Center for Biblical Theology and Eschatology
The Theology of the Intellect
and that of the Feelings
A Review of an article
published by Edwards A. Park
by Charles Hodge
The normal authority of the Scripture is one of the subject about which, at the present time, the mind of the church is most seriously agitated. The old doctrine of the plenary inspiration, and consequent infallibility of the written word, is still held by the great body of believers. It is assailed, however, from various quarters and in different ways. Some of these assaults are from avowed enemies; some, from pretended friends; and others, from those who are sincere in thinking they are doing God service in making his word more pliant, so that it may accommodate itself the more readily, not to science, but to the theories of scientific men; not to philosophy, but to the speculations of philosophers. The form of these attacks is constantly varying.
The age of naked rationalism is almost over. That system is dying of a want of heart. Its dissolution is being hastened by the contempt even of the world. It is no longer the mode to make "common sense" the standard of all truth. Since the discovery of the Anschauungs Vermugen men see things in their essence. The intuitional consciousness has superseded the discursive understanding; and Rationalists have given place to Transcendentalists. In the hands of many of the latter, the Scriptures share the same fate which has overtaken the outward world. As the materia1 is but the manifestation of the spiritual-so the facts and doctrines of the Bible are the mere forms of the spirit of Christianity; and if you have the spirit, it matters not what form it takes. These gifted ones, therefore, can afford to be very liberal They see in Christianity, as in all things else, a manifestation of what is real. They pity, but can bear with, those who lay stress on the historical facts and doctrinal assertions of the Scriptures They look on them as occupying a lower position, and as belonging to a receding period. Still men can have the substance in that form as well as in another. The misfortune is that they persist in considering the form to be the substance, or at least inseparable from it. They do not see that as the principle of vegetable life is as vigorous now, as when it was expressed in forms extant only as fossils, and would continue unimpaired though the whole existing flora should perish; so Christianity would flourish uninjured, though the New Testament should turn out to be a fable.
This theory has more forms than one; and has many advocates who are not prepared to take it in its full results. Neither is it confined to Germany. With most of the productions of that teeming soil, it is in the process of transplanting. Shoots have been set out, and assiduously watered in England and America, which bid fair to live and bear fruit. The doctrine that "Christianity consists not in propositionsit is life in the soul," and a life independent of the propositions, of necessity supersedes the authority, if not the necessity of the Scriptures. This doctrine, variously modified, is one of the forms in which the word of God is made of none effect.
Another theory, intimately related to one just referred to, is the doctrine that inspiration differs in degree, but not in nature' from the spiritual illumination which ordinary men enjoy. Just in proportion as the religious consciousness is elevated, the intuition of divine things is enlarged and rendered more distinct. If sanctification were perfect, religious knowledge would be perfect. "Let there be a due purification of the moral nature," says Morell, "a perfect harmony of the spiritual being with the mind of Goda removal of all inward disturbances from the breast, and what is to prevent or disturb this immediate intuition of divine things ?" (p. 174). The inspiration of the sacred writings, resembles, he tells us, that of men of genius. The natural philosopher is so in harmony with nature that he has a sort of intuition of her laws; the poet from sympathy with his fellow-men, can unfold the workings of the human breast; and so good men, from congeniality with God, can see the things of God. Of course the trustworthiness of the sacred writers differs with their goodness. Those of the Old Testament, standing on a much lower level of moral culture than those of the New, are proportionately below them in authority. The weight due to what these writers say, depends not only on their relative goodness but also on the subjects of which they treat. Beyond the sphere of moral and religious truths, they can have no peculiar authority, because to that sphere the intuitions of the religious consciousness are of necessity confined. The greater part of the Bible, therefore, is not inspired, even in this low sense of the term; and as to the rest, it is not the word of God. It is merely the word of good men. It has at best but a human, and not a divine authority; except, indeed, for those who repudiate the distinction between human and divine, which is the case with the real authors of this system. We are, however, speaking of this theory as it is presented by professed theists. It has appeared under three forms, according to the three different views entertained of the Holy Spirit, to whom this inspiration is referred If by that term is understood the universal efficiency of God, then all men are inspired, who, under the influence of the general providence of God, have their religious consciousness specially elevated. This is the kind of revelation and inspiration which many claim for heathen sages, and concede to Christian apostles. But if the Holy Spirit be regarded as "the forming, animating and governing principle of the Christian church," then inspiration is confined to those within the church, and belongs to all its members in proportion to their susceptibility to this pervading principle. Again, if the Holy Spirit be recognized as a divine person, dispensing his gifts to each one severally as he wills,, inspiration may be a still more restricted gift, but its essential nature remains the same. It is that purifying influence of the Spirit upon the mind which enables it to see the things of God. It is simply spiritual illumination granted to all believers, to each according to his measure; to the apostles, it may be conceded in greater fullness than to any others, but to none perfectly. The Bible is not the word of God, though it contains the aspirations, the convictions, the out-goings of heart of men worthy of all reverence for their piety. The distinction between the Scriptures and uncanonical writings of pious men, is simply as to the degree of their piety, or their relative advantages of knowledge. It is not our business to discuss this theory of inspiration; we speak of it as one of the modes in which the authority of the Bible is, in the present age, assailed.
Another theory, Under the same general category must be classed the beautiful solo of Dr. Bushnell. He endeavored to seduce us from cleaving to the letter of the Scriptures, by telling us the Bible was but a picture or a poem; that we need as little to know its dogmas, as the pigments of an artist; the aesthetic impression was the end designed, which was to be reached, not through the logical understanding, but the imagination. It was not a creed men needed. Or about which they should contend. All creeds are ultimately alike. It is of no use however to score the notes of a dying swan, as the strain cannot be repeated, except by another swan in articulo mortis. Dr. Bushnell has had his predecessors. A friend of ours, when in Germany, had Schleiermacher's Reden uber die Religion put into his hands. When asked what he thought of those celebrated discourses, he modestly confessed he could not understand them. "Understand them!" said his friend, "that is not the point. Did you not feel them ?"
We are sincerely sorry to be obliged to speak of Professor Park's sermon, which was listened to with unbounded admiration , and the fame of which has gone through the land, as inimical to the proper authority of the word of God. But if it is right I him to publish such an attack on doctrines long held sacred, must be right in those who believe those doctrines, to raise their protest against it. We are far from supposing that author regards his theory as subversive of the authority of the BibIe. He has obviously adopted it as a convenient way of getting rid of certain doctrines, which stand out far too prominently in Scrlpture and are too deeply impressed on the hearts of God's people, to allow of their being denied. It must be conceded that they are in the Bible. To reconcile this concession with their rejection he proposes the distinction between the theology of feeling and that of the intellect. There are two modes of apprehending and presenting truth. The one by the logical consciousness (to use the convenient nomenclature of the day) that it may be understood; the other by the intuitional consciousness, that it may be felt. These modes do not necessarily agree: they may often conflict so that what is true in the one, may be false in the other. If an assertion of Scripture commends itself to our reason we refer it to the theology of the intellect, and admit its truth. If it clashes with any of our preconceived opinions, we can refer it to the theology of the feelings, and deny its truth for the intellect. In this way, it is obvious any unpalatable doctrine may be got rid of, but no less obviously at the expense of the authority the word of God. There is another advantage of this theory of which the Professor probably did not think. It enables a man to profess his faith in doctrines which he does not believe. Dr. Bushnell could sign any creed by help of that chemistry of thought which makes all creeds alike. Professor Park's theory will allow a man to assert contradictory propositions. If asked, Do you believe that Christ satisfied the justice of God ? he can say, yes, for it is true to his feelings; and he can say, no, because it IS false to his intellect. A judicious use of this method will carry a man a great way. This whole discourse, we think, will strike the reader, as a set of variations on the old theme, "What true in religion is false in philosophy:" and the "tearful German" of whom our author speaks, who said: "In my heart I am Christian, while in my head I am a philosopher," might find great comfort in the doctrine here propounded. He might learn at his condition instead of a morbid, was in fact the normal one ; as what is true to the feelings is often false to the intellect.
