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longing to man. It is this which, together with conscience, distin guishes him from the brute creation. This faculty is a divine, truth-seeing reason. Man appears to me in a new light, belonging to a higher or y der of beings, since I have studied him as he is. He is associated in my mind with celestial beings, rather than with creeping things. This view of man affects all his moral relations. It sets aside, or rather rises superior to all that endless cal. culation and argument about God, conscience, religion, which for cen
Mr. B. I can heartily respond to much which you say. And certainly man needs to have his attention turned more to those great facts relating to his spiritual nature. But you will pardon me if I call your attention more particularly to some things which you have stated. This higher faculty of reason which you claim as so great a discovery in mental science, and which you glory in as a distinguishing feature of your sys tem, I believe to be important, but
he left man, like the brute, at the
can not see to be new.
Mr. A. It is as old as Plato and Abraham. But for centuries men have lost sight of it. We claim only that we have found what had been lost. Practically it is a new discovery, though the time was when the great truths which this faculty reveals animated and inspired the greatest minds.
Mr. B. But I can see nothing in this which has not been recognized, and which is not now recognized in some form by those whom you would hesitate to call disciples of your school. You have justly laid more stress upon this faculty, I will admit, than has been usually done; but how can you claim it to be a new discovery, even in the sense you have stated? Has not every enlightened moralist and Christian preacher advocated the idea that truth and falsehood, right and wrong, are, in their very nature, eternally
separate? How can this have escaped you, when, for example, you have read the argument in favor of the Christian religion drawn from the nature of its doctrines? How repeatedly has it been asserted that the mind is such a thing that it sees and knows many of these doctrines to be true?-that man is compelled, from the nature God has given him, to assent to the rightfulness and the righteousness of the precepts of the gospel? It has ever been claimed that the fundamental precepts of moral conduct are so plain that the fool need not err, and the heathen are without excuse. When the spirit of infidelity, coursing up and down the page of revelation, has sought some weak point at which to commence its sacrilegious work, where has it alighted? Upon the fundamental doctrines and precepts of Christian ity? By no means. And why? Because infidelity itself has been forced to acknowledge this citadel impregnable. The leading doctrines of the gospel mankind have felt to be true. They appeal directly to the soul, conscience, reason, the whole inner man, and, except in a strait of desperation, the infidel has not dared to lay his hands upon these truths, but has made his attacks upon some apparent discrepancies in the chronology of Moses, or points alike insignificant, know ing that the common sense and reason of the world would cry out against him, if he assailed the love, the benevolence, the humility, the charity, the forgiveness, the repentance, enjoined in the gospel. When infidelity has denied the validity of the evidence in favor of revelation, and inferred that man is under no obligation to practice the virtues there enjoined, what has been our reply? Why, that proof or no proof on this point, there was still another ground of obligation, one which it could not gainsay, viz. the testimony of man's reason and conscience to the truthfulness of the practical doctrines Vol. I.
contained in the Bible. Hence in various forms and relations we have always held to a truth-seeing and duty-knowing faculty in man.
Mr. A. But you have confounded it with the understanding, which can never see either spiritual or universal truths, but has to do only with the senses. And thus you have subjected all classes of ideas to the scrutiny of the logic of the understanding, which has led to questioning and denying every thing, to throwing religious and sensual truths into the same category, producing endless confusion.
Mr. B. Why not elucidate this matter of the reason and the understanding thus:-Looking upon the mind as a unit, and not a medley of separate faculties, we say, the mind, when acting in one capacity, judges; in another, remembers; in another, imagines; in another, wills, and so on. It is the whole mind, acting in its various directions and capacities, that gives rise to this dis tinction of faculties. Now when we speak of the understanding and reason as separate faculties, or as heading two different classes of mental operations, we mean no more than that the mind, as one active agent, occupied with one class of objects, or in one capacity, is called the understanding; in another capacity, or acting upon a different class of objects, is called reason. Take an example given by one of your own writers to illustrate this distinction: We draw a triangle, and by exami nation find its angles equal to two right angles. This is a discovery of the understanding. Now the understanding would never see that all triangles must have their angles equal to two right angles; but the reason sees this universal truth. Very well. It is the mind, dropping any particular triangle, which grasps a fact common to all such figures. It is the understanding, say you, which is occupied upon the natural sciences, in classifying men, ani
mals, vegetables, minerals, &c. into genera and species; but it is the reason which sees those facts common to all of the same genus or species. But the whole mind is occupied in all this; and those who never heard of the distinction between the understanding and the reason, recognize both these powers of the mind.
