« ПретходнаНастави »
examination, arrived at the conclusion that the origin of the finite could not be found within the region of finitude. The theory that the sun was not altogether without a cause, but that it formed the chariot of an ever-youthful god, whose smile was the sunshine that yellowed the corn, whose anger was the drought that occasioned famine, that the deep roll of the thunder amid the folds of the black cloud was not self-originating, but was amply accounted for as the rattling of the wheels of the awful Jove; that the beauty of sea-foam, and rainbow, and rosebud, and vine-cluster, and bewitching eye and cheek, and lip, was no sport of accident, no uncaused fantastic play over the face of nature, but the cunning work of a goddess who embodied the beautiful, might hush any half-expressed questioning of the rude popular mind, but could nowise satisfy reason. Even the general intellect, when it at all engaged in reflection, found this first series of answers insufficient; that sun-god, that Jove, that Venus, the whole magnificent company that sat in thrones over the unstained snow of Olympus—whenco came they? There arose theories to account for their origin; if the keen piercing human mind would not rest contented with this fair vision, if the finite attribute of multiplicity pained and impelled it, an older mythology was seen, or fancied to emerge, venerable Saturn, and Hyperion the giant of the sun, and hoary Ocean, and the whole Titan brotherhood; and, if even this satisfied not, all might be referred to the primal two, Heaven and Earth, or even they might be placed at the foot of an ultimate and immovable Fate. At this last stage, the reflections of the popular mind came nearly into coincidence with philosophy. This, as we said, passing beyond polytheistic notions, arrived at the original, unconditioned, inscrutable mind to be taken as an evidence of its non-existence, or was a Divine, thus inscrutable, to be received? That philosophic intellect which we deem the noblest and most sublime, to which the belief in a God was a necessity, held by the second alternative, whether by accepting, with subtle yet sublime self-deception, the product of imagination for the affirmation of reason, or by devising some new faculty, whose voice was conclusive in the matter, and calling it faith ; thus, we may boldly assert did Plato in Greece, and Fichte in Germany ; that philosophic intellect which could consent to abandon belief in man's spiritual existence, and in an unseen government of the world, lapsed into atheism; this was perhaps the result of the Aristotelian philosophy in ancient times, and has been the avowed goal of the modern positive philosophy. And thus we are enabled to shut up forever the pantheistic theory of God and man, against which we now especially contend, in one dumb negation; to use again the words of Sir William Hamilton, “ the All” evolved by “the scheme of pantheistic omniscience," " at the first exorcism of a rigorous interrogation, relapses into nothing." We are not here required to have recourse to inference; in the work which embodies Fichte's theory of practical things, his Way to the Blessed Life, we find his ultimate expression for the Divine Being to be " the pure negation of all conceivability associated with infinite and eternal lovableness." We need scarce observe that this lovableness is a condition and conceivability violating, as absolutely as would a thousand attributes and qualities, that character of the one being, upon which he so strenuously insists, that it is the absolute, immutable, unconditioned one. Of all that conception of the Divine, which, by his aid, and using his colors, we have endeavored to body forth, we may just say that, by the original axiom of his
This was the critical moment. Was the fact that the Divine could not be comprehended and defined by the human
own philosophy, it is annihilated; proved to be either a mere play of imagination, or the common ideas and representations of God, highly colored and refined.