We propose to give a brief analysis of this sermon, and then, in as few words as possible, endeavor to estimate its character.
The sermon is founded upon Gen. vi. 6, and 1 Sam. xv. 29. In the former passage it is said, "It repented the Lord;" and in the latter, God"is not a man that he should repent." Here are two assertions in direct conflict, God repented and God cannot repent. Both must be true. But how are they to be reconciled ? The sermon proposes to give the answer, and to show how the same proposition may be both affirmed and denied Our author begins by telling us of a father who, in teaching astronomy to his child, produced a false impression by presenting the truth; while the mother produced a correct impression by teaching error. This, if it means anything to the purpose, is rather ominous as a commencement. A right impression is the end to be aimed at in all instruction; and, if the. principle implied in this illustration be correct, we must discard the fundamental maxim in religion, "Truth is in order to holiness," and assume that error is better adapted to that purpose; a principle on which Romanists have for ages acted in their crass misrepresentations of divine things in order to impress the minds of the people.
But we must proceed with our analysis. "The theology of the intellect," we are told, "conforms to the laws, subserves the wants, and secures the approval of our intuitive and deductive powers. It includes the decisions of the judgment, of the perceptive part of conscience and taste, indeed of all the faculties which are essential to the reasoning process. It is tile theology of speculation, and therefore comprehends the truth just as it is, unmodified by excitements of feeling. It is received as accurate not in its spirit only, but in its letter also." (p. 534). It demands evidence. It prefers general to individual statements the abstract to the concrete, the literal to the figurative. Its aim is not to be impressive, but intelligible and defensible. For example, it affirms "that he who united in his person a human body, a human soul, and a divine spirit, expired on the cross, but it does not originate the phrase that the soul expired, nor that a 'God, the mighty Maker, died.'" "It would never suggest the unqualified remark that Christ has fully paid the debt of sinners for it declares that this debt may be justly claimed from them; nor that he suffered the whole punishment which they deserve for it teaches that this punishment may still be righteously inflicted on themselves; nor that he has entirely satisfied the law, for it insists that the demands of the law are yet in force." It gives origin to "no metaphor so bold, and so liable to disfigure our idea of the divine equity as that Heaven imputes the crime of one man to millions of his descendants, and then imputes their myriad sins to him who was harmless and undefiled." "It is suited not for eloquent appeals, but for calm controversial treatises and bodies of divinity; not so well for the hymn-book as for the catechism; not so well for the liturgy as for the creed." (p. 535).
We must pause here for a moment. It so happens that all the illustrations which our author gives of modes of expression which the theology of the intellect would not adopt, are the products of that theology. They are the language of speculation, of theory, of the intellect, as distinguished from the feelings that Christ bore our punishment; that he satisfied the law; that Adam's sin is imputed to us, and our sins to Christ, are all generalizations of the intellect; they are summations of the manifold and diversified representations of Scripture; they are abstract propositions embodying the truth presented in the figures facts, and didactic assertions found in the sacred writing. It would be impossible to pick out of the whole range of theological statements, any which are less impassioned, or which are more purely addressed to the intellect. They have been framed for the very purpose of being "intelligible and defensible." They answer every criterion the author himself proposes for distinguishing the language of the intellect from that of the feeling. Accordingly, these are the precise representations given in catechisms, in calm controversial treatises and bodies of divinity for strictly didactic purposes. They are found in the accurately worded and carefully balanced confessions of faith, designed to state with all possible precision the intellectual propositions to be received as true. These are the very representations, moreover, which have been held up to reproach as "theoretical," as "philosophy" introduced into the Bible. Whether they are correct or incorrect, is not now the question. What we assert is, that if there be any such thing as the theology of the intellect; any propositions framed for the purpose of satisfying the demands of the intelligence; any purely abstract and didactic formulae, these are they. Yet Professor Park, simply because he does not recognize them as true, puts them under the category of feeling, and represents them as passionate expressions designed not to be intelligible, but impressive; addressed not to the intellect but to the emotions!
The theology of the feelings is declared to be the form of belief which is suggested by, and adapted to the wants of the well trained heart. It is embraced as involving the substance of truth, although, when literally interpreted, it may, or may not be false. It studies not the exact proportions of doctrine, but gives special prominence to those features which are thought to be most grateful to the sensibilities. It insists not on dialectical argument, but receives whatever the healthy affections crave. (p. 535). It sacrifices abstract remarks to visible and tangible images. It is satisfied with vague, indefinite representations (p. 536). For example, instead of saying God can do all things which are the objects of power, it says, He spake and it was done. Instead of saying that the providence of God comprehends all events; it says, "The children of men put their trust under the cover of Jehovah's wings." To keep back the Jews from the vices and idolatry of their neighbors, it plied them with a stern theology which represented God as jealous and angry, and armed with bow, arrows, and glittering sword. But when they needed soothing influence, they were told that "the Lord feedeth his flock like a shepherd." It represents Christians united to their Lord as the branch to the vine, or the members to the head; but it does not mean to have these endearing words metamorphosed into an intellectual theory of our oneness with Christ, for with another end in view it teaches that he is distinct from us, as a captain from his soldiers. The free theology of the feelings is ill-fitted for didactic or controversial treatises or doctrinal standards. Anything, everything can be proved from the writings of those addicted to its use, because they indite sentences congenial with an excited heart, but false as expressions of deliberate opinion (p. 537). This is the theology of and for our sensitive nature, of and for the normal emotion, affection passion. It is, moreover, permanent. Ancient philosophy has perished, ancient poetry is as fresh as ever. So the theology of reason changes, theory chases theory, "but the theology of the heart, letting the minor accuracies go for the sake of holding strongly upon the substance of doctrine, need not always accommodate itself to scientific changes, but may often use its old statements, even if, when literally understood, they be incorrect, and it thus abides permanent as are the main impressions of the truth." (p. 539).
