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only for the doctrine of Calvinistic predestination, but for the doctrines of condemnation for the sin of Adam, redemption by the vicarious sufferings of Christ, salvation by imputed righteousness, and justification by faith alone, nor even for the resurrection of the body, and a great day of judg. ment at the end of the world. Of these last two doctrines it should, however, be said that, though plainly denied by one writer, they seem to receive a qualified admission from another, his admission being qualified by the expression of a doubt as to whether the world is to have an end.
But the doctrinal teaching of these sermons is not merely negative. The keynote of their whole positive teaching is, that God is Love, and that He deals with His creatures as a father with his children. The Fatherhood of God is the great truth brought to light by the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. Previous revelations taught this less clearly only because mankind were less prepared to receive it. But whatever God has revealed to and required of His creatures has been solely with a view to promote their welfare and secure their happiness.
It is no more than might have been expected that so great a rebound from the old Calvinistic dogmas would carry some of these teachers of the “New Theology” too far on the other side. They deny, for instance, the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures. It is not indeed surprising that those who have no canon by which to distinguish between the books of the Bible which are plenarily inspired and those which are not, and who are unable to see the difference between genuine and apparent truth in the letter of the Word, and have no knowledge of the spiritual sense which the books of the Word contain, should maintain that in the Scriptures there is a human as well as a Divine element, and that the human element may be eliminated when it is found to conflict with reason or science. Thus it is argued: Science has disproved the literal truth of the Mosaic account of creation; therefore this is to be regarded as a human composition, and not the Word of God. The antiquity of man is now proved to extend far beyond the time assigned to his creation by Bible chronology; therefore the Adam and Eve of Genesis cannot have been the first parents of the human
Science and history show that the life of the race has been one of unbroken upward progression; therefore the Mosaic account of the Fall is to be set aside. So far is the elimination of “the human element” carried that the miracles are to be eliminated from the New Testament, because, besides other reasons, science has demonstrated that the laws of the universe are fixed and unalterable. It may be right to mention that the views set forth by one writer do not seem to be invariably held by all
. Like the authors of the once celebrated Essays and Reviews, each may be answerable only for the ideas contained in his own production, although this is not so stated in the preface. With some of these objections to the literal accuracy of certain portions of Scripture the New Churchman will agree. But as he believes, with one of these writers, that the Scriptures were not given to teach men science, nor even, we may add, history,
but spiritual truth, he believes that spiritual truth, as it proceeded from the mind of God into the minds of men, clothed itself at times in the forms of science and history, the removal of which discloses the spiritual meaning which they cover and conceal. The robe of science and history with which spiritual truth is invested, must have been woven, so to speak, of the science and history of the times in which, and of the people to whom, the revelation was made, otherwise it would have been unintelligible to them; and the literal sense expressed all that was adequate to their capacity and suited to their state. The first chapter of Genesis served to teach men that God is the Creator of the world ; and even men of more advanced science have
learned from it that He is the Creator of all worlds—not only of the earth and the sun and the moon, but of “the stars also.” But the spiritual sense which the first chapter of Genesis contains treats of spiritual creation, the creation of the primeval Church, specifically of the spiritual creation of primeval man, and, generally, of the creation, or recreation, of all men who suffer themselves to be formed into the image and likeness of God. The principle of spiritual interpretation is well exemplified, in regard to another subject, in one of the sermons in the volume before us.
The author says: “Even in quarters where there is no sympathy for any attempt to explain away the miracles of Jesus, there is often a strong tendency to use them as symbols and parables of the spiritual infirmities of humanity and of the cure of such infirmities by the Gospel. In the preaching which dwells upon the Saviour and the sinner's need of Him, the leper symbolizes the sinpolluted soul, which no water of earth's culture can cleanse; the blind man at the gate of Jericho is a figure of those whose eyes have never opened to the Gospel; the dead whom Christ raised up stands for the worldling, in whom true life has never been suffered to awake; the demoniac is the man whose passions no restraint can overcome. Most beautiful, most richly fraught with deep and tender wisdom, is this symbolical view of the healings of Christ, which finds in the words and actions accompanying these cures indications of the modes of operation of the Great Physician of the soul.”
But while the Lord's miracles teach these beautiful lessons of deep and tender wisdom, they are not to be regarded as being put forth as evidences of the truth of His doctrine.
“To make belief in Christ depend, in any degree, on the fact that He wrought miracles is to build upon the sand. It is to go back to the old Jewish belief of Nicodemus, and to incur the implied rebuke in the Lord's answer to him. For by no act of power, be it ever so great, can we prove a spiritual truth. . . . When we argue that the New Testament miracles prove the Divine origin of Christianity, we are going on the assumption that the possession of power over nature is the constant index of spiritual truth and wisdom-an assumption demanded by no necessity of thought, and contradicted by everyday of men's actions, an assumption, moreover, at variance with the teaching of Scripture itself, that a sign may be given and yet the message be false. The miracles of our Lord, in displaying the moral basis of the whole creation, help us to realize more vividly the fulness of His revelation of God, to feel that we dwell in our Father's house, and with devout hearts to read, as expressed in material forms, the parables with which we are surrounded.”
