Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

only do our Protestant authors, philosophers in their own estiination, divorce religion from morality, but they also divorce it from knowledge, and suppose a man may be truly religious who is ignorant of every article in the Creed, and breaks every precept of the Decalogue, - making it necessary for us to defend against them, not only the orthodox faith, but even ordinary intelligence and morality, the very elements of civilization.

But, after all, these neologists do not quite succeed in their attempt. Mr. Morell, as much as he wars against intellect or understanding, — the logical understanding, as he calls it, finds himself obliged, as the indispensable condition of religion, to assert intuition of God, as its object, and he can frame no definition of religion that excludes cognition. He cannot, for a moment, maintain his pretence, that the activity of the emotions is the will, for nothing is more certain than that emotions are neither voluntary nor rational, and that we are, morally or religiously speaking, no farther interested in them than we deliberately excite or assent to them. Man is not to be regarded as one simple nature, but, so to speak, as two natures united in one person, the rational and the animal. The rational acts propter finem, and therefore rationally from free will; the animal acts ad finem, according to its own intrinsic necessity, as does all animal nature. It is only on the supposition of these two natures in one person, that we can explain the fact of temptation, or that internal struggle between reason and passion, judgment and inclination, which, since the Fall, rends the bosom of every man. Not otherwise is the language of St. Paul, in the seventh chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, susceptible of an intelligible meaning, or is there sense in the often-quoted words of the heathen poet,

“ Video meliora, proboque:

Deteriora sequor." To place religion in the animal nature, though our author does it virtually, is too gross a violation of common for any one with his eyes open.

Then it must be placed in the rational nature. Then all religious action is for God as final cause, and then it is necessary to know God, as the end, and also the means of attaining unto him or gaining our end. To know our end we must know our origin, for our final cause is unintelligible without a knowledge of our first cause. Here is all theology, for theology is nothing else than the knowledge of our origin and end, and of the means of gaining our end. It is idle, then, for a man to fight against theology, or

[ocr errors]

sense

to pretend that knowledge is not requisite to religion, not only to its perfection, but even to its existence. It is a hard case that we, benighted Papists, who are accused of maintaining that ignorance is the mother of devotion, should have to defend the common cause of intelligence against the philosophers who claim to be the great lights of the age. Perhaps by light they mean darkness, and suppose that forgetting is acquiring knowledge.

The difficulty our Protestants feel arises, not from the necessity of theology, or doctrinal instruction, to the religious character, but from the false theology taught by their sects, and which they mistake for Christian theology. We are not surprised that Protestants rebel against Protestant instruction, or regard Protestant theology as a let and hindrance, at best as superfluous ; for it really is an anomaly in Protestantism, and has no relation to the general economy of Protestant life. The Christian doctrines which Protestants profess to retain and incorporate into their theologies are really incredible and absurd when taken as Protestant doctrines, severed from the body of truth to which they belong, and on private judgment or private interpretation. This is a point of great importance, and one which cannot be too often insisted upon. We find Protestants professing certain doctrines which they have retained from us, and we are apt, at first sight, to suppose that these doctrines mean for them what they mean for us, and are as credible when they profess them as when we profess them ; or, if we do not so suppose, Protestants themselves do, especially those Protestants who admit to themselves that they are unable to believe these doctrines. But the fact is, that the Christian mysteries professedly held by Protestants are not really the mysteries we believe ; for they are taken as isolated doctrines, and differ as much from ours as a branch severed from the trunk, withered and dead, differs from a branch united to the trunk, living and bearing its fruit. On Protestant principles, they serve no purpose in the economy of religious life, they have no connection with Protestant notions of sanctity, are destitute of that beauty and grandeur which pertain to them when seen in their proper place as parts of an organic whole, which rests on a solid and adequate foundation. With us they receive a practical meaning by virtue of their relation to other truths which we hold, but which Protestants reject, and are credible because asserted on a sufficient authority. With Protestants no peculiarly Christian truth has any practical meaning, or is

supported by any authority sufficient for a revealed doctrine. Hence it is that in the bosom of every Protestant sect we see always a party protesting against the nominally Christian doctrines retained by the sect, as relics of Popery, denouncing them as anomalies, inconsistent with Protestantism, and calling upon the sect to clear them away.

This is as it should be, and we see not how an intelligent Protestant, not wishing to profess to believe what he does not and cannot, as a Protestant, believe, can do otherwise. To be called upon to believe a mass of doctrines which have no practical connection with life, throw no light on our duties, and furnish no motives to their performance, is an affront to good sense ; and we wonder not ihat so many are found to resist, and labor either to reject or to explain them away.

