by Catharine Esther Beecher October 30th, 2023
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The second volume will commence with a description of the kind of evidence which sustains the Bible as a collection of authentic and authoritative records of revelations from the Creator. This kind of evidence, it will be shown, in one grand feature is entirely diverse from any that ever existed, or even that was ever claimed to exist in reference to any pretended revelations. It will also be shown that this evidence is as strong and reliable as that which regulates men in their daily practical concerns. This attempt the writer supposes to be, in some respects, peculiar, and one that is particularly calculated to affect popular apprehension, especially that of well-balanced and practical minds. Instead of a great array of detail and argument, the whole will be contained in a very few pages, easily comprehended, and demanding but little time or effort. In the next place, the laws of interpretation, and the principles of common sense as set forth in this volume, will be applied to discover the answers of the Sacred Oracles to the great questions of life, and their agreement with reason, experience, and the moral sense of mankind. This will involve a discussion of the philosophical theories which it is believed have obscured and diminished {282}the influence of the great Atoning Sacrifice of "the Great God our Savior Jesus Christ." The work will conclude with the practical application of the views set forth to the greatest of all human interests, the right training of the human mind in infancy and childhood. Before offering to the public the topics to be embraced in the last volume, it is deemed expedient to present the great principles on which all the discussions are to rest, and also a fair illustration of the mode in which these principles will be applied.
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Common Sense Applied to Religion; Or, The Bible and the People by Catharine Esther Beecher, is part of the HackerNoon Books Series. You can jump to any chapter in this book here. ADDENDA TO VOL. I.


The second volume will commence with a description of the kind of evidence which sustains the Bible as a collection of authentic and authoritative records of revelations from the Creator. This kind of evidence, it will be shown, in one grand feature is entirely diverse from any that ever existed, or even that was ever claimed to exist in reference to any pretended revelations.

It will also be shown that this evidence is as strong and reliable as that which regulates men in their daily practical concerns.

This attempt the writer supposes to be, in some respects, peculiar, and one that is particularly calculated to affect popular apprehension, especially that of well-balanced and practical minds. Instead of a great array of detail and argument, the whole will be contained in a very few pages, easily comprehended, and demanding but little time or effort.

In the next place, the laws of interpretation, and the principles of common sense as set forth in this volume, will be applied to discover the answers of the Sacred Oracles to the great questions of life, and their agreement with reason, experience, and the moral sense of mankind.

This will involve a discussion of the philosophical theories which it is believed have obscured and diminished the influence of the great Atoning Sacrifice of "the Great God our Savior Jesus Christ."

The work will conclude with the practical application of the views set forth to the greatest of all human interests, the right training of the human mind in infancy and childhood.

Before offering to the public the topics to be embraced in the last volume, it is deemed expedient to present the great principles on which all the discussions are to rest, and also a fair illustration of the mode in which these principles will be applied.

The following is the illustrative example:

Theological Dogma of a Depraved Mental Constitution.

In the preceding pages we have seen the evidence that the mind of man is perfect in its constitutional powers, and is thus the chief and highest evidence of the wisdom, justice, and benevolence of its Creator.

But the systems of theology in all the Christian sects, excepting a small fraction, teach that the mind of man comes into existence in this world with "a depraved nature;" meaning by this a mental constitution more or less depraved.

That this is the ordinary dogma of theological teachings is clear from this statement of the case. A thing can be wrong in only two conceivable ways: one is by its nature or original construction, and the other is by its action. The mind of man, therefore, if it is not perfect every way, is either wrong in construction or wrong in action. Now no person ever claimed that the mind of man was not depraved in action, and therefore all who teach that it is depraved any other way must teach that it is depraved in its constitution, or in that nature it received from its Maker, for there are only these two modes of depravity conceivable.

It being granted, then, that the mind of our race is depraved in its nature, of course the Author of this nature is responsible for this inconceivable and wholesale wrong. This forces us to the inevitable conclusion that the Creator of mind is a being guilty of the highest conceivable folly, injustice, and malignity. For reason and common sense teach that "the nature of a contrivance is proof of the character and intention of its author." Therefore, if mind is depraved in construction, the Author of it is a depraved being, and totally unworthy of our trust, respect, or love.

This is the argument which, in all ages, has been pressed on those theologians who maintain the dogma of the depraved nature of man, and there have been these various methods by which this difficulty has been evaded:

One class openly avow that the Creator had power to make the mind of man perfect in all respects, and that he has proved that he has this power by making the minds of angels and of our first parents thus perfect. But, in consequence of our first parents eating the forbidden fruit, every mind created since that time has been ruined in the making, so as to be totally depraved. This, it is maintained, it was right for God to do. How it was right we have no business to inquire. It is an awful mystery; but it was so done that God "is in no way the author of sin."

This amounts simply to a denial of the principle of reason, "that the nature of a contrivance is proof of the intention and character of the contriver." It is saying that the author of sin is not the author of sin.

This will be still farther apparent if we refer to page 158, where is exhibited the only conceivable modes in which one being can be the cause of sin or of wrong action in others. God is undisputably the author of all the outward circumstances that surround us. If, then, he has made our susceptibilities wrong, or combined them wrong, he is the author of sin in every conceivable sense.

Whoever, therefore, affirms that God is the author of a depraved mental organization of the human mind, affirms that he is "the author of sin" in every conceivable sense. To assert such a fact, and then deny that God is the author of sin, is simply a contradiction in terms.

To avoid this dilemma, theologians have instituted the following theories:

The first class teach that the first pair of the human race were made with perfect minds, and then stood as representatives of the race and sinned for the whole. The first part of the penalty came on the actual sinners in the ruin of their own mental constitution, and then, all men being represented in Adam and Eve, the Creator "imputed" this sin to all their posterity, and, as a penalty, all receive a depraved mental constitution.

That is to say, though each of the unborn millions descended from Adam was innocent of the crime, in order to be just, God "imputes" it to each, and, as a penalty, ruins each in its organization, when He has full power to make perfect minds.

Another class assume that the Creator established such a constitution of things that the nature of one mind is transmitted to all its myriad descendants, by the same law as the nature of a plant is included in one seed and is transmitted to all of its future kind. The first parents of our race, receiving perfect minds from their Creator, ruined them by one act of disobedience. Then, by the above law, instituted by their Maker, they transmitted this depraved constitution of mind to all their descendants.

This mode of evading responsibility is about as honorable as if a teacher should so construct springs and traps for his pupils that one little fellow, when forbidden to do it, should touch a spring that should cut off his own hand, and thus move other springs that would maim all the rest of the school, while the master lays all the blame on the child that disobeyed.

Another class teach that the first man and woman of the race were made with perfect minds, and then such a constitution of things was instituted by God that every mind of the human race was so existing with or in them, that when Adam and Eve voluntarily disobeyed the Creator's first law, every one of their descendants voluntarily did the same thing; and then, as a penalty for the deed, the parent and every one of the embryo descendants became "totally depraved."

This theory, which makes every human being guilty of a crime thousands of years before we were born, and for which we are suffering the most awful of all penalties, has nearly passed away to the puerilities of the old schoolmen, and yet there are some of the most popular professors in our largest and most respectable theological seminaries who are publicly advocating it at this very time.

Another method promulgated is the assumption that all the race were originally created perfect, and then, while in the possession of every possible advantage for virtue and happiness, they ruined themselves in a previous state of existence. This is the only theory which really meets the difficulty, and relieves the character of the Creator from being the guilty author of depraved minds.

But this theory, even if it could be established by revelation, does not remedy the strong argument of reason and experience against the wisdom and benevolence of the Creator, on the assumption of a depraved constitution of mind. The man denying a revelation, who is called upon to receive one, can say, Here is a race, every one of whom is ruined, and, so far as I can see, in the making of his mind by the Creator. Therefore this Creator, by his works, is shown to be a being of infinite folly and malignity, from whom no reliable revelation is possible.

Granting the mind to be depraved, the light of reason inevitably guides to a weak or malevolent Creator. To illustrate this, suppose a man is seen manufacturing beautiful porcelain vases, and out of the "clay of the same lump," as he makes them, he spoils every one, cracking, marring, and defacing them in the very process of manufacture. Now suppose this person should turn to a witness, and offer to instruct him in the best way of doing things, what would be the common-sense reply? Exactly that which would be due to a Creator who has ruined every mind he sent into this world, and then proposes to reveal the right way for those ruined creatures to act!

Another illustration may be permitted. Suppose a colony, by some mischance, settles on an isolated island, which is found covered with the tobacco plant. They clear their plantations, but find that, by a remarkable and unintelligible arrangement, after every shower there is a fall of tobacco seeds, disseminated from an inaccessible height by a machine erected for the purpose and constantly supplied.

After some years, they receive a missive from the king to whom the island belongs, in which he informs them that tobacco is the chief object of his detestation; that it is doing incalculable mischief to his subjects; that it is the chief end of his life, and he wishes it to be of theirs, to exterminate the plant, and thus its use.

He, at the same time, states that he is the author of the contrivance for scattering the seed, and that he keeps it constantly supplied, and claims that he has a right "to do what he will with his own," without being questioned by his subjects.

He then enacts that any person who is found to use tobacco, or even to have a single seed or plant on his premises, shall be burned alive in a caldron of fire and brimstone.

If, in addition to this, that king were to command supreme love to him, and perfect confidence in his wisdom, justice, and goodness, all this would but faintly illustrate that awful system under consideration, whose penalties are eternal.

The assumption that the constitution of mind is depraved not only destroys the evidence of the Creator's wisdom and benevolence by the light of reason, but destroys the possibility of a credible and reliable revelation from him.

For the belief in the existence of a God is dependent on an intuitive truth, while his character is understood, without a revelation, only by the aid of that intuitive truth which teaches that the nature of his works proves his character and designs. Now if his greatest work, the immortal mind, that which alone gives any value to his other works, is malformed, and thus made the cause of all the misery, crime, and evil of this life, what is there to give any foundation for confidence that his revelations will not be false, pernicious, and malignant?

No man can start with the assumption that there is a revelation from the Creator that needs no proof. The only basis for such a revelation is that intuitive truth by the aid of which miracles and prophecy become evidences of the interposition of the Creator. Thus we perceive that the proof that "the author of a depraved constitution of mind is a depraved being," is as strong as the evidence of a revelation by miracles and prophecy can be.

In regard to these theories, and in regard to the dogma of theology which they are instituted to explain, it is claimed that both reason and the Bible equally forbid each and all of them.

It has already been shown, in Chapters xxii. and xxiii., that all the evidence of reason and experience goes to prove that the mind of man is perfect in its organization. We have only to inquire, then, in regard to the evidence claimed to be found in revelations from the Creator.

Before examining this evidence, it is important to notice the distinction between revealed facts and the theories invented to explain them.

The fact, which both experience and revelation agree in teaching, is that man, as a race, is guilty and depraved in action, and that from the earliest periods of life this depraved action is manifested.

The theories relate to the cause of this wrong action, and there are only two. The first theory is, that the constitution of mind is perfect, and that the wrong action results from a want of experience, knowledge, right habits, right training, and right social influences.

The second theory is, that the constitution of mind is depraved, and that its wrong action is the inevitable result of this wrong construction.

Then come the theories in reference to the cause of this assumed malformation of mind. There are only two ever assigned, viz., God and man: God by creation, and man by sinning in Adam or before Adam in a pre-existent state.

By those who ascribe the deed to God, it is claimed that he perpetrated this wholesale wrong to our race in one of two ways, viz., either by the direct miscreation of each mind at or near the time of birth, or by creating such a constitution of things that by one wrong act the first pair transmitted, from parent to child, through the whole race, a vitiated and depraved mental constitution.

We now resort to the Bible to ascertain what are its teachings on this subject.

In the first place, then, we find a constant recognition of the fact of a depraved action of mind, and that this commences at the earliest period of life. On this, as a revealed fact, there is no debate.

Next, in regard to the theories instituted to account for this fact. Here we shall only discuss the commonly accepted theory of the Christian world, and leave the other for the future volume.

The main reliance for the support of the common theory of a miscreated mind is found in Genesis, chapters i. and v., which, it is claimed, teaches, in the first place, that God could and did create the first human pair with minds perfectly organized, and, next, that after they sinned, their descendants came into life with a depraved mental constitution. The passages read thus:

Gen., i., 26, 27: "And God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.'"

"So God created man in his own image; in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them."

Gen., v., 3: "And Adam begat a son in his own likeness, after his image, and called his name Seth."

The whole question in these passages turns on the meaning of the words "image" and "likeness."

Now the only conceptions possible of the "image or likeness" of a human mind to its spiritual Creator are, first, resemblance in its constitutional powers of intellect, susceptibility, and will, and, next, resemblance in the action of these faculties.

That man is the image and likeness of his Maker in constitutional powers is clear, because we can not have any conception of the Creator but as of a mind like our own, infinite in the extent of such capacities. This, then, is one respect in which the first pair could be in the image or likeness to God.

The other only conceivable respect in which they could resemble their Creator is by their own voluntary action, and this can not be conceived of as created.

Man is the sole producing cause (see page 158) of his own voluntary acts, which alone decide moral character. Should God create these, man would cease to be their author and cease to be a free agent.

It is thus manifest that a mind can be created in the image of God, so far as we can conceive, only in its constitutional powers of intellect, susceptibility, and will.

This being established as the meaning of the word when it is said that Adam begat Seth "in his own image," if it has reference to the mind alone, or chiefly, then it means that the mental organization of the child was like the parent's, and thus like the Creator's.

In the New Testament, the chief passages which are supposed to bear on this subject are in Romans, chapter v. These are the main texts:

Verse 12: "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men for that all have sinned."

Verse 19: "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."

Here we again are to discriminate between facts and theories. The facts here stated are, that by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; that death comes on all men because all sin; and that by one man's disobedience many were made sinners.

Then come the theories as to the mode by which many were made sinners by the sin of one man.

Here the Bible is silent. But theologians have manufactured the theory that when Adam sinned the constitution of his mind was changed, and then that this nature was transmitted to his descendants. All this is without a word of proof.

Others have assumed that all mankind were existing in Adam, and "sinned in him, and fell with him," which is both unintelligible, and equally without support from the Bible.

These, it is believed, are all ever claimed as direct Scripture evidence of a depraved constitution of mind consequent on Adam's sin. Two other passages are quoted as having an indirect bearing on this subject. They are as follows:

2 Peter, ii., 4: "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgment"—

Jude, 6 verse: "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day."

In regard to these passages, we are to notice, as before, first, the facts revealed, and, next, the theories instituted in regard to them.

The facts are, that there are two classes of angels, those that have sinned and those that have not; that those that sinned kept not their first estate, but left their habitations; that God cast them down to hell, and that they are reserved in chains of darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

These are all the facts disclosed. Not a word is said as to the cause or reason why some sinned and some did not, nor as to the mode or manner by which these events were brought about. Here the theories come in.

Those who maintain the depravity of the human mental constitution frame their theory on these passages thus:

It is here taught that there are a class of minds that have never sinned. There must be a cause for this diversity from man's experience. This cause is a perfect mental constitution. This, it is seen, is a mere assumption, without a word of proof from the passages quoted! What is quite as remarkable is, that this theory is maintained in the face of the concession that both Adam and the fallen angels were as well endowed as the unsinning angels in regard to mental constitution, and yet that they all sinned just as the descendants of Adam have done.

This dogma has been sustained by certain misconceptions that should be considered.

The first is in the use of the term "nature." As this word is ordinarily used, it signifies that constitution, received from the Author of all things, which makes certain results or effects invariable. Thus, when a fountain invariably sends forth bitter waters, it is called its "nature" to do so; when a tree invariably produces bitter fruit, this is called its "nature." Now if it was a fact that the human mind never acted right, but invariably wrong, it would be proper to apply this term, and to say that in its "nature" it was totally depraved.

But this is not the fact. "Sin is a transgression of law," and every child, from the first, sometimes obeys and sometimes disobeys the physical, social, and moral laws of God. No child ever invariably breaks them, but sometimes obeys and sometimes disobeys.

But theologians have mystified the subject by assuming the very thing to be proved, and then "reasoning in a circle." Thus they assume, not only without, but contrary to evidence, that all human minds invariably act wrong from the first; therefore there must be a cause, and this cause is the "nature" received, directly or indirectly, from the Creator. Then they assume that, as every mind is "totally depraved" in its "nature," it can no more produce holy acts than a corrupt tree can produce good fruit, or a bitter fountain send forth sweet waters.

