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Our author goes into a tedious and incoherent account of the periods and manner in which the different portions of the carth were settled. America was peopled from Asia, just nine thousand years ago. P. 362. But before this, a colony from Yucatan had settled at Herculaneum; and the inhabitants of Pompeii had peopled Brazil. P. 355. In the following century, Egypt was settled; and from Egypt sprang Jerusalem, Jericho and Greece. P. 357.
The history of the Bible, or of the first part of it, so far as writing and translations are concerned, is thus given. The “traditional demonological impressions" of the ancients, in other words, their sacred legends, were first written in "the Sanscrit language." They were then "translated by some Germanic tribes into Greek." After this, they "fell into the possession of the Jews; were compiled and transcribed into Hebrew; and were carried by a detached portion of the tribe into the Persianic kingdom, where they remained for several centuries, until Zoroaster finally systematized the crude theology of the original manuscripts." After a long time, "the Jews re-transcribed the contents of these manuscripts into their own language, and carried the same home with them, at the expiration of their bondage. Then the Greek received it from the Hebrew, the Latin from the Greek, and the English from the Latin." P. 390.
We may gather from this statement the degree of authority to which our present English Bible, or that portion of it here referred to, is entitled. It is as much as the seventh or eighth translation from certain old "demonological impressions," or traditions, which were floating about among the original inhabitants of the world.
We have said already, that Davis puts the Bible on the same footing with the other ancient mythologies; denying positively that any portion of it is a revelation from God. He declares against all miracles, and all prophesy; except the foretelling of such events as are indicated by the known laws of nature. Indeed, supernatural, he affirms, is a word "without the least sig nification."
Our author teaches that Moses, who wrote the last four books of the Pentateuch, though not the first, was not only a dupe, but also a deceiver. He thought that he received some of his laws from God, and to give them the greater weight with the people, pretended that this was the case with them all. It was his fre
quent practice to mesmerize Joshua, from whose dreams and visions he received some information.
Davis denies the miraculous conception, the resurrection, and ascension of Christ. He thinks him, on the whole, a distinguished reformer; though he was unfortunate in his biographers, and sometimes, also, in his expressions. "For it is plain," says our author, "to every philanthropic, benevolent mind, that the mental constitution of that person must be impure indeed, who could look abroad upon the face of creation, and mark the weakness of err ing humanity, and then say to his own brethren: Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Surely, a more unrighteous sentence could not proceed from an ignorant devotee of Juggernaut!" P. 517.
Davis has revived the absurd old infidel story about the present books of the Bible being voted in by the councils of Laodicea and Nice; although he has made some strange additions to the tale. The latter council, he says, consisted of two thousand and forty-eight "ferocious and exasperated bishops." They became so outrageous, that seventeen hundred and thirty of them were disfranchised by Constantine, and turned out of doors. The books of the Bible were sanctioned only by those who remained.
In fine, Mr. Davis affirms, that the Bible "does not present one proper conception" of God, "nor does it do justice to his works," "nor does it teach that holy virtue which should receive the name of religion." "It has obstructed the progress of spiritual and physical development," and "darkened the pathway which was once illumined by the spiritual promptings of mankind." As a book of theology," it should not be read."
In further characterizing the work before us, we remark, first, that it is one, not merely of infidelity so far as the Bible is concerned, but of downright atheism. To be sure, the author speaks not unfrequently of "a supreme Mind," "a Divine Mind," "a great positive Mind ;" but he believes in no God but nature. This God is not a person, but a personification—a mere figure of speech;a personification of the powers and laws of nature, issuing forth from what he terms the "great Vortex," - from the depths of that "undefinable and unimaginable ocean of liquid fire," which, with him, is the origin of all things.
Again; the book before us is materialism. As the original of all things was matter, so every thing proceeding from it is matter
also. This conclusion is openly and continually avowed. "Matter and Spirit," the author says, "have heretofore been supposed to constitute two distinct and independent substances, the latter not having any material origin;" but this opinion he undertakes to disprove. "I would have all understand that I consider (because I perceive) that all things, whether tangible or intangible, are material." P. 641.
We wonder that the author had not sense enough left him even in his dreamy state, to be aware of some of the difficulties of the above theory. When did the process of development commence ? and why did it not commence sooner? Why did the great ocean of liquid fire continue to boil, and steam, and rage, and roar, through eternal ages, and yet accomplish nothing? And why did it begin its progressions precisely when it did? The next time that the "Poughkeepsie seer" goes into the other world, we hope he will carry these questions with him, and not return without a satisfactory answer.
