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church alone possessed a moral power; it maintained and promulgated the idea of a precept, of a law superior to all human authority; it promulgated the great truth which forms the only foundation of our hope for humanity."1
The want of comparing the two systems of morals, pagan and Christian, in their fundamental principles, might be further urged against the history before us. This has appeared hitherto, but, as bearing on Christianity, especially, deserves, in concluding this criticism, a distinct notice. If Lecky aimed at giving us the fruits of the two systems, he has succeeded much better in showing how these sprang from their principles on the pagan, than on the Christian, side; while it is in their principles rightly represented that the true difference appears.
Now, we cannot be just to Christianity without regarding it as a system of instruction of a unique and peculiar character, which instruction is intended for the life, and which through the life reforms society and gives tone to public morals. While being examined at the bar of Pilate, Jesus
1 Guizot's History of Civilization Vol. i. p. 54. We cannot refrain from quoting from many that might be selected, the following passage, that may be found in Vol. iii. p. 198: "It is in the alliance of intellectual liberty, as it shone in antiquity, with the intellectual power as it showed itself in Christian societies, that we find the great and original character of modern civilization; and it is, without doubt, in the bosom of the revolution effected by Christianity in the spiritual and temporal orders of thought and of the exterior world, that this new revolution has taken its origin and its first point of support." It is a fact for which we should be grateful, that the author of the "History of Civilization," when apparently through with the work of a long and useful life, employs his setting sun in defending Christianity against the assaults of naturalistic infidelity.
Of that book which is, and ever has been, the authority and instrument of the church, Coleridge says: "For more than a thousand years the Bible, collectively taken, has gone hand in hand with civilization, science, and law; in short, with the moral and intellectual cultivation of the species, always supporting, and often leading the way. Its very presence as a believed book, has rendered the nations emphatically a chosen race; and this too in exact proportion as it is more or less generally known and studied. . . Good and holy men, and the best and wisest of mankind, the kingly spirits of history, enthroned in the hearts of mighty nations have borne witness to its influence, have declared it to be beyond compare the most perfect instrument, the only adequate organ of humanity."- Coleridge's Works (Shedd's ed.), Vol. v. p. 611.
said: "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth" (John xviii. 37). He bore witness, in word and deed, to the guilt and ruin of sin, on the one hand, and to the need and possibility of human salvation through a divine interposition, on the other. His disciples were to be witnesses of that truth which has Himself as its centre and validity. And it is certain that the apostles did preach salvation through Christ alone (Acts ii. 32-39; iv. 12; xx. 21). For the doctrines which they believed and taught, and which they held dearer than life, they were persecuted, and their principles became the seed of the martyr-church. And whenever it has been a power and life-giving in its influence, awakening and directing the moral instincts of society, this has been due to the pure doctrine of the gospel being embraced and taught by the church.
Had the author of the History of Morals started in his estimate of Christianity as a civilizing agent with the facts of the gospel history, he might have found these connected with, or themselves becoming, doctrines constituent and inseparable parts of the Christian system. Finding — what the most thorough criticism, if it be candid, must admitthe gospel narrative credible, it would also follow that the recorded miracles, performed in the name or wrought by the direct power of that unique Person who is the leading character of the New Testament history, cannot be separated from it without destroying its integrity and impeaching its veracity. And, moreover, this "Christ of history" must be what he claims to be, and hence must have come into the world to save sinners, and this by bearing witness to God's holiness and man's guilt. And so of the need of redemption, on the one hand, and of the fact of redemption accomplished in his own person, including pardon, justification, and life, on the other. From this position, who can help seeing that these two cardinal truths man ruined by sin and saved by the supernatural grace of God - have always constituted the life, power, and leavening influence
of the true church of Christ on earth? Having come so far, it had then been easy to eliminate from the genuine principles of Christianity those excrescences which had in various ways connected themselves therewith, and by which for a long period those principles were obscured. Nor could it have been difficult to perceive the salutary influence, operating directly and indirectly upon society, of the great central doctrine of the New Testament at the time of the Reformation; in which case one could hardly find it necessary, against the light of history, to affirm the pagan literature of antiquity and the Mohammedan schools of science" to be "the chief agents in resuscitating the dormant energies of Christendom." Nor would it then be needful to treat a belief in human guilt and future retribution as groundless, nor to declare theology to be in the way of civilization, nor to disregard the objective evidence on which this theology is based and the divine authority for the principles of Christianity, nor to speak of the preaching of an "exclusive salvation" as if this were groundless. Least of all could it have been required, after having rejected the supernatural as an agent in the conversion of the Roman empire, — then, both to admit and declare the preaching of this exclusive religion, with its rewards and punishments, its attestation by miracles, and its authoritative appeal to faith in divine revelation, to be, after all and in fact, a most important reason for the spread of Christianity. Such inconsistency might have been avoided by coupling the legitimate fruits of the gospel with its principles. Indeed, had the test of principles been applied, the contrast between the pagan and the Christian morality if this was the leading aim of the writer, and very little is accomplished if it was not might have been made clear and impressive with a tithe of the illustrative facts employed, which now, for want thereof, tend rather to obscure than illustrate truth.
The words of the great Neander have much force, and they may, perhaps, suggest the reason why Lecky could not appreciate and not appreciating could not represent― the
true nature and influence of Christianity: "To understand history, it is supposed that we have some understanding of that which constitutes its working principle; but it is history which furnishes us the proper test by which to ascertain whether this principle has been rightly apprehended. Certainly, then, our understanding of the history of Christianity will depend on the conception we have formed to ourselves of Christianity itself. Now, Christianity we regard not as a power that has sprung up out of the hidden depths of man's nature, but as one which descended from above, because heaven opened itself for the rescue of revolted humanity — a power which, as it is exalted above all that human nature can create out of its own resources, must impart to that nature a new life, and change it from its inmost centre." 1
To conclude this criticism, for we do not speak of the chapter on the "Condition of Women," we may express our opinion that the work will doubtless be read, partly because of its entertaining style and matter, and partly because it so thoroughly falls into the current of modern thought, which ignores the supernatural in behalf of naturalism; and for these reasons it will mislead. But, if Christianity is from God, and is capable of vindicating itself as such; and, if truth is consistent, and destined to triumph over inconsistency and error- then a work so unsatisfactory psychologically, logically, and morally, so unsatisfactory as this is historically, theologically, and religiously — must soon give place to something better.
1 Introduction to Neander's Church History.
BY FREDERIC GARDINER, D.D., PROFESSOR IN THE BERKELEY DIVINITY SCHOOL, MIDDLETOWN, CONN.
MR. DARWIN had been long known to the scientific world before he propounded the theories which have now made his name familiar in every household. He was distinguished as a naturalist as well by the extent, variety, and accuracy of his observations as by the singular fairness of his statement of them. The most widely known among his many scientific works are probably his “Journal of Researches: Voyage of the Beagle," his investigations of the Orchids, and of the facts concerning climbing plants; the last accomplished during the author's confinement in a sick room. The first of these works has a more than technical interest, because the author compares the fauna and flora of many and diverse lands evidently with a mind already under the influence of those speculations which afterwards took form in the theory of "Natural Selection," and also because he recounts his experiences with the Fuegians and others of the lowest types of the human race. Of these experiences he makes large use in his "Descent of Man," and they have also afforded strong points to the assailants of his theory. His researches upon the Orchids have also served as the basis for opposite arguments. In both cases the faithfulness of his observations has been unquestioned; the controversy is on the inferences to be deduced from them.
The series of works, however, by which Mr. Darwin is most generally known are those in which he propounds, supports, and expands those theories which bear his name. The first of this series is entitled "The Origin of Species"