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Observer, Mar. 1, 71.
A SURVEY OF HISTORICAL SUPERNATURALISM.-No. I.
In a record which we receive as authentic, it reads "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” There is music, simplicity, and power in the ancient document. The facts speak for themselves in their greatness and glory, and the style is never an encumbrance.
Such a history could not be written now, for the old solemn harmonies of life, the childlike faith, and the limpid colourless style are equally departed. A modern historian would want to begin with some demonstration of the necessary existence of God and the possibility of absolute creation, and as soon as ever philosophy and science began to march into the field the chronicle would be spoiled by the war of dialectics.
Man is a maker, but not a creator. He must have his raw material of iron or of gold, to fashion into some given shape. But it is certainly creation absolute which is intimated in this document. Eternal matter would give us something independent of God—a sort of brute.god from eternity as well as the living God. When our faith is weak why should we choose the hardest side ? It would remove no difficulty to insist that the material was as old as the Creator, but would only lay upon reason an additional burden. It is through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. But while we agree with those who say that the worlds were not made from pre-existing materials, we dislike the common language, " made out of nothing." Nothing is such a curious material to operate upon. We receive by faith the whole testimony in its integrity, that matter and spirit equally proceed from God. It is enough to say that the sufficiəncy was in God to produce and evolve from His own almightiness, matter and form, spirit and life. All is the outcome of the Everlasting One. The jewelled midnight, and the fathomless sea, the great forest and the stately river, the sun-god and the summer fields, the cedar of Lebanon, the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valley, were all the “ thoughts of God,” for His thinking went before His working, and the thought was made visible in the architectural stories of heaven as well as in the masonry and paintings of the earth.
It was “in the BEGINNING that God created the heaven and the earth," a period of hoary antiquity far back in the remote abysses of duration, not to be described to us more definitely, for the great lights had not been burning or revolving, by which we now measure off duration, and so get our little time-river from the deep sea of eternity.
“And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light, and there was light." We agree with those who say that the first verse in Genesis stands alone, as preface, referring to the purely creative work. Between that prime work and the formative or fashioning operation there is immense intervalma chasm of ages which we are unable to measure. Whether the earth had been continuously under the formless darkness, or whether it had been inhabited by an order of spiriiual intelligences and subjected to convulsion and desolation upon their revolt, we are not able to determine. Nor is the matter one of any practical importance, though it may lawfully find a place in cabinet speculation. The m:king, as distinct from creation, is the thing which is approaching when the Spirit of God moves upon the face of the waters, awakening the cosmos from the chaos.
“ God said, Let there be light, and light was.” How sublime! The language is as
Observer, Mar. 1, '71.
supreme and astonishing as the result. The revealing radiance, the holy light, God's own daughter, invades the normal or penal darkness, and lo! the glories of His work begin to shine forth. The six days' work, though substantially accurate, is not a scientific record for savans, or a paper for the transactions of some philosophical society, but a popular narrative for humanity. The Bible is not given to teach men philosophy or science, though it does contain the crowning science and the most profound philosophy, in revealing the science of spiritual relations and the philosophy of spiritual life. We have in the book the moral history of man in relation to nature, to God, and to eternity; and all other matters are only of importance as they bear on this end or serve this dominating purpose.
