Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

to this divine Life that has already come, a heartfelt reception of this divine Light that has already risen.1 He who thus opens his eyes to the Light, who discovers that Christ is in him to redeem him, is new-born. He lives from that moment the new life of Christ. He is delivered from the old, separate, and selfish life, and shares the divine life of Christ, which is in the holy will of God.

[ocr errors]

SIN AND THE FALL.

From what has preceded we may see that our author's view of sin would diverge, perhaps radically, from the current evangelical belief. Looking at man more in the light of a child of God, or a partaker of God's sonship in Christ, than in the light of a subject of God as a moral governor, his estimate of sin becomes modified. Instead of being regarded as a violation of the express law of God, as an actual crime committed against an infinite Ruler, and punishable with an infinite condemnation, sin is held to be a a state of spiritual separation from God, through wilful ignorance of our relations to him, or through absorption in worldly and sensual things. It is, at all events, a state rather than an act. It does not belong to man's nature or being. It is not part of his substance; it is an accident and an anomaly of his human condition. Sin is a state of not knowing or loving God, whose love is the great law of our being; and men's burden of sin consists in "a sense of separation from a being to whom they ought to be united, apart from whom they could not live."2 As to the origin of sin, or the fall, Mr. Maurice combats the common ideas of it. He considers "the great error and denial of our time to be the denial that man continued to be in the image of God after the fall; and following this, the denial that man was originally created in the divine Word, and that apart from him Adam, or any other man, could have any righteousness." He sup poses that man never originally possessed an independent

2 St. John's Gospel, Dis. Iv. p. 48.

1 St. John's Gospel, Dis. vII.

8 Patriarchs and Lawgivers, p. ix.

innocency or righteousness, but was holy only as reflecting the holiness of God, as being made "in his likeness," as standing in true relations to God. The fall itself, he thinks, consisted simply in man's ceasing to acknowledge that he was made in the image of God, that he did possess his righteousness, and not any of his own. It was breaking the law of fellowship with God, and setting up a selfish claim and life. It was separating from God, and thus falling under the dominion of nature. A selfish existence away from God is the fall of man. And every man's sin now, he holds, is precisely the same as that of Adam's. The restoration from the fall is the renovation of our selfish and natural will to acknowledge God's likeness and will within

us.

RESURRECTION AND JUDGMENT.

Linking man's resurrection with that of Christ, who has made himself one with man in life and death and all things, Mr. Maurice holds that the New Testament resurrection by virtue of Christ's resurrection, takes place at the time of death.2 But death must be distinguished from all ideas of the grave. The mortal body of flesh and blood laid down in the grave, the prey of corruption, is not to be the raised body. The immortal body is the soul in its proper state, a "spiritual body," an incorruptible essence, the real man himself raised or delivered altogether from mortality, death, and sin, and having now nothing more to do with the body of sinful flesh, left altogether and forever behind.3 It is like Christ's raised body, that was made entirely free from the bondage of death, by the victory of the spirit over the flesh. This deliverance of the soul at death from a fleshly body, to assume its own proper body, relieves Mr. Maurice from the necessity of holding to the actual separation of soul from body at death, so that they must continue apart until the resurrection, or to any general future resurrection. The

1 Patriarchs and Lawgivers,p. 55.

8 Ibid., p. 129.

VOL. XXII. No. 88.

2 Theological Essays, p. 129.

St. John's Gospel, Dis. XXVIII. p. 446.

84

scriptural resurrection is considered to be an impressive representation of the moment when man experiences his immortality, or the full revelation of God and of eternal things, above all at the moment of death. "And everything which warned a man that such a day was at hand, which roused him to seek for light, and to fly from darkness, was a note of the archangel's trumpet; a voice bidding him awake, that Christ the Lord of his spirit might give him light. And in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, by a fit of apoplexy, by the dagger of an assassin, the vesture of mortality which hides the light from it, might drop off from him, and he might be changed. What had merely seemed to him as some common earthly note of preparation for death, would then be recognized as the archangel's trumpet calling him to account, asking him whether the light that had been vouchsafed to him, while shadows were still about him, had been faithfully used, or whether he had loved darkness rather than light, because his deeds were evil?" 1

