NOTE 6



from: http://www.hti.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=moa;idno=AFY1737.0001.001 (electronic text):


Science in Theology. Sermons Preached in St. Mary's, Oxford, Before the University, by Adam S. Farrar [1826 - 1905], M.A., F.G.S., F.R.A.S., Michel Fellow of Queen's College, Oxford; Late One of the Select Preachers to the University; and Preacher at the Chapel Royal, Whitehall. Philadelphia: Smith, English & Co., No. 23 North Sixth Street. New York: Sheldon & Co. Boston: Gould & Lincoln. 1860. [See 2841].



"Preface."


"He ["the writer" (Adam S. Farrar)] bestows his praises as a student, not as a theologian; the difference being that a student usually praises a work if he finds it suggestive of thought and instruction; while a theologian too often withholds his commendations if he finds the sentiments disagree with his preconceived opinions, i.e. (to use Lord Bacon's caustic expression) WITH THE IDOLS OF HIS OWN DEN."


[xiii] [End of Preface].


_____ _____ _____


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from: A Critical History of Freethought, in Reference to The Christian Religion. Eight Lectures preached before the University of Oxford, in the year M.DCCC.LXII, on the Foundation of the Late Rev. John Bampton, M.A. Canon of Salisbury, by Adam Storey Farrar, M.A., Michel Fellow of Queen's College, Oxford. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1, 3, and 5 Bond Street. 1882 (1862). [first seen, and studied, 10/30/2004]


[Note: This book contains much Christian claptrap, bombast, obfuscation, etc.; and, is very interesting and instructive. Must see!].



"The Bampton Lecture is an establishment for producing apologetic treatises. The authors are supposed to assume the truth of Christianity, and to seek to repel attacks upon it. They are defenders, not investigators...." [ix].



"Whatever is evil is eliminated in the conflict; whatever is good is retained. Under the overruling of a beneficent Providence, antagonism is made the law of human progress." [12].



          "We have tried to comprehend the mind of Voltaire [1694 - 1778], to notice his peculiarities and faults, before considering his opinions; because his influence was due to his mental and personal character rather than to the matter of his writings. It remains to state his views on religion, and the grounds of his attack on revelation. The chief materials for ascertaining them are the four volumes in the vast collection of his works, which contain his philosophical and theological writings.32 They partake of every variety of form,—essays, letters, treatises, pamphlets, translations, commentaries. They include, besides smaller works, a commentary on the Old Testament; translations of parts of Bolingbroke [Lord Bolingbroke 1678 - 1751] and of Toland [John Toland 1670 - 1722]; an investigation concerning the establishment of Christianity; deist sermons which he pretends had been delivered; discourses written under false names;33 and doubts proposed and solved after the manner of preceding philosophers. Yet in these numerous treatises there is no claim to originality. His doubts and beliefs are taken mainly from the English deists; and chiefly from Bolingbroke, the most French in mind of any of the English school....


The science of historical criticism was beginning in his [Voltaire's] day, and was applied to the legends of Roman history. Voltaire embodied the spirit of this inquiry. In his histories he exemplified the cold, worldly, modern mode of looking at events, as opposed to the providential and theocratic view of them which had found expression as recently as in the works of Bossuet [Jacques Bénigne Bossuet 1627 - 1704].37 And he transferred this method to the treatment of holy scripture. No new branch of information was left unused by him for contributing to his impious purpose [I (LS) have attempted the same]. The numerous works of travels which were affording an acquaintance with the mythology of other nations, were made to furnish him with the materials for hastily applying one solution to all the early Jewish histories, which he failed to invalidate by the application of the historic method just described. By an


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inversion of the argument of the early Christian apologists, he pretended[?] that the early history preserved among the Hebrews was borrowed from the heathens, instead of claiming that the heathen mythology was a trace of Hebrew tradition; and, with a view to sustain this opinion, he discredited the integrity of the Hebrew literature. In nothing is his singular want of poetic taste, and of the power to appreciate the beauties of the literature of young nations, and the ethical value of moral institutions, more visible, than in denying the literary and monumental value of the Bible, and the moral influence of Christianity.38 Infidels who have hated revealed religion as bitterly as Voltaire, have at least not had the meanness or the want of taste to depreciate the literary and moral interest which attaches to it.

