페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

frequent, and self-torture by religious devotees is practiced in its most ingenious forms. Religious mendicancy abounds, and the highest merit is supposed to follow the greatest degree of filth. Chastity is the exception, not the rule; theft is almost universal ; and among the religious orders were, till the East India Company broke them up, bands of Thugs who decoyed victims to them for the parposes of murder and plunder. The suttee, or burning alive of widows, was only prohibited in 1829, and its prohibition almost excited an insurrection.

In whatever part of heathendom those virtuous heathen, in praise of whom infidel writers speak in such raptures, whose purity and morality, they tell us, far exceed those of Christian nations, may reside, we know not; but this much is certain, it is vain to look for them on the plains of Hindoostan, or among the worshipers of Brahma. Subtle and plausible as may be their schemes of philosophy, their doctrines are cruel and tyrannical, and their practice “earthly, sensual, devlish.” No redeeming feature exists in their system to make it other than loathsome, and the portraiture of them by the apostle (Romans i, 20–32) is so accurate that when Carey read it to some Brahmins, they accused him of attempting to palm upon them the result of his own observations as a divine rerelation. Its truth they acknowledged, but insisted that no writer eighteen hundred years before could have described them so accurately.

The adherents to this system of imposture and credulity, though confined to India almost exclusively, number about one hundred millions.

The East India Company, throughout its entire sway over the peninsula of India, rendered a quasi support and sanction to Brahminism. It did, indeed, suppress some of its worst outrages, but it protected by its officers and soldiers its festivals and temples, and made invidious distinctions between the Brahmin and the Christian native in its civil as well as its military service. The late mutiny, professedly originating in some alleged violation of the laws of caste by some of the English officers, opened the eyes of the British Government to the folly of sustaining a system of paganism so revolting in its character, and the British possessions in India being now under the control of the government instead of the East India Company, radical changes have been made, looking to the protection of the native Christians and the discountenancing of caste and the depraving scenes of the Hindoo festivals. The result of this benign and judicious legislation is already apparent in the great increase of inquirers and converts at most of the missionary stations, and the abandonment of caste openly by large numbers of respectable natives. Once freed from the oppression of this cruel system, and from the degrading influences of Brahminism, the shrewd, quick-witted Hindoo will soon by his intellectual powers achieve a position far in advance of what he has attained in the long ages of the past, and if those powers are sanctified by the religion of Christ, he may yet become the most efficient of God's heralds of salvation to a lost and perishing world.

cling ages of tion far inoo will soojences of

ART. VII.-ARMINIAN VIEW OF THE FALL AND

REDEMPTION.

It is a pleasant fact that our Calvinian brethren of the elder school, as their eyes become cleared of prejudice arising from want of information, express no little gratification that we are 80 orthodox on the subject of original sin and human depravity. The writer of a certain book not much known to fame, though locally popular with a portion of that class of theologians, and indorsed, in fact, by the Princeton Review, quotes some of our standard doctrinal statements and adds the following remarks: “The great matter of surprise is, that such correct and Scriptural views of man's fall and its farreaching results have been incorporated into a system otherwise Arminian.” He talks of our doctrine as an “attempt to mingle iron and clay," and of the “ great inconsistency of this attempt to patch Arminianism with shreds of Calvinistic doctrine.” Now, however it may be with this writer, his indorsing reviewer cannot but know that such language is about the reverse of historic truth. The doctrine of depravity and the fall, as central to an Arminian system, is older than Calvinism. It was a doctrine of the first three centuries of Christian history. It is not Arminians who have patched it into their system; it is Calvinists who have girt it round with predestination. The Augustinian and Edwardian innovations of predestination and necessitated will were not the orthodoxy of the early Church. Of these Calvinian novelties of predestination and fatalism we can mark the first introduction into the Church, just as we know the introduction of the Papal novelties of transubstantiation and the celibacy of the clergy. As the Reformers arrived at a purer Church by discarding the inventions of popery, so our Arminians arrived at a purer theology by eliminating the accretions of predestination. Both returned toward the simplicity and truth of the primitive ages. Both the Arminians and Wesley were conscious and boasted of the fact. We place ourselves upon the same vantage ground. Neology is with our brethren opposite; with us, are antiquity and genuine orthodoxy.

The doctrines of the fall, depravity, and redemption, as collected in systematic form from the scattered statements of Scripture, present, at first glance, a somewhat complex aspect. The simple Christian reader of the Bible will find and feel all their elements in the sacred word, and yet will find it difficult, without some patient study, even to comprehend them when presented in synthetic form. The master-workman in Christian truth feels the necessity, at successive periods, of review and revisal of the modes of statement in the light of fresh investigations, and especially in the light of the latest opposition. This is the benefit that the assaults of error confer upon truth: that they compel fresh and more fundamental investigations by its defenders, and thereby produce clearer views and more explicit statements.

Those doctrines are so plentifully assumed or stated in Scrip. ture in such varieties of form, that very few persons entertaining strict and reverent views of Scripture inspiration and authority can refuse to accept them. The Scripture statement that “in Adam all die,” (1 Cor. xv, 22,) indissolubly connects the mor. tality of our entire race by a line of descent with Adam. That sin underlies this mortality in all cases is clear from many statements; as, for instance, that “death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned;" and that “by one man's disobedience the many were made sinners.” Actually or conceptually every human being, adult or infant, that dies is held a sinner. Sin, somehow, underlies, all human death. That to this

ur race macarer view of the natural train our

state of things a great redemption is adjusted, all strictly Scriptural theology agrees; but the details of the adjustment the ordinary Christian would find it difficult to state, and learned theologians have long been accustomed to discuss.

Bishop Butler has suggested the important thought, that the great events of the resurrection and immortality, though stupendously miraculous, may still be also a truly natural train of events. So also, perhaps, a clearer view of the great facts of the fall and ruin of our race may be obtained by contemplating them on their naturalistic and their theodocic or judicial sides.

THE NATURALISTIC VIEW. Man, like every other being, must come into existence under the operation of universal laws and secondary causations. It is of no present use to inquire how it was right for the Deity to frame a certain set of regulations around a given being, provided those regulations are fundamental and universal, and as such, necessary to the existence of a rightful general system. It is enough to know that such fundamental laws, inflexible, even though bearing hard upon the individual whose well-being they cross, and even limiting the normal divine action, are necessary to the existence of any rational system, mundane or supermundane. Every species and every individual must come into the system under its laws or be excluded. Of this our earthly living system, a fundamental and universal regulation is the law of descent. Man is but a species of the great living generative genus. By that law the nature of the primogenitor is the nature of all his generations. This law man shares with all the lineages of living nature, animal or vegetable. Each species of beast, bird, fish, serpent, consists of a myriad of individuals who are sharers of one great capital of specific vital force. Of the human race, for instance, each individual of the whole number is a single vessel containing his modicum of the one great ocean of human blood. And not only is the composition of matter circumscribed within certain limits, both of substance and form, but the soul stuff, too, is confined within certain limits of essence and character. As is the parent, such is the child; as is the first progenitor, such is the entire posterity.

The commencement of an order with its laws, however miraculous, may be viewed in a naturalistic aspect. It was natural that if the first man, modeled to the idea of a perfect humanity, had stood at that high grade, his whole lineage would have been the successive copies of the same model. Even though some descendant had sinned and fell, it is not probable that the level of his offspring, if begotten, would have sunk to a lower grade. The whole anthem of human history would then have been pitched and carried through upon that same exalted, transcendental key. If by his own imprudent act, violating the laws of his higher being, he shut off all communion with higher natures, between whom and terrene nature he was the natural intermediate, it would not be unnatural, even if its singularity made it miraculous, that the same act should depreciate his fresh and plastic nature to an altogether lower model. By the laws of descent, therefore, the fall of the progenitor would be the depravation of the race.

This depravation might be threefold: corporeal, psychological, and psychical.

1. Corporeal. Separated from the higher nourishment, (perhaps the tree of life,) by which the organism was able to resist collision and disintegration, its framework becomes subject to decay, damage, and dissolution. Its particles and parts become displaced, lose their organic properties, and the system breaks and crumbles from around the spiritual being, panting for his own release, yet shuddering in anticipation of an unknown future. This is disease and death. Man by the fall is lineally mortal. “In Adam all die.”

2. Psychological. Disastrous must be the effect upon the mind. Be it that no one of the faculties was lost, (though that is more than we can know,) yet how has their first immortal vigor departed, and how deranged their pristine order? Intellect, conscience, moral feeling, all are dim, and the will no longer executes, with steady, unvarying purpose, their high suggestions. Passion, appetite, heated impulse obtain the ascendant. That blessed Spirit whose présence enabled order and right to reign has been closed off. Love to God is no longer felt; and as it cannot be a motive for action, so no action can be right and pleasing to God. The way of truth is now unknown, as the way of right is unloved. Man is still a free agent, but free only amid various alternatives of evil. The way of right and the pleasing to God are excluded equally

the way of rightorious alternatives Luded equally

« 이전계속 »