This is sound reasoning; but it is right to mention that the writer seems to adopt it in order to get rid of the miracles altogether, as being a hindrance rather than a support to the teaching of the Gospel from the New Testament. It is unnecessary to enter into his arguments; but he grounds his objection to the miracles—besides the immutability of Nature's laws-on two considerations : that all religions connect their beginning with miracles; and that the Gospels having, according to modern criticism, been written not earlier than the second century, the love of the marvellous had, in the interim, gathered around the simple facts of the Saviour's life the miraculous acts ascribed to Him, which are therefore to be regarded as poetry, but not as literal facts. This and the other points we have mentioned are effects and evidences of the licence which almost invariably hangs on the skirts of liberty. We trust this may not augur for Scotland what has befallen the scene of Calvin's own operations, where Calvinism has so completely run to seed that it has ended in the rankest rationalism,
Although these discourses are to some extent argumentative, as setting forth the new theology in opposition to the old, there is a strong insistence on the good of religion as opposed to mere faith and piety. Personal, not imputed, righteousness is one of the cardinal points insisted on.
Modern theologians, it is said, “ decline to believe that there is inveracity in the Divine dealings with man, or that God can count men righteous on any other ground than that of the sincerity of their repentance, and the reality of their endeavours after a new obedience. Christ, they hold, has died that men might then die with Him, and live again. Thescholastic notion, how
that His sufferings constituted the exact arithmetical equivalent of the penalties incurred by the elect for their sins, they reject as formal, unreal, unverifiable.” Righteousness, it is repeatedly maintained, is blessedness. “The kingdom of God is within you,” is one of the truths of the Gospel that is emphatically taught. On this subject we quote from a sermon by the Very Rev. Dr. Caird, Principal of Glasgow University, better known to English readers as the author of the “Queen's Sermon on the Religion of Common Life," which made so great a sensation and made so favourable an impression some twenty years ago. He says :
“For the heaven we seek we need not fly away on the wings of imagination to seek some unknown region of celestial enjoyment where we shall summer high in bliss heedless of mankind—where, lost in seraphic contemplation, steeped in voluptuous spiritual enjoyment, we shall forget or be unaffected by the good or evil of the world we have left. The materials of our heaven, the elements of that glorious future in which we hope one day to share, are present here, within and around us, in our hands and in our mouths. The Divine and Eternal are ever near us. God does not dwell in some far-off point of space ; He is not more present anywhere else than on this earth of ours, nor could any local transition or physical transformation bring Him nearer. God is here, above, beneath, and around us; and the only change that is needed to bring us to the beatific vision of His presence is the quickening and clarifying of human souls. Purify and ennoble these, let pure light fill the minds and pure love the hearts of men, and heaven would be here, the common air and skies would become replenished with Divine glory. The eternal world is not a world beyond time and the grave. It embraces time: it is ready to realize itself under all the forms of temporal things. Its light and power are latent everywhere, waiting for human souls to welcome it, ready to break through the transparent veil of earthly things, and to suffuse with its ineffable radiance the common life of man. And so the supreme aim of Christian endeavour is not to look away to an inconceivable heaven beyond the skies, and to spend our life in preparing for it, but it is to realize that latent heaven, those possibilities of spiritual good, that undeveloped kingdom of righteousness and love, which human nature and human society contain.”
Another writer, in a sermon entitled “Homespun Religion," has these excellent remarks :
“I know nothing which has exercised amore pernicious influence on religion than the unhappy divorce which has been effected between religious duty and the everyday duties of life. When a mother is faithfully tending her children, and making her hearthstone clean and her fire burn bright, that everything may smile a welcome to her weary husband when he returns from his work, it is never dreamt that she is religiously employed. When a man works hard during the day, and returns to his family in the evening to make them all happy by his placid temper and quiet jokes and dandlings on his knee, the world does not think-perhaps he does not think himself—that there is religion in anything so common as this. Religion is supposed to stand aloof from such
familiar scenes. But to attend church, to take the sacrament, to sing a psalm, to say a prayer, is religion. Now God help this poor sinful world f religion consists only in these things and not in the other. We have devotional feelings, and by all means let us give them exercise and utterance; but have we not other feelings and duties as certainly as these assigned to us by Heaven? Why should we count the one religious and not also the other? Is religion to be shut up in the church, and not allowed to visit the house? Is she to attend us only when we sit at the communion-table, and not also when we stand at our counter or sit at our desk? Why should we not think that everything we do is done religiously if it be done well ?"
