Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

divine truth adopted by Calvin, and derived from the scholastic philosophy, Mr. Maurice belongs essentially to the new Coleridgian school, recognizing the distinction between the reason and the logical understanding; elevating the office of the reason; assigning the true province of divine things to that spiritual faculty in man, that "verifying faculty," which grasps truth intuitively, and is able to know God without the intellectual demonstration. This power he does not confine to the educated and thinking class, but sees in it the ground of religion, or the original capacity of man to receive divine truth. Here in fact is his strong point. He joins issue with those who would confine the knowledge of spiritual things to a particular class whose minds are specially or even supernaturally enlightened. He says: "where, then, do we differ? Only when you would make the mys tery not an eternal, universal reality, but some apprehension of particular men. Only when you would make the initiated a pecular set of wise or spiritual men, and not those who are content to see what is true for them and for all. Only when you make the spiritual organ not an open eye to receive God's light which flows forth for all, but a peculiar organ in which peculiar men may glory. Only when the spiritual man in fact becomes the carnal, the natural, physical man; for that he does become when he glorifies his individual soul- his separate wisdom above the wisdom, the divine wisdom, which is for man."1

He does not, however, allow himself to be led by his philosophy of the ideal into the barren and profane conclusions of Newman, that confer upon man, simply through his reason, perfect power over divine truth, and sets him face to face with God. Mr. Maurice claims to be an earnest believer in the divinity and redemptive work of Christ,in supernatural and historical Christianity. Through Christ he holds that man, that every man, may truly know God, and may comprehend eternal things. God has descended

1 The Unity of the New Testament, p. 408.

[ocr errors]

into humanity, enlightening it, and lighting it up to the apprehension and enjoyment of divine truth.

The starting-point of Mr. Maurice's theological system, if system he has, is charity. He says: "It seems to me that if we start from the belief, 'charity is the ground and centre of the universe-God is charity,' we restore that distinctness which our theology is said to have lost, we reconcile it with the comprehension we are all in search of. So long as we are busy with our theories, notions, feelings about God-so long as these constitute our divinity-we must be vague, we must be exclusive."1 Again he says: "This love was to be the ground of all calls to repentance, conversion, humiliation, selfrestraint; this was to unfold, gradually, the mystery of the passion and of the resurrection, the mystery of justifica tion by faith, of the new life, of Christ's ascension and priesthood, of the descent of the Spirit, of the unity of the church; this was to be the induction into the deepest mystery of all, the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."2 Still again: "I have learned to say to myself:

Take away the love of God, and you take away everything.' The Bible sets forth the revelation of that love, or it is good for nothing." It is on this love, or on the living God himself revealed by Christ in love, that Mr. Maurice builds his theology. "They may build their theology upon certain deductions of the intellect, or upon certain individual consciousnesses; mine rests on the eternal love which overlooks all distinctions, which embraces the universe." This resting immediately on the love of God, on God as revealed in Christ, and not on any human speculations about God, takes his theology, he holds, entirely out of the region of speculative theology, and makes it a practical matter with every man. The reasonings and abstractions of scientific theology are rendered unnecessary. "This faith is not notional, but practical; not for this and that man, but for mankind."5 He loves John's Gospel above

all, because it

1 Thcological Essays (Redfield's Am. ed.), p. 7. 3 Ibid., p. 9.

p. 115.

• Ibid.,

4

2 Ibid., p. 5.

5 Ibid., p. 320.

is thus practical, and delivers us from systematic theology. "If theology is a collection of dry husks, the granaries which contain those husks will be set on fire, and nothing will quench the fire till they be consumed. It is just because I find in St. John the grain which those husks sometimes conceal, for which they are sometimes a substitute; it is just because theology in his Gospel offers itself to us as a living root, out of which all living powers, living thoughts, living acts may develop themselves; it is just because there is nothing in him that is abstract, because that which is deep and eternal proves itself to be deep and eternal, by entering into all the relations of time, by manifesting itself in all the common doings of men; it is therefore, I believe, that he makes his appeal, not to the man of technicalities, not to the school doctor, but to the simple wayfarer, and at the same time to the man of science who does not forget that he is a man, and who expects to ascertain principles only by the honest method of experiment."1

"I conceive that Gospel [John's] is nothing more nor less than the setting forth how Jesus Christ proved himself, in human flesh, to be that Word of God in whom was life, and whose life was the light of men, who had been in the world, and by whom the world was made, and whom the world knew not; how in that flesh he manifested forth the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father; how he manifested the fulness of grace and truth. It is because the theology of St. John comes forth in these human facts, that I affirmed it to be a theology not merely different from the systematic school theology, but the great deliverance from it."2

This Johannean theology, so pure and simple, which he considers to be the last and highest expression of Christian truth, beyond the sphere of analysis or speculation, he heartily adopts. His own view of it, which forms the keynote to all his theological teachings, may perhaps be thus succinctly stated: God has truly revealed himself in Christ, 2 Ibid., p. 25.

1 Commentary on St. John's Gospel, p. 3.

so that he may be really known and loved. The divine love, or in other words, the living and loving God, was actually manifested in Christ as the light and life of all men. He did actually descend into all humanity, and does form the real ground of every man's sonship with God the Father, redeeming our human nature from its godlessness, selfishness, sin, and death. The Christian life is only a true recognition of, or awakening unto, this great fact, that God is united to us in Christ to redeem us. The church is the brotherhood of those who have already made the glad discovery of this truth, who have opened their eyes to see this Light which is come into the world and into their own souls.

This gives but a general and imperfect idea of Mr. Maurice's scheme of theology. We cannot now notice the num berless modifications, varied expressions, and careful shadings and guardings whereby his views are defended from the charge of heretical breadth and novelty, or of being a new gospel, and especially of being another form of Unitarianism. But we proceed to a more particular statement of our author's theological opinions.

CHRIST AND THE ATONEMENT.

""

Maurice recognizes the fact that the world's faith is more and more settling around Christ as the central object of faith, as personal God and Redeemer. Neander, the greatest theologian of this century, has taught us to see that faith in the incarnate God is the life-seed of religion; and that God was not only "manifest in the flesh as an outer historic fact, but that through all ages, God is constantly manifesting and revealing himself as one with man's spirit in the inner Christian consciousness. The union of divinity with humanity in Christ is the essential truth of faith. This truth this marvellous fact of the real union of God with man in the human and divine personality of Christis where Mr. Maurice plants himself. He looks upon it as a fact accomplished, ever present, ever efficient, and eternal.

VOL. XXII. No. 88.

83

Christ has taken the nature of every man.1 Christ the Son is the express image of God the Father, and after this image of Christ man has been formed; so that every man's nature possesses, in some true sense, a divine likeness and sonship.2 "Do we not really believe that Christ was, before he took human flesh and dwelt among us? Do we not suppose that he actually conversed with prophets and patriarchs, and made them aware of his presence? Or is this a mere arid ' dogma, which we prove out of Pearson, and which has nothing to do with our inmost convictions, with our very life? How has it become so? Is it not because we do not accept the New Testament explanation of these appearances and manifestations; because we do not believe that Christ is in every man the source of all light that ever visits him, the root of all the righteous thoughts and acts that he is ever able to conceive or do?" 8

"I conceive that we have the highest warrant for believ ing that St. Paul's special work was to carry this message to the nations, to tell men that the Son of God was in them; that he was the real head and root of their humanity; that apart from him they had no life or righteousness or unity at all; to bring out this fact in relation to the experiences of their own minds, to the facts of history, to the calling of the chosen people, to their law, to the order of society, to the past, present, future condition of the world. He was to show how our Lord's incarnation, his death, resurrection, ascension, bore upon and explained his relation to human beings, expounded the riddle of their own existence, confuted the innumerable evidences which outward and inward facts seemed to oppose to a belief in his actual fellowship with them and dominion over them."4

By such passages, and multitudes that might be quoted, it is evident that Mr. Maurice lays peculiar stress upon the general truth of the incarnation, of the manifestation through Christ, of divinity in humanity, of Christ's common headship

1 Theological Essays, p. 96. 8 Ibid., p. 49.

2 Ibid.,

p. 96.

The Unity of the New Testament, p. 353.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »