Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

sustain the Transcendentalists ; it agrees, whether believing or not believing, that the sense of the documents and monuments relates to the supernatural. Then the Transcendentalists must abandon their interpretation, as contradicted by the only authority on which they can rely for sustaining it. Then they must admit the supernatural order ; then supernatural revelation ; then positive religious institutions ; and then the Catholic Church ; or impeach the documents. This latter alternative is out of the question, as they themselves admit, by their effort to explain them in accordance with Naturalism. Then nothing remains for them, if they do not wish to write themselves down what Dogberry wished to be written down, to confess that they have been chasing their own shadow, and to beg God to forgive their folly and absurdity, and to receive them as humble postulants at the door of his Church.

We have now gone through with what we proposed to say on Transcendentalism, or latest form of Infidelity. We have said all we have judged to be necessary to enable our readers to understand its essential character, and all that can be requisite for its refutation. It can hardly be expected that what we have said will have much influence on confirmed Transcendentalists themselves ; but we trust in God that it may serve to put those who are as yet unbitten on their guard, and make our readers generally more suspicious of the novel principles of modern literature and philosophy. The danger is not, that any man with his eyes open will espouse Transcendentalism, when fully developed, and dressed in its own robes ; but that specious principles which imply it may be imbibed by well-meaning individuals before suspecting the fatal consequences they involve. In fact, all modern philosophy and literature are more or less tinctured with Transcendentalism, and we find not unfrequently traces of it where we are not only sorry to find them, but where we little expected them. The enemy has sown its principles broadcast over the modern world, and they rarely fail to spring up, and flourish, and bear their poisonous fruit. One hardly knows when he is safe in accepting any view or doctrine of a more recent date than the Reformation. Let no man fancy, because he can laugh at the absurdity of Transcendentalism, when full grown, and displaying itself in all its deformity, absurdity, and impiety, that he is in no danger of countenancing it. Even while laughing, he may find that he is sustaining principles which logically imply it.

But, after all, what is the real sum and substance of Transcendentalism, this latest and noblest birth of Time, as its friends regard it, and from which we are promised the universal palingenesia of man and nature, — what is it, when reduced to its simple, positive teachings ? We have been led through tomes of metaphysical lore ; we have been allured by brilliant promises of a recovered Eden ; we have been flattered by glowing descriptions of our godlike powers, affinities, and tendencies; we have been transported by the assurance that we may dispense with priests, prophets, intercessors, and mediators, and of ourselves approach the Infinite One face to face, and drink our supply at the primal Fountain of Truth itself ; but now, having lingered till the ascending sun has exhaled the dewdrops and exhausted the gems and precious stones which sparkled in rich profusion at our feet, what is the real and positive value of what has so long detained and charmed us ? Things are what they are ; man is what he is, and by a right use of his faculties may be, do, and know all he can be, do, and know. So far as we are wise, good, and loving, so far we have and know wisdom, goodness, love ; and so far as we have and know wisdom, goodness, love, we have and know God, in so far as he is wisdom, goodness, love. He who knows more of these knows more than he who knows less. If the possession of wisdom, goodness, love, be inspiration, then he who has the most wisdom, goodness, love, is the most inspired, and to be more inspired, he must get more wisdom, goodness, love. To be more inspired, he must be more inspired. If white be white, then white is white; if black be black, then what is black is black; if two be two, then two are two. Or, in two grand formulas from Mr. Parker, “Goodness is goodness,” and “Be good and do good," and - you will be good and do good! If this is not the whole of Transcendentalism, when divested of its denials, its blasphemy, and its impiety, and reduced to its simple dogmatic teaching, then we have given days, weeks, months, and years, to its study to no purpose. Stated in plain and simple terms, it is the veriest commonplace imaginable. It is merely "much ado about nothing," or “a tempest in a teapot.” Dressed up in the glittering robes of a tawdry rhetoric, or wrapped in the mystic folds of an unusual and unintelligible dialect, it may iinpose on the simple and credulous ; but to attempt to satisfy one's spiritual wants with it is as vain as to attempt to fill one's self with the east wind, or to warm one's freezing hands on a cold winter's night by holding them up to the moon. Yet its teachers are the great lights of this age of light, before whom all the great lights of past times pale as the stars before the sun. Men and women, through some mistake not in a lunatic hospital, run after them with eagerness, hang with delight on their words, and smack their lips as if feeding on honey. Our Protestant populations, on whom the sun of the Reformation shines in its effulgence, are moved, run towards their teaching, and are about to hail it as the Tenth Avatar, come to redeem the world. Wonderful teachers ! Wonderful populations ! Wonderful age !

