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and Rome, we are sure that no such delineation could have proceeded from them. The invention of such a character, we think, would have overtasked humanity, and would have been of itself a greater miracle than any recorded in the sacred page. If we accept the plain statement, that the Deity became incarnate, that the divine law might be perfectly honoured, and an adequate sacrifice offered for human guilt, all is harmonious, though undoubtedly full of mystery; but on any other supposition, we are met at every step with insuperable difficulty and contradiction.
Upon the great subject of the general evidences of Christianity, we welcome every contribution, convinced that too much attention cannot be given, in a sceptical and inquisitive age, to the principles which lead us to rely with unhesitating confidence upon the records of our faith. Much as has been written, and ably written too, upon this subject, it is not merely unexhausted but inexhaustible. Nor does it seem likely that the time will soon come, if it ever come at all, when researches into these evidences will be an unnecessary or a useless task. Every successive generation, as it rises into active and responsible existence, requires fresh instruction ; and as objectors are always ready to present the difficulty most likely to fall in with the fashion of the day, the Christian advocate should be equally vigilant to point out the sufficient reply. It is idle to appeal to mere authority; for besides that this would be powerless to produce intelligent conviction, truth would evidently lose more than it gained by setting up such a tribunal, the greatest absurdities being often able to exhibit an imposing patronage of venerable names. We must, therefore, rely exclusively upon argument; and as different minds are affected by different kinds of attestation, it is of importance to be able to show, what is really the fact, that all descriptions of evidence, proper to such a subject, meet and concentrate in support of the claims of Christianity.
Enough has not yet been said upon the remarkable coincidence of the various kinds of proof which unite to uphold the authority of divine revelation. If the question were made one of probability merely, the mathematician would have no easy task who should attempt to calculate the bare chance of the book called the Bible being any thing else, or other, than it professes to be ; and if the authenticity of the document be conceded, all its higher claims follow by a rigorous necessity. Its pretensions are sustained, when needful, by prodigy and miracle, but in ordinary circumstances, where such proofs would be superfluous, the quiet flow of its unassuming narrative sufficiently attests its genuine character. Mr. Taylor justly observes, that, “without violence done to the rules of criticism, we cannot detach the miraculous portion of the history, and then put together the mutilated portions, so as to consist with the undoubted reality of the part which is retained."-p. 25.
In the disclosures of Scripture, both the intellect and feeling of man
are touched with a precision that indicates a far more accurate knowledge of the economy of the human mind, than any uninspired philosopher has yet attained. If we are anxious to inquire how the present frame of things originated, we are referred to a period immeasurably remote, and are told with oracular sublimity, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” If we crave after some degree of knowledge, however slight, of the vast, undiscovered future, the veil is partially uplifted, and the light of prophecy is made to fall more or less distinctly upon the destinies of the human race, till the consummation of all things. The evidence of Christianity is historical, indeed, but not historical only; moral, but not moral only; positive and direct, but not positive and direct only ; inductive, in the strictest sense, and from an array of facts almost innumerable, but yet not inductive only. We might even venture to assume the truth of the system, as a matter of pure hypothesis (and hypothesis within certain limits is a legitimate mode of investigation ;) and then it would be found to be in perfect accordance with every known truth in the whole circle of science, while it explained the moral phenomena of the universe, to an extent which no other system ever pretended to do. When one of the learned men of France said to Napoleon, that “if there were no God it would be necessary to invent one for the ends of science,” he not only made a singular philosophical admission, but propounded, by implication, an important truth in the philosophy of human nature. The mind of man will explore the causes of existing phenomena ; it will remain uneasy till it have detected some ultimate principle to which they may be referred, and rest satisfied, so far as the particular subject in question is concerned, the moment such a principle is distinctly made known. The calm, reposing satisfaction is just as natural to the mind in the one case, as is the anxious painful disquietude in the other. Our tendency to trace the phenomena of the universe to a final cause, is almost irresistible; and it is often illustrated, in a singular manner, by those who object to the doctrine, but who constantly employ phraseology which implies its truth, attributing to the abstraction, “Nature,” the very qualities which they strangely deny to an intelligent designer. * Every successive scientific generalization leads us nearer, by a sort of pressure upwards, to the last magnificent conception, which alone demonstrates to our minds the order and congruity of the marvellous system in the midst of which we live. Following, probably, a similar course of thought to that of the French philosopher, we may extend the spirit of his remark to the whole system of Christianity, and say that, if it were not proved to be true, we should still be disposed to assume it, at least if we wished to give any reasonable and satisfactory account of the moral condition of the world. Like the Newtonian theory of gravitation, the Christian scheme is in such perfect unison with
* See Whewell, chapter on Final Causes, Bridgwater Treatise.
all the facts which most require to be explained, that we cannot easily relinquish it, when we have once perceived the simplicity of its conception, the harmony of its parts, and the beauty of its adaptation. As the one solves the mystery of nature, so the other elucidates the moral state and prospects of man ; and we are compelled either to forego the explanation altogether, or unhesitatingly to adopt the system. But if, regarded in the light of a hypothesis merely, Christianity would be thus valuable, as revealing man to himself, and accounting for the peculiarities of his moral condition, * so that with its disclosures all would be plain, while without them all would be inexplicable, how much more is it to be hailed with unmixed satisfaction, when to this is added all those other illustrative and confirmatory evidences, which unite to attest its divine and authoritative character.
In proportion, however, to the certainty of the truth of the revelation, is the importance of a correct estimate of its leading principles and requisitions. Mr. Taylor, therefore, wisely devotes his next lecture to what he deems the truths peculiar to spiritual Christianity, distinguishing them, as he has obviously a right to do, from those more general truths which Christianity recognizes in common with other systems, but which are not of its essence; that is, not specially and exclusively its own. Foremost among these characteristic truths, he specifies the doctrine of justification by faith; the necessity of the renovating influences of the Holy Spirit; and the consequent production of holy tempers and virtuous conduct in the character. His statement on Justification is as follows:
“ First in systematic order, as well as in magnitude, is the doctrine of the propitis. tion, effected by the Son of God; so held clear of admixtures and evasions, as to sustain, in its bright integrity, the consequent doctrine of the full and absolute restoration of guilty man to the favour of God, on his acceptance of this method of mercy; or, as it is technically phrased, “ Justification through Faith.' A doctrine this, which, in a peculiar manner, refuses to be tampered with, or compromised; and which will hold its own place, or none. It challenges for itself, not only a broad basis, on which it may rest alone; bnt a broad border, upon which nothing that is human may trespass.”—p. 79.
This topic naturally leads Mr. T. to advert to the Oxford Tract doetrines, which he considers to set at nought, in their abstract principles as well as in their necessary tendency, all that is vital and essential in Christianity :
“ The great question now at issue in the protestant church is not whether we shall restore or reject certain ancient superstitions ; but whether we are to retain that Gore
* “Our natural speculations cannot carry us to the ideas of grace' and redemption; but in the wide blank which they leave, of all that concerns our hopes of the Divine support and favour, the inestimable knowledge which revelation, as we conceive, gives us, finds ample room and appropriate place." —Whewell, Bridgwater Treatise, p. 357. pel, that bright apostolic truth, which those superstitions so early supplanted, and with which it never has for a moment consisted, and never will consist. The ques. tion on which, at this hour, the religious destinies of England turn, is not whether we shall re-establish, or shall repudiate, the Romish,' or any other doctrine, concern. ing purgatory, pardons, worshipping and adoration, as well of images as of relics, and also invocation of saints ; those fond things, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture ; but rather repugnant to the word of God.' This is not the question ; but whether the righteousness of God through faith,' shall stand or fall among us ; and whether the protestant church itself shall continue to be a witness for God, or shall be rejected as apostate. If the distinctly pronounced doctrine of justification through faith be indeed apostolic, can the bold restorers of the base superstitions of the fourth century make out their title to the honours of apostolicity ? How can we grant it them; or how refuse to assign it to those who having clearly read this apostolic truth in the apostolic writing, cordially entertain it, and convincingly teach it ; and who honour it in their lives, and whose orders are authenticated by the Holy Spirit, in giving efficacy to the word of his grace ?!"-pp. 92, 93.
And in relation to the doctrine of divine influence he further observes :
"Now we are fairly entitled to claim this sacred truth—the doctrine of the sovereign, renovating influence of the Holy Spirit in the heart, and the direct source and cause of whatever is holy, as peculiar to spiritual Christianity, inasmuch as, like the doctrine of justification through faith, it has (even when admitted in words) been constantly evaded, or supplanted, on the one side by rationalists, and on the other by the promoters of superstition, ancient and modern.
