ページの画像
PDF
ePub

natural world is the region of effects, and the spiritual world is the region of causes, and God is the end who through the cause is in effect, extraordinary as well as ordinary operations of His power may be exhibited in nature. The extraordinary operations, though they seem to transcend the powers of nature, are not in opposition to its laws, and require not their suspension. The laws of nature are but the order of the Divine operation in nature. What is called energy in nature is but a transformation of the Divine energy, which can never be exhausted, and ever acting with equal force, can produce through secondary causes, ultimate effects that correspond to them. The order of the Divine operation is immutable, for it is not an arbitrary appointment, but is an activity of the Divine mind, which is unchangeable. Professor Tyndall, in confessing at Manchester his belief in a supreme power that conducts the operations of nature, hinted that the presence of such a power might account for the ascent of the sap in trees. Although it is not at present known by what law the sap ascends to the topmost boughs of our tallest trees, we have not the least doubt that it is the result of a law, as fixed as that by which a stone falls to the ground. When the law, if it be another law, is discovered, will it remove one of the evidences of the existence of God? The proximate cause of Jniracles is in the spiritual world. They are produced by powers, and through circumstances and conditions that in certain cases exist there. Hence it is that miracles of two opposite characters can be produced from that world—the heavenly and the diabolical, the good and the evil, the genuine and the spurious; as the miracles of Moses and of the magicians.

Genuine miracles have their cause in correspondences in the spiritual world, and spurious miracles have theirs in the abuse of correspondences there. This subject is however too large to be pursued here. We therefore pass on to another topic.

The third essay, “The relation of the Gospel to the moral faculty in man,” is the one in which we feel most interested. The author does justice, though not perhaps full justice, to the moral wisdom of the Lord's teaching and beauty of His life, and fairly clears them from the objections of the naturalist. But it is in vindicating the Gospel from the moral reproach which unbelievers have brought against its scheme of redemption, that the greatest value of his defence of its teaching consists. The vicarious sacrifice of Christ has been charged against the Gospel as opposed to reason and justice. The author does not attempt to vindicate the doctrine from these charges. He admits the justice of the charges against the doctrine, but he denies that the doctrine is taught in the Gospel. The author's remarks on this subject, though long to be given as an extract, are yet so much to the point that we venture to quote them :

“The act of Divine mercy is generally thought of as consisting of two parts, the pardon of sin upon the part of God as our sovereign, and an actual influence from Him upon our spirit to make a better. I do not

wish to challenge the truth of this kind of analyzing of God's dealings with us. The ideas may be the best which we can at present form, but I do hold that in both cases the views popular with many Christians present a difficulty. We will begin with the first. The act of pardon on the part of God is not thought of by Christians as a mere act of grace or mercy, but is believed to be founded upon an act of Christ on behalf of man, and mainly His death. I say mainly, because a very considerable school of divines hold, not only that the death of Christ procured for sinners forgiveness of their sins, but also that the active obedience of His life is in some way made over and attributed to them, and obtains for them the Divine favour in place of an actual righteousness of their own. Now, there seems to me to be something in certain popular views of this reconciling of sinners to God by Christ opposed to our natural moral convictions. The simple idea that Christ the God-man died on our behalf, or in a popular sense died even in the place of man, i.e. for others' sins, when without sin, is certainly taught in Scripture, and does not, I think, present any difficulty. That He should die as a martyr to His great cause, or give up His life in some way which was, upon principles unknown to us, connected with the forgiveness of our sins, is only a height of virtue, an act of self-sacrifice, every way worthy of Him and credible in Him.

And I must add that it has been an act fruitful of the best feelings amongst His followers. And, further, it seems

