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“Did Christ bear the legal penalty which was due to us ? many Calvinists reply. “No,' was the reply of Emmons; for after our penalty has been borne once, distributive justice forbids that it be borne the second time, and therefore, on this theory, our freedom from punishment results immediately from strict justice, not from Sovereign Grace.”
The difficulty thus urged against a true atonement, by this singular combination of theological interests, is less real than apparent. The fallacy which it involves is this—that it makes Christ's work of redemption a mere business or commercial transaction ; it places committed crime upon the level of a financial obligation. If a
If a pecuniary debt be once discharged, it can not again be collected. No one questions this. If, however, it were discharged by some third party, through pure benevolence, the released debtor might very well feel that an act of especial grace had put him under bonds of deep gratitude. But, to meet the objection more radically, Christ's satisfying his Father's law though an expiatory death does not obliterate the grace of salvation thereby, because sin has in it a moral demerit, a worthiness of punishment, a demand for retribution upon itself, which will ever make its pardon essentially gracious, no matter by what arrangement this pardon be effected. The idea and the reality of an intrinsically just exposedness to eternal wrath goes along so consciously with guilt under God's government, that, though Christ assumes the law-place of the sinner, in bearing his penalty, sufficiently to satisfy Divine justice in his forgiveness when penitent, the deliverance can
its character as an act of grace in the sovereignty of Heaven, or in the consciousness of the Christian. This doctrine does not frustrate the grace of God.” The objection here considered springs from a low and human conception of the whole subject. It is neither a biblical, a philosophical, or a soundly experimental view of it. The true solution of this question lies in a profounder region of thought, and takes up a more spiritual sense of the relations of God and a sinful race, than this popular but superficial cavil appears to have recognized. And here lies the trouble with all the varying shades of defective beliefs on this central doctrine of Atonement. Diminishing the claims of God's holy and eternal justice upon the sinner, getting rid of its grasp in some theory of mercy without a Mediator, or of general benevolence with a Mediator—" the governmental sense of a shift or compromise," as Dr. H. calls this semi-orthodox scheme; the gate is opened and the track graded to even so low and anti-biblical a plane of theological heresy as this volume develops. But to return to our analysis :
Park's Memoir of Nathaniel Emmons. pp. 388, 389.
Immortality, under the lights of revealed religion, is not a natural destiny, but a moral and spiritual result of Christ's union with humanity. It is not universal but special, not a heritage but an acquisition.” Most will enjoy it in future repose and bliss. The very wicked will have a sort of diffused, unconscious, unorganized life hereafter; no souls are utterly annihilated. Brute souls live on, in some form
so do all spiritual existences.
Looking further into this department of his theme, in a longer chapter than usual, bearing the title of a "Critique of Partialist and Universalist views of Penal Theology,” Dr. Hedge indulges himself at the outset with a libel of Orthodoxy. He says:
66 The first and last and only question which this system propounds to the individual is, how to escape the eternal damnation to which it supposes him doomed by the fact of his humanity; that is, by the measure of sinfulness proper to human nature as such. The question is, not how to escape the sin, but how to escape the damnation incurred by it."
387-8. We suspect that the writer of this sulphureous passage was very near the point, just then, of losing his customary equanimity ; from what cause, it would not be gracious in us to guess. We have too elevated an opinion of his intelligence to suppose that he believes that this jeu d'esprit is anything more than the stale stock-fling of his school which, to be sure, he should not have stooped to pick up and throw again at men who continually preach as earnestly, at least, and perhaps as rationally as himself, that "the aim of a true religion is, not to escape damnation, but to lay hold of everlasting life.” Passing this :
" If the reader would see this process of deterioration more fully set forth, we refer him to a former volume of this work: The Boston Review, III. 217—235. " Atonement-Steps Downward."
Universalism is pronounced to be wrong, for it thrusts eternal life and blessedness on those who have undergone no previous preparation for it. It makes that state of purity a mechanical result of the simple passage into another world. It
supposes an efficacy in death which we have no right to assume. p.
391. Restorationism also, is wrong, for it finds, says the Doctor, a medicinal virtue in the atinosphere of hell, that is, " lest the theological term should mislead, in the future transmundane penalties of sin, which may possibly belong to them, but of which we know nothing." p. 393. Partialism is opposed to the infinite love of Heaven, whether it be held on the ground (a) that God creates men to damn them ; which notion we conjecture must be some eccentricity of a German school of pessimism; or, (b) that God makes men so that some certainly will damn themselves. These theories, in just such hard terms as these, are laid at the door of "partialism” as being a part of its plan of moral government. It is hardly needful to say that neither expresses the catholic doctrine of the perdition of lost souls. We stand with Christ himself, when he said to some on whom the "wrath of God” should abide forever : "Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.”
