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sense of religion; and yet a one-sided conception of this idea would certainly be a grave mistake. A correct position is taken up when the highest good is thought of as being supramundane, and as growing out of fellowship with God. But the one-sided carrying out of this thought leads to the conclusion, that this end-union with God-can only be reached by withdrawment from the world and mystic retirement of the soul within itself. Life in the world must be declared sinful, the historical life unreasonable. According to what has been already said, the highest good must be so conceived of that it becomes clearly manifest as the result of historie development. Now, if it is moral development that forms the central core of history—as Kaftan points out at length-the supreme good must be thought of as a moral good.

But the moral ideal, even under the most developed conditions, always has relation to social life, and to the inner discipline of the life of sense. The view must be rejected according to which the supremacy of the spirit over nature is what is essential in the moral problem,-so that the centre of gravity would lie in civilization or culture, and progress in civili. zation would be moral progress. For civilization is itself a product of the natural will, and not of moral work. What appears as belonging to it of moral value, when closely looked at, is something that is connected with social life and the discipline of the life of sense. Progress in civilization is essential, no doubt, to moral development, but it also threatens it with grave dangers. It is only in the moral soundness of a nation that there lies the guarantee of its historic existence and power, while a high development of civilization not unfrequently marks the beginning of a nation's decline.

If the supreme good is to be thought of as a product of history, that means, then, that it must be thought of as a moral good. On the other hand, it must be conceived of in the sense of religion, as participation in the supramundane Divine life. The reasonable idea of the supreme good, therefore, is that which binds closely together the religious and moral points of view. This is done by the Christian idea of the kingdom of God. This is not simply a moral ideal in the world; it is above all a supramundane supreme good, in the possession of which blessedness or salvation consists. And thereby this ideal acquires the power to sum up and comprehend all moral tendencies in history. Only by being united with the Christian idea of the kingdom of God can the moral life of mankind find its completion. If this union is dissolved, then not only is the realization of the moral ideal an impossibility, the ideal itself must be held as extravagant and unreasonable ; and if it is to appear at all as in some way attainable, it must be modified and reduced. In the Christian idea of the kingdom of God the religious and the moral thoughts are most intimately united. Without the supramundane good of religion there can be no consummation of the moral development; and without the kingdom of moral righteousness the religion that directs itself to the supramundane good has no living content by which it can secure a firm foothold in the world. A development that would transcend what is reached in this way is not thinkable. Therefore, the Christian idea of the kingdom of God is the reasonable idea of the highest good, and Christian faith the highest knowledge correspondent with reason—the knowledge of the first cause and final purpose of the world which we are seeking. This judgment, moreover, as to the supreme good is an objective judgment, for it has its ground in that which is universally human, and rests on a comprehensive estimation of the historic life of men.

XI. What is found up to this point is, of course, only preliminarynamely, that the existence of the moral kingdom of God is an undoubted fact of history, and that the existence of the supramundane eternal kingdom of God is a postulate of reason. As to the reality of the latter, nothing has as yet been made out. If we are not to be left simply with a postulate of reason, the eternal kingdom of God must have also come in some way to be known in history. Now, about a fact which of itself does not belong to the world only Divine revelation can give certainty. Hence, the rational postulate of a supramundane kingdom of God as the end of history is nothing but the postulate of a special revelation of this kingdom in history. Whether there really is such a revelation history alone can inform us. But the Christian religion is a historic fact, and the Christian Church witnesses to the possession of that which reason postulates. Only through the revelation in which the Christian Church believes is history, as a whole, intelligible, and only that which has appeared to men as the supreme thing in their history can help them to an understanding of the world, and to an answer to the question as to its origin and purpose. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe in this revelation, and to recognize in it the principle for understanding the world in correspondence with reason. In this way the reasonableness and the universal validity of the Christian faith is shown. It is self-evident that men could not accept the great gift of God in Christ, unless God cancelled the guilt of sin and cleansed the conscience. If it is, therefore, reasonable to believe in the revelation that has the kingdom of God as its content, the same holds good of faith in the reconciliation of men to God through Christ.

