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Title: Studies of Christianity - or, Timely Thoughts for Religious Thinkers
Author: Martineau, James
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Studies of Christianity - or, Timely Thoughts for Religious Thinkers" ***

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  DISTINCTIVE TYPES OF CHRISTIANITY                           1



  MEDIATORIAL RELIGION                                      147

  FIVE POINTS OF CHRISTIAN FAITH                            177


  THE CREED OF CHRISTENDOM                                  266

  THE ETHICS OF CHRISTENDOM                                 299

  THE RESTORATION OF BELIEF                                 356

  ONE GOSPEL IN MANY DIALECTS                               399

  ST. PAUL AND HIS MODERN STUDENTS                          414

  SIN: WHAT IT IS, WHAT IT IS NOT                           466






The American Unitarian Association in 1835 reprinted from the English
edition, among their Tracts, a Sermon on "The Existing State of Theology
as an Intellectual Pursuit and of Religion, as a Moral Influence." Its
rare merits elicited great praise. Its author was the Rev. James
Martineau, then a settled minister in Liverpool. Since that time, his
occasional publications from year to year have been winning a wider
audience, and awakening a deeper admiration. The history of his mind has
been a broadening track of light. And now the Association feel that they
cannot do a greater favor to the reading public, or better aid that
cause of Liberal Christianity whose servants they are, than by printing
a collection of the later writings of this gifted man, whom they first
introduced to American Unitarians a quarter of a century ago.

The list of works prefixed to the article here entitled "Distinctive
Types of Christianity," as it appeared in the Westminster Review, and
the opening sentence referring to them, have been accidentally omitted.
Two or three of the papers belong to the author's earlier years, but are
inserted here equally on account of their eminent ability, their
special timeliness, and their striking adaptation to the general purpose
of the work; namely, to throw light on the true nature of Christianity.
They will also be new to most of those whom they now reach. The last
paper in the volume is one of the first its writer published, in his
comparative youth. We shall be disappointed if the benignant wisdom and
moral fidelity of its catholic lessons do not secure a sympathetic
response in many a quarter once closed against such appeals.

In selecting from Mr. Martineau's numerous invaluable articles, not
already published in book-form, the contents of the present work, the
rule has not been so much to choose the ablest productions, as to take
those best fitted to meet the wants of the time, by diffusing among
ministers, students of divinity, and the cultivated laity a knowledge
of the most advanced theological and religious thought yet attained.
We regret that the necessary limits of the volume exclude several of
the author's most instructive and inspiring essays; particularly the
magnificent one in the National Review upon "Newman, Coleridge, and
Carlyle"; also the one upon "Lessing as a Theologian."

We have called this volume "Studies of Christianity," simply as a
convenient indication of the general character of its contents. In
justice to the author, it should be borne in mind that the separate
papers were prepared to meet various occasions, without a suspicion that
they would ever be brought together to form a book. Of course they do
not express his complete views of the mighty subject which they
fragmentarily treat. The relative order and rank of his convictions, the
interpretation of Christianity from its inner side, appear much better
in his "Endeavors after the Christian Life,"--by far the richest and
noblest series of sermons in the English language. Still, a kind of
unity pervades the different pieces composing this collection. One
Christ-like strain of sentiment breathes through them all. The same
consecrating fealty to truth presides over them all. The same grand
outline of principles and unvarying standard of judgment are constantly
evident. The same marvellous acumen, breadth of learning, and exquisite
culture, everywhere appear. Each article is more or less directly an
illustration of Christianity, as something moral, spiritual, vital,
dynamic, to be practically assimilated by the soul, in distinction from
the common exposition of it, as something sacerdotal, dogmatic, formal,
forensic, once enacted and now to be mimetically observed. The energetic
patience of labor, the detersive intellect, the unalloyed devoutness of
spirit, the telescopic range both of faculty and equipment, revealed
even in these wayside products, awaken in us an unappeasable desire for
a more purposed and systematic work from the same mind, now in its
fullest maturity. In the mean time we will express our grateful
appreciation of the contributions already furnished, by giving them
further circulation, assured that no truly pious and intelligent person,
free from bigotry and shackles, can peruse them without receiving equal
measures of delight and profit.

Mr. Martineau is so thoroughly acquainted with the processes and
results of spiritual experience, with the sciences of nature, and with
the whole realm of metaphysical philosophy, and his own wealthy
faculties are so tenacious in their activity and freshness, that every
subject he touches receives novelty, light, and ornament. He is
emphatically a teacher for the teachers,--a greater guide and master
for the common guides and masters. Traversing the whole domain of
human contemplation with the defining lines of analysis, clothing the
severe materials of science with the colors of æsthetic art, he sheds
on every theme the illumination of intellectual genius, and transfuses
every thought with the distinctive sentiments of piety. Thus is
afforded that rarest of all spectacles,--and the one now most needed
by the cultivated religious world,--of a man who is greatly endowed at
once as philosopher, poet, and Christian, and who with simultaneous
earnestness in each capacity is devoted, by the whole labors of his
life, to the instruction of mankind.

For these reasons, we feel it a duty to attract as much attention as
possible to Mr. Martineau's past and expected publications. The
peerless intelligence, the bracing fidelity, the essential nobleness
and catholicity, the tender beauty and reverence, of his utterances,
his consummate mastery of the great topics he handles, seem to us
fitted in a solitary degree to meet the highest wants of the age,--to
do divine service in the conflict of scepticism, sensuality, and decay
against all that is truest and purest in the religious faith and moral
life of Christendom. Therefore, to persons who, unacquainted with the
author's previous works, may read the papers here collected, we would
recommend as the best books for educated and earnest Christian
thinkers, Mr. Martineau's "Rationale of Religious Inquiry," the volume
of his "Miscellanies" edited by the Rev. T. S. King, and the two
series of "Endeavors after the Christian Life" recently republished in
one volume by Messrs. Munroe and Company.

We shall make up the rest of this introductory paper by quoting from
some of Mr. Martineau's articles, not generally accessible, a few
specimens of those thoughts which, if freely received in these times
of theological doubt and turmoil, would lead many a religious thinker
towards the truth and peace he covets.

How clearly the following passage shows the true


The contempt with which it is the frequent practice of divines to treat
the grounds of natural religion, betrays an ignorance both of the true
office of revelation and of the true wants of the human heart. It cannot
be justified, except on the supposition that there is some contradiction
between the teachings of creation and those of Christ, with some decided
preponderance of proof in favor of the latter. Even if the Gospel
furnished a series of perfectly new truths, of which nature had been
profoundly silent, it would be neither reasonable nor safe to fix
exclusive attention on these recent and historical acquisitions, and
prohibit all reference to those elder oracles of God, by which his
Spirit, enshrined in the glories of his universe, taught the fathers of
our race. And if it be the function of Christianity not to administer
truth entirely new, but to corroborate by fresh evidence, and invest
with new beauty, and publish to the millions with a voice of power, a
faith latent already in the hearts of many, and scattered through the
speculations of the wise and noble few,--to erect into realities the
dreams which had visited a half-inspired philosophy, interpreting the
life and lot of man;--then there is a relation between the religion of
nature and that of Christ,--a relation of original and
supplement,--which renders the one essential to the apprehension of the
other. Revelation, you say, has given us the clew by which to thread the
labyrinth of creation, and extricate ourselves from its passages of
mystery and gloom. Be it so; still, _there_, in the scene thus cleared
of its perplexity, must our worship be paid, and the manifestations of
Deity be sought. If the use of revelation be to explain the perplexities
of Providence and life, it would be a strange use to make of the
explanation were we to turn away from the thing explained. We hold the
key of heaven in our hands. What folly to be for ever extolling and
venerating it, whilst we prohibit all approach to the temple whose gates
it is destined to unlock.

One would search long to find a finer illustration than is here given
of the real


In Devotion there is this great peculiarity,--that it is neither the
_work_ nor the _play_ of our nature, but is something higher than
either,--more ideal than the one, more real than the other. All human
activities besides are one of these two things,--either the mere aim
at an external end, or the mere outcome of an inner feeling. On the
one hand, we plough and sow, we build and navigate, that we may win
the adornments and securities of life; on the other hand, we sing and
dance, we carve and paint, that we may put forth the pressure of
harmony and joy and beauty breaking from within. Mechanical Toil
terminates in a solid product; graceful Art is content with simple
expression; but Religion is degraded when it is reduced to either
character. It is not a labor of utility; and he who looks to it as a
means of safety, to ingratiate himself with an awful God, and bespeak
an interest in a hidden Future, is an utter stranger to its essence;
his habits and words may be cast in its mould, but the spark of its
life is not kindled in his heart. When fed by the fuel of prudence,
the fire is all spent in fusing it into form; and the finished product
is a cold and metal mimicry, that neither moves nor glows. Nor is
Religion a simple gesture of passion; and to class it with mere
natural language, to treat it as the rhythmical delirium of the soul
working off an irrepressible enthusiasm, is to empty it of its real
meaning and contents, and sink it from a divine attraction to a human
excitement. The postures and movements and tones which simply
manifest the impassioned mind are content to go off into space, and
pass away; they direct themselves nowhither; they have no more
_object_ than a convulsion; they ask only leave to be the last shape
of a feeling that must have way; and be the inspiration what it may,
they close and consummate its history. But he who _prays_ is at the
beginning of aspiration, not at the evaporating end of impulse; he is
drawn, not driven; he is not painting _himself_ upon vacancy, but is
surrendering himself to a Presence real and everlasting. If he flings
out his arms, it is not in blind paroxysm, but that he may embrace and
be embraced; if he cries aloud, it is that he may be heard; if he
makes melody of the silent heart, it is no soliloquy flung into
emptiness, but the low-breathing love of spirit to Spirit. Devotion is
not the play even of the highest faculties, but their deep earnest. It
is no doubt the culminating point of reverence; but reverence is
impossible without an object, and could never culminate at all, or
pass into the Infinite, unless its object did so too. In every case we
find that the faculties and susceptibilities of a being tell true, and
are the exact measure of the outer life it has to live; and just as
many and as large proportions as it has, to just so many and so great
objects does it stand related; so that from the axis of its nature you
may always draw the curve of its existence. Human worship, therefore,
turning to the living God as the infant's eye to light, is itself a
witness to Him whom it feels after and adores; it is "the image and
shadow of heavenly things," the parallel chamber in our nature with
that Holy of Holies whither its incense ever ascends.

In a similar strain is this argument to show that


Be assured, all visible greatness of mind grows in looking at an
invisible that is greater. And since it is inconceivable that what is
most sublime in humanity should spring from vision of a thing that is
not, that what is most real and commanding with us should come of
stretching the soul into the unreal and empty, that historic
durability should be the gift of spectral fancies, we must hold these
devout natures to be at one with everlasting Fact,--to feel truly that
the august forms of Justice and Holiness are at home in heaven, the
object there of clearer insight and more perfect veneration. There are
those who please themselves with the idea that the world will outgrow
its habits of worship; that the newspaper will supersede the preacher
and prophet; that the apprehension of scientific laws will replace the
fervor of moral inspirations; that this sphere of being will then be
perfectly administered when no reference to another distracts
attention. But, for my own part, I am persuaded, that life would soon
become intolerable on earth, were it copied from nothing in the
heavens; that its deeper affections would pine away and its lights of
purest thought grow pale, if it lay shrouded in no Holy Spirit, but
only in the wilderness of space. The most sagacious secular voice
leaves, after all, a chord untouched in the human heart: listening too
long to its didactic monotone, we begin to sigh for the rich music of
hope and faith. The dry glare of noonday knowledge hurts the eye by
plying it for use and denying it beauty; and we long to be screened
behind a cloud or two of moisture and of mystery, that shall mellow
the glory and cool the air. Never can the world be less to us, than
when we make it all in all.

Our author makes a striking reply to the common assertion that


It may, however, be retrogressive; and it is sure to repay flippant
neglect by lending its empty space to mean delusions. To its great
problems _some_ answer will always be attempted; and there is much to
choose between the solutions, however imperfect, found by reverential
wisdom, and the degrading falsehoods tendered in reply by the
indifferent and superficial. Even in their failures, there is a vast
difference between the explorings of the seeing and the blind. We deny,
however, that Christian theology can assume any aspect of failure,
except to those who use a false measure of success. It is not in the
nature of religion, of poetry, of art, to exhibit the kind of progress
that belongs to physical science. They differ from it in seeking, not
the _phenomena_ of the universe, but its _essence_,--not its laws of
change, but its eternal meanings,--not outward nature, in short, except
as expressive of the inner thought of God; and being thus intent upon
the enduring spirit and very ground of things, they cannot grow by
numerical accretion of facts and exacter registration of successions.
They are the product, not of the patient sense and comparing
intelligence which are always at hand, but of a deeper and finer
insight, changing with the atmosphere of the affections and will.
Instead of looking, therefore, for perpetual advance of discovery in
theology, we should naturally expect an ebb and flow of light, answering
to the moral condition of men's minds; and may be content if the divine
truth, lost in the dulness of a material age, clears itself into fresh
forms with the returning breath of a better time.

Most readers will find suggestions of great freshness in the passage
next cited:--


To lose sight of this principle in estimating Christianity, and to
insist on judging it, not by its matured character in Christendom, not
by the _unconscious spirit_ of its founders, but by their personal
views and purposes, is to overlook the divine in it in order to fasten
on the human; to seek the winged creature of the air in the throbbing
chrysalis; and is like judging the place of the Hebrews in history by
the court and the proverbs of Solomon, or the value of Puritanism by
the sermon of a hill-preacher before the civil war. The primitive
Christianity was certainly _different_ from that of other ages; but
there is no reason for believing that it was _better_. The
representation often made of the early Church, as having only truth,
and feeling only love, and living in simple sanctity, is contradicted
by every page of the Christian records. The Epistles are entirely
occupied in driving back guilt and passion, or in correcting errors of
belief; nor is it _always_ possible to approve of the temper in which
they perform the one task, or to assent to the methods by which they
attempt the other. Principles and affections were indeed secreted in
the heart of the first disciples, which were to have a great future,
and to become the highest truth of the world. But it was precisely of
these that they rarely thought at all. The Apostles themselves speak
slightingly of them, as baby's food; and the great faith in God, the
need of repentant purity of heart, with the trust in immortality,--the
very doctrines which we should name as the permanent essence of
Christian faith,--are expressly declared by them to be the childish
rudiments of belief, on which the attention of the grown Christian
will disdain to dwell. And what did they prefer to these sublime
truths, as the nutriment of their life and the pride of their wisdom?
Allegories about Isaac and Ishmael, parallels between Christ and
Melchisedec, new readings of history and prophecy to suit the events
in Palestine, and a constant outlook for the end of all things. These
were the grand topics on which their minds eagerly worked, and on
which they labored to construct a consistent theory. These give the
form to their doctrine, the matter to their spirit. These are what you
will get, if you go indiscriminately to their writings for a creed:
and these are no more Christianity than the pretensions of Hildebrand
or the visions of Swedenborg. The true religion lies elsewhere, just
in the things that were _ever present with them, but never esteemed_.
Just as your friend may spend his anxiety on his station, his
usefulness, his appearance and repute, and fear lest he should show
nothing deserving your regard, while all the time you love him for the
pure graces, the native wild-flowers, of his heart; so do the
choicest servants of God ever think one thing of themselves, while
they are dear to him and revered by us for quite another. "The weak
things" in the Church not less than in "the world hath he chosen to
confound the mighty; the simple, to strike dumb the wise; and things
that are not, to supersede the things that are."

In rude ages, and amid feudal customs, it has perhaps been no unhappy
thing that this image of servitude has been transmitted into the
conceptions of faith: it may have touched with some sanctity an
inevitable submission, and mingled a sentiment of loyalty with
religion. But the _external relation_ of serf and lord is no type of
the _internal relation_ of spirit to spirit, which alone constitutes
religion to us. To God himself, with all his infinitude, we are not
_slaves_; we are not his _property_, but his children; he regards us,
not as _things_, but as _persons_; he does not so much command us, as
appeal to us; and in our obedience, it is not his _bidding_ that we
serve, but that divine Law of Right of which he makes us conscious as
the rule of His nature only more perfectly than of ours. To obey him
as _slaves_, in fear, and with an eye upon his power, is, with all our
punctuality and anxiety, simply and entirely to _disobey_ him; nor is
anything precious in his sight, except the free consent of heart with
which we apprehend what is holy to his thought and embrace what is in
harmony with his perfection. Still less can we be _slaves_ to Christ,
who is no autocrat to us, but our freely followed leader towards God;
the guide of our pilgrim troop in quest of a holy land; who gives us
no law from the mandates of his will, but only interprets for us, and
makes burn within us, in characters of fire, the law of our own
hearts; who has no power over us, except through the affections he
awakens and the aspirations he sets upon the watch. We have emerged
from the Religion of _Law_, whose only sentiment is that of _obedience
to sovereignty_; we have passed from the religion of _Salvation_,
whose life consists in _gratitude to a Deliverer_; and we are capable
only of a religion of _reverence_, which bows before the _authority of
Goodness_. And in the infinite ranks of excellence, from the highest
to the lowest, there are no lords and slaves; the dependence is ever
that of internal charm, not of external bond; the _authority_ is but
represented and impersonated in another and a better soul, but has its
living seat within our own; and in this true and elevating worship,
the more we are disposed of by another, the more do we feel that we
are our own. This is a relation which the political terms of the
expected theocracy are ill adapted to express; and if we have required
many centuries to grope our way to this clearest glory of religion, to
disengage it from the impure admixture of servile fear and revolting
presumption; if it has taken long for us to melt away in our
imagination the images of thrones and tribunals, of prize-givings and
prisons, of a police and assizes of the universe; if only at the
eleventh hour of our faith, the cloud has passed away, and shown us
the true angel-ladder that springs from earth to heaven, the pure
climax of souls whereon each below looks up and rises, yet each above
bends down and helps;--the discovery which brings such peace and
freedom to the heart, has been delayed by the mistaken identification
of the entire creed of the first age with the essence of Christianity.
Now that God has shown us so much more, has tried the divine seed of
the Gospel on so various a soil of history, and enabled us to
distinguish its fairest blossoms and its choicest fruits, a much
larger meaning than was possible at first must be given to the purpose
of his revelation. Even to Paul, Christ was mainly the great
representative of a theocratic idea; and was in no other sense an
object of _spiritual_ belief, than that he was not on earth and
mortal, but in heaven and immortal. That _faith_ in Christ, which then
prominently denoted belief in his appointed return, and _allegiance_
to him as God's viceroy in this world, is now transferred into quite a
different thing. It is altogether a moral and affectionate sentiment:
an acknowledgment of him as the highest impersonation of divine
excellence and inspired insight yet given to the world; a trust in him
as the only realized type of perfection that can mediate for us
between ourselves and God; a faithfulness to him, as making us
conscious of what we are and what God and our conscience would have us
to be. It is vain to pretend that revelation is a fixed and
stereotyped thing. It was born, as the divinest things must be, among
human conditions; and into it ever since human conditions have
perpetually flowed. The elements of Hebrew thought surrounded the
sacred centre at first, and have been erroneously identified with it
by all Unitarian churches in every age. The Hellenic intellect
afterwards streamed towards the fresh point of life and faith, and
gathered around it the metaphysical system of Trinitarian dogma in
which orthodox communions of all times have, with parallel error,
sought the essence of the Gospel. The true principle of the religion
has been _secreted in both, and consisted in neither_: it has lain
unnoticed in the midst, in the silent chamber of the heart, around
which the clamor of the disputatious intellect whirls without
entrance. The agency of Christ's mind as the expression of God's moral
nature and providence, and as the realized ideal of beauty and
excellence,--this is the power of God and the wisdom of God, which has
made vain the counsels of the world, and baffled the foolishness of
the Church. This is the Gospel's centre of stability,--"Jesus Christ,
the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever."

Few persons can be insensible to the sublimity of this expression upon
the relation between


In conclusion, then, I revert, with freshened persuasion, to the
statement with which I commenced. Jesus Christ of Nazareth, God hath
presented to us simply in his inspired humanity. Him we accept, not
indeed as very God, but as the true image of God, commissioned to show
what no written doctrinal record could declare, the entire moral
perfections of Deity. We accept, not indeed his body, not the
struggles of his sensitive nature, not the travail of his soul, but
his purity, his tenderness, his absolute devotion to the great idea of
right, his patient and compassionate warfare against misery and guilt,
as the most distinct and beautiful expression of the Divine mind. The
peculiar office of Christ is to supply a new _moral_ image of
Providence; and everything, therefore, except the _moral_ complexion
of his mind, we leave behind as human and historical merely, and apply
to no religious use. I have already stated in what way nature and the
Gospel combine to bring before us the great object of our trust and
worship. The universe gives us the scale of God, and Christ, his
Spirit. We climb to the infinitude of his nature by the awful pathway
of the stars, where whole forests of worlds silently quiver here and
there, like a small leaf of light. We dive into his eternity, through
the ocean waves of time, that roll and solemnly break on the
imagination, as we trace the wrecks of departed things upon our
present globe. The scope of his intellect, and the majesty of his
rule, are seen in the tranquil order and everlasting silence that
reign through the fields of his volition. And the spirit that animates
the whole is like that of the Prophet of Nazareth; the thoughts that
fly upon the swift light throughout creation, charged with fates
unnumbered, are like the healing mercies of One that passed no sorrow
by. The government of this world, its mysterious allotments of good
and ill, its successions of birth and death, its hopes of progress and
of peace, each life of individual or nation, is under the
administration of One, of whose rectitude and benevolence, whose
sympathy with all the holiest aspirations of our virtue and our love,
Christ is the appointed emblem. A faith that spreads around and within
the mind a Deity thus sublime and holy, feeds the light of every pure
affection, and presses with omnipotent power on the conscience; and
our only prayer is, that we may walk as children of such light.

It seems as if no one capable of understanding could resist the
convincing cogency of the following exhibition of


It is only natural that the parable of the Prodigal Son should be no
favorite with those who deny the unconditional mercy of God. The place
which this divine tale occupies in the Unitarian theology appears to
be filled, in the orthodox scheme, by the story of Zaleucus, king of
the Locrians; which has been appealed to in the present controversy by
both the lecturers on the Atonement, and seems to be the only
endurable illustration presented, even by Pagan history, of the
execution of vicarious punishment. This monarch had passed a law
condemning adulterers to the loss of both eyes. His own son was
convicted of the crime; and, to satisfy at once the claims of law and
of clemency, the royal parent "commanded one of his own eyes to be
pulled out, and one of his son's." Is it too bold a heresy to confess
that there seems to me something heathenish in this example, and that,
as an exponent of the Divine character, I more willingly revere the
Father of the prodigal than the father of the adulterer?

Without entering, however, into any comparison between the Locrian and
the Galilean parable, I would observe, that the vicarious theory
receives no illustration from this fragment of ancient history. There
is no analogy between the cases, except in the violation of truth and
wisdom which both exhibit; and whatever we are instructed to admire in
Zaleucus, will be found on close inspection to be absent from the
orthodox representation of God. We pity the Grecian king, who had made
a law without foresight of its application, and so sympathize with his
desire to evade it, that any quibble which legal ingenuity can devise
for this purpose passes with slight condemnation; casuistry refuses to
be severe with a man implicated in such a difficulty. But the Creator
and Legislator of the human race, having perfect knowledge of the
future, can never be surprised into a similar perplexity; or ever pass
a law at one time which at another he desires to evade. Even were it
so, there would seem to be less that is unworthy of his moral
perfection in saying plainly, with the ancient Hebrews, that he
"repented of the evil he thought to do," and said, "It shall not be,"
than in ascribing to him a device for preserving consistency, in which
no one capable of appreciating veracity can pretend to discern any
sincere fulfilment of the law. However barbarous the idea of Divine
"repentance," it is at least ingenuous. Nor does this incident of
Zaleucus and his son present any parallel to the alleged relation
between the Divine Father who receives, and the Divine Son who gives,
the satisfaction for human guilt. The Locrian king took a part of the
penalty himself, and left the remainder where it was due; but the
Sovereign Lawgiver of Calvinism puts the whole upon another. To
sustain the analogy, Zaleucus should have permitted an innocent son to
have both his eyes put out, and the convicted adulterer to escape.

The doctrine of Atonement has introduced among Trinitarians a mode of
speaking respecting God, which grates most painfully against the
reverential affections due to him. His nature is dismembered into a
number of attributes, foreign to each other, and preferring rival
claims; the Divine tranquillity appears as the equilibrium of opposing
pressures,--the Divine administration as a resultant from the
collision of hostile forces. Goodness pleads for that which holiness
forbids; and the Paternal God would do many a mercy, did the Sovereign
God allow. The idea of a conflict or embarrassment in the Supreme Mind
being thus introduced, and the believer being haunted by the feeling
of some tremendous difficulty affecting the Infinite government, the
vicarious economy is brought forward as the relief, the solution of
the whole perplexity; the union, by a blessed compromise, of
attributes that could never combine in any scheme before. The main
business of theology is made to consist in stating the conditions and
expounding the solution of this imaginary problem. The cardinal
difficulty is thought to be the reconciliation of justice and mercy;
and, as the one is represented under the image of a Sovereign, the
other under that of a Father, the question assumes this form: How can
the same being at every moment possess both these characters, without
abandoning any function or feeling appropriate to either? how,
especially, can the Judge remit?--it is beyond his power; yet how can
the Parent punish to the uttermost?--it is contrary to his nature.

All this difficulty is merely fictitious, arising out of the
determination to make out that God is both wholly Judge and wholly
Father; from an anxiety, that is, to adhere to two metaphors, as
applicable, in every particular, to the Divine Being. It is evident that
both must be, to a great extent, inappropriate; and in nothing, surely,
is the impropriety more manifest, than in the assertion that, as
sovereign, God is naturally bound to execute laws which, nevertheless,
it would be desirable to remit, or change in their operation. Whatever
painful necessities the imperfection of human legislation and judicial
procedure may impose, the Omniscient Ruler can make no law which he will
not to all eternity, and with entire consent of his whole nature, deem
it well to execute. This is the Unitarian answer to the constant
question, "How can God forgive in defiance of his own law?" It is not in
defiance of his laws: every one of which will be fulfilled to the
uttermost, in conformity with his first intent; but nowhere has he
declared that he would not forgive. All justice consists in treating
moral agents according to their character; the inexorability of human
law arises solely from the imperfection with which it can attain this
end, and is not the essence, but the alloy, of equity; but God, who
searches and controls the heart, exercises that perfect justice, which
permits the penal suffering to depart only with the moral guilt; and
pardons, not by cancelling any sentence, but by obeying his eternal
purpose to meet the wanderer returning homeward, and give his blessing
to the restored. Only by such restoration can any past guilt be effaced.
The thoughts, emotions, and sufferings of sin, once committed, are woven
into the fabric of the soul; and are as incapable of being absolutely
obliterated thence and put back into non-existence, as moments of being
struck from the past, or the parts of space from infinitude. Herein we
behold alike "the goodness and the severity of God"; and adore in him,
not the balance of contrary tendencies, but the harmony of consentaneous
perfections. How plainly does experience show that, if his personal
unity be given up, his moral unity cannot be preserved!

The author himself is the best exemplification of the man described in
this account of the


The difference between the ordinary visual gaze upon the external
universe, and the interpreting glance of science, is felt by every
cultivated understanding to be immeasurable;--and the contrast is not
less between that dull sense of what passes within him, which is forced
upon a man by mere practical experience, and the exact consciousness,
the discriminative perception, the easy comprehension of his own (and,
so far as they are expressed by faithful symbols, of others') states and
affections, possessed by the patient analyst of thought and emotion, and
careful collector of their laws. The mighty mass of human achievement
and human failure, in intellectual research, in moral endeavor, in
social economy and government, lapses into order before him, and
distributes itself among the provinces of determinate laws. The
structure of a child's perplexity, and the fallacies of the most
ambitious hypothesis, lie open to him as readily, as to the artisan a
flaw in the fabric of his own craft. The creations of art fall before
him into their elements; and, dissolving away their constituent
_matter_, which is an accident of their age, leave upon his mind their
permanent _form_ of beauty, as his guide to a true and noble criticism.
The progress and the aberrations of human reason, in its quest of truth,
are as clearly appreciated by him, as the passages of happy skill or
ignorant roving in some voyage of discovery, when the outlines and
relations of the sphere on which it is made become fully known.
Discerning distinctly the different kinds of evidence appropriate to
different departments of truth, and weighing the scientific value of
every idea and method of thought, he is not at the mercy of each
superficial impression and obtrusive phase presented to him by the
subjects of his contemplation; but he attains a certain rational tact
and graduated feeling of certainty in abstract matters of opinion, by
which he escapes alike the miseries of undefined doubt, and the passions
of unqualified dogmatism. In short, the great idea of Science is applied
by him to the complicated workings of the mind of man; interprets the
activities of his nature, and gives laws to the administration of his
life; and, with wonderful analysis, investigates the properties, and
establishes the equation, of their most labyrinthine curves.

What a rebuke upon dogmatic sciolists, what a glorious invitation to
study, are conveyed in the genial, broad, mental hospitality of the
succeeding paragraph!


If there is one department of knowledge more than another in which a
contemptuous disregard of the meditations and theories of distant
periods and nations is misplaced, it is in the philosophy of
man,--which can have no adequate breadth of basis till it reposes on
the consciousness and covers the mental experience of the universal
race; and to construct which out of purely personal materials, is like
attempting to lay down the curves and finish the theory of terrestrial
magnetism on the strength of a few closet experiments. No man, however
large-thoughted and composite his mind, can accept of _himself_ as the
type of universal human nature. It will even be a great and rare
endowment, if, with every aid of exact learning and unwearying
patience, he is able to penetrate the atmosphere of others'
understanding, and to observe the forms and colors which the objects
of contemplation assume, when beheld through this peculiar medium.
Simply to avail one's self of the experience of mankind, and know what
it has really been, demands no little scope of imagination and
versatility of intellectual sympathy. When these qualities are so
deficient in a thinker that he cannot well achieve this knowledge, it
is a great misfortune to his philosophy; when the want is such that he
does not even desire it, it amounts to an absolute disqualification.
Without, therefore, pledging ourselves to the eclectic principles
which prevail in the present school of philosophy in France, we must
beware of the intolerant dogmatism of Bentham in England, sanctioned,
as we have seen, by one of the masters of the antagonist metaphysics
in Germany. Indeed, it will be a chief purpose of all my lectures to
enable you to profit by the light of other minds; in every province of
the vast region which we shall explore together, to indicate the paths
which they have traversed before, nor ever to turn away from their
points of discovery, without raising some rude monument at least of
honest and commemorative praise. To introduce you to the works, to
interpret the difficulties, to do honor to the labors, to review the
opinions, of the great masters of speculative thought in every age and
in many lands, will be an indispensable portion of my duty;--a task
most arduous indeed, but than which none can be more grateful to one
who loves to trace, through all their affinities, the indestructible
types of truth and beauty in the human mind; and to mark the natural
laws, connecting together the most opposite continents and climes of
thought, as parts, successively colonized and cultivated, of one great
intellectual world. But in addition to the study of the several
classes of psychological and moral doctrine as they present themselves
in the _order of science_, it will be important to spread out the
literature of philosophy before us in the _order of time_; to gain an
insight into the natural development of successive modes of thought on
speculative subjects; to notice the action and reaction of philosophy
and practical life; to ascertain whether opinion on these abstract
matters really advances into knowledge and has any determinate
progression, or whether it oscillates for ever on either side of some
fixed idea, or line of mental gravitation. In short, having surveyed
our subject systematically, we shall go over it again chronologically;
and call upon philosophy, when it has recited its creed, and revealed
its wisdom, to finish all by writing its history.

The hints given in Mr. Martineau's frequent references to the bearing
of scientific knowledge and laws upon theological speculations are
very important. We adduce a single example.


An accomplished and thoughtful observer of nature--Hugh Miller, the
geologist--has somewhere remarked, that religion has lost its
dependence on metaphysical theories, and must henceforth maintain
itself upon the domain of physical science. He accordingly exhorts the
guardians of sacred truth to prepare themselves for the approaching
crisis in its history, by exchanging the study of thoughts for the
apprehension of things, and carefully cultivating the habit of
inductive research. The advice is excellent, and proceeds from one
whose own example has amply proved its worth; and unless the clergy
qualify themselves to take part in the discussions which open
themselves with the advance of natural knowledge, they will assuredly
be neither secure in their personal convictions nor faithful to their
public trust. The only fault to be found with this counsel is, that in
recommending one kind of knowledge it disparages another, and betrays
that limited intellectual sympathy which is the bane of all noble
culture. Geology, astronomy, chemistry, so far from succeeding to the
inheritance of metaphysics, do but enrich its problems with new
conceptions and give a larger outline to its range; and should they,
in the wantonness of their young ascendency, persuade men to its
neglect, they will pay the penalties of their contempt by the
appearance of confusion in their own doctrine. The advance of any one
line of human thought demands--especially for the security of
faith--the parallel movement of all the rest; and the attempt to
substitute one intellectual reliance for another, mistakes for
progress of knowledge what may be only an exchange of ignorance. In
particular, the study of external nature must proceed _pari passu_
with the study of the human mind; and the errors of an age too
exclusively reflective will not be remedied, but only reversed, by
mere reaction into sciences of outward fact and observation. These
physical pursuits, followed into their further haunts, rapidly run up
into a series of notions common to them all,--expressed by such words
as _Law_, _Cause_, _Force_,--which at once transfer the jurisdiction
from the provincial courts of the special sciences to the high
chancery of universal philosophy. To conduct the pleadings--still more
to pronounce the judgment--there, other habits of mind are needed than
are required in the museum and the observatory; and the history of
knowledge, past and present, abounds with instances of men who, with
the highest merit in particular walks of science, have combined a
curious incompetency of survey over the whole. Hence, very few natural
philosophers, however eminent for great discoveries and dreaded by the
priesthood of their day, have made any deep and durable impression on
the religious conception of the universe, as the product and
expression of an Infinite Mind; and in tracing the eras of human
faith, the deep thinker comes more prominently into view than the
skilful interrogator of nature. In the history of religion, Plato is a
greater figure than Archimedes; Spinoza than Newton; Hume and Kant
than Volta and La Place; even Thomas Carlyle than Justus Liebig. Our
picture indeed of the system of things is immensely enlarged, both in
space and duration, by the progress of descriptive science; and the
grouping of its objects and events is materially changed. But the
altered scene carries with it the same expression to the soul; speaks
the same language as to its origin; renews its ancient glance with an
auguster beauty; and, in spite of all dynamic theories, reproduces the
very modes of faith and doubt which belonged to the age both of the
old Organon and of the new.

The ultimate problem of all philosophy and all religion is this: "How
are we to conceive aright the origin and first principle of things?"
The answers, it has been contended by a living author of distinguished
merit, are necessarily reducible to two, between which all systems are
divided, and on the decision of whose controversy, all antagonist
speculations would lay down their arms. "In the beginning was FORCE,"
says one class of thinkers; "force, singular or plural, splitting into
opposites, standing off into polarities, ramifying into attractions
and repulsions, heat and magnetism, and climbing through the stages of
physical, vital, animal, to the mental life itself." "On the
contrary," says the other class, "in the beginning was THOUGHT; and
only in the necessary evolution of its eternal ideas into expression
does force arise,--self-realizing thought declaring itself in the
types of being and the laws of phenomena." We need hardly say, that
the former of these two notions coalesces with the creed of Atheism,
and is most frequently met with upon the path of the physical
sciences, while the latter is favored by the mathematical and
metaphysical, and gives the essence of Pantheism. Each of them has
insurmountable difficulties, with which it is successfully taunted by
the other. Start from blind force; and how, by any spinning from that
solitary centre, are we ever to arrive at the seeing intellect? Can
the lower create the higher, and the unconscious enable us to think?
Start from pure thinking, and how then can you get any force for the
production of objective effects? How metamorphose a passage of dialect
into the power of gravitation, and a silent corollary into a flash of
lightning? In taking the intellect as the type of God, this difficulty
must always be felt. We are well aware that it is not in _this_
endowment that our dynamic energy resides. The _activity_ which we
ascribe to our intellect is not a power going out into external
efficiency, but a mere passage across the internal field of successive
thoughts as spontaneous phenomena. Nor have we, as thinking beings
only, any _option_ with respect to the thoughts thus streaming over
the theatre of rational consciousness; our constitution legislates for
us in this particular, and the order of suggestion is determined by
laws having their seat in us. Finally, we are not, by mere thinking
capacity, constituted _persons_, any more than a sleeper who should
never wake, yet always be engaged with rational and scientific dreams,
would be a person. Without some further endowment, we should only be a
_logical life_ and development. All these characters are imported into
the conception of God, when he is represented as conforming to the
type of reason. The activity of intellect being wholly internal, the
phenomena of the Universe could not be referred to Him as a thinking
being, were they not gathered up into the interior of his nature, and
conceived, not as objective effects of his power, but as purely
subjective successions within the theatre of his infinitude. Intellect
again having no option, the God of this theory is without freedom, and
is represented as the eternal necessity of reason. And lastly, in
fidelity to the same analogy, He is not a divine _Person_, but rather
a _Thinking Thing_, or the thinking function of the universe; we may
say, _universal science in a state of self-consciousness_. The
necessity under which Pantheism lies, of fetching all that is to be
referred to God into the _interior_ of his being, and dealing with it
as not less a necessary manifestation of his mental essence than are
our ideas of the mind that has them, explains the unwillingness of
this system to allow any motives to God, any field of objective
operation, any special relation to individuals, any revealing
interposition, any _supernatural_ agency.

Is it however true, that human belief can only choose between these
two extremes, and must oscillate eternally between the Atheistic
homage to Force, and the Pantheistic to Thought? Far from it; and it
is curiously indicative of the state of the philosophic atmosphere in
Germany, that one of her most discerning and wide-seeing authors
should find no third possibility within the sphere of vision. In any
latitude except one in which moral science has altogether melted away
in the universal solvent of metaphysics, it would occur as one of the
most obvious suggestions, that the intellect is not the only element
of human nature which may be taken as type of the Divine, and as
furnishing a possible solution to the problem of origination. Quitting
the two poles of extreme philosophy, confessedly incompetent in their
separation, we submit that WILL presents the middle point which takes
up into itself Thought on the one hand and Force on the other; and
which yet, so far from appearing to us as a _compound_ arising out of
them as an effect, is more easily conceived than either as the
originating prefix of all phenomena. It has none of the
disqualifications which we have remarked as flowing from the others
into their respective systems of doctrine. It carries with it, in its
very idea, the co-presence of Thought, as the necessary element within
whose sphere it has to manifest itself. Its phenomena cannot exist
_alone_; it acts on preconceptions, which stand related to it,
however, not as its source, but as its conditions, and are its
co-ordinates in the effect rather than its generating antecedents. If
therefore all things are issued by Will, there is Mind at the
fountain-head, and the absurdity is avoided of deriving intelligence
from unintelligence. While it thus escapes the difficulty of passing
from mere Force to Thought, it is equally clear of the opposite
difficulty of making mere Thought supply any Force. The activity of
Will is not, like that of Intellect, a subjective transit of
regimented ideas, but an _objective_ power _going out_ for the
production of effects; nay, it is a _free_ power, exercising
_preference_ among data furnished by internal or external conditions
present in its field; and it thus constitutes proper _Causality_,
which always implies control over an alternative. We need hardly add,
that all the requisites are thus complete for the true idea of a
_Person_; and an Infinite Being contemplated under this type is
neither a fateful nor a logical principle of necessity, but a living
God, out of whose purposed legislation has sprung whatever necessity
there is, except the self-existent beauty of his holiness. Thus,
between the Force of the physical Atheist, and the Thought of the
metaphysical Pantheist, we fix upon the fulcrum of Will as the true
balance-point of a moral Theism.

It would be impossible, perhaps, to find anywhere a finer instance of
perspicuity in condensation, than is given in the following reference to


Lessing refused to surrender Christianity, on proof of error in its
first teachers, uncertainty in its reported miracles, contradictions
in its early literature, misapplication of Messianic prophecies. All
these he regards as but the external accidents, the transitory media,
of the religion, constituting, it may be, its support in one age and
its weakness in another. They do not belong to its inner essence, in
which alone the real evidence of spiritual truth is found; and he who
detects anything amiss with them may even render a service by driving
men from sham-proofs, that really persuade no one, to true ones that
lie at the heart of things. Religious doctrine cannot be deduced from
mere historical facts without a μεταβασις εις αλλο γενος vitiating the
whole process. _Facts_ indeed _may_ become the proper ground of moral
and spiritual faith; but then they must be facts which come over again
and again, and betray an element that is permanent and eternal; which
form part of the experience and consciousness of humanity; and ally
themselves with the Divine by not losing their _presence_ in the
world. But _unrepeated facts_, which limit themselves to a moment,
which are the incidents of a single personality, and are left behind
quite insulated in the past, show--were it only by your not expecting
them again--that they are detached from the persistent and essential
life of the universe and humanity. They are but once and away; and
least of all, therefore, can testify of the untransitory and
ever-living. The real can teach us only so far as it has an ideal
kernel, redeeming it from the character of a solitary phenomenon.
Among the various expositions and applications of this favorite theme
of Lessing's, we select the following sentences from his Axiomata.

1. "The Bible evidently contains more than belongs to Religion."

2. "That in this '_more_' the Bible is still infallible, is mere

3. "The letter is not the spirit, and the Bible is not the Religion."

4. "The objections therefore against the letter and against the Bible,
are not on that account objections against the spirit and against the

5. "Moreover there was a religion ere there was a Bible."

6. "Christianity was in being before Evangelists and Apostles had
written. Some time elapsed before the first of them wrote, and a very
considerable time before the whole canon was constituted."

7. "However much, therefore, may depend on these writings, it is
impossible that the whole truth of the Christian religion can rest
upon them."

8. "If there was a period during which, diffused as the Christian
religion already was, and many as were the souls filled already with
its power, still not a letter had yet been written of the records
which have come down to us; then it must be also possible for all the
writings of Evangelists and Apostles to perish, yet the religion
taught by them still to subsist."

9. "The religion is not true because Evangelists and Apostles taught
it; but they taught it because it is true."

10. "Its interior truth must furnish the interpretation of the
writings it has handed down; and no writings handed down can give it
interior truth, if it has none."

In his controversy with Göze, he illustrates this distinction between
the essence and the historical form of Christianity, by a parable to
the following effect. A wise king of a great realm built a palace of
immense size and very peculiar architecture. About this structure,
there came from the very first a foolish strife to be carried on,
especially among reputed connoisseurs, people, that is, who had least
looked into the interior. This strife was not about the palace itself,
but about various old ground-plans of it, and drawings of the same,
very difficult to make out. Once, when the watchmen cried out "Fire,"
these connoisseurs, instead of running to help, snatched up their
plans, and, instead of putting out the fire on the spot, kept standing
with their plans in hand, making a hubbub all the while, and
squabbling about whether this was the spot on fire, and that the place
to put it out. Happily, the safety of the palace did not depend on
these busy wranglers, for it was not on fire at all; the watchmen had
been frightened by the Northern lights, and mistaken them for fire. It
is impossible to convey by a clearer image Lessing's feeling, that a
Christianity once incorporated in the very substance of history and
civilization, seated deep in human sentiment and thought, and
developed into literature, law, and life, subsists independently of
critical questions, and is with us, not as the contingent vapor that a
wind may rise to blow away, but as the cloud that has dropped its rain
and mingled with the roots of things.

In immediate contrast with the foregoing application of a critical
method to the historic documents of Christianity, it is beautiful to
see the same genius turned with eager joy to a practical
recommendation of the experimental life of Christianity.


It is quite true, that self-cure is of all things the most arduous;
but that which is impossible _to the man within us_, may be altogether
possible _to the God_. In truth, the denial of such changes, under the
affectation of great knowledge of man, shows an incredible ignorance
of men. Why, the history of every great religious revolution, such as
the spread of Methodism, is made up of nothing else; the instances
occurring in such number and variety, as to transform the character of
whole districts and vast populations, and to put all scepticism at
utter defiance. And if some more philosophic authority is needed for
the fact, we may be content with the sanction of Lord Bacon, who
observed that a man reforms his habits either altogether or not at
all. Deterioration of mind is indeed always gradual; recovery usually
sudden; for God, by a mystery of mercy, has established this
distinction in our secret nature,--that, while we cannot, by one dark
plunge, sympathize with guilt far beneath us, but gaze at it with
recoil till intermediate shades have rendered the degradation
tolerable, we are yet capable of sympathizing with moral excellence
and beauty infinitely above us; so that, while the debased may shudder
and sicken at even the true picture of themselves, they can feel the
silent majesty of self-denying and disinterested duty. With a demon
can no man feel complacency, though the demon be himself; but God can
all spirits reverence, though his holiness be an infinite deep. And
thus the soul, privately uneasy at its insincere state, is prepared,
when vividly presented with some sublime object veiled before, to be
pierced, as by a flash from heaven, with an instant veneration,
sometimes intense enough to fuse the fetters of habit, and drop them
to the earth whence they were forged. The mind is ready, like a liquid
on the eve of crystallization, to yield up its state on the touch of
the first sharp point, and dart, over its surface and in its depths,
into brilliant and beautiful forms, and from being turbid and weak as
water, to become clear as crystal, and solid as the rock.

One of the most elaborate and valuable productions from Mr.
Martineau's pen, an article closely allied in all respects to the
ensuing Studies of Christianity, is the one of some portions of which
we herewith present an epitome.


The Divine sentiments towards right and wrong every man naturally
believes to be a reflection of whatever is most pure and solemn in his
own. We cannot be sincerely persuaded, that God looks with aversion on
dispositions which we revere as good and noble; or that he regards with
lax indifference the selfish and criminal passions which awaken our own
disgust. We may well suppose, indeed, his scrutiny more searching, his
estimate more severely true, his rebuking look more awful, than our
self-examination and remorse can fitly represent; but we cannot doubt
that our moral emotions, as far as they go, are in sympathy with his;
that we know, by our own consciousness, the general direction of his
approval and displeasure; and that, in proportion as our perceptions of
duty are rendered clear, our judgment more nearly approaches the
precision of the Omniscient award. Our own conscience is the window of
heaven through which we gaze on God; and, as its colors perpetually
change, his aspect changes too;--if they are bright and fair, he dwells
as in the warm light of a rejoicing love; if they are dark and turbid,
he hides himself in robes of cloud and storm. When you have lost your
self-respect, you have never thought yourself an object of Divine
complacency. In moments fresh from sin, flushed with the shame of an
insulted mind, when you have broken another resolve, or turned your back
upon a noble toil, or succumbed to a mean passion, or lapsed into the
sickness of self-indulgence, could you ever turn a clear and open face
to God, nor think it terrible to meet his eye? Could you imagine
yourself in congeniality with him, when you gave yourself up to the
voluble sophistry of self-excuse, and the loose hurry of forgetfulness?
Or did you not discern him rather in your own accusing heart, and meet
him in the silent anguish of full confession, and find in the
recognition of your alienation the first hope of return? To all
unperverted minds, the verdict of conscience sounds with a
preternatural voice; it is not the homely talk of their own poor
judgment, but an oracle of the sanctuary. There is something of
anticipation in our remorse, as well as of retrospect; and we feel that
it is not the mere survey of a gloomy past with the slow lamp of our
understanding, but a momentary piercing of the future with the vivid
lightning of the skies. Our moral nature, left to itself, intuitively
believes that guilt is an estrangement from God,--an unqualified
opposition to his will,--a literal service of the enemy; that he abhors
it, and will give it no rest till it is driven from his presence, that
is, into annihilation; that no part of our mind belongs to him but the
pure, and just, and disinterested affections which he fosters, the
faithful will which he strengthens, the virtue, often damped, whose
smoking flax he will not quench, and the good resolves, ever frail,
whose bruised reed he will not break; and that he has no relation but of
displeasure, no contact but of resistance, with our selfishness and sin.
In the simple faith of the conscience it is no figure of speech to say,
that God "is angry with the wicked every day," and is "of purer eyes
than to behold iniquity." So long as the natural religion of the heart
is undisturbed, to sin is, in the plainest and most positive sense, to
set up against Heaven, and frustrate its will.

Soon, however, the understanding disturbs the tranquillity of this
belief, and constructs a rival creed. The primitive conception of God
is acquired, I believe, without reasoning, and emerges from the
affections; it is a transcript of our own emotions,--an investiture of
them with external personality and infinite magnitude. But a secondary
idea of Deity arises in the intellect, from its reasonings about
causation. Curiosity is felt respecting the origin of things; and the
order, beauty, and mechanism of external nature are too conspicuous
not to force upon the observation the conviction of a great Architect
of the universe, from whose designing reason its forces and its laws
mysteriously sprung. Hence the _intellectual_ conception of _God the
Creator_, which comes into inevitable collision with the _moral_
notion of _God the holy watch of virtue_. For if the system of
creation is the production of his Omniscience; if he has constituted
human nature as it is, and placed it in the scene whereon it acts; if
the arrangements by which happiness is allotted, and character is
formed, are the contrivance of his thought and the work of his
hand,--then the sufferings and the guilt of every being were objects
of his original contemplation, and the productions of his own design.
The deed of crime must, in this case, be as much an integral part of
his Providence, as the efforts and sacrifices of virtue; and the
monsters of licentiousness and tyranny, whose images deform the
scenery of history, are no less truly his appointed instruments, than
the martyr and the sage. And though we remain convinced that he does
not make choice of evil in his government for its own sake, but only
for ultimate ends worthy of his perfections, still we can no longer
see how he can truly hate that which he employs for the production of
good. That which is his chosen instrument cannot be sincerely regarded
as his everlasting enemy; and only figuratively can he be said to
repudiate a power which he continually wields. There must be _some
sense_ in which it appears, in the eye of Omniscience, to be eligible;
some point of view at which its horrors vanish; and where the moral
distinctions, which we feel ourselves impelled to venerate, disappear
from the regards of God.

Here, then, is a fearful contradiction between the religion of
conscience and the religion of the understanding; the one pronouncing
evil to be the antagonist, the other to be the agent, of the Divine
will. In every age has this difficulty laid a heavy weight upon the
human heart; in every age has it pointed the sarcasm of the blasphemer,
mingled an occasional sadness with the hopes of benevolence, and tinged
the devotion of the thoughtful with a somewhat melancholy trust. The
whole history of speculative religion is one prolonged effort of the
human mind to destroy this contrariety; system after system has been
born in the struggle to cast the oppression off,--with what result, it
will be my object at present to explain. The question which we have to
consider is this, "How should a Christian think of the origin and
existence of evil?" I propose to advert, first, to the speculative;
secondly, to the scriptural; thirdly, to the moral relations of the
subject; to inquire what relief we can obtain from philosophical
schemes, from biblical doctrine, and from practical Christianity.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us then, for final decision, consult the practical spirit of
Christianity, and ascertain to what view of the origin of sin it
awards the preference. Is it well for the consciences and characters
of men, to consider God--either directly or through his dependant,
Satan, either by his general laws or by vitiating the constitution of
our first parents--as the primary source of moral evil? _or_, on the
contrary, to regard it as in no sense whatever willed by the Supreme
Mind, and absolutely inimical to his Providence? Are we most in
harmony with the characteristic spirit of the Gospel when we call sin
his instrument, or when we call it his enemy? For myself, I can never
sit at the feet of Jesus, and yield up a reverential heart to his
great lessons, without casting myself on the persuasion, that God and
evil are everlasting foes; that never, and for no end, did he create
it; that his will is utterly against it, nor ever touches it, but with
annihilating force. Any other view appears to be injurious to the
characteristic sentiments, and at variance with the distinguishing
genius, of Christian morality.

(1.) Christianity is distinguished by the profound sentiment of
_individual responsibility_ which pervades it. All the arbitrary forms,
and sacerdotal interpositions, and hereditary rights, through which
other systems seek the Divine favor, are disowned by it. It is a
religion eminently _personal_; establishing the most intimate and
solitary dealings between God and every human soul. It is a religion
eminently _natural_; eradicating no indigenous affection of our mind,
distorting no primitive moral sentiment; but simply consecrating the
obligations proper to our nature, and taking up with a divine voice the
whispers, scarce articulate before, of the conscience within us. In this
deep harmony with our inmost consciousness of duty resides the true
power of our religion. It subdues and governs our hearts, as a wise
conqueror rules the empire he has won; not by imposing a system of
strange laws, but by arming with higher authority, and administering
with more resolute precision, the laws already recognized and revered.

To trifle in any way with this plain and solemn principle, to invent
forms of speech tending to conceal it, to apply to moral good and ill
language which assimilates them to physical objects and exchangeable
property, implies frivolous and irreverent ideas of sin and
excellence. The whole weight of this charge evidently falls on the
scheme which speaks of human guilt as an hereditary entail; a scheme
which shocks and confounds our primary notion of right and wrong, and,
by rendering them impersonal qualities, reduces them to empty names.
No construction can be given to the system, which does not pass this
insult on the conscience. In what sense do we share the guilt of our
progenitor? His concession to temptation did not occur within our
mind, or belong in any way to our history. And if, without
participation in the _act_ of wrong, we are to have its _penalties_,
crimes in the planet Saturn may be expected to shower curses on the
earth; for why may not justice go astray in space, as reasonably as in
time? If nothing more be meant, than that from our first parents we
inherit a constitution _liable_ to intellectual error and moral
transgression,--still it is evident that, _until_ this liability takes
actual effect, no sin exists, but only its possibility; and _when_ it
takes effect, there is just so much guilt, and no more, than might be
committed by the individual's will: so that where there is _no_
volition, as in infancy, cruelty only could inflict punishment; and
where there is _pure_ volition, as in many a good passage of the
foulest life, equity itself could not withhold approval.

(2.) I submit as a second distinguishing feature of practical
Christianity, that it makes no great, certainly no exclusive, appeal
to the _prudential feelings_, as instruments of duty; treats them as
morally incapable of so sacred a work; and relies, chiefly and
characteristically, on affections of the heart, which no motives of
reward and punishment can have the smallest tendency to excite.

The Gospel, indeed, like all things divine, is unsystematic and
unbound by technical distinctions, and makes no metaphysical
separation between the will and the affections. It is too profoundly
adapted to our nature, not to address itself copiously to both. The
doctrine of retribution, being a solemn truth, appears with all its
native force in the teachings of Christ, and arms many of his appeals
with a persuasion just and terrible. But never was there a religion
(containing these motives at all) so frugal in the use of them; so
able, on fit occasions, to dispense with them; so rich in those
inimitable touches of moral beauty, and tones that penetrate the
conscience, and generous trust in the better sympathies, which
distinguish a morality of the affections. In Christ himself, where is
there a trace of the obedience of pious self-interest, computing its
everlasting gains, and making out a case for compensation, by
submitting to infinite wisdom? In his character, which is the
impersonation of his religion, we surely have a perfect image of
spontaneous goodness, unhaunted by the idea of personal enjoyment,
and, like that of God, unbidden but by the intuitions of conscience
and the impulses of love. And what teacher less divine ever made such
high and bold demands on our disinterestedness? To lend out our virtue
upon interest, to "love them only who love us," he pronounced to be
the sinners' morality; nor was the feeling of duty ever reached, but
by those who could "do good, hoping for _nothing_ again," except that
greatest of rewards to a true and faithful heart, to be "the children
of the Highest," who "is kind unto the unthankful and the evil." In
the view of Jesus, all dealings between God and men were not of
bargain, but of affection. We must surrender ourselves to him without
terms; must be ashamed to doubt him who feeds the birds of the air,
and, like the lily of the field, look up to him with a bright and
loving eye; and he, for our much love, will pity and forgive us. In
his own ministry, how much less did our Lord rely for disciples on the
cogency of mere proof, and the inducements of hope and fear, than on
the power of moral sympathy, by which every one that was of God
naturally loved him and heard his words; by which the good shepherd
knew his sheep, and they listened to his voice, and followed him; and
without which no man could come unto him, for no spirit of the Father
drew him. No condition of discipleship did Christ impose, save that of
"faith in him"; absolute trust in the spirit of his mind; a desire of
self-abandonment to a love and fidelity like his, without tampering
with expediency, or hesitancy in peril, or shrinking from death.

There is, then, a wide variance between the genius of Christianity,
and that philosophy which teaches that all men must be bought over to
the side of goodness and of God, by a price suited to their particular
form of selfishness and appetite for pleasure. Our religion is
remarkable for the large confidence it reposes on the disinterested
affections, and the vast proportion of the work of life it consigns to
them. And in thus seeking to subordinate and tranquillize the
prudential feelings, Christ manifested how well he knew what was in
man. He recognized the truth, which all experience declares, that in
these emotions is nothing great, nothing lovable, nothing powerful;
that their energy is perpetually found incapable of withstanding the
impetuosity of passion; and that all transcendent virtues, all that
brings us to tremble or to kneel, all the enterprises and conflicts
which dignify history, and have stamped any new feature on human life,
have had their origin in the disinterested region of the mind,--in
affections unconsciously entranced by some object sanctifying and
divine. He knew, for it was his special mission to make all men feel,
that it is the office of true religion to cleanse the sanctuary of the
secret affections, and effect a regeneration of the heart. And this is
a task which no direct _nisus_ of the will can possibly accomplish,
and to which, therefore, all offers of reward and punishment,
operating only on the will, are quite inapplicable. The single
function of volition is _to act_; over the executive part of our
nature it is supreme, over the emotional it is powerless; and all the
wrestlings of desire for self-cure and self-elevation, are like the
struggles of a child to lift himself. He who is anxious to be a
philanthropist, is admiring benevolence, instead of loving men; and
whoever is laboring to warm his devotions, yearns after piety, not
after God. The mind can by no spasmodic bound seize on a new height of
emotion, or change the light in which objects appear before its view.
Persuade the judgment, bribe the self-interests, terrify the
expectations, as you will, you can neither dislodge a favorite, nor
enthrone a stranger, in the heart. Show me a child that flings an
affectionate arm around a parent, and lights up his eyes beneath her
face, and I know that there have been no lectures there upon filial
love; but that the mother, being lovable, has _of necessity_ been
loved; for to genial minds it is as impossible to withhold a pure
affection, when its object is presented, as for the flower to sulk
within the mould, and clasp itself tight within the bud, when the
gentle force of spring invites its petals to curl out into the warm
light. As you reverence all good affections of our nature, and desire
to awaken them, never call them duties, though they be so; for so
doing, you address yourself to the will; and by hard trying no
attachment ever entered the heart. Never preach on their great
desirableness and propriety; for so doing, you ask audience of the
judgment; and by way of the understanding no glow of noble passion
ever came. Never, above all, reckon up their balance of good and ill;
for so doing, you exhort self-interest; and by that soiled way no true
love will consent to pass. Nay, never talk of them, nor even gaze
curiously at them; for if they be of any worth and delicacy, they will
be instantly looked out of countenance and fly. Nothing worthy of
human veneration will condescend to be embraced, but for its own sake:
grasp it for its excellent results,--make but the faintest offer to
use it as a tool, and it slips away at the very conception of such
insult. The functions of a healthy body go on, not by knowledge of
physiology, but by the instinctive vigor of nature; and you will no
more brace the spiritual faculties to noble energy and true life by
study of the uses of every feeling, than you can train an athlete for
the race by lectures on every muscle of every limb. The mind is not
voluntarily active in the acquisition of any great idea, any new
inspiration of faith; but passive, fixed on the object which has
dawned upon it, and filled it with fresh light.

If this be true, and if it be the object of practical Christianity,
not only to direct our hands aright, but to inspire our hearts, then
can its ends never be achieved by the mere force of reward and
punishment; then no system can prove its sufficiency by showing that
it retains the doctrine of retribution, and must even be held
convicted of moral incompetency, if it trusts the conscience mainly to
the prudential feelings, without due provision for enlisting the
co-operation of many a disinterested affection.

We cannot refrain from affording those into whose hands this volume
will go, the pleasure and the lofty encouragement which they must
derive from the perusal of an extract on


It is a law of Providence in communities, that ideas shall be
propagated downwards through the several gradations of minds. They
have their origin in the suggestions of genius, and the meditations of
philosophy; they are assimilated by those who can admire what is great
and true, but cannot originate; and thence they are slowly infused
into the popular mind. The rapidity of the process may vary in
different times, with the facilities for the transmission of thought,
but its order is constant. Temporary causes may shield the inferior
ranks of intelligence from the influence of the superior; fanaticism
may interpose for a while with success; a want of the true spirit of
sympathy between the instructors and the instructed may check by a
moral repulsion the natural radiation of intellect;--but, in the end,
Providence will re-assert its rule; and the conceptions born in the
quiet heights of contemplation will precipitate themselves on the busy
multitudes below. This principle interprets history and presages
futurity. It shows us in the popular feeling and traditions of one
age, a reflection from the philosophy of a preceding; and from the
prevailing style of sentiment and speculation among the cultivated
classes now, it enables us to foresee the spirit of a coming age. Nor
only to foresee it, but to exercise over it a power, in the use of
which there is a grave responsibility. If we are far-sighted in our
views of improvement; if we are ambitious less of immediate and
superficial effects than of the final and deep-seated agency of
generous and holy principles; if our love of opinions is a genuine
expression of the disinterested love of truth;--we shall remember who
are the teachers of futurity; we shall appeal to those, within whose
closets God is already computing the destinies of remote
generations,--men at once erudite and free, men who have the materials
of knowledge with which to determine the great problems of morals and
religion, and the genius to think and imagine and feel, without let or
hinderance of hope or fear.

We linger over the pages from which the preceding selections have been
made, unwilling to end our grateful task of love. But one quotation
more must be the last. With it we commend these Studies of
Christianity, these timely thoughts for religious thinkers, to the
candid and affectionate inquirers within all sects, confident that, so
far as the work obtains a fit reception, it will exert that purifying,
liberalizing, and sanctifying power which is the genuine influence of


The sectarian state of theology in this country cannot but be regarded
as eminently unnatural. Its cold and hard ministrations are entirely
alien to the wants of the popular mind, which, except under the
discipline of artificial influences, is always most awake to generous
impressions. Its malignant exclusiveness is a perversion of the natural
veneration of the human heart, which, except where it is interfered with
by narrow and selfish systems, pours itself out, not in hatred towards
anything that lives, but in love to the invisible objects of trust and
hope. Its disputatious trifling is an insult to the sanctity of
conscience, which, except where it is betrayed into oblivion of its
delicate and holy office, supplicates of religion, not a new ferocity of
dogmatism, but an enlargement and refinement of its sense of right. It
is the temper of sectarianism to seize on every deformity of every
creed, and exhibit this caricature to the world's gaze and aversion. It
is the spirit of the soul's natural piety to alight on whatever is
beautiful and touching in every faith, and take there its secret draught
of pure and fresh emotion. It is the passages of poetry and pathos in a
system, which alone can lay a strong hold on the general mind and give
them permanence; and even the wild fictions which have endeared Romanism
to the hearts of so many centuries, possess their elements of tenderness
and magnificence. The fundamental principle of one who would administer
religion to the minds of his fellow-men should be, that all that has
ever been extensively venerated must possess ingredients that are
venerable. If, in the spirit of sectarianism, he sees nothing in it but
absurdity, it only proves that he does not see it all; it must have an
aspect, which he has not yet caught, that awes the imagination, or
touches the affections, or moves the conscience; and those who receive
it neither will nor should abandon it, till something is substituted,
not only more consonant with the reason, but more awakening to these
higher faculties of soul. Hence, a rigid accuracy and logical
penetration of mind, the power of detecting and exposing error, are not
the only qualities needed by the religious reformer; and in a deep and
reverential sympathy with human feelings, a quick perception of the
great and beautiful, a promptitude to cast himself into the minds of
others, and gaze through their eyes at the objects which they love, he
will find the instrument of the sublimest intellectual power. The
precise logician may sit eternally in the centre of his own circle of
correct ideas, and preach demonstrably the folly of the world's
superstitions; yet he will never affect the thoughts of any but
marble-minded beings like himself. He disregards the fine tissue of
emotions that clings round the objects which he so harshly handles; and
has yet to learn the art of preserving its fabric unimpaired, while he
enfolds within it something more worthy for it to foster and adore.

As, then, it is to the moral and imaginative powers of the human mind
that religion chiefly attaches itself, as it is by these that the want
of it is most strongly felt, so is it to these that its ministrations
should be, for the most part, addressed. While theologians are
discussing the evidences of creeds, let teachers be conducting them to
their applications. Let their respective resources of feeling and
conception be unfolded before the soul of mankind; let it be tried
what mental energy they can inspire, what purity of moral perception
infuse, what dignity of principle erect, what toils of philanthropy
sustain. Thus would arise a new criterion of judgment between
differing systems; for that system must possess most truth which
creates the most intelligence and virtue. Thus would the deeper
devotional wants of society be no longer mocked by the privilege of
choice among a few captious, verbal, and precise forms of belief.
Thus, too, would the alienation which repels sect from sect give place
to an incipient and growing sympathy; for when high intellect and
excellence approach and stand in meek homage beneath the cross, how
soon are the jarring voices of disputants hushed in the stillness of
reverence! Who does not feel the refreshment, when some stream of
pure poetry, like Heber's, winds into the desert of theology! when
some flash of genius, like that of Chalmers, darts through its dull
atmosphere! some strains of eloquence, like those of Channing, float
from a distance on its heavy silence!

Such, then, are the objects which should be contemplated by those who,
in the present times, aim at the reformation of religious
sentiment;--first, the elevation of theology as an intellectual
pursuit; secondly, the better application of religion as a moral
influence. Both these objects are directly or indirectly promoted by
the Association whose cause I am privileged to advocate. It aids the
first, by the distribution of many a work, the production of such
minds as must redeem theology from contempt. It advances the second,
by establishing union and sympathy among those whose first principles
are in direct contradiction to all that is sectarian, and who desire
only to emancipate the understanding from all that enfeebles, and the
heart from all that narrows it. The triumph of its doctrines would be,
not the ascendency of one sect, but the harmony of all. Let but the
diversities which separate Christians retire, and the truths which
they all profess to love advance to prominence, and, whatever may
become of party names, our aims are fulfilled, and our satisfaction is
complete. When faith in the paternity of God shall have kindled an
affectionate and lofty devotion; when the vision of immortality,
imparted by Christ's resurrection, shall have created that spirit of
duty which was the holiest inspiration of his life; when the sincere
recognition of human brotherhood shall have supplanted all exclusive
institutions, and banded society together under the vow of mutual aid
and the hope of everlasting progress, our work will be done, our
reward before us, and our little community of reformers lost in the
wide fraternity of enlightened and benevolent men.

The day is yet distant, and can be won only by the toil of earnest and
faithful minds. In the mean while, it is no light solace to see that
the tendencies of Providence are towards its accelerated approach. And
however dispiriting may sometimes be the variety and conflicts of
human sentiment,--however remote the dissonance of controversy from
that harmony of will which would seem essential to perfected society,
it is through this very process that the great ends of improvement are
to be attained. Hereafter it will be seen, much more clearly than we
can see it now, that opinion generates knowledge. Like the ethereal
waves, whose inconceivable rapidity and number are said to impart the
sensation of vision, the undulations of opinion are speeding on to
produce the perception of truth. They are the infinitely complex and
delicate movements of that universal Human Mind, whose quiescence is
darkness,--whose agitation, light.

To the fit and numerous readers whom we trust they will find, these
papers are now submitted, in the earnest hope that the author will at
no distant day follow them with some more systematic and rounded
survey of the same great subject,--the components and developments of

      W. R. A.



If unity be the character of truth, no generation was ever so far gone
in errors as our own: nor is the weariness surprising, with which
statesmen and philosophers turn away from the Babel of Divinity, and, in
despair of scaling the heavens, apply themselves to found and adorn the
politics of this world. But the confusion of tongues is too positive and
obtrusive a fact to be escaped by mere retreat: it bids defiance to
polite evasion: it pursues life into every public place and private
haunt; invades the home, the school, the college, the court, the
legislature; and, besides the problems which it fails to solve,
constitutes in itself a new one, not undeserving the closest study and
reflection. To the believers in doctrinal finality, who imagine the
whole sacred economy to be settled by a documentary revelation, the
reopening of every question, down to the very basis of religious faith,
must be an appalling phenomenon, charging either failure on the presumed
designs of God or a traitorous perversity on even the most gifted and
upright of men. And not a whit better is the conclusion of a conceited
illuminism, which, either boldly recalling the human mind to the
sciences of induction, despises all faith as false alike; or, conscious
at least of its own incompetency, pleases itself with a more indulgent
scepticism, and accepts them all as true. If no better revenge can be
taken on pious dogmatism than by falling into the cant of an eclectic
neutrality or an impious despair, there is little encouragement for any
high-minded man to take part against the bigotries of the present on
behalf of sickly negations in the future. The world is better left in
the hands of the poorest interpreter of Paul, and most degenerate heirs
of Augustine and Pascal, than transferred to the dialectic of Proclus or
the materialism of the living "_Fondateur de la Religion de
l'Humanité_."[1] There are those, however, who deny that we are left to
any such alternative; who cannot conceive that human aspirations after
divine reality shall for ever pine and sigh in vain; who contend that
objective truth in reference to morals and religion is attainable, and
has been largely attained;--and who, accordingly, despairing of neither
philosophy nor Christianity, require only the free intercommunion of the
two to appreciate the contradictions of the present without foregoing
the hope of greater unity in the future. The controversies of the hour
are but ill understood by one who remains enclosed within them, and
judges them only on their own assumptions. Like a village brawl, which,
with only the sound of vulgar noise, may be the ripe fruit of oppression
and the germ of revolution, they have an assigned place in the unfolding
of modern civilization; and not till their place is computed in the life
of the human race, and the law which brings them up in our age is
observed, can their real significance be apprehended, and all anger at
their clamorous littleness be lost in hope of their ulterior issues.
Regarded from this higher point, the surface of religious belief in
England, at first sight a mere troubled fermentation of struggling
elements, betrays some organic principle of order, and many salient
points of promise.

We hazard no theory of religion in saying that there is a natural
correspondence between the genius of a people and the form of their
belief. Each mood of mind brings its own wants and aspirations, colors
its own ideal, and interprets best that part of life and the universe
with which it is in sympathy. John Knox would have been misplaced in
Athens, and Tanler could not have lived on the moralism of Kant. No
doubt the ultimate seat of human faith lies deep down below the special
propensities of individuals or tribes,--in a consciousness and faculty
common to the race. But ere it comes to the surface, and disengages
itself in a concrete shape, its type and color will be affected by the
strata of thought and feeling through which it emerges into the light.
Without pretending to an exhaustive classification, we find four chief
temperaments of mind expressed in the theologies and scepticisms of
civilized Europe: the quest of physical _order_, the sense of _right_,
the instinct of _beauty_, and the consciousness of tempestuous
_impulses_ carrying the will off its feet. Variously blended in the
characters of average persons, these tendencies are liable to separate
their intensities, and severally dominate almost alone in minds of great
force and periods of special action or reaction. Were each left to
itself to form its own unaided creed, the doctrine of mere Science would
be _atheistic_; of Conscience, _theistic_; of Art, _pantheistic_; of
Passion, _sacrificial_. The evidence of this distribution of tendencies
is equally conclusive, whether we look to its rational ground or to its
historical exemplification; and a few words on each head will suffice to
clear and justify it.

Notwithstanding some occasional attempts to exhibit natural theology as
a necessary extension of natural philosophy, it is plain that the
maxims, which are ultimate for physical Science, stop short of contact
with Religion; that the final appeal of the two is carried to different
faculties; and that the scope and sphere of the one may be complete
without borrowing any conception from the other. The assumption, for
instance, that "we can know nothing but _phenomena_," directly excludes
all permanent and eternal Being as the possible object of rational
thought. And as "phenomena" are apprehensible only by the _observing_
faculties, whatever refuses to put in an appearance in _their_ court is
nonsuited as an unreality. And again, physical knowledge has
accomplished its aim, as soon as it can predict all the successions that
lie within its field of time and space; and nowhere in this system of
series, nor in the calculated forces which yield it to the view, does
any divine _Person_ look in upon the mind. Whoever, by the restraints of
a hypothetical necessity, detains his intellect _within_ nature, debars
himself _ipso facto_ from any faith that _transcends_ nature, and
recognizes no reserve of _super_natural possibilities, hidden in a Mind
of which the actual universe is but the finite expression. We do not, of
course, intend to affirm that scientific culture cannot coexist with
religious belief;--so preposterous an assertion would be confuted by a
manifold experience;--but only that, where the canons of inductive
knowledge are invested with unconditional universality, and are
logically carried out as valid for all thought, they shut the door upon
the sources of faith. It is the old battle, of which history supplies
such abundant illustration; which brought Parmenides and Protagoras upon
the lists at opposite ends on the field of philosophy; which Bacon
profoundly avoided by assigning separate empires, without common
boundary, to science and religion; but which his modern disciples have
rashly renewed, by invading the realm left sacred by him. Uneasy
relations have always subsisted in Christendom between the investigators
of nature and the trustees of the faith: the men of science rarely
quitting, unless for signs of unequivocal aversion, the attitude of
polite indifference to the Church; and in their turn watched with the
jealous eye of sacerdotal vigilance. It is no untrue instinct that has
hitherto maintained them in this posture of mutual suspicion: to
exchange which for a hearty and intelligent reverence for each other is
an achievement reserved for a higher philosophy than we yet possess.

As Science pays homage to the _force of nature_, so Conscience
enthrones the _law of right_. The conscious subject of moral
obligation feels himself under a rule neither self-imposed and
fictitious, nor foreign and coercive;--neither a home invention nor an
outward necessity;--a rule invisible, authoritative, awful; carrying
with it an _alternative_ irreducible to the linear dynamics of the
physical world; incapable of being felt but by a free mind, or of
being given but by another. He is aware that his will follows a call
of duty not at all as his body adapts itself to the force of
gravitation; and as within him the conscientious obedience wholly
differs from the corporeal, so in the universe of realities beyond him
does the moral legislation differ from the natural, and express the
will of a person, not a mere constitution of things. No ethical
conceptions are possible at all,--except as floating shreds of
unattached thought,--without a religious background; and the sense of
responsibility, the agony of shame, the inner reverence for justice,
first find their meaning and vindication in a supreme holiness that
rules the world. Nor can any one be penetrated with the distinction
between right and wrong, without recognizing it as valid for all free
beings, and incapable of local or arbitrary change. His feeling
insists on its permanent recognition and omnipresent sway; and this
unity in the Moral Law carries him to the unity of the Divine
Legislator. Theism is thus the indispensable postulate of
conscience,--its objective counterpart and justification, without
which its inspirations would be illusions, and its veracities
themselves a lie. To adduce historical proofs of this conjunction is
at once difficult and superfluous in a world whose theism is almost
all of one stock. But it will not be forgotten that Socrates, in whom
Greek religion culminated, avowedly based his reform on the
substitution of moral for physical studies. It is undeniable too that,
in spite of their fatalism, the monotheistic Mohammedans have been
surpassed by few nations in their sense of truth and fidelity; and
that wherever the same type of belief has been approached by Christian
sects, the heresy has been said to arise from an exaggerated estimate
of the moral law.

Art, we have said, is _pantheistic_. Its aim, often unconsciously
present, is to read off the _expressiveness_ of things, and find what
it is which they would speak with their silent look. To its
perceptions, form, color, sound, motion, have a soul within them whose
life and activity they represent: and even language, by flinging
itself into the mould of rhythm and music, acquires, beyond its
logical significance, a second meaning for the affections. As if waked
up and tingling beneath the artist's loving gaze, matter lies dull
and dead no more; opens on him a responding eye; communes with him
from its steadfast brow; and becomes instinct with grace or majesty.
Instead of being the drag-weight and opposite of spiritual energies,
it becomes to him their pliant medium, the docile clay for the shapes
of finest thought, the brilliant palette for the spread of inmost
feeling. He melts the barrier away that hides from mere sense and
intellect the interior sentiment--the formative idea--of all visible
things; and his glance of sympathy changes them not less than a burst
of amber sunrise changes a leaden landscape and picks out the freshest
smiles. Thus he finds himself in a _living_ universe, ever striving to
show him a divine beauty that lurks within and presses to the surface;
and he stands before a curtain only half opaque, watching the lights
and shadows thrown on it from behind by the ceaseless play of infinite
thought. Not that the interpretation is by any means self-evident, or
accessible except to the apprehensive instinct of sympathy. For it
seems as though no form of being, no object in creation, could ever
represent completely its own type: something is lost from its
perfection in the realization; and the actual, falling short of the
ideal, can give it only to one for whom a hint suffices. This
conception of the world as an incarnate divineness does not, we are
well aware, amount to pantheism, unless it become all-comprehensive,
so as to take in not simply physical nature, but the human life and
will; and there are numbers who are saved from this extreme, either by
knowing where to draw the lines of philosophical distinction, or by
the natural force of _moral_ conviction restraining the absolutism of
imagination. But so far forth as the tendency operates, it substitutes
for the theistic reverence for a Holy _Will_ the pantheistic
recognition of a Creative _Beauty_, and presents God to the mind less
as the prototype of Conscience than as the apotheosis of Genius. The
spontaneity of poetic action is supposed to illustrate His procedure
better than the preferential decisions of the moral sentiment; and the
genesis of whatever is good and fair is referred not so much to
deliberate plan as to the eternal interfusion and circulation,
through the great whole, of a Divine Essence, which flings off the
universe and its history as a mere natural language. That this is the
religion of art, is proved by the literature of every creative period,
Greek, Italian, or Teutonic; and negatively by the comparative absence
of artistic feeling and production in ages and nations that have most
intensified at once the Unity and the Personality of God. Beauty was
the Bible of Athens; and Plato, its devoutest and most comprehensive
expounder, shows everywhere, in his metaphysics, his morals, and his
myths, the mould into which its faith inevitably falls.

In _passionate and impulsive_ natures there is a self-contradiction
which makes their religious tendency peculiarly difficult to describe.
They are not less conscious than others of moral distinctions, and own
the sacred authority of the better invitation over the worse. Indeed,
when surprised into a fall, their remorse shares the vehemence of all
their emotions, and from the black shadow in which they sit, the
sanctity of the law which they have violated looks ineffably bright;
and they speak of its holy requirements, and of the infinite purity of
the Divine Legislator, in such fervid tone, that whatever else they
may endanger, the perfection of God's character, you feel assured, and
the obligations of human morality, are secure of reverential
maintenance. Yet the truth is precisely the reverse. At the very
moment that the law of duty is thus loftily extolled, it is on the
point of total subversion; lifted to a height precarious and unreal,
it overbalances on the other side and disappears. For the very same
stormy intensity which makes these men strong to feel the claim of
good, makes them weak to obey it. Their personality wants solidity;
and an atmosphere of tempestuous affections sweeps over it like a
hurricane on water. They can do nothing from out of their own
resolves, and are for ever drawn or driven from the fortress they were
not to surrender. What remains for them, solicited thus by forces
which are an overmatch for their just self-reliance? Is it surprising
that they no sooner confess how they _ought_ to obey, than they
declare that they _cannot_ obey? The thing is a contradiction; but it
all the better for this expresses what _they_ are: with their centre
of gravity in the wrong place, they cannot but hold the truth in
unstable equilibrium. Repose on contradiction is, however, impossible;
and the necessary result of these co-existent feelings of obligation
and incapacity is a _substitute_ for obedience. The resort to
_sacrifice_ which thus arose expressed no more, prior to the Christian
era, than the sentiment, "Take this, O Lord, 't is all I have to
give"; and afforded but a fictitious relief to the laboring spirit. It
acknowledged and attested the incompetency of the will, but made no
use of the excess of the emotions. It was the Pauline doctrine of
faith which first turned this great power to account; and virtually
said, "Are you in slavery because you cannot manage your affections?
turn their trust and enthusiasm on Christ in heaven, and let them
_manage_ you, and you shall be free." The soul that falls in love with
immortal goodness rises above the region of ineffectual strife, and
spontaneously offers what could never be extorted from the will by the
lash of self-mortifying resolve. This is the truth which underlies the
sacrificial doctrine in Christian times,--_the emancipating power of
great trusts and high inspirations_; and its very nature indicates its
birth from impassioned temperaments, and its affinity with their
special wants. The vicarious sacrifice is a mere plea, an ideal point
of attraction, for a profound allegiance of heart; which minds of this
class would hardly yield without an intense appeal to their
_gratitude_; but which, if really awakened by a clear and tranquil
moral reverence, would no less triumph over the gravitation of self.
The one needful condition for the redemption of these natures is the
objective presence and action upon them of a divine person to lift
them clear out of themselves, and render back on the healing breath of
trust the strength that only pants itself away in feverish effort.
Every doctrine of sacrifice necessarily contradicts its own premises;
because for guilt, which is personal and inalienable, it offers a
compensation which is foreign, and meets a moral ill with an unmoral
remedy. True and sound as a mere confession of weakness, it runs off
from that point into mere confusion and morbidness. But add to it the
doctrine of faith, and it acquires its proper complement; balances its
human disclaimer with a divine resource; and instead of sending its
captive through dark labyrinths of vain experiment, opens a direct way
from the chambers of humiliation to the prophet's watch-tower of
prayer and vision. Without this complement, the doctrine created
priesthoods; with it, destroys them. Without it, men are caught up in
their moments of helplessness, and handed over to ritual quackeries;
with it, they are seized in their hour of inspiration, and flung into
the arms of God. The susceptibility for either treatment depends on
the predominance of impulse and passion over breadth of imagination
and strength of will. In short, there are minds whose power is shed,
if we may say so, in _pro_tension, precipitated forwards in narrow
channels with impetuous torrent. There are others whose affluence is
in _ex_tension, and spreads out like a still lake to drink in light
from the open sky, and reflect the look of wide-encircling hills. And
there are others yet again, whose character is _in_tension, and that
move on in full volume, and with steady stream of tendency, rising and
falling little with the seasons, and holding to the limits within
which they are to go. The faith of the first is _sacrificial_; of the
second, _pantheistic_; of the third, _theistic_.

Of the four cardinal tendencies we have named, the _scientific_ has
never been provided for within the interior of Christianity; whose
organic life and structure are complete without it. It remains,
therefore, sullenly on the outside, without renouncing at present its
atheistic propensions: and the part it has played, however important,
has been that of external check and antagonism, in the assertion of
neglected rights of knowledge, and slighted interests of mankind. This
cannot possibly continue for ever; nor is it at all consistent with
experience to suppose, that either of the opponent influences will
obtain a victory over the other. Their reconcilement, through the
mediation and within the compass of some third and more comprehensive
conception, is a task remaining for the philosophy and charity of the
future. We feel no doubt that it will be accomplished; and will spare us
that revolutionary extermination of theology and metaphysics which is
proclaimed, on behalf of positive science, by the self-appointed
Committee of the "République Occidentale." The other three tendencies
early worked their way into the Christian religion, and vindicated a
place within its organism. Indeed, the historical genesis of the
Catholic Church consists of little else, on the inner side of dogma and
ethics, than the successive and successful self-assertion of each of
these principles; and, on the outer side of ecclesiastical polity, than
the construction of a social framework which held them in co-existence
till the sixteenth century. The genius of three distinct peoples
conspired to fill up the measure of the early faith; and each brought
with it a separate constituent. The Hebrew believer contributed his
theistic conscience; the Hellenic, his pantheistic speculation; the
Romanic, his passionate appropriation of redemption by faith. The
elements were, from the first, mixed and struggling together; so that
the phenomena of no period, probably of no place, serve to show them
disengaged from one another and insulated. But the Ebionitish period,
with its rigorous monachism, its historical and human Christ, its
scrupulous asceticism, its sternness against wealth, represents the
_ethical_ principle in its excess. The Logos idea, and indeed the whole
development of the Trinitarian doctrine, exhibits the effort of the
_Greek_ thought to obtain recognition, and qualify the Judaic. And the
_Augustinian_ theology, pleading the wants of fervid natures, on whose
surface the web of moral doctrines alights only to be shrivelled and
disappear, completes the triad of agencies from whose confluence the
faith of Christendom arose. In the Catholic system the three ingredients
unite in one composite result; and hence the tenacity with which that
system keeps possession of the most various types of human character,
and, baffled by the spirit of one age, returns with the reaction of
another. The ethical feeling finds satisfaction in its theory of human
nature; the pantheistic, in its scheme of supernatural grace; the
sacrificial, in its conditions of redemption. Through the realism of
the mediæval schools, its eucharistic doctrine, which is only the
theological side of that philosophical conception, becomes a direct
transfusion of Hellenic influence into the Church. And its faith in
perpetual inspiration, in the unbroken chain of physical miracle, in the
ceaseless mingling of sacramental mystery with the very substance of
this world, so far softens and diffuses the concentrated personality of
the Divine Essence, as to indulge the free fancy of art. Nor can we deny
the same capacity of beauty to its hierarchy of holy natures,--from the
village saint, through the heavenly angels, to the Son of God,--all
blended in living sympathies that cross and recross the barriers of
worlds. This comprehensive adaptation to the exigencies of mankind is a
reasonable object of admiration. But nothing can be more absurd than the
appeal to it in proof either of preternatural guidance, or of human
artifice, in the constitutive process of the Roman Church. There is
nothing very surprising in the fact, that a system which is the product
of three factors should contain them all. No doubt if these factors are,
as we contend, primary and indestructible features of our unperverted
nature, no religion can be divine and completely true which refuses to
take any of them up; and this _one_ condition of the future faith we may
learn from the Christendom of the past. The condition, however, must be
satisfied otherwise than by the strange congeries of profound truths and
puerile fancies which is dignified by the name of "Catholic doctrine."

For, be it observed, this system has no intrinsic and necessary unity,
which would hold it together when abandoned to the free action of the
mind, whose requirements it is said to meet. It has something for
conscience, something for art, something for passion, each in its
turn; but it is not a whole that can satisfy all together. Its
contents, gathered by successive experiences, cohere through the
external grasp of a sacerdotal corporation; and if that hand be
paralyzed or relaxed, it becomes evident at once how little they have
grown together. Hence the phenomena of the sixteenth century, whose
revolt was the expression, not of theological dissent, but of
ecclesiastical disgust; and in which doctrine only accidentally fell
to pieces, because the authority that guarded and wielded it became
too rotten to be believed in. The secondary revolution, however, was
incomparably more momentous than the primary. The treasured seeds that
dropped from the shattered casket of the Church had to germinate again
in the fresh soil of the richer European mind; and the great year of
their development is still upon its round. The outward dictation of
the Apostolic See being discarded, it became necessary to find another
clew to divine truth; and the inner wants of the human soul and the
passing age came into play, with no restraint within the ample scope
of Scripture. A reconstitution of Christianity began,--on the basis,
no doubt, of materials already accumulated,--more eclectic, therefore,
and less creative, than in the infancy of the religion; but
proceeding, nevertheless, by the same law, and commencing a similar
cycle. The _order_ of development in this second life of Christendom
has not been the same as in the first; but the stages, though
transposed, do not differ taken one by one. It is only this,--that
whilst in the formation of the faith the dominant influences were
Conscience, Art, and Passion, in its Re-formation they are Passion,
Conscience, Art. At the moment when Luther shattered the fabric of
pretended unity, and compelled the husk to shed its kernels, the
season and the field were unfavorable to two out of the three, and
they lay dormant till more genial times. The _moral_ element had been
discredited by the casuistry of the confessional, the "treasure of the
Church," and the trade in meritorious works; and, decked in these vile
trappings, was flung away in generous disgust. The _æsthetic_ element
had become so paganized in Italy, and was so identified with the
reproduction of the very tastes and vices, the thought and style, nay,
even the mythology itself, which the primitive religion had expelled
as the work of demons, that the new piety shrank from it, and let it
alone. In an age when episcopates were won by an ear for hexameters or
a Ciceronian Latinity, when priests defended materialism in Tusculan
disputations, when popes frequented the comic theatre and Plautus was
acted in the Vatican, when the proceeds of a purgatorial traffic were
spent in destroying ancient basilicas and raising heathenish temples
over the sepulchres of saints, it was inevitable that beauty should
become suspected by sanctity. There remained, yet unspoiled by the
adoption of a corrupt generation, the _impetuous_ devotion and
tremendous theory of Augustine; and this, accordingly, was the
direction in which the whole early Reformation advanced. It was not
the accident that Luther was an Augustinian monk, which determined the
character of his movement. The sickened soul of Europe could breathe
no other air. Emaciated with the mockery of spiritual aliment,
revolting at the chopped straw and apples of Sodom that had been given
for fruit from the tree of life, it sighed for escape from this
choking discipline into some region fresh with the mountain breath of
faith and love, and not quite barren of "angels' food." The burdened
moral sense, so long deluded and abused, reduced to self-conscious
dotage by vain penances and vainer promises, flung away all belief in
itself, asked leave to lay its freedom down, and went into captivity
to Christ. So exclusively did the feeling of the time flow into this
channel, that no doctrine which had an ethical groundwork, or
attempted to soften in the least the implacable hostility of nature
and grace, obtained any success; while every enthusiastic excess of
the anti-catholic ideas spread like wildfire. The irreproachable
innocence and piety of the Salzburg _Gärtner-brüder_ did nothing to
save them from quick martyrdom to their Ebionitish faith; while the
atrocities and ravings of the Anabaptists of Münster scarcely sufficed
to stop the triumph of their hideous kingdom of the saints. The
movement of the brave Zwingli, earlier and more moderate than either
Luther's or Calvin's, was easily restrained by them within the
narrowest range, whilst the Genevan Reformer, cautious and ungenial,
had but to collect his logical fuel, and kindle the terrible fire of
his dogma, and it spread from the icy chambers of his own nature and
wrapt whole kingdoms in its flames. That men without passion or
pathos themselves, who do their work by force of intellect and will,
should be successful disseminators of a doctrine that can live in no
cool air, only shows how wide was the preparation of mind, and how the
coming of this time fulfilled the long desire of nations.

The first stage, then, of the new development of Christianity was its
_Puritan_ period. The natural perdition of man, the radical corruption
of his will, the religious indifference of all his states and actions,
and the consequent worthlessness of his morality, except for civil
uses and social police, constitute the fundamental assumptions of the
system. From this basis of despair its doctrine of atonement comes to
the rescue. The obedience of Christ is accepted in place of that which
men cannot render, and his sacrifice instead of the penalty they
deserve. Not, however, for all, but for those alone who may
appropriate the deliverance by an act of faith, and present the merits
of Christ as their offering to God, with full assurance of their
sufficiency. Nothing but a divine and involuntary conversion can
generate this faith, which follows no predisposition from the
antecedent life, but the inscrutable decree of Heaven. Once
transferred from the state of nature into that of grace, the disciple
becomes, through the Holy Spirit, a new creature; is conscious of a
sacred revolution in his tastes and affections; gives evidence of this
by good works, which, now purified in their principle, are no longer
unacceptable to God; and knows that, though he is still liable to the
sins, he is redeemed from the penalties, of a son of Adam. The Church
is the body of the converted, and while the Sacrament of Baptism
initiates the candidate, and provisionally secures him, the Communion
seals his adoption afterwards; the efficacy of both being conditional
on the inner faith of the participant. The intense and unmediated
antithesis of nature and grace, and the gulf, impassable except by
miracle, between their two spheres, may be regarded as the most
characteristic feature of this scheme. Its text-book contains the
Pauline Epistles, and opens most readily at the Romans or Galatians;
and its favorite writers are Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Edwards.
With vast internal differences in their particular conceptions of
Christian truth and of ecclesiastical government, the so-called
Evangelical sects retain the impress of their common origin in the
dearth of any ethical or æsthetic element in their religion.

From this alone must have resulted the fact which a plurality of
causes has concurred in producing; viz. that the Reformation soon
(within a century and a half) reached its apparent limit of extent,
and propagated itself only internally by further evolutions of
thought. It had taken up and exhausted the class of minds to which it
was specially adapted; and after appropriating these, found itself
arrested. Under the impulse of a newly-awakened piety men are disposed
to feel that they cannot attribute too much to God; and there will
always be large numbers who, from the absorbing intensity of religious
sentiment, or the dominance of predestinarian theory, or the ill
balance of partial cultivation, abdicate all personal power of good in
favor of irreversible decrees. But as the tension relaxes or the
culture enlarges, the moral instincts reassert their existence; and
the monstrous distortions incident to any theory which denies their
authority become too repulsive to be borne. Hence a reaction, in which
the natural conscience takes the lead, and insists on obtaining that
reconciliation with God which has already been conquered for the
affections. Men in whom the sense of right and wrong is deep cannot
divest themselves of reverence for it as authoritative and divine; nor
can they truly profess that it is to them an empty voice, which,
venerable as it sounds, they are never able to obey. They know what a
difference it makes to them, in the whole peace and power of their
being, whether they are faithful or whether they are false; that this
difference belongs alike to their state of nature and their state of
grace; that it is as little possible to withhold admiration from the
magnanimity of the Pagan Socrates as from that of the Christian Paul;
and that the sentiment which compels homage to both is the same that
looks up with trust and worship to the justice and holiness of God:
how, then, can they consent to draw an unreal line of impassable
separation between ethical qualities before conversion and the very
same qualities after, and abrogate in the one case the moral
distinctions which become valid in the other? The two lives,--of earth
and heaven; the two minds,--human and divine; the two states,--nature
and grace; which it is the impulse of enthusiasm to contrast, it is
the necessity of conscience to unite. When Luther first blew up the
sacerdotal bridge which had given a path across to the steps of
centuries, the boldness of the deed and the inspiration of the time
lightened the feet of men, and enabled them to spring over with him on
the wing of faith. But when the van had passed, and the more equable
and disciplined ranks of another generation were brought to the brink,
there seemed a needless rashness in the attempt, and foundations were
discovered for a structure based on the rock of nature, and making one
province of both worlds. Even Melancthon, long as he yielded to his
leader's more powerful will, could not permanently acquiesce in the
complete extinction of human responsibility; and vindicated for the
soul a voluntary co-operation with divine grace. This semi-Pelagian
example rapidly spread; first among the later Lutherans, especially of
Brunswick and Hanover; next into the school of Leyden; and finally
into the Church and universities of England. Quick to seize the
reaction in the temper of the times, the Jesuits put themselves at the
head of the same tendency in their own communion; defended against the
Jansenists a doctrine of free-will beyond even the limits of Catholic
orthodoxy; upheld Molina against Augustine, as among the Protestants
Episcopius was gaining upon Calvin. Among patriotic theologians the
authority of the Latin Church gave way in favor of the early Christian
apologists and Greek Fathers, who knew nothing of the scheme of
decrees. Divinity, under the guidance of More and Cudworth, no longer
disdained to replenish her oil and revive her flame from the lamp of
Athenian philosophy. And the conception of a universal natural law was
elaborately worked out by Grotius. As the sixteenth century was the
period of dogmatic theology, the seventeenth was that of ethical
philosophy; the whole modern history of which lies mainly within that
limit and half a century lower; and conclusively attests the decline
of a scheme of belief incompatible with the very existence of such a
science. When the Protestantism which had produced a Farel, a Beza,
and a Whitgift, offered as its representatives Locke and Limborch,
Tillotson and Butler, the nature of the change which had come over it
declares itself. It was the revolt of moral sentiment against a
doctrine that outraged it,--the re-development, under new conditions,
of the ethical principle which had fallen neglected from the broken
seed-vessel of the Catholic faith.

The second season of the Reformation, though treated now with
unmerited disparagement, was not less worthy of admiration than the
first. High-Churchmen may be ashamed of an archbishop who proposed a
scheme of comprehension; Evangelicals, of a preacher who applauded the
Socinians; and Coleridgians, of a theologian who was no deeper in
metaphysics than the "Grotian divines"; but neither the Erastianism,
the charity, nor the common sense of a Tillotson would be at all
unsuitable at this moment to a church openly torn by dissensions and
really held together only by dependence on the state. It has been a
current opinion, perseveringly propagated by adherents of the Geneva
theology, that the spread of Arminian sentiments was equivalent to a
religious decline, and concurrent with the growth of a worldly laxity
and selfish indifference of character. The allegation is absolutely
false. In literature, in personal characteristics, and in public life,
the Latitude-men and their associates in belief bear honorable
comparison with their more rigorous forerunners. There is not only
less of passionate intolerance, but a nobler freedom from an equivocal
prudence, in the great writers of the second period, than in the
Reformers of the first: and there is more to touch the springs of
disinterestedness and elevation of mind in Cudworth and Clarke than in
Calvin and Beza. Nor did the return of ethical theory weaken the
sources of religious action. The very enterprises in which evangelical
zeal most rejoices,--missions to the heathen, and the diffusion of
the Scriptures,--were not only prosecuted but set on foot in new
directions and with more powerful instrumentalities, in the very midst
of this period, and by the very labors of its most distinguished
philosophers. The Society for the Diffusion of Christian Knowledge,
and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts,
were both born with the eighteenth century; and while the latter
addressed itself to the natives and slaves of the American provinces,
the former first made the Scriptures known on the Coromandel coast. It
was Boyle who, of all men of his age, displayed the most generous zeal
for the multiplication of the sacred writings, himself procuring their
translation into four or five languages. For thirty years he was
governor of a missionary corporation. Yet the complexion of his
theology is sufficiently indicated by the fact that he bought up
Pococke's Arabic translation of Grotius (De Veritate Christianæ
Religionis), and was at the cost of its wide distribution in the East.
And who that has ever read it can forget Swift's letter to the Irish
viceroy (Lord Carteret), introducing Bishop Berkeley (then Dean of
Derry), and his project for resigning his preferment at home in order
that, on a stipend of £100 a year, he might devote himself to the
conversion of the American Indians? The imperturbable patience with
which the good Dean prosecuted his object, the self-devotion with
which he embarked in it his property and life, the gratefulness with
which he accepted from the government the promise of a grant, and the
treachery which broke the promise, and after seven years compelled his
return, make up a story unrivalled for its contrast of saintly
simplicity and ministerial bad faith. These and similar features of
the time superfluously refute the arbitrary and arrogant assumption,
that no piety can be living and profound except that which disbelieves
all natural religion, no gospel holy which does not renounce the moral
law, no faith prolific in works unless it begins with despising them.

There was, however, still a defect in this gospel of conscience.
Regarding the world and life as the object of a divine administration,
and seeking to interpret them by a scheme of final causes, it was wholly
occupied with the conception of God as proposing to himself certain
ends, and arranging the means for their accomplishment. In this light He
is a Being with moral preconceptions and an economy for bringing them to
pass. Everything is for a purpose, and subsists for the sake of what is
ulterior, and forms part of a mechanism working out a prescribed
problem. The tendency of this way of thinking will inevitably be, to
hunt for providences. These the narrow mind will place in the incidents
of individual life; the comprehensive intellect, in the laws and
relations of the universe; not perhaps in either case without some
danger from human egotism of referring too much to the good and ill
which is relative to man. The infinite perfections of God will be
concentrated, so to speak, too much in the notion of His WILL, and the
powers which subserve its designs; and will in consequence be as much
misapprehended as would be our own nature by an observer assuming that
we put forth all its life and phenomena _on purpose_. Indeed, the
exclusive and unbalanced ascendency of the moral faculty tempts a man to
fancy this sort of existence the only right one for himself; to suspect
every flow of unwatched feeling, and call himself to account for the
burst of ringing laughter, or the surprise of sudden tears, and aim at
an autocratic command of his own soul. It is not wonderful that his
ideal of human character should reappear in his representation of the
Divine. The error deforms his faith as much as it tends to stiffen and
constrict his life. Leading him always to ask what a thing is _for_, it
hinders him from seeing what it _is_; in search of the _motive_, he
misses the _look_; and his interest in it being transitive, he sinks
into it with no sympathy on its own account. This is only to say, in
other words, that his prepossession detains him from the _artistic_
contemplation of objects and events; for while it is the business of
science to inquire their _origination_, and of morals to follow their
_drift_, it remains for art to appreciate their _nature_. To feel the
type of thought which they express, to recognize the idea which they
invest with form, the mind must rest upon them, not as products or as
instruments, but as realities; and their significance must not be
imposed upon them, but read off from them. The meaning which art detects
in life and the world is not a purpose, but a sentiment; in its view the
present attitudes and development of things are rather the out-coming of
an inner feeling than the tools of a remoter end. To find room for this
mode of conception something must be added to the ethical representation
of God. He must be regarded as not always and throughout engaged in
processes of intention and volition, but as having, around this moral
centre, an infinite atmosphere of creative thought and affection, which,
like the native inspirations of a pure and sublime human soul,
spontaneously flow out in forms of beauty, and movements of rhythm, and
a thousand aspects of divine expression. Religion demands the admission
of this free element: and without it, will cease to speak home to men of
susceptible genius and poetic nature, and must limit itself more and
more to the fanatical minds that have too little regulation, and the
moral that have too much. A God who offers terms of communion only to
the passionate and to the conscientious, will not touch the springs of
worship in perceptive and meditative men. _Their_ prayer is less to know
the published rules than to overhear the lonely whispers of the Eternal
Mind, to be at one with His immediate life in the universe, and to shape
or sing into articulate utterance the silent inspirations of which all
existence is full. Their peculiar faculties supply them with other
interests than about their sins, their salvation, and their conscience;
they feel neither sufficiently guilty, nor sufficiently anxious to be
good, to make a religion out of the one consciousness or the other; but
if, indeed, it be God that flashes on them in so many lights of solemn
beauty from the face of common things, that wipes off sometimes the
steams of custom from the window of the soul, and surprises it with a
presence of tenderness and mystery,--if the tension of creative thought
in themselves, which can rest in nothing imperfect, yet realize nothing
perfect, be an unconscious aspiration towards Him,--then there is a way
of access to their inner faith, and a temple pavement on which they will
consent to kneel. It is, we believe, the inability of Protestantism, in
either of its previous forms, to meet this order of wants, that has
reduced it to its state of weakness and discredit; and the struggle of
thought, characteristic of the present century, is an unconscious
attempt to supply the defect, and to vindicate, for the third element of
Catholic Christianity, the possibility of development in the open air of
Protestant belief. The change began, like both of the earlier ones, in
Germany; and it was from Plato that Schleiermacher learned where the
weakness of Christian dogma lay, and in what field of thought he might
create a diversion from the disastrous assaults of French materialism,
and restore the balance of the fight. An Hellenic spirit was infused
into the scientific theology of the Continent, and has never ceased to
prevail there, though Aristotle has long succeeded to Plato as the
channel of influence. When Hegel, long the rival of Schleiermacher,
triumphed over him, not only in the coteries of Berlin, but in the
schools of Germany, he no doubt turned the philosophy which had been
invoked to preserve the faith into a dialectic, at whose magic touch it
deliquesced; and no one who has followed the application of his
principles to history and dogma can be surprised at the antipathy they
awaken in the Church. But it would be a mistake to suppose that the step
into Pantheism was made by Hegel, and that the opposing theologians
raised up by the great preacher of Berlin occupy in this respect any
different ground. Since the time of Jacobi theism proper has not been
heard of in Germany: the very writers who _mean_ to defend it, surrender
it in the disguise of their definition of personality; and so steeped is
the whole national mind in the colors of Hellenic thought, that from
Neander to Strauss can be found, in our deliberate judgment, only
different shades of the same pantheistic conception. What does this
denote but a universal sigh after a God, who shall be neither a Jehovah,
a Judaic αυτοκρατωρ, nor a redeeming _Deus ex machinâ_, supervening upon
the theatre of history, but a living and energizing Spirit, quickening
the very heart of to-day, and whispering round the dome of Herschel's
sky not less than in the third story of Paul's heaven? In some this
feeling breaks out in devilish defiance, as in the unhappy Heinrich
Heine's saying, "I am no child, I do not want a Heavenly Father any
more": in others it breathes out, as with Novalis, in a tender
mysticism, and is traceable by the reverent footfall and uncovered head
with which they pace, as in a cathedral, the solemn aisles of life and
nature. The expression of this tendency has passed into the literature
of our own language, and every year is tinging it more and more with its
characteristic hues. Emerson affords the purest and most unmixed
example; but perhaps the earlier writings of Carlyle,--before the divine
thirst had advanced so much into a human _rabies_,--and more especially
his _Sartor Resartus_, may be taken as the real gospel of this
sentiment. The intense operation of these essays, so entirely alien to
the traditions of English thought and taste, is an evidence of something
more than the genius of their authors: it is proof of a certain
combustible state of the English mind, prepared by drought and deadness
to burst into the flame of this new worship. This feeling, diffused
through the very air of the time, has unmistakably evinced its essential
identity with the instinct of art; in part, by a direct affluence and
excellence of production unknown to the preceding age, but still more,
in the wide extension of an appreciating love for the creations of
artistic genius. The melancholy prophets who see in this spreading
susceptibility only a morbid symptom of decadent civilization, are
misled, we hope, by imperfect historical parallels. The flower, no
doubt, both of Athenian and of Italian culture, was most brilliant just
before it drooped. But the soil which bore it, and the elements that
surrounded it, had no essential resemblance to the conditions of modern
English society, in which, above all, there are the unexhausted juices
of a moral faith and a strenuous habit, not stimulant perhaps of hasty
growth, but giving hardihood against the open air and the natural

By the rules of technical theology, it may appear strange to reckon
the turn from theism to pantheism as a _third stage of the
Reformation_; as if it could be at all included in the interior
history of Christianity, instead of being treated as a direct
apostasy. And it is in reality a very serious question, whether,
without unfaithfulness to its essential character, the Christian
religion can domesticate within it this new action of thought, or must
from the first visit it with unqualified excommunication. On the one
hand, nothing can be more absurd than to suppose that a faith of
Hebrew origin, a faith whose very hypothesis is sin, and whose
aspiration is moral perfectness, can ever be reconciled with a
thorough-going pantheism. On the other hand, nothing can be more
gratuitous than to assume that the feeling which, on getting the whole
mind to itself, generates a pantheistic scheme, has _no_ legitimate
exercise, and gains its indulgence altogether at the expense of
Christian truth. If we mistake not, the pith of the matter lies in a
small compass. _Let Christian Theism keep Morals, and Pantheism may
have Nature._ This rule is no mere compromise or coalition of
incongruous elements, but is founded, we are convinced, on
distinctions real and eternal. So long as a holy will is left to God,
and a power committed to man, free to sustain relations of trust and
responsibility, room remains for all the conditions of Christianity,
and the field beyond may be open to the range of mystic perception,
and railed off for the sacrament of beauty. But whether this or any
other be the just partition of territory between the two claimants,
partition there must be, for the real truth of things must correspond,
not to the hypothesis of any single human faculty, but to harmonized
postulates of all. It is not surprising that, on its first re-birth,
the gospel of nature should deny the gospel of duty, or so take it up
into its own fine essence as to volatilize all its substance away.
This is but the natural revenge taken for past neglect, and the
needful challenge to future attention. Each one of the three
developments has in its turn run out beyond the limits of the
Christian faith, and yet, hitherto, each has established a place
within it. The Hegelian, or Emersonian, type of the third period is
but the corresponding phenomenon to the Antinomianism of the first,
and the Deism of the second. And as these have passed away, after
surrendering into the custody of Christendom the principles that gave
them strength, so will the Pantheism of to-day, when it has provided
for the safe-keeping of its charge, and seen the Church complete its
triad of Faith, Holiness, and Beauty.

This question, however, will be asked: If the Reformation only
repeats, with some transposition, the cycle of the primitive
development, how are we the better for having thus to do our work
again? Are we to end where the sixteenth century began, and to
reproduce the Catholicism which was then resolved into its elements?
And does some fatal necessity doom us to this wearisome periodicity?
Not in the least. However little the seeds may be able to transgress
the limits of species, and may remain indistinguishable from
millennium to millennium, the conditions of growth are so different as
practically to cancel the identity in the result. Taken even one by
one, the modern forms of doctrine are far nobler than their early
prototypes. The narrow Ebionitism of the original Church is not
comparable, as an expression of the conscience, with the moral
philosophy of Butler; and the Greek element of thought, flowing by
Berlin, has entered the Church in deeper channels than when
infiltrating through the theosophy of Alexandria. It is only in
relation to the passionate element that the doubt can be raised,
whether we have gained in truth and grandeur by passing the religion
of Augustine through the minds of the modern reformers; and whether
the Jansenists within the Church do not exhibit a higher phase of
character than the Huguenots without it. But at any rate, the modern
development, taken as a whole, is secure of an inner unity and
completeness which before has been unattained. It is an obvious, yet
little noticed, consequence of the invention of printing, that no one
mood of feeling or school of thought can tyrannize over a generation
of mankind, and sweep all before it, as of old; and then again, with
change in the intellectual season, rot utterly away, and give place to
a successor no less absolute. Generations and ages now live in
presence of each other; the impulse of the present is restrained by
the counsels of the past, and, in fighting for the throne of the human
mind, finds it not only strong in living prepossession, but guarded by
shadowy sentinels, encircled by a band of immortals. Hence the history
of ideas can never be again so wayward and fitful as it was in the
first centuries of our era; losing all interest at one period in the
questions which had maddened the preceding; for a time covered all
over with the pale haze of Byzantine metaphysics, and then suffused
with red heats of African enthusiasm. New truth can no longer forget
the old, and thrive wholly at its expense, or even make a compact with
it to take turn and turn about, but must find an organic relation with
it, so as to be its enlargement rather than its rival. The modern
moralist already understands Augustine better than did the old
Pelagians; "Evangelical" teachers begin to insist on Christian ethics;
and the increasing disposition, even in heterodox persons, to dwell on
the Incarnation as the central point of faith, shows how credible and
welcome becomes the notion of the union of human with divine, and of
the moral manifestation of God in the life and soul of man. The time,
we trust, is gone, for the merely linear advancement of the European
mind, with all its action and reaction propagated downwards, and
wasting centuries on phenomena that might co-exist. Henceforth it may
open out in all dimensions at once, and fill, as its own for ever, the
whole space of true thought into which its past increments have borne
it. Sects, no doubt, and schools, will continue to arise on the
outskirts of the intellectual realm, possessed by partial
inspirations; but the world's centre of gravity will be more and more
occupied by minds that can at once balance and retain these marginal
excesses, that can round off the sphere by inner force of reason, and,
dispensing with the outer mould of sacerdotal compression, let the
tides flow free, and the winds blow strong, without alarm for the
eternal harmony. This is the form in which nature will restore, and
God approve, a Catholic consent.

The idea we have endeavored to give of the genesis of Christian
doctrine, and the law of its vicissitudes, is offered only as
conveniently distributing the subjective sources of faith. It cannot
be applied to the phenomena of particular countries apart from ample
historical knowledge of the concurrent social and political
conditions, without which the most accurate clews to the natural
history of _thought_ can only mislead as the interpreter of concrete
_events_. When, for instance, we look around us at home, and seek for
the English representatives of the several tendencies explained above,
we may, no doubt, find them here and there, but they are so far from
exhausting the facts of our time, that some of the most conspicuous
parties--as the Anglicans--seem provided with no place at all. The
obscurity first begins to clear away when we remember that in England
_Schism went before Reformation_. The aim of Henry VIII. was simply to
detach and nationalize the Church in his dominions; to give it insular
integrity instead of provincial dependence; and could this have been
done without meddling with the system of Catholic doctrine at all, the
scheme of faith would have been preserved entire. While Luther and the
Continental opponents of Rome were faithful to the idea of the unity
of Christendom, and were calling out for a general council to restore
it by a verdict on doubtful points of faith, the English monarch,
undisturbed by doubt or scruple, broke off from Rome, and destroyed
the traditions of centralization by taking the ecclesiastic
jurisdiction into his own hands and stopping its passage of the seas.
In the new movement of the time, England tended to become a petty
papacy, still unreformed; Europe sought a universal church reformed.
Neither aim admitted of realization. To repudiate the supreme pontiff,
and substitute a civil head, involved a fatal breach in the sacerdotal
system, and carried with it inevitable departures from the integrity
of Catholic dogma; so that reformation was found inseparable from
schism. And when no council, acknowledged as universal, was called to
give authoritative settlement, arrangements _ad interim_ became
consolidated, provisional rights grew into prescriptive; with the
spectacle of variety, and the taste of freedom, the idea of unity
faded away, till the co-existence of two churches within one land and
one Christendom passed into a necessity, and reformation proved
impossible without a schism. But, notwithstanding this partial
approximation of the English and the Continental movements, the traces
remain indelible that their point of departure was from opposite ends.
In its origin and earliest traditions, in the basis of its
constitution and worship, the Church of England has nothing whatever
to do with Protestantism; it is but the Westminster Catholic Church
instead of the Roman Catholic Church. Authoritative doctrine,
sacramental grace, sacerdotal mediation, are all retained; and
throughout the whole of Henry's reign, while the new laws were working
themselves into habits, the seven sacraments, the communion in one
kind, the Ave Maria, the invocation of saints, with the doctrines of
transubstantiation and purgatory, remained within the circle of
recognized orthodoxy. The impelling and regulative idea of the whole
change was that of a nationalization of Catholicism. This original
ascendency of the national over the theological feeling was never
lost; and though channels were more and more opened, through the
sympathies of exiles and the intercourse of scholars, for the infusion
of Continental notions, yet the form given to the Church rendered it
not very susceptible to the new learning; whose admission, so far as
it took place, was rather induced by political conception than made in
the interests of universal truth. The present Anglicans represent the
first type of the English _schism_; and the High Church in general
embodies the distinguishing _national_ sentiment of the Reformation in
this country, as compared with the _cosmopolitan_ character of the
Continental religious change. Doctrine is universal, administration
and jurisdiction are local. Where the former becomes the bond of
sympathy, as among the Evangelic Protestants, it unites men together
by ties that are irrespective of the limits of country, and
subordinates special patriotisms to the interests of a more
comprehensive fraternity. Where the latter become the objects of
zeal, a flavor of the soil mingles itself with the sentiments of
honor, and a peculiar loyalty concentrates itself on the inner circles
of duty, often with the narrowest capacity of diffusion beyond. Hence
the intensely _English_ feeling which has always prevailed among the
parochial--especially the rural--clergy of the Establishment, and the
people who form their congregations. They constitute the very core of
our insular society, and the retaining centre of our historical
characteristics. Their admirations, their prejudices, their virtues,
their ambitions, are all national. Their interest in dogma is not
intellectually active, or provocative of any proselyting zeal, and is
subservient to the practical aim of giving territorial action to the
religious institutions under their charge. Their dealings are less
with the individual's solitary soul, than with the several social
classes in their mutual relations; and to mediate between the gentry
and the poor, to keep in order the school, the workhouse, and the
village charities,--not forgetting the obligation to ward off
Methodists and voluntaries,[2]--constitute the approved circle of
clerical duties. Their very antipathies, unlike those of Protestant
zealots, are less theological than political; they hate Roman
Catholics chiefly as a sort of _foreigners_, who have no proper
business here, and Dissenters as a sort of _rebels_, who create
disturbance with their discontents; and were old England well rid of
them both, the heart of her citizenship, they believe, would be
sounder. They stand, indeed, in a curious position, pledged to hold a
proud Anglican isolation between two cosmopolitan interests,--the
Popish theocracy and the Evangelical dogma,--refusing obedience to
Rome, yet declining the alliance of foreign Protestants. Their enmity
to the Papal system is quite a different sentiment from that which
animates Exeter Hall; they do not deny the absolute legitimacy of the
elder corporation in general, but only its relative legitimacy _here_;
and Scottish ravings against it as "Babylon" and "Antichrist" offend
them more than the confessional and the mass. Twice in their
history--under the Stuarts and in our own day--have they seemed to
forget their destiny, and make overtures to the Vatican; in both
instances it was when Puritanism had threatened to take possession of
the Church, and reduce it to a federal member of an Evangelical
alliance; and if its separate integrity were in peril, they had rather
fling it back into the Apostolic monarchy, than enroll it in the
Genevan league. But the first real sight of danger from the Papal side
has dissipated this reactionary inclination, and rekindled the
instinct of local independence. Thus, in our Church, ideal interests
and purely religious conceptions have held the second place to a
predominating nationalism. The Church has embodied and handed down the
leading sentiment of the Tudor times; and though not guiltless of
share in many a Stuart treachery, and often cruel to the stiff-necked
recusant, has, on the whole, been true to the English feeling, that
the Pope was too great a priest, and Calvin too long a preacher.

The reason then is evident why the Church of England cannot be
referred to any of the heads of classification we have given; neither
coinciding with Romanism, nor exemplifying distinctively any of the
tendencies springing successively out of the disintegration of
Catholic dogma. It arose out of an ecclesiastical revolt; other
communions, out of a theological aspiration. Its original conception
involved no serious modification of belief, no invention or recovery
of strange usages, but a mere separation of the island branch from the
Roman stem, that it might strike root and be as a native tree of life.
The first alterations in doctrine were slight, and merely incidental
to this primary end: and the whole amount of change, instead of being
determined by the intellectual dictatorship of a Luther or a Calvin,
was the illogical result of social forces, seeking the equilibrium of
practical compromise. The phenomenon therefore which we observed in
the elder Church is repeated in this younger offshoot: the several
elements of faith co-exist (though in greatly spoiled proportions)
without unity or natural coherence; and the English Church, as the
depository of a creed, occupies no place in the history of the human
mind: its individual great men must be put here or there in the
records of thought, without regard to the accident of their
ecclesiastical position. The one real idea which has permanently
inspired its clergy and supporters is that of _nationalism in
religion_. To the time of the Restoration they _attempted_, since then
they have _pretended_, to represent the nation in its faith and
worship. Once, their aim appeared to be a noble possibility,
struggling still and unrealized, but unrefuted. Now, thousands of
Non-conformist chapels proclaim its meaning gone, and its language an
affectation and an insolence. The English Church has become an outer
reality without an inner idea.

In contrast with the _insular_ feeling predominant in the English
schism, we have placed the _cosmopolitan_ zeal of the foreign
Puritanism. With this, however, was combined the very opposite pole
of sentiment,--a certain _egoism_ and loneliness in religion, from
which have flowed some of the most important characteristics of
Protestantism. Having flung away, as miserable quackeries, the
hierarchical prescriptions for souls oppressed with sin, Luther fell
back upon an act of subjective faith in place of the Church's
objective works. For the corporation he substituted the individual:
whom he put in immediate, instead of mediate, relation with Christ and
God. The Catholic's unbloody sacrifice had no efficacy, no existence,
without the priest; the Lutheran's bloody sacrifice was a realized
historical fact, to be appropriated separately by every believer's
personal trust. It was not, therefore, the Church which, in its
corporate capacity, occupied the prior place, and held the deposit of
divine grace for distribution to its members; but it was the private
person that constituted the sacred unit, and a plurality of believers
supplied the factors of the Church. The grace which before could not
reach the individual except by transit through accredited officials,
now became directly accessible to each soul: and only after it had
been received by a sufficient number to form a society, did the
conditions of spiritual office and organization exist. This essential
dependence of the whole upon the parts, instead of the parts upon the
whole, is the most radical and powerful peculiarity of Protestantism.
A system which raises the individual to the primary place of religious
importance, places him nearest to the supernatural energy of God, and
makes him the living stone without which temple and altar cannot be
built, naturally draws to it minds of marked vigor, and trains men in
self-subsisting habits. By giving scope to the forces of private
character, it sets in action the real springs of healthy progress, and
happily with such intensity as to defy the checks it often seeks to
impose in later moods of repentant alarm. This emancipation of the
personal life from theocratic control, at first achieved in connection
with the doctrine of justification, was sure to present itself in
other forms. In its _spiritual_ application Protestant egoism assumes
the shape of reliance on _inner faith_; in its _political_, of
_voluntaryism_; in its _intellectual_, of free inquiry and _private
judgment_. These several directions may be taken separately or
together, but where, as in the Church of England, _not one_ of them is
unambiguously marked, the very principle of reformed Christianity is
unsecured, and Protestantism is present, not by charter, but by social
accident. Puritanism everywhere--conforming or nonconforming, English
or Continental--exhibits the first direction; "Evangelical" Dissenters
add the second; while Unitarians occupy the third,--not perhaps
completely, and not altogether exclusively, but characteristically
nevertheless. For it is impossible to unite the orthodox with the
intellectual egoism. So long as the _inner faith_, which is the
presumed condition of justification, includes a controverted doctrine,
like the scheme of Atonement, the need of faith imposes a limit on the
right of judgment: and you are only free to think till you show
symptoms of thinking wrong. But when the sacrificial Christianity has
passed into the ethical, and no other condition of harmony with God is
laid down than purity of affection and fidelity of will, then honest
thought can peril no salvation, and the devotion of the intellect to
truth and the heart to grace is a divided allegiance no more.

It was for some time doubtful how far this Protestant egoism was
likely to go. Luther was clear and positive that it was faith that
justified; and fetching this doctrine out of a deep personal
experience, he paid little respect to any one who contradicted it, and
regulated by it his first choice of religious authorities. Led by this
clew, he arrived at results strangely at variance with modern canons.
He neither accepted as a standard the whole Bible, nor at first
rejected the whole tradition of the Church; loosely attempting to
reserve the Augustinian authorities, and to repudiate the Dominican.
When he had renounced altogether the appeal to councils and patristic
lore, it was in favor, not of the external Scriptures, unconditionally
taken as the rule of faith, but of the private spirit of the Christian
reader, who was himself "made king and priest," and could not only
find the meaning, but pronounce upon the relative worth, of the
canonical books. Accordingly, the Reformer made very free with
portions of the Old Testament, and with the more Judaic elements of
the New,--the Epistle to the Hebrews, that of James, and the
Apocalypse; and avowedly did this because he disliked the flavor of
their doctrine, and felt its variance from the Pauline gospel. He thus
tampered with his court before he brought forward his cause, and
incapacitated the judges whose verdict he feared. In short, the
religious life of his own soul was too intense and powerful to be
prevailed over by any written word: he appropriated what was
congenial, and threw away the rest. Uneasy relations were thus
established between the subjective rule of faith found in the
believer's own mind, and the objective standard of a documentary
revelation: they were soon constituted, and have ever since remained
rival authorities, commanding the allegiance of different orders of
minds. The vast majority of Protestants, of less profound and
tumultuous inner life than Luther, and less knowing how to see their
way through it, subsided into exclusive recognition of the sacred
writings; denying alike the regulative authority either of church
councils or of the private soul. In every branch and derivative of the
Genevan Reformation, throughout the whole range of both the Puritan
and the Arminian Churches, a rigorous Scripturalism prevails; and the
Bible is used as a code or legislative text-book, which yields, on
mere interpretation, verdicts without appeal on every subject, whether
doctrine or duty, of which it speaks. But Luther's spiritual
enthusiasm kindled a fire that he scarce could quench; and while he
himself, flung into perpetual conflicts with opponents, was obliged
more and more to refer to evidence external to his personality, others
had learned from him to look upon their own souls as the theatre of
conscious strife between heaven and hell, and to recognize the voice
of inspiration there. Carlstadt was the first to catch the flame of
his teacher's burning experience, and, touched by prophetic
consciousness, to set the Spirit above the Word. Luther, so often
recalled from the tendencies of his own turbulent teaching by seeing
their mischiefs realized in other men, instantly turned on Carlstadt
with his overwhelming scorn: "The spirit of our new prophet flies very
high indeed: 't is an audacious spirit, that would eat up the Holy
Ghost, feathers and all. 'The Bible?'--sneer these fellows,--'Bibel,
Bubel, Babel!' And not only do they reject the Bible thus
contemptuously, but they say they would reject God too, if he were not
to visit them as he did his prophets." Carlstadt had got hold of a
doctrine that was too much for his ill-balanced mind, and Luther
easily destroyed his repute. But a principle had been started which
has never been dormant since; the very principle which afterwards
constituted the Society of Friends, and finds its best exposition in
the writings of their admirable apologist, Barclay; and which in our
times reappears in more philosophic guise, and fights its old battles
again as the doctrine of religious intuition. No period of awakened
faith and sentiment has been without some increasing tincture of this
persuasion; and under modified forms, with more or less admixture of
the ordinary Puritan elements, it has played a great part among the
Quietists in France, the Moravians in Germany, and the Methodists in
England. In all these, far as they are from being committed to the
notion of an "inner light," spiritualism has predominated over
Scripturalism, and permanent life in the Spirit has engaged the
affections more than the transition into the adoption of faith.

In this endeavor to lay out the ground-plan of modern Christian
development, and trace upon it the chief lines both of psychological and
of historical distinction, our design is to prepare the way for a series
of sketches exhibiting the sects and types of religion in England. It is
scarcely possible to notice the phenomena present here and to-day
without referring to their antecedents in a prior age, their
counterparts in other lands, and their permanent principles in human
nature; and if our chart be tolerably correct, our future course will be
rendered less indeterminate by the relations and points of comparison
which have been established. The age, and even the hour, is teeming with
new interests and pregnant auguries in relation to the highest element
of human well-being. From a desire to approach these in a temper of just
and reverential appreciation, we have abstained from recording the first
impression of them, and sought rather, by a preliminary discipline, to
detect some criteria by which prejudices may be checked, tendencies be
estimated, and criticism acquire a clew.


[1] The title which Auguste Comte gives himself in his "Catechisme
Positiviste."--Preface, p. xl.

[2] The zest with which this ecclesiastical garrison-duty is sometimes
performed, hardly comports with the traditional dignity of the Anglican
gentleman and scholar. We remember an incident which occurred in a
village situated among the hills of one of our northern dioceses. On a
fine summer evening we had gone, at the close of the afternoon service,
for a stroll through the fields overlooking the valley. When we had
walked half a mile or so, an extraordinary din arose from the direction
of the village, sounding like nothing human or instrumental, larynx,
catgut, or brass, though occasionally mingled with an undeniable note
from some shouting Stentor. It was evident, through the trees, that a
crowd was collected on the village green; and not less so, that a farmer
and his wife, who were looking on from a stile hard by, understood the
meaning of the scene below. On asking what all the hubbub was about, we
were told by the good woman: "It's all of our parson, that's banging out
the Methody wi' the tae-board." Being curious in ecclesiastical
researches, we hastened down the hill, in spite of the repulsion of
increasing noise. On one side of the green was a deal table, from which
a field-preacher was holding forth with passionate but fruitless energy;
for on the other side, and at the back of the crowd, was the parochial
man of God, who had issued from his parsonage, armed with its largest
tea-tray and the hall-door key, and was battering off the Japan in the
service of orthodoxy. No military music could more effectually
neutralize the shrieks of battle. The more the evangelist bellowed, the
faster went the parish gong. It was impossible to confute such a "drum
ecclesiastic." The man was not easily put down; but the triumph was
complete; and the "Methody's" brass was fairly beaten out of the field
by the Churchman's tin.


    "To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men,
    but chosen of God, and precious; ye also, as lively stones, are
    built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual
    sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."--1 Peter ii. 4, 5.

The formation of human society, and the institution of priesthood,
must be referred to the same causes and the same date. The earliest
communities of the world appear to have had their origin and their
cement, not in any gregarious instinct, nor in mere social affections,
much less in any prudential regard to the advantages of co-operation,
but in a binding religious sentiment, submitting to the same guidance,
and expressing itself in the same worship. As no tie can be more
strong, so is none more primitive, than this agreement respecting what
is holy and divine. In simple and patriarchal ages, indeed, when the
feelings of veneration had not been set aside by analysis into a
little corner of the character, but spread themselves over the whole
of life, and mixed it up with daily wonder, this bond comprised all
the forces that can suppress the selfish and disorganizing passions,
and compact a multitude of men together. It was not, as at present, to
have simply the same _opinions_ (things of quite modern growth, the
brood of scepticism); but to have the same fathers, the same
tradition, the same speech, the same land, the same foes, the same
priest, the same God. Nothing did man fear, or trust, or love, or
desire, that did not belong, by some affinity, to his faith. Nor had
he any book to keep the precious deposit for him; and if he had, he
would never have thought of so frail a vehicle for so great a
treasure. It was more natural to put it into structures hollowed in
the fast mountain, or built of transplanted rocks which only a giant
age could stir; and to tenant these with mighty hierarchies, who
should guard their sanctity, and, by an undying memory, make their
mysteries eternal. Hence, the first humanizer of men was their
worship; the first leaders of nations, the sacerdotal caste; the first
triumph of art, the colossal temple; the first effort to preserve an
idea produced a record of something sacred; and the first civilization
was, as the last will be, the birth of religion.

The primitive aim of worship undoubtedly was, to act upon the
sentiments of God; at first, by such natural and intelligible means as
produce favorable impressions on the mind of a fellow-man,--by
presents and persuasion, and whatever is expressive of grateful and
reverential affections. Abel, the first shepherd, offered the produce
of his flock; Cain, the first farmer, the fruits of his land; and
while devotion was so simple in its modes, every one would be his own
pontiff, and have his own altar. But soon, the parent would inevitably
officiate for his family; the patriarch, for his tribe. With the
natural forms dictated by present feelings, traditional methods would
mingle their contributions from the past; postures and times, gestures
and localities, once indifferent, would become consecrated by
venerable habit; and so long as their origin was unforgotten, they
would add to the significance, while they lessened the simplicity, of
worship. Custom, however, being the growth of time, tends to a
tyrannous and bewildering complexity: forms, originally natural, then
symbolical, end in being arbitrary; suggestive of nothing, except to
the initiated; yet, if connected with religion, so sanctified by the
association, that it appears sacrilege to desist from their
employment; and when their meaning is lost, they assume their place,
not among empty gesticulations, but among the mystical signs by which
earth communes with heaven. The vivid picture-writing of the early
worship, filled with living attitudes, and sketched in the freshest
colors of emotion, explained itself to every eye, and was open to
every hand. To this succeeded a piety, which expressed itself in
symbolical figures, veiling it utterly from strangers, but
intelligible and impressive still to the soul of national tradition.
This, however, passed again into a language of arbitrary characters,
in which the herd of men saw sacredness without meaning; and the use
of which must be consigned to a class separated for its study. Hence
the origin of the priest and his profession; the conservator of a
worship no longer natural, but legendary and mystical; skilful enactor
of rites that spake with silent gesticulation to the heavens;
interpreter of the wants of men into the divine language of the gods.
Not till the powers above had ceased to hold familiar converse with
the earth, and in their distance had become deaf and dumb to the
common tongue of men, did the mediating priest arise;--needed then to
conduct the finger-speech of ceremony, whereby the desire of the
creature took shape before the eye of the Creator.

Observe, then, the true idea of PRIEST and RITUAL. The Priest is the
representative of men before God; commissioned on behalf of human
nature to intercede with the divine. He bears a message _upwards_,
from earth to heaven; his people being below, his influence above. He
takes the fears of the weak, and the cries of the perishing, and sets
them with availing supplication before Him that is able to help. He
takes the sins and remorse of the guilty, and leaves them with
expiating tribute at the feet of the averted Deity. He guards the
avenues that lead from the mortal to the immortal, and without his
interposition the creature is cut off from his Creator. Without his
mediation no transaction between them can take place, and the spirit
of a man must live as an outlaw from the world invisible and holy.
There are means of propitiation which he alone has authority to
employ; powers of persuasion conceded to no other; a mystic access to
the springs of divine benignity, by outward rites which his
manipulation must consecrate, or forms of speech which his lips must
recommend. These ceremonies are the implements of his office and the
sources of his power; the magic by which he is thought to gain
admission to the will above, and really wins rule over human counsels
below. As they are supposed to change the relation of God to man, not
by visible or natural operation, not (for example) by suggestion of
new thoughts, and excitement of new dispositions in the worshipper,
but by secret and mysterious agency, they are simply _spells_ of a
dignified order. Were we then to speak with severe exactitude, we
should say, a Ritual is a system of consecrated charms; and the
Priest, the great magician who dispenses them.

So long as any idea is retained of mystically efficacious rites,
consigned solely and authoritatively to certain hands, this definition
cannot be escaped. The ceremonies may have rational instruction and
natural worship appended to them; and these additional elements may
give them a title to true respect. The order of men appointed to
administer them may have other offices and nobler duties to perform,
rendering them, if faithful, worthy of a just and reverential
attachment. But _in so far_ as, by an exclusive and unnatural
efficacy, they bring about a changed relation between God and man, the
Ritual is an incantation, and the Priest is an enchanter.

To this sacerdotal devotion there necessarily attach certain
characteristic sentiments, both moral and religious, which give it a
distinctive influence on human character, and adapt it to particular
stages of civilization. It clearly severs the worshippers by one remove
from God. He is a Being, external to them, distant from them, personally
unapproachable by them; their thought must _travel_ to reach the
Almighty; they must look afar for the Most Holy; they dwell themselves
within the finite, and must ask a foreign introduction to the Infinite.
He is not with them as a private guide, but in the remoter watch-towers
of creation, as the public inspector of their life; not present for
perpetual communion, but to be visited in absence by stated messages of
form and prayer. And that God dwells in this cold and royal separation
induces the feeling, that man is too mean to touch him; that a
consecrated intervention is required, in order to part Deity from the
defiling contact of humanity. Why else am I restricted from unlimited
personal access to my Creator, and driven to another in my transactions
with him? And so, in this system, our nature appears in contrast, not in
alliance, with the divine, and those views of it are favored which make
the opposition strong; its puny dimensions, its swift decadence, its
poor self-flatteries, its degenerate virtues, its giant guilt, become
familiar to the thought and lips; and life, cut off from sympathy with
the godlike, falls towards the level of melancholy, or the sink of
epicurism, or the abjectness of vicarious reliance on the priest.
Worship, too, must have for its chief aim, to throw off the load of ill;
to rid the mind of sin and shame, and the lot of hardship and sorrow;
for principally to these disburdening offices do priests and rituals
profess themselves adapted;--and who, indeed, could pour forth the
privacy of love, and peace, and trust, through the cumbrousness of
ceremonies, and the pompousness of a sacred officer? The piety of such a
religion is thus a refuge for the weakness, not an outpouring of the
strength, of the soul: it takes away the incubus of darkness, without
shedding the light of heaven; lifts off the nightmare horrors of earth
and hell, without opening the vision of angels and of God. Nay, for the
spiritual bonds which connect men with the Father above, it substitutes
material ties, a genealogy of sacred fires, a succession of hallowed
buildings, or of priests having consecration by pedigree or by manual
transmission; so that qualities belonging to the soul alone are likened
to forces mechanical or chemical; sanctity becomes a physical property;
divine acceptance comes by bodily catenation; regeneration is degraded
into a species of electric shock, which one only method of experiment,
and the links of but one conductor, can convey. And, in fine, a priestly
system ever abjures all aim at any higher perfection; boasts of being
immutable and unimprovable; encourages no ambition, breathes no desire.
It holds the appointed methods of influencing Heaven, on which none may
presume to innovate; and its functions are ever the same, to employ and
preserve the ancient forms and legendary spells committed to its trust.
Hence all its veneration is antiquarian, not sympathetic or prospective;
it turns its back upon the living, and looks straight into departed
ages, bowing the head and bending the knee; as if all objects of love
and devotion were _there_, not here; in history, not in life; as if its
God were dead, or otherwise imprisoned in the Past, and had bequeathed
to its keeping such relics as might yield a perpetual benediction. Thus
does the administration of religion, in proportion as it possesses a
sacerdotal character, involve a distant Deity, a mean humanity, a
servile worship, a physical sanctity, and a retrospective reverence.

Let no one, however, imagine that there is no other idea or
administration of religion than this; that the priest is the only
person among men to whom it is given to stand between heaven and
earth. Even the Hebrew Scriptures introduce us to another class of
quite different order; to whom, indeed, those Scriptures owe their own
truth and power, and perpetuity of beauty: I mean the PROPHETS; whom
we shall very imperfectly understand, if we suppose them mere
historians, for whom God had turned time round the other way, so that
they spoke of things future as if past, and grew so dizzy in their use
of tenses, as greatly to incommode learned grammarians; or if we treat
their writings as scrap-books of Providence, with miscellaneous
contributions from various parts of duration, sketches taken
indifferently from any point of view within eternity, and put together
at random and without mark, on adjacent pages, for theological
memories to identify; first, a picture of an Assyrian battle, next, a
holy family; now, of the captives sitting by Euphrates, then, of Paul
preaching to the Gentiles; here, a flight of devouring locusts, and
there, the escape of the Christians from the destruction of Jerusalem;
a portrait of Hezekiah, and a view of Calvary; a march through the
desert, and John the Baptist by the Jordan; the day of Pentecost, and
the French Revolution; Nebuchadnezzar and Mahomet; Caligula and the
Pope,--following each other with picturesque neglect of every relation
of time and place. No, the Prophet and his work always indeed belong
to the future; but far otherwise than thus. Meanwhile, let us notice
how, in Israel, as elsewhere, he takes his natural station above the
priest. It was Moses the prophet who even _made_ Aaron the priest. And
who cares now for the sacerdotal books of the Old Testament, compared
with the rest? Who, having the strains of David, would pore over
Leviticus, or would weary himself with Chronicles, when he might catch
the inspiration of Isaiah? It was no priest that wrote, "Thou desirest
not sacrifice, else would I give it; thou delightest not in
burnt-offering: the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken
and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." It was no
pontifical spirit that exclaimed, "Bring no more vain oblations;
incense is an abomination to me; the new moons and sabbaths, the
calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the
solemn meeting: your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul
hateth; they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them." "Wash
you, make you clean." Whatever in these venerable Scriptures awes us
by its grandeur and pierces us by its truth, comes of the prophets,
not the priests; and from that part of their writings, too, in which
they are not concerned with historical prediction, but with some
utterance deeper and greater. I do not deny them this gift of
occasional intellectual foresight of events. And doubtless it was an
honor to be permitted to speak thus to a portion of the future, and of
local occurrences unrevealed to seers less privileged. But it is a
glory far higher to speak that which belongs to all time, and finds
its interpretation in every place; to penetrate to the everlasting
realities of things; to disclose, not when this or that man will
appear, but how and wherefore all men appear and quickly disappear; to
make it felt, not in what nook of duration such an incident will
happen, but from what all-embracing eternity the images of history
emerge and are swallowed up. In this highest faculty the Hebrew seers
belong to a class scattered over every nation and every period; which
Providence keeps ever extant for human good, and especially to furnish
an administration of religion quite anti-sacerdotal. This class we
must proceed to characterize.

The Prophet is the representative of God before men, commissioned from
the Divine nature to sanctify the human. He bears a message
_downwards_, from heaven to earth; his inspirer being above, his
influence below. He takes of the holiness of God, enters with it into
the souls of men, and heals therewith the wounds, and purifies the
taint, of sin. He is charged with the peace of God, and gives from it
rest to the weariness and solace to the griefs of men. Instead of
carrying the foulness of life to be cleansed in heaven, he brings the
purity of heaven to make life divine. Instead of interposing himself
and his mediation between humanity and Deity, he destroys the whole
distance between them; and only fulfils his mission, when he brings
the finite mind and the infinite into immediate and thrilling contact,
and leaves the creature consciously alone with the Creator. He is one
to whom the primitive and everlasting relations between God and man
have revealed themselves, stripped of every disguise, and bared of all
that is conventional; who is possessed by their simplicity, mastered
by their solemnity; who has found the secret of meeting the Holy
Spirit within, rather than without; and knows, but cannot tell, how,
in the strife of genuine duty, or in moments of true meditation, the
Divine immensity and love have touched and filled his naked soul; and
taught him by what fathomless Godhead he is folded round, and on what
adamantine manhood he must take his stand. So far from separating
others from the heavenly communion vouchsafed to himself, he
necessarily believes that all may have the same godlike consciousness;
burns to impart it to them; and by the vivid light of his own faith
speedily creates it in those who feel his influence, drawing out and
freshening the faded colors of the Divine image in their souls, till
they too become visibly the seers and the sons of God. His
instruments, like the objects of his mission, are human; not
mysteries, and mummeries, and such arbitrary things, by which others
may pretend to be talking with the skies; but the natural language
which interprets itself at once to every genuine man, and goes direct
to the living point of every heart. An earnest speech, a brave and
holy life, truth of sympathy, severity of conscience, freshness and
loftiness of faith,--these natural sanctities are his implements of
power; and if heaven be pleased to add any other gifts, still are they
weapons all,--not the mere tinsel of tradition and custom,--but forged
in the inner workshop of our nature, where the fire glows beneath the
breath of God, framing things of ethereal temper. Thus armed, he lays
undoubting siege to the world's conscience; tears down every outwork
of pretence; forces its strong-holds of delusion; humbles the vanities
at its centre, and proclaims it the citadel of God. The true prophet
of every age is no believer in the temple, but in the temple's Deity;
trusts, not rites and institutions, but the heart and soul that fill
or ought to fill them; if they speak the truth, no one so reveres
them; if a lie, they meet with no contempt like his. He sees no
indestructible sanctuary but the mind itself, wherein the Divine
Spirit ever loves to dwell; and whence it will be sure to go forth and
build such outward temple as may suit the season of Providence. He is
conscious that there is no devotion like that which comes
spontaneously from the secret places of our humanity, no orisons so
true as those which rise from the common platform of our life. He
desires only to throw himself in faith on the natural piety of the
heart. Give him but that, and he will find for man an everlasting
worship, and raise for God a cathedral worthy of his infinitude.

It is evident that one thoroughly possessed with this spirit could never
be, and could never make, a priest; nor frame a ritual for priests
already made. He is destitute of the ideas out of which alone these
things can be created. His mission is in the opposite direction: he
interprets and reveals God to men, instead of interceding for men with
God. In this office sacerdotal rites have no function and no place. I do
not say that he must necessarily disapprove and abjure them, or deny
that he may directly sanction them. If he does, however, it is not in
his capacity of prophet, but in conformity with feelings which his
proper office has left untouched. His tendency will be against
ceremonialism; and on his age and position will depend the extent to
which this tendency takes effect. Usually he will construct nothing
ritual, will destroy much, and leave behind great and growing ideas,
destructive of much more. But ere we quit our general conception of a
prophet, let us notice some characteristic sentiments, moral and
religious, which naturally connect themselves with his faith; comparing
them with those which belong to the sacerdotal influence.

In this faith, God is separated by nothing from his worshippers. He is
not simply in contact with them, but truly in the interior of their
nature; so that they may not only meet him in the outward providences
of life, but bear his spirit with them, when they go to toil and
conflict, and find it still, when they sit alone to think and pray. He
is not the far observer, but the very present help, of the faithful
will. No structure made with hands, nay, not even his own architecture
of the heaven of heavens, contains and confines his presence: were
there any dark recess whence these were hid, the blessed access would
be without hinderance still; and the soul would discern him near as
its own identity. No mean and ignoble conception can be entertained of
a mind which is thus the residence of Deity;--the shrine of the
Infinite must have somewhat that is infinite itself. Thus, in this
system, does our nature appear in alliance with the Divine, not in
contrast with it; inspired with a portion of its holiness, and free to
help forward the best issues of its providence. Human life, blessed by
this spirit, becomes a miniature of the work of the great Ruler: its
responsibilities, its difficulties, its temptations, become dignified
as the glorious theatre whereon we strive, by and with the good Spirit
of God, for the mastery over evil. Worship, issuing from a nature and
existence thus consecrated, is not the casting off of guilt and
terror, but the glad unburdening of love, and trust, and aspiration,
the simple speaking forth, as duty is the acting forth, of the divine
within us; not the prostration of the slave, but the embrace of the
child; not the plaint of the abject, but the anthem of the free. Is it
not private, individual? And may it not by silence say what it will,
and intimate the precise thing, and that only, which is at
heart?--whence there grows insensibly that firm root of excellence,
truth with one's own self. The priestly fancy of an hereditary or
lineal sacredness can have no place here. The soul and God stand
directly related, mind with mind, spirit with spirit: from our moral
fidelity to this relation, from the jealousy with which we guard it
from insult or neglect, does the only sanctity arise; and herein there
is none to help us, or give a vicarious consecration. And, finally,
the spirit of God's true prophet is earnestly prospective; more filled
with the conception of what the Creator _will_ make his world, than of
what he _has_ already made it: detecting great capacities, it glows
with great hopes; knowing that God lives, and will live, it turns from
the past, venerable as that may be, and reverences rather the promise
of the present, and the glories of the future. It esteems nothing
unimprovable, is replete with vast desires; and amid the shadows and
across the wilds of existence chases, not vainly, a bright image of
perfection. The golden age, which priests with their tradition put
into the past, the prophet, with his faith and truth, transfers into
the future; and while the former pines and muses, the latter toils and
prays. Thus does the administration of religion, in proportion as it
partakes of the prophetic or anti-sacerdotal character, involve the
ideas of an interior Deity, a noble humanity, a loving worship, an
individual holiness, and a prospective veneration.

We have found, then, two opposite views of religion: that of the
Priest with his Ritual, and that of the Prophet with his Faith. I
propose to show that the Church of England, in its doctrine of
sacraments, coincides with the former of these, and sanctions all its
objectionable sentiments; and that Christianity, in every relation,
even with respect to its reputed rites, coincides with the latter.

The general conformity of the Church of England with the ritual
conception of religion will not be denied by her own members. Their
denial will be limited to one point: they will protest that her formulas
of doctrine do not ascribe a _charmed efficacy_, or any operation upon
God, to the two sacraments. To avoid verbal disputes, let us consider
what we are to understand by a spell or charm. The name, I apprehend,
denotes any material object or outward act, the possession or use of
which is thought to confer safety or blessing, not by natural operation,
but by occult virtues inherent in it, or mystical effects appended to
it. A mere commemorative sign, therefore, is not a charm, nor need there
be any superstition in its employment: it simply stands for certain
ideas and memories in our minds; re-excites and freshens them, not
otherwise than speech audibly records them, except that it summons them
before us by sight and touch, instead of sound. The effect, whatever it
may be, is purely natural, by sequence of thought on thought, till the
complexion of the mind is changed, and haply suffused with a noble glow.
But in truth it is not fit to speak of commemorations, as things having
efficacy at all; as desirable observances, under whose action we should
put ourselves, in order to get up certain good dispositions in the
heart. As soon as we see them acquiesced in, with this dutiful
submission to a kind of spiritual operation, we may be sure they are
already empty and dead. An _expedient_ commemoration, deliberately
maintained on utilitarian principles, for the sake of warming cold
affections by artificial heat, is one of the foolish conceptions of this
mechanical and sceptical age. It is quite true, that such influence is
found to belong to rites of remembrance; but only so long as it is not
privately looked into, or greedily contemplated by the staring eye of
prudence, but simply and unconsciously received. No; commemorations must
be the spontaneous fruit and outburst of a love already kindled in the
soul, not the factitious contrivance for forcing it into existence. They
are not the lighted match applied to the fuel on an altar cold; but the
shapes in which the living flame aspires, or the fretted lights thrown
by that central love on the dark temple-walls of this material life.

It is not pretended that the sacraments are mere commemorative rites.
And nothing, I submit, remains, but that they should be pronounced
charms. It is of little purpose to urge, in denial of this, that the
Church insists upon the necessity of faith on the part of the
recipient, without which no benefit, but rather peril, will accrue.
This only limits the use of the charm to a certain class, and
establishes a prerequisite to its proper efficacy. It simply conjoins
the outward form with a certain state of mind, and gives to each of
these a participation in the effect. If the faith be insufficient
without the ceremony, then _some_ efficacy is due to the rite; and
this, being neither the natural operation of the material elements,
nor a simple suggestion of ideas and feelings to the mind, but
mystical and preternatural, is no other than a charmed efficacy.

Nor will the statement, that the effect is not upon God, but upon man,
bear examination. It is very true, that the _ultimate_ benefit of these
rites is a result reputed to fall upon the worshipper;--regeneration, in
the case of baptism; participation in the atonement, in the case of the
Lord's Supper. But by what steps do these blessings descend? Not by
those of visible or perceived causation; but through an express and
extraordinary volition of God, induced by the ceremonial form, or taking
occasion from it. The sacerdotal economy, therefore, is so arranged,
that, whenever the priest dispenses the water at the font, the Holy
Spirit follows, as in instantaneous compliance with a suggestion; and
whenever he spreads his hands over the elements at the communion, God
immediately establishes a preternatural relation, not subsisting the
moment before, between the substances on the table and the souls of the
faithful communicants: so that every partaker receives, either directly
or through supernatural increase of faith, some new share in the merits
of the cross. Whatever subtleties of language then may be employed, it
is evidently conceived that the first consequence of these forms takes
place in heaven; and that on this depends whatever benediction they may
bring: nor can a plain understanding frame any other idea of them than
this; first, they act upwards, and suggest something to the mind of God,
who then sends down an influence on the mind of the believer. From this
conception no figures of speech, no ingenious analogies, can deliver us.
Do you call the sacraments "pledges of grace"? A pledge means a promise;
and how a voluntary act of ours, or the priest's, can be a promise made
to us by the Divine Being, it is not easy to understand. Do you call
them "seals of God's covenant,"--the instrument by which he engages to
make over its blessings to the Christian, like the signature and
completion of a deed conveying an estate? It still perplexes us to think
of a service of our own as an assurance received by us from Heaven. And
one would imagine that the Divine promise, once given, were enough,
without this incessant binding by periodical legalities. If it be said,
"The renewal of the obligation is needful for us, and not for him"; then
call the rites at once and simply, our service of self-dedication, the
solemn memorial of our vows. And in spite of all metaphors, the question
recurs, Does the covenant stand without these seals, or are they
essential _to give possession_ of the privileges conveyed? Are they, by
means preternatural, procurers of salvation? Have they a mystical action
towards this end? If so, we return to the same point; they have a
charmed efficacy on the human soul.

In order to establish this, nothing more is requisite than a brief
reference to the language of the Articles and Liturgical services of
the Church respecting Baptism and the Communion.

Baptism is regarded, throughout the Book of Common Prayer, as the
instrument of regeneration: not simply as its sign, of which the
actual descent of the Holy Spirit is independent; but as itself and
essentially the means or indispensable occasion of the washing away of
sin. That this is regarded as a mystical and magical, not a natural
and spiritual effect, is evident from the alleged fact of its
occurrence in infants, to whom the rite can suggest nothing, and on
whom, in the course of nature, it can leave no impression. Yet it is
declared of the infant, after the use of the water, "Seeing now,
dearly beloved brethren, that _this child is regenerate_," &c.: at the
commencement of the service its aim is said to be that God may "grant
to this child that thing which by nature he cannot have,"--"would wash
him and sanctify him with the Holy Ghost," that he may be "delivered
from God's wrath." Nothing, indeed, is so striking in this office of
the national Church, as its audacious trifling with solemn names,
denoting qualities of the soul and will; the ascription of spiritual
and moral attributes, not only to the child in whom they can yet have
no development, but even to material substances; the frivolity with
which engagements with God are made by deputy, and without the consent
or even existence of the engaging will. Water is said to possess
_sanctity_, for "the mystical washing away of sin." Infants, destitute
of any idea of duty or obligation to be resisted or obeyed, are said
to obtain "_remission of their sins_";--to "renounce the Devil and all
his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world"; "steadfastly to
believe" in the Apostles' Creed, and to be desirous of "baptism into
this faith." Belief, desire, resolve, are acts of some one's mind: the
language of this service attributes them to the personality of the
infant (_I_ renounce, _I_ believe, _I_ desire); yet there they cannot
possibly exist. If they are to be understood as affirmed by the
godfathers and godmothers of themselves, the case is not improved: for
how can one person's state of faith and conscience be made the
condition of the regeneration of another? What intelligible meaning
can be attached to these phrases of sanctity applied to an age not
responsible? In what sense, and by what indication, are these children
_holier_ than others? And with what reason, if all this be
Christianity, can we blame the Pope for sprinkling holy water on the
horses? The service appears little better than a profane sacerdotal
jugglery, by which material things are impregnated with divine
virtues, moral and spiritual qualities of the mind are sported with,
the holy spirit of God is turned into a physical mystery, and the
solemnity of personal responsibility is insulted.

That a superstitious value is attributed to the details of the
baptismal form, in the Church of England, appears from certain parts
of the service for the private ministration of the rite. If a child
has been baptized by any other lawful minister than the minister of
the parish, strict inquiries are to be instituted by the latter
respecting the correctness with which the ceremony has been performed;
and should the prescribed rules have been neglected, the baptism is
invalid, and must be repeated. Yet great solicitude is manifested,
lest danger should be incurred by an unnecessary repetition of the
sacrament: to guard against which, the minister is to give the
following conditional invitation to the Holy Spirit; saying, in his
address to the child, "_If_ thou art not already baptized, I baptize
thee," &c. It is worthy of remark, that the Church mentions as one of
the _essentials_ of the service, the omission of which necessitates
its repetition, the use of the formula, "In the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." By this rule, every one of the
apostolic baptisms recorded in Scripture must be pronounced invalid;
and the Church of England, were it possible, would perform them again:
for in no instance does it appear that the Apostles employed either
this or even any equivalent form of words.

That this sacrament is regarded as an indispensable channel of grace,
and positively necessary to salvation, is clear from the provision of
a short and private form, to be used in cases of extreme danger. The
prayers, and faith, and obedience, and patient love, of parents and
friends,--the dedication and heart-felt surrender of their child to
God, the profound application of their anxieties and grief to their
conscience and inward life,--all this, we are told, will be of no
avail, without the water and the priest. Archbishop Laud says: "That
baptism is necessary to the salvation of infants (in the ordinary way
of the Church, without binding God to the use and means of that
sacrament, to which he hath bound us), is expressed in St. John iii.,
'Except a man be born of water,' &c. So, no baptism, no entrance; nor
can infants creep in, any other ordinary way."[3] Bishop Bramhall
says: "Wilful neglect of baptism we acknowledge to be a damnable sin;
and, without repentance and God's extraordinary mercy, to exclude a
man from all hope of salvation. But yet, if such a person, before his
death, shall repent and deplore his neglect of the means of grace,
from his heart, and desire with all his soul to be baptized, but is
debarred from it invincibly, we do not, we dare not, pass sentence of
condemnation upon him; not yet the Roman Catholics themselves. The
question then is, whether the want of baptism, upon invincible
necessity, do evermore infallibly exclude from heaven."[4] Singular
struggle here, between the merciless ritual of the priest, and the
relenting spirit of the man!

The office of Communion contains even stronger marks of the same
sacerdotal superstitions; and, notwithstanding the Protestant horror
entertained of the mass, approaches it so nearly, that no ingenuity
can exhibit them in contrast. Near doctrines, however, like near
neighbors, are known to quarrel most.

The idea of a physical sanctity, residing in solid and liquid
substances, is encouraged by this service. The priest _consecrates_
the elements, by laying his hand upon all the bread, and upon every
flagon containing the wine about to be dispensed. If an additional
quantity is required, this too must be consecrated before its
distribution. And the sacredness thus imparted is represented as
surviving the celebration of the Supper, and residing in the
substances as a permanent quality: for in the disposal of the bread
and wine that may remain at the close of the sacramental feast, a
distinction is made between the consecrated and the unconsecrated
portion of the elements; the former is not permitted to quit the
altar, but is to be reverently consumed by the priest and the
communicants; the latter is given to the curate. What the particular
change may be, which the prayer and manipulation of the minister are
thought to induce, it is by no means easy to determine; nor would the
discovery, perhaps, reward our pains. It is certainly conceived, that
they cease to be any longer mere bread and wine, and that with them
thenceforth co-exist, really and substantially, the body and blood of
Christ. Respecting this _Real Presence_ with the elements, there is no
dispute between the Romish and the English Church; both unequivocally
maintain it: and the only question is, respecting the _Real Absence_
of the original and culinary bread and wine; the Roman Catholic
believing that these substantially vanish, and are replaced by the
body and blood of Christ; the English Protestant conceiving that they
remain, but are united with the latter. The Lutheran, no less than the
British Reformed Church, has clung tenaciously to the doctrine of the
real presence in the Eucharist, Luther himself declares: "I would
rather retain, with the Romanists, _only_ the body and blood, than
adopt, with the Swiss, the bread and wine, _without_ the real body and
blood of Christ." The catechism of our Church affirms that "the body
and blood of Christ are _verily and indeed_ taken and received by the
faithful in the Lord's Supper." And this was not intended to be
figuratively understood, of the spiritual use and appropriation to
which the faith and piety of the receiver would mentally convert the
elements: for although here the body of Christ is only said to be
"_taken_" (making it the _act of the communicant_), yet one of the
Articles speaks of it as "_given_" (making it the _act of the
officiating priest_), and implying the real presence _before
participation_. However anxious, indeed, the clergy of the
"Evangelical" school may be to disguise the fact, it cannot be
doubted that their Church has always maintained a supernatural change
in the elements themselves, as well as in the mind of the receiver.
Cosin, Bishop of Durham, says, "We own the union between the body and
blood of Christ, and the elements, whose use and office we hold to be
changed from what it was before"; "we confess the necessity of a
supernatural and heavenly change, and that the signs cannot become
sacraments but by the infinite power of God."[5]

In consistency with this preparatory change, a charmed efficacy is
attributed to the subsequent participation in the elements. Even the
_body_ of the communicant is said to be under their influence: "Grant
us to eat the flesh of thy dear Son, and drink his blood, that our
sinful _bodies_ may be made clean through his body, and our _souls_
washed through his most precious blood"; and the unworthy recipients
are said "to provoke God to plague them with divers diseases and
sundry kinds of death." Lest the worshipper, by presenting himself in
an unqualified state, should "do nothing else than increase his
damnation," the unquiet conscience is directed to resort to the
priest, and receive the benefit of absolution before communicating.
Can we deny to the Oxford divines the merit (whatever it may be) of
consistency with the theology of their Church, when they applaud and
recommend, as they do, the administration of the Eucharist to infants,
and to persons dying and insensible? Indeed, it is difficult to
discover why infant Communion should be thought more irrational than
infant Baptism. If, as I have endeavored to show, the primary action
of these ceremonies is conceived to be on God, not on the mind of
their object, why should not the Divine blessing be induced upon the
young and the unconscious, as well as on the mature and capable soul?
And were any further evidence required than I have hitherto adduced,
to show _on whom_ the Communion is conceived to operate in the first
instance, it would surely be afforded by this clause in the Service:
by not partaking, "_Consider how great an injury ye do unto God._"

The only thing wanted to complete this sacerdotal system, is to obtain
for a certain class of men the corporate possession, and exclusive
administration, of these essential and holy mysteries. This our Church
accomplishes by its doctrine of Apostolical Succession; claiming for
its ministers a lineal official descent from the Apostles, which
invests them, and them alone within this realm, with divine authority
to pronounce absolution or excommunication, and to administer the
Sacraments. They are thus the sole guardians of the channels of the
Divine Spirit and its grace, and interpose themselves between a nation
and its God. "Receive the Holy Ghost," says the Service for Ordination
of Priests, "for the office and work of a priest in the Church of God,
now committed unto thee by the imposition of hands. Whose sins thou
dost forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins thou dost retain, they
are retained." "They only," says the present Bishop of Exeter, "can
claim to rule over the Lord's household, whom he has himself placed
over it; they only are able to minister the means of grace,--above
all, to present the great commemorative _sacrifice_,--whom Christ has
appointed, and whom he has in all generations appointed in unbroken
succession from those, and through those, whom he first ordained.
'Ambassadors from Christ' must, by the very force of the term, receive
credentials from Christ: 'stewards of the mysteries of God' must be
intrusted with those mysteries by him. Remind your people, that in the
Church only is the promise of forgiveness of sins; and though, to all
who truly repent, and sincerely believe, Christ mercifully grants
forgiveness, yet he has, in an especial manner, empowered his
ministers to declare and pronounce to his people the absolution and
remission of their sins: 'Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted
unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.' This
was the awful authority given to his first ministers, and in them, and
through them, to all their successors. This is the awful authority we
have received, and that we must never be ashamed nor afraid to tell
the people that we have received.

"Having shown to the people your commission, show to them how our own
Church has framed its services in accordance with that commission.
Show this to them not only in the Ordinal, but also in the Collects,
in the Communion Service, in the Office of the Visitation of the Sick;
show it, especially, in that which continually presents itself to
their notice, but is commonly little regarded by them; show it in the
very commencement of Morning and Evening Prayer, and make them
understand the full blessedness of that service, in which the Church
thus calls on them to join. Let them see that there the minister
authoritatively pronounces God's pardon and absolution to all them
that truly repent, and unfeignedly believe Christ's holy Gospel; that
he does this, even as the Apostles did, with the authority and by the
appointment of our Lord himself, who, in commissioning his Apostles,
gave this to be the never-failing assurance of his co-operation in
their ministry: 'Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the
world'; a promise which, of its very nature, was not to be fulfilled
to the persons of those whom he addressed, but to their office, to
their successors therefore in that office, 'even unto the end of the
world.' Lastly, remind and warn them of the awful sanction with which
our Lord accompanied his mission, even of the second order of the
ministers whom he appointed: 'He that heareth you, heareth me; and he
that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth
him that sent me.'" That this high dignity may be clearly understood
to belong in this country only to the Church of England, the Bishop
proposes the question, "What, then, becomes of those who are not, or
continue not, members of that (visible) Church?" and replies to it by
saying, that though he "judges not them that are without," yet "he who
wilfully and in despite of due warning, or through recklessness and
worldly-mindedness, sets at naught its ordinances, and despises its
ministers, has no right to promise to himself any share in the grace
which they are appointed to convey."[6] "Why," says one of the Oxford
divines, who here undeniably speaks the genuine doctrine of his
Church,--"Why should we talk so much of an _Establishment_, and so
little of an APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION? Why should we not seriously
endeavor to impress our people with this plain truth, that, by
separating themselves from our communion, they separate themselves not
only from a decent, orderly, useful society, but from THE ONLY CHURCH

Of course this divine authority has been received through the Church
of Rome, so abominable in the eyes of all Evangelical clergymen; and
through many an unworthy link in the broken chain. The Holy Spirit, it
is acknowledged, has _passed through_ many, on whom, apparently, it
was not pleased to rest; and the right to forgive sins been conferred
by those who seemed themselves to need forgiveness. A writer in the
Oxford Tracts observes: "Nor even though we may admit that many of
those who formed the connecting links of this holy chain were
themselves unworthy of the high charge reposed in them, can this
furnish us with any solid ground for doubting or denying their power
to exercise that legitimate authority with which they were duly
invested, of transmitting the sacred gift to worthier followers."[8]

In its doctrine of Sacraments, then, and in that of ecclesiastical
authority and succession, the Church of England is thoroughly imbued
with the sacerdotal character. It doubtless contains far better elements
and nobler conceptions than those which it has been my duty to exhibit
now; and solemnly insists on faith of heart, and truth of conscience,
and Christian devotedness of life, as well as on the observance of its
ritual; with the external it unites the internal condition of
sanctification. But insisting on the theory of a mystic efficacy in the
Christian rites, it necessarily fails to reconcile these with each
other: and hence the opposite parties within its pale; the one
magnifying faith and personal spirituality, the other exalting the
sacraments and ecclesiastical communion. They represent respectively the
two constituent and clashing powers, which met at the formation of the
English Church, and of which it effected the mere compromise, not the
reconciliation; I mean, the priestliness of Rome, and the prophetic
spirit of the Reformers. Never, since apostolic days, did Heaven bless
us with truer prophet than Martin Luther. It was his mission (no modern
man had ever greater) to substitute the idea of _personal faith_ for
that of _sacerdotal reliance_. And gloriously, with bravery and truth of
soul amid a thousand hinderances, did he achieve it. But though, ever
since, the priests have been down, and faith has been up, yet did the
hierarchy unavoidably remain, and insisted that _something_ should be
made of it, and at least some colorable terms proposed. Hence, every
reformed church exhibits a coalition between the new and the old ideas:
and combined views of religion, which must ultimately prove incompatible
with each other; the formal with the spiritual; the idea of worship as a
means of propitiating God, with the conception of it as an expression of
love in man; the notion of Church authority with that of individual
freedom; the admission of a license to think, with a prohibition of
thinking wrong. In our national Church the old spirit was ascendant over
the new, though long forced into quiescence by the temper of modern
times. Now it is attempting to reassert its power, not without strenuous
resistance. Indeed, the present age seems destined to end the compromise
between the two principles, from the union of which Protestantism
assumed its established forms. The truce seems everywhere breaking up: a
general disintegration of churches is visible; tradition is ransacking
the past for claims and dignities, and canvassing present timidity for
fresh authority, to withstand the wild forces born at the Reformation,
and hurrying us fast into an unknown future.

Let us now turn to the primitive Christianity; which, I submit, is
throughout wholly anti-sacerdotal.

Surely it must be admitted that the general spirit of our Lord's
personal life and ministry was that of the Prophet, not of the Priest;
tending directly to the disparagement of whatever priesthood existed
in his country, without visibly preparing the substitution of anything
at all analogous to it. The sacerdotal order felt it so; and, with the
infallible instinct of self-preservation, they watched, they hated,
they seized, they murdered him. The priest in every age has a natural
antipathy to the prophet, dreads him as kings dread revolution, and is
the first to detect his existence. The solemn moment and the gracious
words of Christ's first preaching in Nazareth, struck with fate the
temple in Jerusalem. To the old men of the village, to the neighbors
who knew his childhood, and companions who had shared its rambles and
its sports, he said, with the quiet flush of inspiration: "The Spirit
of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the
Gospel to the poor: he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to
preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the
blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the
acceptable year of the Lord." The Spirit of the Lord in Galilee!
speaking with the peasantry, dwelling in villages, and wandering loose
and where it listeth among the hills! This would never do, thought the
white-robed Levites of the Holy City; it would be as a train of
wildfire in the temple. And were they not right? When it was revealed
that sanctity is no thing of place and time, that a way is open from
earth to heaven, from every field or mountain trod by human feet, and
through every roof that shelters a human head; that, amid the crowd
and crush of life, each soul is in personal solitude with God, and by
speech or silence (be they but true and loving) may tell its cares and
find its peace; that a divine allegiance might _cost nothing_, but the
strife of a dutiful will and the patience of a filial heart,--how
could any priesthood hope to stand? See how Jesus himself, when the
temple was close at hand, and the sunshine dressed it in its splendor,
yet withdrew his prayers to the midnight of Mount Olivet. He entered
those courts to teach, rather than to worship; and when there, he is
felt to take no consecration, but to give it; to bring with him the
living spirit of God, and spread it throughout all the place. When
evening closes his teachings, and he returns late over the Mount to
Bethany, did he not feel that there was more of God in the
night-breeze on his brow, and the heaven above him, and the sad love
within him, than in the place called "Holy" which he had left? And
when he had knocked at the gate of Lazarus the risen and become his
guest,--when, after the labors of the day, he unburdened his spirit to
the affections of that family, and spake of things divine to the
sisters listening at his feet,--did they not feel, as they retired at
length, that the whole house was full of God, and that there is no
sanctuary like the shrine, not made with hands, within us all? In
childhood, he had once preferred the temple and its teachings to his
parents' home: now, to his deeper experience, the temple has lost its
truth; while the cottage and the walks of Nazareth, the daily voices
and constant duties of this life, seem covered with the purest
consecration. True, he vindicated the sanctity of the temple, when he
heard within its enclosure the hum of traffic and the chink of gain,
and would not have the house of prayer turned into a place of
merchandise: because in this there was imposture and a lie, and Mammon
and the Lord must ever dwell apart. In nothing must there be mockery
and falsehood; and while the temple stands, it must be a temple true.

Our Lord's whole ministry, then, (to which we may add that of his
Apostles,) was conceived in a spirit quite opposite to that of
priesthood. A missionary life, without fixed locality, without form,
without rites; with teaching free, occasional, and various, with
sympathies ever with the people, and a strain of speech never marked
by invective, except against the ruling sacerdotal influence;--all
these characters proclaim him, purely and emphatically, the Prophet
of the Lord. It deserves notice that, unless as the name of his
enemies, the _word_ "PRIEST" (ἱερευς) never occurs in either the
historical or epistolary writings of the New Testament, except in the
Epistle to the Hebrews. And _there_ its application is not a little
remarkable. It is applied to Christ alone; it is declared to belong to
him only after his ascension; it is said that, while on earth, he
neither was, nor could be, a priest; and if it is admitted that he
holds the office in heaven, this is only to satisfy the demand of the
Hebrew Christians for some sacerdotal ideas in their religion, and to
reconcile them to having no priest on earth. The writer acknowledges
one great pontiff in the world above, that the whole race may be
superseded in the world below; and banishes priesthood into
invisibility, that men may never see its shadow more. All the terms of
office which are given to the first preachers of the Gospel and
superintendents of churches,--as Deacon, Elder or Presbyter, Overseer
or Bishop,--are _lay terms_, belonging previously, not to
ecclesiastical, but to civil life; an indication, surely, that no
analogy was thought to exist between the Apostolic and the Sacerdotal
relations.[9] I shall, no doubt, be reminded of the words, in which
our Lord is supposed to have given their commission to his first
representatives: "Whatsoever ye bind on earth shall be bound in
heaven; and whatsoever ye loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven";
and shall be asked whether this does not convey to them and their
successors an official authority to forgive sins, and dispense the
decrees of the unseen world. I reply briefly:--

1st. That the power here granted does not relate to the dispensations
of the future life, but solely to what would be termed, in modern
language, the allotment of _church-membership_. The previous verse
proves this, furnishing as it does a particular case of the general
authority here assigned. It directs the Apostles under what
circumstances they are to remove an offender from a Christian society,
and treat him as an unconverted man, as a heathen man and a publican.
Having given them their rule, he freely trusts the application of it
to them: and being about to retire erelong from personal intervention
in the affairs of his kingdom, he assures them that their decisions
shall be his, and that he may be considered as adopting in heaven
their determinations upon earth. He simply "consigns to his Apostles
discretionary power to direct the affairs of his Church, and
superintend the diffusion of the glad tidings: they may bind and
loose, that is, open and shut the door of admission to their
community, as their judgment may determine; employing or rejecting
applicants for the missionary office; dissociating from their
assemblies obstinate delinquents; receiving with openness, or
dismissing with suspicion, each candidate for instruction, according
to their estimate of his qualifications and motives."

2dly. It is to be observed, that there is no appearance of any one
being in the contemplation of our Lord, beyond the persons immediately
addressed. Not a word is said of any official successor or any distant
age. No indication is afforded, that any idea of futurity was present
to the mind of Jesus: and a title of perpetual office, an instrument
creating and endowing an endless priesthood, ought, it will be
admitted, to be somewhat more explicit than this. But where the power
has been successfully claimed, the title is seldom difficult to prove.

The alleged RITUAL of Christianity, consisting of the sacraments of
Baptism and the Communion, will be found no less destitute of sanction
from the Scriptures. The former we shall see reason to regard as
simply an initiatory form, applicable only to Christian converts, and
limited therefore to adults; the latter as purely a commemoration:
neither therefore having any sacramental or mystical efficacy.

For baptism it is impossible to establish any supernatural origin. It is
admitted to have existed before the Christian era; and to have been
employed by the Jews on the admission of proselytes to their religion.
It is certain that it is not an enjoined rite in the Mosaic
dispensation; and, though prevalent before the period of the New
Testament, is nowhere enforced or recognized in the writings of the Old.
It arose therefore in the interval between the only two systems which
Christians acknowledged to be supernatural; and must be considered as of
natural and human origin, invested, thus far, with no higher authority
than its own appropriateness may confer. There seem to have been two
modes of construing the symbol: the one founded on the cleansing effect
of the water on the person of the baptized himself; the other, on the
appearance of his immersion (which was complete) to the eye of a
spectator. The former was an image of the heathen convert's purification
from a foul idolatry, and his transition to a stainless condition under
a divine and justifying law. The latter represented him, when he
vanished in the stream, as interred to this world, sunk utterly from its
sight; and when he reappeared, as emerging or born again to a better
state; the "old man" was "buried in baptism," and when he "rose again,"
he had altogether "become new."[10] The ceremony then was appropriately
used in any case of transition from a depressed and corrupt state of
existence to a hopeful and blessed one; from a false or imperfect
religion to one true and heavenly.

But it will be said, whatever the origin of baptism, it was employed and
sanctioned by our Lord, who commissioned his Apostles to go and baptize
all nations. True; but is there no difference between the adoption of a
practice already extant,--of a practice which was as much the mere
institutional dress of the Apostles' nation, as the sandals whose dust
they were to shake off against the faithless were the customary clothing
of the Apostles' feet,--and the authoritative appointment of a
sacrament? They were going forth to make converts: and why should they
not have recourse to the form familiarly associated with the act?
Familiar association recommended its adoption in that age and clime; and
the absence of such association elsewhere and in other times may be
thought to justify its disuse. At all events, a ceremony thus taken up
must be presumed to retain its acquired sense and its established extent
of application: and if so, baptism must be strictly limited to the
admission of proselytes from other faiths. This accords with the known
practice of the Apostles, who cannot be shown to have baptized any but
those whom they had personally, or by their missionaries, persuaded to
become Christians. Not a single case of the use of the rite with
children can be adduced from Scripture; and the only argument by which
such employment of it is ever justified is this: that a _household_ is
said to have been baptized, and _all nations_ were to receive the offer
of it; and that the household _may_, the nations _must_, have contained
children. It is evident that such reasoning could never have been
propounded, unless the practice had existed first, and the defence had
been found afterwards.

With the system of infant baptism vanish almost all the ideas which the
prevalent theology has put into the rite; and it becomes as intelligible
and expressive to one who believes in the good capacities of human
nature, as to those who esteem it originally depraved. "How unmeaning,"
say our Orthodox opponents, "is this ceremony in Unitarian hands,
denying, as they do, the doctrines which it represents! Of what
regeneration can they possibly suppose it the symbol, if not of the
washing away of that _hereditary sin_ which they refuse to acknowledge?
for when the infant is brought to the font, he can as yet have no other
guilt than this." I reply, the objection has no force except against the
use of _infant_ baptism in our churches,--which I am not anxious to
defend; but of course those Unitarians who employ it conceive it to be
the token, not of any sentiments which they reject, but of truths and
feelings which they hold dear. For myself, I believe, with our
opponents, that the _doctrine_ of original sin and the _practice_ of
infant baptism _do_ belong to each other, and must stand or fall
together; and therefore deem it a fact very significant of the Apostles'
theology, that no infant can be shown ever to have been "brought to the
font" by these first true missionaries of Christianity. And as to the
_new birth_ which baptism (i. e. recent and genuine discipleship to
Jesus) may give to the _maturely convinced_ Christian, he must have a
great deal to learn, not only of the Hebrew conceptions and language in
relation to the Messiah, but of the spirituality of the Gospel, and of
the fresh creations of character which it calls up, who can be much
puzzled about its meaning.

In Christian baptism, then, we have no sacrament with mystic power;
but an initiatory form, possibly of consuetudinary obligation only;
but if enjoined, applicable exclusively to proselytes, and misemployed
in the case of infants; a sign of conversion, not a means of
salvation; confided to no sacerdotal order, but open to every man
fitted to give it an appropriate use.

I turn to the Lord's Supper; with design to show what it is not, and
what it is. It is not a mystery, or a sacrament, any more than it is
an expiatory sacrifice. To persuade us that it has a ritual character,
we are first assured that it is clearly the successor in the Gospel to
the Passover under the Law. Well, even if it were so, it would still
be simply commemorative, and without any other efficacy than a
festival, filled with great remembrances, and inspired with religious
joy. Such was the Paschal Feast in Jerusalem; the annual gathering of
families and kindred, a sacred carnival under the spring sky and in
sight of unreaped fields, when the memory was recalled of national
deliverance, and the tale was told of traditional glories, and the
thoughts brought back of bondage reversed, of the desert pilgrimage
ended, of the promised land possessed. The Jewish festival was no more
than this; unless, with Archbishop Magee and others, we erroneously
conceive it to be a proper sacrifice. So that those who would
interpret the Lord's Supper by the Passover have their choice between
two views: that it is a simple commemoration; or that it is an
expiatory sacrifice: in the former case they quit the Church of
England; in the latter, they fall into the Church of Rome.

But, in truth, there is no propriety in applying the name "Christian
Passover" to the Communion. The notion rests entirely on this
circumstance: that the first three Evangelists describe the last
Supper as the Paschal Supper. But the _institutional_ part of that
meal was over before the cup was distributed, and the repetition of
the act enjoined. Nor is there the slightest trace, either in the
subsequent Scriptures, or in the earliest history of the Church, that
the Communion was thought to bear relation to the Passover. The time,
the frequency, the mode, of the two were altogether different. Indeed,
when we observe that not one of these particulars is prescribed and
determined by our Lord at all, when we notice the slight and transient
manner in which he drops his wish that they would "do this in
remembrance of" him, when we compare these features of the account
with the elaborate precision of Moses respecting hours, and materials,
and dates, and places, and modes in the establishment of the Hebrew
festivals, it is scarcely possible to avoid the impression, that we
are reading narrative, not law; an utterance of personal affection,
rather than the legislative enactment of an everlasting institution.
However this may be, no importance can be attached to the reported
coincidence in the time of that meal with the day of Passover; for the
Apostle John, who gives by far the fullest account of what happened at
that table (yet never mentions the institution of the Supper), states
that this was not the paschal meal at all, which did not occur, he
says, till the following day of crucifixion.

"But," it will be said, "the Gospels are not the only parts of Scripture
whence the nature of the Eucharist may be learned. Language is employed
by St. Paul in reference to it, which cannot be understood of a mere
memorial, and implies that awful consequences hung on the worthy or
unworthy participation in the rite. Does he not even say, that a man may
'eat and drink damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body'?"

The passage whence these words are cited certainly throws great light on
the institution of which we treat; but there must be a total disregard
to the whole context and the general course of the Apostle's reasoning
before it can be made to yield any argument for the mystical character
of the rite. It would appear that the Corinthian church was in the habit
of celebrating the Lord's Supper in a way which, even if it had never
been disgraced by any indecorum, must have struck a modern Christian
with wonder at its singularity. The members met together in one room or
church, each bringing his own supper, of such quantity and quality as
his opulence or poverty might allow. To this the Apostle does not
object, but apparently considers it a part of the established
arrangement. But these Christians were divided into factions, and had
not learned the true uniting spirit of their faith; nor do they seem to
have acquired that sobriety of habit and sanctity of mind which their
profession ought to have induced. When they entered the place of
meeting, they broke up into groups and parties, class apart from class,
and rich deserting poor: each set began its separate meal, some
indulging in luxury and excess, others with scarce the means of keeping
the commemoration at all; and, infamous to tell, the blessed Supper of
the Lord was sunk into a tavern meal. So gross and habitual had the
abuse become, that the excesses had affected the health and life of
these guilty and unworthy partakers. They had made no distinction
between the Communion and an ordinary repast, had lost all perception of
the memorial significance of their meeting, had not discriminated or
"discerned the Lord's body"; and so they had eaten and drunk judgment
(improperly rendered "_damnation_" in the English Version) to
themselves; and many were weak and sickly among them, and many even
slept. Well would it be, if they would look on this as a chastening of
the Lord; in which case they might take warning, and escape being cast
out of the Church, and driven to take their chance with the unbelieving
and heathen world. "When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord,
that we should not be condemned with the world."

In order to remedy all this corruption, St. Paul reminds them, that to
eat and drink under the same roof, in the church, does not constitute
proper Communion; that, to this end, they must not break up into
sections, and retain their property in the food, but all participate
seriously together. He directs that an absolute separation shall be
made between the occasions for satisfying hunger and thirst, and those
for observing this commemorative rite, discriminating carefully the
memorial of the Lord's body from everything else. He refers them all
to the original model of the institution, the parting meal of Christ
before his betrayal; and by this example, as a criterion, he would
have every man examine himself, and after that pattern eat of the
bread and drink of the cup. Hence it appears,--

That the unworthy partaker was the riotous Corinthian, who made no
distinction between the sacred Communion and a vulgar meal:

That the judgment or damnation which such brought on themselves, was
sickliness, weakness, and premature but natural death:

That the self-examination which the Apostle recommends to the
communicant is a comparison of his mode of keeping the rite with the
original model of the last Supper:

That in the Corinthian church there was no Priest, or officiating
dispenser of the elements; and that St. Paul did not contemplate or
recommend the appointment of any such person.

The Lord's Supper, then, I conclude, was and is a simple
commemoration. Am I asked: "_Of what_? Why, according to Unitarian
views, the death on the cross merits the memorial more than the
remaining features of our Lord's history,--more even than the death of
many a noble martyr, who has sealed his testimony to truth by like
self-sacrifice"? The answer will be found at length in the Lecture on
the Atonement, where the Scriptural conceptions of Christ's death are
expounded in detail. Meanwhile, it is sufficient to recall an idea,
which has more than once been thrown out during this course; that, if
Jesus had taken up his Messianic power without death, he would have
remained a Hebrew, and been limited to the people amid whom he was
born. He quitted his mortal personality, he left this fleshly
tabernacle of existence, and became immortal, that his nationality
might be destroyed, and all men drawn in as subjects of his reign. It
was the cross that opened to the nations the blessed ways of life, and
put us all in relations, not of law, but of love, to him and God.
Hence the memorial of his death celebrates the universality and
spirituality of the Gospel; declares the brotherhood of men, the
fatherhood of providence, the personal affinity of every soul with
God. That is no empty rite which overflows with these conceptions.

Christianity, then, I maintain, is without Priest and without Ritual.
It altogether coalesces with the prophetic idea of religion, and
repudiates the sacerdotal. Christ himself was transcendently THE
PROPHET. He brought down God to this our life, and left his spirit
amid its scenes. The Apostles were prophets; they carried that spirit
abroad, revealing everywhere to men the sanctity of their nature, and
the proximity of their heaven. Nor am I even unwilling to admit an
apostolic succession, never yet extinct, and never more to be
extinguished. But then it is by no means a rectilinear regiment of
incessant priests; but a broken, scattered, yet glorious race of
prophets; the genealogy of great and Christian souls, through whom the
primitive conceptions of Jesus have propagated themselves from age to
age; mind producing mind, courage giving birth to courage, truth
developing truth, and love ever nurturing love, so long as one good
and noble spirit shall act upon another. Luther surely was the child
of Paul; and what a noble offspring has risen to manhood from Luther's
soul, whom to enumerate were to tell the best triumphs of the modern
world. These are Christ's true ambassadors; and never did he mean any
follower of his to be called a priest. He has his genuine messenger,
wherever, in the Church or in the world, there toils any one of the
real prophets of our race; any one who can create the good and great
in other souls, whether by truth of word or deed, by the inspiration
of genuine speech, or the better power of a life merciful and holy.

       *       *       *       *       *

And here, my friends, with my subject might my Lecture close, were it
not that we are assembled now to terminate this controversy; and that
a few remarks in reference to its whole course and spirit seem to be

That the recent aggression upon the principles of Unitarian
Christianity was prompted by no unworthy motive, individual or
political, but by a zeal, Christian so far as its spirit is
disinterested, and unchristian only so far as it is exclusive, has
never been doubted or denied by my brother ministers or myself. That
much personal consideration and courtesy have been evinced towards us
during the controversy, it is so grateful to us to acknowledge, that
we must only regret the theological obstructions in the way of that
mutual knowledge which softens the prejudices and corrects the errors
of the closet. From such errors, the lot of our fallible nature, we
are deeply aware that we cannot be exempt, and profoundly wish that,
by others' aid or by our own, we could discover them. Meanwhile, we do
not feel that our opponents have been successful in the offer which
they have made, of help towards this end. They are too little
acquainted with our history and character, and have far too great a
horror of us, to succeed in a design demanding rather the benevolence
of sympathy and trust than that of antipathy and fear. Hence have
arisen certain complaints and charges against our system and its
tendencies, which, having been reiterated again and again in the
Christ Church Lectures, and scarcely noticed in our own, claim a
concluding observation or two now.

1. We are said to be infidels in disguise, and our system to be
drifting fast towards utter unbelief. At all events, it is said we
make great advances that way.

It is by no means unusual to dismiss this charge on a whirlwind of
declamation, designed to send it and the infidel to the greatest
possible distance. My friend who delivered the first Lecture noticed
it in a far different spirit; and in a discussion where truth and
wisdom had any chance, his reply would have prevented any recurrence
to the statement. Let me try to imitate him in the testimony which I
desire to add upon this point.

Every one, I presume, who disbelieves _anything_, is, with respect to
that thing, _an infidel_. Departure from any prevalent and established
ideas is inevitably an approach to infidelity; the extent of the
departure, not the reasonableness or propriety of it, is the sole
measure of the nearness of that approach; which, however wise and
sober, when estimated by a true and independent criterion, will
appear, to persons strongly possessed by the ascendant notions,
nothing less than alarming, amazing, awful. In short, the average
popular creed of the day is the mental standard, from which the stadia
are measured off towards that invisible, remote, nay, even imaginary
place, lodged somewhere within chaos, called utter unbelief.
Christianity at first was blank infidelity; and disciples, being of
course the atheists of their day, were thought a fit prey for the
wild beasts of the amphitheatre. Every rejection of tradition, again,
is unbelief with respect to it; and to those who hold its authority,
it is the denial of an essential. It is too evident to need proof,
that the average popular belief cannot be assumed, by any considerate
person, as a standard of truth. To make it an objection against any
class of men, that they depart from it, is to prove no error against
them; and no one, who is not willing to call in the passions of the
multitude in suffrage on the controversies of the few, will condescend
to enforce the charge.

But only observe how, in the present instance, the matter stands. In
the popular religion we discern, mixed up together, two constituent
portions: certain _peculiar_ doctrines which characterize the common
Orthodoxy; and certain _universal_ Christian truths remaining, when
these are subtracted. The infidel throws away both of these; we throw
away the former only; and thus far, no doubt, we partially agree with
him. But _on what grounds_ do we severally justify this rejection? In
answer to this question, compare the views, with respect both to the
_authority_ and to the _interpretation_ of Scripture, held by the
three parties, the Trinitarian, the Unbeliever, the Unitarian. The
Unbeliever does not usually find fault with the Orthodox
_interpretation_ of the Bible, but allows it to pass, as probably the
real meaning of the book, only he altogether denies the divine
character and authority of the whole religion; he therefore _agrees_
with the Trinitarian respecting interpretation, disagrees with him
respecting _authority_. The Unitarian, again, admits the divine
character of Christianity, but understands it differently from the
Trinitarian; he therefore reverses the former case, _agrees_ with the
Orthodox on the authority, _disagrees_ respecting interpretation. It
follows, that with the Unbeliever he agrees _in neither_, and is
therefore farther from him than his Trinitarian accuser.

I have given this explanation from regard simply to logical truth. I
have no desire to join in the outcry against even the deliberate
unbeliever in the Gospel, as if he must necessarily be a fiend.
Profoundly loving and trusting Christianity myself, I yet feel indignant
at the persecution which theology, policy, and law inflict on the many
who, with undeniable exercise of conscientiousness and patience of
research, are yet unable to satisfy themselves respecting its evidence.
The very word "_infidel_," implying not simply an intellectual judgment,
but bad moral qualities, conveys an unmerited insult, and ought to be
repudiated by every generous disputant. The more deeply we trust
Christianity, the more should we protest against its being defended by a
body-guard of passions, willing to do for it precisely the services
which they might equally render to the vulgarest imposture.

2. We were recently accused, amid acknowledgments of our _honesty_,
with want of _anxiety_ about spiritual truth; and the following
justification of the charge was offered: "The word of God has informed
us, that they who seek the truth shall find it; that they who ask for
holy wisdom shall receive it; but it must be a _really anxious
inquiry_,--a heart-felt desire for the blessing. 'If thou seekest her
as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures, then shalt thou
understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.' Such
promises are express,--they cannot be broken,--God will give the
blessing to the _sincere_, _anxious_ inquirer. But the two qualities
must go together. A man may be sincere in his ignorance and spiritual
torpor; but let the full desire for God's favor, his pardoning mercy,
and his enlightening grace spring up in the heart, and we may rest
assured that the desire will soon be accomplished. Admitting, then,
the sincerity of Unitarians, we doubt their anxiety, for we are well
persuaded from God's promises, that, if they possessed both, they
would be delivered from their miserable system, and be brought to the
knowledge of the truth."[11]

The praise of our "_sincerity_," conveyed in these bland sentences, we
are anxious to decline: not that we undervalue the quality; but
because we find, on near inspection, that it has all been emptied out
of the word before its presentation, and the term comes to us hollow
and worthless. It affords a specimen of the mode in which alone our
opponents appear able to give any credit to heretics: many phrases of
approbation they freely apply to us; but they take care to draw off
the whole meaning first. We must reject these "Greek presents"; and we
are concerned that any Christian divine can so torture and desecrate
the names of virtue, as to make them instruments of disparagement and
injury. This play with words, which every conscience should hold
sacred, and every lip pronounce with reverence,--this careless and
unmeaning application of them in discourse,--indicates a loose
adhesion to the mind of the ideas denoted by them, which we regard
with unfeigned astonishment and grief. What, let me ask, can be the
"_sincerity_" of an inquirer, who is not "_anxious_" _about the
truth_? How can _he_ be "_sincerely_" persuaded that he sees, who
voluntarily shuts his eyes? Unless this word is to be degraded into a
synonyme for indolence and self-complacency, no professed seeker of
truth must have the praise of sincerity, who does not abandon all
worship of his own state of mind as already perfect, who is not ready
to listen to every calm doubt as to the voice of heaven,--to undertake
with gratitude the labor of reaching new knowledge,--to maintain his
faith and his profession in scrupulous accordance with his perception
of evidence; and, at any moment of awakening, to spring from his most
brilliant dreams into God's own morning light, with a matin hymn upon
his lips for his new birth from darkness and from sleep. The
earnestness implied in this state of mind is perhaps not precisely the
same as that with which our Trinitarian opponents seem to be familiar.
The "anxiety" which they appear to feel for themselves is, to keep
their existing state of belief: the "anxiety" which they feel for us
is, that we should have it. We are to hold ourselves ready for a
change; they are not to be expected to desire it. If a doubt of _our
opinions_ should occur _to us_, we are to foster it carefully, and
follow it out as a beckoning of the Holy Spirit: if a doubt of _their
sentiments_ should occur _to them_, they are to crush it on the spot,
as a reptile-thought sent of Satan to tempt them. "Our aim," says the
concluding Lecturer again, "has been to beget a deep spirit of
inquiry";[12] and so has ours, I would reply: only you and we have
severally prosecuted this aim in different ways. We have personally
listened, and personally inquired, and earnestly recommended all whom
our influence could reach, to do the same: and few indeed will be the
Unitarian libraries containing one of these series of Lectures that
will not exhibit the other by its side. You have entered this
controversy, evidently strange to our literature and history; and any
deficiency in such reading before, has not been compensated by anxiety
to listen now. Your people have been warned against us, and are taught
to regard the study of our publications as blasphemy at second hand;
and were they really so simple as to act upon your avowed wish "to
beget a deep spirit of inquiry," and plunge into the investigation of
Unitarian authors, and judge for themselves of Unitarian worship, they
would speedily hear the word of recall, and discover that they were
practically disappointing the whole object of this controversy.

Having said thus much respecting the unmeaning use of language in the
Lecturer's disparaging estimate of Unitarian "anxiety," we may
profitably direct a moment's attention to the _reasoning_ which it
involves. It presents us with the standing fallacy of intolerance,
which is sufficiently rebuked by being simply exhibited. Our opponents
reason thus:--

                 God will not permit the really anxious fatally to err:
                 The Unitarians _do_ fatally err:
      Therefore, The Unitarians are not really anxious.

Now it is clear that we must conceive our opponents to be no less
mistaken than they suppose us to be. They are as far from us, as we
from them; and from either point, taken as a standard, the measure of
error must be the same. Moreover, we cannot but eagerly assent to the
principle of the Lecturer's first premise, that God will never let the
truly anxious fatally miss their way. So that there is nothing, in the
nature of the case, to prevent our turning this same syllogism, with a
change in the names of the parties, against our opponents. Yet we
should shrink, with severe self-reproach, from drawing any such
unfavorable conclusion respecting them, as they deduce of us.
Accordingly, we manage our reasoning thus:--

                 God will not permit the really anxious fatally to err:
                 The Trinitarians show themselves to be really anxious:
      Therefore, The Trinitarians do not fatally err.

Our opponents are more sure that their judgment is in the right, than
that their neighbors' conscience is in earnest. They sacrifice other
men's characters to their own self-confidence: we would rather distrust
our self-confidence, and rely on the visible signs of a good and careful
mind. We honor other men's hearts, rather than our own heads. How can it
be just, to make the agreement between an opponent's opinion and our own
the criterion of his proper conduct of the inquiry? Every man feels the
injury the moment the rule is turned against himself; and every good man
should be ashamed to direct it against his brother.

3. Our reverend opponents affect to have labored under a great
disadvantage, from the absence of any recognized standard of Unitarian
belief. "We give you," they say, "our Articles and Creeds, which we
unanimously undertake to defend, and which expose a definite object to
all heretical attacks. In return, you can furnish us with no
authorized exposition of your system, but leave us to gather our
knowledge of it from individual writers, for whose opinions you refuse
to be responsible, and whose reasonings, when refuted by us, you can
conveniently disown."

Plausible as this complaint may appear, I venture to affirm, that it
is vastly easier to ascertain the common belief of Unitarians, than
that of the members of the Established Church; and for this plain
reason, that with us there really is such a thing as a common faith,
though defined in no confession; in the Anglican Church there is not,
though articles and creeds profess it. The characteristic tenets of
Unitarian Christianity are so simple and unambiguous, that little
scope exists for variety in their interpretation: to the propositions
expressing them all their professors attach _distinct and the same_
ideas;--so far, at least, as such accordance is possible in relation
to subjects inaccessible both to demonstration and to experience. But
the Trinitarian hypothesis, venturing with presumptuous analysis far
into the Divine psychology, presents us with ideas confessedly
inapprehensible; propounded in language which, if used in its ordinary
sense, is self-contradictory, and if not, is unmeaning, and ready in
its emptiness to be filled by any arbitrary interpretation;--and
actually understood so variously by those who subscribe to them, that
the Calvinist and the Arminian, the Tritheist and the Sabellian, unite
to praise them. Indeed, in the history of the English Church, so
visible is the sweep of the centre of Orthodoxy over the whole space
from the confines of Romanism to the verge of Unitarianism, that our
ecclesiastical chronology is measured by its oscillations. Our
respected opponents know full well, that it is not necessary to search
beyond the clergy of this town, or even beyond the morning and
afternoon preaching in one and the same church, in order to encounter
greater contrasts in theology, than could be found in a whole library
of Unitarian divinity. What mockery, then, to refer us to these
articles as expositions of clerical belief, when the moment we pass
beyond the words, and address ourselves to the sense, every shade of
contrariety appears; and no one definite conception can be adopted of
such a doctrine as that of the Trinity, without some church expositor
or other starting up to rebuke it as a misrepresentation! How poor the
pride of uniformity, which contents itself with lip-service to the
symbol, in the midst of heart-burnings about the reality!

In order to test the force of the objection to which I am referring,
let us advert, in detail, to the topics which exhibit the Unitarian
and Trinitarian theology in most direct opposition. It will appear
that the advantage of unity lies, in this instance, on the side of
heresy; and that, if multiformity be a prime characteristic of error,
there is a wide difference between orthodoxy and truth. There are four
great subjects comprised in the controversy between the Church and
ourselves: the nature of God; of Christ; of sin; of punishment. On
these several points (which, considered as involving on our part
denials of previous ideas, may be regarded as containing the
_negative_ elements of our belief) all our modern writers, without
material variation or exception, maintain the following doctrines:--


  1. The Personal Unity of God.     1. The Trinity in Unity.

  2. The Simplicity of Nature in    2. Two Distinct Natures in
     Christ.                           Christ.

  3. The Personal Origin and        3. The Transferable Nature
     Identity of Sin.                  and Vicarious Removal
                                       of Sin.

  4. The Finite Duration of Future  4. The Eternity of Hell
     Suffering.                        Torments.

Now no one at all familiar with polemical literature can deny that the
modes and ambiguities of doctrine comprised in this Trinitarian list
are more numerous than can be detected in the parallel "heresies." I
am willing, indeed, to admit an exception in respect to the last of
the topics, and to allow that the belief in the finite duration of
future punishment has opposed itself, in two forms, to the single
doctrine of everlasting torments. But when the systems are compared at
their other corresponding points, the boast of orthodox uniformity
instantly vanishes. Since the primitive jealousy between the Jewish
and Gentile Christianity, the rivalry between the "Monarchy" and the
"Economy," the believers in the personal unity of God, though often
severed by ages from each other, have held that majestic truth in one
unvaried form. Never was there an idea so often lost and recovered,
yet so absolutely unchanged: a sublime but occasional visitant of the
human mind, assuring us of the perpetual oneness of our own nature, as
well as the Divine. We can point to no unbroken continuity of our
great doctrine: and if we could, we should appeal with no confidence
to the evidence of so dubious a phenomenon; for if a system of ideas
once gains possession of society, and attracts to itself complicated
interests and feelings, many causes may suffice to insure its
indefinite preservation. But we can point to a greater phenomenon: to
the long and repeated extinction of our favorite belief, to its
submersion beneath a dark and restless fanaticism; and its invariable
resurrection, like a necessary intuition of the soul, in times of
purer light, with its features still the same; stamped with
imperishable identity of truth, and, like him to whom it refers,
without variableness or shadow of a turning. Meanwhile, who will
undertake to enumerate and define the succession of Trinities by which
this doctrine has been bewildered and banished? Passing by the
Aristotelian, the Platonic, the Ciceronian, the Cartesian
Trinity,--quitting the stormy disputes and contradictory decisions of
the early councils, shall we find among even the modern fathers of our
National Church any approach to unanimity? Am I to be content with the
doctrine of Bishop Bull, and subordinate the Son to the Father as the
sole fountain of divinity? Or must I rise to the Tritheism of
Waterland and Sherlock? or, accepting the famous decision of the
University of Oxford, descend, with Archbishop Whately, to the modal
Trinity of South and Wallis? Are we to understand the phrase, three
persons, to mean three beings united by "perichoresis," three "mutual
inexistences," three "modes," three "differences," three
"contemplations," or three "somewhats"; or, being told that this is
but a vain prying into a mystery, shall we be satisfied to leave the
phrase without idea at all? It is to the last degree astonishing to
hear from Trinitarian divines the praises of uniformity of belief;
seeing that it is one of the chief labors of ecclesiastical history to
record the incessant effort, vain to the present day, to give some
stability of meaning to the fundamental doctrines of their faith.

The same remark applies, with little modification, to the opposite views
respecting the person of the Saviour. It is true, that Unitarians,
agreed respecting the singleness of nature in Christ, differ respecting
the natural rank of that nature, whether his soul were human or angelic.
But, for this solitary variety among these heretics, how many doctrines
of the Logos and the Incarnation does Orthodox literature contain? Can
any one affirm, that, when the Council of Ephesus had arbitrated between
the Eutychian doctrine of absorption, and the Nestorian doctrine of
separation, all doubt and ambiguity was removed by the magic phrase
"hypostatic union"? Since the monophysite contest was at its height, has
the Virgin Mary been left in undisputed possession of her title as
"Mother of God"? Has the Eternal Generation of the Son encountered no
orthodox suspicions, and the Indwelling scheme received no orthodox
support? And if we ask these questions: "What respectively happened to
the two natures on the cross? what has become of Christ's human soul
now? is it separate from the Godhead, like any other immortal spirit, or
is it added to the Deity, so as to introduce into his nature a new and
fourth element?" shall we receive from the many voices of the Church but
one accordant answer? Nay, do the authors of this controversy suppose
that, during its short continuance, they have been able to maintain
their unanimity? If they do, I believe that any reader who thinks it
worth while to register the varieties of error, would be able to
undeceive them. If the diversities of doctrine cannot easily and often
be shown to amount to palpable inconsistencies, this must be ascribed, I
believe, to the mystic and technical phraseology, the substitute rather
than the expression for precise ideas,--which has become the vernacular
dialect of orthodox divinity. The jargon of theology affords a field
too barren to bear so vigorous a weed as an undisputed contradiction.

It is needless to dwell on the numerous forms under which the doctrine
of Atonement has been held by those who subscribe the articles of our
National Church; while its Unitarian opponents have taken their fixed
station on the personal character and untransferable nature of sin. One
writer tells us that only the human nature perished on the cross;
another, that God himself expired: some say, that Christ suffered no
more intensely, but only more "meritoriously," than many a martyr;
others, that he endured the whole quantity of torment due to the wicked
whom he redeemed: some, that it is the spotlessness of his manhood that
is imputed to believers; others, that it is the holiness of his Deity.
From the high doctrine of satisfaction to the very verge of Unitarian
heresy, every variety of interpretation has been given to the language
of the established formularies respecting Christian redemption. Nor is
it yet determined whether, in the lottery of opinion, the name of Owen,
Sykes, or Magee shall be drawn for the prize of orthodoxy.

And if, from those parts of our belief to which the accidents of their
historical origin have given a _negative_ character, we turn to those
which are _positive_, not the slightest reason will appear for charging
them with uncertainty and fluctuation. All Unitarian writers maintain
the Moral Perfection and Fatherly Providence of the Infinite Ruler; the
Messiahship of Jesus Christ, in whose person and spirit there is a
Revelation of God and a Sanctification for Man; the Responsibility and
Retributive Immortality of men; and the need of a pure and devout heart
of Faith, as the source of all outward goodness and inward communion
with God. These great and self-luminous points, bound together by
natural affinity, constitute the fixed centre of our religion. And on
subjects beyond this centre we have no wider divergences than are found
among those who attach themselves to an opposite system. For example,
the relations between Scripture and Reason, as evidences and guides in
questions of doctrine, are not more unsettled among us, than are the
relations between Scripture and Tradition in the Church. Nor is the
perpetual authority of the "Christian rites" so much in debate among our
ministers, as the efficacy of the sacraments among the clergy. In truth,
our diversities of sentiment affect far less _what_ we believe, than the
question _why_ we believe it. Different modes of reasoning, and
different results of interpretation, are no doubt to be found among our
several authors. We all make our appeal to the records of Christianity;
but we have voted no particular commentator into the seat of authority.
And is not this equally true of our opponents' Church? Their articles
and creeds furnish no textual expositions of Scripture, but only results
and deductions from its study. And so variously have these results been
elicited from the sacred writings, that scarcely a text can be adduced
in defence of the Trinitarian scheme, which some witness unexceptionably
orthodox may not be summoned to prove inapplicable. In fine, we have no
greater variety of critical and exegetical opinion than the divines from
whom we dissent; while the system of Christianity in which our
Scriptural labors have issued, has its leading characteristics better
determined and more apprehensible than the scheme which the articles and
creeds have vainly labored to define.

The refusal to embody our sentiments in any authoritative formula
appears to strike observers as a whimsical exception to the general
practice of churches. The peculiarity has had its origin in hereditary
and historical associations; but it has its defence in the noblest
principles of religious freedom and Christian communion. At present,
it must suffice to say, that our societies are dedicated, not to
theological opinions, but to religious worship; that they have
maintained the unity of the spirit, without insisting on any unity of
doctrine; that Christian liberty, love, and piety are their essentials
in perpetuity, but their Unitarianism an accident of a few or many
generations,--which has arisen, and might vanish, without the loss of
their identity. We believe in the mutability of religious systems, but
the imperishable character of the religious affections;--in the
progressiveness of opinion within, as well as without, the limits of
Christianity. Our forefathers cherished the same conviction; and so,
not having been born intellectual bondsmen, we desire to leave our
successors free. Convinced that uniformity of doctrine can never
prevail, we seek to attain its only good--peace on earth and communion
with Heaven--without it. We aim to make a true Christendom,--a
commonwealth of the faithful,--by the binding force, not of
ecclesiastical creeds, but of spiritual wants and Christian
sympathies; and indulge the vision of a Church that "in the latter
days shall arise," like "the mountain of the Lord," bearing on its
ascent the blossoms of thought proper to every intellectual clime, and
withal massively rooted in the deep places of our humanity, and gladly
rising to meet the sunshine from on high.

And now, friends and brethren, let us say a glad farewell to the
fretfulness of controversy, and retreat again, with thanksgiving, into
the interior of our own venerated truth. Having come forth, at the
severer call of duty, to do battle for it, with such force as God
vouchsafes to the sincere, let us go in to live and worship beneath
its shelter. They tell you it is not the true faith. Perhaps not; but
then you think it so; and that is enough to make your duty clear, and
to draw from it, as from nothing else, the very peace of God. May be,
we are on our way to something better, unexistent and unseen as yet,
which may penetrate our souls with nobler affection, and give a fresh
spontaneity of love to God and all immortal things. Perhaps there
cannot be the truest life of faith, except in scattered individuals,
till this age of conflicting doubt and dogmatism shall have passed
away. Dark and leaden clouds of materialism hide the heaven from us;
red gleams of fanaticism pierce through, vainly striving to reveal it;
and not till the weight is heaved from off the air, and the thunders
roll down the horizon, will the serene light of God flow upon us, and
the blue infinite embrace us again. Meanwhile we must reverently love
the faith we have; to quit it for one that we have not, were to lose
the breath of life and die.


[3] Conference with Fisher, § 15; quoted in Tracts for the Times, No.
76. Catena Patrum, No. II. p. 18.

[4] Of Persons dying without Baptism, p. 979; quoted in _loc. cit._
pp. 19, 20.

[5] History of Popish Transubstantiation, Chap. IV.; printed in the
Tracts for the Times, No. XXVII. pp. 14, 15.

[6] Bishop of Exeter's Charge, delivered at his Triennial Visitation
in August, September, and October, 1836, pp. 44-47.

[7] Tracts for the Times, No. IV. p. 5.

[8] Ibid., No. V. pp. 9, 10.

[9] Archbishop Whately, speaking of the word ἱερευς and its meaning,
says: "This is an office assigned to none under the Gospel scheme,
except the ONE great High-Priest, of whom the Jewish priests were
types." (Elements of Logic. Appendix: Note on the word "Priest.") Of the
"_Gospel scheme_" this is quite true; of the _Church-of-England scheme_
it is not. There lies before me Duport's Greek version of the
Prayer-Book and Offices of the Anglican Church: and turning to the
Communion Service, I find the officiating clergyman called ἱερευς
throughout. The _absence_ of this word from the records of the primitive
Gospel, and its _presence_ in the Prayer-Book, is perfectly expressive
of the difference in the spirit of the two systems;--the difference
between the Church _with_, and the "Christianity _without_ Priest."

[10] See Rom. vi. 2-4: "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any
longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into
Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with
him by baptism into death; that, like as Christ was raised up from the
dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness
of life." Mr. Locke observes of "St. Paul's argument," that it "is to
show in what state of life we ought to be raised out of baptism, in
similitude and conformity to that state of life Christ was raised into
from the grave." See also Col. ii. 12: "Ye are ... buried with him in
baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the
operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." The force of the
image clearly depends on the sinking and rising in the water.

[11] Mr. Dalton's Lecture on the Eternity of Future Rewards and
Punishments, p. 760.

[12] Mr. Dalton's Lecture, p. 760.


    "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other
    name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be
    saved."--Acts iv. 12.

The scene which we have this evening to visit and explore, is separated
from us by the space of eighteen centuries; yet of nothing on this earth
has Providence left, within the shadows of the past, so vivid and divine
an image. Gently rising above the mighty "field of the world," Calvary's
mournful hill appears, covered with silence now, but distinctly showing
the heavenly light that struggled there through the stormiest elements
of guilt. Nor need we only gaze, as on a motionless picture that closes
the vista of Christian ages. Permitting history to take us by the hand,
we may pace back in pilgrimage to the hour, till its groups stand around
us, and pass by us, and its voices of passion and of grief mock and wail
upon our ear. As we mingle with the crowd which, amid noise and dust,
follows the condemned prisoners to the place of execution, and fix our
eye on the faint and panting figure of one that bears his cross, could
we but whisper to the sleek priests close by, how might we startle them,
by telling them the future fate of this brief tragedy,--brief in act, in
blessing everlasting; that this Galilean convict shall be the world's
confessed deliverer, while they that have brought him to this shall be
the scorn and by-word of the nations; that that vile instrument of
torture, now so abject that it makes the dying slave more servile,
shall be made, by this victim and this hour, the symbol of whatever is
holy and sublime; the emblem of hope and love; pressed to the lips of
ages; consecrated by a veneration which makes the sceptre seem trivial
as an infant's toy. Meanwhile, the sacerdotal hypocrites, unconscious of
the part they play, watch to the end the public murder which they have
privately suborned; stealing a phrase from Scripture, that they may mock
with holy lips; and leaving to the plebeian soldiers the mutual jest and
brutal laugh, that serve to beguile the hired but hated work of agony,
and that draw forth from the sufferer that burst of forgiving prayer,
which sunk at least into their centurion's heart. One there is, who
should have been spared the hearing of these scoffs; and perhaps she
heard them not; for before his nature was exhausted more, his eye
detects and his voice addresses her, and twines round her the filial arm
of that disciple, who had been ever the most loving as well as most
beloved. She at least lost the religion of that hour in its humanity,
and beheld not the prophet, but the son:--had not her own hands wrought
that seamless robe for which the soldiers' lot is cast; and her own lips
taught him that strain of sacred poetry, "My God, my God, why hast thou
forsaken me?" but never had she thought to hear it _thus_. As the cries
become fainter and fainter, scarcely do they reach Peter standing afar
off. The last notice of him had been the rebuking look that sent him to
weep bitterly; and now the voice that alone can tell him his forgiveness
will soon be gone! Broken hardly less, though without remorse, is the
youthful John, to see that head, lately resting on his bosom, drooping
passively in death; and to hear the involuntary shriek of Mary, as the
spear struck upon the lifeless body, moving now only as it is
moved;--whence he alone, on whom she leaned, records the fact. Well
might the Galilean friends stand at a distance gazing; unable to depart,
yet not daring to approach; well might the multitudes that had cried
"Crucify him!" in the morning, shudder at the thought of that clamor ere
night; "beholding the things that had come to pass, they smote their
breasts and returned."

This is the scene of which we have to seek the interpretation. Our
first natural impression is, that it requires no interpretation, but
speaks for itself; that it has no mystery, except that which belongs
to the triumphs of deep guilt, and the sanctities of disinterested
love. To raise our eye to that serene countenance, to listen to that
submissive voice, to note the subjects of its utterance, would give us
no idea of any mystic horror concealed behind the human features of
the scene; of any invisible contortions, as from the lash of demons,
in the soul of that holy victim; of any sympathetic connection of that
cross with the bottomless pit on the one hand, and the highest heaven
on the other; of any moral revolution throughout our portion of the
universe, of which this public execution is but the outward signal.
The historians drop no hint that its sufferings, its affections, its
relations, were other than human,--raised indeed to distinction by
miraculous accompaniments; but intrinsically, however signally, human.
They mention, as if bearing some appreciable proportion to the whole
series of incidents, particulars so slight, as to vanish before any
other than the obvious historical view of the transaction; the thirst,
the sponge, the rent clothes, the mingled drink. They ascribe no
sentiment to the crucified, except such as might be expressed by one
of like nature with ourselves, in the consciousness of a finished work
of duty, and a fidelity never broken under the strain of heaviest
trial. The narrative is clearly the production of minds filled, not
with theological anticipations, but with historical recollections.

With this view of Christ's death, which is such as might be
entertained by any of the primitive churches, having one of the
Gospels only, without any of the Epistles, we are content. I conceive
of it, then, as manifesting the last degree of moral perfection in the
Holy One of God; and believe that, in thus being an expression of
character, it has its primary and everlasting value. I conceive of it
as the needful preliminary to his resurrection and ascension, by which
the severest difficulties in the theory of Providence, life, and duty
are alleviated or solved. I conceive of it as immediately procuring
the universality and spirituality of the Gospel; by dissolving those
corporeal ties which gave nationality to Jesus, and making him, in his
heavenly and immortal form, the Messiah of humanity; blessing,
sanctifying, regenerating, not a people from the centre of Jerusalem,
but a world from his station in the heavens. And these views, under
unimportant modifications, I submit, are the only ones of which
Scripture contains a trace.

All this, however, we are assured, is the mere outside aspect of the
crucifixion; and wholly insignificant compared with the invisible
character and relations of the scene; which, localized only on earth,
has its chief effect in hell; and, though presenting itself among the
occurrences of time, is a repeal of the decretals of Eternity. The being
who hangs upon that cross is not man alone; but also the everlasting
God, who created and upholds all things, even the sun that now darkens
its face upon him, and the murderers who are waiting for his expiring
cry. The anguish he endures is not chiefly that which falls so
poignantly on the eye and ear of the spectator; the injured human
affections, the dreadful momentary doubt; the pulses of physical
torture, doubling on him with full or broken wave, till driven back by
the overwhelming power of love disinterested and divine. But he is
judicially abandoned by the Infinite Father; who expends on him the
immeasurable wrath due to an apostate race, gathers up into an hour the
lightnings of Eternity, and lets them loose upon that bended head. It is
the moment of retributive justice; the expiation of all human guilt:
that open brow hides beneath it the despair of millions of men; and to
the intensity of agony there, no human wail could give expression.
Meanwhile, the future brightens on the elect; the tempests that hung
over their horizon are spent. The vengeance of the lawgiver having had
its way, the sunshine of a Father's grace breaks forth, and lights up,
with hope and beauty, the earth, which had been a desert of despair and
sin. According to this theory, Christ, in his death, was a proper
expiatory sacrifice; he turned aside, by enduring it for them, the
infinite punishment of sin from all past or future believers in this
efficacy of the cross; and transferred to them the natural rewards of
his own righteousness. An acceptance of this doctrine is declared to be
the prime condition of the Divine forgiveness; for no one who does not
_see_ the pardon can _have_ it. And this pardon, again, this clear score
for the past, is a necessary preliminary to all sanctification; to all
practical opening of a disinterested heart towards our Creator and man.
Pardon, and the perception of it, are the needful preludes to that
conforming love to God and men, which is the true Christian salvation.

The evidence in support of this theory is derived partly from natural
appearances, partly from Scriptural announcements. Involving, as it
does, statements respecting the actual condition of human nature, and
the world in which we live, some appeal to experience, and to the
rational interpretation of life and Providence, is inevitable; and hence
certain propositions, affecting to be of a philosophical character, are
laid down as fundamental by the advocates of this system. Yet it is
admitted, that direct revelation only could have acquainted us, either
with our lost condition, or our vicarious recovery; and that all we can
expect to accomplish with nature, is to harmonize what we observe there
with what we read in the written records of God's will; so that the main
stress of the argument rests on the interpretation of Scripture. The
principles deduced from the nature of things, and laid down as a basis
for this doctrine, may be thus represented:--

That man needs a Redeemer; having obviously fallen, by some disaster,
into a state of misery and guilt, from which the worst penal
consequences must be apprehended; and were it not for the probability
of such lapse from the condition in which it was fashioned, it would
be impossible to reconcile the phenomena of the world with the justice
and benevolence of its Creator.

That Deity only can redeem; since, to preserve veracity, the penalty
of sin must be inflicted; and the diversion only, not the annihilation
of it, is possible. To let it fall on angels would fail of the desired
end; because human sin, having been directed against an Infinite
Being, has incurred an infinitude of punishment; which on no created
beings could be exhausted in any period short of eternity. Only a
nature strictly infinite can compress within itself, in the compass of
an hour, the woes distributed over the immortality of mankind. Hence,
were God personally One, like man, no redemption could be effected;
for there would be no Deity to suffer, except the very One who must
punish. But the triplicity of the Godhead relieves all difficulty;
for, while one Infinite inflicts, another Infinite endures; and
resources are furnished for the atonement.

Amid a great variety of forms in which the theory of atonement exists,
I have selected the foregoing; which, if I understand aright, is that
which is vindicated in the present controversy. I am not aware that I
have added anything to the language in which it is stated by its
powerful advocate, unless it be a few phrases, leaving its essential
meaning the same, but needful to render it compact and clear.

The Scriptural evidence is found principally in certain of the
Apostolical Epistles; and this circumstance will render it necessary
to conduct a separate search into the historical writings of the New
Testament, that we may ascertain how they express the corresponding
set of ideas. Taking up successively these two branches of the
subject, the natural and the Biblical, I propose to show, first, that
this doctrine is inconsistent with itself; secondly, that it is
inconsistent with the Christian idea of salvation.

I. It is inconsistent with itself.

(1.) In its manner of treating the principles of natural religion.

Our faith in the infinite benevolence of God is represented as
destitute of adequate support from the testimony of nature. It
requires, we are assured, the suppression of a mass of appearances,
that would scare it away in an instant, were it to venture into their
presence; and is a dream of sickly and effeminate minds, whose belief
is the inward growth of amiable sentimentality, rather than a genuine
production from God's own facts. The appeal to the order and
magnificence of creation, to the structures and relations of the
inorganic, the vegetable, the animal, the spiritual forms, that fill
the ascending ranks of this visible and conscious universe;--to the
arrangements which make it a blessing to be born, far more than a
suffering to die,--which enable us to extract the relish of life from
its toils, the affections of our nature from its sufferings, the
triumphs of goodness from its temptations;--to the seeming plan of
general progress, which elicits truth by the self-destruction of
error, and by the extinction of generations gives perpetual
rejuvenescence to the world;--this appeal, which is another name for
the scheme of natural religion, is dismissed with scorn; and sin and
sorrow and death are flung in defiance across our path,--barriers
which we must remove, ere we can reach the presence of a benignant
God. Come with us, it is said, and listen to the wail of the sick
infant; look into the dingy haunts where poverty moans its life away;
bend down your ear to the accursed hum that strays from the busy hives
of guilt; spy into the hold of the slave-ship; from the factory follow
the wasted child to the gin-shop first, and then to the cellar called
its home; or look even at your own tempted and sin-bound souls, and
your own perishing race, snatched off into the dark by handfuls
through the activity of a destroying God; and tell us, did our
benevolent Creator make a creature and a world like this? A Calvinist
who puts this question is playing with fire. But I answer the question
explicitly: All these things we have met steadily, and face to face;
in full view of them, we have taken up our faith in the goodness of
God; and in full view of them we will hold fast that faith. Nor is it
just or true to affirm, that our system hides these evils, or that our
practice refuses to grapple with them. And if you confess that these
ills of life would be too much for your natural piety, if you declare,
that these rugged foundations and tempestuous elements of Providence
would starve and crush your confidence in God, while ours strikes its
roots in the rock, and throws out its branches to brave the storm, are
you entitled to taunt us with a faith of puny growth? Meanwhile, we
willingly assent to the principle which this appeal to evil is
designed to establish; that, with much apparent order, there is some
apparent disorder in the phenomena of the world; that from the latter,
by itself, we should be unable to infer any goodness and benevolence
in God; and that, were not the former clearly the predominant result
of natural laws, the character of the Great Cause of all things would
be involved in agonizing gloom. The mass of physical and moral evil we
do not profess fully to explain; we think that in no system whatever
is there any approach to an explanation; and we are accustomed to
touch on that dread subject with the humility of filial trust, not
with the confidence of dogmatic elucidation.

Surely the fall of our first parents, I shall be reminded, gives the
requisite solution. The disaster which then befell the human race has
changed the primeval constitution of things; introduced mortality and
all the infirmities of which it is the result; introduced sin, and all
the seeds of vile affections which it compels us to inherit; introduced
also the penalties of sin, visible in part on this scene of life, and
developing themselves in another in anguish everlasting. Fresh from the
hand of his Creator, man was innocent, happy, and holy; and he it is,
not God, who has deformed the world with guilt and grief.

Now, _as a statement of fact_, all this may or may not be true. Of this
I say nothing. But who does not see that, _as an explanation_, it is
inconsistent with itself, partial in its application, and leaves matters
incomparably worse than it found them? It is inconsistent with itself;
for Adam, perfectly pure and holy as he is reputed to have been, gave
the only proof that could exist of his being neither, by succumbing to
the first temptation that came in his way; and though finding no
enjoyment but in the contemplation of God, gave himself up to the first
advances of the Devil. Never surely was a reputation for sanctity so
cheaply won. The canonizations of the Romish Calendar have been
curiously bestowed on beings sufficiently remote from just ideas of
excellence; but usually there is _something_ to be affirmed of them,
legendary or otherwise, which, _if true_, might justify a momentary
admiration. But our first parent was not laid even under this necessity,
to obtain a glory greater than canonization; he had simply to do
nothing, except to fall, in order to be esteemed the most perfectly holy
of created minds. Most partial, too, is this theory in its application;
for disease and hardship, and death unmerited as the infant's, afflict
the lower animal creation. Is this, too, the result of the fall? If so,
it is an _unredeemed_ effect; if not, it presses on the benevolence of
the Maker, and, by the physical analogies which connect man with the
inferior creatures, forces on us the impression, that his corporeal
sufferings have an original source not dissimilar from theirs. And
again, this explanation only serves to make matters worse than before.
For how puerile is it to suppose that men will rest satisfied with
tracing back their ills to Adam, and refrain from asking who was Adam's
cause! And then comes upon us at once the ancient dilemma about evil;
was it a mistake, or was it malignity, that created so poor a creature
as our progenitor, and staked on so precarious a will the blessedness of
a race and the well-being of a world? So far, this theory, falsely and
injuriously ascribed to Christianity, would leave us where we were: but
it carries us into deeper and gratuitous difficulties, of which natural
religion knows nothing, by appending eternal consequences to Adam's
transgression; a large portion of which, after the most sanguine
extension of the efficacy of the atonement, must remain unredeemed. So
that if, under the eye of naturalism, the world, with its generations
dropping into the grave, must appear (as we heard it recently
described[13]) like the populous precincts of some castle, whose
governor called his servants, after a brief indulgence of liberty and
peace, into a dark and inscrutable dungeon, never to return or be seen
again, the only new feature which this theory introduces into the
prospect is this: that the interior of that cavernous prison-house is
disclosed; and while a few of the departed are seen to have emerged into
a fairer light, and to be traversing greener fields, and sharing a more
blessed liberty than they knew before, the vast multitude are discerned
in the gripe of everlasting chains and the twist of unimaginable
torture. And all this infliction is a penal consequence of a first
ancestor's transgression! Singular spectacle to be offered in
vindication of the character of God!

We are warned, however, not to start back from this representation, or
to indulge in any rash expression at the view which it gives of the
justice of the Most High; for that, beyond all doubt, parallel instances
occur in the operations of nature; and that, if the system deduced from
Scripture accords with that which is in action in the creation, there
arises a strong presumption that both are from the same Author. The
arrangement which is the prime subject of objection in the foregoing
theory, viz. the vicarious transmission of consequences from acts of
vice and virtue, is said to be familiar to our observation as a _fact_;
and ought, therefore, to present no difficulties in the way of the
admission of a _doctrine_. Is it not obvious, for example, that the
guilt of a parent may entail disease and premature death on his child,
or even remoter descendants? And if it be consistent with the Divine
perfections that the innocent should suffer for others' sins at the
distance of one generation, why not at the distance of a thousand? The
guiltless victim is not more completely severed from identity with Adam,
than he is from identity with his own father. My reply is brief: I admit
both the fact and the analogy; but the fact is of the exceptional kind,
from which, by itself, I could not infer the justice or the benevolence
of the Creator; and which, were it of large and prevalent amount, I
could not even reconcile with these perfections. If then you take it
out of the list of exceptions and difficulties, and erect it into a
cardinal rule, if you interpret by it the whole invisible portion of
God's government, you turn the scale at once against the character of
the Supreme, and plant creation under a tyrant's sway. And this is the
fatal principle pervading all analogical arguments in defence of
Trinitarian Christianity. No resemblances to the system can be found in
the universe, except in those anomalies and seeming deformities which
perplex the student of Providence, and which would undermine his faith,
were they not lost in the vast spectacle of beauty and of good. These
disorders are selected and spread out to view, as specimens of the
Divine government of nature; the mysteries and horrors which offend us
in the popular theology are extended by their side; the comparison is
made, point by point, till the similitude is undeniably made out; and
when the argument is closed it amounts to this: Do you doubt whether God
could break men's limbs? You mistake his strength of character; only see
how he puts out their eyes! What kind of impression this reasoning may
have, seems to me doubtful even to agony. Both Trinitarian theology and
nature, it is triumphantly urged, must proceed from the same Author; ay,
but what sort of author is that? You have led me, in your quest after
analogies, through the great infirmary of God's creation; and so haunted
am I by the sights and sounds of the lazar-house, that scarce can I
believe in anything but pestilence; so sick of soul have I become, that
the mountain breeze has lost its scent of health; and you say, it is all
the same in the other world, and wherever the same rule extends: then I
know my fate, that in this universe Justice has no throne. And thus, my
friends, it comes to pass, that these reasoners often gain indeed their
victory; but it is known only to the Searcher of Hearts, whether it is a
victory against natural religion, or in favor of revealed. For this
reason I consider the "Analogy" of Bishop Butler (one of the profoundest
of thinkers, and on purely moral subjects one of the justest too) as
containing, with a design directly contrary, the most terrible
persuasives to Atheism that have ever been produced. The essential error
consists in selecting the difficulties,--which are the rare, exceptional
phenomena of nature,--as the basis of analogy and argument. In the
comprehensive and generous study of Providence, the mind may, indeed,
already have overcome the difficulties, and, with the lights recently
gained from the harmony, design, and order of creation, have made those
shadows pass imperceptibly away; but when forced again into their very
centre, compelled to adopt them as a fixed station and point of mental
vision, they deepen round the heart again, and, instead of illustrating
anything, become solid darkness themselves.

I cannot quit this topic without observing, however, that there
appears to be nothing in nature and life at all analogous to the
vicarious principle attributed to God in the Trinitarian scheme of
Redemption. There is nowhere to be found any proper transfer or
exchange, either of the qualities, or of the consequences, of vice and
virtue. The good and evil acts of men do indeed affect others _as
well_ as themselves; the innocent suffer _with_ the guilty, as in the
case before adduced, of a child suffering in health by the excesses of
a parent. But there is here no endurance _for_ another, similar to
Christ's alleged endurance in the place of men; the infliction on the
child is not deducted from the parent; it does nothing to lighten his
load, or make it less than it would have been, had he been without
descendants; nor does any one suppose his guilt alleviated by the
existence of this innocent fellow-sufferer. There is a nearer approach
to analogy in those cases of crime, where the perpetrator seems to
escape, and to leave the consequences of his act to descend on others;
as when the successful cheat eludes pursuit, and from the stolen gains
of neighbors constructs a life of luxury for himself; or when a
spendthrift government, forgetful of its high trust, turning the
professions of patriotism into a lie, is permitted to run a prosperous
career for one generation, and is personally gone before the popular
retribution falls, in the next, on innocent successors. Here, no
doubt, the harmless suffer _by_ the guilty, in a certain sense _in
the place of_ the guilty: but not in the sense which the analogy
requires. For there is still no substitution; the distress of the
unoffending party is not struck out of the offender's punishment; does
not lessen, but rather aggravates, his guilt; and, instead of fitting
him for pardon, tempts the natural sentiments of justice to follow him
with severer condemnation. Nor does the scheme receive any better
illustration from the fact, that whoever attempts the cure of misery
must himself suffer; must have the shadows of ill cast upon his spirit
from every sadness he alleviates; and interpose himself to stay the
plague which, in a world diseased, threatens to pass to the living
from the dead. The parallel fails, because there is still no
transference: the appropriate sufferings of sin are not given to the
philanthropist; and the noble pains of goodness in him, the glorious
strife of his self-sacrifice, are no part of the penal consequences of
others' guilt; they do not cancel one iota of those consequences, or
make the crimes which have demanded them, in any way, more ready for
forgiveness. Indeed, it is not in the good man's _sufferings_,
considered as such, that any efficacy resides; but in his _efforts_,
which may be made with great sacrifice or without it, as the case may
be. Nor, at best, is there any proper annihilation of consequences at
all accruing from his toils; the past acts of wrong which call up his
resisting energies are irrevocable, the guilt incurred, the penalty
indestructible; the series of effects, foreign to the mind of the
perpetrator, may be abbreviated; prevention applied to new ills which
threaten to arise; but by all this the personal fitness of the
delinquent for forgiveness is wholly unaffected; the volition of sin
has gone forth, and on it flies, as surely as sound on a vibration of
the air, the verdict of judgment.

Those who are affected by slight and failing analogies like these,
would do well to consider one, sufficiently obvious, which seems to
throw doubt upon their scheme. The atonement is thought to be, in
respect to all believers, a reversal of the fall: the effects of the
fall are partly visible and temporal, partly invisible and eternal;
linked, however, together as inseparable portions of the same penal
system. Now it is evident, that the supposed redemption on the cross
has left precisely where they were all the _visible_ effects of the
first transgression: sorrow and toil are the lot of all, as they have
been from of old; the baptized infant utters a cry as sad as the
unbaptized; and between the holiness of the true believer and the
worth of the devout heretic, there is not discernible such a
difference as there must have been between Adam pure and perfect and
Adam lapsed and lost. And is it presumptuous to reason from the seen
to the unseen, from the part which we experience to that which we can
only conceive? If the known effects are unredeemed, the suspicion is
not unnatural, that so are the unknown.

I sum up, then, this part of my subject by observing, that, besides
many inconclusive appeals to nature, the advocates of the vicarious
scheme are chargeable with this fundamental inconsistency. They appear
to deny that the justice and benevolence of God can be reconciled with
the phenomena of nature; and say that the evidence must be helped out
by resort to their interpretation of Scripture. When, having heard
this auxiliary system, we protest that it renders the case sadder than
before, they assure us that it is all benevolent and just, because it
has its parallel in creation. They renounce and adopt, in the same
breath, the religious appeal to the universe of God.

(2.) Another inconsistency appears, in the view which this theory
gives of the character of God.

It is assumed that, at the era of creation, the Maker of mankind had
announced the infinite penalties which must follow the violation of
his law; and that their amount did not exceed the measure which his
abhorrence of wrong required. "And that which he saith, he would not
be God if he did not perform: that which he perceived right, he would
be unworthy of our trust, did he not fulfil. His veracity and justice,
therefore, were pledged to adhere to the word that had gone forth; and
excluded the possibility of any free and unconditional forgiveness."
Now I would note, in passing, that this announcement to Adam of an
eternal punishment impending over his first sin, is simply a fiction;
for the warning to him is stated thus: "In the day that thou eatest
thereof, thou shalt surely die"; from which our progenitor must have
been ingenious as a theologian, to extract the idea of endless life in
hell. But to say no more of this, what notions of veracity have we
here? When a sentence is proclaimed against crime, is it indifferent
to judicial truth _upon whom_ it falls? Personally addressed to the
guilty, may it descend without a lie upon the guiltless? Provided
there is the suffering, is it no matter _where_? Is this the sense in
which God is no respecter of persons? O what deplorable reflection of
human artifice is this, that Heaven is too veracious to abandon its
proclamation of menace against transgressors, yet is content to vent
it on goodness the most perfect! No darker deed can be imagined, than
is thus ascribed to the Source of all perfection, under the insulted
names of truth and holiness. What reliance could we have on the
faithfulness of such a Being? If it be consistent with his nature to
_punish_ by substitution, what security is there that he will not
_reward_ vicariously? All must be loose and unsettled, the sentiments
of reverence confused, the perceptions of conscience indistinct, where
the terms expressive of those great moral qualities which render God
himself most venerable are thus sported with and profaned.

The same extraordinary departure from all intelligible meaning of
words is apparent, when our charge of vindictiveness against the
doctrine of sacrifice is repelled as a slander. If the rigorous
refusal of pardon till the whole penalty has been inflicted, (when,
indeed, it is no pardon at all,) be not vindictive, we may ask to be
furnished with some better definition. And though it is said, that
God's love was manifested to us by the gift of his Son, this does but
change the object on which this quality is exercised, without removing
the quality itself; putting _us_ indeed into the sunshine of his
grace, but _the Saviour_ into the tempest of his wrath. Did we desire
to sketch the most dreadful form of character, what more emphatic
combination could we invent than this,--rigor in the exaction of penal
suffering, and indifference as to the person on whom it falls?

But in truth this system, in its delineations of the Great Ruler of
creation, bids defiance to all the analogies by which Christ and the
Christian heart have delighted to illustrate his nature. A God who
could accept the spontaneously returning sinner, and restore him by
corrective discipline, is pronounced not worth serving, and an object
of contempt.[14] If so, Jesus sketched an object of contempt when he
drew the father of the prodigal son, opening his arms to the poor
penitent, and needing only the sight of his misery to fall on his neck
with the kiss of welcome home. Let the assertions be true, that
sacrifice and satisfaction are needful preliminaries to pardon, that
to pay any attention to repentance without these is mere weakness, and
that it is a perilous deception to teach the doctrine of mercy apart
from the atonement, and this parable of our Saviour's becomes the most
pernicious instrument of delusion,--a statement, absolute and
unqualified, of a feeble and sentimental heresy. Who does not see what
follows from this scornful exclusion of corrective punishment? Suppose
the infliction not to be corrective, that is, not to be designed for
any good, what then remains as the cause of the Divine retribution?
The sense of insult offered to a law. And thus we are virtually told,
that God must be regarded with a mixture of contempt, unless he be
susceptible of personal affront.

(3.) The last inconsistency with itself, which I shall point out in
this doctrine, will be found in the view which it gives of the work of
Christ. Sin, we are assured, is necessarily infinite. Its infinitude
arises from its reference to an Infinite Being, and involves as a
consequence the necessity of redemption by Deity himself.

The position, that guilt is to be estimated, not by its amount or its
motive, but by the dignity of the being against whom it is directed,
is illustrated by the case of an insubordinate soldier, whose
punishment is increased according as his rebellion assails an equal
or any of the many grades amongst his superiors. It is evident,
however, that it is not the dignity of the person, but the magnitude
of the effect, which determines the severity of the sanction by which,
in such an instance, law enforces order. Insult to a monarch is more
sternly treated than injury to a subject, because it incurs the risk
of wider and more disastrous consequences, and superadds to the
personal injury a peril to an official power which, not resting on
individual superiority, but on conventional arrangement, is always
precarious. It is not indeed easy to form a distinct notion of an
infinite act in a finite agent; and still less is it easy to evade the
inference, that, if an immoral deed against God be an infinite
demerit, a moral deed towards him must be an infinite merit.

Passing by an assertion so unmeaning, and conceding it for the sake of
progress in our argument, I would inquire what is intended by that
other statement, that only Deity can redeem, and that by Deity the
sacrifice was made? The union of the divine and human natures in
Christ is said to have made his sufferings meritorious in an infinite
degree. Yet we are repeatedly assured, that it was in his manhood only
that he endured and died. If the divine nature in our Lord had a joint
consciousness with the human, then did God suffer and perish; if not,
then did the man only die, Deity being no more affected by his
anguish, than by that of the malefactors on either side. In the one
case the perfections of God, in the other the reality of the
atonement, must be relinquished. No doubt, the popular belief is, that
the Creator literally expired; the hymns in common use declare it; the
language of pulpits sanctions it; the consistency of creeds requires
it; but professed theologians repudiate the idea with indignation. Yet
by silence or ambiguous speech, they encourage, in those whom they are
bound to enlighten, this degrading humanization of Deity; which
renders it impossible for common minds to avoid ascribing to him
emotions and infirmities totally irreconcilable with the serene
perfections of the Universal Mind. In his influence on the
worshipper, _He_ is no Spirit, who can be invoked by his agony and
bloody sweat, his cross and passion. And the piety that is thus taught
to bring its incense, however sincere, before the mental image of a
being with convulsed features and expiring cry, has little left of
that which makes Christian devotion characteristically venerable.

II. I proceed to notice the inconsistency of the doctrine under review
with the Christian idea of salvation.

There is one _significant Scriptural fact_, which suggests to us the
best mode of treating this part of our subject. It is this: that the
language supposed to teach the atoning efficacy of the cross does not
appear in the New Testament till the Gentile controversy commences,
nor ever occurs apart from the treatment of that subject, under some
of its relations. The cause of this phenomenon will presently appear;
meanwhile I state it, in the place of an assertion sometimes
incorrectly made, viz. that the phraseology in question is confined to
the Epistles. Even this mechanical limitation of sacrificial passages
is indeed nearly true, as not above three or four have strayed beyond
the epistolary boundary into the Gospels and the book of Acts; but the
restriction in respect of subject, which I have stated, will be found,
I believe, to be absolutely exact, and to furnish the real
interpretation to the whole system of language.

(1.) Let us then first test the vicarious scheme by reference to the
sentiments of Scripture generally, and of our Lord and his Apostles
especially, where this controversy is out of the way. Are their ideas
respecting human character, the forgiveness of sin, the terms of
everlasting life, accordant with the cardinal notions of a believer in
the atonement? Do they, or do they not, insist on the necessity of a
sacrifice for human sin, as a preliminary to pardon, to
sanctification, to the love of God? Do they, or do they not, direct a
marked and almost exclusive attention to the cross, as the object to
which, far more than to the life and resurrection of our Lord, all
faithful eyes should be directed?

(a.) Now to the fundamental assertion of the vicarious system, that
the Deity cannot, without inconsistency and imperfection, pardon on
simple repentance, the whole tenor of the Bible is one protracted and
unequivocal contradiction. So copious is its testimony on this head,
that if the passages containing it were removed, scarcely a shred of
Scripture relating to the subject would remain. "Pardon, I beseech
thee," said Moses, pleading for the Israelites, "the iniquity of this
people, according to the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast
forgiven this people from Egypt even until now. And the Lord said, _I
have pardoned according to thy word_." Will it be affirmed, that this
chosen people had their eyes perpetually fixed in faith on the great
propitiation, which was to close their dispensation, and of which
their own ceremonial was a type?--that whenever penitence and pardon
are named amongst them, this reference is implied, and that as this
faith was called to mind and expressed in the shedding of blood at the
altar, such sacrificial offerings take the place, in Judaism, of the
atoning trust in Christianity? Well, then, let us quit the chosen
nation altogether, and go to a heathen people, who were aliens to
their laws, their blood, their hopes, and their religion; to whom no
sacrifice was appointed, and no Messiah promised. If we can discover
the dealings of God with such a people, the case, I presume, must be
deemed conclusive. Hear, then, what happened on the banks of the
Tigris. "Jonah began to enter into the city," (Nineveh,) "and he cried
and said, yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the
people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on
sackcloth, from the greatest of them even unto the least of them."
"Who can tell," (said the decree of the king ordaining the fast,) "if
God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we
perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil
way; and God repented of the evil that he had said he would do unto
them; and he did it not." And when the prophet was offended, first at
this clemency to Nineveh, and afterwards that the canker was sent to
destroy his own favorite plant, beneath whose shadow he sat, what did
Jehovah say? "Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for which thou hast not
labored, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night and perished
in a night; and should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein
are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between
their right hand and their left hand?"--and who are not likely, one
would think, to have discerned the future merits of the Redeemer.

In truth, if even the Israelites had any such prospective views to
Calvary, if their sacrifices conveyed the idea of the cross erected
there, and were established for this purpose, the fact must have been
privately revealed to modern theologians; for not a trace of it can be
found in the Hebrew writings. It must be thought strange, that a
prophetic reference so habitual should be always a secret reference;
that a faith so fundamental should be so mysteriously suppressed; that
the uppermost idea of a nation's mind should never have found its way to
lips or pen. "But if it were not so," we are reminded, "if the Jewish
ritual prefigured nothing ulterior, it was revolting, trifling, savage;
its worship a butchery, and the temple courts no better than a
slaughter-house." And were they not equally so, though the theory of
types be true? If neither priest nor people could _see at the time_ the
very thing which the ceremonial was constructed to reveal, what
advantage is it that divines can see it _now_? And even if the notion
was conveyed to the Jewish mind, (which the whole history shows not to
have been the fact,) was it necessary that hecatombs should be slain,
age after age, to intimate obscurely an idea, which one brief sentence
might have lucidly expressed? The idea, however, it is evident, slipped
through after all; for when Messiah actually came, the one great thing
which the Jews did _not_ know and believe about him was, that he could
die at all. So much for the preparatory discipline of fifteen centuries!

There is no reason, then, why anything should be supplied in our
thoughts, to alter the plain meaning of the announcements of prophets
and holy men, of God's unconditional forgiveness on repentance. "Thou
desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it; thou delightest not in
burnt-offering; the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken
and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." "Wash you, make
you clean," says the prophet Isaiah in the name of the Lord; "put away
the evil of your doings from before mine eyes, cease to do evil, learn
to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the
fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together,
saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as
snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Once
more, "When I say unto the wicked, thou shalt surely die; if he turn
from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; if the wicked
restore the pledge, give again that he hath robbed, walk in the
statutes of life without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he
shall not die." Nor are the teachings of the Gospel at all less
explicit. Our Lord treats largely and expressly on the doctrine of
forgiveness in several parables, and especially that of the prodigal
son; and omits all allusion to the propitiation for the past. He
furnishes an express definition of the terms of eternal life: "Good
master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And
he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good save
one, that is God; but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the
commandments." And Jesus adds, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell
that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in
heaven; and come, follow me." This silence on the prime condition of
pardon cannot be explained by the fact, that the crucifixion had not
yet taken place, and could not safely be alluded to, before the course
of events had brought it into prominent notice. For we have the
preaching of the Apostles, after the ascension, recorded at great
length, and under very various circumstances, in the book of Acts. We
have the very "words whereby," according to the testimony of an angel,
"Cornelius and all his house shall be saved"; these, one would think,
would be worth hearing in this cause: "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Ghost, and with power; who went about doing good, and
healing all that were oppressed of the Devil, for God was with him.
And we are witnesses of all things which he did, both in the land of
the Jews and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree. Him
God raised up the third day, and showed openly; not to all the people,
but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and
drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to
preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he who was ordained
of God to be the judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets
witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall
receive remission of sins." Did an Evangelical missionary dare to
preach in this style now, he would be immediately disowned by his
employers, and dismissed as a disguised Socinian, who kept back all
the "peculiar doctrines of the Gospel."

(b.) The emphatic mention of the resurrection by the Apostle Peter in
this address, is only a particular instance of a system which pervades
the whole preaching of the first missionaries of Christ. _This_, and
not the cross, with its supposed effects, is the grand object to which
they call the attention and the faith of their hearers. I cannot quote
to you the whole book of Acts; but every reader knows, that "Jesus and
the resurrection" constitutes the leading theme, the central
combination of ideas in all its discourses. This truth was shed, from
Peter's tongue of fire, on the multitudes that heard amazed the
inspiration of the day of Pentecost. Again, it was his text, when,
passing beneath the beautiful gate, he made the cripple leap for joy;
and then, with the flush of this deed still fresh upon him, leaned
against a pillar in Solomon's porch, and spake in explanation to the
awe-struck people, thronging in at the hour of prayer. Before priests
and rulers, before Sanhedrim and populace, the same tale is told
again, to the utter exclusion, be it observed, of the essential
doctrine of the cross. The authorities of the temple, we are told,
were galled and terrified at the Apostle's preaching; "naturally
enough," it will be said, "since, the real sacrifice having been
offered, their vocation, which was to make the prefatory and typical
oblation, was threatened with destruction." But no, this is not the
reason given: "They were grieved because they preached, through Jesus,
the resurrection from the dead." Paul, too, while his preaching was
spontaneous and free, and until he had to argue certain controversies
which have long ago become obsolete, manifested a no less remarkable
predilection for this topic. Before Felix, he declares what was the
grand indictment of his countrymen against him: "Touching the
resurrection of the dead, I am called in question of you this day."
Follow him far away from his own land; and, with foreigners, he harps
upon the same subject, as if he were a man of one idea; which, indeed,
according to our opponents' scheme, he ought to have been, only it
should have been _another idea_. Seldom, however, can we meet with a
more exuberant mind than Paul's; yet the resurrection obviously haunts
him wherever he goes: in the synagogue of Antioch you hear him
dwelling on it with all the energy of his inspiration; and, at Athens,
it was this on which the scepticism of Epicureans and Stoics fastened
for a scoff. In his Epistles, too, where he enlarges so much on
justification by faith, when we inquire what precisely is this faith,
and what the object it is to contemplate and embrace, this remarkable
fact presents itself: that the one only important thing respecting
Christ, which is _never once_ mentioned as the object of justifying
faith, is _his death_, _and blood_, _and cross_. "Faith" by itself,
the "faith of Jesus Christ," "faith of the Gospel," "faith of the Son
of God," are expressions of constant occurrence; and wherever this
general description is replaced by a more specific account of this
justifying state of mind, it is _faith in the resurrection_ on which
attention is fastened. "It is Christ that died, _yea, rather, that is
risen again_." "He was delivered for our offences, and _raised again
for our justification_." "Faith shall be imputed to us for
righteousness, if we believe on _him that raised up Jesus our Lord
from the dead_." Hear, too, the Apostle's definition of saving faith:
"If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt
believe in thy heart _that God hath raised him from the dead_, thou
shalt be saved." The only instance in which the writings of St. Paul
appear to associate the word faith with the death of Christ, is the
following text: "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through
faith in his blood"; and in this case the Apostle's meaning would, I
conceive, be more faithfully given by destroying this conjunction, and
disposing the words thus: "Whom God hath set forth to be a
propitiation by his blood, through faith." The idea of his _blood_, or
_death_, belongs to the word propitiation, not to the word faith. To
this translation no Trinitarian scholar, I am persuaded, can
object;[15] and when the true meaning of the writer's sacrificial
language is explained, the distinction will appear to be not
unimportant. At present I am concerned only with the defence of my
position, that the death of Christ is never mentioned as the object of
saving faith; but that his resurrection unquestionably is. This
phenomenon in Scripture phraseology is so extraordinary, so utterly
repugnant to everything which a hearer of orthodox preaching would
expect, that I hardly expect my affirmation of it to be believed. The
two ideas of _faith_, and of our _Lord's death_, are so naturally and
perpetually united in the mind of every believer in the atonement,
that it must appear to him incredible that they should never fall
together in the writings of the Apostles. However, I have stated my
fact; and it is for you to bring it to the test of Scripture.

(c.) Independently of all written testimony, moral reasons, we are
assured, exist, which render an absolute remission for the past
essential to a regenerated life for the future. Our human nature is said
to be so constituted, that the burden of sin, on the conscience once
awakened, is intolerable; our spirit cries aloud for mercy; yet is so
straitened by the bands of sin, so conscious of the sad alliance
lingering still, so full of hesitancy and shame when seeking the relief
of prayer, so blinded by its tears when scanning the heavens for an
opening of light and hope, that there is no freedom, no unrestrained and
happy love to God; but a pinched and anxious mind, bereft of power,
striving to work with bandaged or paralytic will, instead of trusting
itself to loosened and self-oblivious affections. Hence it is thought,
that the sin of the past must be cancelled, before the holiness of the
future can be commenced; that it is a false order to represent
repentance as leading to pardon, because to be forgiven is the
prerequisite to love. We cannot forget, however, how distinctly and
emphatically he who, after God, best knew what is in man, has
contradicted this sentiment; for when that sinful woman, whose presence
in the house shocked the sanctimonious Pharisee, stood at his feet as he
reclined, washing them with her tears, and kissing them with reverential
lips, Jesus turned to her and said, "Her sins, which are many, are
forgiven; _for_ she loved much." From him, then, we learn, what our own
hearts would almost teach, that love may be the prelude to forgiveness,
as well as forgiveness the preparative for love.

At the same time let me acknowledge, that this statement respecting
the moral effects of conscious pardon, to which I have invoked Jesus
to reply, is by no means an unmixed error. It touches upon a very
profound and important truth; and I can never bring myself to regard
that assurance of Divine forgiveness, which the doctrine of atonement
imparts, as a demoralizing state of mind, encouraging laxity of
conscience and a continuance in sin. The sense of pardon, doubtless,
reaches the secret springs of gratitude, presents the soul with an
object, strange before, of new and divine affection, and binds the
child of redemption, by all generous and filial obligations, to serve
with free and willing heart the God who hath gone forth to meet him.
That the motives of self-interest are diminished in such a case, is a
trifle that need occasion small anxiety. For the human heart is no
laborer for hire; and, where there is opportunity afforded for true
and noble love, will thrust away the proffered wages, and toil rather
in a free and thankful spirit. If we are to compare, as a source of
duty, the grateful with the merely prudential temper, rather may we
trust the first, as not the worthier only, but the stronger too; and
till we obtain emancipation from the latter,--forget the computations
of hope and fear, and precipitate ourselves for better or for worse on
some object of divine love and trust,--our nature will be puny and
weak, our wills will turn in sickness from their duty, and our
affections shrink in aversion from their heaven. But though personal
gratitude is better than prudence, there is a higher service still. A
more disinterested love may spring from the contemplation of what God
is in himself, than from the recollection of what he has done for us;
and when this mingles most largely as an element among our springs of
action; when, humbled indeed by a knowledge of dangers that await us,
and thankful, too, for the blessings spread around us, we yet desire
chiefly to be fitting children of the everlasting Father and the holy
God; when we venerate him for the graciousness, and purity, and
majesty of his spirit, impersonated in Jesus, and resolve to serve him
truly, _before_ he has granted the desire of our heart, and because he
is of a nature so sublime and merciful and good;--then are we in the
condition of her who bent over the feet of Christ; and we are
forgiven, because we have loved much.

(2.) Let us now, in conclusion, turn our attention to those portions
of the New Testament which speak of the death of Christ as the means
of redemption.

I have said, that these are to be found exclusively in passages of the
sacred writings which treat of the Gentile controversy, or of topics
immediately connected with it. This controversy arose naturally out of
the design of Providence to make the narrow, exclusive, ceremonial
system of Judaism give birth to the universal and spiritual religion of
the Gospel; from God's method of expanding the Hebrew Messiah into the
Saviour of humanity. For this the nation was not prepared; to this even
the Hebrew Christians could not easily conform their faith; and in the
achievement of this, or in persuading the world that it was achieved,
did Paul spend his noble life, and write his astonishing Epistles. The
Jews knew that the Deliverer was to be of their peculiar stock, and
their royal lineage; they believed that he would gather upon himself all
the singularities of their race, and be a Hebrew to intensity; that he
would literally restore the kingdom to Israel; ay, and extend it too,
immeasurably beyond the bounds of its former greatness; till, in fact,
it swallowed up all existing principalities, and powers, and thrones,
and dominions, and became coextensive with the earth. Then in Jerusalem,
as the centre of the vanquished nations, before the temple, as the altar
of a humbled world, did they expect the Messiah to erect his throne; and
when he had taken the seat of judgment, to summon all the tribes before
his tribunal, and pass on the Gentiles, excepting the few who might
submit to the law, a sentence of perpetual exclusion from his realm;
while his own people would be invited to the seats of honor, occupy the
place of authority, and sit down with him (the greatest at his right
hand and his left) at his table in his kingdom. The holy men of old were
to come on earth again to see this day. And many thought that every part
of the realm thus constituted, and all its inhabitants, would never die:
but, like the Messiah himself, and the patriarchs whom he was to call to
life, would be invested with immortality. None were to be admitted to
these golden days except themselves; all else to be left in outer
darkness from this region of light, and there to perish and be seen no
more. The grand title to admission was conformity with the Mosaic law;
the most ritually scrupulous were the most secure; and the careless
Israelite, who forgot or omitted an offering, a tithe, a Sabbath duty,
might incur the penalty of exclusion and death: the law prescribed such
mortal punishment for the smallest offence; and no one, therefore, could
feel himself ready with his claim, if he had not yielded a perfect
obedience. If God were to admit him on any other plea, it would be of
pure grace and goodness, and not in fulfilment of any promise.

The Jews, being scattered over the civilized world, and having
synagogues in every city, came into perpetual contact with other
people. Nor was it possible that the Gentiles, among whom they lived,
should notice the singular purity and simplicity of the Israelitish
Theism, without some of them being struck with its spirit, attracted
by its sublime principles, and disposed to place themselves in
religious relations with that singular people. Having been led into
admiration, and even profession, of the nation's theology, they could
not but desire to share their hopes; which indeed were an integral
part of their religion, and, at the Christian era, the one element in
it to which they were most passionately attached. But this was a
stretch of charity too great for any Hebrew; or, at all events, if
such admission were ever to be thought of, it must be only on
condition of absolute submission to the requirements of the law. The
Gentile would naturally plead, that, as God had not made him of the
chosen nation, he had given him no law, except that of conscience;
that, being without the law, he must be a law unto himself; and that,
if he had lived according to his light, he could not be justly
excluded on the ground of accidental disqualification. Possibly, in
the provocation of dispute, the Gentile might sometimes become froward
and insolent in his assertion of claim; and, in the pride of his
heart, demand as a right that which, at most, could only be humbly
hoped for as a privilege and a free gift.

Thus were the parties mutually placed to whom the Deliverer came. Thus
dense and complicated was the web of prejudice which clung round the
early steps of the Gospel; and which must be burst or disentangled ere
the glad tidings could have free course and be glorified. How did
Providence develop from such elements the divine and everlasting
truth? Not by neglecting them, and speaking to mankind as if they had
no such ideas; not by forbidding his messengers and teachers to have
any patience with them; but, on the contrary, by using these very
notions as temporary means to his everlasting ends; by touching this
and that with light before the eyes of Apostles, as if to say, there
are good capabilities in these; the truth may be educed from them so
gently and so wisely, that the world will find itself in light,
without perceiving how it has been quitting the darkness.

So long as Christ remained on earth, he necessarily confined his
ministry to his nation. He would not have been the Messiah had he done
otherwise. By birth, by lineage, by locality, by habit, he was
altogether theirs. Whoever, then, of his own people, during his mortal
life, believed in him and followed him, became a subject of the
Messiah; ready, it was supposed, even by the Apostles themselves, to
enter the glory of his kingdom, whenever it should please him to
assume it; qualified at once, by the combination of pedigree and of
belief, to enter into life, to become a member of the kingdom of God,
to take a place among the elect; for by all these phrases was
described the admission to the expected realm. If, then, Jesus had
never suffered and died, if he had never retired from this world, but
stayed to fulfil the anticipations of his first followers, his
Messianic kingdom might have included all the converts of the
Israelitish stock. From the exclusion which fell on others, they would
have obtained salvation. Hence, it is never in connection with the
first Jewish Christians that the _death of Christ_ is mentioned.

It was otherwise, however, with the Gentiles. They could not become his
followers in his mortal lifetime; and had a Messianic reign _then_ been
set up, they must have been excluded; no missionary would have been
justified in addressing them with invitation; they could not, as it was
said, have entered into life. The Messiah must cease to be Jewish,
before he could become universal; and this implied his death, by which
alone the personal relations, which made him the property of a nation,
could be annihilated. To this he submitted; he disrobed himself of his
corporeality, he became an immortal spirit; thereby instantly burst his
religion open to the dimensions of the world; and, as he ascended to the
skies, sent it forth to scatter the seeds of blessing over the field of
the world, long ploughed with cares, and moist with griefs, and softened
now to nourish in its bosom the tree of Life.

Now, how would the effect of this great revolution be described to the
proselyte Gentiles, so long vainly praying for admission to the
Israelitish hope. At once it destroyed their exclusion; put away as
valueless the Jewish claims of circumcision and law; nailed the
handwriting of ordinances to the cross; reconciled them that had been
afar off; redeemed them to God by his blood, out of every tongue, and
kindred, and people, and nation; washed them in his blood; justified
them _by his resurrection and ascension_; an expression, I would
remark, unmeaning on any other explanation.

Even during our Lord's personal ministry his approaching death is
mentioned as the means of introducing the Gentiles into his Messianic
kingdom. He adverts repeatedly to his cross, as designed to widen, by
their admission, the extent of his sway; and, according to Scripture
phrase, to yield to him "much fruit." He was already on his last fatal
visit to Jerusalem, when, taking the hint from _the visit of some
Greeks to him_, he exclaimed: "The hour is come, that the Son of man
should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a grain of
wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but _if it die,
it bringeth forth much fruit_." He adds, in allusion to the death he
should die: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw _all
men unto me_." It is for this end that he resigns for a while his
life,--that he may bring in the wanderers who are not of the
commonwealth of Israel: "Other sheep I have, which are not of this
fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there
shall be one fold and one shepherd: _therefore doth my Father love me,
because I lay down my life_, that I may take it again." Many a parable
did Jesus utter, proclaiming his Father's intended mercy to the
uncovenanted nations: but for himself personally he declared, "I am
not sent, but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." His advent
was a promise of _their_ economy; his office, the traditionary hope of
their fathers; his birth, his life, his person, were under the Law,
and excluded him from relations to those who were beyond its
obligations. On the cross, all the connate peculiarities of the
Nazarene ceased to exist: when the seal of the sepulchre gave way, the
seal of the law was broken too; the nationality of his person passed
away; for how can an immortal be a Jew? This, then, was the time to
open wide the scope of his mission, and to invite to God's acceptance
those that fear him in every nation. Though, before, the disciple
might "have known Christ after the flesh," and followed his steps as
the Hebrew Messiah, "yet now henceforth was he to know him so no
more"; these "old things had passed away," since he had "died for
all,"--died to become universal,--to drop all exclusive relations, and
"reconcile the world," the Gentile world, to God. Observe to whom this
"ministry of reconciliation" is especially confided. As if to show
that it is exclusively _the risen Christ_ who belongs to all men, and
that his death was the instrument of the Gentiles' admission, their
great Apostle was one Paul, who had not known the Saviour in his
mortal life; who never listened to his voice till it spake from
heaven; who himself was the convert of his ascension; and bore to him
the relation, not of subject to the person of a Hebrew king, but of
spirit to spirit, unembarrassed by anything earthly, legal, or
historical. Well did Paul understand the freedom and the sanctity of
this relation; and around the idea of the Heavenly Messiah gathered
all his conceptions of the spirituality of the Gospel, of its power
over the unconscious affections, rather than a reluctant will. His
believing countrymen were afraid to disregard the observances of the
law, lest it should be a disloyalty to God, and disqualify them for
the Messiah's welcome, when he came to take his power and reign. Paul
tells them, that, while their Lord remained in this mortal state, they
were right; as representative of the law, and filling an office
created by the religion of Judaism, he could not but have held them
_then_ to its obligations; nor could they, without infidelity, have
neglected its claims, any more than a wife can innocently separate
herself from a living husband. But as the death of the man sets the
woman free, and makes null the law of their union, so the decease of
Christ's body emancipates his followers from all legal relations to
him; and they are at liberty to wed themselves anew to the risen
Christ, who dwells where no ordinance is needful, no tie permitted but
of the spirit, and all are as the angels of God. Surely, then, this
mode of conception explains why the death of Jesus constitutes a great
date in the Christian economy, especially as expounded by the friend
and Apostle of those who were not "Jews by nature, but sinners of the
Gentiles." Had he never died, they must have remained aliens from his
sway; the enemies against whom his power must be directed; without
hope in the day of his might; strangers to God and his vicegerent.

But, while thus they "were yet without strength, Christ died for" these
"ungodly"; died to put himself into connection with them, else
impossible; and, rising from death, drew them after him into spiritual
existence on earth, analogous to that which he passed in heaven. "You,"
says their Apostle, "being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of
your flesh, hath he quickened together with him"; giving you, as "risen
with him," a life above the world and its law of exclusion,--a life not
"subject to ordinances," but of secret love and heavenly faith, "hid
with Christ in God"; "blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that
was against us, which was contrary to us, and taking it out of the way,
nailing it to his cross." God had never intended to perpetuate the
division between Israel and the world, receiving the one as the sons,
and shutting out the other as the slaves of his household. If there had
been an appearance of such partiality, he had always designed to set
these bondmen free, and to make them "heirs of God through Christ"; "in
whom they had redemption through his blood" from their servile state,
the forgiveness of disqualifying sins, according to the riches of his
grace. Though the Hebrews boasted that "theirs was the adoption," and
till Messiah's death had boasted truly; yet in that event God, "before
the foundation of the world," had "blessed us" (Gentiles) "with all
spiritual blessings in heavenly places"; "having predestinated us unto
the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, according" (not indeed to any
right or promise, but) "to the good pleasure of his will," "and when we
were enemies, having reconciled us, by the death of his Son"; "that in
the fulness of times he might gather together in one _all things_ in
Christ"; "by whom we" (Gentiles) "have now received this atonement"
(reconciliation); that he might have no partial empire, but that "in him
might all fulness dwell." "Wherefore," says their Apostle, "remember
that ye, _Gentiles in the flesh_, were in time past without Messiah,
being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the
covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world; but
now in Christ Jesus, ye, who sometime were afar off, are made nigh by
the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and
hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us" (not between
God and man, but between Jew and Gentile); "having abolished in his
flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments, contained in ordinances;
for to make in himself, of twain, one new man, so _making peace_; and
that he might reconcile both unto God, in one body, by the cross, having
slain the enmity thereby; and came and preached peace to you who were
afar off, as well as to them that were nigh. For through him we both
have an access by one spirit unto the Father."

The way, then, is clear and intelligible, in which the death and
ascension of the Messiah rendered him universal, by giving spirituality
to his rule; and, on the simple condition of faith, added the
uncovenanted nations to his dominion, so far as they were willing to
receive him. This idea, and this only, will be found in almost every
passage of the New Testament (excepting the Epistle to the Hebrews)
usually adduced to prove the doctrine of the Atonement. Some of the
strongest of these I have already quoted; and my readers must judge
whether they have received a satisfactory meaning. There are others, in
which the Gentiles are not so distinctly stated to be the sole objects
of the redemption of the cross; but with scarcely an exception, so far
as I can discover, this limitation is implied, and either creeps out
through some adjacent expression in the context, or betrays itself, when
we recur to the general course of the Apostle's argument, or to the
character and circumstances of his correspondents. Thus Paul says, that
Christ "gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time"; the
next verse shows what is in his mind, when he adds, "_whereunto_ I am
ordained a preacher, and an Apostle, a teacher of THE GENTILES in faith
and verity"; and the whole sentiment of the context is the _Universality
of the Gospel_, and the duty of praying for Gentile kings and people, as
not abandoned to a foreign God and another Mediator; for since Messiah's
death, to _us all_ "there is but One God, and One Mediator between God
and men, the man Christ Jesus": wherefore the Apostle wills, that _for
all_ "men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and
doubting,"--without wrath at their admission, or doubt of their
adoption. And wherever emphasis is laid on the _vast number_ benefited
by the cross, a contrast is implied with the _few_ (only the Jews) who
could have been his subjects had he not died: and when it is said, "he
gave his life a ransom _for many_"; his blood was "shed _for many_, for
the remission of sins"; "thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us by thy
blood, _out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation_, and
hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the
earth"; "behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of _the
world_";[16]--by all these expressions is still denoted the efficacy of
Christ's death in removing the Gentile disqualification, and making his
dispensation spiritual as his celestial existence, and universal as the
Fatherhood of God. Does Paul exhort certain of his disciples "to feed
the church of the Lord, which he hath purchased with his own blood"?[17]
We find that he is speaking of the _Gentile_ church of Ephesus, whose
elders he is instructing in the management of their charge, and to which
he afterwards wrote the well-known Epistle, on their Gentile freedom and
adoption obtained by the Messiah's death. When Peter says, "Ye know that
ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from
your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers; but
with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and
without spot,"--we must inquire _to whom_ he is addressing these words.
If it be to the Jews, the interpretation which I have hitherto given of
such language will not apply, and we must seek an explanation altogether
different. But the whole manner of this Epistle, the complexion of its
phraseology throughout, convinces me that it was addressed especially to
the _Gentile converts_ of Asia Minor; and that the redemption of which
it speaks is no other than that which is the frequent theme of their own

In the passage just quoted, the form of expression itself suggests the
idea, that Peter is addressing a class which did not include himself:
"YE were not redeemed," &c.; farther on, in the same Epistle, the same
sentiment occurs, however, without any such visible restriction.
Exhorting to patient suffering for conscience' sake, he appeals to the
example of Christ; "who, when he suffered, threatened not, but
committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously; who, his own self,
bare _our_ sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to
sins, should live unto righteousness": yet, with instant change in the
expression, revealing his correspondents to us, the Apostle adds, "by
whose stripes YE were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but
are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls." With the
instinct of a gentle and generous heart, the writer, treating in plain
terms of the former sins of those whom he addresses, puts himself in
with them; and avoids every appearance of that spiritual pride by
which the Jew constantly rendered himself offensive to the Gentile.

Again, in this letter, he recommends the duty of patient endurance, by
appeal to the same consideration of Christ's disinterested
self-sacrifice. "It is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer
for well-doing than for evil-doing: for Christ also hath once suffered
for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." And
who are these "unjust" that are thus brought to God? The Apostle
instantly explains, by describing how the "Jews by nature" lost
possession of Messiah by the death of his person, and "sinners of the
Gentiles" gained him by the resurrection of his immortal nature; "being
put to death in flesh, but quickened in spirit; and _thereby he went and
preached unto the spirits in prison, who formerly were without faith_."
This is clearly a description of the heathen world, ere it was brought
into relation to the Messianic promises. Still further confirmation,
however, follows. The Apostle adds: "Forasmuch, then, as Christ hath
suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same
mind; for the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the
will _of the Gentiles_; when _we_ walked in lasciviousness, lusts,
excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and _abominable idolatries_."
If we cannot admit this to be a just description of the holy Apostle's
former life, we must perceive that, writing to Pagans of whom it was
all true, he beautifully withholds from his language every trace of
invidious distinction, puts himself for the moment into the same class,
and seems to take his share of the distressing recollection.

The habitual delicacy with which Paul, likewise, classed himself with
every order of persons in turn, to whom he had anything painful to
say, is known to every intelligent reader of his Epistles. Hence, in
_his_ writings too, we have often to consider _with whom_ it is that
he is holding his dialogue, and to make our interpretation dependent
on the answer. When, for example, he says, that Jesus "was delivered
for _our_ offences, and was raised again for _our_ justification"; I
ask, "For whose?--was it for everybody's?--or for the Jews', since
Paul was a Hebrew?" On looking closely into the argument, I find it
beyond doubt that neither of these answers is correct; and that the
Apostle, in conformity with his frequent practice, is certainly
identifying himself, Israelite though he was, with _the Gentiles_, to
whom, at that moment, his reasoning applies itself. The neighboring
verses have expressions which clearly enough declare this: "when we
were _yet without strength_," and "_while we were yet sinners_,"
Christ died for us. It is to the _Gentile church_ at Corinth, and
while expatiating on their privileges and relations as such, that Paul
speaks of the disqualifications and legal unholiness of the heathen,
as vanishing in the death of the Messiah; as the recovered leper's
uncleanness was removed, and his banishment reversed, and his
exclusion from the temple ended, when the lamb without blemish, which
the law prescribed as his sin-offering, bled beneath the knife, so did
God provide in Jesus a lamb without blemish for the exiled and
unsanctified Gentiles, to bring them from their far dwelling in the
leprous haunts of this world's wilderness, and admit them to the
sanctuary of spiritual health and worship: "He hath made him to be a
sin-offering for us (Gentiles), who knew no sin; that we might be made
the justified of God in him"; entering, under the Messiah, the
community of saints. That, in this sacrificial allusion, the Gentile
adoption is still the Apostle's only theme, is evident hence: that
twice in this very passage he declares that he is speaking of that
peculiar "reconciliation," the word and ministry of which have been
committed to himself; he is dwelling on the topic most natural to one
who "magnified his office," as "Apostle of the Gentiles."

To the same parties was Paul writing, when he said, "Christ, our
passover, is sacrificed for us." Frequently as this sentence is cited
in evidence of the doctrine of Atonement, there is hardly a verse in
Scripture more utterly inapplicable; nor, if the doctrine were true,
could anything be more inept than an allusion to it in this place. I
do not dwell on the fact that the paschal lamb was neither
sin-offering nor proper sacrifice at all: for the elucidation of the
death of Jesus by sacrificial analogies is as easy and welcome as any
other mode of representing it. But I turn to the whole context, and
seek for its leading idea, before multiplying inferences from a
subordinate illustration. I find the author treating, not of the
_deliverance_ of believers from curse or exclusion, but of their duty
to keep the churches cleansed, by the expulsion of notoriously
profligate members. Such persons they are to cast from them, as the
Jews, at the passover, swept from their houses all the leaven they
contained; and as for eight days, at that season, only pure unleavened
bread was allowed for use, so the Church must keep the Gospel festival
free from the ferment of malice and wickedness, and tasting nothing
but sincerity and truth. This comparison is the primary sentiment of
the whole passage; under cover of which the Apostle is urging the
Corinthians to expel a certain licentious offender: and only because
the feast of unleavened bread, on which his fancy has alighted, set in
with the day of passover, does he allude to this in completion of the
figure. As his correspondents were Gentiles, their Christianity
commenced with the death of Christ; with him, as an immortal, their
spiritual relations commenced; when he rose, they rose with him, as by
a divine attraction, from an earthly to a heavenly state; their old
and corrupt man had been buried together with him, and, with the human
infirmities of his person, left behind for ever in his sepulchre; and
it became them "to seek those things which are above," and to "yield
themselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead." This period
of the Lord's sequestration in the heavens Paul represents as a
festival of purity to the disciples on earth, ushered in by the
self-sacrifice of Christ. The time is come, he says; cast away the
leaven, for the passover is slain, blessed bread of heaven to them
that taste it! let nothing now be seen in all the household of the
Church, but the unleavened cake of simplicity and love.

Paul again appears as the advocate of the Gentiles, when he protests
that now between them and the Jews "there is no difference, since all
have sinned and come short of the glory of God"; that the Hebrew has
lost all claim to the Messianic adoption, and can have no hope but in
that free grace of God, which has a sovereign right to embrace the
heathen too; and which, in fact, has compassed the Gentiles within its
redemption, by causing Jesus the Messiah to die; "by whose blood God
hath set forth a propitiation, through faith; to evince his justice,
while overlooking, with the forbearance of God, transgressions
past;--to evince his justice in the arrangements of the present
crisis; which preserve his justice (to the Israelite), yet justify on
mere discipleship to Jesus." The great question which the Apostle
discusses throughout this Epistle is this: "On what terms is a man now
admitted as a subject to the Messiah, so as to be acknowledged by him,
when he comes to erect his kingdom?" "He must be one of the
circumcised, to whom alone the holy law and promises are given," says
the Jew. "That is well," replies Paul; "only the promises, you
remember, are conditional on obedience; and he who claims by the law
must stand the judgment of the law. Can your nation abide this test,
and will you stake your hopes upon the issue? Or is there on record
against you a violation of every condition of your boasted
covenant,--wholesale and national transgression, which your favorite
code itself menaces with 'cutting off'? Have you even rejected and
crucified the very Messiah, who was tendered to you in due fulfilment
of the promises? Take your trial by the principles of your law, and
you must be cast off, and perish, as certainly as the heathen whom you
despise; and whose rebellion against the natural law, gross as it is,
does not surpass your own offences against the tables of Moses. You
must abandon the claim of right, the high talk of God's justice and
plighted faith;--which are alike ill suited to you both. The rules of
law are out of the question, and would admit nobody; and we must
ascend again to the sovereign will and free mercy of Him who is the
source of law; and who, to bestow a blessing which its resources
cannot confer, may devise new methods of beneficence. God has violated
no pledge. Messiah came to Israel, and never went beyond its bounds;
the uncircumcised had no part in him; and every Hebrew who desired it
was received as his subject. But when the people would not have him,
and threw away their ancient title, was God either to abandon his
vicegerent, or to force him on the unwilling? No: rather did it befit
him to say: 'If they will reject and crucify my servant,--why, let him
die, and then he is Israelite no more; I will raise him, and take him
apart in his immortality; where his blood of David is lost; and the
holiness of his humanity is glorified; and all shall be his, who will
believe, and love him, as he there exists, spiritually and truly.'"
Thus, according to Paul, does God provide a new method of adoption or
justification, without violating any promises of the old. Thus he
makes Faith in Jesus--a moral act, instead of a genealogical
accident--the single condition of reception into the Divine kingdom
upon earth. Thus, after the passage of Christ from this world to
another, Jew and Gentile are on an equality in relation to the
Messiah; the one gaining nothing by his past privileges; the other,
not visited with exclusion for past idolatry and sins, but assured, in
Messiah's death, that these are to be overlooked, and treated as if
cleansed away. He finds himself invited into the very penetralia of
that sanctuary of pure faith and hope, from which before he had been
repelled as an unclean thing; as if its ark of mercy had been purified
for ever from his unworthy touch, or he himself had been sprinkled by
some sudden consecration. And all this was the inevitable and instant
effect of that death on Calvary, which took Messiah from the Jews and
gave him to the world.

With emphasis, not less earnest than that of Paul, does the Apostle John
repudiate the notion of any _claim_ on the Divine admission by law or
righteousness; and insist on humble and unqualified acceptance of God's
free grace and remission for the past, as the sole avenue of entrance to
the kingdom. This avenue was open, however, to all "who confessed that
Jesus the Messiah had come in the flesh"; in other words, that, during
his mortal life, Jesus had been indicated as this future Prince; and
that his ministry was the Messiah's preliminary visit to that earth on
which shortly he would reappear to reign. The great object of that visit
was to prepare the world for his real coming; for as yet it was very
unfit for so great a crisis; and especially to open, by his death, a way
of admission for the Gentiles, and frame, on their behalf, an act of
oblivion for the past. "If," says the Apostle to them, "we walk in the
light, _as he is in the light_" (of love and heaven), "we have
fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son
cleanseth us from all sin": the Israelite will embrace the Gentiles in
fraternal relations, knowing that the cross has removed their past
unholiness. Nor let the Hebrew rely on anything now but the Divine
forbearance; to appeal to rights will serve no longer: "If we say we
have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." Nor let
any one despair of a reception, or even a restoration, because he has
been an idolater and sinner: "Jesus Christ the righteous" is "an
advocate with the Father" for admitting all who are willing to be his;
"and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only (not
merely for our small portion of Gentiles, already converted); but also
for the _whole_ world," if they will but accept him. He died to become
universal; to make all his own; to spread an oblivion, wide as the
earth, over all that had embarrassed the relations to the Messiah, and
made men aliens, instead of Sons of God. Yet did no spontaneous movement
of their good affections solicit this change. It was "not that we
(Gentiles) loved God; but that he loved us, and sent his Son, the
propitiation for our sins"; "he sent his only-begotten Son into the
world, that we might live through him." That this Epistle was addressed
to Gentiles, and is therefore occupied with the same leading idea
respecting the cross which pervades the writings of Paul, is rendered
probable by its concluding words, which could hardly be appropriate to
Jews: "Keep yourselves from idols." How little the Apostle associated
any vicarious idea even with a form of phrase most constantly employed
by modern theology to express it, is evident from the parallel which he
draws, in the following words, between the death of our Lord and that of
the Christian martyrs: "Hereby perceive we love, because _Christ_ laid
down his life _for us_; and we ought to lay down our lives _for the

Are, then, the _Gentiles alone_ beneficially affected by the death of
Christ? and is no wider efficacy _ever_ assigned to it in Scripture? The
great number of passages to which I have already applied this single
interpretation will show that I consider it as comprising _the great
leading idea_ of the Apostolic theology on this subject; nor do I think
that there is (out of the Epistle to the Hebrews, which I shall soon
notice) a single doctrinal allusion to the cross, from which this
conception is wholly absent. At the same time, I am not prepared to
maintain, that this is the _only_ view of the crucifixion and
resurrection ever present to the mind of the Apostles. Jews themselves,
they naturally inquired, how _Israel_, in particular, stood affected by
the unanticipated death of its Messiah; in what way its relations were
changed, when the offered Prince became the executed victim; and how far
matters would have been different, if, as had been expected, the
Anointed had assumed his rights and taken his power at once; and,
instead of making his first advent a mere preliminary and warning visit
"in the flesh," had set up the kingdom forthwith, and gathered with him
his few followers to "reign on the earth." Had this--instead of
submission to death, removal, and delay--been his adopted course, what
would have become of his own nation, who had rejected him,--who must
have been tried by that law which was their boast, and under which he
came,--who had long been notorious offenders against its conditions, and
now brought down its final curse by despising the claims of the
accredited Messiah? They must have been utterly "cut off," and cast out
among the "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel," "without Messiah,"
"without hope," "without God"; for while "circumcision profiteth, _if
thou keep the law_; yet if thou be a _breaker of the law_, thy
circumcision is made uncircumcision." Had he come _then_ "to be
glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that
believe,"--had he then been "revealed with his mighty angels" (whom he
might have summoned by "legions"),--it must have been "in flaming fire,
taking vengeance on them that knew not God, nor obeyed the glad tidings
of the Lord Jesus Christ"; to "punish with everlasting destruction from
the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power." The sins and
prospects of Israel being thus terrible, and its rejection imminent (for
Messiah was already in the midst of them), he withheld his hand; refused
to precipitate their just fate; and said, "Let us give them time, and
wait; I will go apart into the heavens, and peradventure they will
repent; only they must receive me then spiritually, and by hearty faith,
not by carnal right, admitting thus the willing Gentile with
themselves." And so he prepared to die and retire; he did not permit
them to be cut off, but was cut off himself instead; he restrained the
curse of their own law from falling on them, and rather perished himself
by a foul and accursed lot, which that same law pronounces to be the
vilest and most polluted of deaths. Thus says St. Paul to the Jews: "He
hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us;
for it is written, 'Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.'"[18] In
this way, but for the death of the Messiah, Israel too must have been
lost; and by that event they received time for repentance, and a way for
remission of sins; found a means of reconciliation still; saw their
providence, which had been lowering for judgment, opening over them in
propitiation once more; the just had died for the unjust, to bring them
to God. What was this delay,--this suspension of judgment,--this
opportunity of return and faith,--but an instance of "the long-suffering
of God," with which "he endures the vessels of wrath (Jews) fitted to
destruction, and makes known the riches of his glory on the vessels of
mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory"? If Christ had not
withdrawn awhile, if his power had been taken up at once, and wielded in
stern and legal justice, a deluge of judgment must have overwhelmed the
earth, and swept away both Jew and Gentile, leaving but a remnant safe.
But in mercy was the mortal life of Jesus turned into a preluding
message of notice and warning, like the tidings which Noah received of
the flood; and as the growing frame of the ark gave signal to the world
of the coming calamity, afforded an interval for repentance, and made
the patriarch, as he built, a constant "preacher of righteousness"; so
the increasing body of the Church, since the warning retreat of Christ
to heaven, proclaims the approaching "day of the Lord," admonishes that
"all should come to repentance," and fly betimes to that faith and
baptism which Messiah's death and resurrection have left as an ark of
safety. "Once, in the days of Noah, the long-suffering of God waited
while the ark was preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were
saved by water: a representation, this, of the way in which baptism
(not, of course, carnal washing, but the engagement of a good conscience
with God) saves us now, _by the resurrection of Jesus Christ_; who is
gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels, and
authorities, and powers, being made subject to him." Yet "the time is
short," and must be "redeemed"; "it is the last hour"; "the Lord," "the
coming of the Lord," "the end of all things," are "at hand."

I have described _one_ aspect, which the death of the Messiah
presented to _the Jews_; and, in this, we have found another primary
conception, explanatory of the Scriptural language respecting the
cross. Of the two relations in which this event appeared (the Gentile
and the Israelitish), I believe the former to be by far the most
familiar to the New Testament authors, and to furnish the true
interpretation of almost all their phraseology on the subject. But, as
my readers may have noticed, many passages receive illustration by
reference to either notion; and some may have a meaning compounded of
both. I must not pause to make any minute adjustment of these claims,
on the part of the two interpreting ideas: it is enough that, either
separately or in union, they have now been taken round the whole
circle of apostolic language respecting the cross, and detected in
every difficult passage the presence of sense and truth, and the
absence of all hint of vicarious atonement.

It was on the _unbelieving_ portion of the Jewish people that the
death of their Messiah conferred the national blessings and
opportunities to which I have adverted. But to _the converts_ who had
been received by him during his mortal life, and who would have been
heirs of his glory, had he assumed it at once, it was less easy to
point out any personal benefits from the cross. That the Christ had
retired from this world was but a disappointing postponement of their
hopes; that he had perished as a felon was shocking to their pride,
and turned their ancient boast into a present scorn; that he had
become spiritual and immortal made him no longer theirs "as concerning
the flesh," and, by admitting Gentiles with themselves, set aside
their favorite law. So offensive to them was this unexpected slight on
the institutions of Moses, immemorially reverenced as the ordinances
of God, that it became important to give some turn to the death of
Jesus, by which that event might be harmonized with the national
system, and be shown to _effect the abrogation of the law, on
principles strictly legal_. This was the object of the writer of the
Epistle to the Hebrews; who thus gives us a third idea of the
relations of the cross,--bearing, indeed, an essential resemblance to
St. Paul's Gentile view, but illustrated in a manner altogether
different. No trace is to be observed here of Paul's noble glorying in
the cross: so studiously is every allusion to the crucifixion avoided,
till all the argumentative part of the Epistle has been completed,
that a reader finds the conclusion already in sight, without having
gained any notion of _the mode_ of the Lord's death, whether even it
was natural or violent,--a literal human sacrifice, or a voluntary
self-immolation. Its ignominy and its agonies are wholly unmentioned;
and his mortal infirmities and sufferings are explained, not as the
spontaneous adoptions of previous compassion in him, but as God's
fitting discipline for rendering him "a merciful and faithful
high-priest." They are referred to in the tone of apology, not of
pride; as needing rather to be reconciled with his office, than to be
boldly expounded as its grand essential. The object of the author
clearly is, to find a place for the death of Jesus among the Messianic
functions; and he persuades the Hebrew Christians that it is (not a
satisfaction for moral guilt, but) a commutation for the Mosaic Law.
In order to understand his argument, we must advert for a moment to
the prejudices which it was designed to conciliate and correct.

It is not easy for us to realize the feelings with which the Israelite,
in the yet palmy days of the Levitical worship, would hear of an
abrogation of the Law;--the anger and contempt with which the mere bigot
would repudiate the suggestion;--the terror with which the new convert
would make trial of his freedom;--the blank and infidel feeling with
which he would look round, and find himself drifted away from his
anchorage of ceremony;--the sinking heart with which he would hear the
reproaches of his countrymen against his apostasy. Every authoritative
ritual draws towards itself an attachment too strong for reason and the
sense of right; and transfers the feeling of obligation from realities
to symbols. Among the Hebrews this effect was the more marked and the
more pernicious, because their ceremonies were in many instances only
remotely connected with any important truth or excellent end; they were
separated by several removes from any spiritual utility. Rites were
enacted to sustain other rites; institution lay beneath institution,
through so many successive steps, that the crowning principle at the
summit easily passed out of sight. To keep alive the grand truth of the
Divine Unity, there was a gorgeous temple worship; to perform this
worship there was a priesthood; to support the priesthood there were
(among other sources of income) dues paid in the form of sacrifice; to
provide against the non-payment of dues there were penalties; to prevent
an injurious pressure of these penalties, there were exemptions, as in
cases of sickness; and to put a check on trivial claims of exemption, it
must be purchased by submission to a fee, under name of an atonement.
Wherever such a system is received as divine, and based on the same
authority with the great law of duty, it will always, by its
definiteness and precision, attract attention from graver moral
obligations. Its materiality renders it calculable: its account with the
conscience can be exactly ascertained: as it has little obvious utility
to men, it appears the more directly paid to God: it is regarded as the
special means of pleasing him, of placating his anger, and purchasing
his promises. Hence it may often happen, that the more the offences
against the spirit of duty, the more are rites multiplied in
propitiation; and the harvest of ceremonies and that of crimes ripen

At a state not far from this had the Jews arrived when Christianity was
preached. Their moral sentiments were so far perverted, that they valued
nothing in themselves, in comparison with their legal exactitude, and
hated all beyond themselves for their want of this. They were eagerly
expecting the Deliverer's kingdom, nursing up their ambition for his
triumphs; curling the lip, as the lash of oppression fell upon them, in
suppressed anticipation of vengeance; satiating a temper, at once fierce
and servile, with dreams of Messiah's coming judgment, when the blood of
the patriarchs should be the title of the world's nobles, and the
everlasting reign should begin in Jerusalem. Why was the hour delayed?
they impatiently asked themselves. Was it that they had offended
Jehovah, and secretly sinned against some requirement of his law? And
then they set themselves to a renewed precision, a more slavish
punctiliousness than before. Ascribing their continued depression to
their imperfect legal obedience, they strained their ceremonialism
tighter than ever; and hoped to be soon justified from their past sins,
and ready for the mighty prince and the latter days.

What, then, must have been the feeling of the Hebrew, when told that
all his punctualities had been thrown away,--that, at the advent,
faith in Jesus, not obedience to the law, was to be the title to
admission,--and that the redeemed at that day would be, not the
scrupulous Pharisee, whose dead works would be of no avail, but all
who, with the heart, have worthily confessed the name of the Lord
Jesus? What doctrine could be more unwelcome to the haughty Israelite?
it dashed his pride of ancestry to the ground. It brought to the same
level with himself the polluted Gentile,--whose presence would alone
render all unclean in the Messiah's kingdom. It proved his past ritual
anxieties to have been all wasted. It cast aside for the future the
venerated law; left it in neglect to die; and made all the apparatus
of Providence for its maintenance end in absolutely nothing. Was then
the Messiah to supersede, and not to vindicate, the law? How different
this from the picture which prophets had drawn of his golden age, when
Jerusalem was to be the pride of the earth, and her temple the praise
of nations, sought by the feet of countless pilgrims, and decked with
the splendor of their gifts! How could a true Hebrew be justified in a
life without law? How think himself safe in a profession, which was
without temple, without priest, without altar, without victim?

Not unnaturally, then, did the Hebrews regard with reluctance two of the
leading features of Christianity; the death of the Messiah, and the
freedom from the law. The Epistle addressed to them was designed to
soothe their uneasiness, and to show that, if the Mosaic institutions
were superseded, it was in conformity with principles and analogies
contained within themselves. With great address, the writer links the
two difficulties together, and makes the one explain the other. He finds
a ready means of effecting this, in the sacrificial ideas familiar to
every Hebrew; for by representing the death of Jesus as a commutation
for legal observances, he is only ascribing to it an operation
acknowledged to have place in the death of every lamb slain as a
sin-offering at the altar. These offerings were a distinct recognition,
on the part of the Levitical code, of a principle of _equivalents_ for
its ordinances; a proof that, under certain conditions, they might
yield: nothing more, therefore, was necessary, than to show that the
death of Christ established those conditions. And such a method of
argument was attended by this advantage, that, while the _practical end_
would be obtained of terminating all ceremonial observance, the law was
yet treated as _in theory_ perpetual; not as ignominiously abrogated,
but as legitimately commuted. Just as the Israelite, in paying his
offering at the altar to compensate for ritual omissions, recognized
thereby the claims of the law, while he obtained impunity for its
neglect; so, if Providence could be shown to have provided a legal
substitute for the system, its authority was acknowledged at the moment
that its abolition was secured.

Let us advert, then, to the functions of the Mosaic sin-offerings, to
which the writer has recourse to illustrate his main position. They
were of the nature of a _mulct or acknowledgment rendered for
unconscious or inevitable disregard of ceremonial liabilities, and
contraction of ceremonial uncleanness_. Such uncleanness might be
incurred from various causes; and, while unremoved by the appointed
methods of purification, disqualified from attendance at the
sanctuary, and "cut off" "the guilty" "from among the congregation."
To touch a dead body, to enter a tent where a corpse lay, rendered a
person "unclean for seven days"; to come in contact with a forbidden
animal, a bone, a grave, to be next to any one struck with sudden
death, to be afflicted with certain kinds of bodily disease and
infirmity, unwittingly to lay a finger on a person unclean, occasioned
defilement, and necessitated a purification or an atonement.
Independently of these offences, enforced upon the Israelite by the
accidents of life, it was not easy for even the most cautious
worshipper to keep pace with the complicated series of petty debts
which the law of ordinances was always running up against him. If his
offering had an invisible blemish; if he omitted a tithe, because "he
wist it not"; or inadvertently fell into arrear, by a single day, with
respect to a known liability; if absent from disease, he was compelled
to let his ritual account accumulate; "though it be hidden from him,"
he must "be guilty, and bear his iniquity," and bring his victim. On
the birth of a child, the mother, after the lapse of a prescribed
period, made her pilgrimage to the temple, presented her sin-offering,
and "the priest made atonement for her." The poor leper, long banished
from the face of men, and unclean by the nature of his disease, became
a debtor to the sanctuary, and on return from his tedious quarantine
brought his lamb of atonement, and departed thence, clear from
neglected obligations to his law. It was impossible, however, to
provide by specific enactment for every case of ritual transgression
and impurity, arising from inadvertence or necessity. Scarcely could
it be expected that the courts of worship themselves would escape
defilement, from imperfections in the offerings, or unconscious
disqualification in people or in priest. To clear off the whole
invisible residue of such sins, an annual "day of atonement" was
appointed; the people thronged the avenues and approaches of the
tabernacle; in their presence a kid was slain for their own
transgressions, and for the high-priest the more dignified expiation
of a heifer; charged with the blood of each successively, he sprinkled
not only the exterior altar open to the sky, but, passing through the
first and holy chamber into the Holy of Holies (never entered else),
he touched, with finger dipped in blood, the sacred lid (the
Mercy-seat) and foreground of the Ark. At that moment, while he yet
lingers behind the veil, the purification is complete; on no
worshipper of Israel does any legal unholiness rest; and were it
possible for the high-priest to remain in that interior retreat of
Jehovah, still protracting the expiatory act, so long would this
national purity continue, and the debt of ordinances be effaced as it
arose. But he must return; the sanctifying rite must end; the people
be dismissed; the priests resume the daily ministrations; the law open
its stern account afresh; and in the mixture of national exactitude
and neglects, defilements multiply again till the recurring
anniversary lifts off the burden once more. Every year, then, the
necessity comes round of "making atonement for the holy sanctuary,"
"for the tabernacle," "for the altar," "for the priests, and for all
the people of the congregation." Yet, though requiring periodical
renewal, the rite, so far as it went, had an efficacy which no Hebrew
could deny; for ceremonial sins, unconscious or inevitable (to which
all atonement was limited[19]), it was accepted as an indemnity; and
put it beyond doubt that Mosaic obedience was commutable.

Such was the system of ideas, by availing himself of which the author
of the Epistle to the Hebrews would persuade his correspondents to
forsake their legal observances. "You can look without uneasiness," he
suggests, "on your ritual omissions, when the blood of some victim
has been presented instead, and the penetralia of your sanctuary have
been sprinkled with the offering: well, on no other terms would I
soothe your anxiety; precisely such equivalent sacrifice does
Christianity exhibit, only of so peculiar a nature, that, for _all_
ceremonial neglects, intentional no less than inadvertent, you may
rely upon indemnity." The Jews entertained a belief respecting their
temple, which enabled the writer to give a singular force and
precision to his analogy. They conceived that the tabernacle of their
worship was but the copy of a divine structure, devised by God
himself, made by no created hand, and preserved eternally in heaven:
this was "the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man";
which no mortal had beheld, except Moses in the mount, that he might
"make all things according to that pattern"; within whose Holy of
Holies dwelt no emblem or emanation of God's presence, but his own
immediate Spirit; and the celestial furniture of which required, in
proportion to its dignity, the purification of a nobler sacrifice, and
the ministrations of a diviner priest, than befitted the "worldly
sanctuary" below. And who then can mistake the meaning of Christ's
departure from this world, or doubt what office he conducts above? He
is called by his ascension to the pontificate of heaven; consecrated,
"not after the law of any carnal commandment, but after the power of
an endless life"; he drew aside the veil of his mortality, and passed
into the inmost court of God: and as he must needs "have somewhat to
offer," he takes the only blood he had ever shed,--which was his
own,--and, like the High-Priest before the Mercy-seat, sanctifies
therewith the people that stand without, "redeeming the
transgressions" which "the first covenant" of rites entailed. And he
has not returned; still is he hid within that holiest place; and still
the multitude he serves turn thither a silent and expectant gaze; he
prolongs the purification still; and while he appears not, no other
rites can be resumed, nor any legal defilement be contracted. Thus,
meanwhile, ordinances cease their obligation, and the sin against them
has lost its power. How different this from the offerings of
Jerusalem, whose temple was but the "symbol and shadow" of that
sanctuary above. In the Hebrew "sacrifices there was a remembrance
again made of sins every year"; "the high-priest annually entered the
holy place"; being but a mortal, he could not go in with his own blood
and _remain_, but must take that of other creatures and _return_; and
hence it became "not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats
should _take away_ sins," for instantly they began to accumulate
again. But to the very nature of Christ's offering a perpetuity of
efficacy belongs; bearing no other than "_his own_ blood," he was
immortal when his ministration began, and "ever liveth to make his
intercession"; he could "not offer himself often, for then must he
often have suffered since the foundation of the world,"--and "it is
appointed unto men _only once_ to die"; so that "_once for all_ he
entered into the holy place, and obtained a redemption that is
_perpetual_"; "_once_ in the end of the world hath he appeared, and by
sacrificing himself hath absolutely _put away_ sin"; "this man, after
he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right
hand of God," "for by one offering he hath perfected for ever them
that are sanctified." The ceremonial, then, with its periodical
transgressions and atonements, is suspended; the services of the outer
tabernacle cease, for the holiest of all is made manifest; one who is
"priest for ever" dwells therein;--one "consecrated for evermore,"
"holy, harmless, undefiled, in his celestial dwelling quite separate
from sinners; who needeth not _daily_, as those high-priests, to offer
up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's; for
this he did _once for all_ when he offered up himself."[20]

Nor is it in its perpetuity alone that the efficacy of the Christian
sacrifice transcends the atonements of the law; it removes a higher
order of ritual transgressions. It cannot be supposed, indeed, that
Messiah's life is no nobler offering than that of a creature from the
herd or flock, and will confer no more immunity. Accordingly, it goes
beyond those "_sins of ignorance_," those ceremonial inadvertences,
for which alone there was remission in Israel; and reaches to
_voluntary_ neglects of the sacerdotal ordinances; insuring indemnity
for legal omissions, when incurred not simply by the accidents of the
flesh, but even by intention of the conscience. This is no greater
boon than the dignity of the sacrifice requires; and does but give to
his people below that living relation of soul to God which he himself
sustains above. "If the blood of bulls and of goats ... sanctifieth to
the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ,
who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God,
purify (even) your conscience from dead works (ritual observances) to
serve the living God!" Let then the ordinances go, and the Lord "put
his laws _into the mind_, and write them _in the heart_"; and let all
have "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by
this new and living way which he hath consecrated for us"; "provoking
each other to love and to good works."

See, then, in brief, the objection of the Hebrews to the Gospel; and the
reply of their instructor. They said: "What a blank is this; you have no
temple, no priest, no ritual! How is it that, in his ancient covenant,
God is so strict about ceremonial service, and permits no neglect,
however incidental, without atonement; yet in this new economy throws
the whole system away, letting us run up an everlasting debt to a law
confessedly unrepealed, without redemption of it or atonement for it?"

"Not without redemption and atonement," replies their evangelical
teacher; "temple, sacrifice, priest, remain to us also, only glorified
into proportions worthy of a heavenly dispensation; our temple, in the
skies; our sacrifice, Messiah's mortal person; our priest, his
ever-living spirit. How poor the efficacy of your former offerings!
year after year, your ritual debt began again: for the blood dried and
vanished from the tabernacle which it purified; the priest returned
from the inner shrine; and when there, he stood, with the interceding
blood, before the emblem, not the reality, of God. But Christ, not at
the end of a year, but at the end of the great world-era of the Lord,
has come to offer up himself,--no lamb so unblemished as he; his
voluntary and immortal spirit, than which was nothing ever more
divinely consecrate, becomes officiating priest, and strikes his own
person with immolating blow; it falls and bleeds on earth, as on the
outer altar, standing on the threshold of the sanctuary of heaven:
thither he ascends with the memorials of his death, vanishes into the
Holy of Holies of the skies, presents himself before the very living
God, and sanctifies the temple there and worshippers here; saying to
us, 'Drop now for ever the legal burdens that weigh you down; doubt
not that you are free, as my glorified spirit here, from the
defilements you are wont to dread; I stay behind this veil of visible
things, to clear you of all such taint, and put away such sin
eternally. Trust, then, in me, and take up the freedom of your souls:
burst the dead works, that cling round your conscience like cerements
of the grave; and rise to me, by the living power of duty, and a
loving allegiance to God.'"

So far, then, as the death of Christ is treated in Scripture
dogmatically, rather than historically, its effects are viewed in
contrast with the different order of things which must have been
expected, had he, as Messiah, _not_ died. And thus regarded, it
presented itself to the minds of the Apostles in three relations:--

First, to the Gentiles, whom it drew in to be subjects of the Messiah,
by breaking down the barriers of his Hebrew personality, and
rendering him spiritual as well as immortal.

Secondly, to the unbelieving Jews; whom his retirement from this world
delivered from the judgment due to them, on the principles of their own
law, both for their _general_ violation of the _conditions_ of their
covenant, and for their positive rejection of him. His absence reopened
their opportunities; and to tender them this act of long-suffering, he
took on himself the death which had been incurred by them.

Thirdly, to the believing Jews; the terms of whose discipleship the
Messiah's death had changed, destroying all the benefits of their
lineage, and substituting an act of the mind, the simpler claim of
faith. It was therefore a commutation for the Ritual Law, and gave
them impunity and atonement for all its violations.

With the last two of these relations, beyond their remarkable
historical interest, we have no personal concern. The first remains,
and ever will remain, worthy of the glorious joy with which Paul
regarded and expounded it. God has committed the rule of this world to
no exclusive prince, and no sacerdotal power, and no earthly majesty;
but to one whose spirit, too divine to be limited to place and time,
broke through clouds of sorrow into the clearest heaven; and thither
has since been drawing our human love, though for ages now he has been
unseen and immortal. An impartial God, a holy and spiritual law, an
infinite hope for all men, are given to us by that generous cross.

It is evident that all three of the relations which I have described
belonged to the death of Jesus, _in his capacity of Messiah_; and could
have had no existence if he had not borne this character, but had been
simply a private martyr to his convictions. The foregoing exposition
gives a direct answer to the inquiry, pressed without the slightest
pertinence upon the Unitarian, why the phraseology of the cross is never
found applied to Paul or Peter, or any other noble confessor, who died
in attestation of the truth; why "no record is given that we are
justified by the blood of Stephen; or that he bare our sins in his own
body, and made reconciliation for us."[22] I know not why such a
question should be submitted to us; we have assuredly no concern with
it; having never dreamt that the Apostles could have written as they did
respecting the death on Calvary, if they had thought of it only as a
scene of martyrdom. We have passed under review the whole language of
the New Testament on this subject; and in the interpretation of it have
_not even once_ had recourse to this, which is said to be our only view
of the cross. We have seen the Apostles justly announcing their Lord's
death as a _proper propitiation_; because it placed whole classes of
men, without any meritorious change in their character, in saving
relations: declaring it a _strict substitute_ for others' punishment; on
the ground that there were those who must have perished, if he had not;
and that he died and retired, that they might remain and live:
describing it as a _sacrifice which put away sin_; because it did that
for ever, which the Levitical atonements achieved for a day: but we have
not found them ever appealing to it either as a satisfaction to the
justice of God, or an example of martyrdom to men. The Trinitarians have
one idea of this event themselves; and their fancy provides their
opponents with one idea of it; of the former not a trace exists, on any
page of Scripture; and of the latter the Unitarian need not avail
himself at all, in explaining the language whereof it is said to be his
solitary key.

