« PreviousContinue »
During her sojourn in Tranmere she worked a large Bible district, and made about fifty visits each week. At that time there was not one Sundayschool in or near Tranmere, and her family being still young, and wishing to let her servant attend public worship every Sunday evening, she prepared her large kitchen, and gathered in all the little untaught children of the neighbourhood, and with her youngest child on her knee and single-handed, she taught them the way of salvation. This attempt so prospered, the attendance becoming from sixty to seventy persons, that she induced Mrs. H. Bairstow to open her kitchen also for a similar purpose; and this effort was also crowned with like success. The two ladies often reciprocated their joyful experience. Mrs. Townshend was reaping the rich reward of early-life dedication to God's service, and was intent on sowing the seed in children's hearts. The Rev. John H. James, when Minister of the Circuit, spending an evening at Mrs. Townshend's with Mrs. Bairstow, suggested that all the children of both classes should have a good tea in the large Club-room on Holt-Hill, friends who might join them being charged one shilling each to clear expenses. Unexpectedly, they found the room crowded to excess by both the wealthy and the poor. After tea, the Minister presiding asked the two ladies to tell the history of the forming and carrying on of their classes, and their success; and they were enabled to give statements of the plain facts, which so interested their friends that, in a month's time, the Established Church opened the first regular Sunday-school in Tranmere, in that very room. They were closely followed by the Wesleyans in their loved old chapel. The present flourishing school of Wesley Chapel, Tranmere, is the continuation of that effort.
Although deeply imbued with true humility, yet firmly believing God would bless faithful efforts made in His name, Mrs. Townshend succeeded in forming and carrying on some eminently blessed Cottage Prayer-meetings, and many were in them induced to choose the Lord for their God, and many happy deaths testified to their efficacy. Numbers, as they came under conviction, or on the approach of death, sent for Mrs. Townshend, who always took care to visit such. The members of her Class will ever recollect her ready aid and the true sympathy with which she entered into every effort to relieve the necessitous. Her presence inspired cheerfulness and confidence among her fellow-workers.
At last her increasing infirmities checked her willing spirit. Latterly she read and worked much at home, and also contributed to the general profit and interest of the Dorcas Meetings by reading to the members good, instructive, entertaining books. She specially prized her morning two hours spent in reading the Gospels and St. Paul's Epistles. She rejoiced heartily in every accession of proof to the inspiration and Divine authority of the Bible. Her family and immediate friends thanked God for such a rich ripening for glory. Her face was sunshine, and her spirit so joyous that her youth was renewed like the eagle's.'
On the second Sabbath after her last birthday (September 8th, 1878),
being seventy-nine years old, she expressed a wish that no panegyric should be uttered to her memory; adding, that she wondered at God's unceasing love to her, it was ever following her. Thus she approached her last day on earth. On November 7th she received visits from her family and friends in the forenoon; met her Class as usual in the afternoon, raised the tune for the hymn, but did not say much. Afterwards she was very cheerful at tea, to which her Minister stayed; her conversation was very lively and interesting as she related several anecdotes of her youth. She said that during that day she had rejoiced at finding some additional proof of the authenticity of the Bible, and its agreement with the ascertained facts of science.
About ten o'clock, feeling some chill and a slight pain in her throat and chest, she retired, and was very ill for about half an hour; and then she lay back, and while some verses of the twenty-third Psalm, and the words of Christ: Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end,' were repeated, she raised her hands appreciatively, and in a few minutes, with the words upon her ear: 'Jesu, Lover of my soul,
her spirit quietly escaped. Thus ceased at once to
Let me to Thy bosom fly,'
was not, for God took' her. work and live on earth one of God's faithful servants. Thus beautifully the sunshine of her earthly life went out, to revive with more glorious lustre in the city of her God.
IN a former Paper (July, 1880) I endeavoured to show that the Scriptures represent Sanctification as essentially a separation to the service of God, and therefore a separation from all sin; that but for the presence of sin, no such separation to service would be necessary or intelligible; and that the ascription of holiness to Jehovah is the consequence of a contrast between Himself and His fallen creatures. At the same time, it was observed that for the practical purposes of the Christian life, this conclusion is insufficient. The object of the enquiry is to determine, if possible, what is the nature and degree of that holiness to which, in their earthly life, all Chris
tians are called, and by what means they may attain unto it. To say, therefore, that Christian holiness is separation from all sin unto Divine service is, or may be, to give one unknown in the terms of another unknown. Consequently, we must ascertain what we are to understand by sin, at least in relation to present responsibilities and privileges. This will involve two questions, both of which must, sooner or later, be answered. They may be clearly distinguished, and cannot without peril be confounded. The one is: What is sin? The other: What is imputed as sin? The former has reference to the administration of law; the latter, to the administration of an
economy of grace. For the present, we must concern ourselves with the former: What is sin?
