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midst of dangers, from which indeed we are liberally provided with the means of escape, but which will brook no trifling. It is a winter evening while I write. Outside my windows blows a whistling storm of fine dry snow that cuts and sears like fire, and the mercury has been for hours near zero.
In. side, there is warmth and safety and comfort. Coal burns, and gives me heat. Brick walls, heavy doors, double windows, a tight roof, defy the tempest. But suppose I fail to take advantage of the shelter. Suppose I go forth, scantily clotbed, into the open fields. What pity can I expect from nature ?—that same beneficent nature that offers me, in such lavish profusion, coal for fuel, and wood for timbers, and clay for bricks, and sand and lime for glass. She will ask no questions, but summarily destroy me for my foolhardy presumption. The principle is everywhere and always the same; not one single transgression of the thousand regulations that nature has prescribed for our life will be forgiven or overlooked in consideration of our scrupulously observing the nine hundred and ninty.nine. Each infraction, however trifling, is surely punished ; and if one offends on a vital point, there can be no result but certain death. Beneficence, provision for our wants, is everywhere; mercy, the overlooking of transgression, is nowhere to be discerned.
It surely therefore must be from some source very different from the study of nature that men have drawn the conclusion that they can expect the God of nature to pardon their neglect of himself, on the ground that they have been useful and agreeable to their fellow-men-which is exactly equivalent to pardoning the infraction of one law because another has been fulfilled!
VI. And in respect to the endless duration of the punishment. It has been said, in high-sounding phrase, that it must be impossible for a finite being to commit against the Infinite any sin deserving eternal suffering. That may be true; the proposition is of such a nature as bardly to admit of satisfactory discussion. But surely it is quite too mechanical and limited a conception of the world of woe to think of it only as a torture
chamber wherein pain is deliberately inflicted by higher powers in execution of a judicial sentence—so much sin on earth, so much the wretchedness of expiation beyond. What the Scrip. tures tell us is that such persons as deliberately reject in this life the means of salvation, pass at death into an estate of misery. They do not tell us that further sin is impossible. Blessed be God, they do not positively and in set form proclaim that repentance is impossible either; the door of hope is not absolutely and certainly, beyond all question or doubt, closed at the portals of the grave. But how is it about sinning and repenting bere? Can any truth be more manifest than that the probability of a transgressor's forsaking his evil ways diminishes with a fearful ratio as he goes on in years and in wickedness? The principle of inertia is to be discerned just as plainly, by those who care to look for it, in spiritual as in physical motion. On what other principle do our laws act, in distinguishing so sharply between the first transgressions of youth, heinous though they may be, and the misdeeds (perhaps less black in themselves) of old offenders, and in making of juvenile delinquents a class by themselves? The young lawbreaker may be saved, and we send him to a reformatory; the hardened malefactor of mature years, there is no hope for him-let him go to a prison, and the longer the better!
Now what reason can analogy suggest for the belief of our Universalist brethren and the "free-thinkers" who outdo them, that this downward motion of the soul is to meet with a check at the grave or beyond it? A cannon-ball is shot out into space-when will its motion cease?
A child's spine grows crooked for a dozen years—when will it begin to straighten? A little aneurism forms on the aorta—when will the artery consolidate itself into its normal dimensions? A man acquires habits of falsehood and dishonesty, and they grow upon him for fifty years—when will he probably cast them off? A rational creature of God passes his wbole life, so far as we can see it, in entire neglect of his Creator-when will he begin to reverence the Eternal Purity ? Let death come soon or late ; death is only the crumbling back of the corporeal organs to their elements; why should the steady progression of the spirit toward evil, that we have watched for thirty, or fifty, or eighty years,
be even retarded by its freedom from physical restraints ? Does not the analogy of all things here suggest rather an accelerated movement, accelerated with ever increasing velocity, in the same line as before? If there is one solemn lesson that the observation of nature forces more than another upon
the attention of the observer, it is surely this : Processes of deterioration, once well established, generally end only when there is no more material to work upon. The mould propagates itself in all directions ; the rust increases ; the ulcer spreads; the gangrene advances toward vital parts; the dishonest boy, unrestrained, makes a dangerous man; the liar at fifteen, unless some powerful influence of good transforms his moral nature, is a defaulter at twenty-five; the man of occasional excesses in middle life becomes a confirmed sot in later years. Facilis, ever facilis, is the descensus Averni; and if sin brings suffering now, why not a century from now? Why not a million centuries ? An immortal soul, eternally going wrong-why not eternally suffering the penalty ?