The final result of this eschatological inquiry is—that many of the unprepared to die will be recovered to purity and God by future remedial influences, of not apparent character : that the utterly irrecoverable will be annihilated. "The soul, as a inoral agent and a conscious individuality, is extinct : as a monad it still survives. No longer a person, but a thing, its condition thenceforth is not a question of psychology, but of ontology."
This disposal of the utterly reprobate is sufficiently cool. A soul reduced to the monad-state, we take to be a skeleton-soul merely, denuded of its nerves, and its bones wired up
transmundane" collection of ontological specimens for the study of the curious. We dislike to write thus about so serious a matter, but the idea is not worthy of a rebutting argument. It is not an idea in any rational sense. One might understand what Mr. Hudson means by the gradual extinguishment of a lost spirit, like a spent candle. But the transmigration of a reasonable soul into a " thing,” insults all philosophy and human sensibility. It might be amiable in these writers thus to prepare a house of refuge, hereafter, for these profane Esaus, who for the morsel of sinful pleasure thus sell their birth-right; unless it shall result in blinding their eyes to the eternal truth of God's threatenings against just this rebellion under his jurisdiction. If there be an everlasting hell (and its necessity of late has been more generally felt than usual) we should not dare to attempt to quench it out with such enginery as this.
The Christian Examiner, in an article which has fallen under our eye since making this digest, characterizes this production of one of its own choragi as blemished by "irresolution and inconsistency.” Certainly the criticism is just. It is easy to find the cause of this weakness. It obviously comes of a desire to hold back the rushing car of unbelief from bearing its liberal passengers into utter infidelity. Hence the effort to work a brake, here and there, in a way which moves the chagrin of the more adventurous Reviewer. Thus, says Dr. Hedge: " We need the sign-external, supreme authority. We need the ultimate appeal of a given word to make our Christianity something more than a system of philosophy.” p. 456. Doubtless we do. Strange that the author does not see that, by his system, this is absolutely impossible. He knocks away all the foundations of that temple of faith. He can not stand on the sharp hill-side where he is clinging to the bushes. The Examiner is both consistent and resolute in announcing the upshot of all such sceptical rationalizing. It winds the whole into one credo: I believe " in the human soul as the reflex of God, and obedience to the laws which the soul reveals." This is the end of Unitarianism—self-faith, self-worship, man deified, the apotheosis of dust and ashes !
LITERATURE, ITS PLACE AND USES. Literature in the true use and generic acceptance of the word treats of the elementary human emotions, and the common, never changing interests of man. It is not that which is written for any class of men as such, but for each and for all. It is not that which is written for any specific purpose as a book of metaphysics or medicine. It does not address men as learners needing a knowledge of the rudiments, in order to a comprehension of the higher truths. It has no first principles for the child, and its higher generalizations for the man. It has no arithmetic for children, and its fluxions and calendars for mature minds. Like the truths of the kingdom of heaven it appeals at once to what is deepest in man; not to the intellect, not to the imagination, but to the spirit itself.
It matters but little whether it be in the garb of an ancient or a modern language, since it is conversant with the same primal interests of man. It matters little whether it be Greek or English, whether it be Tacitus or Clarendon, Livy's pictorial page, or Gibbon's stateliness and pomp; whether it be the Peloponesian war of Thucydides, or the thirty years' war of Schiller ; whether it be the Gallic campaigns of Cæsar, or the Peninsular war of Napier; whether it be Plutarch's masterpieces, or Izaak Walton's modern biographies ; whether it be Marathon, the Straits of Dover, or Hampton Roads ; whether it be the Persian fleet; the Armada, or the Merrimac. These themes, these histories, these biographies relate to the few simple vital and fundamental interests of all time, and make their appeal to the same human and eternal sentiments and passions. No matter when it was written, it can not see corruption. Though it be buried in the grave of languages long dead, it pushes aside the stone at the grave's mouth ; it breaks the seal and speaks to all who with affection and reverence can say, "My Master.” Forgotten past all recovery. may be the pronunciation of the syllables and the rhythm and accent of the periods where those universal thoughts are enshrined, yet all who will may hear them speak in the tongue in which they