Mr. A. But what the reason does here is quite an unimportant part of its official work, compared with what it does in the higher sphere of spiritual truth. The understanding would indeed make blundering work any where, without some aid from the reason. It is only a kind of intellectual hopper, which the senses furnish with grain, and by means of a little grinding power of the reason, it is enabled to furnish flour well bolted, bagged, and ready for use. But while the reason assists the understanding in manufacturing these materials of the senses, its peculiar province is to know God, virtue and religion, and here it receives no aid, but is hindered in its operations by the senses and the understanding. You have tried to make the intellec. tual mill grind spiritual things as well as material. You have set the senses laboriously to work to fill the hopper with their coarse grains, arguments for a God, a soul, a Christianity, a religion,-then hoisted the gate, and with deafening screakings and monotonous scrannel pipings, you have produced-meal? the driest unsavory bran, and nothing more, say most, and then you fall to disputing with them whether it is bran or meal. Is it wonderful that none but dyspeptics will partake of such a questionable dish? Not only is there a radical distinction between these two faculties, but it is of the utmost importance to a spiritual religion that it be maintained.
Mr. B. I have no objection to the distinction; I deem it important; but I can not sympathize with your objection to employing the
mind, the whole mind, or any one of its faculties, in discussing reli gious topics. Religion, say you, is not the province of the understand. ing, but of the reason. Well, if of the reason, then of the mind in the exercise of reason.
Mr. A. Yes! but man has a soul, and you would leave him nothing but a fragment of intellect, to be occupied indifferently, either upon a piece of carpentry, the different methods of cookery, or a system of religion. What faculty, in your metaphysics, is it, by which a man is thrown into raptures by the beau ties of nature, the inspirations of the poet, or contemplations of the godlike? You would secularize every thing, and look cool as an icicle, upon the face of beauty, or the wonders of a wonder-working God! Your philosophy has so be numbed your spiritual nature, that you can not even talk upon this subject. You remind me of the clodpole who grunted out-"pshaw! what's the use of those weeds," as he saw a lovely damsel weaving a bouquet. Standing under the roar of Niagara, your only thought would be, whether the position were eligi ble for a sawmill. You must change your whole method of thinking, and look with a different eye upon the universe, before you can see all that is visible to man's divine reason.
The reason is a faculty quite dif ferent from the logical power, by which one gets the better of an op ponent in an argument. It directly sees, and at the same time feels the truth, and beauty, and goodness, of all things. True, mind is essen. tially the same in all men; yet upon almost every subject how va ried are men's opinions; and upon no subject do their speculations dif fer more widely than upon religion. And not their opinions only, but their feelings and whole spiritual nature differ entirely. Of the millions who cultivate the earth, or of the less numerous but more favored
class of mere consumers, few, like Burns, are alive to the beauty and infinity of its forms. He saw more in the thistle at his door-stone, than others would see in traversing the whole of leafy India. The soul of one is thrilled with the music of the spheres, while thousands stare at the heavens with the stupidity of the ox. The language of devotion is uttered by every tree, flower, and running brook, but seldom is there an ear to hear, and a heart to feel. Yet the tympanum of all ears is of the same construction; dissect men, and you will find the heart, ventricles, veins, and arteries, the same in all. Why then, you may as well reason, is there such difference in the hearing and feeling of living men? Why this deafness, blindness, insensibility, in some-while others, in the same outward condition, see, hear, and feel sensitively? The only answer is, after abating much for different natural endow ments, most men look at every thing through the eye of the understanding, rather than through the eye of reason. I maintain, that all possess the godlike faculty of discerning religious truth, but they neglect to use it. They must argue every point; call councils and diets to weigh evidence, and by a majority of votes, put the matter beyond dispute, decide what is orthodox, and what men shall believe upon due pains and penalties. Hence to-day, this is sound doctrine; to-morrow, the mail arrives bringing intelligence from some such ecclesiastical debating club, that if you continue to believe it, you shall be hung, and no mass said for your soul. The fact has been entirely overlooked, that the understanding is not adapted to the discovery of truth in things spiritual. Men have endeavored to settle points in religion, as they settle questions about railroads and banks, and thus the faith of the church has changed with every fresh breeze of eccle
siastical discussion. Notwithstand ing the infallibility of popes and prelates, the orthodox and the heterodox have changed places some hundred times. And as long as men disregard or overlook the inner light of reason, and place religion and Christianity among the subjects of debate, so long will these shiftings of belief continue.
