ePub 版

saying that if republished they would It is a pleasure to the writer of this form an excellent manual of that remark- brief notice to render this humble tribute able land and its productions, and such as to the memory of one from whom he would be of great value to Sunday-school experienced many marks of Christian teachers and elder scholars. Mrs. Roe had regard.

ROBERT ABBOTT. a pre-eminent faculty for presenting facts in the most adınirable form. Her religion,

On Sunday, 10th August, at Kingsinstead making her peculiar and strange, wood Road, Lower Merton, Surrey, Mr. served to make her, what she was, large, Edward Spear, aged thirty-three years. hearted, philanthropic, public-spirited, and He was instructed in the doctrines of the a loving and noble-minded woman. As a New Church at the Sunday-school, Henry Society their grief was great, yet they did Street, Bath, and was subsequently atnot sorrow on her account, because now tached to the Argyle Square Society. that her earthly labours had closed she had During a long and severe illness he never entered on the more glorious employments murmured nor complained, and at the last of the kingdom of heaven. She had not he passed away so peacefully that he gone from her native country to a foreign seemed to have fallen asleep. He has shore, where she would see unknown left a widow and four little ones, to whom faces' and hear an unknown tongue, but their bereavement would be insupportable

, had entered into the household and family

were they not consoled by the reflection of God.”

that their loss is his eternal gain. On the 22nd of July, at the advanced age of eighty-two, Mr. John Todd, one of

At Farnworth, on the 7th March 1879, in the few remaining members of the early hereighty-third year, Mrs. Elizabeth Booth Society of the New Church in Norwich, The deceased was, we believe, the oldest

He was

was removed into the spiritual world. was removed to the eternal state. not one who entered deeply into doctrine; knowledge of the Church extended far

member of the Kearsley Society. Her but acknowledged with a clear conception the great truths of the Church, the back, and it was her great delight to tell supreme deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, of its past struggles and victories. She the necessity of keeping the Divine com- exhibited all the delight and enthusiasm mandments, and the momentous revela- of youth in the building of the new place tions respecting heaven and hell. These of worship, which she was spared to see subjects called forth his unhesitating con

completed. She was fully warned of her viction. His nature was eminently pious, approaching change by the gradual breakand this feature showed itself in all his ing up of her constitution, and looked forattachments. He was remarkably kind ward with great cheerfulness to her ento strangers attending worship, and was

trance upon the immortal life. Her last illalways ready to welcome them to his ness was borne with unusual patience and hospitable table. Indeed, kindness and resignation; and now that her earthly humility were the distinguishing char- tabernacle is dissolved, we doubt not but acteristics of his life, and were especially that she is clothed upon with her house seen in his long afliction, during which he which is from heaven. was never heard to murmur. His favourite part of the Scriptures was the Gospel of At Kearsley, on the 9th June, in her John, particularly the fourteenth chapter, seventy-fourth year, Ann, the beloved wife in which the Lord declares Himself so of Mr. Edmund Grundy, departed this life. plainly. Again and again would he dwell She had been long detained from worship upon the words, “Let not your heart be on account of delicate health. During her troubled : ye believe in God, believe also solitary hours she read and meditated in Me.” In all his sentiments there was deeply on the Word and the heavenly docthis striking simplicity of mind, connect- trines of the New Jerusalem. She found ing all religion with the daily life; and, great delight too in reading our hymns, sustained by his knowledge of the New many of which she had committed to Church, he carried the same ideas into his memory. An intelligent receiver of the views of the eternal state, to which he doctrines, it was a privilege to converse looked forward with the sweet confidence with her on religious subjects. She bore of a child. He loved the truly good by her long illness with exemplary patience, whatever name they were called, recog- and looked forward with joy to reunion nising only that faith which works by with beloved friends who had gone before. love, and purifies the heart. And with Our loss, we are assured, is her unspeaksuch he hoped to share the realms of bliss. able gain.

[blocks in formation]

NOTWITHSTANDING the many attempts which have been made by theologians to explain the nature and origin of evil, the subject is confessedly involved in such hopeless obscurity that any new effort to bring it into the clear light of day will be regarded with suspicion, if not with disfavour. Our readers are not in this hopeless state and helpless condition. No effort is needed to bring the subject down to their understandings, and within the limits of their faith. Although they do not require demonstration for themselves, yet they cannot but feel interested in any intelligent effort to throw light on what to the generality of Christians is dark, either in the ways of God or in the doings of man. We do not forbid any one to cast out demons, though they be only those of intellectual error or doubt, because he followeth

not us.


We have been pleased by the perusal of a little work* by an anonymous author, in which the subject is discussed with an intelligence beyond that of any other writer we know out of the New Church who has ventured on the discussion of this difficult question.

The author in the preface states that the substance of his treatise was written in 1871, at the request of the late Bishop of Argyle, for a series of " Present Day Papers on Prominent Questions of Theology."

* Hamartia : An Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Evil. London: Elliot Stoek, 1878.

The death of Dr. Ewing before the series of papers was commenced caused the essay to be laid aside, until a religious conference held at Broadlands, to which the author was invited, brought it out of its retirement; and it was published at the request of those who heard it. So much enables us to know the liberal and enlightened school to which the author belongs. In introducing the subject he says, “The theory of the nature and origin of evil set forth in the following pages is, so far as I am aware, new, although there is reason to believe that in substance it has occurred to many minds, and exists intuitively in many others among whom it will find acceptance as tending towards a scriptural and rational solution of a vexed question." We conclude from this that the author is unacquainted with the Writings of Swedenborg, in which all he thinks original and new will be found more fully and clearly stated. The author of “Hamartia” does not on all points think in unison with the author of " Arcana Cælestia" and other works; yet there is so much in his book that is in agreement with the doctrines of the New Church, that we can only ascribe the many excellent things contained in it to the light of the new heaven that is descending into all minds, and diffusing itself among all churches and nations.

