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politicians of the United States, we do not mean to assert that our own Legislature is without stain. From the history of our railway legislation, many an instance of political corruption might be drawn which would fall very little short of some of the cases we see mentioned in the American newspapers. But, as Mr. Tremenheere remarks, in his excellent work on the Constitution of the United States, there is one marked distinction between our system and that which prevails among our kinsmen on the other side of the Atlantic. Under their constitution, the 'frequency of elections, the very great diffusion of the franchise, ' and the payment of their Members of both Houses, cause a 'class of men to be sent to the National Legislature, the majority ' of whom are not possessed of independent means sufficient to 'enable them to dispense with those extraneous and unrecognised sources of emolument which are inconsistent with their posi'tion and character, should a low estimate of either happen to 'second the temptation. Under ours, the vast preponderance among the Members of the House of Commons of men of ' either hereditary or acquired wealth, or of competence honour' ably achieved and maintained, materially contributes to diffuse ' and preserve a high tone of feeling and of principle, which reduces 'the corrupt elements to exceptions; which is ever on the watch against their increase; and which despises and repels, though it 'may sometimes be obliged by political necessities to use them.'
In the same chapter which treats of the payment of Members, Mr. Tremenheere quotes the opinion of a gentleman in the United States, who has the most ample means of judging correctly' as to the way in which the national business is managed, and who endorses the following condemnation of it :-' Consider 'for one moment the inevitable effects of our present state of 'politics. The quality of our politicians deteriorates most rapidly. Write down a list of the twenty-five leading poli'ticians of Washington's, Adam's, or Jefferson's Administration, ' and write opposite the names of our foremost twenty-five . . . have we not among our foremost statesmen illiterate, shallow, noisy, boastful demagogues? . . . . It seems to me that the 'business of politics is getting to be done, more and more, by 'such persons, that men of worth, dignity, and wisdom more and more abstain from handling the political pitch which ' defiles; that the apathy of the intelligent class, with regard to 'politics, has become almost complete. This was written soon after the election of President Pierce, at a time when the country was comparatively quiet. Since that period, the passing of the Nebraska Bill, and the attempt to force slavery into Kansas, have dispelled the apathy which then prevailed. A large
amount of healthy political sentiment has been awakened throughout the whole of the Free States; and at one time it almost seemed as if the North would be able to elect a President, in spite of all the efforts of the dominant faction. But the Republican party, though powerful in its enthusiasm and the strength of its convictions, is miserably deficient in political strategy, and therefore it stood no chance in a struggle with the combined forces of the thoroughly-organized Democracy and the Slave Power.
And, now that the Presidential contest is settled for 1856, the first object of Mr. Buchanan and his friends will be to lay down a scheme of action with a view to the campaign of 1860. 'If a 'President of the United States is capable and ambitious,' says Mr. Tremenheere, he must necessarily wish to be re-elected at the expiration of his four years of office. To be re-elected, he 'must be popular; and to be popular, it is possible that it may 'be necessary for him to adopt a line of policy which, to say the least, may be 'disquieting' to, if it does not actually produce col'lision with, some of the other Powers of the world, in defence of 'their rights and interests.' This is the difficulty, then, in which Mr. Buchanan finds himself, now that he has attained the summit of his ambition. If he refuse to do the bidding of that portion of his supporters who are in favour of the annexation of Cuba and Central America, he may rely upon being held up to public odium as a traitor to the Slave Power which has placed him in office. That he will fling to the winds all his former declarations in favour of slavery and filibustering, as some of the journals which lately opposed him profess to believe, is altogether incredible. But, although he may not make so great a change in his policy as will render him a favourite with the Republicans, he may possibly succeed in devising some plausible compromise measure by which the support of the Money Power will be rendered secure, and the cause of freedom betrayed. There are many different modes in which the dangerous schemes of the Southern aristocracy for the extension and perpetuation of their power may be promoted, without calling forth the same. amount of opposition as the crime against Kansas has created. No man understands better than Mr. Buchanan how to do the largest amount of work for the Slave Power at the smallest risk of odium towards himself and his masters. It is this which renders him a far more dangerous enemy of freedom than poor Franklin Pierce has been.
President Pierce's last Message, which was laid before Congress on the 1st of December, does not throw much light on the future policy of Government. Instead of joining those very sanguine politicians who have lately been prognosticating the most mild
President Pierce's Message.
211 and conciliatory measures from Mr. Buchanan, with a view to allay the excitement which still exists throughout the Free States, the main object of the present occupant of the White House appears to have been to render the feud between North and South, which he has done so much to provoke, more deadly than ever. The greater portion of the Message consists of a history of the Kansas affair, from the official point of view. In every sentence the unscrupulous partisanship of the chief magistrate is visible. Where he touches upon the conduct of the Border Ruffians and the outrages they committed in Kansas, it is in the vague phraseology of the Circumlocution Office,' and would do credit to the head of the Barnacles.' But when he has to speak of the Republican party, no language is too strong for the horror which he feels at their unparalleled criminality. The supporters of Fremont are accused of having taken advantage of the great liberty they enjoy, under the Federal Government, to conspire against the glorious Constitution of the United States. Their object, he contends, is a revolutionary one,' and, although they know, as he affirms, that the ' only path to its accomplishment is through burning cities, and 'ravaged fields, and slaughtered populations, and all that is most 'terrible in foreign, complicated with civil and servile war,' they persist in their unhallowed purpose, and in carrying it out, seize every opportunity of bringing the laws and constituted authorities of the Union into contempt. Such is the style in which President Pierce takes farewell of Congress.
Meanwhile, a most active system of caballing and intriguing is going on at head-quarters, with a view to make the new Cabinet satisfactory to the South. The great difficulty appears to lie in the selection of men who will carry out the policy of the Slave Power in such a manner as to prevent any farther dislocation of the Democratic party in the North. The New Orleans Delta, which represents the dominant party in the present Cabinet, warns Mr. Buchanan that he owes his election to the vote of 'the South, and to the defiant attitude of resistance which she was beginning to assume,' and that he must, therefore, take his policy from that quarter. Other journals belonging to the same party affirm that he owes his election to the votes given for him by Northern Democrats, who were assured by orators without number that he would introduce Kansas into the Union as a free State, and that, should he not do so, the Republican party will gain so large an accession of strength from the ranks of the Democracy, before 1860, as will enable them to return Colonel Fremont, or any other man they may choose. So stands the case of America for the present.
ART. IX.-The Doctrine of Inspiration; being an Inquiry concerning the Infallibility, Inspiration, and Authority of Holy Writ. By the Rev. JOHN MACNAUGHT, M.A. Oxon, Incumbent of St. Chrysostom's Church, Everton, Liverpool.
WERE we to say this is a bad book, we should probably say no more than the author has expected at our hands. But it is a weak book; and in saying that, we suspect that we have said what will be much more displeasing to him. When a man deplores the want of a good book on a subject, and essays to give us what we want, we do not expect a work in which the author himself is obliged to confess at the outset that it contains nothing new. Certainly, a book made up to so large an extent as the present of very old, and very often refuted, objections, is not the book to meet the demand of the times. To attempt to analyse Mr. Macnaught's volume, and to deal with it in detail, would be to bestow more space upon it than it deserves. But the question of inspiration is a great and a somewhat urgent question; and though our own views on this topic have been often expressed, the time has come, we think, in which it behoves us to present those views to our readers in a form as carefully digested, and in terms as explicit, as may be.
We shall, in the first place, glance at some points relating to the evidence in favour of the inspiration of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures considered as a FACT.
1. Every one will feel that human reason must have its province as a judge in regard to any supposed revelation. To suppose that any such communication has been made from God to man, must be to feel assured that it has been attested by its appropriate evidence. The prophet through whom such intelligence comes, must have evidence warranting him to believe that he has become the subject of such illumination. The evidence must be supernatural, but the natural reason of the man will be competent to judge of its value. It will, of course, be only moral evidence. Though supernatural, it will not be such as to preclude the possibility of resistance. But it will be sufficient evidence-sufficient to make submission to it imperative. What is true in this respect of the prophet, must be true of the people to whom the prophet-message is addressed. In their view, the message must take with it its proper evidence-evidence of which they themselves will be the judges. Both in the times of the Old Testament and the New, the people were commanded to try the
Inspiration and Reason-Sources of Objection.
spirits, and were expected to distinguish between divinely-commissioned men, and mere pretenders to such authority. To believe without evidence would be idiocy, and to call that evidence which the reason cannot understand and appreciate would be absurd.
But the evidence of a supposed revelation will not be all external. There will be evidence, either for or against its claims, arising from its contents. On these, also, the reason of man has, in a measure, to form its judgment. The common division of Christian evidence into external and internal, suggests this conclusion. It is supposed in this distinction, that we are capable of distinguishing, in some degree, between what is fit, and what is not fit, to have come from the Supreme Being to our race. It supposes that we not only know that God is, but that we know something as to what he is. If we can know nothing of God, we can know nothing of the proper or the improper in what is said to have come from Him. Apart from revelation, nature is our only source of Divine knowledge. What God is, we can only know from what He has done. But His doings are found in mind and matter, in the moral as well as in the physical universe. It is only by looking to what is ethical in man, that we can judge at all concerning the true or the right in the government of God. Our conception of Deity must be evolved from within. It can only be corroborated from without. If the light which conscience has kindled is not to be followed, then we have no light. In that case, to reject a revelation could be no sin, inasmuch as all capacity for judging of its claims would be wanting.
But it is when passing from the mind of man, as constituted by the Creator, to its condition as depraved by circumstances and habit; and when passing from this disordered world within, to the no less disordered world without, that difficulty thickens upon us. Still, the highest conception we can form of the moral excellence possible to the nature of man, is that which we should account as proper to him; and the highest conception we can form of the perfection possible to God, is that which we should account as proper to Him. Descartes was right-our capacity to conceive of Infinite Perfection must have come from Infinite Perfection. The capacity implies its object. The deity of human conception is not greater than the Deity who made us capable of that conception. It is such faith in God that must determine our faith in regard to any communication said to have come from Him. Whatever may seem to be at variance, either within us or about us, with such perfection in the Divine Being, must be a variance only in seeming.