Mr. B. Did it belong to the object of our present discussion, I would attempt quite a different solution of this change in religious belief. You seem to grant that reason has been recognized as a mental faculty. I claim, that appeals have ever been made to it in the search for truth, and particularly in the examination of scripture doctrines.
Mr. A. Why then those volumes of arguments, a priori and a posteriori, to prove that there is a God, a Christianity, even a religion in the universe? Why have not your Christian philosophers pointed men directly to the facts of a religion as they exist, and can be known to exist in the bosom of every man, as they would point them to the existence of any objects of vision, and there leave them, taking it for granted that these facts were seen? Instead of this, they have debated all these points as problematical; God's very existence has been left a peradventure, and all truth and duty disputable. So far from turning the mind in upon itself that it might see truth, and feel the infinite weight of duty, you have only led it to question whether they are realities. I am willing to concede that some minds have recognized a reason superior to the understanding. It is too obvious to be overlooked by those who think deeply. Still, this distinction has, to the infinite detriment of truth, been disregarded.
Mr. B. These points have been discussed that the mind might be turned to them. Argument affects the mind in reference to a thousand
things concerning which there is really no disbelief. When the sceptic, one starry night, was dealing out his atheistic notions to Napoleon, and Napoleon looked up and asked, "Who made all these then?" there was an argument, virtually the whole argument, for the existence of a God. Now I ask, where was the harm of such a reply? Every thinking mind has seasons of doubt ing almost every thing which has been considered matter of settled belief. As some of your own philosophers have said, no one has thought sufficiently to be a metaphysician, who has not thought to doubting. Now the mind rights itself at such times by evidence, internal or external, of the reason or of the understanding, I care not which, I approve of both.
Mr. A. If men had been rightly educated, taught to look within rather than without, made acquainted with their own powers and the proper method of viewing subjects, they would escape those doubts.
Mr. B. Will you then grant that, under existing circumstances, it is better to continue the discussion?
Mr. A. By no means. Nothing is gained, while much is lost. The man who needs to be convinced of religious truth by the deductions of logic, though his language and outward conduct may be somewhat changed by such conviction, still remains the same at heart. He is no more spiritual. He is still destitute of genuine faith. His religion continues a mere matter of calculation, embodied in outward forms, and not in the rapt emotions of a spiritual life. Much is lost, for while we continue to argue upon those fundamental, intuitive truths, they will continue to be disputed. It is appalling to think to what a depth of spiritual degradation the sensual philosophy of our age has sunk us. We have been led to question whether we have souls even; the being of a God denied;
faith, except in things which can be seen and handled, rooted from the heart, and duty reduced to a mere problem in the rule of loss and gain. Let us stop this low and false argumentation at once; for better have no metaphysics, than to continue in this way. Why, only reflect! How have you attempted to convince men that they should be religious? By showing that religion is useful! On your system, men are told they had better have religion, for reasons like those which induce them to buy an article of furniture, or a meal of victuals—it will do them good! Really, how such motives can consist with virtue, I can not see. Does not every thief, for the time being, reason that his theft will profit him? And is this same scoundrel a good man, when, convinced his gains will be greater, he ceases to steal and begins to pray? The possession of a Spanish galleon laden with Peruvian mines could not offer such rewards to the pirate, as Paley offers him if he will be religious. Strange that any one should have overlooked the self-evident truth, that, properly speaking, there can be no virtue in acting from such motives. Self must be annihilated, denied as the gospel of Christ hath it, and Right, Truth, Goodness, seen, felt, and followed for their own sake, in order that we may be holy. Turn the minds of men in upon them. selves, make them see their divine nature and exercise their divine reason, and let them act in a manner worthy of happiness.
Mr. B. This is the very thing we endeavor to do. We preach the doctrine-would we could do it in thunder tones, that men should obey the truth, and be virtuous because this is right. That duty should be done for duty's sake. "Justitia fiat, ruat cœlum❞—let justice be done, though the heavens should fall. No danger, nor suffer. ing, nor glory, nor gain, nor pleas