Imatges de pÓgina


sary. But when we examine other men- glance. For this is to appropriate to one's a much easier thing to do—we judge a self all the faculty and power which He posman's faith by his actions. Does he lodge sesses. In His office of Priest and Medimoney with Bullion the banker? He has ator, He first puts the soul on a right founevidently faith in him. Does he sell goods dation with the Divine Judge. Then, whaton credit to Smith the storekeeper? He ever of spiritual influence is required to reundoubtedly trusts him. The practical test animate a dead spiritual faculty and form a of faith, no matter whether its sphere is new man of pure and noble purpose—that secular or spiritual, is always action. In also is found in Him. “ Virtue" flows from secular life, as in spiritual, faith without Him. “The light is the light of men.” And works is dead ; that is, it is not. The thing this operates rationally and philosophically. supposed to be faith is a mere pretence, and The influence that Socrates exerted over Alsensible men would laugh at the assertion cibiades and Xenophon in his own measure, of its reality. The ground of faith in men that influence does the Lord Jesus Christ (which is an entirely distinct mental opera- exert over them that trust in Him in His tion from belief in records) is generally tes

The difference is less of kind timony confirmed by experience. I want a than of degree. Christianity is culture in physician. My friend A. recommends B., itself, and it proceeds to build up the edistating that he has found him skilful and at fice of a true and noble character by assitentive. His testimony is the first, but it is milation to a perfect model. "We behold only a slight element of faith. If I make the as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, and are trial, and find from experience that B. is a changed into the same image from glory to veritable healer, and no sham, my faith assu- glory by the Spirit of the Lord.” The mes a very positive and definite shape. I "edification” of the New Testament is the have confidence in him; and this faith is my building up, on Christ the foundation, of a salvation, so far as this life is concerned. For character in which everything that is virtuall disease has in it the seed and potency of ous, honourable, and of good report, is manideath. In this business of life-saving, there fested. The Christian man, possessing first is a double operation. There is, first

, the this certain and all-powerful principle of skill of the physician, the fruit of long ac- faith, adds to it the generic quality of cumulations of observation and study—a goodness, then knowledge, then self-govwealth-fund of experience. But to make ernment, then patience, then right worthis available for me, there needs on my ship of the Deity, then love to the brethren part such an amount of confidence as will in particular, and finally love in general.* If result in placing myself entirely in his hands, this is not a true soul-culture, the thing does renouncing my own opinions. For a physi- not exist. It has adequate reasons, and procian can bear no mixture of operations. If ceeds by adequate methods. And, thus promy life is to be saved, there must be an ceeding, many have come to know with entire abandonment of any method except | Tennysonthe physician's. No benefit can come without self-renunciation. I must die to self That men may rise on stepping stones and live through my physician, or I cannot

Of their dead selves to higher things.” be saved. In Christianity, or, to speak more defi

In this culture, knowledge plays an essennitely, in Christianity as revealed in the New tial part. Ignorance is not the mother of Testament, this principle of confidence is Christian devotion ; it is the mother of made the foundation on which the whole superstition only. Lies and imposture will superstructure of the Christian life rests. flourish in its rank soil, but not such truth The “faith” of the New Testament is the as was taught by Christ and His apostles, putting of the soul entirely into the hands and is taught by those who hold fast of the Divine Physician, and He, like the by their teaching now. This truth is emphysician in the secular sphere,' demands bodied in a series of writings which are now the renunciation of self, and the surrender gathered, as a whole, into the book called of the soul to Him in order to salvation. the New Testament. These writings may The enormous potency of an entire cast

be studied by men of culture in the form in ing of the soul upon Him is apparent at a * II Peter, i, 5, 6, 7.

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which they were originally written ; and it times when the soul has rested in it most
may be fairly claimed that men of culture confidently, and followed it most implicitly,
shall so study them before criticising them. there has been most light, and virtue, and
Such study would require careful attention, fruit.
and careful attention would undoubtedly The question of Miracles is simply a ques-
save them occasionally from palpable mis- tion of a personal and conscious power, ope-
takes.* Certain it is that those who have rating for an adequate reason. That there
studied it most constantly, and have most is Force is indisputable. That this force, in
thoroughly wrought it into the fabric of their its ultimate form, is one, and stable, and
life, have most confidence in it. It was homogeneous, is a conclusion reached by
said by the Great Teacher, that if any man the profoundest thinkers of the advanced
would do the will of God, he should know of school of to-day.* If this stable and homo-
the doctrine whether it is divine or human. geneous force is conscious, then it is com-
And in matters of morals and conduct, petent to produce the results we call
this is the only method that yields results miracles. One of these thinkers,t repudiat-
worth noting. To a certain extent all ing the Scriptures as a revelation, has never-
practical science rests on the same princi- theless reached the conclusion that the
ple. So does all legislation. But it is cer- power of the Universe is “a power, not
tain that those who have put Christianity, ourselves, which makes for righteousness.”
as revealed in the New Testament, to a Here is a conscious personality operating
practical test, are so fully satisfied that for an end which none but such a person-
they would rather part with life than with ality could appreciate. Now, whether this
it. Years of experiment, in all the conclusion is true or false, it is certainly im-
varying circumstances of life, only confirm possible to prove it not true. Any negative
their faith. They may doubt when young. is difficult of proof; but of all negatives this
To pass through a process of intellectual is the most impossible if such an expression

doubt is a common experience amongst may be allowed), to prove that the power
young men, even while holding to Chris- of the Universe is not conscious. In the
tianity as a practical rule. But it is almost face of a vast amount of positive evidence
invariably the case that, with increasing ex. in the affirmative, to prove absolutely and
perience of life, enlarged knowledge of men scientifically that consciousness is not one of
and things, and a wider acquaintance with the modes of the ultimate force of the Uni-
the world and themselves, the things which verse, implies a knowledge far beyond that
once perplexed their reason and staggered of any human intellect. The intellect that
their faith are seen to be parts of a great knows enough to prove that, is an intellect
harmonious whole, instinct with the deep to be worshipped. But if the conscious
est and truest wisdom. The universal re- personality of the power of the Universe
gret amongst Christians (here one may ap- cannot be disproved, then miracles per se
peal to knowledge) is, that they have not cannot be disproved. And the rationale of
more fully and unreservedly, followed it. Biblical miracles is this—that they are
And the universal testimony is, that in those the working of the conscious power of the

* For example, in an article in the Canadian Universe for an adequate reason. The Being MONTHLY, the parable of the Unjust Steward was

--the mysterious I AM-whose essence is referred to as showing an approval by the Saviour represented as unknowable, but whose reof roguery and chicanery. À man of literary cul- lations are revealed, is represented as ture, reading the parable, even in English, would scarcely fall into the mistake of confounding the distinction between this and the doings of

Power working for righteousness." And the “lord” referred to in the 8th verse with the narrator himself, the Lord Jesus Christ. Certainly, if he Jupiter or the gods of Olympus is that the read carefully, and as a literary man, he would see latter are not so represented. It is not prethat it is the lord or master of the steward that

tended that they work for righteousness. commended him, not the Lord Jesus. In modern language he would have said, “ Although the rascal They are magnified men, and, truth to say, has cheated me, I cannot but commend his fore they are such men as we should be sorry to thought.” To represent the parable as indicating approval of roguery by the Lord Jesus Christ, is å

* Herbert Spencer. “First Principles,” chap. violent straining of its language. One may add, xiii, $ 115. also, with much sadness, that it indicates a bias that + Matthew Arnold. is painful to witness.

# Job c. xi., 7, 8.




admit into our homes. Certainly we do not witnesses who were on the spot at the time want incarnations of Jupiter or Venus in our have testified that these things did not come drawing-rooms, or of Mercury and Bacchus under their observation. And alleged disin our counting houses. We get them, un- proof by the second is most incomplete. It fortunately, at times ; but they are our grief. mainly rests on the supposed absolute uniBut the miracles of the Scriptures are for formity of nature. But the absolute unirighteousness. Retribution for wrong-doing, formity of nature cannot be proved scienthe carrying on of a purpose of planting and tifically. A high degree of probability is all establishing a people who should be ruled that can be attained. The argument is as on righteous principles; the healing of the fatally defective as the proposed defence in sorrows and wounds of humanity,—these an assault case; against the testimony are the purposes of the great works that are of the one who had seen the represented to have been wrought by the deed done, the defendant said he could “Power.” The rationale of every event is bring five hundred who would swear that not always clear, but the purpose is plainly they had not. And the ordinary uniformity revealed. And these miracles were not a of the operations of what we call nature is setting aside of the laws of nature, for the not impugned by the Scriptures. This univery essence of the sign, or marvellous work, formity is strongly asserted and fully illusis that the properties of matter meanwhile trated in Scripture itself. But the word remain unchanged. Else there would have uniformity, as used by sceptical reasoners in been no wonder at all.