We must again pause in our analysis. It there be any such thing as the theology of the feeling as distinct from that of the intellect, the passages cited above neither prove nor illustrate it. Our author represents the feelings as expressing themselves in figures, and demanding "visible and tangible images." We question the correctness of this statement. The highest language of emotion is generally simple. Nothing satisfies the mind when under great excitement but literal or perfectly intelligible expressions. Then is not the time for rhetorical phrases. There is a lower state of feeling, a placid calmness, which delights in poetic imagery' which at once satisfies the feelings and excites the imagination, and thus becomes the vehicle of moral and aesthetic emotions combined. The emotions of terror and sublimity also, as they are commonly excited through the imagination, naturally clothe themselves in imaginative language. But the moral, religious, and social affections, when strongly moved, commonly demand the simplest form of utterance. "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts," is the language of seraphic devotion, yet what more simple ! "The loving kindness of the Lord is over all his works," is surely as much the language of feeling, and tends as directly to excite gratitude and confidence, as saying "The Lord is my shepherd." The most pathetic lamentation upon record is that of David over his son Absalom, which is indeed, al, apostrophe, but nothing can be freer from tropical expression. How simple, also, is the language of penitence as recorded in the Bible. "God be merciful to me a sinner!" "Against thee, thee only have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight." "Behold I am vile, what shall I answer thee ?" "O my God! I am ashamed, and blush to lift up my face to thee my God."
Admitting, however, that figurative language is the usual vehicle of emotion, this affords no foundation for the distinction between the theology of feeling and the theology of the intellect -the one vague and inaccurate, the other precise and exact For, in the first place, figurative language is just as definite in its meaning and just as intelligible as the most literal. After the church had been struggling for centuries to find language sufficiently precise to express distinctly its consciousness respecting the person of Christ, it adopted the figurative language of the Athanasian creed, "God of God, Light of Light, Begotten and not made." Calling God our shepherd presents as definite an idea to the mind as the most literal form of expression. To say that God is angry, or jealous, expresses as clearly the truth that his nature is opposed to sin, as the most abstract terms could no. We have here no evidence of two kinds of theology the one affirming what the other denies; the one true to the feelings and false to the intellect, and the reverse. The two passages on which this sermon is founded, chosen for the purpose of illustrating this theory, might be selected to show that it is without foundation. The declarations, "God repented," and "God cannot repent," do not belong to different categories; the one is not the language of feeling and the other of the intelligence; the one does not affirm what the other denies. Both are figurative. Both are intelligible. The one, in its connection, expresses God's disapprobation of sin, the other, his immutability. The one addresses the sensibilities as much as the other; and the one is as much directed to the intellect as the other. To found two conflicting kinds of theology on such passages as these, is as unreasonable as it would be to build two systems of anthropology on the verbally contradictory propositions constantly used about men. We say a man is a lion, and we say, he is not a quadruped. Do these assertions require a new theory of psychology, or even a new theory of interpretation in order to bring them into harmony ? Figurative language, when interpreted literally, will of course express what is false to the intellect; but it will in that case, be no less false to the taste and to the feelings.
Such language, when interpreted according to established usage, and made to mean what it was intended to express, is not only definite in its import, but it never expresses what is false to the intellect. The feelings demand truth in their object; and no utterance is natural or effective as the language of emotion, which does not satisfy the understanding. Saying God repents, that he is jealous; that he is our shepherd; that men hide under the shadow of his wings, are true to the intelligence in the precise sense in which they are true to the feelings; and it is only so far as they are true to the former that they are effective or appropriate for the latter. It is because calling God our shepherd presents the idea of a person exercising a kind care over us, that it has power to move the affections. If it presented any conception inconsistent with the truth it would grate on the feelings, as much as it would offend the intellect. We object, therefore, to our author's exposition of his doctrine, first, because much that he cites as the language of feeling is incorrectly cited; and secondly, because, granting his premises, his conclusion does not follow. A third objection is, that he is perfectly arbitrary in the application of his theory. Because figurative language is not to be interpreted literally, the Socinian infers that all that is said in Scripture in reference to the sacrificial nature of Christ's death, is to be understood as expressing nothing more than the truth that he died for the benefit of others. When the patriot dies for his country; or a mother wears herself out in the service of her child, we are wont to say, they sacrifice themselves for the object of their affection. This deceives no one. It expresses the simple truth that they died for the good of others. Whether this is all that the Scriptures mean when they call Christ a sacrifice, is not to be determined by settling the general principle that figures are not to be interpreted according to the letter. That is conceded. But figures have a meaning which is not to be explained away at pleasure. Professor Park would object to this exposition of the design of Christ's death, not by insisting that figurative language is to be interpreted literally, but by showing that these figures are designed to teach more than the Socinian is willing to admit. In like manner we say, that if we were disposed to admit the distinction between the theology of the feelings and that of the intellect, as equivalent to that between figurative and literal language, or, as our author says, between poetry and prose, we should still object to his application of his principle. He is just as arbitrary in explaining away the Scriptural representations of original sin, of the satisfaction of divine justice by the sacrifice of Christ, as the Socinian is in the application of his principle. He just as obviously violates the established laws of language, and just as plainly substitutes the speculations of his own mind for the teachings of the word of God. Entirely irrespective, therefore, of the validity of our author's theory, we object to this sermon that it discards, as the language of emotion, historical, didactic, argumentative statements, and in short, everything he is not willing to receive, as far as appears, for no other reason, and by no other rule than his own repugnance to what is thus presented.
Having considered some of the differences between the emotive and intellectual theology, the author adverts to the influence which the one exerts over the other. And first the theology of the intellect illustrates and vivifies itself by that of the feelings. We must add a body, he says, to the soul of a doctrine, whenever we would make it palpable and enlivening. The whole doctrine of the spiritual world, is one that requires to be rendered tangible by embodiment. An intellectual view is too general to be embraced by the feelings. They are balked with the notion of a spaceless, formless existence, continuing between death and the resurrection, (p. 540).
In the second place, the theology of the intellect enlarges and improves that of the feelings, and is also enlarged and improved by it. The more extensive and accurate are our views of literal truth, so much the more numerous and salutary are the forms which it may assume for enlisting the affections. It is a tendency of pietism to undervalue the human intellect for the sake of exalting the affections, as if the reason had fallen deeper than the will It cannot be a pious act to underrate those powers which are given by him who made the soul in his image. We must speculate. The heart is famished by an idle intellect. When fed by an enquiring mind, it is enlivened, and reaches out for an expanded faith.
The theology of reason not only amends and amplifies that of the affections, it is also improved and enlarged by it. When a feeling is constitutional and cannot but be approved, it furnishes data to the intellect by means of which it may add new materials to its dogmatic system. The doctrines which concentrate in and around a vicarious atonement are so fitted to the appetences of a sanctified heart, as to gain the favor of the logician, precisely as the coincidence of some geological or astronomical theories with the phenomena of the earth or sky, is part of the syllogism which has these theories for its conclusion. The fact that the faithful in all ages concur in one substance of belief, is a proof of the correctness of their faith. The church is not infallible in her bodies of divinity, nor her creeds, nor catechisms, nor any logical formula, but underneath all,, there lies a grand substance of doctrine, around which the feelings of all reverent men cling ever and everywhere, and which must be right, for it is precisely adjusted to the soul, and the soul was made for it. These universal feelings provide a test for our faith. Whenever our representations fail to accord with those feelings something must be wrong. "Our sensitive nature is sometimes a kind of instinct which anticipates many truths, incites the mind to search for them, intimates the process of investigation, and remains unsatisfied until it finds the object towards which it gropes its way.
But while the theology of reason derives aid from the impulses of emotion, it maintains its ascendancy over them. In all investigations for truth, the intellect must be the authoritative power, employing the sensibilities as indices of right doctrine, but surveying and superintending them from its commanding elevation, (p. 543-546).
