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former—which is not true if God has any angels. Dr. Hedge rejects the original purity and subsequent fall of man. He gives us " Optimism" as the key to the mystery of evil:
"All partial evil, universal good." That evil produces good is one thing ; so it may be " the bitter, biting oil which makes the flavor of the orange and the peach." That evil actually is good is simply false. Evil may be "a part of the process of which good is the end." So Judas was a part of the process of which redemption was the end. But no true Christian faith teaches that either Judas or any moral " evil is good undeveloped.” This is putting e darkness for light;" the Satanic sophistry too transparent even for self-deception
“ Evil be thou my good :" a fit philosophy only for one who is compelled, like Milton's fallen seraph, to make the despairing confession :
all good to me is lost." We would not do Dr. Hedge the injustice to charge him with a downright affirming of this naked absurdity. "It is all for the best,” has a true Christian meaning which does not deny the reality of actual and everlasting wrong. But this can not be his interpretation of the "homely phrase" to which he subscribes. He is extremely obscure at this point, confronting a terrible fact for which he finds no satisfactory cause or explanation.
Sin is defined as a "wronged consciousness . .. defection from the inner, holy self.” " If a man could suddenly believe in sincerity that he was moral, he would be so": thus Novalis, as quoted approvingly. Therefore " sin ceases when the consciousness thereof ceases. . . Devils (if such exist) are sinless."
129. Our author can see nothing in sin but a negation of good; we hardly understand how he can see so much, on his optimist theory. He calls it a negative state of the soul, as death is of the body—"a stoppage of breath.” Yet, "the pang of conscious guilt is no illusion.” But, if the guilt lie all in the consciousness, the quickest way to sanctification would seem to be through such a hardening of the soul in evil as to bring it to the sinless state of devils ! Some appear to be fast
reaching that nadir of the spiritual sphere. Are we here also, on the borders of modern Perfectionism?
How all this squares with the "enmity against God” of the epistles, which looks much like a positive hostility to his holiness, we pause not to determine. Tantamount to this philosophy of sin is his doctrine of regeneration : "rally your faith in all the ideals : rally the good in the depths of thyself.” p. 139. Our readers may be violently reminded of an ingenious device for a man's lifting himself over a stone wall.
The chapter on Death takes an entirely unscriptural view of that topic. It maks this a thoroughly normal thing, expressive of no displeasure in God at man or his sinfulness. It is no more an object of dread to him than to a brute or a withering leaf. Religion ” has made the natural man a coward about what is only the sunsetting of the present life. But how of tomorrow?
Dr. Hedge allows that Immortality is the subject of general human hope. Yet, the analogies in nature prove nothing ; nor does the wish of the soul. But the sense of moral obligation in the soul, contradicting at so many points its instincts, involves "a problem which requires immortality for its solution. The law of duty is not calculated for earthly limitations. The obedience it requires supposes an immortal nature.” As for the notion of the resurrection of the body, it only survives in the creeds of Christendom, not in its thought.
Thus closes the department of "Religion within the bounds of Theism.” If it be painfully barren of ennobling, invigorating truths, we should bear in mind that this writer everywhere flouts the idea of a theology taught by nature, affirming that the delusion so expressed should be exploded, that all religion is necessarily that which is revealed. We turn then with sharpened appetite to the chapters on " Rational Christianity.”
Concerning a written revelation from God, the ground is assumed that " our evidence that any particular writing is from God can never be stronger than the evidence of reason for or against the matter contained in it." p. 202.
p. 202. "This momentous principle — the very kernel of Protestantism,” thus asserts the supremacy of reason not only over matters which are on a level with its powers, but also over facts which lie beyond
ing so ness."
its scope of investigation and cognition. It not only gives reason jurisdiction over the proposition that two and two make four and not five, but that there can not be " three persons
in one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.” That this supreme enthronement of reason was never the kernel of Protestantism” everybody knows who has read its confessions of faith from the beginning. But to adopt any other construction of the jurisdiction of reason than this, is with our author" bibliolatry," " fetichism," a slavish dependence on the says-so of an individual.” Our true Scripture is "the oracle within, the answer of the Holy Ghost which the listening, wait
receives in the innermost recesses of her own conscious205. Yet, reason can not inform us of
fundamental truths in religion, not even of a God. p. 208. "All true religion is revealed religion.” What then is revelation ? It is education of reason and heart. p. 209. "Faith is no critic." It takes what is set before it, asking no questions. Education must ask the questions, and separate the precious from the vile. In this light, Paul is affirmed to have been the true type and forerunner of the rationalizing and liberalizing Christian, the proto-Abelard and Unitarian of the ages.
