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Rctrogres- apparent retrogression may be designed to act but. diary to as goads to discipline the faith which bopes and
works unshaken to the end. And certainly the new consciousness now dawning on mankind of spaces of duration, hitherto beyond conception, yet now falling into their rank and place in the scheme of evolution of human existence, may teach us to be wary of hastily determining the future of Christianity and of our race by any previous limits of anticipation. It has probably been one cause of the slowness of the spread of the Gospel, now, happily, very generally felt, where over-hasty misProgress gionary efforts have neglected all consideration of
in know- _ » 0
ledge win previous stages of development, intellectual and missionary moral; and have introduced races hardly reclaimed
success. -I 1 • 1
from savagery to theological controversies, or the acceptance of religious practices, which represent the thought of centuries. But the issue of the work of Evangelization can never be doubtful so long as we reflect upon the characteristics of the truths which Christianity reveals to mankind, and Argument their position in the history of our race. In this progress respect we may, without undue assumption, appeal mate per- to the internal evidence of truth furnished by the of^hris^ character of its doctrines; their universality,1 their
1 "There is nothing which to any reflecting mind is more signal a proof of the Bible being really the guiding book of the world's history than its anticipations, predictions, insight into the wants of men far beyond the age in which it was written. That modern element which we find in it—so like our own times, so unlike the ancient framework of its natural form—that Gentile, European turn of thought, so adaptation to the nature which it is their aim to regenerate; their very presumption of finality in the promises which they hold out to assure the spirit of man. Other religions have been local, from the temporary, limited, fitted for definite stages of tan characculture, partial in their hold upon particular doctrines, truths, in accord with the spiritual standing, so to speak, only of the people or race. They have accordingly developed tribes and nations to a fixed line and point of progress, and then their course seems stayed.1 They have no further message to the soul of man; no onward mission to evoke his Divine capacities, or renew his fallen nature. But which find
i~.i-.-i j their fulfil
(Jhnstianity has not only, in its history, shown mem in itself adequate to all the circumstances of its de- lopment
unlike the Asiatic language and scenery which was its cradle—the race,
1 "History shows in many ways that Mahometanism has its root only in the past. There is no growth in the faith; no power of adapting itself to the new ages. Mahomet as he was rules Mahometans as they are. His word was petrified and crystallized in Mecca, and can assimilate no new truth. But the history of the Christian Church is a history of constant growth in spite of sacerdotal resistance; and I believe that the upward course of that growth has ever been the communion with a living Christ."—Hutton, Essays, L 277.
velopment; its definite announcements permit a judgment on its genius and character as a Religion framed for permanence and finality.1 If true, it proclaims a scheme for the redemption and improvement of mankind, which is unique, complete, its tenets and incapable of repetition. Its overtures to the to the individual soul, limited to no race, or caste, or convic- class, or set of faculties, extend from its entrance civiliza- into life to the hour of departure; are adapted to its "real wants and failings;2 and provide for that
immortality which strikes an answering chord in the heart of every man. Its type of moral perfection, correspondent to the actual phenomena of human nature, is laid in the union of opposed yet not discordant virtues, of impulsive affections and controlled passions, of self-sacrifice identical with the truest self-love, and terminating in the restoration of real self-respect. ** He who saves his life
1 Compare H. J. Bose, Prot. in Germany, pp. 191,192. * On these topics see Miller's Bampton Lect. on the Adaptation of Holy Scripture to the real state of Human Nature; more particularly Lectures iv. and vii. "There never was any religion as that of Christ; so congenial to our highest instincts; so persuasive, so ennobling, so universally acceptable to rich and poor; so worthy of the intellect, so consistent and uncompromising in its rules for advancing moral excellence. Men could not, would not turn from it if it was properly brought home to them; if it was not tendered to them with some admixture of earth about it, exciting their suspicions and robbing it of its heavenly fragrance."— Ffoulkes, Div. of Christendom, p. xiv. "Many, I think, are agreed, that after all the most striking evidence for the Divine origin of our faith lies in the patent fact of its existence; of its growth and diffusion; its proved superiority to all other forms of spiritual thought; its proved adaptation to all the spiritual want* of man."—Merivale, Ltctt., p. 6; and Northern Nations, p. 28.
shall lose it: but whosoever shall lose his life for Jesus' sake and the Gospel, the same shall save it."1 The term of man's moral progression is by its means indefinitely extended, and rises into a and to the new and nobler sphere than that of ordinary ethics, needs of It alone assuages the sorrows of existence, (from nature as which ere now philosophy has taken refuge in developed. suicide),3 hallows and explains the mystery of suffering, and takes away the sting of dissolution. Its revelations, while confessedly beyond intellectual comprehension, are guaranteed by their correspondence with the spiritual intuitions of our race; being acknowledged alike by the richest culture and by the lowest barbarism. Man's wants and weaknesses, his hopes and desires, his powers and aspirations, his personal and social capabilities, are together forestalled. Thus the doctrines of Christianity, uniting the human and Divine, make the only adequate provision for the claims of the human spirit in its sense of sinfulness and need of reconciliation, in its yearning after Divine com- Scriptural
provision for the
1 Mark viii. 35. Christianity is plainly in accord with that higher ^j"^1 of aspect of Utilitarian Morality which teaches that a man is bound to live mankind in harmony with the order of the universe, and contribute his part to
the common good. Again, each soul of man is " one for whom Christ died" (Rom. xiv. 15). "Magnum opus Dei es, Homo," says Ambrose, Berm. x. in Ps. 118, § 11.
2 See Archer Butler, Lect. on Ancient Phil., I. 443,459; (it was practised by Zeno and Cleanthes, the Stoics;) and Mr. Leeky, H. E. M., II. 46, for the history of Christian influence on this point Buckle, Eitt. Civ., I. 26, remarks on the fruitlessness of legislation to stay this evil.
munion.1 For, by the gift of the Holy Ghost, assured through ordained means of reception, man's spirit is associated with his Maker and Redeemer, and life in time with life in eternity. Thus the Ideal merges in the Actual, the Visible in « per- the Unseen, and Earth in Heaven. Raised above an
system, atmosphere of chill Materialism, the Christian walks and lives in a world where things are no longer what they seem; but glow with a new light, and are suffused with a deeper significance.
Largior hie campos sethcr et lumine vestit
A door is opened in Heaven; and he hears the
decay of , ,. . .
the power bidden to believe, that it is fraught with the fate of lence of bygone superstitions, stricken with palsy, hastenpel ing to decay. Although day by day it gives evidence of the living fruits of faith, and zeal, and charity, of a benevolence well-nigh boundless, of a sympathy universal as our race.2 Surely the love which has done so much for man, is no unreal
1 "The Gospel, as mere historical truth, would be something past and dead, like a mere doctrinal system of eternal truths, without life and reference to the living person. It is the nature of the Gospel that it is truly known and apprehended only when the historical Christ is at the same time embraced as the present, as well as the eternally abiding, and therefore also future Christ; as still livingly active to-day, and pointing forward into the depths of an eternity whose vital energies repose in Him."—Dorner, Hist. Prot. Th., I. 232.
a See Mr. Locky's eloquent testimony, Hist. Bat., I. 204, 205; and compare Lange, Oesch. del Materialismus, p. 556.