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benefices without a resident clergyman; 157 benefices where no divine worship is ever performed ; 41 benefices where there is not a single Episcopalian ; 100 benefices, in each of which there are not twenty Episcopalians, and 424, in each of which there are not 100. In fifty benefices, where there are in all only 527 Episcopalians, the income from the tythe is 70,000 dollars. No wonder that the tythes can be collected only by the militia and by bloodshed.
Chapter VI. treats of the Supposed Efficacy of the Territorial Distribution of an Establishment. Dr. Chalmers contends that a dissenting minister can influence only those that come to him, who voluntarily put themselves under his charge, and are numbered among his weekly hearers, and that some individuals and familjes must, therefore, be beyond the sphere of his control. Now all experience shows that even if a clergyman, (that is, of the Establishment,), wishes to accomplish anything more than this, he must have recourse to the same principle, which has animated all dissenting labors. He, too, as well as the minister, must seek out those who will not come to him. (All our readers may not be aware, that only those preachers who belong to the Establishment are called clergymen. Dissenting preachers are called ministers.) The Establishment has been based on the territorial principle for ages; and so far has it been from affecting those who do not come to the churches, that it has not even filled the churches. In the midst of all the means and power of the Church, Dissent, besides aiding to support the Church, has gathered more than 8,000 congregations alone, many of them from among the poor, the illiterate, and the immoral. Dr. Chalmers would have the whole country divided in piecemeal, and a clergyman set over and supported by every seven hundred individuals. Great injustice and tyranny and peculation would necessarily be involved in this arrangement; but even if it could fairly be accomplished, success could be insured only by overcoming temptations to idleness, and by voluntary effort to do good. These are the very means which, Dissent contends, prosper in her hands.
Chapter VII. and last, presents the Voluntary Principle, and its Results. Dissenters assert, that the voluntary support of religion is sufficient for the supply of their own wants, and for the conversion of the world. Dr. Chalmers endeavors to evade the evidence of facts, by distinguishing between internal and external voluntaryism; internal, being where individuals volunta
them to believe ; because faith satisfies a want of their nature, and that the creed in which they believe suits their purest and best feelings better than any other that they have seen. Their faith is emphatically the faith of the heart; and while the heart is
pure and virtuous, their faith is firm and serene. But when their heart becomes corrupted, all their faith is gone. Their sin reappears as a thick heavy mist, through which nothing can appear clear and beautiful. No one, while the dark cloud of remorse hung over him, ever saw the Father smiling through it. The cloud must be dispersed, before the sun will shine upon the individual. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall
We know very well, that “the wages of sin is death,” and while the fire that is not quenched is burning the vitals, and the worm that dieth not is gnawing the heart, there can be no serene faith in God and immortality ; there can be no beauty in Jesus, that he should be desired. The fountains of love and devotion are polluted in their very source. While an individual is in this state, any dissertation upon the evidences of revealed religion, or any argument addressed to the intellect, however sound and conclusive it may be in itself, will be as inefficient to give him a cheerful faith, as it would be to allay the fire of a fever while the disease is raging in every pulse and fibre of his system. Unbelievers of this class can be but little benefited by the book before us, or, indeed, by any book that does not make them better men. They should be reminded of the declaration of Jesus, that “if any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.”
But, there is a third class, in whom intellect predominates over the heart and its affections. They are more philosophers than poets; whereas the last class mentioned are more poets than philosophers. This third class will not believe what they cannot understand, and give an account of that will satisfy the philosophic element of their souls. The first class that we spoke of do as they have been taught; the second act according to their feelings, their purest and divinest instincts, — their consciences. They ask for nothing further than that their instincts, their consciences, should approve a thing, and then they will believe and act. But the third class will not do and believe as they have been taught, until they have examined and satisfied themselves that what they have been taught is right. They are not willing, either, to follow their instincts and feelings, until they have proved by an appeal to something that is beyond their influence, that these instincts and feelings are right. If you say to them, “if any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God,” they will answer, yes, but then the question is, what is His will ? this is what I must know before I can do it. If you refer to Revelation, they have not yet admitted its authority. If you refer to their consciences, they are troubled to decide what is conscience and what passion, selfishness, or mere blind impression. Hence they can neither receive anything dogmatically, upon outward authority, nor can they receive it poetically, as resting upon the sentiments and affections. There is now but one resource left them. They must build upon the intuitions of the reason, and when they have got a sound and correct philosophy, they can legitimate authority, and their sentiments and feelings, and henceforth these become grounds of faith. For this class Mr. Brownson's book is especially intended.
Infidelity is a phenomenon no less interesting to the philosopher than to the philanthropist and Christian. It should be calmly and candidly studied. No one may pretend to have found the cause of its appearing at any given time or in any individual, until he can state the infidel's views and difficulties to the satisfaction of the infidel himself. When we can do this, we may
feel sure that we have seen things from his point of view, and are in possession of the first and the indispensable prerequisite for confuting and convincing him. If we find its cause to be in the moral nature, if it proceed from a corruption and depravity of the heart, then the infidel must be made a better man before he can believe. He that understands this kind of infidelity will not insist, at first, upon the infidel's believing in God, in Christ, and Immortality. He will seek to make him believe in and practise truth and virtue, and the kindly and social affections. By faith in these things, the unbeliever will be prepared for a faith in God and Immortality. He must understand earthly things before he can understand heavenly ones. But we believe that infidelity, - that is, avowed infidelity, - seldom proceeds from this cause.
When one is really an infidel from the corruption of his heart, he has an instinctive sense of shame, which leads him to conceal, as far as he can, his want of faith, though he be not perfectly conscious that it proceeds from his depravity. He, therefore, professes to believe in and honor the institutions of Christianity. Hence the avowal of infidelity is always a good symptom. It is the confession that there is a disease, and the
it than the writer of the present article, that he has. The fact is certain, that with all the advantages of being persecuted and imprisoned for opinion's sake, this party has been decreasing for several years. Kneeland has gone to the West. We give the following extracts from a letter of his, published in the Investigator for March 25, 1840. The letter is dated Salubria, (I. T.) Jan. 29, 1840: “ Alas! what a change has one year made! Our numerous, not to say innumerable friends, where are they?
But I fear the Investigator, which has been such a bold and zealous advocate for free inquiry, must die for want of patronage. . . . If I am correctly informed, the paper has gone behind-hand more during this volume, than it has done in any one volume since its commencement, even the first.” This, he thinks, however, is partly owing to the “ scarcity of money, and the non-payment of dues.”
If this result, or any part of it, has been brought about by Mr. Brownson, and such views as he has given us in this book, then certainly we ought to consider how far it may be a means of converting those, who still doubt or disbelieve, to a serene faith.
Infidelity is thought by many, and we suppose rightly, to be a characteristic of our age. As it manifests itself, it is a serious evil. We believe that it is felt to be so by many of those who are its victims, as well as by those most interested in upholding the institutions of Revealed Religion. They feel their want of faith to be their misfortune rather than their fault. Whether we think so or not, it is quite certain that they do; and it is nearly as certain that we cannot exert much if any good influence upon them, if we begin by contradicting them. Besides, if they are right in this opinion, it would not only be unjust, but cruel, to charge to their fault an evil, the worst part of which they themselves suffer. These men are some of the most shrewd and thoughtful of our citizens, as we suspect almost any one, that has tried logic with them, must have found. We do not say that they are the soundest and best informed men that we have, though many of them are very well read. We think,
, therefore, that their want of faith cannot be charged upon an obtuseness of intellect. Is it to be charged upon a depravity of heart? Without stopping to consider whether their moral sense and habits are as correct and pure as they should be, or not, we think that it will appear from the nature of their difficulties, that they could not arise from a corruption of the
heart. They are intellectual difficulties, — difficulties, which the heart has nothing to do with. This, at least, is the case with many persons.
For our present purpose, we may consider mankind as divided into three classes, according to their manner of receiving their religious faith, and the foundation upon which it rests during their lives.'
The first class consists of those whose pious parents gave them a careful religious education, and who have never been led, by the development of the philosophic element, or by the spontaneous activity of their minds, to doubt what their parents taught them. They have never sought for the philosophical grounds of what they received dogmatically, when, from their age, they could receive it in no other
The book before us professes to give the philosophical grounds of faith, and, of course, it cannot interest those who have never felt the want of these grounds. Perhaps the immediate effect of this book upon their minds would be bad; for it might unsettle what has been, hitherto, a quiet, serene faith, and one that was abundantly adequate to all the wants of their souls. The book will shock and disturb such persons, for it will raise doubts and perplexities in their minds, which they might otherwise have escaped. Nay, we doubt not, that to persons of this class, that to which Elwood was converted, will appear to be no less infidelity than that from which he was converted. This, however, could not have been avoided, for it was the faith which these persons consider to be orthodox, and whose philosophical grounds they bave never sought for, which, as it was presented by them, could not satisfy Elwood, and which, therefore, drove him to renounce all faith in the supernatural, and avow himself an unbeliever. Persons of this class never avow infidelity. The faith and church of their fathers entirely satisfy their souls. This class of persons will not be benefited by the book before us. It is not for them.
The second class is composed of those in whom the sentiments, and affections, — the poetic element, — predominate over thought and reflection, — the philosophic element. Such persons are seldom troubled about the philosophical grounds of their faith. They are never able to give any account of their faith, even when it is ever so strong, that will satisfy the philosophic mind. All that they can say amounts to nothing more than that they believe because their instincts and affections lead