« AnteriorContinuar »
4. we make decided objection. If "death takes away no moral and intellectual power" from a man, then he is not dead. The author says elsewhere, "Man has no next life. Break the continuity of his life and his identity is lost." Nevertheless the Bible does not view death as continued life. And it does speak of the life that now is and of the life that is to come. Hence, while the spirit must survive through the death-state, even though body and soul are destroyed, the man cannot be said to exist in death, and therefore cannot be put upon probation. Better place any hope of future trial where the Bible fixes it, in his resurrection from the dead. Principle No. 5 assumes that there can be no end to a sinner's opportunity in life. If so, what is the meaning of the second death? With 6, 7, 8, and 9, we all agree. If Nos. 10 and 11 imply the final salvaiion of all we must say "not proven". And yet we fully agree that He does not mean to leave any of his creatures "to the ever devouring flames of unending agony." The passages quoted to prove this are wrongly located and misapplied. But the lives that are found worthless and unfit to be wrought over into the temple of humanity which He is building for his eternal praise must vanish away. God has no use and n0 place in His universe for the eternal embodiment of evil.
While therefore, we agree with the spirit of this article, and, with much that it aims at, it isfaulty in that it does not give its true value to death as the wages of sin. It makes death prolonged opportunity, and so conceals from the sinner his impending doom from which he needs immediate salvation.
ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY.—A writer in the Contemporary Review for February thus speaks of the missionary problem in India, It conveys a lesson on the advantages of the liberty of the Spirit which is needed at home as well as abroad.
"Ivet every native church once founded be left to itself or be helped only by letters of advice, as the churches of Asia were, to seek for itself the rule of life which best suits Christianity in India, to press that part of Christianity most welcome to the people, to urge those dogmatic truths which most attract and hold them. It is the very
test of Christianity that it can adapt itself to all civilizations and improve all, and the true native churches of India will no more be like the reformed churches of Europe than the churches of Yorkshire are like the churches of Asia Minor. Strange beliefs, strange organisations, many of them spiritual despotisms of a lofty type, like that of Kesheb Chunder Sen, the most original of all modern Indians, wild aberrations from the truth, it may be even monstrous heresies, will appear among them, but there will be life, conflict, energy, and the faith will spread, not as it does now like a fire in a middle class stove, but like a fire in a forest. There is too much fear of imperfect Christianity in the whole missionary organisation. Christianity is always imperfect in its beginnings. The majority of Christians in Constantine's time would have seemed to modern missionaries mere worldlings; the converted Saxons were for centuries violent brutes; and the mass of Christians throughout the world are even now, little better than indifferents. None the less is it true that the race which embraces Christianity, even nominally, rises with a bound out of its former position and contains in itself thenceforward the seed of a nobler and more lasting life. Natives of India when they are Christians will be and ought to be Asiatics still—that is as unlike English rectors or English Dissenting Ministers as it is possible for men of the same creed to be. And the effort to squeeze them into those moulds not only wastes power, but destroys the vitality of the original material."
The principle of church organization which would require every minister to withdraw, if he finds that his enlarging views of truth cannot be compressed within its system, would condemn the church to perpetual torpidity and decrepitude. For God has no other way of conducting His church on to her appointed goal of unity and perfect knowledge than through His ministers, given for that purpose^ And if they must be put under a bond to suppress inquiry, or be tempted by love of peace to stifle honest convictions, how can they be used as organs of the Spirit in edifying the church, or as His appointed witnesses to men?
We clip the following from an extended notice in the INDEPENDENT of Darwin's WEE And Betters :—
He could not believe in God because God cannot be proved by the kind of reasoning with which he was accustomed to prove all that he did believe.
He had outgrown the faith of sentiment, and he never sought for the faith of reason. Hence, as he sadly says of himself, his soul was dried up, and he became for every subject, except science, but a withered leaf. His mighty achievements in his chosen field have won his name undying honor, but it will also go down to posterity with an imperishable regret that one so lovable in disposition and so benevolent in life should not have been led to attribute to these qualities something higher than a human origin.
These are just remarks. That Darwin was a conscientious and truth-loving man no reader of these records of his life will doubt. Sometime ago the Independent concerned itself with the question of the future destiny of Sir Moses Montefiore. This was before it had so thoroughly committed itself to its recent dogma that death ends all opportunity. We would ask it now, in the light of its above remarks, what it has to say about the future of such a man as Charles Darwin. It is true that this man lived and died under the shadow of a great doubt, deepened in his case by the character of his mind and the nature of his studies. Does the Independent believe that his fixture must be one long, unending, night of misery and despair? It surely cannot call him a Christian, and, if consistent, it must refuse to find in his case a single ray of hope. Such pitiful inconsistency between its estimate of the man and its estimate of his future would not be possible, if it knew the meaning of the gospel of the resurrection.
