And Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundations of the earth; and the heavens are the works of Thy hands.' By the same delegated power, 'Christ upholds all things,' and 'by Him all things consist'are sustained and controlled. All the revelations of the Godhead are made through Christ. He being to the universe 'the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of His substance.'
The Holy Spirit, we remark, lastly, in this connection, represents the Godhead as that invisible divine energy, which everywhere acts potentially in nature, and directly and immediately brings to pass those results which God wills. 'And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.' Had we witnessed the results here referred to, nothing would have been visible to us but the simple agitation of the watery elements. Were we infidels, we should have attributed all to the exclusive action of natural law. The same holds true of the results produced by the agency of the Spirit everywhere, in the universe of matter and spirit. The results are manifest. The cause is invisible, and events appear as they would, were they the exclusive results of the internal powers of nature itself. All the miracles of Christ, we are told, were directly and immediately performed through the invisible agency of 'the Spirit of God.' Christ, for example, said to the winds and waves on the Sea of Galilee. 'Peace, be still.' The Spirit invisibly 'moved upon the face of the waters,' and energized in the atmosphere around, and thus induced the subsidence of the waves and the stillness of the atmosphere which immediately ensued. So in all other instances. As our object is simply to indicate the relations under consideration, we do not enlarge.
Between these Tri-Personalities, we remark once more, there is the revealed action of the social principlerelations analogous to those which result from the intercommunion and fellowship of mind with mind. Finite minds have 'fellowship (intercommunion) one with another,' while all the pure in heart have 'fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ,' the Finite with the Infinite. In the Godhead we have the revealed intercommunion and fellowship of the Infinite with the Infinite. The love, for example, which the Father exercises towards believers is affirmed to be the same in kind as that which He exercises towards the Son. 'That the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them AS Thou hast loved Me.' 'That the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them.' The love also which Christ exercises towards the faithful believer, is affirmed to be the same in kind, and secured on the same conditions as that which the Father exercises towards the Son. 'As the Father hath loved Me, So have I loved you: continue ye in My love. If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love.' The union and fellowship existing between true believers is also affirmed to be the same in kind as that which exists between the Father and the Son. 'That they may be one, even as we are one''That they all may be one: as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us.' Nothing can be more plain than is the revealed fact, that between the Tri-Personalities of the Godhead, there is a form of the action of the social principle analogous to the actual intercommunion and fellowship of mind with mindthat of the Infinite with the Infinite.
Considerations which commend this Doctrine to our Reason and Judgment.
While there is nothing whatever in the doctrine under consideration against which science can object, there are considerations connected with this doctrine which commend it to our highest regard. Through this doctrine, for example, the Godhead is revealed to us in absolute accordance with our conscious necessities as creatures, and more especially as sinners. We consciously need a 'Father in heaven,' whom sinners may approach through a more than humanthrough a really and truly divine Mediator. We as consciously need an indwelling divine and 'eternal Spirit,' through whose infallible teachings and illuminations we can see ourselves as God sees us, can know ourselves, not only as sinners, but as 'the sons of God,' can 'behold with open face the glory of the Lord,' and thus become God-like and Christ-like in character and blessedness. Nothing can be more reasonable than a form of divine revelation which thus accords with the conscious necessities of universal human nature.
This doctrine, also, has in its favour the analogy of universal nature in all departments of sentient existence. How universal, in all departments of such existence, is the action of the social principle. If the same principle obtains in the Godhead, we have an explanation of the facts of sentient nature otherwise inconceivable, and the analogy between God and His works is perfect.
This doctrine and this exclusively, we remark once more, renders conceivable to us the infinite blessedness of God. The action of the social principle seems to be the immutable condition of real happiness on the part of all sentient, and more especially of all rational, finite natures. Nor could the action of this principle between the Finite and the Infinite meet the wants of the latter. A mind dwelling apart and alone in infinite and eternal solitariness, how can we conceive of the full and perfect blessedness of such mind, though it is infinite and perfect in itself? If there is, on the other hand, in the Godhead the actual intercommunion and fellowship of the Infinite with the Infinite, the result must be infinite and eternal blessedness. Hence it is, that whenever the idea of a divine unity which excludes wholly all plurality obtains, the idea of God as void of emotion prevails, and any thought of His blessedness has a very obscure and unimpressive place. Whenever, on the other hand, the doctrine of the Tri-Unity of the Godhead is held, then we find a distinct and vivid impression of the infinite blessedness of God. The reason is obvious. The idea of infinite blessedness, and that of infinite and eternal solitariness, seem to be incompatible ideas, while the former idea naturally arises when that of the intercommunion and fellowship of the Infinite with the Infinite has place. Reasons of infinite weight, therefore, commend this doctrine, as a revealed truth, to our highest regard.
THE DOCTRINE OF INCARNATION AND ATONEMENT.
In the Old Testament God is affirmed to have made direct and audible communications with men. These communications were commonly made through some visible form of divine manifestation, as in the 'burning bush,' the pillar of cloud and of fire, the thunder cloud and thick darkness, or angelic or human forms. The term, 'Angel of the Lord,' was appropriated, as all careful readers of the Scriptures are aware, to represent the idea of Jehovah, not as He exists by Himself, but as thus manifested. Thus we read, at one time, that God, and at another that 'the Angel of the Lord,' spoke to Moses in the bush, and went before the hosts of Israel in a pillar of aloud by day, and of fire by night, the two terms being everywhere employed interchangeably in the Scriptures. In Mal. iii. l, this visibly manifested Jehovah, this 'Angel of the Lord,' by whom the covenants, and all divine manifestations, were made, is identified with the promised Messiah, that is, with Christ. 'Behold, I will send My messenger, and He shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the Covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.'
In the New Testament, this 'Angel of the Lord,' this 'messenger of the Covenant,' 'the Lord,' who was not only 'the delight' of the Jews, but 'the desire of all nations,' 'the Word who was in the beginning with God, and was God,' the Word by whom 'all things were made, and without whom was nothing made that was made,' is affirmed to have 'become flesh, and dwelt among us.' Here we find ourselves in the open presence of the mystery of the Incarnation'God,' not visibly manifested in transient, vanishing forms, but 'manifest in the flesh,' and 'dwelling among us.' What has reason and science to say of such a doctrine? We answer:
Relations of the Doctrine of Incarnation to Reason and Science.
1. There is no element, or feature, or characteristic of this doctrine which has even the appearance of a natural impossibility. If a personal God exists, and there is no fact, truth, or principle known to science which contradicts this doctrine, it is undeniable that as a self-conscious personality God may, when He chooses, make communications to His rational offspring, and may do this through any visible forms he may select.
2. Nor is there anything in this doctrine which has the appearance of incredibility. If creatures need divine communications, and we all know that they do need them, it is not reason, but unreason, to suppose that such revelations will not be made. The making of such revelations through visible forms, renders God's personality, personal presence, and love and care for us, more distinct and impressive than is otherwise possible. Such considerations undeniably remove wholly every shade of incredibility from every form of divine manifestation recorded in the Bible. Grant the being of a personal God, and the conscious needs of universal mind, and the only mystery about the matter is that such manifestations have not been of far more frequent occurrence than the revealed record indicates.
3. The crowning glory of all such manifestations is 'God manifest in the flesh.' That God, in a human form and condition, should descend to us in our sin, ruin, and misery, should become our example, teacher, and guide, should reveal to us, not only our sin, but the conditions of escape from its bondage and curse-power, and should 'bring life and immortality to light' in the midst of our darkness and gloomthis great fact will fill eternity, and to eternity will constitute the central theme of thought and study with the great intelligences of the universe. The scoff of Unbelief at such a doctrine is nothing but a revelation of debasing ignorance, consummate folly, and reckless presumption. What does the unbeliever know of what is, and is not, possible with God? On what authority does he dogmatize in respect to God's thoughts and ways? With an effrontery at which 'devils tremble,' the unbeliever advances boldly to the eternal throne, and questions God in respect to His judgments, thoughts, ways, dispensations, and forms of manifestation. God, while He responds not to such impious questionings, holds in reserve retributions according to deeds.
The main revealed purpose of the Incarnation is Atonement, which embraces two chief elementsSubstitution and Satisfaction. 'Christ died for our sins, the just for (in the place of) the unjust.' There is substitution. His sufferings and death, as 'a sacrifice for sin,' renders it 'just' in God to 'justify,' pardon, treat as just, or as if he had never sinned, 'him who believeth in Jesus.' There is satisfaction. Angels and redeemed sinners are together in heaven, and God and the rational universe are equally satisfied to have them together there. The former are there on the ground of personal desert, they having never sinned at all. The latter are there because Christ 'was slain, and redeemed them unto God by His blood,' that is, made atonement for them. The reason in both cases is equally satisfactory. Such is atonement. What are the relations of this doctrine to reason and science? We answer:
Relations of this Doctrine to Reason and Science.
1. While neither reason nor science can affirm Atonement to be impossible with God, for aught we do or can know, there may be in the Divine mind reasons of infinite weight why it should be known to the rational universe, that without an atonement sin will never be forgiven. The revelation of such provision may also be to the universe what revelation affirms it to be, the crowning glory of all the divine works, government, and manifestations. Through no conceivable form of manifestation can such love to creatures, such regard for their well-being, and such wisdom in making provision for their immortal interests, be shown. While atonement is above reason and science, they can appreciate the grace and glory manifested in it.
2. The fact that this is God's revealed method of 'making an end of sin, and bringing in everlasting righteousness,' should for ever silence all objections on the part of creatures against it. Salvation from sin is undeniably the great conscious necessity of universal humanity. If God has revealed a method for the accomplishment of this result, a method satisfactory to Himself and to the Intelligence of heaven, how impious in man to object against it?
3. This doctrine, instead of being opposed to reason, does in fact accord with the intuitive convictions of the race. The consciousness of sin and the consequent need of pardon is co-extensive with the human consciousness itself. In all minds, in all ages, the idea of pardon has been immutably associated with that of some sacrifice as atonement for sin. The natural cry of conscious sin as the creature approaches his God is: 'Wherewith shall I come before the Lord?''Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?' The atonement of Christ is but the antitype foreshadowed by the sentiment which thus lies upon the soul of universal humanity.
4. The pardon of sin, we remark once more, through a divinely originated atonement, is far more honourable to God, and more safe, as a method of Divine administration than any other conceivable condition. Pardon, under a purely legal administration, is one of the most perilous principles known under any form of government, inducing, as it does, in all minds the hope of impunity in crime. Pardon through atonement is not only most honourable to God, but renders perfectly safe all interests concerned, the law 'being magnified and made honourable,' while its penalty is remitted. While the doctrine of Incarnation and Atonement is above reason, it has, as a revealed truth, the most absolute sanction of the highest reason.
RELATIONS OF GOD TO BELIEVERS AS A HEARER OF PRAYER.
'Give us this day our daily bread.' 'The prayer of faith shall save the sick.' 'Is any man afflicted, let him pray.' 'The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.' 'How much more shall your heavenly Father GIVE good things to them that ask Him.' 'And He spake this parable unto them, that men ought always to pray and not to faint.' 'Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He shall give it you.' 'Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be fullcasting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you. We give the above as examples of the teaching of inspiration on this subject. If we may credit 'what is written,' prayer has 'much avail,' not merely in the sphere of our spiritual interests, but equally in reference to all our temporal cares and concernments, and has power to secure changes which would not otherwise occur, not only in the wide realm of our moral and spiritual relations, but equally in respect to physical events in the world around us. Unbelief affirms that here, as elsewhere, Scripture and science are in conflict. What are the real facts of the case? On this subject we remark:
Relations of this Doctrine to the Teachings of Science.
1. No fact known to science affirms, or renders it even antecedently probable, that the Spirit of God, as a self-conscious personal agent, is not Omnipresent in nature, that every law of nature is not the expression of His will, and that every event in nature is not under His direct and immediate control. This fact has been rendered undeniably evident in our former discussions.
2. The dogma that all events in the world of matter are under the inexorable control of mere physical law, is perpetually contradicted by visible and conscious facts. Changes in naturechanges which would not otherwise occurare perpetually visible all around us as the exclusive results of the action of free-will in man. The action of free-will in nature, and the contingency of physical events upon its action, is a fact just as manifest as is the occurrence of any events through physical law. The doctrine, that all physical events, not to speak of moral and spiritual, are under the same rule of physical law, is undeniably false in fact.
3. There is not a fact known to science, or within the range of human observation and thought, a fact which, in the remotest sense, contradicts, or renders improbable the doctrine that changes in the current of events in nature around us are produced by the action of the free-will of God, in a manner analogous or similar to that in which similar changes are being produced by that of the free-will of man. What, if the facts revealed through the telescope, the microscope, in the laboratory of the chemist, and the dissecting room of the anatomist, were adduced to prove that no changes in nature do, or can, occur through the free action of the human will? Such reasoning would be no more illogical than is the inference from the same and similar facts, or from any facts known to man, that no such changes are ever induced through the free-will of God.
4. For aught that man does or can know upon the subject, the perpetuation of the universal order and harmony of nature through the exclusive action of mere necessary physical law, may be a natural impossibility. The preservation of the universal order we witness, the balance of worlds in empty space, and the harmony of events around us, may, for aught we do or can know, be necessarily contingent on changes produced by the direct action of the free-will of God. Of one fact we are absolutely sure, that our own ignorance on this subject is absolute. Equally assured are we that the ignorance of all scientists on the same subject is, and must be, as absolute as ours. Nothing can surpass the impiety and presumption of men who boldly and dogmatically assert, 'that they know fact, and that they know law,' and that all events are under the exclusive control of mere physical law, and that the free-will of God, equally with that of man, is not active in nature.
5. According to the infidel hypothesis, the free-will of God is less free, and more confined and limited in its action in Nature than is that of man. The free-will of man undeniably can, and does, produce constant changes in the current of events around us, and this with no violation of any material law. What dogma can be more absurd than is the idea, that the free-will of the Author of Nature is limited in the Nature which he constituted to the exclusive control of blind, unconscious and bald, natural and necessary law? No more absurd conception ever danced in the brain of a crazy philosophy. The Christian hypothesis, as an object of thought, is infinitely superior to the godless dogma under consideration. The idea of a universe under the immediate direction and control of an infinite and perfect mind is as much superior to that of a godless universe under the domain of necessary physical law, as mind is superior to matter; while the most debasing and absurd of all possible conceptions is that of an infinite and perfect free Spirit in Nature, and that Spirit chained down and limited there to the iron control of blind material law. Nothing can be more senseless and absurd than is what Mr. Beecher rightly calls 'the perpetual twaddle of infidelity' about the universal and iron rule of necessary law in Nature.
6. Hence we remark finally, that no truth of nature or inspiration can be more reasonable in itself, more accordant with conscious facts of the human Will, more correlative to the conscious needs of human nature, and more in harmony with all proper ideas of God, and of His relations to His own works, than is the Doctrine of Prayer as set forth in the Scriptures. There is not a fact of nature known to mind that is in conflict with that doctrine. There is not a want of mind, or a known attribute of God, which is not in full harmony with this doctrine, and does not affirm its validity. Receiving as deductions of science this 'twaddle of infidelity' about the reign of universal and necessary law in nature, and the consequent limitations of our ideas of the proper sphere and efficacy of prayer, has been most manifestly a chief cause of that eclipse of the faith of the Church in God, and of His revealed truth. When our unbelief has closed the ear of God to our prayers relative to our sicknesses and daily cares and concernments, as well as to passing events in the world around us, we shall find our God nowhere. We may still chatter the words, 'Our Father, which art in heaven,' 'Give us this day our daily bread.' Our words, however, will be not only void of real meaning, but as powerless to stir the spirit of devotion, thanksgiving, faith, or hope, in our hearts, as if they were addressed to Juggernaut, or an iceberg. We stand before God as 'mockers,' when we ask of Him favours which we say in our hearts He will not give. Those who would take lessons about prayer from such men as Protagoras, Tyndall, Spencer, and Huxley, would do well to hold the admonition of Socrates about such teachers. The following passage we have quoted once before. It will well bear a second reading.
'Is not, O Hippocrates, a Sophist, a seller or vendor of articles on which the soul is fed? He seems to me to be something of that kind.'
'What, Socrates! is the soul fed? On what, I pray?'
'On the lessons of teachers, and we must take care that the Sophists do not cheat us in selling their wares, as the sellers of food for the body often do. For they, without knowing what is really good for the body, praise all their wares alike, and the buyer knows just as little, unless he be a physician or a training-master. And just so these vendors of lessons, who carry their wares about from city to city, and sell them to everyone whom they can persuade to buy, praise all the articles which they sell; but very likely some of these, too, know very little what is good for the soul, and what is not; and the buyer knows just as little, except any of them be soul-physicians. If, then, you are a judge of what is good in this way, and what is not, you may safely buy lessons of Protagoras, or anyone else. But if not, take care, my good friend, that you do not run a dreadful risk in a vital concern; for there is far more danger in buying lessons than in buying victuals.'
For myself, I would as soon purchase henbane as food for the body, as buy lessons from these men on so vital a subject as prayer.
The most senseless and perilous of all ideas pertaining to prayer for temporal good is, that its design is, not to secure help from God, but to quicken our own efforts in the use of means. Prayer, prompted by such a sentiment, will be as powerless to quicken our activities as it will be to move the heart of God. Prayer has the power which inspiration ascribes to it, or it is a senseless mockery of God.
PHILOSOPHY OF THE EARLY CHRISTIAN ERA.
THROUGHOUT the entire sphere of philosophic thought which we have thus far traversed, one idea has everywhere, and in all systems in common, lifted its divine form before our mindsthat of a personal God. In every system which the human mind has ever originated, this one idea has been omnipresent, either in its affirmative or negative form. In all systems alike the doctrine of God has been, in fact and form, specifically affirmed or denied, thus evincing the absolute omnipresence of the doctrine in human thought. Nor did Philosophy ever present or discuss this doctrine as an idea which scientific thought had of itself originated, but as an object of the pre-existing faith of the race. Philosophy never originates its own problems, but attempts the solution of those which the primitive thought of the race has previously originated. Had not the idea of Ultimate Causation, of the Organization of the Universe as an event of time, and consequently that 'the worlds were framed by the word of God,' previously presented itself to human thought, and become an article of the primitive faith of the race, Philosophy would never have originated the idea, or concerned itself with inquiries in respect to its validity or invalidity. Mind cannot exist and think at all without being confronted with the ideas of matter and spirit, time and space, of an organized universe, of proximate and ultimate Causation, and consequently, with those of God, Duty, Immortality, and Retribution. The central problem which Philosophy has ever concerned itself with is, Ultimate Causation by Natural Law, or by the Word of a personal God. This problem Philosophy cannot ignore if it would, and it should not do it if it could. Human thought will never rest until the doctrine of Ultimate Causation shall be finally settled, and that upon a strictly scientific basis.
Since the introduction of the Christian Era, the problem under consideration has assumed, in fundamental respects, aspects entirely new. In former ages Theism and Anti-theism confronted each other. Now the main issue, as presented in all philosophical systems, lies not merely between Theism and Anti-theism, but between the latter and Christian Theism. The old issue is not ignored. Yet the main interest turns upon the real relations actually existing between science and the Christian religion. Wherever any contact occurs between the latter and any of the sciences, there a special issue is raised, not so much with Theism as with the idea of God as developed in the Christian Scriptures. Facts of Geology, for example, facts bearing also upon the antiquity of the human race, and the doctrines of Evolution and Development, are seldom or never adduced to disprove the doctrine of Theism by itself, but Theism as developed in these writings. With few and honourable exceptions, all who deny the divinity of Christianity impeach Theism itself. The leaders of the Broad Church openly avow a deeper sympathy with the Rationalism, Atheism, and Scepticism of the age than with Christianity. Such being the obvious state of facts, certain fundamental inquiries here arise, inquiries each of which demands a specific answer as preparatory to our future elucidations.
RELATIONS BETWEEN THEISM PROPER AND CHRISTIAN THEISM.
WERE we to provide an illustration of our idea of the relations of Theism proper to Christian Theism, we should present the natural eye, in the first case, and then the same organ as aided by the microscope, on the one hand, and the telescope on the other. The real difference in the forms of vision in the two cases lies here. Vision in respect to all objects is far more distinct and impressive, and infinitely more enlarged in the latter case than in the former. In no respects is there a conflict between the two forms of Theism under consideration. As far as their revelations and deductions pertain to the same verities, a perfect harmony obtains between them. Yet, like that which obtains between the revelations of the natural eye and those of the microscope and telescope, an essential difference in important respects obtains between the revelations of natural and of Christian Theism.
Christian Theism renders infinitely more distinct and impressive the real verities apprehended through Natural Theism.
