페이지 이미지

Thus, in a passage already quoted, Neander acknowledges the divine wisdom in the fact that "no more light has been communicated on this subject!" Prof. Messner, also, after using the words previously cited from the Bibliotheca Sacra, adds, "It is not difficult to perceive the divine wisdom in not having granted us a further revelation on this subject!" There are doubtless many who inwardly incline towards this belief, or who secretly adopt it, but are persuaded that it would be of evil effect, if generally credited! The faith of such believers must be weak indeed, while their intellectual conclusion is plainly at war with their religious instincts and common sense. Their fears are not groundless. We regard the tendency of the doctrine as bad in a two-fold respect.

(1). Theologically. The minds which cherish objections to the orthodox creed in this respect, such that they can surmount all exegetical difficulties in rejecting it, will not apply their doubts and reasonings to this subject alone, nor pause with discarding a single article of the orthodox faith. Their peculiar feeling and exegesis will be brought to bear with like effect upon the other distinctive points of evangelical belief. The road entered upon tends logically downward, and few will be content with taking only the first step. We have illustrations on a large scale. Universalism began with preaching restorationism as its only dissent from orthodoxy; but in the course of the century, it has passed to the repudiation of the trinity, the deity of Christ, the atonement, total depravity, and regeneration, as held by evangelical churches, and to-day its support ere claim to stand on the platform of '"Liberal" Christianity, some of them being numbered with its " left wing " of radical rationalists, and "free religionists." By an instructive parallel movement, Uuitarianism, which began by differing from orthodoxy as to the trinity, has worked its logical way onward to the rejection of eternal punishment. The (Unitarian) Monthly Review and JReligious Magazine (February. 1870) says of the idea of restoration, "While the Universalist puts it forward as one of the doctrines of Christianity, the Unitarian cherishes it as one of the glorious hopes of humanity. The Universalist preaches it as the word of God. The Unitarian holds it as the hope of man." The difference between

Unitarianism and Universalism at the present time, is popularly considered to be one almost wholly of gentility!

(2). Practically. There is a loss of moral and religious power, when the doctrine of eternal ruin gives place to temporary suffering for disciplinary purposes only. The motive (which is certainly Scriptural and reasonable) to "flee from the wrath to come," loses much of Its force. Ministers do not insist on it, and hearers do not feel it. The tendency is, to make religion less distinctive and paramount; less spiritual in development, and God ward in action, and more formal in character and humanitarian in object. Revivals disappear and are ridiculed, and the distinction between religion and morality, between Christians and the world, becomes obscure. And what is noticeable is, that these results go beyond what would seem to be logically necessary; inasmuch as a genuine faith in a limited but dreadful future punishment, might reasonably stimulate the Restorationists to a style of preaching and of spiritual labor quite parallel with that of the orthodox. Yet we neither see nor hear of any such effect of their belief; which, they must confess, would make them more nearly resemble the primitive Christians. To object to an eternal hell seems to them more important than to warn the wicked against a hell enduring enough, as they acknowledge, to be called by Christ aitoutozl As to public morals, it would hardly be rash to assert that the effect must be deleterious in time. We concede that such men as Neander and Tholuck, Oberlin and John Foster, are not likely to lose their religion, or to fall into immorality, because of their error on this point; and, also, that the ministers and church members of the denominations in this respect in error are not chargeable with impure lives. But they are the better class of those so believing; are often persons educated under other influences • and are fortified by existing social relations and public opinion. The full effect of a disbelief in eternal punishment could only be seen in successive generations, or isolated communities, trained from childhood in that opinion, without aid from the orthodox faith. We may err in such a judgment, but it seems to us that, at present, the restoration-theory wears its best appearance as to moral results; and this because it does not grow on its own stock, but is grafted into minds formed or fortified under opposite views. It is represented largely by men of principle and culture who, having drifted into that sentiment, are not seriously affected by it in general character. But there is a class below which muBt speedily receive serious injury from the prevalence of such opinions— men who need the restraint of the Bible doctrine of retribution, and who desire nothing more than deliverance from the orthodox idea of hell, in order to plunge into vice with greediness. Let it be generally believed that heaven is sure to every man at last, and the flood-gates of sin will be wide open.


Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, embracing a view of the origin, progress, and principles of the religious reformation which he advocated. By Robert Richardson. Two volumes. 8vo. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. 1868.

The Memoirs of Alexander Campbell, including as they do a sketch of the rise and progress of the religious community which he founded, are a valuable contribution to the religious history of this country as well as a very important illustration of the defects of a theory of Christiauity which, at the present day, is very attractive. The Campbellite Baptists, as they arc called, number five hundred thousand members—baptized persons or adherents—according to the latest reports. These all look upon Alexander Campbell as the great leader and reformer to whom it was given of God to discover the true basis of church fellowship and unity, and to enforce it with efficiency and success. The history of the several stages or steps of progress by which he was led to what he considered the Scriptural doctrine upon these subjects, of the courage and boldness with which he expounded and defended his peculiar views, and of the great ability and zeal with which he gathered disciples and inspired other preachers with a confidence and zeal similar to his own, is told in this volume with great minuteness and apparent fidelity. The result is a biography of interest and importance.

Alexander Campbell was born in the county of Antrim, Ireland, in 1788. His father was a teacher of youth and a preacher to a small Presbyterian Secession church of the AntiBurgher wing. The son received most of his early education under his father's tuition, and began his public life as a teacher. After a sharp and somewhat protracted religious experience, he became a communicant in his father's church. His early life gave him abundant experience of the narrowness of sectarian strifes and the bitterness of sectarian aniinosity. His father, being a man of a more catholic spirit, was somewhat impatient of the bonds by which he was oppressed, and strove in vain to bring about a union between the Burghers and Anti-Burghers. The oppressions which rested upon Irish dissenters, both Catholic and Protestunt, roused in both father and son a determined antagonism against every form of political and ecclesiastical domination. In 1807, Thomas Campbell, the father, was induced to visit America to avert the threatened failure of his health. His destination was Washington County, Pennsylvania, to which region a number of his pupils and friends had previously emigrated; and it was arranged that in case he should be pleased with the country, his family should follow him. The family were sent for after a few months had elapsed, and in October, 1808, Alexander sailed for America with his mother and the family. After a few days they were wrecked upon one of the Islands off the west coast of Scotland. The lateness of the season, and the desirableness that Alexander should have additional opportunity to pursue his studies, determined them to spend the winter in Glasgow. Here Alexander was brought into a close intimacy with the Kev. Greville Ewing, who had been closely identified with the religious movement commenced a few years before by the Haldanes, which had such important consequences in the British Islands and on the continent of Europe, and indirectly through Alexander Campbell in this country.

From the school of the Haldanes he learned to take a very much more simple view of faith than the highly scholastic and cumbrous notion which had been traditional in the Scottish churches. Instead of regarding it as a mysterious creation which could neither be explained nor analyzed any further than to say that it was the effect of the workings of the Holy Spirit, Campbell learned "to insist upon the absolute necessity of evidence, and to assert, most truthfully, that when there was no evidence there could be no faith; yet he ever regarded true faith in Christ as implying a willingness to snbmit to his authority, and as consisting in a heartfelt personal trust in Him as the Son of God and the appointed Saviour of mankind."

Dr. Ewing was finally led, by the force of circumstances and

« 이전계속 »