Page images
PDF
EPUB

Bible is wrong, they are each in the writers one with another; and hence it right! And yet they fail to agree is that, while each retains his own inamong themselves !

The views of dividuality, their separate individualiParker differ much from those of Mr. ties merge into a higher individuality, Martineau, and Miss Martineau's again in which we find them to be one. We are very different from those of either. discover nothing of this kind in connecHer brother would, no doubt, repudiate tion with the sceptical writers of the his sister's atheism, and Parker, we present day. How can we account for presume, would reject much that is its existence among prophets and aposmaintained by them both. If the re tles, if not by the fact, that they were spective creeds of the three could be each inhabited and influenced by the written down, each would be found, in same Spirit ? Hence their wondrous many respects, destructive of the others. unity, in spite of their remarkable It is clear, therefore, that they, at loast, diversities. are not inspired by the Spirit of Truth. But, — to return to the point from Truth is always consistent with herself, which we set out --it seems to us very and could not possibly lead those who easy to account for the infidel sympafollow her to conclusions so opposite, thies and tendencies of Socinianism. so contradictory, and so mutually de. Those who embrace this system will structive, as those at which they have invariably be found to entertain light arrived.

views of sin. By them, sin is regarded To our minds,-with the exception, as a trifle-rather a misfortune than a indeed, of the corruption of human na- fault--a peccadillo to be pardoned, than ture.--nothing to convincingly proves a crime to be punished. Blind to the the necessity for some standard of infinite excellence and stainless purity moral and spiritual truth, external to of the Divine nature, with uo right the human reason, as the endless con- conception of the spirituality of the tradictions to which the exercise of the law, and of its high, and holy, and unhuman reason is constantly leading its alterable requirements, they cannot votaries. On these points, the reason imagine God as regarding sin with of one man differs from that of almost abhorrence, and hence as concerned to every other. My mind embraces as keep himself in entire and everlasting truth what the mind of another rejects separation from it, and to manifest his

That which to me appears to displeasure against all who love and be the very perfection of what is con practise it. With this mental — we sistent and reasonable, seems to my should rather say—this moral defect, neighbour to be the height of unreason the doctrine of atonement appears to ableness and folly. It must be obvious, them an incongruity, an utter absurd. therefore, that if there be such a thing ity, and the cross of Christ is foolishas å standard of moral and spiritual ness. With the doctrine of Christ's truth, it cannot be the human reason, atonement there goes, of course, the but must be something apart from it. doctrine of Christ's Divinity; for why It cannot be anything in ourselves, but should God become “manifest in the must be something out of ourselves. flesh," to effect a work which might as We believe that we have this standard easily be accomplished by man? Thus, in the Bible. The human reason, in- rejecting the two cardinal doctrines of deed, has been concerned with the pro. Christianity-doctrines which are interduction of the Bible, but it has been woren with the whole texture of revelathe human reason enlightened, purified, tion-no wonder that the Bible beand guided by the Spirit of the living comes to them a book full of inconGod Hence the harmony of the sacred | sistencies and contradictions, and that

as error.

they feel an utter want of sympathy | sense of yielding him cheerful obedience and with the spirit of the men who wrote it. enjoying his love. To effect this most happy

deliverance he sent his own Son; and as the On their own principles, they are as

wisest, most suitable, and effectual means to little able either to comprehend or ex- this end, he gave this Son to die the bitter plain the Bible, as the man who rejects death of crucifixion. According to the custhe Copernican theory is able to account

toms of the age when the Scriptures were

written, it was very common to redeem men for the apparently erratic and contra

from captivity by paying a price. The blood dictory motions of the planetary bodies. or death of Christ, which is the instrument They reject the only clue that can of our deliverance from the influence of singuide them through what they find ful affections and of death, is there called a to be the intricacies of the Bible ; by it. This is the plain, obvious meaning of

price, a ransom, and we are said to be bought and the book being thus to them, in Scripture, and so far from representing our consequence of their rejection of its blessings as bought for us from God by anfundamental doctrines, a mass of con- other, it represents God as buying or purfusion and contradiction, their only est blessings. The mercy of God has not

chasing us, that he may shed on us his richconsistent course is, either entirely to becn excited towards us by the mediation of reject it as a Divine revelation, or else the Son; but his mercy preceded, appointed to regard it as containing, with some

this mediation, and gives it its efficacy.”

