THE RELATION OF CHRISTIANITY TO THE WORLD'S PROGBESS IN SCIENCE, CIVILIZATION, AND THE ARTS IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY.
It has been remarked that " a system which would unite in one sublime synthesis all the past forms of human belief, which accepts with triumphant alacrity each new development of science, having no stereotyped standard to defend, and which represents the human mind as pursuing on the highest subjects a path of continual progress toward the fullest and most transcendent knowledge of the Deity, can never fail to exercise a powerful intellectual attraction."*
There is no doubt that the human mind desires such a system of religion; that it is endeavoring, in this age, in an eminent degree, to find it; that it will not be satisfied without such a system. In other words, it is undoubtedly true that a system of professedly revealed truth will not be received permanently by mankind unless it accords with this desire of the mind; unless it welcomes every new discovery in science, and each new invention in the arts; and unless it attaches itself to every thing that goes into the real civilization and progress of the world. To find, or to found such a system, is the present effort of Rationalism, and it is a fair question whether Christianity so meets and satisfies this demand of the human mind that it will continue to keep its place as the world makes advances.
* History of Rationalism in Europe, by W. E. H. Lecky, vol. i., p. 182.
The closing Lecture in this course will be designed, in some measure, to answer this question—a question which the world has a right to ask, and which we are bound to answer—a question on the solution of which the reception of what is otherwise adduced as evidence of the divine origin of the Christian religion will in a very material degree depend. The argument in the Lecture will be founded on the idea that a system originated long since—eighteen hundred years ago—which will meet the condition of all future ages; which began ahead of the world, and which keeps itself abreast or ahead of the world, must be from God. It is capable of easy demonstration that there is no such system unless it be Christianity.
It was assumed, of necessity, by Christianity, that it had truths to disclose of great importance to mankind, which the race, at the time when it was revealed, had been unable to discover.* Man had, indeed, made great progress in science, in civilization, and in art. The best talent in the world had been employed in investigating the works of nature, and in inquiring into the relations of man to the Creator and to another state of being. When Paul stood on Mars' Hill, he was, in respect to all that contributes to human comfort, and that marks the progress of the race, almost in a different world from what one would have been in the rude age of Tubal Cain, Jabal, and Jubal. A period of four thousand years had elapsed since the creation, and all that man had accumulated on the subjects of religion, philosophy, and the arts had culminated in Greece, and was represented by the objects around him, and by the men that stood before him. The experiment, continued for so long a time, and under such circumstances, whether man could * 1 Cor., i., 2.
find out the knowledge of God and a way of salvation, might be regarded as having been fairly made. If it had been submitted to man himself to designate a sufficient time to make the experiment, he himself would admit that four thousand years must be regarded as ample for the trial; if it were submitted to him to select the circumstances under which the trial could best be made, he could hardly imagine, as I have endeavored to show in a former Lecture, that the trial could have been better made than in Greece. Yet, after that experiment had been thus made, the Gospel claimed to have truths indispensable to mankind far in advance of all that man had been able to discover, and which it was assumed could not be discovered by the unaided human powers. The fact that it had such truths, and that it answered questions which had been propounded by Greek philosophers, but for which no answer had been found, will not be disputed even by those who endeavor to explain the Gospel on some other supposition than that it is a revelation from heaven. It is claimed to be a fact by all who believe that Christianity is a revelation from God; it is shown to be a fact by the progress which the race has made under that new system as compared with its progress under the influence of the Grecian philosophy.
Eighteen hundred years have passed away, and during that period the race, in science, civilization, and the arts, has made advances far more rapid than in any eighteen centuries before, or than in all those four thousand years. The world is, in most important respects, a different world from what it was in the day's of Pericles and Plato. The telescope has extended its boundaries indefinitely in one direction, and the microscope in the other. Science is a different thing now from what it was then; civilization is different; art is different. Our houses are different; our domestic arrangements are different; our facilities for passing from place to place, by land or sea, are different; our knowledge of distant lands and oceans is different; our means of recording, transmitting, and perpetuating truth are different; our knowledge of the substances which compose our globe is different; our knowledge of the world's history before man appeared on it is different; our means of cultivating the fields, and of conducting the operations of commerce, are different. Except in architecture and sculpture, there is nothing in respect to which the world is not now immeasurably in advance of what' it was in the best days of Greece. A Greek of the age of Pericles would be lost now in the arrangements of civilization around him, not less than one of the age of Tubal Cain would have been if suddenly translated to Athens. We use no Greek plows in our fields; no Greek chariots in our wars or on our journeys; no Greek implements in preparing our food, in writing our books, in transmitting intelligence from place to place; no Greek weapons of war; no Greek ships in battle. We make no use in our schools of their treatises on natural history, astronomy, medicine, scarcely in mental philosophy; nor do we copy their style of domestic architecture, or refer to them for instruction in the mechanic arts. We are in a different world from what the ancient Greek was, and it might be interesting to speculate how long it would take Pericles or Plato to learn to act, and move, and speak, and live in our age.
It is a fair question whether, admitting that Christianity was in advance of the world at the time when it was communicated to men, it still holds the same relative position ? Is it still ahead of the world ? Is it abreast of it ? Or has it fallen in the rear ? Has it been superseded by the discoveries which men have made in science; by the progress of civilization; by the advances in the arts ? Has the world reached a point where it can " get along" without the Gospel ? Have the powers of the human mind been so developed during these eighteen hundred years that man can now suc-i cessfully grapple with questions which were too difficult I for even the cultivated mind of Greece; and have the/ secrets of nature been so explored that the knowledge! which she has to impart to man, and which eluded the^ inquiries in the academy, the porch, or the lyceum, can now be found in the laboratory or the observatory?/ Or, to put the question in a form more favorable to Christianity, and in a form in which its friends would demand that it should be put: Has Christianity itself been an important element in the progress which the race has made, and are the institutions of the present time—the forms of civilization, the advances in the arts and the comforts of life, to be traced so far to Christianity that it may claim that it has been among the direct causes in effecting these changes ? If it be assumed or conceded that this is so, then, also, it may be fairly asked whether it has not done its work, and may not now be dispensed with in the farther progress of the race, and whether it is not now to take its place with the systems adapted to a ruder age, which passed away when the results had become incorporated in permanent institutions, or when they had been superseded by better systems.
These are questions which would be suggested by certain forms of skepticism different from those of ancient times, but which are likely to become the forms of unbelief in the coming age. They are not questions which would have occurred in the times of Celsus, Porphyry, or Julian; they are not the questions which Hobbes, and Chubb, and Shaftesbury, and Bolingbroke would have asked, but they are questions which lie at the foundation of the whole system of Rationalism at the present day.
There is another question, also, as suggested by these remarks, which may be asked from a Christian point of view. Assuming, as the defender of Christianity must, that Christianity was ahead of the world at the time when the revelation was made, and that in its doctrines it still holds the same relative position, it is a fair question whether, in respect to its means of perpetuity and propagation, it still maintains the same relative position, or whether the apostles had advantages in this respect which the Church has not now, or which could not be employed with success in the present condition of the world. All history has united in the record of a very rapid diffusion of the Gospel in the times of the apostles; it has described the means which were employed, and which were then successful; it has delivered such an unmistakable testimony on the subject that it required all the powers of Mr. Gibbon to furnish a philosophical explanation of the fact of its propagation on the supposition that the Gospel is an imposture. But is it true that the Church in this age, in view of the present stage of the world in civilization, in science, and the arts, can engage in propagating the system under circnmstances as favorable to success as were those which existed in the times of the apostles ?
These, indeed, are not the same questions, but they are in the same line, and are alike suggested by the relation of Christianity to the present age. It may be difficult to furnish an answer to both in the same argument, but perhaps the considerations suggested in relation to the one will involve all that is demanded in the other.
I propose, in the conclusion of these Lectures, to consider the question with reference to an argument for the truth of Christianity, and as a continuation of the course of thought in the last Lecture on the adaptedness of Christianity to the wants of man.
The points necessary to be considered, in order to a proper elucidation of the subject, are, the fact that Christianity, from the nature of the case, is a fixed and unchangeable system, or that it makes no progress from age to age; the fact that, while Christianity is thus fixed and stationary, the world does make progress in science, civilization, and the arts; the fact that, in the circumstances of the case, they unavoidably come into collision with each other; the inquiry on what subjects they are likely to come into collision now as comr pared with former ages; the present relation of the one to the other; and the inquiry how far an argument may be derived from this view in favor of the divine origin of the Chi-istian system. i
I. The first point is that Christianity, from the nature of the case, is a fixed and unchanging system. It makes no progress in the disclosure of doctrines to be believed ; it was perfect as a system of redemption when the Redeemer died, rose, and ascended to heaven; it was complete as a system to be explained and understood when the volume of revealed truth was finished on the island of Patmos. No new facts were to be added to the record; no new doctrines were to be revealed ; no changes were to be made to adjust it to a future condition of the world; nor were the doctrines to be modified to adapt them to new views in science or philosophy. The system for all time to come is to be found in the New Testament; and the system, when the last record was made there, was precisely what it will be in the last and most cultivated periods of the world. The work was ended when that volume was completed, for man then had all that he ever would have as constituting the record of Christianity. No new books were to be added; no new prophets or apostles were to be sent; no additional work was to be done to supplement the atonement. Whatever consequences may follow from this position, the defender of Christianity is bound to maintain it, and, in the utmost strictness of the expression, the enemy of Christianity may hold him to it.
It is not necessary to argue this point, for it springs out of the very nature of the system. It is, moreover, fairly implied in the New Testament itself. I believe that the Book of Revelation was the last book of the New Testament that was written, and that it occupies its appropriate place as the closing book in the revelation of God to mankind; and that, although the solemn passage with which that book closes undoubtedly had immediate reference to the book itself, yet that it is not improper to regard it as applicable to the entire Bible: "I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life" (Rev., xxii., 18, 19).
If this is a true position, the defender of the Christian system can not, as is done in other systems, avail himself of the progress which the world makes to relieve himself of difficulty, and to adjust the system to new discoveries and inventions. A system of astronomy, of chemistry, of anatomy, or of geography, may be adjusted from age to age. Erroneous views long entertained in regard to the circulation of the blood, or the movements of'the heavenly bodies, or the elementary substances of nature, may be detached from the system, and the new views made to occupy their place, though it may require that long-cherished and honored systems shall be abandoned, and names long regarded with reverence shall cease to be among those which influence mankind. Such has been, in fact, the progress of the sciences; nor is there any one science that can now be regarded as so fixed that it may not be modified or revolutionized by new discoveries. If a fact is discovered that is at variance entirely with a prevailing theory of astronomy, anatomy, or chemistry, it is not fatal to the science itself. The system may be at once adjusted to the new fact, and the change constitute an epoch in the advance of the science. Not so, however, in regard to the Bible and to the Christian system. If the world in its progress discloses facts that are irreconcilable with the Bible on just principles of interpretation, it is fatal to its claim as a revelation from God. We can not go back, as in the case of astronomy, and adjust the historical or doctrinal statement in the Bible to the new discoveries.
It follows from these views (a) that the proper work of man in regard to Christianity is to ascertain, by a fair interpretation of language, what the system is, not what it should be. The work of the Christian theologian is to sit down to the New Testament simply as an interpreter of language, as the learner in science sits down to the study of the works of nature, to learn what nature is, not to determine what it should be y to explain a world, not to make a world. The principle suggested by Lord Bacon in the first maxim of the Novum Organon* is as applicable to Christianity as it is to nature, and lies as certainly at the foundation of all just views of theology as it does of all just views of science. By the proper study of language, according to the received laws of exegesis among men, the theologian is to ascertain what the system is, and, having done that, his work is ended. (b) It follows, farther, that the friend of revelation is not at liberty to modify the system; to accommodate it to prevailing theories in philosophy ; or to adjust it to new facts as they shall develop themselves in the progress of human affairs. No power can change the system but the power which originated it; and the authority to modify it so as to adjust it to human belief, or to facts as they are developed in science, has not been intrusted to mortals. Truth is unaccommodating and unbending. It will not yield. It can not be made different at one time from what it is at another. The proposition that in a right angled triangle the square of the hypothenuse is equal to the sum of the squares on the two sides, is a truth not peculiar to one age or nation; nor to be expressed in one language only; nor to die away among obsolete maxims in the advancing periods of the world; nor to be modified or changed though truths of surpassing magnitude on other subjects are disclosed to human view; nor to be treated as a falsehood though there may be theories to be established that may seem vital to science or to the
* Homo, natune minister et interpres, tantum facit et intelligit, quantum de natures ordine, re vel mente observaverit; nec amplius Ecit, aut potest.
good of mankind. So the Christian theologian is bound to believe in regard to revealed truth; so the unbelieving world may require, in regard to each and every portion of the revealed truth of God, that he shall hold it* precisely as it is in the Bible.
There are, however, one or two remarks which may be made, to show that this rule is not quite as rigid, in its actual application, as it may seem to be. In another part of this Lecture I shall show that, in fact, the rule is as rigid and stern in regard to science as it is in respect to theology.
It is not to be assumed, then, by the Christian or the infidel, that we have in fact, in our creeds and in our interpretation of the Bible, precisely the system which was revealed. That we have the true record in the Bible we are to believe, and the infidel may hold us to that; but that we have the proper interpretation of that record is not to be assumed as certain. Christianity has been transmitted to us from a far-distant age. It has come in contact with all the philosophical systems in the world. Its outward form has been much moulded by philosophy—much by its alliance with the state. The synods and councils which have determined the creeds of the Church have been, like other assemblies, composed of imperfect men—often of men more under the influence of philosophy than religion; often ignorant of the plainest rules of exegesis; and often seeking rather to establish a hierarchy than to promote the kingdom of Christ. As a matter of f&ct, we know that during that long period there is almost no absurdity of doctrine or interpretation which has not been embraced by the Church; almost no error which has not been sanctioned by synods and councils; almost no truth the belief of which has not exposed him who held it to persecution by the Church itself. Christianity has thus come down to us through a descent of eighteen centuries, collecting in its progress whatever of good or bad there might be that could in any way be made to adhere, to it; adopting as its own the opinions in mental philosophy, and the doctrines of science, true or false, which have prevailed in the world; and uniting all in its symbols of faith—-taking the Church at large, a vast and monstrous conglomeration of original sacred truth, and of the errors and absurdities which the world has accumulated in the lapse of ages. It is a ship, not now just sailing out of port, fresh, and new, and clean, but one that has sailed afar, and that has collected in distant seas whatever of barnacles and sea-weed that could be made to adhere to it. Those barnacles and that sea-weed must be detached from it if the ship is to be made to traverse safely distant seas again.
A great part of the work of the Church in modem times has been to detach from it the errors and corruptions which it had accumulated in the long period of its history. This was, in fact, the main service which Luther- rendered to the Church, restoring it in a great measure to its pristine beauty, purity, and vigor. This is the service which has been rendered by modern sacred criticism; this is the work to be done by the efforts to secure a correct text of the Bible; this the work to be done by the application of the canons of criticism to the Word of God.
Luther, indeed, performed a great work; for Christianity in the Protestant form is a different thing from what it was as it had been presented to the world for a thousand years. But we are not to assume that the work was wholly done by him, or that in the Westminster, the Helvetic, and the Savoy Confessions, in the Thirty-nine Articles, or in the Heidelberg Catechism, we have Christianity precisely as its Author designed to communicate it to mankind. We are not to assume that all the received views in the Church are true views, and are in no manner to be modified. We are not to assume that the texts of Scripture which the Westminster Assembly affixed to the Larger and Shorter Catechisms are all properly applied, and are to be held as proof-texts now in order to " soundness in the faith," or that the doctrines which they are designed to defend are, in fact, doctrines of the Scripture at all. We are not to assume that the views held in the Church, even to our own times, in regard.to the past records of our earth, or the interpretations which, in defense of those views, the Church has attached to certain statements in the Bible, are therefore correct. It is not to be held that the past interpretations of the first chapter of Genesis are necessarily true; nor are we to assume that the pastor of the Church in Leyden was in error when he said that " God had yet many more truths to break forth out of his holy word."
All this is matter of fair inquiry still; and when a new fact is discovered in science that seems to come in conflict with a statement in the Bible, or when an old record in Egypt is deciphered, or a new bone is exhumed in fossil remains, that seems to carry the history of man back to a remoter period than that assigned by Usher, we are at perfect liberty to inquire whether the common interpretation of the Bible, though received for ages, is the correct interpretation; whether, as in the case of astronomy in the time of Galileo, the Church has not been mistaken in its views on the subject; and whether the Bible, by the fair rules of exegesis, may not be capable of being reconciled with the new discovery in science, or with the new historical fact that has been disclosed to the world. This "play" therefore, if I may thus express myself,* is open to the friends of Christianity, while the statement is still held true in its most rigid form that,' in itself, it is a fixed and unchangeable system, incapable of progress or change.
II. While Christianity is thus fixed and unchangeable, the world makes progress in science, civilization, and the arts. It is bound by no such rigid laws as those which pertain to an unchangeable system; it holds no theory in philosophy, and no creed in regard to the sciences, which may not be modified and adjusted to the highest advances which the race can make. As a matter of fact, the world makes progress. It drops erroneous systems by the way. It readily incorporates new facts into the systems of science. The old Ptolemaic system, not without a struggle, indeed, gives way to the Copemican system in astronomy, and in the new system there is no difficulty, without changing its character, in assigning its place to each new planet that may be discovered; to any number of comets, shooting stars, and asteroids; to new systems of worlds lying beyond our own planetary system; or to any number of nebulae floating in the distant ether that may be now resolving themselves into worlds. There is nothing, therefore, like a fixed and unchangeable system that seems to bind the race in its career of discovery. In science man seems to be free; in religion he seems to be a fettered slave.
While this statement, however, is made in regard to science, civilization, and the arts, it is important to understand precisely in what sense it is true, in order that
* " The play of a wheel or piston."—Webster.
we may appreciate the manner in which one comes in collision with the other.
Science, then, in itself, in the highest sense of that term, is as really fixed and unchangeable as Christianity. The business of science is not to create, it is to discover. The maxim of Lord Bacon, alrea'dy referred to, represents man as merely the " minister and interpreter of nature." The student of nature does not create the truths in his department any more than the theologian does in his; nor is he any more at liberty to change or modify the facts in his department than the student of the Bible is in his. Moreover, each and all the sciences, using that word in the largest sense, save the science of history, were in themselves as perfect and unchangeable at the beginning of the creation as they are now, and the struggles, the changes, the errors, the advances, the stoppages, the modifications recorded in Whewell's History of the Inductive Sciences are quite parallel with the history of theological science—with the toils of plodding theologians; with the deliberations of synods and councils; with the breaking out of new light here and there, overthrowing old systems and creeds; with the struggles, the changes, the errors, the advances, the stoppages, the modifications in developing the system of Christian theology as it now exists in its best forms. A treatise on any one of the sciences, if correctly prepared at the beginning of the world, would be a correct treatise now, just as a creed that would have fairly represented Christianity when the volume of inspiration was finished would be a correct creed now. There are no new truths; no new facts; no new principles that have been introduced in the one case any more than in the other. A correct treatise on astronomy, for example, written when "the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy," or when the Chaldsean sages looked out on the heavens, and mapped the world above us with strange figures and forms, would be a correct treatise now. The worlds are the same; the laws of their movements are the same; their magnitudes, distances, periods, and revolutions are the same. Kepler did not create the great laws, the discovery of which has given immortality to his name; Galileo did not bring into existence the satellites of Jupiter; nor did Newton originate the principle of uersal gravitation. So far as known, no new worlds have been added to the system; so far as known, no worlds have been certainly destroyed—it is absolutely certain that no modifications have occurred in the laws by which the system is governed.—A treatise on anatomy in the time of Galen, if correct then, would be perfect now. There have been no changes in the structure of man that would demand a revision or a modification of the system. Not one new bone has been added to the human frame; not one new muscle, nerve, or tendon has been laid down; not one new channel has been grooved out for the flowing of the blood. Had Galen given to the world a true theory in his time of the circulation of the blood, it would have been as correct now as is the theory of Harvey. —A treatise on chemistry when, under the Caliphate at Bagdad, the followers of Mohammed were on the point of such great discoveries, would be a correct treatise now. No new substances have been added to the sixty or more of which the uerse is composed, nor have there been any new laws in respect to the proportions in which they combine, and the chemical changes which occur in the air, the earth, and the water.—The treatises of Solomon, when " he spake of trees from the cedar-tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall, and of beasts, and of fowls, and of creeping things, and of fishes" (l Kings, iv., 33), if they were correct treatises then, and stated the true laws in his time in the vegetable and animal kingdoms, would be correct representations in natural history now, and, if they had been preserved, would have rendered needless the toils of Linnaeus, Buffon, Cuvier, and Agassiz.—The electric fluid, when it glittered and played on the mast of the ancient mariner, was the same that it is now, when, arrested and guided, it makes its way over hills and plains, and along the bed of the ocean, conveying thought from land to land, and lighting up the world with intelligence.—In like manner, a system of metallurgy when Tubal Cain became the " instructor of every artificer in brass and iron" (Gen., iv., 22), or of music in the time of Jubal, "the father of all such as handle the harp and the organ" (Gen., iv., 21), or of agriculture in the days of Jabal," the father of such as dwell in tents, and have cattle" (Gen., iv., 20), would be a correct system in each department now. The instructions of the schools have added nothing to the principles on which the metals are spread over the earth, nor have they increased or diminished the quantity. Mozart and Handel have added nothing to the laws of the octave, nor has Liebig introduced one new substance as entering into scientific agriculture, or modified one on which success depends.
Yet, in the ordinary sense of .the word science, the world does make progress, and in reference to science as known, and to theories which are regarded as just expositions of nature, the world is immeasurably in advance of what it was when the Gospel was revealed to mankind. All the old treatises on science have passed away. They are valuable now only as marking the progress of the race, and as enabling us to compare the present with the past. No one feels bound to defend these ancient expositions of nature as the Christian feels bound to defend the ancient records of his faith in the Bible; no one is charged with heresy in science if he discards the teachings of the ancients altogether. The friend of science is free. He is bound by no ancient exposition of nature; nor does he hesitate, on the discovery of a new fact in nature — in astronomy, in anatomy, or in chemistry—to lay aside at once all that in the received systems is inconsistent with that fact, and to set himself at work to adjust the system to that new revelation. He does not create the fact, and, therefore, he does not create the science; he modifies the system as received so as to be in accordance with that fact, and allows it to exert its full influence in forming the opinions of mankind in all time to come. He discovers, he does not make. Columbus discovered America, he did not create it, and the fact of its existence was the same before he discovered it as afterward, and would have been the same if he had not lived. Adams and Le Verrier indicated the place of an unknown planet in the heavens, they did not create it. Its existence was the same before they made it known as afterward, and would have been the same if they had not suggested the fact of its existence to mankind. From the beginning of the creation, that distant star had walked its rounds on perhaps the outer limit of our solar system, unobserved by men before, but, when disclosed, men forthwith set themselves to adjust the astronomical system to the fact that there was such a star, and that its movements should be allowed to explain and modify existing views.
Thus science advances. Not that it changes. Not that it has any new facts. Not that new matter is created, or that new properties are given to the particles that compose it, but that the original great laws and facts of science, in themselves as fixed and unchangeable as were the truths of the Christian system when the New Testament was completed, are arranged, explained, and properly located in the respective systems of science, displacing the errors of the past, and advancing to that state where " man, the minister and interpreter of nature," shall have brought the systems of science, as far as the human powers will permit, into harmony with the system as it reposed eternally in the mind of the Creator.
III. Such being the facts in regard to the two systems, it was inevitable that they should come into collision, and that they should be liable, at any time, to cross each other. The nature of that collision must depend much on the false views which are at any time attached to the Christian system—as the sailing of the ship, before referred to, would be much affected by the barnacles and sea-weed attached to it—and by the views of philosophy and science that prevail at any time in the world. The work of adjusting the two, therefore, must vary from age to age, as the nature of the conflict between the two must vary in different periods of the world. The battle, under a new form, may be to be refought in each successive generation. The triumph of Christianity at any one time is by no means a permanent triumph, or even, in itself, a proof of permanent triumph at all; and the apparent triumph, at any time, of infidelity is by no means a demonstration of permanent and ultimate victory. Celsus, Porphyry, and Julian act their part, and disappear; Hobbes, Chubb, and Morgan follow, and then vanish from the stage; Volney, Gibbon, Hume, attack the system, and retire from the conflict; Strauss and Renan, Hegel and Comte, follow after. A host of scientific warriors rushes on the arena for an attack on the religion that is fixed and unchangeable, deriving their means of attack from a system that is as fixed and unchangeable as Christianity itself, and the warfare assumes new forms, and is to be fought with new weapons. Whether these two systems, equally fixed and unchangeable, are really in conflict^or will be found ultimately to coincide and harmonize, is the question which is now before this age, and which is, perhaps, to be before the world in the developments of future ages. It is too early to determine with absolute certainty that the two will ultimately agree. The Christian theologian believes assuredly that it will be so; the scientific skeptic is not less confident that the prospect of ultimate harmony, if it ever •existed, has now vanished forever.
For my purpose in these Lectures, it is important to designate, in few words, the varying nature of this conflict ; for it has not always been the same, nor is it likely to be always the same that it is now.
Historically, the conflict may be divided into three periods: from the time when the Gospel was first preached to the age when it became permanently established in the world; the Middle Ages — the times when, amidst much darkness in science, and much error in religion, the human mind was struggling into light; and the present age.
In the first of these periods, the nature of the conflict was marked and definite, and the conflict, in that forfn, is never to be renewed. The systems with which the Gospel came into conflict have passed away, and are not to be revived.
That conflict was between Christianity and Judaism on the one hand, and Christianity and the Greek and Roman philosophy on the other.
In Judaea, Christianity came into collision with relig| ion alone. The Jews had no literature besides their v sacred books; they had no science, no philosophy. Beyond what is in their sacred records they have contributed nothing of value to the progress of mankind, in war or in peace; and the collision, therefore, in Judaea was wholly on the subject of religion. The views which were then regarded as antagonistic t» Christianity have ceased to influence the world beyond the small number that constitutes the remnant of the Hebrew people, and the conflicts which Christian apostles waged with the Jewish doctors have ceased forever.
In Greece and Rome the conflict was of a different nature. It was partly with religion; partly with priestly power; partly with the state; partly with philoso* phy. It is only in the latter aspect that the subject demands notice now—the conflict with philosophy. It was, in fact, a conflict with "philosophy" not with science. The Greeks had little science, the Romans less. It is not too much to say that in respect to the physical sciences, the most eminent of the Greek philosophers would not have been qualified for admission into the lowest class of any American college ;* nor have they contributed any thing that now enters into the instructions in our laboratories or schools. The conflict, therefore, in Greece, and the same was true in Rome, was with an acute and subtle metaphysical philosophy. It was not on questions started in the laboratory or the observatory, but in the Academy and the Porch. In Judaea it was substantially about the atonement; in * Compare Whewells History of the Inductive Sciences, vol. i., b. i.
Greece it was the whole question about the elevation of the race. The Greek philosopher knew of but one way of reforming mankind, of meeting human ills, of elevating the race, of obtaining the favor of the gods. It was by mental culture; by development; by instruction ; by conformity to a just standard of morals. Christianity proclaimed that in this way man could neither be elevated, nor obtain the divine favor, nor be prepared for a future world, but that the entire hope of the race for reformation, elevation, and salvation was in the doctrine of Christ crucified. That was foolishness to the Greek. It was not on the line of his views in regard to the means of elevating men, and he spurned and rejected the system.
Those old controversies have passed away. All that ' there was in the philosophy of Greece that opposed Christianity has ceased to influence mankind, and that philosophy will not be revived. Celsus and Porphyry have done their work, and they did it well; and except as they are exhumed to illustrate the history of the Church, or are explored by some theological teacher who regards all wisdom as found among the " fathers," the whole has gone into the " extinct controversies" of the past.