To this question St. John, in his First Epistle (iii. 4), gives a brief and instructive answer: Sin is lawlessness.' Having this answer, we might go on at once to ask: And what is the law.' But we must pause. In human jurisprudence, that which is legal is not always right. Laws themselves, not infrequently, are utterly wrong. Our English forms of legal procedure have ever recognised a distinction between jus and lex, between law and equity. Manifestly, human laws are referable to a higher standard. And the Scriptures themselves testify concerning the Divine law, that it 'is holy, and the commandment holy, and just and good.' What, then, is this ultimate standard which seems to be presupposed in all law? What is right?
This very old question appears to involve three distinct enquiries: What 'right' is? When is anything right? What things are right? To the first it has been correctly answered that 'right' is not an entity. It has no concrete, separate existence. The term expresses the quality, 'rightness'; and this implies agreement with a duly-authorized standard. In order to answer the second and third enquiries, we must determine the ultimate standard of appeal in matters of morality. But this, of necessity, leads us to the battle-field of the philosophies. And yet to call it a battle-field scarcely agrees with the scene before us. It is a mêlée, most difficult to describe and most carefully to be avoided. Our observations shall be as brief as possible.
Truth and morality are essentially connected. The moral agent must be guided by his knowledge of duty and responsibility. Hence the sciences of mental and moral philosophy are inseparably intertwined. To one who wishes to know accurately the
ultimate standard of appeal in morals, the question as to the sources whence and the means by which knowledge may be obtained, is of the utmost importance. Around this question the conflict has raged, and its fierceness has been in proportion to the confusion.
So far as any classification of the combatants is possible in mental philosophy, they may be regarded as holding one of two conflicting theories concerning the sources of knowledge. On the one side may be placed those who affirm that all knowledge of the not-self is derived entirely from the not-self as the result of experience. These are the experimentalists. On the other side are those who, whilst they admit the foregoing theory as to things in general, contend that there is also a knowledge of the not-self, independent of and prior to experience.
The former of these two theories admits of several modifications. Experience is a term of wide application. It includes all the phenomena of consciousness, whether they belong to the outer or to the inner life, attendant upon reflection or external observation. External observation may be carried on personally or by proxy. The results of observation by proxy become our own by means of testimony; and when we accept the experience of another in place of our own observation, then we know
by faith we know.' This is the source of by far the greater part of knowledge, for every man and in every science.
The forms of experimental philosophy greatly differ. It will suffice if we distinguish three of them. The materialist identifies 'self' with a sensitive material organism having its environment of matter, by whose varying influences it is variously affected. The effects so produced are, individually, 'sensations'; and in their combined result, 'knowledge.' So I understand the teaching. I do
not stay to discuss it, since it lies not in our pathway. The sensationalist, when not a materialist, recognises the sensitive organism and the material environment, together with its varying influences. But he also recognises a conscious self, as distinct from the ever-changing material organism with which it is associated. He recognises mental activity in perception, and deduces laws of thought, as he does laws of matter, from the results of his observations. He may do all this, and more, and yet remain a pure sensationalist. He might acknowledge the reality of an external Divine revelation, and still maintain, as the law of life for man, that the knowing self derives all its knowledge from experience, without the intervention of any mental activity other than its own.
These, however, do not exhaust the resources of the experimental philosophy. There is another school as definite as any, and one which, possibly, is of all the philosophies the nearest to truth. Between the knowing self, with its mental activity and material organism, and the not-self, this third theory interposes the mental activity of the knowing not-self. In other words, between the learner and the lesson it recognises the living teacher, whether human or Divine. Of this essential link between the unconscious babe and the stores of truth which surround it, we must speak again.
The intuitional philosophy was expounded sufficiently for our present purposes in the Fernley Lecture for 1879. We are there told that 'our intuitions of time, space and causality are born with us, but lie hidden till developed by experience. So our moral intuitions are born with us, but need to be deepened, defined and authorized by God's revelation of Himself in providence and grace.' Thus men possess 'an innate consciousness of the distinc
tion between right and wrong.' This common moral consciousness makes known to every child of man 'what "right" is,' so that any definition of right is unnecessary.' (P. 3.) But we are also told that 'man's conscious energies appear in the three forms of intelligence, feeling, and will and desire. They are the workings of faculties which themselves remain in unconsciousness. The hidden preparedness for conscious activity is what is termed the constitution.... The conscious energies are the outcome of the unconscious constitution.' (P. 22.) Manifestly there is some confusion here in the use of terms. The new-born infant has no 'conscious energies,' so far as we can discover. Indeed, it is allowed that its innate intuitions 'lie hidden until developed by experience.' They are, therefore, merely 'faculties, and belong to the unconscious constitution.' But how can an innate consciousness of a distinction' 'lie hidden' 'in unconsciousness'? How can there be a consciousness of a distinction' when there is no knowledge of the things distinguished? If, indeed, it is meant that in the original constitution of the soul there are latent possibilities which experience afterwards develops into faculties for the perception of truth and the reception of knowledge; or if it is meant that the faculties are themselves there and need only to be called into exercise, then these opinions are by no means peculiar to intuitionalism; nor do they concern only the ideas of time, space and causality. They are equally true as to form, colour, harmony, the properties of rectilineals and of curves. But if it is held that the infant possesses any innate knowledge whatsoever, the whole theory is unproven and is contrary to experience. Time, space and causality' are no more 'entities' than are 'right' and 'wrong.' None of these terms have
any meaning apart from concrete things and their perceived relationships. Right cannot be morally distinguished except by one who can appreciate action and responsibility, an acknowledged standard and divergencies from that standard. Mr. French admits that experience and revelation are essential. How is it proved that these innate intuitions,' so-called, have any existence apart from experience and revelation? Historically, the ideas of time, space and causality are the outcome of patient and prolonged instruction. And the common moral consciousness,' which is supposed to be the possession of every child of man, is never found except as awakened, directly or indirectly, by the Living Teacher. It is misleading to say that 'the supernatural everywhere presupposes the natural and builds upon it.' The supernatural lays its own foundation and rears its own superstructure. The light of nature,' as it is called, which no one would wish to put out, is itself' not merely 'a sort of natural revelation.' It is rather to be recognised as an actual, however partial, revelation of God in and to the soul of man, restored to him by Divine energy, as a part of 'the free gift' which hath come upon all men unto justification of life.'
It seems to me, therefore, that Mr. French yields unnecessarily and somewhat too hastily, when he admits that as soon as our mental and moral constitution is viewed, as modified by supernatural influences, the philosopher oversteps his province and enters that of the divine.' (P. 73.) For if this be so, then the craft of the mental and moral philosopher is at an end. If he may not view human nature as modified by supernatural influences, he cannot view it at all. Man is born in sin,' and therefore with nothing 'innate,' except what is in accord
ance with his fallen condition. me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good.' 'The thoughts of the imaginations of his heart are only evil, continually.' But what man is as thus 'born,' no one can by observation determine; for no sooner does he become a member of the race, than the redemption-grace brings him into direct relations with the Spirit of God. From that moment onwards his mental and moral life is modified by supernatural influences.' No system of mental and moral philosophy, therefore, can be accepted as reasonable if it ignores the facts set forth in Scripture, or refuses to recognise the presence and influence of the superhuman. It is not a question about original mental constitution, undeveloped faculties, mental activity in perception, and fixed laws of thought. Recognising all these, it may still be true that our knowledge of the not-self is derived entirely from the not-self as the result of experience, and chiefly through the mediation of the knowing not-self, the living teacher. In securing this result, the parent, the tutor and the prophet are, or should be, the ministers of God. Ultimately, He is His own interpreter. To Him we look for our standard of appeal. Has He made it known?
It must be carefully noted that we are seeking the standard of 'rightness' for man. I emphasize this, because Mr. French says that if we would consider the term "rectitude" as a quality of the mind, or the term "right" as a notion that comes before the mind-we can only do so by placing the created and the uncreated side by side,and by affirming the absolute identity of the distinction between right and wrong in God and in man.' (P. 2.) Now, supposing that the intellectual feat could be accomplished, the affirmation could not truthfully be made. That which is 'right' for the Creator