          Such was the character of the man, and of the efforts which he directed to the injury of revelation. It has been said39 that to obliterate [Voltaire's] his influence from the history of the eighteenth century would be to produce a greater difference than the absence of any other individual in it would occasion; and would be similar to the omission of Luther from the sixteenth." [175-176].



          [footnote (not referenced above)] '35"ECRASEZ L'INFAME" are the words, the initials of which, signed as the end of his letters to infidel friends, baffled the French police. Buckle [Henry Thomas Buckle 1821 - 1862] considers them to have been designed against the French church, but offers no proof. It is to be feared that they were rather intended against the Christian religion, if not against the sacred person of our blessed Lord [Jesus].' [175].

 

Excursus: from: Los Angeles Times, February 9, 2005, E10, Book Review: "Voltaire in Exile", by Ian Davidson:

 

'By 1753, when Davidson's story opens, VOLTAIRE [1694 - 1778] was one of the most famous men in Europe, a poet, a playwright, a historian, a skeptic known for his motto

"ECRASEZ L'INFAME," MEANING "ELIMINATE THE TERRIBLE THING"--I.E., THE OPPRESSIVE CONFLATION OF STATE AND THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.

 

Voltaire admired the mild English system of liberty, which he contrasted favorably to the French ancien regime.' End of Excursus.



"The theoretical morality of the English deists, even when depending on expedience, was noble; but in place of it the French school presented the lowest form of theory which ethical science has ever stated, and which finds its refutation with the philosophy that gave it birth.

          No age exhibits a body of sceptical writers whose characters are so unattractive as the French unbelievers; whose coarseness of mind in failing to appreciate that which is beautiful in Christianity is so evident, that charity could not forbid us to doubt, even if there were not independent proof, that faults of character contributed very largely to the formation of their unbelief [amusing!]. Nevertheless, the political aspect of the movement carries a solemn warning to the Christian church,


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not to endanger the everlasting Gospel of the Son of God by making it the buttress to support corrupt political and ecclesiastical institutions. It is true that Christ will not abandon his true church. Whatever is divine and eternally true will always as in this case survive the catastrophe. But this period of history shows that Providence will not work a miracle to save religion from a temporary eclipse, if the church forgets that Christ's kingdom is not of this world; and that the mission which he has given it is to convert souls to him; and that learning and piety are intellectual and moral means for effecting this object.22 The political faults or shortcomings of the church are no apology for the infidelity of France; but they must be taken into acconnt [account] in explaining its intensity.

          A theological movement ["French unbelievers"] so vast could not fail to exercise an influence in other lands. Incidental allusions have already been made to its effects at the court of Prussia,23 and to the traces of its tone in some of the later of the English deists." [193-194].



"In Gibbon [Edward Gibbon 1737 - 1794], about 1776, the ancient spirit of deism, the spirit of Bolingbroke [Lord Bolingbroke 1678 - 1751], speaks, but the form is changed. Instead of denying Christianity on à priori moral considerations, he feels bound to explain facts. The attack is not so much moral as historic. The inquiry into historical origines as well as logical causes has commenced. The mode of attack too has changed, as well as the point from which it is made. The French influence is visible in the satire and irony prevalent. There is no longer the bitter moral indignation of the early English deists, but the sneer that marks the spirit of contempt. Fear and hatred of Christianity have given way to philosophical contempt. (25)

          In Thomas Paine [1737 - 1809], who wrote in France in the midst of the meeting of the French Convention, we meet a nearer reproduction of the spirit of early English deism, but he has even more than Gibbon caught the spirit of the French movement. Gibbon's scepticism is that of high life; Paine's of low. The one writer sneers, the other hates. The one is a philosopher, the other a politician. Paine represents the infidel movement of England when it had spread itself among the lower orders, and mingled itself with the political dissatisfaction for which unhappily there was supposed to be some ground. Paine's spirit is that of English deism animated by the political exasperation which had characterised the French. His doctrines come from English deism; his bitterness from Voltaire [1694 - 1778]; his politics from Rousseau [Jean Jacques Rousseau 1712 - 1778].