We turn to Christianity. The Bible, by many and explicit declarations, affirms, that God can not, in essence, be known to man; by no searching can Jehovah be found out unto perfection ; He is the I AM whom no eye hath seen
But He is not altogether an unknown God; when Paul professed, before the Athenian sages, his ability to reveal to them Him whom they had ignorantly worshiped, he made no vain boast. Omitting express allusion to the doctrine of the Trinity, we may say that, in a twofold manner, God is thus revealed, and we are enabled to approach unto Him: first, by a divine intimation that man is formed in the image of God; and, second, by the incarnation of the Godhead in the man Christ Jesus. It is our present object to inquire what is thus obtained, not to adduce the evidence by which Christianity proves itself divinely empowered to afford it : we merely remark, in passing, that, since it came to supply what reason, by hypothesis, fails to achieve, to save man, on the one hand, from blank atheism, and, on the other, from blind faith or imaginative delusion, it was to be expected that its fundamental attestation would embrace somewhat out of the sphere of natural law and ordinary induction, in other words, be miraculous. By declaring, with a divine sanction, that man was created in the image of God, Christianity at once affords a satisfactory and dignifying explanation of what would otherwise have been little more than a pitiable delusion, man's universal tendency to conceive of his divinity or divinities, as in the human form; while it enables us to avail ourselves of every natural manifestation in which pantheism arrays its imaginary God, to set it in its own position in the
general system of things, as a means of revealing even the least of the ways of the Christian God, and to gather from it fresh argument to strengthen our faith, or to deepen our adoration. To elicit the whole and precise meaning of the passage relating to man's creation in the image of God, a passage which, though profound and mysterious, commends itself irresistibly to the human reason and heart, would ex ceed our present scope; only let it be remembered tha Christianity altogether avoids those anthropomorphic errors into which every conception formed of God by the unaided human reason must lapse, by proclaiming the fact of the fall, and representing the Divine image in man, although not altogether erased, as yet, to use the words of Calvin, fused, broken, and defiled.” This brings us naturally to the second point we mentioned, which is, indeed, the great central point of Christianity, the revelation of the perfect image of God in Christ Jesus. We still are unable to conceive the essential Deity: but, if we continue to contemplate the Saviour, we rise to ideas of the mode in which His attributes find manifestation unspeakably more exalted, we mark the outgoings of His wisdom, power, and love, with a clearness inexpressibly greater than can be attained by any observation of the universe or study of man. The infidelity with which we are at present concerned, has expressed fervent admiration of Jesus; and this fact must at least make it appear reasonable in the eyes of its followers, that Christians discern in Him a holiness and beauty transcending those of earth. The might of the ocean and the tempest, the strength of the everlasting hills, the silent beaming forth, as in ever-renewed miraculous "vision," of the splendor and opulence of summer, the illumination of immensity by worlds, may offer some faint idea of the going forth of the power of Omnipotence: but there is a still more impressive, and, as it were, present manifestation of supernatural power made to man, when the storm sinks quelled before the eye of Jesus, or the dead comes from the grave at his word. When the heart expands with a love that embraces the whole circle of sentient existence, or even, by the bounteous imagining of poetic sympathy, first breathes an ideal life into flower and tree, and then over them too sheds, with Wordsworth, the smile of glowing tenderness, we may remember that there still linger traces of the Divine image in man, and faintly imagine the streaming forth of that Love which brightens the eyes of the armies of heaven, and gives light and life to the universe; but can any manifestation of human tenderness bring to us such a feeling of God's love, as one tear of Jesus shed over Jerusalem, or one revering look into his eye, when in the hours of mortal agony it overflowed in love and prayer for his murderers? We can attach a true and noble meaning to the words of Fichte when he bids us watch the holy man, because in what he “ does, lives, and loves,” God is revealed to us; but we will affirm that any instance of human heroism is altogether faint and powerless in enabling us to form a conception of the holiness of God, when compared with the devotion to his Father's service of Him whose meat and drink it was to do the will of God, and who died on the cross to make an atonement for sin. And if, in addition to all this, Christianity told us of a Divine Spirit, whose mysterious but certain influence on the mind enabled it to discern a glory and a beauty in the Saviour incomparably more exalted than could otherwise be distinguished, how truly might we assert that it brought us into a closer nearness to the Divine, than the most ethereal dreaming of mystic trance, or the most gorgeous imagining of pantheistic poetry! But not only thus is the God of the Christian a known God, in a