Page images

those doctrines which establish an equality of nature between the created and the Creator.” “Some, believing that the principle which emanates from God can do nothing without his will, and can refrain from nothing that he wills, altogether deny the existence of evil. They are complete optimists: everything is good with them, religion and infidelity, the lawful and the unlawful.” - The Nazarenes," say they, “are not infidels because they deem Jesus a God, but because they deem him alone a God.”

In concluding the present Article, we give a paraphrase of the remarks of Tholuck upon the subjective origin of the doctrine of “union.”

“ There is almost no religion,” says our author, “that does not attribute many of the motions and affections of our souls to a certain superior guiding power, who according to his own good pleasure rules and sways the human heart. With regard to the extent of the Divine power which is thus put forth, neither Christians nor the world in general, bave ever been able to come to a satisfactory conclusion. The philosopher concedes none to God; the Calvinists, with Augustine at their head, leave none for man; while the Lutherans have chosen, unsteadily indeed, but nevertheless with wisdom, a medium course.

This discussion in which Christian theologians have striven to determine merely how much is to be attributed to Divine agency in the reform of the life, has been turned aside by the Mystics into questions of much greater difficulty. For they have gone on to inquire, to what “ principium” our other actions are to be referred ; and they ended in the conclusion that God must be regarded as the sole fountain of all human actions. Pursuing the same strain of argument, they infer that nature in its inner nucleus and source is divine, and that he who withdraws his mind from things corporeal to his own essence which exists in perfect purity within the recesses of his breast, he having drawn nearer to the Deity, as it were, is able to hear His voice. The error of the Soofees, therefore, is identical with that which has caused so many Christians to fall into mysticism and pantheism. For this question of " free-will" has vexed the Mohammedan theology not less than our own. The doctrine of " Divine influence" holds as high place in their system as in that of Christians.

“Unceasingly,” says Dschamius," a Divine affluence (copia) flows down from the world unknown into souls." And Dschelaleddin : “ Into the breast of Omar floweth the voice of God, which is the root of all speech and of every language. All other tongues whatsoever, that which the Turk, the Persian, the Arab understands, are but echoings of this. But why speak of Turk and Arab? Nay, even the wood and stone are but repercussions of this voice; for in what mo

Their Idea of Prayer.

245 ment soever it shall please God to cry aloud, · Alist? (i. e. Art thou not a creature of mine ?), matter replies, · Beli" (Even so).

“But while natural philosophers use the words .copia' and 'vox' (affluence or power-word), moral philosophers have chosen the term attractio.' Thus we read that God in the first place draws' towards Himself by attractive' influences, so that his servant may turn his mind in the direction whence the attraction comes, and may be lighted up with love. Then follows the second step or the iter' (the journey), and this is divided into two parts, the journey unto God, and into God, but ends at last in the ascent up to heaven.''

“When we reflect upon these things, the real source of this dogma of union becomes abundantly plain. The union' itself may be defined to be, a steady bending of the mind upon God-a tranquil drinking in of the affluence that flows thence into the minds of mortals, so that those divine notions which we otherwise experience but scantily and only for single moments, then unitedly and in one flood as it were, whelm the soul in their tide and bear it away to Deity.”

Now the seeds of this doctrine are most evidently contained in every religion which acknowledges the operance of Divine power upon the human heart. And so easily did they take root and grow, that we find this doctrine, or something very much like it, even in the writings of Ghasalius, that man of renewed orthodoxy, and hater of fanatics,

In his chapter on “prayers,” occurs the following. “ Prayers are of three degrees (involucra), of which the first are those that are simply spoken with the lips. Prayers are of the second kind, when with difficulty, and only by a most resolute effort, the soul is able to fix its thoughts on Divine things without being disturbed by evil imaginations; of the third kind, when one finds it difficult to turn away the mind from dwelling on Divine things. But it is the very marrow of prayer, when He who is invoked takes possession of the soul of the suppliant, and the soul of him who prays is absorbed into God to whom he prays, and his prayer ceasing, all consciousness of self has departed, and to such a degree, that all thought whatsoever of the praying is felt as a veil betwixt the soul and God. This state-adds Gbasalius—is called by the Mystics absorption,' for the reason that the man is so absorbed that he takes no thought of his body, or of

· This language is not so very unlike what we hear in our own day. There is the “awakening" corresponding to the "attractio;" the “ seeking” (iter); the "finding" (unto God); and next, “ communion” or “union" with God (into); and among some enthusiasts, a state answering even to the Soofic “ascent to heaven," may be found in the " trance."

anything that happens externally, none of what occurs in his own soul, but, absent as it were from all such matter whatsoever, is first engaged in going toward his Lord, and finally is wholly in his Lord. If only the thought occurs that he is absorbed into the Absolute, it is a blemish; for that absorption only is worthy of the name which is unconscious of itself. And these words of mine, although they will be called, as I well know, but foolish babbling by raw theologians, are yet by no means without significance. For consider. The condition of which I speak, resembles that of a person who loves any other object, as wealth, honor, or pleasure. We see such persons so carried away with their love, and others with anger, that they do not hear one who speaks to them, nor see those passing before their eyes ; nay, so absorbed are they in their passion, that they do not perceive their absorption. Just so far as you turn your mind upon your absorption, you necessarily turn it away from that which is the object of it.”