Another misconception which has embarrassed this subject has arisen from the supposition that it is irreverent, and contrary to the Bible, to allow any limitation to almighty power, even in "the nature of things."

But it can be clearly shown that every person who maintains that there is a Creator who is "perfect" in wisdom and benevolence, does, by this assertion, maintain that very limitation to which the objection is made. This is shown by means of accurate definitions.

Thus "perfect wisdom is that which adapts the best possible means to the best possible ends."

"Perfect benevolence is that which produces the greatest possible good with the least possible evil."

That is to say, a Creator who is perfect in wisdom and goodness has done the best that possibly can be done for the great universe of mind in all its infinite and eternal relations. This being so, certainly "He has no power to do better."

The only way this is evaded is by using different words that mean the same thing, and then refusing to define these words, or to accept exact definitions of them from others.

The infidel, who allows a God of perfect goodness and wisdom, and the strict Calvinist, who is shocked at hearing that God "has no power" to make a better system, or one that has less of evil, say the very same thing themselves, only in more vague and misty modes of expression. They, therefore, are precluded from objecting to positions that involve such a limitation, when it is the very one which they themselves assume.

To affirm that almighty power can make black white and yet black at the same time, or a straight line crooked and still straight, even the strictest upholders of the extent of almighty power would hesitate to affirm, because they are contradictions and absurdities. But they teach equal contradictions who claim that a mind can be created with knowledge, habits, and experience, when it has had neither instruction, training, or experience.

Instead of claiming these absurdities as included in our ideas of this attribute of Deity, we are rather to assume that by almighty power is signified "a power to do all things except contradictions and absurdities."

Thus has been presented what is claimed as the evidence in the Bible in favor of a depraved mental constitution in the human race, and it is maintained that it amounts to nothing at all.

This being so, then we appeal to the principle of reason and common sense (p. 25), "that nothing is to be assumed as true unless there is some evidence that it is so."

Moreover, in Chapters xxii. and xxiii. is exhibited the evidence of reason and experience that the human mind is perfectly organized, and thus the highest evidence of its Maker's wisdom and benevolence.

So we can again appeal to another principle of reason, that "we are to consider that right which has the balance of evidence in its favor." If there is no evidence to prove the mind of man depraved in organization, and all the evidence of reason and experience is in favor of its perfect organization, is it not to be assumed that it is thus perfect?

To this might be added the teachings of the Bible in the same direction. But this is deferred to the future volume. In the present illustrative example, the aim is simply to exhibit the fallacy of one of the theological theories that has been incorporated as a part of the teachings of the Bible, thus lessening the respect and confidence accorded to it, and impeding the true religious development of our race.

How it has happened that a dogma, which is so contrary to the moral feelings and the common sense of man, and, at the same time, unsupported by revelation, should have become so incorporated with the teachings of the Christian Church, will be set forth in the next article.

History of the Dogma.

The history of the dogma of the depraved constitution of the human mind imparted directly or indirectly by the creative agency of its Maker has become a matter of profound interest.

So far as appears, theories on the philosophy of religion did not agitate the apostolic age. Christianity first spread among the humbler classes. They felt that they were sinful and miserable in the present life, and looked with dread and dismay to the dark passage of the grave and the destinies to follow. They were taught to "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ," and that thus they would become good and happy now and forever. This they understood to mean, not a mere intellectual conviction, but a practical faith, in which Christ was received as their supreme Lord and teacher by conforming their feelings and conduct to his teachings.

But, after a while, the philosophers and rulers became Christians, and then commenced the two grand evils: first, the theories of philosophy, and, next, the enforcing of these theories by pains and penalties. About A.D. 400 commenced the discussion of the theory under consideration. Pelagius, a learned and devout man of Great Britain, aided by his friend Celcius, promulgated the common-sense views on the nature of mind derived from reason and experience, mainly as set forth in this volume, and claimed that these views were sustained by the teachings of the Old and New Testament. He and his friend traveled and disseminated these views in Great Britain, France, Africa, Italy, and Palestine, over which Christianity to a great extent prevailed. The celebrated Augustine, a man of great goodness, talents, and learning, became their leading antagonist. He set forth the philosophical theories afterward adopted and taught by Calvin in the form which is now denominated the system of High Calvinism.

This system starts with the assumption (without proof) that the Creator could form mind on a more perfect model than that of our race, and that he proved it by forming the minds of angels and of our first parents on this pattern. But, as a penalty for one act of disobedience by them, first their own mental constitution was vitiated. Next, in the language of standard Calvinists, "Such as man was after the fall, such children did he beget; corruption, by the righteous judgment of God, being derived from Adam to his posterity, not by imitation, but by the propagation of a vicious nature. Wherefore all men are conceived in sin, and are born children of wrath; unfit for every good connected with salvation; prone to evil, dead in sins, and, without the Holy Spirit regenerating them, they neither will nor can return to God, amend their depraved nature, nor dispose themselves for its amendment."

Men being thus terribly incapacitated for right action, so that they have no power "to amend their depraved nature," nor even "to dispose themselves for its amendment," the whole race became liable not only to the pains and penalties of sin through this life, but to eternal and hopeless misery beyond the grave. Nor could any one of the race do a single thing to escape this doom, or to induce the Author of their Being to pity or help them. Instead of this, a certain portion of the race were "elected" by God to be restored to the state from which their first parents fell by "the Holy Spirit regenerating them," while all the rest were left to eternal torments, "to illustrate God's justice and hatred of sin!" Moreover, whoever was thus elected was sure to "persevere." These tenets are usually called the "five points of Calvinism," viz., original sintotal depravityelectionregeneration, and saints' perseverance.

Pelagius denied that there was any difference between the mental constitution of Adam and his descendants, or any other connection between his and their sins than always exists between the sins of children and those of their parents. Of course, the vitiated nature imparted directly or indirectly by God, and the tenets based on it, were denied by him.

At this period all matters of doctrine were settled by ecclesiastical councils. The first council on this matter was in Africa, and, led by Augustine, they condemned the views of Pelagius. The two next councils were in Palestine, and both sustained his teachings. Next, in Italy, the Pope, then at the early period of pontifical power, first sustained Pelagius, but finally, by the exertions of Augustine and his party, was led to condemn him with the greatest severity. Finally, the emperors were enlisted against him with their civil pains and penalties. The result was, Pelagius and his followers suffered the perils and miseries of civil and ecclesiastical persecution. "And thus," says the historian, "the Gauls, Britons, and Africans by their councils, and the emperors by their edicts, demolished this sect in its infancy, and suppressed it entirely."

It is very probable that, if Pelagius had had the power and adroitness of Augustine, the edicts of emperors and decrees of councils would have maintained his views, and those of Augustine would have gone into obscurity. But ever since that day the organized power of the Latin, Greek, and Protestant churches have been arrayed to sustain the theories thus inaugurated.

But the common sense and the moral nature of man have maintained a feeble but ceaseless warfare against the tenets of the Augustinian and Calvinistic creed, while now this "conflict of ages" is invigorated by the intervention of a new power. The authority of councils, popes, and emperors is on the wane, while the people are fast advancing to that position of umpires in the moral and religious world which they have gained in the political.

In this long and unequal struggle, the principal actors since the days of Pelagius have been, in the first place, Arminius at the time of the Reformation. While maintaining the foundation dogma of a depraved mental constitution consequent upon Adam's sin, he strove to give some slight feature of humanity and tenderness to the consequent system by maintaining that there was some way in which man, in spite of his ruined nature, could attain some right feeling and action acceptable to his Creator, and tending in some degree to remedy the dreadful calamity inflicted on the race.

The historian thus narrates:

"After the appointment of Arminius to the theological chair at Leyden (University), he thought it his duty to avow and vindicate the principles which he had embraced, and the freedom with which he published and defended them exposed him to the resentment of those that adhered to the theological system of Geneva (Calvinistic), which prevailed in Holland. The Arminian doctrines gained ground under the mild and favorable treatment of the magistrates of Holland, and were adopted by several persons of merit and distinction. The Calvinists appealed to a national synod. Accordingly, the Synod of Dort was convened (by the States-General), and was composed of ecclesiastical deputies from the United Provinces, as well as from the Reformed churches of England, Hessia, Bremen, Switzerland, and the Palatinate.

