Superstition and Infidelity

It is a very common saying that "extremes meet," and certainly its truth is forcibly illustrated in the two things named at the head of this article, superstition and infidelity—things which, though so unlike, do, nevertheless, meet in one point, namely, positive opposition to the plain word of god. They both alike rob the soul of the authority, preciousness, and power of divine revelation. True, they do this in different ways; but they do it—they reach this point by different routes; but they reach it. Hence it is that we link them together, and lift a warning voice against both. The two elements are working around us, in very subtle and dangerous forms, and the human mind is tossed like a ball from one to the other.
Now, it is not, by any means, our purpose, in this brief paper, to analyze these two evil influences. We merely call the attention of our readers to the startling fact that wherever they operate they are found in direct hostility to the truth of god. Superstition admits that there is a divine revelation; but it denies that anyone can understand it, save by the interpretation of the clergy or the church. In other words, the word of God is not sufficient without man's aid. God has spoken, but I cannot hear His voice, or understand His word without human intervention.
This is superstition. Infidelity, on the other hand, boldly denies a divine revelation—does not believe in such a thing, at all—maintains that God could not give as a book-revelation of His mind and will. Infidels can write books and can tell us their mind and will; but God cannot.
So says infidelity, and so saying it finds a point of contact in common with superstition. For, may we not lawfully inquire, wherein lies the difference between denying that God has spoken, and maintaining that He cannot make us understand what He says? Would there be any appreciable difference between the man who could deny that the sun shines, and the man who could maintain that, though he shines, you need a rush-light to enable you to enjoy his beams? We confess they both seem to us to stand on precisely the same moral ground. The infidelity that boldly and impiously denies that God can speak His mind to man, is little, if at all, worse than the superstition which denies that He can make man understand what He says. Both are alike dishonoring to God; and by both alike is man deprived of the priceless treasure of the volume of divine inspiration.
We are extremely anxious that the reader should seize this fact. Indeed our one object in penning these lines is to put him in full possession of it. We consider that we shall have done him good service if he rises from the perusal of this paper with the clear and firm conviction wrought in his soul that infidelity and superstition are the two great agencies by which the devil is seeking to remove from beneath our feet the solid rock of holy scripture—that, in short, it is, to use a law phrase, infidelity and superstition versus divine revelation.
And let the reader further note what is of interest and importance, namely, that both infidelity and superstition are alike impious and absurd. It is as impious and absurd to affirm that God could not write a book, as to say that He could not make us understand the book that He has written. In point of fact, in either case, it is reducing God below the level of the creature, which is simply blasphemy. Is it not strange that a man who undertakes to give us a written revelation of Ins mind, should deny that God could do the same? And is it not equally strange that man should undertake to expound and interpret the scriptures to his fellow, and yet deny that God could do the same? Well, the former is infidelity; the latter, superstition; and both alike exalt the creature and blaspheme the Creator—both alike shut out God, and rob the soul of the unspeakable privilege of direct intercourse and communion with God, by means of His word.
Thus it has been, from the beginning, and thus it is now. " There is nothing new under the sun." It has ever been the grand object of the enemy to quench the lamp of inspiration, and plunge the soul into the thick darkness of infidelity and atheism. We believe there is an amount of rationalism in the professing Church perfectly appalling to contemplate. Divine revelation is being gradually lowered from its lofty position, and human reason exalted; and this is the very germ of infidelity. True, it clothes itself in very attractive robes. It adopts very high-sounding and imposing language. It talks of "freedom of thought"—" liberty of opinion"—" breadth of mind"—" progress"—"cultivated taste"—" dispassionate investigation."
It adopts a most withering style and assumes an attitude of sovereign contempt when speaking of " old prejudices"—" old school notions"—"narrow-mindedness"—"men of one idea," and such like.
But, we may depend upon it, the one aim of the enemy is to set aside the authority of the word of God, and he cares not by what agency he gains his end. This is very serious; and we greatly fear that Christians are not fully alive to its seriousness. Whether we look at the religion or the education of the country, we observe a fixed purpose to set aside the Bible—a settled determination, not only to cast it down from its excellency, but to fling it completely into the shade.
Nor is it merely a question of the hostility of open and avowed infidels; that we can understand and account for. But we must confess our inability to understand the half-heartedness and indifference of many who occupy a high position in evangelical circles. The discussion of the great question of National Education has made manifest a most deplorable amount of weakness in quarters where we should least have looked for it. It is being made sadly apparent that the word of God has a very slender hold of the minds of professing Christians. Only think of a suggestion recently offered, that the Bible might at least get, in our National Schools, the place of a Hebrew classic!
Reader, what say you to this? Are you prepared to see the divine Volume—God's inspired Book—degraded into a mere classic, and placed alongside of Homer, Horace, and Virgil? We fondly trust not. We would fain believe that every reader of our little serial would shrink with horror from such a proposal. Nevertheless, we feel called upon to sound a note of alarm in the ears of our dear fellow Christians everywhere, and we entreat them not to disregard it We want to see them thoroughly roused to a sense of the true state of the case—so roused that they may be led to cry earnestly to the great Head of the Church that He would he graciously pleased to raise up and send forth men full of the Holy Ghost and of power—full of faith and holy zeal—men permeated by solid belief in the plenary inspiration of holy scripture. These, we are persuaded, are the men for the present crisis. May God supply them!