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were not the offspring of diverse origins, but that God has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the face of the whole earth.–Foreign Review.
Our Oprt Pagr.
TO TIIE EDITOR OF THE DEFENDER.
you have opened a page for all sides of the question, I venture to address you on a subject which I cannot reconcile. Mr. Spurgeon, who represents a large class, and who is creating a great sensation at the present time, has asserted that all men are elected at birth either for bliss or torment, and that one who is born for heaven, however much he may deviate from the right path for a time, must be finally brought into the fold of Christ by the guardian angel destined to watch over him from the commencement of his existence; at the same time the rev. gentleman charges the non-elect with refusing to partake of the eternal glory offered to them, and denounces them accordingly. Without adverting farther to this glaring inconsistency, I will proceed to what appears to me to be equally difficult of comprehension. Mr. Spurgeon's views infer a foreknowledge by the Creator of all future events, and lead to the idea of a system in the Divine government of the universe; if such be the case, the Almighty must have had a definite plan in the formation of the world and its inhabitants, which could not be deviated from, consequently he must have known, and indeed pre-arranged the actions of men, rendering them thus absolute creatures of necessity. Hence what is termed the fall of man, must have been a part of the plan of creation, and if all men through Adam are cursed, then must all men be born expressly and intentionally to be cursed. In support of this theory we are supposed to have prophecies of events which are to take place up to the end of the world. On the other hand, if we look at the Old Testament, it would appear that God is supposed to have no fore: knowledge of events as the promises there held out are all conditional, and only to be fulfilled in the event of man doing as he was commanded. The beginning of Genesis shows this to be the case, for man was promised eternal life if he abstained from eating the fruit of a certain tree, and his disobeying the commandment he had received, frustrated at once all the designs of his maker. This theory, however, destroys the omnipotence of the Almighty by reducing his intellect in a manner to the level of our own, for if he did not know the developments of his own creation, he could have had no plan whatever, and must have left everything to chance. In this way there can be no appointed time for anything, and the prophecies can have no meaning, or at least their fulfilment must be very doubtful.
If the doctrine of election be true, we must throw free-will on one side, and indeed man's free-will under any circumstances appears to be very limited, it is more physical than moral. We may eat, drink, laugh, sing, walk, &c., or refuse to do so, (or at least we appear to be able to do so,) but when the mind is concerned, the case is very different, belief is the result of conviction, and a man cannot believe but according to that conviction which depends moreover almost entirely on circumstances over which he has no control. There are undoubtedly many of the most zealous protestants who would be equally eager in the cause of Roman Catholicism, had they been brought up in it, and learned to regard it in a different light; the same may be observed of Mahometanism, and every other creed. I have known believers in the Trinity become Unitarians, and simply because they were accidentally thrown into the society of persons of that belief; had they never heard of a new faith, they would still have been under the influence of their earlier impressions, consequently every man's be
lief is to a certain extent a mere matter of accident, and its development depends alınost entirely on his associations. It has been asserted that we must believe the Bible simply because it is the Bible, but this argument would apply with equal force to the Koran, or to the Book of Mormon. Moreover it appears very difficult to ascertain precisely what believing the Bible means, for there are immense divisions of opinion among orthodox teachers. Surely, therefore, every one has a right to judge of that Book as he would of every other, and to put that interpretation upon it which he would be forced to do if it were given into his hands for the first time without comment, and he should read it untrammelled by early prepossession. I do not belong to the party called Secularists, nor indeed to any other party, but when I look at the variety of creeds, and denominations, when I observe the discords and dissentions of those professing them, I am forced to the conclusion that Christianity is not the religion to moralize the world, or if it is, there is some radical mistake in the teaching of it.
I am, Sir,
THE FALSEHOODS OF INFIDELITY.
In the published report of the discussion between Mr. Bowes and Mr. Barker, which took place at Stockport, in January last, I find Mr. Barker saying on tke 96th
“Mr. Bowes asks where are our schools? Infidels have some schools. Look at our Mossley school; we have 919 scholars, and they are not taught reading only, but other things. So we have another at Mottram, where we are increasing in numbers."