Nowhere, then, in Scripture do we meet with anything corresponding
with the prevailing notions of vicarious redemption; everywhere, and
most emphatically in the personal instructions of our Lord, do we find
a doctrine of forgiveness, and an idea of salvation, utterly
inconsistent with it. He spake often of the unqualified clemency of
God to his returning children; never once of the satisfaction demanded
by his justice. He spake of the joy in heaven over one sinner that
repenteth; but was silent on the sacrificial faith, without which
penitence is said to be unavailing. Nor did he, like his modern
disciples, teach that there are _two separate salvations_, which must
follow each other in a fixed order: first, redemption from the
penalty, secondly, from the spirit, of sin; pardon for the past,
before sanctification in the present; a removal of the "hinderance in
God," previous to its annihilation in ourselves. If indeed there were
in Christianity two deliverances, discriminated and successive, it
would be more in accordance with its spirit to invert this order;--to
recall from alienation first, and announce forgiveness afterwards; to
restore from guilt, before cancelling the penalty; and permit the
_healing_ to anticipate the _pardoning_ love. At least, there would
seem, in such arrangement, to be a greater jealousy for the holiness
of the divine law, a severer reservation of God's complacency for
those who have broken from the service of sin, than in the system
which proclaims impunity to the rebel will, ere yet its estrangement
is renounced. If the outward remission precedes the inward
sanctification, then does God admit to favor the yet unsanctified;
guilt keeps us in no exile from him: and though the Holy Spirit is to
follow afterwards, it becomes the peculiar office of the cross to lift
us as we are, with every stain upon the soul and every vile habit
unretraced, from the brink of perdition to the assurance of glory: the
divine lot is given to us, before the divine love is awakened in us;
and the heirs of heaven have yet to become the children of holiness.
With what consistency can the advocates of such an economy accuse its
opponents of dealing lightly with sin, of deluding men into a false
trust, and administering seductive flatteries to human nature?[23]
What! shall we, who plant in every soul of sin a hell, whence no
foreign force, no external God, can pluck us, any more than they can
tear us from our identity,--we, who hide the fires of torment in no
viewless gulf, but make them ubiquitous as guilt,--we, who suffer no
outward agent from Eden, or the Abyss, or Calvary, to encroach upon
the solitude of man's responsibility, and confuse the simplicity of
conscience,--we, who teach that God will not, and even cannot, spare
the froward, till they be froward no more, but must permit the burning
lash to fall, till they cry aloud for mercy, and throw themselves
freely into his embrace;--shall we be rebuked for a lax administration
of peace, by those who think that a moment may turn the alien into the
elect? It is no flattery of our nature, to reverence deeply its moral
capacities: we only discern in them the more solemn trust, and see in
their abuse the fouler shame. And it is not of what men _are_, but of
what they _might be_, that we encourage noble and cheerful thoughts.
Doubtless, we think exaggeration possible (which our opponents
apparently do not) even in the portraiture of their actual character:
and perhaps we are not the less likely to awaken true convictions of
sin, that we strive to speak of it with the voice of discriminative
justice, instead of the monotonous thunders of vengeance; and to draw
its image in the natural tints provided by the conscience, rather than
in the preternatural flame-color mingled in the crucibles of hell.

In making _penal_ redemption and _moral_ redemption separate and
successive, the vicarious scheme, we submit, is inconsistent with the
Christian idea of salvation. Not that we take the second, and reject
the first, as our Trinitarian friends imagine; nor that we invert
their order. We accept them both; putting them, however, not in
succession, but in super-position, so that they coalesce. The power
and the punishment of sin perish together; and together begin the
holiness and the bliss of heaven. Whatever extracts the poison cools
the sting: nor can the divine vigor of spiritual health enter, without
its freedom and its joy. That there can be any separate dealings with
our past guilt and with our present character, is not a truth of God,
but a fiction of the schools. The sanctification of the one is the
redemption of the other. The mind given up to passion, or chained to
self, or anyhow alienated from the love and life divine, dwells,
whatever be its faith, in the dark and terrible abyss; while he, and
he only, that, in the freedom and tranquillity of great affections,
communes with God and toils for men, understands the meaning, and wins
the promises, of heaven. Am I asked: "What, then, is to persuade the
sinful heart thus to draw near to God;--what, but a proclamation of
absolute pardon, can break down the secret distrust, which keeps our
nature back, wrapped in the reserve of conscious guilt?" I reply;
however much these fears and hesitations might cling round us, and
restrain us from the mystic Deity of Nature, they can have no place in
our intercourse with the Father whom Jesus represents. It needs only
that Christ be truly his image, to know "that the hinderance is not
with him, but entirely in ourselves";[24] to see that there is no
anger in his look; to feel that he invites us to unreserved
confession, and accepts our self-abandonment to him,--that he lifts
the repentant, prostrate at his feet, and speaks the words of severe,
but truest hope. Am I told, "that only the gratitude excited by
personal rescue from tremendous danger, by an unconditional and entire
deliverance, is capable of winning our reluctant nature, of opening
the soul to the access of the Divine Spirit, and bringing it to the
service of the Everlasting Will"? I rejoice to acknowledge, that
_some_ such disinterested power must be awakened, some mighty forces
of the heart be called out, ere the regeneration can take place that
renders us children of the Highest; ere we can break, with true new
birth, from the shell of self, and try and train our wings in the
atmosphere of God. The permanent work of duty must be wrought by the
affections; not by the constraint, however solemn, of hope and fear;
no self-perfectionating process, elaborated by an anxious will, has
warmth enough to ripen the soul's diviner fruits; the walks of outward
morality, and the slopes of deliberate meditation, it may keep smooth
and trim; but cannot make the true life-blossoms set, as in a garden
of the Lord, and the foliage wave as with the voice of God among the
trees. I gladly admit that, to a believer in the vicarious sacrifice,
the sense of pardon, the love of the Great Deliverer, may well fulfil
this blessed office, of carrying him out of himself in genuine
allegiance to a being most benign and holy. And perceiving that, if
this doctrine were removed, there is not, _in the system of which it
forms a part_, and which else would be all terror, anything that could
perform the same generous part, I can understand why it seems to its
advocates an _essential_ power in the renovation of the character. But
great as it may be, within the limits of its own narrow scheme, ideas
possessed of higher moral efficacy are not wanting, when we pass into
a region of nobler and more Christian thought. Shall we say that the
view of the Infinite Ruler, given in the spoken wisdom or the living
spirit of Christ, has no sanctifying power? Yet where is there any
trace in it of the satisfactionist's redemption? When we sit at
Messiah's feet, that transforming gratitude for an extinguished
penalty, on which the prevailing theology insists, as its central
emotion, becomes replaced by a similar and profounder sentiment
towards the Eternal Father. If to rescue men from a dreadful fate in
the future be a just title to our reverence, _never to have designed_
that fate claims an affection yet more devoted; if there be a divine
mercy in annihilating an awful curse, in shedding only blessing there
is surely a diviner still. Shall the love restored to us after long
delay, and in consideration of an equivalent, work mightily on the
heart,--and shall that which asked no purchase, which has been veiled
by no cloud, which has enfolded us always in its tranquillity, nor can
ever quit the soul opened to receive it, fail to penetrate the
conscience, and dissolve the frosts of our self-love by some holier
flame? Never shall it be found true, that God must threaten us with
vengeance, ere we can feel the shelter of his grace!

In truth, the Christian idea of salvation cannot be better
illustrated, than by the doubt which has been entertained respecting
the proper translation of my text. Some, referring it to spiritual
redemption, adhere to the common version; others, seeing that the
Apostle Peter is explaining "by what power or by what name" he had
cured the lame man at the temple gate, refer the words to this miracle
of deliverance, and render them thus: "Neither is there _healing_ in
any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men,
whereby we can be _healed_." It matters little which it is; for
whether we speak of body or of mind, Jesus "_saves_" us by "_making us
whole_"; by putting forth upon us a divine and healing power, by which
past suffering and present decrepitude disappear together; which
supplies the defective elements of our nature, cools the burning of
inward fever, or calls into being new senses and perceptions, opening
a diviner universe to our experience. The deformed and crooked will,
bowed by Satan, lo! these many years, and nowise able to lift up
itself, he loosens and makes straight in uprightness. The moral
paralytic, collapsed and prostrate amid the stir of life, and
incapably gazing on the moving waters in which others find their
health, has often started up at the summons of that voice, though
perchance "he wist not who it was"; and, going his way, has found it
to be "the sabbath," and owned the "work" of one who is in the spirit
of "the Father." From the eye long dark and blind to duty and to God,
he has caused the film to pass away; and shown the solemn look of life
beneath a heaven so tranquil and sublime. Even the dead of soul, close
wrapped in bandages of selfishness,--that greediest of graves,--have
been quickened by his piercing call, and have come forth, to learn,
"when risen," that only in the meekness that can obey is there the
power to command, only in the love that serves is there the life of
heart-felt liberty. To call, then, on the name and trust in the spirit
of Christ, is to invoke the restoring power of God; to give symmetry
and speed to our lame affections, and the vigor of an athlete to our
limping wills. There is not any Christian _salvation_ that is not thus
identical with Christian _perfection_: "nor any other name under
heaven given among men, whereby we may be (thus) _made whole_." Let
all that would "be perfect be thus minded"; seek "the measure of the
stature of the fulness of Christ"; and they shall find in him a "power
to become the sons of God."


[13] See Rev. II. M'Neile's Lecture, The Proper Deity of our Lord the
only Ground of Consistency in the Work of Redemption, pp. 339, 340.

[14] "Either he" ("the Deity of the Unitarians") "must show no mercy,
in order to continue true; or he must show no truth, in order to
exercise mercy. If he overlook man's guilt, _admit him to the
enjoyment of his favor, and proceed_ by corrective discipline to
restore his character, he unsettles the foundations of all equitable
government, obliterates the everlasting distinctions between right and
wrong, spreads consternation in heaven, and proclaims impunity in
hell. Such a God would not be worth serving. _Such_ tenderness,
instead of inspiring filial affection, would lead only to reckless
contempt."--_Mr. M'Neile's Lecture_, p. 313.

Surely this is a description, not of the Unitarian, but of the
Lecturer's own creed. It certainly is no part of his opponents'
belief, that God first admits the guilty to his favor, and _then
"proceeds"_ "to restore his character." This arrangement, by which
pardon _precedes_ moral restoration, is that feature in the Orthodox
theory of the Divine dealings against which Unitarians protest, and
which Mr. M'Neile himself insists upon as essential throughout his
Lecture. "We think," he says, "that _before_ man can be introduced to
the only true process of improvement, he must _first_ have forgiveness
of his guilt." What is this "first" step, of pardon, but an
"overlooking of man's guilt"; and what is the second, of
"sanctification," but a "restoring of character"; whether we say by
"corrective discipline," or the "influence of the Holy Spirit,"
matters not. Is it said that the guilt is not overlooked, if Christ
endured its penalty? I ask, again, whether justice regards only the
_infliction_ of suffering, or its _quantity_, without caring about its
_direction_? Was it impossible for the stern righteousness of God
freely to forgive the penitent? And how was the injustice of
liberating the guilty mended by the torments of the innocent? Here is
the verdict against sin: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." And
how is this verdict executed? The soul that had sinned does _not_ die;
and one "that knew no sin" dies instead. And this is called a divine
union of _truth_ and _mercy_; being the most precise negation of both,
of which any conception can be formed. First, to hang the destinies of
all mankind upon a solitary volition of their first parents, and then
let loose a diabolic power on that volition to break it down; to
vitiate the human constitution in punishment for the fall, and yet
continue to demand obedience to the original and perfect moral law; to
assert the absolute inflexibility of that holy law, yet all the while
have in view for the offenders a method of escape, which violates
every one of its provisions, and makes it all a solemn pretence; to
forgive that which is in itself unpardonable, on condition of the
suicide of a God, is to shock and confound all notions of rectitude,
without affording even the sublimity of a savage grandeur. This will
be called "blasphemy"; and it is so; but the blasphemy is not in the
_words_, but in the _thing_.

Unitarians are falsely accused of representing God as "overlooking
man's guilt." They hold, that _no guilt is overlooked till it is
eradicated from the soul_; and that pardon proceeds _pari passu_ with

[15] Mr. Buddicom has the following note, intimating his approbation
of this rendering: "Some of the best commentators have connected εν τω
αυτου αιματι, not with δια της πιστεως, but with ἱλαστηριον and,
accordingly, Bishop Bull renders the passage, 'Quem proposuit Deus
placamentum in sanguine suo per fidem.'"--_Lecture on Atonement_, p.

[16] John i. 29. For an example of the use of the word "_world_" to
denote the Gentiles, see Rom. xi. 12-15; where St. Paul, speaking of
the rejection of the Messiah by the Jews, declares that it is only
temporary; and as it has given occasion for the adoption of the
Gentiles, so will this lead, by ultimate reaction, to the readmission
of Israel; a consummation in which the Gentiles should rejoice without
boasting or high-mindedness. "If," he says, "the fall of them (the
Israelites) be the riches of _the world_ (the Gentiles), and the
diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their
fulness! For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the Apostle of
the Gentiles, I magnify my office; if, by any means, I may provoke to
emulation them which are my flesh (the Jews), and save some of them;
for if the casting away of them be the _reconciling of the world_,
what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?"

[17] Acts xx. 28. It is hardly necessary to say, that the reading of
our common version, "_church of God_," wants the support of the best
authorities; and that, with the general consent of the most competent
critics, Griesbach reads "_church of the Lord_."

[18] Gal. iii. 13. Even here the Apostle cannot refrain from adverting
to his _Gentile_ interpretation of the cross; for he adds,--"that the
blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles, through Jesus Christ."

[19] In three or four instances, it is true, a sin-offering is
demanded from the perpetrator of some act of _moral wrong_. But in all
these cases a suitable punishment was ordained also; a circumstance
inconsistent with the idea, that the expiation procured remission of
guilt. The _sacrifice_ appended to the _penal infliction_ indicates
the twofold character of the act,--at once a _ceremonial defilement_
and a _crime_; and requiring, to remedy the one, an atoning rite,--to
chastise the other, a judicial penalty. See an excellent tract by Rev.
Edward Higginson, of Hull, entitled, "The Sacrifice of Christ
scripturally and rationally interpreted," particularly pp. 30-34.

[20] Heb. vii. 27. Let the reader look carefully again into the verbal
and logical structure of this verse; and then ask himself whether it
is not as plain as words can make it, that Christ "once for all"
_offered up_ "_a sacrifice first for_ HIS OWN SINS, and _then for the
people's_." The argument surely is this: "He need not do the _daily_
thing, for he has done it _once for all_; the never-finished work of
other pontiffs, a single act of his achieved." The sentiment loses its
meaning, unless that which he did once is _the selfsame thing_ which
they did always: and what was that?--the offering by the high-priest
of a sacrifice first for his own sins, and then for the people's. With
what propriety, then, can Mr. Buddicom ask us this question: "Why is
he said to have excelled the Jewish high-priest in _not_ offering a
sacrifice for himself?" I submit, that no such thing is said; but
that, on the contrary, it is positively affirmed that Christ _did_
offer sacrifice for his own sins. So plain indeed is this, that
Trinitarian commentators are forced to slip in a restraining word and
an additional sentiment into the last clause of the verse. Thus
Pierce: "Who has no need, like the priests under the law, from time to
time to offer up sacrifice first for his own sins, and after that for
the people's. For this _latter_ he did once for all when he offered up
himself; _and as to the former, he had no occasion to do it at all_."
And no doubt the writer of the Epistle _ought_ to have said just this,
if he intended to draw the kind of contrast which orthodox theology
requires, between Jesus and the Hebrew priests. He limits the
opposition between them to _one_ particular;--the Son of Aaron made
offering _daily_,--the Son of God _once for all_. Divines must add
_another_ particular;--that the Jewish priest atoned for _two_ classes
of sins, his own and the people's,--Christ for the people's only.
Suppose for a moment that this was the author's design; that the word
"_this_," instead of having its proper grammatical antecedent, may be
restrained, as in the commentary cited above, to the sacrifice for
_the people's_ sins; then the word "daily" may be left out, without
disturbance to the other substantive particular of the contrast: the
verse will then stand thus: "Who needeth not, as those high-priests,
to offer up sacrifice for his own sins; _for_ he offered up sacrifice
for the people's sins, when he offered up himself." Here, all the
reasoning is obviously gone, and the sentence becomes a mere inanity:
to make sense, we want, instead of the latter clause, the sentiment of
Pierce,--_for_ "he had no occasion to do this at all." This, however,
is an invention of the expositor, more jealous for his author's
orthodoxy than for his composition. I think it necessary to add, that,
by leaving out the most emphatic word in this verse (the word _once_)
Mr. Buddicom has suppressed the author's antithesis, and favored the
suggestion of his own. I have no doubt that this was unconsciously
done; but it shows how system rubs off the angles of Scriptural
difficulties.--I subjoin a part of the note of John Crell on the
passage: "De pontifice Christo loquitur. Quid verô fecit semel
Christus? quid aliud, quam quod Pontifex antiquus statâ die
quotannis[21] faciebat? Principaliter autem hic non de oblatione pro
peccatis populi; sed de oblatione pro ipsius Pontificis peccatis agi,
ex superioribus, ipsoque rationum contextu manifestum est."

The sins which his sacrifice cancelled must have been of the same
order in the people and in himself; certainly therefore not moral in
their character, but ceremonial. His death was, for himself no less
than for his Hebrew disciples, a commutation for the Mosaic
ordinances. Had he not died, he must have continued under their power;
"were he on earth, he would not be a priest," or have "obtained that
more excellent ministry," by which he clears away, in the courts
above, all possibilities of ritual sin below, and himself emerges from
legal to spiritual relations.

[21] This is obviously the meaning of καθ ἡμεραν in this passage;
_from time to time_, and in the case alluded to, _yearly_; not, as in
the common version, _daily_.

[22] Mr. Buddicom's Lecture on the Atonement, p. 471.

[23] See Mr. M'Neile's Lecture, pp. 302, 311, 328, 340, 341.

[24] Mr. M'Neile's Lecture, p. 338.


    _The Nature of the Atonement, and its Relation to Remission of
    Sins and Eternal Life._ By JOHN M'LEOD CAMPBELL. Cambridge:
    Macmillan & Co. 1856.

This is a strange book. A Greek would have hated it. A Puritan would
have found it savory, even where it was unsound. Rosenkranz, who has
written on the _Æsthetik des Hässlichen_, would have been thankful for
such a fund of illustration. Cumbrous, tiresome, monotonous, it has
few attractions for the natural man, who may have a weakness in favor
of pure English and nice grammar. It despises the graces of carnal
literature, and treats all the color and music of language as the
Roundheads treated a cathedral, silencing the "box of whistles" and
smashing the "mighty big angels in glass." And yet, if you can get
over its grating way of delivering itself, you will find it no
barbaric product, but the utterance of a deep and practised thinker,
charged with the richest experiences of the Christian life, and
resolute to clear them from every tangle of fiction or pretence.
Beneath the uncouth form there is not only severe truth, but great
tenderness and beauty,--a fine apprehension of the real inner strife
of tempted men, and an intense faith in an open way of escape from it,
without compromise of any sanctity. The author, though not tuneful in
his speech, has the gifts of a true prophet; and often enables one to
fancy what Isaiah might have been if he had heard nothing but the
bagpipe, and had set his "burdens" to its drone. Whether Mr.
Campbell's style has been formed north of the Tweed, we know not. In
any case, it is trained in the school of Calvinism; is untouched
therefore by any feeling for art; and runs on with a sort of
extemporaneous habit, insufficiently relieved by occasional flashes of
grotesque and forcible expression. It is only in exterior aspect,
however, that he presents the features of the rugged old Calvinism:
and though the first-born of that system and its younger sons are
distinguished like Isaac's children, "Esau is a hairy man, and Jacob
is a smooth man," yet no true patriarch of the school can be so blind
as not to see beneath our author's goat-skin dress, and know that he
is other than the heir. In fact, the peculiarity of this work as a
theological phenomenon is, that it is a destruction of Calvinism
without any revolt from it,--an escape from it through its own
interior. Its postulates are not denied. Its phraseology is not
rejected. Its statement of the problem of redemption is in the main
accepted. Its provision for the solution,--the Incarnation of the
Son,--is sacredly preserved. Yet these elements are put into such play
as to make it checkmate itself on its own area. Its definitions are
shown to be suicidal; and its sharp-edged logic is used to cut through
the ligaments that constrain and shape it.

We have spoken first of the _style_ of this book, because it strikes
the reader at the outset, and is not unlikely to repel him if he is
not warned. Of one other feature, derived from the same school, we
must say a word, to qualify the admiration and gratitude which we
shall then ungrudgingly tender to the author. In common with all the
great masters of the "Evangelical" school, he is too much at home with
the Divine economy; knows too well how the same thing appears from the
finite and the infinite point of view; can tell too surely how a mixed
nature, both divine and human, would feel on looking from both ends at
once; and altogether goes with too close a search to the "secret place
of the Most High." Not that he speaks unworthily on these high themes;
we have nothing truer to suggest, except more silence. But we must
confess that when a teacher lays down the conditions of divine
possibility, expatiates psychologically on the sentiments of the
Father and the Son, and seems as though he had been allowed a peep
into the autobiography of God, we shrink from the sharp outlines, and
feel that we shall believe more if we are shown less. With so many
soundings taken, and so many channels buoyed, the sense of the
shoreless sea is gone, and we find only a port of traffic, with
coast-lights instead of stars. The temptation to this theological
map-making has always proved peculiarly strong among the disciples of
Geneva: and the reason is to be found in the very nature of the
problem they have attempted to resolve. Religion has two foci to
determine,--the divine nature and the human. Athanasius and the Greek
influence fixed the doctrine of the Godhead: Augustine and the Latin
Church defined the spiritual state of man. The one, it has been said,
produced a theology; the other, an anthropology. In the construction
of the former, it is obvious that the appeal could be made only to
positive authority, whether of Scripture or the Church. On the Nicene
question no one could pretend to have personal insight or scientific
data: it must be decided by arbitrary vote on impressions of
testimony. But for establishing a doctrine of humanity, the living
resources of consciousness and experience were present with perpetual
witness; every proposition advanced could be confronted with its
corresponding reality: the disciple could not help carrying the dogma
inward to the test of his self-knowledge. The scheme of the Trinity
partook of the nature of a _Gnosis_, which dwelt apart from the stir
of phenomena, and, having once set and crystallized, could only be
hung up for preservation. The dogmas of human depravity and
helplessness partook of the nature of a _Science_, coming in contact
with the facts of life and character at every point. Moral experience
had something to say to them: and unless they could keep good terms
with it, they could not hope to hold their ground. Hence the
Augustinian divines have been constrained to seek a _philosophy_ of
religion, and to collate the text of their Scriptural system with the
running paraphrase of actual life. No writers have contributed so much
to lay bare the inmost springs of human action and emotion; have
tracked with so much subtilty the windings of guilty self-deception,
or so found the secret sorrow that lies at the core of every
unconsecrated joy. If we must concede to the Roman Catholic casuists
and the problems of the confessional the merit of creating an ethical
Art embodied in systems of rules, we owe to the deeper Evangelical
spirit, whether in its action or its reaction, the ground-lines of an
ethical Philosophy;--or, if you deny that such a thing as yet exists,
at least the true idea and undying quest of it. The disciples of
Augustine, belonging to an anthropological school, have been naturally
distinguished by a reflective and psychologic habit.

If it was the function of the Greek period to settle the doctrine of
God, and of its Latin successor to define the nature of man, it was the
aim of the _Reformation_, leaving these two extremes undisturbed, to
find the way of mediation between them. So long as the great sacerdotal
Church, living continuator of Christ's presence, was intrusted with the
business, private Christians wanted no theory on the subject; all nice
questions went into the ecclesiastical closet and disappeared. But as
soon as ever the hierarchy fell out of this position, there was an
immense void left to be filled. On the one hand, Infinite Holiness,
quite alienated; on the other, Human Pravity, quite helpless: how was
any approximation to be rendered conceivable? True, the great original
Mediation on Calvary, which the papal priesthood pretended to prolong,
remained; for it was fixed in history. But it lay a great way off, a
fact in the old past; and its intervention was required to-day by
Melancthon, and Carlstadt, and a whole generation quite remote from it.
How was its power to be fetched into the present? how applied to men
walking about in Wittenberg or Zürich? This was the problem which flew
open by the cancelling of the Romish credentials: and the various
answers to it constitute the body of Protestant theology. In one point
they all agree, that, to replace the priestly media that are thrust out,
_Personal Faith_ is the element that must be brought in. In what way
this subjective state of the individual mind draws or appropriates the
efficacy of the Incarnation; in what _order_ the redeeming process runs
among the three given terms,--the alienated Father, the mediating Son,
the believing disciple; whether any part of the process is moral and
real, or all is legal and virtual;--these are questions which the
Reformation has found it easier to open than to close. But answer them
as you will, they entangle your thoughts in the mutual relations and
sentiments of three persons; and cannot be discussed without
establishing some principles of moral psychology, as the common grounds
of intercommunion between minds finite and infinite, and dealing with
hypothetical problems of divine as well as human casuistry. Hence the
inevitable tendency of the doctrine of Mediation to venture on a natural
history of the Divine Mind,--to construct a drama of Providence and
Grace, with plot too artfully wrought for the free hand of Heaven, and
traits too specific and minute for reverent contemplation.

It is deeply instructive to observe the pulsation of religious thought
in men. Revealed religion is ever passing into natural, and natural
returning to re-interpret the revealed. We can almost see the steps by
which sacred history was converted into dogma; while dogma, assumed in
turn as the starting-point, is ever producing new readings of the
history. This world may be regarded as a _human theatre_, where the
Wills of men perform the parts; or as the stage of _Divine agency_,
using the visible actors as the executants of an invisible thought.
Its vicissitudes, presented in the former aspect, yield only history;
in the latter, give rise to doctrine. Noticed by Tacitus, the life of
Christ is a provincial incident of Tiberius's reign, and his death a
judicial act of Pontius Pilate's government. In the three first
Gospels and the book of Acts, the crucifixion is still the act of
wicked or misguided men, inflicted on an expostulating victim; not,
however, without being _foreseen_ as the appointed precursor of a
resurrection. The event is thus in the main simply historical; but
with a divine comment which gives it an incipient theological
significance. It appears under another aspect in the Gospel of John;
there, Christ not only foresaw, but _determined_ his own death: his
life "no man taketh it from him," but he "lays it down of himself"; he
is not merely the submissive medium, but the spontaneous co-agent of a
Divine intent. Finally, in St. Paul,--to whom the person and ministry
of Christ were unfamiliar, who, as a disciple of his heavenly life,
looked back upon them from a higher point,--the historical aspect
almost wholly disappears in the ideal; and the cross becomes the
Gospel, the wisdom of God and the power of God, the self-sacrifice of
the Son the reconciling way to the Father, the very focus and symbol
of all the mystery and mercy comprised in humanity. The movement of
thought through these successive stages is obvious. An event is at
first accepted as it arises. But in proportion as its concrete
impression retires, the need becomes more urgent to find its function:
instinctive search is made for all those elements, accessories, and
effects of it, which promise to bring out its meaning and idea, until
at last its doctrine absorbs itself, and enters the human mind as a
permanent factor of positive religion. It is thus that the great
antitheses, of Law and Gospel, of the Natural and the Spiritual man,
of dead Works and living Faith, of self-seeking enmity and
self-surrendering reconciliation with God, have settled upon the
consciousness of Christendom, and grown into the very substance of its
experience. They have become part of its natural religion. But in this
character they may, conversely, be taken as the initiative of a new
version of the history whence they sprung. They could not be born into
unmixed and formed existence at once; but, like all new affections,
must feel their way out of an early indeterminate state, into clear
self-apprehension and settled purity. The testimony of the Christian
conscience needs time to become articulate and collected. The shadow
of human guilt may lie so dark upon the mind, the dawn of the divine
holiness may so dazzle the inward vision, that blindness in part may
linger for a while; and the eye, in very opening to Christ's healing
touch, may fail to see. Once accustomed to the new light of life, men
are no longer occupied with it alone, but find in it a medium for
truer discernment of objects around. The special sentiments awakened
by the Gospel test themselves afresh, like any other theory, by being
fully lived out, and tried as experiments upon the soul. The type of
character,--the edition of human nature,--in which they take
embodiment, becomes a distinct object of critical appreciation; and
while all its deep expressive traits speak for the inner truth whence
they are moulded, every mixture of disharmony or defect calls for some
revision of idea. In the thirsty spiritual state to which men were
reduced on the eve of the Reformation, they drank up with intense
eagerness the most turbid supplies of evangelical doctrine. With purer
health and finer perception they become aware that not all was water
of life; and that coarse notions of the nature of justice, the
conditions of mercy, and the measurement of sin, were intermixed and
must become mere sediment. Cleared of these, the theory is taken back
to the facts of revelation, and so washed through them, that they may
also emerge as from a sprinkling of regeneration. Through such
re-baptism does our author, furnished with a purified conception of
"atonement," pass the history of Christ.

In looking for the whereabouts of the atonement, we are guided, as in
search for the pole-star, by two pointers whose indications we are to
follow. Its function was double,--to cancel a guilty past, to make a
holy future: and it must be of such a nature as to disappoint neither
of these conditions. In determining its form, the great anxiety of
theologians hitherto has been to fit it for its _retrospective_
action, and disembarrass the problem of salvation of the burden of
accumulated sin. It is Mr. Campbell's distinction that he lays the
superior stress on its _prospective_ action, and requires that it
shall positively heal the sickness of our nature, and evolve thence a
real and living righteousness. God's moral perfectness could be
satisfied with nothing less. If, indeed, He looked on our guilt
merely as an obstacle to our "salvation," and desired to remove it as
a hinderance out of the way,--if He rather sought a pretext for making
us happy than a provision for drawing us to goodness,--then the work
of Christ might be so devised as simply to tear out the defiled page
of the past, and register an infinite credit not our own, without
inherent care for ulterior personal holiness. But were it so, the
divine _love_ would amount only to an unrighteous desire for our
happiness, and the divine _righteousness_ to an unloving repulsion
from our sin. Such spurious analysis corresponds with no reality; and
in the truth of things there can be no heavenly affection that is not
holy, nor any holiness that is not affectionate.

"While in reference to the not uncommon way of regarding this subject
which represents righteousness and holiness as opposed to the sinner's
salvation, and mercy and love as on his side, I freely concede that
all the Divine attributes were, in one view, against the sinner, in
that they called for the due expression of God's wrath against sin in
the history of redemption: I believe, on the other hand, that the
justice, the righteousness, the holiness of God, have an aspect
according to which they, as well as his mercy, appear as intercessors
for man, and crave his salvation. Justice may be contemplated as
according to sin its due; and there is in righteousness, as we are
conscious to it, what testifies that sin should be miserable. But
_justice_, looking at the sinner not simply as the fit subject of
punishment, but as existing in a moral condition of unrighteousness,
and so its own opposite, must desire that the sinner should cease to
be in that condition; should cease to be unrighteous, should become
righteous: righteousness in God craving for righteousness in man, with
a craving which the realization of righteousness in man alone can
satisfy. So also of holiness. In one view it repels the sinner, and
would banish him to outer darkness, because of its repugnance to sin.
In another, it is pained by the continued existence of sin and
unholiness, and must desire that the sinner should cease to be sinful.
So that the sinner, conceived of as awakening to the consciousness of
his own evil state, and saying to himself, 'By sin I have destroyed
myself. Is there yet hope for me in God?'--should hear an encouraging
answer, not only from the love and mercy of God, but also from his
very righteousness and holiness. We must not forget, in considering
the response that is in conscience to the charge of sin and guilt,
that, though the fears which accompany that response are partly the
effect of a dawning of light, they also in part arise from remaining
darkness. He who is able to interpret the voice of God within him
truly, and with full spiritual intelligence will be found saying, not
only, 'There is to me cause for fear in the righteousness and holiness
of God,' but also, 'There is room for hope for me in the Divine
righteousness and holiness.' And when gathering consolation from the
meditation of the name of the Lord, that consolation will be not only,
'Surely the Divine mercy desires to see me happy rather than
miserable,' but also, 'Surely the Divine righteousness desires to see
me righteous,--the Divine holiness desires to see me holy,--my
continuing unrighteous and unholy is as grieving to God's
righteousness and holiness as my misery through sin is to his pity and
love.' 'Good and righteous is the Lord, therefore will he teach
sinners the way which they should choose.' 'A just God and a Saviour';
not as the harmony of a seeming opposition, but 'a Saviour, _because_
a just God.'"--p. 29.

From this justly-conceived passage the characteristics of Mr.
Campbell's theory may already be divined. He sets his faith on a
concrete, living, indivisible God, whom you can never understand by
laying out His abstract attributes one by one, with their separate
requirements, and then putting them together again to compute the
resultant. He insists on the absolute dominance of a moral and
spiritual idea throughout the revealed economy: of this nature is the
evil to be met,--sin and estrangement; of this nature is the good to
be reached,--righteousness and reconciliation; and only of this nature
can be the mediation which effects the change; related upward to the
Father and downward to men, in a way accordant with the laws of
conscience, and intelligible by its self-light. He craves, therefore,
a natural juncture, a real causal nexus, between the several parts of
the process, to the exclusion of all forensic fictions and arbitrary
scene-shifting and sovereign _tours-de-force_. In short, he will have
no tricks passed off, no _quasi_-transformations upon the conscience;
he feels the moral world to be above the range of mere miracle; any
change in it irreducible to its solemn laws would _ipso facto_ fall
out of it and become a mere dynamical surprise. Of _physical_ miracle
our author avails himself to the full amount; the incarnation of the
Son of God being, with him, as with others, the central fact and
essential medium of Christian redemption. But the august power thus
_super_naturally set up--the Person at once divine and human--works
out his great problem _naturally_, without requiring the suspension of
one rule of right, or holding any magical dealings with the character
of God or man. His problem, therefore, is to show how the life and
death of Christ--considered as God in humanity--were fitted, and alone
fitted, to blot out the sins of the world before God, and to introduce
among men a new state of real righteousness and eternal life.

The common Evangelical scheme of redemption so far affects to be
deduced from certain general principles, and to render the way of
redemption _conceivable_, that it is stigmatized as _rationalistic_ by
Catholics and Anglicans. It is so, however, only in the sense of
hanging well together, and serving the purpose of a _theological
Mnemonic_ to those who want a religion ready more than deep. In the
higher sense, of occupying any natural ground of reason, it does not
earn its reproach. The propositions which it lays down, as to the
inability of a holy nature to forgive unless circuitously and with
compensation, and as to the commutability of either penal liabilities
or moral attributes, are without any support from our primary
sentiments of right and wrong, and could be carried out by no sane man
in the conduct of life. The doctrine is taught in two principal
forms;--the earlier and more exact scheme of "_Satisfaction_,"
elaborated by Anselm of Canterbury, and perfected by Owen and
Edwards; and the modern theory of "_Public Justice_," maintained in
the writings of Dr. Pye Smith and Dr. Payne, and prevailing wherever
the first decadence from the old Calvinism is going on. The first of
these prepares its ground by laying down these principles as
fundamental;--that the connection between sin and suffering is
inviolably secured on the veracity of God; that "when we have done
all, we are unprofitable servants," and have only rendered our strict
due; that, far from "doing all," we have done and can do nothing,
except accumulate guilt, which, measure it as you will,--by the
majesty of the authority defied, or the multitude of the offenders and
their sins,--is practically of infinite amount. Here, then, is a case
of utter despair: infinite debt; nothing to pay; remission impossible;
punishment eternal; death unattainable. But we are brought into the
labyrinth on one side, to emerge from it on the other. While _men_ can
only multiply demerit, there are natures conceivable to which merit is
possible. A Divine Person, laying aside a blessedness inherently his,
and assuming sorrow not his own, and doing this out of a pure love,
fulfils the conditions; and when the Son takes on him our humanity,
the act, carried out unto the end, has a merit in it which in amount
is a full set-off against the guilt of men. Still, this only leaves us
with two opposite funds--of infinite good desert and infinite ill
desert--which sit apart and unrelated. In due course, the one ought to
have a boundless reward, the other a boundless punishment. But to
render his affluence available for our debt, the Son consummates his
self-sacrifice, substitutes himself for us as the object of
retribution, and dies once for all,--one infinite death for many
finite hereafters of woe. The Father's justice is satisfied; the
allotment of suffering to sin has been accurately observed; His desire
to pardon is released from its restraint. Having dealt with the person
of the Son as if it were mankind, He may deal with mankind as if they
were the Son, and look upon them as clothed with a perfect obedience.

The wholly artificial structure of this scheme, which is its greatest
condemnation, has been its chief security. It is by approaching within
conducting-distance of reality, that a doctrine elicits resistance and
meets the stroke of natural objection; and if it only keeps far enough
aloft in the metaphysic atmosphere, it may float along unarrested from
zone to zone of time. Men know not what to make of propositions so
much out of their sphere, so evasive of any real encounter with their
consciousness, and are apt to let them pass for their very
strangeness' sake. But surely we are bound to demand for them some
"response of conscience," and, with Mr. Campbell, to demur to such of
them as will not bear this test. Limiting ourselves to the
_mediatorial_ part of the theory, we will assume the problem of moral
evil to be correctly stated, and only ask whether, from the supposed
case of despair, the offered solution affords any real exit of relief.
Nor do we assume this for argument's sake alone. We can perfectly
understand any remorseful sense, however deep, of human unworthiness;
any appreciative reverence, however intense, of Christ's
self-sacrifice. Set the one under the shadow of the Father's infinite
disapproval, the other in the light of His infinite complacency; so
far we go; there let them lie. But what next? Here, on the left hand,
is Sin with its need of punishment; there, on the right, a perfect
Holiness with its merits. While they are thus spread beneath the
Father's eye, they break up their inviolable alliances; each moral
cause crosses over and takes the opposite effect. If such change took
place, the _seat_ of the fact must be sought partly in the
consciousness of Christ, partly in the Father's view of things. In
reference to the first, must we say that the Crucified _felt himself_
under Divine wrath and punishment, and esteemed that wrath to be
_just_,--the fitting expression of his own inward _remorse_? If so,
can we affirm that his consciousness was veracious? or did he not
feel, in regard to _others'_ sins, sentiments and experiences that are
false except in relation to _one's own_? And, ascending to the other
point of view, shall we affirm that the Father _saw sin_ in the Son
and was angry with him; so that, in the hour of sublimest obedience,
the words ceased to be true, "Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am
well pleased"? And on the other hand, what is meant when it is said
that beneath the Divine eye men in their guilt are seen "clothed with"
a perfect righteousness? Is such an aspect of them _true_? or is it
akin to an ocular deception? We seem to be reduced to this
dilemma;--the change of apparent moral place implied in "imputation"
is either a faithful representation, or a _quasi_-representation, of
the reality of things. If the latter, then the Divine consciousness is
illusory, and the world is administered on a fiction; if the former,
then the moral law, in assuring us of the personal and inalienable
nature of sin, gives a false report, and there is nothing to prevent a
circulating medium of merit from passing current through the universe.
Mr. Campbell's deference for the great advocates of this marvellous
doctrine does not obstruct his perception of its difficulties.

"I freely confess," he says, "that to my own mind it is a relief, not
only intellectually, but also morally and spiritually, to see that there
is no foundation for the conceptions that when Christ suffered for us,
the just for the unjust, he suffered either 'as by imputation unjust,'
or 'as if he were unjust.' I admit that _intellectually_ it is a relief
not to be called to conceive to myself a double consciousness, both in
the Father and in the Son, such as seems implied in the Father's seeing
the Son at one and the same time, though it were but for a moment, as
the well-beloved Son, to whom infinite favor should go forth, and also
as worthy, in respect of the imputation of our sins to him, of being the
object of infinite wrath, he being the object of such wrath accordingly;
and in the Son's knowing himself the well-beloved of the Father, and yet
having the consciousness of being personally, through imputation of our
sin, the object of the Father's wrath. I feel it intellectually a relief
neither to be called to conceive this, nor to assume it as an
unconceived mystery. Still more do I feel it _morally_ and _spiritually_
a relief, not to be required to recognize legal fictions as having a
place in this high region, in which the awful realities of sin and
holiness, spiritual death and spiritual life, are the objects of a
transaction between the Father and the Son in the Eternal Spirit."--p.

The second form of mediatorial doctrine, to which we have referred as
the modern type of Calvinism, has arisen from the endeavor to evade some
of these perplexities. The riddle that haunts its teachers is still the
same,--how it can become possible to show mercy to sinners; but the
difficulty in the way is differently conceived, and therefore met by a
different expedient. It is not an obstacle in God, arising from his
personal sentiment of equity, which must be satisfied; but springs out
of the necessity of consistent rectitude, and adherence to law in his
administrative government. The Father himself, it is intimated, would be
quite willing to forgive, were there nothing to consult except his own
disposition. But it would never do to play fast and loose with the
criminal law of the universe, and, notwithstanding the most solemn
enactments, let off delinquents on mere repentance, as if nothing were
the matter beyond a personal affront. Something more is due to _Public
Justice_. If the due course of retribution is to be turned aside, it
must be in such a way and at such a cost as to proclaim aloud the
awfulness of the guilt remitted. This, we are told, is accomplished by
the sufferings and death of the Son of God, which were substituted for
our threatened punishment, not as its quantitative equal paid to the
Father, but as a moral equivalent in the eyes of men. Their validity is
thus conceived to depend by no means on their particular measure, but on
the meritorious obedience of love which was their sustaining and
animating soul, and which, being on the scale of a Divine nature, gave
infinite value to the smallest sorrow. Within the casket of his grief
was held such a priceless righteousness, that, on beholding it, the
Father might regard it as an adequate plea for acts of mercy to sinners.
He does not indeed impute to them the actual moral perfectness of
Christ, so as to see them invested with it, any more than he imputed to
Christ their guilt, and frowned on Calvary. It is the _effects_ only of
that holiness which he imputes; he offers to men the benefits of it,
without reckoning it as really theirs, and giving them the _legal
standing_ which its possession would bestow.

No doubt this scheme gets rid of the penal mensuration and moral
conveyancing of the older Calvinism. It shifts also the bar to free
mercy away from the inner personality of God, and sets it in his outer
government. But when we again attempt to seize the _mediatorial
expedient_, what is it? It is said to be a display of the enormity of
that guilt which needs to be redeemed at such a cost. But is that need
_real_? Have we not been told that it has no place in God? Does he
then hang out a profession that is not true to the kernel of things,
but only a show-off for impression's sake? If Eternal Justice in its
inner essence does _not_ require the expiation provided, why in its
outer manifestation pretend that it _does_? As nothing can become
right for "the sake of good example" that is not right in itself, so
is "Public Justice," unsustained by the sincere heart of reality, a
mere dramatic imposture. Mr. Campbell has supplied us with a forcible
statement of this truth:--

"Surely rectoral or public justice, if it is to have any moral
basis,--any basis other than expediency,--must rest upon, and refer
to, distributive or absolute justice. In other words, unless there be
a rightness in connecting sin with misery, and righteousness with
blessedness, looking at individual cases simply in themselves, I
cannot see that there is a rightness in connecting them as a rule of
moral government. 'An English judge once said to a criminal before
him: You are condemned to be transported, not because you have stolen
these goods, but that goods may not be stolen.' (_Jenkyns_, 175, 176.)
This is quoted in illustration of the position, that 'the death of
Christ is an honorable ground for remitting punishment,' because 'his
sufferings answer the same ends as the punishment of the sinner.' I do
not recognize any harmony between this sentiment of the English judge
and the voice of an awakened conscience on the subject of sin. It is
just because he has sinned and deserves punishment, and not because he
says to himself that God is a moral governor, and must punish him to
deter others, that the wrath of God against sin seems so
terrible,--and as just as terrible."--p. 79.

Even were the expression backed up by reality, we cannot but ask about
the fitness of the medium for the thought to be conveyed. God's horror
at guilt is publicly proclaimed by the most awful crime in human
history! To explain the difficulty of letting off the offender, he
exhibits the anguish of the innocent! The spectacle would seem in
danger of suggesting the wrong lesson to the terrified observer,--of
raising to intensity the doubt whether, in a world that gives its
silver to a Judas, its judgment-seat to a Pilate, and the cross to the
Son of God, any Providence can care for rectitude at all. Even when
the death of Christ is contemplated exclusively as a _self_-sacrifice,
without remembering the guilt which compassed it, we are at a loss to
understand how it could be "an honorable ground for remitting
punishment." What difference did it make in the previous reasons of
the Divine government, so that penalties right before should be less
right afterwards? If Catiline were undergoing his just retribution at
the date of the Last Supper, what plea was there for releasing him at
or before the date of the resurrection? That obedience rendered and
suffering endured by one soul should dispense with the liabilities of
another, is a supposition at variance with the personal and
inalienable nature of all sin; and to say that God "imputes the
_effects_" of Christ's holiness to those who are not partakers in the
cause, is to accuse the Divine government of total disregard to
character and evasion of moral reality. The old Calvinism represents
the Father as having an illusory _perception_ of men, _as if_ they
were clad in a divine righteousness. The new Calvinism represents him
as having indeed a true perception of their unrighteousness, but,
notwithstanding this, falsifying the truth _in action_, and proceeding
as if the facts were quite other than they are. Inasmuch as
unveracious vision is intellectual, while unveracious practice is
moral, the younger doctrine appears to us a positive degradation of
the elder, not only in logical completeness, but in religious worth.
Both of them make the redeeming economy proceed upon a _fiction_; but
there is all the difference between unconscious and conscious fiction;
between an inner "satisfaction" brought about by an optical
displacement of merit, and an outward "exhibition" set up for the sake
of impression. The theory of Owen, stern as it is, bears the stamp of
resolute meaning consistently carried through into the inmost recess
of the Divine nature. The newer doctrine is the production of a
platform age, which obtrudes considerations of _effect_ even into its
thoughts of God and his government, and can scarce refrain from
turning the universe itself into pathos and _ad captandum_ display.

With good reason, therefore, does our author feel that this whole
subject is in need of reconsideration. His own doctrine diverges from
its predecessors at a very early point, and is seen at its source in
the following proposition of Edwards, as cited by Mr. Campbell:--

"In contending that sin must be punished with an infinite punishment,
President Edwards says, 'that God could not be just to himself without
this vindication, unless there could be such a thing as a repentance,
humiliation, and sorrow for this (viz. sin) proportionable to the
greatness of the Majesty despised,'--for that there must needs be
'either an equivalent punishment, or an equivalent sorrow and
repentance'; 'so,' he proceeds, 'sin must be punished with an infinite
punishment'; thus assuming that the alternative of 'an equivalent
sorrow and repentance' was out of the question. But, upon the
assumption of that identification of himself with those whom he came
to save, on the part of the Saviour, which is the foundation of
Edwards's whole system, it may at the least be said, that the Mediator
had the two alternatives open to his choice,--either to endure for
sinners an equivalent punishment, or to experience in reference to
their sin, and present to God on their behalf, an adequate sorrow and
repentance. Either of these courses should be regarded by Edwards as
equally securing the vindication of the majesty and justice of God in
pardoning sin."--p. 136.

The side of the alternative which Edwards abandoned, our author takes
up and follows out. The work of Christ, as a ground of remission,
consisted in the offering on behalf of humanity of an adequate
repentance. Adequate it could not have been but for his Divine nature;
which attaches to his holy sorrow an infinite moral value, to balance
the infinite heinousness of the sin deplored. The only reason why
human penitence does not in itself avail to restore, lies in its
imperfect purity and depth. Through the cloud of evil, and with the
eye of self, we are disqualified for true discernment of sin as it is:
both the limits of a finite nature, and the delusions of a tempted and
fallen one, hinder us from appreciating the measure of our guilt and
misery. Even when our better mind reasserts itself, our very
compunction carries in it many a speck of ill, and our repentance
needs to be repented of. But were it not for this, there would be
"more atoning worth in one tear of the true and perfect sorrow which
the memory of the past would awaken," "than in endless ages of penal
woe." It is not the inefficacy, but the impossibility, of due
penitence that constitutes our fatal disability; to be relieved from
which we need to be taken out of ourselves, to be identified with a
perfect spirit; our humanity must cease to be human, and become one
with the Divine nature. This is precisely the condition which realized
itself in Christ. As God in humanity, he had perfect sympathy with the
holiness of one sphere, and the infirmities of the other; he saw the
whole amount of the world's moral estrangement, not only with infinite
pity for its misery, but with infinite horror at its guilt. He could
both make a plenary confession for us, and respond unreservedly to the
Father's righteous judgment; could bear our burden on his heart before
heaven, and utter the _Miserere_ of holy sorrow, which our most
plaintive cry can never approach. This is the true nature of his
sufferings. He "made his soul an offering for sin," yielded it up to
be filled with a sense of our real aspect beneath the Omniscient eye,
and an Amen to its condemning look. Hence his sorrows had nothing
_penal_ in them, any more than the tears of a devout parent over a
prodigal child are penal. They are incident to that attitude of soul
which a perfect nature cannot but have in the presence of a brother's
sin. They are altogether moral and spiritual; and their efficacy as an
expiation is that of true repentance; expressing at once our entire
confession, acceptance of the Father's just displeasure, and sympathy
with his compassionate grieving at our alienation.

At the same time, this mere retrospective confession would not of itself
avail, were there no better hope for the future of mankind. But our
Mediator's own experience in humanity, his consciousness of intimate
peace and communion with the Father, opened to him the other side of our
nature, assured him of its secret capacity for good, and filled him with
hope in the very moment of contrition. As his sympathy could have
fellowship with our temptations, so could ours have fellowship with his
righteousness; and the light of Divine love that rested actually on
himself was thereby a possibility for the universal human soul, and was
already hovering round with longing to descend. It was on the strength
of this assurance that his intercession on our behalf was presented; it
would never have pleaded for indemnity in relation to the past, but as
the prelude to a real righteousness, a true partnership in his life of
filial harmony with God. The validity of his transaction on our behalf
consisted in its perfect seizure of the whole reality, its entire
"response to the mind of the Father in relation to men"; sorrow for
their estrangement, conviction of their possible return, and desire to
draw them into the spirit of genuine Sonship.

It was needful, then,--so we conceive our author's meaning,--that the
sentiments of God towards the world's sin and misery should quit their
absolute position, and should come and take their station in humanity;
and from that field should turn their gaze and expression upward to meet
the Father's downward and accordant look. As this "Amen of the Son to
the mind of the Father" constitutes the essence of the atonement on the
Divine side, so does it consist on the human side in "the Amen of each
individual soul to the Amen of the Son." The reproduction in us of the
filial spirit of Christ,--his confession, his pleading, his trust,--is
our fellowship with him and reconciliation with God.

"This is saving faith,--true righteousness,--being the living action,
and true and right movement of the spirit of the individual man in the
light of eternal life. And the certainty that God has accepted that
perfect and divine Amen as uttered by Christ in humanity is necessarily
accompanied by the peaceful assurance that, in uttering, in whatever
feebleness, a true Amen to that high Amen, the individual who is
yielding himself to the spirit of Christ to have it uttered in him is
accepted of God. This Amen in man is the due response to that word, 'Be
ye reconciled to God'; for the gracious and Gospel character of which
word, as the tenderest pleading that can be addressed to the most
sin-burdened spirit, I have contended above. This Amen is sonship; for
the Gospel call, 'Be ye reconciled to God,' when heard in the light of
the knowledge that 'God made him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that
we might be made the righteousness of God in him,' is understood to be
the call to each one of us on the part of the Father of our spirits, 'My
son, give me thine heart,' addressed to us on the ground of that work by
which the Son had declared the Father's name, that the love wherewith
the Father hath loved him may be in us, and he in us. In the light
itself of that Amen to the mind of the Father in relation to man which
shines to us in the atonement, we see the _righteousness of God in
accepting the atonement_, and in that same light the Amen of the
individual human spirit to that divine Amen of the Son of God is seen to
be what the Divine righteousness will necessarily acknowledge as the
_end of the atonement accomplished_."--p. 225.

In this view, it is not the rescue from punishment, not any favorable
change in our legal standing, not any imputed righteousness, that
Christ's mediation obtains, but a real transformation of soul and
character through the divine infection and infusion of his own filial
spirit. Only in so far as his mind thus spreads to us are we united to
him, or in any way partakers of his gift of life. Personal alienation
can have no reversal but in personal return; nor can anything
"extraneous to the nature of the Divine will itself, to which we are
to be reconciled, have part in reconciling us to that will." The fear
of hell is not repentance; the assurance of heaven is not salvation;
nor under any modification can the desire of safety, or the
consciousness of its attainment, constitute the least approach to
holiness. The good alone can touch the springs of goodness; and the
divine and trustful life of Christ must speak to us on its own
account, and win us by its own power, or not at all. Not that it acts
on us merely in the way of _example_. We do not so stand apart from
him in our independent individuality, that by an external imitation we
can copy him, and become, as it were, each another Christ, repeating
in ourselves his offering of propitiation. He is the Vine, of which we
are the branches. The sap is from him, drawn through the eternal root
of righteousness, and does but flow as a derived life into us. The Son
of God is not a mere historical personage, to be contemplated at a
distance in the past, but ever with us in the power of an endless
life; still succoring us when we are tempted, and ministering to
conscience a present help and peace. It is not, therefore, by
_following_ him, but by _abiding in_ him, that we have our fellowship
in his harmony with God.

The essence, then, of the scheme of redemption, in the view of our
author, seems to be this: that the Divine nature entered humanity to
open the Fatherliness of God by living the life of perfect Sonship; and
that, having awakened that life in us by this its visible realization,
he sustains it by the inner presence of his Spirit. It is one of the
obvious consequences of this doctrine, that no exclusive or exceptional
value is to be ascribed to the _death_ of Christ. It is simply the final
and crowning expression of the same filial mind which is the continuous
essence of his whole existence upon earth. Nor does the theory attach
importance to any _sufferings_ of Christ, as such; but only as media and
measures of moral expression. Had men sinned _as spirits_, his
reconciling work would not have involved death at all: but since in our
constitution mortality is "the wages of sin," his response to the
Divine mind in regard to sin would have been incomplete, had he not
honored this law and tasted its realization. Not to lose sight of the
main features of the doctrine in pursuit of details, we must pass
without notice many curious and subtle thoughts of our author on this
part of his subject. Indeed, everywhere the reader who has patience with
the entangled style will find deep hints and delicate turns of
reflection. But we must withdraw to a little distance from his system,
and endeavor to look at it as a whole; fixing attention especially on
the central point of all,--the _mediatorial provision_, which replaces
the penal "satisfaction" of the elder Calvinism, and the "exhibition of
rectoral justice" of the modern divines.

Instead of an infinite punishment endured or represented, the theory
offers us an infinite _repentance_ performed. Repentance for
what?--for human sin. Repentance by whom?--by Him "who knew no sin."
Is this a thing that can be? Is vicarious contrition at all more
conceivable than vicarious retribution? It is surely one and the same
difficulty that meets them both. On what ground is the transfer of
either moral qualities or their effects regarded by our author as
impossible?--because at variance with our consciousness of the
personal and inalienable nature of sin. But not less is this truth
contradicted when we say that the guilt may be incurred by one person,
and the availing repentance take place in another. Nor can any
imagination of Christ's state of mind identify it with penitence. Mr.
Campbell himself describes it (p. 135) as having "all the elements of
a perfect repentance in humanity for all the sin of man--a perfect
sorrow--a perfect contrition,--all the elements of such a repentance,
and that in absolute perfection--all--_excepting the personal
consciousness of sin_." This exception, however, contains just the
essential element of the whole. Penitence without any personal
consciousness of sin is a contradiction in terms; and the requisition
of the Divine law is, that _the sinner_ shall turn from the evil of
his heart, not that the righteous shall make confession for him. The
entire moral value of contrition belongs to it as the sign of inner
change of character from prior evil to succeeding good; and it admits
of no transplantation from the identical personality which has been
the seat of the evil and is the candidate for the good.

Further, it seems a paradox to say, with our author, that true
repentance is impossible to man, who alone needs it; and can be
realized only by the Son of God, in whom there is no room for it. It
would indeed be a hopeless realm to live in, which should annex to all
sins both an imperative demand and an absolute disqualification for
adequate contrition, and first open the fountain of availing tears in
holy natures that have none to shed. It is, in truth, of the very
essence of repentance to have its seat in mixed and imperfect moral
beings: and our author lays upon it quite an arbitrary requisition,
when he insists that, to pass as adequate, it must contain a perfect
appreciation of the sin deplored,--a view of it coincident with that
of God. Under such an aspect as this it could never have appeared to
us, though we had remained guiltless of it, and recoiled from it: and
we can hardly be required to reach, in the rebound of recovery, a
point beyond the station which would have prevented the fall. Many
errors in theology arise from applying absolute conceptions to
relative conditions, and forgetting that religion, as realized in us,
is a life, a movement, a progress, and not an ultimate limit of
perfection. Repentance is a transitional state, to which it is absurd
to apply an infinite criterion: it is a change from the worse to the
better mind, and cannot need the resources or belong to the experience
of the best. To pronounce it impossible to the wandering and fallen,
and make it the exclusive function of the All-holy, implies the
strangest metamorphosis of its meaning.

But how, it may be asked, could a paradox so violent find favor with
an author everywhere intent on the exclusion of fiction from Christian
theology? To refer a moral act to the _wrong personality_, to toss
about a solemn change like penitence between guilty and innocent, as
if its particular seat were a matter of indifference, is so serious an
error, that it could never enter a mind like Mr. Campbell's, unless
under some plausible disguise. Can we find the shape under which it
has recommended itself to his approval?

The sentiment ascribed to the Son of God in regard to sin,--wanting as
it does the essential penitential element of personal compunction,--is
simple sorrow for others' guilt, founded on perfect apprehension of
its nature. But this attitude of soul in him awakens the conscience of
his disciples, and is reproduced in them by fellowship. Spread into
their consciousness, it is no longer clear of the immediate presence
of sin, but, falling in with it, assumes the missing element, and
becomes repentance. When the Christian sense of evil, which ever
partakes of true contrition, is thus contemplated as a transmigration
of the Mediator's own spirit into the soul, the two are so identified
in thought, that what is true only of the human effect is referred to
the Divine cause; and the moral sorrow of Christ is regarded as
_potentially_ equivalent to repentance, because that is _actually_ the
form of the corresponding phenomenon in us. If this, however,
_explains_ our author's position, it hardly _justifies_ it.
Intercession for others in their guilt may _move them_ to remorse for
their own, but is a fact of quite different nature. As attributes and
expressions of character, the two phenomena are not to be confounded;
and as affecting our relation to God, there is the obvious and
admitted distinction, that intercession avails not for those who
remain impenitent, and would not be needed for the spontaneously
penitent. The sorrowful expostulations of the Son of God have only so
far a reconciling effect as they become the medium, in the hearts of
men, of an awakened contrition, aspiration, and faith. We cannot
conceive them to have _immediately_ altered--as repentance _does_--the
personal relation between God and the transgressors of His will; else
the change would be a change in the Divine sentiment whilst its
objects still remained unchanged. The effect _waits_ for its
development in souls melted and renewed. And thus the atoning sorrow
of Christ becomes simply a provision for a healing penitence in men.

The ascription of "repentance" to Christ is curious in another point of
view. It arises from a blending together of _his_ consciousness and _his
disciples'_; from slurring the lines of personality between them; from
regarding their spiritual state as an organic extension of his, and his
as the vital root of theirs. In his endeavor to recommend it to us, our
author instinctively runs into abstract expressions in speaking of
mankind; fusing down concrete men into "_humanity_"; referring to the
Mediator as "God in _humanity_"; and so, dealing with our nature as if
it were a single existence, carrying or turning up all its individuals
as partial phenomena of one essence. On the other hand, in our endeavor
to correct his doctrine, we have had to lay stress on the inalienable
and separate character of all particular persons, taken one by one; to
insist on the solitude of each responsible agent, and the impassable
barriers which forbid the transference of moral attributes from mind to
mind. Which of these two modes of conception is the truer? For according
as we incline to the one or the other,--according as we treat _humanity_
as the organic unit of which individual samples of mankind are numerical
accidents, or take each man as an integer, of which the race is a
multiple,--shall we lean towards mediatorial or towards direct religion.
We are firmly convinced that _no_ doctrine of _mediation_--in the strict
sense implying transactions with God on behalf of men, _as well as_ in
the opposite direction--can be harmonized with the modern
_individualism_; and that it is precisely in the attempt to unite these
incompatibles, that the forensic fictions to which Mr. Campbell objects,
and the moral fiction in his own theory to which we object, have had
their origin. They are mere artificial devices to compensate the loss of
that realistic mode of conception in which alone a true atoning doctrine
can rest in peace. So long as you contemplate the Redeemer as a detached
person, not less insulated in his integrity of being than angel from
archangel or from man, the difficulty will remain insuperable of making
his moral acts avail for _other human individuals_, unless by a
fictitious transference, against which conscience protests. Punishment
by substitute, righteousness by deputy, vicarious repentance, are
notions at variance with the fundamental postulates of the Moral Sense:
and in the attempt to defend them we are liable to lose the solemn,
living, face-to-face reality of the strife within us, and to weave
around us a web of legal and formal relations, as little like any
heart-felt veracity as a chancery decree to a law of nature. In
proportion as the soul is pierced with a sharper contrition, and attains
a deeper and clearer insight into her own unfaithful disorder, will the
inherent impossibility of any foreign exchange of righteousness become
apparent, and the desire to be shielded from punishment will pass away:
nor is the conscience truly awakened which does not rather rush into the
arms of its just anguish than start back and fly away. And the more you
hold up to view the holiness of Christ, the darker will the personal
past appear to grow; for self-reproach will say: "Yes, I see him as the
holy Son of God; the guiltier am I that the vision did not keep me from
my sin." Talk to such a one of Christ's transactions on our behalf, as
"_federal head_" of a redeemed people; and his misery will take no
notice of the cold pretence, unless to think, "Whatever engagements he
made for me, I have broken them all." In short, while Christ is regarded
simply as an historical individual, with the chasm of an incommunicable
personality between him and us, no ingenuity can construct, except from
the ruins of moral law, any other bridge of mediation than the suasion
of natural reverence, by which his image passes into the heart of faith.

It is otherwise when we break through the restraints of the modern
individualism, and strive to enter into that literal identification of
Christ with Christians which is so frequent with St. Paul. If, instead
of saying that Christ _had_ our human nature, we could put our thought
into this form,--"He _was_ (and _is_) our human nature,"--if we could
suppose our type of being not merely represented in him as a sample, but
concentrated in him as a whole,--we should read its essentials and
destination in his biography: his predicates would be its predicates:
and in his sorrows and sanctity it might undergo purification. Humanity
thus made into a person would then be the corresponding fact to Deity
embodied in a person: both would be _Incarnations_,--essential Manhood
and essential Godhead,--co-present in the same manifested life. In the
ordinary conception of the doctrine of two natures, Christ is
represented, we believe, as _a_ man; in the mode of thought to which we
now refer, he appears as _Man_. The difficulties which arise in the
attempt to carry out this form of thinking are evident enough, even to
those who know nothing of the Parmenides of Plato. Indeed, they are
rendered so obtrusive by our modern habits of mind, that even a
momentary seizure, for mere purposes of interpretation, of that older
intellectual posture, scarcely remains possible to us. The apprehension
of it, however, is indispensable to one who would appreciate the
mediatorial theology of Christendom,--a theology which never could have
sprung up if our present conceptualist and nominalist notions had always
prevailed, and which, ever since their ascendency in Europe, has been
driven to deplorable shifts of self-justification. The parallel between
the first and second Adam, the fall and the restoration, the death
incurred and the life recovered, acquire new meaning for those who thus
think,--that as the incidents of Adam's existence become _generic_ by
_descent_, so the incidents of Christ's existence are generic by
_diffusion_; that if in the one we see humanity at head-quarters in
_time_, in the other we see it at head-quarters in _comprehension_; so
that, like an atmosphere which, purified at nucleus, has the taint drawn
off from its margin, our nature is freed from its sickliness in him. It
becomes intelligible to us in what sense we are to take refuge in him as
our including term, to find in him an epitome of our true existence, to
die (even to have died) with him, to suffer with him, to be risen with
him, to dwell above in him. On the assumption of such a union, his life
ceases to be an individual biography; what is manifested in him
personally, becomes true of us universally; and it is as if we were
all--like special examples in a general rule, or undeveloped truths in a
parent principle--virtually present in his dealings with evil and with
God. It is evident, that in this view his mediation has no chasm to
cross, no foreign region to enter, but is an inseparable predicate of
his own personal acts. The facility of conception afforded by this
method is betrayed by Mr. Campbell's resort to an analogous hypothesis
as a mere illustrative help to the mind. Witness the following striking

"That we may fully realize what manner of equivalent to the dishonor
done to the law and name of God by sin an adequate repentance and
sorrow for sin must be, and how far more truly than any penal
infliction such repentance and confession must satisfy Divine justice,
let us suppose that all the sin of humanity has been committed by one
human spirit, on whom is accumulated this immeasurable amount of
guilt; and let us suppose this spirit, loaded with all this guilt, to
pass out of sin into holiness, and to become filled with the light of
God, becoming perfectly righteous with God's own righteousness,--such
a change, were such a change possible, would imply in the spirit so
changed a perfect condemnation of the past of its own existence, and
an absolute and perfect repentance, a confession of its sin
commensurate with its evil. If the sense of personal identity
remained, it must be so. Now, let us contemplate this repentance with
reference to the guilt of such a spirit, and the question of pardon
for its past sin and admission now to the light of God's favor. Shall
this repentance be accepted as an atonement, and, the past sin being
thus confessed, shall the Divine favor flow out on that present
perfect righteousness which thus condemns the past, or shall that
repentance be declared inadequate? Shall the present perfect
righteousness be rejected on account of the past sin, so absolutely
and perfectly repented of? and shall Divine justice still demand
adequate punishment for the past sin, and refuse to the present
righteousness adequate acknowledgment,--the favor which, in respect of
its own nature, belongs to it? It appears to me impossible to give any
but one answer to these questions. We feel that such a repentance as
we are supposing would, in such a case, be the true and proper
satisfaction to offended justice. Now, with the difference of
personal identity, the case I have supposed is the actual case of
Christ, the holy one of God, bearing the sins of all men on his
spirit,--in Luther's words, 'the one sinner,'--and meeting the cry of
these sins for judgment, and the wrath due to them, absorbing and
exhausting that Divine wrath in that adequate confession and perfect
response on the part of man which was possible only to the infinite
and eternal righteousness in humanity."--p. 143.

The case which our author here presents as an aid to the imagination
was to Luther the literal reality; to whom, accordingly, Christ was
"the one sinner," _without_ "the difference of personal identity,"
which is here so innocently slipped in, as if it were of no
consequence. Christ, in the Reformer's view, _was_ humanity, _our_
humanity; and the grand function and triumph of faith is to feel
ourselves included in him, to merge our individuality, sins and all,
in his comprehending manhood and atoning obedience. Hence the stress
which Luther lays on "the well-applying the pronoun" _our_, in the
phrase, "who gave himself for our sins"; "that this one syllable being
believed may swallow up all thy sins." The effect of this realism on
the theology of Luther has not been sufficiently remarked. We believe
it to be the key to much that is obscure in his writings, and the
secret source of his antipathy to the Calvinistic type of the
Reformation. Absorption of Manhood into Christ,--distribution of
Godhead into humanity,--these were the correlative parts of his
objective belief,--Atonement and Eucharistic Real Presence: and
neither in themselves nor in their correspondence can they be
appreciated, without standing with him at the point of view which we
have endeavored to indicate.

Whether mediatorial religion shall continue to include in its scheme
some provision for _dealing with God on behalf of men_, will mainly
depend on the successful revival or the final abandonment of the old
realistic modes of thought. Mr. Campbell's compromise with them,
taking refuge with them for illustration while disowning them in
substance, answers no logical or theological purpose at all. If he
follows out the natural tendencies and affinities of his faith, he
must rest exclusively at last in the other half of the doctrine, which
exhibits the _dealing with man on behalf of God_. In this best sense
mediatorial religion is imperishable, and imperishably identified with
Christianity. The Son of God, at once above our life and in our life,
morally divine and circumstantially human, mediates for us between the
self so hard to escape, and the Infinite so hopeless to reach; and
draws us out of our mournful darkness without losing us in excess of
light. He opens to us the moral and spiritual mysteries of our
existence, appealing to a consciousness in us that was asleep before.
And though he leaves whole worlds of thought approachable only by
silent wonder, yet his own walk of heavenly communion, his words of
grace and works of power, his strife of divine sorrow, his cross of
self-sacrifice, his reappearance behind the veil of life eternal, fix
on him such holy trust and love, that, where we are denied the
assurance of knowledge, we attain the repose of faith.


It is at all times difficult, even for the wisest, to describe aright
the tendencies of the age in which they live, and lay down its
bearings on the great chart of human affairs. Our own sensations can
give us no notice whither we are going; and the infinite life-stream
on which we ride, restless as it is with the surface-waves of
innumerable events, reports nothing of the mighty current that sweeps
us on, except by faint and silent intimations legible only to the
skilled interpreter of heaven. It is something, however, to have the
feeling _that we are moving_, and to be awake and looking out; and
perhaps there never was a period in which this consciousness was more
diffused throughout society than in our own. No one can look up and
around at the religious and social phenomena of Christendom, without
the persuasion that we are entering a new hemisphere of the world's
history,--a persuasion corroborated even by those who disclaim it, and
who insist on still steering by lights of tradition now sinking into
the mists of the receding horizon. Wherever we turn our eye, we
discover some symptom of an impending revolution in the forms of
Christian faith. The gross materialism and absolute unbelief diffused
for the first time among vast masses of our population; the
fast-spreading (and, as it appears to us, morbid) dislike to look
steadily at anything miraculous; the extensive renunciation, even
among the religious classes on the Continent, of historical
Christianity; the schisms and ever-new peculiarities which are
weakening all sects, and, like seedlings of the Reformation, are
obscuring the species, by multiplying the varieties, of opinion; the
revived controversies, penetrating all the great political questions
of the age, between the ecclesiastical and civil powers,--are not the
only indications of approaching theological change. That very
conservatism and recoil upon the high doctrine of an elder time, which
is manifest in every section of the Christian world, is a confession
by contrast of the same thing. For opinion does not turn round and
retreat into the past, till it has lost its natural shelter in the
present, and dreads some merciless storm in the future. The outward
strength which the older churches of our country seem to be acquiring
arises from the rallying of alarm and the herding together of
trembling sympathies; and though fear may unite men against external
assaults upon institutions, it cannot stop the decay of inward doubt.
It would seem as if Christianity was threatened by the mental activity
which it has itself created; as if the intellectual weapons which have
been forged and tempered by its skill were treacherously turned
against its life. It is vain, however, to strike a power that is
immortal; nothing will fall but the bodily form cast for a season
around the imperishable spirit.

Protestantism, with all its blessings, has after all greatly
disfigured Christianity, by constructing it into a rigid metaphysical
form, and setting it up on a narrow pedestal of antiquarian proof;--by
destroying its infinite character through definitions, and developing
it dogmatically rather than spiritually;--by treating it, not as an
ideal glory around the life of man, but a logical incision into the
psychology of God. The wreck of systems framed under this false
conception will but leave the pure spirit of our religion in the
enjoyment of a more sacred homage;--you may dash the image, but you
cannot touch the god.

In the following remarks we shall seek to make this evident;--to show
what principles of religion in general, and of Christianity in
particular, may be pronounced safe from the shocks of doubt. In times
of consternation and uncertainty, it behooves each one to look within
him for the heart of courage, and around him for the place of shelter,
and to single out, amid countless points of danger, some refuge
immutable and eternal. With this view, we propose to trace an outline
of Christian truths which we consider secure and durable as our very
nature;--a chain of granite points rising, like the rock of ages,
above the shifting seas of human opinion. In doing so, we shall be
simply delineating Unitarian Christianity, according to our conception
of it;--expounding it, not as a barren negation, but as a scheme of
positive religion; exhibiting both its characteristic faiths, and
something of the modes of thought by which they are reached.

       *       *       *       *       *

I. In the _first_ place, WE HAVE FAITH in the _Moral Perceptions of
Man_. The conscience with which he is endowed enables him to
appreciate the distinction between right and wrong; to understand the
meaning of "_ought_," and "_ought not_"; to love and revere whatever
is great and excellent in character, to abhor the mean and base; and
to feel that in the contrast between these we have the highest order
of differences by which mind can be separated from mind. And on this
consciousness,--the basis of our whole responsible existence,--no
suspicion is to be cast; no lamentation over its fallibility, no hint
of possible delusion, is to pass unrebuked; it is worthy of absolute
reliance as the authoritative oracle of our nature, supreme over all
its faculties,--entitled to use sense, memory, understanding, to
register its decrees, without a moment's license to dispute them. That
Justice, Mercy, and Truth are good and venerable, is no matter of
doubtful opinion, in which peradventure an error may be hid;--is not
even a thing of certain inference, recommended to us by the force of
evidence;--is not an empirical judgment, depending on the
pleasurableness of these qualities, and capable of reversal, if, under
some tyrant sway, they were to be rendered sources of misery. The
approval which we award to them is quite distinct from assent to a
scientific probability; the excellence which we ascribe to them is not
identical with their command of happiness, but altogether transcends
this, precedes it, and survives it; the obligation they lay upon us is
not the consequence of positive law, human or divine, or in any way
the creature of superior will; for all free-will must itself possess a
moral quality,--can never stir without exercising it,--and cannot
therefore give rise to that which is a prior condition of its own
activity. And if (to pursue the thought suggested above) we could be
snatched away to some distant world, some out-province of the
universe, abandoned by God's blessed sway to the absolutism of demons,
where selfishness and sensuality, and hate and falsehood, were
protected and enjoined by public law, it is clear that, by such
emigration, our interests only, and not our duties, would be reversed;
and that to rebel and perish were nobler than to comply and live. The
discernment of moral distinctions, then, belongs to the very highest
order of certainties; it has its seat in our deepest reason, among the
primitive strata of thought, on which the depositions of knowledge,
and the accumulations of judgment, and the surface growths of opinion,
all repose. As experience in the past has not taught it, experience in
the future cannot _unteach_ it. The difference between good and evil
we cannot conceive to be merely relative, and incidental to our point
of view,--variable with the locality and the class in which a being
happens to rest,--an optical caprice of the atmosphere in which we
live;--but rather a property of the very light itself, found
everywhere out of the region of absolute night; or, at least, a
natural impression, belonging to that perceptive eye of the soul,
through which alone we can look out, as through a glass, upon all
beings and all worlds; and if any one will say that the glass is
colored, it is, at all events, the tint of nature, shed on it by the
ineffaceable art of the Creator. The modes in which we think of moral
qualities are not terrestrial peculiarities of idea, like foreign
prejudices; the terms in which we speak of them are not untranslatable
provincial idioms, vulgarities of our planetary dialect, but are
familiar, like the symbols of a divine science, to every tribe of
souls, belonging to the language of the universe, and standing
defined in the vocabulary of God. The laws of right are more
necessarily universal than the physical laws of force; and if the same
agency of gravitation that governs the rain-drop determines the
evolutions of the sky, and the Principia of Newton would be no less
intelligible and true on the ring of Saturn than in the libraries of
this earth,--yet more certain is it that the principles of moral
excellence, truly expounded for the smallest sphere of responsibility,
hold good, by mere extension, for the largest, and that those
sentiments of conscience which may give order and beauty to the life
of a child, constitute the blessedness of immortals, and penetrate the
administration of God. This is what we intend, when we insist on
implicit faith in the moral perceptions of man. They are to be assumed
by us as the fixed station, the grand heliocentric position, whence
our survey of the spiritual universe must be made, and our system of
religion constructed. Whatever else may move, here, as in creation's
centre of gravity, we take our everlasting stand. Whatever else be
doubtful, these are to be simply trusted. The force of certainty by
which nature and God give them to the conscience exceeds any by which,
either through the understanding or through external supernatural
communication, they might _seem_ to be drawn away. No revelation could
persuade me that what I revere as just, and good, and holy, is _not
venerable_, any more than it could convince me that the midnight
heavens are not sublime.

There is nothing to move us from this position, in the objection, that
different men have different ideas of right and wrong, and that the
heroic deeds of one latitude are regarded as the crimes of another. This
moral discrepancy is, in the first place, infinitely small in proportion
to the moral agreement of mankind, so that it is even difficult to find
many striking examples of it; and when the subject is mentioned,
everybody expects to hear the self-immolation of the Indian widow, and
other superstitions of the Ganges, adduced as the standing
illustrations. What, after all, are these eccentricities of the moral
sense, compared with the scale of its common consent? As well might you
deny the existence of an atmosphere, because you have found the air
exhausted from a pump! Where is the nation or the individual, without
the rudiments, however imperfectly unfolded, of the same great ideas of
duty which we possess ourselves?--where the language, in which there are
no terms to denote good and evil,--the just, the brave, the
merciful?--where the tribe so barbarous as not to listen, with earnest
eye, to the story of the good Samaritan? And if such there were, should
we not call them a people but little human (_inhuman_), and deem them,
not the specimens, but the outlaws of our nature? Moreover, the
variances of moral judgment are usually only apparent and external. The
action which one man pronounces wrong and another right, is not the
same, except upon the lips: enter the minds of the two disputants, and
you will find that it is only half taken into the view of each, and
presents to them its opposite hemispheres; no wonder that it shows the
darkness of guilt to the one, and the sunshine of virtue to the other.
And accordingly, these differences actually vanish as the faculty of
conscience unfolds itself, and the scope of the mind is enlarged. Like
the discrepancies in the ideas which men have of beauty, they exist
principally between the uncultivated and the refined: and the
well-developed perceptions of the best in all ages and countries visibly
agree. Nay, while yet the discordance lasts, it introduces no real
doubt: for heaven has established a moral subordination among men, which
reveals the real truth of our own nature. Do we not always see, that the
lower conscience bows before the higher;--that the heart, without light
or heat itself, may be pierced, as with a flash, by a sentiment darted
from a loftier soul, and own it to be from above;--that, simply by this
natural allegiance of the lesser to the nobler, classes and nations and
sects are raised in dignity and moral greatness;--that they, and they
only, have had any grand and sublime existence in the history of the
world, who have been gifted with power to create a new religion,--a
fresh development of what is holy and divine;--and that every one so
endowed has always gathered around him the multitudes ever praying to
be lifted above the level of their life, and blessing the benefactor who
wakes up the consciousness of their higher nature? And if so, the
general _direction_ of the moral sentiment is the same, however its
intensity may vary: and the irregular indications which it gives are not
due to any inherent vacillation, but to the disturbing causes which
deflect it from the celestial line of simplicity and truth.

We keep our foot, then, on this primitive foundation,--faith in the
moral perceptions of man. We say, that we know what we mean, when we
affirm that a being is just, pure, disinterested, merciful; that these
terms describe one particular kind of character, and one only; that
they have the same sense to whomsoever they are applied, and are not
to be juggled with, so as to denote quite opposite forms of action and
disposition, according as our discourse may be of heaven or of earth;
that whenever they lose their ordinary and intelligible signification,
they become senseless; and that what would be wrong and odious in any
one moral agent, can be, under similar relations, right and lovely in
no other. These positions, which we take to be fundamental, are in
direct contradiction to the theological maxims with which most
churches begin;--viz. that human nature is so depraved that its
conscience has lost its discernment, sees everything through a
corrupted medium, and deserves no trust; that it may surrender its
convictions to anything which can bring fair historical evidence of
its being a revelation;--in other words, that it may be right to throw
away our ideas of right, and, in obedience to antiquarian witnesses,
suppose it holy in God to design and execute a scheme which it would
be a crime in man to imitate. These principles are defended by the
assertion, that the relations of the Divine and the human being are so
different as to destroy all the analogies of character between them.
The only tendency, both of this defence and of the principles
themselves, is to absolute scepticism;--to _atheistical scepticism_,
inasmuch as our propositions respecting God, if not true in the plain
human sense, are to us true in no other, and represent _nothing_; to
_moral scepticism_, inasmuch as, the sentiments of conscience being
exposed to distrust, and all its language rendered unsettled, the very
ground on which human character must plant itself is loosened; the
rock of duty melts into water beneath our feet, and we are cast into
the waves of impulse and caprice.

       *       *       *       *       *

II. We have Faith in the _Moral Perfection of God_. This indeed is a
plain consequence of our reliance on the natural sentiments of duty.
For it is not, we apprehend, by our logical, but by our moral faculty,
that we have our knowledge of God; and he who most confides in the
instructor will learn the sacred lesson best. That one whom we may
call the Holiest rules the universe, is no discovery made by the
intellect in its excursions, but a revelation found by the conscience
on retiring into itself; and though we may reason in defence of this
great truth, and these reasonings, when constructed, may look
convincing enough, they are not, we conceive, the source, but rather
the effect, of our belief,--not the forethought which actually
precedes and introduces the Faith, but the afterthought by which Faith
seeks to make a friend and an intimate of the understanding. Does any
one hesitate to admit this, and think that our conceptions of the
Divine character are inferences regularly drawn from observation,--not
indeed observation on the mere physical arrangements, but on the moral
phenomena, of our world,--from the traces of a regard to character in
the administration of human life? We will not at present dispute the
conclusion; but, observing that the premises which furnish it are
certain _moral_ experiences, we remark that the very power of
receiving and appreciating these, of knowing what they are worth,
belongs not to our scientific faculty, but to our sense of justice and
of right. On a being destitute of this they would make no impression;
and in precise proportion to the intensity of this feeling will be the
vividness and force of their persuasion. And is it not plain _in
fact_, that it is far from being the clear and acute intellect, but
rather the pure and transparent heart, that best discerns God? How
many strong and sagacious judgments, of coolest capacity for the just
estimate of argument, never attain to any deep conviction of a perfect
Deity! Nay, how much does scepticism on this great matter seem to be
proportioned, not to the obtuseness, but rather to the subtlety and
searchingness of the mere understanding? But when was it ever known
that the singularly pure and simple heart, the earnest and aspiring
conscience, the lofty and disinterested soul, had no faith in the
"First fair and the First good"? Philosophy at its ease, apart from
the real responsibilities and strong battle of life, loses its diviner
sympathies, and lapses into the scrupulosity of doubt, and from the
centre of comfort weeps over the miseries of earth, and the
questionable benevolence of heaven; while the practically tried and
struggling, with moral force growing beneath the pressure of crushing
toil, look up with a refreshing trust, and with worn and bleeding feet
pant happily along to the abodes of everlasting love. The moral
victor, flushed with triumph over temptation, feels that God is on his
side, and that the spirit of the universe is in sympathy with his joy.
Never did any one spend himself in the service of man, and yet despair
of the benignity of God. Our faith, then, in the Divine perfection,
forms and disengages itself from the deeps of conscience: and the
Holiest that broods over us solemnly rises--the awful spirit of
eternity--from the ocean of our moral nature.

It is in conformity with this doctrine of the _moral_ origin of our
belief in the first principles of religion, that to every man his God
is _his best and highest_, the embodiment of that which the believer
himself conceives to be the greatest. The image which he forms of that
Being may indeed be gross and terrible; and others may be shocked, and
exclaim that he trusts, not in a Divinity, but in a Fiend: but will
the worshipper himself perceive and acknowledge this?--will he not
indignantly deny it?--will he not eagerly vindicate the perfection of
the Deity he serves? He can do no otherwise; for he discerns nothing
more sublime, and cannot be convinced that _that_ is low which stands
at the summit of his thoughts. This uniform phenomenon in the history
of religion could not exist, if human faith were an inference of
intellectual origin. There would be nothing _then_ to prevent some
men, in their reasonings on the probable character of God, from
assigning to that character a place _beneath_ their own conceptions of
what is most excellent; and amid the infinite varieties of
speculation, many forms of this opinion would undoubtedly arise. Let
any one, then, who dissents from the account which we have given, ask
himself this question: Why is it, that to discover a blemish in a
divinity is the same thing as to renounce faith in him; and that, even
in pagan times, to _assail the character_ of the gods was the constant
mark of an _unbelieving_ age? Is it not clear that, by a constraining
necessity of our being, we are compelled to regard the godlike and the
perfect as identical, and to look to heaven through the eye of our
moral nature? The Intellect alone, like the telescope waiting for an
observer, is quite blind to the celestial things above it,--a dead
mechanism dipped in night,--ready to serve as the dioptric glass,
spreading the images of light from the Infinite on the tender and
living retina of Conscience.

If, then, there is no discernment of Deity except through our moral
sense, the importance of confiding in the perceptions of that
sense,--of rendering our consciousness of them vivid and
distinct,--and the corresponding mischief of distrusting and
repudiating these our appointed instructors,--become evident. Faith in
the human conscience is necessary to faith in the Divine perfection:
and _this_ again is the needful prelude to the belief in any special
revelation. For, unless we are first assured of the truth and
excellence of God, we cannot tell that his communications may not
deceive us, giving us false notices of things, and agitating us with
illusory hopes and fears. This might be apprehended from a Being of
undetermined benevolence and integrity: and that this idea of a
_mendacious revelation_ has never seriously entered the minds of men,
is a strong proof of their natural and necessary faith in the
rectitude and goodness of the Divine Administrator of creation. This
Moral Perfection of God being assumed as a postulate in the very idea
of a Revelation, no system of religion which contradicts it can be
admitted as credible _on any terms_.

Now the whole scheme of Redemption, as it is represented in the popular
theology, appears to us to fall under this condemnation. Under the
_names_ of Justice, Sanctity, Mercy, it ascribes to the All-perfect a
course of sentiment and of practice which--it is undeniable--no other
moral agent, placed in analogous relations, could adopt without the
deepest guilt. The Holiness of God, so often adduced to justify the
severities of this scheme, we would yield to no one in earnestly
maintaining; believing, as we do, that his abhorrence of moral evil is
absolute and everlasting, his resistance to it real and true, and his
love of excellence simply infinite as his nature. But purity of mind
does not express itself by implacable vengeance against the impure, or
oblige its possessor to engage himself in physically smiting them,--much
less limit him through all eternity to this mode of administration.
Rather does it incline away from a treatment which too often adds only
torment, and removes no guilt,--which makes no advance towards the
blessed dispositions it loves,--which fevers and parches instead of
cooling and melting the passions of a culprit nature. It is a coarse and
wretched error to suppose that anguish is a specific for sin, to the
incessant infliction of which the Sinless is bound. God never departs
indeed from his devotion to the laws of goodness, and his design of
calling wider and wider virtue into existence: but he pursues them with
the fertility of his infinite free-will;--now by the severities of his
displeasure,--now by the openness of his forgiveness,--now by the
solicitations of his love. His purpose, as one whose perfection is not
merely spotless, but active and productive, cannot be, as some
Christians seem to say, the penal publication of his personal offence
against the insulters of his law, but the spread and cultivation
throughout his spiritual universe of pure and high affections: and
whenever the new germs of these appear in the garden of the Lord, no
vernal sunshine or summer dews can more gently cherish the bursting
flower, than does his mercy foster the fair and early growth. The
assertion that God cannot pardon and recall to goodness till he has
expended his tortures upon the evil, seems to us a plain denial of his
moral excellence. Theologians speak as if there were some crime, or at
least some weakness, in the clemency which freely receives a repentant
creature into favor; as if the mercy which exacts no penalty, when
penalty is no longer needed, were an amiable imbecility of human nature,
which only a loose-principled and unholy being can exercise! as if
absolute unforgiveness were the perfection of sanctity! True, this is
disclaimed in words; and the Eternal Father is called merciful, for
remitting the sinner's doom and transferring the burden of his guilt to
a victim divine and pure. But surely this disclaimer is more insulting
to our moral sense than the accusation. For, either this transference of
righteousness and guilt is a mere figure of speech, denoting only that,
from the death on Calvary, God took chronological occasion to pass his
own spontaneous pardon, and set up the cross to _mark the date_ of his
volition; or else, if the vicariousness be not this mere pretence, it
describes an outrage upon the first principles of rectitude, a reckless
disregard of all moral considerations, from the thought of which we are
astonished that all good men do not recoil.

We press once more the question which has never been answered: How is
the alleged immorality of letting off the sinner mended by the added
crime of penally crushing the Sinless? Of what man--of what
angel--could such a thing be reported, without raising a cry of
indignant shame from the universal human heart? What should we think
of a judge who should discharge the felons from the prisons of a city,
because some noble and generous citizen offered himself to the
executioner instead? And if this would be barbarity below, it cannot
be holiness above. Moral excellence and beauty, we repeat, are no
local growths, changing their species with every clime; nor are the
poisonous weeds of this outer region the chosen adornments of
paradise. The principles of Justice and Right embrace all beings and
all times, and, like the indestructible conception of space, attach
themselves to our contemplation of objects within the remotest
infinitude. It is no more possible that what would be evil in man
should be good in God, than that a circle on earth should be a square
in heaven. Having faith, then, in the absolute perfection of our
Creator, we dare ascribe to Him nothing which revolts the secret
conscience He has given us.

       *       *       *       *       *

III. The relation which thus subsists between the human conscience and
the Divine excellence leads us to avow, in the next place, a FAITH in
the _strictly Divine and Inspired Character of our own highest Desires
and best Affections_. We do not mean by this, that these affections
are of miraculous origin; that their appearance breaks through any
regular law; or that they do not belong to our own nature so as to
form an integrant part of its history; or that they do not arise
spontaneously within it, but require to be precipitated upon it from
without. They are as much properties of our own minds, as our
selfishness and sin: we are _conscious_ of them, and so they cannot
but be parts of our personality.[25] But in admitting them to be
_human_, I do not deny that they are _divine_: in regarding them as
indigenous to our created spirit, I do not treat them as foreign to
the Creator's; nor is there any inconsistency in believing them to be
simultaneously domesticated with both. That which is _included within_
the mind of man, is not _therefore excluded from_ the mind of _God_;
much less is it true that occurrences agreeable to the order of nature
are, by that circumstance, disqualified from being held the immediate
products of the Heavenly Will. The Supreme Cause, so far from being
shut out by his own secondary causes and natural laws, has now at
least no residence, no activity, no existence, except within them; He
covers, penetrates, fills them; thinks, speaks, executes, through
them, as the media of his volition: and _His_ energy and _theirs_ not
only _may coincide_, but even _must coalesce_. He is not to be brought
down from his universal dominion to the rank of _one of_ the physical
causes active in creation, doing that only which the others have left
undone. Will any one stand with me by the midnight sea, and, because
the tides in the deep below hang upon the moon in the heavens above,
forbid me to hear in their sweep the very voice of God, and tell me
that, while they roll untired on, He sleeps through the silent vault
around me? It is by the law of gravitation that the planets find an
unerring track in the desert space; and is it false, then, that He
"leadeth them forth with his finger," and bids us note, in pledge of
his punctuality, that "not one faileth"? Is there any error in
ascribing the very same event at one time to gravitation, at another
to God? Certainly not; for this is but one of the forms of his
personal activity. And it is the same in the world of Mind; its
natural laws do not exclude, but, on the contrary, include, the direct
Divine agency: and though _my_ thought, or hope, or love, cannot be
_yours_, they may yet be God's; not emanations from the God without
us, but inspirations of the God within. Why should we start to think
that there is a part of us which is divine?--why image to ourselves a
distant, external, contemplative God, seeing all things and touching
nothing, gazing on the unconscious evolutions of things, as the
retired Mechanist of nature?--why enthrone Him in the inertness of
dead space, without even a sacred function there, and exclude Him from
the tried, and tempted, and ever-trembling soul of Man? If we found
Him not at home in the secret places of strife and sorrow, vainly
should we wander to seek Him in the colder regions of nature abroad.
We have no sympathy with any system which denies the doctrine of a
Holy Spirit; which discerns nothing divine in the higher experiences
of human nature; which owns no black abyss and no heavenly heights in
the soul of man, but only a flat, common, midway region, neither very
foul nor very fair,--well enough for the streets of traffic, but
without a mount of vision and of prayer. Nothing noble, nothing great,
has ever come from a faith which did not deeply reverence the soul,
and stand in awe of it as the seat of God's own dwelling, the
presence-chamber of his sanctity,--the focus of that infinite
whispering-gallery which the universe spreads around us.

Nor can we doubt at what point of our own nature we must stand, in
order to hear the voice and feel the inspiration of the Eternal. The
pure in heart--each in proportion to his purity--see Him. Our
Conscience, our Moral Perceptions, as we have seen, are our only
revealers of God. In proportion to their clearness do we discern Him;
and behind the clouds that obscure them, He becomes dim, and vanishes
away. The aspirations of duty, the love of excellence, the
disinterested and holy affections, of which every good heart is
conscious, constitute our affinity with Him,--by which we know Him, as
like knows like: they are the expression of his mind, the pencil of
rays by which He paints his image on our spiritual nature. God is
related to our soul, like the sun in a stormy sky to the windowed
cells in which mortals live; and as we sit at our work in the chamber
of conscience or of love, the burst of brilliancy or the sudden gloom
within reports to us the clear-shining or the cloud of the heaven
without. Nor can any philosophy, falsely so called, permanently expel
this conviction from the Christian heart. Every devout and earnest
mind naturally feels that its selfishness and sin are of the earth,
earthy,--the most offensive of all attitudes to God,--the infatuated
turning of the back to Him: and, on the other hand, welcomes the fresh
glow of pure Resolve, the heart-felt sob of Penitence, the glorious
Courage that slays Temptation at his feet,--each as the gracious gift
of a divine strength, and the authentic voice of the Inspirer, God. By
this natural faith (natural, however, only to the Christian mind) we
are prepared to abide; and, with the Apostle Paul, to own ourselves,
not without deep awe, the very temple of the Holiest.

       *       *       *       *       *

IV. We have said, that in the Conscience and Moral Affections we have
our _only_ revealers of God. Let it be understood that we mean our
only _internal_ revealers of Him; the only faculty of our nature
capable of furnishing us with the idea and belief of Him, with any
perception of his character, and allegiance to his will. We mean to
state that, without this faculty, the bare intellect, the mere
scientific and reasoning power, could make no way towards the
knowledge of divine realities; could never, by any system of helps
whatsoever, be trained or guided into this knowledge, any more than,
in the absence of the proper sense, the _ear_ of the blind can be
taught _to see_; and that nature, life, history, miracle,
notwithstanding their most sedulous discipline, would leave us utterly
in the dark about religion, except so far as they addressed themselves
to our consciousness of what is holy, just, beautiful, and great. But
we do _not_ mean to state that the Moral Sense can stand alone,
dispense with all outward instruction, and supply a man with a natural
religion ready made. Nor do we mean that the every-day experience of
man, and the ordinary providence of God, are enough, without special
revelation, to lead us to heavenly truth. And we are therefore
prepared to advance another step, and to say, that, while regarding
the human conscience as the only inward revealer of God, we have FAITH
in CHRIST as _his perfect and transcendent outward revelation_. We
conceive that Jesus of Nazareth lived and died, not to _persuade_ the
Father, not to _appease_ the Father, not to make a sanguinary
_purchase_ from the Father, but simply to "_show_ us the Father"; to
leave upon the human heart a new, deep, vivid impression of what God
is in himself, and of what he designs for his creature, man; to
become, in short, the accepted interpreter of heaven and life. And
this he achieved, in the only way of which we can conceive as
practicable, by a new disclosure in his own person of all that is holy
and godlike in character,--startling the human soul with the sudden
apparition of a being diviner far than it had yet beheld, and lifting
its faith at once into quite another and purer region. If it be true,
as we have ventured to affirm, that to every man his God is his
_best_, you can by no means give to his faith a _higher God_, till you
have given to his heart a _better best_,--till you have touched him
with a profounder sense of sanctity and excellence, and purified and
enlarged the perceptions of his conscience. Nor can you do _this_,
except by presenting him with nobler models, with the living form of a
fairer and sublimer goodness, visibly transcending every object of his
previous reverence. No verbal teaching, no didactic rules, can
transform any man's moral taste, and place before his mental view a
lovelier and truer image of perfection: as well might you hope, by
definition, and precept, and book-wisdom, to train an artist with a
soul like Raffaelle, or an eye like Claude. But only give the glorious
model to the mind, _produce_ the most finished excellence and harmony,
and our instinctive sympathy with goodness feels and discerns it
instantly, and, though unable to conceive it inventively beforehand,
recognizes it reverently afterwards. And so Christ, standing in
solitary greatness, and invested with unapproachable sanctity, opens
at once the eye of conscience to perceive and know the pure and holy
God, the Father that dwelt in him and made him so full of truth and
grace. Him that rules in heaven we can in no wise believe to be _less
perfect_ than that which is most divine on earth; of anything _more
perfect_ than the meek yet majestic Jesus, no heart can ever dream.
And, accordingly, ever since he visited our earth with blessing, the
soul of Christendom has worshipped a God resembling him,--a God of
whom he was the image and impersonation;--and, _therefore, not_ the
God of which philosophy dreams,--a mere Infinite physical Force,
without spirituality, without love, chiefly engaged in whirling the
fly-wheel of nature, and sustaining the material order of the heavens,
and weaving in the secret workshop of creation new textures of life
and beauty; _not_ the God of which natural theology speaks, the mere
chief of ingenious mechanicians, more optical, and dynamical, and
architectural, than our most skilful engineers,--a cold intellectual
Being, in the severe immensity and immutability of whose mind all warm
emotions are absorbed and dissolved; _not_ the God of Calvinism,
creating a race with certain foresight of the eternal damnation of the
many, and against the few refusing to relax his frown except at the
spectacle of blood;--but the Infinite Spirit, so holy, so
affectionate, so pitiful, whom Jesus felt to be in him as his
Inspirer; who passes by no wounds of sin or sorrow; who stills the
winds and waves of terror, to the perishing that call on him in faith;
who stops the procession of our grief, and bids bereaved affection
weep no more, but wait upon the voice that even the dead obey; who
scathes the hypocrite with the lightning of conviction, and permits
the penitent to wash his feet with tears; who reckons most his own the
gentlest follower, that rests the head and turns up the trustful eye
on him; and bends that look of piercing love upon the guilty which
best rebukes the guilt. Jesus has given us a faith never held before,
and still too much obscured, in the _affectionateness_ of the Great
Ruler; has made Him our own domestic God, whose ample home encircles
all, leaving not the solitary, the sinner, or the sad without a place
in the mansions of his house; has wrapped us in the Divine immensity
without fear, and bid us claim the warm sun in heaven as our Paternal
hearth, and the vault of the pure sky as our protecting roof.

We have spoken of Christ's personal representation, in his own character
and practical life, of the spirit of the Divine Mind, and have explained
how in this way we believe that he has "shown us the Father." This,
however, is not all. His _direct teachings_, perfectly in harmony with
his life, confirm and extend its lessons; and we listen, with venerating
faith, to his inimitable exposition of all divine truth. Purity of soul
makes the most wonderful discoveries in heavenly things, and is indeed
the pellucid atmosphere through which the remoter lights of God are
"spiritually discerned." As we have said, the knowledge of him which any
mind (be it of man or of angel) may possess, is just proportioned to its
sanctity: and our Messiah, having the very highest sanctity, was enabled
to speak with the highest and most authoritative knowledge, and was
inspired to be our infallible guide, not perhaps in trivial questions of
literary interpretation, or scientific fact, or historical expectation,
but in all the deep and solemn relations on which our sanctification and
immortal blessedness depend. And both to his person and to his teachings
do the miracles of his life, the tragedy of his crucifixion, and the
glory of his resurrection, articulately call the attention of all ages,
as with the voice of God. In every way we discern in Christ the
transcendent revelation of the Most High. We are told, that this is to
_dishonor Christ_. We think it, however, a more glorious honor to him,
to be thus indissolubly folded within the intimacy of the Father's love,
than to be blasted by the tempest of his wrath; nor could we ever trust
and venerate a God who--like the barbarians in the judgment-hall--could
smite that meek lamb of heaven with one rude blow of vengeance.

       *       *       *       *       *

V. But we hasten to observe, finally, that WE HAVE FAITH in HUMAN
IMMORTALITY, as exemplified in the heavenly life to which Jesus
ascended. To assure us of this great truth, it were enough that Jesus
assumed and taught it; that it was his great postulate, essential to
the development of his own character, and to all his views of the
purposes of life,--an integrant part of his insight into human
responsibility and his version of human duty. For if _he_ did not
teach the reality of God in this matter, sure we are that none else
has ever done so; and most of all, that the sceptics who doubt the
heavenly futurity have no claim to take his place as our instructors.
For if this hope were a delusion, _who_ would the mistaken be? Will
any one tell me, that the voluptuary, who, from abandonment to the
body, cannot imagine the perpetuity of the spirit;--that the selfish,
who, looking at the meanness of his own nature, sees nothing worth
immortalizing;--that the contented Epicurean, who, in prudent quietude
of sense and sympathy, finds adequate satisfaction in this mortal
life;--that the cold speculator, who looks at the fouler side of human
nature, and, showing us on its features the pallor of sensualism or
the hard lines of guilt, deems it less fit for the duration of the
angel than for the extinction of the brute;--that these men are
_right_; while Christ, who walked without despair through the deepest
haunts of sin, with faith that succumbed not to wretchedness and
wrong, but stood up and conquered them; who embraced our whole nature
in his love, and displayed it in its perfectness; who lived and died
in its utmost service, with prayers and tears and blood; to whom our
most binding affections cling almost with worship as the holiest glory
of our world;--that _he_ could be under a delusion _here_?--that when,
sinking in trustful death, he laid his meek head to rest on the bosom
of the Father, he was cast off, and dropped on the cold clod?--that he
sobbed into the Infinite by night with a vain love that met no
answer?--that God rather takes part in his providence with the
mean-souled, the cynic, the morbid, the selfish? There _is_ no greater
impossibility than this, on which evidence can fall back. Nay, we
confess that, even apart from his doctrine, the mere mortal history of
Christ would have settled with us the question of futurity. For the
great essential to this belief is a sufficiently elevated estimate of
human nature: no man will ever deny its immortality who has a deep
impression of its capacity for so great a destiny. And this impression
is so vividly given by the life of Jesus,--he presents an image of the
soul so grand, so divine,--as utterly to dwarf all the dimensions of
its present career, and to necessitate a heaven for its reception. At
all events, it is allowable to feel this, when we see that this
natural sequel was actually and perceptibly appended; that this "Holy
One of God could not see corruption," but rose, above the reach of
mortal ill, to the world where now he welcomes the souls of the
sainted dead. That other life we take to be a scene for the mind's
ampler and ampler development, apart from those animal and selfish
elements which now deform and degrade it by their excess. And this
alone, if there were nothing else, would render it a life of awful
retribution. For to the wicked, what is this loss of "the natural
man," but total bereavement and utter death of joy?--what to the good,
but a glad and sacred birth?--to the one, a Promethean exile on a
mid-rock in the ocean of night, under the bite of a remorse that gnaws
impalpably, felt always, but never seen,--to the other, a welcome to
the loving homes of the blest, amid the sunshine of the everlasting
hills? Yet precisely because we believe in Retribution, do we trust in
Restoration. The very abhorrence with which a man's better mind ever
looks upon his worse, while it inflicts his punishment, begins his
cure: and we can never allow that God will suspend this natural law
impressed by himself on our spiritual constitution, merely in order to
stop the process of moral recovery, and specially enable him to
maintain the eternity of torment and of sin. And so, beyond the dark
close of life rise before us the awful contrasts of retribution; and
in the farther distance, the dim but glorious vision of a purified,
redeemed, and progressive universe of souls.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here, then, are our Five Points of Christianity, considered as a
system of positive religious doctrine, viz.:--1st. The truth of the
Moral Perceptions in man,--not, as the degenerate churches of our day
teach, their pravity and blindness; 2dly. The Moral Perfection of the
character of God,--in opposition to the doctrine of his Arbitrary
Decrees and Absolute Self-will; 3dly. The Natural awakening of the
Divine Spirit within us,--rather than its Preternatural communication
from without; 4thly. Christ, the pure Image and highest Revelation of
the Eternal Father,--not his Victim and his Contrast; 5thly. A
universal Immortality after the model of Christ's heavenly life; an
immortality not of capricious and select salvation, with unimaginable
torment as the general lot, but, for all, a life of spiritual
development, of retribution, of restoration.

To the _Moral_ doctrine which, in our view, the Gospel conjoins with
this religious system, it is impossible for us at present to advert.
Suffice to say that, with Paul, we exclaim, "not _Law_, but
_Love_":--love to God, to Christ, not simply for what they have done
for us, but chiefly for what they are in themselves;--nothing like the
narrow-hearted gratitude for an exclusive salvation, but a _moral_
affection awakened by their holiness, rectitude, truth, and mercy,--by
the sublimity and spirituality of their designs, and the sanctity and
fidelity of their execution: love also to man, looking to him not
merely as a sentient being who is to be made _happy_, but as a child
of God, who is to be raised into some likeness to the Divine image; as
a brother spirit, noble in nature, even though sinful in fact,
glorious as an immortal in the eye of God, though disfigured by this
world's hardship or contempt.

Does any one ask, _where we get_ our system of faith and morals? What
are the principles of reasoning which we apply to nature and Scripture
to extract it thence? The reply would require a volume of exposition.
Suffice it to say, that we think we have full warrant for this belief
from the Scriptures of the New Testament, with which alone we conceive
that Christians have any practical concern; that, in interpreting these
Scriptures, we follow the same rules which we should apply to any other
books; that not even could their instructions make us false to that
sense of right and wrong which God has breathed into us; that if they
taught respecting him anything unjust or unholy, we should not accept
_it_, but reject _them_; and that, as to the points of faith on which we
have dwelt, some receive these truths because they were taught by
Christ; others receive Christ because he taught these truths.

On this faith we desire to take our stand, with the firmness, but
without the ferocity, of the first Reformers. Opposing churches tell
us, we "are so frigid"! Why, it is the very thing our own hearts had
often said to us; for there is nothing that so promptly rebukes the
coldness of our nature as the warmth of our faith. We do not, however,
much admire this mutual criticism of each other's temperature; and
strongly suspect the reality of that earnestness which prides itself
on its own intensity. We must not propose to assume any artificial
heats, in order to spite and disprove this frequent accusation; but be
resolved, in an age diseased with pretence, to remain realities, to
profess nothing which we do not believe, to withhold nothing whereon
we doubt, to affect nothing which we do not feel, to promise nothing
which we will not do; holding, with Paul, that simplicity and
sincerity are truly the godliest of things. With Heaven's good help,
may we bear our testimony thus; deeming it a small thing to be judged
by man's judgment; and, with such light and heat as God shall put into
our hearts, delivering over our portion of truth to generations that
will give it a more genial welcome. There is greatness in a faith,
when it can win a wide success or make rapid conquest over submissive
minds. There is a higher greatness in a faith that, when God ordains,
can stand up and do without success;--unmoved amid the pitiless storms
of a fanatic age; with foot upon the rock of its own fidelity, and
heart in the serene Infinite above the canopy of cloud and tempest.


[25] Perhaps we should rather say, "they cannot be alien to our
nature." The word _personality_ is used by philosophical writers to
denote that which is _peculiar_, as well as essential, to our
individual self. In this strict sense the moral and spiritual
affections are _impersonal_, according to the doctrine of the context,
which treats them as constituting a participation in the Divine
nature. The metaphysical reader will perhaps perceive here a
resemblance to the theory of Victor Cousin, who maintains that the
_will--the free and voluntary activity_--of the human being is the
specific faculty in which alone consists his _personality_; and that
the intuitive reason by which we have knowledge of the unlimited and
absolute Cause, as well as of ourselves and the universe as related
effects, is independent and impersonal,--a faculty not peculiar to the
subject, but "from the bosom of consciousness extending to the
Infinite, and reaching to the Being of beings." "Reason," observes
this philosopher, "is intimately connected with personality and
sensibility, but it is neither the one nor the other: and precisely
because it is neither the one nor the other, because it is in us
without being ourselves, does it reveal to us that which is not
ourselves,--objects beside the subject itself, and which lie beyond
its sphere." At the opposite pole to this doctrine, which makes the
perceptions of "Reason" a part of the activity of God, lies the system
of Kant and Fichte, which represents God as an ideal formation,--it
may be, therefore, a _fiction_,--arising from the activity of the
"Reason." This faculty is treated by these German philosophers as
merely _subjective and personal_; its perceptions, even when they seem
to go beyond itself, are known only as internal conditions and results
of self-activity; its beliefs, though inevitable to itself, are simply
relative, and have no objective validity. The faiths and affections
which this system regards as purely human, are considered by the other
as divine. The doctrine maintained above, though resembling that of
Kant in one or two of its phrases, far more nearly approaches that of
Cousin in its spirit. It is scarcely necessary to observe that, in
this note, the word "Reason" is used, not as equivalent to
"Understanding," but in the German sense so long rendered familiar to
the English reader by the writings of Mr. Coleridge. It includes,
therefore, (in its two senses of "_Speculative_" and "_Practical_,")
the "Moral Perceptions" and "Primitive Faiths of the Conscience,"
spoken of in the text.


    1. Ωριγενους Φιλοσοφουμενα η κατα πασων αιρεσεων ελεγχος.
    _Origenis Philosophumena sive omnium hæresium refutatio. E codice
    Parisino nunc primum edidit_ Emmanuel Miller. Oxonii: e
    Typographeo Academico. 1851.

    2. _Hippolytus and his Age; or the Doctrine and Practice of the
    Church of Rome under Commodus and Alexander Severus; and Ancient
    and Modern Christianity and Divinity compared._ By CHRISTIAN
    CHARLES JOSIAS BUNSEN, D.C.L. In Four Volumes. London. 1852.

When a stranger knocks at the gate of the Clarendon Printing-house,
and presents his petition for aid, the University of Oxford maintains
its national character for good-natured opulence,--gives its money and
signs its name, without very close inquiry into the case. The
documents are really so respectable that there cannot be much amiss;
and a venerable institution, well known to be fond of the house,
cannot be expected to go trudging through the back-lanes of history,
and exposing its nostrils in the purlieus of heresy, in order to
identify a literary petitioner, evidently above all common imposture.
So it supplies all his wants upon the spot, dresses him handsomely,
and sends him out into the world as its worthy (though eccentric)
friend, the catechist of Alexandria. The introduction, being left at
the Prussian Legation, falls into the hands of no stay-at-home
benefactor, but of one who knows the by-ways of human life, and has an
ear for the dialects of many a place. M. Bunsen--as Oxford might have
remembered--is not unacquainted with Egypt; and no sooner does he
raise his eyes from the credentials to the person of the stranger,
than he discovers him to be no disciple of the Alexandrine Clement;
recognizes the accent of the West; is reminded of the voice of
Irenæus; and, finally, being even more familiar with the Tiber than
the Nile, detects a Roman beneath the mask of Origen. We do not in the
least grudge the friend of Niebuhr the honor of a discovery which no
one could turn to more effectual account; but every English scholar
must feel mortified that the _Imprimatur_ of our great Ecclesiastical
University should appear on a title-page manifestly false; that the
first reader should see at a glance what the learned proprietors had
missed; and that their _Editio Princeps_ of a recovered monument of
Church antiquity should be superseded within a year or two of its
publication. They are not principals, it is true, but only secondaries
to the Editor, in the commission of this error: still, a lay
bibliographer might reasonably expect, in resorting for aid to so
renowned and reverend a body, that his own judgment would be kept in
check; and their very consent to issue the work implies _some_
critical opinion of its value, as derived from age and authorship.
Whether they are called upon to adopt at once M. Bunsen's proposed
title-page, and substitute the name of Hippolytus for that of Origen,
we will not say; but that the present title gives the book to the
wrong author, seems placed beyond the reach of doubt.

M. Emmanuel Miller, one of the curators of the National Library in
Paris, was the first to make himself acquainted with the contents of
this work, and to appreciate their importance. Among the manuscripts
under his care was one on cotton paper of the fourteenth century,
which had been brought from Mount Athos in 1842, by M. Mynoïdes Mynas,
a Greek agent employed by the French government to search the
neglected treasures of that celebrated spot. The superscription, "On
all Heresies," was not inviting; but on turning over the leaves, some
lines, unknown before, of Pindar and of another lyric poet, were found
and copied; and the value of these excerpts being ascertained, M.
Miller's attention was directed to the body of the treatise containing
them. The treatise had already been described, in the _Moniteur_ of
the 5th of January, 1844, as a Refutation of all Heresies, in ten
books, but with the first three missing, as well as the conclusion of
the whole; and he soon became aware, that, of the three missing books,
the first already existed, and had been printed under the name of
"Philosophumena," in the editions of Origen's works. Its very title is
found in the manuscript at the end of the fourth book, and denotes
that the portion of the work there concluded completes the sketch of
philosophical systems, which the author prefixes to his account of
ecclesiastical aberrations; and there are mutual references, backwards
and forwards, between the printed book and the manuscript, which leave
no doubt that the latter is a sequel to the former. The Editor,
therefore, has very properly reprinted the "Philosophumena" as the
commencement of the newly recovered work; which thus exhibits a
regular plan, and consists of two parts, viz.: first, four books,--of
which the second and third are lost,--expounding the Pagan
philosophies, especially the Greek, from which, the author contends,
the various heresies of Christendom are mere plagiarisms; then six
books, containing an account, in an order prevailingly historical, of
thirty or thirty-two heresies, supported by extracts from their
standard writings, and wound up in the recapitulary book at the end by
the writer's own profession of faith. Now who is the author?

Not Origen; for, as Huet had already remarked respecting the
"Philosophumena," the writer speaks of himself in terms implying an
episcopal position; and, in the ninth book, he gives an account of
transactions in Rome, extending over many years, in which he was
evidently an eyewitness and an actor. While the scene is thus laid at
a distance from Origen's sphere, and the date also of the personal
matter runs back into his boyhood, the cast of the theological
doctrine is wholly different from his; for instance, in a certain
"Treatise on the Universe," to which the author refers as his own, and
of which a fragment is preserved, the penal condition of the wicked
after death is said to be immutable;[26] but Origen, it is well known,
taught a doctrine of final restoration. Add to this, that no such work
as the present is attributed to Origen by any ancient witness, and the
case against his name may be regarded as complete.

The evidence which disappoints this claim narrows also our choice of
others. The personal transactions to which we have referred took place
at Rome, while Zephyrinus and his successor, Callistus, presided over
the Christian community there, that is, during the first twenty years
of the third century. We must, therefore, look for our author among
the metropolitan clergymen of that period. Still closer is the circle
drawn by the fact, that the writer largely borrows from the treatise
of Irenæus on the same subject; and, though vastly improving on that
foolish production, and copiously contributing fresh materials,
betrays the general affinity of thought which unites the stronger
disciple with the feebler master.

The problem then being to find a pupil of the Bishop of Lyons among
the ecclesiastics of Rome, at the beginning of the third century, two
names are given in as answering the conditions,--those of Hippolytus,
a suburban clergyman, and of Caius, whose charge lay within the city
itself. In order to vindicate the claim of the first, it has been
necessary for M. Bunsen to prove that his locality is right; and that
the "Portus Romæ," of which he was bishop, was not, as Le Moyne and
Cave had groundlessly supposed, the Arabian "Portus Romanus" of the
district of Aden, but the new harbor made, or at least enlarged, by
Trajan, on the northern bank of the Tiber, immediately opposite to
Ostia. That he suffered martyrdom there, and was buried in a cemetery
on the Tiburtine road, is generally admitted, on the evidence of
Prudentius, who has left a poem describing his memorial chapel on that
spot, and of a statue of him, seated in a cathedra, which was dug up
there three hundred years ago, and now stands in the library of the
Vatican. It is certainly perplexing to find Jerome avowing ignorance
of the see over which he presided, if, for a quarter of a century, he
was active at the centre of the Christian world; and not less so to
discover in Rome itself, nay, in a Pope, or his transcriber, at the
end of the fifth century, the impression that his scene of labor had
been in Arabia; and under the influence of these facts it has been
supposed that though, coming to Italy, he had fallen among the martyrs
of the West, he ought to be reckoned among the bishops of the East. On
the whole, however, the reasons preponderate in favor of his
residence, as "Episcopus Portuensis," within the presbytery of Rome.
The title itself is an old one, still always assigned to some
dignitary of the curia, and, no doubt, deriving its origin from the
time when the Northern Harbor of the Tiber--of which in the ninth
century, scarce a trace was left--was a flourishing emporium. The name
of Hippolytus is associated by tradition with the spot; it is given,
our author assures us, to a certain tower, near Fiumicino; and in the
eighth and ninth centuries, a basilica of St. Hippolytus was restored
at Portus by Leo III. and IV. An episcopal palace still remains. By
acute and skilful combinations, effected with evidence scanty as a
whole, and suspicious in every part, M. Bunsen has endeavored to
reproduce the historical image of Hippolytus. His office of "bishop"
implied simply the charge of the single congregation at Portus; the
members of that congregation were the "plebs" committed to his
supervision; the city or village in which they lived was his diocese.
His vicinity to the great capital drew him, however, into a wider
circle of duties. For while Rome itself was divided into several
ecclesiastical districts, each of which had its own clergyman and lay
deacons, the suburban bishops were associated with these officers to
form a committee of management, or presbytery, presided over by the
metropolitan. By his seat at this board, he was kept in living contact
with all the most stirring interests of Christendom, which, wherever
their origin might be, found their way to the imperial city, and more
and more sought their equilibrium there. At a commercial seaport, his
own congregation would largely consist of temporary settlers and
mercantile agents, Greek brokers, Jewish bankers, African importers,
to whom Italy was a lodging-house rather than a home; and by the
continual influx of foreigners he would hear tidings of the remotest
churches, and carry to the clerical meetings in the city the newest
gossip of all the heresies. Possibly this position, with its
opportunities of various intercourse, may have contributed to form in
him the agreeable address, and faculty of eloquent speech, which
tradition ascribes to him; and induced him to commence the practice of
writing with studious care the homilies which were to be delivered in
the congregation. At all events he is the first of whom we distinctly
hear as a great preacher. His period extends, it is supposed, from the
reign of Commodus (180-193) to the first year of Maximin (235-6); and
so brought him into the same presbytery-room with five popes,--Victor
(187-198); Zephyrinus (201-218); Callistus (219-222); Urbanus
(223-230); and Pontianus (230-235); with the last of whom he shared,
in the last year of his life, a cruel exile to Sardinia, and returned
only to fall a victim to fresh informations, and suffer martyrdom by
drowning in a canal. It cannot be denied that, in order to recover
this picture of Hippolytus, and still more in order to fix his
literary position, the materials of evidence have to be dealt with in
somewhat arbitrary fashion, and their _lacunæ_ to be filled by
conjecture. Prudentius, for instance, is called as an historical
witness, yet convicted of fable in much of what he says. His poem
declares that at one time Hippolytus had supported Novatus in his
attempt to close the gates of repentance against the _Lapsi_, but had
been reconciled to the catholic doctrine before he died. He must in
this case have joined in the opposition raised by Novatianus (in 251)
to the election of Cornelius to the papacy, and have died in the
Decian persecution, which continued till the year 257. Moreover, the
painting seen by the Spanish versifier on the walls of the memorial
chapel introduces us to so ridiculous a story, as only to show how
completely the martyrological legends had already escaped all the
restraints of history. In this fresco the mythical fate of Hippolytus,
the son of Theseus, is transferred to the Roman presbyter: he is
represented as torn to pieces by horses; while the faithful follow to
pick up his limbs and hair, and sponge away the blood upon the ground.
If the sanctuary exhibiting this scene received the martyr's remains
from their original resting-place as early as the time of
Constantine,--and such is our author's opinion,--into what a state of
degradation had the history of Hippolytus sunk in three quarters of a
century! And if already memorial painting could thus impudently lie,
how can we better trust the statue, admitted to be later still? Yet
this statue, on whose side is a list of the writings of Hippolytus, is
appealed to in determining the martyr's written productions, as the
painted chapel in evidence of facts in his personal career. We fully
admit the success of M. Bunsen in eliciting a possible result from a
mass of intricate and tangled conditions, and presenting us with a
highly interesting personage. But perhaps, as the venerable image of
the good bishop has grown in clearness before his eye, and attracted
his affection more and more, the very vividness of the conception may
have rendered him insensible to the precariousness of the proof.
Ecclesiastical fancy, in its unrestrained career, has torn his
personality to pieces, and left the _disjecta membra_ so rudely
scattered on the strand of history, that we almost doubt the power of
any critical Æsculapius to restore him to the world again.

At the same board of church councillors with Hippolytus sat another
λογιωτατος ανηρ,[27] the presbyter Caius; and as an urban clergyman, he
would be more constantly there than his suburban brother, separated by a
distance of eighteen miles. To form any living image of him from the
scanty notices of him which begin with Eusebius and end with Photius, is
quite impossible. In one respect only do the personal characteristics
attributed to him distinguish him from the bishop of Portus. He was a
strenuous opponent of the peculiarities favored by the Christians of
Lesser Asia, and especially of the claims to prophetic gifts, and the
appeal to clairvoyant skill, by Montanus and his followers. With one of
these, by name Proclus, he held a disputation; from which Eusebius has
preserved a passage or two, showing, in conjunction with the title, not
very intelligibly assigned to him, of "Bishop of the Gentiles," that he
belonged to the most advanced anti-Jewish party in the Church, lamented
the grossness of the popular millenarian dreams, vindicated the
apostolic dignity of the Roman against the pretensions of the Eastern
Christianity, and disowned the Epistle to the Hebrews. This feature in
the figure of Caius, though constituting the distinction, does not,
however, necessarily _oppose_ him to Hippolytus, whose attitude towards
the Montanists may not have been very different, but only less
positively marked. Still the suspicions directed against the two men are
of an opposite kind: with Hippolytus, the difficulty is to set him clear
of sympathy with Montanism;[28] with Caius, to prevent his being classed
with its unmeasured opponents, the Alogi.[29] And a report even reaches
us, that among the Chaldean Christians there exists, or did exist in the
fourteenth century, a controversial treatise of Hippolytus against

Between these two men, so similar in position, and not, perhaps, unused
to sharp argument face to face, springs up, at the end of all these
ages, a rival claim to property in the "Refutation of all the Heresies."
The chief counsel for Hippolytus, besides our author, are the eminent
Professors Jacobi, Duncker, and Schneidewin,--all, we believe, belonging
to the Neander school of theology; and as the last two are about to edit
the work anew, and probably to give it its final form, their opinion of
its authorship may be expected to prevail. The other side, however,
advocated by Dr. Fessler, is sustained by perhaps the greatest of living
historical critics, F. C. Baur, representative of the much-abused
Tübingen school. Into so intricate a question we might be excused for
inviting our readers, had we anything fresh to offer towards its
solution; but the chief impression we have brought from its study is one
of astonishment at the extreme positiveness with which the learned men
on either side affirm their own conclusion. A more equal balance of
evidence we never remember to have met with in any similar research; and
the faint and slender preponderance which alone the scale can ever
exhibit, amusingly contrasts with the triumphant assertion, of both sets
of disputants, that not a reasonable doubt remains. The leading points
of M. Bunsen's case are these. A work "On all Heresies" is attributed to
Hippolytus, and in no instance to Caius, by Eusebius, Jerome,
Epiphanius, and Peter of Alexandria, at the beginning of the fourth
century. Such a book was still extant in the ninth century; for Photius,
the celebrated patriarch of Constantinople, has given us an account of
its contents in the journal and epitome of his studies which he has left
us. On comparing his report with the newly discovered book, the identity
of the two works is established in some important respects: the _number_
and _concluding term_ of the series of heresies are the same; they both
of them include materials taken from Irenæus, while reversing his order
of treatment. Further, in the newly found treatise reference is made by
the author to other works of his, in which he has discussed certain
points of early Hebrew chronology in proving the antiquity of the
Abrahamic race. Now, Eusebius was acquainted with a certain "Chronicle"
of Hippolytus, brought down to the first year of Alexander Severus; and
such a chronicle, in a Latin translation, is found in Fabricius's
edition of Hippolytus, only that its list of Roman emperors terminates,
not with the beginning, but with the end, of Severus's reign. It has,
however, in common with our work, a peculiar number of tribes,--viz.
seventy-two, derived from Noah. Thus, the author of the "Heresies" and
of the "Chronicle" would appear to be the same, and, according to
Eusebius, to be Hippolytus. Lastly, both in our new work, and also in a
book called the "Labyrinth," written against some Unitarians of the
second century, reference is made to a treatise "On the Universe," which
the author mentions as his own production. By printing a fragment of
this last in his edition of "Hippolytus," Fabricius has shown to what
name all three should, in his judgment, be set down; and that they
cannot be given to Caius is rendered evident by the occurrence, in the
fragment, of certain Apocalyptic fictions inconsistent with his
rejection of the Book of Revelations. Moreover, the list of works on the
statue of Hippolytus includes a disquisition "Against the Greeks and
against Plato, or _Respecting the Universe_."

What can be said to weaken so strong a case? Two doubts at once arise
upon it, which we find it by no means easy to set aside. Granted,
Hippolytus wrote a book "On all Heresies"; is it the same which is now
delivered into our hands? One medium of comparison we possess,
enabling us to place the original and the present book, for a short
space, side by side. The very Peter of Alexandria who is one of the
early witnesses called on Hippolytus's behalf has handed down to us a
passage or two (preserved in the Paschal Chronicle) from the book
which he attests, with a distinct reference to the place where they
are to be found. We turn to the right chapter, and the passages are
_not there_. Nor is it a mere want of verbal agreement which we have
to regret; the same topic--the controversy about the time of
Easter--is treated; the same side--that of the Western Church--is
taken, in both instances; but the arguments are different, and so far
irreconcilable, that no one who had command of that which Peter gives
would ever resort to the feebler one which our work contains. With the
dauntless ingenuity of German criticism M. Bunsen makes a virtue of
necessity, and endeavors to convert this unfortunate discrepancy into
a fresh proof of identity. He thinks that, in this and some other
parts, our work is but a clumsy abstract of Hippolytus's original,
which the citations of Peter enable us to recover and complete. This,
however, is a plea which, it strikes us, damages his case as much by
success as it could by failure. For if the book presented to us by the
Clarendon Press reflects the original no better than would appear from
this only sample which it is in our power to test, it may indeed be a
degenerate descendant from the pen of Hippolytus; but all reliable
identity is lost, and the traces of his hand are no longer
recoverable. The second doubt is this:--Is the work which Photius read
the same that has now been rescued? Of the few descriptive marks
supplied by the patriarch, there are as many absent from our work as
present in it. The treatise which he read was a "_little book_" or
"_tract_," as Lardner calls it (βιβλιδαριον), a word which can
scarcely apply to a volume extending (as ours would, if complete) to
four hundred and twenty octavo pages. M. Bunsen cuts down this number
to two hundred and fifty, by supposing Photius to have only the last
six books, containing the historical survey, without the groundwork of
the philosophical deduction, of the heresies. The curtailment, if
conceded, seems scarcely adequate to its purpose, and appears to us a
very questionable conjecture. The manuscript, stripped of the first
four books, would want the very basis of the whole argument; and, if
such a mutilation were conceivable, it is impossible that Photius
should fail to observe and mention it; for the fifth book opens, not
like an independent treatise, but with a summary statement of what has
been accomplished "_in the four books preceding this_." Again, Photius
mentions the _Dositheans_ as the first set of heretics discussed;
whereas their name does not occur at all, if we remember right, in our
work, and their place is occupied by the "Ophites." M. Bunsen treats
this as a mere inaccuracy of expression on the part of Photius, who
meant, by the name "Dositheans," to indicate the same "earliest
Judaizing schools" that are better described as "Ophites." The name,
however, is so unsuitable to this purpose, that it would be a strange
wilfulness in the learned patriarch to substitute it for the language
of the author he describes. He could not be ignorant that Dositheus,
Simon, Menander, were the three founders of the Samaritan sect,
exponents of the same doctrine, if not even reputed _avatars_ of the
same divine essence;[31] and if he had applied the name _Dositheans_
to any of the heretics enumerated in our work, it would assuredly have
been to the _followers of Simon_, who stand _fourth_ in the series of
thirty-two, and not to Phrygian serpent-worshippers, who commence the
list. Further, the author whom Photius read stated that his book was a
synopsis of the Lectures of Irenæus. In our work no such statement
occurs; and the use made of Irenæus does not agree, either in quantity
or character, with the substance of the assertion. And, lastly, the
patriarch's Hippolytus said "some things which are not quite correct;
for instance, that the Epistle to the Hebrews is not by the Apostle
Paul." In our work there is no such assertion; and when M. Bunsen
suggests that perhaps its place might be in the lost books, he forgets
that, according to his own conjecture, these books were no more in
Photius's hands than in ours, and that he cannot first cut them off in
order to make a βιβλιδαριον, and then restore them, to provide a locus
for a missing criticism on the Epistle to the Hebrews. The identity of
our "Philosophumena" with the treatise which Photius read and
Hippolytus wrote, appears, therefore, to be extremely problematical.

One fixed point, however, is gained in the course of the argument, and
gives an acknowledged position from which the opposite opinions are
willing to set out. Whoever wrote the disquisition "On the Universe"
wrote also our work. This fact rests on the assertion of the author
himself; yet, if the author be Hippolytus, and our "Philosophumena" be
his "Refutation of all Heresies," it is strange that no list of his
writings mentions _both_ books: the catalogues of Eusebius and Jerome
naming the "Heresies" without the essay "On the Universe"; and the
engraving on the statue giving the essay "On the Universe" without the
"Heresies." How can we explain it, that these ecclesiastical writers, in
knowing our work, did not know what is contained in it about the
authorship of the other book; and that this book should have wandered
_anonymously_ about down to the ninth century, side by side with an
acknowledged writing of Hippolytus, which all the while was proclaiming
the solution of the question? We should certainly expect that the book
of avowed authorship would convey the name of Hippolytus to the
companion production for which it claims the same paternity; but,
instead of this, it not only leaves its associate anonymous for six
hundred years, but afterward assumes the modest fit, and becomes
anonymous itself. Even if no previous reader had sense enough to put the
two things together, and pick out the testimony of the one book to the
origin of the other, are we to charge the same stupidity on the erudite
Photius, who had both books in his hand, and has given his report of
both? In his account of Hippolytus's treatise, he nowhere tells us that
it contains a reference to the essay "On the Universe," as being from
the same pen; and that he found no such reference is certain; for he
actually discusses the question, "Who wrote the essay on the Universe?"
without ever mentioning Hippolytus at all. Just such a reference,
however, as he did _not_ find in Hippolytus, he _did_ find in _another_
work, of which he speaks under the title of "The Labyrinth"; and,
strange to say, it was at the _end_ of the work,[32] precisely where it
stands in our "Philosophumena." Who can resist the suspicion, that the
anonymous "Labyrinth" of Photius is no other than our anonymous
"Philosophumena"? This conviction forced itself upon us on first
weighing the evidence collected by M. Bunsen, in support of his
different conclusion; and we observe that it is the opinion sustained by
the great authority of Baur,[33] who even finds a trace in our work of
the very _title_ given by Photius; the writer observing, at the
beginning of the tenth book, "The _Labyrinth of Heresies_ we have not
broken through by violence, but have resolved by refutation alone with
the force of truth; and now we come to the positive exposition of the
truth." At all events, the difference of title in the case of a work
having probably more names than one, is of no weight in disproof of
identity. With this new designation in our possession, we may return to
search for our book in the records of ecclesiastical antiquity; and we
have not far to go, before we alight on traces affording hopes of a
result. No "Labyrinth," indeed, turns up in the literary history of
earlier centuries than Photius; but a "_Little_ Labyrinth" is mentioned
by Theodoret,[34] as sometimes ascribed to Origen, but as evidently not
his; and from his account of it, confirmed by the matter which he
borrows from it, we learn that it was a controversial book, against a
set of Unitarians in Rome, followers of Theodotus. It so happens that
the very passage from this tract which Theodoret has used appears also,
with others from the same source, in Eusebius, only quoted under another
title,--the book being called a "Work against the Heresy of Artemon"
(who was another teacher of the same school in the same age). The
extracts thus preserved to us are not found in our work; which,
therefore, if it be the "Labyrinth," is a distinct production from the
"Little Labyrinth"; but they are so manifestly from the same pen,
occupied in the same task, as to render it perfectly conceivable that
the two books might receive the same name, with only a diminutive
epithet to distinguish the lesser from the greater. Nor are we left, as
Baur has shown, without a distinct assertion by our "great unknown,"
that he had already composed a smaller treatise on the same subject;
for, in the introduction to the "Philosophumena," he says of the
heretics, "We have before given a brief exposition of their opinions,
refuting them in the gross, without presenting them in detail." This
shorter work would naturally treat of the particular forms of error most
immediately present and mischievous before the author's eyes; and if he
dwelt especially on the doctrines of Theodotus and Artemon, it is just
what we should expect from an orthodox Roman. This essay, on a limited
range of heresy, would naturally be issued at first with the special
title by which Eusebius refers to it. But if it led the author to
execute afterwards a much enlarged design, to which, from its intricate
extent, he gave, on its completion, the fanciful designation of "The
Labyrinth," he might naturally carry the name back to the earlier
production, and, to mark the relation between the two, issue this in
future as "The Little Labyrinth." Photius speaks of the tract against
the heresy of Artemon as a separate work from "The Labyrinth,"[35] and
says the same thing of the latter[36] that Theodoret had remarked of the
former, that by some it was ascribed to Origen. The result to which we
are thus led is the following. Our newly found work is not Hippolytus's
βιβλιδαριον "On all Heresies," but the book known to Photius as "The
Labyrinth"; the author of which had previously produced two other works,
viz. "The Little Labyrinth" mentioned by Theodoret, and quoted under
another name by Eusebius, and the "Treatise on the Universe," whose
contents Photius reports. Whatever, therefore, fixes the authorship of
any of these, fixes the authorship of all.

Notwithstanding, however, our threefold chance, we have only a
solitary evidence on this point. Attached to Photius's copy of the
"Treatise on the Universe" was a note, to the effect that the book was
not (as had been imagined) by Josephus, but by Caius, the Roman
presbyter, who also composed the "Labyrinth."[37] In the absence of
other external testimony, this judgment appears entitled to stand,
unless the books themselves disclose some features at variance with
the known character of Caius.

But, it is said, such variance we do actually find. For while our work
expressly appeals to the Apocalypse as the production of John, we know
from Eusebius that Caius ascribed it to Cerinthus, and, in opposing
himself to Montanism, rejected the millenarian doctrine which is taught
in the Revelations. This argument, we admit, would be decisive if its
allegations were indisputable. It is curious, however, that the one
_locus classicus_,[38] from which is inferred the presbyter's
repudiation of the Apocalypse, is confessedly ambiguous; and the charge
it prefers against Cerinthus may amount to either of these two
propositions; that he had composed the Book of Revelations and palmed it
on the world as the production of the Apostle John; or, that he had
given himself the air of a great Apostle, and published accordingly some
revelations affecting to be imparted, like those of John, by angels.
According to this last interpretation, the work of Cerinthus would be a
book distinct from our Apocalypse, written in imitation of it, and
seeking to share its authority. The contents of the production are
briefly described by Caius; but they present such a mixture of agreement
and disagreement with our canonical book, as to leave the ambiguity
unresolved. They affirm, that after the resurrection will follow an
earthly kingdom of Christ, in which the lower nature of man will, in
Jerusalem, be again in servitude to passion and pleasure; and that the
number of a thousand years are to be spent in the indulgence of sense.
So far as the _place_ and the _duration_ of the kingdom are concerned,
our Apocalypse might here be referred to; but it has nothing answering
to the description of a gross and luxurious millennium. Taking the
passage in conjunction with the similar statement of Theodoret, that
"Cerinthus invented certain revelations, pretending that they were given
in vision to himself," we think it unlikely that our Apocalypse can be
meant; and conceive the indictment to be, that Cerinthus had put forth a
set of apocryphal visions, in which he abused the style and corrupted
the teachings of a great Apostle to the purposes of a sensual
fanaticism. This is a charge which Caius might bring, in consistency
with the fullest acceptance of the Apocalypse as authentic and true. It
was not the doctrine of a reign of Christ on earth, not the millenarian
period assigned to it, to which he objected in Cerinthus; but the coarse
and demoralizing picture given of its employments and delights. In
proportion to his respect for the real Apocalypse and its teachings,
would he be likely to resent such a miserable parody on its lofty
theocratic visions. His opposition to the Montanists in no way pledged
him to renounce the eschatological expectations which they were
distinguished from other Christians not by entertaining, but by
exaggerating. If our work, in its notice of their heresy, passes by in
silence this particular element of the system, and treats their claim to
special gifts of prophecy with less contemptuous emphasis than might be
looked for in the antagonist of Proclus, there is nothing that ought
really to surprise us in this. It does not follow that, because in our
scanty knowledge we have only one idea about an historical personage,
the man himself never had another. Caius did not live in a perpetual
platform disputation with Proclus; and either before that controversy
had waked him up, or after it was well got over, he might naturally
enough dismiss the Montanists with very cursory notice; in the one case,
because they had not yet adequately provoked his antipathy; in the
other, because they had already had enough of it.[39]

Nothing therefore presents itself in our work which should deter us from
attributing it to Caius; and the more we ponder the evidence, the more
do we incline to believe it his. This result is to us an unwelcome one;
both because we know how strong the presumption must be against a
critical judgment condemned by the masterly genius of M. Bunsen, and
because he has really made us in love with his ecclesiastical hero,--has
put such an innocent and venerable life into that old effigy, that after
wandering with him about the quays of Portus, and entering with
listening fancy into the Basilica[40] where he preached, it is hard to
return him into stone, and think of him only as a dead bishop who made a
bad almanac. Should our readers have contracted no such ideal
attachment, we fear that this discussion of authorship may appear as
trivial as it is tedious. Somebody wrote the "Philosophumena," and
whether we call him Hippolytus or Caius, whether we lodge him on the
Tiber within sight of the _Pharos_, or of the _Milliarium Aureum_, may
seem a thing indifferent, so long as the elements of the personal image
do not materially change. This utilitarian impression is by no means
just, and indeed is at variance with all true historical feeling. But it
is time that we should give it its fair rights, and turn from the name
upon our new book to its substances and significance.

Many sensible persons are at a loss, we believe, to understand why this
refutation of thirty-two extinct heresies should be regarded with so
much interest. Is it so well done, then? they ask. Far from it: better
books are brought out every year; and such a controversial argument
offered in manuscript to Mr. Longman or Mr. Parker to-morrow, would
hardly be deemed worth the cost of printing. Does it add materially to
our knowledge of the early heresies? Something of this kind it certainly
contributes; but the gain is not large, and will make no essential
change in the conclusions of any competent historical inquirer. Is any
light thrown by it on the authenticity of our canonical books? This can
hardly be expected from a production of the third century; and M.
Bunsen's application of it to this purpose appears to us, for reasons
which we shall assign, extremely precarious. Perhaps it supplies the
want which every student of that period must have felt, and organically
joins ecclesiastical to civil history, so that they no longer remain
apart,--the one as the stage for saints and martyrs, bishops and books,
the other for soldiers and senators, emperors and paramours,--but mingle
in the common life of humanity. When we think how the author was placed,
it is impossible not to go to him with an eager hope of this nature. He
lived at the centre of the vast Roman world, and felt all the pulsations
and paroxysms of that mighty heart. He witnessed the ominous decline of
every traditional maxim and national reverence in favor of imported
superstitions and degenerate barbarities. Under Commodus he saw the
ancient Mars superseded by the Grecian Hercules, and Hercules
represented by an emperor who sunk into a prize-fighter, and the
administration of the empire in the wanton hands of a Phrygian slave,
who was only less brutal than his master. In the midst of pestilence,
which had become chronic in Italy from the time of M. Antoninus, and of
which a Christian bishop could not but know more than others, the city
was still adding to its semblance of splendor and salubrity; and the
magnificent baths and grounds that were opened to the public service at
the Porta Capena, with the multiplied festivities and donatives,
attested how little mere physical attention to the people can arrest the
miseries of a moral degradation. Nor could the Christians of that age be
wholly without insight into the habits of the highest class in Rome,
for, in that great _colluvies_ of heterogeneous faiths, the caprice of
taste, if not some better impulse, determined now and then an inmate of
the palace to favor the religion of Christ; and the favorite mistress of
Commodus, who ruled him while she could, and then had him drugged and
strangled in his sleep, is the very Marcia whom our presbyter describes
as φιλοθεος and at whose intervention the Christian exiles were released
from their banishment in Sardinia. If he was at home when the excellent
Pertinax was murdered, and cared to know what tyrant was to have the
world instead, he was perhaps in the throng that ran to the Quirinal,
and heard the Prætorians shout from their ramparts that the empire was
for sale, and saw the bargain with the foolish senator below, who bought
it with his money, and paid for it with his head. Caius and his people
had reason to tremble when they saw in Septimius Severus not only the
implacable conqueror who suffered no political opponent to live, but the
worshipper of demons, the gloomy and fitful devotee of astrology and
magic, pliant only to sacerdotal hate; and when the young Origen came to
be their guest awhile, and told of the terror in Alexandria which had
joined his father to the band of martyrs, the post that just then
brought the news of the Emperor's death in Britain would seem to take
off a weight of fear; especially as one son at least of the two
inheritors of the empire had in childhood been committed to a Christian
nurse, and been said to shrink and turn away from the savage spectacles
of the amphitheatre. They were doomed to be disappointed, if they had
placed any hope in Caracalla, and to find that what they had taken in
the boy for the nobleness of grace, was but the timidity of nature; the
murder, before his mother's face, of his only brother, and then of his
best counsellor, for refusing to justify the fratricide, would soon make
them ashamed of remembering that he had ever heard the name of Christ.
It would be curious to know how the Christians comported themselves when
the Priest of the Sun became monarch of the world, and seemed intent on
dethroning every divinity to enrich the homage to his own. The grand
temple on the Palatine, which he built for the god of Emesa, every
passer-by must have seen as it rose from its foundations. And when the
black stone was paraded on its chariot through the streets, and the
elder deities were compelled to leave their shrines and attend in escort
to the Eastern idol, or when the nuptials were celebrated between the
Syrian divinity and the goddess of Carthage, and Baal-peor and Astarte
succeeded to the honors of Jove, no Christian presbyter could fail to
witness the gorgeous and humiliating procession,--renewed as it was year
by year,--or to ask himself into what deeper abomination the city of
the Scipios must sink, ere the catastrophe of judgment made a sudden
end. The orgies of Helagabalus were more insulting to the elder Paganism
of Rome than injurious to the new faith, which equally detested both;
and the offended moral feeling of the city reacted perhaps in favor of
the Christian cause, and prepared the way for that more public teaching
of the religion, in buildings avowedly dedicated to the purpose, which
was first permitted in the succeeding reign. The natural recoil in the
imperial family itself from the degradation of the court tended,
perhaps, in the same direction, and drove the astute Mamæa to seek, amid
the universal corruption, for some school of discipline which might save
the young Alexander Severus from the ignominy of her sister's son.
Whether from this motive, or from suspicion of the growing force of
Christianity as a social power, she had sent for Origen, and had an
interview with him at Antioch; and the Roman disciples had reason to
rejoice that her intellectual impressions of their system should have
been derived from such a man, and her political estimate of it formed in
the East, where the crisis of conflict between the dying and the living
faiths was more advanced than in the West, and afforded a less disguised
augury of the result. From their fellow-believers trading with the
Levant, or arriving thence, the pastors of the metropolis would learn
the propitious temper of the young Cæsar and his mother; and would feel
no surprise, when he succeeded to the palace of his cousin, that he not
only swept out the ministers of lust and luxury, but in his private
oratory enshrined, among the busts of Pagan benefactors, the images also
of Abraham and of Christ. They could not, however, but observe how
little the morals of the court and the wisdom of the government could
now avail to arrest the progress of decay, and reach in detail the vices
and miseries of a degenerate state. When they passed the door of the
palace, they heard the public crier's voice proclaim, "Let only purity
and innocence enter here"; they visited a Christian tradesman in a
neighboring street, and found him just seized by a nobleman whom he had
dunned for an outstanding debt, charged with magic or poisoning, doomed
to pine in prison till he gave release, and no redress or justice to be
had. The Emperor who, gazing in his chapel on the features of Christ,
recognized a religion human and universal, was the first under whom a
visible badge was put upon the slave, and a distinctive servile dress
adopted; the slave markets were still in consecrated spots, the temple
of Castor and the Via Sacra; and if ever some captive Onesimus,
recommended by letters from the East to the brethren in Rome, was
brought to the metropolis for sale, thither must the deacon or the
pastor go to find how the auction disposes of their charge, and learn
_which_ among the chalked feet it is that are "shod with the preparation
of the Gospel of peace." The commonwealth had never boasted of so many
great jurists as in the age of Papinian and Paulus; but as the science
of Law was perfected, the power of Law declined; and Alexander Severus,
the justest of emperors, was unable to protect Ulpian, the greatest of
civilians, from military assassination in the palace itself, or to
punish the perpetrators of this outrage on popular feeling as well as
public right. The three days' tumult, in which this master of
jurisprudence fell the victim of Prætorian licentiousness, our presbyter
Caius must have witnessed; and countless other momentous scenes, during
a generation painfully affluent in vicissitude, must have passed before
his eyes; and had he but known of what value his reports would be to
this age of ours, he would have said more of the life he saw, and less
of the speculations he denounced. To us it would have been worth
anything to know just what was too close to him to catch his eye;--how
the Christians lived in such a world; what thoughts stirred in them as
they walked the streets and heard the news; what happened and was said
when they met together, and how this could adjust itself with the real
facts of an inconsistent and tyrannical present; and how, as the
corrupted State became ever more incapable of vindicating moral ends,
the rising Church undertook the secret governance of life, and
penetrated with its authority into recesses beyond the reach, not of the
arm of administration only, but of the definitions of the widest code.
But in this respect also our author fails to realize our hopes. He gives
us a book of fancies rather than of facts, and instead of painting
existence, which is transient, and must be caught as it flies, occupies
himself in describing nonsense, which is always to be had. The
enormities of Helagabalus, though staring him in the face, are nothing
to him in comparison with heresy in Lesser Asia, which keeps Easter on a
wrong day. He is shut up within the interior circle of the community of
believers, and gives but a single glimpse beyond; and builds for us no
bridge to abolish the mysterious separation of ecclesiastical and ideal
from civil and real existence in the early ages of our faith. He is not
peculiar in this defect. We all of us live in the midst of history
without knowing it, and ourselves _make_ history without feeling it; and
that which will most clearly paint us in the thought of other times,
which will seem our _power_ to them, our romance and nobleness, with
which, therefore, they will most crave to satiate their eye, is
precisely what is least consciously present to us,--the natural spirit
and daily spring of our common being, through which not the will of man,
but the providence of God, works its appointed ends. At all events, the
insight which we should be best pleased to gain into the life of the
third century is not given even incidentally, except in the scantiest
measure, by the "Philosophumena," which we must rank, in this respect,
below the Apologies, and with the writings of Irenæus and Epiphanius.
The book is dogmatic and controversial, and the interest attached to it
arises entirely from its being a _register of opinion_, a new witness to
the thoughts about divine things, which the Christianity of its period
owned and disowned. For those who care at all to know the state of
belief a century before the Council of Nice, the work possesses a high
value. But the worth of this sort of information is itself a thing
disputed, at least its _religious_ worth; and will be very differently
estimated, according to the preconception which occupies us as to the
nature of Divine Revelation, and the sources open to us for the
attainment of sacred truth. Here it is that we find M. Bunsen's great
and peculiar strength. His religious philosophy, taken by itself, brings
us occasionally to a pause of doubt. His historical criticism is not
always convincing. But his doctrine of the _relation between_ religion
and history, of the mingling of divine and human elements in the theatre
of time, and of the special agency of Christianity in the spiritual
education of mankind, appears to us profoundly true and beautiful. This
it is that makes him attach so much importance to the creed of the
second and third centuries, and to the new light now thrown upon it; an
importance which, from every ordinary point of view, can scarcely fail
to appear fanciful and exaggerated.

The Roman Catholic, for instance, entertains a conception about what
sacred truth is, and how it is to be had, which, leaving nothing to
depend on new discoveries, discharges all the richest interest from
any fresh knowledge we may gain of religion in the past. With him
divine truth, so far as it is special to Christendom, is something
wholly foreign to the human mind, intrinsically unrelated to any
faculty we have. In being supernatural, it belongs to another sphere
than that to which our thought is restricted, and is totally withdrawn
from all the movements of our nature. It consists, indeed, in a set of
objective facts from which we are absent, and which no ratiocination
of ours can seize, any more than our ear can tell whether there be
music on Saturn's ring. There is no human consciousness answering to
it; and to resort thither for it is like asking the dreamer or the
blindfold to describe the scene in which he stands, or consulting your
own feelings to learn what is going on in Pekin or Japan. On this
theory, the objects of faith are conceived of as objects of
_perception_, only by senses otherwise constituted than ours; we can
have no surmise about them, till they are announced to us by qualified
percipients, and no comprehension of them even then, but only
reception of them as facts imported for us from abroad. The bearing of
this doctrine of invisible realism on the treatment of ecclesiastical
history is manifest. The inaccessible facts are deposited with the
sacerdotal corporation; with whom alone is vested the duty and the
power of stating and defining them. They are not indeed all stated and
defined in their last amplitude at once; for definition is always an
enclosure of the true by exclusion of the false; and it is only in
proportion as the dreaming perversity of men throws forth one delusive
fancy after another, that the Church draws line after line to shut the
intrusion out. If the creeds seem to enlarge as the centuries pass, it
is not that they have more truth to give, but only more error to
remove. The divine facts were conceived aright and conceived complete
in the minds of Apostles and Evangelists, but they were not
contemplated then as _against_ the follies and contradictions opposed
to them in later times; but as soon as the hour came for this
antagonism to be felt, the infallible perception secured in perpetuity
to the living hierarchy supplied the due verdict of rejection. To the
Catholic, therefore, Christianity was made up and finished, its
treasury was full, in the first generation; its power of development
is only the refusal of deviation; and its intellectual life is tame as
the story of some perfect hero, who does nothing but stand still and
repel temptations. The history of doctrines thus becomes a history of
heresies; the primitive stock of tradition and Scripture must, on the
one hand, be maintained entire in the face of all possible exposures
by critical research; and, on the other, remain in eternal barrenness
and produce no more. Natural knowledge, whether of the world or of
humanity, may grow continually, but the new thoughts it may lead us to
entertain of God are either _not_ new, or not true; and every
pretended enrichment of truth is nothing but evolution of falsehood.
This removal of all variety from religion, this expulsion of life and
change into the negative region of aberration and denial, eviscerates
the past of its devout interest, rests the study of it on contempt
instead of reverence for man; with all its pious air, it simply
betrays history with a kiss, and delivers it over for scribes to
buffet and chief priests to crucify. Short work is made in this way of
any fresh witness, like the author of our book, who turns up
unexpectedly from an early age. Does he speak in agreement with the
hierarchical standards? He only flings another voice into the
_consensus_ of obedient believers. Does he say anything at variance
with the _regula fidei_? Then have we only to see in what class of
heretics he stands. His testimony is either superfluous or misleading.

The Protestant, of the approved English type, arrives, under guidance
of a different thought, at the same flat and indifferent result.
Though he gives a more subjective character to divine truth than the
Roman Catholic, and brings both the want and the supply of it more
within the attestation of consciousness, he puts its discovery equally
beyond the reach of our ruined faculties, and equally cuts it off from
all relation to philosophy and the natural living exercise of reason
and conscience. He further agrees that his foreign gift of revelation
was imported all at once, and all complete, into our world, within the
Apostolic age; that the conceptions of that time are an authoritative
rule for all succeeding centuries; and that every newer doctrine is to
be regarded as a false accretion, to be flung off into the incompetent
and barren spaces of human speculation. He denies, however, the
twofold vehicle of this precious gift; and, cancelling altogether the
oral tradition and indeterminate Christian consciousness of the early
Church, shuts up the whole contents of religion within the canonical
Scriptures. The guardianship of unwritten tradition being abolished,
and the canon requiring no guardianship at all, the trust deposited
with the hierarchy disappears; and no permanent inspiration, no
authoritative judicial function, in matters of faith, remains.
Whatever Holy Spirit continues in the Church is not a progressively
teaching spirit, which can ever impart thoughts or experiences unknown
to the first believers; but a personally comforting and animating
spirit, whose highest climax of enlightenment is the exact
reproduction of the primitive state of mind. The apprehension of
Divine truth is thus reduced to an affair of verbal interpretation of
documents; and though in this process there is room for the largest
play of subjective feeling, so that different minds, different
nations, different ages, will unconsciously evolve very various
results; these are not to be regarded as possible Divine enrichments
of the faith, but to be brought rigidly to the standard of the
earliest Church, and disowned wherever they include what was absent
there. This view is less mischievous than the Roman Catholic, only
because it is more inconsequent and confused. The canon which you take
as sacred was selected and set in authority by the unwritten
consciousness and tradition which you reject as profane. The Church
existed before its records; expressed its life in ways spreading
indefinitely beyond them; and neither was exempt from human elements
till they were finished, nor lost the Divine spirit when they were
done. So arbitrary a doctrine corrupts the beauty of Scripture, and
deadens the noblest interest of history. If the New Testament is to
serve as an infallible standard, it is thus committed to perfect unity
and self-consistency; and you are obliged to contend that the various
types of doctrine found within its compass--the Messianic conceptions
of Matthew and John, the "Faith" of Paul and James, the eucharistic
conceptions of the first Evangelists and the last, the eschatology of
the Apocalypse and the Epistles--are only different sides of one and
the same belief, colored with the tints and shadings of several minds.
How utterly inadequate such an hypothesis is to the explanation of the
Scriptural phenomena, what a distorted and absurd representation it
gives of the sacred writers, and their mode of thought, is best known
to those who have honestly tried to deal with the fourth Gospel, for
instance, as historically the supplement of the others, and
dogmatically of the Book of Revelation; to suppose the Logos-doctrine
tacitly present in the speeches of Peter; to detect the pre-existence
in Mark, or remove it from John; or to identify the Paraclete with the
gifts of Pentecost. All feeling of living reality is lost from our
picture of the Apostolic time, when its outlines are thus blurred, its
contrasts destroyed, its grouped figures effaced, and the whole melted
away by the persevering drizzle of a watery criticism into a muddy
glory round the place where Christ should be. If, moreover, we are to
find everything in the first age, then the second, and the third, and
all others, must be worse, just in so far as they differ from it; and
the whole course of succeeding thought, the widening and deepening of
the Christian faith and feeling, the swelling of its stream by the
lapse into it of Oriental Gnosis and Hellenic Platonism and the
Western Conscience, must be a ceaseless degeneracy. Thus to the
Bibliolater as to the Romanist, Divine truth _has no history among
men_, unless it be the history of decline, or of recovery purchased by
decline. He also will accordingly care nothing about what the people
of Caius or Hippolytus thought. Is it in the Bible? If so, he knew it
before. Is it not in the Bible? Then he has nothing to do with it but
throw it away. By a fitting retribution, this moping worship of the
letter of a book and the creed of a generation brings it to pass that
both are lost to the mind in a dismal haze of ignorance and
misconception; and if the "Evangelical" believer could be transported
suddenly from Exeter Hall into the company of the twelve in Jerusalem,
or the Proseucha which Paul enters on the banks of the Strymon, or the
room where the Agape is prepared at Rome, we are persuaded that he
would find a scene newer to his expectations than by any other
migration into a known time and place.

But now let us abolish this isolation from the rest of human existence
of the _incunabula_ of our faith, and throw open that time to free
relation with the whole providence of humanity. Suppose Christianity
to be the influence upon the world of a Divine Person,--in quality
divine, in quantity human,--whose Epiphany was determined at a crisis
of ripe conditions for the rescue, the evolution, the spread of holy
and sanctifying truth. What are those conditions? They consist mainly
in the co-presence, within the embrace of one vast state, of two
opposite races or types of men, both having a partial gift of divine
apprehension, and holding in charge an indispensable element of truth;
both with their spiritual life verging to exhaustion and capable of no
separate effort more; and each unconsciously pining away for want of
the complement of thought which the other only could supply. The
_Hebrew_ brought his intense feeling of the Personality of God;
conceiving this in so concentrated a form as to exclude the proper
notion of infinitude, and render Him only the most powerful Being in
the Universe, its Monarch,--wielding the creatures as his
puppets,--acting historically upon its scenes as objective to Him, and
by the annals of his past agency supplying to the Abrahamic family a
religion of archives and documents. The sovereignty of Jehovah raised
him to an immeasurable height above his creation; dwarfed all other
existence; placed him by _nature_ at a distance from men, and only by
_condescension_ allowing of approximation. And hence his worshippers,
in proportion as they adored his greatness, felt the littleness of all
else; acquired a temper towards their fellow-men, if not severe and
scornful, at least not reverent and tender; and regarded them as
separate in kind from Him, mere dust on the balance or locusts in the
field. The religion of the _Hellenic_ race began at the other
end,--from the midst of human life, its mysteries, its struggles, its
nobleness, its mixture of heroic Free-will and awful Destiny; and
their deepest reverence, their quickest recognition of the Divine, was
directed towards the soul of a man vindicating its grandeur, though it
should be against superhuman powers. In proportion as men were great,
beautiful, and good, did they appear to be as lesser gods, and earth
and heaven to be filled with the same race. Thought, conscience,
admiration in the human mind were not personal accidents separately
originating in each individual; but the sympathetic response of our
common intellect, standing in front of Nature, to the kindred life of
the Divine intellect behind Nature, and ever passing into expression
through it. When this feeling of the Hellenic race became reflective,
and organized itself into philosophy, it represented the universe as
the eternal assumption of form by the Divine thought, which we were
enabled to read off by our essential identity of nature. Hence a whole
series of conceptions quite different from the Hebrew representations;
instead of Creation, Evolution of being; instead of Interposition
from without, Incarnation operating from within; instead of Omnipotent
Will, Universal Thought; assigning as the ideal of man's perfection,
not so much obedience to Law, as similitude of Mind to God; and
tending predominantly not to strength in Morals, but to beauty in Art.
These two opposite tendencies had run their separate course, and
expended their proper history; and were talking wildly, as in the
approaching delirium of death. But they are the two factors of all
religious truth: and to fuse them together, to make it impossible that
either should perish or should remain alone, the Christ was given to
the world, so singularly balanced between them, that neither could
resist his power, but both were drawn into it for the regeneration of
mankind. In the accidents of his lot given to the one race, and only
baffling the visions of prophets to transcend them; in the essence of
his nature, so august and attractive to the other that the faith in
Incarnation was irresistible; presented to the Hebrews by his mortal
birth, and snatched from them by his immortal; stopping by his
holiness the mouth of Law, and carrying it up into the higher region
of Faith and Love; in the Temple wishing the Temple gone, that there
might be open communion, Spirit with Spirit; translating sacrifice
into self-sacrifice;--he had every requisite for conciliating and
blending the separated elements of truth which, for so many ages, had
been converging towards him. But if this was the function
providentially assigned to him, and for which the divine and human
were so blended in him, it is a function which could not be
accomplished in a moment, in a generation, in a century. It is an
_historical_ function, freely demanding time for its theatre; and as
the separate factors had occupied ages in attaining their ripeness for
combination, so must their fusion consume many a lifetime of
effervescing thought, ere the homogeneous truth appeared. The words of
Christ are not in this view the end in which Revelation terminates;
but the means given to us of knowing himself, contributions to the
picture we form of his personality. Nor are the sentiments of his
immediate followers about his office and position in the scheme of
Providence anything more authoritative to us than the incipient
attempts made, when his influence was fresh, to grasp the whole of his
relations while only a part was to be seen. The records of the great
crisis are no doubt of superlative value, as the vehicles by which
alone we understand and feel its power; but their value is lost if
they are to dictate truth to our passive acceptance, instead of
quickening our reason and conscience to find it: they stop in this way
the very development which they were to lead, and disappoint Christ of
the very work he came to achieve. Human elements were inevitably and
fully present in the first age and its Scriptures, as in every other;
and the transitory ingredients they have left, it is a duty to detach
from the eternal truth. And as conditions of finite imperfection
cannot be banished from the central era, neither can the guidance of
the Infinite Spirit be denied, whether among the Hebrew, the Hellenic,
or the Christian people, in the ages before and after. In that new
development of human consciousness and knowledge in regard to God,
which we call Christianity, _all_ the requisite conditions--viz. the
factors taken up, the Person who blends them, and the continuous
product they evolve--include Divine Inspiration as well as Human
Reflection,--the living presence and communion of the Eternal with the
Transitory Mind, of the perfectly Good with the good in the Imperfect.
To disengage the one from the other, to treasure up the true and holy
that is born of God, and let fall the false and wrong that is infused
by man, is possible only to Reason and Conscience, is indeed the
perpetual work in which they live; the denial of which is not merely
Atheism, but Devil-worship,--not the bare negation, but the positive
reversal, of religion,--the virtual affirmation that God indeed
_exists_, but exists as _Un_-reason and _Un_-good. No mechanical, no
chronological separation can be effected of the Divine from the Human,
the Revealed from the Unrevealed, in faith; there is no person, no
book, no age, no Church, in which both do not meet, and require to be
disentangled the one from the other; but the perseverance of God's
living and self-harmonious Spirit throughout the discordant errors of
dying generations enables the men most apt and faithful to his voice
to know more and more what his reality is, and drop the semblances by
which it is disguised. The effect of this view on our estimate of
ecclesiastical literature is evident. As, according to it, the
Apostolic period is not exempted from critical judgment, so neither
are succeeding times to be without their claim on religious reverence.
The canonical books of the New Testament fall back into the general
mass of literature recording the earliest knowledge and consciousness
of the disciples, neither detached, as a mysterious whole, from other
productions of their time, nor excluding the greatest diversities of
value among themselves. They exhibit the first struggling efforts--not
always concurrent in their direction--of an awakening spiritual life,
to interpret a recent Divine manifestation, and to solve by it the
problem of the world's Providence. Their very freshness and proximity
to the great figure of Christ was by no means an unmixed advantage to
these efforts; and they were not so complete and successful as to
supersede their continuance in the next and following generations,
which lay under no incompetency for their prosecution, and are as
likely, so far as antecedent probability goes, to have enriched and
improved, as to have impoverished and spoiled, the earlier doctrine of
Christ's relation to God and to mankind. The chasm thus disappears
between the Apostolic age and its successor; the products of the first
are not to be accepted simply because they are there, nor those of the
second rejected because they are absent from the first; nor is
everything to be admitted on showing that it stands in both, and even
had a tenure long enough to become the prescriptive occupant of the
Church. The Catholic is right in clinging to the continuous thread of
Divine Inspiration binding the centuries of Christendom together; and
in maintaining that the expression of true doctrine grows fuller with
time. He is wrong in making the Spirit over to an hierarchical
corporation; and in treating the ostensible growth of doctrine as the
mere negation of heresies. The Protestant is right in rescuing from
the haze of uncertain tradition the real historical ground of his
religion, and setting it in the focus of an intense reverence; and in
rejecting whatever cannot be adjusted with the clear facts and
essential Spirit of that primitive Gospel. He is wrong in his
insulation of that time as a sole authoritative age of golden days, in
which the faith had neither error nor defect, and from which it must
be copied, with daguerreotype exactitude, into every disciple's mind.
Keep the positive elements, destroy the negative limitations of both
these systems, and the true conception of Christianity emerges. As a
system of self-conscious doctrine, it is a religious Philosophy,
starting from the historical appearance of Christ as an expression of
God in human life, and always detained around this one object as its
centre; and in its development consulting not the idiosyncrasies and
conceits of private and personal reflection, but the devout
consciousness and spiritual _consensus_ of all Christian ages and all
holy men. All religion is the product of an action of the Infinite
mind upon the finite: in the _Christian_ religion that action takes
place upon souls engaged in the contemplation of Christ as the
manifestation of God's moral nature. This given object remaining the
same, there is room for indefinite expansion and variety; and every
developed form is to be tried, not by its date, but by the tests of
truth relevant to religious philosophy.

How far M. Bunsen would recognize his own doctrine in this exposition
we cannot say; but without intending in the least to make him
responsible for it, we think it does not essentially deviate from his
scheme of thought. The philosophical aphorisms in which he has
embodied his speculative faith follow an order which we should have
spoiled, had we, for our present purpose, so brought them together as
to make them speak for themselves. And though they display the same
astonishing command of our language, in which the author never fails,
the cast of the thoughts is so Teutonic, that few English readers, it
is to be feared, will appreciate their depth and richness. The
complaint, which we have heard and seen, that they are wholly
unintelligible, is indeed purely ridiculous, except that it sadly
illustrates the extent to which reflection, and even feeling, on such
subjects has ceased in England. M. Bunsen, we can assure our readers,
knows what he means, and lucidly states what he means; and those who
miss his meaning have for the most part no slight loss. The following
sentences, which the greatest sufferer from philosophobia may drink in
without convulsions, will explain his idea of Revelation, in its
bearing upon the use of written records. The mere "Natural Religion"
of the Deist, he observes, was--

"The negative reaction against the equally untenable, unphilosophical,
and irrational notion, that revelation was nothing but an external
historical act. Such a notion entirely loses sight of the infinite or
eternal factor of revelation, founded both in the nature of the
infinite and that of the finite mind, of God and man.

"This heterodox notion became still more obnoxious, by its imagining
something higher in the manifestation of God's will and being than the
human mind, which is the divinely-appointed organ of divine
manifestation, and in a double manner; ideally in mankind, as object,
historically in the individual man, as instrument.

"The notion of a merely historical revelation by written records is as
unhistorical as it is unintellectual and materialistic. It necessarily
leads to untruth in philosophy, to unreality in religious thought, and
to Fetichism in worship. It misunderstands the process necessarily
implied in every historical representation. The form of expressing the
manifestation of God in the mind, as if God was himself using human
speech to man, and was thus himself finite and a man, is a form
inherent in the nature of human thought as embodied in language, its
own rational expression. It was originally never meant to be
understood materialistically, because the religious consciousness
which produced it was essentially spiritual; and, indeed, it can only
be thus misunderstood by those who make it a rule and criterion of
faith, never to connect any thought whatever with what they are
expected to believe as divinely true.

"Every religion is positive. It is, therefore, justly called a
religion '_made manifest_' (offenbart), or, as the English term has
it, _revealed_; that is to say, it supposes an action of the infinite
mind, or God, upon the finite mind, or man, by which God, in his
relation to man, becomes manifest or visible. This can be mediate,
through the manifestation of God in the Universe of Nature; or a
direct, immediate action, through the religious consciousness.

"This second action is called _revealed_, in the strictest sense. The
more a religion manifests of the real substance and nature of God, and
of his relation to the universe and to man, the more it deserves the
name of a divine manifestation, or of Revelation. But no religion
which exists could exist without something of truth, revealed to man,
through the creation, and through his mind.

"Such a direct communication of the Divine mind as is called
Revelation has necessarily two factors, which are unitedly working in
producing it. The one is the infinite factor, or the direct
manifestation of eternal truth to the mind, by the power which that
mind has of perceiving it; for human perception is the correlate of
divine manifestation. There could be no revelation of God if there was
not the corresponding faculty in the human mind to receive it, as
there is no manifestation of light where there is no eye to see it.

"This infinite factor is, of course, not historical; it is inherent in
every individual soul, only with an immense difference in the degree.

"The action of the Infinite upon the mind, is _the_ miracle of history
and of religion, equal to the miracle of creation.

"Miracle, in its highest sense, is therefore essentially and
undoubtedly an operation of the Divine mind upon the human mind. By
that action the human mind becomes inspired with a new life, which
cannot be explained by any precedent of the selfish (natural) life,
but is its absolute contrary. This miracle requires no proof; the
existence and action of religious life is its proof, as the world is
the proof of creation.

"The second factor of revelation is the finite or external. This
means of divine manifestation is, in the first place, a universal one,
the Universe or Nature. But, in a more special sense, it is a
historical manifestation of divine truth through the life and teaching
of higher minds among men. These men of God are eminent individuals,
who communicate something of eternal truth to their brethren; and, as
far as they themselves are true, they have in them the conviction,
that what they say and teach of things divine is an objective truth.
They therefore firmly believe that it is independent of their
individual personal opinion and impression, and will last, and not
perish, as their personal existence upon earth must.

"The difference between Christ and other men of God is analogous to
that between the manifestation of a part, and of the totality and
substance, of the divine mind."--Vol. II. p. 60, _seq._

The newly-found work, like other productions of the same period, can
have only a disturbing interest for the Roman Catholic and Orthodox
Protestant. For, in conjunction with previous evidence, it shows that
the unbroken unity of teaching is altogether a fiction; that what
afterwards became heresy was, in the latter part of the second
century, held in the church of the primacy itself, and by successors
of St. Peter; that the clergy of Rome, so far from owning the
apostolic authority of their chief, could resist him as heterodox; and
that the contents of the Catholic system, far from appearing as an
invariable whole from the first, were a gradual synthesis of elements
flowing in from new channels of influence brought into connection with
the faith; and as against the approved type of Protestant, it shows
that his favorite scheme of dogma was still in a very unripe state,
and that further back it had been still more so; so that if he binds
himself to the earliest creed, he may probably have to accept a
profession which he hardly regards as Christian at all. But from the
third point of view, which assumes that development is an inherent
necessity in a revelation, and may add to its truth, instead of
subtracting from it, the monuments of Christian literature from the
secondary period have a positive interest, free from all uneasiness
and alarm. They arrest for us, in the midst, the advance of
theological belief towards the form ultimately recognized in the
Church, and expressed in the established creeds; they render visible
the beautiful features and expanded look of the faith, when its Judaic
blood had been cooled by the waters of an Hellenic baptism; and though
they leave many undetermined problems as to the successive steps by
which the original Hebrew type of the Gospel in Jerusalem was
metamorphosed into the Nicene and hierarchical Christianity, they fix
some intermediate points, and make us profoundly conscious of the
greatness of the change.

The author of the "Philosophumena," for instance, would be stopped at
the threshold of every sect in our own country, and excluded as
heterodox. He crosses the lines of our theological definitions, and
trespasses on forbidden ground, in every possible doctrinal direction.
Cardinal Wiseman would have nothing to say to him; for he is
insubordinate to the "Vicar of Christ," and profanely insists that a
pope may be deposed by his own council of presbyters. The Bishop of
Exeter would refuse him institution; for his Trinity is imperfect, and
he allows no Personality to the Holy Ghost. The Archbishop of Dublin
might probably think him a little hard upon Sabellius; but, if he
would quietly sign the Articles, (which, however, he could by no means
do,) might abstain from retaliation, and let him pass. At Manchester,
Canon Stowell would keep him in hot water for his respectable opinion
of human nature, and his lofty doctrine of free-will. In Edinburgh,
Dr. Candlish would not listen to a man who had nothing to say of
reliance on the imputed merits of Christ. The sapient board at New
College, St. John's Wood, would expel him for his loose notions of
Inspiration. And the Unitarians would find him too transcendental,
make no common sense out of his notions of Incarnation, and recommend
him to try Germany. This fact, that a bishop of the second and third
centuries would be ecclesiastically not a stranger only, but an
outcast among us, is most startling; and ought surely to open the eyes
of modern Christians to the false and dangerous position into which
their churches have been brought by narrow-heartedness and
insincerity. It will not be M. Bunsen's fault if our Churchmen remain
insensible to the national peril and disgrace of maintaining
unreformed a system long known to have no heart of modern reality, and
now seen to have as little ground of ancient authority. Again and
again he raises his voice of earnest and affectionate warning. As a
foreigner domesticated among us, as a scholar of wide historical view,
as a philosophical statesman who, amid the diplomacy of the hour,
descends to the springs of perennial life in nations, as a Christian
who profoundly trusts the reality of religion, and cannot be dazzled
by the pretence, he sees, with a rare clearness and breadth, both the
capabilities and the dangers of our social and spiritual condition. He
sees that God has given to the English people a moral massiveness and
veracity of character which presents the grandest basis of noble
faith; while learned selfishness and aristocratic apathy uphold in the
Church creeds which only stupidity can sign without mental
reservations,--a Liturgy that catches the scruple of the intellectual
without touching the enthusiasm of the popular heart,--a laity without
function,--a clergy without unity,--and a hierarchy without power. He
sees that our insular position has imparted to us a distinctive
nationality of feeling, supplying copious elements for coalescence in
a common religion; while obstinate conservatism has permitted our
Christianity to become our great divisive power, and to disintegrate
us through and through. He respects our free institutions, which
sustain the health of our political life; but beside them he finds an
ecclesiastical system either imposed by a dead and inflexible
necessity, or left unguided to a whimsical voluntaryism, which
separates the combinations of faith from the relations of
neighborhood, of municipality, of country. With noble and
richly-endowed universities at the exclusive disposal of the Church,
he finds the theological and philosophical sciences so shamefully
neglected, that Christian faith notoriously does not hold its
intellectual ground, and in its retreat does nothing to reach a
firmer position; but only protests its resolution to stand still, and
raise a din against the critic or metaphysic host that drives it back.
Is there no one in this great and honest country that has trust enough
in God and truth, foresight enough of ruin from falsehood and
pretence, to lay the first hand to the work of renovation? Is
statesmanship so infected with negligent contempt of mankind, that no
high-minded politician can be found to care for the highest discipline
of the people, and reorganize the institutions in which their
conscience, their reason, their upward aspirations, should find life?
Has the Church no prophet with faith enough to fling aside creed and
college, and fire within him to burn away mediæval pedantries, and
demand an altar of veracity, that may bring us together for common
work and "common prayer"? Or is it to be left to the _strong men_,
exulting in their strength, and storming with the furor of honest
discontent, to settle these matters with the sledge-hammer of their
indignation? Miserable hypocrisy! to open the lips and lift the eyes
to heaven, while beckoning with the finger of apathy to these pioneers
of Necessity! Would that some might be found to lay to heart our
author's warning and counsel in the following sentences:--

"While we exclude all suggestions of despair, as being equally
unworthy of a man and of a Christian, we establish two safe
principles. The first is, that, in all congregational and
ecclesiastical institutions, Christian freedom, within limits
conformable to Scripture, constitutes the first requisite for a vital
restoration. The second fundamental principle is, that every Church
must hold fast what she already possesses, in so far as it presents
itself to her consciousness as true and efficacious. In virtue of the
first condition, she will combine Reason and Scripture in due
proportions; by virtue of the second, she will distinguish between
Spirit and Letter, between Idea and Form. No external clerical forms
and mediæval reflexes of bygone social and intellectual conditions can
save us, nor can sectarian schisms and isolation from national life.
Neither can learned speculations, and still less the incomparably more
arrogant dreams of the unlearned. Scientific consciousness must dive
into real life, and refresh itself in the feelings of the people, and
that no one will be able to do without having made himself thoroughly
conversant with the sufferings and the sorrows of the lowest classes
of society. For out of the feeling of these sufferings and sorrows, as
being to a great degree the most extensive and most deep-seated
product of evil,--that is, of selfishness,--arose, eighteen hundred
years ago, the divine birth of Christianity. The new birth, however,
requires new pangs of labor, and not only on the part of individuals,
but of the whole nation, in so far as she bears within her the germs
of future life, and possesses the strength to bring forth. Every
nation must set about the work herself, not, indeed, as her own
especial exclusive concern, but as the interest of all mankind. Every
people has the vocation to coin for itself the divine form of
Humanity, in the Church as well as in the State; its life depends on
this being done, not its reputation merely; it is the condition of
existence, not merely of prosperity.

"Is it not time, in truth, to withdraw the veil from our misery? to
point to the clouds which rise from all quarters, to the noxious vapors
which have already well-nigh suffocated us? to tear off the mask from
hypocrisy, and destroy that sham which is undermining all real ground
beneath our feet? to point out the dangers which surround, nay, threaten
already to engulf us? Is the state of things satisfactory in a Christian
sense, where so much that is unchristian predominates, and where
Christianity has scarcely begun here and there to penetrate the surface
of the common life? Shall we be satisfied with the increased outward
respect paid to Christianity and the Church? Shall we take it as a sign
of renewed life, that the names of God and Christ have become the
fashion, and are used as a party badge? Can a society be said to be in a
healthy condition, in which material and selfish interests in
individuals, as well as in the masses, gain every day more and more the
upper hand? in which so many thinking and educated men are attached to
Christianity only by outward forms, maintained either by despotic power,
or by a not less despotic, half-superstitious, half-hypocritical
custom? when so many churches are empty, and satisfy but few, or display
more and more outward ceremonials and vicarious rites? when a godless
schism has sprung up between spirit and form, or has even been preached
up as a means of rescue? when gross ignorance or confused knowledge,
cold indifference or the fanaticism of superstition, prevails as to the
understanding of Holy Scripture, as to the history, nay, the fundamental
ideas of Christianity? when force invokes religion in order to command,
and demagogues appeal to the religious element in order to destroy?
when, after all their severe chastisements and bloody lessons, most
statesmen base their wisdom only on the contempt of mankind? and when
the prophets of the people preach a liberty, the basis of which is
selfishness, the object libertinism, and the wages are vice? And this in
an age the events of which show more and more fatal symptoms, and in
which a cry of ardent longing pervades the people, re-echoed by a
thousand voices!"--III. XV.

Sorry, however, as we should be to see our Roman presbyter
disconsolately wandering from fold to fold in modern England, and
dismissed as a black sheep from all, we should not like to find him
metamorphosed into chief shepherd either, and invested with the
guidance of our ecclesiastical affairs. Though he is above imitating
the feeble railing of Irenæus at the heresies, he deals with them in
the true clerical style; often missing their real meaning, he does not
spare them his bad word; and fancies he has killed them before he has
even caught them. He has an evident relish also for a tale of scandal,
as a make-weight against a theological opponent. In the "Little
Labyrinth," he had told us a story about a Unitarian minister, who,
for accepting his schismatical office, had been horsewhipped by angels
all night; so that he crawled in the morning to the metropolitan, and
gave in his penitential recantation. And now, in the larger work, the
author flies at higher game, and makes out that Pope Callistus was an
incorrigible scamp; originally a slave in the household of a wealthy
Christian master, Carpophorus, whose confidence he abused in every
possible way. First, having been intrusted with the management of a
bank in the _Piscina publica_, he swindled and ruined the depositors,
and decamped, with the intention of sailing from Portus, but was found
on board ship; and, though he jumped into the sea to avoid capture,
was picked up, and condemned by his master to the hand-mill. Next,
being allowed to go out, on the plea of collecting some debts which
would enable him to pay a dividend to the depositors, he created a
riot in a Jews' synagogue, and, being brought before the prefect, was
sentenced to be flogged and transported to Sardinia. Thence he escaped
by passing himself off among a number of Christians, released from
their exile through the influence of the Emperor's concubine, Marcia,
and on the recommendation of Victor, the Pope. As he was not included
in the list of pardons, he no sooner made his appearance in Rome than
his master sent him off to live on a monthly allowance at Antium. On
the death of Carpophorus, he seems to have attained his freedom by
bequest; and his fertility of resource having made him useful to the
new Pope Zephyrinus, he acquired influence enough to succeed him in
the Primacy. We must confess that the evident _gusto_ with which our
presbyter tells this scandal, the _animus_ with which he accuses
Zephyrinus also of stupidity and venality, and the predominance in his
narrative of theological antipathy over moral disgust, leave a painful
impression on the reader respecting the spirit then at work in the
Apostolic See. And though his scheme of belief, especially in relation
to the person of Christ, was more rational than the definitions of
more modern creeds, yet we fear that he would be not less nice about
its shape, and intolerant of those who move about in freer folds of
thought, than a divine of the Canterbury cloisters or the Edinburgh
platform. His quarrel with the two popes whom he abuses shows pretty
clearly the stage of development which the Christian theology had then
reached. On this matter we must say a few words.

Whatever may have been the precise order of combination which brought
the Hebrew and Hellenic ideas of God into union, there can be no
doubt about the two _termini_ of the process. It started from the
monarchical conception of Jehovah, as a Unity without plurality; and
it issued in the Athanasian Trinity, with its three hypostases in one
essence. Of these, the Father expressed the Absolute existence, the
Son the Objective manifestation, the Holy Spirit the Subjective
revelation of God. In the presbyter's creed, the third term was not
yet incorporated, but still floated freely, diffused and impersonal.
Leaving this out of view, we may observe, in the remaining part of the
doctrine, two principal difficulties to be surmounted, arising from
the double medium of divine objective manifestation,--Nature, always
proceeding,--and Christ, historically transient. The first problem is,
How to pass at all out of the Infinite existence into Finite
phenomena, and conceive the relation between the Father and the Son;
the second, How to pass from Eternal manifestation through all
phenomena into temporary appearance in an Individual, so as to
conceive the relation between the Son and the Galilean Christ. Thus,
excluding all reference to the Holy Spirit, there were, in fact,
_four_ objects of thought, whose relations to one another were to be
adjusted; viz. the Father, the Son evolving all things, the Christ or
divine individualization in the Gospel, and Jesus of Nazareth, the
human being with whose life this individualization concurred. Among
all these there were, so to speak, two clearly distinct Wills to
dispose of; that of the man Jesus at the lowest extremity, and that of
the Supreme God, which the Jew, at least, would fix at the upper.
These two Wills act, in the whole development of doctrine on this
subject, as the secret centres of Personality; and the remaining
elements obtain or miss a hypostatic character according as they are
drawn or not into coalescence with the one or the other. The
volitional point of the Divine Agency being once determined, it may be
regarded as enclosed between the _Thought_, or intellectual essence
out of which it comes, and the _Execution_ by which it is realized; or
it may be left undistinguished from these, and may be made to coincide
with either. According to these variable conditions arise the several
modes of doctrine in reference to the Divine element in God's
Objective manifestation. The differences, for instance, between our
presbyter's doctrine and Origen's, will be found to depend on the
different points which they seize as the seat of divine volition, and
the germ of their logical development. Our author, exemplifying the
Hebrew tendency, seeks his initiative up at the fountain-head, and
puts himself back before the first act of creation; he starts from the
One God, with whom nothing was co-present, and fixes in Him the seat
of the primeval Will. There, however, it would remain, a mere
potentiality, did not the Eternal Mind, by reflection in itself, pass
into self-consciousness, and give objectivity to its own thought. This
primary expression of his essence, in which it enters into relation,
but relation only to itself, is the _Logos_, or _Son_ of God, the
agent in the production of all things. The potentiality is thus
reserved to the Father; the effectuation is given to the Son; who,
coming in at a point lower down than the seat of Will, and simply
bridging over the interval that leads to accomplishment, is felt
without the essential condition of a numerically distinct subsistence;
and has either the instrumental and subordinate personality of a
dependent being, or is imperfectly hypostatized.[41] In this
impersonal character does the Logos manifest the Divine thought in the
visible universe; in the minds of godly men, which are the source of
law; in the glance of prophets, which catches and interprets the
divine significance of all times; and first assumes a full personality
in the Incarnation. Having left the primary Will behind in the
Father's essence, the Logos remains but an inchoate hypostasis, till
alighting, in the human nature, on another centre of volition. As if
our author were half conscious, in reaching this point, of relief from
an antecedent uneasiness, he now holds fast to the personality which
has been realized, represents it as not dissolved by the death on the
cross, but taken up into heaven, and abiding for ever. It is, in this
view, the two extreme terms that supply the hypostatizing power; of
the others, the Logos has no personality but by looking back to the
Father; nor the Christ, but by going forward to the Son of Mary. This
shows the yet powerful influence of the Judaic Monarchianism, and the
embarrassment of a mind, setting out from that type of faith, to
provide any plurality within the essence of God. Origen, on the other
hand, yielded to the Hellenic feeling, and, instead of going back to
any absolute commencement, looked for his Divine centre and
starting-point further down; and took thence whatever upward glance
was needful to complete his view. As the Greek reverence was not
touched but by the Divine embodied in concrete life and form, so the
Alexandrine catechist instinctively fixed upon the SON, the objective
Thought of God, proceeding, not once upon a time or ever _first_, but
_eternally_, from Him, as the initiative position for his doctrine.
Here was placed the clearest and intensest focus of Will; and only in
this ever-evolving efficient were the full conditions of personality
realized. The Father was conceived more pantheistically, as the
universal νους, the intellectual background, whence issued the acting
nature of the Son. In meditating on them in their conjunction, Origen
would think of the relation between _thought_ and _volition_; our
author, of that between _volition_ and _execution_. Both doctrines
show the imperfect fusion of Hebrew and Hellenic elements, and
illustrate the characteristic effect of an excessive proportion of
each. Where the Hebrew element prevails, the personality of the Son is
endangered; where the Hellenic, the personality of the Father. Even
our presbyter's doctrine of the Son, however, gave too strong an
impersonation to Him for the party in Rome who sided with Zephyrinus
and Callistus. These popes accused him, it seems, of being a
_Ditheist_; and themselves maintained that the terms Father and Son
denoted only different sides and relations of one and the same
Being,--nay, not only of the same Being, but of the same προσωπον; and
that the spirit that dwelt in Christ was the Father, of whom all
things are full. For this opinion the two popes are angrily dealt with
by our author, and charged with being half Sabellian, half
humanitarian. His rancor justifies the suspicion, that, though he
represents the party which triumphed at Rome, his opponents had been
numerous and powerful, as, indeed, their election to the primacy would
of itself show, and that even his own imperfect dogma was
superinduced, not without a protracted struggle, upon an earlier faith
yet remote from the Nicene standard.

And this brings us at once to a question of historical research,
which, though far too intricate and extensive to be discussed here, we
feel bound to notice, as far as it is affected by the newly discovered
work. How long did it take for the Christian faith to assume the
leading features of its orthodox and catholic form, and especially to
work itself clear of Judaism? It is an acknowledged fact, that the
earliest disciples, including at the lowest estimate all the converts
of the first seven years from the ascension, not only were born
Hebrews, but did not regard their baptism as in any way withdrawing
them from the pale of their national religion; that, on the contrary,
they claimed to be the only true Jews, differing from others simply by
their belief in a personally appointed, instead of a vaguely promised
Messiah; that they aimed at no more than to bring over their own race
to this conviction, and persuade them that the national destinies were
about to be consummated, and, so far from relaxing the obligations of
their Law, adhered with peculiar rigor to its ritual and its
exclusiveness. So long as none but the twelve Apostles had charge of
its diffusion, Christianity was only a particular mode of Judaism, and
its whole discussion a ζητησις των Ιουδαιων. It is further admitted,
that the first inroad upon this narrowness was made by St. Paul, who
insisted on the universality of Christ's function, and the abrogation
of the Mosaic Law in favor of inward faith, as the condition of union
with God. Nor, again, is it denied that this freer view met with great
resistance, and that its conflict with the other, apparent throughout
the Pauline Epistles, formed the most animating feature of the
Apostolic age. During that period, two distinct parties, and two
separate lines of development and growth, may be traced; one following
out in morals the _legal_ idea into asceticism, voluntary poverty, and
physical purity, and in faith the _monarchian_ idea into theocratic
and millenarian expectations; the other, proceeding from the notion of
_faith_ to substitute an ideal Christ for the historical, a new
religion for an old law, the free embrace of divine reconciliation for
the anxious strain of self-mortifying obedience. But how long did this
struggle and separation continue? According to the prevalent belief,
it was all over in a few years; and, by the happy harmony and
concurrence of the Apostles, was determined in favor of the generous
Pauline doctrine; so that St. John lived to see the Hebrew Christians
sink into a mere Ebionitish sect outside the pale, and their stiff
Unitarian theology disowned in favor of the higher teachings of his
Gospel. Against this assumption of so easy a victory over the Jewish
tendency, several striking testimonies have often been urged.
Tertullian, in a well-known passage of his treatise against Praxeas,
describes the dislike with which the unlearned majority of believers
regard the Trinitarian distinctions in the Godhead, and the zeal with
which they cry out for holding to "the Monarchy."[42] In the time of
Pope Zephyrinus, as we learn from Eusebius, a body of Unitarians in
Rome, followers of Artemon, defended their doctrine by the
conservative plea of antiquity and general consent; affirming that it
was no other than the uninterrupted creed of the Roman Church down to
the time of Victor, the preceding pope; and that the higher doctrine
of the Person of Christ was quite a recent innovation.[43] Nor are we
without ecclesiastical literature, of even a later date, that by its
theological tone gives witness to the same effect. The "Clementine
Recognitions," written somewhere between 212 and 230, occupy a
dogmatic position, higher indeed than the disciples of Artemon, but
only in the direction of Arius, and, to save the Unity of God, deny
the Deity of Christ.[44] Relying on such evidence as this, Priestley,
in his "History of Early Opinions," and his controversy with Bishop
Horsley, maintained that the creed of the Church for the first two
centuries was Unitarian. But this position was attended with many
difficulties, so long as the present canonical Scriptures were allowed
to have been in the hands of the Christians of that period, and
recognized as authorities; for the narratives of the miraculous
conception, the writings of Paul, and the Gospel of John, are
irreconcilable with the schemes of belief attributed to the early
Unitarians. Moreover, if for two centuries the Church had interpreted
its authoritative documents in one way, and formed on this its
services and expositions, it is not easy to conceive the rapid
revolution into another. During a period of free and floating
tradition, there is manifest room for the growth of essentially
different modes of faith; but after the reception of a definite set of
sacred books, the scope for change is much contracted. To treat the
doctrine of the Logos as an innovation, yet ascribe the fourth Gospel
to the beloved disciple; to suppose that justification by works was
the generally received notion among people who guided themselves by
the authority of Paul,--involves us in irremediable contradictions.
Avoiding these at least, possibly not without the risk of others, the
celebrated theologians of Tübingen have maintained a bolder thesis
than that of Priestley, including it indeed, but with it also a vast
deal more. Their theory runs as follows. The opposition which St.
Paul's teaching excited, and of which his letters preserve so many
traces, was neither so insignificant nor so short-lived as is commonly
supposed; but was encouraged and led by the other Apostles, especially
James and John and Peter, who never heartily recognized the volunteer
Apostle; and was so completely successful, that he died without having
made any considerable impression on the Judaic Christianity sanctioned
from Jerusalem. Accordingly, the earliest Christian literature was
Ebionitish; and no production was in higher esteem than the "Gospel
of the Hebrews," which, after being long current, with several
variations of form, at last settled down into our Gospel of Matthew.
In almost all the writings known to us, even in Roman circles of the
second century,--the Shepherd of Hermas, the Memorials of Hegesippus,
the works of Justin,--some character or other of Ebionitism is
present,--millenarian doctrine, admiration of celibacy and of
abstinence from meat and wine, denunciation of riches, emphatic
assertion of the _Messiahship_ of Jesus, and treatment of the
miraculous conception as at least an open question. The labors of
Paul, however, had left a seed which had been buried, but not killed;
and from the first, a small party had cherished his freer principles,
and sought to win acceptance for them; and as the progress of time
increased the proportion of provincial and Gentile converts, and the
Jewish wars of Titus and Hadrian destroyed the possibility of Mosaic
obedience and the reasonableness of Hebrew hopes, the Pauline element
rose in magnitude and importance. Thus the two courses of opposite
development ran parallel with each other, and gradually found their
interest in mutual recognition and concession. Hence, a series of
writings proceeding from either side, first of conciliatory
approximation only, next of complete neutrality and equipoise, in
which sometimes the figures of Peter and Paul themselves are presented
with studiously balanced honor, at others their characteristic ideas
are adjusted by compromise. The Clementine Homilies, the Apostolic
Constitutions, the Epistle of James, the Second Epistle of Clement,
the Gospel of Mark, the Recognitions, the Second Epistle of Peter,
constitute the series proceeding from the Ebionitish side; while from
the Pauline came the First Epistle of Peter, the Preaching of Peter,
the writings of Luke, the First Epistle of Clement, the Epistle to the
Philippians, the Pastoral Epistles, Polycarp's, and the Ignatians.
These productions, however, springing from the practical instinct of
the West, deal with the ecclesiastical more than with the doctrinal
phase of antagonism between the two directions; and end with
establishing in Rome a Catholic Church, founded on the united
sepulchres of Peter and Paul, and combining the sacerdotalism of the
Old Testament with the universality of the New Gentile Gospel.
Meanwhile, a similar course, with local modifications, was run by the
Church of Asia Minor. Rome, with its political aptitude, having taken
in hand the questions of discipline and organization, the speculative
genius of the Asiatic Greek addressed itself simultaneously to the
development and determination of doctrine. Here the Epistle to the
Galatians marks, as a starting-point, the same original struggle
between the contrasted elements which the Epistle to the Romans
betrays in Italy; while the Gospel of John closes the dogmatic strife
of development with an accepted Trinity for faith, just as the
Ignatian Epistles wind up the contests of the West with a recognized
hierarchy for government. And between these extremes the East presents
to us, first, the intensely Judaical Apocalypse; next, with increasing
reaction in the Pauline direction, the rudiments of the Logos idea in
the Epistles to the Hebrews, Colossians, and Ephesians; and as
Montanism, in the midst of which these arose, had already made
familiar the conception of the Paraclete, all the conditions were
present for combination into the Johannine doctrine of the Trinity;
and then it was, in the second quarter of the second century, that the
fourth Gospel appeared. The speculative theology thus native to Lesser
Asia was adopted for shelter and growth by the kindred Hellenism of
Egypt, and gave rise to the school of Alexandria. In the whole of this
theory great use is made of Montanism: it spans, as it were, the
interval between the parallel movements of Italy and Asia; and is the
common medium of thought in which they both take place. Singularly
uniting in itself the rigor, the narrowness, the ascetic superstitions
of its Hebrew basis, with a Phrygian prophetic enthusiasm and an
Hellenic theosophy, it imported the latter into the doctrine, the
former into the discipline, of the Church. The Roman Catholic system
betrays its Jewish or Montanist origin in its legalism, its penances,
its celibacy, its monachism, its ecstatic phenomena, its physical
supernaturalism, its exaggerated appreciation of martyrdom.

Such, in barest outline, is the theory which M. Bunsen characterizes as
the "Tübingen romance." Its leading principle is, that the antagonism
between the Petrine and Pauline, the Hebrew and the Hellenic Gospel,
which has its origin and authentic expression in the Epistles to the
Galatians, Romans, and Corinthians, continued into the second century;
determined the evolution of doctrine and usage; stamped itself upon the
ecclesiastical literature; and ended in the compromise and
reconciliation of the Catholic Church. It is evident that, in the
working out of this principle, the New Testament canon is made to give
way. With the exception of the greater Pauline Epistles and the
Apocalypse, both of which are held fast as genuine productions of the
Apostles whose names they bear, and the first Gospel, which is allowed
to have at least the groundwork in the primitive tradition, the received
books are all set loose from the dates and names usually assigned to
them, and arranged, in common with other products of the time, according
to the relation they bear to the Ebionitish or to the Pauline school,
and the particular stage they seem to mark in the history of either.
This proceeding, however, is not an original violence resorted to for
the exigencies of the theory; but, for the most part, a mere
appropriation to its use of conclusions reached by antecedent
theologians on independent grounds. The Epistle to the Philippians is
the only work, if we mistake not, on the authenticity of which doubt has
been thrown for the first time,--in our opinion, on very inadequate
grounds. In this, as in many other details of the hypothetical history,
there is not a little of that straining of real evidence and subtle
fabrication of unreal, which German criticism seems unable to avoid. But
the acerbity displayed by the North German theologians towards the
Tübingen critics appears to us unwarranted and humiliating; and we
certainly wish that M. Bunsen, whose prompt admiration of excellence so
nobly distinguishes him from Ewald, could have expressed his dissent
from Baur and Schwegler in a tone still further removed from the
Göttingen pitch. At least, we do not find the positive assertion that
the Tübingen theory is finally demolished by the "Philosophumena" at
all borne out by the evidence; and are inclined to think that the case
is very little altered by the new elements now contributed to its
discussion. The critical offence which he thinks is now detected and
exposed, is the ascription of a late origin to the fourth Gospel,[45]
and the treatment of it as the perfected product, instead of the misused
source, of the Montanist conceptions of the Logos and the Paraclete. It
cannot, however, be denied, that, in the previous absence of any
external testimony to the existence of this Gospel earlier than the year
170,[46] the internal difficulties are sufficiently serious to redeem
the doubt of its authenticity from the character of rashness or
perversity. The irreconcilable opposition between its whole mode of
thought and that of the Apocalypse is confessed by M. Bunsen himself,
when he suggests that the proem on the Logos was directed against
Cerinthus,--the very person whose sentiments the Apocalypse was supposed
to express, and to whom, accordingly, it was ascribed by those who
rejected it. _One_ of the two books must resign, then, the name of the
beloved disciple; and, of the two, we need hardly say that the
Apocalypse is incomparably the better authenticated. Moreover, the
traditions which unite the names of James and John, as the authorities
followed by the Church of Lesser Asia, render it hard to conceive that
their doctrines can have taken precisely opposite directions; and that,
while James represented the Judaic Christianity of the deepest dye,
John can have produced the standard and conclusive work on the other
side. In particular, the well-known fact, that the Asiatic Christians
justified their Jewish mode of keeping Easter by the double plea, (1.)
that James and John always did so, (2.) that Christ himself had done so
before he suffered, seems incompatible with any knowledge of the fourth
Gospel, which denies that Jesus ate the passover before he suffered, and
makes his own death to _be_ the passover. How could this Quartodeciman
controversy live a day among a people possessing and acknowledging
John's Gospel, which so bears upon it as to give a distinct
contradiction to the view of the other Gospels, and to pronounce in Asia
Minor itself an unambiguous verdict in favor of the West? These are
grave difficulties, which, after all the ingenuity, even of Bleek,
remain, we fear, unrelieved; and in their presence we cannot feel the
justice of M. Bunsen's sentence, that Baur's opinion is "the most
unhappy of philological conjectures." Everything conjectural, however,
must give way before real historical testimony; and, if new evidence is
actually contained in the "Philosophumena," every true critic, of
Tübingen or elsewhere, will be thankful for light to dissipate the
doubt. Now, it is said that our Roman bishop, in treating of the heresy
of Basilides, supplies passages from the writings of this heresiarch
which include quotations from the fourth Gospel; and thus prove its
existence as early as the year 130. This argument, as stated by M.
Bunsen, appeared to us quite conclusive, and we hoped, that a decided
step had been gained towards the settlement of the question. Great was
our disappointment, on reading the account in the original, to find no
evidence that any extract from Basilides was before us at all. A general
description of the system bearing his name is given; but with no mention
of any work of his, no profession that the words are his, and even so
little individual reference to him, that the exposition is introduced as
being a report of what "Basilides and Isidorus, and the whole troop of
these people, falsely say" (καταψευδεται, sing.). Then follows the
account of the dogmas of the sect, with the word φησιν inserted from
time to time, to indicate that the writer is still reporting the
sentiments of others. The _singular_ form of this word implies nothing
at all; it occurs immediately after the word καταψευδεται, and has the
same avowedly plural subject. The statement, therefore, within which are
contained the Scripture citations, is a merely general one of the
opinions of a sect which continued to subsist till a much later time
than the lowest date ever assigned for the composition of the fourth
Gospel. If the actual words of any writings current among these heretics
are given, they are the words of an author or authors wholly unknown,
and to refer them to Basilides in particular is a mere arbitrary act of
will. The change from the singular to the plural forms of citation in
the midst of one and the same sentence, and the disregard of concord
between verb and subject, show that no inference can be drawn from so
loose a system of grammatical usage. All that can be affirmed is, that
our author had in his hand _some_ production of the Basilidian χορος, in
which the fourth Gospel was quoted; but this affords no chronological
datum that can be of the smallest use.[47] The same remark applies to
the use of John's Gospel by the Ophites. That they did use it is
evident; that they existed as far back as the time of Peter and Paul is
certainly probable; yet it does not follow that the fourth Gospel was
then extant. For they continued in existence through two or three
centuries, dating, as Baur has shown, from a time anterior not only to
the Christian heresies, but to Christianity itself, and extending down
to Origen's time; and to what part of this long period the writings
belonged which the author of the "Philosophumena" employed, we are
absolutely unable to determine. We do not know why M. Bunsen has not
appealed also to a quotation from the Gospel which occurs (p. 194) in an
account of the Valentinian system. If, as he affirms (I. 63), this
account were really in "_Valentinus's own words_," the citation would be
of particular value in the controversy. For it has always been urged by
the Tübingen critics as a highly significant fact, that while the
_followers_ of Valentinus showed an especial eagerness to appeal to the
Gospel of John, and one of the earliest, Heracleon, wrote a commentary
upon it, no trace could be found of its use by the heresiarch himself.
From this circumstance, they have inferred that the Gospel was not
available for him, and first appeared after his time. A single clause
cited by him from the Gospel would demolish this argument at once. But
the assertion that we have here "full eight pages of Valentinus's own
words" appears to us quite groundless. No such thing is affirmed by the
writer of the eight pages. He promises to tell us how the strict
adherents to the original principle of the sect expounded their doctrine
(ὡς εκεινοι διδασκουσι); and then passes over, as usual, to the singular
φησι, returning, however, from time to time, to the plural
forms,--θελουσι, λεγουσι, &c.,--and thus leaving no pretext for the
assumption that Valentinus is before us in person. The later Gnostics
indisputably resorted to the Gospel of John with especial zeal and
preference; and if their predecessors, Basilides and Valentinus, were
acquainted with the book, it is surprising that no trace of their
familiarity with it has been found; and that the former should have
sought to authenticate the secret doctrine he professed to have received
by the name of Matthew or Matthias instead of John. It deserves remark,
that the citations preserved by our author are made, like those of
Justin Martyr, as from an anonymous writing, without mentioning the name
of the Evangelist; a circumstance less surprising in reference to the
Synoptics alone, which present only varieties of the same fundamental
tradition, than when the fourth Gospel, so evidently the independent
production of a single mind, is thrown into the group. The Epistles of
Paul and the books of the Old Testament are frequently quoted by name;
and why this practice should invariably cease whenever the historical
work of an Apostle was in the hand, it is not easy to explain. The
Apocalypse is mentioned not without his name.[48]

For these reasons we are of opinion that the question about the date and
authenticity of the fourth Gospel is wholly unaffected by the
newly-discovered work. On this side, no new facilities are gained for
confuting the Tübingen theory. The most positive and startling fact
against it is presented from another direction. We know that the system
of Theodotus, which was Unitarian, was condemned by Victor in the last
decade of the second century.[49] Now Victor was the very pope to the
end of whose period, according to the followers of Artemon, their
monarchian faith was upheld in the Roman Church, and in the time of
whose successor was the first importation of the higher doctrine of the
Logos. On this complaint of the Artemonites, Baur and Schwegler lay
great stress; but is it not refuted by Victor's orthodox act of
expelling a Unitarian? Undoubtedly it would be so, _if_ Theodotus were
excommunicated precisely for his belief in the uni-personality of God.
But his scheme included many articles; and we know nothing of the
ground taken in the proceedings against him. There was one question,
however, which, however indifferent to us, was evidently very near to
the feelings of the early Church, and on which Theodotus separated
himself from the prevailing conceptions of his time,--viz. At what date
did the Christ, the Divine principle, become united with Jesus, the
human being? "At his baptism," replied Theodotus.[50] "Before his
birth," said the general voice of the Christians. We are disposed to
think _this_ was the obnoxious tenet which Victor construed into heresy;
and if so, the strife had no bearing upon the doctrine of the
personality of the Logos, which the pope and the heretic might both have
rejected. Of the Unitarianism of that time, it was no essential feature
to postpone till the baptism the heavenly element in Christ. We remember
no reason for supposing that the Artemonites did so, though Theodotus
did; and if they knew that the objection which had been fatal to him did
not apply to them, their claim of ancient and orthodox sanction for what
they held in common with him was not answered by pointing to his
condemnation for what was special to himself. But is there, it will be
asked, any evidence that the Roman Church attached importance to this
particular ingredient of the Theodotian scheme, so that their bishop
might feel impelled to visit it with ecclesiastical censure? We believe
there is, and _that_ too in the "Philosophumena." In the author's
confession of faith occurs a passage which produces at first a strange
impression upon a modern reader, and appears like a violence done to the
Gospel history. It affirms that Christ _passed through every stage of
human life_, that he might serve as the model to all. Nor is this idea a
personal whim of the writer; but is borrowed from his master, Irenæus,
who gives it in more detail, and winds it up with the assertion, that
Christ _lived to be fifty years old_.[51] Irenæus thus falsifies the
history to make good the moral; our presbyter, by respecting the
history, apparently invalidates the moral: for it can scarcely be said
of a life closed after thirty-one or thirty-two years, that it supplies
a rule πασα ἡλικιη; at least it would seem more natural to apologize for
its premature termination, than to lay stress on its absolute
completeness. The truth is, there was a certain, obnoxious tenet behind,
which these writers were anxious to contradict, and which their
assertion exactly meets,--viz. the very tenet of Theodotus, that the
Divine nature did not unite itself with the Saviour till his baptism.
Irenæus and his pupil could not endure this limitation of what was
highest in Christ to the interval between his first public preaching and
his crucifixion. They thought that in this way it was reduced to a mere
official investiture, not integral to his being, but externally
superinduced; and that such a conception deprived it of all its moral
significance. The union of the Logos with our nature was not a provision
for temporary inspiration or a forensic redemption; but was intended to
mould a life and shape a personal existence, according to the immaculate
ideal of humanity. To accomplish this intention it was necessary that
the Logos should never be absent from any part of his earthly being; but
should have claimed his person from the first, and by preoccupation have
neutralized the action of the natural (or psychic) element, throughout
all the years of his continuance among men. The anxiety of Irenæus's
school to put this interpretation on the manifestation of the Logos,
their determination to distinguish it, on the one hand, from the
_mediate_ communication of prophets as an _immediate_ presentation
(αυτοψει φανερωθηναι), and, on the other, from the _transient_ occupancy
of a ready-made man, as a _permanent_ and thorough-going incarnation
(σαρκωθηναι in opposition to φαντασια or τροπη), is apparent in their
whole language on this subject. In the Son, we are carried to the fresh
fountain-head of every kind of perfection, and find the unspoiled ideal
of heavenly and terrestrial natures. In one of the fragments of
Hippolytus, published by Mai, and noticed in M. Bunsen's Appendix, this
notion is conveyed by the remark, that He is first-born of God's own
essence, that he may have precedence of angels; first-born of a virgin,
that he may be a fresh-created Adam; first-born of death, that he might
become the first fruits of our resurrection.[52] This doctrine it is, we
apprehend, which amplifies itself into the Irenæan statement, that the
divine and ideal function of Christ coalesced with the historical
throughout, so that to infants he was a consecrating infant; to little
children, a consecrating child; to youth, a consecrating model of youth;
and to elders, a still consecrating rule, not only by disclosure of
truth, but by exhibiting the true type of their perfection.[53] The
teaching of Theodotus, that the heavenly εικων remained at a distance
till the baptism, was directly contradictory of this favorite notion;
and might well produce hostile excitement, and provoke condemnation, in
a church where the Irenæan influence is known to have been powerful. The
attitude that Victor assumed towards the Theodotians is thus perfectly
compatible with Monarchian opinions, and with an attitude equally
hostile, in the opposite direction, towards the advancing Trinitarian
claims of a distinct personality for the Logos. Though only the one
hostility is recorded of Victor, the other is ascribed, as we have seen,
to his immediate successors, Zephyrinus and Callistus, who maintained
that it was no other person than the Father that dwelt as the Logos in
the Son. The facts taken together, and spreading as they do over the
periods of three popes, afford undeniable traces of a struggle at the
turn of the second century, between a prevalent but threatened
Monarchianism, and a new doctrine of the Divine Personality of the Son.

After all, why is M. Bunsen so anxious to disprove the late appearance
of the fourth Gospel? Did he value it chiefly as a biographical sketch,
and depend upon it for concrete facts, a first-hand authentication of
its contents would be of primary moment. But his interest in it is
evidently speculative rather than historical, and centres upon its
doctrinal thought, not on its narrative attestation; and especially
singles out the proem as a condensed and perfect expression of Christian
ontology. The book speaks to him, and finds him, out of its mystic
spiritual depths; sanctifies his own philosophy; glorifies with an ideal
haze the greatest reality of history; blends with melting tints the
tenderness of the human, and the sublimity of the divine life; and
presents the Holy Spirit as immanent in the souls of the faithful and
the destinies of humanity. But its enunciation of great truths, its
penetration to the still sanctuary of devout consciousness, will not
cease to be facts, or become doubtful as merits, or be changed in their
endearing power, by an alteration in the superscription or the date.
These religious and philosophical features converse directly with Reason
and Conscience, and have the same significance, whatever their critical
history may be; and are not the less rich as inspirations from having
passed for interpretation through more minds than one. There is neither
common sense nor piety, as M. Bunsen himself, we feel certain, will
allow, in the assumption that Revelation is necessarily most perfect at
its source, and can only grow earthy and turbid as it flows. Were it
something entirely foreign to the mind, capable of holding no thought in
solution, but inevitably spoiled by every abrasion it effects of
philosophy and feeling, this mechanical view would be correct. But if it
be the intenser presence, the quickened perception of a Being absent
from none; if it be the infinite original of which philosophy is the
finite reflection; if thus it speaks, not in the unknown tongue of
isolated ecstasy, but in the expressive music of our common
consciousness and secret prayer;--then is it so little unnatural, so
related to the constitution of our faculties, that the mind's continuous
reaction on it may bring it more clearly out; and, after being detained
at first amid sluggish levels and unwholesome growths which mar its
divine transparency, it may percolate through finer media, drop its
accidental admixtures, and take up in each stratum of thought some
elements given it by native affinity, and become more purely the spring
of life in its descent than in its source. If, before the fourth Gospel
was written, the figure of Christ, less close to the eye, was seen more
in its relations to humanity and to God; if his deep hints, working in
the experience of more than one generation, had expanded their
marvellous contents; if, in a prolonged contact of his religion with
Hellenism, elements had disclosed themselves of irresistible sympathy,
and the first sharp boundary drawn by Jewish hands had melted away; if
his concrete history itself was now subordinate to its ideal
interpretation;--the book will present us still with a Christianity, not
impoverished, but enriched. In proportion as its thoughts speak for
themselves by their depth and beauty, may all anxiety cease about their
external legitimation; their credentials become eternal instead of
individual; and where the Father himself thus beareth witness, Christ
needeth not the testimony of man. It cannot be, therefore, any religious
issue that depends on the date of this Christian record; it cannot
_make_ truth, it can only awaken the mind to discern it; and whether it
has this power or not, the mind can only report according to its
consciousness of quickening light or stagnant darkness. The interest of
this question cannot surely be more than a _critical_ interest, to one
who can feel and speak in this noble strain:--

"No divine authority is given to any set of men to make truth for
mankind. The supreme judge is the Spirit in the Church, that is to
say, in the universal body of men professing Christ. The universal
conscience is God's highest interpreter. If Christ speaks truth, his
words must speak to the human reason and conscience, whenever and
wherever they are preached: let them, therefore, be preached. If the
Gospels contained inspired wisdom, they must themselves inspire with
heavenly thoughts the conscientious inquirer and the serious thinker:
let them, therefore, freely be made the object of inquiry and of
thought. Scripture, to be believed true with full conviction, must be
at one with reason: let it, therefore, be treated rationally. By
taking this course, we shall not lose strength; but we shall gain a
strength which no church ever had. There is strength in Christian
discipline, if freely accepted by those who are to submit to it; there
is strength in spiritual authority, if freely acknowledged by those
who care for Christ; there is strength unto death in the enthusiasm of
an unenlightened people, if sincere, and connected with lofty moral
ideas. But there is no strength to be compared with that of a faith
which identifies moral and intellectual conviction with religious
belief, with that of an authority instituted by such a faith, and of a
Christian life based upon it, and striving to Christianize this world
of ours, for which Christianity was proclaimed. Let those who are
sincere, but timid, look into their conscience, and ask themselves
whether their timidity proceeds from faith, or whether it does not
rather betray a want of faith. Europe is in a critical state,
politically, ecclesiastically, socially. Where is the power able to
reclaim a world, which, if it be faithless, is become so under
untenable and ineffective ordinances,--which, if it is in a state of
confusion, has become confused by those who have spiritually guided
it? Armies may subdue liberty; but armies cannot conquer ideas: much
less can Jesuits and Jesuitical principles restore religion, or
superstition revive faith. I deny the prevalence of a destructive and
irreligious spirit in the hearts of the immense majority of the
people. I believe that the world wants, not less, but more religion.
But however this be, I am firmly convinced that God governs the world,
and that he governs it by the eternal ideas of truth and justice
engraved on our conscience and reason; and I am sure that nations, who
have conquered, or are conquering, civil liberty for themselves, will
sooner or later as certainly demand liberty of religious thought, and
that those whose fathers have victoriously acquired religious liberty
will not fail to demand civil and political liberty also. With these
ideas, and with the present irresistible power of communicating ideas,
what can save us except religion, and therefore Christianity? But then
it must be a Christianity based upon that which is eternally God's
own, and is as indestructible and as invincible as he is himself: it
must be based upon Reason and Conscience, I mean reason spontaneously
embracing the faith in Christ, and Christian faith feeling itself at
one with reason and with the history of the world. Civilized Europe,
as it is at present, will fall; or it will be pacified by this
liberty, this reason, this faith. To prove that the cause of
Protestantism in the nineteenth century is identical with the cause of
Christianity, it is only necessary to attend to this fact; that they
both must sink and fall, until they stand upon their indestructible
ground, which, in my inmost conviction, is the real, genuine, original
ground upon which Christ placed it. Let us, then, give up all notions
of finding any other basis, all attempts to prop up faith by effete
forms and outward things: let us cease to combat reason, whenever it
contradicts conventional forms and formularies. We must take the
ground pointed out by the Gospel, as well as by the history of
Christianity. We may then hope to realize what Christ died for, to see
the Church fulfil the high destinies of Christianity, and God's will
manifested by Christ to mankind, so as to make the kingdoms of this
earth the kingdoms of the Most High."--p. 172.

We have given our readers no conception of the variety and richness of
M. Bunsen's work; having scarcely passed beyond the limits of the
first volume. It was impossible to pass by, without examination, the
recovered monument of early Christianity, whence his materials and
suggestions are primarily drawn; and it is equally impossible to pass
beyond it, without entering on a field too wide to be surveyed. We can
only record that, in the remaining volumes, which are, in fact, a
series of separate productions, the early doctrine of the Eucharist is
investigated, and the progress of its corruptions strikingly traced;
the primitive system of ecclesiastical rules or canons, and the
"Church-and-House Book," or manual of instruction and piety in use
among the ante-Nicene Christians, are carefully and laboriously
restored; and genuine Liturgies of the first centuries are reproduced.
In this arduous work of recovery, there is necessarily much need of
critical tact, not to say much room for critical conjecture. But the
one our author exercises with great felicity; and the other he takes
all possible pains to reduce to its lowest amount by careful
comparison of Syrian, Coptic, and Abyssinian texts. The general result
is a truly interesting set of sketches for a picture of the early
Church; which rises before us with no priestly pretensions, no
scholastic creeds, no bibliolatry, dry and dead; but certainly with an
aspect of genuine piety and affection, and with an air of mild
authority over the whole of life, which are the more winning from the
frightful corruption and dissolving civilization of the Old World
around. That our author should be fascinated with the image he has
re-created, and long to see it brought to life, in place of that body
of death on which we hang the pomps and titles of our nominal
Christianity, is not astonishing. But a greater change is
needed--though a far less will be denied--than a return to the type of
faith and worship in the second century. To destroy the fatal chasm
between profession and conviction, and bring men to live fresh out of
a real reverence instead of against a pretended or a fancied one, a
greater latitude and flexibility must be given to the forms of
spiritual culture than was needed in the ancient world. The unity of
system which was once possible is unseasonable amid our growing
varieties of condition and culture; and the methods which were natural
among a people closely thrown together and constructing their life
around the Church as a centre, would be highly artificial in a state
of society in which the family is the real unit, and the congregation
a precarious aggregate, of existence. Nothing, however, can be finer
or more generous than the spirit of our author's suggestions of
reform; and we earnestly thank him for a profusion of pregnant
thoughts and faithful warnings, the application of one half of which
would change the fate of our churches,--the destiny of our
nation,--the courses of the world.


[26] τοις μεν ευ πραξασι δικαιως την αιδιου απολαυσιν παρασχοντος, ταις
δε των φαυλων ερασταις την αιωνιον κολασιν απονει μαντος. Και τουτοις
μεν το πυρ ασβεστον διαμενει και ατελευτετον, σκωλεξ δε τις εμπυρος, μη
τελευτων, μηδε σωμα διαφθειρων, απαυστω δε οδυνη εκ σωματος εκβρασσων
παραμενει. Τουτους ουχ υπνος αναπαυσει, ου νυξ παρηγορησει, ου θανατος
της κολασεως απολυσει, ου παρακλησις συγγενων μεσιτευσαντων ονησει. S.
Hippol. adv. Græcos. Fabricii Hipp. Op. p. 222.

[27] Euseb. H. E., VI. 20.

[28] Attributed to him by Neander, Kirch. Geschichte, I. iii. 1150;
and Schwegler, Montanismus, p. 224.

[29] Storr places him at their head, Zweck der Evang. Geschichte, p. 63;
and Eichhorn associates him with them, Einleitung in das N. T., II. 414.

[30] See the notice of the Nestorian Ebed Jesu, in Asseman's Bibl.
Orient. III. i. ap. Gieseler, k. 9, § 63.

[31] On their relation, and the doctrine connected with their names,
see Baur's "Christl. Gnosis," p. 310.

[32] Phot. Biblioth., cod. 48. ὡς και αυτος (i. e. Γαιος) εν τω τελει
του λαβυρινθου διεμαρτυρατο, ἑαυτου ειναι τον περι της του παντος
ουσιας λογον.

[33] Theologische Jahrbücher, 12er Band, I. 1853, p. 154.

[34] Hæret. Fab. II. c. 5. Κατα της τουτων ὁ σμικρος συνεγραφη
λαβυρινθος, ὁν τινες Ωριγενους ὑπολαμβανουσι ποιημα · αλλ ὁ χαρακτηρ
ελεγχει τους λεγοντας.

[35] He also describes its exact relation to the other, when he calls
it a _special_ work (ι δ ι ω ς) in comparison with "The Labyrinth" as
a general one: συνταξαι δε και ἑτερον λογον ιδιως κατα της Αρτεμωνος
αιρεσεως. Cod. 48.

[36] Ibid. ὡσπερ και τον Λαβυρινθον τινες επεγραψαν Ωριγενους.

[37] Biblioth. cod. 48; Lardner's "Credibility," Part II. ch. xxxii.;
Bunsen's Hippolytus, I. p. 150.

[38] Euseb. H. E., III. 28. αλλα και Κηρινθος, ὁ δι αποκαλυψεων ὡς ὑπο
αποστολου μεγαλου γεγραμμενων τερατολογιας ημιν ὡς δι αγγελων αυτω
δεδειγμενας ψευδομενος επεισαγει, λεγων, μετα την αναστασιν επιγειον
ειναι το βασιλειον του Χριστου, και παλιν επιθυμιαις και ἡδοναις εν
Ἱερουσαλημ την σαρκα πολιτευομενην δουλευειν. και εχθρος ὑπαρχων ταις
γραφαις του θεου αριθμον χιλιονταετιας εν γαμω ἑορτης θελων πλαναν λεγει
γινεσθαι. The passage, preserving its obscurities, seems to run thus:
"Cerinthus too, through the medium of revelations written as if by a
great Apostle, has palmed off upon us marvellous accounts, pretending to
have been shown him by angels; to the effect that, after the
resurrection, the kingdom of Christ will be an earthly one, and that the
flesh will again be at the head of affairs, and serve in Jerusalem the
lusts and pleasures of sense. And with wilful misguidance he says,
setting himself in opposition to the Scriptures of God, that a period of
a thousand years will be spent in nuptial festivities." On this
much-controverted passage, Lardner (Cred., P. II. ch. xxxii.) suspends
his judgment, rather inclining to doubt whether our Apocalypse is
referred to; Hug (Einl. § 176), Paulus (Hist. Cerinth., P. I. § 30),
with Twells and Hartwig (whose criticisms we have not seen), deny that
the Apocalypse is meant; while Eichhorn (Einl. in das N. T., VI. v. §
194. 2), De Wette (Lehrbuch der Einl. in d. N. T., § 192 a), Lücke
(Commentar üb. d. Schriften des Ev. Johannes, Offenb. § 33), and
Schwegler (Das nachapost. Zeitalter, 2er B. p. 218), take the other
side. It must be confessed also, that, till the rise of the present
discussion about the "Philosophoumena," Baur agreed with these last
writers. (See his Christl. Lehre v. d. Dreieinigkeit, 1er B. p. 283.) He
now urges, however, that, in a case already so doubtful, the discovery
of a lost book, which we have good reason to ascribe to Caius,
necessarily brings in new evidence, and may turn the scale between two
balanced interpretations. (Theol. Jahrb., p. 157.)

[39] Baur explains the slight treatment of the Montanist heresy in the
"Philosophumena" by the intention which Caius already had of writing a
special book against them: and contends that this intention is
announced expressly in the words (p. 276), περι τουτων αυθις
λεπτομερεστερον εκθησομαι · πολλοις γαρ αφορμη κακων γεγενηται ἡ
τουτων αιρεσις. These words, however, do not refer, as the connection
evidently shows, to the Montanists generally; but only to a certain
class of them who fell in with the patripassian doctrine of Noctus.
The Noctian scheme Caius was going to discuss further on in this very
book: and it is evidently to this later chapter, not to any separate
work against Montanism, that he alludes.

[40] The word is perhaps not allowable in speaking of the earliest
time (the reign of Alexander Severus) assignable for the erection of
separate buildings appropriate to Christian worship.

[41] To Hippolytus and the writers of his period, Dorner ascribes the
latter, preponderantly over the former, side of this alternative;
while Hänell charges their view with Sabellianism. See Dorner's
"Entwickelungsgeschichte der Lehre von der Person Christi," I. p. 611,

[42] "Tert. adv. Prax.," c. 3.

[43] Euseb. H. E., V. 28.

[44] See Adolph Schliemann's "Clementinen, nebst den verwandten
Schriften und der Ebionitismus," Cap. III. ii. §§ 8, 9.

[45] M. Bunsen must have some authority which has escaped our memory for
attributing to "the whole school of Tübingen" the opinion "that the
fourth Gospel was written about the year 165 or 170." (I. v.) We cannot
call to mind any criticism which assigns so late a date. Schwegler uses
various expressions to mark the time to which he refers; e. g. "about
the middle of the second century" (Nachapost. Zeitalter, II. 354, and
Montanismus, p. 214); "intermediate between the Apologists and Irenæus"
(II. 369); "previous to the last third of the second century" (II. 348);
"in the second quarter of the second century" (II. 345). Zeller also
fixes on the year 150 as the time when the Gospel may probably have
first appeared. (Zeller's Jahrb., 1845, p. 646.)

[46] The earliest testimony is that of Apollinaris, of Hierapolis in
Phrygia, preserved in the "Paschal Chronicle," probably about A. D.

[47] We will give, from this very section on Basilides, and its
subsequent recapitulation, three examples of the irregular mode of
citation to which we refer: (_a_) of the singular verb with plural
subject expressed; (_b_) of plural verb with singular subject expressed;
(_c_) of the mixture of singular and plural subjects in the same
sentence, so that the affirmation belongs indeterminately to either.

(_a_) Ιδωμεν ουν πως καταφανως Βασιλειδης ὁμου και Ισιδωρος και πας ὁ
τουτων χορος, ουχ ἁπλως καταψευδεται μονου Ματθαιου, αλλα γαρ και του
Σωτηρος αυτου. Ην, φησιν, ὁτε ην ουδεν, κ. τ. λ.--p. 230.

(_b_) Βασιλειδης δε και αυτος λεγει ειναι θεον ουκ οντα, πεποιημενον
κοσμον εξ ουκ οντων, ... η ὡς ωον ταου εχον εν ἑαυτω την των χρωματων
ποικιλην πληθυν, και τουτο ειναι φασι το του κοσμου σπερμα, κ. τ.
λ.--p. 320.

(_c_) και δεδοικε τας κατα προβολην των γεγονοτων ουσιας ὁ Βασιλειδης
... αλλα ειπε, φησι, και εγενετο, και τουτο εστιν ὁ λεγουσιν οι ανδρες
ουτοι, το λεχθεν ὑπο Μωσεως, "Γενηθητω φως, και εγενετο φως." Ποθεν,
φησι, γεγονε το φως; ... Γεγονε, φησιν, εξ ουκ οντων το σπερμα του
κοσμου, ὁ λογος ὁ λεχθεις γενηθητω φως, και τουτο, φησιν, εστι το
λεγομενον εν τοις Ευαγγελιοις. "Ην το φως το αληθινον, ὁ φωτιζει παντα
ανθρωπον ερχομενον εις τον κοσμον."--p. 232. Now can any one decide
whether this comment on the "Let there be light, and there was light,"
with its applications to John i. 9, proceeds from "Basilides" or from
"these men"?

[48] Page 528.

[49] Euseb. H. E., V. 28.

[50] "Philosophumena," p. 258.

[51] Iren. Lib. II. c. 39.

[52] I. p. 341.

[53] The words of the author of the "Philosophumena" are these: Τουτυν
εγνωμεν εκ παρθενου σωμα ανειληφοτα και τον παλαιον ανθρωπον δια
καινης πλασεως πεφορηκοτα, εν βιω δια πασης ἡλικιας εληλυθοτα, ινα
παση ἡλικια αυτος νομος γενηθη και σκοπον τον ιδιον ανθρωπον πασιν
ανθρωποις επιδειξη παρων, και δι αυτου ελεγξη ὁτι μηδεν εποιησεν ὁ
θεος πονηρον.--p. 337.


    1. _The Creed of Christendom; its Foundations and Superstructure._
    By WILLIAM RATHBONE GREG. London: Chapman. 1851.

    2. _St. Paul's Epistles to the Corinthians; an Attempt to convey
    their Spirit and Significance._ By JOHN HAMILTON THOM. London:
    Chapman. 1851.

These two books are placed together without the least intention to
intimate a resemblance between them, or to represent either author as
sharing in the conclusions of the other. They are, indeed, concerned
with opposite sides of the same subject; viewed, moreover, from the
separate stations of the layman and the divine; and are the expression
of strongly contrasted modes of thought. Mr. Greg deals principally
with the external vehicle of the primitive Christianity; Mr. Thom with
its internal essence. The one seeks in vain for any outward title in
the records to suppress the operations of natural reason; the other
clears away from the interior every interference with the free action
of conscience and affection. The one, in the name of science,
demolishes the outworks of ecclesiastical logic with which the shrine
of faith has been dangerously guarded: the other, in the name of
Christ, expels both priest and dogma from the sanctuary itself. The
one, selecting deep truths from the words of Jesus, would construct
religion into a philosophy; the other, with eye upon His person as an
image of perfect goodness, would develop it from a sentiment. As all
opposites, however, are embraced in the circumference of the same
circle, so are these works complements of each other. Mr. Greg, in
common with the Catholics and the Unitarians, evidently looks for the
strength of Christianity in the Gospels; Mr. Thom, with the majority
of Protestants, in the Epistles. For want of some mediating harmony
between the two, each perhaps requires some correction: the historical
picture of Christ saved by the former is but a pale and meagre
outline; while the Pauline ideal presented by the latter is a glow of
rich but undefined coloring. Mr. Greg, who, in spite of particular
errors, manifests a large knowledge and a masterly judgment in his
criticism of the Evangelists, appears to have, in his own sympathies,
no way of access to a mind like that of Paul, and to be much at fault
in estimating the place of the Apostle both as a witness and a power
in the organization of Christian tradition and doctrine. Had the
acuteness and severity of his understanding been a little more
qualified by such reflective depth and moral tenderness as Mr. Thom
brings to the work of interpretation, his religion, we fancy, would
have retained a less slender remnant of the primitive Christianity.

Measured by the standard of common Protestantism, there can be no
doubt that the second of these books would be condemned for heresy,
and the first for unbelief. These ugly words, however, have been too
often applied to what is fullest of truth and faith, to express more
than a departure, which weak men feel to be irritating, from a
favorite type of thought. They have lost their effect on all who are
competent to meditate on the great problems of religion, and are fast
taking their place in the scandalous vocabulary of professional
polemics. It is a thing offensive to _just_ men when divines, who have
succeeded in smothering, or been too dull to entertain, doubts which
rend the soul of genius and faithfulness, and insist on a veracious
answer, meet them, not with sympathy, still less with mastery, but
with the commonplaces of incompetent pity and holy malediction. And
the offence is doubled in the eyes of _instructed_ men, who know the
state to which Biblical criticism has brought the theology of the
Reformation. It is notorious that, in the revolt from Rome, the
Scriptures--like a dictator suddenly created for the perils of a
crisis--were forced into a position where it was impossible for them
permanently to repose; that they cannot be treated as infallible
oracles of either fact or doctrine, and were never meant to bear the
weight of such unnatural claims; that the authority once concentrated
in them, and held even _against_ the reason and conscience, must now
be distributed, and ask their concurrence. These are not questionable
positions, but so irresistibly established, that learning of the
highest order would no more listen to an argument against them, than
Herschel or Airy to a disquisition against the rotation of the earth.
When a clergyman, therefore, treats them with horror, and denounces
them as infidelity, he produces no conviction, except that he himself
is either ill-informed or insincere. Professional reproaches against a
book so manly and modest, so evidently truth-loving, so high-minded
and devout, as this of Mr. Greg's, are but a melancholy imbecility. We
may hold to many things which he resigns; we may think him wrong in
the date of a Gospel or the construction of a miracle; we may even
dissent from his estimate of the grounds of immortal hope and the ways
of eternal Providence: but we do not envy, and cannot understand, the
religion which can feel no thankful communion with thought so
elevated, and trust so sound and real. No candid reader of the "Creed
of Christendom" can close the book without the secret acknowledgment
that it is a model of honest investigation and clear exposition; that
it is conceived in the true spirit of serious and faithful research;
and that whatever the author wants of being an ecclesiastical
Christian is plainly not essential to the noble guidance of life, and
the devout earnestness of the affections.

It is highly honorable to an English layman, amid the pressure of
affairs, to take up a class of critical inquiries, which the clergy seem
to have abandoned for a narrower and more passionate polemic. It is a
remarkable characteristic of the present age, that, when the most
startling attacks are made upon the very foundations of existing
churches, nobody repels them. Nothing is offered to break their effect,
except the inertia of the mass that rests upon the base assailed. For
every great sceptical work of the last century there was some score of
reputable answers; but half a dozen books of the same tendency have
appeared within a few years, all of which have been copiously reviewed,
have spread excitement over a wide surface, and set an immense amount of
theological hair on end, but not one of which has received any adequate
reply. Yet the slightest of these productions would favorably compare,
in all the requisites for successful persuasion,--in learning, in
temper, in acuteness,--with the best of the last age, excepting only the
philosophical disquisitions of Hume and the ecclesiastical chapters of
Gibbon. The first in time,--Hennell's "Inquiry into the Origin of
Christianity,"--though the most open to refutation, was permitted to
pass through an unmolested existence; and its influence, considerable in
itself, and increased by the sweet and truthful character of the author,
is still traceable in the pages of Mr. Greg. To the effect of Strauss's
extraordinary work, the good Neander's _Leben Jesu_ offers but a mild
resistance, and is itself, through the extent of its concessions, an
open proclamation that the problems of theology can never be restored to
the state in which all churches assume them to be. Parker was
excommunicated by his sect; but his "Discourse of Matters pertaining to
Religion" has walked the course unchallenged, and displayed the splendor
of its gifts, within the entire lines of the English language. Newman,
Foxton, and Greg have since entered their names on the _index
expurgatorius_ of Orthodoxy; but they also will be simply excluded from
the sacred circle of readers bound over not to think; and, beyond this,
will make their converts undisturbed, and accumulate fresh charges of
threatening power in the intellectual atmosphere which surrounds the
Church. Whence this pusillanimous apathy? Is it forgotten that creeds
always assailed and never defended are sure to perish? Or is it felt
that the defence, to be sound and strong, must be so partial--so limited
to points of detail--as to promise a mere diversion, instead of a
repulse, and be more dangerous than the attitude of passiveness? Or does
the Church resignedly give up her hold on the class of earnest,
intellectual men who cannot degrade religion into a second-hand
tradition, but must "know what they worship"? Certain it is that her
whole activity has long abandoned this class, and addressed itself
exclusively to the narrower and lower order of mind, whose vision is
bounded by the periphery of a given creed, and whose life is satisfied
with the squabbles and the gossip of articles forced into neighborhood,
but no longer on speaking terms. If the efficacy of "holy orders" is
called in question, streams of sacerdotal refutation flow from the
press; but if the inspiration of the twelve Apostles is denied, it is a
thing that neither bishop nor priest will care to vindicate. If a word
of mistake is uttered about the drops of water on the face of a baptized
baby, it conjures up a storm that rolls from diocese to diocese; but if
you say that pure religion has no rite or sacrament at all, the
ecclesiastic atmosphere remains still as a Quaker's silent meeting. The
deepest interest is felt about the origin of liturgies, and the history
of articles, but nobody heeds the most staggering evidence that three of
the Gospels are second-hand aggregations of hearsay reports, and the
fourth of questionable authenticity. You deny the self-consistency of
the Church of England and call it a compromise; and the sudden rustle of
gowns and sleeves proclaims a great sensation. You analyze the accounts
of Christ's resurrection; you ask whether they are not discrepant; you
point out that, apparently, the oldest record (Mark's) contained, in its
original form, no account of the event at all, and that the others bear
seeming traces of distinct and incompatible traditions. You cry aloud
for help in this perplexity, and hold yourselves ready to follow any
vestiges of truth; and, except that the creeds are still muttered every
Sunday, all the oracles are dumb. If you want to find the true magic
pass into heaven, scores of rival professors press round you with
obtrusive supply: if you ask in your sorrow, Who can tell me whether
there be a heaven at all? every soul will keep aloof and leave you
alone. All men that bring from God a fresh, deep nature, all in whom
religious wants live with eager power, and who yet are too clear of soul
to unthink a thought and falsify a truth, receive in these days no help
and no response. The Church feels its interest, as an _educated_
corporation, to consist in overlaying and covering up the foundations of
faith with huge piles of curious learning, history, and art, which, by
affording endless occupation, may detain men from search after the
living rock, or notice of the undermining flood. And, as an
_established_ corporation, she relies on the lazy conservatism of mental
possession; on the dislike felt by the comfortable classes towards the
trouble of thought and the disturbance of feeling, and their usual
willingness to hand over these operations to the prayer-book and the
priest. We are grateful to Mr. Greg for shaking this ignoble and
precarious reliance, which he notices in these admirable sentences.

"A more genuine and important objection to the consequences of our
views is felt by indolent minds on their own account. They shrink from
the toil of working out truth for themselves out of the materials
which Providence has placed before them. They long for the precious
metal, but loathe the rude ore out of which it has to be extricated by
the laborious alchemy of thought. A ready-made creed is the paradise
of their lazy dreams. A string of authoritative, dogmatic propositions
comprises the whole mental wealth which they desire. The volume of
nature--the volume of history--the volume of life--appall and terrify
them. Such men are the materials out of whom good catholics of all
sects are made. They form the uninquiring and submissive flocks which
rejoice the hearts of all priesthoods. Let such cling to the faith of
their forefathers, if they can. But men whose minds are cast in a
nobler mould, and are instinct with a diviner life,--who love truth
more than rest, and the peace of Heaven rather than the peace of
Eden,--to whom 'a loftier being brings severer cares,'--

      'Who know man does not live by joy alone,
       But by the presence of the power of God,'--

such must cast behind them the hope of any repose or tranquillity,
save that which is the last reward of long agonies of thought; they
must relinquish all prospect of any heaven, save that of which
tribulation is the avenue and portal; they must gird up their loins
and trim their lamp for a work which cannot be put by, and which must
not be negligently done. 'He,' says Zschokke, 'who does not like
living in the _furnished lodgings of tradition_, must build his own
house, his own system of thought and faith for himself.'"--p. 242.

The work of Mr. Greg derives its interest, not from anything in it
that will be new to the studious theologian, but from the freshness
and force with which it presents the results of the author's reading
and reflection on both the claims and the contents of Scripture.
Adopting the ordinary notion of "inspiration," as equivalent to a
supernaturally provided "infallibility," he reviews and condemns the
reasonings by which this attribute has been associated with the Bible;
and decides that the mere discovery of a statement in the Scriptures
is no sufficient reason for our implicit reception of it. Having
cleared away this obstacle to all intelligent criticism, he pursues
his way, chiefly under the guidance of De Wette, through the earlier
literature of the Hebrews; and adds another to the many exposures of
the humiliating attempts, on the part of English divines, to reconcile
the cosmogony of Genesis with modern science; attempts which we should
call obsolete, did we not remember that Buckland and Whewell are both
living, and have not yet attained the episcopal bench. Mr. Greg adopts
the views of which Baur is the best known recent expositor, but which
Lessing long ago traced out, as to the gradual formation of the Hebrew
monotheism; and shows the striking contrast between the family Jehovah
of the Patriarchs and the universal God of the later Prophets.
Whatever be the origin of the doctrine of a Messiah, and under
whatever varieties it appeared, it never pointed, the author
conceives, to such a person as Jesus of Nazareth, or such a product as
the Christian Church; and it is only by perverse interpretations,
unendurable out of the field of theology, that any passages in the Old
Testament can be made out to prefigure the events in the New. In the
argument, therefore, between the early missionaries of the Gospel and
the unconvinced Jews, Mr. Greg maintains that the latter were the more
faithful to their sacred books. The phenomena of the first three
Gospels are next examined sufficiently to explain the several
hypotheses respecting the order and materials of their composition.
The author rests on Schleiermacher's conclusion, that a number of
fragmentary records of incident and discourse formed the groundwork,
partly common, partly exclusive, of the triple Evangile. He thus
removes us, in this portion of the Scriptures, from first-hand
testimony altogether; and throws upon internal criticism the task of
discriminating between the original and reliable elements on the one
hand, and those on the other which did not escape the accidents of
floating tradition and the coloring of later ideas. This delicate task
the author attempts; and manifests throughout an acquaintance with the
methods and models of the higher criticism, fully qualifying him to
form the independent judgment which he sums up in these words:--

"In conclusion, then, it appears certain that in all the synoptical
Gospels we have events related that did not really occur, and words
ascribed to Jesus which Jesus did not utter; and that many of these
words and events are of great significance. In the great majority of
these instances, however, this incorrectness does not imply any want
of honesty on the part of the Evangelists, but merely indicates that
they adopted and embodied, without much scrutiny or critical acumen,
whatever probable and honorable narratives they found current in the
Christian community."--p. 137.

The peculiarities of the fourth Gospel are next dealt with: its apparent
polemic reference to the gnosis of the first and second centuries; its
absence of demoniacs and parables; the length, the mysticism, the dogma
of its discourses, and their uniformity of complexion with the
historian's own narrative and reflections; the narrowness of its
charity, and the apocryphal appearance of its "first miracle." Without
questioning the probability that within the contents of this Gospel is
secreted a nucleus of facts, Mr. Greg thinks the book so clearly imbued
throughout with the writer's idiosyncrasy, as to be inferior in
historical value to the Synoptics; and the discourses of Jesus, in
particular, must be regarded as free compositions by the Evangelist. In
our author's management of this subject there seems to us to be an
unfavorable change. The style of thought peculiar to John, as well as
that characteristic of Paul, lies out of the latitude native to him; and
with every intention to be just in his appreciation, he fails, we think,
to reach the point of sympathy from which the fourth Gospel should be
judged. The realism of his mind makes him a better critic of the hard
Judaical element of the Christian Scriptures, with its objective
distinctness and its moral beauty, than of the more ideal Gentile
ingredients, where a subjective dialectic traces forms of thought in the
intense fires of spiritual consciousness.

In a separate discussion of the question of miracles they are restored
to the subordinate position, as compared with moral evidence, assigned
to them by the early Protestant divines. Adopting the position of
Locke, that "the miracles are to be judged by the doctrines, and not
the doctrines by the miracles," he can admit with the less pain his
conviction, that, even in the instance of the resurrection of Jesus,
the historical evidence is too conflicting and uncertain to bear the
supernatural weight imposed upon it. He admits, indeed, that Jesus
_may_ have risen from the dead; the Apostles manifestly believed it;
and that the marked change in their character and conduct, from
despair to triumph, affords the strongest evidence of the sustaining
energy of this belief. But, in our ignorance of the grounds of this
belief, (the Gospels and book of Acts containing no correct or
first-hand report of the facts,) it is impossible, he conceives, to
form any rational estimate of their adequacy. In Mr. Greg's decision
on this important point, we see the effect of his entrance on the
problem of Christianity from the historical end. If, instead of
addressing himself first to the Gospels which lie most remote from the
source of the religion, and represent the latest and most constituted
form of the primitive tradition, he had begun with the earliest
remains of Christian literature, and traced the doctrine of the
resurrection from the Epistles of Paul into the story of the
Evangelists, we think he would have arrived at a different conclusion.
In dismissing the testimony of Paul as "of little weight," he throws
away the main evidence of the whole case. We can understand the critic
who, having put the miraculous entirely aside, as logically
inadmissible, makes light of the Pauline statements on this matter,
and appeals to their writer's openness to impressions of the
supernatural in proof of a certain vitiating unsoundness of mind. But
one who, like our author, regards this _à priori_ incredulity as an
unphilosophical prejudice, and upon whose list of real causes, never
precluded from possible action, supernatural power finds a place,
cannot consistently condemn another for believing in concrete
instances what he himself allows in the general; and put the Apostle
out of court, on the plea that we have no evidence but _his assertion_
of his intercourse with the risen Christ. Is not _his assertion_ the
only evidence possible of a subjective miracle? and is there any
ground for restricting supernatural agency to an objective direction?
No doubt, facts presented to external perception have the advantage of
being open to more witnesses than one; and if it be deliberately laid
down as a canon, that in no case can any anomalous event be admitted
on one man's declaration, we allow the consistency of refusing a
hearing to the Apostle. But such a rule would only be an example of
the futility of all attempts to reduce moral evidence to mathematical
expression. Facts of the most extraordinary nature have always been,
and will always be, received on solitary attestation; and if so, it
makes no logical difference whether they be called "objective," or
"subjective." A man has faculties for apprehending what passes within
him, as well as what passes without; nor do we know any ground for
trusting the latter which does not hold equally good for the former.
If it be said that the reporter of a miracle not only announces what
he sees or feels,--which we may accept on his veracity,--but proclaims
its supernatural source,--which we may repudiate from distrust of his
judgment,--the remark is perfectly just, only that it applies alike to
_all_ testimony, and not exclusively to miraculous reports. Our
disposition to receive the evidence of a witness assumed to be
veracious, depends on our having the same preconceptions of causation
with himself. In the ordinary affairs of life, this common ground is
sure to exist, and therefore remains a mere latent condition of
belief. But the slowness to admit a miracle arises from the failure of
this common ground; and if the hearer reserved in the background of
his mind, and in equal readiness for action, the same supernatural
power to which the witness's assertion refers, he would feel no more
temptation to incredulity than in listening to some matter of course.
The reluctance to believe, is proof that his store of causation is
limited to the natural sphere; and every phenomenon irreducible to
this drops away from all hold upon his mind. As there is no such thing
as a fact perceived without a judgment formed, so is there no belief
in the attestation of a fact without reliance on the soundness of a
judgment; and that reliance depends on the hearer having the same list
of causes in his mind as the witness. If, then, Mr. Greg holds, with
Paul, that the power exists whence a subjective miracle might issue,
and if from the nature of the case such miracle must remain a matter
of personal consciousness, why reject the Apostle's report of his
experience? In choosing from among the causes which both parties
admit, it cannot be denied that Paul alights upon that which, _if
there_, gives the easiest and most certain explanation; and to find a
satisfactory origin for his impressions and conduct in natural
agencies is so difficult, that critics would never attempt it, but to
escape the acknowledgment of miracle. On his own principles we do not
see how our author could excuse himself to the Apostle for rejecting
his testimony; which does but communicate, in the only conceivable
way, that which is allowed to be possible enough, and which best
clears up the mystery of an astonishing revolution in personal
character, and in the convictions of an earnest and powerful mind.

The whole question of miracles, however, loses its anxious importance
with those who, like our author, would still, amid their constant
occurrence, look to other sources for the credentials of moral and
religious truth. If anything is positively and incontrovertibly known
respecting the Apostles,--and in proportion as we trust the synoptical
Gospels must we allow Mr. Greg to extend the remark to their
Master,--it is this: that whatever powers they exercised, and whatever
communications they received, were inadequate to preserve them from
serious error; and from delivering to the world, as a substantive part
of their message, a most solemn expectation which was not to be
fulfilled. This fact, no longer denied by any reputable theologian,
alone shows that, even in the presence of the highest Christian
authority, the natural criteria of reason and conscience cannot be
dispensed with. In the application of these to the teachings and life
of Christ, our author finds, if not any truths of supernatural
dictation, at least the highest object of veneration and affection yet
given to this world.

"Now on this subject," he says, "we hope our confession of faith will
be acceptable to all save the narrowly orthodox. It is difficult,
without exhausting superlatives, even to unexpressive and wearisome
satiety, to do justice to our intense love, reverence, and admiration
for the character and teachings of Jesus. We regard him, not as the
perfection of the intellectual or philosophic mind, but as the
perfection of the spiritual character,--as surpassing all men of all
times in the closeness and depth of his communion with the Father. In
reading his sayings, we feel that we are holding converse with the
wisest, purest, noblest Being that ever clothed thought in the poor
language of humanity. In studying his life, we feel that we are
following the footsteps of the highest ideal yet presented to us upon
earth. 'Blessed be God that so much manliness has been lived out, and
stands there yet, a lasting monument to mark how high the tides of
divine life have risen in the world of man!'"--p. 227.

We differ altogether from our author in his notion of inspiration, and
his reduction of Christianity within the limits of human resource. But
we must say, that while there is such an estimate as this of what
Jesus Christ _was_, it is a matter of subordinate moment what is
thought about the mode in which he _became so_.

By a process of "Christian Eclecticism," Mr. Greg draws forth from the
Gospels the elements which he regards as characteristic of the
religion of Jesus; distinguishing those which make it the purest of
faiths from others which appear to him irreconcilable with a just
philosophy. The doctrine of a future life is reserved for a separate
discussion; the general result of which we know not how to describe,
otherwise than by saying that the author discards all the evidence and
yet retains the conclusion. All the arguments, metaphysical and moral,
for human immortality, he condemns as absolutely worthless; he
confesses that he has no new ones to propose; he affirms that all
appearances, without exception, proclaim the permanence of death, the
absence of any spiritual essence in man, and the absolute sway of the
laws of organization; yet, on the report of that very "soul" within
him, whose existence nature disowns, he holds the doctrine of a future
existence by the irresistible tenure of a first truth. We do not
wonder that the rigor with which Mr. Greg has pushed his principles
through other subjects of thought should relent at this point, and
refuse to cast the sublimest of human hopes over the brink of
darkness. We respect, as a holy abstinence, his refusal to silence the
pleadings of the inner voice. But we admire his faith more than his
philosophy; and are astonished that he does not suspect the soundness
of a scientific method which lands him in results he cannot hold. No
scepticism is so fatal,--for none has so wide a sweep,--as that which
despairs of the self-reconciliation of human nature; which flings
among our faculties the reproach of irretrievable contradiction; which
sets up first truths against deductions, conscience against science,
faith against logic. Ever since Kant balanced his Antinomies, and
employed the gravitation of _Practical_ reason to turn the irresolute
scales of the _Speculative_, this unwholesome practice has been
spreading, of assuming an ultimate discordance between co-existing
powers of the mind. In the language of rhetoric or poetry, in the
discussion of popular notions on morals and religion, it would be
hypercritical to complain of the antitheses of understanding and
feeling,--sense and soul. But to an exact thinker it must be apparent
that an ambidextrous intellect is no intellect at all; and that, were
this all our endowment, the life of the wisest would be but a chase
after mocking shadows of thought. The following words of our author,
with all their tranquil appearance, describe a state of things which,
were it real, might well strike us with dismay:--

"There are three points especially of religious belief, regarding
which intuition (or instinct) and logic are at variance,--the efficacy
of prayer, man's free-will, and a future existence. If believed, they
must be believed, the last without the countenance, the two former in
spite of the hostility of logic."--p. 303.

This is absolute Pyrrhonism, and though said in the interest of
religion, is subversive alike of knowledge and of faith. The pretended
"logic" can be good for very little, which comes out with so suicidal an
achievement as the _disproof of first truths_. The condition under which
alone logic can exist as a science is the unity in the human mind of the
laws of belief,--a condition which would be violated if any first truth
contradicted another in itself, or in its deductions. The moment,
therefore, such a contradiction turns up, a consistent thinker will
either regard it as a mere semblance, and proceed to re-examine his
premises, and test his reasoning; or he will treat it as real; and then
it throws contempt on logic altogether, and relegates it into
impossibility. In neither case can his reliance incline to the logical
side. Mr. Greg, however, sticks to his logic whenever, as in the two
cases mentioned in the foregoing extract, it loudly _negatives_ a point
of religious belief; and abandons it only where it restricts itself to
cold and dumb discouragement. A bolder distrust of _his_ logic, and a
firmer faith in the logic of nature, would perhaps have harmonized the
differing voices of the intellect and the soul, blending them in a faith
neither afraid to think nor ashamed to pray.

Had our author been as familiar with the Catholic and Arminian
divines, as with the literature of inductive science and Calvinistic
theology, he would have known that there is a philosophy from which
the religious intuitions encounter no repugnance; and would, at least,
have noticed its offer of mediation between Faith and Reason. He is,
however, entirely shut up within the formulas of a different school,
which press with their resistance on his religious feeling in every
direction, and produce a conflict which he can neither appease nor
terminate. With an intellect entirely overridden by the ideas of Law
and Necessity, no man can escape the force of the common objections to
any doctrine of prayer, or of forgiveness of sin; and if those ideas
possess universal validity, the very discussion of such doctrines is,
in the last degree, idle and absurd. But what if some mediæval
schoolman, or some impugner of the Baconian orthodoxy, were to suggest
that, though Law is coextensive with outward nature, Nature is not
coextensive with God, and that beyond the range where his agency is
bound by the pledge of predetermined rules lies an infinite margin,
where his spirit is free? And what if, in aggravation of his heresy,
he were to contend that Man also, as counterpart of God, belongs not
wholly to the realm of nature, but transcends it by a certain
endowment of free power in his spirit? Having made these assumptions,
on the ground that they were more agreeable to "intuitive" feeling,
and not less so to external evidence, than the one-sidedness of their
opposites, might he not suggest that room is now found for a doctrine
of prayer? Not that any event bespoken and planted in the sphere of
nature can be turned aside by the urgency of desire and devotion; not
that the slightest swerving is to be expected from the usages of
creation, or of the mind; wherever law is established--without us or
within us--there let it be absolute as the everlasting faithfulness.
But God has not spent himself wholly in the courses of custom, and
mortgaged his infinite resources to nature; nor has he closed up with
rules every avenue through which his fresh energy might find entrance
into life; but has left in the human soul a theatre whose scenery is
not all pre-arranged, and whose drama is ever open to new
developments. Between the free centre of the soul in man, and the free
margin of the activity of God, what hinders the existence of a real
and living communion, the interchange of look and answer, of thought
and counterthought? If, in response to human aspiration, a higher mood
is infused into the mind; if, in consolation of penitence or sorrow, a
gleam of gentle hope steals in; and if these should be themselves the
vivifying touch of divine sympathy and pity, what law is prejudiced?
what faith is broken? what province of nature has any title to
complain? And so, too, (might our mediæval friend continue,) with
respect to the doctrine of forgiveness. If men are under moral
obligation, and God is a being of moral perfection, he must regard
their unfaithfulness with disapproval. Of his sentiments, the clear
trace will be found in the various sufferings which constitute the
natural punishment of wrong. These are incorporated in the very
structure of the world and the constitution of life; and to
persistence in their infliction, the Supreme Ruler is committed by the
assurance of his constancy. They fasten on the guilty a chain which no
pardon will strike off, but which he will drag till it is worn away.
_Not all_ the divine sentiment, however, is embodied in the physical
consequences. Besides this determinate expression of his thought,
written out on the finite world, there is an unexpressed element
remaining behind, in his infinite nature: on the visible side of the
veil is the suggestive manifestation; on the invisible, is the very
affection manifested. There is a personal alienation, a forfeiture of
approach and sympathy, which would survive though creation were to
perish and carry its punishments away; and would still cast its black
shadow into empty space. This reserved sentiment, and this alone, is
affected by repentance. But it is no small thing for the heart of
shame to know this. The estrangement lasts no longer than the guilty
temper and the unsoftened conscience; and when, through its sorrow,
the mind is clear and pure, the sunshine of divine affection will
burst it again. In this the free Spirit of God is different from his
bound action in nature. Long after he himself has forgiven and
embraced again, necessity--the creature of his legislation--will
continue to wield the lash, and measure out with no relenting the
remainder of the penalty incurred; and he that yet drags his burden
and visibly limps upon his sin, may all the while have a heart at rest
with God. And thus is retribution--the reaping as we have sown--in no
contradiction with forgiveness,--the personal restoration.

How far such modes of thought as these would help to reconcile the
conflicting claims,--and how they would stand related to Mr. Greg's
terrible friend, "Logic," we do not pretend to decide. We refer to
them only as possible means of escaping--at least of postponing--his
desolating doctrine, that intuitions may tell lies; and in support of
our statement, that his theoretic view lies entirely within the circle
of a particular school,--a school, moreover, so little able to satisfy
his aspirations, that he is obliged to patch up a compromise between
his nature and his culture. The curious amalgamation which has taken
place in England, of the metaphysics of Calvin with the physics of
Bacon, has produced, in a large class, a philosophical tendency, with
which the distinctive sentiments of Christianity very uneasily
combine. The effacing of all lines separating the natural and moral,
the limitation of God to the realm of nature, and the subjugation of
all things to predestination, are among the chief features of this
tendency, and the chief obstacles to any concurrence between the
intellectual and the spiritual religion of the age.

If some of the elements in the early Christianity are too hastily
cancelled by our author, there is one sentiment whose inapplicability
to the present day he exposes with an irresistible force;--that
depreciating estimate of life which, however natural to Apostles
"impressed with the conviction that the world was falling to pieces,"
is wholly misplaced among those for whose office and work this earthly
scene is the appointed place. The exhortations of the Apostles,
"granting the premises, were natural and wise."

"But for divines in this day--when the profession of Christianity is
attended with no peril, when its practice, even, demands no sacrifice,
save that preference of duty to enjoyment which is the first law of
cultivated humanity--to repeat the language, profess the feelings,
inculcate the notions, of men who lived in daily dread of such awful
martyrdom, and under the excitement of such a mighty misconception; to
cry down the world, with its profound beauty, its thrilling interests,
its glorious works, its noble and holy affections; to exhort their
hearers, Sunday after Sunday, to detach their heart from the earthly
life, as inane, fleeting, and unworthy, and fix it upon heaven, as the
only sphere deserving the love of the loving or the meditation of the
wise,--appears to us, we confess, frightful insincerity, the enactment
of a wicked and gigantic lie. The exhortation is delivered and listened
to as a thing of course; and an hour afterwards the preacher, who has
thus usurped and profaned the language of an Apostle who wrote with the
fagot and the cross full in view, is sitting comfortably with his hearer
over his claret; they are fondling their children, discussing public
affairs or private plans in life, with passionate interest, and yet can
look at each other without a smile or a blush for the sad and
meaningless farce they have been acting!... Everything tends to prove
that this life is, not perhaps, not probably, our only sphere, but still
an _integral_ one, and _the_ one with which we are here meant to be
concerned. The present is our scene of action,--the future is for
speculation and for trust. We firmly believe that man was sent upon the
earth to live in it, to enjoy it, to study it, to love it, to embellish
it,--to make the most of it, in short. It is his country, on which he
should lavish his affections and his efforts. _Spartam nactus es--hanc
exorna_. It should be to him a house, not a tent,--a home, not only a
school. If, when this house and this home are taken from him,
Providence, in its wisdom and its bounty, provides him with another, let
him be deeply grateful for the gift,--let him transfer to that future,
_when it has become his present_, his exertions, his researches, and his
love. But let him rest assured that he is sent into this world, not to
be constantly hankering after, dreaming of, preparing for, another,
which may or may not be in store for him, but to do his duty and fulfil
his destiny on earth,--to do all that lies in his power to improve it,
to render it a scene of elevated happiness to himself, to those around
him, to those who are to come after him. So will he avoid those
tormenting contests with nature,--those struggles to suppress affections
which God has implanted, sanctioned, and endowed with irresistible
supremacy,--those agonies of remorse when he finds that God is too
strong for him,--which now embitter the lives of so many earnest and
sincere souls; so will he best prepare for that future which we hope
for, if it come; so will he best have occupied the present, if the
present be his all. To demand that we love heaven more than earth, that
the unseen should hold a higher place in our affections than the seen
and familiar, is to ask that which cannot be obtained without subduing
nature, and inducing a morbid condition of the soul. The very law of our
being is love of life, and all its interests and adornments."--pp. 271,

With all that is admirable in our author's book, he contemplates the
whole subject from a point of view which exhibits it in very imperfect
lights. He professes to treat of "The Creed of Christendom." Yet, in
examining only the canonical Scriptures and the primitive belief, he
totally ignores the "Creed" of the greater part of "Christendom,"
namely, of the Catholic Church. For it is only Protestants that
identify Christianity with the letter of the New Testament, and settle
everything by appeal to its contents. According to the older
doctrine, Christianity is not a Divine Philosophy recorded in certain
books, but a Divine Institution committed to certain men. The
Christian Scriptures are not its _source_, but its first _product_;
not its charter and definition, but its earliest act and the
expression of its incipient thought. They exhibit the young attempts
of the new agency, as it was getting to work upon the minds of men and
trying to penetrate the resisting mass of terrestrial affairs. They
are thus but the beginning of a record which is prolonged through all
subsequent times, the opening page in the proceedings of a Church in
perpetuity; and are not separated from the continuous sacred
literature of Christendom, as insulated fragments of Divine authority.
The supernatural element which they contain did not die out with their
generation, but has never ceased to flow through succeeding centuries.
Nor did the heavenly purpose--precipitated upon earthly materials and
media--disclose itself most conspicuously at first; but rather cleared
itself as it advanced and enriched its energy with better instruments.
The sublimest things would even lie secreted in the unconscious heart
of the new influence, and only with the slowness of noble growths push
towards the light; for the noise and obtrusiveness of the human is
ever apt to overwhelm the retiring silence of the divine. The
disciples, who, when events were before their eyes, and great words
fell upon their ears, "understood not these things at the time," are
types of all men and all ages; whose religion, coming out in the
event, is known to others better than to themselves. A faith,
therefore, should be judged less by its first form than by its last;
and at all events be studied, not as it _once_ appeared, but in the
entire retrospect of its existence.

No doubt this doctrine of development is made subservient, in the
Romish system, to monstrous sacerdotal claims. A priestly hierarchy
pretends to the exclusive custody, and the gradual unfolding, of God's
sacred gift. But sweep away this holy corporation; throw its treasury
open, and let its vested right, of paying out the truth, be flung into
the free air of history; gather together no Sacred College but the
collected ages; appeal to no high Pontiff but the Providence of
God;--and there remains a far juster and sublimer view of the place
and function of a pure Gospel in the world, than the narrow Protestant
conception. Christianity becomes thus, not the Creed of its Founders,
but the Religion of Christendom, to be estimated only in comparison
with the faiths of other groups of the great human family; and the
superhuman in it will consist in this,--the providential introduction
among the affairs of this world of a divine influence, which shall
gradually reach to untried depths in the hearts of men, and become the
organizing centre of a new moral and spiritual life. It is a power
appointed--an inspiration given--to fetch by reverence a true religion
out of man, and not, by dictation, to put one into him.

For this end, it would not even be necessary that the bearers of the
divine element should be personally initiated into the counsels whose
ministers they are. _Philosophy_ must know what it teaches; but
_Inspiration_, in giving the intensest light to others, may have a
dark side turned towards itself. There is no irreverence in saying
this, and no novelty: on the contrary, the idea has ever been familiar
to the most fervent men and ages, of Prophets who prepared a future
veiled from their own eyes, and saintly servants of heaven, who drew
to themselves a trust, and wielded a power, which their ever-upward
look never permitted them to guess. Nay, to no one was this conception
less strange, than to the very man who, in his turn, must now have it
applied to himself. With the Apostle Paul it was a favorite notion,
that the entire plan of the Divine government had been a profound
secret during the ages of its progress, and was opening into clear
view only at the hour of its catastrophe. Not only was there _more in
it_ than had been surmised, but something utterly _at variance_ with
all expectation. Its whole conception had remained unsuspected from
first to last; undiscerned by the vision of seers, and unapproached by
the guesses of the wise. Never absent from the mind of God, and never
pausing in its course of execution, it had yet evaded the notice of
all observers; and winding its way through the throng of nations and
the labyrinth of centuries, the great Thought had passed in disguise,
using all men and known of none. Nor was it only the pagan eye that,
for want of special revelation, had been detained in darkness, or
beguiled with the scenery of dreams. The very people whose life was
the main channel of the Divine purpose did not feel the tide of
tendency which they conveyed; the patriarchs who fed their flocks near
its fountains, the lawgiver who founded a state upon its banks, the
priests whose temple poured blood into its waters, and the prophets at
whose prayer the clouds of heaven dropped fresh purity into the
stream,--all were unconscious of its course; assigning it to regions
it should never visit, and missing the point where it should be lost
in the sea. Nay, Paul seems to bring down this edge of darkness to a
later time; to include within it even the ministry of Christ and the
Galilean Apostles; to imply that even they were unconscious
instruments of a scheme beyond the range of their immediate thought;
and that not till Jesus had passed into the light of heaven did the
time come for revealing, through the man of Tarsus, the significance
of Messiah's earthly visit, and its place in the great scheme of
things. Paul, in claiming this as his own special function, certainly
implies that, previous to his call, no one was in condition to
interpret the secret counsels of God in the historic development of
his providence. He feels this to be no reflection on his predecessors,
no cause of elevation in himself; steward as he is of a mighty
mystery, he is less than the least of all saints. He simply stands at
the crisis when a conception is permitted to the world, which even
"the angels have vainly desired to look into"; and though he may _see_
more, he _is_ infinitely less than the Prophets and the Messiah whose
place it is given him to explain. He is but the interpreter, they are
the grand agencies interpreted. He is but the discerning eye, they are
the glorious objects on which it is fixed.

In seeking, therefore, for the _divine element_ in older
dispensations, the Apostle would assuredly _not_ consult the projects
and beliefs of their founders and ministers. In his view, the very
scheme of God was to work through these without their knowing what
they were about; to let them aim at one thing while he was directing
them to another; to pour through their life and soul an energy which
should indeed fire their will and flow from their lips in _their own_
best purposes, but steal quietly behind them for _his_; so that what
was primary with them was perhaps evanescent with him; while that
which was incidental, and dropped from them unawares, was the seed of
an eternal good. What Moses planned, what David sung, what Isaiah led
the people to expect, was not what Heaven had at heart to execute.
Even in quest of God's thought in the _Christian_ dispensation, Paul
does not refer to the doctrines, the precepts, the miracles of Jesus
during his ministry in Palestine,--to the memorials of his life, or
the testimony of his companions. He assumes that, at so early a date,
the time had not yet come for the truth to appear, and that it was
vain to look for it in the preconceptions of the uncrucified and
unexalted Christ; who was the religion, not in revelation, but in
disguise. If, therefore, any one had argued against the Apostle thus:
"Why tell us to discard the law? your Master said he came to fulfil
it. How do you venture to preach to the Gentiles, when Jesus declared
his mission limited to the lost sheep of the house of Israel? No
vestiges of your doctrine of free grace can be found in the parables,
or of redeeming faith in the Sermon on the Mount";--he would have
boldly replied, that this proves nothing against truths that are newer
than the life, because expounded by the death, of Christ; that God
reveals by action, not by teaching; that no servant of his can
understand his own office till it is past; and that only those who
look back upon it through the interpretation of events, can read
aright the divine idea which it enfolds.

This view it was that made the Apostle so bold an innovator, and
filled his Epistles with a system so different from that of the
synoptical Gospels as almost to constitute a different religion. He
had seized the profound and sublime idea that, when men are inspired,
the inspiration occupies, not their conscious thought and will, but
their unconscious nature; laying a silent beauty on their affections,
secreting a holy wisdom in their life, and, through the sorrows of
faithfulness, tempting their steps to some surprise of glory. That
which they deliberately think, that which they anxiously elaborate,
that which they propose to do, is ever the product of their human
reason and volition, and cannot escape the admixture of personal
fallibility. But their free spontaneous nature speaks unawares, like a
sweet murmuring from angels' dreams. What they think without knowing
it, what they say without thinking it, what they do without saying it,
all the native pressures of their love and aspiration, these are the
hiding-place of God, wherein abiding, he leaves their simplicity pure
and their liberty untouched. The current of their reasoning and action
is determined by human conditions and material resistances; but the
fountain in the living rock has waters that are divine. If this be
true, then must we search for the heavenly element in the latencies
rather than the prominencies of their life; in what they _were_,
rather than in what they _thought to do_; in the beliefs they felt
without announcing; in the objects they accomplished, but never
planned. We must wait for their agency in history, and from the fruit
return to find the seed.

It is not peculiar to Mr. Greg that, in estimating Christianity, he has
neglected, and even reversed, this principle. All who have treated of it
from the Protestant point of view have done the same. They have assumed
that the religion was to be most clearly discerned at its commencement;
that the divine thought it contained would be, not evolved, but obscured
by time, and might be better detected in ideal shape at the beginning of
the ages, than realized at the end; that its agents and inaugurators
must have been fully cognizant of its whole scope and contents, and set
them in the open ground of their speech and practical career. In the
minds of all Protestants the Christian religion is identified
exclusively with the ideas of the first century, with the creed of the
Apostles, with the teachings of Christ. The New Testament is its sole
depository, in whose books there is nothing for which it is not
answerable. The consequence is a perpetual struggle between untenable
dogma and unprofitable scepticism. The whole structure of faith becomes
precarious. If Luke and Matthew should disagree about a date or a
pedigree; if Mark should report a questionable miracle; if John should
mingle with his tenderness and depth some words of passionate
intolerance; if Peter should misapply a psalm, and Paul indite mistaken
prophecies; above all, if Jesus should appear to believe in demonology,
and not to have foreseen the futurities of his Church,--these detected
specks are felt like a total eclipse; affrighted faith hides its face
from them and shrieks; and he who points them out, though only to show
how pure the orb that spreads behind, is denounced as a prophet of evil.
The peaceful and holy centre of religion is shaken by storms of angry
erudition. Devout ingenuity or indevout acuteness spend themselves in
vitiating the impartial course of historical criticism; neither of them
reflecting, that, if the topics in dispute are open to reasonable doubt,
they cannot be matter of _revelation_, and may be calmly looked at as
objects of natural thought. It is a thing alike dangerous and unbecoming
that religion should be narrowed to a miserable literary partisanship,
bound up with a disputed set of critical conclusions, unable to deliver
its title-deeds from a court of perpetual chancery, whose decisions are
never final. The time seems to have arrived for freeing the Protestant
Christianity from its superstitious adhesion to the mere _letter_ of the
Gospel, and trusting more generously to that permanent inspiration,
those ever-living sources of truth within the soul, of which Gospel and
Epistle, the speeches of Apostles and the insight of Christ, are the
pre-eminent, rather than the lonely, examples. The _primitive_ Gospel is
not in its form, but only in its spirit, the _everlasting_ Gospel. It is
concerned, and, if we look to _quantity_ alone, _chiefly_ concerned,
with questions that have ceased to exist, and interests that no longer
agitate. It often reasons from principles we do not own, and is tinged
with feelings which we cannot share. Often do the most docile and open
hearts resort to it with reverent hopes which it does not realize, and
close it with a sigh of self-reproach or disappointment. With the deep
secrets of the conscience, the sublime hopes, the tender fears, the
infinite wonderings of the religious life, it deals less altogether than
had been desired; and in touching them does not always glorify and
satisfy the heart. We are apt to long for some nearer reflection, some
more immediate help, of our existence in this present hour and this
English land, where our enemies are not Pharisees and Sadducees, or our
controversies about Beelzebub and his demons; but where we would fain
know how to train our children, to subdue our sins, to ennoble our lot,
to think truly of our dead. The merchant, the scholar, the statesman,
the heads of a family, the owner of an estate, occupy a moral sphere,
the problems and anxieties of which, it must be owned, Evangelists and
Apostles do not approach. Scarcely can it be said that general rules are
given, which include these particular cases. For the Christian
Scriptures are singularly sparing of general rules. They are eminently
personal, national, local. They tell us of Martha and Mary, of Nicodemus
and Nathaniel, but give few maxims of human nature, or large formulas of
human life: so that their spiritual guidance first becomes available
when its essence has been translated from the special to the universal,
and again brought down from the universal to the modern application.
They are felt to be an inadequate measure of our living Christianity,
and to leave untouched many earnest thoughts that aspire and pray within
the mind. One divine gift, indeed, they impart to us,--the gracious and
holy image of Christ himself. Yet, somehow, even that sacred form
appears with more disencumbered beauty, and in clearer light, when
regarded at a little distance in the pure spaces of our thought, than
when seen close at hand on the historic canvas. It is not that the ideal
figure is a subjective fiction of our own, more perfect than the real.
Every lineament, every gesture, all the simple majesty, all the deep
expressiveness, we conceive to be justified and demanded by the actual
portraiture: our least hesitating veneration sees nothing that is not
there. But the original artists' sympathy we feel to have been somewhat
different from ours. They have labored to exhibit aspects that move us
little; and only faintly marked the traces that to us are most divine.
The view is often broken, the official dress turned into a disguise. The
local groups are in the way; the possessed and the perverse obtrude
themselves in front with too much noise; and the refracting cloud of
prophecy and tradition is continually thrown between. So that the image
has a distincter glory to the meditating mind than to the reading eye.

All this, oftener perhaps felt than confessed, is perfectly natural
and innocent. It betrays the instinctive analysis by which our own
affections separate the divine from the human. Paul was right in his
principle, that in history _the divine element lies hid_; is missed at
the time, even by those who are its vehicle; and does not parade
itself in what they consciously design, but lurks in what they
unconsciously execute. It comes forth at "the end of the ages,"--the
retrospect of fifty generations instead of the foresight of one. This
doctrine is true of individuals, in proportion as they are great and
good. They labor at what is most difficult to them, and make it their
end; but their appointed power lies in what is easiest. They chiefly
prize the beliefs and the virtues most painfully won; but their
highest truth dwells in the trusts they cannot help, and their purest
influence in the graces they never willed, or knew to be their own.
And it is true in history; Paul himself signally illustrating the rule
which he had applied to earlier times. He had found, as he supposed,
the Providence of the Past, which all had missed, from Moses to
Christ; but in his turn he missed, as we perceive, the Providence of
the Future, from himself to us. The kind of agency which he
anticipated for Christ bears no resemblance to that which his religion
has actually exercised. The only fault we can find with Mr. Thom's
admirable exposition is, that he attributes to the Apostle too
distinct an apprehension of Christ as an impersonation of _moral
perfection_; and supposes the purpose of the Pauline Christianity to
have been the establishment, as sole condition of discipleship, of
reverential sympathy with the type of character realized in the
Galilean life of Jesus. He says:--

"In contrast with such teachers" (the Ritual and the Dogmatic), "St.
Paul, in our present chapter (1 Corinthians ii.), refers both to the
_matter_ and the _manner_ of his own ministration of the Gospel. He
did not teach it as a _Rhetorician_, to attract admiration to himself,
and give more lively impressions of Paul the Orator than of Christ the
Redeemer from sin, nor as a _Philosopher_, to raise doubtful questions
on metaphysical subjects, and become the leader of a speculative
school; but as the Apostle of Jesus Christ, he proclaimed to the
hearts of men the practical and life-giving Gospel, that 'God was in
Christ reconciling the world unto himself'; that by the universal
Saviour all distinctions were for ever destroyed, and the whole family
of God to grow into the common likeness of that well-beloved Son,--for
that now neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision,
but the renewal of the affections after the image of the Lord. Where
could an entrance be found for party divisions in a doctrine that
professed nothing, that aimed at nothing, except to awaken the
consciousness of sin within the heart, and, through trust in the God
of holiness and love revealed in Jesus, to lead it to repentance and
life? All who felt this love of Christ constraining them, cleansing
their souls by the divine image that had taken possession of their
affections, and, through the mercy it proclaimed, encouraging their
penitence to look for pardon from their God, must, of necessity, be
one communion; for this Gospel sentiment and hope could create no
divisions amongst those who had it,--and those who had it not were
outside the Christian pale, and, so far, could make no schisms within
it. Now, whence comes this Gospel sentiment, this new principle of
life? Were there any who had the exclusive power of communicating it?
Did it require to be introduced by any intricate reasonings, by any
subtle dialectics, which only the Masters in philosophy had at their
command? Not so, says St. Paul;--it is a spiritual feeling, excited
by moral sympathy, as soon as Christ is offered to the hearts that are
susceptible of the sentiment;--and in whatever bosom there is not
enough of the Spirit of God to cause that moral attraction to take
place, neither philosophy nor outward forms, nor aught else but the
divine image of goodness kept before the heart, can awaken the
slumbering sensibilities which are the very faculties of spiritual
apprehension, and which, as soon as they are alive, behold in Christ
the solution of their own struggling and imperfect existence, their
ideal and their rest. In regard to a sentiment so spiritual, a
sympathy with the image of God, where is the possibility of
introducing party divisions, and violating Christian unity? There can
be but two parties,--those that _have_ the sentiment, and those that
have it not. All Christians constitute the one,--and as for the other,
in relation to Christian unity, they are not in question. Such is the
argument of St. Paul in this second chapter."--p. 30.

It may be quite true that the essential power of Christianity resides
in the image, ever present to the heart of Christendom, of a God
resembling Christ, and loving those who aspire to approach him through
the same resemblance. But we cannot find any traces of such a
conception in the writings of Paul. The "faith" on which he
exclusively insisted would be very incorrectly defined, we conceive,
as a reverence of Christ's character as morally like God. If we may
judge from the negative evidence of his letters, he appears to have
had no insight into the interior of his Master's earthly life, and no
great concern about it. There is an entire absence of any _moral_
picture of Jesus, who is presented in the Apostolic writings as an
object, not of retrospective veneration, but of expectant reliance;
not of admiring trust for personal qualities realized in a past
career, but of hope grounded on his official destiny in the future.
_One_ beauty of his character is, indeed, appealed to in the Pauline
writings, viz. his humility and self-renunciation;[54] but even this
is recognized, not on historical, but on theocratic grounds; it is
illustrated, not by anything in his life, but by the fact of his
death, conceived as a voluntary postponement of his theocratic
prerogatives, and an abrogation of his exclusive nationality. He was a
"spiritual" object to the Apostle of the Gentiles, not from perception
of the inner marks and graces of his spirit, but from his being
invisible and immortal, reserved in heaven under external escape from
the conditions of earthly life. Mr. Thom's doctrine is a happy
development of modern truth from ancient error; but regarded as a mere
interpretation, it perhaps sets down to the Apostle's account a just
moral appreciation of the past, instead of an erroneous conception of
the Providence of the future. The religion of Christ has assuredly
turned out a very different phenomenon from anything that was
anticipated at its origin. It was announced as a Kingdom; as the king
did not come, it became a Republic. It was conceived as a State; it
grew up into a Faith. It was proclaimed as the world's end; it proved
to be a fresh beginning. It was to consummate the Law and the
Prophets; and it confounded both. It was to cover Pagan nations with
shame and destruction; it embalmed their literature, and was
transformed by their philosophy. It was to deliver over the earth to
the pure and severe Monotheism of the Hebrews; which, however, it so
relaxed as to provoke Islam into existence to proclaim again the
monarchy of God. Its subjects were to be gathered from the Jews and
half-castes of the Eastern Synagogue; and its most signal glories have
been among the Teutonic nations, and the then unsuspected continents
of the West. In every element of its internal power, in every
direction of its external action, it has burst all the proportions,
left behind all the expectations, with which it was born; and how can
we continue to try it by the standard of its origin? Are we to say,
that, having promised one thing and become another, it is not of God?
That might be well, if it had _fallen short_ of its own
professions,--disappointed us of dreams it had awakened of glory and
delight. But if it has been _far better than its word_; if, instead of
winding up the world's affairs, it has given them a new career; if
for Messiah's tame millennium we have the grand and struggling life of
Christendom, and for his closed books of judgment the yet open page of
human history; if for the earthly throne and sceptre of Christ,
sweeping away the treasures of past civilization, we have his heavenly
image and spirit, presiding over the re-birth of art, the awakening of
thought, the direction of law, and the organism of nations; if from
the dignity of outward sovereignty he has been raised to that of Lord
of the living conscience, not superseding the soul, but exercising it
with sorrow and aspiration; then, surely, in so outstripping itself,
the religion should win a more exceeding measure of trust and
affection. Had it only realized its first assurances, we should have
thought it divine; since it has so much surpassed them, we must esteem
it diviner. There is no reason for the common assumption that a
religion must be purest in its infancy. It is no less surrounded then,
than at each subsequent time, with human conditions, and transmitted
through human faculties; and when delivered to the world, embodied in
action or in speech, necessarily presents itself as a mixed product of
divine insight and of human thought,--of the living present and the
decaying past; a flash of heavenly fire on the outspread fuel upon the
altar of tradition. So it is with the Scriptures of the New Testament;
which are not the heavenly source, but the first earthly result and
expression of Christianity, and which present the perishable
conditions as well as the indestructible life of the religion. Only by
the course of time and Providence can these be disengaged from one
another, and the accidents of place and nation fall away. If there
dwell in the midst a divine productive element, the further it passes
from the moment of its nativity, the clearer and more august will it
appear. It is like the seed dropped at first on an unprepared and
unexpectant ground; which in its earliest development yields but a
struggling and scanty growth, but each season, as another generation
of leaves falls from the boughs, becomes the source, through richer
nutriment, of fuller forms; till at length, when it has spread the
foliage of ages, making its own soil, and deepening the luxuriance of
its own roots, a forest in all its glory covers the land, and waves in
magnificence over continents once bare of life and beauty. So is it
with the germ of divine truth cast upon the inhospitable conditions of
history; it is small and feeble in its earlier day; but when it has
provided the aliment of its own growth, and shed its reproductive
treasures on the congenial mind of generations and races, it starts
into the proportions of a Christendom, and becomes the shade and
shelter of a world.

Much, therefore, as we value all attempts to illustrate the first
records of Christianity, and to detach what was purely human and
transient in its original form, we think that the religion itself
cannot acknowledge the competency of such investigations to decide
upon its claims. From a verdict on its _first_ works, it has a right
to appeal for judgment upon _the whole_. It is the religion, not of
John and Paul alone, but of Christendom; without a comparative
estimate of whose moral and social genius, it can by no means be
appreciated. The weakness and inadequacy of all narrower methods of
defence will in the end drive the clergy to occupy this larger basis
of operations. And the change will be not more favorable to the logic
of their cause than to the charity of their disposition. So long as
the Scriptures alone are taken as the standard, no more than one
creed, at most, can be regarded as concurrent with the Christian
faith. But when the entire existence of the religion through eighteen
centuries is adopted as the measure, the very interests of advocacy
themselves require that the best construction rather than the worst be
put upon the errors and eccentricities of all churches within the
compass of Christendom. The evidences would, in that case, be
destroyed by exclusiveness, and widened in their foundations by
comprehensiveness of temper; and the firmness of every disciple's
faith and the energy of his zeal would become assurances, not of his
limitation of mind, but of his largeness of heart. Instead of endless
divisions, multiplied in the search after unity, we might hope to see
the lines of separation become ever fainter; and every test of
Christianity withdrawn except that of moral sympathy with the spirit
of Christ; a test which, as God alone can apply it, man cannot abuse;
and according to which many that, in the ecclesiastic roll, have been
first, shall be last, and the last first.


[54] See Philippians ii. 5-11.


    _The Temporal Benefits of Christianity exemplified in its
    Influence on the Social, Intellectual, Civil, and Political
    Condition of Mankind, from its first Promulgation to the present
    Day._ By ROBERT BLAKEY. London. 1849.

    _Small Books on Great Subjects._ Edited by a few Well-Wishers to
    Knowledge. No. 19. _On the State of Man subsequent to the
    Promulgation of Christianity._ London. 1851.

    _The Connection of Morality with Religion; a Sermon, preached in
    the Cathedral of St. Patrick, at an Ordination held by the Lord
    Archbishop of Dublin, Sunday, September 21, 1851._ By WILLIAM
    FITZGERALD, A.M., Vicar of St. Ann's, and Professor of Moral
    Philosophy in the University of Dublin. London. 1851.

Of these works, the third treats theoretically, the others practically,
of the relation of Christianity to human nature. The preacher seeks in
the natural conscience for the moral ground and receptacle of
revelation; while the historians trace its moral operation in society
and life. Were both tasks perfectly performed, we should be furnished
with a complete image of the religion at once in its idea and its
expression; should be able definitely to compare its promise with its
achievements and to submit it, as a whole, to philosophical
appreciation. But the two halves of the subject are exhibited with very
unequal success. It is much easier to show the intended than the actual
influence of the Christian faith upon the character of its
disciples,--to determine by _a priori_ methods what it _must be_, than
by an _a posteriori_ induction to estimate what it _has been_, and is.
Mr. Fitzgerald, as becomes a professor of ethical science, has well
contended that the religion which he recommends from the pulpit is
neither indifferent nor supercilious towards the morals which he teaches
from the University chair,--but assumes their obligation, appeals to
their authority, and, in its mode of reconciling the human will with the
Divine, raises them into eternal sanctities. It addresses itself to man
as a being already conscious of responsibility; and simply proposes to
restore reason and conscience to that supremacy _in fact_ which _of
right_ they can never lose. How far has this aim been visibly realized?
Are the traces of a Divine renovation clear upon the face of
Christendom? Is there the difference between ancient Greece and modern
England, or between the empire and the papacy of Rome, which might be
expected between an unregenerate world and a regenerate? The historical
answer to these questions is attempted by Mr. Blakey, with perhaps
adequate resources of knowledge, but with so imperfect an apprehension
of the requisites of his argument, that his book, though often
instructive in detail, is altogether ineffective as a whole. He is
content to select and enumerate the most salient and favorable points in
the transition from ancient to modern civilization, and to set them down
to the credit of Christianity; without care to disengage the action of
concurrent causes, or to balance the account by reference to more
questionable effects. A much finer analysis is needed, in order to draw
from history its real testimony on this great matter; and nothing can
well be more arbitrary, than to stroll through some fifteen centuries,
and, gathering up none but the most picturesque and beneficent
phenomena, weave them into a glory to crown the faith with which they
co-exist. In Christendom, all the great and good things that are done at
all will of course be done by Christians, and will contain such share of
the religious element as may belong to the character of the actor or the
age; but before you can avail yourself of them in Christian
Apologetics, it must be shown that, under any other faith, no social
causes would have remained adequate either to produce them or to provide
any worthy equivalent. Because Charlemagne, after baptizing the Saxons
in their own blood, displayed a better zeal by establishing cathedral
and conventual schools, _therefore_ to put the horn-book of the liberal
arts into the hand of his religion, while leaving the wet sword to stain
his own; because chivalry blended in its vow "_fear of God_" with "love
of the ladies," _therefore_ to trace all loyalty and courtesy to the
doctrine of the Church; because the mediæval schoolmen imported into
every science the canons of Divinity, and decided between Realism and
Nominalism on eucharistic principles, _therefore_ to give the priesthood
all the honors of modern philosophy and intellectual liberty,--is, to
say the least, very vulnerable logic and very superficial history. Of a
far superior order is the little book "On the State of Man subsequent to
the Promulgation of Christianity." In a previous treatise, "On the State
of Man _before_ the Promulgation of Christianity," the author had passed
under rapid review the ancient systems of civilization,--stationary,
progressive, aggressive; and having seized on their characteristic
features, he now brings with him determinate points of comparison into
his survey of the post-Apostolic times. The view which he spreads
beneath your eye of the world, as it lay ready to afford a channel for
the Christian faith, is remarkable for breadth and truth. Conducting
you, with the wide picture in your mind, to the pure head-spring in
Galilee, and keeping close to the stream as it descends and opens from
these sequestered heights, he enables you to see, reach by reach, where
it fertilizes and where it destroys; the new fields of life it enters,
the old landmarks of habit it overwhelms. The author is not more
familiar with the Christian Apologists and Fathers, than with the later
Latin and revived Greek literature from Trajan to Aurelian; and by
skilfully noting the moments when Pagan and Christian life not only
stood in silent co-presence, but came into active contact, he brings out
into clear relief the new type of character which formed itself within
the communities of disciples. That type is so strikingly original, its
features so conspicuously express an order of passions and ideas strange
alike to the Hellenic and the Italian races, as to betray the creative
action of some vast moral power unborrowed from the established
civilization. When the free Roman breaks the bread of communion with
slaves,--when the slippery Syrian forswears lying and theft,--when the
heedless Greek changes his eagerness of the moment into a living for
eternity,--when a people ignorant of Stoic maxims display a contempt of
torture and death sublimer than the ideal of the Porch,--an influence is
plainly at work which has penetrated to hitherto unawakened depths of
the human soul. The phenomenon is the more impressive, when regard is
had to the materials from which the early Christian communities were
gathered. It cannot be imagined that they were composed of elements
particularly choice; and, indeed, amid the universal corruption of
morals and exhaustion of wholesome life, it is difficult to conceive
how, if the Christian doctrine had enforced a rigorous selection,
instead of indiscriminately inviting innocence and guilt, any decent
elements could have been collected. Without adopting Gibbon's
contemptuous estimate of the body of primitive believers, we cannot
doubt that it comprised very mixed ingredients; we know that it
contained great numbers of the servile class, and very few whose station
and culture gave them access to the higher ideas familiar to the schools
of philosophy: yet from these unpromising sources arose a society,
which, in severity of morals, in intensity of affection, in heroism of
endurance, reversed the habits of the world to which they belonged. It
seems to us an idle question for sceptical criticism to raise, whether
the religion of Christ comprised in its teachings any ethical element
absolutely new. If genius had conceived it all before, life had not
produced it till now; and the more you affirm the philosophers'
competency to think it, the more do you convict them of inability to
realize it. But in morals scarcely _can_ there be clear intellectual
conception of principles not yet embodied in living character. As in the
highest works of art, the thing seen is far other than the thing
imagined and described; not doctrines, but persons, are here the only
expression of the truth; and till they appear, ethical forms are but as
the human clay without the vital fire. In the _statement_ of thought,
the early Christians, not excepting the Scripture writers, are rude and
unskilled; and a taste formed from the study of Plato and Seneca may be
offended by the rusticity of Mark, and the abruptness of Paul. But
whoever can rise above the level of a merely intellectual critique, and
embrace, with our anonymous author, the _whole_ phenomenon of the first
centuries of our era, will see a glow of self-denying faith, and a deep
movement of conscience, affording manifest announcement of a new edition
of human nature.

That edition has now been extant for many centuries; and is variously
legible in the literature, the institutions, the private manners of
Christendom. The Christian ideal of human life lies as an open book
before us; yet as a book so various in its versions, and so overlaid
with comments, that the fresh flavor of its language, and even the finer
essence of its thought, are in danger of being lost. The actual
Christianity of each successive age, and each contemporary nation, is
the express result, not only in its dogma, but in its life, of two
component terms,--a given _matter_, and a given _faculty_ of faith.
However full and constant the former may be in itself, the latter is
perpetually variable with the knowledge and passions of the time, and
the special genius of individual leaders; nor can this variation of
insight in the mind fail to neutralize some portion of truth, and to
give disproportionate magnitude to others. The data supplied by
inspiration itself form no exception to this rule. Delivered into the
charge of the human soul, they fall into the moulds of its recipient
nature, take their immediate form from the laws of its life, and are
reacted on from its independent activity. The _immutable_ custody of
anything by a finite thinking subject, involves the most evident
contradiction; the very contact with human intelligence reduces
universal truth to partial, the permanent to the variable, the secure to
the contingent. It is only in the essential Unity of Reason and
Conscience in every age, that we find the means of correcting the
aberrations and verifying the insight of all particular men. Not that we
are to conceive of the human race collectively as one large person, of
which individual minds are vital organs, and which has a necessary
growth and development, entitling each century to boast of advance
beyond its predecessors. We know of no spiritual units, of no
personalities, except each single and separate will; nor do we find
anything in their mutual relation which necessarily determines them to
uninterrupted improvement, and excludes the encroachment of degeneracy
and falsehood. Indeed, no sorrier product is there of human conceit and
ignorance than the cant of "progress," which assumes that every newest
phase of thought is wisest. But if all men are endowed with radically
the same faculties, however various in their intensities and
proportions, there is a court of appeal in permanent sitting, where the
normal laws of intellectual and moral apprehension are administered
against all provincial prejudices and transient verdicts of error. In
the long run, the healthy perceptions of good eyes will outvote the
discoloring effects of all ophthalmic epidemics, how obstinate and wide
soever they may be. And the moral vision of mankind will no less
vindicate its natural rights, by returning again and again into clear
discernments, and settled admirations, and discharging the illusory
forms and false tints of each separate age. To deny the ethical
competency of the mind for this office,--to say that there is no power
given for deciding what, among the claimants on reverence, is really
noble, true, and good,--is, with all its pietistic pretences, an act of
the profoundest scepticism, washing away, as a quicksand, the only rock
on which any faith can be built. It is to treat the durable source of
truth as evanescent and uncertain, and shut out the possibility of all
religion. On the other hand, to set up and idolize the life and thought
of any one time as an unquestionable rule for all times, and stereotype
it for unmodified reproduction, is to treat the evanescent as the
durable, and build on whatever stands above the water, heedless whether
it be the quicksand or the rock. Yet, strange to say, this particular
superstition, and that general unbelief,--an apparent antithesis of
error,--usually meet in the same mind, and constitute together the chief
theology of most visible churches. Having deposed and insulted the
eternal sanctities, they coax and flatter the letter of Scripture to
accept the vacant throne, and exchange the holy modesty of its
administration for a universal empire of pretence. They drain off the
springs of inspiration at their fountain-head, and turn all history into
a plain of sand, that they may magnify their Hebrew reservoir as the
world's sole supply; forgetting that, when cut off from the running
waters, the choicest store loses its fresh virtues, and the fairest
lake, shut up without exit, turns into a Dead Sea. In contradiction of
both errors, we shall assume that transitory elements cannot fail to mix
themselves with the expression of the purest inspiration,--the horizon
of human relations and expressible things around even the divinest soul
being limited; and that, as the inspiration tries itself upon age after
age, bringing into distinct consciousness now one side of truth and now
another, it becomes more and more possible to find its essence and
eliminate its accidents, to save its catholic beauties apart from its
sectional distortions. The Christian ideal of life is not to be looked
for in what is special to the Crusader or the Quaker,--to Puritan or
Cavalier,--to Platonists of the second century or Aristotelians of the
twelfth,--to Aquinas or Luther,--to John or Paul; but in such sentiment
as was common to them all, and attached to them as citizens of
Christendom. When this element is disengaged from all that encumbers it,
it will be found pervading and animating still whatever is noblest in
our modern life; while all that is narrow, and weak, and unworthy in the
moral doctrine of our age, springs from a forced attempt to perpetuate
the accidental modes of the Apostolic period.

Every one is sensible of a change in the whole climate of thought and
feeling, the moment he crosses any part of the boundary which divides
Christian civilization from Heathendom; yet of nothing is it more
difficult to render any compendious account. It is easy to enumerate in
detail the phenomena which are modified or disappear; just as on
entering a new physical region the travelling naturalist may register
the new species of plants and animals, that, one after another, present
themselves to his research. But these do not paint the scene before even
the learned eye; they are the separate out-comings of a great
life-thrill, into whose current their roots penetrate; the landscape, as
a whole, speaks differently to the mind, and the whole heaven and earth
seem pregnant with a thought unfelt before. To read off that thought,
requires an apprehension the converse of the analytic vision of science.
The same difficulty occurs when we endeavor to seize the latent
principle of a natural realm of history. Such principle, however, there
must be. Beneath all the moving tides of Christian thought there lie
still depths that supply them all, and a centre of equilibrium around
which they sweep. We believe that the fundamental idea of Christendom
may be described to be _the ascent through Conscience into communion
with God_. Other religions have lent their sanctions to morality, and
announced the Divine commands to the human will; but only as the laws of
an outward monarch within whose sovereignty we lie, and who, ruling in
virtue of his almightiness, has a right to obedience, ordain as he will.
Other religions, again, have aimed at a union with God. But the
conditions of this union, dictated by misleading conceptions of the
Divine nature, have missed on every side the true level of human dignity
and peace. Manichæism, deifying the antithesis of matter, takes the path
of ascetic suppression of the body. The Indian Pantheist, imagining the
Divine Abyss as the realm of night and infinite negation, strives to
hold in the breath and sink into self-annulment. Plato, seeing in God
the essence of thought, demands science and beauty, not less than
goodness, as the needful notes of harmony with him, and appoints the
approach to heaven by academic ways. The modern Quietists, worshipping a
Being too much the reflection of their own tenderness, have lost
themselves in soft affections, relaxing to the nerves of duty, and
unseemly in the face of eternal law. Christianity alone has neither
crushed the soul by mere submission, like Mohammedanism; nor melted it
away in the tides of infinite being, like Pantheistic faiths; but has
saved the good of both, by establishing the union with God through a
free act of the individual soul. Assigning to him a transcendent moral
nature, sensitive to the same distinctions, conservative of the same
solemnities, which awe and kindle us, it singles out the conscience as
the field where we are to meet him,--where the bridge will be found of
transit between the human and the divine. No fear or servility remains
with an obedience consisting, not in mystic acts and artificial habits,
but in the free play of natural goodness; and rendered, not in homage to
a Supreme Autocrat, but in sympathy with a Mind itself the infinite
impersonation of all the sanctities. Nor are any dizzy and perilous
flights incurred by a devotion which meets its great Inspirer in no
foreign heaven, but in the higher walks of this home life, and misses
him only in what is mean and low. The place assigned in Christianity to
the _moral_ sentiments and affections has no parallel in any other
religion. The whole faith is as an unutterable sigh after an ideal
perfection. Holiness eternal in heaven, incarnate on earth, and to be
realized in men,--this is the circle of conceptions in which it moves.
Its very name for the Inspiration which mediates all its work, expresses
the same thing. It is not simply an ενθουσιασμος,--not μανια,--not
βακχεια,--but the πνευμα ἁγιον. The Dæmon of Socrates--the least
heathenish of heathen men--was but an intellectual guide, and checked
his erring judgment; the Holy Spirit guards the vigils of duty, and
succors the disciple's tempted will. This profound sense of interior
amity with God through faithfulness to our highest possibility, appears
in the Christian Scriptures under two forms,--the positive and the
negative,--each the complement of the other. In the Gospel, Jesus
himself, as befits the saintly mind lifted above the strife of passion,
describes the _aspiration after goodness_ as the native guidance of the
soul to her source and refuge. In the Epistles, Paul, pouring forth the
confessions of a fiery nature, proclaims the _sense of sin_ to be the
contracted hinderance that bars the ascent, and against which the wings
of the struggling will beat only to grow faint. These representations
are evidently but the two sides of the same doctrine seen from the
heavenly and from the earthly position. Whether we are told what the
good heart will find, or what the guilty must lose, the lesson equally
recognizes the Divine authority of conscience. The benediction and the
curse are but the bright and the dark hemisphere of one perfect truth.
The Apostle, standing in the shadow of the world's night, and regarding
its averted face, dwells on the gloom of alienation,--the "foolish heart
that is darkened,"--the "reprobate mind" from which God is hid. Christ,
conscious of the holy light, and knowing how it penetrates the folds of
willing natures, and wakes what else would sleep, speaks rather of the
glory that is not denied, and utters that deepest of blessings,--"The
pure in heart shall see God." To this bright side also the Pauline view
in the end comes round. For though in him we miss that recognition of a
natural human goodness which gives such grace and sweetness to many of
the parables; though in his scheme the human will has not only betrayed
its trust, but hopelessly crippled its powers; yet he does not leave it
in the collapse of paralysis, with the hard saying that it can in no
wise lift up itself, but points to a hope that bends over it from above.
The soul that is too far gone to act, may still be capable of love; if
unable to trust itself, it may trust another; if it cannot command its
volitions, it may surrender its affections; can reverence, can aspire,
can yield its hand, like a child, to an angel of deliverance. Beyond the
precincts of this world is an Image of divine excellence and
beauty,--one recently withdrawn from human history, and soon to have a
more august return. It is but to turn the eye and give the heart to that
ideal and immortal perfection, and in the light of so pure a love, the
clouds will clear from the conscience, and lift themselves as a
nightmare away; the lame will, forgetting its infirmities, will spring
up and walk; and the restoration, impossible by flight from deformity
and ill, will come through the attraction of a Divine sanctity and
goodness. Thus does the Apostle snatch the disciple at last into the
right perceptions which Christ assumes to be possible at first; and in
both its primitive developments the Christian religion implies the
communion of man with God through purity of heart.

To this sentiment, conveyed with living realization in the person of
Jesus Christ, may be referred whatever is distinctively great in
Christian ethics. Proposing, as an end within their reach, the ascent of
the soul to a divine life, and as the means, a simple surrender to its
own highest intimations, they have melted away the interval between
earthly and heavenly natures,--not by humanizing God, but by
consecrating man. In treating the lower desires of sense and self as the
steams that intercept, the tender reverences as the clear air that
transmits, the light of lights, they have struck the deepest truth of
human consciousness. Hence the temper of aspiration,--the earnest
ideality,--the sense of infinite want, with faith in infinite
possibilities,--the sorrowful unrest in the present, with irrepressible
struggle for a better future,--which are impressed on the poetry, the
art, the social life of Christendom. Unlike the expression of the
Hellenic mind, they are rather a prayer for what might be, than a joy in
what is. Hence, too, the predominance of the psychological and
subjective element in the philosophy of modern times, and the conversion
of the ancient "metaphysics" into the form of "mental science." Man
would never have ceased to be merged in nature, and registered merely as
a part of its contents; his self-knowledge would not have vindicated its
independent rights; his mind would not have been recognized as the court
of record for the moral legislation of the universe,--had not his
religion taken him deep into himself, and from a new point shown him his
relation to all else; kindling his own consciousness to a point of
intense brilliancy, in correspondence with a divine centre, which must
be sought on the same axis of being,--like the two determining foci of
an infinite curve, that find each other out, while the realm of
determined nature lies around, as the configured area, or the bounding
curve. Of the external world, indeed, _too_ little account has been made
in the faith of Christians. They have not cared to recognize it as the
shrine of immanent Deity;--have stood in uneasy relations to it; often
inimical to it; sometimes trying to get rid of it as an illusion;
usually regarding it as a foreign object, like a great statue on the
stage of being, with only stony eyes and ears for the real play of
passions that whirl around. Existence, in its essence, has been felt as
an interview between man and God, at which space and nature have been
collaterally present, but in which it was not apparent what they had to
do. Physical science and the plastic arts may have reason to complain of
the depressing influence of this imperfect view, and of the hard
necessity under which it places them of pursuing their ends with only
scanty and grudging recognition from religion. But, for the philosophic
knowledge of human nature, and the practical regulation of human
society, this isolation of the soul within its own consciousness,--this
concentrated personality,--this vivid interchange of life with God
without diffusion through benumbing media,--must be held eminently

If, from the fundamental Christian sentiment, we descend to the scheme
of _Applied Morals_ which it organized and inspired, the principle
still vindicates itself in its results. The great problems of life are
supplied from two sources,--the _Persons_ that may engage our
affections, and the _Pursuits_ that may invite our will. The light in
which the _personal_ relations are presented before the eye of
Christendom is undeniably benign and true. It has never been obscured
without the social spread of injustice and discontent; nor ever
cleared again, but as the precursor of reformation. That every human
soul has its sacred concerns and its divine communion, is the simplest
of thoughts; but so deep and moving, that, where it is received and
acknowledged, it calls up angelic virtues; where it is insulted and
denied, it lets slip avenging fiends. Wherever it is sincerely held,
it secures that reverential feeling towards others, beneath whose
spell the selfish passions sleep, and without which the precept of
courtesy and the definition of rights are an ineffectual form. Power
loses its insolence, and dependence its sting, where their mutual
relation does not carry the whole individuality with it, but stops
with the limits of social and political convenience, and lies under
the restraining protection of a supreme equality before God. The
"Fraternity" that is the offspring of political theories, and aims to
neutralize by fellow-citizenship the diversities and antipathies of
nature, is often the watchword of envy and egotism, shouted by the
voice of hatred, and announcing the deed of violence. It is for want
of faith in that highest brotherhood of worship and responsibility
which Christianity assumes, that impatient schemes are formed for
artificially equalizing the weak and the strong, and abolishing the
relations of necessary dependence. Nor, where that faith is absent,
can they ever be answered so as to satisfy the _feeling_ from which
they spring. They may be shown to be impracticable, and crushed by the
relentless argument of fact; but the fact will be protested against as
unnatural, and the impossibility will seem a cruelty. How differently
is this topic handled by the logic of science and the sentiment of
religion! How much less justly does the former draw the line between
natural subordination among men and tyrannous oppression, than the
latter! Aristotle undertakes the defence of slavery on grounds both of
philosophy and of experience. Nature, he contends, pursuing a definite
end in every act of creation, assigns to some things, from their very
origin, a destiny to rule, while imposing on others a necessity of
being ruled. Wherever a plurality of parts concur to form a general
whole, dominant and subordinate elements present themselves. Even
within the inanimate realm this is apparent, as in the case of harmony
in music. But it is chiefly conspicuous in the sphere of animal
existence; the body being, by nature, servitor, of which the soul is
lord. In the highest stage of animate being, the constitution of
well-organized men, this law comes into the clearest light; for here
the soul sways the body with absolute command, while reason exercises
over the passions the prerogatives of a royal and constitutional
power; and were equality to be substituted for these modes of
subjection, mischief would ensue on all sides. Not less evidently does
Nature announce the dependence of inferior on superior in the rank
allotted to the brutes in relation to man; and again, in the case of
the two sexes, of which the male, as the more distinguished, is
rendered dominant. The same necessary law adjusts the positions of
mankind _inter se_. All those who are as intrinsically inferior to
their neighbors as the body to the soul, or the brute to the
man,--(and this is precisely the case of the mere manual
laborer,)--are slaves by nature; and for them, as for the body and the
brutes, it is better to be servile than to be free. Any man who can be
made property of by another, and who is competent to understand a
master's intelligence without a spontaneous stock of his own, is
naturally a slave. Such a one performs functions in the world not
essentially distinguished from those of the domestic animals; the
destiny of both is to contribute their corporeal energies to the
service of society; and creatures fit for this alone are brought into
the slave-market by Nature herself. Consistently with this conception
of the laborer as a _living tool_ (δουλος εμψυχον οργανον), Aristotle
lays it down that the relation of master and slave admits no rights,
and excludes friendship. To our modern worshippers of strength, this
will appear commendable doctrine, very much because they have
themselves relapsed into the old Hellenic way of studying the problems
of the universe; descending, in the Pantheistic method, from the whole
upon the parts; fetching rules from the wider sphere (therefore the
lower) to import into the narrower; entering the human world from the
physical,--the οικουμενη from the κοσμος; approaching society as a
specialty superinduced on a groundwork of nomadic barbarism; and
determining the functions of the individual as member of the vital
organism of the state. So long as this logical strategy is allowed,
the Titans will always conquer the gods; the ground-forces of the
lowest nature will propagate themselves, pulse after pulse, from the
abysses to the skies; and right will exist only on sufferance from
might. But there is a heaven, after all, which the most trenchant
giant cannot storm, and where justice and sanctity reserve a quiet
throne. Without disputing the inequality of gifts and consequent law
of natural ranks, religion qualifies it by an addition which
overarches and absorbs it. Were man only the choicest, most
intelligent, most gregarious of the mammalia,--were the theory of his
affairs a mere extension of natural history,--we might reasonably
discuss, in Aristotle's way, the conditions under which he may fitly
be put in harness. But there is in him an element that takes him
beyond the range of a Pliny or a Cuvier, that lifts him out of the
kingdom of nature and gives him kindred with the preternatural and
divine. He is not simply an instrument for achieving a given fraction
of a universal end, but has a sacred trust which, on its own account,
he is empowered and commissioned to discharge. He is watched by the
eyes of infinite Pity and Affection, braced for his faithful work,
succored in his fierce temptations. The conditions of dutiful, loving,
noble life must be preserved to him. Let his task, indeed, be suited
to his powers; and if he cannot rule, by all means let him serve; but
still with a margin and play of spiritual freedom secure from
encroachment and contempt. Those on whom Heaven lays the burden of
duty no power on earth may strip of rights. The conscience with which
the Highest can commune, the spirit which is not too mean for His
abode, can be no object of slight and scorn from men. By law and usage
you may have the disposal of another's lot and labor; but in the
reality of things the lord of a province may be less than the
conqueror of a temptation. You may be Greek, and he barbarian; but in
the heraldry of the universe, the blood of Agamemnon is less noble
than the spirit of a saint. In thus snatching the individual, as
bearer of a holy trust, from the crush of nature and the world,
Christianity became the first _human_ religion,--that absolutely took
no notice of race and sex and class. It created a new order of
inalienable rights, neither the heritage of birth, nor the franchise
of a state, but inherent in the moral capabilities of a man. The free
opening of sanctity and immortality to every willing heart could not
fail to exercise an intense influence on the better portion of a
world, like the declining empire of Rome, sickened with corruption and
confused with unmanageable oppressions. That it did so, is proved by
the whole tenor of the early Christian literature; and the effect is
well described and accounted for by the writer "On the State of Man
subsequent to the Promulgation of Christianity."

"The mockery of adoring as gods the licentious tyrants who had
occupied the imperial throne, seems to have put an end to everything
like religious feeling among the nations under the sway of Rome. The
free satire of Lucianus shows how completely it had faded away, for it
introduces the gods of Olympus complaining that they were starving for
lack of offerings; not altogether because Christian or philosophic
doctrines prevailed widely, but rather on account of the total
indifference of the people to their ancient mythology; for even if it
ever had symbolized the truth, its meaning was now forgotten; and,
even so far back as the time of Cicero, had become totally
unintelligible to the learned, as well as to the multitude. It was
useless, therefore, and wanted but a slight impulse from without to
overthrow it. But to the philosopher who was in earnest in his pursuit
of this truth, buried under the rubbish of time, the doctrine of
Christ afforded it; there he found all that the master minds whom he
honored had taught and hoped; but he found it simplified, purified,
and confirmed by sanctions such as Plato had wished for, but scarcely
dared to expect;--to the Roman patrician, if any there were who still
looked back with fond memory to the purer morals and stern courage of
his forefathers, the Christian simplicity of manners and firm
endurance of torture and death was the realization of what he had
heard of and admired, but scarcely seen till then;--to the slave,
sighing under oppression and condemned to homeless bondage, the
doctrine of the Gospel gave all that was valuable in life; the
Christian slave was the friend of his Christian master, partook of the
same holy feast, shared the same painful but glorious martyrdom; he
was raised at once to all his intellectual rank, found freedom beyond
the grave, and lived already in a happy immortality;--to the woman,
degraded in her own eyes no less than in those of the tyrant to whose
lusts she was the slave, it offered a restoration to all that is most
dear to the human race; it offered intellectual dignity, equality
before God, purity, holiness. The Christian woman could die; she could
not, therefore, unless consenting to it, be again enslaved to the vile
passions of men; before God she was free, and with Him she trusted to
find shelter when the hard world left her none. Can we wonder, then,
that Christianity found votaries wherever a mind existed that sighed
after better things? for the preacher of Nazareth had at last
expressed the thought which had been brooding in the minds of so many,
who had found themselves unable to give it utterance."--p. 55.

Nor was it merely within the pale of the Christian fraternity that
relations of mutual reverence and tenderness attested the power of an
ennobling faith. Intensity of internal combination is often balanced,
in religious brotherhoods, by vehemence of external repugnance; and
were we to accept the fiery declamation of Tertullian as fairly
expressing the spirit of his fellow-believers, we could ill defend
them from the charge of fierce antipathy to the persons as well as the
creed of their Pagan neighbors. But many silent mercies appear which
contradict this loud intolerance. When the Decian persecution and its
attendant tumultuary movements had filled Alexandria with such
slaughter as to breed pestilence from the bodies of the dead, the
Christians, instead of sullenly permitting the physical calamity to
avenge their cause, assumed the duties of public nurses, and performed
the loathsome tasks from which priests and magistrates had fled.
Referring to this occasion, the author just cited says:--

"The plague made its appearance with tremendous violence, and
desolated the city, so that, as Dionysius, the Christian bishop,
writes, there were not so many inhabitants left of all ages, as
heretofore could be numbered between forty and seventy. In this
emergency the persecuted Christians forgot all but their Lord's
precept, and were unwearied in their attendance on the sick; many
perishing in the performance of this duty by taking the infection. 'In
this way,' says the bishop, with touching simplicity, 'the best of the
brethren departed this life; some ministers, and some deacons,' the
heathens having abandoned their friends and relations to the care of
the very persons whom they had been accustomed to call 'Men-haters.' A
like noble self-devotion was shown at Carthage when the pestilence
which had desolated Alexandria made its appearance in that city, and,
I quote the words of a contemporary, 'All fled in horror from the
contagion, abandoning their relations and friends as if they thought
that by avoiding the plague any one might also exclude death
altogether. Meanwhile the city was strewed with the bodies, or rather
carcasses of the dead, which seemed to call for pity from the
passers-by, who might themselves so soon share the same fate; but no
one cared for anything but miserable pelf; no one trembled at the
consideration of what might so soon befall him in his turn; no one did
for another what he would have wished others to do for him. The bishop
hereupon called together his flock, and setting before them the
example and teaching of their Lord, called on them to act up to it. He
said, that if they took care only of their own people, they did but
what the commonest feeling would dictate; the servant of Christ must
do more; he must love his enemies, and pray for his persecutors; for
God made his sun to rise and his rain to fall on all alike, and he who
would be the child of God must imitate his Father.' The people
responded to his appeal; they formed themselves into classes, and
those whose poverty prevented them from doing more gave their personal
attendance, while those who had property aided yet further. No one
quitted his post but with his life."--p. 162.

This self-devotion in times of distress, strangely contrasting with
habits and temper apparently unsocial, has too steadily reappeared in
every earnest church not to be accepted as a Christian characteristic.
During the fatal famine and epidemic which desolated Antioch in the
third century, the Pagan governor, when urged by the inhabitants to
make authoritative arrangements for relieving the sufferings of a
perishing populace, replied that "The gods hated the poor"; while the
Christians, prevailingly poor themselves, plunged into the centre of
the danger, and carried into the recesses of fever and despair the
quiet presence of help and hope. If disciples have thus freely
rendered to "those without" services which Pagans refused to one
another, it is not simply in stiff obedience to a precept of love to
their enemies, but from a heart-felt sentiment of honor for human
nature and consequent tenderness of human life. There was no man who,
though he might be a persecutor to-day, might not be a comrade
to-morrow; he had a soul susceptible of consecration; and day and
night the gates of the Church were ready to fly open to the touch of
penitence; and whether he throws off the mask of delusion or not, he
must be treated as a brother in disguise. Only by reference to this
conception of all men as possible subjects of sanctifying change, can
the fact be explained, that even where the creed has opened an
infinite gulf between believer and unbeliever, the active charities
have detained in lingering embrace the persons whom the theoretic
fancy has flung into the ultimate horrors. A religion that is superior
to the external distinctions of lineage and class, and draws its lines
only by the invisible coloring of souls, must ever be a religion open
to hope, and therefore apt to love. Even where the severest doctrine
of exclusion has prevailed, the fundamental sentiment of Christian
faith has saved the heart from the most withering of all
passions,--the blight of _scorn_. Human nature may appear beneath the
eye of an austere believer in an _awful_, but never in a
_contemptible_ light. The very crisis in which it is suspended can
belong to no mean existence. What it has lost is too great a glory,
what it has incurred is too deep a terror, to be conceivable except of
a being on a grand scale. _He_ is no worm for whom the eternal abysses
are built as a dungeon and the lightnings are brandished as a scourge.
Accordingly, the very alienations of intolerance itself have acquired
a higher and more respectful character than in ancient faiths. The
sort of feeling with which the Jew spurned "the Gentile dog" is
sanctioned by piety no more. The Oriental curl of the lip is scarcely
traceable on the features of Christendom; and is replaced by an
expression of tragic sorrow and earnestness, where lights of admiring
pity flash through the darkest clouds.

It seems, then, that the essential sentiment of all Christian faith--the
communion through conscience with God--carries with it, not only noble
personal aspirations, but also, towards others, affections of singular
generosity and depth; affections which demand for every man a position
in which he may work out the moral problem of life, which dignify every
lot where this is possible, and which soften even actual alienations
with possible reverence and hope. The sphere of action which these
feelings may shape for themselves, the particular enterprises they may
undertake, the external pursuits they may assume, will necessarily
depend on many foreign and accidental conditions. The work which it
would fall to the hands of the same faithful man to do, if he lived on
through the changes of the world, would greatly vary from age to age.
The work which contemporary men, of equal and similar fidelity, will set
themselves to accomplish, will vary with their several positions. The
same act, or even habit, which is innocent (though possibly not
innocuous) in one place, may assume quite an altered significance in
another. It would be absurd, for instance, to set down the double
marriages of patriarchal times in the same moral rank with modern cases
of bigamy. And the doctrine of Plato's Republic respecting marriage,
startling as a comment on the manners of his age, by no means expresses
the odious state of mind which would be implied in its substitution now
for the sanctities of private life. The devotion to studious and
peaceful acts which may usually be either blameless or laudable, may
become a guilt like treason in an hour when the interests of public
liberty claim every citizen for the council or the field. Indeed, the
conduct in such contrasted instances is in no proper sense _the same_;
it has only an external identity; it is a physical self-repetition,
with a moral contrariety; and unless, in speaking of a human _action_,
we mean to shut out the soul which makes it human, and to denote only
the muscular flourish and spasm of limb, the sameness is but a semblance
with a reality of difference. The moral values of actions, taken in this
narrowest sense, are inevitably variable; and any code that should
present a list of them as obligatory in perpetuity, without regard to
the changes of their meaning to the mind, would mistake the very nature
of human duty. Not that we deny the existence of permanent grounds for
the adoption of some habits and the avoidance of others. There are
reasons, unchangeable as the corporeal frame of man, why opium should
not be taken as an article of food, and why cousins should not
intermarry. But the grounds of prohibition in these cases are
_rational_, not _moral_; they are found in the outward effects, not in
the inward sources, of conduct; and only when its outward effects are
_known_ to the agent, so as to enter among its inward sources and modify
its meaning, does he pass from _unwise_ to _immoral_. External action,
in short, stands as an _indifferent_ phenomenon, between the mind that
issues it and the world into which it goes. The thought and affection
whence it springs in the former give its _moral_, the results to which
it tends in the latter its _rational_ value. Whoever makes a correct
estimate of the several affections and impulses which stir the will, and
throughout their scale reveres the better and disapproves the worse,
possesses _moral_ truth. Whoever perceives and computes the real
consequences of voluntary conduct, possesses _rational_ discernment in
human affairs. The former--an interpretation of the conscience and its
sacred contents--is the permanent essence of ethical and root of
religious wisdom. The latter--an apprehension of physical laws and
historical tendencies--is conditioned by the progress of science and the
facilities for social vaticination. Errors in _this_ are inevitable to
the limitations of human intellect. Perfection in _that_ is possible
only to the highest divine insight in the soul. The fallible judgment
respecting outward relations affects only the accidents of morals,
though the essence of scientific truth. Where the inner apprehension is
deep and true, the outward judgment contains a principle of
self-correction; the miscalculation of one age is checked by that of a
succeeding; opposite errors cancel each other; and the spirit of a pure
faith, like a just feeling of beauty and greatness in art, works itself
clear of the false data of usage amid which its inspiration arose, and
transmigrates into ever-improving forms. If, however, the reverence due
to the inspiration should become a traditional affair, losing its living
eye and spiritual tact, it will extend itself as a moping idolatry to
the imperfect media and rude materials through which the new glory first
gleamed; an incapable era of _renaissance_ will appear; the very works
which were given as the spring of ever-fresh creation will be used to
stifle it; in servile imitation of an original period, its whole
character will be lost, and the moment of exactest reproduction will be
that of intensest contrast.

This is precisely the way in which the spiritual life of the primitive
Christians has been dealt with. The thought and meaning that lay at its
heart are little apprehended; its applied morals, in which these are
mixed up with the errors incident to their point of view, are distorted
into a rigid code of obligation, in which the original idea is often
entirely reversed. If it be really true that the Apostolic age was
impressed with the belief of a speedy end of the world, such an outlook
must undeniably have affected the disciples' whole estimate of the value
of human pursuits. The plan of life commendable in a passage-ship may be
questionable in a settled home; and the proceedings of an army on the
eve of battle are not like the habits of the same people tilling their
fields and sitting at their hearths. To apply to a permanently
constituted planet the rules promulgated to preserve discipline amid a
general breaking-up, is surely an eccentric kind of legislation. Yet by
just such a process have modern churches derived a number of ethical
extravagances offensive to the eye of chastened conscience, and
condemned by their impracticability to the insincere existence of
perpetual talk. The manner in which English divines conduct themselves
towards this error of the first century appears to us not simple and
ingenuous. Some still affect to deny it, and to treat its reiterated
assertion as a mere perverseness and impudence of heresy; yet they leave
the statement without serious refutation, though well aware that the
weight of critical authority is altogether in its favor, and though
avowing their own theory of revelation absolutely to require that it be
false. Others incidentally and grudgingly admit it, and then pass on as
if nothing had happened; immediately relapsing into the same
authoritative appeal to Scripture, the same direct and mechanical use of
its precepts, the same assumption of it as an instrument yielding on
interpretation nothing but truth, which had been habitual with them
before their eyes were opened. Now, if anything be certain on such a
matter, it is that to suppose one's self in the world's last year,--the
admission paid to the panorama of judgment and the spectacle only
waiting to begin,--is no small and sleepy idea, which might
ineffectually turn up now and then, and sink back below the surface
without further trace. A man who could live in presence of such a
vision, and not carry its crimsoned light upon every object that fixed
his eye, could be no apostle of truth or preacher of earnestness; nor do
we know that anything more contemptuous could be said of him than that,
no doubt, he held such an expectation, but it was of no consequence. To
convert the author of the Pauline Epistles into a dilettante believer of
the pattern of the nineteenth century, and say of his most tremendous
gleams of thought that they were but transitory fireworks which meant
nothing, is no less an offence against his character than a
misunderstanding of his writings; and we conceive that, in affirming the
deep penetration of his mistaken world-view into the substance of his
monitory teaching, we shall be vindicating the fundamental veracity and
noble clearness of his soul.

To exhibit the Christology of the Apostles with the fulness necessary
for tracing pseudo-Christian morality to its origin, would require a
volume. We can only advert to one or two points, indicating the
direction which such an inquiry would take. It is admitted on all
hands, that a second advent of Christ is announced in almost every book
of the New Testament; that, if we except the Gospel of John, it is
spoken of invariably as a real, personal return, an objective and scenic
event, to be seen, heard, and felt; and cannot be explained away into a
spiritual access to the world, or a subjective drama in the soul of
disciples. It is further admitted, that with this advent are integrally
connected many incidents which, however difficult to group into a
complete picture, constitute, under every variety of possible
arrangement, a final consummation of human affairs. Indeed, the article
in the Creed which declares that Christ "shall come to judge the quick
and the dead, and at his coming all men shall rise again with their
bodies and shall give account for their own works," shows how the Church
understands the doctrine, and conjoins the end of the world with the
advent. The _nature_ of the event being so far undisputed, the question
which separates the mass of scientific interpreters from the popular
expounder, refers only to its _date_. The Apostle Paul, it is urged by
the critics, writes to his Thessalonian converts, in answer to a
distressing doubt which could have no existence but in minds on the
watch for the return of Christ; and his answer, far from checking this
outlook, raised it to such intensity that, to soothe their excitement,
he wrote to them again to remove the event from the immediate foreground
of their imagination; yet even then detained it quite within the limits
of their natural lives, and, simply interposing one or two signals of
its approach that had not yet appeared, counselled them not to lose
their composure, but maintain a "patient waiting for Christ." The
original doubt which had disturbed them seems to have been one
instructively characteristic of the early theocratic faith. Some member
of the community had died; his friends, in addition to their natural
sorrow, were apparently taken by surprise, that, after enrolment among
the citizens of the approaching kingdom, he was taken from their side,
and would not be with them when they hailed the arrival of Christ. What
would become of him? They thought he would have to remain in his sleep
till Messiah should exercise his function of raising the dead, which was
not to be at first; and so, during the great crisis, and for an
uncertain continuance beyond, he would linger behind the privilege which
they enjoyed. This seems, at first sight, a strange subject of distress.
That the second advent should take place in the presence of the living
only, and should leave the dead without part or lot in the matter, is so
completely at variance with the picture which has become fixed in the
common Christian imagination, that scruples may readily be felt about
attributing so mutilated a conception to the Thessalonian church. The
commonly received picture, however, is made up of elements incongruously
brought together from several Scripture writers, to whom the expected
event presented itself under different aspects; and nowhere can they be
found combined into such a whole as the ecclesiastical faith represents.
To understand and account for the Thessalonian state of mind, we have
only to read over the 24th and 25th chapters of St. Matthew, and to
surrender ourselves to the images there presented, without adding
anything of our own. These chapters contain the fullest description of
the advent, the last judgment, and the end of the world, that can be
found in Scripture; yet _the dead are not brought upon the scene at all,
nor is any resurrection found among its elements_. The whole idea is
evidently of a return of the Son of Man, within the limits of a
generation, to take account, in his theocratic capacity, of the very
persons who had known him in his Galilean humiliation and disguise,--of
those who, having joined him in his days of trial, had been intrusted by
him with the administration in the interval of his heavenly
absence,--and of those who, after rejecting him personally, had hardened
themselves no less against the preaching and overtures of his subsequent
ambassadors. The nations gathered before him are furnished from the
surviving population of the earth; and the ground of their admittance or
rejection is the reception they have given to Messiah in the persons of
his missionaries and representatives. In supposing the dead to have lost
their chance of participating in this scene, the Thessalonians did but
paint it to themselves as Christ, according to the first Gospel, had
described it to his hearers. Their misgiving plainly assumes that the
advent was sure for the living and was lost for the dead. The Apostle
answers by denying the distinction, and putting both classes into the
same condition ere the great hour strikes: but _what_ condition? Does he
say that the living will die first? No; but that the dead will live
first: so that the departed companion will come back at the right moment
for mingling with the troop of friends that shall go "to meet the Lord
in the air." The same order of events is given in the sublime, but
little understood, chapter on the resurrection in the First Epistle to
the Corinthians, where the Apostle places _himself_, at the advent, not
among "the dead" that "shall be raised incorruptible," but among the
survivors that "shall be changed" into immortals without ever quitting
life. It is a topic of praise to the disciples at Corinth that they are
"waiting for the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall also confirm
you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus
Christ." He assures his Philippian friends that "the Lord is at hand,"
and prays that they may "be sincere and without offence till the day of
Christ." Having come out safe from his examination and hearing at Rome,
he avows his persuasion that he will be similarly delivered "from every
evil work," and preserved unto Christ's heavenly kingdom. Though amid
his toils and weariness he earnestly desired to be endowed with his
immortal frame,--to be invested, as he expresses it, with his house from
above; yet he was unwilling to put off the corruptible, till he could
put on the incorruptible; he would have his mortality "swallowed up of
life"; he did not wish the great hour to find him naked, but clothed,
not, that is, a disembodied spirit, but a living man. He stands at the
era on which "the end of the world has come"; and begs his
correspondents to let certain existing disputes lie over, and to "judge
nothing before the time until the Lord come." Not less explicit evidence
is afforded in the writings of other Apostles. James says, "The coming
of the Lord draweth nigh; ... behold, the Judge standeth before the
door." Peter, "The end of all things is at hand." John, "Children, it is
the last time; and as ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now
are there many Antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time."
If the author of Christianity did not himself entertain the same
expectation of an early return to assume his Messianic prerogatives, he
has been greatly misrepresented by his biographers. For though one of
them represents him as disclaiming a knowledge of the specific "_day_
and _hour_" appointed for his "coming in the clouds with great power and
glory," the disclaimer follows immediately on his announcement, that at
all events it will take place within the existing generation. Does any
reader doubt whether this "coming in the clouds" really describes the
judgment? or whether "this generation" denotes the natural term of human
life? Both questions are answered at once in Matthew's report of a
single sentence, which simultaneously defines the event and its date:
"For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his
angels; and _then he shall reward every man according to his works_.
Verily I say unto you, there be _some standing here which shall not
taste of death_, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." It
is certainly possible enough that the discourses in which these
expressions occur may be incorrectly reported, and have acquired from
the writer's state of mind a definiteness not belonging to the original
production. But, at any rate, they reveal the historian's conception of
what was in Jesus's thought; and the false coloring of expectation which
they threw over his prophecies could not fail to extend in their reports
to his preceptive discourses, and thus to have almost the same influence
on the recorded Christian ethics, as if the error were his as well as

The evidence on this point is so positive and overwhelming, that
critics such as Olshausen, whose testimony is undoubtedly reluctant,
no longer think of resisting it. Nothing, indeed, can be opposed to it
but a kind of interpretation which is the opprobrium of English
theology; and whose problem is, not simply to gather an author's
thought from his words, but from among all _true_ thoughts to find
the one that will sit the least uneasily under his words. Thus "the
end of all things" is explained away into the founding of the
Christian Church; the "coming of the Son of Man on the clouds of
heaven," into the Jewish war under Titus; the last judgment, which
"rewards every man according to his works," into the escape of the
Christians and the slaughter of the Jewish zealots at the destruction
of Jerusalem. No doubt, many good and well-instructed men have
persuaded themselves that by such exegetical sleight of hand they
could save Apostolic and other infallibility. We can only say, that
when piety supplies the motive, and learning the means, for
bewildering veracity of apprehension, two rich and noble endowments
are spent in corrupting a nobler, which is the life of them both.

To the moral _sentiments_ which should occupy the soul, it may make
little difference how long the world is to last. But to the course of
_action_ which should engage the hand, it is a matter of primary
moment. All human occupations rest on the assumption of permanence in
the constitution of things; nor is it less true of a planet than of a
farm, that mere tenants at will, unsecured by lease and even served
already with notice to quit, will undertake no improvements, and will
suffer the culture to decline to the lowest point. What profession
could remain respectable if society had no future? What interest would
attach to the administration of law, on behalf of property which was
not worth six months' purchase, and life which, stripped of
survivorship, had lost all sacredness to the affections? Who would sit
down to study the Pharmacopœia on board a sinking ship? What zeal
could be felt by the statesman or general in repelling from his
country an injury that could never be repeated, or removing a
grievance on the point of supernatural death? The fields would scarce
be tilled which the angels with flaming sword might come to reap; or
the vineyards be dressed in sight of him "who treadeth the wine-press
alone." All the crafts of industry, all the adventures of commerce,
are held together by a given element of _time_; and, when deprived of
this, fall away into inanity. No one would build a house on ice
melting with hidden fires; or freight ships over an ocean which
earthquakes were to drain away; or fabricate silks and patent-leather
for appearance at the last tribunal. And the loosened hold of these
pursuits upon human zeal, so far from implying their exchange for
anything higher and more spiritual, involves the direct reverse. They
cannot be abandoned; the stern punctuality of hunger, the
peremptoriness of instinctive or habitual want, compel their
continuance; and Paul himself made sail-cloth for a world on its last
voyage. But they are kept up only because there is no help for it;
they sink into mere bread-trades; and are thrown back many stages from
the tranquil human towards the grim cannibal level. All work in this
world, no doubt, rests at bottom on the elementary animal requirements
of our nature; but it is then most worthily performed, not when these
requirements are most obtrusive, but when they are most withdrawn. It
is the specific moral benefit which social organization confers upon
man, that it enables him to retreat from the constant presence of
sheer necessity, and stand at a sufficient distance from it to allow
other and higher feelings to connect themselves with his industry. It
is a lower thing to consult for the natural wants of primitive
appetite, than for the artificial love of order, neatness, security,
and beauty; and a craftsman works in a better spirit when earning some
_unnecessary_ gift for his wife or child, than when toiling for the
bitter loaf that staves off starvation. An art prosecuted without
pride in its ingenuity, without intellectual enlistment in its methods
of skill, is degraded from an instrument of discipline into a prowling
for food,--from a mode of life into a makeshift against death. To take
away the future, therefore, from secular pursuits, is simply to draw
off from them whatever redeems them from meanness; to plant them in
greedy isolation, as mere personal necessities; and cut them off from
the great human system which lends to them a color of nobleness and
dignity. Among the early Christians this tendency was greatly checked
by the fresh aims and employments which their religion created; and in
devotion to which the more enthusiastic spirits found ample scope for
their affections. The Church, subsisting like an intrenched camp in a
hostile land, had to make sallies in all directions for rescue of the
wandering, and for captives to the faith. An aggressive activity of
compassion and conviction found tasks for the energies disengaged from
secular pursuits; and the new relations into which their religious
profession threw them towards the synagogue, the magistrate, the Pagan
worshipper, supplied them with continual problems of conscience,
severe, but wholesome to the mind. So peculiar, indeed, was their
position, that, even if they had reckoned on a continuance of human
affairs, they could hardly, perhaps, have mingled much with a world
that drew them with such slender sympathies. Separated in ideas and
affections, they must in any case have created a new and detached
centre of social life. Still it is undeniable that their isolation was
favored and exaggerated by their faith in an approaching end of all
things; and that they withdrew from human interests, not simply
because honorable contact with them was impossible, but because they
were taught entire indifference to them as elements of a perishing
system. Not only is no recognition given to the pursuit of art and
letters, and the citizen's duty presented only on the passive side;
but even the relations of domestic life are discouraged, and the slave
is dissuaded from care about his liberty, on the express ground that
it is not worth while, on the brink of a great catastrophe, to assume
any new position, or commit the heart by new ties. The time is too
short, the crisis too near, for the career of a free life, or the
building of a human home. It is better for every one to continue as he
is; and instead of waiting to have the world perish from him, to
regard himself as already dead to the world. To stand impassive and
alone, neutral to joy or sorrow, with soul intent on the future, and
disengaged from impediments of the past, earnest to keep bright on its
watch-tower the beacon of faith, but resolute to descend no more into
the plain below, appeared to the Apostle Paul the highest wisdom. And
how could it be otherwise? Seen from his point of view, all temporal
claims sank into negation. The constitutions, the arts, the culture,
of civilized nations were about to be superseded; and the Christians
who had already retired from them needed no new ones to take their
place, except such provisional arrangements as might serve during the
world's brief respite. Equally natural and suitable to their conceived
position were the non-resistance principles of the early disciples.
What right could be worth contending for on the dawn of a great day of
redress, when every wrong would be brought to its account? Who would
carry a cause before Dikast or Proconsul to-day, when Eternal Justice
was pledged to hear it to-morrow? Who refuse to resign to human
coercion what a retributive Omnipotence would soon restore? When the
great assizes of the universe are about to be opened, it were a poor
thing for the suitors to begin fighting in the vestibule. In all these
respects the practical code of the Apostolic age was inevitably
influenced by the mistaken world-view prevalent in the Church. For the
plaintiff, the hour was fixed when his suit would be called; for the
slave, the emancipation-day was declared; and from him that bound
himself in heart to the past, the past was about to be snatched away.
The rules of action dictated by these notions are mere accidents of
the first age,--correct deductions from a misconceived system of
external relations. They are wholly dependent on this misconception,
and have no necessary connection with the interior spirit, the
characteristic sentiments and affections which distinguish
Christianity as a religion. If the Apostles had lived on till their
mistake had worn itself out, and they had discovered the permanence of
the world,--had they postponed all writing of Scripture till this
lesson of experience had been learned,--we apprehend that their scheme
of applied morals would have been very different; a more genial
recognition would have been given to natural human relations; the
social facts of property and government, the private concerns of
education and self-culture, the personal responsibilities of genius
and intellect, would have been less slightingly dismissed, and reduced
to clear moral order; and the sentences would have been greatly
modified which now support the delusions of the improvident, the
ascetic, the exclusive, and the non-resisting. Unhappily, Apostles do
not live for ever, so that we are denied that chance; and _successors_
of Apostles, though seldom scarce, are not a helpful race, being
chiefly marks of an absent inspiration. The task, therefore, of
applying the essential Christian sentiments to a permanent
world,--though avowedly undertaken by the Roman Catholic
Church,--remains unperformed; and instead of it we have, in the common
Protestantism, a violent misapplication to human nature and all time
of the accidents and errors of the first age, resulting, we fear, in a
caricature injurious alike to that first age itself, and to all true
apprehension of the nature and proportions of human duty.

Expressions abound in the literature of modern Christendom implying an
antithesis between temporal and spiritual things, between morality and
religion, between the world and God. No one can fail to observe that
this antithesis, whether founded in reality or not, has become a social
fact. There are two standards of judgment extant for the estimate of
character and life; one set up in the pulpit, the other recognized in
the forum and the street. The former gives the order in which we
pretend, and perhaps ineffectually try, to admire men and things; the
latter, that in which we do admire them. Under the influence of the one,
the merchant or the country gentleman is professedly in love with the
innocent improvidence of the ravens and the lilies; relapsing into the
other, he sells all his cotton in expectation of a fall, or drains his
farms for a rise of rent. On the Sunday, he applauds it as a saintly
thing to present the patient cheek to the smiter; on the Monday, he
listens with rapture to Kossuth's curse upon the house of Hapsburg, and
the Magyar vow of resistance to the death. He assents when the Apostle
John is held up to his veneration as the beloved disciple, but, if the
truth were known, the Duke of Wellington is rather more to his mind.
Supposing it all true that is said about the vanity of earthly pleasures
and ostentations, he nevertheless lets his daughters send out next day
invitations to a grand ball, and makes his house busy with dress-makers
and cooks. He is accustomed to confess that in him there is no good
thing, and that all his thoughts and works are only evil continually;
yet he is pleased with himself that he has provided for the family of
his gardener who was killed on the railway last week. In these and a
thousand other forms may be noticed the competition between two
coexisting and unreconciled standards, the relations between which are
altogether confused and uneasy. Whoever is interested in following up
the genealogy of ideas, and would search for the origin of this mixed
and mischievous state of mind, must look first to the influence of
Luther, and thence to the Pauline doctrine, which he improperly
generalized and exaggerated. We will endeavor to trace the development
of the sentiment in the opposite direction, from the ancient germ to the
modern fruit.

Paul the Apostle proclaimed _Faith_ to be the condition of
regeneration and acceptance. To appreciate this message of his, we
must remember two things;--namely, (1.) what it was from which men
were to be rescued on these terms; (2.) what other conditions had been
elsewhere insisted on instead of this, and were put aside by Paul in
favor of this. Now enough has been said to show that what he feared
for the world which he labored to convert was, primarily, exclusion
from the theocratic empire which Messiah would return to erect; nor is
it clear what ulterior consequences, if any, he conceived this
exclusion to carry with it. This banishment was the negative of that
"salvation" to which the disciples were called; and which consisted in
their registration as qualified citizens of the kingdom for which the
earth was about to be claimed. The picture before his mind was so far
altogether Jewish; not at all the modern idea of heaven and
hell,--spiritual regions to which individuals, one by one, pass after
death for moral retribution; but a terrestrial scene, the winding up
of history, affecting men in masses, and completing the purpose for
which God had created this world. While, however, the thought of the
Apostle's mind was national, the compass of his heart was human; and
as the hour drew nigh, he felt that the future could not be closed
upon the great Gentile world; that his own people were not so sublime
a race as to have the issues of Providence all to themselves; that he
must get rid of their conceited pedigrees, and let the Divine plan,
which for a while had narrowed its original universality within the
current of Hebrew history, flow out at its end into the full breadth
of its first scope. But if so, a new qualification must be found; one
open alike to Hebrew and to alien, yet nursing the pride of neither.
These requisites are fulfilled in simple Faith, which, as a catholic
possibility of every human heart, Paul substitutes for prescriptive
rights and untenable merits. It was the only condition which there was
time to realize. To insist instead on a mere moral fitness, on a
character of mind suitable to meet the eye of infinite purity, would
be a mockery in a state of society at once decrepit and corrupt. The
hour pressed: it was not the case of a young and fresh generation,
that might be brought back, by heedful training, to the sanctities of
nature and conscience; but an old and callous world, that could do
little for itself, had to be got ready in hot haste. A kindled
enthusiasm, a new allegiance, a resurrection of sleeping reverences,
is the only hope. Once fix the gaze of faith, the simplicity of trust,
on the Divine Human Being, who, having been clad in the sorrows of
this earth, waits to bring in its everlasting peace; and this
affection alone, comprehending in it every lesser purity, will soften
even arid natures, and enrich them with forgotten fertility and grace.
Preach your moral gymnastics to a school of young heroes, whose soul
is noble and whose limbs are free; but at the baths of Baiæ, amid
paralytics that drag the foot, and cripples with worn-out bodies and
halting wills, if you cannot touch the spring of faith, you may spare
your pedantic rules of exercise. Thus the Apostle's demand of faith
was a generous stimulant of hope and recovery to an invalided world,
whose natural forces were broken, and which had but little time for
restoration. It was a provision for pouring a mountain-breath of
healing reverence upon the sickly souls and languid levels of this
world. It was an attempt to meet a quick emergency, and, by an
intense action, condense the powers of preparation. It was therefore
an expression, not of the narrowness, but of the universality of the
Gospel. It shows the great heart of the religion bursting bounds, and
the strong hand of its noblest servant tugging at the gates to get
them open, grinding off the rust of tradition and crushing the
scrupulous gravel of obstruction.

The doctrine, however, assumes quite a different significance when
snatched by Luther out of its historical connection, and held valid as
a sufficient theory of human nature, and its only possibility of
religion. The palsy of will, the incapacity of self-cure, the hopeless
moral prostration into which long corruption had brought the world, as
it lay beneath the eye of Paul, Luther assumes as the normal condition
of the soul, and treats as a congenital incompetency of faculty,
instead of a contracted depravity of state. Not that he disowns the
human will as an executive power, or denies it a sphere of operation.
It can go forth variously into action,--can do what, in the view of
mankind, is better or worse,--can commit a murder or can rescue from
it; but in these outward doings, however differently they affect men,
there is no real good or evil; in the supreme view they are neutral
automatic exhibitions, simply physical as a flash of lightning or a
fall of rain; their real character all lies in the inner spiritual
springs from which they issue in the soul: on these alone is the
infinite gaze fixed; and these are turbid all through, and all alike,
with the taint and poison of a ruined nature. As all natural actions
derive an equal guilt from the impurity of their source, so, when the
source is purified, is the guilt equally removed from all; whilst
nothing which the unconverted may do can please God, nothing that is
performed in faith can come amiss to him. Be it what men call crime or
what they praise as virtue, it makes no difference if only it be done
in faith. Furnished with this supernatural charm, the believer may
pass through any mire and come out clean.

"A Christian cannot, if he will, lose his salvation by any multitude
or magnitude of sins, unless he ceases to believe. For no sins can
damn him, but unbelief alone. Everything else, provided his faith
returns or stands fast in the Divine promise given in baptism, is
absorbed in a moment by that faith."[55]

Here is a conception of faith altogether distinct from Paul's. It is
here no act of reverential enthusiasm and affection, no kindred movement
of the soul towards an object beautiful and holy, but a mere willingness
to trust a verbal assurance of atonement,--a willingness, moreover,
itself foreign to the mind, and superinduced as an unnatural state by
special gift. Nor is its efficacy to be sought in its transforming power
on man, but in its persuasiveness with God. It does not ennoble anything
that is the worshipper's own, but simply hangs on to it externally the
compensating sanctity of another; it is, indeed, described by Luther as
the mere vessel put into the hands of the believer, and charged with the
treasures of Christ's obedience,--treasures so acceptable that they
charm away the foulness, and prevent the rejection, of anything that
accompanies them. Thus the effect of faith on the disciple is not to
inspire him with a God-like mind, but to prevent his corruptions being
any damage to him. By this strange theory, both sin and sanctity are
made entirely _impersonal_ to man; sin, by being a transmitted
inability; sanctity, by being a foreign donation; and his individual
character sits in the midst, at a point of spiritual indifference,
neither chargeable with the dark hue native to its complexion, nor
etherealized by the veil of borrowed light which it wears as a robe. No
room is found, either in the child of Adam, or in the redeemed of
Christ, for any responsibility, any personal guilt or goodness
whatsoever. The misery and deformity in which the Gospel finds him is
un-moral,--the mere scrofula of inheritance; the redemption into which
it lifts him is un-moral,--the mere usufruct of an alien purity: and
thus the whole business of religion begins and ends without
approaching, and without improving, any law of conscience at all;
morality remains absolutely cut off from its contact, unaffected by it
except in being disowned and degraded, and losing the prestige of a
Divine authority. This consequence of his doctrine is not in the least
disguised by Luther, whose impetuous audacity never tires of forging
phrases of opposite stamp, by which he may put the brand of insult upon
Morals, and burn characters of glory into the brow of Religion. The
latter, he again and again insists, is to be set in the heavenly realm;
the former, on the other hand, detained upon the ground; the two being
kept as absolutely apart as the sky from the earth, regarded as not less
incapable of a common function than light and darkness, day and night.
Do we speak of faith and our relations to God? then we have nothing to
do with morals, and must leave them behind lying on the earth. Do we
speak of conduct and our relations with men? then we stop upon the
ground, and get no nearer to heaven and its lights. The protests of our
better nature against our own shortcomings, the sadness of repentance,
and the alarms of guilt, so far from being confirmed by true religion,
are shown to be mere delusion and idle self-torture; and the conscience
that can feel such compunctions is a stupid ass struggling in the dust
and flats of this world beneath a servile burden it need never bear. To
trouble the heart with any moral anxieties or aspirations is the most
fatal act of unbelief,--a downright plunge from heaven over the
precipice of hell. The moral law may rule the body and its members, but
has no right to any allegiance from the soul.[56] In any personal and
historical estimate of Luther there would be much to say in palliation
of these monstrous positions; it would be easy to show their connection
with some of the noblest characteristics of his genius, and their
antagonism to some of the worst features of his times. But regarded in
their influence on Christendom, when detached from their living origin,
and made the ground of a theory for the governance of life, they can
only be lamented as an explosion of mischievous extravagance. For in
what light do they present Morality to us, after stripping it of all
sacredness? What ground is left on which its obligation may repose, and
what end is given for its aim? It exists, as Luther himself declares,
only as a _provision for social order and external peace_. It is not
concerned with the perfection of the individual, but with the
organization of the world; and is nothing but the system of rules and
customs requisite for the safe coexistence of many persons on the same
field. It is thus reduced from an inspiration of conscience to an affair
of police; the private sentiment of duty, operating in the hidden recess
of life, keeping vigils over the temper of the mind and habits of the
home, is a mere substitute for public opinion, and no representative of
the eye of God. In this way, moral usages are first voted into existence
as matters of convenience, and imposed by the general voice, yielding as
their product in the individual an artificial sense of obligation; and
it is a delusion to invert this order, and say that the natural sense of
obligation, inherent in each individual, creates by sympathy and
concurrence the moral usages of mankind. This extreme secularization of
morals places Luther in curious company with Hobbes; and the followers
of both have not been altogether unfaithful to the original affinity of
their ethical ideas. Both schools have withheld from their conception of
morality any touch and color of religion; both have been jealous of its
mingling itself much with sentiment and feeling; both have applied to it
purely objective criteria, and regarded it as a statutory affair,
susceptible of codification, and then needing only a logical
interpreter. This singular alliance between sects regarding each other
with the greatest antipathy, exhibits the irresistible tendency of a
wholly _super_-natural religion to produce an _infra_-natural morality.

The result of this sharp separation of the ethical from the spiritual
province of life is, that both are deprived of elements indispensable
to their proper culture. Our devout people are not remarkable for
either clear notions or nice feelings on moral questions; while the
conscientious class are apt to be dry and cold precisians, truthful,
trustworthy, and humane, but so little genial, so devoid of ideality
and depth, that poet or prophet is struck dumb before their face. Till
the two classes had discovered their mutual alienation and collected
themselves round distinct standards,--evangelical and worldly,--the
evil was inconspicuous. For some time after the Reformation, both
coexisted, without articulate repulsion, in every church, and each
silently qualified the other extreme. Besides, in spite of Lutheran or
other dogma, deep personal faith, grateful trust in such a one as
Christ, could not be awakened in a people into whom God, whatever they
might say of themselves, had actually put a conscience, without
carrying the moralities with it. It might take the liberty of calling
them "stupid ass," but would nevertheless object to have the ass
abused. In truth, no sooner was the law of Duty driven from
Christianity, than the claim of Honor was invoked to take its place;
and the believer was exhorted not to take unworthy advantage of his
redemption from legal liability, but to render in thank-offering the
service exacted by penalty no more; worthless as it was, it was all he
had to give. Such appeal touches a spring powerful in noble hearts,
and is, in fact, only the awakening of _a higher order_ of moral
feelings than before,--a fetching back, under the disguise of
transfiguration, of that very sense of duty which had been professedly
expelled. In the first enthusiasm of faith, while men's souls, having
just flung off the sacerdotal incubus of centuries, were burning to
breathe freely, and felt the healthy throb of a new joy, this appeal
would meet a full response. The doctrine of faith was but the
appointed way of bursting through the miserable scrupulosities, the
life of petty debts and casuistic book-keeping, by which a priesthood
had maintained a balance against the world,--of seizing a Divine
indemnity and recovering the wholesome existence of devout instinct.
If the inspiration of the sixteenth century could be permanently
maintained, if all men were equally susceptible of being snatched up
by a whirlwind of heavenward affection, if the surprise at finding
that the soul had wings of its own could last for ever, the principle
of gratitude and pious honor might answer every end, and human duty be
all the better done by taking no security for it; for you may hurl as
a missile, in hot blood, a weight which otherwise you will scarce drag
upon the ground. But the fire of an age of Reformation cannot be
permanent; nor is gratitude an affection on whose tension life can be
securely built;--you cannot educate people by the force of perpetual
surprise. There is a large natural order of minds, little susceptible
of a self-abandoning fervor, for whom you vainly bring the chariot of
fire and horses of fire by which prophets fly to heaven, and who are
content with the humble mantle of the humanities thrown aside by more
daring spirits in their ascent. Quiet, reflective, self-balanced
persons are not to be taken by storm, and brought to betray the solid
citadel of this world, and say ugly things of the moralities with
which they have lived in friendly neighborhood. They are capable of
being led by reverence for what is _better_, but not of being kindled
by the rays of what is _intenser_. If they are ever to be lifted into
a life _beyond_ conscience, where reluctance and resistance are felt
no more, and the instincts of affection may flow of their own pure
will, it must be by beginning at the other end,--by the _religious
discipline of conscience_, by pious consecration of this earth and its
instant work, by faithful and frugal care of the smaller elements of
duty, as of the sacred crumbs of eucharistic bread, not without a Real
Presence in them. This class, whose religion, by a decree of their
nature, can only exist under ethical conditions, are wholly unprovided
for in the Protestant system. In the Lutheran view they belong to the
school of worldly unbelief; and though their number, as must be the
case in quiet times, has been increasing for a century and a half, and
constitutes the vast majority of educated people in this country, they
are without any recognized religion; either veraciously disbelieving
and waiting for something nobly credible, or uneasily subsisting,
suspected by clergymen, in the midst of churches whose theory of life
has ceased to be a reality to them. With a faith traditionally shy of
morals, and morals not yet elevated into faith, we have two separate
codes of life standing in presence of each other,--one religious, the
other secular,--and neither of them with any true foundation in human
nature as a whole; the secular, an accidental congeries of mixed
customs and inherited opinions; the religious, the product of an
arbitrary spiritualism, lax and ascetic by turns.

It is the peculiarity of modern Christianity that these two codes
coexist within the same social body, and even rule over different parts
of each individual. The Pauline antithesis between the world and the
Church was not less sharp than ours; but it was a distinction of persons
and classes, and nobody could occupy both the opposite ends of it. Once
within a society of disciples, he was out of the world, and belonged to
"the assembly of the saints"; and the whole realm of heathendom beyond
constituted the contrasted term. He did not stand and move with one leg
on holy ground and the other on the common earth; whatever were the
principles of the community he had joined, they served him all through,
and did no violence to the unity of his nature. Praying or dining,
weeping or laughing, in the workshop or the prison, he was the same man
in the same sphere. As the circle of the Church enlarged, we should
therefore expect the world to be driven to a distance, till it was
absent from whole countries and continents. But a new "world" has been
discovered, not only within the Church, but within the person of every
disciple; his body and limbs, his business and pleasures, being under
the law of a morality quite secular; his soul and its eternal affairs
sitting apart in a love quite spiritual. Who shall draw the line between
the provinces, and know practically, hour by hour, where he stands?
Living confusedly in both, a man is apt to acquire a sort of double
consciousness, and fluctuate distractedly between Cæsar and God. He
believes, perhaps, that the kingdoms of nature and of grace are destined
always to remain side by side, neither absorbing the other till the day
of doom. In that case, he will let other men create all the secular
usages, the moralities of trade, the maxims of politics; standing aloof
from them as not belonging to _his_ realm, and falling in with them
freely in his own case. They may be of questionable veracity and
justice; but they belong to the Devil's world, and are as good rules as
can be expected from legislators sitting in the synagogue of Satan. Why
should he decline to profit by them, now that they are there? When Eve
has plucked the apple, it is too late for Adam not to taste the fruit.
The pious broker comes on 'Change as into a foreign world, on which he
is pushed by humiliating necessities, and in which he feels an interest
derived from them alone: he has his citizenship elsewhere; he disdains
naturalization; he is but a temporary settler; he wants no vote about
the laws; but, taking them as they are, cuts his crop and retires. The
coolness with which people who live above the world sometimes avail
themselves of its lowest verge of usage is truly amazing. An affluent
gentleman of high religious profession, subscriber to Gospel schools,
believer in prevenient grace, and otherwise the pride of the Evangelical
heart, found himself not insensible to the approaches of the Hudson
mania, speculated far beyond the resources of his fortune, declined to
take up his bad bargains, and thus, at the expense of utter ruin to his
agent, escaped with comparatively easy loss to himself. The agent, being
but an honorable sinner of the worldly class, was struck down by the
blow into great depression. His employer was enabled to take a more
cheerful view, and, on meeting his poor victim, rallied him on his
dejected looks and hopeless thoughts, so different from his own resigned
and comfortable state of mind:--"But ah! I forgot," he added with a
sigh, "you are not blessed with my religious consolations!" Where no
such positively odious results as these are produced, there is still
often observable the negative selfishness of indifference to political
welfare and political morals,--an affected withdrawal from temporal
interests in the neighborhood or the State, and an insensibility to
public injustice strangely disproportioned to the zeal displayed against
innocent amusements and the nervousness on behalf of invisible
subtilties of creed.

The false opposition, however, between the world and the Church is
not always thus passive and quiescent. It is not always recognized by
those who hold it, as being a permanent fact to be merely sighed over
and let alone. Many men are too earnest and truthful to settle down
and pitch their tent upon a ground rocking with contradiction; to live
two lives wholly unreconciled, one in the shame of nature, the other
in the confidence of grace; or to belong to two societies,--one
political, the other spiritual,--conducted on principles at incurable
variance with each other. That a rule of action should be secularly
good and religiously hateful,--that a sentiment should be fitly
applauded in Parliament and groaned over in the conventicle,--is to
them an intolerable unreality, like the celebrated verdict of the
University of Paris, that a doctrine might be true in philosophy and
false in theology. In their hands, accordingly, the antithesis between
the human and the divine is not a quiescent, but a conflicting
dualism, in which their religious ideas become aggressive, and assume
a commission to drive back and humble the world. They claim the earth
for God, and think the surrender incomplete while anything natural
remains;--while any instinct is uncrushed, any laughter unstifled, any
genius, however pure, a law unto itself. The crusade against temporal
interests and pursuits, consequent upon this state of mind, changes
its form with the culture and habits of the age. In the early years of
the Reformation, when the whole Bible was spread open beneath the
thirsting eye of an undistinguishing enthusiasm, the effect threatened
at one time to be more terrible than glorious. The full thunder-cloud
of the Hebrew prophets, stealing over a world in negative stagnation,
waked the sleeping lightnings of the soul, and for a while streaked
the atmosphere of history with fearful portents. Everything that had
been written of the chosen people, their exodus, their law, their
poetry, their passions,--everything except the relentings of their
nature and the unsteadiness of their faith,--became consecrated alike.
The military clang of their early history, the harp of their sweet
singer, the choral pomp of their priestly rule, the mystic voices of
their lonely men of God,--all were Divine music alike, often more
exciting than the Sermon on the Mount, and not less piercing than the
anguish in Gethsemane. Such was the sequence and connection of the
Divine dispensations supposed to be, that Christianity was simply the
Jewish theocracy, only let loose out of Palestine to make a promised
land of the whole world. The downtrodden serfs of Franconia had not
long heard the glad tidings from Wittenberg, ere they began to draw
parallels between themselves and the old Israel when the desert had
been passed. They had been brought to the brink of new hope, and
looked, as across Jordan, to an inheritance verdant and tempting to
their eye. The earth was the Lord's, and the army of the saints was
come to take it; the bannered princes, the ungodly priests, the "men
with spurs upon their heels," all the carnal who peopled this Canaan
and perched their "eagle's nests" on every height, must be smitten and
cleared off. The time of jubilee was come, when every believer should
have his field of heritage; nay, the birds in the forest, the fish in
the stream, the fruits of the ground, whatever has the sacred seal of
God's creative power, should be free to all, and the noble should eat
the peasant's bread or die. The lawyers should take their heathenish
courts away, and men of God should sit and judge the people, according
to the spirit and the word. The harvest was ripe, when the tares must
be burned in the fire and the pure wheat be garnered for the Lord.
These were the ideas which thousands of armed men, with a clouted shoe
and a cart-wheel for their standards, and a leader who signed himself
"the sword of Gideon," preached as their Gospel through the forests of
Thuringia and beneath the citadel of Würzburg. Nor was the ripest
learning, much less the most generous spirit of the time, any security
against the adoption of their doctrine. It was not Münzer alone who
breathed the fierce inspiration, exhorting his swarthy miners to "lay
Nimrod on the anvil, and let it ring bravely with their strokes"; but
the honest Carlstadt, too, scholar, preacher, dialectician as he is,
lays aside his broadcloth, and appears in white felt hat and rustic
coat at the cross of Rothenburg, to preach encouragement to the
people and bring fresh sorrow on himself. Throughout the great
movement which in the third decade of the sixteenth century spread
insurrection from the Breisgau to Saxony, the peasants were animated
with the belief that the Gospel, armed with the sword of Joshua, was
to subjugate the world, and that all the conditions of property, of
law, of civil administration, under which secular communities exist,
were to be superseded by institutions conformed to a divine model. The
leading Reformers, terrified by the religious socialism which they had
raised, were ready enough to denounce and crush it. But in truth their
own idea differed from this insurgent faith more in form than in
essence; lodging the power in different hands, and prescribing to it a
different method, but assigning to it a similar trust for the same
ultimate ends. The kingdoms of this world were to be made the kingdom
of the Lord and of his Christ; and the temporal power was everywhere
to assume a spiritual function, and make aggression on whatever
opposed itself to the severity and sanctity of the Divine Word. The
converts of Knox, the troopers of Cromwell, the town-councillors of
Geneva, acting on this doctrine, claimed the whole of human life as
their domain, and pushed the inquisitions of police into private
habits, and even the secret inclinations of personal belief.
Playing-cards and song-books were denounced and seized, as if they
came from the Devil's printing-press; dancing prohibited, as a profane
escape of the natural members into mirthful agitation; concerts
silenced, as enslaving immortal souls to the delusive sweetness of
strings and wind; the caps of women and the coats of men shaped to
evangelic type; and, as if the world were a great school, the gates of
cities, and even the doors of houses, were closed at temperate hours
by vesper bell or signal gun. Asceticism grasped the sceptre and the
sword, and demanded the capitulation of the world. How vain and
dangerous this tyrannous repression of nature is, the reaction during
the seventeenth century into reckless and fatal license emphatically
declares; and the contrast shows the necessity of finding some
mediating term, some reconciling wisdom, by which the antagonism may
cease between the world and heaven, between natural morals and
Christian aspiration. Yet under a change of form the struggle is still
continued; and with those who most prominently assume to represent the
aims of Christianity, the present life, the temporal world, has no
adequate recognition of its rights. They have no trust in human nature
as divinely constituted, and as having no part or passion without some
fitting range. They dare not leave it out of sight for an instant:
they must draw up a dietary for it, of sufficing vegetables and water;
they must watch its temper, and see that it behaves with winning
sweetness to all rascality; they must guard its purse, and teach it
that to live cheaply, spending nothing for ornament and beauty,
nothing for honor and right, but only for subsistence and charity, is
the great wisdom of man; they must stifle its indignations, lest it
should cease to hold out its cheek to Russia, and, having gone one
shameful mile with "the nephew of my uncle," should refuse to go with
him another. Both the ascetic doctrine and the extreme peace
principles of the present day, as well as its tendency to renounce all
retributory punishment, betray, in our opinion, a morbidly scrupulous
apprehension of evil, quite blinding to the healthy eye for good,--a
crouching of moral fear, singularly at variance with the free and
noble bearing of the Apostle, who found that "to the pure all things
are pure." As for the non-resistance principle, we have shown that it
meant no more in the early Church than that the disciples were not to
anticipate the hour, fast approaching, of Messiah's descent to claim
his throne. But when that hour struck, there was to be no want of
"physical force," no shrinking from retribution as either unjust or
undivine. The "flaming fire," the "sudden destruction," the "mighty
angels," the "tribulation and anguish," were to form the retinue of
Christ and the pioneers of the kingdom of God. It was not that
coercion was deemed unholy, and regarded as the agency appropriate to
lower natures and left behind in ascending towards heaven; it was
simply that natural coercion was not to fritter itself away, but leave
the field open for the supernatural. The new reign was to come _with
force_; and on nothing else, in the last resort, was there any
reliance; only the army was to arrive from heaven before the earthly
recruits were taken up. Nothing, indeed, can well be further from the
sentiment of Scripture than the extreme horror of force, as a penal
and disciplinary instrument, which is inculcated in modern times. "My
kingdom," said Jesus, "is not of this world; else would my servants
fight";--an expression which implies that no kingdom of this world can
dispense with arms, and that he himself, were he the head of a human
polity, would not forbid the sword; but while "legions of angels"
stood ready for his word, and only waited till the Scripture was
fulfilled and the hour of darkness was passed, to obey the signal of
heavenly invasion, the weapon of earthly temper might remain within
the sheath. The infant Church, subsisting in the heart of a military
empire, and expecting from on high a military rescue, was not itself
to fight; not, however, because force was in all cases "brutal" and
"heathenish," but because, in this case, it was to be angelic and
celestial. It is evident that precepts given under the influence of
these ideas can have no just application to the actual duties of
citizens and states, whose problems of conduct, whose very existence,
they never contemplated; and that to urge them upon modern society as
political canons is to introduce a doctrine which, under cover of
their form, violently outrages their spirit.

The mistaken antithesis between temporal and spiritual things runs
into the greatest excess, wherever the inherent pravity of human
nature is most exaggerated. There are churches, however,--the Catholic
and the Arminian,--in whose doctrines the natural condition of man is
painted in colors far removed from the deepest shade; and which deem
him not so much incapable of right moral discernment, as weakened for
faithful moral execution. In this view, the function of Christianity
is not to supersede and cancel, but to supplement and guide, the
native energies of the soul; not to raise it from a mad trance, in
which all thought and feeling are themselves but a false glare, but
to apply a tonic and healing power, enabling it to do the right which
it has already light enough to see. Professor Fitzgerald is an
adherent to this doctrine, and justly contends that no lower estimate
of human nature can consist with responsibility at all.

"I am not to be ranked," he says, "amongst those who assume that human
corruption has not _affected_ the natural power of the moral sense. I
think it has. No doubt sinful depravity, wherever it is indulged, is,
as Aristotle long ago remarked, φθαρτικη των αρχων,--it tends to
weaken or deprave the sentiment of moral censure, and to blunt the
perception of moral evil.

"An eloquent but superficial French moralist has compared the
conscience to a table-rock in the ocean, its surface, just above the
ripple, bearing an inscription graven in the stone, which a genius,
hovering over it, reads aloud. At times the waves arise and sweep over
the tablet, concealing the mystic characters. Then the reader is
compelled to pause. But after a while the wind is lulled, the waves
sink back to their accustomed level, the inscription stands out clear
and legible, and the genius resumes his interrupted task.

"This comparison might gain something in correctness if we imagine the
inscription traced upon a softer substance. For the stormy waves of
passion not only conceal, while they prevail, the sacred characters of
virtue, but, as billow after billow passes over the tablet, they tend
to obliterate the lines.

"But in making these large concessions, (which I do very willingly,) I
do not feel that I am surrendering the cause. It is one thing to say
that the discriminating power of the moral judgment is _affected_ and
impaired by human corruption, and quite another to say that it is
destroyed. It is one thing to say that it sometimes goes wrong, and
another that we can _never_ depend on its decisions. Most men's
experience has often brought them acquainted with persons who had
impaired, in some way or other, their natural powers of perceiving truth
or excellence in some respects, without losing either sound principles
of reason or sound principles of honesty in others. And the way to
correct such obliquities of intellectual or moral judgment is, not to
tell men that they should distrust their natural faculties altogether,
but to avail ourselves of so much as remains sound to discover the
mistake or imperfection which we seek to remedy or supply. The appeal,
in such cases, is from the reason or conscience perverted or impaired,
to the same faculties in what physicians would call their _normal
state_. When the effaced portions of the inscription are to be restored,
the evidence of the correction results from its harmonizing with the
part which has not been obliterated; and an interpolation may be
detected by its disturbing the coherence of the context,--an omission by
leaving it imperfect or unintelligible."--p. 26.

On this principle alone, unhappily but little congenial with the
spirit and traditions of Protestant churches, can Christianity coexist
with natural ethics. Faith adopts morals, purifies and sublimes them,
and especially changes the character of their force;--for a law of
compulsion from below, substituting a love of God above. The enmity
ceases between the world and heaven; the physical earth is not more
certainly afloat in space, and on the muster-roll of stars, than the
present life is plunged in eternity, and not behind its chiefest
sanctities. There is nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to be slurred
over as an unmanageable necessity, in the natural constitution and
relations of men; whatever acts they prescribe, whatever combinations
they require, are within the scope and consecration of religion. The
whole compass of the world and its affairs, all the gifts and
activities of men, are brought within moral jurisdiction, and included
in the embrace of a genial reverence. No narrow interpretation is
longer possible of the province of human piety, and the true type of a
noble goodness; as though they demanded a definite set of actions,
rather than a certain style of soul, and denied a place to any
affection or pursuit which can adorn and glorify existence. Divine
things are not put away into foreign realms of being, and future
reaches of time, attainable by no path of toil, no spring of effort,
only by miraculous transport; but are met with every day, shining
through the substance of life and hid amid its hours. Whatever
original endowments, whatever acquired virtues, enrich and elevate our
immediate sphere,--the Thought which finds its truth, the Genius that
evolves its beauty, the Honor that guards its nobleness, the Love
which lightens the burden of its sorrows,--are not mere temporal
embellishments indifferent to its sacredness, but attributes that
bring men nearer to the sympathy and similitude of God. Art,
literature, politics, employing the highest human activities, and
constituting the very blossom and fruit of all our culture, are
recognized as having an earnest root, and not being the light growth
of secular gayety and selfishness. We have no sympathy with the
sentimental and immoral propensity, which corrupts the newest
Continental philosophy, to recognize whatever comes into existence as
_ipso facto_ divine. But we do believe that the great change for which
the secret religiousness of this age pines, and which it is sorely
straitened till it can accomplish, is the deliberate adoption into
"heavenly places" of this world, its faculties and affairs, just as
God has made them, and man's unfaithfulness has not yet spoiled them.
The products of human baseness, hypocrisy, and ambition,--let _them_
remain hateful, eternally contrary to God, things scarce safe to pity;
but believe not that they have got this planet entirely to themselves,
and have snatched it as their _peculium_ quite out of the Supreme
Hand. Men are tired of straining their thought along the diameter of
the universe to seek for a Holy of Holies in whatever is opposite to
their life; they find a worship possible, even irresistible, at home,
and on the road-side a place as fit to kneel as on the pavement of the
Milky Way. The old antagonism between the world that now is, and any
other that has been or is to come, has been modified for them, or has
even entirely ceased. The earth is no place of diabolic exile, which
the "prince of the power of the air" ever fans and darkens with his
wing; and were it even, as was once believed, appointed to perish,
this would be not because its failure was complete, but because its
task was done. No vengeance burns in the sunshine which mellows its
fruits and paints its grass; no threatenings flash from the starry
eyes that watch over it by night. It is not only the home of each
man's personal affections, but the native country of his very soul;
where first he found in what a life he lives, and to what heaven he
tends; where he has met the touch of spirits higher than his own, and
of Him that is highest of all. It is the abode of every ennobling
relation, the scene of every worthy toil;--the altar of his vows, the
observatory of his knowledge, the temple of his worship. Whatever
succeeds to it will be its sequel, not its opposite, will resume the
tale wherever silence overtakes it, and be blended into one life by
sameness of persons and continuity of plan. He is set here to live,
not as an alien, passing in disguise through an enemy's camp, where no
allegiance is due, and no worthy love is possible, but as a citizen
fixed on an historic soil, pledged by honorable memories to nurse yet
nobler hopes. _Here_ is the spot, _now_ is the time, for the most
devoted service of God. No strains of heaven will wake him into
prayer, if the common music of humanity stirs him not. The saintly
company of spirits will throng around him in vain, if he finds no
angels of duty and affection in his children, neighbors, and friends.
If no heavenly voices wander around him in the present, the future
will be but the dumb change of the shadow on the dial. In short,
higher stages of existence are not the refuge from this, but the
complement to it; and it is the proper wisdom of the affections, not
to escape the one in order to seek the other, but to flow forth in
purifying copiousness on both.

We have said that men are tired of having their earthly and their
heavenly relations set up in sharp opposition to each other, and are
eager to live here in a consecrated world. This tendency has already
found expression in two remarkable and apparently dissimilar
phenomena,--the partial success of the Anglican and Catholic reaction,
and the vast influence on English society of the late Dr. Arnold's
character. Both were virtual protests against that removal of God out
of the common human life, that unreconciled condition of Law and
Gospel, which had made the evangelical theology sickening and unreal.
A path had to be opened for the re-introduction of a divine presence
into the sphere of temporal things. Newman resorted to the
supernatural channel of Church miracle; Arnold to the natural course
of human affairs, and the permanent sacredness of human obligation.
Both restored to us a solemn mystery of immediate Incarnation; the one
putting life, in order to its consecration, into contact with the
sacraments; the other spreading a sacramental veneration over the
whole of life. Arnold, especially, saw the great moral evils which
have arisen from the evangelical depreciation of the "profane" world.
The secular, he was well aware, has become _too_ secular, the
spiritual too _merely_ spiritual. Human nature is permitted to have
play with unchecked wilfulness in the one, and is allowed no place at
all in the other. The obligations of natural law are held in light
esteem, as if, in being social, they fell short of being sacred. The
exercises of intellect, in the survey of nature or the interpretation
of history, are often stigmatized as a mere earthly curiosity,
permissible to reason, but neutral to the soul. The worst of it is,
that these notions, once become habitual, fulfil their own
predictions. As there is nothing which the heart cannot sanctify, so
is there nothing which it may not secularize. Tell men that in their
natural affections there is nothing holy, and their homes will soon be
nests of common instinct. Assure them that in their business it is the
unregenerate will, and the animal necessity, that labor for the bread
which perisheth, and soon enough will an irreverent greediness and a
cankered anxiety usurp the place. Persuade them that to study the
order of creation or the records of past ages is but a "carnal"
pursuit, and the student's prayer for light will become a mere
ambition for distinction, the meditations of wonder be stifled in the
dust of mental day-labor, and the tears of admiration drop no more on
the page of ancient wisdom. This was what Arnold could not abide; to
see religion flying off on wings of pompous pretence to other worlds,
and leaving no heavenly glory upon the earth, but letting her very
fields be paved into a street. There was no attempt to save a spot
for any earnest reality, except the poor little enclosure behind the
altar rail. The Church will consecrate a graveyard for the dead, but
leaves the market of the living still unblessed: you may dissolve away
in benediction, when your years are over of toil and sweat beneath the
curse. To one who acknowledges a natural conscience and a natural
element in faith, there is a _religion in little_ in every part of
life; it gives at least a note in the chords and melody of worship.
Hence Arnold's curious doctrine of the Church as covering all human
relations whatsoever, and including the whole organism of the State.
He would have nothing which the laws of this universe imposed on the
will of man done without a clear and pious recognition; it was not to
be illicitly smuggled in, as if run ashore in a gale of confusion that
could not be helped, but must be steadily accounted for and stored in
open day. _Ethically_, this doctrine, though, from its adaptation to a
permanent world, it is the least Apostolic in appearance, is, of all
interpretations of Christianity, the most true; and if it were not for
clinging ideas of extra-moral dogma and special priesthood, as
limiting the conception of "the Church," would go far to repeat for
our age the work of Socrates for his, and bring down our divine
philosophy from heaven to earth. It gets rid entirely of the false
spiritualism which has either withheld religious men from political
affairs, or induced them to urge on statesmen rules applicable only
where government can be dispensed with altogether. It rescues
Christianity from the degradation of being hypocritically flattered as
the great persuasive to peace by rulers whom it does not restrain from
going to war, and relieves it of an oppressive weight of false
expectation, as though it broke its promise to the world every time a
new case of strife appeared. Nothing can well be more damaging to a
religion, than to commit it to unqualified disapprobation of anything
which must exist while human nature lasts, and to set it frowning with
ineffectual sublimity on the passions and events which determine the
whole course of history. The amiable enthusiasts who propose to
conduct the affairs of nations on principles of brotherly love, and
who, till that consummation is reached, can only stand by and protest,
do but weaken their country for purposes of justice and bring their
faith into merited commiseration. It is commonly said that they are a
harmless class, who may even form a useful counterpoise to the warlike
susceptibilities of less scrupulous men. We have no belief, however,
in the efficacy of falsehood and exaggeration, or in the attainment of
truth and moderation by the neutralizing action of opposite
extravagances. The reverence for human life is carried to an immoral
idolatry, when it is held more sacred than justice and right, and when
the spectacle of blood becomes more horrible than the sight of
desolating tyrannies and triumphant hypocrisies. Life, indeed, is just
the one thing--the reserved capital, the rest, the ultimate
security--on whose disposability in the last resort, and on the free
control over which, the very existence of society depends. The first
and highest social bond is no doubt to be found in a _religious_
sentiment, a common veneration for the same things as right and
intrinsically binding on men that live side by side; and the worship,
with its institutions, of every community, is its instinctive attempt
to get these things spontaneously done by the force of _reverence_.
Could this point be really carried, nothing would remain to be
accomplished; religion would complete and perfect the incorporation of
mutual loyalty which it had begun. But there are some in whom the
sentiment of common reverence fails, and for whose fidelity to the
moral ends of the social union there is therefore no natural guaranty.
To reach these cases, society has no resource but coercive methods,
actual or threatened; the threat is _Law_; the actuality is
_Punishment_; the power to which both are committed is a _Government_;
the commonwealth on whose behalf they exist is a _State_. The very
constitution of a state thus presupposes the _possible violation of
moral right_, the partial failure of religion to secure its
observance, and the determination to _enforce_ on the reluctant an
obedience refused of free will. Force, however, is applicable only to
men's bodies; it is a restraint and pressure on the functions of
their life; and if that life be sacred from infringement, the
political existence of nations is itself an offence against the law of
God. All law, all polity, is a proclamation that justice is better
than life, and, if need be, shall override it and all the possessions
it includes; and nothing can be weaker or more suicidal than for men
who are citizens of a commonwealth to announce, that, for their part,
they mean to hold life in higher esteem than justice. Moreover, there
is a low-minded egotism often disguised in this doctrine of passive
meekness. As an inducement to quiet endurance of wrong, we are
reminded of the duty of "mutual forgiveness." Is all the wickedness,
then, that I am doomed to witness, nothing but a _personal affront_?
When a rascal threatens to blow out my neighbor's brains, or to blast
his character by infamous accusations, am _I_ in a position to forbear
and pardon? Must I not own myself under a solemn trust, to see the
right done and the guilty punished? Nay, would not the injured man
himself greatly mistake the nature of the crime, and measure it by a
paltry standard, if he took it for a mere private offence which it was
his prerogative to punish or to overlook? "Who is this that forgiveth
sins also?" The eternal laws of justice are not of our enacting; and
no will of ours has title to suspend or to repeal them. The real and
only demand of Christian magnanimity is, that we visit them with no
vengeance, but merely with moral retribution;--_that_ is, with no more
severity when directed against ourselves, than when we see them at an
impersonal distance. But to regard and treat the guilty as if he were
an innocent,--that is given to no man, and is even inconceivable of
God. Rulers, at all events, as trustees of rights other than their
own,--and each generation of a people, as charged with the interests
of successors in perpetuity,--have but a limited privilege of
forbearance; the meekness of the saint would in them be treason to the
world. Even in international disputes, where each party may have a
conviction of right, the controversy, but for the possibility of
force, could have no end. It is a delusion to rely on courts as a
substitute for armies, and to suppose that judicial decision can
supersede military. The judge would be of small avail without the
constable; and the arbitrator between nations would need a European
army to enforce his decrees. Where the stake is large and the feeling
strong, it is notorious that the private disputant rarely acquiesces
in an arbitration that goes against him; but carries his case to the
last appeal, where it is stopped by a barrier of impassable force. You
might as well pull down your jails in preparation for the assizes, as
destroy your fleets and arsenals in quest of international
arbitration. We speak only of the ultimate theory of this matter, and
simply affirm, that wherever law and government exist, somewhere in
the background force must lurk. It may, no doubt, be provided in
excess, and paraded without need; and with the progress of a civilized
order, the circle may be ever widened within which the _idea_ of
coercion, with the habits it creates, may be substituted for the
obtrusive reality; till possibly a family of nations may be gathered,
like a group of counties, into a common jurisdiction. But this only
shifts the camp without disbanding it; and, after all, the tipstaffs
of your supreme court could be no other than the legions of a grand
army. We have, therefore, no more doubt that a war may be right, than
that a policeman may be a security for justice, and we object to a
fortress as little as to a handcuff. A religion which does not include
the whole moral law; a moral law which does not embrace all the
problems of a commonwealth; a commonwealth which regards the life of
man more than the equities of God,--appear to us unfaithful to their
functions, and unworthy interpreters of the divine scheme of the
world. Quaker histories, written with omission of all the wars, are
not less morbid as moral mistakes, than a doctrine of Providence,
leaving out the whole realm of heathendom, is narrow as a religious
theory; and the misuse of Scripture which has led to both, is most
dangerous to its authority in an age remarkable for the breadth of its
historical survey and the variety of its ethnological sympathies.

In other ways than those which we have indicated has a mischievous
direction been given to modern thought and feeling, by perverting the
accidental and transient form of the primitive Christianity into
essential and permanent doctrine. But our exposition must proceed no
further. The alternation of ascetic spiritualism and worldly laxity,
the indifference to natural affections and relations, the
exclusiveness at once devout and selfish, the jealous denial of their
rights to intellect and art, the false apprehension of the true
dignity of law and true life of states, have been the more earnestly
dwelt upon from the conviction that these ethical infirmities are
producing a perilous reaction,--a distrust of all ethical laws
whatsoever, a disposition to hold everything divine that finds
strength to realize itself,--a worship of what _is_, in place of an
aspiration to what _ought to be_. To this we cannot consent. We cannot
look on all forms of human life and character with the neutral eye of
an equal admiration, as alike suitable products of formative nature.
We cannot forego the right of judgment,--of embracing with reverence
or spurning with abhorrence; or part with the ideal type of a perfect
soul, to which all others rise as they approach. Neither do we believe
with Luther, that human nature is a mere _devilish_ anarchy, reducible
only by supernatural irruption; nor with the newest school, that it is
a _divine_ anarchy, equally uncontrollable from within, and to be
accepted as a wild fact; but that it is a _hierarchy of powers_, each
having and knowing its rightful place, and appealing to us to maintain
it there. To listen to that appeal, and, in answer to it, strive to
harmonize the _de facto_ with the _de jure_ administration of the
soul, destroying the usurpation of mean errors, and restoring the sway
of kingly truth, is the aim of morals in action and in philosophy.


[55] Luther de Captivitate, Bab. ii. 264. Comp. Dispu. i. 523. Si in
fide fieri posset adulterium, peccatum non esset. Other and yet more
revolting assertions of the same principle are cited by Möhle, in his
Symbolik, I. iii. § 16, whence these passages are taken.

[56] See Luther's Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, _passim_.


    _The Restoration of Belief_. No. I. _Christianity in Relation to its
    Ancient and Modern Antagonists_. Cambridge: Macmillan & Co. 1852.

We have heard it quoted as the remark of a distinguished foreigner,
conversant with the choicest society in several of the capitals of
Europe, that nowhere is the alienation of the higher and professional
classes from all religious faith so widespread and complete as in
England. That the masses at the other end of the social scale are
indifferent or disaffected to the institutions which visibly embody the
Christianity of our age, can be no secret to any observant inhabitant of
a large English town. It is on the middle class alone that the various
forms of Protestant worship have any real hold. Removed alike from the
passionate temptations of the homeless artisan, and from the mental
activity of the statesman or man of letters, the rural gentry and the
urban tradespeople are detained under traditional influences, partly by
the wholesome conservatism of moral habit, partly by helpless
accommodation to conventional standards. Men of this class, if once
really touched and possessed by earnest conviction, are the best
defenders of a religion from _political_ assault. But a faith exposed to
an _intellectual_ struggle finds among them but a precarious shelter;
especially if their attachment to it is less a living persuasion than a
fear of the blank which its removal would create. Persecuted by the
magistrate, they know how to defend their worship from the oppression of
law. Assailed by the critic, they can offer but the resistance of a dumb
impenetrability; they cannot bring their sterling personal qualities to
bear upon the contest; they are obliged, for all active conduct in the
strife, to trust to a body of literary Swiss, engaged to protect the
Vatican of their faith, and accustomed never to report defeat. In
proportion as the methods of sceptical aggression become more
formidable, and its temper more earnest, it is found necessary to
improve the training of the band of Church defenders;--a measure at once
indispensable and fatal; for it lifts them into an intellectual
position, which spoils the blind singleness of their allegiance,
discloses the hopelessness of the task expected from them, and often
destroys their antipathy to the noble revolutionary foe. It is the
vainest of hopes, that a body of clergy, brought up to the culture of
the nineteenth century, can abide by the Christianity of the sixteenth
or of the second; if they may not preserve its essence by translation
into other forms of thought, they will abandon it, in proportion as they
are clear-sighted and veracious, as a dialect grown obsolete. The number
accordingly is constantly increasing, in every college capable of
training a rich intellect, of candidates for the ministry forced by
their doubts into lay professions, and carrying thither the powerful
influence, in the same direction, of learning and accomplishment. The
higher offices of education are, to no slight extent, in the hands of
these deserters of the Church; and through the tutor in the family, or
the master in the school, or the professor in the lecture-room, contact
and sympathy are established between the best portions of the new
generation, and a kind of thought and culture with which the authorized
theology cannot co-exist. College friendships, foreign travel, current
literature, familiarize all educated young men with the phenomenon of
scepticism, and in a way most likely to disenchant it of its terrors.
Thus by innumerable channels it enters the middle class at the
intellectual end of their life, assuming in general the form of historic
and critical doubt; while from below, from the classes born and bred
amid the whirl of machinery, and shaped in their very imagination by the
tyranny of the power-loom, it pushes up in the ruder form of material
fatalism. The intermediate enclosure, safe in the dull innocence of an
unsuspected creed, is growing narrower every day; and, though reserved
to the last for its hour of temptation, will be the least prepared to
win its victory.

No one who appreciates the real sources of a healthy national life,
and knows what to expect from the dissolution of ancient faiths, can
look without anxiety at a prospect like this; especially in a country
whose religious institutions, rigid with usage, overloaded with
interests, charged with the bequests of the past, are manifestly
unequal to the crisis, and, in their attempt to train the affections
of the Future, wield every power but the right one, and are indeed
already regarded, like the Court of Chancery with its wards, as a dry
nursery for grown babies. A people that reverences nothing--nothing at
least that stretches a common heaven over all--has lost its natural
unity. Incipient decay is spreading through the secret cement of its
civilization, which, far from bearing the weight of further growth,
precariously holds its existing mass together. So far we are entirely
at one with those who see something to deplore in the "Eclipse of
Faith," and something to desire in the "Restoration of Belief." They
do not overrate the evils of a state of society in which, if you think
with the wise, you must cease to believe with the vulgar. We would
join with them, heart and hand, in the effort to terminate this fatal
discrepancy, and find some language of devotion and aspiration,
veracious alike from the lips of the richest knowledge and the most
primitive simplicity. But when, like the author whose publication is
before us, they would abolish the discrepancy by simply reinstating
the taught in the creed of the untaught; when they insist on the
surrender without terms of modern philosophy and criticism to the
"unabated" authority of the Bible; when they pretend to wipe out from
calculation all the theological researches of the last half-century,
as if they were mere ciphers made in sport on the tablet of history,
and had no effect on our computed place at all,--we separate
sorrowfully from them, largely sympathizing with their wish, but
wholly despairing of their method. The received theory of the origin
of Christianity from agencies exclusively divine, and of the
infallible character of the canonical books, can no more be
"restored," than Roman history can be put back to its state before
Niebuhr's time, or Greek mythology be treated as if Heyne and Ottfried
Müller had never lived. The present age is not more distinguished by
its advance in the material arts, than by its astonishing progress in
the interpretation and true painting of the past; a Boeckh or a Grote
carries in his mind a picture of Athenian life in the days of Pericles
more perfect, it is probable, than could be formed by Plutarch or
Longinus; and it would be strange if the Christian era--certainly the
object of the most elaborated study--were the only one to escape the
work of reconstruction, or to undergo it without considerable change.
The limits of that change are at present definable by no consentient
estimate; but that they are such as to remove the old lines of
Christian defence, and require the choice of more open ground, can no
longer be denied, except by the astute consistency of a Romanist
hierarchy, and the innocent unconsciousness of English sects. When the
time shall come for a dispassionate history of the first two
centuries,--a history which, resolving the canon back into the general
mass of early Christian literature, shall find an original clew for
tradition, instead of accepting one from its posthumous hand,--which
shall detect opinions before they were heretic or orthodox, and trace
the several streams of tributary thought to their confluence in a
determinate Christianity,--the narrowness of our present polemic will
be apparent of itself; its fears and triumphs be regarded with a
smile; and many, both of its positive and negative results, will
vanish from the interests of religion, and be absorbed in a higher
view of the relation between the Divine and Human in this world.

We had hoped at first that the author of "The Restoration of Belief" was
about to take up the problem of Christianity with a real appreciation of
its altered conditions, and with unaffected justice towards those who
cannot solve it like himself. His present essay is but the commencement
of a series, designed to arrest the progress of educated scepticism, to
expose the sophistries of modern criticism, and re-establish the plenary
authority, as oracles of faith, of the Hebrew and the Christian
Scriptures. It would perhaps be unreasonable to complain that his
argument does not march very far in this first movement; and engages us
rather by the stateliness of its step, than by the clearness of its
direction. Nevertheless, we do think that the discursive license of
introductory exposition is carried by him to an extreme which promises
ill for the exactitude of his method. At the outset he declares that the
difficulties which embarrass modern faith go down to the very depths of
philosophy, and can be resolved only by reaching the ultimate roots of
thought. Yet he remains on the upper surface of history, and, without
once hinting how this is to lead him to the pith of the controversy,
dwells only on facts which are undisputed, and his conception of which
might be as readily gathered from Gibbon as from Neander. Like many
writers whose eye is caught by grandeur of effect, and whose imagination
is sensitive to wonder, he is fascinated by the moment in human affairs
when the Roman Empire was exactly poised between the forces of external
unity and of internal decay, and the political organism of the Past, so
august in its mass and its proportions, held no soul but the young
spirit of the Future. Of this crisis, assigned to the reign of Alexander
Severus, our author presents an impressive and, we believe, a faithful
sketch. Amid the splendor, the misery, the decay of belief and hope, the
universal incertitude of that period, there emerges into notice the
beautiful and beneficent phenomenon of a real Faith,--a Faith that can
live, a Faith that can die. The inevitable conflict between this new
power and the Pagan prerogatives of the Cæsars is well brought out by
the essayist; and the victory of Christianity is justly ascribed to the
peculiar character of the religion, as a feeling directed to a PERSON
rather than the simple assent to an IDEA. It was the force of this
personal feeling which first awakened in men the sentiment of obligation
in regard to religious truth, and substituted faithful veracity for
indifferentism and laxity of profession. The author thus sums up the
positions which he regards the present essay as establishing:--

"That the Christian communities did, during the period that we have had
in view, make and maintain a protest against the idol-worship of the
times, which protest, severe as it was in its conditions, at length won
a place in the world for a purer theology, and set the civilized races
free from the degrading superstitions of the Greek Mythology.

"That in the course of this arduous struggle, and as an unobserved yet
inevitable consequence of it, a New Principle came to be recognized,
and a New Feeling came to govern the minds of men, which principle and
feeling conferred upon the individual man, however low his rank,
socially or intellectually, a dignity unknown to classical antiquity;
and which yet must be the basis of every moral advancement we can
desire, or think of as possible.

"That the struggle whence resulted these two momentous consequences,
affecting the welfare of men for ever, was entered upon and maintained
on the ground of a definite persuasion, or Belief, of which a PERSON
was the object.

"That this belief toward a person embraced attributes, not only of
superhuman excellence and wisdom, but also of superhuman POWER and
AUTHORITY. If we take the materials before us as our guide, it will
not be possible to disengage the history from these ideas of
superhuman dignity."--p. 106.

These positions we certainly conceive to be unassailable. But they lie
so completely out of the field of modern doubt and controversy, that
we are at a loss to imagine what possible use the author can make of
them. The general features of the Christian faith, and the character
of the Church, had assumed in the third century a determinate form,
about which there is no important question between believer and
unbeliever. Who would deny that the disciples for whom Clement of
Alexandria and Origen wrote, whom Tertullian and Minucius Felix
defended, and to whose institutes Cyprian was a convert, believed in
Jesus Christ as a person at once historical and divine, and were
strengthened by that belief to the endurance of martyrdom? The real
and only difficulties lie higher up, in the attempt to trace the
sources and earlier varieties of this belief; and if our author can
show that, in winding its way through two centuries, and traversing
several distinct regions of thought, it dropped or rounded off no
primitive facts, and became mingled with no foreign ideas,--if he can
establish the essential constancy and uniformity, from the first, of
the tradition and doctrine which obtained ascendency at last,--he will
indeed reduce legitimate scepticism within very narrow limits, and
deserve a niche in the Valhalla of critical renown. But if he
contemplates clearing these centuries by an argumentative leap; if,
from the martyr faith of an age later than the Antonines, he means to
conclude the certainty of the Incarnation two hundred years
before,--then we must say, he attempts a logical feat which puts to
shame the cautious steps of such reasoners as Paley, Marsh, and
Whately. The catena of well-linked testimonies, with its bridge of
safe footing, which they have endeavored to sling across the chasm of
the post-apostolic age, is but a paltry cowardice of ecclesiastic
engineering to one who can pass the gulf upon the wing of inference.
An advocate is intelligible, and proceeds upon admitted rules of
evidence, who says with these earlier divines: "Here are the writings
of Paul, of John, of Matthew, and of other men who were present at the
events they relate or assume; whose lives were turned into a new
channel by their influence; and who went to prison and to death rather
than deny them. They positively declare that they witnessed the most
stupendous miracles, and, after their Master had been visibly taken up
through the clouds, themselves habitually exercised the same
supernatural power. You must admit that the guaranties of testimony
can go no further: surrender yourself therefore to the Gospel." This
is an argument which accomplishes all that is possible with historical
evidence in such a case; and were its allegations of fact sustainable,
it would still be the best form into which the reasoning could be
thrown. Unfortunately, we can no longer feel assured that any
first-hand testimony exists, as a distinguishable element, in the
narrative books of the New Testament; so that we can regard them only
as monuments of the state of Christian tradition during a secondary
period. Still, this flaw is not repaired by striking into the course
of belief three or four generations lower down, and substituting the
"Martyr literature" of the third century for the Evangelist memorials
of the second or the first. And when our author transfers to Clement
and Origen the praise of unaffected simplicity usually awarded to the
Apostolic writers, and actually presents it as sufficient proof of
divine attributes in Christ, we can only suppose that, in his opinion,
some truths are too good to have any bad way to them. What else can be
said of the following mode of inference?

"Much do we meet with in these writers that indicates infirmity of
judgment or a false taste; yet does there pervade them a marked
simplicity, a grave sincerity, a quietness of tone, when HE is spoken
of whom they acknowledge as LORD. If there be one characteristic of
these ancient writings that is _uniform_, it is the calm,
affectionate, and reverential tone in which the Martyr Church speaks

"I am perfectly sure that, if you could absolutely banish from your
mind all thought of the inferences and the consequences resulting from
your admissions, you would not, after perusing this body of Martyr
literature, fall into the enormity of attributing the notions
entertained of CHRIST, as invested with Divine attributes, to any such
source as 'exaggeration,' or 'extravagance,' or to 'Orientalism,' or
'enlarged Platonism.' Exaggeration and inflation have their own style:
it is not difficult to recognize it. No characteristic of thought or
language is more obvious. You will fail in your endeavor to show that
this characteristic _does_ attach to the writings in question; and
why should you make such an attempt? There can be no inducement to do
so, unless it appears to be the only means of escaping from some
consequence which we dislike."--p. 107.

Our author professedly opposes "Ancient Christianity" to modern
scepticism, because "History," as he observes, "is solid ground," and no
region of atmospheric phantasms, births from the refracted rays of
metaphysic light. History, however, is solid ground only so far as it is
really explored; and the trending of the land and curving of the shore
in one latitude of time no more enables us to lay down the map of
another, than an anchorage at the Ganges' mouth would enable us to paint
the gorges of the Himalayas, and distinguish the real from the fabulous
sources of the sacred stream. To take us into the basilicas and show us
how Christians worshipped in the days of Alexander Severus, to introduce
us to the Proconsul's court and bid us witness their refusal of divine
homage to Cæsar's image, and then ask us whether a faith like this
_could have had_ any origin but ONE,--this is not _history_, but the
mere _evasion_ of history. We want to know, not what _must have been_
the source, but what _was_ the source, of the great moral power that
rose upon the world as Rome declined. Whoever wishes to shut out human
ideas and natural agencies from participation in the matter, must go
patiently through the entire remains of the early Christian literature;
must trace the conflict between the Hebrew and the Pauline Gospel; find
a place for the peculiar version of the religion given by the Evangelist
John; fix the limits of Ebionitism, of Chiliasm, of Docetism; and show
that these modes and varieties of doctrine stop short of the substance
of the early faith, and do not enter the canonical Scriptures with any
disturbance of their historic certainty. Nothing of this kind do we
expect from our author. For he entertains a conception, respecting the
logic of Christian evidence, which, however prevalent among English
divines, betrays in our judgment a mind not at all at home with the
present conditions of the problem. He seems to think that we can _first_
prove the historic truth of the Scriptures _in general_; and then get
rid of the _difficulties in particular_; and requires us, in obedience
to this pedantic law of logical etiquette, to carry into our
investigation of every successive perplexity the rigid assumption that
the writings with which we deal are "inspired," and their contents of
"Divine authority."

"When a collection of historic materials, bearing upon a particular
series of events, is brought forward, it will follow, upon the
supposition that those events have, on the whole, been truly reported,
that any hypothesis, the object of which is to make it seem probable
that no such events did take place, must involve absurdities which
will be more or less glaring. But then, _after_ the truth of the
history has been established, and when the trustworthiness of the
materials has been admitted, as we proceed to apply a rigid criticism
to ambiguous passages, we shall undoubtedly encounter a crowd of
perplexing disagreements; and we shall find employment enough for all
our acumen, and trial enough of our patience, in clearing our path.
And yet no amount of discouragements, such as these, will warrant our
falling back upon a supposition which we have already discarded as
incoherent and absurd."--p. 110.

We cannot call this a vicious canon of historical criticism; for it
simply excludes historical criticism altogether. The critic's work is
not a process which can go on generically, without addressing itself to
any particular matters at all, and vindicate comprehensive conclusions
in blindness towards the cases they comprise. The judgment that, on the
whole, a certain book contains a true report of events, can only be a
provisional assumption, founded on natural and childlike trust, and can
claim no scientific character, till it comes out as a collective
inference from an investigation in detail of the narrative's contents.
No doubt, the bare fact of the existence of Christianity as a great
social phenomenon in the age of the Antonines, may afford evidence
enough that Jesus of Nazareth was no imaginary being; the genius of the
religion, and the traditional picture of its author, may indicate the
cast of his mind and the intensity of his influence; the institutions
of the Church may betray its origin in Palestine, and the approximate
date of its birth. But these conclusions, founded entirely on reasonings
from human causation, can never carry us into the superhuman; or enable
us to say more respecting the memorials of the life of Jesus, than that
they _may be_ true, and do not forfeit, _ab initio_, their title to
examination by fundamental anachronism, misplacement, and moral
incongruity. How far the existence of this _primâ facie_ case falls
short of "establishing the truth of the history," and "the
trustworthiness of the materials," we need not point out to any one
accustomed to deal with questions of evidence. And as for the great
proposition, that "the Gospel of Christ is a supernaturally
authenticated gift," we cannot imagine how it is to be proved _in
general_, without research into a single miracle. Is it indifferent to
the fact of the Incarnation, that the only two accounts of the birth and
infancy of Jesus are hopelessly at variance with each other? Is the
evidence of the Resurrection unaffected by the discrepancies on which
harmonists have spent a fruitless ingenuity? Are we as sure that, in
reading the Apostles' works, we have to do with "inspired writers," as
if they had _not_ made any false announcements about the end of the
world? What does our author mean by admitting these things as
"difficulties," yet denying them any just influence in abatement of our
confidence? He may form one estimate of their weight, and his opponent
another; but in neither case can they be postponed for treatment in a
mere appendix to the discussion of Christian evidence: they are of the
very pith of the whole question, and, so long as they lie in reserve as
quantities of unknown magnitude and direction of influence, render
historical belief and unbelief alike irrational.

Nor can we for a moment allow that the failure of ever so many "German
theories" to give a satisfactory account of the origin of
Christianity, is any good reason for contented acquiescence in the
received doctrine. Our author insists, that we must make our
definitive choice between some modern hypothesis and the Evangelical
tradition; and either take the facts as they are handed down to us, or
else replace them by some better representation. By what right does he
impose on us such an alternative necessity? Is the critic disqualified
for detecting false history, because he cannot, at his distance, write
the true? Is it a thing unknown, as a product of scholarship, that
fabulous elements disclose themselves amid the memorials of fact? and
is it not an acknowledged gain to part with an error, though only in
favor of an ignorance? If a modern hypothesis as to the mode in which
the religion arose may "break down" by mere internal incoherence and
improbability, why may not the ancient account, if it should be
chargeable with similar imperfections, be liable to the same fate? It
is surely conceivable that _all_ the finished representations we
possess,--Hebrew and Alexandrine, as well as German,--furnish, more or
less, an ideal and conjectural history of the infancy of Christendom;
and that the reproduction of that time may not only be _now_
impossible, but have already become so ere a hundred years were gone.
The baffling of one solution implies therefore no triumph of another;
and if the tradition on which we stand be insecure, our position is
not improved by clipping the wings of every adventurous hypothesis on
which we had thought to escape the common ground.

Our author cannot then change the _venue_ of the great Christian cause
from the first century to the third, and, on the evidence present there,
give even preliminary judgment. The conflict between the new religion
and the old which characterized that period, he paints with striking and
truthful effect; and, contrasting the severe and holy veracity of
martyred disciples with the careless indifference of Paganism to
religious truth, he rightly refers the superiority of the Christians to
their faith in a _Person_, instead of mere assent to an _Opinion_. Is
it, however, correct to regard this as original and exclusive to the
Gospel, and to set it on the forehead of the Church as the very mark of
her distinctive divinity? We think not. The same feature is manifest in
Judaism, to which again it belongs, not as a peculiarity, but in common
with every faith whose Only God is the apotheosis of humanity. It is the
one grand moral characteristic of genuine Theism, as opposed to
Pantheism; rendering it more than the enthusiasm of poetry, the
earnestness of philosophy, the inspiration of genius, and constituting
it, in the deepest sense, Religion. Nor is the ground of the distinction
far to seek. Religion, in its ultimate essence, is a sentiment of
Reverence for a Higher than ourselves. Higher than ourselves, however,
can none be, that have not what is most august among our endowments;
none, therefore, by reason of size, of strength, of duration; none
simply by beauty or by skill; none even by largeness of discerning
thought, but only by free and realizing preference of the most Just and
Good. A Being of living Will can alone be nobler than myself, lift me
above the level of my actual mind by looking at my latent nature, and
emancipate me into the captivity of worship. In other words, reverence
can attach itself exclusively to a _Person_; it cannot direct itself on
what is _im_personal,--on physical facts, on unconscious laws, on
necessary forces, on inanimate objects and their relations, on space,
though it be infinite, on duration, though it be eternal. These all,
even when they rule us, are _lower_ than ourselves; they may evade our
knowledge, defy our power, overwhelm our imagination, but never rise to
be our equals, or conspire to furnish even the symbol of our God. The
mere deification of Nature, the recognition of oneness pervading her
variety, the sense of an absolute ground abiding behind her transient
phenomena, may supply a faith adequate to the awakening of wonder and
the apprehension of ideal beauty, but not to the practical consecration
of life; glorifying the universe as a temple of Art, but railing off
within it no oratory of Conscience. In order to extract anything like a
religion of _conduct_ from this type of belief, its hierophants are
obliged to approach as near as they can to the language of proper
Theism, and not even despise typographical aid for pushing
personification to the verge of personality; uttering various warnings
not to neglect the "_intentions_ of Nature," or insult the "Relentless
Veracities," and inviting sundry offenders to _blush_ before "the
Eternal Powers." The whole force of such expressions is evidently due to
the false semblance of living thought and will with which they clothe
the conceptions of mere abstract relations or physical tendencies. These
rich tints are no self-color, but a borrowed light reflected from a
grander Presence studiously withdrawn from view; and when their gloss is
gone, no positive residuum is found, but a doctrine of hope and fear,
without any element of Duty. It were a mockery, an inanity, to bid a man
spend his affections on hypostatized laws that neither know nor answer
him. In his crimes, it is not the heavy irons of his prison, but the
deep eye of his judge, from which he shrinks; and in his repentance he
weeps, not upon the lap of Nature, but at the feet of God. In his
allegiance, his vow is made, not to the certainty of facts, but to the
majesty of Right, and the authority of an Infinitely Just; and his acts
of trust are directed by no means to the steadiness of creation's ways,
but to the faithfulness of a perfect Mind. In short, all the sentiments
characteristic of religion presuppose a Personal Object, and assert
their power only where Manhood is the type of Godhead. This condition
was imported, or rather continued, from the Hebrew to the Christian
system; and brought with it the devout loyalty of heart, the singleness
of service, the incorruptible heroism of endurance, which had
encountered Antiochus Epiphanes at Jerusalem, as it now met Pliny in
Bithynia, and Quadratus at Smyrna. The Paganism of the Empire, on the
other hand, failed entirely of this condition. It was a mere
nature-worship, expressive of the political dynamics by which, through
the award of a mysterious necessity, Rome had become the centre of the
world. If, among the deities whose congress was now assembled on the
Tiber, there were any which once, in their indigenous seats, had
commanded the full moral faith, and touched the true theistic devotion,
of a people, that time had passed; and the conquered tribes suffered a
more fatal loss when the victorious city adopted their religion, than
when she crushed their liberty. Removed to Rome, the rites of a
provincial worship expressed nothing except that its gods were gods no
more, but had descended from divine monarchic rights to a place among a
pensioned hierarchy. Vanquished divinities inevitably become delegated
powers of nature, and resign their sceptre to the sovereign they are
compelled to own. As the administration of the Empire embraced a
congeries of checked nationalities, so did its pantheon include a
collection of extinguished religions. While as Imperator the head of the
state was the embodiment of its unity by natural force, as Divus he
represented its unity by preternatural sanction; and the divine honors
paid to him were the acknowledgment of a necessity more than human in
the culminating majesty of Rome. These honors would be freely rendered
to him by those who looked on all realized existence, on everything
charged with force enough to come up and be, as equally decreed by "the
Eternal Powers,"--equally divine. Such homage would appear to them the
mere expression of a fact, and a graceful owning of mysterious fates in
its production; and no scruple could withhold them from an act which
contradicted nothing in their mind, and did but fling a breath of pious
incense around the thing that veritably was. It were absurd to expect
the protest of a martyr from a man whose religion you cannot contradict;
who will see a God wherever you ask him; and whose worship asserts
nothing but that, a phenomenon being there, an occult power is behind
it. A faith of this sort is deficient, as an Hegelian would say, "in the
moment of _negation_"; it is all unobstructed affirmation, and can
strike no light because it thus finds nothing to dash itself against.
But let the divine element in the universe cease to be impersonal and
impartially coalescent with the whole, let it live an Individual Mind,
and the requisite antagonism immediately appears. To the Jew, the
worship of Cæsar would be no other than high treason to Jehovah, whose
tool, whose whip of lightning, and whose cup of consolation the Pagan
Emperor might become; but whose emblem and incarnation he could so
little be, that he rather stood defiantly at the head of the opposing
realm, and, even when forced to be the organ, did not cease to be the
competitor of God. For _opposing realm_ there must be, wherever proper
Theism exists. Man feels that his personal attributes, his will, his
character, his conscience, demand conflict for their condition, and
without the possibility of ill could never be; and when he carries them
out into the infinite region, to serve as his image of the Highest, they
bear with them the inseparable shadow of evil, and give it place in the
universe, as the darkness in whose absence light would want its
distinction, the privative without which the beauty of holiness were
nothing positive. Hence, expressed or unexpressed, a dualism mingles
with all genuine theistic faith. All is not divine for it. It has a
devil's province somewhere. Face to face, as Ebal to Gerizim, the frown
of blighted rock to the smile of verdant heights,--hostile as the priest
of falsehood to the true prophet,--there stand contrasted in this creed
two domains of the world,--one surrendered to insurgent powers, the
other reserved as the nursing ground from which right and truth shall be
spread. To the Hebrew, the Pagan world was given over to a false
allegiance, and inspired with diabolical delusions. For him to sacrifice
to the genius of Cæsar, would have been, therefore, a desertion to the
enemies of God, forbidden by every claim of faithfulness and veracity.
Thus we conceive that the moral conditions of the martyrs' protest
against idol-worships were complete within the limits of Judaism before
the mission of Christ; and that the essence of it lies, not in the
exclusive characteristics of the Gospel, but in the difference between
Theistic reverence for a Personal Being, and the Pantheistic
acknowledgment of an impersonal divineness. The peculiar function of
Christianity in this respect was to become missionary to the world of
this heroic fidelity transmitted from the parent faith, and hitherto
bounded by its limits; and to find a place in the universal conscience
of civilized nations for the duty of bearing testimony, though with
tortures and death, to the pricelessness of truth and the sanctity of
conviction. True it is that the Gospel was qualified for this office by
directing human faith upon a _Person_; and would have exercised no such
power, had it been a mere philosophy presenting propositions for assent,
instead of a Living Mind for trust and reverence. But this condition
would have been attained by the simple extension of the Jewish Theism.
The Personality, which is needed as a centre of intense fealty and
affection, is found in the God of Hebrew tradition, and, for its effects
in kindling a martyr courage and constancy, did not require to be sought
in the historical Jesus of Nazareth. He, no doubt, as the mediate
expression of the Supreme Will, as the Being with whom the Church stood
in direct contact, as the presence of the Divine in the Human, _was_ the
object of the disciples' actual allegiance. We do not in the least
question this as a _fact_, but only as a _necessity_, ere we can account
for the moral features of a martyr age.