Connected also vitally with Christ, the judgment is, in our author's estimation, an inward and spiritual, rather than an outward and formal transaction. The Spirit of Christ, ever present in men, reproves and judges them; presenting to them a perfect standard of life, and disciplining their moral sense, by arousing in them the love and fear of God.2 The judgment of God does not demand, he thinks, any literal trial, any general day of solemn adjudication, but is something even now taking place, something eternal in its nature. At the close of the chapter on judgment, in his Theological Essays, he says: "Do we not require a redemption of all that is human from its chargeable accidents: a judgment and separation which shall come from the revelation of him who has redeemed and glorified our whole humanity, between that in us which is his, and that which we have con tracted by turning away from him? Do we not ask for a day in which light and darkness, life and death, shall never be mingled or confounded again? Is their any one who seri2 Gospel of St. John, Dis. XII.

1 Theological Essays, p. 134.

ously believes that it is a day of twenty-four hours in duration which we are thus expecting? Is it not one which has dawned on the world already, which our consciences tell us we may dwell in now, which therefore scripture and reason both affirm must wax clearer and fuller till he who is the Sun of Righteousness is felt to be shining everywhere, and till there is no corner of the universe into which his beams have not entered?" 1

In the italicised passage we have Mr. Maurice's idea of the judgment—that it is the full revelation of Christ in his relations to us, showing how truly he is made one with us, and showing us how far we have unbelievingly closed our hearts against him, and live a Christless and worldly life. It may be seen how faithful our author is in all his views to this theory of religion, consisting in a revelation or discovery. The judgment is a manifestation. It is the full and perfect indwelling of Christ, and of ourselves likewise, in our eternal relations to him. This idea is brought out in the following passage: "For we must all [not appear, but] BE MADE MANIFEST before the tribunal of Christ." A time must come when it will be clearly discovered to all men what their state was while they were pilgrims in this world; that they were in a spiritual relation, just as much as they were to those visible things of which their senses took cognizance. That which has been hidden will be made known; the darkness will no longer be able to quench the light which has been shining in the midst of it, and seeking to penetrate it; each man will be revealed as that which he actually is, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."2 The full discovery, probably at death, to their shame or joy, of men's actual relations to Christ, wherein they have, or wherein they have not, rightfully recognized these relations, and lived in them, constitutes, according to our author's idea, the real judgment.

1 Theological Essays, p. 235.

* Ibid., p. 227.

[ocr errors]

ETERNAL LIFE AND DEATH.

Mr. Maurice complains that there is a universal disposition to dogmatize upon the word "eternal," and to connect it invariably, in some way, with the idea of time. This was, he asserts, precisely the Judaic tendency in Christ's day, and which Christ reproved. "The sense of eternity of a relation to the eternal God, to a Father of spirits — had almost forsaken these Jews. The sense of time of a series or succession of years—had displaced every other in their minds; they could contemplate nothing, except under conditions of time."1 Mr. Maurice holds that the idea of eternity excludes, especially and altogether, any idea of time, or of a continuation, succession, or duration of time.2 He distinguishes, generically, the word "eternal" from the words "endless" and "everlasting." In his correspondence with Dr. Jelf, principal of King's College, he says: "I did not like, you perceived, the word "everlasting" as well as the word "eternal"; I could bear the one; I stumbled at the other. I am sorry you spent so much time in seeking for this test. I could have told you at once, if you had asked me, that the word "eternal" seemed to me a better equivalent for the word aivos than everlasting. Since aetas is the obvious translation for alúv, the cognate Latin adjective seems peculiarly suitable to express the cognate Greek adjective Since there is nothing that apparently corresponds to the Greek substantive in the Saxon adjective, it must, I should conceive, offer a less adequate substitute. The passages which you have collected to show how closely the use of alov is connected in the New Testa ment, with the use of alúvios greatly favors this conclusion. I was so convinced, on this ground, of the superiority of the Latin derivation, that I ventured to complain of our translators for joining with it the word everlasting in Matt. xxv. 46. My main objection, indeed, was to the ambiguity

1 St. John's Gospel, Dis. xvII. p. 256.

2 Theological Essays, p. 325.

[ocr errors]
« FöregåendeFortsätt »