(Vol. i. p. 221.) what that comes from God, much more that originates with man.

Reserving for a little our observations We consider Dr. Channing,* however, on this passage, we beg to remind our to have been, in a great measure, an readers, that though Dr. Channing exception to these remarks. He was, could write thus, he was far, very far, certainly, no Socinian. We find him from being orthodox in sentiment. It saying, vol. ii. pp. 105, 106, “ With Dr. is abundantly evident from the volumes Priestley I have less sympathy than with before us, that he was an Arian ; that many of the orthodox.' I am lit- he regarded Christ as a super-human tle of a Unitarian, have little sympathy being, who existed prior to his incarwith the system of Priestley and Bel- nation, but as essentially distinct from, sham, and stand aloof from all but and inferior to the Father. He seems those who strive and pray for clearer through life to have held on by a syslight and look for a purer and more tem wbich but few have been able long ettectual manifestation of Christian to regard as tenable ; for in most cases truth.” Regarding our Saviour, we Arianism proves but a stepping-stone find him writing as follows:-" Jesus to Socinianism, as Socinianism does to Chist is the Son of God in a peculiar Infidelity. It would be easy to show sense, the temple of the Divinity, the that Dr. Channing's views are as inconbrightest image of his glory. In seeing sistent with themselves as they are him, we see the Father.” (Vol. i. p. 222.) with Scripture. Indeed, he never seems The following paragraph expresses his to have ventured to bring them fairly views regarding the atonement.

to the test. We look in vain in his “ In the language of Scripture, men, hav- Memoir, and in bis other writings, for ing sinned and become subject to death, are anything like an exposition and defence represented as enslaved to sin and to death. In of his sentiments regarding either the this wretched and hard bondage, their Heavenly Father pitied them, and desired their person or the work of Christ. He seems release; desired that they might be rescued always to have shrunk from the argufrom this cruel oppression, and restored to his ment. To the admirable letters adeasy and happy service; that they might enter dressed to him by Moses Stewart, on his family, and become his property in the the Divinity of Christ, he never at

* See Memoir of William Ellery Channing, with tempted an answer. Extracts from his Correspondence and Manuscripts. 2 vols. Svo. Routledge.

Hero, as it seems to us, was the great

defect in the mind of Channing. With ransom-price can be regarded as having much natural amiableness, quick sensi- been paid to God, which is tantamount bilities, powerful feelings, strong moral to affirming that no atonement was sympathies, and not a little of the poe- necessary to vindicate the Divine chatic temperament, he yet seems to have racter in forgiving sin. This view takes been deficient in vigorous mental grasp, away all substantiality from the atoneand also in that peculiar intellectual ment, and reduces it to a mere sham. capacity which enables one to survey a If there was not a need for the suffer. subject on all sides, and in all its varied ings of Christ, arising from the character bearings, before coming to a conclusion. of God --if they were not needful in We often find him reasoning rather order to the full vindication and perfect with his feelings than with his intel display of that character, where was the lect; and, not unfrequently, under the need for them at all? We cannot see influence of antipathies which he had how, on Dr. Channing's principles, the unhappily acquired, shrinking back death of Christ can be regarded as havfrom inferences to which his premises ing been necessary; and we are at a would fairly have led him. It seems to loss to know how he would have vin. have been rather the cold formalism of dicated the rectitude of the Divine prohis father, than any examination of the cedure in sending even a merely supersubject in the light of Scripture, that human being into our world, that he led at first to his defection from or might pay, in agonizing sufferivgs and thodoxy.