this connection, is a misnomer. What is An alleged historical event may be dis- really meant, if we analyze the thought, is proved by the testimony of credible men, the blindness, or deadness, or absence of a having no interest in the denial, who conscious will, from nature. This certainly were on the spot at the time and saw cannot be scientifically proved. As to the nothing of it. Or it may be disproved narrative of the flood, if reasoners would pass by the demonstration of its impossibility. by mere human comments, (and commentaThe latter kind of disproof, however, can- tors are sometimes mere learned fools) and not be satisfactory without being abso- go to the word itself, they would find both lute. The reasoning must be strict and adequate power and adequate reason. And mathematical to be conclusive. As to dis- the impossibility of specimens of all the proof on the ground of improbability, this is species of animated nature being housed an extremely unreliable method. History within the ark, can only be proved when it is full of improbable events. Our own times can be demonstrated that genera and species have been fruitful—on both sides of the were as numerous four thousand years ago Atlantic-in events that were antecedently as they are now. No man who has any improbable in a very high degree. It is scientific knowledge, and is aware of the always (says a French proverb) the unex- difficulty that besets the question of genera pected that happens. No one can read and species, will assert that this can be Whately's book on the non-existence of proved. The whole human race are repreNapoleon without a conviction that no argu- sented as being at that early age confined to ment from improbability can lie against the valleys of the Euphrates and Tigris ; Scripture history.

and certain it is that all our knowledge (using Now, of the two methods of disproof, we the word advisedly) of the races that now have no record of any Scripture miracle people the earth leads us finally up to that being disproved by the first. No credible region as the centre of dispersion. That

region was the whole inhabited world of the $ It is extremely unsafe to infer that events of a time, and there is nothing in the narrative religious character did not happen, because ordinary to contradict the supposition that only that historians make no reference to them. The preach region was submerged. A depression of the ing of Moody and Sankey in London, last year, made some little commotion, and one would have country between the Persian Gulf, and the thought it an event to leave an impression even in a Black and Caspian Seas, combined with secular chronicle ; but the summary of events for continuous rain, would account for all 1875, in the London Times, elaborate as it was, that is described. The waters of these made not the shadow of a reference to it. How easy, a century hence, to infer that it was a mere

seas would unite. The land would gradumyth !

ally disappear, and even the top of Ararat

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would be no more seen. The description of might be inclined to doubt, therefore, that the the phenomena is that “the fountains of the lessons deducible from Bible miracles were great deep"--evidently the sea---were “brok- appreciably affecting the lives of thousands en up,” and “the windows of heaven were of people now living. But no one who has opened.” On the supposition of a conscious mixed much in the religious world could Power working for righteousness, we have all doubt it for a moment. the forces requisite for the production of And this leads on to another branch of these phenomena, and an adequate reason thought. The longer a man lives, the more for their exercise. * As to the difficulty of thoroughly does he appreciate the saying, getting the animals into the ark, considering that one-half the world does not know how the impossibility of proving the absence of the other half lives. And this saying may adequate power to impel them, we may re- be expanded into the realm of thought, for member that it is also impossible to prove certainly, as we live longer and acquire a that their numbers rendered it impossible. wider range of observation, we see how true The same reasoning will apply to the falling it is that one-half the world does know what of the walls of Jericho. It is not disproved the other half thinks. And if we are ready by the testimony of men who were there at to learn by experience, we come to be more the time, and it cannot be proved impossi. careful of assertions about men and things of ble. An inaccurate reader of the narra- whom we have not the knowledge which tive has stated that the Scriptures represent comes by actual contact. Writers will someRahab as escaping, notwithstanding she was times talk incautiously of “the world's opiin her home on the wall at the time. Closer nion," or the “sentiment of the age,” or the attention would have prevented this mistake. influence of “modern thought," imagining, The narrative states that Joshua had sent honestly enough, no doubt, that the circle of forth the woman, and got her

men and books in which they revolve comThere is this finally to be said. The mir- prises all of “the world” or "" the age,” or acles of Scripture are fruitful in the highest of “modern culture” that is worth caring for. instruction. The narratives themselves have But as experience and observation are enbeen proved, and are now being proved, to larged, they usually become more and more work for righteousness

. There are eternal chary of committing themselves to assertions principles underlying them, and vast numbers respecting “the age," or "the world,” or of persons now living can testify that their