In singling out, as one of the grandest practical results of
Christianity, the recognition it has obtained for the _obligations of
religious truth_, our author has rightly seized a characteristic
distinction of modern from ancient society. The principle is a real
agency of the first order in history; we do not accuse him of
overrating its importance, but of mistaking its genealogy. And now we
must add, that if we differ from him as to the source whence it comes,
we differ still more as to the issues whither it conducts. So
inconsiderately does he allow himself to be borne away by his
evangelical zeal, that he claims for the Gospel, not only the glory of
first revealing, but the exclusive right of ever practising, the
duties of religious veracity. None but historical believers have the
least title to attach any sacredness to their convictions, or to feel
any hesitation about denying them. What business have the authors of
the "Phases of Faith," and the "Creed of Christendom," to any better
morality of belief than Gallio or Lucian? If they have not fallen back
into the Pagan indifferentism, they _ought_ to have done so, and our
author will continue very indignant till they do. He is offended with
Mr. Newman for asking judgment on his "argument and himself, as before
the bar of God"; and with Mr. Greg for saying that, in the process of
changing cherished beliefs, "the pursuit of truth is a daily
martyrdom," and for giving "honor to those who encounter it, saddened,
weeping, trembling, but unflinching still!" And he is not ashamed to
declare that the guileless veracity which in himself would be a
martyr's constancy, would be in another an overweening conceit. So
astonishing, logically and ethically, are his statements on this
subject, and so curiously do they determine his intellectual position,
that we must present them in his own words:--

"We Christian men of this age, along with our venerated martyr
brethren of the ancient Church, in making this profession,--that we
may not lie to God, nor deny before men our inward conviction in
matters of religion; we (as they did) affirm that which is consistent
within itself, and which, in the whole extent of its meaning, is
certain and is reasonable, grant us only our initial postulate, that
Christianity is from heaven.

"But how is it, when this same solemn averment comes from the lips of
those who deny that postulate, and who scorn to recognize the voice of
God in the BOOK? It is just thus; and those whom it concerns so to do,
owe it to the world and to themselves to make the ingenuous avowal.

"In the first place, the style and the very terms employed by these
writers in enouncing the fact of the martyrdom they are undergoing,
are all a flagrant plagiarism, and nothing better! A claim, in behalf
of the Gospel, must be made of what is its own, and which these
writers, without leave asked, have appropriated. As to every word and
phrase upon which the significance of this their profession turns, it
must be given up, leaving them in possession of so much only of the
meaning of such phrases as would have been intelligible to PLUTARCH,
to PORPHYRY, and to M. AURELIUS. A surrender must be made of the words
CONSCIENCE, and TRUTH, and RIGHTEOUSNESS, and SIN; and, alas! modern
unbelievers must be challenged to give me back that ONE awe-fraught
NAME which they (must I not plainly say so?) have stolen out of the
BOOK; when they have frankly made this large surrender, we may return
to them the το θειον of classical antiquity.

"Yet this plagiarism, as to terms, is the smaller part of that invasion
of rights with which the same persons are chargeable. It is reasonable,
and it is what a good man _must_ do, to suffer anything rather than deny
a persuasion, which is such that he could not, if he would, cast it off.
So it was with the early Christian martyrs; their persuasion of the
truth of the Gospel had become part of themselves; it was faith
absolute, in the fullest sense of the word. The same degree of
irresistible persuasion attaches to the conclusions of mathematical or
physical science; but it can never belong to an opinion, or to an
undefined abstract belief. A man may indeed choose to die rather than
contradict his personal persuasion of the truth of an opinion; but in
doing so he has no right to take to himself the martyr's style. So to
speak is to exhibit, not constancy, but opinionativeness, or an
overweening confidence in his own reasoning faculty.

"Polycarp could not have refused to die when the only alternative was
to blaspheme CHRIST, his Lord; but Plutarch could not have been
required to suffer in attestation of his opinion,--good as it
was,--that the poets have done ill in attributing the passions and the
perturbations of human nature to the immortal gods; nor Seneca, in
behalf of those astronomical and meteorological theories with which he
entertains himself and his friend Lucilius.

"When those who, after rejecting Christianity, talk of suffering for the
'truth of God,' and speak as if they were conscience-bound 'toward God,'
they must know that they not only borrow a language which they are not
entitled to avail themselves of, but that they invade a ground of
religious belief whereon they can establish for themselves no right of
standing. They may indeed profess what _opinion_ they please as to the
Divine attributes; but they cannot need to be told that which the
misgivings of their own hearts so often whisper to them, that all such
opinions are, at the very best, open to debate, and must always be
indeterminate, and that at this time their own possession of the opinion
which just now they happen to cling to, is, in the last degree,
precarious. How then can martyrdom be transacted among those whose
treading is upon the fleecy clouds of undemonstrable religious
feeling?"--pp. 92-94

If, being orthodox, you die at the stake, you are a martyr; if, being
heretic,--why, then you are a man burnt;--a doctrine which Robert Hall
compressed within the narrowest compass, when he said, "It is the
saint which makes the martyr, not the martyr the saint." This is the
very Gospel of intolerance; and whoever preaches it may feel assured
that he can lend no help in any worthy "Restoration of Belief"; for he
is himself infected with the most profound and penetrating of
scepticisms,--scepticisms of moral realities. The rule, "that we may
not lie to God, nor deny before men our inward conviction in matters
of religion," is, in our author's view, the gift and glory of
Christianity. Be it so. This rule either holds for all men at all
times, or it does _not_; if there be persons who, notwithstanding it,
_may_ lie to God, and deny their inward conviction, then the
Scriptures, in communicating it, have revealed no universal principle
of duty, no obligation having its seat in the nature of things and the
constitution of the human soul, but a mere sectional by-law, an
arbitrary precept for the security and good ordering of one exclusive
community. Then must we talk of it no more so exceedingly proudly, as
if it were a hidden truth revealed, a latent beauty opened; it is no
part of the holy legislation of the universe, but a statutory
enactment under which we fall, or from which we escape, as we pass in
or out at the door of a certain historical belief. Need we say that
this side of the alternative strips Christianity of every pretension
to be a moral revelation at all? If, to take the other side, the rule
in question _does_ hold for all men, then it is no less binding on Mr.
Newman and Mr. Greg than on our author; and in bowing to its authority
and owning its sanctity, they render a homage as devoutly true as his,
only different in this, that, while they feel no disturbance from his
kneeling in the sanctuary at their side, he cannot be at peace till he
has sprung to his feet and hurled them from the place. They are guilty
of "plagiarism" forsooth! And in what? In knowing their duty, without
knowing where they learned it! O shame upon this greediness, that
would turn moral truth itself, and struggling aspiration, into a
property! As if Christ were one to stand upon the copyright of
revelation, and, unless his name were in the title-page, would suffer
neither thought nor prayer to dedicate itself to God! Our author, as
public prosecutor in the Supreme Court, demands that the defendants
shall empty themselves out of every earnest sentiment, and surrender
back the words CONSCIENCE, and TRUTH, and RIGHTEOUSNESS, and SIN, and
GOD, "as _stolen_ from the BOOK"! What then was "the Book" given for,
but that it might freely furnish these?--and how better can it fulfil
its end, than by opening for them a sacred welcome wherever the
_things_ are which they disclose? Let their spirit breathe where it
listeth; it will not be less a Holy Spirit that we know not "whence it
cometh": nor let it be forgot how old a feature of evangelic blessing
it is, that "he that was healed _wist not who it was_." As "the Book"
does not, by its presence, _create_ the facts which it reveals, so
neither does its absence or rejection _destroy_ them. Conscience, as
an element of human nature, does not come or go,--God, as reality in
the universe, does not live or perish,--according as the Bible is kept
in the pocket or laid upon the shelf; even if their first _witness_
were in Scripture, _they themselves_ are in the world,--as active, as
near, as certain, in the transactions of to-day, as in the affairs of
distant history. Scientific truth, once well ascertained, can take
care of itself, without being everywhere attended by the report of its
first discovery; it is in the safe keeping of the objects on which it
writes a new meaning, and the phenomena amid which it introduces a
fresh symmetry. And moral truth, when once embodied and revealed, is
not less independent of its earliest expression; it finds its response
in human consciousness, its reflection from human life, and weaves
itself up into the very fabric of many souls, whose pattern bears no
motto of its origin. Thus "revelation"--just in proportion as it is
revelation, and tells us what is cognate to ourselves, and bound up
with the realities around us--passes of necessity into "natural
religion"; and precisely according to the measure in which it does so,
will it acquire strength and permanence, and dispense with evidence by
merging into self-evidence. Did it awaken in us _no_ confirming
experience, did it _nowhere_ link itself with the visible system of
things,--then, solving nothing, glorifying nothing, missed by all the
moving indices of nature and Providence, it would sit apart, and
become incredible. That could hardly be a truth at all, which, after
roaming the world and searching the soul for eighteen centuries, has
found no _natural_ ground on which to rest, and must wander as an
_ipse dixit_ still. And if natural ground it has acquired, _that_ is
surely a proper basis for its present support; it may innocently cease
to be held on mere authority; the very "plagiarism" so vehemently
denounced is rather the fulfilment than the destruction of the faith,
for it is only that men no longer resort to an oracle for things which
the oracle has enabled them to see for themselves.

Our Christian advocate, however, is not content with reserving to his
side the sole power of _discerning_ the duty of religious veracity; he
further claims the sole right to _practise_ it. He teaches that it is
_not binding_ on all men at all times; and that its obligation is in
any case conditional on the "initial postulate, that Christianity is
from heaven." He thinks, apparently, that the duty is not so much
_revealed_ as _constituted_ by the Gospel, so as to have no existence
beyond the pale. We can collect from his words two considerations,
under whose influence he seems to pronounce this strange judgment. He
evidently assumes that the duty of veracious profession is contingent
partly on the _object-matter_ of belief; partly on the _degree of
evidence_. If my faith is directed towards _a Person_, then, he
implies, there is treachery, even blasphemy, in denying it; but if
not, my disclaimer gives no one any title to complain, and I cannot be
expected to die on behalf of a proposition. Polycarp must not renounce
Christ, his Lord; but Plutarch might very properly recant, without at
all altering, his judgment against the poets, for ascribing passions
to the gods. Is it so, indeed? Then there is no harm in a lie, unless
some one is betrayed or insulted by it besides the hearers whom we
deceive,--and we may report as falsely as we please our persuasion
about _things_, provided we are true to our sentiments about
_persons_? With full recollection of the questionable verdicts, on
problems of veracity, which are given by Xenophon and Plato, Aristotle
and Cicero, we doubt whether any Pagan moralist can be quoted in favor
of a doctrine so unworthy as this. The author seems to imagine that
the obligation to speak the truth is a mere duty of personal
affection; and that in the absence of this element, its claims
altogether disappear. Identifying falsehood with detraction and
ingratitude, he concludes that, since an abstract theory is insensible
to what people say about it, and can have no services owing to it, it
may be blamelessly repudiated by those who really believe it. This is
tantamount to an expunging of veracity from the list of human duties
altogether; for it gives importance to what is purely accidental, and
slights what is alone essential to it. The conditions of a lie, in all
its full-blown wickedness, are quite complete, when there is a person
to speak it, a person to hear it, and a social state to be the theatre
of the deception; should there be also a person _spoken of_, that is a
circumstance in no way requisite to constitute the guilt, but a
supplementary condition, flinging in a new element of pravity, and
turning falsehood into faithlessness. The introduction of this
additional person into the case may doubtless render the offence much
more flagrant, especially if he be one who has acknowledged claims on
gratitude and reverence. Calumny and perfidy are justly held in deeper
abhorrence than equivocation unstained with malignity. But to be
unaffected by the criminality till it kindles with this diabolical
glare, and not even to believe in it unless it smells sulphurous and
burns red, betrays a perception too much accustomed to melodramatic
contrasts of representation to appreciate the more delicate tints and
finer moral lights of the real and open day. And so far from the glory
of martyrdom being heightened by the presence of deep personal
affection as its inspiration, this very circumstance renders the act a
less arduous sacrifice; just as to fall in the hot blood of battle may
need less heroism of will, than to die under the knife upon the
surgeon's table. In proportion as the denial of Christ in the hour of
trial would be the more intolerable blasphemy, must the temptation to
it be less overwhelming, and the merit of a good confession less
amazing. And those who, in matters touching no such deep affection,
can yet be true,--those who, in simple clearness of conscience, can
dispense, if need be, with the help of enthusiasm, and so shut their
lips against a lie, that not the searing iron can open them,--those
who do not want a grand occasion, but just as certainly use the
smallest, to fling back the thing that is not,--have assuredly a soul
of higher prowess and more severely proved fidelity to God. And it is
a heartless thing to turn round upon these men, and taunt them with
having no one at whose feet to lay their offering, and no popular
sympathy to redeem their uprightness from the imputation of conceit.

There is, however, another consideration which weighs with our author in
granting to "modern unbelievers" a dispensation from the duty of
religious veracity. They have only a "personal persuasion" resting on
precarious grounds, and not the certitude attaching to "the conclusions
of mathematical and physical science"; and it would be folly to suffer
on behalf of "_undemonstrable_ religious feeling"! Are we then to lay it
down as a canon in ethics, that intensity of assurance is the measure of
our obligation to speak the truth,--so that we are to state our
certainties correctly, but may tell lies about our doubts? If so,
scrupulous fidelity is incumbent on us only within the limits of
deductive science and of immediate personal observation; and in the
great sphere of _human_ affairs, in matters of historical, moral, and
political judgment, nay, in the incipient stage of all knowledge, we may
say and unsay, may play fast and loose with our convictions, according
as the favor or the fear of men hangs over us. Newton was bound to stand
by his "Principia"; but Locke might have renounced his treatise on
Government and taken his oath to the divine rights of kings! Were he
indeed to refuse so easy a compliance, it would be a great reflection
upon his modesty; for if a man, on being threatened with death, will not
belie his own persuasion of probable truth, he is chargeable with
"overweening confidence in his own reasoning faculty"! It is happy for
the world that it does not always except the morals of the Church, but
brings an unperverted feeling to correct the twisted logic of belief.
"Opinion," a wise man has said, "is but knowledge in the making"; and
how little knowledge would get made, if opinion were emptied of its
conscience, and looked on itself as an egotism rather than a trust! If
there is one fruit of intellectual culture which more than another
dignifies and ennobles it, it is the scrupulous reverence it trains for
the smallest reality, its watchfulness for the earliest promise of
truth, its tender care of every stamen in the blossoming of thought,
from whose flower-dust the seed of a richer futurity may grow. To cut
against this fine veracious sense with the weapons of unappreciating
sarcasm, and crush its objects into the ground as weeds with the heel of
orthodox scorn, is a feat which can advance the step of Christian
evidence only by betraying the Christian ethics. Our author has
entangled himself in the metaphor indicated by the word "_martyrdom_";
he thinks of the confessor as _bearing witness_ to something,--which is
indeed quite true; and supposes that the things to which he bears
witness must be _the facts or doctrines_ held by him; and _this_ is not
true at all. For that which we attest in the hour of persecution is
simply _our own state of mind; our belief_, and not the object believed.
We are required to utter words, or to perform acts, that shall give
report of our persuasion; this persuasion is a fact in our personal
psychology about which there is no ambiguity; which, as a presence in
our consciousness, is wholly unaffected by the question how it got
there, and by what logical tenure it holds its seat. Whether we have
demonstrated it into the mind or fetched it thither in a dream, whether
we had it yesterday or shall continue to have it to-morrow, are matters
in no way altering the fact that it is there; and if we say "No" to it,
while conscious of a "Yes," the sin is neither greater when the belief
concerns the properties of a geometric solid, nor less when it touches
some indeterminate problem of metaphysics. The logical ground of our
judgments is various without end,--perception, testimony, reasoning, in
every possible combination. But the persuasion, once attained, is a
simple phenomenon, whose affirmation, or denial, being always positively
true, cannot change its moral complexion with every shade in the
evidence now left behind. It is plain that, in our author's favorite
case of martyrdom, no testimony could be borne by the Christian to
anything but his own conviction. Polycarp and Cyprian could only answer
in the face of death, that they were Christians; it was not "on behalf
of" any outward fact, but simply because they would not belie their
inward belief, that they laid down their lives. And had Plutarch been
dragged before some anthropomorphist inquisition, and been called on
publicly to declare his belief that the immortal gods were well and
truly painted by the poets as having passions like mankind, the lie to
which he was tempted would have been precisely of the same kind; and had
it passed his lips, would have made him despicable as an apostate. He
had no power, nor had the Church confessor, over the truth or evidence
of his opinion; neither of them had any _witness_, in the strict sense,
to bear; but both might veraciously scorn to deny a fact unambiguously
present to their self-knowledge. If the heathen's firmness is an example
of "overweening confidence in his own reasoning faculty," by what
favoring difference does the Christian's escape the same imputation?
That his faith is "absolute," his persuasion "irresistible," so far from
furnishing a vindication, only avows the fact that his "confidence" is
intense; whether it be "overweening" too, must depend on the proportion
between the certitude he feels and the grounds of just assurance he
possesses. But at all events it is a confidence--in this case as in the
other--undeniably reposed "_in his own reasoning faculty_." How else
could any belief--except a groundless belief--reach the convert's mind
at all? It is vain to pretend that the receivers of an historic doctrine
plant their reliance piously on God, while its rejecters proudly trust
themselves. There is no less subjective action of the mind on the
positive side than on the negative; and on the soundness of that action
does the worth of the result in either instance depend. The evidence on
both sides comes into the same court of criticism; and pleading and
counter-pleading must ask a hearing from the same judicial intelligence.
If our author refers the Gospels to the first century, and his opponents
to the second; if he finds a miracle in the gift of tongues, they a
delusion; if he thinks that the reasoning out of the Old Testament in
the New is exegetically and logically sound, they that it is in both
respects unsound;--is he not concerned with the same topics, conducting
the same processes, liable to the same mistaken estimates, as they? How
then can he flatter himself that the same thing is believed on one
tenure, and disbelieved on quite another? How affect, even while playing
the advocate, to be raised above the contingencies of the "reasoning
faculty," and entitled to rebuke its pride? How renounce it for himself,
appeal to it for your _as_sent, abuse it for your _dis_sent, in the
wayward course of two or three pages?

Our author stands, therefore, in spite of every effort to escape it,
on the same logical ground as his opponents; and they, notwithstanding
his objection to their companionship, are on the same footing of
religious obligation with himself. He is offended to find such a one
as Mr. Newman on the same sacred pavement, and to overhear from
unbelieving lips the genuine tones of prayer; and, thanking God,
apprises men that he "is not as this publican." He prosecutes for
trespass all who, after rejecting his Christianity, can dare to
profess allegiance to the "truth of God," and "speak _as if they were
conscience-bound towards God_." Are they then _not_ so bound? Has no
one a conscience except the approved historical believer? Is it not in
others also a Divine voice,--a Holy Spirit,--which to resist and
stifle were the true and only "Infidelity"? Surely the faith in God,
and the earnest acceptance of the laws of duty as the expression of
his authority, are not forbidden to men who cannot assume the
disciple's style. These sentiments, so far from waiting on revelation
for their possibility, are the pre-requisite conditions of all
revelation, the state of mind to which it speaks, the secret power by
which it finds us out; and if men cannot be "conscience-bound towards
God" _before and without_ Christianity, never can they become so
_after it and with it_. It does not take us up as atheists and brutes,
and supply us with the faculties as well as the substance of faith;
else were there no medium of suasion across the boundary of
unbelief;--but it appeals to us as knowing much and aspiring to
more,--as already before the face, only shrinking from the clear look
of God,--as feeling the divine restraint upon us of justice, purity,
and truth, but unable, without some emancipating power, to turn it
into freedom and joy. This spirit of profound sympathy, not of
arrogant insult, towards the highest faiths and affections of our
nature, we recognize in the portraiture and teachings of Jesus Christ;
and when we find one who, like our author, instead of rejoicing that
the sacred embers of nature are yet warm, instead of kneeling over
them to fan them with a breath of reverence into a flame, flings them
with scattering scorn on the damp ground of his own moral scepticism
to show how little they will burn,--we see reversed in the "Restorer
of Belief" the divine temper of the "Author of Faith." Such a teacher
will vainly endeavor to recover by severity of warning the influence
he forfeits by want of sympathy. He cannot frighten men like Parker,
Newman, Greg, by appealing to fancied "misgivings of their own hearts"
respecting the precariousness of their convictions, and uttering
dismal prophecies about yawning gulfs; which, however alarming as a
shudder of rhetoric, can disturb no quiet trust in reality. Let us
hear the words, however:--

"Educated men should not wait to be reminded that those who, after
abandoning a peremptory historic belief, endeavor to retain Faith and
Piety for their comfort, stand upon a slope that has no ledges:
Atheism in its simplest form yawns to receive those who there stand;
and they know themselves to be gravitating towards it.

"It would be far more reasonable for a man to die as a martyr for
Atheism,--a stage beyond which no further progress is possible,--than
to do so at any point short of that terminus, knowing as he does that
every day is bringing him nearer to the gulf. The stronger the mind
is, and the more it has of intellectual massiveness, the more rapid
will be its descent upon this declivity. Minds of little density, and
of much airy sentiment, may stay long where they are, just as gnats
and flies walk to and fro upon the honeyed sides of a china vase; they
do not go down, but never again will they fly."--p. 94.

This is one of the conventional minatory arguments which betray the
absence of security and repose from the heart of the received
theology; whose teachers could never propound it, except from a
position of conscious danger. They must imagine in their own case
that, if they were to find the Gospels no longer oracular, they would
plunge at once into endless depths of negation; and that, unless they
can refute an interpretation of De Wette's, or correct a date of
Baur's, there will be eternal night in heaven. They feel the universe,
and life, and love, and sorrow, and the history of times and races
unbaptized, to be all atheistic through and through,--profane to the
core,--untraced by a vestige, untransfigured by a color, of divine
significance. What they can think of a Being who creates all reality
and lives in it on these blindfold terms, we will not attempt to
decide; but it is no wonder that, having once brought themselves to
believe in Him, they feel how a single move would overset them into
disbelief. This thing, however, is true of their own state of mind
alone; whose spaces, dark throughout with scepticism but for one
distant lamp, might easily be left without a ray. It is consistent
neither with reason nor with experience to threaten with this rule men
who have opened their souls to something else than documentary
authority. It is notoriously false that the career of historic doubt
usually terminates in the loss of all faith in God; nor do we suppose
that our author would have awarded to the atheist, for actually
reaching this point, the praise of "intellectual massiveness," had he
not wanted a heavy weight to slide down his metaphorical inclined
plane,[57] and outstrip the slippery believers who try to stop
half-way. The accusation against Theism, of being possible to the
light-minded and superficial,--a mere sweet-bait to entrap the silly
insects of the intellectual world,--is confuted by the whole history
of philosophy and human culture; all whose grandest names have
connected themselves with the recognition of a religion indigenous or
accessible to the faculties of the soul. Let our author collect on one
side of his library all the giants and heroes of utter disbelief, and
on the other the literature of natural faith; nay, let him ransack for
fresh names and forgotten suffrages Lalande's "Dictionnaire des
Athées"; and if, having weighed the various merits of Leucippus and
Lucretius, of Baron d'Holbach and La Mettrie, of Robert Owen and
Atkinson, he thinks them of more sterling mass than the pure gold of
thought and life accumulated by Socrates, Plato, Antoninus,--by Anselm
and Abelard, Descartes and Arnaud,--by the authors of the "Theodicée,"
the "Essay on the Human Understanding," and the "Principles of Human
Knowledge,"--by Kant and Cousin,--by Butler and Paley and Arnold,--we
can only profess a dissent from his intellectual taste, not less than
from his moral judgment.

The few pages on which we have been commenting were the first--though
they are near the end of the treatise--that fully opened our eyes to
the author's theological _animus_. For a while, his large professions,
and, no doubt, sincere purpose of fairness,--his apparent breadth of
view, and his free hand in putting down his subject on the
canvas,--secured our admiring confidence, and made us feel that here
at length justice, earnestness, and accomplishment will go together.
One feature, indeed, we noticed as giving a suspicious appearance to
his equity of temper; it displays itself more in censoriousness
towards his friends, than in large-heartedness towards his
antagonists. He readily allows faults in the advocates of his own
side, but is never carried away into even a momentary appreciation of
the other. This particular form of impartiality, which consists in
detracting from the merits of allies, instead of delighting in those
of opponents, is the ecclesiastic counterfeit of candor,--the
half-shekel, which is alone payable in the temple-service, but which
nowhere, save at the sacred money-table, is deemed equivalent to the
good Roman coin of common life. Much as we dislike the chink of this
consecrated metal, we hoped that it would only ring for a passing
instant on the ear. But alas! it is an indication seldom deceptive;
and we feel constrained to report that there are, in this tract,
quotations from both Mr. Newman and Mr. Greg, which, if we were in the
court of veracity, and not of theology, we would say are
unconscientiously made. The quotations are made anonymously as well as
unfaithfully, so that the reader, unless haunted by the checking
impressions of memory, cannot correct the injustice of the writer. The
"Phases of Faith" describes, it will be remembered, the gradual course
of Mr. Newman's defections from his original orthodoxy. His first
movements of doubt were naturally timid and inconsiderable, bringing
him only to the conclusion, that the genealogy in the first chapter of
Matthew was copied wrong, and counted wrong, from the Old Testament.
On this step followed a second, and a third, each more important than
the preceding, and necessitating a next more momentous than itself.
The latter stages of his progress included an inquiry into the
evidence of the Resurrection, the miraculous gifts ascribed to the
early Church, the claims to credit of the Apostle Paul, and other
topics, undeniably affecting the very essence of Christian evidence.
Having traced the successive advances of his doubts, Mr. Newman, in a
recapitulary "Conclusion," makes a solemn appeal to his readers, to
say at what point he could have stopped, and to lay a finger
distinctly on the place at which the guilt of his scepticism began.
One by one he counts out the steps by which he had proceeded, and
asks, "Was this the sinful one?" The whole effect of the appeal is
certainly an impression that the series, if not an inevitable
sequence, is very difficult to break; and that, small as the
beginnings were, they linked themselves, by close connection, with
very momentous results. From this chapter our author cites a sentence
or two, but in such a way as immediately to conjoin the small initial
steps of doubt with the great ultimate conclusion, and to make it
appear that Mr. Newman renounced Christianity because he could not
make out the pedigree of Jesus to his satisfaction. The genealogical
difficulty is the only one which he quotes, and as to which Mr. Newman
is permitted to speak for himself. Presenting this as a specimen, and
suppressing all the rest, he says that he could have shown "this
writer" a course far better "than, on account of difficulties _such as
these_, to renounce Christianity"! His citation from Mr. Greg is
introduced as follows:--

"Let another witness be heard; and in hearing him one might think that
his words are an echo that has come softly travelling down, through
sixteen centuries, from some field of blood, or some forum, or some
amphitheatre, where Christian men were witnessing a good confession in
the midst of their mortal agonies! _This_ witness is one who assures
us that 'he can believe no longer, he can worship no longer; he has
discovered that the creed of his early days is baseless, or
fallacious.' Yet he too takes up the MARTYR TRUTH, that we must not
lie to God."--p. 91.

Here, then, Mr. Greg (with concealment of his name) is represented as
one who, by his own confession, _can neither believe nor worship any
more_. Turning to the preface of "The Creed of Christendom," we find
the following original to this quotation:--

"The pursuit of truth is easy to a man who has no human sympathies,
whose vision is impaired by no fond partialities, whose heart is torn by
no divided allegiance. To him the renunciation of error presents few
difficulties; for the moment it is recognized as error, its charm
ceases. But the case is very different with the Searcher whose
affections are strong, whose associations are quick, whose hold upon the
Past is clinging and tenacious. He may love Truth with an earnest and
paramount devotion; but he loves much else also. He loves errors, which
were once the cherished convictions of his soul. He loves dogmas which
were once full of strength and beauty to his thoughts, though now
perceived to be baseless or fallacious. He loves the Church where he
worshipped in his happy childhood; where his friends and his family
worship still; where his gray-haired parents await the resurrection of
the Just; but where _he_ can worship and await no more. He loves the
simple old creed, which was the creed of his earlier and brighter days;
which is the creed of his wife and children still; but which inquiry has
compelled him to abandon. The past and the familiar have chains and
talismans which hold him back in his career, till every fresh step
forward becomes an effort and an agony; every fresh error discovered is
a fresh bond snapped asunder; every new glimpse of light is like a fresh
flood of pain poured in upon the soul. To such a man the pursuit of
Truth is a daily martyrdom,--how hard and bitter let the martyr tell.
Shame to those who make it doubly so; honor to those who encounter it
saddened, weeping, trembling, but unflinching still."--p. xvi.

Our author would snatch from Mr. Greg the right to say, we must not lie
to God. Which has the better right to say, "Thou shalt not lie to men"?

The more ingenuously the modern Orthodoxy lays bare its essence, the
more evident is it that a profound scepticism not only mingles with it,
but constitutes its very inspiration. The dread of losing God, the
impression that there is but one patent way, not of duty, but of
thought, of meeting him, haunt the minds of men, driving some to
Anglicanism to compensate defect of faith by excess of sacrament, some
to Rome in quest of the Lord's body, and prompting others to
conservative efforts of Bibliolatry, conducted with ever-decreasing
reason and declining hope. We have seen, however, no such
exemplification of this radical distrust as in the treatise before us.
Already has the writer declared that the moral side of the universe
sends in, with regard to religion, an empty report. And now he hastens
to tell us that, on the physical side, the watchmen from every
observatory of nature cry out, "No God." He represents the natural
sciences as a huge Titanic, resistless mass of knowledge, perfectly
demonstrable, and completely irreligious; descending, like a glacier,
from the upper valleys of frozen thought; sure to scrape away the wild
pine woods and the green fields of natural religion, yet considerate
enough, for some reason unexplained, to spare the foundations of the
village church. Designating every faith except his own by such phrases
as "theosophic fancies," and "pietistic notions," he assures us that
they will all be put "right out of existence" by "our modern physical
sciences"; and he borrows from the "Positive Philosophy" (apparently by
unconscious sympathy) the following maxim to justify his prediction:--

"In any case, when that which on any ground of proof takes full hold
of the understanding, (such, for example, are the most certain of the
conclusions of Geology,) stands contiguous to that which, in a logical
sense, is of inferior quality, and is indeterminate, and fluctuating,
and liable to retrogression,--in any such case there is always going
on a silent encroachment of the more solid mass upon the ground of
that which is less solid. What is SURE will be pressing upon what is
uncertain, whether or not the two are designedly brought into
collision or comparison. What is well defined weighs upon, and
against, what is ill defined. Nothing stops the continuous involuntary
operation of SCIENCE in dislodging OPINION from the minds of those who
are conversant with both.

"A very small matter that is indeed determinate, will be able to keep
a place for itself against this incessantly encroaching movement; but
nothing else can do so. As to any of those theosophic fancies which we
may wish to cling to, after we have thrown away the Bible, we might as
well suppose that they will resist the impact of the mathematical and
physical sciences, as imagine that the lichens of an Alpine gorge will
stay the slow descent of a glacier."--p. 97.

Here it is alleged that Science and Opinion cannot coexist,--that the
demonstrable will banish the probable. And be it observed, this is to
take place, not simply where contradiction arises between the two orders
of belief, but in _all cases_, from the mere _distaste_ which
quantitative studies produce towards everything which evades their
rules. In this allegation there is, we believe, with much exaggeration,
a certain small amount of truth,--a truth, however, which, so far from
supporting our author's plea against natural religion, offers it a
conclusive refutation. It may be admitted that the exact and mixed
sciences _do_ disincline their votary to put trust in the processes by
which judgments of probability are formed, and alienate him from
thinkers who read off the meaning of the universe by another key than
his. Accustomed to deal with Number and Space, with Motion and Force
alone,--to reason upon them by a Calculus which is helpless beyond their
range,--to exercise Faculties involving nothing beyond the
interpretation of mensurative signs and the conception of relative
magnitudes,--he owes it to something else than his peculiar discipline,
if he has either the instruments or the aptitudes for moral and
philosophical reflection. He carries into the world, as his sole means
of representing and solving its phenomena, the notion of physical
necessity and linear sequence, secretly defining the universe to himself
as Leibnitz defined an organized being,--"a machine, whose smallest
parts are also machines,"--and naturally grows impatient when he finds
himself in fields of thought over which this narrow imagination opens no
track. With respect, therefore, to a certain class of minds, rendered
perhaps increasingly numerous by the long neglect of the moral sciences
in England, it may be quite true, that a spirit of utter disbelief
towards everything beyond the range of necessary matter may more and
more prevail. Let us further grant to our author, for the moment, three
things assumed by him, all of them, however, false:--1. That this
tendency of the "demonstrable sciences" is their _only_ one having a
bearing on "theosophic systems." 2. That it is so _new_, at least in
degree, as to give "opinion" a worse chance for the future than it has
had in the past. 3. That it is a _good_ tendency, favorable to human
knowledge and character. Still we must ask, How is the _oracular
authority of the Bible_ to escape the fate predicted for all
probabilities? Our author assures us that it _will_ escape; but he gives
no faintest hint of a reason for so singular an exception to his own
canon. It cannot be contended that the evidences of Christianity and
Judaism belong to any of the "demonstrable" or "physical" sciences. It
cannot be denied that they lie wholly within the limits of contingent
knowledge, and terminate only in "probabilities"; that the authorship,
for instance, of the fourth Gospel, the credibility of the introductory
chapters of Matthew, the correctness of the prophecies about the second
advent, are matters which, "standing contiguous" to the laws of
refracted and reflected light, occupy the position of the _less sure_ in
relation to the _more sure_; that the _relative_ chronology of the
Scripture books is more indeterminate than that of the geologic strata,
and their _actual_ dates more uncertain than those of the eclipses fatal
to Nicias and to Perseus. What, then, is to exempt these judgments of
verisimilitude from being pushed "right out of existence" by the "silent
encroachment of the more solid mass" of knowledge beside it? Nothing can
be plainer than that all testimonial knowledge whatsoever, all history,
criticism, and art, the whole system of moral and political sciences,
must fall under our author's fatal sentence; and how the propositions
which sustain the infallible authority of the canonical books are to
hold their ground against the huge glacier on which Herschel, Airy and
De Morgan, Comte and Leverrier, triumphantly ride, it is not easy to
conceive. Amid the universal crash of probabilities, may not the Mosaic
tables of stone, broken once, be pulverized at last? With the abrasion
of all the alluvial soil in which the growths of wonder strike their
roots, will the garden of Eden, will the blighted fig-tree, remain to
mark a verdant and a barren spot in history? Will these riding
philosophers from their cold observatory find Paul's "third heaven"? May
not their icy mountain slip into "the abyss" whence all the demons came,
and fill it up? These questions, indeed, are answered for us in
experience. It is notorious that, whenever an unbounded devotion to
science has produced a prevalent tendency to disbelief, Revelation, so
far from being spared, has been usually the first object of attack; and,
both at the origin of modern science in the sixteenth century, and
during its accelerated advance towards the close of the eighteenth, the
widening conception of determinate Law was found to threaten nothing so
decisively as the faith in supernatural dispensations. The greater
scepticism includes the less; and the habit of mind which lets slip all
beliefs not legitimated by the canons of natural science, cannot
possibly retain Christianity.

But our author has only _half_ described the mental effect of studies
purely scientific. They do not, in the nature of things they _cannot_,
simply push out of the mind all contingent judgments. Human life and
action are one continuous texture of such judgments, with some
interweaving, no doubt, of mathematic forms, which could not be picked
out without spoiling the symmetry of its pattern; but were you to
withdraw the threads of probable opinion, still more, to cut the warp
of primitive assumptions that stretches through it, the web would
simply fall to pieces. No youth can decide on a profession, no man
appoint an agent in his business, no physician prescribe for a
patient, no judge pronounce a sentence, no statesman answer a
despatch, without a constant resort to "surmises," a reliance on
slender indications, often even a deliberate adoption of very doubtful
hypotheses. All men are driven from hour to hour into positions
demanding combinations of thought which can be borrowed from no
natural science; where not the laws of matter and motion, not the
equilibrium of forces, not the properties of things, are chiefly
concerned, but the feelings and faculties of persons, the action and
reaction of human affairs. Mathematicians and natural philosophers,
being in no way exempt from these conditions, are obliged to have just
as many "opinions" and "guesses" as other men; they cannot, if they
are to keep their footing on this world at all, have a smaller stock
than their neighbors of this "logically inferior" order of
persuasions. They are unable to abdicate the necessity of having these
persuasions; and their only peculiarity is, that they sometimes import
into contingent affairs the methods with which habit has rendered them
familiar in another sphere, and so find the conditions of belief
unsatisfied; and at others, from consciousness that their own clew
will not serve, yet inaptitude for seizing a better, surrender
themselves to the fortuitous guidance of ill-balanced faculties and
external solicitations. Hence their judgments are frequently
fantastic, frequently sceptical,--not less liable to be too easy from
one cause than to be too reluctant from another; and were a history to
be written of the most remarkable extravagances, positive as well as
negative, by which religion and philosophy have sprung aside from the
centre of common sense and feeling, it would contain more names of
great repute in the exact sciences than from any other intellectual
class whatever. From Pythagoras to Swedenborg, the eccentricities of
mathematical and physical imagination have been the chief disturbers
of a natural and healthy faith. Harmonic theories of the universe,
Ideal Numbers, Geometric Ethics, Rosicrucian fraternities, Vortices
and Monads, Apocalyptic studies, New Jerusalems, and Electrobiological
Metaphysics, have all borne testimony to the aberrant fancy of eminent
proficients in the sciences. It is, therefore, far from being
universally true, that disputable theosophies and conjectural systems
of the universe are distasteful to minds schooled in the "demonstrable
sciences." If to men of this order we owe the successive dislodgement
of one such hypothesis after another, to them also do we owe their
continual reproduction. Whether the unsoundness of judgment which is
contracted in the absence of historical, moral, and metaphysical
studies shall show itself in an excessive slowness or an excessive
facility of belief, will depend on accidents of personal character and
social position. But of this we may be sure;--if the _sceptical_
temper be the direction taken, the Bible will not be spared; if the
_credulous_, "theosophic fancies" will be copiously saved.

Can there, after all, be a more paradoxical spectacle than that of a
religious writer allying himself with the sceptical propensities of
science, in order to get rid of gainsayers of the Bible? It is the
counterpart in logic of the Italian game in politics,--the Pope
appealing to Parisian swords to drive out the Republic, and save the
head of Christendom. Is it possible that our author can _approve_ the
agency which he thus invokes? that he can really wish to see it in the
intellectual ascendant, and garrisoning every sacred fortress of the
world? Does he remember what are the fundamental canons of its
logic,--that we know nothing but Phenomena,--that Causation is nothing
but phenomenal priority,--or else, that Force is the prior datum of
which Thought is a particular and posterior development? And what, on
the other hand, are the "theosophic fancies" against which he would
plant this barbaric artillery of Fate? They are such as these,--that our
faculties give us trustworthy reports, not of phenomena only, but of
their abiding ground,--Soul within, God without;--that the moral Law of
Obligation in the one is the expression of Holy Will in the other;--that
faithfulness in the Human mind to its highest aspirations, brings it
into communion with the Divine;--that as the Soul is the free Image, so
is Nature the determinate Handiwork of God. If these doctrines, spurned
by our author with so rude a flippancy, _were_ to surrender to the
hostility on which he relies, is he unaware of the character the
conflict would assume, and of the dynasty of thought which would reign
undisputed at the close? Fighting by the side of such allies against
"theosophic fancies," _he_ may skirmish with the "fancies," but _they_
will bear right down upon the "Theism" in the centre; and when the day
is over, the standard they will plant upon the conquered towers will
be, not the sacred dove he took into the field, and lost to the defeated
foe, but their own blind black eagle of necessity. How strange is the
perversion of instinctive sympathies, when a theologian disparages the
sciences of reflection and self-knowledge, and takes his stand on the
evidence of sense and measurement alone!--when he proposes to sweep out
beliefs that trouble him with their neighborhood, by a general crusade
against all probabilities,--and when, with this design, he violates the
just balance of power among the kingdoms of human knowledge, and
flatters, as if it were a virtue, the pretensions of a mental habit,
which, out of its own province, is one of the most incapacitating, yet
destructive, of intellectual vices! There is, however, a certain secret
affinity of feeling between a Religion which exaggerates the functions
and overstrains the validity of an external authority, and a Science
which deals only with objective facts, perceived or imagined. The point
of sympathy is found in a common distrust of everything internal, even
of the very faculties (as soon as they are contemplated as such) by
which the external is apprehended and received. And between this sort of
faith and the mathematics there is another analogy, which may explain so
curious a mutual understanding. Both rest upon _hypotheses_, which it is
beyond their province to look into, but after the assumption of which,
all room for opinion is shut out by a rigid necessity. _Once get_ your
infallible book, and (supposing the meaning unambiguous) it settles
every matter on which it pronounces; and once allow the first principles
and definitions in geometry to express truths and realities, and you can
deny nothing afterwards. It is the business of philosophy to go _below_
the mathematics, and determine whether they are _more than hypothetical_
science,--whether their assumptions are a mere play of subjective
necessity, or are objectively trustworthy. It is the business of both
reflective philosophy and historical criticism to go below "the BOOK,"
and determine whether it has _more than hypothetical_
infallibility,--whether the conditions, inner and outer, of such a
claim, are or are not satisfied. If even the Mathematics, which have
little to fear from the investigation of their basis, have not been on
the best terms with Metaphysics, it is hardly surprising that a Religion
of mere external authority should feel antipathy for the studies which
pry into its foundations, with the inevitable effect of showing that
what is _certainty_ above ground is _opinion_ below. Nor is it wonderful
that both sets of beliefs are fond of forgetting their hypothetical
origin, contemplating only their acquired semblance of security, and
speaking as if they disowned contingency altogether, and despised the
detractors who could suspect such a taint in their blood. Hence the
fellow-feeling which occasionally unites a rigid theology, and an
exclusive physical and mathematical science. It is founded on their
joint antipathy to the sources of _moral_ knowledge,--their common
blindness to one half of human culture. Like all alliances resting on
antipathy alone, it is neither honorable nor durable. It is the function
of Religion to occupy a tranquil seat above the contests of partial
pursuits and narrow interests; as, in the world of action, to hold the
balance of Right, so, in the world of intellect, to preserve the
equities and the equilibrium of Truth; and her trust is betrayed by any
one who flings himself, as her representative, into the civil wars of
the sciences, and in her name signs away whole provinces of thought, and
abandons them to outrage and confiscation as conquered lands. Human
faith has nothing to fear from the unity and perfection of all the
sciences; but much from the blind ambition of each one. It is from this
persuasion alone, and not from any defective appreciation of physical
studies, that we have spoken freely of their tendency, when the mind is
entirely enclosed within them. The undoubted source of inestimable
blessings to mankind, and an indispensable element of culture to the
individual, they are mischievous only when they grow dizzy with success,
and propound schemes of universal empire. The moment they undertake
either to create or destroy a religion, the sign is unmistakable that
this intoxicated ambition has begun to work.

The relation of Religion to History our author appears to us to
conceive much more correctly than its relation to Science. On this
great topic, however, our limits forbid us to enter. One remark only
we will make. The author misconceives the objection of Theodore Parker
and others to the ordinary doctrine of historical revelation. They do
not, as he affirms, "disjoin religion from history," or in the least
decline the "travelling back to ages past" on its account. It is not
the _presence_ of God in antiquity, but his presence _only_
there,--not his inspiration in Palestine, but his withdrawal from
every spot besides,--not even his supreme and unique expression in
Jesus of Nazareth, but his absence from every other human
medium,--against which these writers protest. They feel that the usual
Christian advocate has adopted a narrow and even irreligious ground;
that he has not found a satisfactory place in the Divine scheme of
human affairs for the great Pagan world; that he has presumptuously
branded all history but one as "profane"; that he has not only read it
without sympathy and reverence, but has used it chiefly as a foil to
show off the beauty of evangelic truth and holiness, and so has dwelt
only on the inadequacy of its philosophy, the deformities of its
morals, the degenerate features of its social life; that he has
forgotten the Divine infinitude when he assumes that Christ's
plenitude of the Spirit implies the emptiness of Socrates. In their
view, he has rashly undertaken to prove, not _one positive_ fact,--a
revelation of divine truth in Galilee,--but an _infinite
negative_,--no inspiration anywhere else. To this _negation_, and to
this alone, is their remonstrance addressed. They do not deny a
_theophany_ in the gift of Christianity; but they deny two very
different things, viz.:--1. That this is the _only_ theophany; and, 2.
That this is theophany _alone_;--that is, they look for _some_ divine
elements elsewhere; and they look for _some_ human here. It is not
therefore a smaller, but a larger, religious obligation to history,
which they are anxious to establish; and they remain in company with
the Christian advocate, so long as his devout and gentle mood
continues; and only quit him when he enters on his sceptical
antipathies. This, in spite of every resistance from the rigor of the
older theology, is an inevitable consequence of the modern historical
criticism. Its large and genial apprehension opens for us new
admirations, new sympathies, clearer insight into human realities,
throughout the nations and ages of the past. It melts away from our
ancient moral geography the ideal contrasts of coloring which made the
world the scene of an unnatural dualism, and reinstates the great
families of man in unity. It is doing for our conception of the moral
world what science has already done for our conception of the natural:
it is expanding our notion of Divine agency within it. As, in
reference to physical nature, we have learned to think that God did
not enact creation but once, and cease; so are we beginning to
perceive, in relation to the human mind and life, that he did not
enter history only once, and quite exceptionally. Whoever opens his
heart to this great thought will find in it, not the uneasiness of
doubt, but the repose of faith. He will no longer fancy that, in order
to keep Christianity as the divinest of all, he must fear to feel
aught else divine. He will worship still at the same altar, and sing
his hymn to the same strain; only with a richer chorus of consentient
voices, and in a wider communion of faithful souls.


[57] The question has been raised, whether the author of "The
Restoration of Belief," who presents himself to us through the
Cambridge publisher, is really a University man? To those who are
curious about such critical problems, we would suggest this
consideration, as having some bearing on the case: "Could a person who
had studied the laws of accelerated motion at the authoritative school
of English science have so forgotten his formulas as to make his
_heaviest_ man on that account his _quickest_?" The authorship,
however, is not less evident than if the book had been published by
Messrs. Longmans, or by Holdsworth and Ball.


    "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak
    in other tongues, according as the Spirit gave them utterance. And
    there were sojourning at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every
    nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the
    multitude came together; and they were confounded because every
    one heard them speaking in his own language."--Acts ii. 4-6.

In that marvellous scene, the anniversary of which coincides on this
Whitsunday with our Centenary, a question long pending between the
Rabbis and the Holy Spirit came to an open issue. They were Aramæan
scholars, and had their Kingdom of Heaven set forth in the best
Hebrew, which, true enough, was of no great human currency, and not
strictly a living tongue at all; but then had been distinguished by
Divine use from the earliest time. Was it not in this that the Call
had come to Abram? and the promises been repeated to the Patriarchs?
and the music been flung from the harp of David? and the burdens of
inspiration been treasured on the Prophet's scroll? Who could quote a
word that God had ever spoken in any other language? It was the one
sacred idiom, from which all others are divergent corruptions, and to
which, when the world's confusion is over, they must again return.
However few in these decadent ages might understand it still, it was
intrinsically fitted to be universal. And who could call _that_ speech
provincial, at whose sound the heavens and earth arose? or esteem it
temporary, when it persevered through the dispersion at Babel, and
was present on the world before the Flood? So there must be nothing
else allowed in the liturgies of the Synagogue, in the reading of
Scripture, or in any intercourse between _man and God_. Only when men
began to converse _with one another_, to compare their human thoughts,
and descend from prophetic to didactic gifts, might they resort to the
media of profaner life. The language of Worship was but one; though
the jargons of Opinion were many. And so the Scribes and the Rabbis of
the written Word supposed themselves to hold the only key of life.

But the Holy Spirit goes into no one's keeping, and is no respecter of
tongues. Free as the wind to blow where it listeth, it sweeps wherever
souls are genial to its breath, and will yield to it their gifts, of
love, of lips, of life. It seemed to have had enough of Hebrew, ever
since it had gone into the hands of the philologists, and been made a
sacred language, and begun to drone. It had long been feeling its way in
other directions, tempting men to pray out of the fresh heart, and never
mind the words, till now at last the secret broke, that on any native
tongue by which souls most freely flow together, may all pass out to
God; that the home-sounds are the devoutest too; that the speech into
which men are born, and which has become to them as a stringed
instrument answering to the faintest touch of their affections, is the
true vehicle by which "the Spirit giveth utterance." The prayer of
faith, ascending in the idioms of every latitude, converges into one in
heaven. And God's truth, descending to this world, breaks into all the
moulds of expression native to our various race.

_One Gospel in many dialects_,--that is the great Pentecost lesson,
construe the miracle as we may. And there are dialects of _Thought_ as
well as speech,--natural differences of temperament and character,--to
which the Gospel, still without prejudice to its unity, adapts itself
with the same divine flexibility. What private observer--still more
what student of history--can doubt that we are not all made in the
same mould,--that the proportions of our humanity are variously
mixed,--that not only do we individually differ in moral
susceptibility and spiritual depth, but fall into permanent groups
marked by distinct and ineradicable characters, and reproducing the
same religious tendencies from age to age? Transpose the souls of
Plato and Pascal into the right place and time, and do you suppose
they would turn up as _Latitudinarian Divines_? Deal as you will with
the lot of Priestley and Belsham, and could you ever enroll them among
the _Christian Mystics_? Close in the fires of Augustine's nature with
what damps you may, and could you ever find him peace in a Gospel of
_Good Works_? No; we touch here on differences deeper than accident,
and irremovable by culture,--differences that vindicate their reality
by crossing the lines of dissimilar religions and reappearing in all
times. They necessarily give us differing wants and experiences; they
set into differing shapes of faith; and on souls equally faithful they
fix very differing expressions. They are so many _vernacular idioms of
the inner mind_: all have divine right to be: no one of them is
entitled to call itself the sacred language alone intelligible between
man and God; and the pretension of any to supersede the rest, and
reign alone, is not less vain than the complaints of ignorance against
foreign dialects, and the ambition to exchange the many running waters
of local literature into the huge tank of a universal language. They
may not be able to understand each other, or even with the key of
outward comparison always bear translation into idioms other than
their own. But let them speak in their own way, and pray their own
prayer. Not only are they all clear to Him that readeth the heart;
there will thus be _more heart for Him to read_: for faith and love,
large as they may be, are ever deepest in their special tones; and the
prayer, the hymn, which is touched with the spirit's local coloring,
comes to us like the aroma of native fields, and assuages our thirst
like the sweet waters of some well given to our fathers and made
sacred by a Saviour's noonday rest.

On this principle,--that different types of natural genius in men
cannot but throw their Christianity into different forms,--we may not
only justify the divisions of Christendom, but even cease to wish that
they should disappear. Unity no doubt there must be: God is one; Truth
is one; the Gospel is one; and a mind that could take in the whole,
and spread its insight and affections in all dimensions at once, would
reach the Divine equilibrium, in which nothing partial preponderates.
But from our watch-tower we can look through only one window at once;
the blind walls of our mental chamber shut out all the rest; and as we
kneel, like Daniel, at the open light, the breeze upon our face seems
sacred, because it comes from our Jerusalem. The question is not,
whether there is such a thing as truth, rounded off, self-balanced,
and complete; in the mind of God,--the final seat of reality,--of
course there is. Nor is it a question, whether each individual man can
attain a faith consistent in its parts, agreeable to fact, and
adequate to his nature. This also is possible. But when he has
attained it, on what terms is it to co-exist with other faiths
presenting parallel pretensions? Is he in his heart to identify his
own with the absolute truth, sufficient for _all_ as for himself? Is
he to expect them to come round to it, and altogether throw away their
own? Or is he to confess to himself his own limitations, to suspect
that he may have his blind sides, and reverently to seek something he
has missed in that which others persist in seeing? In which direction
is he to seek unity? By antipathy to all beliefs save one?--or by
inviting all of them to live their life and show their place in human
nature? It is the genius of Romanism to seek unity by _suppression_;
of Protestantism, by free _development_;--of the former, to protect
the consistency it has; of the latter, to press forward to one that it
has not. Are we taunted with our "Protestant variations"? Why, the
more they are, the richer is our field of experience, the finer our
points of comparison; provided, however, that we hold fast to the
noble trust in a Gospel of identity at bottom, and seek it rather in
the religious heart of all the churches, than in the theologic wisdom
of our own. No man can proclaim the principle of "_One Gospel in many
dialects_," unless he is prepared to admit that his own faith is _one
of the dialects, and nothing more_; to presume a meaning in the
others, however hid from him; and while they remain to him a mere
inarticulate jargon, to ascribe it sooner to his own incapacity than
to their insignificance. When God's truth, refracted on its entrance
into our nature, shall emerge into the white light again, not one of
these tinted beams can be spared. Let us for a moment arrest and
examine them. Let us look at the chief varieties which Christianity
assumes as it penetrates the soul; at once recognizing our own place,
and appreciating that of others.

There are three great types of natural mind on which the Spirit of
Christ may fall; and each, touched and awakened by him, "utters the
wonderful works of God" in a language of its own.

(1.) There is the _Ethical_ mind, calm, level, and clear; chiefly
intent on the good-ordering of this life; judging all things by their
tendency to this end; and impatient of every oscillation of our nature
that swings beyond it. There is nothing low or unworthy in the
attachment which keeps this spirit close to the present world, and
watchful for its affairs. It is not a selfish feeling, but often one
intensely social and humane; not any mean fascination with mere
material interests, but a devotion to justice and right, and an
assertion of the sacred authority of human duties and affections. A
man thus tempered deals chiefly with this visible life and his
comrades in it, because, as nearest to him, they are the better known.
He plants his standard on the present, as on a vantage-ground, where
he can survey his field, and manœuvre all his force, and compute the
battle he is to fight. Whatever his bearing towards fervors beyond his
range, he has no insensibility to the claims that fall within his
acknowledged province, and that appeal to him in the native speech of
his humanity. He so reverences veracity, honor, and good faith, as to
_expect them_ like the daylight, and hear of their violation with a
flush of scorn. His word is a rock, and he expects that yours will not
be a quicksand. If you are lax, you cannot hope for his trust; but if
you are in trouble, you easily move his pity. And the sight of a real
oppression, though the sufferer be no ornamental hero, but black,
unsightly, and disreputable, suffices perhaps to set him to work for
life, that he may expunge the disgrace from the records of mankind.
Such men as he constitute for our world its moral centre of gravity;
and whoever would compute the path of improvement that has brought it
thus far on its way, or trace its sweep into a brighter future, must
take account of their steady mass.

The effect of this style of thought and taste on the _religion_ of its
possessor is not difficult to trace. It _may_, no doubt, stop short of
avowed and conscious religion altogether; its basis being simply
moral, and its scene temporal, its conditions may be imagined as
complete, without any acknowledgment of higher relations. But,
practically, this is an exceptional case. A deep and reverential sense
of Moral Authority passes irresistibly into Faith in a Moral Governor;
and Conscience, as it rises, culminates in Worship. And to such
natural religion, the hearty reception of the revealed Gospel is so
congenial a sequel, that Christianity has enlisted its chief
body-guard--its band of Immortals--from the writers of this school. In
the _form_ which they give to the faith, they are true to themselves,
still keeping close to the human, and, except to sanction and glorify
this, not apt to dwell upon the Divine. The second table of
commandment has more reality to them than the first; and the whole of
religion presents itself to their mind under the idea of _Law_. God in
Christ teaches us his Will; publishes the punishment and the reward;
and requires our obedience; aiding us in it by the perfect example of
Christ, and reassuring us under failure by the offer of pardon on
repentance. Now this is a true Gospel; not a proposition of it can be
gainsaid; and whoever from his heart can repeat this creed;--God is
holy; morality, divine; penitence, availing; goodness, immortal;
guilt, secure of retribution; and Christ, our pattern for both
lives,--is not far from the kingdom of Heaven, and has a faith as much
beyond the practice, as it is short of the professions, of the great
mass of Christians. If he has an equable, rational, and balanced
nature; if he can depend on himself, and reduce his will to the
discipline of rules; if he have affections temperate enough to follow
reason instead of lead it, and to love God by sense of fitness and
word of command; if moral prudence is so strong in him that he can
bear the idea of "doing good for the sake of everlasting happiness";
if no wing ever beats in his soul that takes him off his feet;--his
wants are provided; he has guidance for the problems that will meet
him on his way,--indications of duty,--grounds of trust,--and a path
traced through every Gethsemane and Calvary of this world, to the
saintly peace of another.

But while this is a _true Gospel_, is it the _whole_ Gospel? Not so;
unless the voice of the Saviour is to reach only a part of our
humanity, and in response draw but a "little flock." For not many of
our race are made of this even and unfermenting clay. Who can deny
that there abound,--and among the greatest names of Christian

(2.) _Passionate_ natures, that cannot thus work out _their own
salvation_, but ever pray to be taken whither of themselves they cannot
go? It is not that they are necessarily weak of will, deficient in
self-control, and unequal to the human moralities. Rather is it, that
they get through all these, and yet can find no peace. Duty, as men
measure it, may be satisfied; but still the face of God does not lift up
its light. For want of that answering look, it is all as the tillage of
the black desert; digging by night without a heaven above, and sowing in
sands which no dew shall fertilize. Intense and effectuating resolve was
certainly not wanting in Luther; what his young conscience imposed, his
will achieved,--wasting asceticism, persevering devotion, humble
charities; yet the shadow of death brooded around his irreproachable
obedience. Is it not that the same sorrow which, in more level minds, is
brought by a fall of the will, arises in these men from the ascent of
their aspirations? Haunted by the image of God's _Holiness_, drawn to
it, yet fluttering helplessly at immeasurable depths below it, they
strain after an obedience they cannot reach, and never lose the sense of
infinite failure. Measured by their aims, their power is nothing. Did
the law of Christ require nothing but works which the hand could do, its
conditions would be finite, and might be satisfied. But its claims sweep
through the affections of the soul; and who can _make himself love_
where he is cold? who set himself behind his own thoughts, and keep
guilty intruders outside the door of his nature? Impossible! the inner
life, which is the special seat of our divine concerns, evades our
laboring prudence, and tortures conscience without obeying it. How then
do these sufferers find their emancipation? They have a Gospel,
according to which Christ is not given as the Teacher of Law, but set up
as the personal object of pure Trust and Love. God sent his Son in the
likeness of sinful flesh, to mitigate the Divine into gentleness, to
elevate the Human into holiness, and show how there is one moral
perfection for both; surrendered him to humiliation and self-sacrifice;
placed him in heaven; and offered to accept pure _faith and love towards
him_ as the reconciling term for the human soul,--as the substitute for
an unattainable ideal of obedience. Here then is the salvation of these
passionate natures. This simple trust, this intense affection, is
precisely what they have to give. They cannot direct themselves; but
only fix their love, and you may lead them as a child. Self-discipline
is impossible; self-escape triumphant. Try from within to hold the
struggling winds of their nature with iron bands of law, and you do but
stir the sleeping storms. Set in the heavens without an orb of divine
attraction,--a new star in the East,--and you carry their whole
atmosphere away. Engage their faith; and for the first time they will
prevail over their work. Let there be an appeal of Grace to their
enthusiasm,--a whispered word, "_Lovest thou me?_"--and the very burden
that was too heavy to be borne loses all its weight; and the drudging
mill of habit, that seemed so servile once, they pace with songs and
joy. There are men who so need to be thus carried out of themselves,
that without it their nature runs to waste, or burns away with
self-consuming fires. They are like one who, in a dream, should set
himself to climb a far-off mountain-top; if he tries to run, he cannot
even creep, and only wakes himself to find that he lies still on the bed
of nature. But if the thought of his mind should be, that an
overmastering power--chariot of fire and horses of fire--lifts him away,
he floats through the clear space, till, without effort, his feet stand
upon the visionary hills.

Here then, again,--in this doctrine of Faith,--we have a true Gospel,
speaking to many hearts impenetrable by the doctrine of Works. But
have we even yet the _whole_ Gospel? Has the Good Shepherd, in these
two words, made his voice known to all that are his? Or are there
other sheep still to be gathered that are not of these folds? I
believe _there are_. For thus far we have looked only at the _moral_
side of Christian doctrine,--at its different answers to the problem
of Sin,--at the conditions of ultimate acceptance with God,
notwithstanding deep unworthiness. Whether you say, Patiently obey,
and you shall grow into perfection of faith and love; or, Fling
yourself on faith and love, and you will find grace for patient
obedience;--in either case you are prescribing terms of salvation; you
have the _future life_ specially in mind, and are anxious to make
ready the soul _there_ to meet her God. But there are persons who
cannot fix any particular solicitude upon that crisis, as if all
before were probation, and all after were judgment,--as if here were
only faith in an absent, and there sight of a present God;--who cannot
dramatically divide existence into a two-act piece, first Time, then
Eternity, and wait for the Infinite Presence, till the curtain rises
between them; but are haunted by the feeling that, as Time is in
Eternity, so is Man already shut up in God. This is the indigenous
sentiment of another natural type of mind, which may be called,--

(3.) The _Spiritual_. God is a Spirit; man has a spirit; both, _Now_;
both, _Here_; and shall they never meet? shall they remain without
exchange of looks? shall nothing break the seal of eternal silence? is
there really love between them, and thought, and purpose, and yet all
recognition dumb? Why tell us of God's Omniscience, if it only sleeps
around us like dead space, or at most lies watching, like a sentinel
of the universe, not free to stir? Who could ever pray to this
motionless Immensity? who weep his griefs to rest on a Pity so secret
and reserved? Surely if He is a Living Mind, he not merely remains
over from a Divine Past to appear again in a Divine Future, but moves
through the immediate hours, and awakens a thousand sanctities to-day.
Urged by such questionings as these, men of meditative piety have
thirsted for conscious communion with the All-holy;--communion _both
ways_: appeal and response; a crossing line of light from eye to eye;
a quiet walk with God, where all the dust of life turns, at his
approach, into the green meadow, and its flat pools into the gliding
waters. They have retired _within_ to meet him; have believed that all
is not ours that it is ours to feel; that there is Grace of his
mingling with the inner fibres of our nature, and flinging in, across
the constant warp of our personality, flying tints of deeper beauty,
and hints of a pattern more divine. And all have agreed, that, in
order to reach this Holy Spirit, and through its vivifying touch be
born again, the one thing needful is a stripping off of self, an
abandonment of personal desire and will, a return to simplicity, and a
docile listening to the whispers spontaneous from God. They find all
sin to be a rising up of self; all return to holiness and peace a
sinking down from self, a free surrender of the soul,--that asks
nothing, possesses nothing, that relaxes every rigid strain, and is
pliant to go whither the highest Will may lead. Nature, of her own
foolishness, ever goes astray in her quest of divine things; wandering
away in flights of laboring Reason to find her God; panting with
over-plied resolve to do her work; scheming rules, and artifices, and
bonds of union for forming her individuals into a Church. Reverse all
this, and fall back on the centre of the Spirit, instead of pressing
out in all radii of your own. Let Intellect droop her ambitious wing,
and come home; there, in the inmost room of conscience, God seeks you
all the while. Lash your wearied strength no more; sit low and weak
upon the ground, with loving readiness hitherward or thitherward, and
you shall be taken through your work with a sevenfold strength that
has no effort in it. Leave yourself awhile in utter solitude, shut out
all thoughts of other men, yield up whatever intervenes, though it be
the thinnest film, between your soul and God; and in this absolute
loneliness, the germ of a holy society will of itself appear, a temper
of sympathy and mercy, trustful and gentle, suffuses itself through
the whole mind: though you have seen no one, you have met all; and are
girt for any errand of service that love may find. So then, if there
were twenty or a thousand in this case, their wills would flow
together of their own accord, and find themselves in brotherhood
without a plan at all.

So speaks this doctrine of the Spirit. It matters not now under which of
its many theologic forms we conceive it; simplest perhaps, that the
Indwelling God, who in Christ was the Word, is in us the Comforter. But
surely, this also is not altogether a false Gospel. It rescues the
conception of direct communion between the human spirit and the
Divine,--a conception essential to the Christian life,--which an Ethical
Gospel does not adequately secure: for communion must be between like
and like, while obedience may be from slave to lord, nay, in some sense,
from machine to maker. Nor is it a slight thing to take the scales from
our eyes that hide from us the sanctities of our _immediate_ life; to
abolish the postponement of eternity; and, wayfarers as we are, make us
feel, as we rise from our stony pillow and pass on, that here is the
abode of God, and here does the angel-ladder touch the ground! Yet this
too is not the _whole_ Gospel. It absorbs too much in God. It scarcely
saves human personality and responsibility. It does no justice to
nature, which it regards as the negative of God. It melts away Law in
Love, and hides the rocky structure of this moral world in a sunny haze
that confuses earth and air.

What, then, shall we say of these three types of Christian faith? Do
you doubt their reality? It is demonstrated within the century which
we close this day. For while our forefathers were dedicating this
house of prayer to the first, the Gospel of Christian Duty, Wesley
had already become the prophet of the last,--the new birth of the
Spirit; and erelong Evangelicism started up, and proclaimed the
second,--the Salvation by Faith. Do you doubt their durability and
permanence? It is proved by eighteen centuries' experience, for the
New Testament is not older. _There_, within the group of sacred books
themselves, do they all lie; the Jewish Gospels represent the first;
the Gentile Apostle's letters, the second; the writings of the beloved
disciple, the third. Matthew, as every reader must remark, is for the
Law; Paul, for Faith; and John, for the Spirit. And, in every age, the
great mass of Christian tendencies break themselves into these three
forms:--Ebionite, Pauline, and contemplative Gnostic; Pelagian,
Augustinian, and Mystic; Jesuit, Jansenist, and Quietist; Arminian,
Lutheran, and Quaker; all proclaim the perseverance of the same
essential types, wherever the spirit of Christ alights upon the
various heart of man.

Is Christ then divided? Is he not equal to the _whole_ of our
humanity? Rather let us say, that we are small and weak for the
measure of his heavenly wisdom. Doubtless, if we take what we can
hold, and put it to faithful application, we have grace enough for
every personal exigency. But there is, surely, an evil inseparable
from all _partial_ developments of religion, which only satisfy the
immediate cravings of the mind, and leave parts of our nature--asleep
perhaps at the moment--liable to wake and thirst again. Such _separate
growths_ run out their resources and exhaust themselves in a few
generations. At first, they answer to some felt want; they collect a
congenial multitude, and open to them a spiritual refuge that ends
their wanderings. But the sentiment, once brought into a contented
state, ceases to be importunate and prominent; and by its abatement
gives opportunity for other feelings to vindicate their existence.
When the wound is bound up and has lost its smart, the natural hunger
begins to tell. The children grow up other than the fathers, perhaps
quite as limited, only in different ways,--with affections pressing
into just the vacant places of an earlier age. Meanwhile, the
imperfection of the original basis has provoked reactions equally of
narrow scope,--equally incapable of permanently filling the capacities
of the Christian mind. Hence the danger, if the separate veins of
thought be still worked on as they thin away, that the sects should
degenerate into poor theological egotisms, and wear themselves
insensibly out. It cannot be denied that all the three religious
movements of the last century--represented by Taylor, by Wesley, by
Cowper--exhibit the symptoms of spent strength, and are little likely
to play again the part they have played before.

Yet every one of their Gospels is _true at heart_; and the tree that
holds that pith is a tree of life, which the Eternal husbandman hath
planted; and if he prune it, it is only that it may bear more fruit.
The weakness of these faiths is in their isolation; and if their sap
could but mingle, if no element were lost which they can draw from the
root of the vine, a young frondescent life would show itself again.
Those who think that the future can only repeat the past, will deem
this impossible; though least of all should it appear so to _us_ who
profess ourselves "_Christians and only Christians_," pledged to
nothing but to lie open to all God's truth. For myself I indulge a
joyful hope that the next century of Christendom will be nobler than
the last; that the great Faiths which have struggled separately into
the light of the one, will flow together on the broader and less
broken surface of the other. If, however, this is to be, it will arise
from no mere _intellectual_ scrutiny, whose function will ever be to
_distinguish_, and not to _unite_, and, in proportion as it dominates
alone, to trace ever-new lines of critical divergency. When the
problem of Christendom is, to deliver the individual mind from the
operation of an overwhelming social power, then it is seasonable to
insist on the principle of free inquiry; because then you have a dead
mass to disintegrate, ere any young and living force can urge its way.
But when you have won this victory, and when individualism ceases to
be devout and tends to party self-will, the hour comes to proclaim
the converse lesson, and break up the vain reliance on mere liberty
of thought. Depend upon it, Unity lies in profounder strata of our
nature than any tillage of the mere intellect can reach. Sink deeply
into the inmost life of _any_ Christian faith, and you will touch the
ground of _all_. Did we do nothing with our religion except live by
it; did we forget the presence of doubt and contradiction; did it
cease to be a creed about God and become simply an existence in God;
did we exchange self-assertion before men for self-surrender to
him;--we should find ourselves side by side with unexpected friends,
should be astonished at our petulant divisions, and replace the poor
charity of mutual forbearance by the free consciousness of inward
sympathy. For _us_ especially, who feel the temptations of an
exceptional position, is it the prime duty to live and move and have
our being in the divine sanctities that hold us, in that which we have
_not_ been obliged to throw away; else might our Gospel be no
fruit-bearing branch, drinking from the root of the vine, but a dead
residuum, withered and hopeless. Remember that, if Sin be not
_original_, all the more must it be _actual_, and the deeper should
its shadow lie upon the Conscience, and touch us with the mood of
faithfulness and prayer. If, in reconciling man with God, there is no
_vicarious_ sacrifice possible, so much the more remains over for
_self-sacrifice_, as the only path of communion and peace. If you will
have it that Christ is only _human_, so much the more Divine is your
humanity to be; you cannot assume _that_ as the type of your nature,
without at least owning that its essence lies, and its glory is found,
not in the natural man, but in the spiritual man; and by this very
confession, you renounce the low aims of the worldly mind, and take on
yourself the vows of the saintly. Let believers only be true to the
grace they have, and more will be given; and enter where they may the
many-gated sanctuary of the Christian life, they will tend ever
inwards to the same centre, and meet at last in the holiest of all.
Keeping a reverent eye fixed on the person and spirit of Christ, they
cannot but find their partial apprehensions corrected and enlarged;
for his divine image is complete in its revelation, and rebukes every
narrower Gospel. Moral perfectness, divine communion, free
self-sacrifice,--all blend in him,--indistinguishable elements of one
expression. In that august and holy presence, our divisions sink
abashed, and hear, as of old, the word of recall, "Ye know not what
spirit ye are of." Or if, through our infirmities, that gracious form,
appearing in the midst as we discourse among ourselves and are
perplexed and sad, do not suffice to open our eyes and make us less
slow of heart to one another and to him, at least in that higher
world, whither our forerunners are gone, his living look will perfect
the communion of saints. There at length the guests of his bounty will
find that, though at separate tables, they have all been fed by the
same bread of life, and touched their lips with the same wine of
remembrance: there, the voices of the wise, often discordant here,--of
Taylor and Wesley, of Enfield and Cowper, of Heber and Channing,--will
blend in harmony;--and the notes of the last age will not be the least
in that mighty chorus which crowds the steps of eighteen centuries,
and, converging to their immortal Head, sings the solemn strain,
"Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true
are all thy ways, thou King of Saints!"


    _The Life and Epistles of St. Paul._ By the Rev. W. J. CONYBEARE,
    M.A., late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge; and the Rev. J.
    S. HOWSON, M.A., Principal of the Collegiate Institution,
    Liverpool. 2 vols. 4to. Longmans. 1852.

    _The Epistles of St. Paul to the Corinthians: with Critical Notes
    and Dissertations._ By ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, M.A., Canon of
    Canterbury, late Fellow and Tutor of University College, Oxford,
    &c. 2 vols. 8vo. Murray. 1855.

    _The Epistles of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, Galatians, Romans:
    with Critical Notes and Dissertations._ By BENJAMIN JOWETT, M.A.,
    Fellow and Tutor of Balliol College, Oxford. 2 vols. 8vo. Murray.

These treatises, bearing on their title-pages the names of our two
ecclesiastical Universities, give happy signs of a new era in English
theology. They show how effectually we have escaped from the morbid
religious phenomena represented by Simeon at Cambridge, and the
counter-irritants applied by John Henry Newman at Oxford; and come as
the returning breath of nature to those who have witnessed the fevers
of "Evangelical" conversion or the consumptive asceticism of
"Anglican" piety. On looking back, from the position now attained, it
seems wonderful that we could ever, with St. Paul's writings in our
hands, have been betrayed into either of these opposite extravagances:
for anything more absolutely foreign to his breadth and universality
than the Genevan dogma, or more at variance with his free spirituality
than the sacramental system, it is impossible to conceive. But it is
the peculiar fate of sacred writings, that the last thing elicited
from them is their own real meaning. The very greatness of their
authority puts the reader's faculties into a false attitude; creates
an eagerness,--an inflexible intensity,--that defeats its own end;
and, in particular, gives undue ascendency to the uppermost want and
feeling that may be craving satisfaction. Hence the tendency of
Scriptural interpretation to proceed by action and reaction; an easy
ethical Arminianism being succeeded by a severe Calvinism, and the
reliance on individual grace giving way before the advance of
sacerdotal and Church ideas. When the opposite errors have spent
themselves, the requisite repose of mind will be recovered for reading
just the thought that lies upon the page: here and there an eye will
be found, neither strained with pre-occupying visions, not scared by
sceptic shadows, but clear for the apprehension of reality, as God has
shaped it for our perception. At length we have reached this crisis of
promise; and critics are found who, instead of interrogating St. Paul
on all sorts of modern questions, listen to him on his own; and draw
from him, not a fancied verdict on the sixteenth century, but a
faithful picture of the first.

And for this historical purpose, the writings of the great Gentile
Apostle are of paramount value, and justly occupy the inquirer's first
researches. The most considerable of them are of unimpeachable
authenticity. They are the very earliest Christian writings we
possess. They are the productions of a man more clearly known to us
than any of the first missionaries of the Gospel. They are _letters_:
abounding in disclosures of personal feelings, of biographical
incident, of changing moods of thought, of outward and inward
conflict. They are addressed to young communities, scattered over a
vast area, and composed of differing elements; and exhibit the whole
fermentation of their new life, the scruples, the heart-burnings, the
noble inspirations, the grievous factions, of the Apostolic age. The
Gospels and the Book of Acts _treat_ no doubt of a prior period, but
_proceed_ from a posterior, of whose state of mind, whose
retrospective theories concerning the ministry of Christ, it is of
primary importance to the criticism of the Evangelists that we should
be informed; and on these points the Pauline Epistles are the
indispensable groundwork of all our knowledge or conjecture. In them
we catch the Christian doctrine and tradition at an earlier stage than
any other canonical book represents throughout. Although the
narratives of the New Testament doubtless abound in material drawn
faithfully from a more primitive time, they are certainly not free
from the touch and tincture of the post-Pauline age. How powerful an
instrument the Apostle's letters may become for either confirming or
checking the historical records, may be readily conceived by every
reader of Paley's "Horæ Paulinæ." In fine, if it be a just principle,
in historical criticism, to proceed from the more known to the less
known,--to begin from a date that yields contemporary documents, and
work thence into the subjacent and superjacent strata of events,--the
elucidation of Christian antiquity must take its commencement from the
Epistles of St. Paul.

Except in its general similarity of subject, the first of the three
works mentioned at the head of this article admits of no comparison
with the other two. It is rather an illustrated guide-book to the
Apostle's world of place and time, than a personal introduction to
himself. The authors are highly accomplished and scholarly men, and
could not fail, in dealing with an historical theme, to bring together
and group with conscientious skill a vast store of archæological and
topographical detail; to weigh chronological difficulties with patient
care; to translate with philological precision, and due aim at
accuracy of text. They have accordingly produced a truly interesting
and instructive book: _so_ instructive, indeed, that by far the
greater part of its information would, probably, have been quite new
to St. Paul himself. His life seems to us to be injudiciously overlaid
with what is wholly foreign to it, and for the sake of picturesque
effect to be set upon a stage quite invisible to him. He was not
"Principal of a Collegiate Institution," accustomed to examine boys in
Attic or Latian geography; was not familiar with Thucydides or Grote;
was indifferent to the Amphictyonic Council; and, in the vicinity of
Salamis and Marathon, probably read the past no more than a Brahmin
would in travelling over Edgehill or Marston Moor. The world of each
man must be measured from his own spiritual centre, and will take in
much less in one direction, much more in another, than is spread
beneath his eye. He cannot be reached by geographical approaches. You
may determine the elements of his orbit, and yet miss him after all.
It is an illusory process to paint the ancient world as it would look
to an Hellenic gentleman then, or a university scholar now; and then
think how St. Paul would feel in passing through it to convert it. The
indirect influence of this kind of conception seems to us apparent
both in Mr. Conybeare's translation and Mr. Howson's narrative and
descriptions. The outward scene and conditions of the Apostle's career
are elaborately displayed; but more with the modern academic than with
the old Hebrew tone of coloring; and the English version, scrupulous
and delicate as it is, has, to our taste, a general flavor quite
different from the original Greek. Unconsciously entangled in the
classifications and symbols of the Protestant theology, the authors
are detained outside the real genius and feeling of the Apostle.

Of a far higher order are the other two works,--produced, we infer
from their numerous correspondences of both form and substance, not
without concert between the authors. Indeed, the same explanation of
the merits of Lachmann's text (printed without translation by Mr.
Stanley, and with the adapted authorized version by Mr. Jowett) is
made to serve for both. So clearly and compendiously is this
explanation drawn, that, in the next edition of Lachmann, Mr. Jowett's
introduction might usefully be annexed to the great critic's rather
tangled and awkward preface. Of the superior fidelity of this
recension, we think no habitual reader of the Greek Scriptures can
reasonably doubt; and the recognition of its authority fulfils a prior
condition of all scientific theology. The text being chosen on grounds
purely critical, the notes are written in a spirit purely exegetical;
they aim, simply and with rare self-abnegation, to bring out, by every
happy change of light and turn of reflective sympathy, the great
Apostle's real thought and feeling. How very far this faithful
historic purpose in itself raises the interpreter above the crowd of
erudite and commenting divines, can scarcely be understood till it has
formed a new generation, and fixed itself as a distinct intellectual
type. It is not, however, an affair of mere will and disposition; but,
like most of the higher exercises of veracity, comes into operation
only as the last result of mental tact and affluence. With the most
honest intentions towards St. Paul, a critic without psychological
insight and dialectic pliancy, without power of melting down his
modern abstractions and redistributing them in the moulds of the old
realistic thought,--a critic without entrance into the passionate
depths of human nature,--a critic pre-occupied by Catholic or
Protestant assumptions, and untrained to imagine the questions and
interests of the first age,--_cannot_ surrender himself to the natural
impression of the Apostle's language. The disciple and the master are,
in such case, at cross-purposes with one another; the questions put
are not the questions answered; the interlocutors do not really meet,
but wind in a maze about each other's _loci_, not to end till the
unconscious interpreter has set his fantasies within the shadow of
inspiration. No such blind chase is possible to our authors. They have
achieved the conditions of fidelity; and bring to a task, in which the
truthful and sagacious spirit of Locke had already fixed the standard
high, the ampler resources of modern learning, and more practised
habit of historic combination. In the distribution of their work, the
difference of natural genius between the two authors has perhaps been
consulted, and is, at all events, distinctly expressed. Mr. Stanley's
aptitude for reproducing the image of the past, his apprehensive
sympathy with the concrete and individual elements of the world, fitly
engage themselves with the composite forms of Corinthian society, and
the most personal, various, and objective of the Apostle's letters.
For the more speculative Epistles to the Galatians and the Romans,
there was need of Mr. Jowett's philosophical depth and subtilty. The
strictness with which he restrains these seductive gifts to the proper
business of the interpreter, is not less admirable than their
occasional happy application. Instead of being employed to force upon
the Apostle a logical precision foreign to his habit, they are chiefly
engaged in detecting and wiping out false niceties of distinction
drawn by later theology, and throwing back each doctrinal statement
into its original degree of indeterminateness. It is not in the
notes,--which are wholly occupied in recovering St. Paul's own
thought,--but in the interposed disquisitions, which avowedly deal
with the theology of to-day, that a certain breadth and balance of
statement, and delicate ease in manœuvring the forms and antitheses
of abstract thought, and fine appreciation of human experience, make
us feel the double presence of metaphysical power and historical tact.
The author, accordingly, appears to us, not only to have seized the
great Apostle's attitude of mind more happily than any preceding
English critic, but also to have separated the essence from the
accidents of the Pauline Christianity, and disengaged its divine
elements for transfusion into the organism of our immediate life. Mr.
Stanley appears to have more difficulty in unreservedly adhering to
the purely historical view, and clerically flutters, without clear
occasion, on the outskirts of "edification";--the critic in his notes,
the preacher in his paraphrase; conceding in act more readily than in
name, and apologizing for finding human ingredients in the Apostles
and their doctrines, as if it were he, and not _God_, that would have
them there. This tendency to blur the lines which he himself draws
between the temporary and the permanent in the Scriptures with which
he deals, is the only fault we can find with Mr. Stanley; whose
associate, clinging less to the past, in effect preserves more for the
present. To learn the external scene of the Apostle's career, we would
refer our readers to Messrs. Conybeare and Howson; to appreciate his
moral surroundings, and the problems it presented, especially on the
ethnic side, they may take Mr. Stanley as their guide; but for insight
into the Apostle himself, and outlook on the world as it seemed to
him, they must resort to Mr. Jowett.

The Pauline Epistles are interesting, apart from all assumption of
inspired authority, because the elements are seen fermenting there of
the greatest known revolution both in the history of the world and in
the spiritual consciousness of individual man. Judaism was the narrowest
(that is, the most _special_) of religions; Christianity, the most human
and comprehensive. Within a few years, the latter was evolved out of the
former; taking all its intensity and durability, without resort to any
of its limitations. This marvellous expansion of the national into the
universal was not achieved without a process and a conflict. Divine
though the work was, it had to be wrought upon men, and through men,
whose character, interests, convictions, habits, and institutions
furnished the data conditioning the problem, and whose remodelled
affections and will supplied the instruments for its solution. The laws
of human nature, therefore, and the action of human events, necessarily
enter into the study of this great revolution; and it cannot be detained
out of the hands of the historian by any exclusive rights of the divine.
When we endeavor to trace the successive steps of faith from Mount Zion
to the Vatican, many parts of the progress appear to have left but
scanty vestige. We know the beginning, in the doctrine of the Hebrew
Messiah; we know the end, in the recognition of a Saviour of the world.
We know the intermediate fact,--that Judaism did not surrender its own
without a struggle, or readily give away the keys of its enclosure just
when it was passing from a prison of affliction into a palace of "the
kingdom." But within this general fact lies a world of mysterious
detail,--nay, almost the whole life of the early Church. Who began the
open breach between Messiah and the Law? how, and to what extent, did
the parties divide? what was their relative magnitude at different times
and in different places? and by what process was the difference
terminated, and the two extremes--Marcion on the one hand and the
Ebionites on the other--removed outside as heretics? The Christianity of
the third century is so little like the doctrine of Matthew's Gospel as
to perplex our sense of identity. No one can bring the two into direct
comparison, without feeling how much must have happened to shape the
earlier into the form of the later. Could we trace the flow and estimate
the sources of this change, the most wonderful of the world's
experiences would be resolved. The continuity, however, of visible
causation is often broken; there are everywhere many missing links in
the chain, and a chasm extending through a large part of the second
century. But a generation earlier we meet with materials of the richest
value in the Epistles of St. Paul; and by their aid the general
direction may be found by which thought and events must have advanced.
Otherwise, the change would seem as violent and inconceivable as a
convulsion that should mingle the Jordan and the Tiber.

No doubt, the germ of the Gospel's universality is to be found in the
personal characteristics of its Author,--in the whole spirit of his
life, and the direct tendency of his teachings. He who found in the
love of God and love of man the very springs of eternal life; who
measured good and evil, not by the act, but by the affection whence
they come; who placed his ideal for man in likeness to the perfection
of God,--had already proclaimed a religion transcending all local
limits. Nay, if he opposed the "true worship" to the services at
Gerizim and Jerusalem, and could wish the Temple away, that obstructed
his direct dealing with the human soul and suppressed the inner shrine
"not made with hands," he must even have placed himself in an attitude
of open alienation towards the ritual of his people. At the same time,
his words seem to have left not unfrequently an opposite impression.
He comes, "not to destroy the Law and the prophets, but to fulfil"
them; "not a jot or a tittle is to fail." His most spiritual truths
and sentiments, instead of being announced as novelties grounding
themselves on his personal authority, are drawn out of the old Hebrew
Scriptures; and even the life beyond death he finds lurking in
patriarchal idioms and phrases heard at the burning bush. His
intensest polemic against the sacerdotal party goes on within the
limits of the system which they represent and yet corrupt; and his
bitterest reproach against them is that there is no reverence for it
in their hearts, since they hugely violate and trivially obey it. Far
from ever launching out against law _as_ law, or setting up faith as a
rival principle excluding it, he extends _precept_ to the last heights
of religion, _enjoins_ the divinest affections, as if _there also_
obedience was possible, and duty and volition had their place. It was
not in a nature holy and harmonious as his,--type of heavenly peace
rather than of earthly conflict,--that the schism would be exhibited
between Will and Love; where both are at their height, there is no
rent between them. Nor was there need, in that meek, reverential soul,
to break with the past, in order to find a sanctity for the present,
and leave an inspiration for the future. Some things, once given for
the hardness of men's hearts, might be dropped, and fall behind; but
God had ever lived, and left the trace of his perfectness upon the
elder times as on the newest manifestations of the hour. There was
enough in the Law, if only its fruitful seeds were warmed into life,
to furnish forth the Gospel. And so Christ presents himself as the
disciple of Moses, and in the Sermon on the Mount does but open out
the tables of Sinai. It was not, therefore, without honest ground that
his immediate disciples could defend him from the charge of being
unfaithful to the religion of his native land. And yet the instinct of
the priests and rabbis told them truly that he and they could not
co-exist, that his doctrine reduced their work to naught, and that,
whencesoever he might draw it, there was no doubt whither he must
carry it. The "witnesses" were not altogether "false" which they
brought to show his inner hostility to the altar ceremonial; and
perhaps his enemies, with apprehension sharpened by fear, more
correctly interpreted his tendency in this direction than his
followers, entangled in the cloud of a Judaic love. It was quite
natural that the real antithesis between the Law and the Gospel should
thus be first felt by his antagonists, whilst as yet it slept
undeveloped in the minds of his followers and in the habitual
expression of his own thought; and that its earliest proclamation
should be _their_ act, _their_ defiance, the cross on Calvary!

This terrible challenge, fiercely protesting that the Law would hold
no parley with the Gospel, the Apostles, however, refused to accept.
They still denied their Lord's apostasy or their own; they had always
been, and with his encouragement, the best of Jews: nor did they
contemplate, so far, any change. The crucifixion was a Jewish mistake,
meant for the nation's enemy, but alighting on its representative; a
mistake, however, which God had counteracted by a glorious rescue, in
the resurrection of the crucified. The mischief being thus undone, the
day of Hebrew opportunity was resumed; the ministry of Jesus was not
closed; he yet lived and preached to them as before;--no longer,
indeed, in person till their better mind should re-assert itself, but
by "faithful witnesses";--no longer too in tentative disguise, but now
identified as Messiah by his exaltation above this world. Whatever
conflicts of mind the disciples suffered in the mysterious period
following the crucifixion, the operation of the resurrection and the
Spirit was at first simply to reinstate them in their prior
faith,--that the kingdom would soon be restored to Israel, and be
brought in by no other than their Master, already waiting for the
crisis in a higher world till God's hour should come. There is no
evidence to show that, on the transference of their Lord's life from
earth to heaven, they were carried into any greater comprehensiveness
or spirituality of faith: their convictions were more intense, but
held on in the same direction, being all included in one great
theme,--the speedy coming of Messiah's kingdom and the end of the
world. Nay, of so little consequence, in comparison with this
_general_ picture of expectation, was even the appearance in it of the
person of Jesus as its central figure, that Apollos, more than twenty
years afterwards, was making and baptizing converts, without having
ever heard of any later prophet than John the Baptist; and these
people are already recognized as "disciples," and then informed, as
needful complement to their faith, that, besides the crisis being
near, the person is appointed.[58] Here had evidently been, for some
quarter of a century, two independent streams of Messianic faith, one
from a rather earlier source than the other, but pursuing their own
separate way, till thus partially confluent at Ephesus. And what is
the relation between them? One of them baptizes into an impersonal and
anonymous hope, the other into the same hope with the name attached.
And when these two states of mind are set side by side, they are
regarded as the same in their essence, and differing only in
completeness. Nor is there anything in their mutual feeling to hinder
their instant coalescence. This fact defines in the clearest way the
position of the early Church; the ordinary Jew believed that Messiah
would _some time_ come, and bring in "the last days"; Apollos, that he
would come _erelong_; the Christians, that already _the person_ was
indicated, and would prove to be Jesus of Nazareth. All three
co-existed within the Hebrew pale, and the two last fall under the
common category of "disciples."

It was impossible, however, that the contemplation of a Messiah risen
and reserved in heaven should affect all the believers in a precisely
similar manner. His personal attendants it would take up just where
the crucifixion had let them down; would give new force to their
previous impressions, new sacredness to their recollections, new
significance to his words and example, new reluctance to venture where
he had not led. The whole effect would be conservative, and tend to
fix them, with an inspired rigor, within the limits of the Master's
lot and life. Quite otherwise was it with the new disciples, who had
no such restraining memories of the human Teacher. _They_ began with
Christ above, and were tied down by no concrete biographical images,
no scruples of tender retrospect. They were free to ask themselves,
"What meant this surprising way of revealing Messiah 'in heavenly
places,' and letting his disguise first fall off in his escape from
local relations? The scene from which he looked down,--was it the mere
upper chamber of Judæa, or did it overarch the human world? Who could
claim him, now that he was there? Was it for him to examine pedigrees
to test 'the children of the kingdom'; or would he, as Son of David,
even come emblazoned with his own?" The mere conception of an ascended
and immortal being, assessor to the Lord of _all_, seemed to dwarf and
shame all provincial restrictions, and sanction the distaste for
binding forms and ceremonial exclusiveness. The withdrawal of Christ
to a holier sphere accorded well with all that was most spiritual in
his teachings and in himself; and could not fail to reflect a strong
light back on this aspect of his life, and give a more significant
emphasis to the tradition of his deepest words. In the mind of many a
disciple this tendency would be favored by a weariness towards the
outer worship of the temple, and a secret aspiration after purer and
more intimate communion with God. Especially was the _foreign_ Jew
obliged to confess such a feeling to himself. The very speaking of
Greek spoiled him for thinking as a Hebrew; for language is the
channel of the soul, and according as the organism is open, the sap
will flow. Accustomed to the simple piety of the Proseucha, where God
was sought without priest or sacrifice, and adequately found in
poetry, and prophecy, and prayer, the Hellenist acquired a tone of
sentiment on which the material pomps and puerilities of Mount Moriah
painfully jarred. Nor could he enclose himself contentedly, like the
Palestine Jew, within the sacred boundary that admitted the most
worthless son of Abraham, and shut the noblest Gentile out. Living in
heathen cities, dealing with heathen men, touched at times with the
sorrow or the goodness of heathen neighbors, his moral feeling fell
into contradiction with his inherited exclusiveness, and inwardly
demanded some other providential classification of mankind.
Accordingly, it was the Hellenist Stephen who first saw, in the
heavenly Christ, a principle of universal religion and a proclamation
of spiritual worship. When accused of defaming Moses and the Law and
the holy place, and setting up Jesus to supersede them, he boldly
reflects on the stone Temple, rooted to one spot, as at variance with
His nature who said, "Heaven is my throne, and earth my footstool,"
and points to the earlier tabernacle, movable from place to place,
following the steps of wandering humanity, as truer emblem of a faith
that takes every winding of history, and a God who goes where we go,
and stays where we stay.[59] This noble doctrine doubtless expressed a
feeling common among the foreign Jews of liberal culture and fervid
piety; and when consecrated by Stephen's martyrdom, it would assume a
distinctness unknown before, and become the admitted type of belief
among the Christian Hellenists. That it was confined to them is
evident from the partial effect of the persecution in which Stephen
fell. _His_ friends,--perhaps we may say his _party_,--hunted from
house to house, fled from Jerusalem; but the Jewish Apostles remained
where they were,[60] apparently unmenaced and undisturbed. The
hostility of the city drew therefore a distinction between such Hebrew
Christians as the twelve, and the freer "Grecians" who proclaimed a
Spirit above the Temple and the Law. The former, constituting an inner
sect of Judaism, might hold their ground unmolested; the latter were
treated as apostates, and "scattered abroad." The essential, but
hitherto dormant, antithesis between the Gospel and the Law, had thus
burst into expression, and embodied itself in two sections of the
Church that grew ever more distinct; the Hebrew party concentrated in
Jerusalem, and remaining intensely national; the Hellenistic,
spreading itself on the outskirts of Palestine, and erelong fixing its
head-quarters at Antioch. Within this freer circle, first as
persecutor, soon as disciple, appears Saul of Tarsus. So congenial are
its tendencies and aspirations with his nature and his antecedent
position, that his hostile attitude towards it might well strike him,
on looking back, as a monstrous self-contradiction. A foreigner to
Palestine, a "citizen of no mean city," familiar with a trade that
bought from the shepherds of Mount Taurus, and sold to the Greek
skippers of the Levant, he knew the human side of the Gentile world
too well to rest in a narrow Judaism. We cannot imagine his fervid,
free-moving mind, content to live within the enclosure of Rabbinical
niceties, or able to find, in the materialism of the Temple rites, his
ideal of true worship. With sympathies essentially cosmopolitan, he
could scarcely fail to be disappointed, not to say repelled, by
Jerusalem,--so different from the dream of his young romance. Some
higher, fresher communion between earth and heaven, some wider
monarchy for God than over a mere clan, would be to him natural
objects of aspiration. Hence his first persecuting attitude towards
the Christian Hellenists was permanently untenable; and as he went
amongst them, words were sure to fall upon his ear, and holy looks to
meet his eye, that would smite him with a kindred affection. Whether
the death of Stephen left on his mind images which he could not
banish, and commenced a reaction which no plunge into fresh violences
could arrest, it is vain to conjecture. That it should be so, would be
only human; for in the life of passion, triumph and humiliation are
near neighbors, and often the last note in the song of exultation dies
down into the plaint of compunction. Certain it is, that shortly
afterwards it "pleased God to reveal his Son in him"; that, with the
suddenness characteristic of impassioned natures, he came to himself,
and found his proper work, "to which he had been set apart from his
mother's womb"; and that his new convictions were of the very same
type and tendency with Stephen's, and strongly discriminated from the
Messianic doctrine of the twelve at Jerusalem. The incipient breach
between Law and Gospel, latent in the Master, denied by the twelve,
bursting forth among the Hellenists, finally realized and defined
itself in Paul; whose intense impulses were too great for the custody
of his will; whose soul had wings to fly, but not feet to plod; who
felt himself the theatre of living powers not his own, and could find
no peace till, by communion with the heavenly Son of God, he
discovered a providential love universal as human life, and a way of
reconciliation quick and open as human trust and reverence. It is
easier to speak of the effects than of the nature of his conversion.
His writings exhibit its results, but only vaguely allude to its
occurrence, and never in terms at all resembling the recitals in the
Book of Acts, or abating their discrepancies. Of these narratives
(Acts ix. 1-9, xxii. 6-12, xxvi. 12-18) Mr. Jowett remarks, "There is
no use in attempting any forced reconcilement." (I. 229.) On the one
hand, "There is no fact in history more certain or undisputed than
that, in some way or other, by an inward vision or revelation of the
Lord, or by an outward miraculous appearance as he was going to
Damascus, the Apostle was suddenly converted from being a persecutor
to become a preacher of the Gospel." (I. 227.) On the other, "If we
submit the narrat