Page images

anatomical facts from accurate observation, and which presents the author in a very honorable contrast with most of the other naturalists of antiquity. While the other philosophers of the age scorned to investigate the actual structure of natural objects, he seems to have dissected many animals, and illustrated them by drawings as well as descriptions.

If we would do full justice to the genius of Aristotle, we must remember that this same nice observer, and accurate writer in Natural History, is also the author of a system of Logic so perfect that, in the language of Kant, “Logic has neither advanced nor receded a step, since the days of Aristotle.”

But the loftiest powers fall from the sublime to the ridiculous, when they attempt impossibilities. If the reader would see a striking illustration of this, and at the same time enjoy a hearty laugh, let him read over a summary of the contents in Tauchpitz's or any other good edition of the Physics, and observe what Aristotle's ideas were of the proper province of physical science. Then open at any page and see how ingeniously he handles his shadowy topics—with what sober earnestness he argues about entities and quiddities, or rather nonentities and nihilities—and with what magic skill he conjures up spectres and then conjures them down again! Turn, for instance, to the chapter on Time, and read the following argument on the question, whether it belongs to the category of existences or non-existences: That it does not exist at all, he says, or that it can hardly be said to exist, one might readily presume. For part of it has been, and so exists no longer; another part is to be, and so does not yet exist. And of these parts time unlimited and successive is made up. . But that which is made up of non-existences, can hardly be said to partake of existence! Besides, if any thing divisible into parts exists, it must needs be that, when it exists, some or all of its parts exist. But of the parts into which time is divisible, some bave been and others will be, but none of them is. For the present is not a part, for a part is always a measure of the whole, and the whole is made up of its parts; THIRD SERIES, VOL. 11. NO. I.


but the present is not a measure of all time, nor is all time made up of presents.

Again, in regard to the now, which seems to separate between the past and the future, it is no easy matter to determine, whether it is always one and the same now or an · unlimited succession of different ones. If we suppose an unlimited succession of different ones, then, since different nows cannot coexist, each former now must have perished. But if it has perished, it must have perished at some time, and of course either in itself or in some other now. But it could not have perished in itself, for then it was existing. Neither could it have perished in some other now, for in that case, the two nows must have coexisted and been one and the same now !! Equally absurd and impossible is it to suppose that the now remains always one and the same. For the now is the limit or boundary line of time; and time, like every thing else that is finite and divisible, has more than one limit or bounding line !!!

But enough of these abstractions. We think our readers will all agree, that the now we live in is a very different one from that in which Aristotle did battle so valiantly with these spectres! The times have greatly altered since such demonstrations were deemed conclusive, or such speculations thought to have any thing to do with physical science.



By. Rev. John McClintock, Professor in Dickinson College, Pa.

Appeal from Tradition to Scripture and Common Sense ; or

an answer to the question, What constitutes the Divine Rule of Faith and Practice? By GEORGE Peck, D.D. New-York : Methodist Episcopal Press. 1644.*

LORD Bacon believed that in his age men might devote themselves to good learning, because they had “ consumed all that can be said in controversies of religion, which do so much to divert them from other sciences." Had be foreseen the future in this matter, as well as in many others, he would have put in a saving word or two.

All has been said, perhaps, in controversies of religion, that can he either new or true ; but as for the mere faculty of saying, -of sorging new lies, and revamping old ones--of uttering words without knowledge to darken counsel,-men bave it in full perfection in this nineteenth century. And the very controversy which, of all others perhaps, the great philosopher thought to be most fully settled,—the controversy of the Church and the Scriptures, the Tabernacle and the Testimony, the husk and the kernel,-—is as fiercely waged now, as it had been in the century preceding his own, when the storm swept over all lands, and bore down, in its impetuous course, the massive fabrics of falsehood, which ages of priestcraft had so toilsomely built up on the sands of superstition. In the nineteenth century we have to fight over again the battles of the sixteenth ; and, to say truth, with this disadvantage, that we have to contend not merely with open enemies but with treacherous friends. The enemy is in our own camp. There

The article would have appeared soon after the publication of Dr. Peck's book, but for the long continued illness of the author.

are men bearing the name of Protestant, who use the influence of that name to give force to Romish weapons ;-who get their bread and their character in a church whose foundations they are laboring to undermine. There are not wanting now, to quote Lord Bacon again, " a kind of persons which love the salutation of Rabbi, Master; not in ceremony or compliment, but in an inward authority which they seek over men's minds, in drawing them to depend upon their opinions, and to seek knowledge at their lips.” In fact, this is an age of hot theological controversy. Nor is this so bad an omen as some suppose.

“ There is a stirring and farheard music sent forth by the tree of sound knowledge when its branches are waving in the storm." If there is not peace in an age when the winds of controversy are abroad, there is at least life. The present activity of the Church of England, bad as is the direction which much of it has taken, is better than the torpid, or even ghastly formality of former ages in its history. The ghosts of old errors are revived, it is true,—but they will be laid again : and, in the mean time, living men will have been startled from their slumbering propriety. In this, as in all other controveries, truth has nothing to fear, but cowardly supporters ; and even this danger in the present instance is over, for her champions have started up at the sound of the trumpet, with bold hearts for the combat, and with strong arms to wield their well-forged weapons. But it is not to be denied that the use of these weapons has been forgotten by too many; and herein will be found one of the good results of the present warfare, that men will be trained again to use them, and perhaps better than ever.

We do not share, then, in the fears of those who find, in the renewal of the great controversies of the Reformation, ground of apprehension for the real welfare of the church. Out of this general activity great good will come. Men will be led to take deeper views of church government and church authority, than they have ever done before. The Idea of the church, which, after all, is the central question in the present controversies, will be brought out boldly before many

minds that have conceived it heretofore only vaguely and indistinctly. The study of antiquity, always an ennobling one when righuy followed, will take its proper place among the pursuits especially of clergymen; and in its strong light they will see how weak a thing human judgment is, whether the private judgment of unlearned individuals or the collective judgment of grave and reverend doctors, synods and councils. True Protestantism has no fear of antiquity ; not, although she refuses that blind reverence which believes every old doctrine of theology to be true, does she deny, on the other hand, that every true doctrine is old. That Protestants, at least many of them, have gone too far in isolating the present history of Christianity from the past, and in rejecting, or rather Deglecting, the witness which Christ has left of himself in all ages among his people, is too plain a fact to be denied. But the true spirit of Protestantism is not the ephemeral thing which some suppose it to be ; it is not the spirit peculiarly of the nineteenth, the sixteenth, or any other century; but the spirit of humble trust in the Revelation of God, as the guide to all truth, and of Faith in Christ as the ground of all salvation. It is not a mere negative Rationalism, elevating human reason into the seat of God, on the one hand, nor a babbling and persecuting Fanaticism, substituting feeling for faith, on the other; not a gloomy asceticism, crushing man's will and passions ; nor a lawless licentiousness, emancipating them from all control ; but an humble consecration of will and sense, of feeling and reason, the devotion of all without the destruction of either, upon the sole altar which Christianity admits, the lowly altar of the heart, on which each single Christian, himself a Priest unto God through Christ, offers up the “living sacrifice" which God demands of all men, as their “ reasonable service."

Nor yet does Protestantism, as its revilers say, in thus denying that there can be any intervention between man and his Maker, except the one Mediator, cut off individual men from fellowship with each other and nullify the Church of Christ. In Christ believers are one, and in Christ alone. As CHRIST

« PreviousContinue »