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Scientific and Religious Journal.
Vol. I. JANUARY, 1880. No. 1.
|THE BIBLE—THE BACKGROUND AND THE PICTURE.||5|
|A FUNERAL ORATION.||17|
|THE MOTIVE THAT LED MEN TO ADOPT DARWINISM.||20|
|SHALL WE ABANDON OUR RELIGION?||23|
|THE DOMAIN OR PROVINCE OF SCIENCE.||26|
|BLIND FORCE OR INTELLIGENCE, WHICH?||30|
|SPECIES, OR UNITS OF NATURE.||33|
The pyramids, temples and palaces of Thebes are monuments of the ancient intellects of our race. Great thinkers only were capable of giving to the world the Vedas, the Apollo Belvidere and the Parthenon. The arts and astronomy of Egypt harmonize very poorly with the idea that modern scientists have all the wisdom and intelligence known in the history of the ages. Among the wonderful characters of olden times we find Epictetus, Josephus, Strabo, Pliny, Seneca, Virgil, Aristotle, Plato, Tacitus, Thucydides and Herodotus.
The “Speculation of Evolution of Species” was advocated among the Greeks six hundred years before the birth of Christ. Two thousand and three hundred years ago the entire system of German philosophy, along with modern pantheism, was advocated by the Buddhists and Brahmins.
In many very important respects the ancients were in advance of us, especially in the arts, and we can not boast of superiority in either letters or philosophy. “The gentlemen of modern materialistic schools do not compare favorably with Plato and Cicero in the elevation and reverence of their opinions.” “Science has certainly made some advancement, but where is the warrant for the boasting” of sciolists of modern times?
Buddhists taught the most perfect outline of materialism in general. “They believed in a supreme force, but denied the existence of a Supreme Being. They rejected inquiry into first causes as unscientific,” maintaining that facts alone were to be dealt with in all our investigations.
The Brahmin contemplated the moment when his spirit would flow back into the great “Pantheistic Being.”
Modern materialists say, “We deal only with facts.” “We never speculate.” The Buddhists, and the unbelievers who figure so boastingly upon the rostrum in modern times, speak alike. They say: “As many facts and second causes as you please, but ask no questions about first causes; that is unscientific.” We should ask no questions (?) about the invisible. They have been very true (?) to their own principles.
There is nothing speculative (?) in the hypothesis that General George Washington was evolved from a crustacean. There never was a more absurd and wild speculation. It is an old speculation. Anaximander, who lived six centuries before Christ, advocated the assumption. His words are the following: “The sun’s heat, acting on the original miry earth, produced filmy bladders or bubbles, and these, becoming surrounded with a prickly rind, at length burst open, and as from an egg, animals came forth. At first they were ill-formed and imperfect, but subsequently they elaborated and developed.” This has the genuine ring of the language of modern unbelievers.
Christianity, in its beginning, had to encounter this “speculation” along with the current literature and philosophy of a civilization which was semi-barbarous and centuries old, but it triumphed over all, and in the third century it triumphed everywhere. Since that time one effort has been made upon the part of paganism to regain her former strength in the old world. Julian made that effort. He tried to revive and establish the supremacy of pagan thought by the power of the state. Subsequent to this it disappeared in the east, and has only plead for toleration in the west. But the dark ages came on in all their hideousness, and unbelief developed itself about the close of the fifteenth century, all over Europe. Paganism, as the result, was fostered near the bosom of the church. The fifth Lateran Council proclaimed anew the tenet of the imperishability of the spirit of man. The Padua University adopted a system of materialism taught in the works of Alexander, of Aphrodisias. A form of pantheism known in the philosophy of Averroes soon became a center of skepticism.
In the latter part of the seventeenth century modern unbelievers began their assaults. Lord Herbert and Hobbs in England, Spinoza in Holland, and Bayle in France.
In seventeen hundred and thirteen Anthony Collins published a discourse for the encouragement of a “clique” called “Free-thinkers.” This discourse was thoroughly answered by Bently. In seventeen hundred and twenty-seven Woolston made an effort to rationalize the miracles out of existence, interpreting them after the style of Mr. Strauss. Three years later Tyndal got out his dialogue called “Christianity as old as the Creation.” The world received in return for this “Butler’s Analogy of Natural and Revealed Religion.” In seventeen hundred and thirty-seven Morgan’s “Moral Philosophy” made its appearance, claiming the sufficiency of the moral law without any other religion. Warburton’s “Divine Legation of Moses” was gotten up in reply to this philosophy. Thomas Chubb wrote a discourse upon reason, and got out a few other small tracts denying the utility of prayer, and calling in question the truth of the Scriptures of both Testaments, in the line of Morgan’s philosophy. Bolingbroke, ignorant of the law, “that the greatest good of the greatest number is to be sought after,” even at the expense of the lives of a few wicked Canaanites, assailed the justice and the benevolence of the Bible God after Col Ingersoll’s style, and boldly avowed that the miracles of the New Testament never transpired; said, “If they did occur they attested the Revelation.” Voltaire lived between 1694 and 1788. He made himself busy in France, while Bolingbroke and Tyndal and Woolston, and Hume and Morgan were at work in England. Then Didoret, of France, made his appearance upon the stage as a bold defender of Atheism. Next comes D’Holbach, the leading author of the “Systeme de la Nature,” which came out in 1774. Its object was to strike down the idea of a God, of an intelligence separate from matter, of free-will, and of immortality. Didoret and others are accused of assisting in getting this book before the world. Rousseau lived in those times, and assailed Christianity after the manner of Hume. To all these enemies of Christianity we must add Condillac, who originated the materialistic philosophy of France.