          Within the limits of the present century two other traces are found of the influence of the French school of infidelity, which therefore ought logically to be comprised with it. The one is political, the other literary; viz. the socialist schemes of Owen, which in some respects seem to be derived by direct lineage from Paine, and the expression of unbelief in the poetry of Byron [George Gordon Byron 1788 - 1824] and Shelley [Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792 - 1822].

          We must briefly notice these writers in succession.

          The first in the series is Gibbon.25 Though he has let an autobiography, he has not fully unveiled the causes which shook his faith, and made him turn deist. We can however collect that the reaction from the doubts suggested by the perusal of Middleton's [Conyers Middleton 1683 - 1750] work [see Article #4, 115, 481.] on the subject of the cessation of miracles, then recently brought into notoriety, (26) turned


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him to the church of Rome; and that his residence abroad and familiarity with French literature caused him to drift afterwards into the opposite extreme of scepticism. He did not become an atheist, like some of the French writers whom we have been studying: but he seems to have given up the belief in the divine origin of Christianity; and he manifested the spirit of dislike and insinuation common in the unbelief of the time.

          He did not write expressly against Christianity; but the subject came across his path in travelling over the vast space of time which he embraced in his magnificent History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. It is a subject of regret to be compelled to direct hostile remarks against one who has deserved so well of the world. That work, though in the pageantry of its style26 it in some sense reflects the art and taste of the age in which it was written, yet in its love of solid information and deep research is the noblest work of history in the English tongue. Grand alike in its subject, its composition, and its perspective, it has a right to a place among the highest works of human conception; and sustains the relation to history which the works of Michael Angelo [1475 - 1564] bear to art. In the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of this work, Gibbon had occasion to discuss the origin of Christianity, and assigned five causes for its spread; viz. its internal doctrine, and organization, miracles, Jewish zeal, and excellence of Christian morals[?]. The chapters were received with denunciations. Yet those27 who in later times have re-examined Gibbon's statements candidly admit that they can find hardly any errors of fact or intentional mis-statement of circumstances...." [195-197].



          "Paine [Thomas Paine 1737 - 1809] is a character of a very different kind from the freethinker last named [Gibbon].33 Instead of the polished scholar, the polite man of letters, and the historian, like Gibbon, we see in him an active man of the world, educated by men rather than books, of low tastes and vulgar tone, the apostle alike of political revolution and infidelity. Though a native of England, his earliest life was spent in America at the time of the war of independence. Returning to England with the strong feelings of liberty and freedom which had marked the revolt of the colonies, he wrote at the time of the outbreak of the French revolution a work called the Rights of Man, in reply to Burke's criticism on that event. Prosecuted for this work, he fled to France, and was distinguished by being the only foreigner save one34 elected to the French Convention. During its session he composed the infidel work called the Age of Reason, by which his name has gained an unenviable notoriety; and after the alteration of political circumstances in France, he returned to America, and there dragged out a miserable existence, indebted in his last illness for acts of charity to disciples of the very religion that he had opposed.

          The two works, the Rights of Man, and the Age of Reason, being circulated widely in England by the democratic societies of that period, contributed probably more than any other books to stimulate revolutionary feeling in politics and religion.35 This popularity is owing partly to the character of the language and ideas, partly to the state of public feeling. Manifesting much plebeian simplicity of speech and earnestness of conviction, they gave expression in coarse Saxon words to thoughts which were then passing through many hearts. They were like the address of a mob-orator in writing, and fell upon ground prepared. Political reforms had been steadily resisted; and accordingly, when the success of foreign revolution had raised men's


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spirits to the highest point of impatience, the middle classes, which wanted a moderate reform, were unfortunately thrown on the side of the wild and anarchical spirits that wished for utter revolution. The church, by holding with the state, was partly involved in the same obloquy. Paine's works, resembling Rousseau's in purpose, though quite opposite in style, were as much adapted to the lower classes of England as his [Rousseau's] to the polished upper classes of France.

          The Age of Reason, was a pamphlet admitting of quick perusal. It was afterwards followed by a second part, in which a defence was offered against the replies made to the former part. The object of the two is to state reasons for rejecting the Bible,36 and to explain the nature of the religion of deism,37 which was proposed as a substitute. A portion is devoted to an attack on the external evidence of revelation, or, as the author blasphemously calls it,38 "the three principal means of imposture," prophecy, miracles, and mystery; the latter of which he asserts may exist in the physical, but not by the nature of things in the moral world. A larger portion is devoted to a collection of the various internal difficulties of the books of the Old and New Testament, and of the schemes of religion, Jewish and Christian.39 The great mass of these objections are those which had been suggested by English or French deists, but are STATED WITH EXTREME BITTERNESS. The most novel part of this work is the use which Paine makes of the discoveries of astronomy40 in revealing the vastness of the universe and a plurality of globes, to discredit the idea of interference on behalf of this insignificant planet,—an argument which he wields especially against the doctrine of incarnation. But no part of his work manifests such bitterness, and at the same time such a specious mode of argument, as his attack on the doctrine of redemption and substitutional atonement.41 The work, in its satire and its blasphemous ribaldry, is a fit parallel to those of Voltaire. EVERY LINE IS FRESH FROM THE WRITER'S [THOMAS PAINE 1737 - 1809] MIND, AND


WRITTEN WITH AN ACRIMONY WHICH ACCOUNTS FOR MUCH OF ITS INFLUENCE.

The religion which Paine substituted for Christianity was the belief in one God as revealed by science, in immortality as the continuance of conscious existence, in the natural equality of man, and in the obligation of justice and mercy to one's neighbour.42" [199-201].



"....If the doubters can be brought to appreciate Christ; to mediate of his life; to think of him as one who tasted of human suffering, and knew the poignancy of human temptation; and whose heart of tender pity was ever open to the petition of the needy; they will first admire, then believe, then trust: and when they have learned to love him as a Man of pity, it is to be hoped that they may be brought, by the drawings of the Holy Spirit, to worship and adore him as a God of love. Beginning, not with history, but with feeling; starting with a religion based on the intuitive consciousness of needing Divine help; we may hope to prepare them for receiving the historic testimony which tells of the Divine plan for human redemption: leading them from the sense of sin to Him who saves from sin; from the inward to the outward; from Christ to Christianity; from Christian doctrine to the perfectness of Christian faith." [305] [End of Lecture VII.]. [Classic Christian Claptrap!].


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"Note 6. p. 12.


Unitarianism.


          It may be useful to indicate the chief stages of the history of Unitarianism, and the sources of information with regard to it, as it bears a close analogy to some forms of free thought, such as deism,7 and connects itself more or less nearly with forms of rationalism which occur in the course of the history.

          The first instance of it is in the early ages, either as a Jewish Gnostic sect, Ebionitism, or in some of the other forms of Gnosticism; passing in the east into Arianism, which lowered God, and in the west into Pelagianism, which elevated man. For this period see F. Lange, Geschichte und Lehrbegriff d. Unitarier vor d. Nicaenischen Synode, 1831; Hagenbach's Dogmengeschichte, § 23; and the church histories which treat of this period.

          IN THE MIDDLE AGES THE TENDENCY MAY BE CONSIDERED TO BE MAINLY REPRESENTED BY MAHOMETANISM [MOHAMMEDANISM, ISLAMISM, ETC.], and hardly exists at all in the Christian church.


          Its modern form arises at the time of the Reformation.

          1. Originating in Italy, it exists as a doctrine in Switzerland and Germany from 1525–1560. See F. Trechsel's Die Protest. Antitrinitarier vor Faustus Socinus, 1844. The best known names are Servetus [Michael Servetus c. 1511 - 1553], Lelio Sozini [Fausto Sozzini 1539 - 1604 (Socinus)], and Ochino [Bernardo Ochino 1487 - 1565]...." [391].



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