« PreviousContinue »
the subject in its abstract individuality. God is, therefore, not a person, but personality itself."
• Nobody answered, for nobody understood. ““Q. E. D.," said Harrington, with the utmost gravity. *Thus encouraged, our student was going on to show how much more clear Hegel's views are than those of Sehelling. " The only real existence," he said, “is the relation ; subject and object which seem contradictory are really onenot one in the sense of Schelling, as opposite poles of the same absolute existence, but one as the relation itself forms the very idea. Not but what in the threefold rhythm of universal existence there are affinities with the three potencies of Schelling; but
““ Take a glass of wine," said Harrington to his young acquaintance, “take a glass of wine, as the antiquary said to Sir Arthur Wardour, when he was trying to cough up the barbarous names of his Pictish ancestors, “and wash down that bead-roll of unbaptized jargon which would choke a dog.'
We laughed, for we could not help it.' And, seeing that in this style only he comes to the surface, from his home five hundred fathom' deep, we doubt not that the reader cheerfully says to the young gentleman, “You may go down again, sir !'
We must pass over a very telling paper, read by the uncle to his nephew's party, headed, How it was that Infidelity prevented my becoming an Infidel;' and setting forth the mental conflicts through which he passed, and the dilemmas in which the views and counsels of his infidel friends placed him. It is a most powerful essay-answering most of the prominent systems and tendencies of unbelief, with arguments that have been well considered and tested, and that are to us irrefutable. We know not whether it actually contains a living experience; but it is so real and vivid that one might fairly suppose the fact to be so. Again we must hurry on-simply recording that there is given a strange dream, called The Blank Bible,' which supposes that, by a terrible miracle, all the Bibles in the world were rendered blank, and that every phrase and text quoted in books of devotion and theology, of poetry and fiction, was similarly expunged ; and attempts thus to estimate the extent to which the Bible has influenced and entered into human literature, and to show by what means, and in how serious a spirit, men, in such a calamity, would begin the reconstruction of the Scriptures, and how every one according to characteristic tastes and habits might contribute the portions he had best understood and most fully appropriated. The explanations of the supposed event are also made to tell effectively on the treatment the Bible receives from the hands even of those who profess belief in its divine origin and authority. The Christian Ethics' also are discussed, and tested by the assumptions of disbelievers. 'A Future Life’ is controverted, its evidences investigated, and the difficulties to the reception of the truth 'weighed and found wanting. Strauss's principles of historical criticism are put on their trial; are shown to involve the most startling paradoxes with reference to the general question of historical credulity; and then, in a clever and witty paper, they are applied to the late Papal Aggression, and it is distinctly proved that such aggression was impossible, and that the generally reported
facts are entirely of a mythical character. We should be glad to quote from this caustic paper, but must deny ourselves the pleasure-and the more, as it is not the first attempt so' to apply Strauss's principles to an indisputably historic event. By a similar use of them, Strauss himself has been proved to be a myth ; here in England, too, we have Archbishop Whately's acute Historic Doubts respecting Napoleon Buonaparte : ' another writer, also, has disproved the historical character of the life and times of Sir Robert Peel-reducing to a myth the agitation and repeal of the Corn-laws. On all these points then, hastily passed over, we had much to quote and to say, which reluctantly but necessarily we forego. Still more unwillingly do we give up our intention of giving some account of another dream of The Paradise of Fools'-a supposititious world, in which all the philosophers who have explicitly or impliedly theorized on a new construction of the universe, or have hinted at possibly advantageous modifications of the divine plan and government, or who have complained of the revelation vouchsafed by God to man, have all the conditions of their theories granted them, and are assisted by heaven, so far as their notions are intelligible to omniscience or capable of aid from omnipotence, to realize their conceptions. The vision is strangely well sustained; and it is by no partiality, but "under strict necessity, fully made out, that the result of such ardently desired conditions and powers is, to the theorists, only a part of ““ the everlasting shame and contempt” which are the heritage of impiety.'