As we have stated, where the teachings of the two systems relate to the same verities, a perfect unity obtains between them. Yet even here an essential difference obtains, as far as the elements of distinctness and impressiveness are concerned, a difference like that which obtains in our vision of objects when seen under the dimness of star-light and the cloudless illumination of the noonday sun. The facts of nature, for example, facts material and mental, have rendered omnipresent in all minds in common the idea of a personal God, 'the Former of all things,' and rendered equally omnipresent the conviction of His being, perfection, and universal dominion. Nor are unbelievers of any school real exceptions to these statements. Notwithstanding all their affirmations to the contrary, in the interior of their own minds they as really believe in the actual existence of matter, spirit, time, space, and God as the universal Creator and Governor, as do the rest of mankind. When an individual, for example, enters into an earnest argument with me, to prove to himself and me that neither himself nor myself really exists, I am necessarily reminded of an ancient utterance, 'professing themselves to be wise, they become fools.' I know, in short, that he does not believe in the validity of his own theory or argument. If he truly believes that neither himself, myself, nor anybody else really exists, where is the ground for his solicitude to convince these nobodies that nobody exists? While no one does or can sincerely doubt his own or the existence of other beings, and of the universe around him, he must of necessity as really believe in the being of God. Yet God, as apprehended in the light of these mere facts, is to the mind one reality. As apprehended through the superadded light of inspiration He is the same, and yet quite another reality, the Supreme and all-overshadowing Presence. In the former state we believe in God. In the latter we need not only believe in, but know God, 'beholding with open face the glory of the Lord.'
The consciousness of sin and of ill desert on account of sin, is coextensive with the action of human consciousness itself. Yet sin and its desert, as apprehended in the twilight of the natural conscience on the one hand, and in the light of inspiration, and especially of the convicting power of the Eternal Spirit on the other, hardly appear as the same thing. The same holds true of all verities of Nature, when apprehended under the sun-light of Revealed Religion. In the latter state they have a distinctness and impressiveness which do not and cannot belong to them in the former, 'Life and immortality are brought to light' (not originated, but brought out of obscurity and set in distinct and all-impressive visibility), 'through the Gospel.'
Christian Theism extends our vision of truth beyond the possible reach of Natural Theism.
Revealed religion not only illuminates what was previously known, but extends our vision of truth to spheres and relations of existence which lie wholly beyond the reach of our faculties when under the exclusive light of nature. Man is consciously a sinner, and is burdened with a conscious forfeiture of the Divine favour, and a corresponding desert of the Divine displeasure. If any destiny awaits us but that demanded by pure justice and our ill-desert, and especially if God has chosen to make special provisions for our deliverance from the curse-penalty of sin, and the power of evil principles and tendenciesin short, if we are under a dispensation of grace and not of justice, and if God is consequently in other than purely legal relations to us on all such subjects, all our knowledge must be a matter of pure and special revelation. We are in the midst of verities of infinite and eternal moment to us, verities, however, 'which lie wholly beyond the possible reach of our unaided faculties. All our light here must undeniably come directly and exclusively from God Himself.
To these inner and higher and most momentous of all verities, revelation professedly introduces us. Natural Theology reveals God to us in His original relations to the universe, and to us as mere rational beings. Inspired Theology reveals God to us in His new, self-moved, self-determined, and divinely adapted relations to our actual conditions and necessities, not merely as rationals, but as sinners in the, to us, remediless ruin of sin. What these new relations are, supposing them to exist, on what conditions the promises of 'life eternal' may become available to us, and what new light the revelation of these new relations may throw upon the Divine perfections and glory, and what, for the want of better terms, we may denominate the modes of the Divine existence and activityall must be to us blank midnight but as we are directly and immediately, instrumentally it may be, 'taught of God.' The same holds equally true of our special duties and destiny in these new relations. As the Author of this new life and the revealer of God in these new relations, Christ affirms Himself to be 'the Light of the world.'
Christian Theism confirms and reaffirms the validity of the Doctrine of God as taught by Natural Theology.
We now notice one other relation of Christian Theism to the teachings of Natural Theology, a relation, in our judgment, singularly overlooked by Christian Theists. Christian Theism furnishes an independent proof of the being and government of God, a form of proof which would, upon purely scientific grounds, have absolute validity did none other exist. The occurrence of a single supernatural fact in nature, a fact which cannot be accounted for by reference to any inhering law of nature, absolutely evinces the existence in and over nature of a corresponding supernatural power. The great central facts recorded in Scripture, admitting their actual occurrence, furnish the same proof of the doctrine of God, that the known facts of astronomy do of the truth of the Copernican System. Nor does true science require any more valid proof of the reality of supernatural, than it does of that of astronomical facts. All that real science requires in any case is evidence having the known characteristics of absolute validity. All are aware that there are forms of evidence which often prove deceptive, and that there are other forms that never do, and never can, deceive. Nor is it difficult to furnish the criteria which distinguish the former kind from the latter. Were it fully ascertained that the evidence on which the deduction is based, that the sun is the centre of the solar system, is of the class first designated, that one fact would wholly invalidate the claims of the Copernican System to our regard. We believe in that system because the facts adduced, supposing them real, absolutely imply the truth of the systemand because the reality of the facts is evinced by evidence of no doubtful character, evidence which never does, and never can, deceive. Suppose now that the occurrence of facts of an undeniably supernatural character is affirmed by evidence, the same in kind and degree, evidence which never does deceive, and the invalidity of which is absolutely inexplicable. We should subvert utterly the foundation of all the physical sciences if we should then deny the occurrence of these facts, or refuse to admit the validity of all the deductions which they necessarily yield. Mr. Hume, with the entire school of unbelief, in his famous argument against the reality of miracles, an argument based upon the deceptive character of human testimony, forgot that there are two kinds of testimonyone which often deceivesand another which never does mislead. Let the evidence of miracles furnished by testimony be wholly of this latter kind, and let that evidence be confirmed by circumstances which never encircle a falsehood, and affirm its truthin such a case we displace ourselves from the sphere of true science if we deny the reality of the facts, or the validity of the deductions which said facts yield.
We have, then, the same right to argue from the supernatural facts recorded in Scripture to the existence and agency in and over nature of a personal God, that we can have to argue from the known facts of astronomy to the truth of the Copernican System. In both cases in common the same inquiries are to be raised in respect to the reality of the facts adduced, and the same identical criteria are to be applied in determining the validity of the evidence presented of their occurrence.
We do not argue, it should be borne in mind, the validity of the claims of Theism from the testimony of the Scriptures to their truthfulness. Nor do we, in this connection, argue their Divine origin and authority from these events. All such questions are reserved for another department of our inquiries. What we do argue in this connection is thisthat the facts recorded in Scripture, granting their occurrence, do furnish as valid a scientific basis for the claims of Theism, as those of astronomy do for the truth of the Copernican System, or as any facts can furnish for any deduction whatever in any of the physical or metaphysical sciences; and, as we shall hereafter show, we have evidence, the same in kind and degree, of the reality of the facts in the former case as we have in any of the latter cases. Such are the undeniable relations of Christian Theism to Natural Theology.
THE RELATIONS OF CHRISTIAN THEISM TO THE SCIENCE OF COSMOLOGY.
To have a valid Ontology, that is, a true science of Being and its Laws, all actual facts must be taken into our reckoning, and be fully accounted for. If any real fact, or class of facts, is ignored, or repudiated as unreal, we should of necessity rear up a structure not of true, but of false science. We should assume forms of non-being as realities, and class realities among 'things that are not.' Facts are adamantine realities 'which cannot be shaken,' and every real fact will have its proper place and influence, and be fully accounted for in every scientifically constructed system of Cosmology. In the construction of most systems, facts are manufactured or ignored, assumed or repudiated, as existing exigencies require.
The actual occurrence of a single supernatural fact absolutely implies, as we have before said, the real existence, in and over nature, of a supernatural power. When the occurrence of such an event has been verified by valid evidence, the existence of the implied power must constitute an essential element and feature of our cosmological system. Otherwise the system which we shall construct will be a lie. In the presence of such a verified power, every true philosopher will be very modest in his affirmations about the extent to which passing events around us are under the control of mere naked physical law, or are determined, without violating any such law, by the action of this existing supernatural power. He will perceive nothing incredible in the idea that natural law itself may be so far under the control of the supernatural, that God, without violating any mental or physical law, may determine the current of events in specific accordance with the wants of mind, and be continuously manifested to the pure in heart as a hearer of prayer. The pedant Scientist, on the other hand, will imperiously dogmatize as if he were truly omniscient, just where his ignorance is and must, undeniably, be absolute. Listen, for a moment, to the dogmatic dicta of our embryo scientist. 'Fact I know, and Law I know.' My dear sir, should you ever become older and wiser than you now are, if 'wisdom shall enter into thine heart, and knowledge become pleasant unto thy soul,' you will blush with shame at the remembrance of such a presumptuous and absurd utterance as that. You are omniscient neither in respect to facts nor the ultimate law which determines their occurrence. Your ignorance is absolute in regard to the extent to which the natural may be determined by the supernatural in the current of facts which are moving by you. As a consequence, you stand convicted of imperiously and senselessly dogmatizing in respect to both universal 'Fact' and 'Law,' of which 'One partone little partyou dimly scan.'
The Question of the Reality of these Facts, to be determined, first of all, wholly irrespective of their bearing upon the Claims of the Christian Religion.
The great central facts under consideration do have, as we have shown, their actual occurrence being admitted, a fundamental bearing in determining a valid system of Cosmology. The same facts, on the same admission, may have, and as we shall see hereafter, do have, a similar bearing upon the claims of the Christian religion. In determining the question whether those affirmed facts did, or did not occur, all inquiry in respect to their bearings in any direction is to be left wholly, for the time being, out of the account. If the facts did occur, and did occur as specific attestations of the truth of a particular religion, they do, undeniably, verify the existence of a supernatural and Divine power in and over nature, on the one hand, and the Divine origin and authority of that religion on the other. The question of the actuality of these facts, however, is to be determined by itself, and that by a rigid application of the laws of historic evidence. For aught we know to the contrary, God may in times past have interposed, and may interpose in the future, in forms undeniably supernatural, and that without revealing the specific reasons for such interpositions, His object being, it may be, simply to remind His rational offspring of His presence and agency in nature. It may be, on the other hand, that in connection with such interpositions the specific reason for their occurrence has been also revealed. All this, however, has nothing to do with the question, did or did not these events occur.
RELATIONS OF SUPERNATURAL EVENTS, AND THE ACTION OF A SUPERNATURAL POWER IN NATURE, TO THE SO-CALLED LAWS OF NATURE.
IF a supernatural power actually exists in and over nature, the WILL of that power must be the supreme law of nature itself, and the ultimate and all-determining cause of the current of events around us, and each specific order of events must be an expression of the Will of that sovereign power. If the being in whom this power resides should choose that the order of events shall be, for the most part, in the fixed direction of uniform antecedence and consequence, but that as occasion requires there shall be special departures from this principle, there would be in such an arrangement an absolute conformity to the supreme law of nature, and no more violation of any specific law in one case than in the other. It is an immutable law of each physical substance in nature, that its motion shall ever be in the fixed direction of the strongest force acting upon it at each successive moment. It is, as we say, a fixed law of water and kindred fluids to run down an inclined plane. Suppose that by some attracting cause far stronger than that to which they are now subject, they should be drawn in the opposite direction. Their flow up, instead of down, the plane referred to, would in that case be just as natural, and as accordant with all existing laws of nature, as in their present direction. Any change whatever produced in nature by the action of a cause more powerful than those now determining the current of events, is as natural and accordant with all existing laws, as any other event can be. A supernatural, supposing it actual, is no unnatural event, and its occurrence implies the violation of no existing law, but absolute accordance with every such law.
SUPERNATURAL, OR MIRACULOUS EVENTS DEFINEDTHEIR POSSIBILITY, AND PROBABILITYTHEIR BEARING UPON THE CLAIMS OF CHRISTIAN RELIGION, ETC.
Such Events Defined.
WHAT then is a supernatural, or miraculous event, as distinguished from facts of ordinary occurrence? The real distinction, we reply, lies here. Whenever events occur in the fixed order of antecedence and consequence the immediate cause is not manifested. Their occurrence equally accords with two distinct and opposite hypotheses, and therefore implies the truth of neither in opposition to the otherthe hypothesis of Divine Causationand that of natural law. When, on the other band, an event occurs in such relations and circumstances, as necessarily imply its production through the immediate agency of a supernatural cause, such event, to distinguish it from those of ordinary occurrence, is denominated supernatural, or miraculous. It is not thus designated because its occurrence was, in itself, less natural or more contradictory to any natural law, than is any other event, but because the former does, and the latter does not imply, and thus reveal, its immediate cause. A supernatural, or miraculous event, then, is one whose occurrence cannot be accounted for through natural lawan event, therefore, which implies the existence and action in nature of a supernatural cause, and the presence and action of that cause in the production of said event. A supernatural event, or a miracle, implies the violation or suspension of no existing law, but as perfectly as any other event accords with the ultimate and supreme law to which all facts are subordinate, and with the nature of all existing substances. It does, however, imply such a change in the common and visible order of events, as absolutely to imply the presence and immediate action of a supernatural power. If God should, as he often may do, produce invisibly to His creatures changes in the ordinary course of events, such changes, though in themselves as really supernatural as any others, would be no miracle to us. To be to us really supernatural, they must be events of which we can take such cognizance, that we can know that their immediate cause must be supernatural.
Conditions of the Possibility, or Probability of the Occurrence of Supernatural Events.
If a supernatural power does exist in and over nature, then undeniably the actual occurrence of supernatural, or miraculous events, is in itself just as possible as that of any other event, actual or conceivable. The occurrence of such events, granting the existence of the power under consideration, is just as probable as is the probability that exigencies may arise demanding such interpositions, and is absolutely certain whenever such exigencies do arise. The impossibility of the occurrence of supernatural events can be affirmed but upon one exclusive conditionan absolute denial of the existence of a supernatural power. Their improbability can be affirmed but upon a denial of the probability of the existence, in the past or future, of exigencies requiring their occurrence. The certainty of their non-occurrence can be affirmed, the existence of the power referred to being admitted, but upon an absolute denial of the occurrence, during the eternity past and the eternity to come, of any exigency demanding such interposition. We hold that no propositions can have greater intuitive and demonstrative certainty than those above presented. Omniscience is necessary for a valid denial of all past and of all future miracles.
The Knowledge which all who affirm the Impossibility, Improbability, or Non-actuality of Supernatural Events, do, in reality, assume the possession of.
We have already rendered it demonstrably evident, that the being of a personal God, or the existence of a supernatural power in and over nature, cannot by any possibility be disproved, and that against the doctrine no form or degree of positive evidence can be adduced. There is, undeniably, but two conceivable, and therefore possible hypotheses of ultimate causationthe Theistic, and that of Natural Lawand one of these must be true, and the other false. No form of valid proof, or positive evidence, can be adduced in favour of the latter hypothesis and against the former, because that all facts deducible in favour of the latter, are equally explicable on the former hypothesis. Nor can any antecedent probability be adduced against the Theistic hypothesis, and in favour of that of Natural Law. Against the possibility of miracles, therefore, no form of proof, positive evidence, or antecedent probability can be adduced. The same holds equally in respect to the idea of their probability, and actuality. To know that such occurrences are impossible and unreal, we must know that a supernatural power in and over nature does not exist. To know this, we must, undeniably, be possessed of absolute omniscience. We must have an absolute knowledge of all events, past, present, and to come, and of all substances and causes existing and acting in nature, and in infinite space. If there is any event of which we have not an absolute knowledge, that event may be, or may have been, produced by a supernatural cause. If there is any cause existing and acting in nature, or in infinite space, a cause of which we have not a similar knowledge, that cause, undeniably, may be a supernatural one. All scientists who affirm the impossibility of supernatural events do, in fact, arrogate to themselves the possession of absolute omniscience. They really and truly profess an absolute knowledge of all events of the eternity past, and of the eternity to come, and of all causes acting in infinite space, and eternal duration. On no other condition than the actual possession of such knowledge, can they, without infinite criminality and presumption, deny the possibility, probability, or actuality, of supernatural events in nature. When they make such denials, they positively assume to themselves, we repeat, the actual possession of an absolute omniscience of all events of the past and future, and of all causes existing and acting in infinite space and eternal duration. Well may every sober thinker, in view of the infinite impiety, folly, presumption, and arrogance of such men, exclaim, 'O my soul, come not thou into their secret; and into their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united.' Thinkers cannot be innocent who arrogate to themselves the actual possession of a perfect knowledge of all events of the past and future, of all exigencies which have arisen during the eternity past, or which may arise during the eternity to come, and of all causes which do exist and act in infinite space and eternal duration. We affirm, without fear of contradiction, that these men are not possessed of the knowledge of a single fact which, in the remotest degree, indicates the real impossibility, improbability, or non-actuality of supernatural events.
CONDITIONS ON WHICH WE ARE ABSOLUTELY BOUND To ADMIT THE ACTUAL OCCURRENCE OF SUPERNATURAL EVENTS.
Against the possibility and actuality of supernatural events, as we have seen, no form or degree of real proof, positive evidence, or even antecedent probability can be adduced. On what condition, then, should we hold ourselves bound to admit the actual occurrence of such events in any given case? On this one exclusive condition, we answer: the actual presentation of that form and degree of evidence known to be valid in all other cases. Just this and nothing more nor less have we a right to require, and just this we are bound to require in all such cases. Whenever the occurrence of an event, undeniably supernatural, has been fully verified by such evidence, we violate all the laws and principles of scientific induction and deduction, should we withhold a full and prompt assent to the actuality of the event itself, and to all the consequences which the fact implies. Against the occurrence of the fact, no form or degree of real proof, positive evidence, or antecedent probability can be adduced. In its verification, we have just that form and degree of positive evidence which never in any other case misleads, and which everywhere distinguishes the real from the unreal. No higher, or more abundant, evidence can rationally be required for miracles than for any other events in respect to which certainty is demanded. No more valid evidence have we a right to require, as the basis of religious belief, than is properly demanded as the basis of implicit belief in the science of Astronomy or any other of the á posteriori sciences. When the existence of Jesus Christ and the reality of the 'mighty works' ascribed to Him, have been verified to us by a rigid application of all the known laws and principles of historic verity, we justly forfeit the eternal life which He came to procure for and reveal to us, if we refuse to believe in Him. The sentiment so often repeated, that higher evidence is demanded to establish the occurrence of a supernatural event, than is required to verify, with perfect certainty, other classes of facts, is false in fact, and of most dangerous tendency. If higher degrees of evidence are to be demanded in the former than in cases of the latter kind, who can tell us what the form and degree of this higher evidence is? If evidence, known to be perfectly valid for certainty in all other cases, is not to be received as valid in the case of supernatural events, no one can inform us when and where assent becomes a duty, and dissent a sin. When evidence, known to have full validity in all other cases, is presented in verification of the occurrence of a supernatural event, obligation for assent becomes absolute and the criminality of dissent infinite.
Conditions on which we may Properly withhold Assent to the Actuality of Supernatural Events affirmed to have occurred.
The conditions on which we may rationally and virtuously withhold assent to a statement, that a miraculous event has occurred in any given case, now become obvious. They are the following:
1. The event may be in itself not of a supernatural character, but of naturally impossible occurrence. We meet with a statement, for example, not that an event has occurred in such relations and circumstances as imply the presence and action of a supernatural cause, but that God had actually caused the same thing, at the same moment, to exist, and not to exist. We should dementate ourselves, if we should seriously inquire whether such an event had, or had not, occurred. Those who confound events which no power can produce, with those which a supernatural power, supposing it to exist, may produce, are without excuse.
2. There may be, in certain cases, a reasonable doubt about the character of the event, supposing it to be real. An event may occur, an event inexplicable through any causes known to us. Yet its character may be such as not necessarily to imply the presence and action, in its production, of a supernatural cause. In all such cases assent to the event as supernatural is not demanded. We may, on the other hand, properly wait for additional light. Our assent is demanded when, and only when, the character of the event as supernatural cannot be a matter of reasonable doubt, and when its occurrence is verified by evidence known to be valid in all other cases.
3. The obvious absence of evidence which is required in all cases where strict certainty is demanded is the only other proper ground of dissent in reference to cases under consideration. If our assent to a miracle is demanded on the basis of evidence, known to be deceptive in other cases, duty demands our dissent. Faith, as Christian virtue, is absolute fidelity to valid evidence or rational conviction. Unbelief, as sin, and affirmed as such in the Scriptures, is infidelity to valid evidence or rational conviction. 'He that doeth evil hateth the light; and will not come to the light.' The grounds of our revealed obligation to credit as real the supernatural events recorded as such in the Scriptures, arethat they are not, in themselves, events of impossible occurrencethat, granting their actuality, their supernatural character cannot be deniedand that they are affirmed as real by evidence, which, in all other cases in which strict certainty is required, has absolute validity.
Relations of these Events to the Christian Religion.
For aught that we know, or can know to the contrary, God may, as we have said before, change the visible order of events in forms which imply the presence and action in their occurrence of a supernatural power, and this without any revealed reasons for such interpositions. This, however, is not true of the supernatural events revealed in the Christian Scriptures. These events all stand before us as specific attestations of the truth of this religion. The actuality of these events being granted, no one will deny that Christianity lifts its divine form before us as the supernaturally revealed and attested religion of God.
Nor will any sober thinker question the supernatural character of these events, their actual occurrence being granted. We must absolutely deny their occurrence, or as absolutely affirm, with the magicians of old, 'This is the finger of God.' But one question remains for scientific determinationto wit, Did these events actually occur? This question of fact, as we have shown, is to be determined by a rigid application of the laws of historic verity. If in the light of the acknowledged Criteria which, in all other cases, distinguish the true from the false, and the strictly certain from the uncertain, they take rank among the true and the certain, they stand before us as absolutely verified facts of actual occurrence.
Admitting the actuality of these events, we must also admit the divinity of the Christian Religion, or affirm that God has actually attested the truth of a lie. These same remarks apply equally to all the particular truths of this religion. These supernatural attestations sustain the same relations to each specific truth that they do to Christianity itself. Everywhere they lift their heaven-illumined summits amid the great revelations of this religion, divinely attesting the truth of each and all in common.
Relations of these Events to the Christian Scriptures.
The Christian Religion, with all its specific teachings, exists as a revelation from God nowhere but in the Christian Scriptures. The supernatural events therein recorded, have the identical relations to these writings that the same events have to the religion of which said writings are a record. To deny the proper inspiration of the record, and to affirm that the religion which they record is a divinely attested religion, involves a gross and palpable contradiction. Let us suppose that in recording these events, together with the principles and doctrines contained in the same record, these writers were under no, to us, divinely attested supernatural guidance; that, on the other hand, they merely wrote out, as others might have done, facts as they saw them, and doctrines as they actually held them. We should, on that hypothesis, be bound to regard the facts recorded as supernatural events which divinely attest no religion what ever. Had Josephus, or Tacitus, after the appearance of the Four Gospels, compiled the same into a single treatise, and interspersed through the same his own honest views of doctrine and duty, the facts recorded would have the same identical relations to the doctrinal and moral teachings of the Gospel according to Tacitus or Josephus, that the same facts do have, on the present hypothesis, to the Gospel of Matthew or John. A denial of the Divine authority of the Christian Records, involves a corresponding denial of the Divine authority of the religion which they professedly record, and Christianity stands before us as a religion no more Divinely attested than is that of Brahm or of Buddha. We should on this hypothesis, we repeat, be bound to regard the Scripture facts as supernatural, but as having occurred for no revealed reasons whatever.
The events under consideration do, in fact and form, stand before us not only as Divine attestations of the Christian religion, but equally so of the Divine authority of the writings which record that religion. The supernatural events recorded in Scripture everywhere present themselves as specific attestations, not only of the truth of a given religion, but equally so, of Moses and the Prophets, of Christ and His Apostles, as the divinely commissioned revelators of the specific truths of that religion. The miracles performed through Moses before Pharaoh and the Israelites, for example, were performed for two specifically revealed reasonsto verify his particular utterances, and verify him, as 'God's Mouth' to those to whom those utterances were addressed. The fire that descended on Carmel in answer to the prayer of Elijah, descended to verify two specific revelationsthat Jehovah is the only true God, and that Elijah was His Prophet. 'The mighty works' performed by Christ, as he specifically informs us, divinely attested both the truth of his particular utterances, and verified Him as a 'Teacher sent from God.' Christ, also, gave absolute authority to His Apostles as revelators and teachers of truth. 'Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.' Christ not only taught the divinity of certain truths revealed in the Scriptures, but equally the absolute authority of the writings themselves. 'It is written''The Scriptures must be fulfilled.' 'The Scriptures cannot be broken.' 'Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer.' 'Think not, that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.' The Apostles, also, as divinely commissioned teachers of truth give the same testimony to the Divine origin and authority of the Scripture records. 'Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.' 'All scripture is given by inspiration of God.' The supernatural events under consideration do not stand before us as meaningless interpositions of Divine power; nor as attestations of a religion nowhere divinely attested; but as diverse attestations of the absolute authority of specified 'teachers sent from God,' and, consequently, of the Divine authority of specific records of a religion divinely attested to us through such teachers. To deny that the Scriptures are to us of Divine authority in matters of belief and conduct is to affirm that the supernatural events which they record were produced for no assignable reasons whatever. To prove the reality of these supernatural events implies a corresponding proof, not only of the divinity of Christianity itself, but also of the Divine origin and authority of the Scriptures which embody the truths of this religion.
There can be no more fundamental form of error than is embraced in the dogma, that Christianity itself is from God, and is contained somewhere in the Scriptures; but that these Scriptures are themselves of human origin and authority. It is, in fact, to assure us that the needle is somewhere in the hay-mow, and then to tell us to find it if we can. Suppose that God did reveal a religion, and then left the matter to individuals who might choose to attempt to record it to express their own apprehensions of that religion. Who would vouch for the correctness of such apprehensions, in the first case, and in the next for the correctness with which these uninspired men have expressed their own views upon the subject? Who can determine how much, and what form of error, may be intermingled with the truth in their apprehensions and representations? To us, error and truth, as intermingled in these writings, if they are intermingled at all, are alike divinely attested, or Christianity itself is in no form thus attested.
The idea which some appear to entertain, that the vocal, but not written utterances of the Prophets and Apostles were of Divine authority, is one of the most absurd forms of error that ever appeared. The terms 'whatsoever' and 'whosesoever,' in the commission to 'bind and loose,' 'remit and retain,' must have a special reference and application, if anywhere, to their written, that is to their permanently recorded, utterances. If their written utterances do not bind, nothing they ever said could have bound anybody. Will anyone put this construction upon our Saviour's words? 'Whatsoever (except when you write) ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven.'
REVELATION AND INSPIRATION.
THE terms revelation and inspiration represent two distinct and separate ideas. The former represents the act of God in making known his truth to creatures. The latter represents a DIVINE GUIDANCE imparted to individuals in communicating to others truths which God has revealed to the mediums of Divine communication. God, for example, revealed certain forms of truth to Moses. This was Divine revelation. God then, by his own Spirit, guided Moses in communicating that truth to the people. This was inspiration. Revelation may pertain to truths previously known, or to such as have not before been apprehended. Truths of the former class, when divinely represented to the mind, or communicated to the world by inspiration, possess a sacredness and impressiveness which did not previously attach to them. The Ten Commandments, for example, contain few forms of duty of which the race was previously wholly ignorant. They now, however, possess a distinctness, sacredness, and impressiveness which could not otherwise belong to them. Revelation also presents to human apprehension truths which lie wholly beyond the reach of human thought.
Revelation, as it comes from God, must present to the mind pure truth and nothing else. To suppose the opposite would imply that God intentionally deceives His creatures. No one who has any respect for his Creator will impute to Him any such monstrous deceptions as this.
Divine inspiration, in all forms which bind the faith and obedience of those who receive its communications, must present the exclusive and pure truth previously revealed. The opposite idea implies the same kind of intentional deception on the part of God that deceptive revelations would. It is undeniable that God may so guide men whom He inspires to communicate His revealed truth that they shall present that truth in its purity and nothing else; or He may so influence their minds that in the same communications they shall intermingle and confound God's revelations with their own imaginings. The dogma that God, whenever He has inspired individuals to communicate His own truth, has chosen the latter in preference to the former method, when both were equally practicable, is, to say the least, a great absurdity.
But which of these is, in fact, the inspired method revealed in the Scriptures? On this subject we have the most clear and positive information in both the Old and the New Testament. In Exod. xx. 21, the people request that God would thereafter communicate with them, not directly, but through Moses. 'Speak thou with us, and we will hear, but let not God speak with us, lest we die.' In Dent. xviii. 15-19, we have a reference to the same subject, with a distinct revelation of the real relations of all future inspired Prophets to God on the one hand, and to men on the other. For the sake of distinctness we present the entire passage. 'The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken. According to all that thou desirest of the Lord thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire anymore, that I die not. And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put My words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto 'My words which he shall speak in My name, I will require it of him.'
This passage undeniably refers to every inspired Prophet that God has since raised up, and not exclusively to Christ, as some have supposed. Nor does Peter (Acts iii. 22-25) cite the passage as having an exclusive reference to Christ, but to Him as, among others, a Prophet. Peter also applies the passage to other Prophets in the same sense as to Christ. The Apostle reminds the people of their obligation to receive the words of Christ as if directly addressed to them by God Himself, for the reason that Christ was to them a divinely attested Prophet, 'a Prophet raised up from the midst of them,' according to Divine promise, His words also being confirmed by the voice of all the Prophets from Samuel onward.
In the passage from Exodus now under consideration, God Himself distinctly reveals the following truths. 1. From that time onward He would uniformly make revelations to men, not directly, but through Prophets whom He should 'raise up from among the people.' 2. To these Prophets He would first make His revelations of truth. 'I will put My words in his mouth.' 3. God would so guide the utterances of His Prophets that they should communicate just what He had communicated to them. 'He shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.' Here God promises that inspired truth, as communicated by the Prophets, shall be identical in all respects with revealed truth, as communicated by Him to the Prophets. 4. The utterances of the Prophets, when given forth 'in the name of God,' shall bind our faith and obedience in the same sense and manner that they would if directly uttered by God Himself. 'And it shall come to pass that whosoever will not hearken unto My words which he shall speak in My name, I will require it of him.' The great truth manifestly set before us in this whole passage is this: God is in the same sense responsible for the truth of all utterances of divinely attested Prophets, utterances given forth by them 'in His name,' as He would be, were these utterances directly addressed to us by God Himself; and these utterances as absolutely bind our faith and obedience in the one case as they would in the other.
The same great truth is repeated in the commission which Jeremiah received as a divine Prophet, 'Thou shalt be as My mouth.' Now, all the Prophets of the Old Testament do stand before us, as divinely attested Prophets of God, and all their communications do come to us 'in the name of the Lord.' We must, therefore, brand them as 'lying Prophets,' or accept their utterances as to us 'the voice of God.'
In the same light did Christ and His Apostles regard the utterances of these Prophets. It was no part of His mission, as He Himself informs us, to annul any of the teachings of the Old Testament, but to confirm them all. 'What is written,' He presents as having absolute authority over even Himself in His relations as a man. The Scriptures, He tells us, 'cannot be broken,' but 'must be fulfilled.' 'He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,' for this reason, that otherwise 'the Scriptures could not be fulfilled.' 'And He said to them, These are the words which I spoke to you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then he opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures, and said to them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoves Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day.' Where is the mustness about fulfilling all that is written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, 'concerning Him,' if these writings are not of Divine authority? Christ did not, or these writings do, 'speak the words of God.'
To the same effect are the express teachings of the Apostles. 'God,' we are told (Hebrews i. 1), 'spake unto our fathers by the Prophets.' Another Apostle affirms (2 Peter i. 16-21) that none of the utterances found in these writings were of human origin. This is the obvious meaning of the words 'private interpretation.' That which is written, we are told, is not what men thought out, and willed to write, but what God thought, and willed to have written. 'What is written,' he affirms, has even higher authority than a mere report of what is seen, and heard 'from God out of heaven.' Let us read the whole passage. 'For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the daystar arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.' Nothing can be more plain than is the fact, that according to apostolic teaching, the thoughts which the Prophets uttered were not their own, but God's, and that the words through which those thoughts are expressed, are the words of God.
But did the Apostles, in this authoritative form, occupy the position of Prophets? They did, we answer, and that in the most important form ever occupied before. To this our Saviour refers (Luke vii. 28), 'For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater Prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.' The term 'greater' evidently refers, not to mental powers, but to position. So after the term 'least' that of Prophet is to be understood, the laws of language requiring this. The meaning of the whole verse may be thus expressed: 'Among those that are born of women,' no Prophet of the past has ever yet occupied a position of greater dignity and importance than John the Baptist occupied; nevertheless, he that shall discharge the office of a Prophet in the lowest form in the New Dispensation, will occupy a sphere of greater dignity and importance than that occupied by John. The manifest object of the Saviour was to impress the Apostles with a consciousness of the dignity, importance, and responsibility of the prophetic office to which they were about to be introduced. In this passage, these Apostles, with Paul afterwards divinely associated with them, stand before us as divinely designated Prophets of God, Prophets in higher and more responsible relations than any Prophets had ever before been in. If the utterances of Prophets of the Old were, much more must those of the New Dispensation be to us, 'the voice of God,' and must, in the most absolute form, bind our faith and obedience.
On this matter we have also the most specific and absolute instruction from Christ himself. The following (Matt. xvi. 19) is the authority expressly conferred upon Peter, as an inspired revelator of Divine truth: 'And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.' The same absolute authority, as teachers of truth and duty, is, afterwards, as expressly conferred upon all the Apostles (Matt. xviii. 18). 'Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatsoever ye shall loose shall be loosed in heaven.' The words 'bind and loose' represent authority in the realm of inspired truth in its most absolute forms. The same absolute authority is reconferred upon all these Apostles in the following words (John xx. 23): 'Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.' The sense in which the Apostles did 'remit and retain sins' was declarative, that is, they, as 'teachers sent from God,' declared, or revealed, the conditions on which men should receive, or fail to receive, the pardon of sin. Nothing can be more evident than is the fact, that Moses and the Prophets, Christ and the Apostles, stand revealed in the Scriptures as divinely attested Prophets of God, Prophets who 'speak by authority,' the authority of God, and whose words and writings are to us, when understood, God's laws of faith and conduct.
IF the doctrine of inspiration, as we have explained it, is true, it follows as a necessary consequence that when we have ascertained the real meaning of any passage of the sacred writings, we have found a divinely attested truth of God. Here we have the sense in which these writings differ from all others. When we have ascertained the real meaning of writings of mere human origin, another question then arisesto wit, Are the author's teachings in accordance with truth? When, on the other hand, we have ascertained the true meaning of any passage of Scripture, that meaning binds our faith and conduct. We make God a liar when we question the truth of 'what is written.' To teach that the Scriptures were given by inspiration of God, and yet to affirm that their ascertained meaning is not of absolute authority, is equivalent to the absurdity, that the Scriptures were, and were not,' given by inspiration of God.'
Here also lies the real distinction between the believer and the infidel. The former does, and the latter does not, regard himself as bound in matters of faith and conduct by the ascertained meaning of the Scriptures. If an individual denies the proper inspiration, and with it the absolute Divine authority of the Scriptures, he is bound by the immutable laws of integrity to avow himself an infidel. This is the meaning of the term infidel, according to our standard lexicography. He who denies the proper inspiration and Divine authority of the Scriptures, and yet calls himself a Christian, not only 'denies the faith,' but is 'worse than an infidel,' that is, an infidel who admits himself to be such. We should be misunderstood here without a few words of special explanation.
1. When the Scriptures affirm, as a mere historic fact, that certain individuals did, on certain occasions, perform certain acts, inspiration is responsible for the real occurrence of the facts stated, and not at all for their moral character, unless such characteristics are revealed as approved or disapproved. It accords with revealed truth, that good men may under temptation, do wrong, and even perpetrate crimes. The recorded acts of such men, when stated as mere historic facts, are to be judged as the doings of other individuals are.
2. The same principle applies to the recorded utterances of individuals. If such utterances are given as the real sayings of inspired Prophets or Apostles, inspiration is responsible both for the fact and the truth of such utterances. If the speaker, on the other hand, is not affirmed to have been, at the time, under the guidance of the Spirit of God, inspiration is responsible merely for the fact stated. The sayings of Job, and of his three friends, for example, are not recorded as inspired utterances, but as having been actually given forth by them on the occasion designated. Inspiration, therefore, is responsible for the correctness of the record, and not for the truth of what was uttered. This principle holds true in respect to all similar utterances recorded in Scripture. The fact, that the sayings of an individual are recorded merely as his sayings, is no proof at all, that such utterances are of inspired authority.
3. To understand still more fully the bearings of the doctrine of inspiration upon the writings of the New Testament, we must also keep in mind the two distinct and separate relations which the Apostles sustained to what they uttered and wrote, as witnesses of facts of which they had a personal knowledge, and as inspired prophets. In the latter relation they speak with all authority, 'binding and loosing,' 'remitting and retaining,' as the spirit of inspiration dictated. In the former relation they could speak nothing but what they had 'seen and heard,' and as they 'had seen and heard.' Amid the melting and overwhelming agitations of their minds during the evening of 'the Lord's Supper,' for example, it would not be strange at all if, when Christ said directly to Peter, 'Before the cock shall crow twice, thou shalt deny Me thrice,' if the word 'twice' was heard and remembered only by Peter. When Matthew and John wrote as witnesses, and Luke as he received the facts from ear witnesses, they could state no more than was actually heard by themselves. Nor would the Spirit bring to remembrance anything but what they did hear and as they heard. Mark, on the other hand, who wrote under the direction of Peter, would give all that our Saviour did say. There is no discrepancy here any more than between any whole and its parts. In regard to the particular hours of the day, when the different scenes of the trial and crucifixion occurred, each would have his general impressions, some of them more, and some less specific, and none of them accurate as to the moment. Hence, when one tells us that 'it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour', and others give more specific and detailed statements in regard to the times when particular scenes occurred, there is not, when the subject is rightly viewed, even the appearance of contradiction. The Spirit of inspiration directed each writer to give, as a witness, his own impressions in respect to time and other circumstances, just as they existed in his mind. On no other conditions could the Apostles be to us witnesses of what they 'saw and heard.' Almost all the difficulties encountered in reconciling, with one another, the different statements of the Evangelists disappear at once when the distinction under consideration is kept in mind, while their credibility as witnesses is thereby absolutely verified.
4. A full and complete understanding of this great subject requires, we remark finally, a clear discrimination between 'the gift of the Spirit,' as promised to all believers and as confined to the Prophetic, under the Old, and to the Apostolic office under the New Dispensation. 'The promise of the Spirit' pertains to all believers in common, and as an illuminating and sanctifying power He is present in all who embrace the promise by faith. As a miracle-working power, He was, even in Apostolic times, given to but few. Under the Old Dispensation none but divinely attested prophets had any authority at all in matters of faith and practice. Under the New Dispensation, while we have positive proof, as has been shown, that absolute authority, as revelators of truth and duty, was conferred upon the Apostles, we have no evidence whatever that such authority was conferred upon any but them. This fact was, from the first, clearly understood in the Primitive Church. No writings but the ascertained Apostolic, that is, such as were composed by Apostles, or under their dictation, were regarded as of Divine authority.
The distinction between 'the gifts of the Spirit' conferred upon the Apostles and all other believers, are specifically designated in the New Testament. This whole subject is at full length clearly set before us in the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians. We cite verses 28-30. After being informed that 'there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit,' and 'differences of administrations, but the same Lord,' we have the following fundamental statement in the verses referred to. 'And God hath set some in the Church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, govenments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?' The term prophet has a different meaning under the New, from what it had under the Old Dispensation. Under the latter, it designated a class of persons divinely attested as mediums of authoritative divine communication. Under the former, it designates a class who speak in the churches, not by authority, but under special Divine influence, and who consequently 'speak unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.' The Apostles alone spake by authority. They, consequently, received the gift of inspiration proper, a gift differing from all others conferred by the Spirit, just as the 'gift of healing' differed from that of 'speaking with tongues.' It is hardly possible to announce a more dangerous error than that which is involved in confounding the gift of inspiration proper with the ordinary gifts promised to all believers in common, and representing the latter as differing, not in kind, but merely in degree, from the former.
This is the insinuating, but utterly subverting, form of error which is being urged upon the churches at the present time. In one or two articles recently published in that leading religious quarterly, The New Englander, articles containing a translation and abridgment of 'Rouge on Revelation and Inspiration,' we have the following:'We must conclude,' says this author, 'from these data that the possession of the Spirit is not, according to the New Testament doctrine, confined to the Apostles, but extends to all true believers, without any specific difference.' Again, 'It is an idea foreign to the New Testament writings that the Apostles, in the composition of their writings, were under the influence of the Holy Spirit in a way specifically different from His usual indwelling in them,' Granting this, the deduction is absolute, that every believer, when 'filled with the Spirit,' as promised to all Christians in common, does in fact and form hold in his hands 'the keys of the kingdom of heaven,' and has all power to 'bind and loose,' 'remit and retain,' the same identical authority in kind and degree, the same authority which Christ conferred upon His Apostles. We must conclude, also, that all that we are told in the New Testament about 'the diversity of gifts,' the diverse kinds of gifts conferred upon the Apostles in distinction from others, a diversity which rendered the former, in distinction from the latter, Apostles, is essential error. Who are these men who are thus 'wise above what is written'?