"It was first proposed to discuss the principal subjects in dispute, and that the Arminians should be allowed to state and vindicate the grounds on which their opinions were founded.

"But some difference arising as to the proper course of conducting the debate, the Arminians were excluded from the assembly, their case was tried in their absence, and they were pronounced guilty of pestilential errors, and condemned as corrupters of the true religion!

"In consequence of this decision, the Arminians were considered as enemies to their country and its established religion, and were much persecuted. They were treated with great severity, deprived of all their posts and employments, their ministers silenced, and their congregations suppressed. The great Barnevelt was beheaded, and the learned Grotius fled and took refuge in France."

Thus it is seen that, while Pelagius and his followers were wasted by persecution in the commencement of the Calvinistic system under Augustine, the attempt to soften its hard features by Arminius was put down by the same method.

But, in spite of all such opposition, Arminianism gained ground, and the Arminian and Calvinistic systems have existed side by side in most Protestant communions. In the Church of England, and formerly in the Methodist churches, these two parties have existed. So in the Presbyterian, Congregational, and Baptist churches, there has always been a division in reference to the tenets of Calvinism, some holding them strictly according to Augustine and Calvin, and others more or less modifying their sterner features by various theories and expositions.

The main point of difference between these two classes is in reference to that most disheartening and deplorable tenet of men's entire inability to "amend their depraved nature," or even to "dispose themselves for its amendment." The strict Calvinist maintains that the mind of man is so entirely ruined in its nature that no one but the Author of mind can rectify it, while he can in no way be moved to this act of mercy (justice?) by any thing the unrenewed creature can do. The Arminian sects hold that, though the "natural man" is utterly incapable of any acceptable moral action in himself, yet, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, he is endowed with "a gracious supernatural ability," by which he can accept the offers of salvation. This, it is supposed, is a statement that most Arminians would accept as expressing their views.

In our own country, the earliest leader of an attempt to modify the Calvinistic system was the celebrated metaphysician, Jonathan Edwards. While maintaining, as did Arminius, the foundation theory of an utterly depraved mental constitution of the race as a penalty for the first act of disobedience, he first labored to prove this penalty to be just, inasmuch as in some mysterious way the whole race existed in Adam, and sinned just as he did, thus becoming the authors of their own mental ruin and incapacity.

And inasmuch as our moral nature revolts from the infliction of penalties for not doing what there is no power to do, he originated a metaphysical theory to this effect: that, in spite of the injury resulting from this first sin of the whole race, there is full power and obligation in every human being to obey all that the laws of God demanded, but that man is unwilling instead of unable. This unwillingness is the result of that first sin of the race; and so great is its pertinacity, that no man ever did or ever will feel or act right in a single case, from the beginning to the end of life, until "regenerated by the Holy Spirit." Neither will they do any thing "to amend their depraved nature," or to "dispose themselves to its amendment;" nor will any man, before "regeneration by the Holy Spirit," do a single thing that has even any tendency to gain this Divine aid, but it is all dependent on "sovereign, unconditional election." Still worse, the more efforts an unrenewed man makes to love and obey God, the more wicked he grows, because he is voluntarily resisting increased light and obligation in refusing to regenerate himself, which, on this theory, he had full power to do.

As it respects God, this theory, indeed, relieves his character very essentially; but as to affording any comfort to man, it only adds a new thorn to wound sensitive consciences. For no man could possibly help feeling that when, according to High Calvinism, he had no power at all to do right, he was relieved from some portion of obligation, even if, six thousand years ago, he did join Adam in that sinful repast. But President Edwards and his followers took away this small alleviation, and put the whole blame entirely on the depraved and guilty creature, both for the ruin of the fall and the refusal to remedy the evil.

This attempt to prove that God does not require men to perform what they have no power to do, has been regarded as a most terrific heresy by the strict Calvinist, while for nearly a hundred years New England and the whole Presbyterian Church have been agitated by it. Again and again, some of the wisest and best of their clergy have been arraigned for this heresy, with the threatened or inflicted penalty of loss of character, profession, and daily bread for themselves and their families. Three times the author has seen a revered parent thus arraigned. And in these ecclesiastical trials, she has herself heard otherwise sensible persons maintaining that men were required by their Maker to do what they had no power of any kind to do, under the penalty of eternal damnation, and that it was a dangerous heresy to maintain that God did not thus require it.

Another attempt to modify the Augustinian dogma is found in the work entitled "The Conflict of Ages," by the Rev. Edward Beecher. The theory there presented was first started by the great and learned Origen in the third century, and has been advocated by individuals ever since. It assumes the entire and fatal depravity of the mental organization, but relieves the Creator of all blame by assuming that every human mind was created with a perfect mental organization, and placed in the most favorable circumstances possible in a pre-existent state; and yet the same sad results then occurred as our race are approaching, viz., the existence of two classes of minds, the holy and the sinful. Meantime this world was prepared as a merciful arrangement to afford a second probation to those who ruined themselves in the pre-existent state.

This theory entirely relieves the Creator of all blame, but gives no other help or comfort to the miserable race of man. It certainly is a comfort to feel that our Maker is not a being who ruins his creatures in the very process of creation, and then exposes them to eternal, hopeless misery as the consequence of it. But whoever believes this pre-existent theory takes the load of a guilty conscience for all he considers as wrong in his own mental constitution, and for all the dreadful consequences.

These several theories all were originated to escape from the inevitable deduction of reason, that God, as the author of a depraved constitution of mind, is himself depraved.

And yet neither of them avails but one of the two pre-existent theories, that makes man himself the author of this ruin of his own mind, either in Adam or before Adam, while neither of these is supported either by reason or revelation.

Moreover, neither of these theories could be established by revelation for want of means to prove a revelation to beings who find themselves endowed with miscreated minds, as has been shown on pages 287 and 288 of this volume.

Another effort to change the hard features of Calvinism was by the New Haven school of theologians. These gentlemen maintained that a holy nature and a sinful nature were not what could be created, inasmuch as all sin implies a knowledge of what a morally right choice is and power to make such a choice, while it consists not at all in a wrong nature or constitution, but solely in wrong voluntary action.

This is precisely what, as the author supposes, was the doctrine of Pelagius in opposition to that of Augustine, and for the propagation of which, popes, emperors, and councils drove Pelagius and his followers from their churches.

A similar penalty seemed for a while to await the New Haven innovators; for, as professors in a theological seminary connected with the most influential university in the nation, their doctrine on this subject occasioned a controversy that agitated all the New England as well as the Presbyterian churches.

At the same time, an earnest controversy was in progress with the Unitarian sect, which had adopted this tenet of Pelagius as a part of their creed. Of course, the charge, both of Pelagianism and Unitarianism, was rife all over the land against these innovators on the established creed of the churches.

To meet this, these gentlemen maintained that they had not essentially departed from the system of New England divinity as exhibited in the writings of President Edwards. Thus they had two labors to perform—the one to maintain the doctrine that sin consisted solely in wrong action and not at all in nature, and the other to show that in this they did not differ from Edwards.

In attempting the first, at one time and another, they have maintained that mankind since the fall are as truly created in God's image as Adam was; that the nature of man is still like the nature of God; that a corrupt, depraved, or unholy nature can not be affirmed of the human mind in any proper use of these terms.

The inquiry, then, must arise, in many minds that are familiar with the writings of President Edwards, how it is possible that men so intelligent and so honest should maintain that on this subject they had not departed from the system of New England divinity as exhibited by Edwards.

To the author this enigma is solved by the character of Edwards's writings, which, like those of many other metaphysicians who hold theories contrary to common sense, are contradictory and inconsistent. Thus it is seen that one class of very acute minds find in Edwards's Treatise on the Will the most complete exposition and defense of fatalism, and thus the author regards it. Another class, equally acute, claim this same essay as a full exposition and defense of the contrary doctrine of free agency.

The Augustinian theory of a totally depraved mind, transmitted through the Catholic Church to its reformed offsets, was received by Edwards. He perceived that if God was the cause of this depravity, he is the author of sin, and so he labored to prove that all mankind "sinned in Adam and fell with him," and thus caused their own depravity.

