« ElőzőTovább »
dispute? Would not every motive of pride and honor on one side the line demand the surrender of slaves as fiercely as it would refuse it disdainfully on the other? Would not the spirit of slavery itself be even more haughty and insolent than before, claiming its victories in open war, and boasting the extorted recognition and homage of the world? Would not a frontier crossed by twenty navigable streams, or lying along those great natural highways, make as certain and almost as vindictive a rivalry between the systems of protection and free trade ? The Southern leaders know full as well as we, that such a boundary would be only a truce and a halt in the “ irrepressible conflict"; and seek it - as we have shown before, by citations from their own speeches — for the leverage it would give them in the task of breaking the North to fragments, — for the sake of having the prestige of a recognized nationality in their schemes to control the continent. A real peace can be had only by retaining the prestige and traditions of that Constitutional Republic which has endured now for more than three quarters of a century; and — since the war, revealing the necessity, has also armed us with the power — by making its policy of freedom universal. Permanent division means anarchy and political dissolution. . Little fear that our nation will consent to that. The real alternative lies between a reconstruction, which crowns the ambitious dreams of the leaders in this rebellion, and makes them masters of the continent, and a reassertion of the national authority and might, in such a way as to crush not only that daring scheme, but the despotic system of society itself out of which it sprang.
It is for this reason, and as sharing this deep conviction, that we hold the true peace policy to be the policy of emancipation. The Administration and Congress are alike committed to it, by every pledge on which their honor can be staked. It is assented to, we believe, by the overwhelming conviction of the people at large. It is the new and zealous creed of thousands whom the perils of the country have drawn to forsake old party ties, and joined to rescue the national life. It is attested as the sure and only way of victory, by increasing numbers of those citizen soldiers who went into the war hotly prejudiced the other way, and is urged by many among the ablest and wisest officers, as a clear military necessity, if the government means and expects to conquer. We believe that facts have shown this policy likely to be the safest and humanest even for the days of peril that are now passing over us, and for that very period of transition which to the thoughtful has always seemed so full of dread. The slave aristocracy must fall, that the nation may survive. In its fall there will doubtless be suffering and terror. So there will be at any rate. That was inevitable when the first blow of open war was struck. But the South will be regenerated; its population, its industries, its civilization, will be renewed. And the nation will be saved. It will be delivered, for the first time, from the one great menace that since the beginning has cast its shade upon our prosperity. It will have won by the sword, and fortified on principles of eternal justice, the sure conditions of its true policy of peace.
We close, in the words of the powerful discourse from which we have already quoted :
“ It is evident, then, that the question between free and servile labor is now in immediate process of decision ; and it can be decided in only one way. If freedom prevails in the present conflict, and slavery is removed, or put into a fair process of removal, the decision is once for all. That false system, once broken, can never revive or return in this age of the world. And then what shall hinder the perpetuity of union and peace throughout all our borders ?
If, on the other hand, the slave system should conquer in this immediate conflict, it can be but for a season. The old issue will be forever presenting itself. The conflict will be renewed from year to year, or from generation to generation, till freedom prevails. The principle of freedom never tires, and never surrenders. When defeated and driven back, it rallies again. It agitates till it succeeds. It has the laws of nature on its side, and the deeper and mightier human instincts on its side, and God Almighty on its side; and its final predominance is only a question of time. This nation has postponed the fearful issue as long as it could, and now against our will it is upon us, and will push us till it is decided, and decided aright. Then, and only then, will there be peace. For myself, I believe that we shall not have even a temporary and precarious peace until it is decided, and decided aright. Predictions are idle, yet I cannot but anticipate that a few months shall bring the end, or at least show us the beginning of the end, and such an end that this whole continent shall be blessed in it, and universal humanity rejoice in it."
Art. VII. – REVIEW OF CURRENT LITERATURE.
THEOLOGY. Sny C-17 WHEN we are called to notice such works as that of Bishop Colenso on the Pentateuch,* we are almost ashamed of our slack conservatism; we find ourselves to be timid and behind the time. Here is a book, written by a prelate of the English Church, which takes very boldly the ground which Rationalists have taken very doubtfully, and leaves far behind all the neological criticism of the “ Essays and Reviews.” The heretics Goodwin and Williams will be amazed to find a peer of the Bishops of Oxford and Salisbury uttering heresy so much more advanced than theirs. Our sturdy American iconoclast, Mr. L. A. Sawyer, has indeed anticipated, in his “ Biblical Reconstructions,” the conclusion of Dr. Colenso's work, and has pronounced the whole Mosaic account to be a tissue of “allegories ” ; but, unfortunately, in his small volume, assertion is more abundant than argument, and there is a total lack of references and authorities. Dr. Davidson in his new work has many startling critical heresies, and suggests more; but these are hidden in a bulky octavo, which, from its size and cost, is inaccessible to the mass of readers. We are wonted to “surprises” in the province of critical and scientific theology, but of all these surprises, this last is the most remarkable:- an English Church Bishop, continuing in his office, with no idea of resigning, and with no apology for his position, yet declaring deliberately that the Mosaic narrative is neither historical nor truthful.
In the Preface to his volume, Dr. Colenso describes the process of his thought, and the reasons which have constrained him to the publication of his views. The tone of this Preface is frank, honest, and manly, full of confidence in the power of truth and the candor of the audience which the writer solicits. It wins respect at the outset and disarms severity of judgment. It is the tone of one who prizes sincerity above all other graces, and not of one who loves to say startling things. There is no triumph in it, but at the same time no reserve or hesitation. As a practical man, a missionary to the heathen, Dr. Colenso holds it to be of the highest importance that all difficulties in the way of preaching the Gospel should be cleared away, so far as they can be without violence to truth; and he has found that intelligent Caffres were keen to see inconsistencies which enlightened sons of Japhet are either unable or unwilling to see. He does not wish that light should become darkness to those that sit in darkness. In all our theological reading we have not met with a piece more touching and more noble than this Preface of the Bishop of Natal.
