[blocks in formation]

confounding and distressing sensation. Seeing, as we see, is the result of habit, acquired by long-continued use. The new-born babe must have time to exercise its eyes, and exercise its little mind as well, before it can distinguish face from face, and form from form. The man who has just received his sight must have time for similar exercise, before he can enjoy the rich pleasures and advantages of sight to perfection. Even we who have had our sight for fifty years do not see as many things in a picture, a landscape, or a bed of flowers, when we see them for the first time, as those who have been accustomed to inspect and examine such objects for years.

'And so it is with mental and moral vision. Something more than a mind, and instruction, and mental objects are necessary to enable a man to understand religion and duty. Attention, study, comparison, continued with calmness, and candor, and patience, for days, for months, or for years, may be necessary to enable a skeptic to understand, to believe, and to feel like those who have long been disciples of Christ.

'And a change of habits, continued till it produces a change of tastes and desires, is necessary to prepare the sensualist to judge correctly with regard to things moral and religious. We must not therefore expect a good lecture, or an able book, to cure a skeptic of his doubts at once. It may produce an effect which, in time, if the party be faithful to duty, will end in his conversion at a future day. The seed committed to the soil does not produce rich harvests in a day. A change of air and habits does not at once regenerate the invalid. The husbandman has to wait long for his crop and the physician has to wait long for the recovery of his patient. And the skeptic has to wait long, till the seed of truth, deposited in his soul, unfolds its germs, and produces the rich ripe harvest of faith, and holiness, and joy.

Ánd preachers and teachers must not think it strange, if their hearers and readers are slow to change. Nor must they despond even though no signs of improvement appear for months or years. A change for the better in a student may not be manifest till it has been in progress for years. It may not be perfected for many years. You cannot force a

change of mind, as you can force the growth of a plant in a hot-house. An attempt to do so might stop it altogether. Baxter said, two hundred years ago, 'Nothing so much hindereth the reception of the truth, as urging it on men with too much importunity, and falling too heavily on their errors.'

'Have patience, then. Teach, as your pupil may be prepared to learn, but respect the laws of the Eternal, which have fixed long intervals for slow and silent processes, between the seed-time and the harvest-home.'

While I am in doubt as to whether I have put into my book too much on some subjects, I am thoroughly convinced that I have put into it too little on others. I have not said enough, nor half enough, on Atheism. I ought to have exposed its groundlessness, its folly, and its mischievous and miserable tendency at considerable length.

This defect I shall try to remedy as soon as possible, and in the best way I can.

Some weeks ago I read a paper before the M. E. Preachers' Meeting of Philadelphia, on ATHEISM,—what can it say for itself? The paper was received with great favor, and many asked for its publication. It will form the first article in my next volume.

I expect, in fact, to give the subject of Atheism a pretty thorough examination in that volume, and to show that it is irrational and demoralizing from beginning to end, and to the last extreme.


John Stuart Mill, the head and representative of English Literary and Philosophical Atheists, has left us a history of his life, and of his father's life. In this work he sents us with full length portraits of himself and his father, and both gives us their reasons for being Atheists, and reveals to us the influence of their Atheism on their hearts and characters, as well as on their views on morality, politics, and other important subjects.

And though the painter, as we might expect, flatters to some extent both himself and his father, yet he gives us the more important features of both so truthfully, that we have no difficulty in learning from them, what kind of creatures great Philosophical Atheists are, or in gathering from their works a great amount of information about

[blocks in formation]

infidelity, of the most melancholy, but of the most interesting and important character.

This Autobiography of Mr. Mill I propose to review. I meant to review it in this volume, but I had not room. I intend therefore to give it a place in my next volume, which may be looked for in the course of the year.