He perceived, too, that requiring men to originate holy acts with a totally depraved nature seemed to demand what they had no power to perform, and thus made God unjust. So he brought forth his Treatise on the Will to prove that man had a natural ability to obey God, and a moral inability; and so at once he established fatalism to one class of minds, and free agency to another.

Thus it is that the New Haven divines find language in Edwards that sustains their views, while their antagonists find as much, or more, that condemns them.

The ancient followers of Pelagius, the modern Unitarians, and the leaders of the New Haven school of divines, all hold exactly the position set forth in this work of the perfect organization of the human mind, while the only depravity maintained by them is that of voluntary action. At the same time, it is believed that but a very small portion of the younger clergy of any theological school in New England, or in a large portion of the Presbyterian churches, would openly avow a belief in the depraved mental constitution of man as created by God, either directly at or near birth, or indirectly by hereditary transmission.

It is interesting, yet sad, to trace the dominant influence of the Augustinian theory of a depraved mental constitution in originating most of the leading sects of the present Christian world.

Man being assumed to be thus miserably miscreated, and his sole hope being the gift of the Holy Ghost to recreate, the priesthood soon claimed to be the only medium through which this gift could pass; and having the eternal life and death of the soul in their hands, they speedily thus gained that domestic, civil, and religious power which made the papal hierarchy the most tremendous tyranny that earth ever witnessed.

The question of the transmission of this power through properly ordained persons was the chief feature of the Episcopal organization.

Most of the other large sects in this country are descended from the Puritans, who, as it appears, were the first to institute "a church" as consisting solely of persons who "profess" to be "regenerated" on the theory of the renewal of a misformed or depraved mind.

The Greek, Roman, Episcopal, Scotch, and European Protestants recognize no such organization, all being born into the Church; and this seems to have been the case in the first churches of the New Testament, where parents and their families, and all who joined their communities, were considered as constituting the Christian Church, whether "regenerated" or not.[4] So, in the Jewish Church, all who submitted to the initiatory rite were members, without respect to religious attainments in character. This new principle of organization, originating with the Puritans, is retained among most sects in this nation, and is the foundation of their separate organizations.

Thus the Baptists are separated on the question of the mode of administering the rite of admission to this Church.

The Presbyterians and Congregationalists separate on the question of appointing the officers of this organization.

The Methodists are an offset from the Episcopal Church, with reference chiefly to modes of bringing men into their Church.

All agree that it is "regenerate persons" alone who are fully members of this organization.

There are diversities of opinion as to the relation of baptized children to this body, but none allow them to be admitted to its distinctive ordinance except they profess to be "regenerated."

It is a matter for interesting conjecture as to the probable results on Christendom had the theory of Pelagius been established by pope, emperor, and councils instead of that of Augustine.

In that case we may suppose that the efforts and energies of the churches, instead of to these rites and forms, would have been mainly directed to the right training of the human mind in obedience to all the physical, domestic, social, and moral laws of the Creator.

Instead of instituting two standards of right and wrong, the "common" and the "evangelical," as is now so generally done, children would have been taught that all that was just, honorable, benevolent, and lovely in their feelings and conduct was as acceptable and right to God as it is to men. Their parents, instead of that sense of helpless inability resulting from the belief that their little ones could feel and do nothing but sin until new mental powers were given, and that the gift was bestowed by the rule of sovereign "election," would have felt that every successful effort to cultivate all lovely and right habits and feelings was advancing their offspring nearer to God and their heavenly home, and that, when their wisdom failed, the promise of "the Comforter" was given to encourage them in this great work.

Thus they would expect their children to become "new creatures in Christ Jesus" by the combined influence of the heavenly and earthly parents gradually transforming their ignorance and selfishness to knowledge and benevolence.

That the theory of Augustine, originally established in the Christian churches by pains and penalties, is still sustained there by such influences, is apparent from these facts.

Although there is a large amount of real virtue and piety that is not within the pale of any sectarian organization, yet the vast majority of conscientious persons are either enrolled in the Church, or intimately connected with it in principle and feeling. All this intellectual and moral power is organized into various denominations, each controlled and led by a number of highly-educated, conscientious, and religious men.

With these denominations are connected high positions in the pulpit, with great influence and liberal salaries; literary institutions, with posts of honor and competency; and theological seminaries that are the central ecclesiastical mainsprings of influence.

Then there are connected with each denomination large voluntary associations for benevolent purposes, with officers who control large pecuniary means. Finally, each sect has its quarterlies, monthlies, and its religious newspapers, whose editors are speaking every day to the minds of thousands and hundreds of thousands.

Now it is a fact that this vast array of wealth, position, influence, and ecclesiastical power is actually combined to sustain these theological theories. So much is this the case, that a minister, theological professor, president of a college, secretary of a benevolent society, or editor of a periodical or newspaper, could not openly deny this Augustinian tenet but under penalty of the loss of reputation, position, influence, and the income that sustains himself and family. Our largest and best theological seminaries demand an avowal of belief in this dogma as a condition of holding any professorship, and in some of them it must be renewed by all the professors every few years.

At the same time, this dogma of a depraved mental constitution transmitted from Adam is inwrought into all the standard works of theology, the sermons, the prayers, the sacred poetry, the popular literature, and even the Sunday-school and family literature of childhood.

The power of such influences is intensified by the present stringency of sectarian organization. By those who have marked the tendencies of the religious world, it will be remembered that, at the time the associations for religious benevolence began their great work, all sects seemed to be harmonizing and uniting in the efforts to send Bibles, tracts, and missionaries to the destitute. At this period, the questions that separated Christians in reference to modes of ordination, baptism, and church officers, seemed to disappear as matters of small moment among all whose great aim was to save the lost of every name and nation.

But, while this served to liberalize the feelings and opinions of good men in all sects, it soon became apparent to the leaders that, if these tendencies were not counteracted, the sects would all come together.

If this should happen, where would be all the great machinery that was supported by these several denominations for their distinctive aims?

Soon the tide turned, and, though now there is less sectarian bitterness, and most sects can allow each other to be Christians with different names and badges, yet each is active for its own separate interests more decidedly than ever. And now the leading concern of each denomination seems to be, to increase its own separate churches, schools, colleges, theological seminaries, religious periodicals, and benevolent associations, not because the salvation of the lost depends on these distinctive matters, but chiefly as modes of increasing the extentrespectability, and influence of their sect. In order to do this, the importance of the points which divide each from the other must be magnified; for if there is but a trifling difference between an Old School and New School Church, or a Baptist, Congregational, or a Presbyterian, then, in small places, and especially in our new settlements, all these would unite in one large, harmonious church, that could properly support all its own ordinances, and send of its surplus to supply the destitute. On the contrary, if these differences are magnified, there will be two, three, or four small churches, all contending with each other, poorly supporting their own ordinances, and, instead of helping the destitute, sending to other churches of their own sect for help.

Thus it is that we see vast sums raised every year to multiply these needless, weak, and militant churches all over the land. There are facts on this subject that should be deeply pondered.[5]

So in regard to education; although intelligence has diminished the acerbity of sectarianism, it has led to a higher appreciation of educational institutions as an element of sectarian influence and respectability. From this has come the struggle to multiply colleges and female seminaries in each of the several denominations. Each is now acting as a sect in starting new institutions all over the land, that demand immense investments for buildings, apparatus, and endowments, and this without reference to the actual wants of the community. For example, in Indiana, where the low state of common school education makes such institutions least patronized, there are eleven endowed institutions, with an aggregate income from these endowments of $14,000 per annum, besides tuition. In Ohio there are twenty-six colleges and professional schools, with an annual income from endowments of $25,000; and yet, as appears in the public prints, $100,000 has been subscribed in one city in this same state to start another college for the Old School Presbyterians, who are expected to raise as much more among that sect. Besides endowments to support teachers, vast sums are expended in buildings, some of which are standing unused for the purpose for which the money to build them was given. This is a fair specimen of what is transpiring in most of the other states in raising new institutions or increasing the funds of those already started. In this way, two, three, and four colleges are often found as competitors in a section that could properly patronize scarcely one.