We regard the work of the five days as the successive decrees of God, bringing the earth and the atmosphere into receptive condition and established intercommunion with the higher materialism already in existence. Neither the Chronology of Archbishop Usher nor that of the Septuagint will permit us to assign much over six thousand years as the period of human existence on the earth, but this meets all the necessities of the case. Some of the geologists demand six millions of years for the pre-human formations. Like other men, they sometimes talk in their dreams, and mingle fact with fable. But even were their time-table reliable, we could grant them all they need between the positive creation of matter and the introduction of man. By their own cherished records the recent introduction of man is a verity. Mr. Pattison says, • The fossil catacombs have been well searched. No human bones ever whitened the floors of the oldest ocean-life period, the Laurentian rocks; no human footprints appear amongst the sun cracks, and rain and ripple marks of the primordial zone; no human fragments are there amidst the sea shells of the silurian, nor with the armour-plated fish of the old red sandstone ; no canoe wrecked on the coral reefs of the mountain limestone ; no marks of human toil on the fern trees of the coal measures ; no human footprints are there on the track of the turtles haunting the salt lakes of the trias; no human vertebræ amidst the myriads of saurian skeletons in the blue lias, nor with the opossums of the oolite, nor strewn on the shores of the deep chalk sea, nor on the banks of the lower tertiary, nor amidst the tropical forms of the middle tertiary, nor even on the basin-like inland seas of the upper tertiary, nor even under the glacial clays and sands of the great drift period. There is positively no mark whatever which can be attributed to the human race amidst the innumerable fossils of old geology. By the common consent of all scientific observers the existence of man at any period prior to the deposit of the local gravel beds of the present surface is absolutely negatived." *
It is the work of the sixth day, in the creation and enthroning of man, which comes before us according to our plan. And God said, Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness : and let them have dominion over
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him.” The plural form seems to shadow forth that distinction in the Godhead which was more fully manifested in the Christian revelation. At the same time it shows the superior glory of the work about to be accomplished, when compared with purple seas, or sunshine on the shore, or animal life in field or forest. In the mysterious abysses of the Divine nature which admits plurality, there is consultation and concerted action—"Let us make man in our image, after
all the earth.
* "New Facts and Old Records," By S. R. Pattison, F.G.S., page 8.
Observer, Mar. 1, 71.
our likeness." The long preparation in the visible strictly corresponds with the regality of man ; all revolutions of fire and food, all the confluence or antagonism among great forces, all the successive creations and developments, looked onward to his arrival and coronation. The God who had been gradually preparing a country and a palace, in ripe time brought forth the monarch and crowned him. Under God, he was made master of the elements and lord of the country, with all things put into his hands.
The first stage was making the body—a fine structure, no doubt, fearfully and wonderfully made, superior in organization to anything which had gone before. But organization is not life. The perfect organism was silent, motionless, breathless, until a second work proceeded. God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living soul. The writer is no materialist; he believes in spirit distinct from matter ; but certainly the passage concerning “soul” does not prove the point. Soul-—“ living soul"—is the designation of the man in his unity and wholeness. When the breath of God entered he became a living soul; all the wheels of the fine machine began to revolve; all the senses, all the gates in the house of life opened to receive impressions and tidings from the heavens and from the earth ; and, from the manner in which he marshalled the facts and interpreted the tidings, it was soon manifest that a king had arrived.
" In our own image, after our likeness.” The likeness has been sought by theologians in various fields, and with widely diverse conclusions. Intellect, Form, Moral Sense, Dominion, Immortality, have each been assigned as the attribute which determines the likeness. We may assume as a postulate, that the image must be something in which man stands alone and unapproachable. It cannot be mere Intellect, for though man has supremacy in the force and range of such power among visible creatures, yet he does not stand alone. The elephant, the horse, the dog, the beaver, have decided mental power in perception, calculation, memory, as well as something bordering on moral feeling, in love and fear, in gratitude and trust. It cannot be Dominion, for though the empire was grand, that was only a consequence of the royalty in his constitution. Because of his creation in the image of God the ruling power was granted. He had the fitness, but still the grant was supplemental—the appointment depended upon the sovereignty of God. It could not be Immortality, for man had the sentence of death hanging over him if law were violated, and even remaining obedient, depended upon the tree of life, the wonderful fruit of which was adapted to preserve perpetual youth and sustain vital force against chemical action from the outside. Immortality was only a potentiality, a possible thing, depending upon adherence to the law of the inheritance, or failing that, to new provision through the grace and love of the Lawgiver.
There remains Form and Moral Sense. We think they will both stand. The enquiry might be made, “ What form has God, the invisible Spirit penetrating all things ?” But this settles nothing. We have to remember that redemption by Christ Jesus was not an afterthought, but a forethought, and that our Lord was the determined Elect Head of humanity before the foundation of the world. Adam was “ the figure of Him that was to come.” He was made in the image and glory of God by receiving that shape appointed for the Incarnate Logos-God manifest in flesh. The Moral Sense will stand likewise, for man alone can discriminate between truth and falsehood, between sin and righteousness. His constience is a reality, even in ruins, connecting him with a higher
Observer, Mar. 1, 71.
country, and when the reception of the Life-Restorer puts down discord, he is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.
There is another attribute in man, not so commonly considered, which shows him as the image of God. All other creatures in nature are included in the iron materialism of cause and effect. Indeed that government of necessity belongs to what we call nature, which means the be-coming, from the Latin natura. But man is not on that plane ; by the force of his responsible will and the power of originating his own action, he stands out from and above nature, and is in reality a supernatural being. Indeed without such escape from the life and mechanism of mere nature, his moral sense would only be a snare, for he would perceive the glories or the terrors, but would still be resistlessly driven one road or the other without the choice of his own heart or the volition of his own soul. But his power of originating action corresponds with his power of distinguishing righteousness; hence not merely in the grandeur of his material form, but in spirit-perception, and spiritual power, he is the image and the glory of God.
G. G. (To be continued).
CAN A CHRISTIAN BE A SOLDIER? Editor of Observer-Dear brother--If you will allow me so to call you, seeing I am a Soldier in the service of Queen Victoria. Recently I have become convinced that the truth advocated in the Ecclesiastical Observer is indeed the truth of God, I have, therefore, become an attentive and constant reader. Having lifted the February number I was much struck with your second note at the end-Can a Christian be a Soldier ? This question I would like very much to see thoroughly handled, and. I also submit the enquiry-Can a Soldier be a Christian and remain a Soldier? I am fully satisfied on the matter myself, yet I might be wrong; and I believe some of the good people about Birmingham are fully decided that a man cannot be a Christian and remain a Soldier.
W. M. W. The Editor of Ecclesiastical Observer-Several years ago I put a query respecting the non-interference of Christians with war, but was somewhat disappointed that no one took it up. From all appearance we shall very soon be compelled to make up our minds on the subject. War is now one of the chief topics for legislation, and the leading men of our country are seeking to discover the best means of enlisting the whole male population, fit for service, in some way or other, as active agents for offence or defence. There are among the brethren many who would come within the limits of any call likely to be made, and who, while ready to do their duty as faithful subjects of an earthly monarch, are yet in doubt as to whether this particular duty would interfere with their allegiance to the King of Kings. It is true the subject has been often handled, but the ominous signs now visible cause it again to assume a somewhat important aspect. I have read much on one side of the question, but am free to confess that, however applicable non-resistance of evil may be to every day life, the arguments in favour of it seem to have no bearing on national matters. I, and no doubt many others, would gladly have counsel from some experienced warriors of the Supreme Ruler. R. S.
The enquiry mooted in the foregoing is certainly most important. We happen to have to hand the following under the heading
WHAT IS WAR ? SIR WALTER RALEIGH said, " the practices of war are so hateful to God, that were not His mercies infinite, it were in vain for those of that profession to hope for any portion of them.”
NAPOLEON said, that “war is the business of barbarians."
THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON said, that “men who have nice notions of religion have no business to be soldiers."
SIR CHARLES NAPIER said, that “to overcome all feelings of religion is generally the moans of making a warrior."
Observer, Mar. 1, '71.
LORD BACON says, “I am of opinion that, unless you could bray Christianity in a mortar, and mould it into a new paste, there is no possibility of a holy war.