“Many, if not most, who at present see deformity rather than beauty in the Christian religion as presented to them by its teachers, would be compelled to admire, if not to adore, the surpassing love and wisdom from which all things proceed, and by which they subsist, if that harmony which obtains throughout the universe, and which is revealed in the Scriptures, could be made manifest to the understanding. The keynote of universal harmony is Love. In this faith I propose to consider the nature and origin of evil as revealed in the Scriptures, and confirmed by reason and experience.” Love is indeed the keynote of universal harmony; and as the writer elsewhere asserts, "all Christian doctrine, in its beauty, clearness, and fulness, may be deduced from the three words in which the essential Divine nature is expressed—“God is Love." All doctrines must finally be

“ brought to that light, and be judged and corrected thereby." Of course God is Wisdom as well as Love, and these can never be at variance, so that God's truth must ever be in harmony with His love. The existence of evil and sin must be consistent with a God of love. How is its existence to be accounted for? The author first speaks of the nature of evil, or

“Sin is disease of the soul, infirmities and sickness are its corre

[ocr errors]

in :



sponding manifestations in the body. As the Word of God declares, and reason abundantly confirms, the tendency to sin as a whole, and in its special aspects, is hereditary.

Man does not make himself, nor does he make the circumstances under which he begins, nor altogether under which he continues life in the world.” All this is true of the nature of sin and of the hereditary tendency to it. But what of the origin of evil? So far as we can gather from his treatise, the origin of evil is to be traced back to God Himself. He speaks indeed of sin as a permission, and says “its Divine permission is as a means to an end." But the inference drawn from this truth we cannot but regard as a mistaken one. He considers evil, or sin, as necessary to the existence of man's individual consciousness. “Every child in God's universe is, in its inmost existence, Divine; it partakes of essential Deity; but if there was nothing to will or separate the Divine nature to our perception, there could be no sense of individuality. The soul could not realize its individual existence. Nothing can so effectually give this sense of separation from the infinitely Holy One as sin, or opposition in the Divine nature; and without such temporary opposition we could have no feeling of individuality. We would be in God of necessity, not by free choice as individual

We could never know the infinite depth of love in the Father's heart without experience of His forgiveness and of His infinite compassion; as is illustrated in the contrast of the prodigal and unprodigal son in the parable.

The existence of sin and all its consequences may thus be as great an evidence of the love of God as redemption itself.” That man in his inmost nature is Divine is an idea that may arise from not understanding the nature of creation, and consequently of the creature as distinguished from the Creator. Life, considered in itself, is indeed Divine; but life is not creatable, and therefore forms no part of the creature. God creates, and can only create substances and forms receptive of life; so that in Him we live and move and have our being; but life forms no more a part of the creature than light fornis a part of the eye, or air of the lungs. Life gives consciousness, but the nature of the consciousness is according to that of the organized form into which it flows. Sin was not needed to give a sense of individuality. The life that animates the lower animals is, in itself as in its origin, the same life that animates man; but they, though incapable, as the author says, of sin, have a sense of individuality as well as man.

Nor is it necessary to suppose that but for the experience of the


forgiveness of sin we could never have known the infinite depth of love in the Father's heart. It is no doubt a great truth that “God commendeth His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." It is also true that to whom much is forgiven the same loveth much, and to whom little is forgiven the same loveth little. But there can be no reasonable doubt that unfallen man could have as deep a sense of the Father's love as the forgiven sinner, unless so far as we can suppose that man, as a sinner, can, by forgiveness, or by being born from above, rise above the height from which he has fallen. It is the actual state of the soul, not its relative state, that determines its power of appreciating and reflecting the love and goodness of God. Where all are sinners, the amount of love is determined by the amount of forgiveness, and also the amount of forgiveness by the amount of love. The forgiveness of sin is its removal. Only so far as evil is removed in intention and in act can good take its place in the heart and life. Just in the measure that this change takes place can there be love to God and man; so that, among sinful men, love and forgiveness are proportional.

We cannot therefore believe that there was any necessity for sin, either for the existence of human consciousness or for the manifestation and appreciation of the Father's love. Yet sin exists. And the question how evil originated is both interesting and useful. The author of the treatise first speaks of the constitution of man, which made him capable of evil: “The basis of Christian psychology is the doctrine of the human trinity, for man is triune. The trinity in man consists of spirit, soul, and body-pneuma, psuche, soma." There is certainly a trinity in man, the image of the trinity in man's Creator. But the distinction of spirit, soul, and body is not precisely that of the human trinity in which the Divine Trinity is imaged. The pneuma and the psuche are the spiritual and the natural mind; the soma, or material body, is a covering suited to the material world in which for a time man dwells ; but he is equally a man without it, when he lays it aside at death, never to resume it. Of more consequence, however, is the author's statement that “the spirit of man is not a mere faculty or principle ; it is the inmost and true man.”

But the main question is the origin of evil; and on this we find a statement we can unreservedly accept as true : "In the story of the origin of sin, the essential point is that humanity, in the most affectionate and impulsive side of its nature, gave heed to the lower physical suggestion in opposition to the higher dictate of the Divine


[ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »