"1/ thou sayest, Behold we knew it not: doth not He that pondereth the heart, consider it t and He that kecpcth thy soul, doth not He kncnu itt and shall not He render to every man according to his works."—J3ro&. jpib. 12.

§ 1. W have been hitherto occupied with the The past * T consideration ot permanence as a crite- christirion of truth, and the conditions of its applicability ground for to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christianity, we con- in itspertend, is the only religion which has stood its ground, manencewhich has taken part in the general advance of modern civilization as represented by the nations of Europe, the foremost portion of mankind. There is, then, good reason to believe that it must be true, and will prove to be an accompaniment of human progress to the end. The argument thus afforded to its claims to reception is laid on grounds which are common to any religious system. It does not, then, rest principally, or in the first instance, on the contents of the religion as revealed. These, however cogent to the mind of the believer, can have no binding force in relation to an objector. To all who accept the faith of Christ it This argunuist be plain enough, that our holy religion can depUdent lie no passing phase of thought or sentiment in the tfcHkrPar

contents of history of the human race, to be succeeded by gion, others equally ephemeral. If true, it is true for eternity. It has closed the roll and completed the career of the religions of mankind.1 Christ, if He be Christ, is "with His Church always, even unto " the end of the world."2 Incarnation, Redemption, Regeneration, Sanctification, are no catchwords of sect or school. They connote facts touching the destinies of the whole race of man. Nor can Christianity be regarded only as a revelation of doctrine.3 It is far more a Divine work of restoration: in this lies its proper characteristic. "There is one Mediator " (and but one) " between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus."' "This faith was once" (and once for all) "delivered to the Saints."6 "No man may deliver his brother, nor make agreement unto God for him. For it

1 "Le Christianismc a fermiS la carriDre iies religions .... paroe qu'elle est la seule parfaitemeut digne de l'homme, d'oil il suit par une consequence necessairc qu'elle est la plus parfaite et la dernie're des religions." —Saisset, Essais, p. 300.

a Matt, xxviii. 20.

'See some excellent remarks in Dorner, Hist. Prot. Theol., 1.19, E. T.: "To this intellectual tendency towards objective truth, and the delusion it nourished concerning the magical power of pure doctrine as a means ibr the protection and blessing of the whole man, there was united a moral security and religious torpidity which were maintained by the kindred delusion that the knowledge of the truth—even its mere reception as a matter of memory—brings with it the Christian salvation—that sin is essentially only a want of knowledge, or error. Christ is thus reduced to a mere revealer of the true doctrine concerning God and concerning the past and future.''

* 1 Tim. ii. 5.

* Jude 3: Tij ana£ napaSoOfloy rots ayiots niarti.

cost more to redeem their souls :so that he must let that alone for ever."1 As we have seen, there can be no improvements upon the subject-matter of Christianity, no additions to it, no derogations from it. Christianity, whether true or false, speaks for itself: it lays its own claim to be received as the final announcement on the part of Grod to His caleulated

to satisfy

creatures. But in regard to those "who are with- objectors, out," we may still seek to prove that the elements in which the vital forces of all religions consist, are to be found unimpaired and vigorous in the constitution of the faith of Christ.

§ 2. For in some quarters undoubtedly an im- A Prevapression prevails, or at the least is very indus- sumption triously circulated, that Christianity has been tried failure

. ... . . ofChris

and has failed. We live in times when all insti- tianity. tutions, political, social, religious, the cherished heritage of many generations, are seen to be on their trial. Nor is the religion of Christ, the sacred deposit of the whole history of the Church, in its turn exempt. Sometimes its failure is spoken of as evident in practice, sometimes on speculative grounds. The world, it is hinted, sits loose to faith in Christianity, and is beginning to disregard

1 Ps. xlix. 7, 8, with the comment of Delitzsch. On the perpetuity of the Church, as a doctrinal tenet, see Field, Of the Church, I. c. x., Palmer, Treatise on the Church of Christ, I. i. § 2. It was received alike by the Romish and Protestant divines, and is maintained equally by the Confession of Augsburg, the Uclvclic Confession, and the Institutes of Calvin.

it. "Only a fourth part of mankind," it is said, with whatever truth, "are born Christians. The remainder never hear the name of Christ except as a reproach . . . These are facte which no casuistry can explain away."1 Again, "Christianity, according to a well-known saying, has been tried and failed. The religion of Christ remains to be tried . . . Today that failure is too patent."2 Proudhon hardily proclaimed that Christianity will certainly die out in about three hundred years.3 M. Comte, it is well known, argues speculatively that all Theology, as well as Metaphysic, is unreal; for they deal with the origin and the end of things; and of of its tem-these, he thinks, we can know nothing. They chapter, serve, indeed, a preparatory function in affording a temporary stimulus, an artificial basis to intellectual effort. But it is only by laying them aside, and ignoring them, that knowledge has made real progress. Thus Catholicism, i. e. Christianity, the highest, yet the last type of Mono

1 Froude on Calvinism, p. 4. Ho adds, " The Chinese and Japanese, we may almost say every weaker race with whom we have come in contact, connect it only with the forced intrusion of strangers whose behaviour among them has served ill to recommend their creed." Again, Short Studies, Ser. II. p. 98, "We wonder at the failure of Christianity; at the small progress which it has made in comparison with the brilliancy of its rise," &c. This part of the subject will be considered in Lecture VIII. On the numerical division of the human race according to religions, see Prof. Max Miiller, Chips, I. 216. Christianity should probably rank highest in the scale.

a Morley's Critical Miscellunies, pp. 190, 191.

3 See Rogers' Essays, II. 342.

« ElőzőTovább »