The second of these periods embraced the Middle Ages; the times when, amidst much darkness in science, and much error in religion, the human mind was struggling into light. The history of this is a history of nearly all the persecutions under the Papacy. The peculiarity of this period, so far as there was a collision between Christianity and science, civilization, and the arts, was, that the Church adopted certain interpretations of the Scriptures as infallible; that it regarded the Bible as making statements on the structure of the uerse, as well as on the plan of salvation, which were equally to be received as a part of the creed of Christendom, and which were to be defended in the same manner as any other articles of the creed of the Church; that it claimed jurisdiction over all the subjects of knowledge, as it did over the wealth and power of newly-discovered countries; and that to doubt the authority of the Church on subjects of science was a heresy of the same nature as to doubt the doctrine of the Trinity or the Incarnation. Each successive discovery in science, therefore, brought the Church into contact with the world, and led to persecution. The collision was not with Christianity as such, but with Christianity as it was embodied in the prevailing interpretation of the Scriptures, and in the articles of a church claiming to be infallible. Thus, in the case of Galileo, his " offense in holding the doctrines of the Copernican system was not against the Bible, for the Bible, properly interpreted, has revealed nothing on the subject, but was against the interpretation put on the Bible by the Church. The Church had adopted the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, and to call the truth of that system in question was, in the judgment of the Church, an attack on the Bible itself. Thus, through this long and gloomy tract of ages, science struggled in dark and obscure places, restrained and intimidated by the fear of a collision with the the Church, as freedom struggled every where at the same time, restrained and awed by the fear of the papal power. The one was held in check as really as the other. Here and there, a solitary individual, like Roger Bacon, pursued his studies alone. Each new discovery involved the danger of a conflict with the Church; each advance made was imperiled by the apprehension of impinging on some article of faith.
Nature was explored with the apprehension of a revelation there that would be in conflict with the infallible revelation as interpreted by the Church, and each new discovery was made by stealth, and with the fear of the rack or the stake before the eyes. Science emerged into light and freedom only when those shackles were burst asunder, and men acted on the idea that science was to be pursued in an independent manner, and that the observation of the stars, and the examination of the component elements of matter, were not to be restrained by any interpretations which had been affixed to the Bible. The world was slow to learn this. In fact, the lesson is not yet wholly learned. The investigations of modern astronomy, as in the time of Galileo, have been pursued in the face of an extensively prevailing belief that these disclosures are against the teachings of revelation ; and all the investigations of geology have been made, on the one hand, by a hope that the results would be found to be in conflict with the Bible, and, on the other, by a fear that it would be so. Geology and astronomy have achieved their triumphs only by setting aside interpretations of the Bible which have been received in the Church for ages; and the inquiries which are now pursued in regard to the work of creation, the antiquity of man upon the earth, the origin of the races of men, are pursued on the one hand with the hope, and on the other with the fear, that the result will be found to be in conflict with the teachings of the Bible. It has been, and is, a slow work for man to learn that his interpretation of the Bible is not necessarily the teaching of the Bible; that to detach a false interpretation from the Word of God is not necessarily an assault on the Bible itself, and is not to be regarded as heresy.
We have fallen, in the third period, on other times.
A new era is opened upon the world, and Christianity . and the world now come into collision in a form wholly different from the collision in the times of the apostles and in the Middle Ages. The defender of Christianity has a different work to do from what he had in the time of Porphyry and Celsus; in the time of Morgan and Chubb; in the time of Volney, Gibbon, and Hume. To the Church at large; to the Christian ministry; and to those especially whom I am called to address in these Lectures—those preparing for the ministry—nothing can be of greater importance than to understand the nature of the conflict which is to be before the Church in the next age.
A few remarks here seem to be necessary to place this part of the subject in a proper light:
(1.) It is, as before intimated, always a fair question, when there is an apparent collision between the Bible and science, whether the collision is, in fact, between the scientific truth and the Bible, or between that truth and the prevailing and received interpretation of the Bible. The one is by no means to be assumed as synonymous with the other. To the utmost extent which the proper laws of interpreting language will allow, the friend of Christianity is to be permitted to apply those laws to determine whether the received interpretation of the Bible is the necessary and the fair one. The Bible is not, indeed, to be made a " nose of wax," but it is equally true that the infidel is not to be permitted to assume that the interpretation which he puts on the Bible is the true one, or that any interpretation found in the creeds, or in treatises of theology, is necessarily the correct one. The whole question about the integrity of the text; about the agreement of manuscripts; about the changes in the use of words; about the meaning of language as modified in any particular country, among any particular people, or at any particular time, is a fair and open question—a question of simple interpretation, as it is in inquiring into the meaning of Homer or Herodotus. To the utmost extent to which the fair canons of criticism are applicable to any ancient book, the friend of the Bible may avail himself of those canons to. detach a false interpretation from the Word of God—to remove another barnacle from the ship that has, in long voyages, vexed many seas. Even* if, which is almost demonstrably impossible, the followers of Lepsius, Gliddon, Nott, and Bunsen, could establish the fact that man has been upon the earth for a period of twenty thousand years, it would still be an open question whether the Bible, by fair interpretation, teaches the contrary, and whether the common interpretation of the Church, though received for ages, may not have been founded on erroneous data in determining what the Bible teaches on the subject, or whether it teaches any thing. There is, indeed, a limit to this; but it is a limit to be determined in the case of the Bible, as in the case of any other ancient book, by a proper application of the rules of exegesis.
(2.) The warfare in our time between Christianity and the world in respect to science, civilization, and the arts, has changed. The old modes of attacking the Bible have been abandoned, and the old modes of defending it are therefore to be abandoned. On all matters pertaining to the progress of our race there are many " extinct controversies"—old volcanoes that have been burned out—leaving nothing but scoriae and ashes, and on no subject is this more true than on the subject of theology. Around those extinct volcanoes men wander now safe, but with nothing to relieve the desolation. Time was when all was commotion there. The mountain heaved; the flames belched forth; the sky was lurid; rivers of burning lava flowed in every direction. All was consumed. Nor city, nor hamlet, nor tree, nor shrub, nor flower, nor spire of grass was spared; and perhaps no living thing will ever grow again on the fatal spot. So with many of the old controversies in philosophy; in science; in religion. What could more resemble the scoriae of such an ancient volcano than the huge tomes of the schoolmen? What could more resemble such a volcano in action than the heat, and fire, and zeal of Thomas Aquinas, and John Duns Scotus ? What shrub, tree, flower, or living thing can be culled from those blackened remains ?
It is a material point thus gained when one is girding on the armor to fight the battles of his own age, to know exactly where he starts, and what is precisely the nature of the warfare in which he is to engage. It is much to know what is settled, and what is open still. That soldier now would spend his time to very little purpose who should furbish some piece of ancient armor; who should see that his helmet, and his shield, and his greaves, and his spear were in good condition; or who should, as in other days, incase his horse in armor, and move into battle reflecting around him the rays of the sun. Those ancient suits of armor for horses and men do well in old baronial halls, for they have an appropriate place there as memorials of other days and other men, as old volumes on extinct controversies have an appropriate place in the alcoves of vast libraries— memorials of the past.
Therb have been battles in regard to Christianity in its collision with the world which have been well fought, anVwhich are not to be renewed in our time,
Or ever onward. Porphyry, in his day, had his field; Celsus his; Julian his. In neither case was it science or sacred criticism. It was the ancient philosophy as then held, coming into contact with a new religion— with Christianity. Those men did their work well. They did all that acute philosophers, sustained, in the oase of Julian, by the might of imperial power, could do to prevent the spread of the new system. That battle is not to be fought over again. The philosophy which they held, like the men themselves, has long since passed away, to be revived on earth no more. So, in his time, Volney had his field, and he did his work well. Seated amidst the " ruins" of ages, and surveying the empires and systems that have passed away, he inferred that in the course of events there must be a succession of " ruins" to the end of time, and that the existing empires and systems of philosophy and religion—Christianity among the number—would be added to the ruins of the past, and be numbeised among extinct systems. No one could do his work better than he has done, and that attempt will not be made again. Thomas Paine, in his time, had his field, and he did his work well. With talents, indeed, eminently fitted to be useful when vindicating the "Rights of Men;" with a power of noble language almost without a parallel for popular appeal,* but, also, with a still more unequaled
* Chief Justice Marshall says of him (Life of Washington, vol. ii., p. 399) in .relation to the causes which led to the Declaration of Independence, " Many essays appeared in the papers calculated to extend these opinions; and a pamphlet under the signature of Common Sense, written by Thomas Paine, an Englishman, who had lately come over to America, had particular influence. He possessed a style and manner of saying bold things, singularly well fitted to act on the public mind, to enlist every feeling with him; and very often, especially in times when men were greatly agitated, to seize on the judgment itself."
