« ElőzőTovább »
shrine to Melancholy, where last they sat together, and diffuse a conscious gloom through all the house by locking up, as "a chamber of horrors,” the room in which he breathed his last. Small households cannot do this, and wisdom forbids it everywhere. What have Christians to do with the worship of Death that they should dedicate a room to him? Ought they not rather to call to mind the angelic words, “ He is risen, as He said,” and throw open the windows to admit the sun ? “Let there be light” there. Let no dry immortelles answer the touch with a rustle of dead petals; but let the living flowers which he most loved still breathe out their fragrance there, and, though the household may be rarely admitted, let fond reverie sit there often, and be cheered and elevated by studies of immortality.
We would not discourage the moderate indulgence of that sentiment which looks with peculiar interest upon every object of Nature or of art, which husband and wife were never weary of admiring together. They seem now, as it were, points of contact between the two, and sculptured forms, and swelling hills, and grassy slopes, and winding streams, and grand ancestral trees, are something more than material to the gaze of widowhood. The statue of Memnon was not more vocal, nor the oaks of Dodona more oracular; for a spirit lingers gently near them, and the visible is fused in that which is not seen. Utilitarians will deem such musings only fit for “ silly women;" but love is the great reality, and its material emblem, gravitation itself, . exists only to knit the world together as a basis for its everlasting attractions.
What, now, is the general feeling which pervades the mind of a widow long and happily married ? Is it not that she is waiting? Waiting for what? Waiting to be resolved into a formless essence, that she may float after another formless essence long since lost in the Infinite from which it came? Could hell itself invent a more bitter mockery? No ! she leaves such gaseous comfort to “philosophers" unworthy of the ardent heaven she longs for. She is waiting to rejoin her husband, and live with him for ever. That is her hope. That is her life.
What were immortality without separate, conscious, loving forms ? A name, and nothing more. What were heaven without him ? A disappointment and a blank ; but here we come face to face with that theology which once anathematized the true system of the universe, and not with that theology only, but with every form of existing dogmatic thought. The Church stood upon the evidence of the senses when she de nounced Galileo, and declared that the earth stood still, and the moon moved round it; though it was not necessary to call in the aid “ Apostolic Succession to
a fallacy; and there ought to have been among a learned priesthood mathematicians equal to the task of comprehending the elements of Galileo's method, and saving the Church from derision ; but the one was done, and the other left undone, until infallibility was shamed by the consensus of science.
The Scriptures, indeed, are full of expressions which describe the apparent relations of the earth to the sun as though they were
real, and though we now know that they are not literally true, we go on using then. We speak according to the appearance, but we know the truth. Even the famous passage : "Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed” (Joshua x. 12, 13), is but an emphatic form of expressing an appearance. Once admit the difference between the apparent and the real, and all difficulty is at an end; but a harder task than Nature presents lies before us now, and science cannot help us. Our argument all tends to the conclusion that there are marriages in heaven ; but one formidable text appears to deny it point blank. We say appears
, because the purest and most universal of immortal instincts are all on the other side, and the light of life would be quenched in the very eye of Hope, if devoted women could believe it to be absolutely true. The truth is, that if they think of the words at all, it is but as in a dream which disturbs them little. The impression made upon them is superficial and confused, and they wait for the solution of the mystery ; but the conclusion is foregone.
Let us look at the words :
“The same day came to Him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection, and asked Him, saying,
“Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed to his brother.
“ Now, there were with us seven brethren : and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and having no issue, left his wife unto his brother. “ Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh.
And last of all the woman died also. " Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife shall she be of the seven ! for they all had her.
“ Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.
“For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (Matt. xxii. 23-30).
