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no sound mind can contemplate but with pain, have been not without interest in our view, as exhibiting the ill-directed and unenlightened efforts of impulsive minds to reach a real good. We are, also, well assured from observation, that there is a large and increasing number in the churches, who have been filled with ardent longings after a more thorough inward experience of the power of the Gospel, and richer measures of the indwelling and comfort of the Holy Spirit, than most Christians have ordinarily enjoyed; and that many of these have learned, with holy gratitude, the faithfulness of the promise—“Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled !” While it is pretty clear, that unless the church is moved to a higher life in Christ, she can not now go up and possess the world, but must be turned back to wander longer in the wilderness, there is, we think, some evidence that she has begun to receive, and is going on to receive, such a new baptism from on high, as to make it consistent that God should lead her on to speedy victory in her last great struggle with the powers of darkness. As she has but lately begun to awaken from centuries of comparative inaction, and to regain the views and breathe the spirit of primitive Christianity, it is not strange that she should have many things to learn relating to vital godliness, in its nature and developments. Much, it must be obvious to all intelligent observers, has been learned already, in the religious movements of the last half century. On the dispensation of the Spirit, for example, as the grand feature of the Gospel economy; on the obligation and extent of Christian liberality; on the duty of aggressive Christian action, and on the power of prayer to draw from the inexhaustible fountain of God's eternal fullness;–and why, in connection with better views on these and similar subjects, should
there not also be attained a clearer and better understanding among Christians generally, of the essential principles of the life of God within the soul, and the best means of sustaining and advancing it? When Luther restored the well nigh lost doctrine of justification by faith, what a vast increase of light did he bring back on the nature of true piety What obstacles did he remove from the way of such as would be godly, and what impulses impart to urge them forward ' When Edwards wrote his masterly treatise on Religious Affections, what mists were cleared away, what perplexities removed, and what certainty of judgment rendered possible as to the commencement of true religion in the heart 1 and whoever can, in a similar spirit, and with like ability, develop and define the laws of the inward life, so as to impart to the minds of diligent disciples the clearest and most simple views which the nature of the case admits, must certainly render great service to the cause of vital piety. We are aware that some are ready to condemn, as visionary, almost all that can be said about a hidden spiritual life, a life which can neither be seen nor comprehended by those who are without experience,—which those who have experience, can not so describe as to enable the worldly mind to understand its nature. But we cease to wonder at this, when we remember that the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him ; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. We know, also, that the heated imagination of fanaticism, has sometimes perverted the simple and profoundly interesting teachings of the New Testament on the subject, into vague and chimerical enigmas; pernicious in their influence on the intellect and on the life. But in this fact we only recognize one of the erratic tendencies of our nature, which has exhibited itself elsewhere as well as under the influence of Christianity. Mysticism is as old as history. It appeared in ancient Egypt. It has always existed in connection with the religious systems of Buddha and of Brahma, of Confucius and Mohammed. It has been the offspring of philosophy also, as well as of religion. The Stoic in his indifference, the Hindoo placing persection in the entire absorption of the soul in contemplation, and the quietest striving after the meditative calm of a literal self-annihilation, are only different manifestations of one and the same tendency of mind, when subjected to certain kinds of influence, or characterized by a certain peculiarity oftemperament. We are not, however, to give up the truth that there is such a thing, in sober verity, as a spiritual life, divine in its origin and affinities in the renovated man; a life hidden from the world in respect to its nature, its power and its enjoyments, because great and dangerous delusions have disguised themselves under the form of this truth, or have even seemed to grow out of it. We should learn to discriminate between the true idea of the life of God as disclosed to us in the Scriptures, and all mere semblances. To do this may be sometimes very difficult, while yet the difference is very great. The raptures of mere animal excitement, and those of a pure devotion, are both raptures, and on occasion may appear alike; but they are as opposite in their nature as light and darkness. The calmness of a Hume, and that of a Brainerd on a deathbed, are both calmness; but one is the calmness of a stupid, and the other that of a blessed soul. And so the elevation, and tranquillity, and superiority to sense, which mark a life of genuine faith, are, in fact, totally unlike the unmeaning and often affected abstractions of philosophic and religious devotees, and the reveries of poetic and meditative tem
peraments. The former are not only compatible with a pure and healthful condition of the sensibilities, but actually indicate it; the latter betoken a condition vitiated and morbid, or at least unnatural.