an ignominious death, an unnccessary The passage which we have quoted price to some imaginary power, for above, regarding the atonement, sup- man's redemption. If, on the other plies us with some questions which we hand, a ransom-price was necessary, as think Dr. Channing would have felt it a vindication of the Divine character, im ticable satisfactorily to answer. he would have found it equally difficult Of course, we are quite at one with him to show how a creature, who possesses in believing that the mercy of God to nothing of his own, could have paid wards us was not excited by the media- anything to the Creator. While we tion of Christ, but preceded and ap. cannot see the consistency of Dr Chanpointed it. “God so loved the world, ning's views on this subject, we find that he gave his only begotten Son." no such difficulty with those of Paul. He spared not his own Son, but deli- He writes under the guidance of the vered him up for us all.” The atonement highest reason, as well as the highest of Christ was the fruit of the love of inspiration, when he represents God as God. But when he speaks of “God as setting forth Christ to be a propitiation buying or purchasing us” with “ the through faith in his blood, to declare blood or death of Christ,” we might ask, his righteousness for the remission of sins, From whom does God thus buy or pur- that he might be just, and the justifier of chase us? To whom does God pay this him who believeth in Jesus.” Rom. iii. 25, ransom price for our redemption ? Not 26. Dr. Channing's views on redempcertainly to Sin or to Death, which tion were evidently not identical with

not real, but only imaginary those of the Apostle Paul. beings. Nor would Dr. Channing have We have said that Dr. Channing said that it was paid to Satan. To often reasons rather with his feelings whom then was it paid? We should than with his intellect. We gire the say, that if it were not, in some sense, following passage as a specimen of this. paid to God, it was not paid to any It has reference to Calvinism. Our one. But Dr. Channing seems to deny readers will see that, while he was that there is any sense in which this influenced by a sort of instinctive

are

and my

horror of the system of the great Re- such as it is, from God. If he would former, he evidently did not understand not have said that human nature was it. The passage we now quote must "wholly depraved, propense to all evil, have been written under the influence averse to all good,” he admits, as we of strongly excited feeling:

shall see, what is fairly tantamount to

this. In speaking of spiritual influ“ If I and my beloved frie

ences, he says (p. 332, vol. i.), “There whole race, have come from the hands of our is another class of Christians” (he means Creator wholly depraved, irresistibly pro his own) “who believe that God conpense to all evil, and averse to all good,- if only a portion are chosen to escape from this stantly operates on the human mind, miserable state, and if the rest are to be con

and that without his operation no fruits signed, by the Being who gave us our de- of goodness are produced.” Dr. Chan praved and wretched nature, to endless tor, ning here affirms of our nature, that ments in inextinguishable flames, then I do think that nothing remains but to mourn

without the operation of God on it, it n anguish of heart; - then existence is a would produce no fruits of goodness. curse, and the Creator is

Now, if such a nature be not ' wholly “O my merciful Father! I cannot speak depraved,” we do not know what deof thee in the language which this system would suggest.

No! thou hast been too pravity means. When he affirms that kind to me to deserve this reproach from my no good can come from man without lips." (Vol. i. p. 267.)

the operation on him of God, he is, in

effect, telling us that man is, in himWe need hardly say, that this is not self, hopelessly, incurably depraved. Calvinism, but a caricature of it. That Dr. Channing is here a stiff Calvinist, he could have been capable of writing without being aware of it. Nay, he is such a passage as this, has greatly more terribly Calvinistic, and goes to a lowered our opinion of Dr. Channing's greater extreme on this point, than judgment. It shows to how great an those whose Calvinistic system he is so extent his reason might be swayed by indignantly repudiating. For he does his feelings. Had he given a fair not mend the matter for himself, but view of the sentiments of those who only makes it worse, when he goes on call themselves Calvinists, in their to say, “ Thoy” (he means himself and own language, and then set himself his own school) “ they believe that God calmly to refute them, if he could, this does not in any manner compel men to would have been something to the pur- follow the light and motives which he pose. But, instead of this, we find presents-does not force them to use him, under the influence of strong and the strength which he bestows. It deexcited feeling, drawing a distorted pends on themselves whether they con and exaggerated portraiture of their cur with, or resist bis grace; whether system; and endeavouring thus to ex- they will use, or neglect the powers cite the mind he is addressing to sym- which he gives; whether they will servo pathy with his own. He gives birth to God, or disobey him.” We are not a monster, and calls on us to be horri- aware that those usually called Calvinfied at the sight of it!

ists maintain that God in any way Let us see, however, whether Dr. compels or forces men to follow the Channing does not himself, when in light, or use the strength which he other moods, admit all the fundamental bestows. They believe that when mon points which, in the passage we have comply with the intimations of God's quoted, he assails with such an over- Spirit, they do so most freely. They are flow of indignant emotion.

willing in the day of God's power with He admits, then, we need hardly say, them. But let our readers judgo that man did receive his existence, whether, on Dr. Channing's system,

man's nature is not represented as be As to the future punishment of the ing even more hopelessly depraved, than impenitent, we find him going almost it is on the system generally maintained as far as the system which he repudiby those whom he opposes. Dr. Chan- ates. He merely hesitates to employ ning maintains that God operates on Scripture language with reference to it, the minds of all men, but that many and intimates his impression that possiresist his operation, and perish in their bly it may not be eternal:sin. The view generally maintained amongst ourselves is, that God operates everlasting,' when applied to punishment,

" It is true, as many assert, that the word by his Spirit only on the minds of his does not necessarily mean without end ; and own people—those to whom he becomes that it is often applied to denote limited a reconciled Father, while they become duration ; but still, that there will be a limit his loving and obedient children, Such, reform us, or that there will be bounds to the

to future punishment, that it will operate to then, is our view of human nature ;- consequences of unfortunate guilt, the Scripit is so bad, that, when left to itself, it tures nowhere declare. God's mercy, if it goes wholly wrong, and produces no

shall be extended to the impenitent, is not

yet revealed. The future is filled with awful fruits but those of sin. Dr. Channing, gloom to those who are now living without on the other hand, goes much farther God; and it is but kindness towards them to than we do, inasmuch as he represents encourage no delusive hope. Such a hope human nature, in innumerable in forms no part of my message, for, in my view,

it forms no part of revelation." stances, as going wholly wrong, and producing no fruits but those of sin, We commend this passage to the in spite of God's constant operations on consideration of those who maintain it. We appeal to our readers, then, if, that the Soriptures teach that future on Dr. Channing's own principles, our punishment will not be everlasting. nature is not represented as being even We now take leave of Dr. Channing more desperately depraved than it is on by expressing our regret, that while our principles. We believe that it goes his sympathy with the “orthodox " wrong without spiritual influences, but was sufliciently strong to prevent him that spiritual influences invariably from passing to the extreme of Sobring it right. He believes that it goes cinianism, it was not strong enough to wrong with spiritual influences, and in have drawn him from a system which is spite of them ; and that in the vast at once shallow in its philosophy, inmajority of instances, those influences consistent with itself, and opposed to utterly fail to bring it right. Surely Divine revelation, to one in which he Dr. Channing wrote the above passage would have found inspiration, reason, "understanding neither what he said, and the highest philosophy, harmonor whereof he affirmed.”

niously blended.

ADVANTAGE OF HARMONIZING NATURE AND REVELATION.

Perilous as it is at all times for the there are many who know not how to friends of religion to set themselves reconcile the two in which they have against natural science, it is especially been educated. Meanwhile, studious dangerous in an age like the present. attempts are being made to show that We live in a time when all our educated Christianity cannot stand the light of youth are instructed in the elements of the age we now live in. The impression natural science, as well as in the more lest is very painful, when the mind sacred doctrines of theology. We fear imagines that it discovers a discrepancy

« PreviousContinue »