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meaning of the word "eternal.” We will confine ourselves to a
“ very simple remark indeed. Of all the subjects upon which a preacher can address his congregation, the subject in question is the very last in which he ought to exceed his commission. There is surely none in which he ought more rigidly to study not only the words of his authority, but also the frequency with which the subject is handled, and the connection in which it is introduced. We assert, in the strongest manner, that the way in which the subject of “eternal damnation,” no matter what be the meaning we may attach to the words, is handled by Mr. Spurgeon, and the class of popular preachers who resemble him, is utterly and radically unlike the way in which it is handled in the New Testament. Similarity consists, amongst other things, in the proportion and relative prominence of the different parts of a set of doctrines. Damnation, described in the plainest and most definite manner as consisting of numberless ages of physical torment, is perhaps the most prominent doctrine of Mr. Spurgeon's preaching. The references to the subject in the New Testament are, without any exception, indefinite and mysterious. In many books of it—as, for example, in the epistles of St. Paul—the doctrine hardly appears at all ; in others—as in the Revelation-the whole question is so involved in metaphor and scenical representation, that it is impossible to make any definite statement as to its meaning. In the summaries of Christian doctrine delivered by St. Paul to the Jews and Athenians, in the 13th and 17th chapters of the Acts, no mention is made of this doctrine; and even the well-known passages in the Gospels furnish no explicit and categorical statement on the subject. Surely these undeniable facts might suggest to the most literal interpreters in general, and Mr. Spurgeon in particular, that it is possible to preach this doctrine too prominently and too definitely, and that the very manner in which it is treated shows that it was not intended to be made the one distinctive feature of Christianity. As to the fearful and unnaturally horrible satisfaction which Mr. Spurgeon has the audacity-unauthorised by one syllable of the Bible--to impute to those who are saved in contemplating the tortures of their nearest and dearest friends in hell, we will only ask him to reflect very seriously what spirit he is of. He believes that Jesus Christ died on the cross to save sinners. If those who are so saved rejoice in the damnation of their fellow-sinners, they are most unlike their God and most unlike their Saviour. There is but one being who can sistently rejoice in the damnation of the wicked, and that is the devil. If Mr. Spurgeon will compare with his own infernal language the parable of Dives and Lazarus, he will, we should hope, find matter which will make him ashamed for the rest of
his life for the frightful libel which he has uttered against the gospel. Abraham is not described as exulting in the punishment of Dives, whom he addresses as “ Son;" Dives is not described as cursing his six brethren, and longing for their ruin, The subject of retribution is a fearful one, however it is regarded. We do not wish a preacher to shrink from handling it; but surely a man who, without any authority at all, defines its limits, ignores its modifications, and takes no notice of the manner in which it is introduced into the book which he professes to expound, is guilty of a very grave offence.
In conclusion, we would direct Mr. Spurgeon's attention to a point which is often neglected by the class to which he belongs, His case is, that he preaches the gospel, and is not answerable either for the substance or for the results of his preaching. We have shown some reasons which may lead him to doubt whether preaching the gospel is exactly the same thing as preaching his own conclusions from the gospel. If he is in doubt upon the subject, its solution may possibly be assisted by the test of experience. Some of his doctrines may be true, but they are awfully liable to be misunderstood. We do not say, and we do not think, that the doctrine of justification by faith is immoral ; but we do say that doctrines easily mistaken or substituted for it are desperately immoral and incalculably mischievous. If a man chooses to preach about election, and the Divine sovereignty, and the effects of grace and free-will, he is dealing with edge-tools; and if, from human passion, infirmity, love of controversy, or vanity, he makes a slip, he is exceedingly likely to preach a doctrine of devils. Mr. Spurgeon tells us that a City missionary of his acquaintance thought that he had converted about 2,000 people in one year, and that at the end of the next year he found that only one case of the 2,000 was genuine; and he tells us from his own experience the following frightful story: “I have seen the man who stood upon the table of a public-house, and grasping the glass in his hand said, 'Mates, I can say more than
any you : I am one of those who are redeemed with Jesus' precious blood ;' and then he drank his tumbler of ale, and danced again before them, and sang vile and blasphemous songs. Now that is a man to whom the gospel is a savour of death unto death.” Is he quite so sure of that? May not the preacher's misrepresentation of the gospel have been the savour of death unto death? Has he never used language himself which would give a logical justification and a ghastly consistency to the blasphemy of this poor wretch, and of others like him? We do not wish to decide the question; we only suggest the inquiry. It is one which ought to sadden, to humble, and to terrify a popular preacher,
if he filled the largest church in England ten times a week with the most attentive of congregations.