XII. I have only been able to give a meagre outline of the abundance of matter dealt with in this important book. If the reader gets no impression of the skilful and cautious way in which the proof is conducted, it is a misfortune, though an inevitable one, that needs no excuse. But I would have to be excused, especially by the author, if in making the attempt—by no means an easy one—to reproduce in a few pages the contents of a book rich in thought, without forgetting the need for the greatest possible brevity, important matter is here and there left out and matter of secondary importance is unduly emphasized. What especially excites one's own interest very easily forces its way to the foreground. But it is to be hoped that even this short epitome will succeed in producing the conviction, not merely that the method of apologetic hitherto pursued has here been radically discarded, but that it has been effectually refuted. Apologetic has hitherto stood by the old view of science, which referred the decision upon truth to the so-called laws of thought. If that was held warranted for the province of experience, there was nothing against its being applied also beyond experience. The content of faith would then be also the subject of scientific knowledge, and, by a direct line of progression, the knowledge of God would form the completion of the scientific knowledge of the world. But this view has been once for all relinquished. For present-day science, what decides upon truth is not the laws of thought, but the facts that are given in experience. And one cannot comfort himself by saying, that this standpoint also will again be abandoned ; not only is it justified by the marvellous progress and results of science, its correctness impresses itself in the most palpable way on sober reflection. But the Church again, on its part, cannot dispense with apologetic. It requires it in order to show that what it proclaims is eternal truth. And it can only injure its position and influence when, by severing itself from the life of thought of the present time, it fights with weapons belonging to an age that lies in the past and has been outgrown. It cannot be of service to it to cling to a method that has been definitely discarded. The Gospel is eternal, but the understanding of it, and the defence of it, are subject to the change and progress of all things that are historical. It may be said to be one of the questions for the very life of the Church, that it should deliberate upon a new method for the proof of Christian truth. It may be that alterations are required in Kaftan's working out of particular points, but at the present time the proof lies, at all events, in the direction in which he has set out. And any one who gets acquainted with his book, and does not allow himself to be blinded by the illusory performances of ecclesiastical parties, with their pitiful watchwords, will agree with me that our Church has every reason to be thankful to him for this achievement of his.


By Rev. HAY S. Escott, M.A. In THE THINKER of this month the Rev. J. M. McCosh Smith criticizes some papers of Mr. Lias that appeared in March, April, and May last. Leaving Mr. Lias to defend himself, if he thinks there is need of defence, I would make some brief remarks on Mr. Smith’s principal positions. Two thoughts seem to me to be prominent; one, that any errors in the Bible may be referred to corruption of the original text; the second, that Inspiration involves infallibility or inerrancy.

Now, the first of these seems to me a weak argument. For, as Mr. Smith himself maintains, the laborious and exact examination of manuscripts and versions, so far as it has hitherto gone, reveals no really important difference between our present text and the earliest existing authorities, What reason, then, is there for assuming that there ever existed an authorized and received text of the Scriptures which so far differed from the present as to remove the difficulties or errors which this exhibits ? I should have supposed the natural conclusion on critical grounds would have been exactly contrary to this.

