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In view of these great substantial ideas, and also in view of the undoubted excellences which have ever characterized the followers of Fox, we can readily excuse any peculiarities in dress, or manners, or modes of speech; even opposition to many harmless pleasures, and disregard of many elegant arts. Such outward peculiarities will probably pass away, for they do not constitute the genius, and the life of the system which they defend. These were not uppermost in the minds of Fox or Penn. What they thought of was nobler, higher, and more enduring, even the religious and moral welfare of a wicked world. Nor were their labors and principles in vain. Their ideas, in some respects, have been modified by the progress of society, but all that is truly great in them will live forever ; while their errors, and who on earth can claim exemption from mistakes and follies, we believe will vanish gradually before the light, not of human reason, but of that everlasting Gospel which is to be the salvation of nations, and of that divine Spirit whose teachings they so earnestly invoked.
REASON IN SEARCH OF A RELIGION.
Reason in Religion. By FREDERICK HENRY HEDGE. Bos
ton : Walker, Fuller & Company. 1865.
The sceptical spirit is fast passing from the destructive to the constructive stage. This is a human necessity. It is impossible to rest in negations, to live comfortably among ruins. To pull things in pieces is the easiest of all arts, and the least rewarding. Voltairism has had its day. It never satisfied the finer type of the unbelieving mind. That is nearer akin to tears than to sneers and scoffs. Miss Hennell, who ranks among the ablest and most earnest of British atheistic writers, says with pathetic truthfulness : " It is useless for reason to convince itself to weariness that Christianity is a fable; and to go on showing plainly to our eyes how it grew out of its earthly root; while the heart keeps protesting that it contained a response to her need whose absence leaves her cold and void. It would be much better for reason to cease its claim to be solely attended to, till her wants have been supplied.” This confession, wrung out of an honest hour, is shared more or less audibly by many unsettled speculators in moral and religious science. It will not do to let go all the old holdiny places until some others are provided. We have come, through a century of demolition, into the age of reconstruction in free inquiry. Comte, Spencer and Stuart Mill have undertaken this n universal philosophy, with suggestive oftener that sufficing results. The world yet waits to see if the Michael Angelo of the new St. Peter's has appeared. The book before us is a fruit of the same intention, in Christian dogmatics. It is not Parkerism in temper and purpose, however it may agree therewith in parts of its system. It professes to build up, and not to lay waste.
Vigorous thinking, and a vivid, energetic style have been generally conceded to this volume. Yet it is only a fair criticism to say, that the thought is often less strong than nimble ; that the style is sometimes strained and ambitious beyond the best requirements of rhetorical taste. Thus the line is a yonder-minded being, an embodied hereafter” - begins one of these prelections. Dr. Hedge's mind is poetical rather than logical. Hence, though his book is intended to be a popular body of well-reasoned divinity, it turns out to be a fragmentary and inconsequential series of theological tracts. We have subjected it to a careful analysis, not, however, to review it at length, for that would demand a treatise on natural and revealed religion. Instead of this, we shall condense the thoughts which run through these chapters into as concise an expression as is consistent with intelligibility, adding here and there a comment upon the argument, where it does not manifestly carry its own refutation. This will necessarily preclude the notice of the varied embellishments so gracefully thrown around these dissertations. Once for all we will say, that the ornamentation of this structure is quite as lavish as its frame work of ideas will bear. It is not severely chaste enough, in method, for an accurate, scientific study. Our objection is not that the preacher stands out so conspicuously on these pages : most books of this kind,
reach the press.
from clerical pens, are published from the pulpit before they
But if the pulpit be the legitimate throne of eloquent speech, it should not fail in clear, simple, self-consistent statement and reasoning.
