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tenable and unsound. Sin is itself offensive to every right-minded, moral being. It awakens an antagonism in his nature; first against the act, as an act of evil doing—then against the intention, as evil willing—then against the evil will or character, as a perpetual spring of evil, ever hostile to the good of its fellow. To express the hostility. thus awakened by the look of displeasure—the word of rebuke, and the indignant blowis the instinct of nature. To express it so as to produce the best result for the object which it is designed to accomplish, is the dictate of that wisdom to whose counsels blind instinct must ever listen. To express it so as to bring forth the highest well-being of all whom God has appointed it to defend, and thus to make out of inflicted evil a wall of strength against moral, that is, against voluntary wrong, is the object of punishment. This purpose exalts punishment into a virtue, and invests it with moral dignity. It defines the nature of this stern procedure, punishment, the object of which is not to reform the criminal, but to defend the community.
To punishment nature prompts, wisdom directs, and conscience approves. If the criminal may be reclaimed and reformed, and the objects of punishment also secured, then benevolence also prompts to this reformation, but reformatory punislıment expresses an inconsistent and self-destructive conception. Indeed the author himself concedes this in the incidental remark: “The combination of reformatory and educational measures with punishment, would be a more accurate expression for the object which such philanthropists have in view.” If then this dominant conception respecting punishment be itself, as our author concedes, an error, we do not see that Chistianity is in any special danger from its temporary sway. That error it is the duty of a wise Christian philosophy to combat and overthrow. That such an error prevails should arouse the friends of truth to an earnest and confident resistance.
But how can it do this? By confronting a principle so plausible and humane, with a vague or erroneous theology, such as unquestioning tradition commands us to accept and an undiscriminating faith is ready to belive? Not in the least, but by a speculative system that is demonstrably true, and that by
the force of truth commends itself to the consciences of all. Without such a speculative basis, theology, however venerable its authority and sacred its ends, will be conscious of its own weakness, and grow faint-hearted in its own assertions. If then it be true that in England or in this country, preachers and divines are, as the anthor alleges, less confident in their belief concerning eternal punishment, it is owing to the vagueness and inconsistency of their own philosophy. If the prevailing error in regard to punishment has been so potent to infect and corrupt theology in its vital doctrines, then theology itself must have been fatally weak and defective either in its principles or in its defenders.
But the author claims that Theology has almost yielded the point, which indeed had been taken already by the world of thinking men, that whatever may be the object of punishment it can never be eternal. But why cannot punishment be eternal? If what is properly punishment be ever rightful, as the author concedes, then, if its ends require, it may be eternal as well as limited in duration. If it be for reformation only, when that object is accomplished, the punishment must terminate. But not so if its end be to express the feelings and character of the Holy One. The author would insist that such a necessity can never arise. But why not? Surely, he would reply, an enlightened thinker cannot believe that God would ever create a soul that should be eternally lost. To this we answer, as easily as he can believe that he would create a soul that would sin at all. The inystery is not that punishment is inflicted, but that sin should occur to make punishment necessary. This mystery is not in the least relieved by making the punishment brief. For by the same kind of logic by which it is demonstrated, or the same moral intuition by which it is claimed to be certainly known, that puunishment cannot be eternal, it can be proved or known that there ought to be, and therefore there is no sin at all, and that what is called sin is but a phase in human development, a necessary stage in the progress of the race; not the willful and malignant evil which deserves God's fixed displeasure. To this conclusion the author must be led, and all who think with him, in applying those speculative views, which are, in his view, working so great a change in the Protestant Theology. We need not say he must be led to this conclusion; we should rather say he has reached it already, for we find that when he expounds his system in his confession of Faith, its very corner-stone is the doctrine of Necessity. His logic concerning Christianity is therefore briefly this: there can be no retribution, no salvation, and no atonement, in the received sense of these terms, because there can be no sin. The advancing thought of these times is slowly, but surely, crowding off Christianity from its standing place, for it is decisively demonstrating that the conception of sin is philosophically absurd and impossible. This is the brief argument that holds so many thinking 'minds in an attitude of half-belief or of unbelief with respect to a living and earnest Christianity. They do not be
. lieve in Christ, because they do not believe in sin. They do not believe in sin for various reasons. Some men, like the author of Thorndale, hold the doctrine of metaphysical or psychological necessity. Others, like the same author, cannot reconcile the fact of sin with any theory of human enlightenment and progress. Others, like John Foster, through ultraCalvinist notions of sovereign and irresistible grace, either avowedly or secretly reject the doctrine of punishment, and as really, though unwittingly, exclude the possibility and the fact of sin. Others do substantially the same, under the guise and name of milder theories of man, and more liberal views of Christianity. As a recent authority has it, “Sin is the much abused step-danghter of ignorance."