to me in keeping with God's system of government that in so great an act as the reconciliation of sinners to Himself, He should use some means or instrument as He does in all His acts, so far as we know. There is nothing in this inconsistent with His fatherly love, seeking the 'lost sheep.' I would wish it to be distinctly understood that it is not satisfaction,' i.e. Christ's sufferings being in some way the ground of our forgiveness, but ' penal satisfaction,' i.e. Christ's actually being punished in our place, to which I am about to raise an objection. Theories of the atonement, which are at least widely popular, go beyond the former. They explain the transaction upon principles which seem to me indefensible. I am aware that learned divines are cautious about such explanations. Archbishop Magee, for example, seems to allow that the atoning efficacy of Christ's death cannot be explained on the principles of natural reason. The explanation which I have in view, and of which I will presently speak, is often attributed to Anselm, and I must allow that this eminent prelate has set what seems to me an unwise example of speculation on this subject. Nevertheless, he has not given exactly the explanation to which I object. The notion which I oppose seems to be a transfer of punishment. So much sin calls for so much suffering ; Christ is said to bear the pain in the place of the sinner, and so the sinner is, under certain conditions, allowed to escape. This transfer of suffering, or substitution of another sufferer, seems to me at variance with reasonable views of punishment. If we take the political example, which makes punishment reformatory to the offender or deterrent to others, that principle which I for one believe that we must, in the present stage of civilization, think best to represent the mind of God, we see that an atonement, such as that here thought of, seems to make God indifferent whether He punishes the guilty or the innocent, so only some one is punished. That surely is not fitted to enforce obedience. Rather, it encourages hopes of escape. Nor yet, if there be any reformatory power in mere suffering upon the offender, could this have place here, for no pain is inflicted upon him. I may be told that there is a reformatory power in the manifestation of love, and I freely allow that there is, and I also believe that very many Christians have experienced that power from this very doctrine. But I do not see why there should not be this bettering influence in the simple statement that Christ died

The act of love, the sacrifice of self if you will, is surely the same, and deserves the same from us, with or without this theory of substitution. Nor yet, if we take another view of punishment, if we suppose Divine justice to proceed on the vindictive principle, the principle that requires so much pain for so much sin, are we helped to understand this theory of the atonement. surely it is of the essence of this requirement that what it exacts should be rendered by the offender. But, according to the theory before us, he suffers nothing. These objections to this view of the atonement seem to me fatal. But I may add that there is another, which is at least of weight. If Christ has suffered the punishment due for all the sins of all men, and this is the only form of the doctrine which has plausible grounds, why then are any men, whether penitent or impenitent, believing or unbelieving, to be punished ? To punish them would be to punish their sins twice over, once in Christ, the substitute, and again in them, the real offenders.

"I may be told that this doctrine is to be received simply as matter of revelation. Independently of miraculous attestation, the moral and spiritual depth and beauty of the New Testament bear witness to a deeper insight on the part of its writers into spiritual things than we can pretend to, and consequently such a doctrine as this may, upon principles which I have myself asserted, be accepted, in spite of a certain difficulty on moral grounds. The question here is the extent of that difficulty, and also of the Scripture evidence. "If this notion of atonement by equivalent suffering be clearly opposed to our moral sense, it ought, I hold, to be laid aside. But on this point I allow that different persons may judge differently. On the other hand, different opinions will be formed as to the fact of the Scripture evidence. know that texts may be quoted, which, taken literally and argued upon logically, seem to many a proof. But the like treatment of other parts of Scripture has landed men in many errors. Metaphors must not be taken too literally. Even such texts as, being made a curse for

for us.

For

us' (Gal. iii. 13), or being made to be sin for us’ (2 Cor. v. 21), or bearing on sins in his own body on the tree' (1 Peter ii. 24), do not after all sustain this doctrine of transfer of punishment, though they do imply a suffering upon our account. It is one thing to say that Christ suffered upon our behalf, another thing that He was punished in our place. The doctrine before us does in reality require that Christ should have suffered the very same amount of pain to which every sinner would have been subject but for His intervention, and this I hold certainly cannot be proved from Scripture. We know that in the early ages of the Church eminent Christian writers had a notion that the death of Christ was a sort of compensation to Satan. There really was something to suggest this idea in the Scripture metaphors from ransom and redemption. Should we, then, be very confident when we are building upon metaphors from sacrifice ?

But although I feel constrained to look upon this popular theory of the atonement as unsatisfactory, and although I have myself no other explanation to give of the efficacy of Christ's death in a transcendental scheme of the forgiveness of sins, still I do most fully recognize the beauty and the instructiveness of that death when looked at from a moral point of view. It is, as I have said already, an example of the highest virtue, self-sacrifice for the noblest ends, on the part of the God-man. Nothing could be fitted to bring home to the hearts of His followers a higher, a better, or a more touching lesson.”

The author's admission that he has nothing to offer in place of those views to which he objects, shows how much need there is for the teaching of the New Church on this all-important subject. The author, indeed, asks why it should not be enough for men to know, that Christ has died on their behalf? This is not enough to satisfy the mind. It wants a reason. This is supplied in the writings of the Lord's servant Emanuel Swedenborg. And the doctrine he gives as that of the New Jerusalem as a new dispensation of the Christian Church, is one of the grandest and most beautiful, because most suited to the nature of the case, that it is possible to conceive. It is a large subject, and cannot be fully stated here. But a general idea of it may be presented.