LORD BROUGHAM says, “I abominate war as unchristian. I hold it the greatest of human crimes. I deem it to include all others-violence, blood, rapine, fraud-everything which can deform the character, alter the nature, and debase the name of man.”
SOAME JENYNS says, “if Christian nations were nations of Christians, all war would be impossible and unknown among them.”
whence is it that wars still disgrace the self-styled Christian world ? It is owing to the doctrine of expediency. If Christians had boldly looked in the face of their duty, as developed in the New
Testament, this senseless and infernal system of wholesale butchery must long ago have ceased.”
LAMARTINE says, “War, very far from being the progress of humanity, is only murder in mass, which retards it, afflicts it, decimates it, dishonours it."
LEIGH Hunt says, “I firmly believe that war, or the sending thousands of our fellow creatures to cut one another to bits, often for what they have no concern in, nor understand, will one day be reckoned far more absurd than if people were to settle an argument over the dinner-table with their knives !-a logic, indeed, which was once fashionable in some places during the good old times.'”
JEREMY TAYLOR says, “If men be subjects of Christ's law, they can never go to war with each other. As contrary as cruelty is to mercy, tyranny to charity, so is war and blood-shed to the meekness and gentleness of the Christian religion.” BISHOP WARBURTON says,
“I look upon war as the blackest mischief ever breathed from hell, upon the fair face of this creation.” ARCHBISHOP WHEATLEY says, “War is a great disgrace to civilized men and Christians." JOHN WESLEY says,
“Shall Christians assist the prince of hell, who was a murderer from the beginning, by telling the world of the benefit of war? Shall Protestant publications proclaim to the nations that war is a blessing of Providence ?” DR. ARNOLD says,
“Could there, by any possibility, have been another war in the world if we had accepted the mercies given us ?.... The Sermon on the Mount cannot be read by any good man without the strongest feeling of shame and humiliation for the contrast between the picture of Christian principles there drawn, and the reality he sees around him.” CHALMERS says,
“The mere existence of the prophecy, 'they shall learn war no more,' is a sentence of condemnation upon war, and stamps a criminality on its very forehead ; 80 soon as Christianity shall gain a full ascendancy in the world, from that moment war disappears." JOHN HOWE
says, “ Very plain it is that war is a mark of the apostacy, and stigmatizes man as fallen from God in a degenerated, revolted state; it is the horrid issue of men's having forsaken God, and of their being abandoned by him to the hurry of their own furious lusts and passions.”
Thomas Scott says, “War, in every case, must be deemed the triumph, or the harvest, of the first great murderer-the devil.” SYDNEY SMITH says, “ The greatest curse that can be entailed on mankind is a state of
All the atrocious crimes committed in years of peace, all that is spent in peace by the secret corruptions, or by the thoughtless extravagance, of nations, are mere trifles compared with the gigantic evils which stalk over this world in a state of war. God is forgotten in war; every principle of Christianity is trampled upon.". ROBERT HALL says,
“War is nothing less then a temporary repeal of the principles of virtue. It is a system out of which almost all the virtues are excluded, and in which nearly all the vices are included." DR. CHANNING says,
“The chief evil of war is moral evil. War is the concentration of all human crimes. Here is its distinguishing, accursed brand. Under its standard gather violence, malignity, rage, fraud, perfidy, rapacity, and lust. If it only slew men, it would do little. It turns man into a beast of prey.”
Adam CLARKE says, “War is as contrary to thọ spirit of Christianity as murder ; nothing can justify nations in shedding each other's blood." ALBERT BARNES says,
“ Who has ever told the evils and the curses and the crimes of war? Who can describe the horrors of the carnage of battle? Who can portray the fiendish passions which reign there? If there is anything in which earth, more then any other, resembles hell, it is in its wars."
LORD CLARENDON says, “We cannot make a more lively representation and emblem to onrselves of hell, than by the view of a kingdom in war.”. BURKE
war suspends all the rules of moral obligation.” JEFFERSON
that war is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong, and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses.”