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yet been accomplished ? And who, that has felt the immortal energy within him, and who believes in God as the Creator, preserver, and teacher, of Human Reason, can doubt that that end is progressively advancing to its accomplishment ? In the limited space which we are able to overlook by the imperfect light of history, by personal observation, and by our own internal experience, we find more than sufficient proof of the vanity of the attempt to keep mankind in ignorance. Man will think ; he cannot be satisfied by mere feeling. Even the sense of moral and religious obligation he will have rationally and consistently explained.
Those who decry reason and philosophy ; who, having failed, relinquish them as hopeless ;-or, which is worse, consider the attempt of reason to estimate its powers and its validity, in order to their more complete and secure exercise, as disobedience and presumption against the Author of Reason ; and call upon men for a prostration of the intellect and the will, at least, if by this they mean the moral and rational will,--should consider well what it is they ask. If they, from fatigue, have been compelled to quit the advancing current of human improvement, and, following the eddy of the stream, have settled quietly upon the bank, there let them rest in peace ; - but they will call in vain, to those who are stemming the deep waters, to stop their onward course : the feeble voice of their indolence cannot be heard amid the rushing of that noble river.
It is to no purpose for the anti-rationally learned, bankrupts in philosophy, to cry out against scepticism :--let them supply its place by rational and consistent principles, which are necessary and indubitable. If they cannot do this ; if they have no fundamental rule for their own judgment, to guide them in forming a consistent and rational interpretation of the doctrines, casually, and sometimes obscurely and with seeming contradiction, scattered through the sacred Scriptures; they are themselves, so far as reason and philosophy are concerned, mere sceptics. And if, to avoid reasoning ill, they renounce reasoning altogether, burying their talent, they will prove no better than blind leaders of the blind. Their literal, fanciful, or accidental interpretation of the Bible will but ill supply the place of a sound, moral, and fundamental exposition, to which true philosophy alone can lead.
In the absence of this, the only, safe substitute is CONSCIENCE, the internal sense of moral obligation and of the sacredness of its divine dictates.
With respect to the dangers that threaten religion at the present moment; they are, in my opinion, more alarming than real; and, perhaps, the greater part of their reality may proceed from the alarm itself. Public and gross attacks upon the Bible as a whole, and upon the Church establishment, will doubtless be restrained by the Government within such bounds, at least, as are consistent with the peace and order of the state. Within this limit all at. tacks, though partially injurious, must ultimately tend to purify, not to destroy. The friends of religion, of every description, will thus continue to occupy an extensive field, and they will have an additional motive for their exertions in its favor. As to the radi. cal theologists of the day, they are, generally speaking, if I mistake not, merely enemies to all the religious institutions that ever were in the world; not enemies to what they consider to be rational reli. gion. Just so, our radical politicians only object to all past and present governments. These destroyed, they have no sort of objection to that pure and perfect system of government, which will, of course, instantly start up, as it were by magic, to supply their place. They are by no ineans unreasonable ; all they want is something absolutely perfect ; and I am credibly informed, that our new Monarch has already instituted a series of measures, which it is hoped may accomplish something of this kind in the course of I know not how many centuries.
Why should not the patrons of religion be equally condescendo ing; and, by a similar effort, endeavour to pacify the radicals in religion ? Let them immediately set about discovering, for instance, such a mode of interpreting the Scriptures, as shall render them perfectly consistent with reason. I imagine Carlile himself will not object to allow them a few centuries for the accomplishment of this great object. I am sorry to say, however, that some of the over-careful guardians of the Church appear to be jealous of its too close connexion with the State, and object to its advaneing with it, however slowly, towards the goal of rational perfection. Here lies its great danger ;-for, either it must advance, as the enlightened reason of man advances, and surely its pace is quite slow enough, or some new revelation may hereafter be found necessary to explain or to supersede that which, from the common accidents of time, or the negligence of those to whose peculiar care it was intrusted, will be found to have never been fully understood or appreciated. This appears to me to have occurred to the Mosaic dispensation ; and, that the Christian is not totally secured from the apprehension of a similar fate, the multiplicity of its sects is a strong argument. But the diversity of opinion respecting its true meaning, by no means proves that its meaning cannot be ascertained. It leaves open, at least, a hope of discovering it. The most fatal opinion is that, which states revelation to be absolutely contradictory to reason, and denies us the right to judge of it at all. This doctrine of some of its inconsiderate partizans, Strangely coincides with the calumny of its enemies ; but it
is far more dangerous ! It has long been the delusion of fanatics; but it ought never to be adopted by the regular Clergy. If they degrade the rational and sober dignity of the national Church, to flatter the ignorant multitude, they must expect to lose the esteem of the enlightened. In this country, there are pulpits of all shapes and sizes, and those sufficiently numerous for the gratification of every variety of vulgar fanaticism :-the true policy of the Established Church is, by no means to descend to a rivalry with them, or to receive its tone from their intemperance; but, to purify, to moderate, and to rationalise its doctrines ; to seek, in the moral nature of man, the interpretation of the mysterious symbols of a parabolic revelation ; and thus to offer to the learned and to the unenlightened, a religion which they can conscientiously receive, and profess, without the interested motive of a political hypocrisy.
This honest endeavour, which has already distinguished and shed honor upon the national establishment, will, so long as it is persevered in, prove its effectual safeguard; because the endea. vour alone, the mere admission of so sound a principle, must ever render it respectable, and ensure to it the support of the wise and good.
