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“ The devil is that objective person, whose reality is the sum of all subjective seductions, or temptations to evil, viz., those of bad spirits, and those of the corrupted soul itself. These bad spirits, sometimes called Legion, together with our own bad thoughts, are all gathered up into a great king of art and mischief, and called the devil.”
Our “ sin is all gathered up with its roots and causes into the Bad King conceived to be reigning without,” that being thus objective and for our study as another and most unholy person, we may enter into contest with it, in our convictions and repentings, as the dog flies at the hideous reflection of himself in the glass.
This theory is not supported, except by certain peculiar views of the author on language, and published more in full in his God in Christ. He does not here support himself by any reference to authorities, not even an able Universialist or a Tübingen theologian. We are in some doubt why the devil is so slighted and ignored. Would his continuous existence “in everlasting chains” subject God to everlasting sorrow on his account? For a fundamental principle of this book is that God is in necessary pity for all his enemies. “God's eternal character has a cross in it, a sorrowing, heavily burdened mercy for his enemies, a winning and transforming power, which it is their new-creation to feel.” p. 475. See also pp. 42, 50—1, 314, 318, 374. Or would his continued existence subject Christ to an unending sorrowful exercise of vicarious love and sympathy for him? For another fundamental principle of the book is, that Christ is obligated to make his love and sympathy vicarious for all in evil case, to the extent of their need and his ability to meet it. Or is the devil thus thrust from sight, as a being flatly denying, by his healthy, vigorous and active powers, the theory that punishment is necessarily dwarfing to the subject, and constantly bringing him down to idiocy and imbecility, and to an approximating but never arriving nonenity? However much Satan may have been reduced in this line during those thousands of penal years, preceding the Christian era, it is evident that at the close of the sacred canon, his yet gigantic proportions would cast a long shadow of doubt over this notion.
According to this new view, Michael is exposed to some sus
picions, both as to what he was morally, and what he did personally, in that contest about the body of Moses. As the devil is but the aggregation of our own base thoughts, seductions, temptations and corruptions, joined in with bad spirits, constituting an objective reality, and for convenience likened to a second and hostile person, Michael must have drawn sword against himself on that occasion. And his objective self, his reflected or second moral personality, must have appeared to himself so depravedly hideous in the mirror, that he thought it to be the devil. This is not very complimentary to the archangel ; at least, he or our author suffers by this interpretation.
In showing yet farther that the author of this work is really reconstructing our entire Calvinistic system, some brief reference is due to his view of the demerit of sin, and of the object of punishment. He discards the idea that sih deserves punishment from its own inherent demerit. " Is it
“Is it any fit conception of God's justice that he will put evil upon a wrong doer, just because he is bad, and according to his badness, apart from all uses to the man himself, or to others, or to the government he violates ?” “ There is no such thing in God, or any other being, as a kind of justice which goes by the law of desert, and ceases to be justice when ill desert is not exactly matched by suffering." p. 270.
We think this vitiates a foundation. The final cause of rewards and punishments from God is to be found in himself, more than in the subject or the public. He has infinite moral perfection, and so his approbation of good and disapprobation of evil must be with him a constitutional and absolute feeling. He must love holiness and hate sin, for their intrinsic character, and this loving and hating must become active and manifest in. law and government. They must take the form of administrative justice. If God could not act out his feeling toward holiness and sin in the creature, he could not reveal himself or obtain manifestation. The inutility of the sinful act must be a secondary consideration, and so must the good of the public or the reformation of the transgressor.
The final cause of punishment is the manifestation of God. Its uses to creatures are incidental.
The humble Christian consciousness of one suffering divine
penalty agrees to this, that his ill desert calls for it, and not his nor the public good. There is a school, with whose views those of the author coincide to a large extent, who teach that all the punitive acts of God are reformatory, and preventive of sin in the community. They even object to the phrase, divine punishment, and would call it discipline. Out of this school has grown a morbid sympathy for criminals, a hostility to criminal · law, and a mistaken philanthropy to mitigate and soften away penal inflictions, and a straining and abuse of the pardoning power. Crime with such is rather a mistake, the convict is a victim of society ; and the effort is to turn public sympathy toward outlaws. They believe in the final restoration of all men to virtue and heaven, and deny the existence of a personal devil. They can not see that there is any “such thing in God, or any other being, as a kind of justice that goes by the law of desert.” We regard Dr. Bushnell's reasoning on this topic of punishment as strengthening this school; nor, with his added view of the obligations of God and Christ to show sympathy for all in evil condition, so far as needed and so long as possible, do we see how this theory can result other than in the final restoration of all men.
It is true he declares against this; but premises being once granted, logic is inexorable, and has little regard to the consistency, or the feelings, or the purposes of an author. If love and sympathy necessarily, and of obligation, flow out from God and Christ toward all in sorrow; if 6 Christ came just because the law he had been in from eternity sent him ;" p. 315; if “ he was God fulfilling the obligations of God;" p. 58; if " there is a cross in God before the wood is seen upon Calvary ; hid in God's own virtue itself, struggling on heavily in burdened feeling through all the previous ages, and struggling as heavily now even in the throne of the worlds ;” p. 73; if we must " assume that Christ, in his vicarious sacrifice, was under obligation to do and suffer just what he did ; exactly this ;” p.
and “suffers what he ought to suffer ;” p. 109; then why may we not suppose that some time, far down it may be in the αιώνας των αιώνων, this eternal obligation lying on Christ to suffer vicariously for all in need will work itself out in the salvation of all men? Unless lost man be stronger than one mighty to save, how can it be otherwise? Nay more, how shall divine obligation discharge itself, or the sorrow and agony in the divine mind find relief and end, except in the restoration of even the fallen angels, and Satan himself ? If Christ would have lost character by refusing to redeem man, how can he maintain it while refusing to redeem angels?
In all this salvation by obligation, what becomes of salvation by grace? True, it is grace towards us, for we had no claim ; but on his part it is only meeting obligation, a debt, a due, to the eternal law of right. He has done that which was his duty to do. “ Doth he thank that servant, because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.”
The language and spirit of this volume, as bearing on the attribute of divine justice, require a special reference. We do not think the author is conscious, how strongly repugnant to this attribute his feelings and expressions are.
The vehemence, petulance, acrimony, and irony, so commonly manifested toward it, are a blemish marked and bold in the book.
The style here reminds one of the workings of the natural heart under conviction, after the commandment has come and sin revived. Eternal justice stands in the way of this new scheme of atonement, and greatly to the discomfort of the author. His varied declamations against it remind us of the remark of Socinus, the great predecessor of Dr. Bushnell in this theory : “If we could but get rid of this justice, even if we had no other proof, that fiction of Christ's satisfaction would be thoroughly exposed, and would vanish." A few of the phrases of our author concerning the attribute will indicate his feelings :
“A God, back of the worlds, whose indignations overtop his mercies, and who will not be satisfied, save as he is appeased by some other, who is in a better and milder feeling.” p. 72. “ The prior right of justice, that mercy shall not come in, only as she pays a gate-fee for the right of entrance.” p. 276. “I see no honor accruing to God's justice when it mortgages his whole nature besides.” p. 288.
“ The wrath that is to bridle and bestride everlastingly his will and council.” p. 381. “Having a good mortgage title to pain or suffering as against an offender, he will never let go the title till he gets the pain, if not from him, then from some other.” p. 491. “The blood of slaughter, signifying that God is reconciled only when sin draws blood.”
513. Christ 6 is no quantitative matter, like a credit set in a book, or a punishment graduated by satisfaction."
p. 214. p. 161.
6 God's wrath, that could be assuaged only by his blood.”
“ Is it the truest firmness of justice, that it is itself fast bound by the letter, having no liberty but to exact precisely the pound of flesh, suffering no reduction ?" p. 281.
Though some of these expressions are caricatures only of the notions Dr. Bushnell would refute, they indicate a very deep hostility to the governing attribute of the Almighty, as evangelical Christendom has conceived of it, the attribute of justice, “whose seat is the bosom of God, and whose voice is the harmony of the world.”
As we run our critique over these pages we feel that we are doing a work that ought not to have been imposed on any defender of the evangelical system. A production so at variance from our standards, and so subversive of the fundamental doctrines of orthodoxy, ought not to have assumed the position and signature of the Calvinistic faith. The volume would have entered on a more honorable career had its title corresponded with its contents, and its Introduction announced its departures. Then its origin would have precluded the necessity of examining and exposing it, as a nominally orthodox book. It is its source, and not its doctrines, that now call for notice; and in the present united working and abundant evangelical labors, providentially imposed on our denomination, it should have been spared the painful toil of saving the untaught from this reviving and clustering of eflete heresies, and of assuring other faiths that these things which can not be shaken among us do yet remain. With unfeigned sorrow we turn aside to do the work that the author compels.
But it is time we were done with this book. With all our pointed, and yet we trust candid and kindly criticisms, we find much in it to admire. An excellent duodecimo could be taken out of it. The rare good qualities of the author abound in it, making our regrets more deep for its errors. It is a growth, a development of Dr. Bushnell, and in perfect consistency with his earlier volumes. So far as it treats of the fallen nature of . man, and regeneration, the germs are in his Christian Nurture, and all its other leading thoughts are found seminally, in his God in Christ, and his Christ in Theology. We mark no real addition.