Gibbon and Paine came into notice after Bolingbroke, and the terrible strife continued. Christianity was pronounced dead, and a prostitute was chosen to impersonate the “Goddess of Reason” in the national convention. God being dethroned in France, we should naturally look there for the “absolute liberty” which unbelievers talk so much about. But how was it? Were the people without a religious nature? Could they think more freely? Were they in any sense better off? No, they “followed the prostitute into the church of ‘Notre Dame’ in a grand procession and seated her upon the high altar, where she was worshiped by the audience.” This was the result of the labors of all the authors to which I have called your attention. It was a wonderful gain? In all the public cemeteries this inscription was read: “Death is an eternal sleep.” Cabanis, Destutt de Tracy and Volney close up the seventeenth century, but just about this time the “Critique of Pure Reason,” a work which is the bed-rock of modern metaphysics, makes its appearance. According to its teachings there are no realities in the world.
The struggle is passed in England. In France all are dull, drowsy. In Germany all are hungry for the food that satisfies unbelievers. The “Critique of Pure Reason” was followed by the labors of Fitche. He was succeeded by Schelling, and he by Hegel. All forms of torture must be added to this account of the conflict if we would get a glimpse of the strength of the Christian religion and of the religious element in man’s nature, from the amount of resistance which they have defied. Eusebius says, “The swords became dull and shattered” under Diocletian. “The executioners became weary and had to relieve each other.” This would not look as though Christianity would take the throne in four score years, but it did in spite of all those cruel murders. Through Constantine it became the state religion of the Roman Empire. Paganism crumbled down and Christianity triumphed over all the opposition of the old world. The books of the Old and New Testaments have all been thoroughly tested, over and over in the fiery furnace of criticism, but Christianity still lives to bless the hearts of widows and orphans; to bless the disappointed and disconsolate. To-day there are more Christians in the world than ever before.
What has unbelief to give to the people of our age more than it offered centuries ago? Nothing! Nothing!! Nothing!!!
“There is nothing new under the sun.”
This book is admired and respected above all others for its antiquity, its usefulness, its conflicts, and character. It has been expressly denominated “The book of books.” Its professions are such that no reasonable man can consistently lay it aside without giving it a careful examination. The nature of every question determines its claims upon our intelligence. If it professes to involve only a small interest its claims are not so pressing.
The questions of the Bible hold in their principles the present and eternal interests of our humanity, and therefore challenge the attention of the world. Thousands of the wisest and best men of the ages have been intensely interested in its contents. Its great influence and reputation are evidences of its trustworthiness, and of the consistency and intelligence of those who give it their attention; for sensible men do not disregard questions of great importance. This book contains a record of many ugly, dark and wicked deeds, known in the lives of wicked men and nations, with imperfections and apostacies of individuals in high places. This is what we must look for in a book of its pretensions. It professes to contain a revelation of God and his will to man. The ugly, wicked, licentious, and bloody things constitute the background of the picture, representing man in all his ways. It is also shaded with all there was, and is, of moral and noble character in the human. God with his attributes, as the true, grand and glorious Bible picture, shines out through this human background. The justice of God, with his love, long suffering and tender mercies, his approbation and disapprobation, must in the very nature of things be revealed in connection with human character as it presents itself in iniquity and crime, in piety and virtue, both individual and national, in order that the revelation may be complete, full and perfect. The history of men and nations must also be true, sufficiently full to call out, in the divine dealings, all there is in the divine character; otherwise, the revelation would be partial and imperfect.
No physician ever revealed his skill without his patients. No court has ever revealed its justice without its cases. The doctor’s dealings with his patients measure the extent of his known skill. Allowing that he understands himself and the conditions of his patients perfectly, and does his whole duty, the revelation of his skill must be perfect, to the full extent of its connection with the diseases treated. So it is with the revealed justice of the court. This rule is a necessary law, governing all revelations of character, both human and divine; otherwise we are left in the dark with reference to the true character of the one who makes the revelation. Our common sense is such that we are always led astray by improper action, unless our superior wisdom enables us to know that the action is improper. Improper action upon the part of a doctor reveals imperfect skill; on the part of the court it reveals imperfect justice, if it is not an entire want of skill and justice.
