Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

of the world of woe hereafter ?

I cannot believe that he would really intend to assert this. I will not believe it; and I am justified in this position, not only by the fact that his whole earthly being is consecrated to labors for the sinful, but from the indirect declaration that it is godlike and proper to be actuated by a warm benevolence towards them.

He represents it as a demand of the highest moral principles, that God should not only be freed from the charge of dishonorably ruining men, but should be exhibited also as earnestly and benevolently engaged in efforts for their salvation, through Christ, after they have been ruined by their own fault.' (p. 17.) Of course, then, the more warm and active his own benevolence towards the lost may be, the more does he resemble the Divine beneficence and love.

The sinner beyond the pale of sympathy! And yet, God so loved the world,

even when it was dead in trespasses and sins, as to send His own Son to die for it! .;.. The sinner without the pale of sympathy! Then is the whole scheme of redemption à mockery;

a the tender pleadings of God with the sinner,--pleadings such as a mother would utter for her wayward child,-merely idle words; the labors and prayers of all christian people highly improper ; proceeding, as they must, from a benevolence and sympathy that ought not to actuate pious minds. Nay, more, the life of Jesus is, in this case, an inexplicable problem. To that life I have always been accustomed to look for the brightest and most glorious exhibition of a Divine spirit. The infinite tenderness and compassion of Jesus, which he ever manifested towards the most sinful; which found expression in tears as he contemplated the fall of Jerusalem ; which was even stronger in him than the love of life, and which induced him to give up all things for the sinner's sake; all this, I say, is inexplicable on the ground of our author's argument.

Possibly it may be said that I have wholly mistaken the import of our author's language here; that he merely alluded to what would be the condition of the sinner hereafter, but did not intend to affirm that he should be shut out from our kind and sympathetic interest here. I reply: that the throwing of the sinner out of the pale of sympathy, as he expresses it, -regarding him in such a light that his perpetual torments shall be rather pleasing to a ransomed soul than otherwise—is not predicated of any particular state of being, but purely on the malignant nature of sin. Is not the nature of sin as malignant now as it ever will be ? And if its malignant nature does not throw the sinner out of the pale of sym. pathy here, why should it do so at any other time? Do moral principles change with the changing of times and seasons? I had supposed that these were immutable and eternal ; and that the spirit of all which they claim for the sinner here would remain the same so long as there was a sinner existing. Either let this be admitted,

6

[ocr errors]

then, in full, and abide the consequences, or else let it be shown clearly that sin changes its nature as the sinner passes into the future state, so that, whereas he was deserving of pity and compassion here, it will be wrong to exercise them towards him there.

If the nature of moral principles does not change ; if this remains the same, as it must, forever ; if all good and benevolent beings are interested now in the sinner's behalf, so that there is even joy in heaven when one repenteth,—and if the feelings which give birth to this joy increase as we approximate God and perfection, then the sinner can never be without the pale of sympathy, nor can the joys of heaven be perfect until the last lost one is redeemed.” pp.

146-154. Several passages which we had marked in Mr. Ballou's book for insertion, must, to our sorrow, be omitted for want of space. Among them is his chapter on “ Difficulties supposed to result from man's Free-agency.” The manner in which he keeps his main argument from getting entangled in the “ vexed question,” may be referred to as an example of the judicious and common-sense treatment that characterizes other parts of his work. And the position which he takes, or rather which he indicates, on the question itself, appears to us the only tenable one. Our moral and religious nature demands our recognition of the Divine agency as supreme, and at the same time asserts our own agency, and our entire moral responsibility in the use of it. The controlling Providence of God so far as results are concerned, and our own free action so far as is requisite to our real desert,—so long as we keep these two given truths in violate and sacred, it is perhaps of no great moral or religious import how we logically dispose of their mutual relations. We say, so long as we keep intact these two truths which are given us as data. But if we take one of them alone, and do so for the purpose of eliminating or commuting the other, the case becomes wholly changed. We set aside either the supremacy of the Divine economy, which religion demands; or we set aside that peculiarity in the distinction between Right and Wrong, which conscience asserts, and which is essential to the reality of moral properties. Our logic too becomes equally vitiated, -vitiated at the outset. It takes only one half of the premises given it; and, for this very reason, it can go straightforward to a conclusion with great ease, but with great futility! As matter of fact, the more triumphantly the question seems to be settled in this way, the more unsettled is it found, on the next occasion, really to be in people's minds. The first genuine prayer, or the first moral act, clears the one-sided conclusion wholly away out of the mind even of the successful logicians themselves, for the time being. It has been in this matter, as it has been in the forming of ecclesiastical Creeds to which we alluded : On each side of the problem, a great deal of arguing by the mere logical intellect, to the exclusion of the moral judgment,-in whose jurisdiction, be it observed, this matter above all others lies. It is an inquiry worthy at least of being looked into, whether the object has not sometimes been to cashier the moral judgment as an impostor. We think it is made to appear plainly enough by Dr. Beecher's work that this has been attempted in some of the more desperate efforts to defend the current Orthodoxy; and it would not be strange if it had sometimes been attempted among ourselves, for other purposes. Now, if this could really and effectually be done, the “great conflict ” of which we have treated in this article, the conflict of the moral convictions with the doctrine of endless punishment, would subside at once, but in the wrong way. It would subside, not by any change in that doctrine, but by changing our sense of it, by exorcising us of the peculiar condemnatory idea of its moral wrong, and leaving us only the bald idea that it was a very painful ordainment stopping short at that point, without the possibility of going a step further to infer its injustice, cruelty, or wrong; as these are moral properties, and therefore, in the case supposed, mere illusions. Every one, accus. tomed to careful processes of deduction, will easily trace the matter out, and readily see that this conclusion is inevitable from the absurd starting-point. When the invincible demands of the moral judgment, on the question of human and Divine agency, are once treated as of no validity, its demands against the doctrine of endless punishment must likewise be treated as of no validity; when its invincible decisions in general are overruled, there is nothing further to be said about the real wrong

