"Having been separated from Brahm in his imperfect state of Sagun, they carry along with them a share of those principles, qualities, and attributes that characterize that state, though predominating in very different degrees and proportions; either according to their respective capacities, or the retributive awards of an eternal ordination. Among others it is specially noted, that as Brahm at that time had awakened into a consciousness of his own existence, there does inhere in each separated soul a notion, or a conviction, of its own distinct, independent, individual existence. Laboring under this delusive notion, or conviction, the soul has lost the knowledge of its own proper nature—its divine origin, and ultimate destiny. It ignorantly regards itself as an inferior entity, instead of knowing itself to be what it truly is, a consubstantial, though it may be an infinitesimally minute portion of the great whole, a universal spirit.
"Each individual soul being thus a portion of Brahm, even as a spark is of fire, it is again and again declared that the relation between them is not that of master and servant, ruler and ruled, but that of whole and part! The soul is pronounced to be eternal a parte ante; in itself it has had no beginning or birth, though its separate individuality originated in time. It is eternal a parte post; it will have no end—no death; though its separate individuality will terminate in time. Its manifestation in time is not a creation; it is an effluence from the eternal fount of spirit. Its disappearance from the stage of time is not an extinction of essence—a reduction to nonentity; it is only a refluence into its original source. As an emanation from the supreme, eternal spirit, it is from everlasting to everlasting. Neither can it be said to be of finite dimensions; on the contrary, says the sacred oracle, 'being identified with the Supreme Brahm, it participates in his infinity.'
"After having enumerated all the elementary principles, atoms, and qualities successively evolved from Brahm, one of the sacred writings states, that though each of these had distinct powers, yet they existed separate and disunited, without order or harmonious adaptation of parts; that until they were duly combined together, it was impossible to produce this universe, or animated beings; and that therefore it was requisite to adopt other means than fortuitous chance for giving them an appropriate combination, and symmetrical arrangement. The Supreme, accordingly, produced an egg, in which the elementary principles might be deposited, and nurtured into maturity." "All the primary atoms, qualities, and principles—the seeds of future worlds—that had been evolved from the substance of Brahm, were now collected together, and deposited in the newly produced egg. And into it, along with them, entered the self-existent himself, under the assumed form of Brahm; and then he sat vivifying, expanding, and combining the elements, a whole year of the creation, or four thousand three hundred millions of solar years! During this amazing period, the wondrous egg floated like a bubble on the abyss of primeval waters, increasing in size, and blazing refulgent as a thousand suns. At length the Supreme, who dwelt therein, burst the shell of the stupendous egg, and issued forth under a new form, with a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand arms. Along with him there issued forth another form, huge and measureless. What could that be? All the elementary principles having now been matured, and disposed into an endless variety of orderly collocations, and combined into one harmonious whole, they darted into visible manifestation under the form of the present glorious universe! A universe now finished, and ready made, with its entire apparatus, of earth, sun, moon, and stars. What, then, is this multiform universe? It is but a harmoniously arranged expansion of primordial principles and qualities. And whence are these? Educed or evolved from the divine substance of Brahm. Hence it is that the universe is so constantly spoken of, even by mythologists, as a manifested form of Brahm himself, the supreme, invisible spirit. Hence, too, under the notion that it is the manifestation of a being who may assume every variety of corporeal form, is the universe often personified, or described as if its different parts were only the different members of a person, of prodigious magnitude, in human form. It is declared that the hairs of his body are the trees of the forest; of his head, the clouds; of his beard, the lightning. His breath is the circling atmosphere; his voice, the thunder; his eyes, the sun and moon; his veins, the rivers; his nails, the rocks; his bones, the lofty mountains!
"The substantial fabrics of all worlds having now been framed and fitted up as the destined abodes of different orders of being, celestial, terrestrial, and infernal, the question next arises, How or by whom were produced the various organized forms which these orders of being were designed to animate? Though hosts of subtle essences or souls flowed forth from Brahm, all of these remain inactive till united to some form of materialism. From this necessity the gods themselves are not exempted. While the souls of men, and other inferior spirits, must be encased in tabernacles fashioned out of the grosser elements, the souls of the gods, and all other superior spirits, must be made to inhabit material forms, composed of one or other of the infinitely attenuated and invisible rudimental atoms that spring direct from the principle of consciousness.
"Interminable as are the incoherencies, inconsistencies, and extravagancies of the Hindoo sacred writings, on no subject, perhaps, is the multiplicity of varying accounts and discrepancies more astonishing than on the present. Volumes could not suffice to retail them all. Brahma's first attempts at the production of the forms of animated beings were as eminently unsuccessful as they were various. At one time he is said to have performed a long and severe course of ascetic devotions, to enable him to accomplish his wish; but in vain; at another, inflamed by anger and passion at his repeated failures, he sat down and wept; and from the streaming tear drops sprang into being, as his first boon, a progeny of ghosts and goblins, of an aspect so loathsome and dreadful, that he was ready to faint away. At one time, after profound meditation, different beings spring forth: one from his thumb, another from his breath, a third from his ear, a fourth from his side. But enough of such monstrous legends."
There now, reader, you have the original of the Development Theory, with Vestiges of Creation enough to make half a dozen new infidel cosmogonies, besides the genuine original of Pantheism, from its native soil. Our western Pantheists will doubtless reverence their venerable progenitors; and, should the remainder of the family find their way here in a year or two, via Germany, the public will be better prepared to give a fitting reception to such distinguished visitors, including their suite of divine bulls and holy monkeys, their lustrations of cow dung, ecstatic hook swingings, burning of widows, and drowning of children, and other Pantheistic Philosophies, from the banks of the Ganges. What an outrage of decency for such men to call themselves philosophers and Christians!
The relationship of American Pantheism with that of India is unblushingly acknowledged by the recent Pantheistic writers: "When ancient sages came to believe in the absolute goodness, justice, love, and wisdom of the deity, or providence, they fell into that peace which needed nothing, feared nothing, and therefore worshiped nothing. Nothing to blame, nothing to praise; the perfect whole became one great divinity. It was so in Magadha and Benares; it is so in Concord and Boston."
2. Pantheism is a System of Deception and Hypocrisy.—Has any man a right to pervert the English language, by fixing new meanings to words, entirely different from and contrary to those in common use? If he knows the meaning of the words he uses, and uses them to convey a contrary meaning, he is a deceiver. The name God, used as a proper name, in the English tongue, means "the Supreme Being; Jehovah; the Eternal and Infinite Spirit, the Creator and Sovereign of the Universe." If, then, a man says he believes in God, but when forced to explain what he means by that name, says he means steam, heat, electricity, galvanism, magnetism, mesmeric force, odyle, animal life, the soul of man, or the sum of all the intelligences in the universe, he is a deceiver, and vain talker, abusing language to conceal his impiety. Pantheism is simply Jesuitical Atheism. Willing to dethrone Jehovah, but unable and unwilling to place any other being in his stead, as Creator and Ruler of the universe, yet conscious that mankind will never embrace open Atheism, Pantheists profess to believe in God, only that they may steal his name to cloak their Atheism. We, in common with all who believe in God, demand, that, as their divinity is, by their own confession, essentially different from God, they shall use a different word to describe it. Let them call it Brahm, as their brethren in India do, or any other name not appropriated to any existing being in heaven or earth, or under the earth; and let them cease to profane religion, and insult common sense, by affixing the holy name of the Supreme to their thousand-headed monster.
But the very perfection of Jesuitism is reached, when Pantheists profess their high respect for the Christian religion. They do not generally speak of it as a superstition, though some of the vulgar sort do; nor do they decry its mysteries, as Deists are in the habit of doing; nor, as Socinians, and Unitarians, and Rationalists, do they attempt to reduce it to a mere code of morals. They grant it to be the highest development of humanity yet reached by the majority of the human race. The brute, the savage, the polytheistic idolater, the star worshiper, the monotheist, the Christian, are all, in their scheme, so many successive developments of humanity in its upward progress. There is only one step higher than Christianity, and that is Pantheism. Well knowing that Christianity is diametrically opposed to their falsehoods, and that the Bible, everywhere, teaches that the natural progress of man has ever been down from a state of holiness to idolatry and barbarism, they have yet the hardihood to profess respect for it, as a system of concealed Pantheism, and to clothe their abominations in Scripture language. They speak, for instance, of the "beauty of holiness in the mind, that has surmounted every idea of a personal God;" and of "God dwelling in us, and his love perfected in us," when they believe that he dwells as really in every creature: in that hog, for instance. Then they will readily acknowledge that the Bible is inspired. They can accept—that is the phrase—they can accept the Book which denounces death upon those fools who, "professing themselves to be wise, change the truth of God into a lie, and worship and serve the creature more than the Creator," as merely a mystic revelation of the Pantheism which leaves man to "erect everything into a God, provided it is none: sun, moon, stars, a cat, a monkey, an onion, uncouth idols, sculptured marble; nay, a shapeless trunk, which the devout impatience of the idolater does not stay to fashion into the likeness of a man, but gives its apotheosis at once." Oh, yes; they accept the Bible as inspired—a God inspired Book—inasmuch as every product of the human mind is a development of Deity. The Bible, then, when we have the matter fully explained, is quite on a level with Gulliver's Travels, or Emerson's Address to a Senior Class of Divinity.
