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knowledge, and he gives them up to a reprobate mind. It also seems to manifest itself in certain forms in all ages. If these forms do not appear for a time, they soon manifest themselves in some other part of the world.
One of the most common and plausible forms of skepticism is founded on the opinion that the world is in a perpetual change, while yet no progress is made. There is a constant flux and reflux; currents and counter-currents ; alternate barbarism and civilization. While the light of freedom goes out on one shore, it is rekindled on another. When one continent has lost the energy of its civilization, and its general spirit languishes, another continent is discovered. When a high degree of refinement has brought along its corresponding vices and degeneracy, then there is a fresh awakening in the ancient seats of learning and civilization. Thus all things change, and yet all things remain as they were from the beginning. Though there may be, at the first view, some plausibility in this theory, yet it wholly overlooks or denies the predictions of the Bible, as well as a great body of facts which have occurred for the last three hundred years.
Another of the common phases of infidelity is pantheism. * By this is understood, according to the most learned doctors of the sect, an infinite substance, comprehending all matter and mind in itself, with the attributes of infinite thought and infinite extension. All that exists is only a necessary succession of modes of being in a substance for ever the same. In certain forms this doctrine has existed in all ages. It derives some countenance from a few popular niodes of expression, and from the perversion of two or three passages of Scripture. It denies a personal God, who is independent of matter and of other beings, and who existed prior to matter and to all other beings. It of course destroys all accountability on the part of man, and renders a future judgment absurd. This is the atheism of philosophers and of reflecting men. If we are not much mistaken, there is no
“Pantheism consists in this, that it considers the all of things, tò mav, or the world in the widest sense, as God, and admits, in its fundamental notion, no other being as separate from him.
Consequently it identifies God and the world.”_ Germ. Convers. Lexicon, Ed. 1837, viii. 259.
inconsiderable tendency to this species of infidelity in some of the most cultivated minds in our country.
Far more common is the doctrine held by some natu. ralists and physicians, that matter, or corporeal substance, is the primitive cause of things, that the soul is a material substance, and that matter itself produces spiritual changes, or that the soul is a consequence of the bodily organization, by which matter is spiritualized and ennobled into mind. This is a species of infidelity which is peculiarly congenial to the vulgar taste, because it is easily comprehended, and does something to pacify an awakened conscience, while it admits the most fervent devotion to its material God.
The skepticism peculiar to our days seems to have sprung from the changes which have been going on in civil society. Previously to the French Revolution, the great mass of the population, in most of the countries of Europe, were sunk in degradation. That great event broke their chains. They soon perceived that they had been the dupes of à villainous priesthood ; that under the pretence of religion, they had cheated them out of every thing which man holds most dear. Of course they cut themselves off from all religious restraint. In their ignorance, or their madness, they confounded the wily priest, his corrupt religion, and Christianity together. In all the papal countries of Europe, the mass of the population, it is said, are either superstitious devotees to popery, or they are infidels. The entrance of a little light induced them to throw aside all religion, and rush into a heartless materialism. This baneful effect is seen elsewhere. The extension of civil privileges in the Protestant countries of Europe may be attended with a disastrous infidelity, unless religious education and the preaching of the gospel should go hand in hand. Men of common sense in the heathen and Mohammedan world, when their eyes are opened to the enormous absurdities of Islamism or Polytheism, are shocked. They are thrown from their balance, and they at once renounce all faith, placing Christianity in the same category with the herd of false religions. This constitutes one of the most interesting phenomena of our age. Could we inspect the hearts of men, we might see millions on the long road from Paris to Calcutta in this fearful transition-state. The movements of the times have caused them to throw off the monstrous absurdities which they could not endure, but
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nothing has come in the place. When the unclean spirit has gone out, they pass through dry places seeking rest and finding none. The sun of righteousness does not arise on their perplexed and uncertain path.
A different form of skepticism is that broached a few years since by Dr. Strauss, of Tubingen, * in Germany, or rather, more boldly, learnedly, and systematically avowed and defended by him, and which, it is said, has a multitude of advocates. It transforms the historical facts of revelation into allegories. It denies the historical truth of the narra. tives of the New Testament, and treats them merely as symbols or fables. Our Saviour is, with Dr. Strauss, the symbol of humanity. Humanity, taken as a whole, is God manifest in the flesh. Eternity exists in this world. It is made up of the infinite succession of human generations. Eternal happiness is the progress by which mind gradually overcomes matter, and causes it to subserve its purposes. The system, if so it can be called, seems to be a mixture of deism, pantheism, and rank atheism.