As I know the above statement to be false; I feel that justice to Christianity and the parties of whom it has been made, demands a public exposure of the untruth which the champion of Infidelity would fain have imposed upon the world, Some years ago the school at Mössley was commenced by persons belonging to all religious denominations in that town, upon the broad principle of Christian toleration; reading and writing being tauglit, religious instruction however having the most prominent place; the Scriptures being used; the school opened and closed with singing and prayer, and twenty minutes during the day set apart for an address of a religious and moral character. Having occasion to be in the neighbourhood of Mossley on Sunday last, I learned from placards on the walls that this same school which is called a “ Christian school,” but which Mr. Barker would have the public to believe is an "Infidel school,” was holding its anniversary services. I attended in the evening and heard an excellent sermon preached by the Rev. Mr. Padenham, of Manchester. The other parts of the services consisted of prayer, reading of the Scriptures, and the singing of select hymns. A statement was made by the preacher, informing the congregation, which was a very large one, that religious instruc tion was given in the school. The collections amounted to upwards of £40; so cheerfully do the people of Mossley, and particularly the working classes contribute for the education of their children in religious principles and useful knowledge generally. I am very much mistaken if the same remarks will not apply to the school at Mottram, referred to by Mr. Barker; so that with Mr. Bowes we still have to ask the opponents of Christianity where are your schools for the training of the young ?
A LOYER OF TRUTH. Newcastle, May 10, 1855.
THE EFFICIENT CATTSE OF HUMAN ACTIONS.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE DEFENDER.
power of the will.
I beg to offer to the notice of your readers the following observations on the letter of Mr. Samuel Coombs, on the self-determinating
The things to be accounted for are human actions. These are so many changes in the state of things as existing, and we are compelled by a necessity of our nature to think these changes as caused. The question is, what is the cause? Mr. Coombs says something exterior to the will; we say, the will itself.
In support of his hypothesis Mr. Coombs refers us to the fact that the inhabitants of Turkey are Mahometans, while those of England are Christians. It is almost needless for me to say that this does not even touch, much less prove, the point in question. What he says is, “Circumstances necessitate man's choice, that is, all living in a Mahometan country must be Mahometans, and all living where Christian influence is prevalent must be Christiane. How does he prove this necessity? By referring us to the fact that Turks are Mahometans, and Englishmen are Christians—that is, a thing must be because it is. But this takes for granted the very thing to be proved, viz., that a man is necessitated to be what he is, that he must do what he does. The thing to be shown is that a Turk must be a Mahometan, and the proof given is, Turks are Mahometans. Before Mr. C. can prove his point he will need to go a step further back, and show, not that a man is what he is, but that a man is what he is because he is necessitated to be so.
Having failed to establish his own hypothesis, he proceeds to demolish, by a reductio ad absurdum' that in which it is stated that the human will is the efficient cause of its own volitions.' He says, 'If the human will is the efficient cause of its own volition, or choice, he (man) can believe in Roman Catholicism, Buddhism, or Atheism. That men can believe in Roman Catholicism, Buddhism, or Atheism is an indisputable fact, for men do believe in each of these systems; at all events in the first two. But if it be meant that man can believe in this or that system just as he pleases, without any reference to evidence, then Mr. C. has again failed to prove his point. In order that a man's ability to believe in Roman Catholicism or in any other 'ism' as he willed, should follow from the statement, the human will is the efficient cause of its own volition,' it is necessary to show that the human will is the efficient cause of human faith, and then again that this will acts arbitrarily, and is guided in its volitions by no law. In other words, it is necessary to show that believing is under the direct governance of the will, for, if it be not, a man may not be able to believe as is stated. But Mr. C. does not attempt to do this : and it so happens that faith is not under the direct governance of the will, whose power is only extended as far as to the
attending to evidence. A man, therefore, cannot believe Roman Catholicism, Buddhism, or Atheism as he pleases, even though the will be the efficient cause of its own volitions.
It is not to be wondered at that our friend's proof fails to carry him to the point at which he aims, for no possible reasoning can prove such a hypothesis as that laid down by him. It is opposed to human consciousness -and to prove it would be to prove the untruthfulness of consciousness, the falsity of human nature, and that the Creator is a deceiver. All the subtleties of speculative philosophy can never rob a man of the conviction that he is a free agent, an originator of acts. Human action all asserts man's freedom-to deny it is to blot out three-fourths of human life. Human languages, the true representatives of human thought, are made on the supposition that man's will is not necessitated,
We recommend to the notice of Mr. Coombs the following difficulties, which attach themselves to his position :
1. We are necessitated to think every change as caused. If, then, human actions, which are changes, are not caused by the will itself, by what are they caused ? If it be answered by circumstances, we reply, these are themselves changes, and must therefore also be caused. What, then, is their cause? And what again the cause of this cause--and of all the line of causes ? It must either be admitted that there exists a being the same for ever-unchanging, and therefore not under the necessity of being caused-that is, a God, who is the author of all sin, the committer of all crimes, the real murderer, thief, adulterer; or we must ascend the interminable links of an illogical and atheistical eternal series; or suppose again as illogically and atheistically that things have no cause at all.
2. If the human will be necessitated by circumstances, man is not a moral being, he never does right, and cannot do wrong. Justice is a fiction, and the legislature acts most unreasonably in punishing tlie thief or murderer, and in rewarding the honest and industrious.
