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History of the Conflict between Religion & Science. 493
The one is an outbirth of the other, a concrete manifestation. Taking, then, certain social and political facts for an ordinary period, a somewhat correct notion may be gathered respecting the tendency of the thoughtcurrent of a given people. And this stream, narrow in remote antiquity, is seen to grow broader and deeper as the course of history rolls on. The records of Greece relating to early times bring before us a nation whose mind, vigorous and powerful, was much given to the creation of deities. Olympus became with that people the sacred abode of the gods, every stream and fountain had its nymphs and naïads, satyrs revelled in the woods, and from the Delphic tripod the oracle made known the decrees of fate. These ideas, deeply implanted in the mind, affected the social and political life of the nation, and gave a form to its literature. The Iliad is at once so beautiful and sublime, so terrible and grand, because it grew amid enchanted groves and near the habitations of the immortals, and Homer stands out as the type of a people imbued with profound reverence for the higher powers. This reverence received its first shock when thinkers began to speculate upon the laws of the universe and lay the foundations of a daring philosophy. The thought-current was emerging from the mystic shades of Pluto, becoming broader and clearer in its onward sweep. Marked change of thought in opposition to long-standing principles engenders conflict between mind and mind, and interrogation of nature results in the ultimate demolition of the fabrics and temples of superstition, and in a conflict between religion and science. The writer in the work before us traces in a brief yet comprehensive sketch the history of that conflict from its origin to the present time. Such a history is valuable, because, while relating the progress of thought and the achievements of intelligence, it reveals the operations of a higher Power, leading man from the shades of superstition upward to the bright regions of truth. The work is distributed into twelve chapters, beginning with the origin of science and ending with a sketch of the present position of the Church in its relation to advanced thought. In the hands of the writer the cause of science by no means suffers by contrast with the narrow dogmatism of a perverted Christianity. We expect those who devote their energies and talents to the study of science to regard with contempt any religious system which appeals not to reason but to intellectual credulity; nevertheless even a scientific thinker may in his own domain become narrow and dogmatical. He may consider science as the all in all; he may so limit his thought to the confines of materiality as to regard the world of spirit as the creation of imagination, and Divine revelation as an imposition. Neither the theologian nor the man of science, however, ought to be dogmatical, but rather willing to welcome truths that bear the stamp of rationality. In the preface the writer remarks that “the history of science is not a mere record of isolated discoveries ; it is a narrative of the conflict of two contending powers, the expansive force of the human intellect on the one side, and the compression arising from traditionary faith and human interests on the other.”
494 History of the Conflict between Religion & Science.
Regarded, then, as an expansion of the mind, and the enlargement of the sphere of human thought, science has a history which may be traced to very remote times. It is a mark of the mind that it continually strives to extend the domain of thought and resist restraint and coercion. This expansive power of the mind has brought the world through ages of darkness and superstition to its present advanced state. The compression experienced by mind has usually been exerted by the guardians of religion, and especially when that religion has become an instrument for the acquisition of temporal power. The punishment of Socrates was rather for a political purpose than for the vindication of the gods. He thought in advance of the men of his time, at least of the multitude, for it is doubtful whether the dignitaries who regulated the religious institutions were equally credulous as the people whom it was their interest to overawe. Men are not slow to use religion for the purposes of ambition and dominion. In the early days of Rome, the pontiffs were aware of its power over the minds of a people educated in superstition. Livy indicates in a brief passage the purpose religion was made to serve in these times. “Quæ ad sacra pertinebant,” he says, “a pontificibus maxime, ut religione obstrictos haberent multitudinis animos, suppressa."] But Rome was destined to behold the decay of religion hallowed by the names of Romulus and Numa, a religion ancient as the constitution, and powerful in its influence over the minds of her subjects. “No spectacle," says the author, “can be presented more solemn, more mournful, than that of the dying of an ancient religion which in its day has given consolation to many generations of men.” The spectacle may be solemn, but one which the mind would contemplate rather with satisfaction than grief. The Christian religion brought that consolation to the multitude which Paganism was powerless to afford. The pure and simple precepts of Christ displaced the babblings of heathenism. But the decay of the old faith was a work of time; it had commenced long before the birth of Christ. The study of nature and humanity by the Greek philosophers brought discredit upon the Olympian deities. They were seen to be the creations of the poet and the priest. The acquiescence of the people followed, but not without conflict. The extension of the Greek Empire under Alexander conduced to this result. The author gives a brief sketch of the campaigns of Alexander in order to show how the Greek intellect was stimulated to activity by its contact with the wonders of the mighty empires of Egypt and Persia. With an extract from that admirable account we will close this paper, taking up our notice of the work in a future number. “ There were men,” he says, “who had marched with the Macedonian army from the Danube to the Nile, from the Nile to the Ganges. They had felt the hyperborean blasts of the countries beyond the Black Sea, the simooms and tempests of the Egyptian deserts. They had seen the Pyramids, which had already stood for twenty centuries, the hieroglyphic obelisks of Luxor, avenues of silent sphynxes, colossi of monarchs who reigned in the morning of the world. In the halls of Esar-haddon they had stood before the thrones of grim old
i The Histories, book vi. ch. i.
Assyrian kings, guarded by winged bulls. In Babylon there remained its walls, once more than sixty miles in compass, and after the ravages of three centuries and three conquerors, still more than eighty feet in height; there were still the ruins of the temple of cloud-encompassed Bel, on its top was planted the observatory where the weird Chaldean astronomers had held nocturnal communion with the stars; still there were vestiges of the two palaces with their hanging gardens, in which were great trees growing in mid air, and the wreck of the hydraulic machinery that had supplied them with water from the river. If Chaldea, Assyria, Babylon, presented stupendous and venerable antiquities reaching far back into the night of time, Persia was not without her wonders of a later date. The pillared halls of Persepolis were filled with miracles of art, carvings, sculptures, enamels, alabaster libraries, obelisks, colossal bulls. Ecbatana, the cool summer retreat of Persian kings, was defended by seven encircling walls of hewn and polished blocks, the interior ones in succession in increasing height and of different colours, in astrological accordance with the seven planets. The palace was roofed with silver tiles, its beams were plated with gold. At midnight in its halls the sunlight was rivalled by many a row of naphtha cressets. A paradise, that luxury of the monarchs of the East, was planted in the midst of the city. The Persian Empire from the Hellespont to the Indus was truly the garden of the world.”
I. T. (To be continued).
Review. ACCOUNT OF SWEDENBORG, FROM D. G. GREGORY'S HISTORY OF THE
CHRISTIAN CHURCH. Vol. ii. pp. 541-546. (Communicated.) " THOUGH not strictly to be accounted sectaries, since each of them were declared enemies to all separation from their respective Churches, the names of John Hutchinson and Baron Swedenborg have excited too much attention to be entirely omitted. The former was a person of uncommon abilities and of extensive knowledge. The Holy Scriptures he esteemed the source of all knowledge, human and divine. After Origen and others, he asserted that the Scriptures were not to be understood in a literal, but in an allegorical sense, and asserted further, agreeably to tbis interpretation, that the Hebrew Scriptures would be found to testify amply concerning the nature and person of Jesus Christ.”
Then Dr. Gregory proceeds to give an account of Swedenborg. “The Hon. Emanuel Swedenborg was the son of Jasper Swedberg, Bishop of West Gotha. He appears to have had an uncommonly good education, for his learning was extensive in almost every branch, and at a very early period of life he became remarkable for his abilities at the Court of Sweden. His first and favourite pursuit was natural knowledge, on which he published several excellent treatises. He was intimate with the celebrated Charles XII., who appointed him to the office of Assessor to the Metallic College, and in 1719, he was ennobled by Queen Ulrica Eleanora, and named Baron Swedenborg.
“In the year 1743 he professed to have been favoured with a particular 1 This statement respecting Swedenborg Dr. Gregory must have made on some other authority than that of Swedenborg himself--on that of Mr. Clowes, it would appear.
revelation and a sight of the invisible world. From that period he devoted himself to theological studies, and composed an incredible number of books on those subjects in good Latin (but without ornaments of style), which he wrote with the utmost facility, and seldom blotted or corrected a line; he lived and died in the Lutheran communion, but always professed the highest respect for the Church of England.
“The theology of Baron Swedenborg is, in many instances, abstruse and mystical. He carried his respect for the Divinity and Person of Jesus Christ to the highest point of veneration, considering Him altogether as God manifest in the flesh, and as the fulness of the Godhead united in the Man Christ Jesus. With respect, therefore, to the Sacred Trinity, though he rejected the idea of three distinct persons, as destructive of the Unity of the Godhead, he admitted three distinct essences, principles, or characters as existing in it, namely, the Divine essence or character, in virtue of which He is called the Father or Creator ; the human essence, principle or character united to the Divine in the person of Christ Jesus, in virtue of which He is called the Son and Redeemer; and lastly, the proceeding essence or principle, in virtue of which He is called the Holy Ghost. The virtue and efficacy of the Atonement by the passion and death of the Man Christ Jesus, is considered by Baron Swedenborg as not consisting in a change and disposition in God towards man, from wrath to love and mercy, because that must be unchangeably the same, but in changing the state of man, by removing from him the powers of hell and darkness wherewith he was infested in consequence of transgression, and by bringing near to him the Divine and heavenly powers of goodness and truth in the person and spirit of the blessed Jesus, the manifested God and Saviour, whereby the infirmities and corruption of human might be approached, reached, and wrought upon, and every penitent believer might thus be placed in a state and capacity of arising out of all evils which sin had given birth to, and of becoming thus again a child of God through a real renewal and regeneration of all the parts, powers, and principles of his life, both in soul and body.1
“Baron Swedenborg, as well as Mr. Hutchinson, asserted that the Holy Scriptures contained an internal and spiritual sense to which the outward and literal sense serves as a basis or receptacle, and of consequence many of his treatises consist of his illustrations of this figurative or internal sense.
“He was a strong asserter of the free agency of man, and it must be confessed that the practical morals recommended by Baron Swedenborg are of the purest and most unexceptionable kind, with which, from the best authorities, we have reason to believe his life perfectly corresponded.
“But the most extraordinary circumstance respecting this singular char. acter is the correspondence which he asserted he maintained with the World of Spirits. Several parts of his writings are replete with narratives respecting scenes to which he professes to have been witness in the invisible regions ; these he describes by expressions borrowed from the things of this world, wlich he asserts, however, are only to be understood in a figurative sense, as corresponding in some degree with those he describes.
“ The disciples of Baron Swedenborg are very numerous in Sweden and Germany, and have increased very considerably in England within the course of a few years. Some attempts have been lately made to form them into a distinct Society, but these have been disapproved of by many of the juost zealous admirers of the Baron, whom they assert to have been an enemy to all separation, desirous only to establish an invisible Church, or the Dominion of faith and virtue in the hearts of men, which they contend is the true interpretation of all that is said concerning the New Jerusalem or New Church of Christ."
1 Soph. and Phil.
MODERN INFIDELITY AND CHRISTIAN may be deliberately affirmed that the APOLOGIES.-A formidable attack on great body of the Christian public has the orthodox theology, by Professor abandoned this teaching, and that the Clifford, in the Fortnightly Review, has Christianity in which millions still excited much attention, and led to trust, is as different from this as the several replies from the pulpit and the darkest night in winter from the brightperiodical press. In the course of a est and loveliest day in spring. The review of the work entitled “The Un. Christianity that still lives and still seen Universe," the Professor, speaking conquers, proclaims that man will be of Christianity, says :
punished for his own sin only, that “One form of this traditional concep- pardon is free to every repenting sinner, tion is set forth by the popular and that love to man is the supreme proof received theology of Christian communi. of that love to God which is at once ties. According to this, the condition of the highest duty and the highest joy of the departed depends ultimately upon the Christian, and that heaven consists the will of a Being who a long while ago in immortality of virtue.” cursed all mankind because one woman Among the preachers who have replied disobeyed Him. The curse was no mere to this fearless attack is the Bishop of symbol of displeasure, but a fixed resolve Manchester. The subject of the Bishop's to keep His victims alive for ever, writh- sermon is Christian love, which he preing in horrible tortures, in a place which sents as-apart from theories respecting His Divine foreknowledge had prepared the Atonement-the Gospel which the beforehand. In consideration, however, apostles taught. Of the influence of of the death of His Son, effected by this love in promoting the improvement unknown agents, He consented to feed and elevation of society, in a way never with the sweets of His favour such poor attempted by philosophic infidelity, he wretches as should betray their brethren, gives the following examples :and speak sufficiently soft words to the “You may have read--and those who destroyer of their kindred. For the have not will do well to read it—the rest, the old curse survives in its power; story of the experience of a Bishop's condemning them to everlasting torment son, connected with one of our noblest for a manifestation of His glory. To families, who came down and took lodgthe dead, then, if this be the future ings in the East of London in order that life, there is left only the choice between he might observe the phenomena of its shame and suffering. How well and life. And I am told that officers of the nobly soever a man shall have worked Guards and delicate women, nobly born, for his fellows, he must end by either venture also to this far East to see if being the eternal sycophant of a celestial they cannot do something to soften and despot or the eternal victim of a celestial civilize the lives of those whose lot is executioner. If this horrible story be cast here, each endeavouring in divers true, the noblest thing left for us is to ways to seek and to save the lost and curse God and die. The awful wicked. the straying and the fallen. And what ness which the popular legend ascribes is the root-idea of all this effort but to its deity is not to be got rid of by love, and the feeling of Christian any corresponding monstrosity of struc- brotherhood, and the realization of perture, by giving him five heads, or three sonal responsibility ? personalities, or a round hundred of eyes What is the answer to the scathing or arms."
description of orthodox theology we “It is melancholy to think," writes have given, and which the Bishop cites, the Editor of the Christian World, and for which he admits there is some “that well-meaning, pious men should justification in the language of certain ever have believed that all mankind theological schools? It is the presententer life under a curse, "liable to all the ment of the moral aspect of Christianmiseries of this life, to death itself, and ity, of “Righteousness, Purity, Love, to the pains of hell for ever.' But it John's three, identical in fact, though