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nished a body of facts and arguments in which it might be supposed every topic would be exhausted, and nothing left to be desired in the analysis of those evidences on which the fundamental truths of all religion are established. If we look more closely into the nature of the discussion, we however perceive that this is far from being the case. With the majority of writers on Natural Theology, the mere accumulation of particular instances of design from different parts of the natural world has been almost the sole object of attention. Now though it cannot be denied that they have thus most advantageously brought the resources of all branches of science to bear on the question, yet (to whatever source it may be traced) a great deficiency appears to exist to the exact analysis of principles, and the philosophy of the argument; of which it must be confessed we meet with frequent instances, even among writers of high eminence. The cultivators of physical science, perhaps, have not been generally disposed or qualified to enter upon logical distinctions ; while the theological and metaphysical inquirers have too commonly been but little versed in physical evidence, and have thus failed to appreciate and enforce the extent and importance of the great argument from the order and arrangement of physical laws and causes.”—p. x.
And again, in reference to the independence of Natural and Revealed Theology
“My main object is to examine the connexion and relation between the several great branches of the inquiry ;-between physical science and natural theology, as also between this and revealed religion ; each in succession furnishing the necessary basis of evidence to the next; and again, the independence of each with respect to the succeeding, as essential to the order and force of the reasoning, whilst they yet maintain a close connexion with, and reaction upon, each other.”—p. xii.
Several times these two ideas are repeated as the leading objects of the work—to analyse the argument—to examine the nature of the reasoning—to exhibit the conclusiveness of the successive steps--and to maintain the integrity of Nature and Revelation as independent sources of Evidence for the class of Truths belonging respectively to their own departments.
We cannot say that Professor Powell, though he has produced a very valuable work, has accomplished his own desires in respect to either of these objects. The argument, from the manifestations of design to a designing God, is still a moral and not a scientific one, and ever must remain so—one of spiritual impression, and not one of demonstrative proof: and the connexion between Natural and Revealed Religion has been treated so as to leave the true question, What is the nature of the Scriptures ? almost untouched, and consequently to furnish no satisfactory principle for explaining the disagreements between phy
sical science and scriptural language. Though it is impossible to doubt the honesty of its writer's mind, it is in this latter respect, in effect, a book of evasion. He asks, Can it be supposed that Moses was commissioned to teach Geology to the Jews ? But when his question is answered to his satisfaction in the negative, he does not seem to perceive that another question remains, the right adjustment of which is the only point of importance How does the rejection of one portion of its contents affect the character of the Bible as a book of instruction? Is it to remain an inspired and perfect book in all other respects than those in which Natural Science proves it to be wrong? Are we still to maintain the principle of its perfection, with such an exception of particulars as the progress of knowledge may require, the exceptions leaving the residue unaffected, or, perhaps, proving the rule? Or will not such admissions rather require from us a re-adjustment of all our views of the Design and Methods of Revelation, and a more philosophical idea of the harmony of Science and Scripture than that which is the growth of the successive yieldings of the one to the prerogatives of the other?
We are sorry to find a mind like Professor Powell's, so clear and philosophical in some other departments of the subject, taking quick refuge in the first view that offered him a shelter from his perplexities, and explaining the differences between Scripture and Science on the easy principle that Inspiration does not extend to matters of physical inquiry, that the Bible is only a spiritual guide. We are still more sorry, in cases where this explanation cannot be offered, where God himself, as in the Decalogue, is represented as uttering the statements which Science disowns, to find him, after attempting some justification of a human teacher divinely inspired, falling in with the prejudices and errors of his hearers, on the ground of the immoral 66 distinction between the actual and formal inculcation of such views, and their incidental adoption as a vehicle for other instructions," resolving this same question, not as it concerns a human Teacher, but as it concerns the direct utterances of God himself, into the consideration, the affirmative of which the
tent, we can consistently believe the Deity to have adopted the course of accommodating the representations in which he thought fit to clothe his communications to the existing prejudices and belief, even when erroneous, of the parties addressed.” Now what can we expect of holy or good from views of a Revelation, the very first necessity of which is to palter in this way with the moral character of the infinite Mind from which it proceeded? How could it be expected that such arbitrary views as the following should be satisfactory to a real believer in the inspiration of the Scriptures,---views not denying inspiration, yet subjecting it indefinitely to the correction of knowledge derived from natural sources, and affording no certainty that it is a true inspiration, even when God himself is represented as the speaker?
"In every rock we trace infallible monuments of the progress of creation; we truly read the records in ‘ tables of stone inscribed with the finger of God.' When we compare these with documents of a different kind, we are compelled to acknowledge the visible inscriptions and the written representations to be at direct variance, so long as the historical character of that representation be insisted on. The only alternative is to admit that it was not intended for an HISTORICAL narrative ; and if the representation cannot have been designed for literal history, it only remains to regard it as having been intended for the better enforcement of its objects in the language of figure and poetry : and to allow that the manner in which the Deity was pleased to reveal himself to the Jews, as accomplishing the work of creation, was (like so many other points of their dispensation) veiled in the guise of apologue and parable ; and that only a more striking representation of the greatness and majesty of the Divine power and creative wisdom was intended by embodying the expression of them in the language of dramatic action.”
Here it is not denied that the representation comes from God himself; and yet it is affirmed that, for the sake of more strikingly exhibiting the Divine power and creative wisdom, he gives an account of the creation, in all its particulars historically false. And all this the able author considers sufficiently explained by calling it poetry-poetry producing true impressions by means of fictitious representations. And this is a resort not unworthy of Deity; misleading as to facts for the sake of impressions ; narrating what never took place for the sake of effect: and this is the POETRY of God. Can we wonder that our Evangelicals are not satisfied with the scriptural explanations of our men of science ?
We repeat that there are in Professor Powell's book indubitable signs of honesty and courage. He is not afraid to meet the question : nor has a truth, of whatever kind it may be, or from whatever quarter it may come, any power to alarm him. His misfortune has been that he has found too easy a resolution of his difficulties; that he is not aware of the extent of the question he has raised respecting the true character of the Scriptures, nor of the nature of the inquiries which it opens. It must be a profounder view and a more searching examination than his, one altering the entire position of Theology, that will avail to place Revelation in true harmony with Science.
The short and easy method adopted by Professor Powell, is to consider the Scriptures not inspired in the departments of physical inquiry. Whether he believes in any other limitations to Inspirations we do not know; but it is the only one he states, and moreover, which is very remarkable, it is the only one that necessarily arises out of his own definition of Natural Theology. Wherever natural science establishes a truth, a truth of Geology or Astronomy for instance, which truth is not in harmony with the language of the Bible, there our author bows to the authority of the Natural Evidences, and sets aside the Scriptural opinion. Now is it only where Physical Science is concerned, that he will admit the interference of this principle of interpretation ? Will he grant as much to Moral Science? Will he admit a Moral Philosophy independent of the Scriptures, as well as a Natural Philosophy independent of the Scriptures; and will he concede that the alleged Inspiration of the Bible is to be set aside when it cannot be reconciled with established moral truths, as fully as he now sets it aside when it cannot be reconciled with established physical truths ? Is the Material world the only source we have of religious knowledge, independent of the Scriptures? Is Natural Theology only a deduction from Natural Philosophy? Does the whole Moral world teach us no certain truths, by which we are to judge of, and, if necessary, to limit, the inspiration of the Scriptures? It is very extraordinary that our enlightened author confines the sources of our Natural Theology to the limits of Natural Philosophy, as if physical facts alone were able to convey to us any certain knowledge, and that in all other respects we were but the passive recipients, instead of the intelligent and discriminating disciples, and, as necessary to this the judges, of revelation. Now if this were so, it is very evident that it would go to destroy Natural Theology altogether. If we have no Moral Knowledge except that which the Scriptures teach us, then, since his moral character is essential to any distinct idea of a personal God, to any Theism that is not Pantheism, we have no conception of Deity except what the Scriptures give us, if indeed, on this supposition they could give us any conception at all; and it would be no difficult matter to demonstrate that they could not. If we have a moral knowledge independent of the Scriptures, then must that MORAL KNOWLEDGE hold to the Scriptures, as a judge of their contents, and a qualifier of their inspiration, precisely the same relation that is accorded to PhysICAL KNOWLEDGE. There is no escaping from this dilemma. Either we have no moral knowledge independent of Revelation, and then we have no Natural Theology independent of Revelation,
we learn nothing from Nature of a moral or personal God: or we have a Moral Knowledge independent of Revelation, and if so, this Moral Knowledge is not to be judged by, but to judge, Inspiration and Scripture. In other words, we claim for Moral Science the same independent position relatively to the Scriptures which Professor Powell claims for Material Science. We feel confident, from the tone of his book, that he is as far as any man can be from denying the existence of an independent Moral Science, deducible from the facts of Consciousness and the history of Humanity; that he has no sympathy whatsoever with the Wardlaw School, who assert that Humanity has no Ethics; that man, more unhappy than the brutes, is not a law unto himself; and yet he does not see, for we have no suspicion that he does not choose to see, how this Ethical Faith of his necessarily leads to an enlargement of the sources of Natural Theology, and affects “ the connexion of Natural and Divine Truth,” assigning to the former a more important and independent position in reference to the latter.
It may, perhaps, appear to some who look only at the title of the book, that we are blaming its author for not introducing a portion of the general subject which makes no part of his particular design, which is stated to be “ the Study of the Inductive Philosophy Considered as Subservient to Theology." But if an author, taking up a part of a subject, treats it as if it was the whole, and asserts it to be so, he must be judged accordingly. The limitation on his title-page cannot be pleaded in his defence, when he shows in the body of his work that he considers his limited theme to cover the whole field of the inquiry. We complain of Professor Powell, not that he makes Natural Religion independent of Revealed Religion, to the extent of its inferences from Physical Science--but that he so limits and defines Natural Theology as to make this the whole extent of its independence. We shall show, by statements taken from various parts of his work, that he speaks as if Natural Theology, founded on physics alone, had a right to dissent from the physics of the Bible; and that, consequently, as not being founded at all on Moral Evidences, it cannot ethically interfere with or modify the representations of the Scriptures. This latter our author does not directly assert, but it follows necessarily from his assigning to Natural Religion only a material or physical foundation.
“ The stability of Natural Theology rests upon the demonstrations of physical truth.”-p. 1. : “ It has been well observed by Dr. Turton, · Natural theology is, in fact, natural philosophy-physical science in its utmost extent-studied