It is interesting, at this point to note that Dr. Hedge, as if fearful of the license which he has given to the "inner light,” which may very easily be only the inner darkness, puts in a plea for a conscientious, reverential, critical spirit in working out these individual " revelations” of religious truth, a positive and loving spirit, not a negative and destructive. What Whately says of some people's " following the dictates of their consciences,” has an equal application here : they do this only in the sense in which a person, driving in a carriage wherever he pleases, may be said to follow his horses. This will hardly answer, even in our author's judgment. The educated soul, that is, the personal bible, must do its task carefully, or the consequences, to put it mildly, may be disagreeable.
But what of Jesus Christ? The Athanasian view was true against the Arian; p. 238: and was not true in itself. The essential deity of Christ is denied as destroying, ex necessitate, his humanity. The Arian Christ was an abnormal product of which we can form no notion ; with which we can have no sympathetic relations. Christ was purely a man.
Yet he was "God-man ” in the sense of a union, through him, of humanity with God. "God and man are one in Christ." "God and man are one -are formulas to which our author assents in a " deep interior sense.” " God and man are one in the selfconsciousness of the Spirit.” pp. 238-9. This is, in reality, a flat rejection of the historic Christ of the Gospels.
While the apostolic view recognized the pure human nature alone of the Son of God with these variations of a quasi divinity, according to our present guide, the church, we are informed, found it necessary in a short time to give the converted pagans some kind of a tangible and mixed Deity to fasten upon by faith, in place of the discrowned divinities of their old worship. Hence, to meet this sensuous state of thiugs, the Christ of the Gospel narratives was provided—his birth, struggles, triumphs, death, and so forth, answering very nearly to their former mythological ideas. Thus the orthodox views were a blessing, for the time. But, that exigency of the world being passed, we are coming back to the apostolic Unitarianism, as fast as perhaps could reasonably be expected. Now that the race is putting away its " childish things ”in its advancing adolescence, the doctrine of Christ's pure and simple manhood is all which is needed.
The Holy Spirit, likewise, is objectively the one God, our Father, in the manifestation of truth and love. Subjectively, it is man's " divine instinct,” his " dæmon," or "good genius.” " Grieve not the Spirit” means ; " Be true to your higher instincts."
Religion is spiritual, but must have its " letter.” The churches which have the most of the letter of sacrament, ordinance, rite, are “strongest, not only in the way of efficient action and ecclesiastical power, but strongest in spiritual vitality": only, the letter must not be mere letter, but spiritualized by the divine instinct within us.
Salvation by works is impossible, because obedience must then be perfect. But this can not be. Therefore, salvation is by faith ; in other words, not by what a man does, but by what he is. By faith in what? In himself. "Confidence in one's own salvation, is salvation.” p. 328. This is regarded as the doctrine of Paul and Luther. Far enough is this from their teaching
It reminds us much more of a popular theory of a "Higher Life” frequently met with, of late, in religious works of a certain class, and in the teachings of some revivalist preachers, making saving faith to consist in a sentiment of self-persuasion.
Atonement by sacrifice or expiation is a pagan delusion. The biblical language so representing it is "figurative not dogmatic,” derived from heathen sources. The Gospel is a message of love and pardon direct from God. There is no other grace than this. The idea of satisfaction is regarded as necesarily antagonistic to that of grace.
“Nothing in the history of opinions is more marvellous than that Christian theologians should fail to see, that by treating Christ's death as the satisfaction of a debt, whether in the sacrificial sense of expiation, or the governmental sense of a shift or compromise, they rule out of Christianity precisely that which constitutes its most distinctive feature —grace. . . . Instead of living under a dispensation of grace, we are under a dispensation of inexorable law. Instead of a Heavenly Father, we have only a Hebrew Jehovah or Olympian Jove." pp. 334, 335.
This passage strikingly reminds us of some readings, a few years ago, of a very similar character, in however a quite different quarter. We will quote briefly, before offering a remark or two in reply to this objection.
“Pardon is the gracious remission of deserved penalty. But according to this theory, the penalty is not, and in no case can be remitted; it is, and must be, in every instance of sin, endured to the last jot or tittle, either by the sinner, in his own person, or in the person of his substitute. . . There is no longer any penalty due to the sin, and of course there is none to remit. The non-infliction of penalty in such a case is, in no proper sense of the word, pardon. It is an act of justice, not of grace. The believer can boldly claim it as a right, and need not humbly sue for it as a gracious favor. . . The believer's exemption from punishment is not due, directly, to an act of divine sovereign grace, but to a mere act of divine justice; and is only what he can, and should, unhindered by a false humility,' demand as his right.”l
This elaborated statement of the precise position defended by Dr. Hedge, is more distinctly given in another recent work from a yet more distinguished pen.
1 Bibliotheca Sacra : “The Necessity of the Atanement," by Daniel T. Fisk D. D. Val. XVIII. pp. 303, 304.