In the third place, the theology of the intellect explains that of the feeling into essential agreement with all the constitutional demands of the soul. It does this by collecting all the discordant representations which the heart allows, and eliciting the one self-consistent principle which underlies them. The Bible represents the heart sometimes as stone, sometimes as flesh; sometimes as dead, sometimes alive; sometimes as needing to be purified by God, sometimes as able to purify itself, etc. These expressions, literally understood, are dissonant. The intellect educes light from these repugnant phrases, and reconciles them into the doctrine, "that the character of our race needs an essential transformation by an interposed influence of God" (p. 547). Certainly a very genteel way of expressing the matter, which need offend no one, Jew or Gentile, Augustine or Pelagius. All may say that much, and make it mean more or less at pleasure. If such is the sublimation to which the theology of the intellect is to subject the doctrines of the Bible, they will soon be dissipated into thin air.
Another illustration is borrowed from "the heart's phrases'' respecting its ability. Sometimes the man of God longs to abase himself, and exclaims without one modifying word: "I am too frail for my responsibilities, and have no power to do what is required of me." At another time he says: "I know thee, that thou art not a hard master, exacting of me duties which I have no power to discharge, but thou attemperest thy law to my strength, and at no time imposest upon me a heavier burden than thou at that very time makest me able to bear." The reason seeks out some principle to reconcile these and similar contradictions, and finds it, as Professor Park thinks, in the doctrine that man, with no extraordinary aid from divine grace, is fully set in those wayward preferences which are an abuse of his freedom. His unvaried wrong choices imply a full, unremitted natural power of choosing right. The emotive theology, therefore, when it affirms this power is correct both in matter and style; but when it denies this power, it uses the language of emphasis, of impression, of intensity; it means the certainty of wrong preference by declaring the inability of right; and in its vivid use of cannot for will not is accurate in substance but not in form, (p. 549).
It is to be remembered that it is not the language of excited, fanatical, fallible men that our author undertakes thus to eviscerate, but the formal didactic assertions of the inspired writers We can hardly think that he can himself be blind to the nature of the process which he here indicates. The Bible plainly, not in impassioned language, but in the most direct terms, asserts the inability of men to certain acts necessary to their salvation. It explains the nature, and teaches the origin of that inability. This doctrine, however, is in conflict,, not with other assertions of Scripture, for there are no counter statements, but with a peculiar theory of responsibility, which the author adopts; and therefore, all the expressions of this truth are to be set down to irrational feeling which does not understand itself.£ Thus a doctrine which is found in the symbols of all churches, Latin, Lutheran, and Reformed, is explained out of the Bible, and the most vapid formula of Pelagianism (viz. that present strength to moral and spiritual duties is the measure of obligation), put in its place The author has surely forgot what a few pages before he said of the informing nature of Christian consciousness. If there is one thing which that consciousness teaches all Christians, more clearly than anything else, it is their helplessness, their inability to do what reason, conscience, and God require, in the plain unsophisticated sense of the word inability. And we venture to say that DO Christian ever used from the bears, such language as Professor Park puts into the "good man's" mouth, about his power to do all that God requires. Such is not the language of the heart, but of a head made light by too much theorizing. Give us, by all means, the theology of the heart, in preference to the theology of the intellect. We would a thousandfold rather take our faith from Professor Park's feelings than from what he miscalls his reason, but which is in fact the fragments of a philosophy that was, but is not.
His fourth remark is, that the theology of the intellect, and that of the feeling tend to keep each other within the sphere for which they were respectively designed, and in which they are fitted to improve the character. When an intellectual statement is transferred to the province of emotion, it often appears chilling, lifeless; and when a passionate phrase is transferred to the dogmatic province; it often appears grotesque, unintelligible, absurd. To illustrate this point he refers to the declaration in reference to the bread and wine in the eucharist.. " This is my body, this is my blood." To excited feelings such language is appropriate, but no sooner are these phrases transmuted into utterances of intellectual judgments, than they become absurd. So the lamentation: " Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me," is natural and proper as an expression of penitential feelings. But if seized by a theorist to straighten out into the dogma that man is blamable before he chooses to do wrong,, deserving of punishment for the involuntary nature which he has never consented to gratify, really sinful before we actually sin, then all is confusion.
Here again a plain doctrine of the Bible, incorporated in all Christian creeds, inwrought into all Christian experience, is rejected in deference to the theory that all sin consists in acts; a theory which ninety-nine hundredths of all good men utterly repudiate; a theory which never has had a standing in the symbols of any Christian church, a clear proof that it is in conflict with the common consciousness of believers. Because the doctrine here discarded finds expression in a penitential psalm, is surely no proof that it is not a doctrine of Scripture. Thomas's passionate exclamation at the feet of his risen Saviour, " My Lord and my God," is no proof that the divinity of Christ belongs to the theology of feeling, and is to be rejected by the reason. It is because such doctrines are didactically taught in the Bible, and presented as articles of faith, that they work themselves into the heart, and find expression in its most passionate language The doctrine of innate sinful depravity does not rest on certain poetic phrases, it is assumed and accounted for it; it is implicated in the doctrines of redemption, regeneration, and baptism; it is sustained by arguments from analogy, experience, and consciousness; it is part and parcel of the universal faith of Christendom, and its rejection, on the score that passionate phrases are not to be interpreted by the letter, is as glaring an example of subjecting Scripture to theory, as the history of interpretation affords.
In the conclusion of his discourse, our author represents the confusion of the two kinds of theology, which he endeavors to discriminate as a great source of evil. " Grave errors," he says, "have arisen from so simple a cause as that of:' confounding poetry with prose." Is it not a still more dangerous mistake to turn prose into poetry ? What doctrine of the Scriptures, have Rationalists, by that simple process, failed to explain away? What do they make of the ascription of divine names and attributes to Christ, but eastern metaphor and hyperbole ? How do they explain the worship paid to him on earth and in heaven, but as the language of passion, which the intellect repudiates ? The fact is, that poetry and prose have their fixed rules of interpretation, and there is no danger of mistaking the one for the other, nor are they ever so mistaken, where there is a disposition humbly to receive the truth they teach.
"In the Bible," says our author, "there are pleasing hints of many things which were never designed to be doctrines, such as the literal and proper necessity of the will, passive and physical sin, baptismal regeneration, clerical absolution, the literal imputation of guilt to the innocent, transubstantiation, eternal generation and procession In that graceful volume, these metaphors bloom as the flowers of the field; there they toil not neither do they spin. But the schoolman has transplanted them to rude exposure of logic, there they are frozen up, the* juices evaporated, and their withered leaves are preserved as specimens of that which in its rightful place surpassed the glory of the wisest sage." (p. 558). It would be a pity to throw the vail comment over the self-evidencing light of such a sentence. Its animus is self-revealing.
