Images de page
PDF
ePub

a sermon; and the sermon over, Barnes (one of the six delinquents) turned to the people, declaring that “ he was more charitably handled than he deserved, his heresies were so heinous and detestable. There was no other religious service; mass had perhaps been said previous to the admission into the church of heretics lying under censure ; and the knight marshal led the prisoners down from the stage to the fire underneath the crucifix. They were taken within the rails and three times led round the blazing pile, casting in their fagots as they passed. The contents of the baskets were heaped upon the fagots, and the holocaust was complete. This time an innocent sacrifice was deemed sufficient. The Church was satisfied with penance, and Fisher pronounced the prisoners absolved and received back into communion.'

A strange scene, truly ! in which the folly of grave men, professing and believing themselves religious, was marvelously illustrated. The effect produced by it on the multitude may be supposed to have been of a various but questionable character. Something of awe might be inspired in the minds of craven and superstitious Catholics ; but as regards the Protestants, the feeling most probably excited was one of profound contempt, mixed with a secret sense of the solemn ridiculousness of the proceeding. The men whom the tragedies of Smithfield failed to terrify, were not likely to be deeply affected by a melodramatic exhibition of blazing paper.

In our next section we shall relate a story of more human interest, a story in which the persecution is revealed with its authentic lights and shadows, unexaggerated by theatrical display; and which, in its minute simplicity and earnestness, brings us face to face with that old world, where men like ourselves lived, worked, and suffered, tbree centuries ago.

THEOLOGY REVEALED.*

In the preface to this book, Mr. Spurgeon informs us that 'the cry of the day is, anay with creeds and bodies of divinity, ostensibly from reverence to the Bible, and attachment to charity, but at bottom from a hatred of definite truth, and especially of the doctrine of grace.' 'It is a very high honour to our systems of divinity that the gentlemen of the new school cannot endure them. Our hope

' A Handbook of Revealed Theology.' By the Rev. John Stock, with a prefatory notice, by the Rev. C. H. SPURGEON. Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row.

for sound divinity rests with the next generation. If we can avoid the errors of the past, and teach again dogmatic theology with Luther-like positiveness, and Calvinistic clearness, we shall see the rising waves of error broken into harmless spray against the rocky foundations of the Church. With these ideas in his mind, Mr. Spurgeon gave a commission to Mr. Stock, the respectable Baptist minister of Devonport, to produce a ‘body of divinity, which should, by its decisive force, finally settle the controversies of Christendom, and present a 'full exposition of the teachings of God's word.' Mr. Spurgeon is so good as to prefix to the volume an assurance that,

as a whole, it has his cordial approval ;' and he has accordingly purchased five hundred copies for the use of the young men in the Theological Institute at the Tabernacle.

Here then, at last, it might be presumed that we should find our sixteen ounces to the pound. The book is put forth as par ercellence a representation of the old substantial gospel verities ;' as 'old theology ;' as genuine ‘Calvinism,'in opposition to the emasculated theories which have so generally supplanted the Calvinism of our fathers;' in opposition to the attenuated theology of modern days, 'the drivelling and starving negativism of these times.' It is impossible to deny that Mr. Stock understands the component elements of the theological avoirdupois pound much better than many others. He goes, certainly, a good way towards orthodoxy for such a negative epoch as ours; he exhibits a robust contempt for modern writers which must cheer the heart of every deacon at the Southwark Tabernacle. For example, that trumpery sciolist, and pernicious German rationalist, Dr. Alford, Dean of Canterbury, says in the preface to his edition of the Greek Testament: “With regard to verbal inspiration, I take the sense of it to be, as explained by its most strenuous advocates, that every word and phrase of the Scriptures is absolutely and seperately true, and whether narrative or discourse, took place or was said in every most exact particular as set down.' 'It belongs to my present work to try this theory by applying it to the Gospels as we have them. And I do not hesitate to say, that being thus applied, its effect will be to destroy altogether the credibility of the Evangelists. The fact is, this theory uniformly gives way before intelligent study of the Scriptures themselves, and is only held, consistently and thoroughly, by those who have never undertaken that study. When put forth by those who have, it is never carried fairly through, but while broadly asserted, it is in detail abandoned.'- Vol. i. p. 21. Mr. Stock has kept himself wholly free from these puerile 'negativisms of Dr. Alford. He comes out at the beginning of his book with these round affirmations : 'If the Bible be an inspired book at all, in the sense in which Christians ordinarily understand that phrase, then its inspi

ration must, from the nature of the case, extend to its words. Thoughts cannot be inspired apart from the inspiration of the words that convey them. The Holy Spirit made use of the various degrees of culture of Paul and Luke as media, just as a musician uses the instrument on which he plays. But Paul and Luke were simply the amanuenses of the inspiring Comforter, as the pipe or reed is but the medium through which the musician discourses his melodious strains. Surely, here we have a safe defence of revelation at last ! and we sincerely hope that poor deluded Dr. Alford will lay to heart the preceding statements, which have Mr. Spurgeon's 'cordial approval. No doubt, if anything can specially aid the public belief in Christianity just at this moment, it is an out-and-out defence of verbal inspiration. The phenomena of the Old and New Testaments offer so striking a commentary on it, that we doubt not all students of divinity henceforth will be ready to throw their ' Alford' behind the fire ! Mr. Stock has supplied this lack in modern English theology at a signally important crisis, and if unlimited effrontery of assertion takes the place of argument, it is only neological minds who will venture to complain.

We cannot, however, give Mr. Stock that full praise for rigid orthodoxy which he would desire, since in one important point of his system, we observe that he has been carried away by the attenuated theology of modern days.' Indeed he is, after all, somewhat of a negative theologian. He has drawn back from the 'glorious old faith' of Luther and Calvin, and the Reformation divines, and has little right to set himself forth as a reproducer of their ideas. We must explain, and we commend the case to Mr. Spurgeon's particular attention. He must suspend Mr. Stock’s license, for he is a dangerous innovator. The case is this. The old divines were unanimous in the doctrine that death, temporal, spiritual and eternal, by which last they designed endless misery, descended upon Adam as the result of his transgression; and in strict logical consistency, in interpreting the fifth chapter of Romans, they maintained that the same three deaths descended upon Adam's posterity; so that an infant is born not only liable to die here in the body-not only infected with 'spiritual death,' but liable to everlasting misery in consequence of Adam's fault, and quite apart from its own transgressions. It was held by all the great Reformation divines, by Luther, by Calvin, by Melancthon, and by the 'great Puritan writers,' that a child was born de jure in a state of damnation, so that God would be acting in perfect justice if He consigned these little fiends to a congenial hell for ever. It is quite useless and dishonest to deny or conceal that this was the old orthodox theology, and that it continued to be maintained, at least in Scotland, until recent years.

Dr. Anderson tells us in his treatise on infant salvation, that it is only within the last fifty years that the majority

of Scottish divines would hear of the salvation of all moribund infants. It was universally held that numbers of them, not being elect, went to hell for ever to glorify the divine justice. In full accordance with this scheme of theology is the Ninth Article of the Church of England: Original sin standeth not on the following of Adam, as the Pelagians do vainly talk, but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousDess (in the Latin, quam longissime, which is stronger still), and is of his own nature inclined to evil, and therefore in every person born into this world it deserveth GOD'S WRATH AND DAMNATION.' Nothing can be clearer than these words. They intend that a babe is born liable to everlasting misery for Adam's sin, and for the

possession of a corrupt nature transmitted from Adam. It follows, of course, that a babe may justly be sent to hell for ever. The Church of England provides salvation for babes by Baptismal Regeneration ; but this very salvation implies a previous danger. A child is born in a state of damnation, and dying in infancy, may quite justly be sent to unending woe. This, we maintain, is the old sound Calvinistic theology. Now, what has Mr. Stock done in this lax little hand-book ? He admits that a babe is born mortal in consequence of Adam's sin ; he maintains that a babe is born as bad as it can be ;' the corruption is total,' that is, it'extends to every power both of soul and body. Up to this point he is quite sound; but when he comes to the third point, will the orthodox reader believe that Mr. Stock preserves a complete silence as to the descent of the curse of eternal misery, that is eternal death, upon Adam's infant posterity. He positively says not one word on that precious and fundamental doctrine of the justly damnable character of infants in consequence of original sin. He contents himself with saying, that 'de facto no one will perish for Adam's transgression,' because Christ has died. What does Mr. Stock know about de facto ? The question is about de jure ; and is he, in his reckless neological spirit, prepared to deny that de jure original sin as it exists in infants, deserves God's wrath and damnation ? If he is, we can only say to the young men of the Tabernacle, ‘Beware of him !

He is a wolf in sheep's clothing! It is all a pretence that he is giving you a representation of the old Reformation theology. It is a sham and a shame. It is rationalism in a flagrant and dangerous form. He shrinks from affirming the sentence of eternal misery on infants as their just inheritance, from some corrupt feeling of mere human justice or compassion. Let Mr. Stock Leware. Obsta principiis. If he proceed much further in this direction, he will be branded with negativism beyond recovery.

We trust that Mr. Spurgeon will insist upon the revision of this part of Mr. Stock’s volume, since the principle admitted by Mr. Stock is fatal to the whole

scheme propounded. If the death' descending on infants be not 'eternal death,' that is, of course, eternal suffering, how shall we be able consistently to affix that meaning to the term when it occurs elsewhere, in relation to heathens and adults. Mr. Stock may say, Stat pro ratione voluntas. He may imagine, as he evidently does on several occasions, that a good round affirmation on his part, backed by Mr. Spurgeon's 'cordial approval,' settles a disputed point ; but he will find that he has here left open a joint in his armour where the

very vitals of his system can be reached, and that he is safe only in a consistent, honest, thorough-going adhesion to the theology of the Reformation. Calvin would have given him a lesson on the defects of his chapter On the Fall of Man,' which he would never have forgotten to his dying day. Meantime, we commend this heterodox division of his work to Mr. Stock's renewed meditations. If he should persist in vindicating his right to reason in this daring manner against the doctrines of Calvin, it is inevitable that he will give an excuse to all the 'rationalists' of whom he speaks so hardly, to go and do likewise. His loud-mouthed denunciations of his contemporaries will be accounted quite an intolerable impertinence.

Mr. Stock, however, atones for this serious lapse into rationalism by the strictness of his belief on every other matter pertaining to the nature and the fall of man. We would not impair his reputation. It is impossible not to bear testimony to the general proclivity of his mind towards the positions of the 'old theology,' and to the truly orthodox disposition, evinced by the easy passage given to the slight critical evidence which he admits as sufficient to establish those positions. Nothing can more clearly show a man's goodwill towards a cause than the facility with which he receives any argument in its favour. It is due to the author to give an example. The question arises concerning the • Origin of souls.' Are they created by a direct exertion of divine power, or are they ex traduce ? The evidence from analogy is first given in brief ; “the egg produces a perfect bird ;' the 'lion a perfect lion,' &c. Then it follows: 'All this amounts only to a strong probability. If there be positive testimony on the opposite side in the Holy Scriptures, the force of testimouy cannot be sbaken by analogy, taken from the production of beings inferior to man.' It may be that this direct creation of the soul by God is one of the attributes by which, as well as others, man is distinguished from the brutes.'

Then follow the 'passages of Scripture which ascribe to Jehovah a peculiar share in the production of human souls, a more direct interposition than that concerned in the formation of the body.' These are—Jehovah formeth the spirit of man within him : Zech. xii. 1. 'He is the God of the spirits of all flesh : Numb. xvi. 22. The spirit shall return to God who gave it: Eccl. xii. 7. The spirit would fuil before

[ocr errors]
« PrécédentContinuer »