No such imperfection belongs to our God; therefore the revelation which he made needs only to be understood and it will never mislead us. These great principles of common sense are to be applied in the revelations of God to the nations as the God of nations. Such being the case, we have a very interesting field of thought before us in the bloody scenes that are known in the history of nations, as it is given in the Bible. Where is the morality and righteousness of the wars of which we read? Where is the justice and goodness of God in the bloody wars of Israel? Where is the righteousness of capital punishment? A great many persons say, in their ignorance, there is no righteousness in those things. Friend, travel slowly over this ground. “Take the shoes off thy feet, for it is holy ground.” Go into the Bible and look! God is there. You knew it not. Principles never change. Circumstances change and necessitate changes of law, but that which was right at any time in the history of our race is right at all times, under the same circumstances. Is there such a thing as morality carried into public relations? Is there such a thing as jurisprudence? Yes; jurisprudence is morality carried into public relations in the following law: “That course of conduct which pertains to the greatest good of the greatest number is right.” This law is of universal application. It belongs to men in all their relations, both public and private, collectively and individually. In the relation of the State to its citizens it taxes them for the support of government, it fines, imprisons and puts them to death for crime. In the relation of nation to nation it imposes tariffs and declares war, filling history with scenes of blood and woe. The common sense of mankind approves this law, and the Bible declares it just. Wars were approved of God, when they were for the greatest good of the greater number. It was upon the same principle that all the divine judgments were administered, from the destruction of the Antediluvians down to the overthrow of Jerusalem by Titus.
This law is the substratum in moral righteousness, underlying all that is right. Such is its wonderful latitude and longitude that, in order to carry it out, it sometimes becomes necessary to tilt a nation into a sea of blood and replace it with a better people. Unbelievers and skeptics who admit this are guilty of wresting Bible facts from their proper places and testing them upon the plane of morality, regardless of the laws of jurisprudence.
This erroneous method of reasoning leads the minds of many ignorant and unsuspecting persons away from the right ways of God. The guilty reasoner justifies taxation, fines, imprisonment and wars in the history of his own country.
It sometimes seems cruel to carry out this great moral principle of which we are treating; it is nevertheless right, and men who abuse its facts and turn things upside down are guilty of opposing the right.
Unbelievers are guilty of selecting from the Bible all that can be tortured out of its place in the laws of jurisprudence and made to look ugly out of its proper relations, and are continually holding such things up before the people, turning them into ridicule, and at the same time they have been through all the bloody scenes of war and justify themselves, wishing to be known in many instances as Major, General or Colonel. We have some such in our own country. They seem to have never learned that many things which are good for humanity are very ugly out of their proper relations. I am glad that God has revealed himself in the jurisprudence of nations, for the facts given inspire confidence in rulers and officials, strength to judges upon the bench, and nerve to warriors who are acting with direct reference to the “greatest good of the greatest number.”
A history of God in his dealings with states and nations in order to a perfect revelation of himself necessitates a history of states and nations so far as it is necessary to make known the approbation and disapprobation of God in connection with all that may ever enter into national or state character. Without this we would find states and nations where God did not see fit to show himself. We must find him wherever we find man, approving or disapproving. This is just what we do in the Bible. We do it in no other book. But let us ever remember that all that is wicked had its origin with wicked men and demons, and that the Divine Being, with all his attributes, appears in the foreground in all his relations to men and their conduct, as the grand Bible picture shining out through all the darkness and gloom, surrounded with the virtues and noble deeds of all his worshipers, and that he is building up and throwing down as his righteous judgment approves or disapproves. This revelation of God is like the sun at noonday bursting through dark and heavy clouds and blessing the earth with its rays. In making this revelation, which is related negatively or affirmatively to all there is in human history, God saw fit to communicate his will through man, and in his own language, except in the gift of the great charter of the national existence of the children of Israel and the great foundation truth of the church of God. These he uttered with his own wonderful voice.
Was it reasonable to expect a revelation from God? Is it necessary to the greatest good of the greatest number? If so, it is a thought at once involving the moral character of God and necessitating a revelation of himself. In answering these questions intelligently we must look after the demands for such a communication. Where shall we find them? Answer, in the wants of our humanity. Here two kinds of light are needed for two pair of eyes in order that we may be happy in two respects. First, physical light for the physical eyes, in order to the enjoyment of physical life in a material world. Second, the light of knowledge for the eyes of the understanding, in order to the enjoyment of spiritual life in a spiritual world. It is universally conceded that there are means provided in nature to meet man’s physical wants and adaptations that manifest the wisdom that belongs to God; also, that it would have been the work of a demon to create man with these wants, like so many empty vessels, without any provision to satisfy or fill them. Without those supplies our suffering would be great and our wretchedness unendurable. Is there no liability to mental suffering? Are there no spiritual wants consequent upon the nature of mind?