ePub 版

Strauss and

nish an ar

sacred annals. But there is a Muse of evangelical history. Holy men wrote as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. This divine inspiration saved them from the error to which all historians are liable. It kept them back from the mythical abyss into which Baur and Strauss fell headlong. It enabled them to record God's thoughts towards us, and the great facts of redemption, with no damaging admixture of subjective theory; so that we do well to take heed to their words, as to a light Baur furthat shineth in dark place. There are many cument for

, arguments for inspiration, but I know of none more powerful than the rise of the Tübingen school of criticism. If we are to have a revelation from the Father of our spirits, and not sink into naturalism or blank idealism, there is no mere man whom we can dare to trust. That revelation, our sorest need, must come through persons whom God has inspired to speak his words unto us, and whom he so saves from their own imperfections, that they shall neither add anything to the message nor take anything away.

A word only is needed, in this place, respecting the legendary theory of Renan. His Life of Jesus, and connected works, have been extensively read. And no wonder; for they clothe in a fascinating garb theories easily made plausible to minds but partially informed. Yet the careful reader soon finds that Renan's doctrine is not original; it is a French imitation. His theory hardly seems to me to require any sepa


Requires no rate treatment. Though he gives more space separate to the bistorical element than either Baur or


Strauss, -as he could not well help doing, being familiar with the geography of Palestine, and writing in the midst of it, - yet the pantheistic flavor of his thought often rises to the surface. It is true that he rejects the mythical theory, and adopts the legendary; but he still says that the criticism of the gospel-text by Strauss “leaves little to be desired.” He also speaks of Christianity itself as an “ evolution by which the noblest portions of humanity passed from the ancient religions.” He says, with evident reference to the pantheistic doctrine of the absolute, “No passing vision exhausts divinity; God was revealed before Jesus, God will be revealed after him. Widely unequal, and so much the more divine as they are the greater and the more spontaneous, the manifestations of the God concealed in the depths of the human conscience are all of the same order.” The Christian religion, that is, though

more or less historic in some of its forms, is only The spirit an evolution within humanity, - part and parcel

of that thought-process which is all the time

going forward in man. That such is the philosophical germ of Renan's criticism, so far as it has any, and that he should be met on the same ground as other pantheists, is further indicated where he says, “ If we except the French Revolution, no historic medium was so fitting as that in which Jesus was formed, to develop those

hidden powers which humanity holds as if in

reserve, and which she never reveals except in parison.

her days of fever and of danger.” It is doubtful if any person, of less powerful imagination than Renan, would have seen much likeness between the stormy times of Robespierre and the peaceful Galilean society in which

of his criti

cism pan


An irreverent com

[ocr errors]

the Son of Mary grew up; and with the exceedingly liberal compliment given to Jesus, by insinuating that he was only second to the leaders of revolutionary France, we dismiss this popular critic to those who ignorantly admire him, not knowing what they worship. I only allude here, in conclusion, to the still Free re

ligion. more recent movement which calls itself Free Religion. The peculiarity of this is, that it finds more or less of religious truth in all religions, and the whole essence of religion in the human consciousness. Brahmanism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Christianity, ity.

Its peculiarall the forms of religion now existing, in short, should stand together in brotherly fellowship. For they have all been developed by the same idea in man; none of them are of supernatural origin, or have any supreme authority; and that in us which gave birth to these, is steadily crowding them aside with something better. It will be seen at a glance what is the parentage of this theory. While vainly striving to cling to the ghost of a departed theism, it is but the last and puny child of a philosophy already overthrown. It is the dying

May be echo of the voice which Hegel lifted up so long traced to

Hegel. ago. It is the faint 'resonance, on this distant shore, of a wave whose original force is spent. Let pantheism, like the divine revelation, have its “minor prophets ” if it must. Yet it touches our American pride somewhat, when we see those prophets trying to convert our popular literature into a kind of Israelitish bazaar for the display of the philosophical old-clothes of the Germans. For Christianity itself, however, we have no fear.

Christianity The warlike manifesto which scepticism issued triumphant. half a century ago, has resulted in its own. signal defeat. The stone cut out of the mountain has smitten the pantheistic image. Its fragments, ground to powder by the chariot-wheels of truth, are but the dust of the highway cast up for the Lord's ransomed, along which they are returning to Zion, - coming with songs, and with the joy of victory on their heads.



A feature of

In many

THOSE revolutionary tendencies of modern thought, of which we hear so much, are nowhere more manifest than in the ethical and social discussions of the day. Theories of duty, whether public or private, modern

thought. have forsaken their ancient base. instances they have even been faced about, so that what was once the front is now the rear, and the starting point has become the point of attack. Formerly, external authority was the rule, but now spontaneity is the law which tends to prevail. The doctrine that morals are intuitive, and cannot be taught, has been broached. Humanity, in its spontaneous growth, is the true basis of the state; and written compacts are hinderances in its way, which should be destroyed. Marriage should not rest on unchanging statutes, but on the free action of nature in man. The family and society, instead of depending on legislation, should be the unhindered outgrowth of forces which are a law to themselves. The fament


taneity. conduct of the individual, of the family, of society, of the state, all of which I here include under the general notion of Culture, should not be regulated from without, but from within. They should be spontaneous,

« 上一頁繼續 »