A more cheering inference from the doctrine of his sermon our author finds in the revelation it affords of " the identity in the essence of many systems which are run in scientific or aesthetic moulds unlike each other." There are, indeed, kinds of theology which cannot be reconciled with each other. There is a life, a soul, a vitalizing spirit of truth, which must never be relinquished for the sake of peace, even with an angel. " There is," as we rejoice to hear our author say, " a line of separation which cannot be crossed, between those systems which insert, and those which omit the doctrine of justification by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus. This is the doctrine which blends in itself the theology of intellect and feeling, and which can no more be struck out from the moral, than the sun from the planetary system. Here the mind and the heart, like justice and mercy, meet, and embrace each other; and here is found the specific and ineffaceable difference between the gospel and every other system. But among those who admit the atoning death of Christ as the organic principle of their faith, there are differences, some of them more important, but many far less important than they seem to be. One man prefers a theology of the judgment; a second, that of the imagination; a third, that of the heart; one adjusts his faith to a lymphatic, another to a sanguine, and still another to a choleric temperament. Yet the subject matter of these heterogeneous configurations may often be one and the same, having for its nucleus the same cross, with the formative influence of which all is safe." P. 559. But what in the midst of all these diversities becomes of God's word ? Is that so multiform and heterogeneous in its teaching ? Or is the rule of faith after all subjective, a man's temperament and preferences ? It is obvious, first, that the Scriptures teach one definite form of faith to which it is the duty and for the spiritual interests of every man to conform his faith, and every departure from which is evil and tends to evil. Secondly, that there is doubtless far more agreement in the apprehension, and inward experience of the doctrines of the Bible, than in the outward expression of them; so that sincere Christians agree much more nearly in their faith than they do in their professions. Thirdly, that this is no proof that diversities of doctrinal propositions are matters of small moment; or that we may make light of all differences which do not affect the very fundamentals of the gospel. Truth and holiness are most intimately related. The one produces and promotes the other. What injures the one, injures also the other. Paul warns all teachers against building, even on the true foundation, with wood, hay, and stubble. He reminds them that God's temple is sacred; that it cannot be injured with impunity, and that those who inculcate error instead of truth, will, in the great day, suffer loss, though they may themselves be saved, as by fire. It will avail them little to say that their temperament was lymphatic, sanguine, or choleric, that they conceived of truth themselves, and presented it to others, in a manner suited to their idiosyncrasies.. They were sent to teach God's word, and not their own fancies. The temple of God, which temple is the church, is not to be built up by rubbish.
When we began to write, we intended to furnish an analysis of this discourse before making any remarks on the views which it presents. We have been seduced, however, into giving expression to most of what we had to say, in the form of comment on . the successive heads of the sermon. We shall, therefore, not trespass much longer on the reader's patience. There are two points to which it has been our object to direct attention. First, the theory here propounded, and secondly, the application which the author makes of his principle.
As to the theory itself, it seems to us to be founded on a wrong psychology. Whatever doctrine the writer may actually hold as to the nature of the soul, his thoughts and language are evidently framed on the assumption of a much greater distinction between the cognitive and emotional faculties in man than actually exists. The very idea of a theology of feeling as distinct from that of the intellect, seems to take for granted that there are two percipient principles in the soul. The one sees a proposition to be true, the other sees it to be false. The one adopts symbols to express its apprehensions; the other is precise and prosaic in its language. We know, indeed, that the author would repudiate this statement, and deny that he held to any such dualism in the soul. We do not charge him with any theoretic conviction of this sort. We only say that thisundue dissevering the human faculties underlies his whole doctrine, and is implied In the theory which he has advanced. Both Scripture and consciousness teach that the soul is a unit; that its activity is one life. The one rational soul apprehends, feels, and determines. It is not one faculty that apprehends, another that feels, and another that determines. Nor can you separate in the complex states of mind of which we are every moment conscious, the feeling from the cognition. From the very nature of affection in a rational being, the intellectual apprehension of its object is essential to its existence. You cannot eliminate the intellectual element, and leave the feeling. The latter is but an attribute of the former, as much as form or color is an attribute of bodies. It is impossible, therefore, that what is true to the feelings should be false to the intellect. It is impossible that a man should have the feeling (i. e., the consciousness) of inability to change his own heart, and yet the conviction that he has the requisite power. The mind cannot exist in contradictory states at the same time. Men may indeed pass from one state to another. They may sometimes speak under the influence of actual experience; and sometimes under the guidance of a speculative theory; and such utterances may be in direct conflict. But then the contradiction is real and not merely apparent. The intellectual conviction expressed in the one state, is the direct reverse of that expressed in the other. These are the vacillations of fallible men, whose unstable judgments are determined by the varying conditions of their minds. We have known men educated under the influence of a skeptical philosophy, who have become sincere Christians. Their conversion was, of course, a supernatural process, involving a change of faith as well as feeling,. But as this change was not effected by a scientific refutation of their former opinions, but by the demonstration of the Spirit revealing to them the truth and power of the gospel; when the hearts of such men grow cold, their former skeptical views rise before them in all their logical consistence, and demand assent to their truth, which for the time is reluctantly yielded, though under a solemn protest of the conscience, When the Spirit returns revealing Christ, these demons of doubt vanish and leave the soul rejoicing in the faith. These states cannot co-exist. The one is not a state of feeling; the other of cognition. Both are not true; the one when judged by one standard; and the other, by another. They are opposite and Contradictory. The one affirms what the other denies. One must be false. A poor, fallible man driven about by the waves, may thus give utterance to different theologies under different states of mind; but the difference, as just stated, is that between truth and falsehood. Nothing of this kind can be admitted with regard to the sacred penmen, and therefore, this change to which uninspired men may be subject in their apprehension and expression of religious truth, cannot be attributed to those who spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
The changes just referred to are therefore something very different from those for which our author contends, and consequently the occurrence of such changes in the experience of men, is no proof of the correctness of his theory; neither do they show that the mind is not one percipient, feeling, and willing agent. The point which we wish now to urge is that the theory of Professor Park assumes a greater difference in the faculties of the soul than actually exists. From its individuality and unity, it follows that all its affections suppose a cognition of their appropriate objects, and that such cognition is an intellectual exercise, and must be conformed to the laws of the intelligence; and consequently in those complex states of mind to which our author refers as illustrating the origin of the theology of feeling, the rational element. is that very cognition by the intellect which belongs to the other form of theology. Besides, it is to be remembered that although in the apprehension of speculative truths, as in mathematics, for example, the cognition is purely an intellectual exercise, but when the object is an aesthetic or moral truth the apprehension is of necessity complex. There is no such thing as a purely intellectual cognition of a moral truth. It is the exercise of a moral nature; it implies moral sensibility. It of necessity, involves feeling to a greater or less degree. It is the cognition of a being sensitive to moral distinctions, and without that sensibility there can be no such cognition. To separate these two elements therefore is impossible, and to place them in collision is a contradiction. A man can no more think an object to be cold which he feels to be warm, or to be beautiful which he sees to be deformed, than he can apprehend it as false and feel it to be true. It contradicts the laws of our nature as well as all experience, to say that the feelings apprehend Christ as suffering the penal)! of the law in our stead, while the intellect pronounces such apprehension to be false. You might as well say that we feel a thing to be good while we see it to be sinful, or feel it to be pleasant while we know it to be the reverse. Professor Park's whole theory is founded upon the assumption that such contradictions actually exist. It supposes not different modes of activity, but different percipient agencies in the soul. It assumes not that the soul can perceive one way at one time and another way at another time, which all admit, but that the feelings perceive in one way and the intellect in another; the one seeing a thing as true while the other sees it to be false. It is important to note the distinction between the different judgments which we form of the same object, in different states of mind, and the theory of this discourse. The distinction is twofold. The diverse successive judgments of which we are conscious, are different intellectual cognitions;; and not different modes of apprehending the same object by different faculties- the feelings and the intellect. For example, if a man judges at one time Christianity to be true, and at another that it is false it would be absurd to say that it is true to his feelings, and false to his intellect.
The fact is, at one time he sees the evidence of the truth of the gospel and assents to it. At others, his mind is so occupied by objections that he cannot believe. This is a very common occurrence. A man in health and fond of philosophic speculations, may get his mind in a state of complete skepticism. When death approaches, or when he is convinced of sin, he is a firm believer. Or at one time the doctrines of man's dependence, of God's sovereignty, and the like, are seen and felt to be true; at another, they are seen and felt to be false; that is, the mind rejects them with conviction and emotion. In all such cases of different judgments, we have different intellectual apprehensions as well as different feelings. It is not that a proposition is true to the intellect and false to the feelings, or the reverse; but at one time it is true to the intellect and at another false to the same faculty. This, which is a familiar fact of consciousness, is, we apprehend, very different from Professor Park's doctrine. The second distinction is this. According to our author these conflicting apprehensions are equally true. It is true to the feelings that Christ satisfied divine justice; that we have a sinful nature; that we are unable of ourselves to repent and believe the gospel, but all these proposition, are false to the intellect. He therefore can reconcile it with his views, that good men, and even the inspired writers, should sometimes affirm and sometimes deny these and similar propositions We maintain that such propositions are irreconcilable. The one judgment is true and the other false. Both can never be uttered under the guidance of the Spirit. He cannot lead the sinner to feel his helplessness, and inspire Paul to deny it; much less can he inspire men sometimes to assert, and some times to deny the same thing. When the mind passes, as we all know it repeatedly does, from the disbelief to the belief of those and other doctrines, it is a real change in its cognitions as well as in its feelings-a change which implies fallibility and error, and which therefore can have no place in the Bible, and can furnish no rule of interpreting its language, or the language of Christian experience. To make the distinction between Professor Park's theory and the common doctrine on this subject, the more apparent, we call attention to their different results. If e teaches that the theology of feelings which apprehends and expresses truth in forms which the intellect cannot sanction, is appropriate to the Hymn Book and the Liturgy. He assumes that forms of devotion which are designed to express religious feeling may properly contain much that the intelligence rejects as false.. He condemns those critics who " are ready to exclude from our psalms and hymns all such stanzas as are not accurate expressions of dogmatic truth." In opposition to this view, we maintain that the feelings demand truth, i.e., truth which satisfies the intellect, in the appropriation and expression of their object. The form in which that truth is expressed may be figurative, but it must have the sanction of the understanding. The least suspicion of falsehood destroys the feeling. The soul cannot feel towards Christ as God if it regards him as merely a man. It cannot feel towards him as a sacrifice, if it believes he died simply as a martyr. In short, it cannot believe what it knows to be a lie, or apprehend an object as false and yet feel towards it is true.
&Nbsp; Let it be assumed that a man is convinced that ability is necessary to responsibility; that sin cannot be imputed to the innocent; that Christ did not satisfy divine justice, then no genuine religions feeling can find expression in such forms of speech. Professor Park says, on this principle he must believe that God actually came from Teman,, and the Holy One from Mount Paran; that he really rode upon a chariot, &c. This indicates a most extraordinary confusion of mind. Is there no difference between the figurative expression of what is true and the assertion of what is false ? The phrase that " God came from Teman," or, "He made the clouds his chariot," when interpreted according to the established laws of language, expresses a truth. The phrases " Christ took upon him our guilt ," "He satisfied divine justice," &c., &c., when interpreted by the same laws express, as our author thinks, what is false. Is there then no difference between these cases ? Professor Park evidently confounds two things which are as distinct as day and night; viz.: a metaphor and a falsehood-a figurative expression and a doctrinal untruth. Because the one is allowable, he pleads for the other also. Because I may express the truth that Christ was a sacrifice by calling him the Lamb of God who bears the sin of the worldI may, in solemn acts of worship, so address him without believing in his sacrificial death at all ! All religious language false to the intellect is profane to the feelings and a mockery of God. That such is the dictate of Christian consciousness is plain from the fact that the Hymn Book or Liturgy of no church contains doctrines contrary to the creed of such church. We challenge Professor Park to produce from the hymns used by Presbyterians a single phrase inconsistent with the Westminster Confession. If one such could be found, its inaccuracy as an expression "of dogmatic truth" would be universally regarded as a sufficient reason for its repudiation. Men may no more sing falsehood to God, than speak it in the pulpit, or profess it in a creed. In the early part of his discourse, our author says, the intellect does not originate the phrase " God, the mighty maker, died" This he attributes to the feelings as a passionate expression, designed to be impressive rather than intelligible. This, therefore, we presume he would adduce as an example of doctrinal inaccuracy in the language of devotion. A moment's reflection, however, is sufficient to show that instead of this phrase being forced on the intellect by the feelings, it has to be defended by the intellect at the bar of the feelings. The latter at first recoil from it. It is not until its strict doctrinal propriety is apprehended by the intelligence, that the feelings acquiesce in its use, and open themselves to the impression of the awful truth which it contains. An attempt was actually made, on the score of taste, to exclude that phrase from our hymn book. But its restoration was demanded by the public sentiment of the church, on the score of doctrinal fidelity. It was seen to be of importance to assert the truth that he, the person who died upon the cross, was " God, the mighty Maker, the Lord of glory, the Prince of Life," for on this truth depends the whole value of his death In all cases, therefore, we maintain that the religious feelings demand truth and repudiate falsehood. They cannot express themselves under forms which the intelligence rejects, for those feelings themselves are the intelligence in a certain state, and not some distinct percipient agent.
Here, as before remarked, is the radical error of our author's theory. It supposes in fact two conflicting intelligences in man; the one seeing a thing to be true, and the other seeing, it to be false, and yet both seeing correctly from its own position and for its own object. We have endeavored to show that there is no such dualism in the soul, and therefore no foundation for two such systems of conflicting theologies as this theory supposes. The familiar fact that men sometimes regard a doctrine as true and sometimes look upon it as false; that they have conflicting judgments, and give utterances to inconsistent declarations, we maintain is no proof of a theology of the feelings as distinct from that of the intellect. These vacillating judgments are really contradictory apprehensions of the intellect, one of which must be false, and therefore to attribute them to the sacred writers, under the plea that they sometimes spoke to be impressive, and sometimes to be intelligible, is to destroy their authority; and to use in worship expressions which the intellect pronounces doctrinally untrue, is repudiated by the whole Christian church as profane. If we wish to get the real faith of a people, that faith on which they live, in which intellect and heart alike acquiesce, go to their hymns and forms of devotion. There they are sincere There they speak what they know to be true; and there consequently their true creed is to be found.
Having endeavored to show that Professor Park finds no foundation for his theory in the constitution of our nature, or in those familiar changes of views and feelings, in varying states of mind, of which all are conscious, we wish to say further, that this theory finds no support in the different modes in which the mind looks on truth for different purposes. Sometimes a given proposition or the truth which it contains, is contemplated merely in its relation to the reason. Its import, its verity, its consistency with the standard of judgment, is all that the mind regards, Sometimes it contemplates the logical relations of that with other truths; and sometimes it is the moral excellence of truth which is the object of attention. When the mind addresses itself to the contemplation of truth, its posture and its subjective state will vary according to the object it has in view. But neither the truth itself nor the apprehension of it as truth suffers any change. It is not seen now as true, and now as false; or true to the feelings and false to the reason, but one and the same truth is viewed for different purposes. When, for example, we open the Bible and turn to any particular passage, we may examine it to ascertain its meaning; or having determined its import, we may contemplate the truth it contains in its moral aspects and in its relation to ourselves. These are different mental operations, and the state of mind which they suppose or induce must of course be different. Every Christian is familiar with this fact. He knows what it is to contemplate the divine perfections, for the purpose of understanding them, and to meditate on them to appreciate their excellence and feel their power. He sometimes is called on to form a clear idea of what the Bible teaches of the constitution of Christ's person, or the nature of his work; but much more frequently his mind turns towards the Son of God clothed in our nature, to behold his glory, to rejoice in his divine excellence, and amazing condescension and love. In all such cases, the intellectual apprehension is the same. It is the very truth and the very same form of that truth which is arrived at, by a careful exegesis, which is the subject of devout meditation. A Christian does not understand the Bible in one way when he reads it as a critic, and in another way when he reads for spiritual edification. His thoughts of God and Christ when endeavoring to discover the truth revealed concerning them, are the same as when he is engaged in acts of worship. Nay more, the clearer and more extended this speculative knowledge, the brighter and more undisturbed is the spiritual vision. other things being equal. One man may indeed be a better theologian but a less devout Christian than another; but the devout Christian is only the more devout with every increase in the clearness and consistency of his intellectual apprehensions. It may be further admitted, that the language of speculation is different from the language of emotion; that the terms employed in defining a theological truth, are not always those which would be naturally employed in setting forth that truth as the object of the affections. But these representations are always consistent. All hymns to Christ express precisely the same doctrine concerning his person, that is found in the Athanasian creed. The same remarks may be made in reference to all departments of theology. The doctrines concerning the condition of men by nature; of their relation to Adam; of their redemption through Christ; of the work of God's Spirit; may be examined either to be understood or to be felt. But in every case it is the truth as understood that is felt The understanding does not take one view and the feelings a different; the former does not pronounce for plenary power, and the latter for helplessness; the one does not assert that all sin consists in acts, and the other affirm the sinfulness of the heart; the one does not look on Christ as merely teaching by his death that sin is an evil, and the other behold him as bearing our sins in his own body on the tree.
This subject admits of abundant illustration, did our limits allow of a protracted discussion. A man may look over a tract of country and his inward state will vary with his object. He may contemplate it in reference to its agricultural advantages; or in regard to its topography, or its geological formation, or he may view it as a landscape. Another may gaze on a picture, or on any other work of art, as a critic, to ascertain the sources of the effect produced, or simply to enjoy it as an object of beauty. He may listen to a strain of music to note the varying intervals,, the succession of chords and the like, or merely to receive the pleasurable impression of the sounds. In all these cases the object contemplated is the same-the intellectual apprehension is the same, and though the state of mind varies as the design of the observer varies, and though the terms which he employs as an agriculturalist, or a geologist, or a critic, may differ from those which he uses to give expression to his emotions, there can be no contrariety. He cannot apprehend the same region to be barren and yet fertile, the same picture to be beautiful and yet the reverse, the same strain to be melodious and yet discordant. His intellect cannot make one report, and his feelings an opposite one It is thus with regard to divine truth. It may be viewed in order to be understood; or in order to be felt. We may come to the contemplation of it as theologians or as Christians, and our inward state will vary with our object, but there will be no contrariety in our apprehensions or in their expression.
The points of difference between the views expressed in the foregoing paragraph, and the theory of this discourse are two. First, Professor Park makes the perceptions themselves to vary, so that what appears true to the feelings is apprehended as false by the intellect. Secondly, he says that the expression of these different perceptions is, or may be, contradictory. Hence there may be, and actually are, two theologies, the one affirming, the other denying; the one teaching sound old school orthodoxy, the other, any form of new school divinity that suits the reigning fashion in philosophy. We maintain on the contrary that there is perfect consistency between the intellectual apprehension of truth when viewed in order to be understood and when contemplated in order to be felt; and that however different the language employed on these different occasions, there can be no contradiction There cannot therefore be two conflicting theologies; but, on the contrary, the theology of the feeling is the theology of the intellect in all its accuracy of thought and expression.
&nbsdp; There is still another view of this subject, so extensive and important that we hesitate even to allude to it in the conclusion of this article. What is the true relation between feeling and knowledge in matters of religion ? The discussion of this question might properly be made to cover the whole ground embraced in this discourse. This is really the point which Professor Park's subject called upon him to elucidate, but which he has only incidentally referred to. We have already endeavored to show that this relation is not such as his theory assumes. It does not admit of contradiction between the two. There cannot be two conflicting theologies, one of the feeling and another of the intellect. But if these principles cannot be in conflict, what is the relation between them ? Are they independent, as rationalism supposes' which allows feeling no place in determining our faith ? Or is the intellect determined by the feelings, so that the province of the former is only to act as the interpreter of the latter ? Or are the feelings determined by the intellect, so that the intellectual apprehension decides the nature of the affection ? These are questions upon which we cannot now enter. It appears very evident to us that neither the first nor the second of the views here intimated has any support either from Scripture or experience. The intellect and feelings are not independent, nor is the former the mere interpreter of the latter. This is becoming a very current opinion, and has been adopted in all its length from Schleiermacher by Morell. Knowledge, or truth, objectively revealed, is, according to this theory, of very subordinate importance. We have certain religious feelings: to develop the contents of those feelings, is the province of the intelligence, so that theology is but the intellectual forms in which the religious consciousness expresses itself. The standard of truth is, therefore, nothing objective, but this inward feeling. Any doctrine which can be shown to be the legitimate expression of an innate religious feeling is true-and any which is assumed to have a different origin, or to be foreign to the religious consciousness, is to be rejected.