In conclusion ; while surveying the mass of absurdities and impieties heaped together under the name of Transcendentalism, and which attract so many, and even some of our own friends, whose kindness of heart, whose simple manners, and whose soundness of judgment on all other subjects command our love and esteem, we have been forcibly struck with the utter impotence of human reason to devise a scheme which reason herself shall not laugh to scorn. As often as man has attempted of himself alone to build a tower which should reach to heaven, or to connect by his own skill and labor the earthly with the celestial, and make a free and easy passage from one to the other, the Lord has derided his impotent efforts, confounded his language, and made confusion more confused. Uniform failure should teach us the folly of the attempt, and lead us to ask, if it be not the highest reason to bow to the divine reason, and the most perfect freedom to have no will but the will of God. “O Israel! thou destroyest thyself ; in me is thy help.”

Art. II. The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in

the United States of America, containing the Confession of Faith, the Catechisms, and the Directory for the Worship of God ; together with the Plan of Government and Discipline, as ratified by the General Assembly at their Sessions in May, 1821, and amended in 1833. Philadelphia : Haswell & Co. 1838.

In the article on the Presbyterian Confession of Faith in this Journal for April last, we disposed of only the first half of the first chapter ; we hope to be able in this to dispose of the remaining half, and present our readers a complete view of the tenets, or rather inconsistencies and contradictions, which the Westminster divines have contrived to compress within their preliminary chapter, “Of the Holy Scripture.” In reality, the controversy should be regarded as ended with the fact we have already established, that Presbyterians are utterly unable to prove the inspiration of the Scriptures ; for, since they profess to found their doctrines on the Scriptures as inspired, it is evident, that, by failing to establish the fact of inspiration, they cannot proceed a single step in the argument, and that their whole fabric falls to the ground, and is only ruins and rubbish, if even so much. But waiving this, and granting them the inspiration of the Scriptures, — not, indeed, on their grounds, but on the testimony of the Catholic Church, which has all the marks of credibility the most captious can ask, — we resume the discussion, and admire anew the beauty and vigor of logic, the marvellous concatenation of conclusions, the acuteness of judgment, the felicitous application of Scriptural texts, which they display throughout their formulary, and which they offer us as their credentials.

We have already examined the first five articles of the first chapter ; we commence now with the sixth, which is as follows :

“The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either set down expressly in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture; unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.

Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the word ; and there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and the government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the word, which are always to be obeyed.”

The proofs of the three parts of the article are,

“ 1. 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2. Gal. i. 8. But though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you

than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 2 Thess. ii. 2. That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3. St. John, vi. 45. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. 1 Cor. ii. 9, 10, 12. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 1 Cor. . xi. 13, 14. Judge in yourselves : is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered ? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? 1 Cor. xiv. 26, 40. How is it, then, brethren ? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. Let all things be done decently and in order.”

This article is designed to establish the sufficiency of the Scriptures, and to reject the traditions of the Catholic Church, and we should undoubtedly be bound to admit it, if Presbyterians could show conclusively that all was written, and that all not written is necessarily tradition of men. But this, we proved in our former article, by undeniable facts and even by Scripture itself, they do not and cannot show. We also showed that the Scriptural texts which they adduced to prove that the whole word was written prove no such thing, and when adduced for such a purpose are mere mockery, or rather, an imposition attempted on the people. It is not necessary to go anew over the ground we then surveyed ; it is enough for us now simply to examine the additional texts which the Presbyterian divines quote in support of the sufficiency of the Scriptures, and against Catholic tradition.

We remark, in passing, the palpable contradiction which the article just quoted bears on its very face. Its authors evidently felt themselves in an awkward position. They were under the necessity of making the article say, The Scriptures are sufficient, yet something is wanting in them ; they contain every thing, yet still something must be added. For, after asserting that the Scriptures contain the whole counsel of God, every thing necessary unto faith and life, they suppose

that “good and necessary consequences are still to be drawn VOL. III. NO. IV.

56

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »