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magnetism were sufficient to explain, and account for, the miracles of the Saviour. If this assertion were not true, it would, of course, be properly met, either by a careful investigation, showing that the facts had been misapprehended, or misrepresented, or by admitting the facts, and showing the inconsequence of the inferences which had been drawn from them. But neither of these methods was employed. The facts indeed were denied, not, however, for want of evidence, but simply because they had been made, (whether reasonably or not, was never inquired), the occasion of such inferences; thus tacitly admitting, that, if the premises were true-if the facts were proved--the conclusions would legitimately follow. In other words, believers in revelation themselves took the ground, that if there be any truth in’animal magnetism, Christianity must be wholly without foundation.
But let the existence of the mesmeric power, and the truth of the facts alleged, if fairly substantiated, be admitted, and what bearing has it all upon the truth of Christianity ? Or what relation has it to the miracles of the Saviour? Certainly, none at all, until this power shall have restored to life, one who had lain four days in the grave. When this is done, it will be time enough to consider the subject. And if it should be done, it then remains to be shown, that our faith need suffer any shock.
Or, if failing of such success, it should still be affirmed, that the power of the Saviour was the same in kind, though different in degree; this remains to be proved. And, if it were proved, it could occasion no reasonable uneasiness. For how could it weaken our confidence in the Saviour, to learn that he possessed a power in common with us, but in an infinitely higher degree? We do not admit, by any means, that the power is the same; or that the facts of animal magnetism, if all is true that is alleged, furnish any approximation whatever to the miracles of the Saviour. They are as far removed from the works of Him, 6 who commanded the winds and the sea, and they obeyed Him," as the puny strength of man is from the Omnipotence of Jehovah.
Not even the mathematical sciences have escaped the charge of dangerous tendency. The doctrine of probabilities, besides being charged with encouraging gambling, has borne the imputation of atheism, because it employs the term chance !* Its sole tendency, in regard 10 gambling, is, to demonstrate the ruinous nature of the practice. It shows us, that if men gamble on perfectly equal terms, one or the other will, ordinarily be ruined; and that, if the terms are unequal, as in the case of the fare bank, roulette, and the lottery, the party, on whose side is the
disadvantage, as the individual against the bank, or the lottery scheme, will, if he persist in the practice, infallibly be ruined; nay, that, if two individuals with very unequal fortunes play together, the one that has least capital will, in all probability, lose the whole. Surely this is not very encouraging, and would hardly induce men of sense, who understand these results, to engage in an employment, whose end is certain destruction. And, if any, who do not understand the teachings of the science, are led, by false notions of its doctrines, to indulge unfounded hopes of success, it is, in that case, as in many others, not the knowledge, but ignorance of science; not truth, but error, which does the mischief.
The charge of atheism is of a different character, and rests on the fact, that the word chance is so much employed in the investigation of this science. It is assumed, that, when we inquire, what is the chance of the happening of a certain event, we affirm, that it is caused to happen by mere chance. But this cause of offence is entirely removed, when it is understood, that by the term chance, we mean merely the probability that an event may, or may not happen. The probability, the chance, that an event will, or will not happen, is considered as referring solely to our minds, and not to any absence of a cause, as we shall see. *
Suppose an event occur in nature, of which the cause is utterly unknown; we have no reason to form any conjecture, whether the same event will occur again under any given circumstances, or at any given time. But, suppose it to occur repeatedly, under certain circumstances, or at stated intervals, we then say that the chance, that is, the probability of its occurring again, is increased. But this certainly could not be inferred, unless the happening of the event depended on some fixed cause, or was in accordance with some determinate law. And, just in proportion as the chances of the repetition of the event are multiplied, in that same proportion, we become convinced of the existence of such a cause or law.
In fact, the existence of the science of Probabilities depends on the supposition; that events will continue to occur as they have heretofore occurred; and this, its own reasonings demonstrate, cannot be expected, or even believed, unless the current of events be directed by some controlling power. Moreover Hume's argument in respect to miracles is directly met and refuted by this science, and it is absolutely demonstrated that the restoration of a dead man to life is far less improbable, than the concurrence of even a small number of independent witnesses in a false statement. * Thus Hume's boasted argument is proved
* Babbage, Ninth Bridgewater Treatise
to be nothing but mere assertion; and an assertion too, not only false, but absurd.
Thus we see, that, in no case, where any science has been studied so thoroughly as to be settled upon a firm basis, has any ill consequence resulted from it. We have seen every science, in its turn, either confirming the teachings of Scripture, as understood, or leading us to the true understanding of what had been before misapprehended. We have seen the true sense of Scripture, in no instance, contradicted by the real teachings of nature. And yet we have seen doctrines of science, once believed to be diametrically opposed to doctrines of revelation, afterwards proved, beyond all possibility of doubt, to be true; and that too, without, in any respect, weakening the confidence of any one in the truth, or the divine origin of the Bible.
The inference, then, is obvious, that those sciences, which are not yet sufficiently mature to give satisfactory testimony, will, so far as they come in contact with revelation, perfectly agree with its true sense. And, should new sciences spring up, or new fields of inquiry be opened in respect to sciences already established, we may have the utmost confidence, that they too will be perfectly accordant with Christianity. Indeed, the calculation of chances would show an almost infinite improbability of a different result. And this too, reasoning merely from the number of instances in which science has been already found to agree with revelation, without any reference to the divine origin, or established truth of Christianity. In other words, if the Bible made no claim to be a revelation from God, and were sustained by no direct evidence of its truth, yet, from its having been corroborated by every branch of science, which has hitherto come in contact with it, we should be irresistibly led to the conclusion, that no new department of science would show any opposition to it. A system, which is consistent with all known truth, cannot be supposed to be in danger from truths not yet discovered.
