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mately upon the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, wherein is expressed that highest, deepest, most perfect unity which the spirit of men in all ages has been seeking after and longing to find."1 As to the peculiar work of the church in this world, he says: "The church, it seems to me, exists in the world as a witness to mankind that there is a continual, divine, gracious government over it; as a witness to each nation that God is not less king over it than he was over the Jews; that there has been a more complete revelation of his government, of the mode in which it is carried on, of the purposes which it designs to accomplish, than that which was made in the old time, but one which does not in the least set that revelation aside or make it obsolete for us. The church is to tell men that the more completely divine any government is, the more human it is; that it belongs to all circumstances, ordinary interests, actual business. The church is to tell men, that if God was a Redeemer of old, he is a Redeemer now; that if he was the judge of kings, priests, nobles, in old times, if he called them to account for their cruelties, punished them for their superstitions, reproved them for their exactions, he does so still. The church is to tell men, that if God in other days took cognizance of the bag of deceitful weights and of the sins of the employer who kept back by fraud the wages of the laborer, he does so still. The church is to teach men that society exists for the sake of the human beings who compose it, not to further the accumulation of the capital, which is only one of its instruments. The church is to declare that any civilization which is not based upon this godly principle will come utterly to nought; that all the real blessings which have flowed from it have proceeded from the acknowledgment of this principle; all the curses which have accompanied the growth of wealth and luxury, from the forgetfulness of it. The church is to declare that the spiritual and eternal kingdom which God has prepared for them that love him is about men now, 1 Letters to Rev. W. Palmer. p. 7.
and that they may enter into it; and that his government of this spiritual and eternal world does not make him less interested for the earth which he has formed for the habitation of man, in which he watches over him and blesses him." In a word, the church is to strive not only for the spiritual, but physical and social regeneration of the world. This is the principle of that strenuous and generous activity of Maurice and his school, in all matters of educational and civil reform. He would seek to improve men as men, and to bring out in free and joyful action all their powers of being. He recognizes all the laws of man's nature as God's laws. He would call forth a large and noble type of Christian manhood. He has, we believe, proved himself a friend of freedom, in these days when the principle of freedom is undergoing a trying test. He would bring men up far above worldly ideas of living, of legislation, of morals, to the full realization and perfect development of his functions, rights, and enjoyments as a child of God, in that righteous and universal kingdom of God which is even now come among men. He considers this kingdom to be given to all men, or to be one in which, by baptism, we may all register our names and those of our children, and Christ will welcome us.1 He looks upon Christ as the personal centre of the church, infinitely above human opinions and ecclesiastical systems, and in whom there is a real unity and headship of the whole church, or rather of the whole race. It must be added, that these broad views are often lamentably obscured in Mr. Maurice's writings, by much that is bred of a prouder and more exclusive spirit of high-church Anglicanism.
We may have failed to give a correct delineation of the theological system of our author, but it appears to us, through all its eloquent obscurity and haze, to be quite a simple one. It has, in truth, but one main idea, viz. that all religion, all truth, all living Christianity, is but the revela
1 Patriarchs and Lawgivers, p. xx. 2 Christmas and other Sermons, p. 80.
tion of that which is already accomplished for and in us. No new thing is to be done. There is no new act to be performed on the part of God, and no actual new birth or total change of the nature to be done or effected on the part of man. We are but to discover and to yield ourselves unto what is true and eternal in us. Our highest duty and our supreme attainment is simply knowledge. God is love; and we may and should all know this loving God. God has verily joined himself to us and wrought out our redemption in Christ, and we may and should all partake of and enjoy this divine life into which Christ has brought us. Christ is in us; our responsibility consists in not extinguishing this revelation of Christ within our souls by a separate, selfish, and sensual life, and in thus failing to find it. Our author inclines evidently to the belief that this life of God is so truly come within us, within the nature of every man, that it cannot be altogether and entirely extinguished. There is a depth of divine love in and toward man, below and beyond all the possible sin in man, so at least he hopes. Our impression is that he seeks to show what is the real essence of eternal misery, that it consists in a moral and spiritual separation from God. He would make this truth clear and operative to the conscience; and then he would leave it on this ground, for the present and the future.