What was it that the human race required which Jesus Christ came to effect or to supply? Their sins had separated between them and their God. Jesus Christ came to remove their sins, to restore them again to righteousness, and so to re-unite them to God. How was this to be effected ? By the Lord taking upon Him man's nature, just as it then was, with all its hereditary imperfections, and by removing its evils and making it righteous, or rather righteousness, and so uniting it with God. This was the great work of atonement, or the reconciliation of man with God. But supposing the Lord effected this reconciliation in His own person, how does this effect the reconciliation of men with God? In this wise. The perfected humanity with which the Lord is now invested is the power by which the Lord perfects humanity in the persons of men. It is the doctrine of the New Church that the Lord glorified His humanity by the same process as that by which He regenerates man. The Lord's glorification was regeneration in a super-eminent degree. Regeneration was what men required. Regeneration was that which the Lord effected in Himself, that is, in His humanity ; and from the humanity, to which the Divinity gave, by glorification, all power in heaven and on earth, men can be regenerated; for the Lord's work in the flesh, by which He became the Saviour of men, is the origin and pattern of the work by which men are saved. The regeneration of man and the glorification of the Lord are too imperfectly understood, and therefore too little appreciated, for this view to find much approval or ready acceptance. But as far as these, and the connection between them, come to be seen in the light of truth, the Lord's incarnation will be recognized to have been perfectly adapted to the state and necessities of man, and to have been the manifestation of God in His perfect wisdom and unbounded benevolence.

CONSOLATION TO THE BEREAVED What have the ministers been talking (From the New Jerusalem Messenger).- about when they came here? Have Some friend has sent us a copy of The they been talking to you as though you Golden Rule, calling our attention to a were burying anybody; meaning, by lecture by the Rev. W. H. H. Murray, that burying a life, a spirit, an entity ? the editor of the paper, and formerly Have not they told you that, simply for minister of one of the most rigid ortho sanitary reasons, society has provided dox churches in Boston. The subject the custom of burying for this dust, of the lecturer is “How shall I console this flesh and blood, once vital, now in. a friend who is bereaved by the death animate as clay? Have they invited you of her daughter ?” After speaking of to remember that you did not go to any the beautiful relations of a mother to one's grave, but only to the grave where her children, and of “the gloomy in- lies, in the process of decay, a casket out fluence of the grave and the causes of of which the man, woman, or child has it,” he says we must give the bereaved been lifted by the hands of God? And the consolation of the Gospel. But do you go to the mounds there in your "What is the consolation of the Gos- cemeteries and stand over those dead pel ?” he asks, and his reply is, “The heaps of soil, as if there was anything only consolation there is in this Gospel but dead heaps of soil in them? Do touching death, is the sure fact that it you imagine that your husband, wife, brings out the truth that there is no is down there in that earth? Why, death, in the sense of ceasing to be. mother, have you dreamed that your There is an abundant consolation, little daughter was under the daisies mother. Your daughter dead? No. Your and roses that you planted ? Are you daughter buried ? No. Your daughter heathen, who do not know that life and somewhere lost? No. The Gospel immortality have been brought to light comes to you and says she never died.” -remember, to light, I say—in this Then he goes on to speak about "the Gospel ? Am I talking to heathen great misconception of death,” and uses women or Christian women ? Has it language which would be considered come to this, that I must have one of severe and wholly unjustifiable in us. my Christian women, who believes that He represents a mother as saying to him, Christ died and rose again, who believes Mr. Murray, do you mean to say i that in His likeness every man and have not buried my Mary?” and then woman does rise out of the grave, who comments upon the question after this believes that 'to die is gain,' must I fashion : “What an astounding ignor- be questioned among my own parishance that inquiry betrayed! Why, had ioners with such interrogations as that woman been a youth, and followed this : "Mr. Murray, do you mean to Socrates about the streets of Greece, she say I have not buried my Mary?'would have been wiser than that. Had It certainly is one of the most surshe sat in the school of Plato, he would prising phases of human life that there have taught her a sublimer faith than should be so little known and believed that.

Had she three thousand years about the future life by Christians. ago been a follower of Confucius, he Even Mr. Murray does not go a step would have lifted her soul to sublimer beyond the woman he seeks to comfort. altitudes than that. And yet this woman, He says nothing which implies that he after eighteen hundred years of preaching has any knowledge of the future life of the Gospel, that brought life and im- but the bare fact of its existence; and, mortality to light here in New England, probably, he would deny that it is a member of that great joyous Church possible for us to gain any knowledge of that teaches that Christ never died, for it while we live in this world. But the thirty years a member of that Church, naked fact that we doexist is not sufficient actually looks into my face and inquires : for hope and comfort to the bereaved.

Mr. Murray, do you mean to say that we want to know something of the naI have not buried my Mary?' What ture of that life ; where the spiritual kind of teaching have we had in our world is, in what form we dwell, what repulpits ? What kind of funeral services lations we sustain to others, and what have you been having in your houses, means are provided for the development friends, when your dear ones have died? of our intellects and affections. Nothing

[ocr errors]

less than such knowledge will comfort the the product of excitement; it does not bereaved, and that the general voice of come at the call of song or fervid appeal; Christians declares it is impossible to get. 'it does not come with observation. It The simple fact of an immortal existence is quiet, practical, and manifests itself is brought to light in the Gospel, but, more in deeds than professions. The as Christian teachers have expounded more such a religion revives the better it, life and immortality are not brought it will be for men. to light. That is the reason why so many who claim to be Christians still PROFESSOR TYNDALL AND SWEDENlook down into the grave for their de- BORG.— In The New Quarterly Magazine parted friends, and practically regard for April is an article by Mr. Robert the material body as the real man, and Buchanan on “Lucretius and Modern life in this world as the real life.

Materialism,” from which we cull the

following sentences as likely to interest REVIVALISM.—The New Jerusalem readers of the Intellectual Repository :Messenger of March 8th has the follow- “If a life germ can be developed out of ing paragraph on this subject :-“Even a crystal, why may not a spirit (using the secular papers are beginning to call that term for vant of a better) be dealoud for a revival of religion, and to see veloped out of the body? In another that nothing but religion

can save us as and clearer phraseology, made clear to a nation. They see, also, more clearly us by the teaching of a Seer whom Dr. than Christians themselves, that we Tyndall utterly misunderstands, may want a religion that will make good men not a spiritual body issue in the course and women in this life, as well as save of Evolution from a body corporeal ? them in the next. If there was as much and further, seeing that the process of said, and as much effort made, to bring evolution has been going on so long, heaven down to earth, and embody its may not such spiritual bodies exist, principles in the practical affairs of this although they are as unrecognized by us Îife, as there is to get men into heaven, as we are unrecognized by the silkworm it would be much better for humanity. in its cone? Professor Tyndall is very If Christians would direct their efforts to sarcastic on what he calls ‘psychic' conpurify human character in this life; to ditions, obviously connected with the make men and women honest, and kind, nervous system and the state of the and temperate, and pure, and intelligent health, on which is based the Vedic in spiritual knowledge, they would ac- doctrine of the absorption of the indicomplish a much greater good than they vidual into the universal soul. He cites are now effecting, and be much surer of Plotinus, Porphyry, Wordsworth, and saving souls.

The American Age well Emerson as being subject to such ecsays :

- The experience of a score of stasies ; and as if this confusion of types revivals has taught us valuable lessons. were not sufficient, he carelessly joins The temper of the public mind is scep- with the rest the name of Sweden borg. tical and practical ; or people look to Now, in Swedenborg, he might have results, and judge a movement by the found, up to a certain point, a most fruit it yields. It is not enough for powerful ally, as he would discover in a even Moody and Sankey to make con- perusal of the Mechanism of the Interverts. Brigham Young has made thou- course of the Soul and the Body;' where sands of them. It is the kind of converts the great thinker clearly shows that the that are made, the lives they lead, the soul is finite, that it is one of the body's temper they display, the acts they per natural parts, that its seat is in the brain, form, that will tell the story. If men and that it resides particularly in the are awakened to a merely selfish end, cortical substance of the cerebrum, and and live as meanly as before, the public partly also in the medulla, but is ubiwill take very little stock in the revival. quitous in all parts of the brain. Again, But if it awakens men to a new respon- we do not think that Swedenborg prosibility and more useful, righteous and longs his intellectual vision more unself-denying lives, it will spread like fire warrantably than Dr. Tyndall, when he in the prairie grass.' We doubt the con- affirms, in his “Economy of the Animal clusion about its spreading so rapidly. Kingdom,' that 'should any one of the That is the kind of religion that does external spheres of nature be dissolved, not spread much at any time. It is not the internal nevertheless remains un.

« 前へ次へ »