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views of Christians, would be regarded as a direct and deliberate attack on Christianity itself; that a method merely destructive could never inspire confidence nor be sanctioned by sober judgment. No matter, then, how much these scholars may have been provoked and aggravated; they cannot be justified in sacrificing the interests of truth and Christianity to a retaliation of their personal grievances. Had their motives been pure and their method well-devised, we should have nothing to regret from the discussion of the very interesting questions which their book presents. As it is, however, the appearance of the volume has awakened a mistrust of scientific inquiry in the very quarter where such inquiry is most needed, and, by stirring up an antagonistic spirit in the Church, can hardly fail to create an unfortunate bias both in theological and scientific inquiry.
We have cited this volume as illustrating a very general habit of thought, both in England and in this country, and which variously distorted may be found in many bodies of Christians, until it is no longer to be distinguished from infidelity. A few general remarks may be added concerning the method of discussion which it involves.
First, this method is unscientific. It is a direct violation of the inductive principles of science. Instead of being the inference of a general truth from all the particulars embraced under it, it is a hasty generalization from a one-sided and very limited examination. The question is not whether an array of facts, half-truths, difficulties, and seeming discrepancies can be marshaled in the arena of physical science and biblical criticism against the popular belief; but whether, taking into consideration all the developments of science and criticism, the result is subversive of that belief. Guesses amount to nothing in such discussion-nor a partial accumulation of facts. It is only by a comprehensive survey of all known facts which may pertain to any theory, and by a just balancing of counter evidences, that that theory can be established; and the more important or improbable the theory, the more exhaustive and overwhelming must be the evidence of facts in its support. Yet plain as are these scientific principles, they seem to be
ignored by some who are loudest in urging so-called Theories of Science against the popular belief.
An old, exploded theory concerning the origin of species has been lately revived by Mr. Darwin-that new species may be evolved from old, the higher from the lower forms of life, by a certain process of selection. This is advanced as a simple theory. There is no proof that a genuine species ever was thus actually developed-only Mr. Darwin thinks that, if fossils in the rocks were more numerous and more accessible, and, especially, if we could get at the remains of animal and vegetable life before the lower silurian strata were deposited, some instances might be found. The evidence which he brings forward to substantiate this highly conjectural theory, though very bulky, is wholly irrelevant to the point at issue. His facts all go to illustrate the evolution of varieties; but not a single instance is adduced where a variety has passed into an undeniable species. Further, the counter evidence is not adduced, although the author candidly admits that there is scarcely a point in his volume upon which counter evidence. may not be brought forward and counter conclusions deduced. He confesses, indeed, that a perfectly fertile hybrid cannot be considered as thoroughly authenticated: but he does not remind us of the overwhelming mass of facts which show that there is a point beyond which variation cannot reach; that all serious modifications are abnormal or artificial; and that no sooner are they left to themselves than nature goes to work to obliterate them.
Such is the unsatisfactory nature of Mr. Darwin's argument. His book does him great credit as a careful observer and patient collector of facts; but the method of using his information compromises entirely his character as a scientific man and a philosopher.
The theological bearing of the volume before us is held to be in direct opposition to the idea that "an independent act of creation was requisite for the origin of each species." The interposition of God is made less frequent: the first cause is removed to a greater distance; and hence the book is welcomed by Atheism and the grosser forms of Infidelity as a blow at the
fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith-as if, by removing the first cause to a greater distance, we thereby rid ourselves of the necessity for it!-as if the existence of God were not just as necessary to account for the preservation of the world-the "continued creation," as the schoolmen called it-as for its first creation!—as if by supposing a personal principle "constantly controlling the affairs of the vegetable and animal kingdoms, and dealing with every plant and beast as if they were the objects of its direct and unrelaxing attention;" and calling this personal principle "Nature," or "Law," instead of "God," we could by this mere jugglery of words destroy the relation between the soul and its Creator, release ourselves from moral obligation and escape the final sanctions of the moral law!