But we are not left to mere inference from the past, or to rest on analogy, which, after all, may possibly fail. We are not left to infer the truth of the Bible from its conformity to the teachings of science. This conformity may indeed strengthen the confidence of wavering minds, but Christianity, like its Author, does not receive its chief testimony from men. Like a legal record, “it is of so high a nature, that it shall be proved only by itself.”
We may say, (surely all, who would grieve to think otherwise, will assent to the proposition,) we may say, "The Bible is true; it is the word of God; we know it.” As its Author does not "borrow leave to be," so his word does not borrow leave to be true.
If now the Bible is thus absolutely true, why should we care what else is true? If the Bible be true, no other truth can render it false; and, on the other hand, if the Bible be false, the falsehood of no other systems, whether consistent or inconsistent with it, can render it true. This is the view most naturally sug. gested by revelation itself, which, while it asks no support, and deprecates no attack from science, does not, on the other hand, turn aside from its own purpose, to teach or to oppose scientific truth. It leaves the mind free to pursue its own investigations, with no hint of danger in any path that traverses, in any direction, the boundless empire of Truth. Nay, it encourages the most thorough examination of the works of its Almighty Author, distinctly taking the ground, that the more thoroughly we make ourselves acquainted with them, the more clearly we shall discern the handiwork of Jehovah ;—the more benefit we shall receive.
This is certainly the reasonable and common sense view of the subject : for our conduct must be governed, and our interests determined, by reference to the actual circumstances in which we are placed. Our belief must be in accordance with these circumstances, or we must, some time or other, cease to believe what we now do. And, if any particular article of belief is opposed to truth, denying that opposition will certainly not remove it. We see no possible advantage, that an honest man can gain by adhering to an opinion in opposition to the truth, or by remaining ignorant of any truth, which is inconsistent with his present views. That truth exists, whether he knows and admits it, or not; and any opinion, or principle of action, inconsistent with that truth, is no less false and illusory, because he refuses to believe the truth, or to acknowledge his want of conformity to it. And, if our expectations of happiness are formed
, in view of certain supposed facts or commonly received opinions, which are, in reality, false, our expectations will none the less disappoint us, though we rely ever so firmly on our knowledge of the facts, or persist ever so strongly in our cherished opinions. Arsenic, however strongly we may assert and believe its nutritious wholesomeness, is still a deadly poison.
But while truth, of which we are ignorant, as utterly condemns and futilizes our opinions and conduct, as if it were perfectly known to us, still, if that same truth might, when known, render us important service, we can derive no advantage from it while unknown, or unacknowledged. In other words, ignorance of truth may be injurious, but cannot be beneficial; and, on the other hand, knowledge of the truth may benefit, but cannot harm. What reason then, can be assigned for the so frequent dread of truth, unless it be the fact, that "men love darkness rather than light ?"
But this certainly ought not to be the reason for the opposition
of Christians to truth, or for their fear of it. They profess to love light,-to rejoice in the knowledge of the truth. What truth then shall they fear? or why should they fear it ?
Do they fear the inconsistency of certain doctrines with the truths of Christianity? But will this inconsistency, if it exist, be removed, or in the slightest degree, diminished, by denying the truth of the dangerous doctrines, or by denouncing as heretics, those who receive them? If any doctrine, inconsistent with the truth of Christianity, be really true, will the integrity and value of Christianity be preserved, by shutting our eyes against the truth, and believing that we are resting on a rock, while we are, in fact, building on treacherous sand?
We do not mean, for a moment, to admit the possibility of such a contradiction between the truths of science, and the real doctrines of the Bible. But men, and Christian men too, evidently have admitted such a possibility; and, one would think from the frequent expressions of alarm, and of anxiety on that account, they have thought there was a strong probability of such an op. position. This anxiety and alarm displays a great appearance of zeal for the Bible, and makes an imposing show of "contending earnestly for the faith;" but it, at the same time, discovers a sad want of confidence in the declarations of Scripture, as well as ignorance of the nature of human belief, and of the principles of scientific evidence. Ignorant of the nature of human belief, and of the principles of scientific evidence, certainlyîmust he be, who thinks by an arbritary mandate, to crush belief which rests upon sufficient evidence. Our minds are so constituted, that a sufficient amount of evidence is necessary to belief; and, on the other hand, belief is the necessary, the inevitable consequence of a proper degree of evidence. If to a mind capable of appreciating evidence, and willing to give it its weight, a certain amount of evidence be exhibited, in favor of any proposition, that mind can no more avoid believing that proposition, than it can avoid believing its own existence. Now, what can be more preposterous, then, without pointing out any fallacy in the reasoning by which that proposition is maintained, and without offering any rebutting testimony to require men to disbelieve what the law of their nature, the conditions of their being and intellectual activity, compel them to believe, merely because we deem it inconsistent with some generally received doctrine, or with the meaning generally attached to some passage of Scripture ?
Suppose the celebrated proposition, respecting the squares described on the sides of a right angled triangle, were pronounced inconsistent with some passage of Scripture, and one, who felt the force of the demonstration, were required, on account of that inconsistency, to disbelieve the proposition: might he not properly reply—“Whether the inconsistency, of which you speak, does