acquaintance with the Billingsgate of the English tongue, and in this surpassed by none, he undertook to drive the Bible from the world by ribaldry and abuse. That battle has been fought. Whoever attempts hereafter to attack Christianity in that manner, will find that the work has been already better done than he can do it himself, and that the great point has been settled forever that religion is not to be driven from the world by scom, ribaldry, and vulgarity. In his day, too, Voltaire had his field—satire, learning, poetry, philosophy. He did his work well. Who is to surpass him ? Who is to equal him? Who shall hope to succeed in destroying Christianity by such weapons when the great Frenchman has failed ? What can remain in that line but to reproduce his criticisms, to republish his philosophy, to repeat his sarcasms ? Mr. Hume had his field, and he has done his work well. By most subtle sophistry ; by great calmness; by a spirit of apparent candor; by perplexing and involving a subject so as, even to this day, to exercise the ingenuity of the world to show where he was wrong, when the great body of men feel that he was wrong, he attempted to show—to prove —that a miracle could not be demonstrated to have been wrought. Where Thomas Brown and Dugald Stewart have exhausted their powers to detect the sophistry, leaving it doubtful whether it has been detected, and where many a theologian has attempted to show that it was sophistry, and yet has left the impresRion of Mr. Hume's argument more deeply imbedded in the mind than it was before, it can not be supposed that that argument will be presented in a more embarrassing form, or that, as a metaphysical argument against miracles, it is to gain any new strength in coming ages. Mr. Gibbon had his field, and well he has worked it. His province was history, and his investigations led him, as a skeptic, as he probably intended they should, over the entire period when Christianity, from the feeblest beginning, made its way over the Roman world, and " sat down on the throne of the Caesars ;" when, during the long and eventful ages of the decline of the empire, Christianity was seen moulding society, directing wars, founding empires, modifying opinions, changing the arts of life, introducing revolutions into manners, dress, dwellings, schools; when it controlled the government and influenced the people; when it founded monasteries and colleges; when it poured its embattled legions on the Holy Land, and when it had identified itself with all the forms of civilization in Europe. It was Mr. Gibbon's task to show, contrary to 'the opinion of the Christian world, and the general judgment of mankind, that all this could be, and yet the religion not be of God. He did his work well. He did not leave it to be alleged, even by the friends of Christianity, that his aim was to falsify history for the sake of skepticism. As a historian he was among the most true, and honest, and faithful of men. There is not the slightest evidence that his skepticism, bitter as it was, ever led him, in a single instance, to pervert or falsify a fact, however much it might be opposed to his own views on the subject of religion, or however much ingenuity it might require to escape, as a skeptic, from the legitimate inferences from the fact. By unwearied study; by great learning; by an unrivaled command of language; by patient toil; by a comprehensive grasp of his great subject, he has placed himself at the head of historians, and from the time of Thucydides down to the present age there has not been a man more upright, stem, honest, unbending, in recording the facts of history. Yet, faithful as to his facts, he traversed the entire field with a sneer on his countenance, and with a purpose to make the facts as they existed do all that they could be made to do to destroy the confidence of mankind in the divine origin of the Christian religion. No one hereafter, if he attempts to do that work at all, will do it so well, and in that method of destroying faith in the Christian religion no more remains to be accomplished.
IV. These controversies have passed away, and these methods of attempting to destroy Christianity are fast ceasing to exert an influence on mankind. The collision now between Christianity and the world is substantially a new form of collision; the attack is from a new quarter, and with new weapons; the questions involved are deeper than those with which the Church has heretofore grappled; the results of the conflict, §p far as we can see, are to be final.
The points on which Christianity is now coming into collision with the world in its present stage of progress in science, civilization, and the arts, are principally the following:
First. The inspiration of the Bible — the question whether a " book-revelation" is possible, and whether, if possible, the Bible is such a revelation, and is infallible.
Second. The antiquity of the human race—the question whether, according to the commonly received teaching of the Scriptures, man has been upon the earth about six thousand years, or whether his history stretches back for a period of ten or twenty thousand years, or to even a remoter period.
Third. The origin of the race—whether the different types of men upon the earth have had a common origin, and have been derived from a single pair, or whether, as is maintained in regard to the inferior animals, men have sprung up in different centres, either as developed from inferior orders of beings, or from independent created "heads" of the different varieties upon the earth—the Caucasian, the Mongolian, the Ethiopian, and the American; in other words, whether the varieties in the human family can be reconciled with the undoubted doctrine of the -Bible that the whole human family is descended from a single pair.
Fourth. The whole question of miracles—whether miracles are possible; whether a record of a miracle could be believed; or whether the laws of nature are so fixed and unchanging that there never has been, and never can be, sufficient evidence of the direct interposition of the divine power to justify the belief that any events have occurred in the history of our globe that are not traceable to those laws, or that those laws have ever been set aside.
Whether, in this course of Lectures, any remarks have been made to throw light on these points, or to assist those who are to be defenders of the truth in their studies, it is not for me to express any opinion. The consideration of these points has, either directly or indirectly, entered largely into these Lectures, and these points have, in fact, been constantly before my own mind in preparing them. It can not be assumed now that they are definitely and forever settled on either side, so that the discussions on them can be ranked among the "extinct controversies." They are to be among the active subjects of controversy and inquiry in the next age, and, in order that their importance and their bearing on the whole subject of Christianity may be perceived—a bearing well understood by the ene•
mies of Christianity, a few additional remarks may not be improper. m
For the first of them—the inspiration of the Bible. It is clear that the whole question about a revelation at all, and about Christianity in particular, depends on this. Nothing can be plainer than that the Bible claims to be a supernatural revelation from God; that its teachings are above human teachings; that the real author of the book is the Holy Ghost speaking through inspired men; and that its teachings constitute an infallible guide for man. Deny this; deny that it is inspired in any other sense than Homer, or Ossian, or Shakspeare were inspired, and it is clear that the book at once loses its authority, and the system which it contains is placed on the same level as the system in the Koran, the Zendavesta, or the Shasters.
For the second of these—the antiquity of man upon the earth—it is plain, also, that the question may assume such a form as to involve the whole question of revealed religion. It may, indeed, be a fair question whether the Scripture record extends back precisely to the period of six thousand years, or whether, if it were demonstrated that man had been upon the earth ten or even twenty thousand years, the proper interpretation of the Bible would be found to be consistent with such a fact; but, beyond all question, there is a limit, probably much within the twenty thousand years of man's residence upon the earth, according to the Bible. The Bible is a history—a history of man. It professes to go up to the beginning—the period of his first appearance upon the earth. It traces the origin of nations records the dispersions of the race; accounts for the origin of languages. In that history of living beings— of man—there can be no such long periods of suecessive repose, of slow development, of destruction, of new creations, and of sweeping off entire races from the earth, as occur in the mere geological history of the world, when an interval, unexplained, of a thousand, or a million of years, is scarcely to be taken into the account. In other words, by no possible propriety, by no fair rules of interpretation, can the liberty be allowed in regard to the history of man which is conceded on all hands to the student of geology in reference to the transformations on and within the earth before man appeared on it. The earth itself, so far as the account in the Bible goes, may have existed any number of millions of ages; man, according to the Bible, is a recent visitant to this world, and the time is not remote in the past when he was formed by his Creator to occupy a world made ready for his abode.
For the third of these points—the question whether the human race is derived from a single pair—it is manifest that the whole question of the truth of revelation and of redemption turns on this. The Bible records the creation of a single pair, and no other. It records the migrations and wanderings of the descendants of that one pair to all parts of the world, and of no others (Gen., x.). It treats the race as one. It regards that one pair as the head of the entire race, and affirms that the disobedience of that one pair affected all the dwellers on the earth as one race—not the Caucasian race only, or the Mongolian, the African, or the American, but the entire race. " In Adam all die" (1 Cor., xv., 22). " By one man sin entered into the world, and death by Bin" (Rom., v., 12). " By one man's disobedience many —ol iroXKoi—t/ie many—were made sinners" (Rom., v., 19). These expressions comprehend the race; and the entire doctrine of depravity and of death, according to the Bible, is identified with, the fact that there was a single pair at the head of the race. The same is the Scripture doctrine in regard to redemption. The race, according to that plan, is one—one in origin; one in apostasy; one in guilt; one in death. The work of redemption is not Mongolian, or Caucasian, or Ethiopian, but it pertains to man as man. In redemption, as in the fall, there is one Head—the counterpart of the . other, each acting for the race. " As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor., xv., 22). " Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead" (1 Cor., xv., 21). " As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous" (Rom., v., 19). In reference to this point, also, it is certain that it is indispensable to proper faith in the Bible. By no fair rules of exegesis; by no possible torture of language, can the teachings of the Bible be made consistent with the belief that the different " races" of men upon the earth have each had a separate origin. " God hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth" (Acts, xvii., 26). This fact is not only affirmed, but every where implied, and well do the men who are assailing it understand its bearing on the question of the reception or rejection of the Bible in the world.
As to the fourth point—the question whether miracles are possible, this also is vital to all faith in the Bible. Mr. Hume understood this, and attempted, by a most ingenious metaphysical argument, to put the question about miracles, and faith in the Bible, to rest forever. It comes before the Church and the world now in a different form; not less difficult to be met; more likely to affect scientific men; more likely to be popular. The doctrine that miracles are impossible as held now is founded on the alleged stability of the laws of nature. At first, in science, nothing seems more fluctuating or unsettled than those laws. The varying seasons ; the clouds; the storms of ocean; the march of disease ; the wantonness of the lightning's flash; the play of the aurora borealis; the irregularity of the term of human life; the movements of comets and meteors, all these seemed to be independent of any fixed laws, and these movements were explained in the early periods of the world, as Comte (Positive Philosophy) has stated, by the supposition of supernatural agencies. Silently and gradually, however, these irregularities have been reduced to order and law, and man has approached, what Comte regards as the last stage, the Ultima Thule of science, the Positive philosophy:—the point where no supernatural agency is to be recognized; where no events are to be traced to an " unknown metaphysical cause;" but where all that is known—all that exists— is an antecedent and a sequent, with no real causation, and, as far as known, no God.* That, apart from such speculations as those of the Positive philosophy, there is a tendency in our age to this result, there can be no doubt. Thus far in the progress of science, the tendency has been, undoubtedly, to find fixed and unchanging laws prevailing,-and the object of science is to ascertain and apply those laws. The studies of the astronomer proceed on this supposition; the investigations in the laboratory; the arts of navigation and agriculture; even the doctrines of tides, and winds, and storms, proceed on the supposition of the existence of unvarying
* See the elaborate and very able article on "The Positive Philosophy of Anguste Comte,"by J. S. Mill, Esq., in the Westminster Review for April, 1865.
laws. By all, therefore, that there is in such a tendency to uersality; by all that is done to reduce that which in former ages seemed to be irregular to the control of fixed laws; by all the affirmations which scientific men make that the laws of nature are fixed and unchanging, there is an approximation, consciously or unconsciously, to the conclusion that miracles have never occurred; that all the well-established/acfe which have taken place in the history of our world are reducible to the operation of fixed laws; and that all the alleged facts that can not thus be reduced are to be classed among myths and fables.
