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"evil-doers,” of just the very worst and most hopeless, this merely is trifling, and in so grave a matter it is worse than trilling. The future “damnum,” whether it
” be irreparable or not; the future “hell,” whether it be endless, or not, is the threatened destiny not of some few, but of a great multitude, or else the language of Scripture is most seriously misleading—misleading not because of the mistranslation or doubtful meaning of one or two particular words or phrases, but because of its whole tone and tenor from first to last, and because of numerous express declarations, the significance of which scarcely could be mistaken.
It is no doubt perfectly true, as the essayist says, that the thought of these great multitudes "going away" to suffer the "damnum ” which awaits all evil-doers has contributed very largely to enforce a conviction that this "damnum” will not be endless. It has done so, and it ought to have done so.
And next (ii) as to the second of these two doctrines which are “ quite consonant with the Catholic Faith” viz., that the punishment of the lost may be in some cases “consistent with the highest enjoyment of natural beatitude, and with a natural knowledge and love of God.” Now as I am at present concerned to remark upon this theory especially with reference to its consonance with “the language of Scripture,” it might perhaps be sufficient simply to inquire whether there is to be found one single passage in any part of Scripture, speaking of the lot of the lost, which–I will not say supports—but which could with any reasonable latitude of interpretation be reconciled with such a fancy as this. The advocates of this fancy (which the essayist is not at all responsible for inventing) have not, so far as I am aware, ever produced any such passage; and until they do so, it is scarcely worth while seriously to argue whether the theory of a felicitous damnation is or is not accordant with Scripture. The theory itself, however, is well worth observation : for what does it really mean? Is it anything more than an amiable and ingenious attempt to devise a plan according to which “unbaptised infants” and also sundry "adults, especially in heathen nations,” shall be nominally “ damned” and visited with "everlasting punishment,” while really they are in a condition of the highest “natural beatitude,” knowing and loving God: nominally consigned to hell, in order to satisfy the
requirements of a supposed “Catholic dogma,” but really transported to heaven in accordance with the happily irrepressible better feelings of these ingenious theorists, andwhich is vastly more important-in accordance with the whole tenor of revelation as to the will and purposes of God. This theory, so far as it embodies any truth of revelation, is simply tantamount to a repetition of the assertions that there are “many mansions” in the house of our Father, and that the beatitude of all is not the same; that some shall be “rulers over five cities,” and others “over ten ;” that
one star differeth from another star in glory, so also is the resurrection of the dead,” and many other passages of similar import, which declare that there will be various degrees of happiness in a future world. Of course, if you choose to regard a lesser degree of happiness in its aspect as involving the loss, the “damnum,” of a higher degree, you may call this "damnation, and if it be perpetual, you may call it “everlasting damnation ;” but to do so is a deceptive and mischievous misuse of language, and moreover, when you have proved ever so clearly that “damnation," in this sense, will be everlasting, you have contributed simply nothing towards settling the question whether "damnation in its ordinary and well-known meaning will be everlasting or not.
you assert that damnation of this sort is the threatened punishment of the wicked, I reply that every single passage of Scripture which describes that punishment directly contradicts you: if you admit that the threatened punishment of the wicked is something entirely different from this, I reply, then your argument in this particular has nothing whatever to do with the question at issue, is simply misleading, and ought not to have been introduced at all.
It might be interesting to enquire what is supposed to be the difference between “natural” and “supernatural”
” “ “ capacities,”“ knowledge,” “ love,” “glory,” &c., in a future
" " world where all is “supernatural ;” since we are told that many persons will be capable of “natural" knowledge, &c., and not capable of “supernatural.” If it be replied that some persons are made “partakers of the Divine nature" through the sacraments here on earth, and are, therefore, become “supernatural” in their capacities, while others are not so "raised,” I would ask on what ground is it assumed that this high benefit, so conveyed here on earth, cannot possibly be with like purpose and effect bestowed hereafter on such as have not received it here? Also on what ground it
is assumed (as by the essayist, p. 16) that “Unbaptized infants who have been raised by no sacrament from the condition of original sin” during the brief span, perhaps only a few hours, of their earthly life, never will be raised from that condition all through eternity: that was they had not been raised on earth to the state of supernatural grace, they have no aptitude for the life of supernatural glory," and—it is obviously implied-they never shall have any such “ aptitude ;” in short, that because it has pleased God to take many little children's lives long before they have been baptized, He has thereby for ever excluded such children from the company of the Blessed, in spite of His own express declaration that “of such is the kingdom of heaven.' A similar assumption appears to be made as to “adults, especially in heathen nations, who die with their moral and intellectual faculties so imperfectly developed that they may be regarded as, in responsibility, children" (p. 17).