THREE, and only three, hypotheses present themselves in regard to the inspiration of the Scripturesthat of Infidelity, which affirms, that they neither contain a revelation from God, nor 'were given by inspiration of God'the Semi-Infidel, which affirms that Christianity itself was given by revelation, of which we have a human and fallible record in the Scripturesand the Christian proper, which affirms that the Scriptures are an inspired record of an actual revelation, a record for the verity of which God holds Himself responsible. The infidel hypothesis is discussed in another connection. Our present concern is with the two last designated. We make no appeal to prejudice when we employ the term Semi-Infidel. We employ the term for the sake of convenience, and because no other term so correctly represents the hypothesis itself. The Christian hypothesis we regard as already established. Against the other it has also the highest probability in its favour. Christianity itself, as a revelation from God, none will deny, presents nothing but pure truth unmingled with error. If God had chosen, He could, as we have shown, have given to the world a record of this revelation just as free from error as the original communication was. Did He choose, after giving forth a revelation of pure truth to leave it to men to record, or not to record, what was revealed just as they should choose; and when they should attempt to give such record, to leave them so to intermingle their own imaginings with His own truth, that we can have no valid criteria by which we can distinguish the former from the latter? Did Christ, also, deliver to certain men 'the keys of the kingdom of heaven,' with absolute authority to 'bind and loose,' 'remit and retain,' and pledge His word that what they should require and prohibit, affirm and deny, should be verified in heavendid Christ deliver all this to men upon whom He conferred no higher wisdom or authority than is possessed by all believers in whom the common 'promise of the Spirit' is fulfilled? What a senseless farce He acted before the world if this is the case?
Let us now turn our thoughts to the arguments adduced to sustain this Semi-Infidel hypothesis. One of the old and standing objections is the style of these writings. Our citations will be from the article to which we have referred, an article which embodies the argument in favour of this hypothesis in its fullest and strongest form. In regard to the style of the Bible our author thus writes: 'They wrote as they spake, out of their individual peculiarities. The one fact, that the later and less original ones made use of the earlier, is enough to disprove the theory'that of the proper inspiration of the Prophets. 'The case is the same with the New Testament.' 'Moreover, these writers have each his own peculiar characteristic style of writing, and in the most of them we find a certain awkwardness in the use of language, and a ruggedness and stiffness of the forms of speech, as is natural and usual with writers who have not had much of the training of the schools, and are not accustomed to express their thoughts in writing. These things do not impair the value of the books for the purposes intended, but how can they be attributed to the Holy Spirit?' 'Would any recognise these books as writings in whose productiveness the authors are in a passive condition, labouring mechanically, mere slate pencils? The exact opposite strikes every reader.'
Here we have, in the first place, an utter and inexcusable misrepresentation of the doctrine of inspiration as held by Evangelical Christians of all schools. Until we met the misrepresentation in this article, we never before heard of the idea that inspiration proper implies 'the mechanical passivity,' or 'the slate-pencil state' of inspired men, when speaking or writing. The mind, when under the control of the Spirit of Inspiration so absolutely as to express just what God intends and dictates, and nothing more or less, does, or may, in fact, act as freely and naturally as in any other state. Misrepresentation is one thing; refutation is quite another.
Let us consider directly this argument deduced from such an idea of style. Lord Bolingbroke, we think it was, who was very much enamoured with the sublime in writing, presents this as an unanswerable argument against the inspiration of the Scriptures. If God were the author of these writings, every sentence found in them, he affirmed, would be characterized by infinite sublimity. Our author 'has been to school,' and he consequently thinks that if these were inspired writings, their style would savour of the University. This argument, we judge, is just as conclusive, and no more so, in one view as in the other. Permit us to ask this writer, and all others who reason like him, such questions as the following: Do you know, gentlemen, what the proper and exclusive Theodic style is? Do you know that it is not so, that when God employs the tongues or pens of individuals, to express to human beings His own thoughts, such thoughts will not be clothed in the words common to such individuals when not inspired? Do you know that if God should, for example, choose to communicate His own truth, and that infallibly, through a child, as in the case of little Samuel, that God's thought would not be expressed in the language and style of the child? Do you know that this is not the real and proper Theodic style, the style which it is wisest and best for God to adopt, whenever He makes individuals the mediums of Divine communication? Do you not, then, in impugning the inspiration of the Scriptures, for such reasons as you have employed in this case, stand convicted of 'speaking evil of that which you understand not'?
The above arguments, and all others based upon the style of the sacred writings, do not present the least form of positive, or probable, evidence against the verbal inspiration of these writings. Much less do such arguments have the remotest bearing against the doctrine, that the Scriptures, when rightly understood, are an infallible, and absolutely authoritative rule of faith and conduct. While we do not profess to know, of ourselves, what kind of a universe God should make, we can discern wisdom Divine in the universe He has made. So of God's higher creation, the Scriptures of truth. While we have no means of knowing but from the Bible what the real Theodic style is, we can perceive a Divine wisdom in the style which God has adopted. Among such indications of wisdom, we refer to the following:
1. Truth thus communicated is rendered more easy of apprehension, and is more impressive than it could be by any other method of which we can form a conception. By this method, truth is rendered impressive not merely by words, but by or through its actually illuminating and sanctifying power upon the heart. In other words, we apprehend the truth just as it lies in the heart, moves and purifies the affections, and moulds and perfects the moral character. It consequently comes to us with a distinctness of apprehension and a melting and transforming power otherwise impossible. In the Scriptures, we are not only in constant contact with Divine truth, but with that truth as a life-imparting power in the actual experience of the soul of man. We have no wish to be possessed of that form of wisdom which would impugn such a method of communication as this. Truth affects us must deeply when it comes to us warm from the heart of the individual through whom it is communicated, and in language and style most natural to him.
2. The method of inspired communication of revealed truth through human language renders the Bible capable of being interpreted by human beings. If the Scriptures were written in a superhuman or Theodic style, how could human beings interpret them? For their interpretation we should need a Theodic lexicon and commentary, and to understand these, a lexicon and commentary in human language and style would be finally demanded. Nor would the Scriptures be translatable into any language under heaven. As it is, they are subject to the laws of interpretation common to other writings, and can therefore be understood by human beings; and are translatable into all human languages, and can consequently be given to all men. 'Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or being His counsellor, hath taught Him?'
3. This method of inspiration also furnishes us with scientific criteria by which we can determine the eras in which various portions of the Scriptures were written, criteria to which a Theodic superhuman style would be inapplicable. Rationalistic criticism has created three great maelstroms, into which they cast different portions of Scripture, when the questions of their origin are discussed. The first is represented by the words, 'About the time of Ezra.' If we ask them at what era were the writings of Moses produced and completed'About the time of Ezra,' is the reply. When was the book of Job written? 'About the time of Ezra.' When were all the historic portions of the Old Testament written? 'About the time of Ezra.' When were the portions of Scripture under consideration, together with the Psalms and works of Solomon, compiled? 'About the time of Ezra' is the monotonous reply. When, we again ask, were the leading prophetic writings of the Old Testament composed? At a period (the second maelstrom) not long prior to the Christian Era, after the leading events designated had occurred, is the reply. But when were the several books of the New Testament written? About (the third maelstrom) the close of the second or third centuries of the Christian Era.
Suppose, now, that the Scriptures were written in a superhuman or Theodic style. By no possibility could we determine from their language and style the era in which any portion of the sacred books were written. Now we have criteria of the most decisive character. We can say to our rationalistic critics that the book of Job, for example, could by no possibility have been composed 'About the time of Ezra.' The reason is obvious. The language of this book is wholly Hebraistic of the purest kind. The written and spoken language of the Jews 'About the time of Ezra' was not pure, but Chaldaic Hebrew. This book must also have been written by a learned Hebrew well versed in facts pertaining to Egypt and Arabia, and wholly ignorant of the Jews in Canaan and under Mosaic institutions and usages. On no other hypothesis can we account for, the frequent allusion to facts of the former class, and the total absence of all reference to those of the latter.
The pure Hebrew of Moses, of the historic portion of the Old Testament, and of the leading Prophets prior to Daniel, render it certain that they could, none of them, have been written 'About the time of Ezra,' but long prior to that period; and that none of them could consequently have been written after the predictions of these Prophets were fulfilled. The Hebraistic Greek of the entire New Testament renders it perfectly evident that none of these books could have been written after the close of the Apostolic Era, their peculiarities of style having no existence in any language subsequent to that period. There are no more important sources of historic criticism than are found in the humanness of the language and style of the sacred writings.
4. The evidence of the actual inspiration of the Scriptures is, we remark finally, rendered demonstrative by the very style which is objected against. The language and style is human. The truths which they represent are wholly superhuman. No power but inspiration itself can by any possibility embody such truth in such human words and style. In the Scriptures the human and the Divine, the finite and the infinite, meet and blend in harmonious unity. The idea of the human origin of the Scriptures is, to a mind which has any adequate comprehension of the subject, as absurd as is that of the human origin of the solar system. The humanity of the style, in contrast with the divinity of the truth, which the former embodies, induces in every reflecting mind the immutable conviction that here is the handwriting of God.
In the midst of these great revelations, which lift their heavenillumined summits above and around us, as we walk up and clown among these sacred books, we find no forms of error of any kind intermingled with the Divine truths commended to our faith. In all human writings, which do embody important forms of truth, we find error, the same in kind, intermingled with what is true. Not so with the Scriptures. Their doctrines and moral teachings are not only true, but are wholly unmarred with error. This undeniable fact places the Bible, with its admittedly human language and style, at an infinite remove from all productions not really and truly 'given by inspiration of God.'
But while no forms of error are professedly found in the doctrinal and moral teachings of the Scriptures, the only material issue that could be raised, as an argument against the proper inspiration of the New Testament especially, is drawn from essential errors imputed to the writers of the same, in their Old Testament citations and references.
Thus, the writer to whom we have referred remarks: 'The New Testament writers often quoted the Old Testament from memory, and here and there with such changes in wording as materially alter the sense.' . . . 'These writers, too, quote from the Septuagint, for the most part, even when it misrepresents the original.' . . . 'Many of the proof-texts taken from the Old Testament by the writers of the New, are not proof-texts at all.'
It may be edifying to our readers to know that the errors and faults which this writer and others of his school impute to the Apostles, are by the same writers also imputed to Christ Himself. 'Christ,' we are told, 'did in common with the Jews treat the Old Testament revelation as of Divine authority. Undoubtedly, too, he treated the letter of the Old Testament as of Divine authority.' The New Testament writers, also, we are further told, 'Considered the Old Testament as the immediate Word of God, and our Lord left their conceptions undisturbed.' Unless Christ Himself, therefore, can be convicted of error, the Old Testament Scriptures, in their letter and spirit, are 'the Word of God,' and of absolute authority. Such writers as those under consideration do not blink the issue at all thus presented, but boldly impugn the Divine authority of Christ Himself. 'They are in error,' we are assured, 'who think of the Saviour as having a complete exegetical knowledge of the Old Testament.' 'The Saviour never professed to be an infallible and complete expositor of the Old Testament.' We judge that when our Saviour affirmed that He 'came not to destroy, but to fulfil the law and the Prophets,' and that 'not one jot or tittle should pass from the law until all shall be fulfilled,' that He did possess, and did affirm Himself to possess, a full knowledge of the subject matter to which He referred, that is, of the Old Testament Scriptures. We believe, also, that attributing fallibility to Christ is an eclipse of faith, as complete as would result to the earth from the total extinguishrnent of 'the light of the world.' The only form of evidence presented of His fallibility is His sacred respect for the Scriptures of the Old Testament as 'the Word of God.' We judge that He came forth from God as well informed on this subject as the semi-infidels of modern times.
We have, in the article under consideration, multitudinous references to passages in the New Testament to sustain the charge of error on the part of its writers in their citations from the Old Testament. No passages but one or two, however, are cited. Had the writer given citations instead of mere references, his own bald ignorance of the Scriptures and that of his school would have become manifest to every reader. We have been careful to search out all these references, and to compare each passage referred to with the known laws and principles of Biblical interpretation. As the result, we feel quite safe in affirming that in carelessness, not to say recklessness, in the interpretation of Scripture, this article, which, as we have said, embodies all that modern semi-infidelity has developed on this subject, can hardly be paralleled. Not a single passage referred to has, when rigidly interpreted in the light of correct exegesis, even an apparent bearing in favour of the author's position. Thus he affirms that 'Paul explains the same passage, Gen. xiii. 15, in two different ways, Rom. iv. 16, and Gal. iii. 16.' In Gal. iii. 16 Paul undeniably refers, not to Gen. xiii. 15 at all, but to Gen. xiii. 18, and he has given the true interpretation of the latter passage. When God said, 'In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,' He unquestionably must have referred, as Paul says He did, not to Abraham's posterity in general, but specifically to Christ. What must we think of a Biblical interpreter who should affirm that Paul, in Gal. iii. 16, referred to Gen. xiii. 15, which thus reads, 'For all this land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.' So Paul, in Rom. iv. 16, simply asserts, and asserts correctly, without reference to any one particular passage, that God's promises to Abraham and his seed were, in fact, conditioned on faith.
Take another example. 'In Heb. x. 5 an argument is drawn from the words of the text, Ps. xl. 7, "A body hast Thou prepared me," which are a mistranslation of the original, and were in all probability introduced into the Septuagint through a blunder of the copyist.' Paul here quoted a whole passage from the Septuagint, which, with the exception of this phrase, accords with the ordinary Hebrew. The Arabic version agrees with the Septuagint. We have then, as the highest authorities suggest, three explanations of this difficulty:
1. An error in transcribing afterwards crept into the Hebrew, a change which, as Kennicot shows, requires but a slight change of the letters. If we could not otherwise defend the Apostle, we should take this position.
2. As the Septuagint and Arabic versions contain nothing contrary to the real sense of the Hebrew as it now stands, and as the slight discrepancy did not alter at all the actual bearing of the whole passage upon the Apostle's argument, and as his readers were acquainted with the Septuagint and not with the Hebrew text, the Apostle was fully justified, as Professor Stuart and other learned commentators have shown, in making the use he did of the passage, and the fact of such use is no argument against the inspiration of his writings.
3. There is, we remark finally, no certain evidence that the words 'A body Thou hast prepared me,' are given as a quotation from the Old Testament at all, but rather from Christ Himself. By a gift of the Father to men, and through the creative agency of the Spirit, 'a body was prepared for Christ,' and He was given as 'the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.' To this fact Christ responds, 'A body hast Thou prepared for Me; and then, in the language of prophecy, yields Himself to the Father's will, 'Lo, I come,' etc. Such being the obvious facts of the case, nothing can be farther from the truth than is involved in a denial of the proper inspiration of the Apostle on account of the employment of these words.
We give another example. 'The words quoted, Heb. i. 6, "Let the angels of God worship Him," do not occur in the Hebrew at all, but are an addition to the Alexandrian version in Deut. xxxii. 43.' In reply, we would remark that we have no evidence whatever, but quite conclusive evidence to the contrary, that these words are quoted from any version of the Old Testament. They are cited expressly as uttered, not when Christ was given to the world in prophecy, but when He was 'brought into the world,' that is, at His birth or introduction to the world. Reference is unquestionably, as Professor Stuart has shown, made not to Dent. xxxii. 43, or to Ps. xcvii. 7, but to facts stated in Luke ii. 8. Here we have the fact recorded that the angelic host did pay homage to Christ. Paul, under inspired wisdom, informs us that this was done in accordance with a special command of God given at the time. If Paul employed, to represent this command, words found in the Old Testament, he did not employ them as having had an original reference to Christ.
We have given above the very strongest passages ever cited to sustain this semi-infidel impeachment of the inspiration of the New Testament writings. We would here add, that after all the clear light that has been thrown by modern criticism upon the manner in which the New Testament writers refer to the Old Testament Scriptures, it is an insult to the exegetical knowledge of this century to base upon such use an argument against the proper inspiration of the New Testament Scriptures. When we are told, as another argument against the inspiration of these writings, that the writers do not appear to have had any idea of the use that should be made of their writings, a fact is stated which, if admitted, has nothing to do with the subject. No Prophet, or Apostle, when he spake or wrote 'in the name of the Lord,' and as sent by Him, had, it may be, any idea of what use God, in His Providence, would make of his utterances. What has that to do with the question of the inspiration or authority of what was spoken or written? With the speakers and writers, as far as their vision extended, the end arrived at may have been a temporary and local one. With God the ultimate aim may have been, and was, 'the instruction and admonition' of mankind in all future time.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
THE doctrines of Matter, Spirit, Time, Space, the Soul, God, Duty, Immortality, and Retribution, either in their positive or negative forms, enter, as fundamental elements, into all the philosophical systems which we have investigated, and must be omnipresent in all systems. Indeed, the scientific solution of these doctrines, in all the forms suggested, constitute the central problem of Philosophy. The problem of Philosophy is, being and its laws, and the ultimate cause, or reason of the facts, and relations of the facts, of universal nature. Each system of Philosophy presents its systematized solution of this problem, in all the forms indicated. We cannot advance a step in the solution of this problem without touching the solution which Religion in general, and Christianity in particular, present of the same problem. As soon, for example, as our modern sceptical scientists had perfected their classification of the phenomena of nature, and their solution of the relations, or laws, of these phenomena, 'the physical value of prayer' became, as they affirm, 'the bone of contention' between them and Christian students of science. The same holds true in all cases. The doctrine of Ultimate Causation, which Materialism, on the one hand, and Idealism, in all its forms, on the other, present, directly and openly confronts the doctrine of a Personal God, which Natural Theology and Christian Theism reveal and affirm. Every system of Philosophy has its specific ontology, and its specific deductions pertaining to the soul, its duties or non-duties, and its destiny; and these deductions either affirm or deny the deductions of Natural and Christian Theism in respect to the same subjects. Christian Theism, when its essential doctrines are fully developed and systematized, does neither more nor less than this: it presents specific and affirmed divinely attested solutions of the great problems pertaining to Ultimate Causation, to Being and its Lawsproblems which Philosophy, in all ages, has endeavoured to solve. Christian Theism, if true, is, when its doctrines are thus developed and systematized, not merely a system of religious doctrines, but, also, a Divine Philosophy of Ultimate Causation, and of Universal Being and its Laws.
In this light, Moses and the Prophets, Christ and His Apostles, and the primitive teachers of Christianity, regarded and presented the subject. Everywhere they found themselves surrounded with Systems of Philosophy and of Religion. Everywhere they presented, in opposition to these Godless philosophies and irreligious religions, a supernaturally attested Divine Philosophy and Religion, and these as one and the same system. In opposition to the doctrine of Creation by Emanation, or Natural Law, for example, they taught, as we have before shown, as a deduction of Natural and Revealed Religion, 'that the worlds were made by the Word of God.' In opposition to the doctrine of Evolution, the idea that all visible animal life and vegetable forms of vitalized existence were developed by Natural Law from diverse pre-existing primordial forms, which were themselves the results of 'Spontaneous Generation,' they affirmed, 'that things which are seen (visible species) were not made (developed, evolved) out of things which do appear,' that is, from pre-existing visible forms; that God originally created and constituted each species, so that its offspring should be 'after its kind;' that 'God gives to each seed its own body'a body like that from which it proceeded. In opposition to the solutions of the problems of Being and its Laws, solutions presented by these Godless philosophies, they presented opposite solutions, and verified the same by appeals to visible and conscious facts of nature, as in the case of Paul at Athens, before Felix, and in all his Epistles; and to supernatural facts undeniably real, as n the case of all these teachers. All men understood that in accepting the solutions of these teachers, they renounced those presented by all the Godless philosophies and opposite religions around them. They greatly err who represent these men as mere teachers of an unsystematized religion. They taught, on the other hand, a well-understood system of doctrines, and taught that system, as not only embodying a Divine Religion, but also a Divine Philosophy. We will give a single example of the philosophic teachings of the doctors of the Primitive Church.
AN EXAMPLE OF THE PHILOSOPHIC TEACHINGS OF THE LEADING DOCTORS OF THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH.