But, if these intelligent and consistent Protestants - consistent, we say, for they are consistent as Protestants could be persuaded to look at the Christian doctrines in their unity and integrity, as an organic and living whole, as held by those who have been commissioned to keep and teach them, they would at once see that all their objections are misplaced and puerile. They would then see that he who wars against the understanding, or doctrines addressed to it, is too unreasonable to be called a madman. We grant the doctrines they reject are incredible as Protestant doctrines, but nothing is more credible as Catholic doctrines, because as Catholic doctrines they are in their place, and receive their true significance.

There is much more in Mr. Morell's book on which we might remark, especially his application of his philosophy to the explanation of inspiration and the Christian mysteries ; but we have said enough to show that his doctrine is fundamentally false, and hostile to the very conception of religion, and it is not necessary to pursue and refute it in detail. The whole book affords us only a melancholy instance of the impotence of great abilities and respectable scholarship to construct, without the aid of that scientific and theological tradition which has come down to us from Adam, any thing deserving the name of a moral or a religious code. The greatest ability, the most creative genius, and the most varied and profound erudition, operating outside of the traditional wisdom of the race, can produce nothing that can abide for a moment the test of enlightened criticism. Man out of unity is weak and helpless, and can originate nothing but puerility and absurdity. The reason of this is, that man has not the source of knowledge and wisdom in himself, and is nothing save as he is taught and educated by his Maker. Pride may revolt at this, and men, puffed up by a vain philosophy which only darkens the understanding and perverts the heart, may revolt and blaspheme, but the experience of six thousand years proves that it is true.

Our Maker has never deserted us, and has always been near us to instruct us, if we would but sit down at his feet and listen. Some he has always instructed, and always have those who chose to learn been brought to the knowledge of bis will, and informed with his truth. The great body of true doctrine, revealed and natural, has been from the beginning within the reach of all men, is incorporated into the speech of all nations, and preserved in its unity, purity, and integrity in the infallible speech of the Church. There we may learn it, and if we learn it not there, we shall learn it nowhere, and be as heterodox in philosophy as in theology. We have neither to create nor to invent truth ; we have only to consent to be taught it. What fools we niust be to refuse to learn! What greater fools we must be to suppose that all who have preceded us have been fools, that science and wisdom were born only with us, and that our minds are the first on which truth has ever dawned ! There were brave men before Agamemnon, and wise men before Schleiermacher and Morell. The race has not lived six thousand years without a moral or religious code, or with one that now needs to be reversed. Let our philosophers reflect on this, and know that they can reverse the wisdom transmitted us only by putting evil for good, folly for wisdom, and darkness for light. It has been only to arrive at this moral, and to enforce it by a striking example, that we have introduced Mr. Morell's work, and called our readers to its false and immoral teachings and speculations. Such works are instructive, and teach us wisdom as the Spartans taught their sons temperance, by exhibiting the disgusting spectacle of the drunken Helots. From the folly and impiety of even the distinguished among Protestants, let us learn to love our Church still more, and still more humbly adore the grace that permits us to call ourselves her children.

Art. III. - The Mercersburg Review : devoted to Theology,

Literature, and Science. Mercersburg, Pa. January, 1849-1850. Bi-monthly. 8vo.

This is a periodical recently established by " the Alumni of Marshall College,” Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, as the organ of what is called “the Mercersburg system” of theology, and is conducted with spirit, learning, and ability. Its writers are strong men, apparently in earnest, and they present Protestantism in as plausible a form as it admits, and give it the most respectable vindication that it receives in our language. Whoever would see Protestantism in its least irreligious form, and learn the best that can be said in its favor, will do well to study the pages of this new review. Its modes of thought and expression are, perhaps, a little German, but its pages are rarely dull or uninstructive.

We call the attention of our readers more especially to the number for January last, which contains a long and elaborate article on ourselves, designed to set aside our arguments for the Church, and to vindicate Protestantism, as the writer understands it, from our attacks. The article

The article is ably written, in a tone and manner as acceptable as rare in those who write against us or our Church. The writer is a Protestant, but no vulgar Protestant; he is a gentleman and a scholar, and makes as near an approach to being a Christian as is to be expected from one who opposes the Christian Church. He aims to be fair and candid, and has evidently done his best to state our arguments correctly, and to urge only grave and solid matter against them. It is refreshing to meet such an opponent, and we are sorry to add, that he is almost the only direct opponent we have ever had that we did not feel it a sort of degradation to meet. He is one we can respect, and whom we should dread to encounter, if we had no advantage in our cause to make amends for our own personal inferiority.

The Reviewer very frankly concedes, in the outset, that, as against popular Protestantism, taking private judgment, with or without the Bible, for its rule of faith, our arguments for the Church are conclusive, and that there is no answer to be given to them. He concedes, moreover, that the Protestantism which we have attacked, whether under the special form of High Church or Low Church, Presbyterianism or Methodism, and which has nothing to reply to us but cant and sophistry, is

« AnteriorContinuar »