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bells, for simple exercise. Men cannot be inebriated or violent when they are squaring the circle, or even demonstrating the pons asinorum. Any intellectual pursuit is better than beastliness. And so far philosophy has its uses. It keeps men quiet, makes them think, and requires them to be intelligent. This is no mean praise. How it "spoils” men is another question, which we must consider as we proceed.
We are not taking up a railing accusation against philosophy, or depreciating human reason. Human reason is the highest faculty which men possess. It is the only instrument we can use in investigating truth, judging of evidence, and even accepting revelation. The apostle explains his own method of winning men to the truth
watu nemence, and even accepomeno by saying we“ persuade” men. And the service we have to render to God is a “reasonable" service. Everywhere the Divine order is to honour the reasoning faculty with which he has endowed us, and everywhere he requires its exercise that we may apprehend and hold fast the truth. But reason is only one faculty in man among others, and the whole man must work healthily with all his powers, that he may be a living sacrifice in the service of God. One of the old fathers said, “Credo quia absurdum est” _“I believe because it is absurd.” But such a faith is required of none of us. We are required to believe what it is reasonable to believe ; but we are not required to know, in the sense of perfectly understanding and being able to explain, everything in which we believe. The faculty of reason is permitted, nay, required, to stretch itself, we will not say to the utmost, for it is never healthy and safe to stretch any faculty to the utmost, but to such extent as is consistent with its ordinary power, in apprehending the deep things of God. At that point it has to stop. It can go no farther. The deepest philosophy that was ever taught has had to stop at a point beyond which there was a shoreless ocean of mystery, which no plummet of human contrivance has ever sounded ; and it must come to this, at some point more or less fine or palpable, according to the constitution of men's minds and their circumstances, that faith must supplement what reason needs, but fails to realize by its own unassisted power. And thus it comes to pass in every Christian, be he less or more refined and educated, be he of a practical or philosophical turn of thought, that by faith he stands, and without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God, possess we never so much philosophy. The model of a Christian is a child, even a little child; and except we be converted and become as Little children, we cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Whatever there is in a child, there is not much philosophy. Wonder there is without end, and mystery, and a fathomless gaze upon that outlying existence which has to come by-and-by. In those clear deep eyes it owns there is a world of feeling, of trust, and yet of inquisitiveness,
which it is beautiful and, in some sense, sad to see. Pity that the young soul should ever know anything more than it does. What a heaven it would be to the beautiful creature if it could be a child for ever! But this cannot be. There will come a philosophy by-and-by to spoil it, if it is not mindful; and, at all events, the fascinating dream of that morning time of life must give place to the weary heat of its noon and the sombre shadows of its evening.
But it may be said that on this principle a man and a Christian can swallow all Popery and all the pretended thaumaturgy on which some of its dogmas rest. Well, and what if he can ? Are we on that account to call in the aid of a distracting philosophy to cure the evil, and thus lose all faith? That would be to run to the other extreme. There is such a thing as common sense in the world—that faculty of reason and well-balanced feeling—that “knowing of ourselves what is right”—which stays the mind in any such predicament as this. We admit we cannot very accurately define this “common sense "-how much of reason, how much of right feeling, and how much of both together, go to form the quality. But there it is among us, and acting from day to day, correcting mistakes, sweeping away superstitions, solidifying visionary theories, calling men back from foolish extremes, keeping them sober, and in many other ways taking care of the excited, almost crazy people all around. That “common sense” is what we all want, and with it we shall never be spoiled by philosophy.
We must, however, be more specific in the indictment against philosophy as a “spoiler” of the Christian.
