« ÖncekiDevam »
Probability of Future Revolutions.
he was equally unable to set the iron trade free. His own safety now prompts him to enforce and extend the system. M. Bastiat clearly saw its manifold evils and described the path of safety; but the slow lead of science groping its way, at every step making sure of its ground and the accuracy of its course, was repugnant to the impatient multitude, and they rushed after the quackery which promised a swift restoration of order and the final settlement of all the duties of individuals. This is the very life of society which grows and cannot be formed. Trampling it and trampling knowledge and righteousness under foot, the French eagerly embraced the imperialism which had crushed their fathers. From ignorance they preferred it to the freedom which would have given them power and happiness. Of imperialism, now as much opposed to ideology as under the first Buonaparte, and all its related isms-communism, socialism, &c., which are all founded on the supposition that their authors can organize society far better than nature, the science so successfully cultivated by N. Bastiat is the uncompromising antagonist, but they had and have in France a fearful majority. Louis Napoleon in consequence is on the throne honoured by Europe, while M. Bastiat sank almost unknown and little honoured to the grave. We neither repine nor despair; we know that physical facts seen and handled, only slowly make their way to the minds of the great multitude, and we cannot expect that abstract moral and intellectual principles should by them be readily believed and firmly acted on. Nature, however, does not wait for the slow progress of knowledge to realize her great designs and correct our errors and follies. She hurries men instinctively into activity, and compels them ignorantly to be the means of destroying the systems as they have destroyed successive governments in France which stand in the way of welfare. From what has happened there, and from the habitual disregard ever displayed by its rulers of the truths taught by its political economists, quiet reform seems hopeless and more revolutions certain.
ART. III.—The Creeds of the Church in their Relations to the Word
of God and to the Conscience of the Christian. The Hulsean Lectures for the year 1857. By C. A. SWAINSON, M.A. 8vo. pp. 231.
This volume of Hulsean Lectures deals with some of the problems which are felt, more or less, to press on many religious minds of the present age; it deals with them thoughtfully and calmly, and in a liberal and charitable spirit; but sometimes, we must candidly own, vaguely and unsatisfactorily.
Its subject, The Creeds of the Church in relation to the Word of God and the conscience of the Christian,' would require, in order to treat it fully, a much larger volume. Indeed, it is rather a thin book compared with some of its more portly predecessors; it extends over only about one hundred and eighty pages, to which are added about fifty pages of appendix, principally consisting of extracts. It contains the usual number, however, of lectures,-namely eight, to which a merciful order of the Court of Chancery in 1830 reduced the required twenty of Mr. Hulse's Will.
Small as the volume is, we do not propose a formal analysis of it, and shall say little of its general merits or defects. Our chief object is to make some observations on two or three points on which, as appears to us, the views of our author, while containing much truth, require to be both developed and guarded a little more fully than they seem to be in these lectures.
The principal subject of the volume is more particularly treated in the third, fourth, and fifth lectures. Mr. Swainson contends that the general concurrence of the Christian Church in such and such doctrines (as, for example, that of the ancient Church in the articles of the so-called Apostles' Creed), is the result of longcontinued sifting and discussion of the meaning of the sacred records, till, by slow degrees, after many efforts and abundance of controversy, their full and consistent meaning—the meaning which harmonizes all the passages, the key that turns in all the wards of the lock-is gradually discovered. He believes that this process, under the promised guidance and influence of the Holy Spirit as guaranteed to the Church collectively, is still going on; that, in virtue of it, muny of the points which now seem difficult will by-and-bye be cleared up, and many of the difficulties which now seem irreconcilable will be harmonized. In a word, he believes, in a certain sense, in a ' progressive theology' as in ' progressive science;' and so, we imagine, do we all; but then in what sense and to what extent ? for, according to many theories of the present age,
Progressive Theology—how far to be expected. 75 theology may be so progressive' as to leave the founders and apostles of Christianity quite out of sight-millions of leagues behind us; and the system of the gospel may be ' developed into the most opposite forms of full-blown popery or downright deism. To such theories Mr. Swainson certainly gives no sanction.
Nevertheless, we wish that he had more precisely stated and more exactly limited the theory within which the notion of a progressive' theology may be legitimately held. We shall, in few words, endeavour to give our own views of the limitations within which the theory, (unquestionably containing important truth, notwithstanding its liability to abuse,) is to be held; indicating, at the same time, the points in which we gather that Mr. Swainson would agree with us, and those in which his statements require adjustment or further illustration.
That we have not yet arrived at the whole meaning of the Bible is (as Butler truly stated the matter nearly a century and a half ago,) no more wonderful than that mankind had been go long without those great physical discoveries which signalized the seventeenth century, though all the phenomena, (as he says,) had been before men's eyes for so many centuries; nor was it without reason, therefore, that this great philosopher inferred, in a sentence which probably bears the marks of his comprehensive genius as strongly as any one sentence he ever penned, that we need not despair of yet making many discoveries of still doubtful religious truths, and of solving many difficulties which still cast a shadow on the sunlight of the sacred page,—by a more diligent study of the sacred volume itself, in combination with the study of the great facts of human consciousness, of history, and of physical science.