There is nothing, however, in this vast system of monstrosities, which fills the soul of a Christian with such loathing and detestation, as to hear Pantheists profess their veneration for the Lord Jesus, and claim him as a teacher of Pantheism. If there is one object which they detest with all their hearts, it is the Judge of the quick and dead, and the vengeance which he shall take upon them that know not God, and obey not the gospel. Any allusion to the judgment seat of Christ fills them with fury, and causes them to pour forth awful blasphemies. They know that the Lord Jesus repeatedly declared himself the Judge of the living and the dead—that "the hour is coming in which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth: they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation;" and that the very last sentence of his public discourses is, "And these" (the wicked) "shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal." When they drop the mask for a moment, they can accuse apostles and disciples with "dwelling with noxious exaggeration about the person of Christ." Christ, as revealed in the gospel, they hate with a perfect hatred. But when it becomes necessary to address Christians, and beguile them into the deceitfulness of Pantheism, the tune is changed. Christ becomes the model man—"one conceived in conditions favorable to the highest perfectibility of the individual consciousness; and so possessed of powers of generalization far in advance of the age in which he lived. They can listen to and honor one of the best expounders of God and nature in the Man of Nazareth." The vilest falsehoods of Pantheism are ascribed to Jesus, that those who, ignorant of his doctrine, yet respect his name, may be seduced to receive them. Of him who declared, "Out of the heart of man proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, thefts, false witness, blasphemies," they have the hardihood to declare, "He saw with open eyes the mystery of the soul; alone, in all history, he estimated the greatness of man." Calculating upon that ignorance of the teaching of Christ which is so general among their audiences, they dare to represent the only begotten Son of God as teaching Pantheism: "One man was true to what is in you and me; he saw that God incarnates himself in man, and evermore goes forth anew to take possession of his world. He said in this jubilee of sublime emotion, 'I am divine. Through me God acts; through me, speaks. Would you see God, see me; or see thee when thou also thinkest as I now think.' Because the indwelling Supreme Spirit can not wholly be got rid of, the doctrine of it suffers this perversion, that the divine nature is attributed to one or two persons, and denied to all the rest, and denied with fury." Yes, truly, the divine nature is emphatically denied to all unregenerated men, and denied, too, by that divine teacher thus eulogized. Hear him: "Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me; for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? Even because ye can not hear my word. Ye are of your father, the devil; and the works of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh it of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it."
Let Pantheists, then, cease to wind their serpent coils around Christianity, and to defile the Bible with their filthy lickings. The Lord Jesus will not suffer such persons to bear even a true testimony to him, and his followers will not permit them to ascribe their falsehoods to him, without reproof. Let them stand out and avow themselves the enemies of Christ and his gospel, as they are, and cease their abominable pretenses of giving to the world the ultimate development of Christianity. What concord hath Christ with Belial?
3. Pantheism is a System of Immorality.—It loosens all the sanctions of moral law. If there is anything upon which all Pantheists are agreed, it is in the denial of the resurrection, the judgment, and the future punishment of the wicked. Their whole system, in all its range, from Spiritualism to Phrenology, is expressly invented to get rid of God's moral government. If man is the highest intelligence in the universe, to whom should he render an account of his conduct? Or who would have any right to call him to account? Then, if we are developments of deity, deity can not offend against itself. Further, if our development, both of body and mind, be the inevitable result of the laws of nature—of our organization and our position—man is but the creature of circumstances, and, therefore, as is abundantly argued, can not be made responsible for laws and their results, over which he has no control. "I am what I am. I can not alter my will, or be other than what I am, and can not deserve either reward or punishment." Before hundreds of the citizens of Cincinnati, a lecturer publicly denied the right of either God or man to invade his individuality, by taking vengeance upon him for any crime whatever. Thousands, who are not yet Pantheists, are so far infected with the poison that they utterly deny any right of vindictive punishment to God or man.
But this is not all. Again and again have we listened with astonishment to men, declaring that there was no moral law—no standard of right and wrong, but the will of the community. Of course it was quite natural, after such a declaration, to assert that a wife who should remain with a husband of inferior intellectuality, or unsuitable emotions, was committing adultery; that private property is a legalized robbery; and that when a citizen becomes mentally or physically unfit for the business of life, he confers the highest obligation on society, and performs the highest duty to himself, by committing suicide, and thus returning to the great ocean of being!
We might think that confusion of right and wrong could not be worse confounded than this; yet there is a blacker darkness still. The distinction between good and evil is absolutely denied. The Hindoo Pantheists declare that they can not sin, because they are God, and God can not offend against himself; there is no sin—it is all maya—delusion. So the American and English school tells us it lives only in the obsolete theology. Evil, we are told, "is good in another way we are not skilled in." So says the author of "Representative Men." "Evil," according to old philosophers, "is good in the making; that pure malignity can exist is the extreme proposition of unbelief. It is not to be entertained by a rational agent. It is Atheism; it is the last profanation." "The divine effort is never relaxed; the carrion in the sun will convert itself into grass and flowers; and man, though in brothels, or jails, or on gibbets, is on his way to all that is good and true."
Emerson, in a lecture in Cincinnati, is reported by the editor of The Central Herald, as saying in his hearing: "To say that the majority of men are wicked, is only to say that they are young." "Every man is indebted to his vices—virtues grow out of them as a thrifty and fruitful plant grows out of manure." "There is hope even for the reprobate, and the ruffian, in the fullness of time."
If these were only the ravings of lunatics, or the dreamings of philosophers, we should never have hunted them from their hiding-places to scare your visions; but these doctrines are weekly propounded in your own city, and throughout our land, from platform and press, to thousands of your children and their school-teachers, of your work, men and your lawgivers, to your wives and daughters. Again and again have our ears been confounded in the squares of New York, and the streets of Philadelphia, and the market-places of Cincinnati, by the boisterous cry, What is sin? There is no sin. It is all an old story. Let men who fear no God, but who have lives, and wives, and property to lose, look to it, and say if they act wisely in giving their influence to a system which lands in such consequences. Let them devise some religion for the people which will preserve the rights of man, while giving license to trample upon the rights of God; or, failing in the effort, let them acknowledge that the enemy of God is, and of necessity must be, the foe of all that constitutes the happiness of man. Impiety and immorality are wedded in heaven's decree, and man can not sunder them.
4. Pantheism is Virtually Atheism.—It may scarce seem needful to multiply proofs on this head. How can any one imagine a being composed of the sum of all the intelligences of the universe? Such a thing, or combination of things, never was distinctly conceived of by any intelligent being. Can intelligences be compounded, or like bricks and mortar, piled upon each other? If they could, did these finite intelligences create themselves? If the soul of man is the highest intelligence in the universe, did the soul of man create, or does the soul of man govern it? Shall we adore his soul? Some Pantheists have got just to this length. M. Comte declares, that "At this present time, for minds properly familiarized with true astronomical philosophy, the heavens display no other glory than that of Hipparchus, or Kepler, or Newton, and of all who have helped to establish these laws." Establish these laws! Laws by which the heavenly bodies were guided thousands of years before Kepler or Newton were born. Shall we then adore the souls of Kepler and Newton? M. Comte has invented a religion, which he is much displeased that the admirers of his Positive Philosophy will not accept, in which the children are to be taught to worship idols, the youth to believe in one God, if they can, after such a training in infancy, and the full-grown men are to adore a Grand Etre, "the continuous resultant of all the forces capable of voluntarily concurring in the universal perfectioning of the world, not forgetting our worthy auxiliaries, the animals." Our Anglo-Saxon Pantheists, however, are not quite philosophical enough yet to adore the mules and oxen, and therefore refuse worship altogether. "Work is worship," constitutes their liturgy. "As soon as the man is as one with God, he will not beg. He will then see prayer in all action." "Labor wide as earth has its summit in heaven. Sweat of the brow, and up from that to sweat of the brain, sweat of the heart; which includes all Kepler calculations, Newton meditations, all sciences, all spoken epics, all acted heroisms, martyrdoms, up to that agony of bloody sweat, which all men have accounted divine! Oh, brother, if this is not worship, then I say, the more pity for worship; for this is the noblest thing yet discovered under God's sky." "No man has worked, or can work, except religiously." "Adieu, O Church! Thy road is that way, mine is this. In God's name, adieu!"
Such is the theory. How faithfully acted out, you can learn from the thousands who are now, publicly, upon God's holy Sabbath, working religiously upon the bridge that is to span the river, or less ostentatiously in their shops and workrooms throughout the city. Within a circle of three miles' radius of the spot you now occupy, one hundred thousand intelligent beings in this Christian city worship no God.
The abstraction, which the Pantheist calls God, is no object of worship. It is not to be loved. If it does good, it could not help it, and did not intend it. It is not to be thanked for benefits. It, the sum of all the intelligence of the universe, can not be collected from the seven spheres to receive any such acknowledgment. It can not deviate from its fated course of proceeding; therefore, says the Pantheist, why should I pray? It neither sees his conduct, nor cares for it; and he denies any right to call him to account. It did not create him, does not govern him, will not judge him, can not punish him. It is no object of love, fear, worship, or obedience. It is no god. He is an Atheist. He believes not in any God.
HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD. He is distinct from, and supreme over all his works. He now rules, and will hereafter judge all intelligent creatures, and will render to every one according to his works.
1. Reason declares it. The world did not make itself. The soul of man did not make itself. The body of man did not make itself. They must have had an intelligent Creator, who is God. God is known by his works to be distinct from them, and superior to them. The work is not the workman. The house is not the builder. The watch is not the watchmaker. The sum of all the works of any worker is not the agent who produced them. Let an architect spend his life in building a city, yet the city is not the builder. The maker is always distinct from, and superior to, the thing made. You and I, and the universe, are made. Our Maker, then, is distinct from, and superior to us. One plan gives order to the universe; therefore, one mind originated it. The Creator is over all his creatures.
2. Our consciousness confirms it. If a blind god could not make a seeing man, a god destitute of the principle of self-consciousness (if such an abuse of language may be tolerated for a moment) could not impart to man the conviction, I am,—the ineradicable belief that I am not the world, nor any other person; much less, everybody; but that I am a person, possessed of powers of knowing, thinking, liking and disliking, judging, approving of right, and disapproving of wrong, and choosing and willing my conduct. My Maker has at least as much common sense as he has given me. He that teacheth man knowledge, shall he not know?
3. Our ignorance and weakness demand a Governor of the world wiser than ourselves. The soul of man is not the highest intelligence in the universe. It can not know the mode of its own operation on the body it inhabits, much less the plan of the world's management. Man may know much about what does not concern him, and about things over which he has no control; but it is the will of God that his pride should feel the curb of ignorance and impotence where his dearest interests are concerned, that so he may be compelled to acknowledge that God is greater than man. He may be able to tell the place of the distant planets a thousand years hence, but he can not tell where himself shall be next year. He can calculate for years to come the motions of the tides, which he can not control, but can not tell how his own pulse shall beat, or whether it shall beat at all, to-morrow. Ever as his knowledge of the laws by which God governs the world increases, his conviction of his impotence grows; and he sees and feels that a wiser head and stronger hand than that of any creature, planned and administered them. Ever as he reaches some ultimate truth, such as the mystery of electricity, of light, of life, of gravitation, which he can not explain, and beyond which he can not penetrate, he hears the voice of God therein, demanding him to acknowledge his impotence.
"Where is the way where light dwelleth, And as for darkness, what is the place thereof? Canst thou bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades, Or loose the bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his seasons? Or canst thou guide Arcturus, with his sons? Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? Canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth? Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, That abundance of waters may cover thee? Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go And say unto thee, 'Here we are?'"
4. Our consciences convince us that God is a Moral Governor. The distinction between brutes and men is, that man has a sense of the distinction between right and wrong. If we find a tribe of savages, or individuals who indulge their appetites without rule, and who do wrong without any apparent remorse or shame, we designate them brutes. Even those who in words deny any difference between right and wrong, do in fact admit its existence, by their attempts to justify that opinion. Though weaker, or less regarded in some than in others, every man is conscious of a faculty in himself which sits in judgment on his own conduct, and that of others, approving or condemning it as right or wrong. In all lands, and in all ages, the common sense of mankind has acknowledged the existence and moral authority of conscience, as distinct from and superior to mere intellect. No language of man is destitute of words conveying the ideas of virtue and vice, of goodness and wickedness. When one attempts to deceive you by a willful lie, you are sensible not only of an intellectual process of reason detecting the error, but of a distinct judgment of disapprobation of the crime. When one who has received kindness from a benefactor, neglects to make any acknowledgment of it, cherishes no feelings of gratitude, and insults and abuses the friend who succored him, we are conscious, not merely of the facts, as phenomena to be observed, but of the ingratitude, as a crime to be detested. And we are irresistibly constrained to believe that he who taught us this knowledge of a difference between right and wrong, does himself know such a distinction; and that he who implanted this feeling of approval of right, and condemnation of wrong, in us, does himself approve the right, and condemn the wrong. And as we can form no notion of right or wrong unconnected with the idea that approbation of right conduct should be suitably expressed, and that disapprobation of wrong conduct ought also to be suitably expressed—in other words, that right ought to be rewarded, and wrong ought to be punished—so we are constrained to trace such a connection from our minds to the mind of him who framed them. This conviction is God's law, written in our hearts. When we do wrong, we become conscious of a feeling of remorse in our consciences, as truly as the eye becomes conscious of the darkness. We may blind the eye, and we may sear the conscience, that the one shall not see, nor the other feel; but light and darkness, right and wrong, will exist. The awful fact which conscience reveals to us, that we sin against God, that we know the right, and do the wrong, and are conscious of it, and of God's disapprobation of it, is conclusive proof that we are not only distinct from God, but separate from him—that we oppose our wills against his. And every pang of remorse is a premonition of God's judgment, and every sorrow and suffering which the Governor of the world has connected with sin—as the drunkard's loss of character and property, of peace and happiness, the frenzy of his soul, and the destruction of his body—is a type and teaching of the curse which he has denounced against sin.
5. The World's History is the record of man's crimes, and God's punishments. Once God swept the human race from earth with a flood of water, because the wickedness of man was great on the earth. Again, he testified his displeasure against the ungodly sinners of Sodom and Gomorrah, by consuming their cities with fire from heaven, and leaving the Dead Sea to roll its solemn waves of warning to all ungodly sinners, to the end of time.
By the ordinary course of his providence, he has ever secured the destruction of ungodly nations. No learning, commerce, arms, territories, or skill, has ever secured a rebellious nation against the sword of God's justice. Ask the black record of a rebel world's history for an instance. Egypt, Canaan, Nineveh, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome. Where are they now? Tyre had ships, colonies, and commerce; Rome an empire on which the sun never set; Greece had philosophy, arts, and liberty secured by a confederation of republics; Spain the treasures of earth's gold and silver, and the possession of half the globe. Did these secure them against the moral government of God?
No! God's law sways the universe; that law which, with the brazen fetters of eternal justice, binds together sin and misery, crime and punishment, and lays the burden on the backs of all ungodly nations, irresistibly forcing them down—down—down the road to ruin. The vain imagination that refuses to glorify God as God, leads to darkness of heart, thence to Atheism, thence to gross idolatry, onward to selfish gratification, violent rapacity, lust of conquest, and luxury, licentiousness, and effeminacy begotten of its spoils; then military tyranny, civil war, servile revolt, anarchy, famine and pestilence, and the sword of less debauched neighbors, Christ's iron scepter, hurl them down from the pinnacle of greatness, to dash them in pieces against each other, in the valley of destruction; and there they lie, wrecks of nations, ruins of empires, naught remaining, save some shivered potsherds of former greatness, to show that once they were, and were the enemies of God.
Oh, America, take warning ere it be too late! God rules the nations. "He that chastiseth the heathen, shall he not correct you?"
A day of retribution, reader, comes to you, as an individual. Neither your insignificance nor your unbelief can hide you from his eye, nor can your puny arm shield you from his righteous judgment. His hand shall find out his enemies. Oh, fly from the wrath to come! "Seek the Lord while he may be found." He is not far from every one of us. His breath is in our nostrils. His Word is in our hands. "Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
 Cited in Pressense's Jesus Christ, His Life and Times. Page 10.
 Duff's India, pages 99-114.
 Duff's India, page 119.
 Man's Origin and Destiny, 293.
 Webster's Dictionary.
 Emerson's Address to a Senior Class in Divinity.
 Hennell's Christian Theism, which shows how Theists of every nation—Christian, Jew, Mohammedan, or Chinese—can meet upon common ground.
 Atkinson's Letters, page 190.
 Festus, page 48.
 Swedenborg, or the Mystic (quoted by Pierson, 41), p. 68.
 Politique Positive, Vol. II. page 60.
 Carlyle—Past and Present.
 Carlyle—Life of Sterling.
HAVE WE ANY NEED OF THE BIBLE?
Religion consists of the knowledge of a number of great facts, and of a course of life suitable to them. We have seen three of these: that God created the world; that he governs it; and that he is able to conquer his enemies. There are others of the same sort as needful to be known. Our knowledge of these facts, or our ignorance of them, makes not the slightest difference in the facts themselves. God is, and heaven is, and hell is, and sin leads to it, whether anybody believes these things or not. It makes no sort of difference in the beetling cliff and swollen flood that sweeps below it, that the drunken man declares there is no danger, and, refusing the proffered lantern, gallops on toward it in the darkness of the night. But when the mangled corpse is washed ashore, every one sees how foolish this man was, to be so confident in his ignorance as to refuse the lantern, which would have shown him his danger, and guided him to the bridge where he might have crossed in safety. Some of the facts of religion lie at the evening end of life's journey; the darkness of death's night hides them from mortal eye; and living men might guide their steps the better by asking counsel of one who knows the way. If they get along no better by their own counsel in the next world than most of them do in this, they will have small cause to bless their teacher. Who can tell that ignorance, and wickedness, and wretchedness are not as tightly tied together in the world to come, as we see them here?
Solomon was a knowing man and wise; and better than that, in the esteem of most people, he made money, and tells you how to make it, and keep it. You will make a hundred dollars by reading his Proverbs and acting on them. They would have saved some of you many a thousand. Of course such a man knew something of the world. He was a wide-awake trader. His ships coasted the shores of Asia, and Africa, from Madagascar to Japan; and the overland mail caravans from India and China drew up in the depots he built for them in the heart of the desert. He knew the well-doing people with whom trade was profitable, and the savages who could only send apes and peacocks. He was a philosopher as well as a trader, and could not help being deeply impressed with the great fact, that there was a wide difference among the nations of the world. Some were enlightened, enterprising, civilized, and flourishing; others were naked savages, living in ignorance, poverty, vice, and starvation, perpetually murdering one another, and dying out of the earth.
Solomon noticed another great fact. In his own country, and in Chaldea, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and some others, God had revealed his will to certain persons for the benefit of their neighbors. He did so generally by opening the eyes of these prophets to see future events, and the great facts of the unseen world, and by giving them messages of warning and instruction to the nations. From this mode of revelation, by opening the prophets eyes to see realities invisible to others, they were called seers, and the revelations they were commissioned to make were called visions; and revelation from God was called, in general, vision. Solomon was struck with the fact that some nations were thus favored by God, and other nations were not. The question would naturally arise, What difference does it make, or does it make any difference, whether men have any revelation of God's will or not?
Solomon was led to observe a third great fact. The nations which were favored with these revelations were the civilized, enterprising, and comparatively prosperous nations. In proportion to the amount of divine revelation they had, and their obedience to it, they prospered. The nations that had no revelation from God were the idolatrous savages, who were sinking down to the level of brutes, and perishing off the face of the earth. He daguerreotypes these three great facts in the proverb: "Where there is no vision the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
Oh, says the Rationalist, the world is wiser now than it was in Solomon's days. He lived in the old mythological period, when men attributed everything extraordinary to the gods. But the world is too wise now to believe in any supernatural revelation. "The Hebrew and Christian religions like all others have their myths." "The fact is, the pure historic idea was never developed among the Hebrews during the whole of their political existence." "When, therefore, we meet with an account of certain phenomena, or events of which it is expressly stated or implied that they were produced immediately by God himself (such as divine apparitions, voices from heaven, and the like), or by human beings possessed of supernatural powers (miracles, prophecies, etc.), such an account is so far to be considered not historical." "Indeed, no just notion of the true nature of history is possible without a perception of the inviolability of the chain of finite causes, and of the impossibility of miracles." A narrative is to be deemed mythical, 1st. "When it proceeds from an age in which there were no written records, but events were transmitted by tradition; 2d. When it presents, as historical, accounts of events which were beyond the reach of experience, as occurrences connected with the spiritual world; or 3d. When it deals in the marvelous, and is couched in symbolical language." So also a host of others, who pass for biblical expositors, lay it down as an axiom, that all records of supernatural events are mythical, viz: fables, falsehoods, because miracles are impossible. Of course, from such premises the conclusion is easy. A revelation from God to man is a supernatural event, and supernatural events are impossible; therefore, a revelation from God is impossible. But it would have been much easier, and quite as logical, to have laid down the axiom in plain words at first, that a revelation from God is impossible, as to argue it from such premises; for it is just as easy to say, that a revelation from God is impossible, as to say that miracles are impossible; and as for proof of either one or the other, we must just take their word for it.
One can not help being amazed at the cool impudence with which these men take for granted the very point to be proved, and set aside, as unworthy of serious examination, the most authentic records of history, simply because they do not coincide with their so-called philosophy; and at the credulity with which their followers swallow this arrogant dogmatism, as if it were self-evident truth. Let us look at it for a moment. Other religions have their myths, or fables, therefore, the Hebrew and Christian records are fables, says the Rationalist. Profundity of logic! Counterfeit bank bills are common, therefore none are genuine. "The fact is, the pure historic idea was never developed among the Hebrews," i. e., Moses and the prophets were all liars. That is the fact, you may take my word for it. "Indeed, no just notion of the true nature of history is possible without a perception of the inviolability of the chain of finite causes, and of the impossibility of miracles" which translated into plain words is simply this: No man can understand history who believes in God Almighty. "A narrative is to be deemed fabulous when it proceeds from an age in which there were no written records," such, for instance, as any account of the creation of the first man—for no event could possibly happen unless there was a scribe there to write it. Or, of the fall of man—we do not know that Adam was able to write, and no man can tell truth unless he writes a history. "A narrative is to be deemed fabulous when it presents, as historical, accounts of events which were beyond the reach of experience, as events connected with the spiritual world." Is it not self-evident that you and I have had experience of everything in the whole universe, and whoever tells us anything which we have never seen is a liar. "When a narrative deals in the marvelous," such as Xenophon's Retreat of the Ten Thousand, Herodotus' History, or Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, dealing as it does in such marvelous accounts as the death of half the inhabitants of the empire in the reign of Galerius, or any other history of wonderful occurrence—it is of course a myth. Does not every one know that nothing marvelous ever happened, or, if it did, would any historian trouble himself to record a prodigy? "Or, if it is couched in symbolical language," as is every eloquent passage in Thucydides, Robertson, Gibbon, or Guizot, the records of China, and of India, the picture-writing of the Peruvians, and especially the Egyptian hieroglyphics, which were fondly expected to do such good service against the Bible—it must be at once rejected, without further examination, as mythological and unworthy of any credit whatever. Thus we are conclusively rid forever of the Bible, for sure enough it is couched in symbolical language. Blessed deliverance to the world! But then, alas! this great deliverance is accompanied with several little inconveniences. All poetry, three-fourths of the world's history, and the largest part of its philosophy, is couched in symbolical language, and especially the whole of the science of metaphysics, from which these very learned writers have deduced such edifying conclusions, is, from the beginning to the end, nothing but a symbolical application of the terms which describe material objects, to the phenomena of mind. Alas! we must forever relinquish "the absolute," and "the infinite," and "the conditioned," with all their "affinities and potencies," up to "higher unity," and "the rhythm of universal existence," and all the rest of those perspicuous German hieroglyphics, whether entombed in their native pyramids for the amazement of succeeding generations, by Fichte, Schelling, or Hegel, or "worshiping in the great cathedral of the immensities," "with their heads uplifted into infinite space," or "lying on the plane of their own consciousness," in the writings of Carlyle, Emerson, and Parker. They are myths, the whole of them, for they "are couched in symbolical language;" and Bauer, De Wette, and Strauss have pronounced every thing couched in symbolical language to be mythical. Let us henceforth deliver our minds from all anxiety about history, philosophy, or religion, and stick to the price current and the multiplication table, the only accounts that are not "couched in symbolical language."
Such is the sort of trash that passes for profound philosophy when once it is made unintelligible, and such are the canons of interpretation with which men calling themselves philosophers and Christians sit down to investigate the claims of the Bible as a revelation from God. If they would speak out their true sentiments, they would say, "There can not be any revelation from God, because there is no God." But they could not call themselves professors of Christian colleges, and pastors of Christian churches, and reap the emoluments of such situations, if they would honestly avow their Atheism. Besides, the world would see too plainly the drift of their teaching; therefore it is cloaked under a profession of belief in God, the Creator, who however is to be carefully prevented from ever showing himself again in the world he has made.
No proof is attempted for the declaration that miracles are impossible. Yet, surely, if it implies a contradiction to say so, that contradiction could be shown. That it is not self-evident is shown by the general belief of mankind that miracles have occurred. No man who believes in a supernatural being can deny the possibility of supernatural actings. The creation of the world is the most stupendous of all miracles, utterly beyond the power of any finite causes, and entirely beyond the reach of our experience, yet some of these men admit that this miracle occurred. Supernatural events then are not impossible, nor unprecedented.
The vain notion that God, having created the world at first, left it for ever after to the operation of natural laws, is conclusively demolished by the discoveries of geology. These discoveries established the fact recorded in Scripture, that in bringing the world into its present form there were several distinct and successive interpositions of supernatural power, in the distinct and successive creations of different species of vegetable and animal life. In former periods, they tell us, the earth was so warm that the present races of men and animals could not have lived on it, and the plants and animals of that age could not live now. These very men are profuse in proving that the earth existed for ages before man made his appearance upon it. This being the case, we are compelled to acknowledge the creating power of God above the laws of nature, for there is no law of nature which can either create a new species of plants or animals, nor yet change one kind into another, make an oak into a larch, or an ox into a sheep, or a goose into a turkey, or a megatherium into an elephant, much less into a man. Some men have dreamed of such changes as these, but no instance of such a change has ever been alleged in proof of the notion. The most distinguished anatomists and geologists are fully agreed that no such change of one animal into another ever took place; much less that any animal ever was changed into a man. Cuvier, from his comprehensive survey of the fossils of former periods, establishes the fact, "that the species now living are not mere varieties of the species which are lost." And Agassiz says, "I have the conviction that species have been created successively, at distinct intervals." Revelations of God's special interpositions in the affairs of this world are thus written by his own finger in the fossils and coal, and engraved on the everlasting granite of the earth's foundation stones. Dumb beasts and dead reptiles start forward to give their irrefutable testimony to the repeated supernatural acts of their Creator in this world which he had made. Every distinct species of plants and animals is proof of a distinct supernatural overruling of the present laws of nature. The experience of man is not the limit of knowledge. His own existence is a proof that the chain of finite causes is not inviolable. Geology sweeps away the very foundations of skepticism, by demonstrating that certain phenomena produced immediately by God himself—the phenomena of the creation of life—have occurred repeatedly in the history of our globe. Revelation is not impossible because supernatural. The world is just as full of supernatural works as of natural. Nor is it incredible because it records miracles. The miracles recorded in the coal measures are as astonishing as any recorded in the Bible.
The Rationalist next assures us, however, that any external revelation from God to man is useless, because man is wise enough without it. The vulgar exposition of this sentiment is familiar to every reader. "You need not begin to preach Bible to me. I know my duty well enough without the Bible." The more educated attempt to reason the matter after this fashion: "Miraculous phenomena will never prove the goodness and veracity of God, if we do not know these qualities in him without a miracle." We may remark, in passing, that there are some other attributes of God besides goodness and veracity—holiness and justice for instance—which are proved by miracles. "Can thunder from the thirty-two azimuths, repeated daily for centuries, make God's laws more godlike to me? Brother, no. Perhaps I am grown to be a man now, and do not need the thunder and the terror any longer. Perhaps I am above being frightened. Perhaps it is not fear but reverence that shall now lead me! Revelation! Inspirations! And thy own god-created soul, dost thou not call that a revelation?" It is manifest, however, that if Mr. Carlyle needs not the Sinai thunder to assure him that the law given on Sinai was from God, there were then, and are now, many who do, and some of his own sect who doubt in spite of it. If he is above the weakness of fearing God, all the world is not so.
The claims of a divine teacher are as unceremoniously rejected as those of a divine revelation. "If it depends on Jesus it is not eternally true, and if it is not eternally true it is no truth at all," says Parker. As if eternally true, and sufficiently known, were just the same thing; or as if because vaccination would always have prevented the smallpox, the world is under no obligation to Jenner for informing us of the fact. In the same tone Emerson despises instruction: "It is not instruction but provocation that I can receive from another soul. What he announces, I must find true in me, or wholly reject; and on his word, or as his second, be he who he may, I can accept nothing." Again says Parker, "Christianity is dependent on no outside authority. We verify its eternal truth in our soul." His aim is "to separate religion from whatever is finite—Church, book, person—and let it rest on its absolute truth." "It bows to no idols, neither the Church, nor the Bible, nor yet Jesus, but God only; its Redeemer is within; its salvation within; its heaven and its oracle of God." The whole strain of this school of writers and their disciples is one of depreciation of external revelation, and of exaltation of the inner light which every man is supposed to carry within him. Religion is "no Morrison's pill from without," but a "clearing of the inner light," a "reawakening of our own selves from within." So Mr. Newman abundantly argues that an authoritative book revelation of moral and spiritual truth is impossible, that God reveals himself within us and not without us, and that a revelation of all moral and religious truth necessary for us to know is to be obtained by insight, or gazing into the depths of our own consciousness. The sum of the whole business is, that neither God nor man can reveal any religious truth to our minds, or as Parker felicitously expresses it, "on his word, or as his second, be he who he may, I can accept nothing."
Now, we are tempted to ask, Who are these wonderful prodigies, so incapable of receiving instruction from anybody? And to our amazement we learn, that some forty odd years ago they made their appearance among mankind as little squalling babies, without insight enough to know their own names, or where they came from, and were actually dependent on an external revelation, from their nurses, for sense enough to find their mothers' breasts. And as they grew a little larger, they obtained the power of speaking articulate sounds by external revelation, hearing and imitating the sounds made by others. Further, upon a memorable day, they had a "book revelation" made to them, in the shape of a penny primer, and were initiated into the mysteries of A, B, C, by "the instructions of another, be he who he may." There was absolutely not the least "insight," or "spiritual faculty," or "self-consciousness" in one of them, by which they then could, or ever to this hour did, "find true within them" any sort of necessary connection between the signs, c, a, t—d, o, g—and the sounds cat, dog, or any other sounds represented by any other letters of the alphabet. Faith in the word of their teachers is absolutely the sole foundation and only source of their ability to read and write. On "the word of another, and as his second, be he who he may," every one of them has accepted every intelligible word he speaks or writes.
There is living on Martha's Vineyard an old man who has never been off the island, and the extent of his knowledge is bounded by the confines of his home. He has been told of a war between the North and South, but as he had never heard the din of battle, nor seen any soldiers, he considered it a hoax. He is utterly unable to read, and is ignorant to the last degree. A good story is told of his first and only day at school. He was quite a lad when a lady came to the district, where his father lived, to teach school. He was sent, and as the teacher was classifying the school, he was called upon in turn and interrogated as to his studies. Of course he had to say he had never been to school, and knew none of his letters. The schoolmistress gave him a seat on one side until she had finished the preliminary examination of the rest of the scholars. She then called him to her and drew on the blackboard the letter A, and told him what it was, and asked him to remember how it looked. He looked at it a moment, and then inquired:
"H-h-how do you know it's A?"
The teacher replied that when she was a little girl she had been to school to an old gentleman, who told her so.
The boy eyed the A for a moment and then asked:
"H-h-how do you know but he l-l-lied?"
The teacher could not get over this obstacle, and the poor boy was sent home as incorrigible.
Mr. Emerson, and the whole school of those who despise instruction, had better appoint this man their prophet of the inner light, and endow Martha's Vineyard as the Penikese of skepticism.
But the knowledge of letters is not half of their indebtedness to external revelation. For they will not deny that a Fiji cannibal has just the same "insight," "spiritual faculty," "mighty and transcendent soul," "self-consciousness," or any other name by which they may dignify our common humanity, which they themselves possess. How does it happen, then, that these writers are not assembled around the cannibal's oven, smearing their faces with the blood, and feasting themselves on the limbs of women and children? The inner nature of the cannibal and of the Rationalist is the same—whence comes the difference of character and conduct? And the inner light, too, is the same; for they assure us that "inspiration, like God's omnipresence, is coextensive with the race." Is it not, after all, mere external revelation, in the shape of education—aye, moral and religious teaching that makes the whole difference between the civilized American and his inspired Fiji brother?
These gentlemen not only acknowledge, but try to repay their obligations to external revelation. As it is impossible for God to give the world a book revelation of moral and religious truth, they modestly propose to come to his assistance, it being quite possible for some men to do what is impossible for God. Accordingly, we have a book revelation of moral and religious truth, from one, in his treatise on "The Soul," an "external revelation" from another, in his "Discourse Concerning Religion," a "Morrison's pill from the outside," from a third, in his "Past and Present," and "announcements" from a fourth, which assuredly the great mass of mankind never "found true within them," else his orations and publications had not been needed to convert them. It is to be understood, then, that an "external revelation," or a "book revelation" of spiritual truth is impossible, only when it comes from God, but that these gentlemen have proved it quite possible for themselves to deliver one.
In so doing they have undoubtedly attempted to meet the wishes of the greater part of mankind, who have in all lands and in all ages longed for some outward revelation from God, and testified their desire by running after all sorts of omens, auguries, and oracles, consulting witches, and treasuring Sibylline leaves, employing writing mediums, and listening to spirit-rappers. The "inspiration which is limited to no sect, age, or nation—which is wide as the world, and common as God," has never produced a nation of Rationalists; a fact very unaccountable, if Rationalism be true; and one which might well lead these writers to acknowledge at least one kind of total depravity, namely, that inspired men should love the darkness of external revelations, and even of book revelations, and read Bibles, and Korans, and Vedas, and "Discourses Concerning Religion," and "Phases of Faith," while yet "everything that is of use to man lies in the plane of our own consciousness." Surely, such a universal craving after an external revelation testifies to a felt necessity for it, and renders it probable, or at least desirable, that God would supply the deficiency. Is the religious appetite the only one for which God has provided no supply?
The fact is undeniable, that the grand distinction between man and the brutes presents itself right at this point. God guides animals by direct revelation—by their instincts; but having given man reason, and free will, he gives him the whole field of life for their exercise upon the indirect revelations he makes to us through the mediation of others. For all that we know of history, geography, politics, mechanics, agriculture, poetry, philosophy, or any of the common business of life, from the baking of a loaf of bread, or the sewing of a shirt, to the following of a funeral, and the digging of a grave, we are indebted to education, not to inspiration. All analogy then induces the belief that religion also will be taught to mankind by the ministry of human teachers, rather than by the direct inspiration of every individual.
But we are instructed, that, "as we have bodily senses to lay hold on matter, and supply bodily wants, through which we obtain naturally all needed material things, so we have spiritual faculties to lay hold on God, and supply spiritual wants; through them we obtain all needed spiritual things." That we have both bodily senses and spiritual faculties is doubtless true; but whether either the one or the other obtain all needed things is somewhat doubtful. I can not tell how it is with mankind in Boston, for I am not there; and this being a matter in which religious truth is concerned, Mr. Emerson will not allow me to receive instruction about it from any other soul; but I see from my window a poor widow, with five children, who has bodily senses to lay hold on matter, and supply bodily wants; yet in my opinion she has not obtained naturally all needed material things; and if there be a truth which lies emphatically in the plane of her own consciousness, it is, that she is in great need of a cord of wood, and a barrel of flour, for her starving children. I know, also, a man, to whom God gave bodily senses to lay hold on matter, and supply bodily wants, who, by his drunkenness, has destroyed these bodily senses, and brought his family to utter destitution of all needed material things. From one cause or another, I find multitudes here in poverty and destitution, notwithstanding they have bodily senses. It is reported, also, that there is a poor-house in Boston, and poverty in Ireland, and starvation in Madeira, and famine in the inundated provinces of France, and misery and destitution in London; which, if true, completely overturns this beautiful theory. For, if, notwithstanding the possession of bodily senses, men do starve in this world for want of needful food and clothing, it is very possible that they may have spiritual faculties also, and yet not obtain through them all needed spiritual things.
The second part of the theory is as baseless as the first. All men have spiritual faculties, and have not obtained by them all needed spiritual things. They have not in their own opinion, and surely they are competent judges of "what lies wholly in the plane of their own consciousness." In proof of the fact that mankind have not, in their own opinion, obtained all needed spiritual things by the use of their spiritual faculties, without the aid of external revelation, we appeal to all the religions of mankind, Heathen, Mohammedan, and Christian. Every one of these appeals to revelations from God. Every lawgiver of note professed to have communication with heaven, Zoroaster, Minos, Pythagoras, Solon, Lycurgus, Numa, Mohammed, down to the chief of the recent revolution in China. "Whatever becomes of the real truth of these relations," says Strabo of those before his day, "it is certain that men did believe and think them true." If mankind has found the supply of all their spiritual wants within themselves, would they have clung in this way to the pretense of external revelations? Is not the abundance of quack doctors conclusive proof of the existence of disease, and of the need of physicians?
Not only was the need of an external revelation of some sort acknowledged by all mankind, but the insufficiency of the pretended oracles which they enjoyed was deplored by the wisest part of them. We never find men amidst the dim moonlight of tradition, and the light of nature, vaunting the sufficiency of their inward light; it is only amidst the full blaze of noonday Christianity that philosophers can stand up and declare that they have no need of God's teaching. Had such men lived in Athens of old, they would have found men possessed of spiritual faculties, and those of no mean order, engaged in erecting an altar with this inscription, "To the Unknown God." One of the wisest of the heathen (Socrates) acknowledged that he could attain to no certainty respecting religious truth or moral duty, in these memorable words, "We must of necessity wait, till some one from him who careth for us, shall come and instruct us how we ought to behave toward God and toward man." The chief of the Academy, whose philosophy concerning the eternity of matter occupies a conspicuous place in the creed of American heathens, had no such confidence in the sufficiency of his own powers of discovering religious truth. "We can not know of ourselves what petition will be pleasing to God, or what worship we should pay to him; but it is necessary that a lawgiver should be sent from heaven to instruct us." "Oh how greatly do I long to see that man!" He further declares that "this lawgiver must be more than man, that he may teach us the things man can not know by his own nature." Whether this want of a revelation from God was real, or merely imaginary, will appear by a brief review of the opinions and practices of those who never enjoyed, and of those who reject the light of God's revelation.
They knew not God. If there is any article of religion fundamental, and indispensable to its very existence, it is the knowledge of God. It is admitted by Rationalists that the spiritual faculties are designed to lay hold on God. It has been proved in the previous chapter, and it will be admitted by all but Atheists, that God is an Intelligent Being. And further it has been proved that God is not everything and everybody, but distinct from and supreme over all his works. Besides, in this country at least, there will not be much difference of opinion as to the propriety of a rational being adoring a brute, or a log of wood, or a lump of stone. It will be allowed that such stupidity shows both ignorance and folly. Now let us inquire into the knowledge of God possessed by the people who have no vision.
The Chaldeans, the most ancient people of whom we have any account, and who had among them the immediate descendants of Noah, and whatever traditions of Noah's prophecies they preserved, were probably the best instructed of the heathen. Yet we find that they gave up the worship of God, adored the sun, and moon, and stars of heaven, and in process of time degenerated still further, and worshiped dumb idols. From this rock we were hewn; the common names of the days of the week, and especially of the first day of the week, will forever keep up a testimony to the necessity of that revelation which delivered our forefathers and us from burning our children upon the devil's altars on Sun-days.
The Egyptians were reputed the most learned of mankind, and Egypt was considered the cradle of the arts and sciences. In her existing monuments, hieroglyphic inscriptions, and tomb paintings, we have presented to us the materials for forming a more correct opinion of the religion and life of the Egyptians than of any other ancient people; and the investigation of these monuments is still adding to our information. Infidel writers and lecturers have not hesitated to allege that Moses merely taught the Israelites the religion of Egypt; and some have had the hardihood to allege that the ten commandments are found written on the pyramids, as an argument against the necessity of a revelation. If the statement were true, it would by no means prove the conclusion. Egypt was favored with divine revelations to several of her kings, and enjoyed occasional visits from, or the permanent teachings of, such prophets as Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses, for four hundred years; a fact quite sufficient to account for her superiority to other heathen nations, as well as for the existence of some traces of true religion on her monuments. But the alleged fact is a falsehood. Some good moral precepts are found on the Egyptian monuments, but the ten commandments are not there. It may be charitably supposed that those who allege the contrary never learned the ten commandments, or have forgotten them, else they would have remembered that the first commandment is, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me;" and that Pharaoh indignantly asks, "Who is Jehovah that I should obey his voice? I know not God:" and that the second is, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image," etc., and would have paused before alleging that these commands were engraved on the very temples of idols, and by the priests of the birds, and beasts, and images of creeping things which they adored. It is very doubtful if they believed in the existence of one supreme God, as most of the heathen did; but if they did, "they did not under any form, symbol, or hieroglyphic, represent the idea of the unity of God," as is fully proved by Wilkinson. On the contrary, the monuments confirm the satirical sketch of the poet, as to the "monsters mad Egypt worshiped; here a sea-fish, there a river-fish; whole towns adore a dog. This place fears an ibis saturated with serpents; that adores a crocodile. It is a sin to violate a leek or onion, or break them with a bite." Cruel wars were waged between different towns, as Plutarch tells us, because the people of Cynopolis would eat a fish held sacred by the citizens of Latopolis. Bulls, and dogs, and cats, and rats, and reptiles, and dung beetles, were devoutly adored by the learned Egyptians. A Roman soldier, who had accidentally killed one of their gods, a cat, was put to death for sacrilege. Whenever a dog died, every person in the house went into mourning, and fasted till night. So low had the "great, the mighty and transcendent soul," been degraded that there is a picture extant of one of the kings of Egypt worshiping his own coffin! Such is man's knowledge of God without a revelation from him.
The Greeks, from their early intercourse with Egypt, borrowed from them most of their religion; but by later connections with the Hebrews, about the time of Aristotle and Alexander, they gathered a few grains of truth to throw into the heap of error. After the translation of the Scriptures into Greek, in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus, any of their philosophers who desired might easily have learned the knowledge of the true God. But before this period we find little or no sense or truth in their religion. And the same remarks will apply to the Romans. Their gods were as detestable as they were numerous. Hesiod tells us they had thirty thousand. Temples were erected to all the passions, fears, and diseases to which humanity is subject. Their supreme god, Jupiter, was an adulterer, Mars a murderer, Mercury a thief, Bacchus a drunkard, Venus a harlot; and they attributed other crimes to their gods too horrible to be mentioned. Such gods were worshiped, with appropriate ceremonies, of lust, drunkenness, and bloodshed. Their most sacred mysteries, carried on under the patronage of these licentious deities, were so abominable and infamous, that it was found necessary, for the preservation of any remnant of good order, to prohibit them.
It may be supposed that the human race is grown wiser now than in the days of Socrates and Cicero, and that such abominations are no longer possible. Turn your eyes, then, to India, and behold one hundred and fifty millions of rational beings, possessed of "spiritual faculties," "insight," and "the religious sentiment," worshiping three hundred and thirty millions of gods, in the forms of hills, and trees, and rivers, and rocks, elephants, tigers, monkeys, and rats, crocodiles, serpents, beetles, and ants, and monsters like to nothing in heaven or earth, or under the earth. Take one specimen of all. There is "the lord of the world," Juggernath. "When you think of the monster block of the idol, with its frightfully grim and distorted visage, so justly styled the Moloch of the East, sitting enthroned amid thousands of massive sculptures, the representative emblems of that cruelty and vice which constitute the very essence of his worship; when you think of the countless multitudes that annually congregate there, from all parts of India, many of them measuring the whole distance of their weary pilgrimage with their own bodies; when you think of the merit-earning assiduities constantly practiced by crowds of devotees and religious mendicants, around the holy city, some remaining all day with their head on the ground, and their feet in the air; others with their bodies entirely covered with earth; some cramming their eyes with mud, and their mouths with straw, while others lie extended in a puddle of water; here one man lying with his foot tied to his neck, another with a pot of fire on his breast, a third enveloped in a network of ropes; when, besides these self-inflicted torments, you think of the frightful amount of involuntary suffering and wretchedness arising from the exhaustion of toilsome pilgrimages, the cravings of famine, and the scourgings of pestilence; when you think of the day of the high festival—how the horrid king is dragged forth from his temple, and mounted on his lofty car, in the presence of hundreds of thousands, that cause the very earth to shake with shouts of 'Victory to Juggernath, our Lord;' how the officiating high priest, stationed in front of the elevated idol, commences the public service by a loathsome pantomimic exhibition, accompanied with the utterance of filthy, blasphemous songs, to which the vast multitude at intervals respond, not in the strains of tuneful melody, but in loud yells of approbation, united with a kind of hissing applause; when you think of the carnage that ensues, in the name of sacred offering—how, as the ponderous machine rolls on, grating harsh thunder, one and another of the more enthusiastic devotees throw themselves beneath the wheels, and are instantly crushed to pieces, the infatuated victims of hellish superstition; when you think of the numerous Golgothas that bestud the neighboring plain, where the dogs, jackals and vultures seem to live on human prey; and of those bleak and barren sands that are forever whitened with the skulls and bones of deluded pilgrims which lie bleaching in the sun," you will be able to see an awful force of meaning in the words of our text, and to realize more fully the necessity of a revelation from God, for the preservation of animal life to man. Literally, where there is no vision the people perish. Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word which proceedeth from the mouth of God.
Take one other illustration of ignorance of God in the minds of those who close their eyes against the light of revelation—the heathen of Europe and America, possessing that inspiration which is wide as the world, looking abroad upon all the glorious works of the great Creator, and declaring there is no God. On the other hand, we have men, possessed of this same inspiration, deifying everything, and outrunning even the Hindoos in the multitude of their divinities, declaring that every stick, and stone, and serpent, and snail that crawls on the earth is God, and making professions of holding spiritual communings with them all. To crown the monument of folly, the chief of the Positive Philosophy comes forth with a revelation from his spiritual faculties, in which by way of improving on the proverb "both are best," and of being sure of the truth, he unites Atheism, and Pantheism, and Idolatry—teaches his child to worship idols, the youth to believe in one God, and himself and other full-grown men to adore the "resultant of all the forces capable of voluntarily contributing to the perfectioning of the universe, not forgetting his worthy friends, the animals." To such darkness are men justly condemned who shut their eyes against the light of God's revelation. Where there is no vision the people perish intellectually. He who turns away his ears from the truth must be turned unto fables. "Hear ye and give ear, be not proud, for the Lord hath spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness."
Without a revelation from God, the mind of man can attain to no certainty regarding the most important of all his interests, the destiny of his immortal soul. He knows well—for every sickness, and sorrow, and calamity declares it, and quick returning troubles will not allow him to forget—that the Ruler of the world is offended with him; and conscience tells him why. The sense of guilt is common to the human race. This is, indeed, "the inspiration which knows no sect, no country, no religion, no age; which is as wide as humanity." Reason asks herself, Will God be always thus angry with me? Shall I always feel these pangs of remorse for my sins? Will misery follow me forever, as I see and feel that it does here? Or shall my soul exist under God's frowns, or perish under his just sentence, even as my body perishes? Does the grave hide forever all that I loved? Have they ceased to be? Shall we ever meet again? Or must I say, "Farewell, farewell! An eternal farewell!" And in a few days myself also cease to be? The only answer Reason gives is—solemn silence.
The wisest of men could not tell. Who has not dropped a tear over the dying words of Socrates, "I am going out of the world, and you are to continue in it, but which of us has the better part is a secret to every one but God." Cicero contended for the immortality of the soul against the multitudes of philosophers who denied it in his day; yet, after recounting their various opinions, he is obliged to say, "Which of these is true, God alone knows; and which is most probable, a very great question." And Seneca, on a review of this subject, says: "Immortality, however desirable, was rather promised than proved by these great men."
The multitude had but two ideas on the subject. Either their ghosts would wander eternally in the land of shadows, or else they would pass into a succession of other bodies, of animals or men. From the nakedness and desolation of unclothed spirit, and the possibility which this notion held out of some close contact with a holy and just judge, the soul shrank back to the hope of the metempsychosis, and hoped rather to dwell in the body of a brute, than be utterly unclothed and mingle with spirits. This is the delusion cherished by the people of India and many other lands to this day. How unsatisfactory to the dying sinner this uncertainty. "Tell me," said a wealthy Hindoo, who had given all his wealth to the Brahmins who surrounded his dying bed, that they might obtain pardon for his sins, "Tell me what will become of my soul when I die?" "Your soul will go into the body of a holy cow." "And after that?" "It will pass into the body of the divine peacock." "And after that?" "It will pass into a flower." "Tell me, oh! tell me," cried the dying man, "where will it go last of all?" Where will it go last of all? Aye, that is the question Reason can not answer.
The rejectors of the Bible here are as uncertain on this all-important subject as the heathen of India. They have every variety of oracles, and conjectures, and suppositions about the other world; but for their guesses they offer no proof. When they give us their oracles as if they were known truths, we are compelled to ask, How do you know? The only thing in which they are agreed among themselves is in denying the resurrection of the body; a point which they gathered from their heathen classics. A poor, empty, naked, shivering, table-rapping spirit, obliged to fly over the world at the sigh of any silly sewing girl, or the bidding of some brazen-faced strumpet, is all that ever shall exist of Washington, or Newton, in the scheme of one class of Bible rejectors. To obtain rest from such a doom, others fly to the eternal tomb, and inform us that the soul is simply an acting of the brain, and when the brain ceases to act, the soul ceases also. Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die. But even this hog philosophy is reasonable, compared with the dogma of the large majority, that a man may blaspheme, swear, lie, steal, murder, and commit adultery, and go straight to heaven—that "many a swarthy Indian who bowed down to wood and stone—many a grim-faced Calmuck who worshiped the great god of storms—many a Grecian peasant who did homage to Phoebus Apollo when the sun rose or went down—many a savage, his hands smeared all over with human sacrifice—shall sit down with Moses and Jesus in the kingdom of God." To such wild unreason does the mind of man descend when it rejects the Bible.
Life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel. Where there is no vision, hope perishes. The only plausible creed for him who rejects it is the eternal tomb, and the heart-chilling inscription: "Death is an eternal sleep!"
Without a revelation from God, men are as ignorant how to live, as how to die. They have no rule of life having either truth or authority to direct them. Our Anglo-Saxon ancestors, of the purity of whose blood we are so proud, trusted to their magical incantations for the cure of diseases, for the success of their tillage, for the discovery of lost property, for uncharming cattle and the prevention of casualties. One day was useful for all things; another, though good to tame animals, was baleful to sow seed. One day was favorable to the commencement of business, another to let blood, and others wore a forbidding aspect to these and other things. On this day they were to buy, on a second to sell, on a third to hunt, on a fourth to do nothing. If a child was born on such a day, it would live; if on another, its life would be sickly; if on another, it would perish early. Their descendants who reject the Bible are fully as superstitious. Astrologers, and Mediums, and Clairvoyants, in multitudes, find a profitable trade among them; and one prominent anti-Bible lecturer will cure you of any disease you have, if you will only inclose, in a letter, a lock of hair from the right temple, and—a—five dollar bill.
The precepts of even the wisest men, and the laws of the best regulated States, commanded or approved of vice. In Babylon prostitution was compulsory on every female. The Carthaginian law required human sacrifices. When Agathoclas besieged Carthage, two hundred children, of the most noble families, were murdered by the command of the senate, and three hundred citizens voluntarily sacrificed themselves to Saturn. The laws of Sparta required theft, and the murder of unhealthy children. Those of ancient Rome allowed parents the power of killing their children, if they pleased. At Athens, the capital of heathen literature and philosophy, it was enacted "that infants which appeared to be maimed should either be killed or exposed."
Plato, dissatisfied with the constitution, made a scheme of one much better, which he has left us in his Republic. In this great advance of society, this heathen millennium, we find that there was to be a community of women and of property, just as among our modern heathens. Women's rights were to be maintained by having the women trained to war. Children were still to be murdered, if convenience called for it. And the young children were to be led to battle at a safe distance, "that the young whelps might early scent carnage, and be inured to slaughter."
The teachings of all these philosophers were immoral. He may lie, says Plato, who knows how to do it. Pride and the love of popular applause were esteemed the best motives to virtue. Profane swearing was commanded by the example of all their best writers and moralists. Oaths are frequent in the writings of Plato and Seneca. The gratification of the sensual appetites was openly taught. Aristippus taught that a wise man might steal and commit adultery when he could. Unnatural crimes were vindicated. The last dread crime—suicide—was pleaded for by Cicero and Seneca as the mark of a hero; and Demosthenes, Cato, Brutus, and Cassius, carried the means of self-destruction about them, that they might not fall alive into the hands of their enemies.
The daily lives of these wisest of the heathen corresponded to their teachings, so far at least as vice was concerned. The most notorious vices, and even unnatural crimes, were practiced by them. The reader of the classics does not need to be reminded that such vices are lauded in the poems of Ovid, and Horace, and Virgil; that the poets were rewarded and honored for songs which would not be tolerated for a moment in the vilest theater of New York.
Recently some daily papers and broad-church preachers have taken to the canonization of heathen saints; they denounce vigorously the bigotry of any who will not open to them the gates of heaven, or who will, in general, deny salvation to good heathens. But we do not deny salvation to good heathens, or to good Jews, or to good Mohammedans, or to anybody who is good. God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted of him. Nor are we about to usurp Peter's keys, and lock anybody out of heaven, or into it either; we are only acting as jurymen upon the life and conduct of men held up to our children as noble examples of a good life, in their classics, by heathens like themselves, and recommended now by Christian clergymen, as fitter for the kingdom of God, than bad Christians; which last may be very true, and so much the worse for the bad Christians. But the question is not to be thus decided by comparisons, or by generalities; we must have specified individual heathen saints. When, however, we come to look for them, these saints and heroes prove to be only fit for the penitentiary, according to the laws of any of our States; and were they living now, and behaving themselves according to their accustomed habits, the best of them would be fortunate if they got there before they were tarred and feathered by an outraged public. Socrates, Seneca, and the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, form the stock specimens trotted out of the stables of heathen morality, for the admiration and reverence of Christians in this nineteenth century. But it has been well remarked of Socrates, that no American lady would live with him a year without applying for a divorce, and getting it, too, upon very sufficient grounds. Seneca, who wrote so beautifully upon morals, was an adulterer; and, moreover, prostituted his pen to write a defense of a man who murdered his mother. And Marcus Aurelius directed the murder of thousands of innocent men and women, causing young ladies to be stripped naked and torn to pieces by wild beasts, in the public amphitheater, and others to be roasted alive in red-hot iron chairs, for no other offense but that they avowed themselves Christians. Such are these boasted saints and heroes of heathendom.
What, then, must the lives of the vulgar have been? In the very height of Roman civilization, Trajan caused ten thousand men to hew each other to pieces for the amusement of the Roman people; and noble ladies feasted their eyes on the spectacle. In the Augustan age, when the invincible armies of Rome gave law to half the world, fathers were in the habit of mutilating their sons rather than see them subjected to the slavery and terrible despotism of their officers. What, then, must the state of the people of the vanquished countries have been? Whole provinces were frequently given over to fire and sword by generals not reputed inhuman; and such was the progress of war and anarchy, and their never-failing accompaniments, famine and pestilence, that, in the reign of Gallienus, large cities were left utterly desolate, the public roads became unsafe from immense packs of wolves, and it was computed that one-half of the human race perished. This was just before the toleration of Christianity. God would allow the wisest and bravest of mankind to try the experiment of neglecting his gospel and living without his revelation, until all mankind might be convinced that such a course is suicidal to nations. "Where there is no vision, the people perish."
A brief reference to the codes of morals which the modern opposers of the Bible would substitute for it in Christian lands shall conclude our proof of the necessity of such a revelation of God's law to man, as shall guide his life to peace and happiness.
The family is the basis of the commonwealth. Destroy family confidence and family government, and you destroy society, subvert civil government, and bring destruction on the human race. Mankind are so generally agreed on this subject, that adultery, even among heathens, is regarded and punished as a crime. The whole school of Infidel writers and anti-Bible lecturers, male and female, apologize for, and vindicate this crime. Lord Herbert, the first of the English Deists, taught that the indulgence of lust and anger is no more to be blamed than the thirst occasioned by the dropsy, or the drowsiness produced by lethargy. Mr. Hobbes asserted that every man has a right to all things, and may lawfully get them if he can. Bolingbroke taught that man is merely a superior animal, which is just the modern development theory, and that his chief end is to gratify the appetites and inclinations of the flesh. Hume, whose argument against miracles is so frequently in the mouths of American Infidels, taught that adultery must be practiced, if men would obtain all the advantages of life, and that if practiced frequently, it would by degrees come to be thought no crime at all—a prediction as true as Holy Writ; the fulfillment of which hundreds of the citizens of Cincinnati can attest, who have heard a lecturer publicly denounce the Bible as an immoral book, and in the same address declare that if a woman was married to a man, in her opinion of inferior development, it was her duty to leave him and live with another. This duty is by no means neglected, as the numerous divorces, spiritual marriages, separations, and elopements among this class of persons, testify. Voltaire held that it was not agreeable to policy to regard it as a vice in a moral sense. Rousseau, a liar, a thief, and a debauched profligate, according to his own printed "Confessions," held the same high opinion of the inner light as our American Spiritualists. "I have only to consult myself," said he, "concerning what I do. All that I feel to be right, is right."
In fact, the purport of this inner light doctrine is exactly as Rousseau expressed it, and amounts simply to this, Do what you like.
On this lawless principle these men acted. Take, for example, the chief saint on the calendar of American Infidelity, whose birthday is annually celebrated by a festival in this city, and in whose honor hundreds of men, who would like to be reputed decent citizens, parade the streets of Cincinnati in solemn procession—Thomas Paine—the author of "The Age of Reason," as his character is depicted by one who was his helper in the work of blaspheming God and seducing men, and whose testimony, therefore, in the eyes of an Infidel, is unimpeachable—William Carver.
"MR. THOMAS PAINE: I received your letter, dated the 25th ult., in answer to mine, dated November 21, and after minutely examining its contents, I found that you had taken to the pitiful subterfuge of lying for your defense. You say that you paid me four dollars per week for your board and lodging, during the time you were with me, prior to the first of June last; which was the day that I went up, by your order, to bring you to York, from New Rochelle. It is fortunate for me that I have a living evidence that saw you give me five guineas, and no more, in my shop, at your departure at that time; but you said you would have given me more, but that you had no more with you at present. You say, also, that you found your own liquors during the time you boarded with me; but you should have said, 'I found only a small part of the liquor I drank during my stay with you; this part I purchased of John Fellows, which was a demi-john of brandy, containing four gallons,' and this did not serve you three weeks. This can be proved, and I mean not to say anything I can not prove, for I hold truth as a precious jewel. It is a well-known fact that you drank one quart of brandy per day, at my expense, during the different times you boarded with me; the demi-john above mentioned excepted, and the last fourteen weeks you were sick. Is not this a supply of liquor for dinner and supper." * * * "I have often wondered that a French woman and three children should leave France and all their connections, to follow Thomas Paine to America. Suppose I were to go to my native country, England, and take another man's wife and three children of his, and leave my wife and children in this country, what would be the natural conclusion in the minds of the people, but that there was some criminal connection between the woman and myself?"