“the universal sentiments of mankind." For lives have been consciously influenced for travel as we will, we only live and think in a good by lessons drawn from these events. little world of our own, after all. It is only The writers of the Fortnightly and the West- a very few things that any man really underminster probably do not know this; and very stands. Even such a fearful book-devourer naturally; for these things take place in a as John Stuart Mill only digested a few society in which they never mix. Their world things out of the enormous masses he read, is another sphere altogether. As one of them and there were whole realms of life, which selves wrote some years ago :* "These things cannot be got at by reading books, of which cannot be surely deduced, as is too often it is evident he knew nothing. In Herbert fancied, from certain fixed rules and princi. Spencer's great work, where he lays down with ples which may be learned a priori; they so broad and firm a hand the principles of depend in a great measure on observation and his new philosophy, there is a chapter on experience, on knowledge of the world, and religion. Nothing can be more marked than of the characters that move and act there.” the difference between this chapter and those Now, the men of this school do not and in which he treats of Force, Space, Time, cannot live in the religious world; for which and Evolution. In these he treads with the reason, to quote further from the same au- step of a giant ; in the other he is feeble, thor,“ whole spheres of observation, whole commonplace, and most inexact. There is branches of character and conduct, are al- scarcely a page in which one who has made most inevitably closed” to them. They religion a special study in its complicated

developments, would not have to mark senThe above, of course, is simply a suggestion of tence after sentence with “not true" or what is possible, amidst other possibilities.

not proven.” The reason for the difference Greg, “Literary and Social Judgments.” is evident enough. Nothing is more common

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than for literary men of eminence-even such less observation and experience wholly deas the famous old philosopher of Chelsea-ceive them, that development of it which is to be marvellously ignorant of the life of the represented, say by Moody and Sankey, is world at their very doors, while they take a proving itself 'the power of God' to the most perfect grasp of the life of past centu- salvation of multitudes. The agencies at ries. Carlyle was wonderfully appreciative work in London alone have lifted up many of the Puritan life of Cromwell's days, and thousands of men and lads from rags and put a very broad seal of approval on it. Yet misery to cleanliness, industry, and intellithis is a life which has now, and has long had, gence, during the last twenty years. These in its essential principles, thousands of coun- are the invariable concomitants of earnest terparts in the men and women of his own Christianity, as many observers know it. city. He declared, however, that this life in speaking thus, the observer might be was dead in these modern days, and mourned thought somewhat enthusiastic. But he is, over the fact. In this he spoke according to at any rate, speaking of the world in which his light. Of the religious life of the London he lives. He may be presumed, therefore, of this day, he is, to adopt a mild word, sin- to understand it. And if, out of many obgularly unappreciative. If one were to use servers, one such, of mature years, were a phraseology as vigorous as his own, we asked whether religion—that is, the Christian should have to say, blindly ignorant. religion—is more of a dominant force now

Men of a certain literary school are fond than formerly, say forty or fifty years ago, or of saying that “the age is becoming in- whether its influence is on the wane, he creasingly sceptical, Scepticism, it is said, would certainly reply that religion appeared prevails in all literary circles, and has pene- to be enormously more influential now than trated even to the august purlieus of the in his younger days. The extent of the peerage. Even a Duke has written a book awakening of the dormant force of religious in disparagement of Christianity. Men in life in the Church of England alone has these days do not hesitate to avow their un- been incalculable, and not in one school of belief. Religious ideas are becoming in- thought only, but in all. Religious thought, creasingly weak in their hold upon the best culture, and life within the Establishment in minds of the day, and the time is apparently England is inconceivably more potent at approaching fast, when none but very young the present day than it was thirty or forty men and old women will cling to the Bible years ago. An observer might fairly askas a divine revelation, or to Christianity as When were there so many men and women a supernatural system. Yet, along with all in the highest walks of life taking an active this, we find numbers of men, not at all de part in church life and church work as ficient in power of vision or range of obser- now? When were so many peers of the vation, to whom this present working world realm known as earnest Christians? And is an age of extraordinary religious force, certainly these men are no simpletons. both of belief and action. The world, as The Duke of Argyll is unquestionably they see it, is becoming filled with religious on as high an intellectual level as the books. No mortal man could read a quarter Duke of Manchester. Mr. Gladstone's or a tenth part of the ever-advancing multi-culture might be put beside that of Mr. tude. They pour from the press in England, Frederick Harrison, and not suffer much Germany, and the United States in an in- by the comparison. If scepticism is bold, creasing stream, and constitute a whole religion is certainly very bold too. It literature in themselves. Yet the immense manifests itself in a thousand ways entirely majority of them are avowedly mere satel- unknown in former days. It was never lites revolving round the great central sun, more bold, more daring, more self-sacThe Book, which is in itself a religious mi- rificing (especially among those who work crocosm. To read even the Christian apart from the ordinary spheres of the periodical literature of the day would far more than occupy the time of any one man. * This awakening is not confined to the EstabReligion--that is, the Christian religion, in lishment or to England. The very fact of such a its many developments, more or less true cultured community as Edinburgh being so moved and pure-seems to them the grand force by Moody and Sankey proves the existence of an

extraordinary amount of religious susceptibility, and chief factor of modern life. And un- | along with such culture.


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