Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

that these prophets falsely claim in their writings to have uttered time after time the most astonishing predictions, which met in every case a literal and precise fulfilment; and yet their auditors, who must have known the falsity of this claim, at once accepted these writings and handed them down as true prophecies received by inspiration from the mouth of God. We confess that we are of Dr. Kuenen's own opinion with regard to this expedient of his (p. 328): "Many will at once be inclined to reject it as-a subterfuge, by the help of which I try to escape from the dogmatical conclusions to which the literally-fulfilled prophecies of Ezekiel ought to have led." And how does this assertion, that Jeremiah and Ezekiel altered and retouched their predictions to make them correspond with the event, comport with what he maintains elsewhere, that both these prophets have included among their writings predictions (e.g., respecting Tyre and Egypt) which had been glaringly and notoriously falsified in their own day, and that Ezekiel admits it without being in the least disturbed thereby (p. 110) ?

The accounts given of the prophets in the historical books are swept away in the most summary and relentless manner. He admits (p. 401) that the predictions of “the prophets of the historical books extend far beyond their political horizon, are characterized by definiteness and accuracy, enter into the more minute particulars, and are all, without distinction, strictly fulfilled.” But the narratives containing them are in his esteem utterly untrustworthy. “They are, in the first place, a reflection and striking representation of the religious belief of their authors, and only in the second place are they testimonies regarding the historical reality. This reality is nowhere to be found perfectly pure and unmixed in these narratives, in so far as they are any thing more than dry chronicles ; it is always, though in a greater or less degree, colored by the subjective conviction of the narrator.” The representation given of the prophets and prophecy in the historical narratives of the Old Testament is no testimony regarding, but is itself one of the fruits of the real Israelitish prophecy" (p. 436). “While the prophetical historians sketched the past of Israel, they not only felt themselves compelled to labor for the religious education of Israel, but they thought themselves also justified in making their description of Israel's fortunes subordinate and subservient to that object. The considerations which would restrain us from treating history in such a manner, or would impede us in doing so, had for them no existence'' (p. 443). In other words, Israelitish history is a pious fraud, concocted by the prophets from first to last, and this in spite of the exalted respect which he professes for their character and work !-and nothing whatever in it is to be credited but just what the critics tell us may be credited. Here is in a nutshell the principle and the method of all Dr. Kuenen's critical processes and results. He blows his subjective soap-bubble to whatever size he may fancy, and dances it before his readers in its variegated beauty and apparent solidity and readiness to burst.

It does not embarrass Dr. Kuenen in the slightest degree that the New Testament throughout “ascribes divine foreknowledge to the Israelitish prophets.” He very naïvely says (p. 448): “Its judgment concerning the origin and nature of the prophetical expectations, and concerning their relation to the historical reality, may be regarded as diametrically opposed to ours.” His elaborate attempt to show that the New Testament writers are guilty of inaccuracies and mistakes in quoting from the Old Testament, and that they misunderstand and misinterpret it, merely proves what was superfluously clear beforehand, that their conception of its meaning and spirit is radically different from his. Its chief value consists in the practical demonstration which it affords, that they who reject the inspiration and authority of the Old Testament, or any part of it, must by inevitable logical necessity reject likewise that of the New.

Dr. Kuenen sees in prophecy simply a deduction from the prophets' own religious convictions. Jehovah's purposes are inferred by them from their thorough persuasion of his inflexible righteousness and his sovereign choice of Israel to be his people on the one hand, and the judgment which they entertain of Israel's existing moral state or the character and conduct of Gentile nations on the other. Hence “ the prophetical prediction of the future" is, as he states it (p. 359), the necessarily incorrect conclusion drawn from premises which themselves were only half correct. This naturalistic hypothesis falls with

а

the failure to prove the non-accomplishment of the predictions of the prophets. If, as is really the case, what they have foretold has unerringly come to pass, prophecy is thereby shown to be the word, not of him who knows not what a day may bring forth, but of Him who “declareth the end from the beginning." It is the word, not of man, but of God. And it is plainly futile to attempt to account for it on natural principles—as, for example, that Jeremiah's strong faith wrought upon the exiles, and their faith wrought upon Cyrus, who by a lucky chance appeared just at the right time and became the conqueror of Babylon (p. 315), and thus brought about the return, from captivity after seventy years; or Isaiah by his faith persuaded Hezekiah and his people to persevere in their resistance to Sennacherib until fortunately the plague swept off his army (p. 298). On this principle such a chapter of accidents would be required to save the credit of the prophets as would involve that very supernatural intervention which the hypothesis was invented to escape ; and that, too, in a form far more incredible than the simple faith of ages, that “ prophecy came not in old time by the will of man ; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

WM. HENRY GREEN,

THE PROBLEM CONCERNING THE HUMAN WILL, AS RELATED TO SCIENTIFIC AND PHILOSOPHIC THEORIES.

THE

HE study of man has become a pressing demand in our

times. Whether we turn to the circle of physical sciences on the one hand, or to schemes of mental philosophy on the other, it is obvious that a full and systematized knowledge of human nature has become a first requisite for physicists and philosophers alike. Science, with its observational and inductive methods, claims to encompass the universe of known existence. Philosophy, with these same methods, and the use of speculative reason besides, claims to reach unity beyond and above the multiplicity everywhere apparent. The observation of which science boasts may be a narrower thing than the observation which philosophy declares to be essential for a true knowledge of the universe as such, if we are to seek a scientific knowledge in any strict and thorough sense. Consequently, the universe of science may be a narrower thing than the universe of philosophy. But it is to be constantly kept in view --and specially by those who look at the products of human inquiry from a philosophic standpoint-that the facts on which physical science rests are patent to all, that her methods are recognized by all, and that results are most unhesitatingly received by all as soon as it is made clear that they are direct results from rigid use of scientific methods applied to ascertained facts. I have said that these things should be specially kept in view by those who are watching the progress of human thought from the standpoint of mental philosophy. It were earnestly to be desired, however, that it be remembered by scientific men themselves, who spend a large amount of time and strength in needless outcry against opposition to science. Conflict there may be, sharp and prolonged, both within the territory of separate sciences, and over the boundaries of science and philosophy. It is through such conflict that progress is gained. But to speak of opposition to science itself is ridiculous. If, by some strange chance, such opposition might be offered, it could not rationally afford ground for conflict.

Much more important it is that we should endeavor to ascertain what the so-called conflict between science and philosophy really amounts to. There is, and there can be, no dispute over such fundamental positions as these, that facts must afford the basis for all inquiry, and that legitimate induction from such facts must be accepted by all intelligences. And if these things be granted, there must be scope enough for scientific and philosophic progress, without restriction from any source, save the conditions of human intelligence itself. Where conflict may be anticipated is obvious. It may sometimes be over facts, sometimes over theories, but most seriously over the former; for the most perplexing part of the task is to bring out beyond all question or reasonable doubt what are the facts to be explained. This may be profusely illustrated at the present juncture by reference to many pretentious hypotheses. No one can reasonably challenge the right to launch hypotheses; but these must cease to be hypotheses before their history can be identified with the progress of science.

In these few preliminary sentences I am only requesting attention to the recognized conditions under which all our investigations proceed. And, in doing so, I seek to point out that there is identity of method, whether men are devoted to the service of science or of philosophy. Perhaps some may, on this account, be disposed to insist that there is no distinction between science and philosophy. To this suggestion I offer no objection so long as it is intended that the remark should apply to the method of procedure, making allowance for distinction of area. If we speak equally of physical sciences and mental sciences, there can be no strong objections adduced. As little could there be if we speak equally of a philosophy of physical

« PredošláPokračovať »