Another work has just been published, called The Old Faith and the New. It is the last and most important work of D. F. Strauss, the greatest and ablest advocate of antichristian and atheistic views that the ages have produced, the Colossus or Goliath of all the infidel hosts of Christendom. In this work, which he calls his CONFESSION, Strauss, like Mill, gives us a portrait of himself, exhibiting not only his views, and the arguments by which he labors to sustain them, but the influence of those views on the hearts, the lives, the characters, and the enjoyments of men. If this Book can be answered,-if the arguments of Strauss can be fairly met, and his views effectually refuted, infidelity must suffer serious damage, and the cause of Christianity be greatly benefited. I have gone through the Book with great care. I have measured and weighed its arguments. And my conviction is, that the work admits of a thorough and satisfactory refutation. If I had had space, I should have made some remarks on it in this volume: but I had not. I propose therefore to review it at considerable length in my next.

Some time ago Robert Owen was a prominent man in the infidel world. He was extolled by his friends as a great Philanthropist. He too left us a history of his life, and his son, Robert Dale Owen, has just been repeating portions of that history in the Atlantic Monthly. It may be interesting to my readers to know what Atheism can do in the way of Philanthropy. We propose therefore to add a review of the Life of Robert Owen to those of Strauss and Mill.

Robert Dale Owen himself was an Atheist formerly, and a very zealous and able advocate of Atheistical views. He gives his articles in the Atlantic Monthly as an autobiography, and seeks to make the impression that he has revealed to his readers all the important facts of his history without reserve. And he has certainly revealed some

strange things. But there are certain facts which he has not revealed, facts of great importance too, calculated to show the demoralizing tendency of infidelity. We propose to render the autobiography of Mr. Dale Owen more complete, more interesting, and more instructive, by the addition of some of those facts.

[ocr errors]

Frances or Fanny Wright was a friend of Mr. Dale Owen's. She was the great representative female Atheist of her time. Like Mr. Dale Owen's father, she was rich, and like him, seemed desirous to do something in the way of philanthropy. Mr. Dale Owen, who was her agent for some time, gives us some interesting facts with regard to her history, which may prove of service to our readers.

In Buckle we have an Atheistical Historian, who endeavors to prove that we are indebted for all the advantages of our superior civilization, not to Christianity, but to natural science and skepticism alone. He represents Christianity as the enemy of science, and as the great impediment to the advance of civilization. These views of Buckle we regard as false and foolish to the last extreme, and we expect to be able to show that Europe and America are indebted for their superior civilization, and even for their rich treasures of natural science, not to infidelity, but to the influence of Christianity.

Matthew Arnold has just published an interesting book entitled LITERATURE AND DOGMA. It is however a mixed work; and we propose, while noticing a number of its beautiful utterances, to make a few remarks on some of its objectionable sentiments.

There is a great multitude of important facts with regard to Christianity,-facts which can be understood and appreciated by persons of ordinary capacity, and which no man of intelligence and candor will be disposed to call in question; yet facts of such a character as cannot fail, when duly considered, to leave the impression on men's minds, that Christianity is the perfection of all wisdom and goodness, and worthy of acceptance as a revelation from an all-perfect God, and as the mightiest and most beneficent friend of mankind. A number of those facts we propose to give in our next volume.




WHEN a man has travelled far, and seen strange lands,

and dwelt among strange peoples, and encountered unusual dangers, it is natural, on his return home, that he should feel disposed to communicate to his family and friends some of the incidents of his travels, and some of the discoveries which he may have made on his way.

So when a man has travelled far along the way of life, especially if he has ventured on strange paths, and come in contact with strange characters, and had altogether a large and varied experience, it is natural, as he draws near to the end of his journey, or when he reaches one of its more important stages, that he should feel disposed to communicate to his friends and kindred some of the incidents of his life's pilgrimage, and some of the lessons which his experience may have engraven on his heart. He will especially be anxious to guard those who have life's journey yet before them, against the errors into which he may have fallen, and so preserve them from the sorrows that he may have had to endure.

And so it is with me. I have travelled far along the way of life. I may now be near its close. I have certainly of late passed one of its most important stages. I have had a somewhat eventful journey. There are but few perhaps who have had a larger or more varied experience.

« ForrigeFortsett »