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judgment of reason, is according to Paul a work of the flesh. Wherefore all such is religious idolatry, and the more holy and spiritual it is in appearance, so much the more pernicious and pestilential it is."1
That, practically, prayer and worship have ceased to be regarded as duties, or, at all events, are but little professed among Protestants, is evident to any one visiting a country which handed over its people to the Reformers.
Our duties to ourselves flow from our recognition of God. For what are the duties we owe to ourselves but the development of our higher powers, the disengagement of the I-myself from the constraint of passions, and the distinguishing of myself from others by the realization of my personality.
Immorality is the negation of my higher nature; the affirmation of my animality alone and its opposition to my spirituality to the exclusion of the latter. To live for passion is to assert with the Hegelian poet,
“Rien n'est vrai que le plaisir,"2
that is, pleasure which is sensual.
Our duties to others are derived from our recognition of God. For as our duty to ourselves comes from Him who has given us rights, and imposed upon us the obligation to accomplish those rights, so are we bound to acknowledge the equality of rights and duties in other men, and therefore our obligation to recognise them and allow them free scope.
Interference with the rights of others is preventing the growth of other individualities, and is therefore a crime.
Protestantism has disturbed the moral order by the introduction of one or other of two negations; the Lutheran denial of duty, or the Calvinistic denial of free-will.
1 Comm. in Gal, cap. v. ver 20. 2 Herwegh: Ode à l'Ironie.
The doctrine of duty is the doctrine of moral obligation to God, to develop our own natures and to leave others unmolested to the free expansion of their natures.
This doctrine of free-will is the doctrine that God does not compel any man but leaves him free, that the link of authority between Him and man is moral, not effective.
By the negation of duty, Luther upset the idea of responsibility, and by the negation of free-will Calvin brought about the same result.
To the doctrine of duty, Luther opposed the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Catholicism holds both doctrines equally and harmonizes both. But Luther says, “In spiritual or divine things which regard the salvation of the soul, man is like the pillar of salt into which Lot's wife was changed; yea, he is like a trunk and a stone."! “Thou seest how rich is the Christian; even if he will he cannot destroy his salvation by any sins how grievous soever, unless he refuse to believe.”2 “Be thou a sinner and sin boldly, but still more boldly believe and rejoice in Christ. From Him sin shall not separate us, no, though a thousand thousand times in every day we should commit fornication or murder." "If in faith an adultery were committed it were no sin.” And Melancthon ever thou doest, whether thou eatest, drinkest, workest with thy hand, teachest, I may add shouldst thou even sin therewith, look not to thy works, weigh the promise of God."5 Sir William Hamilton quotes the following hor
1 Luth, in Gen. c. xix. ? Luth. de Captiv. Bab. tom. ii. vol. 264. 3 Epist. Lutheri, Jena 1556, tom. i. p. 548. Disput. tom. i. p. 523.
5 Quoted in Moeler's Symbolism, from which also I have taken the above references.
rible passages, "God pleaseth you when He crowns the unworthy, He ought not to displease you when He damns the innocent. All things take place by the eternal and invariable will of God, who blasts and shatters in pieces the freedom of the will. God creates in us the evil in like manner as the good. The high perfection of faith is to believe that God is just, notwithstanding that by His will He renders us necessarily damnable.” “We cannot advise that the licence of marrying more wives than one be publicly introduced. . . . There is nothing unusual in princes keeping concubines, and although the lower orders may not perceive the excuses of the thing, the more intelligent know how to make allowance." As Sir William Hamilton truly says, “Not content to reason against the institution (of celibacy) within natural limits and on legitimate grounds, his fervour led Luther to deny explicitly, and in every relation, the existence of chastity, as a physical impossibility; led him publicly to preach (and who ever preached with the energy of Luther?) incontinence, adultery, incest even, as not only allowable, but if practised under the prudential regulations which he himself lays down, unobjectionable, and even praiseworthy. The epidemic spread; a fearful dissolution of manners throughout the sphere of the Reformer's influence was for a season the natural result. The ardour of the boisterous Luther infected, among others, even the ascetic and timorous Melancthon.
"Polygamy awaited only the permission of the civil ruler to be promulgated as an article of the Reformation, and had this permission not been significantly refused, it would not have been the fault of the fathers of the Reformation if Christian liberty has remained less ample than Mahommedan licence. As it was, polygamy was never abandoned by either Luther or Melancthon as a religious speculation; both, in more than a single instance, accorded the formal sanction of their authority to its practice—by those who were above the law; and had the civil prudence of the imprudent Henry VIII. not restrained him, sensual despot as he was, from carrying their spontaneous counsel into effect, a plurality of wives might now have been a privilege as religiously contended for in England as in Turkey.”ı The grossness of Luther's mind cannot be ignored by any one who will take the trouble to read his sermon on matrimony, preached publicly before a large congregation, but which it is impossible to quote.
1 Edinburgh Review, Oct. 1834.
The same sort of teaching has continued to prevail amongst those who have adopted the principles of Luther. Man is held to be so utterly corrupt that there is no need for him to attempt a reformation of himself, whatever is to be done will be done by the free grace of God, or by the formation of an internal conviction of the goodness of God. Said Bishop Beveridge, “I cannot pray but I sin, I cannot hear or preach a sermon but I sin, I cannot give an alms or receive the sacrament but I sin, nay, I cannot so much as confess my sins but my very confessions are still aggravations of them." “God justifies the sinner freely and imputes to him righteousness without works. ... The justification of a sinner has no connexion with his own personal obedience either to the moral or ceremonial law, in the act of his justification his own performances are not taken into account. “It is absurd for the ministers of
Essay on the Scottish Kirk: Sir W. Hamilton bases his opinion in part on a Disputatio sive consultatio, anno 1531, die 23 Augustii a Phil. Melancthone de Digamia Regis Anglice.
Sermons by Rev. S. Cooper.