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to modest doubts and fair arguments, no parallel can be found, save in the scholastic controversies of the Middle Ages.
But the world has grown too old and too proud to be sent to school again by any sect. It boasts of having accomplished something by the labor of ages, of having settled some principles and ascertained some facts; and though it will thankfully accept any addition to its treasury, it will not regard as useless all its former stores, and begin the career of discovery anew. The Transcendentalists have been unwise, therefore, in adopting an offensive tone in the outset, and promulgating new views of things in an overbearing and dictatorial manner. Dogmatists may be sincere, but they are not often successful. Their manner creates a disgust, which no acknowledged ardor in the pursuit of truth, no disinterestedness of purpose, no acuteness of inquiry can ever remove. A sneer is unansu
iswerable, but it is no argument, and repels rather than persuades the modest inquirer. To cavil at the understandings of those who complain of obscurity, is a poor mode of rebutting the charge, since the ignorant, the foolish, and the vain may on every occasion use the same plea with equal effect. The weapon is too common, and has been too much abused, to be any longer effective. The affectation of distinguishing between esoteric and exoteric doctrines became obsolete centuries ago, and it is preposterous to attempt to revive it at the present day.
We cannot better illustrate our meaning, than by quoting a passage written in a spirit directly opposite to that alluded to. It is taken from the writings of a man, whose name will never cease to be respected, till the maxim shall come to be generally received, that strong common sense is incompatible with philosophical genius. “To Mr. Coleridge, who doubts his own power of building a bridge by which his ideas may pass into a mind so differently trained as mine, I venture to suggest, with that sense of his genius which no circumstance has bindered me from seizing every fit occasion to manifest, that more of my early years were employed in contemplations of an abstract nature, than those of a majority of his readers; that there are not, even now, many of them less likely to be repelled from doctrines by singularity or uncouthness; more willing to allow that every system has caught an advantageous glimpse of some side or corner of the truth; more desirous of exhibiting this dispersion of the fragments of wisdom by attempts to translate the doctrines of one school into the language of another; who, when he cannot discover a reason for an opinion, considers it as important to discover the causes of its adoption by the philosopher; believing, in the most unfavorable cases, that one of the most arduous and useful researches of mental philosophy is to explore the subtle illusions, which enable great minds to satisfy themselves by mere words, before they deceive others by payment in the same counterfeit coin. These habits, together with the natural influence of my age and avocations, lead me to suspect that in speculative philosophy I am nearer to indifference than an exclusive spirit. I hope, that it can neither be thought presumptuous nor offensive in me to doubt, whether the circumstance of its being found difficult to convey a metaphysical doctrine to a person, who, at one part of his lise made such studies his chief pursuit, may not imply either error in the opinion, or defect in the mode of communication.” *
The distinguishing trait of the Transcendental philosophy, is the appeal which it makes from the authority of reason and argument to that of passion and feeling. We are aware, that the miserable sopbistries of skepticism can in no way be so effectually exposed, as by a reference to the original, simple, and unadulterated impressions of mind. In one sense, the heart is wiser than the head; the child is the teacher of the man. A process of reasoning, which leads to a false result, is a mere logical puzzle, and so far from establishing that result, it only demonstrates the weakness of the reasoning faculty, that cannot discover the mistake, which, through the medium of a bigher power, we know must exist. The foundations of moral and religious truth are like the axioms on which the mathematician grounds his argument; if, either directly or by necessary inference, conclusions are found to be at variance with these first principles, they are at once rejected as being demonstrably absurd.
But some bounds must be set to the application of views like these. Postulates must not be confounded with axioms. He who mingles controverted propositions with essential truths, in a vain attempt to obtain the evidence of consciousness for each, corrupts, so far as in him lies, the fountain head of argument, and introduces confusion into the very elements of knowledge. The distinction, so much insisted on by the New School, between the Reason and the Understanding, if it mean any thing, must be
* Mackintosh, Progress of Eth. Phil., p. 302. Amer. Ed.
coincident with that which exists between the mind's active and creating power on the one side, and its passive and recipient faculty on the other. If not so,-if the two faculties agree in being each perceptive of truth, — we ask, what difference in kind can there be between two classes of truths, that separate powers are necessary for their reception? In kind, we say; for that a variety in degree should require the exercise of different faculties, is as absurd to suppose, as that a man must have one eye to see a mountain, and another for a molehill. We know that we shall be asked, whether moral truth is recognised by the same exertion of mind that admits the demonstrations of the geometer; and we reply, that the question is not a pertinent one. Our assertion is, that the argument for the existence of a God, or the immateriality of the soul, is tested by the same power of mind that discovered and proved any proposition in Euclid. The motive for supposing the existence of a mental faculty distinct from the Understanding, and which is denominated par excellence the Reason, seems to have been, to obtain evidence in favor of intuitive truths, equal or superior to that which is afforded to another class of propositions by demonstration. It is a needless supposition; for demonstration itself proceeds by intuition, the several steps being linked together by the immediate and necessary perception of their agreement with each other.