If now the points of resemblance that have been suggested between the system of belief that is called “orthodoxy” on the one hand and the constitution of nature on the other, are justified by correct observation, one of two conclusions would seem certain. If it be maintained that orthodoxy is like nature because it has been developed from the study of nature, the deduction must instantly follow that its doctrines are probably sound. It is one of the lamentable infirmities of thinking very apt to result from that exclusive attention to material things wbich now-a-days so often usurps to itself the name of
science,” that many great investigators of this lower realm of phenomena are prone to fail to recognize, and therefore to reject, their own methods when applied to higher objects of thought. They work by analogy without scruple in determining the probable condition of affairs on the planet Jupiter, or the mode of life of the palæozoic fauna; and they deride analogy as the ignis fatuus of imaginative dreamers, the moment you apply it to the study of our spiritual nature! A thinker of broader intellect can hardly fail to perceive that careful and well based deductions from what happens here and now, in the VOL. VII.
psychological no less than in the material universe, are extremely likely to prove trustworthy guides in regard to the events of all the future.
But in point of fact, we know very well that no system of sacred philosophy was ever developed, in large degree or in small, from the study of nature. Theologians have been men of the closet, not of the laboratory, the field, or the marketplace. Taking as a basis the sketchy outline furnished by the writers of the Scriptures, they have applied to it the methods of ordinary logic, often going wrong, no doubt, but successively correcting each other's results, till the comprehensive system on which, in every essential point, all evangelical churches are agreed, has gradually assumed its present form and dimensions, including no small number of points of unlooked-for similarity to the manifest operations of nature. Whence came the original outline ? —involving as it does so much that man would never have either expected or desired, so much that is mysterious if not incomprehensible, so much that is not only seemingly inconsistent and irreconcilable with itself, but in conflict with human reason as well—and withal, so much that on close inspection reminds us of similar processes and similar riddles in the world of every-day phenomena all around us.
The simple, natural, almost unavoidable conclusion would seem to be this—that the First Cause of nature (say "God" or not, as you please) must have been in some manner the inspirer of the teachings of the Bible in regard to our relations with the Creator, our duties, and our future—the author, that is to say, of the great conceptions and beliefs that lie at the foundation of the orthodox faith. If a more probable hypothesis can be framed, better accounting for all the facts, neither materialist nor agnostic has yet told us what it is.
ARTICLE III.--JAMES MORISON AND HIS
A History of the Evangelical Union. By FERGUS FERGUSON,
D.D. Glasgow : Thomas D. Morison, 1876. A Critical Exposition of the Third Chapter of Paul's Epistle to the
Romans. A Monograph. By JAMES MORISON, D.D. London : Hamilton, Adams & Co. Glasgow: T. D. Morison,
1866. A Practical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. Mark. By
JAMES MORISON, D.D. Boston: N. J. Bartlett & Co., 28
Cornbill, 1882. A Practical Commentary on the Gospel According to St. Matthew.
By JAMES MORISON, D.D. London: Hodder & Stoughton. Boston: N. J. Bartlett & Co., 1883.
GEOGRAPHICALLY, New Haven is situated between Andover and Oberlin ;-theologically, her Divinity School has been supposed to hold a corresponding position in relation to those Hanking forces, East and West. But, by the signs of the times, Andover and Oberlin seem to have exchanged theological positions, yet New Haven remains unmoved. Out of the serenity of a conquered peace with all truth new and old, she, who long ago hailed Andover as orthodox, and Oberlin as one day 80 to be, has now the privilege of hailing Oberlin as orthodox, and Andover as one day so to be. So much for a catholic posi. tion to begin with. And, it is as holding this position, - Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri,—that The New Englander inay take some notice of a Theologian, who, as a scholar and a reformer, has had a career, at many points, the counterpart of those its columns represent. Like the New Haven divines of forty, fifty years ago, James Morison and those about him have contended, and we think, successfully, for the right of Protestants to find out for themselves what the Bible contains ; and to vary, if need be, the applications of its truths to the