After each sect has thus reared an institution, it must then struggle to find pupils, and thus multitudes of young boys, who are to go into future pursuits where such knowledge will be of little or no service, are pressed into a Latin and Greek course, which probably the larger portion of them forsake before it is completed, with little knowledge of ancient literature, and far less of their own mother tongue. The waste of educational benefactions in this way is little realized, while the effect of congregating the young in boarding-school life, away from home and parental influence, is most disastrous.

How can it be otherwise? To take the unformed youth at the most excitable period of the nervous system, at the point where temptations are strongest, and habits of self-control the weakest, away from mothers, sisters, and home influences; herd them promiscuously with good and bad; stimulate the brain to excess; end all the healthful domestic exercise, and what could be expected but just such wrecks of health, morals, home habits, and all that is good and pure, as is constantly going on in such institutions?

If parents could hear the details that have come from mothers and their young sons of the experiences of boarding-school and college life all over the land, especially in reference to that most contaminating and horrible literature and prints that no care can exclude, they would understand only a small part of the evils included in such institutions for the young.

Not only colleges, but female seminaries, and even private schools, are becoming more and more sectarian, as especially patronized by some one denomination, and relying on this for success.

All this sectarian influence in education is, in fact, operating to sustain the Augustinian theories by the pains and penalties that first enforced them; for no teacher of a school, or college, or female seminary could avow a dissent from theories so powerfully sustained, without subjecting himself, his institution, and his sect to attacks from other sects and institutions, as one mode of supplanting a rival.

It was this powerful array of antagonistic influences that for years withheld the author from any public expression of some of the views set forth in this work.

It has been stated in the introduction that, while teaching mental science, in connection with the Bible, to highly gifted minds, an octavo volume was printed, but not published, which embraced the leading features of this work. In that, the principles of reason and interpretation were not applied to the theories of a depraved mental constitution, which at that time were not, to her own mind, satisfactorily solved, but to theories on the character and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, where relief was first experienced by the writer.

On taking advice as to the publication of such a work, it became clear that it would probably result in such powerful theological influences as would end a connection with a public institution, and all labors as a teacher.

In obedience to the counsel of friends, it was concluded to go quietly on as an educator, and work out practically all that could be done without innovating on accepted opinions, and wait till time and circumstances should afford more maturity and completeness to the writer's own views; for it was soon perceived that no one ever objected to having children trained exactly according to the author's present views, provided nothing was said against the accepted theological theories. So faithfully has this method been pursued, that it is probable that there is not an individual with whom the writer has been associated as an educator, who will not, for the first time, learn her views on the Augustinian and Calvinistic theories from this work; while, even in her own family circle, though opinions have been expressed freely, all discussions on this subject have been avoided.

In pursuing the course of a practical educator, the first years were spent mainly in the intellectual department, at the period when the "higher branches" first began to enter as a part of female culture. Surrounded by some of the most gifted female minds in the country as both teachers and pupils, and all excited by the interest of pioneers in the effort to elevate the standard of female education, there resulted such an amount of intellectual activity and enthusiasm as has never been witnessed by the author before or since.

Ignorant of the laws of health, and unaware of any danger from excess, the result was such entire and irretrievable prostration of the nervous system as forbade forever any farther labor as a practical teacher.

Extensive journeyings to restore health among a widely-dispersed family connection led to frequent reunions with former pupils. Thence resulted a deep conviction of the necessity of training the domestic habits and tastes of young girls as had never yet been attempted, and of the extreme suffering and ill health consequent on the neglect of it as a part of school education. This led to two works on Domestic Economy, one of which was designed as a text-book for girls at school, and the other for their use after they became housekeepers.

Continued ill health, inducing frequent resort to health establishments, where invalids from all classes were congregated, increased the conviction that modes of education and other causes were fatally undermining national health, especially that of women. Thus originated a work on Health, and another on Physiology and Physical Training.

Incapacitated from labor as a teacher, the only field of effort to the author was in more general efforts to interest her own sex to enlarged and organized efforts to secure the proper training of woman for her distinctive duties, and also to provide employment for her in her appropriate profession.

Two small works addressed to American women on this subject were issued by her, and two organizations were the result: one conducted by ladies in Boston, and one by Governor Slade as General Agent of the Board of National Popular Education.

As both of these restricted their efforts mainly to providing employment for teachers already educated, the next attempt was to secure an organization to prepare woman for her distinctive duties on a more complete and comprehensive scale.

In this attempt, it was perceived that the other sex have always secured proper attention to any particular department of education by endowments to support highly-educated teachers to give their whole time to that object. Thus chemistry, agriculture, and the practical sciences are made honorable, and are insured as branches of liberal instruction. The question then arose, Why should not this method be taken to make woman's distinctive profession honorable, and to secure a proper training for it?

The business of a woman is divided into three as distinct departments as the liberal professions of law, medicine, and divinity for men, which are so honored and endowed. Nor are they less important or universal. For, in the first place, woman is to train the human mind at just that period when principles, tastes, and habits are most firmly fixed; next, she has the care of the human body all through its period of development, when the physical habits are formed, and also in periods of sickness for all ages. Lastly, she has charge of the whole circle of domestic economy, and of all the home interests of the family state. Educator, nurse, and housekeeper, these three departments are not less in importance than law, medicine, and divinity.

The leading feature, then, in this attempt was to secure an organization of American women, who should aim to establish model institutions for woman, that should prepare her thoroughly and properly for the three distinctive employments of her profession, by means of endowments to support highly-educated teachers for this express object. In all other female institutions, the training of the intellect has been the leading object; in these, the preparation of woman for her distinctive duties was to be the leading object.

To the common remark that the mothers must do this at home, it is replied, in the first place, that the mothers, to a great extent—as the general rule, having but few exceptions—are not qualified to do this; and, next, if they were, they have not the health, or they have not the time, or they have not the will to do so. When men wish to perfect and honor any profession, they provide endowments to sustain teachers of the highest order. Thus, for example, though it may be said that farmers can best train their sons for their own profession, still agricultural professorships in our colleges, and teachers sustained by endowments, are found to be indispensable to honor and raise that pursuit to a science and a profession.

While the young women of the nation see every thing else more honored and provided for than the very profession and future business of their lives, they will grow up to neglect and despise such duties.

The education of woman, to be what Heaven designed for the race, should unite the home training of the parents with the school training of the teacher. Instead of taking young girls from all domestic interests and pursuits, and turning all the energies of their nervous system into the intellectual department of the brain, there should be an equable and healthful training, at once, of the bodily powers, the social and domestic habits, the intellect, and the moral nature; and in effecting this, the parents and the teachers should work together harmoniously. It is in reference to this that the tendency of this age and country to conduct the education of the higher and middling classes in boarding-schools instead of at home is most disastrous. Boarding-schools should be the exceptions to meet the wants of a sparse population. Instead of this, the country sends its daughters to city boarding-schools, and the city sends to country boarding-schools, and so home education is becoming more and more neglected.

The consequences to the health, happiness, and moral interests of woman are more and more disastrous.

In reference to this, the efforts of the above association have been confined to establishing what it is hoped would become model institutions in the centres of influence of the states where they were located, in which the funds should not be spent in providing great buildings to take children away from all home influences and domestic pursuits, but rather in providing such teachers and influences as would have a direct bearing on the homes of the pupils, and aid the parents in cultivating home habitshome virtues, and home tastes and pursuits.

This brief history of the writer's efforts is given because its results will now be seen to form a part of the "history of the dogma" which is the subject of this section.

For, during the whole period of these efforts to promote the right training of the human mind by woman as the Heaven-appointed minister for this end, the influence of this dogma has been constantly forced on attention as the real antagonistic force. That is to say, the whole energies of the Christian Church, in its distinctive character, are organized to remedy the evil after the mind is educated wrong, while little is attempted by the powerful agency of organization to secure its right education. In proof of this, it will be seen that all the great benevolent organizations for which collections are enforced from the pulpit are for adults, with one only seeming exception. There is an organization to send Bibles, another to send tracts and colporteurs, another to send missionaries abroad, another to send home-missionaries, another for the sailor, another for the slaves, another to educate ministers, another to raise up colleges, another for temperance, and so on. All these have as their direct aim those who are educated wrong, and are to be redeemed from sinful habits. Not one has any direct reference to the formation of right habits in the daily training of every-day life.