Again, as to Mr. Smith's second position, I am compelled to differ from him in his conception of what is necessary to the claim of Inspiration. I gladly agree with his assertion—which must, I think, be right—that we need inspired writings as well as inspired men. But do we need books more inspired than their authors? And is it not an unproved assumption, and one, of course, which precludes all argument, to maintain or imply that the Inspiration of the writers of the Old and New Testaments was so universal and unlimited as to render their utterances, or their writings, or the reports of them, absolutely free from error on every subject on which they touch? Even in the higher sphere of character Inspiration seems to have its bounds. We may firmly believe that Jeremiah was, by Divine Inspiration, raised spiritually far above his countrymen, and yet admit that his utterances and his feelings, as expressed in chap. xx., fell far below the Christian standard. If, then, there was a gradual and not a perfect illumination in the moral and religious sphere, as the comparison of the two dispensations seems to proveif, even in this respect, Inspiration was limited-is it a strange thing that inspired teachers, in purely human matters, were allowed to depend on the same means of ascertaining truth which are open to all ? And that after the honest use of such means they may have fallen into unimportant historical errors ? The introductions of David to Saul (1 Sam. xvi., xvii.), alluded to by Mr. Lias, and familiar to most of us, seem to contain statements very difficult to harmonize; and they so struck the LXX. translators that by omission they made one consistent narrative out of apparently two. again, in the New Testament, the report of St. Stephen's speech in Acts vii. contains, as is well known, several statements of fact distinctly at variance with the narrative in Genesis. I simply ask which is the more natural supposition, that in some older and lost edition of the Scriptures these discrepancies did not exist of which, be it remembered, critical researches find no trace—or to think that either St. Stephen, or St. Luke, or the compiler of the memoirs of David, being left to their own honest efforts, occasionally fell into error on matters of fact of no importance, or on which certainly depended no moral or religious truth? I accept the latter alternative. But some may ask, “What, then, is your definition of Inspiration ?" I reply that such a definition would be welcome, if possible, but that, whether possible or not, to give it requires, not only & profounder acquaintance with the Scriptures, Old and New, in the original languages, than I possess, but a mind of greater depth and compass, more philosophical, and, at the same time, more spiritually enlightened, than I can make any pretence to. But with the facts of the Bible before me, which are open to all, I am not the less clear that Inspiration does not involve even the absolutely highest teaching in religion and morality, but only the highest adapted to the capacity of those who, from time to time, were recipients of


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that teaching. And further, that with regard to matters of history, whilst the main current of events is faithfully given-for here there could hardly be error without dishonesty—yet that Inspiration did not exempt the sacred writers from minor inaccuracies, such as uninspired but honest writers might be liable to—inaccuracies, be it always remembered, trivial in themselves, and which in no way affect the religious lesson of the context in which they occur.

Towards the close of his paper Mr. Smith comes to what he calls “ the real question," and seems to think that he can settle it, or at least prove all who differ from him in the wrong, by the somewhat crude method of asking, “Did God inspire truth and error, or give truth and error by Inspiration ? Such interrogations may startle the ignorant and timid, as they jar upon the feelings of the devout, but they are absolutely of no argumentative value whatever. This appears at once in the fact that men of diametrically different views will return to them one and the same answer. I say this deliberately, though Mr. Smith conceives that Mr. Lias, whom he is opposing, frankly answers that “we have truth and error from God.” But leaving Mr. Lias to be his own interpreter and defender, let us examine Mr. Smith's question. Is it not blasphemous to speak of the God of Truth as inspiring error ? Would any Christian or theist dare to make such an assertion? If all these both Mr. Smith and those who differ from him- return an unhesitating negative to his inquiry, of what use can it be as an argument to distinguish and prove or disprove the views of those who, whilst holding very different opinions, agree in their reply? The fact is that this great and momentous discussion cannot be thus easily disposed of. Had Mr. Smith asked whether it is possible to conceive that God should inspire and specially assist imperfect human instruments to communicate religious knowledge to men, he would have been proposing a more reasonable and very solemn question—a question which, with our present knowledge, many of us would answer in the affirmative—but on which every honest and earnest student desires to have the fullest possible light. So far as we now see, whilst maintaining as strongly as Mr. Smith the impossibility of God inspiring error, we see nothing derogatory to His truth in the supposition—which the facts before us seem to indicate—that He did inspire men in whom religious truth was not perfectly developed, as since Christ came; and who, in matters which did not affect their teaching, were liable to forgetfulness and mistake. Their Inspiration made them perfect for the work assigned them, but it was not part of their work to be Christians before Christ, or absolutely free from error in writing history.

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