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in a spirit of antagonism, but of sincere inquiry-we would stimulate the labors of science, hoping for new truth, glad to be set right where we are wrong, confident that all that is true and good in Christianity will endure.
The generally prevailing interest in biblico-scientific questions, the advances made in the departments of biblical criticism and interpretation, and, we may add, the investigations of Tischendorf, the discovery of new manuscripts, and the high standard of Greek and Hebrew scholarship beginning to prevail, show that we may be on the eve of important acquisitions, and perhaps of changes in our theological opinions. Let us rejoice at the prospect. If there be mistakes, interpolations, forgeries in the sacred writings, let us have them detected and stricken out. If science or philosophy have any honest objections against our doctrinal views, let us cheerfully and candidly examine them, and admit their full weight, Such a course can never be prejudicial to the Christian faith : it can only be corrective and confirmatory.
We are aware that many cautious persons entertain a deepseated distrust of such inquiry, as tending to “rationalism.” If they mean, by such a name, to designate that gross irrationalism which we have been discussing in this Article, we respect their caution, but feel sure that honest inquiry can never come to this, so long as it is free and unbiassed. Mr. Mansel has a bit of fine writing on this subject, which we cannot forbear quoting: “Many a young aspirant after philosophical faith trusts himself to the trackless ocean of rationalism in the spirit of the too-confident Apostle : ‘Lord, bid me to come unto thee on the water. And for a while he knows not how deep he sinks, till the treacherous surface on which he treads is yielding on every side, and the dark abyss of utter unbelief is yawning to swallow him up. Well is it, indeed, with those who, even in that last fearful hour, can yet cry, Lord, save me!' and can feel that supporting hand stretched out to grasp them, and hear that voice, so warning, yet so comforting, thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?' "* But who told Peter to venture on the
* Limits of Religious Thought, p. 112.
water? and why did he sink? Was it not because of fear and lack of faith? Sure are we, that so long as we have confidence in God and in his truth, so long as our faith in Christianity is grounded on its pure morality, so long may we safely venture on all rational inquiries; and may we never hear those reproachful words, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"
Theologians of Mr. Mansel's stripe may raise the cry of “heresy!” at some of the opinions which we have here brought forward; and, so far as they mean by heresy simply departure from their own opinions, we cheerfully plead guilty. But let us remember that the greatest heresy is a heretical spirit. Perhaps some friend of ours comes to us with doubts and difficulties concerning the Trinity or the Atonement. But so long as he manifests a becoming spirit of inquiry and docility, we do not brand him as a heretic. We may sometimes have such doubts ourselves. It is only when such doubts become matters of conceit, or when they are hardened into absolute denial, that they assume the character of heresy.
There is a class of men, in these days, called “heresyhunters,” who make it their business to snuff through every book and article on theological subjects in search of ideas differing from their own rigid orthodoxy. Such men should bear in mind that the grossest heresy of spirit may coëxist with consummate orthodoxy of opinion. Where can you find, for example, severer orthodoxy than in the precise, unbending formulas of the Athanasian Creed ?—where fouler heresy than in the damnatory clauses affixed to them? If it be heresy, when the intellect does not assent to certain statements of doctrine, it is a deeper and more dangerous heresy, when the heart does not conform to the practical requirements of that doctrine. Let, then, these “heresy hunters” beware lest they become, by the spirit and temper of their orthodoxy, themselves the greatest heretics !
For our part, we are sure that faith is healthiest and that truth shines brightest, where thought is free; that error is best exterminated by being dragged to light; and that Christianity, so far as it is true, has nothing to fear, but everything to hope, from free inquiry.
In the market-place of Wittenberg, that town where Luther openly began his opposition to the Church of Rome, there stands, beneath a cast-iron Gothic canopy, a bronze statue of the great Reformer; and on one side of the pedestal are engraved these lines :
“Ist's Gottes Werk, so wird's bestehen,
Ist's Menschen Werk, wird's untergehen." Such was Luther's manly confidence in the Reformation. Such be ours in Christianity. If it be God's work, it will stand; if man's, it will fall—and let it fall !
ARTICLE III.—THE ACQUISITION OF TIIE AMOOR.
Oriental and Western Siberia: a Narrative of Seven Years'
Explorations and Adventures in Siberia, Mongolia, the Kirghis Steppes, Chinese Tartary, and part of Central Asia.
By Thomas WITLAM ATKINSON. Harper & Brothers : 1860. Travels in the Regions of the Upper and Lower Amoor, and
the Russian Acquisitions on the Confines of India and China. By THOMAS WITLAM ATKINSON, F. G. S., F. R. G. S.
Harper & Brothers: 1860. A Voyage down the Amoor : with a Land Journey through
Siberia, and incidental notices of Manchooria, Kamschatka, and Japan. By Perry McDonough Collins. D. Appleton & Co. 1860.
MODERN enterprise is nowhere more conspicuous than in its additions to geographical science. The terræ incognitæ are rapidly obliterated from the map of the world, before the bold research of accomplished explorers, the chivalric knights-errant of to-day. The ice-bound circles of the pole, the torrid regions of the equator, the plateaus of the Andes, the steppes of Asia, the islands of the Pacific, are described to us in works which combine a charm like that of fiction with the earnestness of truth, and which are not more gratifying to the scholar than they are alluring to the general reader.
We have placed at the head of this Article the titles of three volumes, which throw light on a region hitherto little known, but which is rapidly rising into importance, as a theater on which the resources of a leading empire are now lavishly expended. The last of these volumes is by an American, of the go-ahead type, whose culture does not interfere with his enjoyment in any latitude, who evidently believes in business, and that his own country is ready to do whatever can be done in that direction, and who is ambitious to herald the opening of a new field to American activity. The other two volumes, which we place at the head of this Article, are by an English artist, of generous endowments, and heroic purpose, whose love of nature led him into the wilds of Asia, and who bore a charmed life, through thrilling adventures of travel, and among strange tribes of men. Mr. Collins, the American traveler, for the sake of facilitating his explorations, obtained from his government the nominal appointment of United States Commercial Agent for the Amoor. He was received by the imperial court, with that respect which Russia has ever freely accorded to Americans, and obtained all needed facilities for his journey across the two-fold empire of the Czar. In mid winter he proceeded from Moscow to Irkoutsk, traveling, in thirty-five days, a distance of 3,545 miles, “having," as he says, “slept out of our sleigh only three whole nights in that time, with an atmosphere ranging from fifty degrees below zero to ten degrees above.” Here, and at Kiachta, and at Chita, which is on the head-waters of the Amoor, three weary months were passed in waiting for the flow of streams; during which, however, excursions were made into the regions of the mines, while Russian hospitalities broke the monotony of the stay. At length the ice disappeared, and Mr. Collins, the first of his countrymen to cross the Baikal and the dividing ridge beyond it, launched his boat upon the waters that flow toward the Pacific. For twenty-two hundred miles down the mighty Amoor, through a region wonderful in its novel scenery, now wild with primitive desolation, then luxuriant with prolific flora, at one place marked with imposing monuments of races long passed away, and at another peopled with various tribes of living men, he held on his course to the sea, where he was greeted with the flags of American shipping, and embarked for the western coast of his own country.
Mr. Atkinson, pursuing his love for art into territories where other qualities than those which are commonly supposed to characterize the profession were needed, enjoyed uncommon advantages for his enterprise, through a special passport which he received from the Emperor of all the Russias, which gave him unrestricted passage across the whole extent of