The Sunday-school is the only seeming exception. But this is only a weekly exercise of an hour or two, in which every sect secures the training of its children in its own religious system, while this system, in most cases, is based on the Augustinian doctrine of the inability of children to feel or do a single right thing till they are "regenerated," while not only the teaching, but the Sunday libraries for children all enforce this dogma. The practical influence of this, though counteracted more or less by other influences, is fairly illustrated in the mental history of the author in the Introduction.

Thus the Christian Church has all its organizations to cure diseased and miseducated mind, and not a single one to prevent this ruin by its right training.

This being so, this effort to promote the neglected and yet great end of Christian effort has been looked on with indifference, or as a small concern to receive its mite, while all others are to receive their hundreds and thousands.

Moreover, the enterprise has been looked upon with jealousy by many whose attention has been called to it as a covert sectarian movement to promote the interests of that denomination with which some of its movers have been connected. Then, too, because it really has not favored any one sect, it has secured the special favor and sympathy of none. There has never been a time when its movers have not been made to understand that success in raising endowments would be certain if the anti-sectarian feature could be relinquished, and the enterprise could assume a sectarian banner.

The most influential clergy of the large sects are engaged in denominational enterprises, to found colleges or theological seminaries, or to establish book or newspaper agencies devoted to the interests of their sect. The great body of laymen who have wealth to bestow in large sums are more or less influenced by their clergymen, either as personal friends or as spiritual advisers. Especially is this true of the few benevolent ladies who have such independent means as to be able to furnish endowments.

And thus it has come to pass that this first attempt yet known to organize Christians as Christians, to train woman for her great work of forming the physical, social, domestic, and moral habits of childhood by methods deemed indispensable by man for his professions, is on the verge of failure, after four years of trial. And this is not owing to the fact that the motives, or the plan, or the conductors of it have been extensively distrusted, or in any particular disapproved. On the contrary, the leading clergymen of most of the Protestant sects have given their unqualified approval, while the Board of Managers embraces a large proportion of the most distinguished female educators and authoresses, with some of the most distinguished business men and financiers of our land. At the same time, the agents and educators who have performed for four years the details of the enterprise have secured the entire approval and confidence of the public as to their qualifications.

The real difficulty at the root of all is the indifference to the training of the habits of childhood, resulting from the long-established dogma of a misformed mind, whose propagated incapacity is not within the reach of educational training. Meantime, the chief energies of the Christian Church are now tending to the extending of sectarian organizations, based on peculiarities as to baptism, ordination, and church officers, which no intelligent person believes are either indispensable to salvation, or even so important as to be subjects of direct Divine commands.

It is this view of the subject that has at last brought the author to relinquish any farther practical educational efforts, and now to attempt whatever may be in her power in directing public attention to what seems to be one grand impediment in the Christian world to the right training and development of the human race.

In presenting this work to the special attention of the laity, the author does not intend to imply that theologians are not to take the lead in all discussions and investigations that are to guide and enlighten mankind in their special department.

The aim is rather to lessen the general impression that the whole matter is to be left exclusively to them; that it is a professional concern, in which a layman is to resign his own judgment as he does to his physician or lawyer. Instead of this, there are some reasons why the laity have superior advantages to the clergy in cases where long-accepted theological errors are to be eradicated.

In the first place, they are free from the strong influence of a system into which the mind has been educated. The power of a system over men who are trained to reason, and who reason on that subject which involves all the greatest interests of existence both for time and eternity, is most insidious and incalculable. To this is added the reverence, love, and veneration felt by pious persons for those great and good men who, like Augustine, Calvin, and Jonathan Edwards, have been the revered masters of theological systems for ages. Under these two influences, every new opinion is compared with a system, and when it is seen to be inconsistent with it, all the veneration attached, both to that and to its authors and advocates, stands opposed to any innovation.

The powerful influence of educational training, and of love and reverence to a revered parent, has taught the author to understand and sympathize with other minds similarly influenced.

From all such biasing influences the laity are far more free than their clerical guides.

Add to this the fact that the "pains and penalties" attached to all change in theological opinions have very little reach among the laity. Any layman, if he adopts new views, can quietly withdraw from one religious communion and join another more congenial, or remain unconnected with any, while no man can call him to an account. But men connected with parishes, colleges, and all educational institutions, are subject to the supervision of councils, presbyteries, synods, and many other organs of surveillance, making it indispensable that all changes should be known to the public. Thus profession, reputation, and daily bread become more or less involved.

And here it is but justice to express the author's convictions, which an extensive acquaintance with the clergy of various sects has induced, that there is not another body of men, of equal number and education, who are so free from personal considerations of this kind in forming and maintaining opinions.

The entrance on the clerical profession in this country involves the sacrifice of all hope of wealth and its advantages, and includes often poverty and a painful dependence on the vacillating favor of parishes; so that, to a man of talents and worldly ambition, the command to enter this profession is very nearly equivalent to that of the Great Master's, "Sell all that thou hast and give to the poor, and come and follow me."

But while allowing that, as a class, this profession is, most of all, free from biasing influences of the kind indicated, it can not but be allowed that they are subject to like temptations as other men, and that these considerations must have more influence with them than with the laity, who are exposed to little or nothing of this kind.

To this, add the fact that men in other professions are far more habituated to look at all questions in a practical relation, and to use the principles of common sense more than the principles of a system.

The writer has had frequent occasion to notice how the well-trained reasoners of other professions throw aside the theories and systems of theology, and settle down on the great practical truths of Christianity.

It has sometimes been a matter of wonder to perceive how little attention is often given by some of the most gifted and well-trained laity, even those that are devoutly religious, to questions deemed of paramount and absorbing interest by the clergy.

In presenting this work to public attention, the author is not animated with the expectation of any immediate or very striking results.

Long-established and time-honored opinions, especially when they are entwined with the sacred hopes and interests of religion, are changed only by slow and gradual transitions, and these, often, almost imperceptible.

It is the hope of the author to do something to promote at least a renewed discussion of these subjects, under more favorable auspices than have heretofore existed.

The circumstances that favor and indicate such a renewal are, in the first place, a gradual change that has been going on the last thirty years in the theological world as the result of discussions on these very subjects. Some of the most candid and acute minds that have been interested in such discussions have, more and more, been led to feel the difficulties involved in the accepted theory of Augustine; and though few have come to such clear convictions on the subject as to feel warranted in taking any public stand as innovators or reformers, many are ready to examine and discuss in a very different attitude of mind from what has ever before been so extensively experienced.

One striking indication of this change is the almost universal neglect of "indoctrinating preaching" among the younger clergy in those sects where, forty years ago, it was deemed indispensable to success to thus establish the "five points of Calvinism."

A still more important change is an increase in that practical preaching that urges on the consciences of men all their domestic, social, and moral duties, as constituting an essential part of religion, as truly as the affections toward God and the special duties owed to him.

An equal or greater change is apparent among the laity. The strong Calvinistic doctrines that used to be so reverently received are either simply tolerated or quietly rejected. This is particularly the case with mothers and teachers, both in the family and in the secular and Sunday schools. Thousands of practical, tender mothers utterly refuse to teach their little ones that a depraved nature has descended to them from Adam, and that they can never perform any thing that is right or pleasing to God till this nature is recreated; or, if they use such language, it is with explanations entirely un-Calvinistic.

Instead of this, they teach their offspring that they can please and obey their Heavenly Parent as truly and acceptably as they do their earthly parents; that when they have so learned to love and please Him (or to feel and act right) that it is their chief desire thus to do, they have a new life. This "new birth," they also teach, is the result of that aid from the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, which both parents and children so need that they can never succeed without it, and yet which is promised to all who earnestly desire it, and seek it by proper methods.

Multitudes of parents and teachers are pursuing this method in churches whose ministers would entirely revolt from the idea of denying the Augustinian theory or the system of Calvin resting upon it. Many are doing this, unconscious that they are taking a course that is contrary to the standards of their Church.

In conclusion, the author would ask attention to the chief points presented in this volume.

The main question is, are these principles of reason or common sense, and the rules for interpreting language here set forth, accepted as guides in deciding the great questions of life?

Next, are the deductions gained by their aid as to what can be learned without a direct revelation from the Creator accepted?

Lastly, is the Augustinian theory of a depraved mental constitution consequent on the sin of the first parents of the race, as tried by these principles, supported either by reason or the Bible; and, if not, should not all men renounce it, both theoretically and practically?