Unhappily, not a few philosophical minds, that do not embrace any of these absurd and impious dogmas, are very far from coming up to the requisitions of Christianity. They are accustomed to regard this religion as one of the developments of the human mind, as a means of civilization, or as containing a very interesting chapter in the history of the human race. They may go further, and assert that it is indispensable to the repose and prosperity of nations; that every other system has been tried, and found in some points to be defective, while Christianity has as yet stood the test. These philosophical Christians are by no means inconsiderable in number at the present day. They are believers in general, but skeptics in particular. The gospel does not come to them with life-giving power, because they do not feel themselves to be in perishing need of its provisions.t
* We observe that Dr. Strauss has been thrown out of his office at Zurich by the indignant inhabitants of the canton.
† We regret that Mr. Hallam, in his recent very compre. hensive and well-written "Introduction to the Literature of Europe," does not sympathize more deeply with the Lutheran Reformation, and with the recent developments of Christianity.
5. A striking fact pertaining to the present age is the rapid disappearance of the aboriginal tribes of various countries before the progress of what is called civilization. It is a melancholy truth, ihat the intercourse of Europeans and Americans with various uncivilized, aboriginal nations, has been characterized by enormous injustice on the one side, and untold sufferings on the other. By fraud and violence, these so-pamed civilized communities have usurped immense tracts of native territory, paying no regard to the rights of the inhabitants. Close on the process of usurpation has been that of extermination, which has been already carried to an incredible extent. In some cases, the work of annihilation is complete, while, in others, it is making the most fearful progress. There is scarcely a tribe, of any considerable size, that has had communication with large bodies of civilized nations, which is not the worse for the intercourse. Civilized diseases and vices have been so firmly ingrafted, that the utter extirpation of some native races seems to be not far distant.*
One of the most pernicious opinions which is entertained in relation to this subject is, thai the fate of many aboriginal tribes is inevitable. It has been represented as one of the immutable laws of the Governor of the world, that wherever civilized man chooses to fix his abode, there the natives must melt away and be destroyed. But, in the language of the Rev. Dr. Philip, of Capetown, it is not the law of God that civilized man should destroy the natives of those countries which he colonizes. On the contrary, it is the law of wickedness. It is a law proceeding from the depravity of the human heart. “I know no argument," says Dr. P., " which can be adduced in defence of this system, which may not be adduced in defence of theft or murder in England." If all our legislators had been William Penns, and
We should not know, from any thing which he has said, that he was not a liberal, philosophical Jew, or a disciple of Ram Mohun Roy. Surely this is carrying impartiality a little too far.
* We cannot forbear to mention in this connection, the late visit at the Sandwich Islands, of the French frigate l'Artemise, Capt. Laplace. Will not Great Britain and the United States remonstrate?
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all our Christians had possessed the spirit of David Brainerd, this necessity would never have been heard of. The Indians, on this continent, instead of melting away like flakes of snow which fall on the running streani, would have been incorporated with us in the enjoyment of all our rights and privileges, or living by our sides, independent and happy nations. On listening to the recital of the outrageous wrongs, which the people of this country have inflicted on the Indians, and then hearing the story of the ravages which the small-pox, or some other dreadful disorder, has caused in some of the more western tribes, we have thought that the latter had the envied lot. Better for the Mandans and the Black Feet 10 perish by mortal disease, than to come within the limits of civilization. The small-pox is a merciful visitation compared with the whiskey of the frontier, or with a treaty of the Senate of the United States! Destruc. tion by the first-named does not involve us in guilt ; it does not subject us to the vengeance of Heaven—a fiery deluge of which is most surely impending over us, and which may burn us with as scorching a heat as Old Spain has selt in her vitals for her most flagitious and inhuman treatment of this same Indian race.
6. We remark, once more, on the present age as charac. terized by the effusion of the Holy Spirit. It is not impossible but that these displays of Divine grace inay have been too much undervalued by some of their real friends. Modern revivals of Christianity have been compared with - those experienced in other generations, and the degeneracy
of the former have been the subject of mourning and lainentation. But the student of church history need not be informed that the same or similar errors have attended, more or less, all general or national revivals. What seems to be a fresh error or mistake is but a modification of one long since exploded. Lay preaching, censoriousness, selfconfidence, harsh judgments, extravagant speeches, looking for evidence of conversion in transient feelings or impulses, neglect of the wrillen word, and similar follies, have always: sooner or later, to a greater or less extent, attended general revivals of religion. The truth is, that Christians have never yet been able to bear a long.continued Divine influence, be. cause there has ever been a great deficiency in humility.