The volume which Dr. Colenso has issued is only the first part, the first instalment, of what will probably be a work of considerable size.
* The Pentateuch and Book of Joshua critically examined. By the Right Rev. John William COLENSO, D. D., Bishop of Natal. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 12mo. pp. 229.
VOL. LXXIV. - 5TH S. VOL. XII. NO. I.
It does not offer any positive theory of the origin and composition of the Pentateuch, but is wholly critical, and, as some would say,“ destructive.” It simply cites and discusses instances from the several Mosaic books, where the statements, on the face of them, are shown to be incredible and impossible. Most of these instances bave been considered by German critics, and several of them have been alluded to by English critics. As an original discoverer of inconsistencies in the record, Dr. Colenso has no claim to regard ; yet he is singularly skilful in bringing into clear light inconsistencies which might readily escape the notice even of careful readers. His discrimination is very acute, and no fallacy in reasoning escapes him. Especially valuable is his volume in exposing the sophistries of Kurtz, whose honesty of general purpose is limited by the dogmatic necessities of his position, and whose work, in the English dress of the Edinburgh publishers, deceives the reader by its appearance of candor. We should infer, from the range of the authorities which he uses, that Dr. Colenso is not a practised German scholar, and that his acquaintance with German views is mainly through the medium of translations. His principal English witnesses are Kalisch and Thomas Scott, a strangely unequal pair. There seems to be almost a touch of humor in parading the verbiage of old Thomas Scott in a theological work in this year of the nineteenth century.
Of the incredible statements of the Pentateuch which Dr. Colenso discusses we can give only a dry and partial catalogue. He shows that the accounts of the family of Judah, sons and grandsons, are contradictory; that it would be physically impossible for the congregation ever to have got into the court of the tabernacle, at the time of sacrifice; that the story of Moses and Joshua addressing all Israel, six hundred thousand, at once, must be false, since the sound of so many crying children would of itself have drowned their voices; that it was impossible for the Israelites in their flight to have got the material for so many tents, or to carry these with them in their wanderings; that their flocks and herds could never have found in such numbers sustenance in the desert; that the extent of Canaan is wholly incompatible with the account of Israelite numbers; that the number of “first-borns ” would give an average of forty children to every father and mother; that it would be impossible for three priests to have performed the duties required of them; that the war on Midian involves a slaughter and a crime not only morally monstrous, but beyond all physical possibility. These and similar instances seem to Dr. Colenso sufficient to prove that the Pentateuch cannot be literal or authentic history. He leaves aside all the questions of genesis and cosmogony.
The interest attaching to books of the class to which this volume belongs centres for the most part upon the manner in which they are received by those whom they scandalize or frighten. The English Church has become the diseased or infected sheep of the flock. The heresies developed in it are so numerous, so boldly avowed, and so ludicrously or vainly dealt with, that they have for the last three years wellnigh engrossed the attention of all who have time to spare for heresies. The agitation caused by the “Essays and Reviews,” so far from being transient and ineffective, as was predicted, has been steadily strengthening and extending. That volume has compelled proceedings and measures which must be followed up till they lead to radical changes, in the direction either of rigidness or relaxation. While the trials in the ecclesiastical courts are still waiting decision, a prelate of the Church gives forth a volume, the effect of which is to aggravate tenfold not only the apnoyance and scandal caused by heresy in the Establishment, but the perplexity of dealing with it in a legal and practical way.
The Missionary Bishop of Natal goes to London to publish a book which he has written, and the Bishop of Cape Town, knowing the contents of the book, follows up his track to prosecute him for it. What is the book ? We have given its title. As for its subject-matter, that has long been familiar to our more intelligent Sunday-school teachers. Dr. Colenso is a man we should judge eminently adapted to, and devotedly engaged in, bis Christian work in a semi-savage diocese. If it is his duty, and that of clergymen like him, to resign their offices and emoluments in the Church, it is as clearly the duty of those who remain in the Church, and visit their rebukes upon the heretics, to vindicate their own consistency. The question which sagacious and candid men are now considering is, not whether a few professional scholars who have avowed their dissent from the standards of the Church ought at once to leave it, but how and why it is that, with such an exposure as these heretics make of the utterly untenable and fabulous matter wrought into those standards, any class of scholarly, honest, and professedly religious men should have the front still to maintain them. It is no fair answer to this demand, to allege that the majority of the clergy of the English Church still affirm their belief in its formulas and standards. Its honors and emoluments may have sufficient attraction to win to it thousands of ministers willing to subscribe its creeds. But we do not see how, as honest men, they are discharged from the responsibility of vindicating, before the age in which they live, their right to profess a belief in discredited theories and dogmas. The Church to which they belong is of itself just now a greater scandal to the interests of true religion and morality, than is any one of the incidental relations to it of some heretical members. It has come to be understood that, while the Essayists are awaiting judgment, and Dr. Colenso may be soon challenged, the English Church is itself on trial.
In stormy times of revolution, it is the more needful that the still, small voice in which the soul utters its secret aspiration and faith should not be all unheard. “ The Imitation of Christ” was born amidst the throes of the same troubled era that gave birth to the Renaissance and the Reformation; the words of Tauler and the German mystics were especially dear to the heart of the great Reformer; the writings of the Quietists, English and French, are a soft and plaintive strain heard among the rough voices of the period in which Europe was passing from the wars of the Reformation to the great