The highest conception of a true marriage is, that the love and the intuitions of the wife so harmonize and blend with the intelligence and the affections of the husband that each is the complement of the other, and they are perfect only when united. That the Jews had no idea of such a marriage is sufficiently proved by the bare existence of the law referred to by the Sadducees. We have not space to quote the full text of that law as contained in Deuteronomy xxv. 5-10, but it should by all means be read, that our argument may be better understood. When read, we cannot help saying, How curious and how repulsive all this is; for it does not appear that it would have been a good "plea in bar” against a widow “pursuant” under this law that the defendant had a wife of his own already; and, though he might refuse to perform the duty thus cast upon him, he could only “stand to it” at the price of lasting infamy, while as to the woman herself it seems that any repugnance on her part was not even supposable. Truly, hardness of heart must have been consummate among such a people ; for, except among the horrors of slavery, we can imagine no condition more degraded ; and yet this was the Jewish idea of marriage, and their law was but the expression of that idea. May we not, therefore, suggest that our Lord's answer to the Sadducees was shaped to suit their idea of marriage, and that an answer literally true would have been unintelligible to them ? Sometimes He forbore to explain His words, and gave the reason why, as in the case of the Pharisees, who said to Him : "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” (Matt. xix. 3-11). His reply authoritatively repealed the law of Moses, which permitted a man "to give her a bill of divorcement, and put her away," and showed that but for the hardness of their hearts that las would never have been "suffered.” It was therefore not the law of true marriage, and He then again promulgated that better law which prevailed “ at the beginning," when “God made them male and female," and after He had blessed them, the man and his wife were “no more twain, but one flesh;" one by a union which only adultery could dissolve. What the Pharisees thought of it is not said ; but even to the disciples this was a hard saying," for they replied, “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry," and our Lord's reply is very instructive. “ All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.” He did not explain the nature of that true union which made man and wife indissolubly one, because they could not “receive” it; and we may allowably suppose that for the same reason He did not explain how they would hereafter become " as the angels of God in heaven.” He did not explain the condition of the angels, but one thing is certain ; the distinction of sex, with all its distinguishing characteristics, bodily and mental, is eternal, or else no identity survives the grave; but such marriages as the Sadducees thought of cannot exist in heaven, because the better law prevails unviolated there. If then God has truly joined man and wife together, and they have become more intimately one with the lapse of life on earth, what shall divide them in heaven? It would seem to require a miracle to put them asunder. What consolation in life can equal this firm conviction? It is needless to urge the bereaved to cling to it, because every holy instinct fills it with certainty, and instinct itself is evidence. The lower creatures follow theirs with wonderful sagacity, and are safe as if under the guidance of Truth, and shall man, who has so little corporal instinct, be void also of instincts suiting his immortal nature ? Why, even spurious love, “First and passionate love," when impure, has in it for a while a sentiment of eternity, and is only not eternal, because it is selfish and cannot endure even the cares and troubles of this little life ; but true love is unselfish, and endures all things even unto death. Íts instinctive perpetuity begins with a triumph over Time, and its endurance claims, and shall obtain the promised “crown of (everlasting) life.” Well then may the devoted widow say with tender thoughtfulness : “And now, Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in Thee ” (Ps. xxxix. 7), to give to me according to my love. Prescient of the coming bliss, she has ceased to reason as though it could be doubted. She knows that everywhere in Scripture widowhood is spoken of as a dreary sorrow. How then can heaven be full of it? The kingdom of heaven is likened to a marriage, and shall there be no marriage there? The glorious Church of the future is expressly called “The bride, the Lamb's wife;" and when the Holy Spirit would describe the beauty and august purities of the New Jerusalem, the Holy City is said to be “ prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."
Having then “so great a cloud of witnesses” (Heb. xii. 1), no mourning one can doubt that He who loves us with unspeakable tenderness will not take away her chiefest joy for ever. She lives in full assurance that He will restore it with a blessing, and fulfil, in a holy and never-ending union, the triumphant promise :
“Everlasting joy shall be upon their head ; they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away” (Is. lv. 11).
J. W. HANCOCK. LIVERPOOL
“CONVERSION,” HOW AND WHEN EFFECTED. Having, in our last, endeavoured to describe the mental process gone through by those who—to use the technical phraseology of the religionists of the day-have been brought under conviction of sin, and have subsequently received the instantaneous assurance of pardon and justification by faith in the all-sufficient merits of a crucified Saviour,in the production or exercise of which faith they had not the slightest part; having, also, made every allowance that Charity bade us make, in view of the doctrine of Remains in connexion with this subject ;let us now proceed seriously to inquire whether the facts which have recently transpired in this metropolis, and which all involve the abovementioned process, afford any countenance to the hypothetical surmise fondly indulged by some of our friends, namely, that, more particularly as regards the doctrine of life, the Old Church teachings of the present day are approximating to those of the New Church, and that the Athanasian doctrine of the Trinity will sooner or later be quietly eliminated from those teachings ;-or rather, whether the “doctrine of the Nicolaitanes,” which the Lord repeatedly denounces as being hateful to Himself, is not at the present moment riding roughshod over the expiring Church, and hastening on its final consummation : thus whether, so far from approximating to those of the New Church, the Old Church teachings of the present day are not, on the contrary, rapidly receding from them until, in accordance with Divine prediction, the Dragon's tail will draw “the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth.”
First, then, we observe, that the modern theory of conversion and regeneration, the practical application of which has of late been so extensively witnessed in this metropolis, requires for its support the Athanasian doctrine of the Trinity in its widest significance, stripped of all those metaphysical subtleties by which its advocates attempt at other times to force it into harmony with that of the Divine Unity. That cardinal doctrine of the Scriptures is, by the theory now under consideration, practically ignored, nay, it is, so to speak, ignominiously thrust into a corner, to make room for the monstrosity of three Divine Beings, two of them of diametrically opposite natures; one of these two imputing to the other, “the Son of His love,” the guilt of deeds of darkness in the perpetration of which He had had “neither part nor lot," and punishing Him for those deeds with all the severity—fierceness
, shall we say ?of“ infinite wrath,” in the room of the real perpetrators! Then, according to this theory, he, in whom “the faith” that all this was done to save him, is infused by God the Holy Ghost-the third of the Divine Beings above mentioned—is at once “ freely justified ”-not, be it observed, made just, but accounted just-before God by this faith infused into him, without the slightest co-operation on his part, although the instant before he was the object of the wrath of God, and in danger of the God-inflicted torments of "everlasting fire !” But now, at such an hour and minute by the clock, God imputes to him the all-perfect righteousness of His Son, and from “a child of wrath” he instantaneously becomes “a child of grace."
Thus is the great Scripture doctrine of the Divine Unity uncersmoniously thrust aside by this theory of personal salvation, and that of three Divine Beings as unceremoniously forced into prominence in its stead. If, therefore, the doctrine thus substituted has no foundation in Scripture, all who have based their hopes of salvation on the above theory are evidently labouring under a delusion which will, if they are sincere, seriously impede their future progress in the regenerate life, but which will eventually prove fatal to their salvation if they have resorted to that theory in their own individual case, as to an easy and otiose method of deliverance from the consequences of sins previously indulged in.
Next we would observe, that the theory in question makes no account whatever of the individual's previous life. He may, for ought the advocates of that theory know or care, have all along been living in the conscientious discharge of his domestic, social, public, and, to the best of his knowledge, religious duties, caring little, perhaps, about the theological subtleties that amuse the generality of religionists in the present day, but content with reverent belief in God as his Maker and Preserver, together with an obscure, but a thankful
, remembrance of Christ his Saviour, and ever bearing distinctly in mind that Saviour's injunction :-“If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Or he may have been living in habitual and open defiance of all Divine and human laws. Malice, hatred, and all uncharitableness, covetousness, lasciviousnes, together with a frightful catalogue of concomitant evils, may have marked the whole of his previous career. Or again, with a fair outside, he may have been doing his works “to be seen of men,” and hypocrisy and deceit may thus have marked his every step. ... No matter. In the first case, his conscientious avoidance of wrong, and his steady adherence to right, will, according to the above theory, avail him nothing in the day of judgment; nor, in the other two cases, with all his deeds of