This view affords a legitimate mode of meeting many of the still subsisting difficulties which are to be found in the Bible, just as in the Universe ; difficulties which every young, and, therefore, imperfect science is apt, for a while, to increase rather than allay. Of such difficulties men's impatience demands an instant solution. The believer himself is apt to feel that impatience-forgetting that he can afford to wait. The evidence for the main truths, whether of Deism or Christianity, cannot be destroyed or vanquished by mere objections, while many such objections have been already solved after patient waiting for further evidence ; and both considerations warn us to abstain from vaulting to rash conclusions.
This theory of a progressive theology is, we think, justly applicable in many cases; to points of doctrine still controverted among those who yet defer to the Christian Scriptures ; and to difficulties of infidelity based on alleged historical or chronological inconsistencies, or imagined incompatibility with scientific discoveries.
That the Bible, if indeed the product of Infinite Intelligence, should contain in itself inexhaustible materials for thought,hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge, -gradually yielding themselves up to devout study and patient research as ages roll on, is surely not wonderful, and is certainly most worthy of its Divine Author; that it should thus task the faith, the docility, the patience, the industry of those for whose benefit and moral discipline it is given, is equally worthy of Him.
But then, as already hinted, it is very necessary that this theory, in one sense true, should be clearly and cautiously stated, else it may easily engender very serious confusion of thought among youthful theologians, and in various ways encourage those vague anticipations of voluminous and monstrous expansions' of the Gospel to which reference has been already made ;-presumptuous theories which have been the plague of the present age, and which promise happily to be the laughing-stock of the next.
For example; with regard to the nature of the discoveries to be made, by continued meditation and research, in concurrence with divine influences of whatever kind, it might be imagined that there is no essential distinction worth maintaining between objective and subjective' Revelation; that facts and doctrines which never could have been known, except by supernatural illumination of the minds of those who first made us acquainted with them, (as, for instance, the doctrine of the Incarnation or the Resurrection) stand on just the same footing with truths which are logically contained in the Scripture statements, but the just inference from which may for ages have eluded human sagacity; in other words, (for it comes to this,) that there is no essential difference between ' Revelation' and ` Interpretation,' though, in truth, it would be about as much to the purpose to say that there is little difference between the production of the phenomena of the outward universe and man's interpretation of the laws of those phenomena once submitted to him ! Everything which Ignorance learns, let it be ever so simple and elementary, is to it a Revelation; but it does not seem very desirable to use the very same term for 'revelations' in this sense, and the preternatural communication of truths which no human intelligence could, of itself, or by its own efforts ever so long continued, give us the slightest inkling of.
Mr. Swainson, we are bound to say, has here clearly indicated the difference between the two classes of truths, and guarded himself, in the following passage, from being misapprehended,
The True Idea of Revelation.
though we think he undesirably applies the word 'Revelations' to both. Still he does guard himself.
. And thus we have in the body of Christ what I may call two kinds of Revelation. The one a revelation of facts, historical and doctrinal, to the first Apostles of our Lord, and of these the books of the New Testament contain our only record; the other a revelation from time to time of inferences not discoverable by the intellect of man, *
* but laid open to his spirit. The former may be deemed immediate, and direct, and open, the latter is of a more mysterious and hidden character; and the former furnish the touchstone to the latter. For, although the discovery of the inference may have been gradual, partial, and to a few, yet all may see, whether it will stand the test of Scripture: for to the law and to the testimony' must the appeal still be made. Are these things 'contained in Scripture, or may they be proved by Scripture ?' must ever be our question. Suggestions may come from the spirit of error' as well as from the spirit of truth; and we must ' try the spirits whether they be of God.' And I repeat, the question must be, ‘Does the key thus offered to the Church turn in the lock of the holy volume ?' If it will so turn, we hold that the key is the right one: the solution offered is correct.'
• You see, therefore, my brethren, that we hold that Christ's word standeth sure: 'Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world;' you see that His promise may yet be receiving its accomplishment, ' His Spirit still leading us into all the truth.'-p. 51.
Whether our author has been equally successful in guarding against misapprehension on another point we have some doubt; we mean as to the extent of the analogy between progress' in theological and progress' in scientific discovery respectively, looking to the magnitude and amount of the successive discoveries in each case and the means by which they are achieved. As to the latter, he now and then uses phraseology which (though he means it not) unpleasantly reminds one of a favourite theory of some of our recent self-called spiritualists; namely-that the inspiration of Moses and Bacon, Paul and Plato, Newton, Peter, James, and Raphael,—of every great artist, philosopher, and saint-is radically the same, and differs only in degree. Now, in one sense, it is no doubt true, that' every good and perfect gift comes from God, and that every useful, as well as spiritual, discovery is to be ultimately traced to Him who is, directly or remotely, the Father of lights,' the 'inspiration of whose spirit, in various modes, has given man understanding. But we think it can only confuse thought (to say no more) to use terms and phrases which imply that the divine influence is asserted in a way speci
* Not directly discoverable,' we should have preferred, for reasons stated further