This will refute the malicious, and conciliate the well-meaning among its adversaries. Power alone cannot entirely subdue them; their reasons, so far as they have real weight, and refer to any good and
practicable object, power neither can nor ought to suppress.
On the other hand, it should be remembered that whatever incongruities or interpolations, whatever obscurity or even error, may be found in the Scriptures; whatever imperfections may attach to the ritual of the Church; its character depends not upon the letter of either of these, but upon the spirit extracted from both, by a Clergy progressively advancing in wisdom and liberality. Its character, therefore, may and ought to rise, with the elevation of intellect in the nation ;--and who can deny that it has so risen? On this principle it may last while religion has a seat in the mind of man; and what can ever drive it thence? Surely not the transitory doubts which the unsurmounted difficulties of speculative reasoning may seem to cast upon religious faith.
Shall we, for one, or a thousand failures, despair of the rational faculty; or with impious ingratitude cast it in the face of our Maker as a worthless thing, and hope too that this will be received as a pious offering? Such' blasphemers of God's true image, raised by his own creative hand within his noblest temple, claim our pity for their blindness. These deluded persons should consider that, if philosophical reason has not yet succeeded in demonstrating the grounds of morality and religion, it has the merit at least of having formed in the mind, the conceptions and ideas of which they are composed. The' very idea of God himself, is a pure production of Reason. No word, no image, could convey it to the mind, where reason had not previously conceived it. The ideas of the Soul, of Deity, of Immortality, & c., are its work. If it has not yet been able to comprehend the validity of its own ideas, and so learned how to protect its valuable offspring ; yet, even its last effort, the sceptical, has evinced a noble disinterestedness and subserviency to the cause of truth : it has here frankly shown, that the arguments upon which it formerly supported the objects of its dearest hopes, were incomplete, and that their foundation in the human mind requires to be more accurately investigated. I had intended strictly to avoid all reference to the so much disputed origin of these ideas; but I will venture one observation, for the use of those who are desirous to escape so metaphysical a discussion—it is thi : The ideas we possess of natural, that is to say, of knowable things, are obtained by the assistance of the five senses; they have always a "limited magnitude or duration : whereas the ideas of the Soul, the Deity, &c., totally differ from these ; they are imperceptible, unknowable, unlimited ; nor have we any ground for confining them, even to the ordinary modes of existence, time and space : they are therefore totally inconceivable. Now, the dispute is this : one party has all along pretended that the Soul and the Deity are not so totally incomprehensible; some profess even to have seen them with the naked
Their adversaries argued that this was impossible, and their arguments have been confirmed by the sceptics, who have proved the utter unintelligibility of these ideas. But they went further, and began to think that as they could fix no precise meaning to the ideas; they had, perhaps, been all along under a delusion, and that, in fact, they had never had any such ideas at all! Hume, who was a good man as well as a very acute reasoner, thought he had proved completely that the idea of a Cause was only a supposed idea ;-and Mr. Dugald Stewart declares himself to be of the sarne opinion to this day. Indeed, the matter rests were Hume left it-in doubt and despair.
Now, I would ask any man whose mind has not been warped by sophistry, whether he does not think it possible that there may be objects, which are totally and in every respect unintelligible to the human mind, and of which the imagination has neither power nor materials to form any adequate representation ?
I make no doubt that this will be readily admitted, by all persons who are not philosophers; and by them too, if they really deserve the name. I know the sceptics, at least the hardened and inveterate ones, will say that our idea of an object of which we absolutely know nothing, and can conceive nothing, is no idea at all.
It were superfluous to answer them here.' I draw the circle A) which I conceive as including all that is intelligible to man; X lies without this limit; it represents all those things which the faculties we at present possess are totally incapable of conceiving; one of which is the essential part of man himself, the soul; another is the Deity. It is true, these are not sensible ideas; we will call them supersensible ideas; Plato called them simply IDEAS: the name is of little importance.
Now let the philosophers go and study what sort of a faculty that is in man, by which he is enabled to form the Mental PHANTOM or Idea of something totally incomprehensible and inconceivable. The rest of mankind have nothing to do but to rejoice that they possess this noble faculty, by which they are blessed with even this faint glimpse of an Immortal World. Let them rejoice, even the poorest and the most uneducated, that the profound thinkers of the world have never been able, and never will be able, to shake the foundation upon which their faith is built; since it lies rooted in the very nature of the mental faculties. Let philosophers watch the operations of these faculties in their minutiæ, and form a consistent and entire system of mental knowledge. In the mean time, our moral and religious ideas are not rendered useless, much less annihilated, by their want of a complete philosophical exposition, and the support which they might thence derive: they seem, indeed, to shake, and to be every moment about to fall; yet we find them still immoveable. Who could entertain the idle apprehension that the mind has brought forth these great ideas only to destroy them again-were this even possible?
The ideas of an Immortal Soul and of a God are noble pledges given to us by Reason, which surely should induce us to repose some confidence in that power :- Can the source of such ideas be hostile to religion?
I confess I see in the declaimers against Reason, in those who call upon us to crucify this Deity in our humanity, if I may be permitted to use so bold a figure, the most dangerous, though the unintentional enemies of Faith.
It is difficult to make men Atheists-I might say utterly impossible; but it is very easy to render ignorant men superstitious, bigoted, fanatical, or hypocritically ceremonious; and all these directly strike at the moral basis of religion.
It is not to be expected that the mass of the lower orders, in whose hands the translation of the Bible is placed, or that the multitude of bigoted though well-meaning enthusiasts, to whom they most eagerly listen, should be capable of justly interpreting that ancient book; or of drawing from its theological, religious,