In reading this volume of sermons we have been struck with the fact, which we noticed in speaking of a similar case some time since, that while the old doctrine of the atonement is entirely rejected, no positive view of the subject is presented. There is nothing answering or approaching to the New Church doctrine of the Lord's glorification, nor of the subjugation of the powers of hell. The statement that Christ died that we might die, involves, indeed, the true doctrine, but for those who have been accustomed to think in the old grooves something more ample than this is required. But what we miss in this large work we find in a small publication, also from over the Border. The Scottish Baptist Magazine (Paisley : Parlane) for July has an article on Redemption and Salvation, by a layman, in which the positive side of the doctrine is very clearly shown. Although we desiderate this in the sermons, we have reason to be thankful for what the volume does contain. It affords clear evidence that the promise of a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness is being realized. We hope the present volume will meet with a reception sufficiently favourable to secure the publication of another, which the preface promises on this condition.
SERMONIC FANCYWORK ON THE FIGURES OF OUR FIRST ACQUAINTANOB
IN LITERATURE. By JOHN PAUL RITCHIE. London: Whittingham.
1880. THE “Figures of our First Acquaintance in Literature” are nursery rhymes, and on these as texts the sermonic fancywork is woven, in which the author seeks to instruct by pleasing children of a larger growth. Sermons are human, and we do not object to the sermonic form, but Scripture is Divine, and we do not like to see it lightly used. Taking exception to one or two instances in which, without any intentional irreverence, the words of Scripture are rather freely handled, the sermons are clever and instructive. To give an idea of the nature of these discourses we may take one of the subjects. “There is," says the author, “a
world of meaning in such memorable stories as that of Beauty and the Beast. They are embodiments of man's first impressions of the underlying principles of human weal, before they have become defined in doctrine-dim, figurative, airy forecasts of faith, as yet unfit to speak or spell itself except in pictorial imagery. The antiquity of their origin is unquestionable. They are found in many different forms, in many different languages, and seem to have travelled westward with the Aryan race from the cradle of the world's transition in the East.” First, we may regard the Beast as representing the Spirit of Industry in bondage to a state of degradation. Everywhere we see the Spirit of Industry groaning and travailing under beastly circumstances and conditions of life. How is its deliverance to be effected ? There can be no deliverance for it until the soul of Beauty recognises its inherent worth and royalty, and consents to be united to it in the bonds of perfect sympathy and love. Secondly, the way of the human soul's deliverance from the bondage of iniquity is indicated by the parable of Beauty and the Beast. The morally degraded soul must see Divine Beauty before it can receive an impulse to rise out of its degradation. And so Divine Beauty must condescend to enter into fellowship with fallen humanity, even when it has sunk to the level of brutality, in order to effect its restoration to its Maker's image. Thirdly, the parable of Beauty and the Beast may be regarded as setting forth the Divine necessity of union between Strength and Beauty. With this meagre outline, as a sample of the author's mode of treatment, by which he brings out the moral of the fable, or puts a moral into it, we proceed to give some quotations, which almost lead us to think that he has some acquaintance with a literature younger, yet containing a symbolism older and a wisdom deeper, than the Nursery Rhymes.
“There is a continuous correspondence between the life of nature and the life of man. Our inward condition is reflected in our outward circumstances and surroundings. Coleridge's Ancient Mariner was aware of slimy things within his soul.
' And sliny things did crawl with legs
Over the slimy sea. All hateful and hurtful creatures are the visible embodiments of hateful and hurtful elements of human life. The presence of wild beasts is an evidence of human savagery; the presence of foul creeping things is an evidence of human filthiness and degradation. When man ceases to raven, the ravenous beasts will disappear; when he attains to purity of life, no unclean vermin will molest him. When the nations walk in the light of the Sun of Righteousness, “the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.' On the way of holiness there is no ground for fear; for (no lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there.'
“To all fresh human hearts there is an abiding attraction in the heights. The material heights are symbols of the heights of spiritual attainment -the heights of wisdom, faith, and love. All the highest satisfactions of the soul have their habitation in the celestial heights. Man must climb in order to secure the chief things of the ancient mountains, and the precious things of the lasting hills.””
One other extract :
“Death seems terrible to many because they think of it as an entrance upon a dreadful ‘something after death. But death itself has no connection with that something. The judgment after death can be no other than that which is being passed upon us here, from day to day. Death can take us to no other heaven or hell than that in which we have our conversation here. The 'something after death' must simply be the sum of all our doings here, therefore life does not keep us from that something; for it is here. “We still have judgment here.' And it is absurd to fear in connection with death what we do not fear in connection with life. The fear of judgment ought to be a living, not a dying fear. The awful thing is life, not death. If we are not afraid of the issues of life, we need not be afraid of the issues of death."
SWEDENBORG AND THE NEW CHURCH. By JAMES REID, Pastor of the
Boston Society of the New Jerusalem. London : Trübner & Co. 1880. OF several works on this theme now in circulation two have been produced by our American brethren. Parsons' “ Outlines” are now followed by Reid's“ Lectures.” Both works are excellent of their kind, and are as well