3. If the human will be not the efficient cause of its own volitions, civil government is impossible. It only exists in so far as man is supposed to be a cause of his own actions. Deny this, and you remove the very foundation of civil government, you dethronę moral law, and unnerve the arm of justice.
THE LATEST ATOMIC THEORY.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE DEFENDER.
In making a dash at the Secular Sonnet, it appears that I made a “full stop" too soon-1 ought to have dash'd on to the end of the “peroration." I assure the philosopher-poet that I am sorry I did not quote his dash as well as his nonsense, and that I contented myself with giving but half his absurdity, though, from a certain point of view, I am glad, since it has given scope to the sonnetteer's faculty of prosing nonsense, as well as putting it in verse. he has graciously invited the “lively?' Atom to punctuate" as he does, I gladly accept the challenge
The noble dead still move the noble heart; [:]
I protest that I do "not seek atomic theories in the peroration of a sonnet.” I found the latest atomic theory in much the same manner as gold-linders get gold, by picking it up where they see it. I shall no more attempt to prove that there is an atomic theory in this so-called "peroration" than, that at mid-day, in a cloudless sky, the sun is shining.
" Not ignorantly or wantonly mangle my sentences to suit himself.” What do his sentences mean? If "the noble dead still move the noble heart," we expect, according to the atomic theory, that, " in the steadfast hearts of freemen,” they do " live again. And if the "atoms” of “the noble dead" "wander to the kindred soul,” of course they will "avoid the herd of wealthy seryile men." Thus in the first and fourth sentences we have identity of nonsense. In the second and third sentences we have identity of nonsense. Hence, in quoting the two first sentences, I gave the meaning of the whole, and therefore I am not guilty of mangling his doggrel to suit myself. “ Make nonsense of that, and I will tell him that no atoni of the noble dead is in his composition.” Again I protest that I did not make the nonsense, KWEXÆ made it-posted it to the north-I am but the finder. Consequently, tested by his own exquisite rule, “no atom of the noble dead is in his composition.”.
How does it happen that the world is as bad as it is ? According to the secu-lar sonnetteer there are atoms Miltonic, Newtonian, Owenite, and, not to name the endless variety, another queer sort, named KWEXÆ. All thege atoms once, in the begining of the world's development, existed as a fortuitous concourse. By and by, in true sectarian spirit, atom began to unite with kindred atom ;-thus were formed poets, philosophers, communistic babblers and machines for writing verse-minus poetry. Good, noble atoms, avoiding the herd of wealthy servile men--" Bad atoms, having no sympathy with the goud. So the world is as it is, and so it must continue to be, until we have an importation of more generous atoms than hitherto. Even now we think there is something of this intermixture of good and bad going ori, producing that middling sort of thing never heard of betore, viz.---a secularist. Such is Nature! “Nature is the mother of the secularist.” All honour to the man who vindicates the rights of his mother.
I remain, yours respectfully,
AN ATOM. Melbourne Street, Gateshead, May 7th, 1855.
THE MIRACLES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
Do the miraculous accompaniments that attended the first introduction of Christianity prove it to be from heaven ?
It is as much the duty of the rejectors of the Bible to answer the evidence that is brought forward in its favour as it is the duty of believers to produce that evidence. It is not enough that infidels place the Bible on the same level with other merely human works; they must show that, as a human production, it is utterly unworthy of credence; for, if they give to it the same authority that they give to other human works, they admit what will be fatal to their
For if its testimonies are to be credited as much as Gibbon, Pliny, Tacitus, or any other historian of antiquity, I ask what do infidels make of the miracles that are recorded by New Testament writers? We have the combined and independent testimony of several witnesses that Christ lived and wrought many miracles in his day, that he opened the eyes of the blind, raised the dead, cured the deaf, cleansed those that were leprous, and that he did those things publicly in the presence of his enemies--as in the case of Lazarus, the widow of Nain's son, blind Bartimeus, and others. I ask infidels to account for these facts. Infidels of the old school would do so by stating that they were all impostors and deceivers ; but, in these days of progress, intidels are inclined to admit the truthfulness of Christian teachers. Here, then, they unthinkingly get themselves into a dilemma ; for, if the New Testament writers are not impostors, but truthful men, who wrote what they saw and heard, then are we not to believe their testimony concerning Christ, when they speak of him in regard to matters of fact, of things that occurred during his life-time and after his death, how that he rose from the dead? Now these things the infidel must admit, if he is consistent with himself, and, if admitted, do they not prove that Jesus was divine, and that Christianity is from God ?
And, further, if the apostles were not inspired men, how do infidels account for the great change that took place on the day of Pentecost? They were