The aim of the Transcendentalists is high. They profess to look not only beyond facts, but without the aid of facts, to principles. What is this but Plato's doctrine of innate, eternal, and immutable ideas, on the consideration of which all science is founded? Truly, the human mind advances but too often in a circle. The New School has abandoned Bacon, only to go back and wander in the groves of the Academy, and to bewilder themselves with the dreams whiclı first arose in the servid imagination of the Greeks. Without questioning the desirableness of this end, of considering general truths without any previous examination of particulars, we may well doubt the power of modern philosophers to attain it. Again, they are busy in the inquiry (to adopt their own phraseology,) after the Real and the Absolute, as distinguished from the Apparent. Not to repeat the same doubt as to their success, we may at least request them to beware lest they strip Truth of its relation to Humanity, and thus deprive it of its usefulness. Granted that we are imprisoned in matter, why beat against the bars in a fruitless attempt to escape, when a little labor might convert the prison to a palace, or at least render the confinement more endurable. The frame of mind which longs after the forbidden fruit of knowledge in subjects placed beyond the reach of the human faculties, as it is surely indicative of a noble temperament, may also, under peculiar circumstances, conduce to the happiness of the individual. But if too much indulged, there is danger lest it waste its energies in mystic and unprofitable dreams, and despondency result from frequent failures, till at last, disappointment darkens into despair.
In offering these suggestions, we trust not to have appeared as arguing against a generous confidence in the power of the human intellect, and in the progress and efficacy of truth. There is a wide field still open for the exertion of mind, though we cease to agitate questions which have baffled the acuteness, ingenuity, and skill of the philosophers of all time. But arrogance and self-sufficiency are no less absurd in philosophy, than criminal in morals; and we cannot but think, that these qualities are displayed by men who censure indiscriminately the objects which the wise and good have endeavoured to attain, and the means which they have employed in the pursuit. A fair and catholic spirit will ever incline to eclecticism in its inquiries and systems; while it is the mark of a narrow mind to consider novelty as a mark of truth, or to look upon the difficulties of a question as evincing the importance of its solution. To regard Franklin as a greater name than that of Plato, might be unjust, were not the comparison itself fanciful and improper; but we may safely assert, that there are few, very few, who would not do better to look at the American rather than the Grecian
sage, as their model of the philosophical character.
Art. VIII. — Thcological Aphorisms.
The following article, which we have translated for the Examiner, is a selection from two articles, entitled “Theological Aphorisms," in a late volume of the “Theologische Studien und Kritiken, one of the most valuable journals now published in Germany, devoted to theological literature and science. It is from the pen of Professor Ullman, of the University of Halle, VOL. XXI. - 3D S. VOL. III.
a writer still young, but enjoying an enviable reputation for his soundness of mind and thorough and profound attainments. We present it to our readers as a specimen of the mode of thought which distinguishes a large and increasing school of modern German theologians. Its sobriety of discussion, its freedom from traditional prejudices, its calm and unpretending, good sense, and its spirit of fervent piety, will recommend it, we think, to those who are interested in the improvement of theology, whether at home or abroad. It will be read with satisfaction, also, as a proof that the progress of inquiry in Germany has led only to a more hearty faith in the Christian revelation, while it has relieved it of many difficulties that have hitherto retarded its universal prevalence. The direction which is indicated in these "Aphorisms” of Professor Ullman, it will be perceived, is equally removed from the lifeless Supernaturalism of a past age, and from the shallow Rationalism with which later theologians have endeavoured to supplant it. It is essentially the same movement with that which was commenced by Herder, continued by Schleiermacher and De Wette, and which is now sustained by a powerful host of the most active intellects among the scholars of Germany, and which will terminate, we cannot doubt, in the production of a higher life, of more consummate beauty, and of more divine energy, in religion, theology, and society.
THE IMPORTANCE OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE TO A
It has indeed been said by eminent teachers of the church in every age, in the greatest variety of forms, - but it needs always to be repeated, because notwithstanding its simpleness, it is always forgotten, - that the science of divine things essentially depends on the disposition ; that the true theologian comes only from the motherly bosom of a sound and genuine piety. We must indeed know what is divine, in order to love it; but it is quite as certain also, that we must love it, in order truly to know it. One is the condition of the other. They both go hand in hand. He who is incapable of enthusiasm for the Pure and the Lofty, whose heart cannot be filled with the Greatest, great as it may be, - he may, perhaps, possess the most excellent gifts for other departments of life and science, but, it is clear, that he was not born for a theologian. The