It may be remarked again, that the author of this book, like all the old materialists and atheists, is a fatalist, in the worst sense of the term. "It is impossible," he says, " for any rational mind to conceive of such a thing as free will." Nor does he shrink from carrying out his doctrine to the annihilation of all moral distinctions, the distinctions between sin and holiness, right and wrong. He says expressly :-" Sin, in the common acceptation of that term, does not really exist; but what is called sin is merely a misdirection of man's physical and spiritual powers, which generates unhappy consequences. P. 521. The Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, were but "misdirected brethren, whose condition of mind was not caused by themselves, but by inferior and unpropitious circumstances. P. 517.
The account here given as to the origin of evil lies at the foundation of Mr. Davis's whole moral theory. Existing evils are the result of unfavorable circumstances. The remedy for them lies, therefore, in a change of circumstances; and the change required, in order to renovate all things, and introduce a grand millenium, is simply to organize the whole human race into the requisite number of Fourier associations. Our author has much to say of "that great and noble reformer, Charles Fourier, whose capacity of soul, and extent of revelation, have not as yet been perceived by mankind."
Next to Fourier, Davis seems to have the greatest veneration for Swedenborg. "I am much drawn," says he, "to the pure, gigantic, and powerfully intellectual spirit of Swedenborg." He had much intercourse with Swedenborg in the other world, received impressions from him, and even went so far as to write him a letter. The Swedenborgians, at first expected to make no little capital out of the revelations of Davis. But he has sadly disappointed them. He contradicts Swedenborg on the most essential points, and decides positively, that his disclosures are of no "practical utility to the disordered world, at the present time. The fact that they are not capable of being comprehended is, at least presumptive evidence that they are not such truths as are at present required to benefit the social world." "Of what possible use can any revelation be, that can neither be understood nor applied?" Pp. 589, 591.
The question has doubtless arisen, in the minds of our readers, how are the revelations of Davis to be accounted for? With whom did they originate? We have no hesitation in answering, that they originated with some evil spirit, or evil spirits. But whether with evil spirits in this world, or the other, or both, we are not much concerned to inquire. We have shown already, that the spirit which suggested this book is an infidel and atheistic spirit. We may say further, that it is a grossly ignorant, blundering and inconsistent spirit. There is great parade of learning in the book throughout; and yet it bears the most indubitable marks of consummate ignorance. If the revealing spirit does not know more of the other world than he does of this, he is not much to be trusted.
After all that he has to say about the Bible, he is grossly and inexcusably ignorant of its contents. Witness the assertions, that Christ's enemies" perforated his body with their spears, that his sufferings might be increased ;" and that the apostles, "in all their writings, have not once intimated that the miracles of Christ were designed as a confirmation of his mission." Pp. 507, 520. Witness also the assertions, that the apostle "John was born, and resided the greater portion of his life, at Ephesus;" and that "Matthew was not an eye-witness of the miracles of Christ, because he was an officer under the Roman government until long after the death This letter is published and largely commented on by Professor Bush, in his work, entitled, "Mesmer and Swedenborg." Pp. 175-218.
of Jesus, and did not become an apostle until he was greatly advanced in life." P. 509. He further insists, that Matthew's account of the death of Herod, while Jesus and his parents were in Egypt, cannot be correct; since Luke represents Herod as still alive, during our Saviour's public ministry, some thirty years afterwards. The poor creature seems not to have known, that the second Herod spoken of was a different person from the first.
Our author has much to say about Mahomet's miracles. His very life was " clothed with miracles ;"-an assertion, which will sound very strange in the ears of Mussulmans, as their prophet made no such pretensions. He tells us that " Homer speak extensively of Hesiod," of whom, in fact, he says nothing.
But it is needless to follow this erratic blunderer any further. We have labored through his tedious book, that our readers might have a just opinion of its contents, without paying for it by the same toil; it is to be regarded as one of the multiform ebullitions of the infidel and atheistical spirit of the times. It is a vain and flimsy attempt to give currency to atheism, by arraying it in the garb of mystery; and to cry down all revelation by setting up a counter-revelation. But while that Bible, which this book maligns and discards, shall continue as ever, glowing with truth, and growing in influence, this contemptible effusion is destined to follow its wretched predecessors, becoming more and more neglected and despised, till its memory rots, and it is forgotten.
OBSERVATIONS ON MEN, BOOKS AND THINGS.
TO PASTORS OF CHURCHES. Ministers of the gospel are supplied with this work at less than its cost. This is done from a desire to favor a class, which is obliged to furnish itself with periodicals more largely than it can usually afford. We wish also to secure their aid, so much more effectual to benefit others than themselves; and to do this we would respectfully suggest one important consideration. There is a general complaint, that, for some years past, the power of religious truth has not been felt as it used to be. Among other causes which have helped to produce the prevailing indifference to religion, great prominence must be ascribed to the sudden and overwhelming flood of cheap literature, cheap as to price; but costly and wasteful as to time, sound principles, and health of mind and heart. The vast amount and universal diffusion of this description of reading must have a powerful effect. Most of it is decidedly hostile to salutary