We have reserved one topic for the close of this article—it is • Miracles. On this the author has used all his strength and acuteness, and with results which have almost higher value than attaches to any other discussion of this fundamental question. The remarkable subtlety and cleverness with which he works his way through the intricacies of a subject, which philosophical deists and the spiritual' school have done so much to perplex — darkening counsel with words without knowledge'-is one of the rarest achievements of intellect in the book, and perhaps the most valuable service the author has done to the cause of Christian truth. The dialogue, in which the paradox is brought out, • That Miracles are impossible, but that it is impossible to prove it,' is far too long, and its parts too closely related, for any very satisfactory account of it to be possible here. It is argued on several independent grounds, each of which needs to be exhibited quite as fully as has been done by the author, in order to be intelligible ; so that we are shut up to a simple quotation ;-and, as everyone knows something of Hume's argument against Miracles, we select the following passage :
""Do you know,” said Harrington, “I have sometimes thought that Hume, so far from representing his argument from “Transubstantiation' fairly (there is an obvious fallacy on the very face of it, to which I do not now allude), is himself precisely in the condition in which he represents the believer of miracles "
• Fellowes smiled incredulously. “First, however," said he, "what is the more notorious fallacy to which you allude ?”
• “It is so barefaced an assumption that I am surprised that his acuteness did not see it; or, that if he saw it, he could have descended to make a point by appearing not to see it. It has been often pointed out, and you will recollect it the moment I name it. You know he commences with the well-known argument of Tillotson against transubstantiation, and flatters himself that he sees a similar argument in relation to miracles. Now it certainly requires but a moderate degree of sagacity to see that the very point in which Tillotson's argument tells, is that very one in which Hume's is totally unlike it. Tillotson says, that when it is pretended that the bread and wine which are submitted to his own senses have been 'transubstantiated into flesh and blood,' the alleged phenomena contradict his senses ; and that as the information of his senses as much comes from God as the doctrines of Scripture (and even the miracles appeal to nothing stronger), he must believe his senses in this case in preference to the assertions of the priest. Hume then goes on quietly to take it for granted that the miracles to which consent is asked, in like manner contradict the testimony of the senses of him to whom the appeal is made ; whereas, in fact, the assertor of the miracle does not pretend that he who denies them has ever seen them, or had the opportunity of seeing them. To make the argument analogous, it ought to be shown that the objector, having been a spectator of the pretended miracles, when and where they were affirmed to have been wrought, had then and there the testimony of his senses that no such events had taken place. It is mere juggling with words to say that never to have seen a like event is the same argument of an event's never having occurred, as never to have seen that event when it was alleged to have taken place under our very eyes !
"I give up the reasoning on this point,” said Fellowes, “but how, I should like to know, do you retort the argument upon him?"
«« Thus; you see that we maintain that a miracle is incredible per se, because impossible; not to be believed, therefore, on any evidence.”
"“ If then we saw what seemed a miracle, we should distrust our senses; we should say that it was most likely that they deceived us.”
““I think so, certainly.'
"" And Strauss, and Hume, and Voltaire, and you, and I, and all who hold a miracle impossible, would distrust our senses, and fall back upon that testimony from the general experience of others, which alone could correct our own halting and ambiguous experience ?"
Certainly.” "" It appears, then, my good fellow, that the position of those who deny and those who assert miracles is exactly the reverse of Hume's statement. The man who believes • Transubstantiation' distrusts his senses, and rather believes testimony: and even so would he who has fully made up his mind, on our sublime principles, as to the impossibility of miracles, when anything which has that appearance crosses his path; he is prepared to deny his senses and to trust to testimony-to that general experience of others which comes to him and can come to him only in that shape. It is we, therefore, and not our adversaries, who are liable to be reached by this unlucky illustration."
Fellowes himself seemed much amused by finding the tables turned. For my part, I had difficulty in repressing a chuckle over this display of sceptical candour and subtlety.'
Here, then, we must leave “The Eclipse of Faith'-a book which must exert a powerful and most healthful influence—which will help sincere inquirers, confirm true believers, and, it may be hoped, assist to the solution of many problems those who are impartial' doubters. As for the rest—those who care more to establish the certainty of universal uncertainty, or to fortify the camp of unbelief, than to gain new conviction, or a refuge from the miseries of scepticism—they may affect to consider this work merely sharp and clever, but unsatisfactory and unconvincing: but between them and the author, between their system-if either a blank-like scepticism, or a bundle of incongruities, like “Spiritualism, can be called a system-between their system and ours, Time and Mankind will decide.
We believe the author of this book is generally known, but as he has chosen to be anonymous, we are not justified in tearing off his mask.
Tapan and the Japanese.*
What do we know of the Japanese English people generally will say, 'Nothing ;' but Mr. Macfarlane says that we know a great deal. We suspect, however, that the people's confession of their own ignorance is according to truth:' if it were not, there would have been little occasion for a work which, though telling them little, tells nearly all that can at present be known of this singular and interesting people. That our information concerning Japan and the Japanese is so scanty, is owing to the circumstance that for more than two hundred years the ports of this country have been closed to the ships of every nation but those of the Dutch, while the restrictions placed by the native Government on the allowed commerce with Holland, are such as to preclude the possibility, while they exist, of our learning anything further of the history, institutions, manners, or customs of the people. The source, therefore, of nearly all the information that we at present possess, is to be found in musty quartos of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, of which the Travels of Marco Polo' and • Purchas his Pilgrimes' are most conspicuous. Anything that may have been ascertained of this nation since the year 1637 has been “gotten by stealth.' To the Dutchman Kämpfer, who resided at Nagasaki for some years, and was allowed, or rather compelled, under escort to visit the interior; to the Russian officer, Golownin, who was kept in captivity in the country for two years, in 1812 and 1813, and who afterwards published a "narrative' of his imprisonment, 'with observations on the country and people ;' to M. Doeff, the Dutch resident for some years at Nagasaki ; and to Mr. C. W. King, of New York, who, in 1838, visited these islands on a mission of mercy, which would have secured him admission and welcome from any other people but the Chinese or Japanese, we owe most of our subsequent intelligence.
This, however, as we have remarked, is but scanty, and only just sufficient to whet the curiosity and deepen the desire for fuller and more accurate accounts. These we shall doubtless soon receive, for the
JAPAN: An Account Geographical and Statistical. From the earliest period at which the islands composing this empire were known to Europeans, down to the present time. By Charles Macfarlane. Routledge.
American Government has undertaken, foully or fairly, to break the seals that have hitherto shut out from Japan the gaze of any foreign intruder. Meanwhile, we will present our readers with an outline of our present advancement of knowledge,' in relation to this virgin land.
The first notice of Japan occurring in any European work is to be found in Marco Polo's Travels. At the close of the thirteenth century this celebrated adventurer was engaged in the service of Kublai-Khan of Tartary. At his court he obtained the information that about fifteen hundred miles east of the mainland or coast of the Khan's dominions was an island, called by the Tartars Zipangu. At this time, and for some hundreds of years afterwards, the kingdom of Japan was supposed to consist of only one island. Now, it is known, that the Japanese isles are almost innumerable, though only four of them are of any great extent. Zipangu, Marco Polo was informed, was of considerable size ; its inhabitants were reported to have fair complexions, to be well made, and civilized in their manners. Their religion was stated to be the worship of idols. The people were independent of every foreign power, and governed only by kings. Their mineral riches were inexhaustible, so vast indeed that the most precious of metals was employed in rich profusion in most articles of furniture in the sovereign's palace; and the narrator adds, that the wealth of the country had excited in the breast of the great Khan a strong desire to make a conquest of the island, and annex it to his own dominions. Marco Polo contented himself with the account he had received, and did not visit the islands. Some three hundred years after he wrotem in the year 1542—a Portuguese ship was driven by a storm on the coast of the still unknown country, and allowed to harbour in Bungo. Here the sailors were treated with great consideration. Their wants were supplied; they were permitted to travel through a part of the island (Kiusqú), and to trade and mix freely with the people. During their visit they saw sufficient to give them a very favourable impression of the beauty, wealth, and fertility of the country, and before they departed an arrangement was made for a regular traffic between Bungo and Portugal. The Japanese were no less pleased with their visitors, and, says Mr. Macfarlane, have preserved portraits of the two foreigners, Antonio Mota and Francesco Zeimoto, who first set foot on their shores.
At this period Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier were striving, with almost superhuman strength and energy, to build anew and extend the influence of the Roman Catholic Church. In a few years the fame of the Japanese islands reached the ears of the great apostle of the Jesuits. He was, at the time, in India, and immediately decided, notwithstanding the danger of the voyage and the warnings of his friends, to visit so promising a field of missionary labour.
Accordingly,' says Mr. Macfarlane, in a note at the end of the present volume, ‘Xavier, with two other Jesuits, three converts, and some other Christians, sailed from India for Malacca, and from thence, in a Chinese junk, to Japan. After a stormy passage of seven weeks, they landed at Kangasima, on the 15th of August, 1549. Here they were very graciously received, the prince