The author divides his work into two sections : Theistic Religion, and Rational Christianity. His introduction consists of two discourses. The first affirms, that the knowledge of religious truth comes not through the understanding, but through the moral faculties as a subject of faith. "To the mere understanding, the world is as intelligible and as satisfactory without a God as with one.” p. 13. The province of this faculty is only to examine the facts which lie around it, and to demonstrate their conditions. It can never get beyond the limits of a * positive philosophy.” A distinction is here assumed between the understanding or speculative reason, and the practical reason or moral sense. pp. 14, 15. The second discourse asserts, that the popular faith is Manichean, based on Augustine's false rendering of the natural man," in the Pauline epistles. Dr. Hedge would translate it," the animal man. The animal man can not be a Christian ; that is, man can not be this while living as a mere animal — an axiomatic statement
one would think, the apostle might have despatched in much fewer words than he has given to its vindication. Our author's improved version does not fit the logical connection of the apostle's reasoning. There is no room, moreover, to dissect between the animal ” and the "natural ” man in this way. Neither a true exegesis or anthropology allows it. Calvin's explanation can not be set aside; that the duytzoo ay pwros " is not merely the man of gross passions, but whoever is taught only by his own faculties.” These are only varieties of the same class, differenced by degrees of the animal or natural life, in distinction from the spiritual. Dr. Hedge's distinction here made is therefore without a difference of radical qualities. But it governs his entire inquiry. He goes on to say, that the * natural man” has in him the germ of godliness. The carnal part of the natural man is conceded to be at variance with God; but this is only a partial state. The processes of divine grace in human nature are all strictly natural. Every thing in
God's government of matter and mind is natural in opposition to unnatural, which we have never heard questioned.
But Calvinism, says our author, demands to "denaturalize" man, to make him "inhuman before he can become religious.
The doctrine taught by Augustine, and revived by Calvin, is that human nature, as such, is adverse to religion
is incapable of holiness : nature must be supplanted by grace . . . . and after that change has taken place, the righteousness that follows is no product of human nature, but grace excluding human nature, and acting in its stead.” p. 28.
This is a misconception. We no where affirm that human nature, that is, the human soul, is constitutionally incapable of holiness, but always and directly the reverse. This we maintain, that by its actual unholiness it is incapable of cleansing itself into purity. Human nature is not "supplanted,” but is regenerated, by grace. Its righteousness is personally its own; but it is inwrought and perpetuated through the grace of God. Dr. Hedge interprets into a physical disorganization and reorganization, what we defend as a spiritual, and not " unnatural” but supernatural restoration of human nature to holiness.
Coming to the discussion of "Religion within the bounds of Theism,” our author is positive that science does not find God; rather, it loses him as it advances. Science can not discover the being of God, and necessarily ignores his providence. Its business is " to find natural, known, appreciable causes for every fact and event: .. where religion says 'creation', science says, development. p. 40. But faith demands both God and his government. Science refuses mystery : religion needs it. This is evidently designed sharply to distinguish the methods rather than the essential spirit of scientific explorations, for farther on, the author is eloquent in setting forth this very unsympathetic, "geometrizing” agent as an evangelist whose mission it is to show us the Father,' and regenerate the world
. the prophet whom nature vouches, the fellow-laborer who also cometh in the name of the Lord.”
God, thus missed by science but demanded by faith, must be self-revealing. It lies in the very nature of Deity to disclose himself. How? In the human soul, by the quickening of the mental faculties into a state of exaltation. This is inspiration,
revelation, " the divine Spirit coöperating with and reënforcing the action of the mind.” p. 58. The marks of this inspiration are that its utterances be practical, sensuous, popular, in distinction from abstract and philosophical ; that it also carry the authority of personal character in the revealer of truth. The miraculous element is possible, but is not necessary, or primarily authoritative. Further on, the writer repeats that there is no real objection, whether philosophical or scientific, to a miracle ; only it is contrary to the nature of the human mind to be convinced of religious truth by such kind of evidence.
Here Dr. Hedge has managed, as often elsewhere, to satisfy nobody. Least of all does he meet the Gospel declaration (John ïïi. 2) that men should know God's presence with his Son through the miracles which he wrought before them. If the author were a believer in the authority of the Bible, even 80 far as the contents of the four Gospels, we would ask him to explain this, among many similar statements in those records, of a simple matter of fact : " Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him." John xi. 45. The kind of testimony to a divine commission here given at the grave of Lazarus, would seem to have been adapted to the wants of those intelligent Jews ; and if to them, then why not to others ?
* The Regent God,” according to this system, governs the universe, it is somewhat difficult to ascertain precisely in what
The self-governing theory of fixed laws is stoutly repelled. The catholic doctrine of Providence is essentially misconceived, as if God sometimes were busy with our affairs, but not always. The plan of this author labors to unite a personal God and ruler with an idealistic pantheism; and escapes an outright pantheism only, if at all, by poetic license.
God is accessible as the object of prayer. He hears our prayers for specific things. Man always has direct, unpropitiated access to his Maker. Neither here or elsewhere do we find any place for Christ's mediation, or recognition of its need.
** The Old Enigma” is the question of moral evil. Its solution is the necessary imperfection of the finite. This, however, is to confound the natural limitations of created souls with their moral defects ; as if the latter were as unavoidable as the