Again he says : “The commencement of this is the going to God (ad Deum), then follows the finding Him (in Deum), when the absorption' takes place. This, at first, is momentary, as the lightning swiftly glancing upon the eye. But afterwards, confirmed by use, it introduces the soul into a higher world, where the most pure, essential essence meeting it, fills the soul with the image of the spiritual world, while the majesty of deity evolves and discovers itself.”

Says Tholuck : “ He who has seen these examples, and given them a diligent examination, will cease, as I think, to search further for the origin of the doctrine of.union.' For who can have failed to observe the close bond of connection which exists between pure and genuine piety and the dreams of enthusiasm ? And who has not noted that succession of steps, of which the earlier demand a simple deroutness merely, while the later ones fade into the fume and vapor of fanaticism?

“ The question, How far this power, which instils itself into the human mind and fills it, and bears it aloft, how far this flows from man's own nature, as from something divine and of independent existence, and how far from Deity, this I know not whether it is within the scope of any mortal to determine. It is certainly beyond mine. Whatever philosophers may guage concerning this matter, the disciples of Christ will never assign to the human mind a higher place than as a vessel or an instrument to receive divine gifts.

“ The Soofees always professed—and this deserves our special attention—that the foundation of their doctrine lay in the maxim,

Nosce teipsum.' By this, they assuredly add themselves to the number of those mystics, according to whose theory the nature of the mind, 1849.] Müller's Christian Doctrine of Sin.

247 although one of the greatest simplicity as well as dignity, affords of itself, when correctly and skilfully developed, a knowledge of divine ideas and realities.

“ But some may, perchance, inquire, What were those deceptions by which the Soofees were led to imagine that, in very truth, by this

union,' they could attain divine knowledge? lanswer, with Cicero: the same happens to ourselves, when we meditate diligently and continuously upon the mind, as they were wont to do. Those who gaze intently upon the sun in eclipse, frequently lose their eyesight altogether. So the eye of the mind, turned to gaze upon itself, is sometimes paralyzed. But this very paralysis is called, by the mystics, the moment of absorption, for the reason that then, not less than in the contemplation of God, all thought and all self-consciousness ceases. In this misty and torpid state of the mind, how easily one person can come to believe that he has been made a participator of divine life, and another that he has received into his mind the Supreme Divinity himself, no one finds it difficult to understand, especially when he remembers how, with many of these mystics, the powers of both body and mind are broken down by rigid fastings, and other macerations of the flesh.”

There are several other chapters in this interesting book, giving the speculations of the Soofees upon the creation of the world, our first parents, free-will, and connected subjects ; but our limits do not permit further extracts.



By Edward Robie, Assistant Instructor in Hebrew, Andover Theological Seminary.

[In the August Number of the Bibliotheca Sacra, 1848, we gave a brief abstract of the first book of Müller's Christliche Lehre von der Sünde, on the Nature and Guilt of Sin. The following Article is an outline of the remaining part of the work. It will be seen that the author unhesitatingly admits the generally received doctrine of the native depravity of man; but the view, which this doctrine leads him to take of the origin of sin, will probably be dissented from. Neither is it generally received by the theologians of his own country. It is an interesting and encouraging fact, that the attention of the theological world is now directed more particularly to Theology than to Anthropology ; but the deeper and clearer our views are of sin, so much the truer and more comprehensive will be our view of Redemption.-E. R.)

§ 3. The Origin of Sin. In order that man may be accounted guilty for the sin which is in him, it is necessary that he be its author. Most of the theories which have been given for the explanation of sin do, in fact, destroy its guilt, and thus deny its reality, inasmuch as they make it to be the necessary result of influences for which man is not responsible. To maintain the reality of sin, it will be necessary to point out in the sinner a principle of such power and independency, that it can originate actions for which it alone is responsible, and thereby place a limit beyond which the origin of sin is absolutely not to be sought. Such a principle is the human will. Generally man is conscious of necessity only when the determining power is an external one. Only when he strikes upon obstacles, and finds himself hindered in the prosecution of his effort, does he feel the power of necessity over him. He is aware of necessity only so far as it is constraint. It needs, however, but a little observation of the phenomena of human life to be convinced that besides this external necessity, which limits the sphere of human action, there is also an inner necessity arising from the agent himself, and determining the course of his action. The soul of man is not originally tabula rasa; but it is rather to be regarded as a closed book; it contains, in itself, a multitude of tendencies, and these are not the same in all, but are different and peculiar in the sexes, races, nations and individuals. It is an inner necessity, with which already in the plays of children the opposition of sex and the peculiarity of the individual is revealed. If the youth embraces a calling for life, he is to be regarded as happy, if he was not led to it by a calculation and comparison of consequences, but by the certainty of a higher instinct, by an undoubting consciousness of his peculiar destination. The artist, the poet wavers not, chooses not in the original conception of his creations, but feels himself borne onward and altogether pervaded by the silent necessity of nature with which Genius works in him. The more completely his plan succeeds, the less does it occur to him that, perhaps, he could have done otherwise. Such are the mighty personalities which early, as if it must be so, devote themselves to an important purpose, and with undivided, unhesitating energy hold it fast for life. In political

« PreviousContinue »