Imatges de pÓgina
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the divine administration over the humanity with which God has crowned this world system, now sinning, guilty, wretched, and needing pity and direction. The generic naturalistic revelation is not withdrawn, but it is inadequate. The mere energies and uniformities of natural law furnish neither the information nor the spiritual forces for the soteriological need. Beyond the creational, natural provision and directions, a supernatural order of grace and training necessarily comes in, if God's aim of love for the race, made in His image, is not wholly to fail. The redemptive administration, the redemptive teaching, and the redemptive powers are necessarily in excess of the simple movement and revelation of the natural constitution, and they come in with, as they belong to, the providential governmental goodness and grace of God.

The whole question of supernaturalism in Christianity, agitated these late years with so much hostile endeavor, can be rightly understood and determined only by reinembering these fundamental facts and principles. The distinction between the divine activity disclosing itself in the cosmic creation, including the human constitution, and the divine activity in the moral administration over the world of humanity must be kept clear. The distinction itself is real and indubitable. The first, the origination of the world with its established uniformities under physical law, is prior and conditional for the second. The second follows, and concerns the government of the intelligent, free and responsible beings for whose life the physical world has been created. The forces and movement established by creation are natural -even in respect to spiritual endowments. The principles and order of the government are moral, and therefore require, as is selfevident, that the administration be

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in the undiminished divine freedom that answers to the contingent needs which arise in humanity's use or abuse of its given freedom. The moral disorder, sin, coming by the abuse of this freedom, and crossing the divine aim for man's welfare and destiny, called for light and relief which were not in nature itself, but possible of supply through redemptive or soteriological goodness. God is as free for soteriological as for creational activity—for adding a supernatural administration with its spiritual forces and laws as for creating the natural system with its uniformities. The moral administration is by essential conception, forever free-God's freedom acting in relation to man's abuse of freedom. Beyond all question, Christianity presents itself as belonging to, as well as expressing, the grand aim and central principle of this providential moral administration of the world's movement. Without doubt, too, is it constituted to a soteriological design, a design beyond that disclosed in natural revelation or provided for already in natural, physical order or mere human knowledge and strength. Equally beyond doubt is it, moreover, that the records of Christianity present God as, in His providential activity, after the world's creation and human sin, giving a gracious promise of pardoning mercy and redemptive help, establishing a dispensation of arrested judgment with respect to sinful humanity; or perhaps we should rather say, a dispensation of stay and check on the forces of evil in life, instituting actual relations of reconciliation, acceptance, and fellowship between Himself and men, accompanied with clear and wonderful proclamation of the laws of human duty and holy life and no less wonderful prophetic teaching of spiritual truth and fore-announcements of the kingdom of God on earth-altogether a

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unique dispensation moving continuously on through centuries to the “fullness of time " when, in the incarnation and work of the divine Son, the redemptory and saving provision was completed for all the ages. Unless the entire Scripture record is utterly false, this aggregate movement, in its characteristic trend and multiform particulars, reveals God as ruling over human affairs in attributes of character and methods of goodness, and with transcendent aims for human destiny, of which simply cosmic processes and nature's revealings have no voice. The movement, though based on nature, is in excess of mere nature's provision. It forms a supernatural self-manifestation of God, a manifestation whose aim is not creational, except in the moral relation of a Taleyyeveo la, “regeneration."

The supposed strife between nature and the supernatural comes from misconception of one or the other or of both, and of their relations to each other. When correctly viewed, the strife disappears. The natural constitution of things is divinely and permanently adjusted in its existence and evolution, under the uniformities of cause and effect, as the theatre on which humanity is to live its high life of freedom and responsibility. No supernatural or special divine power need ever be invoked for the sake of mere physical nature. But the very creation and establishment of the nature-constitution, under uniform law, leads to and introduces the free providential administration of care and direction for the moral order and spiritual interests of the human race, made in the image of God, for whose welfare the world has been built. These interests must be cared for and guided according to the principles of intelligence and personal freedom. If God

If God in His free creational ac

tivity has originated and ordained the constitution of nature, with its uniformities, what hinders the conception of His further activity, when the time of moral administration is reached, establishing a soteriological order of self-revelation and gracious help for the race ensnared in the labyrinths of sin? It is truly supernatural because, without annulling the cosmic natureconstitution, it introduces, in its own time, according to unchangeable purpose, the soteriological principle for preserving to humanity its opportunity of reaching its true goal in eternal life. The idea, therefore, that supernaturalism is inconsistent with nature is utterly gratuitous and false—as plainly so as would be a claim that the education of a child's mind is contradictory to its original endowment with mental faculties. Much rather does it imply the true use and preservation of nature, in carrying into effect the moral and spiritual purposes and adaptations for which it obtained its existence. It prevents the defeat of the very end of nature.

To be true to Christianity, theology can never surrender the supernatural character of the Biblical revelation. Its claim is sustained, not only by the clearly evident place for the supernatural in the teleological ordering of history, but by the equally manifest fact that without it the world-existence, history, and end remain, or rather revert into, an unexplained and insoluble enigma. For, outside of this revelation, the thought of mankind, striving through all the ages to solve the problem of life and destiny from nature's revelation alone, has neither lifted the darkness nor ceased to plead for some satisfying light. The state of the pagan world to-day, as in all the past, is absolute disproof of the ability of naturalism, or the mere human reading of nature's pages, to supply

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humanity's mighty spiritual and soteriological needs, or to furnish the race with the matchless and saving truth and grace which are given in Christianity. This fact clearly implies that it is just by this supernatural character that the Christian revelation stands as God's true self-disclosure to man, making known the unique redemptive order which it reveals, which He alone could institute, and which fully supplies the religious needs of the race, establishing right relation to God, and regenerating heart and life. Christian theology can never consent to obliterate the valid distinction between the natural and the supernatural self-manifestation of God, without giving up the special soteriological character of the latter and permitting Christianity to drop down to the rank of a mere human product as one among the simple nature-religions of the world. This would be utterly false to its whole position and claim.'

* It is strange that Christian men, like the Duke of Argyll and Sir William Dawson, eminent in science and philosophy, should be misled into gratuitously and inconsistently favoring the appeal for dropping this distinction. In his last able work, “The Philosophy of Belief, or Law in Christian Theology," the Duke of Argyll starts with an assertion of the illegitimacy of the distinction, declaring it to be “purely a question of definition." And as a corrective he adopts from Cicero, John Stuart Mill, and Mr. Huxley a definition of Nature which allows no other existence than Nature, viz: “Nature is the sum of all existence, visible and invisible, including not only the ad of man and his works but also whatever other and higher Mind there may be, of which his is but an emanation or a fragment"-"Nature is the collective name for every thing that is." But the definition confounds Nature and God, destroys the distinction between created existence and the uncreated Author of nature, between what is God and what is not God. It adopts absolute monism. It is a definition that is consistent only with the Pantheism which resolves all being into God (rò mày of the Greek paganism) or with the Atheism which resolves all into Nature and denies the existence of God. Of course the Duke is right when he says that “this definition reduces the word

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