But if a man were thus exposed to remain indefinitely, and perhaps everlastingly, in a state of ignorance and separation from God through sin, what would this redemption of every man in Christ, this actual union of every man to Christ, be worth to him? If the true knowledge of it never came to man, what would be the benefit of it to him? This is the practical difficulty with Mr. Maurice's whole theory, which he has never fairly met.
The personal, rather than the abstract view of God, prevails in Mr. Maurice's theology. The greatest work he has done as a theologian, is, we think, in bringing out the absolutely amiable, good, ineffable, and inexaustible loving nature of God, in opposition to many lamentably false views
of this. It is God really present with us, brought down into the life and daily needs of our nature, into our intimate and tender relations to him as his children. But has Mr. Maurice, after all, sounded the deeps of theology? Those great spiritual truths of divine sovereignty, law, vicarious sacrifice, pardon, reward and punishment, and their correlative truths of probation, free-will, sin, justification, which have tried the strength of the most profound minds in all ages, and which spring from God's infinite government over our spirits and prove the foundations of moral truth, laying their strong hands upon the conscience, and leading the soul, convinced and humbled, before the throne of the divine holiness, these certainly do not stand out clear in his theology, although he uses all these terms, and discusses these doctrines. We fear that a soul under his teaching would never wake from its sleep of sin to see the glorious things of which he tells. His system wants power to reach the entrenched heart of apathetic pride and sinful rebellion. It is, in fact, superficial.
Yet our hearts gladly acknowledge the love and penetration of a mind that sees much of God in every man; and that believes that there is in every man a certain instinctive yearning for the divine goodness, for that beautiful and divine perfection of humanity which Christ himself manifested. He gives scope to the feelings and affections, to those profound sympathies which prove that a true the ology has its seat in the heart even more than in the head.
We cannot but recognize in Mr. Maurice much that is noble, affectionate, and true. He is undeniably one of the leaders of that new and attractive phase of belief which is coming over the theological opinions of the age, softening some of the sterner features of the Calvinistic theology, making it less abstract and metaphysical, and more human, practical, and free. Whether this be a healthful change or no, Mr. Maurice, in the English world at least, is one of its most persevering exponents, and he derives his influence from this fact, rather than from any extraordinary original
genius. His views are silently permeating the theology of our day. Is it not well that they should be generally understood, and that we should strive to ascertain whether they be true or false?
He has, without question, said many quickening things, for which personally we would be forever grateful to him; and he has suggested, rather than developed or clearly estab lished, what would seem to be some important truths; but we do not think him able to construct a new theology, or to reconstruct the old. He has not the patient strength, nor the philosophic grasp of thought, for such a work. His kindly and earnest spirit cannot but be loved. But he has a method of putting old truths in such new lights, and so much of his writing on religious subjects has such a strange look, that we prefer to examine further before pronouncing it to be, in all respects, "the truth as it in Jesus."
Whatever, let us say in conclusion, affects the religion and the religious mind of England, powerfully affects us. Her great thinkers think for us. Such a man as Mr. Maurice, with his earnest, loving spirit, and his constant devotion to the higher supernatural truth, we cannot but listen to with an affectionate regard, even when he boldly goes against our fixed opinions and habits of thought; while at the same time we reject those thinkers springing from his own soil and school who reason from the low level of naturalism and human science solely, and who exhibit unmistakably the spirit of virulent hostility to the revealed word. And even in respect to him, whenever our religious instincts tell us that he has, in indefinable ways, emptied the gospel of its old, immutable precious, and saving power, of its very essence as the "word of life" and salvation to our souls, we will say, though sorrowfully, to him: "we must leave you and take the plain, obvious meaning of scripture, without equivocation, without refining upon it too much, without at times being able wholly to comprehend it, and rest our souls in peace and hope on the simple word of God.