“Great truths are always lost or retained together; and the two we have named have both been removed from the view of the mass of professed Christians, through a long course of time, by the substitution of symbols for the things signified ; and by the practice of so magnifying the rites which typify spiritual realities, as to throw these into the shade.
“It was vain to suppose that the mass of men would continue to think of justification, and sanctification, and of fitness for heaven, as moral and spiritual realities, when they were assured, in the most solemn manner, that justification, sanctification, and preparation for heaven, all passed upon them, unconsciously, at the moment when they emerged from the baptismal pool.
“ But at this point we are warned not to trifle with things sacred.' God forbid that we should do so, while intending to plead for the most serious truths ! But in this instance we repel the imputation with confidence, and affirm that it is not we who trifle with things sacred. What things then are sacred? The rites of religion are so, when they hold their place ; but they become mischievous impieties, when thrust from it. To rites we assign the utmost measure of importance which, so far as can gather, the apostles teach us to assign to them; and we dare attach no more, and especially because all religious history exhibits the infatuated determination of the human mind to evade realities, if it be possible, by the aid of ceremonies.'
“But we say it is not the adherents of evangelic doctrine who trifle with things sacred. Surely the immortal welfare of man is sacred; and yet how is this sported with by those who lull the conscience with a promise of salvation that may be managed by proxy! Must not one tremble to witness the temerity of those who, with little or no inquiry into the condition of the soul, yet venture to grant passports into eternity?"-pp. 97, 98.
In these passages Mr. Taylor lays bare, with a firm but discriminating hand, all that is most peccant and corrupt in the modern Oxford system ; in that “ecclesiastical theory,” which he does not hesitate to denounce as “the antagonist of spiritual Christianity.” It is but too evident that the whole scheme tends directly to obscure the essential principles of the Gospel, to substitute forms and ceremonies for the realities of religion, and to claim, on behalf of certain alleged successors of the apostles, a moral and ecclesiastical dominion over the Christian world, quite as absolute as that which Rome exercised in the darkest ages of European degradation. In working out their “ theory," the Tractists labour strenuously to subvert all the great leading principles which characterized the reformation from popery. They not only reject the theology of the reformers, but deny that right and duty of private judgment, to which those eminent men made such urgent and effective appeals ; and they are consequently compelled, in their own case, to address themselves less to the intelligence and the religious feeling, than to the servile fears, the sordid interests, and the superstitious credulity of the people. It has been well said of these writers, that “they have credit for vastly more resources than they possess ; evincing a tendency to learning beyond piety; to rites beyond their object; to saints obscuring a Saviour; and to substitute religiousness for religion.” *
We perfectly agree with Mr. Taylor of his view in the general character of this hollow and deceptive system, and highly value the noble stand he has made against it; yet we cannot but differ from him as to the representation he gives of the state of the religious world at the time of its introduction. He ascribes a portion of its success to the languid and enfeebled state of the opposite or evangelical system. But on this point we prefer that he should speak for himself :
"Meantime the evangelic principle had, at the moment of the birth of its antagonist, spent itself; or had become in a degree languid. Its interior force had been dissipated by many and distracting occupations—commendable in themselves, but not easily made to consist with profound sentiments, of any kind. At the same time an almost unprecedented outburst of political and ecclesiastical strife (must we not say of hatred ?) had produced its inevitable-its own effects, in vitiating the religious sentiments of thousands, in all communions."-pp. 107.
“ The consequence was such as might have been supposed, and such as has invariably resulted from similar oppositions of a spent energy, with an energy renovated."
" But it will be demanded what we mean by speaking of the evangelie principle as having been lately, or as still being, in a state of some exhaustion or collapse.
“Certainly not that evangelical doctrine has ceased to be professed with explicitness, or taught scripturally. Certainly not that it has so fallen into decay, as to fail of producing its proper and happy effects in very many instances, and on all sides Certainly not that any dogmatic apostasy from the faith has taken place among
“On the contrary, it should be acknowledged with gratitude, that those frightful delusions which were the fruit of an absurd system of metaphysics, more absurdly
* Foreign Quarterly Review.