The common doctrine of the then existing Godless Philosophies was that of Fate, or Necessity. Against this doctrine these doctors specifically and unanimously protested. 'Every one,' says Mosheim, 'knows that the peculiar doctrines' (of which that of Necessity was one) 'to which the victory was assigned by the Synod (of Dort), were absolutely unknown in the first ages of the Church.' 'The Church teachers' (of the first three centuries), says Neander, 'agreed unanimously in maintaining the free will of man as a necessary condition of the existence of morality.' 'These Fathers,' says Whitby, 'unanimously declare that God hath left it in the power of man to turn to virtue or vice.' In full accordance with these statements, is the testimony of Calvin, and of all authorities of all schools.
The specific statements of these Fathers fully confirm the above opinions of these high authorities. 'If it happen by fate,' says Justyn Martyr, of the second century, 'that men are either good or wicked, the good were not good, nor should the wicked be wicked.' Again, 'Unless we suppose man has the power to choose the good and refuse the evil, no one can be accountable for any action whatever.' Again, 'God has not made men like trees and brutes, without the power of election.' 'Man can do nothing praiseworthy, if he had not the power of turning either way.'
'No reward,' says Tertullian, of the same century, 'can justly be bestowed, no punishment can justly be inflicted, upon him who is good or bad by necessity, and not by his own choice.' 'Man,' he says again, 'being appointed for God's judgment, it was necessary to the justice of God's sentence that man should be judged according to the desert of his free will.'
Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, and of the same century, says, "Man, a reasonable being, and in that respect like God, is made free in his will, and having power over himself, is the cause that sometimes he becomes wheat, and sometimes chaff.' In the following statement we have, not only an avowal, but a most perfect presentment of the doctrine of Free Will. 'They who do good shall obtain honour and glory, because they have done good when they could forbear doing it. And they who shall do it not shall receive just judgment of our God; because they have not done good, when they could have done it.'
'What is forced,' says the learned Basil, is not pleasing to God, but what comes from a truly virtuous motive; and virtue comes from the Will, not from Necessity.' 'The Will,' he says again, 'depends on what is within us, and within us is free will.'
'Forasmuch as God has put good and evil in our power,' says Chrysostom, 'He has given us a free power to choose the one or the other; and as He does not retain us against our will, so He embraces us when we are willing.' Again, 'After a wicked man, if he will, is changed into a good man; and a good man, through sloth, falls away and becomes wicked; because God hath endowed us with free agency; nor does He make us do things necessarily, but He places proper remedies before us, and suffers all to be done according to the will of the patient.'
'God,' says Jerome, 'hath endowed us with free will. We are not necessarily drawn either to virtue or vice. For when necessity prevails, there is no room left for damnation or the crown. 'Our will,' he says again, 'is left free to turn either way, that God may dispense His rewards and punishments, not according to His own pre-judgment, but according to the merits of every one.' 'Let the man who condemns free will be himself condemned.'
'The soul,' says Origen, 'does not incline to either part out of Necessity, for then neither vice nor virtue could be ascribed to it; nor would its choice of virtue deserve reward; nor its declination to vice, punishment.' 'How could God require that of man which he' [man] 'had not power to offer Him?'
'Neither promises nor reprehensions, rewards or punishments, are just,' says Clement of Alexandria, 'if the soul has not the power of choosing or abstaining.'
'The doctrine of Fate or Necessity,' Eusebius affirms, 'absolves sinners, as doing nothing of their own accord, which was evil; and would cast all the blame of all wickedness in the world upon God, and upon his provideuce.'
Didymus, of the fourth century, says of the doctrine of Free Will, 'this is not only ours, but the opinion of all who speak orthodoxly.'
Nor did even Augustine hold the doctrine of Necessity in the common form. 'They that come to Christ,' he says, 'ought not to impute it to themselves, because they came, being called; and they that would not come, ought not to impute it to another, but only to themselves, because, when they were called, it was in the power of their free will to come.' We perceive clearly that these doctors were not merely Christian theologians. They were also well-informed Christian philosophers. The Philosophy and Theology of the Church were thus identical, and the latter, in all proper forms, as the perfected system, determined the former.
As the systems of Aristotle and Plato, in opposition to those of the Epicureans, Stoics, Sceptics, and Idealists such as Plotinus, taught the doctrines of Matter, Spirit, Time, Space, the Soul, and God, these Doctors accepted the systems first designated as, in all essential particulars, true, and referred to the teachings of such thinkers as Thales, Anaxagoras, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, in confirmation of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. In opposition to doctrines of Materialism on the one hand, and of Idealism on the other, they affirm the real existence of two distinct and separate principles, Matter, which they designated by such terms as corpus (svma), and Mind, which they called anima, spiritus, mens. In opposition to the teachings of Plato and Aristotle, they generally denied the eternal existence of Matter, at the same time affirming that the idea of origination from nothing 'contains a radically inevitable and insolvable mystery.' Against the doctrine of creation by emanation or evolution, they urged such arguments as the following:1. According to this system all beings are fractions or portions of God, and thus the Divine unity is broken up. 2. Evil infirmities and crimes attach to the Divine essence as parts of the same. 3. The Divine essence must be indivisible and incorruptible. Near the close of the fifth century, Boethius, a learned and Christian Roman senator, born 470 A.D., as an ancient philosopher on the one hand, and a Christian theologian on the other, developed in the West a system of Philosophy in professed conformity with both science and the Christian Religion. His works were held in high regard in subsequent centuries. Near the close of the sixth century, John Philaforms performed a similar work for the Churches in the East. Other great thinkers about the same time, thinkers such as Bede, Egbert, and John of Damascus, in Italy, Gaul, Spain, England, and the East, 'sent out rays of light upon the poor pale schools that glimmer remotely through the shades of barbarism.' As long, however, as the identity between science and the real doctrines of Christianity was maintained, and the latter, in the proper form, determined the former, Christianity maintained its ascendency as an all-conquering power. When, on the other hand, false science gave form to Christian doctrine, then the Sun of Righteousness went into a deep eclipse, and the midnight of the Dark Ages gradually overspread Christendom.
DURING the first centuries of the Christian Era there arose, particularly at Alexandria in Egypt, certain schools in Philosophy, whose systems were utterly subversive of Christianity, but were presented to the world as perfected systems of Christian doctrine. These schools were divided into two general classesOriental, in which an attempt was made to blend Christianity with the systems of India and Egypt; and the Graeco-Oriental, represented by the Alexandrian Electicism. These systems deserve our attention merely as furnishing the ground for an explanation of the origin and character of certain doctrines and usages which obtained in the early centuries of the Christian era, and marred the purity of Christian doctrine. We shall refer to these systems in the order above indicated.
These doctrines are represented by the General term Gnosticism, and present nothing but the Pantheism of India and Egypt, with Christianity blended as a common ingredient with said system. For the Brahm of India, and Pinoris of Egypt, the Gnostics (self-styled knowing ones) substituted the Abyss, who is the ground and substance of all being. Creation is wholly by emanation, and consists of emissions and manifestations of what is contained in the bosom and substance of the Abyss. The first emanations, proceeding as they do directly and immediately from the Abyss, are the most perfect, and constitute a universe of superior beings, the Plaroma, and are called Eons. The last of these emanations is the Demiurgus, a being constituted of light and ignorance, force and feebleness. From this imperfect being emanates the visible universe, material and mental, a universe in which consequently good and evil are intermingled, the latter greatly prevailing. Christ is the last and most perfect emanation from the Abyss, and as the leading Eon, His mission is to destroy the works of the Demiurgus. The source of all evil is the hylic or material principle, of which matter Ulé is the substance. Redemption consists in the emancipation of the soul from the hylic principle and rising to the pneumatic, or spiritual, state. The Jews worship the Demiurgus, or Jehovah, and were consequently psychical; the Pagans were subjected to the inferior world, and were hylic; while true Christians are pneumatic. All who remain under the hylic principle will be annihilated; those who seek union with the Demiurgus will have a semi-happy existence with him, while the pneumatic will return to the bosom of the Abyss.
In the early part of the third century, Manes, born in Persia, developed a system known as Manichaeism, a system in which Persian Dualism is combined with the doctrines of Christianity. According to Manes there are two principles from which all things proceedthe one a most pure and subtle matter, denominated lightthe other a gross and corrupt substance, called darkness. Each of these is presided over by a being who existed from eternity. The being who presides over light is called God, and is supremely good and happy. He who rules over darkness is called Hyle, or Demon, and is evil and unhappy. Each of these beings originally produced an immense number of creatures resembling themselves, and distributed them through their respective provinces.
For a long period the Prince of Darkness remained ignorant of the Kingdom of Light. When, by means of a war in his own dominions, he became aware of a universe of pure and happy beings, he arrayed all his forces against them, and succeeded in seizing a large portion of the celestial elements of light, and intermingled them with masses of corrupt matter. The pure particles of the celestial matter, the Ruler of Light was not able wholly to rescue from the power of the Prince of Darkness. From the elements thus retained under his control, the Prince of Darkness created the human race, who were constituted of bodies organized out of corrupt matter and of souls possessed of a sensitive and lustful nature, on the one hand, and of a rational and immortal nature on the other, the latter being constituted of particles of the Divine light which he had carried away. God now created the earth as the abode of the human race, His object being the ultimate deliverance of the captive souls from their corporeal prisons, and to extract the celestial elements from the gross substance in which they were involved. To accomplish the work of human redemption, God produced from His own substance two beings of a Divine dignityChrist and the Holy Ghost. In the progress of ages, Christ appeared among men as dwelling in a human body, taught them how to disengage the rational soul from the corrupt and the violent passions engendered by malignant matter, demonstrated the divinity of His mission by stupendous miracles, and was at last put to death by the Jews on an ignominious cross. All this was in appearance only, since spirit cannot be really united with matter without being corrupted by it. Before leaving the earth, Christ promised His disciples to send them the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, or Comforter, who should perfect for believers the revelation of truth. This Comforter is Manes, who reveals to mortals all truth needful to their final salvation, which consists in total purification from the contagion of matter. By renouncing the God of the Jews, who is the Prince of Darkness, by carefully obeying the laws revealed by Christ, and enlarged and illustrated by the Comforter, a purification will be partially effected in this life, and perfected in the next.
Souls, on the other hand, who neglect this work of self-purification pass after death through many and painful transmigrations until they have fully expiated their guilt. In the final consummation the universe will be purified by fire, after which the Prince of Darkness, with his own creatures, will be for ever excluded from the Kingdom of Light. To perpetuate the influence of his own teachings, Manes arbitrarily rejected all those portions of the sacred writings which were supposed to conflict with his own system.
The rules of life prescribed by Manes were most rigorous, requiring the mortification and maceration of the body as intrinsically corrupt and vicious, and a total denial and mortification of all the natural passions and instincts. His disciples were divided into two classesthe elect, and hearers. The former were required to abstain totally from flesh, milk, eggs, wine, and wedlock, and to partake of mere vegetables and bread sufficient to keep alive their emaciated bodies. The hearers were allowed, under severe restrictions, to possess houses and lands, to eat flesh, and enter into wedlock. Throughout Egypt and surrounding countries vast multitudes embraced the Gnostic and Manichaean doctrines. Hence, deserts and mountain solitudes were peopled with vast swarms of devotees, who fled from the habitations of men to escape the deadly contagion of the flesh.
THE GRAECO-ORIENTAL PHILOSOPHY.
In our exposition of the Grecian Evolution in Philosophy, we have superseded the necessity of enlarging upon the subject stated above. Near the close of the second century, Ammonius Saccas, an apostate from the Christian faith, opened in Alexandria an Eclectic school, in which he professedly blended into one harmonized system the essential elements of the Oriental, Grecian, and Christian doctrines. The teachings of this philosopher were enlarged, and more completely systematized, by such thinkers as Plotinus, Porphyry, and Proclus. In accordance with the teachings of Oriental and Grecian Pantheism, they taught the existence of one absolute unity as the principle and substance of all things, and of the universe as an emanation from this unity, all sensible objects beings the images and external representations of intellectual objects, or of ideas, which alone are real. With the doctrine of emanation they connected a certain form of the doctrine of the Trinity, of a Mediator, and other forms of Christian truth, all moulded and transformed so as to harmonize with the essentials of Pantheism. The common attempt of all schools to harmonize Christian doctrine with their systems clearly evinces the fact that a conviction of the truth of that doctrine had become the common faith of the Roman Empire.
CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE AS CORRUPTED BY
'SCIENCE FALSELY SO-CALLED.'
WHILE the Doctors of the Christian Church, during all the centuries we are now considering, openly rejected and opposed the systems of the Gnostics, Manichaeans, Alexandrian Eclectics, and other Anti-Theistic schools, there were certain principles maintained by these schools which were received by many of these Fathers, and thus corrupted Christian doctrine. The idea that matter, as a real or ideal substance, is the source and cause of human sin and misery, and that salvation is conditioned, not on a full regulation of the propensities, but upon an extinction of natural desires, constitutes, as we have seen, the common element of almost all the systems of false science in all ages. The validity of this idea, in its essential forms, had an early place in the teachings of leading fathers of the Christian Church, and gave rise to the Monastic institutions, usages, and doctrines of subsequent ages. During the progress of the second century, the moral teachings of the New Testament were divided into two classesprecepts and counsels. The former were absolutely binding upon all, and those who obeyed them fully were morally perfect. The latter were advisory, and not absolutely binding upon any. All who fully conformed to the precepts, and added thereto conformity to counsels, were not only morally perfect, but did more than their duty, and thereby attained to angelic perfection. Of this class were such as, from religious motives, voluntarily abstained from wedlock, denied themselves all luxuries, and practised the greatest austerities. Such teachers as Chrysostom and Athanasius affirmed that such individuals became possessed of forms of virtue which 'are above law.' Speaking of this class, Athanasius says, that 'the Son of God hath, besides His other gifts, granted unto us to have upon earth the image of the sanctity of angels.' Here we have the germ of the doctrine of Supererogation, on which was based that of Indulgences.
THE MEDIAEVAL EVOLUTION IN PHILOSOPHY.
THE period from the sixth to the ninth century constitutes the era of transition from the ancient and early Christian to what is denominated the Mediaeval Evolution in Philosophy, and would, were it our object to present a mere history of opinions, constitute a distinct chapter. As the change was very gradual from the Patristic to the Mediaeval period, little need be added, however, to what we have indicated in respect to this transition period. The leading thinkers of this period we have already designated. Of the specific forms of their teachings, we know but little, the fact excepted, that with them, science and religion were one and identical, or more correctly perhaps, that science is the handmaid (ancilla) of religion.
In Arabia there arose in connection with the rise of Mohammedanism systems which took form from Mohammedan and Christian doctrines on the one hand, and from Oriental dogmas on the other. The common doctrine of all these systems was that of absolute fate as taught by Mahomet. At the beginning these systems were purely Idealistic and Pantheistic; then Materialistic; and finally, of course, Sceptical, in fact and form. In the Secret Societies of Syria and Egypt, these were the most essential of the dogmas taught to the Initiatedto wit, 'There is no other God but Material Nature; no other religion but pleasure; and no other right than that of the strongest.' Scepticism took on two formsa denial of all valid knowledge but through the Koran; and a denial of the possibility of real knowledge in any form.
THE RISE OF SCHOLASTICISM.
After the ninth and tenth centuries, when the Papacy was fully established, the authority of the Church became supreme in Religion, in Politics, and also in Philosophy; and Education in all its forms came under her direct and exclusive control. In science within certain limits liberty of thought and free discussion were fully tolerated, but not in contravention of any of the positive dogmas of the Church in any sphere, of research whatever. Philosophy became nominally Christian, and assumed the general name of Scholasticism. We are not to suppose that this term represents a doctrine which always retained one and the same form. In its germ it existed in preceding ages, but at a much later period took on its final form. We propose to consider this evolution in these two forms.
Scholasticism in its Primal Form.
The Scholastic doctrine, in its primal form, was first distinctly announeed by Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was born 1033. Christians, he affirmed, should advance to science through faith, and not to faith through science. This dogma, he announced through the following formula: 'Credo ut intelligam,' 'I believe that I may know.' According to the early Fathers, science and Christian doctrine were to be developed side by side, each on independent grounds, and each in harmony with the other. It was an early doctrine of these Fathers, that when any deduction arrived at in the scientific procedure contradicted any clearly ascertained truth of Inspiration, that deduction should be assumed to be false, and that the ground of the error should be searched out. They also held that the highest degree of certitude, that is, knowledge in its most absolute forms, in respect to the great problems of Philosophy, problems pertaining to Being and its laws, to Ultimate Causation, to God, the Soul, and Immortality, is not obtained through Philosophy unaided by revelation, but through revelation with Philosophy as the handmaid, and not the authoritative guide, of religion. 'The world, by wisdom' (Philosophy), they were taught and believed, 'had not known God,' and had not found truth; while the humblest believer had found both. Inspiration had affirmed a fact of the truth of which they were absolutely consciousto wit, 'That no man can know the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him.' In other words, man can know himself but through internal facts of which he is himself conscious. Hence, it becomes a truth of absolute intuition and science, as well as of inspiration, 'that no man knoweth the things of God, but the Spirit of God,' and that we only do, or can, truly know God, but through Divine revelation and illumination. In this sense, these Fathers did, and most rationally too, hold the doctrine, 'Credo ut intelligam.' By this they did not understand that prior to faith in inspiration nothing is, or can be, known. Through conscious facts the soul has some knowledge of itself; through 'the things that are made,' 'the invisible things of God' (his essential attributes) 'are clearly seen;' and through supernatural attestations, Christianity is known to us as a Divine religion. All this must precede faith in this religion. When thus enlightened, however, we must now believe, or never attain to a consciously assured knowledge. of even those forms of truth to which science aims to conduct us. If we turn away from this higher light, the light that was before within us becomes darkness, and in our self-affirmed wisdom, we 'become fools.' Such, undeniably, is the doctrine of the Bible; such was the, belief of these Fathers; and such is the truth as verified by the history of philosophic thought from the beginning to the present hour. Let us consider a few facts in verification of these statements.
This Doctrine Verified.
Outside of the sphere of Theistic and Christian thought, and antagonistic to the same, there have been numberless schools in Philosophy, schools in all of which the ultimate problems of Being and its laws, and of final causation, have been professedly solved and absolute truth found. The leaders of these schools, not the world, have glorified themselves by manufacturing and exclusively appropriating to themselves as the self-inaugurated intellectual autocrats of the race such cognomens as Yogee, Buddha, Magi, Philosopher, Savan, Sophist, Gnostic, Illuminati, Scientist, Physicist, and Ists in such numbers as to exhaust the vocabulary of self-glorification. Not one of these terms, it should be borne in mind, was manufactured by the world, and conferred upon these men as a mark of world-respect. All, and for purposes of self-glorification, were self-manufactured, and self-appropriated. The common meaning of all these self-appropriated terms, it should also be remembered, is, Lover of Wisdom, the Wise Man, the Knowing One. Nor is this all. These men have, for the most part, claimed for themselves faculties of knowledge and powers of insight of which the rest of mankind are wholly destitute. What have they done to vindicate for themselves their high and self-appropriated claims? To such inquiries adequate answers have already been given, and will be given in future expositions. Nothing need be added upon the subject in this connection.
Let us now consider the real meaning of the doctrine, that faith must precede, not knowledge, but science. Faith, as defined in the Bible, and understood by the Fathers of the Church, is fixed fidelity of will to valid evidence, or rational conviction. Unbelief, on the other hand, is specifically set forth as infidelity of will to such evidence and conviction. 'This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.' Christ affirms, that the men of His age, who rejected or disbelieved in Him, would have been guiltless, had he not 'done among them the works which no other man had done,' that is, demonstrated before them the divinity of His mission. The heathen are affirmed to be without excuse, because 'they hold the truth in unrighteousness,' that is, know the truth, but do not obey it, and because they 'know God,' and 'do not glorify Him as God.' Voluntary infidelity to rational conviction is unbelief as defined in Scripture, and as understood by these Fathers.
Faith, on the other hand, is defined as 'the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,' that is, in respect to 'things hoped for,' the object of faith is 'substance,' that which is real and true; and as far as it pertains to things unseen, it has for its basis 'evidence,' valid proof, or rational conviction. Faith, then, as defined in Scripture, is fidelity of will to valid evidence or proof, that is to rational conviction.
Now nothing can be more evident than is the fact that every peculiar deduction to be met with in the systems of Idealism, Materialism, and Scepticism, is utterly void of intuitive, or deductive validity, and can have no place in the human mind as rational conviction; but takes exclusive form there as a mere assumption that stands in open antagonism to the intuitive convictions of the Universal Intelligence. This fact has already been fully verified. Such deductions, therefore, have place in the mind as the exclusive result of infidelity of will to 'evidence,' or rational conviction.
