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CONNECTION OF RELIGION WITH PHILOSOPHY.
“It is a maxim, we think, which should rule in the hearts of Christian men, and
• Most of all in man that ministers,
And serves the altar,' that the world is to be convinced that Christians are not of necessity fools. And in doing this, we care not how much of sound reason, and true philosophy, and the analogies of nature, are brought into the sacred desk. The truth is, that religion sets up its jurisdiction over all the operations of the mind. And the truth is, also, that those who have done most to vilify and abuse the use of reason, have been the very men who have incorporated the most of false philosophy into their own systems of divinity.”— Rev. Albert Barnes.
We confess, in the development of the subject thus far, to a certain externality or naturalness which will not be fully agreeable to the most religious minds. That is to say, we own a predominance of the law side of things, in distinction from what may be called the will side; and certain philosophical necessities which seem to remove the idea of a willing and intelligent God too far from the mind. But in answer to this we have only to say that we have purposely commenced our work with this train of thought. We are fully aware of the perversion which some of our remarks and positions are liable to, and we are also aware of the extreme tendency of the natural mind to find a law for every thing,
-even, sometimes, to reduce the very being and action of God to such a combination of laws and forces as is little better than downright Pantheism. But so we also know that there is a good and truthful natural mind; a preponderating reason in the human nature which rightfully
demands the philosophy of every thing. Surely, there can be nothing theologically true which is not philosophically true, although we are sometimes unable, from the yet undeveloped state of our faculties, to discover that philosophy. Now, it has been our object thus far, to administer to this natural mind. We are aware of the immense scepticism and downright unbelief which results from this mind. We find men everywhere, in the church and out of it, in a state of bewildering doubt and confusion, just from the preponderance of the natural reason, which perpetually seeks the law of things and cannot find it, and who yet, from the glimmerings of the spiritual which they cannot quench, sometimes believing against reason, and sometimes reasoning against belief. That takes place here in the intellectuals, which so often exists in the morals,- a warfare and conflict between the superior and the inferior principles. It is our object, as far a possible, to deliver from this warfare. Therefore we have commenced our work upon a broad and solid foundation of nature. Some might choose to begin the other way, with the most spiritual and religious faculties first; we have chosen to begin this way; and by all the admissions which can be made to the common reason, and common intuition and sense of man, administer to those wants in the human soul which its disbelieving and perishing state so urgently requires.
But we must not forget, in the above allusions, that there is a spiritual reason as well as a natural reason — a spiritual philosophy as well as a natural one; and that this cry of the natural for the law and the reason of every thing comes in part from the spiritual nature. The truth is, the natural and the spiritual are to be harmonized; and the natural itself is to be made spiritual. It will never occur, in man's most advanced state of the regenerate life, that he will believe without reason: on the contrary, in proportion as he ascends, by the Divine Spirit, into regions and states of the angelic life, in that proportion will the Great God's infinite Reason be imparted unto him,
and he will see every thing in the light of that supernal day. So that, in making this progress with the natural, and from the natural, we are only pushing our way more and more into the regions of heavenly light, where, when it is full day, all three degrees of the mind will harmonize, and man will be a complete unity of celestial, spiritual, and natural perfection.
Again it should be observed, that the most religious persons, before alluded to, who may not find full satisfaction in the views hitherto expressed of the Divine Providence, are frequently, and almost without exception, not the most philosophical or rational persons. They are developed disproportionally in one region of the mind. They run up high in the organs of veneration, marvellousness, and spirituality, but the reflective and perceptive faculties are wanting. Such has been the character of the “old saints,” almost without exception. A fire from heaven has warmed and illuminated the apex of their minds, and many times played wonderfully through them. The Holy Ghost has descended and rested upon them, even to the impartation of the gift of vision. They have lived continually in this “ Mountain of the Lord.” They partook largely of the will element, and of the affections, and of that piety which looks continually straight up to God; but not so much, sometimes very little, of that intellectual sight which looks out and around upon objects of the visible, or the forms, connections, and laws of the invisible world. They were religionists, frequently, but not theologians; and many times theologians without any tendency to philosophy, either true or false, as the old and rickety creed-world abundantly testifies. They wanted nothing of the kind. They felt the need of nothing of the kind.
Enough,” say they,
"I know," says one, writing very sensibly on this difference, " that it has very much vexed men belonging to other classes
of mind, that some writers and speakers have claimed the pre-eminence for this class ; but oh, when will we learn that this is such a solemn universe,- it is such an earnest thing to be alive in it,– that all this comparing of ourselves among ourselves is one of the saddest human insanities. It is no matter of ours who we are greater than, or who we are less than. The question we have to ask each day, is, what is the work which I have to do this day, and how may I most intensify my energies for the doing of it? But let us also remember that if there is any class which may properly claim the pre-eminence among men, they are but babes and pigmies when compared with the untold myriads of beings in the upper spiritual spheres, and in the orderly earths of the Universe.*
Let us be thankful that we are coming into a new age, when, without any affectation, the most religious may be also the most intellectual, and the most intellectual the most religious. All hail the breaking morn of such a day! We would fain contribute our part to its shining. And now, having spoken hitherto predominantly of the law-side of things, we gladly pass on to the more interior regions, where we hope to find abundant comfort for the religious mind, without sacrificing one particle of the strong and sturdy philosophy which ought ever to characterize the full and perfect man. “ The Christian,” it has been well enough said, " is the highest style of man;” and let us be abundantly thankful that in the soul of the Christian are contained such wonderful capacities for the most refined and interior joy, and the most cultivated and intellectual religion.
* Samuel Leavitt, Herald of Light, vol. 1, p. 263.
GENERAL AND SPECIAL PROVIDENCES.
“Stilling's guidance was always systematic; or rather, the plan accord. ing to which he was led was always so manifest, that every acute observer perceived it. He himself likewise felt this perceptibly, and it humbled him in the dust; but it gave him also courage and boldness to struggle forward in the path of conflict; and it may easily be supposed how such a guidance promotes true Christianity, and faith in the Redeemer of the world.” – Autobiography of Heinrich Jung Stilling.
In general, but two theories have prevailed concerning the Divine Providence, and these two, as is always the case with the great and governing thoughts of mankind so far as there is any truth in them, harmonize into one. Men have so deeply felt God in application to their particular wants, and in moments of distress and suffering, when sudden relief has sometimes come in so many unexpected ways; and the greater affairs of nations and people have presented so many instances of a marked and timely providence, that it has been impossible to remove from the mind some sense of interference or interposition, quite distinct from the natural and usual routine of things, by which the Divine Being himself has interceded in behalf of man. Nor would we by any means seek to remove this feeling. It is founded in the deepest truths of the Divine Nature, and in the infinite abyss of subordinate being.
So strong indeed has been this feeling, that the only question if doubt or difference has been in the matter of “special,” as distinguished from “ general" or "universal” providence; some contending that God the Creator, having produced the universe, is in it by law or force of his own nature, — in it as the vegetative life principle is in a tree ;- not interfering, not depart