The Natural Theology Of Social Science -- By: John Bascom

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 026:104 (Oct 1869)
Article: The Natural Theology Of Social Science
Author: John Bascom


The Natural Theology Of Social Science

Rev. John Bascom

No. VII.

Man’s Intellectual Constitution, And The Growth Of Society

Liberty is the central and peculiar power of man. By it he is cut off from all other things and forces, and put over against them. New and great powers are indeed necessary to give play and completion to this power; but it is liberty, a free will, which is the citadel of manhood, affording under the assaults of physical forces a sufficient retreat to a spiritual personality. The possession of this power divorces man from the rule of the material world. Whatever may be the current of events flowing on here, however far back they may have originated, or irresistible may be their sweep in the present, they flow not over him, save by submission and defeat. Liberty absolves man from the government of physical forces; it reserves him for a higher field, and therein gives promise of new relations, new dependencies. Though standing on the boundary of a nobler realm, it is easy for man, by the false and abortive exercise of his new faculties, to sink to the lower plane, and become practically a slave of

the physical conditions of life, though these, while affording a form of activity, limits, and bounds of liberty, have no necessary and indefeasible hold upon him.

A second power so closely united to freedom as to make this worthless without it, and the possibility of its very existence problematical, is conscience. Herein is given a new law to the new power removed from the reign of necessary forces. Those who accept the one faculty easily accept the other; as, on the one hand, the new power calls for its own its peculiar law, and this peculiar law, on the other hand, can find no opportunity of application without freedom. In the very constitution, then, of man, we have faculties which give promise of a new service, and fit him for a fresh set of relations. These relations, it is evident, must have a permanence and scope proportioned to the powers whose presence they recognize and whose development they promote. Direct, limited, and transient physical effects may be, as they are, simply and satisfactorily reached by physical forces and instinctive action; by the play of appetites and that appearance of reasoning arising by an act of memory in the association of ideas. If man were developed out of and into a material universe, he, like the lower forms of life, might easily and justly be woven into its strict government; ho might by a few directly efficient or instinctively applied influences be wholly brought under its restricted and close-bound physical connections. For such ends and relations a moral nature would be a superfluity, an impertinence, and those who bel...

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