And yet it is clear that no man can receive the Bible who does not believe in the exertion of miraculous power in our world. From the beginning of the book to the end, it proceeds on the supposition that God has often interfered in human affairs by his own direct power; that there have been cases innumerable where all there was in the case was an event, and the will of God behind it. The reader of the Bible walks in the midst of signs and wonders. He is in a supernatural world. He is in the constant presence of Deity—God, in his sovereignty creating the world itself; forming man upon it; conversing with man; giving law in calm conversation, and amidst thunders and tempests; rescuing his people from bondage by his own power; making a path for them through the sea; overwhelming their enemies; shaking the nations; sending conquerors and prophets supernaturally endowed, until the whole is consummated by the appearance of the God incarnate—giving sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf; healing all manner of disease, and raising up the dead —himself raised from the grave to life, and borne up to heaven. Who can believe in Jesus Christ who does not believe in miracles? Who can believe that the Bible has the slightest claim on the faith of mankind if it i5 maintained that the laws of nature are so fixed and unchanging that a miracle is impossible ?
V. It remains to inquire, in accordance with the main design of this Lecture, and in the conclusion of the whole subject, what is the relation of Christianity to the present stage of the world, in its progress in science, civilization, and the arts ?
In this part of the inquiry, it must be assumed, as was stated in the beginning of this Lecture, that when the G-ospel was announced to mankind it had truths of great importance to communicate in advance of what the world then possessed. Assuming this, the inquiry now before us presents itself in two forms: (1) whether the Gospel is, in this respect, still in advance of the world, or whether the world has so come up to it, or gone ahead of it, as to supersede it; and (2) whether, admitting that it is still in advance of the world in its disclosures, it has kept up with the race in its means of propagating itself, so as to be able, in this respect, to maintain its advanced position. These inquiries do not differ so materially that they can not be pursued together.
(1.) The first material point in this part of the subject is, that while the world has made great progress in other things, it has made none whatever on the subjects which constitute the peculiar teachings of Christianity. In reference to what the Gospel claims as its own, the world has struck out no light; has removed no difficulty; has answered none of the questions which, in past ages, have so perplexed mankind. The effort to find out a knowledge of God; to find a medium of access to him; to find a method by which the race may be elevated, and to find evidence of the immortality of the soul, seems to have exhausted itself in Greece. The Greek mind, as has been remarked before, was perHaps better fitted for these inquiries than any other that God has made; the Greek taste sought and found gratification in these inquiries; the Greek language afforded a better medium for pursuing those inquiries than any other language which has been spoken among men. If, of all the tribes of men, we were to select that to which we should most confidently intrust the question, How much man by nature can find out about God? we should unhesitatingly select the Greek mind as best fitted to solve the problem.
It is not undervaluing the science of astronomy, of anatomy, of chemistry, of natural philosophy, of geology, to say that, to this hour, they have made no disclosures on those points which so occupied the attention of the ancients, and on which Christianity assumed that it had truths in advance of all that the world had known. The astronomer points his glass to the heavens ; penetrates the deep blue ether; reveals worlds and systems far beyond the reach of the naked eye; discerns nebulae lying behind nebulae in the vast regions of unmeasured space, but does he see God ? Does he look upon his throne ? Does he tell us, however long or intently he may gaze, whether God is a merciful Being; whether there is a plan of redemption for the fallen and the lost; whether there is a way of peace for a troubled conscience; whether the soul is immortal; whether
" The dread of something after death— The undiscovered country from whose bourn No traveler returns,"
shall make us
"Rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of?"
Does he answer these- questions so that the mind of Plato — so that the mind of Hamlet would be calm? Forever may he look through that tube, and not a ray of light will visit his soul from those distant worlds about what man is so anxious to learn, and in respect to that on which he feels himself so much in the dark. Who goes to the astronomer to' learn how a sinner may be saved, and how he himself may be prepared to die ? In the laboratory of the chemist, brilliant as are his discoveries, who expects to learn any new truths about the way of redemption, and about the nature and employments of the soul in the future world ? The earth, too, is explored to its utmost limits and its utmost depths, but what has the traveler and the miner, after these wanderings and diggings, to tell about God ? Is wisdom found by the miner now any more than it was in the days of Job ?
" He [the miner] cutteth out rivers among the rocks, and his eye seeth every precious thing. He bindeth the floods from overflowing, and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light. But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth no,t the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living. The depth saith, It is not in me; and the sea saith, It is not with me. It can not be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. It can not be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. Whence, then, cometh wisdom ? and where is the place of understanding? seeing it is hid from the eyes of. all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air. Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears. God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoiceth the place thereof' (Job, xxviii., 10-23).
The geologist, too, the man who has learned the history of the earth for some millions of ages, what has he to disclose that shall supersede the teachings of Christianity? What answer has he found to the questions which so perplex the human mind about the remedy for a fallen condition, and a preparation for another world ?
It may seem to be a reflection on the present age, and it may require some hardihood to make the assertion, to say that, after all, if a man wished to put himself into a position where, without a revelation, he would find most that would calm his spirit, and solve his doubts, and elevate his conceptions of eternal things, he would go, not into the dissecting-room of the anatomist ; not into the observatory of the astronomer; not into the laboratory of the chemist; but would visit the ancient Academy, the Porch, and the Lyceum.
On this subject, then, we claim that the Gospel is as really in advance of the world as it was when it was first communicated to men; that the world has neither gone beyond it, nor come up to it, nor made its teachings less necessary than they were eighteen hundred years ago.
(2.) Assuming, then, that the apostles had truths to communicate to mankind in advance of what the world then possessed, and that in respect to those truths the Gospel is as really in advance of the world in its present stage of progress as it was then, it remains to inquire whether, in respect to the means which Christianity now has for propagating and perpetuating those truths, it has fallen behind the world, or maintains its advanced position still?
It is usual to represent the apostles as endowed with peculiar and exclusive powers in propagating the truths of Christianity. It is not uncommon for men to feel that the Church has lost much by the cessation of their peculiar endowments in making an aggressive movement on idolatry and sin. It is not unnatural to feel that if the Church could again be clothed with the power which it had in apostolic times, the conquest of the world to Christ would be easy and rapid, and it is conceivable that many a youthful soldier of the cross, panting for the conversion of the world, and resolving to devote himself to that great purpose in the work of the ministry, or in a missionary life, feels a sense of discouragement in the fact that he must go forth with few of the advantages which the apostles had in their work It is important to inquire whether this is so.
The relation of the apostles to the world may be regarded as positive and negative.
(a) Positive. They had three things. First. The power of speaking the languages of the world; or, at once, and without study, the power of making their message known to the people of all lands. This seems to have been an unlimited power. In the case of a missionary now, the best years of his life are consumed in efforts, often imperfect efforts, to place himself in the condition in which the apostles were when they commenced their work. Second. They had the power of working miracles. They healed the sick; they opened the eyes of the blind; they raised the dead. This, too, seems to have been an unlimited power. Third. They had the advantage of freshness and novelty in the message which they proclaimed to the world. Whatever might be said in other respects in regard to the system which they preached, it could not be denied that the
statement that there had been a proper incarnation of the Deity in the land of Judasa; that the Son of God in human form had trod those hills and vales; that he had moved with a healing power through the land; that in his presence the insane had become sane, the blind had been made to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, and the dead to leave their graves; that he had died on a cross as an atoning sacrifice for men; that he had risen to life again, and had reascended to God—that all these were statements that were fitted to arrest the attention of men. Such statements had never fallen on human ears before.
(b) Negative. We are to remember, in order to form a correct estimate of the relation of the apostles to the world in the effort to spread the Gospel, the following things: First. It was an experiment; a trial not yet certain except to faith. There had been no past experience in regard to Christianity; there was no history which could be referred to; there was no influence as yet on the world that could be an argument why men should receive it. It was a new system, whose adaptedness to the wants of men was yet to be tried. /Second. There was, as yet, no public sentiment in its favor which could be appealed to, or which could be assumed as a ground of appeal. On the contrary, the entire sentiment of the world was against it. Third. There was no press for the rapid diffusion of their doctrines beyond the power of the living voice. We can scarcely put ourselves, even in imagination, in this respect, in their circumstances. Accustomed as we are to the press; the printed page; the power of defending our sentiments through the press, and of arguing with men through the press, we can scarcely conceive what it would be if that power were withdrawn. Fourth. The apostles had no Christian literature. Beyond the books of the New Testament—and, in the beginning of their work, not even these were written, and, in the end of their work, not yet collected into a volume—there was nothing to explain, to illustrate, and to defend their doctrines; there was nothing to edify the Church; there was nothing to instruct and guide the young. Fifth. There were no schools, colleges, or seminaries of learning under Christian influence, and designed to train up a generation for Christ. All the schools that existed were Jewish or heathen; nor was there one where a Christian youth might be instructed in the ways of the true religion, or that contemplated the training of a generation for the service of God. Sixth. There was, as yet, no established organization of believers into churches, designed to bring a united influence to bear upon the world. All this was the slow work of time.