Here is a specimen of the arguments which modern Infidelity with unblushing assurance brings against the Church from the field of natural science, and against which panicstricken theologians raise the feeble cry of "heresy !”—an unscientific theory, unsupported by facts, in the face of an overwhelming mass of opposing evidence; and urged against the Christian faith in a manner utterly irrelevant, illogical, and contrary to common sense! And yet Mr. Baden Powell, wishing to be considered "liberal," we suppose, blindly accepts this theory as a principle substantiated on undeniable grounds, calls Mr. Darwin's book a "masterly volume-a work which must soon bring about an entire revolution of opinion in favor of the grand principle of the self-evolving powers of nature"!+
Now, we are at all times ready to admit the facts which science may bring forward, in whatever department of investigation, and to correct our opinions by them. When Astronomy and Geology proclaim their astounding revelations, we accept them in spite of their opposition to the inferences which we had drawn from our interpretation of the Bible. And now, if Biology, Ethnology or Paleontology have any facts to offer, we stand ready to accept them, and to modify
* British Quarterly Review, April, 1860. Art. Darwin on the Origin of Species.
+ Recent Inquiries in Theology, p. 157.
our present views accordingly. We shall not wrest the facts of science into conformity with a traditionary belief, as some have sought to do. We shall not offer violence to the simple language of the Bible, in order to make it harmonize with the facts of science, as many have done. We shall rather endeavor by a study of the circumstances under which the several portions of the Bible were given to the world, the resources of the language employed, the understanding of the people addressed, and the purpose which the writer had in view, to show how such use of language there and then was justifiable, if not the best possible. But when a false sciencethat is, no science at all-comes forward with its empty, worthless theories, and has the brazen impudence to call on Christianity to fall before them, ignoring all that genuine science has done to strengthen and confirm the Christian faith, ignoring those moral foundations on which the vital truths of Christianity rest independently of all physical science, we spurn and contemn its threats and empty boastings. If these objections, which infidel science urges against the truth, were measured and judged by those standards which it applies to Christian argument, they would shrink into insignificance and nothing.
A second feature of this radicalism, to which we would like to allude for a moment, is its destructiveness. There is no man so mischievous as he who goes about unsettling other people's faith without giving them a better. Indeed, so contrary is such a method to the true idea of reform, that we cannot see how any right-minded person can engage in it. Yet such is the method adopted by many within the pale of the Christian Church. The Oxford essayists afford us several examples: the "liberal Christians" and "Neo-theologians" offer many more. We do not stigmatize all those who are imbued with this spirit as un-Christian: some may be actuated by the best of motives. But, when we see how poorly adapted such a method is to a welcome presentation of truth, or even to the removal of error, and how violent and unChristian is the antagonism which it provokes, we can but
feel that the eyes of its followers are blind to the true inter.ests of Christianity.
When Christ came to destroy the vast fabric of tradition and formality that Jewish superstition had reared upon the letter of the law, to close the ancient dispensation and to inaugurate the new, how different the method of that great reform! He did not commence his labors by a work of demolition, but by proclaiming at once the cardinal doctrine of Christianity, that of Repentance, and the Remission of Sin. His sermons were no labored arguments against the Mosaic law, but positive precepts to right living. He did not abuse his countrymen for offering sacrifices, for observing the festival of the new moon, or for keeping holy the seventh day. He rebuked their hypocrisy, it is true; but his intercourse with them was characterized by a respectful treatment of their prejudices, while he was by doctrine and example laying the foundations of that new religion which was to supersede the old-fashioned orthodoxy of the age. Thus Christ was a true reformer, not a destroyer. He did not destroy Judaism: he set up Christianity, and Judaism fell down of itself. Had all the followers of Christ displayed the same consideration of one another's feelings and prejudices, had they been actuated by the simple desire to promote the interests of truth and piety; had their method been that of genuine reform; how much of the antagonism which now prevails within the Church might have been spared! How much may yet be spared, if Christian scholars try to imitate, in their discussions, the wisdom and the love of Christ!
We have thus surveyed the extreme positions which parties within the Church have assumed in relation to scientific inquiry; and have seen how unjust and distorted are their views, and how unfortunate their influence, in consequence of unnatural conservatism on the one hand, and radicalism on the other. Avoiding, then, these two extremes-not clinging obstinately to prejudice, nor rashly throwing off our faith; not timid or reluctant to embrace new truth, but testing it with scientific care and thoroughness before accepting it; not