What the Scriptures teach on this subject is, as it seems to us, in few words, simply this. In the first place, agreeably to what has already been said, the Bible never recognizes that broad distinction between the intellect and the feelings which is so often made by metaphysicians. It regards the soul as a perceiving and feeling individual subsistence, whose cognitions and affections are not exercises of distinct faculties, but complex states of one and the same subject. It never predicates depravity or holiness of the feelings as distinct from the intelligence, or of the latter as distinct from the former. The moral state of the soul is always represented as affecting its cognition" as wolf as its affections. In popular language, the understanding is darkened as well as the heart depraved. In the second place, the Scriptures as clearly teach that holiness is necessary to the perception of holiness. In other words, that the things of the Spirit must be spiritually discerned; that the unrenewed have not this discernment, and therefore, they cannot know the things which are freely given to us of God, i.e., the things which he has graciously revealed in this word. They may have that apprehension of them which an uncultivated ear hag of complicated musical sounds, or an untutored eye of a work of art. Much in the object is perceived, but much is not discerned, and that which remains unseen, is precisely that which gives to these objects their peculiar excellence and power. Thirdly, the Bible further teaches, that no mere change of the feelings is adequate to secure this spiritual discernment; but on the contrary, in the order of nature, and of experience, the discernment precedes the change of the affections, just as the perception of beauty precedes the answering aesthetic emotion. The eyes must be opened in order to see wondrous things out of the law of God. The glory of God, as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ, must be revealed, before the corresponding affections of admiration, love, and confidence rise in the heart. This illumination is represented as the peculiar work of the Spirit. The knowledge consequent on this illumination is declared to be eternal life. It is the highest form of the activity of the soul. It is the vision of God and of the things of God,, now seen indeed as through a glass darkly. This knowledge is the intuition not merely of the truth, but also of the excellence of spiritual objects. It is common to all the people of God, given to each in his measure, but producing in all a conviction and love of the same great truths.
If this be a correct exhibition of Scriptural teaching on this subject, it follows first, that the feelings are not independent of the intellect, or the intellect of the feelings, so that the one may be unholy and the other indifferent; or so that the one is uninfluenced by the other. It must also follow that the feelings do not determine the intelligence, as though the latter in matters of religion was the mere exponent of the former. The truth is not given in the feelings and discovered and unfolded by the intellect. The truth is objectively presented in the word; and is by the Spirit revealed in its excellence to the intelligence, and thus the feelings are produced as necessary attributes, or adjuncts of spiritual cognition. This is not " the light system." We do not hold that the heart is changed by the mere objective presentation of the truth. The intellect and heart are not two distinct faculties to be separately affected or separately renewed. There is a divine operation of which the whole soul is the subject. The consequence of the change thus effected is the intuition of the truth and glory of the things of God. If this representation be correct, there must be the most perfect harmony between the feelings and the intellect; they cannot see with different eyes, or utter discordant language.. What is true to the one, must be true to the other; what is good in the estimation of the one, must be good also to the other. Language which satisfies the reason in the expression of truth, must convey the precise idea which is embraced in the glowing cognition which constitutes religious feeling; and all the utterances of emotion must justify themselves at the bar of the intellect, as expressing truth before they can be sanctioned as vehicles of the religious affections The relation then between feeling and knowledge, as assumed in Scripture and proved by experience, is utterly inconsistent with the theory of this discourse, which represents them in perpetual conflict; the one affirming our nature to be sinful, the other denying it; the one teaching the doctrine of inability, the other that of plenary power; the one craving a real vicarious punishment of sin, the other teaching that a symbolical atonement is all that is needed; the one pouring forth its fervent misconceptions in acts of devotion, and the other whispering, all that must be taken cum grano salis.
We have now endeavored to show that there is no foundation for Professor Park's theory in the use of figurative language as the expression of emotion; nor in those conflicting judgments which the mind forms of truth in its different conditions; nor in the different states of mind consequent on contemplation of truth for different objects; nor in what the Scriptures and experience teach concerning the relation between the feelings and intellect We have further endeavored to show that this theory is destructive of the authority of the Bible, because it attributes to the sacred writers conflicting and irreconcilable representations Even should we admit that the feelings and the intellect have different apprehensions and adopt different modes of expression, yet as the feelings of the sacred writers were excited, as well as their cognitions determined, by the Holy Spirit, the two must be in perfect harmony. In unrenewed, or imperfectly sanctified, uninspired men, there might be, on the hypothesis assumed, this conflict between feeling and knowledge, but to attribute such contradictions to the Scriptures is to deny their inspiration Besides this, the practical operation of a theory which supposes that so large a part of the Bible is to be set aside as inexact, because the language of passion, must be to subject its teachings to the opinion and prejudices of the reader. No adequate criteria are given for discriminating between the language of feeling and that of the intellect. Every one is left to his own discretion in making the distinction, and the use of this discretion, regulated by no fixed rules of language, is of course determined 'by caprice or taste.
But even if our objections to the theory of this discourse be deemed unsound, the arbitrary application which the author makes of his principles would be enough to condemn them. We have seen that he attributes to the feeling the most abstract propositions of scientific theology, that he does not discriminate between mere figurative language and the language of emotion; that he adopts or rejects the representations of the Bible at pleasure, or as they happen to coincide with, or contradict his preconceived opinions. That a sentence of condemnation passed on all men for the sin of one man; that men are by nature the children of wrath; that without (Christ we can do nothing; that he hath redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us; that men are not merely pardoned, but justified; are represented as bold metaphors, impressive, but not intelligible, true to the feelings, but false to the reason.
It will be a matter of deep regret to many to find Professor Park, with his captivating talents and commanding influence, arrayed against the doctrines repudiated in this discourse; and many more will lament that he should have prepared a weapon which may be used against one doctrine as easily as another. Our consolation is, that however keen may be the edge, or bright the polish of that weapon, it has so little substance, it must be shivered into atoms with the first blow it strikes against those sturdy trees which have stood for ages in the garden of the Lord, and whose leaves have been for the healing of the nations.
1. Morell's Philosophy of Religion, p. 172. [back]
2. Our references are to the reprint of the Sermon in the Bibliotheca Sacra, for July, 1850. [back]
3. This is a rather dangerous principle Rhor, superintendent of Weimar, though pure Deist, admitting nothing but the doctrines of natural religion, still insisted on the propriety of retaining the language and current representations of orthodox Christians, and telling the people in his public ministrations that Christ was the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world; that men are saved by his blood. He did not think it necessary that the language designed to move the people "should accommodate itself to scientific changes," even, when, if literally understood. (i. e., if understood according to its true import) it was incorrect. It is easy to see what lattitude in saying one thing and meaning another, this principle will allow. [back]
4. This is so plain a matter that Professor Park has himself given utterance to the same truth "Is God," he asks, "the author of confusion; in his word revealing one doctrine and by his Spirit persuading his people to reject it ?" (p. 544). Surely not; and therefore, if the sanctified heart, i. e., the feelings under the influence Spirit, or, to use our author's phraseology, if the theology of feeling pronounces a doctrine to be true, nothing but a skeptical intellect can pronounce it to be false. [back]
This article is a review of an paper published by Edwards A. Park (Professor at Andover Theological Seminary) etitled "The Theology of the Intellect and That of the Feelings," which was a discourse on May 30th, 1850 that took place before the Convention of the Congregational Ministers of New England, in Brattle-street Meeting House, Boston. This review was originally published in the Princeton Review (October of 1850) and subsequently published in a book of collected essays by Charles Hodge entitled, Essays & Reviews (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1857).
Charles Hodge was a Presbyterian theologian and the principal of Princeton Theological Seminary between 1851 and 1878. He was a leading exponent of historical Reformed Christianity in America during the 19th century and deeply rooted in the Scottish philosophy of Common Sense Realism. In 1825 he established the quarterly Biblical Repertory, the title of which became the Princeton Review in 1877. He secured for it the position of theological organ of the Old School division of the Presbyterian Church, and continued its principal editor and contributor until 1868. He argued vehemently that the authority of the Bible as the Word of God had to be understood literally until his death in 1886.