Faith in its relations to science is absolute fidelity of will to valid evidence, or to the real dicta of the Intelligence, that is, to rational conviction. Whatever the Intelligence in its original and necessary intuitive procedures presents to the mind as real, faith accepts as a known verity; and whatever facts, whether natural or supernatural, are verified by the known laws of valid evidence, are accepted as actual. Nothing is assumed as real or actual but what the Intelligence, in its consciously valid procedures, verifies as such; and all, and nothing else that is thus verified, is accepted as the exclusive basis of all deductions in science. The first step in science is, consequently, based upon the postulate that Matter, Spirit, Time, and Space, are known realities, and known as distinct and separate, the one from each of the others. All these are postulated as such realities, because in its original, necessary, and intuitive procedures, the Universal Intelligence presents them as such verities. All the axioms in all the sciences are postulated as valid for truth, because to the Universal Intelligence they are necessarily true. All the great facts which enter as constituent elements into such sciences, together with the supernatural events which stand around the Christian religion and affirm its Divine origin, are accepted as actual, for the reason that to the Intelligence they are verified as such by valid evidence. In respect to 'the things of God,' reliance is reposed upon the revelations and illuminations of the Spirit of God, because in a validly verified revelation from God, all who seek it have the absolute promise of Divine teaching. When science moves upon the track here indicated, all its procedures will, and must be, within the sphere, and under the illumination, of the clear light of the Intelligence, and deductions logically reached will have the fixed characteristics of conscious certitude. In our systems of Ontology, Cosmology, and Ultimate Causation, doubt will have no place; because nothing but what is to the Intelligence consciously known has place there; all forms of mere assumption, opinion, belief, and conjecture, being excluded. Nothing is, or can be, more evident than is the fact, that faith as above defined is the immutable condition and propaedeutic of true science, and rational certitude in all scientific procedures. These primitive Fathers were undeniably right in their doctrine that faith precedes science, and in the maxim, as originally held, Credo ut intelligam. Voluntary integrity to the Intelligence, or absolute faith in its real dicta, is the immutable condition of conscious scientific certitude.
Nor can there be any departure from the track of scientific deduction above indicated, but through most palpable infidelity of will to the absolute dicta of the Intelligence; in other words, to rational conviction. Within the proper sphere of the Intelligence, there can be no form of doubt of the reality of Spirit, Matter, Time, or Space, or of either as an object of valid knowledge. We cannot deny the validity of our knowledge of either of these realities, but in the language of Coleridge, 'by an act of' (miscalled) 'scientific scepticism to which the mind voluntarily determines itself:' In other words, all the denials of Materialism, Idealism, and Scepticism, have their exclusive basis, not in data furnished by the Intelligence, but in mere assumption, voluntary determination, a sentiment of willwill datawhich stand in open antagonism to original, universal, and necessary intellectual intuition.
SCHOLASTICISM IN ITS FINAL FORM.
The effort of Scholasticism,' says Schwegler, 'was to mediate between the dogma of religion and the reflecting self-consciousness; to reconcile faith and knowledge.' Scotus Erigina, of the ninth century, in his attempt to produce this reconciliation identified the two. 'There are not two studies,' he said, 'one of Philosophy and one of religion; true Philosophy is true religion and true religion is true Philosophy.' This identity can be rationally established but by developing each system upon its own independent ground, rightly interpreting the Word on the one hand, and taking into account on the other all validly known facts; and finally, by comparison demonstrating the harmony between them. Others, as we have seen, attempted to evince this harmony, by advancing to religion through science, and determining from the deductions of the latter, not only religious doctrines, but the meaning of the Word of God. It was, in fact, by this method that Scotus Erigina made the two one and identical. He was avowedly a Pantheist, and developed not the doctrine of nature, but the entire system of Christian doctrine from the Pantheistic stand point. God, he taught, is 'the substance of all things,' the substance 'in which all things end, and to which all things finally return.' As multiform developments of the Divine unity, he gave us not Oriental Polytheism, but the Trinity, Incarnation, and the whole system of Christian doctrine. The principle of determining the Word of God by the deductions, whether true or false, of science, has a place in modern theological thought. Whenever any of our Scientists set forth some special hypothesis, however crude and unverified, not a few of our theologians hasten to prove that the teachings of the Bible may be made to affirm the validity of that hypothesis. Thus the same passage has been explained in harmony with an endless diversity of conflicting hypotheses. By such procedure the Bible is not vindicated, but exposed to public contempt.
Others have attempted to harmonize 'faith and knowledge,' by advancing to Philosophy through religion. Holding as we do, as Christians, that nature and the Bible proceed from the same Author, we must hold that a Divine harmony does exist between the real teachings of the two. We must hold, for example, that the doctrines of Cosmology, Anthropology and Ultimate Causation, revealed in Scripture, are in absolute conformity with the same doctrines as far as they are revealed 'by the things which are made,' Yet the teachings of the Bible and the facts of nature are to be explained independently of each other.
The form which Scholasticism finally took on was, that 'the faith of the Churches is absolute truth,' and that it is exclusively through her dicta that we are to interpret both science and the Bible. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, born, as we have stated, in 1033 A.D., first developed the doctrine in this form. This was the meaning of the famous maxim, 'Credo ut in telligam.' No discussion, he taught, was to be held with men who denied the absolute authority of the Church both in matters of faith and of science. Discussion and examination were not to be repudiated, but were to pertain exclusively to an understanding and elucidation of what, on the authority of the Church, had been previously accepted as true. 'As the right order,' he says, 'demands that we first receive into ourselves believingly the mysteries of Christianity, before subjecting them to speculative examination, so it seems to me the part of negligence if, after having been confirmed in the faith, we do not endeavour to understand what we have believed.' Scholasticism in this form became soon after the immutable doctrine of the Papacy, and was enforced upon the people by the civil as well as the ecclesiastical authorities. Opposition to this doctrine, which was at length developed within the bosom of the Church, laid the foundation for the Reformation.
THE NOMINALISM AND REALISM OF THE MIDDLE AGES.
Philosophy, as accepted and taught by the leaders of the Primitive Church, took form chiefly from two sourcesthe original teachings of Plato on the one hand, and of Aristotle on the other. Hence it was that during the entire Scholastic era a fierce antagonism existed between Realism as derived from the former, and Nominalism as received from the latter. The Realists held that ideas as universals, species and genera, have a real existence, and that the universal exists prior to the individual (universalia anterum). The Nominalists on the other hand, maintained that the individual alone has real being, and that universals are mere names (flatus vocis), without content and without reality. In favour of each of these hypotheses, the highest talent the world then knew, and we should very little fear the truth if we should add, as high as any since known, was arrayed. It was universally assumed that one of these hypotheses was right and the other wrong, none suspecting that both were in error. As each party had an erroneous position to assault, on the one hand, and to defend on the other, each was omnipotent in its assaults, and the perfection of weakness in self-defence. If the universal, the term man, for example, is a mere word, representing no valid idea in, and no reality out of the mind, then the proposition, 'John is a man,' is void of meaning. It does have real meaning however. The dogma of Nominalism, therefore, cannot be true. To this argument the Nominalist could make no reply. If the universal, man, for example, does represent an idea within and a reality without the mind, a reality distinct from the individual, then, as before, replies the Nominalist, the proposition, 'John is a man' is untrue or void of meaning, the proposition being equivalent to the affirmation that the individual and the universal, which are distinct from each other, are one and identical; nor would there be any difference between individuals. To this argument that truly great thinker, Dans Scotus, who died in 1308, made this reply: 'The individual and the universal, though distinct from each other, are always united in the same person. Individuals differ, not as containing the universal, but through the distinct qualities which constitute their individuality. The individuality of Peter, for example, consists, not in his humanity, but in his Peterity, or Peterness. Hence, Peter is both an individual and a man. John is a man and an individual also, but not Peter, because in the former not Peterness, but Johnity, is added to humanity.' To this argument Nominalists gave a reply which has never been answered: if the universal, as all admit, man, for example, is one and not many, how can humanity be at the same time present in John at Ephesus, and in Peter at Rome or Babylon? Thus each school utterly demolished the hypothesis of the other, and that because both were in error. In like manner, Materialism and Idealism, because both systems are false, have each omnipotent power in assaulting the position of its antagonist, and is utterly powerless when assaulted in return. When Scepticism also has annihilated the claims of both systems it, in turn, falls dead under the crushing blows of Realism. How often is it the case that when two fundamental errors stand opposed to each other, even thinkers assume that one of these errors must be true. A more dangerous mistake can hardly be made. The fact that Materialism and Idealism are incompatible and antagonistic systems, and that Scepticism is opposed to both, does not imply that either is true. Notwithstanding this deadly antagonism all these systems maybe constituted of nothing but fatal error. Whenever two or more false and conflicting theories confront each other, there is always another hypothesis which includes all that is true, and excludes all that is false in each of these forms of error, an hypothesis consequently which must be true. Idealism, for example, affirms that we have a valid knowledge of spirit and its operations, but denies that we do or can have any such knowledge of Matter and its qualities. Materialism affirms that we do have a valid knowledge of Matter, but denies that we do or can have any such knowledge of Spirit. Scepticism affirms that we do have a valid knowledge of Phenomena, but denies that we do or can have any knowledge of Substance, or real being in any form, of realities such as Matter, Spirit, Time, and Space. Realism admits all that each of these theories affirms, and affirms all that they deny. They consequently are 'science falsely so-called,' while it embraces 'the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.'
The above elucidations have a direct application to realism, Nominalism, and to a third hypothesis unknown to the ancients, namely, Conceptualism. All these hypotheses admit and affirm that universally the term man, for example, is applicable to each individual of the class which comes under such term, and hence that Socrates, Peter, John, etc., were each of them really and truly a man. The Realist affirmed that the term man represents a form of being which existed prior to all individuals of the race. Nominalists denied the existence of such anterior form of being, affirmed that nothing is real but particular or individual existence, and that general or universal terms are mere names, which represent no ideas in the mind, and no realities exterior to it. In their points of agreement that John is a man, for example, both are right. In their contradictions of each other, both rested upon fundamental error. All general terms do, as all men know, represent ideas in the mind and qualities exterior to it, but not the forms of being which the realists affirmed. The term man, for example, represents the qualities common to all men, which did not exist prior to individuals of the race on the one hand, and a conception of those qualities in the mind on the other. In view of their individual peculiarities, we say, Peter is not John, and in view of their common qualities, we call each a man. Thus we have the hypothesis of Conceptionalism, which has now supplanted both of the ancient theories. The term Realism, as now employed, stands opposed, not to Nominalism, but to Materialism, Idealism, and Scepticism.
THE MYSTICISM OF THE MIDDLE AGES.
Ever since the second century of the Christian Era, a class of professed believers have existed in the Church, who have been denominated Mystics, and sometimes Quietists. They have received this designation, not exclusively, or primarily, on account of their doctrines, but because of their peculiar method of affirmed spiritual insight. Among the Mystics, while their method of insight was essentially one and the same, an endless diversity of form of belief obtained. What is now required of us is a distinct exposition of this method, together with an exposition of the reasons of the diverse and even contradictory forms of belief and sentiment evolved through one and the same method.
To accomplish our object, we would observe that, as is well known, there are two classes of sciencesthe pure, or á priori, and the mixed, or á posteriori. In the former all principles and facts are given exclusively through á priori insight, the principles, facts, and deductions, all in common having universal and necessary, or apodictic, certainty. In the latter, while the principles are given through á priori, the facts are all and exclusively derived through á posteriori insight. There are, consequently, two distinct and separate methods of scientific deductionthe á priori, which has place only within the exclusive sphere of the pure, and the inductive, or á posteriori, which has exclusive place within the sphere of the mixed sciences.
The science of Ontology, Cosmology, Ultimate Causation, and of all problems pertaining to being and its laws, belong, as we have demonstrably evinced, to the exclusive sphere of the mixed sciences. In these sciences all valid deductions must be based upon facts of actual perception, and upon facts implied by what we perceive. In these sciences there are but two conceivable methods of reasoning, namely, the á priori and the inductive. In accordance with the latter method, we first of all determine the forms of valid perceived and implied knowledge, and then construct our systems accordingly, such systems being true when all forms of valid intuition, and none others, are included, and the validity of all our deductions are necessarily implied by our valid principles and real facts; and our conclusions will be false, if any real forms of knowledge are excluded, or any not valid are included as the basis of our deductions.
In the á priori method all the elements of thought given by perception external and internal are ignored, and all exercise of the faculties of Conception, Judgment, Association, and Imagination are suspended, and the whole being is held in waiting expectation for a direct, immediate, á priori insight, or vision of being in se, or of necessary, eternal, and absolute truth. Philosophers generally refer this vision of the Absolute to a special faculty called Reason or Ecstacy, while others identify this same faculty with God. The Christian Mystic refers such visions to direct and immediate illumination of the Spirit of God. All agree in this, that these visions are most full and perfect when the perceptive, and other kindred faculties referred to, are the most completely suspended, and all cognitions through them are the most fully ignored. The methods by which this common state of non-thought is induced are various. The Yogee and Buddhist having, by an act of will, suspended the exercise of the other faculties, seats himself in an immovable position with his eyes steadily fixed upon the end of his nose, or as fixedly directed towards the east, there and then awaiting the vision of absolute truth. The Grecian and Transcendental philosopher, 'when he begins to philosophize' without any such mere physical acts, 'puts himself into a state of not-knowing,' or, as Coleridge expresses it, 'by an act of scientific scepticism to which the mind voluntarily determines itself,' he 'assumes all previous knowledge to be uncertain,' and then and there awaits the 'vision Divine' of 'the Absolute.' Arabian philosophers of about the twelfth century recommended the following method of inducing this state of perfect non-thought. Setting out with the principle that the senses and other cognate faculties give us nothing but the transitory and perishable, they conclude from hence that reason should separate itself from all notions and conceptions, and even extinguish the imagination. 'The philosopher,' they say, 'who wishes to rise to the intuition of truth, should imitate the circular motions of the stars, in order to bring on a giddiness that may efface from the mind every traceevery recollection of the world of phenomena. In this state of isolation the intelligence of man, freed from all material obstacles, finds itself in direct communication with God. Everything visible has vanished away; Being onlythe Absolute Beingappears in his essence, and the mind then comprehends that nothing existsthat nothing can exist out of that essence which is the sole reality.'
Christian Mystics had various methods of 'effacing from the mind every traceevery recollection of the world of phenomena.' Some, after voluntarily suspending the operation of the perceptive, conceptive, reflective, and reasoning faculties, seated themselves upon the ground with their eyes turned not to the east, nor fixed upon the ends of their noses, but upon the ends of their navels; others stood upon the tops of high posts with their eyes closed or turned upwards, while others still shut themselves up in cloisters, or 'wandered in deserts and in mountains and in dens and caves of the earth.' Everyone must perceive that the method of the á priori philosopher and Christian Mystic is really identical, and that the object of each is the same, the vision of absolute truth. The one expects this vision through insight of reason, the other through Divine illumination. Both alike, according to all correct definition and classification, are Mysticsthe one class in the mixed sciences, and the other in religion. The Christian Mystic holds that without the aid of the senses, of the reasoning faculties, or even of the Written Word, we attain, through direct and immediate illumination of the Spirit of God, to a knowledge of Divine truth. The Mystic in Philosophy expects, when he has 'put himself into a state of not-knowing,' by whatever method this state may be induced, a direct and immediate vision, through insight of reason, of absolute truth. Mysticism in Philosophy is the á priori method of scientific induction and deduction, the method which has place but in the pure sciences, forced, as the all authoritative method, into the sphere of the inductive or á posteriori sciences. Religious Mysticism, we repeat, is the same method of induction and deduction in the sphere of religious thought.
One inquiry of great interest and importance here arisesan inquiry which has been, in part, answered in other connections, namely, how is it that by strict adherence to the same method, and in the exclusive use of the same faculty and form of insight, there is obtained such a multitude of utterly contradictory visions of affirmed absolute truth? The importance of the subject will be our justification, we now being in the presence of all forms of development which Mysticism has ever taken on, should we repeat some ideas before expressed. As examples of these multitudinous conflicting 'visions of the faculty Divine,' permit us to request a careful consideration of the following statements, whose validity none will deny.
The Oriental Yogee of a certain class, the Grecian and Mediaeval Idealist, and the modern Transcendentalist of a certain school, all in common, when they have 'put themselves into a state of not-knowing,' have or had direct visions, as a form of absolute truth, this formula 'Brahm,' 'the All-One,' 'God as pure Being, or the Absolute,' 'alone exists; everything else is illusion.' Creation is exclusively by emanation. So far an absolute unity of vision obtains. So far as the character of these Divine emanations is concerned, the visions of 'this faculty Divine' are quite contradictory. The Hindoo Yogees reveal, first a Trinity of gods, and then numberless orders of inferior deities, all of whom seem to be evil, and are represented to the mind through monstrous images. The higher Grecian emanations are of a great variety of orders, and though not morally perfect, are presented with few exceptions through forms of beauty and power. The Pantheistic seers, who were educated in the presence of Christian ideas, apprehended forms of the Trinity, Incarnation, and various orders of superior beings, such as are designated in the Scriptures, but all revealed in harmony with the Pantheistic doctrine of being in se. The highest developments of the Absolute, and all Intelligence attributed to Him, by the Modern Pantheist, are represented in humanity and in human consciousness. The Christian Mystic had, for the most part, visions and revelations which accord with the evangelical faith, and of all the developments of the highest forms of the Christian life.
The disciples of Kapila and Kant, in the same 'state of not-knowing,' and through the same form of á priori insight, obtained this formula of absolute truth; 'Neither do I exist, nor anything which pertains to myself,' all our knowledge is merely phenomenal, and God exists but as a law of thought. Two unknown entities exist, as the substance and principle of all things.
Other Yogees, ancient and modern, in the same state of non-thought, and through the same identical form of insight, have a direct vision of matter as the only reality. With them Atheism is the form of absolute truth, and matter, with its laws, is the principle of all things.
Others still of the Buddhist, Pythagorean, Neo-Platonistic, and the Pure Idealistic school of modern times, have, as a similarly attained revelation of absolute truth, the formula that being and knowing are one and identical, and thought only exists as the principle of all things.
Plato and his school, after repudiating all knowledge through perception and understanding, and affirming that knowledge through the sciences has merely a subjective validity, obtained through direct and immediate insight of reason, and 'in an intuitive manner,' an absolute knowledge of Matter, Spirit, Time, and Space, as realities in themselves, of the eternal co-existence of matter and Godof God, as having organized the universe, after having persuaded Necessity to relinquish to Him the control of the material element; of His having committed for completion and final governmental control, His half-finished works, to a class of Gods whom He had created for the purpose, and then 'falling back into his usual slumber.'
We give the above as mere examples of the endlessly diversified and contradictory visions of absolute truth,' all of which are obtained through the same identical method, and by means of the same identical faculty of intuitive insight.
In what light, then, does impartial scientific integrity require us to regard the authority of this so-called 'faculty Divine;' this reason, and this method of induction and deduction, when carried over into the sphere of the mixed sciences, and their authority in the solution of the problem of being and its laws? If facts of the most palpable character constitute a basis for any deductions whatever, we are bound to regard this faculty and method as the most unreliable source of knowledge conceivable. External and internal perception, in the same circumstances, and when the same conditions are fulfilled, always, in the same individual, and in all men, give the same identical facts. This 'faculty divine,' this reason, this organ of intuitive insight, of 'being in se,' and of universal, necessary, and eternal truth, and this method of science by which we attain a knowledge of absolute truth, when the same identical conditions are fulfilled, and in the same identical circumstances, give visions of the Absolute so endlessly diversified and contradictory as fully to realize the idea of 'confusion worse confounded.'
In the presence of these contradictory visions, we are also left without any criterion by which we can form even a probable conjecture as to which is true and which is false. We have, undeniably, the same identical á priori reasons for the assumption that matter alone is real, as we have that spirit alone exists, and we as undeniably have no such reasons for either affirmation. The á posteriori evidence is, also, equally balanced. From whatever standpoint the subject is contemplated, no grounds of discrimination exist, by which we can determine if any of these 'visions of the Absolute' are true, which are, and which are not, valid; while each form of vision is given forth as of absolute authority.