We regard the design of Prof. Upham's work, then, as legitimate and full of interest. He divides his consideration of the subject into three parts. Part first, treats of “The Inward Life in its connection with Faith and Love.” Part second, of “The Life of Faith and Love followed by the Crucifixion of the Life of Nature;” and part third, of “Inward Divine Guidance.” This is an appropriate and logical arrangement; it is the natural order both according to experience and the Scriptures;—first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear; —in other words, first the elements of the divine life, or the becoming a new creature; then the proximate consequence, the putting off the old man, as Paul expresses it; and finally, the giving up of the soul to be led by the spirit of God, and to the enjoyment of the privileges of sonship. In going into the details, on these general topics, the writer touches on almost all the important aspects of experimental piety. Having opened his subject by explaining what according to his view the state of sanctification is, and endeavoring to show the practicability and duty of its present attainment, he goes on to indicate the way in which it may be reached. If we regard the succeeding chapters of the work, simply as describing the steps by which a Christian, anxious for progress, may rise to an elevated state of piety, a calm and peaceful region far above that in which too many are content to live, we think them in the main, well adapted to such an end. The duty of self-consecration is insisted on, and a part of the form proposed by Dr. Doddridge quoted. It is well urged, that without this, it
is impossible to get nigh to God and to rise in the tone of spiritual affection. The exposition of the nature and importance of appropriating faith, is remarkably clear and happy; indeed the chapters on faith and love, together with that on a life of signs and manifestations as compared with a life of faith, and that on the nature and relations of emotional experience, constitute we think a real and valuable contribution to the philosophy of the Christian life. We know not where to find the truth on two or three points of special practical importance, exhibited with equal clearness and discrimination. We refer, for example, to the remarks on the faith of acceptance. It is quite a common thing to observe Christians whose assurance of faith and hope, and consequent inward comfort, are not at all what their obvious spirituality of mind and devotedness of life would lead us to expect. We inquire into their views. They tell us that they have often endeavored, and heartily as it seems to them, to give themselves entirely and forever to the Lord ; that they are conscious that they do feel submission to his will, and delight in his character and in his service. But how shall they know that they are accepted 2 Here is their difficulty. Their acts of self. consecration have been followed by no voice from heaven assuring them that God accepts the offering ; and they can not see how they shall be certain whether he does or not; and until they can be certain, their minds must be more or less disquieted. But they require evidence for which they have no right to look. God has said, Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out. Do they come then Has his grace brought them, as dying sinners, to throw themselves upon his mercy 2 This is the only point they have to settle. If they have, then as God is true, they are accepted, and so they should believe. This view, which offers Wol. III. 48
the only relief to such a class of spersons, is clearly stated. It is also shown that the same principle applies to prayer, in all cases where the things desired are specifically promised. Does the suppliant ask aright, then he has his request; and by believing this enjoys the full benefit of the answer granted. Prof. Upham has carefully avoided here, the radical error into which incautious writers have often fallen. He makes faith in respect to our own acceptance, or to the answer of our prayers, to consist not in persuading ourselves, while yet without evidence on the point, that we are accepted, or that our requests are heard; but in relying on God's truth; in believing that he actually does what he has promised. “The certainty of the result, says he, is necessarily involved in the veracity of God, and not, as is sometimes supposed, in the mere fact of believing. This is an important distinction. It is God's everlasting TRUTH, and nothing but his truth, which is the real foundation of the great principle” on which this certainty rests. Equally discriminating and satisfactory are the views on the superiority of that experience which rests on faith and principle, to that of which the chief basis and ingredient is emotion. This is a topic on which there is great need of better knowledge, even among many who are in general enlightened Christians. But too many histories of religious experience, furnish evidence that a dangerous reliance has often been placed, even by eminently holy persons, on special states and frames of mere feeling, as evidences of piety, or of spiritual elevation and advancement. Such states and frames, when thus regarded, are earnestly sought as invaluable blessings; and when at any time they are not realized, discouragement, doubts, and inward anguish follow of necessity, although there still exists the same conscious sincerity of devotion, and
the same strength of purpose to live to God alone as ever. Hence it has, not always been the case, as it certainly should have been, that the holiest have been the happiest Christians. Not that emotion is by any means to be regarded as undesirable. If a piety all impulses, is unsteady and often fanatical ; a frozen, calculating piety is unlovely and inefficient. Where there is sound and healthful piety, principle, a settled steadfast faith, is the element of constancy and strength; emotion the element of warmth, activity, and beauty. In the example of our blessed Lord, and of such men as Fenelon, Leighton, and President Edwards, we see that great elevation of religious character, may coexist with an impressive calmness, a sweet, we may almost say, sublime tranquillity of spirit. Temperament no doubt has its influence, and previous intellectual and mental training also, on the complexion of the spiritual life; inward conflicts, and outward trials must sometimes discompose, in a measure, the serenest spirits; but the Scriptures clearly inculcate the idea of a state of collectedness, and steady peace arising from the repose of the soul on God, as that in which the believer should be found. The teachings of the work before us, are in harmony with what has now been said, and deserve a considerate attention. In the second and third parts of the work, in which grace is exhibited as effecting the crucifixion of self, and bringing the soul, through the indwelling of the spirit, to a calm, elevated, peaceful life in God, there is also much to instruct and profit the devout disciple in his aspirations. That the duty of producing all the graces of the spirit in the life, of carrying out the purpose of the soul to be the Lord's by steady vigorous persevering effort to bring all the appetites, dispositions and habits, and all the powers both of body and mind, into subjection to that purpose;
and also, of learning the blessed art of drawing daily and hourly happiness directly from the pure Eternal Fountain by the resting of the soul in God, has not been sufficiently insisted on, and is not felt as it should be by the majority of professing Christians, we believe. There is so much, in this age of hurried activity, to draw the attention outward, such a constant and rapid succession of important and often thrilling incidents, that there can not but be danger of a piety that looks in but one direction, and so is wanting in completeness of development and richness of experience. We earnestly wish that that part of practical religion which consists in self-discipline, might be made more prominent in the church; that the obligation to strip Christian character, as it stands before the world, of those excrescences which too often mar its beauty, and to render it, in a far higher degree than it ordinarily is, the embodiment of whatsoever traits are pure and lovely and of good report, might be far more generally and deeply felt. If the church is to vindicate the great doctrine of justification by faith, and to make the world understand that it is indeed the articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesia, she must practically illustrate its power to produce, at once the deepest spirituality, and the most admirable completeness and harmony of the exterior life. So far as the second and third parts of the work before us, bear directly on this result, they furnish many valuable hints, and will leave a happy influence on the mind of the thoughtful reader. We think their usefulness impaired so far as they exhibit prominently the author's peculiar views in respect to the nature of sanctification or perfection. Without dwelling more particularly on those portions of Prof. Upham's volume which, considered in themselves, we have read with satisfaction, it is time that we come to speak of the peculiar theory of the Christian life which he adopts; and on which he has proceeded in the preparation of his work. This theory continually appears throughout the work; and according as this is found to be correct or otherwise, must the value of the work, when considered as a whole, be very much determined. It may be summarily stated thus. The hidden life is a “ peculiar modification of Christian experience;” and consists, essentially, in the attainment of what he denominates holiness, sanctification, and evangelical or Christian perfection. This attainment he regards as practicable, and as obligatory on all Christians in the present life. In order to make it, the Christian who is as yet only in the lower and ordinary stages of the divine life, must begin with a solemn act of self-consecration; devoting himself soul and body to the Lord, and that forever. This is to be followed by the exercise of appropriating faith, or the faith of acceptance; and hence will ensue the full assurance of faith and perfect love; or in other words, the soul will become at once sanctified. As a necessary consequence, the predominant influence of sense upon it ceases, or nature is crucified, and it is led thenceforth wholly by the inward guidance of the Spirit of God.
In setting ourselves to examine this theory in some detail, we have no intention to play the critic. We can not suffer ourselves on a subject of such grave and vital interest, to indulge the ambition, if we feel it, of affecting piquancy or acumen. But as any mistake, in a matter of so much moment, must be especially pernicious; and as the work before us has already found an extensive circulation, and carries with it all the weight of such a name, we deem it to be our duty to call in question the correctness of some of Prof. Upham's views. He himself, we
are sure, not less than we, would regret that any but correct views on this subject should gain a general currency. We shall direct our attention particularly to his theory of the Christian life as above briefly stated.
We say, then, that we are not entirely satisfied with the restricted and peculiar sense which Professor Upham gives to the phrase hidden, or interior life. We would not, of course, deny to any author the right, occasionally to employ epithets in a new and unusual sense, if he makes his own usage plain by proper definition. But if to change the significance of a term involve a departure from actual truth, and if the change appears to be made for the sake of some advantage which the substituted sense affords to him who adopts it in his argument, the right is plainly not to be allowed. Both these objections seem to us to exist in the present case. It is commonly understood, and we think it would be difficult to show that it is not so correctly understood, that the Christian life as such, in all its degrees, and not any particular modification of it, is what the sacred writers, especially Paul, characterize as the “hid
den life.” According to the apos
tle, the moment any man is in Christ “he is a new creature,”—has begun a new spiritual and peculiar life, unlike the life of nature or sense which he lived before, and unintelligible to those who are still natural men. The believer, even from the first, is alive from the dead; is quickened together with Christ; and is called not absolutely, but by way of distinction from the unrenewed, holy or sanctified; the same persons who are thus characterized being rebuked severely for their inconsistencies, and their Christian attainments being clearly shown to have been but small. And further, to assume the term in question as properly descriptive only of those who have attained to what the author calls evangelical perfection, enables him to quote