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eign Standard Literature, and adopted as a text-book of moral philosophy in the University of Cambridge. It has been read by many among us, been favorably noticed by several of our leading journals, and is, probably, as well known and as highly esteemed in our community as similar works on similar subjects generally are, or can be expected to be.
We ourselves were the first to bring the work to the notice of the American public, by a favorable review of it inserted in The Christian Eraminer, for September, 1837. We then estimated the work very highly, and regarded it as a valuable contribution to moral science. As such we spoke of it ; as such we commended it ; we honestly believed that it had solved the great ethical problems, and prepared the way for the construction, on the law of nature as discoverable by natural reason, of a complete and satisfactory system of ethics, which would endure as long as human nature should remain unaltered. Our review of the work, and the commendatory terms in which we have on several occasions spoken of it, have, no doubt, contributed somewhat to the favorable reception it has found in our community ; and we therefore feel it incumbent on us to assign at least some few of the reasons which have finally operated to change our views of it, and to induce us to reject its principal doctrines as insufficient, false, or mischievous.
We are not surprised that we should have approved this work at the time we did, for it issued from a school of philosophy to which we were then attached ; but nothing seems to us more unaccountable, now, than the confidence and warmth with which we received the teachings of that school, of which M. Jouffroy, if not one of the founders, was at least one of its most distinguished disciples, - unless, indeed, it be the fact, that they were also received by some of our friends, well qualified by age, experience, attainments, and natural ability to be our masters. Some eight or ten years ago, we regarded the Eclectic school as a glorious school, and counted it our highest felicity to be recognized by its master, M. Victor Cousin, as one of his disciples. Many amongst us, indeed, opposed it, but, unhappily, in bad temper, or on untenable grounds; and their opposition tended only to confirm our confidence, increase our admiration, and inflame our devotion. But since the novelty has worn off, and we have had leisure to recover our self-possession, and to look, with an undazzled eye, the school calmly and steadily in the face, we have found it utterly unsatisfactory, and utterly unable to solve a single important problem. It throws no light on any of the dark passages of human nature, gives no satisfac
tory explanation of the past history of our race, presents no consistent theory of the universe, and furnishes no solution of our future destiny. All too late for our personal credit as a philosopher have we discovered this ; for all too late for our credit as a philosopher, though we hope not all too late to make sure of our destiny as a man, have we discovered that philosophy, separated from supernatural revelation, is unable to solve any of the great problems of man or the universe.
Philosophy, taken strictly, is science deducing conclusions from principles obtained by the light of natural reason, and can arrive at no conclusion which is valid beyond the range of natural reason. But all the great problems of man and the universe lie beyond this range, and therefore, if solved at all, can be solved only by the aid of supernatural revelation. When we discovered this fact, we enlarged our definition of philosophy, and defined it science deducing conclusions from principles obtained both from reason and revelation. In this sense the word philosophy is used in all our writings for the last two or three years. But in this sense philosophy is made to embrace not only philosophy properly so called, but theology also. This usage of the word is unauthorized, is unnecessary, and tends to generate confusion. Moreover, there is a science of man and the universe, and even of the Author of man and the universe, deduced from principles furnished by natural reason, and distinct from theology, which is very true, and very important. This science, from the time of Pythagoras, has received the name of philosophy. This is its proper name, and this name it should be permitted to bear.
In defining philosophy to be science deducing its conclusions from natural reason alone, and in declaring it impotent to solve the great problems of the universe, we say nothing against reason, and imply no distrust of reason. We merely say, what all know to be true, that reason has its bounds, beyond which it cannot pass. All our faculties are good, and were given us to be exercised. Reason is man's distinguishing characteristic. It is this which distinguishes him from the animal world. It would, therefore, be absurd to forbid him to exercise his reason, the faculty which ennobles him and gives him his rank in the scale of being. Moreover, if we were to deny to man the exercise of his reason, or if we were even to distrust it, we should deny to him the possibility of having any well grounded faith, — indeed, of having any faith at all. For, though faith itself is never taken on the authority of reason, but on the veracity of God, who reveals it, yet the motives of credibility are all addressed to reason, and reason judges supremely whether the witness for God be worthy of credit or not. All we ask is, that reason be confined to its legitimate province, and that men do not attempt to do by reason what they cannot do
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The error of philosophers is not in their using reason, but in using it unreasonably, — in fancying that by its aid alone they can discover the true end of man, and determine the rules according to which he should conduct his life ; or, in other words, in imagining that philosophy may supersede revelation by taking cognizance of the same matters. Our modern philosophers, on the one hand, magnify beyond all reason the power of reason, and imagine they obtain results from it which they obtain only, directly or indirectly, from supernatural revelation ; or, on the other hand, professing to accept supernatural revelation, unduly depress, under pretence of explaining it, and reduce the mysteries of faith to mere propositions of philosophy. This last is the error of the Eclectic school. It professes to accept all the mysteries of faith, but that, in accepting, it explains them ; and at first sight it seems to do what it professes. It is this which deceives us. ductions. We find all the consecrated terms of faith, in name at least, all the dogmas the most rigid orthodoxy can insist upon our believing, and we do not readily see what is wanting. All is explained ; all seems perfectly clear and easy ; we are enraptured, and exclaim, All hail, glorious and triumphant philosophy! But as soon as we begin to look a little deeper, to penetrate a little below the surface, we discover, that, if we have the orthodox terms, we have by no means the orthodox
The proposition, we took to be the dogma of faith, turns out to be merely a proposition of philosophy, and the explanation of the mystery to be simply its rejection. The Christianity we seemed to have grasped with a firm hold, and which we felt so able to demonstrate, proves to be merely a cold speculation and a chilling infidelity.
The Eclectic school falls into a fatal error, — that of assuming that religion and philosophy do not differ as to their matter, but only as to their form. Faith is the truth, but the truth enveloped ; philosophy is the same truth, but developed. This is M. Cousin's doctrine ; it was also M. Jouffroy's. But as the truth developed and possessed in the clear light of philosophy is much superior to truth enveloped in the mystic folds of faith, so philosophy is superior to religion. Yet, as all cannot rise to this clear vision, or obtain the transcendent lucidity of the
Eclectic philosophy, so philosophy, with a generous condescension, a noble pity for human weakness, deigns to take religion under its protection, and to extend the hand to the ignorant masses who are still enveloped in its folds ! Thus, M. Jouffroy contends that Christianity must needs recoil before the advance of philosophy, and finally disappear, when all the world become philosophers. No doubt, faith Joses itself where vision begins, but the error is in assuming that faith embraces no matters which transcend the reach of philosophy. The matter of faith and philosophy is not one and the same. The matter of philosophy is what is intrinsically evident to natural reason ; the matter of faith is that portion of universal truth which God has been pleased to reveal, which is intrinsically inevident to
Fides est credere quod non vides, says St. Augustine : Faith is, to believe that which you see not ;-or, as says the blessed Apostle Paul, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things which appear not, — Argumentum non apparentium.” (Heb. xi. 1.) The matter of faith, then, is not the matter of philosophy, but transcends it, and is that before which philosophy must bow down and worship.
M. Cousin is right in representing faith as obscure, but wrong in predicating this obscurity of the form under which its matter is apprehended. He is wholly mistaken, when he makes faith the enthusiastic perception of truth, clothing itself in the picturesque forms of poetry, and expressing itself only in the hymn and the chant. It is not faith, but devotion consequent upon faith, that demands sacred hymns and chants. The dogmas of faith, as laid down in the Credo, are expressed in forms as clear, as precise, as exact, as sober, as philosophy herself can aspire to. The dogmas of the Trinity, of the Incarnation, of Transubstantiation, as formal propositions to be believed, are as simple and as intelligible as the proposition, two and two make four. They are, no doubt, great and impenetrable mysteries ; but the mystery is not in the form, but in the matter, - not in the expression, but in the thought. This single fact overthrows the whole Eclectic theory concerning divine revelation and the difference between religion and philosophy.
The Eclectic school, the modern German schools, and even our liberal Christians, as they call themselves, really reject all supernatural revelation, in believing themselves able to explain its mysteries. To explain, in the sense these understand it, is to make intrinsically evident to natural reason. They wish to explain the mysteries, that is, to find in them some intrinsic evidence of their truth, so that they may believe them
without being obliged to take them on the authority of Him who reveals them. But nothing can be made intrinsically evident to reason, whose intrinsic truth transcends reason, or, what is the same thing, is not naturally knowable by reason. The contents of supernatural revelation are matters whose intrinsic truth transcends natural reason. For if not, they would not need to be supernaturally revealed, and we should have with supernatural revelation no more than we might have without it. Consequently, the contents of supernatural revelation, or the matter revealed, are necessarily inexplicable to natural reason, and therefore the attempt to explain its mysteries is only to attempt to prove that they are not matters supernaturally revealed.
A supernatural revelation must necessarily contain mysteries. A mystery is something whose intrinsic truth is inevident to natural reason, and therefore inexplicable to natural reason. pretended revelation, containing no mysteries, would be proved at once not to be supernatural, because it would be all explicable to natural reason. It might be true, we grant; but its truth would be truth pertaining to the natural order, not to the supernatural order. The simple question is, Has God made us a revelation of truths of the supernatural order? If not, we are left to the light of nature, and it is idle to talk of divine revelation. If he has, then these truths must needs be mysteries, intrinsically inevident, though extrinsically evident ; that is, evident, not because we apprehend their internal reasonableness and truth, but because the authority of God revealing them is ample warrant of their truth. We do not, in saying that they are intrinsically inevident, say that it is unreasonable to believe them. Far from it. Nothing is more reasonable than to believe on the veracity of God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived; nothing, in fact, would be more unreasonable than not to believe God on his word. Our philosophers and liberal Christians, then, instead of seeking to explain the mysteries, should ask rather if God has revealed them, or if we have sufficient grounds for believing that he has revealed them. We cannot conclude from the internal reasonableness of the doctrine to the fact of revelation, but we must conclude from the fact of revelation to the internal reasonableness.
The pretended explanation of a real mystery is never its explanation, but always its rejection. This is evident from the language of our liberal Christians themselves. They are great in explaining the mysteries. After philosophizing awhile on a mystery, they seize, as they imagine, its real significance,