It is to be remembered, also, that, whatever were the advantages of the gift of tongues, and the power of working miracles, the immediate effect was not the conversion of sinners. In the life of the Savior himself, there is no evidence that a single sinner was converted by his miracles, nor in the labors of the apostles is there proof that one was converted by the miracles which they wrought, or by their power of speaking foreign languages. This was, indeed, a proof of the divine origin of their religion. The multitude that came together on the day of Pentecost " marveled," were "amazed," and were "confounded"—ovccxudq (Acts,ii., 6,7)," because that every man heard them speak in his own language;" but the three thousand were converted, as other men are, by the preaching of Christ crucified. Miracles converted no one. Thousands saw the miracles of the Savior who joined in the cry " Crucify him." Mere eloquence converted no one. "And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and with power" (1 Cor., xi., 4). "And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God."
The sole ground of reliance by the apostles for the conversion of men was the great truth that Christ was crucified for the sins of the world, accompanied by the power of the Holy Ghost.* In not a single instance do they trace the conversion of a sinner to miracles, to the power of speaking a foreign language, to eloquence. In each and every instance it is the power of truth as applied by the Holy Ghost.
That power—that ground of reliance—we have now as much and as really as the apostles had—as much and as really — no less; no more. The truth is unchanged; the power of the Holy Ghost is undiminished ; the promises that He will apply the truth when properly presented are as full and as fresh now as they were then. Each minister of the Gospel, in Christian or in heathen lands, may go to his work as fully under the influence of this feeling, and as fully armed with this power, as the apostles; and as the power from this source was entirely in advance of what the world possessed in the time of the apostles, so is it equally in advance of the world in the stage of its present progress in civilization, science, and the arts.
(3.) I refer next in proof that the Gospel has not fallen behind the world, that it has now the advantage of the trial made by it during the long period of eighteen hundred years. Like every other system, it started, of
* Compare Acts, ii., 16-21; x., 44; xi., 16; xvi., 14; 1 Cor., iii., 5, 7.
course, without this advantage; like every other system, it may now avail itself of all that can fairly be derived from its history in vindication of its truth, and in aiding in its diffusion.
It has a history—a long, a peculiar, a definite, a very marked history. It had its origin at a time when the great empire that had so long ruled the world was tending to decay; it lived through all the changes which occurred in its " Decline and Fall" as traced by Mr. Gibbon; it has been connected, in many cases closely identified, with the origin and growth of the great kingdoms which now control the world. It has a history as bearing on individuals; on families; on nations; on the course of events. It has a history in regard to trials; to conflicts; to persecutions; to death. It has a history of confessors, saints, and martyrs; a history in regard to its influence on domestic life, on education, on customs and laws. That history is now before the world, and can not now be changed.
It is true that, in close connection with real Christianity, often so apparently close as to be mistaken for it, there has been a history of false Christianity—a system of persecution, blood, and fire. The friends of Christianity are not insensible to that fact; they do not attempt to conceal it. In nominal connection with Christianity there have been wars, corruptions, vices, oppressions, persecutions. But these doings are not Christianity, nor is Christianity responsible for them. If, however, a man should strangely say, lost to all great principles of history and philosophy, that Christianity is responsible for these things, we ask, Why ? How ? Are these things prescribed and commanded in the book which embodies the laws and doctrines of the system—the New Testament? Did they characterize the life of its Great Founder ? Were they enjoined by the teachings of his apostles ? There can be no mistake on this subject. The nature of the system, as laid down in the New Testament, can not be misunderstood. The enemies of religion can tell what the religion requires as well as its friends, and often the best judges of what it demands are those who complain of the inconsistencies of its professed friends, and who hold them to the observance of a rule which they themselves seem little inclined to obey.
We know what the effect of Christianity is—its effect on the child, the wife, the man. We know what is its effect on domestic peace, industry, comfort. We know , what is its effect in elevating woman, under nearly all other systems sunk in deep degradation. We know what is its effect on intelligence, industry, and liberty.
We know what are its affinities; with what it naturally combines. We are very imperfectly acquainted with the elements of matter until we know with what they will combine, and what will be the result of the combination. Each of the sixty or more elementary substances that compose our world has its own properties, and we do not understand the nature of matter itself until we understand what the properties of those individual substances are, and with what other substances, and in what proportions, they will combine. There is the power of attraction and repulsion; there are laws of chemical affinity that produce all the forms of matter, either when united with life or when inorganic, which make up our beautiful world. We do not understand the nature of oxygen or nitrogen; of phosphorus, of carbon, or of calcium—of any of the metals, until we know with what they combine, and in what proportions.
The same is true of systems of morals and religion. We know not what they are until we know what their affinities are—with what they most naturally combine.
No man is surprised to find Mr. Hume, under the notions of religion which he cherished, proclaiming that "justice is not a natural, but artificial virtue, depending wholly on the arbitrary institutions of men, and previous to the establishment of civil society not at all incumbent ; that moral, intellectual, and corporeal virtue are all of the same kind; that adultery must be practiced if men would obtain all the advantages of this life; that, if generally practiced, it would soon cease to be scandalous, and that, if practiced secretly and frequently, it would by degrees come to be thought no crime at all; that the life of a man is of no greater importance than that of an oyster, and as it is admitted that there is no crime in diverting the Nile or the Danube from their courses, so there can be none in turning a few ounces of blood from their natural channel, or that suicide is lawful."* His principles led to such results, and he had the hardihood and the honesty to avow it. No man is surprised to learn that the horrors of the French Revolution followed the promulgation of the doctrines of the French Encyclopaedia. All the blood shed in the French capital; all the crimes of the Revolution, were the regular results of the doctrines defended by Voltaire and his fellow-laborers. No man was surprised at the results reached in " New Harmony." The seed sown produced its appropriate harvest.
The same principle is applicable to Christianity. Like the chemical elements in nature, and like the systems of infidel philosophy, it has its proper laws of affin
* See the proof that Mr. Home held these opinions in Magee on Atonement and Sacrifice, p. 425-429.
ity; and its nature is not known till those laws are understood. After an experience of eighteen hundred
I years, the world has learned what those laws are.
y Christianity combines every where with pure morality, with chaste living, with refined manners, with domestic peace, with temperance, with industry, with order, with law, with learning, with liberty. The press, colleges, schools, the courtesies of refined life, charity to the poor, to the needy, and to the outcast, find a natural ally in Christianity, and, wherever it goes, we know that these will be found in its train. What it has gained in this respect is a part of its capital, and is not to be transferred to any other system.
(4.) I refer next, in proof that Christianity has not fallen behind the world, and as illustrating its relation to civilization, science, and the arts, to what, for want of a better name, may be called its radiations. I mean by that term to denote the influences which have gone beyond the direct agency of the system, and which have passed over on other systems, and made them, in a great measure, what they are. The idea is, that the condition of the world has been materially modified by Christianity beyond its direct influence, and that, to understand its exact nature and value, the extent of that influence should be known.
I have endeavored to show in this Lecture that the world has made great progress since the Gospel was first made known; that it is in many respects a different world from what it was when Paul stood on Mars' Hill in Athens; that a Greek of the age of Pericles, if he should now appear again, would find himself in a different world from that in which he lived. The re- . mark which I am now making is, that this change has been produced in a very considerable degree by what
I refer to as the radiations of Christianity; by those influences which have passed beyond its immediate sphere in the Church, and which have affected surrounding objects. I refer to those things which make a Christian nation different from other nations; to those things derived from it which could not now be detached from civilization without destroying the entire fabric.
It is probable that there is not one thing that now pertains to us in a Christian land, and which we value as a part of our civilization, which has not been made in a great manner what it is by the silent and accumulating influence of Christianity. The laws under which we live are different from what they would have been. The methods of administering justice are different. The' ideas of punishment are different. The securities for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are different. The manners and customs of those among whom we live are different. Our domestic arrangements are different. The provisions made for the poor and the needy; for the sick and the wounded; for the blind, the deaf, and the insane, are different.
Now it is impossible to ascertain how much of this is due to Christianity, for no man can prove that the world would not have made progress in these respects if Christianity had not been revealed. But no man can deny that a very considerable portion of the comforts which we enjoy from day to day are to be traced to the radiating influences of the Gospel. Apart from what is its religious teaching, and apart from its influence in saving the soul, the world is different now from what it would have been if the Christian system had not been revealed.
We claim all this as belonging to Christianity, and as indicating its source. And in estimating the relation of Christianity to the world in its present stage of progress in science, civilization, and the arts, we ask that all that it has done in making science, civilization, and the arts what they are, should be taken into the account ; and we hold that the question whether Christianity is still ahead of the world, or whether it is abreast of the world, or whether it has fallen in the rear, and can now be dispensed with, can not be determined unless we could detach from the institutions of social and civilized life all that they have derived from the Christian religion, and survey them as they would be then.
(5.) I refer, in illustration of the relation of Christianity to the present age and to future ages, to what, for want of a better term, also, I may call the appliances of Christianity. I refer to the question whether it has kept its relative position in regard to the means of propagating and perpetuating itself on the earth.
We have seen, in the previous remarks, that there was little in this respect in the time of the apostles; that Christianity had no press, no literature, no schools, almost no organization.
