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mind that may be interested in them. Nor does doubt concerning them, or a belief different from the traditionary and common, involve infidelity, or even heresy. Many of them have already been settled on scientific grounds—some in accordance with, others against, the popular belief. Many are still moot-points, and must remain such, perhaps forever. But the discussion of no one of these questions, in a proper spirit, can militate against the true interests of Christianity, or touch its moral foundations. The utmost that such discussion can do, is to correct erroneous impressions in science and biblical criticism: and is not this as much for our interest as for that of the Infidel-and more? The same scholarship that proves the interpolation in 1 John v, 7-8, confirms the integrity of other parts of the Epistle. The same scholarship that questions the authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews, establishes the authenticity of the Epistles of St. Paul. Wherever biblical criticism makes an exception, it proves a rule. It certainly is not destroying the sacred records to strike out from their pages all that really does not pertain to them. It is not weakening their authority to substitute a true interpretation for a false one. It is not undermining the foundations of Christianity to clear away the rubbish that priestcraft and schoolcraft have heaped about them. And it is no loss to the Church to be driven back from untenable and worthless assumptions.
We welcome, therefore, such discussion, confident that "the Word of the Lord endureth forever," and that all that is true and good in our religion will remain and be confirmed thereby. Meanwhile, Christianity stands as it has ever stood and will stand throughout the battle of the Evidences, on the foundation of its moral truths and adaptations. Its instructions, appeals, encouragements, and warnings lose none of their authority and power. We still can press them on the conscience of the Infidel, and by no logic or sophistry can he avoid them. It is idle, therefore, for Christians to fear, and for Infidels to claim, that if some of our traditionary views on external subjects connected with Christianity are modified or
exploded, its practical doctrines lose anything of their efficacy or character.
Here we would beg to call attention to one or two points in Mr. Mansel's "Limits of Religious Thought," which have a direct and important bearing on the subject of this Article. This volume has been so long before the public, and has been so ably reviewed by Dr. Young, that we shall attempt no formal criticism. Our object is simply to expose the relation of the general design and contents of the work to that controversy with infidel science which now occupies the Church. Mr. Mansel seems to have been perfectly aware of the exigencies of the times, and of the sort of labor demanded of the friends of truth. He says: "The crying evil of the present day, in religious controversy, is the neglect or contempt of the external evidences of Christianity: the first step towards the establishment of a sound religious philosophy must consist in the restoration of those evidences to their true place in the Theological system."+ And yet, instead of devoting his splendid powers and scholarship to this work of restoration, he has employed them in an attempt to demonstrate the illegitimacy and impossibility of all internal evidence. The vantage-ground won in the battles of the past he heedlessly surrenders; and the most authoritative and unanswerable arguments for the truth of Christianity he blindly offers as a holocaust on the altar of a false philosophy.
The main position of the Bampton Lectures is, as the author states in his preface to the third edition, "that the human mind inevitably and by virtue of its essential constitution, finds itself involved in self-contradictions whenever it ventures on certain courses of speculation." This proposi
tion Mr. Mansel argues in the second and third lectures, by taking the three ideas of the Absolute, the Infinite, and the First Cause, and involving himself in all manner of curious contradictions concerning them, which he attributes to
*The Province of Reason.
+ Limits of Religious Thought, American edition, p. 207.
no absurdity in his premises, nor to any want of logic in his reasoning, but to the nature of the human mind as God made it. This done, we are informed that there are limits to human thought, that "the provinces of Reason and Faith are not coëxtensive;—-that it is a duty enjoined by Reason itself, to believe in that which we are unable to comprehend." The lecturer then proceeds to discuss the leading doctrines of the Christian Faith-the Existence of God, the Trinity, the Union of two Natures in the Person of Christ, Divine Providence, Miracles, and so forth-the argument in each case being to show that the doctrine is beyond the comprehension of man's Speculative Reason, and must, therefore, be believed without question. In the seventh lecture the same course of reasoning is applied to those doctrines which are sometimes regarded as repugnant to the Moral Reason-the Atonement, Predestination and Free Will, Eternal Punishment, Original Sin, and so forth. The idea that pervades the whole of this discussion, is, that "the legitimate object of a rational criticism of revealed religion, is not to be found in the contents of that religion, but in its evidences."+ No positive and reliable argument can be drawn from the morality of the Christian. faith. The external evidences of Christianity are the only legitimate foundation for a rational belief. Thus driven from the stronghold of our faith, we are turned out naked and helpless into an almost illimitable field of inquiry. Mr. Mansel devotes a page or more of his eighth lecture to an enumeration, by no means exhaustive, of the various questions which must be met and settled before we can arrive at an intelligent faith in Christianity-an enumeration at which the broadest scholarship must stand aghast. Finally, having brought us into these embarrassments, our author insists on the impossibility of eclecticism in Christianity. We must prove everything or accept nothing. To reject "one jot or one tittle of the whole doctrine of Christianity"--and, judging from the tenor of the volume, the "doctrine of Christianity' means, here, the traditionary faith of the Anglican Church—
* Limits of Religious Thought, p. 110.
+ Ibid., pp. 204, 205.
is nothing short of an assertion "that Jesus of Nazareth was an impostor, or an enthusiast, or a mythical figment, and his disciples crafty and designing, or well-meaning, but deluded
Such is an outline of the work before us, so far as it pertains to our general subject.
With regard to the general design of the Bampton Lectures and their bearing upon the relative attitudes of the Church and Infidelity, they seem to us, from our New England standpoint, to be a long way behind the times. Had this book appeared when Bolingbroke and Hume and Gibbon were leaders of the literary world, it might have been regarded as an audacious effort to beg the questions in dispute. Then objections of the speculative and moral reason to the doctrines of the Christian faith were rife; and if Mr. Mansel could have proved that such objections were illegitimate, it would have been a very happy blow at the high-handed infidelity of the age. Even in that day, however, it is probable that Mr. Mansel's book would have been hailed as a virtual surrender of the faith for which he contends-a surrender because of its preposterous assumptions. Indeed, there is a singular coincidence between our author's depreciation of Reason and the sardonic language of Hume at the close of his Essay on Miracles:
"So that, upon the whole, we may conclude, that the Christian Religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one. Mere reason is insufficient to convince us of its veracity: And whoever is moved by Faith to assent to it, is conscious of a continued miracle in his own person, which subverts all the principles of his understanding, and gives him a determination to believe what is most contrary to custom and experience."
The object of the lecturer is to show that the objections raised by Reason against the Christian faith are illegitimate and unphilosophical. The method of his argument is, as we have seen in the outline, to show that the various doctrines of revealed religion are above the comprehension of Reason, and this point is established by proving them to be self-contradictory and utterly unintelligible! That is, starting from indis
* Limits of Religious Thought, p. 215.
putable premises-which Reason must acknowledge as suchand reasoning with severest logic, if we become involved in contradictions and absurdities concerning any doctrine, the Existence of God, for example, we are not to discard that doctrine as unreasonable; we are to accept it by Faith; and these speculative difficulties are to be considered as a part of our probation. God has permitted them "to exist as the trial and the discipline of sharp and subtle intellects, as he has permitted moral temptations to form the trial and the discipline of strong and eager passions ;"* and in the same spirit our author might have added, as he has created fossils in the rocks in order to mock the honest inquirer after truth!
But, if the objections urged by Reason against the Christian faith be illegitimate and vain, surely the arguments which Reason offers in its favor are also illegitimate and vain. The morality of the Bible is no longer any ground for its authority. We can draw no argument from the intrinsic truth and excellence of Christianity. Our faith, so far as it has been grounded on internal evidence, is irrational and unwarrantable. The Church must cede the vantage ground won in the past. Tom Paine may withdraw his concessions. Good old grandmothers, whose faith in Christianity has been reposing on the ground of its perfect adaptation to their spiritual wants, must rub up their spectacles, study Hebrew and Syriac, compare old manuscripts, investigate the Canon and settle all the knotty points at issue between Science and Criticism and the Old Interpretation. In these alone are to be found the legitimate object of a rational criticism, the valid ground of a rational belief!
And this preposterous defense of Christianity is offered after the objections of Reason to the content of the Christian faith have been fairly met and answered, after the battle has been fought out, the province won, and the controversy shifted to a new arena! We have heard much lately of the long somnolence of the Church of England, and it is certainly a charitable view to take of her condition, as represented in the persons of Mr. Mansel and his supporters. Rip Van Winkle has been
Limits of Religious Thought, p. 219.