THE REV. H. O. PENTECOST has sent to the Church Union, at lhe invitation of its editor, a statement of his reasons for refusing to be any longer allied with Orthodox Christianity. His reason in brief is that he is no longer orthodox; and the two main points of departure he specifies are in the accepted doctrines of the Person of Christ and the inspiration of the Scriptures. He evidently does not understand the divine plan as revealed in the Scriptures, nor the divine work which Jesus came to do as the Saviour of mankind. We entirely repudiate his meagre views of our Lord's divine nature and mission. He alludes to some things in the Church, however, which she will do well to consider. We quote a few paragraphs.
So marked is the difference between Christianity and the religion of Jesus that one must practically make choice whether he will be a follower of Jesus or a Christian. He cannot be both. Any minister or priest who becomes a follower of Jesus, as I understand Him, can neither get nor keep a pulpit of organized Christianity.
The church does not allow, much less encourage freedom of thought. She permits you to think as you like but not within her communion. You may think what you like, Roger Williams, but not in Massachusetts! This is not freedom of thought. In taking this position, the church becomes the enemy of thought, the enemy of mind. The church always has a place for priests; never any place for prophets.
In such expressions as these Mr. Pentecost reveals one secret of his wide departure. It is due to his recoil from a state of things in the church which is largely the fruit of the bondage he deplores The church has been putting "systems" in the place of Christ, and measuring her loyalty to Him by her zeal in building up her own greatness under these systems. She has been putting the integrity of the system above the love of the truth. And hence the truth that makes men free has been cramped and perverted. This is the secret of the discrepancy between her profession and her practice of the religion of Jesus. And this is why she has so often stifled the utter ances of those who would lead her into larger light and liberty. Mr. Pentecost has never seen in Scripture the difference^between the calling of the church and the blessing of the world through Christ's redemption of it, and how one is related to the other. He sees no distinction between the precepts of Jesus as addressed to His chosen flock, who were called to suffer with Him the loss of all things in order to reign with Him, and His exoteric teaching to the multitude. He does not see that while the judgment of the one class,, as called to eternal life in Christ, is on one plane, the judgment of mankind in general is on another; while the principle "according to deeds done" applies to both. Nor does the church see that there is any provision for the reward of men who "have done good" in this life, other than for the few who, by reason of their new and divine birth, have done it from the highest motive.
The point we make is that the church itself is partly responsible for the wide departures of such men. A freer discussion, a larger liberty of the Spirit exercised in reverent subjection to Him who was given to guide us into all truth, wonld have saved the church from many narrow and distorted views of God, and of His great plan of grace. And this would have prevented such recoils from her fold and her doctrine as the one now before us.
THE INDEPENDENT gives this notice of our recent book.—So far as
a dispassionate examination of THE Fire Of God's Anger, by the Rev. L. C. Baker, has disclosed the point and aim of that very serious and fair-minded little treatise, it is an attempt to throw the light o f the Old Testament upon the New Testament teaching concerning future punishment. The author's final position is intermediate between the doctrine of endless torment and the recent assumption that the death-state is not penalty but one of extended probation. He holds it to be one of punishment for the wicked, issuing, however, in a resurrection which is held to be essentially redemptive and which is not viewed as a final scene in which the history of the world or of one of its ages comes to a common end, but may take place at any time in the history of a soul when he reaches it. The sanctified believer has his resurrection at once. The wicked have to endure the "fire of God's anger." We are unable to separate the general position of this author from the insurmountable objections which lie against the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory. It seems to us to efface from the Gospel the doctrine of free salvation by faith, and to leave us with a doctrine of salvation by a kind of reconstructed Protestant Purgatorial purgation. The author is, however, an orthodox minister of the Presbyterian Church, a devout and reverent believer, whose views and arguments are presented in the best spirit.
The reviewer has evidently read but hastily. We do not teach that resurrection is salvation to all the subjects of it, but constantly discriminate between that which is "o.f life," and that which holds the unjust still under judicial restraint and trial, and liable to the second death. As to the comparison of our doctrine to that of the Roman Catholic Church, we have only to say that broad minded students, like Dr. Schaff, arraign the Reformed eschatology just at this point,— that it threw overboard the Roman doctrine of purgatory without ■providing a substitute. Some doctrine of the future state is needed