We may appear to some of our readers to have treated Mr. Spurgeon too seriously. We do not think that it is possible to consider too seriously the character of teaching which stirs the minds of vast masses of people to their very inmost depths. To us his popularity is a phenomenon of no ordinary kind. The character of the man himself is of little or no importance. It would have been no difficult matter to have covered him with ridicule, for his style is full of the grossest and crudest absurdities, and his want of education causes him constantly to fall into blunders of the most ludicrous description; but if we look on him as a phenomenon he is not ridiculous, but at once a subject of hope and of fear. We have tried to explain in some degree the source of his popularity ; but the consequences of his popularity would form a subject more curious still. What may not be hoped of a nation so conversant with, and so intent upon, the highest subjects of human thought that even its lowest classes prefer theology to the drama? What may not be feared from a nation which carries into theology the same trenchant audacity which characterises it in every other walk of life, and the same uncontrollable love of adventure and excitement which has made Englishmen alternately the pride and the terror of the world? What a glimpse Mr. Spurgeon's sermons give us of the stern wild features of the class to which they are addressed! The people with whom these sermons are popular are not a puny or a childish race, but one capable of feeling that the deepest of all mysteries are in some way or other vitally connected with their every-day life. They are at present groping darkly after the solution of the problem. Mr. Spurgeon certainly has not found a very complete or true one; but he has found one which excites the deepest feelings of thousands of his fellow-creatures; and though it contains much that is palpably and demonstrably false, it also contains that which no one can deny to be true who believes that any truth at all is attainable upon these subjects. Who will divide the wheat from the chalt? Who will seize and direct aright the springs which men like Mír. Spurgeon handle vigorously no doubt, but so coarsely and ignorantly, that to many minds they do more harm than good? It is seldom that the Sphinx has propounded a deeper riddle.
ART. V.-LATHAM AND GRIMM ON THE ETHNOLOGY
The Germania of Tacitus. By Dr. R. G. Latham. Walton and
Maberly, 1851. Geschichte der Deutschen Sprache. By Jacob Grimm. Leipzig,
1818. The battle concerning the unity of the human races has not yet been fought out: the adverse combatants are as confident as though nothing had been said to the purpose on the opposite side. In part, this has been owing to a Mosaic and to an antiMosaic bias; but still more, we suspect, to that mist of obscurity which all controversies fomented by religious passion are apt to diffuse, far beyond the region in which that passion dwells. One school uses words in a different sense from another; in which case each is liable to erroneous reasoning by the inveterate ambiguity of terms. In this controversy there is, as it appears to us, also a tendency to mistake the question really at issue; and although we are about to address ourselves to the races of ancient Germany, it will give clearness to our remarks if we prefix some thoughts concerning the wider argument.
In speculating on the earlier history of man, especially in respect to the propagation of human races, it may be maintained that they have, or that they have not, sprung out of a single homogeneous and narrowly localised race. To determine which of these two hypotheses is true, if it can be determined by science, is of course matter of scientific interest. But there is a second question, which is ordinarily confounded with the first,
-we mean, whether human races did or did not spring from a single pair of progenitors, male and female--an Adam and an Eve. To prove that all mankind are of one race, and diffused from one locality, will never prove that all came from a single pair; which, though capable of being received as a doctrine of specific revelation, seems impossible to be proved by science, and loaded with considerable improbability as soon as one begins to reason about it, from whatever presumption we start concerning the origin of man. For if, on the one hand, we believe man to have been created by a strictly supernatural process (by the “immediate hand” of God), yet, unless an infinite series of miracles is imagined to follow, the utter helplessness of an isolated man and woman, whose lives—and with them all the hopes of the future species-are in daily extreme danger, would make every merely scientific inquirer take for granted that the wisdom of the Creator would produce mankind in mass at once, both
for physical security and for moral development. It is an old remark, how the divine wisdom is displayed in the fecundity of feeble animals on which the powerful ones prey; and to expose one pair of human beings to all the risks of such a world as this, would be by no means in harmony with that arrange
But even this is not the strongest argument. It is a familiar thought that gregarious animals are in an unnatural state when isolated; and even on that account,--to say nothing of danger from wild-beasts,—no man speculating on the origin of cows or horses would imagine that they are derived from a single pair. Gregariousness being their nature, we take for granted that they were created in troops, in order that that nature might at once have its gratification and its development. Now in man the same argument is of tenfold strength : for to his moral nature a varied society is essential; and for moral development he was created. A wife fills the largest share in the heart of a husband; but a single married pair cannot afford to one another the whole moral interest and moral exercise which is demanded for the culture of the heart and development of the powers. As, then (not knowing the contrary), we presume that gregarious animals were from their origin gregarious, much more would one who did not know the contrary presume that man, being a social, political, and moral being, was from his origin furnished with the varied companionship of his fellows.
But if, on the other hand, we could suppose that (whether by the will and design of an Infinite Governor, or by the undirected unintelligent powers of Nature) man and other animals were generated mediately, by influences eternally acting whenever physical conditions permit, it is then nearly unimaginable that a single pair of any animals ever any where exhausted the whole productiveness of Nature. The same influences which produced one man and woman, would simultaneously produce hundreds : for no locality large enough for human life can have been so small as to allow but two births. On the whole, we conclude that the derivation of mankind from a single pair ought not to be regarded as any matter of contest between men of science. Those who think that they are arguing for it on scientific grounds, are really arguing to prove a different proposition, namely, that which we stated first--the derivation of all human races from one race; and if they can prove this, they have indeed left room for the further opinion that the original race came from a single pair, but that is all.
Those who (on whatever grounds) regard the testimony of the book of Genesis as indecisive in this argument, must probably always start from the presumption of a multiplicity of human races: a presumption which may be either disproved or