View the philosophic stand-point, as it is now, and specially as it was in Paul's days. It commences with the assumption that nothing has been done, or gained, or ascertained in the past. That nothing is due to opinion, to experience, or to human testimony, on the deep problems it proposes to itself. Its work is ever beginning and never done. Every new inquirer plunges for himself into the deep sea of speculation, and works out his notions as his taste or opportunities may allow. In a review of a volume consisting of theological essays, in one of our daily papers, this day, April 7th, 1871, the writer says, it “cannot fitly be examined in a newspaper like ours; we must be content to leave it for thoughtful study among the increasing number of readers sincerely desirous to obtain secure religious convictions, or to understand the rational and philosophical arguments for their Christian faith.” Exactly so. They are not satisfied yet. All that has been preached and written on the “Christian faith” amounts to nothing. There is a flaw in the evidence somewhere. It must be sought out and the defect repaired; and weight is given to their character and pursuits by a reference to their “increasing numbers," *s if it were matter of congratulation, not merely that there are some, but an “increasing number” of readers, desirous to obtain secure religious convictions, and to understand the rational and philosophical arguments for their Christian faith.
But in the meantime what are we to do?—we especially who are .conscious of increasing years, and that with us at least the inquiries must be closed soon or never—what are we to do? We cannot wait. The young may, for a few years, trudge on in the mist and darkness which it is assumed surround us, but even they have not much time to spare. “The day is at hand” even as to them. We must close the ledger soon and somehow, for we cannot keep the account open much longer. We must sweep these doubts away and obtain " secure” footing on some rock in the wide ocean of thought and inquiry, or we shall miss our chance for ever. If we are wrong, and do not understand the rational and philosophical arguments for our Christian faith, why do not the philosophers, in sheer pity for our misfortunes, put us right ?-appoint a comunittee, draw up unquestionable propositions, if they are to be had, and let us know the worst or the best as the case may be? What we cannot bear is perpetual doubt. It does not suit our moral or our intellectual health to be “ever learning” and never coming to the knowledge of the truth. The pedagogue has done his office on most of us; he has taught us some knowledge, and whipped some error out of us. We have drunk the milk of babes, and have become men. The strong meat of truth has had some relish for us, and we fancied we might eat thereof and live. But here comes the philosopher with his everlasting doubts and logomachies, and we have to begin it all again, de novo, upside down and inside out, as the case may be; and the elysium we fancied we had arrived at, after infinite labour and struggle, is the philosophical stand-point-I DOUBT !
Now, can a Christian be more thoroughly “spoiled” than to be brought into a state of mind like this ? Nothing known surely, nothing believed thoroughly; no convictions, and consequently no hopes. No faith, and therefore no zeal. Nothing decided, and therefore no earnestness. Fitted only, by the attenuating and debilitating philosophies, to become a coward and a time-server; zealous for nothing, uncertain about everything, and as thoroughly disintegrated mentally and spiritually as the body would be if we were shot at the cannon's mouth! “Beware,” brother, lest any one so spoil you by philosophy!
“But,” it may be asked, “ how can I help it? The mystery is here and everywhere around me. Men of apparent candour and sincerity doubt. Their doubtfulness has the patronage of great names. I live in an age of doubt, when the eager throng are surging to and fro, all asking what is truth ?” Just so, and it is here that your personal responsibility begins. We suspect that this is the trouble with most
men. They will not take the responsibility of deciding. The conscience is more at ease—though it is but a fool's paradise-in doubting than in deciding. Guidance is very comfortable, if only the guides would see us safely through the labyrinth, which they will not and cannot, and which we ought not to allow them to do if they would or could. We have to satisfy our own individual minds, and we are bound to do it. It is an attribute of our manhood, it is a privilege of our existence, and an element in our mental and moral constitution, to solve the question for ourselves. Demonstration, in the sense of the mathematical, there is none. Faith is—in one sense, and that a very important and far-reaching sense—to whom faith is given. That is, it grows, like all spiritual graces, on a congenial and not on an uncongenial soil. With the heart man believeth, and the heart force means the will force in this question. The evidence in this case is addressed to the moral sense, and not merely or only to the understanding. The tone of the affections must ever have a vital office in determining our religious convictions, and assisting us to hold them fast. Men must not look for more of evidence than the case admits of. There is enough proved in reference to Christianity to satisfy the reasonable conscience, and not enough to force the unwilling. Here the controversy must ever remain. God has fixed it so, and all the forces of the universe cannot alter the facts of the case. Some can see only Beelzebub, where others distinctly see the finger of God. The same eyes are given to us all, but the same "eye-salve” is not applied by all, and hence we see with a large diversity. Be it so; it is best it should be so, because it is best that each should be responsible for himself and answer for his faith, as for his general conduct, to God the Judge. There is a Christian instinct, and there is a sceptical instinct. That religion feeds the one, and doubtful disputations feed the other, admits of no question. Take your choice between the two, and between the processes which feed the two. You are responsible; and there the matter ends; but do not be guilty of the hypocrisy and folly of amalgamating the two and harmonizing them with each other, which is the folly and hypocrisy of this time—the folly, if not the hypocrisy, for we will not use hard words, of some high pulpits, books, pamphlets, speeches, and preachers of this time, which are lowering Christianity, diluting it, and taking the soul out of it, that it may fraternize with scepticism, and conform itself to a "spoiling" philosophy.
Again, let us consider how the Christian may be “spoiled” by the philosophical spirit.
It is the spirit of Gallio, who cared for none of these things. We all know what “taking it philosophically" means; it means an unmoved temper, an unruffled spirit, a stoical disposition amidst the sins and sorrows, the turbulence, passion, and suffering of the world around us. The philosopher is serene whatever happens. His disposition and pursuits demand quietness. He reads and meditates, and soars into an ideal world, while social earthquakes are yawning at his feet. He seems in this to have the advantage over the Christian, whose sensibilities are quick and powerful, and who makes himself a party in all the moral and religious activities around him. Great philosophers have seldom been great actors. Luther was no philosopher ; Erasmus was, and mark the difference of the two men. The former plunged into the troubled sea of theological controversy and violent action, even to the bearding of the Pope in his den, burning his bulls, and facing his awful legates in their power. The latter, though he rendered an indirect and unintentional service to the Reformation, scoffed at the disputants in their turns, and kept himself quiet and safe in his cynicism. Our own Wellington was no philosopher, but a man of strong common sense, and with a wonderfully practical and organizing mind. Wesley was no philosopher, and Whitfield less so than Wesley—they were both men of action, and did something in their time. Our Bible and missionary societies were not founded by philosophers, but by humble men, with more faith, zeal, and sympathy in them than philosophy. The activities of these and similar institutions are not kept alive by philosophers, but by God-fearing men and women, most of whom do not know what philosophy means. Our city and town missionaries, who dive into the lowest haunts of vice and poverty, are not philosophers. Our Sunday-school teachers and managers, who, after the toil and weariness of their week-day work, deny themselves of even the rest of the Sabbath to instruct and guide the young, are not philosophers. Our hard-working ministers, who visit from house to house, and strive to feed the flock of Christ committed to their charge, cannot afford to become philosophers. Our hard-worked brethren all over the land, who toil for daily bread for themselves and families, cannot touch the sublimities of philosophy. The Bible is their only comfort; the Gospel, so much questioned by philosophers, is their only light. Give to any of these a philosophical spirit and you surely "spoil” them for their work, their situation in life, and their preparation for heaven. Philosophy needs six hundred a year and nothing to do, and then we can, if our conscience is satisfied, dream its dream to our heart's content. But even then, how useless we should be for all practical Christian work! How chilled our hearts would become to all the imploring cries which reach our ears from the deep vortex of this world's sins and sorrows! The common mind we could never touch, the common sorrow we could not assuage, and the common salvation we could never teach. Fortunately, to many of us this philosophical spirit can never come. We are too busy, too much concerned with the hard realities of life to be spoiled by it. Our