The very form in which these 'visions of the Absolute,' are set before us involve the grossest absurdities conceivable. Suppose an individual has a direct and immediate vision of matter as a reality in itself. Such perception is valid for the reality and character of its object. But suppose that our Yogee, or Scientist, affirms that in the same act of vision he perceives that nothing else but matter does exist, that is, that in infinite space no form of being but the material form does exist. Here we find ourselves in the presence of one of the grossest conceivable absurdities. Perception is always positive, and pertains exclusively to its object, and is valid for the reality of that specific object, and for nothing else. Unless the existence of matter necessarily implies, in itself, that nothing else does or can have being in infinite space, a perception of this substance as real, presents no grounds whatever for the deduction, or conjecture that any other conceivable form of being is, or is not, real. The same does, and must, hold true in all other cases. Knowledge direct and immediate of spirit finite or infinite, or of thought, feeling, or willing, is valid in itself for the reality and character of its object, and for nothing else, whose being is not necessarily incompatible with that of the object known to exist. Mr. Fichte, we will suppose, has had an actual knowledge, a reason-vision, of a real subject, 'a me,' which, from principles and laws inhering in its inner being, makes real to itself just such a universe as now lies out before us, with God as its author; the 'me' being the originator of all that appears as real to said 'me.' Mr. Schelling, on the other hand, has an equally valid vision of an 'absolute and infinite existence.' How the finite mind can have such a vision of 'being in se,' and that being infinite and absolute, is more than we can comprehend. 'We will suppose, however, that our philosopher has had 'through reason, in an intuitive manner,' a direct and immediate knowledge of such a beinga being possessed of the identical potences ascribed to itone potence, that of reflection, in which this infinite substance 'embodies its own infinite attributes in the Finite,' and thus sees itself objectified in the forms and productions of the material world, that is, sees itself as being, in all respects, the opposite of what it really is; and another potence in which there is 'a regress of the Finite into Infinite,' and 'nature makes itself absolute,' and 'assumes the form of the Eternal.' Mr. Hegel, we will suppose finally, these examples being sufficient as illustrations, Mr. Hegel has had an actual vision, 'through reason, in an intuitive manner,' of 'a thought,' or 'idea,' which actually subjecticizes and objecticizes itself, as matter and spirit, as finite and infinite, and makes real to itself an organized material and mental universe, as existing in time and space, and under the control of an infinite and perfect mind; all this being generated by this thought wholly from itself, by itself, and for itself. If these men have had such an absolute knowledge, of such a 'me,' such 'an absolute and infinite substance,' and such a 'thought,' we must admit the actual existence of just such realities. But when these philosophers assure us, that through the same absolute insight of reason, and in the same perceptive act, they had an absolute knowledge, the one of the 'me,' the other of 'an infinite substance,' and the third, of 'thought,' as the only existing reality, and as 'the substance and principle of all things;' here we find ourselves in the presence, not merely of absolute contradictions, but of the infinitely absurd. Absolute knowledge cannot contradict itself, and intuition simply, and exclusively, gives its object as real, and neither affirms, or can affirm, the reality, or non-reality, of any other object. If thought can exist, and be perceived to exist, without a thinker, such a fact has no bearing whatever upon the question whether thought, in other cases, does, or does not, exist, as an act of a real subject who thinks; and the question whether such thinkers do exist, rests upon its own independent evidence. When an individual affirms that he has a direct and immediate knowledge of a certain form of being as real, we may, without violating reason, credit his affirmation. But when he affirms that, in the same intuitive act, he perceives that this object does, and that nothing else, does or can exist, we dementate ourselves, if we do not repudiate his pretension as perfectly absurd.
Now this is the exclusive character of all the professed visions of absolute truth under consideration. In the same intuitive act, our Yogee, Seer, Scientist, Philosopher, Transcendentalist, by whatever name we designate him, professes to perceive that one specific form of being exists as the sole reality, the substance and principle of all things; in other words, that this one object, and nothing else, does have being. A more absurd idea never had place in Bedlam.
The real character of the forms of absolute truth professedly found by these philosophers is also in palpable contradiction to their own formal definition of reason as an intuitive faculty. They all unite in defining this faculty, as the faculty which by direct and immediate intuitive insight, gives universal, necessary, and eternal truth. Not one of the forms of truth which they profess to find, through this faculty, has any such characteristic whatever. The peculiar characteristic of a necessary truth, is the absolute impossibility of even conceiving of the opposite as being true. Space, for example, we conceive to be real, with the absolute impossibility of even conceiving of its non-reality. Not so with any one form of affirmed absolute truth which these thinkers professedly find through insight of Reason. To every formula embodying such affirmed form of truth, another contradictory one stands opposed, and one is just as conceivably true as the other. To the proposition, God exists as the substance and principle of all things, for example, two others, whose validity is equally conceivable with this, stand opposed, namely, matter, exists as such a principle; and matter, finite spirit, time, space, and a personal God are all realities in themselves. The doctrines of Materialism, Pantheism; Ideal Dualism, Subjective, or Pure Idealism, are none of them forms of necessary truth, and cannot, therefore, have been given through á priori insight, as they are affirmed to have been.
The principles, we remark finally, which lie at the basis of all the systems constructed through this method and insight, are, as we have shown in other connections, mere assumptions which have not the remotest claims to validity. We refer to the assumption, that but one substance or principle of all things exists, and that knowledge but in its objective, or subjective form is possible, and is actual in one exclusive form. Take away either of these assumptions, and Materialism and Idealism, in all their forms, 'vanish into naught.' Now, as we have formerly demonstrated, no truth is, or can be, more evident than this, that neither of these assumptions is self-evidently true, and neither can be verified, as a deductive truth. In the absence of absolute omniscience, we cannot affirm what substances do, and do not exist, in infinite space. The avowal of such principles evinces infinite presumption in those who put them forward as principles in science.
What real claims, then, have this affirmed á priori insight of Reason in respect to 'being in se,' and to necessary and eternal truth, and this method of á priori induction and deduction in á posteriori sciences, what real claims, we ask, have this affirmed insight, and this boasted method, to our regard, as a means of attaining to a knowledge of truth in any form? On purely scientific grounds, the results of such insight, and the deductions reached through such a method, have no more claims to our regard, as forms of real, and more than all, of absolute truth, than have the wildest visions and deductions of lunacy. The idea that men of a certain class, after 'putting themselves into a state of not-knowing,' after 'assuming all existing forms of knowledge to be uncertain,' after ignoring all facts of external and internal perception, and all deductions reached through the natural action of all the conceptive, associative, and reasoning faculties, can then look off into infinite space and eternal duration, and by á priori insight of Reason, know absolutely what substances and causes do, and do not, exist and act theresuch an idea has nothing whatever but its presumptuous 'impudence,' and infinite absurdity, to commend it to our regard. Yet, when you deny the validity of such insight, you throw all the claims of Materialism and Idealism, in all their forms, into a midnight eclipse. The Christian mystic has open before him two books of Godthat of Nature, and that of Inspiration. To each of these, he utterly closes his mind, and then in a state of blank non-thought, expects in fallible Divine illumination. Can any expectation be more preposterous?
The Teachings of Thomas Aquinas.
Thomas Aquinas, sometimes called the Universal, and at others, the Angelic, Doctor (1225-1274), did more than any other individual to impart system to the scientific and theological thought of the Middle Ages. To give a full view of his varied teachings pertains to those whose object is a mere history of doctrine, and not to a fundamental criticism of systems of Philosophy. The following are among the most important of his teachings which possess a permanent interest for the race:
1. The object of science is the perfection of man, and each particular science has a specific relation to this one end. As individual men constitute a society organized for the end referred to, so the varied sciences; and that science is of all others the most regulative, which is most universal in its principles and deductions. This high and all regulative sphere is occupied by the science of Metaphysics, inasmuch as it treats of universal Being and its laws, and of causes, and especially of the great doctrine of Ultimate Causation. The origination of such a conception verifies its author as one of the truest and most profound of World-Thinkers. When the true doctrine of Metaphysics shall have been fully developed, this science will occupy the precise place at the head of all the sciences to which Aquinas has assigned it, and all the deductions of Anti-Theism, in all its forms, will disappear for ever from the sphere of scientific thought.
2. This great thinker, also, anticipated Dr Reid in the solution of the problem which for ages had been agitated between the disciples of Nominalism and of Realism. He agreed with Aristotle in affirming that individuals alone exist, and in denying the Platonic doctrine of the real existence of Universal Ideas. He differed equally from the Nominalists in respect to the dogma, that universals are mere words which represent no ideas in the mind or objects external to it. Ideas, as the archetypes after which all things were created, had an eternal existence in the Divine mind. General terms, also, as representing the qualities common to all individuals of a given class, and the conception of said qualities in the mind, do have a real, subjective, and objective existence. Here we have the real doctrine of Conceptualism, which is now universally admitted to be the true doctrine, and which Aquinas was the first to announce in a scientific form.
3. To Thomas Aquinas, we remark again, the world is indebted for the statement, in scientific form, of the only valid method of proving the existence of God. In the order of existence, he taught, causes precede their effects. In the order of human knowledge, however, causes are known but through their effects. God, for example, is known to mind, as 'the Creator of the heavens and the earth,' 'the Former of all things.' We do not know the universe through á priori knowledge of God, but God through or 'by the things that are made.' The truth of this doctrine is evinced by inspiration on the one hand, by Reason-intuition, on the other. The idea of God renders the universe conceivably possible, and its facts correspondingly explicable; but does not, in itself, imply the reality, either of a creation, or of a Creator. A doer can be known but by what he does. The doctrine of creation and a Creator does, and must, come under the same principle. The argument of Aquinas upon this subject is thus very clearly and succinctly stated in the 'Epitome of the History of Philosophy.' 'The philosopher can therefore arrive at a demonstration of God only by following an order relative to the human mind, by taking effects as the principle of the demonstration, in order to ascend to the cause as a logical consequence.' The á priori argument of Anselm, our author, as a consequence, rightly rejects as invalid.
In his presentation of the Theistic Argument, Aquinas fails in one essential particular. He rightly makes the fact of creation as an event occurring in time an essential principle and element in the argument; but wrongly bases the evidence of this fact, not upon deductions of the universal science of nature, but upon the affirmed natural, and self-evident impossibility of an infinite series of successive events. Thus, for ages, was a wrong direction given to Theistic thought, and a wrong basis furnished for the Theistic Argument.
4. The highest claims which this great Doctor has to our regard, are based, perhaps, upon the relation which he has most clearly and truly set forth between the doctrines of Natural and Revealed Religion. The former, he taught, such as those of God as 'the Former of all things,' the soul, and duty, are common to revelation and to science both, and can be verified on rational grounds. The latter, such as the Trinity, Incarnation, and Atonement, are not contrary to, but above Reason. In the sphere of science, they may be vindicated, on account of their conscious accordance with the known condition and wants of man, as being probably true, and as not being self-contradictory, or opposed to absolutely known truths, and therefore absurd. In all other respects they are above science, and rest as objects of faith upon Divine revelation. No thinker has set forth these fundamental distinctions with greater clearness and force than has this 'Universal Doctor,' and here his teachings have claims of infinite weight upon theologians and philosophers of all ages. Their common duty is to vindicate for all truths of Natural and Revealed Religion a scientific basis, and for all doctrines which belong exclusively to Revealed Religion a full accordance with Reason in the sense above indicated. All who object to these doctrines must be held most strictly to these forms of disproofa demonstration of their want of accordance with the conscious facts and wants of humanityof their being selfcontradictoryor of being, in fact and form, incompatible with absolutely known truths. No other forms of disproof or objection must be admitted as having any bearing whatever against any such doctrine, and these must lie against such doctrines, not as stated by certain individuals or sects, but as they are actually set forth in the Scriptures.
DECLINE AND FALL OF SCHOLASTICISM.
Scholasticism in its early developments, as represented in the maxim 'Credo ut intelligam,' met with strong opposition within the circle of leading teachers in the Church. Abelard, for example (1079-1142), laid down this fundamental principle, as having self-evident validity, that rational insight must prepare the way for faith, since without that faith is not sure of its truth' [Ueberweg, vol. i. p. 387]. 'My disciples,' he says, 'asked me for arguments drawn from Philosophy such as Reason demanded; begging me to instruct them that they might understand, and not merely repeat what was taught them; since no one can believe anything until he has first understood it, and it is ridiculous to preach to others what neither teacher nor pupil understands.' The wide popularity of Abelard, the multitude and zeal of his disciples, and the manifest truth of his leading utterances on this subject, originated and perpetuated within the Church a strong opposition to the extreme doctrine of Scholasticism, and prepared the way for its final overthrow.
The rise of experimental studies, and the open opposition of not a few of the Scholastic dogmas to forms of demonstrated truth, contributed much to ensure the same result. Roger Bacon, one of the greatest thinkers the world has known (1214-1294), really commenced the work which Francis Bacon did so much to consummate near the beginning of the seventeenth century. The former was confined in prison for ten years on account of his heretical teachings in the Natural Sciences. In the early days of the reformation, his writings, as containing such heresies, were committed to the flames. The impulse given to such studies, however, could not be checked. The wonderful advance in experimental knowledge which followed the discovery of the magnet and of the telescope, the discovery of America and the circumnavigation of the globe, together with the demonstrations of such thinkers as Galileo and Copernicus, and their associates, in subsequent ages, so absolutely exposed the false teachings of Scholasticism in the sphere of scientific thought, as to assure the downfall of the system.
This consummation was hastened and completed by the revival of letters which followed the discovery of the art of printing, and the influence of the Greek scholars who fled from Constantinople to Italy, and other parts of Europe, on the fall of the Eastern Empire. The general introduction of classic literature, and with it the wide diffusion of free and independent thought, gradually weakened and finally broke the shackles of authority.
The Dogma that Doubt is a Pre-requisite Condition of Knowledge.
Abelard not only opposed the dogma, 'Credo ut intelligam,' by affirming that 'faith has certainty only so far as it is transformed into science,' but also taught the doctrine that doubt is the necessary pre-requisite of real knowledge. 'By doubting,' he says, 'we are led to inquire, and by inquiring we perceive the truth.' To this principle, he affirms, Christ refers in the injunction, 'Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.' 'Dubitaudo enim ad inquisiorum venemus; inquirendo veritam percipimus; juxta quod et Veritas ipsa Quoerite, inquit, invenietis; pulsat, et aperietur vobis.' This principle of doubt as the condition of attaining to a valid knowledge of truth, the condition first announced by Abelard, was introduced into the sphere of modern science by Des Cartes, and has since been the guiding light of Transcendental thought in all its forms. The Transcendental philosopher, 'when he begins to philosophize, puts himself into a state of not-knowing,' and assumes all his previous knowledge to be uncertain,' his avowed object being thereby to 'find a knowledge which shall be certain, or be rendered such.' In respect to this assumption, Des Cartes thus speaks: I do not in this imitate the Sceptics, who doubt for no other purpose but that they may doubt, and seek for nothing but incertitude. My whole endeavour in this matter is that I may find that which is certain.' 'This purification of the mind [from all forms of previous knowledge, this state of universal doubt] is effected,' says Coleridge, 'by an absolute and scientific Scepticism to which the mind voluntarily determines itself for the specific purpose of future certainty.' This 'prudential doubt' of all existing certitude is presented in all schools of Idealism as the immutable and certain condition of attaining to call wisdom and all knowledge.' Let us, for a few moments, consider this 'prudential doubt,' and see if we cannot find its true and proper place in the sphere of science.
Let us first consider the motive which, in the form now under consideration, doubt presents for diligent research for truth and 'future certainty.' In 'assuming all our previous knowledge to be uncertain,' we of course assume, in the same form and to the same extent, the invalidity of the faculties which have furnished us with this knowledge. But all the faculties of which we are in conscious possession have been most diligently and honestly employed in our previous search for truth and certitude, and all to no purpose. These twenty, fifty, or seventy years, men may say, have we 'come to,' and employed these faculties, seeking truth and certainty by and through them, and have found nothing but incertitude. Where is the motive for their still further use 'for the specific purpose of future certainty?' All mankind, we remark again, have for thousands of years employed these same faculties for this one specific purpose, and have, obtained nothing through them but the 'wild grapes' of incertitude. This miscalled 'prudential doubt,' takes away totally every rational motive for a further use of the Human Intelligence in a search for truth and certitude, and renders such hope in their use perfectly absurd. The only rational motive which can be presented to the mind for searching for truth and certitude, is found in the doctrine that truth and conscious certitude both lie within the reach of our intellectual faculties, and that in their honest and earnest use both are attainable; and this, in opposition to the gross perversion of Abelard, is the real meaning of our Saviour in the admonition, 'Ask and ye shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you.' The basis of faith, as set forth by reason and revelation both, together with all rational motives for searching for truth and certitude, is not doubt, but present rational conviction.
It is admitted by all these philosophers that by means of the faculties under considerationthe perceptive and reflective faculties common to the race, we can attain to neither truth nor real certitude. This high attainment is reached by a special faculty, not possessed by the masses, nor, in the language of Coleridge, by many 'even of the most learned and cultivated classes,' a special faculty born in philosophers of certain schools, a faculty which goes by different names, as Reason, 'the Inner Sense,' 'the Vision and Faculty Divine,' the Vernunst, and Intellectuelle Anschauung. Of this faculty the Oriental Yogees claim an exclusive possession. Plato affirmed that it was possessed but 'by the Gods and a very small portion of mankind.' 'There are many among us,' says Coleridge, 'and some who think themselves philosophers, too, to whom the philosophic organ is entirely wanting.' Hence, he tells us, 'Philosophy cannot be intelligible to all, even of the most learned and cultivated classes.' 'To remain unintelligible to such a mind' [a mind in whom the Intellectuelle Anschauung has not been inborn], exclaims Schelling, 'is an honour and a good name before God and man.'
What shall we think of the authority of this new and special faculty? Can we rationally hope to attain through it to real knowledge and conscious certitude? How can these philosophers assure to themselves the validity of this faculty? They have taken away from themselves and the race the Intelligence as it exists in all minds in common, and with it all the knowledge and certitude obtained through its use and action; and neither we nor they can tell where they have located either. How can they know that this new-born faculty is not, like its predecessors, 'a liar from the be ginning?' Do they say that by 'this Vision and Faculty Divine' they have a consciously direct and immediate aspect of the Absolute? This is all that any faculty of intuition can yield us. But we do have in the use of other intuitive faculties a knowledge as consciously direct, immediate, and absolute, of Matter and Spirit as real entities. If intuition consciously direct and immediate is of doubtful validity in one case, why not in the other? 'The scientific Scepticism to which the mind voluntarily determines itself,' in respect to the action of the common intuitive faculties, must, in all reason, pass over to the intuitions of this 'Inner Sense.'
Besides, the former class of intuitions have infallible characteristics of validity which are totally wanting in the latter. In all minds, as we have formerly demonstrated, there exist the same identical apprehensions and convictions in respect to the essential characteristics of Matter and Spirit; whereas the intuitions of this especial faculty are not only totally wanting in the mass of mankind, but absolutely and palpably contradictory, as given forth by different philosophers in whom, if in anybody, this faculty has been fully 'inborn.' Who will deny that we have equal evidence of its existence and action, for example, in Plato, Kant, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel? Yet, if we credit the revelations of this faculty in any one of them, we must as fully discredit them in all the rest. If we are to doubt intuitions identical in all minds, on what authority can we be bound to credit thosewhich, to say the most, exist but in the brains of certain philosophers, and are here as revelations of absolute truth, to be sure, but are at the same time as contradictory as are the 'responses of Chaos and Old Night'? While these philosophers can by no possibility verify to themselves the validity of this in-born faculty, which has had even imaginary birth but in their own brains, we who occupy the 'cis-Alpine' regions of thought, are in a bad fix truly. Having assumed all our existing forms of knowledge to be uncertain, having seen that these philosophers cannot verify to themselves, much less to us, the validity of this special faculty, and having found that in different philosophers in whom, if anywhere 'it is inborn,' its revelations of the Absolute are absolutely contradictory; and having no criteria by which we can distinguish the real Absolute from the unreal, we are out at sea in deep and perilous midnight, with no chart or compass to guide us in our researches after truth and certitude. So much, and no more, and no less, do we gain by means of this 'prudential doubt,' 'that scientific Scepticism to which we voluntarily determine ourselves.'