Now it would appear that a theologian who has sufficient ground for making such assumptions as these, must have gained a rare knowledge of what is about to be done in a future world ; and I will venture to add that he must also have discovered that the Ruler of that world is a Being very essentially distinct in character and in purpose from that God whóm Scripture reveals, and in whom the Church believes, that God who is “loving unto every man,” and "whose mercy is over all His works,” who will, indeed, “by no means clear the guilty,” but whose "arm is not shortened that it cannot save” except in accordance with the spiderweb theories of scholastic fancy. It would, however, be an almost endless work to enquire into the grounds of all the assumptions which are required in order to convert a crude misconception into a “Catholic dogma ;" and now it is time that this unwelcome criticism were brought to a close. I will, therefore, briefly sum up.
For all these reasons :
1.—Because this essay never really grapples with the exact point at issue, though it assumes to do so.
2.- Because it introduces a wholly different question ad invidiam, and founds an argument in favour of endless punishment on the suggestion that the supposed alternative is no punishment at all, which suggestion is not true.
3. — Because it entirely misrepresents some of the most important historical facts which bear upon the question in dispute.
4.-Because the arguments of the essay rest at least in part on sundry statements, literary, historical, and theological, some of which are very questionable, while others are demonstrably untrue.
5.—Because this essay, while denouncing the theory that evil will not be everlasting, mainly on the ground that this theory "does violence to Scripture," plainly asserts that “the Catholic dogma” (sic) permits, if it does not require two other theories, which either do much greater violence in the same direction, or else have nothing whatever to do with the matter in question.
For all these reasons--and I might add others--I hold this essay to be entirely inconclusive. I deeply regret, for the author's sake, that it was ever written; but for the cause of truth and righteousness I welcome one more proof that even brilliant ability and large resources for information must necessarily fail to claim effectually for this relic of a narrow philosophy, and a vindictive heathenism, any place within the sacred precincts of the Christian faith.
FRANK N. OXENHAM.
SOME REMARKS ON TRANSUBSTANTIATION.
Sir,--In a recent article on “Transubstantiation” which appeared in your magazine, it was well shown that it is one of those subjects which do in reality lie without the sphere of Natural Science and beyond the limits of Natural Reason.
Now although I quite agree in this conclusion, there are nevertheless some difficulties in connection with it which seem to me to be of great force; which, with your leave, I will now state, simply, I humbly trust, in the interest of Truth. For although an Anglican clergyman, I do not feel myself so bound by the unlearned definitions of our Thirtynine Articles as not to be able to doubt their perfection. I should much rather that these difficulties could be removed, for then one of those seemingly insurmountable obstacles would be taken away which hinder us from accepting the Primacy of Rome as the centre of unity for the Church on earth.
The definition of Transubstantiation, authorized by the Council of Trent, declares, “That in the consecration of the bread and wine there is made a conversion and change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of our Lord's Body, and a change of the whole substance of the wine into that of His Blood; the which change has been fitly and properly termed • Transubstantiation.” And in the creed of Pius IV., this profession of faith is required of all who are or would be in communion with the Roman See: “That there is made a conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood; which conversion the Catholic Church calls Transubstantiation."
Now that when the consecration of the natural elements of bread and wine, by the authority and command of our Lord, there is granted and effected, by the Holy Ghost, the true and real presence of the living substance of our Lord's Body and Blood, must certainly be believed ; for so much as this is plainly and of absolute necessity to be inferred from our Lord's words, “ This is My Body,” and “ This is My Blood." For just as much as our bodily senses assure us that here is bread and wine, so does our faith in these words assure us that here is “verily and indeed” the Lord's Body and Blood.
But it is the definition of the mode of the presence which is the cause of our difficulty.
For it is, confessedly, of the presence of a living spiritual substance, even of the very substance of the Body of the Son of God, concerning which we speak. And it must be acknowledged, most surely, that we simply know nothing of the laws or the modes of operation which belong to such spiritual substances.
Into the laws which govern the operations of the powers of nature we have searched, and many of them we have ascertained beyond doubt ; but who of us knows one law of operation belonging to the powers of spirit and of life? All of them are beyond the perception of our bodily senses, and lie out of the sphere of our human reason.
If we exercise our reason within its own proper sphere, it is well ; and its just conclusions we may rely upon. But if we attempt to exercise it in the sphere of spirit and of life, its conclusions, to say the least, may be utterly futile and useless; because we have simply no knowledge of the nature and laws of spirit and of life to go upon.