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inadequate. — Acquits Spinoza. Admits the thing while disowning the
Makes personality the same as anthropomorphism. — God personal only in
THE STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS OF PANTHEISM.
Recapitulation. — Authors excluded from this survey.
Refutation of panthe-
The assertion that the mind can act only
MY purpose, in the lectures which follow, is to Nature and
spirit of the treat of popular infidelity, - its sources, its devel- work. opment, and its relation to what is known as the Biblical or Christian system. This work is not undertaken in a controversial or partisan spirit. I am no dogmatist or polemic, though my point of view, to which much patient study has led me, is the supernaturalism of Jesus of Nazareth. It seemed needful to say this at the outset, owing to the acrimonious and denunciatory style in which, for the most part, the questions between Christianity and its assailants have been hitherto debated. The natural presumption, in view of the past, is, that whoever appears on this field has only entered into the strifes of other zealots; that he comes as a warrior thirsting for victims, and in no sense as an inquirer. The terms which this ancient debate has bequeathed to us, and to some of which a certain odium still adheres, cannot be now laid aside. They have such a currency, in the language of the day, that no candid person will charge it to bigotry or unfairness, but purely to the necessity of the case, that they continue to be used. It will be seen, in the title which I have chosen
for this work, that I regard many forms of infidelity as half truths, at least in their origin. Believing that the human intellect naturally craves truth, I shall not easily be persuaded that any body of doctrines, which has been put forth by earnest thinkers, is unmixed error; nor shall I fail, so far as the nature of my undertaking will permit, to point out the merits of writers whom, as to their main tenets, I may feel bound to condemn. Some of those writers manifest, at times, a calm spirit of inquiry which their critics would do well to emulate. It is not only lawful, but often greatly for our advantage, to learn from those with whom we disagree. Truth has not as yet revealed itself wholly to any finite mind; and the remark of Him who was the Truth, about the beam in the eye which sees the mote in a brother's eye, is not altogether inapplicable to those who are defending scriptural doctrine against the assaults of infidelity.
The word “infidelity” is so loosely used by “ infidelity.” the writers and speakers of our time, that one might almost despair of being able to define it. And yet, owing to this great variety of usage, there seems all the more need, if we would understand each other in what is to follow, that its meaning should be brought within
some tolerably well settled limits. We certainly Charity,
ought, in simple justice, to distinguish between systems of infidelity and the persons who confess themselves more or less in accord with those systems. In no way, perhaps, is it more easy to overstep the bounds of charity, than in identifying individuals with theories which they cannot make up their minds to reject utterly, or for which they express a partial sympathy. The intercourse
• And its
of life puts us in contact with many men and women holding theoretically to what is called infidelity in the language of the schools, yet our personal acquaintance with whom convinces us that to call them “infidels ” would be the grossest injustice. We are constantly running against infidelities, yet are forced to own that there is an amazing scarcity of infidels. This
may be accounted for in part by the odium attaching to the word, which causes most persons to dread it, and to resent the application of it to themselves. Therefore our charity should have a limit. Though many are raised above their theoretical unbeliefs by a natural and acquired goodness, yet there are those whom the word “infidel” alone can properly describe to us; nor should we hesitate thus to distinguish such, wherever we find them.
The invidious use of this term in theological controversy must strike all fair minds as the extreme of Invidious meanness and cowardly unmanliness. It always word. injures the cause in whose behalf it is employed. When not a confession of weaknes it is a blunder. All are repelled by it, save those whom prejudice or rude passion has blinded; nor does it influence even these, except for the time being. Though the poisoned arrow with which a prostrate antagonist seeks to wound his conqueror, though the desperate cry by which he summons to bis rescue the pack of ignorant and noisy zealots, yet it ever fails to deliver him, while at the same time it makes his defeat doubly disgraceful.
We often have occasion to use the phrase “practical infidelity.” These words, whether used in the
. pulpit or religious literature, point especially in telity
use of the