Our limits will not allow us to defend our past and present theology from the misconceptions of the author. easy to show that Christian theology, with all the crude dogmas of human speculation under which it has suffered, and with all the mixtures of a false philosophy with which it has been defiled and debased, has yet commended itself to the consciences of thinking men by the grand moral truths concerning God and man, which it has so sublimely enforced. The truths concerning human sinfulness, danger, and helplessness, concerning Christ's atoning death and redeeming power,
have been ever the same, and these have in all ages given to Christianity and the Church their life and energy. The changes in theology, on which the author dwells with so much satisfaction, are no signs of decay, but rather tokens of the more vigorous life with which it has struggled against the stifling masses of human error, and cast out the poisonous element of human philosophy. It had been a noble use of the splendid gifts of the author to have seen this element of strength in the Christian system in which he finds so much to honor and love, and to find in thė progressive changes of Christian theology an argument for its divine original, rather than signs of its speedy decay. But how could be bring a purged eye to the judgment of Christianity, when the conclusion was foregone by the assumption that sin and guilt are impossible? How could he do any justice to the argument for the truth of the Christian scheme, which rests upon its adaptation to the wants of the human soul, when there is wanting to his mind the elements most essential to this argument,—the recognition of the fact of guilt to be forgiven and corruption to be healed ?
And yet the author is too human not to know, and too honest not to acknowledge, that the soul of man needs a religion of positive facts, a living Redeemer, and a worshiping Church, for such a religion alone can give rest to the heart. He understands and pities the awful agony expressed in the words of Cyril, “Oh, Thorndale! to pass long, sleepless nights,-sleepless and in pain,--and not to know how to
He dwells with thankful delight on the rest which his monkish retreat had at last afforded. “ Wbatever may be decided upon the philosophy of his views, I am sure his life is most happily chosen. At this moment, if I could change positions with any one, it would be with Cyril.”
He makes the cynical Seckendorf exclaim, “Thorndale! if you and I could cease thinking our perplexing thoughts for four-and-twenty hours, we might, as the sun went down, walk together, arm-in-arm, into yonder monastery."
He is no stranger to the vital energy which still remains in the faith of the individual believer. He admires the fine en.
thusiasm which the Christian cobbler attains by the aid of his Bible and his Bunyan. Seckendorf almost relents from his analytic dissections at the thought of an assembly of Christian worshipers, and Clarence knows that untold generations must pass away before society shall be sufficiently humanized and enlightened to find in Natural Theism a substitute for Christian Worship. He forgets to notice the tremendous argument for the truth of Christianity, which lies hidden in these incidental concessions to its power. Rather his evasion of its force is but the offensive confession of a dishonest pride. Could his intellect cease to think, he might condescend to gratify his heart! Could his thirst for knowledge first be slaked, he might worship a personal and forgiving God! Could he understand all the mysteries of the universe, and search the understanding of the Creator, he would be content to pray. Poor Charles Thorndale ! easy in fortune, loving in spirit, breathing out thy life in the balmy atmosphere of Naples, looking back on a career unblemished by crime or shame, thou art the ideal man dreamed of by the cultivated litterateur of our times, of man as he would think him to be, not as he knows that he is. Thy conscience is not so easy as thou dost serenely affirm, thy soul is not so peaceful with thy God. Notwithstanding thy philosophic calmness, thy soul is throngh fear of death all thy lifetime subject to bondage, and the sympathies of human friendship and the refinements of modern culture are no substitute for the peace of that man whose transgression is forgiven and whose sin is covered. Thy human heart does know and ought to be honest enough to confess,
that “the sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.” It needs but to know this necessity to be qualified to understand the import of the words, "thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Here we might discuss the question which every page of this volume has suggested to our thoughts, How far are theologians and preachers responsible for the speculative difficulties and doubts of the cultivated men in England and America, of which this book is an expression and a symbol? How far may their negative position be fairly ascribed to the squabbles of contend