In answering this last, it is to be remembered that the question is not one of fact as to the depraved action of mind, but of the philosophy of this fact, or the cause of this wrong action. A man may not be able to form any satisfactory theory on this question, and be content, as the early Christians used to be, to remain without one. The repudiation of the Augustinian theory does not necessarily involve the adoption of any other, while it does remove insurmountable difficulties from just and generous minds in accepting the Bible as of Divine authority while encumbered with what seems so contrary both to the moral sense and the common sense of mankind.

It has been the privilege of the author all her life to be intimately associated, by family and other connections, with the ministers of religion in a variety of denominations—those intelligent, excellent, and pious men who, more than any other class, can understand that heavy burden of spirit connected with that awful subject, the eternal loss of the human soul.

Before closing, they will permit a few inquiries in reference to this subject. The almost universal cessation of "revivals" of religion, the diminished attendance of the masses on Sabbath worship, the decrease in the relative proportion of the ministry, the diminution of spirituality and the consequent laxness in the Church, the increase of skepticism and infidelity of various grades, the terrific rush of worldliness on all classes, as wealth, and luxury, and temptations of all kinds abound, are not all these signs of the times of fearful import, foreshadowing either some dreadful judgments, or the advent of some moral forces that are appropriate to such a crisis?

In this position of the moral world, is it to be supposed that theology alone, of all departments of science, has reached its culminating point, so that there is no possibility of improvement? Is there not manifestly needed far more powerful motives than any now wielded to stop the inrushing tide of worldliness? In former times, when revivals abounded, it was the principle of fear that was first appealed to with such wonderful results. But where now are such appeals made as once shook men's consciences with fears of "the wrath to come?"

If such preaching abounds in any quarter of our nation, where is it? In all her travels the writer finds it wanting, and the testimony of others is similar.

Here, now, is the great question: Could the ministry now preach the distinctive theories of Calvinism, and at the same time those awful views of the eternal loss of the soul, warranted by Scripture language, with any prospect of being sustained by the moral sentiments of the great body of benevolent and intelligent hearers? Would not some be driven to reckless worldliness, others to infidelity, others to Universalism, others to another style of preaching, till the remainder could scarcely maintain any preaching at all? Is not this perceived and felt by many ministers, and is not this one great reason why that terrible doctrine, on which the whole Gospel is based, is now so hidden or so slightly recognized in the pulpit ministrations?

And yet, to the writer, it seems that this very doctrine, so plain and awful in Holy Writ, could be so drawn forth by the light of reason alone as to furnish a power of motive now almost unwielded. It seems as if the terrible exhibitions of this volume in the chapters on Habit, and on the Wrong Action of Mind in a Future State, might be wrought out by a man of talent and eloquence so as to draw such audiences as once thronged around Whitfield, and with equal results. What, then, could be done with the added power of revelation, dissevered from obstructing theories?

When the writer looks back on her own mental history for the last thirty years, and feels how every step of her life, during the whole of that period, has been regulated by the overmastering pressure of this tremendous subject, and when she is sure that a conviction that no such awful dangers beset our race would bring her life on to just that level where so many Christians complain that they find themselves, the query will often arise whether ministers who say so little about the matter, and those professed Christians who act so little in consistence with it, really do believe it? And yet, when her own difficulties in expressing all that has been thought and felt are recalled, it is understood how others too may have been equally embarrassed and restrained.

In regard to the main topics of this work, is not every minister called to decide, practically, between these two theories?

The first is, that the great and leading aim of all Christian organization should be to train new-born minds aright, and that it is the special office of the ministry to influence the educators of the race to the right performance of this, their chief duty.

In doing this, it is to be assumed that the end for which we are made is "to glorify God" by obedience to those laws by which "the most happiness with the least evil" is to be secured to His vast eternal empire.

That, at the first birth of a child, it is "impossible, in the nature of things," for it to feel and act for the happiness of others till it has learned to know what gives pleasure and pain to self, and to understand that there are other beings who can thus enjoy and suffer; so that a child, by its very nature, is at first obliged to be selfish in the exercise of faculties which, in reference to the great whole, are perfect.

That the "second birth" is the sudden or the gradual entrance into a life in which the will of the Creator is to control the self-will of the creature; while, under the influence of love and gratitude to Him, and guided by "faith" in his teachings, living chiefly for the great commonwealth takes the place of living chiefly for self. For this, the supernatural aid of the Holy Spirit is promised to all who seek it; and, without this aid, success is hopeless. But the grand instrumentality is the right training of parents and teachers.

Then, in reference to that great change of character which wrongly-educated mind must pass in order to gain eternal life, there are three modes of expression in the Bible in regard to that, viz., "love to God," "faith in Jesus Christ," and "repentance."

According to all uses of these terms, in practical matters, love is nothing which does not include obedience or conformity of will and action to the being loved. Faith, or belief, is nothing unless it includes its fruits of obedience. Repentance is nothing unless it includes ceasing to do evil.

Obedience to the laws of God, physical, social, moral, and religious, is the grand, indispensable requisite. Now, when any person is so engaged in striving to obey all these laws that it is the first interest of the mind, then there is a "new heart;" and so great is the change from the life of self-indulgence and disobedience to one of such earnest desire and efforts to obey God, that it is properly expressed by the terms "born again" and "created anew."

The contrasted theory is, that the chief end of man is "to glorify God," without, perhaps, any very definite ideas of what this signifies; that our whole race comes into life with dwarfed and ruined moral powers, so that it is as impossible, before a "second birth," to feel and act right, as it is for a corrupt tree to bear good fruit, or a bitter fountain to send forth sweet waters; and that the great end of Christian organizations is to secure and administer certain appointed methods by which God re-creates these diseased minds. Thus all training, all instructions, all good habits, are nothing as having any fitness toward either preparing a child for eternal happiness, or inducing God to re-create its mind. For it is "unconditional election," and not any foreseen act, either of parent or child, that decides their eternal destiny.

Can any minister preach without assuming one of these two theories as the very foundation-principle of his ministrations? And is this matter any the less a practical one to all the laity?

During the period in which the author has been engaged as a practical laborer in the field of education, her chief earthly reliance has been on the counsel, sympathy, and co-operation of her own sex; and in closing a work especially dedicated to them, a few parting words may be permitted.

This work is offered, not as one of metaphysics and theology, to exercise the intellect alone. It presents the grand practical question of life to woman as the mother, the educator, the nurse, and the fountain of home sympathies for the race. It is the question over which every Christian mother ponders with aching heart as every new immortal is brought to her arms. It is the question where every Christian teacher stands in awe, as, gazing into the dark futurity over the dim ocean of eternity, each young mind is felt to be a voyager whose frail and solitary bark is soon to be launched. The Protestant mother or teacher, with the Bible in her hands, can not, as in the Catholic Church, throw off this tremendous responsibility on to her priest. She may go to her minister for aid, but at the last she must decide for herself what is that path which Jesus Christ decides to be right in guiding the lambs of His flock through such awful dangers.

Here, then, is the great practical question on which depends the life of the soul, and for ETERNITY! and every parent and every teacher must decide on which theory the young minds committed to their care shall be trained.

In contemplating the discussions that must ere long be renewed on these great topics, and in such forms as to involve, not theologians alone or chiefly, but the people, and especially the most intelligent of her own sex, the writer recalls with deep interest her early efforts as a pioneer in elevating the course of female education. Then she supposed herself the first, as she was among the first, to introduce such works as Butler's Analogy, Mental Philosophy, and a Mathematical course as a regular part of female education. And as she recalls the hundreds of bright, vigorous, and independent minds under her care thus trained to reason accurately, and now scattered as mothers and influential members of society in almost every state in the Union, and then remembers, too, how many institutions all over the land have for years pursued the same course, she can not but thankfully believe that the Almighty Teacher and Ruler was thus preparing her sex for these very responsibilities.

In relinquishing that educational enterprise which for years has absorbed her time and strength, while as yet it is so imperfectly understood and so little appreciated, she asks, with tender and grateful memories, the attention, not only of her dear former pupils, but of that multitude of noble and benevolent women who, at so many times and places, have afforded her their sympathy and aid, to what is still farther offered on this subject in the closing note.[6]

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