In reference to the means which the world now has of perpetuating and extending what it has secured, there is a difference as great between the apostolic age and the present as there is in the things which have been secured at one period and the other. Whatever may have been done in regard to ancient literature, to scientific discoveries, to valuable works of art, to civilization, to the means of prosecuting war, as to the question of perpetuating these things, it is certain that nothing, in all time to come, will now imperil their existence. Those great discoveries are secured in libraries, in public monuments, in the very necessities of common life. What now can destroy a great poem, a valuable historical work, or a treatise on medicine or astronomy, multiplied as it is by the art of printing ? What can destroy the printing-press, the compass, the quadrant, the steam-engine, the magnetic telegraph? Society, in striking out these inventions, has made them self-perpetuating, and has secured the means, in the things themselves, of their preservation, of their diffusion over the earth, and of their transmission to future times. Has Christianity, in its movements, kept its relative position in this respect also ?
Christianity, more than science, has secured the press. | It early seized upon it as a most important auxiliary; it made it tributary to its own great work in diffusing the doctrines of the Reformation; it now employs it in the work of diffusing the truths of revelation in a large part of the languages spoken on the earth. It takes the press with it wherever it goes; it forms no plan for its own propagation or perpetuity except in connection with it.
Christianity has a literature of its own, as large, as important, as powerful on public sentiment as the literature of any other department of thought and action. One would, perhaps, be surprised, in attempting to remove what is properly a Christian literature from the alcoves of a great library, to find how large a part of the library would be removed by such an attempt; how many vacancies would be made on the shelves—to see how much of that literature has been created by Christianity ; how much that once controlled the world has been removed into a comparatively obscure and unfrequented part of the library by the changes which have been made by Christianity in public opinion.
Christianity has done much to control the literature which it has not directly created, and has made it different from what it would otherwise have been. A large part of the books of history, poetry, philosophy, and science are different from what they would have been if they had had their origin in lands remote from the Christian religion. Even Mr. Hume's History of England was moulded and modified by the fact that he wrote of a Christian nation; Mr. Gibbon's History is not what it would have been if he had not been called upon to record the influence of Christianity in remoulding the nations of Europe during and after the decline and fall of the Roman empire.
The great names which adorn Christian literature are quite on a level with those which pertain wholly to the world. In history, in poetry, in eloquence, in close and powerful reasoning, the names which Christianity claims as its own are on a level, at least, with those which are claimed by the world. In poetry, is there a greater than John Milton ? In profound reasoning, is there a greater than Jonathan Edwards? In imagination, is there one superior to Jeremy Taylor? In eloquence, has the world any superior to Massillon or Bourdaloue —to Robert Hall or Thomas Chalmers ?
Christianity has surrounded itself with colleges and schools. It plants them wherever it goes. Taking the world at large, the colleges are, at least, under a nominal Christian influence. Edinburgh, St. Andrew's, Glasgow, Cambridge, and Oxford; Bonn, Heidelburg, Halle, Gottingen, are, to a great extent, under Christian influence. In our own country there is not one avowedly infidel college; nor could such a college be sustained. There was one founded under the auspices of a great state, and under the patronage of one that at one time wielded more influence than any other man in the United States, but its own internal peace demanded the influence of religion, and, in this respect, it has taken its place by the side of the other colleges of the land. There is not a Legislature in our land that would charter an infidel college as such, nor could it live a year if it were thus chartered.
Christianity has originated a new form of literature wholly its own; a literature not known under any ancient form of mythology; not known under any form of modern heathenism; not known to infidelity; not known to philosophy; and it has, at the same time, originated an institution most effective for applying that literature, and for securing its own influence over the young. I allude to the Sabbath-school, and to the literature which has been originated by that institution. This, if there were nothing else, would show that Christianity, in its efforts to perpetuate and propagate itself, is quite abreast of the world. The literature of the Sabbath-school may not be, in respect to quality, all that could be desired, but it may be doubted whether there is any other department of literature that is exerting as much influence on the destinies of mankind. Infidelity has no peculiar literature for the young, nor has it any institution where to inculcate its sentiments on the young. Mohammedanism and Buddhism have no peculiar literature for the young, nor have they any peculiar institution for training up the young in those views of religion. Science, with great difficulty, prepares books for the young, but its literature in astronomy, botany, chemistry, designed to guide the young, as compared with the literature of the Sabbath-school, is meagre in the extreme. The Sabbath-school, and the Sabbath-school library, stand by themselves. Both capable undoubtedly of great improvement, they are, nevertheless, exerting a vast power on the coming generation, and it is difficult to see how a religion that has such an agency as the Sabbath-school could be exterminated from the world. One day during each week, of every month in the year, the children of this nation are brought directly under Christian instruction, with all the advantages, in theory at least, of calling into the service the best talent, the highest intelligence, the warmest piety, the most devoted zeal, existing in the churches. Through all the states of the Union, and in all the territories, by agencies of its own, that literature is placed in the hands of the young, before other influences are brought to bear on them, to form their opinions, to make their hearts pure, to teach them to believe the Bible, and to love and serve God. Whatever else the world may do in its progress, we may be certain that it will not be in advance of this arrangement of Christianity to diifuse and perpetuate itself upon the earth.
The argument which has been submitted to you in this Lecture, as the conclusion of the course, is founded on the idea that a religion starting in advance of the world, from such a region, and such a source as that in which Christianity was originated, and which, through ages of wonderful progress in civilization, science, and the arts, still, after the lapse of eighteen hundred years, maintains that position; a religion which has lived through all forms of furious and fiery persecution; a religion which has originated much of that which now enters into the ameliorated condition of the world in customs, manners, laws, and modes of life; a religion which, by elective affinity, has attached itself to all that is good and valuable in human discoveries, and has refused a permanent connection with evil; a religion which now, in its own means of perpetuity and propagation, is still in advance of the world, can be best explained on the supposition that it is what it claims to be, of divine origin, and that it can not be explained on any other supposition. The argument is, substantially, that it must have been founded on a knowledge of the future which is above the unaided powers of man; on the fact that man can not adjust any system to the future in its varying and uncertain changes; on the fact that in all human systems there must be arrangements for making changes to adapt them to unforeseen deveh opments and the progress of the world—as in governments providing for " amendments" to their Constitutions, as in our own, or silently submitting to changes forced upon them by time, as in the British Constitution ; on the fact that in architecture, in the arts, in agriculture, in navigation, in all the great departments of human progress, the things which are adapted to one age must silently give way in the progress of events— as in naval warfare the Greek triremes would be useless now, and wooden ships are superseded by iron-clad vessels, and in land service the buckler, and the shield, and the breastplate, and the coat of mail have been laid aside; on the fact that no creed originated by man can be adapted to every coming age of the world and to every land; on the fact that the old arrangements for preserving the memory of past events and the discoveries in science, by wax, and metal plates, and the stylus, become useless when the art of printing is made known, and are laid aside. Since, of necessity, all these things pass away, how was it that Christianity was adjusted, at the outset, to all the possible changes in the world; to all the progress which mankind could make in science, in civilization, and the arts ? The simplest solution is, that it was originated by an Omniscient One, and is therefore divine.
Whatever may be thought of this argument, there is an inference from the whole subject in which all will agree, and the statement of which is peculiarly appropriate to this place, and as the closing remark of these Lectures. It is, that such a religion is to maintain its position only by keeping abreast or ahead of the world. The men who are to defend it in this age and in coming generations are to be men who are " up to their age." The arguments by which the philosophy of the Epicureans and Stoics could be met at Athens do not constitute all the arguments which are needed now. The weapons which led to victory in the contests of the " fathers" with Celsus and Porphyry will not necessarily lead to victory now. The methods of the schoolmen are not all that is needed now. The weapons which seemed so formidable in past ages might not be formidable now. Old weapons of war—greaves, and shields, and spears, and catapults, were useful, but there comes a time when they are laid aside, and find repose in ancient halls and towers. There is a " living age," and it is much for a young man entering on life, and especially in a position where he will be called to defend Christianity as the main business of his life, to know that there is such an age, and what it is. Theologians must deal with living men and with living opinions, and if they are not prepared for this, they are not prepared for the work of their age. The ministry must be prepared to meet men—living men—on the question of the inspiration of the Scriptures, and with arguments that will commend themselves to those trained in the principles of profound criticism; on the question about the antiquity of the race on earth, and with arguments not derived from synods and councils; on the whole question of miracles, and of a supernatural influence in the affairs of men. A more deep and subtle Pantheism in the form of Rationalism or Positivism lies at the foundation of the sciences of this day, as they are held, than the great mass of the friends of Christianity are aware of, and against all this, it may be unconsciously, the friend of Christianity struggles and contends when he attempts to impress its truths on the minds of men. No true friend of Christianity could wish that the ministers of religion should be less pious, or less imbued with Biblical learning; but let them go prepared to meet the world as it is, and not go clad in the armor of a past generation, only to find that the enemy which that kind of armor is fitted to subdue has long been wandering in the land of shades among the knight-errants of the past.
It can not, therefore, but be regarded as a very auspicious circumstance that in this seminary a movement should have been commenced, suggested by, and sustained by laymen, with a view to this state of things; to connect the seminary more with the world around it; to draw to its aid what may be of advantage in this respect from those engaged in other departments of learning, and those engaged in the active duties of pastoral life; and it is an auspicious circumstance—what those laymen well knew would be the case—that such a movement has the entire concurrence of the professors of the seminary, and is hailed by them as materially aiding them in their great work. Other things being equal, that seminary of sacred learning only which thus feels the contact with the living world will meet the wants of the coming age; those institutions which do not feel this, and which resist such influences, 402 LECTURES ON THE EVIDENCES OF CHRISTIANITY.
will exhaust their power in perpetuating a dead orthodoxy in the Church, and will leave the world around to the influence of Rationalism, Positivism, and Pantheism.