Графични страници
PDF файл


Objectors. (3) The unreflecting pietists. 41 if unhappily you should refuse to join in the services of the Church. Your conscience cannot decline to decide in favour of the general duty of adoring Jesus Christ, or against it. And this decision presupposes the resolution, in one sense or the other, of the dogmatic question on which it depends. Christ either is, or He is not God. The worship which is paid to Christ either ought to be paid to Him, or it ought to be, not merely withheld, but denounced. It is either rigorously due from all Christians to our Lord, or it is an outrage on the rights of God. In any case to take part in a service which, like our Litany, involves the prostrate adoration of Jesus Christ, without explicitly recognising His right to receive such adoration, is itself immoral. If to be true and honest in our dealings with each other is a part of mere natural virtue, surely to mean what we say when we dealing with Heaven is not less an integral part of morality n. I say nothing of that vast unseen world of thought and feeling which in the soul of a Christian believer has our Blessed Saviour for its Object, and the whole moral justification of which depends upon the conception which we form of Christ's rank in the scale of being. It is enough to point out to you that the discussion in hand has a practical, present, and eminently a moral interest, unless it be consistent with morality to use in the presence of God and man, a language which we do not believe, or as to the meaning of which we are content to be indifferent.

(v) Once more. It may be urged, from a widely different quarter, that our enquiry is dangerous, if not to literary or moral interests, yet to the spirit of simple Christian piety. * Take care,' so the warning may run, 'lest, instead of preaching the Gospel, you should be merely building up a theological pyramid. Beware of sacrificing spiritual objects to intellectual

Surely the great question for a sinner to consider is whether or not he be justified before God: do not then let us bury the simple Gospel beneath a heap of metaphysics.'

Now the matter to be considered is whether this absolute



Bp. Butler, Analogy, ii. 1. p. 157. Christianity, even what is peculiarly so called, as distinguished from natural religion, has yet somewhat very important, even of a moral nature. For, the office of our Lord being made known, and the relation He stands in to us, the obligation of reli. gious regards to Him is plainly moral, as much as charity to mankind is; since this obligation arises, before external commands, immediately out of that His office and relation itself.'

separation between what is assumed to be the 'simple Gospel' and what is called 'metaphysics' is really possible. In point of fact the simple Gospel, when we come to examine it, is necessarily on one side metaphysical. Educated men, at least, will not be scared by a term, which a scarcely pardonable ignorance may suppose to denote nothing more than the trackless region of intellectual failure. If the Gospel is real to you;


you believe it to be true, and possess it spiritually and intellectually; you cannot but see that it leads you on to the frontier of a world of thought which you may yourselves shrink from entering, but which it is not prudent to depreciate. You say that the main question is to know that you are justified ? Very well; but, omitting all other considerations, let me ask you one question: Who is the Justifier ? Can He really justify if He is only Man ? Does not His power to save to the uttermost those that come unto God by Him' depend upon the fact that He is Himself Divine? Yet when, with St. John, you confess that He is the Eternal Logos, you are dealing quite as distinctly with a question of "metaphysics,' as if you should discuss the value of ovoia and úróoraous in primitive Christian Theology. It is true that such discussions will carry you beyond the region of Scripture terminology; but, at least to a sober and thoughtful mind, can it really matter whether a term, such as Trinity,' be or be not in Scripture, if the area of thought which it covers be identical with that contained in the Scripture statements o ? And, to undervalue those portions of truth which cannot be made rhetorically or privately available to excite religious feeling, is to accept a principle which, in the long run, is destructive of the Faith. In Germany, Spener the Pietist held no mean place among the intellectual ancestors of Paulus and of Strauss. In England, a gifted intellect has traced the phases' of its progressive disbelief; and if, in its downward course, it has gone so far as to deny that Jesus Christ was morally righteous Man, its starting-point was as nearly as possible that of the earnest but shortsighted piety, which imagines that it can dare actively to exercise thought on the Christian Revelation, and withal to ignore those ripe decisions which we owe to the illuminated mind of Primitive Christendom.

even a

• Sum. Th. 14. qu. 29. &. 3. Waterland, Works, iii. 652. Importance of Doctrine of H. Trin. c. 7. "The sense of Scripture is Scripture.' Dr. Mill's Letter on Dr. Hampden's Bampton Lectures, p. 14. See Lect. VIII.

Warnings and hopes.


There is no question between us, my brethren, as to the supreme importance of a personal understanding and contract between the single soul and the Eternal Being Who made and Who has redeemed it. But this understanding must depend upon ascertained Truths, foremost among which is that of the Godhead of Jesus Christ. And in these lectures an attempt will be made to lay bare and to re-assert some few of the bases upon which that cardinal Truth itself reposes in the consciousness of the Church, and to kindle perchance, in some souls, a fresh sense of its unspeakable importance. It will be our object to examine such anticipations of this doctrine as are found in the Old Testament P, to note how it is implied in the work of Jesus Christ 9, and how inseparable it is from His recorded Consciousness of His Personality and Mission “, to trace its distinct, although varying assertion in the writings of His great Apostless, and in the earliest ages of His Church, and finally to shew how intimate and important are its relations to all that is dearest to the heart and faith of a Christian u.

It must be a ground of rejoicing that throughout these lectures we shall keep thus close to the Sacred Person of our Lord Himself. And if, indeed, none of us as yet believed in His Godhead, it might be an impertinence on the part of the preacher to suggest any spiritual advice which takes for granted the conclusion of his argument. But you who, thank God, are Christians by living conviction as well as by baptismal privilege, must already possess too strong and too clear a faith in the truth before us, to be in any sense dependent on the success or the failure of a feeble human effort to exhibit it. You at least will endeavour, as we proceed, to bear steadily in mind, that He of Whom we speak and think is no mere tale or portrait of the ancient world, no dead abstraction of modern or of mediæval thought, but a living Being, Who is an observant witness alike of the words spoken in His Name and of the mental and moral response which they elicit. If we must needs pass in review the erring thoughts and words of men, let us be sure that our final object is not a criticism of error, but the clearer apprehension and possession of truth. They who believe, may by reason of the very loyalty and fervour of their devotion, so anxiously and eagerly watch the fleeting, earth-born mists which for a moment have threatened to veil the Face of the Sun of Righteousness, as to forget that the true weal and safety of the soul is only assured while her eye is persistently fixed on His imperishable glory. They who have known the aching misery of earnest doubt, may perchance be encouraged, like the once sceptical Apostle, to probe the wounds with which from age to age error has lacerated Christ's sacred form, and thus to draw from a nearer contact with the Divine Redeemer the springs of a fresh and deathless faith, that shall win and own in Him to all eternity the unclouded Presence of its Lord and God.

p Lect. II.

• Lect. V, VI.

4 Lect. III.
t Lect. VII.

r Lect. IV.
u Lect. VIII.




The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.-GAL. iii. 8.

If we endeavour to discover how often, and by what modes of statement, such a doctrine as that of our Lord’s Divinity is anticipated in the Old Testament, our conclusion will be materially affected by the belief which we entertain respecting the nature and the structure of Scripture itself. At first sight, and judged by an ordinary literary estimate, the Bible presents an appearance of being merely a large collection of hete. rogeneous writings.

Historical records, ranging over many centuries, biographies, dialogues, anecdotes, catalogues of moral maxims, and accounts of social experiences, poetry, the most touchingly plaintive and the most buoyantly triumphant, predictions, exhortations, warnings, varying in style, in authorship, in date, in dialect, are thrown, as it seems, somewhat arbitrarily into a single volume. No stronger tie is supposed to have bound together materials so various and so ill-assorted, than the interested or the too credulous industry of some clerical caste in a distant antiquity, or at best than such uniformity in the general type of thought and feeling as may naturally be expected to characterize the literature of a nation or of a race. But beneath the differences of style, of language, and of method, which are undeniably prominent in the Sacred Books, and which appear so entirely to absorb the attention of a merely literary observer, a deeper insight will discover in Scripture such manifest unity of drift and purpose, both moral and intellectual, as to imply the continuous action of a Single Mind. To this unity Scripture itself bears witness, and nowhere more emphatically than in the text before us. Observe that St. Paul does not treat the Old Testament as being to

« ПредишнаНапред »