Still further, we have only to do what these Idealistic philosophers do, assume that we have and can have no valid intuitions through external perception, and that we do and can have through consciousness a valid knowledge of Spirit or its operations, and all the forms and systems of Idealism ever developed will rise up before us in their perfected entireness, and that through the proper action of the common faculties of the Intelligence, without the aid of any special faculty at all. This we have already demonstrated. The idea of the existence of any such faculty in any class of thinkers is one of the wildest dreams of a crazy philosophy. No new and special faculty was ever 'inborn' in Vayasa, Gautama Buddha, Pythagoras, Plato, Plotinus, Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, or Coleridge. They were born, grew, ate, drank, lived, and died, like other men, had the same faculties as other men, no more and no less than they, and reasoned like other men, excepting when they made fools of themselves in their methods of philosophizing. We dementate ourselves, when we give the remotest credit to their self-assumed possession of a 'special faculty of intellectual intuition,' an 'Inner Sense,' a 'Vernunst,' an 'Intellectuelle Anschauung,' not common to the race. Give us the assumptions which lie at the basis of Idealism, assumptions for the validity of which no reason whatever can be assigned, give us these assumptions, we say, and without any new faculty of any kind, and with just the faculties common to the race, we will manufacture to order, and that in full completeness, any system which any Transcendental thinker has ever developed. We will not only give the origin and complete form of the system, but will demonstrate the source from which all its principles and elements were derived, and the reason why they occupy the identical places in the system which they do occupy. We will then, as we claim to have done already, and will do hereafter, render equally evident the fact that such system has and can have no more claim to our regard, as a valid solution of the problem of being and its laws, than has the wildest creations of Dreamland.
The Real Place of 'Prudential Doubt' in Science.
What, then, is the real place and function, of 'prudential doubt' in the domain of scientific research? It pertains not at all, we answer, to the reality of truth itself, to the possibility of our finding the truth, nor to the validity of our faculties as interpreters of truth. In the sphere of science, every intellectual faculty has its proper and exclusive place and function, and in that place and in the legitimate exercise of that function, has absolute and exclusive authority. To doubt the validity of the Intelligence renders all research for truth absurd and ridiculous. Nor can the validity of any faculty within its, proper and exclusive sphere be questioned, but for reasons which necessarily throw equal doubt over the action of all the other faculties, and thus render all the principles and deductions of all the sciences chimerical. Absolute faith in truth, and in the validity of all our intellectual faculties, is an immutable condition of any rational procedure in science.
In connection with the Intelligence, however, we have other faculties, the Sensibility and Will, whose aspirations and sentiments are everywhere intermingled with the real dicta of the Intelligence. Hence, intermingled with forms of valid knowledge, we have numberless forms of opinion, belief, conjecture, guessing, assumptions, and vain imagining; some of which may or may not be true, and more, perhaps, are utterly false, or but half-truths. Here, then, is a wide sphere for 'prudential doubt.' An affirmed system of knowledge is before us. If we were absolutely certain that we have here nothing but the exclusive action of the unperverted intelligence, we may rationally embrace the system as the exclusive embodiment of pure truth. We call to mind, however, that most systems are based upon mere assumptions in the place of self-evident and necessary principles, and that in the rearing up of systems, opinions, beliefs, conjectures, guessing, and assumption, have place, where nothing but logical deductions should appear. 'Prudential doubt' here comes in, and induces careful and rigid scrutiny in all places where error in the forms designated, may appear.
A system of religion is before usa system embodied in a given volume, claiming to be of divine origin and authority. We call to mind the fact that many such systems are in the worldsystems which have, undeniably, their origin in mere superstition and imposture. From such facts, the spirit of Infidelity assumes, without examination, that this is one among the many other creations of falsehoodan infinite leap in logic, a leap in which infinite and eternal interests are suspended upon mere conjecture. 'Prudential doubt' which pertains equally, prior to examination, to positive belief or disbelief, induces the most careful and candid examination of all the forms of evidence, external and internal, on which the claims of this religion are based, and a decision in perfect accordance with the weight of that evidence. Faith, or dissent, in such a case, and on no other condition will have a rational basis. Suppose that research is refused, or conducted under the control of a doubt of the validity of the Intelligence in the research for truth in such cases. We then doubt, that we may doubt, and suspend infinite concerns upon lawless assumption.
For ages prior to Sir Isaac Newton, mankind had generally believed in ghosts. When the question came before him, he neither affirmed nor denied the common faith; but holding his mind in a state of 'prudential doubt' between belief and disbelief, carefully examined the real facts bearing upon the subject. The result of the examination was a rational denial of that faith. If Infidelity existed as the result of such an examination of the real evidences of the Christian religion, such unbelief would be without sin. Such are the express teachings of our Saviour.
'Prudential doubt,' then, rightly understood, has an important place and use in scientific research, and its absence always results in the credulity of superstition or unbelief, which are twin sisters of one common motherinfidelity of will to rational conviction. This form of doubt is equally antagonistic to the spirit of Scepticism which doubts the Intelligence in its entireness, or to that of Materialism and Idealism, which doubt the same Intelligence in one or the other of its essential functions. No chimera of false science is more absurd than the idea that the condition of rational certitude in any form is 'a scientific scepticism to which the mind voluntarily determines itself.' Voluntarily determined doubt, in all its forms, is wilful blindness, in the place of the integrity of truth.
HETERODOX TEACHINGS AND SYSTEMS OF THE MIDDLE AGES.
The highest authorities among the Schoolmen admitted the distinction between science and religion, and that each had its own exclusive method of induction and deduction. What they claimed was, that the doctrines of the Church should be held as absolute truth in both spheres in common. The endless conflicts of thought, both in science and religion, induced at length a general doubt of the possibility of scientific verification of religious truth. This state of doubt originated the dogma, that, of two palpably contradictory doctrines, each might be held as absolutely true, the one as a truth of theology, and the other as a verity of science. Under the influence of this dogma, all forms of Materialism, Idealism, and Scepticism, were taught in the schools and universities, as being scientifically true, and accordant with right Reason, but as being, at the same time, theologically false. Such teachings were at length condemned by the ecclesiastical and civil authorities, as forms of the grossest heresy and hypocrisy. Finally, the irreconcilable antagonism between religion and science was admitted and affirmed, and the claims of the Christian Religion were repudiated on the grounds of the higher claims of science. We will give a few examples of these heretical teachings.
Among the Arabians, as we have seen, we find the systems of Idealism, Materialism, and Scepticism in all their forms, and developed in full accordance with the Oriental and Grecian methods of philosophizing. The Mohammedan Soufis answer perfectly to the Christian Mystics. Among Mohammedan theorizers, also, we have repeated, in fact and form, the dogma affirmed by the Schoolmenthat what is true in science may be false in theology. Averroes, of the 12th century, gave professedly a scientific basis for this distinctionwhat was not attempted among Christian thinkers. 'He distinguished in man the intellect and the soul. By the intellect man knows universal and eternal truths; by the soul he is in relation to the phenomena of the sensible world.' Religion pertains to the soul, and has relation to what is phenomenally true. Science pertains to the intellect, and gives us what is true in itself. As the phenomenal may not correspond with the real, so scientific and theological truth may be contradictory, the one to the other.
In the heterodox teaching among Christian nations during the Middle Ages, we find philosophic thought moving round in its old circles, and repeating over and over again, the ancient dogmas of Idealism, Materialism, and Scepticism, with no change of method, and no new deductions. Scotus Erigina, for example, in the ninth century, after laying down and repeating, almost word for word, the principles of science as affirmed in the Rarika, an ancient document of the Sankhya Philosophy, gives us the Pantheism of the Vedanta School simply modified in detail in conformity to Christian ideas. 'Scotus Erigina,' says the Abbé Gerbert, effected the construction of a system which, in grandeur, in gigantic character, rivalled the bold assumptions of the Philosophy of India. He set out, like that Philosophy, with the primary unity, that unity represented, according to him, by the word nature, which comprehends the universal whole. This starting-point taken, what would the office of Philosophy be? Its object would be to explain how variety has proceeded from the radical unity, and hence the title of his book, De divisione Naturae.' But under all phenomena, all diversities, he acknowledges nothing real but God, 'because His intelligence embraces all things, and intelligence in all things.' This cognitive power knew all things before they existed, and knew them not as out of itself, since out of itself there is nothing, but in itself, and as a part of itself. Everything thought and felt is but the apparition of something which in itself appears not, the comprehension of the incomprehensible, the name of the ineffable, the approach of the unapproachable One, the form and the body of that which has neither form nor body, the incarnation of spirit, the number of the innumerable, the localization of that which has no place, the temporary duration of that which is eternal, the circumscription of the uncircucmscribed, the apparent boundary of the infinite.' 'Everything proceeds from this unity, everything will one day return thither, according to the law of a progress which will spiritualize all things.'
In Scotus Erigina, Schelling finds himself, in fact and form, anticipated in respect to his doctrine of 'the potence of reflection,' in which 'the Infinite embodies its own infinite attributes in the Finite,' and in 'the potence of subsumption,' in which there is 'a regress of the Finite into the Infinite.'
Amaury, born near the close of the twelfth century, set forth, as stated by Gersau, the following system: 'Everything is God, and God is everything. The Creator and the creature are one and the same being. Ideas are at once creative and created. God is the end of all things, in the sense that all hings must return to Him, in order to constitute with Him an immutable individuality. Just as Abraham and Isaac are nothing but individualizations of human nature, so all beings are only individual forms of one sole essence.'
Giordano Bruno suffered martyrdom at the stake in Rome, February 17th, 1600, for teaching the doctrine of Pantheism in the pure Idealistic form. As stated by Mr. Lewes, the principle of his system was 'the identity of Subject and Object, of Thought and Being.'
In such thinkers as David de Dinant, of the thirteenth century, we have developed the doctrine of Material Pantheism. 'God,' he taught, is universal matter; the forms, that is, everything not material, are but imaginary accidents.'
We have given the above as examples in illustration of the validity of a statement made in the commencement of this treatise, that but a specific number of philosophical systems are possible to human thought. If we admit the validity of our knowledge of Spirit and Matter, and consequently of that of Time and Space, we must be Theists, and with Theism admit the doctrine of Immortality and Retribution. If we deny the validity of our knowledge of Spirit or Matter, or of both in common, then scientific thought must move in the direction of Idealism, Materialism, or Scepticism, and must generate, in all essential particulars, the same identical systems. The following statement of Mr. Lewes, in regard to Scepticism, is equally applicable to each of the other systems. 'It is worthy of remark that modern Sceptics have added nothing which is not implied in the principles of the Pyrrhonists. The arguments by which Hume thought he destroyed all the grounds of certitude, are differently stated from those of Pyrrho, but not differently founded; and they may be answered in the same way.' If the reader expects, in our advance into the sphere of the Modern Evolution in Philosophy, to find, Theism excepted, any new systemssystems which are not, in their principles, methods, and substantial forms, as old as Vayasa, Kapila, Kanada, Gautarna Buddha, Pythagoras, Zeno, Democritus, Epicurus, Protagoras, and Pyrrho, he will find himself very much mistaken. He will find nothing of which it can truly be said, 'See, this is new.' 'The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done; and there is no new thing under the sun.' Error has its fixed laws as well as truth. When Philosophy runs mad, there will be method in its madness, and always the same method and the same eternally repeated forms of Logical Fictions.
SCIENTIFIC PROBLEMS DISCUSSED IN THE MIDDLE AGES.
While the faith of the Church was set forth during the Scholastic Era as absolute truth, the objects of faith were also propounded as objects of thought and inquiry. 'As the right order demands,' says Anselm, 'that we first receive into ourselves, believing the mysteries of Christianity before subjecting them to speculative examination, so it seems to me the part of negligence if, after having been confirmed in the faith, we do not endeavour to understand what we have believed.' In the sphere of revealed truth, science, as the subject was then understood, has two missionsexposition and proof from facts of nature known to mind. Here was opened a wide field for thought, inquiry, diversity, and conflict of opinion, argument, and discussion. Within this sphere thought was not inactive among the Schoolmen, particularly in the western portion of Christendom. The methods of teaching and study then common in the schools and universities, was most favourable to the highest forms of independent thought and intellectual development. The pupil was not then, as is too commonly the case now, a mere recipient of thought through a text-book or lecture, but was in the presence of his teacher, to argue and discuss with him the great problems of universal truth. It has been well said that thinkers then argued themselves into mental greatness. There were, indeed, 'giants in those days.' When the great bodies of rival sects would confront each other before the pupils of the varied schools and universities with their conflicting Theses, and when the pupils would take part in the high debates, thought could but move in the sublimity of power. Hence it is that the world has known but few thinkers superior to such men as Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, and Roger Bacon.
Puerility of the Questions agitated by the Schoolmen compared with those common in other Eras.
Not a few of the questions which these great thinkers agitated, as involving problems of world-interest, were indeed very useless and puerile in character; as, for example, how many angels can stand together upon the point of a needle; or whether such being can transfer himself from one point in space to another, without passing the intermediate points. Such puerility is commonly regarded as peculiar to Mediaeval thought, and has not unfrequently been presented as a reproach of the Christian Religion. Individuals who speak thus forget that deep thought expended upon questions of like puerility, the building up of world-systems from mere 'imaginary substrata,' the most wide-sweeping deductions with no form of proof, and infinite leaps in logic, have constituted the chronic infirmity and distemper of philosophers from the commencement of science to the present time. How much thought and discussion were expended by the greatest thinkers of Greece, for example, over such problems as this. A single pebble, for example, is in a given vessel. We say that there is one pebble there. A second one is put in. We now say that there are two pebbles in that vessel. What made the two instead of the one? Did the putting in of the last one do this? If so, the first one cannot be reckoned, and we have but a single pebble there. Did the one first in the vessel make the one two? Here we have the same conclusion as before. The final deduction was that the idea of making, by addition, one into two is a chimera. In a similar manner every object of thought, and every form of belief, was involved in inexplicable puzzles and perplexities, until Socrates affirmed that he did not know that he knew anything at all, even whether he himself did or did not exist. Which is the most important or least puerile questionwhat made the two, in place of the one, or how many angels can stand together on the point of a needle? Which is the most puerile or least important, attempted proofs in such cases, or the attempt of a great leader of the New Philosophy in our age, to PROVE by argument that all proof by argument is impossible? Was there ever a greater solecism or absurdity than is involved in a deduction from premises formally laid clown, that all deduction from such premises involves the vicious error of petitio principii, and said production presented to the world as valid proof? One of these world-renowned scientists promises to 'demonstrate to us' that 'a unity of power or faculty, a unity of form and a unity of substantial composition, does pervade the whole living world,' and then, as a necessary inference from said affirmed demonstration, asserts that all mental and spiritual Phenomena do in fact arise from, and consist of, 'molecular changes in this matter of life.' He then in the process of the same article affirms just as absolutely that it is, 'in strictness, true that we know nothing about the composition of any body whatever as it is,' and that 'it is certain that we can have no knowledge of the nature of either Matter or Spirit.' For ourselves, we should regard ourselves as being quite as rationally employed were we engaged in a serious attempt to prove that 50,000 angels can or cannot stand together on the point of a needle, as we should be in an endeavour to 'demonstrate' 'a unity of form and a unity of substantial composition' in that of 'the composition' and 'nature' of which we affirm ourselves absolutely ignorant. The 'New Philosophy' is throughout characterized by just such puerilities and absurdities as thesea formal attempt to demonstrate 'the composition,' 'nature,' and 'laws' of a nature of which absolute and necessary ignorance is affirmed. We took up, some time since, a book designed to 'demonstrate' the place of man in creation. On a certain page in that book is a line of skeletons, commencing with the lowest form of the monkey, and ending with that of man. Between each two members of the series quite a similarity of structure appeared. From this mere fact of skeleton similarity, the inference is gravely drawn that man is lineally descended from the monkey. Why was not the opposite inference deduced, namely, that the monkey was begotten by the man? Degeneracy is a fact as real and almost as common in this world as progression from the least to ward the more perfect. The argument is just as valid in one direction as in the other, and has not even the appearance of validity in either form. Humanity does degenerate, but never descends so low as to touch or approach brute irrationality. There is also progression in brutism, but never towards, much less across, the gulf which separates unreason from rationality. We might as reasonably and logically affirm that the Finite originates the Infinite, as that brutism begets rationality.
Mr. Lewes very justly ridicules one of the problems of the Schoolmen, namely, 'Whether God knows all things through apprehensions of them, or otherwise?' We apprehend that he finds superlative wisdom in the attempt of Mr. Herbert Spencer to develop a valid system of universal being and its laws, after affirming absolutely, that all our knowledge is exclusively phenomenal,' mere appearance in which no reality appears as it is, and 'that the reality existing behind all appearance is, and ever must be, unknown;' and especially, in his attempt to tell us just how and why matter, of the nature of which we know and can know nothing, first becomes organized from chaos, then vital in vegetables and animals, and finally rational in man.
The Main Problems agitated by the Schoolmen not Puerile.
The main problems about which these Scholastic thinkers occupied their thoughts, however, were by no means of the puerile character above indicated. To his disciples who stood weeping and praying for him around his death-bed, Anselm, for example, when, as it has been well said, 'infinite truth was soon to be unfolded to him in clear vision,' made this remark, 'I should have been glad before my death to have committed to writing my ideas upon the origin of evil, for I had got some explanations which will now be lost.' While Anselm maintained the doctrine of faith as the proper ground of certitude, he still affirmed that the 'human mind should aim to unfold itself in another mode, that of science.' The condition of unity in science, he asserted, is the development of a principle which will explain all facts of matter and spirit as they are in themselves, and as given in the universal intelligence. This principle, he affirmed, is found nowhere else than in the idea of an in finite and perfect personal God. The reality of the object of this idea explains the possibility and reality of the universe as it is. The presence of this idea in the Intelligence enables it to explain the facts of the universe as they are known to the universal mind. These two undeniable facts absolutely evince the validity of this idea. That this great thinker failed in the form in which he argued from the existence of the idea of God in the mind to the reality of the Divine existence, we readily admit. That he has here developed the great central doctrine of universal truth, and indicated the method of demonstrating its validity, we will now proceed to show. Anselm is undeniably right in affirming that rational mind cannot exist without becoming possessed of the idea of an infinite and perfect personal God, and that in the presence of that idea, the mind has an intuitive conviction of its validity. What is the ground of this conviction? Here we may fail as he did. Anselm sought this ground in the nature of the idea itself, and here he was, no doubt, wrong. We find this ground in the conscious relations of universal mind to this idea. Let us see if we have not found the true solution. It is self-evident, that no form of valid disproof, positive evidence, or even antecedent probability, exists against the validity of this idea. If we cannot prove that such a being does exist, no one, as all will admit, can present the most shadowy form of disproof of this doctrine. Whenever, on the other hand, this idea takes distinct form in the mind, every department and law of our moral and spiritual nature is in conscious harmony with that idea, and in equally conscious antagonism to every opposite idea and sentiment. We violate no law of our moral and spiritual nature, but consciously conform to every such law, when we admit the validity of that idea, and act accordingly. If, on the other hand, we repudiate that idea as representing a non-reality, and move and act accordingly, darkness visible encircles us, and all our moral and spiritual activities become lawlessly disordered. Universal mind, in all the higher departments of its nature, is a lie, or the doctrine of an infinite and perfect personal God is true. In the absence of all evidence to the contrary, such high proof as this has absolute validity. The unbelief of the present, and of all ages, is merely a relentless war upon human nature itself. The idea of a Godless universe can have place in no mind which does not ignore all the conscious intuitions, and promptings, and laws of its own moral and spiritual nature. When the idea of an infinite and perfect personal God lifts its Divine form, as it must do, before the mind, rational mind must deny its own being, and conscious nature and laws, or admit the validity of that idea, and this fact does furnish a basis and principles of infinite importance for the scientific prosecution of our inquiries on the subject.
There is, also, connected with this argument, a form of evidence of the highest weight in favour of the Theistic hypothesis. While all do and must admit the reality of an ultimate reason, or cause, why the facts of the universe are what they are and not otherwise, it is undeniably manifest, as Kant acknowledges and affirms, that no idea so fully and naturally and adequately represents our conception of that cause as that of an infinite and perfect personal God. As this idea fully explains all the facts of the universe just as they are, it absolutely excludes all possible proof, positive evidence, or antecedent probability in favour of any opposite hypothesis. The Theistic hypothesis, as we have before shown, accords fully with the intuitive convictions of the race, and a conviction thus universal is, as Cicero has truly affirmed, a law of nature, universality being the immutable and infallible test of such law. Now an hypothesis against which no form or degree of real proof, positive evidence, or antecedent probability can be adduced, which more naturally, fully, and adequately represents our necessary idea of ultimate causation, and which perfectly accords with the intuitive convictions of the race, such an hypothesis we must admit to be valid, or openly ignore and repudiate a known law of nature. Such is the undeniable state of the Theistic argument in the sphere of thought and inquiry in which we now are. We must admit the validity of the doctrine of God, or hold an hypothesis of some kindan hypothesis in favour of which not a shadow of evidence of any form or degree can be adduced, on the one hand; and on the other place ourselves in open antagonism to an absolute law of the Universal Intelligence, the intuitive convictions of the race.
END OF VOL. I.
13 Ueberweg, pp. 216, 217.
FOREWORD BY THE PRESENT EDITOR.
A Critical History of Philosophy. By Asa Mahan in 1883. Foreward.