4 See Universalist Quarterly, Vol. I., Art. vi

of that doctrine or of any thing else. May we suggest

. this consideration as a caution that we do not, for the sake of any seeming advantage near by, undermine the very foundations on which we all rest. There may be a short-hand summary way of dislodging our opponents from a position, by exploding the ground on which they and we stand in common; but it is expensive tactics.

Let the moral conflict with the doctrine of endless misery go on. Be careful that we do nothing to allay it, by trying to paralyze that mysterious but ever-conscious authority in our nature by which it is conducted. Aid as far as we can in clearing the field of all stumbling-blocks, and then let the conflict take its own way. It will do its work at last. It will grow more and more intense as the moral elements in Christendom are more and more developed. We have had occasion to mention that, although it is discoverable in the earliest ages of the Church, still it is not seen there to so great a degree as in the latter ages. The leaven had not then operated so long as it has operated now; the gospel had not been for so long a time educating the moral sentiments. As these have become stronger and clearer, their oppugnancy to the doctrine has become more distinctly felt

. When they shall have gained that maturity which they are slowly approaching, the doctrine will be numbered among refuse things preserved only in history.

H. B. 2d.

[ocr errors]

Were the Sacrifices of the Law vicarious? In what sense

are they types of the death of Christ?

“ Is not the religion of Moses a religion of sacrifices in the common acceptation of the word ? Does not the Law prescribe expiatory and propitiatory offerings, by which the parties making them expect to appease the Divine anger, and obtain release from the punishment of their sins ?" There is certainly ground for these questions in the phraseology of the law, if one takes his view of the nature and object of sacrifices from the pagan rites and offerings. They certainly expected to pacify the wrath of their gods by their sacrifices, and to turn away the threatened judg. ments on their sins by the victims slain upon the altars.

There is much in the Mosaic books respecting the Law sacrifices, which, at the first, has a look in the same direction with regard to Jehovah. There are offerings which seem to be expiatory, vicarious, standing between the transgressor and his sins, and designed to bear away from him the penalty of the violated law.

But the thing seems to a well-balanced mind so contrary to the radical idea of justice, and so derogatory to the character and government of God, that we feel the moral necessity of finding some explanation which shall remove the Mosaic institutes to a greater distance from those of pagan Egypt and Carthage.

And I think a careful inquiry into the whole subject in its details, as well as in its general principles, will furnish us with facts enough on which to base a conclusion more honorable to God as a moral ruler and a just judge.

And the inquiry is the more important, since so much is made out of the Hebrew sacrifices, in the way of types, to prove that the death of Christ was a vicarious or substitutional sacrifice; or, in other words, a sacrifice by which he appeased the wrath of God against the sinful world, and bore in his own person the punishments ap. pointed to its transgressions.

There were many kinds of sacrifices and offerings com. manded by the law of Moses, embracing the various offences of the individual and the nation; but they may probably be brought under three general heads.

1. The daily sacrifice at the national altar.

2. The sacrifices of thanksgiving, or acknowledgment of blessings and favors from heaven.

3. Sin-offerings, or sacrifices made in consequence of some violation of the law of God.

It is only with the last division that we are concerned, for the first two are not supposed to involve the principle of substitution, or vicarious offering.

In order to understand the Old Testament sacrifices,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »